Have you walked through a warren of alleys, turned a corner and been startled by a cacophony of color, light and pattern? Visuals so loud and discordant that you had to blink three times to tone it down?
This happened to me in an outdoor market in Northern Thailand. I’d stumbled into hat makers alley. A place where ladies surrounded by gaily colored fabric, sewed ribbons of bubbles and baubles on to hats, aprons and vests. They draped themselves with vibrantly patterned scarves with no apparent concern for color harmony. The laughed and chattered among themselves, ignoring the tourist fidgeting with her camera and trying to isolate a shot.
Later when I uploaded my photos I ignored all of these photos. I had liked one but decided that the frame was too full with color and pattern. It was hard see the subject against the distraction of background.
Fast forward to years later. I’m searching through my catalog looking for interesting B&W portraits. I find this old photo and casually flick it to B&W. What a difference.
The moral of this story? Never discard photos that you like. Maybe your eye saw something your brain did not. Time will tell.
The Fancy Shawl dance is the most flamboyant and energetic of all Pow Wow women’s events. Performers skip and jump through the air while swirling their shawls in large sweeping gestures.
The category is a relatively new one, different from the more conservative styles of the Jingle and Traditional Women’s dance. Some say its origins lie in mimicking the transformation of a butterfly from a cocoon. Others say that it was created by women wanting to duplicate the complex foot work of the Men’s Fancy dance.
Saga says that the first time a woman (her friend) competed, she disguised herself as a man and entered the Men’s Fancy dance. Unexpectedly, she won! The judges decided it was time for change and they a created brand new dance category for women.
I especially liked these shots of Saga in her Fancy Shawl regalia. I thought the strong colors and striking poses looked powerful. That’s representative of the dance’s origins in both cases, don’t you think?
For more explanation of the different styles of Pow Wow dances I refer you to this article. Although dated, the post is comprehensive and complete. It is very informative and great prep for your next Pow Wow visit.
The very first time I went to a Native American Pow Wow, I remember walking through the grounds and being followed by a symphony of bells and wind chimes. When I looked around I was surprised to see a dancer in her Jingle dress right behind me.
The Jingle dress dance is a simple one. It is a ladies event and they jump up and down with their hands placed on their hips. It is mesmerizing to watch and so easy to get lost in the rhythm of the drums and metallic clink of the bells.
Saga (my model) says that each bell is hand made and sewn individually to the dress. There can be up to three hundred and sixty five bells, one for each day of the year. It’s extremely heavy! Imagine jumping around with all that metal on a hot summer day. Even so, Saga says that once she gets going, she slips in to a zone where all the discomfort disappears.
The Jingle dance is associated with healing qualities. The story goes that at the very first dance there was a sick little girl. The magic of the jingle dance roused her from her sickness and she awoke refreshed and cured.
For more history on the Jingle Dress, have a look at this documentary by PBS and produced with the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe.
The Jingle Dress Dance is a popular and powerful tradition that has spread throughout America’s Native communities. Ojibwe elders offer stories of its beginnings and its healing powers, and musicians demonstrate the unique songs and rhythms of the dance. Produced with the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe.
A new year is a good time to try something different.
After my less than illustrious foray into flash photography, I’ve been shy about doing studio shoots. However when Hubby arranged a session with a model in Native American dress, I was more than happy to tag along.
The difference between studio and street photography is light. In a studio, you have full control of light, in street you don’t. In street, you chase the light. In studio, you make it. There’s a lot of technical knowledge involved in getting light to perform. Know-how and Gear and Set-up. For this session I was glad to rely on Hubby’s expertise. My focus was on getting a few good shots.
Here’s my first set. I kept them in dramatic B&W to emphasize the shape and movement of the fancy shawl.
Saga our model had some spectacular outfits. They were all handmade with fine details and gorgeous colors. She also had an interesting tale about the origins of the Fancy Shawl dance event in Pow Wows … but you can read more about that in my next post.
I apologize for taking so many pictures of sunsets.
I apologize for calling them fabulous! gorgeous! stupendous! I apologize for doing the hysterical equivalent of SHOUTING in caps.
I just cannot help myself. When faced with the spectacular splendor of a setting sun, I am overcome with sappy alliteration and I take pictures. I take hundreds of pictures. More pictures than I can use. More pictures than I dare to share.
Forgive me as I share one more.
Davis Bay, Sechelt. British Columbia, Canada. 2017
After years of living in China and South East Asia it was time to come home.
But after a few weeks in Toronto, hubby and I realized we still had the whole of Canada to explore.
Starting with Vancouver Island in beautiful British Columbia. The island is off the Pacific coast line of Canada and USA. It has an unprotected face to the Pacific and is characterized by extreme weather, rugged coastlines and awe inspiring views of mountains, sea and sky.
These pictures were taken at Long Beach in Tofino. It was an unusually warm (12 degrees!) and sunny day in November. Normal weather is cold with constant rain and intermittent periods of more rain. With a dour scowl a local resident told me that “last year it rained every day for four months.” This summer though was a good one. It was a dry and sunny. Lucky for me, a bit of summer hung around.
Hidden away from the glittery lights of Shinjuku is a warren of bars and pubs called Golden Gai. Like Omoide Yokocho the bars are tiny, eclectic and cater to only a handful of customers. Walking through the narrow alleys, it feels like old noir Tokyo – dark, moody, a little seedy and very mysterious.
Here are a few peeks into doorways and staircases …
… and always intriguing are the glimpses of people hidden in bars.
I don’t usually shoot in black & white but in my last photo walk I decided to set my LCD to monochrome. What a difference. I saw scenes I wouldn’t normally have seen. The absence of color forced me to look at the shadows and light.
Some pictures, like the play on reflections below, I would have missed. In fact, when I loaded the RAW files in Lightroom, I was startled at the display of color.
These are the pictures that I took in monochrome:
These are the pictures that Lightroom showed:
Color or monochrome, they both have their appeal.
But without the monochrome LCD, I would never have seen the view.