How to break a rule without sinning

boys in front of oak treeThe most important thing I’ve learned lately, in regards to photography, has been ‘seeing the light’.

Light is the one thing that is essential to photography.  The word Photography means literally, ‘drawing with light’.
“Photo” is derived from Greek – the Greek word “phos” means “light.”
The word “graph” also comes from a Greek word meaning “to draw.”

It’s kind of cool to think that I can take a shot like this one using just my Android phone and some available light.

How I found this shot

This oak tree is being illuminated by the sun’s reflection bouncing off of some kitchen windows a few meters away. The sun itself is directly behind the tree.

The light was so wonderful, I simply couldn’t resist asking my boys to strike a pose for me.

“Dad! Not again!” I could see it written on their faces.

A year ago I wouldn’t have thought of taking this shot, because, as a general rule you’re not supposed to shoot into the sun. But that’s the cool thing about knowing the rules.. because then you know how to break them!

How to tell which battery is good

Tale of two batteriesI have this dilemma. As a photographer, I use a lot of batteries. And after a while, I have to start keeping track of which batteries can hold a good charge and which ones can’t. It’s kind of like cat herding; I spend lots of mental energy trying to design systems to keep the good and bad batteries separated. You might say to yourself, “Piece’a cake. Just put them in two separately marked pockets!” But, for me, it doesn’t work. I still mix them up.

I’m all for saving a few bucks when possible, but at some point, I need to decide if it’s worth the hassle. You see, I was asked to shoot a friend’s wedding this summer. So, for me, the condition of my batteries might determine whether or not I get that shot of the bridal couple, at the altar, putting on the rings. I want to give them the satisfaction of knowing that, years from now, they can flip open that wedding album and see that ‘ring’ shot, and talk about how lovely and smooth their hands looked back then.

That settles it! I’m putting an end to my dilemma. I’m asking my wife to pick up a few new rechargeable batteries for me the next time she goes shopping.

Answer to the Title question:  Both are good! I just needed a couple models for my blog post. Moohaahaa!

How raw milk made me a better person

group travelWe were five adults and five children, stuffed into a minibus that leaked oil profusely. For eight hours we virtually flew along winding, Nepali, cliffside roads at breakneck speeds. We passed just about every freight truck we could find on a blind curve. We slammed on the brakes, so we wouldn’t read end the travel bus in front of us. And, oh yes. The toilet stops. Driver! Stop! – I discovered that squatty potties and Swedish children are not a great match. So many small, individual, harmless events, that tend to gang up on you after a while.

It’s like being on a game show, where the goal is to be the last one to snap. Nobody wants to be the first one to snap; to say something they probably shouldn’t.. no.. something they definitely shouldn’t say. But the compilation of all those small, harmless events, one after another, begins to grate on one’s nerves. Finally, your patience barrier bursts, and you lose it.

On this trip, the first one to snap was me. But I gave it a good run for the money! I was able to hold my tongue the entire trip, till we returned from our week-long journey. And it was back in Kathmandu, in the kitchen, standing over a pot of raw milk, boiling on the stove, that I snapped. I won’t say who I snapped [at], or what I said. But I lost it.

Now, I had a choice to make. Do the right thing and say “Sorry”, or let pride and stubbornness put mortar to the ‘brick’. Do you want to know what I chose?

You can ask me.

10 things Nepal has that we don’t

Where did my stuff go?

Veronica sitting on the back stepsOur ‘stuff’ takes so much of our time and attention. What I mean by ‘stuff’ is our techy stuff, like our iPhones, our computers, social media, uhm.. even blog posts! So, when we got to Kathmandu we decided we would try and let the modern world take the back seat for most of our travels. And here’s the result! Veronica, sitting on the back steps of our friends’ house, with nothing to do but chill. Niiice!

It blows my mind how much more relaxed and focused we became when we set aside our ‘stuff’. And, it’s also shocking how much time and energy – especially the mental kinds – we actually spend on our ‘stuff’.

Of course, other things still demand our attention: whining children, hectic pre-meal activities, and putting kids to bed. But, by just putting one tiny device like a phone, or a camera, on the shelf for a day, or two, or more.. brings balance and perspective.

The Challenge: Try putting some of your ‘stuff’ on the shelf for 24 hours, or longer if you dare! Then, see if you don’t start crying, like a baby in its crib, without a bottle! Or if you start to feel more relaxed. I bet if you do it enough times in a row, you’ll start to feel more relaxed. We did.

Nothing to do but wait

mother and boys sitting on sofa
Veronca and the boys sit on the Thiessen's sofa in their flat in Kathmandu, Nepal, after just arriving on our four week journey.

 

This photo sort of sums up where we are at the moment as a family. After four weeks of traveling through Nepal and Thailand on various missions – visiting friends, leading retreats and investigating ministry locations and opportunities – we are now resting and waiting on the Lord. It’s a hard thing to do, rest and wait on God when you want to see the next step we are to take with our lives.

During a prayer time, we clearly heard God say that he wants us to wait for now and just give our minds and expectations a rest and let him do his thing. “God! It seems everybody is waiting for an answer. They all know that one of the reasons we went to Asia was to see if there were any possibilities of moving out there!”

But God showed us that he wanted us to simply wait and not worry about what people think. I think about when Jesus took his time to reach a person he was asked to heal – Lazarus and Jairus’ daughter –  They both died before he got there. But then he raised them from the dead! And there is God’s encouragement to us, that he will not leave us stranded with no road map and directions.

So, this month will be a time of resting and waiting. In the meantime, I hope you will enjoy the stories and pictures I have to share.

Spiderwebs

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I’m really into spiderwebs these days. I’ve been going out early in the mornings to take photographs, and I find these incredible spiderwebs that, at any other time of day, are hidden by the unaware eye.

But when the early morning dew hits them they just shout at you! I love taking photos of them, because, when I get back to my computer and upload them I get to show Ramus, who is really into Spiderman these days, er I mean months.

It’s also quite amazing how the spider builds his house on ‘sand’; one good blast of wind and that plant or fence post that the web is attached to comes crashing down, taking the spider’s home with it. Yet, that is the best place for a spider to catch its meal. It’s basically a supermarket on a stick!

Chickpea Curry Pilaf Recipe

I am always amazed how my wife can get 12 hours of work out of six people when she arranges a company work day for our staff. Sometimes, half the people she expects actually show up ready to work. But she quickly performs a little administrative magic and makes it all work. My wife, on the other hand, is equally impressed by my ability to combine ingredients and come up with delicious-tasting dish almost every time. Here’s to individual strengths! Ching! Ching! The other day was no exception.

Chickpea Curry Rice Pilaf
Chickpea Curry Rice Pilaf

It was a Tuesday – Nothing special about that. It just adds to the drama – and we were expecting lunch  guests, but I had no time to buy groceries, and our cupboards were bare. So I dove in deep to see what I could put together. Now, both times I had been to India I don’t think I tasted a rice and chickpea dish. But somehow it just seemed right. So a opened up a can of chickpeas and threw them into the pot with the rice and WHAM!

After a little post-discovery research, I discovered that chickpea pilaf is already a common dish in middle eastern or arabic countries. Here is a common recipe I found on the Washington Post site. Even Oprah shares her favorite pilaf recipe! Wow! I am so privileged. And below is how I made my own pilaf creation, what I call ‘Chickpea Curry Pilaf.

I found that the taste improved after letting it cool to room temperature, storing it in the fridge overnight and then re-heating it the next day. Mmmm! Delicious!

 

Ingredients4 Tbs cooking oil
1 finely chopped onion
3 cloves crushed garlic
1-2 lemons squeezed
1 chicken boullion cube
1-2 Tbs curry powder
Salt and Chili powder
2 Tbs dried parsley (Fresh is preferable if you can find it.)
1 400g can chickpeas
4-5 cups Basmati rice (I didn’t measure it exactly)
10-12 cups of waterHeat oil in a large deep pot.Instructions

Saute the onions and parsley on medium heat until onions are slightly browned and translucent; approx 5 minutes.

Add the garlic to the mix and continue for another 30 seconds before adding the water.

Pour the water slowly stirring constantly. Being careful not to splatter the hot oil on yourself. You can let the rice cool a bit before adding the water.

Add the chickpeas, lemon juice and boullion cube until thoroughly mixed. Stir occasionally adding more water as needed, trying to reach a near-creamy consitancy.

Add the salt and chili powder to taste.

Serve with stiff yoghurt, sour cream and/or chutney as a condiment.

Swedish harbor

boathouse in Sweden
I shot this at 7am on my morning walk

Every time I drive into town to buy groceries, or benzine, or paint supplies, I pass this amazing little boathouse in Ulvesund. And just about every time I pass it, I glance over and think to mayself, what a cool boathouse! That’s all. I just think that simple thought. And sometimes, if I happen to have my camera, I stop and take a photo of it. But this time, a couple days ago, I hapened to be out for an early morning walk, with my camera, so shot it again.

I just love living in a place where I can get shots like this. A photographer once said an a podcast I was listening to  – I isten to a lot of photography podcasts – he said something like this, “Stop and take that photo you keep saying to yourself you’re going to take. Because one day, that barn you want to shoot just might fall down before you get to it.” Alas, that barn I wanted to shoot did fall down. It is on Highway 4 between Angels Camp (my home town) and Murphys. For years I kept telling myself I would shoot it, but I never did. And when my wife and I visited California a few weeks ago – we visit about every two years – that barn had collapsed. Sigh! Guess I learned my lesson. Well, at least I got the boathouse!