Make somebody happy, keep your promise

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The nun we met on our journey. I’ll never know if she got my message.
I once asked a talented photographer friend in Nepal to give one piece of advice to traveling photographers. She said this, “If you tell someone you’re going to give them the photo.. keep your promise!”

She then shared about a time she asked to photograph an old woman in a mountain village. She promised to bring the photo with her the next time she came through that village. The old woman sort of [chuckled] and said that in her long life many travellers had made the same promise, but not one of them ever kept it. So, my friend decided to break the cycle.

The next time she came through that village she brought along a printed photograph, found the old woman and gave her the print. She told me that this small act made the old woman extremely happy and it opened a door to build a relationship of trust with the old woman.

After hearing that story I decided to start doing the same. Already I’ve had several opportunities to keep my promise to people I meet in my travels. One such encounter happened this way:

One hot and sunny day, my friend and I were walking up a steep mountain road in Nepal. About half-way up the hill we passed by a nun and two of her students trying to take a group photo. But their camera didn’t seem to be working. So I offered to take a picture with my camera promising to send the picture when I returned home. She agreed, so I took the photo, asked the nun to write her contact information on a small piece of paper, and we parted ways.

Back home, as I was sorting through all of my notes and receipts, I discovered the crumpled piece of paper where the nun had not written her email address, but only the name of her ‘nunnery’ – I think that’s what they’re called. I should have paid better attention in Catechism!

“Okay Rob! Remember what your photographer friend said; keep your promise.”

Now I had a choice to make. I could simply consider my promise void because she had not given me a complete email address. Or, I could “take the dirt road” as it were, and try to reach the nun through the information she had given me.

With the powerful story of the old village woman etched deeply into my soul, I remembered my promise. I began searching the web – it actually took only 10-15 minutes – when I found something that seemed to match the name on the paper. So I sent the photo to the main email address and waited.

Sadly, I never heard back from the recipient, so I don’t actually know if the photo ever reached her. But I can sleep at night knowing I did what I could to keep my promise, even if nobody ever finds out.

 

Fun foto contest

Yesterday I ran a fun foto contest. Here’s how.

I uploaded a photo to Facebook and then asked people to guess how I took the photo. The winner got a full-size copy of the image plus, in this case, the recipe to the food that I photographed.

Look at the picture and see if you can guess how I took the photo, where, when, what light sources and camera settings were used.

Good luck!

Here are the Facebook comments and the answer:

  • Rob Darby I’ll also give the recipe to the winner!
    19 hours ago ·
  • Shine Phinao I only know Rob Darby took the photo.
    19 hours ago ·
  • Jonathan Fullerton with a camera, surely I am not wrong 😛
    19 hours ago ·
  • Angela Hedley I have no clue.. But the food looks absolutely delicious…shame i no nothing about photography….or cameras…only that you are an amazing photographer…much love to you… Veronica n your handsome lads..xxxx
    19 hours ago ·
  • Mick Burke Rrrrright…
    18 hours ago ·
  • Veronica Darby You are a true nerd Rob, I love you:-)
    18 hours ago · · 1
  • E Sarah Masters ‎50mm lens, 1.8 to 2.8 aperture, natural light, light diffusor/reflector, lunch time/noonish…..Did I WIN!
    18 hours ago · · 1
  • Marie Hörnell nerd was the word – and he has good talents for pedagogic
    17 hours ago ·
  • Kris Jack there is a stronger light source behind and slightly to the right, i would guess to be a window and morning sunlight, possibly an overcast day… for fill light a diffused on camera flash possibly a ceiling bounce??. Aperture 2.0-3.0 on a 30mm lens.
    16 hours ago ·
  • Rob Darby I’ll give the answer in a day or two. Pass it on to other photographers – or NERDS! – you know and let them try to guess too.
    14 hours ago ·
  • Abby Minnich I agree with Angela. Haven’t the slightest clue, but the salmon looks wonderful!
    10 hours ago · Edited ·
  • Jo Plummer Same as Kris for light sources but you used 50mm lens 1.8 aperture
    9 hours ago ·
  • Sharon Ash You’re getting way too creative for my brain, Rob.
    8 hours ago ·
  • Rodney Blevins Its salmon…and lemon! Oh yeah and there are some tomatoes and potato salad involved. Did I win? (Sorry, I have a one track mind when it comes to food.)
    4 hours ago ·
  • Rob Darby Settings: 1/60 sec @ f 1.8, ISO 200 Lens: EF50mm f/1.8 II Time: 14:03 Place: kitchen table in front of window, Light sources: natural light from window/no direct sunlight, aluminum cereal box lid as a reflector from the front left side of the picture. Winner: E Sarah Masters!
  • Rob Darby And, since this is the first contest, I’m giving away my delicious grilled salmon recipe for free! Grilled Salmon with potato salad recipe

    Salmon: Grill four salted salmon steaks over hot charcoal for 10-12 minutes, turning once. I added some large oak chips to the colas to add a smokey flavor. I also closed the lid for extra smoke flavor.

    Potato salad: I bought some ready-made potato salad from the grocery store and added my own boiled potatoes, fresh dill and a bit of apple cider vinegar to add bulk and save some money.

    Garnish: lemon and tomato wedges.

    Drunk: Goes great with black current leaf saft.
    Link: http://www.icakuriren.se/mat-dryck/recept/saftiga-gr%C3%B6na-blad/

    www.icakuriren.se

    Letar du efter goda matrecept – besök Icakuriren.se din kokbok på nätet, 9000 ut…See More

Make somebody happy, keep your promise

Nun and friendsI asked a very cool photographer in Nepal what her one bit of advice would be to a traveling photographer, and she said this, “If you take someone’s picture, and you tell them you’re going to send one to them when you get back home, then do it.”

So I made it a point to keep my promise every time I had such an encounter with a local. It happened a couple of times, and this photograph is an example of one such encounter. It happened this way.

It was a hot and sunny day. My friend, Preston, and I were walking up a steep mountain road. “Why were we walking?” you may ask. Well, that’s fodder for another post. Anyhow, we met these three women about half-way up the hill. We greeted one another, and then, in good Asian fashion, began to chat about how far it was to the top, where we were from, and stuff like that. Oh yeah! They were wanting to take a group photo, but their camera wasn’t working right, so I offered to take it with mine and then send them the picture when I got back home.

“Okay Rob! Remember what your photographer friend said; keep your promise.”

Funny how powerful one bit of advice can stick with you, because every time I saw this photo on my computer, I felt this urgency to send the photo to the nun in the photo.

So, after soon as I got home, I dug out that crumpled piece of paper where the nun had written down her contact information. But the paper showed only the name of her ‘nunnery’ – Is that what you call them? I should have paid better attention in Cathecism! Anyhow, I did a search on the web; it took about 10-15 minutes. I finally found something that seemed to match the name on the paper. So I sent the photo to the main email address and waited.

I never heard back from the recipient, so I don’t actually know if the photo ever reached her. But I can sleep at night knowing I followed through on my promise.

One small act of kindness

Veronica and I were walking along the streets of Gothenburg the other evening, when we came across a stuffed teddy bear lying on the cobblestone street.

teddy bear

Veronica commented with emotion only a mother could express “Aw! The poor child who lost this stuffed animal must be super sad.”

Then she said, “Hey! I wonder if it belongs to that family with the stroller that just passed us!”

So she turned around and caught up to the family. Within seconds all of them were heading back towards the ‘crime scene’.

Sure enough! The toy belonged to the little baby in the stroller. The family was very thankful that we made the effort to return their teddy bear.

Even doing a little act of kindness for a stranger, even if it’s a little thing like returning a lost teddy bear, sure makes you feel good inside.

Waiting For Spring.. has arrived!

A year-and-a-half ago I set out to create my very first photo book. And now it finally arrived! I thought I would never finish the book, except that I kept being reminded that I should finish what I start.

I had some free time one evening this week to do anything I wanted. So I told my wife I wanted to finish “that book I started when we were living up in the north of Sweden.” So I grabbed something to drink, sat my butt down on our living room sofa and worked out the kinks that were left in the book I had already started, and within a couple of hours, it was uploaded to Blurb’s bookstore.

Preview the book here:

 

The book was written in response to a Facebook message I received after God prompted me to post a photo to encourage anybody who might be struggling through a difficult situation. I decided that if only one person was encouraged, then I would be happy. Sure enough, only one person responded! But the whole thing seemed so orchestrated by God, because this person needed a timely encouragement.

The following Sunday, I had a  chance to weave the person’s story into my sermon that I was preaching at a local church service. And then, again, at Veronica’s home church later that week. Both events brought the most profound reaction by the congregations, and they were noticeably inspired by my little story.

That’s just part of the story about my first book titled “Waiting For Spring“.

I encourage you to buy my book, because I’m selling it at a very low mark-up from Blurb’s base price. I’m doing it this way because 1. I want the book to be available to encourage as many people as possible, and 2. Since it’s my first book, I don’t think I’m in the position to charge an outrageous price.. at least not yet anyway! heehee!

I plan to make many more books in the future, and I hope you’ll buy every single one of them 🙂

The connection between grilled salmon and BP

grilled salmon and riceI overdosed on my blood pressure medicine this morning. I put my pills in this little pill box, all in place so I will take the right amount time. But this morning I accidentally opened it too far and took the evening’s dose as well as the morning’s.

As I was swallowing the pills my mind flashed back 2.5 seconds where I envisioned two pink pill lying in my hand instead of one. Yikes! So I rang the medical assistance number that you can ring here in Sweden if you have a medical concern, and they told me to take it easy for the rest of the day; no driving, drink lots of water, and have someone around me at all times in case I get dizzy and pass out, in which case I should ring 112 – Emergency.

So for lunch we ate this amazing grilled salmon. I grill as often as I can, because I simply love to grill! I added a little oak wood – or was it ash.. or birch? Hmmm! Not sure. – Anyhow, I salt my salmon an hour before grilling and put it straight on the grill for 10 minutes. I’m sure that the extra salt helped counteract the effects from the excessive BP medicine.

I served the salmon with white jasmine rice and ricolla salad – included tomatoes, red onion, feta cheese, sunflower seeds, lemon juice and olive oil.

You might be wondering what all this food stuff has to do with overdosing on blood pressure medicine? Absolutely nothing!

I have to have some excuse to write about food.

Living the Dream.. Whooooooo!

Living the dreamDoes this group of travelers look happy to you? I didn’t think so.

I learned you should never tell your audience to Smile when you’re forcing them to stop and pose for a photo when all they want to do is get back to that minibus and get home, after a long day at the River.

It’s not that we had a bad time down at the river. It was lots of fun. The kids got to swim, we managed to get most of the food into their bellies before it hit the dirt and sand. No one fell from a cliff.. or from the swinging bridge. Yup. All in all, you could say it was a  pret-ty fun day.

But, as most parents know, time wears thin on the nerves. And by the time I took this photo, I could see the actual nerve proteins glistening through the thin veneer of each nerve in each parent’s body. The phrase ‘conniption fit’ comes to mind right now.

Oh, and the best part of the story – I didn’t say the best thing, but the best part of the “These people are all pretty annoyed right now”, story – is that the boys you see standing on the other end of the bridge; well, they started swinging it back and forth when all the little kiddies had reached the middle of it. This was too much for my friend Preston, and he shouted at them with that angry, protective father voice, “Hey! Cut it out!” with a really strong Canadian accent. Hmm. I think they understood what he meant, even if they didn’t speak English.

It’s easy to look back and laugh about it now, but at the time I didn’t say a word.

Hey Preston, we’re living the dream. Whooooooo!

Let my people go!

let-my-people-go-2Every year my wife and I spend a coupe of days alone just to retreat with God. So last weekend, I stayed at a friend’s house – they were on vacation. One of the ways I like to relax is to try out new techniques with my camera. So, this morning, I was listening to the audio Bible and letting thoughts, images and the Holy Spirit inspire me. That’s when I came up with this image which I title “Let my people go!”

How the process went

During my last visit to Gothenburg, I saw a large advertisement of some fruit, as I was walking through a mall in Gothenburg. It looked quite tasty, and I thought I might like to replicate the lighting setup. So, while I was in the kitchen this morning, I spotted a jar filled with pieces of dry bread and thought “Here’s my chance.”

I poured the crumbs out onto the dining table, set up my flash and gave it a go. The first images were too light. I could see the light wood color behind the pieces of bread. So I poured them out onto a chair which had a dark fabric seat. – Sorry Fredrick! – This worked!

As I came closer to what I was looking for, I thought, “Why not shoot the flash through the back of the chair and create long shadows. When I did this it looked like shadows being cast through prison bars upon little crumby prisoners. Next, I moved one piece of bread out closer to the bars as if to call out to the prison warden.

That’s when I thought of Moses and the Isrealites.

Some thoughts on boundaries

boundariesI took this photo in our friends’ back yard in Kathmandu. There’s a garden just on the other side of this gate. Look closer. It doesn’t even have hinges. It’s just leaning against the fence, held in place by a crooked branch.

If you push on the gate it nearly topples over. But, it gives the appearance of “PRIVATE GARDEN. KEEP OUT!” Or perhaps, “Welcome to the garden.” Either way, it’s making a boundary statement.

I’ve been taking an inventory of my own boundaries in the form of fruit trees in my life. Fruit trees are the things I choose to do every day. I want to see if my fruit trees are bearing good fruit. If they’re not, then I need to take some action. So I’ve been asking myself questions like: Does my character reflect God’s character? Do I have peace? Do the things I do bring meaning and purpose to my life?

The photo of this gate reminds me of how I need to make and keep certain boundaries if I want to see that kind of fruit in my life. So the next set of questions I’m going to ask myself sound like: “When’s the last time you went on a walk with God.. without your phone in your pocket and your headphones stuck in your ears? Compare that with how often you check your Facebook status.” or “How are you prioritizing your time with your family? or “How many times do you complain every day, compared to how many times you say something positive?”

I suspect I’ll be pruning some branches, putting up some fences, maybe even chopping down some fruit trees entirely! And, the boundaries don’t need to be ten feet high. They don’t even need hinges, really. They just need to be clear enough for me to understand them and respect what they stand for.