Jul 30, 2011

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Rebekka Guðleifsdóttir

Rebekka is one of the first photographers I started following on flickr after I got my account. I was drawn in by her long exposure shots and I always enjoy seeing new projects she works on appear in my photostream.

What impresses me is not only the thought, but the time and effort she puts into her shots. Her long exposure shots involve getting up when it’s dark, venturing out into the cold and either sitting around or standing in front of the camera, in an ice cold lake, at 3am. Others take forethought and preparation time that you appreciate but don’t consider when viewing her photos.

Here are some of my favourite long exposure shots from her

She also does imaginative self portraits

and puts lots of time into preparing for her projects

and this is her most recognised photo

Rebekka is branching out (sometimes quite literally) into many different areas of art and photography. You can check out her website, her flickr or her how to guides on photography.

Jul 23, 2011

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What do we miss in life?

Last night I was walking down Cuba Street in Wellington around 11:30pm. The place was full of reveling groups with plenty to drink, but in the midst of it all, there was a trio of musicians playing two guitars and a violin very tunefully. Wellington has a collection of buskers, but none of them compare to this story from JeffBridges.com that came to me via The Long Now Foundation blog.

Joshua Bell playing violin

Washington, DC Metro Station on a cold January morning in 2007. The man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time approx. 2 thousand people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. After 3 minutes a middle aged man noticed there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried to meet his schedule.

4 minutes later:

The violinist received his first dollar: a woman threw the money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk.

6 minutes:

A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.

10 minutes:

A 3-year old boy stopped but his mother tugged him along hurriedly. The kid stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children.. Every parent, without exception, forced their children to move on quickly..

45 minutes:

The musician played continuously. Only 6 people stopped and listened for a short while. About 20 gave money but continued to walk at their normal pace. The man collected a total of $32.

1 hour:

He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. Two days before Joshua Bell sold out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100.

This is a true story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and people’s priorities.

The questions raised:

*In a common place environment at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty?

*Do we stop to appreciate it?

*Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?

One possible conclusion reached from this experiment could be this:

If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world, playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ever made.

How many other things are we missing?

Jul 9, 2011

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Holstee Manifesto

If you’ve skipped over reading the whole of the Holstee Manifesto above then I suggest you scroll back up and read through it. Don’t worry, I’m not going anywhere, take the time to absorb it a bit.

Now, I’m going to imagine you’re in one of three camps. There’s the “that’s a nice idea, but it’s impractical” camp and the “I wish my life was like that” camp (if you’re in the third “My life is like that” camp – bravo). In early 2010 I would have read this and dismissed it as fanciful and dreamy. Now, in 2011, let me tell you why it’s not.

This is your life

There is no way your unique appearance, personality, opinions and character can be reproduced. You are unique and that makes you irreplaceable. Also, you impact the people around you every day, from the smallest of things to the largest of things. You can’t control everything around you, but your choices are yours to make.

Do what you love and do it often

Or, I prefer, “Find what you love and do it often”. If you know what inspires you, motivates you and captures your passion then I’m sure you can find ways to do it, because you want to. Don’t let something good gather dust when it should be used. If you don’t know what that is yet – try things out, but be warned, it’ll likely involve some risk, but balance the risk of looking silly against the reward of finding your passion. It took me until I was 24 to find my passion in life and I think I’m ahead of the curve.

If you don’t like your job, quit

This is a hard one and one of the first to trigger the “fanciful” alarm bells, especially if you’re in a financial position where you are supporting others. I’m not saying everyone can apply everything in the Manifesto, but work can become like a nice, protective money blanket that keeps us warm and eases our fears. If you’re in a job you don’t like then are you trading your happiness for security and is it worth it?

Open your mind, arms and heart to new things and people

This is all about mindset. If you close your mind, arms and heart then you won’t consider, embrace or experience what’s before you. Our focus in life can be toward ourselves and what we want or towards others and what we can do for them and with them. If we look out we suddenly see a world of nations, cultures, ideas and people – some of them hurting, all of them loved by God.

It still sounds fanciful to me

How about we rephrase the points I’ve picked out?

“You are unique, you have choices in your life. Follow your passion, do what you love and don’t let your job limit you. There are so many people, experiences and things in the world that you can do – don’t let fear stop you.”

I realise that people are still enslaved today. I know all too well that sex trafficking is a huge industry and that this statement is not universal. This makes it all the more important that we who have the choice recognise that we have it, appreciate that we have it and actually exercise it.

I realise that some don’t have the ability to leave their jobs and follow their passion. I’m not saying you need to quit your job to do what you love – there are evenings, weekends and holidays where you can do what you choose, but only if you use the time wisely. To those that do have that ability, you can appreciate that you have it.

Finally, if we let fear get the better of us, we can end up risking nothing and gaining nothing. I don’t want to look back on my life and wonder what might have been.

So do it

I have. In 2010 I took leave from my job and volunteered with Youth With A Mission. I spent 9 months overseas, 6 months of that serving others in Philippines and Kona, Hawaii. It was a risk for me to fly overseas for 9 months, to trust people I’d never met, put myself in new cultures and risk rejection.

It was an incredible experience and one that’s left a mark on me. This blog wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for my time over there and I do plan on posting some stories of what I did. This is why I switched camps from “fanciful” to “possible” – because I’ve done it and I know that right now people are doing it too.