A couple weeks ago I posted something on Google+, about dichotomous interests and I realized as I was writing my thoughts out that each interest took over while one hibernated.  My maternal grandfather introduced me to my photography obsession when I turned ten years old.  He bought me my first camera for my tenth birthday, a Kodak Instamatic camera.  From the moment the camera was in my hands I was hooked.  To see more information about my photography obsession, feel free to view my photographer’s statement on CJP Photos.

I was already heart and soul into writing, when the camera was placed in my hand.  However, writing soon became less important to me as photography took its place.  I went everywhere with that little Kodak Instamatic camera:

I loved that camera as it introduced me to photography.  i owned it for six years until I graduated to my first Canon camera and my first SLR.  The Canon T50:

I also was given that camera for my sixteenth birthday.  Now here was a camera I could grow into.  And man did I use it.  I owned that camera until 2002, over twenty years.  The T50 was retired when I went digital.
In between those twenty years of owning the T50, I found my way back to my first obsession:
Writing.  And photography went into hibernation again.  It seems to me that I can’t focus on two arts at the same time.  One tends to take precedence.  Another odd happenstance that has just occurred to me is there seems to be a ten year gap between each hibernation.

It was 1980 to around 1990 that photography was a major habit.
It was 1990 to 2000 that writing really took over and it was during this time that I found my greatest success, being published sporadically in the SF/F small press.

Then, the 2000s rolled around and I lost all interest in what I wrote.  Photography came roaring back into my life and again it was during this time, the second go round that I found my greatest success with that endeavor.

It was in 2002 that I opened my photography site:
CJP Photos
and began showing my photography at local galleries.  I sold almost immediately upon putting my photography online and showing in galleries.  Ten years went by and my brand became so recognizable that people knew me more as a photographer than anything else.

Marketing!  Marketing!  Marketing!

During this entire ten year period, I never sat in front of my computer to type a single word that lead to any type of fiction.  I didn’t even miss it.  Another ten year period.

2000 to 2010.

I wonder what it is with the number ten that is so relevant to me.  That number not only holds significance for my obsessions, the number ten is also significant in the fact that the first two jobs I held were for ten years:
Hammonasset Beach State Park:

Stop and Shop:

And yes I worked in both places at the same time for a while.

2010 rolled around, and I found my voice returning to me again.  Writing, once more became habitual.  It was something I had to do to stay centered.  I shared a post called: The Itch that explained how my flame was rekindled.

Anyone else have similar stories?

Be Well!  Be Happy!  Be Positive!
Blessings to you.


Neighbors Helping Neighbors

As a follow up to Being Equitable, here’s another example:
As everyone is aware New England was hit with a massive blizzard on the weekend of February 8.  I’m certainly grateful for the fact that I live in a condo after the effects of this storm.  My neighbors all helped each other shovel out our cars.  We could all very well have done just our own vehicles and have disappeared back into our homes.  If that had been the case we’d have been shoveling for hours.

I have pictures of before:
Somewhere under those mounds is my car.

With everyone helping, we finished all our cars in less than three hours.  And no one left feeling angry or abused.

And after:

The Golden Rule in full effect:
Treat others as you want to be treated.

We were all having fun too talking, joking making snide comments; all in jest however.  That’s what friends do.  I’m reminded of Tom Sawyer, when he enlisted everyone to paint his fence.  Yes he had a different motive for getting help, but having everyone chip in surely made the task easier, quicker.  It brought more joy to the task as well

As with walking, it creates more joy when you share an experience with a friend.  Time moves faster.  You have an opportunity to talk with your friends, make jokes.  Honestly.  Isn’t it more fun to share a challenging experience with someone else?

The task gets done sooner.
You don’t have to expend as much energy when having manual labor to do.
Everything gets equally distributed as did with shoveling out our cars.

It’s so much better, so much easier to help our neighbors, to look out for each other, to offer assistance  to anyone in need.  I’m sure you’ve been in or seen the experience of someone needing help, whatever that help may be and watching people stroll on by not so much as glancing in the direction of the person needing a hand.

Is that spiritual?
Is that helpful?
Is that how you’d want to be treated?

The next time you see someone struggling, be the one who reaches out.
It will be reward in itself.

Be Happy!  Be Well!  Be Positive!
Blessings to you.


Day After Thanksgiving

Seeing as it is the day after Thanksgiving, there won’t be a typical Wisdom and Life post today.  Instead I’m just going to wish everyone a safe start to the Holiday shopping season.  How can you stay safe?  You can shop local and you can shop online.  Why not stop by my photography website?  I’m having a shop local sale that ends on Saturday, November 30 at 9pm.

Check out my Shop Local Holiday link for details.

Hope everyone experienced a nice Thanksgiving.

Be Happy!  Be Well!  Be Positive!
Blessings to you.


Hurricane Sandy

Stepping out of the box today.  No Law of Attraction Monday.  Wisdom and Life today will take a look at Hurricane Sandy and it’s damage to my hometown.  Work at the Scranton Library in Madison, Connecticut was out for four days.  I returned to work on Friday.  My power was out for just two full days.  Tuesday at 430 pm until Thursday at 2 pm.  My power went out for just four hours on Monday from 1230 to 430 pm.  I was in my car at 430 pm charging my phone when I happened to look out my windshield and saw the parking lot lights flicker on again.  I shut my eyes and opened them again, not really believing what I saw.  But the lights stayed on.  Power stayed on the rest of Monday night and into Tuesday all morning.  I thought, Wow!  I’m not going to lose power.

Alas, it wasn’t meant to be.  At 430, exactly twenty four hours after it was restored, power was out again.  Ever the optimist that I am, and always finding the positive in the challenges that arise, I can say that like Irene in August 2011, the temperature hadn’t fallen far enough to justify turning on my heat.  Seeing that I have electric heat that was amazing, yet another example of my being watched over, being protected.  I will always feel that hand of the Divine, that hand of Source, that hand of God enveloping me in HIS light.  It’s as I’ve said here on so many occasions, however:
The only reason I see these things as Divine is because I see EVERYTHING as Divine.  These examples happen to EVERYONE ALL the time.  Only those who are steeped in this paradigm will see it as Divine.

Even this late in November I have only put the heat on once in mid October.  See?  I don’t feel the cold as much as I feel the heat.  That’s a blessing when I’m without power in November.

Thankfully there was not extensive tree damage as I believe Irene in August 2011 took down the weak trees.  Madison, Connecticut recorded the highest wind gust in Connecticut and the 4th highest during the storm at 85 mph.  Even at that speed the number of trees that were felled didn’t come close to the number during Irene.

On Tuesday morning, once the storm dissipated I walked downtown and along the waterfront to capture the effects of the storm with my camera.  Feel free to take a look at the destruction as seen through my eyes:
Hurricane Sandy at CJP Photos
.  There are six galleries here.  Click on each image to see each gallery.  If you’d like a reminder of Irene.  I was out the day after that storm as well.  Those images are here:
Hurricane Irene at CJP Photos

The blessing during Sandy and Irene is that the damage to the Connecticut shoreline was nowhere near as extensive as it was in New York, New Jersey and other locations along the Eastern Seaboard.  I feel for those who lost everything in New Jersey.  What a horrible experience for those residents.  Here’s hoping they recover as best they can.  I’ll take a passage from my friend Martha Orlando at Meditations of my Heart:
Will you pray with me?
Here’s hoping those in the more extreme path of Sandy’s destruction will make a speedy recovery.

Be Happy!  Be Well!  Be Positive!
Blessings to you.


Block Island

On Sunday, I made one of my annual pilgrimages to my place of peace:
Block Island.

The National Hotel
Block Island

My friend, Tim who lives in Florida travels to Connecticut once a year and he gathers all of his friends together to make the trek to BI.  I’ve been going there since I was about ten years old.  I made my first trip to Block Island, with my maternal grandparents in the early seventies.  It was then that the ferries landed at Payne’s Dock.  I didn’t realize it,  but I’d found my place.  It wasn’t until MUCH later that I was reintroduced to the island.

My friend, Jason and I went there for the first time together in the early 1990’s and since then we’ve made annual trips together or separately.  My heart sings when my feet touch island firma.  I feel at peace there.  Never mind my heart singing, my soul dances when I’m there.

I breathe easier.
I feel calmer.
I smile more.

It’s where I belong!

As I was preparing for the trip on Saturday evening, I was experiencing a crisis:
To bring my camera
Not to bring my camera.

I didn’t want the trip to be about me and I KNEW if I decided to bring the beast I’d want to stop at EVERY location and set up the shot.  Thus slowing down the steady flow.  And the fact that I have a plethora of pictures from Block Island, made the decision an easy one.

VERY happy I decided NOT to bring the camera.

Funny; as we walked off the High Speed Ferry, I was texting a few people, not paying attention and up ahead, Jason turned to everyone and said:
Ya better be careful.  What’s said here today may wind up in Chris’s blog.

Well, here ya go guys.  Don’t worry.  Nothing bad here.  I promise.

We walked all over Block, and I’d like to think the exercise, I’ve been doing the past few weeks helped my endurance over the course of the day.  An amazing day overall made better by good friends and lots of fond memories.  Just wished Tim didn’t live so far away.  I enjoy his company as he is full of laughter, joy and positive energy.  He’s the type of person I align myself with now.  I’ve NEVER seen him at a negative point.  Love his energy.

Last year when he was up BI didn’t happen for some reason and it was the first or second time in many years that I didn’t make it there.  I think more than anything else the people I travel with make the experience all the better.  It’s the place too.  No denying that.  I feel more at home, more at peace on Block Island than just about any other place I’ve EVER visited.  That feeling is what draws me back year after year.

I have to be with the right people though too, however.  Fortunately, all of my friends share the same appreciation for Block.  I seem to attract people to my sphere who share similar traits.  I think ANY of my friends, even those who’ve never set foot on the island, would come to appreciate the feeling of peace that Block Island lends.

Another interesting fact regarding Sunday’s trip to BI and the people who went:
Put Tim and Jason and I in the same room and things can spiral down to the gutter pretty quickly.  Tim’s friends fit right in.

We were missing one and we kept telling Tim’s friends:
Holy cow if he was here things would be SOOOO much worse.
How could they be worse?  they wanted to know.  Oh trust us they’d get worse sooner.

It’s what I mean when I said we have to be with the right people.  It’s your friends that make anyplace worthwhile.  With the right group of friends anywhere can be heaven.  Block Island has ALWAYS been heaven for me because I choose the right people to go with.

Where is your place of peace?
Do you agree that the people you’re with can make the place?

Be Happy!  Be Well!  Be Positive!


Enders Island Mystic, Connecticut

Enders Island in Mystic, Connecticut is a Catholic retreat center just outside the center of Mystic, Connecticut.  I travelled there a few years ago to photograph the retreat center.  It’s amazing how I felt upon arriving.  A sense of calm, of peace came over me.  If you’re close to Mystic I highly recommend taking a drive there.  In the meantime, if you can’t drive there, sit back in the comfort of your home and take photography journey with me:
CJP Photos at Enders Island
I’ll let the images below do my speaking/writing for me today:

Be Happy!  Be Well!  Be Positive!
Blessings to you.


Milo and Molly

Something a little different for Photography Monday today:




These are my babies.   They’re brother and sister.  I was sick for over a week two weeks ago.  I think those of us who have pets as part of our family will agree that they know when something is wrong with us.  Both of of my cats wouldn’t leave my side when I was sick.  Molly was especially demonstrative which is unusual.  She can take me or leave me; which is not to say that she doesn’t like attention.

She does.

Milo on the other hand is the needy one, the clingy one, the one who won’t leave my side.  He’s at the door the moment I walk in, crying, walking between my legs.  When I was sick, they were both competing for my attention.  When I napped, they both jumped in my bed.  Walking around the house, they were both under my feet.  They knew something wasn’t right.

How bout you who have pets?  Do you have similar stories?

Be Happy!  Be Well!  Be Positive!
Blessings to you.


Raw vs Jpg

Mondays keep steamrolling along.  Here we are at another Photography Monday column — Wow!
Let’s discuss shooting Raw vs shooting Jpg today.  As I tweeted last Monday, I’ve been shooting digital since 2005 and just within the last three months have migrated to Raw.  So glad I FINALLY made the leap.

What held me back?  I THOUGHT when shooting Raw, everything would go manual; manual focus, manual ISO etc.  After discussing this with several photographers I realized I was incorrect.  See?  The old adage proves true yet again.  You REALLY can learn something new all the time.

What is the advantage to shooting Raw?
–There is no compression (files are extremely big) Meaning there is much more data to work with.

–You can edit an image and not work on the original image.

So why am I shooting Raw now?
As with any decision, it comes down to personal choice and experience.  If you’re just starting out in the DSLR field, then I DO recommend beginning by shooting Jpg.  There is steeper learning curve when it comes to shooting Raw.  Start slow and move up.  Once you’re comfortable with your camera and you’ve shot with it for a time, then play with Raw.  Go back and forth for awhile.

I think eventually you’ll see the benefits of shooting Raw full time.  For the average photographer, someone who simply wants to shoot family and and occasionally venture out into landscape and nature, shooting Raw probably isn’t the way to go.  You’ll know what type of photographer you are, which category you fall into.

For myself, I knew I was interested in going professional from the moment I put my hands on my first SLR when I was 17.  That interest never flagged and when I migrated to digital, the flame burned brighter.

So what is a Raw image?
In the simplest term, think of Raw as a digital negative.  You have so much more control over what you can do with a Raw image.

Make a mistake with lighting?
You can edit it in Raw.

White balance off?
You can fix that in Raw too.

In a Raw image, there is no compression.  When you shoot Jpg, the camera compresses the size of the image and by compressing the image you lose valuable data; data that can be used when shooting Raw.

Shooting Raw was a natural progression for me.  From film to point and shoot digital to Digital SLR.  As from film to Jpg to Raw.  I recommend everyone at least dabble in Raw at some point during their digital experience.  I realize above I mentioned it isn’t for everyone, but how will you know which photographer you are unless you play with Raw for awhile.

Good luck with your choice.

Be Happy!  Be Well!  Be Positive!
Blessings to you.


White Rock Bridge

So I took last week off Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and on Thursday I took a ride to Pawcatuck, Connecticut.  Why Pawcatuck?  What’s there and by the way where the heck is Pawcatuck, I bet you’re asking.

There’s a bridge I discovered there several years ago with my Dad.  We took a drive to the Eastern part of Connecticut when he worked in New London.  I don’t recall the exact reason for the trip, but I brought along my camera as I typically don’t like to be without it.  At the time I only had a four megapixel Canon.  My Dad knew about this bridge and he thought I’d like to shoot it.  He was right.

The White Rock Bridge is an old black steel foot bridge with White Rock Road navigating the bridge to the left.  The Pawcatuck River flows under the bridge.  On one side of the River is an old mill.  You can still see the smoke stack rising out of the tree line:

I would love to get back there in the spring when everything is just blooming.  The greenery and maybe some flowering trees would be magnificent to shoot.  Autumn would be nice too.  Alas this year the colors were muted.  I’m sure I didn’t miss any color since there was very little reds and oranges to speak of anywhere in the Northeast.  It’s one of the reasons spring is my favorite time to shoot.  I’ve never been disappointed with spring blossoms.  Autumn can be hit or miss as clearly evidenced this year.

My goal is to return to Pawcatuck in the spring so I can shoot the bridge then as well.  As I strolled along the footbridge on Thursday, I saw a cormorant:

sitting on a stump in the river.  It was then that I wished I had brought my 70 -300mm lens from the car.  I wasn’t about to trek back however.  By the time I returned to the river, the bird would probably be gone anyway and as I focused on the cormorant and took a few photos, shortly after my last shot, the bird dove into the water as if saying:
See?  I wouldn’t have been here when you returned anyway.

I walked back along the footbridge and took a few more shots and when I was happy, I hiked back to the car.

If you’d like to see my entire gallery, you can click the link below:
White Rock Bridge Photography
Pawcatuck, Connecticut

When I left the area I thought of both of my Grandfathers.  My Dad’s father carried his camera everywhere he went, a Minolta AE1.  I thought:
Now this is something he’d have loved to shoot.  And of course my maternal grandfather is always in my thoughts when I have my camera since he was the person who gave me this sickness.  He bought me my VERY first camera.  You can read my Photographer’s Statement to see how he influenced me with that one gift.  That camera opened up a completely new world and I always think of him now when I’m out shooting.

Be Happy!  Be Well!  Be Positive!
Blessings to you.


The Thankful Month

Take a look at these two photos I took on Friday, November 11, 2011:

What do you see?  We look at things all the time.  How often do we see?  How often do we spend time seeing what’s in front of us, not simply watching life pass by.  How often do we think about the events in our lives, the days that signify the months in the year?

What I find fascinating about the month of November is that fact that two significant days fall on that month.  Some of my friends call November the Thankful Month.  Why do you suppose that is?  The obvious answer is that Thanksgiving falls in November.  Heck the word Thanks is in the word.  Every year when November rolls around I can’t help but consider an ancillary reason November is The Thankful Month.  Another important day happens to occur in November:
Veteran’s Day

It’s unfortunate that many see the day as simply another day off from school or work.  They don’t give pause to consider how lucky we are to live in a country that is free.
–Freedom of Speech.
–Freedom of Religion.
–The Right to Vote.

These are just a few rights American Citizens have.  Were it not for the bravery of America’s service men and women, these and many other rights may not exist.

Remember to be thankful NOT just for home and hearth, NOT just friends and family.
Remember to thank the military.
Remember to shake the hand of someone in uniform.
Remember to give pause.

And remember that November is the Thankful Month.

Feel free to visit my Veteran’s Day Gallery:
Veteran’s Day Ceremony 2011
Madison, Connecticut

Be Happy!  Be Well!  Be Positive!
Blessings to you.