Project Athena - Day 365!!!!!

Endings and Beginnings

I have been considering all year what I would say when it came to this final day of Project Athena. Now that it's here, I just find myself in a place of stillness and gratitude. I remember every single photograph that was taken, the details of what I experienced, who I met along the way, the technical lessons, and of course, how it felt to be there in that moment. This has been one of the most valuable gifts I have allowed into my life. It has changed me. I feel myself to be more confident, aware, determined, open, and focused. There were many "truths" revealed along the way and a few formidable "ah-has" that stand out:

First, to commit to an activity that requires showing up every single day for a year was a challenge in many ways for me. I hate being controlled, even if it is by my own commitments. But there was genuine fun, passion and joy for me in shooting and writing everyday and that was the moxie propelling me forward. My biggest temptation to quit came when I injured my back and the physical pain zapped my creativity. I considered using this life event as an excuse to withdraw from the whole project. I am so glad now that I didn't let that become a snag that kept me from achieving my aspiration. Instead, I let the pure enjoyment of shooting and writing be the remedial balm that kept me motivated to heal. And today, I am completely pain free.

Second, there is not one experience, choice, achievement, mistake or event in a life stream that can wholly define a person. We may choose to attach ourselves to certain stories that we think give meaning to our existence here, but life is too grande to let a moment in time decide our essence. This project was a moment in time. The achievement feels wonderful. The memories contribute to this life stream. And at the end of the day, who I am can't be put into a tidy little box of accomplishments. When I am 95, I will remember this year as the the one I decided to pick up a camera and open my eyes to the world in a new way. It was the beginning of some things and the ending of others. It was the year I decided that my value in the universe is innate, the year I finally let go of trying to prove I am worthy of love and belonging.

What comes next? For me, this is just the beginning of my photography calling. I plan to continue shooting everyday that I can, learning from books and mentors, and I am putting out the intention to photograph certain subjects in more depth. I foresee travel in my future. I foresee submitting photos and writing to various publications. And I foresee continuing to blog. So stay tuned. If you are a subscriber to this blog, I will send you an invitation to whatever comes next.

To everyone who made this project possible with your love, support, inspiration, encouragement and comments, THANK YOU FROM THE DEPTHS OF MY HEART!!!! You let me into your year, your days, you lives and your hearts. This is an honor and a privilege I do not take lightly. I hope you enjoy this final photo of Project Athena!

Poudre River
Fujifilm X-E2 • Fuji XF18-135mm lens • 18mm • F/20 •  45s • ISO 200 • ND Filter

Project Athena - Day 363 (Night Photography)

A late night shoot on a deserted campus tonight yielded a plethora of shots, including one of a little toad that seemed to have lost her way home. But this stair shot was my favorite of the evening. Lucky for the toad, Lara was with me because she went into "save-the-toad-mode" while I took this picture and carefully carried our photogenic friend back to the lagoon.

CSU Lory Student Center, Fort Collins, CO
Fujifilm X-E2 • Fuji XF18-135mm lens • 27.9mm • F/10 •  13s • ISO 400

Okay, for those of you who want to see the toad too....

Night Toad

Project Athena - Day 362 (Night Photography)

Liquid Air Anyone?

I've seen these towers so many times and never really knew what they were. As it turns out, they are the part of an Praxias facility. I certainly don't know enough about this place to share any tidbits, I just thought it made for a cool night shot.

Praxair Liquid Air Plant, Loveland, Colorado
Fujifilm X-E2 • Fuji XF18-135mm lens • 21.6mm • F/13 • 4s • ISO 400

Project Athena - Day 361 (Night Photography)

Night Fever

This is a shot from last night's outing. The full moon was so gorgeous and the temperature was perfect. I felt a bit of summer "night fever" calling me to just stay out all night long shooting. It passed almost as quickly as it came and I started yawning. My bed was calling louder.

Woodward Building, Loveland, CO
Fujifilm X-E2 • Fuji XF18-135mm lens • 23.3mm • F/13 • 125.0s • ISO 400

 

Project Athena - Day 360 (Night Photography)

Everything Evolves

As I was just gathering my equipment to head out to shoot on this warm summer evening, I decided to go ahead and post for today so when I get home late tonight, I can just come in and crash, then post tonight's photo tomorrow.

I have shot this bridge before, way back in the beginning of this blog when I was shooting lines as a theme. This shot is a slightly different perspective. I have to say I am still loving my Fujifilm camera and the way it is performing with these night shots. The bridge itself has also had some upgrades, with stairs added to the end of the ramps. I still think it is one of the cooler places to shoot in Fort Collins.

I find myself feeling a sense of sadness and pride mixed together to be bringing this blog to its conclusion. Doing something everyday for an entire year is a big deal for me cause often rebel against my own commitments when I start to feel controlled by them. But this has been different for me. I know there is a deeper purpose and that has been the fuel that has propelled me each and every day. I do have some what of game plan to continue shooting and sharing once this is done. I think, however, if I have to stay tuned to the end to find out exactly what that plan is, you should too. So, I will reveal it on day 365, assuming it is clear to me!

 

Max Station Bridge, Fort Collins, CO
Fujifilm X-E2 • Fuji XF18-135mm lens • 24.3mm • F/16 • 7.5s • ISO 400

 

Project Athena - Day 359 (Night Photography)

Night Moves

When the sun goes down and the sky gradually turns dark, I normally put my camera in its bag and call it a day. I am discovering that night time can be when many beautiful photos are snapped. Certainly the low light presents some challenges but I am getting more familiar with the shutter speeds, exposures, and lightning and loving the results.

Washington School Building, Loveland, CO
Fujifilm X-E2 • Fuji XF18-135mm lens • 24.3mm • F/14 • 20s • ISO 400

Project Athena - Day 358 (Night Photography)

The Final Week

This is the final week of Project Athena!! I think it's fitting that the theme I have chosen to close with is night photography. This theme should be a real challenge for me as I have not really taken many night shots over the years, but I am very excited about bringing this year long project to a conclusion with some great night shots.

Tonight, I shot in downtown Fort Collins, which is kind of a ghost town on Sunday nights. Still, I appreciate so much living in a place where I feel safe on the streets by myself after dark.

Project Athena - Day 357 (Street Photography)

Cuteness

What a great way to end this theme. This little girl just caught my eye as she sat near the water fountain to eat her special treat. She was in her own world, people watching and just being cute. Kids are very camera savvy these days with almost all of our devices having the ability to take a picture so it was great to capture this moment of innocence.

Cuteness

Fujifilm X-E2 • Fuji XF18-135mm lens • 122.60mm • F/6.4 • 1/400s • IS 1000

Project Athena - Day 356 (Street Photography)

A Family Affair

I recognize that look on the little girl's face. Pissed, determined, ready for a fight. She obviously did not get something she really wanted. I also recognize the mom's expression. Frustration and worry with a tinge of pride. Ahh...those were the days, eh Mom? We probably walked down this very same sidewalk when I was that age and had a very similar interaction, more than once. Sorry for all the grief I caused for you. Glad we made it through that time whole.

A Family Affair
Fujifilm X-E2 • Fuji XF18-135mm lens • 41.3mm • F/5.6 • 1/250s • IS 1000

 

Project Athena - Day 354 (Street Photography)

Bus Stop

Today's street photography outing was interesting because I was asked by several people to not photograph them. Of course, I honor that request when it happens and immediately delete any images on my camera. I know it's not personal and their reasons are none of my business. I think of like catch and release fishing. I also recognize my vibration has everything to do with what I attract and today, well...let's just say I was feeling kind of crabby.

All of that is to say I pulled the one image I have in my archives that I would consider street photography. I took last June at one of the Max stations in Fort Collins.

Bus Stop Girl
Nikon D3200 • Nikon 18-55mm lens • 18mm • F/14 • 1/320s • ISO 400

Project Athena - Day 353 (Street Photography)

The Human Condition

According to Wikipedia, Street photography is photography that portrays the human condition in public places. The photo does not necessarily need the presence of a street, an urban environment or even a human subject.  There really is no specific subject matter for the Street Photographer. Only the issue of ‘life’ in general.

I am falling in love with this genre because when I leave the house to go shoot, I do not have an agenda. I can't possibly visualize the photographs in advance of taking them. It's quite refreshing to be honest and it feels more like a simple ‘Zen’ experience. I'm discovering that I KNOW when I have my shot and if I spend too long thinking about it, the opportunity is lost. There are no props or lighting to worry about. There is no time for changing lenses or adding filters. There is only that split second to recognize and react to a happening.

So how do I choose a "happening"? It seems to choose me. There is a high degree of empathetic connection with what/who I choose to capture. for instance, today I saw myself in this man. While I no longer smoke cigarettes, I could easily remember what it was like to find a private place, by myself, where I could relax, light up a cigarette and just take in some long, deep, breaths of smoke and nicotine. I also remember the angst I felt because no one else I hung out with smoked and someone was always wondering where I had disappeared to. Glad those days are behind me, for lots of reasons. I still enjoy the moments of privacy to take in long, deep breaths. Just without the cigarette.

Smoke Break
Fujifilm X-E2 • Fuji XF18-135mm lens • 135mm • F/5.6 • 1/180s • IS 800

Project Athena - Day 352 (Street Photography)

Diversity Makes the World Go Round

Yesterday's shoot was fruitful in many ways and I wanted to share another photo from the rally because I learned so much about myself, my camera, and people.

I've always considered myself shy and introverted but what I discovered yesterday is that I am actually not that shy. When I am by myself, yet out in the world with other people, I am very willing to interact and engage with them. I am keenly listening to my intuition as it guides me to the locations and interactions I am supposed to have. For the most part, I find people fascinating and am willing to open my heart with a total stranger. I think the reason I have been labeled as shy is because when I am with my friends, family or beloveds, my focus is on them, not the outside world. Huh.

I learned that my camera is ideal for Street Photography because it is super quiet, small, and unobtrusive. I also learned that a prime lens might be a better option for this genre so I don't rely on shooting from a distance and zooming in. There is something about being street level and getting close that make the images more compelling.

People are just people. Yesterday, I observed everything from big, burly, bearded men cuddling their babies to leather clad biker chicks taking selfies with their best friends. We all want connection. We all want to feel safe and secure in the world we live in. We all want to know love and affection. No matter what image we play in this life, we are all one humanity.

Realities Ride, Downtown Fort Collins, 2015
Nikon D3200 • Nikon 18-55mm lens • 122.60mm • F/8 • 1/200s • ISO 400

Project Athena - Day 351 (Street Photography)

The Home Stretch

Let’s face it, starting street photography as one of my final themes could be a real challenge for me because I have very little practice in this genre. Going from shooting flowers to shooting black-leather clad bikers in the streets is like climbing into a Lamborghini after driving a Toyota Prius. A bit overwhelming at first but seriously fun once the car is racing.

Today was extremely intimidating at first but then it became quite exhilarating as I let the energy of the crowd carry me. Eventually, I noticed that I was not worrying about what anyone might be thinking about me in my tie-dye and shorts. In fact, I felt almost invisible moving my way through the crowd and just observing through my lens this subculture living their lives.

Realities for Children Poker Run, Downtown Fort Collins, 2015

Fujifilm X-E2 • Fuji XF18-135mm lens • 98.6mm • F/5.6 • 1/100s • IS 200

Project Athena - Day 350 (Selfie Care)

A Nature Walk

Today's Self Care: A Nature Walk

A walk in nature is, for me, the most healing activity I know. The rain let up for a short while today and the sun made a rare appearance here in Northern Colorado. Luckily, I was already out on the trail, determined to connect with the earth today. I think I walked about 2 miles with all the little diversions i took to look at the fast flowing Poudre River which is running out of its banks in places. Can I just say again, even though I have said it many times over the course of this blog, "we have a beautiful Mother" (planet).

Trekking on a Trail by the River Fujifilm X-E2 • Fuji XF18-135mm lens • 93.2mm • F/11 • 1/500s • ISO 640

Trekking on a Trail by the River
Fujifilm X-E2 • Fuji XF18-135mm lens • 93.2mm • F/11 • 1/500s • ISO 640

Project Athena - Day 349 (Selfie Care)

Recovery Foods!

Today's Self Care: Whole foods with healthy nutrients for speedy healing.

Did you know that injury recovery follows a highly organized and predictable pattern? This is something I have recently learned from my physical therapists who continue to encourage me when I am wanting things to move heal quicker. In both soft tissue and bone recovery, inflammation is the first step in the process of clearing away damaged cells.  After that, recovery is all about building up new, functionally equivalent connective tissue and/or bone.

Nutrition plays a huge role in how quickly these healing processes can take place! Foods rich in vitamin C, vitamin A, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, zinc, and protein all aid in the bodies recovery from both chronic and acute injuries. The last few days I have had a wide variety of yummy, yet wholesome foods and I have to confess, I can feel a difference in my body.

Berries!
Fujifilm X-E2 • Fuji XF18-135mm lens • 93.2mm • F/9 • 1/180s • ISO 3200

Project Athena - Day 348 (Selfie-Care)

A Walk in the Garden

Today's self care: A walk, by myself, in one of the most beautiful gardens I know, the Denver Botanical Gardens. I walked at a leisurely pace, I sat and rested when I needed to, I photographed when inspired, I even stretched for awhile in the Japanese Garden. The fresh scent of lilacs hung in the air at every twist and turn in the paths. It was like bathing in a fragrant, warm flower bath. The overcast, cool weather was perfect for shooting although it must have discouraged some folks from coming out because it seemed like I was the only one there today.

Denver Botanical Gardens

Fujifilm X-E2 • Fuji XF18-135mm lens • 43.9mm • F/22 • .4s • ISO 640

Project Athena - Day 347 (Selfie Care)

Sometimes Action. Sometimes Pills.

I never thought I would see the day when I would take more than 1 pill a month. Now I have 15 pills I take everyday of the week. Granted, most are nutraceutical versus pharmaceutical, but it's still hard for me to swallow these precious gems some days. I have to remind myself  that I love the way they support my body, especially right now!

The Golden Pills Fujifilm X-E2 • Fuji XF18-135mm lens • 135mm • F/11 • 1/20s • ISO 400

The Golden Pills

Fujifilm X-E2 • Fuji XF18-135mm lens • 135mm • F/11 • 1/20s • ISO 400

Project Athena - Day 346 (Selfie-Care)

The Purrfect Day for a Nap

A half of a muscle relaxant today and it was lights out for me. I curled up under a quilt my Granny made and slept for almost 3 hours. What a purrfect day for a nap! It was cold, windy, and raining outside. My workload was light. And my body reminded me that rest is vital in the healing process. I think I even out slept the cats today. The picture of course in a reenactment but that really is me under the covers and Mr Yourt P-Togurt checking on me.

Yogi Checking on Me While Napping
Fujifilm X-E2 • Fuji XF18-135mm lens • 26.6mm • F/9 • 2s • ISO 400