Sunday, May 24, 2015

100 Strangers... a work in progress

Well it seems like a bazillion years ago, but it was only around July 2011 I first saw a book by Neil Winch about his 100 strangers project.  I don't know where he found out about it or what got him started, but I was fascinated.   The object was to photograph 100 strangers.   So that's introduce yourself, explain the project, find out a bit about them, get the shot and say goodbye within minutes.  The aim is to get a well lit expressive portrait.  I thought it was way too hard for me to attempt, but I was hooked.   Roll on August and I still hadn't taken a shot, but I found myself at the Cessnock Regional Art Gallery for an exhibition.  I had my camera and there were people everywhere.... I spied Stephen James, one of the exhibiting artists.   I had to act. It was now or never!   To my absolute surprise he agreed and the shot was taken.  By September I had 14 in the bag and I met up with the adorable, talented, witty, charming and delightful Chris Belyea for a walk around Sydney.  He challenged me to a "first to 5",  portraits for the day and he won... but ever the gentleman said I had won, which was very much not the case!

By February 2012 I was up to Stranger 38 when I again went to Sydney to meet Neil Winch, who had flown up from Melbourne.  He, Peter Grifoni, Evan Robinson and another guy met up for a stranger shoot in Newtown.  The boys were prolific shooters, Peter even dragging cafe staff out into the street for his shots.  They produced some amazing work that day.  I bagged just 3.  On the trip down by train I began to feel very unwell.  In fact I had to leave early and got back to Central to wait for a train north when I was overwhelmed with sickness.  Upset, ill, crying I rang Chris Belyea.  I knew he would be a the voice of reason.  He offered to drive into Central,  pick me up and drive me home to Lake Macquarie.  I didn't accept. That journey would have taken him more than 5 hours,  but we talked. He offered options.  Travel as far as I could north and when I could travel no more he would come and get me.  Knowing I had an alternative to passing out on the train gave me the courage to go on and I made it initially to Hornsby, then Wyong and finally Morisset.  Chris ringing and reassuring me all the way.

Towards the end of March 2012 Chris and his wonderful wife Sally came up to Kurri Kurri for the Nostalgia Festival where Sally enjoyed the music and the mayhem and Chris and I shot Strangers.  I was struggling with no energy and feeling ill, but I bagged 3 great shots that day.   Less than a month later I was diagnosed with cancer.  My last shot was on ANZAC Day 2012, no. 50.  I knew I would be out of action for a time.  I began shooting sporadically after that.  For a long time I couldn't even carry my camera.  Shots came in slowly.  ANZAC Day 2013 I shot Chris. Just 10 Strangers over 12 months.  I began to think I wouldn't ever finish the project.   Chris is a member of the Galston Uniting Church Men's Choir and they travel to Rathmines to sing at every ANZAC Day.   I shot him and his wife that day.  Chris too suffered from cancer.  I was too ill to attend the 2014 service.  Roll on ANZAC Day 2015 and we met again at the Rathmines Service.  Chris had spent most of the last 12 months in hospital and I had only managed 5 Strangers in 2 years.   He encouraged me to keep going.

So now it is May 2015 and I picked up the camera again.  I bagged Stranger 66 yesterday at Maitland.  She looked so interesting and her story reflected her look.  Just 34 to go.  At my current rate that would take well over 5 years, so I need to lift my game and get it done!

Here are some of the players.  You can see them all here :

#1 Stephen James. Cessnock Regional Art Gallery.

#17 Kristen.  Shot in Sydney with Chris Belyea.

#41 Lee.  Shot in Newtown with Neil, Peter and Evan.

#46 Tony the Quiffer.  Shot at the Kurri Kurri Nostalgia Festival again with Chris Belyea.

#60 Chris of the Glaston Uniting Church Mens Choir.

#66 Kate.  Shot at Maitland yesterday.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

A Garden update.. the Autumn edition.

On the evening of 20 April Lake Macquarie and other parts of the east coast suffered some significant storms.  The high winds and torrential rain lasted for 3 days.  A lot of trees came down, a lot of property was damaged and a couple of people lost their lives.  I got off lightly.  The power was out for 36 hours and the phone ....  a whole lot longer, about 6 days!!! As a result there was a lot of damage in my veggie patch.  Some root veggies like carrots survived unscathed, but others, like ginger and garlic were awash.  I'm not sure if they will survive and prosper, only time will tell.  Above ground crops were badly affected.  All the corn was lost, an entire bed of it. Although it was planted late in the season and may not have been overly productive anyway.  I thought the broccoli was a goner, but it seems to have survived and the first heads are ready for harvest.  The silverbeet was lost, the spring onions flattened and the peas and beans and all their climbing framework was lost.

After the winds abated and the lawn began to dry out I cleaned out beds 1,3,6,7,9 and 10 and replanted with new seedlings.  20 silver beet, 4 mini cabbage, 8 brocollini, 8 cauliflower, 2 rhubarb, spring onions and a mix of different varieties of peas and beans.  There are still 4 beds unresolved.  Today the sun is out and bed number 11 is getting a makeover.  The basil in it was flattened, but has much young edible leaf.  It will have to go though and then the bed will be built up with a bag of moo poo, and a handful of troforte M, Searles 5 in 1, dynamic lifter, blood and bone and some lime for good measure.  I try to feed the soil, not the plant and it has worked for me so far... but I might be doing it very wrong.

I'm not sure what I might plant in bed 11.  Possibly more beans but it will be dependant on how the rest of the veggies are coming along and what is in stock at the nursery.  The yard needs a lot of work, there are two mid sized trees right down the back, both are harbouring dead limbs.  One assaulted me as I tried to remove it.... one is far to big for me to attempt.  Both might get a visit from Mr Nextdoors chainsaw later today if I see him!!!

Last Autumn white moth decimated my broccoli crop.  So I visited my local hardware and built a  frame of PVC covered curtain rods and plastic corner pieces that allowed me to drape mosquito netting over the frame and effectively exclude the moth.   This works well but the framing cost nearly $40.  A few weeks ago I saw flexible pvc coated metal rods that were 180cm long.  I bought 3 at the enormous amount of $2.80 each and they work in the same way.  They are only suitable for lower growing crops like cauliflower and cabbage, but work well to exclude the moth and uses less drapery in the process!  Still looking for the ideal solution, but I am moth free this season!

As usual, photos follow.

This is the set up with the 180cm bendy poles and mossie net.  Underneath is 4 drumhead cabbage and 8 broccolini I think the broccolini might grow too tall.

As the sign says!

Wish I could get more of these markers, they will last forever and are pretty groovy!

Snow peas, not my favourites, but I couldn't get any sugar snap ones. I usually plant peas and beans from seed, but after the storm took everything I used seedlings to speed up the process.

This time I used carrot tape as my last 3 attempts all failed. 

Pilchy, on guard duty!