Let’s Blog, Dog!

Met with Skyler the Surfing Dog’s dad, today. We are doing a blog for Big Pete’s Treats, and I’m hoping that we can follow Homer and Skyler on the road to the world championships of dog surfing!

Stay tuned, and check out Big Pete’s Treats to learn more about this amazing duo! We will post a blog there later this week! Till then, check out this video of Skyler getting tubed! Is this the first ever dog barrel?

Portraiture of Character

Erin by the water

Portraits are powerful because they show us a glimpse into the character of a person.

There is something magical about the simplicity of an image of a person’s face.

The goal of portraits is to show something true about a person. It is a way of adding to the human story.

Finding the Right Flowers: Cannabis Brands and Strains

The different experiences you can have with cannabis are supremely vast. As a lover of cannabis and an advocate for its use, I want to explain this fact to people who might be canna-curious, so they don’t give up if they don’t find the right fit at first. You can smoke cannabis and feel horrible if it is not good or a good match for you. In the same dispensary you can find other flowers that will make you feel so much better it is hard to believe they are on the same shelf. 

How do you know what will work for you? When you are newer to cannabis, you have several factors to consider, but the first one is your sense of smell. The nose knows. Both when you break open a bud and expose the resinous trichomes and when you light it on fire your nose anticipates the feeling. The taste is greatly associated with how it is going to feel. For this reason, the experience of smoking should be enjoyable from beginning to end and if it becomes harsh or unpleasant than you are either doing it wrong or consuming the wrong flower.

When you find high quality cannabis grown by someone who has gone through the learning curve of experimentation and has a workflow that produces a reliably high-quality product you are in luck. I suggest looking for farms, for cannabis flower brands, and for genetics specialists to find the best bud for you. Then, experiment with the different strains that they produce. I love the flowers grown over at Caring Kind and so for me, I know that I can choose any of their flowers and have a good experience. Stony and co. are producing an array of delicious flavors and every one of them I’ve tried has carried the same level of care and craft. For me, connecting with a grower is key. There is so much to growing cannabis, and when you find someone who loves the craft, you are in luck.

Is there a difference between Indica and Sativa? Oh yes there is. The variety of effects even among the highest quality flowers from the best growers varies greatly. Some people get bad anxiety when they smoke high THC sativa flowers. Other people get knocked flat by a heavy indica. That’s the second thing you must figure out. Sativa, the active “functional” high; or indica, the sedated and mellowed out feeling. What are you going to do when you smoke? Different activities might ask for different flowers. Heavy indicas might reach some pain you are experiencing better and help you to sleep, and you might get inspired with some great ideas from a heady sativa. There is a difference, and it matters, a lot. 

Cannabis consumption for adult use can be a safe and productive set of therapeutic tools to use in your arsenal of work and self-care. To receive the benefits of this amazing plant and to minimize the negative side effects, you want to choose wisely. When it comes to cannabis flowers, you are better off spending more on quality flowers and consuming less. Ultimately, you have to experiment to figure out what is going to work for you in the different ways you might choose to consume cannabis. 

Learning which flowers work best for you is a very fun experimental process. Just go slow and take notes on how it feels. Spend the first five minutes of consuming cannabis focusing on how it is making you feel and then go jump into that work out or go on that hike or whatever you like to use cannabis to enhance. That way, you will know how to make the smartest choice when buying cannabis flowers for your personal use.

Mooniversal: Our Time Together

As soon as the world closed down I knew that I wanted to photograph the moon. Anything to speak a common language in a time of global discord.

This was the last moon of California’s shutdown. With the next full moon, things are supposed to be fully back open.

I for one am happy that things are opening back up and I look forward to exploring our new future together.

Strain Review: SC Breath by Caring Kind

We are in an insanely good place for cannabis right now. There are still big challenges and histories of injustice to overcome, but there are some seriously vital signs of improvement. We seem to be on a path to federal legalization or decriminalization at least. In California, the nation’s largest legal cannabis market, there are some great pockets of progress.

Here in Santa Cruz, we have a legacy of world class cannabis, and so when a brand puts that message on their packaging you should pay attention. Caring Kind World Class Cannabis Flowers are a Clean Green Certified cannabis farm growing some of the best flowers you could ever imagine.

I recently had a chance to try their SC Breath and ya boy is impressed. It seems like everyone is racing to chase the highest THC strains, and I love a good strong heavy hitter myself, but there are so many times during the day when something less devastating would be nice. Coming in at 21.15% THC, this strain is an Indica Hybrid, but is less likely to have you going to sleep ahead of plans. The overall impact is just a perfectly balanced mind/ body high. It feels clear and bright and just the right amount of stony. This is a flower I could puff on all day.

SC Breath is loud. Let me repeat. This bud bumps. It has the dankest tangiest smell imaginable and when you put it in the air it’s an outdoor concert of kind. It’s the type of bud you can smell being smoked a mile away and it makes your mouth water. 

The cure on these flowers is perfect. They are sticky little rocks of stoniness. They are resinous and you can feel the trichomes pop as you break apart the bud. The genetics are a OGKB crossed with Stony Cookies and they are bred by Mantra seeds. This is an outstanding flower great for being active, for creativity and for everyday all day use.

The Epistemology of Hate in Shakespeare’s The Tempest

Hot take. The Tempest is not one of Shakespeare’s best plays. We come to Shakespeare with an entire history of criticism before us. Even if we don’t understand why, we think some of the plays are more important. We inherit a belief about which ones are most valuable, which characters are most interesting. Here’s the thing: people have been blinded by what they don’t want to see. There is an epistemology of hate. People know what they allow themselves to understand, and they reject any kind of knowledge that interferes with their beliefs.

The result is to have created a lopsided canon, a version of Shakespeare that fits an ideology. It is an ideology of power and hatred. This is not to say that Shakespeare himself was racist or misogynistic, but that many characters in the plays are. Furthermore, the way we have read and valued the plays is also through an ideological lens. The way we have read Shakespeare says a lot about the limitations of our worldview.

The Tempest is a play about hate more than it is about love. The love is staged, it is shallow and fake. The hate is real, though, and it goes deep. It is a cancerous hatred between brothers. Hatred is portrayed as a blinding force, as an overwhelming urge to do the wrong thing. The villains in Shakespeare are not in control of their actions. They are impelled by some powerful negative belief. They are tormented figures who attempt to transform their suffering by interfering with happy people’s plans. Through this exercise of negative power, they try to feel better.

Caliban’s hatred of Prospero and Miranda derives from his disappointed sense of entitlement, of his social isolation. He is alienated from everyone, a wretch. Caliban is surely a model for Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. His famous response to Miranda’s chiding him that she had taught him to speak is the essence of the wretch’s consciousness in Shelley’s novel. “You taught me language, and my profit on’t is I know how to curse. The red plague rid you for learning me your language!”

Miranda addresses Caliban as abhorred slave. They recall how he attempted to rape her, and he states that he wishes he had succeeded. It is not a very friendly situation. Kind of toxic if you ask me. The idea that people love this play strongly suggests that they are aligned with an ideology of hate. 

I also don’t think that the figure of Prospero is analogous to a writer for the theater. He is more of a slave master than anything. He represents someone banished who becomes powerful in the land where they are exiled. Although the colonization of the Americas was only beginning, it is easier to see Prospero as a colonist than a director of the theater. 

He enslaves Caliban and Ariel to do his work on the island and motivates their employment with threats and cruel tortures. He justifies it left and right. He saved Caliban from his wretched condition through education. He freed Ariel from a pine tree where she was stuck. For these acts of liberation, he assumes a fee of total obedience. He frees them only to make them into slaves. 

The Tempest like many of Shakespeare’s plays shows us how blind we are to our own subjectivity. Characters in the play act from a sense of urgency they in many ways do not understand. Ideology, the influence of the ideas of the ruling class, and epistemology, our ways of knowing, will always be intertwined. Our ability to know is limited by our ideological beliefs, especially when they are motivated by hatred. 

Looking for Compositions: Previsualization in Landscape Photography

One of the ways landscape photographers have legitimized their craft as an artform is by this idea of previsualization. This artistic direction is epitomized by Ansel Adams, who preached the idea of envisioning the photograph before taking it. This kind of determined and deliberate approach to making photographs is very different than the tradition of photojournalism. Henri Cartier-Bresson coined the term the decisive moment to describe what it was he hunted for in his compositions. For him, previsualization was impossible. To capture that elusive moment required stealth, spontaneity, and quickness. In this dichotomy, you can sense something of the idea posed by Jeff Wall that photographers are either farmers or hunters.

There is another category that is not part of Wall’s interesting configuration and that is photographer as shepherd. On any given day, you can find this version of photographer trying to get a group of people to stand in a particular pattern in front of a picturesque background. The drive of this work is to assemble a group, to bring them into a space and to make photographs out of their synchronized smiling. For the shepherd photographer, there is something of the hunter and of the farmer in their process. They need to both have studied the landscape to know the light and how to use it in a composition, but they are also looking for those moments of emotional truth when laughter or joy spark in their subjects. The shepherd photographer leads a group and sometimes must charm them to feel comfortable in the setting.

The shepherd photographer can previsualize a lot of the elements and they must be ready to respond to spontaneous things that happen in the landscape with the light. The landscape photographer can focus more on previsualization because they don’t need to pay attention to subjects who are constantly moving and may not be altogether agreeable to the process. The landscape never minds. The journalist has all kinds of other challenges, including the risk of being confronted by people who may not want their photograph taken.

The portrait photographer is like the shepherd but has a more intimate relation to the subject since it is a one-on-one situation. In the portrait session, you can see parallels to all different kinds of professional relationships. The portrait photographer is part director, part trainer, part coach, part therapist, part friend. There is a psychological component to portrait photography that makes it very interesting.

Each of these different modes of photography requires a different set of skills and habits. You are looking for different elements in each field but the thing that is common to all modes of making photographs is the idea of looking for compositions. For a photograph to work, it needs a powerful composition. The way a photograph leads the eye around the image is the make-or-break element for all the different kinds of photography. Composition is the unified field of photography.

The question of what makes a good composition is highly personal and it is through answering that question that a photographer develops a sense of style. When making photographs, you are constantly studying how the world translates into a two-dimensional form through all kinds of various technological constraints. You must learn about depth of field, compression of images through the distortion of a lens, and other optical effects of photographic technique. Through experimentation, you can learn what elements you need to exist to take a good photograph.

One of the ways that you can look for compositions is by walking. As you walk and notice the shifting perspective between elements you can begin to see when certain alignments happen. For example, there is a composition I have been eyeing that I am going to photograph this morning. This is my previsualization. It is of the surfer sculpture on West Cliff with the aloes in full bloom right now. I have been watching the flowers for some time getting ready for when they are peaking to get a shot of this iconic spot. Yesterday as I was walking my dog by, I saw exactly the shot I wanted as I moved along the sidewalk the flowers the sculpture and the boardwalk behind it all came into an alignment that felt like something clicking into place. That is the feeling. It’s like a seat belt fastens. All the sudden you just know that it is secure.

So, I’m calling my shot this morning and painting the picture of the photograph that I am going to take before I get out there and get it. Previsualization, baby. It’s an interesting practice that takes some time to get to. You have to know what shots are possible, you have to study a particular location over a period of time, and then you must time it correctly so that the light adds in the final elements to the alignment of subjects in space. When all of these things come together, you have a magical photograph. The trick to managing that is to do tons of work ahead of time figuring out what is possible so that you can zero in on one idea and find the ideal moment to realize your composition.

If photography is to live up to its name and function as writing and not just decoration, then composition is key. It is through assembling the elements of a photograph in a particular form that great photographs are achieved. To do this, you need to study and practice photographing your subject over time so that when you see that alignment happen you can be prepared to follow through on your vision.