Monthly Archives: September 2008

Agnes and Sophia

Agnes face

Thumbnail: Sophia from front
Thumbnail: Agnes from above
Thumbnail: Sophia from above
Thumbnail: Agnes profile
Thumbnail: Sophia profile
Thumbnail: Agnes side bust
Thumbnail: Sophia side bust

Still play­ing around with black-and-white tones. This time, I went with less con­trast, so more of a low-key feel, not just in the over­all scene but in the fig­ures them­selves. In doing so, the tex­ture isn’t so blown-out as in my pre­vi­ous black-and-whites.

I love the dreamy look of high-key, but for more focus on facial fea­tures, I’m start­ing to turn to a greater range of light.

Agnes and Sophia being silly

Thumbnail: Agnes and Sophia faces
Thumbnail: Agnes and Sophia back-to-back
Thumbnail: Agnes and Sophia faces
Thumbnail: Agnes and Sophia being silly
Thumbnail: Agnes and Sophia piggy back

In return for mod­el­ing for some of my oth­er projects, I agreed to give Agnes and Soph some por­traits. Siblings are gen­er­al­ly easy to work with. There’s a com­fort­ing famil­iar­i­ty that lets them act nat­u­ral­ly togeth­er. To tell them apart, one sim­ply has to observe how dif­fer­ent­ly each acts in front of a cam­era.

Tai Chi Classmates

There’s a good mix of body types and skill lev­els in my Tai Chi class. As the most junior per­son in the group, I have the ben­e­fit of always work­ing with peo­ple who are bet­ter than me (although being able to teach some­one myself would cer­tain­ly help solid­i­fy the con­cepts in my head).

Nothing beats work­ing with the teacher, who can pre­cise­ly vary his skill lev­el so one can learn and absorb things in small incre­ments, a sys­tem­at­ic way of fine-tun­ing the details at a grad­ual pace. It’s some­thing that takes a great deal of time for bet­ter results in the long-run, and I’m sure that in this sense, he’s invest­ing in his stu­dents as much as one invests in the class.

Still, there are senior stu­dents who teach me sig­nif­i­cant things with­in a sin­gle minute of work­ing with them. They fill in the gaps in my knowl­edge that I’m not sure I’d be able to fig­ure out by myself, because they’ve been at my lev­el before and under­stand what I’m doing wrong. Add to this a propen­si­ty to teach and help, and every class I walk away feel­ing like I’m improv­ing, if only by a small amount. Sometimes it’s to the point where I feel like my mind is going to explode, and the coor­di­na­tion of my body needs to catch up with the con­cepts in my brain.

But there are also senior stu­dents who seem stiff and unco­op­er­a­tive to the point where I feel I don’t learn any­thing from them. And even though I’m told they’re being nice and not over­bear­ing, I find prac­tic­ing with them to be very dif­fi­cult. It’s as if they’re work­ing too far beyond my lev­el, where my struc­ture falls apart and I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. Maybe it just means I’m not skilled enough to adjust and do it right yet. I’m still thank­ful to be able to work with them though, because at the very least, they remind me that not every­one who’s going to attack you will be coop­er­a­tive.

Tom and I

We used to have a code: I’d ask him “Hey Tom, you want to van­dal­ize the grave­yard tonight?”, this obscure line from an episode of Married…with Children.

If he respond­ed with, “No, Jeff, that would be wrong” (the next line from the episode), that meant he’d agree to throw rocks into a lit­tle stream under an over­pass dur­ing our grade 7 lunch break. When we were fin­ished eat­ing in the cafe­te­ria, we’d walk to the stream with the remains of the hour, dressed in bur­gundy tie and pine blaz­er, heav­ing any appro­pri­ate­ly sized rocks into the water. It was our goal to block the flow of the stream one day.

It was a fruit­less goal, of course, so much like every­thing we did back then, when noth­ing we did ever seemed to mat­ter. A goal we’d nev­er hope to accom­plish.

A way of say­ing, “I hope these days nev­er end. I hope I nev­er grow up, and I’m nev­er too old to throw rocks with a good friend.”

Sometimes we’d throw what was left of our lunch­es into the stream, and be reward­ed with the glimpse of a soli­tary fish break­ing the sur­face of the water and snatch­ing a morsel.

By the time we returned to class, the sheen on my brogues would be replaced by a fine lay­er of dust from walk­ing around in the grav­el. I’d wear that dust proud­ly, because no one ever knew how it got there, a secret code between him and me.

Sometimes I check up on Tommy. Not that he knows. I won­der if we could be friends again. We lead two dif­fer­ent lives, but that’s nev­er stopped me from being friends with some­one. Part of me is scared that he’s nev­er changed, nev­er grown out from the ele­men­tary school Tom I used to know — some­thing all too com­mon in my expe­ri­ence — and I’d just rather not know. It’s enough for me not to con­tact him.

But I still root for him, not because we used to be such good friends, but because I know that if he can make it, so can I.

Long Weekend

It’s almost two in the morn­ing. Yet again, I should be sleep­ing, but I’m writ­ing now, not because the inspi­ra­tion is par­tic­u­lar­ly strik­ing, but because I don’t know when I’ll have a chance to write again. So now I’m enjoy­ing my new scent­ed can­dles and the way the apple cin­na­mon aro­ma mix­es with the night air com­ing through my back door.

I need­ed this long week­end.

Julie and I just got back from Pat and Jen’s one-year anniver­sary par­ty, in which I was final­ly able to give them the anniver­sary gift I’d been sav­ing since the wed­ding: a col­lec­tion of video mes­sages left by guests dur­ing the recep­tion (record­ed on the lap­top I’m using to type this right now, no less).

I also got a chance to try their new Wii Fit, learned how to play Bohnanza (a bean trad­ing game), and pigged out on gigan­tic ham­burg­ers and German pota­to sal­ad.

Been try­ing to fin­ish my projects and tie up loose ends.

Been try­ing to match sched­ules with peo­ple: next week­end is din­ner with Misun and Frédéric and their two boys (which we’ve been try­ing to coor­di­nate for more than a month now), the week­end after is ____’s vis­it, and the one after that is din­ner, movie, and Cranium with Dan and his fam­i­ly.

Been buy­ing light fix­tures and shelves and can­dles, indulging my obses­sion with frost­ed glass, and mak­ing minor house upgrades.

Been spend­ing more than I should.

Been in love with her more than I can help.

The week­ends are all I have left. After work­ing 8+ hours dur­ing the week, I don’t feel like doing any­thing but veg­ging out when I get home. So now it’s already Sunday — or Monday morn­ing, I should say — and I feel like I’ve accom­plished noth­ing so far. Not that it’s a bad thing, since I’ve been able to enjoy myself instead of feel­ing guilty that I’m not get­ting enough done. I tell myself that I’ll be pro­duc­tive when I wake up, but who knows.

Sometimes, long week­ends are for catch­ing up on doing noth­ing. And man, am I behind in that.