Skepticism vs. Luis The Wheelbarrow Poet
I think a healthy dose of skepticism is good for everyone. Being skeptical prevents us from blindly following an ideology without researching details for ourselves. Skepticism often helps protect us from deals that are too good to be true.
In Cuba, I used a healthy dose of skepticism to stay away from street scams. For example, one of the most common scams is the guy who walks up to you and tells you that he has a bunch of Cohibas (high end Cuban cigars) in his pocket for sale at a special price. Right. I’m sure they’re legit.
On the other hand, sometimes being skeptical gets in the way of creating great images. Case in point, I was walking through the streets of Trinidad Cuba one evening and noticed a gentleman sitting on a wooden wheelbarrow with sign that read Taxi. It was an obvious attempt at humor, but my first reaction was that this guy was trying to earn a buck from camera-toting tourists. So, I took a quick (blurry) grab shot, and kept on walking.
Before I got more than a few steps, the gentleman said, “Where are you from?” I thought to myself, “Oh great, here comes the sales pitch.” But, as I looked at him a bit closer, I could see he was genuinely interested. So, I told him I was from the USA.
He asked, “What state?”
“Washington,” I answered.
He then started telling me all kinds of facts about Washington. Details about the geography. Rivers. Proximity to Oregon and Canada. Information about Seattle, Tacoma, the state capital Olympia, the Puget Sound, the Pacific Ocean, conifer trees, giant forests, and lots more. I asked him if he’s been to Washington, and he said, “No, but I’ve written a poem about Washington.”
“Hold on,” he said. He held his index finger up in the air and began rifling through a box sitting on the cart with his other hand. He pulled out 20 notebooks filled with his hand-written prose. He leafed through multiple notebooks until he found his poem on Washington and the Northwest. Then, he proceeded to read me the poem in Spanish.
After he read me his poem, I asked if I could take a picture. He said, “Of course!” What a beautiful trade. He shared his art with me and I was able to use the opportunity to create a lasting memory with a fun picture.
My lesson in all this? Don’t let skepticism prevent you from participating in a beautiful moment. I’m happy I stayed to listen and engage with my new friend Luis, The Wheelbarrow Poet.
How to display and find over 30,000 images on the internet.
By Lloyd Smith
It all began in a Mexican Restaurant seven years ago…
In 2004, Missionary David Wagner from Builders International spoke at our church in Longview, WA (Columbia Heights Assembly of God). After the service, Pastor Kent asked my wife Helen and I to join them for lunch at a Mexican restaurant. We sat across the table from David who said that he had heard I was a photographer and he needed one for his upcoming Builders International Vision Casting trip to Venezuela.
I had never heard of Builders International or Vision Casting. He went on to explain their plan and I joined him for the first Vision Casting event in Venezuela in November of 2004. Since that chance meeting at the Mexican restaurant, I have been to 19 countries shooting photos for the Assemblies of God missions. That meeting one meeting changed the direction of my life and the focus of my photography forever. I had taught photography at the college level for 15 years, but this experience really expanded my experiences.
After photographing Builder International projects around the world for the past seven years (Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo, South Africa, Belize, Argentina, Poland, Philippines, Belgium, Mexico, Cambodia, Chile, Haiti, Honduras, Spain, Macedonia, Sri Lanka, China, Thailand, Venezuela and two Mexico cruises), I needed a platform to upload my photos to show the world. So I have placed over 30,000 photos from the trips in 92 albums on my Picasa web page. These include images from the building projects, volunteers, country scenes, and local people.
That Picasa album was getting so unwieldy and difficult to find photos that I have placed them on a BLOG Website – http://buildersinternational.info. The older albums begin at the bottom of the blog page in 2004 and end at the top in 2011. (Click older or newer posts to navigate the pages.) It is interesting to note that the years of 2004 and 2005 were photographed with film, and from 2006 on are photographed with Nikon digital cameras.
Click on the link (http://buildersinternational.info) to see all the 92 albums then scroll down and click older posts to move down the BLOG. My son, Keith Smith, helped me set up the BLOG so I could attach keywords. If you look to the right side of the page you will see the titles to all the albums and words that describe what is in the albums. Click on the word, i.e. Vision Casting, and it should bring up every album from any vision casting trip or Argentina to see all Argentina albums.
People look at my photos and ask how I can walk up to people on the street from around the world and take their photo. Some never see me…sometimes I think I might get beat up, but I generally get the shot. I shoot two Nikons, the D200 with a 12-24 mm lens and a D300 with the VR 18-200 mm lens. The reason I use the two-camera system is so I do not have to switch lenses in the rain or dust but so I can shoot quickly. I determined that if the world does not fit within my lens choices, I do not get the shot. I do sometimes use a micro lens for my close ups. I decided long ago that I cannot shot it all so I specialize in my 12-200mm area.
I do not own a copy of Photoshop. None of these have been Photoshopped as such. I shoot in the camera to make it work.
Spent the day yesterday in Seattle running a private workshop with an individual who wanted to capture the essence of a city. We photographed the places and things that define Seattle such as the waterfront, Pike Place Market, Space Needle, ferry boats, etc. Along the way, we came across all kinds of people and I decided to photograph a few. Here are a few pics from the day.
A few weeks ago we had our annual small town Gig Harbor Parade. What a great event. Everyone in town comes out to participate, help or just watch and it is like a giant family reunion. We all cheer for the kids, wave to our mayor, shake hands with the local politicians, and laugh at the antics.
From a photography standpoint, it is one of my favorite places to shoot because access is incredibly easy. In fact, mixing it up with the crowd is easy to do in a small parade like this since there aren’t any fence lines or security guards yelling at you to get back. If you see something you want to shoot, then you just step out and snap the pic.
The theme this year was “pirates” so lots of people were dressed up in their best pirate garb, including the animals!
Here are the photos.
This summer, my hometown of Gig Harbor commissioned some very talented street artists to create sidewalk chalk drawings along our main walkways. The art was all very well done and it was a colorful event. I had fun taking images of the art.
Today, I took a few of those images and worked on them in Nikon Capture NX 2 using the Nik Color Efex Pro 3.0 Plug In. I used the Film Effects plug in and chose the Agfa Optima 400 film type. I like the saturated and gritty look of the film and think that it improves the overall look of the images.