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long exposure lights streetview

The stars we are given. The constellations we make. That is to say, stars exist in the cosmos, but constellations are the imaginary lines we draw between them, the readings we give the sky, the stories we tell.

-Rebecca Solnit

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Clic-Clac photo marathon, 4th prize, old woman, strollerIn June, I was awarded the fourth prize for the Clic Clac Photo Marathon (see my post about it here). The prize was a week-long photography course at the Kunstschule in Offenburg, Germany. So all last week I got down and dirty with my DSLR.

The course was taught by art photographer Axel Bleyer. He walked us through all the manual settings of our cameras. We talked about the golden mean. We discussed ISO and aperture. And our project was to shoot images that included the color red. Seems pretty easy, right? Well sort of, the class was 100% in German and, sadly, my German skills are pretty mediocre (Hallo. Ich bin Melissa). Luckily my classmates and Axel were keen on helping me understand. Good people. It was a cultural, linguistic and artistic experience that really stretched me. By Friday evening, at the open house, I felt just like a kid on the last day of summer camp – exchanging numbers, hugging, making plans. It was great. Below are some of the images I made during the week.

spring, shadow

ladders, construction site

sewer, drain, dead leaves, garbage

bench, shadow, dead leaves

Mehr Liebe - Graffiti

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This is what friends do on a Sunday afternoon…

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Saturday, I participated in a photo marathon called Clic-Clac that took place in Offenburg, Germany and Strasbourg, France.

Rain. It wasn’t a promising way to start out a day meant for wandering the two cities and taking photos…Around the time we began our first photography challenge, little by little the sky lightened up and by the time lunch was served (at the Kunstschule in Offenburg) the sky was gorgeous and the sun was shining.

The premise of the photo marathon was that we were given 2 themes/challenges to illustrate with one photograph per theme with approximately 2 and a half hours to find a subject and photograph it. The first theme was given in the morning in Offenburg and the second in Strasbourg. The two themes were:

1: double je – in English it is understood as ‘double I’, but it’s a word play. ‘je’ means ‘I’ but sounds the same as the word for game (jeu) in French.

2: je t’ai vu – translated means ‘I saw you’.

The possibilities were endless. Nonetheless, avoiding clichés was not easy.

My submissions:

I happened on my photo by pure chance. I didn’t know how to go about illustrating this playful theme. Walking towards downtown Offenburg, I was mostly watching people. I was keen on capturing individual people on my virtual film. By chance, I saw an elderly woman with perfect posture pushing an old empty stroller with her shopping hanging from the handles just across the street from where I was. It caused my mind to start thinking about youth and age and the return to innocence and dependence. She was the perfect incarnation of this theme so I took her photo.

Theme 1:

LP and I thought maybe we could get a shot or two on the water. We are lucky enough to have friends with an amazing apartment on the canal in Petite France with a kayak. We took it out for about a half hour. It was just what I needed for a gorgeous shot of a couple – a woman embracing a man and the man not reciprocating. The lines. The colors. The knowing look she was casting over his shoulder.

Theme 2:

Jim’s submissions:

LP (Jim/life partner) and I set off with no ideas and sleep in our eyes. double je I kept thinking…The Kunstschule (or art school in English), where our instructions were delivered, was right next to the city library. LP was keen on seeing what the library had inside and perhaps find some inspiration. He did. It involved the front page of Die Zeit newspaper featuring a monkey and me.

Theme 1:

It was already late by the time we had docked the boat. Jim was worried about not finding a subject. Cycling along the quai back to the library we happened on a neighborhood block party at Place Saint Louis. Just on the corner was a guy who had set up a photo booth and was taking photos of people with a four-shot Polaroid camera. That was it for LP! He had his shot and we had 1 hour to submit our photos back at the library.Theme 2:

After all the photos were submitted, the whole group headed over to place d’Austerlitz for an apéro-mix at La Chambre. We were able to exchange contact information with our new friends and finally….and most importantly…see all the photos that had been submitted by all the participants.

We also got to see a news report that France 3 did on the event. Our gorgeous faces were featured more than once during the 3 minute report. You can see it here.

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I run. It started innocently enough this summer with the goal of getting fit for another go at the GR 10 in the Pyrenees. Sadly, a bad case of shingles and a few other setbacks forced me to set that plan aside for another time. But the running continued. It felt good. It feels good. As a flatlander, I’d never really thought much about the purpose of a hill. Here in the city there may not be a single hill more than 10m high. Before my introduction to the world of trail running this would never have posed a problem…now it does. I want to fight gravity to get to higher ground with my heart pounding and gallons of sweat pouring down my back. With each breath I want to smell the seasons changing instead of car exhaust. I want the ground below me to change with each step.

A wise person once said, “Hills are made for running up.” And that same wise person then made me watch this video.

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fall, autumn, colors, leaves

I’m glad to be back home after an unexpectedly long sojourn in Berlin.
It was there where I saw autumn bloom, with its long shadows and misty mornings. I witnessed the death of summer and the birth of autumn.

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Schillingstraße, Berlin

Schillingstraße, Mitte, Berlin

Volkspark Humboldthain

Volkspark Humboldthain, Berlin

Görlitzer Bahnhof

Görlitzer Bahnhof U-Bahn, Berlin

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