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Monday, November 28, 2011

Choctaw's 7th Annual Powwow

On Saturday Stephen and I attended and photographed Choctaw's 7th annual Powwow.  First let me say that in my rush to find any clothing that would fit over my turkey bloated belly I grabbed one of Stephen's t-shirts and headed off to do some photography. Once we arrived and found our selves a place to dump our bags and jackets I suddenly found myself feeling extremely self conscious. What a complete moron I was to have grabbed one of Stephen's t-shirts with a huge British flag across the chest. I mean really who goes to an Indian event and advertises that the British are here!!!! I quickly grabbed $20 bucks from the ATM and purchased a really cute brown and pink Powwow t-shirt. Not that I am ashamed to have married a Brit. I for one love the fact that Stephen is British and most days I cope with his British ways fairly well (lol)  but I am not completely blind to the fact that the Indians lost a lot due to the British.  I did feel that flaunting a British flag at an Indian Powwow was a bit disrespectful and not at all my intention. Once I had corrected my error I found myself in complete awe of the events taking place around me. 

Partly I was feeling guilty about the fact that our children where missing out on such an amazing event, partly I was thinking that there was no way Ayden would stay in a stroller for 15 hours with this much excitement all around him and partly I was excited about the potential photographs.    I found myself, several times, staring in awe of the dances taking place before me, so captivated that I had to remind myself to take the photos. 

I am embarrassed to admit that I graduated high school with a class that was at least half Indians, I have family that are Indian, but I have little understanding of the traditional Powwow and what a lot of the stuff means. For instance each person had various stripes and designs painted on their faces and I have no idea what those symbols represent. As well each group of competitors had different wardrobes to wear and I don't know what each of them represent. As well there was an instance when one Indian's bustle (I only know it is a bustle because the MC said so) came unattached from his clothing and fell to the floor. I had no idea that there was a specific way that the bustle must be retrieved. In another instance a section of feathers fell onto the floor and another, but different, ritual was done to retrieve the feathers. I had no idea and found the entire thing fascinating.   
I noticed that through out the dances, quite often the dancers would have their heads down, almost as if in prayer. It had the feel of a religious reverence and in many ways could be very humbling.  

This is my favorite image of the head lowering portion of the dances. This particular man seemed to be so completely consumed by his dance and the meaning of it that he never even recognized my lens pointing at him.  I love those shots where the subject is so focused and so unconscious of the world around them.  

It was a long day but I honestly loved it, I could do this type of photography every day!

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Interesting change in Falconry Photographs

Over the last couple years while Stephen was dragging me kicking and screaming into supporting him in his falconry adventures I have obsessively photographed his Redtails every time I get a chance. Last weekend We drove to Bartlesville, OK to take some senior portraits of the son of a friend. At the end of the day I got my first glimpse of a Falcon training. It all happened so quickly that I didn't think much about the situation or the bird really.  Today however we went to Ft. Worth so that Stephen could go hunting with a friend of his (Mario Nickerson) Now once again I am not a Falconer and only have a very dubious  connection to Falconry because Stephen is a Falconer, so mind you I may have terms incorrect.  I do believe that the above bird is a Harris Hawk???  anyway I found photographing him amazing and a bit different than my past experiences. First of all the above hawk (Jimmy) does not wear bells, in the last couple of years I have became accustom to following Stephen's hawks with my camera, partly relying on the bells to help me keep up with them. Because Jimmy has no bells I struggle to figure out where he was, where he was going or when he was moving. At the end of the day I was thinking "omg I now have to dig deeper into falconry to understand Harris Hawks if I want to anticipate possible moves and maybe get any shots!" How the heck it is that my complete delusions of   not supporting Stephen's ventures into the world of Falconry have evolved into me needing to know more I simply can't even begin to think about.  ( read my older blogs to understand my reasoning for outright hatred for Stephen's desire to become a Falconer and you will see I never had a chance here) It never fails Stephen gets a hobby and I get sucked in, that is just how it works.I need to find a really feminine hobby if I ever want to repay him for sucking me in all the time!

Any way, Mario's hawk was pretty quick and extremely quiet! I have to say I was super impressed at the end of Jimmy's hunt when we headed back to the car.  First of all this was our first face to face with Mario, and we all hopped into my car to head to the hunting area. So imagine my surprise when Mario said "30 second warning in a minute Jimmy will fly ahead of us and  back to the car" That comment wasn't the surprise, the surprise came when Jimmy flew back to our car! If we had of been in Mario's car then ok but this was  as strange car that Jimmy knew he came there in!  Even better was when Mario made Jimmy work for his treats and started throwing the bits in the air for Jimmy to go after. That few moments of tricks and bits gave me a chance to anticipate the hawk a bit better and resulted in the few good shots that I got for the day.  I have to say it was impressive and a huge Thanks to Mario!!

Now along the way I grabbed a couple shots of the scenery and a couple abstract shots where I purposely slowed the camera down to beyond slow and captured some weeds blowing in the wind. Not that you can tell what the subject is, but a slow shutter speed, bright yellow weeds and a hard wind makes an interesting abstract shot!!