This started as a not very remarkable photo of the mist in the hills, and even after I had done all the standard editing, it didn’t have enough of the definition or contrast between the layers of trees that I wanted, so I decided to experiment. (I’m always afraid to experiment on a photo I already like.) So……….. I experimented waaaaayy past the point I’m normally comfortable. Having already done the standard stuff, I started trying to manipulate all the color curves at once on a composite graph, which didn’t work at all. Then I started manipulating just the greens, but that just looked eerie, and reminded me of the gases used in WW I, so I stopped manipulating pure greens in about 5 seconds. Red turned to an icky pink by itself, so that was no good. I finally manipulated the reds, greens and blues one by one, and then went back and tinkered some more with the color graphs and then the illumination graph. The result below is the one I was finally happy with. You can see the reddish hill, signal towers, and some houses on the bottom, then the dark first line of trees, fading to a bluish purple, and then more of a pure purple in the second tree line. Then in the mid right, you can see the faint purple shadows of the trees in the third line – the ones most buried in the mist on the farthest level back. Revealing those took some doing, I can tell you!
Here in the San Francisco Bay Area we are at sea level, so we don’t get snow. But fall can sometimes be short lived and move directly into fallen leaves, fallen temperatures and lots of rain. And fog, of course, but then we can have fog in almost any season. I put this photo through a filter to emphasize how cold (for us) the weather was last week – uncharacteristically dipping into the high 30s F at night. I know, I know – that’s positively balmy for those of you in Canada or in the midwest or northeast states. But here, that requires us to pull out our down jackets when we are out.
I often cry these days. Not just because my husband died a year ago, although that’s the occasion for tears on some days. But I more often cry out of despair and fear, and a feeling that my life’s work has been in vain. I spent my career as a teacher of 4th and 5th graders. Two thirds of my teaching years were in underserved neighborhoods where I tried with everything I had to give the necessary skills to my students so that they would be able to break out of a cycle of poverty. And for all my students over the years, whether middle class or below the poverty line, I tried to instill in them a love of learning, and a curiosity about the world. Each year I worked to create a cooperative classroom where students could learn from their mistakes, take risks, and help each other succeed.
These days I sometimes wonder if my 20+ years of teaching made any difference at all. I do know that I made a difference in my individual student’s lives, but I find myself wondering if that made any difference in the wider world. Across the globe I’m seeing genocide, bigotry, hate infused rhetoric, riots and protests caused by the desperation of ordinary people who can’t make ends meet. I see the very rich becoming the super wealthy while ordinary people can end up on the streets because of one medical bill too many, or an expensive car repair that is necessary in order to get them to their underpaid job. I see the 1% of the world’s wealthiest people buy influence and power that subverts democracies. I see desperate immigrants arrive on the shores of more stable countries because of climate change and violence in their land of birth. And I see the more stable countries genuinely unable to take in an infinite number of refugees. I also see some leaders, especially in my home country, the United States, flat out deny science and refuse to work toward limiting the carnage that will be unleashed by a warming planet if we do nothing.
I am the first to admit that I am more fortunate than most. My husband and I had access to good educations, and although we each had times of unemployment while rearing our children, we were never both without a job at the same time. We had access to good and affordable medical care when our younger child faced a host of serious medical problems shortly after birth. And for most of our working years we each worked in jobs that had a decent salary and excellent benefits. Money was often tight. Sometimes very tight, and we did without a lot of things. But we knew that we could keep a roof over our head, put food on the table, and send our children to school. That counts as well off in most of the world.
I took that knowledge, that we were privileged compared to most of the world, and dedicated my life to working for justice, trying to level the playing field through education, and believing that while no system of government is perfect, democratic and parliamentary systems of governments are the best options we’ve got. And I now see them crumbling into authoritarian and autocratic systems that seem to disproportionally benefit the most well off of citizens. It’s not much of a surprise, then, that societies world wide are devolving into a us vs them mentality with each side of the spectrum not trusting the other.
I have some theories as to how this has come about, but unfortunately I don’t have any nuts and bolts ideas as to how to fix it. Because it’s not just the United States, or France, or Venezuela, or Hong Kong that’s falling apart because of inequitable resources and whole segments of the population that have been left out of the power loop. It seems to be global. I keep trying to work on equity, kindness, seeing each person for who they are and trying to have honest conversations about where we disagree. I work every day at showing each person that no matter where they are on the income scale, or what the color of their skin is, or whether they have made serious mistakes in their lives, or whether they are immigrants or native born, they matter. I can do this on an individual basis, person by person. But I feel overwhelmed. And I feel like it’s not enough.
A flower cries, the stones cry out, and I weep. Who will remember the forgotten of the world?
This is the fifth day I’m taking up Patti’s pilotfish challenge: Lens-Artist Photo Challenge: #66: Filling the Frame. I took this shot with my (new!) mirrorless Olympus OM-D E-M5 with a Zuiko 75-300mm lens. I was, as usual, walking the dogs and noticed that some of the brown leaves on a tree were were still partially orange. They were also perfectly back lit by the sun. The photo practically took itself.