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Originals

This morning I woke early. Everything was peaceful and quiet and ever so slightly tinged with pink as the sun began to break free from the horizon.

Coffee is a requirement today. As I sleepily start the kettle and put the grounds into the press, I listen to birds singing joyously at the morning. Stepping outside, sweater wrapped, reveals a world glistening with dew drops, sparkling in the  now-golden sunlight. The shining blanket, almost as thick as frost, is belied by the warmth that, even in the early morning, is already making my cotton sweater unbearable. Delicately tiny mushrooms have emerged in the night, dotting the green grass with their little white parasols.

Morning Dew -- D.Hitchcock 2013

Mushroom -- D.Hitchcock 2013Dewdrop -- D.Hitchcock 2013 Mushroom 2 -- D.Hitchcock 2013Everything is still as I take in this fleeting beauty. Once the sun is higher, it will take only moments for these watery jewels to evaporate and the sweet mushroom bonnets to shrivel in the heat. A moment so easy to miss. So simple, and yet impossible to recreate. It may be just like this tomorrow, or it may never be again.

Mushroom Dew -- D.Hitchcock 2013

And that is truly beautiful.

DH

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Model: John BurkePhoto taken during shoot for his latest album, Reverie.

Model: John Burke
Photo taken during shoot for his latest album, Reverie.

I used to hate taking pictures of people. I realize now that it was because I didn’t know how. I’ve never liked posed photography, so I always tried for candid shots, which would work sometimes, but the likelihood of getting good shots reliably were pretty slim. I was always so displeased with the results that I avoided photographing people all together. It wasn’t until I discovered Jane Bown that I realized that people weren’t the problem; it was me and the terrifying piece of equipment that hung from my neck.

Cameras are everywhere. People have developed a sort of sixth sense where cameras are concerned and typically have one of two reactions: They hide or they pose. It happens every time someone pulls out a device because we are trained to expect it. (I’ve always been a hider, ironically enough) What’s a girl to do? I want those in the moment, genuine reactions, but the camera senses won’t let me have them! I want to capture those priceless moments when all that hidden personality dances across a person’s face while he tells you a story, or is lost in a quiet thought, but if my subject is hidden, either from the camera or behind his “camera smile”, all of that life is lost to me and my lens.

That’s when I realized that I had answered my own question. Those moments that I want to capture only happen when someone is comfortable and willing to share. Candid isn’t about the subject not seeing the camera, it’s about them not minding the camera. I just had to make people forget that the camera exists. The results were exactly what I had wanted my photography to be.

Portraiture is still a work in progress for me, as are all things, but it has become one of my favorite things to do. These are some of my favorite images — I was lucky enough to really capture my subjects’ personalities in these. Hope you enjoy.

Model: Caroline T.From my Interview Series

Model: Caroline T.
“Interview”

Model: John Burke

Model: John Burke

Model: Ryan B.From "Interview"

Model: Ryan B.
“Interview”

Model: Krystal K.

Model: Krystal K.
“Interview”

Model: Victoria P."Interview"

Model: Victoria P.
“Interview”

Can't resist capturing all that silliness!

You just can’t pose this!

A huge thank you to the models from the “Interview” series and John Burke for allowing me to show off your beautiful faces!

Thanks for reading! As always, critiques are an artist’s best friend.

DH

P.S. If you are in the Atlanta area and would like to work with me, feel free to drop me a line :)

Hello from Pittsburgh! The Boy and I left Atlanta yesterday to come visit his family. I am writing from the sofa of his childhood home with him on one side of me, his childhood best friend on the other, three beagles flopped in the floor, and a comic book video game on the television.

It’s been a lovely visit — lots of time with his parents (who are delightful), meeting his sister (who is expecting her first baby!), her husband, and the grandparents — and we still have two and half days left! Today I was given a tour of Pittsburgh via car, the incline, and my feet. I took the opportunity to make some photographs, partly to document the trip and also because Pittsburgh’s architecture is fantastic.

So, today’s FPF is one of my photos! I found it while walking around so I stored it in my camera just for you guys :)

They don’t call it the City of Bridges for nothing

Exploring a new place with good company on a beautiful day is my kind of Friday.

How was your Friday? Have any exciting plans for the weekend? Tell us about it!

Wishing you a happy weekend,

DH

I was not feeling well yesterday.

There was a lot of laying about, Being Human on Netflix, and cuddles with The Cat and The Boy. The Boy was kind enough to take care of me — making tea and fetching crackers and things — and by the evening I was starting to feel better, but I was starving. I wanted real food. Comforting, home cooked, wholesome, healthy, delicious food.

I took stock of the ingredients available and my raging tastebuds and decided that since I had been sickly all day that I needed soup.

So I made soup. In the middle of summer. In ninety degree weather. Because I’m ridiculous.

Despite some conflicting feelings, I have decided to share the recipe with you today. The conflict arises from the fact that this is an art blog with a focus in photography. What business do I have posting recipes regardless of how delicious the dish turned out to be?

I’ve been justifying posting recipes because part of the purpose of this blog (see header) is exploring reality. I also tell myself it is okay because I photograph the recipes that I post. Also because it is something I care about.

But then I realized that I was being silly. Yes, those reasons are fine justification for including posts about cooking, but honestly, if I want to write a well rounded arts blog, what business do I have excluding recipes? Cooking is an art, without doubt. It is one of my favorite arts to practice. And when I cook I use the same level of creativity that I do with any other project I work on. I rarely use recipes, except as inspiration or for help with ratios, and so all of my cooking is as original as my images, my characters, or my prose. Since moving into my new home, I have been reunited with food and it feels just as wonderful as picking up a camera again after a long break.

That said, I have no intention of turning The First 10,000 into a food blog. I will probably post original recipes from time to time, but I will strive to keep the blog well rounded and informative about lots of art.

What are your opinions of cooking as art? I’d love your input. Comment below!

Now for the soup:

Spicy Feel Better Soup

I have decided to call this a chowder. It is not a cream based soup, but it is thickened with potatoes and has onions and corn. Also, the definitions of chowder I can find are vague enough that this soup fits just about perfectly!

I made up this recipe as I went along, so taste as you cook to tailor the balance of flavor to what you like. As it is, it made enough soup for two good sized meals for The Boy and me. I should probably mention, however, that The Boy ate three bowls of it in one sitting, so it probably makes more like six servings, depending on the size of your bowls and your appetite. It is also fairly spicy. It won’t burn your mouth off, but you can definitely feel the heat. A spoonful of sour cream on top would be lovely and balance some of the heat, if you’re concerned.

For vegetarian readers, this soup is vegan if you get rid of the chicken! Feel free to replace the chicken with tofu. Just saute small slices or chunks of extra firm tofu, well seasoned with salt and pepper, until very crispy and add the tofu to your bowl! Don’t put it in the soup pot or it wil get soggy. Unless you like that. Beans would also be a delicious protein replacement. Black beans would be good, but maybe consider a milder bean, like a garbanzo or great northern, to avoid overpowering the corn as it is already competing with a lot of spice. If you use beans, add one can, well rinsed and drained, or an equivalent amount of cooked dry beans at the point in the recipe where you would add the chicken.

Spicy Corn Chowder (original recipe)

Olive oil for sauteeing
1.5 c corn kernels
½ large onion, chopped
1/4 tsp Cayenne pepper
1 tbsp Oregano
2 tsp cumin
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Chicken breasts, Bite sized pieces
2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup water
3 medium potatoes, cubed
Salt
Pepper

— Heat 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil in your soup pot. Add onion and corn and sauté until onion is soft and corn is beginning to brown. Don’t undercook at this step! The char on the corn makes a huge difference in the flavor. Add cayenne pepper, oregano, and cumin.

— Season chicken well with salt and pepper after cutting. Add chicken (or beans) and garlic to the pot. Cook until garlic begins to soften and chicken is at least seared on the outside. If using beans, feel free to allow them to brown a bit before moving to the next step.

— Add vegetable broth and water. I used part water because the broth was a very dark color and I didn’t want the soup to be that dark. Feel free to just use broth though.

— Add potatoes. Cover and allow to come to a slow boil. Cook until potatoes are fork tender.

— Uncover, reduce heat to a simmer, and with your wooden spoon break up some of the potato chunks so that the potato helps thicken the broth. Taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper if needed. You should expect to need to salt the soup to season the potatoes. Add more of the other spices if desired. At this point, if you want the soup to be creamy, stir in some cream or milk. About half a cup should do, and than let it simmer a few minutes more for the flavors to meld.

Serve as is, or with a spoonful of sour cream, a sprinkling of grated jack cheese, or a slice of crusty bread. Enjoy!

Let me know how you like the soup and if you decide to make any creative changes!

Have a happy Wednesday!

-DH

This post is so late. I’m sorry. There’s really no excuse, but my excuse is that I had a performance last night and I was panicking all weekend. Remember the aria I mentioned in this post? Yeah. That’s what I had to sing in front of people. It all ended up going really well in spite of (or maybe because of?) my panic and now I am back to the land of the living.

And speaking of living, can we talk about spring? It seems like winter just didn’t bother to show up this year, but spring is definitely picking up the slack! Everything is so green and beautiful… and here I go showing the world that I’m a card-carrying tree-hugger.

But really, watching spring happen is so exciting. It’s like the nature decides to celebrate the sun moving closer to the planet and decorates, letting new life and new growth explode all over like confetti. I couldn’t resist capturing this beautiful transition, so today I have a tiny photo documentary for you. Most of these images are close ups of small things, so I primarily used the macro setting on my camera. I found some fascinating things – that leaves are fuzzy when they first grow on the branches, that oak trees hatch out of acorns like baby birds from eggs, that the already unfathomably beautiful spring colors become like living oil paintings when touched by morning sun – and I felt I could be perfectly happy if I never went inside again. These images are some of my favorites of the ones that I shot. I hope you enjoy!

This was such a cool find. This little oak tree was literally hatching out of its acorn shell when I found it. It has since escaped, but I had never seen anything quite like this before.

I hope you enjoy seeing these as much as I enjoyed making them. As always, comments and critiques are appreciated!

Happy hump day everyone!

-DH

Happy Friday, everyone!

Today I want to chat about an interesting conversation I had last week about photo composition. A classmate asked me about composition saying that she understood why it was important and the rule of thirds and the theory of it, but not how to do it. She wanted more than just the broad strokes that we have all heard before. She wanted to know details on how to make good composition happen.

I looked at her with what I know must have been a completely blank stare as I realized that I didn’t know how to answer that question. There were a few other people in the room, pretty talented photographers themselves, and we all gave variations on the same answer:

You know it when you see it.

This is a photo I took several years ago when I was just starting this whole camera business. I still use it in my photography portfolio because I was happy with how it came out, primarily because of the composition.

I wished that I could give her a better answer, but it’s true. There are lots of rules for making good composition, but with any kind of art, rules are made to be broken. There wouldn’t be anything new and interesting, otherwise. We would just have a lot of images that look the same. You can learn what makes good composition, but it takes practice. Some people are lucky and have a good eye for composition and light right off the bat, but even those lucky artists must practice to be able to have consistently successful work. That’s why Henri Cartier-Bresson said, “Your first ten thousand photographs are your worst”. Every artist, no matter the innate talent, no matter the medium, needs and will benefit from constant practice. Someone can teach you the “rules”, but no one can teach you how to see. You’ll know it when you see it, though a seemingly unsatisfactory answer, might have been the best advice we could give.

I’ve included these images from my own portfolio to illustrate a little of what I mean. The photo above has a fairly standard composition while not being a dull, stamen shot (not that I’m against stamen shots, they can just be a bit generic). This one, however, has a slightly more unexpected structure, but it still works. The unexpected can add interest even though it doesn’t adhere to a rule.

From a shoot by the Chatahoochee River.

What do you guys think makes a good composition? Do you know of a good way to explain composition? I’d love to hear your thoughts and see some examples in the comments below!

As always, thanks for reading. Check in at the beginning of the week for some new originals!

Have a wonderful weekend!

-DH