To my right, a glass of the Italian staple, limonata.
I gaze out the window, at the rain, pondering the words to follow on this monumental of days.
On this occasion, I decided it was time for a change. Nothing crazy. No gender reassignment or anything drastic. Just a change in my environment, my surroundings, my vibe. Sometimes, and I'm sure it's has been reflected in some writings, staring at the office wall can cause me to be a bit arid. I emphasize sometimes since, on most other days, the words pour out of me like a chick vomiting after too many red headed sluts.
More than just a change in the surroundings, I think I just subconsciously wanted to explore, as I do with my camera, to see what can further inspire my writing. . .
Today, I'm writing to you, this 200th, from one of my new spots to chill and contemplate life, business and the world around me: STEAP and GRIND, a super chill coffee/ tea house situated smack in the middle of The Frankford Avenue Arts section of Fishtown, Philadelphia.
Why STEAP and GRIND? Without boring you too much with why and how I choose my dens of caffeine, well, just try not to get too bored. These are all atomic bombs of knowledge people! Gems. Stay with me.
Why here? I've been in the awesomely exploding Fishtown hood for just over a year now. In this time I've explored more than a few cafes. It's my thing. People dig bars. Others dig nightclubs. Some rock out at bowling alleys. Hey, to each their own journey. Me? I dig coffee shops.
Instinctually, when I first moved in, I was drawn to The Rocket Cat Cafe. Super close. Full of artists and hipsters. Coffee? Deelish. Food? Yummers. BUT. getting a seat isn't always easy. The couch is always available but on more than one occasion, with laptop on my lap, I've spilled everything from coffee, chai and even a big portion of a BLT, across the face of the MacBook Pro. I prefer tables to work.
On the other end of the spectrum, there's the La Colombe headquarters. Gorgeous. Fantastic. If you want to be seen, this is where the cool people dilute their hangovers. It's a bit far. I totally dig the vibe but a bit too intense for getting work done. With Stefanie, friends and clients? Perfection. To get work done? Eh. Not so much. I need small, quiet and quaint.
Splitting the distance between The Rocket Cat and La Colombe brings STEAP and GRIND. Yup this works.
The Big 200!
Recently, I've been practicing transcendental meditation or TM. Before I go any further, let me say I'm Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Far from it. TM has been a recent addition to my daily life. Twice a day, 20 minutes each session. I can say that although I'm no expert, it is beginning to take effect. I'm more easily able to be In The Now. I haven't transcended my body or mind, yet, but I can see the awesomeness of being more in the now. Stressing over what lies ahead or regretting what has already occurred can be counterproductive to creativity and success. I'm not here today to preach my new practices but to help explain the words to follow. Or maybe I just wanted to share that bit of knowledge without having any actual motives for connecting it to today's biggie. Ha. You never know how my crazy brain may be functioning at any given moment. Exactly why TM is super good for me. Need to slow shit down upstairs, between the ears.
It's been a long road to 200. It was July 15, 2008 when I wrote my first post. Not much direction at that time. I was just a photographer who needed to share some art and knowledge with the world. Since then there have been some awesome works; both visual and literary. On the flip side of that coin, there have been some epic fails; photographically and bloggerly (yes, made it up). I hate to use the term epic as I totally think it has been played out faster than any other word in history but it suits the sentence.
Ah, a TM connection. Got it. . .
I've written 200 posts. Many of them long. Some with photos that I cannot figure out what the fuck I was thinking when I posted. Regret? NO FUCKING WAY!
Look, easily I could go back and erase the garbage, pretend I'm a magical sorcerer who dances around the planet, camera in one hand, staff in the other, gloriously creating works of art whilst galloping across the peaks of the Himalayas.
People have awesome bullshit radars people! Since day one with you, I've been as transparent as a . . . shit, can't think of any witty analogies. I'll come back to that one.
Failing has become a best buddy of mine. That pal-o-mine has taught me, first hand, how to become successful at my art. Further, sharing those big failures, and successes (can't forget those), helps to achieve a couple things ::
First, it creates benchmarks of sorts. Sure, there are a billion RAW files on my Lacie and WD drives but you know as well as I do, once some of those things hit the archives, going back to them doesn't happen all too often. Sure, once in a while I go back and even find some lost gems but those black boxes can serve as black holes as well. The blog is more readily available not only as an awesome resource for you but for myself as well. Much easier to see a post that's trending, pow, right in my face, readers diggin' and I ask myself "what the fuck was I thinking?!" Let's call it my own personal blogometer. Blogometer? Really? That sucked. Throw tomatoes at any time.
Next, the failures and transparency thereof is my way of serving you. Motivation. Inspiration. I'm not patting myself on the back but I've been known to bang out a pretty rad photo from time to time. Ok, yes I was but I don't hide the real Michael Anthony Murphy. Hey, I don't always think the photo or related post are failures at the time they are published. It's only in retrospect when I realize how awful it may have been. BUT THAT'S OK. The publish button is Pandora's Box. There's no undo. Not for me anyway.
However, we are not here today to talk about my highs and lows. It's about 200! Shit. Think about it. That's a decent sized book when you add it all up. Again, these posts aren't short by any means. I do keep around the 7 minute read time, which in the blogosphere, is ideal. To me and a few of my knucklehead friends, they may seem a bit long but research agrees they are on point. Where was I? Oh. Damn. Put all 200 in paperback and you'd be busy reading for a loonnngg time.
You may be asking yourself what's next for MICHAEL ANTHONY MURPHY :: BLOG. To tell you the truth, I have no idea!
[Here comes another plug for TM.]
That's the beauty of being, living, In The Now.
Maybe I'll be doing more video. Maybe shorter posts (not likely). Longer? A redesign?
I DON'T KNOW. And not knowing is the most refreshing feeling.
Look, today, I wasn't even supposed to be writing this post. In fact, I was supposed to be in Hackensack or some other far off town in New Jersey, with my lawyer. It was rescheduled. No worries. So I ended up here, at STEAP and GRIND, writing the post that I had no intentions of doing, until Sunday at least.
Feels pretty good.
In the now.
Am I going to sign off with some teary eyed, oh thank you, thank you, I couldn't have done this without you? No. Although I do and I could't.
Who knows. I didn't even proof read this post. At the time of this writing, I didn't even shoot the photo yet. In all honesty, this may be the best post ever or something better laid at the bottom of the sea.
It's all good. We go with the flow. It's all a learning process.
You gotta think I smoked some OG Kush this morning. NO! I don't smoke weed. I'm a huge advocate of its legalization but it's not for me. I get too paranoid. I stick to my craft beers.
I promised the transparent analogy. Damn. writer's block. Hmmmm.
Ok. Here we go.
I'm as transparent as Germanium Dioxide (GeO₂). Don't know? That's what Google is for. Jeez. Come one people! Do I have to teach everything?!
Oooh. Speaking of teaching. Almost forgot . . .
NERD FILE ::
The photograph. The details. Of course. That is the premise of this blog now isn't it?
It's a corn muffin. There's a birthday candle. Not the most earth shattering of photographs. No. But it serves it's purpose and does so with style.
Why the corn muffin?
I tried to use an iconic Philly dessert, the chocolate frosted Entenmann's donut. Fail. It just didn't read well as a celebratory food. Plus, I didn't know where the candle would look acceptable.
Luckily, there was a few corn muffins in the pantry.
In ambient light the corn muffin just didn't make me feel like a Mento in a glass of Coke. It needed some lovin'.
Step One ::
Get some buttery bokeh. I did this with the Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED . . . wide open. Sure, there is and I have much faster glass but for food, I love the minimal focus distance I get with the 24-70.
Silky smooth but the scene was still a bit flat. Needed some Strobist action.
Just out of frame, camera right was a creatively modified (gimme a sec) 430 EX ii, communicating with Betsy (Nikon D4) via the awesomely awesome Pocketwizard Plus ii transceivers.
The ambient did the heavy lifting as the key light here. In the living room with sunlight coming in through the window from behind.
The strobe? Simply to add the pop of rad. Working double duty as nice rim accent and a separation light, it's a amazing what you can do with such little gear.
Here's what the exposure looked like ::
Shutter :: 1/160
ISO :: 500
The ISO/Shutter combo allows for enough ambient to let that flame burn onto the sensor sufficiently.
Aperture :: f/2.8
Strobe :: 1/64 (even though this rim was properly exposed, it was too hard in my opinion so I grabbed the white undershirt from my back and threw in front of the strobe to soften it up a bit. IMPROVISATION!
White Balance? I shoot RAW homeys! Almost doesn't count except in Horseshoes and RAW files.
And so the journey continues.
Until next time . . .