Global Giving

Artists Bill of Rights

The Thanksgiving Reader

Hi Folks:

This Thursday is Thanksgiving Day for our neighbours to the south, but every day is a good day to live with gratitude. Since Thanksgiving is about more than eating turkey (or tofurky for those vegetarian types) Seth Godin has made the following Thanksgiving Reader available to everyone. For free. Click on the image below to go to his Thanksgiving Reader page, and you can download the .pdf from there (but be sure to read the entire page 😉 ).

And to Seth, thanks for providing this for all of us!


The Thanksgiving Reader

It's Our Birthday!!

Hi Folks: Well, it’s been six years since our son Nick first helped us get M&M’s Musings onto the world stage… something for which we are (almost always) grateful! In these past 6 years we’ve posted 469 blog posts and 138 pages (mostly our short stories) on a variety of topics. According to Google Analytics we’ve had 122,253 views over 87,358 sessions, with people from 180 countries coming to visit our little corner of the ‘net. To us that’s simply amazing. But enough about us!

In those six years we’ve traveled some, grown lots and changed quite a bit, and so has our blog. We’ll continue to share with you thoughts and ideas that are important to us, and trust that you continue to find some interest here too. The real reason for this post is for us to say thanks to you, our readers. Thanks for showing up, thanks for reading our (often very long) posts, and thanks for sharing your thoughts and comments with us!! Here’s to our continuing journey!!

As Marcia says, Love and Laughter!! Party on!!


Canada Day Fireworks

Shooting Fall Colours... sort of

Hi Folks:

If you live in the northern hemisphere then autumn is upon you, and if you’re fortunate enough to be in an area that has deciduous trees, then they’re likely in the process of turning the glorious colours of fall – reds, yellows, oranges, browns… (NB: if you want to know why the leaves change colour in the fall, click here). This is a great time of year to be a landscape photographer, and it’s easy to become seduced by all of those colours. However, it’s also a good time to look at the underlying skeleton of your photographs, and one way to do that is to remove the colour and move to a monochrome palette. (Yes, this is an attempt to put off the ‘learning to see in black and white’ post I keep thinking I should write, but for now this will serve well as placeholder. :-) ) By shifting away from the colours of the leaves we can look at shapes, at form, at movement, at textures, at light and shadow… All of these essential components exist in colour images as well, but they can get moved to the background of your compositions if you’re not careful.

The images below were all shot in nearby Beacon Hill Park on the same day. All were shot with my cell phone as I was walking through the park, and they all share similar processing in Lightroom. They all reveal what lies behind the colours that are so wondrously revealing themselves right now.

Okay, that’s it. Now go out and make some photographs!


P.S. It’s important to remember that unless you have a camera with an achromatic sensor (since there are only a few companies in the world that make them, if you had one, you’d know) with digital you’re always capturing colour information even when you’re shooting in B&W. As such you can adjust the luminance values of the various colours (shown as grayscale) to change the contrast and overall look of a B&W image either in camera (when shooting jpg, by choosing a different recipe) or in your raw file conversion software.

Lest We Forget

Hi Folks:

Today we offer Love to all of those who went away and didn’t return, and to all of those who mourn them.

War Memorial - Victoria

“Suppose they gave a war and no one came?” ~ Leslie Parrish


P.S. In our opinion, this is one of the most poignant songs to come out of the 60s. Click on the image to see the video.

One Tin Soldier

The Role of Libraries in the 21st Century

Hi Folks:

When we were young, getting one’s own library card was both a big adventure and a big responsibility. We (okay, mostly Mike) have what some would call an unhealthy attachment to books to this day. But in this day of smart phones, tablets and streaming video, some question the continuing relevance of libraries. We beg to differ, and this post is, in essence, a letter of appreciation to libraries.

We each have two library cards right now. One is a Community card for the libraries at the University of Victoria. It’s free to everyone, and although we haven’t used them a lot, they do give us access to books and things at the university libraries. As both of us have spent countless hours researching/writing in such libraries, these do bring back memories!

The other cards we have are with the Greater Victoria Public Library system. These we use a lot, and we’re continually surprised that more people don’t avail themselves of the many services offered by the Victoria libraries. A partial list includes:

  • Books. That one’s a given. It is a library, after all. This includes inter-library loans from other branches, and includes both books of fiction across any number of genres and reference books/ periodicals. Need to see a Chilton wiring manual for your 1979 Datsun 280ZX? They have one. :-)
  • Newspapers and magazines. A variety of daily, weekly, monthly… publications.
  • CDs/DVDs/Audiobooks. Movies, documentaries, music and much more.

Not so in love with tangible stuff anymore? (this is the 21st century) Okay, how about:

  • Zinio. Free access to over 440 digital magazines.
  • indieflix. Free access to thousands of shorts, indie films, features and documentaries from over 50 countries.
  • Hoopla. Movie/TV/E-book downloads and more – 12 downloads/month.
  • Mango Languages. Close to 50 courses in 23 different languages.
  • E-Books. Thousands of titles accessible via either OverDrive or 3M Cloud Library.

That doesn’t include ongoing events like seminars, lecture series, storytime, baby time, computer training courses… the list goes on and on. If you’d like to celebrate local authors there’s also the library’s 2015 Emerging Local Authors Collection: 172 titles independently published by more than 150 Victoria residents between 2010 and 2014 (including Marcia’s book – see the top right of this page). Submissions for the next year’s event close January 15, 2016. See Emerging Local Authors for more information on the 2015 submissions and guidelines for submitting to the 2016 event.

Doesn’t that sound like a magical place to be?


Hug School for Dads

Hi Folks:

We recently came across the following article, and as avid huggers ourselves we just had to share it with you! One of Mike’s old friends had never been hugged by her father for her entire life, well, until Mike came along… :-) It wasn’t about love; that was obvious. It was simply that he’d grown up in a time and in a world where he was never taught how – even more, that it was okay. Now, there are a number of different ways to hug, from the back to front hug to the running hug to… but the basic instructions are simple. Open your arms, and invite someone to walk into them. Close your arms around them. Share the moment. Repeat.

Hug School for Dads

Hug School for Dads (click on the image to read the article)

Remember to hug the ones you love today, or a stranger, or, preferably, both!


Photo(s) of the Month

Hi Folks:

It’s already the beginning of November and we’ve yet to do a ‘Photo of the Month‘ post for July, August, September or October! Yikes!! The challenge of many bloggers… life gets in the way. To that end we thought we’d combine them all into one post with one image for each month. Two of these images were made by Marcia and two by Mike, all of them were made with our Galaxy S4 cell phones, and all of them have been pushed around to varying degrees in Lightroom.

Off we go!! Continue reading “Photo(s) of the Month

Colour Manipulation in Lightroom

Hi Folks:

We haven’t put out a Lightroom post for a while; this one is an attempt to answer a question that we were asked recently on one of the social media sites. Before we get started, if you have Photoshop, PSE, Corel Photopaint, Gimp or some other pixel-editing software, you’ll more likely find doing colour manipulation easier there. However, if Lightroom is what you have, all is not lost! Continue reading “Colour Manipulation in Lightroom

Eating Our Way Through... Portland!

Hi Folks:

Well, in a fit of madness (spurred on by our son’s wedding at the end of June) we came home from Vancouver, changed clothes and escaped Victoria for a few days… going south to Seattle and Portland. We’d promised ourselves an adventure for the summer, and this was it! Most of our food posts have covered local restaurants; this will combine both food and travel information into one. Continue reading “Eating Our Way Through… Portland!

Street Photography?

Hi Folks:

One of the members of our photography Meetup group recently asked me about doing a workshop on street photography. Here, in part, is my response:

Hi there, and thanks for stopping by! By ‘street photography’ I’m assuming you’re referring to street photography as a genre. There are probably few areas in photography that provoke as much animosity, antipathy and a few other ‘a’ words as street photography, between those who believe that, as an art form, it must fit into certain criteria (like cubism or post-modernism in art) and those who believe that those in the first group are full of it.

Basically, as I understand it, street photography as genre is distinct from documentary photography or photojournalism in that the latter two may provoke a question but also provide their own answers, whereas street photography poses questions but leaves the viewer to answer them. There may be a sense of brutal honesty, serendipity, spontaneity or play but they’re nested within a sense of ambiguity or obscurity.

On the Luminous Landscape forums I found the following quotes:

“Street Photography?

Over the last few decades the phrase ‘Street Photography’ has come to mean a great deal more than simply making exposures in a public place. Photographers like Robert Frank, Garry Winogrand, Lee Friedlander and Joel Meyerowitz have forced a redefinition of the phrase that has many new implications.

Joel Meyerowitz
Primarily Street Photography is not reportage, it is not a series of images displaying, together, the different facets of a subject or issue. For the Street Photographer there is no specific subject matter and only the issue of ‘life’ in general, he does not leave the house in the morning with an agenda and he doesn’t visualise his photographs in advance of taking them. Street Photography is about seeing and reacting, almost by-passing thought altogether.

For many Street Photographers the process does not need ‘unpacking’, It is, for them, a simple ‘Zen’ like experience, they know what it feels like to take a great shot in the same way that the archer knows he has hit the bullseye before the arrow has fully left the bow. As an archer and Street Photographer myself, I can testify that, in either discipline, if I think about the shot too hard, it is gone.

Matt Stuart
If I were pushed to analyse further the characteristics of contemporary Street Photography it would have to include the following: Firstly, a massive emphasis on the careful selection of those elements to include and exclude from the composition and an overwhelming obsession with the moment selected to make the exposure. These two decisions may at first seem obvious and universal to all kinds of photography, but it is with these two tools alone that the Street Photographer finds or creates the meaning in his images. He has no props or lighting, no time for selecting and changing lenses or filters, he has a split second to recognise and react to a happening.

Secondly, a high degree of empathy with the subject matter, Street Photographers often report a loss of ‘self’ when carefully watching the behavior of others, such is their emotional involvement.

Trent Parke
Thirdly, many Street Photographers seem to be preoccupied with scenes that trigger an immediate emotional response, especially humour or a fascination with ambiguous or surreal happenings. A series of street photographs may show a ‘crazy’ world, perhaps ‘dreamlike’. This is, for me, the most fascinating aspect of Street Photography, the fact that these ‘crazy’, ‘unreal’ images were all made in the most ‘everyday’ and ‘real’ location, the street. It was this paradox that fascinated me and kept me shooting in the ‘everyday’ streets of London when many of my colleagues were traveling to the worlds famines and war zones in search of exciting subject matter. Friends that I met for lunch would just be back from the ‘war in Bosnia’ and I would declare proudly that I was just back from the ‘sales on Oxford Street’.”

That’s only the beginning of a much longer thread of responses. It’s worth reading. I would also add Vivian Maier to the list of great street photographers.

With street photography there’s a sense of being both ‘in the moment’ and yet apart from it, a fly on the wall, an observer, a voyeur in a sense. Street photography, traditionally, has (almost) always been done in B&W. Again, there’s a stripping away of the realities of life and evoking an essence of the moment.

Here are a few more links on street photography that might interest you.

On Street Photography
Henri Cartier-Bresson: Finding a Decisive Moment for The Waiting Stage

NB: This last one must be read with a very heavy dose of sarcasm in mind:
The 10 Rules of Street Photography

As far as a workshop, I’m not the right person to do it because I’m not a street photographer per se. I rarely shoot people, who are (almost) always an essential element of street photography. Much of the ‘street’ work I do involves anachronisms, especially signs. Some examples are below.

Okay, that’s it. Now go out and make some photographs!