Flaking out

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The past fortnight has seen a disturbing trend on my part of actual photographing and very little post-processing work at my desk.

While my lenses have been put to constant use on nearly a daily basis—ranging from street shooting to an academic award ceremony to two fencing tournaments to St. Patrick’s Day weekend crowds—I have left very little time in my daily activities as of late to actually sit down at my new work station and actually process the plethora of images I have captured onto CF and SD cards and dumped onto my hard drives.  This is what happens, though, when things such as apartment decorating and entertaining visiting friends from out of town become more appealing than toiling away with going over digital contact sheets and making RAW adjustments on Aperture.

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The southwest Michigan sky, shot while en route to the New Holland Brewing pub for some food and craft beer after competing and photographing in the 21st Annual Excalibur Open fencing tournament hosted by the West Michigan Fencing Academy in Grand Rapids.

Now, however, as I finally settle into my new flat, my traveling subsiding a bit for now, my best friend Karen back home in Ohio after visiting me for St. Patrick’s Day weekend (celebrating it “the Chicago way”), I find myself now with mountains of images of sift through and process for publication finally.  The next several weeks, therefore, will see such work.

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Karen and I decided to take a daytime cruise of the Chicago River this past Saturday after the traditional green dying for St. Patrick’s Day (which Chicago rightfully decided to celebrate all weekend long). As an aspiring photographer herself, Karen is quite skilled with a camera, which was unfortunate for me as later that evening while out at a pub with other friends, she and fellow photographer Adam Barbanell captured one too many mobile phone snapshots of me in a Scotch-induced state of believing I myself to be Irish.

The first of such is a series of snowflake images.  Last week saw hopefully the final burst of winter as the warmer spring air is finally making a more lasting appearance.  It has been a harsh winter, not only for Chicago but for most of the country.  So bitterly brutal was this winter that by February, any sight of snow falling brought out a torrent of annoyance and despair from those around me.  It was therefore so easy to ignore and forget the intricate and complex beauty of something our eyes normally see as a white minute, dusty speck.

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Snowflakes parallel life on many ways.  Each individual flake is unique, shaped and formed differently from others around.  Each one has its own beauty, each appreciated differently from one set of eyes to another.  As each flake falls, its shape is modified by the wind, the temperature of the air, and its impact onto a surface.  As each flake lands, surround flakes touching it may alter its shape as well.

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Alas, though, like many things in life, it does not last forever.  Eventually, each flake fades, melting into something unrecognizable from what it once looked like, but still retaining its own beauty in a difference sense.  Slowly, each flake melts and its essence merges with other water droplets of other melted flakes.

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From the end of the life cycle of snowflakes, however, arises another cycle as spring arrives, that of the blooming leaves and flowers of trees and plants upon which they fell and landed.

All images © K. Dao Photography 2014, all rights reserved.