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Electricity Fast

(this picture is dark/underexposed on purpose)

Henry & I went on an Electricity Fast last weekend in an attempt to improve our sleep and I know some people were curious about our experiences, so here's my notes. . . Enjoy!

Okay, the night before I just didn't want to say goodbye to my computer and all it's pretty images so I did some stuff on it (mainly Photoshop and catching up with a friend) until 3am and then found I couldn't fall asleep until 5am. Ugh. Some of what I did was make 8x10 prints of stuff I usually have running as a slideshow on my computers and TV when they're resting. I put them out in front of my desktop so I'd have something pretty to look at. I'm very visual and didn't want to say goodbye to my images - I just couldn't let go. I was going to take a picture of that set up for you all, but it was too dark the entire time (more on that later), so I didn't.

I proceeded to get about a 5 hour chunk of sleep on Friday night. But Henry got TONS of sleep. Spent most of Sat/Sun sleeping. So he caught up, which was def one of our goals - to get him well rested. I slept many hours in total as well, mostly during the night, which was good for me because my current meds give me a whacky sleep schedule sometimes. I think we slept so much not just because we were tired, but because it was so dang dark the whole time.
You see, there's only 8 hours of total daylight in the Pacific Northwest this time of year and we slept through most of them. So this turned out to be more of an experiment in exposure to natural darkness. :-) Even though I originally thought I wanted to make this a monthly thing, I'm now thinking otherwise and surmising that spring or fall might have been a better time to try something liked this (16 hours of exposure to daylight in the summer isn't exactly conducive to sleep either). When Henry rolled out of bed at 2pm on Saturday (with only 2 hours of daylight left) he remarked at how dark it was and how hard that must be for me because I tend to have every light in the house ablaze when I'm up and about. I was raised in a "lights on" household and like to keep it that way.

Anyway our main activity ended up being my photography, which given my current state of heath Henry had to help me out with some of my set ups, which allowed me to get some shots I couldn't otherwise get. But while he was sleeping, between noon and 2pm (when I figured I'd get the most light) I tried to take a still life scene. It was SO DANG DARK and frustrating though (a typical cloudy winter day in the PNW). To get proper exposure I needed 6 seconds at f/5.6 (ISO 100). If you're a photographer I figured that might mean something to you. LOL. Here's what I shot:

As the sun set, which is always pretty, and we had to break out the candles, I realized I didn't need those pictures near my desktop after all. Candlelight is beautiful. And different. During all the breaks I had to take setting up for my evening photo shoot it was nice to just chill with Henry and take in how everything looked bathed in candlelight. It was quite nice.

Now, Henry is aware of how long it takes for me to take just a few pictures - because I tell him. But he was astonished as he watched me set up for my first shot (the scene and all of my gear) ... because with all the breaks I had to take to make it happen due to my failing health it took FOUR hours. Yes, four hours to do the shot you see at the top of this blog... from sunset (4pm) until 8pm. A live demonstration is more compelling than just talking about it. Four hours... yeah, yeah. They must be exaggerating. No. I'm not. Amazing though, once I got that shot set up and with A LOT of assistance from Henry for subsequent shots, we ended up getting NINE total usable shots from this little experiment. All of them candle shots based off of minor adjustments to the above scene, which I will be posting over the course of the next 2 weeks on my Instagram account. My average on a "healthy" day is about 3-4 still life shots - not all of them usable.

I learned some very valuable lessons during this photo shoot. One of them was that despite the fact that I'm a technophile who thought she knew the nuances of her camera inside and out, I did not quite remember EVERYTHING from all the study/learning/handson practice I did back when I first acquired my camera. I had forgotten how to do some things/find the right button sequence when using the viewfinder instead of the LCD screen (from which I know every function and menu setting inside and out). I had to bust out the manual to remember how to change the aperture using only the buttons on outside of my camera in full manual mode. I had played around with my camera first before finally breaking down and doing that, but I just couldn't figure it out intuitively - it was like an Easter egg hunt in a video game!

You see, recently I've become completely dependent on what Canon calls Live View (using the LCD screen), even thought I know many photographers eschew this. I use it because I must take all my pictures sitting down - I can stand very briefly to adjust some things, but then must immediately rest for quite a while afterwards. The more standing I have to do the more it slows down my process. I mostly shoot at my home studio or from my car in the passenger seat. And the Live View screen TILTS which is very important, allowing me to shoot from a variety of angles. I'm still limited, but I have some semblance of flexibility. With the view finder? No tilt. You basically must look strait ahead at wherever it's pointed. So without being able to stand or crouch either I was SEVERELY hampered, with an exceedingly limited variety of angles. Couldn't even try some of the shots I had in mind. At the very end though, I tried a "standing" shot, which meant Henry did almost all the set up and it took me about 60 minutes (because of all the breaks I had to take) to take this one shot. (The only other "standing" shot I've tried since being sick took 2 hours from set up to finish). Here's how it turned out:

Oh! And I was productive in one other way. I had printed out over 150+ pages of the novella series I'm currently working on when I feel well enough (Tales of the Dark Prince). I intended to do some editing as well. Now, seeing as I'm an atrociously SLOW reader 150 pages was beyond overkill - I ended up only editing 14 pages - but I'm terrified of being bored above all else - so I always prepare too much reading material. But guess what? During my electricity fast, I ended up writing a little scene for one of the later books in the series. :-)

Excerpt from Reverberations, Tales of the Dark PrinceCollapse )
I whipped that out by hand in my "The Evil Twin of Prince Drake" notebook. (Prince Drake is the King of Industry mentioned at the start of this snippet - Snow White's prince).

Yes, even though I'm the author, I'm writing his miserable story and I can relate to him in certain ways. And I do see myself as his evil twin, always in the background, my machinations making his world darker and even more menacing (I torture him, my poor dark prince!). But I am The Queen of Tragedy. Would you expect anything less from me?

By the end of Saturday night Henry & I were tired and kinda bored of the fast, even though I found it quite pleasant to be offline and he enjoyed listening to podcasts while I shot stuff (Monster Party & The Dead Authors Podcast). I wasn't sure how I was going to make it through another day/night cycle as planned. And as it turned out, Henry didn't want to either. He had to see his mom on Sunday and didn't want me alone with candles because of my hands. You see, I don't just drop things and occasionally experience weakness, I also throw things when they spasm involuntarily. He had been on edge the entire time Saturday night in fact, fire extinguisher at the ready as I was trying to shoot all those lit candles. Yeah, fire and hands that randomly throw things about as if possessed don't go together. Neither do they play nicely with my expensive camera and lenses, but I have built in accommodations/precautions for that. So we ended up forgoing the rest of the fast come sundown on Sunday night and I was relieved.

Will we do this again? I don't know. I hadn't fully realized how nervous the candle situation had made Henry and it really was freakin' dark. Perhaps if we lived in the Southwest or something where the days are brighter and more even throughout the whole year? What do you think? Would you try an electricity fast for a few days or even 24 hours? If we do it again, I think we'd only do one day/night/day sequence instead of trying for two.

Love my husband . . .

The next shot I'm going to be posting for my Medical Leave photo essay could not have been done without my husband setting the scene per my directions (I can't bend over without getting very sick).

It's so awesome doing photography with him . . . I love this man so much!
 . . . and WOW! A seriously intense chapter just came out of me.

Damn, but it needed to be written. The thoughts and feelings and words needed to get down on the page. These characters had some serious heartbreaking to do!

I haven't written in three days . . . mainly cause of my health (NOT from lack of muses) and I've been Jonesing ever since the first 24 hours passed. But it feels like this passage just came out of nowhere - that everything just flew from my fingers tonight - even though I knew those feelings my characters were having would need to be addressed at some point. Just not so intensely. LOL. My characters definitely spoke to me tonight. I felt more medium than master.

But oh God, it felt great. Oh the FEELS! My poor characters . . . they had so much to say.

If anyone is interested in a taste of what I came up with tonight, I can reply or post an excerpt here. Just let me know!

November 2017 Photo Essay: Medical Leave

"Day 1 of a 7 day challenge from Miller Penelope to post 7 black & white photos of your life. No people, no explanation. Challenge someone every day." - That was the call to arms on Facebook. Challenge Accepted!

I am turning this into a photo essay entitled "Medical Leave" because that is the slice of life that
 I am in right now. I'm thinking of turning this into a regular thing. Maybe in the Spring I'll do another slice of my life. Hopefully I'll be back to work and traveling by then . . . who knows what interesting stuff you could see from me in that case!


gotham, edward nygma, ed nygma
Avenue Potter

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