Toni: Reconstruction Thursdays – Comfort Zones

big cog


It’s been a long while since I’ve posted. I’ve been unable to really blog about forward progress with the building, mostly because there hasn’t been much. We’re still waiting on the committee to approve the new colors, and until that time, a lot of stuff is on hold. That hasn’t been a hardship–which, I know, is odd–but simultaneous to all of this, we ended up with work spread out from New Orleans to Texas, which means Carl is running like a crazy person, making sure we’re doing okay. He needs to be here for the building stuff, so the committee taking forever ironically worked for us instead of against. I think all of that is going to get resolved in this next month, though. Fingers crossed.

Meanwhile, last spring, I applied to The Arcanum, an online photography school that used the mentor/apprentice construct to teach. The idea being that each photographer would naturally have their own path and things they were passionate about. Instead of creating a “one-size-fits-all” type of curriculum, the guys starting the school opted for a flexible program where each master/mentor/instructor can help each student hone their skills and then aim at their specific goal.

One of the school’s initial leaders is Trey Ratcliff, the first photographer to have an HDR (high dynamic range) photo hanging in the Smithsonian. If you follow that link and see his stuff, you’ll be gobsmacked by how amazing it is. Really, he’s just mind-blowingly good.

Our teacher is A. D. Wheeler, in our particular group, and he’s pretty damned phenomenal as well. We have a great group of photographers, all with varying skill sets, which makes for a terrific learning experience. I love that the Arcanum is set up so that you get a lot of feedback at every step from fellow photographers. It sets us up to learn from each other, and then, in improving in an area, we have to figure out how to be more articulate about that skill when critiquing someone else… and having to be articulate helps us refine our knowledge, which improves the skill… and so on.

Last year, for example, I went to a party at a friend’s house where she has an old car just going to seed in her back yard. I tried to get some shots of it, but there’s a lot of shade there, no matter what time of day, and I could never get anything that I felt happy with. This was about the best I could get, then:

Old car



After a couple of months in the Arcanum, I was able to go back and, even though I was rushed, get this:

Barbara's old car

Continue reading