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July 31, 2014 / P J Charles



Pride. One of the seven deadly sins. My friend SW posted

Don’t judge someone just because they sin differently than you.

and it got me thinking. If Pride is a sin, then it must be about arrogance, conceit and vanity and the carriage of success. I am deeply honored when someone says they are proud of me for I feel it is acknowledgement that I have done something well, and something of service. There are moments where I am proud of myself. I have accomplished something I set out to do and I feel good about it. I strive to carry those successes with humility and grace. It’s a slippery slope. I could not find a quote on pride that didn’t feel pejorative and discouraging.

In the end, after much consideration, I think drinking Pride is much more fun and not nearly so serious a sin. Of course that is a slippery slope as well, for a few too many bottles and you are headed straight for gluttony.

July 30, 2014 / P J Charles

I’m always chasing Sun Dogs

sun dogs

He shouted to me from the deck of our home in Laguna and asked me to come outside. There it was. Almost a rainbow – but not quite – surrounded by clouds. I had never seen anything like it before and ran into the house to grab my camera. If you look closely you can see it in the center of the photograph. A small section of color that I have learned is a Sun Dog.

Sun dogs are a member of a large family of halos, created by light interacting with ice crystals in the atmosphere. Sun dogs typically appear as two subtly-colored patches of light to the left and right of the sun, approximately 22° distant and at the same elevation above the horizon as the sun. They can be seen anywhere in the world during any season, but they are not always obvious or bright. Sun dogs are best seen and are most conspicuous when the sun is low.

The factual description was certainly interesting but not the least bit inspiring. I started thinking of an old tune by Judy Garland….

I’m Always Chasing Rainbows”

I’m always chasing rainbows
Watching clouds drifting by
My schemes are just like all my dreams
Ending in the sky

Some fellows look and find the sunshine
I always look and find the rain
Some fellows make a winning sometime
I never even make a gain, believe me

I’m always chasing rainbows
Waiting to find a little bluebird in vain

Some fellows look and find the sunshine
But I always look and find the rain
Some fellows make a winning sometime
I never even make a gain, believe me

I’m always chasing rainbows
Waiting to find a little bluebird in vain

I googled it only to find that the message seemed desperate and sad. Not at all the hopeful journey of a leprechaun
searching for gold. Or the joy a rainbow brings when you happen upon it.

I think instead I will chase Sun Dogs – which seems whimsical and lyrical and Happy.

July 29, 2014 / P J Charles

Ansel Adams


I had known this show was going on since early in June. One evening  I even tried to make it to the gallery but  the Friday night traffic from Dallas to Fort Worth is a hopeless mission  so I sat with my friends at Craighead Green Gallery and drank wine and celebrated the beautiful creations they have hanging on their walls. It was a lovely Artist’s Date as recommended in The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron which was referred to me by Thom Jackson who happens to be a contributor to the gallery. A virtuous circle of sorts.  I love when things seem completely and utterly connected.

This Saturday morning, after a particularly dogged week in which my head, heart and hands were dedicated to all things work and friends and not to any of my creative pursuits, CF suggested a Sunday outing to see the Ansel Adams exhibit at the Arlington Museum of Art.

While long an admirer, I wasn’t a student of his work. I knew of him and his importance, had seen photographs of his, but never an exhibit. I was excited as we set off Sunday afternoon.

For the last year I have dabbled in film. I don’t know why exactly, but I believe understanding film photography and how it works will help me be a better digital photographer. I have never been in a darkroom and experienced  that fantastical moment where your image emerges from the paper. I hope in the coming year to realize that and to connect to the smells and touch of a dark room. Having tried so hard to hit the clarity of the image, I was completely gobsmacked to see the light and shadow existing in Adam’s photographs.

Siesta Lake.

UnknownThis was my favorite.  The reflection of the trees on the water captured my breath as we moved with the crowd through the exhibit. I lingered over the photograph with a not unexpected mix of envy and admiration. It was simply beautiful.




.Sand Dunes


As we made our way, I came across a photo so different from those of the Sierras… the sand dunes. The strength of the line of the dune was inspiring – even more so by the brilliance of the composition




I favored the photos with the greatest simplicity. Mr. Adams is renown for his amazing naturalist images of verdant forests and commanding mountains. I loved the quiet simplicity of the fern, the light from a building or the waves on the sand. It seemed he could shoot anything with a clarity to which I aspire. Reading of him, and subsequently watching a movie in which he regaled the stories of his photographic excursions made me truly understand the artist. Brilliant. Committed.  I hunger to know more.

Penitente Morada
I revered him after the visit.. I am inspired and engaged to be better – to aspire to a talent equal in measure to the bar he set just from the example he set.




I am thankful to the Arlington Museum of Art for bringing this treasure to me. Frankly though, I felt as if you were seeing artistry displayed in a gymnasium. The character and quality of the installation not worthy of the man. or the photo.  The lighting poor, the information incomplete (I would have loved to know more of how he shot the photo – camera, stop….etc.). But I loved every minute of my time  and would recommend to everyone to see it before it closes this weekend.

A few of my favorites are here – pulled from the web where photography is nearly too accessible. When one realizes the artistry that went into each photograph by his hand, one cannot believe that Nature and talent are not inspired by the divine.

July 28, 2014 / P J Charles

Of Course I do….


Pools make me feel nostalgic. I have a box of photos from my mother and in it is a photo of me standing in my wading pool dressed in a little plaid one piece with a frilly skirt. It seems I couldn’t even decide then whether I wanted to be a tomboy or a girlie girl. Later I remember summer days where the shade of the pine trees cast across the water at the Country Club pool as I played Marco Polo in an endless splashfest and ate popsicles until my tongue was unnaturally orange. Later, I lifeguarded at a community pool with my brother. Each season would start with an inconsistent application of sun screen that made him look like a candy cane. It provided hours of giggles and to this day still does. And then there was that first hot summer in Columbus Ohio that followed a year in New York City. Landlocked for the first time we looked for places to sit and cool to familiar sounds of summer. Finally we found it. A small community pool where there was a grassy knoll to stretch out and enjoy the languorous afternoons. We would walk through the gates with our bag full of goodies and our webbed lawn chairs under our arm early enough to grab our spot before the late afternoon crowds. There we would sit, reading and laughing and watching. One afternoon in the waning sunlight he grabbed my hand and said, “Marry me”. It wasn’t a question — it was more of a statement with confidence, pluck and in a knowing way that made me feel like life would be an adventure. Today, as we walked in the hot summer sun, I asked if you remembered. And you responded with … “of course I do.”

July 27, 2014 / P J Charles

Love Berto – Abbot Kinney

love Berto

July 26, 2014 / P J Charles

Chili Philosopher – Abbot Kinney

The chili philosopher

Love a clever Food Truck!

July 25, 2014 / P J Charles

Abbot Kinney

abbott Kinney

I have long enjoyed Abbot Kinney in Venice California. Aside from some pretty great restaurants (like Gjelina where the Butterscotch pudding is legendary) there is a bohemian vibe that appeals to me. Streets are always filled with interesting characters which, on this day, included me and SW. There is a diverse crowd of hipsters, hippies and then the likes of the two of us (and I am not quite sure in which bucket we would fit). Cruising along there are shops (some of my favorites like Le Labo) and restaurants that attract locals and tourists alike. Until recently, I hadn’t realized that Abbot Kinney was actually a developer and conservationist working in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s on the development of Venice and Santa Monica California. On this day time was short and we walked along shooting and chatting and, of course, eating some of that revered Butterscotch Pudding.

July 24, 2014 / P J Charles

A night to remember

My crazy friends! All together to celebrate the visit of our friend from Singapore and share a night and a meal. Each of us have a long history. Thank you for bringing the laughs and for all the ways each one of you enrich my life. In this photo we are all posing with SW’s Kangol hat. The Kangol hat lives here in Dallas as a constant reminder of how much we miss SW.

July 23, 2014 / P J Charles



So, today marks the 1200th post for PJ Charles. I find it hard to believe that I have blogged daily for over 3 years. This photo is of CF standing at Victoria Beach. I would not have been able to do any of this without his encouragement and support. As I have written before, he bought me my first camera and every step of the journey he has stood right beside me – in just the way he does in this photo. Thank you to all of you who have read the blog each day and for being so supportive – CJ you most of all – every morning without fail! There is much I have learned from this experience. Mostly I have trusted that when you put yourself out there you get more in return.

Thank you for your support as I cross this milestone. I am most appreciative.

July 22, 2014 / P J Charles

Planting Orchids

Just about the time CF returns to Dallas, it is time to repot all the orchids we have in the house. I love doing it. A simple act that gives a sense of accomplishment the minute it is done. They are throughout our home – a flower we have had present in all the homes in which we have lived. In Laguna, we buy them buy the truckload at the local farmer’s market. In Dallas, we depend on Whole Foods. On this day I had 9 planters and 11 orchids to plant. The night before I stood in front of all the empty pots and thought to myself how lovely the house would be when he came home this week – and before I knew it I was done and they were placed around the house.


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