Selfie Meets Hurricane Ethel – Artist vs Farmer

Selfie - brown sweater

I was considering posting more snow photos (maybe we’ve all seen enough of those? And besides, our snowlettte hardly counts… ) or a dreadfully wobbly video of me chopping through the ice on the horse trough in the pitch darkness (you have no idea how hard it is to hold the phone steady and not drop it in the icy water, point the headlamp more or less in the correct direction so the axe head is illuminated, and then chop effectively… The sound effects are good, but the video – not so much). I still haven’t got around to writing up my notes from the Deconstructing Dinner talk last week (was going to do that but then reached for my purse, into which I had stuffed my scrawled scribblings, when I realized my purse is down in the truck cab…) And then I remembered that this week’s photo challenge is none other than the Selfie!!

Regulars here will know this one had my name all over it, given my recent obsession with selfies and the deeper meaning thereof… Here’s a link to the post that talked about self portraits, artists and their interpretation of selfies, and a few of mine… And here’ s a link to the [very] recent post about how my felfie (a selfie by a farmer) won some market bucks at the local community market… I kind of like that one because the chicken looks so stern and regal and I don’t typically think of chickens as looking either stern or regal…

Dad and I have continued to talk about this strange thing artists (and now every Tom, Dick, and Harriet with a phone) have with self portraits… One of the things Dad mentioned was how important it is to get the eyes right – and how challenging that can be. If you can capture that whatever-it-is that makes the eyes seem alive, you have half a chance of creating an image that makes an impression.

Alas, his comment about how hard it is to get the eyes right caught me in a goofy, ‘what else can I do with google’s image toys?’ frame of mind and I came up with this:

Face twitch-MOTIONThen I thought I should settle down and try to do something more serious and took this one:

Closed eye selfie

Every time I added another filter it added forty years or so, which was a tad depressing. I mean, I feel pretty tired at the end of some days, but some of these were rather alarming…

Selfie old

What I would look like if I were 87, lived in the desert, and had just heard my favourite goat had died while giving birth to triplets. Where on earth will I find the milk to raise the babies?

Meanwhile, Dad was in his studio obsessing about eyes. A while back he had done a self portrait in shades of grey:

Self portrait [E. Colin Williams]

Self portrait [E. Colin Williams]

Dad photographed one of his eyes from the painting:

ECW Self Portrait - Eye… printed it out at a scarily larger than life size… And then, he spiralled down into that eye and recalled a story from September 1960 when he and my mother were travelling together through Florida. They were holed up in a tiny rustic cabin which, apparently, was full of holes and very drafty when Hurricane Ethel struck the Florida panhandle. This could have been a scary story, but instead it was more one of those bizarre nightmare scenarios that one comes up with in… you know… nightmares.

Dad and a friend (a B-52 bomber mechanic) had completely taken apart the transmission of Mom and Dad’s 1956 Packard. Every last tiny bit had been spread out on a tarp on the floor of the cabin in accordance with the exploded drawing in the manual. Every piece had been cleaned and oiled and checked over, lined up and was ready for reassembly when Ethel rolled ashore bringing with her a gazillion bits of girt and sand and dirt and dust which blasted through the many cracks in the walls and around the door and windows, nicely coating the many delicate parts of said transmission. Dad said they hoped Ethel would carry off the car so they could write it off but no such luck. They spent the next who knows how long cleaning off every speck of crud before the transmission could be put back together again.

This made a huge impression on my parents as this was one of those stories we heard over the dinner table at various points as we were growing up… The image of that storm still, apparently, haunts Dad as this is where he went from the close-up of his eye:

Ethel Comes to Town

Which, when you compare it to the original eyeball

E. Colin Williams - eye detailmakes one realize just how aptly the eye of the storm is named…

18 responses to “Selfie Meets Hurricane Ethel – Artist vs Farmer

  1. Makes perfect sense to me how he is taken with eyes. Quite an Ethel story. Your dad is a character. I think you are, too. The apple doesn’t … well you know.

    Have to admit, I am not a selfies person. I guess I should try it. We were on a train or bus trip a couple of years ago. The girl in front of us was in her teens. She took endless pictures of herself in all manner of poses. Kind of goofy.

    I don’t think the filters you used were very flattering. The top one looks best. And, I had to scroll away from the traveling eyeball gif after 5000 rotations.

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    • I confess I thought selfies were ridiculous and it was only quite recently that I randomly took one – I was walking along the road with a chicken under my arm and it struck me that it was on odd sight to see and it was too bad nobody was around to take a snapshot. And then it occurred to me that I could take a snapshot, which then presented a conundrum: my arms were way too short to allow me to take a photo of myself walking along the road with a chicken under my arm. At the time I had no idea how to use a self timer on the phone and besides, setting it up on a rock or propped against a handy garbage can would probably have required me to put the chicken down and then there would have been no photo opp because I would have been sprinting down the road chasing the hen… That shot was not particularly flattering (shooting up one’s beak, whether human or fowl is generally not a good idea) and yet it was sort of a fun image and it made me consider the possibility that a selfie didn’t need to be an exercise in trying to make yourself look cute, but instead could be an interesting exercise in photography. Though at first I was really uncomfortable pointing the phone at myself, I found myself really intrigued with what happens when you start playing with the images – for better or for worse! Some of the filters should come with warning labels – not for use with human images. On the other hand, it is really weird to see what must be lurking in the shadows, pits, and pores of a face – one’s future self? One’s exhausted self? One’s ancient relatives?

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      • LOL…I do entirely understand. Here’s a thought. Lay the phone on the ground pointing up. Scatter a few bits of chicken feed about. One of the chickens is likely to peck the shutter button. Voila! Chicken selfie! And, a closeup.

        Playing with photos is fun. I’ve enjoyed the things software can let you try. No cost, either.

        You pose some interesting questions at the end. I once tried out a web site that would take a current or earlier photo of you and age you by 20+ yrs. It didn’t work very well.

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      • Interesting idea re. putting the phone on the ground and then baiting with chicken feed… Have you seen this video of the seagull snatching up a camera and flying off into the sunset? I might never see my phone again if a raven gets involved in the avian selfie party!

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      • hmmmm…better not try it. 🙂

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  2. Selfie from 1999…

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  3. Interesting how with the added filters, your face takes on a more anguished look – or we’re you crinkling your face more with each pic? Your dad’s self portrait is incredible! As is the story of Hurricane Ethel. I tried a selfie this morning and it was a fright, even without the added filters. Think I’ll leave them to you and your dad to explore. Your blog is always entertaining!

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    • I wasn’t trying to be more anguished … I think I was using some kind of anguish enhancement filter… Delighted that my angsty imagery is entertaining! It has been rather a strange process to explore the despair that seems to be lurking not so far beneath the surface…

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  4. The angst filled images actually made me feel compassionate, not entertained….more the process of that exploration that is entertaining. Despair is always a hard one to see/feel/think. On the IPad there’s an app called Phonebooth which gives nine options for taking photos of outward images or selfies – squeeze, kaleidoscope, thermal, twirl, normal,stretch, light tunnel, x-ray. Does the iPhone have that?

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  5. You really put a lot of thought and creativity into this post. Excellent work.

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  6. Clever, nuanced post. 🙂

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  7. This post is absolutely incredibly amazing. I loved what your father did with the eye and how that shows the creative mind at work…stretching, pulling and reinterpreting your work, taking it all sorts of directions. Your selfies did the same. So intriguing. I’m very into photography. Hard to photograph eyes close-up without pissing people off. However, I am coming to appreciate just how much of our creative output is created through what an dhow we see. I’ve been very feeling driven in the past. I really love photographing hands. They say so much. xx Rowena

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