A Lot of News this Week

A Lot of News this Week

And something important to me

I used a Photoshop tool called "layer blend modes" to bring out the waterfall

Whew, this has been quite a week of news coming from every direction. I am not a news journalist, but to ignore pressing issues in favor of my own story ideas doesn't always seem fair. I struggled with what to write about because several important stories are circulating, one of which involves the judicial branch of our government and the Supreme Court. I will leave that one to the journalists who better grasp the facts and history than I do. Besides, it's way too complicated to go into in this short essay.

The other important story I am thinking about has to do with people taking their own lives. It's heavy, I know. As a society, we touch on it, but we don't really discuss it or address the causes. I have had my own mental health challenges, which I have been able to take care of. The thing is, talking about mental health is taboo. And because we can't or don't have that entry-level conversation, we often never get to the more complicated and difficult conversation about suicide.

For me, I know how dark of a place depression can be. I never thought about taking my own life; I did think about leaving society and being a hermit in the woods. It would have been my way of checking out. If you know me well, you know that wouldn't be too far-fetched. I say this to let you know that I have some experience in this area.

It was shocking to hear Naomi Judd had taken her own life the day before she was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Like so many have commented, it is heartbreaking. Also, yesterday I learned that 200 sailors from the USS George Washington were moved off the ship after seven sailors died in the past year, three by suicide last month alone. Then, this morning I read that Kailia Posey, the former star of "Toddlers & Tiaras," had taken her own life. At only 16 years of age, it was too much for her to go on, for whatever reason.

It is tragic, in each and every case, that these people, from all strata of society, felt so lost and alone that they could not bear to go on. It is profoundly sad.

So what now? How do we make a change and help the people we love? Here are a few suggestions. Open up about your own struggles. Let people around you know that you're okay being open about yourself, and it's safe for them to be open about themselves in return. If it's a hard conversation to start, try asking a question like "What do you think depression feels like?" or "If you (or I) were depressed, how would we know it?" Anyway to get the conversation started is a step out of darkness, whether it is for a friend who is struggling or for yourself. Words expressing feeling are far better than words swirling around as ruminations in the mind.

Most importantly, if your suspect a loved one, or anyone for that matter, is considering suicide, ask them. Straight out, say, "Hey, are you okay? Are you thinking of hurting yourself?" No one will ever be offended by being cared for. It may make the difference.

I am only qualified to talk about this from my own experience. Depression is the epidemic we are facing here. There are people trained to help those in need, and if you or a loved one are struggling with your mental health, find a doctor or therapist you click with. Even if suicide is not a consideration, depression is a serious illness that should not be left untreated.

Finally, for someone to talk to if it seems like there is nowhere to turn, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. They are friendly people, they care, and they know how to listen.

The photos I am sharing this week are from an off-grid trip to Oregon. I am sharpening my skills in post-processing images, and I wanted to see how much I have improved in the last year, so I am re-editing some older work. I am happy with the results, so I will share them here.

At the top is a photo that I have always been fond of; it just never looked quite right. I feel it is a lot closer now, and you may see it offered on my website before too long. It's getting close to being ready to publish.

The photo below is from the same river in Oregon, just a different vantage point. I was able to brighten up the river and bring out the green reflection from the trees. The ruined miller shack on the right was previously too dark and got lost in all the imagery. It's looking better now.

And finally, what I call "The Wandering Waterfall" is looking so much better now. It's a great composition, but the movement of the water wasn't apparent. Over exposing the image to create the feeling of movement caused the water to be blobs of white. Learning how to tone that down and bring out the rocks in the stream makes a difference

At one time, the creek had been partially diverted under the structure on the right

This is a photo just asking to be enlarged. Look how far back the creek goes!