Anxiety, What A Concept

Anxiety, What a Concept

I chose to not name it, “High Anxiety.” Mel Brooks already did it to Hitchcock…

There are many nice little suburban parks near me. All the vertical drop, steel slides and iron monkey bars over decomposed granite are now bright, exotic shaped plastic above colorful mats of reclaimed rubber. They are pleasant places to make photographs in midday light—and at night too.

Here are some pics of one found this week, giving impetus to a musing about anxiety. What! Now wait, didn’t I just say they are “pleasant places?”

Yes, and, holding conflicting truths in your self is a common aspect of being human. Here are some other’s words about it from

To make even more dualism, I dislike horror movies and TV shows, in particular books, movies, and TV having suspense. My wife loves them, with each of us having our own entertainment preferences. See how conflicting ideas and likes/dislikes also make for good marriages.? I won’t say I always like the Disney movie Pollyanna, because you would stop reading right there.

You might find a little anxiety in these images because the are tipped, have black shadows, bright highlights, white skies, hazy resolution, busy backgrounds, no clear point of focus, and other such unconventional artifacts. Oh well…

All the images were taken with an Olympus M5 III and a 50MM equivalent prime lens. There are thumbnails in the text about images and larger versions in the slideshow at the end of the post.


Words about some of the images


   There was an interesting S-curved sidewalk and low wall in the playground. The images of the them alone don’t quite have it. The image with the bench in it works better. I put a film preset on it with Adobe Raw. possibly Fuji Velvia and pulled the black blacker and whites brighter. I used NIK Silver Effects Pro to convert it to B&W. Using a Red filter and film preset in SEP made a brighter white sidewalk and darker blacks with darker grass. A white sky did not work with it. I like the extremes of white/black, but it needs a person on the bench or kids in the sand to ground the image. The plain color image works as a park scene, but still missing a figure too.

   I wanted a B&W image of the school grounds with the mountains in the background. To give a feeling of summer and openness and the idea that the kids have a tremendous view from the school. Walking up and down the sidewalk taking a few pictures, when I arrived at the park produced nothing I liked. The B&W image across the street was taken leaving the park when I saw what I wanted. I used a film preset to start with a Fuji Velvia color image and then Nik Silver Effects Pro to make it B&W. The Blue filter in SEP is hard to use because it makes a muddy dark image many times. In this case it worked great. The sky got lighter, the far mountains lighter with some haze, the closer mountains darker. The building and street popped more with darker grass and the yellow line in the street went black. The image was not straightened because the street tips slightly to the left and the school is pretty level. That adds the right amount of tension and unsettledness for me…anxiety? The black tree also adds to that.

   The abstract image of the playground mat doesn’t work in color because the sand isn’t bright enough. B&W makes it pop. Nothing was arranged, it’s how I found it. The color image uses a film preset and the B&W NIK Silver Effects Pro. My skills at building a still life are not stellar, I prefer to shoot things the way I find them.

   I had a particular idea in mind photographing the seahorse and zebra spring rides—memories of childhood. I took one picture from the left and one closer square on to the animals. The square one was too stiff. The processing was a color film preset in Camera Raw with the Contrast, Dehaze, and Clarity sliders pushed left to blur and soften the image. Then I switched Raw to B&W and played with the sliders to make it even more etherial until I got the look I wanted for the idea. It was cropped 2×3 to take a little off the top, but leave in the sand in front.

   The yellow aster in the brown buckwheat has an Ektachrome film preset with yellow cast. The highlights are turned way down to make the colors deeper. It also uses Topaz Gigapixel to help separate the busy bush stems better. I always struggle to try to make images like this resolve better a’ la Eliot Porter, who did it so well with film. Someday I may get it. It also uses Topaz Sharpen for focus. It was not cropped because the context is important to the image. The other plants on the hillside above the buckwheat contribute to the overall “dry” “drought” “end of summer” themes with a tiny yellow flower in the middle.

Note: I don’t look or care for a blatant single a point of focus in most of my photographs. For me it is all about having a full frame all working together to give a feeling or impression to an idea, not one object. It is a frustrating approach that does not work many times. My favorite photographers, Stephen Shore and William Eggleston make it look easy with their “pictures of nothing.” Bastards! (I also don’t use brushes in editing to try to make perfect images.)

   The palm fonds next to the S-shaped walk is about “grit.” Started using Camera Raw “auto” with some tweaking of the sliders then converted to B&W with Silver Effects Pro. I used a Blue filter in SEP to make a white sky, light hazy hills, and thick black trees. A film preset in SEP lightened it up and I added tons of grain. It’s about a gritty path and dead palm fonds under a white sky. If the sky is cropped out or made dark with a Red filter it is just a boring picture of a curvy path having less emotion. I could have rotated it slightly to the right to make the path flat, but that would take some of the anxiety some might feel out of it.

   The lava slide on the rubber mat has a yellowish Ektachrome preset with the highlights and shadows pulled down. I wanted it black under slide. It has a little clutter in the upper right that is impossible to remove by cropping without impinging on the slide too much. It is just a pleasant abstract shape kind of image with a color cast I like. It’s also tipped left a bit, it might ot might not work straightened, but is impossible without destroying the framing of the slide on the right side.


Try those little parks in your neighborhood. Who knows what you might see.



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