The Summer of Bonsai

This summer I purchased a starter tree from a nursery. I have a vague memory of walking through a mall as a very young child and seeing a display with one or two trees. Bonsai has captured my imagination since that first encounter.

I had a starter tree once before, but it died from neglect, so I was determined to get it right this time.

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It's still alive! #bonsai

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Despite keeping the tree alive, there was still a disconnect. I read a book on the subject of bonsai care and aesthetics, then started to view the activity more as an art form than as a time suck.

The central tenet of bonsai is naturalism. You shouldn’t see the artist’s touch when you look at the tree. This seems paradoxical becuase you are shaping the tree through cutting, wiring, and stunting the growth.

Bonsai
Classic Styles

I started studying the art form in my spare time. Gradually, I gained more knowledge and became more confident.

To me, the scariest thing about bonsai is the wiring of the tree. I’m afraid that I will snap the branches or worse, the trunk. However, wiring is where the true artistry of bonsai comes into play.

Rather than going withthe present moment, I struggle against the task and contort myself unnaturally under the self-imposed stress. I want perfection. I know intellectually that bonsai aesthetics require naturalism and asymmetry, but I want perfection.

 

It came together when I saw this video of a man creating a bonsai out of a Chrismas tree. The tree was plucked from a local nursery and it was transformed into something special.

bonsai

I went outside and re-wired my tree. I was mystified. It looked so much better from a simple perspective shift. The tree was imperfect, but that’s what made it beautiful. 

Bonsai

My tree finally look right. It looked like a bonsai! A weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I felt like I could get more trees.

Thia breakthrough helped me look at all of my other projects in a new light. The perfectionism had tainted what would have otherwise been cause for celebration. Being so fixated on what I wanted, I overlooked the beauty of what I had.

bonsai

I hope to take the lessons I hae learned through practicing bonsai with me. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys nature and reflecting on one’s day!

Adventures in Macro Photography

A few years ago, I became very interested in macro photography after watching the insect documentary, Microcosmos.  I couldn’t afford a fancy lens dedicated to macro photography, so I purchased the cheapest extension tubes I could for my Nikon.

I have played around with it sporadically, but more recently I have been practicing with in earnest.

macro photography

Macro photography is definitely one of the hardest disciplines to master. When you extension tubes, more light is needed to achieve the proper exposure. There are two major solutions that I have found to this problem, each with their own drawbacks.

 

macro photography

You can shoot with a long exposure and closed aperture to solve this problem. However, you will need a very stable tripod and an agreeable subject. Caterpillars, frogs, and other calm, mostly stationary subjects are ideal for this method.

macro photography You can also shoot hand held with a faster exposure and more open aperture, but that makes focusing it’s own problem because of the shallow depth. The freedom this affords is well worth the annoyance of the shallow depth.

macro photogrpahy

Although macro photography may be the most difficult discipline in photography, it is certainly the most rewarding.

What did you think of this post? Do have any tips for macro photography? Let me know in the comments.

If you liked these photos, follow me on Instagram for more!

My First Screenplay

Hi guys! I’ve been dealing with a pretty rough migraine this week so I couldn’t really write anything too extensive this week.

However, I did find the first screenplay I ever wrote.

An Eye For An Eye is a Sin City-esque revenge film I wrote sometime in 2014 while I was in community college. It is approximately 16 pages and hopefully it isn’t too horrible to read.

An eye for an eye-page-001An eye for an eye-page-002An eye for an eye-page-003An eye for an eye-page-004An eye for an eye-page-005An eye for an eye-page-006An eye for an eye-page-007An eye for an eye-page-008An eye for an eye-page-009An eye for an eye-page-010An eye for an eye-page-011An eye for an eye-page-012An eye for an eye-page-013An eye for an eye-page-014An eye for an eye-page-015An eye for an eye-page-016

Painting with a Lens

“You could not step twice into the same river.”

-Heraclitus

I’ve always been drawn to abstract and surreal visual art.

clocks
The Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dali

The distorted images seem more real than the actual objects they represent. I’ve always wanted to created something like that, but working with a camera I wasn’t sure how to pull it off.

Pier
Looking at Brunswick from Jekyll Island, GA.

Last year I was on Jekyll Island playing around with my Nikon at the pier and my father showed me a trick using long exposure. He shifted the camera slightly to make a ripple effect. Not being much of a photographer, this was news to me and I started experimenting with it.

Moon
The moon.

This has been become the way I shoot photos now. I paint with the lens.

Light Tornado
Tornado of light made from Christmas lights in my living room.

I really enjoy using this technique because every photo is unique. It is like a Jackson Pollack painting, but using the environment around you. Every place you go suddenly becomes new again.

Wall of Light
Wall of light in my living room.

Yesterday I was took this photo:

Sunset Through the Trees
Sunset through the woods.

With a few camera shakes it became this:

img_2790

The best thing about art is once something becomes stale you can change it. It is never boring because it is never the same.

Trees
Trees.

“The Analyst” – A Short Story

NOTE: I tried getting this story published in a few journals, but it was declined. This is probably because of one line in particular. However, I am completely open to the idea that it was simply terrible. I decided to share this story with you anyway, because I am fond of it and I thought you all might enjoy it.

This is not an overtly political tale because I do not believe the themes explored in this work are political. I view them as issues of philosophy rather than issues of government.

The Analyst

by Ethan J. Hatchett

Rain fell on his black coat, each drop numbing his shoulders further. He approached the door of the hulking, concrete fortress that was his workplace. He swiped his identification card through the reader and the door creaked open. “Morning, Analyst,” the nurse greeted him dryly. The Analyst nodded in passive acknowledgement and continued his march forward. He removed his coat and hung it up on the the rusty hook in his office. He shook his computer awake from its slumber and the monitor lit up at a creeping pace. He studied the file of James Thomas, the patient he would be seeing this morning. Thomas had been diagnosed with an Antisocial Personality Disorder and has been experiencing Manic Depressive episodes. The Analyst had not seen this patient, Thomas was transferred from  another facility last week, but he already had a sense of the issue. Thomas was raised in a rural area, far from the reach of the Community and was probably indoctrinated by that uneducated, Neo-Reliant philosophy.  The Analyst did not believe in insanity. Everything had a logical explanation that could be deduced with well phrased questions or the simple implementation of the Scientific Method.

The Analyst arrived in the plexiglass chamber where they held therapeutic sessions. On the other side of the glass was James Thomas. Nineteen at most, Thomas was barely a man. He had short hair, clean shaven, and his clothes were awash with bright,  garish colors. Thomas was a stereotypical Neo-Reliant in almost every way, the only thing that was distinct was his young age. That movement tended to appeal to old men who had nothing to lose and were, in essence, dead already. They grow up before the Restoration and had faint memories of a world gone.

The two men sat in silence for sometime. The Analyst had learned over the years to put the patient off balance.  The Analyst took meaningless notes and every so often glanced sternly at Thomas. Almost half an hour elapsed before Thomas finally spoke. “Can I go now?” The Analyst looked up from his notes.

“Why would you want to do that, James? Everything is provided for you. No one has hurt you.” Thomas rolled his eyes. “Why are you so disrespectful, James? You went to school, correct?” Thomas nodded. “Well, then you knows as well as I, that respect is the foundation of human interaction.”

“Is that why you people have no doors? Respect?” Thomas chuckled.

“Do you not value transparency, James?” Thomas leaned closer to the glass.

“I prefer to shit alone.” The Analyst smiled. He closed his eyes,  took a deep breath, and recentered himself.

“Why haven’t you been taking your medication, James?” Thomas had no answer. “You need to take your medicine in order to feel better,” The Analyst continued in his calm tone.

“No,” Thomas replied curtly. The Analyst was taken by surprise.

“No?”

“I refuse.” The Analyst leaned back in his chair.

“I’m afraid you do not have a choice. We are doctors, our authority supersedes yours in this matter. You are a danger to yourself and others.”

“How am I dangerous?” Thomas asked in a mocking tone.  The Analyst was losing his patience.

“Do you remember July 5th, Mr. Thomas?”

“This again? I’ve explained this a hundred times.” The Analyst had enough.

“Do you really think that anyone would believe that an officer of community assaulted you and withheld food from you?” The Analyst stood up. “Why did you kill him? He had a family. Have you no empathy for your fellow man?” Thomas stood up and they met eye to eye.

The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” The Analyst stared in Thomas’ eyes. They were two brown balls of fiery emotion. There was no logic, no rational thought. He was hopeless.

“Where are you taking me?” Thomas asked, half curious, half scared. The Analyst did not answer. He held Thomas’ wrist and walked as fast as he could without bursting into a sprint. “I’m sorry.” The Analyst kept moving, barely acknowledging his admission of guilt.

“It’s too late for that now.”

The Analyst waited in the brightly lit room for some time. It was nearing midnight, but he was still restless. The metal door in front of the room swung open and the Physician approached him. “Congratulations. Another successful conversion, thanks to the Scientific Method.” The Analyst smirked.

“The praise belongs to you and yours,” The Analyst replied with anticipation. “May I see him?”

The two men entered the dimly lit ward. The Physician gestured towards a figure hunched on a bed. The Analyst rushed towards him. Thomas was bald with freshly made scars running down his skull, his eyes searching blankly for something. “James,” The Analyst began, “do want to take your medication?” Thomas nodded silently.

 

 

Novlr

I have been trying Novlr recently and I really enjoy using it. Novlr is a browser based program for novel writing. Many of us have tried writing on normal word processors, it can be done, but Novlr makes it a lot easier.

Novlr has constant saving so you don’t have to worry about having to interrupt your writing to save. They also have Google Drive integration, so you can back up your files to a reliable source. I really like the Focus Mode, which fades out the headers, toolbars, etc. so you can focus on the writing. and I like reading the statistics to keep me motivated.

If you interested in using Novlr, they were kind enough to set up my audience with a special discount and free trial.

If you go to: http://app.novlr.org/signup/ejhatchett and use promo code: EJHNOVLR

You will receive a third off an annual subscription to Novlr (normally $10/month) and all of November for free.

Check out Novlr, it’s great!

Anatomy of A Screenplay

The formatting of your screenplay will determine the fate of your screenplay, No one will take you seriously with a script that does not look professional.

Script1

On your title page, you should have a title, who wrote it, and which version of the draft it is currently. Additionally, if it is based on something else, you should put that under the authorship.

Note: Only state it is based on a book, comic, etc., if it is published.

Script2

The meat of the screenplay is the slugline, character, dialogue, and action.

The slugline is essentially a short description of the scene. INT (Interior) and/or EXT (Exterior), the location (i.e. THE MALL), and time (i.e. DAY or NIGHT) are mandatory for a complete slugline.

The character is the person in the scene. The character’s name is capitalized over the dialogue and it is also capitalized in the action line when the character first appears.

Dialogue is simply what character speaks in the scene. It is located under the character’s name.

The action line describes the action in the scene (i.e. The wind was blowing, John runs, etc.).

Here are some screenwriting resources that have helped me:

John August

Good in a Room

The Script Lab

ScreenCraft

Mastery by Robert Greene

The Art of Dramatic Wrting by Lajos Egri 

Internet Movie Screenplay Database (IMSD)

Formatting your screenplay can get complicated, but luckily you can use software to minimize to effort.

Final Draft is the industry standard software for screenwriting and, as I write this, Final Draft 10 is $249.

Celtx is a popular alternative to Final Draft. It is a free, browser-based program that a lot of people (including me), swear by.

Note: There are different subscription tiers you can get with Celtx that include shot lists, scheduling, and more, but the free version is great also.

I hope this was helpful!