Wednesday, June 4, 2014

PA traffic by Saleh Stevens

Most of us are guilty of this problem, but I will say it:  when you are in traffic, what is the rush?
On my way to work yesterday, I was in steady 30mph traffic on a 55mph road, route 74.  Naturally, I eased into to an informal cruise control. This way, I don't have to worry about slamming on the breaks are stomping on the accelerator to pace traffic.

At one point, the space between the car ahead of me and my own car was probably 4 car lengths.  I looked ahead and saw that the traffic was not abating.  The space between the cars solely stemmed from two cars switching lanes to exit the road.  In sum, I did not see any reason to change my cruise control approach.  But, I noticed the driver in the car behind me.  She caught my attention because she was yelling at me (with her hands), and the movement caught my eye in the rear view mirror.  She was waiving her arms so much that I initially thought she was dancing to a song.  She was not.  She was pointing at me and essentially telling me to speed up.

I ignored her.  As soon as she had the opportunity, she switched lanes in effort to get next to, then in front of, me.  It took her a couple of speed up and slow down cycles.  First she was was on my rear right bumper, then she made her way up to my front quarter. She glared at me. I looked at her and then turned back towards the road ahead.  After another few minutes of her tailgating so she could get space,  she was able to get ahead of me enough to switch into my lane.  To be helpful, I slowed just a little so that she could squeeze over.

Awesome.  She did it.  She got in front of me.  She gave me a sarcastic thumbs up sign.  But, she was still moving at 30mph, just like me.  Her win?  She was now in front of me, but with less spacing between her car and the car in front of her.  My only question is:  what did she accomplish?

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A beautiful art that has been used for many centuries as a form of expression. I appreciate it in its longstanding form, although it is somewhat difficult for me to consider modern photography as a form of expression. Expression is so important to my people and I wish to keep an open mind about forms of expression and the way in which I can use them to personally express my thoughts and passions. I am passionate about this topic especially because with my career I spend a lot of time in the air looking at the earth, and it is eye opening to view the world from a different perspective. So, I took up photography and have learned a few things along the way. First, just about anyone is capable of taking a high-quality photography these days. Second, there are many stories to be told about a moment; the specific part of the moment to capture is up to the photographer. Third, people are extraordinarily impatient, which speaks to the immediate gratification and prevalent laziness that exists in this Western culture in particular. And lastly, although technology makes things more convenient, it often takes away from the personal experience and story behind a moment.

The Camera.
Photography has come a long way from early times. What was once an 8 hour process (review of history of photography), is now an instant exposure with the newest technological advances. The camera obscura is a fascinating discovery. I found it hard to believe that an entire image can reflect on the ceiling of a room with just a small (practically miniscule) hole made for the light to enter into the room. However, I did try creating one myself and was amazed at how sharp the image reflected on the ceiling of the room I used. Not to mention the fact that I could see moving cars on the street and people walking by all from looking at the ceiling of a bedroom. Nevertheless, modern day technology has allowed us to capture moments like these in their sharpest and most detailed form.

There are still well known photographers; some of my favorites are Ahmed Assem, Rose Issa, and Michket Krifa. It is hard to make profit in a world where technology practically defines our lives. That said, many people are now able to take professional grade photographs by purchasing a camera with zoom lenses like the Nikon or Cannon ones a lot of tourists have. Admittedly, I use one myself. However, I DO NOT use it on the automatic setting. This is where I find it difficult to consider modern day photography as a form of expression. How much can we consider a captured photograph a form of expression if we are using a piece of technology and letting it choose what and how to capture a moment. Sure, it is convenient to say the very least to be able to just capture a part of a moment with just a click of a button. But is that what we want? To capture a part of a moment? The automated setting of the camera selects an image based on the perfect exposure, it chooses the point of focus, depth of field, and it selects what aperature and shutter speed to use. That doesn’t leave much of the photographing up to the photographer. Even putting DSLR cameras (digital single lens reflex; what many tourists use) aside we let technology assist in our expression of a moment. Take, for example, smartphones. With applications such as the Instagram anyone is able to feel like a professional photographer even though it limits what we can do with an image. It posts images in a square manner and gives us a focal point to choose from as well as filters to apply after the photograph has been taken. Yes I can admit that this is an incredible advance, as we once had to put the filter over the camera when we captured a moment. I have no qualms with the use of technology, but I refuse to consider a photograph as a form of expression if it is taken on the Automatic setting on a camera. Not to mention the part of Instagram where it no longer has to be “instant”. It’s as if we are no longer in touch with the world in front of us in its grandiose presence. Quite frankly it is sad and appalling. I pray people will use the manual setting on their camera to use this convenient technology to their advantage when expressing themselves. I know I do.  Even though I do not wish to publish any of my photographs, I believe that I decided how the moments are captured in my experiences. Emphasis on the “I”.

I know it is hard to imagine an exposure taking 8 hours (back with the camera obscura and the daguerreotype), but our lack of patience as humans has become alarming and I can only hope that we truly take a moment to live in the moment we are living in. And when we do have the opportunity to use technology to capture a moment, that we have the patience to use as manual a setting as possible. Learning isn’t too difficult and when we now have instant results – although it fits with this sense of instant gratification we humans have acquired today.
Just some thoughts.

Peace and blessings,

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Let's talk about names.  Every country has names that are common, expected and easy to pronounce.  Of course, how the name is pronounced and how difficult it is is to pronounce the name is subject the language and the region where the name is being used.  In my country, if not mostly around the world, the name Saleh is pronounced as an Arab name: Sah-leh, Soh-lah are a few versions.  In western countries, I have heard the name Saleh pronounced as Su-lay, Si-lay and So-lay.  My guess is that this type of pronunciation has its origins in romance languages Romance-languages the name Saleh harkens to the name sun;  sole, sol and sun are a few versions that come to mind.  This doesn't happen in my favorite country of Egypt.  Nevertheless, Saleh Stevens or Stevens Saleh, however your prefer to arrange your/my name (also dependent on language (culture) and region) the history of the name and the historical figure associated with the name are awesome!  

In this blog, let's try to come up with the illustrious and sometimes dubious figures that have the name Saleh.  This list will grow over time, but feel free to chime in as you feel appropriate.  But only with positive feedback--let's stay peaceful and happy!

First up: