Dodging the hurricane, music therapy, and photo processing
by Rob Tiller
Hurricane Florence got our full attention in Raleigh this week. I usually take storm warnings with a large grain of salt, since there’s usually a lot of media hype in a feedback loop with people’s tendency to exaggerate certain kinds of danger. But early projections showed a storm big enough to cover North Carolina with powerful winds and massive amounts of water, with the eye headed right towards here. We got extra food, charged our batteries, and filled the bathtub with water. Sally’s sister Ann, who lives in Wilmington, heeded the official calls to evacuate, and came to stay with us.
The storm hit Wilmington hard, but then turned south and west, dumping record amounts of rain and causing widespread flooding. In Raleigh, we got rain, but not in dramatic quantities. We had time to talk and do indoorsy things.
Like playing the piano — some Chopin, Liszt, Debussy, and Bartok. Why I enjoy this isn’t so clear. There’s close to zero chance that making music will improve my economic or social status. And there are negatives — periods of social isolation, time lost for other things, and possibly annoying the neighbors.
Part of the answer was suggested in a podcast I heard a while back about music therapy, which was being used in hospices to help dying people. Most days just by playing I give myself some music therapy, relieving stress and anxiety, finding comfort and peace. But at the same time it’s challenging and energizing. Also, at times there are new discoveries, leaps across space and time, engaging with great musical minds of times past.
Lately I’ve also been learning to play by ear. This was not a part of my early musical training, and with so much else to learn about the written language of music and technique, I just didn’t get around to it. But it turns out to be fun. There are large quantities of children’s songs, hymns, and assorted pop tunes rattling around in my head, and it’s entertaining to try them in different keys and styles. I’m looking forward to sharing the songs of my childhood with my future grandchildren.
Because of the rain this weekend, I did not get outside with my camera, but I spent some time looking at and refining recent images. These last few weeks I’ve been getting help from D.A. Wagner, a/k/a The Lightroom Guy, in getting my digital photo files organized and improving my Lightroom and Photoshop processing skills. My processing typically involves cropping and experimenting with small variations in exposure, tone, and color in different parts of the image. D.A. recently gave me some helpful ways to approach spot removal and similar edits, some of which I used with these pictures.