Q&A #3 – Citizens, Superheroes, Books and Antarctica

  • When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

There were a few things. I remember when I was 8 and had just seen Jurassic Park that I wanted to be a paleontologist and was quite serious about it – I’m still very interested in archeology and paleontology and in another life I might well have done something like that. I also wanted to be a tennis player and an actor for a while.

The main thing I remember saying consistently, though, was that I wanted to be a writer. I was writing stories from when I was six and I remember the school librarian asking my class one day if any of us wanted to be writers and my hand going up right away. I loved writing and it just seemed natural.

When I went to high school I started thinking seriously about a career in journalism or possibly teaching English and writing novels on the side. Neither worked out unfortunately but the novel side continued. Which is where I am today. 🙂

  • What do you think it means to be a good citizen?

I’ve discussed this with a few people recently, particularly with all the recent talk about whether people have a moral duty to donate part of their income to help the poor. It’s an interesting topic but I think some people tend to confuse the idea of being a good person with being a good citizen and that’s where I make a bit of a distinction.

I think being a good person is trying to live a good life without needlessly hurting other people. That doesn’t mean living a selfless life, or a life without conflict, because generally speaking I believe that goes against human nature. But someone who works hard, loves their family, tries to stay true to their morals and tries to help other people where they can, I think that is a fair way to describe a good person.

Being a good citizen, though, is not the same thing. You can obviously be both but I think being a good citizen is much more about nationality than personal identity. It’s about how you relate to where you live, about being a good neighbour to people and a good member of your community and potentially about doing what you think is best for your country or community even if that might prove unpopular. I also think it requires a willingness to be aware of what is going on and to stay informed so that you understand what is happening in your country and community.

So I guess I would describe a good citizen as someone who stays informed, votes, tries to be a good neighbour when they can, respects the rights of people and is prepared to stand up when they think something is wrong, even if (perhaps especially if) it is not the popular thing to do.

In that way I would say the person looking after their next door neighbour’s cat or carpooling to help with peak hour traffic is a good citizen, as are many bloggers and journalists who draw attention to issues that the public deserves to know about, and whistleblowers, etc, too for opposing corruption. They may or may not also happen to be good people but I think that’s separate from them being a good citizen.

Personally I’d consider myself more of an informed citizen to be honest, which is somewhere inbetween. Which is probably true for a lot of people, I’d imagine.

  • Do you think there are too many superhero films being made?

It does seem like there are a lot of superhero films being released, doesn’t it? In fact, by the time 2016 is over, there will have been seven all up!

I tend to think of superhero movies as being their own genre now though and if you think of how many dramas or romantic comedies are released every year, seven actually doesn’t sound like that many. I think the problem is more that they need to feel different and distinct and to be spaced out more to help reduce viewer fatigue.

I think eventually superhero films will lose some of their popularity, a bit like Westerns did, but with such large fanbases I think they’ll always be popular. Personally I’d like to see more as series on Netflix – I think that format suits them better and would help to reduce oversaturation too.

  • You’re about to go to Antarctica for a year and can only bring five non-essential items with you. What would you bring?

I’m going to say that a phone, computer and wifi are included as essentials in this day and age, so I won’t include those. So I’d choose a camera with an all-in-one zoom lens, a kindle with a good selection of books, a photograph of my family, peppermint teabags and lots of chocolate. Because I don’t think I could last a year without tea and chocolate.

  • What are you reading at the moment?

Most of my books are in storage but I brought a few with me when I moved. I’m reading The Three Body Problem by Liu Cixin  at the moment, which won the Hugo Award last year. It’s very good. I plan to read Lock In by John Scalzi after that.

  • iOS or Android?

I’ve never really got the fuss about comparing iOS and Android… I know a lot of people are very passionate about one being better than the other and debate it endlessly but I’ve used both over the years and think they’re both great.

Personally I use iOS these days but I don’t think it’s ‘better’ than Android or any other operating system, it just suits the way I use my mobile devices a little better overall.

I do like the Android cameras though – I’d love to see an SLR running it one day.

If you have any questions you’d like to ask for a future post, feel free to leave them in a comment. 🙂

I’ve Started a Facebook Page

Just a quick note. I’ve just started a Facebook page for my photography and writing in case anyone would like to follow it.

I’ve mainly started it as I tend to get quite a few friend requests from people who have just found my blog and want to see more of my photos. While I’m usually happy to accept, I also get a lot of spam and I thought it would be easier to have an actual page to direct people to instead.

I also only share a fairly small selection of photos on the blog due to time and other content and I thought having an area to share some of my other photos and to tell some of the stories that go with them would be fun.

I’ll be using it to share some of my writing and poetry from time to time too, as well as thoughts on life and politics and things like that.

So it’s really a bit of an extension of this blog, just with more random content.

If you’d be interested in following, you can follow it here or by clicking on the badge below. Will have a new blog post finished later tonight as well. 🙂

The Bridge and Opera House

The Coathanger

Distant memories
Frozen in time
Remind me of
My harbour home

Opera HouseI was going back through some of my archives earlier for another collage and I found these photos from about four years ago. I took them during a trip to Taronga Zoo and didn’t do much with them at the time… I think I gave them a quick edit and then they sat in my archives, mostly forgotten until now.

I’m glad I found them again today and took the time to edit them properly. I like the results – it can be difficult to photograph subjects that are as well known as the Harbour Bridge and Opera House, particularly from a distance, as it can be hard to find new angles and perspectives but I like how the framing is a bit different and how the edits help evoke a more vintage feel.

I was also happy to find the one of the Opera House as despite living in Sydney for so long (twenty five years!), I actually didn’t take that many photos of the Opera House. I took lots of the Harbour Bridge and lots of Centrepoint Tower but only a couple of the Opera House for some weird reason. So I’m glad to have this for my collection.

It was nice going back through the photos as well as I’ve been feeling a little nostalgic for Sydney lately. I’ve settled in well up here but in many ways I think Sydney will always be my home and it was nice revisiting some memories.

Photos © CJ Levinson 2012
Haiqua © CJ Levinson 2016

Sydney Photo Collage

Collage 1

I finished the first of my Sydney photo collages earlier and thought I’d share it after sharing the Newcastle one yesterday.

I like how it came out, particularly the way the photos stand out from each other but also how the repetition of colours and styles gives it a feeling of consistency too.

I was aiming for something slightly different with this collage as the photos were all taken around where I used to live in Randwick and other places I used to visit regularly in Sydney, like Centennial Park and Queen’s Park. In fact the photo above the bottom right is of the Parish Centre at St Jude’s Church in Randwick, which is where I used to live with my parents in the early 1990s when they worked as vergers at the church (pictured on the left).

I chose the photos as I thought they worked well together and that it would be nice to have a reminder of my life in Sydney. It’ll look very nice once it’s printed and hung next to the Newcastle collage on my wall.

Photo © CJ Levinson 2016
Like the photo? Click here to buy it for $5

Newcastle Photo Collage

Collage 2

I’ve been busy moving over the last few weeks. I’ve been thinking about moving for a while and after the break in a few months ago and some other safety issues, I finally decided I’d had enough and needed to get out. So I’ve put most of my possessions in storage for now and I’m staying with my mother in Belmont while I recoup some of the costs and eventually start to look for a place of my own.

I am happy to be out and in a safer area but I guess I have slightly mixed feelings as this is the second time in three years I have had to put everything in to storage and leave home. On the other hand it’s the first time in a long time that I feel like I’m not looking over my shoulder and worrying about ice addicted neighbours which is a big relief. And it’s nice being with mum again and being able to help her and shares costs, etc.

More than anything I think this will be a good opportunity to find some peace and heal. It’s a beautiful area right by the lake and this little cabin already feels more like a home than where I’ve been living did.

So at the moment I’m still settling in and since I packed most of my photos I thought I’d look at printing some new ones to make my room a little more inviting. What I really want is to create a kind of gallery feel so I thought I’d create some collages.

The photo above is the first one I’ve done so far. I compiled it in Photoshop and it’s made up of photos I’ve taken around Newcastle and Lake Macquarie since we left Sydney three years ago. It seemed like a good place to start and I really like how it’s turned out and the contrast between all the photos.

I also plan to do two collages of photos from Sydney and another of photos from New Zealand, which I’ll then print to around poster size. It should create a nice showcase and hopefully be a bit of a talking point too.

I hope you like it. I’ll post the other collages as I do them too.

Photo © CJ Levinson 2015/16
Like the photo? Click here to buy it for $5