Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Milk of Human Kindness

Everybody moans about how people just aren't as giving as they used to be, everybody is in it for themselves, nobody cares about their neighbor anymore. Thankfully, that is simply not true. I have two stories to illustrate that kindness and generosity are still alive in our world today.

Colorado has been called the Napa Vally of Microbrew as our state is home to a great many small craft brewerys. One of my favorites is one of the closest to my house, the Breckenridge Brewery. While the original brewery is located in the town of Breckenridge Colorado, deep in the mountains, they have a secondary facility and bottling plant on Kalimath street here in Denver. I'm a big fan of their brews, but have long lamented the lack of any locally brewed lager, aside from Coors of course. As a beer aficionado, I tip my hat to the Pilsner style beer, but I must bemoan the fact that there are so few small batch versions, really the only one the springs to mind is the Lagunitas Czech Style Pilsner, which is from Petaluma California and which is the gold standard of American craft brewed lagers.

Breckenridge is putting the finished touches on their own Imperial Pilsner, and my father had been lucky enough to try a sample about ten days ago. He had mentioned it to me, and I had expressed a great desire to try their version for myself, but the batch wasn't slated to go online in the tasting room until after I left for Japan this Sunday. With that in mind we entered with hat in hand to ask for a sample on St. Patrick's Day. Dad requested a small sample from the bartender, and she was kind enough to bring a few bottles out, and offer everybody at the bar a taste. In conversation it soon came out that I was leaving. After a quick talk with the head brewery, she said, "don't go anywhere." Soon she was back, with a six pack bearing not only the Pilsner, but a few samples of their new French style ale as well! I had only come hoping for a small taste, and here I was with several bottles of the beer as well as another style too! This was kindness unasked for and unlooked for, which is truly the best kind.

My second story involves Trey Ratcliff, photographer and blogger at I've long been a fan of his work, and his was the site that first introduced me to HDR imaging, which has fascinated me for quite a few years now. Well, as things happen he is hosting a two day workshop in Tokyo a few weeks after I arrive in Japan. The workshop will cover both the shooting of HDR as well as a lot of post processing ideas, and will have two instructors with no more than 15 attendees. Being that Trey is already one of the most famous photographers of the digital age, and that he is only doing two workshops this year, this is honestly the opportunity of a lifetime. However, the cost is high, higher than I expected and higher than I can cover right now, especially considering the costs of setting up a life in a new country.

Once I learned that, I wrote off any chance of attending, but the idea kept gnawing in the back of my head. I know I'm a good photographer, but I'm at a stage where it is getting harder to be self critical, I need a Great photographer to show me my weakpoints and teach me new ways and processing methods to become better. Here was a world class opportunity to learn what I need to and want to learn! So I emailed Trey, and asked if there was anyway I could pay off the workshop over several months time, rather than all at once. Much to my surprise, he e-mailed me back, saying that this had never been done before but that as far as he was concerned that would be fine!

So here I am, with some excellent pre-release beer and the opportunity to shoot Tokyo with one of my personal photographic heros. It just goes to show that despite all the rage that seems to permeate life both domestic and international, sometimes people go out of their way to help another human being, and life is always the better for that!

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