Sea Blue Lens

Quietly Looking Back – Be Still Week 49

18 Comments

When I signed up for Be Still – 52, my life was in a state of chaos and change. I had always admired Kim’s lovely, peaceful still life images and her kind and gentle teaching style. The idea of taking time to sit quietly, breathe, and express a sense of peace and stillness through creating still life photographs was very appealing.

Our year of Be Still – 52 is now drawing towards its close. Life has settled down. I wish I could say that I’d internalized a regular habit of quiet meditation, but that’s not the case. There have been moments during this still-life journey, however, when I’ve gotten caught up in that timeless “flow” state where everything else seems to disappear. I’ve also gained an appreciation of the still-life genre itself, and have created some photographs that I’m very pleased with.

For last week’s prompt, Kim asked us to look back over our almost-a-year of Be Still images and share a few of our “quietest” ones. I discovered that the images that give me the strongest sense of “quietness” were the ones that were the simplest in their subject and composition.

DSC_6110Luminous

This image was created early in the class, and was one of my first attempts of the “top down” point of view. I was also experimenting with shallow depth of field. I love the pattern on the tablecloth created by the sun streaming through the lace curtains on the window.

FinishedFinished

One of my favorite lessons was “Laundry Time.” I’d been gifted with a pile of vintage linens, and though it may sound odd, I found the whole process of painstakingly treating ancient stains, washing and drying the old, embroidered pillowcases and towels, then photographing them to be very calming and meditative. So was post-processing the images. This image is just one of many that I loved from that week.

But not all of my quietest images are light and airy.

DSC_7485White Pitcher

One lesson challenged us to find a still life painting that we liked, and create a still life photograph inspired by it. This was my first still life photographed against a dark background, and I still love it for its simplicity and the way the pitcher seems to glow in the dark.

IMG_5266Autumn Equinox

That white pitcher has become one of my favorite props. Here it is on another occasion, when I was playing with some late afternoon sidelighting. These hydrangeas appeared more than once during the year, too. They are from the same plant as the one in the first photo in this post, just later in the year. I’m still using the dried blossoms in photos.

DSC_8103Breathing Space

This image is from a lesson I really struggled with. I was not feeling peaceful or still at all when I began it, but by the end I’d found my stillness after all. This was my favorite photo from that assignment, and it still reminds me of how good it felt when I finally captured the mood of that quiet place I wanted to be in.

I haven’t published the next two images before. They were made for the assignment called “The ‘Unstaged’ Shoot,” meant to portray a rumpled, “real-life” still life.

DSC_6794In the Morning

This one couldn’t be more unstaged; it’s simply an image of my robe tossed onto the end of my unmade bed. Exactly how I found it, glowing in the soft morning light. It’s one of my favorites, reminding me of how grateful I am for the simple joys in my everyday life.

DSC_6801Reflections

The last one is equally unstaged, though more deliberately thought out. That same unmade bed is reflected in the mirror of the antique, marble-topped dresser that has been dragged from one side of the country to the other more than once in the 40-plus years that it’s been in my possession. Every object in this image reflects something about me, my life, and my personal and photographic style.

I’m a sentimental person, with a longing for a simple life and a nostalgia for times gone by. My own “still life” style is to take them as I find them, rather than deliberately setting out to create them. But through the weeks of Be Still – 52, despite my struggles with some of the prompts, I’ve learned to enjoy that deliberate creation, as well as to appreciate even more the serendipitous ones that catch my eye and my camera’s lens.

18 thoughts on “Quietly Looking Back – Be Still Week 49

  1. oh my goodness… i really love this post my friend…. I feel a calm through your images….
    and also your beautiful words… so open and true. beautiful.

  2. Wow, you are amazing Leon! This post is just beautiful! And I LOVE your images, so soft, and gentle, and those of your robe and mirror reflection are perfect, simply perfect!! Thank you for sharing this! xx

  3. Lovely photos and better even, a lovely reflection – simple wisdom. : )

  4. Love all of the photos. So peaceful .

  5. Such a very lovely and peaceful post! You are so wonderful at finding still life set-ups and creating them and you capture the most beautiful light.

  6. I have been in such awe of what you have created this year with your still lifes. So much of “you”, gathered together in interesting and thoughtful and emotional ways. What a joy it has been to follow along with this journey and to peek inside the quiet joy of your daily life.

  7. Fun to see your progress through the class, enjoyed being in it with you. I love those linens and the beautiful light on the apple and pitcher.

  8. Beautiful photos! I especially love Luminous for all of the reasons you pointed out! I was drawn to your statement, “My own “still life” style is to take them as I find them, rather than deliberately setting out to create them.” ~ which is why I treasure you as a friend ~ you embrace people the same way. I think I realized that as I watched your creative process unfold on each assignment that you were getting to know each object and it’s history as well as it’s relationship to you in the process. I’m going to say this again, my dear, you need to exhibit your work!!

  9. What a beautiful pst this is, Lee, and your photographs here are so special.
    i especially love Autumn Equinox.
    Have a wonderful weekend, my friend. xo.

  10. beautiful photos, I love the simplicity of the first 2 light & airy shots.

  11. In love with the first two images. Wonderfully captured.

  12. these are all so lovely, every one of them. I glad to hear the end of the year was better than the beginning. Keep at your still life. Your really good at it.

  13. So great shots and beautiful pen;
    I admire your work.

    All the best, ❤

  14. You have done so well with this project, and I admire you continued dedication. That unmade bed one with the robe, totally love.

  15. Wow!!! I’m speechless. Wow!!!

  16. What a beautiful collection of still lifes! Each could be in a magazine!

  17. You have such a soft and dreamy touch to your still lives. Such beautiful photos.

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