Sea Blue Lens

Still-life in Motion – Week 51


This week’s Be Still – 52 lesson was about creating a sense of movement in a still life — in other words, how to keep the viewer’s eye moving around within the photograph.

I’ve recently been inspired by Kim’s “Table and Chair” series to begin a similar series of my own featuring my antique maple writing desk and very old, mended Windsor chair. For this still life setup I added an armful of lilacs cut from the hedge at my daughter’s place and an assortment of treasures from that wonderful old house.


 My starting point, illuminated by late afternoon sunlight from my southwest facing window.  It’s a good thing I wasn’t really trying to concentrate on reading or writing. The scent of those lilacs was more than a little distracting. It was all I could do to keep my mind on my camera.


This little book is titled, in full, The Ladies’ and Gentlemens’ Letter-Writer, and Guide to Polite Behavior, Containing Also, Moral and Instructive Aphorisms, for Daily Use. It was published in Boston and does not have a copyright date, but the sample letters printed within it all bear the date of 1859, leading me to think it must have been published in or near that year. It is smaller than you might think from the photos, only 3-1/2 by 5-3/8 inches by about 1/2 inch thick, but packed full of oh-so-useful advice.

DSC_9360-2Guide to Politeness

The section the book is open to reads “Rules for Polite Behavior for Ladies and Gentlemen, with Instructions for Dress. Also, Brief Rules for Daily Use.” There follows a long essay on “American Etiquette” which covers clothing, personal grooming, table manners, conversation, etc. The “Brief Rules” include such advice as “Avoid egotism” and “Avoid rude expressions.” It’s quaint and utterly fascinating. All I can conclude is that society in the mid-nineteenth century was much more polite than today’s is. But oh, so many rules! While I’d love to see more civility in civilization, I don’t think I’d want to be as regimented as the culture of that day was.


 Kim’s Shadows preset really made magic happen with this one.

DSC_9372-2Resting My Eyes

It’s interesting how some presets just seem made for certain images. I’ve tried Kim’s kk_BeStill preset on quite a few photos before, but didn’t care for it. When I applied it to this one it just popped — it was exactly what I wanted before I even knew I wanted it!


Still one of my favorite presets — kk_Moody-ish. I liked this image but it felt a little flat straight from the camera. Now I love it!

My own eye finds movement in these images. I’ll be interested to see if yours does, too.

14 thoughts on “Still-life in Motion – Week 51

  1. These are beautiful … I do like modern lines in some things, but these images seem so warm, comfortable and friendly. The lighting is perfect. I would love to have a place like this…

  2. I’m usually drawn to the close views, but I really like the first one. You’ve created such a peaceful corner and, oh, those lilacs are gorgeous! Love the old book. It would be fascinating to read! These are all so well composed to allow the eye to roam right through the image! Now to the last image…stunning, simply stunning!

  3. Oh my those lilacs are gorgeous, I love each and every one of these. Agree with everything Cathy said and goodness I so love that last one so much. Guess it is because I love to see detail in photography and this is a stunner.

  4. I would say, “Success!” My eye moved perfectly around them. Your photos are awesome! Was the BeStill preset in one of our lessons? I haven’t come across it yet. (And I did buy the ‘whole’ package)

  5. Your photos are beautiful! I like the old books and of course the lilacs. Such a nice and pleasing setting. Are these the glasses you use? They are lovely!

  6. What an amazing series! I like how it moves from the wide-angle to the up-close. That last image is most definitely a favorite of your still lifes. The dark moody setting but featuring exquisite light. The subtle reflections. The way these few elements tells a story. Simply stunning – I love it!

  7. oh my goodness what a beautiful series of photos. such beautiful antique pieces. love how your compositions draw me right into the frame.

  8. So lovely. Mallory is looking for a writing desk like that for her future apartment/home. Thankfully we have some time to look for something. Yours is beautiful. Awesome series idea!

  9. Stunning desk shot. Love coming for a visit.

  10. Wonderful progression of photos from the wide view of that delightful room to the close up of a single lilac flower. Love them all!

  11. They are all lovely images, but my favourite is Shadow. It plays with light and the feeling of time gone by in a subtle way. Very nice.

  12. I love the lilacs! Your books are so gorgeous too, lovely fell to all of the photos.

  13. A beautiful series I particularly love the close ups so full of feeling..

  14. Seeing this blog post is like stepping back in time…I adore your first shot of the desk with the lilacs. I have a special place for these flowers and miss them so much in my new home. Ah, the fragrance! The Guide to Politeness is a wonderful shot and story to go with it. Life was so different back then, wasn’t it? I agree we need more civility, but not so many rules.

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