Sea Blue Lens


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Be Still Weeks 38 and 39: Dark vs. Light

I have two Be Still lessons to post today. The first, from last week’s assignment, is a still life with organic elements, photographed with side light. Kim’s examples for this lesson were dark and moody, so I headed in that direction, too. I used one basic setup for these, varying the cropping but mostly just experimenting with some Lightroom presets in post processing.

IMG_8582
Processed with Kim Klassen’s kk_organic, with decreased clarity and slightly increased saturation.

I bought this hand-painted bowl on a trip to the Grand Canyon about 20 years ago from a Native American man sitting on a blanket at the side of the road, selling pottery that he told me he made himself. It is stained with smoke inside and out and looks like it was fired in a campfire! It reminds me of my roots in the Southwest, as well as of that rather magical trip.

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Processed with David duChemin’s Toxic Warmth preset.

The little lizard crawling out of the bowl is one of those little critters that are meant to be hung on the rim of a flowerpot. I don’t remember where I got him, but I do remember that I bought him just because he looked so much like the lizard painted inside the bowl. It amuses me to think they might be related.

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Processed with kk_moody-ish
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I found the nest when I was living in California a couple of years ago. The egg, which is broken open on the side you can’t see, I picked up here in Maine. I have no idea what kind of bird made either one. The stick and cluster of cones came from two unrelated trees in my daughter’s yard.

This week’s lesson is just the opposite: glass, light, bright, white, airy. For this one I tried several different arrangements.

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Sea Glass

Vintage mason jars filled with sea glass, old linen napkin, backlit through lace curtains. Processed with kk_slightlight with clarity reduced quite a bit because I wanted that glow-y look.

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Sea Girl

I’m afraid I can’t begin to tell you how I processed this one. I tried so many variations, including starting over several times,¬† that I completely lost track. I’m not thrilled with it, but it’s a whole lot better than what I started out with!

IMG_8623small
Home Comforts I

This is as it came out of the camera, plus Kim’s kk_touchof-1 texture. I like the soft, natural look of this one.

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Home Comforts II

Here it is with with the same texture, processed with Kim’s kk_slightlight preset. It’s more dramatic and I like it, too. It’s so hard to make decisions about these things.

And that’s me caught up again and looking forward to the weekend! I hope you all have a good one.


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A Natural Spark

This week’s still life exercise was a continuation of last week’s, another “spark” from that same catalog spread. Assignment: to create a vignette and hang or attach pompoms or bunting or something to the background. Well, I’m in full rebellion mode now. I don’t have any bunting, I’m not interested in pompoms, and besides, I draped a necklace over a flowerpot last week. Doesn’t that count?

Just kidding. Sort of.

Anyway . . . .

I collected a few goodies from my bookshelves and carried them up to the spare bedroom my Studio, where I arranged them on my little antique maple writing desk.

DSC_8714What This Country Needs

DSC_8712 Chickadee and Field Guides

DSC_8725Goldfinch & Grapevine

DSC_8729First Draft

Then I started playing with the pieces, trying different setups. After a few tries, I decided the Goldfinch was too much. That bright spot of color didn’t seem to fit with all the other muted tones, so I eliminated him from my next compositions. (Processed with Kim Klassen’s Lightroom preset kk_summersun)

DSC_8719Revision I

I tried a dark background, and I did find something to hang up that made sense to me.
(Processed with kk_darklight preset)

DSC_8722Revision II

With light background (the bare wall) and kk_truegrit preset.

DSC_8709-2Final Version 

(kk_darklight with some adjustments of my own)

If I had to turn in homework, this would be the one. As I look at it now, I can see things I’d like to change up a bit — maybe the placement of that little hanging ornament, for one — but overall I’m pleased with the way it turned out. And I enjoyed spending some time “in nature” even though it was again too cold (minus 15, brrrr) to go outside.


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A Tiny Spark

Well, we got another 13 inches of snow over Saturday and Sunday. It’s a good thing I have Be Still – 52 to keep me busy indoors! This week we had a spread from a catalog to draw a spark of inspiration from, with instructions to do basically whatever we wanted. “No rules.”

I like rules. I like guidelines. I like instructions to follow. The inspirational image wasn’t very, either, as far as I was concerned. The largest photo in the catalog layout was a springlike outdoor scene — a model in a lightweight white dress, sitting casually on a wooden chair on what looked like an outdoor patio, with a lovely textured plastered wall behind her, framed with blooming vines. Have I shown you what it’s been like around here lately? Here’s the view from my living room window:

DSC_8499Fairyland – but even the fairies are getting tired of it

DSC_8508Mush!

IMG_7225 Maintenance Parting the Snowbank

Well, you get the drift (pun definitely intended). There won’t be any springlike outdoor photo shoots around here any time soon. So I tried setting up something in the spare bedroom that I call my studio, trying to capture that outdoor patio feeling. It didn’t go well.

DSC_8640Trouble Underfoot

Ugh, that carpet. It was newly installed when I moved in here, but it’s landlord-standard, industrial grade brown and beige tweed, and it’s wall-to-wall in every room except the kitchen and bath (neither of which have a window). I tried various textures and Lightroom presets, but there was no getting around that ugly carpet.

I remembered that one of the smaller photos on that catalog page showed a jewelry display, so I decided to work with that idea. I picked out a few pieces that, to me, had a bit of the flavor of our jumping off point, and moved in close, avoiding the whole background problem.

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I kept the white cotton skirt and the potted plant, and used the patio chair as my support. The stone necklace and silver bracelets are pieces I’ve had for years, and each carries its own memories.

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Of course if I were doing a real jewelry layout for a catalog, I’d need to either arrange all the pieces in the same plane, or use a depth of field that would keep them all sharp. But since this is my own “artistic” still life, and there are no rules, I can do whatever I please. I enjoyed bringing attention to the pieces individually while letting the others play a supporting role.


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Contemplating Breakfast

Ah, breakfast. The most important meal of the day, or so I’ve been told. I can remember Mom urging me to go have some breakfast, as she sat at the dining table having hers (black coffee and a cigarette) while reading the newspaper. Somehow I just was not convinced.

I’m still not a much of a breakfast person, although I will happily eat it if someone else cooks it and puts it in front of me. And I love going out for breakfast with a friend. Nevertheless, our subject this week for Be Still was “breakfast,” so I have done my best to come up with something.

Thinking about breakfast:

IMG_7276Wake Up Call

What I could have for breakfast:

IMG_7267Good Nutrition

What I usually have for breakfast:

DSC_8582Mini-Maker

DSC_8592Kuppa

What I actually had for breakfast today:

DSC_8604Breakfast of . . .

DSC_8607Yum!

Yes, that’s exactly what it looks like. Coffee (with real cream) and a piece of chocolate cake which I made from scratch yesterday because while the snow was falling for the third straight day of the fourth storm in two weeks. It has walnuts in it — that’s healthy, right?

Well, you’ve got to admit it’s better than a cigarette.


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A Spoonful of . . .

Another Be Still assignment: Spoons.

Feeling uninspired. I seem to start off that way a lot, don’t I?

I don’t have a collection of unusual, old, or especially pretty spoons. Since my goal is to create my still lifes for the class without buying a lot of special props, I’ll just have to make do with my everyday ones. Actually, I love their simple design and that they can be put into the dishwasher without concern. They suit me to a — ahem, to a tea. (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.)

IMG_0379Keep Calm and Think Spring

Well, I like it, but it isn’t very exciting.

Just for fun, I processed the image with an app called Brushstroke.

IMG_0378A Spring Break

Okay, that makes me happier. I’m still not fully satisfied, though.

A few days later, I thought I’d have another go, something completely different:

DSC_8555Generations

There are five generations of my family represented in this image. The little spoon is the one my babies learned to feed themselves with. (I still use it every day for sugar or jam.) The pink book is my own baby book, and the little china cup was my mom’s when she was a little girl. The Dresden Plate quilt was my grandma’s and was made by her mother, a great-grandmother I never knew. Grandma loved that quilt and used it on her bed til the end of her life. It’s been washed so many times that much of its pattern is in complete tatters.

I remembered too late that I was supposed to put something IN the spoons. Well . . . the first one holds a moment of stillness, time for a break in a busy day and a change of pace from the black and white world outside my windows. And the second? What this spoon is full of is memories . . . and love.


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When Life Gives You Lemons

Our theme for this week’s Be Still lesson was citrus with a side of story-telling and some height. The “story” was pretty easy — I had an idea right away. The hardest part was acquiring one special prop needed; that required two trips to the store because they didn’t have what I wanted the first time.

I did this shoot during our last snowstorm, which I spent at my daughter’s house. I packed up a basket of props to take with me, but I didn’t have anything available to add much height variation to my setup.

These are the two images I liked best:

DSC_8223If Life Gives You Lemons . . .

DSC_8239-2. . . Eat Pie!


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In the Background

I hope you can stand one more Be Still – 52 lesson in a row. This one will bring me up to date with my class.

This assignment was to photograph a still life with different backgrounds. I tried to use my tripod as Kim suggested, so that every photo would be the same except for the background, but found that didn’t work very well for me. In this apartment, it’s more about bringing the still life to the background than vice versa. But I kept my subject very simple and tried to frame the images as identically as possible.

DSC_8158Antique desk against ‘landlord-neutral’ painted wall

DSC_8159-2Black foam core leaning against wall (processed with Kim’s ‘moodswing’ LR preset)

DSC_8166-2Setup moved in front of window — lace curtain background

DSC_8169-2Subject moved to dining table — linen curtain background

After downloading and processing these, I felt like there must be something more I could do. I knew I had other things that would make nice backgrounds, if I could only figure out how to actually get them to go (and stay) behind my still life. So I went back upstairs and recreated my original setup with the little desk in front of the wall. Then I tried wrapping and draping fabric over the piece of foam core.

DSC_8175-2Foam core with tablecloth drape (with Kim’s ‘darklight’ preset)

DSC_8182Lace curtain added

DSC_8189Black foam core with lace curtain drape (with Kim’s ‘litely’ preset)

Thanks to this assignment, I’ve realized I have more background options than I thought I did. It’s funny how the less I expect to get from any particular lesson, the more I seem to learn from it.

And now I’m caught up at last. Bring on the next challenge, Kim!