Sea Blue Lens


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Quietly Looking Back – Be Still Week 49

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.


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A Whole Lotta Catching Up . . . Again

I’m not sure how it is that I get all caught up in my Be Still class homework, then turn around a moment later and find I’m six weeks or so behind again. So here we go — again.

Vignettes

DSC_7862-2Where the Heart Is

Assignment: A vignette with something substantial and tallish, using pieces I love.¬† I do love these particular treasures. The old tin pitcher came from the barn of the house I lived in last winter. It was headed for the dump when I rescued it. The heart rocks I found on the beach, the cardinal’s nest came from a shrub in my daughter’s front yard, and the book (which I’ve wanted forever) was a surprise gift last summer from my lovely friend Becs of Catching Sundust.

DSC_7854Love Nest

Three Things, Part 1

DSC_7886Preserved

Assignment: A chair, a window, and backlight (with or without any additional props). These hydrangeas were a pale cream-to-pink when they were freshly cut. I was amazed when they dried to this gorgeous purple.

DSC_7945Petals

Most of my favorite images from the shoot didn’t actually include the window.

DSC_7917Pure Pleasure

I tried several setups using different objects and even different chairs. The day was overcast, and in this shot the light seems much less directional, even though the window was directly behind the chair.

DSC_7876Bowl of Apples

Same chair as the first, different props, different mood.

Three Things, Part 2

Outtakes-2Outtakes

Same assignment as before, but with sidelight instead of backlight. I had some trouble with this one. Low chair + high window = NO light. Finally I tried raising the chair up by sitting it on a large plastic storage bin.

IMG_6560Nana’s Wren

That worked, and I was really happy with the pretty light shining through the leaves. This little bird was a birthday gift from a dear friend, and is all the more precious to me because it was her grandmother’s. I feel honored to have it entrusted to my care and keeping.

IMG_6568Lady Lavender

This is the plant that grew from the lavender seeds I was given for Christmas a year ago. They were slow to germinate, slow to grow, have never bloomed, and look like no lavender plants I’ve ever seen before. But the leaves themselves have that wonderful lavender scent and I touch them to release the fragrance whenever I walk by.

One of the things I am really enjoying about this still life class is the way each “prop” brings its story back into my mind: memories of where and when I got it, who was with me, what was happening in my life at that time, what has happened since that concerned that object. It’s fun to look at things anew and put them together in ways I hadn’t thought of before.

More to come . . . .