Sea Blue Lens


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Lilac Love

IMG_0718

For Walk and Click Wednesday this week, my sister and I paid a visit to Kilcoyne Lilac Farm right here in Acton. Imagine six acres of blooming lilacs, surrounded by beautiful mountains under a wide blue sky. Imagine 73 perfect degrees and a gentle spring breeze. Imagine inhaling the fragrance of lilacs until you think your lungs will burst. Come along as we park beside the road and walk in.

IMG_0691Traffic Alert

This sign greets visitors entering the driveway.

IMG_0692Home Sweet Nest

As we arrived, I saw a small bird fly out of this nest tucked under a porch roof.

IMG_0717Almost Too Much

The sight and scent of so many lilacs was almost overwhelming . . . but in the most delightful way.

IMG_0698I’m In Love

IMG_0697Mountain View

There were lilacs of every conceivable color.

IMG_0706Baby Blue

IMG_0702Pure White

IMG_0694Deep Purple

IMG_0719Palest Lavender

I’ve never seen lilacs like this one before. I love these frothy, curly petals.

IMG_0711Neigh-bor

This old boy seemed to be enjoying his leisure just beyond the lilacs.

IMG_0716Reluctance

All good things must come to an end. Senses filled to overflowing, we headed back toward the exit. But not without stopping by the shed to buy a bouquet to take home, to savor the scent of this day a while longer.

DSC_0614Keepsake

What a memorable walk this was, and what a wonderful discovery! In all the years I lived in Nevada and California, I only knew of lilacs from having read about them. When I moved to the eastern US in the mid-1990’s, I fell in love with them at first sight — and smell. I’d never have guessed they could grow in the high desert of Southern California. I’m happy to know that I can experience their heady joy here and now, and in every spring to come.

PS – All these images, except for the last one, were taken with my iPhone. When my sister and I left the house, we intended to grab some lunch and go shopping, so I didn’t take my camera. Stopping to smell the lilacs was a spur-of-the-moment impulse. We never did get to the stores, and we weren’t sorry at all.

Linking with Walk and Click Wednesdays, with many thanks to Lissa for hosting. I look forward to it more each week. Come on over and join the fun!


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Breaking Through

The next lesson in my Journey of Fascination is called Creative Breakthroughs. My first reaction was, “I don’t think I’ve ever had one.” I believe that my photography has improved over the years, but it seems to me that it has been a gradual process, rather than anything as dramatic as a “breakthrough” — especially a creative one. There has never been anything that has propelled me in a totally different direction with my photography.

But then I started thinking about it and a few things did come to mind.

One I recalled was my move to Maine. A new environment stimulates new output, and what a gorgeous new environment it was. I felt lit up as I attempted to capture the fresh things I saw around me. Soon after that, I got my first digital camera. Suddenly I could take all the pictures I wanted, at no cost, and just delete any that didn’t turn out. Also, it was a very small camera and I began carrying it with me everywhere. I’m in another new environment now, and again am excited about exploring its photographic possibilities.

First photo with Canon Digital Elph

First photo with Canon Digital Elph (SOOC)

Another was signing up for my first Find Your Eye course. I learned a great deal from the lessons. But that wasn’t the real breakthrough. In order to keep the photo journal that was required for the class, I started this blog. I connected with fellow FYE-ers and even random strangers, and for the first time ever, began to put my work (and myself) out into the world. Literally the WORLD. Making those connections, getting feedback and encouragement about my work, and seeing the work of others has inspired my photography and my life. I want to photograph more, and better, and to release it into the wild.

First photo published on blog

First photo published on blog

One of my happiest creative breakthroughs came with the discovery that giving up seriousness and expectations of perfection can actually improve my photography. I’ve mentioned it a couple of times before — that time when I forgot to make sure my camera was in the bag before meeting a friend for a photoshoot. I didn’t even have my small backup camera with me. So I pulled out my iPhone and started taking photos with it. I didn’t expect to get anything good out of it, but hey, I was there, so why not just have some fun? In spite of its limitations, or maybe because of them, I had a blast and got some of my favorite photos ever.

First photo from (accidental) iPhone photo walk

First photo from (accidental) iPhone photo walk

Recently I had another breakthrough when I took a couple of classes from Kim Klassen on post-processing with Photoshop Elements and Lightroom. I’d been using Photoshop for years, stumbling along with it on my own. Just a couple of lessons with Kim and I learned things that amazed me. I don’t know if it was a breakthrough in creativity, but it sure revolutionized my processing.

Fun with Photoshop

First Photoshop assignment: Learning layers at long last

My latest breakthrough actually happened as I was working on our lesson on Contrasts. I did my photo walk and downloaded the images to my computer. I was so mad! They were not sharp, despite being taken in bright sunlight at very fast shutter speeds. Every single one was just soft, even though my camera is supposed to have one of the best picture qualities out there. I was totally fed up. So I started researching, looking through manuals and online forums, and guess what? I discovered I wasn’t the only one with that problem, and there are camera settings to fix it. So I tried variations on those settings, taking test photos, downloading and comparing them, and then I went out and redid my photoshoot. Now I’m getting the nice sharp images I’ve been looking for all along. A breakthrough in creativity? I don’t know if that will be the result, but now I’m a lot more eager to get out there and see what I can make the little beastie do!

It may not be Art, but at least it's not fuzzy.

First photo, second time around. It may not be Art, but at least it’s not fuzzy.

So I have had and I hope will continue to have breakthroughs. Are they Creative Breakthroughs? I guess only time will tell. But one thing Kat said really rang a bell with me: When I go out and try to force it, it doesn’t happen so much.

Here’s to letting it happen. And maybe just encouraging it a little bit!

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Up a Creek

With a Paddle

So, say you plan to meet a friend after work for a photoshoot. It’s kinda last-minute, so you dash home at 5:00, quickly change clothes, grab your camera bag, toss it into the car and head out. You get to the appointed spot, open your bag, and . . . .

There’s no camera in there, just a lens and some accessories.

What would you do? More to the point, what did I do? Well, after saying a couple of things to myself that I won’t repeat here, I decided I wasn’t going to let it ruin my day. It was another crazy-warm-for-March, beautiful day, and the evening light was gorgeous. It would be great just to be out in the fresh air, enjoying the scenery and the company of my friend. Besides, we were going for pizza afterwards. Life was still good, though I did feel a little silly.

And then I remember I’ve got my iPhone with me — I can take some photos with that! My iPhone is still fairly new to me, and I haven’t used the camera much. So my expectations aren’t very high, but I figure, what have I got to lose? So I wander around, snapping this and that, trying to frame subjects on the viewscreen. In that light, the surface is like a mirror and I’m mostly seeing my own reflection. Still feeling a little silly, but having fun.

Maybe it was because I didn’t expect much. Or because I wasn’t taking myself or my photography very seriously. I wasn’t trying very hard. But to my great surprise, I got a bunch of images that I really like. Here are a few of them.

Dock

All Tied Up

Loner

Seawall

Gossip

Inner Light

Outer Glow

Molten Sky

At Rest

These images were taken with the iPhone camera, no apps involved. Some were lightly processed in Lightroom, but many are SOOC — or should I say SOOP (Straight Out Of Phone)? I was impressed with their color and clarity.

May I just say that I love my iPhone? I’m really glad I gave it a try that evening. It turned out to be a great night. (And the pizza was delicious.)

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