Sea Blue Lens


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Photo-Heart Connection: May 2014

Two WindowsThread the Light  [249/365]

This month’s Photo-Heart Connection contains a tiny touch of Photo-Heartbreak. And a very large amount of gratitude.

I’ve had the privilege of living in this beautiful, historic home since last November. Now it has been sold, and in a couple of weeks I will be moving to an apartment. I’m looking forward to getting settled there, in what I hope and expect will be my long-term home. I’m tired of moving.

What I had not expected was that I would be so sad to leave this house. It is large, simple, gracious, and elegant. It’s over two hundred years old, with slanted floors, crooked doors, and wavy windows. And the most beautiful light, threading its way into and through every room. It has a warm, welcoming spirit, a “presence” of its own. It’s altogether the loveliest place I’ve ever occupied.

I moved in here knowing it was only temporary. I unpacked everything anyway. Yesterday my friend Susan asked if I was sorry I did that. That’s an easy one: No!¬† I moved in completely, bag and baggage, and apparently heart and soul, too. And I don’t regret it for a minute. Living here fully, not just camping out, has been a wonderful experience, and one I’ll always treasure and be thankful for.

The photo above was taken late one afternoon as the sun shone through an old window onto the rough-sawn boards of the mudroom wall. It will be the perfect reminder of the winter and spring of light (and delight) that I spent in this old house.

The title comes from the chorus of a song I’m very fond of, “Down Low” by The Swell Season, that goes like this:

Thread the light
Thread the light
Shine the light
Don’t hide the light
Live the light
And give the light
Seek the light
And speak the light
Crave the light
And brave the light
Stare the light
And share the light
Show the light
And know the light
Raise the light
And praise the light
Thread the light
And spread the light

I don’t know the meaning of the song (I don’t think it’s religious), but every time I think of this image, the tune and words start running through my head. It feels right, somehow.

Linking with Kat Sloma’s Photo-Heart Connection for May.


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Photo-Heart Connection: October 2013

Kurt_UlysHangin’ Out With My Boys 49/365

This month’s Photo-Heart Connection image chose itself. In the midst of packing and preparing for my imminent move back to the East Coast, I took a few days off and drove up to Santa Cruz to visit my son and grandson. It’s a beautiful area, and I took a lot of photos. It was a good trip.

I loved watching my son and his son interact — he clearly adores that little boy. I took this photo with my iPhone as we were walking to the nearby train station to watch the steam train my boys call Thomas come in. My grandson is dressed proudly in his engineer’s overalls. A fascination with trains, especially old-fashioned steam locomotives, runs deep through several generations of men in the family.

It was hard to walk away from the chaos of getting ready for a cross-country move, to take the time out for that drive north. but I’m so glad I did it. That’s usually the case when I finally do something I’ve spent a lot of energy agonizing over in advance. That’s a lesson I wish I could learn once and for all, so I could stop all the angst beforehand. But that’s not really the Photo-Heart Connection here.

The deep connection is the family connection. Our history and the ties that bind. And the reminder that no matter which coast I live on, a part of my heart is going to be missing the other one, and the loved ones left behind there. Short of cloning myself, there doesn’t seem to be any solution to that dilemma.

And now, back to the packing. It’s almost finished. The next time you hear from me, I’ll be back in Maine.

That’s my PHC for October. You can join in on this monthly linkup yourself at The Kat Eye Studio.


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Photo-Heart Connection: September 2013

DSC_2483-2Edge of the World

It’s funny how often my Photo-Heart Connection image turns out to be one that I took at the very beginning of the month. I just finished the first month of my 365 project, so I took a lot of photographs this month, and there were quite a few that I liked a lot. But when I reviewed the month, this image, taken September 1, was the one that had the most meaning for me.

That’s me sitting there — you probably knew that already — perched on the edge of the driveway, posed in front of the view that I see from my front window every day. It’s beautiful, isn’t it? The layered mountains with their ever-changing light and shadow, the wide-open sky, the rural character of the neighborhood, the horses down below peacefully enjoying their breakfast.

My mind also fills in all the things you can’t see here: the mountains that wrap the rest of the way around us, the birds, the bunnies, even the lizards and snakes and coyotes, oh my! Then there’s the cottage, perfect for my needs, everything I could desire. A charming small community. My sister and brother-in-law, their friends and extended family, all the kindest, most generous people you could imagine.

“Okay, so where’s she going with this?” you may be wondering. I’ve been asking myself that question for months. The answer is, I’m leaving. Moving back to Maine.

It wasn’t an easy decision (understatement of the decade) and I still ask myself sometimes if I’m crazy.

There is so much that is good here, so much that is beautiful, and I’m more grateful than I can say to have been able to explore and share it for the past year and a half. But my deepest heart is longing for rain, for trees, ferns, moss, and most of all, the sea. I fell head over heels in love with Maine the first time I set foot there. It somehow felt like home, like “me,” in a way no other place ever had. For twelve years it was home, and it’s calling me back now.

I had to come here, to try this, to know if it was right for me. I’ve learned a lot. I love this place, and I know I want to come here again — to visit. But I also know I have to go back, to where I’ve learned I need to be. There’s a lot of work to do to make it happen, and a lot of uncertainty at the other end. I’ll be leaving here the first week in November, returning to Maine just in time for winter.

I probably am a little crazy after all.

And that’s my Photo-Heart Connection for September. You can click HERE for this month’s linkup at Kat Eye Studio. Thanks to Kat for hosting this monthly practice and linkup!


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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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Transition

Last Look

It’s official, I’m in transit. Yesterday the movers picked up all my worldly goods, except for my laptop and camera gear, which will be in my carryon luggage. (Who needs clothing, right?) Today I finished cleaning and tidying up last minute details and turned in my apartment keys.

Now I’m at my daughter and son-un-law’s place, and tomorrow I fly to California. It’s calm and lovely here and I can finally relax and rest a bit. It’s hard to remember the last time I was this tired and sore, though I suspect it was the last time I moved.

Jenny’s Lilacs

I am fond of saying that all of Maine is just one small town. It seems like everywhere I go I’m always running into people I know (or who know me, which may not be the same thing at all). One day last week, my daughter said to me, “C. said he saw your picture in the library.”

I asked if he meant one of my photographs, though I couldn’t imagine how or why that could be. No, she said that he said it was a picture of me, not by me.

OK, this I had to see. I mean, I know I spend a lot of time at the library, but I didn’t expect to be memorialized on the wall. So I went over to see for myself. Here’s what I found:

Oh, now I understand.

And yes, here I am:

But that’s not what I was doing!

Of course, I had to take a photo of the photo someone took of me taking a photo!

The backstory is that C. and I had gone on a nature hike at a local park a couple of years ago, sponsored by Saco Bay Trails, a local group that promotes public access to recreational hiking trails. I was fascinated at finding two or three gravestones all alone in the woods, just a little way off the trail, and naturally stopped to take a few photographs. I never noticed someone else photographing me!

Ah, Maine, I love you. I’m going to miss you!


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Out to Pasture

Golden Hour

I’ve hinted around a bit that there are going to be some changes in my life. I will be retiring at the end of April, and a month after that, I will be moving from Southern Maine to Southern California. I am anticipating my retirement with unadulterated delight. I’ve always been one who has worked to live, not the other way around. To have the time to pursue all of my many interests, including photography, is my idea of bliss.

The moving part of this scenario is a bit more complicated. I’m excited about the new prospect in front of me, but at the same time, I’m leaving behind much that is precious. It will be wrenching to move so far away from friends and family that I love dearly, and from this beautiful, unique place that has felt like home since the first time I saw it.

This is not the first time I have uprooted myself and moved far from the known and familiar. I am a native Californian and grew up in the West, so in a way this is a return to my roots. I will be moving close to others who are dear to me, and I’ll make new friends; I always do. (That doesn’t make parting from the old ones any easier, though.)

I’m moving from a small town here to a small town there, and I’m looking forward to exploring that community, getting to know people, and finding ways to get involved. And, of course, finding new subjects to photograph.

My new home will be very different. Instead of a river flowing past my windows, I will be gazing at this:

New Morning

Instead of seagulls and mallards, there’ll be hawks and quail.

Callipepla californica

Instead of buying eggs at the health food store across from my office, I’ll be collecting them myself from the hens that laid them.

The Girls

Instead of a rented apartment, I will be living in my own little cottage next door to my sister and her husband. It has a patio, and a garden, and an apple tree right outside my bedroom window.

Green Delicious

And a fireplace. A real fireplace! The whole cottage has been freshly painted in my choice of paint, and is just sitting there waiting for me to come and make it home.

I will miss my ocean sunrises. But I’ll have mountain sunsets to look forward to. And stars like I haven’t seen since I was a child.

And the Sun Sank Slowly . . . .

And there will still be an ocean. It will be farther away — an hour and a half instead of fifteen minutes — but close enough so I can visit when I’m feeling parched for the sight and sound of my beloved sea.

Atlantic Morning

Pacific Afternoon

The “Sea” in my name will be a different one, but I will still be me, and I’ll still be here.

Adventure awaits!