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.

IMG_8580
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.

IMG_8583
Processed with kk_moody-ish
.

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 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 . . . .


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Photo-Heart Connection: August 2013

IMG_1039 NestNest

This is one of the images from my every-day-in-August series that I wrote about in my last post. Towards the end of the month, it occurred to me that most of my photos so far had been taken outside, so I looked around the living room for potential subjects. I’m not much for setting up still lifes, so I wanted a subject I could shoot as-is, in available light.

Aha! The bookcase. My little bird’s nest under glass. Last year, when I discovered this little domed glass dish with a perky little bird perched on top, I just had to buy it. Inside it I keep a little nest that I found on a walk during my first visit here four years ago. It’s woven from grass and pine needles and tiny twigs, and lined with something coarse and fuzzy like raw wool. The eggs in the nest are from my sister’s cockatiel, who tries to make babies a couple of times a year even though she has no mate.

The resulting photo made me happy the moment I saw it. What surprised me about this picture is how real and three-dimensional the background appears. The rock and ferns are actually one of my own photographs, printed on canvas, which leans against the back of the bookcase. The light in that print seems to be coming from the same direction as the light from the window reflected on the glass, melding the two separate elements into a whole that enhances both of them.

This photograph combines a bit of my life in Maine (the photo on canvas) with my life here in California (the glass dome and nest), illustrating and expressing my love of nature, birds, and, of course, photography. It has enabled me to see a little collection of familiar odds and ends in a new way that makes me appreciate them even more. It reminds me to savor the small, simple things that bring me joy and connect my heart to the everyday world around me.

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


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Sunday Again?

Wait, wasn’t it just Sunday a day or two ago? How can a week go so fast? It’s time for another Scavenger Hunt Sunday. This week’s words are Vacation, Food(s), Sound, Texture, and Anything.

Vacation:

Attitash streamCool Water

This week marked the one-year anniversary of my retirement and move from East coast to West. When you’re retired, every day feels pretty much like vacation, at least to me it does. The last actual vacation I took was almost two years ago, a week spent with my daughter and her “El Boyfriendo” in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. I went to my archives for this photo of green leaves and flowing water from that trip. Looking at those photos again brought back some great memories.

Food(s):

root beer floatFirst One

It’s Memorial Day Weekend and therefore the start of summer, no matter what the calendar might say. I marked the occasion with a root beer float, one of my favorite summer foods.

Sound:

Tree cuttingSad Day

Friday morning the sound of birdsong was drowned out by chain saws. Our big eucalyptus, which has served as a prop in many of my photos over the past year, died last summer and needed to be taken down. It’s left an enormous hole in our view . . . and in my heart.

Texture:

nestHome Sweet Nest

High up in that tree was this wonderful Western Kingbird nest, which the men carefully removed and saved for me. I had first spotted it about a month ago, my eye drawn to it by all those colors. Fortunately, the nest was empty, the babies flown. If you click for a larger image, you can see the variety of materials it’s made of. There’s a foundation of twigs, of course, plus twine, plastic netting, yarn, string, horsehair, some of MY hair (trust me, it’s distinctive), bits of what looks like dryer sheet, polyester fiberfill, plant fluff, a Hershey’s Kiss pull thingy, and my favorite, a jaunty little chicken feather. See it? Sticking up in the upper right?

Anything:

Roadrunner CrossingLaw-Abiding

Do you think he can read? This was one of those occasions when I got caught with the wrong lens on my camera, so I had to crop quite a bit. He actually has a lizard in his beak. I love the little lizards, too, but around here almost everything is food for something else. It’s just the way it is.

If you’re having a long holiday weekend, I hope it’s a good one! If you’ve got some time, come on over and check out the Scavenger Hunt Sunday linkup.