Sea Blue Lens


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Adventures in…Water

I grew up in a desert. As you might guess from the name of my blog, I have a “thing” for water, especially the ocean. When I was a girl, I dreamt of being a mermaid and half-believed it was true. Now that I can choose for myself, I live with water all around me. There’s a river right behind my apartment building, and the Atlantic Ocean is just a ten minute drive away.

So, when “water” came up as a topic in our Adventures in Seeing group, I knew I couldn’t just post one or two photos and feel satisfied. And so I set off to photograph water, on a day that began with rain and ended with fog.

Rainy Morning

Snowmelt

Peaceful Landing

Solitude

Rock, Ocean, Sky

Shore Lines

Then home again, to my river:

Flow

Total Immersion

 

If I did have to choose just one image of the day’s shooting to express the essential humility and grace of water, it would be this, my favorite photo of the day:

This one has no name.

 

 


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Scene & Story: February 2017

My favorite photographs are often the most serendipitous ones, the unexpected subjects that catch my eye and take me by surprise. I took a lot of photos in February, most of them outdoors: landscapes, seascapes, and snowy nature shots. Maybe that’s why this one stood out when I reviewed my photos for this month’s Scene & Story.

LightMagicA Trick of the Light

One morning in early February, I got up at a ridiculous pre-dawn hour to meet a friend for breakfast. (I’m not much of a pre-dawn sort of person, but she’s worth it.) Now, my apartment’s windows all face west. Therefore, I never get morning sun in my home, and it was still dark as I got out of bed and quickly got ready to go.

The sky was brightening by the time I came downstairs, but the living room was still dim and shadowy. Imagine my surprise when I turned toward the door to leave and discovered this beautiful golden light and shadow there. It must be some kind of magic!

In reality, I quickly realized it was just ordinary…what?…physics, I guess. The rising sun was striking the windows of a building across the river, and the angle was just right for the light to reflect into my west-facing windows and shine all the way across the room to illuminate the door on the opposite wall.

But you know what? I’ve never seen it before in the two and a half years I’ve lived here. There are probably only a couple of days a year when everything lines up perfectly, and I just happened to be there at that exact moment. It felt like a gift, and I left the house with a smile on my face and a skip in my step.

Serendipity. That’s magic enough for me.

 * * * * *

Click here to join our Scene & Story link-up at Paisley Rain Boots.

**Scene & Story is a collaborative creation that Sarah Huizenga of Paisley Rain Boots and I dreamt up to encourage one other in our photography and writing. We’d love for you to join us. Just share a favorite photo from the previous month along with a short story or description and link up your blog or Flickr photo. Please remember to visit the other story sharers and leave a little love everywhere you visit. It’s a wonderful way to find and build a community of kindred spirits.


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A Winter Album

Last Tuesday evening, the weather forecaster told us we could expect perhaps an inch of snow overnight. It only took a quick peek out the window Wednesday morning to see he’d been a bit off the mark. The world had been rendered in black and white.

from my window

Six inches of lovely, wet snow fell during the night and continued softly all the next day, settling delicately on every branch and twig. I kept going out to see what new delights I could discover.

picnic is cancelledNo Picnic Today

snowy arcsArcs

bittersweetBittersweet

twigsTwigs

treeTree at the River’s Edge

branchesWeighted

bridge from upstreamSecret

Everyone photographs this covered footbridge from the other side — the street side. But this is my favorite view, hidden away behind my building and challenging to reach.

solitary firSentinel Fir

The little island, Jubilee Park, is locked up and inaccessible during the winter, but I still enjoy looking into it from the sidewalk and taking photographs of the trees, water, and changing weather conditions.

reflectionsWinter Reflection

mallardsResident Mallards

Apparently they missed the memo about flying south for the winter.

lamppostLamp Post

riverUpriver

island ducksIsland’s End

fence-bridgeThe Street Side

stakefenceContrast

snowy branchesBowing Low

hiding placeHiding Place

chainlinksFramed

fence-bridgeZigzag

warming upHome Again

Time to thaw out my fingers with a cup of tea, snuggle under a warm throw, and spend some time with a favorite book. Thanks for coming along to play in the snow with me!

 


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Evening Out Back

Late afternoon. Something about the quality of the light through the window catches my eye and I head outside for a better look.

IMG_0601

The “golden hour” approaches — those last few minutes at the end of the day before the sun goes down. It’s one of my favorite times of day. I don’t need to go far, just down the stairs and around behind my building, to capture the interplay of glowing light on leaves and water.

IMG_0609The low-angled sunlight casts a beautiful sidelight on the trees at the edge of the river.

IMG_0607The mosses and ripples seem lighted from within.

IMG_0615Leaves glow against deep shadows.

IMG_0618Reflections dance quietly on the water.

The sun sets, the light fades and in moments is gone, and another day is done.


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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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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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Blurred Vision

Coming and Going

Coming and Going

Hi — I’m back! I didn’t deliberately set out to take a month-long blogging break, but that’s pretty much what happened. Don’t know why, but I guess I must have needed it.

I can’t say I’ve got any deep thoughts or dramatic breakthroughs to report upon my return. But since my Word for 2013 is Explore, I thought I’d jump in with Kat Sloma’s Exploring With a Camera. Each month, Kat offers up a lesson on an aspect of photography, with clear explanations, how-to’s, and plenty of examples. This month’s exploration was “artistic blur.”

I spend a great deal of effort in trying to get my photos to be as sharp as possible. The concept of trying to blur a photo by moving the camera around during exposure, for example, or by deliberately not focusing before capturing an image is difficult for me to grasp. I tried some experiments for this lesson but, sad to say, they were not successful. However, in looking through my archives I found that I do use other types of blur to create the effect I want in a photo.

Desert Willow

Desert Willow

In this photo, I used a shallow depth of field to hint at the setting of this desert willow, but the blossom is clearly the subject.

Eventide

Eventide

In this case, even though it’s the grass that’s in focus, it leads my eye to the cottage in the background. For me, the cottage in the soft, warm evening light, with its sense of peace and quiet solitude, is the real subject of the photo.

Summer Storm

Summer Storm

I took this photograph because of the blur caused by a brief but intense summer rain pouring down the window.

Window Waves

Ripples in Time

While this image was taken on another rainy day, the blurred distortion of the clapboards is caused not by rain but by the wavy antique glass of the window that I was shooting through.

Ripples In Time

Water World

These are ripples of a different sort. The water in this cove seemed very calm, but the blurred reflection tells another story. This is one of my favorite reflection photos.

Downtown

Downtown

In this image of the Los Angeles skyline taken from the Angeles Crest Highway, the mountains and distant city are blurred by mist and rain.

Slow Water

Slow Water

This blurred water is caused by using a slow shutter speed, a common technique used by landscape photographers to give moving water that milky effect. To be honest, it’s not something I do often, but I was experimenting with it one day and this was the result. To me, milky water looks very unnatural; I prefer to freeze the motion, leaving the water clear. But I did enjoy trying and comparing the effects of different shutter speeds on this occasion, and I’ll experiment more with it in the future.

Spots and Stripes

Spots and Stripes

This effect was achieved by shooting through a flowering shrub. Focusing on the bird beyond caused the foliage to blur into a translucent wash of color. I’d like to say I did this on purpose, but I was quite surprised by the result when I downloaded the images.

Illumination

Illumination

The blur here is caused simply by hand-holding the camera. The interior of this church was very dark so the shutter speed was slow. It’s sharper than I expected to get, but I like the softness of the glowing candles.

Angry Squirrel

Angry Squirrel

Autumn Gold

Autumn Gold

My apartment in Maine backed up to the edge of a river, and I had wonderful views from my windows. I took a lot of photos through those windows, with more or less success. These are two of my favorites. I was shooting through a double paned window and a screen, which gave these images a soft-focus effect that I like.

The Blues

Singin’ the Blues

Car window + Raindrops + Reflected Sky + Wide Open Lens. Once I’d have just thrown this away, but I like it. So with this little abstract, I’ll close my exploration for now and go link up with Exploring With a Camera: Artistic Blur. I think I’ll make it just under the wire.