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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Adventures in…Intuition

I went out this afternoon to try to complete this week’s challenge from Kim Manley Ort’s Adventures in Seeing book. To be honest, I’m not sure if I “got it” or not. The purpose was to exercise our intuition, and Kim suggested listening to our body’s leading rather than consciously deciding where to walk or what to photograph. The idea was to allow ourselves to feel something physical, a vibration or resonance, that would give us direction.

I think of most of my photography as “intuitive.” I seldom go somewhere specific with preconceived ideas about what I want to photograph. I go someplace, I see something that catches my eye and causes a quick intake of breath, I “work” the subject and make photos of it. But I can’t say I’ve ever felt the sort of physical sensation that I understood Kim to be talking about. Maybe I was trying too hard to make rational sense of something that’s not based on logic.

Anyway, I bundled up and went outside and stood on the sidewalk, waiting for “something” to suggest a direction. All I heard my body saying to me was, “Are you crazy? It’s cold out here! Let’s go back inside.” I ignored that and arbitrarily turned right and headed for the Riverwalk, mostly because I hadn’t been that way in a while.

graffiti wall

Past Main Street and the railroad overpass, I veered off the sidewalk to check out this little “park” area. There was no one else there — I wouldn’t have gone in if there had been, because the place kind of gives me the creeps. There used to be some rather artistic graffiti on that wall, but someone (probably the city) painted over it, and now it’s just a lot of (to my eyes) ugly scribbling. This is certainly not the kind of image that makes me feel good. I don’t think this is where my intuition was leading me.

Oak

I saw leaves, an unexpected sight this deep into winter. A tall oak tree still held nearly all its leaves, though they were quite dead. I suppose the new growth in the spring will push the old leaves off.

leaves

These are oak leaves, too. The sun was playing peekaboo with the clouds, making the leaves flash like a neon sign as shadows came and went.

solitary leaf

One had broken away from the crowd to lie in yesterday’s inch of new snow.

tracks

dsc_1268

There was much evidence of other, smaller creatures out following their bodies’ instincts. I’ll bet they don’t question where they are going and what they are doing.

through trees

Okay, that’s a pretty nice view. Let’s keep going just a little farther.

No Swimming

I never notice this sign except in winter, when it always makes me laugh and say out loud, No kidding! But I suppose it serves a useful purpose in the summertime, when there’s a boat ramp there.

“Fine. Can we go home now?” my body wants to know. “The wind is picking up and I’m cold.”

No, not just yet. I want to walk up to the birches, then we’ll go home.

birches

So delicate, the tracery against the sky. Who would have expected this? When I left my apartment it was mostly overcast with dark grey clouds piling up on the western horizon.

through the trees

Oh yes, this is what I wanted. Maybe I could go just a little bit farther up the trail…. Okay, wait, my body is definitely talking to me now.

“You said, to the birches. These are the birches. You can’t even feel your fingers anymore. Go. Home. Now.”

And so I turned back, still not knowing if I did it “right,” but happy with my outing anyway. One look back:

dsc_1258

It is enough.


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Soul Food

Like everyone else I know, I’ve been grieving the results of Tuesday’s election. This post will have nothing to say about that, because I have nothing to say that hasn’t already been expressed by others…many others. This post is about what I did yesterday afternoon to distract and soothe myself.

I picked up my camera and I went for a walk.

fallen leafFallen Leaf

I followed the Saco Riverwalk, which begins just a few blocks from my apartment. To get there, I had to pass the covered bridge to the little park next door, where I paused to take the photo above.

fernNext I found this delicate fern growing out of a crack in the wall of a railroad overpass.

pathWhen I got to the river walk, the path was so leaf-strewn that it was barely visible. It’s narrow and slopes steeply down to the river’s edge, so I kept my eyes on where I was placing my feet.

daisy-boulderI came across a few wildflowers still blooming. This large, round boulder is a puzzle — it looks completely out of place atop the angular granite riverbank. I wondered how it got here.

rose hipsRosa Multiflora is a terribly invasive plant, and there’s a lot of it in this area. But it is beautiful! It’s covered in tiny white flowers in the summer and masses of small red hips in the fall and winter. I’ve read that they are edible, but I’ve never tried it.

twigsMany trees have already shed their leaves. You’d think those ones at the very tips of the branches would have been the first to go, but they are hanging on tenaciously.

benchA favorite resting place. I love this view to the neighboring town across the river.

birchesThis clump of birches is one of my favorite places to take selfies. Yes, I did get my phone out of my pocket and snapped a few. Not very successfully, though – it’s a windy spot, and I couldn’t keep my hair out of my face!

bare birchesAnd here are the tops of those birches. This makes me think of spatter painting.

oak leavesThere’s not much red left, so I was especially pleased to spot these oak leaves.

dsc_0989The river widens into a little bay here and the path curves left to follow it around.

bittersweetWith apologies to my friends who have to pay florists exorbitant prices for a bit of bittersweet — this stuff is everywhere.

wall of goldAnd here the trail swings back to the right…

power easement…to follow this power line easement.

chickadeeI don’t know what those tall, auburn-colored plants alongside the trail are, but they were filled with the rustling and twittering of small birds. I saw many chickadees, busy doing whatever chickadees do in the fall, calling out their cheery little “chickadee-dee-dee.” (This image is greatly cropped, since I didn’t have my tele lens with me.)

leaf carpetAt the top of the hill, more trees and so many leaves! I sat down in the middle of these for a while, just inhaling their delicious spicy scent. The river walk has turned away from the river now, and is circling back toward town.

yellow leavesFrom here, there’s just a glimpse of the water. The tide was out so the water level was very low. (The Saco River rises and falls with the ocean tides all the way to the center of town.)

red leafOne more surprise: a single scarlet leaf on a bright golden maple tree.

trail's endAnd that brings us to the trail’s end. Those steps on the left lead up to a small parking area, where I begin my zigzag path along the neighborhood streets and sidewalks toward home.

On the way home, I looked up and saw this:

crisscross cloudsCrisscross Clouds

And an hour or so later, the day’s final gift:

sunset viewFrom My Window

I needed that, so very much. I hope it has lifted you up a little bit, too.


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Scene & Story, Chapter 1: September 2016

Scene & Story is a new project my friend Sarah (Paisley Rain Boots) and I dreamed up last week, in hopes of stimulating our photography and writing. She wrote about our idea and how it came about in this post. Basically, it’s the practice of reviewing our previous month’s photographs, choosing one that speaks strongly to us, and writing a blog post about it. It’s reminiscent of the old Photo-Heart Connection linkup that we both loved and miss.

The photograph I chose from September is not my favorite image, nor even the one that calls most directly to my heart and soul. That would have been the woman on the foggy beach from my last post. Since I didn’t want to use that one again, I turned to runner-up number one, a photo that speaks to me for both positive and negative reasons.

dsc_0504-2Serenity

I love the colors, the reflections, that hazy moon, the tranquility of the scene and the moment. The best thing about my apartment is that it backs onto a river. All I have to do is go out the door, down the stairs, and walk a few steps to see the view above, which I love at any time and any season. Sunset often fills sky and water with exquisite colors and textures.

There are lots of stories here. The old brick mill buildings are finding new life as condos, businesses, and artists’ studios. The railroad bridge is traversed day and night by both freight trains and the Amtrak Downeaster. That huge industrial stack on the right is all that’s left of a former trash incineration facility that was the bane of the communities on both sides of the river.

On this particular evening, I noticed the changing light through my window and went outside with my camera. It was a perfect end-of-summer evening, and the not-quite-half moon was following the sun towards the horizon. I took several photos, then just sat on the granite blocks edging the river, soaking in the peace that I always find in nature, especially by the water. I am so grateful to have this right here, right now.

So…what’s the negative? Looking through my September photos made me think about how close to home I stay most of the time. My river view is beautiful and photogenic, and so is my little park next door. It’s so easy, so comfortable to stay home, to stroll around the familiar neighborhood, to photograph the same subjects over and over. But there is so much more out there and I want to explore it!

This morning, inspired already by this new project, I did just that. But that’s a story for another day.

Be sure to visit Paisley Rain Boots for Sarah’s September Scene & Story.

If you’d like to post your own “Scene & Story,” you’re more than welcome, and we’d love to know about it. We hadn’t planned on a formal linkup, but if you feel like joining in, you could leave a link to your post in the comments.


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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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Summer Miscellany

A few random images of the summer just past, and random thoughts on the season to come….

IMG_1789From Stackpole Bridge

As I begin writing this, it is Labor Day in the United States, and for me this holiday has always marked my personal end-of-summer. Here in Maine, the three-day holiday weekends of Memorial Day near the end of May and Labor Day at the beginning of September bookend our “official” summer tourist season.

IMG_3961Summer Rain

While I’m reluctant to see summer go, I do love fall. The crowds are gone and there are a couple of months of warm sunny days and cool nights to enjoy before winter descends…and of course there are the glorious leaves to look forward to.

IMG_4436Between Cities

When I was growing up, school used to start — always — on the Tuesday after Labor Day. Though school days are (thankfully) a distant memory, September still feels like a time of new beginnings. Maybe it’s just old habit, or maybe there really is something in the air that triggers the urge to clean things out, get my “nest” in order, and embark upon self-improvement projects.

IMG_4059Johanna’s Garden

One thing I’ve been wanting to do for a long time is blog more regularly. I began this blog four years ago as a photo journal for an online photography course I was taking. Without the class to hold me accountable, and to “tell me” what to photograph and write about, I haven’t really known what its purpose was/is.  But I do like having a place to share some of my photographs (which otherwise just sit in my computer) and I enjoy writing about them. I also treasure the friendships I have with people I’ve met online here, many dating back to that first “Find Your Eye” class.

IMG_3948Summer Sky: Scarborough Marsh

Last week I pledged to one of those friends — and to myself — a commitment to publish at least one post a week during the months of September and October. After that, we’ll see! I feel that I need the structure and discipline. I also need to do something with all these photos I keep on taking, or what’s the point? I hope by the end of October to have found a purpose and direction for the blog. Perhaps it will just be my own personal photo journal, pretty much as it has been all along. Perhaps I’ll discover that I really don’t want to keep doing it at all.

IMG_4504At the Farmers Market

So…come along, if you’d like, on my journey of random exploration. Welcome!

IMG_5334Season’s End

And welcome to you, too, Beautiful Autumn!


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Photo-Heart Connection: August 2014

I took the photo below exactly one year ago today. I walked outside, put my camera on a tripod, and took this photograph of myself standing in front of the view I saw every day from my home.

My World 1-365September 1, 2013:  My World [1/365]

I’d been invited to join a small group of photographers who were going to take a photo every day and post it in a Flickr group. It was my first 365 project, and I had no idea if I could do it. Of the dozen who formed the group, eight finished out the year.

This was my final image, taken yesterday, of me in front of the view I see from my windows now:

My World Redux 365-365August 31, 2014:  My World Redux [365/365]

I decided a couple of weeks ahead of time what I wanted to do for my last photo:  to echo the first one. I even deliberately wore the same outfit. I wanted to bring the project full circle for myself, back to where I started — yet, in more ways than just location, very far from that starting point.

My Photo-Heart Connection this month celebrates that journey. I’m a person who has trouble making commitments, following through, and completing things I start. Not things I’m doing for other people — I’m very diligent and  responsible, then — but personal projects. I’m really proud of sticking with it all the way through this 365. But I doubt that I could have done it alone.

Perhaps the best part of the experience has been the bond formed with my fellow participants over the past year. Some I was already acquainted with online, and some were strangers to me when we started. Their comments, critiques, and encouragement kept me going, and kept me photographing, through the physical and emotional chaos of three moves, four seasons, and various dramas and traumas. We’re not strangers anymore.

It’s been a joy and a privilege to see their images every day, with mine amongst them, and to witness their (our!) photographic growth over the year. They have inspired me to try new subjects and techniques and to step outside my comfort zone. I’ve learned things that surprised me about my own photography, and I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn!

I’m not planning to start another 365, at least not right now. I have other projects to work on, and I’d like to get back to blogging more regularly, too. But completing this project, this year of photos, with these people, has changed me, and I’m grateful for it. It’s going to linger with me for a long, long time.

Thanks to Kat Sloma for continuing to host the Photo-Heart Connection linkup each month. This is my Connection for August.