Sea Blue Lens


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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.


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Photo-Heart Connection: March 2014

The moment I saw this photograph, I knew that it was going to be my Photo-Heart Connection image for March.

IMG_2826Through the Looking Glass [208/365]

Why? That’s the question I’m still pondering. Perhaps it was the surprise element in how it came to be.

It was very early (for me, anyway) in the morning and I was getting dressed to meet a friend for breakfast. The rising sun was streaming in the window, striking the mirror on my antique dresser and backlighting me at the same time. The sunlight was doing interesting things to the scratched and hazy surface of the old mirror, so I grabbed my iPhone and took several shots, moving around a bit in relation to the sun, shadows, and reflection, hoping for an interesting self-portrait.

This photo was the last shot of the series, and a complete accident. All the rest were sharply focused — and sharply disappointing. None of them captured the excitement I felt at seeing that light. This one made me stop and suck in my breath, all the while wondering, What happened? How did I get this out-of-focus image? Who cares? Let’s process it!

So I cropped it a bit, and converted it to black and white — something I seldom even think of, but it felt right for this image. Then I brought it into the Distressed FX app and used a filter that added some colored, grungy texture. Quick and sure, yes, that’s it, perfect!

Both the image itself and the making of it are quite unlike my usual practice. The end result is both Me and Not-me. A sort of spirit selfie, not quite corporeal. Who is that blurry woman? What is she doing, where did she come from, and where is she going? All I know is…she’s discovering more of herself every day. Every time I look at this serendipitous, spontaneous photo, I’m reminded of the excitement I felt when I first created it. I can’t wait to see what will be next.

Linking with Kat Eye Studio’s Photo-Heart Connection for March.  Come join us! 


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The Last {In the Picture} Show

In The Picture

We’ve come to the end of our year-long self-portrait project, {In the Picture}. I have to say that I’m pretty proud of myself for sticking with it for the entire year. I knew this would be a year of change for me, and I really wanted to document it in some way.

As one who is usually taking the photographs, I’m not often seen in them. It’s been a change to put myself in front of the lens, and even more challenging to learn to look at the results objectively. It has definitely been a growing experience, and one that I’ve enjoyed much more than I expected to.

In addition to learning to see and appreciate myself in new ways, I’ve loved being able to see my fellow photographers on this journey. I love having faces to put with the personalities that I’ve come to know through your photography, art, and writing. I’ve been moved and inspired by the honesty, courage, and creativity with which you have revealed yourselves not just physically but emotionally.

Our optional theme for the month of December was “celebrate.” 

Happy Birthday Girl

Celebrating Myself!

I’m one of those lucky people who have a close-to-Christmas birthday. In honor of the occasion, my sister and brother-in-law took me on a day trip over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house . . . oops, wrong story. Actually, we went to Little India in Cerritos for some delicious Indian food, which I love.

We drove over the Angeles Forest and Angeles Crest highways and the views were amazing. The devastation of the wildfires two years ago is heart-breakingly evident, but the regrowth of vegetation is encouraging. The weather looked frightful but wasn’t, and really added to the drama of the scenery. In reality I’m just holding my camera here, but I like to think my arms are outstretched to embrace all the beauty around me and whatever the next year will bring.

Celebrating Memories

Celebrating Memories Past

Next came Christmas. You knew there had to be birds on my tree, right? One of the things I love about all our family’s Christmas trees is that each ornament brings back the memory of a time, place, person, or event. I have ornaments going back to my kids’ first Christmases.

The goldfinch is from a favorite place in Maine where my daughter and I vacationed several times. The little crystal bird is new this year and stands in for all the new birds I’ve discovered here at my new home. And that tiny angel was a gift from a dear friend and her small son a few years ago.

Celebrating Memories To Come

Celebrating Memories Future

I raise my glass to all of you! I hope you have been able to celebrate whichever holidays you observe at this time of year with love, joy, and hope for tomorrow.  My wish for every one of us is a happy, healthy, creative, and prosperous New Year.

Come to our final linky party and celebrate with us! Once again, many thanks for Christy’s inspirational lead in hosting {In the Picture} all year long. It’s been a rewarding journey.


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Nearing the Finish Line

This is the next-to-last month of the {In the Picture} project for 2012. Our theme for November was “I am thankful.” The image below is one of those that is worth the proverbial thousand words.

Picture of Contentment

Picture of Contentment

I know how very fortunate I am, and I truly am thankful for all the riches in my life. They’re not monetary riches. But I have enough for my needs, as well as a beautiful home, friends and family who love me, an abundance of interests to pursue, and the health to be able to enjoy all of these things.

This is my first fire of the season, and, in fact, my first fire in my very own fireplace . . . which is the fulfillment of a dream. I experimented with adding a couple of Kim Klassen’s textures to this image. The effect is pretty subtle, but it does make a difference, and it was fun to play with.

I’m also thankful for Christy at Urban Muser for hosting this self-portrait project all year. I had really wanted to do one for myself, but I know I would have fallen by the wayside long ago if it hadn’t been for this monthly linkup. It’s been a challenging and fun instrument of growth in my life. Thanks, Christy!

Come check out the November Linky Party!


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Favorite Places

It’s time already for the {In the Picture} self-portrait linkup for October. At first I thought the month had passed awfully quickly, but then I realized that the last Friday actually came a bit early this month. Our optional theme was favorite places: to take our self-portraits in one or more of our favorite spots.

In Maine, I’d have had an abundance of places to choose from, especially at the peak of autumn. I’d probably have headed to the beach, since that’s my ultimate favorite. Here? I can’t say that I really have any favorite haunts yet. I take most of my photographs right here on the property.

Here’s a favorite spot where I spend a lot of time:

Daydreaming

As you can see, my desk is in front of a large window. Above my head is a birdbath you’ll recognize if you’ve been here before. It was unusually quiet when I took this photo. The birds are an almost constant distraction when I’m trying to work at my computer —

This Scrub Jay flew in for a bath while I was typing this post . . . .

— but I love them and can’t bring myself to reposition the desk or close the curtains. Besides, I’m retired, so who cares?

Speaking of curtains, these are only temporary ones, borrowed from another room to keep the sun out of my eyes first thing in the morning. Notice my lovely tiebacks? Binder clips are so useful! The small tree outside the window is a crape myrtle, and until last Friday, it was covered with pink flowers. High winds over the weekend took care of that, but the tree does provide a bit of a fall-ish glow when the morning light shines through it.

When I’m finished pretending to get anything productive done, I often head for another favorite spot:

Front Row Seat

Here I sit on the patio with my feet up and just watch the world go by. I sip tea or coffee, read a book, or . . .  just sit, listening to the breeze, the chatter of little bird voices, the flutter of wings, distant dogs barking, and the occasional airplane passing in the distance. It’s peaceful.

Much as I miss all those favorite places in Maine, it’s good to be here.

A note on this self-portrait challenge . . . I feel like I’m in a rut. Technically I’ve completed another month, but I don’t think I really put my heart or creativity into it. I want to do something different and see some progress and growth! I don’t know exactly what that means, but I’ll be trying to figure it out.

Meanwhile, here’s the linky party at Urban Muser. Let’s go see everyone else’s favorite places.

.


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A Matter of Perspective

It’s time for the September installment of {In the Picture}! This month’s theme (optional as always) is “New Perspective,” a suggestion to try something new, shake things up a little. I decided I’d try putting my camera down low and myself up high. The result is . . .

Second Childhood

You’re never too old to play!

This next image happened almost by accident. I was fresh from the shower, wet hair clipped up on top of my head, mascara and lipstick in place, when I suddenly noticed myself in the mirror. Do you ever do that? You’re just going through your routine, catch a glimpse of your reflection, and that oh-so-familiar reflection seems like a stranger, just for an instant. So of course I had to grab my camera and record the moment. I mean, doesn’t everybody? Here’s the “first draft,” just cropped and the exposure adjusted a bit.

Just Me

But for even more “new perspective,” I decided to play with it a bit. For the past few weeks, I’ve been taking some online Photoshop and Lightroom classes from Kim Klassen (see sidebar). This seemed like a good opportunity to practice. So I fiddled with various things in Lightroom, then went to Photoshop Elements to fiddle some more — added a texture layer, a layer of lace curtain shadows from another image, and various other tweaks. Here’s the result:

Me 2.0 – New and Improved?

So now you know what I’ve been doing instead of blogging lately. It will take a lot more practice before I’m good at it, but I’ve sure learned a lot.

Once again, thanks to Christy at Urban Muser for her continuing inspiration for this project. We’re three-quarters through the year now — hurray for all of us who have stuck with it! Speaking for myself, it’s definitely been a growing experience.

Check out the {In the Picture} September linky party here.


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This Is My Life

It’s time for the next installment in the {In the Picture} self-portrait project. This month’s theme, optional as always, was “My Life, Right Now.” The idea was to capture a memory, an emotion or mood, something that would reflect our everyday life, right now.

Since I am retired now, I suppose you could say my whole life is a vacation. Nevertheless….

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

I have been missing the easy access I had to the beach when I lived in Maine. A couple of weeks ago, my sister and I took a day trip to Ventura, where we had lunch, poked around the many second-hand shops on Main Street, visited the mission, and wrapped up the day by getting our feet all wet and sandy at the edge of the Pacific Ocean. It might have been short, but it felt like a real vacation! I took a lot of photos, but these were the only ones with me in them. That middle one is SOOiP (straight out of the iPhone) and not very flattering, but who cares? It records the fun I was having and that’s what counts, right?

Window On My World

I will always remember this summer as the beginning of a new chapter in my life. In Maine, I worked full time and lived in a rented apartment that looked out over a river. Now I live in California, my time is my own, and my view is of chapparal and mountains.

Dreams Fulfilled

And…instead of an apartment, I live in a cottage that is mine to make exactly as I want it. I’d been considering the possibility of this move for over four years before it actually happened. During that time, I’d visited and had taken photos and measurements of the cottage. I drew up a floor plan to see where my furniture would fit. I’ve spent the last three months bringing that floor plan to life, and it’s turning out just the way I imagined it. As you can see, I”m enjoying the fruits of my labors. For me, this is the picture of retired contentment.

And that’s it for another month. This was a fun theme, and I can’t wait to see what Christy has in mind for us for September. I knew this would be a year of changes for me and I wanted to record it in self portraits. Having {In the Picture} to look forward to each month has helped to give me focus and keep me going when I might otherwise have given it up, and I’m grateful for that.

You can see what everyone’s been up to this month over at Urban Muser’s {In the Picture} linky party.