Sea Blue Lens


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Photo-Heart Connection: July 2013

DSC_2252_BlueRoseSummertime Blues

It’s been over a month since I last posted here. Last month, I missed (skipped, actually) the Photo-Heart Connection linkup altogether. I just couldn’t get myself inspired by any of the images I’d taken, and I’m still having the same problem. I’m in a slump.

The image above doesn’t exactly make my heart sing, but it says something about my world this July. This was taken mid-month. I looked out the window from my desk and saw an odd spot of bright blue in the yard. I went out to see what it was and discovered this stunningly fake rose blossom lying on the ground. Where did it come from? I have no idea. No doubt the wind dropped it there.

You can see in the photo how dry the ground is. In July, our well went dry for the first time ever. The well serviceman who came to check the pump gave us the bad news and said it’s been happening all over the area. Now we’re having water delivered by truck. I wash my dishes in a bucket so I can pour the water onto my plants afterwards. And I dream of rain.

I do have some real roses, planted in pots and set up on a bench where the rabbits can’t get at them.  Unfortunately, something else could, and did. Every leaf, every bud, gone — stripped down to bare stems. Almost everything we plant gets its own little fence to keep the rabbits out. Yesterday, I saw a ground squirrel inside one of those fences, lunching on my portulaca. Again, every bud and flower, gone. Maybe I should try planting blue silk roses.

In July, wild things began invading my personal space. I discovered a tarantula in the hallway near my bedroom door. My brother-in-law caught it and released it far down the hill. Birds kept flying or falling into the exhaust pipe for my stove hood and getting trapped. We set them free. Something began bumping around in the attic space over my head. Squirrels, we thought. So we put up a trap and after several days caught the culprit — not a squirrel but a big fat rat. Can I just say, UGH! OK, at least it’s gone. Except after two days . . . the pitter-patter of little feet is back. So is the trap.

I’ve been feeling as out of place (and out of sorts) as that crazy blue rose. But . . . I know this will pass. The last few days have brought cooler, fresher temperatures, a whisper of fall-to-come. We even got a few drops of rain, see?

DSC_2313_Raindrops

Literally, just a few drops, but welcome. I’m going to try to look up, to appreciate the wild visitors to my birdbath and feeders rather than focus on the invaders. I will count the blessings of sunshine, fair weather, and the beautiful blue of the summer sky. It’s a new day and a whole new month.

DSC_2298_Clouds

Linking with Kat Sloma’s Photo-Heart Connection for July. I always (well, almost always!) enjoy this monthly chance to review my photos and muse about the one that speaks to my heart in a special way.


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Photo-Heart Connection: September

Day’s End

I think that evening, here, is my favorite time of day. Everything slows down. Quiets down. The sun sinks low in the sky; the wind drops and the dust settles. The horses have been fed and contentedly munch their dinner, and I look forward to mine.

I go outside, camera in hand, and walk around the house and yard, observing how the angle of the light has changed since mid-summer, how much earlier the dusk falls. There are no clouds, but the sky begins to glow around the edges with the colors of the inside of a sea shell.

I return to the cottage and open all the windows as far as possible, to let in the cool evening air. The birds are silent and the nightly coyote chorus has not yet begun. The most noticeable sound is the water trickling in the fountain out front.

Peace seems to drift over the land. Perhaps that is only an illusion, but in this moment, it is enough. For me, the quiet is peace enough, and I will cherish it while it lasts.

Each month, the Photo-Heart Connection at Kat Eye Studio challenges us to look over our photos from the month and share the one that speaks most to our hearts. The choice often surprises me, and it’s not always easy to put words to that choice. But it’s a challenge that I really look forward to each month. I’d encourage you to try it.

.


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Photo-Heart Connection: January

My online friend and teacher, Kat Sloma of Kat Eye Studio, is starting a new series today, a once-a-month link-up called Photo-Heart Connection. At the beginning of each month, we will look over our photos from the previous month, choose the one that most strongly speaks to our heart (for whatever reason), and write about it. This reminds me of one of my favorite assignments from the Find Your Eye classes, the intuitive writing exercise, so I’ve been looking forward to trying it.

Earth, Sea, Sky

As I reviewed the photographs I took in January, I kept coming back to this one. It’s from the same photoshoot as the lighthouse and snowy owl you might remember — my wonderful New Year’s Day outing.

I remember that when I took this picture, it was the reflected sky that caught my attention, and that I deliberately framed it as an experiment in using the Rule of Thirds. But that’s not what draws me back to this image.

What I see here now is a circularity, a repeating cycle, maybe even the “Circle of Life.”

There is the sky, with its watery clouds, reaching down to the sea. There is the ocean, stretching to the horizon, embracing the rocky land. And there, at the edge of the sea, is a huge mass of granite with a hollow in its top, filled with water tossed up by wind and waves . . . holding the sky.

Sky.  Sea.  Earth.  Sea.  Sky.

See?

It makes my heart soar and ache, and my body long for wings.

You can read more about the Photo-Heart Connection and see other responses to the prompt here.

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(Almost) Photoless Photo Walk

So I took my camera-less photo walk for Kat’s class this afternoon. And let me admit, right up front, that I cheated. Just a tiny little bit.

Sorry, I had to do it.

I did NOT take my camera with me. I saw so many wonderful photo opportunities that, weather permitting, I’m going back tomorrow, with camera. But this sky was so strange! I knew it wouldn’t keep, so I grabbed it with my cell phone while I had the chance. Please forgive me — I couldn’t help myself.

Let me back up and start from the beginning. It was gray most of the day today. I didn’t want to drive anywhere. There’s a river walk that starts off pretty near my home. I’d heard that a local trails organization had done some work on the path, and I’ve been wanting to check it out. So I headed out this afternoon, thinking it would be a good opportunity to explore without getting sidetracked by stopping to take pictures every few steps.

I wasn’t expecting that much, honestly, because I’ve covered the area pretty thoroughly in the past. But the improvements to the trail were great! It used to be a scary scramble down a steep dirt path and over rocks, where it petered out a short distance later on a granite outcrop by the river. Now there are safe steps and handrails, lookout points, and the path continues on to join another farther up the road.

Some of the things I saw:

  • At the beginning of the trail is a small hydroelectric dam that I’d like to try to shoot. There’s also a wall there absolutely covered in graffiti that might make for some interesting photos.
  • A flash of vivid red leaves — just a few — caught my eye in a clump of otherwise drab foliage.
  • Berries of many varieties and colors, from pale yellow to orange to fiery red to navy blue and black.
  • A few remaining wildflowers.
  • Some nice views of the town on the other side of the river.
  • A boatyard with a number of vessels already shrink-wrapped and stored for the season.
  • A variety of grasses and seed heads waving in the breeze.
  • One beautiful golden mushroom. I regretted not having my camera for that, because I doubt it will look the same tomorrow.
  • Remnants of old granite slab walls on the riverbank.
  • A cormorant perched on a buoy, silhouetted against the sunstruck ripples of the river.

The path then left the river’s edge and joined a road that parallels the water. A sign informed me that it was a dead-end street, but much to my delight, though the street ended, the path continued. And that’s where it started to get really good!

I came upon a small, covered observation deck with a bench, where I sat for a time. The shrubs and trees were filled with the flittings and chirpings of small birds, something warbler-like. My son-in-law could have identified them, I’m sure, but all I know is that they were entrancing and made me smile.

And the view! I can’t wait to go back and try to capture and keep it. I already have it saved in my mind and heart, but I want to be able to share it.

On my way home, I stopped in my favorite local deli/wine shop on Main Street and picked up some homemade turkey stew for my dinner. While I was waiting, I looked around and thought that would be a great place to take some photographs, too. I plan to go back and ask if they’d mind if I try.

Overall, I have to say this was a much more satisfying experience than I expected it to be. I don’t think I’d have gotten as far or seen as much if I’d had my camera with me. And now I have the pleasure of having discovered new territory just a pleasant walk away from my front door, and the happy anticipation of exploring it all over again with camera in hand. That’s a win-win, for sure.

.


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What’s the Problem?

Breaking Through

Here we go, embarking on a new Find Your Eye journey. This one is called Journey of Inspiration, and boy, am I ready to be inspired some more. The first assignment is to think and write about my experience in solving problems in my photography.

This one has me stymied. I’ve been trying to think of a photographic problem I’ve solved. All I can think of are problems I wish I could solve! The first one is time, or rather lack of it. I could get so much more photography done if I didn’t have to go to work every day! Of course, if it weren’t for the work, I’d probably have to hock my camera to buy food, so I guess quitting my job won’t solve my photographic problems.

Since I have a brand new dSLR, I’m facing the “problem” of figuring out what it can do and how to use it. My solution for that, as with most problems, is: Read the instructions. That’s a solution I really do use over and over, and it always works for me.

I’m a great one for following instructions, and I always want to learn all I can about everything. However, when I first took this camera out of its box, I charged the battery and simply started shooting. On Auto, of course. Over a month later, I’m still on Auto. Hence my desire for time . . . time to master the manual — and the manual mode. I’m hoping to get some practice in this weekend.

I finally did think of one photographic problem I learned a solution for a long time ago that I still use today. It has to do with photography at the beginning or end of the day. If I aim my camera at the scenery, the camera will expose for that and the sky will be washed out. So usually I point the camera at the sky and lock in the exposure, then recompose for the composition I want. The scenery will be darker, sometimes even silhouetted, but the sky and clouds will be full of color and detail. Often I like that silhouette effect, but if not, I can usually make some adjustments in post processing to bring out more detail in the shadow areas.

These are a few examples from my recent vacation:

Silver Dawn

Dry Rain

Riding Out the Storm

I feel like I haven’t really answered the question, but it’s been a long week and that’s all I’ve got for now. You’ve got me thinking again, Kat.

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Night Work

I didn’t think I did much night photography, but if you define “night” as any time between sunset and sunrise, it turns out I’m quite fond of it!

Evening Harbor

Nightfall at the Farm

Rubble and Reflections

Night Work

Midnight Magic

I’m linking in to Kat Sloma’s Exploring with a Camera: Night Photography.


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Reflecting

I woke up to rain this morning, and a cool breeze billowing the curtains at my open windows. It’s a perfect day to tackle the final assignment in the introductory Find Your Eye course I’ve been taking:  to look through my  inspiration file and see what I can determine about my photographic style.

So, what can I learn from my own favorite photos?

What I see in my pictures is a reflection of my love of nature. There is, I think, a sense of solitude about them which is a reflection of my own nature. There is sky, water, trees, wildflowers, insects, birds, other small creatures.

There are images of the changing seasons.

I like details, texture, and color, from high contrast to subtle shadings.

There is man’s hand on the landscape, too, in buildings, fences, artifacts of various sorts. I’ve always been fascinated with shards and relics of the past. Again, it is often the details that capture my attention, the play of textures, or the way light and shadow define an angle.

What there is not…at least not much…is people. The people who appear in my photos seem usually to be a prop, a detail in a story, rather than the actual subject of the photo. Often they are strangers, in the distance, or out of focus. I am observing them, not interacting with them.

Nearly all of my photos are taken with natural light, and I do very little cropping or post-processing, except perhaps to straighten a horizon. One thing I have noticed through this class is that when I take a series of pictures of a subject, it is often the first image that makes the final cut. I’m not sure what that says about me or my photographic style!

I’ve really enjoyed this class, and am looking forward to continuing on to the next one.