Sea Blue Lens


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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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Randomosity: SHS 6.23.13

At first I didn’t think I’d be able to come up with anything for this week’s Scavenger Hunt Sunday prompts. But after missing last week, I decided to try just a little harder to find some fitting images. Perhaps some of them are stretching it a bit, but at least I’m here! The words this week are Fun, Arts & Crafts, Messy, Blessing, and Effort.

Fun:

DSC_1937 FunWhat the Heck?

OK, I admit it — I have  a strange idea of fun. I was outside in my little fenced garden area when I spotted these leaves with a clump of feathers stuck to them lying on the ground. Doesn’t it look like some sort of alien creature? — though it doesn’t appear that our atmosphere agrees with it. I laid it on this plank and took several photos to preserve it in case future scientists want to study it.

Arts & Crafts:

125_2546_r1 sketchSketchy

Arts and crafts aren’t really my thing. I love art supplies and have lots of them, but seldom use them. I’m hoping this will count. The photo is an old one, as my friends in Maine will recognize immediately — this clock tower was decapitated several years ago — but it’s newly processed. I recently learned how to do this sketch-like post-processing (thanks to my friend Brenda at How to Feather an Empty Nest) and this was my favorite of the images I tried it out on. I really liked the way it turned out. It’s pretty arty, right?

Messy:

DSC_1911 RR windowDay of Rest

Last Sunday I took a nap on the couch, and woke up to a strange tapping noise at the window. The curtains were closed but I parted them and peeked out to see TWO roadrunners up on the window ledge. They seemed to be pecking at their own reflections on the glass. While I slipped away for my camera, one of them hopped down and left. The other one quickly followed, but I managed to get this one photo first. So where’s the “messy”? I’m glad you can’t see the rest of that windowsill. I really need to get out the vacuum.

Blessing:

DSC_1210 blessingTranquility Base

This was an easy one. The peace that descends at day’s end is always a blessing.

Effort:

DSC_2091 supermoonBella Luna

My sister chose the name for this image. I’ve never been successful at photographing the moon, and I put a lot of effort into trying to get some good shots of this month’s “super moon.” This was taken with my Nikon D5100 with 55-200mm lens (at maximum zoom) on a tripod. I cropped and adjusted for contrast and clarity in Lightroom. I have plans for some further experimentation with the photos I took that I hope to post later.

This week’s challenges turned out to be fun after all. Here’s the Scavenger Hunt Sunday linkup – come check it out!

PS – Happy Birthday, Ashley!


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Terrible Beauty: SHS 6.2.13

It’s a different kind of Scavenger Hunt Sunday this week. We don’t have any prompts except “Photographer’s Choice” — we’re meant to choose our five favorite photos of the week, of any subject we like.

Late Thursday afternoon, heading home after a shopping trip, I saw smoke rising beyond the horizon and pulled over to snap a photo with my iPhone.

IMG_0794-2Uh oh.

As soon as I got home I checked the television news to find out what was happening. A wildfire had begun about an hour earlier in the Angeles National Forest, about 16 miles northwest of here as the crow flies. (We are not in danger.) It’s being called the Powerhouse fire.

About ten minutes later, I took this photo from behind the garage . . .

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. . . and then over the next hour and a half I watched in horrified fascination as smoke spread across the clear blue sky, first casting shadows on the hills and then blotting out the sun.

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DSC_1712

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Colors were changing moment by moment,  morphing from the yellow-green of an old bruise to brilliant red-orange, washing everything in a red glow.

DSC_1724

DSC_1703

By sunset, the smoke cloud had covered nearly the entire sky.

DSC_1727

I woke up during that night and the wind was calm, the smell of fire heavy in the air. By morning, a breeze from the opposite direction had cleared away the sight and scent of smoke, though the fire continues to burn even now.  Every change in the wind brings more or less smoke over and around us.

Tonight (Saturday) the setting sun was tinting a few puffy clouds high in the sky, while a shift in the wind was bringing the smoke back, this time across the northern sky.

DSC_1732

So far over 5500 acres (Update Sunday morning – almost 20,000 acres now) have burned, including some structures, and three firefighters injured. I’m praying for the protection and well-being of the firefighters and the people, animals, and property that are threatened. I’m praying for rain, though that isn’t likely. I’m praying at least that the winds be calm.

I’m praying that soon there will be nothing in the sky to photograph but birds, clouds, and beautiful natural sunsets.

Even though I’ve cheated a bit (too many photos), I’m linking with Ashley’s Scavenger Hunt Sunday at Ramblings & Photos.


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Photo-Heart Connection: October

The Way the Wind Blows

I’ve had a hard time with the Photo-Heart Connection this month, and, in fact, almost let it pass me by. It’s not that I lack for photos to choose from. The problem is with the heart.

Fall has always been my favorite season of the year, even though I grew up in a place where fall was marked not by spectacular color, but merely a cooling and mellowing of the summer’s blistering heat. Leaves simply turned brown and fell off the trees, leaving behind bare branches against blue sky.

Seventeen years ago, I left the desert behind and moved east, where I finally experienced autumn in all its glory and loved it more than ever. Now I’m back, not exactly in the desert but close to it. I’m far away from a lot of people I love. And while I’m happy and grateful to be here in this beautiful place, close to other people I love, my heart is torn.

Fall for me is a nostalgic time of year anyway, and this year it feels especially poignant. I love my new home, and find joy in it every day. I’m also seriously homesick for Maine and the friends and family left behind. I feel tears welling up at unexpected moments. I feel a bit like that weathervane up there, turned in a different direction with each passing breeze.

I’m keeping busy (in a relaxed sort of way) and try to do something every day to settle in here a little deeper. Like a transplanted tree, it will take time to put out new roots and become established in this new soil. It will take a bit of protection from the strongest winds. But in the end, those winds will help to strengthen the trunk and roots and branches of that tree.

I try not to think too much about it all, but just let myself feel what comes. I know it will pass. Whichever way they blow, the winds always die down and calm returns.

So that’s my Photo-Heart Connection for this October. For me, fall is still what it was all along . . . a time both for looking back and for new beginnings. I wonder what November will bring?

Thanks to Kat Sloma for hosting this linkup each month. It’s a great chance to look over the images taken during the month and think more deeply about the one that speaks most to my heart.

.


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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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Sunday Scavenger

Another Sunday! Ashley Sisk, who usually hosts Scavenger Hunt Sunday, surprised us all (and perhaps herself most of all?) by delivering her new baby daughter earlier than expected, so today’s Hunt is being hosted by Sarah Halstead. Thanks, Sarah, and congratulations to Ashley!

This week’s targets were Sunset, Sweet, Hanging Around, Funny Face, and Space. Let’s go hunting!

Sunset:

Backlit Buckwheat

The sky has been clear day after day for the past month. That means sunsets are pretty subtle. As the sun descends toward the hills to the west, our valley sinks into shadow while the mountains around us are still touched by light. I love the way the low-slanting sunlight outlines the native vegetation on the slope behind the house.

Sweet:

Exotic Bloom

This is what happens when you can’t eat all the artichokes you grow. The fuzzy “choke” part, which is normally discarded when the artichoke bud is cooked and eaten, develops into this beautiful periwinkle blue blossom. I’ve seen the flowers before, but was surprised to discover that they have a faint, honey-sweet scent.

Hanging Around:

Evening Visitor

Small groups of Lesser Goldfinches visit our thistle feeders regularly, but this was the first time I’d seen them hanging out in this garden area. They appeared to be picking insects and small leaves from the plants.

Funny Face:

Two-Faced

The “funny face” in this photo is not the obvious yellow one. Look carefully…you may need to enlarge the picture to see it.

Space:

Layers

I love the sense of space and distance conveyed by the natural textures and layers of this view from the front of the house. And this photo is another sunset view, bringing me full circle back to the beginning.

Here’s the link again to this week’s Scavenger Hunt Sunday over at Sarah’s place. I wish you all a wonderful week!


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Transition

Last Look

It’s official, I’m in transit. Yesterday the movers picked up all my worldly goods, except for my laptop and camera gear, which will be in my carryon luggage. (Who needs clothing, right?) Today I finished cleaning and tidying up last minute details and turned in my apartment keys.

Now I’m at my daughter and son-un-law’s place, and tomorrow I fly to California. It’s calm and lovely here and I can finally relax and rest a bit. It’s hard to remember the last time I was this tired and sore, though I suspect it was the last time I moved.

Jenny’s Lilacs

I am fond of saying that all of Maine is just one small town. It seems like everywhere I go I’m always running into people I know (or who know me, which may not be the same thing at all). One day last week, my daughter said to me, “C. said he saw your picture in the library.”

I asked if he meant one of my photographs, though I couldn’t imagine how or why that could be. No, she said that he said it was a picture of me, not by me.

OK, this I had to see. I mean, I know I spend a lot of time at the library, but I didn’t expect to be memorialized on the wall. So I went over to see for myself. Here’s what I found:

Oh, now I understand.

And yes, here I am:

But that’s not what I was doing!

Of course, I had to take a photo of the photo someone took of me taking a photo!

The backstory is that C. and I had gone on a nature hike at a local park a couple of years ago, sponsored by Saco Bay Trails, a local group that promotes public access to recreational hiking trails. I was fascinated at finding two or three gravestones all alone in the woods, just a little way off the trail, and naturally stopped to take a few photographs. I never noticed someone else photographing me!

Ah, Maine, I love you. I’m going to miss you!