Sea Blue Lens


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Spring Break and Be Still Week 48

Apparently I’ve been on a blogging break for the past few weeks. It wasn’t intentional; it just seems to have turned out that way. It’s not that I haven’t been taking photographs, or even sharing them — just not on my blog. For example, I participated in Susannah Conway’s April Love 2015, but my responses to those daily prompts were posted in the April Love 2015 Facebook group.

Also in April, I took Vivienne McMasters’ new Double Exposure Love class, which was so much fun! Those got posted to Instagram. Here’s a sampling:

DoubleExposures-1

This is one of my favorites:

IMG_0727Double Vision

These were all created on my iPhone or iPad using the Diana Photo app. Some of them were paired randomly by the app, and some were pairings I chose. Vivienne showed us other ways to make double exposures using PicMonkey and Photoshop, but I’ve been having so much fun with Diana Photo that I haven’t tried them yet.

Be Still – 52

I also took a break during April — again, not deliberately — from Be Still 52. I have a few lessons to catch up on, but I did get this week’s done. Our assignment was a still life featuring two or three things: coffee or tea, change, from above. I remembered some coins I brought home from my last trip to England and decided to use them to create a travel theme.

DSC_9166Keepsakes

This image includes a few photos I took in London on my first trip to England. Yes, that is Her Majesty, and yes, I really was that close to her. It was pure chance and stunning good luck that put me in the right place at the right time on my last day before flying home.

IMG_1212Travel Planning

Plotting how I can get back to spend those coins!

DSC_9168Travel Dreams

I dream of returning to England some day, but at this point it seems likely to remain only a dream. Still, I have wonderful memories and some pretty amazing photos to back them up. And, thank goodness, I can still have scones and tea right here at home…and there’s one more season of Downton Abbey to look forward to!

[Be Still notes: The first image was processed with kk_hazydazy Lightroom preset. The second was just cropped a bit and some vignetting added in Lightroom. The last was processed with Kim’s Pastelhaze preset. I did try some of the darker, more dramatic presets with these photos but didn’t care for the results.]


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Pastel Perfect

I love color. I love bright colors, flower garden colors, but I’m especially drawn to pastels. This week’s Be Still assignment was to create a still life featuring pastels, in honor of springtime and Easter. I thought about dying eggs, but it didn’t interest me much. And it would have required buying things — white eggs and dye to color them with — specifically for the photo shoot, which is against the “rules” I have set for myself regarding Be Still, to use what I already have.

Besides, I had other ideas. A couple of them.

The first was fashion, something that relates both to Easter and spring, right?


IMG_9881-2Pearls and Lace

IMG_9880-2Pastel Pretties

I used my desk chair for all the photos in this post. It was backlit by the living room window, with a linen curtain pulled closed to filter the light. Rather than spot-metering, I overexposed the images to compensate for the bright back light. Both of the photos above were processed in Lightroom with Kim’s “Pastelhaze” preset. What it did to the images felt like magic!

Well, now that I’m all dressed up in my Easter finery, how about a nice springtime tea?

DSC_8946Simplicitea

I found this irresistible little bird creamer the other day, and thought he’d pair well with my porcelain butterfly teapot, and that they would work nicely together for this pastel photo shoot. (See how arbitrary my “rules” are? But I loved him in his own right, so I wasn’t buying him just for a photo prop; therefore, it was okay. Besides, he was less than $3. I love TJ Maxx.)

DSC_8952-2Tea for Me

Both of the tea set images were processed with Kim’s “Breeze” preset. It gave me just the soft, glow-y mood I wanted.

I have actually learned quite a lot because of my silly, self-imposed rules and other logistical limitations. They have caused me to think creatively about how to adapt Kim’s prompts to my own life and style, and to come up with solutions for space and light problems. And I love finding ways to feature and highlight some of my own favorite possessions. It makes me happy to see my old keepsakes and everyday utilitarian objects become art!


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A Spoonful of . . .

Another Be Still assignment: Spoons.

Feeling uninspired. I seem to start off that way a lot, don’t I?

I don’t have a collection of unusual, old, or especially pretty spoons. Since my goal is to create my still lifes for the class without buying a lot of special props, I’ll just have to make do with my everyday ones. Actually, I love their simple design and that they can be put into the dishwasher without concern. They suit me to a — ahem, to a tea. (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.)

IMG_0379Keep Calm and Think Spring

Well, I like it, but it isn’t very exciting.

Just for fun, I processed the image with an app called Brushstroke.

IMG_0378A Spring Break

Okay, that makes me happier. I’m still not fully satisfied, though.

A few days later, I thought I’d have another go, something completely different:

DSC_8555Generations

There are five generations of my family represented in this image. The little spoon is the one my babies learned to feed themselves with. (I still use it every day for sugar or jam.) The pink book is my own baby book, and the little china cup was my mom’s when she was a little girl. The Dresden Plate quilt was my grandma’s and was made by her mother, a great-grandmother I never knew. Grandma loved that quilt and used it on her bed til the end of her life. It’s been washed so many times that much of its pattern is in complete tatters.

I remembered too late that I was supposed to put something IN the spoons. Well . . . the first one holds a moment of stillness, time for a break in a busy day and a change of pace from the black and white world outside my windows. And the second? What this spoon is full of is memories . . . and love.


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Out and About

I don’t like cold weather. I often think about going out, but when the thermometer registers below zero Fahrenheit, it’s really hard to get motivated to get outside and play. Nevertheless, inspired by Sarah’s Wanderlust Wednesdays post yesterday, I bundled up and ventured out to my favorite beach.

Oh, the difference a few months makes! In June, July, and August, the sand is covered with beach umbrellas, blankets, chairs, towels, and (of course) people. Hundreds of them. The only thing on the sand yesterday were shells left behind by the last high tide. I only saw one other person walking on the beach. The little village center was a veritable ghost town.

IMG_6945Dessert, Deserted

IMG_6941Apparition

IMG_6937Closed for the Season

IMG_6836Bright Spot

IMG_6837Summer Dreams

IMG_6866My Rocks

IMG_6859Goosefare Brook, High Tide

IMG_6862Where Waters Meet

When I got to this point, where the brook empties into the Atlantic, instead of turning back and retracing my steps along the beach as I usually do, I followed a path around the little bluff below to circle back along the road to my car.

IMG_6869Windswept

IMG_6870Future Sea Glass?

Beyond Wabi-sabiBeyond Wabi-sabi

Along the way I made a most surprising discovery! I found a short trail that led to a tiny, hidden beach I never knew existed.

IMG_6897Tucked Away

IMG_6899A Secret Place

IMG_6906Tranquility

I sat here in the quiet, feeling thankful for having found this beautiful place, until my hands and feet turned numb with cold.

IMG_6915Frozen

And then I went home . . .

DSC_6393Home Comforts

. . . thankful for this place, too, but so glad I went out. I plan to do it a lot more often.


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On Being Still

I’ve mentioned before that I’m taking a class from Kim Klassen called Be Still – Fifty-two. We’re just past the halfway point, and this is sort of a catch-up post. I’ve been doing the lesson each week, but for various reasons, haven’t gotten around to publishing my results.

I’m pretty sure I’ve also mentioned before that still life is not a genre with which I feel comfortable. Doing setups for these lessons and “styling” a photograph is hard for me, and when I see the beautiful work done by other students, I feel that mine isn’t quite “right.” So I hesitate to put it out there.

OK, so that’s silly. First, it’s not a competition. Second, Kim encourages us to find and follow our own style, so there is no “right” that I should be worried about. And third, no one has ever been anything but kind and supportive about my photography. Therefore, after giving myself a good talking-to, I’ve just finished posting my “homework” for the past month or so to the class’s Flickr group, and thought I’d share a few of those images here.

White Pitcher Red AppleWhite Pitcher

Assignment: Create a photo inspired by a still life painting. My inspiration was a painting called White Vase by Neil Carroll. This was the first time I’ve tried photographing against a dark background like this.

DSC_7498Pear on Plate

Assignment: A composition using only two objects, such as a pear and a bowl.

DSC_7528Pair

Another take on the Two Objects challenge. As you can see, I’m rather captivated by that dark background effect.

Butter & Eggs Cooking for One

Assignment: A still life with butter and eggs. This one was fun. I’ve had that book for a long time, hoping for an opportunity to use it as a photo prop. And my daughter and I had to go antiquing to find the perfect butter dish, especially for this assignment.

Strong teaStrong Tea

Assignment: Square format, looking down, with two sides of the frame left open. This was  taken with my iPhone and processed with Laminar Pro.

And that brings me up to date, just in time for the lesson that arrived today!

Now, if I can just keep it up going forward . . . .

 


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Snowy Scavenging: 12.15.13

The promised winter storm arrived right on schedule, and we got over a foot of snow between last night and noon today. Nevertheless, I’m going on the Sunday Scavenger Hunt. I’m just not going to leave the house to do it! This week’s search items were: The Weather Today, R is for…, Green, Joy, and Drink. Here we go!

The Weather Today:

IMG_1791-2Yup. It’s Winter.

Today’s weather is…about 14 inches deep and 14 degrees Fahrenheit. This is not a black and white photo — it was just a black and white day. This was taken right after the snowplow guy did our driveway at 6:00 this morning. I’m not sure it helped much, and I’m truly grateful that I don’t have to go anyplace today!

(PS – He’s been back twice since and it looks much better now. I think we could get out if we had to!)

R is for…:

DSC_3652Raptor

I believe this is a juvenile Cooper’s Hawk. He was perched in a pine in the back yard. Anyone who’s followed my blog for a while knows how I love my birds! I was really thrilled to see this one.

Green:

DSC_3662Decking the Halls

Christmas with its lights and colorful decorations is the perfect holiday for wintertime, especially on a day like this when the whole outdoor world is rendered in shades of black, white, and grey.

Joy:

DSC_3669Spirits of Christmas Past

Sometimes, even for a grownup, a toy can bring joy. The other day I was browsing through a large display of stuffed animals in a store, picking up this one and that, thinking of various people who might like one. Suddenly I spotted this one, the only one of its kind on display. It looks so much like a dear little dog I used to have that it felt like a gift from her own sweet self. Now she sits on the shelf with my childhood books (we always got books for Christmas!), and I smile every time I see her.

Drink:

DSC_3671Keep Calm and ….

Tea is soothing, warming, comforting, even healing. I love tea and always keep the makings close at hand.

That’s a wrap for this week. Have you tried Scavenger Hunt Sunday yet? It’s fun! Here’s the linkup for this week.


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Fun with Photoshop

I have been having the best time! The lovely Kim Klassen offered a free, 10-day mini-Photoshop class and I took her up on her generosity. It’s very, very basic — like how to use layers and layer masks and other such elementary things — but it’s been a revelation to me. And this despite my having used PS (self-taught) for nearly a dozen years at my work.

Somehow I always managed to get the job done, even though I knew I wasn’t really doing it “right.” I know this sounds like a shameless plug for Kim’s classes, but I have been truly impressed. I was learning new stuff from the very first lesson. It’s mostly the same things I was already doing in my own muddling way, but oh, so much easier now.

I’ve even tried textures. And while I still don’t totally get the texture thing, I have to admit it was fun and I can see its occasional usefulness. (I have a friend who’s probably laughing her head off right now. You know who you are.)

Here are a few samples of my “homework”:

I have so much more to learn. But I really enjoy Kim’s teaching style, so I’ve signed up for more. Her voice is calm and somehow comforting, and she makes it all seem so simple. She doesn’t even know me, but she tells me I can do this and I believe her.


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ReTIRED

At the Beach

My friends, I have been missing you. Where do people get the idea that retirement is relaxing? So far it hasn’t been exactly restful.

My apartment is in chaos as I sort, throw away, give away, and pack stuff. And try to figure out what stuff to carry with me as I fly to my destination, and what stuff I’ll need to get by with for the two to three weeks until the rest of my stuff arrives on the moving van.

However, this should not be taken as complaining. I am very lucky and believe me, I know it. I’m sure things will settle down a bit once I get the packing and moving behind me.

Keep Calm and Carry On

Actually, my life feels a bit surreal at the moment. I can’t quite believe I’m finished at work. Last night I had a “workmare” in which I was trying frantically to meet a deadline and knew I wasn’t going to make it. It was a great relief to wake up and realize there was no project due today. Or ever, for that matter — at least, not that kind of project.

Meanwhile, amongst all the sorting and packing, I’ve been getting together with friends, visiting favorite places, saying good-bye. Trying not to think too much about the actual parting part of this adventure. Time enough to deal with that when the time comes.

Afterglow


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Scavenger Hunt Sunday

I skipped SHS last week and I missed it! Here are my responses to this week’s prompts, which were: Water, Light, Chocolate, Animal, and Crowded.

Water:

Just Like You

I was taken by the echo in the lines of these two boats, and that old song “Cat’s In the Cradle” popped into my head . . . I want to be just like you, Dad, I want to be just like you.

Chocolate:

Afternoon Delight

Does this even require a comment? I’ll leave it to your imagination what happened to this setup after the photo was taken.

Animal:

Above the Dawn

This image could just as well have served as “Water” or “Light” this week, but I’m counting that lone seagull as my token animal for the week.

Crowded:

Tight-Knit Community

Mussels snugged up tightly together under the dock, with barnacles clinging fast on top of them.

Light:

Susan in Sunlight

Saved the best for last, because I love this image. My friend Susan and I went out before the crack of dawn this morning for a photoshoot, followed by our now-traditional after-shoot breakfast. There’s more than one kind of light, and special friends bring that into my life. It’s such fun to have a companion to chase photographic light and share light-hearted moments with. Thanks, Susan! (Does this photo remind anyone else of that scene from Titanic? You know the one.)

That’s it for this week. I’m linking up with Ashley Sisk for Scavenger Hunt Sunday. Can’t wait to see what everyone came up with!