Sea Blue Lens


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A Winter Album

Last Tuesday evening, the weather forecaster told us we could expect perhaps an inch of snow overnight. It only took a quick peek out the window Wednesday morning to see he’d been a bit off the mark. The world had been rendered in black and white.

from my window

Six inches of lovely, wet snow fell during the night and continued softly all the next day, settling delicately on every branch and twig. I kept going out to see what new delights I could discover.

picnic is cancelledNo Picnic Today

snowy arcsArcs

bittersweetBittersweet

twigsTwigs

treeTree at the River’s Edge

branchesWeighted

bridge from upstreamSecret

Everyone photographs this covered footbridge from the other side — the street side. But this is my favorite view, hidden away behind my building and challenging to reach.

solitary firSentinel Fir

The little island, Jubilee Park, is locked up and inaccessible during the winter, but I still enjoy looking into it from the sidewalk and taking photographs of the trees, water, and changing weather conditions.

reflectionsWinter Reflection

mallardsResident Mallards

Apparently they missed the memo about flying south for the winter.

lamppostLamp Post

riverUpriver

island ducksIsland’s End

fence-bridgeThe Street Side

stakefenceContrast

snowy branchesBowing Low

hiding placeHiding Place

chainlinksFramed

fence-bridgeZigzag

warming upHome Again

Time to thaw out my fingers with a cup of tea, snuggle under a warm throw, and spend some time with a favorite book. Thanks for coming along to play in the snow with me!

 


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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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Contrasts

The second lesson in the Find Your Eye: Journey of Fascination class is about photographic contrasts. This lesson encourages us to think beyond the obvious contrast of light/dark to other conceptual contrasts: new/old, hard/soft, straight/curved, and so on.

Looking through my Inspiration File, I discovered that there’s a strong color contrast in many of my favorite images.

Autumn Vines on Lincoln Mill

Autumn Vines on Lincoln Mill

Another sort of contrast I use a lot is something I think of as “solitariness.” (I may have just made that word up.) By that I mean a person or thing all by itself, contrasting with its environment: a lone person on a beach, a spider web gleaming in the rafters of a ruined building, a poppy in a field of lupine, a little bird all alone in a foggy world.

Song Sparrow

Soloist

The third category that stood out to me was a contrast of incongruity . . . things that strike me as funny or ironic or surprising by their proximity to one another, like a pair of beautiful roses you wouldn’t want to get your nose too close to.

There goes the neighborhood

Stopping to smell the roses…is not always a good idea.

The second part of the class assignment was to go on a photo walk, looking for contrasts to photograph and taking note of how we felt while doing it. I ended up doing my photo walk twice, because I was not at all happy with the first set of images I got. I had a better idea of what I wanted and how to get it the second time around, and was pleased that I tried again. (More on this next time!)

Desert Treescape

Desert Treescape

Contrast: Natural/Man-made — Although the area where I live is very rural, it’s difficult to find “clean” scenic shots. Cell towers march along mountain ridges. Fire roads, fences, buildings, wires, power poles, billboards, etc., proliferate nearly everywhere. In the image above I deliberately framed the electrical transmission tower “trees” with the native junipers and rustic fence in the foreground to emphasize their contrast with the natural landscape.

On the Fence

On the Fence

Contrast: Illusion/Reality — Speaking of that rustic fence . . . it really isn’t. Here I tried to capture the contrast of a traditional post and split-rail fence constructed of very un-traditional molded concrete.

Shadows

Stonewalled

Multiple Contrasts — What first caught my eye here was the contrast between the shape and texture of the smooth, rectangular window panes and the random curves and roughness of the natural stone wall. Then I noticed the soft shadow of the same tree that’s reflected in sharp focus in the window. There’s also a warm/cool color contrast going on here that I like, as well as our old friend light/dark.

Adobe Sky

Adobe Sky

Contrast: Color (warm/cool) and Shape (straight/curved) — Pretty obvious. Might add Texture (smooth/rough), too. This turned out to be my favorite image from the shoot. That was a bit of a surprise, since I expected it to be one of the transmission tower photos. I love the simplicity of this one . . . and those colors!

I enjoyed looking for contrasts, and once I conquered the issues that disappointed me the first time around, I had a great time getting what I wanted. I realized that I have always instinctively used various types of contrast in my photography, but now I’ll be looking for it more consciously.

 


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Photo-Heart Connection: April

Renewal

It looks chaotic, at first. But when I look at this image, I see possibility and new life bursting out in all directions. Many blossoms have already opened, but others are still closed tightly, waiting until the moment is right to spread their petals to the sun.

This is a mature tree, and this is not its first spring. It has experienced many cycles of the seasons, from flower to fruit to falling leaves and bare branches. To some eyes, that bare winter tree might seem dead. But its life is far from over, and with the warmth of spring the buds swell again. A new chapter in its story begins.

When I saw these beautiful blossoms and buds against the clear, deep blue sky, lifting their faces to the sun, I felt a connection and kinship with them. They seemed symbolic to me of my own life right now, one chapter ended and another beginning. Retirement is perceived by many to be the end of a person’s worth and usefulness, but I’m filled with excitement. What I see is the potential and purpose of all those buds on this old tree, and I can’t wait to see each one open in its turn.

Linking to Kat Sloma’s Photo-Heart Connection for April.

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Laudholm Lessons

Laudholm Morning

Last weekend I went on a photo walk with my friend Susan. We visited the Wells Reserve at Laudholm, a historic saltwater farm on the coast of southern Maine. It’s a beautiful property that, shortly after sunrise on a Sunday morning, we had all to ourselves. Light frost covered the ground and lingered in the shade, but soon vanished wherever the sun touched.

Cold Clover

At first, I found myself so caught up in just being there that I kept forgetting to take photographs. I just walked around, looking, breathing, occasionally snapping the shutter.

We “worked” the old farmhouse and barn, a field full of weeds, and a frost-covered rail fence.

The Yellow House

Big Tree, Little Tree

Barn

Boundary

We followed a path that skirted a marsh and led to the beach.

Blue Marsh

Relics

Relics

On the way back, we detoured along a boardwalk that passed through a wood, trees winter-bare against the sky.

Standing Out in the Crowd

Surrounded

It was fun to be out with a friend on a beautiful day, companionably each doing our own thing. I think we both learned things about our own photography. It was interesting to observe how we could stand practically side-by-side yet be photographing very different subjects. Or be photographing the same subject, but in very different ways. Susan was captivated by things I didn’t even notice, and vice versa.

Susan, illuminated

It was a great day! Then…I went home and downloaded my pictures. And I didn’t like them. Any of them. At all. I had a sense of “been there, done that” too many times before. It might have been a new place, but they felt like the same old images.

Several days later, the immediacy of the experience having passed, I was able to review them again, weed out the obvious mistakes, pick out a few favorites, and edit them to some satisfaction. The lesson learned from that is to cut myself some slack, wait a bit, and don’t make too-hasty judgements.

Still . . . I really do want to figure out a fresh approach to my old familiar subjects. I love grasses, trees, flowers, vistas, water. I will continue to photograph them, but I want to seek out new angles and perspectives, something to make them special. Something that better captures what I felt that drew me to the subject in the first place.

To do that, I need to get out more. Shoot more. Get more comfortable with my camera. Practice, practice, practice! Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? I’m looking forward to it.

Treeline

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Wrapping It Up


Our final, bonus exercise in the Find Your Eye photography e-course was to review and assess what we actually got from the class. Immediately after the class finished, I went on vacation for a couple of weeks, so I’ve had some time to consider this. But it’s still not easy to put my thoughts and feelings into words.

Having reviewed my lesson posts and inspiration file, I note the following discoveries:

  1. I do have an “eye.” My photographic interests and style have remained pretty consistent for all of the (ahem) many years I have been taking photographs.
  2. My eye is unique to me. While others may take similar photographs, mine are still . . . somehow mine.
  3. I will always be able to find subject matter for my camera. (More on this in a future post.)
  4. Sometimes it really is about the equipment. (More about this later, too.)
  5. Looking at the work of other artists, whether it be photography or other media, helps me to grow in my own work.
  6. Photoshop is not evil, but simply a tool, or sometimes an artistic medium in its own right, to help us achieve the image we envisioned. Post-processing can be fun!
  7. Photographing with intent and purpose can be interesting, informative, and fun, even if I do have to be dragged into it kicking and screaming.
  8. Stepping outside my comfort zone can be challenging and frustrating. It can also result in some very nice pictures!
  9. Thinking is a vital part of a photographer’s tool kit. This is a valuable lesson for someone whose photography is mostly intuitive.

All of these discoveries have been made in community with an amazing group of fellow students. As I’ve mentioned before, this is the first time I’ve ever shared my photography outside of a small circle of family and friends. During this course, I have learned so much specifically from feedback and interaction with the other students and our instructor, Kat, through all of our online photo journals.

My photography is usually a solitary pursuit, but through this course I’ve made connections with kindred spirits from across the country and around the world who now feel like friends. Not only have I found my eye, but I’ve found a new respect for my own work by seeing it through the eyes of others. It’s been remarkable to discover that images I’ve captured with my heart and mind can touch others, even complete strangers.

I’ve discovered a new joy and enthusiasm for my old pastime. I can’t wait to continue the journey in our next class, The Journey of Inspiration.


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On Our Walk

My daughter and I are in the middle of a week-long vacation. Last night it rained. This morning the wet earth and trees smelled like I imagine Heaven will. The mountains were wrapped in tendrils of fog and clouds.

By late morning, the overcast grey skies had transformed into deep blue scattered with shining white drifts of cloud. We set out for a walk.

We passed through this gate…

and came upon a pond.

As we walked around it, these are some of the things we found:

Some interesting trees to identify later

A beaver lodge (missing from the picture: the great blue heron that flew away as we approached)

Black-Eyed Susans everywhere

The tiniest frog EVER

A beautiful feather, downy and soft

My favorite view of the pond

The circle complete, we went back to our temporary home away from home for lunch and a well-earned nap.