Sea Blue Lens


13 Comments

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!


21 Comments

Peeping Tom

This afternoon my brother-in-law knocked on my door, stepped inside, and quietly told me that someone was spying on me. He pointed to the kitchen window.

DSC_1736The Spy Who Eyed Me

 

DSC_1738Caught In the Act

Some spy. His technique is not very subtle, and he doesn’t blend in well at all. Whoever he works for should probably have sent a Chameleon instead.

Isn’t he a beauty, though? He’s a big one — about 14 inches nose to tail. He wasn’t bothered a bit by having his picture taken. I think he’s a Southern Alligator Lizard, and the long slender tail makes me think it’s a male. We have a lot of smaller ones around the yard, but this is the first one of this size that I’ve seen. I love my wild neighbors, even if they do invade my privacy now and then!


10 Comments

Blurred Vision

Coming and Going

Coming and Going

Hi — I’m back! I didn’t deliberately set out to take a month-long blogging break, but that’s pretty much what happened. Don’t know why, but I guess I must have needed it.

I can’t say I’ve got any deep thoughts or dramatic breakthroughs to report upon my return. But since my Word for 2013 is Explore, I thought I’d jump in with Kat Sloma’s Exploring With a Camera. Each month, Kat offers up a lesson on an aspect of photography, with clear explanations, how-to’s, and plenty of examples. This month’s exploration was “artistic blur.”

I spend a great deal of effort in trying to get my photos to be as sharp as possible. The concept of trying to blur a photo by moving the camera around during exposure, for example, or by deliberately not focusing before capturing an image is difficult for me to grasp. I tried some experiments for this lesson but, sad to say, they were not successful. However, in looking through my archives I found that I do use other types of blur to create the effect I want in a photo.

Desert Willow

Desert Willow

In this photo, I used a shallow depth of field to hint at the setting of this desert willow, but the blossom is clearly the subject.

Eventide

Eventide

In this case, even though it’s the grass that’s in focus, it leads my eye to the cottage in the background. For me, the cottage in the soft, warm evening light, with its sense of peace and quiet solitude, is the real subject of the photo.

Summer Storm

Summer Storm

I took this photograph because of the blur caused by a brief but intense summer rain pouring down the window.

Window Waves

Ripples in Time

While this image was taken on another rainy day, the blurred distortion of the clapboards is caused not by rain but by the wavy antique glass of the window that I was shooting through.

Ripples In Time

Water World

These are ripples of a different sort. The water in this cove seemed very calm, but the blurred reflection tells another story. This is one of my favorite reflection photos.

Downtown

Downtown

In this image of the Los Angeles skyline taken from the Angeles Crest Highway, the mountains and distant city are blurred by mist and rain.

Slow Water

Slow Water

This blurred water is caused by using a slow shutter speed, a common technique used by landscape photographers to give moving water that milky effect. To be honest, it’s not something I do often, but I was experimenting with it one day and this was the result. To me, milky water looks very unnatural; I prefer to freeze the motion, leaving the water clear. But I did enjoy trying and comparing the effects of different shutter speeds on this occasion, and I’ll experiment more with it in the future.

Spots and Stripes

Spots and Stripes

This effect was achieved by shooting through a flowering shrub. Focusing on the bird beyond caused the foliage to blur into a translucent wash of color. I’d like to say I did this on purpose, but I was quite surprised by the result when I downloaded the images.

Illumination

Illumination

The blur here is caused simply by hand-holding the camera. The interior of this church was very dark so the shutter speed was slow. It’s sharper than I expected to get, but I like the softness of the glowing candles.

Angry Squirrel

Angry Squirrel

Autumn Gold

Autumn Gold

My apartment in Maine backed up to the edge of a river, and I had wonderful views from my windows. I took a lot of photos through those windows, with more or less success. These are two of my favorites. I was shooting through a double paned window and a screen, which gave these images a soft-focus effect that I like.

The Blues

Singin’ the Blues

Car window + Raindrops + Reflected Sky + Wide Open Lens. Once I’d have just thrown this away, but I like it. So with this little abstract, I’ll close my exploration for now and go link up with Exploring With a Camera: Artistic Blur. I think I’ll make it just under the wire.


16 Comments

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.

.


19 Comments

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.


15 Comments

Repeating Myself

In this month’s Exploring With a Camera: Repetition, Kat Sloma presented an excellent tutorial on the various ways repetition can be used to enhance our photography. These can include repetition of object, shape, color, line, and light, as well as combinations of these and more.

As I read her explanation and viewed her examples, several of my own images came to mind immediately. It was interesting to look through my archives and more recent photos to see what part repetition plays in my photography.

Here are a few examples I found:

Resting at Reny’s

Danger – Work Ahead

Let’s Scoot!

Reflection

Multiple Mugs

Quartet

Spring Jewels

Windblown

Three Birds

Four Birds

Mission San Buenaventura

Ventura Pier

I love Kat’s explorations. Each one is like a mini-photography class and I always learn something valuable. As I look at the photos above, I realize that I took each image precisely because of the repetition, even though I was often not consciously aware of it. I’ll definitely be thinking about it in the future.


13 Comments

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!