December 29, 2009

Snow!


Last year's snow was really great. Deep and long lasting, the snow fell again and again and I treasured the charm of a white Christmas season.

By comparison 2009 has brought us a remarkably warm Christmas season. Just this afternoon, though, it began to snow. Large white flakes are dancing on a light wind and accumulating in the backyard.

Will it look like this again? I doubt it. Still softly falling snowflakes are almost always laced with at least a little winter magic. Looking out the back window I can't help but smile at the beauty of the season.

December 15, 2009

Pomegranate Portrait


This pomegranate stands brightly against the bronze stones and gray river rock in my back yard. The leaves are dry and spent, the stones dusty. The sky is gray and the light is growing cold.

The contrast is profound, all the more so for the simplicity of the details. Against the earthy backdrop this plump pomegranate sits, full of creative possibilities, a crimson jewel box promising a hundred gems of juicy flavor to brighten our table.

November 11, 2009

Waiting


Not long ago I founds myself on a sidewalk in Seattle, waiting. We had plans to eat at Village Sushi but arrived a few minutes before they opened. The rest of my party stood on the stairs, hands in pockets. I took out my camera and started taking pictures of the restaurant and then the street outside and finally an interesting little weedy clump of flowers growing between the sidewalk and the street.

In this small space were twigs and weeds, lavender and daisies. Barely tended they intertwined while contrasting and supporting each other. The varying shapes, colors and textures playfully interacted in a way that was energizing and delightful. I considered this eclectic arrangement and snapped pictures until the restaurant opened and I was called inside.

The images that resulted are interesting. If i were painting the same image I would change it in a number of ways. I would never include the spent lavender bud, the quirky little dried twig or the ragged leaves yet they do lend authenticity to the portrait and prove that beauty does not require perfect composition or unblemished subjects to sparkle and have value. Without the surprising serendipity of a moment waiting I might never have considered the inspiring interaction of the narrow spikey lavender leaves in silvered green with the wide variegated leaves below them as a fitting backdrop to this gorgeous late season blossom.

As it turned out this brief pause with my camera set the perfect stage for the dinner to come. Village Sushi offered a lovely blend of traditional Japanese emphasis on presentation and quality with a casual U District indifference to detail and protocol. The dishes we ordered were served simply as they became ready, in great variety and without great ceremony. It was an inspiring wait and a beautiful meal.

November 1, 2009

Café du Grütli

Down the Escaliers du Marché from Notre Dame Cathedral in Lausanne, Switzerland, you will find Café du Grütli. It is a pleasant restaurant serving Swiss cuisine which one travel guide describes as a "venerable old tile-and darkwood brasserie in the heart of Old Town."

We found this restaurant in the twilight of our last evening in Lausanne. We wanted to eat like tourists tasting the fondue Switzerland is famous for. We were not disappointed. With the help of the waiter and the conversational crowd around us we had a wonderful meal in a charming atmosphere.

The atmosphere carried with us into the gathering darkness on the streets of the Old Town. As we left I captured this image. Just enough light falls from the indoor fixtures to illuminate the tables on the pavement outside and to offer a companionable glow to the setting.

This scene does not have enough light to make a good photograph. Details are lost and the setting remains dark in the image captured on my small camera. Yet by drawing out the shadows, turning up the color and flattening the details this image comes to life. Splashes of color convey the setting and the tone of the light emanating from the interior space sheds just enough illumination on the scene to suggest the casual elegance and conversational atmosphere of a warm evening under the hospitable awning of a European café.

October 20, 2009

Apple Harvest


Apples. Beautiful news at this time of year, gracing produce stands and seasonal displays. Not only are they gorgeous to look at, in a wide variety of colors from lemony yellow to bright green to orange gold and dappled red, but they are so good to eat. At this time of year they are so crisp and fresh they snap as you bite into their lusciously tart sweetness.

There are so many ways to enjoy apples: fresh from the tree, baked into pies and crisps, cooked down into applesauce or apple butter, pressed into fresh cider. Hurled like the apples from the trees in "The Wizard of Oz" they make fair weapons, drenched in caramel they make sticky seasonal treats, polished and set on a teacher's desk they make a handsome offering, and piled in the window at the produce market they make an inviting subject to photograph.

These lovely, locally grown apples are a beautiful tribute to fall. Just a simple apple drenched in autumn sunlight can conjure up a thousand memories and associations. Filtered to smooth blemishes, add texture and introduce a dream-like quality, this image evokes the taste and smell of autumn along with the faces and personalities of times gone by. What a rich blessing in such a compact package!

October 14, 2009

Incantation


The sun was bright and falling warmly all around the house. Everywhere I looked the brightness illuminated something magnificent. Here there was an empty nutshell filled with pine needles. There I saw a leaf withered and crumbling with its delicate veins exposed like threads of lace. Along the walk were honeybees burying their heads in the scent of lavender. Lilacs bloomed neatly at the side of the house and in the front, by the stone patio, irises were unfolding their tightly rolled mantillas.

This single flower led the way. Unfurled and stretching out toward the stone circle it was at the height of its beauty. I took several shots to try and capture its perfectly formed blossom.

With some careful cropping I was able to isolate this iris against the backdrop of the stonework. I adjusted the contrast and filtered the image to bring out the lines of its petals and the echo in the stonework. Like wands directing the tracery in the stonework the leaves arc toward the circle in the background as this lovely iris leans into the magic of a beautiful afternoon.

September 20, 2009

Little Goldfinch


This little goldfinch landed in my backyard one morning this past spring. He sat on a rock near the birdbath outside my kitchen window. He was so brightly feathered he looked like an Easter egg nestled there. I wanted to capture the image but with only a very limited telephoto lens I felt sure it was impossible. He would fly away before I could get anywhere near him. So I just looked out at his bright form and smiled.

I kept thinking he would fly on. He didn't. Instead the little bird just sat there. Finally I had to go closer to see what was going on. But, sure enough, as I approached he did fly away. The thing is, he didn't get very far. Something was wrong. He flew a few yards toward the backyard fountain and then just lay in the foliage there, with one wing oddly extended.

I am no great expert on wildlife and I didn't know how to help. I moved closer to see if anything was obviously the matter. When I didn't see any noticeable injury I decided to go ahead and take pictures. At least my proximity would keep any neighborhood cats from taking advantage of the situation. I was very close to the bird now and didn't even need a telephoto lens.

Soon the little bird seemed better. He arranged himself there on a rock and tucked his wings neatly around himself as we both listened to the sound of the water in the fountain. After I finished with my camera I began to do some yard work nearby. Before long I turned to find he had flown away.

This was a rare opportunity to capture the image of a wild bird up close with my little camera. I was very pleased with the images that resulted. I made some simple adjustments and filtered them to simplify the details of the background and to highlight the splash of wonder that the little goldfinch brought to my day as he rested near the fountain in my backyard.

September 9, 2009

Pollen

This image was captured on a beautiful afternoon in Murten, Switzerland, just outside the town walls. We walked through this wonderfully haphazard garden growing roses and sunflowers as it trailed seedpods and morning glories along the stone walls. In the background the bastion of the wall can be seen.

In the foreground a bumble bee is oblivious to the historic setting. Intent on its work it is drenched in pollen from top to tail as it hangs heavily in the air approaching a bright sunflower again and again.

This bee amazed me. I was able to capture his image as he hung in midair serenading the sunflower but it was a challenge to capture the weight of his pollen laden body and to convey the slow determined persistence of his flight as he courted that huge blossom.

Try as I might, my own persistence in courting this image has yielded only a mediocre result. I like the image, the brightness of the flower, the interesting but receding background, the texture of the bees cargo and the profusion of the surrounding garden but I never felt that I was able to capture the story I witnessed as that heavily burdened little bee pursued his passion in a cottage garden by the old town wall.

August 20, 2009

Sky Shine


Our flight from Geneva to Amsterdam last fall lifted off very early in the morning. Sleepy, spent, but satisfied following a wonderful vacation, I sat quietly gazing out the window.

As a child I remember a short flight to Chicago the first time I ever rode on an airplane. Looking out the window as we were preparing to land in Chicago I exclaimed that I wanted a game just like that, with little houses and trees neatly arranged on a grid where I could see it all at once.

After many years and many trips I am still awed by the view from my airplane window. Flying in and out of PDX the Cascade mountains often jut up in greeting just outside my window. Flying to Europe it is sometimes possible to make out a splendid coastline. On the way to Japan a clear day reveals the gentle folds of its interior landscape and the more densely populated coastal areas.

On this trip I had already been treated to a view of glistening rivers and lakes sparkling like a jeweled necklaces through the Scottish Highlands and the soft rolling landscapes of France that transcend differences in nationality and simply look like my childhood home. None of these spectacular views, however, were nearly as remarkable as what I saw unfold outside my window that quiet morning.

Leaving Geneva, we lifted off and rose above a layer of clouds, dim and gray, that veiled the landscape below. As the sun rose and our plane reached an altitude above the clouds, I realized that the texture in the distance was the top of the Alps stretching into the sky. Above those peaks was another layer of dark clouds. Our plane traveled pleasantly enough sandwiched between these layers.

Then, suddenly, the sun broke out between those layers too. Rising in its arc it illuminated our space between the clouds revealing the texture of the bumpy rolls and soft white cloud waves beneath us and the wispy swirls in the currents of clouds above. In between the light of the sun echoed and bounced through the lens of my camera. the images I captured show the playful delight of the scene, a sort of orbital illusion, an echoed geometric brilliance.

The image I captured was interesting but dim, grainy and unstable. Here I have added enhancements to bring out the color and shape, the amazing texture and in-between-ness with fewer distractions from the obviously poor photographic quality of the image. I think the result is kind of nice.

July 21, 2009

Petalistic



Summer flowers are so lush and sensuous. This beautiful dahlia, framed by purple and white statice, unfolded its curving variegated petals to adorn a table where I enjoyed a wonderful meal among friends. It's bright color and ample blossom made it the perfect complement to the festive gathering.

I couldn't help but take out my camera to capture a few images as this delightful dahlia and I smiled at each other. Above I captured a sideways glance of its soft full petals, their creamy texture and their light drenched, yellow edging. Below I captured it face on, eager and attentive, symmetrical and perfectly appointed, with the hazy heat of summer as a backdrop.

I used several filters on these images to bring out the lovely texture and the brilliant color of this casual summer bouquet.


July 7, 2009

Gruyères Passage


The town of Gruyères, Switzerland is stunning. Set in the foothills of the alps, idyllic landscapes frame this medieval town on every side. From the charming castle at the end of the main street there are many beautiful vistas to be savored. There are views of rolling hills, mountains, gardens, and a churchyard begging to be captured.

The town itself is also quite picturesque featuring quaint cobblestones, an abundance of flowers tumbling from planters and window boxes, cafè seating tumbling from small restaurants onto the cobbled pavement beyond and the hum of conversation, along with the sharp aroma of cheese, wafting on soft breezes in the sun drenched street.

And then there are the doors. In this pristine tourist town each seems to make a statement of its own. Like an accessory to a Catholic schoolgirl's uniform the doors speak volumes about the personality and character the owners hope to convey, in a language all their own. Every one is at least slightly different, distinct and carefully trimmed with significant embellishments. Flowers, plants, pets or decorative artwork adorn doorways that are carved, arched, anchored with exquisite wrought iron and festooned with ornamental hardware.

This image captured one of my favorites. I like the radical simplicity surrounding it, the way the sun highlights the steps beside it, the small window adding balance and framing the other side, the architectural punctuation and the mystery of what is inside.

I treated the image with a simple filter. It highlighted the separation of shadow and light as well as the details of the architecture and stonework. The result lets the door itself shine and invites me to consider what lies beyond.

July 2, 2009

In a Cafe...


This image transports me to a scene in a mystery novel. It is simple in color and contour yet rich with details that might tell a story to those who are curious enough to search them out and wonder at their meaning. 

A wristwatch stands out, and a camera.  Two women in blue face each other at a table in the corner, while one sips tea from a white teacup. The light falls softly casting shadows from the left, hinting at the figure of a man obscured by the form of the other woman. The principle subject of our image turns his tired eyes toward the camera thoughtfully.  

What is even more interesting to me is that this image was originally obscured by the larger image it was captured in.  The original image focused on a scene in a restaurant that had nothing to do with the women in blue. It was simply a typical tourist's group shot at a table in the restaurant where some associates shared dinner.  Only after adjusting and filtering the image did the table in the corner draw my attention. Then, by seriously cropping this once dark inside shot and changing the point of entry, the lush colors and the fascinating sense of mystery was allowed to emerge.

June 29, 2009

Leaf Boat

Original photo by JE
A small bark once rested near the bank of a river. Grounded in a shallow spot it was neglected as the seasons turned and it shed its outer skin. The frame of its construction became exposed and was also worn down by the elements.

While it was worn it was also softened. In time it was gilded it in the manner of the northwest, with moss and lichens that clung to scarred ribs, giving it a patina like copper.

With its mellowing green luster this boat frame began to look like a leaf caught in the current and floating downstream. It blended with the brush on the shore and glistened against the gray currents around it. Humbled and broken, decayed and forgotten this small craft was transformed into an icon. It symbolizes the beauty of endurance.

Though the ground we stand on may flood with dark water and the currents of time strip us of our protective shell and all that we thought made us watertight and able to float, in the end we find that floating wasn't everything. To remain and respond and adapt, to yield without backing down or giving up, is to acquire a beauty that will always have value.

This original image was reduced in size and stripped of its detail. It was rather randomly adjusted and contoured. It was filtered and in the end brightened. What remains is an image I find meaningful and beautiful in its simplicity and fortitude.

June 19, 2009

House Spider

I don't know what it is with me and spiders exactly but I do seem to find quite a few opportunities to work with images of these interesting creatures.  Many of those images are of garden spiders. In the garden I tend to admire spiders, though I admit they make me a little uncomfortable.  

In the house it is another story.  That is my territory and spiders that make me uncomfortable inside usually have to go. But this little spider was so small and so well blended into it's surroundings that it hardly seemed threatening at all as it hung from a finely spun strand of web suspended from the ceiling.  I grabbed my camera and captured this image as the spider hung in midair.

The spider's delicate features were easily drawn out of the digital data in the image though it's pale form hardly seemed discernable to my eye alone. I was also able to draw a bit of color and contour from midair and the ceiling beyond.  Still the strand of web that held everything together remained invisible, a testament to the fine handiwork of this remarkable little creature.  

June 13, 2009

The Art of Commerce

Original photo by GF
This image was captured by my husband on a trip to India.  It speaks of a lively and colorful market he passed on his way through the city. Each vendor has his offerings neatly arranged with as much visual appeal as possible. 

While this appeal is composed of many details it comes down to light and color.  I cropped the photo and reduced the bit depth, highlighting the form,  the color and the contrast of light and shadow. I think this draws us into the vision that inspired the capture and shares the beauty and creativity that can be a persuasive element in the art of commerce.

June 8, 2009

Shower of Light

This image was an interesting one to work with. I captured it on a golden afternoon in California a few months ago. I liked the way the sun showered this beautiful iris and bathed it with light. I also liked the details in the petals of the iris. Still the iris lacked definition and the image lacked dramatic tension.

To compensate, I took the image apart and tried to highlight and define the iris while letting elements of the background fade and desaturate. As the background began to dissolve it took on the character of colors blurring in the rain and of raindrops glistening in the sunlight that often follows a spring shower. I was left with a new appreciation of the sunlight and the shower motif and the blinding beauty of spring.

In the end I'm not at all sure I got it right but I did have fun, and learned a thing or two, in the process of trying. In any case, this image of a spring sunshower makes me smile!

June 2, 2009

French Boats

Original photo by SD
A friend of mine captured this image when she was vacationing with her family in Paris. She shared it with me and I immediately wanted to work with it.  I loved the colors in the boat, the lush green of the banks of the river and the hint of international flair in the lines.  Still much of that was submerged in the realism of the original shot.

To bring out what I saw in the photo I brightened the image and contoured the line of the colors. By decreasing the bit depth I could feel the damp glow of the humidity and see the sunshine sparkle on the water in this picturesque image of an enchanting summer interlude abroad. 

May 20, 2009

Shadow Crest

I love to be outdoors in the sunshine. I often take pictures along the way but the sunshine I love is both a friend and a foe to my camera. While the light is brilliant it washes out color and creates deep contrasts with the shadows it casts. Often, these shadows get in the way of the image I want to capture.

Sometimes though, the shadow can enhance the image, even become the image. Here I took a low shot of a small dry twig from the garden.  Set on a sandy brown stone wall it cast a long shadow in the afternoon sun. Like a child at play making handshadows, they seemed to portray a host of possibilities in their definition.  This shadow captured my imagination and I captured this image.

In the digital darkroom I did very little to change the original image.  I cropped it to guide our point of entry.  Then I filtered it gently, drawing out the contrast and softening the distractions.  I like the possibilities in the lines that remain.

May 12, 2009

Potential

Teased by the beautiful weekend weather we have been enjoying in the Pacific Northwest, minds turn to gardens and hearts turn to hope for a season that will produce delicious tomatoes in our back yards. Though it may still be a little early here, we have put a few tomato plants in the ground and soon we will be looking eagerly for signs of the fruit we hope to enjoy by summer's end.

The first sign will be one of these modest little yellow flowers. Small and almost fierce it is the early sign of effort paying off and garden dreams coming to fruition.

I captured this image early last summer in a friend's garden. This small homely bloom made my friend's face brighten with hope and joy. Like a proud parent he seemed confident that this was the beginning of an eminently rewarding journey that would yield success and blessing.

Last year wasn't the best year for tomatoes in this area. While I believe this small flower yielded an edible piece of fruit few gardeners felt they were truly successful by the end of the season. But, for most gardeners, hope springs eternal. Tomato starts are flying off the shelves and into patio pots and backyards everywhere, and little blossoms much like this one will soon produce smiles and hope and joy for countless gentle garden enthusiasts.

My goal for this image was to soften it to the color and shape of that hope. I contoured the image enhancing the intricate detail of the small blossom and softening the background to warm shades of summer color. In it I see the outline of potential, the shape of tenacity and the framework of fruit to come.

May 8, 2009

Formation

Here is another take on the image posted as "Cradled World." I used a neon filter to make the forceful elements of the image glow. This treatment sets the thorns or threads on fire while the subtle peaceful form of the pod lets its definition fade into the surroundings. 

It seems to me that this image is almost the antithesis of the one I posted earlier. It is uniquely dynamic and engaging.

Each piece of art we create is unique in time and space, in the aspect of its creator that is highlighted in its form.   While "Cradled World" radiates the patient stillness of nature's power to transform, "Formation" displays the energy of the process and the active engagement demanded by every state of change. 

May 3, 2009

Cradled World

I ran across this intriguing little briar in a garden just outside the old city walls in Murten, Switzerland.  It grew low, beneath beaming sunflowers and voluptuous roses, evading the attention of tourists seeking more glamorous sights and bees seeking more abundant blossoms.

Without bright colors or fragrant petals there was little about it to attract attention, in fact its thorny exterior web seemed to shun attention. And yet how beautiful this intricate little pod seemed to me.

I wondered at its form.  Its erratic webbed covering suggests a variety of associations.  It resembles a crown of thorns or the bars of a cell, yet more to the point, it seems like a makeshift cradle of a roughly woven nest. Inside it lies a rough round pod that must contain a precious seed, the hope for a fresh start in the coming spring.  The pod is marked with a cross and entrusted to the arms of this amazing earthly guardian, like an infant newly baptized and placed back in its mother's arms.

To capture the impression this fragile bristling pod left in my thoughts I embellished the contrast in the image and softened the color and texture of the lush background. The result features the many amazing details of this delightful little garden discovery. 

April 28, 2009

Couplet

Near the beach at Fort Bragg, CA I spotted several clusters of white Calla Lilies growing in a field and down the cliff. Enchanted, I stopped to enjoy the sight and take some photos.

The Calla Lily is one of my favorite flowers. Their form is simple, yet strong and elegant. And not only is the flower worthy of note but the deep green wave of its foliage is also visually appealing. As I admired the overall balance of the clusters I couldn't help but be impressed by the unique beauty of each individual flower stem. I came away with a collection of interesting snapshots.

This particular image features a pair of Calla Lilies. I found the relationship of their open blossoms intriguing. Like two open hearts casually curving into one line they struck me as particularly lovely in the way they support and contrast each other while gently resting in one visual form.

To bring the texture of the image into alignment with the form I increased the brightness and softened the detail. Then to clean up the background I found some leaves that echoed the curve of the lily's shape and arranged them in layers, highlighting the rich color and the contrasting edge.

The process involved was a little different than anything I've done before. I think the outcome is simply poetic.

April 25, 2009

Shades of Spring

Not long ago I hiked the Cape Horn Loop Trail. It was a beautiful day and a wonderfully scenic hike. Not only were there broad vistas of the Columbia River Gorge to enjoy but along the trail, in the woods, there were also beautiful things to see. Dotted along the trail were lovely clumps of Trillium in shades from white to crimson.

I captured this image along the trail. These Trillium blossoms seemed particularly watchful stationed along the path. The background is bright with filtered sunlight and a glorious shade of spring green. The twigs radiate poetically from where the trillium keep watch.

To enhance the image I saturated the colors and highlighted the contrast between light and shadow. I like the lush feel of the final product.

April 16, 2009

The Calm of Morning

Original photo by JE
This image of the glassy reflection on the surface of calm water is a study in peace.  The shoreline gently and lyrically defines the curving boundaries of the water's reach.  The surface mirrors the dynamic nature of the changing clouds without disturbance.  The morning light gilds the low grasses and the trees softly punctuate the skyline.

The peaceful ambiance of this morning view is subtle.  The natural colors are muted and the details in the original image tend to distract the eye from the simplicity of the scene. 

 To highlight the peace I contoured the edges, lowered the bit depth and enhanced the hue definition. As a result the shape of the clouds are defined in the reflection as are the soft shapes of the trees and warm glow of the grasses. My eye rests at the center and yet is inevitably drawn toward whatever might lie ahead in the distance as I begin the day's journey. 

April 12, 2009

The Pulse of Morning

This image of a mighty sunrise was taken last summer.  From my window the rising sun was cradled in the crook of two silhouettes, the rooftops across the street and the foothills in the distance. The morning air was fresh and the sky was feathered with streaks of wispy clouds.

As the sun peeked over the hilltops the sky exploded with color as the sunbeams radiated filling the horizon with light. I captured this image from my window as I watched the sunlight stretch out to announce the beginning of a new day.

To conform the image to my impression I enhanced the colors and sharpened the contrast, blending the foothills and rooftops into one horizontal stretch. Then I contoured the image, filtering it so that the colors radiated from the sun like a strong and steady pulse, calling the world to its singular beat. 

Rummaging through photos this weekend I was drawn to this image as an expression of a world transformed on Easter morning. As Christ rose from the darkness of the grave, he dawned and rose as the Light of the World.

John 1: 4-5  In him was life , and the life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it. 

Happy Easter!

April 9, 2009

Bridge View

Original Photo by JE
The Astoria-Megler Bridge... again. This time the image was captured by a friend on a slightly brighter day than the one I spent in Astoria some time ago, studying the shape of my fears.

I like the angle of this image.  The bridge reaches out across the water in a rather straightforward way as it approaches the Washington shore.

In the distance the sky is composed of gentle shades of gray playfully arcing above the water, framing the line of the bridge and balancing it. 

I simplified the lines of this image and defined the shades of gray with a filter. Then I intensified the color to add distinction. The result is somewhat austere but resolute and hopeful too.  While the subject matter remains serious and functional the tone is brighter and more conversant than my previous impressions of this daunting structure. 

April 6, 2009

Light Through Redwoods

Last week we drove along the California coast and through Redwood National Park.  The sun shone brightly on the surf and through the towering trees.  The trees shaded the fragrant carpet of soft earth and the high canopy of leaves guided rivers of light that cascaded through the foliage.  It was beautifully atmospheric but difficult to capture in a single image.

I brought back hundreds of images but many missed what I sought to capture.  While many adjustments can be made to balance light and shadow or to add contrast to the degrees of shading, few captured the essence of the light falling through the high branches and the feeling of protected spaciousness beneath the towering redwoods. 

This was one of the images I liked the best.  The sunlight pierced the grove at an angle, highlighting the texture of the bark on the tree trunks and falling in patterns on a few moss covered branches. The light enters just above the center of the image, an image that does not reach the ground, suggesting the tremendous height of these giant trees. Brightening the image a bit to adjust for shadows and to define the creases in the texture of the bark, the focus is on the light and its persistent ability to enter the deepest recesses and reveal the rich wonder of this sheltered space.

March 27, 2009

Pear Impressions

<I buy pears all winter, a few at a time. Lately there have been many different kinds at the market and they are all so beautiful. The curve of their side, the color of their delicate flesh, the expected and yet surprisingly lyrical asymmetry of their form, make them pleasing to look at, to draw or to study. Pears are such a lovely photogenic fruit, inside and out.

After choosing several different varieties from the market I bring them home and arrange them on my countertop and wait. In time they will begin to soften and grow perfectly ripe and juicy. The anticipation itself makes my tastebuds dance.  

While I wait I try to capture their beauty.  I want to learn from their simplicity. Three pears, slightly blemished and irregular in form, lie in such an interesting and natural way against each other. The interaction of curve and color, light and shadow, line and angle merge into a single relaxed image.   Flattened and contoured, the contrast of these three luscious pieces of colorful fruit becomes restful, almost peaceful, as they repose on a textured mat.

March 20, 2009

Balance Point

Original photo by TB.
A friend shared a photo with me, of sailboats against the Chicago skyline. Eager to work with it I made some adjustments that I hoped would highlight the light on the water and the singular beauty of the featured sailboat.

I adjusted the brightness and decreased the bit depth to enhance the sparkle of the waves. This softened the buildings in the skyline, leaving a whisper of their outlines. Infused with the same shades as the water, their hazy form receded as the backdrop to this sailboat riding on the brilliant sea.

I like a lot of things about this image. I like the way the sailboats in the foreground are dwarfed by the towers in the background. Still, they appear indifferent, shining white against the blue-green water, occupied by riding the ripples and waves that rise and fall beneath their hull.

I admire the form and function of the sailboat blending into the wind as it elegantly steers at a slight angle. I like the sense that it is at one with its direction, at peace with the tension between wind and water and that it seems focused on the angle of the wind and the gentle path its hull cuts through the rippling tide.

Often I feel my sails are set against the wind and I ride the ripples and waves of my life at the edge of capsizing. Still this image and its whisper of the hectic hazy construction of a modern city contrasting the peaceful blue-green of the larger sea, is an image of serenity. It highlights the precarious balance between the elements of life and the beauty of finding that balance point to steady your course.

March 17, 2009

Luck

I found this little four-leaf clover in a cache of costume jewelry at my aunt's house. It is broken, no longer bearing the pin part that once let it be worn. The decorative cloisonné of it's leaves is also chipped. It shows its age and has lost some if it's utility but it is still a handsome and significant piece, a small and interesting ornamental fragment, especially at this time of year. 

As I couldn't think of how to wear it I used it as a model this St. Patrick's Day. I captured this image as the sun broke from the sheltering clouds and shone across a gold colored table drape. I liked the substance it gave to the little clover pin, the depth of its shadows, the way the sunshine highlighted the superficial nicks and imperfections.

I brightened the original image a little. Then I filtered it and posterized the clover for definition, engaging the way the light brought shades from the color of the leaves and the way the chipped flecks gave a charming sort of sage patina to the piece. In fact, in this case I think it is the way the light enhances the flaws and inevitable consequences of age that adds interest and texture to the finished image.

I've read that each leaflet of a clover symbolizes something: the first faith, the second hope, the third love and the fourth luck. Perhaps finding this small curio will bring me a measure of good luck. Luck has certainly been with this old pin, at least in its ongoing ability to charm and endure. Though it is old, and in some ways broken, it wears its age nobly and is still treasured. May we all be so lucky!

March 14, 2009

Garden Home

Late last summer the onions in my garden flowered.  First spears formed at the end of their stalks and then the spears burst into orbs covered in small white blossoms with a pungent fragrance.  

In the warmth of August I found these orbs enchanting.  Like a larger, prettier dandelion head the unusual blossoms had a sturdy character I admired.  Finally I cut one to bring into the house and study. 

On my way inside a small inhabitant emerged.  A delicate little garden spider climbed from the shadows beneath the flowers and gingerly walked around the outer petals.  What a wonderful house the little spider had found!

Imagining how amazing this geodesic blossom must be to such a tiny creature I had to smile. I felt a twinge of sadness as I carefully set him down in the bark dust before bringing the flower inside. 

I created this image of the tiny spider traversing the perimeter of the blossom with the hope of reflecting these simple thoughts.  I focused on the spider in his world and softened the background into a bright suggestion. The colors are simple, the details basic and still the delicate form of the spider remains, defined yet almost at one with his surroundings.

March 12, 2009

Reaching Toward the Light

This little flower ventures from it’s homely bulb pushed down into the earth one hopeful autumn day.

Months later, scarcely noticed and without fanfare, this harbinger of spring pushes up through a warm blanket of bark mulch as winter lingers in the air. Almost alone in the flowerbed so early in the season, it emerges, persistently becoming what it was created to be. 

One morning, as spring approaches, its colors shine in the chilly morning sunshine. In perfect symmetry its blossom stretches toward the light and extends its petals in a posture of prayer and praise.

My heart is full of thankfulness as I admire this little flower. I stretch myself from the warmth of my nest and venture out in the morning chill to capture this image.  

Studying its form I reflect on my own journey this Lenten season. It takes me from within my own dim world of warmth and comfort and asks me to look at a world of colors and forces beyond my control. On this journey of new awareness I strive to stay focused as I become more vulnerable to the world around me. I pray that I might always, with an attitude of thankfulness and praise, reach toward the light as I persistently become what I was created to be.


March 5, 2009

Caffé Colors

I love to stop and take a break from the day over a cup of good coffee. One of my favorite places to do that is Caffé Piccolo Paradiso in downtown Camas. The café is filled with interesting bits and pieces to spark a memory or a dream.

Light from the large front windows glows on the warmly textured patina of the sunshine colored walls. Italian dice are laid on the table with a backgammon game underneath a map of Italy. Used books line shelves on one wall and bottles of wine adorn another. There are tables at different heights and a variety of chairs to settle into from austere to upholstered. Conversation gently lingers in the air as the tables fill and empty with friends and customers coming and going.

I visit Caffé Piccolo Paradiso with my camera and a notepad. I never know for sure which will be the medium of choice until I am there. Today I ordered a Shot in the Dark with some tiny Italian cookies. The cookies made great subjects for my camera with the warm décor of the café for a backdrop. The three of them on a small plate made an interesting study in composition. I nudged their arrangement as I soaked in the atmosphere. After a while I sampled the cookies and enjoyed their crisp texture and soft filling. They offered just a note of sweetness to the dark roasted flavor of my drink.

The images I took away with me are a reminder of what feeds my creative spirit.

February 23, 2009

Fortune of Love

This image was captured in the kitchen, where I spend a lot of my time these days. The sun filtered in the window to the side of my kitchen table and gave a wonderful glow to the crisp fortune cookie I had just baked, and then broken. I really enjoyed the message on the fortune inside. Shakespeare was such a master of language and a clever poet. It was a perfectly fortunate quote.

To enhance this image I simply increased the saturation of the colors to make the blue in the little dish pop in the sunlight. I filtered the image to add interest to the shading and texture of the cookie, but not too much, as I didn't want to lose the definition of the script on the sentiment inside. After all "Love is not love that alters...." and yet I think it is sometimes wise to filter and saturate, don't you?