I have been working on improving my layering skills. A photographer friend and I are exchanging "concept" or "idea" images that include at least three layers. It means for me that I have to think about/feel how the concept or idea can be represented visually and then find or take images that help do that. It's an interesting shift in process for me. Usually I shoot and process more intuitively. Hopefully it will help me grow in several ways.
What is one way you want or need to grow?
I loved the whirlys hanging outside stores in Victoria, BC a few weeks ago. Of course I took pictures. For this one I have combined three different shots to put more color into the image.
I'd like it to be profound but the truth is that I love color. It brings me joy. Maybe that's profound enough. Hope your week brings you much joy!
I have been reflecting lately on patterns and how one frames patterns in such a way that they are photographs with some appeal. I remembered from an old Dewitt Jones video, an image of a cultivated field of flowers with a pail left in it. The pail was of course in the lower left hand corner where the lines for the "rule of thirds" crossed. He was making the point that uninterrupted patterns can seem boring or tedious but a break in the pattern can make the pattern into a very attractive photograph.
This particular image was taken at the Mayan ruins at Altun Ha in Belize, about 30 miles north of Belize City. I think it is the steps of the Temple of the Green Tomb though I am not totally sure. It is one of the buildings around Plaza A for sure. The white top to each step is a break in the pattern of rocks and also forms a pattern of its own. If you look closely you will also some little green sprigs which interrupt the pattern too. Apparently the wind or shoes carried seeds onto the steps which lodged in the crevices and sprouted, holding on for dear life.
The patterns of our lives give needed structure. And we also need the interruptions to help bring out the beauty. There may even be little seeds, ideas, thoughts, feelings, visions that take root amid the patterns and sprout to bring another kind of beauty and perhaps even some humor.
I have been experimenting with making mandalas in Photoshop from some of my images. This is one of my recent attempts.
According to dictionary.com, the word "mandala" comes from the Sanskrit word for circle. Mandalas are found in both Hindu and Buddhist art. They are also found in a lot of adult coloring books today. I think of a mandalas as circular meditation or reflection images.
You might want to spend a few moments staring at this image and see what arises
I was in an interesting conversation recently about reframing. I thought about how often abstract photography is our normal way of seeing the world reframed or framed differently. There is an infinite number of ways to take a picture of a dining room table. Sometimes we take the picture with the empty chairs around it, or perhaps we take it with the Thanksgiving meal on it. Maybe it's of the family gathered around for a birthday celebration or a close-up of a pleasant detail.
I was staying in a beach front condo and was struck by the way the lines of the chair backs around the dining room table intersected with the lines of color on the beach and the reflections on the table top. Rather than framing the whole table in the shot, I reframed the scene so the intersecting lines made an interesting pattern. It is called "Beach Stripes".
Often in our lives we think something happened a certain way, that is we frame it as we saw it. Later we may get new information or insights about motivation and realize "Oh wait! Maybe it wasn't that way after all." We can reframe not only our photographic images but also theemotional images and thoughts that are a part of our lives. Is there something in your life these days that is inviting some reframing?
It was a beautiful warm sunny day at the beach, made all the better by the wind which was whipping up the ocean waves. I had a wonderful time watching the ever changing colors of the waves and taking photographs. Finally the sun began to set behind some clouds turning the sky into muted shades,
I remembered that day when I was processing this photograph, taken at an antique mall of some linen dish towels. I call it "Inner Day at the Ocean".
Spend a moment looking at this photograph before reading the following paragraphs. What do you see in it? What if any meaning does it have for you?
Naming a photograph is an interesting process. Names can direct the way viewers see and understand an image and thus be helpful in directing attention to certain elements. Of course sometimes the photographer may want the viewer to view and be moved (or not) by the image through their own eyes exclusively without help from the photographer.
The name of today's image is "Inner Landscape". For me it reminds me of a peaceful time on sand with a rosy sky in the background, and it speaks of calm and serenity. Is it an actual beach? No, I shot it in an antique mall.
Do you feel differently about it now that you have seen the name and know something of my take on it? What is in a name anyway?Read More
This image is unusual in that I so rarely make a black and white photo. I sometimes laughingly say that about 1 out of every 1000 of my images is in black and white. I love color. However, there are some images that just simply have to be black and white to say what they are wanting to say, and this is one such image.
It was dusk when I shot it. The light was fading though the bare branches were still distinguishable against the sky. I was experimenting with camera movement a lot this shoot. The movement here accentuated the interplay of the light of the sky and the dark of the tree branches, and so it is not quite a tree or sky but something else. For me it somehow involves shifting and settling. I call it, "As the Dusk Settles , , ,"
Of course it is an abstract. So different people feel different things from it. What comes up for you when you see it?Read More
It's funny how an image comes to you. I was shooting in an area with stores and restaurants and saw a pot in the window. I was caught by the way the light cut across it and by the shades around it. So I took the shot. Later in post processing, I cropped it a bit and really like this image.
Thinking of a name is becoming for me an exercise in inner exploration. As names pop into my head, I discover why the image caught my attention in the first place and often discover a deeper meaning. Working on a name for this image, I kept feeling like the image was about the light.
We are now in the season of waiting--waiting for Christmas, remembering that Love has come into the world. I was taken to the phrase, "Light in the darkness". And that became the name of this image.Read More
This is a fun image I took at Cheekwood Botanical Gardens. I was intrigued by the shapes and by the various shades of the same color caused by the way the light hits this piece of shaped or stamped metal. One person who looked at it saw an alien; another saw a Celtic cross. What do you see?
Why do we take the images we take? What factors influence our choices of what we make images of? How do our personal history, our culture and belief systems effect what we photograph and what we see? I've sometimes seen a photo and said--to myself or aloud--"It would never have occurred to me to photograph that." Why DO we see what we see?
Back to this photograph. What did you see? Why did you see in it what you saw? It's a fun question and one that might produce some insight if you stay with it for a bit.
Summer before last, I was on a canoe trip in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. It started raining about noon. My tent mate and I had headed for our tent. We both took a nap. When I woke up it was still raining. She was still asleep. I wanted to take pictures--but it was raining. As I lay there on my sleeping bag and air mattress trying not to disturb my still-asleep tent mate, I though of the workshop I had attended a few months earlier lead by well known nature photographer Byron Jorjorian. I asked myself, "What would Byron do in this situation?" Instantly I knew. He would be looking for images in the tent. So I started making images in my tent. What I learned again with new force is that that there are interesting images all around us when we have eyes to see.
A couple of weeks ago as I was sitting in my big chair in our living room, I noticed how the lines of our stairs and the poles that hold up the handrail came together in a pleasant way. I was so taken by the beauty of these simple stairs that I have walked up and down a million times that I took a photograph. Then I played with the image of course and the result is this weeks blog image. Now the lines of the poles and stairs and moldings come together in doubly interesting ways.
May you see simple beauty around you this week and may it inspire appreciation and playfulness.
Sometimes I get fascinated by lines and the way they come together. This image is of a building in downtown Nashville--The Pinnacle Building. I was fascinated by the lines, the lights and the different sized windows. I choose not to photograph the whole building but this one section, abstracting it. After I downloaded it and looked at it on my computer, I had a sudden urge to turn it upside down. It sat in my computer for a few weeks upside down. But then in a"What if . . .?" mood, I turned it on it's side. Shapes appeared that I had not seen before, The long pointed part became more prominent. There were diamonds all over.
It's a different view. For me part of photography is learning to see things that I used to miss--to see from a different perspective, to be attentive to what really is rather than what I "expect" to see.
What about you? How are you learning to see beyond what you assume or expect to what is really there?
Lately I have been pondering why we see what we see. When I was in college, I went on a canoe trip in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in northern Minnesota. We would start out on a lake in the morning in our canoes, and the leader would say, "The portage we are headed for is over there to the right at the end of the lake." I would look and look and couldn't image that there was any way we could get through the woods to the next lake in the area to which he was pointing. But when we got to the shore, we would see a sign for the portage. After this happened several times, I asked him how he did it. He said something like, "Well there are maps and the compass which help, but after you do it for a while, you begin to notice the little differences--a very slight break in the trees, a certain way the shore looks and so on. You learn how to see the portages."
We learn to see because of what we do, because of our culture, because of needs we have. Sometimes we see simply because we expect things to be a certain way. And sometimes we don't see things because we are not expecting them.
I have learned the truth of the oft cited Dorothea Lange quote, "The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera." Using a camera has taught me to see many different things and in many more ways since I began making images. I see light and shadows more; I see colors and their interplay differently. I notice more. And yet there are things I still miss. How can I--and perhaps you--be open to seeing more and more deeply?
So what did I see when I took this image? At the monthly flea market, I saw light switch plates and plates that go around electrical outlets stacked together. I was drawn to the unusual curly tops and raised shapes. Later I made an image of an artificial sparkly gold feathery leaf. In the computer after I got home, I was layering various images together to see how they looked. I liked the way the feathery leaf looked on top of the switch plate pile perhaps giving it a patina of age. What do you see in it?
One of my goals for this year is to learn more about putting two or more photographs together or compositing. Lately I have been waking up in the middle of the night unable to go back to sleep for awhile. One such night instead of doing sudoko, I decided to reread two books by Andre Gallant Dreamscapts and Inspirations. They inspired me to play with some of the images I had recently made.
This image is one of my favorites from that time of play. I duplicated the original [of antlers] and rotated the copy ninety degrees. Then I moved the copy onto the original and reduced the opacity. I've named it "Prayer for Stability and Healing". The layers speak to me of added strength. The cracks remind me of my own bone broken from a fall several weeks ago and the transparency of the top layer, of the mysterious power in our bodies which inclines us toward healing.
May you find that which invites you to play and perhaps to find deeper healing.
This image is one of my favorites. I like the texture of the tulips and a sense that they go on forever. I was particularly touched by the white ones.
The image didn't start out to be all white. In the original image there were beds of various colored tulips, the bed of white ones among them. I wasn't especially fond of the original image. As a photographer friend of mine used to say, "It didn't go anywhere." Then I noticed the white tulips. Wow. So I cropped the image to preserve just the white tulips, and this image is the result.
I call this process "mining" an image. Like panning for gold, I look at an image for a part that might be especially interesting or intriguing. I then crop out the rest of the image, sometimes trying a variety of crops until I find one that I like. Occasionally there might even be two sections that will work as different images, but I feel lucky just to find one.
We can do this in areas of our lives too. For instance, as my broken arm is healing I have been collecting (mining) what I have learned during this time. Perhaps you'll be mining some aspect or time in your life soon. Happy mining!
The third category of abstracts is Composite Abstracts. Composites are images made from putting two or more images together. Composites are not necessarily abstracts, but, of course, some are. Andre Gilliant, a Canadian photographer, often puts images together in such a way that they take on a dream-like fee.lHe calls them Dreamscapes.
This image, "Cactus Dream" doesn't have so much of a dream-like feel to me as a wind-blown feel or even one of sand swirling around the cactus. I had been playing with finger paints and created the background of "blurps". I liked it and wanted to try it as a background to a composite. When I put it with this close-up image of a cactus flower, I liked what I saw. I like the colors together, the combination of the cactus hooks and the "blurps", and the swirling feel of the image.
It's interesting to think about the various layers of our lives of which we are the composite. What do the various parts/layers of our lives contribute to who each of us is? Does the background come out stronger at time and change who we are? Perhaps there are even times when the background is very dim. And is the over-all look and feel the one you want? It's an interesting metaphor to play with.
My August 9th post was the beginning of a set of reflections on abstract photography. This is the second reflection on camera movement abstract photography. This kind is done by moving the camera on purpose while the shutter is open to get an image that is more about patterns, colors, textures, shapes and the feelings that are elicited. This image is a camera movement abstract.
Of course one of the skills required for this type of abstract is how to keep the shutter open for the length of time the movement occurs. This is often accomplished by the use of a neutral density filter and/or settings in the camera such as ISO, shutter speed, etc. The camera or lens is then moved in various ways to produce various images. Post processing is almost always useful. Cropping to keep only the most interesting and engaging part of the image is often used also.
Some photographers from whom I have learned about camera movement abstracts are Dewitt Jones, Mark Lissick, Andre Gilliant and Charles Needle.
The image posted here is called "Holy Whirl". I took it one autumn day near where I live when the leaves were at their peak. I love the bright colors and the energy in the image. It speaks to me of excitement and living life to the full.
My apologies to you who have been awaiting my next reflection. I broke my right (dominant) arm a couple of weeks ago, and using a keyboard one handed has been a challenge not to mention many other aspects of life like brushing my teeth, cutting my meat and so on. I’m learning a lot and among the things I’m learning are patience with the healing process and how much small kindnesses make a difference.
During this time, I have learned two photography related lessons. I went to Cheekwood with a friend. I didn’t take my camera because I couldn’t hold it. While we were there she took out her iphone and started taking pictures. I kept seeing things I wanted to photograph . Finally I took out my iphone too. Holding it in my left hand with my little finger supporting the iphone at the bottom and the first three fingers supporting it from the back, I could touch the shutter button with my thumb. I hadn’t planned on making images but I had to take them.
The other thing I have noticed is that I still keep seeing beauty and lines and textures and light, even when I’m not making images. I love the Dorothea Lange quote, "The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera." So the photo for this week is the one you see with your own eyes. May your life be especially enriched these next few days by what you “see”.