Thursday, April 26, 2012


In response to the wrtiers' prompt: Post a photo journal of what Spring is looking like in your neck of the woods!  on Mama's Losin' It blog.

(Update: 05/08/2012  Oops! I forgot to put my link on Mama Kat's blog.  But, no matter, I wanted to post these photos anyway,)

Spring is my favorite season.  I'm not fond of either hot or cold weather ---we have much of both in my area ----so that leaves Spring or Fall for my favorite weather.  I am happiest when I can wear a long-sleeved T-shirt or a sweatshirt without a jacket.

Tulips and daffodils from our garden.
Although Fall can be exceptionally beautiful, it is the time of year when things are hybernating, dying and decaying. Days are getting shorter.

I much prefer Spring, when nature seems to come alive again and the days lengthen day by day.  I know Spring is just around the corner when daffodils and tulips start to poke through the ground. I love seeing the birds return, small buds, then blossoms, and finally green foliage on the trees.

I know we can put away the snow shovels, winter coats, boots and gloves, at least for a while.

That being said, the winter of 2011-2012 was a very mild one here.  Whereas we usually have weeks of high temperatures in the teens or low 20s and sometimes lows hovering just above or below zero, this past winter we had many weeks when temperatures were 20-30 degrees above normal. In January and February ---traditionally our coldest months ---there were days when we could take walks without coats.  Spring flowers were breaking through the soil in February instead of late March or early April. This year, most of March felt more like late April or May.  We had summer temperatures of over 80 degrees on several days.

We usually spend many winter days shoveling snow.  This year, there was almost no snow at all. I used a snow pusher to move an inch or two only 3 times.  Most of the time, there was just a trace or perhaps 1/4 inch, that either melted or blew away on its own.

I've been playing around with still-life photography.
My spring flowers made perfect models.
But the problem with early blooms is that after the trees and flowers had blossomed early this year, we had frost one night and the blossoms were ruined.  This does not bode well for a good harvest on fruit trees.

Yet, if I could live in eternal Spring, I would be very happy indeed.

These photos were taken in my neighborhood or at local parks.

Our Magnolia tree before the frost.

The Magnolia tree bloomed much earlier than normal, so one would expect a night of frost to ruin its blossoms, but the frost has gotten to it every year we have lived here (25 yrs.)  It seems that this tree was a poor choice for our climate, but it was here when we purchased our property.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Photography is in the eye of the beholder...Part 2

In my previous post, I showed the 12 photos chosen by my instructor to hand in for my final grade in the photography class I am taking.

I would definitely have chosen some of the same ones, but there were others I would have chosen instead of the ones he did.

Below find 12 additional photos that I particularly liked from my photo class:
(If you click on any photo you will see enlargements of all images, but the photos that are horizontal will be scrunched from left to right, in a fun-house distorted way. Ugh)
"Afternoon Glow"
As I turned a bend on a walking trail one late afternoon, this is what I saw. I loved the shadows on the ground and the yellow orange of the winter-dried grass aglow in the setting sun against the cloudless blue sky.
"Boney Joe"
I called Boney Joe's Tattoo Parlor to ask if I could take some photos.
An employee assured me it would be OK, but when I arrived a few days
later, no one knew anything about my call.  But everyone was friendly
and allowed me to take photos. I didn't know the owner, but he looked
exactly as I expected a tattoo artist to be.
"From the Sea"
For my still life shots, I placed mat board across my sink and another propped in front of the faucet (which I turned back as far as it would go) because the 3-ringed florescent light above the sink seemed to be the best indoor light in my home. For additional light and to create shadows, I held a trouble light.  For this image, I used a metallic textured mat board, turned off the ceiling light and placed the trouble light on the counter to my right. Instead of using a tripod, I hand-held the camera directly above the objects. I love how the light captured the textures of the varied shells which I had picked up on the shores of the Outer Banks in North Carolina nearly 30 years ago. (As an artist, I have learned not to throw anything away. As a housekeeper, I am a disaster.)
"Library Windows"
I took this shot on a cold, rainy day. The image one can see through the window is not as interesting as what is on the inside.  I like how the warm colors of the paint, light, and wood contrast with the drab cool colors of the outdoors., and I like the reflection of the light appearing in the windows. This is not a spectacular image, but I like its simplicity and composition. 
For my first few still life photos, I tried to put too many things into the images.  I decided I needed to aim for simplicity.  I shopped for fruits and vegetables, and purchased this placemat. I like how the placemat's lines draw one into the photo. I lined up pears in various ways, but preferred this composition with four in a row with one red pear on its side and off-center. In the end, my simpler photos are more interesting and elegant than the ones with more objects in them.  The mat board behind the pears was actually a grayish blue, but the warm trouble light I used to create shadows made it look rather mauve in the photo.  In Photoshop, I changed it back to blue, but liked this warmer hue better.
This is the image of the front window of the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh. I like how the image is multi-layered. One sees the window, as well as the museum's café through the window, the fountain immediately outside the window, the street which is beyond the steps in front of the museum, as well as buildings across the street. One of our assignments was "Through the Window." I am guessing that most people assumed the photos had to be taken from the inside to the outside. But I liked seeing "Through the Window" from the outside to the inside and to the outside again in this image.
At the same park where I took "Afternoon Glow", I found a shelter with dozens of picnic tables,  I placed my camera near my feet, facing the sun. I liked the patterns of the table legs and the shadows they created on the concrete floor.  Since this image was almost all light and shadow, it was a good photo for my "Black and White Light" assignment.
"Spring Chickens"
I used a few dinnerware items of clear glass for many of my still-life photos.  I liked that there were no patterns on the dishes to distract from the objects placed in or on them. I wanted a dark surface for this photo. Besides black, the darkest mat board I had was a green faux suede which I thought would go well with the daffodil. I wanted to create reflections, so I place a sheet of glass on top of it.  Only when I viewed the photo on my computer monitor did I realize that it almost looks like green marble. Again, for this image, simplicity created a great composition. Egg shapes are so elegant.  No wonder Fabregé created his bejeweled eggs for the Russian  Tzar.
I wanted to take some photos in auto wreckers' junkyards. I didn't call ahead because I thought they would refuse, but figured if I showed up and they saw I am a harmless older woman, they would allow me to take photos. Apparently most junkyards are open only by appointment. No one was at any of the locations, despite their "open for business" times listed online. I thought about calling from my cell, but figured they wouldn't show up if no sale was possible.  Most had chain-link fences surrounding their wrecks. At one place the fence had been pulled back enough that I could have slipped through, but decided I could be arrested for trespassing if someone showed up.  At one place, I saw this taxi on top of other cars not too far from the fence.  So I positioned my camera lens between the links of the fence and took several shots. On this dreary day, there was little color in the photo, except for the taxi, so I kept the taxi yellow and made the rest black and white. Everyone who sees this image wonders why the taxi, which on the surface looks to be in rather good shape, ended up here.  I questioned that when I took this photo and my husband asked the same question..
"The Artist"
My grandniece loves to dress up. Almost every time I visit, she is dressed like a princess, cowgirl, or ballerina.  One afternoon, after she and her mother arrived home (from kindergarden and work) I followed Sarah around snapping photos of her dressing up, drawing, playing with toys, demonstrating her yoga moves, changing outfits and generally hamming it up for the camera.  I'm not sure if she is hyperactive or not, but I was worn out following her around. After every photo I took, she wanted to see it on the camera's screen and had much to say about the quality of each shot.
"The Clearing"
When I did a 180 degree turn-around from where I shot "Afternoon Glow" this is what I saw. I liked the yellow-gold clearing surrounded by the tangled texture of trees and shrubs with just a hint of a house on the right. This was taken in winter (albeit a very mild one for this area.) Many dried leaves still held onto tree branches. I liked the warm browns, golds, and rust colors.

I drive under a highway here several times a week. On several occasions in the late afternoon, I noticed the great sunlight hitting the concrete.  The concrete was light gray and the winter shrubbery was nearly gray, so I changed the image to gray scale to maximize the light and shadows.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Photography is in the eye of the beholder....

I've been taking a digital photography class at my local community college.  As a senior citizen, I can take credited classes for free ---and since I am interested in so many things and I love to learn, I take one class each semester. I could audit the class for no credit and not be required to do assignments or take tests, but I always take classes for credit because I know I will put more effort into them.

So this week, I had to choose some of my best photographs and my instructor chose the 12 I would turn in for a grade.

Everyone has his/her own tastes, likes and dislikes, so of course, he chose different photos than I would have chosen, but still he was choosing from what I considered my best 50 or so.

I had taken more than 4000 photos since January ---most of which I threw out. Some were blurred, poorly composed, so dark or light they could not be corrected.  But I always took multiple shots of the same subject or scene, so most of the rejects were simply the photos that weren't as good as a similar one.

We had to include in our 12 photos at least one of each of these assigned topics:
Composition (almost any photo could fit into this category)
• Black and white light
• Landscape
• Through the window
• Still Life
• Environmental portrait  ---this is a portrait of someone in his/her natural setting (home, work, hobby)

Our instructor's particular likes tend toward photos that have strong light and those that have an indefinable "something special" that make them unique.

So here are the twelve photos I will submit for my grade. Click on any one to see a larger version. The text will be easier to read, too.

Please leave a comment on which are your favorites and why. At the end of this post is a link to more photos I took specifically for my class.

If I had made the choice of what to hand in, I would have chosen "Bleacher Seats," "Light," "Slide Show," "Walking Trail," and "Reap What You Sew." But I may have chosen others for the other 7 photos.  Click HERE to see 12 more of what I consider to be my best photos taken specifically for my class.

Leave a comment or either post to tell me which are your favorites and why.