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Learning to See, Learning to Be, part 2

June 10th, 2017

Learning to See, Learning to Be, part 2

I revisited my calla lily that I talked about in the last post. Previously, I was drawn to a black and white version, and I still am. But I also wanted to work on the color image a bit more. I knew if I could tone down some of the yellows and the color, that I might find that the color did enhance things also. It was actually harder to process this in color and to create the image I found pleasing. But finally, I did. I mentioned in my last post that I had noticed the brown tip on the flower, a bit of an imperfection. I could have "fixed it" in photoshop, but . . . I noticed as I worked in color, that the brown tip started to look a bit like the beak of a bird to me, adding to the illusion of a bird in flight. So I left the little brown tip in the image. Sometimes imperfections actually add something beautiful.

For this image, I have not added a texture to the background, only because I have not yet found a texture I like with it. I think that printing it on a textured paper will enhance it greatly. The background is not blown out, and so will have a beautiful touch of color. It might also look nice printed on metal with a glossy surface. Then it will capture that light shining through the petals beautifully. And the background will be a creamy beautiful gloss. I am also experimenting with printing it on glass, and not having a backing, so that the image is translucent if placed in a window. I have to find a different printer to create this.

Sometimes it helps to revisit things and not be too quick to make judgments.

This calla lily image, "Calla Curves" can be found in my gallery, "Flowers and Greens".

Learning to See, Learning to Be

June 10th, 2017

Learning to See, Learning to Be

Mindful photograph involves slowing down, looking deeply, and then looking again, even more deeply. I practiced mindful photography to create this calla lily image, "Grace". I had purchased a pot of blooming calla lilies to brighten my kitchen window sill. I was enjoying watching each lily bloom and unfold, day by day. I decided to photograph them, and brought them outdoors into lovely light, on an overcast morning. Overcast days bring even beautiful light, and no shadows. I photographed a few different flowers, trying different angles, and studying the lines and curves of the flowers, and the ways the light interacted with each flower. I started to see more and more. Some of the flower tips had tiny brown spots I hadn't noticed before, as did this one. I started to judge the brown spots as imperfections, but then let go of this judgment, and focused on the beauty and the emotion of each flower. This particular flower reminded me of a bird taking off in flight. I started paying attention to the flower's lines and curves. I photographed it against the overcast sky, and allowed the sky to become almost blown out, creating a white background. I was very moved by the curve of the flower, and its petal "wings", the light shining through the flower, and the feeling of grace it evoked in me.

I have discovered that mindful photography has helped me to see everything in my life more fully and more deeply. And this practice of "learning to see" helps me also learn to be more present, and simply to be.

Some mindful photographers follow a practice of minimizing processing of images. I prefer to process images, practicing mindfulness as I do so. In this case, I processed this image, from a RAW file, in the digital darkroom. Once I brought out its beauty, by adjusting exposure, highlights, vibrancy, clarity, contrast, and other such technical things, I loved it even more. But then I noticed that in some ways the color detracted from the image. The lily is white, with green streaks, and some yellow. The color was competing with the graceful curves and lines. So I experimented with processing this image as a black and white image, and was even more pleased with the result. It looks beautiful also with a plain white background, from the almost blown out sky behind it. However, I wanted to experiment with adding a texture to the background, to give the flower a bit of "framing". Photographs are not like our eyes. We see a beautiful flower, and focus on the flower, and ignore the background. Our gaze "holds" the flower. But in a photograph, there is simply the flower on the paper, and the edge of the paper or frame. I thought that this flower would be enhanced by adding a texture to the background to hold the flower and give it some depth. After trying several different textures, I settled on this composition. I might play around with this some more, but for now, I am pleased with this result.

Practicing mindful photography involves creating images mindfully, paying attention on purpose to the entire field of sensory and emotional experience. Practicing mindful photography also involves processing images mindfully. Practicing viewing images mindfully, noticing how our eyes flow through an image, and how we react and respond to an image, is also part of mindful photography. This last aspect helps us tweak images and add creative touches, such as deciding an image will be enhanced by eliminating color, or by adding a texture and special effect.

In an upcoming post, I will explore the many different aspects involved in mindful photography.

This calla Lily image, "Grace" can be found in my gallery, Black and White" as well as my gallery, "Flowers".

Unwind Magazine article

June 10th, 2017

Unwind Magazine article

Here is the picture of me from the first page of the article in Unwind Magazine, a Florida Keys publication. "Exploring Nature One Frame At A Time" features the work of a few Keys photographers. The author, Carmen Alex, was kind enough to feature a picture of me also on the first page.

The article has been posted online at: http://www.flkeysnews.com/living/unwind/article155072364.ece/binary/UnwindMagazineMay.pdf. The article is on page 8 of the online edition, and page 15 of the print edition.

My photography in the Florida Keys is featured in an article

June 10th, 2017

My photography in the Florida Keys is featured in an article

The article, "Exploring Nature One Frame At A Time", which features me as one of a few Florida Keys photographers is now posted online. The article appears on the May 2017 print edition of Unwind Magazine, and can be found on page 8 of 17 of the digital copy at this website: http://www.flkeysnews.com/living/unwind/article155072364.ece/binary/UnwindMagazineMay.pdf. You can also google "Unwind Magazine, Florida Keys", and go to the Unwind Magazine site, at flkeysnews.com. Once on the Unwind Magazine website, click on the May 2017 issue and go to page 8 of the digital edition, or page 15 of the print edition.

Another local photographer, Carmen Alex, wrote the article, and was kind enough to photograph me for the article. While she was photographing me, I was photographing "My Booby Buddy". Booby birds are not native to the Florida Keys, but sometimes, especially when injured, they land on boats out in the sea. One such bird with an injured wing was brought into the Florida Keys Wild Bird Center for rehabilitation. I was fortunate to have a lovely prolonged encounter.

"My Booby Buddy" can be found in my gallery, Wildlife, as well as my "Florida Keys" gallery.

Intentional Camera Motion and Mindful Photography

April 23rd, 2017

Intentional Camera Motion and Mindful Photography

When I was in Key West recently, I had lots of fun playing around with intentional camera motion (ICM). Walking around Duval St., I simply centered myself, enjoyed strolling with my husband, and tried to open to the erratic energy and flow of Key West at night. Lots of people and bicycles and bright lights. It is very easy to create intentional camera motion images at night, and easy to create interesting compositions when there are lots of lights and people. Some of my inspiration comes from the night ICM street photography images of the noted photographers, Ernst Haas and Harry Callahan. By moving your camera as you press the shutter button, you are literally painting with light.

To create ICM images simply be sure your shutter speed is set to around 1/10. It helps to play around in each environmental setting where you find yourself and see what camera setting works best for the environmental setting. It's easy to get the camera settings right for slow shutter speed ICM at night. During the day it's more challenging because the light is so bright. With bright daylight, you can accomplish selecting a slow shutter speed by setting the aperture to f 22 or higher. And if that is not enough, then add a neutral density filter (I often use .9 in the bright FL light) to your lens, and you are good to go. If you have never used a neutral density filter, it's worth giving them a try. They are relatively inexpensive, and are also very useful for creating slow shutter speed images, on a tripod, creating those silky water effects, etc. With iPhones, you can download various slow shutter speed apps and create ICM images even with your phone.

You can see more of my ICM images in my gallery, "Impressionistic and ICM".

Key West Contemplative Photography

April 22nd, 2017

Key West Contemplative Photography

During a recent trip to Key West, I spent a few early morning and early evening hours walking the streets and photographing. Even though, my husband and I had many things we planned and did, I practiced being more in the moment with my photography walks. Rather than having a destination, or a goal, I set out walking rather aimlessly and looking around the streets near the lovely inn where I stayed. I photographed whatever moved me in the moment. Key West is a visual feast, from colorful people, amazing Victorian houses and front porches, roosters roaming the streets, tropical foliage, iconic locations full of history, to glorious sunsets and lively moments at Mallory Square. I have set up a separate gallery for some of these images on my website.

I was mesmerized by the welcoming front porches of Key West and thoroughly enjoyed taking in every visual detail, and every composition that presented itself. Then, walking through a busy intersection, a decrepit building housing a floral shop caught my eye. It spoke volumes about life and work in Key West and seemed very magical to me. After viewing so many lovely and inviting front porches, I unconsciously began to develop the goal of finding more and "better" inviting front porches. This decrepit floral shop woke me up out of my trance and pulled me into the moment. "Look. See what is right in front of you. Right here!"

I also started playing around with intentional camera motion on busy, touristy Duval St. at night. More about these moments and images in the next blog.

What Is Mindful Photography?

April 21st, 2017

What Is Mindful Photography?

I practice mindful photography. Mindfulness is a natural ability that we all have. It involves paying attention, on purpose, with all of our senses, in the present moment. It also involves suspending most judgments about whether the moment is good or bad, and suspending our normal thought chatter. Of course, we use wise judgment. If our house is on fire, we use wise judgment that leads to taking action and running out of the house. Once we have taken wise action, mindfulness involves suspending all the extra judgments our minds tend to add on to experience.

When creating photography images mindfully, I first slow down and experience the moment, taking in all sensory input, but especially the visual field. If I am drawn to look at ripples in the water for example, I pay attention to them, noticing the changing colors and motion, noticing reflections on the water, and what I can see under the water. I also open up my field of awareness and look at even what is behind me and pay attention to my emotions.

Mindfulness is a natural state, but it has competition from other states, especially "busy mind" states. The reason we train in mindfulness is that our minds are also trained by our cultural upbringing to constantly think about other things, darting to the past and the future, and making judgments. For example, while I am looking at a ripple on the water, my mind starts to get busy with a chain of thoughts and judgments. “Oh that was a beautiful ripple.” “Oh, this one is not as good.” “That leaf floating on the water is marring this ripple.” “What will I cook for dinner later?” “I want to plan my next vacation, maybe I’ll go to the Grand Canyon.” “But then I’ll need to get a new and better camera.” And so on. Cultivating mindfulness involves training our minds to notice when our minds wander, and then following these instructions. "Relax." "Release", where the mind has gone. "Return", to our chosen focus, in this case paying attention to this water ripple. Cultivating mindfulness in the flow of our lives is supported by mindfulness practices, such as mindfulness meditation and mindful photography.

Many artists cultivate mindfulness, often without even having a label for it. I find it’s nice to be aware of mindfulness and to cultivate it more purposefully and deeply. Andy Karr, one of the authors, along with Michael Wood, of "The Practice of Contemplative Photography: Seeing the World with Fresh Eyes", explains more about this practice in this article here: https://www.lionsroar.com/how-to-practice-contemplative-photography/”. Julie Dubose also writes more about mindful or contemplative photography in her book, "Effortless Beauty: Photography as an Expression of Eye, Mind and Heart".