Posts Tagged ‘seashore

03
Nov
14

Crafting our lives, part 2

This is a continuation of my blog from last week about creating community. Thanks for checking back.

As I have aged over these last 10 or so years, the idea of crafting my life became and has remained sharply focused. Perhaps it is perspective that is the gift of aging. This has allowed me to consider moves, changes both planned for and unexpected, with a bit of detachment. I don’t take things so personally and I hope that I offer compassion more easily than frustration or anger.

What has this to do with photography? I think that the same gift of perspective and a willingness to feel and express compassion are present in good photography. Perspective allows us to consider the whole scene as well as the details, angles, and different points of view. How then will we craft what is in front of us from what is presented to us? Life/photography is full of possibility! We see this when we detach from what is immediately presented and allow the scene or image to  sink into us. How will we greet it then? With anger, with frustration, or with compassion (even if just for ourselves) and allow the scene or situation to rest more easily as we observe, sense, and craft our response/photo?

This is a philosophical post. But it needn’t be heavy or plodding. I’ll leave you to ponder on these thoughts and just present you with some images from the late summer. Each of these was taken during a class I was teaching at the Pacific Northwest Art School or during a class that I assist each year with Arthur Meyerson. My time there each August is one of my favorite things that has been crafted into my life. (And here is the link for one of my classes there next year: The Photography of Intent) (And here is the other: The Fine Art Book)

The images are varied in subject matter, but looking at them now, with several months of detachment, allows me to see what value there is in them without emotional attachment…and yet, happily, it recalls for me the time that I spent crafting each of them. A warning: there will be a part 3 to this post! Until then, I hope you enjoy the images.

16
Nov
10

storing memory

I am writing from California while looking at the late afternoon sun falling over the vineyards.  It is warm and golden with the sweet sounds of birds in the olive trees. After a long summer the grass has turned green again following late October rains.  It is a peaceful place for a pause before I begin the rest of my journey to the East. It reminds me of my favorite story, Frederick The Mouse. I’m storing the memory of the warmth and light and scent. This way I can use it to sustain me over the winter and as a guidepost for my return.

After four years I have left Seattle. Work and family cares are calling me to the East Coast for a time so I am driving across the country. I’ll be taking a southerly route and making notes of all the places that I’ll want to visit and photograph on a return trip. Driving south from the Oregon/California border was torturous at times because I could not stop. The light in the olive groves on the fresh green grass was arresting.  The patterning, the color, the softness in the atmosphere….thinking of it all now brings the pain back of not being able to photograph it.  I think I will have many bittersweet moments like that on this trip. As a photographer I know well the law that demands we “photograph it now”. We can never duplicate the light we see or the emotion generated by a scene when we first discover it. It’s a life lesson isn’t it:  Carpe Diem….do not procrastinate…etc. But as it can not be helped, I will make the notes and plan to return.

Here are a few images from my trip to Florida last week. Photographing for Cindy, Simone, and Rosemary was a joy and one that I actually KNOW can be repeated. I’m looking forward to being in Florida again in February. I’ll harvest again the scent of the ocean, the call of the gulls and the chirps of the pipers while the atmosphere displays the orange, pink, purple and blue hues that announce the arrival and departure of the sun.

29
Jul
10

Please remove your shoes (I’m not talking about airline travel)

“Earth is crammed with heaven, Every common bush afire with God:

But only he who sees takes off his shoes.”

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

After three months of near constant travel and work I am back in Seattle for a week to catch my breath. I have a lot of work to complete and great events on the horizon, but I am going to stop for a bit and reflect on the heaven and bushes afire that I have seen during my latest travels.

The heaven brought forth was the meeting of dear friends in several spots in Europe.  I am so fortunate to have met and come to care deeply for people in many different places. Traveling to see them along familiar rail lines or unfamiliar highways through ripening summer fields was a source of great joy to me. Creating new memories while laughing, dining, or walking together will keep  us in an embrace until our next meeting or even if we are never to meet again. This, along with a few photographs, is my sustenance. The heart holds joy and after a while, will release suffering.

I often visit museums to see the same paintings time and time again. Viewing The Sower and the Place du Forum and one of Vincent’s self portraits with those piercing blue eyes felt just like greeting old friends, or perhaps the echo of those meetings…with a touch of wistfulness and the longing to talk again.

Van Gogh's self portrait from 1887

I had the great pleasure to see several really fine exhibits and one new (to me) museum.  In London I went to the brand new show at the Royal Academy titled Sargent and the Sea, and saw the Renaissance Drawings exhibit at the British Museum. Sargent and the Sea was a particular joy as it showed the artist in the beginning of his career, with paintings that exhibited vigor and freedom, what one might expect from a young man visiting seaside resorts around Europe. What was entirely unexpected was the quality and maturity of the work.  While we might be familiar with the glory of Sargent portraiture, the mastery of his early compositions is stunning.  The texture of and reflections in the wet sand that he created made me want to take off my shoes and wade into the painting. The side-light creating a corona around a child’s head made you feel the late afternoon sun, a feeling that you are caught between wanting to stay on the shore to take in the last rays of sun and warmth while beginning to think about dinner and rest.

Setting out to Fish, 1878, Corcoran Gallery of Art

The Renaissance Drawings exhibit at the British Museum was familiar territory for me as I have spent many hours in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. But there were delights: The painting of two cheetahs from about 1410 was a real surprise and it was eye opening to see the freedom of expression in the preparatory drawings that was rarely seen in a finished work. But to see the evolution of drawing from the early 1400’s to the height of the Renaissance was revelatory. The progressive refinement and use of perspective, texture, detail, and expression of movement and emotion all culminated in the masterpieces by Da Vinci, Titian, and Michelangelo that we revere.

Drawing/painting on vellum, c. 1410, Workshop of Giovannino de'Grassi

Where is the photography in all this? It’s in our awareness of every sight, every step, every line, every shadow, every bush afire. While looking at a canvas by Seurat at the Kroller-Muller museum I was thrilled to see three distinct compositions in one painting. While talking with my mother about the Sargent works I could see clearly the use of negative space, separation of elements, and side-light to highlight portions of the composition. This charged me, energetically, to go out and SEE more deeply. The inspiration I derive from the Masters of Painting and Sculpture feeds me and helps me to refine my ability to create whole engaging images. Having that experience while preparing for a camera club lecture provided great examples and re-ignited my passion for describing how we can expand our awareness by feeding our brains and our souls with the best imagery available to us.

The gift of awareness is the greatest gift we can offer ourselves.  Cultivate it.  Take off your shoes and touch the warmth of the soil and surf. You will reap an earth crammed with Heaven.

23
Jan
10

on shepherds and breathing life into art

Without tradition, art is a flock of sheep without a shepherd. Without innovation, it is a corpse.
Winston Churchill   

Family and close friends know that I am an ardent admirer of Winston Churchill.  Aside from his magnificent careers in politics and literature and that little matter of holding the candle for the free world for a time, Mr. Churchill was  a prolific and accomplished painter.  He had the ability to stop whatever he was doing and totally focus on his painting when he felt the need to step back from his tremendous burdens.  It was a comfort and a tonic to him his entire adult life.  Photography and writing give me that gift….now I’m going to add some bubbles. 

I’ve written about the impact that painting has on my photography and the way it opens my eyes and heart to see things new.  The visual history and legacies that have been left to us by artists since time began can inform and help to shape new work.  While reading a poem by Pablo Neruda, I saw an illustration today that I liked very much.  It has triggered my desire expand my thinking when I am photographing to consider subjects for other uses; for example textures as overlays, or patterns to give structure…and images, like poetry, as allusions.  This is not revolutionary, but it will help me to widen my field of view and express something that is new to me.   With Uelsmann and Caponigro and other masters in the field as shepherds, I’ll breathe some more life into my own journey. 

These are my first attempts to see with the idea of joining elements.

11
Dec
09

thawing out from road trip

I’m just back from a 4.5 day roadtrip that began in Healdsburg, California, and ended in Seattle.  I was joined by Rick Holt, fabulous image editing instructor, fellow teacher, and photo buddy.  Our plan was to photograph horses in Healdsburg at Debra and Dominique Barbier’s  vineyard and farm, then cruise the California coast by taking the back way  up and over to Mendocino and then following highway 101 all the way north to Astoria, Oregon.  We were hoping for coastal fog and mist to lend some atmosphere to sea stacks, redwood trees and California oak images.   

Horses?  Check.  Highway 101? Check.  Mist, fog, atmosphere? Nada.  We drove for 4.5 days and never saw a cloud in the sky.  Not one.  But the painfully cold temps did give us some unexpected photographer’s luck.  Ice coated grasses, hoarfrost covered forests and meadows, and delicately frosted leaves on the shoreline delighted us each morning.  We were both slightly unprepared for pre-dawn with wind and frigid temps, but in our “hey, we’re out shooting!!!” euphoria, it didn’t matter that much.  

I’m back in Seattle now with an invigorated passion for exploration and appreciation of serendipity.  Here’s a small gallery from the trip.  I’ll be posting more over the next several days and will talk about the specific subjects and locations. 

26
Oct
09

thinking of gifts today

Many early birthday wishes today (thank you!) have caused me to think about gifts.  This past summer, while enjoying a visit from my mother, we went to the Olympic coastline. I wanted to show my Mom the gorgeous reflections that wet sand can offer at sunset. The weather was perfect and we enjoyed a few stops along the way to photograph the lavender fields.  We had traveled 105 of the 109 miles to our destination when we rounded a corner, started down an incline, and ran SMACK into a fog bank. Not a wispy, oh it will blow over fog bank, an impenetrable wall of gray hanging mist.  The temperature dropped like a stone along with our hopes of photographing glorious pinks and magentas and oranges with deep blue sky and water.   We checked into our little ‘roughing-it’ cabin and decided to take a walk on the shore. 

The bracing sea air and the vibration of the surf on the shore worked on my mood and made me remember that there were photographs to be created.   I’ll let the photographic results speak to you as they will, but the most important thing I captured that night was a renewed commitment to remember a lesson I thought I knew:  a grateful heart accepts all as a gift.




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