Thursday, January 29, 2015

Thoughts on Still Life Style (Be Still 52, #3)

Wedding Bud Vase
Only three weeks into the course, I can already tell that Kim Klassen's Be Still 52 is going to be a winner. This week's lesson was jammed full of all kinds of information and ideas. I chose to focus on two things from lesson #3: beginning to define my style and working with different textures in backdrops. I spent about two hours this morning shooting still lifes! I've got about 50 images still to process and cull through, but I wanted to share these first three with some thoughts on still life style. Kim shoots a lot of flowers, and I went out to the yard today to see if I could find any. I found one bud on my hydrangeas with which to work. "Wedding Vase Bud" is one of my favorite photographs from this morning's shoot. I like the focus, the cropping, lighting, and sense of peace. It is also very much in the same style as Kim's still life work.
Winter in California
Here's another of my favorite photographs from this morning's session. It features the same hydrangea bud, but this time positioned on one of my favorite props (an old wash board) and shot out doors on my back deck. This one feels much more like me - there's more saturated colors, a bit more quirkiness and more energy. It's still heavily influenced by Kim, in terms of focus, cropping and subject (the hydrangea), but it feels much more like me.
Boy's Life (taken on my ipad; unedited)
And, finally, here's one I took in my studio yesterday afternoon when I was digging out my washboard and looking for various props to include in a still life. It kindof fell together, and I really liked the composition. I didn't have my camera with me, but I had my ipad and decided to try taking a photograph with it. I really like the end result. It's go a bit of a journalistic feel to it. It tells a story. It feels almost like a mixed media/collage version of still life. Something that is very much me and hardly any Kim at all.
I don't think there's any right or wrong here. Just some thoughts on a journey which I am enjoying very much. If you take still life photography (or any photograph), do you have a style that you can identify? Which of these three photographs appeals to you? For long time readers, which one do you think is the most me?

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Pairs #4: One Pond, Two Stories (Winter Photo Scavenger Hunt)

Mermaid's Pool (#1 Reflection in Water)
Koi Pond (#8 A Fish)
I stopped by a seamstress friend's house the other day to drop off Clara'a letterman's jacket. She's sewing the sport patches on for me. When I entered her front gate, I noticed her beautiful little pond, and I thought the reflections would be perfect for Item #1 Reflection in Water for the Winter Photography Scavenger Hunt. Once home, I realized they also made a nice pair for Helena's weekly Pairs photography meme and also qualified for Item #8 in the Scavenger Hunt - a Fish! 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Sketchy Thoughts for Monday

I'm continuing my sketching practice this month, using a list of prompts from Athena. 
For the black and white prompt, I decided to try sketching Luna again, giving myself permission to do something that is more like an illustration that a realistic rendition.
I'm finding that what I really enjoy is working with my water colors, adding them to my basic sketches. I also find it important to start with a reference photograph but then let go and create an image that feels right to me.
For yesterday's prompt, I used the Frank Lloyd Wright quote which I feature on my blog and illustrated it with a Wright-inspired design.
There's about one week left in January, and I will keep sketching for the rest of the month and then probably look for another prompt list because I do find this a nice artistic outlet that I can do while watching television or listening to the radio. 

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Thoughts on Still Life, White Space and Light Room

I am taking and enjoying Kim Klassen's Be Still 52 photography course. This week, one of the ideas was to focus on creating a still life photograph with lots of white space. Long time blog readers know that I struggle with this concept. But, this week, I took a few deep breaths and managed to make peace with the concept in these photographs of an old Brownie camera that Clara's track coach gave me as a gift.
I am finding that I really enjoy setting up Still Life photographs . . . thinking through what props to use, what type of background, fiddling with my camera settings (so far, I've been using my fixed 50mm lens exclusively), finding the right angle, looking for the best light. 
For me, the missing element is still post-processing. I used to have PSE on my computer and a serviceable handle on how to use it. But that computer is long dead, along with (I fear) those brain cells. It seems like Light Room might be the best way to go these days, and I am slowly resigning myself to learning how to use it. I figure that the class is 52 weeks, so I have plenty of time to learn it.  Because I think all three of these photographs, but especially the last two, could be improved tremendously with some added texture. 
Thoughts on still life, white space and light room really appreciated - as well as feedback on these photographs.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Be Still 52 Week #2: In Search of Quiet

It's awfully hard for me to find a quiet moment in my house. I'm loud. My daughter's loud. My husband always seems to have the television on for background noise. I'm currently obsessed with listening to the podcast "Serial."
And then there's the puppy, who barks and plays and requires verbal correction. 
Often.
So, I had to put on my thinking cap and work hard to address this week's prompt in the Be Still 52 Class on Finding Quiet.
I looked about the house for items which symbolized quiet and thought through a color story to fit the mood. 
I managed a few photographs that I liked before all hell broke loose again in my house of noise. I'm really enjoying this still life practice and welcome all feedback on my photographs . . . it can be as simple as which one you like best or as complex as suggestions for better angles or crops. Thanks for visiting.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Pairs #3: B&W and Living Color

I spent some time recently taking photographs of the dogs with my iphone. I took a cute portrait of Luna and then turned it to black and white using instagram. I thought these two photographs would make a good entry for Helena's pairs photography meme. I'm afraid there will be many Luna entries in this meme this year. I hope you don't mind.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Be Still 52 - Week #1: Beginning Thoughts

I signed up for Kim Klassen's Still Life Photography class called "Be Still 52." I really enjoyed learning about Still Life photography last year in Cheryl McCain's Frugal Still Life Photography class and decided I wanted to continue that journey. Kim Klassen's class is a year long! I usually have trouble sticking with a project that long, but I'm going to give it a try.
I have enjoyed classes taught by Kim before and follow her blog. As she describes in the class registration link posted above, one of the reasons she started a still life photography practice was because it helped her through the life-altering experience of having a husband diagnosed with lymphoma and going through treatment with him. As long time blog readers know, that resonates hugely with me having "been there, done that" with Paul. (Yes, you get to be a bit irreverent when you've lived the experience).
So, for the first photograph for the course, I decided to honor our common journey and photograph the rosary which I brought to the hospital with me during Paul's treatment. I'm a pretty badly lapsed Catholic, but during certain moments, sitting in the hospital, seeking peace, I felt the need to pray. And to say the prayers of my childhood. So, I dug out this rosary that I had inherited from my Aunt Vera. And brought it with me to the hospital. 
I still keep it in my purse. The links have broken a bit and I rarely pull it out to pray. But I still feel its power to calm me, to bring stillness and peace when I need it. So I continue to carry it with me, recognizing the importance of peace and stillness in my life.
And, now, I am glad to have captured its essence and its story in words and pictures. Thank you Kim. I'm looking forward to what comes next . . .