Monday, October 10, 2011

Filling the Frame

The question is...what do I really want the viewer to see, when I post a photo?  In this case, I am struck with the intricate pattern of the euphorbia.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Light & Abstract - Spring!

Spring, spring, glorious spring!  The sun illumines the splendid little solitary redbud.

Tulips bloom their hearts out.

And it all looks wonderful even after a drenching spring rain.

The rain makes the grasses quiver with the raindrops

and the rose leaves glisten with globes of light.

which shimmer with reflections.

Even the film of rainwater in the bottom of the flowerpot captures an image of spring greenery.

In early morning light, the little redbud is a beacon.  Spring, glorious spring!

These assignments have been great fun;  they've offered a structure around which to practice.  I've learned a lot.  For one thing, I'm a lot clearer about aperture, although this still needs a lot of work.  I've learned some mechanics, such as how to make a collage in Picasa and how to make a diptich in Photoshop.  I've tried shooting at different times of day to experience the light, and I've tried using artificial light with a still-life setup.   Every one of these trials only lead to more questions, - but I guess that's a good thing! Thanks for it all.

And by the way...My favorite picture.  I like the color and the composition.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Last Sunday - Easter

Last Sunday was Easter Sunday, and we had a small family party at our daughter Francie's house.  Some of the grownups were missing, and no small children, alas, but we did have 3 small dogs who kept us entertained

Bailey, Kali, Roger

Things looked very lovely and springlike,and the food, a take-out ham dinner ordered from Gayle's, was much easier to prepare than usual.

Ham, asparagus, scalloped potatoes...YUM!

Andy, Johnny, and David
Francie, Jim, Peter, Andy again.

Cap with the canines

Dessert was a delicious lemon tart, also from Gayle's, topped with sugar chicks and strawberries.

A lovely ending to a happy Easter.

Color Story - RED!

Ah - the assignment is to focus on a color.  So - what color shall it be?  Green, the color of all the leaves of the forest that surround me?  Blue, my husband’s favorite?  Brown, to me so often lifeless and drab?  Yellow, a color I use very little? Or - how about red?  The color of fire, of blood, of strawberries. Yes, red.
First I decide to use only photos I take this week.  I could mine my photo archives, but I think I’ll make the challenge a little harder. I try to find red at my daughter's on Easter.  My daughter is in red,

but the Easter things are mostly pink and yellow.  I'll have to look at home.

So what can I photograph around here that’s red?  I look around and find lots of red.  There’s my gardening jacket, for example.

On my lighted display shelves in the kitchen there is more red.

And of course there's lots of red outside, albeit tempered by green.

Even the decaying camellia blossoms add a hint of red, with their cleanup aided by my little gardener.

The new growth at the base of the redwood tree is a deep bronzy red

which is echoed throughout many of my garden's plants.

Indeed, I find  I am most drawn to this deep dark red, the color of wine, the color of blood.  I realize I am always attracted to this color, and am surrounded by this red throughout my home.

The paper construction hanging over our bed has bright red deepening to an intense red burgundy.
Across the room is the print Garden IIB

A rug from Iraq hangs on our living room wall

over the Ersari carpet from Afganistan which covers the living room floor.
Suddenly I realize a possible explanation of my love of this color.  If one believes in astrology, it’s all in the stars.  Scorpio that I am, I remember reading the following:  'The luckiest colors for Scorpio are those that range from dark red through maroon/burgundy...

'Scorpio colors are intense, powerful and often associated with physical intimacy, mystery and great depth. Dark red is the color of emotional saturation, passion, power, suppression, demand, sublimated activity, suffering, threat and strained temper. It is erotic and evokes instincts.’  That’s me?  I’d like to own the passion and the power, but I’m not sure about the rest of it.  Still, this is my color.  Red, deep red, maroon, burgundy. My Scorpio reds.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Composition assignment - Jabez Jenkins

I suppose we all come to taking pictures with different motivations.  Mine have always been to capture family moments, and to document my garden.  Still life photography has not entered into my thinking at all.  The CandC Photography assignment on composition has changed all that.  Now I am intrigued by the possibilities.

I started out thinking of Kim Klassen's comment that she was drawn to old things.  My mother was a pack rat, so we have a lot.  I went scrounging around, and set up the first things I came to.  The doll is made of corn husks, dating back to the early 1800s probably.  The wool is homespun, probably a little later.  My mother christened the doll after a Quaker ancestor who sailed around the horn to China.

So -  meet Jabez Jenkins.

Here is Jabez as set up, from the front.
Here is the view from the top - not much to see, except the light and the weave of the homespun.

And here is Jabez full on, showing brilliant blue eyes which  I never noticed before.
I had trouble making my out-of-focus picture look like anything, so went with cropping.

His picture taken at an angle is really one of my two favorites.

My other favorite is this last one, showing Jabez in deep thought under a canopy of homespun.

Thanks to this assignment, I now see Jabez in a new light.  I'm only sorry I didn't have time to borrow a piece of my daughter's  primitive blue and white Canton china, which Jabez brought back from China, to add to the setup.  Next time!

Friday, April 2, 2010


Here's a little essay about how our new dog Kali arrived.
She's definitely part of the gardening contingent of the family, particularly enjoying loosening the soil (i.e. digging up the beds.)  I'm putting down little circles of barbed wire in strategic places to try to discourage this.

The Latest Decision
Some of the decisions in my life have been deliberate - that is, I can remember the exact second when I decided this, not that - but others come from somewhere unknown, mysterious,, overwhelmingly powerful.  The most recent decision of that sort has been to get another dog.  Is this a good idea at the age of 78, when the pup’s life expectancy is probably longer than ours is?  When we have two short driving vacations planned, which don’t include a puppy?  When we have limited energy, and know that a puppy requires energy, constant supervision, cleaning up of endless piddles, and comfort for loneliness at night?

Still,  for weeks I read the SPCA appeal each Sunday in the paper about this little dog needing a home, that little dog needing a forever family, and I immediately responded with teary-eyed sympathy and yearninng. When a darling picture of a pup labelled ‘leonberger mix named Fluffy’ appeared , I felt a flash of recognition. My dog!  Still, for several days I said nothing out loud, although I did check the SPCA website to see if Fluffly continued to be available for adoption.  She did. After more than a week, when her brother disappeared from the adoptable list, I began to realize that Fluffy probably would soon disappear too.

‘Andy,’ I said, ‘there’s a little dog at the SPCA and she’s calling me.’  He was quiet for a moment, then looked at me somewhat quizzically and said, ‘Calling  you?  Then maybe we’d better go take a look at her.’

I wasn’t really sure that Andy was willing to have another dog, and our schedule was full for several days, so we didn’t go to look.  The weekend arrived, and then Monday.  I looked on the internet. She was still on the adoptable list!  When Andy got home he announced, ‘I went to see the little dog, but the SPCA is closed on Mondays.’  This was a surprise to me, and a reassurance that he really was pretty interested too.  So the next day, after his doctor’s appointment, we did go.

Of course we came home with her.

Life with a puppy has proven to be all that I imagined ahead of time.  It has been exceedingly strenuous.  (I slept three nights on an air mattress on the dining room floor, for example.)  Our new pup has had an ongoing urinary tract infection, which means even more piddles than usual, plus vet’s bills and visits and administration of antibiotics twice daily.  Her new name, Kali, has proven prophetic, since she has demolished one dress shoe, the backs of several books, and a partial bathroom rug. Clearly she has a will of her own, and only comes when she feels like it.  But, also, she is intensely affectionate.  She makes us laugh several times a day.  In the morning, when we get her up and she climbs into our laps to snuggle and nuzzle our cheeks, it feels as though this new baby, even at our advanced age, is worth all the trouble.  If I had made the decision to have her in a rational way, she clearly would never have joined our family.  Her arrival, wiggles and all, has brought new life and energy into the equation.  Maybe at some deep unconscious level I thought we needed that.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Fragrance in the Air

Stepping out the door this morning, I was immersed in the fragrance of spring.  Years ago I read the classic book The Fragrant Year, by Helen Van Pelt Wilson and Leonie Bell, and I've planted my gardens for fragrance ever since.  This is a lovely book, available at Amazon for very little, with line drawings by Leonie Bell that are exquisite. I take it down to reread with pleasure every so often, but today I find I don't need to actually see it to remember it, for in front of me are the Clematis armandii, the little daphne, the narcissus and daffodils, and the old purple flags of which Leonie Bell and Helen Van Pelt Wilson speak.

Kali and I head for the meadow, where my husband is burning the brush from the trees he has felled this winter.
First we admire the daffodils and narcissus, which grow in the grasses... (Last year I did not plant them in time, so just threw them out, with glorious results.)

They grow in our Mediterranean climate with little care, and seem to return faithfully.  A boon for a careless gardener like me.

The daffodil Sweetness just blooms and blooms, a sheet of deep yellow across from the planter box under the redwood, where Daphne collina has struggled on for 15 years or so, blooming each March and April.

The last plants Kali and I visit are in Peter Rabbit's garden, as yet to have its spring clean-up.  There we see  the old purple flags that continue to survive, and the Clematis armandii, almost past, which pumps out its delicious scent on the ambient air.