Photo Journal

Decisions Decided

So Monday, I wrote about the decisions I needed to make regarding my writing and the blog. I hate to admit it, but sometimes, blogging regularly does bog me down. There’s not that much to write about with feeling that I’m repeating myself. Maybe it’s because I still haven’t found my ideal focus.

But, I have decided: I will do my very best to do the Write 31 Days challenge in October. I don’t promise to have every entry ready to post by 7:00 a.m. in the morning, nor do I promise to write the requisite 800 words (or is it no more than 600? I never was very good at following strict rules). I have chosen my “theme:” Thirty-One Days of Photography. I need work on my skills again, and I will use some of the tools I already have—a few classes that I need to finish, a couple of books with exercises and opportunities to play, and other sources of inspiration. I think I will also look at the post-processing process to work on those skills as well.

Mixed in with these posts will be some reflections as I add the contemplative element to my photography.

I will be back on Friday!

contemplative photography Photo Journal ReFrame

A Day of “Arting”

Yesterday, I saw a shrub of some sort waving its white branches at me. I had to fill the bird feeders anyway, so I grabbed the camera and went out for a quick photo shoot. After asking on Facebook for an identification, I found out that it is privet hedge. It is beautiful and smells heavenly. I started with this image:


I applied a texture layer and used Topaz Simplify 4 to apply the “impressionist” effect, and ended with this:


I like this image. But I wasn’t done playing with the images I received yesterday. A lone male cardinal visited the feeders after I filled them. I really did not have the best lens on my camera to get this shot, but I had to try. Cardinals do not like to pose for photographs, and I was hasty. My original image was underexposed, but with a little Lightroom magic, I was able to recover enough details to work with the image. In addition, the background is busy and distracting, and I really had to work with the background to get something I was pleased with.


I cropped the image to a square. Then I used some techniques from Susan Tuttle’s book Digital Expressions to desaturate the background while keeping the color of the subject (the cardinal) and creating a vignette with a color fill layer. This is the result:


I wasn’t quite satisfied, so I played a little more. I added a texture overlay in vivid light mode and the spot light effect from the filter|Render menu in CS6. After playing a bit with opacity, I ended with this:


There is a Native American legend that says that cardinals are visitors from heaven. I suppose this little bird is such a visitor.

Photo Journal ReFrame

Time and Writing and Art

It’s been nearly a month since my last entry here. I have these “spells” when writing calls to me and I ignore the call. I’ve been doing that lately—ignoring the class. Oh, I’ve been writing—in my morning pages journal, in my art journal/documented life unplanner/right-brain planner, fauxbonichi journal—Oh, yes, I am writing. Just not here in this space. Just not for publication.

I have been reading a lot. I’m several chapters into Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Big Magic. I have to thank my friend Mary for loaning me her book. Unfortunately, because she loaned it to me, I can’t mark it up! So, I bought my own Kindle edition so that I could highlight, underline, and comment. Oh, yes, I am writing quotes in my journals/planners/sticky notes, too.

And I’m reading one of Rick Sammons’ photography books on seeing creatively. I am reminded throughout the book that photography is more than settings on the camera and pressing a shutter button. It is about seeing the world, not merely glancing around, but looking deeply, and seeing what is not always obvious. I liked his analogy of using a shot-gun approach to photography versus a more considered approach. Sometimes, when we go out to photograph things, we take pictures of EVERYTHING in sight—aim and shoot! However, Sammons reminds me that while it’s okay to take the postcard pictures and attempt to capture everything, we also need to take the time to look closely, to see what “we” see and not what we’re necessarily expected to see.

The other aspect of Sammons’ book that I appreciate is that photography, especially digital photography, is not just about getting it right in the camera, but also about seeing our creative vision through in the post-processing stage. In most of the chapters, Sammons writes about some of the creative tools he uses—Lightroom, Photoshop, Topaz plug-ins, Nik software. .  . .

Last night, I played with some of those tools on images I took last weekend. And I played with layering textures and photo veils and other tools in my tool kit. I came up with this image of the dogwood. I think I like it. I like it very much.



This is the original (SOOC), and I like it, too.

I am trying to salvage this image of the heron that Mama and I saw while we were at Bennetts Point three weeks ago. It landed in the pasture next to our place there. I was not dressed to go outside to get a closer shot, and I had to shoot fast! I think those birds know when I’m coming with a camera and they are camera shy.

This is the original. Trust me, it’s a heron!


I cropped it, “fuzzed up” the grass a bit with a Topaz plug-in, and added several layers of textures, brushing each layer off the heron. This is the result.

heron at bennetts point

It does have a painterly look, and I like that. I like the softness of the background, but it’s still missing something, and I will come back to it again to see what I need to do.

Vision, creativity, writing, reading—it’s all part of what I want to do.