contemplative photography Photo Journal Photo Projects

Procrastination: Putting off today what you can do tomorrow

Or can you?

Yesterday, I walked around the ponds, headphones on, water bottle slung over one shoulder, step tracker clipped on my shirt. I was out for exercise.

That did not stop my roaming eye. As I walked up the powerline right of way, I saw another purple flower—a Maypop blossom! (Some people may call them passion flowers.) These vines grow wild in these parts. After they bloom, they bear fruit. I’ve heard you can eat the fruit, but I never did. When I was a child, I played with Maypops, using sticks to make animals out of them.

When I saw the flower, I was excited! But I was midway through my second lap, and I did not want to interrupt the momentum of the walk. I did not go back for the camera.

I lost the opportunity to take the photo of the purple passion flower//Maypop blossom. Surely, it will be in bloom tomorrow. . . . .

Well, here is what is looks like today.


It is beginning to close.  It’s a strange-looking thing at this stage.  The good news is, that while I was taking this photo, I saw that there are a few more buds that haven’t opened yet. I will be watching these so that I can get the picture.  And I will be watching for the fruit, too. I may even make a Maypop animal!

Here are some other things I saw along the walk around the pond today.


Roses in the backyard


Wild blackberries beginning to ripen


An interesting bent tree


The grand oaks that line one side of the dam between “Herbert’s” pond and Gramps’s pond.


Mushrooms, moss, and fallen leaves—an interesting combination of textures. (No, I did not stage this.)


Red trumpet vines.

All I have to do is keep my eyes open.

By the way, I’m not exactly upset with myself that I didn’t go back and take a picture yesterday. I carry the memory.


Saturday Evening Post

My grandmother used to tell us that my granddaddy would read his Saturday Evening Post from cover to cover almost as soon as it arrived.

Well, I don’t have a Saturday Evening Post to read or share. I really don’t have much to share photographically or story-wise! I have enjoyed my no-rush Saturday, actually.

I did play with some textures and overlays with some photographs. hibiscus

I made this image earlier this summer. (I love my red hibiscus! I just need to find a home for it inside this year.) I used several layers of textures. I splurged and bought the Gigantic texture bundle from Design Cuts (more than 2,000 files of textures and brushes and whatnot for $29.00). The bundle has more stuff than I’ll use in a year, but there are so many goodies.

Another good resource is Sebastian Michaels’s Photoshop Artistry class. It was from Sebastian that I learned that I can blend the textures more seamlessly by adjusting the opacity of the brush itself and not just the opacity of the layers and changing up the blend modes of the layers.

So, I think I’m going to poke around in my photo archives some more and find some other images to play with!


Textures on Tuesday

I spent the weekend with my mother at our getaway in Bennetts Point, a tiny coastal community in South Carolina. It’s located on one of the “barrier” islands in the ACE Basin. The weather didn’t exactly cooperate for great photographic adventures, but we did do a little exploring Sunday morning. We set out toward Yemassee and the Auldbrass Plantation, which is actually a quite modern plantation designed by the architect Frank Lloyd Wright. It was “tour” day, sponsored by the Beaufort Open Land Trust, and it was crowded. We didn’t stop, and I didn’t get any photographs.

Our next destination, in the same area, was the ruins of the Old Sheldon Church. We did stop and walk around the grounds for a bit. And I did get a few images. There were few people there. There were a couple of folks leaving, but there was a painter set up working on a canvas of the church. He told us that he had already spent about sixty hours on the canvas and had about forty more hours to go. And this was on the small canvas. He had a large canvas to paint the same subject later on.

Old Sheldon Church is one of many Civil War ruins resulting from Sherman’s march through South Carolina. Actually, there are two version of the story of the burning of the church. In one version, Sherman’s troops burn the church. In the other version, freemen, slaves, and white citizens “raided” the church for materials to rebuild homes after Sherman marched through and destroyed homes. After the church was looted, it was burned perhaps to hide the evidence. I don’t suppose we will know the true story.

These kinds of ruins fascinate me, not only because the history behind them, but because of the striking visual image they present. Naturally, I did not resist the urge to photograph them.


This is my final version of the image. I used two layers of textures from the Photomorphis Artistic Background and Painterly Background collections. I changed the blending modes and opacities, and painted off the textures over the church ruins. Then I applied two actions: a vintage action and a twilight action, again adjusting the opacity and painting off the effects to bring out the ruins.

I wanted to achieve a kind of “brooding” look, a little mysterious, a little ominous, to match the history of the ruins.  The ruins are surrounded by graves of folks long dead. I think again of the lines from Emily Bronte’s novel Wuthering Heights when Lockwood, the narrator, looks out over the moors where Katherine and Heathcliff are buried and says that he cannot imagine “unquiet slumbers.” I can imagine the unquiet slumbers around these old church ruins, and can easily picture the men and women who founded the church and attended worship here.


Contemplative Photography—Expression and Vision

I have lost count of where I am in this thirty-one day blog challenge. Today is the eighteenth day of the month.

Yesterday, I roamed around the pond with the camera, still searching for and finding all kinds of beauty. I passed my other “secret” garden, the one that is so secret it doesn’t know it’s a garden. I sowed a variety of flower seeds, including wildflowers, zinnias, poppies, and others. The problem: only the zinnias came up. The solution: they have been blooming like crazy now that we are past the heat of the summer.

And the bonus: the flowers are attracting butterflies!


Freeman Patterson talks about the role of expression in photography. He argues that there are two kinds of expression: the expression that the subject shows us (joy, peace, sorrow, excitement, etc.) and the self-expression of the photographer. He poses two questions that are essential for all photographers to answer before making the image:

  • What is expressed?
  • How is it expressed?

I stalked the butterfly, one of two that were flitting around the zinnias. (Do you know how hard it is to get butterflies to be still long enough to compose a photograph and then manually focus the lens?) Butterflies represent freedom to me, the ability to pick up and move as the spirit moves. They also represent delicate beauty. As it is October, there is also a feeling of fleeting beauty. It won’t be long before it is too cold for butterflies or zinnias.

I think by isolating the zinnia and the butterfly from the rest of the garden, I emphasized that idea of the end of the summer. The zinnia is in some ways past its prime. I also wanted to create a feeling of “age.” Therefore, I used a couple of textures from Photomorphis to create the vintage feel.


A Tuesday Technique and a Texture Tuesday


I wrote about my cherry blossoms on Saturday. Today, I’m using one of the images to made Saturday. I played with my Lensbaby Composer Pro and Sweet 35 optic and a set of extension tubes to try for some macro photography. Let me tell you, it is sometimes much harder than it seems. There was a light breeze that kept shaking the tree branches. I knew that shooting wide open (2.8 on the Sweet 35) would allow me to use a fast shutter speed, which would minimize the shake. But I had to put the camera in the branches, and I kept bumping them. I finally resorted to hauling out the tripod. Even then I still had some problems getting close enough to the blossoms to make the image I wanted. I had hoped to get some images with the water drops from the rain that morning.

So, I chose the image above to work with. The first thing I did was make a few adjustments in Lightroom—white balance, tone, exposure, contrast, clarity. I have to admit that I make adjustments “to taste” as opposed to formula or correctness. If it looks like I want it to, I call it “correct.”  I also cropped the image to focus on the larger bloom. After my basic adjustments, I opened the image in Photoshop. (I may be one of the few photographers who still use CS6 rather CC.)

One of my favorite actions is the Levels Boost Action from the girls at Love That Shot. I’ve used this action for years. I think it boosts the contrast just a bit more and brightens the image. Then I had fun applying textures. I like textures with some kind of script on them. I think these old-fashioned papers can give the image a vintage look.


I used a vintage postcard paper from a collection of textures and overlays. I use a free action from MCP Actions to place textures (texture applicator). I used that MCP texture application action, set the blending mode to soft light with an opacity of 60%. I did not like the script over the flowers, but I wanted to retain the color of the texture. I took a Clickin’ Moms’ class last summer, and I learned a trick that helps me retain color but lose texture. Here’s the trick:

1. Make sure you are working on the image itself and not the layer mask. This is important.

2. Use the lasso tool and outline the area where you want to remove the color.

3. Select Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur. Pull the slider to a high number—10 or higher. On this image, I think I pulled the slider to the right to 25. This removed any traces of the script but left the color.

Then I added Kim Klassen’s Magic Texture (KK2). I reduced the opacity to 30% and set the blend mode to soft light. I brushed a little of the magic texture off the lighter portions of the image. 

By the way, the water drops are evident in the cropped version.