Below is a still life I shared with my weekly photo group on Tuesday. I have been in the group over 4 1/2 years now, and it has become an important part of my life. As I prepared this photo for class (on zoom, of course), I remembered that I had created a still life in the same spot in our house (on my father’s antique dental cabinet) for my second photo ever for this group back in 2016. You can see that photo and read about my experience as a new and very nervous member of the group here. I still learn new things every week and am constantly inspired by the group’s creativity and technical skills.
Flattening the Curve
Like most of you, we are staying home, trying to avoid getting exposed, and only going outside for occasional walks or drives. We are getting into a routine of exercising at home, doing a few clean-out projects, planning and eating meals, keeping track of our supplies, communicating online and by phone with family and friends, watching the news (Lonnie), editing photos and doing genealogy, and streaming shows at night. This whole thing would be so much more difficult in the pre-internet age- there’s lots to be grateful for!
A New Find!
I have had a delightfully busy last few days; my Rapunzel group came to town and we had a wonderful time laughing and talking and eating and drinking and touring Prescott. Unbelievably, I did not take a single photo; there were so many cell phone photos being taken, it seemed like overkill to bring out my big camera. Before our group toured downtown on Friday, my friend, Nevin, wanted to quickly look through some antique stores to see if she could find a Blue Ridge plate or cup to add to her huge collection. It was she who got me started on my own collection about twenty years ago, and it was my friend, Joan, who gave me some pieces in a Blue Ridge pattern that I have had such a difficult time finding since then. Blue Ridge dishes (handpainted in the 1930s and 40’s in Erwin, Tennessee) are usually in a flower pattern- and there are dozens of patterns. The dishes that my friend, Joan gave me have a barn and an appletree- a much less common pattern called Weathervane and almost impossible to find. A year or two ago, I had found a platter and was thrilled.
Saturday, I was not looking for myself- just going along with Nevin, when she spotted a whole set for six in the Weathervane pattern. I gasped in astonishment- and bought it on the spot. Here is a peek into my china cabinet at my new acquisition:
What a perfect memento of a wonderful weekend with my longtime friends!
We’ve got FLOOR!
A casual visitor to my blog might think I’ve been traveling all summer (Jerome, the Grand Canyon, San Francisco), but those were actually just one day visits. Most of my summer has actually been taken up with the FLOOR.
The leak which required our original flooring to be have to be replaced happened in April, and it took until the middle of May to deal with the insurance company, have the cabinets repaired, and decide on the new floor. This could not all be accomplished before our family’s visit- so we had just concrete in the kitchen and dining room while they were here. After they left, we began the process of clearing off the bookshelves and closet floors etc. in preparation for the installation. It sounds easier than it was, since ALL the floors (except bathrooms) were replaced.
And I am happy to report that the floor is IN!
I’ve spent very little time on photography this summer, alas. And my blog posts for the last 2-3 weeks were written and uploaded a couple weeks in advance to be published automatically by WordPress, due to the fact that our office was dismantled. Things are almost back to normal now, and I should actually have time to take and edit photos.
Can I have an AMEN?!?
A Lensbaby Still
Next week I start an online Lensbaby class through Clickin Moms with Caroline Jensen! I’m beyond excited to learn from this Lensbaby guru (and also from some of the amazing photographers taking the class- Holy Cow!). I’m taking it “study-along”, meaning I won’t get any feedback except from my classmates, but I will have access to all the class materials and can read the feedback Caroline gives the other students. We’ve already been given “pre-assignments” well in advance of the class starting, so I already have started learning.
Because I’ll be so involved with the class, it is possible that I’ll be pretty behind in my still life assignments, unless I combine the two (which I may in fact). But since I often use a lensbaby for my stills, I’m going to try to step outside of my comfort zone and practice outside and with people.
So here is a lensbaby still life of PEONIES (surprise, surprise!) and my chair.
Monday night I was inspired by a prompt in Kim Klassen’s Studio to create a still life potting bench . . . of sorts. . . inside. . . in my entry way. I long ago let go of the idea that all still life photographers just come upon these beautiful vignettes in their houses- well, some do- but most often they are created or styled for the camera. Since I was avoiding making dinner, I quickly gathered some pots and garden-y props to create a still life. I enjoyed it so much that I kept it up and took even more the next day.
Here is my first photo. If you’ve been to my house, you might recognize the antique dental cabinet. I had to remove some of the liqueur glasses and little dishes in the cabinets, but missed a few (thank goodness for Photoshop!). I also added some texture to rough it up a bit.
And here are a few other shots from the next morning. I took more time with these, using a tripod so I could slow my shutter to add more light (it has been dismal and rainy here). I used my lensbaby for the first one and edited them all with one of Kim’s presets for a dark and earthy look.
Where Ideas Come From
The above image is the latest of my still life photos for The Studio- a continuation of the One Thing theme. This time, my one thing is not the subject of my composition, but the background – my walls. I thought it might be interesting to explain the evolution of the idea and execution of this image. I’ve read that photographers find their inspiration everywhere- from nature, from music, from paintings, from the color palette in an advertisement- ANYWHERE.
In this case, my idea came from a movie. We went to see The Woman in Gold with our friends, Debbie and Dale the other night. The movie was a fascinating true story of a woman (played by Helen Mirren) who sued the Austrian government to have them return her family’s paintings (by Gustav Klimt!) which had been stolen by the Nazis and were now “owned” by the Austrian government. No, this photo was not inspired by the Klimt paintings.
In one scene, as I remember, there was, in the background, a painting or photograph of a still life composed of a dry arrangement (wheat?) in front of a two-tone wall. I somehow noted it and then dreamed about trying to recreate that image, using my colorful Arizona walls. That was the beginning of the photograph above. I took quite a few shots of these dried weeds and flowers in front of my bright walls, gradually moving away from the traditional still life I was envisioning to a textured black and white closeup image which is my favorite. All the photos were taken with my Lensbaby, which I’ve been practicing with every single day for the last 3 weeks.
Saw this. . .
One of my favorite things about photography is how much I NOTICE now! And it’s contagious- even my husband notices more. As much as I enjoy creating a still life, the most exciting part of photography for me is when I happen to catch a glimpse of beauty in the every day. Then the challenge is to somehow capture what I saw. The other day, it was this reflection of a tiny bowl on the black surface of my dad’s dental cabinet. The Edge 80 was on the camera, so that’s what I used.
I edited the photo in Lightroom, and then I took it into onOne’s Perfect Effects 8 for a couple finishing touches. I realized recently that I have never really MASTERED this great program (and now there’s a newer version!), so I’ve been playing with it more lately. I’ve even used it to add textures (you can import them from your hard drive or use the ones within the program). For this image, I adjusted the color, added a bit of glow to emphasize the reflection, and then added a vignette.
Just Hangin’ Around
The latest Be Still-52 assignment was hanging bottles. Whaaat? In Kim Klassen’s beautiful vintage home, she hung a bottle with a rose in it from a hook on a door- and it looked perfectly natural- and beautiful. I was running around, hanging my little medicine bottle everywhere- and ended up with a serious case of the giggles. Needless to say, this one did not come naturally to me. I, perhaps, should have interpreted the challenge more loosely and come up with something more “me”, but, oh well, I did have some fun with it.
I wonder what the neighbors thought of me hanging this bottle in a tree?
In case you are wondering, the first image was shot with the Lensbaby Edge 80; the one outside was with my 35mm lens.
I held off posting this today, because we were supposed to get 3-5 inches of snow last night and today- a perfect photo opportunity. Unfortunately, all we’ve had is rain.
So here are some Christmas details- pinecones on a chair, a tree ornament, and. . . two photos of one of two little ceramic birds on a beautiful ceramic plate/tray, made by the talented Debbie!
Still Life in the Morning
The other morning, I was reading the paper and drinking coffee, when I noticed that the coffee cup and newspaper made a pleasing composition. I started to pick up my iPhone, but then thought- Hmmm, if I pull the plant over a bit and get some strawberries it will look even better. I quickly made an arrangement, snapped ONE photo, edited it in Snapseed, uploaded it to instagram, and then continued to drink my coffee and read the newspaper (and ate the strawberries . . .). If only I could have still life composition ideas come to me that easily all the time!
I was about halfway through my coffee, when I thought of getting out my Nikon and taking the photo again. After all, one of the BeStill 52 prompts was cuppa. I got out more strawberries and tried to duplicate my iPhone photo- trickier than it sounds, considering focal length, depth of field etc.
So here are some Sunday morning stills, quickly taken. All have two layers of Kim’s grunge texture added.
And here is the original iPhone photo.
A Few Random Clicks
Photography seems to run in the family. My earliest memories involve being wakened by the glare of strobe lights as my father filmed every moment of Christmas morning (perhaps that’s why I avoid having my photo taken to this day). In his retirement years, he took college classes in photography and captured some wonderful photos of my children when they were little. Today’s photo includes his Nikon on the left and my first good camera, an Argus rangefinder (right), as well as a toy camera (middle) which I picked up in an antique store when Joan was visiting. In the front are two issues of Kodakery magazine from the 1920’s, which I bought in an antique store a few months ago.
Linking up with Friday Finds today.