Be Still 52

Boots, Part II

I had so much fun with these, I just had to post some more. Thanks, Debbie!

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Unique Vessel

When my friend, Debbie, texted me a photo of the old boots she had just bought, I knew I had to photograph them before they became part of one of her art pieces.  I had so much fun playing around with them for some still life and macro shots.  As I mentioned last week, one of our challenges for BeStill 52 was to use a unique vessel in a still life; I think the boots were up to the challenge!

20150504-MMA_4523_melinda_anderson 20150504-MMA_4547_melinda_anderson 20150504-MMA_4631_melinda_andersonThe first and third photos were edited using Kim Klassen’s darklight preset; the middle is almost straight out of camera.

Linking up with Texture Tuesday today.

The Merry Month of May!


It’s May! When I was teaching, May was a big CRUNCH month: testing, Open House, Authors’ Party, Mother’s Day presents to make, field trip, parent helper gifts, student gifts, end of the year party, report cards, room pack-up, etc. etc.  It makes me tired just to think of it! Now, May is SPRING, for sure, and summer isn’t far behind. And in Arizona, I know monsoon season is only 6 weeks or so away!

Our latest lesson for BeStill 52 asked us to find an unique vessel for flowers or whatever to use in our stills- so I thought of this new teapot I bought this week to replace the cracked one, which didn’t make the cut when we moved.  Turquoise is becoming one of the colors I love to use in our Arizona house, although my husband thinks it doesn’t match our multicolored walls.  So far, I’ve acquired Mason jars, a bowl, a lantern, and now this teapot in shades of turquiose.  I just really love the color and am so glad that it’s popular again!

Teapot1 Teapot2In my life, a teapot isn’t an unusual vessel for flowers, but I do have an idea for another take on this challenge. Stay tuned!

Linking up with Kim’s Friday Finds today.

One Thing Again . . .

I think I might be finished with the One Thing challenge for BeStill52 and The Studio, but no promises. . .

A couple Lensbaby shots:

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Top down with my 35mm 1.8:

20150413-MMA_3216_melinda_andersonAlso with my 35mm 1.8, softened with a couple of Kim Klassen textures (linking up with Texture Tuesday today):


One Thing

We were challenged to photograph one thing, shot different ways, different days, with different props in both BeStill and the Studio.  I decided to use my blue lantern, which my son gave me for Christmas.  I’ve done a couple different photo shoots and plan on doing more this week. All of these were taken with my Lensbaby and Sweet 35.  The top one has a couple textures added.

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One of our recent assignments in Bestill52, was to create a still life in or on a crate.  I have had two pepsi crates since our early married days.  One is for individual bottles; the other is for 6 packs, I think.  Because this was before the days of shabby chic, we stained the crates to make them darker (and to go with our antiques).  They hung on our walls in each of the places we lived, until we moved to our Arizona house. I haven’t quite decided what to do with them here, but they work well for still life props.

crateAll 3 images were taken with the Lensbaby and Edge 80 optic.


Our latest assignment in BeStill 52 was to create a side lit vignette with an organic theme- wood, twine, natural materials etc.  I confess I didn’t take a lot of time with this, because the garage was FREEZING; I didn’t even open the door, but used the little windows in the garage door for light.  And of course I was limited to my iPhone (but I’m hoping to have my camera back in a week!).  I edited the photos in Lightroom with Kim’s organic preset, and called it done.

organic Photo Feb 27- 8 40 36 AM

Here is another slightly different version of the above image- slightly different, because I edited it for Instagram in Snapseed and Stackables (my new favorite app).  I used Snapseed to selectively lighten and darken parts of the image and Stackables to add tones and texture.

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Star Bunting

starbunting-1 Photo Feb 23- 9 41 55 AM-EditThese photos were for the latest BeStill 52 assignment, where the “spark” was a bunting.  I used stars, which I clipped to twine and hung on  a beadboard background. All photos were taken with my iPhone and edited in Stackables.  This app is a lot like Mextures (which has been a favorite of mine), and I’m beginning to like it a lot. Because it is Tuesday, I brought all images into Photoshop and added some of Kim Klassen’s textures: hughes, simple, and chill (last photo only).

Linking up with Texture Tuesday today.


Rainy Day Play

Today is one of those days I remember from my teaching days: drizzly rain, gray skies, fog, and periods when the rain stops, but it is still misty out.  Do you send the kids out to recess? Will it start pouring as soon as you do? How many more games of seven-up can we play? How many more inside recesses before we all go crazy?

I don’t remember days like this last winter; I thought all our Arizona rain came during monsoon season.

My husband is still recuperating at home, and, since it is a rainy day, it seemed like a good day to play in my garage studio and try to catch up on some still life assignments.

Here are some photos I shot- edited with a variety of presets from Kim Klassen.  The topic was spoons, and I added loose tea from these cute little cans (bought at our local spice shop).  There was some side lighting, since the garage door was open- but very little, since it is such a gray and dismal day.

tea_spoon_diptych tea_spoon_layout2 20150130-DSC_1757_melinda_andersonBoth spoons belonged to my grandmother, Mimi.  The bottom one is engraved with a B, which I assume is for Badenoch, the family name (her maiden name also begins with B).

I’m belatedly linking up with Friday Finds, since these little cans of tea were such a find.


I’m attempting to do a bit of catch-up on my lessons from BeStill and The Studio.  The first image is for Lesson 33 in BeStill52 (and for Texture Tuesday).  The assignment was to create a still life using lemons or other citrus fruit, create a bit of a story, and include varying heights.  Well, my story is that lemons were being sliced (you can invent the rest. . .).

20150125-DSC_1550_melinda_anderson-EditThe image below is for Texture Tuesday (no real props, no varying heights, and no story).

20150125-DSC_1566_melinda_anderson-EditBoth photos were edited with textures from Kim Klassen’s Cloth and Paper collection.

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?

20150110-DSC_0872_melinda_anderson-EditIn case you are wondering, the first image was shot with the Lensbaby Edge 80; the one outside was with my 35mm lens.

Adventures in Lensbaby

20150105-DSC_0221_melinda_anderson-EditThis may look like a very simple, ordinary still life to you- but to me it represents a breakthrough!

Mastering the combination of appropriate aperture, manual focus, and correct tilt of the Lensbaby has been a challenge to say the least.  To create this still life, I had some seemingly simple goals.  I wanted window light, soft focus on the window and edges of the photo, and, most importantly, the face of the little girl figurine/vase to be in focus.  It was the last goal that was, of course, the most difficult.  Out of the 31 photos I snapped, two had good focus on the face.  This actually represents improvement to me!

I wasn’t thinking I would use the Lensbaby on still life, but now I see that I like the effect- and that, with lots of patience, I can create the correct focus and the amount of blur I want.  Yay!  In fact, still life is probably what I SHOULD be practicing on, because it is, well, STILL!

This was taken with the Sweet 35 optic at f/4.  Textured with painterly and chill by Kim Klassen.

For Be Still- 52. Week 30 (a fresh start for 2015) and Texture Tuesday


Reflections 2014

The beginning of the year topic for my Daily Challenge group on Flickr was to pick a favorite photo from each month of 2014. I went through my Lightroom catalog quickly, pretty much relying on gut instinct. I was surprised by a couple things when doing this exercise:

1. I didn’t expect to find so many still life photos among my favorites.  And I was surprised to find so few black and whites. There aren’t many landscapes- not really surprised by that.

2. Creativity and productivity seem to ebb and flow.  It was hard to even find a favorite for some months, and in other months I could easily find several.  I need to remember this when I’m feeling uninspired!



My BeStill 52 group’s challenge for last week was to pick my favorite still life photos of the year (no number specified).  I again chose quickly, relying on instinct, and came up with 14, which I arranged in a slideshow. You may notice that some of the images were chosen for both assignments.

Christmas Simple

20141221-DSC_7891_melinda_anderson 20141221-DSC_7882_melinda_anderson 20141221-DSC_7878_melinda_andersonI took the above photos in response to a new BeStill 52 assignment, which was a replay of the previous one- backlight, window, chair.  I went for a pretty minimal composition- and not very Christmas-y, I guess.  Sometimes, I just like things simple!


A Chair by the Door

The latest assignment in BeStill 52 was to shoot a backlit image of a chair in front of a window. I was stymied at first, because our windows are all tinted here to protect us from the Arizona sun, creating a difficult lighting situation for photography.  Then I remembered the frosted front door window, which has un-frosted portions, letting in a bit of natural light.

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Still Life with Spoons

recipelayout1 recipelayout2Linking up with Friday Finds


Old Recipes

Because my grandparents lived with us at the time of my grandmother’s death, I have inherited a collection of old books, recipe books, photos and other memorabilia valuable to me, if not to the rest of the world. Mimi was a wonderful cook, something she learned when she went to finishing school In Boston (she also learned etiquette, French, and Italian, among other things). This still life for Be Still 52 includes Mimi’s Fannie Farmer Cookbook and little notebook of her favorite recipes written out with her Parker pen in her signature turquoise ink.  I didn’t grow up baking, so the recipe card is from one of my first recipes for Christmas treats- Seven Layer Cookies (no baking!).I’m enjoying working in my garage “studio”- even on a drizzly day with the garage door open!


Edited with Kim Klassen’s chill and one of the magic textures.

Square, Top Down, 2 Sides

This was fun- and trickier than I thought! The BeStill52 challenge was to create a square, top-down composition where subjects were arranged on two sides of the square, leaving some negative space.  Now, I am a big fan of negative space- but somehow these compositions were hard for me. I struggle with top-down photography anyway. I’m short, so getting the bird’s eye view involves standing on a chair or ladder.  The second photo was easier for me, because I deliberately used small objects and shot it standing on the floor- yippee!

The photo below is of two old photo albums- my grandmother’s and my father’s.  I didn’t see either of them until after my parents were gone, so wasn’t able to ask questions about them.  I’m so curious about the open album on top- look how the photos are cut and arranged artistically! My father graduated from high school in Wolf Point, Montana about 1919 (!), and these photos appear to be of him and his high school friends.  Was my father really a scrapbooker? I wonder if one of his girlfriends put the albums together for him. Anyway- it is VERY cute! My grandmother’s album features family photos from the 1920’s, often involving camping trips and excursions to the beach. The photo of the three children is my mother (left) with her brother and sister- taken around 1915.

20141129-DSC_7307_melinda_anderson-EditAnd here is the photo of smaller objects- much easier to photograph!

20141130-DSC_7314_melinda_anderson-EditBoth photos are textured with Kim Klassen’s breakfree texture for Texture Tuesday.

Butter and Eggs

After doing mostly abstracts for the last couple weeks, it’s time to catch up on BeStill52. The assignment from a couple weeks ago was butter and eggs. I decided to make Egg-in-a-Hole for breakfast (something my daughter does for her kids), which fit the bill!


Pears and a Bowl

Today I’m posting the pear still life photos I did for the latest BeStill 52 lesson.  They were especially fun to do, because, with the help of my husband, I have been setting up a little mini “studio”(also known as a craft table) in our garage for still life and macro photography.  With the garage door open, I have beautiful natural light (unlike in the rest of our house).  When it gets too cold or when it is lizard, snake, and bunny season, the garage door will be down and I will use artificial light. Right now I have a pole lamp; we’ll see  how that works out. I do have a speed light too and reflectors of course.  I was inspired by Carol Hart’s post (on about using her greenhouse and her video of working in her home studio.

So here they are (the top one was textured with Kim Klassen’s painterly texture for Texture Tuesday):

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Just Apples

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Kim’s Pears

This morning I went to Michael’s to buy some gray and some brown paper to use as backgrounds for still life photos and to Albertson’s to buy some pears to photograph.  When I got home, there was a new BeStill 52 lesson up- featuring PEARS!  We have a choice of photographing a bowl and some (or just one) pear or having an editing play with her pear photo.  I have full intentions of photographing my pears, but had fun playing with her photo as well.

So- this is KIM’s photo- edited two ways. The first is with a warm black and white preset I made a long time ago which has become one of my favorites.  I added a couple layers of Kim’s chill texture (a new favorite) in Photoshop.


I added some yellow tones to the highlights and purple to the shadows and increased contrast a bit in this image.  In Photoshop I added Kim’s painterly texture.kim_klassen_pearsbypainting-EditWell, that was fun!  Next I will do my OWN pear photos- stay tuned!

Four Things

I’ve been on a roll with my still life lessons- this is for Lesson 21.  We were challenged to create a still life using four things: bread, twine, linen, and scissors.  I added some leaves and a pumpkin, because it is almost Halloween.  I used my new tea towels from my daughter- and the other items were purchased for the assignment- some cool bonsai shears, some twine (no longer an essential household item- at least for us), and a loaf of sourdough bread (my husband was so happy). I also used my new white beadboard for the backdrop- thank you, Barb Brookbank for the idea!



Apples on a Tea Towel

After doing travel photography for a couple weeks, it feels great to get back into still life photography! I’m catching up on lessons for Be Still 52 (and Texture Tuesday), and today’s photo is for the most recent assignment, where we were challenged to take a photo based on a painting. It was helpful to be provided with a link to a Pinterest board of stilllife paintings, and I chose one of three lemons on a striped tea towel.

I am currently lemon-less, so used apples from my friend, Debbie, who had to rid her kitchen of perishables in preparation for traveling to Nashville.  I do have some wonderful new tea towels, however- a gift from my daughter!


My image has darker lighting than the painting from which I drew my inspiration, but is lit from the left, as was the original image.  I textured it with Kim Klassen’s monday and chill textures.