When we went outside last weekend, the melting snow on the evergreens sparkled in the sunlight- and I couldn’t resist going back in to grab my camera!
I started my photography journey in the summer of 2010; it’s been 5 1/2 years of excitement and learning and practice and discouragement and more excitement. I am now starting the sixth year of this blog, which has become a record of my photography progress and also a bit of my life. I had no idea it would extend beyond the first year, but I’m not thinking of stopping. Things got more manageable when I stopped the whole photo a day commitment; some days my photos are just not blogworthy. I still have the commitment to myself to publish five days a week, which may not be the best practice either, since I sometimes just post the best of the mediocre shots I’ve taken lately. But my photography, like life, is a work in progress.
Pondering my photography goals and the progress I’ve made in the last year is something I do as the new year approaches. I’m happy I can point to a few areas of progress:
- Lensbaby- What a challenge that has been! I can’t say I have become a Lensbaby master, but I have produced some photos that I really like. And I love Lensbaby photography!
- Landscape photography-Although this often involves getting up early and using a tripod (two things I’m not crazy about doing), I’ve done it enough now to feel better about my skills and also enough to know it’s not my favorite type of photography to actually do.
- Showing my work- This year, I again participated in my photography club- and also showed photos at the fair and our group show at the Raven. In thinking ahead to next year, I thought one of my goals would be to have the courage to submit photos to a local gallery or two. But then, just before Christmas, two opportunities were presented to me unexpectedly, and, before I could think about it, I now have four photos in two juried shows at two different galleries in town! It’s a fun experience- and not as daunting as I thought. I don’t know how often I will want to do this, but it is nice to get the pat on the back of having your work recognized.
So then- what are my goals for 2016? I was talking to my friend Carol about what she is learning on all the photography trips she takes with expert wildlife photographers. One of the things that resonated with me was the importance of being intentional when taking photographs. I know this. I’ve read this over and over. I intend to be intentional! But somehow, I just keep clicking away- especially when I am out and about. When I am at home doing macro or still life- or just walking around the yard with my camera, I find it easier to look and really SEE. This process all too often disappears when I am out in the world. So my over-riding goal is to be more intentional.
A couple years ago, I started the practice of picking one word for the year, rather than making New Year’s resolutions. My previous words- TRUE and JOY are great words, but this year I wanted something that would have a meaning that could be interpreted broadly but also very specifically to photography. My word is . . .
I love my word! It can be about bringing light into my life, living lightly on the planet, spreading light- but it also has a very specific meaning for me in photography. Photography is all about light and using it to enhance the image. My goal is to be very intentional about finding the best light as I shoot. The photographers I admire all use light in beautiful ways. I want to become better at that- that’s my word, that’s my goal!
What are your goals for 2016? Do you have a word?
Photography notes: The tulip photo above was taken using the Lensbaby Velvet 56. I was intentional (I am wondering how many more times I can use intentional in this blog post?!?) about finding early morning light and placing my tulip in the light. 🙂 I have no idea how the beams got there- they just appeared! I’m not sure if this is a quality of the lens (I have had this happen with the Edge 80)- or if I was using my new diffuser at this point and it had anything to do with that. Something more to figure out!
It’s actually looked a lot like Christmas since Thanksgiving! I love my house at Christmas- all the traditional little knicky-knacky things brought out- and then there’s the tree. It’s fake, which was never our tradition, but it’s decorated with ornaments from our kids’ childhood and some newer ones picked up over the years. I started acquiring snowmen in the last ten years or so; here’s one that sits in our entryway.
Yes, it’s taken with a Lensbaby!
Today’s photo was shot with my lensbaby and includes a couple leaves, part of a bunch I gathered while walking down our hill, and some old books of my mother’s (yes, I love to photograph old books!). Way in the back is a little clock- a gift from my god-daughter for hosting her wedding shower (8 years ago?!?). The wind was blowing into my garage studio, causing the pages and leaves to shiver and shift while I took the photo, making focusing with the lensbaby a fun challenge. Fall is slow to arrive this year, but it is on its way.
It started a year ago on a road trip to Kansas to visit Lonnie’s father. I became obsessed with the seemingly endless flat horizons of Kansas, broken only by the occasional barn or silo. There is a beauty in this stark landscape with the wheat fields, the barb wire fences, and the oddly industrial look of modern farms. I took photo after photo with my iPhone (usually through the window as we drove along), and I had fun editing them right there in the car. May’s road trip was melancholy, however, as we drove across the plains knowing that Lonnie’s dad had just died. This time I took photos with my Nikon often with the lensbaby attached- mostly from the car at 70mph. I was still obsessed with the landscape, but I also wondered each time I clicked the shutter when we would be driving these roads again.
In my AAUW photography group, we are asked to commit to a long term project of some sort. After our trip a year ago, I decided to create a Heartland series for the assignment.
When I traveled to Yellowstone last month, I took these photos with me on a little external drive to work on; I was planning to make a photo book to take to my photography group. I worked on it during a couple evenings after the kids were in bed, but I could never get the book to save- it would always say it was still uploading! I didn’t have the time or energy for a frustrating computer project, so I decided to abandon it until I came home. Once home, I sat down to work on the project again, only to discover that, no matter what I did, Lightroom would not recognize the photos. I know all about moving photos from within Lightroom and have never had an issue with it until NOW. I could see the photos on my drive and could open them from Photoshop, but they were invisible to Lightroom. There were several attempts over period of days- but then I abandoned the project once more. I sat down one last time to try again yesterday- and there they were! Right there in the Lightroom catalog- not grayed out- not missing, just THERE! I may or may not print them. I’m a bit sick of them right now- so much for the obsession!
So I decided that they will at least appear on the blog as a slideshow before they disappear again. Many of these photos have already appeared on this blog- but here they are again- all together!
Editing notes: to bring some cohesiveness to the project I re-edited all the images and added textures (usually scratchy ones).
One of my AAUW photo group friends was giving away peaches yesterday- a perfect opportunity for me to finally get back into my still life “studio.” I have been so busy lately that I have had to put still life photography and macros on the back burner and just rely on the travel shots I’ve done throughout the summer.
I used my Lensbaby with the Edge 80 attached for these photos- and then ended up doing a version in Topaz Impression as well.
I added a texture to the original photo below to soften the black background.
I used one of the Van Gogh filters, although there were MANY other options that would have worked well too. I usually take the photos back into Photoshop and mask off portions to reduce the painterly effect, but I really liked them straight out of Impression this time.
Have a great Friday!
I took some time a few days ago to take some abstract macro shots of lilies. I added a couple textures for that painterly look I love- and the first one I also took into Topaz Simplify. Truthfully, because of the shallow depth of field, it looked pretty painterly already, but I love to fiddle around with my images. It is my form of a mindfulness meditation and satisfies my childhood ambition to be an artist when I grew up. 🙂
My Friday Find is borrowed from my friend, Debbie, who graciously allowed me to photograph it this week. You may see it again, because I have some other ideas before I return it. And my goodness, there’s that straw hat again!
This is a Lensbaby shot with added textures. I like the look that some of my textures give my walls- wish they really looked like that!
And here is the same photo (in the original proportions- I “stretched the canvas” of the top one in Photoshop) with a black and white preset I adapted from one I had gotten from somewhere. I wanted a light-ish black and white conversion, which I sometimes do by adjusting tones etc. This time I decided to save it as a preset, hoping it will work on other photos as well.
Hats on Chairs- catching up on still life challenges for The Studio Online!
If you have been following my blog for awhile, you have seen this chair many times- and if you’ve been following it for a LOOOOONG while, you seen the hat. Oh well- you’ve seen them, because they’re great props for still life photography! And, no doubt, you will see them again!
I think dreamy macros of flowers, weeds, or leaves are my favorite photos to take. There is something so relaxing about seeing objects so closeup, so different from the way you would ordinarily see them- and then moving the camera or changing the aperture or area of focus just a slight bit to get an entirely different view. It’s like a mindfulness meditation. And then there’s the editing- so much fun! I used different Lightroom presets as starting points in editing the dandelion macros below- I’m not sure which I like best.