Friday, March 26, 2010

A Sure Sign of Spring!

Endless patches of scorched earth are always our first sign of spring in Downeast Maine! The blueberry barrens are burned to destroy weeds and unwanted plants that would crowd Maine's famous wild blueberries. The berries are tiny and incredibly sweet.....soooo much better than cultivated! In time, the fields will be a mass of tiny delicate flowers and crates of bees will be brought in to pollinate the new plants....but not just yet. It snowed this morning!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

What happened before...

Walking through back streets and old neighborhoods on a moonlit night in Key West, Florida.

Abandoned house in Brunswick, Maine.

"Ancient Whispers", Uxmal, Yucatan, Mexico.

Eaux Puiseaux, Aube en Champagne, France.

My camera records impressions of what I am feeling as well as what I am seeing, and light, smell, temperature and texture all become part of the image. At the same time, I feel linked to the past. Whispers echoing through old stone, currents of air rustling through trees and the creak of weathered wood are translated into digital code when I walk slowly, soaking up the atmosphere of days long gone.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Water Abstracts

Shallow Water, Mere Point, Brunswick, Maine.

Kayak Reflections, Mere Point, Brunswick, Maine.

Water Reflections in Color, Islamorada, Florida.

Reflections ~ Pelicans on a Yellow Boat, Islamorada, Florida.

Marina Reflections, Islamorada, Florida.

One of my Flickr contacts wrote that she needed mountains all around her to feel comfortable. I love their majesty and the long shadows they cast as the sun sinks throughout the day, but my heart belongs at the water's edge. I am a coastal person.

I have always been intrigued by the light and movement on water surfaces. Familiar shapes take on new forms, a subtle range of colors appear and often lines, so fine, they could have been drawn in pen and ink. The overall effect is that of a large canvas.

Flickr contact, ccgoldendreamer, saw monsters! You can see her interpretation of Marina Reflections here.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Crossing Water ~ 2 bridges, 3 views

The Seven Mile Bridge between the Gulf of Mexico and the Florida Strait. Florida Keys.

A section of the older bridge, constructed under the direction of Henry Flagler during the years 1902-1912. The bridge was part of the Florida East Coast Railway and was destroyed during the Labor Day hurricane of 1935. Today it is often used as a fishing pier and enjoyed by walkers.

Anyone who has driven south from Florida's middle keys will be familiar with the dramatic sight of the Seven Mile Bridge. The crossing between the Gulf of Mexico and the Florida Strait provides an exhilarating view of shimmering sky and water. My photos were taken on the move and I later made a few adjustments in the images to capture the mood of time slowing down as one approaches an older Florida that does not reflect the change in the upper keys. When we reached the other side, Rt. 1 continues through sleepy towns toward historic Key West, the southern most point in the United States.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Cropped.....or TMI

Long legs, Islamorada, Florida

Off the coast, Islamorada, Florida.

Maine Cottage, July 31, 2009.

Hungry, Mount Desert Island, Maine. April 1, 2009.

Coba, Quintana Roo, Mexico. January 2009.

I'm sure this is an indication of bad photography, but sometimes I am so intent on my subject that I miss all the unwanted and extraneous information that turns up in the image. Half of the time I don't even see all the detritus until I have uploaded the photo to my computer....and then the difference between what I thought I saw and what the camera recorded is quite unanticipated. I'm stirred by the colors, shapes, motion, drama and light and will try anything to capture those situations in all their exciting permutations. So, when things get messy, I crop!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Knock Knock! For J & J

Knock knock

Who's there?

Irish stew

Irish stew who?

Irish stew in the name of the law!

myspace good luck comments
Good Luck

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

....and this link.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Back Stairs ~ Random Memory #8 ~ Iran

Worn treads on the back stairs of our 1890 Victorian farmhouse, taken in January, 2009. The stairs are narrow and very treacherous!

Random Memory #8 ~ Iran

When we arrived, Tehran was a crowded city clogged with traffic and pedestrians. There were travelers from everywhere. Hotels were overbooked and lobbies and hallways were full of tired people who would have given anything (and did!) for a bed and a shower. Both were unobtainable without baksheesh placed in a 'helpful' hand. In light of the situation, Peter and I felt very fortunate to have rooms at the Park Hotel in central Tehran. At best, it was a roof over our heads. There was no pool, no tv, no cafe, no room service, no garden and no nearby park. A buffet dinner was served at 9:30 p.m. and it was in those circumstances that I did my utmost to entertain the children with a little imagination (stretched thin!) and the few items packed in our suitcases. I washed their clothes in the bathtub and Peter bribed the cook so JCB and John would not have to wait for the traditional Iranian dinner hour. The cook agreed to leave two plates of chicken (ju je) kebab on the back stairs by 7:30 p.m. He said it was the best he could do and he kept his promise. The dish was always hot and delicious and JCB and John still love juje kebab to this day.

Life at the Park Hotel was mind numbing for all of us and, while we were physically comfortable, the days stretched on with a tedium that is almost impossible to describe. The saving grace, that salvaged my sanity, turned out to be the closet size gift shop in the hotel lobby. There wasn't much there except for the small miracle in the sparsely filled book rack. I've never understood why, or how they came to have a nearly complete collection of John Steinbeck, but there they were. I didn't hesitate, I bought them all!

Many weeks later we were able to move across the city to the Hilton Hotel. The lobby, alone, provided endless entertainment with a fascinating parade of chic Iranian women clattering across the marble floor in strappy vertiginous heels. There was (oh joy!) a twenty-four hour restaurant that served hamburgers and fries and (perhaps) best of all, the belly dancer in the night club who wore weird and dangerous white patent leather platform shoes. We all obsessed over those for weeks! We made friends and ventured out into the beautiful countryside. I learned simple phrases and numbers in Farsi. The children started school (other memories!) Life began again....

post script....

As I wrote this, I realized I had not thought of the belly dancer at the Tehran Hilton in years. From my present perspective, I realize she was really a tragic figure to have had such a job in Iran's culture. Surely, she did not fare well after the revolution.

...and one more thing. My friend, Marie Mautner, reminded me that the Iranian New Year (No Ruz) is Wednesday, March 17th. Happy New Year to all those who celebrate!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Photo Shoot with my Brother

I had hoped to post this entry with links to some of my brother Fred's images from our photo shoot together at Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island. But, as he put it, "I'm too busy 'doinking' around with the photos in raw." He's an engineer and "doinking" is a distinctly engineering term. I told him there is a fine line between "doinking" and "messing" and he mentioned there is also "frigging" with the photos. All this, of course, sent me to the following on line dictionaries. So, here you go Lil' Bro!

Urban Dictionary ~ "Doinking" is trying to meet an objective that is most likely a waste of time, such as placing a square peg in a round hole...

As for "messing", The Babylon English Dictionary has this to say: mess v. interfere with, meddle: make dirty or untidy; bungle; make an error; eat in company; beat someone up (Slang); be involved in an immoral or unethical situation (Slang)

Merriam-Webster on-line defines "frigging" pretty much the way one would expect with this bit of etymology: Middle English "fryggen" to wriggle. Who knew?!

Fred and I discussed the definitions as they relate to photography and post processing. "Doinking". it would seem, implies some editing finesse while "messing" is what you do with the image when you were too lazy to check your settings in the first place. I think "frigging" is someone's complete disregard for your copyright. On the other hand, engineers use the term when people don't bother to read the ( ! ) manual!

Fred flew home to Kansas the day after our excursion to Acadia and I miss his irreverence and wonderful humor. I also know that when he finally does finish "doinking", he will have some gorgeous images to show for his efforts!

View his Flickr photo stream here.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Editors' Choice ~ recent books of particular interest

Winter reading

THIS BOOK IS OVERDUE! How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All by Marilyn Johnson is featured in The New York Times Book Review which turned up in our mailbox this morning with the description...

A big topic presented via a tour of eccentric characters and unlikely locations.

One of those locations is The Darien Library in Connecticut and Ms Johnson has written a glowing chapter about the helpful staff in this newly built and innovative institution. Congratulations to you in particular! You can read a full review here.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Arthur John Picton's "Walker Art Gallery"

Taken February 19, 2009. Wapping, Liverpool, England.

Arthur's Flickr photo stream was brought to my attention by a mutual contact. It was the beginning of a community of photographers who draw daily inspiration from one another while enjoying a hefty dose of humor from comments that keep us chuckling well into the night.

It would be impossible to pick a favorite from Arthur's diverse collection of images as each is unique and reflects the instincts of a talented young photographer. I chose Walker Art Gallery because I admire the split second timing of his capture and his willingness to toss the manual and fly with the moment. Even so, Arthur never loses control of his equipment which includes an SLR, Holga(s) and a camera phone! In his comments on the photo, he wrote:

I've learned the art of putting the camera round my neck and clicking without looking through the view finder.

I thought, that doesn't sound so hard, but believe me, it is!

Arther John Picton's Flickr name is SomeDriftwood.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Photographer's World from a Small Boat

My husband adores fishing while I am quite certain the fish would be far happier left to their own devices happily swimming about in their watery world, but I love to come along with my camera. The forecast was horrible on the day of our fishing trip in the back country water in Islamorada, Florida. The boat offered no protection, whatsoever, so I left my SLR in our room and tucked my trusty Canon Powershot in my slicker pocket. I love that little workhorse of a camera! The challenges of taking pictures from a boat are many as the waves toss you about making it very difficult to capture a reasonably crisp image. So often we have zoomed past the perfect wildlife shot before I can even focus, and when I do get an interesting shot, it's like winning the lottery!

Portuguese Man-o-war and one of the little fish that typically orbit the creature: I think the sole purpose for their existence is to strike terror in the hearts of swimming children! As a child, I remember them so well on the Texas coast.

Dolphins enjoying the wake of our boat!

When all I see is water and a faint horizon, I photograph the shrimp in the bait well!

The ecology is so fragile here. The poles measure the slow growth of grass in water just a few feet deep.

Bone fishing is done in very shallow water. What you are seeing in this image are propeller scars through the fragile underwater grass (I boosted the contrast for a better view.) Florida is very serious about protecting its marine life habitat and if you are caught destroying the grass with your propeller, the fine is a steep $350 per foot. Our guide gently poles us along through the shallows so we leave no trace of our presence.

All day long we flirted with distant thunder and the threat of a thorough drenching. We were lucky! The storm arrived in earnest shortly after we returned to the marina.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Movies are different now ~ Random Memory #7 ~ Texas

A low light shot without the benefit of a tripod...awkward to bring inside a movie theater!
View on black.

I won't be watching the Oscars because we gave up television a long time ago, but I do love movies. Avatar will probably be a big winner...and it should be! I've seen it twice, finally making the trip to Saco, Maine to see the spectacle in Imax 3D. Wow! Movies aren't what they used to be!

Random Memory #7 ~ Port Arthur, Texas

I have 30 cents of accumulated allowance in my pocket as I walk down 7th street to the movie theater; 25 cents for the movie and a nickle for one of the enormous, crisp, sour dill pickles in the huge glass jar on the candy display case. They are playing Love is a Many Splendored Thing and much of the plot goes right over my head since I am only in fourth grade. I love the scenes shot in Hong Kong, never dreaming I will someday live there.

Years later, snippets of the theme song still buzz around in my head!

Once on a high and windy hill,
two lovers kissed
in the morning mist
and the world stood still...

Friday, March 5, 2010

Borrowing Props

We are sitting at our table on the bayside enjoying margaritas, yellowtail snapper and a glorious first night sunset on Islamorada in the Florida keys. The beach kitty works the crowd of diners with a practiced eye and the entitled demeanor of cats.

Nearly all the customers have cameras and watch the sky as they sip mojitos, Bahama Mamas or margaritas and as the color intensifies, we all wander up and down the beach for our sunset shots. Couples hand cameras to strangers for a portrait against the glowing sky not caring if their faces will become dark ovals as a result of inappropriate back lighting. Perhaps they have a good photo editor!

Some distance away, huge video cameras have been set up on the sand with an assortment of exotic benches, draping and props. Actors or models, I'm not sure which, are positioned with care. The setting is incredibly romantic and I imagine "1-800-SANDALS" flashing across a TV screen. I watch this fantasy scene for awhile and opportunistically zoom in on the candles!

Islamorada Sunset: View on black.

Older posts you might enjoy....