Thursday, February 28, 2013

Finding My Eye: Seeing by Drawing

Our lesson for Kat's Journey of Fascination this time was to photograph an object, and then draw it.

I put this lesson off for a bit, partly because we were going to be gone for a long weekend visiting our daughter at college. Partly because I was scared of it.

The last time I drew something that I was proud of was when I was about 10 years old. I drew a picture of a Basenji dog that I had found in a dog book. I took great care to get everything in correct scale, and even colored the whole picture of this dog in a grassy field. I was so proud of myself. I wish I knew what happened to that picture, although maybe memory is better than the actual picture. I am not 10 anymore and I am much more critical of myself than I was then.

Yesterday, I began the assignment. I searched the house for a sketch pad and the right pencil. The pencil is very important to me. I set up my object, a wood cornice piece that I bought at an Antique Market a couple of years ago. I snapped a few pictures before I started to draw.

Then it was time, time to draw. I sat on my kitchen chair in front of my object with my (formerly my daughter's) sketch pad in my lap and a creamy, lead pencil in my hand. I began to follow the lines. Straight lines, curved lines, angled lines and lines of texture.

I was particularly fascinated with the molding at the bottom of the cornice. Maybe because I felt I drew that the best.

I thought of the craftmanship that went into making this piece, the layers, two side faces with Curley Q designs and the strong solid center. I also loved the nail holes, wondering how long those nails have been there.

This was a challenging but rewarding exercise. I will do it again. I have lots of empty pages in that sketch book. I think it will be kind of fun to fill them up.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Winter Wonderland

This past weekend we were in Marquette, which is in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, visiting our daughter at college. It was wonderful to see her, great to get away for a long weekend, and provided a wonderful opportunity to do a Walk and Click on the road.

We spent a good part of the day on Saturday out hiking. We started out at Presque Isle Park, which is one of my favorite places in Marquette. It is located close to the University and town, but feels miles away.

Glen and Mallory are my adventure hikers. I am happy to wander about with my camera and capture their adventures.

 Presque Isle is located on Lake Superior, beautiful and majestic any time of year.

These ice rings on the lake remind me of Cheerios floating in milk.

After our two hour hike at Presque Isle, we had a traditional U.P. lunch of Pasties. I, unfortunately forgot to take a picture of mine until it was gone. So here is a picture from the internet.

After lunch we went to the Ice Caves.

The trail to the Ice Caves was challenging at times, but worth the trip.

The trek back to the car provided a barn for me :)

I hope you enjoyed seeing the pictures from this Winter Wonderland.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Finding My Eye: Creative Breakthroughs 2013

I know that 2013 is going to be a big breakthrough year for me. I laid a lot of ground work last year and I am ready to capitalize on that. My One Little Word for 2013 is Journey. I am making it a year of self-improvement and creative growth. I am on an exciting Journey.

Two areas that I seen Creative Breakthroughs in already are:

I have been working with a personal trainer to give me confidence in my body. I have had back and hip  problems on and off for years, so we are working on strengthening those areas. Along with confidence in my body, I am gaining self-confidence. Personal Training, I think needs to work on fixing the body and the mind. My trainer has me repeat the phrase "I Approve of Myself" 100 times a day in my head. Easy enough to do when you are driving around town or cleaning the house. It is amazing what this little mantra can do. I have tweaked the phrase a little to fit me better, mine is "I am Good Enough".

About the same time that I started personal training, I also started Kat's Starting the Journey Class. I live for those Sunday and Wednesday emails, wondering what creative aspect we will be exploring this time. Kat's prompts have me stepping back and looking at my previously taken photos with an objective eye. You know what I have found by doing this? I am good enough!

Still Life Photography and North Window Light
I have never been one to do a lot of Still Life photography, mainly because I always felt a story needs to go with the picture. I am doing Kim Klassen's year long class, Beyond Beyond Layers, and Kim does a lot of Still Life combined with her textures. I knew that this class would be a good thing, it would push me out of my comfort zone and I would learn new things.

My Creative Breakthrough is that I discovered North facing window light. I usually shoot on my sun porch, it has west and south facing windows and produces a warmer light, which is what I thought I liked. Thought being the key word here. One day last week I brought my daughter's black piano bench up from her room and set it in front of the North facing windows in our bedroom. I recreated a still life I had done a few days earlier on the sun porch. I shot away and was happy with what I was seeing on the back of my camera. Imagine my shock when I loaded these pictures into Lightroom. I LOVED what I saw. I compared the photos from each shoot and the North window ones won hands down.

Now I am excited to get my camera and tripod out and try different set-ups, knowing that a fair amount of the time they will turn out pretty good.

The top picture is the South/West windows
Bottom picture is the North windows

In a Nutshell
My Creative Breakthroughs come from taking classes, learning new things, exploring and having the confidence to try something different.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A Love Affair with an Era

I have fallen in love with a book...

This book is about the resort community of Macatawa Park, which had its heyday in the late 1800's and until the early 1920's.  I have always been intrigued by that time period and especially the buildings from that era.

So for my Walk and Click adventure this week I visited our local museum.

They have some wonderful information and pictures of the resort area in their permanent display. Thankfully they allowed photos in that area, so I didn't have to be sneaky with my iPhone.

Macatawa Park
In 1882 the Macatawa Park Association was founded for the purpose of developing a resort on Lake Michigan at the mouth of Black Lake. Cottages were built and a hotel opened. In 1895 the new Hotel Macatawa was completed with 60 well-appointed rooms. Thousands of visitors came by rail and ferry and later by steamer. The hotel was razed in 1956.

I am so bummed that it was razed and I was born a little to late to see it. 

This is the competition across Black Lake, working on their own resort community.

The Hotel Ottawa
Built in 1886 for 1,000 guests, The Hotel Ottawa was the center of the Ottawa Beach Resort area north of the channel. The Pere Marquette Railroad provided service from Grand Rapids beginning in 1890, steamships arrived daily from Chicago. The hotel was destroyed by fire in 1923, but the area's popularity continued with the opening of Holland State Park in 1928.

There was even a roller coaster where cottages stand today.

Jenison Park
Originally a residential resort, Jenison Park was transformed by the Interurban railway into an amusement park in 1903. A figure-eight roller coaster, a giant swing, slot machines, and other concessions made the park a popular attraction until the 1920's. A variety of problems, climaxed by the Interurban's demise, led to its closing.

I hope to get back over to that side of town in the near future to poke around and take some pictures. This is the same area as from my lighthouse post.

A Few Other Fun Items at the Museum

The Drive-In Menu From Russ' Restaurant 

A dollar and change for a hamburger.

Love this old postage machine. Sanitary stamps made me laugh :)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Finding My Eye: Creative Breakthroughs 2012

Sunday's assignment in Kat's Journey of Fascination class was to look back at my recent past and try to pinpoint things that caused Breakthroughs in my creative work. These three stood out in 2012.

Creative Community
My first creative breakthrough in 2012 came in the form of a creative community. This community came from a Facebook Group formed from the class participants of Kim Klassen's Behind the Scenes blog related class. These are my best friends that I have never met. The support of like-minded people that "get" you is priceless. We encourage, motivate, learn from and even enable each other. I would not be where I am today without this group, literally, since my friend Viv introduced me to Kat.

Before I took Kim Klassen's Lightroom class - Roundtrip, I was shooting in jpeg and doing minimal processing in iPhoto. After taking Roundtrip, I was confident enough to shoot in RAW and process in Lightroom. The creative freedom that shooting in RAW has given me is again priceless.

Walk and Click Wednesday
In early September a friend that I met in my creative FaceBook Group, started a feature on her blog called Walk and Click Wednesday. I fell in love with this idea of going out for a walk once a week, exploring with my camera and then posting those results on Wednesdays. I now have a "bucket list" of over 20 places I want to go explore and shoot this year.

**These are my creative breakthroughs in 2012. I will post my creative breakthroughs in 2013 in a separate post.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Beyond, Beyond - Week 4 - Inside Out

Our assignment for Week 4 was to find something in the house and bring it outside to photograph.

I decided to take one of the flowers my dad brought over for Valentine's Day outside in a vase. Of course, as soon as I got set up outside it started to snow like crazy. The snow does look kind of pretty on the red petals of the flower.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Finding My Eye: Contrasts

I will have to admit that I haven't given much thought to the concept of contrast in my photos. I am always so concerned with composition, focus, focal point and lighting. Those are the things that are always on the mental checklist when I shoot. Maybe unconsciously contrast already plays a part in my photography.

Example #1: Line and Body

Example #2: Bright/Neutral

Example #3: Soft/Hard

Example #4:Curved/Straight

Example #5: Manmade/Natural

Example #6: Light/Dark

Example #7: Area/Body

After reading Kat's Wednesday lesson, it gave me more to ponder and something to consciously take into consideration when I am out and about, or even at home shooting a carefully arranged still life.

Our assignment this week was to go on a Contrast Photowalk with our list of possible contrasts and shoot as many of them as we could find. That will have to be Part 2 of this lesson, doing this when the snow isn't falling like crazy and it is a bit warmer and less windy. Hopefully this will happen before this class is finished in three weeks :)

Friday, February 15, 2013

Beyond, Beyond - Week 3 - Focal Point

Week 3's challenge from Kim was to experiment with different focal points. I chose to make another still life setting. Kim's class is a good one for me to play with still life photography, something I would not normally do.

The thing I find challenging about still life's is: I like too many of the ones I take and it is hard to narrow down my choices. When I am out in nature I don't get to play for an hour on one scene.

These two were taken in a room with west and south facing windows. I know this lesson wasn't on light, but wow did I find a difference.

These were taken on a different day in a room with a north facing window. I was so surprised at the difference between the two rooms. The bedroom might become my new still life studio.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Winter in the Garden

Last week Friday I went on my first Creative Inspiration Day - CID. You can read about how CID came to be at my other blog Becoming a Finisher.

It had snowed like crazy on Thursday night and I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to go to my first choice for the day, Fredrik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park. Thankfully the sun came out and beautiful blue skies prevailed.

I have been wanting to go to the Gardens and shoot them in the winter.

Lovely vines on the walls.

The American Horse by Nina Akamu.

My favorite part of the Gardens is The 1930's Michigan Farm. 

Other than the workers snowplowing the paths, I was the only person out there. Something that can only happen at this time of year.

I hope to go back and shoot the garden in each of the seasons. So bring on Spring!

*Linking up with Lissa for Walk and Click Wednesday.