Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Photo-Heart Connection ~ April


My Observations: Texture, texture and more texture. Also wonderful soft north window light. I love the soft muted colors. Even the one lone bud that fell behind the blue bottle.

The Story Behind the Photo: I love to go antiquing. This past Sunday was the opening day of one of our local outdoor antique markets. I am always on the hunt for interesting photography props. This lovely frosted blue glass bottle spoke to me right away. The frosted pane window was a last minute find, thankfully that way I didn't have to carry it for long. I debated about it, even walked away for a while, but it drew me back and I knew I would be sorry if I didn't get it. I got the window idea from a photo that my daughter forwarded to me that a friend of hers had taken. In her photo the window was intact in the wall and old with beautiful charm. This is my work around to getting an old window to photograph by.

My Heart Connection: I have been in the doldrums photographically speaking lately. Nothing seems to feel right, I have not been truly happy with anything I have shot. Last week I started coming out of this pit of despair. I went out shooting quite a bit over the last couple of weeks. Slowly it has been coming back; the desire, the love, the happiness. This photograph represents turning a corner, coming back to photography happiness. There are still things I would tweak on this, but instead of that depressing me, it makes me want to keep shooting, keep trying new things.

Participating in Kat Sloma's Photo-Heart Connection.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Searching for My Ancestors

I have been searching for my grandparents and great grandparents graves on and off since last fall. I knew the general area that they should be in, but never quite seemed to find them. Recently I had a conversation with my dad and brother and was able to nail down the locations better.

Monday afternoon, a day that was sunny and in the 60's (the first one we have had this spring) I set out with my new knowledge, determined to have success. I was rewarded for my determination...

My Grandpa - I think I forgot he has the same birthday as my dad.

My Grandmother - Her name was Erma, but everybody called her Jane.

I feel that my great aunt needs something under her name too. Maybe beloved aunt?

My grandparents and great aunt are buried in Lakeshore Cemetery, which for a cemetery is quite boring, all flat grave markers. While my great grandparents are buried in Lake Forest Cemetery which is a photography dream of a cemetery. The cemeteries are only about 5 miles apart but what a contrast.

The top one is Lakeshore were my grandparents are and the bottom two pictures are from Lake Forest.

I did find my great grandparents as well. They are kind of tucked away in a quiet but dark corner of the cemetery. I wished I had had a little whisk broom to clean off their markers.

Mission finally accomplished, I wandered around looking for more photo opportunities, of which there are many.

This monument made me laugh. Henry Lilley and his two wives are all buried together. Frances the first one died in 1884 and Emmie the second one died in 1886. Henry outlasted them both by a bit.

Some other lovely shots from around Lake Forest...

Always love a crumbling wall.

Lots of old stairs in this cemetery.

Headstones seems to be everywhere.

This cemetery represents so many things that I love about photography; details, old and decaying (no pun intended), nature and architecture. I plan on coming back here many times over the next year to work on my photography skills. This is the perfect environment to do that, and there will always be new things to see, so I will never get bored.

**With sadness Lissa at laf custom designs has announced that this will be the last Walk and Click Wednesday. Part of me is very sad to see this link up go, and part of me is ready to move on to new projects. I have learned so much from this regular feature and feel that my photography has benefited greatly from it. The best thing is it got me out exploring, which is so ingrained now, that exploring with my camera will continue anyway.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Traveling: The Food Experience

I may have said a time or two before that I am part Italian and that I love food. I love everything about it: cooking it, eating it, and every aspect of the restaurant experience as it relates to food.

In the days when our family was young most of our traveling was limited to camping. Our typical day in relationship to food consisted of bacon and eggs or french toast and Brown 'n Serve sausage links for breakfast. Lunch would be sandwiches if we were hiking, or fast food if we were out and about. Then back to the camp site for hotdogs or brats over the fire for supper.

There were no fine dining experiences in those days. Partially due to Mallory's limited palatable range, mainly consisting of hot dogs, chicken fingers, and grilled cheese. Mostly though, it is hard to have a fine dining experience on a fast food budget.

The first memorable dining experience that I can specifically relate to a trip occurred in June, 2002 at the Painted Horse Grille in Kalispell, Montana. Ironically we were on a two week road trip then through Montana, and South Dakota with a slight detour through Yellowstone. I think what made the experience so memorable was that it was a completely different dining experience than we were use to. The waiter was outstanding, yet it was double of what we were use to paying for a meal. I still have the receipt from that dinner in a scrapbook. (And yes Glen, I checked they are still there, so if we find ourselves in Kalispell this summer we are going back.)

Covent Garden - London
When Mallory and I went to Europe in July, 2007, I got a little smarter and started taking pictures of some of our meals. I think mostly because we were in a foreign country and the food was so different and unique. I wanted to document that in the scrapbook I was planning on doing.

Fish & Chips
Over the years I have been hit and miss with this aspect of the travel experience. I do want to be more consistent with it in the future, not just for big traveling trips, but also on experiences closer to home. I know having an iPhone will make it easier, much less conspicuous than a big dSLR.

I started putting this into practice this week when I was at a local coffee shoppe working on another project. I took a picture of my Vanilla Latte and yummy Chocolate Chip Scone. I do love a good scone.

Do you have a memorable traveling food experience? I would love to hear it.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Chewin' and Stewin'

I have been chewing and stewing for the last week and a half about how I want to approach Kat Sloma's A Sense of Place class.

Photo credit - Mallory Huizenga

So far the material has been heavily travel photography based, which I don't want to disregard in preparation for our two week road trip to Montana this summer. I want to record this aspect of the class in my blog so that I have notes to go back to when we are on the road. Let's face it by the time of the trip I will be 45, and it is hard enough now at 44 to remember what I did yesterday.

The Chicken Coop
That being said I also want to pursue what I originally intended to do with this class, and that is to explore my own sense of place. I have never lived farther than 20 miles from where I grew up. Many of the places that have influenced my life are still accessible to me and I want to be able document them. I want to document them for me but also to be able to pass the stories along to my daughter. Having done work on family scrapbooks with photographs that I got from my great aunt after she passed away, I wish that there had been documented stories to go with the pictures.

So this is how I have decided to tackle it, the travel posts will start with something original like "Traveling" at the start of the blog post title. My own personal stories will start with, yep you guessed it, "My Sense of Place".

I feel that by approaching the subjects in this manner, I can keep them both straight in my mind and do them both the justice they deserve.

Let the adventure begin...

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Downtown - In Between the Rain Drops

Last week we got a deluge of rain, making it very hard to go out and shoot without getting soaked. While I was downtown last week Friday, it actually stopped raining for a little while. So in between the rain drops I wandered up and down our main street taking pictures of the various buildings and enjoy the soft light from the overcast sky.

I love the colors on this building and the wonderful script in the name.

Many of these buildings have such lovely detail on the top portion of them, while the retail bottom half has been updated and modernized.

Back in my day (gosh doesn't that make me sound old :) The retail storefront of this building held a shop called the Rain Tree. It was where all us girls in high school would go to get our Gunny Sack dresses for the semi-formal dances. I think I still have mine in my cedar chest. I might have to dig through that thing one of these days.

Such lovely detail on these windows. The restaurant is one of our favorite places to eat.

Best breakfast in town. Cinnamon rolls the size of the plate.

Our only local book store left in town.

Soon to be one of those fancy new frozen yogurt places. I am pleased to see they have left the original display window from when this use to be a jewelry store.

This bench, in the summer, is always in use by the residents of the Warm Friend, our downtown Independent Senior Living Community.

Beautiful detail on our two downtown banks.

Nope, don't need a drink of water today.

**Joining Lissa at laf Custom Designs for Walk and Click Wednesday.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Catching Up - A Breakfast Conversation

This past weekend I met a friend for breakfast.

Over a scrumptious Greek egg scramble, homemade sour dough bread, and fresh squeezed orange juice with a 1/2 inch of pulp on top, we caught up.

Now other than keeping track of each other on Facebook and the chance encounter at a local pizzeria a couple of months ago, we haven't seen each other is several years. Yet somehow our lives keep intersecting.

We first met some 15 years ago when I worked at a rubber stamp and scrapbook store. She is a very gifted artist and would occasionally do in-store demonstrations for us. We would strike up conversations and always seemed to click. Eventually I left the store and we lost track of each other.

In 2003 we went church shopping and finally settled on one that had something for everyone in the family. One of the first Sundays we were there who do I see up on stage in the Praise Band, my friend. Slowly we reconnected. Over the course of time, she moved out of town to explore new possibilities in her life and we lost touch again.

2013, and we have been reconnecting via Facebook. Then much to my surprise she shows up in an on-line travel/photography class that I am in. Well, that pushed it over the edge, we had to get together and catch up.

After an hour long breakfast conversation, and feeling the pressure from the waiting area for our coveted booth. We decided to move to a nearby coffee shop and continue our time together.

During our continued conversation, my friend is watching the guy that is roasting the coffee beans. After he is done roasting, and he is preparing to leave he comes over to the table behind us to gather his personal belongings. Now my friend is bold compared to my reserved personality, the next thing I know she is engaging him in conversation and getting permission to let us come to their larger roasting facility and take pictures. She is the push I need to get out there more and not be afraid to ask for permission to shoot something, the worst they can do is say no.  

Two big things I took away from our morning together:
  • Be bold and just ask
  • As immensely talented as an artist, as my friend is, she still struggles with her sense of place in it all.
Our conversation got me thinking, what if it isn't about the destination after all, but what we learn from the journey along the way that really matters.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Felt Mansion

This week for Walk and Click Wednesday I went back to a place I had photographed ever so briefly last fall, it is someplace that I have been longing to go back to.

The first photograph was taken just after I got there, about 5 minutes after sunrise. Yes, I have made two early golden hours in a row. The second photograph was taken about 10 minutes later. I love to see the transformation that the golden light makes to the front of the house.

Chicago inventor and businessman Dorr Felt built this house as a summer home for his wife, Agnes in 1928. Felt held numerous patents, most notably for the Comptometer, the first machine to do complex calculations.

In 1919 Felt purchased more than 750 acres of land here and named it Shore Acres Farm. The family stayed in a farmhouse on the property until this house was completed. The 12,000+ square foot mansion consists of 25 rooms, including a third-floor ballroom.

The estate had extensive gardens, orchards, cornfields, a diary, vineyards, and a small zoo that was open to the public.

Agnes Felt died two months after the house was finished, and Dorr died two years later. The Felt's daughters and grandchildren owned the estate until 1949 when they sold it to an Augustinian order of the Catholic Church.

The St. Augustine Seminary, a Catholic prep school for young men, bought the mansion and grounds. Outgrowing the carriage house, which they used for classrooms, and the mansion which they used for housing, the Seminary built a school on the ridge west of the mansion. After moving into the school in the mid 1960's, a group of cloistered nuns live in the mansion.

In the late 1970's, the State of Michigan purchased the property to use as a prison. Only a portion of the mansion was used during these years as offices. The state owned the grounds until the early 1990's when they sold it to the local township. The township bought it for $1, with the stipulation that the mansion be used for the public, not sold or used for private enterprise.

The mansion and grounds are being slowly restored to their 1920's splendor. They do rent it out for weddings and receptions, as well as, other events. Wouldn't this be a beautiful setting for a wedding.

I have never been inside the mansion, although they do have occasional tours and events that the public can attend. My goal is to get inside one of these days.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Photo-Heart Connection ~ March

I so desperately wanted to NOT use this photo for Kat Sloma's March Photo-Heart Connection.

I had another picture all edited and ready to go, I even did some fancy post processing in Rad Lab on it. Unfortunately, the story kept forming around this photo.

I took this photo for an assignment for Kim Klassen's Beyond, Beyond class. The assignment was "shooting from above". It was early in the photo session and I was still trying to get placement of the vase on the chair nailed down. I was snapping away without paying too much attention to what was displayed on the back of the camera.

When I loaded the pictures from that session on my computer, I fell in love with this photo. The angle of the chair, the soft blur of the chair, the vibrant colors, the light, everything except for what wasn't in focus. I really wanted the purple flowers to be the main focal point.

I went back and tried to recreate the shot, to no avail. I would be close but it was never quite the one. Every couple of days I would try again, never with complete success. Eventually the flowers died and I had to let this shot go.

March, for me, has been a lot like this photo, trying and trying to get the right part in focus.

I am hoping with the start of Kat's A Sense of Place class next week, I will be able to get my focus back.

Van Raalte Farm

Last Friday I got up well before the sun, because I wanted to experience that magical "golden hour" that photographers love. This is not my first early "golden hour" but it has been a few years. I plan to do more of these this year, because that light is so worth it.

I drove to a Historic Farm that is about 15 minutes from my house.

Van Raatle Farm
The farm is located on 160 acres of land. The founding father of our city, Reverend Albertus Van Raatle, purchased the land from the federal government over 140 years ago for $2.32/acre. This house was built in 1872.

The site has been referred to as "The Maples" due to the large majestic trees planted by Van Raatle that form a dense canopy in the front of the house.

My objective for coming here was to get some pictures of the sap buckets and the Sugar Shack. Our local Nature Center moved their Sugar Shack to this property in 2005, so that they could begin tapping the maples and showing students how maple syrup was made.

Shortly after the Civil War the barns were built. There are two barns and the foundation for what was once a third storage building.

At one time, the land was heavily farmed and had an orchard, peony fields, and diary cows.

I loved exploring here.

*Linking up with Lissa for Walk and Click Wednesday