Sunday, August 25, 2019

One Spot Wonder

"Do not be afraid to walk the path that you must go just because you cannot see the end. The path becomes clearer as you continue to go on."   ~ Tracy Allen

This past week I started a new photography class with a group of friends. The core group of us have been friends since the Summer of 2012. Seven years already. How did that happen? Through those seven years, we have enfolded a few other kindred souls. You may be wondering where we meet. Good question. We meet online, in a Facebook group that was born out another class we all took together from the delightful online instructor Kim Klassen. The class was on blogging. That was how we began our lives together.

Our new photography class is once again taught by the talented Kim Klassen. It has been a while since she has taught a photography class, and it has been a while since I have taken one focused on adventures with my camera. I was excited, and I was excited to share the adventure with my friends.

I went out shooting Monday and Tuesday mornings. First to a sunflower field recommended by a friend, and then to the lake near my house for sunrise and boat photos. Our first lessons were on framing and focus. Good refresher lessons.

I was eager to share my photos with my friends in the group. But, I didn't want to be the only one sharing photos, so Monday night I gave them a pep talk. I love to be one who inspires, but I also need others to inspire me. This is a group of highly talented women - photography, art, writing - they are amazing. I encouraged them to go out, do the lessons, and post their photos. None of us signed up and paid the money for the course to have it just sit in our inboxes.

My encouragement must have worked because on Tuesday photos started to flood the group.  Not everybody in the group is in the class, but I pleaded for everyone in the group to please share photos, I know they have them.

I hope we can keep this momentum going.

Friday morning, I had to heed my own advice. I had planned to go out shooting. I had gathered my gear Thursday night. I had my location picked out. But when I woke up Friday morning, the last thing I wanted to do was get moving right away so I could be at my location and ready to shoot for the sunrise at 6:59 a.m. I thought, maybe I will just take the dog for a walk and then work on my art class, that is something I can do in any light. But then I heard my own voice in my head saying the same words to myself that I had written to them. So I quickly showered, skipped breakfast, left my husband in charge of the dog, grabbed my camera bag and left the house.

I did change my mind from my original location idea, and it bought me an extra half hour before the sun licked the features of my main subject. For class, one of our assignments was to stay and photograph in one spot - ideally a four to five foot radius. When the dog and I had been hiking at this park the day before I thought the bridge would be perfect place for the one spot challenge. 

I did wander more than five feet, but I did stay on the bridge the whole time, so that counts as one spot. Once out there, and as the sun began to come up, I forgot about my lack luster attitude for going out to photograph, and was really glad I listened to the voice in my head.

I spent an hour on the bridge. I never saw another person. I hear a lot of nature noises: ducks quacking, acorns sounding like rain as they slipped free of the tree branch and pelleted the leaves on their way to the ground. Lovely bird songs, and something larger and louder crashing around at the edge of the river upstream.

Every time I turned around, looked up or looked down, I saw something else that I wanted to photograph. Eventually though, the sun was getting too high and too bright. It was time to go home, make a cup of tea, eat breakfast and take the dog for a walk in the woods.

As much as I hate to admit it, it was that low sunrise light that made these photographs magical. The light inspired me to keep looking, to keep shooting.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Garden Recommendations

Asking for help does not come easy for me. I think that is largely due to my German/Italian heritage. If you are physically and mentally capable, you figure it out and do it yourself. This is why I will probably never have a cleaning lady. When I do ask for help it is because I need something hung on the wall, that usually doesn't go all that well.

But, last week I reached out and asked for recommendations on FB for local flower farms where I could go photograph. I know this seems such a low hurdle in the help-asking arena, but for me it was still hard. I have Google at my fingertips, and with my many years of wandering, I should be able to figure it out. What I have learned though is that people want to help.  Within 24 hours, I had three awesome recommendations.

The flower farm was for Exercise 36 in the book Shooting with Soul. You are probably tired of reading about this book every time I post, but I need this book and these exercises to get out of my daily rut. Without the book, my wanderings are limited to walks with the puppy at the beach, in the woods, at the park, and downtown. Wash, rinse, and repeat. I need my brain and my eyes to be challenged to look for something new, to think new thoughts, and to get out with my big camera by myself.

Now if you have the book and look at Exercise 36, you might wonder what am I talking about - going to a flower farm? The lesson instructs you to buy fresh flowers, arrange them and photograph them in your home. I will get to that this winter when there is nothing to do outside. I am choosing to follow just the last couple sentences: "Then, with input from all of your senses, take photos that infuse your images with your thoughts and feelings. Repeat as needed throughout the year."

As I said I received three recommendations, and I plan to explore them all, but I started with the one closest to my house. Sunrise is at 6:43 and I wanted early morning light, but I didn't want to leave the house at five o'clock. Plus my recommendation came from the wife of the owner of the wholesale garden I was going to.

The funny thing is, more than a decade ago, I actually worked in these display gardens for a few summers. I worked for a friend who was contracted to maintain the large gardens. I haven't been back in many years. Some of it felt familiar, but a lot of it felt so different. It was the perfect combination of comfort and exciting new discoveries.

This week, I also started a new art class from Laly Mille - Soulful Abstracts. One of the first exercises we had to do was find images on Pinterest based on questions about ourselves.  My finds were the color palette I expected, although I feel my green color is more clearly defined now, what did surprise me was how dark and moody a lot of the images were. That dark moody feeling definitely influenced my photography at the garden. I might be in love. I looked at everything with a completely new perspective.

This is going to be a really good class for my art and my photography.