I love attending the Farmer’s Market, in downtown Portland’s South Park Blocks, during the Fall harvest. Daytime temperatures, still pleasant and usually sunny, allows one the opportunity to really appreciate the artistic Autumn displays, by the vendors, while shopping.
The market covers three city park blocks or more,starting at Portland State University, every Saturday from March through December.
As I went about capturing images that caught my eye, I began to think of Thanks Giving, a full two months away. The colorful harvest colors and the aroma of fresh bagels, tasty jams, pungent cheeses and other foods being ready in food booths put me into the spirit of the up and coming holidays.Scent of lavender can still be appreciated though it is past its prime season.
Tasty Liquors and wine booths draws crowds even while the morning is still young.
Herbs, peppers, tomatoes, Bok Choi, Radicchio, leeks, broccoli, the list grows, are artfully displayed, their freshness clear.Vendors and patrons alike all in a festive mood, the experience memorable.
A wonderful start to the Autumn season! Cheers! Prints availiable for some of these images and many more at deebrowningphotography.com
This is a term I hear from time to time in regards to my work and others as photographers. I don’t know why anyone would say this in terms of degrading our work except that they have no knowledge behind their statement. You either like our individual work as photographers or you don’t. The same with any artist’s work. How we produce that work is really irrelevant, though it is important that we know how to use our tools and do so correctly. Because of this I have decided to write a blog on this subject. Not my normal blogging, as I prefer writing about being immersed in the moment of a shoot when I express what I saw and felt, so others can see and feel what I experienced, when looking at the results of my work.
Most people have heard of Ansel Adams and have seen his beautiful images of our nation’s National Parks. A well-known photographer, first known to heavily manipulate his images in the dark room. His famous statement, “The negative is comparable to the composer’s score and print to its performance”. In the digital world, the negative is the RAW/DNG file. This file is full of information captured by the photographer in full control of the camera. Just as in the darkroom of Ansel Adams, that file has to be processed in the digital darkroom to perform. A digital darkroom consists of color calibrated monitors and programs such as Lightroom, Photoshop and others.
There are three groups of digital cameras; the point and shoot fixed lens camera, the dSLR with less than a full sensor, and the Pro-dSLR with a larger full frame sensor. Both allow the photographer more control and artistic flexibility, the ability to shoot in low light without a flash and both RAW and JPEG images. A Pro- dSLR, which I use, allows me, the photographer, an even greater ability and flexibility, such as capturing more light in a dark situation without a flash than that of the smaller sensor dSLR and has more control options. It is more durable and has a higher price tag.
I shoot in RAW almost exclusively, which allows me to keep all the recorded data from the sensor giving me the highest quality files to work with. With a much wider dynamic range and a larger color space, I can push the image further bringing out hidden details in the darkest shadows and/or brightest highlights, without blowing them out and boosting color without oversaturating, which can affect the quality of print. This is Artistic Flexibility! In JPEG files this type of detail often gets tossed away and lost forever by the camera’s JPEG conversion process.
Point and shoot cameras use JPEG exclusively and the camera does the processing. Most times these look great, for the camera makes all the adjustments for you. It is like sending a roll of film to the photo lab to develop your images for you. With JPEG images, you can edit and retouch afterwards, but you will be working with an image that has already been processed with permanent changes, and further changes you make will only degrade it. This is why you always work with a copy of a JPEG file so that the original stays in good shape.
When comparing a RAW file and that of a JPEG file of the same image, the JPEG will always look better. Why? Because it has been processed by the camera. The RAW file appears dull in comparison for it has not been processed. RAW files take up a lot more space on your disc as it is such a huge file packed with information. When closely looked at, the JPEG image may not show the detail in shadows that you wanted to show, because the camera made adjustments by darkening the overall image to compensate for an overly bright sky. Those shadowed details are gone, tossed out by the processing. When processing the same image in the RAW format, one can bring out the details in the shadows and tone down the light in the sky without losing detail in either, if exposure is captured correctly, because nothing was tossed.
To further explain digital processing, one must know before they shoot an image how they want the final output to look. So time is taken to set the camera’s aperture, shutter speed, ISO and white balance, along with numerous other settings required to capture a well-balanced RAW file with tons of data to process later in the digital darkroom. Ansel Adams did this well. A person who does not know how to do this will not be able to produce the image they are after, for they will lack the necessary data required to do so.
Many photographers will shoot portraits and weddings in both JPEG and RAW. The RAW file is so very important for the photographer to use, if need be, to tone down an overly bright cheek, chin or forehead, remove a blemish or anything else that would otherwise make a less than perfect picture to cherish forever without degrading the image. I have had to remove blemishes, spots on clothing, and sometimes those spots that show up from lint or dust on the lens. One thing I do not do is alter one’s appearance. When I work with a person, I will shoot from many different angles, pose them in many different positions and place them in good lighting to capture them at their present best. Teenagers worry about breakouts and since those are not permanent I will “Photoshop” them out as any professional will. If you have wrinkles, they stay but I will position you where they are not so prominent. I strive to capture the best of a person in their true form, including those awful ones of myself. LOL! Like most people I do not like pictures of me, so I let my husband decide which ones to show others.
When shooting real property, RAW is so important in capturing an indoor image of a home that leads to an inviting outdoors. The interior lighting and outdoor lighting comes from different sources. Having a full frame sensor is imperative as it captures more information. Having the knowledge how to process these files correctly is also important for it must represent the true property being captured.
So yes, I “Photoshop”. In reality I use Lightroom and Adobe CS6 Photoshop. When someone uses the word “Photoshop” in a derogatory way, we professionals know they are far from being knowledgeable in the profession of a photographer. So… when you look at a photographer’s work and you think “Wow that is a nice picture!” Appreciate it! Be inspired by it! And by all means BUY IT! LOL! We are artists too and how we use our tools to achieve what we see and interpret, is no different than that of an artist with a brush or other various tools. Unless you have the original file to compare it to, there is no way of knowing how much manipulation was applied beyond the normal process.
Dee Browning, photographer/artist www.deebrowningphotography.com
AMBIENT LIGHT IN PHOTOGRAPHY: available light or ambient light refers to any source of light that is not explicitly supplied by the photographer for the purpose of taking photos. The term usually refers to sources of light that are already available naturally (e.g. the sun, moon, lightning) or artificial light already being used (e.g. to light a room).
On a recent balmy, damp Saturday morning Sonia and I boarded the train to Seattle at Union Station in Portland. The predicted downpour for the day had thankfully arrived early the night before leaving only puddles of water and low hanging clouds. A little disappointed that our train was not the new European style one, recently purchased by Amtrak, but pleased to find it clean and comfortable for I had heard since my last train ride that Amtrak had fallen behind in the upkeep of their trains’ interiors.
Settled in our seats we looked out the picture window, the sky growing lighter with the lifting of the low ceiling clouds allowing a nice view of the scenery passing by. As the train moved northward we noticed periodically leaves, from seemingly nowhere. were flying past our window leaving us to pondering their source. As we passed by the south end of the Puget Sound, we watched the choppy waves rolling across its vast expanse. It was then we realized how hard the wind was blowing and its strength is what carried the fall leaves from their unseen source.
As we drew nearer to Seattle, we began discussing one of our favorite artists, glass sculptor, Dale Chihuly, whose ‘Garden and Glass House’ exhibit we had come to see. Upon our arrival at King Street Train Station, again the wind made us aware of it’s strength as we ventured outside. Whirlwinds of fall leaves flew in our faces as they pushed past us and into open doors of shops as we walked, or rather pushed past. The next day, we learned due to the high winds, the floating bridge crossing Lake Washington closed, leaving cars abandoned as people walked off the bridge to safety.
We had on a previous occasion, a couple of years ago, visited Dale Chihuly’s Museum of Glass in his native home town of Tacoma, Washington. Enchanted with the Bridge of Glass, a 500 foot long pedestrian overpass that links the Museum in Tacoma to the downtown section of the city, a delightful walk with walls and ceilings showcasing his work.
Our first sight within the Garden and Glass House exhibit, in Seattle’s Center, brought a sense of calm as we paused to admire the Chihuly’s ‘Glass Forest’. I love light and its effect on a subject whether it be natural or created by man. Chihuly truly understands its importance as it illuminates and reflects off his sculptured pieces. A real treat to one’s eye and mind. Allowed to photograph his work, I captured a few of my favorites. These are very large displays set on a stage, its floor covered with reflecting mirrors producing an impact.
We moved on to the ‘Northwest Room’, a gallery of his glass sculptured Indian Baskets. Magnificently done, with Indian designs painted on the blown glass. His success revealed in his sculpturing the glass to the likeness of ancient Indian baskets with their slump and saggy forms.
Another gallery ‘Macchia Forest’, intrigued me as the shape of the glass sculptures captured and reflected the light directed upon it. Below I captured a section that really caught my eye. Subtle yet bold!
Further into the exhibit we came to ‘Ikebana and Float Boat’. The ‘Float Boat’ literally took my breath away. Full of glass blown floats the boat drifted upon an illusion of water created with mirrors. Other floats appeared to have fallen from the craft and been set adrift. I shot two different angles. This is a life-size boat.
The other side of this display is another watercraft filled with Dale Chihuly’s interpretation of Ikebana, a traditional Japanese art of flower arrangement.
As we moved slowly through the rooms, contemplating this man’s magical work, one enjoys the many themes displayed here besides those shown above. The ‘Sea life Room’, filled with sea plants, starfish, anemones, octopuses, fish, all intertwined, appearing as if moved by the sea’s current.
To our delight, we came to another ceiling gallery, ‘Persian Ceiling’, for we so enjoyed the one displayed at the Tacoma Pedestrian Bridge. ‘Mille Fiori’ another gallery, at the Glass House and Garden, is fifty-six feet in length and twelve feet wide, a garden of sculptured glass. Very colorful as most gardens are.
When we finally reached the ‘Glass House’. which sits at the base of the Space Needle, we marveled at the size of this sculpture. This piece has two thousand individual Persian glass forms fused together.
Below a closer view of the Persian glass sculpture in the Glass House.
We exited the glass house to stroll in the garden. At the base of the Space Needle ‘The Sun’, a sixteen foot in diameter sculpture in bright yellow, sits center stage above a platform of sculptured plants.
My favorite piece in the garden, as shown below, I see dolphins riding the surf. The garden, a fun enchanting place, is filled with Chihuly’s glass sculptures.
After our stroll in the garden we went to the Collectables Café . A cute little café with tables inlaid with shadow boxes, displaying items from Dale Chihuly’s personal collections. To our surprise the foods presentation at other tables evoked our reason for eating here,. We were not disappointed, it delighted our palates. I highly recommend it.
Though invigorating, we had fought the wind and mini-tornadoes of autumn leaves coming to this exhibit by way of city busses. With our time running short to catch the train back to Portland, we decided to take a cab. At the station as we departed our cab, the wind ushered us into King Street Station, along with dry crackling leaves,
With a little time on our hands we took in the architectural beauty of the building. Sonia commented that it looked freshly painted. I took pictures of some of the architectural design and when I got home I looked up the building’s history. Built between 1904 and 1906, over the years it endured many remodels, one that resulted in a lowered ceiling, leaving much of the original ornate interior hidden, till now. The restoration completed just this year reveals a very stately structure of classic architectural design.
Darkness descended as we traveled south. Without the views to distract us we made acquaintance with some of our fellow passengers. One small group told us about eating at Ivan’s that afternoon, a well-known restaurant on one of the many piers along Seattle’s waterfront. This restaurant is a newer version of it’s former self, destroyed by fire. As they ate, the strong winds drove waves crashing over the piers. The rolling white-capped seawater, in clear view of Ivan’s vast picture windows, left one in their party feeling a little queasy as he tried to finish his meal.
We arrived on time back in Portland, though we didn’t get the opportunity to ride the new train, the comfort and cleanliness of the ones we rode in left us in good form. An enjoyable day, windy but no rain!
I am so fortunate to have such a wonderful friend/editor as Sonia. A thirty year age difference is not an issue, our mutual interests and philosophy provide a bridge. We are a lot alike in many ways which surprises others. Neither of us are very social, thus we come across as rather aloof.
Periodically I will take a road trip photographing asking her to join me. She assists me in taking notes of the images I capture and points out subjects that catch her eye, providing for me, a different perspective. I deal with a lot of distractions so when I blog, I always run my final draft past her keen eye. After correcting any errors, she will read it out loud, her English accent and clear voice adding flavor to my written words.
Last Friday I planned another road trip Sonia and I had talked about doing for some time. It had been years since I had been to the northern Washington Peninsula and the shores of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. As a teen, our family enjoyed camping and clamming in the Olympic National Park. One of our favorite locations, Lake Ozette, a place promoting solitude, where only a short hike through old growth forest led to ocean beaches adorned with seastacks. Seals romped in and out of the icy sea waters of the Pacific Ocean, always entertaining to watch. I plan to return to this place in the near future but for now our destination, Port Angeles, is where we had reservations for a two night stay. The weather forecast called for a wet and stormy weekend, which has never deterred us.
Leaving Portland fairly early, the low clouds prolonged the lighting of the day, we took I-5 to Tacoma where we would exit and cross the Narrows. The rain we had driven through on I-5 abated as the clouds broke up allowing blue skies, lit by the sun, to appear. Encouraged by this break in the weather we took a side trip to Port Townsend. Incorporated in 1851, well-known for its preserved Victorian architecture, rich in history, art and annual festivals. We arrived to witness them setting up for the weekend annual International Film Festival. It felt good to really stretch our legs as we joined the locals and tourists alike taking in the interesting sights.
The rain kept its distance till we were well on our way to Port Angeles.
The next morning we were again blessed with only partly cloudy skies and no rain. We drove to Hurricane Ridge, in the Olympic National Park, where Sonia wanted see the vast vista of the Olympic Mountain Range. This place held a special meaning for her. Just recently her dear friend Bob passed away, and his wife and fellow hikers brought his ashes, as per his request, and scattered them near here. Bob, an adventurous outdoors man, loved the Olympic National Park, his hiking boots were left somewhere up here under a tree marking his favorite spot. Seeing the view from Hurricane Ridge we understood and appreciated his last request.
Clouds began reclaiming the space of blue, a sign of rain, soon to follow. As we drove down Hurricane Ridge, the clouds followed obscuring most of the lush, majestic scenery. The rain began in earnest pelting the Subaru in a side ward direction pushed from the increasing winds. As with all of our other excursions, when bad weather is predicted, we felt fortunate for once again we experienced a nice dry and partial clearing of the skies while we enjoyed the view.
Seeing blue skies to the east upon entering Port Angeles, we decided to drive back to Port Townsend. Our hopes were to beat the rain’s arrival and again enjoy the little town built on the shores of a bay with the same name. Hopes fulfilled, we entered Fort Worden where I helped Sonia set up on the beach with a view of the lighthouse, and the sounds of the small rippling waves coming ashore. While she took a power nap, I with camera in hand, explored the shore. Having lost my tethered trigger release on my last hike, I replaced it with a remote trigger release. It had just arrived the day before and I hadn’t had much of a chance to work with it. Being told several times that I need to update my self-portraits, something I loath to do mainly because I am not good at it, upon finding a secluded spot alongside of a pier, I made an attempt. I do not recommend this unless you have a good sense of humor, especially when directed at yourself.
After Sonia’s power nap on the shores of Port Townsend Bay, we again visited the more crowded streets of the town enjoying the many sites and different street wear of the locals and tourists. Heading back to Port Angeles, the clouds again opened up and again we felt fortunate that we avoided the down pour. The rain soon dissipated when we entered Port Angeles, affording us a wonderful view of the sun setting reflecting off clouds and the waters of Strait of Juan de Fuca as we ate dinner in a local restaurant. Life is Good!
This past winter I became re-aquanted with someone whom I had not seen nor talked to in at least fifteen years. She had sent a friend request through Facebook. It is truly a small world, as I found that she lived less than an hour away. We decided to get together some time soon to get caught up in the happenings of our lives. As with all good intentions, it was several months before this finally took place. She lives close to The Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm, a popular place for viewing and photographing fields of tulips. It had been years since I had visited this farm so I decided that I would stop there before meeting with her.
The past six months have been a series of trying times, for several reasons. I find myself stretched thin with obligations, chores and my work. My favorite stress busters are painting and yoga. I had not had much time for either and I had begun to feel fragmented. My decision to stop at the tulip farm turned out being a much-needed break in my otherwise rather tedious routine.
The unknown weight upon my shoulders lifted upon seeing fields of brightly colored blooms under a canopy of overcast sky. What an attitude adjuster! It being a weekday and early morning I had arrived ahead of most of that days, daily visitors. After parking the car, I retrieved my camera gear and headed to the fields. These days, everyone is taking pictures. With the wide array of digital cameras, including those in cell phones, it is no wonder that places such as this are popular to anyone taking pictures. A photo contest, advertised in the hand-out received when one pays the entrance fee, encourages this practice even more.
A crisp morning breeze heightens the feeling of mental freshness as I make my way towards the sea of color. Well thought-out planting offered a blending of colors and contrast, drawing the eye to specific rows. Mauve and pinks, reds and yellows, orange and peach, whites and near black purples, as well as groupings of multiple colors, stood proud.
Parents captured images of their young, posed amongst the color. Couples sat on brightly painted benches with cell phones held in front of them for capturing self portraits. Others would ask a total stranger if they wouldn’t mind taking a picture for them. No request denied, for here in this magical spring setting life felt good.
I spent a couple of hours there, bending, laying down and sitting on the moist ground, taking several shots of the beautiful tulips, their variety and colors cheered me. It didn’t matter that I was one in amongst a multitude of photographers that day, nor that my images would most likely not be unique Participating in capturing the art that man and nature had created provided a renewed love of life.Prints Available at www.deebrowningphotography.com
There are times when I find myself overwhelmed with negotiating everyday living, especially in today’s economic climate. I feel fragmented with the here and there of photography jobs, taking care of and maintaining a home and yard, making time, willingly, for loved ones and friends, and of course assuring Sir Clarence James reclining years are comfortable. He is doing really well and will write a blog soon.
He now has his own blog http://sirclarencejames.wordpress.com/
I feel I have been pretty successful in these tasks but find myself tense from the effort despite my near daily yoga and meditating rituals. My husband recently reminded me that I had not been out in some time practicing my Zen photography. This is where I go off by myself to capture images that fascinate me. It requires that I find a spot, whether it be in nature or a bustling city, and spend the day there. I do this to clear my mind and become more receptive to my surroundings. Children come by this naturally and I refer to it as “The Art Of Being”.
Early Sunday morning I drove to the Sandy River, one of many rivers near my home here in Oregon. Water draws and soothes me and not wanting to spend a lot of time driving, I had in mind a day spent along this river looking for great spots to view and capture images of the spawning salmon when the fall run is in full swing. This run has already begun but it is still too early to get much opportunity to capture some images. Planning ahead I will pick my spot and return at another time for ‘Nature’s Cycle of Life’ show.
Fed by glaciers on Mt. Hood, which has slowed considerably this time of year, the river’s water levels are quite low leaving wider beaches where one can explore. Due to recent years of floods the river has forged new paths removing trees and boulders from its banks. Massive roots of the down trees washed clean from the flood waters, then dried and bleached from the sun, litter the beach. Some of the exposed roots still linger in pools of water at the river’s edge providing a safe place for the spawning salmon to lay their eggs. This is the type of settings I am looking for.
Hiking high above an old landslide area, I look down along a stretch of beach and notice what looked like stalactites, those icicle looking formations one sees in a cave, only these were pointing up. Curious, I made my way to the lower end of the slide before slipping and sliding the rest of the way to the beach. What looked like stalactites from far above were river rocks stacked on top of each other. This beach was approximately a quarter of a mile long and covered with river rocks, none stacked more than knee-high. As I walked around taking in my surroundings, I saw that these stacked rocks represented people. To my delight I had stumbled upon a village of River Rock People! Retrieving my camera from my backpack I began immersing myself in capturing this amazing village. All alone on the beach with only the sound of the river rushing over rocks, my fragmented thoughts drifted away. I became more receptive to the spiritual feeling I was receiving from this mystical village. It had to have taken a long time to build this scene I found myself in. Had it happened over a time or had it been recently done by a large group of people? As the day moved on, I would soon get my answer.
With camera in hand I went about capturing this River Rock Tribe. There were families, individuals and groupings. I saw a Navajo Squaw I recognized from a painting by the famous artist Rudolph Carl Gorman. Others faced the water edges, in miniature form, like those giant stone monoliths, called Moai on Easter Island, looking out towards the sea. Another ancient culture entered my mind when I came across a group of stacked rocks that formed a circle. I became aware of how alive I was feeling immersing myself in this mystical world of river rock. Amazed by the fact that there are still people in this world of advanced technology that find enjoyment in nature’s simplicity and being creative in using her wares, such as this creation with the use of these rocks. It further more amazed me that they were seemingly left untouched, even though there were other signs of human trespassers in an occasional left behind soda can, plastic bottle and a flip-flop shoe.
By noon, distant voices drifted my way. Looking around I saw a small family making their way to the beach using the same route as me. The children squealing with delight as they descended the slide on their bottoms ahead of their parents, packing blankets and packs, as they side-step precariously down the sandy slide. I began to feel anxious for the River Rock People fearing the intruding humans would be the beginning of their demise. Realizing that I could not stop what fate they would be dealt, I returned to capturing what I could before it could be destroyed.
As the sun warmed the beach on this early fall day, more and more voices intruded my thoughts as more people arrived. Taking a break, I sat among the River Rock People and observed those of my kind as they enjoyed a day on the beach. I became relieved to see the young and old alike, instead of destroying the Village, were adding to the landscape by building more stacks of rocks. I finally had my answer. This special place had evolved over a time and was still evolving. I felt blessed to have found this mythical beach and to see its effects on others for it gave me hope for humanity. I hope to see this village soon for I will be returning in a couple of weeks for the spawning of the salmon.
If one allows our media, and doomsday Sayers to depress our mental being we are to blame only ourselves. We all need to set aside time in our hectic lives to practice “The Art Of Being” a spa for the mind.
It has been some time since I have posted but, I haven’t been idle. Sir Clarence James is doing really well and this has allowed me to get out and do what I enjoy doing, hiking and photographing. Just last week my son-in-law took me on a guided hike, of the west side of Mt. St. Helens. I have looked forward to this adventure for some time. Joel is a great outdoors man and I was grateful for his company as he came in handy when my back and neck started giving me heck on the return stretch of our hike. He strapped my camera bag backpack, a good 30 plus pounds, to his and carried both the rest of the uphill hike back to his pick-up. Did I mention that the weather that day was near 100 degrees! He is a great guy to have your back. In this case backpack 🙂
We began the day at 4:00am for I wanted to catch the sun rising. I love silhouettes. Here near the trail head of Castle Lake, I used a strong filter to capture the sun rising over the crest of the Cascade Range silhouetting the crest and renewed forest growth.
On the trail, my son-in-law frequently scopes the terrain for wildlife as the sun continues its rise in the east. He is hoping to catch sight of a bear forging for food. Sweet huckleberries, blue berries, and strawberries gave me no doubt of their existence. The sun ripened fruit was so tempting we often stopped to gather small handfuls of these mouth-watering sweetness. Later along the trail we came upon claw ripped wood, where the bears had searched for a meal of bugs, and bear scat both evidence confirming that we had indeed entered their territory.
We never saw a bear but instead spotted two herds of elks at such a distance away that made me long for a more far-reaching lens. Who am I kidding, I would not have been able to lug one that size around while hiking :(.
St.Helens erupted in 1980. I flew over the crater as soon as the air space opened up, with my father in his Maul, a fixed winged airplane. Seeing the destructive force of nature from that altitude made one aware of how insignificant we humans are. I captured many film images that day and I only mention this because as I hiked past remnants of that destruction, as seen below, I remember those captured images and how even though it is taking many years nature is rebounding in this area.
We came to a cross-road of trails and Joel headed down the Castle Ridge Trail. Below is an image of him on the edge of a hill, a tiny speck, overlooking a cavern where one can see and hear boulders tumbling down the west flank of the mountain. One can track their descent by the trail of dust and the sound of their impact against other boulders resembling that of a rifle being discharge. All very humbling.
Last night, as the rain beat a steady rhythm against the windows, the local news station forecasted snow, possibly on the Willamette Valley floor, by morning. This seemed a little far-fetched, especially in March here in the Portland, Oregon area. It wasn’t until they showed a live webcam of snow on top of Haystack Rock, at Pacific City, that I thought maybe this was a possibility. A peculiar sight to see, this mammoth haystack shape rock surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, its peak covered with snow. I had spent from dawn till dusk on the coast the first part of February and it was at Pacific City where I ended a wonderful day by capturing this beautiful sunset.
Seeing the snow on top of this rock a month later just didn’t seem possible, but there it was. As the rain continued to fall well into the night I began to doubt we would receive any of this unusual snow fall in our area.
Sir Clarence James ,my cat, woke me at 1:00am the following morning wanting to get under the covers. I couldn’t blame him for it was pretty chilly. My husband and I like to sleep with the heat off at night as we have discovered we sleep better when it is colder in the house. As Clarence made himself comfortable, under the covers,I began to wonder if the cooler night air meant it might be snowing outside and decided to get up and take a look.
My neighborhood had transformed into an enchanting winter wonderland, so clean, pure and peaceful. It seemed that about three to four inches of the white heavy stuff had fallen. For a time I sat and watched the big fluffy white flakes fall from the sky till a light veil began to drape my mind and my eyelids became heavy. I headed back to bed knowing it would still be warm thanks to Clarence and my husband John. Snuggling under the down comforter I slowly drifted off to sleep with visions of snow flakes falling softly from the sky still in my head.
It seemed I had only been asleep for a few minutes when Clarence crawled out from under the covers and started pawing my hair. This is his way of telling me it is time to get up and fix his breakfast. He has trained me well for I quickly rose knowing he would not leave me alone till I had gotten out of the bed. Wrapping my warm robe around me I stopped briefly at the window to take a quick peek outside before heading to the kitchen. To my delight it looked the same as it did several hours earlier. Clarence’s urging chatter got me moving again towards the kitchen with him hot on my heels.
His Highness taken care of and the furnace activated, I started the water for my tea. While I waited for the water to heat up, I opened the shutters covering the windows that looked out over the backyard and the hill beyond. Sipping my tea, I stood and watched the dawn breaking as the house warmed and his Highness noisily ate his breakfast. As the sky lightened with the moon still visible, the sun’s rays turned those clouds it reached into a pinkish haze behind the bare limbs of the trees, all enhanced by the undisturbed snow. It was such a beautiful sight to begin a new day and I decided to capture it. Still in my robe I grabbed my camera and headed outside to photograph this wonderful and rare scene to see, in March, here in the Pacific Northwest.
I love nature and encourage birds to spend time in my yard. I love to listen to their songs and observe their antics, all year round. Every morning we put out a handful of peanuts on the stone wall of our patio next to the arbor for the blue jays and squirrels. They are so entertaining to watch. This morning after putting out the peanuts I waited, with camera in hand, for the blue jay’s arrival.
These wonderful birds are something to watch as they come for the peanuts. A bird will pick up one peanut and seemingly weigh it, then put it back down so it can pick up another. This will continue till it has decided which one is the heaviest. The chosen nut will then disappear down it’s throat. Wait! He is not finished as he then grabs another, presumably the next heaviest and with it firmly held, within its beak, it will fly away to bury both nuts before returning for more.
As the day draws to an end we still have snow on the ground, though only in those cooler shady areas. Clarence and I have taken breaks from work to watch the variety of birds that visit our feeders today from the comfort and warmth of our home. Life is good.
Late in the day, my husband, friend Sonia, and I went to Pittock Mansion in Portland Oregon to watch the rising of the Harvest Moon. Pittock Mansion is a historical landmark here in Portland built-in the west hills. It’s vast grounds affords one a view of North Portland, Mt. Hood and last evenings rising of the Harvest Moon over the Cascade range. When we arrived a mass of photographers had already staked claim to prime spots so I had to contend myself to the left overs. The moon had already made its appearance by the time I got set-up. Shutters clicking and subdued voices were all one heard as all eyes/lens focused on the annual harvest show.
Though the day had been warm, fall is apparent in the soft breeze that developed as dusk descended, raising goose bumps on one flesh. Bringing only the moon into focus to reveal the craters that cover its surface softens the foreground of the Cascade Range. I love the dreamy effect this has on the composition, for the sky represents a dream scape for me. After I had captured this shot, I decided to see if I could get closer to the edge of the hillside to get an unobstructed view of the north section of the city below and Mt. Hood. A video-photographer had set-up a video and digital cameras on time lapsed in a prime location. Seeing me looking for a place to set up, he offered a spot next to him. After carefully avoiding all the cables of his equipment, I finally got set-up and took the shot I was after using my wide-angle lens, a Nikon 17-35mm, as the mountain and moon were too far apart for my telephoto lens. Satisfied with my captured image, I then turned my attention to the time lapsed equipment. I had a nice conversation with the photographer and his assistant while I watch the screen showing a live feed of the moon trekking an arch path into the sky. I assume this girl was his assistant though they looked good as a couple also. Could be she was both.
As the moon continued to rise I made my way back to where my friend and husband were waiting on a park bench, my progress slowed by conversing with fellow photographers. We are a strange bunch as we normally are quite shy and reserved. When working behind the lens we become energized as we strive to capture the scene that captivates us.
Viewing the harvest moon has me looking forward to the fall colors and salmon run.
As the 2011 ended, I found myself feeling mentally better than I have felt in a long time, so I began looking at all the images I had captured in the soon to pass year. As I view those images, and there were many, only a few truly inspired me. I felt I had lost something. Nor could I figure out what it was.
A few months ago, another photographer suggested that I read a book by Zen Master Daido Loori who is also a photographer. I researched Daido Loori and his Zen photography. He states, ‘Many worry about the past when the past does not exist for it is in the past. They also worry about the future which also does not exist for it is in the future.” He goes on to talk about how Zen photographers live in the moment when capturing an image which is the Zen way. I realized that I had let the past and future clutter my being, thus affecting my work.
Reviewing again those images that inspired me, I realized I had experienced ‘in the moment’ when I took them. Reflecting, not worrying about the past year, I realized I had let the past and future worries clutter my being, thus at times affecting my Miksang. I am a person who seeks out beauty in simplicity. Being receptive to simplicity requires a clear mind. I love becoming one with my surroundings. To feel, hear and see all there is before capturing a moment. Those moments allow a cleansing of sorts of my mind and soul, thus my logo, Spa for the Mind, Eye Candy for the Soul’.
When one takes the time to study the images I have captured you will see a pattern. It will present itself as a captured image experienced while in a Zen moment. A photojournalist will take you on an exhilarating visual ride while they transverse the world capturing images. A portrait/glamor photographer will wow us with their magical artistic talent and touches. A Landscape and Fine Art photographer capture’s a painting, whether it be that created by nature, man or a mixture of both. Each of us shines in our own fields and each of us will bleed over into others as we all have, the eye “Miksang”, and want to capture all that catches that eye.
One of my written prose, ‘A moment taken to observe the ever-changing mural, is a soothing tonic to ones mind’, is something I try to inspire others to experience. You need not be a photographer to seek out and enjoy a moment. Most gratifying moments for me is when others, while spending time with me, will begin to observe their surrounding and share with me their discoveries. In our fast paced life, these moments are truly a mental spa.