"let your eyes do the work"

Mcclureworshop1 This is Glen McClure. Go ahead, click on the link. I know you're curious. He's a local photographer, and I kinda lovelovelove his stuff. He offered a Master Class at the Contemporary Art Center last weekend, and let me tell you, I was all over that puppy. It was great.

Glensoftbox He had come to speak to our last class, and this class started with a little bit of a recap (which meant looking at more beautiful photographs) and then we talked about lighting and portraiture and had lunch, and I just soaked up as much as I could.

zooming out...

zooming in...

Way, way back in my first class, I got really interested in studio lighting and portraiture. We did some sessions in the class, and I really enjoyed them. I wanted the lights and the back drop, the whole smash. I wanted a studio with a big ornate antique sofa in front of a back drop, and everyone who came in would get their picture taken on that sofa.

Something happened to make that interest fade for me....I got more connected to natural light and lifestyle photography, I guess. Well, this class with Glenn reignited my interest in portraiture. I got so jazzed when I saw what we could do with light and how things changed when we changed our camera settings. Couple that with being back in a regular class at the CAC, and it's so exciting to be taking pictures again.

What a great day. I'm back, baby! Now I need that sofa.

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baby steps, people (for Mark)

Computer Okay, I am making progress on this Lightroom business, but it's having to happen in baby steps, you guys. Mostly because of work and life and all that other stuff. (Like more work and life and weather headaches and worry about my friends and family in the deep southeast.) But I need to keep on keepin' on because a new photo class starts today (YAY!) and an all-day photo workshop on Saturday that focuses on portraiture (OH, YAY!), and an external flash (YIKES, but YAY!) that I got for my birthday, and well , things are (as you know) already backed up.

Hold me in the light, because clearly, I need help.

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fireside supper

IMG_3328We've had a couple of cool nights, cool enough to allow us to sit fireside for dinner. A few weeks ago I had a yen to make soup, and this was the result. I wanted something brothy and vegetabley with spinach and leeks and some sausage. This was a bit more tomato-y than I intended, but the evening was cooler than expected so it worked. The bread, well, my friend Debbie would hate it, so maybe she should stop reading. Mayonmaise mixed with garlic, spread on a baguette. Top with parmesean cheese and broil. Hello.

Supper These photos are really pleasing to me for some reason. After all this (The show comes down today. The art center kept it up for an extra day, which was lovely.), it's nice to take pictures of things sometimes. If I do this class again, and I'm leaning that way for next fall, I think I'll focus on something besides people. Still lifes like this are calling my name.

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how I spent my Sunday

Spring yard1 It was a good weekend, really! Neel got tons done in the garden. Callum scored the go-ahead goal in his game on Saturday. And I spent Sunday banging my head against my keyboard trying to learn Lightroom.

It'll be worth it in the long run; I know it will. But oh man, today was hard. All day to be able to import that one picture into the blog. And I have so many! More to come, I promise. The hectic life has died down a bit, and I plan to use the breather to get myself pulled together.

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show time

Show wall2 Tonight's the night.

We did the installation yesterday, and tonight's our reception. The installation was hard for me. Math, for one thing, but I now know how to hang a picture (or ten) in a gallery. And, really it was jut a rough afternoon. Not how I wanted to feel putting up these pictures, but tonight's the night. Yesterday doesn't matter. I'm a little excited and a little nervous all at once.

Nothing but blue skies ahead.

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Talltree Neel is our yard man. We thought it was going to be me when we first moved here, but I lack the knack and the patience. Neel has both in spades. Our front yard is a vision in the spring time. I should take a picture to show you, but the phlox is thick on the ground and the bushes plump with deep green growth. Neel spent many seasons plotting it out. Trying a plant here before moving it there. Listening to what I liked and learning what he liked. The front yard got the best of his attention, and it paid off.  Still, for (what seemed like) years, I would ask Neel to turn his laser beam focus on our back yard. It needs help.

This year was our year. He just needed time to come up with a vision. You can't rush these things, you know. Now I find him staring out our kitchen window, deep in thought. What's next? What's next? And in a few short weeks, he's made tremendous progress (No wonder he was so tired this weekend!). We have a plan for a patio, raised beds for a vegetable garden, and two new pathways. He has plans to shore up a fence, put in a brick patio in the back corner of the yard and ideas for lots more plants. This weekend, we he put in two new trees. A dogwood, which is a sentimental favorite for me because of this, and a weeping cherry. It's early for the dogwood yet, so it's not much to look at. In fact, it almost completely disappears against our fence at the moment. But the cherry is already a stunner. I'm so excited to see it out the window, and I can't wait to see what Neel comes up with next.

Tree Spring is so awesome. If only I could breathe.

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I know, I know...

Gate posts from me are thin on the ground these days. I'm sorry. It's not that I don't have a lot to say. Neel's hands are deep in the garden. Spring is springing all around. We had our last (?) fireside supper of the year. The "show" is next week. I'm trying to decide if I should/can take another photography class.

No, it's not that there's nothing to say. It's that there's too much. Too many pictures. A lot of work. Lots going on. I have masses and masses of pictures that need editing. They clutter my desktop and folders called (helpfully) "untitled." Neel ordered Lightroom for me, and I'll admit that part of me is wating for it to show up and make my life easier. If only I knew how to use it.

These posts always start with a photo for me, and with raw, unedited photos coming out of my ears, it's actually harder, not easier to pay attention to this space. I'm almost ready to go back to shooting in JPEG just so I can have some pictures to show you.

So I can't promise that I'll be back with any regularity. Not this week at least. But I will be back. Like I said, I have lots to say.



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IMG_1709 I think I mentioned that a few weeks ago I was lucky enough to take some photos in a gorgeous shop that is partly owned by a friend of mine. Yesterday I got even luckier and got to take some photos of the three gals who own Simply Selma's, and you'll see those here as soon as I have a chance to edit them.

IMG_1720 I love still life photography. In a time that has been filled to the brim with relationships and capturing them with my camera, it was a breath of fresh air to take photos where I didn't have to worry about posing people or someone's eyes being closed or making someone laugh or even talking. I could be quiet and just take pictures. It was nice.

IMG_1828 The store itself is a breath of fresh air too. That first day, when I went in to see my friend Marianne and nose around a bit, she gave me a complete tour, showing me all her favorite things. I tried to capture the details, but what I love about it are the layers of beautiful objects waiting to be discovered. Marianne talked about how they'll stand at the front of the store and figure out how the room will unfold for a customer. How a customer will walk through and experience each section, each surprising and delightful discovery. We're reading Twyla Tharp's The Creative Habit for my photography class, and she talks about how when she's choreographing a dance piece, she pulls back. She moves so far that she becomes a "surrogate for the audience." If she could pull back further, she would.

IMG_1764 Marianne's words struck me the same way. That's what they do at Selma's: choreograph a dance for their customers.

I hope you enjoy the photos I took, and if you're in the 757, stop in sometime. You won't regret it. It takes every ounce of willpower I have to walk out with my wallet intact each time I'm there. (Last time I just locked it in the trunk of my car!)




Selmas dup


Selmas dup2


Selmas trio


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the blue rain room

Studio desk 2 As a physical space, the Blue Rain Room still completely exists. It's become a workhorse of a room, in fact. In an email on the Friday before last, I told my friend Seamane (who is also an editor of mine) that I had so much work to do, but all I really wanted was rearrange my office. Don't worry, S., I waited until the weekend, (!) but I'm so glad I just did it.

Studioshelf This room used to be at the back of the house. When we moved in, the previous owners were finishing an addition that added a master bedroom and made what used to be just a bedroom into more of a pass-through room. It's hard to know what to do with a pass-through room. If we'd had a babe, it would have made a great nursery, but as it is, if the room's purpose isn't clearly defined, it becomes a dump-all kind of place. The place where you drop the pile of books that you've already read before you head back to bed to read more. My wall of yarn was there, my sewing machine and the ironing board. And when I started writing from home more full time, there went the laptop. But still, there went the knitting needles from the last project I worked on and the pants that needed a button sewn on. And when I'm trying to write, I feel the weight of all that stuff pressing down on me.

Studiodesk So we put the sewing machine, which I rarely use, away. I can get to it easily, though. I moved a bookcase to free up some wall space to start hanging more pictures, and we I cleared off the tops of shelves and tables. It felt good.

Studiodesk2 I spent a lot of time figuring out exactly how I use my desk (I need room for the mouse and extra room to write notes; I want the books right in front of my face and the pencils too...) before settling on just how I wanted things arranged there. I thought about eliminating one of the shelves (more wall space for photos), but Neel talked me out of it. I talked to Neel about my pipe dream of a Mac side-by-side with my laptop (our Mac is a family computer and it's downstairs) in this space for photo editing, and he pretended to be interested, but he gets nervous when I spend even pretend money. So that didn't go very far...

Studio table So it is a work horse of a room. It's my home office, steps from my bed, where I spend many hours a day writing, but we also wanted it to reflect more of the photography work I'm doing. I used to set my lighbox up on my ironing board, which sat in front of that window. We moved the ironing board out and the table (which had floated awkwardly in the middle of the room) to its place. That wall above the lamp is wide open for photos. 

Studio wall The bulletin board got cleaned off and is awaiting more photos and inspiration. I can't wait.

Oddly, the hardest part for me was that darn ironing board. I mean good grief! But seriously people, even if I don't iron much, you can NOT deny the convenience of having the board set up and ready to go if you need to do a quick swipe on a pair of pants before work. At one point Neel cautioned that I may need to just fold up the ironing board and get it out when I need it. But I know myself, and I need that ironing board to stay out or we're going to be walking around with A) wrinkled clothes or B) a diminishing wardrobe as the pile of wrinkled clothes grows. So I set it up in the guest room. It's there waiting for me. I can live with folding it up when we have company.

Studio I like it that in a lot of these pictures you can see my ubiquitous can of seltzer. I should have also probably added my Tervis tumbler full of tea, without which I can't seem to start my day. Or my laptop actually open (ha!). Or me banging my head against my desk as I can't make a sentence work or find a bit of information I need. Now that would have been authentic!

But even without these things, the room feels good. Right and proper. Fairly minimal, with clean lines and filled with the stuff that's important to me (minus the additional Mac, of course). I'm lucky I get to work here.

PS: Still shooting in RAW. Not so sure about it...

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joy of love

So all month, I've been quietly participating in another photo project, this one an online class called The Joy of Love created by Kelly Willette of Willette Designs. I discovered Kelly (see? even though I haven't met her yet, I just figure we're *that* close) quite on my own a few months ago, and it was only after exploring her blog a bit that I realized she was a local gal. I was excited when this class popped up. I love the structure of a class, and even though I'm hitting my art center course pretty hard right now, this seemed like too good an opportunity to pass up. (Plus, Kelly totally lets you off the hook about it, which I need. I'm both a rule follower and a rebel. Enough of a rule follower to want to do everything exactly by the book, and enough of a rebel to want to go my own way. This class, which consisted of a daily prompt as well as camera tips, allowed you to be as little or as heavily involved as you wanted.)

So while I loved the prompts (and especially the camera tips) and couldn't wait to get them in my inbox every evening, I was pretty organic about taking the pictures that she actually prompted.

It's the last day of the month and the last day of our class, so I thought (in no particular order) that I'd post some photos that were inspired by this project.

IMG_9551 Day 12: The eyes

IMG_9205 Day 1: What They Do (Callum on his iPod.)

IMG_9616 (1) Day 22: Where. Technically this should be about where we met, but I always tell the story of how I heard Neel laugh before I ever met him, so a photograph of him laughing seems most appropriate. Those of you who have heard Neel laugh understand why this is my favorite thing about him.

IMG_1014 Day 22: The Face (Portrait). This photo and the next pulled double duty for my art center course and this online project. No matter, I love this portrait of Callum.

IMG_0886 BW Day 25: When you love them most. Except at times during math homework, I love Neel and Callum most when we're all together. They may not be laughing in this picture, but laughing's important too. They've both been so wonderful and supportive of me...especially as I put them in front of the lens. I love how they show their love for me.

So there you have it. A snapshot (get it? har har) of my month with the Joy of Love.  I'm so glad I did it, even though today was my only day posting about it. Technically, I think I'm all over the place, but it was at its very minimum another reason to pull my camera out of the bag. I'm grateful for those lessons to have to look back on. Prompts & tips to have when I'm feeling stuck. What's so funny is that since I started doing this I've had two or three people ask, "Have you met Kelly? You need to meet her." Isn't the world a funny, small place? I've enjoyed basking in her creative space this month, and since she pretty much is right now where I want to be when I grow up, I hope we can meet. I can't wait.

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hard scramble breakfast

IMG_2031e Oh man, I love a lazy Sunday morning. Made especially nice by the promise of a three-day weekend. As we headed to the grocery store on Saturday, Callum and I concocted a plan for a "big Sunday breakfast" this weekend. We do this occasionally, go all out for breakfast, and this time he helped.

IMG_2008e See, clever and thoughtful parents that we are, we taught the boy with the raw egg allergy how to make scrambled eggs. He is on it now. An egg-making whizz.

IMG_2025e A competent and creative chef should enjoy the fruits of his labors. This weekend, we all did.

As an added side comment, I shot all these pictures in RAW, using this format for the first time ever. Not as scary as I expected, and a lot of fun to edit. It's all about baby steps, people.

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the book

IMG_1655 Part of our work for this photography class is to keep an artistic journal. I've found this to be a rewarding and intensely creative process. I write all day, but I've never been a good journaler. As I've often said, I spend too much time in my own head...maybe so much that I don't want to spend any more time writing things down. But journaling is good. And for me, journaling like this, that has a specific structure is especially good. It's helping me learn. This book is holding my notes from class, all the inspiration I'm finding from the web, from lens suggestions to business ideas (AACK) to posing guides, and my thoughts on each of our assignments.

Each week we print out 8X10s to be critiqued for class. When I saw that one of my classmates Liz had also printed 4X6s of her larger prints to put in her journal and make notes, I immediately thought, "I am totally stealing that idea." Thanks Liz! It's been such a help to have the pictures there and be able to write about why I took them and what worked (and oftentimes, what didn't work.)

Every night, after Callum is in bed, I climb on the sofa with my pencil and tape and work in my book. It's a wonderful, reflective part of my day. So now this book has become as much part of my creative process as taking and editing the pictures has. It's helping me think about my photography and frame where I am with it. It's also helping me start to frame where I want to go. I have so much yet to learn, but the sky's the limit baby.

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photography class

   IMG_8909_2 So. About that photography class. I'm not going to lie and say I'm not a little intimidated. The word "advanced" will do that to you. I don't feel advanced. I feel like a pretender. This is not a technique class. I need more of that too, though. This is a class about finding your photographic vision. Hmmm. The goal is that by the end we have a body of work (gulp) and in doing so, push our boundaries. Those things, I could use.

By the end of the first class, we needed to come up with an idea for the project we'd work on for the duration of the course. It took me through my drive home after class (I'm not so good at doing things on time, I guess.), but I landed on what I wanted to do. For the next seven weeks, I'm going to focus on photographing relationships. I feel comfortable catching spontaneous moments. I have no problem snapping a shot of some kids in our front yard and printing it off to give to a neighbor. I'm hoping to work toward more portrait work. That's a challenge to me. Not stiff, but what our teacher calls "planned spontaneity." Each week Jackie, (she's our teacher) will give us an assignment (this past week was "dramatic lighting," for example), but for me, the assignments will fall under the theme of photographing relationships.

You'll see some of those photos here, I imagine. And a lot you won't. I can't say I'm not a little nervous. But excited too. And how about that relationship in that picture up there? What more potent relationship than one that is just beginning, for everyone. Brother or sister, who knows?

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