Photography, Time for Art

Creating With Light and Memories

Preperation

 

Cyanotypes – Printing With the Sun 

Lazy summer days. These are the days I long for. Summer days hold the most beautiful treasures. Summer is slow and hot. Sometimes it brings the adventure of long-awaited vacation, sometimes endless days of boredom. And somewhere in between something magic happens. An unexpected new interest pops up.

Summer memories linger and stick together and ask to be seen and thought of in a different way. Those moments of lazy boredom mixed with adventure become inspiration for new creations.

Three summers ago I picked up a sun print kit when my family and I were camping along the shores of Assateague Island State Park  –a long and beautiful barrier island off of Maryland and Virginia, with wild horses! You may know her famous sister island from Marguerite Henry’s children’s book Misty of Chincoteague.

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Since that trip three summers ago, I’ve wanted to experiment with the sun print . The alternative photography process is called a cyanotype. Paper is treated with an iron solution which is light-sensitive. Here you can place an object directly on the paper and expose it to light, creating a photogram or essentially a negative image. You can also use  large format negatives to create a positive image.

For my first experiments I opted to order Cyanotype Paper from B&H Photo Video  and create my own photograms.

 

I grew up in the days of film and I miss creating this way. Photography in high school and college was a full hands-on experience in creating art. There was a slowness to the process which necessitated a lot of thought; selecting–and knowing–which film to use, loading the film into the camera, being limited to 24 or 36 frames, and thinking about each shot as a single image.

Once the shots were taken, a delicate and particular process began to even be able to see what you had selectively captured.

As I type this I can’t help but think of the time spent for a single image and how much I enjoyed that process.

The process of photography itself felt like a meditation in creation.

Now when I head out with my camera–whether it’s with my always-with-me and most accessible iPhone 7plus, where I share my photos on Instagram, or my Canon–I am no longer limited by the number of photographs I take. The way I interact with each image has a vastly different feel. I no longer spend this meditative time with a group of images, unless I am purposing to use them for a specific project.

A few weeks ago I found a local artist who was offering a workshop making cyanotypes. My summer start making sun prints had left its mark. I couldn’t wait to sign up and learn and create.

The process of creating cyanotypes brought back those memories and feelings of just starting out in photography.

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We mixed chemicals and waited.

I looked at each object I wanted to make an image of, I considered the paper I had and cut it to the size I wanted for each image, I brushed on the chemicals in a darkroom and waited for my paper to dry. I then composed my image in the darkroom before bringing my paper out into the sunlight.

 

I waited for the sun to expose the image and then brought the paper back into the workshop to wash and stop the developing.

 

This process was slow and unhurried. We met from 12-5. Those five hours flew by. I could have stayed in that space for hours more.

Now I can’t help but dream up ways to take over and convert a small portion of our own  house into a mini darkroom and get lost in the creative process of making more cyanotype prints.

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What is it that you love to create? The thing you could spend hours doing and it feels like no time has gone by?

 

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Inspiration, Photography, Weekend Wonder

Sunflowers

Weekend Wonder

YELLOWIMG_5576My father in law always shares his newspaper with me when my family and I come up for a visit. This particular visit there was an article about a farmer and his sunflowers. Five acres in bloom. Only a few days remaining for the golden-yellow field.

I knew I had to go and see.

We follow the route on the GPS to the sunflower farm, past store fronts and restaurants and busy grocery stores. The road seems to empty as we drive on. We turn and follow a bumpy dirt road. The houses here aren’t inches apart, they’re acres apart. Clouds of dust rise up and we’re passing farms and horses in pastures.

It’s amazing how these beauties in life exist down roads near by, but somehow far away at the same time.

I think we’re coming upon a secret treasure–

A couple of miles down the dirt road, we near the entrance and looking up from the dust we see the cars. It’s not a secret. Many have read about the sunflower field. The funny thing is, no one seems to be expecting this hidden country life tucked back only a few miles from the city. As we’re trying to navigate our way into this crowded little oasis, I see women in heels trying to step lightly in sinking dirt and a family trying to dig car tires out of deep sand.

There are photographers and families and women picking armfuls of fresh flowers for bouquets.

We all came to see this beauty growing up from the ground.

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Walking in a field of golden suns,

lifted high upon green stalks.

Yellow blooms and petals reach,

like sunbeams through morning clouds.

—LAM—

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My daughter and I with the sunflower farmers (Father, Son, & Grandson!) and their cute board book, Sunny & The Sunflower Maze written by Raj Sinha and Illustrated by J.C. Plitt                                                                       –Check out Liberty Farms in Florida and New Jersey 

 

 

 

 

 

At The Beach, Birds, Photography

Shore Birds

Noisy, playful, insistent, curious…

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I’ve got an idea in mind for a new book. And in this little book is where a seagull lives. I needed to get to the beach and  find my seagull. Thankfully this weekend was a perfect beach day kind of weekend. We packed all the usual, sunscreen, towels, body boards, and beach buckets.

My family picked out their spot on the sand and before I could even lay out my towel I spotted a group of my little shore bird friends, in between beach umbrellas and ocean waves. Shore birds and snow birds basking in the Florida winter sun.

Here are some of the images I captured

Shore bird study:

Flight

 

 

Poses

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Not seagulls, but so incredibly cute! Seriously.

 

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Happy little seagulls!

 

Ring-billed Gull

John James Audubon was a fan of this gull…

Or at least according to my interpretation of my Reader’s Digest Book of North American Birds– “John James Audubon himself called it ‘the great American gull.'”

 

The Flock

img_5341Black Skimmers

These are the birds with the long beaks and bright orange coloring. The lower bill is longer than the upper bill and skims the surface of the water as they fly above it. They look as if they love nothing more than to fly just for the joy of it. Maybe it was the morning I was there to see these birds, but they did not seem content to sit still for long. They would take off, rise and fall in synchronized harmony out and up over the ocean– up, down, around, land, repeat.

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God, Inspiration, Love, Photography

The Thing About Photography and Beauty

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I recently had an assignment to photograph twenty one women. Spending time preparing the images for the client filled my heart with joy. I saw these women on my screen and saw beauty in each of their faces.

But I heard something familiar when I photographed the women, “I hate how I look, I never look good in photographs, I hate having my picture taken..”

Guilty.

I’ve said these same words before. I’ve felt those things before.

Funny how It made me sad to hear it from others though.

And then I attended a BBQ where I had a conversation with a missionary Pastor. He was telling me about God and Grace and God’s love for us. He was sharing his own story about discovering God’s grace. He said sometimes there’s this tendancey to look at ourselves and feel frustrated. We need to work harder, or be better, or be at a certain place in our lives.

I was thinking about his words and and myself and the areas I struggle with. And I knew I felt exactly that way about myself, not where I should be. I asked him, “What if you don’t see yourself as good enough?”

He simply said sometimes we believe the lies we tell ourselves. We live believing those lies instead of what God’s word tells us about ourselves. Who does God say we are?

We are God’s workmanship.

I felt tears threatening the corners of my eyes.

This is one of my favorite Bible verses! I even included it in my book, I See the Colors God Made, on the last page with the little photo frame where a parent can include a photo of their own child. Why wouldn’t I dare to put myself there with that verse?

For we are God’s masterpiece

His work of art

His poem

If we are working towards grace, trying to do more, or thinking we aren’t good enough, then we aren’t believing what God’s word tells us is true. We are believing a lie and the lie accuses us and keeps us quiet. We don’t see beauty. We see flaws.

Guilty again,

but set free by God’s grace!

God already loves us. He isn’t waiting for us to measure up to standards we’ve placed upon ourselves.

This is how to see beauty. We already are beautiful in His sight.

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It struck me that when I worked in a studio photographing products, the products didn’t talk back on set or complain about their creator.

When I’m out in nature with my camera and in awe of the beauty around me, nature doesn’t complain about its Creator.

The Blue Jay doesn’t say, “I wish I was red like the cardinal.”

The Everglades don’t say, “I wish I had mountain peaks like the Rockies.”

God calls us His masterpiece and we talk back. I talk back.

I have a list for myself. Things I’d like to change.

I believe I’m not as good as…, I’m too…, I’ll never be like…

If I am in awe of the beauty of the world God has made, how can I say, “All this you’ve created is beautiful, but myself, I’m no good at all”?

If I look at myself as not good enough, in major need of something better, than how can I love others as Jesus teaches? If I don’t believe it’s true for me than it becomes hard to see others as God’s beautiful masterpiece.

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For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. (Ephesians 2:10 NLT)

me

 

I pray I open my eyes to see myself the way God does.

I pray I stop in my tracks when I start to compare myself to others.

I pray I see the beauty in myself and others more often.

I pray I stop believing I’m not good enough and get to work doing the good things God planned long ago.

Is it hard to see yourself as a beautiful masterpiece? What is it God has called you to do? 

 

 

 

 

 

Books, History, Inspiration, Photography, TBT, TBTPictureBooks

The Photograph Keeper

Grandpa

This post is about photographs and a dress and book I recently stumbled across.

The Photographs

My Grandma had to clean out her home of more than 50 years to move into a smaller apartment. There were boxes of photographs in the basement and albums on book shelves and photos on the walls. I had a chance to go through some of those photos with her before she moved. My Grandma told me details about the events and the people in the photos and scribbled names in pencil on the backs for me. What a mix of memories –Great great grandmothers and grandfathers, cousins and friends, birthdays and world wars.

I took a box of the photos home with me.

Then it was my mother in-law’s turn. She took on the task of packing up her childhood home and moving her dad from Buffalo to Florida to live with her. She brought back photographs as well. More life, more memories, more family history, all told through little square and rectangular pieces of paper.

The Dress

The dress was my mother in-law’s first communion dress. She gave the dress to my little girl. My daughter loved the dress. She wore it around the house playing dress up whenever she had the chance. It made me happy her dress up play had a bit of family history woven in.

When we took a trip to visit family in Buffalo I knew I had to take the dress. I carefully packed up the dress in the suitcase. When we arrived I asked my husband if he remembered where his mom’s old childhood house was located. He did and I told him my plans.  My daughter put her dress on and we headed out for the adventure. I didn’t think about the people who lived in the house currently and what they might think. A slight overlook in my plans! I started to think of what I would say as I knocked at the door. Thankfully it was the middle of the day on a weekday. The family and most of the neighbors were gone. My daughter hopped out of the car for our mini photo shoot and I grabbed a few quick shots. I knew these little photos of a dress returned to place would be a sweet gift.

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The Book

I came across Girls Standing On Lawns by Maria Kalman and Daniel Handler in Anthropologie. Art by Maria Kalman, words by Daniel Handler and old photographs of girls on lawns. -I fell in love.

I immediately thought of the photos of my daughter standing in her grandmother’s dress on the lawn in Buffalo. I wondered about those photos my mother in-law had brought back from her childhood home…

 

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” One morning we found some photographs.

One morning these girls stood on lawns.

We  looked at the pictures, and we got to work.”

I think this is possibly my favorite compilation from the book-

“My whole life I have not known where to put my hands.”

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This seems like a brilliant solution to me. I think I would very much like to be photographed in exactly the same way.

 

I spent this past week at my mother in-law’s house. I asked my her about her old photos. I wondered if there were any of her in the dress on the lawn. I went through boxes full of photos. She asked if I wanted them. Of course! She said I was the only one who would be interested in those old photos.

I didn’t find one of her in the dress on the lawn, but I did find other photos. Here are a few of my favorites of my beautiful mother in-law, a girl standing on the lawn.

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I have a few old family photographs in frames. I think I would like to arrange the rest of my collection and put them together in a book from Blurb to pass down to my kids. I think this way they would be more easily viewed and enjoyed and not just stashed away in box somewhere.

What do you do with all of your old family photographs?

 

 

Inspiration, Photography, Time for Art, Uncategorized, Writing

Cliché Photography

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I read someone’s post on Instagram which stated the biggest cliché  in photography are sunrise and sunset photos.

As a photographer I wondered about this statement.

I thought about all the photographs that have ever been taken. Photographs taken by masters of photography, like those of Ansel Adam’s photographs of the American wilderness or Clyde Butcher’s photographs capturing the beauty of the Florida Everglades.

I thought about all the photos snapped a millions of times by traveling tourists.

I thought about all the sunrise and sunset photos on Instagram.

Why do we continue to photograph when it’s all been done before?

Is it all cliché?

Cliché: something that is overly familiar or commonplace *Merriam-Webster Dictionary

No. I disagree.

But I believe this thought hinges purely on the perspective of the viewer.

I believe the sunrise and sunset, the flowers, the clouds, the oceans, and the mountains we continue to photograph are because of a deep response within us to the awe and beauty of God’s creation. Each time we see, we bear witness to these displays of beauty in nature. We are captivated.

“For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.”   ~Romans 1:20

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If we believe a sunrise or sunset is commonplace than maybe we have lost our vision or sense of wonder.

Walt Whitman wrote about wonder and beauty in the everyday and commonplace in his poem called Miracles

“Why, who makes much of a miracle?

As to me, I know of nothing else but miracles,

Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan…

Or wade with naked feet along the beach just in the edge of the water…” ~Walt Whitman

 

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Shenanhoah National Forest

Annie Leibovitz, with her masterful career, has photographed notable people from rock stars to the Queen of England. And yet she has gone on to photograph for herself the places that capture the wonder in all of us. It seems her desire for some of these places (in part) started with a visit to Niagara Falls with her daughters. A photograph of Niagara Falls (not the celebrities she’s famously photographed) is on the cover of her book Pilgrimage.

Imagine your own trip to Niagara Falls. Imagine the feel of the cool mist spraying your face,  the sound of  the water rushing loud as you take in the power and beauty of the waterfall. Then you take out your camera to try and preserve some part of this majesty to carry back home. Someone walks up and says, “No photos allowed. It’s already been done. These falls have been photographed too many times, by too many people. They’ve been seen and visited since 1678. Niagara Falls has been written about and photographed by famous authors and photographers. Please put your camera away.”

We know its been done. All you would have to do is look to your right or left and you’d see hundreds of cameras all taking it in, recording memory.

But we come and we see and we feel and we capture these moments in our own photographs.

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I recently attended a seminar given by a National Geographic photographer. His career has spanned more than forty years. He’s traveled the world from America to Antarctica and there are still countries he would like to visit. The funny thing is, he qualified this with the fact that friends and colleagues in the field have been to these places he’d like to visit. Masters in their own specialty of photography, sometimes spending months photographing these places. He doesn’t want to go to these places to compete with their work, but to see and experience the place for himself. And when he goes he’ll still take his own photographs.

And wherever I might go, I’ll keep taking mine.

I’ve seen the sunrise and the sunset, but it makes me pause and I can’t help but take in the beauty of this world. It’s a gift. I stop and notice. My photographs are a response. A thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Books, Children's Books, Photography, Picture Books, TBTPictureBooks, Thrift Shop

Nursery Rhymes

Grandpa

Nursery Rhymes

A Puppet Treasure Book

This is the last book in my collection from children’s book artists Tadasu Izawa and Shigemi Hijikata. This one is full of nursery rhymes including selections from Robert Louis Stevenson to Mother Goose, counting rhymes, and “Little Nursery Rhymes” –Little Tom Tucker, This Little Pig, Jumping Joan, Jack Horner, Little Boys and Little Girls, Little Bo-Peep, Little Robin Redbreast, We Willie Winkie, and Polly Flinders. It’s a fun collection from Tadasu Izawa and Shigemi Hijikata.

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Inside

My favorite rhyme is Where Go the Boats from Robert Louis Stevenson. Today has been a little rough around the edges. I think tomorrow I just might find myself down by the water where the boats go.

“Dark brown is the river,

Golden is the sand.

It flows along forever,

With trees on either hand…”

Where Go the Boats Robert Louis Stevenson

 

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What’s your favorite nursery rhyme?

 

Books, Children's Books, Photography, Picture Books, TBTPictureBooks, Thrift Shop, Uncategorized

Tom Thumb

Grandpa

Tom Thumb

Today’s Throwback Thursday is the fourth in my puppet book collection from photo illustrators T. Izawa and S. Hijikata. This book features the strange fairytale world of Tom Thumb.

Published by Grosset & Dunlap.

There’s no copyright date printed in the book, but there is an inscription from the original owners of the on the inside cover,

” To Diane and Bobby

Merry Christmas 1973

Love, Mommy & Daddy”

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“If only we had a son,” sighed the wife, 

“I would be content, even if he were no bigger than my thumb.”

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Books, Children's Books, Photography, Picture Books, TBTPictureBooks

Baby Animals

Grandpa

 

Baby Animals

A Puppet Storybook

1969 -illustrations by Tadasu Izawa and Shigemi Hijikata

Cover

Inside Flap

I bought this book with two others by T. Izawa and S. Hijikata. The style of the others two books I bought were different from this one, so I didn’t realize at first what was missing from the front cover. I could see glue lines on the cover of Baby Animals and it definitely made me curious what the cover was supposed to look like.  I found out the cover art on many of the books from T. Izawa and S. Hijikata are done with a lenticular 3D card.  

Even though the cover on this was missing a part I was happy I had found a little set of books at a thrift store all from the same illustrators. Maybe they were dropped off by a family who once collected and loved these books with the whimsical photographic illustrations from T. Izawa and S. Hijikata. 

Back Cover

As I look into other books by these two artists, I’m amazed at the number of titles that were produced. There must have been endless days setting up shots in the studio for all the books –fun little details to work out and sets to design.

“…beautiful color illustrations of adorable puppets in lifelike poses that are en endless delight.”

 

Books, Children's Books, Photography, Picture Books, TBTPictureBooks, Thrift Shop

Little Friends

Grandpa

 

Little Friends

Storytime Pals Series

1971/1982 Illustrations by Tadasu Izawa and Shigemi Hijikata

LittleFriends Cover 1

Another fun book featuring some of my favorite things  –A board book and with photo illustrations. Although Little Friends is quite different from the cute photo board book The Farm. Little Friends is illustrated with puppet figures on a set, not photographs of real animals. I love the little created imaginary worlds. It reminds me a lot of my daughter’s play.

I found this book illustrated by Tadasu Izawa and Shigemi Hijikata and a few other of their books at various thrift stores.

I was shocked when I typed in the names of the illustrators and couldn’t find out anything about the them. We live in a time of  information ease, just do a quick search online and pages of information are right there waiting. The pages I found weren’t about the illustrators, but their many books. Maybe that’s enough though. Maybe that’s all the information they really wanted to leave behind, their work for others to enjoy. Together they have illustrated a great number of children’s books, all in the same signature style of photographed puppets. 

I have a few more of their titles in my collection of vintage children’s books. I’ll share them with you over the next 4 weeks.

LittleFriends spread