Beagle As Still Life

I am not a photographer who takes still life subject matter. I understand the concepts of it and I love seeing it when done well by others. But for me, it’s too much fussing for the end result.

I had more thoughts on this several years ago when I took a macro photography class from Bryan Peterson. I spent all day wrestling with my subject matter, made a bunch of mistakes, and decided that it wasn’t for me (you can see the post here).

So in Week 3 of Kim Klassen’s class, A Month of Multiples, we had an assignment to shoot a still life. After enough procrastination, I decided on a different subject matter for my still life.

I offer for your laughter “Beagle as Still Life”. Nothing, but nothing, will interfere with his naps, except maybe the crinkle of a cheese wrapper or the rattle of his harness. His sleep is an essential part of his daily routine and when it’s nap time, all other life ceases. Some days, we even check to make sure he’s still breathing.

So here is my still life for the Week 3 assignment. As one of my blogging friends commented, it certainly was still!

Iced Tea for Breakfast

I drink iced tea for breakfast everyday – even when I worked in downtown Minneapolis in the winter! There was a Caribou in the skyway that I took to get from the parking deck to my office. Each day they had a different flavor and no matter what the temperature was outside, people were buying it. The iced chamomile tea was good (not enough caffeine in the morning though) but I didn’t like the Earl Grey.

I also use a Starbucks cup with a screw-on lid for a tea to go. My daughter calls it my adult sippy cup and she’s right! Even if it gets knocked over, it doesn’t leak. A few years ago at the start of a meeting, I did actually knock it over. My boss jumped back quickly and we were all relieved that nothing spilled.

The hubby and I eat breakfast out frequently. We started this years ago due to all the overtime I worked and in retirement, it’s a nice way to start the day.

This photo was for a project on the in-between week for A Month of Multiples with Kim Klassen. The creative group that I belong to decided on it and it was great fun to see everyone’s coffee, tea, and various morning beverages. The stories behind the mugs was the best.

This was post processed in Topaz Studio using SJ Watercolor. Textures were added from 2 Lil’ Owls – the Brilliance, Epiphany, and Fairy Dust collections. The border was from Photomorphis.

One Spot Challenge

I’m doing a photography class with Kim Klassen titled “The Month of Multiples”. It’s purpose is to encourage us to really look at what we’re photographing and shoot with intentionality.

I took the class a) for inspiration in my photography; b) Kim is a great teacher and I always learn something and c) it sounded fun / interesting.

The take-away for the first week? Don’t be so busy behind the computer that you neglect taking pictures. Yep, that’s easy to have happen.

Week 1 had a one spot challenge, which wasn’t hard to do at the botanical garden. The goal was to truly look at what’s in front of us and take multiple pictures without wandering more than four feet away.

Of course, having a zoom lens and the ability to crop my photos helps too. It was pretty breezy at the moment I took these. That poor butterfly was whipped back and forth and I had to wait for the plant to stop moving before I even got this. Even so, it’s a bit over to one side.

I loved these grasses! There was no signage telling me what they were, but the backlighting made them shine like little jewels. And those green mounds were gorgeous.

These pretty little flowers just begged for a close-up study.

The last one in here was at the end of the curve in the first photo so it was not within four feet of the one spot. But when I got down there, I turned around and looked back and thought huh. Not bad!

I don’t usually take pictures facing that way, but I did this time. So I was paying attention and shooting with intention.

I took many more pictures than this, but they weren’t in one spot. The biggest surprise was the crepe myrtles were back in bloom for a second time – big deep, lush, beautiful blooms. Even better than they were a month ago. Apparently some rain and cooler temperatures were to their liking!

Practicing Stillness

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Be Still. . . Preferably, With Some Tea; Photo Stylized With Topaz Impressions

This week’s photo challenge is minimalist, explained as:

An artfully executed minimalist photograph is anything but mundane. It illustrates a moment in time, or an artistic perspective, with simplicity and grace.

 

Minimalist photography is characterized by a large portion of negative space, a fairly monochromatic color palette with good contrast, and an interesting subject that is able to stand on its own to capture the interest of the viewer. At first thought, it may seem like it would be easy to shoot an engaging minimalist photograph, when indeed it can often be the opposite. A minimalist photo can also effectively tell a story, in spite of its relative simplicity, and it is anything but “plain”.

After I edited my picture, I added the minimalist phrase, “Be Still”.  It comes of course, from one of my favorite Bible verses:

Be still and know that I am God. ~ Psalm 46:10

Simple.  Minimal.  And so very hard to actually execute.

It also comes from my creativity class with the ever-so-creative-herself, Kim Klassen.  In the very first week of “Be Still – Fifty Two”, she encouraged us to practice stillness, even if just for a minute a day.  To paraphrase, she said:

Take a breath ~ pause ~ move forward ~ one day at a time ~ center ~ peace ~ trust.

Also simple and minimal.  Also hard to actually do.

The reasons it’s hard to execute are not a surprise.  Too busy, too many demands, too tired, etc etc etc.  I could put a checklist out here and y’all would check them and add more to it.

That doesn’t make it any easier though to slow down, be still, and just be.

Be quiet.

Be simple.

Be present in the moment.

Be content with here and now.

Be grateful.

Be open to trusting God.

Which is why I chose a tea picture.  Making tea takes time.  There’s a whole ritual to it, starting with pouring out the old water and filling up the tea pot.  Get out a filter (or basket) and measure out tea.  Cut up a lemon, wash the cutting board and my hands, and wait more on the water to get hot enough.  And of course, the time waiting for the tea to steep, then cool enough to drink it.

There are days I don’t make tea for myself.  I don’t want to wait.  So I have a glass of plain water instead.  Which is still good for me, but it’s a shame that I don’t wait on my tea when I enjoy it so much.

If I slow down too much, even less will get done.  But I miss not sitting and just thinking as well.  I need it and function better when I do it.  I think like with anything, this needs practice and for me to make it more important.

So stay true to your own nature. If you like to do things in a slow and steady way, don’t let others make you feel as if you have to race. If you enjoy depth, don’t force yourself to seek breadth. If you prefer single-tasking to multi-tasking, stick to your guns. Being relatively unmoved by rewards gives you the incalculable power to go your own way.
― Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

 

We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.
― Ray Bradbury

 

 

 

 

 

Nurturing My Creativity. . . Not

 

Lilies Worked with a Dark Mood Preset in Adobe Lightroom
Lilies Worked with a Dark Mood Preset in Adobe Lightroom

So I’ve been rather missing around here and it’s weird to sit and try to write the first blog post in a long while.

It’s not like my life was wildly interesting during my break.  Mostly I decluttered the house (in a big, big way), cooked, and read.

I lost 40 pounds.  Woohoo!!!  Which is a big reason why I spend so much time cooking.  I’d gotten away from it the last few years.  My favorite boy toy went onto his own diet last fall and lost weight, and I did so as well.

As for the reading, I have been missing that the last few years.  My writing and photography, while fun, took time away from a lot of other things.  As I looked over my goal ideas for 2014, I wanted to read a great more again.  Everything is a trade-off and I knew that when I started to blog.  But I enjoyed the blogging, the new friends that I made, and having a show case for my writing and photography.  But this year, I wanted time for other things as well.

I started a class with Kim Klassen called “Be Still – Fifty Two“.  It’s a year long creativity / photography class.  Kim does some lovely and creative work (you can see it at http://www.kimklassencafe.com/).  I was intrigued by what she would share over the course of a year.  From what I’d seen of a similar course she did in 2012, it appeared to be moderately paced so that I could keep up with it.

Week 6 was working with a preset called “Dark Mood” that she provided.  I was pleased with how the lilies above turned out.  Below is how they originally looked, which is also very nice.  They just aren’t as moody.  I don’t know that I’d alter too many of my photographs with this preset, but it was fun to play with.

The question for Week 6 was what do we do to nurture our creativity?  My initial reaction was, not much.  But as I wrote this, I realized that I am:

  • Writing daily in my journal.  It’s short paragraph using a Moleskine 12 month-weekly notebook, but it is usually daily.
  • At least once and sometimes more in a week, I write a much lengthier entry in my regular notebook journal.  It might be about something I read and want to explore more or an event I want to record in more detail.  But at least once a week, I write more than just a daily paragraph.
  • I’ve started taking Lynda.com courses again (click here for a review on Lynda.com).  This is because I recently upgraded both Lightroom and Photoshop to the latest versions and have no idea what the changes are.  I also don’t remember how to do much in Photoshop anymore as I’m not using it enough.

Does my reading nurture my creativity?  I would say it does.  It inspires me, relaxes me, and often gives me things to think about and write about.  It’s a welcome break in my day and far better than watching television, even if I do read trashy romances or too many murder mysteries.  Of course, after doing corporate taxes all day, my brain is too fried to read anything much more complicated than that!  But I read more than fiction.  I recently finished Creativity: The Perfect Crime by Phillippe Petit (he walked the high wire between the Twin Towers of World Trade Center in 1974) and very much enjoyed it.

Is that enough nurturing of my creativity?  I have to think about that more.  On a daily basis, I’m not doing much.  Often, I’m too tired after work to get much done, so my creativity happens in starts and fits on the weekend, after chores and errands are done, assuming I still have anything left over for extra endeavors.  If it sounds like I’m whining, I am.  Which is not right.  My life is good.  But as always, I have more I’d like to do than I have time to do it.

Gratitude, gratitude.  I need to keep practicing that.

 

Lilies As Originally Shot
Lilies As Originally Shot