Monday, November 16, 2009

seemingly simple things

it's the simple things that make me smile inside or brings a big smile across my face. simple things like:

a bunny in the clouds
a cats soft meow
sun on my face
a gentle breeze
floating leaves

a warm embrace
a full-moon night
firelight flicker
waking up in a tent
down comforters

the smell of Earl Grey tea
a visit from my daughter
thrift store finds
sand between my toes
wind chimes

a new sweatshirt on bare skin
my daughter's laugh
the smell of fresh-baked bread
a soft warm towel after a shower

the giggles of my niece and nephew
the curl of a withering leaf
opening a new book
the pop of silly putty

the smell of fresh mowed grass
the crunch of autumn leaves
shadows dancing on the wall
my moms hug
redbud blossoms

the first frothy sip of a cappuccino
a walk in the woods
children's art
finding a feather

a hammock nap
sidewalk chalk art
sound of chopping wood
chocolate lava cake
real lavender

Christmas pine
night air
clean sheets
old family photos
oh and so much more

participating in Soul Aperture's The Simple Things. If you haven't visited her blog yet, please do so – you will not be disappointed.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

a week at John C Campbell Folk School

I've been home a week now and I've been romising to share my experience at "camp". I took a good many photos but sad to say I didn't get a lot of great ones. Believe it or not, almost every minute was spent either in the studio, eating, or sleeping. It wasn't really until the last day, after the week session was completed, that I went out just to take pictures. Which is fine I suppose – I was there to learn metalsmithing. I couldn't be happier with the way things went the entire week.

Instead of showing up a lot of photos, one after the other, I decided to consolidate and create mosaics out them. First to show you the school and then the work in my class and finally what other folks where learning that same week.
The school is located in Brasstown, NC and sits in a valley surrounded by mountains. The leaves had not changed just yet but I can imagine when they do it is magnificent to see. Even so it was breathtaking and peaceful.
My days started out with a early morning walk with a few that got up early and then what they call "morning song". A sweet little old lady tells stories, plays the dulcimer and sings – a wonderful way to start the day. The breakfast bell rings at 8:15 and all the students gather at the dining hall, entering together and finding a chair, no one sits until the hostess selects a song/praise/blessing from the song sheet and we bless the food and the day ahead. The tables seat 8 and we eat family style, passing food and chatting about this and that, but mostly about what everyone is learning and making. No one a stranger. I have to say I surprised myself. Being a shy person I was a little anxious about mealtime but it was easy and comfortable. So many friendly people all around, all with creative minds and sharing hearts. Once everyone finished their meal (no one ever left before the others where finished eating) one or two people would clear the table and bring back the dessert (well not at breakfast) and gradually people started to leave wishing the others a pleasant day.

My studio class had 7 other women from all parts of the U.S., most of them in their 50s (in fact I would say that mid 50s was the average age if not a little older). I didn't run across anyone else that was from Georgia, for some reason it seemed many where from Michigan and there abouts.
The instructor was very good and I learned a lot of things from her that I had not from my local class and a lot of things just differently. I think you can always learn something different from every teacher no matter how many classes you take. Every one does things slightly different - no one way necessarily better than the other.
Before you know it the lunch bell is ringing. There was a little time between lunch and getting back to class so I would usually go to a favorite spot I found in the herb garden and just sit, share some photos via iphone and talk to Taylor. It was very peaceful there even with the tractors readying the fields for the big festival that was coming up. The hay smelled so sweet as they cut and baled it.
Class again from 1:30 until about 5:30, then time for a little break before dinner. The meals were great and there was always fresh bread and yummy desserts. I heard talk from the folks in felting class that they were right next to the cooking class and the smell of fresh bread was intoxicating. Many days they got samples. I think I want to take that class next time. (not for the bread... I really would like to learn felting).
We worked even after dinner. From 7:30 until 9:30 or so and by that time you were pretty much ready to go to bed. But they had square dancing or singing or story telling.

"Show and Tell" was Friday at noon, so Thursday night the instructor stayed in the studio until 10:30 so that we could finish all of our projects. I was so happy to complete 2 rings, a pendant and a linked bracelet. "Show and tell" was interesting. There we displayed our weeks worth of work and could walk around and see what everyone else had completed in their classes while we stayed so busy in ours. It was amazing to see the amount of beautiful and talented work that came out of each class.
Every week at JCCFS has a different set of about 12 classes. The week I was there people learned felting, basketry, wildlife sculpture with clay, quilting, wood turning, blacksmithing, story writing, watercolor painting, wood sculpture, and how to play the dulcimer, plus jewlery metalsmithing. There is something for everyone – it's just a matter of the deciding. I would love to go back each year and learn something different.

Oh how I wish I had the words and story-telling ability to make it the beautiful story that it was. To make it so appealing that you would want to go yourself. It's a wonderful experience. So wonderful that most of the folks I met have been here several times if not once a year.

I may write more later but it's late.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

a parade of animals

It's time for Gayle's pet parade and I thought it might be fun to include some of the animals we made friends with while at Shaker Village. First we met the beautiful work horses, but it was the gentle donkey that Taylor became fast friends with. Tiny twin kids and huge oxen; lots of barn cats and funny goats; the wooly sheep and their lambs - all of them very friendly.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

blogger portrait

A while back I signed up to send 12 photos of myself to D, a figurative sculptor. She wants to combine what she does in the studio with her blogging and is doing a series of "Blogger" portraits – sculptures of 12 people who she has a connection with in the blogosphere. I am so excited to see what she does with this. I entered because I thought it might be a good way for me to become more comfortable with having my portrait taken and interested to see how someone else might "see" me.
So I had T take a series of 12 images that D asked for, starting at 12 o'clock and going around me taking a photo at each "hour". I had T do it several times because each time I browsed through the images I didn't like them one bit. One thing I discovered was that I got younger looking as she went around – it seemed I looked a good 10 years younger at 9 o'clock position than I did at the 3 o'clock position. I guess everyone has a good side. I never really knew which one was mine – never paid that much attention. Well I decided my left (9:00) profile is acceptable but I'm not so accepting of my right (3:00) profile. At first I thought it was mostly because of the lighting, but after 4 tries at different times and locations I decided I just don't like the view of my right side. I also discovered that my features are lopsided – I mean I know very few of us, if any, are completely symmetrical. I just never paid attention to what all those differences in me where . If you've never done this sort of examination of yourself, from all angles, it's quite revealing.

12 o'clock position (as if I'm looking at the computer screen reading someone's blog - only outdoors because I thought the light would be better - even lighting definitely helps)

3 o'clock position

9 o'clock position

I was very tempted to do some photo-retouching – I refrained so that it would be a true representation. (By the way have you ever played around with the red filter? it can be a beautiful thing on skin tone or it can be a very scary thing.)

Can't wait to see what D does with these (I gave her all 12 images - the good and the bad sides - to work from)

Monday, June 22, 2009

monday memories - 7

I have his features – I wish I had his character.

Happy Father's Day Dad.

He was, and is, the best dad a girl could ever want. The reason I didn't post this earlier is because I always hesitate when trying to write something about my parents. There is just no good way I know of expressing how much I love and admire them both. So to say anything seems sort of trite plus if I tried to go into all the things that are wonderful about him this post would get too long. So I will just say, "Dad, even though I fail with words. I hope you know how much I love you. I feel so fortunate to have you so close in my life."

Thursday, May 28, 2009


taken by my daughter, Nikon D40x Sigma 30mm lens

Yeah we made the Shutter Sisters Daily Click yesterday. T took this photo the other day at our little photoshoot in the grasses. While taking some images of me she got distracted with this little lady bug and changed her focus. I rather like the fact that I'm out of focus. That grass is now gone - cut to the ground.  It makes me sad because I wanted to go back and shoot some more. I wasn't completely pleased with the images we got, mainly of me. I tried to look sort of forlorn in many of the shots, but didn't pull it off.  Instead I just look angry. I wasn't – quite the contrary. I was having a great time – loving that we had a sunny moment in the day. The ground wasn't soggy, the bugs weren't biting – it was just us, alone, with our cameras, talking and laughing, and I'm sure, looking somewhat silly if anyone was watching. But what was great is we didn't care – it felt like our own little world down there. 

The problem is, I don't know how to pose at all. T does. She is a great in front of the camera – has the long lean body and beautiful red hair that catches the light just right. She is aware of her best side and knows just how to turn her body and what to do with her arms and legs, etc. I'm not sure where she learned this. But whatever she does works – she rarely takes a bad photo. Or maybe it's just a mother speaking. anyway. here are some that we got that day.

I call this one "tut tut, it looks like rain"

and of course we always try to get a photo of the jeep, props and situation we entered. As we were walking back up to the car, she was carrying her pink chair and said, "I love my car!" Look it's camouflaged, well sort of. I bought that jeep in 1996 and loved the color. People either love it or hate it, but I can't tell you how many times I had people roll down their windows and comment on it's uniqueness. Since that time I have seen maybe a total of 3 on the road, ever. You can't hide in it. When she pulled her car down there I said, "you know everyone will know it's you down there up to something?" She said, "yeah, there's that photography girl up to one of her crazy photoshoots."

all images are unedited excepted for a little cropping on a few. I'd like to see what T does with them.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Monday Memories - 6

self portrait photo outtake from Alice series by Taylor

This is a continuation of my Monday Memories 5 .

This time last year T was graduating from high school and it seems like yesterday in some ways and in some it seems ages ago. Isn't time and memory strange? How sometimes we can remember so vividly and then other times we can't remember something such a short time ago - like what we even did two days ago.
T put so much into this project and everything was well thought out. I enjoyed seeing her excitement in what she was doing and of course I enjoyed the fact that she asked for my input and we brainstormed together all the way down to what book Alice would have in her lap when she fell asleep (she chose the book of Etiquette by Emily Post). She even took Kodi outside for the first time, putting her on a leash, so that she could recreate the beginning scene when Alice falls asleep reading.
Anyway, not that this was long ago, I love this memory – it confirms what a great team we are . So I keep reliving those last few weeks, right before graduation, that she was working on her Alice in Wonderland project. We have such great stories that go along with each of the photos she took. And they came out so well. In fact just a couple of days ago T and a friend went to visit her highschool photography teacher in class and her teacher told her that she still uses T's final project as a guide and example of good work. The students in the class said, "You're the one that did that? wow you are amazing." So if nothing else she is an inspiration some. I know she is an inspiration to me.

All of the photos she turned in were taken with a manual SLR and she developed the film and prints in the dark room. The black and white prints I show here were scanned in so there is extra dust and such that wasn't on her prints. As well as the manual she took photos with her D-SLR using the remote control. And I'll might like to share those later because the color is amazing and she got some fun outtakes that weren't used for her project. She thought about using some of them to create bookmarks and I think that's a good idea.
So I'm going to share some of the photos with you. I guess as much as loving the memory, I'm a proud mother wanting to show it off – as mother's we like to brag don't we??

First off she wanted to establish the characters. She said I would be a good mad hatter because I'm short and have crazy wild hair. We had a lot of fun putting together the outfits and collecting china and chairs and such for the 'tea party' - making it look haphazard and crazy. The hat came from a friend at work who makes costumes.

The Cheshire Cat was her friend Claire. This one was the hardest to pull off – the mask wasn't so great. But she felt like the striped t-shirt was good for a black and white photo and complimented the wide grin.

"We're all mad here"

Originally I posed as the rabbit with the clock (she chose a clock with big bold numbers that she found in a box of my old things). Here she used her friend Claire again. Personally I think I did a better job but that's ok. T picked out an old vest from my dad's closet and collared white shirt for her to wear.

" No time to say hello, goodbye! I'm late!"

The queen photoshoot was a lot of fun. She made a crown for her by glueing playing cards to a child's tiara. She wanted a red dress so she found a child's dress that came from Goodwill that seemed just perfect with a little lace collar. Her friend Devon posed for these photos and did an awesome job. T starting outside for this one but ended up in our bathroom because of the rose wallpaper – it was perfect! One of my favorite shots is one of the color images of her against the rose wallpaper holding Kodi. The funny thing was she is so afraid of cats but she did it anyway. I was in the shower holding up a flood light and kodi was reaching towards me with a really intense look in her eyes and her claws out. I'll show you that one today and then maybe some of the funny outtakes later. Hope you don't get tired of this.

"Off with her head"

Here's the one I just love. Isn't Kodi intense? Too bad I wasn't standing just a bit more forward so her eyes were focused towards the camera. There's always things you see you could have done better. Maybe next time.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

monday memories - 5

Today I was unpacking T's belongings that she had up at college and came across the bunny mask she used for her senior photo focus last year. I remembered that it was this time of year, last year, that I had so much fun being a part of her project.

more on this later because...

photo taken by Taylor - May 2008

"I'm late , I'm late, For a very important date. No time to say "Hello." Goodbye. I'm late, I'm late, I'm late."

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

a parade of pets

Look, the parade is coming!!

I see Timmy and Polly and sweet Sam. Who else will there be?

yep, yep here it comes. i'm ready, i'm ready!!

daisy, amber and penny, mudpie and emily
Hey girls, we need to dress up for a parade but we have nothing to wear. What shall we do? Let's ride in a wagon pulled by Emerson. This will be fun.

Look Evee, let's join us in the pet parade hosted by Gayle and Elk

(The chicks and Emerson are my brothers pets joining in from B'ham )

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Shutter Sisters Challenge – Before and After

These are just a couple of the images T and I shot last year driving home from spring break. We pulled off the highway to drive the back roads for a while and found this incredible location to shoot some portraits. Right in the back seat of the car, T changed into the bridesmaid dress that we had bought for $5 at the Hilton Head salvation army (when we bought the wedding dress) and we took a bunch of photos.

Before – the sky was a little washed out in this photo and T was in shadow so I decided to play around with it. First I duplicated the image, masked the sky and went to adjustments/exposure/gamma correction to fix the sky on one layer and then the bottom layer I worked with the 'selective color' adjustment to fix the dark shadows in her dress and brighten her up a bit.

After - a little brighter image is the result. Better? I'd like to know what you think.


If I play around with an image in photoshop, the first thing I usually do is go to 'selective color' to make adjustments. If it's an image of a person, I select red and I take down the percentage of black. This clears up skin nicely – T was a little sunburned and this process toned that down a little.

...and Beyond
Here I added a texture just for fun. I like the warm color but I'm not sure I like the texture – cracks on skin don't look very pretty. I needed to take the time to remove them from her skin.

I guess I was tired tonight and didn't do these to the best of my abilities. I do this sort of thing every day with my job. But it's strange, sometimes I don't take the time with my own work. I did these hurriedly, realizing I had to submit tonight and now I'm embarrassed at submitting them at all. I think I prefer the original SOOC shots.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

6 little chicks

I promised to tell you about the Easter chicks but I this week has been sort of unusual in that 2 nights this week I have had to work til almost midnight and on top of that we were without power for a day and a half because of a freak wind storm that had trees down on power lines all over the city. Today should be a lighter day but I am at work and really shouldn't be doing this here. However, I just had to post this photo that my brother sent me last night.
Here is Emerson (his dog) with Penny. My brother is the one who came from B'ham to Atlanta to get these chickens and apparently they are adapting real well to their new home. Little Penny looks like she's setting things straight with Emerson - "I'm here to lay eggs NOT to eat you hear? Give me time - by autumn I'll be laying some nice eggs for you and your master". I think they established a friendship that night.

Here's are a few from a little photo shoot we did that night.

The whole gang. The little black chicks still don't have names. Any ideas?
Mom probably would have been horrified had she seen us photographing these chicks on her dining room table.

This is the photogenic Daisy. Taylor named her first. She's light yellow right now but will grow into a pure white chicken.

The event that had my brother egg-cited was the so-called Chicken Stimulus Package organized by a backyard poultry advocate who calls himself the Chicken Whisperer. 650 chicks were given away that day. The Chicken Whisperer was there to promote raising urban chickens as pets and for their eggs, and to raise awareness for a fella who was in hot water with the city of Roswell for having backyard chickens. I feel certain the city will have to re-write the laws to allow backyard poultry or they'll really have their hands full! :-) He's the man who had this bumper sticker on his truck.

I just went a long for the ride that morning. They were to begin giving chicks away at 8am on Saturday so we thought we had to get there real early to be sure we were in line to receive our allotted 2. We got there at 7 and no one was anywhere to be seen. Gradually people started showing up, but still not anything like the crowd we had anticipated.

It was interesting to me to see the different types of people there to get chicks. There were old and young couples, families with little children, country folk and city folk. They brought everything from fancy baskets, shoe boxes, to plastic strawberries cartons to carry their chicks home in.

I met a really nice photo journalist that morning. One of the highlights of my morning. She was a young girl who graduated from UGA (where my daughter attends) and has been working for the AJC for 4 years. She was very friendly and we had time to talk before they started bringing in the chicks. Of course then she had to do her job. I was surprised the next morning when I saw her photos in the paper and there was one so similar to a photo I took that my mom thought it was mine. I guess we both saw the story here - a young girl who was handing out the chicks with a I love "chickens" button on her hoodie and a heart ring on her hand.

It turned out that my brother got 4 chicks and my dad got 2. We took them home and put a heat lamp on them. The next morning there was a bad storm in Atlanta and my dad's house was one that lost power at 9am. His main concern all day and into the next day was how to keep the chicks warm. So he lit a coleman lantern and put foil over it to direct the heat to the chicks and then stayed up most of the night making sure they were ok. The power was out for over 30 hours but the chicks survived. I hope the others that got chicks that day, and were without power, were able to keep their little girls alive as well.

With these 6 chickens (my dad decided to give his 2 to him), my brother should be getting close to 2 dozen eggs per week. He'll have some very happy neighbors. There's no comparison between a store bought and farm fresh egg. One could compare this to a vine fresh tomato versus a hot house tomato from the store.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Monday Memories - 4

Bunnies at Easter

I didn't take T to have her photo taken in a studio setting very often - maybe 3 or 4 times because I really don't like the studio shots, but at Easter there was always a special deal AND they had live bunnies, plus grandparents like those cheesy studio portraits. T loved animals of all kinds and bunnies were no different so she enjoyed these photo shoots and posed nicely for the man behind the camera.

With Easter just around the corner, this Monday Memories has me remembering the year I gave T a live bunny in her Easter basket. What a surprise it was for her on that 3rd Easter celebration. I put the little lop eared bunny right in her basket along with the stuffed chick. Aren't baby bunnies the cutest thing ever? She didn't realize it was real until it jumped - she squealed with delight. Aw so cute.

She named him Brambles and she loved that bunny. As he got older, and fatter, we put him in a cage outside. She would feed him carrots and let him jump around in the grass, attached to a leash.

Brambles lived for about a year and it was because of me that he died. As the temperatures dipped in the winter months we would cover the cage with a warm blanket to keep him warm, but one night it got extremely cold - in the teens I think - and I had not thought about the bunny or the fact that it was going to be much too cold for him to stay outside. Not until early in the morning that is - I jumped up and ran outside to check on him. I was relieved to find him breathing, but he was very lifeless. I picked him up to bring him in and as I was walking back inside he had some sort of seizure and I think he stopped breathing. I rushed inside frantically calling my dad (we were living at their house at the time) and he calmly gave that little bunny CPR and pumped his heart back to life. We put him on top of the clothes dryer with it running - Dad said the motion would stimulate his heart and the heat would help him thaw out. I thought Brambles was doing a little better but then he went into cardiac arrest again and Dad couldn't bring him back. I let T's bunny freeze to death while she was away. T had been at her dad's for the weekend and was coming home soon. I didn't know how I would tell her - she was only 4. We talked to her together and she cried and cried but she wanted to see him. We thought that it was a good idea for her to see him just looking like he was sleeping peacefully and had died in his sleep (not that I froze him to death). Sitting there on the floor in the laundry room, she held him, tears running down her little cheeks. We told her we had to put him to rest in the ground - this made her confused really, we tried to explain and finally she said, sobbing, "well, if you have to bury him, can you at least leave his head out so he can breathe?!!" aw poor thing. I felt so terrible and it broke my heart to see her so sad.
Next time I let her Dad be the one to get her a bunny. I think it lived longer.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Monday Memories - 3

The other day on my other blog I mention last year's Prom and the fact that we didn't do it up like most, i.e., we didn't make a lot of fanfare about it. We did, however, have something a little different cooked up. But she had to get the "group" together first. Taylor knew it would be her 2 best friends (her art teacher called them napoleon ice cream because one is a blond, the other a brunette and taylor a redhead) - that part was easy, but getting the guys was a bit of a challenge. Taylor's boyfriend asked one of his friends to go with the blond and another one ofher guy friends agreed to go with the brunette (he actually had a girlfriend who didn't want to go to the prom but she agreed to let him be in the photos to even out the numbers). Ok so all was well - 3 boys, 3 girls.
Now we had to find our location - she didn't have the traditional azaleas, flowering trees and grassy lawns in mind - she wanted rubble. My photographer friend had shot some portraits in an abandoned location downtown so T and I drove to check it out.
When he had shot there it looked like this...

and now looked like this...

That wouldn't work in high heel shoes. So, what now? She had a brilliant idea! She would use her old suitcases that she had been collecting from goodwill stores and do the photoshoot at a railroad track. "Yeah this will be cool". They could be walking the tracks, sort of like they're on a journey - destination to the next phase in their lives. We searched and search and found the perfect location.

And as an additional idea she wanted to do couple portraits - taken looking through a picture frame something like this.

Ok so I guess we were making sort of big deal out of it but anyway here's what happened.

Found the perfect dress, Vera Wang (highly marked down) in her favorite color, purple; found the perfect location and had the perfect small group, all willing for an adventure but... now they had an extra girl that didn't fit in (the guy brought his girlfriend - she made the even number odd) and... it was raining.
We drove down to the train tracks (about 20 mins) anyway hoping the rain would let up. My photographer friend was meeting us there. The rain did let up a little bit so we shot the "framed" photos. There was a building across the tracks that had some nice vines growing on it and the warm ochre color was great with the frames and the girls dress colors. The girls were getting worried about their carefully straightened hair - the mist and rain was causing curl and frizz.

aw what a gentleman - he gave her his coat
each of the couples did a photo similar to this and they were so cute

While shooting those photos in front of an old building a security guy drove up and told us we couldn't shoot there. This was not good. But we were determined to get some cool photos even if we couldn't do the railroad track idea. So I drove up the street to see what I could find. There was some sort of loading dock that I thought would be a good place to at least get out of the rain while we thought a minute, and as I looked at it I realized it would make a perfect "train station".

I loved the dark red door - perfect with the suitcases and their dresses (I liked how none of the girls were the traditional long gown types and how their dresses naturally worked well with each other - except for the extra girl).

The guys acted bored "waiting on the train" while the girls chatted
(sorry, but doesn't that one girl look out of place?)

So that is what we did. The young people created a story that they were on a great journey together, off to new and exciting adventures, new experiences - a new world they were about to embark on - college. The photos shoot was a lot of fun - the girls relaxed about their hair (you can see Taylor's change from straight to curly); they played with colorful dollar store umbrellas; they laughed and acted silly but we got some serious photos out of it too.

$1 doesn't buy you a very good umbrella - it broke right away

the serious photo - "waiting on the train"

the sweet couple shot

I think my friend and I got many interesting photos (I wish I could show you more) and the experience was one I doubt any of them will ever forget.
We finished up a little early - too early for them to head to their dinner reservation at The Geisha House, so they went to a local coffee shop, Octane, to kill some time. Of course I went home at this point but I was thrilled to have been a part of the photo shoot. Later T told me that at the coffee shop they had been having a little garage sale of sorts and moved it indoors because of the rain. There happened to be a straightening iron for sale - $3. Taylor bought it and the girls went into the bathroom and straightened their hair...

Now isn't that more exciting, and memorable, than this?

boring (we did take a few of these for the traditional parents - they just weren't on my camera)