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Posts Tagged ‘photography’

Serene is sure a feeling that can escape us when we’ve got a lot on our plate. And lately, this photo is what’s been bringing me back to some semblance of serene.

Beautiful orcas in a sea of calm. I feel like perhaps they are dreaming. Diving, resting and just breathing in the night air. The last few weeks have been far too busy with one thing or another and although I know – we all do – that from time to time, it’s just how life is, I found myself longing for a touch of the serenity I see in this photo. I found myself wishing I could weave among them as kin where they would welcome me, not be afraid, and just share with me whatever they know and feel in the moment captured above.

“They were watching, out there past men’s knowing, where stars are drowning and whales ferry their vast souls through the black and seamless sea.”
~ Cormac McCarthy

But this period of so much going on has had its up-side, too.  I have been on a real reading tear, loving diving into one book after another, middle grade, adult, picture books, no matter. Perhaps these books have all given me the respite I needed, new places to go, people to know, situations that grabbed my attention and heightened sensation. What a rich world books bring us.

OK, change of plans. I’ll sit on an outcropping of rocks next to the orcas, they with their dreams, me with my book, one in spirit under a full moon. Join me?

 

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It’s always a bit of a surprise when the clock turns back to “regular” time and it starts getting dark earlier. We know it’s coming and why, but it’s never fails to be an adjustment. It seems the most clear demarcation of the end of all things blooming and the deepest step towards winter.

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I was determined to give my camera and myself a little exercise Sunday, but was not prepared for the sun already setting lower at 2:30 in the afternoon. The sky was alternately blustery grey, bright blue, or streaked with layered clouds. You can see the Delaware River in the background as I walked parallel to it heading north. The tracks once connected all of the river towns on the Jersey side, and I hear rumors from time to time of their being restored.

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It’s funny how you can pass the same thing so many times and yet not truly notice it. These old doors belong to a 2-story stone garage. What’s interesting is the structure is completely made of stone and mortar except for over the doors, where it appears to be made of odd, stone-like shapes of brick. It’s most unusual and makes me wonder what purpose this was once used for. The space is big enough to have housed at least one horse stall, but it seems more suited as a garage. The style of stonework is really quite old.

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Lately I find myself noticing all kinds of textures. The worn paint and the rusted hinges enchanted me. I think I could have taken dozens of photographs of just the front of this structure, maybe even of the doors themselves.

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The front, looking up. I love the stone windowsill and the wooden lintel. Someone has been keeping up with the concrete repair around the stone and brickwork.

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The sky was such a changing mix of things, but the river seemed moody and sullen. No lovers tarried on the bridge this afternoon.

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Skies looked brighter in the east. A few lone hangers-on from some type of shrub waved in the breeze. Orange leaves drifted down, speckling a surprisingly still verdant lawn.

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The sun cast long shadows as I continued to walk. So many beautiful old trees in this area, not cut or abolished as you see in so many of the newly developed tracts. Here trees have their place and are appreciated for their beauty, their shade, and for the part they play in creating a place people like for its coziness and charm. I could walk – and take photographs – all day.

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Sometimes we have to indulge ourselves a wee bit. So after all but shackling myself to my Mac all week long, faithfully taking care of my clients’ needs, I am sharing something that I have always found nothing short of magical – a carousel.

From when I was a small child and our family went every year to a nearby amusement park on my birthday, the greatest attraction for me was always the carousel. Of course … it had horses, music, lights … what’s not to love?

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The carousel you see in the photos here is a P.T.C. carousel, i.e., made by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company, one of the greatest and most historic manufacturers of carousels in this country. And although I would love to visit Jane’s Carousel in Brooklyn, this one is much closer, a bit more than a half hour away in Lahaska, PA.  P.T.C. #59, as this carousel is known, was built in 1922, and has been in numerous places around this country, but found its current spot in Peddler’s Village in 1998; it includes forty-six hand-carved wood figures, by Master Carver Ed Roth from Long Beach, CA.

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Perhaps all these photos are a bit indulgent, so feel free to pass on if you choose. But if you find carousels as magical as I do, hop on for a ride. I’ll only say I’ve saved my favorite horse for last.

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It was becoming late in the day, and the sun was lowering in the sky, creating some unavoidable light and shadow contrast.

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The carousel had a goat, rooster, pig, cat, rabbit, and a few others, but I have never been as enamored of any of them as I have the horses.

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The most stunning of all …

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If you live anywhere in the swath of the recent and impending snowstorms that we have been having/will soon have, I know what you’re really saying, as am I, not Let It Snow, but Let It Stop.

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The other night I heard the weatherman on TV saying to “Embrace the cold.” I’m having a hard time with that as it just keeps on coming … and with snow and ice. But he has a point. Shaking our fists at the skies doesn’t change a thing, so we do best to try and settle into peaceful acceptance.
And with that, came a few photos of said snow.

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And even after the snowiest day, once the sky clears, it’s still great to have your laundry smelling fresh.

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Have you ever looked at the same thing day after day, then suddenly one day it looks different? This was the case with the rooftops below and it wasn’t just the snow. Suddenly they looked like a painting, an illustration for a children’s book … something different.

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And I am grateful for fresh eyes!

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The air was too crisp and the sunshine too bright to not go for a morning walk. And it was worth it … the Delaware was celebrating the day as well.

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This humble bridge connecting Pennsylvania and New Jersey was originally constructed in 1842.

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At 4:30 this morning I was jarred into awakening by the sound of my currently empty garbage can hurtling across my back porch to points South. (It was placed there as the least likely spot to be pushed around by winds gusting to 50 mph. Clearly, the wind knew better than I.)

And at that pre-dawn hour, when many unwelcome thoughts clamber into our consciousness, a score of them crowded my mind. They all had to do with the future and with things that in all likelihood would never come to pass. But such is the mindset when we are catapulted into wakefulness from a sound sleep.

Some time later, curled up on the couch with my coffee and happily-fed, drowsy cats, I opened up to read from The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo. In language far more poetic than my own, he described the ancient human challenge of staying in the miracle that is and not falling into the black hole of what is not. He provided a simple breathing exercise to let go of all the imagined outcomes that are not yet real. In other words, be in the moment. Perfect.

So this evening, just about 12 hours after my abrupt morning awakening, I was working at my desk. The wind continued to wrestle with the trees and I looked out the window to see the magnificent sky pictured above. At first, I thought to continue my work. Then I realized that that sky was the miracle of now, exactly what I had been reading about and reflecting upon. I chose that moment.

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As creatives, we often find ourselves stuck – like there’s something in front of us that we know we can only trip over. We don’t want to risk hurting ourselves so we don’t go forward. While staying in place is the seemingly safer path, in the long run it is far more painful. When we don’t try, we don’t grow. Not pushing through ultimately makes us frustrated, depressed, anxious – all the emotions that we don’t want to feel. Ironically, these are good things in the sense that they are signposts showing us the way …when we look at our writing pads, computers, sketchbooks, cameras, canvases, etc and feel those emotions, we see right where our issues are. Thank them and let them go.

As both an artist and a writer, I need to make time for my craft one way or another every day. Because I journal every morning, my writing skills are always kept well-oiled and in gear. While I do need to get new things down, edit and refine, it is much less effort because the fluidity is there. Or I blog, all so I can focus on my real craft, writing for children.

As for my drawing, that takes more effort. Many years ago, when I was in Pratt, our instructors had specific requirements of us students. From when we first took 2-D (drawing) in freshman year, we were required to have our sketchbook with us 24/7. And so we did. When I began to become more involved with photography in my junior year, we were required to carry our camera with us 24/7. Both these exercises had the same result – if you had it with you, you used it.

We began to draw and photograph each other, the cat, the campus, the subway – didn’t matter – it became a routine because that sketchbook or camera was attached at the hip. Admittedly, one felt like a fool after awhile having it there and ignoring it even when going through a dry patch. The bottom line is, make it easy for yourself, be kind, and without criticism, just do it.

All the moaning and excuses in the world won’t get any project advanced, but tinkering about with our craft will. What I’ve found is that even while we’re busily avoiding exactly what it is we truly need to get done, we can trick ourselves by doing something else. For example, I have a heap of work I want to do to strengthen my portfolio. It’s a big task and a lot to do. I really am psyched. But the enormity of it sets me back a bit. Should I do nothing? No – I decided to just draw other things – a little oil in the gears, and then I’m going.

This tree frog I drew has nothing to do with portfolio requirements. It had everything to do with actively kicking aside whatever might be there to trip me. So for all of us – take the back door approach if you will – draw, write, paint, doodle something … anything … just do it!

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