Monday, January 27, 2020

a real life saver

Let's Stick Together by Sara Harley
Let's Stick Together
As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, at the beginning of January, Helen, an oil painter from Arkansas,and I set up a monthly plan to provide us both with some additional inspiration for our hobbies. We realized that our creative friends might like to join us so we set up "Inspiration Collaboration". (instagram: @inspirationcollaboration)  The idea is that we provide a few images, along with a few words, for people to use as inspiration to make their own creation.


One of the images for January's inspiration was Helen Eaton's Scattered Crayons:
Scattered Crayons by Helen Eaton

When I saw Helen's painting, I thought of two things...childhood and colour. Then I thought of life savers. Every Christmas, Santa used to bring me a "story book" filled with 5 rolls of life savers candy. I searched high and low this month so I could buy a roll of life savers for a photo shoot. It took me weeks, but I finally found some in a store I seldom go to. And, just like a child, I played with my candy.
Stuck on You by Sara Harley
Stuck on You

Support System by Sara Harley
Support System

Sweet Smile by Sara Harley
Sweet Smile

The only disappointing thing about the session was the packaging that Life Savers are sold in these days.  I was horrified by the amount of plastic packaging. That's nothing to smile about.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Home is where the Heart is

Hibernation by Sara Harley
Hibernation
Where do you find happiness?Aside from being comfortable with yourself, and having family and friends, I think you can find happiness anywhere if you choose to look.

In my dreams, I live in a century old home in a neighbourhood with mature trees, perhaps with a stream or river nearby. In reality, I live in a new section of a small town, streets filled with characterless houses sitting side by side and hydro poles in place of tall trees.

But, I live a block from a river that I walk along every day, where ospreys and bald eagles nest and loons and cormorants swim. My yard back on to miles and miles of walking trails that are home to all kinds of wildlife, including herds of deer. I can stand at my kitchen window and watch the sun rise in the morning, and sit on our back deck and see the sunet through the forest in the evening.

My neighbourhood might not be a place of beauty for everyone, but, for me, it brings joy every single day.


Morning Has Broken by Sara Harley
Morning Has Broken

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

The Ugly Duckling

Roundabout by Sara Harley
Roundabout
For years and years, I focused on "the big picture" and my images were mostly scenic shots of things that the general population finds beautiful. Sunsets and sunrises, wide vistas, beautiful landscapes.

Now, I am increasingly interested in making intriguing photographs of things that most people would not give a second thought to. I find it challenging, and rewarding, to capture a photograph of an everyday item in a unique way. 

Not everything is appealing at first glance. Sometimes you need to look closely to discover the beauty within. I enjoy creating something thought provoking out of something mundane.


Fringe by Sara Harley
Fringe
So, for those of you who are asking....

The first image is a photograph of rings at the bottom of a clear drinking glass, with window blinds in the background.  The second image is patterns of ice in a stream along the trail where I walk my dog.

A couple passed me while I was photographing the ice. "Oh, you're taking pictures of ice! You know, there are ducks just up the way." I smiled and thanked them, but didn't bother telling them I was much more interested in the ice than in the ducks :)

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Snow Berries

Snow Berries by Sara Harley
Snow Berries
I have been making a lot of "re-imagined" images lately...photographs that I manipulate using computer software. However, this image is a "real" photograph. I am thrilled with it.

How did it come about?

As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, at the beginning of January, Helen, an oil painter from Arkansas,and I set up a monthly plan to provide us both with some additional inspiration for our hobbies. Here's how the project came about...

We realized we both needed a boost in our creative processes. I wanted to add more color to my photographs and get out and about more with my "good" camera. Helen wanted new and different subjects to paint. We decided to collaborate and look to each other's work for inspiration. As our plan began to take shape, we realized that our creative friends might like to join us so we set up "Inspiration Collaboration". (instagram: @inspirationcollaboration)

We each provided two images - two paintings from Helen and two photographs from me. Participants were encouraged to pick one image to use as inspiration and submit their creations before the end of January.

This is the image I used for my inspiration: Helen Eaton's "Snow Cardinal" painting


Snow Cardinal by Helen Eaton
Snow Cardinal by Helen Eaton
I love photographing birds and trees, they are my favourite things to capture with my camera. It was to my great surprise that Helen's painting "Snow Cardinal" inspired me to work with the colour red rather than the subject of birds. I spent a couple of weeks taking photographs of different red subjects (a difficult task in a grey Nova Scotia winter) and experimenting with my photo library on my computer. In the end, I settled on the simple, but beautiful, subject of winterberry branches. Nova Scotia winters aren't so dull after all.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Inspiration Collaboration: January

At the beginning of January, Helen, an oil painter from Arkansas,and I set up a monthly plan to provide us both with some additional inspiration for our hobbies. Here's how the project came about...

We realized we both needed a boost in our creative processes. I wanted to add more color to my photographs and get out and about more with my "good" camera. Helen wanted new and different subjects to paint. We decided to collaborate and look to each other's work for inspiration. As our plan began to take shape, we realized that our creative friends might like to join us so we set up "Inspiration Collaboration". (instagram: @inspirationcollaboration)

We each provided two images - two paintings from Helen and two photographs from me. Participants were encouraged to pick one image to use as inspiration and submit their creations before the end of January.

I choose Helen's "Snow Cardinal" painting to use as my inspiration:
Snow Cardinal by Helen Eaton
Snow Cardinal by Helen Eaton
I played with different concepts before I came up with my image. If you know my photography, you know that a LOT of my photographs are of birds and trees....they are my favourite subjects. I found it slightly odd, then, that my main focus was the colour red rather than the "bird" subject.  

My approach in creating my final image was not to capture one photograph and consider the project done for the month. I decided to try different things and then pick my favourite. Here are some of things I came up with through the month:

Stage One: Being aware of my surroundings and looking for a red subject with some sort of reference to trees.
 
The first stage was simply to become mindful of red things when I was out for my daily walk. Nova Scotia is typically shades of grey during the winter, so finding something red is a challenge in itself. Apparently we do have cardinals here, although I haven't been fortunate enough to see one since we moved here from Ontario almost 12 years ago.

My first "red" sighting...with branches in the photo as well! Admittedly, not a great photo. But I reminded myself that I was simply training my eye. Things would get better (I hoped).
A red barn seen through a tangle of trees.
A couple of photos from the backyard.

 And...back to the same red barn on a snow day.

Stage Two: playing with images on my computer.
If I couldn't find a red subject that I was happy with, maybe I could construct it using my photo library. I won't attempt to explain how my mind works, but when I saw Helen's cardinal painting and tried to think of red things, this photograph came to mind. 

What? Yes, I know. It's an abstract. The subject is the hull of a dry docked boat. And what does that have to do with cardinals in the woods?

Well, this project is for inspiration, not duplication. As I stated at the outset, my goal was to find something red and some "branches". Well, this is red. No branches, but the running lines have a branch like feel to them if you stretch your mind a bit.

But I wanted the red in the centre, so I played with the image. I duplicated the image 7 times and this is what I came up with:
It was a great exercise in photo editing, but it wasn't what I was looking for as an answer to the "Snow Cardinal" challenge. Nevertheless, I had fun working on the image. Not all experiments have to be successes.

One other photograph from my library that I thought of was an image I took last year with my phone that I called "Entangled". It was a black and white image of a bird in the middle of an entanglement of branches (not the usual placement for a subject, but I did it intentionally). I played with the photo by adding red berries from another photograph:

Still not in my happy place, but again it was fun to experiment.

I eventually came up with something I was happy with. Stay tuned for my "reveal".