Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Photographer's Journal

Hundreds of Ways
I am and have always been a documentary photographer. I take pictures to show myself and others the world as it is, in all its beauty especially, but occasionally in its ugliness as well. That means my photos are usually sharply focused with good depth of field and colors as realistic as I can make them.

Of late, however, I have been inspired to play with various ways of processing photos--ways that have become so much easier in our digital world--that make them bit less "realistic."

So here's a current experiment: A close-up shot of the heart of a yellow rose. But I've amped the color a couple of notches. Now it is YELLOW, not just yellow. And I increased the "noise" level--yes, pictures have noise--and that makes it grainer. It emphasizes the fact that whereas the leading edges of the petals are in sharp focus, the remainder of the flower and especially the heart are not.

The title comes for a Rumi poem: "...hundreds of ways to kneel in prayer..." I thought it relevant here because experimenting with ways of showing beauty is, to me, experimenting with ways to pray!

I kinda like it. What do you think?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Things Unseen

Bed of Flowers
If you flee from...pain and failure, then you run into them wherever you go. If you can find some way to open to them instead, then they may bring their hands from behind their backs and lay flowers on your bed.

--Barbara Brown Taylor
An Altar in the World

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Hundred Ways

A Hundred Ways to Kneel & Kiss the Ground #006
Today, like every other day, we wake up empty
and frightened. Don't open the door to the study
and begin reading. Take down a musical instrument.
Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don't go back to sleep.
You must ask for what you really want.
Don't go back to sleep.
People are going back and forth across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open.
Don't go back to sleep.

I would love to kiss you.
The price of kissing is your life.
Now my loving is running toward my life shouting,
What a bargain, let's buy it.

Daylight, full of small dancing particles
and the one great turning, our souls
are dancing with you, without feet, they dance.
Can you see them when I whisper in your ear?

All day and night, music,
a quiet, bright
reedsong. If it
fades, we fade.

Thursday, October 11, 2012


Abe, Holmes County, Ohio, 1980


I'm missing my grandfather tonight. I took this photograph when I stopped to see him on my way to the University of Pennsylvania to begin graduate school. I believe he was 90 and he died before I finished, at the age of 93.

Because he was Old Order Amish, he and the aunt who cared for him did not have a telephone, so they weren't sure when exactly I would arrive. My aunt told me "Dawdy" sat in a lawn chair under a tree in the front yard for three days waiting for me--and that's where he was sitting when I pulled into the driveway.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Photographer's Journal

The Color of Light                                           
I am part of a group of photographers who know each other only through Google+ and who participate in "Photography+ Project." The founder of the project, Christina Lawrie, picks a theme each month and each of us makes two photographs that interpret the theme. We then gather in online discussion groups called "hangouts" and critique each others' work. It is fun, educational and inspiring.

I took this photo for the September theme, Shadow. It is a view of the vineyard at Landry Vineyards out in west Ouachita parish. I was standing on the edge of the patio in front of the tasting room, and the sun was low in the sky, casting long shadows over most of the vineyard on the opposite hill.

I was struck by how different shades of green in the vines interacted differently with the indirect light of shadows and the direct light of the late afternoon sun coming through a break in the trees behind me. Clearly, the shadow light brings out the blues in the greens and the direct sunlight brings out the yellows in the greens.

I presented this photo to my hangout group in a much wider form, such that the entire image was dominated by shadows. They made several small technical suggestions, but the most important one came from Tamara Pruessner, who said I had included too much shadow. She urged me to crop the image almost square to emphasize the slash of direct light angling across the image. I did and it is much improved!


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Sacred Spaces

Emerald Water