Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Framing the Shot

“The frame through which I viewed the world changed too, over time. Greater than scene, I came to see, is situation. Greater than situation is implication. Greater than all of these is a single, entire human being, who will never be confined in any frame.”
― Eudora Welty, On Writing


“Art consists of limitation. The most beautiful part of every picture is the frame.”
― G.K. Chesterton

I am in rehearsal for the premier of a musical written and composed by two local women who have become dear friends. The title of the musical is “Girard’s Nude”, and it tells the story of an overweight, middle-aged housewife who is asked to pose for a renowned artist. It is set in the 1950s in a conservative small town in Pennsylvania. It brings up the opportunity to ponder the meaning of FRAMES in art and in life, how we see ourselves, how we see our world, and what part we allow freedom to play. 

Frames and structure are useful for lots of reasons. Containment can provide safety – a way to explore a place without feeling overwhelmed.

Framing is also a useful way to state your point of view as an artist. “This is what I want you to see and focus on!”

Mindfulness encourages the awareness of what is outside the arbitrary frames we impose on the world for our own comfort. 

Transcending the frame is perhaps the greatest artistic challenge. How do you go higher, deeper, beyond? 

Framework is worth pondering. Freedom is worth exploring. 

Thank you, Amy, for inviting us to engage with this Challenge

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Angles

Ann-Christine challenges us to illustrate the difference angles can make on our perception of the world. I am reminded of the ancient Indian story of the blind men and the elephant, retold in the poem by John Godfrey Saxe that begins like this: 

It was six men of Indostan 
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant 
(Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation 
Might satisfy his mind.

From my photo archives, I found an album of pictures taken five years ago next week on my “birthday cruise”. I had been working at Discovery World, a museum in Milwaukee that owns a replica of a 19th century cargo ship they named The Denis Sullivan. For my birthday, I was gifted a short trip out of the harbor and back to dock. There was absolutely no wind that day, so though we unfurled the sails, we didn’t go very far or very fast. In the calm, I found that taking photos from all different angles became the excitement of the day. 

 

My perspective on sailing Lake Michigan, therefore, was all about tranquility and discipline. The crew had everything “shipshape” and moved like clockwork. However, I’ve read accounts of shipwrecks on the lake that must have been the picture of chaos and terror.

Perspective makes a huge difference. In this complex world, we must remember the danger of a single story and humbly leave room in our imaginations for something outside of our own experience. 

So, oft in theologic wars 
The disputants, I ween,
Rail on in utter ignorance 
Of what each other mean,
And prate about an Elephant
Not one of them has seen!

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Something Old, New, Borrowed, and Blue

I remember my grandmother telling me that it is lucky for brides to have “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, and a silver sixpence in her shoe”. Patti has cleverly used this as her photo challenge for this week. Having just returned from a hiking event this morning, I’m too tuckered out to do a scavenger hike with my camera this afternoon. So, I’m putting my feet up and “visiting” my archives. I may even include an actual bride on this one! 

Something old…at my daughter Susan’s wedding, that would be her grandmother. No offense, just pride in that. And she’s wearing blue!

Something new…obviously, brides are new wives. Here are a couple: my daughter and my daughter-in-law.

Something borrowed…

I borrowed the mannequins at David’s Bridal for a close up. My daughter’s wedding party borrowed the dance from Rocky Horror Picture Show. My brother borrowed his bride’s bouquet.  

Something blue…decorations that my daughter-in-law made…

… and my son’s eyes.

And since silver sixpences are hard to come by, we’ll just go with some sparkly silver stuff that I’ve photographed around wedding time. 

 Now, if I could just get invited to bring my camera to two more wedding celebrations…(hint, hint).

 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Taking a Break

I just came home from a walk along the Ice Age National Scenic Trail to check on the photo challenge theme for this week. Our host, Tina, encourages us to slow down and focus on rest and relaxation. Taking a Break” for me is also “Restoring My Sanity” by being out in nature.

Nothing restores me to a grounded pace as well as hiking in a natural area where the presence of people is the exception to the rule.

Look around. Breathe. Listen. Feel. Birdsong and running water do wonders for the soul. 

An outdoor walk helps me take a break from sitting down at a computer screen…something I spend far too many hours at every day.  And if my feet start to swell and feel hot, dipping them in a cool stream is the perfect antidote. 

And if walking tires you out, you know what to do…

Taking a break is quite natural, of course. (If you can’t tell, that’s a bat sleeping in a tree).

Thanks, Tina, for reminding us to take it easy. It’s a long road, and it’s not a race. 

 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Seascapes and Lakeshores

Amy chose a topic for this week’s challenge that is sure to make a splash! She coaches us:

In Jim Hamel’s “Top 10 Features to Bring Your Seascape Photos to Life”, his list includes piers/docks, lighthouses, sunrise and sunset, rock formations, patterns in the water, animals, powerful waves, people, reflections, and clouds.

I am lucky to have lived near some of the greatest coastlines of the U.S.A. I was born in Massachusetts and lived for 15 years in California. However, for the bulk of my earthly years I have lived in the Midwest near Lake Michigan, one of the 5 Great Lakes that together hold 21% of the earth’s surface fresh water.  Here’s the western shore of that great lake. 

Lake Michigan

My father’s family built a beach cottage on the eastern shores of Lake Michigan, and so far, four generations have enjoyed its recreational opportunities and sunsets.

Just before I entered High School, my family moved to the Bay Area in California. I got to explore the West Coast while I lived there and as a visitor returning to see my family. The drama and diversity of the shores of the Pacific Ocean is something that I never fully captured in photography. I was more often just looking around, overwhelmed. 

I have to say that some of my best shoreline photos were taken along the smaller waterways of the Midwest. 

I like to remember that my first shoreline experiences were on the Marblehead Neck, jutting into the Atlantic. I moved away from Massachusetts when I was four years old and probably never took a picture. But I did get a chance to go back for a visit. My daughter snapped this shot in Plymouth.  

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Dreamy

Ann-Christine’s dreamy landscapes focus the challenge subject this week.

Is Dreamy a place somehow more perfect, more fantastic, more extremely beautiful, more blissfully hospitable? I often picture myself relaxing into beautiful places as I drift off to sleep. 

Is Dreamy a relationship that makes you feel comfortable, safe, and buoyant? Is it one super-special person (McDreamy)?

Is Dreamy a state of mind – free, floating, and peaceful?

In my life, all these things seem Dreamy…and yet, each one is illustrated here by a photograph I took of something right in front of me in the real world, while I was awake. Does that mean that I’m living my dream?

Must be. I am so incredibly lucky! 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Detail

Patti poses an interesting challenge this week: when the scope of a scene is visually overwhelming, choose to focus on a detail that hints at the grandeur of the whole.
For me, that sense of overwhelming wonder is always present when I am outside in Nature. I love the Earth. I work for a Conservation Foundation, and I am often dazzled by the beauty of the land while I am also stunned by the complexity of biological interactions and the enormity of the task of preserving ecosystems that are under constant threats of degradation. I believe that showing people the accessible beauty of the world around them can engender the kind of affection for Place that will motivate them to protect it, to safeguard it for the future.
Have you ever looked at a common plant up close? Or gazed into the intelligent eyes of an animal?  There are details all around you capable of blowing your mind with the immense and intricate magnificence of Life. I invite you to become a Lover of Life — a Biophile, if you will.