Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Magical

Ann-Christine finds Magic in her garden and invites us to share the magic in our lives.

This is something I have to ponder. I tend not to believe in magic. I am in awe and wonder of the natural and suspicious of what others call “supernatural”. However, the dictionary gives me a second definition that I certainly can embrace: 

“beautiful or delightful in such a way as to seem removed from everyday life”

So here’s a gallery of some of the most beautiful and delightful moments of my life. Enjoy!

 

 

Lens-Artist Photo Challenge: Silhouette

Patti challenges us with silhouettes this week. “They are a marvelous technique to add to your photographic repertoire because they can add drama, mystery, emotion, and atmosphere to your photos.  They can also tell a story to your viewers.”

Here are my silhouette stories:

I took this photo of my husband on the beach at my grandmother’s cottage on Lake Michigan with the Cannon AE1 film camera he gave me for Christmas when I was 17. The location is a place rich with three generations of memories. The subject is familiar and much beloved to me, but sadly also a memory. Jim died in 2008 at the age of 47. The sunset lighting adds a layer of romantic yearning that completes the picture. 

This silhouette is my youngest daughter on stage at the Lyric Opera House in Chicago. We were attending an opera comedy cabaret performance where the audience was seated at cafe tables onstage facing a smaller stage set up downstage. Emily has been in many musical comedy performances and studied play-writing in college. The theatrical setting and her curly hair are the perfect components of her personal silhouette.

Finally, here is a gallery of landscape silhouettes. The story here is that I love to be outside with my camera discovering how the light of the sky is a background for all that happens in the world. And the world is a wonderful place!

 

Lens-Artists Challenge: Precious Pets

Tina is up for some fun in this week’s challenge as she invites us to look at Precious Pets. She especially mentioned a pet ox. So…

Meet Ted and Bear, a team of oxen that I considered co-workers when I was at Old World Wisconsin. They were very good at following voice commands given by Dirk, the farmer. They hauled wagons and did all the heavy lifting around the 19th Century living history museum. They weren’t really “pets”, I guess, but the photo Tina shared wasn’t really an ox, either. I think it was a domestic water buffalo. (I stand corrected. Tina assures me it is a domestic ox.)

Now, I must confess that I don’t have any pets at the moment. The only animals I have ever lived with were cats, fish, and my daughter’s mice.  But I love animals and consider them sentient beings worthy of the greatest respect. I am an enthralled observer of the wild creatures that live around the nature preserve where I rent a house. There are a pair of Sandhill Cranes that visit from March through November. 

I am delighted by their elegance and their devotion. Each year, I mark their nesting and parenting habits. The first year, they fledged twins. Subsequent years were not so rewarding. One year, they had a colt that was hit by a car. This season, one of the adults disappeared for a while. Now there are two again. A new romance, perhaps. Cranes are a symbol of fidelity because they mate for life and always look out for each other. When one is foraging for food with its head down, the other is not far away, and on the lookout. 

I am and have been a proud grandmother of quite a few “fur babies”, however. What I am most proud of, I think, is seeing how my children love and nurture and foster pets, truly doing their best to care for them and have meaningful relationships with them. My kids have taught me quite a lot about dogs, and I have learned to relate very well to them, overcoming a sort of phobia I developed as a young child who was overcome on the beach by an excited Irish Setter. Here’s a gallery of my “grandkids”:

For myself, I have a sweet little companion I call Jimmy Bear. He shares my bed and eats nothing. A pretty nice arrangement, I must say. 

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: 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!