Friday, January 22, 2010

Friday's Photolife--Backlit

When I was learning to take pictures, I learned to keep the light behind me or at least coming from the side. That would make my pictures better.
That's true for a lot of pictures (especially of people). This one shows the point although there is a bit of light coming from the side and with photoshop I could easily fix it. But it's best on these types of shots to get the light on the faces. However, there are situations that cry out for a backlit shot.
One taken from the darkness into the light.
Ones that illuminate streetlights
or highlight forms.
Ones that throw the attention at the sky and the silhouettes against it.
Ones that rejoice in the shadows and shapes
Ones that expose life beginning

or life frozen in a world of snowy lace.

Try taking some shots with the light in front of you. You might be surprised at what you get and what statements those pictures make.

Application to writing? Don't always show things in one light. Let the illumination come from all directions.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Wednesday's Wonders--Seeds

For the last couple months we've been having fun with science fair. My youngest decided to compare how plants grow in sand, soil, water, and water with paper towel.
She used red kidney beans.
After only 5 days she had this happening. Check out those roots. She was amazed at the growth. So was I (and I've done this before and seen it before. It blows my mind every time.)
The results showed that the soil worked best.
The one in the sand did pretty well too. Here she is documenting her results.
The power contained in a little seed amazes me. It always seems miraculous. It is a wonder.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Friday's Photolife--Getting Close

One of the things I've noticed about people taking pictures is that they are often scared to get close.
It's a big mistake, especially when taking shots of people.
90% of the time close-ups are much better. Extreme close-ups can be fun, too.
You should try them, if you haven't. In this age of digital photography, it's easy to experiment.
Try animal close-ups, too.
Even if you have to use a zoom. Don't be scared. You'll be surprised at how much better your pictures are just by getting a little closer.
It works with everything. I love nature close-ups, too.
They usually say more than distance shots.
So who cares if your child says, "Mom, what the heck are you doing?" Do it anyway. You'll get some great pictures. Mine are so used to it that they don't ask any more.

Application to writing? Focus in on even the little details, things you wouldn't normally notice, unless you were very close up.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Wednesday's Wonders--Watercolors

Washes of blue and red run together. 20 shades of green layered darker and darker. A coral and yellow streaked sky. There's just something about watercolors that appeals to me.

A few years ago a friend and I took a watercolor class, and I've dabbled in it ever since.

Of course, you knew I'd have to include a Lotus Blossom. I thought this one was especially lovely.

Shades of purple and orange.

Sometime I'll have to show you some of my own, but for now they are just for me and my family. How about the rest of you? Do you paint?

Friday, January 8, 2010

Friday's Photolife--Unusual Subjects

When taking pictures, I love to focus in on different things. Things that others often overlook or would be embarrassed taking pictures of. I have been know to embarrass my family by hunching over some obscure nothing with camera in hand or laying down on the ground to get the angle I want.

I didn't have to embarrass anyone for this, but my husband thought it was weird that I was taking pictures of the windshield. Still. I love this picture.

The flowers aren't the only interesting thing about trees.
Why not take pictures of someone's feet? I got some strange looks for taking these, but I loved the red shoes, the gold shoes, the American flags on the anklets, the texture of the floor. There was some serious clogging action going on at the Floyd Country Store in Floyd, VA. This picture almost captures it for me. It's anonymous yet still has personality. Just like the mass of people dancing. I may have to go back and try again. I didn't get it exactly as I wanted, but you get the idea, right?
How about a pile of leaves and grass? This is one I'd probably use as a background for other fall pictures.
Don't forget things that seem stupid to take pictures of. The question I got for this? "Why are you taking pictures of the toilets?" "Hello! Because they're cool! And different. And what if I ever have to describe them in a story?"

At the arena while my daughter was riding her horse, the way the water puddles reflected and gave contour to the mud caught my eye. Why not take a picture? It may be strange to some, but I really like this shot. For whatever reason, it speaks to me.

Application to writing? Don't forget the little things when you're capturing a scene. Talk about the rain splattering on the windshield, the gray bark peeling off the crepe myrtle branches, the bright red shoes on the textured floor, the dull brown leaves with green grass peeking through, the oval toilettes with the shiny oval doors and the striped oval vents, the luminescent puddles against the shadowy mud. Inspiration can come from strange places. Sometimes.

Update from Wednesday's blog: Scott GF Bailey recommended listening to Maria Kliegel playing Bach on cello, and so I did. I was so impressed with her that I downloaded a CD of her playing Bach Suites and was just sitting here listening and blogging. Suddenly one of them moved me so much that I started crying. Oh my gosh I'm crying. It's so beautiful. That's what a well played cello can do to me. Thanks, Scott!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Wednesday's Wonders--the cello

All of you who have been following this blog for a while know that I love my music. It moves me like few things can. I particularly love the sound of the cello. There's something about the resonant vibrations in the lower register that thrill me. I wish I could play it, but now I have the next best thing. One of my daughters plays it, and I get to hear her practice.

The classic lines, the beauty of the wood, the bow, the photogenic nature of it,

not to mention the incredible sounds that it produces.

Here's Rostropovich playing the prelude from Bach's Cello Suite No. 1. You'll recognize it. Beautiful. Amazing. Moving.

Here's Julian Lloyd Webber playing Bach's Air on the G String. Another one you'll recognize. You should see my chill bumps.

Of course, you can't do anything cello without including Yoyo Mah. Here he is playing Paganini's Caprice 24. Insane! Ahh!

How about the rest of you? Any particular instrument that moves you?

Monday, January 4, 2010

Monday's Montage: Kindle

I've been slow to change my reading habits over the years. I love holding a book in my hands. Feeling the texture of the paper. Smelling the slight inky odor. Hearing the rustle of the pages as I turn them. Seeing the page numbers, the different fonts, the pictures. Feeling the front of the book get thicker as I get closer to the end. Picturing where the words were on the page the first time I read them. Flipping through and reading certain passages over and over again.

I have been so reluctant to have any of that change, but, with my bookshelves overflowing and my constant need for more reading materials, I thought I'd try an e-reader. I researched them out and in the end decided on the Kindle and asked my sweet, generous, accommodating hubby for one for Christmas.

I miss the things that I always loved about reading with a book in my hand, but there are upsides with the Kindle that are making it a great way to read.

1. I never seem to lose my place. I don't have to hunt down book marks (that I'm always losing) or worry about dropping the book and losing my spot. (worrying about dropping the Kindle is a whole nother kettle of fish.)

2. I can order the classic books for free. Those are some of the ones I love best.

3. Whenever I finish a book, I always have another (or 10) waiting in the wings.

4. I can download just about anything in about 30 seconds. (It may be longer, but it seems really fast.)

5. When the Kindle goes into sleep mode, there are nice pictures of authors, etc. that come onto the screen.

6. It's ink on a light gray background, so it's easy on the eyes.

7. No matter how heavy the tome is that I'm reading, the Kindle never gets any heavier.

I'm still learning to work it--like skipping to certain passages, but for just reading books it's pretty nice. It won't completely replace actual books, but I'm really enjoying it.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Kicking 2010 into Action!

Here's to a new year of wonder! Here's to a new year of success! Here's to a new year of ACTION!

My word for last year was hope. I was full of it, and it played a large part in how I approached my writing, and it helped tremendously. Now it's time for a bigger push. It's time to put all my plans in motion. Sooooo...

My word for this year is Action.

It fits in with all the different areas of my goals: for writing, for querying, for exercising, for completing tasks at home, and for fulfilling my commitments. This will be a year of action.

After a year of hoping, it's time for a year ACTION. Let's get going. Move. Move. Move.