Category Archives: close-up photography

Break it up – the pattern, that is

Detail of forest floor, Madeline Island, Wisconsin.

 

I’ve been editing a whole lot of photographs lately, my ‘slow time’ at home giving me the opportunity to process pictures and reflect on the year’s work. Through this process, I always evaluate what works, what doesn’t, etc. As I came across this image that was used in my most recent book Expressive Nature Photography, I was again reminded of the power of pattern, and the need to break it, often.

I was drawn to the pattern of the pine cones, above, but it was really that little piece of lichen that grabbed my attention. I call this ‘lagniappe’ in photography. Lagniappe is technically defined as “a small gift given to a customer by a merchant at the time of a purchase; something given or obtained gratuitously or by way of good measure.the surprise gift. (according to Merriam-Webster).  I take creative license with this definition, as I consider that little piece of lichen a ‘gift given to an artist from the universe, or Mother Nature.’ I remember first learning about lagniappe from a good friend, Dewitt Jones, in a lecture he once gave to a photo conference. I had always looked for it, and captured it, but hadn’t a definition for it – until then. So thank you, Dewitt!

Why is that piece of lichen so important? Because the brain is stimulated by contrast.  Think about it; a pattern can be visually dizzying after a while, like a carousel you can’t get off of easily. It  becomes monotonous to the brain, after a while; but if you can find something, -anything – of contrast, it actually serves to enhance the pattern, as that element will create the contrast the eye/brain need. That’s not to say you can’t photograph just the pattern, and I often do – they make great jigsaw puzzles – or wrapping paper (!), but more often than not, for a picture that can hang comfortably on a wall, I’ll find something to break that pattern up to create greater impact.

Maybe it’s just one yellow flower in a meadow of blue lupine; or a sea urchin shell amongst pebbles on the beach; or an interesting window in a stone or brick wall. Whatever it is, you’ll find that often the inclusion of something ‘different’ in the pattern will enhance the picture.

There’s a metaphor, here, too. Just like that contrast in a picture stimulates the mind, a little bit of break-up in the patterns of your daily life can make it a lot more interesting, too. 

Thanks for being here!

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A rose by any other name

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I am a sucker for roses that smell yummy, and we have a few bushes in our garden that are heritage types, not hybridized so the fragrance is gone. This is one of them, and I always love going out and just breathing in the fragrance as deeply as I can. Thankfully, no allergies here!

On a morning when we’d had a steady, super-light mist falling overnight, the water beaded up beautifully! The overcast light was wonderful for capturing the details.

Not much to write than that! I’ll be posting from the road here and there over the next few weeks as I’m traveling to the southwest in search of Spring everywhere.

Enjoy!

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Light, Color and Design in Arizona Desert

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I know that it’s the ‘dead of winter’ in many parts of the USA, but in Arizona, spring is just around the corner! Spring begins in mid to late February and runs through April, with a succession of events involving everything from birds and baby wildlife to unusual plants in bloom, and in a good year, carpets of wildflowers. By early March, the desert is a-buzz with life. I’ll be there with MISA and an enthusiastic group of students to photograph the wonderful dramatic light, to seek out and photograph nature’s built-in design of textures, patterns and shapes, and more. Join us, and you’ll have opportunities to explore and create images that express the essence of the desert. We’ll be visiting many different locations that will provide wonderful opportunities to work on your techniques of wide-angle landscapes, macro, and telephoto views. Please check out the Madeline Island School of Arts (MISA) link below for more information and join us for a fun, intensive learning experience in the deserts of our own beautiful USA!

MISA PHOTO WORKSHOP – ARIZONA

 

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Thank you,

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Rockin’ Around in Zion

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Anyone who has traveled with me probably knows I LOVE rocks. I’m not sure why I didn’t choose geology as a major in college, but regardless of that, I have continued to be excited by rocks, rock formations, and how it all formed, wherever I go.

When our photo tour in Zion Nat’l Park was finished, a few were around on Sunday morning so we went off to explore a little more. We climbed up high on a rocky plateau to look at the landscape opportunities for afternoon light, but soon we all found photo opps that were at our feet – literally! There were patterns and swirling lines and tiny bonsai’d trees and these cool rounded rocks that you see here. Referred to as moqui marbles, they are concretions of various minerals, and they were stuck here and there in the sides of larger boulders, but hundreds of them had washed out over time – geological time – and scattered on the flatter surfaces we were standing on. With wind and rain, they’d roll around, and pile up in crevasses, or get stuck in a water-filled depression that then dried up. They were so neat to photograph, I was doing my happy dance that afternoon!

 

 

 

Thanks for visiting, and don’t forget to share this post with friends!

 

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