Category Archives: creative ideas

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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Rhapsody in Spring, Two Variations

What to do when the wind is blowing gusts and the flowers are dancing? Go with it!! The owl’s clover, poppies, goldfields, and grasses galore were being buffeted by winds in Antelope Valley on Monday, March 27th, so there was no hope of capturing and close-ups, and even the landscape with a strong foreground up close was not going to happen. When this occurs, you are required to throw out all the plan A’s, B’s, etc., you had and come up with a new idea. Continue reading »

Also posted in nature photography, photography, road trip, Spring, wildflowers

Modern Art

I’ve been teaching a workshop in Tucson this past week for Madeline Island School of Arts (MISA) and having a great time. I love how the students inspire me when I’m working to inspire them! Our last day today, we went for a walk-about in the Barrio Viejo, the old part of Tucson, which is buried by the surrounding sprawl of modernity. But here, the old west survives in the artful care of home owners, who paint their doors and trim different colors, put wonderful flowers outside that contrast with the wall colors, and in general add art to the neighborhood.

Yet despite the updated homes, there are a lot of places that are vacant, or in need of restoration, and our meeting spot had a wall of corrugated metal pieces that were in various stages of rusting mixed with new pieces. The patchwork was very interesting. After I got the group going and their creative juices began to flow, they wandered on their own, and I spotted this piece of metal that was dimpled and pitted. I like the way it caught the blue of sky in areas; that added a neat color design to it. From a simple piece of metal, comes art, and I love it when that happens!

Thanks for visiting,

 

 

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The Mezquita Mosque, Córdoba

Spain, Andalusia. Cordoba. Mosque.

In May 2015, I led a photography tour to Andalusia, along with pro photographer (and my partner) Jed Manwaring. We had a lovely group with us, an enthusiastic and flexible group, and we saw so many wonderful sites! One great place was the Mezquita, the mosque-cathedral, in Córdoba. I had seen so many pictures of it and was excited to get there. As we entered the mosque, I tried to be mindful of the ancient and religious place we were entering. I thought about all the historical figures of the day that had spent time in this place, and marveled at this long-standing gem of moorish architecture. So much was present in these walls.

I wanted my pictures to reflect that, and as a straight image, they show the structure and architectural details very well. But by applying a texture overlay from Flypaper Textures, I could create a more weathered, antiquated feeling to the image. I chose the Marguerite texture from the Distressed-painterly set, but there are others that would have also worked well. I haven’t had much time to ‘play’, er, experiment like this the past year, so it’s fun to sit with a photo and think about what I want the final image to be for a change!

The image below was also using their texture overlays. You can get a 15% discount off their products by clicking the affiliate link above. I really like the entire collection they have, I just have to make more time to try them all out!

Spain, Andalusia. Cordoba. Mosque.

click to see larger

Jed and I are leading this same photo tour to Andalusia in May 2017. For more information, visit my page here, and/or go to the Strabo Tour Collection Spain Tour page. I have a link to Spain images on Facebook, too.

 

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