4-4-4: Four Weeks, Four Topics, Four Notes

Building a snail mail relationship through (random) swapping isn’t always easy.  Quite frequently, I receive from or send to a person knowing we won’t hear from each other again until years later when one of us is randomly selected as the other’s partner again. In some cases, never.

A couple of years ago I hosted a four-week, four notes photography swap to deal with this problem.  The swap, called 4-4-4, invited participants to select four topics from a list of 12 and send one photo representing each of the four chosen topics to their partners every week for four weeks. The photo was just one part of the swap.  Swappers also had to make the photo part of a letter, notecard, or postcard in which they explained or provided details about the photo, technique, inspiration, or the story behind the photo.

This was one of the best swaps for me. I really got to know my partners. I learned about their photography styles, their families, their careers, their personal philosophies, and more.

I decided to host the swap again.  This time my partner was Diane of A Focused Journey, Midteacher on swap-bot.  Diane and I communicate regularly through swaps and “random acts of mail,” but I learned a lot more about her life and her creative work.

Diane’s chosen topics were beauty, color, alone, and fragrant.  Take a look:

Week 1: Beauty

Outside of “Beauty” Card by Diane, Midteacher on swap-bot

“Beauty” by Diane, Midteacher on swap-bot

The “beauty” photo features a weeping pine that sits outside Diane’s kitchen window. She fell in love with its unusual form when she saw it in a friend’s garden.  She, then, took on additional work at a local nursery to purchase the tree.

She especially loves how the raindrops form on the tips of the needles, so the theme “beauty” is appropriate for the photo.

Diane sent oversize postcards for weeks two and three.

Week 2: Color

“Color” by Diane, Midteacher on swap-bot

The scan doesn’t capture the colors in this postcard very well.  The postcard features a photo of “clouds in color” that Diane duplicated in the background she created for the photo. She captured the photo one afternoon when the sun was “sending rays of beautiful colors as the clouds were moving across the sky.”  She wrote that she must have taken 30+ shots trying to capture the light and color.

Though I’m sure this was not Diane’s intention, I like how the quote underscores the selection of this photo–it’s not perfect in the eyes of the shooter, but it is a wonderful image.

Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful.

Week 3: Alone

“Alone” by Diane, Midteacher on swap-bot

The theme isn’t obvious on this one.  The yellow tulips hold a dear place in Diane’s heart.  She had a pretty difficult autumn one year.  The school that she loved and where she taught was closed due to budget cuts, and she was sent to a school that was challenging or “hellish,” as she describes it.  Then her son, a marine, was deployed to Afghanistan.  While out shopping and downcast, she found yellow tulip bulbs on clearance.  It was past planting time, but she bought all three bags and planted them.  The following spring, the tulips bloomed beautifully bringing her joy.  Eventually, her son returned home safe and sound.

She writes in sum:

I felt alone that fall, but every spring these tulips remind me otherwise!

Week 4: Fragrant

I  was almost sad when I saw the week four envelope.  It meant our weekly exchange had come to an end, but when I opened the envelope, I smiled from ear to ear. Sunflowers! Such a beautiful and appropriate ending to our swap.

These brightly colored flowers–miniature carnations and sunflowers–posed brilliantly on the island in Diane’s kitchen. The fragrance filled the air and greeted her each morning and as she passed throughout the day.

Diane can’t know how much I appreciate her for sending three different versions of the photo–the original and two edits.  They now have homes on my inspiration wall at home and at work!

As I mentioned many times before, I admire the way Diane works her photos into mixed media art.  Although we have very different approaches to photographic art, she and I share a mutual appreciation for each other’s work and we learn a lot from each other.  We often share tips and ideas, and because of my curiosity about how she crafts her photos, she recently recommended a book on photographic journaling techniques.  It’s on my list for the summer.

Look forward to my “trial and error” mixed media posts in the next few weeks.

Until then…

Have a happy mail day!

Purple Reign: Loving the Purple Journal

I have often wondered what happens to the photographs I send into the world. Diane (aka Midteacher), one of my photog pals in the A Thousand Words group on swap-bot, takes the guess work out of it for the photos I send to her.  She often lets me know that she has included or plans to include my photos in her various art or mixed media journals.  When I sent her this year’s “love post,” she shared that it was going to be added to her Purple Journal. Yes, her purple journal!

Alistair posing with the purple journal page featuring my 2017 “love post.” Photo by Diane (Midteacher)

Take a look at detail!

Close-up of the “love post” in Diane’s Purple Journal–Photo by Diane (Midteacher)

View the full post here: Playing in the Purple Journal.

I’m delighted that Diane found a beautiful use for the photo, but I’m sharing her post because she shares how she transformed the simple photo into a beautiful journal page. [She’s even running a contest for naming her purple journal.  Help her name her journal and you could be the winner of a purple 8×10 mixed media piece].

I’ve always been intrigued and inspired by Diane’s work. My seeing how she crafted this page gives me the creative courage to give mixed media work a try.

You can see more of Diane’s work on her blog, A Focused Journey: Finding a Focus on the Other Side of Fifty, or you can check out some of my earlier posts which feature her photos:

I’ll be sharing more of Diane’s work within the next week or two.  Until then, enjoy the reign of purple!

 

Discovering Spring in a Pretty Purple Pansy

Although we’ve had consistently warmer temperatures for the last week or so, spring has not actually sprung here in Northern Alabama.  I’ve been waiting a bit impatiently for the blossoms to fully appear, but it seems the temperamental winter we’ve had has made our early spring less brilliant than usual.

We’re not the only ones experiencing a delayed spring.

I received a postcard today from my photog pal, Diane, Midteacher on swap-bot, for an A Thousand Words group swap, “Early Spring Photo Postcard.”  She writes that it is still “clearly winter in Michigan.  The freezing cold and bitter wind hasn’t let up.”  As a result, she had to find a little spring at a local nursery’s “Spring Expo.”

Purple Pansy by Diane W.(Midteacher on swap-bot)

Of course, I’m pretty pleased with this gorgeous purple pansy. Not only is the pansy beautiful but the presentation is stunning, so I’m grateful Diane was forced to find spring in another way [Sorry, Diane].  She writes that the pansy was popular among the attendees and she “enjoyed watching everyone’s faces light up when they saw” the pansy. I wish she’d seen my face light up when I retrieved her postcard after work today!

How appropriate that Diane accented the flower with the word “discover.” I’ve been looking for strong evidence of spring (beyond temperature) for a week now!

Now, I have to figure out which inspiration wall needs this purple pansy most–the one at home or the one at work???

Has spring sprung yet in your region?

Love Inspired: Loyal Birds and “Fowl” Words

For a recent “Love Inspired” swap for the “A Thousand Words” group on swap-bot Gale D., my partner, went birds and feathers on me.  The goal of the swap was to pair a love quote with an appropriate photo.

Gale settled on a quote from  A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh:

Some people care too much.  I think it’s called love.

Gale does a lot of bird photography, so she sent me two of her favorite photos.

The first, a pair of Mute Swans:

“Mute Swans” by Gale D., grstamping on swap-bot

According to Gale’s note, the Mute Swans “stay together forever. It saves time and energy, and they produce more cygnets this way.  They make a great team.”

I found some interesting tidbits about Mute Swans on Cornell University’s All About Birds Site.  Here are some of my favorites:

  • Mute Swans are not native to North America
  • The swans pretty much mate for life, but will find another mate if a partner dies
  • Their reputation for monogamy along with their white plumage has helped establish them as a symbol of love in many cultures
  • The Mute Swan is the “star” of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Ugly Duckling
  • The swans are pretty aggressive (so give them lots of space)
  • The oldest known Mute Swan is 26 years, 9 months old

Gale also sent a pair of Canada Geese and their goslings.

“Canada Geese,” by Gale D., grstamping on swap-bot

Gale wrote that she loves Canada Geese, but although they adapt around humans well, she hasn’t had much opportunities to get close to the geese.  Ironically, she lives in Canada.  This particular photo was shot in a cemetery pond.

There are a LOT of Canada Geese on the university campus where I work.  She’d have no problem getting up close and personal with them. During early fall, they pretty much rule the campus, even stopping traffic at times.  That can be annoying, but it is a pretty glorious sight to see them take flight in formation.

During the second year of their lives Canada Geese find a mate, and like Mute Swans, they are monogamous and mate for life.

It truly is inspiring to find such “faithfulness” and “loyalty” in the animal kingdom.  We often think so little of them, but we have so much to learn from them.

Abandoned…

While traveling around Northern Alabama, I encounter many abandoned buildings–homes, businesses, barns.  Some of the buildings obviously lack love and care, and passersby watch them slowly fall to pieces. It seems time stands still for some other buildings since there are no visible signs of neglect (other than overgrown grass and bushes).

I often wonder why these buildings are empty and alone and what stories they have to tell.  This intrigue led me to create an “Abandoned” swap in the “A Thousand Words” group on swap-bot.  It was for this swap that Midteacher sent the package I received yesterday.

She sent several photos of two abandoned buildings.

"Abandoned Building" by DBW aka Midteacher

“Abandoned Building” by DBW aka Midteacher. Edited in Pixlr with canvas overlay.

This is a building Midteacher passed on her way home [from work].  She loved how it was falling apart.  In her note she wrote that “the roof caved in from last winter’s heavy snow and then, sadly, it was torn down this summer.”

Here’s another slightly different view:

Abandoned Building

“Abandoned Building” by DBW aka Midteacher. Edited in Pixlr.

Here’s an old barn found on her friend’s property:

"Old Barn" by DBW aka Midteacher. Edited in Pixlr.

“Old Barn” by DBW aka Midteacher. Edited in Pixlr.

And here’s a view of the silo:

"Silo" by DBW aka Midteacher. Edited in Pixlr.

“Silo” by DBW aka Midteacher. Edited in Pixlr.

I sent SilverD, my “send to” partner, a notecard featuring an older photo and a building we pass three times a week, but finally stopped to photograph a month or two ago.

"Abandoned on a Corner"

“Abandoned on a Corner”

SilverD thinks the building was an old store or saloon. It also looks like a home with many additions. I’m not sure.

Here’s the altered photo in black and white:

"Abandoned on a Corner"

“Abandoned on a Corner”

Its neighbor is also abandoned.

"Abandoned's Neighbor"

“Abandoned’s Neighbor”

Though perhaps not as abandoned.

I have a whole collection of “abandoned buildings” buried on my computer. Perhaps, when life slows down a little, I’ll take the time to pull a few and share them.  Maybe, by then, I will know some of the stories. 😉

Until next time…

 

Autumn Has Flowers Too!

At the mention of spring, we imagine an explosion of blossoms in many, many colors. At the mention of autumn, we think of the changing of trees.  But autumn has flowers too, and that was the point of the photo postcard swap in which my penfriend Beckra and I participated.

On a walk in the woods, Beckra captured Ladies’ Tresses which is a kind of orchid.  She writes that it is “great that when autumn brings some relief from Arkansas heat, it also brings flowers. We call it a second spring.”

Ladies' Tresses, photo by Rebecca R. (aka Beckra)

“Second Spring.” Ladies’ Tresses, photo by Rebecca R. (aka Beckra)

She points out that in this photo the blooms have not fully unfurled.

When I was at the Nashville Zoo last month, there were flowers everywhere.  In addition to some “still flowering” rose bushes and hydrangeas, there were mums everywhere (I think they’re mums).

"Mums the Word"

“Mums the Word”

And there’s always, always something blooming on our beautiful campus. This caught my eye while I was having a very rare moment to chit-chat with my friend, Meli.

Campus Bloom, iPhone Photo

Campus Bloom, iPhone Photo

I was grateful to see some pink dancing with the oranges, yellows, and reds of autumn, but I decided on “typical” autumn colors for the swap.  I played around with a couple of photos in the iColorama app and ended it up with way too many versions, so my hubby and son helped me select some of the edits. From their selection, I sent three or four to Beckra. [Click an image for a closer look]

 

“Behind the Glass” was inspired by an autumn photo Beckra sent to me.  “Van Gogh” is my favorite of the set, probably because he’s my favorite Impressionist.  “Nautilus” and “Ray” tie for second.

The advantage of a late fall here in Northern Alabama is that everything is still so beautiful and brilliant, but I have a feeling that is going to change with the blink of an eye, so I’m pretty sure this is going to be my last autumn post for the year. Until next year, I’ll just enjoy this year’s photos. 😉

Photo Inspirations!

A few years ago, I began a series of  photo swaps that required pairing a photo with an appropriate quote and making the quote part of the photo. My partner for the recent round, in October, was Diane, Midteacher on swap-bot. We swap quite regularly, so if you have been following Pics and Post for a while, you may have seen her work many times before.

Midteacher sent three quote photos.  She used the first photo, captured on a morning walk, to make a card:

"Morning" by Diane, swap-bot: Midteacher

“Morning,” photo by Diane (swap-bot: Midteacher)

When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive–to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.

Oops. Forgive her typo on the word “precious.”  She’s still working on getting the crop right with her photos. Digital photography is pretty tricky when it comes to printing on standard 4×6 paper.  I created templates in Pages (for Mac) and Photoshop Essentials to avoid losing critical parts of photos or having them cut off at the edge.

I’m intrigued by Diane’s card-making techniques.  She typically uses card stock, torn paper, fabric, metal, paint, metallic paints, and other embellishments.  As soon as I have time, I’m going to work with some of the tips she shared with me to make my own unique photo cards.

Diane shot this photo at an apple orchard:

"Apple Picking," photo by DBW (swap-bot: Midteacher)

“Apple Picking,” photo by Diane (swap-bot: Midteacher)

Health is the greatest gift, contentment the greatest wealth, faithfulness the best relationship.  –Buddha

And this one on another foggy morning:

"Foggy Morning," photo by Diane (swap-bot: Midteacher)

“Foggy Morning,” photo by Diane (swap-bot: Midteacher)

Believe you can and you’re halfway there.  –Theodore Roosevelt

I’m pretty sure integrating quotations is my favorite thing to do with photos. I sent Diane at least three photo inspirations; I’ll share them in posts later this month, so keep your eyes open.

If you need more inspirational photos, head to  P.H. Fitzgerald’s 365 Polaroid Quotes on Flickr. You’ll especially love his album if you like vintage Polaroid shots.  His work makes me want to find the Polaroid camera I know is buried in a box somewhere and put it to work.

Until tomorrow…

Found! More Monochrome Photos

While I was looking through computer files yesterday, I stumbled upon photos from two monochrome swaps I was supposed to blog about way back in 2015! Yep. Last year’s “should-have-blogged” list is even longer than this year’s, but I have no plans to “catch-up” on those posts.

The photos below are from two swaps for the “A Thousand Words” group on Swap-bot: Clouds in Monochrome and Trees in Monochrome.  My partner for both swaps was Tynkerbelle aka Zoey Rayne aka Peppie Selders of Captured Adventures.  Since so much time has gone by, I don’t remember much (read: anything) about the photos, so I’ll just share them and hopefully you can figure out what I don’t remember.

This is my favorite photo of the bunch:

"The Horizon" by Zoey Rayne

“The Horizon” by Tynkerbelle aka Zoey Rayne aka Peppie

Zoey took a creative approach to the next photo–man-made clouds from a “factory.”  While growing up in Algiers–Westbank New Orleans–we could see the emissions from the factories in Chalmette, Louisiana which was across the Mississippi River.  As a really little kid, I always imagined that’s what clouds were made from.

"Man-made 'Clouds'" by Zoey Rayne

“Man-made ‘Clouds'” by Zoey Rayne aka Peppie

Now that I know better, I’m a bit suspicious about what those emissions did to our environment and our health. More than once, those companies had to fork over dollars to the residents because of mishaps that released dangerous toxins into the air.  Where’s Erin Brockovich when you need her?

And now, we turn from factories to trees.  Here’s an original tree photo:

“Zoey’s Tree,” Original, Photo by Tynkerbelle aka Zoey Rayne aka Peppie

And here’s the monochrome edit.

Tree in Monochrome by Zoey

“Zoey’s Tree in Red,” Photo by Tynkerbelle aka Zoey Rayne aka Peppie

I wish I knew more about these photos. Perhaps, there’s a note or letter somewhere that gives more details, but there’s no way I’m tackling the giant 2015 box of mail.  Not tonight.  Not anytime soon.  For now, let’s just enjoy the pretty.

(Monochrome) Photo Play: Water, Light, and Fairies

I’m baaaaack with another monochrome photos post.  I can hardly believe the last monochrome post, “Animals in Monochrome,” was in January. I didn’t realize how much time had gone by.

I attempted a “Water in Monochrome” swap earlier in the year, but there were no takers, so I was pleased as punch when my penfriend Beckra joined the “A Thousand Words” group on swap-bot and joined the swap when I “re-created” it in September.  She had been experimenting with shooting water in black and white, so the swap was perfect for her.

Beckra shared two photos which exhibit her photographic interactions with water and light.  Both photos were shot at her happy place, the creek at Woolly Hollow State Park.

“Writing on the Water,” Creek at Woolly Hollow State Park, by Rebecca R. (swap-bot: Beckra)

This first photo was captured “close, close, close-up” while wading and crouching in the creek. Beckra writes that it “seems like the light is writing on the water in a kind of cursive.”  Interestingly, it also looks like a fire dance.

For the second photo, she had been trying to capture the “starlike glints” on the water and was pleased to find this photo did not disappoint.

“Starry Creek,” Creek at Woolly Hollow State Park, by Rebecca R. (swap-bot: Beckra)

Although the next photo was not part of the swap, it is a “water in black and white” photo and it completes a perfect trilogy of abstract water photos.

“May Moontrail” by Rebecca R. (swap-bot: Beckra)

Beckra sent this one at the beginning of summer break, a moon trail on the lake. She followed the bright moon to the water and was able to capture this reflection, a beautiful “luxury of the summer.”

The guys and I found different places to experience nature and we were overjoyed to find some hangouts near or on water.  Being a Westbank NOLA (New Orleans, Louisiana) girl, I feel a little lost sometimes not having the Mississippi River down the street from me.

I sent four photos, two from summer and two older photos because I am sort of proud of the monochrome renderings.

Wheeler Lake in Black and White

Wheeler Lake in Black and White, iPhone Photo, 2016

This photo is from Wheeler Lake, which is located between Rogersville and Huntsville in Northern Alabama. The lake was formed by a dam along the Tennessee River. Although part of a popular tourist spot, we were among very, very few people in the area we explored.

Here’s another favorite shot from Wheeler Lake park:

Wheeler Lake Park, Huntsville, Alabama, 2016

“Where Fairies Play,” Wheeler Lake Park, Huntsville, Alabama, 2016

Although flawed, this one was fun to work with because I had to remove a HUGE orange garbage can from the shot.  For some reason, it reminds me of a place where fairies play.  I think I read one too many medieval romances last month.

Ditto Landing marina, described as “Huntsville, Alabama’s gateway to the Tennessee River,” is my new favorite spot.  We thoroughly enjoyed exploring the area and are looking forward to returning soon. You can learn the history of Ditto Landing and see gorgeous pics on the website.

The “Closed Bridge” photo featured in Friday’s post was from Ditto Landing. Here’s the original photo.

Closed Bridge, Ditto Landing, Original

Closed Bridge, Ditto Landing, Original

And a favorite edit:

Closed Bridge, Ditto Landing, Huntsville, Alabama, edited in Snapseed

Closed Bridge, Ditto Landing, Huntsville, Alabama, edited in Snapseed

Here’s another one of my favorite photos from Ditto Landing–a nice balance between air, trees, water, and land.  There’s so much more to explore I can’t wait to go back.

“Balance and Order,” Ditto Landing, Huntsville, Alabama, 2016

As mentioned, I also sent two older photos: a sepia photo of from “The Fly” at Audubon Park, featured earlier this year in one of the nature photo challenge blog posts, and a photo of waves crashing against the rocks (was it mountains?) in Maui.  Although I “heart” the original photo, I couldn’t resist the purple.

The Purple Wave, Maui

That’s it for now.  Until next time…I’ll be riding the purple wave…

Autumn’s Appeal: Photo Postcards

I’m not sure where autumn is hanging out, but it certainly hasn’t made its way to Northern Alabama.  I’m finally seeing a little color in the leaves, but I’m still seeing way too much green for November.

Back in September, I’d had high hopes for the usually brilliant autumn, so I set up a postcard swap to celebrate the season.  By the time the swap deadline loomed, autumn was still pretty scarce in this part of the USA, so to uphold my end of the swap, I had to send my partner an older photo.

I shot this photo late last autumn.  I don’t even remember the circumstances, but as I was scrolling through photos, I was drawn to the burgundy leaves.  I also like how this photo looks “right” no matter which way I turn it.  🙂

Autumn's Sympathy

Autumn’s Appeal

Fortunately, I can always count on my swap-bot friends to deliver.  My penfriend Beckra, shared her “experiment” with photographing through a rainy window with gratitude for autumn colors on rainy grey days.

Rainy Autumn Day by Beckra

“Rainy-Day Autumn” by Beckra

This photo is so gorgeously abstract!  This shot actually inspired an edit of one of my own photos for another autumn swap (I’ll share that in a few days).

As I was decluttering my desk two days ago, I found a photo Beckra captured last autumn.

“Luminous Autumn”

Doesn’t this one look like a painting?  I appreciate how Beckra captured the multicolored awesomeness of autumn in both photos.

I was finally able to get a bit of this year’s autumn about a week ago when we visited the Nashville Zoo to celebrate the birthday of one of my little one’s friends.  I found these beautiful leaves as we were exiting the zoo.

Tri-Color Autumn

Finally Autumn!

The zoo was decked out with pumpkins, mums, and other fall decor, but none could compete with the artistry of Nature being herself.

Until next time…