Following Wasps and Finding Hearts

I was sitting in my backyard an hour ago, clearing the clutter of the day from my mind, trying to feel human again–talking to God, listening for His voice, affirming His promise of peace.

As I was lost in thought, a wasp flew by and I absent-mindedly followed its path to a log I found interesting enough to photograph. As I poised to take the shot, the wasp changed its course and led me to this beautiful gift.

“Found Heart”

A found heart! The second one for the day!

My day started with a found heart my penfriend Christine posted on Instagram this morning.

Christine’s “Found Heart”

The hearts are reminders that no matter how utterly mired in the muck of life we find ourselves, love is the fundamental principle, the basis from which we should operate and the truth we must walk in. It is the thing we must cling to in the face of all the stuff tossed our way. It is what keeps us okay–sane and whole.

In the crazy rush of doing and getting it is easy to forget love, so I wish to remind you as I must remind myself from time to time:  You are indeed loved.  Be sure to take some time each day to bask in this knowledge and let it fill you to overflowing.

Hugs and hearts…

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…

Divine Rest…

Closed Bridge at Ditto Landing

Closed Bridge at Ditto Landing, Huntsville, Alabama, 2016.

The whole love of the “Law” has been lavished on and has cherished the Sabbath. As the day of rest, it gives life its balance and rhythm; it sustains the week. Rest is something entirely different from a mere recess, from a mere interruption of work, from not working. A recess is something essentially physical, part of the earthly everyday sphere. Rest, on the other hand, is essentially religious, part of the atmosphere of the divine; it leads us to the mystery, to the depth from which all commandments come, too. It is that which re-creates and reconciles, the recreation in which the soul, as it were, creates itself again and catches the breath of life–that in life which is sabbatical.”
― Leo Baeck, Judaism and Christianity

Animals in Monochrome

Can you believe January is o-v-e-r?! Didn’t the year just begin yesterday?

Now that the pesky start of the semester out of the way, maybe, I can make time for other important things, like blog posts, poetry, and photography.

It’s been months since I shared one of my monochrome swaps.  The latest–completed earlier this month–was ‘animals in monochrome” in the “A Thousand Words” group on swap-bot.  Grstamping, my partner, sent an envelope full of black and white goodies that someone quickly claimed for his collection of animal photos. Seriously. I was left with the note about the photos. I was “allowed” to scan them, at least.

Grstamping has been focusing on photographing animals lately, so she had a lot to share.  She sent a number of aquatic animals– [Click an image for a closer look]

And birds–

And cute rodents–

Squirrel

“Black Squirrel” by Grstamping

Chipmunk

“Chipmunk” by Grstamping

I’m torn between the chipmunk and the octopus tentacles as my favorite.  It’s hard not to love “cute,” but the tentacles are interesting.

I shared photos of our sweet-natured donkey and horse, Esau and Barnabas.  They’re always game for a photo opportunity.

Esau in Black and White

“Say Heehaw, Esau”

Barnabas in Black and White

“Smile Pretty for the Camera”

“Animals” was actually the seventh swap in the monochrome series hosted in our little group.  I’ll get around to posting “Trees in Monochrome” and “Clouds in Monochrome” eventually.

If you want to see the earlier monochrome posts, click the links below:

Happy Last Day of January!

Fun with Teddy Bears in Monochrome!

I decided I should start June off with a post, and hopefully, set the stage for regular posts this month.  I slacked last month.  I needed the downtime–time to do no more than what was required of me.  I even let my camera have a bit of rest. Even though a longer hiatus would be fine with me, the things I want to share with my blog audience are beginning to pile up pretty high!

So I’m back with another monochrome photos post.  This time, teddy bears!  Way back in February, I organized a “Teddy Bears and Dolls in Monochrome” swap, part of the series of monochrome swaps I’d put together for the “A Thousand Words” group on swap-bot. This was a super fun swap for me (and my son).  At first, my son and I organized the Beanie Baby War, “The Bears vs. The Others” to be exact.   Not a very creative title, we know.  We have just as many bear beanie babies as we have “others” combined, so we were a bit challenged to come up with a name for the “non-bears.” They made a motley bunch of fish, fowl, furries, creepy crawlies and other winged creatures.  We also worked on a Beanie Bears Family Portrait.  That didn’t go so well.  The bears kept getting into tiffs over who should be seated on the front row.

But it was when Mr. Cuddly A. Bear got his hand on my camera that we knew we had a winner.  I’ll wait and tell you about that one.  Let me introduce you to some new teddy bear friends.

Camille Bear by Castlequeen

Camille Bear by Castlequeen

Meet Camille Bear. Her owner, “Castlequeen” on swap-bot, has had her for 18 years.  A dear friend gave it to her as a birthday gift.  This (above), obviously, is not the monochrome shot. These are:

Camille Bear in Monochrome Pose 1 by Castlequeen

“Camille Bear” in Monochrome, Pose 1 by Castlequeen

I like the antique look of this photo and how the crop brings the teddy bear up close and personal. Camille looks perfectly at home in color or in sepia.

Camille Bear in Monochrome Pose 2 by Castlequeen

“Camille Bear” in Monochrome, Pose 2 by Castlequeen

Adorable, isn’t she? This one reminds me of the teddy bear and doll displays I often see in antique shops.

Cakers, my “send-to” partner and photog friend, shared her beary goodness with me just because she knows how much joy teddy bears carry!  She got a little frustrated with the “creation” process and in her frustration tossed her bears aside with the hat, and voila! Behold the cuteness!

“Who? Bear,” Photo by Cakers

Cakers found this cuddly bear in a closet, and doesn’t remember who gave her this bear.  So I named him “Who?”  🙂

And now, look at this sweet little knit bear named George.

“George,” Photo by Cakers

George is named after Cakers’ maternal grandfather whom she loved fiercely.  She purchased “George” from Gregory Patrick of Mad Man Knitting.  If you’re interested in knitting bears or in connecting with another soul, check out his site.

Unfortunately, I’m not brave enough to post “The Beanie War”–it was pretty gruesome.  But I am willing to share Mr. Cuddly A. Bear’s story. Cuddly A. got a little bored with his “beary” existence the afternoon we were working with the beanie babies’ photo shoot.  My son and I set up the camera and tripod, but were using the iPad and iPhone for test shots.  While we were distracted, Cuddly A. decided to take control of the camera.

Here’s his story in pictures.

“Cuddly A. Bear Gets a Time-out”

As you can see, he used the camera without permission and “got busted.” Notice the look on his face when he realized he was caught. We placed him in “time-out” for eight minutes to mull over his naughty actions.  He listened carefully as I explained to him why he shouldn’t touch the camera without permission and promised he wouldn’t do that again.

As you can see, Cuddly A. was a willing participant in our bear shenanigans.  Converting him to “monochrome” was a fun exercise. Adding texture was bonus fun. Cuddly A. (not his real name) was actually my son’s first bear. He’s had him since “before he was born.”

Oh–remember this lovely doll and bear I found in a Nashville shop window? I converted them to black and white and sent him to Cakers too.

Honky Tonk Bear and Boy in Black and White

“A Boy and His Honky Tonk Bear” in Black and White

For more monochrome goodness, see my January 20, January 21, and January 22 posts.

I haven’t organized a monochrome swap in a while, but I think it’s time. Let’s see what we come up with next!

Playing with Black and White (Part III): Buildings

For the last couple of days, I’ve been sharing monochrome photography exchanged through swaps I hosted in “A Thousand Words,” a group of swap-bot.  You can see the first two posts here and here.

The third swap in the series focused on buildings–inside or outside, part or whole. My partner, Cakers, captured most of the images below while vacationing in Cancun, Mexico for the Christmas holiday. She sent four striking notecards that I can’t wait to write on with my white ink.  [Click an image for a closer look]

I love the interior of the one building (lower right), and the play of light and dark in all the shots.

I sent my partner three notecards. I can only remember two of the shots I sent. I’m thinking about using the B&W “version” of the photo below for Liberate Your Art 2015. The other is a modification of a 2012 photo.

“Abandoned,” Madison County, Alabama, 2014

I found this beauty one afternoon while my hubby, son, and I were on the hunt for great photo opportunities. Here it is in color–

“Abandoned”

And here’s the modification of an earlier photo–

Chapel of Peace, Whippoorwill Academy and Village, Ferguson, North Carolina, 2012

Chapel of Peace, Whippoorwill Academy and Village, Ferguson, North Carolina, 2012

You can see the color version of this photo in a December 2013 post.

Here’s a bonus shot from Midteacher sent for another swap.  Can I consider a stairway part of a building?

“Stairway in Traverse City,” Photo by Midteacher aka DBW

She loved the stonework and couldn’t resist taking a photo.  I see why!

I’m looking forward to more B&W/monochrome photo swaps in our little photo group. I just set up “Teddy Bears and Dolls” and “Trees.”  I’m excited to get started!

If you’re into monochrome photography, you should check out Leanne Cole’s blog. She hosts a series called Monochrome Madness. I haven’t gathered the courage to share any of my images there. Soon, though. Maybe.

Until next time…

Playing with Black and White (Part II): A Touch of Color

Yesterday, I shared Part I of “Playing with Black and White” (Flowers).  Today, as promised, I bring you Part II.

The second swap in the “A Thousand Words” group’s B&W photography series, “Black and White with a Touch of Color,” invited photographers to stretch their skill just a little further by keeping just one color in the photo.

Mahlermail sent three photos that did not stay in my possession long; my little one requested them for his nature album moments after I opened the envelope.

“Leaf” by Mahlermail, October 2014

She captured the leaf in North Carolina while driving/riding the Blue Ridge Parkway.  It’s my favorite–an autumn leaf! 🙂

“Owl Eyes,” by Mahlermail

The owl picture was taken two years ago at a state park in the Houston, Texas area.  Its eyes are so striking, I can’t imagine them “losing” their color.

“Backyard Baby Love,” by Mahlermail

Mahlermail was fortunate enough to catch this one in her own backyard. She describes the photo as “totally cute”–a spring baby bird being fed by its mama.

I sent my partner four or five photos. Here’s one of them:

Melissa's Roses, Original Photo Taken August 2014

Melissa’s Roses, Original Photo Taken August 2014

I captured Melissa the Magnificent’s (the Program Coordinator in Academic Administration) beautiful red birthday roses on my iPad. They’ve gone through several different post-processes. I haven’t figured out which one I love the most, so I’m always looking for opportunities to use them in swaps. I’m a little proud of this shot since it shows a bit of improvement in my rose photography.

The quote is borrowed from the opening lines of John Keats’ poem, “Endymion.”

Here’s another of the shots I sent my partner–

My New Orleans, Original Photo, 2011

My New Orleans, Original Photo Taken July 2011

This photo is part of a “My New Orleans” collection of photos that I’ve been building for the last few years. I captured it while my sister, son, niece, and I strolled through the French Quarter one summer afternoon. I cheated a little by keeping more than one color, so I sent this one an extra.  Don’t you just l-o-v-e this dress?

I also played around with fish, flowers, leaves, stained glass, street art, and bird berries.

Some of these were a “miss”–they lost something they needed when most of the color was removed. But I enjoyed playing around with them.  The fun thing about keeping a little color in B&W photos is deciding which color helps the photo make a statement.

I’ll post the third part–“Buildings in Black and White“–tomorrow, or the next day.

Looking forward…

Playing with Black and White: Flowers

I’ve been experimenting on and off with black and white photography for a few years now, but I was recently “inspired” by Amy Saab’s blog post “The Roses Had Spots” to set up a series of swaps in the “A Thousand Words” group on swap-bot.

There are a number of photography groups on swap-bot. I belong to three or four. This group is different in that it requires photographers to be at least “intermediate” level and capable of crafting more sophisticated or thoughtful swaps using photos–beyond the simple “snap a shot and send it.” We’re a small group by swap-bot standards, but many of the members are serious hobbyists who may have taken a class or two or who have sold their photographic work at craft shows or in online shops. The idea is to challenge each other to grow and provide constructive feedback when necessary.

In her post, Amy Saab shared “flawed” roses in black and white. She “removed the color to show their beautiful structure.” I’ve done the same thing with “flawed” photos of flowers, buildings, people, and other subjects.

Even without “imperfections,” black and white photography reveals beauty in ways that we often miss because of all the color. Don’t get me wrong. I love the brilliance of color photography, but an image composed in black and white can be breathtaking.

So far, I’ve hosted three “black and white” (or monochrome) swaps–in October, November, and December 2014.  Instead of showcasing the photographs in one blog post, I will share the photos in three separate posts.

The first swap in the series was “Flowers in Black and White.” Swappers were to alter photos of flowers already in their collections and select what they consider the best two and send the B&W photos to their partners. They were encouraged, but not required, to send the color photos as well.

My partner, “Midteacher,” sent four sets. I’m sharing two because the other two are either buried under my desk clutter or are sitting in the collection of notecards I keep at work just in case I get the urge to write a note or letter during a break.

Flower in Purple by DBW

“Balloon Flower” by DBW aka Midteacher

Midteacher writes that she loves B&W photography because of the details the photos expose. “By taking away the color,” she writes, “the eye focuses on the textures and details of the shot.”

Flower in Black and White by DBW

“Balloon Flower in Black and White” by DBW aka Midteacher

She writes that she “loves the veins in this shot.”

Purple is my favorite color and I love seeing purple in nature, but I’m having a difficult time staying loyal to purple in this instance.

Midteacher also sent my favorite flower, a sunflower. She loves the industrious bee who was too “busy to notice me standing away with my camera.”

The Bee and the Sunflower by DBW

“The Bee and the Sunflower” by DBW aka Midteacher

The sunflower is stunning in black and white, especially with the added texture that doesn’t show up so well in the scan below.

The Bee and the Sunflower in Black and White by Dee

“The Bee and the Sunflower in Black and White” by DBW aka Midteacher

I sent my partner four sets of flowers in B&W. Two that appear in earlier posts–dogwood blossoms and daisies–and one that will be featured in a future post, so I’ll share only one of them here.

Untitled 2 2I shot this one in color some time during Fall 2013. The original color image also appears in an earlier post. It was one of the images I used to make a postcard for International Women’s Day 2014. The B&W photo was a bit “blah,” so I used sepia instead.

Here are two I intended to send when I began planning the swap, but I completely forgot about them when I put the swap together.  (Sorry Newfie!)

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I captured the water lily while on a Mother’s Day visit to the New Orleans Botanical Gardens. The lavender flower was my favorite shot of the day.  I like the photo in B&W, but I love the color one.  I found the bright orange and yellow flower while taking a walk one summer day.

Here are two bonus postcards Beckra (RR) sent.

“Wild Alium” by Beckra (RR)

“Blackberry Blossom,” by Beckra (RR).

She writes, “In early autumn Arkansas seems to undergo a second spring of sorts.  Flowers that had lapsed during the heat of summer re-emerge.”

Beckra and I were on the same photographic page when I put the swap together. She had just ordered these B&W postcards when she read the swap description, so she decided to share them with me.  I always appreciate her photographic interpretation of her world.

I’ll post the second part, “Black and White with a Touch of Color,” tomorrow.

Oh, my hubby has finally joined the blogosphere here on WordPress. While you anxiously wait for my next post, head over to his page and show him some blog love. 🙂  Find him here:  Viewfinder.

See ya later!