photography

Tips for Street Photography

Street photography is a challenge, one more difficult than I anticipated.  It’s about acting in an instant to capture a moment that tells a story.  That means more than zooming in and snapping a photo from a distance as I have been so prone to do.

DSC01158 (1)This is a good example.  Though I did capture the moment, there is no story and the result is little more than an attractive couple taking a selfie.  

DSC00680As I explored Paris streets, Peter Turnley’s reminder that life gives us pictures kept ringing in my head.  More often than not the pictures involve people, and it is important that the photo be authentic, not posed.  

DSC00789If people notice you pointing a camera, especially one with a big lens, in their direction, they may shy away.  Asking permission, establishing a rapport before snapping away is a good idea.  That can be a bit tricky, so it requires some doing to become confident making the ask to a perfect stranger.  Once you are comfortable, however, the other  person relaxes and, in some cases, rather likes the idea of being your subject.  DSC00727Showing the result of your photo gets a very positive response, and don’t be surprised if you are asked to share it.  In that case, Turnley suggests that having a card with your name and email address is a handy way of dealing with the request.  That puts the ball for remembering to follow through in the other person’s court.

DSC01364Turnley emphasized having photos include a sense of place.  As I reviewed my pictures, I began to see what that meant.  Here, for example, it’s obvious the performer has drawn a crowd, but there is nothing that tells more.

DSC01371The second photo is more successful as the buildings and street lights hint at place.  I had to do a bit of body bending to get it all in which happens to be another challenge of street photography.  Standing erect and shooting straight on just doesn’t always work.

DSC01355Turnley suggests making pictures horizontal as more of the story can be presented in that format.  He strongly advises  framing the picture so that what you get requires minimal cropping.  Talk about a challenge!

DSC00605Whether to have your pictures in color or black and white is a personal choice.  The difference, according to Turnley,  is that color is rooted in present reality whereas black and white removes a bit of that.

DSC00780My takeaway from a week of attempting street photography is that it takes a lot of practice and a keen observant eye.  It also requires you to step outside your comfort zone and rely more on your own ability rather than on the camera’s capability.  Remember, the camera is only a tool.  What you do with it is what matters.

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photography

With Camera In Hand, Ready!

DSC01289Where to begin describing what was an intense and fun filled experience?  Thanks to an opportunity provided by Maine Media Workshop I traveled to Paris for a few days to focus on street photography with Peter Turnley.  Now, that name may not be familiar to you, but chances are you’ve seen his work on the cover of Newsweek where it has appeared 43 times or on a Sixty Minutes segment featuring him and his twin brother, also a photojournalist.  Peter is recognized as one of the world’s best, and he is also a renowned street photographer splitting time between Paris and New York when he is not traveling to one place or another.

DSC01284So, what does it mean to take a workshop with Peter?  Knowing his credentials, I thought learning from him might be a bit intimidating.  Not so.  Peter is not only interesting but interested in the people he teaches.  He is warm and approachable, qualities which show in his work.  Most importantly, he provides positive critiques that give clues how to improve.

DSC00412 (1)What I focused on this week was seeing.

DSC00388That meant walking with my head up paying attention to all that was around me.

DSC00355 (1)I had my camera ready to fire away in an instant so as not to miss the moment.

DSC00537I  attempted to find a story in what I saw through the camera’s lens.

DSC00402Most importantly, I tried to own the idea that I am a photographer which is a pretty tall order.

DSC00858With those thoughts in mind, I hit the street remembering that, in Peter’s words, a camera is only a tool.  What matters is what is done with it.  

I will share with you my results and the tips that may help us all become better photographers.  Stay tuned!

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind 

Maine

Changing Times

At one time Maine was a prosperous state thanks to lumber, textiles, boat building and fish packing.  Those days are gone as one business after another has disappeared. A dwindling economy means that many of the small towns that define Maine are having to reinvent themselves to give folks opportunity to make a living. Two midcoast towns that have done just that are Belfast and Rockland.

Belfast Belfast once relied on chicken and sardine packing to provide its economy.  Today, those businesses and the associated smells have been replaced with restaurants, galleries and retail shops.

For us, it is easy to go to Belfast on the boat which means a fun outing and a great way to entertain guests. Favorite stops are Chase’s Daily, a combination vegetarian restaurant and farmers market featuring flowers and produce brought in daily from the owner’s farm.

I stock up on those things, but my very favorite thing is the chocolate cherry cookies that are irresistible!

New on the scene since last year is a year round farmers market that sells everything from handmade goods to cheese to meats to produce.  One can spend a couple of hours there browsing and snacking on Saturdays from 9 until 2.

IMG_2045Rockland has undergone a complete metamorphosis in recent years.  When we started coming to Maine 26 years ago, we held our noses and quickly passed through.  These days Rockland prides itself for being the state’s art capital.

IMG_2044It is home to the Farnsworth, one of the country’s best small art museums. It has an extensive collection of Maine related art, but the real draw is the work of the Wyeth’s: Andrew, N. C. and Jamie.

IMG_2047An exciting addition to the  community is CMCA (Center for Maine Contemporary Art), formerly located in Rockport.  Early on, some were concerned about its architectural style not complementing buildings dating back to the 1800’s, but that worry has dissipated and CMCA adds a vibrancy to the flourishing art scene.

IMG_2043As many charms as Maine has, the sad truth is that it is a poor state.  So much of the economy depends on summer tourism, but aside from the coast there is not much to draw visitors.  With dwindling opportunity, it becomes increasingly important for small towns to respond to changing times.

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Flowers, Random

Hydrangea Love

Hydrangea_macrophylla_-_Hortensia_hydrangeaLike many of you, I’m crazy about hydrangeas, and here in Maine one variety or another blooms from spring until late fall.

IMG_1573 (1)The first to appear is the climbing variety.  It does tend to take over if  not groomed which makes my hubby crazy.  If I don’t keep a watchful eye, he will attack with a vengeance tearing them away from whatever they’ve attached themselves to.

A favorite is the lace cap which starts blooming in late June and is still lovely as it fades away in September.  These were almost lost as they were in the path of construction, but I dug them up hoping to save them until they could be relocated.  Now there is a bumper crop!

Summer abounds with blooms, and it is fascinating to observe all their colors.  Though I’m not sure of the variety from which these come, it could be Endless Summer though the colors on each of my bushes is quite different.

IMG_1999This full bodied bloom changes from white to lime as it matures. It reminds me of my great grandmother’s house where outside the window of her living room was a hydrangea with blooms as big as my head.  We called them snowballs and that is how I continue to think of this lovely.

IMG_2007Late August the hydrangea trees begin to show off cone shaped blooms that are first white and then turn to beautiful pink tones.    

IMG_2006When they have turned, it is a great time for gathering stems to dry for use in lovely arrangements.

IMG_2002How lucky am I to be surrounded by all this beauty right in my own yard!

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Tablescapes

A Time to Play

Creating a centerpiece is fun, a time to play and let creativity shine.  

tablescapeIt can begin with a kid’s toy

filled with flowersor a collection of sprinkler cans.

southwestern tableWhen the garden is blooming wildly,  gather a handful of blooms and arrange them in a collection of favorite bottles.  This is the simplest way to stage any tabletop.

tablescapeSculptural shapes are fun to use as part of a centerpiece and interesting textiles are great inspiration for color.

Halloween tablescapeSeasonal creations can be full of whimsey

white tablescapeas well as reflect the season’s bounty.

Valentine tableThere’s no time better than holidays for play.

Christmas decorPull out those favorite things and let them star on a table.birdhouse tableHave a collection?  Use pieces from it as part of a playful creation.

tablescapeEven a serious table can be play as it involves bringing beautiful glass and china and silver out of hiding.

IMG_1975What is wonderful about creating a centerpiece is that it can be used again and again as inspiration for tables.  Simple changes can create an entirely different look, so play and see where it leads!

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

Joining

Tablescape Thursday

History, Maine

Island Stories

Vinalhaven is another of Maine’s islands with a year round population and an interesting history. At one time it was known for quarries where granite was cut for use in buildings in New York, Boston and Washington, D.C. among other places.

DSC00085Today the quarries are abandoned though there remains evidence of their existence.

DSC00138Quarry men are of the past and now most of the residents depend on lobstering for a living and, to a lesser degree, tourism.

DSC00080 (1)Well known folks have lived on the island.  Until his recent passing, Robert Indiana maintained a studio on Vinalhaven and it was a favorite place for  Margaret Wise Brown. If the name isn’t familiar, her children’s books likely are. Particularly notable is Goodnight Moon still popular all over the world.

DSC00150She had two cottages on Vinalhaven, one she named The Only because it was the only one on that side of the island.

DSC00077Close to it she built another small quirky cottage with no electricity or running water and it became a favorite retreat.

DSC00067Inside are reminders of her presence. In the kitchen are cookbooks from another era.

DSC00068In the  simply furnished main room are nooks close to the fireplace where she would warm an evening brandy.

DSC00070There are shelves lined with children’s books, of course including some of hers.

DSC00118Margaret loved fairies and on the property is a flat area she called the fairy ballroom and a water filled quarry which is the fairy pool.

DSC00096How she must have loved the views from atop a defunct quarry.  They are some of the most stunning views of Penobscot Bay I have ever seen.

DSC00073The islands in the distance, bisected by the ferry that runs from Rockland, are breathtaking making it very easy to see why Margaret Wise Brown was enchanted with the island.

DSC00153It is here she rests. She died when only 42 suffering an embolism after a relatively minor surgery. One day she will be joined here by the man to whom she was engaged and to whom she left this beautiful place.  I believe she would be happy to know that three generations continue to enjoy her special place and share it with friends.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

Food

What to do With a Puffball

IMG_1830Overnight it seemed, this big blob sprung up in the yard.  Curious, I pulled it up, took it inside for a photo that was posted on Facebook with the question what is it.  Immediately came back a number of responses, mostly from Maine friends, identifying it as an edible puffball.

IMG_1833Edible?  I was a little doubtful but decided to give it a try.  First, I sliced it to find it  a little on the spongey side and solid all the way through.  So began a series of dishes ranging from omelets to risotto to pizza and adding chopped, diced orsliced pieces of puffball.  What was discovered was that a puffball is fairly tasteless until it is seasoned and has a very different texture from other mushrooms with which I am familiar.

IMG_1838Of all the ways it was prepared our favorite was mushroom soup.  I had no recipe  so I chopped a section of the puffball and sautéed it in butter with  some onion and garlic.  Chicken stock was added along with salt, pepper and herbs d’Provence.  The mixture simmered for about 10 minutes and then using a handheld blender(my favorite kitchen tool), I pureed it.  It tasted good, but thinking how it could be improved I added half and half and returned the soup to the stove and heated it through.  Talk about good, the hubby and I both had seconds.  Served with a green salad and some crusty bread, puffball mushroom soup is a simple and yummy dinner.

If you ever see one of these growing in your yard, pluck it right up.  If it’s white all the way through, don’t be afraid to use it, but if it’s yellowish and has a mushy texture, throw it in the trash.

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