Thursday, February 28, 2008

Life in Soft and Sharp Focus

I've known both misery and happiness, lived in so many different skins it is impossible for one skin to claim me. And I have felt like a wayfarer on an alien planet at times — walking, running, wondering about what brought me to this particular place, and why. But once I was here the dreams started moving in, and I went about devouring them as they devoured me.
Gordon Parks

I've been going about life trying to be very positive, but hit a wall last week as the shoulder issue became even worse, the pain ratcheted and my abilities to do things due to frozen joint reached a critical point. As a result I agreed to take medication till the surgery next month. The doctor told me that I had put it off about 6 months too long. Oops. So I've been in a bit of a tail spin because I'm limited in doing photography, yoga etc. But I'm coming around and did some photography with a tripod today since I'm having trouble holding my camera steady.

What can I say, finding any way to connect with photography is my touchstone right now. This time is also focusing my dream to become more accomplished as a fine arts photographer. I think of how Frida Kahlo delved into and discovered her art while she was recovering from her accident which left her bed bound and unable to do much. My being restricted is helping me discovery my style of photography and I'm finding I prefer a soft focus. So many of the articles that I read criticize soft focus and push for tack sharp focus. Well I find life is rarely in tack sharp focus, more often it is in soft focus and since my photography reflects the soul of what I see there you are. I have nothing against tack sharp focus and occasionally will use it to help make strong statements, but again soft/vintage/alternative practice (ironically through digital means) is where I seem to be right now.

Speaking of soft focus, in the March/April issue of American Photo there is a feature on actors who also shoot photography. Julie Delpy who I've come to admire has several Polaroids featured and talks about them, including the fact she about "girlish themes" and many of her favorite photographers are female. If you haven't seen it, her movie, "2 Days in Paris" is fantastic and the main female character is a photographer. If you have Netflix you can view it instantly.

Scenes from "2 Days in Paris":

Monday, February 25, 2008

Light's On

i still got a purpose to serve

It's been a tough day. I feel dry and wrung out. A bit of the dark night of the soul where life is concerned. I know this will soon pass and the light will come back on.

Santana, "Put Your Lights On":

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Vulnerable Love

Real love hurts, real love makes you totally open and vulnerable. Real love will take you far behind yourself,and therefore real love will devastate you. If love doesn't shatter you, you will not know love

I woke up early before dawn this morning with the moon shining through the blinds, I had awoken from a dream about a past love and there were tears on my cheeks. As I lie there watching the progress of the moon for some reason it called to me to capture it's passage. I set my camera on a tripod and laid back down with the shutter release in hand and thought about love, it's path and vulnerability. Will I find it again? We'll see.

Cat Power, "Where Is My Love":

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Stop, Look, ....

Simply look with perceptive eyes at the world about you, and trust to your own reactions and convictions. Ask yourself: "Does this subject move me to feel, think and dream? Can I visualize a print - my own personal statement of what I feel and want to convey - from the subject before me?
Ansel Adams

Last night I went with friends to hear on talk at a local downtown gallery on "Vision and Creativity". He had many good things to say and like many older photographers in this area is a disciple of Ansel Adams and had even met him. Much of his work was landscape and he offered many insights, so it was a worthwhile few hours. I spoke to him a few minutes before I left as he was also a psychotherapist and he felt that it was important to listen to what your heart is telling you and to follow the art you fall in love with. In addition, he felt it was never to late to change.

We also found a great "mom and pop" Thai restaurant for supper before the talk. Unbelievably my friends had never tried true Thai cuisine. I ordered some of the more well-known dishes and they fell in love so here are the recipes for them on how to prepare the 2 dishes they liked best:

Tom Kai Gai Soup (adapted from Shiok Chef Notes)

Makes 2-3 bowls of soup Preparation time: 15-20 minutes
Good quality Chinese chicken stock
1 cup Coconut milk
1 cup Fresh or frozen lemongrass
1/2 a stalk Galangal - fresh - 6 slices (If you don't have any at home, you can order some online) Kaffir Lime Leaves
2 (hand-torn) Thai bird's eye chillies (or Serrano chillies) - 2-3 (big slices so you can avoid them easily)
(If you don't have any of the above, Amazon ships a package of all the fresh ingredients you need for the soup.)
Fish sauce - 1 tbsp (The saltiness can vary a lot across brands, so start with less always.)
Lime juice - 2 tbsp Sugar
1/2 tsp Coriander (cilantro for the Americans) leaves
8 oz Boneless chicken breast (chopped)
Straw mushrooms (or regular button mushrooms) - 4 (sliced)

For the lemongrass, use only the bottom white part (about 6 inches) and discard the woody grass part of it. With the flat side of a cleaver or a heavy object, pound and bruise the lemongrass so it releases the flavour. Cut into 2 inch segments. (Watch yourself with the cleaver, please. We only want to bruise the lemongrass, not your fingers.) Put the stock into a pot and bring to a boil. Toss the galangal, lemongrass, sugar, and lime leaves in. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add the coconut milk, chillies, fish sauce and simmer for another 5 minutes. Finally, add the chicken and mushrooms and cook till the chicken is just cooked. The moment you see it turning all white on the outside, it's 90% done. Turn off the heat, add lime juice and garnish with coriander leaves. Test for saltiness and sourness. You should get the earthy flavour of galangal, noticeable amount of saltiness, sweetness from the coconut milk, and a fair bit of lime flavour, with a hint of chilli in the background. If required, adjust with more fish sauce (salt) and lemon juice (sour). (Why do I add the lime juice at the end instead of adding it with everything else, you ask? Because the flavour of the lime gets mellowed when it's cooked. You need it fresh and bursting on your tongue.)

Green Papaya Salad

1 cup green cabbage, shredded
2 cups green papaya, grated
1-3 dried red chilies, chopped, depending on heat desired
1 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp lime juice
3 small tomatoes, cut into wedges
5 tbsp peanuts, roasted and crushed
4 tbsp cilantro leaves, chopped

On a large serving platter, arrange in layers the cabbage and papaya In a small bowl, mix together the garlic, chiles, sugar, soy sauce and lime juice. Just before serving, pour the dressing over the salad and garnish with the tomatoes, peanuts and cilantro.

Yield: 4 servings

The Stylistics, "Stop, Look, Listen":

Thursday, February 21, 2008


S'wonderful, s'marvelous
George Gershwin

My Diana arrived today. What's a Diana you wonder? Only the most fun film camera you can play with. I love my Holga and my digital cameras, but sometimes only another girl can understand your dreamy photography needs. Go try one out, you may be singing, s'wonderful, s'marvelous too.

Diana Krall, "S'Wonderful":

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


You can’t make a great musician or a great photographer if the magic isn’t there.
Eve Arnold

When I first started studying photography, I thought the area had little beauty or magic to offer me. I'm now eating my words and finding there is beauty anywhere. You just have to pay attention and it will over itself.

Just not enough time for my photography. I'm finding myself more and more not wanting to be in my counseling profession and wanting to do photography. I'm gaining a quiet confidence things will change. I indicated a couple of weeks ago I was reading "The Secret". It really didn't say anything I hadn't heard of before, it just reminded me of what I need to do, i.e. put it out what I want and trust it will come. I was buying frames and mats this weekend and was talking to the sales person about doing photography. A woman behind me asked for my card as she is looking for someone to take family portraits. I began to say oh no I'm not ready etc....But then I stopped and gave her my phone numbers. I don't know if she will call, but again the universe nudged me back with it's magic and now I'm believing it's telling me to use it...

ELO, "Strange Magic":

Monday, February 18, 2008


Happiness is a wine of the rarest vintage, and seems insipid to a vulgar taste.
Logan Pearsall Smith

What a perfect holiday. Sappy old movies, achieving some new photography techniques, spending time with friends and warm sunshine. A great recipe for happiness. Hope your day was as good.

Sheryl Crow, "Begin the Beguine":

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Song of Life

Does not the very word 'creative' mean to build, to initiate, to give out, to act - rather than to be acted upon, to be subjective? Living photography is positive in its approach, it sings a song of life - not death.
Berenice Abbott

Today I'm spending time today with various aspects of photography. On days like today when I'm involved as much in being as doing I reflect on my relationship to the art of writing with light. First of all is awe, that of all of the arts that could have chosen me, photography did. When people find out I'm pursuing photography they inevitably want to know why. I can provide logical reasons, but again, like choosing a lover, there is a passion that occurs between us; a song of life that is created and danced with. And for anyone who has found that dance with an art, a person, a cause....they are the ones who will understand what I mean, no explanations necessary.

Alanis Morissitte, "Let's Do It (Let's Fall in Love)":

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Gone, Gone, Gone

Polaroid is dropping the technology it pioneered long before digital photography rendered instant film obsolete to all but a few nostalgia buffs.

I've often been late to the party and getting the news about Polaroid is no exception. While I don't do a ton of Polaroid shooting, I keep it for moments when I'm trying to achieve a certain look. I'm realizing that much of my style is a softer, old school type as I shoot more and more. And Polaroid certainly qualified on that score. It appears Fuji will still be in the game of instant camera film, but it won't be the same. Shooting Polaroid with my Bronica medium format still allowed me that whiff of film shooting (I have my film developed and then scan it when I shoot it) that I miss by being in the dark room. I'm sure many blogs have been and will be draped in black on this one.

Alison Krauss and Robert Plant, "Gone, Gone, Gone (Done Moved On)":

Friday, February 15, 2008

Coffee, the Moment of Contemplation

Art is contemplation.
Auguste Rodin

A friend and I arranged to met at Border's this afternoon. As I sat waiting, I read/people watched and these two caught my eye. They seemed to be lost in a contemplation of the world. The sun came through the windows and the afternoon just seemed to become a cozy island of stillness and comfort instead of the frantic energy everyone else in the store seemed to possess. I stopped reading the Camera Arts magazine I had, grabbed my camera, and created my own moment of artistic contemplation.

Edmundo Ros; "The Coffee Song":

Thursday, February 14, 2008


San Carlos Borromeo is believed by many to be the most beautiful of all California missions

California missions for better or worse are part of California history. I've visited a few and have found the one we visited in Carmel to be beautiful. Since I made the decision to postpone my trip to Arizona until after surgery and healing are completed, I'm working on the shots I took there. During the time we shot on Sunday there were services and the choir provided beautiful music. It really seemed to help bring inspiration in the process of carrying out the shoot.

Luciano Pavarotti and Sting; "Panis Angelicus":

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

See The 'Hood With New Eyes

The world is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.
Bertrand Russel

One of the new assignments I'm working on is to see the familiar territory of your neighborhood with fresh eyes and then take photos of it. Just a short walk away from the condo where I live is a bike path that leads to a grassy tree filled public park. I often take Bella there. Today was a 72 degree day with a beautiful sunset. The park was full of giggling children, other dog owners and just the usual people out gathering every moment of sunshine they could from the last of day. While there were many things I could have shot, it was these light poles of the tennis court that caught my eye and seemed to have a majesty one wouldn't have expected from such utilitarian objects.

To paraphrase a quote from a recent commercial, "What's in your neighborhood?"

Just because I'm a Baroque girl at heart and the music seems to fit the spirit of today;
Bach, "Brandenburg Concertos No. 5 -i:5"

Monday, February 11, 2008

Textile, Textural, Tactile

textile,textural, tactile: something composed of closely interwoven elements; specif: a woven cloth b: the structure formed by the threads of a fabric 2a: essential part: Substance b: identifying quality: Character 3a: the disposition or manner of union of particles of a body or substance b: the visual or tactile surface characteristics and appearance of something

I picked up my copy of the Jan/Feb issue of Selvedge , one of my favorite magazines, today. It features an eerily beautiful piece of tactile design by Ma Ke on the cover with more photos inside. I'm tempted to pick up a second issue just to pull it apart and put the photos on my inspiration board. While I am not a textile artist (yet), I love the photographs in Selvedge and am inspired every time I pick it up. As noted the 3 Ts as I call them are apparent in every issue. When I go to flea markets (though rarely can I find in American markets, what you can find in European markets). I look for scrapes of linens, silks, soft aged cottons, anything that has a silky soft or nubby feel. One of these days I'm going to figure out a way to collage and then photograph them. "Unwrapped" by Carolyn Quartermaine is one of my most used books in my art/photography library. Whenever my creative world is feeling gray or flat I will turn to this and find inspiration. And then I venture forth in search of a photograph to capture the spirit of the 3 Ts...

Something a bit more unusual, a glimpse of Ma Ke's world via Paris:

Sunday, February 10, 2008


I didn't want to tell the tree or weed what it was. I wanted it to tell me something and through me express its meaning in nature.
Wynn Bollock

Another thing that I am amazed by in California are it's citrus trees. Apple trees, I grew up with and enjoy, but seeing an orange and grapefruit tree stills gives me the tingles. What is amazing is how much of that citrus rots on the ground after they become ripe in November/December. I always want to go pick them up and send them to family/friends given the cost of citrus in the Midwest and East Coast. Guess that comes from receiving so many citrus gift packages over the holidays when I was growing up....But the trees are also good teachers. You've heard the saying,' if life gives gives you lemons you make lemonade'. Well I'm thinking of a new adage, 'when you take the fruit from an orange tree, you get sweet or tart'. And it's what you do with that experience that makes all the difference.

I found out that I have to have surgery on my shoulder. It will leave me healing for a few weeks to a couple of months. It's sweet in that I know why I've had problems with the shoulder the last year and it can be fixed, i.e. not a degenerative condition which seems to run in my siblings. It's tart in that I have do some major rearranging of life and there's a good chance I may not get to Vietnam in the time frame I was looking at. My trip to Arizona may also get postponed. I'll know more tomorrow. But I'm going to take a positive outlook and push forward...Who knows maybe I'll get a photo essay out of it.

Orange Juice, "Rip It Up":

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Winter into Spring

Winter passes and one remembers one's perseverance.
Yoko Ono, Season of Glass

For most people spring is still a yearning. After almost 5 years in Northern California I still have a hard time getting used to the emergence of flowers, the scent of moist green grass and the feel of soft warm breezes this early in the year. The last couple of months have been a slow period where creativity is concerned, but now, as the flowers that are pushing through the warmed soil, so ideas are coming into the sun. I'm photographing, working harder at school lessons and taking trips again. It felt like I was far from my goals, but I persevered and once again am blooming.

Speaking of blooming, take a look at and support "The New Orleans Kid Camera Project", they're helping kids recover from Hurricane Katrina in a number of ways. The photography is incredible.

Transatlantic Sessions "SWAN LK 243" - Catriona MacKay:

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Are you, Did you, Will you

Those who stay away from the election think that one vote will do no good: 'Tis but one step more to think one vote will do no harm'.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Are you one of the people who live in one of the 24 states who had primaries today? Did you vote? Will you be part of making change in November?

Get ready George, we're going to rock you and your ilk out of Washington....

Queen, "We Will Rock You":

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Point and....

I never question what to do, it tells me what to do. The photographs make themselves with my help.
Ruth Bernhard

Some how people will often get the sense that making art is a serious enterprise. Not always. My friends and I went to Carmel to photograph the Mission there early today. As we drove back we had interesting weather as it had been raining off and on all day. The cloud formations were wonderful and one of us bemoaned that our cameras were in the back of the van. I was acting as navigator for the trip, so I was able to tell them I had my Panasonic semi-point and shoot(it takes RAW and has an EVF) in my purse and decided as a joke I would take some pictures out of the passenger window while we were tootling along at 70 miles per hour. The joke was on me. In one shot as we went over a bridge I quickly framed the shot and here's what I ended up with....Sometimes the photo and its story just presents itself.

Joan Osborne, "Please Don't Tell Me How The Story Ends":

Friday, February 1, 2008


i'm looking through you, you don't look different, but you have changed
the beatles

Combine an assignment to create a surreal photo with having some x-rays done, throw in a dash of perspective about how life is changing and you get tonight's blog.

The Beatles, "I'm Looking Through You":

Beginning Yet Again

  "Never feel guilty for starting again." -Rupi Kaur These days being a flaneuse has been more mental than physical. I moved to Ar...