The forest is always calling in Pennsylvania. It is beautiful here. But winter can be long and continuing to feel inspired can sometimes be hard. We still partake in the snow and go out in the gray but when spring comes, it’s exciting to get the camera out and capture all of the new life, bold color and light that’s directed from God.
On the way home from a very recent geocaching and camping trip we stopped for a hike at a new place, I felt so connected to the moment. I was hoping to shoot GREEN THINGS, for a monthly color challenge. Yes, there was green, lots and lots of green. But I was able to capture so much more. Not just in my camera, but also deep inside myself.
I was really awe-struck by how authentically present I was for that walk and inspired. Nothing outside of the moment on my mind, truly connected to my spirit. It was an AWESOME feeling.
I ended up with a series of green images from the trail. And I felt compelled to create my first topography print. I didn’t want to jump on the band wagon last year with it and even when I heard my inner voice saying, “The Forest is Calling,” I resisted for 10 days. But I couldn’t help it. And I really like it. Perhaps a new series will begin from it, a series of prints of when I remember my spirit.
How do you connect to your spirit? Maybe it’s the ocean, maybe it’s riding a motorcycle or painting a picture. Maybe you connect while being in prayer. If you haven’t felt that connection in a long time, maybe so long you have forgotten what it felt like (as I had), I encourage you to try some new things and feel it. We were created to feel it.
I’m happy to introduce our guest photographer today, Laurel Correll, with Forever Frames Photography. She has been inspired by the famous, Annie Leibovitz, portrait photographer to the star’s and Jessica Drossin, creative art photographer; both very accomplished and creative female photographer’s. Laurel herself is a talented photographer, as well as a mother, a new volunteer to Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, and the name I like to write the most today, my friend. She started her portrait and wedding business 8 years ago and in the past 2 years started a new creative body of private work that really intrigued me. Today, she is going to share some of her process on creative photography with us. And of course she will share some TIPS at the end and there will be a mini challenge for you on my FB page.
“My personal Photography Journey,” Laurel’s creative body of work:
Why are these shoots your favorite? “I love taking pictures of all types but these creative sessions are my all time favorites. I control the whole thing from start to finish. That includes props, clothing, hair, makeup, lighting, and editing.”
What inspired you to start shooting this work? ” I wanted to push myself further in the creative process. I think it’s important to constantly try to do new things or go out of the box, otherwise your work begins to look exactly the same and become boring.”
What is your process for doing a shoot? “The very first thing I do when I schedule a session is I pray. I, on my own cannot come up with an inspiring image. So I pray. I have an inspiration notebook. I take lots of notes and sketches while praying. ”
What about models and hair and makeup? “A lot of the time the models come to me. At first I was asking close friends to let me dress them up. Now I am thankful for the little
following I have and people tend to come to me. I do have a lot of repeat models which I love. I mostly do everything from hair and makeup to wardrobe. There have been a few times I have enlisted the help of others who know more about costume makeup.”
What about the shooting process, do you go in with the end in mind or have something you know you want as the finished image? “I always have a certain shot in mind that I want to get, but I allow room for the spur of the moment shots. Generally with each session I have an “Aha” moment and decide that one will be it. But I always continue shooting just in case.”
How much of a part is the editing in your process? ” I generally have an overall “feel” I am aiming at with each session. The editing is HUGE for these types of sessions. One image can
take up to 6 plus hours. ”
How has this work spread into your work for clients? This has made me realize how important it is to style all of my sessions. Before when I made appointments with clients I would just do whatever they liked. Now I give suggestions before hand even with wardrobe.
What’s your biggest tip for one of these shoots? “The biggest thing when it comes to these pictures is what type of emotion are you trying to achieve? If its a happy slumber party use lots of
natural lighting. If you are trying to get the emotion of peaceful slumber, then use indoor lighting with a more intimate feel.”
LENS: I love my 18-75mm tamron lens
LIGHTING: I always prefer natural lighting, but my sessions end up about 50/50 with both natural and manipulated.
MINI Photo CHALLENGE for YOU: Find a photograph you have taken where you achieved the emotion you wanted to see and share it on our FB page, OR EVEN BETTER, get your think of a photo you would like to create and do it, share it on the thread. If you want critiques or tips, just ask, otherwise just get in on the fun and share.
If you love nature, landscape and/or wildlife photography, then this guest photographer feature will catch your eye.
I met Bernadette Chiaramonte-Brown, this past December when we were participating in The Crary Art Gallery’s, first PA Wilds Invitational Show. I was amazed by the rich textures and colors in her photography and started to follow her on her Facebook page, Edge of The Woods Photography, where almost daily she has something new and beautiful to share. I am in awe of her wildlife photography, I would love to watch her shoot some day. But for now, she will share some tips at the end.
And YOUR challenge for National Photography Month will also be at the end.
Bernadette’s photography life in her own words:
“Waking up in the morning with excitement for the day….how many can relate?
That sun that has been hiding all night is now just calling my name! All of life seems to feel the same way at sunrise! Birds, flowers, insects, bees, frogs, dragonflies….are all waking up also!
As I jump into my car all equipped with my camera gear, I proceed to take on the early morning world!
Quietly and slowly I start hiking through the woods, towards the streams, search the trees…the skies….all in search of the best surprises of the day!
Being retired I am so excited to share the beauty and excitement around us. I know people are usually so busy and just making a life!
Working as a Critical Care Nurse on the night shift for many years has given me an appreciation for doing what you love, NOW, before a life changing event turns your world upside down!
Anyway, I have a tendency to perhaps see beauty that others overlook! I see every photo as a blank canvas. Composure is the most important component for me personally. Every photo must tell a complete story in a very short glimpse! With the digital age, everyone has the opportunity to document what they feel is important without worrying about the cost!
I personally have a tendency to shoot many photos at different exposures not only to get it right but a good scene is like a great dessert! You just don’t want to stop enjoying it! When I finally return to my art studio, I delete, delete, delete…only leaving the best!
The ability to lift someone’s spirit or evoke a favorable emotion from my photos is my goal and the reason I use photography as my medium! It is an immediate gratification! I also oil paint but find it difficult to sit for hours/days to complete my canvas. Being a self-taught photographer has afforded me a blank slate to experiment, break the rules and learn in the field.
I also would like you to see the photo that “started it all”! People told me they loved this photo and the rest is history as they say!”
“I spotted the Amish Loggers working and drove by about 3 times before I got the courage to ask to take this photo. They were very accommodating as long as I didn’t get them in the photo! It has won many contests and has even been made into a puzzle. Right place…right time!!! ”
What is on your photography bucket list? “My bucket list includes Alaska, Yosemite Park and Glacier Park. I would love to visit and photograph all the National Parks because of their extensive history and the wildlife they have.”
BEST TIP: “start early out in the morning. Be quiet and patient. Carry the least amount of equipment….”
NOW YOUR CHALLENGE: Find your favorite nature or wildlife photography piece that YOU have taken OR a nature or wildlife photograph that you would like some pointers on and share it on the facebook thread
Today please welcome our first guest photographer, Jeane Pifer. Jeane is a personal friend, she is gentle and sweet but a bit of a rebel because where you will find her most comfortable with her camera is up close to live bands shooting concert photography or at the track getting up close and personal creating racing photographs. As I write this, I realize I forgot to ask if she carries ear plugs in her gear bag. Today, she shares some of her work and tips at the end for shooting any type of stage situations.
Why Concert Photography and why is it appealing to you? I chose to pursue concert photography because of the excitement and the feeling you get when you nail an amazing shot. It’s the best feeling I’ve ever had as a photographer. Everything is constantly moving. It’s a challenge compared to portrait shoots where you have more time to pose your subjects. It’s great to look back on my first shows compared to where I am now.
How have you grown as a concert photographer? When I started I was only using the action setting on my simple DSLR. Now, I feel confident in being able to successfully set up my camera to manual settings to handle any lighting situation.
What are the biggest challenges in shooting concert photography? Arriving at any show, you never know the lighting situation. Luckily, I have found with post editing I can make the best out of every image.
What type of venues do you enjoy shooting in the most? In the sense of lighting, I always prefer the large concerts. However, smaller shows are much better for getting up close and personal with the bands which can also result in better shots. Shooting outdoor festivals during the day is my absolute favorite. There’s something about being able to capture the emotions of the crowd better with the blue sky in the background.
Do you go into a concert with a clear mind about what you are going to shoot or do you have some dream ideas you are wanting to create? Normally I go into a show with the mindset of just shooting. If I’m seeing the same show- band more than once and I know what moves they will make on stage, I will then be able to picture the images I want to take.
I know bands have used your photographs, how did that come about? Most of the bands that have used my images were from festivals. At the festivals, they normally have a meet and greets with the bands and I take the opportunity to hand out my business card. You never know what opportunities will come from marketing yourself. Other bands that have used my images have been from just finding me on social media.
And now for some tips from Jeane, that don’t only apply to concerts. You can use these tips and tweak them for upcoming dance recitals, children’s plays, parades, festivals and much more.
And after reading the tips, come join the conversation and share your photoshere.
LENS: I use 15-85mm f/3.5. Although the zoom quality of the lens is amazing, the aperture is something that I’m constantly fixing. A low aperture lens is definitely something you need.
FLASH: Most places don’t allow flash photography so I normally don’t. Depending on the show size and the amount of lighting, a flash is not normally needed. Molly: I would add this is where Jeane’s suggestion of the low aperture lens is important and a tripod or monopod when you are able is great if you will be standing in one place.
SETTINGS: Experiment with different settings on your camera. Every show will be different, you never know what lighting situation you’ll be in so you can always learn from them. I would definitely recommend a simple setting that you’re comfortable with. I started off with the action setting, but I also know of people who have used creative auto, auto, and aperture priority. I think starting out on one of the simpler settings gives you practice of how to focus on whats going on on the stage instead of stressing about your setup right off the bat.
ISO: I usually keep my ISO high and my Shutter low. Although that does occasionally leave the grainy look, I find in post editing it’s easy to cover up and really bring out the colors of the lights.
Concert etiquette: Although a lot of famous concert photographers have lists of etiquette, I have had to worry about other photographers around me. But always be cautious of who’s around you. So many people just want to camp out in the same spot the whole night which is not only rude to the other photographers, but you also won’t get the best images if they are all from the same angle.
BIGGEST TIP: Just keep shooting. You never know what surprise shots you’ll get.
Did you know May is National Photo Month? I didn’t know until this week. How did I find out? QVC was using the opportunity to sell more cameras. It makes sense, photography has been the #1 hobby in our country since the 90’s. In the 90’s and prior to that, anyone with a SLR camera, had a bit of a mystique to them. For the most part, people with nice cameras knew how make photographs with their cameras and had an understanding of what photography was and how it worked.
Are you making photographs or just experiencing virtual photography? Unless you are a photographer by trade or an artist, I am betting you are what I call a virtual photographer.
The definition of photography that I like best, “is creating an image with light.” Millions of people take pictures and don’t even know that. The light doesn’t matter. “Virtual Photographer’s, ” as I call and define them seem to think photography is “the act of pushing a button to make and record what they see.” Nothing tangible, just a snap, possibly a share and then forgotten.
Prior to the new millennium, the average person didn’t even try to take a photo. And it wasn’t really their fault, there was no instant gratification. They were snapping a photo with a hope and prayer that it would look good; that they didn’t cut someone’s head off and hopefully not discover their thumb in front of the lens. Now those same people can take photo snaps the same way they did before and know immediately that they cut a head off and quickly re-snap.
I know YOU virtual photographer’s can do better.
In the past, photos were sent off (when I was a wedding photographer I literally had to wait 2 weeks to see how my film photos came out…. Stressful) Some people couldn’t stand to wait and would go to a “photo matt” or a one hour photo lab. But even then, the moment’s they were trying to capture had passed by and there was no way for a do over if the pictures, “didn’t turn out,” as they used to say.
Things have changed, we have 2 different groups of people. The people with the fancy cameras and the cell phone snapper. There is also some overlap, some people have a nice camera but choose to only snap photos on their phone.
While we are going to get into more specialized photography in the rest of May with guest photographers, today is all about the basics…. I want you to think about what a photo means to you? And are the pictures you capture important? And if so, how many did you actually print in the last year.
In 2015 nearly a trillion photographs were taken with nearly 80% captured on a cell phone. WOW! And the majority were not printed. It is predicted nearly 5 Trillion photos will be stored somewhere by 2017. Cool graph info here. And the majority haven’t and never will be printed.
Photography used to be a physical thing. Even for the person who only got the camera out at Christmas, the roll of film was touched between the fingers, loaded in the camera and then taken out. The majority of people would take their film out to be “developed or processed.” Sounds so fancy now. And then they made prints, many times, “doubles.” One for you and one for me.
We had a physical piece of the moment to hopefully put in an album, or in a frame. And baby boomers that have a drawer full of photographs in a lab envelope that were never looked at again, don’t feel bad, you are doing better than this generation and BONUS, you most likely have the negatives with them. Where are your photos? What are you doing with them? Do you have a back up copy? If you are not printing your photographs, I say, you don’t really have ANY photos!
Your CHALLENGE, go to your big box store and spend 20 minutes plugging your phone into the mini lab. Pick the images you want and print them. This Weekend! Delete the ones you didn’t print and back up the ones you did when you get home. And please go over and likeFacebook Page where all of the interaction will be this month, including “call outs,” where you can share a photo with everyone. To not miss anything on facebook, you will want to do 3 steps, LIKE, Hover over the arrow and click SEE FIRST and then Notifications ON. I don’t want you to miss out.
I can help you take less shots in the future, not have less moments, but take less shots down the road with some tips. But for NOW, we will deal with what we have. And if you don’t want to miss a blog post, subscribe by email in the upper right hand corner of this page.
“There are books that are suitable for a million people, others for only a hundred. There are even remedies—I mean books—that were written for one person only…A book is both medic and medicine at once. It makes a diagnosis as well as offering therapy. Putting the right novels to the appropriate ailments: that’s how I sell books.”
These were the words spoken by Jean Purdu in Nina George’s, “The Little Paris Bookshop.” Monsieur Purdu could “prescribe” someone the perfect book for how they were feeling or for what was lacking in their lives. But his own life was empty and had been stuck in a bad place for 20 years.
This book took me on an unexpected journey. Enticed by the idea of a little bookshop on a barge in the water, “The Literary Apothecary,” I expected romance and details surrounding the possibilities of the stories and magic they would bring to people when read. Instead, I found myself reading about romance AND also friendship. An unexpected friendship between men, from different places in life. Hearts had been broken, hearts were still searching and all perhaps hoping for their soul mate. The beautiful, very touching friendship between the group of traveling companions unfolded within the pages brilliantly.
I really enjoyed the vision of the bookshop, the resident cats, the ethnic cooking on board when they gained a chef, the travel along the water and the events that transpired when the Literary Apothecary literally turned into an escape vehicle. An escape from pain, fear and confusion as it steered them toward clarity, healing and peace. But what spoke to me the most was just the vision of the men allowing themselves to be vulnerable with one another in a loving friendship.
I liked this story a lot and would recommend it to a friend. In addition to it being a great story, there are beautiful quotes from Purdu, thoughts and reflections that I found myself pausing to take in and reflect on for a while before moving on.
It’s that time of year when pink spring blossoms are peaking and the flowers are capturing my eye and creating a desire within me to be outdoors more.
I look forward to the smell of the pink hyacinth that we planted in our yard, it’s so dainty and it’s also bold because it pokes through the ground even when the ground still has snow. It’s also a reminder someone loves me (I got it from my husband as an Easter present one year.)
Next the tulips are vaulting straight up to life. They try their best to stand tall even when the winds can be fierce and blow them inside out. I don’t have any tulips in my yard but I enjoy seeing everyone else’s and even though they grow here, I still think of Holland, Dutch People, Windmills and Wooden Shoes every time I see a group of them.
Then the dance of the pink cherry blossoms begin. These famous flowers blew my mind when we went to see them during the festival in D.C. If you get there during the peak it is a virtual fairy land with petals raining down on you. I can’t think of a better way to feel like the little girl deep inside who once felt like a princess; than to put your arms out and feel them touching your skin. It’s like magic.
The crab apple tree blooms next in our area. With vibrant colors and textured shapes against the sky, they always give me an energized feeling. It’s like nature is telling me to wake up, stop hibernating, Get back to life.
And finally the largest blossom- so soft and sensual and creamy- the pink magnolia tree opens up and signals that spring will prevail and winter will not return again.
I can’t leave out the pink bleeding heart, sprouting up among all of these but these flowers. It waits just a little longer to share the love of its blossoms.
I love all of the pink spring blossoms that the season brings. I also love all the rainbow of colors in our yard with flowers across the color spectrum, But the pinks in spring represent life in different stages to me and like Peggy Lee sang,
Last summer we took a visit to The Eternal Flame. Our family is big into geocaching and the adventure it provides and I enjoy the opportunity to discover places I have never seen before with my camera. There was lots of talk amongst the local geocacher’s that The Eternal Flame was a must see destination, so we added it to our bucket list and waited until the right time. We were going to use it has our 3000th find. Located in Chestnut Ridge Park, New York, there is a beautiful hike through trees where we saw runners and sheriff deputies on horseback. This is not an easy hike, so you should make sure to bring everything you need and use caution.
The bonus of this infamous flame is that it sits inside of a waterfall.
It was a challenging but very fun day. If you have never geocached before, I hope you will consider checking it out. It’s free to play this global game. YES global, there was a geocache placed on the Space Station. Our “caching handle,” is fishingalong. Caching is a great time, we’ve met many unique people and made some wonderful friendships.
What is the eternal flame and how does it stay lit? The flame is actually fueled by natural gas, ethane and propane and is inside of a grotto made of shale. In cases where the flame did go out, a hiker was able to use a long lighter and reignite it. Science in nature is really cool. But fire behind a waterfall? Even cooler.
Divining Women, written by Kate Gibbons is a novel set in the early 1900’s during the Influenza outbreak.
A strong woman leading a woman who has been made weak through an emotionally abusive relationship should be an empowering and inspirational read. Mary, the young single and strong niece through marriage and Maureen, the pregnant Aunt, who is emotionally sick and worn down from a horrible husband should be just the characters. However, I closed the book feeling like I didn’t really know either one of them.
I however, was more interested in the Grandpa, who is mentioned occasionally through the book as a free-spirited nudist with ghosts in his home. And I wanted to know more behind the scenes into the lives of the help that took care of the home Maureen lived in.
Poor Maureen suffered greatly at the hands of her husband, even succumbing to cruel mental health procedures, which really were more torture than healthful in my opinion and still I felt like, “Poor Maureen,” I didn’t really care all that much about her. Not because of her sadness or emotional illness, but more because her character just felt flat to me.
Mary, on the other had tried hard to be spirited and fought to be a person alive in the pages, but like any actress, playing against someone who is lifeless is not a win, even if you are having your best performance.
I did like the way Gibbon’s painted a picture of the surroundings for me and since the character’s left behind in the beginning pages interested me so much, I would try another of her books. I think Gibbon’s and I just had a differing opinion on which of her characters should be in the spotlight.
Although Divining Women, was not a favorite for me, two of Gibbon’s books were part of Oprah’s Book Club. A Virtuous Woman and Ellen Foster, which are the books I think I will pick up this summer and give it a go. Have you read this book or any other’s by Kaye Gibbons? I would love to hear what you thought.
Do you fall in love and end up trading art at crafts shows? If you are anything like me, as the show is getting put together, with my coffee cup in hand, the drooling begins as the work starts popping up all around me. And as I get to know the people and connect with them; I usually want to bring a piece of their work home.
Recently I participated in my first Pop Up Shop, through the PA Wilds, of which I am a juried member. I met a mother and daughter who set up together but they create very different work. I purchased a mini matchbook set from Mulchkin, the daughter to put in Easter Baskets.
I fell in love with her mini assemblage pieces and her collage prints and we made a trade.
Usually at shows when people make trades it would be for an equal-fair value item, so we traded prints for prints.
One of the people I adore at shows is Stephanie Distler. She is a jewelry artist. I would have loved some photography with her for a statement ring she had, but they sold out. I do own one of her copper pendants. I have mine on a leather choker necklace. Its adorable and extra special because it was made with the hands of someone I admire.
And Stephanie was nice enough to share some trade’s she did with me here. At the most recent Pop Up Show I talked about, Lois from Little Bear Creek Alpaca’s was set up. She raises alpaca’s and turns the fiber into the material that she sells as well as weaves and creates with. She was making a gorgeous shawl wrap while we were set up. She made a trade with Stephanie for one of her hammered safety pins to use on a shawl made with some of this homespun fiber.
And finally my neighbor at the show all day was Deborah from The Muddy Moose. I have been to her open houses at Christmas time in the past and her stuff goes fast. She shared with me this most adorable pottery pig that she traded for some of her Goat’s Milk Soap. She and the potter have traded every year for the past 3 years at a show where they are always next to each other.
The bottom line, we are makers and we appreciate and are inspired by things that other people make. Sometimes as maker’s our heads can start to spin, thinking “I want to try to do that or make that.” For me, that usually means I don’t ever end up with what I saw. While it’s fun to daydream about, I am better off to refine and work on what I am good at and to collect other beautiful things from artist’s that specialize in those arts.
If you get the opportunity to do a Trade at a show, Go For It. I would love for you to share your favorite trade or trade experience in the comments below.