Posted on March 8, 2014
We’re looking at Monday to “sail away from our safe harbour” in Florida and cross the mighty Gulf Stream to cruise to the Bahamas on Windsong II, our Hunter 356 sailboat.
We’ve been preparing for this for what seems like a very long time!
Last year we weren’t able to leave the marina at all because our little Westie Angus was not well enough. This year we were delayed for a few months because we needed a new mast to replace one that had been damaged.
So we’ve been patiently waiting for the right time. There has been much to do to get ready, though, and a long list to work through in recent days. Now most of it has been done.
The fact that this is actually happening is exciting and definitely even a little scary. But it’s finally time to “throw off those bowlines” as Mark Twain exhorted and “explore, dream, discover.” (That quote is a bit overused, but still apt, I think.)
We’ve been watching the weather carefully as it’s vital to choose the best possible conditions to make what is usually a 10-hour trip covering 55 nautical miles. Monday and Tuesday are looking good. We’re planning to leave Lake Worth at West Palm Beach and then clear customs at West End in the Bahamas after a Gulf Stream crossing. After that, we’ll make our way to Marsh Harbour in the Abacos on the Bahamas Banks.
My plan is to be back here when I can to post some favorite images, but if you’re interested in the day-to-day details of the voyage, come on over to Our sailing blog where you can see what we’re all up to. Hopefully we will have enough Internet access to keep it up.
I wrote a guest post on the blog Focusing on Life with a bit of background on our life afloat. Have a look if you’re so inclined.
I’ll look forward to catching up with you and all your wonderful blogs once I have reliable communications. In the meantime, take care and enjoy your lives and all the goodness in them!
Posted on March 5, 2014
Posted on March 3, 2014
I devoted the month of February to experimenting with abstract photography. Guided and inspired by the generous and talented Kim Manley Ort and accompanied by an enthusiastic group of kindred souls on Flickr, I challenged myself to see reality around me in a very different way.
Here are some of my key discoveries:
- Abstract photography is a vehicle to get more in touch with your own instincts, emotions and passions. It removes the literal from your images. You don’t need to know what the subject is to like it. For example, I connect with the image above not because of what it is – dish towels, actually — but because of how it makes me feel: energized, empowered and part of the earth. The green, deep blue and orange are to me the elemental colours of fire, water, sky and earth.
- Abstract photography is just plain fun. It is a doorway to joy. It gives you permission to play, to bend and break the rules, to follow your bliss and not worry about the result. Like a child with finger paints, sometimes you make a big mess — and other times you are unexpectedly delighted by a beautiful and meaningful image. It doesn’t really matter; it’s all good.
- In the future, I think I’ll come back to abstract photography any time I’m in the creative doldrums, when I want to shake myself out of habitual and stale patterns. This secret antidote might just work for you too. Part of what freezes us up when we pick up the camera is a desire to make “good” or “popular” images, and we often judge ourselves against similar types of images made by others. But when we free ourselves to create something that is not at all recognizable, then we are liberated from judging it against criteria that are not our own. And since we’re also not so bound up by needing to achieve the perfect exposure, composition and framing, we are released to take more risks and experience the possibility of creating something new and different. Just that excitement alone can reinvigorate our photography.
- Abstract photography can also help you improve your “regular” photography. How is that? Making abstracts trains you to see more directly what lies at the base of any image — lines, shape, patterns, light, colour. When the image is something you are familiar with, you can become distracted by your ideas and preconceived notions of the thing, and your perceptions are not as pure as they might be. But when you remove the label from what is happening in the frame, you see only how light, line, shape and colour are dancing together. That is all. This heightened awareness can make for fresher and more exciting images, abstract or not.
- I commented in an earlier post that “one of the things I love the most about this form of photography is that it keeps revealing just how varied and mysterious the world really is when looked at through different eyes — there is so much more to see and enjoy than we usually let ourselves. And you don’t have to go far. It is astounding how many surprises you can find even in your own home — in the few feet around you.” (I doubt I would have seen the creative possibilities of light on dish towels before this course!)
Now, you definitely don’t need a course to play around with abstracts. You just need an open mind and a desire to try different things. Going really close up on familiar objects is one technique that can yield interesting abstracts. So are deliberately blurring your images and even adding camera movement (ICM) while you are blurring them. And if you are near water, even puddles, do try out abstract reflections. These were some of my favorite images this month.
But I would highly recommend taking Kim’s online course if abstract photography appeals to you at all. You will find her a wonderful catalyst to creativity. The course was a perfect balance of reading about abstract artists, techniques and ideas and real practice. The feedback from Kim and the other participants is always supportive and encouraging. And I found seeing such a wide diversity of abstract work emerging from the group to be exciting and inspiring. The course has started me — and many others — on a continuing journey that I know will deepen and change and keep me engaged for a long time to come.
Kim Manley Ort offers a wide range of equally exciting online courses as well. Why not sign up for her newsletter so you will be the first to know what she has coming up next?
Posted on March 1, 2014
…The secret is, it’s all love.It’s all doorways to truth.It’s all opportunity to merge with what is.Most of us don’t step through the doorframe.We stay on the known side.We fight the door, we fight the frame, we scream and hang on.On the other side, you are one with the earth, like the mountain.You hum with life, like the moss.On the other side, you are more beautiful:wholeness in your bones, wisdom in your gaze,the sage-self and the surrendered heart alive.
From Even in the Struggle by Tara Sophia Mohr
Posted on February 26, 2014
If what I say resonates with you, it is merely because we are both branches on the same tree.
It’s been a while since I tried “intentional camera movement,” or ICM as it’s known. (You can see a previous experiment here plus find out about the technique.)
But since we’re coming to the end of the abstract photography course I’ve been taking, I thought I would give it another go. It’s a technique that takes a great deal of patience since the ratio of failures to successes is quite high. But it’s definitely worth the effort.
Even though I’m a big fan of non-recognizable abstracts when it comes to water reflections for example, I tend to prefer a slightly recognizable subject when using ICM.
You have to use a slow shutter speed so it’s important to control the light that comes into the camera otherwise the overall effect will be far too washed out. I tried several different combinations before I was happy.
For this image, I used a very low ISO and a small aperture combined with a quarter second exposure. I thought about using a neutral density filter but found that I didn’t really need to. I was pleased that the trees were still outlined and the colours were deep and rich in the example above.
Tell me, do you enjoy making ICM images, and if so, do you have any tips to share?
Posted on February 22, 2014
The abstract nature of reality is the source of beauty.
The sun was going down and the light was beautiful in the marina. I had just finished shooting some pics of Charles and Chica (a dog on a neighbouring boat) and as I was walking down the dock, I caught sight of the most amazing reflections in the water.
I doubt I would have noticed them before starting to take the wonderful online course, Going Abstract, with Kim Manley Ort. My eyes are now so much more attuned to light and colour and pattern that I would have just walked past before. And that means so much more beauty is mine to delight in.
A wonderful gift…
It’s astounding just how much the eye/brain wants to find something recognizable in an abstract. I created quite a number of these water abstracts and I keep seeing animal/fish/bird shapes in them. And with their rounded shapes, they also remind me of abstract Inuit art.
Then I remember they are fundamentally water, light, reflection, pattern and colour. But when you think about the complex processes involved in getting that moment in the marina into our eyes and then into our brain to make meaning — through the medium of the camera — it all becomes rather miraculous.
“I understand abstract art as an attempt to feed imagination with a world built through the basic sensations of the eyes.”
Posted on February 20, 2014
She must find a boat and sail in it. No guarantee of shore. Only a conviction that what she wanted could exist, if she dared to find it.
I was honoured to be asked to contribute a guest post to Focusing on Life (FOL) , a collaborative blog by a group of women whose photography and writing I’ve long admired.(Thanks, Dotti!)
In my post, I share some key life lessons I’ve learned from living on a sailboat in southern climes part of the year. This lifestyle is our dream — we love the freedom, enjoy the new experiences that open up to us every day and embrace living with less. It’s not for everybody, that’s for sure, but we all have our own dreams and places where we feel most alive and at home with ourselves. What’s yours?
Focusing on Life has as its goal “to create a caring community for people who are passionate about photography and life. We hope this will be a place that will inspire, teach, nurture, support and accept one another; a place where we can grow in our craft and as individuals.”
Why not come over and check out FOL? And while you’re there have a look at some of the other posts. I’m sure you’ll be inspired and delighted by the talent of the regular contributors and guest posters too. If you like what you see, you’ll want to become a regular reader and part of this wonderful supportive community.