It was a night of stars…

twinkling, spinning, and shooting.

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star trails

Keep your eyes on the stars, and your feet on the ground.

Theodore Roosevelt

I felt very lucky this week to have clear and dark skies for the Perseid Meteor showers and it was quite the show!

These showers occur as Earth crosses the orbital path of the comet Swift-Tuttle and bits of debris hit the atmosphere creating these fast-moving meteors. The radiant point for the showers is the Perseus constellation.

I set up early for the event anticipating a long night and dragged a camping cot out into my pasture. Much nicer than laying on the ground and easier on the neck too for hours of viewing!

I got butterflies in my stomach as my eyes adjusted to the dark and I waited to see the first of many meteors streak across the sky. Some were brief flashes while others left wonderful trails that lingered for several seconds. While viewing my images the next day I was excited to see several shots with double meteors in them. One even had two streaking along on a parallel course.

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I was grateful that my Nikon has a built-in intervalometer so that I could set up sequenced shots and be shooting while I kept my eyes on the stars. The first image is a compilation of over 100 shots as the stars moved across the sky.

Was I tired the next day? Perhaps a little. Was it worth it? In the words of a friend…indeed!

 

Getting up close and personal…

with your fears.

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nephila clavipes

There is no such thing as paranoia. Your worst fears can come true at any moment.

Hunter S Thompson

One of the great things about being a photographer is the complete control that you have over subject matter and something that I like to do when presented with the opportunity is to get out of my comfort zone and photograph something that I am not comfortable with.

While on a recent trip to Florida I came across this largest of North American spiders with the exception of the tarantula, the banana spider. I did in fact shudder but taking a deep breath I began to photograph her with what looked like her offspring.

While this spider is venomous, its bite is not fatal, at least that was what I kept telling myself as I moved around her trying to capture her and the color in that beautiful golden web.

I have found that looking at something through a camera lens has a  desensitizing effect because it seems that a different part of your brain kicks in and focuses on the light and other technical issues, over-riding the part that says “run, save yourself!” 

In the interests of full disclosure I will admit to using a telephoto and NOT my macro lens for this shot…after all these spiders are large with a body size of 1-3″ and leg spans of up to 5″!

I can make a mental check mark beside venomous spider now, what’s next you ask? Gulp…a snake?

In the company of…

dogs!

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Once you have had a wonderful dog, a life without one, is a life diminished.

Dean Koontz

I spent a great week seeing old friends and making new ones…friends of the canine variety that is! Big ones, little ones, fat ones, lean ones, young ones, old ones, hairy ones and smooth ones. Some came with massive pedigrees, stacks of show ribbons…Best In Show to Grand Champions. Others came from more unknown lineage but packing an abundance of charm and good looks and each one had a story to tell!

There’s the mastiff with a stack of ribbons too numerous to count, breeder owner handled. His size was awe-inspiring and his gentle nature a treat to behold.

The pug, being a lady of a certain age, was none too mobile but very adept at keeping the big dogs in line! Her dinner dance would bring a smile to anyone’s face…

The poodle, once somebody’s show dog, forgotten when they moved on, has a heart of gold and a new loving home where he lives the life he deserves.

The staffordshire bull terrier, still raking in the accolades in the show ring but as a veteran now…owner handled naturally!

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Being around such a variety of breeds was an absolute treat and seeing the pride that the owners had for their dogs was heart warming.

I am often out at night looking and photographing the stars but this week the stars came out during the day and they couldn’t have shone brighter!

 

I have a good reason…

for being behind on my posts!

Persei
10 week old staffordshire bull terrier

In a perfect world every dog would have a home and every home would have a dog…

I hate being behind in my posts but it has been a very busy week culminating in bringing home this little guy. Those who know me well know of my love of animals and dogs in particular and after losing a very special dog in the spring of last year we embarked on a search for someone try to fill his shoes.

This is my third Staffordshire Bull Terrier and while it is not the breed for everyone, they sure fit our lifestyle. In the AKC breed standard he is described as having “character of indomitable courage, high intelligence, and tenacity. This, coupled with its affection for its friends, and children in particular, its off duty quietness and trustworthy stability, makes it a foremost all-purpose dog.”

We have found them to be very social, intelligent, and game to try new things even those things that don’t come naturally to them. Every dog that we have owned has learned to swim with the staffies being no exception. It wasn’t very pretty at first but our 8-year-old girl is a now a powerful and enthusiastic swimmer who is also at home in a kayak.

This little guy in just one week has been in several vehicles, planes, and this morning in a kayak for his first ride. I am enjoying watching him experience everything with the courage that this breed is noted for having. This past week was one filled with canine portraiture which I just love doing. It’s relaxing and enjoyable to try to capture that thing that makes each one special. I will follow-up this post with some of the dogs that I have had the pleasure of photographing this past week.

Life gets busy, don’t forget to share a moment with your canine friend!

I had a dream…

that I could pick a line down the milky way.

dreamscape
dreamscape

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before.

Edgar Allan Poe

I have never been accused of lacking in imagination and while sometimes I wake up from a night’s sleep and wonder what on earth?!? other times I wake up with a smile thinking about a grand adventure.

While I find pleasure in the long days and warm nights of summer watching the milky way arc across the night sky my thoughts do begin to drift towards winter. Perhaps that was where this idea came from…not powder but light, not snowflakes but stars.

I recently added a layer program called Perfect Layers to my Lightroom which allows me to blend a couple of images into a composite. I have not been a fan of composite images unless they have been true double exposures and not images intended to trick the viewer but this program allowed me to construct an image that represented a dream…pure fantasy.

I think a vivid imagination is a gift to be treasured and nurtured and honestly …who wouldn’t want to carve out a line spraying stars across the night sky?

 

 

 

 

Shot from the heart…

as expected, in black and white.

Fourth of July
Fourth of July

“I’ve been forty years discovering that the Queen of all colors is black.”

Henri Matisse

I did warn you in last week’s post. What can I say? I love the clarity that comes with black and white. While others are anticipating a riot of colors bursting into the night sky I see a hazy red blur that is much better defined without the color.

I do love an opportunity to shoot fireworks. There is such an element of surprise as to what you might see. Each time I do it I find myself more relaxed and able to take in the show at the same time as I am photographing it. I was even able to ignore the popping of flashes behind me with hardly an eye-roll as the other spectators  attempted to capture this on various flash equipped devices.

I found this to be almost meditative too as I calculated how long to leave the shutter open and envisioned what elements I was building into each frame. Would it be one singular explosion or a longer shot enveloping multiple explosions?!

Fourth of July

Fourth of July

For those disappointed by these black and white images I offer this as an opportunity to imagine all the colors of the rainbow. Whatever colors your heart may desire…and a happy independence day America!

The journey of an artist…

follows neither a straight nor an easy path…

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morning fog

Nothing is ever the same twice because everything is always gone forever, and yet each moment has infinite photographic possibilities.

Michael Kenna

Tempting as it may be to shoot things like heavily saturated sunsets that draw gasps of delight from the general public I think it is important to stay true to what you personally find to be moving. If you sacrifice that inner voice, your own personal je ne sais quoi in the hopes of a sale, you will lose the joy that comes with picking up a camera.

It’s strange but when I find myself editing an image with just the smallest of adjustments using an almost exaggerated light touch I know that the image holds more meaning for me.

Likewise when I see the work of another photographer and it makes me hold my breath even for a moment I know that their work has resonated with me and it then becomes important to find out why.

Michael Kenna is one such artist who when I happened upon his work it was like time stood still. So many of his images were utterly simple and at the same time complex in their composition and tone.

30 seconds one evening
30 seconds one evening

I battle with color and sensory overload at the best of times so I do find myself drawn to black and white. As a young girl I was petrified of the dark with its enveloping blackness and things that might lurk in those shadows. Never one to give in to irrational fears I pushed myself to be in that darkness and I have found it to be meditative and calming in a world that has exploded with connectivity. Now I find myself more often than not, waiting for the sun to go down so that I can explore the night using long exposures. Certainly not something that I would ever have imagined doing but if you are willing to try new things and keep an open mind, you might find your journey taking a new direction.

I do still shoot color but I find myself doing so less and less and when I look back on photographers whose work really moves me, it is almost always minimalist and black and white.

For me it is about being authentic in your work and presenting an image that is true to your own personal vision and this year as I shoot the fireworks to celebrate America’s day of Independence they will more than likely be in black and white…

Happy Fourth of July to those celebrating…