Wednesday, August 31, 2011

What in the World?

I haven't posted one of these in awhile but came across just the right shot for this feature. If you think you are good at puzzles take a look at the image below. What do you see? What do you think it is? Care to guess? If I haven't stumped you, comment below with your answer. If I have stumped you, keep coming back to see what you can see. Maybe it'll come to you. Maybe it will not.

Monday, August 29, 2011


In Chicago the colourful newspaper boxes line up by the morning watering holes, like the cabs do alongside the hotels. The taxi drivers line up on the street and wait in queue for the doorman to blow his whistle. When the whistle blows the next cab in line (just as colourful as these news boxes) moves up to receive its passengers. 

Here, the road itself (also has its own watering hole) has found the free paper and is not afraid to mark it.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Cloud Gate

Cloud Gate, located in Millennium Park, Chicago, is an amazing sculpture designed by artist Anish Kapoor. Eighty percent of the surface reflects the sky, thus the name. Because of its shape, it has been dubbed The Bean, much to the apparent chagrin of the artist. This is a huge piece of art measuring 33 feet high, 42 feet wide and 66 feet long...which makes the fact that it was completely created in California and then taken apart to be shipped to Chicago quite remarkable.

If you get a chance to go to Chicago, do stop by Millennium Park to take a look, stand beneath, walk around, see the warped reflections of the buildings...and yourself in Cloud Gate. It is interesting, amazing, interactive and fun. Oh, and bring your camera.

Interesting fact: Cloud Gate is washed twice a year in 40 gallons of liquid Tide.


I took this picture on an early Sunday morning in Chicago. Few were out and about on the sidewalks; the coffee drinkers, me...and this lady. As I meandered the streets, she peddled past and I couldn't take my eyes off of the image composing itself before me. Her retro cruiser, her basket wired to the back, her large shoulder bag that had zero effect on her posture, and even her obvious hair dye...all of this with the backdrop of downtown Chicago completely engaged me.

I imagine she's out again this Sunday, peddling down Michigan Avenue. I wonder where she goes.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Capturing Height in Landscape Mode

Are you looking for an interesting way to capture height? Here's a different way to compose your urban shots that lops off the tops of many of the buildings yet still successfully gives the impression of height. Shoot in landscape mode and then crop so the image is much wider than it is high, focusing in on the long shadows of the buildings rather than the buildings themselves. What you end up with in this image is a pretty good understanding of the towering height of Chicago's highrises.

Like a Million Raindrops

They all fall
Like a million raindrops
Falling from a blue sky
Kissing your cares goodbye
They all fall
Like a million pieces
A tickertape parade high
And now you're free to fly

Newsboys ~ Million Pieces

What a great visual - watching my cares fall like raindrops. Letting go of my anxiety and my worries is key to peace and freedom. I must let them go and trust that God still has me and will work things out for my good. I must be the one to lay my burdens down. Nobody else can do that for me.

And when I have done this (because I don't always do this), let my worries fall like a million raindrops, peace and freedom have come. It is so.

(If you'd like to see the rest of the lyrics to Million Pieces go here)

Friday, August 26, 2011

Morning's Light

Last night's flowers, thirsty and tired, huddle together in blue and green vases on the patio table. The chairs are stacked behind them. Chatter and laughter are still sleeping. The pigeons have swept the concrete clean and have moved along. The party is over; morning has come.


Empty, the swings carry on, waiting for their next passengers. It was nearing the end of the summer but there would be a few more rides to give before giving in to winter's chill. Labor Day was coming. The pier would bustle again before growing quiet.

Sometimes I just happen upon a picture

When I went out to get the paper this morning, I reached for the latch and then looked down. Just an inch or two away from my hand was a very large dragonfly, sitting there with no intention of moving. I jumped a little and then ran back into the house to get my camera and switch to my macro lens. I was happy to see him still perched on the latch when I returned. He washed his face while I snapped pics and really didn't seem to care that I was there.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Black and White Photography

Black and white photography is a great medium for spotlighting textures, shapes and lines. Here, the patterns in the wake of the boat form a triangle which naturally points us to the subject. The ripples from the oars also draw us in their succession to the oars which draw us to the subject. And finally, the waves in the river itself point towards the rowers.

All of these lines and shapes tell us there is movement, which is important for an active image.

Interest, direction, and movement, this shot has all three. Add colour, and some of that would be lost.

In the image below, black and white photography works again. Here, flow is a significant and fluid movement in the lines of the curve of the subject's neck and shoulders and in the blurred background edges as well. The eye is directed to the dangling earring by way of lines and also light. Originally in colour, the teal tank top and yellow background took away from the flow and ultimately the subject.

Composing shots by seeing with your mind and eye in both colour and grayscale is helpful in discerning how best your image will present.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Water Play

While in Chicago I visited Millennium Park. It was raining that day but this mattered not to the children playing in the Crown Fountain. Adult onlookers huddled under umbrellas while their kids freely played and splashed. Like the rain after a hot and muggy spell, the freedom to splash and carry on without a care in the world was refreshing to watch. Had I not had my camera safely shielded beneath my own umbrella, I wonder if I would have joined them.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Capturing Contrasts

I was in Chicago for the weekend with one of my sisters. Delighted to wander the streets with my camera, I ventured out early in the morning by myself and then continued on throughout the day together with my fellow-photog-artist-sister.

Taking in the sights and sounds of the city was such a great experience. More than once did I notice contrasting ideas or subjects come together in one frame. The more I looked the more I saw these opposites appear in my viewfinder...and they made me think.

Finding the right balance of settings was tricky. Stopping motion and blurring the right motion and keeping a good exposure are challenging to bring together in one frame. I ended up using a shutter speed of 1/30 and f/32. My focal length was 43 mm. I played with the controls until something worked in the small time frame I had as one of the subjects walked on.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

To Discover

The world is hers to discover. There is much to learn, even here, especially here, where now visits.


Today as I was reading I was struck by God's kindness. That is a strange way to put it but it is how it was. I have considered God's mercy and grace but rarely do I think very simply about His kindness. This morning, the fact that God is kind jumped out at me, suddenly, and quite unexpectedly.

When grace touches my life, and this is a daily occurrence, I am also a recipient of God's kindness. Let us think for just a minute about what kindness looks like. If we put a human face to it, how does kindness find us? There will be some ways we all experience kindness that will look similar. There will be other ways that it is unique to who we are and the circumstances we are in.

Maybe kindness catches us is in the the elderly gentleman as he offers his shopping cart to us and doesn't want the coin in return. Maybe the person in the car ahead of ours in the drive-thru pays for our coffee or perhaps a teen holds the door open for us at the mall.  Or maybe it comes through a friend's encouraging email or post on our facebook wall. These kindnesses are neither expected nor deserved. These kindnesses are not in exchange for us being kind first. These kindnesses are a gift.

Now let's magnify this type of kindness by a number greater than we even know. That kind of kind is God's.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Amber Fields

Driving through the prairies, the flat land eventually gave way to rolling hills. Rising up to greet the sky, the amber fields shone and sparkled beneath summer's sky. The fence rode the hilltops, going on as far as my eyes could see.  The fields and sky echoed the notion of an endless summer day.

No Entry

The aging stone building once welcomed me. Now the doorway is bricked off...from the inside. The welcome mat is gone. Who remains inside, shielding themselves from the world? And why?

Most of us have doors and windows. But do we also have brick walls?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Depth of Field

Using a shallow depth of field can sometimes make all the difference in the world between mediocrity and magnificent. Well, okay, that might be a little extreme. But in this shot, I used an f-stop of 2.8 and as a result the various depths of the flower have great separation by way of clarity. This allows for what I call a floating effect. The background is also blurred in degrees, giving you enough information and added interest without distracting your attention from the main focal point.

Your turn. Get out there and take some shots with a shallow depth of field. Choose your subject accordingly and have fun!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Walking Through Time

Youth was hers as she walked through time, past the old billboard, imagining days gone by. As she walked and wondered, the world became bigger but she didn't grow smaller. Rather, she became part of, connected with, belonging to that which came before her.


She left her boots behind and crossed over the river to the other side. What...or who was waiting for her? Would she return for her boots?

Sometimes I am faced with a river to cross. Do I leave something behind with the intent of crossing back? Maybe it is a river that needs to be navigated through to get to the next thing, never to return to where I was.

The river bed can be rocky and hurt my feet. I may lose my balance and fall. Sometimes the waters will be shallow and fairly easy to wade through, like in this image, or they can be deep waters that I must tread. And yet, I must cross.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

If you could ask God any question...

what would it be? Our pastor is doing a series on these kinds of questions. If you have a question, he might use it in one of his sermons. So...if you could ask God a question...submit your question in the comments and I will pass it along to our pastor.

Here's a picture to look at while you consider what that question might be.

Grassi Lakes, Alberta


Saturday, August 13, 2011


She's almost packed and ready to go.

Common Ground

Sometimes finding the common ground and shifting our focus to it helps us in making connections. Taking the spotlight off of our differences for a time allows us to see where we are similar, alike. Individuals previously not seen together, can be together, side by side. Friendships are formed.

In these pictures I've temporarily removed some of the individual colours to focus on the amazing textures, common to each of the images. Side by side, they can be. Beautifully.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Prairie's Rainbow

My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky...
~William Wordsworth

Driving through the prairies over a stretch that can seem rather long, we were delighted to encounter a prairie storm. Rainbows, double rainbows, dark clouds, bright sunny pops and heavy rain were all part of this storm. This was anything but boring! I had to stop and take pictures. Fortunately, the direction of the wind worked in my favor as I was shielded from the rain by our truck for this shot (and others). How beautiful, this prairie land of of ours is!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Thoughts, questions, conclusions...thoughts, questions, conclusions...

We are back from a week of holidays. I've had some time to think over the long drives we've had across the prairies. Lots of thoughts, some questions and some conclusions...that have led to lots of thoughts, some questions and some conclusions...well you get the drift.

Today's thought was along the lines of my wit's end being the beginning of Wisdom. Wisdom, capitalized because it is the Wisdom of God, is a wisdom like no other. When I come to my wit's end, my self-sufficiency, my ability or skill to navigate my way through something, do I panic? Do I board that familiar train bound for nowhere fast? Sadly, I do, all too often.

What if, instead, I chose to trust the One who knows all things, sees all things, hears all things and has a divine purpose for me and my life? Still better, what if I chose to trust in and focus on my Creator instead of trusting in and focusing on myself from the get-go?

My conclusion to this thought was that my wit's end can certainly be the beginning of Wisdom if I choose not to panic and trust. What if I choose to panic? Can this still be the beginning of wisdom?

And so it goes...

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Sometimes you don't need to see the whole to know what something is. Here is a good example. Glimpses of telltale orange and familiar bits will give you a good understanding of the whole. This doesn't always work, of course, but in this case it does.

In writing, they say to "show, don't tell"...don't lay it all out. It is less interesting, less engaging if you do. I wonder if that premise can also be applied to photography.  I prefer bits of, instead of the whole. Every now and again, a sweeping landscape photo is just right, the right shot, and I will take it and enjoy the results. More often than not though, I like to get closer and see what there is to see, and then show you little bits.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Cowboy Boots and Train Tracks on a Hot Summer Day

The sun was hot and dry. Though it rained overnight, it was the first rain in a long while; the dust was rising again.  Hot winds circled and settled, circled and settled. It was as though they too were restless in the sun's heat.


The latch is closed. Safe and sound...or separate? There is a time to retreat, refresh. But at some point, there is a time to open the latch, push the gate open wide and see what there is to see on the other side. What is on the other side of your gate?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Dancing in the Shadows

Unafraid, maybe even unaware of the shadows surrounding them, the blooms dance. They live where they are, freely, without worry. Rooted and grounded, yet free. Maybe we'd all do well to consider the flowers...