Saturday, December 28, 2013

iPhoneography Love: Trees

winter trees

We could never design a building as beautiful as the trees. ~Pietro Belluschi

I turned this standard iPhone tree photo into a much prettier version of itself by using my camera apps: Snapseed (Retrolux filter) and Lenslight to add my faux moon. Aren't camera apps amazing and wonderful?

How is everyone? The holidays are keeping me from my normal blog time, and we're also planning a vacation to Florida in two weeks - my blog posts may be sporadic until later in January. Until then, I'll try my best to post/visit when I can but it may not be as often.

Have a great weekend! Did you have a good holiday? I'm wishing everyone a very Happy 2014!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Happy Holidays to You

Christmas cheer

Christmas cheer

Christmas cheer

Here are a few of my cheeriest Christmas iPhone images from the last couple of weeks...all of these were processed with camera apps only. I use them more often than I do Photoshop these days!

May your holiday be filled with magic, sweetness, and joy. Best wishes to all my wonderful blog friends!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Smitten With Anthropologie

Oh, be still, my beating love for Anthropologie knows no bounds. Words can't describe how much I love this store. I literally feel giddy when I walk through its doors, and when it's finally time to leave I don't want to walk out because of how happy it makes me to be there. All the pretty things!! The colors, the textures, the perfect presentation of every tiny, little detail, staged to's a feast for my eyes. Does anyone else feel this way when they visit this store, or am I the only weird one?? :)

I visited the Anthropologie at Reston Town Center this past week with my daughter, and I couldn't stop snapping photos with my iPhone. I tried to be discreet and none of the employees seemed to be bothered by it. Based on the 100,000+ #anthropologie photos on Instagram, I'm thinking they're probably used to it by now.

My dream is to visit the Anthropologie store in Manhattan, which I hear is spectacular (and not one but TWO floors of visual nirvana). I'm sharing a video below about the Anthropologie designers...this would be my dream job if I were young again, and knew then what I know now about myself, and what I love.

Thank you for stopping there a store where you are that makes your heart beat faster? Please share!

Kim Klassen dot Com

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

It Dawned on Me This Morning

December sunrise

Taking a moment to look at the sky or taking a few seconds to abide with the fluid energy of life, can give us a bigger perspective——that the universe is vast, that we are a tiny dot in space, that endless, beginningless space is always available to us. ~Pema Chodron

Yesterday, I happened to walk by our front windows as the sun was rising...I saw the incredible colors and ran for my camera. Yes, that was me in my robe and pajamas, out on our front porch taking photos! My neighbors are probably used to this by now.

The colors took my breath away. Moments like this always make me stop and be present, if only for a moment...maybe that's why they're so special? As I stared at that magical sky, my brain grew still, my breathing slowed down, and my to-do list became unimportant. I soaked in the brilliance of the coral sky, the starkness of the bare trees...they looked vulnerable, as if they were reaching for something. The cold air stung my cheeks and filled my lungs, waking me up much more effectively than a cup of coffee would. The only sound I heard was the hum of distant morning traffic. I imagined that even the birds were stunned into silence, their feathers fluffed up in the cold, perched on those very tree limbs I was staring at.

Suddenly, my day seemed more promising and my heart felt full. A moment in nature, even if it's just on a front porch on a Monday morning, can change my perspective in an instant. Isn't it wonderful how that works?

I'm linking up today with Kim's Texture Tuesday - I used her "Cora" texture at Multiply/50%.


Friday, December 13, 2013

Oh, The Weather Outside is Frightful

winter snow

winter snow

We got some wintery weather this past week as a snow and ice storm blew through the Northern Virginia area...we don't usually have storms like this so early in December. I hope it's not a sign of more bad weather to come! I snuck outside with my camera to capture a few photos of the pretty ice...sadly, the "pretty ice" destroyed a lot of trees in our area, and we even lost power for a few hours during the storm. I'm grateful it was only a few hours, though - many others had no power all day, which would get chilly very fast in these freezing temps!

I'm still in denial about Christmas being here in 12 days...I'm not ready! I must tackle my Christmas to-do list and get things crossed off. Thanks so much for stopping by - I'm linking up with Kim's Friday Finds today.

Kim Klassen dot Com

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Oh, Christmas Tree

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I'm officially "claiming my blog" at Bloglovin, which requires that I post the link above...follow me there if you wish!

I hope things are merry and bright where you are - they are here, and I'm loving the lights on our Christmas tree. Things are also very busy! My blog time has dwindled as I scramble to finish my holiday to do list. Are you ready for the holidays? Remember to breathe!

christmas tree

Friday, December 6, 2013

The Art of Opening Up

pink rose

I sit before flowers hoping they will train me in the art of opening up. I stand on mountain tops believing that avalanches will teach me to let go. I know nothing, but I am here to learn. ~Shane Koyczan

Remaining open is a challenge in this life, but I think it's key to growth and evolvement...I say this not because I've grasped this concept, but as a reminder. It's natural, I think, to want to close our hearts harden them against being vulnerable. Throughout my life I've instinctively done this again and again, but at least I'm aware now when it happens...for years, I did it unconsciously.

I think it's a type of self-preservation to put up those walls, because life can be brutal and hard and we want to protect ourselves from pain. A hurting heart never feels good. But remaining open lets all the good stuff in, too, and there's so much good out there.

I like that the above quote describes opening up as an's very true. Like any art form, it takes practice to develop the skill. If you walk away from the practice sessions, you will never become good at it. I'm still an amateur at opening up, but I aspire to one day be a professional. And I agree completely with Shane Koyczan: there is so much to learn, if we'd only remain open.

I'm linking up today with Photo Art Friday, which has a monthly prompt. The theme this month was "open". I played around with my rose image, using Bonnie's "Heavenly" texture at Vivid Light/43%. I also added a texture with some handwriting for the background, and used the cutout effect.

Click on the button below to visit Bonnie's Pixel Dust Photo Art site - she has another prompt coming up in January. It's a lot of fun to play around with altering your images - I highly recommend it! It's a good exercise in being open, and letting go. :)

Pixel Dust Photo Art

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Hold Still for a (Photographic) Moment

Old Town Alexandria

Old Town Alexandria

Old Town Alexandria

Old Town Alexandria

Did everyone have a good Thanksgiving? Ours was wonderful...a quiet weekend spent with family. We laughed, we ate, we walked, we ate, we watched movies, we know how that goes. It's back to reality this week, along with realizing that Christmas is only 22 days away! Eek, I must finish my Christmas shopping.

I'm linking up with Texture Tuesday today and thought I'd share a few photos from our visit to Old Town Alexandria a few weeks ago...I didn't realize I hadn't shared any images from there yet. We discovered a tiny park in the middle of the town and it was so fact, while we were there, two professional photographers were also there taking family portraits. A perfect spot!

For the last image above, I used Kim's "Sybil" texture at Multiply/50%.

All the trees are officially bare's time to seek out alternative photo opportunities for the next several months. I think it's time to start practicing my indoor photography until spring! Thanks for stopping by.

Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still. ~Dorothea Lange


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Poetry: Clumsy

purple moon


Soulful word threads,
pale as silk,
waiting to be pulled
through the eye of
my heart. That's what I
offer on any given day:
raw-edged thoughts,
joy-white or rubble-gray,
darning the holes
in this clumsy body
that wishes it were
measured by its soul.

The November moon
glows hard-rimmed
and sharp, cratered
with flaws. I write
about it softly, and my
talents seem small. I see
the moon's breath, its
joy, its flushed tears
and tortures. I witness
its sacred confessions
to an audience
of keen stars.

Soon, December's soft
cloth will rub all the
colors away. I will notice
the bare branches
reaching and knotting,
just like my earthly hands.
And that sharp moon?
It has since collapsed
to a crescent, its
light folded inside,
hidden and protected
like my own.

©Sherri Brannon 2013

Writing poetry fulfills me deeply - it gives me value and purpose. I'm at my best when I can sit quietly, writing and creating. It's an internal, soulful calling that brings me comfort in this external, ego-driven world. Poetry shows how soft we are, in a world that's so's my search for inner peace. I wish more people were drawn to this beautiful form of expression.

The photo was taken in my back yard - I used RadLab to enhance the purple tones and make the image more dramatic. I'm linking up with Poetry Pantry today - thank you for stopping by!

Ego says,
Once everything falls into place, I’ll feel peace.
Spirit says,
Find your peace, and then everything will fall into place.
~Marianne Williamson

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Poetry Exercise: Harvest

November field


I wish I had a bird's eye view of the
cold, brown rivers braided together
against the base of a mountain. And
there, can you see? As I fly, I spy
hollow ravines and harvest-gutted
fields, painted with the fragile
shading of November.

I'm very uncomfortable with writing poetry and then instantly sharing it. I've learned over the years that my first-draft poem "charms" me into thinking it's perfect, and then when I read it the next day (after having posted it), I'm horrified at how unfinished and awkward it reads! This has happened time and time again, to the point where I always let my poems ripen for at least two or three weeks. They tend to slowly transform themselves with each re-read...I know a poem is done when I can leave it, revisit it days later, and feel as if nothing has to be changed. Until then, I don't post it!

But today, for some reason, I saw the Verse First prompt on Poets United and felt an urge to give it a try. Verse First is a weekly prompt that challenges you to write a poem spontaneously based on their prompt. This week's prompt is "the work is not about place", and asks that we go to a place we don't usually write and write a 7-line poem. I always type my poems at the computer - I never do them by longhand. So today I grabbed a 4X6 index card and went to our den along with my poetry journal and a pen.

I came up with the poem above...and although it feels stressful to post it, I will do it in the spirit of joining in! I think this is good for me - as I struggle with feeling vulnerable when sharing my poems, this exercise really puts me out there because I'm sharing stuff that is fresh out of my brain...I haven't had a chance to clean it up or arrange it in a more perfect way. And that's OK.

I feel there's no wrong or right way to write just has to be from the heart, and authentically you. Here's my authentic poem...that probably isn't finished. I may make it longer - it has potential. Thank you for stopping by! The image is one I took near Sperryville, VA on a back country road.

So many words get lost. They leave the mouth and lose their courage, wandering aimlessly until they are swept into the gutter like dead leaves. On rainy days you can hear their chorus rushing past… ~Nicole Krauss

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Heart of Things

Abandoned prison grounds

Abandoned prison grounds

Abandoned prison grounds

Abandoned prison grounds

Abandoned prison grounds

Abandoned prison grounds

Abandoned prison grounds

It is an illusion that photos are made with the camera… they are made with the eye, heart and head. ~Henri Cartier-Bresson

I thought I'd post some more of my images taken at the abandoned prison grounds in Lorton, VA...the photo opportunities at this location were simply amazing.

I have to laugh at myself as I go through my photos - I have a definite viewpoint that shows up constantly in my photography. I seem to always gravitate, unconsciously, to flowers and/or weeds, and I get in really close so that the flower is in sharp focus while the background becomes blurred. This seems to be my method of operation! What can I say? I just love the effect and can't seem to get enough of it!

I guess it's somewhat symbolic of my innate tendency in life to always want to remove the background look closely and see the heart of things. I'm always more interested in what's beneath the surface...hmmm, food for thought as I analyze my own photographic tendencies.

I'm linking up today with Kim Klassen's Texture Tuesday...please click on the button to go see more wonderful photos! I used Kim's "touch of 2" texture at Soft Light/20% on the final photo above.

What is your photography style? Do you notice a pattern in your photos and the way you go about noticing things?


Sunday, November 17, 2013

What a Wonderful World

fall in Virginia

fall in Virginia

fall in Virginia

fall in virginia

fall in Virginia

Why is it so many of us persist in thinking Autumn is a sad season? Nature has merely fallen asleep, and her dreams must be beautiful if we are to judge by her countenance. ~Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Fall is just about gone in Virginia...the leaves are turning to rust. But I have a few photos to share from a week or so ago when they were at their peak. I feel lucky to live so close to a lake in our community - I can walk there in 15 minutes. I wish I were lucky enough to own one of the lakefront homes! I'm linking up today with Kathy's Song-ography prompt over at You'll Shoot Your Eye Out. The theme song this week is "What a Wonderful World". Fall is a wonderful time to be in this world...there's no doubt about it! The glorious colors take my breath away every single year.

Thanks for stopping by - click HERE to visit Kathy's blog and see more photos (or participate!).

Friday, November 15, 2013

Up Close and Personal

autumn leaves

Autumn colors and texture

Autumn colors and texture

Autumn colors and texture

Autumn colors and texture

Leaves take all kinds of strange shapes, as if to invite us to examine them. Star-shaped, heart-shaped, spear-shaped, arrow-shaped, fretted, fringed, cleft, furrowed, serrated, sinuated; in whorls, in tufts, in spires, in wreaths endlessly expressive, deceptive, fantastic, never the same from footstalk to blossom; they seem perpetually to tempt our watchfulness, and take delight in outstripping our wonder. ~ John Ruskin

I can never resist getting "up close and personal" with nature...I always find myself zooming in with my eyes to notice the striking details. Here are some gorgeous fall leaves I discovered. Leaves are so beautiful, even with their flaws, and no two are exactly alike. Kind of like people.

I'm linking up today with Kim Klassen's Friday Finds - click on the button below to visit and participate!

Kim Klassen dot Com

Sunday, November 10, 2013

I Am...a Mermaid??

ocean view


There lies an ocean inside my chest
A cosmic rolling of the tides
Each swell of breath a rhythmic crest
And in this place a mermaid presides

She skims atop my wrecks and treasures
Where gold coins wink and beckon
And grains of wisdom nestle
In oystered pearls that glisten

Where heartaches fuse to coral
Stinging plankton with their grief
While wild waves curl with churning thoughts
Then lap on shimmering sands to sleep

The stars beam down at the commotion,
And seagulls hover with salt-kissed wings
Swooping with a listening ear
To hear her raw notes as she sings

She’s tossed, and rocked, and cradled,
And tumbled endlessly
My precarious, sensitive mermaid
In the depths of my vast blue sea.

© Sherri Brannon

There are all kinds of people in this world...and, actually, each of us has "all kinds of kinds" inside of us, wouldn't you say? I am a mother, a daughter, a wife, a sister, an introvert, a poet, a jokester, an artist-in-the making, a mermaid...yep, you read that right. Well, according to this poem I wrote, it sure seems I am! I like that poetry takes me to places I would never be in real life. :)

I want to say thank you to everyone who commented on my last post about personal limits...I was so touched by your kind comments, advice, and words of support. You boosted my spirits tremendously and I'm so grateful for that. This blogging community is such a lovely place to be!

I hope you don't mind that this image I'm sharing is one from back in July when we went to Hilton Head - an ocean photo seemed fitting for my mermaid theme today. I have so many photos from that vacation that I've still not edited. Too many photos, not enough time! Thanks so much for stopping by - I'm linking up to both Kathy's Song-ography and the Poetry Pantry today.

…to slip beneath the surface and soar along the silent bottom of the sea agile and shining in water honeycombed with light. 
~Ellen Meloy

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Accepting My Limits

heron at the lake

It’s dark because you’re thinking too hard. Lightly, child, lightly. You’ve got to learn to do everything lightly. Think lightly, act lightly, feel lightly. Yes, feel lightly, even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them. Lightly, lightly—it was the best advice ever given to me. Throw away all your baggage and go forward. There are quicksands all about you, sucking at your feet, trying to suck you down into fear and self-pity and despair. That’s why you must walk so lightly. Lightly, my darling. ~Aldous Huxley

I don't often talk about it (and won't), but I have a chronic pain disease I've been dealing with for a decade now. The disease I have is interstitial cystitis, and it sometimes presents itself with painful flare-ups. Many of the flares can be caused by stress, and I was feeling a lot of anticipatory stress/excitement about my trip to Ohio this weekend. Unfortunately, my disease decided to rear its ugly head the night before our flight. It roared in, laid me flat, and I had to cancel my trip.

I've spent the last few days trying not to feel overcome by disappointment - this was a trip I was very much looking forward to. It was just my daughter and I going, a mother-daughter trip to a dear friend's wedding (my daughter was the maid of honor). When my daughter set off alone on Saturday and I found myself still at home, physically ill and in my pajamas, my packed bag lying there and no longer needed, I felt such a sadness that my body/stress level had betrayed me. I felt that I had let everyone down.

Coming face to face with our limits is difficult. I hate that my body does not handle stress well. Stress takes me down too quickly - it turns physical. There's such a strong connection between the emotions we're feeling and the effect it has on our bodies...mine is super sensitive. I wish it weren't so! I've been trying to accept my disappointment over what happened and move on, but I must confess I'm feeling a bit heavy-hearted. This limit I have makes me feel weak.

How do you go about accepting your own limits? I'd love to know...I definitely need to work on being as forgiving with my own limits as I would be if it were another person dealing with this.

On a happier note, the fall leaves here are at their absolute peak right now. It is incredibly gorgeous in Virginia. I used Kim Klassen's "touch-of-1" texture on this image, at Multiply/26%.

Thank you for stopping by - have a wonderful week, OK?


Friday, November 1, 2013

Goodbye October

iPhone - Charlottesville, VA

iPhone - abandoned prison grounds, Lorton, VA.

iPhone - abandoned prison grounds, Lorton, VA.

iPhone - abandoned prison grounds, Lorton, VA.

iPhone - abandoned prison grounds, Lorton, VA.

iPhone - abandoned prison grounds, Lorton, VA.

iPhone - abandoned prison grounds, Lorton, VA.

iPhone - abandoned prison grounds, Lorton, VA.

October was a fantastic month for photo taking, and I especially took TONS of images with my iPhone. It's amazing how the camera in my phone has changed my day-to-day life...before the invention of the iPhone, my photo opportunities were very sporadic and had to be planned. Now, there is a photo op in every moment and I find myself snapping photos all day, every day!

I've edited a lot of my recent iPhone photos this past week, so I thought I'd share a few with Kim's Friday Finds. With the exception of the first one, taken in Charlottesville, the rest were taken at the abandoned prison grounds in Lorton, VA. I especially love the old window photos from inside one of the abandoned buildings - they're so striking with their broken glass, peeling paint, and lonely view through the window panes. There's also a photo of my husband at work with his own camera...we have a lot of fun together on our photo outings.

I'm hoping I'll get some good photos this weekend at the wedding in Ohio, too - the venue is at a farm and the wedding is in a beautiful, old barn. It should (hopefully) be very picturesque! Thanks for visiting. So long, October...see you next year.

Kim Klassen dot Com