Thursday, January 31, 2013
"The moment we begin to fear the opinions of others and hesitate to tell the truth that is in us, and from motives of policy are silent when we should speak, the divine floods of light and life no longer flow into our souls." ~Elizabeth Cady Stanton
How unfortunate that
My place in this world
Had me dulling
The points of my stars
So careful, I was
To cover my words
To wrap them in gauze
So they wouldn't come undone
An undying concern
To unfurl only feathers
Downy and soft
From my tongue
Yet, they're only my breath
My lulling, white winds
Unstung and fragile
Like delicate moth wings
Pinned as a brooch
Against lace over skin.
© Sherri Brannon
The pressure to edit ourselves, to hide our flaws, to not reveal our vulnerabilities...this is the world we live in. We exist in a world of walls, both real and self-imposed, that conceal and separate...when all we really want is to be understood, to be validated...to be connected.
The computer is the most tech savvy wall I've ever seen...it provides a means of exposing ourselves and connecting, while still hiding behind the safety of a screen. It's a virtual security blanket. It allows us to temporarily peek from behind our curtain, to remove our public masks for just a moment and reveal our true selves...while the wall remains intact. Why such fear of exposure? And believe me, I'm as guilty as anyone else. This blog gives me courage I don't have in real-life, face-to-face situations.
Contrary to our culture's popular opinion, I feel that flaws are beautiful...they make us real and approachable. Exposing our fragilities can have a magical effect because others relate and no longer feel alone. I'm able to do this best with my poetry. While thinking about this idea, that exposing our fragility can have a magical effect in connecting with others, I accidentally said the word "fragical" out loud. I created a new word! Being real with others about our flaws truly is fragical because it bonds us together.
Just my contemplative thoughts on a Thursday...and yep, I talk out loud to myself...often. lol
My feather image is my submission for Photo Art Friday...the theme is "minimalist". I don't know if this is minimalist enough, but it's what I came up with. Minimalist is challenging for me! I tend to go the other way and want to add lots of "stuff". I used Bonnie's "Mother Love" texture at Soft Light/37%. I also used Gradient Map (black to white) at Normal/57%, and the cutout effect at Normal/48%. As always, there were a few tweaks in Radlab.
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
I'm continuing with my Lorton prison photos...today I thought I'd share some images I took of the building we went inside of. The door was wide open, so we couldn't resist. It was very creepy inside...thank goodness there was bright sunshine outside to provide lots of light! Otherwise, I don't know that I would've gone in there...lol. We only stayed on the upper level - there was a downstairs, but my vivid imagination would never let me go down there. The textures and peeling paint inside were amazing, and I loved how the vines had crept their way through the broken windows and were winding their way down the walls. This poor building had major abandonment issues, but my camera and I were thrilled to capture its oddly beautiful state. A lot of my images weren't lined up straight, but this was one case where I think it actually adds to the derelict mood of the photos.
Saturday, January 26, 2013
Well, not really...but they sat on my table and I took lots of photos of them! I'm participating in Kim Klassen's Beyond Beyond class this year. Our assignment this week was to pick an item (or two) and spend a good amount of time taking photos of it without moving the items themselves. The idea was to get different perspectives only by moving your body/camera around the item(s). I chose these two old spoons and laid them out on top of a large piece of Bristol paper in my kitchen. I wanted natural light, as much as possible, and I thought it was fitting that the muted colors are very much like the winter landscape outside right now. This was a fun lesson...it forced me to really study my spoons and think about negative/positive space, shadows, etc., when taking each shot.
P.S. Kim Klassen's online classes are wonderful and I highly recommend any or all of them. It's because of Kim that I learned Photoshop Elements and have improved my photo editing skills. Please click on her name in the paragraph above to see her blog and/or learn more about her! The Beyond Beyond class has already started for this year, but she offers other classes also.
Friday, January 25, 2013
"For ivy climbs the crumbling hall to decorate decay." ~Philip James Bailey
I thought I'd share some more of my Lorton prison photos. These images today are of the building that we eventually went inside of. I'll show the inside photos another day, but the outside of the building was beautiful with its boarded up windows, broken glass, and clinging ivy everywhere. Isn't it amazing how decay can be beautiful in its own way? Here are a few of my favorite shots. We timed our visit to this place perfectly, because the vines were at the peak of their autumn colors.
Thursday, January 24, 2013
The prompt for this week's Photo Art Friday is "hardware". I used this image I took of some electrical boxes in Occoquan, VA. I was drawn to them because of their geometric shapes (and also the fact that they were rusty...I love rust!). It was fun to play with the photo in PSE and see what I could come up with. I used an aged paper texture layer (Saturation/100%), the cutout effect (Normal/50%) and put it through Radlab several times.
Thank you for stopping by - click on the button below to see more great photo art!
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
"My theory is that poems are written because of a state of emotional irritation….A poem springs from emotions produced by an actual experience, or, almost as forcefully, from those produced by an imaginary experience. In either case, the poem is written to free the poet from an emotional burden. Any poem not so written is only a piece of craftsmanship." ~Sara Teasdale
Every winter I always end up writing poems about the winter blues...my poetry always draws out my emotions on any given day. With this one, as the poem started taking shape, I saw that I was focusing on rhythm and that there was a rhyming pattern, too. Like drawing or painting, a poem never comes out the way you originally think it will...it changes shape just like molding a sculpture would. I always just "go with it" and see where I end up. I like that the rhythm of the rhyming words is soothing, like a lullaby (which the poem refers to). I don't often rhyme in my poems, so this was something different.
Surprisingly, my winter blues have been minimal so far and I'm very grateful! I think a lot of that is my creativity, which has been in full swing these first few weeks of January. Being creative really keeps my spirits up and I forget about the bleak, cold weather outside. I've been painting and also experimenting a lot in PSE with my original art work. It's so exciting to see what I'm learning! There is a world of possibilities with merging my own art with digital enhancements.
Also, if things look a little different in here, it's because I finally got the courage to try and change the appearance of my blog. I was so intimidated, but was finally inspired by my blog friend Kim at Picking Poppies (she has a fantastic blog and I highly recommend visiting often). I'm real happy with my first attempt at a customized blog header. I hope to add some blog buttons, too, at some point...baby steps!
For my photo above, I added in the moon with a layer mask in PSE...I like the dramatic effect. I found a moon image at Flickr in the Creative Commons area. The trees are my own photo taken on our street a few weeks ago. Merging the moon and the trees seemed like a good combination for my poem.
Thanks so much for stopping by! If you struggle with the winter blues, be gentle with yourself...take it one day at a time and make sure you find time to do things that nourish your spirit. It really helps.
THE BLUES OF WINTER
Winter seeps in
And I inhale the
Blueness and bleak
A January creek speaks
Fluid as black ink
And the morning sky
Is a worn, wool gray
The bleached bones
Of the oak trees
I feel like
Those bare trees
Struggling to speak
Pleading with the wind
To expel the words they seek
I wrap myself
In June memories
While the hours creep
And my spirit slumps
Tiredly at my feet
Like velvet drapes
Heavy and deep
The moon is a pale pearl
A lunar gem against
Sky's ebony cheek
The January creek
Babbles in the dark
Yearning for a lullaby
For some peaceful sleep.
© Sherri Brannon
Saturday, January 19, 2013
Since iphoneography has become such a huge part of my photography life, I though I'd write about another one of my favorite apps: Big Lens. I absolutely love the effect this app can have on your images. Big Lens is a depth of field app that allows you to zero in on a focal point in your phone image and then blur out the rest of it. You can choose how little or how large you want the blur to be with a pinch of your fingers on the screen. But that's only the first part of the process - it then gets so much better! Once you have your focal point chosen, there are filters you can choose that dramatically affect the background lighting in your photo. And a third great feature is that if you have any sort of naturally occurring "bokeh-like" lighting in your image, you can choose to change the shape of the bokeh. There are multiple shape options: stars, hearts, etc. This app also has a before-and-after preview, which is always helpful.
Here is my very basic process with this app:
The first step after importing your photo from your camera roll is to choose Basic or Advanced editing...I have only used the Basic Editing so far and, honestly, know nothing about the Advanced yet. Once you choose Basic Editing, you will choose whether your focal/blur effect will be circular or linear. You then use your finger on the screen to either increase or decrease the blur (by pinching with your fingers). You can also increase/decrease the blur by choosing Aperture at the bottom of the screen.
Once you have your Aperture chosen, step two is to choose "Filter". Each filter choice will dramatically change the background lighting of your image, while keeping the focus on your focal point. Some of the filters are beautiful and really make your image pop! The "Gray BG" filter can also be very dramatic - it will turn your entire image black and white, except for your focal point. I've included an example above (the leaf with the coffee cup).
The Lens option can be used if, as I mentioned above, you have an image with some natural bokeh already in it. The results can be really nice with the right photo. To try it out, tap on the "Lens" option at the bottom of the screen. You will then see all the shape options you can choose from. Again, this will only work if you have distinct bokeh in your image already. I've included two examples (and apologize that they're Christmas photos). One is of our tree lights, which I turned into heart shapes. The other is of our front porch lights, which I turned into star shapes.
And there you have it...another amazing app in this fantastic world of iphoneography. I hope this has been helpful, and I highly recommend the Big Lens app! It costs $0.99.
Thursday, January 17, 2013
"No one can persuade another to change. Each of us guards a gate of change that can only be opened from the inside. We cannot open the gate of another, either by argument or emotional appeal." ~Marilyn Ferguson
I agree completely with the above quote...change is always internal, and until that desire within presents itself, no outside source will have any impact on an individual. And whether a person is embracing or resisting this internal power for change, it has the strength of a lion! It can go either way. Learning this truth about life has actually given me peace, because I no longer expend energy trying to steer anyone I love in a certain direction. They have their own internal lion and it's their decision on when, or how, or whether it will roar (and from which side of the gate). It's a very freeing revelation about the human condition.
For Photo Art Friday this week, Bonnie asked us to use the prompt "entrance or exit". My gate photo taken in Occoquan, VA inspired both my image and my words! It was fun to make it look colorful and dramatic in PSE. I used Bonnie's "Blue Depths" texture at Color Burn/63%. I also used the "cutout" art effect at Normal/100%.
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
"I realize there’s something incredibly honest about trees in winter, how they’re experts at letting things go."~Jeffrey McDaniel
And here I am, in that part of the bleak winter where I always have to hang on and remind myself that spring is on its way. When the winter blues try and settle in, I have to consciously remind myself to not let them take over...to let the melancholy feelings go on their way while I keep myself busy with things that nurture my mind and spirit. We're on our fourth day straight of damp fog, gray clouds, and cold rain...I'm in desperate need of sunshine! I did catch some pretty shots of some rain clouds that blew through last week during a strangely mild day...they came so quickly and were gone within about 10 minutes. The colors of the sky were so pretty against the bare trees.
Tuesday, January 15, 2013
I love painting and drawing, and I also love Photoshop Elements. Letting these two worlds collide has become one of my favorite things to do. It's amazing how you can enhance or even completely alter the look of an original piece of art in PSE...truly amazing!
A few days ago I painted this floral "B" in my sketchbook...it's very basic and I simply traced an old, copyright-free embroidery pattern onto paper and filled it in with watercolors (I'm no painting expert). Painting still intimidates me, so it's comforting to trace a copyright-free design and simply practice with my paintbrushes. Next, I scanned my painting into PSE, saved the original, and started playing around with duplicate copies to see how I could change its appearance. Here are three different results I came up with. The possibilities are endless!
Monday, January 14, 2013
A couple of months ago, I went for a photo shoot at an abandoned prison in Lorton, VA, near where I live. I had always wanted to go there with my camera. We went right during the peak of autumn, so at the time I put the photos aside for processing while I worked on all my "fall season" images. Then we entered the Christmas season and things got busy...now, here it is 2013 and I haven't shared any of them yet.
Part of the prison grounds have now been converted into art studios, but there are acres of land in the back that still sit empty and overgrown. I never would've visited this area of the grounds without my husband...it was quite creepy, to be honest. We were there for a couple of hours and not once did we see another person. When we got up close (and even inside) some of the abandoned buildings, I could feel the dark history of the place seeping into my bones. Yet, there was also something very striking about the peeling paint, the textures, the weeds growing in odd places...it's hard to believe that decay can be beautiful...but in its own stark way, it can be.
These photos I'm sharing today were taken at what was once the prison's baseball field...the guard tower in the background of some of the photos is a stark reminder that this wasn't the typical baseball field.
Thanks for stopping by and I'll have more prison photos to share in the coming weeks. We actually went inside one abandoned building...we think it may have been the prison clinic. I got some amazing textural photos inside...I was literally squealing out loud I was so excited (even though I was scared to death)...lol. It was the perfect backdrop for a horror movie. I look forward to sharing some with you soon!