Thursday, August 28, 2014

5 Random Friday Finds

Find No. 1

I found for all the seriousness of life, the candid moments are a blessing. 

Find No. 2

I found a cute guy sitting across from me at supper one night. Finally a nice photo of him so I could update his picture on my phone.

Find No. 3

I found some lovely adornment (Day 23 photography prompt of Susannah Conway's August Break 2014) on the steps of the Wells Fargo bank in downtown Marquette. 

Find No. 4

I found Mallory's first day of Kindergarten photo from September 1998. Celebrating her LAST first day of school this year, unless Grad School some how sneaks into the picture. 

Find No. 5

I found some fun playing in the rain. Slightly missing my From Where I Stand series I did last year. 

Joining Kim for Friday Finds

Thursday, August 21, 2014

5 Random Friday Finds

Find No. 1

I found a scatter picking, blueberry throwing girl in the u-pick blueberry field.

Find No. 2

 I found some lovely rusty bolts on a bridge at Van Raalte Farm last week Friday.

Find No. 3

I found a lovely little tug boat named Martha in Lake Macatawa.

Find No. 4

These are some of the books found on my to-read bookshelf.

Find No. 5

We found just enough time before my girl heads back to college to squeeze in a trip to Captain Sundae for ice cream. A small Tommy Turtle sundae for me and a Salty Dog sundae for my girl.

Joining Kim for Friday Finds

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Morning Light and A New Friend

Last week Friday I had the privilege of meeting another blogging friend in real life, Diane Baker-Williams of A Focused Journey.

We had talked about getting together sometime during the summer since she is a school teacher summer is the only time that works well for her.

She wanted to come to Holland, which is only about a two hour drive from her house. I was more than happy to play tour guide again. Since she deals with noise and chaos in the classroom every day she wanted to go photograph places that were quiet, a more backroads experience. I haven't been out exploring back roads for a while so that sounded like a great plan to me.

Diane was due to arrive in Holland around 9 a.m. and our first destination was going to be Historic VanRaalte Farm. I decided to go out early and do some scouting before she got here since I hadn't been to the Farm for a while. I decided if I was going to go early I might as well catch the morning golden hour as well. There are some advantages to getting up at 5 a.m.

I arrived at the Farm about twenty past seven, just as the sun was starting to move upward creating lovely angled morning light. It had been quite cool overnight so there was lots of dew on the grass and the wildflowers.

As I was out there clicking away with my dslr and my iPhone and posting to Instagram, I couldn't think of one good excuse as to why I don't capture this glorious morning light more often, especially while all the gorgeous wild flowers are still in their prime.

Diane called to let me know she had arrived at our meeting place, so I scooted off to go meet her. I always find it amazing that it isn't weird at all to meet a fellow blogger for the first time, somebody you know only from reading their blog. It is more like just continuing conversations from things you have read about each other.

I brought her back to the Farm and we set off to explore; old barns, wildflower fields, boardwalk pathways, overlooks and a big open field where the sledding hill is in the winter. The whole time we were out there we only saw two other ladies, so we pretty much had the 160 acres to ourselves.

By the time we had walked all over the farm we were ready for some lunch and no trip to Holland would be complete without lunch at one of the amazing restaurants in our downtown. We chose to dine outside on this perfect summer day at The Curragh, our Irish Pub.

After lunch we were ready for more adventures. Our next stop was going to be the New Richmond Bridge, a historic multi-span pony truss bridge, which also happens to run right alongside a lovely to photograph train trestle.

We still had plenty of time left in the day. Diane likes wine, I like wine and we were so close, I decided we would stop at the Fenn Valley Winery tasting room. Wine tasting, you can never go wrong there. When we were done tasting we had the girl doing our pourings take our photo. I happened to mention that we had just met for the first time that day, she couldn't believe that, she said it seemed like we had been best friends forever.

More backroad exploring after the winery and a quick stop in Saugatuck then it was time to bring Diane back to her car and part ways. I had such a great day playing tour guide and making a new friend, we are planning another meet up in the future, probably someplace half way for both of us and new to both of us. I can't wait.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Photographing an Icon

We have all been somewhere on vacation that was famous for a certain thing, an icon.

Take for instance Paris, what do you think of? The Eiffel Tower.

Or London? Big Ben.

Walt Disney World? Cinderella's Castle.

When I go to a place that has a famous icon the first thing I want to do is take lots of photos of it, capturing it from every angle. Always looking for that one unique shot that nobody else has taken.

In Kat Sloma's Sense of Place class material she makes a spot on statement about photographing icons.

"Icons of famous places are irresistible, yet often difficult to capture.
You may be so excited to see and experience a place in person you
can barely contain your enthusiasm as you photograph the icons. You
may take hundreds of pictures, reveling in the excitement of actually
being there. Yet when you review your images later, it is easy to find
yourself disappointed with the results. Why? We've been conditioned
to expect great photographs of icons through the media. Beautiful
photographs are found on postcards, posters, websites, books and
magazines. Icons become icons through many years of extended use
in imagery associated with a place. The images you see are usually
the best of the best, amazing captures created over what might be
years of study by artists and photographers. This is a tough
comparison for the images you capture in a single visit."

I have definitely felt this way. I had no grand expectations when we visited the Eiffel Tower. I was still too new to my camera, and still happily shooting in automatic mode. The Louvre and Notre Dame would have been so much better if there had been less people in my way. 

I did however expect spectacular results when we stayed at Glacier Park Lodge in East Glacier Montana last summer. I had seen many beautiful captures of this lodge and I knew I was capable of getting those same results. What I didn't take into account was the fact that we were only there two nights, that we were busy during the day and that it would be raining on our last morning there when I could have gotten up early to catch the golden hour. 

My one exception to this feeling of disappoint when photographing an icon was when we visited the American Cemetery in Normandy. Even though we were only there for an hour, I was able to capture exactly what I was hoping for and I think that has more to do with connection to the place than the actual photographs themselves. I have always been fascinated by the European part of WWII, and standing in that cemetery creates an emotion that it is beyond words. Also there was a stillness there that doesn't exist at the other icons I have visited, making it much easier to be in the moment and connect to the history and emotion of the place. 

Here is another thought from Kat:

"Instead of attempting to recreate the "postcard shot" try
spending your time and energy on capturing the icon 
with a point of view unique to you."

You can still make an attempt at that iconic shot, but also take shots that are true to your style of photography. For me, as I shared in last week's post, I prefer to shoot subject alone and particularly bits and pieces of the subject. Although as I continue to work through this course material I am realizing the importance of subject in context, at least for a shot or two, to help tell the story.

In the end, embrace your style and shoot those icons in your own distinct way. You will be much happier with the results instead of trying to recreate the picture perfect postcard.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

5 Random Friday Finds

All my finds this week are from the Port Oneida Fair that we attended last weekend up in Sleeping Bear Dunes. It was Mallory's last day of her internship so we got celebrate her hard work of the summer and spend some time exploring as well.

Each year, on the second Friday and Saturday in August, you can take a step back in time at the Port Oneida Fair and experience life as it was in the late 1800's and early 1900's. Imagine the life of the pioneers as you help bale hay or watch a broom-maker at work. Learn about spinning, basket weaving, soap making, butter making, candle dipping, and fur trapping. Listen as park rangers and local history experts share the area's history. Watch as teams of oxen and horses cut, load, and haul hay and artists and craftsmen demonstrate their skills.
The fair is held at 6 of the historic farmsteads in Port Oneida. Each farm has a variety of artists, crafts, food, and activities for visitors. Click on the farm names below to see what's happening at each farm. A shuttle bus runs between the farms on a regular schedule during the fair, so you can park your car and easily get around to the different venues.
Find No. 1

I found a rope maker with a young volunteer assistant.

Find No. 2

I found art in a field. This is the poster for this year's fair, set up on an easel in the actual location where the artist painted the original.

Find No. 3

I found old Bingo cards in the one room school house.

Find No. 4

I found a red-head eating watermelon.

Find No. 5

 I found pottery envy. This potter has been at his craft for 41 years. He made 50 bowls the first day of the fair and had made 30 so far on the day that we were there. It takes him 5-10 minutes to make a bowl. These bowls are for a class at the end of August, where the students get to glaze the already made bowls. I want to take this class! I wish I had patience to learn one more craft, but photography and writing have already taken all of it.

Joining Kim for Friday Finds
Joining Tanya for Willy Nilly Friday 5

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Observations from the Beach

My goal since starting my new daily writing practice, of which I now have four weeks completed, is to do at least one piece of observation writing per week. Trying to vary locations and time of day each week.

I am sure I will get back to my coffee shop writing later this fall. For now the weather is too wonderful to not be outside writing. Each new location has it's own unique story to offer.

This week's observation location is the beach. I love the beach.

I love the beach not for the glory of sunbathing, I have no desire to sweat among the throngs of people, although I do have a strong affection for the smell of Coppertone Sunscreen.

No, what I love about the beach is the early morning hour, the dusky evening hour, the off-season, the isolated locations. The beauty, the calm, the stillness...

The only items on my ultimate beach wish list on this day are the early morning hour, the beauty and the stillness, at least for now.

There is a light breeze and a slight chill in the air. An occasional aluminum fishing boat putters past me in the channel on its way to the Big Lake. I hear snippets of conversation from two ladies on their morning walk, they must be walking a loop because I hear the same voices about every ten minutes.

I arrived at the beach at half past eight, after a quick stop into the nearest Starbucks for my Chai Latte and a blueberry scone.

As I pulled into the parking lot I was pleasantly surprised to find it for the most part still deserted. Although this will not be the case for long, since it is a Friday still in the early part of August and the temperatures are predicted to be in the mid-80's today with no humidity. A perfect beach day.

Having arrived early I was able to secure a prime location, a fairly clean picnic table close to the channel.

I knew I wanted to position myself directly across from the gigantic McMansion that is in its second year of construction. I love the design of the place, the style paying tribute to the Victorian era. It is just so BIG though. I really have no problem with somebody building a place like this, what I object to is where they have decided to locate it, smack dab in the middle of beach going, camera toting humanity. Then just because they can they have evoked their right to limit the access of the local residents to our city's pride and joy, the Big Red Lighthouse. Sure you can see it from the side that I am currently sitting on, but until you have stood on those red steps, looked up and marveled at its beauty up close, only then will you fully understand the true specialness of Big Red.

I am amazed by the people here already by 9 a.m. setting up for a day at the beach. I think I am amazed at that because I don't have that much sit in me. I tend to be a restless one and need to wander  and explore after an hour or so.

A young family of five arrived shortly before 9 a.m., three little boys, mom and dad. I think they have been eyeing my prime location since they keep looking over my way, have yet to unpack their bags of beach goodies and have been here for at least 15 minutes. Well they will have to wait a little longer since I am in no hurry today.

The children are getting restless though since I just heard the phrase "If I have to count to three" uttered from dad's mouth. Maybe they should unpack those beach bags and set up camp for the day.

I love to sit here and watch the variety of boats float past in the channel; small aluminum fishing boats, small, medium and large sailboats, and my favorite the wooden Chris Craft boats. Hand crafted beauties from a by-gone era.

Back to the family of five. Dad has just enlisted the help of a couple of kayakers to get the boys' Wiffle Ball out of the channel. I think it is definitely time to unpack.

Maybe the trick to walking on the other side of the channel is to look like you belong. The hardest part though is getting past the guard in the guard house at the entrance of the association that is over there.

My constant companions this morning are the seagulls. They perch on the rail in front of me, they circle my picnic table, hoping I am sure for a crumb of my blueberry scone to land their way.

The family of five has now deserted their picnic table and have inched closer in my direction with their bags, covering their move by playing a game of tag. Now I just want to state that there are plenty of other picnic tables on this section of beach. Even another set of two just a little farther down the beach and those are just as close to the channel as mine are.

The rebel in me wants to stay here as long as possible just to torture these people, but eventually I will have to leave because of that Grande Chai Latte that I drank earlier.  Part of me wants to leave now to see how quickly they swarm my tables.

Writing at the beach could become addictive, just not at 5 a.m., which is when I normally write. So that would throw off my newly established routine which is still in its infancy and best left to grow for a while yet.

The time has come for me to depart. I return my camera, notebook and pen to my lovely green camera bag, sling the bag strap across my body and trudge through the sand back to my car, all the while keeping my eye on the family of five. I am in my car ready to go and they remain on their benches near the water. Maybe they don't want to appear to be the eager beavers they really are.

I back out of my parking space and decide to do a loop of the big parking lot, thinking they will make their move if they aren't being watched. Also the direction I am going is where the restrooms are located, so it wouldn't seem weird to them that I am driving that way instead of exiting the park. I linger a few minutes on the far side of the parking lot and then start back toward the area where I had been sitting.

Much to my amazement they are back by their car, stowing their beach bags in the back and buckling the two youngest boys into their car seats. All that restlessness for nothing. At least they added interest to my story even if the ending wasn't what I expected.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Glen Haven Cannery

When photographing do you prefer to photograph the subject alone or the subject in context?

This is a question I posed to a friend over dinner last weekend. I knew that he enjoyed photography but we have never really discussed the subject together before.

I am always curious how other photographers see a scene. I think that also carries over to how we see life.

photo credit: Michael Steers
He replied that he likes the wider view, the subject in context. This response made complete sense to me since he does a lot of sports photography (the center #74 in the above photo is his son Nick). It is better to have an individual player or team shown on the field or making plays as opposed to a close up of their face.

photo credit: Michael Steers
He also loves aviation museums, choosing to show the airplanes in the context of the museum.

I prefer to shoot subject alone and even more preferably, only bits and pieces of the subject. This explains why I don't like landscape photography.

A good example of subject alone for me was our recent exploration of the Glen Haven Cannery.

The bright red building with the bold white lettering has fascinated me for as long as we have been coming to the Leelanau Peninsula.

I have many shots of the outside of the building over the years, but none that ever show the building in context with the rest of the town. This photograph is the closest I have come to showing it in context. This was taken from farther down the beach at the Maritime Museum looking back up the beach at the village of Glen Haven.

The Glen Haven Canning Co. was established in the early 1920's on the shores of Lake Michigan near the village shipping dock. They shipped cherries and a variety of other fruits to market through various Great Lakes cities. With the improvement in roads and rail service, the importance of the Glen Haven dock faded, until finally the steamships stopped coming in 1931. The dock was used by private boaters for a few years until it fell into disrepair. The cannery operated until the early 1940's canning cherries from the local area and North Manitou Island.

This year was the first time we had the opportunity to explore the inside of the cannery. There is nothing cannery related inside, instead on display are boats and fishing related equipment.

Even though I would have loved to learn more about the history of the cannery and see antique equipment, the vintage boats, motors and other fishing artifacts were still enjoyable to photograph.

These inside shots are more examples that I prefer to shoot subject alone and bits and pieces of subject vs. the subject in context.

What about you? Do you prefer to shoot subject alone or subject in context?

Linking with Helen for a Weekend Walk