Friday, March 29, 2013

Crocus Joy

I finally feel like Spring is here and I am as happy as this little crocus.  Have a great weekend everyone and be sure to spread a little crocus joy wherever you are!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


The same day I was out admiring the contents of my garbage can I also photographed the crocus in the yard.  I took a ton of photos and this was one of my favorites.  I usually don't like to "touch" my photos other than to adjust the levels if need be.  It's not that I don't appreciate when people do, it's just not my style. But this photo called out for this color/black and white effect.

I really liked the composition with the lines drawing the eye up and back, except there was a dot of purple that kept distracting my eye at the bottom left (see below).  I could have Photoshopped it out but that seemed overly invasive.  The photo was also practically black and white to begin with and that's what gave me the idea to just make it all black and white except the central flower.  I think it's OK to have a "style" or a set of rules one tries to follow, but it's also OK to break them some times.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Hog Heaven

When I met John Unger I knew him as the carpenter who was coming to my house to install my new wood storm doors.  The day he came out to the house I was chit-chatting with him on the front porch as he was working.  We were talking about how George (hubby) studies birds and how I love animals when he mentioned that he raises show pigs.  I was immediately intrigued and started plaguing him with questions.  Not only was he not annoyed with all the interest, but you could see he was crazy passionate about the subject.  By the time John finished installing my front doors I had wrangled an invitation out to his farm to visit the pigs.

So the first week of March George and I made our way out to southern Indiana to visit John's farm.  The light was fading by the time we got there and when we got to his house his son told us to head down to the barn.  It had been rainy lately so we sloshed our way down the hill towards a low barn.  As we approached you could hear something that sounded like a mini stampede that would abruptly start and stop.  I knocked on the door and John let us in to a warm, cozy room containing one gigantic mama pig and about 40 piglets ranging in size and color in various pens.  

At first the piglets were scared of us and would nervously run around.  It is amazing how much noise a scared pack of pink and black piglets can make.  But they soon calmed down and a few started to warm up to us.  The pig above kept trying to chew on my jacket when I was turned the other way.

But the most amazing event of the night was watching the 500 pound sow nurse her little ones. At first she was standing but then she very carefully laid down to let them nurse.  And then when they were nursing she made what I would describe as "contented, grunting sounds."  It was an incredible thing to witness. And John told me not only had she nursed her own young, but she also took on another litter from a sow who had rejected her own.  Now that is a good mama pig!

As I was photographing the pigs George and John were talking about feed and what it takes to make a good show pig, and what to do when they get sick, and when they wean, and all the million things it takes to raise a good pig.  If you've got a question about raising pigs John's got an answer.  There is a certain energy around people who are passionate about what they do and John exuded an affection for his animals that was contagious and a wisdom that only comes from years of caring for his animals.  I've never met anyone with such a passion for pigs and it was quite a treat to visit his farm.  Thank you John for such an amazing visit!

Also, anyone who has advice about shooting in dark conditions I am happy to hear it!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

March in the Garden

Last week I finally decided it was time to cut all the dried sedum stalks in the front flower beds.  Every year I say that I am going to leave them as long as possible for the birds but I have never seen a bird eating the seeds. Maybe they do when I'm not watching. 

But as I was saying, I was kneeling down cutting the stalks and pushing them into the garbage bin when I realized it was full.  When I stood up and looked at all my hard work sticking out of the bin I was amazed how incredibly beautiful it was.  I love the color of the white stalks and the muted burnt orange together.  I guess this supports the old saying that "one girl's trash can also be her treasure."

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Happy Birthday Roy!

I made this card for my friend Roy whose birthday was this month.  I have been loving this vintage look that's popular now.  Roy is my neighbor and an incredible illustrator.  His work reminds me of Shel Silverstein and you can see it on his blog here.  Happy Bday Roy!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Aging Architecture - Cincinnati

This building was in the middle of the industrial wasteland I was telling you about last entry.  I feel mixed emotions every time I see one of these old buildings slowly decaying in Cincinnati.  I always feel sad that such a masterpiece was let go.  Someone spent years carving all of these incredible ornaments and they are slowly crumbling to pieces.  At the same time I also absolutely love the state of decay they are in.  One would be hard-pressed to recreate this incredible patina.  Just look at the  colors... the gold and green and rust show through the paint in the most wonderful way.

Of course I can't help but think this building embodies the essence of wabi-sabi and I will leave you with a great quote from Leonard Koren's book "Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets, & Philosophers":

"Wabi-sabi represents the exact opposite of the Western ideal of great beauty as something monumental, spectacular, and enduring.  Wabi-sabi is not found in nature at moments of bloom and lushness, but a moments of inception or subsiding.  Wabi-sabi is not about gorgeous flowers, majestic trees, or bold landscapes.  Wabi-sabi is about the minor and the hidden, the tentative and the ephemeral... The closer things get to nonexistance, the more exquisite and evocative they become."

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Riveting - Industrial Cincinnati

Last week I had a photo shoot in Price Hill and on my way home I stopped in the flat area between Price Hill and I-75.  Some people might consider this expanse an industrial wasteland, but in my eyes it is a photographer's paradise.  There are old rusting bridges, decaying buildings, and piles of industrial materials in barren, gravel fields.

When I got out of the car to take these photos the day felt like a typical mid-western grey winter day. It was cold, the wind was whipping right through my coat, and the sun was only a suggestion of white haze through the clouds.  The feeling was definitely post-apocalyptic and as I wandered around taking photos I thought, "this metal, concrete, and rubber will be here forever - it's indestructible and lifeless."

But if you look closely you see that everything is always changing and the rust was slowly but surely having it's way with these objects.  The lively transformation was at different stages everywhere, from a tiny spot of rust breaking through the peak of a painted rivet to a healthy patina coating an entire bridge.  The effect was undeniable and quite might even say "riveting".