I've been taking photographs of nature for as long as I can remember. Grasslands, mountains, rivers, forests and more, I love the peace that is offered in these undisturbed environments. Often, I'm exploring nature on my own. Then a deer appears, butterflies flutter into a scene, alligators let out a hiss or a roar from a swamp, and birds grace the skyscapes and treetops. I'll never grow bored with nature. But, as a photographer, I want to expand my focus without straying too far from my specialty.
A couple of weeks ago, I decided it was time to add people to my nature photographs. I wanted to do this in a gentle fashion, not intruding on the pristine. I posted online a call to collaborate on this project. The response has been overwhelming. One of the first people to respond was a co-owner of a vintage clothing start-up company. She wanted to model a few of her vintage outfits in a field. We agreed on a location suitable to feature nature and her outfits.
The photographs I share today are from the photo shoot at The Celery Fields in Sarasota, Florida. The photographs are black and white as that meets my original vision of this creative project. The Muse Upstairs will share the photos in color on their product release schedule.
When I see an empty bench, or a bench with two people having a conversation, my first thoughts are, "What stories have been told on that bench? What are they discussing? What have been the moments of reflection?" I see a story, or several in each bench. I have a folder in my photo archives specifically for benches. I revisit them when I need an inspiration for a story.
I have other collections in my archives that serve the same purpose, but none that produce stories more than benches. I like to convert the photos to black and white. This simplifies the scene, eliminates the clutter color can inject. For some, the last statement might seem odd. More detail, more story, right? Not exactly. I want the raw emotion of the location, why the spot was chosen by the character. I can color in the scene with my written words as the story develops from the bones.
I don't always capture the person, or people, on the bench in a photo. If I do, I capture then from behind or their side silhouette. The story develops besed on their mannerisms more than from the details in their face. And, I'm not out stalking people. I'm capturing a single frame of time and I move along.
Once I have the foundation of the story in black and white, I begin to color in the story as I write. The techniques described in this post are a few that I use to inspire my writing. I'll share others in future posts.
My photography has become smartphone pics of my activities in isolation. The coronavirus has made me a more productive writer and a less productive photographer. This past weekend, I needed a break from the writing. I believe that's the first time I've ever had such a thought. Writers want to write when the writing is good. The writing has been good. I felt the urge to be creative in a different way. I needed some positivity.
I saw a free coloring page online, printed it, and grabbed what was available to fill in the lines. I haven't colored in years. As I began, I realized I needed my eyeglasses to stay within the lines. My mind was clearing. No stories, no images. I was focused on filing in the spaces. I was using light colors next to dark colors for contrast. Oranges, yellows, purples and blues, I was using all of the palette available. I was coloring with glitter gel pens. A first for me. I liked the sparkle without wearing glitter all over my skin for days, even after I wash. The kind of glitter that sticks with you from Christmas until almost Valentine's Day, then begins again.
I didn't finish coloring the picture. I needed to let it dry, as not to smudge my art. Gel, like watercolor or acrylic, has a drying period. Not as long a wait, but long enough that I went back to writing. I kept my coloring station as you see it in this photo. Perhaps tonight, I'll color again to clear my head. There you have a photographer's story during a pandemic.
We've been made aware of a few terms in the first months of 2020, social distancing, coronavirus, and shelter-in-place or stay-at-home orders. These terms have unsettled our normal routines and lifestyles. If you're like me, I get a bit stir crazy after a couple of days indoors. I'm not under one of the orders at this time, but I've been staying at home to help slow the spread of the virus during a global pandemic. Every couple of days, I get in my car and drive. I don't typically stop anywhere. The change of scenery helps change my mood positively from a mild anxiety. I drive a convertible. Living in Florida, I'm able to drop the top and benefit from the Vitamin D exposure. I never know where I'll drive. Frankly, the destination doesn't matter. The journey clears my head and helps me focus on rest and renewal beyond the four walls that surround me during isolation.
I did make a stop today. The Bradenton Riverwalk had little foot traffic at the time I was passing the route. Good for maintaining social distance. I parked my car and walked the path along the Manatee River in Bradenton, Florida. As a photographer, I can't resist taking a photo. All I had on me for a camera was my Samsung smartphone, not the top of the line model either. I'm frugal when it comes to phones. Can I talk on it? Can I text? Can I do a Google search? Yes? Good enough for me. I clicked off a few scenes that I'm happy to share. I healed my mind and I'm back within the four walls for a couple of days.
Winter is a time of bird migration in Florida. Here are just a few photos from less than an hour of walking through Perico Preserve in Bradenton, Florida.
Stepping out of the landscape and wildlife photography comfort zone, I participated in a photo shootout offered to photographers by Wild Artistry Co. of St. Petersburg, Florida. Models and make-up were provided by Wild Artistry. Photography and creative editing of the photos below were all at my hands and eyes. This photo shoot has encouraged me to step outside of my comfort zone more often. I'll be doing more event photography and portraits as requested.
On a Sunday afternoon, in late October, I attended the Clearwater Jazz Holiday Festival. Live music feeds my soul and I try to capture that feeling by capturing the emotions of the musicians performing.
On my first visit to the John Chestnut Senior Park in Palm Harbor, Florida, I was quite fortunate to capture the scene of a couple of Nature's Lovers, plus one of Earth's oldest creatures.
Photo location: John Chestnut Senior Park
"A View from Moody Park"
This photo has been selected as a FEATURE on Fine Art America in the Gray Scale Outdoors group.