Monday, May 30, 2011

WHOOPS ... had a blow-out in my knee! What a great, embarrassing kerfuffle (paramedics, ambulance, emergency room). Now must go for an MRI (yikes ... I don't do doctors!), so will be in touch when I'm allowed to sit at the computer again. Have already gone through six books in as many days ... hope my eyes hold up through the seige.


A very happy welcome to my new followers ... will send a proper thanks soon.

Saturday, May 14, 2011


There's no denying the part light plays in making beautiful photographs, and if landscape photography and images drawn from the natural world are what make your heart sing then you're probably already well acquainted with the beguiling soft light of early morning, and the depth of it's layered descent available in the evening hours; each end of night and day so capable of evoking either a subtle, dreamlike aura, or dramatic definition to what might otherwise be just another ordinary image.  

Over the years I've found my personal preference to light leans entirely towards a naturally available source, where I almost always forego the use of strobes, on-camera flash, fill flash, and the harsh, oftentimes unflattering effects of bright sunlight ...  although all of those artificial means of lighting certainly have their uses, and do make for some very wonderfully dramatic images in their own right ... so, first and foremost, it's always the mood your after that counts.  I suppose it's readily apparent I gravitate toward the more romantic end of the photographic spectrum, especially in portraiture, and in still life shooting as well ... where subdued window light (occasionally reverting to a soft, reflective surface to help alleviate shadows), or shooting on an overcast day can give the most pleasing effects.  However, if you're hoping to convey an even a broader, more hopelessly romantic, timeless appeal to your images, or imbue them with that glowing 'light from within' impact ... then the art of backlighting (my absolute favorite) just might be the best way to highlight your subject matter. In photography there is nothing quite so intriguing and delicately defining, as the use of backlight for beautiful imagery.  In it you can find the eternal promise behind every vein on a new leaf ... or in the pastoral beauty of sheep grazing in low-light, their haloed, unshorn bodies partially silhouetted against the setting sun, or in the wonder of glory-bound clouds rimmed by a hidden sun. There is too, the tender, subtle magic of a child's countenance rendered soft and lovely beneath a crown of curls, each tendril (whether dark or light) picked out to perfection. And as well, in the details of old linens and tattered lace held up to the light, exposing a finer view of the handworked hours recording the past ... and, I would be remiss failing to mention the enduring, mystical splendor of the sun in full eclipse.  All of these magnificent sights, and resulting photographic captures, owe their wonder to the 'beauty of light from behind'.  

It may take you a few hours or days of practice to make the most of this timeless art ... but it's a skill you'll never be disappointed you took the time to learn ... and the first lesson in learning to use backlight is to toss away all your preconceived ideas about photographic light shining directly onto your intended subject, and that it must come from behind the photographer ... rather by placing what you wish to photograph directly in front of your light source, ambient or otherwise, with and the sun shining directly (or slightly obliquely) into your lens (many will warn you to beware lens flare, but I have made some wonderful images incorporating it into the atmosphere of the whole). Your second lesson will be to go 'online' and search 'backlighting your photographs' where you'll be able to find several tutorials illuminating the art of it all much better than I could ever hope to.  It may take a few hours or days of practice and experimentation, keeping in mind that practice and experimentation make photographic art, if not close to perfect, then ever so much more interesting and diverse ... especially considering how much easier and less costly it is to discard mistakes with today's digital equipment.    

I'll leave off here by saying ... that the study of backlight is a lasting gift you can give yourself, and one you'll never regret taking the time to learn ... I promise!   Now... give me some mist, fog, haze sheltered sun, and other inclement weather conditions (especially those appearing after a clearing storm) and I'll be off and running, camera in hand, for as long as it takes to capture the ephemeral and fleeting that have the power to vanish as quickly as the 'blink of a camera's eye ... to become nothing more than momentary memories. So, be quick on the trigger finger and keep your eyes peeled for 'the beauty of light from behind'

All images below were rendered by backlight ... 
 1:12th scale miniature display clothing

Antique child's summer dress ... ca. 1860

 Embroidery detail on a 1920's China silk kimono

 Private portrait 

 Detail of an Edwardian corset cover (camisole)

 Skirt detail on an Edwardian, organdy graduation dress ... ca. 1915

 Sleeve and button detail on the same dress

 Portrait featuring antique children's clothing ... ca. 1910

 The Petticoat Ballet ... antique slips billowing in the wind

 Private portrait ... using backlight and lens flare for softening effect

Private portrait ... using backlight to highlight a crown of curls

 Antique crib (cot or lit de bebe) illustratating backlight for atmosphere and illusion 

Isabella's Antique Bonnet ... backlit hair and profile

 Mary at Aine's Window ... Co. Wicklow, Ireland

Photographic illustration for 'The Changeling' (a faery child) ... from W. B. Yeats' poem 'The Stolen Child'

Roses floating in water near a window

'The Mists of Avalon' ... taken in the Scottish Highlands

Old fisherman, almost silhouetted by backlighting ... Port de Nice, France

Friday, May 13, 2011


Minteriors @Pie-in-the-Sky
and Mieke @ petitevictorianrose
Many thanks to both of you ...

Monday, May 9, 2011

A FEW HOURS LATE FOR MOTHER'S DAY ... but a poem worth reading nevertheless.

"The Lanyard" by Billy Collins

The other day as I was ricocheting slowly

off the pale blue walls of this room,

bouncing from typewriter to piano,

from bookshelf to an envelope lying on the floor,

I found myself in the L section of the dictionary

where my eyes fell upon the word lanyard.

No cookie nibbled by a French novelist

could send one more suddenly into the past —

a past where I sat at a workbench at a camp

by a deep Adirondack lake

learning how to braid thin plastic strips

into a lanyard, a gift for my mother.

I had never seen anyone use a lanyard

or wear one, if that’s what you did with them,

but that did not keep me from crossing

strand over strand again and again

until I had made a boxy

red and white lanyard for my mother.

She gave me life and milk from her breasts,

and I gave her a lanyard.

She nursed me in many a sickroom,

lifted teaspoons of medicine to my lips,

set cold face-cloths on my forehead,

and then led me out into the airy light

and taught me to walk and swim,

and I, in turn, presented her with a lanyard.

Here are thousands of meals, she said,

and here is clothing and a good education.

And here is your lanyard, I replied,

which I made with a little help from a counselor.

Here is a breathing body and a beating heart,

strong legs, bones and teeth,

and two clear eyes to read the world, she whispered,

and here, I said, is the lanyard I made at camp.

And here, I wish to say to her now,

is a smaller gift—not the archaic truth

that you can never repay your mother,

but the rueful admission that when she took

the two-tone lanyard from my hands,

I was as sure as a boy could be

that this useless, worthless thing I wove

out of boredom would be enough to make us even.

In the contemporary child's world a 'lanyard' is a woven plastic keyring attatchment ... and, if you ever went to summer camp, you probably made one too. 

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Pencil sketch by Leslie Frazier
In memory of my beautiful, beloved mother ... you are missed beyond belief.


Mothers must draw a subtle line
Finer than any thread is fine

Must firmly hold, but never clutch
Must freely give, but not too much

Must stand apart, but not too far
Must heal the wound, but bless the scar

And falsely speaking, truly tell
And guarding, never guard too well

And hearing, fail to overhear
And fearing all things, have no fear

And loving, love each child the best
Yet not one child more than the rest

Friday, May 6, 2011

How wonderful ... five new followers. Thanks so much for joining in!
Maria  @ pretty thinks ireland
Rosamargarita  @LA TAPATÍA
Kati  @ lasituvan miniatyyrit
Suzanne ... so sorry, I can't find the link!
Catherine  @ Blogger (Blogspot) - lemondecratifdecatherine