Sunday, January 31, 2010

Arched Entryways

This arch is an entryway into the castle ruins of Rheinfels castle in St. Goar, Germany. This is one of the medieval castles of the Rhine River Valley, and you can go inside and explore the ruins a bit. It is very cool to get an idea of what life was like in these castles, it seems like a hard life of defending your territory, cramped and not-so-sanitary living. Not as romantic as we make it out to be today!

I liked this photo because of the scale. You can see Patrick and Brandon inside the arch, and get an idea of just how big it was. They needed to be able to ride through on horseback with flags, etc. so it had to be tall. One more use of the arch, not as decorative as the Rennaisance arches in the Italian courtyards, but interesting just the same.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Hallways with Arches

This is an early favorite, from our trip to Pavia in the spring. I don't remember the name of the Castello, but it had a huge courtyard with these beautiful arcades on the first and second levels. This was the second level. I love the perspective of looking down the hallway as the arches get smaller and smaller. Perspective is a fun thing to play with!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Arches and Courtyards

This courtyard is in an abbey in Verona. Again, more arches. But also of note are all of the courtyards. From the outside, the street view, many cities just have sidewalks and buildings and streets. But once you get inside, it often opens up into these wonderful courtyards. Hidden little places of beauty with greenery or fountains, the ability to get some outside air and sunshine in a nicer environment. Buildings have courtyards, cities have piazzas for the same thing.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Arches with a Fountain

This photo is of the Palazzo della Ragione with the fountain in Piazza delle Erbe in front, in Padova (aka Padua). I spent a fun day there with my sister, on our tour of the Veneto in November. This town is full of arches, there are all of these covered arcade walkways along the streets. It was a sunny day when we were there, but I bet everyone is thankful for them when it rains.

I had an amazing realization about arches this morning... Of course it's not just me, there are lots of arches all over the place because it's part of Rennaisance architecture and Italy is where the Rennaisance happened. Whew. Glad I figured that one out.

But yesterday's post also made me realize that I do show a selective view of the places we visit in my photography. Do you notice graffiti in my photos very often? No, but there's lots of it here in Italy. Patrick mentioned it in his blog post yesterday. So the photographer does impose his or her preferences in the photographs. And, apparently, I prefer arches, with no graffiti!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


I loved this courtyard in the Palazzo Ducale in Genova. I've been looking at the photos I have in queue to post on my blog and have noticed that I have a LOT with arches. Arches inside buildings, arches outside. Arches of gates, arches of hallways, arches of windows. Either arches just catch my eye or they are just everywhere here in Europe! Maybe both. I will probably never be able to answer that question, because you can't really extract the photographer from the photographs to see the true reality. You just see the piece of reality that the photographer saw at that moment. And my reality includes a LOT of arches...

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Finding the Quiet Places

Sometimes in our wandering, down a back alley, I spot something interesting. Some little scene, some spot of color. Something unexpected. I love this photo of a back alley in Burano. It's not the color, which is all over Burano. It's the not the architecture either. I think it's the "looking in" from the outside aspect. Looking through the doorway, looking into the back alley you find this illuminated spot of color, this little peaceful courtyard. You could easily walk on by and miss it. It's almost like it's a secret, something the residents want all of us tourists to miss. A quiet spot of their own.

When we travel, we like to wander. Brandon loves to turn us down side streets and see where we end up. I love the things we sometimes find, especially the quiet places.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Back to Amsterdam

I've had this photo of Amsterdam stuck in my head lately, so this weekend I went and found it to share. This photo to me says "Amsterdam" maybe in a way that no other does. It's the bike, the architecture. But not only that, I love that the bike is personalized. In a place with so many bicycles, a few people went a little step beyond to make theirs recognizable. With flowers, ribbon, special paint jobs. Bicycle as transportation, but also as a means of personal expression. I love it!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Speaking of Unique Vision


Yesterday we went to the Steve McCurry Sud-Est 1980-2009 exhibit in Milano.

What an amazing photographer, able to capture the feel and story of a place and time. Able to capture the essence of a person's soul in his portraits. You feel like you are looking right inside them, and in return, they move something in you.

My goal of photographing and sharing the exhibit was not to reproduce his work, that is already done beautifully in the exhibit website and on his own website. My goal was just to show how they were presented, and how powerful and moving the photographs are. Seeing them large scale and in person was amazing. It showed me something different about how you can experience a powerful photograph.

In some ways, as a photographer myself, it was overwhelming. I mean, in the face of such greatness, why do I bother? But in light of yesterday's post, I remember that I have something to contribute too, my own unique vision. Steve McCurry's vision is beyond amazing, he is clearly an artist of extraordinary talent.

All I can say is... Wow.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Unique Vision

From photographer Rodney Smith's blog, The End Starts Here: "If you were to stand right beside me and use the same camera, you would not take this same picture. It probably would look quite different. This is what makes each person’s photographs unique. It is your take on the world, and is special only to you. This gift is not something to be taken lightly or ignored.

It is why I know more about you when I look at your pictures than I know about the subject. I can look deep into your being, know your vulnerabilities, whether you wish to acknowledge them or not. I can feel your perspective, your orientation, and your feelings. Isn’t it funny how life sometimes feels backwards? I look at your pictures and I see you in them, with a greater clarity than I see your subject."

What a powerful statement on photography. This just completely resonated with me when I read it this morning. I think this captures in an essence why I love photography, and why I feel compelled to share. It's like sharing about me. Sometimes when I look at my photos after coming home, I'm amazed by one or two. I think, "Wow, I really saw that? I didn't even know that was what I was taking a picture of!" But somewhere deep inside me, the real me, saw and acted on it.

And when I combine one of those "wow" photos with a thought on this blog, I'm often amazed at what comes out! Pieces of me that I didn't even know were in there.

So I share one of those photos today, one of those that I said "wow" when I started going through my images later. I was coming up the steps at the old castello in San Vigilio, above the high city of Bergamo, about to exit onto the roof for a view. My own unique vision. Truly the "Kat Eye View" of the World!

Thursday, January 21, 2010


"I like living. I have sometimes been wildly despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow, but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing." - Agatha Christie

I read this quote this morning and it struck me as so true! I wanted to share the quote and chose this picture, a sort of self portrait of me in the mirror behind an Egyptian statue at the museum in Torino. One of the interesting things about ancient Egypt is their fascination and preparation for death. In one exhibit, they showed a tomb of a common man. This guy labored all day building the tombs of the mighty and powerful and then in his free time labored to build his own tomb. His life spent preparing for death.

I think I would rather spend my time alive in living, no matter how messy it might be.


Isn't this the most inviting little scene? The gate is cracked open, just waiting for someone to step inside. There is tantalizing view of the flowers in the courtyard, showing that someone put thought and effort into the space. The purple house makes me think - hey, I want to know this person who paints their house purple and has such beautiful flowers. I want to sit in their courtyard and drink tea. (Of course, this is in Italy, so it would be coffee they are drinking, sadly for me.) I love images like this that invite you in, where you can make up a whole story based on it. They say, "An image is worth a thousand words," but each of us can use a different thousand for the story. How fun!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

La Piccola Rana Rossa

That means: The little red frog. These little guys were one of the exhibits at the Acquarium in Genova. They were really tiny. I loved the bright little spots of color among the green leaves and brown soil, so delicate looking. I'm not usually a frog person, but for some reason this image got stuck in my head the other day, and I had to share it.

Into the Fog

This morning I wasn't feeling good, I am in the midst of a cold. Again. My plan was to walk Brandon to school and then come home, not go for a walk in the park today. Then Patrick said, "You should take your camera." I looked outside at the thick, thick fog and said, "You're right." So I ended up going for a walk anyway to take some photos. I've loved the fog on my morning walks in Parco di Monza and haven't had my camera with me, but today I did. And I feel better for the walk and the creative energy. Thanks Patrick!

Monday, January 18, 2010

To the Sea

This weekend we went to Genova (aka Genoa), on the Mediterranean Sea, about 2 hours from here. It was an interesting port town, with a large medieval and rennaisance historic city center. This image is from Boccadasse, a small fishing hamlet down the coast from the city center. It was an interesting little village with colored buidings, narrow alleys up and down the steep hills leading to the sea. Going to a place like this is such a delight, when you have no preconceived ideas and never know what you might find. Things are often much better without expectations, don't you think?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Love Books

A children's book store in Padova.

I love books. I love to read all types of books (as evidenced by yesterday's post). I love libraries so I don't have to buy books! I still love bookstores and browsing. Even though I don't read Italian, I still wander into bookstores and look around.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Good for the Soul

I have a photography web group I participate in. It's a small group of women who love photography and have come to it various different ways. It's a nice place to share and learn in a safe environment. We have weekly photo challenges as a way to challenge ourselves to look at things in a different way. Last week's challenge was "Good for the Soul." And that was a challenge that stuck with me this week - what's good for my soul?

I settled on this image, these books as good for my soul. I have 4 books and 2 journals in progress. This in itself is an amazing feat. I used to have "rules" that governed my reading. Unstated rules and limits like:
- You must read every book start to finish before you start the next one.
- You cannot have more than one book in progress.
- Non-fiction is boring.
- You do not re-read books.

For journals I had rules too:
- If you start one, you must start with a fresh book.
- You must write in your journal every day if you have one.
- You must have some topic to write about.
- Only one at a time.

I've broken all those "rules" that were limiting me, and that is good for my soul. I read what I feel like, when I feel like it. Sometimes I'm in the mood for my own development, sometimes I want to read about other's experiences, sometimes I'm in the mood for pure escape. I pick up what feels right at the moment. I re-read something if it strikes me. For my journals, sometimes they have a purpose and sometimes they don't. Sometimes I journal about what is going on in my life. Sometimes I journal about a word or a feeling. Sometimes I don't journal at all. It's all good.

Good for my soul.

A couple of little plugs for a couple of books -

- I started Simple Abundance: A Day Book of Comfort and Joy by Sarah Ban Breathnach on January 1. A friend had gotten it for me so that she knew someone else would be doing it at the same time. I'm finding it fantastic. If you want to join along with this little journey - there are no "rules" or expectations of progress - buy the book and let's chat about what strikes you!

- I've started Finding Your Own North Star by Martha Beck at the recommendation of my friend Jenny, of Rising Sun Coaching. She also has a North Star Companion workbook and audio guide that she has created, which I'm really enjoying as I start to go through the book. I highly recommend it and would welcome any one else on this journey as well. Sometimes just knowing someone else is doing or reading the same thing helps keep you moving!

No matter where you are or what you are doing, I hope you are finding something good for your soul in your life.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Taking a Look

This is from one of the first art exhibits we went to here. It was in Monza and was all of these old prints, some dating back to the 1400's. One of our first "wow" experiences with how old everything is here, and before I knew that you weren't supposed to take pictures!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Sometimes it's just Pretty

That's what I think of this photo of Bellagio on Lake Como. Just pretty. Pretty day, pretty flowers, pretty mountains, pretty town. It's nice to just appreciate something pretty, so today here is my gift to you - this image!

There is a note on a 3x5 card on my magnet board I've had there for a while - "There is one action I can take for my creativity daily. What is it for today?" It's a reminder that even when life is overwhelming, work is totally busy, I'm not having a lot of personal time for stuff I would like to do... there is one thing I can do each day for my creativity. And if I do that one thing, however small, I remain more centered, happy and true to myself because expressing my creativity is something that is a need for me in my life.

What I've realized in the last few days is that this photo a day effort has become this "one thing" for me in a lot of ways. Every day, I'm picking out a photo and reflecting on it a bit. I enjoy that, because it's amazing what surprising things sometimes come out by just writing about an image. I get to share it with whoever reads this blog, which I enjoy as well. And it inspires me in other ways - to do a painting of an image that strikes me, to look for more pictures to share, to keep taking photos as we go on our adventures, to refine my eye as I progress in my photography.

So, thanks for being part of my little creative adventure here! I hope that you can also find one little thing today that inspires you.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

It's the Real Thing

Coke. And thankfully, it's the European thing, since we don't like Pepsi. I like this image from Pavia for the overall composition, and the image of the Coke logo (which is everywhere here) along with Patrick studying the map (which is a regular occurence as we travel around). Just kind of symbolic of our time here.

I almost forgot the update today! Patrick just reminded me. Darn those earlier meetings at work, messing up my mornings. :)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Into the Light

I love sihouette shots, and this is a new favorite of Patrick and Brandon walking into the morning light from a tunnel in Disneyland Paris. There is something magical about a shot like this - you don't know quite where the people are going or what they will face, but you know that it's brighter than where they were and has to be good.

After days of trying to get them to upload, I finally got my Disneyland Paris photos in an online album. Have fun visiting virtually, and leave a comment or two! I always like to get feedback.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Happy Monday

This picture just exudes optimism to me. It is beautiful morning in Venice. The sun is shining, the reflections are beautiful and the photo just seems to say, "It's going to be a great day."

This morning I was reading about optimism as a habit. Like being happy, optimism can be a learned behavior. Of course, some of us have a natural bent toward the glass being half full, but that doesn't mean if you don't that you can't see things that way. Because being an optimist means that you are open possibilities and solutions that are out there, instead of shutting yourself into a box with no way out. Today I'm choosing optimism. It's going to be a great day!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Which Way?

Which way out of the labryinth? Hard to tell! I liked this photo from Alice's Curious Labyrinth in Fantasyland. Brandon loves mazes so enjoyed this little walk through adventure. As always, the folks at Disney have some great ideas and make even an attraction you basically just walk through on a path enjoyable.

I'm still uploading my pictures from Disneyland and hope to post the full album of the pics tomorrow. Today I'm also posting the photo of my new blog banner - I liked the lanterns above the Tea Cup ride. I personally didn't ride the ride myself, too much spinning! But it's fun to photograph.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Always a Princess...

I can't help it, I love the castle. I'm going through my Disneyland Paris pictures now and picked out this one to share with you today. I think I photographed the Sleeping Beauty's castle every time I walked by it! But this one is one of my favorites so far, I love this one with the early morning light (yes, we were there before sun-up!) and the moon. How pretty!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Famous Frame

We're back from our Disneyland Paris trip, but one last image from our first Paris trip to send you off from this series. A nice sunset, framed by that famous tower. Au revoir!

Thursday, January 7, 2010


The Musee d'Orsay, the museum of Impressionist art in Paris, is one of the best museums there is. Such an amazing collection of paintings and artists in one place. I identify more with modern art, like the Impressionists, than the classical art of the Rennaisance and earlier. Part of it is the subject, but part of it is also the style. My personal philosophy of art is that it should capture the artist's impression of the thing, not the reality of it. If we want reality, we can do that with photography these days. I love brushstrokes and color and the emotion that the image can evoke. This was the perfect museum for me!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Capturing Light

For a long time, I didn't understand how photography was the "study of light" until I took enough pictures, took the time to see what I was really doing was capturing the light that illuminates the object as much as the object itself. In the same way, I've never really understood or appreciated sculpture as capturing light. It was two things that did it for me, seeing and photographing this work Eros and Psyche by Antonio Canova in the Louvre, and seeing an exhibit of Robert Mapplethorpe photographs alongside Michaelangelo's David in the Accademia in Florence.

Sculpture really is the study of light on a volume, the same way that photography is. But it's in 3D. You can walk around it, see it from all angles, and appreciate the art in a different way. Next time you see a sculpture, whether modern art or classic figures in marble, try to notice how it captures the light.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


One of the things I loved about the Paris museums is that they actually allow you to take pictures, unlike the Italian ones. Usually I don't want to take pictures of specific art, but want to capture how it is presented. I loved this look down a wing of the Louvre. Not one of the famous works of art was here, as evidenced by the lack of people. Just the docent, sitting quietly, and the art iself, waiting for someone to happen by. For some reason this just makes me smile.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Capturing the Feel

While yesterday's image of the Eiffel tower tells you where it is from without even needing to describe it. Would you know this was from Paris? It's more subtle. It's the feel of it... the lamppost, the architecture of the building. Now that we've been there, it says Paris to me. I like the light, dramatic angle and the sky in this one too. It's one of my favorites from our first visit.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Iconic Image

My favorite photos of places generally tend to be the scenes that capture a small detail, rather than the famous buildings and sights that we visit. But I can't help but include a photo or two of the Eiffel Tower. It's been done, and re-done, and done some more... but there is more beauty in this structure than I expected. It draws you to it, and it's no wonder that it's become the symbol of Paris. You have to see it just once, for yourself, to understand.

I couldn't decide on this one though, the warm colors of the night lights or the classic black and white. What do you think?

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Market Still Life

This bright still life is from a market we ran into in Paris during our visit there in September. I loved the sun on this lemon, and the bright colors surrounding it. Why it was sitting there, all alone in its tray, who knows...

Tomorrow we leave for Paris, to go to Disneyland Paris for a few days. After a week at home being wonderfully lazy, I'm excited to go see someplace new, yet a bit familiar. I'm sure I'll have lots of fun images to share after the trip, but in the next few days I'll be posting some of my favorite shots from our first trip to Paris in September.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Blank Slate

A new year has begun, a blank slate for us to write on. I'm not a fan of New Year's Resolutions. What is it about the changing of the calendar that makes us thing that we should do anything different? It is a little reminder, though, that each day is a blank slate. Each day is a chance to write the ending a little bit differently than the one before.

This image from our visit to Castello San Sebastiano da Po this summer speaks of possibilities, of sitting down in the light and writing something new. It reminded me of the lyrics I loved from a song that was popular a few years ago called Unwritten. The lyrics to the song are...

I am unwritten,
can't read my mind,
I'm undefined.
I'm just beginning,
the pen's in my hand,
ending unplanned.

Staring at the blank page before you
Open up the dirty window
Let the sun illuminate the words that you could not find

Reaching for something in the distance
So close you can almost taste it
Release your inhibitions
Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins
The rest is still unwritten.

What will I write this year? I'm not sure, I'm sitting down here at my desk, with the ending still unwritten.