Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Shapes of Light

Steps of a castle entrace at the Bled Castle in Slovenia.

This is a type of photo I've noticed catches my eye, as I go through and sort photos and pick my favorites for the blog. This kind of photo I would categorize as mostly about light, shapes and patterns. I could turn this to black and white and the photo would still work and convey a similar feeling. These images are often relatively monochromatic to begin with.

This is in contrast with the other type of photo I often share, in which COLOR plays a huge role, like yesterday's soaps from Nice. Yes, light and shapes and patterns are still important in these photos, but turning them to black and white would completely lose the feel and story.

Just a little observation on my photography for today, that's what I love about doing this blog. It helps me to see things in a slightly different way!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Clean and Colorful

There's no reason that everyday tasks can't be special, is there? How about getting clean? In Nice there were many soap vendors with handmade soaps like these. Such pretty colors, such wonderful scents. A wonderful way to add something a little special into the everyday! I couldn't resist, I bought a sampler pack of little soaps as much for the color as for the scent and the usefulness. Well, maybe more for the color. ;)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Proud Blossoms

A couple more photos from Friday... I think these blossoms look like a crown, when they open up completely. Each little flower unfurling with enthusiasm and pride in its own dazzling beauty. They say, "Ha ha! Look at me! I'm an early bloomer!"
I'm glad I went out on Friday, when these tree was still in the stage of budding blossoms. I love the way the balled up flower buds look like lights in the background in these photos, and show the potential of what is to come. Today the whole tree has bloomed, a sea of white. It's beautiful for sure, but it's less about the individual blossoms and more about the whole tree. The personality of each little bud has been lost in the whole.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Beautiful Brescia

A hidden courtyard invites you to stop for a moment in Brescia, Italy.

Brescia is a medium-sized Italian town about an hour from here. Yesterday morning I had my Italian driver's test (I passed!) and then we headed out for a sunny Saturday in Brescia. Just a new place to explore. Brescia has it's own personality, with many of these hidden courtyards, large doors with stone arches and rock walls partially stuccoed. Every time I start to think, "I'm taking the same picture, over and over again, just in a different place," I realize the subtle differences that give each town it's own sense of place in the world. These little details are what make each town we visit more than just a point on the map, more than just the same thing over and over.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Fleeting, Fragile Spring

Spring has finally arrived in Italy! The flowers and trees and bushes are suddenly bursting with buds. Friday morning was chilly and windy and a bit rainy, but I realized that this beauty is fleeting and I needed to get out there if I wanted to capture it. My particular view this morning was to use a shallow depth of field to really pick out a bud or two amidst a soft background. That proved challenging - hard to focus while the branches are blowing around!
An elderly gentleman walking his dog in the park saw me taking photos of the buds and asked, in Italian of course, if I saw these purple flowers on the ground. He picked this one for me and had me smell it. Very sweet. Very tiny.
Inhale. Exhale. Spring!

Friday, March 26, 2010

For the Look of It

I can't imagine that these chairs are really there to sit on, but they make a fabulous image. I think they are there for the atmosphere, to complete the vintage look of Castello San Sebastiano da Po where we stayed last year. I love the textures and shapes and light in this image.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


Where do you think this picture was taken? Holland perhaps, in a display of how they make wooden shoes? No. It was taken in a flea market in Bergamo, Italy, a town about 30 minutes from where we live.

You never know what you are going to come across when you are out and about, you never know when you are going to run across the unexpected. That's why I love to have my camera with me, to capture these little finds!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Sunday in Milano

Sunday we went into Milan for a short jaunt... I wanted to see an art exhibit, I chose "Goya and the Modern World" and Patrick and Brandon wandered a little bit. It is fun to go into the city, there is such a different energy. I still find myself self-conscious of taking pics in some places, like on the Metro. I need to get over that. Repeat to self: "I am a photographer. I can take photos in any situation. I do not feel self-conscious. I will never see these people again."

Corso Vittorio Emmanuele II, one of the big shopping streets. (OK, there are quite a few big shopping streets in Milan.)

Spring fashion!

We love the Metro. Such a big city experience for us small town folk.

I wanted a picture of me in my simple Italian style (jeans tucked into tall boots, black wool coat) with some of Milan behind me. After a bit of direction, Patrick got it for me!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


The quiet of the evening, after a hazy, gray day on the island of Murano. The water and light in this photo evoke a sense of peace and calm, layering the world in monochromatic hues. This is from our second trip to Venice and surrounding islands, last November. I'm feeling the urge to go back!

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Stories Pictures Tell

Usually I don't have my camera on me when I walk Brandon to school. This day, because I was going to go take pictures of the park in the snow after I dropped him off, I did. I love this picture of Brandon, because of the story it tells. The story of a boy, 8 years old, walking to school. The story of our morning walks on this road to school with no sidewalk, small Italian cars zooming by and other kids on their way to school. The story of where we live right now, with the bell tower in the distance and Italian cross-walk sign. The story of this morning, where it snowed in March and I decided to enjoy it creatively instead of being annoyed by it. All of those stories in one photograph. Amazing.

I have been thinking of the stories of my photos because I've found this fun website, Creative Every Day, which has a year long challenge. The theme for March is stories. I'm finding it interesting to participate and think about my art and creativity in light of this month's theme, and to see what others are doing. If you are similarly interested, check it out!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Castle Views

Since castles, the real fortress castles, were in strategic locations on defensible hills, they also have fantastic views. That was not the purpose of course, it was all about military defense, but it certainly must have been an added bonus of living there! This view is of the chapel in the Bled Castle, with the surrounding countryside. Such green beauty! I wouldn't mind living with this view every day.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Portals to Another World

Strange to go from such vibrant color recently to black and white, but this is where I go today. I like the idea of portals to another place. Doors and gates that are a threshold to something different. I often think about this view as I walk over to Parco di Monza and see this gate and the view through it. A portal to a place of peace and nature amidst the busy, crowded surroundings of Italian city life. Everything just feels different on the other side. Keep your eye out for these portals, you encounter them here or there, and they are special places.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Reflections are Everywhere

Reflection of our family and buildings in the water bottle at a fantastic restaurant in Nice, France. I see reflections all of the time, they are a fun, creative way to capture an image of something.

I'll post additional favorites from this trip here over time but it's time to move on to other places. So many places to visit, so many photos to share!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Walking through Time

Brandon walking on a Roman road in Nice, France. Two thousand years ago, other kids walked on this same road. People came and went on their daily lives. So many people, so many stories, so much time.

There is such a different concept of time and history here in Italy and Europe. When we see and experience things like this road first hand, it makes me feel like we are such babies in the US in a historical sense. Makes me wonder what will last of our country and culture that we have today. The Romans were such a mighty empire, and now all that is left is the remnants and rocks. When you think about it, we wouldn't even have that much left of our everyday lives. Our building materials are much less permanent. The knowledge that has been gained through generations of human history could easily be lost completely, if some gigantic natural or human disaster occurred across the globe.

We are but a blink in the eye of time. Isn't it interesting, what a different perspective just walking on an ancient rode can give?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Colors of Nice

Apartment windows in the old city of Nice, France.

As I sort through my photos from Nice, I'm seeing a trend. My photos of our short time in Nice are all about color... the blue of the sea, the warm pinks and yellows of the buildings, the green of the palm trees and the plants, the bright colors of the flower market, the shades of the special soaps, the deep blues and bright yellows of Chagall paintings. So many brilliant colors, all in one place! Not gaudy overwhelming color, but natural, like the plumage of a parrot. All tropical and sunny. Maybe it was the sun and the spring feel of the weather that drew me to the colors, but I think maybe it's just the personality of Nice.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


If I didn't tell you, you wouldn't know this is a photo of Nice. But it is.

It's a photo of the flower market. The "famous" Cours Saleya Flower Market, so the guidebooks say.

It's a photo of the light in Nice. Light so wonderful that Marc Chagall and Henri Matisse spent much time here painting and creating.

It's a photo of the flowers, so beautiful and just waiting for someone to take them home. I wish we had gone on Sunday, so we could have brought some back home with us.

It's a photo of me. What caught my eye in that moment, on a short visit to the French Riviera. Me, enjoying the light on the flowers and capturing a certain look and feel in my photo.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Evening Window

Evening comes slowly on, the light fading to a beautiful glow over the palm trees. The city, the sea, the trees.

We were back in our room at the hostel in Nice early on Saturday because Brandon wasn't feeling well and wanted to nap. I was trying to capture the view and evening light from our window but couldn't quite get the angle I wanted with the palm tree and cityscape and sea all in there. Until I noticed the reflection in the window, just perfect. With a window to frame it all and give it a sense of place.

Sometimes it takes a problem to come up with a creative solution. You don't think you want the problem to begin with, until you see the solution and realize that you would never have gotten to that place any other way. That's what I see in this image, a much more interesting story than if I could have lined up the palm tree just right with the city and sea. Lucky me!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Blue Coast

We just got home from a weekend in Nice, France with a little side trip through Monaco on the way home. (Sometimes I get a kick about the things I write here, do we really get to do all of these cool things?) It is clear how this region gets it's name of "Cote d'Azur" in French, or the Blue Coast. Just look at that water! This is of the Monte Carlo hotel overlooking the Sea in Monaco. More pictures to come this week!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Art Expressing Spirituality

All around Europe, there are religious images. It would be impossible to live and travel here in Europe and especially Italy without seeing religious art. From a street corner niche to the vast cathedrals, we are surrounded by it. Much of it, while impressive and beautiful and historically significant, falls flat to me in terms of actually touching something inside my soul. It's no reflection of the belief system itself - they just aren't me; they don't reflect my beliefs.

For me, it is often the everday images that reach out and touch my soul - as evidenced by the things I share here. But once in a while I run into something that is both of a religious nature and I feel some connection with - that is this piece of art, in this chapel of the Bled Castle in Bled, Slovenia. I love the simplicity of the sculpture, the light on it, the location it was placed, the surrounding chapel. There is something more real to me about this religious art than a perfectly executed Rennaisance painting. This would be a place I could sit and ponder the nature of the universe or the nature of myself.

Perhaps this is the reason why I keep ducking into churches or chapels, just looking for the one or two pieces of art that speak to me. That give me a greater understanding of why art is so important to spirituality. And maybe a little better understanding of myself.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Travelling to a New Place

A church on an island in a lake on a summer day. Fabulous! It was time to travel to a new place here on the blog, so I am going through photos of Slovenia, from our summer road trip. It's kind of fun! It also makes me excited to go back to Slovenia, we have it on our list of places to visit again this year. This church is on Bled Island, in the lake by the town of Bled.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Perspective is Everything

Last night it started snowing every so slowly, and this morning we woke up to this small amount of snow on the ground. It was still snowing, but it was just barely sticking and the roads were all just wet. No issues with commuting and a very beautiful view, so why was I still annoyed by it? Two months ago I was reveling in any snow. What happened?

I realized that I've been wishing for spring - for warmth and flowers - ever since we had that nice warm, spring visit to Corvallis. And I also realized that the difference in my view of what the morning brought was all internal. So I went for a walk, with my camera, and shifted my perspective. Intentionally. What was cold and wet and glum first thing this morning became beautiful again. It was all in my mind.

It made me think, how often is it our own perspective causing the problems we face? If we take a moment to intentionally shift our perspective, we might be happier. We might find more beauty. We might enjoy the moment more. Try it today, let me know how it goes.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Summer Shadows

This image is about summer. Summer sun and shadows. Summer sports where you are out in the sun. Hot, direct light creating sharp shadows on the ground. Have you ever noticed how shadows change focus? Depending on the light, the subject, the distance to wear the shadow is cast. It's really cool, I've been noticing it more lately.

This image is from the Giro d'Italia in Milan last May.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Leave Only Footprints

"Take only pictures, leave only footprints." Haven't we all heard this little saying about spending time in nature? But as I went through my pictures from Corvallis this weekend I thought of this in a new way... maybe that's what we are doing in life. We leave only footprints in the lives of those around us. The pictures I take are only a visible reminder of the footprints my friends have made on my soul. Thanks to each and every one of you for the things you bring and the place you have in my life!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

A Nod to Spring

When I left Oregon a week ago, the plum trees were in full bloom. I love the pink blossoms that give a sudden burst of color in the sky against the green and the brown of Oregon winter. So today's photo and banner change is a nod to spring in Oregon, and a hope that it begins here in Italy soon. (For those of you who read my blog in a reader, come visit to see the spring-y banner!)

I'm trying to get back into the groove of daily blog posts, hopefully this week will be back to normal!

Thursday, March 4, 2010


Everywhere there are patterns. In our behaviors, our preferences and in the world around us. This is one thing I've always loved about engineering, finding the patterns so that you can solve the problem.

This kind of brickwork is a very common European pattern. I love how the individual squares are used to create these arcs. This image is of Patrick and Brandon's shadows on a street in Bolzano.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Back in Italy

Home again, home again... it's good to be back home in Italy. I had a fantastic week last week visiting with friends when I wasn't working, but it is truly good to get back home to my family and my cat and my own bed. And, it's a nice sunny morning as well, so there is nothing in life to complain about. I hope you all have a good Monday!