Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Yesterday morning it was c-o-l-d and frosty on my walk in the park. The puddles were iced over, with these beautiful shapes and patterns. So I captured a few, for posterity, and then....

C R U N C H !

There is something so satisfying to crunching a thin layer of ice, don't you think? I don't know, maybe it's just me, but it's one of winter's little pleasures in my book.

Don't worry, I left a few of the puddles unbroken, in case a kid came along. I didn't want to hog all of the fun.

Monday, November 29, 2010


Today I am feeling a bit deflated... things are in transition. I had so much fun in the quest for Thanksgiving, and now the day is in the past. The Mortal Muse blog hop is over, and my postcard drawing is done. I always love the anticipation of seeing who will win them! I think I'm addicted to giveaways. My big announcement of the Find Your Eye e-course is out in the world, with all of the initial excitement that brings.

What's next? Oh yeah, the hard work. I'm not done with the work on my projects by a long shot. Transition from excitement to real life. My November goal of KaNoJoMo was a big success in terms of keeping me focused on what needed to get done and not playing around. Time for round two... *sigh*

So today, here are some pretty flowers from Bath, to sit and enjoy. Because flowers always make me happier, and I feel lighter just looking at them. I hope you will too!

And the winner of the postcards is...
Cate of Moments of Whimsy, all the way in New Zealand! Thanks so much for coming by my blog Cate, I hope you enjoy the postcards.

And guess what... for everyone else... you are winners too because I'll send you a postcard from Italy if you email me your snail mail address! I did this once before and it was so nice to connect with people. I promise I will send the postcard and delete your address, just like last time, so there are no worries about your personal information in my hands. Email me: kat -at- kateyeview.com.

Hey, that made me feel lighter too. Funny thing, there are always things to lighten the load, if we just take a deep breath and look around. Flowers and sending postcards for me today, what is it for you?

Are you ready to Find Your Eye?

(For info on how I processed this photo, see end of post.)
I am so, so excited to tell you that registration for my Find Your Eye: A photo course with heart and soul is up on wishstudio.com!  You can read the description of the course and get the registration details here. Instead of repeating the course description, today I want to share with you the story of what's behind this course, where it came from, and why I'm doing it now.

For those of you who have read my blog for a while, you know what an amazing creative journey I have had during my time in Italy. (If you're new here, you can get a sense of it from my About Me page.) I have come in to my creative, artistic self through my photography and experiences, and I've chronicled each little step and realization along with way here. Being able to say my mantra has taken a lot of personal work: I am an artist, my medium is photography, and I have a unique vision to show the world.

Along the way of realizing this truth for myself, I've realized that this is true for everyone. We all have a  unique vision to show the world. Every one of us, whether we realize it or not. Whether we are able to see it and own it, or not. With that realization, came the growing feeling that I might have a way to help others interested in photography learn to see their unique vision, by tapping in to my experiences. I could help others to gain the confidence and freedom that has come for me, as I have found my eye.

This feeling started to grow on me, and I would jot down notes here and there. Ideas would come randomly during my walks or the shower - you know how creative ideas happen when you least expect them. I started to carry notebooks every where with me to capture these ideas so that they would leave me alone. After a while those ideas started to build themselves into a framework for the class. But not now, I would say to myself, I'll wait until I move back home, to Oregon. 

The ideas didn't leave me alone. I call it my "creative nag." All of the excuses I would come up with for not doing this now, my creative nag would slowly dispel them. Until finally, I relented. Six months ago, I sent an email to Mindy at wishstudio with this crazy idea of doing a photo course that was not like most photo courses out there, from a completely unknown quantity (me), and donating the proceeds to charity. Surprise of all surprises, Mindy was interested and even excited to see the proposal. You can see the result, it's all coming together now...

I have been given a gift, with this experience of mine in Italy. I have been given a gift, by seeing how I can help others find their eye too. It is time to give that gift back to the world, and that is what the course is about. It's not the usual digital photography course. Yes, there will be some on aperture and shutter speed and things like that - more to ensure that everyone has a foundation than to teach these in depth. That's not what I really want to share with you.  The core of the course is giving you tools and exercises that help you learn to develop, recognize and find your eye. Gain confidence in your unique vision of the world, the way you express your heart and soul in photography.

Are you ready to Find Your Eye? I hope so, because the world needs your unique vision too.

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Many thanks to Liv Lane of Choosing Beauty for featuring me as one of her Monday Mavens today with the announcement of my e-course! Stop by and say hi to Liv for me, and look around her wonderful, inspiring site.

Today is the last day to enter the giveaway I have going on for the Burano Color postcard set! All you have to do is leave a comment on last Thursday's post to enter. I will randomly draw the winner and announce here tomorrow morning.

And on today's photo... it is from one of my favorite places - Burano of course!  You've seen a lot of this tiny, colorful island recently. I wanted to share a bit about the processing on this photo, since it's not a straight color photo with minimal editing like mine usually are. I really wanted that blue to pop amidst the colors of the other buildings so I started by using a "color bleach" action in Photoshop Elements to desaturate the colors. I didn't want to go completely black and white with the image, I wanted the pink hues to come through on the other buildings. Then, I carefully erased the effects of the action over the blue of the building using a layer mask, so the original bright blue color would show through. It's a fun effect, and makes for a unique image. 

There are many, many different ways to do selective processing like this. Search "layer masks" or "selective processing" for your photo editing software to find some tutorials on the web.

Oh, and Happy Monday to you all! :)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Improvising Thanksgiving in Italy

Yesterday we had a wonderful "Thanksgiving Day" here in Italy, only a couple of days late as compared to all of our family and friends back home. With 10 people in our apartment, we pulled out the kitchen table to the dining room and every chair in the house was put to use. What a fun time it was! Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, along with Fourth of July, and is uniquely American. A holiday that is all about getting together with family and friends, enjoying the company and focusing on the good things that we have in life. The reminder to be thankful that goes bone deep for our culture, if only for a day.

Not only was the day a great time, the days and weeks leading up to Thanksgiving were a lot of fun too. Putting on Thanksgiving in Italy is a challenge. It takes a lot of advance planning and quite a bit of last minute improvisation. Finding all of the ingredients, as well as making a lot more of the food from scratch, takes advance legwork but the result of a successful day make it so well worth it. And because it's so rare, and took so much effort, we value it a lot more than if we ran down to the store to pick everything up the day before.

Here's a little bit of the challenges and improvisation that we deal with here...

Turkey - You can't just run to the grocery store and buy a frozen turkey. At most you'll find a turkey breast in the butcher's case. Last year on our first Thanksgiving quest we learned that the only way to get a whole turkey was to order it from the local macelleria (butcher shop). This year we ordered the Turkey a couple of weeks in advance and picked it up Friday, freshly butchered for us (although a few pin feathers had to be removed - ever done that before?). The smallest one they could get was 6.5kg - about 14.3lbs. We couldn't have fit a bigger one in our small oven!

Cranberries - Cranberry sauce made from fresh berries is an important part of Thanksgiving dinner, a must have for me. Last year we discovered that cranberries don't exist in Italy - there isn't even an Italian word for them! Try describing a cranberry to someone who has never even seen or tasted one. Good luck with that. We've had them "imported" by visitors in November the last two years. We lucked out in the timing and the fact that we remembered to ask them to bring them for us in advance. So fresh cranberry sauce and cranberry relish was available this day.

Stuffing - A basic staple, this is one of the easier things to find ingredients for. A couple of twists were thrown in though... I put "sage" on the grocery list for the stuffing recipe I use and my husband bought fresh sage. Great, except the recipe called for dried sage. An internet search later, and I had a stuffing recipe with fresh sage and parsley. A quick run to the store for the parsley, and I was in business. (Thank goodness for the Internet, and that it wasn't a holiday in Italy - the store was open!) As I was making the stuffing I realized the bread cubes, instead of being unseasoned, were flavored with olive oil and salt. OK then, just a bit more Italian flavor. The stuffing came out great, rave reviews especially from my son... I want to use fresh sage every time now!

Mashed Potatoes - Yes, there are lots of potatoes in Italy. But not a lot of sour cream. Our friend Mike was making the potatoes this year and wanted some sour cream for the recipe he was making (not a low calorie feast here!). Here in Italy, not every store has the same things. You might find sour cream in one store out of ten. And that store may not have it in all locations, or all the time. It's crazy to us Americans! But my husband has found a good, consistent source of sour cream, so he bought some and delivered it to Mike a few days before Thanksgiving. It takes a village to make a Thanksgiving dinner.

Pumpkin Pie - I usually don't like pumpkin pie but this year I got it in my head that we needed to add this traditional dish. Pumpkin is not a hugely popular food here, you can't find canned pumpkin in the grocery store nor are fresh pumpkins readily available. I had a coworker who travelled here for work in November bring a few cans of pumpkin puree for me. So pumpkin in hand, I needed to make a pie.

OK - first off, crust. Hmmm, I could make crust from scratch but where to find shortening here? Is there such a thing as a pre-made crust? My husband sleuthed around at several stores, asked moms at school, and discovered a pre-made crust but it wasn't frozen and didn't come in pie tins. Our pie tins are in storage in the US, so we had to buy a couple of pans. The closest he could find were torta pans, which are sort of pie shaped, more like a cross between a shallow cake and a pie, and were bigger - 11 inches in diameter vs. the normal 9 inches.

Second, the pie filling itself. The recipe on the can said evaporated milk. Yeah, that was going to be impossible. So searching on the internet I found you could substitute regular milk with no problems. I was set. I started to make the pies Friday night. Cinnamon, check. Nutmeg, check. Ginger... no ginger. Hmmm, well I had Allspice. I figured a teaspoon of that wouldn't hurt. So by the time I was done I had two huge pumpkin pies (it took the filling recipe for three pies to fill these babies) that didn't really follow a recipe. After about 1.5 hours of baking (two very large pies in a very small oven = longer time), our house was filled with the delicious smell of pumpkin pies.

For whipped cream, we had to buy heavy cream and actually whip it ourselves. That was an experience too! I must admit, they turned out very tasty. Much better than a storebought pie, I think I actually like pumpkin pie now. And it only took one giant pie to feed our 10 people, so now I have to figure out what to do with this second giant pie... to work I think! My Italians colleagues could use exposure to this American treat.

In addition to all of that food, we had a yummy spinach casserole, brownies and blondies, salsa and guacamole, hummus and pita... all brought by our guests. And the perfect complement was the Italian prosecco (like champagne) and red wine we enjoyed. I think that tradition of Italian beverages must go home with us.

Our second and last Thanksgiving in Italy was a success. It was a truly authentic, American feast with great friends. The only thing missing was the long weekend....

Where ever you are in the world, however you celebrate being thankful, I wish you the same feeling of gratitude and togetherness that Thanksgiving brings to me. Happy Thanksgiving from Italy.

(Don't miss the "We are Thankful" blog hop and my postcard giveaway - both are still going on! And I'm musing on "Down Low" over at Mortal Muses today. Come by and say hi if you have a chance.)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Random Radishes

This morning I came to the blog... and had no idea what to write. So I just looked through my photos and picked this one of radishes. Kind of random, but I love radishes. Both the taste (the stronger the better) and the pop of color they provide. This bunch was spotted outside a fruit and vegetable market in Bologna. There is something so wonderful about a storefront lined with boxes of fruits and veggies. As if there is so much abundance it has to spill out onto the street and get in the way of passers-by.

I hope everyone has a great weekend! There is still time to join the giveaway and blog hop that started yesterday. Come on by!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thankful for YOU!

Yes, you. No, don't look behind you. If you are reading this, I'm talking to you. I want to thank you for joining me here. Thank you for reading my words, commenting on the blog, dropping me a note via email, visiting me on Mortal Muses, liking me on Facebook. Even the lurkers who read via feed - I see my stats, I know you are there. And I'm thankful for you. The stats are not just numbers, they are connections. Each time I post, each time you visit, we connect. Thank you!

This blog and the interactions with you all in the online world have brought me so many wonderful things - it truly has been an amazing journey. Today I want to not only share my image and words, but a little something "real" with you too. To thank you I'm going to giveaway some of my new postcards, the Burano Color set. To win, leave a comment here on the blog through Monday. I know it's a holiday weekend in the US, so I'm giving you some extra time! I'll do a random drawing and announce it on Tuesday.

(You can find more info on the photos I used for the Burano Color postcard set in the following posts: Color is Like Music, Be Still My Heart, What do these colors make you think of?, Complimentary Color, Color and Texture)

Now it's time to Hop! Link your blog in below, and join us in visiting blogs from all over the world. (If you want to display the link tool on your blog too, grab the code here.)

Oh, and by the way, thank you!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Seeing History

Through the Ages

After all of the color lately, here is a little relief for your eyes. A scene right out of history, you can practically go back in time. Can you just imagine, the Venice of old? It is such a unique place, I think it's easier here to lose myself in history than almost any where else, especially in black and white. Removing the color minimizes the distracting modern details, like the scaffolding on the building or the tourist's clothes in the gondola. It becomes a photo of place and not of time.

A bit of contrast as compared to yesterday, no? When I took yesterday's photo I was thinking of a title something like, "So Bright it Hurts." Heehee.

Is everyone ready for tomorrow? It's not only Thanksgiving in the USA, it's the Mortal Muses "We are Thankful" blog hop! Join us from wherever you are in the world, as we hop around and visit blogs to see the reasons you are thankful. I've got a special surprise for you here too, so please come by!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Pieces of the Puzzle

In the last day, I learned something new. Another piece of the puzzle that is me, my creativity, my art fell into place. I started to see how the exploration of other art provides insight into my own. Influences my own. Directly.

In September, during my solo weekend trip to Paris, I recognized that I was really drawn to colorful abstract paintings. In a post on that observation, I wrote:
What does this mean for my art, my view of the world? What does the appeal of color and form and abstraction tell me? I don't know now, but I do know it will show up in some way.
Well, here it is, in the form of the colorful abstract images I captured in Burano a couple of weeks ago. My desire to capture color for color's sake, the interest in the color and form as the primary elements of the photograph.

I've known for some time, that seeing art in its various forms has been a huge influence on me during my time for Italy. I've known that this is an important part of my creative journey. I've just never recognized the direct link between the two like this - the viewing/observation of an interest in other art and then the relationship to it in my own.

I think many people believe that my creative inspiration is all Italy. "Of course your photography is beautiful/great/improving, you're in Italy!" I hear. But I know that's not true. Being in Italy has helped me for sure, but only because it's caused me to take an active role in exploring and observing and creating, and then learning from it all.  I believe that you can too, no matter where you are in the world.

I Colori di Burano / The Colors of Burano

I mentioned that on this latest trip to Burano I was attracted to color for color's sake, and this little mosaic captures a few of those images, to show you what I meant. Such interesting colors, broken only by texture and a few forms and shadows. Even more interesting, when grouped together, to show the variety of it all! Burano is a candy store for photographers who love color.

When I finished this mosaic, my brain immediately saw a cover page to something, although that wasn't the intent when I started. Maybe a calendar? I made a mental note on this as a project for next year, when I return to the US. For now, there are too many images to capture in Europe!

Along with this mosaic I must give a little thanks to Kim Klassen for the square mosaic template, which she posted in the Photoshop Test Kitchen. I am loving the Test Kitchen! It's a membership site that I joined because I liked the idea of a place where tutorials and things were posted on a regular basis, so I could pop in and learn something new when I had time rather than commit to weeks-long classes. I love Kim's videos, they are bite-sized mini-classes on using Photoshop.  This weekend I watched a couple and learned some tips on making a (better) blog button, and using the high pass filter for sharpening. Along with downloading this mosaic template, I downloaded all of her past freebie textures, which she offered up to members. Fantastic! If you are interested in learning more about Photoshop or Photoshop Elements (which I use), I highly recommend visiting Kim's site and checking out her Photoshop Test Kitchen.

Apparently I had time to play this weekend because yesterday, after posting this photo on my blog, I decided that it would look good with some textures. Again, reaching into my toolbox from Kim, I used some of her textures and created this version. I like this one - it conveys the mood and the age of this place better than the original. The "recipe" I used (textures and blending modes) can be found here.

I hope you had time this weekend to play too!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Shall we Play a Game?

Something to do, on these cold and rainy winter days, like today. I recently learned to play chess, from my son. I enjoy it, even though I'm not very good. This photo from Marksburg castle in the Rhine River Valley, reminds me that this is a game that has been played for centuries. I can imagine the people of medieval times in this nook in the hall, concentrating and passing the time with a game on a long winter's day. (Although in my imagination I'm guessing the people are much cleaner than they actually were.)

Today I will say to my son, "Shall we play a game?"

Enjoy your Sunday!

The World is a Canvas

Wandering the back alleys of Burano, I found this. Sometimes I wonder, do the people who leave these things out, for me to see, know what they are doing? Do they see what I see in them? The fusion of textures, the contrasts, the repetition of color? Sometimes I think they do, and I am lucky enough to see it with them. Sometimes I think no, this may just be a chair someone set here, to sit outside their house on a summer evening. I wonder.

This morning I picked up Eric Booth's book, The Everday Work of Art, for the first time in a long while. Here is something I read on this topic:
The moment we see that the world we inhabit is not just a sequence of hard, dead surfaces with fixed absolutes, but that it also can be seen "as if" it contains many non-logical truths, many mysteries, we head into a better future. The "as if" transforms artifacts into live media for the work of art.
I don't quite know if that makes sense outside of the context of the book, but I see it in this photo. This chair, in this location can be a place to sit, or it can be seen as a work of art. How do you see the world?

Thursday, November 18, 2010


I am musing on the theme Thankful over at Mortal Muses today, but I also wanted to share the same photo here on my blog with a little bit more of the story, and why it inspired me to write that post. This photo is from Torcello, one of the islands in the Venetian lagoon. Our first visit to this island was on this most recent trip, it's a short vaporetto (boat) ride across from Burano, but I was always so focused on the colors of Burano we never took the time to go. It is the first island that was settled in the lagoon and also one of the least visited. It boasted a nice walk along a canal, a couple of bridges, two churches and several souveneir vendors getting ready to pack it up for the season and offering great prices.

It also had this fabulous building. Dare I say it - the perfect building to photograph. I enjoyed capturing it from several angles but when I reviewed the images in my computer, I was just completely overjoyed with this one. It is perfect, to me. For some reason, it just has the meeting of texture and composition and place that I love. This one sings. It is my eye. I knew when I saw the building and photographed it I would capture something interesting, but did not expect the reaction I had to this one.

I don't know that anyone else will see it the same way as I do. It doesn't really matter, because this photo illustrates why I love this art form. The fusion of vision and moment and experience that begins with the seeing, continues through the capturing, strengthens in the review and then is completed by sharing the end result with all of you here. There is magic in this process. I love it all.

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The third of my "Lessons from Abroad" article series is posted on the Rising Sun Coaching blog. Check it out and let me know what you think!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

And the winner is...

Today's photo is another one from the foggy morning we had on Thursday. I love the look of the end of autumn in Parco di Monza here, the colors still bright but the leaves are sparse on the trees and thick on the ground. Not only have the trees mostly lost their leaves, but the fog has arrived and the air has a decided chill to it... winter has arrived here in northern Italy.

But I have a bit of summer to give away today!  The winner of the flower postcards is... EVA of the blog to be determined!

Thanks so much for all of your comments and feedback. I learned there are more ways to read a blog than I had really thought about, and I also learned that some changes are just not noticeable. In a lot of ways, that's a good thing! I want this place to keep the same look and feel every time people visit, while also being able to update and upgrade as new features come along.

So I'll give you a little blog tour of what's new in the last couple of weeks...

1. Find Your Eye E-course tab - I added the tab with a teaser a couple of weeks ago and filled in the course description this week. I am so excited about this course, I've been working on developing it for months and am in the final throes of completion (hence, the need for KaNoJoMo). It will start January 9 and will run 6 weeks. I'll tell you more about it in the coming weeks! Registration will open soon at wishstudio and I'll let you know when that happens too.

2. I put my last name on my profile. This may seem like a silly minor change, but to me it's about owning my work and bringing my whole self to this space in the virtual world. My full name was appearing in other places I was writing online, so why not here, in my own space?

3. You can follow these links to easily subscribe or find me in all of these places. Before, I had a badge for Facebook, a badge for Flickr and the Followers block on the sidebar. When I wanted to add Twitter, I needed to free up space and make them all easily visible. Since you already follow me in one way or another, you probably don't even notice this space.  Pretty soon I'll have blog buttons available for my Find Your Eye e-course and for Exploring with a Camera to share that will use some of this space too... Watch for them!

4. I added a "Search" box for the blog. I only post the Top Labels on the sidebar, and go through and periodically add and remove based on the labels I've been using, so this search bar lets you easily find things on the blog that aren't available as Top Labels. If you want to see photos from say, Paris (which is not one of the top labels), you can type that in and find all of the posts that reference Paris. I don't know if anyone else will use it, but I've been writing this blog long enough, I've discovered that I can't even find things all of the time. :)

5. The "Join In" section is not new, but I wanted to highlight that I change things here periodically, depending on what's going on and what I personally participate in. Coming up VERY soon is the Mortal Muses "We are Thankful" blog hop. More information is available here or if you click on the image in the sidebar. I hope to see you in the hop!

For those of you who wondered, I changed the blog header in mid-September (the subway image is from my last trip to Paris) and added the tabs sometime this summer (I actually can't remember when anymore). The color of the tab section changed when I changed the header image in September, probably making it more visible now that it's orange.  Thanks so much for participating and leaving your comments! I learned a lot. And if you are sad you didn't win, there are more postcards that will be given away... since I finally got my order. :)

I will not be posting on the blog for the next week, I have a seriously intense week of work this week and will not even be online starting tomorrow. Another reason for KaNoJoMo! (I managed to not join anything this week, even though there were a couple of temptations along the way.) That also means that the next Exploring with a Camera will be delayed for a week or two until I can get things caught back up.

So with that, I wish you a great week, and you'll hear from me later!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Colorful Expressions

While it is wonderful to travel to new places, it is also nice to go back to places you love. Places that inspire you in some way, that sing to your soul. I have been so lucky to be able to visit the Venetian lagoon so many times. It is a place like that for me. And every time, I seem to find a different focus for my photography. I am in a different place in my life, my creative development, and I see different things.

This time, in Burano, it was all about color and form. Color for color's sake, how color and shape and light come together to make a beautiful composition. The primary colors of the interior of this boat, are just one example. I could see beyond the colorful canal vistas of the houses lined up in a row, the lace shops, the bussolai (which are the yummiest cookies ever!), to see some of the most wonderful details of colorful expression to be found.

Think about that... if you are always traveling to new places, you don't get to uncover the layers of the places you love. A trade-off that must be made, one of the hardest, I think!

By the way, the postcards arrived yesterday! Yay! You still have time to go comment on yesterday's post and enter to win them. I'll pick and announce the winner tomorrow, and tell you all about what's new around my little world here.

Friday, November 12, 2010

What's new? (Giveaway time!)

Yesterday was the first really foggy morning in Parco di Monza of the season. I love fog, how it blankets everything and slowly reveals more as you move through it. I like this photo, which gives a hint of what the day is going to become, all sun and blue sky, while still showing the deep fog that exists down below. Maybe it's an analogy for the direction in our lives, when we are having trouble seeing where we might be going. Instead of looking forward, try looking up.

I'm inviting you to take another look today too. I know many folks use blog readers - I do! - and don't visit my actual site that often. I've made a number of changes lately, and so I'm inviting you to come by and take a look!

To motivate you, I'm going to have a little contest too... Come explore the site a little bit, then leave a comment with what "new" thing you specifically like on my blog, to enter to win. Contest will end on Sunday morning, 7am my time, and I'll randomly select a winner from all of the comments that include something specific. If you are new to my blog, just comment on what you liked the first time you visited! I would love to hear your thoughts.

What will you win? Hopefully, a set of postcards, either those pictured below or one of my new sets, if they arrive soon! I ordered more postcards in September (I still owe some to a few of you, I haven't forgotten) and they have been lost in the mail twice. I know, I wouldn't believe it either if it hadn't happened to me. So they should be reprinted and mailed this next week and I'll be able to get them out to you. If they don't arrive in a timely manner, I'll find some other interesting Italian thing to give away to you. I have some ideas brewing!

So it's kind of like a mystery giveaway - either the postcards or something behind door number two!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Share Your View: Frame within a Frame

This perfect frame within a frame image presented itself to me last weekend in Burano. Have you been seeing frames all week too? Now's the time to Share Your View! Link up to your image, recent or archive, using the link tool below. Then we can hop around and enjoy all of the marvelous frames that the world has to offer. I'm looking forward to seeing through your eyes this week!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Shadow Focus

I'm musing on shadow bokeh over on Mortal Muses today, so I thought I would share this companion photo of shadows in focus here. Light is such a wonderful thing, don't you think?

Monday, November 8, 2010


"There are only two ways to live your life.
One as though nothing is a miracle. The other as though everything is a miracle."
- Albert Einstein

This quote has popped up in more than one place for me lately, so it gave me pause as I read it again this morning. I like the idea of the second way - that everything is a miracle. Look at the beauty that is around us, all day, every day, when we stop to look. The beauty that can be found in a rotting door, peeling paint, corroding metal. I love it.

I think that artists in particular must live in this way - that everything is miracle. How else would you be able to create, if you could not first see the world around us with a sense of amazement? That each thing is a gift - the bird's song, the turn of phrase, the peeling paint, the situations we find ourselves in. How can we choose to use that gift? Easier to think about when it's taking a photo of a door like this in Murano, harder when we find ourselves in a difficult situation with another person. 

I don't know the answer to that yet, but I like the idea of miracles much better than the alternative.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Can I Resist?

I'm having a heck of time this month. You see, I'm a joiner. And there are all of these things to join in November, just calling to me! But I'm trying to resist, because I have a busy month that includes a lot of personal projects I want to do, instead of joining something that doesn't get me closer to my goals and dreams.

It started with Art Every Day Month, which looks so fun. I mean, I create most every day anyway in some way, this is right up my alley. But I'm resisting, because I don't want to focus my creative inspiration and efforts just to meet a self-imposed deadline every day when I have so much else going on.

Then there is NaBloPoMo, National Blog Posting Month, which inspires you to write a post every day on your blog for the month of November. Hey, I do that most of the time anyway! But not committing this month, which includes visitors and travel and the busiest, longest work week of my entire year.

Along the way I ran into 30 Days of Gratitude. What a wonderful way to uplift and celebrate the month of November, than to be grateful, for 30 days? But then that focuses me on one specific topic... and again a whole 30 days of commitment to it. Can't do it.

On my internet wanderings I bumped into Digital Detox, which sounds like a wonderful week long little way to simplify your life if you want to participate, and then November in Black and White. Hey, I love black and white photography. But wait, that would commit me to a whole month of it. Right now, when I have other things I'm focusing on. OK, so no.

Thank goodness I don't have any idead for a novel, or NaNoWriMo would be calling to me too.

I hadn't realized that I was such a joiner until I find myself struggling to resist joining in to all of these things. The communities they create are so fun. The things you gain by doing these activities is so worthy. As I read some of my favorite blogs I feel like I'm looking longingly into the windows of people at a party and I'm outside in the cold. But I remind myself, no, I can't put myself through this right now. Because for me, what's worse than being outside looking in? Joining something and then not being able to follow through. I beat myself up, because I committed to something, darn it, I should follow through. Instead, I'm choosing to stay sane this month, without adding extra pressure.

So to satisfy those urges to join, I've decided to create KaNoJoMo - doesn't that sound fabulous? It stands for Kat's Non-Joining Month. This month, I am not going to join or commit to anything that is not on my personal priority list. I am going to resist, walk away, focus on my own stuff in the limited time I have available. I'll just wave at everyone else through the window as I walk by, give them a thumbs up to let them know I support what they are doing.

Want to join me? Haha - I tricked you! You can't join me! That's the idea, no joining. It's a personal decision, one you can make too. No monthly or weekly or daily challenges or commitments to other projects if that is not right for you. Only commitments you make to yourself. You don't need to announce it to the world (as, ironically, I am doing), you just have to make a personal choice.  You don't need permission from anyone else but you, and you don't have to apologize to anyone for not joining.

Week 1 of KaNoJoMo is already over, and I survived without joining anything. Whew. Only 3 more weeks to go...

Today's photo is from Saturday evening in Venice. *Sigh* I love Venice. Still.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Images and Words

If an image is worth a thousand words, why do I find myself writing so much? This is an interesting quandary I have found myself in... As my passion for photography has increased, so has my need to express it. Not only in images, in words. Where I took the photo, why it caught my eye, how it makes me feel, what I've learned from the experience, how you can do it too... writing, writing, writing.

The surprising thing, to me, is that I have discovered that I enjoy it. I like to write. I like to find the words to express myself, to bring an idea into reality. To help someone understand something new, maybe see things in a different way. I never though of myself as a writer, yet here I am writing, almost every day. I think I'll add it to my little "I am" statement...

I am an artist, a photographer and writer, and I have a unique vision 
to share with the world.

It feels a little weird. Like a new style I'm trying on, one that looks good but I'm not comfortable with it yet. I think I need to wear it a little while and see how it feels before I go off and change my "About Me" page. :)

Speaking of writing, what brought all of these thoughts to my mind -  my second article for Jenny of Rising Sun Coaching is now posted over on her blog. If you are interested in learning more about how I found my passion and purpose during my time in Italy, and how you can too, then give it a read. 

See you next week! We are off traveling this weekend. Venice again, the in-laws are in town for a visit. I know, rough life. :)

Exploring with a Camera: Frame within a Frame

"Frame within a Frame" is a compositional technique that I've had on my mind to share here, but was waiting for the perfect "frame" shot to lead off with. I found it in this shot from Bologna, looking through a bridge window into the buildings and canal beyond. Now that I'm writing this post and reviewing my archives, however, I am seeing that I use this technique more than I thought!

Frame within a Frame works for a couple of reasons:

  • First, it serves to focus the eye of the viewer on a specific subject. When you look at a frame within a frame photograph, you are usually drawn directly to the frame and what is inside of it. Then you kind of visually take a step back and take in the whole of the image. In the photo above, you are immediately drawn to the jumble of windows and walls and the distant bridge within the frame. Then you back out and see that you are looking through a wall with graffiti.
  • Second, it provides context for the image. You are looking through one thing - the frame - into something else. You have a better feel for where you are, as the viewer. It places the viewer of the photograph into a slightly different role. Instead of just looking at the photograph, they are looking through the photograph, from the frame into what is beyond. They are immersed in the image more completely. 

The "frames" that are within photo don't have to be windows, although these are used to good effect. Basically you are looking  for anything that serves to contain or frame the subject. The nice thing about a frame within a frame is that it doesn't have to be a straight line! The edges of our photographs are typically straight lines, with rectangular or square shape. Compositional frames we can use within our photographs can be any shape, from natural or man made.

In this image the eye is immediately drawn to the subject framed in the "white" of the overexposed window, and from there you move into the room to get the context of the boy (my son) standing at this very large window.

In this image from Padova, the subject is the bookstore, but the context is provided by the frame of the store window at night. The person walking by serves to punctuate the fact that we are looking into the store from outside.

I find that I use arches all of the time in my photography to frame a subject. It helps that they are almost everywhere in Europe! An arch is a nice contrast to the rectangular shape of the photo, as shown in this image from Brescia.

And here is one from Marksburg Castle, in the Rhine River Valley of Germany. This arch frames both a near and far vista, looking down the Rhine. It shows the strategic view the castle had of the surrounding area.

Yet another, this time an arch internal to the building, at Casa Battlo, in Barcelona. This arch frames the beautiful lines of the staircase curving upward.

Don't ignore the good old, square doorway though! This doorway serves as a frame, giving more depth to the alley beyond and leading your eye right to the window at the end.

Natural elements make great frames. I think you can probably conjure up images you've seen or captured looking through trees at a distant object or vista - the trees are the frame. The palm tree in the image below from Split, Croatia serves to frame the subject of the lighted building while also giving the context of where the photo was taken from, the waterfront promenade. I have photos of this building without the palm tree, and they are not as interesting as this one.

This may be a familiar photo to you, as I've used it in Exploring with a Camera before. The branches of the trees arching over and hanging down to the water, along with the reflections completing the the arch below, serve to frame the path and draw your eye right along it to the water beyond.

Finally, here is a more literally frame within a frame from Bologna. Instead of looking through the frame, you are looking at what is inside the frame. It takes the random jumble of advertising, ties it together and gives it context. It becomes street art on it's own.

So, now that you've seen a few examples of frame within a frame, how can you use this compositional technique?

  1. The easiest place to start is to look for the obvious in our everyday lives - windows and doors. Look at these as frames. What do you see when you look through them? What do you see reflected in them? Consider the point of view from both sides of the frame - looking out and looking in.
  2. Expand beyond the obvious to look for other opportunities for frames in our everyday spaces - hallways, mirrors and furniture are a few places to start. What other ideas can you come up with?
  3. Look for frames in architecture. As with arches, architectural elements can make great frames for something beyond, as well as provide the context of where you are at when you take the picture.
  4. Look for frames in nature. Trees make great frames, what other natural elements can you use to highlight your subject?
  5. Try changing your focus point and exposure - focus on the frame as the subject, focus on the image beyond the frame as the subject. What works best? Why? For many of my Frame within a Frame images, I have done both and then picked the one that had the best feel.
Chances are you are already using this compositional principle without thought, as I was. Take a look at your photos, and see where you have used frame within a frame and what effect it had. Keep an eye out, notice how it is used in the images you see around you everyday on the web, in print, in TV and movies. Try to consciously use it this week if you can. Next week, you can come back and share your view here, I can't wait to see what you've captured!

P.S. I am no longer going to be using the Flickr group for sharing, it just hasn't gotten any traction, probably because I'm not loving it. We'll continue with linking in to the Share Your View follow up posts instead! If you have suggestions for other linking tools, please let me know. I'm looking at trying some different ones. Thanks for your participation!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

What am I Doing?

"If you do what you've always done, you will get what you've always gotten." 

This quote, by either Anthony Robbins or Zig Zigler from what I can tell by some brief and wholly inadequate internet research, is what I'm pondering today. It makes so much sense, it is so clear. I read it and say to myself, of course, how would I get anything different if I'm always doing the same things?

Why then, do we so often stay with doing what we've always done? What keeps us there, when we dream of getting something different out of our lives? I think it's fear.... of failure, of losing something we already have, of being uncomfortable, of the unknown. If we change, try something new, put ourselves out there, what we get might be... worse. Better to stay with what we have. 

But what if we get something better? What about the successes, the new wonderful things, that might be waiting for us if we change? So easy to forget about that, to brush it under the rug of fears we keep ourselves stranded on. Don't leave this comfortable, warm little rug for the big, bad cold floor of life.

Am I doing what I can, to get something different out of my life? That is the question I'm asking myself today, trying to move off of my little rug.  How about you?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Portland Photowalk: The Report

Our photowalk in Portland on October 10 was presented with two major obstacles: The Portland Marathon, and rain. Now, you would think in a place that is known for it's rain, that would not deter anyone. This was before my Exploring with a Camera: Rain post though! Life, traffic and rain got in the way and we had quite a few cancellations.

So it was down to three of us: me, my sister Laurie (in town visiting me for the weekend), and Jenny of Sugarsnap who had helped me plan the walk. We met at a Starbucks in NW Portland and then, juggling umbrellas and cameras, we went to see what we could see. It was a beautiful neighborhood, with fall just starting to show it's colors. I enjoyed capturing the beauty found in the rain, and chatting with Jenny and Laurie as we walked around. And falling in love with Jenny's lens - a 50mm compact macro.

Here are a few of my photos from our little walk around the neighborhood. You've also seen some of the photos from this outing in the Exploring with a Camera: Rain, Curly Fence and Share Your View: Rain posts. Stop by Jenny's blog to see her photos too!

Laurie (left) and Jenny (right)

Beautiful trees, just starting to change.
Flowers were still blooming! (Happy Purple Tuesday!)

A bit of color for the season to come...

This poor little tree seemed confused about the season.

My only pumpkin shot of 2010!

Time to head home...
It was great to meet Jenny, and to find another person who loves photography as much as I do! It is fantastic to have been able to bring another online friendship into real life. A big thank you goes out to Jenny, for planning the details and braving the rain! I look forward to seeing more of her, when we move back to Oregon next year. And hopefully a few more people, if we plan a photowalk sometime when the weather is nicer. Until then... ciao!

Jenny (left) and me (right) - Fast Photo Friends!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Down the Road

Travelling toward the end of the year, one month at a time. Welcome November!

I think fall might unofficially be over here, given the amount of rain that has been pouring down outside for the last two days. We changed from daylight savings time yesterday, here in Europe, and darkness comes early again. In our home, we are welcoming the winter with lighting more candles and snuggling up to watch movies.

I will miss these lovely leaves but am ready for the dormant period, the quiet time. As I read in Simple Abundance this morning, "November's beauty radiates from within."  Just like me. Just like you.

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I am musing on the energy of night over at Mortal Muses today. Come by and say hi!