Posts Tagged ‘Photography’

front yard-06353I know  when most people see a picture like this, they see a pretty landscape or nice yard. When I see the same picture, I think of getting down on my hands and knees with my camera to discover the world that lives within. To see what actually makes that beautiful landscape. After all, as my father said to me on my this last trip… “Those are just weeds. But, I suppose you could see them as pretty flowers”. In that moment, my dad said a mouthful!

For me, macro photography is visceral. It hits me deep inside, unsettles my nervous system and makes me feel as if I’m falling into a world of unseen beauty. A world that is so tiny and elegant we take it for granted, never taking the time to see what creates it. And yet, when we were little, those same minute details held so much wonder.

It was early spring when I arrived at my parents. The flowers were blooming, the newness of life was evident everywhere I looked, fresh and alive. Life was opening up, seeds were popping, and pollen was beginning to float. I witnessed amazing daffodils of all kinds, tiny little butter cups looking tall and elegant through my lens, and those little Christmas tree shaped bushes covered in blue orchid-like flowers that seem to proliferate in the grass of my parents yard. It’s truly amazing. And to be able to take pictures before it was all mowed made my heart go pitter patter. That was amazing!

As I was looking through the pictures, it made me reflect on what else gets taken for granted. What else is out there we don’t take the time to see? There is so much that comprises our small, individual universe, yet we never take time to just look, feel the wonder and breath in the beauty that surrounds us in our everyday life. Maybe, just maybe it’s time to do that.

Just for fun, here are a few of the pictures that helped open my eyes.

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The day started out sunny, very exciting, then turned cloudy and rainy. We weren’t quite sure what to do but, Den suggested we take a trip to Giverny to see Monet’s garden. Especially since it was one of my top 3 things I wanted to do while in Paris and our days here are dwindling down. We checked the train schedule, bought our tickets and headed out the door. We were getting out of town. Didn’t matter if it rained, we are empowered with umbrellas and raincoats. Besides, a day in the country would do us some good!

We made our way to Gare St. Lazare and boarded our train. We noticed right away how silent the train is, it was unbelievable. The cars were clean and beautiful, seats were comfortable and I even had a little foot rest. Cool! The trip itself was quick and easy, we spent most of the time looking at one of my ipad apps about Paris, trying to decide what to do with the precious few days we have left. Before we knew it, we were in Vernon. And so far, the weather was holding up. Cloudy but no rain, a good omen.

We grabbed a cab and set off for Giverny, it was only a few kilometers away and we wanted to get there as quickly as possible. You can, however, take a bus, a tour or walk. I’ve done the walk both ways before, and after a long day of shooting, you’re bone tired. There were vast fields of amazing yellow flowers, as far as the eye could see. Den asked the driver to stop and he got out to take pictures. I stayed in the car, I was a little worried about the memory cards I had. They have rapidly gotten full and I wanted to save the space for Monet. After Den’s picture excursion, we continued on.

All I can say is wow, Monet created a beautiful vision of loveliness. It’s one thing to see the house and gardens on the internet, it’s another thing entirely to see them in person. We toured his home first. He had such an amazing eye for color. Each room painted differently either in a single hue or combination, including the furniture The dining room was lemon yellow, the sitting room robins egg blue with darker blue details (even the grandfather clock!), Japanese wood blocks covered the walls. His studio was large, airy and divided into two parts with reproductions of his paintings covering the walls.  I thought it was interesting that Monet’s bedroom was large and airy, with 3 big windows to view the gardens while his wife’s room was smaller with a little window looking over the street side of the house.

Now the gardens! Even on a cloudy day with a little sun and drizzle, they were spectacular. Tulips, so many different varieties, so many colors, they leave me speechless! At this point, I think it’s best if I let the pictures speak for themselves. Please remember, none of these are color-corrected. That will happen when I get home. For now, just enjoy the slideshow.

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I never made it to Versailles. It was one of those days that unfolded itself and led me through the labyrinth of  surprises. First off, I just couldn’t get moving to save my life. So instead of pushing, I let go. Versailles is one of those places that requires a full day, not a half day. It’s huge, beautiful and grand, you don’t want to rush it. I decided to walk until I found a metro station.

cheesy deliciousnessOn my way, I passed the cheese shop, then the charcuterie…by this time my mouth was watering. All those beautiful meats, pâtés and cheeses. And weren’t we talking the other night about how we hadn’t had any of those yet? Well, that was going to change tonight! I mean come on, you can’t come to France without eating cheese and pâté, why it’s….uncivilized! I made a mental note of the locations so I could stop on the way home. Finally I came upon a metro station, checked the maps and decided today was going to be another cemetery day. We hadn’t really explored the whole of our neighborhood so, being the cemetery freak I am, I thought Montparnasse Cemetery it is.

Pere Lechaise and Montparnasse are very different. Pere Lechaise is a riot of chaos, wild roots and decaying stones. It oozes and drips with history as it rushes up the hill, while leaving parts of itself down below. Montparnasse on the other hand is more along the lines of orderly modernity with a bit history mixed in. It’s flat with everything more or less in it’s place, a smattering of old and new neatly placed together. Now this doesn’t mean it’s easier to find who you’re looking for in Montparnasse, I spent the better part of 2 hours looking for Man Ray’s grave, I must have walked around or near it 20 times! Not until they began to ring the bell for people to leave did I find it. And to tell you the truth, I expected it to be more…”artsy” than it was, I was a little disappointed. There were other artists and non-artists, there that I found a lot more interesting, even vivacious and carefree, if you will.

My mom loves gizzards and through her, I learned to love them too. Imagine my surprise when I discovered a restaurant today that served an incredible green salad with gizzards and smoked duck, it was fabulous, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. I’ve never had gizzards like that, they were tender and succulent, melt in your mouth and with the added delight of duck, oh my! If only I can figure out how they cooked them. That was only the beginning of my food day! On the way home, I picked up a duck pâté, 4 different cheeses (a cow, a sheep, a goat and a blue), pots de crème (a coffee and a chocolate) and french bread. For dessert, we have lemon meringue tart and some bit of chocolate deliciousness. Yes, I’m going to need to diet when I get home. And I have to say right here and now, when I walked into the cheese shop, the aroma was overwhelmingly delicious, I hadn’t smelled those smells since I lived in New York. Wow, the choices were almost too much to bear!

So, I want to leave you with a little nugget. There were little signs in Montparnasse people left on some of the graves, they said regret. It kind of nailed home to me, we sometimes have regrets when loved ones die. And I realized, I want to die with as few of these as possible.

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I was talking with someone the other day about creativity and awakening, fear and rigidity. How sometimes we let fear stop us from following through, we allow the rigidity that comes from fear to stomp all over our dreams.The next day I went to a memorial service for friend who was not much older than me. She was a cool lady who had a very big, fun and beautiful life. Someone who was loved deeply by her family, friends and the community at large. She accomplished a lot and touched so many lives. Everyone knew and appreciated Mary, she was full of life and a shining light to all.I think when we die, we all have things we weren’t able to finish or complete…we don’t always have time or maybe we just let “it” fall into the dust of forgetfulness. I like to think I won’t let the most important things fall by the wayside, and yet will I? This got me to thinking about how procrastination gets in our way and sometimes we let our dreams fall away or we don’t act on them because of self-doubt….the “what-if’s” and “if only’s”. We tell ourselves “anybody can do that, what makes me so special”. And slowly, overtime, those dreams that seemed so important have fallen away, never to be recovered.

Personally, I think I’m in the middle of an awakening. And not one of those awakenings that affect only one aspect of my life. It’s as if I have many areas waking up at the same time and they are all dependent on each other. This awakening is allowing me to know that the act of creating matters, allowing me to create and re-create what is important no matter what “it” looks like. And allow my dreams to manifest in beautiful waves of unbounding love and creativity.

I must admit, I’ve been procrastinating or at least waiting. I’ve allowed those “if only’s” and “others can do it better” to control various parts of my life. And now the only question I can ask myself is, if not now…when?

So with that question in mind, I have created a website for myself of my photography. I’ll be adding my portfolio of design work, paintings, jewelry and whatever else I choose to create over time. The link for my website is www.benjiearts.com. Enjoy and if you like something enough to buy it…go for it.

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A Poem for Today

They stood on the balcony
Watching the world go by
One held her heart in her hands
The other the flower of her life.

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Hey Dude... how's the nectar?

A few weeks ago, I was visiting my parents. They have a bay window where their kitchen table sits and just outside is a hummingbird feeder and a little mock orange tree. What a joy it was to sit there during each meal and watch as the hummers would fly around, eat and sit in the little orange tree to watch us. They took turns chasing each other away and once in while would eat as a group of 2 or 3.

I’ve been curious about the symbolism of hummingbirds lately so, I looked them up on the net. I found lots of links and stories but, the one that resonated with me the most is this from answers.com or wikianswers.com

In Native American culture, a hummingbird symbolizes timeless joy and the Nectar of Life. It’s a symbol for accomplishing that which seems impossible and will teach you how to find the miracle of joyful living from your own life circumstances.

The quote is from a book called, Animal-Speak: The Spiritual & Magical Powers of Creatures Great & Small, by Ted Andrews and published by Llewellyn Publications (September 1, 1996)

Personally, I’m feeling that more joy in my life can only help to counteract all the fear and hatred that seems to be resonating in the world these days. I’ve heard people say that we must be the change we want to see in the world. So, if being like a hummingbird can help me be more joyful and partake of the sweet nectar in my life then I’m all for it… I think it’s a great antidote!

Anybody want to join me?

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Happiness and Joy

I love the Harmony Festival, it’s one of my favorites and I jump at the chance to go every time I have the opportunity.

At this years festival, the weather was hot and eye candy was everywhere with hipsters of every size, shape, color and age. There was all manner of dress and…. undress, from 60’s garb to teeny weeny bikini’s. Hula hoops were in big time, I had a blast watching the dancers with their hoops.

I used this opportunity to practice my hip shots. Thankfully, my aim is getting much better. Now if only I could remember that sometimes, I need to standstill.

I also played around with holding the camera low and turning the viewfinder in a way that allowed me to visually frame the pics. While doing this, I discovered a really cool trick about my new G11! I learned that depending on how you turn the screen, you can actually change how the image is framed without moving the lens. What a trip!

Check out the photos and let me know what you think.

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