Commitment: the state of being emotionally impelled to do something. My commitment is to making art, loving life and doing well.

Daily Artworks... my continuing challenge for 2015: Observe and record. Record and observe. And stretch - s-t-r-e-t-c-h - myself.
What will I discover?

Friday, January 31, 2014

Close Up and Personal - Day 31

This Little Light Of Mine...  

"...I'm Going To Let It Shine!"    
- darkness by candlelight    

Candles are so familiar to us. We have ritual candles, church candles, votive candles, birthday candles and candles on the dinner table. We can have candles for decoration, as well, always being aware of fire safety in their use.
And we also have the symbolism of candles that relates the self-sustaining candle flame to specific events in our lives. We may not need candles, but there is something magic about them that makes us want to light candles all the same.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Close Up and Personal - Day 30

In Its Own Light  

"By the Light of the Kerosene Lamp"    
- an old-fashioned way to light up the night    

Even today, in areas where electricity is not available, people use oil-burning lamps to give light after the sun goes down. Up to the mid 1800's, the most commonly used lamp fuel was whale oil, but nowadays oil lamps burn cleanly with kerosene or refined lamp oil. They may not give off a great deal of light, but when there is no electric power, oil lamps are good things to have at the back of the shelf, ready and waiting to be lit.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Close Up and Personal - Day 29

The Light Within  

Solar Flare? Glowing Ember?    
- No, it's a lamp made from a crystal of salt    

I thought this was a real curiosity at first when we got it. It's a large crystal of rock salt, hollowed out to accommodate a small electric light bulb. When lit, the lamp gives off a soft orange glow, due to minerals and inclusions in the salt. The lamp came with claims of health-giving ionization and air-purifying qualities, but its real physical effect seems to come from the relaxation of sitting in a darkened room, staring quietly at the colors and patterns in the crystal. And yes, it does taste, well, salty.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Close Up and Personal - Day 28

Snowy Fir Branches at Dawn  

Light and Translucence and Darkness   
- Early Morning Silhouettes    

This morning I was struck by an abrupt physical sensation, seeing an orange glow around the edges of the snowy trees near the house. By the time I got outside with the camera, the glow was yellow-gold, and in another few minutes the effect was totally gone.
The camera didn't catch it, but I can still remember that jolt of intense colored light against the darkness.    

Monday, January 27, 2014

Close Up and Personal - Day 27

Orchids at the Theatre  

Light and Colors and Shadows   
- Kathleen's Mother's Orchid    

In the lobby of our community theatre there is a sizable display of flowering and foliage plants, mostly gifts from friends of the theatre. One generous donation is this large orchid plant, which seems to be in constant bloom. Despite the orchid family's reputation as a difficult plant to maintain, this particular specimen seems to savor its place in the spotlight, thriving on the attention it gets in the lobby as audiences come and go.      

Close Up and Personal - Day 26

Geranium Translucence and Silhouettes  

Light and Colors and Shadows   
- more of that darned geranium!    

The early morning winter sun shines in the window, low and intense. It is backlighting my office geranium plant and revealing translucent effects you will never see in direct lighting.
Here are layer upon layer of petals, colors, shadows, opacities, and highlights.
How can I get any work done?

Close Up and Personal - Day 25

Geranium Flowers and Buds  

Continuity on a Stalk   
- that darned geranium again!    

The first entire stalk of January geranium flowers is now gone - but on this plant there are three more stalks of glorious pink blossoms, and hidden beneath the leaves, there are more clusters of buds waiting to take their place.
I predict that I will have geraniums in February as well. Life goes on.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Close Up and Personal - Day 24

Red Wine Glass in Sunshine 

Red Wine Glass in Sunshine   
- reflections and refractions in direct light    

One of my grandmother's treasures was her full table set of Portuguese cut glass, which included everything from thumb-sized sherry and port glasses to full size water goblets, with jugs and sherbet cups to match.
My favorites were always the red wine goblets, with their distinct color contrasts and well defined patterns. They always looked beautiful, and they still do.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Close Up and Personal - Day 23

Sixteen Markers  

Sixteen Markers, Sixteen Different Colors, and Drawing Paper   
- and a quiet afternoon    

 Markers are such fun - they can be neat and tidy, but they could be messy -  they are colorful and their color goes on the paper quickly.
All office-workers deserve to have a bundle of water-based markers and some drawing paper in their desks for a little time-out before going on to their next official task.

Close Up and Personal - Day 22

Chinese Fortune from a Cookie  

Just be wonderful, in English and French   
- working with a different lens, different settings, different results    

In English, this Chinese restaurant cookie fortune gives an exhortation to be aware of your own character.
And on the other side, in French, the fortune says : "Stay faithful to yourself, you are magnificent."
Nice to hear such sweet words twice, accompanied by a tasty mouthful at the end of a good meal.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Close Up and Personal - Day 21

Tiffany-Style Stained-Glass Lampshade  

Double source incandescent and fluorescent lighting  
- colored glass back-lit by compact fluorescent and side-lit by tungsten incandescent bulbs      

The pinks and yellows and greens here are pretty close to the original stained-glass colors in a lovely Tiffany-style lamp which I enjoy every time I turn it on.
 Accurately reproducing colors lit by two different light sources is tricky at best. I'm not satisfied with the results here, and so I will be working on this set-up again.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Close Up and Personal - Day 20

New Snow    

Last Night's Snowfall Collected on Tree Branches   
-   Contrasts of Light and Dark  

So far this winter we are well below our usual snowfall.
But we know that more snow will be coming this month and next, and that people will be out enjoying it.
Or shoveling it away. Enjoy it while you can!


Sunday, January 19, 2014

Close Up and Personal - Day 19

Backlighting Through a Geranium Stalk

Sunlight Shining Through Leaves and Petals  
- colorful translucence     

Inside the cells of the leaves and petals of this geranium, there are spaces filled with water or air. These "empty" spaces are how the light shines through, colored by the chlorophyll and the other plant pigments in the translucent leaves and flowers.
The white halos along the edges of the leaves, stems and buds are caused by light refracting off tiny hairs - the plant's defense against insects - making outline echos of the plant's shapes.
Outside the window, there's clear blue winter sky and bare trees. Inside, there's the color of spring and summer.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Close Up and Personal - Day 18

A Dozen Almonds  

Single source daylight-balanced lighting  
- simulated natural light coming from one floodlight bulb, white-balanced in editing     

Almonds. Years ago, they were a tasty treat, I could never get enough of them. Almond Bark. Candied Almonds. Marzipan. Almond Guy Ding. I tasted Almond Butter once. Even Almond Joy candy bars. All sinful pleasures, to be enjoyed at special times, and in carefully scrutinized moderation.
Fast forward to 2014 - almonds are so common today that even birdseed has them. AND my doctor recommends that I eat a dozen almonds a day "for my health."
Treats as health food! I didn't have to be told twice!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Close Up and Personal - Day 17

Reflected Light on Geranium Flowers  

Daylight from Window Reflected on Three Sides  
- natural light coming from all around     

These pretty flowers have been my office companions for several weeks now, and I have become used to having them around. But already, today, the first two blossoms have fallen off the plant.
Never mind, there are more flowers here, and there are at least three more stalks on this plant, with buds ready to bloom, in their turn.
Life goes on.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Close Up and Personal - Day 16

Two Different Light Sources, Two Different Colors  

Daylight and Incandescent, Blue and Orange  
- Colors blending and colors clashing     

You might not pick it up on the first glance, but there are two different colors of light illuminating this scene, the cold bluish tone of daylight from a window, and the warm orange tone of incandescent light, from a tungsten bulb. The camera is set to detect automatically the "White Balance" it is operating in, and to compensate for color shifts, but I think we have gotten the camera confused, and it has forgotten to override one of these!
But that doesn't matter to the candy in the dish - it is ready to be eaten, any time!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Close Up and Personal - Day 15

More Toys and New Tricks    

A Styrofoam Cup Light Tent for Close-Up Photography of Jewelry  
-   and other very small things  

With the fun of making a new photography toy yesterday, I decided to try again today with a different camera and a real challenge - to photograph a piece of jewelry or a coin as if I were going to sell it online.
I had a point-and-shoot camera with macro capabilities, a goose neck lamp, a lapel pin, and a styrofoam cup upended and with its base cut off. The initial idea came from this blog post. Thanks, Strobist! It me took a bit of time to convince the camera that I knew what I was doing, but in the end it allowed me to do a manual focus macro shot. The cup doubled as a handy tripod for the shoot.
I'll be looking for other sizes in opaque cups to allow for zooming in on the subject, but on the whole, this experiment turned out well.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Close Up and Personal - Day 14

Old Stuff, New Tricks    

A Juice Jug Light Tent for Close-Up Photography of Shiny Items  
-   recycling in a useful way  

I've been checking out ways to photograph jewelry, and ways to set up the camera to do it. Jewelry is tricky to shoot, because it's usually small and shiny and requires lighting that shows off its best features.
Well yes, there are commercial light diffusers available to buy, but there are some pretty ingenious homemade solutions, as well. So this morning, I cut the bottom out of a juice jug, and set it up next to a window, with a goose neck lamp sitting next to the jug. Then I set a small point-and-shoot camera lens down into the neck of the jug. Details are here. Thanks Camera Jim! I had to add to the jug's height to allow the camera to focus, and a measured length of paper towel tube did the trick.
I'm pleased with the results, and I'm going to try it again, and see where this can take me.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Close Up and Personal - Day 13

Cracking the Spine on a New Book   

Waiting to Start  
-   and there's hours of enjoyment ahead 

If I don't get at least one new book over the holidays, I'm just a bit disappointed. Getting a book as a gift is a fine thing, no matter if it's a title that I've been anticipating reading, or if it's someone else's choice that comes to me as a surprise. Just taking a day off and putting my feet up and sticking my nose in a book is a supreme pleasure.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Close Up and Personal - Day 12

Lego Exercise Party  

Working-out Emma Drinks Lots of Water  
- at her Exercise Party     

Step-ups! Treadmill! Sit-ups! Exercise Bike! And drink those Eight Glasses of Water!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Close Up and Personal - Day 11

Saturday Baking  

Fresh Cinnamon Buns  
- still hot in the oven     

Saturdays at our house are a special time for afternoon desserts and treats with friends and family - this week it's hot cinnamon buns, fresh out of the oven. Don't expect any leftovers!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Close Up and Personal - Day 10

Silver and Labradorite Sparkle  

Labradorite Jewelry   
- Feldspar crystals catching the sunlight   

Labradorite is a semi-precious mineral which occurs in several locations around the globe.
Formed millions of years ago by heating and cooling of crystals of feldspar, Labradorite refracts direct light in an iridescent blue-green, indigo-ultramarine luster which appears to come from within the gemstone.
I was so pleased and surprised to find this ring waiting for me under the tree on Christmas morning!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Close Up and Personal - Day 9

A Flash of Color in a Beam of Sunlight  

Looking out the Window   
- the flower (and me) basking in the winter sunshine   

Someone more knowledgeable than I am says that this is technically a "perlargonium" rather than a "geranium," among the differences being how the plant would tolerate cold weather. Under either name, I'm sure that this fine specimen is happier being on the inside looking out, than otherwise.
Me, too, I'm happy blinking at the flashes of color and winter sunshine that make sitting in front of my window so pleasurable.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Close Up and Personal - Day 8

First Flowers  

The Geranium on My Desk   
- its floral presentation   

Plants are supposed to flower in summertime out in the garden. If I were a dedicated gardener, I would have clipped away this geranium's fall leaves and stems and let the plant sit dormant for months in the dark, keeping its energy in reserve for spring. But if I waited for that, I wouldn't have this opportunity to be so pleased and proud of these first flowers.
As a flower fancier, I prefer to enjoy the growth of the plant now, and its triumph of growth and color over winter cold and dark. Besides, I'm sure the geranium is enjoying its own exuberance, too!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Close Up and Personal - Day 7

Traditional Portuguese Embroidery  

 Folk Embroidery Stitches 
- detail of a pattern on an old family apron  

Front panel of apron, oval shape, depth approximately 15"
As in other countries, different regions in Portugal have distinctive embroidery designs and techniques.
In the district of Viano do Castelo, the historic peasant costume consists of colorful shawls, blouses, skirts and aprons, textured knit stockings, filigree jewellery and a recognizable style in embroidered patterns.
The white stitching on a red fabric shows up strikingly in this detail of a traditional apron design.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Close Up and Personal - Day 6

Christmas Lights  

Rope Lights in a Spiral  
- It's Old Christmas day and soon the decorations will come down for the season 

That's it, the Christmas holidays are over for another year.
And so we move on to other things - onward into 2014!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Close Up and Personal - Day 5

Stacked Rocks 

Balance and Reflection  
- with a mirror image  

I have a collection of rocks that I have picked up along my way - smooth beach rocks, stones with interesting colors and patterns, pebbles with shapes that reminded me of something at the time. Some of these are on my windowsill, stacked on top of each other. It's an engaging puzzle, requiring some patience, to get the stones to balance on top of one another. It's something of an engineering feat to get them to stay there.
There are five rocks in this stack, along with their mirrored reflection.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Close Up and Personal - Day 4

Navel Orange Gazing  

Orange Peel Rim Shot  
- Intense back-lighting reveals textures in bouncing light  

Along with their tangy tastiness and their health-food goodness, oranges - especially navel oranges with their umbilical bump - have a lovely textured peel, smooth and pebbly, which is oh-so-attractive in how it catches the light.
I placed this orange at my window and exposed for the dark side of the sphere, resulting in blown highlights, yes, and also a fantastic rim lighting that sets off the texture around all sides of the fruit.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Close Up and Personal - Day 3

Eye Candy 

Sunshine On A Holiday Treat  
- Can you keep from reaching for one?  

Which ones are your favorites? The limey-green ones or the tangy orange ones? How about a striped peppermint? And do you savor the flavor or do you crunch the sugar and come back for more?
Thank goodness we still have some Christmas candy left in the house.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Close Up and Personal - Day 2

Budding Anticipation 

Brilliant Sunshine and the Joy of a Simple Surprise  
- the potential of color and light   

What a pleasant surprise I had this morning!
The geranium I have been nursing along at my desk has sprouted several flower stems and in the brilliant winter morning sunshine the plant was showing me these tiny pink flower buds.
Oh, yes, this may not be an earthshaking event, but simple joys are sometimes the ones that carry you through the day.  

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Close Up and Personal - Day 1

Christmas-time Reflection  

Fifty Years of Reflecting Christmas    
- what has this ornament looked out on?    

One of our holiday traditions is using old family decorations, like Grandma's silver and blue glass ornaments, which we have been hanging on the Christmas tree for more than fifty years. Although the glass is intact, the mirrored coating inside the bubbles is starting to break down and get cloudy, in the way old mirrors do. To my mind, this patina of age makes the ornaments lovelier to look at.

Christmas and New Year's is a time for personal reflection, and as I'm photographing this ornament, I am wondering what other Christmas scenes has this bubble reflected over the years?

Happy New Year 2014!


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