Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Garden Tuesday Hellebore

For Garden Tuesday, I'm posting this photograph taken last week as part of my Finding Your Eye photography course.  Our assignment was to take 50 photos of the same subject.  I chose a Hellebore flower in a pot outside my favorite coffee shop.  I actually took more than 150 photos and this is just one.  If you want to see a few others you can go to my photojournal blog.  I'm so enjoying this course.  Part two begins next week.  I can't wait; I'm learning so much.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Photographic inspiration

This afternoon we went to the museum to see a exhibit showing the most incredible wildlife photography.  There were about 140 photographs from all over the world, chosen from thousands submitted last year.  Talk about inspiration!

Each photograph was on an lcd screen and backlighted, and huge so you could see every detail perfectly.  Some of these images were taken by children under ten years of age.  Very impressive.
The photographs were accompanied by text that talked about how the photographer achieved the image.  In some cases, the photographer created a floating "hide" and had the camera half under the water and half out.  This went on for up to three days sometimes.  The dedication to capturing just the right shot is amazing.  

Because I'm taking an online photography course I'm very interested to see just how far people will go to get the image they want.  I'm inspired to put a little more effort into my own photographs.  If you want to see some of the images you can do so here.   And if you live in Victoria, go to see the exhibit.  It's on until the sixth of April.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Treasure rediscovered

Today is a happy day for me.  Today is the day I recovered my lost photographs.  After searching my computer for months to find over 2500 images from our travels over the past three years,  today I found them hiding in my bookcase.  Actually I probably shouldn't even admit to what happened--but I'm so happy that I want to share the story.

Briefly, I had a computer problem last May and had to go to my backup drive to restore the data.  When I did so I found that a great chunk of my iPhoto library was missing.  All the techie people I know tried to find these missing photos on my backup drive without success.  I had resigned myself (after a great deal of whining) to the fact that these photos were gone forever.  But today I found a little stack of CDs hidden away that contained all the images I thought I'd lost.

Somehow I'd forgotten that I had saved these to the CDs and deleted them from my iPhoto library.  No wonder we couldn't find them!  But none of this matters now.  I have my photos back.  Here are just a few to show you the treasure I rediscovered.

The top three were taken on our drives through the western states.

This is the very old part of Patzcuaro, Michoacan, in Mexico.

Below are two of the many "wall photos" I thought I'd lost.

That's my sweet Maggie resting in a foggy vineyard in the Napa valley.

A view of the hills outside of Alamos, Sonora, showing the trees in bloom.  I never did find out the name of them.

    And one of many marvellous cacti that I took photos of.

It's a funny thing though--in my memory these photographs took on epic proportions.  When I look at them now I see that they're nice and they carry wonderful memories.  But they aren't nearly as stunning as I remembered them.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Snow day

We woke up this morning to a blizzard.  All the schools were closed and the street in front of our house was empty of cars.  Yay!  A snow day.  We don't get these very often so they're lots of fun.  Everybody's out walking around and talking to each other.  And the dogs?  Well, they're in heaven.

Around mid-morning the snow stopped and we took them out for a walk and a play.  They love the snow, as you can see from these pictures.  That's my 13 year old Maggie frolicking like a pup.

I enjoy it too, for its photographic possibilities.

But the poor little birds are really suffering.  We've refilled the birdseed feeder twice today and it's very well attended. 

Then there are the poor little hummingbirds (which are really not adapted to this weather at all).  We feed them a stronger syrup solution this time of year and we have to bring it into the house every few hours to warm it up.  I hope they make it through the night.

It's 25 degrees F out there now and will dip lower overnight.   Fortunately it's supposed to warm up tomorrow and we'll have rain on Friday.  Snow days never last too long here.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Pasta night with an Italian grandmother

The other night we made pasta with the help of an Italian grandmother.  I just got a great   cookbook  called Cooking with Italian Grandmothers.  It's a collection ofrecipes collected by a young woman who traveled through Italy staying with the grandmas in villages from Tuscany to Sicily.

  These are authentic recipes, unchanged through the years.   The pasta is made from just these two ingredients: eggs and all-purpose flour.  It's like magic actually creating pasta from this.

We used a recipe for Pesto Lasagna  from  Daria, who lives in Biassa, Liguria on the northwest coast of Italy.  Of course the pasta is made by hand, but fortunately the cookbook also gave directions for doing it with a pasta machine.

This is only the second time I've used a pasta machine, a hand-me down from a friend who got a new, fancy one.  This one's basic but it does the job very well.

The recipe calls for cutting the ball of dough into quarters and repeatedly running it through narrower and narrow settings until it's very thin. Each time it gets longer or wider and needs to be cut to allow it to go through again.

Here's Harry putting the dough through the second time.  It still looks pretty chunky.

But this is what it looked like after a few more passes.  The texture just gets smoother and smoother.

Eventually we ended up with a counter full of really thin handmade lasagna noodles.  They're so thin that they don't need to be pre-cooked for this recipe.

We covered them with towels so they wouldn't dry out while we prepared the sauce, which is a basic cream sauce with pesto mixed in.  The lasagna was layered with this sauce and torn pieces of fresh mozzarella and grated parmesan.  It's really quite easy.  

Topped with the cheeses it went into the over for 45 minutes and this was the result.

I added some sautéed zucchini in the middle and I cheated a bit by using a jar of pesto, so it wasn't completely Daria's version.  But it tastes just delicious--and we have enough for several more meals like this one.  

 Good thing too because the snow is falling like crazy outside and we're staying home until it stops.

Saturday, January 14, 2012


Over at Exploring with a Camera, Kat is musing about windows and how they crop up in her photography.  I find they do so in mine as well so I thought I share a couple of images.

It seems the ones that call to me are the boarded up or empty ones though.  I wonder what Dr. Freud would have to say about that?

Boarded up window in Silver City, New Mexico

Garage in a back lane in the Strathcona neighbourhood of Vancouver

Two views of empty windows in an abandoned dairy barn on Saltspring Island.

When we were in Italy in June I found myself taking lots of photos of windows in the old stone buildings.  Most of the windows there have very interesting shutters or bars and there's often lovely strings of laundry to look at as well.  These kind of windows always leave me guessing at what lies within.

This was taken in one of the villages at the Cinque Terre.

The view out our hotel room in Venice and a  sunny window in Pietra Santa in Tuscany.  These are more uplifting than the boarded up ones I think.

If you want to see more posts on photographing windows you can find them here.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The winter garden

Through my photography course I've been looking at images taken in the woods in winter and it's encouraged me to appreciate the greys and browns and beiges of the winter garden.  Take a look at this lovely photo of a seedpod on Zinnia's photostream.  

So this morning I took my camera out in the back yard and sure enough, there's beauty out there now--even in the sogginess and the cold.  Here's what caught my eye.  Two little dried up apples hanging on for dear life to the apple tree.

A little trumpet shaped leaf curled into a wrought iron lantern.

Frost patterns on the little sedums and the cedar twigs growing in a wooden box on the deck.  The sedum leaves remind me of frosted grapes.

An interesting torch-like shape above the honeysuckle vine.  This is what's left after the birds have eaten the bright red berries seen in the image below.

Yes, there is beauty in the winter garden if you take the time to look.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Slanting sunlight effects

Yesterday the sun came out and when I walked through the living room it was illuminating the candle holders sitting on the coffee table.  It created quite a glow.  There is beauty in the low angle of the sun on a January afternoon.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Photography class

I've just begun a journey with my camera to find my photographic eye.  I'm taking an online photography course at Kat Eye View.  Part of the course involves creating a photo journal blog and mine is now up and running.  You're welcome to visit if you'd like.  I will be using it to muse about topics raised in the class and of course posting the odd photo too.  You can find it here.

Happily I found a few photos on my laptop that didn't get obliterated when I lost my main photo archives so I was able to post them on my photo  journal blog.  I really like this one.

Hopefully my journeys with my camera will create more images that bring me pleasure.

Friday, January 6, 2012

The darkest morning

This photo was taken out my back door today at 7:25.  You can see that dawn is only just beginning.  But its going to get lighter from now on.  Today is the darkest morning of the year.  Yes, I know--December 21st is the winter solstice and the shortest day in terms of number of hours of daylight.  But somehow the dusk and dawn hours swing around this solstice point.  December 6th is the day of the earliest sunset, the darkest afternoon.  And January 6th is the day of the latest dawn, the darkest morning.

I'm pretty sure this is true because I've read about it and heard it on the radio.  Although most people I mention it to don't know this scientific fact.  If you live in a northern latitude you may have noticed that the afternoons are not as dark as they were in December.  And now, today, with the darkest morning we're coming out of the tunnel and into the light of 2012.

Please join me in welcoming the light.

PS:  Here's a link that explains this phenomenon.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Too many screens?

I've been thinking about screens lately--computer, tv, ipad, cell phones and others like that--and I don't know how to feel about them.  As someone who blogs and reads blogs, and who is involved in online work, both volunteer and business, I spend a lot of time in front of my iMac screen.  Sometimes way too much time, in my opinion.  But it's hard to pull myself away.

The average American spends at least eight and a half hours a day in front of a screen of one kind or another.  This piece of information comes from an article I read (online!) by journalist Pico Iyer titled The Joy of Quiet.  Iyer says that screens have invaded every moment of our life and information comes at us so fast that we're rushing to keep up to date with it all--to our detriment.

I feel that way some days.  The sign that I'm too fragmented comes as a tension in my stomach.

Thankfully I have two dogs who pull me away into nature, and a love of reading books that don't have flashing mail icons.  I have my garden and my home and my artwork to keep things in balance.  But I've just signed up for an on-line photography course which means more clicking and viewing.  Does the camera's screen count as screen time too?

What do you think?  Is it all too much?

Monday, January 2, 2012

My word for 2012

Over at Sidewalk Shoes Pam has posted an idea about choosing one for the new year.  I think this is an excellent idea, and it follows up on my non-resolution from yesterday.  Last year I chose a couple of words (simplicity and balance) to guide me through 2011.  Looking back I think I managed to achieve some of both those things.  I managed to balance some hard renovation work with a holiday trip to Italy, and I walked the tightrope of time with family and time for my volunteer activities with the dog organization and my work with Circles within Circles.  The simplicity part has been more of a challenge.  I am way too prone to multi-tasking.  And I'm often finding myself running in circles to catch up on things.

So for this year, to counter my tendency to be distracted, I've chosen the word for 2012.  It's CLARITY.  To find clarity I need time to distill, to sit, to think and clarify what's truly important.  This will be my guiding word for 2012.

What will yours be?

By the way: the image is from NASA, it's titled, Photomicrography of gas pockets entrapped in a crystal.