Tulips are my favourite cut flowers, and as soon as I see them in the supermarket, I bring home a bouquet. I love the fluidity of tulips- these grew at least an inch since I placed them in the vase, and this time they stayed upright (that doesn’t always happen!)
I usually take photos of flowers on a white background, but decided this time to play around with a dark one. A brown throw blanket made a perfect draped background for the bright yellow colour of the petals, and the resulting photos remind me of the Dutch Golden Age still life paintings. The perfect subject for an oil painting!
We’ve probably all heard the phrase “practice makes perfect”, but I recently heard it altered slightly to say “practice makes progress”, which is much better, I think, since nothing in this world is ever perfect. I’ve been reflecting on this lately, and thinking about how I am often disappointed in my creative endeavours because I haven’t reached the goals, or mastered the skills I had hoped I would by now….
I’m currently going through my external hard drive and organizing it. Years ago I had a computer crash, and while I was, thankfully, able to recover all of my files, they got dumped onto a hard drive, and I never did anything further with them. I’m fairly good at organizing and decluttering physical belongings, but the digital realm is one that never fails to devolve into absolute chaos for me. It’s a huge mess that gets worse each year, and continues to hang over my head like an invisible avalanche. This was finally my year to tackle that project, so I’ve been sorting, organizing and deleting; not just so that I can find photos or files easily, but so that I can finally get a bunch of the photos printed into albums!
Anyway, as I’ve been sorting, I’ve learned a few things (other than the painful lesson that sitting at my desk for too long is punishing to my shoulders).
Firstly, I’ve come to realize that just because a photo was taken, doesn’t mean it’s necessarily worth saving. For some reason, I think many of us have this idea that because we took this photo, it’s special. But, especially since the advent of digital cameras, I have ended up with a lot of duplicates, and unnecessary or blurry photos. In the past couple of years I’ve gotten better at immediately deleting those sorts of photos, but in the past I used to keep folders and folders of mediocre photos. I have been keeping in mind as I sort, that if I lived in the 1940’s I would have a lot less photos, and that would be totally fine. So, as I sort, I delete anything that doesn’t bring back a happy or important memory, duplicates that are so similar I don’t need both, and any photos I just don’t like. I am still keeping plenty of silly outtakes and anything that is truly sparking joy, but many of them are not.
Secondly, I am asking myself whether I have a purpose for these photos- am I going to print it? Am I going to blog it? Is it for reference? If the photograph doesn’t answer yes to any of these questions, then what is the purpose for me keeping it? I am coming to the understanding that sometimes the value in a photograph was simply in the action of taking of it. Like I don’t keep every sewing project or sketch I’ve ever made, I also don’t need to keep every photograph. Many of the photos were valuable in the practice they gave me, but I don’t need to keep the end result.
Which leads into my third discovery: practice makes progress. As I am sorting through the past 10+ years of photos (I received my DSLR in 2010!) I am noticing how much my photography has improved.
I look at the photos I take today and I often wish they could be better; they fall so short of what I want them to be, and what I see other artists creating. It can be easy to compare your skills to others, but it’s much more impactful to compare your current self to your previous self! I am looking through these photography “sketches” and realizing that they did have value, in teaching me. 10 years of practice has resulted in much better photographs. I’m no Ansel Adams, and yet, compared to 20 year old Nicole, I have vastly improved!
It’s so encouraging to realize that all of those hundreds of thousands of photographs that I took… and then deleted… over the years have resulted in not a few photographs that I am happy with and proud of. Like any artistic endeavour, it takes a lot of time and practice to grow and perfect, or rather progress. I would say that photography is one of the few creative practices I have consistently worked on, ever since my first film camera over 20 years ago and these days I have a lot more hits than misses.
Anyway, it was simply enlightening for me to see how much I’ve improved over the years, so I wanted to encourage all of you to keep practicing as well! Whatever skill or craft you are working on, don’t compare yourself to others, but rather compare yourself to yourself from years ago and I bet you’ll see a lot of growth.
If we take a moment to look back, we will realize just how far we’ve come.
(And of course, I did delete a lot of those out-of-focus and oddly composed photos, but I had to show a couple!)
While many people find winter to be the worst season of the year, I can’t despise it. Yes, the cold and dark can be dreary, and yet there is so much beauty God gives to us at this time of year, if we would see it. Last Thursday was one such day, as we woke up to a beautiful foggy, frosty day, as is common in this part of the world, but never commonplace. The world was a glistening winter wonderland, with every surface coated in thick heavy frost, while fog clouds hung low, obscuring the horizon, or at least bringing it in close. There is something unique about a heavy fog, because not only is the sightline hidden and the light diffused and dimmed, but the world becomes quiet, muffled even. Things seem to still and slow down and when you walk outside in a winter fog, you truly feel solitary.
These first photos were taken at 11:00 am when I hurried out to quickly take some photographs, wrapped in a wool coat and scarf, with the cold air nipping at my fingers.
A couple of hours later, around 1:00, the sun had started to burn through the fog, and the quality of light had changed. Again I wrapped up warmly and went out to capture those light changes, feeling an affinity with those Impressionist painters who would begin painting a scene, quickly grabbing a new canvas every time the light changed in order to capture an accurate depiction of the scene before them. While, of course, a photograph is quicker than a brush and canvas, it was interesting to see how strikingly different the world looked just a few hours later. I then continued to watch throughout the day, going out again at 4:00, 4:30 and then the next morning at 11:00. Each time I went out the qualities of light had changed, sometimes with high contrast and blue skies, sometimes with golden light and then finally a light pink glow across the sky. There was no wind, so the frost stayed on the trees for an entire 24 hour period. It was truly a beautiful day, and made me so thankful that I get to live in such a lovely part of the world.
I hope that wherever you live, you enjoy this first day of Winter (or the first day of Summer for those in the southern hemisphere) and are able to appreciate a bit of that changing quality of light and change of the seasons.
It’s October now and it feels like it; the leaves are golden against a sky that alternates between crystal clear blue and stormy greys. When the wind blows, it often has a chill in it, and colourful leaves crunch underfoot as you walk.
The season is short, but it’s my favourite time of year!
Every corner you turn has another spectacular view. This is a small ravine close to where we live. It’s gorgeous at this time of year.
Even abandoned buildings have a romantic look to them.
And despite the signs of decay, there is beauty to be seen in the blooms and seedheads.
The trees are dropping their leaves…and their seeds! We will plant some and see if they grow.
We’ve been so busy harvesting the garden and have a pantry stuffed full of bounty from our tomatoes, cucumbers, plums, choke-cherries and apples. There are delicious treats ahead this winter!
In the meantime, it’s still the perfect time to go outside and explore; soon we will be spending most of our time indoors!
I can’t believe that it’s already the last day of August..where did the summer go? I had so many projects I wanted to complete over the warm months, but between the humidity and the heat waves, that didn’t go exactly as planned. (I am working on a furniture refinishing project and have been getting up early in the morning to go and work on it outside before the sun heats up too much!)
We’re currently in one last, well, I hope it’s the last, burst of high temperatures. I am hopeful that when we turn the page to September, the weather will cool off a bit. It’s already starting to feel like the end of summer though; the sun sets earlier, the nights are chilly, the flowers are fading and we’re harvesting vegetables from the garden. There truly is a change in the air and the sunlight that signals the changing of the seasons…and I love it!
Here are some of the flowers from the month of August before it’s time to enjoy the fall leaves.
There were so many bumblebees on the hollyhock blooms, but as soon as I tried to take a picture of them, they all left, so this is the best I got. They must be camera shy!
My mom grew so many lilies and they all had such abundant blooms this year!