Monday, January 31, 2011

Dry Sunflowers in Snow

Hello everyone!  I hope you had a great weekend.  Everything was covered with snow when I woke this morning.  I didn't stray too far to take photos, but I still have some dry sunflower heads in my front yard.  I have been meaning to cut them down, but, every time we have a nice day outside, I confess that I don't really want to spend it gardening. 

Friday, January 28, 2011

Slanted Trees

Here is the last image from snowy North Carolina, blanketed as it was the day after Christmas. 

Friday seems to have snuck up on me this week.  I hope everyone has a great weekend - I'll see you again on Monday.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Nestled In

Here's one more from North Carolina during the Great Snow of 2010. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Ivy on Trees

Here is another shot of the rest stop in North Carolina that was more like a winter wonderland than a stop off the interstate.  Everything was frosted in white, except the ivy on these trees.  It really stood out and the contrast looked almost fantastic.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Windy Wyoming

I don't know if I have ever mentioned how windy it is, here in Wyoming, but the wind just howls at night, and makes bearable temperatures unbearable with wind chill.  If it would just stop blowing for a couple of days, it sure would be nice to go outside.

Monday, January 24, 2011

No Reception

I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend, though I'm sure mine was better than yours if you are a Jets fan.

This was one of my favorite photos that I shot in South Carolina this past year, even if the carelessly discarded junk does make me angry.  The fact that someone had not one - not two - but three old televisions to get rid of is almost comical.   But mostly sad.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Ominous Clouds

As I drove back from Chugwater, some new clouds had moved in overhead, violet in color, covering the sky, and seemingly pinpointed on this one barn.  I called my friend Leah as soon as I got home to tell her about the cool clouds coming her way, if she hadn't already seen them.  She didn't get my call because she was working outside already, and of course got some great shots.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Clouds And Bluffs

The clouds out here are simply amazing, because you can see for miles and miles.  The clouds look bigger than those back East, and the drama that you can witness in them is simply amazing.  They were heavy and dark, but as you can see in the first image, there were light smudges that cut across, looking like they were the work of some heavenly eraser.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Chugwater Grainery

It seems like most small towns have an old grainery that isn't used anymore, and Chugwater is no exception.  Still, they are so beautiful, even in disrepair.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Chugwater, Wyoming

Yesterday I drove down to Chugwater, the next town south of Wheatland, to take some photos.  It is a small town, of about 300.  I had only been here once before, during the annual Chili Cookoff, when it was a bustling center of activity.  Monday, however, it was pretty quiet, and I had forgotten it was a holiday for some.  But I was able to walk around without too many people looking at me funny, though it was quite cold not from the temperature but from the wind.  The stretch of road that goes past Chugwater has to be one of the windiest in the country, and yesterday was no exception. I managed to get there right after the snow had melted off and right before rain showers began.  Today, I expect, there were covered in a light layer of snow, as we were in Wheatland. 

Monday, January 17, 2011

New In Shop & A Change In Pricing

Good morning, everyone!  I hope you had a great weekend.  We watched some great football (Go Steelers!), talked with a lot of loved ones on the phone, and made some yummy potato and leek soup and baklava.  I also worked at the gallery, which is a great way to spend a few hours.

I wanted to let you all know that I have added two new prints to my shop, "Sea Birds" and "Grainery."  I took the first shot a couple of years ago while on Sullivan's Island with some friends and I'm not sure why I have been holding on to it since it is one of my all-time favorites. 

The second shot is much more recent, taken this winter in Wheatland, WY at a grainery I pass when I walk to the park.  I loved how it looked this particular morning, the roof frosted in ice and with a little group of birds congregating on top.

I spent some time revamping the shop recently, and now I offer all  my prints not only in my preferred 8x12, but also in 8x10 because I know it sure is nice to be able to frame a print and hang it up right away.  Simply let me know in the "message to seller" during checkout which you would prefer.  If you don't let me know, I will send you an 8x12.  Simply click through the photos in each listing to see how any image would look as an 8x10 vs 8x12.

I also wanted to let you all know that I will be raising my prices in my online shop on January 31st.  Now that I am working with a few galleries I need to have consistent pricing, and to allow for the percentage that they take.  All in all it isn't much of a jump, and I wanted to let you all know first so that you could have time to order before it increases. 

The new prices for unframed prints in my online shop will look like this:

4x6 - $12
5x7 - $14
6x9 - $20
8x12 or 8x10 - $30
10x 15 - $40
12x18 - $60
16x24 - $100
20x30 - $120

Friday, January 14, 2011

Winter Wonderland

Happy Friday, everyone!  Today I wanted to share the photos I was most excited about getting on my trip back east.  I never would have thought my most winter wonderland of pictures would be at a rest stop in North Carolina, but that is just where this was!  I loved this stand of trees and that perfect little one in the center.  Trouble is, I just can't decide which composition I like best.  Today I'm feeling partial to the top one, but I keep changing my mind.  I'd love some input from you if you have an opinion!  Have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

I-95 in Snow

I never thought I-95 through North Carolina would look like this, even the day after Christmas.  The road was in great shape - not even a hint of ice, but when we got to around Rocky Mount, it slowed to a standstill, so we got off and finished driving up Hwy 17, which we had wanted to do all day since it is closer to the ocean, and since we traveled it a lot when we lived in Jacksonville, NC, driving north to see his family and south to see mine.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

And It Began To Snow

The day after Christmas we said goodbye to my parents in Moncks Corner and began driving north to visit my husband's folks in Chesapeake, Virginia.  We were only about 30 minutes into our journey before it began to snow.  We had been hearing that it would snow this day - something highly unusual along the southern coast, mind you - but we felt years of living in Wyoming had prepared us to drive safely, so we didn't worry much about it.  I just had to get a shot of the snow beginning to cover everything in Greeleyville, SC, though, and I chose this Presbyterian Church that was not far off our path.  Snow in the South - now that is something you don't see everyday.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Biggin Church Ruins

I've driven past the ruins of Biggin Church many times, which is just beyond the town of Moncks Corner, where I grew up, but only on this trip did I finally stop to photograph it.  The sky wasn't really right for it, but on my tight schedule I decided to shoot it anyway. 

The first Biggin Church was erected in 1712, at the place where three important roads met, it is said, but burned in 1755 in a forest fire.  It was rebuilt, and then burned by the British in 1781.  It was restored, again, and burned a third time in 1886, also by forest fire.  I suppose the good people of the parish gave up after all that, however, the cemetery is still in use.

Clearly, two walls still stand, and you can see the outline of where the other two walls were.  A tree now grows inside the boundary, but besides that, it is not too difficult to imagine what a pretty little church it must have been. 

Monday, January 10, 2011

Downtown Charleston

No trip to South Carolina would be complete without a day spent in downtown Charleston.  I have waxed poetic about its beauty before, but as you can see for yourself, it really is a joy to walk among the historic architecture and the lovely landscaping.  Charleston is the only place where I actually enjoy walking around with the crowds.  Not that it is crowded in December - far from it - but I learned as a teenager to not be hurried when downtown, and to set aside all feelings impatience and just go with the flow.  It makes for a much more pleasant experience, and really, to be a true Southerner, you need to learn at some point that hurrying through life takes away much of the joy.  It is better to take a deep breath and just enjoy being in such a lovely place, whether you are crawling through traffic at a snail's pace or find yourself in a mob of tourists. 

That said, I do hope to one day take some time and photograph Charleston properly.  I am always shooting photos between popping into stores and finding a parking place and settling down for a meal.  I would love to shoot all these places with more care and one day I will find the time.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Arrival in South Carolina

We drove another long, long day and arrived at my parents' house in South Carolina at 2:00 a.m, just as it began to rain.  It rained the entire next day and it was actually surprising to me.  I'd forgotten what 24 hours of nonstop rain was like, or that 24 hours of nonstop rain could even happen.  It is funny what feels foreign when you have lived away from where you grew up for long.  The riot of green in the middle of winter also felt foreign, but also exhilarating.  My heart skips a beat even just looking at these photos.  I do miss green.  Just look at all of it, in the middle of winter. 

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Stopover in Missouri

We spent our first night on the road at Finger Lakes State Park in Missouri.  It's a beautiful area not far off the interstate with year-round camping.  It used to be the site of a coal strip-mining operation, but was acquired in 1973 by the state and now is a great area for camping, fishing and off-roading on more than 70 miles of trails.  It was dark when we arrived, and were the only people in the entire park.  We quickly set up the camper, and got inside just before it began to rain. 

I knew everything was covered in snow already, but I was still astounded at the quiet beauty we awoke to and we stopped so I could take photos several times on the way out of the park.  We had heard coyotes in the night, and saw their tracks a few miles from our campsite, as well as those of deer and rabbits. 

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Nebraska Sunset

My husband and I spent the latter half of December visiting family and friends on the East Coast, and we decided to drive with our camper so we could take the doggies along.  We managed to drive out in two days, but boy were they long days.  This photo is from our first afternoon of driving.  We were at a rest stop somewhere near the eastern edge of Nebraska and the sun looked so pretty setting over the fields.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A Look Back at 2010

Good morning, everyone.  I know I'm a few days late, but I still think 2010 deserves a look back.  I'm featuring some of my favorite shots from last year, and I am so thankful when I think of all that I have accomplished. 

2010 was the 'Year of Thinking Locally,' as far as my art goes.  I joined my local art guild and met lots of wonderful folks, and even joined them in opening a co-op gallery here in town, Gilchrist Gallery.  It felt so amazing to finally have a mortar-and-bricks location to sell my work.  Just before Christmas I also sent a few large pieces to the Global Arts gallery in Lander, Wyoming, and I also began selling my prints in my hometown of Moncks Corner, South Carolina, at Friar Tuck's.  I want to thank the proprietors of those fine establishments for helping me along in my career.

I also participated in my first craft show here in Wheatland, and a couple of very wonderful customers made that a success for me. 

Online I became more involved in my Etsy team, the Female Photographers of Etsy and was delighted to find so many like-minded women who are dedicated to helping each other navigate the online marketplace.  I also met so many wonderful folks online and even one in real life, Leah Yetter.  Thanks so much to all of you for letting me get to know you and for being so kind.  It warms my heart to think that such an anonymous place as the Internet can spawn wonderful friendships.

I continue to be astounded that anyone would want to look at my art, much less hang it on their walls, and the fulfillment that brings is hard to put into words.  I take photos for myself - of things that I am interested in - but that others find these things worthy of attention makes me feel like I am part of something bigger and that I have something to contribute to this world, and for that, I thank you all.  2010 was a great year and I feel like I came a long way, and I'm excited to see how much further I can go in 2011!  I wish you all much luck in your endeavors, too!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Big Thoughts For The New Year

Hello, everyone! I’m back from weeks of traveling and visiting with family and friends and celebrating the holidays. More on that tomorrow.

Today and I want to write about yesterday. My husband and the doggies and I had gotten home after midnight, woken up the next morning, watched some football, and lazed around recovering from our journey. I had been sick but trying to stave it off so I could enjoy our trip, but all the days of staying awake longer than I should and eating bad-for-you-fast food on the road all seemed to culminate yesterday. I felt too bad to even go out to the truck and retrieve my book between naps. So I grabbed a book that has been on my shelf for some time, “The Principles of Uncertainty” by Maira Kalman. It’s an illustrated book on her musings about life – in general and in detail. I was three-quarters of the way through when the heaviness of it just hit me. This book brings to the surface all the dark thoughts I try to hide in the corners of my brain because they are alarming and scary. Thoughts to do with purpose, death, love, suffering. You know what I’m talking about. Kalman just comes out and says all the things I don’t like to think about, and I there I was about three-quarters of the way through the book feeling empty and awash in despair. I had a bit of a cry and my husband was nice enough to hug me and not ask too many questions and I sat there thinking about what an amazing creature he is. Not just him, but all of us. And my doggies sat there looking up at me, and I couldn’t help but think about what amazing creatures they are. How they have emotions just like me, and how they love and fear and want to live. And then I thought about all those doggie emotions multiplied by I don’t even know my much and I was wondering what the point is to feel all that I feel. Why so much fear? Why so much love? Why so much THINKING about it all? I mash down all these things because I don’t like to think about them because even one errant thought can open the well to an abyss of dark thoughts, but Kalman made me think about them on the day I just wanted to lay on the sofa and rest. She made me angry that for just one day I couldn’t push all these things away and be free of them.

But think about them I did.

I don’t know if you believe in God, but I do. That opens up a whole host of other questions, but really we can ignore all those details today. On days when I don’t know much else, I do know I believe in God. We are such amazing creatures – so well designed, except for premature balding, which my husband pointed out was a flaw that leaves his head cold when he ventures outside in the bitter Wyoming winter air – but really when you think about all the systems of the body and then think about the fact that we reproduce that again and again when a new child is born, and that no two people are the same, ever, and we all have complex systems that work (most of the time) and brains that think complex thoughts and have an unlimited capacity for love. It’s amazing.

I think about our amazing, unique planet that is just right for all of us to live on, and how many other planets and solar systems and stars and universes there are out there. We don’t even know how far space exists beyond us. It must be infinite, because what would lie beyond space?

I think about all these things and I know for certain that I know very little. And I know for certain that something else knows it all, set it all in motion, and created it all. But Kalman’s book still asks a question that begs for an answer – “What is the point of my existence?” What would it matter if I lay down on the sofa and refused to move, ever again? What would it matter if I lived for me and me alone without regard to anyone else? What does anything matter?

The answer is that it DOES matter. Simply by being born we are connected to a web of other people and it is impossible not to weave that web infinitely as we move through life, making friends, finding love, meeting strangers. If you believe as I do that God created us, and that we are here for his glory, I can’t think of a better way to glorify Him than to love this life and do the best we can with what we have been given.

Taking photos can seem like a frivolous way to spend my time here on Earth, compared to, say, curing cancer or curbing pollution or raising orphans. But you know what? I think all of these things, taking photographs included, are ways of saying “thank you” to God for creating us. I think all the ways we can enjoy this beautiful Earth He has given us and all the ways we can love one another are pleasing to Him. Maybe that is it. Maybe being grateful for it all and expressing that gratitude with our actions is all there is to it. Maybe that is the point of free will, if you believe in such a thing. Maybe giving us the choice of what to do with our lives and seeing what we do with them, to enjoy our lives and give thanks for them, maybe that is it. Maybe that is all there is to this life, the one we are living right now.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what I am going to think of when the dark, empty thoughts pop up from time to time, as I know they will. My life is not empty. I am frequently overwhelmed with the glorious details of life – colors and smells and tastes and feelings and love. These things God put here and these things are good and it is good for me to enjoy them. I am glad that I was created with senses to enjoy these things. The people in my web are glad that I am here, as I am glad that they are part of my life. Not every day is filled with sunshine and flowers, but is every day worth living, so that we may truly appreciate the sunshine and flowers? I think so.

Are you happy with your life? Are you enjoying the infinite wonders of God’s Earth? Are you thankful for all the little things as well as all the big ones? Has God given you the tools to right what feels wrong? There is no ‘perfect’ on this Earth. But there is genuine joy in every day, and I know we are all capable of finding it. “The Principles of Uncertainty” peers into the darkness, but Kalman knows how to find joy, too, in the everyday. She sees beauty in the garbage cans on French streets and in desert and in other people be they friends or strangers. I found this book upsetting, but at the same time I see that Kalman is perhaps proving my point.

I read somewhere that attachment was the root of all unhappiness - attachment to things, life, people. This philosophy certainly would help me clean out my closets, but without attachment, I would know no happiness, either I think. Love of other people, of my doggies – that is certainly worth the unhappiness that comes with separation and loss. Love of art and design – looking at my walls full of art that makes me smile, painted with colors that make my heart sing – the joy that brings me now is worth knowing I will never be happy with white walls in a rental if I were to move. Love of comfort – I’ll take having a full belly and feeling snug in my house on this winter day because I know if I ever have to feel hungry and cold I will be miserable whether I was hungry and cold the day before or not. I am convinced we are hard-wired to be attached – why would we all insist on pairing off knowing what the divorce rate is? Why would we have children knowing what a financial strain they will be? The reason is that we want to love and be love – attachment. And when these things still leave us with an empty feeling, perhaps we are simply resisting the ultimate attachment, to God?

Well, those are the big thoughts swirling around my head at the beginning of this new year. If you just stopped by for the photos, forgive me. I will be back tomorrow with more photos and less words. If you’d like to share any thoughts on any of this, please leave a comment. That’s another good thing that comes from attachment, in my opinion – knowing we are not alone and helping each other process all the things we feel. Happy New Year.