Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Vision, Clarity and Decoding the Dream State

This is the second in a series of blogs and images that address the topic of "Time".  Again, Liz Madden-Zibman, is my guest contributor. (See her Bio below.)  And as mentioned in the last blog, Liz is an extremely talented creative writer; her commentary in this post underscores that talent.

Some background info:  for this edition, I sent Liz 9 different photos to inspire her thoughts and provide grist for the "pen" - or rather, "keyboard".  The 2 photos that most resonated with her are featured below.  They were captured at the end of day (when the sunlight is the best!) at the New Jersey coastline on Long Beach Island.  I used a technique that involves slowing down the camera shutter speed.  Without further ado...

Vision, Clarity and Decoding the Dream State - by Liz Madden-Zibman

Kate’s second array of photos in this blog reminds me that we may be leaving behind the idea of refuting clichés and instead exploring new territory. It seems Kate’s blue-sky arrangements might be treading into the dream state. Enigmatic and ephemeral, the shots remind me that time is more than a physical calculation. 

Granted, we can clock the number of hours in which we sleep. We can enumerate the amount of events that occur in the world while we sleep. In some ways time seems like a hive of numbers where we can even assess its 
value like a fixed number, something in the manner of the clichéd 8 hours sleep being a “good night’s rest”, equated with physical verve and mental awareness. 


Yet, it’s easy to ignore the phases of time that are nestled inside our dream state. Kate’s photos here seem to be a tribute to that dreaminess world where the mind drifts like striated clouds, meanders like flighty breezes, and washes like rushing waves. The photos themselves even has a post-dream reaction where after viewing them, there’s a sense of clarity, wakefulness, refreshment.

People think dreams aren't real just because they aren't made of matter, of particles. Dreams are real. But they are made of viewpoints, of images, of memories and puns and lost hopes.” 
― Neil Gaiman

To view more of my photography on Etsy click here:  https://www.etsy.com/shop/KateRyanFineArt

Liz Madden-Zibman writes imaginative tales and literary fiction, exploring themes of  hope, renewal and creativity. Her novel chapters, short stories and poetry are published in Shaking Lit: Best Prose 2007-2010, Transfer 37, The Kelsey Review, The Kennesaw Review, the U.S. 1 Newspaper Summer Fiction Issue, and most recently, Voices & Visions and La Pluma y La Tinta, New Voices Anthology. Liz has a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing from Fairleigh Dickinson University and a Bachelor’s degree in English/Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. She teaches research writing in the disciplines, at Rutgers University.  Contact her at: ezibman@gmail.com.  Check out her blog at:  http://danceoftime.blogspot.com/

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Time's Up! Or is it?

When I began this blog journey, a primary intent was to feature my photos and highlight the many creative people who have influenced me, moved me, taught me, and inspired me to be my most authentic self.

Toward that end, this is the first in a series of blogs (and images) that will address the topic of "Time".  This installment has been interpreted by my inaugural "guest" contributor, Liz Madden-Zibman.  Liz is a very talented lady who specializes in creative writing.  (See her Bio below.)  I could write a separate blog about our story of friendship but will save that for the future!

Cutting to the chase, we bantered (longer than we should have!) about collaborating.  We finally got off our respective "seats" and decided "Time" would be a great topic to showcase her writing skills and my photography.  We are both at an age where we have much to say and the desire to share it. So without further ado, here is Liz's commentary around "Time's Up."

“Time’s up!” by Liz Madden-Zibman

Most of us are familiar with that cliché. Myself, I don’t accept it. There is no way; it’s impossible for time to time out! If we’re talking about time on the grand scale as in living then Time expires only for one’s individual body and mind but not for those whose hearts continue to pump. The world and its inhabitants continue on, most of us hardly missing a beat as we plow through the hours of the day. We ourselves can’t stop time nor can we escape it. When we sleep, time passes. When we eventually awaken (and hopefully we will awaken on time, not to miss our train, work deadlines, appointments, and coffee chats), we segue into the moving moments of the ongoing palpitations of time present. On the other hand, we are able to limit the amount of time we spend doing anything. Take this particular project where we're blogging about time and photography as it captures a segment of time.  Each post can be limited, but the subject matter can be explored over and over from different angles.

That said, “Time’s up!” It’s your turn to weigh in.  Do you have a favorite "Time" cliché you'd like to share?  Please do!  We could explore it and then perhaps feature it in a future post.  Let's do this together and see where it takes us.

And last but certainly not least, I resurrected this photo taken several years ago.  This iconic clock resides in the center of New York City's Grand Central Station - photographed and edited in a very unfamiliar and unconventional way.  But of course.

“Time does not pass, it continues” 
― Marty Rubin

To view more of my photography on Etsy click here:  https://www.etsy.com/shop/KateRyanFineArt

Liz Madden-Zibman writes imaginative tales and literary fiction, exploring themes of  hope, renewal and creativity. Her novel chapters, short stories and poetry are published in Shaking Lit: Best Prose 2007-2010, Transfer 37, The Kelsey Review, The Kennesaw Review, the U.S. 1 Newspaper Summer Fiction Issue, and most recently, Voices & Visions and La Pluma y La Tinta, New Voices Anthology. Liz has a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing from Fairleigh Dickinson University and a Bachelor’s degree in English/Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. She teaches research writing in the disciplines, at Rutgers University.  Contact her at: ezibman@gmail.com

Monday, April 27, 2015

9 to 5 in Slow Motion

9 to 5.  What comes to your mind when you hear or read this expression?  The office?  The commute?  An everyday routine that brings home the bacon?  Sometime you do between weekends and vacations?  Monotony?  The comfort and security of familiar repetition?

This series of photos, that I've titled 9 to 5 in Slow Motion, evolved as a "practice" activity I pursued while riding the commuter rail train to and from Philadelphia. Because the trains were populated with people going back and forth from work, I couldn't help but associate my photos to their ritual. I'm fascinated with capturing slow motion with my camera.  It's very visceral to me and speaks to the emotions rather than the intellect.  The industrial and uninteresting scenery when elongated and slowed becomes impressionistic and beautiful in it's own right.  Graffiti on walls becomes a burst of color that actually brightens the landscape.  

In the end, I couldn't help but see the metaphor that speaks to what we miss in life as we move through the hours, the days, the weeks, the year.  Slow down and observe the subtle beauty that surrounds us.  You just never know what you will see, find or experience.

“Strange, what being forced to slow down could do to a person.” 
― Nicholas SparksThe Last Song

To view more of my photography on Etsy click here:  https://www.etsy.com/shop/KateRyanFineArt

Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Charms of Spring Linger Longest in My Memory

Spring is about two weeks late in this part of the world.  But nonetheless, and ever so slowly, the new season has begun to display her charms in dreamy and enchanting ways.  After months of soft browns as the backdrop, an infusion of green, yellow, pink and purple have quietly begun to dot the landscape. One of the first of nature's bounty to awaken from the neutral stupor is the weeping willow tree.  During a recent stroll, I came across such a lovely example with sweeping low branches, drooping and falling gracefully; unhurried and relaxed.  An added visual bonus was the fact that the other trees surrounding it had not started to turn green, so it stood out in all it's delicate splendor.  And with a bit of water reflection close by - viola! I had a composition just waiting to be framed and captured.

From my point of view, an abstract interpretation was the only way to photography this scene. So, I applied slow shutter speed and intentional camera movement to achieve what was in my mind's eye.  This blurred and fleeting scene is the impression that will last the longest in my memory.

How about you?  Does spring beguile you with colors, fond memories, fleeting moments that last long after the fact? Or, is there another season that seduces you more readily?

And so, I leave you with this quote and as much goodness that can be reasonably absorbed!

“She turned to the sunlight
    And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
    "Winter is dead.” 
― A.A. MilneWhen We Were Very Young

To view more of my photography on Etsy click here:  https://www.etsy.com/shop/KateRyanFineArt

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Sunrise, Beginnings, and the Miracle of Daybreak

Full disclosure:  getting up in the middle of the night and driving (usually) to a location known for its sunrise views is an exercise in self-inflicted torture for me.  I've done it so infrequently I could count the times on one hand.  So I was pleasantly surprised recently too discover (while rummaging through my image files) this set of sunrise photos taken while in the Cayman Islands almost four years ago.   Metaphorically speaking, I was in the "beginning" stages of my photography journey (similar to the sun's movement toward the break of day).   I seem to recall that at that time I didn't think these images were all that great.  What???  What was I thinking???  I look at them now and can barely believe that I took them.  Of course, the location and view helped me along.

So how did I manage to rip myself out of my slumber to take them? Well, I was at a friend's house and the porch overlooked the beach and ocean.  I remember sitting on that porch, in my nightgown, not quite awake but setting up the camera, and just waiting for the show to begin.  The 6 photos you see in this collage were taken sequentially with probably no more than a half an hour between the first and last one you see.   No editing has been done to them.  What is most amazing to me (aside from the fact that I took them!) is the way the sunrise unfolds; the way color changes from one to the other; the reflections on the water; and the brilliance and miracle of another day.

Oh, to be able to repeat this experience....

And so I leave you with this quote:

“Sunrise looks spectacular in the nature; sunrise looks spectacular in the photos; sunrise looks spectacular in our dreams; sunrise looks spectacular in the paintings, because it really is spectacular!” 

― Mehmet Murat ildan

To view more of my photography on Etsy click here:  https://www.etsy.com/shop/KateRyanFineArt

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

BeStill52: Week 11: Timing and Humanity

The weeks are flying by.  Sometimes the days blend and fold into each other.  BeStill52 Week 11 challenged us to print some of our images, create a collage, and then photograph that.  I don't have an in-house printer, and have been caught up in busyness that involve bits of this and bits of that...so printing my images will just not happen in this week 11.  Maybe week 12.  We'll see.

In the meantime, for those of you who may not understand the creative process, here's a story.  Sometimes I agonize and over think a composition; it gets mentally painful; and the results show it (from my point of view).  And other times, an idea rolls around in my brain, not formed and finished exactly, but lingering and lurking until I stop - breathe - focus - and "just do it."  I have a meditation book (actually I have a few!) called "Five Good Minutes" by Jeffrey Brantley and Wendy Milstine.  You can purchase it on Amazon.  I grabbed it one morning a few days ago, haphazardly opened to page 93...and then...all the desperate and unrelated creative ideas and pieces fell into place.  This image is the result.  I spent maybe 10 minutes photographing it.  That's record-breaking speed for me!  AND I love it.  So, there is a lesson in this - or maybe multiple messages.  Stillness.  Timing.  Readiness.  Flow.  Serendipity.  Whatever.  But I know I seem to visit / revisit these lessons / messages over and over and over again.  But that's ok.  I'm a "human being...."

And so, I leave you with a quote about "stillness."  Ponder and linger; let it roll around in your mind.  See where it takes you.

“Be still
Stillness reveals the secrets of eternity” 
― Lao Tzu

To view more of my photography on Etsy click here:  https://www.etsy.com/shop/KateRyanFineArt

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Past: Back to My Future

Recently, I got to spend a few days at Long Beach Island with a good friend.  I do like the winter quietude that surrounds this place but look forward equally to the summer season and all its raucous activity.  For me, having grown up in the East and having spent many summers at "the shore" as we call it here, it is familiar and comfortable.  A second home really.  And at this point in my life, I like familiar and comfortable.  And so, this beach, a barrier island, on the edge of New Jersey, an eastern edge of this continent, takes me back to my early childhood.  My grandfather had a summer cottage in this area and I spent the happiest days of my childhood romping around these parts.  And so, with some luck and determination, I hope to rediscover the area this summer...surrounding myself with old, dusty, dreamy memories simultaneously creating new, exciting adventures and escapades.  I wasn't in full photographer mode while visiting - my hostess is not a camera buff but I managed to do some good scouting around (for future photo sessions!).  I like all 4 below, but the solo bird moves me emotionally.  I wasn't prepared for "bird photography" (it requires equipment I just don't have...and probably never will!)...but I took this shot at the faraway angle on purpose.  I like the way the tiny bird appears against the big, expansive sky.  Lots of meaning for me in it.

And so, I leave you with two quotes this time...I liked them equally so decided to include both:

“When I look back on my childhood, my earliest memories seem like artifacts from a long-lost civilization: half-understood fragments behind museum glass.” 
― Matthew FlamingThe Kingdom of Ohio

“One thing about past challenges I never let go of: the fact that I made it through, survived, and learned a great deal.” 
― Charles F. GlassmanBrain Drain The Breakthrough That Will Change Your Life

To view more of my photography on Etsy click here:  https://www.etsy.com/shop/KateRyanFineArt

Friday, March 20, 2015

BeStill52: Week 10 - Light at 45 Degrees

It's Friday.  So glad.  Although it is snowing here on this first day of spring.  Ok then.  So, this week's BeStill52 assignment required we consider the light source in our composition from various angles. Simply put:  the 45 degree angle - or as Kim Klassen put it - the 10 or 11 o'clock position, or perhaps the 1 or 2 o'clock position.  Last week, when I was practicing my "be still" mode (not so much, she admits sheepishly), I happened upon this composition.  The simple elegance of Baby's Breath and my favorite prop (a teal-colored, glass, gourd-shaped vase) called out to me like a siren whispering softly in the wind.  Yes, this photographic passion constantly pulls you in, lures you to grab that camera - in a good way, of course.  So, although I was a bit ahead of this week's assignment (light at 45 degrees), I believe I accomplished the goal.  However, I do plan to do a few more over the next week exploring light at this angle.  And of course, I plan to be still and breathe.

And so I leave you good tidings for a great weekend and a quote about living a passionate life:

"There is no passion to be found
in settling for a life that is less
than what you are capable of living."

Nelson Mandela

To view more of my photography on Etsy click here:  https://www.etsy.com/shop/KateRyanFineArt

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

A Day at The Beach

This past Sunday I was lucky enough to spend a few hours at Island Beach State Park in New Jersey. The sky was perfect.  The park stunningly beautiful.  I love the winter beach vibe.  Along with traditional photo capturing, I took some impressionistic liberties.  This popular abstract approach has various names in the world of photography: motion blurs, swipes, intentional camera movement, slow shutter speed, to name a few.  Applying this in-camera technique allowed me to really tease out the mood that surrounded me...cold, for sure, windy, yes, but yet dreamy, other worldly.  I softened the "color" of the day to a peaceful blue green - because even with all the weather elements whipping and swirling around me - it was calm and serene.   I can't wait to go back!

All comments welcomed! I leave you with a quote on calm and storm:

"There are some things you learn best in calm, and some in storm."

― Willa Cather

To view more of my photography on Etsy click here:  https://www.etsy.com/shop/KateRyanFineArt

Thursday, March 12, 2015

BeStill52 Week 9: Just Be Still

I'm curious - how many of you struggle with "being still"?  Do you have little habits or rituals that help you deal with it?   Photography - being in the moment behind the lens - is one way I combat this pesky behavior.

So on that note, here it is - Week 9 of my BeStill52 Journey.  Kim Klassen, our workshop leader, has asked that we take a breather, reflect, look back at our accomplishments and challenges.  No techie stuff this week - no photo assignment.  And, as always - Be Still.  Well, for me - breathing is easy. Being still - that's another issue. So, as best I can refrain myself from darting here and there in my house looking - always looking - for the "right light" (photography is all about "the light) - I will "be still" - at least for a couple of days.

So, in the spirit of "looking back" - here is a sampling of images produced over the last 8 weeks while on this road to stillness.

As mentioned in my first post, I plan to feature other friends and colleagues involved in the creative arts from time to time.  This is a work in progress, so please indulge me as I get used to this blogging thing.

All comments welcomed! I leave you with a quote today on stillness by Geoffrey M. Gluckman:

“Feel your emotions,
Live true your passions,
Keep still your mind.” 

― Geoffrey M. Gluckman

To view more of my photography click here: http://etsy.me/1tMazZW

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

BeStill52 Week 8

Welcome to my blog!  Thank you for popping in.  I hope you'll stick around.  Full disclosure: I've been dragging my feet for over a year to get a blog up and running. Don't ask.  Lots to explain but let me keep this somewhat short: I began a simple journey 8 years to reawaken my creativity through photography. I never could have imagined where it was to take me, the joy it would bring me, and the talented and generous people I would befriend.  More about this journey will be revealed in time.  So, fast-forward to the present:  I'm in the throes of a 52 week still life workshop taught by Kim Klassen called BeStill52.  The challenges:  learn stillness, calmness, breathing softly, photographing slowly and with intent....oh, and improve your still life photography along the way. Today's image is the 8th of a total of 52 (44 more to go).  The assignment was to capture a photo using a technique called "back-lighting."  Basically, it's meaning is simple:  the light source is behind your subject.

I promised to keep things short...and so there you have it for now.  Besides showcasing my journey, I plan to feature the work of other creative friends...photographers, writers, and others involved in the visual arts.  I will leave you with this week's quote:

“The world is but a canvas to the imagination.”  — Henry David Thoreau

Hope to see you soon!  To see more of my work in my Etsy shop, click here: http://etsy.me/1tMazZW