This challenge is simple: step back for a few minutes each week to find a lovely thing, a precious moment, anything you find lovely. Then post about it. You can just post a picture or you can go into detail and tell it as a reflection, story or poem.
It could be anything:
a smile…a rainbow…a flower…a kind act…a tasty treat
Today is pretty rainy…but, if you are looking for lovely, then raindrops on roses are a classic. Not plural today though: there is just the one brave flower blooming.
Gan Xingfu (chasing happiness) 赶兴福
This November I am chasing happiness by photographing and sharing one lovely thing I see each day. I do edit the photos, often with an artistic effect like the one above, because playing with a lovely thing makes me happy.
Note: My son checked with his co-workers and, while they haven’t heard the phrase gan xingfu, they thought it was just fine to use.
A chance ray of sunlight lit this rose, making it pop from the surroundings.
I continue my exploration of chiaroscuro.
This is a Renaissance painting using chiaroscuro:
I took these photos yesterday between rain showers. One typical feature of chiaroscuro is the light coming from a specific direction. In this case the sky was a mix of dark clouds and blue, when the sun hit a break in the clouds it came between some nearby trees.
Detail in the bright areas
Another feature is that the brightly lit subjects have a lot of detail. Since I wanted detail in the highlights I chose what some would consider an under exposure (I used the P mode and set the exposure compensation to -0.3) and made sure the depth of field was great enough to get the whole flower. The settings were F 4.0, 1/320s and ISO 100 the focal length was 8.8 mm (24 mm 35 mm equivalent).
High contrast between the lit subject and the dark surroundings (a.k.a., tenebrism)
I used Raw Therapee to darken the shadows without loosing detail in the highlights.
Moving the photo into the GIMP, I made a duplicate layer of the image, switched the duplicate to multiply blend mode, adjusted its opacity then used a tone curve on the resulting image to fine tune the contrast.
I just finished going back through the posts from this year, a longer project than expected. I posted a lot this year, including two months where I posted at least once a day!
Going through the posts, I noticed a few trends: lots of flowers, mostly taken while walking the dogs around the neighborhood:
Lots of sky photos with dramatic clouds, mostly taken locally (Puget Sound region), although New Zealand had some great clouds as well:
…And raindrops: a lot of pictures with close-ups of raindrops, perhaps a sign of spending most of my year in Seattle:
I’ve also been spending time learning about photo processing. I learned how to take things for a spin (and a lot about blending modes in the process):
…And spent quite a bit of time learning about black and white:
These experiments, and wanting to give myself some structure around keeping the experimentation up, led me to start a new monthly challenge on my other website:
I was not in a great place as the year started, because of some turmoil in the family. Until I reread the first post from 2020 : Another year over…I’d forgotten how depressed I was! I even left my 2018 wrap up in the featured block because it wasn’t sad. Turns out my conclusion was almost foresight, although not in the way I would have predicted!
We were truly blessed to have been able to spend some time with our son over Chinese New Year, we met in the middle (more or less) in New Zealand, and the pandemic was rearing its ugly head as we parted.
Since parting we message daily and have a video talk once a week. We are so fortunate to have these connecting technologies. It was so much more difficult for families living apart during the 1918 flu…most people didn’t even have telephones in those days!
So ends 2020.
I am opposed to making New Year’s resolutions and too many things are up in the air right now to make predictions…maybe it has always been so and, until now, we just didn’t realize how fragile our norms were.
I wish you all happiness and health in the year ahead!
I’ve been spending time this week reading about current events, and experimenting with black and white photo effects.
One trick I learned a few years ago was to look at a photo in black and white, it brings aspects of composition into focus that one misses in color. Sometimes something that seems almost incidental in a color photo will really jump out at you.
This is a time to listen, with our ears, and our hearts and minds. To put aside our opinions and really try to imagine walking in the shoes of others. It recurred to me that looking at things from a perspective of black and white may be a metaphor: it’s time to look at things in a totally new way.
As a conventional sort of person, the current events of the corona virus and the brutality of police toward citizens are really challenging me. But reading and listening, and trying to do so from other points of view to understand seem to be a necessary first step…Definitely before espousing opinions.
May has been a peculiar month. Warm and cold, sunny and rainy. The news of the day combined with the weather made me think about a poem I learned in my French class in high school:
Il pleure dans mon coeur,
Comme il pleut sur la ville…
Translated: it is crying in my heart like it is raining on the city. The weather was gloomy and wet, suiting the gloom in the news.
I took these photos yesterday. I’ve often thought that May and June are really seasons of their own, not really part of spring and summer. May is iris season and June is rose season. Summer in the Puget Sound region really doesn’t start until July. This little gallery shows what’s in bloom right now on the cusp of the change, with raindrops to represent the tears so many have had to shed this month.
My wish is that you and yours can stay safe and sane as the storms rage about us. May your season of the rose be blessed.