Monday, January 31, 2011

Back in the saddle in Seattle

Arrived at Seatac airport at 8:45 this morning.  Overcast and 38 degrees.  While I was gone someone turned down the thermostat.  Luckily, the sun did make a watery, wavering appearance later in the day and it warmed up to a balmy 42 degrees.  A far cry from the bliss in the sun we all experienced over the long weekend in Tucson.

As I was driving from Tucson to Phoenix last night, I had a huge epiphany about the photography thing.  Not only had I enjoyed the sun for its warmth, but I had truly revelled in the ability to capture it in my photographs.  I love playing with light and shadow and it will be months until the sunlight is direct enough here in the Northwest to throw a shadow with as strong of a contrast as Tucson this past weekend.  I consoled myself with the thought of turning to color and pattern and the activity that comes with spring for my future subjects. 

I haven't taken a picture in a couple of days now and will struggle to find the time before the weekend as I pitch myself headlong into work as I did today.   I have posted a picture from our trip downtown Tucson on Saturday afternoon.  It's an interesting picture and as I sit looking at it now, I realize how I could have made it better by not centering the first little doorway in my lens.  If I had stood a bit to the left, I would have a more asymmetrical picture and we would have been able to see further inside the second little door in the distance.  That's what happens when you don't have/take the time to look past the obvious shot.   It also would have removed the center iron pole that detracts from seeing the interior court as a tranquil sunny spot on a warm Saturday afternoon.  A pure moment gone uncaptured, but a lesson learned.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Another day in the sun

Today we spent a long day on our feet.  We visited some of the show tents on the frontage road along I-10.  It provided a bare bones look at this show that I didn't see the last time I came to Tucson in 2009.

These tents are set up in dirt lots so things are very dusty.  Outside the tents, there are pallets loaded with heavy loads of rough stones and huge geodes.  I was lucky enough to get Charlene and Meryl (Carol) to pose in front of this one to show the actual size.  It really was impressive.

Another method for shipping the product to Tucson is in large metal drums.  I can't even begin to fathom the cost of shipping what must be tons of stone to this show.

Here is a picture of a pallet that caught my eye.  At first I thought it was a pallet of chunks of brightly colored foam.  I walked up and tapped on one and was surprised to find that they were blocks of various stone.  I'm wondering a couple things here.  The first is how much does this pallet weigh and is that the natural color?  I wouldn't think that the stone would be dyed in this form.  I would think that it would be cut into beads before being dyed.  I'm curious, I'll have to look that up or ask someone.

This final photo illustrates the draw of the Tucson shows.  This crate came all the way from Auckland, New Zealand.  Since coming by ship had to be the least expensive method of shipping it here, I wonder how long that crate spent getting here.

Only one more day here in Tucson.  Tomorrow will be spent visiting some of the more "polished" shows.  At the end of the day, I will have dinner with an ex-coworker who retired to Tucson several years ago before driving to Phoenix where I will catch an early morning flight.  This has been a great experience and it isn't over yet!

Shadow Play

Today's assignment from Andrew was to take a picture of shadows.   I loved it. 
This was my favorite for the day.  We were at the Old Town Artisans Galleries in downtown Tucson.  I walked out of one of the galleries into the court yard and was stunned by this metal Kokopelli statue and his "mini-me". 

Another neat picture that I captured at the galleries wasn't exactly a shadow but some backlit wind chimes.  It is so graphically stark.  I have really enjoyed the chance that this trip has provided to work on my photography and the encouragement from Andrew and Kate to begin blogging.

This is a shadow picture that I took yesterday at Tohono Chul park.  There was a rock with petroglyphs reproduced by a local artist.  I tried to locate the whorl where my heart is.  The sun, lower in the winter sky, cast a long shadow.

When you set out to look for shadows, you really are looking for things that are not there.  An additional challenge is that for most of us, they are everyday and common place.  That fact makes them easily overlooked.  I like this type of exercise.  It forces you to really open your eyes to a different way of seeing the world around you.

Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose...

Yesterday, one of our exercises was to be given a word to photograph.  My word was given to me by Charlene and the word was FREEDOM.

At first glance, the fence in this photo seems like the antithesis of freedom.  But look at the plant behind it.  It is healthy and thriving.  The fence is a limitation of which the plant is unaware. 

We all have the choice to disregard the little fences in our life and thrive outright.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Tohono Chul and Thrift Stores

Another fine, sunny day in Tucson.  After a discussion about social media and the power of blogging, we sped off to our first stop; the Tohono Chul Park.  This desert preserve is north of Tucson in the older section of Tucson.  We were all excited about the photo op treat in store for us on the drive out there.  On the way there were some very nice "low slung" adobe looking homes on the rolling foothills.  It was quite pleasing to the eye to see how well they fit in to the landscape.

Once at the park we hit the ground running.  If you can picture someone dumping a bucket of marbles out on a smooth floor you have a great visual for what happened after we all passed through the entry turnstile.  Everyone was out of site within a minute!  Although we ran into each other at different points, all of us were focused on exploring, enjoying the fine sunny day in a lovely setting AND getting some great photos.

I was especially wrapped up in the wide range of light I saw through my lens.  In this one, the light is softened as it comes through the translucent peeling bark on this tree.

Then, I got wrapped up in shadows and strong geometrics.

The fence and its shadow.

Looking up through the "roof" of one of the shelters.

I believe this is a Century Cactus.  Reminds me of Jaws.

In several of the shady areas, there were remnants of cactus making their way back into the garden's food chain.

As I was taking this picture of one of the Saguaro cactus, one of the park's docents walked by, looked up and said in a surprised tone "Oh, look, he's growing arms!".

 Another of the docents had an exhibit with specimens of the various wildlife that inhabits the desert.  She had bugs of all sizes in lucite and a turtle shell. She also had something I had never seen.  They are called scutes and they have patterns of concentric rings that like tree rings can be used to determine the age of the turtle.  Here is a close up of one.

At the left edge of the picture above was a hollow turtle shell.  It made a great frame for a picture of Kathi.

Next I had some fun with the Organ Pipe cacti.  This is looking down on a little one.  So pretty and yet so dangerous looking.

And nestled amongst all the big ones, I noticed a baby sprouting up through the gravel.

I was listening to one of the docents as I happened to look down and noticed this cactus.   Not only is the light and shadow interesting, but you can see a reptile like pattern running up some of the leaves.  These were created by the inner layer of spines/leaves being pressed against the next layer's edges.  You can see that not only do they have nasty looking spines, the edges are scalloped causing the pattern.

One more cactus shot.  I reget I don't remember the name of this one.  It has such a lovely color to it.

On the way back to Kate's for another fantastic lunch, we hit the best little Goodwill in Tucson.  I found a perfectly smashing pair of faux snake skin pants that I think will add interest to one of my handmade purses that I will make in the future.  Interesting thing is that they fit me.  Perhaps I will loan them to Merle when she goes bar-hopping with Andrew tomorrow night!  The're long enough Merle!

After lunch we worked on our blogs before going out to Savers.  Kate had a definite gleam in her eye at the onset of that trip.  I decided to have some fun with looking at things from a different perspective.   I was impressed with how clean the floors were.  I had one of the customers do a double take while I took the first picture.

We're visiting the Gem Shows tomorrow.  Several in the group are apprehensive as they have heard how overwhelming it will be.  With Kate and Andrew at the helm, I'm sure it will be a blast.


The beginning.  That's right here.  I'm not sure where I am headed, but I'll arrive eventually.  So, off like a prom dress.

I'm here in Tucson in a workshop with some great people.  The idea is to live in the moment, be aware at multiple levels and above all else, HAVE FUN.  That's the message loud and clear.
Our first stop, a real treasure trove, was at the Copper Country Antiques Mall.  Unlike the antique malls in Seattle, this one lacked the sham veneer of trying to be upscale.  The good, the bad and  the ugly was tucked, jammed and overflowing the space inside.  Photos of the adventure follow.

This is a portion of  a 16"x20" framed collection of butterfly wings mounted in a kaleidoscopic pattern.  The lavendar-turquoise was actally iridescence.  At a different angle, they were pearly gray.

A great example of something that leaves one speechless.  This is one that I have to ask you "What would you do with this if you received it as a gift?"

In one of the locked cases there was a shelf filled with these little cuties.  I liked the expressions on these two best.

This item, I cannot determine:
  1. what happened?
  2. why didn't they just throw it away?
  3. should this have been in the thrift shop section?
  4. who will buy it?
Beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder.  I must be blind...

 I'm thinking of calling this "Porthole to a Crowded Universe"  (Sad to admit, this looks like my workshop at home).

At this point I realized that my watch was still on Seattle time and instead of having 1 hour and 25 minutes left, I only had 25 minutes left (Arizona doesn't follow daylight savings time).  As I rushed through the remaining 2/3 of the store, I noticed ths ammonite lamp.  I would have LOVED to take this home with me.  It had a tidy price of $500 on it so I settled for a photo that doesn't do it justice.  I really was drawn to the warm glow it cast. 

After lunch, which was prepared by our hosts Kate and Andrew, we visited an eclectic used clothing store and Kate came up to me and suggested that I take several pictures of the antlers on the wall from different angles.  She said that what I see looking at it with my naked eye is different than what the camera will see. 

Here's where I started.  I like the shadows in this one.  You're most likely going to see more of them here.

Then, there was this cool thing in the front of the store that was fun to photograph.  I sure wish I noticed what it was...

So endeth this post.  I didn't think I'd be able to get this far and am quite pleased with myself!