Tag Archives: color photograph

SPLENDOR IN ECUADOR – PART 1

It’s hard to believe that three weeks have passed since we returned home from our Ecuador adventure. I had hoped to get some images posted sooner than this, but a long, particularly vicious bout of food poisoning (courtesy of the Mexico City airport) and a couple of upcoming exhibitions, which required my immediate attention, threw sand in the gears. Also, by choosing to travel without my computer, my normal process of downloading images everyday to manage my work flow was severely hobbled, and by the time I got home, with two full camera cards, I felt completely overwhelmed by the task of dealing with all those images.

Yet, I made a start.

Here are some of the colors of Ecuador and the beauty of the indigenous people that caught my eye on the streets of Cuenca, a beautiful colonial city in the Andean highlands; in the coastal town of Puerto Lopez; and at the archeological site of Ingapirca, ruins that were originally used by the Cañari people as an observatory.

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PORTRAITS: A BURGEONING INTEREST

Patrick in South Bend, Washington

Patrick. Photo © Jane Alynn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s been quiet on this blog for awhile now. I admit it, I’m not one of those photographer-writers who posts while on the road. A big part of traveling, for me, is disconnection from the usual routines, the habits of daily life, the dullness of familiarity. I like being lost.

I like losing myself amid abandoned structures in the middle of nowhere, in the tangle of weeds in the forefront of an urban skyline, in the street life of any town or city. I’d just as soon lose myself in the changing clouds, in the ripples on Roosevelt Lake, or in the cacophony of color on Baker Street than to lose myself in my computer screen.

But in my recent travels I discovered a new way to lose myself.

Wherever we went it was the characters who fascinated me. Though I’ve been a people-watcher for a very long time, I haven’t been a people photographer. But why not? Portraits have an an important place in photographic history. And anything that fascinates is a good subject.

So now I’m thinking about a new project: a series of images of people that tell a story about who they were at that moment in their lives. Patrick is a good beginning.

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ON THE ROAD AGAIN!

Abandoned house with red door, Loomis, WA

Abandoned house with red door, Loomis, WA. Photo © Jane Alynn.

“The open road is a beckoning, a strangeness, a place where a man can lose himself.”
⁓ William Least Heat Moon

tasting the berries
greeting the bluejays
learning and loving the whole terrain
⁓ Gary Snyder, from The Old Ways

“Most of us have a fire in the belly, a passion or desire that burns brightest in us. It’s the heat and energy from this fire that moves us forward, gives momentum to our projects, and authenticity to our voice…. Don’t you dare neglect feeding the fire in your soul; don’t for a moment allow the embers to grow cold. It’s never worth the sacrifice.”
David DuChemin, from “Tend the Fire,” posted April 1, 2015
 

Shortly after this post hits the ether, we’ll be on the road again. Some recent events woke me up to the fact that life cannot be taken for granted. If the things that stoke the fire in my soul are traveling and working on photographic projects that excite me, then now is the time. Not tomorrow, not later—now!

As a blogger, I know that consistency matters, and that long absences will lop off most of your readers. To my mind, the greater urgency is making the work. Doing work that matters imparts new vigor to the work and to your mind. And if that means being unplugged for awhile, so be it.

We’ll be traveling for about four weeks, exploring northeastern Washington State and the Canadian Okanagan Valley. Those old towns and abandoned mining sites have interested me for some time. Mostly, I’ll be using my medium format film camera fit with a zone plate to capture their place in time and timelessness, the ephemerality of dreams and memory, the dark beauty of decay.

There are certain images, of course, that are better conveyed as “straight”: the odd juxtaposition, the absurd, the ironic, the out-of-place-out-of-time characters, structures, and details. So I’ll be bringing a digital camera, too.

Just so you know, I’m still a bit of a simpleton about digital file management, and I have no experience in getting my photographs into Lightroom while I’m on the road. So I cannot promise any posts. However, I just opened an Instagram account and will at least try to post some iPhone images. You can follow me on Instagram at janealynn_photography.

Cheers!

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LOOKING AT PHOTOGRAPHS

Apples on the tree in Tieton, Washington

Apples, Tieton, Washington.

For the past week, I have felt this intense need to look at photographs. I don’t mean to look at photographs-in-the-making, those being exposed; I mean to look at photographs that are printed images.

Truth is, I haven’t been out with my camera for awhile, so mining my old files, looking at photographs made by me or someone else that inspires me is the next best thing.

To see them with expanded awareness—Minor White’s approach to seeing, which is akin to meditation or “being still with yourself”—is a way for me to stay sane in the face of my growing apprehension about some health issues. Even though it’s hard to relax into a soft focus when I’m anxious, if I can bring myself to a heightened state of awareness, and look at images from that place, my vision is as creative as the act of making the image in the first place.

Reading poetry, like looking at photographs, can change you.

This poem by Jane Hirshfield comes to mind:

Bad Year

Even in this bad year,
the apples grow heavy and round.
Three friends and I trade stories:
biopsy, miscarriage, solitude,
a parent’s unravelling body or mind.
What is reliable? What do you hold?
I demand of the future, later.
The future–whose discretion is perfect–
says nothing, but rolls another
apple loose from its grip.
A hopeful yellow jacket comes to hunt
the crack, the point of easy entry.

© Jane Hirshfield, from After

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THE SILENCE IS NEARLY PERFECT

Causland Park, Anacortes
 
Today I found myself thinking these negative thoughts because there is so much craziness happening in the world now! The danger, of course, is overlooking the positives—a concord of flowering trees, early daffodils, returning birds, the sun getting it right—just outside my window.

I’m glad to be brought back to the present moment.

And to a breath of silence.

*

Starlings and the Cormorant

Not yet dawn
I walk in a soft rain
unprepared
for the cloudburst
of starlings
that drop
from powerlines and houses
by the thousands
into a spruce tree;
their song, twittery and bright,
is something miraculous—
Swelled from a few
once let loose
they sing with continual freedom,
no fear, no ambition,
running the gamut naturally
in trills and tremolos,
warbles in an unbroken litany.

And when I leave
the birdsong behind to return
to my quiet room, wondering
what to do with words,
I stand there in the darkness,
drenched, arms outstretched
like a cormorant drying her wings.
I try to hear, if there’s a voice,
what she would sing
but the silence is nearly perfect.

© Jane Alynn
from Necessity of Flight (Cherry Grove, 2011)

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ON THE SOLSTICE

Umptanum Canyon

I am always filled with a bit more optimism on this day. To know that days are now getting longer and that soon I will wake in the light rather than the dark is heartening. The sun (and light) is such an integral part of my psychic lift. It is from this place that I offer a poem and two photographs.

Beginnings

~ after lines from Jane Hirshfield

The winter solstice is upon us. Under the darkest of night skies
I think not about the blackness, sorrow, perversity,
or the certainty of earth’s destruction. I think about beginnings:

the return of the swans, like little gods, their bodied grace
rises out of the dark; the emergence of snowberries
on winter twigs, white-light switched-on, bright spots of hope

some genius invented for the greatest possible glow;
or the opening fanfare of winter pansies in my garden
which, by solar-sense, turn their little faces to follow the sun.

And in the dark I move closer to you, to become a single thing,
all desire, warmth, breath, flesh glowing sweat, giving
everything. And everything in us wants to begin

the whole thing again from the beginning.
Wrapped in these heavenly rhythms, we, too, turn
towards the light to wake with the sun on our faces.

Sol, Nevada City

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A GIFT OF A DIFFERENT KIND

Wind Spinner, Santa Fe. Photo © Jane Alynn.

Last chance! Buy one and get one free!

‘Tis the season to be needled by these constant commercials. It is why December makes my head spin.

When I had children at home, gifts were part of the deal. The kids always had long lists of wants and would be on fire with anticipation. I would rush around, going from store to store, swept along in the holiday hustle and bustle, to fulfill my mission to find the right gifts for everyone.

These days the holiday season is simpler and much less stressful.

I came to realize that my favorite gifts over the years were not things. They were experiences. Moments. Time with family and friends, making music, art, and travel memories; sharing real conversation; and breaking bread together.

And time alone. Whether it was a long walk, mediation, or a solo field day to a place I loved, solitude gave me the gift of space to reconnect to myself.

Need some other ideas?

One of my favorite photographer-bloggers, David duChemin, offers some great ideas. Here are three:

Give a gift of patronage. Buy art. Buy a print from a high school kid or from the guy in your camera club. Buy a book of poems or short stories from an unpublished author at your writers’ circle.

Donate a piece of your work to a local non-profit, such as a hospice.

Give them your presence instead of your presents.

Joe McNally, another generous photographer-blogger, suggests giving the gift of sponsorship, partnering with a local non-profit to sponsor a young photographer or writer.

And perhaps the greatest gift is that of compassion. There are so many opportunities to help those who are suffering.

Today, I received a plea from my poetry mentor, Peter Levitt, who has with eight others on Salt Spring Island formed the Salt Spring Refugee Sponsorship Group because “we feel we cannot stand-by in face of the increasing crisis in the Middle East and Europe.” The group is dedicated to “do something hands-on to help refugees from Syria to come to Canada,” and is asking for donations.

These are gifts of a different kind. They cost little but serve BIG.

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LET THE FEELING BE LOVE

Couple on the Beach, Waldport, OR

All you need is love.
~ John Lennon (October 9, 1940 – December 8, 1980)

The deluge of news about acts of terror at home and around the world makes it easy to believe that danger lurks behind every door, that we are not safe, and that we must then be wary of everyone who is different from us. Otherness becomes a defense for fear and suspicion, which hardens into irrational beliefs that lead us to act out against innocent people. Closed doors, hearts, and minds are the enemy of life.

It is a dangerous progression. And the media, in reporting the rhetoric of hate, further deepens ignorance and extremism.

I’ve written before about the power of words and how they affect seeing.

Clarity of vision demands a receptive, compassionate heart, free of labels and preconceptions.

So let the feeling be love.

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Giving Thanks

On the Church Steps, Lourmarin, France

On the Church Steps, Lourmarin, France. Photo © Jane Alynn

Today, I want to share an image for which I am especially thankful.

I took this photograph several years ago when I was lucky enough to spend several weeks in Paris and also in the Provençal countryside. For that opportunity alone gratitude was in the front of my mind.

While I am always grateful for photographs I make when everything comes together—the right light, a captivating moment, the relevant compositional elements—so that what I am seeing and feeling gets communicated, sometimes an image that is less than exceptional can have a large impact and can change me.

This photograph was one of those. What made it so important was:

1. I was in France, a country that filled me with wonder and love, and I was changed by being there.

2. I had never before focused my lens on people and in doing so realized a long-buried ambition to capture moments of humanity. This has added a whole new dimension to my work that pleases me.

What photographs have you taken that changed you or that impacted you in some way?

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A Poem by Yusef Komunyakaa for this Day of Remembrance

Guard Tower, Manzanar

Guard Tower, Manzanar. Photograph © Jane Alynn.

Thinking of all our Veterans today.

I offer a poem by Yusef Komunyakaa, from his 1988 collection, Dien Cai Dau, which focused on his experiences in Vietnam. Dien cai dau is Vietnamese for “crazy in the head,” a phrase that was said to be used by the locals to refer to American soldiers fighting in their country.

Facing It

My black face fades,
hiding inside the black granite.
I said I wouldn’t,
dammit: No tears.
I’m stone. I’m flesh.
My clouded reflection eyes me
like a bird of prey,
the profile of night
slanted against morning. I turn
this way–the stone lets me go.
I turn that way–I’m inside
the Vietnam Veterans Memorial
again, depending on the light
to make a difference.
I go down the 58,022 names,
half-expecting to find
my own in letters like smoke.
I touch the name Andrew Johnson;
I see the booby trap’s white flash.
Names shimmer on a woman’s blouse
but when she walks away
the names stay on the wall.
Brushstrokes flash, a red bird’s
wings cutting across my stare.
The sky. A plane in the sky.
A white vet’s image floats
closer to me, then his pale eyes
look through mine. I’m a window.
He’s lost his right arm
inside the stone. In the black mirror
a woman’s trying to erase names:
No, she’s brushing a boy’s hair.

Yusef Komunyakaa

From Dien Cai Dau, Wesleyan University Press, 1988.

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