The Eastern Sierras of California have their own kind of magic. I’ve always known that. And of course, there’s a reason why Galen Rowell chose to call the town of Bishop in the Owens Valley home.
This past week, I ventured down that way as a sort of mini-retreat to clear my mind, heart and soul. After being nose-to-the-grindstone preparing and giving presentations, writing articles, birthing my newest work (which continues), getting ready for teaching travels to the Smoky mountains, Florida and France – AND masterminding new projects… I was ready to start singing the Inspiration Blues!
“Enough!” I cried. “It’s time for a pilgrimage!” (that’s what I call road trips.)
Here’s a paradox for you: When I go out to photograph nature, landscape and this gorgeous world of ours – I luxuriate in the experience. Every blessed second of it. I feel like I’m standing in the heart of creation, where I can mostly clearly hear the voice of the Divine.
OK, I know you know where air and earth meet. But what I’m talking about is where aerial and terrestrial photography meet and have a common ground. Where they support each other. Serve one another. Yeah, I’m fancy that way. Continue reading “Where Air & Earth Meet”→
We made it! This is Part 10 of: “Finding Your Voice… 10 Days, 10 Concepts To Help You Find Your Photographic Voice.” Our final day! Wow, what a journey it’s been… and I feel like it’s only just begun. There’s SO much more to talk about! As a final wrap up to this round, I leave you with some thoughts on voice… story… and you.
IMAGES TELL THE STORY OF YOU
At the end of the day… or 10, 20, 30 or 70 years from now… your images will tell your story. What do you want them to say? Do you want to look at each one with fond remembrance and say “Ahhhh, I loved that day”, warmed by the care you took to include your favorite things into each one in your clearest voice? Or be sad and think” Dammit! Why didn’t I take a moment before I pressed the shutter?” (worse yet: “What was I THINKING??”).
As humans, we’re hardwired for stories. Thousands of years of cave paintings prove that, if nothing else does. Each of us is living our own story, guided by our preferences, our loves, our aversions, our faith, so many things. Every moment is its own story, woven into the giant story-tapestry of time that contain all the moments that came before – and all that come after.
Oh boy! It’s Day 8 in: “Finding Your Voice… 10 Days, 10 Concepts To Help You Find Your Photographic Voice.”
Today, we’re going to wrap ourselves around…
Shapes and Patterns
A world without shapes or patterns is pretty much a blob. Ditto bones. 😉
Shapes and patterns are definitely important elements to watch for – and potentially build compositions around. But when it comes to your artist’s voice, you have to take it deeper. What shapes and patterns do you just go nuts over? Any and all? Organic ones? Geometric ones? Shapes and patterns in nature? Architecture? All of the above?
After you work that out – then the even bigger question to ask is why? How do those particular patterns make you feel? What kind of story/statement does that shape make? These answers are important to know, because they’ll tell you how to compose your shot, whether to wait for warm light, pink light or low light. Is the statement stronger in black and white? To know the answer, you have to know what the statement IS in the first place. And that is all about you and your point of view… your voice.
I just finished some changes around here and feel downright ebullient about it!
Hey, I coulda said “zippy”, but that sounded weird. I chose “ebullient” because it means: “overflowing with fervor, enthusiasm, or excitement.” Bingo! That’s what I feel right now, because I just revamped the photography section of my website.
“Why is this such a big deal?” I hear you wonder.
Honey, if you knew what it’s like for me to organize or build ANYTHING… you’d get why I feel like I just remodeled the kitchen!
I celebrate these little things, because I know this for sure: big things are made of interconnected little things. And the little things are like wee mini Tinker Belles; if you want ’em to stick around and multiply, they need love and applause!
I thought I’d keep it simple today. Simplicity is goooood. Simple for me today is posting one of my new pieces, taken a couple of weeks ago as the waves of thunderstorms we’ve been having lately first began streaming through. They’re the ones that make for BOOMING sunsets… and they only happen in just this way once a year. It’s been a particularly awesome season so far (it’s been RAINING! Yay!)… some say it’s because of El Niño and that we’re in for a record-breaking winter. True or not true? I dunno. But it makes me want to start battening down the hatches NOW!
This moment happened at Donner Summit in Truckee, California. It sums up how much I love it here… the expansive, soaring, so-glorious-it-makes-your-heart-FULL feeling I get whenever I’m home in the mountains. A single frame just wasn’t going to scoop it all up… so I created a pano image with right around 8 frames of super boomin’ sunsetty goodness. Even at that, there alot was left over. Hey, I’m not that greedy! Hope you enjoy…
16-55 f/2.8 lens.
Yes! You can buy this print… just click on it to learn more.
Creative photo processing isn’t for sissies. Especially if you share images publicly. There’s always bound to be someone who says something like… “Oh Karen” (fill in your own name for full effect)… “you’re so beautiful, your photos are so beautiful, but you do too much. You should try to be more natural. Also, try cropping to the golden third, it would be better balanced” (fill in many other trivial, uninvited bits of advice here for full effect.) Whatever. You know.
This is alot like walking down the street in a big city, with your tough girl face on (I always think of it as “my neutral face”… but have been informed it’s actually kinda scary. Which is OK with me, when strolling in an unfamiliar big city with expensive camera gear in my hands)… and having some dude slow down and leeringly say “Hey sweetheart, why the big frown? C’mon, lemme see you smile. Hey baby… ” as they sort of lunge toward you.
In my superhero imagination, this doesn’t end well for the poor sod. A few cool, swishy sound effects, punches and grunts, action too quick to catch on-camera and the poor sod is lying there unconscious with little cartoon tweety birds chirping over his head. My inner superhero is striding down the street, dusting off her hands, smiling that she was able to save the day. Yet again.
It’s been busy, brain-bendy and learning curvy lately and I still have more to do! It is, after all, a long and thrill-packed road we’re navigating. But here, it’s late afternoon on a Friday and I’m drifting toward a weekend state of mind.
I thought a new image from a peaceful sunrise morning at Zabriskie Point in Death Valley, California fit the mood perfectly. The air was chilly, but the colors were warm. The quiet: soothing to the bone. Though not typically a sunrise person… I actually got up at 3am to make the hour and half drive to be at this spot in time for the glorious rise of the sun. It was worth it.
It brought forth questions about how to tell a unique story of a monumental spot visited by many. Well, all I know how to do is shoot with my heart. With my soul. With all the light and thoughts and vision that moments such as this ignite in me. I close my eyes and let the grandness of it all fill me up. I don’t chase it. That never works. You have to use soft eyes. Sink in, let the moment wrap its arms around you until you nearly weep. Only then can you capture what you see… from what you feel.
So I say, go ahead; put on some music you love, raise a glass of your favorite refreshment… and let’s toast to our amazing journey on this incredible spinning little orb we call home.
I’m taking a deep breath. A really, really deep breath… because I’m going to talk about gear. Always dicey; it always incites such a ruckus, which is why I usually avoid it. Not to say I don’t have opinions! Mais non! I’m downright opinionATED, as anyone who knows me well can attest.
You may know I’m beginning a quest to find a light, mirrorless camera system that’ll lighten my gear load – but still allow me to create without compromise. I wrote a bit about it here and here. I knew this journey wouldn’t be easy – maybe not even possible! But I have to try. Today’s chapter: Sony & why it had to go back.
Carrying the weight of my gear is becoming an issue. My backpack full of my beloved Canon 6D’s and lenses has thrown me off-balance and taken me down a few times now. I don’t find that to be all that pleasant. Clambering over rocks, standing on ledges with 1000 ft drops and other landscape-y positions in which I find myself is becoming nerve-wracking. There are times I won’t even go for a shot I want simply because I’m scared that my pack with go all rogue and toss me over a cliff to an early death. That’s no good.
This was me, all clambered up in the giant granite boulders around Lake Tahoe. I had a smaller pack then and I had to be super careful… mine’s even heavier now!
I taught the hubs to photograph. It was a smart move. Really smart. Because not only do we get to go out and capture the world around us and marvel at how uniquely we each see the same moments… he also is really good at photographing people. At family and friends gatherings, Joe’s photos are always better than mine – and I mean by a long shot! What’s more, he took ALL the photos of me for this website. Very handy.
So one night in Santa Cruz, we headed out for some fresh air and a sunset on the bluffs overlooking the Pacific. This shot was taken with my Canon 6D as sunset was winding down, campfires on the beach were revving up and long exposures were fun because you didn’t need filters to stop down the camera anymore. I love juxtapositions like that…
This started as a simple photo post of a spankin’ new image, which I took with my Sony A7ii… then it took off from there. Typical! But imagery first…
This is from a lovely spot on the California coast, just north of Santa Cruz. I like coming here because it’s got several vantage points to take in. You can create 6 or 7 really unique points of view all in the same small area. It’s just beautiful and you get super great bang for the photographic buck. Love that!
Now, truth be told, I’m not really an ocean person. More of a mountain girl. That said, I really do enjoy my forays to the coastlands, because the contrast of vibe and scenery is so completely refreshing. The ocean speaks differently than my mountains. Different voice, different perspective, different smell, different air. I think different kinds of thoughts there, feel different things. I like that. As an artist, I really feel it’s important to constantly see and think… differently.
In this image, I like the contrasts. Movement and eternal stillness. Bright light and mysterious shadows. Fluid and solid. Earth and sky. Yummmmm!!
It made me want find a cool quote… and that’s when things got (even more) interesting!
I love watching people doing the thing they were born to do. They have no fear. It’s magic. There’s that moment when they ‘lean in’… embracing their true talent, their soul’s genius. It’s the moment when they let go and free-fall, landing in the waiting, loving arms of Creation itself. Oh man, that’s the moment that makes me weep with… I dunno, exactly. It just does. I feel like I’m witnessing a miracle – a burst of the Infinite. Cue the waterworks.
Those moments give me hope. Strength. But more, they fill me up with a presence so much greater than “little me”. In those moments I know there is a God. When someone goes there, they light up with their connection to the Greater Power. I thought of it when I watched Lady Gaga perform the “Sound of Music” medley at the Oscars this year. I’ve experienced it in so many gifted athletes, teachers, artists… and photographers. “I am not afraid.”
When we stop questioning our gifts, but embrace them… when we lean into what we love… when we listen – and heed – the quiet voice within… light and magic is unleashed. Knowingness takes over. Fear backs off. We’re clear, we’re present, we’re in ‘the zone.’ Darkness flees when the light shines, y’know?
What were YOU born to do?
I’d love to hear in the comments below!
I was invited to enter a contest for travel/photo-bloggers.
I know, RIGHT? But it’s sponsored by Thomas Cook – an awesome outfit – and it’s called “Explore the Elements”. As they put it…”It’s all about capturing and expressing the four elements through travel photography…” so I thought “What the heck?” And here we are.
So, OK, I love to travel. But to be honest: I don’t actually want to go EVERYwhere. I only love to go where my heart wants to go. Sometimes my head and heart have different ideas about that. Continue reading “Explore The Elements”→
If you’re here reading this, you’re doing it from our new hot bliggidy-blog home… on the website that’s taken about 9 months to create! (Yes, www.karenhutton.com) WooHOO!! New horizons, new light – and new place to play and create. Some cool new stuff is coming too, now that it has a home… we’re still building!
Let’s take a moment to breathe it all in… (OK, I’ll take a moment… because going live with this website has had me leaping around all crazy like a schoolgirl.) Ahhhhh…. (That’s me. Breathing.)
BTW… this is a brand new photo I’ve been saving for the new site to launch (it links to the newly revamped photo galleries). I love it. Every time I look at it, it just fills me with light, energy and wonder. That’s why I thought it would be the perfect one for the first post in our new world. 😀
New things are fun, aren’t they? New clothes, new ideas, new days… they make you feel reborn. Although it’s probably dorky to say that out loud. And yet… I just did.
Here’s a new photo. I took it last month, recently processed it. The light was just right to make this row of bright green pine trees look like a welcoming committee against their darker brethren scaling the mountain behind them. So I named this photo that: “Welcoming Committee”. ‘Cause that’s how I roll.
If you click on it, it’ll take you to yet ANOTHER new thing… my revamped photo site, which I’m still tweaking. This is so much fun… creating new stuff and sharing with you first!
"Love your blog. I stop by for the photography, I linger for the philosophy."
Kelley Morgan, Portland OR
"A beautiful mind will produce beautiful results. And to say the least, yours is a beautiful mind! Thank you for your wisdom and your inner "speak," as they both produce true art from the heart …"
Joe Hudspeth, Prineville OR
"Thank you Karen. A wonderful story but only the tip of the iceberg, the bigger part below the water is all the thousands of photographers you have inspired to chart their own journey, I know as I am one of them."
"Karen, thank you for the wonderful two day post. Your insights are truly thought provoking. I have never been a teacher, nor will I ever be, but to see someone see the light is a wonderful moment. Thanks again."
"As usual, another terrific story. I’m glad I found you but I have to be honest. I didn’t find you on Google + but did on Scott Kelby’s “The Grid”. Thanks for the inspiration in both images and by the pen/keyboard."
"Gads-what a girl! Thanks for the story, it is beautiful."
"Awesome story Karen — I loved reading about your life transformed. Of course I loved the photography theme and the geek in me is forever curious about the power of tech and the power of social platforms. But … for me it is the arc of lives transformed that inspires. Thank you so much for sharing. See you on G+ and in the Arcanum!"