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Welcome to my 2018 blog.  Blog entries will be about once a month, highlighting photos, observations, and insights, mainly from four inputs:

  • 2018 Photo-A-Day
  • Contemplative photography
  • Self-Expression via nature and landscapes
  • Musings on Photoautobiography and Photo Memoir

I will continue to explore the concept of Photoautobiography and Photo Memoir.     As Freeman Patterson said in a workshop a few years ago...."every photo you take is autobiographical"


And I will continue making entries about Contemplative Photography, specifically what the photo means to me and what it might imply spiritually.


Thanks for participating in my journey and through my contemplation in the past and during 2018.


Mary Ellyn Vicksta

Wabi Sabi: A Second Look

August 15, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

On a recent photo workshop, I was able to concentrate on something that I don't experience everyday:  fog coming in.


I was in St Martins, New Brunswick.  It's a small village on the Bay of Fundy.  What caused me to get out and take some photos was hearing the mournful cry of the foghorn overnight.  I looked out my window and thought it would be a good day to experience Wabi Sabi photography.


The fog was coming in.  The coolness on my skin felt good in the early morning.  There was dew on the grass.


Quietly. I enjoyed the moment through all of my senses.


Then I continued to walk and watch the scenery transform as the fog moved from the Bay of Fundy to where I was walking.   You can barely see the shoreline as the wave breaks, with the fog muting anything that you can see in the background.


Or just the beach and a wall of fog over the water.



Near the harbor area, the entryway to the Bay also had a light fog.



My walk continued and I was able to see the currents coloring the bay.



The fog was lifting somewhat so you could see further out into the Bay.





And on my return, I was able to see that the Kayak adventure was setting up for the day.



I appreciate the ability to start the day with the mournful cry of the foghorn and the appreciate of scenes that I don't have a chance to see in my everyday life.  What a delightful experience at St Martins on the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick.

Wabi Sabi, A First Look

August 13, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

I am enjoying studying approach to contemplative design called Wabi Sabi.  It's all about spending time quieting your mind, understanding what is front of you, accepting it, and then appreciating it's beauty, with all of it's imperfections.  It's not about perfecting beauty, but understanding and appreciating , and taking the scene or object or person "as is".


I wanted to share with you a number of images that I've had the privilege of taking in the Wabi Sabi tradition.


This first image was taken earlier this spring while traveling on the Pacific Coast in Oregon.  I loved the whimsical display of Owls and birds on a tanks that travels along the diagonal.  What I appreciate about this image is the three pieces of bird artwork and how they are displayed on the tree.  It catches your attention and makes you smile.



We had a very heavy snowfall in mid-April, unusual for us.  Our street wasn't plugged for a couple of days.  I finally got some cabin fever and just had to go out and take a walk.  The snow was deep.  The roads weren't plowed.  The sidewalks were brimming with lots of snow.  At this time of year, this little statue would be sitting with early spring flowers.  What struck me when I spent time observing this before taking the photo was imagining that the little creature is spitting out snow.  Either out of disgust.  Or in revelry of snow.


PAD April 16 Even Gnomes are Bothered by the SnowPAD April 16 Even Gnomes are Bothered by the Snow


There is a wonderful tulip farm in Oregon.  And I had the privilege of visiting it this spring.  A definite Wabi Sabi moment.  I spent hours there looking over the various patterns, textures, colors, and light.  There was a storm brewing.  I was worried that I would get my camera wet, but I had enough plastic bags for protection that I felt safe and could enjoy the changing scene and sky in front of me.



And here is another , with the sky being ominous while the tulips are still very, very colorful.



More to come on Wabi Sabi.  I spent time observing and understanding before I took each photo.  The pause before shooting is incredibly important, allowing me to really appreciating the scene or object or person that stands in front of me.

Another Camera Movement Day

July 24, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

I so enjoyed playing around with multiple exposures and camera movement the other day that I decided to approach "movement" in a different way.  Actually the way that I approached it is the more traditional "slow shutter speed and move the camera" way.


My vision was to go after color.  It's July and the gardens are full of various colors.  So, I went so far as the pansies that are by our front door.  I set the shutter speed as low as possible and also the ISO.  And then I tried a couple of shots.  One of the nicest ones of the series is a shot that I took early on, when I was still in the experimental phase.  It's a slow pan of our planter.  What I like about the results is that it's such a nice blend of color.  I can imagine the planter with the brown dirt and the three different colors of pansies, but that gets overwhelmed the the wonderful display of vibrant colors.

Pad July 23 ICM of PansiesPad July 23 ICM of Pansies


Later on in this photo shoot, I decided to pan using a sine wave motion and I love the energy that is the final image.  A little criss-crossing and a lot of fun is suggested.  I imagine that the whole scene is dancing, reveling in the color.


Pad July 23 ICM of PansiesPad July 23 ICM of Pansies


The Flower Box attached to the garage is a different approach.  The Pansies are stacked up there and overflow the flower box.  I tried a slight sine wave pan and achieved this affect.


Pad July 23 ICM of PansiesPad July 23 ICM of Pansies


And my final photo of the series is the two distinct clusters of color, white and red.


Pad July 23 ICM of PansiesPad July 23 ICM of Pansies


It was a fun and exhilarating series to shoot and process.  I am enjoying the abstract results.  Love the color.  All in my front yard.

Camera Movement

July 23, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

There are some summer days that I just love the color that is around me.  The gardens are in full bloom.  The fields have the golden glow of wheat.  Today I decided to concentrate on taking photos that concentrated on the color in an abstract way using "Intentional Camera Movement" and the multiple exposure feature on my camera.

A few years ago I was at a camera workshop and some folks had equipment that allowed them to take multiple exposures and then process them "in camera".  I loved this feature and was waiting patiently for Canon to provide this same feature.  As soon as they announced that they were going to debut a new Canon 5D model with multiple exposure and HDR, I immediately ordered the camera and waited for it to be released in the US.

I was not disappointed.  Both features are things that I really appreciate about my camera.  And I use these features to enhance my creative expression.

Today was all about color and making fun, abstract images.  I tried conventional multiple exposure, with 9 exposures.  

Here are some of the results.

I spied a couple of pink blossoms with a whole lot of greenery.  I knew that the pink would do a nice bit of blending with the green and provide a colorful splash of green tones with some pink.  Swirling my camera around created the affect, with 9 exposures.

PAD July 16 ICM Because it's FUNPAD July 16 ICM Because it's FUN


This next shot was more experimental.  I saw lots of color and wondered what it would be like all blended together.  Movement wasn't a circle but more downward in nature.


PAD July 16 ICM Because it's FUNPAD July 16 ICM Because it's FUN

I returned to a swirling approach with 9 exposures with one lily in the frame and some greenery and some brown earth.  This time I slightly moved the camera in a clockwise position.


PAD July 16 ICM Because it's FUNPAD July 16 ICM Because it's FUN

Slightly different part of the garden more of a traditional clockwise rotation with a center focus and 9 exposures.  I can feel the thrill of the movement.

PAD July 16 ICM Because it's FUNPAD July 16 ICM Because it's FUN

Then I changed my approach completely and took multiples by changing the zoom of my lens.  A little more like a horror-movie than a celebration of color.


PAD July 16 ICM Because it's FUNPAD July 16 ICM Because it's FUN

Tried changing the zoom lens again, this time just focused on flowers and 3 multiple exposures.  A more subtle approach, but not the type of celebration of color that I was hoping for.  

PAD July 16 Flowers ShakingPAD July 16 Flowers Shaking

I liked the following affect a whole lot more.  White color with a little green background.  3-Shot multiple exposure with just a slight twist on the zoom lens.  In the future, I might play with a 2-Shot multiple exposure with just a little twist of the zoom to give it a slight ghost affect.  And I might change the whiteness to a purer white by overexposing a bit.


Pad July 16 MultiplesPad July 16 Multiples

I have to admit that it was great fun to play with color and creative expression.  Some really work well for me; others were a nice experiment.  But often, it's the experiments that I really like.  So, I will continue to play around and use the features of my camera and my ability to move and shake in order to create!.


Delightful Clouds

July 19, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

I was driving back from an appointment and the clouds were just gorgeous.  I changed my route slightly so I could see if the clouds were reflecting at all in the water.  There was a breeze and the water was a bit choppy, so I could my route again to see if I could find a quiet bay on Lake Winnebago.

I wasn't the only car parked there.  Others were enjoying the lower temperature day after having a string of two weeks with temperatures uncharacteristically warm.  It was around lunch time and there are a few benches here overlooking the water.

I got out my camera and surveyed the area.  To my eye, it looked like the reflections weren't all that apparent.  I thought I might as well try to capture some aspect of reflection.  The clouds were so cool.

When I got home, I was very pleased with my photos.

The dark cloud made an interesting contrast to the rest of the puffy clouds.  I liked the way the reflection of the clouds created a faint white line in the lake.  I also liked the tiny clouds, like three dots (....) form a connection between the big, dark cloud and the rest of the smaller ones.

PAD July 17 Reflection on Lake WinnebagoPAD July 17 Reflection on Lake Winnebago

Since I wasn't completely sure if I was getting the reflections that I wanted, I took a few more shots.

I shot both vertically and horizontally.  I waited for the breeze to subside a bit and was so pleased to see a slightly rippled reflection in the lake.


PAD July 17 Reflection on Lake WinnebagoPAD July 17 Reflection on Lake Winnebago

Changing my camera to vertical orientation and then I let the breeze create a slightly different version of the reflection.  I really liked the ripples of the reflection in this particular version.  The water and the breeze are playing with this reflection and each breeze, each ripple creates a different effect.


PAD July 17 Reflection on Lake WinnebagoPAD July 17 Reflection on Lake Winnebago

I probably stopped for only 10 minutes.  5 minutes to photograph; 5 minutes to pause and appreciate the clouds, the water, and the reflections on a summer day.