Monday, April 27, 2015

In Harmony

This meandering stream, interrupted by smooth stones, empties into the nearby Rappahannock river. And it is places like this I picture when I need a quiet place for my mind to rest.

Sometimes I think I make life too complicated by trying to be someone I am not or do something I was not meant to do. This quote, by Maya Angelou, is one of my all-time favorites because it reminds me I have my own path, and it is a privilege to walk along it.

And on this one particular spring day, I immersed myself in my working environment – gardens and walking trails.

I try to take pictures in a way that stitches together a narrative such that I gain a greater understanding of where I am and what I am seeing.




I am never quite sure of the exact definition of still life photography. There are the careful arrangements of props against backdrops designed to evoke emotion, prompt memory, give context, and tell stories. And then there are the photographs that we see as still in the midst of movement or even chaos.

In the garden on this morning, just after a day of steady rainfall, the river crested with rushing rapids nearby – not still. Blue heron dipped and swayed, fishing the river – not still. The morning was gray with hints of the sunshine to come and the wind blew softly, swaying plants in the breeze – not still.

Making a picture in a garden requires not only vision, but physical agility. Finding the best light, the background that enhances rather than distracts, and achieving sharp focus  are all just a step, a squat, a shift, or a spin away. The most successful floral stills depend on composition and lighting and respect for nature. On a nature trail, there is no picking, styling or propping. Natural beauty prevails.




From the book Storytellers, by Jerod Foster –

If you are keeping your eyes and ears open to the stories you want to tell and you're tuned in to your surroundings (whether they are your local neighborhood or all the islands of the Pacific Ocean), you're going to be able to identify and photograph interesting stories. It could happen overnight, or over the course of ten years and several thousand air miles. However, always being primed for exploring the unknown is a way to see your work in a particular area grow into something that presents as a well-thought-out visual narrative.


My love of photography first blossomed in a garden, and I find my harmony in the flowing river of nature.

Surely this collection of work will become the story of my life.


24 comments:

  1. excellent food for thought...or rather photos and words for thought! and that last pic of the broken fence is the best!

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    1. Amy, It's funny . . . I almost didn't take the picture of the fence. It's in an area with massive road construction in the background. But this lone gate, a symbol of a what was once there, called to me. The picture reminds me of loss and makes me just a little sad. But then I reframed my thoughts - perhaps a gate to a new chapter, new life, new hope?

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  2. I love reading your posts Donna, they always make me think :) I love your photos, the ones of the wisteria and those tulips .....LOVE !

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    1. Caz, Looks like we've both been out enjoying the spring weather and snapping pictures of the beauty in our own backyards. Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  3. I loved that book, I will go back and read it again this summer, after I finish a couple of books on writing. I am envious of all your flowers, ours are ever so slowly emerging.

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    1. Have a wonderful blogging break for May, Sarah. I'll look forward to lots of stories when you return. Will you share some of your work that your writing coach is helping you with? I love to read your progress.

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  4. I always love and appreciate your thoughts and your photos! Beautiful!

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    1. Hi Sarah, I feel the same about you! I love your new blog, Real Wholesome. I'm headed to the kitchen to make your Maple Cinnamon Roasted Almonds.

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  5. I read your post twice ... so much to think about ... you write so beautifully, Donna. And your images fit so well with all your words. Love them all ...

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    1. Thank you, Barb. I've been visiting your blog and admiring the beautiful wreaths you made. I've seen so many creative compositions on Instagram using wreaths in ways I never would have imagined. Now you've got me thinking!

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  6. Nothing compares to the way God places His props. I struggle with being what I'm meant to be too.

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    1. Okay, Roxi, you know I've quoted you before . . . and surely I will refer back to your words from today again and again . . . Nothing compares to the way God places His props. You are not only a talented photographer, you are an extraordinary wordsmith, too!

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  7. So beautifully described in words, and your images couldn't be more perfectly fitting. Finding natural stills for me is so exciting. My heart skips beats when I see a natural "still", and I'm always happy when I have my camera with me. Intentional, natural "still" walks are so uplifting to the soul. I love doing both, but find the outdoor walk and search has a long lasting effect on me, especially when I look back through my images. Maybe you do too? Thanks for sharing...I still have so many of these flowers to look forward to seeing this year.

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  8. Our first photo trip was in the gardens of Chatham Manor. You showed me how to photograph a bleeding heart and it's still one of my favorite pictures: the blossoms sharp, the background blurred. I took photos of forget-me-nots and cherry blossoms . . . and then I wandered into the garden shed. We found our own still lifes there and founded a friendship that has never been still, not for a second. My pick for this group--and it's hard because they are all so beautiful--the wisteria. Wisteria is usually photographed as a purple waterfall. You focused on the individual flower bunches, giving a scene individuality and life.

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  9. The full beauty of spring is much in evidence in your beautiful images! The tulip image is especially breathtaking!

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  10. Beautiful and thoughtful post always and that is what I love about you. You ooze thoughtfulness. I have had Carol Hart staying with me for the last 3 days, I am a lucky girl and we were also talking about this very thing about still life's. Still Life is not only in an arranged piece but also right there in nature and nature I think does it best in her arrangements.

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  11. Gorgeous images! You inspire me so, with your photographs and your journaled thoughts.

    That rusted, ornate gate...ohhhh. I want to swing it wide and to venture into the pasture on the other side of its creaky hinges.

    I've been pondering the meaning of Still Life, too. (I mentioned it first in the context of a blog about hummingbird eggs.) So much so, that I've included it as an album on my new website, on the "Photography" page. I'm quick to add that it's an AMATEUR collection, exhibited only because I believe (as you do) that our photographs are a boon for storytellers. Random as the categories might initially seem, I suspect it's pretty easy to fashion a narrative from my collection. :)

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  12. Looks like you had a lovely walk Donna...the images are wonderful and just being outside feels so right. I especially love the Silver Dollar plant and the wisteria...the colors are just so lush...and the gate at the end..saying goodby for today...nice.

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  13. You have a story to tell. You are a storyteller. Your story is unique, and special. Just like you. Your images tell a story and your words add the enhancing layers. I'm always inspired when I visit here, my friend.

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  14. Your post is just chock full of goodies! Eye candy for us to savor, each photo is lovelier than the last. And that marvelous Maya Angelou quote. Did she say anything that wasn't inspirational? I'm going to take the gist of your wonderful post with me to Biltmore this weekend when we go to see the spring blooms in the gardens, along with my camera, of course! I, too, think 'still life' should and does include garden photography. So there!

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  15. Don't you just love the wisdom from MA? And just perfect for you posting. You are so talented...in so many ways...thank you for being part of my life. I feel when I come here it's a breath of fresh air...love that. And that third image on your tulip magnolia on the far right of the triptych...what a wallpaper that could be! Serious love!

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  16. This post is heaven on earth! I'm on this walk with you, seeing the beauty through your eyes.

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  17. Such charming flower shots, Donna. I'm always tickled to see the same much-loved flowers blooming over there as we have over here in England - so very far apart, but united by the beauty of the bluebell and the magnolia. All the best, Bonny

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  18. Thank you for taking me on this enchanting walk. The wisteria and the tulips are so delightful! :)

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