Creature comforts.

This morning, the breeze was warm against my face as we walked to school. The birds flapped and fussed, the air carried a sweet, light scent (smelled like joy to me) and I DIDN’T EVEN NEED A JACKET.

In honour of this amazing spring day, I’ll share with you a few of the critters I “captured” during a recent hike. I’m guessing they’re just as excited as I am that spring has arrived.

May 17 (2 of 5)

This fuzzy guy is praying no one eats all the bird seed.

 

May 17 (3 of 5)

This guy couldn’t care less what the squirrel wants.

 

May 17 (5 of 5)

These aren’t technically ‘creatures’ but the masses of cattails were so pretty, I had to include them.

 

May 17 (4 of 5)

Wildlife photos are not my strength. One thing I’ve learned is that you’re supposed to get the bird’s eye in focus. I studied my photo of the chickadee. Did I get the eye in focus? I don’t know. Where’s the eye?! Also, I was so excited about getting an up-close shot of the bird that I inadvertently cut off its tail. Oh, well. You win some, you lose some.

 

May 17 (1 of 5)

“Did YOU eat all the bird seed?”

I hope it’s beautiful wherever you are. Thanks, as always, for stopping by.

It’s not you, it’s me.

May 16 (1 of 1).jpg

The Mr. and I have a long-running joke about my obliviousness. Apparently, at least in certain situations, I’m known for my lack of observational skill.

He teases that I’d fail to notice even obvious occurrences taking place around me, such as, for example, an exploding building or an approaching mob of evil clowns.

I agree that I may be slightly challenged in this regard. Sometimes I accidentally ignore people I know when I unexpectedly encounter them in public places. More than once I’ve had to apologize after the fact to friends and neighbours who have waved to me from afar, only to have me return their greeting with nothing but a vacant, unintentionally grouchy expression.

In my defence: I (usually) have no ill will against these people I’m supposed to recognize. I’m simply lost in my own little world. Evidently, when I’m busy doing something, such as walking or thinking – especially walking and thinking – my brain is only capable of a limited amount of sensory input. Friends and acquaintances, I assure you: my failure to notice you is nothing personal. I apologize for being rude.

(Strangely, though, I’m very observant when it comes to, say, the whereabouts of my library books, which household bills are due when, and whether the bird-feeder needs refilling. Make of that what you will.)

Through my dabbling in photography, I’m learning that the skill of observation can be improved. (Thankfully, because those evil clowns are super creepy and I’d like to notice them in enough time to get far, far away.)

Do you ever notice something for the first time and then begin see it everywhere?

Lines, for example. I’ve never, ever noticed lines as much as I do now, because I want to record them with the camera. Lines in the roads, lines in the trees, lines in the clouds. The grid of windows on a building, the curl of my daughter’s hair, the sweeping curves of hosta leaves emerging from the earth. (A-ha! The accompanying photo to this post! You knew I’d get there. Eventually.)

Being observant is being present. And I’m sure I’m not alone in the challenge of being present – really and truly aware – more often. If photography is helping me slow down and sharpen some of my senses – at least the art of seeing, of noticing – perhaps there’s hope for me.

If I smile and wave back next time you see me at the mall, you’ll know it’s working.

 

P.S.
(I’m pleased to contribute this ribbed hosta to Tuesdays of Texture, a weekly feature over at De Monte y Mar.)

At the speed of light.

May 13 (1 of 1)

The speed of light? Well, hardly. My subject is a child, riding a bike. Uphill.

I wanted to see if I could capture the feeling of motion in a photograph, so I tried out a panning technique.

Panning gives the impression of movement in a photo by blurring the background while keeping the subject relatively sharp. For this shot, I slowed my shutter speed down to 1/6 second and focused on my biking muse, following her movement horizontally with the camera while I pushed the shutter release.

When I try this again, I’ll probably try a faster shutter speed to help sharpen her form, and I’ll try to place her a little more to the left of the frame (so it doesn’t look like she’s about to race right into the hard edge of the photo).

In any case, I’m happy with my first attempt at panning, and she’s happy that she looks a bit like the Flash.

Win-win.

 

Oldies but goodies.

I fell in love last weekend.

Lucky for me, I had two objects of affection. The first was the Mr., who was by my side as we wandered through some of the Doors Open Hamilton sites (Doors Open is a program during which one can enjoy free access to cultural and historic places in communities around the province). I’d already fallen in love with him, and that happened nearly two decades ago, so that’s old (but still good) news.

The new news is that I also fell in love with a building, and everything in it.

One of the stops on our Doors Open route was The Cotton Factory, a sprawling industrial complex built in 1900. Admittedly, it’s not in the poshest area of town. And things look a bit sketchy from the outside. But this entire historic textile mill has been transformed into a hub of talent, occupied by over 60 tenants including artists, designers, and creative professionals of all kinds. Events like weddings, fairs and film shoots take place here regularly. The buildings have been restored and re-purposed with great respect for the integrity of the original structures. Maybe the factory wasn’t considered beautiful at the turn of the 20th century, but it is now, in its own rustic way. And with a new life as a creative community space, there’s no denying the vibrant energy within.

I thought it timely – it is Thursday, after all, so a contribution to Norm’s weekly Thursday Doors feature is appropriate – to share with you only a few of the fine doors I encountered at this place. The shots are kind of dingy and don’t capture the real charm of the place, but I suppose that’s a good reason to return some day, with more time and better technique.

May 11 (1 of 10)

May 11 (2 of 10)

Welcome.

 

May 11 (3 of 10)

The red door is an elevator. FYI: the other one is a fire escape.

 

May 11 (4 of 10)

Sit and stay awhile.

 

May 11 (5 of 10)

One of these people does not have realistic body proportions.

 

May 11 (6 of 10)

Lest we forget.

 

May 11 (7 of 10)

Diverse types of studios, workshops, galleries and offices occupy the space.

 

May 11 (8 of 10)

Sliding doors.

 

May 11 (9 of 10)

A reminder to be gentle.

 

May 11 (10 of 10)

There’s cool stuff outdoors, too.

I had earlier stated that the Mr. was by my side during our visit, but technically he spent most of his time a few steps ahead of me because I was gawking at everything, resulting in a pace only slightly faster than a snail. (Poor guy. He’s a good sport. In fact, it was his idea to come here. And though The Cotton Factory is probably indifferent to my affections, at least the Mr. loves me back.)

I’ll save a few other interior photos for another post. Share the love, I say.

Thanks, as always, for stopping by.