Feelin’ groovy.

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On the side of the highway near Hamilton sits a little shop called Grasshopper Imports. They sell imported pottery and garden ornaments, clothing and trinkets that appeal to the bohemians in the crowd.

Most people in the area know the place, even if they haven’t visited, because the owners made one stand-out choice when they set up shop.

They painted rainbow spirals on the exterior walls.

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Naturally, this photogenic wall has been on my must-visit list, and early in the spring I finally stopped by for a few clicks. I had the kids with me at the time, so we made some fun portraits with the wall as a backdrop.

I also took the opportunity to try a couple of slow-shutter techniques. In the top image I moved the camera in a circle during the exposure time, and below, I zoomed instead. I liked the dreamy, painterly images that came out of it. I thought they could work as an interpretation of this week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge of Focus (in this case, just the opposite).

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Though my daughter would’ve loved to bring home a giant clay pot shaped like a frog or several pairs of dangly mineral stone earrings, we didn’t buy anything that day. But now I know where to find authentic Mexican Baja jackets and handblown glass swizzle sticks, should the need arise.

We’ll be back, Grasshopper. And thanks for the memories.

 

It’s not you, it’s me.

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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.)

Blurred vision.

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There are probably a million ways – either accidentally or intentionally – to make an image of smudged trees.

Truthfully, most of my smudged subjects have gotten that way due to some error on my part, like wobbly hands or poor focus or forgetting to change my camera settings.

But I tried to be purposeful for this one. I slowed down the shutter and pointed my camera out the side window of the car while travelling the highway just after sunset.

It isn’t a very crisp image, but I liked the colour and the paintbrush-like strokes of the blurred treeline.

(Safety first, by the way: the window was closed and I simply steadied the lens against the glass, trying not to freak out other travelers. Also, in case you were wondering, I was not driving the vehicle at the time. You can never be too careful.)

 

Things I learned by watching soap bubbles.

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  • their existence is delicate and fleeting, and must be carefully observed and appreciated.
  • they’re incredibly adaptable and efficient in their use of space.

 

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  • it only takes a little light to make them shine.
  • each one is a mirror to the world.

 

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  • when one departs, the others cluster to fill the gap left behind.
  • big or small, and no matter how densely packed, they always make room for one another.

Drab to fab.

I don’t have grand, elaborate entrances this week for my submission to Norm’s Thursday Doors. In fact, today’s doors are pretty inconspicuous. They’re hidden inside a work of art.

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For that, we can thank artist Stephanie Boutari. This mural transforms the rear of this bland and generic strip mall into a unique and colourful canvas. Street art can truly add personality and interest where they may be lacking. I like the vibrancy and sweeping curves of this piece.

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The details were carefully considered to ensure the look is unified in the big picture. The lines are sharp, clean and vivid – even up close. Only the metal ring in the bottom photo, jutting from the wall, shows a little wear and tear.

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In this week’s post, the walls are more impressive than the doors themselves, but given the state of these walls, I didn’t think you’d mind. Thanks, as always, for stopping by.

Fifty shades of green.

For this week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge, we were asked to think about green. Easy – my favourite colour! I made some photos of the emerging daylilies, allium and tulips in my garden, thinking they’d be ideal to show off green’s welcome return.

Then I forgot about it. I took the kids to school. I washed the dishes. I went to Home Depot to buy some potting soil.

On the way to the garden centre, I passed through the paint aisle, where I made an abrupt halt. There, on each side, were rows upon rows of paint chips. In every colour and every shade – of beige, of blue, of yellow.

Of green.

Back at home, I spent an absurd amount of time photographing patterns of paint chips in various shades of green. I wasn’t really happy with my shots, and figured I’d go back to my original idea of posting spring flora for the challenge. In one last attempt, I purposely threw everything out of focus and, surprisingly, ended up liking the soft, abstract result.

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And because my hands had been holding so many interesting shades of green (“Intoxication,” “Chard,” “Tuscan Herbs”), I pondered about this colour and its multiple personalities.

When green is ugly, it has a nauseating, radioactive glow. It’s the corrosion of the copper pipes in my basement and it’s the revolting squish of seaweed between my toes. It’s the fuzz of mold feeding on stale bread, and the soft rot of spoiled fruit. It’s the bitterness of Brussels sprouts and the wrath of the Incredible Hulk. It’s my exasperation with the immortal dandelions choking my garden and the embarrassment of spinach stuck in my teeth. It’s the blasted grass stains that refuse to budge from my kid’s jeans.

But let’s not forget: where there’s darkness, there’s also light.

Green is the shimmering, otherworldly gleam of the northern lights. It’s the crunch of a Granny Smith apple and the sinus-clearing freshness of peppermint. It’s the luck of a leprechaun’s four-leaf clover, and it’s squeaky Palmolive clean. It’s a crude but big-hearted animated Scottish ogre. It’s the traffic light granting permission to proceed, and the exit sign for those who can’t find the door. It’s the lush, humid heat of the tropics. It’s smooth, velvety moss and sharp, pungent pine. It’s the impossibly iridescent emerald feathers of a mallard duck, and it’s a seedling rising from the ashes of a forest fire.

It’s envy and greed, sickness and decay. It’s renewal and progress, opportunity and hope.

I think it may have a bit of an identity crisis.

No matter. Green: I will love you unconditionally.

P.S.
Dear readers – let me know if you want to paint a wall green. I’ve got a few extra paint chips hanging around.

My thighs are killing me.

All that squatting and crouching by the creek yesterday made for achy legs today, but I’d wanted to get up close to the water so I could play around with slow shutter speeds.

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The sunlight glinting on the water and the flow of the creek created swirling lines and shapes when I made a slightly longer exposure.

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I hadn’t brought my tripod, so the in-focus elements weren’t as in-focus as I would’ve liked, but I didn’t mind.

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Mild temperatures (yessss!) meant the flow of water was melting the ice, leaving interesting bits and pieces clinging to rocks and branches.

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Mental note in preparation for next time:

  1. Bring a tripod.
  2. Do more squats.

Thank you, once again, for looking 😊