Self Portrait: Brick Bar Style

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It should be no surprise to learn that I love self portraits – I think that most photographs do.   Find me a good reflection and you can leave me alone for hours if not days and I’m always looking for more ways to capture myself.

Que this amazing Christmas gift by close friends: a Lego mini designed to look like me!

Because I’m more than a little bit post modern, I immediately had to photograph it at as shallow a depth of field possible so that you still couldn’t really see “me” in the photograph, a favorite technique of mine in self portraiture.

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I did a bit of editing to make the out of focus top of the camera say something more like “Canon” because…a girl has to represent, but otherwise, the idea is all their’s…

And I absolutely adore it.

Paris! : Père Lachaise Cemetery

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The traveling companion and I had decided to split up once during out trip to Paris: on our second day in the city (a Thursday), she was going to head over to Les Invalides and I was going to photograph in Père Lachaise Cemetery.  I’m at my soul a cemetery photographer, so Père Lachaise is a holy grail of sorts for me.  It did not disappoint.

It was early, before eight, and I was all jazzed from the cafe that I’d been drinking on an empty stomach.  It was the first day of Autumn it seemed like a few of the trees in the city had gotten the memo:

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As you walk into Père Lachaise Cemetery, the hills of the dead just fill your vision.  There are all sort of places where they rise up around you with stair cases leading upwards.

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I was looking for the inhabitants, the angels and other statuary who had taken up permanent residence.  I had to keep climbing.

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This guy was my first sign of real life as the cemetery awoke with the Sun that slowly crept above the line of the city and walls and down among the crypts.  I titled the piece “Always Look Up!” – I found him to be very inspirational.

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I am always a sucker for a good pair of wings.

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I am captivated by the objects that people leave behind for their loved ones.   I’m including intoxicating fall leaves in that category.

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Still…this was not what I had come to Paris for.   The search for weeping angels kept me climbing.

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To say that I was in a mood is an understatement; perhaps you have only to look at this photograph to understand that.  Many of the shots that I took included his hands, but the one where whatever he was looking at are tantalizingly out of reach?

I still didn’t have the shot I wanted though, an angel (most likely) – maybe a Madonna or Magdalene who was able to be photographed with the cemetery visible in the background – this place was amazing and I wanted to show it off.  My search continued…

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I titled this piece “Life Goals: Grow Old as Stone Together”.  I thought about giving them so room to breath but the shot of them had to be intimate.

Then, there she was.  I’m getting quite familiar with the Catholic Cemeteries in New England and we don’t seem to have anything quite like her…

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You can barely make out the rough of one of the mausoleums at her feet as well.   She is as of yet unnamed and I am very open to suggestions.

Paris!: Tour Eiffel

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The most surprising thing for me about my whirlwind trip to Paris in September was my immediate love of the Eiffel Tower.  I wasn’t a fan of it lit up and sparkling at night, but almost every other view was absolutely amazing.  Plus, it gives you a sense of the scale of the city in a way that nothing else does.

My traveling companion kept insisting on trying to get shots on her phone from the lawn, which to me – since it was early Fall and the flowering trees weren’t in bloom – seemed pretty boring.  But from across the river you can get the expanse of the city spread out below…it was truly captivating.

I love travel photography so I’ve seen a LOT of shots of Tour Eiffel – perhaps more of it than any other single landmark in the world.   That’s a bit intimidating, to say the least.

But it was so awe inspiring to see it and Paris stretched out in every direction beyond, I forgot to be intimidated.

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Notice Les Invalides in the background?  I think that I was photographing that as much as the tower itself.

I took a photo of the other angle, too.  This one is from the garden of Musée Rodin:

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Les Invalides with Tour Eiffel in the distance.  You can just barely see Rodin’s famous Le Penseur statue down among the trees.

Paris! (Day 1)

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The beginning of September always makes me antsy.  The winds of the change in seasons ripple over New England yet the trees haven’t turning yet and I just want to do…something. Something different preferably.  So when a friend posted on Facebook “Who wants to go to Paris with me next week?”  I jokingly responded “Yes?!?”

And then guess what happened?  I was on a plane from Logan Airport to Oslo, Norway and from there on to Paris.  Let’s just say that another friend had to bow out on the trip super last minute and I got an amazing deal that was too good to turn down.

Paris is every bit as amazing as you expect it to be.  We descended into the city flying through cotton candy pink clouds!

This was going to be a very short trip – we would be in the city for three days total – but I wanted to photograph every single thing that I could.  People ALWAYS ask me if I have photographs of Paris and I’ve always had to respond – no sorry, I’ve never been to Europe. Of course my last minute travel companion hadn’t planned to spend her three days in Paris finding things for me to photograph – some concession had to be made.

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“Signs: A Nuit A Paris”

The first photograph that I took of the city was using my phone – I like to Instagram my travels as a way for my friends and family to BE THERE with me in the moment.  This was right by the metro stop closest to the apartment that we were staying in.

Off we headed to stand in line to get into the Catacombs – this was one of my “musts” when seeing Paris and I was very sad that the lighting plus no tripod rule made it almost impossible to photograph down in the bowels of the city.  I yelled at a few American tourists who were ignoring the No Flash rule, too…because that’s who I am.  They do have one wall that obviously lit for those of us who want to photograph the bones.

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Skulls from the Catacombs

After pursuing the seedy gift shop with skull paraphernalia, we stopped for lunch at a bistro nearby.  We sat outside, drank red wine and discussed our plans for the next couple of days.  Even off season in September it was already obvious that we were going to have to wait in a lot of lines to do anything in the city, which was frustrating.  My friend really wanted to go to the top of Tour Eiffel and drink a glass of champagne on every floor – I would rather have bought a bottle of champagne and drank it while wandering around photographing in Pere Lachaise Cemetery.

But I’m a good sport and Tour Eiffel IS Paris – I decided to tag along and intentionally routed us to a Metro stop across the Seine for the “better view” of the tower.   I was antsy still, this was touristy to the max and I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to get a photo of the tower without the swarm of people at its base.

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M capturing a photo of tour Eiffel with her phone

This is my attempt to photograph my travelling companion photographing the tower because she had just done the same for me:

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Photo that M took of yours truly photographing Tour Eiffel

My final photo of the tower will be its own post, so I won’t talk about it a lot here except to say that it worked out better than I was expecting at this point.

We were there before the top of to the tower opened (that’s a thing, folks – something that I don’t remember seeing in my Guide Book) so we bought tickets to the 2nd Floor and stood in line…forever.  By the end of that line, I was definitely not thinking that it was worth it.  But then I finally was on the tower and Paris…Paris is just beautiful.

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View from the second floor of Tour Eiffel

Finally, the top floor opened and we waiting in line…again…first to buy tickets and then to get onto the elevator up.  But by then (two or more hours later) the Sun was starting to set. Golden hour from atop Tour Eiffel?  Every bit as great as you might suspect it to be.

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golden hour from the top of Tour Eiffel
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Paris at sunset

Yeah, beautiful ending to a first day in a beautiful city.

St. Mary’s Cemetery – Northampton, MA

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Despite having lived in Northampton for six years and driven past St. Mary’s Cemetery on numerous occasions, I had never thought to wander through looking for statuary.  This hunt for angels and other iconography is a recent thing for me – I had photographed my one Madonna “Black Mary” in New Orleans in 2011 but otherwise hadn’t yet realized my passion for these religious statues.

That’s what friends are for though, right?  One of my oldest friends suggested that I should be photographing in St. Mary’s sometime last month and so I encouraged him to show me the cemetery – apparently he and some friends had photographed there pretty extensively sometime in the late 90’s.

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This lady caught both of our eyes – she had her back to the path so we could see the white crown of her head glowing in the sunlight and the white tips of her wings.  As I walked around her starting to take some first exploratory shots, Abel realized what she was missing – real flowers to go with her bouquet.   A beautiful selection of nearby pansies was the perfect thing.

I couldn’t resist taking some macro shots of the flowers – because…it’s like all of my varying subjects combined into one.  If only there was a honeybee to complete it all!

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Magnolia Cemetery – Charleston, SC

The first thing that I research when I’m going on vacation is the closest Catholic Cemetery.  I just LOVE finding new statuary to photograph and the Catholics know how to do religious statues better than anybody else.   So when I found out that my parents were going to fly us to Charleston for a week last cemetery, I knew that I would be visited Magnolia Cemetery.   I googled it online and was blown away by the beautiful angels and Madonnas – it was definitely the place for me.

My goal is always to take that shot the defines what makes that particular cemetery different from anywhere else.   For me, the things that I find the most fascinating about the South are the combination of the Live Oak trees and the Spanish Moss.   Magnolia Cemetery had a little of both – though unfortunately never together with the beautiful statues that I wished to photograph.

Still, I think that I captured the experience of visiting Magnolia Cemetery well with this image – it is amazing how differently statues age down South than they do here in New England.   There are all kinds of new growth to add texture and beauty.  This lovely lady especially caught my attention – you can really feel the weight of the cross that she bears.

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Purple and Bumble, revisited – Easthampton, MA

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A year ago I took this image at the Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Easthampton, MA.  I called it “Purple and Bumble” or “PB” for short.   I love the violet and mint green combination – it makes me feel so good.

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©2015 Megan Campbell

I revisited to the site yesterday on my walk through town – it’s been so hot and muggy out that I haven’t wanted to visit my favorite bee locations.  It’s a pity really, I feel so out of touch with my sisters.

There were some bumbles on these flowers as well this year, but the plant was covered primarily in honeybees.  Even better.

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© 2016 Megan Campbell – Easthampton, MA

Have I talked lately about how much I love my Cannon 100mm Macro lens lately?   You get less of the mint green here because I am so close to the bee, but the hairs on the buds!  I chose to shoot at the most open aperture that my lens would allow (2.8) both because the 15 mph winds necessitated a fast shutter speed and also because I love creamy colored backgrounds.

And I also love that it can be “PB”…I’m just a little nostalgic like that.

Turkeys in Mt. Auburn Cemetery – Watertown, MA

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I’ve been meaning to check out Mt. Auburn Cemetery for a while now so when my husband and I realized that we would be staying at a friends house nearby on Saturday night, we knew that we just had to plan a trip to walk around the cemetery on Sunday morning.  We suggested it to our friends as a nice morning stroll and they all agreed – apparently they are into Pokemon Go and thought that there might be some fun Pokestops there (lol).

The cemetery was every bit as gorgeous as their website had lead me to believe – designed from the beginning to be a Garden Cemetery, it is full or rolling hills and beautiful foliage as well as the most beautiful headstones I’ve seen.  Camera in hand, I set off in search of some cool Angels or maybe a Madonna or two and found….turkeys?

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When I found this guy (really folks, I have no idea how to sex turkeys), he was wandering around among some headstones.  I grew up in the woods of Western Mass so wild turkeys are nothing new to me but I didn’t expect to find them in the middle of an urban cemetery right outside of Boston!

I realized that he was calling out to another bird and saw his/her mate in a bush nearby.

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They were talking back and forth, seeming not at all that concerned that I was photographing the two of them.  But why didn’t they want to move on?  Most bird don’t hang out around people for that long without a reason.  I soon figured out why.

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Their little one was hiding underneath a nearby tree!

There was a red tailed hawk hunting in the cemetery that we’d been watching earlier, we think that Mom and Dad turkey had stashed their baby under the tree to keep it out of sight of the predator.  In fact, I watched the bigger of the two adults charge at something out of my sight which I can only assume was the hawk returning.

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The hawk certainly wasn’t having anything to do with me and the turkeys seemed to realize it.  They even moved the baby closer to us after the hawk appeared for the second time.

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The baby hiding underneath its parent’s tail.

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Finally I had to say goodbye to the little guy (who was, perhaps unsurprisingly, WAY cuter than either of his parents) and move on with my exploration of the cemetery grounds.  But I won’t soon forget him!