Easter Chicks

This is the story of a bunch of chicks playing in flowers.  Does it really get any better than that?

On the Friday before Easter, one of my besties called me to let me know that he was headed my way with a box full of chicks.  By the time he arrived it was later afternoon and I was already loosing the light since I wanted to use my 100mm macro lens at close range but I was determined to make the most of the opportunity.  The next afternoon his girlfriend and I were out on her porch putting chicks into a large planter filled with pansies.

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We grabbed the smallest two and placed them gently in among the flowers.    There are actually two chicks in this photo – the one in focus on the right side and another standing on the edge of the planter behind her head past the yellow pansy.

I was immediately fascinated by the fun that can be had with perspective when tiny flowers are bigger than your subjects.

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I’m scared myself a little bit here.  I call the one above “Clever Girl” after a certain scene in Jurassic Park that I’d rather not talk about.   There is something very dinosaur like about chickens though – it is showcased nicely in this photograph.

There were lots more photos to take, but I had to take one more of the littlest babies – I just had to give this chick a purple pansy hat.   The wind with blowing the flowers back and forth quite a bit so I had a friend help to keep the flower in position.

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I call this one my “Fashionista”.    She seems to wear the flower so effortlessly.

Culture and Cocktails: Festival of Flowers at the Springfield Museums

Recently a friend invited me to attend a “Culture and Cocktails” event at the Springfield Museums in Springfield, MA.  The theme of the event was “Festival of Flowers” – varying local florists created arrangements to represent works within the museums.  Totally up my alley!  I brought my camera along but tried not to focus on it too much as I wanted to live in the moment with my two friends and sometimes I can get a bit lost in macro-land.

I wish that I’d gotten more shots of the arrangements with their inspiration, but I was shooting with my 100mm macro lens in a confined space with people on all sides – I had to discard many shots because somebody who walk into the frame last moment.

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Still, it was a worth while endeavor to walk around a museum (trying to keep out of site of their scary T-Rex statue TBH because I’m still a kid at heart and that shit is scary) and smell flowers at every turn.  The arrangements were at times abstract and at others very concrete, it was great to see how different artists interpreted the assignment.  The above was in the Natural History museum – I was in love with the tiny bees.

Because really?  What do I like more than photographing bees in flowers?

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Until there were bees out in the wild, this guy was going to have to do!

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The other fun part of the visit was the varying performances going on – these girls were dancing to music from the Nutcracker (a bit off season but whatevs I guess) in a room full of Greek statues.

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Here I was going back photographing one of my favorite flowers – the tulip.  Again, until I start to see them outside, this will have to do.

And lastly we found this AMAZING sculpture made up of all sorts of succulents and air plants.  I was so fascinated with photographing it that I was almost unaware of my two friends photographing me…almost.  I managed to catch each out of focus in the background as they tried to sneakily catch me with their cameras.  It is a special memento of the night.

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St. Brigid’s Cemetery in the snow

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I know this is a bit late – it was a slow Winter.   I’m not a fan of the brown nothingness that is New England when there isn’t snow on the ground.  There were a few highlights – on this particular afternoon I went for a walk one warm misty morning.

You might recognize two of my favorite girls.

I’ve been visited the cemetery weekly all Spring – I love watching all of the little changes that happen throughout the year.  The things we leave behind change over time – do most people notice these kinds of things?

Self Portrait: Brick Bar Style

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

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

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)

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

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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