Inspired by Spring Flowers

Spring is such a remarkable time of year. Although we may have lots of windy days with showers of rain, there is a promise of newness that gives us fresh optimism and joy. The flowers start by peeking out from under the earth and, before we know it, they are standing tall and waiting to be admired and photographed.   Poppy in Bamboo Grove Glades May 2014Jose Antunes, my photography mentor and friend, gives workshops on flower photography. I recently tried one of his techniques that involves using a zoom lens and am pleased with the results. I’ve always been a fan of shallow depth of field with flower images and really like the soft backgrounds I was able to get using my 70-300mm lens. The flowers look like you could reach into the frame and touch them.Flower5 white blossoms May 2014You don’t have to go very far to find flowers to photograph. They could be growing wild on the side of the road, in a nearby park, or in your own backyard. I like to choose a single flower to focus on. I take my time and explore various angles, look for the light touching the petals or leaves, and check to see what is behind the flower to create the most pleasing effect. In this image you can see that I was able to capture the purple salvia against a backdrop of yellow daisies.Glades purple salvia3 May 2014I like the juxtaposition of the purple flower and turquoise and green muted colours in the background of this exquisite yellow poppy. It had just stopped raining and soft light fell on the petals and raindrops.Glades orange poppy1 May 2014If you’d like some photography tips and to learn more about ways Jose creates beautiful flower images with everything from a point and shoot, to a smart phone, to a DSLR with a long lens, check out his newest eBook, The Best Secrets of Flower Photography. It’s only 7.50 Euros which works out to about $10.50. You’ll enjoy his images and be inspired to go out and create your own. http://joseantunes.com/my-ebooks

Jose is a professional photographer and writer who offers a variety of photography workshops in Portugal as well as online tutorials. http://www.joseantunes.com

To see more of my images, please visit my website http://marionmccristall.com

© Copyright Marion McCristall, all rights reserved

Portugal Through My Eyes

Today I’m happy to share the May edition of FOTOdigital with you. In an article called Portugal Through My Eyes, Jose Antunes included some of my images from my time in the Sintra area doing photography with him in 2012. You’ll find it on pages 15 to 36. It brings back fond memories of an amazing trip. http://issuu.com/joseantunes/docs/fdmayl14_issuuFOTOdigital May 2014 title page

I’m still sifting and sorting through the photographs I took the end of March when I led a group of photo enthusiasts there. There are so many that it is taking me quite a while to edit my favourites. I plan to have them ready to share soon.

I hope you enjoy the article, and others in FOTOdigital, and sign up to receive Jose Antunes’ inspiring monthly ezine. It’s free and enjoyed by thousands of readers all over the world. Jose writes photography tutorials for a variety of online sites as well as eBooks. He takes small groups on outings to learn more about photography and to capture images of the fauna, flora, seascapes, and landscapes of the remarkable area of Portugal he lives in. http://www.joseantunes.com

To see more of my images, please visit my website http://marionmccristall.com

© Copyright Marion McCristall, all rights reserved

Happy Easter!

Easter marks that time of year when everything in nature seems fresh and new again. The buds are bursting open and bright flowers are dancing in spring breezes bringing promises of change.

Today I want to wish you a Happy Easter by sharing this poster. I created it with a photo I took during my Photography Tour in Portugal in March. The image was taken in a lovely little park near the National Palace in Sintra. The flower, with all of the luscious overlapping petals, reminds me of the layers and layers of rich memories I have of my time there as well as how a moment contemplating one bloom can bring happiness.

Spring Bloom in PortugalWishing you and those you love a Happy Easter!

To see more of my images, please visit my website http://marionmccristall.com

© Copyright Marion McCristall, all rights reserved

Abstract Photography

Abstract photographs typically fall under the category of fine art photography. I often use this form of photography to express a visual language that does not depend on a realistic portrayal of specific subject matter. I allow colour, shape, texture, and line to capture my imagination, move me, and draw me in. It is at that point that I press the shutter.

I recently entered a photo competition where the theme was “Abstract”. I enjoyed the challenge as I have hundreds of images that I have created that are not easily defined and, hopefully, leave the viewer enjoying the simplicity or vibrancy without having to wrestle with making sense of it all. We know these are bubbles but I like the abstract qualities of shape, light, and uneven pattern they create. soapbubblessteveston_SnapseedSometimes I make my own photographic abstracts with light painting. I created this one in a completely dark room with coloured glow sticks. With the lights on, I chose the focal length and aperture and selected a long, eight second, shutter speed. Once I turned the lights off, I used a cable release to press the shutter and set to work swirling and twirling the sticks in front of the camera. Magic.Kinetic Locomotion l_SnapseedShadows create really interesting abstracts. These wires were crisscrossed in front of an old, weathered building in Vancouver. I added a slight glow effect in Photoshop to enhance the graphic elements in this picture.Crisscrossed_SnapseedWhen I think of Morocco, I am reminded of all of the amazing sights I saw. I really enjoyed the vibrant colours and textures and this image showcases the beautiful ones that caught my eye.Vibrant Colours of Morocco _SnapseedLines, patterns, and symmetry can be found almost anywhere. They could be man-made, as in this industrial looking picture, or in nature. Think of stripes on hosta leaves, dew drops on a spider web, reflections in a puddle, the skin of animals such as giraffes and zebras, or waves lapping at the seaside. The list is endless and they all lend themselves to abstract image making.Symmetry_SnapseedI hope you will feel inspired to go out and experiment with your camera and imagination and make wonderful abstract images. Relax, have fun, and enjoy the creative process.

To see more of my images, please visit my website http://marionmccristall.com

© Copyright Marion McCristall, all rights reserved

Inspired by Winter

Winter is a great time of year to grab your camera, dress warmly, and go in search of some images that inspire you.Canoes Fraser River WC Vig4x6_SnapseedThankfully we don’t get very much snow on the west coast but the fog has been very mystical. I took this picture of canoes bobbing on the water of the Fraser River near Fort Langley. The fog moved in and out as I tried to capture the soft morning glow on the boats. I added a slight watercolour and texture effect in Photoshop.

Crisp, chilly mornings are perfect for catching the frost on trees, leaves, and fence posts. Below is an image of an exquisite stand of aspen trees a short drive from where I live. I used digital editing software to give it a more painterly effect.Frosty Morning Aspens_Snapseed

Fog, people, and railway tracks created a perfect combination for this moody image. I was out early one morning and waited for action on the tracks before I made this photograph. I have added a glow, similar to the Orton Effect, to give the image an ethereal look.foggy day railway tracks Orton_SnapseedA playground teeter-totter was waiting for someone to come and play on this snowy day. Luckily I got there first and captured this shot of beautiful pristine snow piled on top of it. The illustration effect was added in Photoshop.snow teetertotter park TZ_SnapseedNow it’s your turn to create a little magic. Take some winter photographs, upload them, and use your artistic flair to try out some creative effects in your digital darkroom. Have fun!

To see more of my images, please visit my website http://marionmccristall.com

© Copyright Marion McCristall, all rights reserved

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

I am wishing you a holiday season of peace and joy.

Take time just for you and reflect on the year that’s coming to a close. Plan for a New Year filled with just the right amount of adventure and countless moments of contentment.Winter Berries Christmas eCardAll the best,

Marion

To see more of my images, please visit my website http://marionmccristall.com

© Copyright Marion McCristall, all rights reserved

Enchanting Portugal Photography Holiday

Jose Antunes and I have organized a fabulous photography tour in the UNESCO World Heritage site of Sintra, Portugal, and the surrounding coastal area. Our one week photo holiday will include scenic seascapes and forests, visits to palaces and gardens, and the ruins of the 16th C. Capuchos Monastery. We’ll also enjoy a day trip to vibrant, bustling, historic Lisbon. We’ll visit places of extraordinary beauty, (natural and man-made,) have fun. laugh and share days filled with adventure. Details at www.marionmccristall.com

Take a few moments to enjoy this beautiful eBook Jose created to inspire us. We will have the opportunity to photograph some of these awesome sights during the tour.Portugal Enchanted LandClick on the link below to read the eBook by Jose Antunes, Portuguese professional photographer, writer, instructor, and tour leader. http://issuu.com/marionmccristall/docs/portugal_phototour_promo2014_issuu_

Our week of photographic opportunities and study is limited to six participants so that everyone will benefit from Jose’s expertise and teaching. Photographers will come away with stories to tell of wonderful experiences, stunning images to share, and a desire to return to Sintra as this fairytale land captures everyone with her charms.

Photography Tour in Portugal, March 2014,  information, terms and conditions, and registration details are available at http://www.marionmccristall.com

To see more of my images, please visit my website http://marionmccristall.com

© Copyright Marion McCristall, all rights reserved

Photography Mystery Box Challenge

A few times a year I get together with some of my photography friends. We usually go somewhere that has great image making opportunities and then enjoy lunch afterwards.

This time I decided it would be fun to try something different. I sent out an email asking them to join me for a Photography Mystery Box Challenge. I created the idea based on a concept on Master Chef where the home cooks must make restaurant worthy meals from surprise ingredients found in their mystery box each week.

In the box: pears, stones, seashells, candle, antique tobacco tin, sheer white fabric, terracotta plant pot

In the box: pears, stones, seashells, candle, antique tobacco tin, sheer white fabric, terracotta plant pot, tall clear jar with spring-loaded lid

I asked everyone to bring a box with a maximum/minimum of 10 items that could be suitable for a photography close-up or still life. We met at park by a nearby river so that we could have water in the background. When everyone arrived, I put a number on each box and then we drew numbers to see which collection we would work with first. The guidelines I created included that we could set up our camera gear and tripod first, and then, when I said, “go” we had 15 minutes to get things out of the box and start creating tableaux. We could use one of the items or up to all of them and make images in that short time-frame.

In the box: leafy lettuce, basil, bottle of wine, large basket, balsamic vinegar, patterned serving bowl, tomatoes, garlic, shallots, box of spaghetti, wooden spoon

In the box: leafy lettuce, basil, bottle of wine, large basket, balsamic vinegar, patterned serving bowl, tomatoes, garlic, shallots, box of spaghetti, wooden spoon

After time was called, we had to put everything back in the box and move on to the next one. It required quick thinking, careful selection of objects and their placements, as we worked to make our images. The light kept changing from shade, to dappled sunlight with clouds overhead, to bright, so we had to reflect on which camera settings would give us the desired look. We were pleased at what we accomplished in just 15 minutes.

teapot, carnations, tea cup and saucer, cookies, antique kitchen implements, orange and white tea towels

In the box: teapot, carnations, tea-cup and saucer, cookies, assorted antique kitchen implements, orange and white tea towels

While enjoying our bagged lunches, we talked about how interesting and challenging the Photography Mystery Boxes were. We looked at a few of each others’ images on our camera LCD screens and were surprised at the amazing variety of images we created.

pears, white napkin, yellow napkin, bamboo cutting board, blue plate, antique knife, oval plate, orange checkered table cloth, straw basket

In the box:pears, white napkin, yellow napkin, bamboo cutting board, blue plate, antique knife, oval plate, orange checkered table-cloth, straw basket

I’ve written a list of some the items that were in the box below each image so that you have an idea of what I selected to make my photographs. Each of my images have been edited with software and I have added a slight glow and watercolour effect. You can see some of the colours of the river in the background.

antique kitchen implements, egg beater, sieve, garlic press, cherry pitter, teapot with flowers, cup and saucer, rectangular plate of cookies

In the box: vintage kitchen tools including egg beater, sieve, garlic press, cherry pitter, teapot with flowers, cup and saucer, rectangular plate of cookies

This would be a great idea for you and your friends to try and any kind of camera will do. Being with friends who love photography, laughter, and fun were the best parts our Mystery Box Challenge and we all agreed to try it again.

To see more of my images, please visit my website http://marionmccristall.com

© Copyright Marion McCristall, all rights reserved

Music for the Soul

Music for the soul comes in many forms. It could be through things we hear, see, touch, taste, or smell. Sometimes we are given special opportunities to lose ourselves in moments that make our heart sing.

Last night, my heart was singing as Ottmar Liebert, a world-renowned classical guitarist, gave an exciting concert in the Vancouver area. His virtuoso performance, both on an acoustic Flamenco guitar and electric guitar, was spell binding. It transported me to a place where I could feel his music in my soul.

As waves crash in no particular pattern to the shore, Ottmar would surprise us with unexpected tempo changes, pulsating rhythms, and clapping on his guitar.  His expert percussionist, Chris Steele, and seasoned bass player, Jon Gagan, rounded out the trio with reverberations and beats that left us wanting more and more.  It was hard to stop myself from dancing in the aisles.

waves rocks PORwebBD

Rhythm of the Waves, Atlantic Coast of Portugal

The experience of being in the audience and listening to Ottmar’s music reminded me of how I feel when I am by the sea. For me, there is something magical and remarkable watching and listening as waves swell, curl, and crash on the shore leaving calmer waters at the edge that are swept back into the sea to be returned again and again. Ottmar’s brilliant instrumentation pulled us in with rapid upbeat tempos interspersed with languid cadences. Some of his pieces felt like his guitar was speaking to a lover, “On the Road to Shiraz”, while others jumped and skipped with unadulterated playfulness, “Bridge, Part 2”.

Twenty years ago, Ottmar Liebert wrote, “Instrumental music works on our intuitive mind…the listener has to invest something, has to let the music resonate within him, has to flesh out the mood the music portrays.”

Whether the mood of Ottmar’s music was sultry, passionate, or filled with pulsating energy, I was under its spell.

You can listen to some of Ottmar Liebert’s music at www.listeninglounge.org

Watch Ottmar play one of his most popular pieces, Santa Fe, at the Bing Lounge on Youtube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7A_ZKM4boxI&feature=player_embedded#t=175

To see more of my images, please visit my website http://marionmccristall.com

© Copyright Marion McCristall, all rights reserved