Happy New Year

It’s hard to believe that 2014 is drawing to a close and that we are looking ahead to the new year. I hope you will be blessed with good health, prosperity, creativity, fulfillment and all you wish for.

When I was in Kyoto, Japan, I was lucky to see people of all ages happily strolling in gardens and admiring the profusion of cherry blossoms. Since before the 8th Century there have been many meanings attached to them. For me, they represent freshness, rebirth, growth, and, sadly when they fall, the end of the wonderful moments in time when we are touched by their exquisite beauty and grace. It’s a reminder to be optimistic, make plans for happiness, seek what is good in each day, and to let things go when the time has come.2015 New Year eCardI made this e-card with a photo I took of a cherry blossom last spring. There is a small rural road, not far from my place near Ft. Langley, BC, lined with cherry and plum trees. I try to go there every year to make images before the blossoms fall.

Wishing you all the best and Happy New Year!

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

© Copyright Marion McCristall, all rights reserved

 

Looking Beyond the Obvious

Sometimes we go places with our camera in hand and expect to capture images of the usual or those similar to what we have seen before. We may look for iconic scenes or subjects but forget to take the time to see what else may catch our eye.Sintra National Palace POR 2014 BWI’m back from spending a month in the charming village of Sintra, Portugal. I was fortunate to attend the annual Kelby Worldwide Photo Walk on the grounds of the National Palace with 20 friendly Portuguese photography enthusiasts. Our leader, Jose Antunes, (http://joseantunes.com) gave us some guidelines that included only capturing images from within the grounds of the palace but not inside the palace or gardens where entrance fees were required. Kelby Walk pigeon feeder POR 2014 BW It was fun to walk along the lane at the back of the palace and see the ruins and overgrowth. I also enjoyed people watching and capturing some scenes of young and old having a good time relaxing or exploring the environment.Kelby Walk man cane POR 2014 BWTo see more of my images from the walk, check out my new eBook, Two Hour Challenge, at http://issuu.com/marionmccristall. Kelby walk title page copyNext time you’re out with your camera, I hope you will take a few moments to look more closely and make images of things that do not normally catch your eye. You may be surprised at how interesting it is and enjoy the fresh new photos you come home with.

Please visit my website http://marionmccristall.com to see more photographs and slideshows.

Some of my photographs can be purchased at http://marion-mccristall.fineartamerica.com

© Copyright Marion McCristall, all rights reserved

Memories of Istanbul

I have countless images in my photo library that call out to be edited and shared. Now that I have finished my photo essay on Portugal, https://mccristall.exposure.co, and created an eBook on Lisbon, http://issuu.com/marionmccristall, I am starting to process some of the images I captured during my recent visit to Turkey.

Sultanahmet Mosque

Sultanahmet Mosque

Istanbul is a fascinating city that blends modern and old worlds on both sides of the Bosphorus Strait. Formerly called Constantinople, it has been inhabited for thousands of years and includes land in both Europe and Asia. Everywhere you turn there are remnants and artifacts of previous civilizations as well as incredible museums, mosques, bazaars, and markets. There are limitless rich treasures waiting to be explored and enjoyed by visitors and those who live there.

Below are three images I will be including in my photography eBook on Istanbul.

Sultanhamet Mosque also known as the Blue Mosque

Sultanahamet Mosque also known as the Blue Mosque

Doorway in the Blue Mosque

Doorway in the Blue Mosque

Fresco in the Church of the Holy Saviour in Chora

Fresco in the Church of the Holy Saviour in Chora

I hope you have the opportunity to visit this vibrant, amazing city one day. I’ll post a link when my Memories of Istanbul eBook is complete and ready to share. Enjoy.

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

© Copyright Marion McCristall, all rights reserved

 

 

 

Lisbon: The City of Seven Hills

Capturing the essence of a place is something I love to do with my camera in hand. Not only do I create mental visual memories but also images that I can look at and enjoy for years to come. After returning from my travels, I like to make sideshows, greeting cards, calendars, prints, and photo essays that depict my experiences.

My photography e-book called Lisbon: The City of Seven Hills shows some of the countless sites I saw during my visits there in the last two years.Lisbon VistaI added post-processing effects in Photoshop CC and created the e-book in Lightroom 5 Book Module.  You can browse my e-book, Lisbon: The City of Seven Hills, here http://issuu.com/marionmccristall/docs/lisbon_ebook_by_marion_mccristallLisbon: the City of Seven HillsImagine the clang of the No. 28 Tram as it weaves through the neighbourhoods, brilliant terracotta rooftops, exquisite tiled facades, lemony coloured walls, twisty cobbled streets with laundry flapping in the breeze, leafy plazas with cafes, and historical sites at every turn. Enjoy walking in the streets of Lisbon through my eyes. Hopefully you will go there one day and take in the wonderful ambiance of such a magnificent city.

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

Impressions at Shamper’s Bluff

Freeman's view of the St. John River from Shamper's Bluff

Freeman’s view of the St. John River from Shamper’s Bluff

Freeman Patterson opened up his home for a small group of photographers attending the Canadian Camera Conference this summer. We were given the immense privilege of reveling in the visual feast of the lush meadows and forest paths at Shamper’s Bluff, NB.

Having followed Freeman’s teachings and musings on photography and visual design for a number of years, I was thrilled at the opportunity to explore a little of the paradise he has so lovingly created. Shamper’s Bluff is not a place of classical beauty with perfectly sculpted flowerbeds, water features and pebbled paths.  Instead, Freeman has created a haven for birds, butterflies, insects, and other creatures to call home. It is a place for him to breathe in the fresh air, enjoy the view of the river and islands in the distance, find solitude from his hectic schedule, and contemplate, while sitting on one of the benches or chairs he has peppered throughout his property.

Freeman's barn at Shamper's Bluff

Freeman’s barn at Shamper’s Bluff

We drove along the winding road and up into his long driveway. I was filled with anticipation of what I would not only see but what I would feel.  I sat on a bench on Freeman’s back porch and drank in the view of mist on the river and acres and acres of meadows where birds are free to sing and the wind can dance in your hair. I cleared my mind preparing to be open to what would capture my attention.  Others headed off in many directions to explore on their own. I stood for a while and then went to the car to get my camera gear.

Slowly, I wandered a little in each direction catching glimpses of tiny white flowers peeking through the undergrowth, shreds of paper birch bark laying amongst pine needles, and little snails slowly making their way to somewhere. My senses opened up and I was ready to take in the clumps of brilliant daisies, purple, magenta, and white lupines, vibrant, tall hollyhocks, brilliant green ferns, pink and white columbine, and azaleas that called out for my attention. I knew I had to take my time in order to make the photographs that reflected how I felt and what I saw.

The last blue poppy of the season.

The last blue poppy of the season.

We were given free range to wander, explore and make images to our heart’s content. It was threatening to rain when we set off early in the morning. Slowly, the clouds parted as if by magic. By noon, the mist lifted and bright sunshine filled the sky.  We had to keep checking our exposures while shadows played and changed as frequently as our apertures and shutter speeds.

Freeman has always been wise and generous in helping us find our way to creative expression through photography. Each of us in unique and, whether reading his books or listening to him speak, we all take away what inspires us. Making images is a journey of discovery, challenges, and moments of immense pleasure.

Columbine covered in morning dew.

Columbine covered in morning dew.

An old, framed, quote by the German poet, Rainer Maria Rilke, hangs on one wall in his house.  It reads, “Love consists of this: that two solitudes protect, and touch, and greet each other.”  Freeman does that with his love for teaching, sharing, mankind, living creatures, and the earth.

Even though Freeman wasn’t able to be with us at Shamper’s Bluff, he was there inspiring me every step of the way. I made some images that will remind me of him and how willingly and openly he shares what he knows. He gives me the courage to try different ways of seeing and tell stories through my art.

Paper birch trees at Shamper's Bluff. Photograph taken using a panning technique I learned from Freeman years ago.

Paper birch trees at Shamper’s Bluff. Photograph taken using a panning technique I learned from Freeman years ago.

Freeman gave us an exceptional gift when he welcomed us into his private sanctuary.  The hours passed much too quickly and we drove back to Fredericton hoping that the images we made captured the beautiful spirit of Shamper’s Bluff.

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

© Copyright Marion McCristall, all rights reserved

Inspired by Freeman Patterson

lonelytreewebsize

Lone Tree in the San Juan Islands – Marion McCristall Photographer

Freeman Patterson is one of Canada’s pre-eminent photographers. He is known world-wide for his excellence in photography, writing, and teaching, and has written several outstanding books. He lives in New Brunswick and was in Vancouver recently to give workshops for photo-enthusiasts.

I have enjoyed Freeman’s photographic style and teachings for several years.  One of my favourite books is “Photography and the Art of Seeing,” and I was fortunate to attend his daylong seminar on Saturday. Freeman spoke to photographers and other artists about the building blocks of visual design and principles of composition. He emphasized the importance of understanding these when framing a shot.

Tulip Waves - Marion McCristall Photographer

Tulip Waves – Marion McCristall Photographer

Throughout the day, Freeman showed us slides that represented his use of light and dark to create tonal contrast.  He spoke about line, shape, perspective, and texture, as they are made visible through tonal and colour contrast.  He recommended doing everything you can “in camera” at the moment you take the picture. He showed slides that inspired us to think more about the importance of balance, rhythm, proportion, and dominance as they apply to image making.

Rhythm of Sea Waves - Marion McCristall

Rhythm of Sea Waves – Marion McCristall

When I look at many of my photographs, I can see his influence as I captured images of my surroundings and various types of subject matter.  I call these my “Freeman Inspired” images. He encourages photographers to take pictures that show how they feel.  He said, “Art is like dreaming, only you can dream your dreams.”

Whispers in Red - Marion McCristall Photographer

Whispers in Red – Marion McCristall Photographer

Freeman creates a vast array of images including exquisite visual photographs with multiple exposures and panning. He is an accomplished, celebrated, nature photographer and has won many accolades including the Order of Canada.  Take a moment to learn more about him and his vision at his website http://freemanpatterson.com

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

© Copyright Marion McCristall, all rights reserved

Persistence with a View

Have you ever entered an art or photography competition?  It is a bit unnerving and it’s often hard to choose which images to enter. I don’t view myself as competitive by nature but I do like to receive feedback to help me find out how I’m developing as a photographer and to learn tips and techniques that will help me improve.

Rooftops in Paris       Theme: Architecture

On the Street in Marrakech, Morocco Theme: Street Photography

Recently I received recognition for my persistence and achievement by entering photographic competitions with my camera club.  Each month there is a theme which helps us to stretch and grow as a photographers. We not only get scores but verbal critique from one or more of the judges.

On the Beat in Chuisi, Italy
Theme: People at Work

Grand Palais Paris
Theme: Interior Architecture

I’ve been a member of Langley Camera Club for four years.  We have about 130 members and enjoy three meetings per month.  We have in-house competitions once per month where we can submit up to two photographs.  Our club also accepts submissions for entries into 13 competitions that are held across Canada.  I have been fortunate in having several of my images selected throughout the year.

Gentle Beauty in Essaouira, Morocco
Theme: Open

The Judy Daniels Award of Excellence is awarded once per year to members who achieve the highest aggregate scores from inside and outside competitions.  I was thrilled to receive 1st Place for the year 2011-2012 at our Awards Ceremony on Oct. 17.

A pic of me being presented with the Judy Daniels Award of Excellence and trophy by our club vice-president, Glen MacKenzie on Oct. 17, 2012

It’s fun to go out and about with my camera in search of scenes that capture my imagination.  For me, the joy of creating images far surpasses the reward of winning competitions. This lovely recognition has inspired me to continue to seek feedback.  If you are interested in learning more about photography, I encourage you to find out about photo clubs in your area.  The people are friendly and it’s always great to be with others who enjoy it as much as you do.

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

© Copyright Marion McCristall, all rights reserved

Camera Speak

My DSLR journey began in the spring of 2008.  It was a time for me to get serious about what I call “Camera Speak”.

I wanted to combine learning more about camera settings with a holiday abroad.  Peter Evans, a British professional photographer now living in France, created a lovely home for art students with his partner, Jill Fellows.

I was thrilled with the warm welcome, spacious en-suite accommodations, and Pete’s ability to patiently explain the function of f-stops, shutter speeds, and ISO settings, over and over and over again.  I have to admit it took a little time to sink in.  Perhaps it was the jet-lag or maybe the thrill of being back in France again. No excuses.  It was a remarkable week and I learned so much. I came home with a desire to return and in May 2009, I was flying across the Atlantic to spend another amazing week with Pete and Jill.

Jill is an artist who gives workshops and teaches week-long courses for painting enthusiasts.  She welcomes absolute beginners to those with years of experience.

Their website is http://painting-photography-france.com

My weeks with Pete helped me to develop a better understanding of camera terminology and knowing when to use the different settings to improve my photography. F-stop, shutter speed, and ISO roll off my tongue like another language.  I feel almost bilingual.

Take a look at the galleries in the portfolio on my website to see the kind of photography I do. http://www.marionmccristall.com 

Prints, canvases, and greeting cards are available at my Fine Art America website.
Photography Prints