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

 

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

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

Simplicity

Summer is a time when our senses come alive with sights and sounds of bustling farmers’ markets, children playing at the beach, kites flying high in deep blue skies, and people filling parks with their blankets and picnic suppers.

When I go out with my camera I see vibrant colours of wildflowers in meadows, lush vegetable gardens, light filtering through cedar groves, and tourists, gelato in hand, stopping to enjoy local attractions.

I am drawn to try to capture it all and create photographs that tell the stories of what I see. When I take my time, I also like to make images that separate an object from the cacophony of summer delights and focus only on it. I call this simplicity.Daisy quote BCLight and shadow are a photographers best friend.This exquisite daisy was growing in a cluster under the shadowy eaves of a barn. It caught my eye with the light falling over the top of the petals. I zoomed in to make this lovely photograph. I added a slight texture and quote using photo editing software.

When you’re out taking pictures, try to capture just the simplest element of what you see.  You may be surprised and delighted at the beauty of it all.

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

Spring Tulip Posters

tulips WC poster BDI take photographs through every season but there is something magical about spring. I love it when the tulips burst forth with vibrant colours and stand tall in the crisp breezes.tulips fence 16x16 WC BDI had the opportunity to go to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival near La Conner, Washington, last week. The fields were gorgeous and filled with row after row of a myriad of colours.tulips yellow red 16x24WC BDUsing Photoshop, I created these lovely posters of some of the visions I captured with my camera. tulip single darker blur BDIf you have photo editing software you will be able to add a slight watercolour effect and a border to make your own posters.  tulips tree fence 12x12WC BDGive it a try and enjoy!

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

© Copyright Marion McCristall, all rights reserved

Magnolia Bloom

I’m delighted that my recent photograph of this lovely magnolia bloom won 3rd place in Darts Hill Garden’s annual photo competition. There was a special day set aside for photographers and only images taken on that day could be submitted.

Darts Hill Garden is located a short drive from Vancouver in south Surrey, BC.  It’s truly beautiful with its stunning flower beds and manicured lawns.  There are exciting varieties of flowers to enjoy and photograph. Many of the plants and trees are rare and unique and have been imported from all over the world. Francisca and Edwin Darts started developing the property and worked tirelessly for 50 years. They generously left it in the care of the City of Surrey and a large contingent of volunteer gardening enthusiasts.

Members can visit the park once per month and public open houses are held in the spring and fall. Arrangements for small groups to visit the gardens can be made through the City of Surrey.

The website for Darts Hill Garden Park is www.dartshill.ca

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

© Copyright Marion McCristall, all rights reserved

Spring Tease

Just dropping by to tease you with a little spring colour.  It’s supposed to snow here on the west coast tonight but I am thinking fresh, perky, brilliant flowers.

I added a watercolour effect to these images using Adobe Photoshop CS5.  I like the way the edges melt together ever so slightly and the colours pop a little more than in the original photos.

Think spring and smile…it’s only a few weeks away.

To see more of my photography, check out the Galleries in the Portfolio section of my website http:marionmccristall.com

© Copyright Marion McCristall, all rights reserved

Celebrate Spring

Have you had time to stroll in parks or wander in nurseries and admire the variety of plants ready for your garden or patio pots?

spring in Stanley Park, Vancouver

We had a mild winter here in Vancouver so the bulbs have been bursting through the earth in what seems like a frenzy of wild abandon. The colours are especially bright and the flowers are begging to be admired.  School holidays and Easter have come and gone and it’s time to take visual breaks and enjoy the freshness and beauty of spring flowers and buds.

Mother Nature never fails to amaze me. I often take my camera when I go on walks and recently created this slideshow to remind me of the lovely images I’ve seen along the way.  I added a little watercolour effect to some of the pictures when I edited them.

Next time you go for a walk in your neighbourhood, local park, or even your own backyard, take time to breathe in the fresh air and look for the delightful signs of spring.

spring in La Conner, Washington

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “Earth laughs in flowers” … I hope this slideshow brightens your day.

Enjoy!

Slideshow: created using Smilebox.  Music: Santa Fe by Ottmar Liebert.


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All photographs © Marion McCristall

Sunflowers

Nature's Smile

Nature's Smile

What makes you smile inside?

Seeing sunflowers grow in the fields and gardens makes me smile.  I love looking at their crowns of petals and dark, inky black centers glowing in the sun.   I’m always amazed at how big and heavy they get as the seeds mature and wonder how their stalks are sturdy enough to support such a load.  The brilliance of Mother Nature never fails to amaze me.

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There is a farm near me where rows and rows of sunflowers tower up into the sky almost as though they are competing to see who can grow the tallest.  I like to take my camera with me in early September as I go in search of images to use in photo greeting cards.  I wear a hat to keep the spider webs off my face and talk gently to the bees in hopes that they will concentrate on their mission and keep their stingers to themselves….so far it’s worked.

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There are many varieties of sunflowers and they have been growing on this continent for thousands of years.  Today they provide us not only with visual delights in the garden, flower arrangements, and photos, but with cooking oil, roasted snacks, and nutrient rich seeds for birds.  I toast the raw ones in a little cooking oil and butter, cool, and use them in salads, muffins, and cookies.

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Look around you…take a moment to find something visual that makes you smile today.

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“If you smile when no one else is around you, you really mean it.” – Andy Rooney

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