Light, gesture, colour…

flower6Inspired by the incomparable Jay Maisel, I set out to experiment with light, gesture and colour.

There is a flowering tree not far from our boat (a Hong Kong orchid, I am told) with a lovely fragrance. I love trees in general and I find myself returning to this one often. At certain times,  the light falls on the flowers in a way that is irresistible.

So today I spent some time with the flowers, trying to capture a range of their gestures (placement of petals and stamens etc.) and experimenting to see how their colour changed depending on where the light fell on them.

I love listening to Jay Maisel talk about photography. He has forgotten more than I will probably ever know. The funny thing is that he speaks in such straightforward terms and makes it sound so easy, and when you look at his images, you can be fooled into thinking they are simple to make  — that is, until you try to replicate one! He has some wonderful videos on You Tube (Google them!) and of course, his new book Light, Gesture, Colour is just excellent.

Many people snap away at flowers and are quite pleased with the results. I envy them. In my experience it’s not easy to take a good picture of a flower — at least one that satisfies me. The ratio of bad to good is quite high. Is that just me, or do you find that too?


Here are some of my favourite quotes from Jay Maisel. They inspire me to keep going and keep trying…

“We have always wanted to find the ‘it-ness’ of anything we shoot. We want to get as deep into the subject as we can.”

“You will, in time, see and show others not just the superficial, but the details, the meanings, and the implications of all that you look at …”


“What you’re shooting at doesn’t matter, the real question is: ‘Does it give you joy?’”

“Always shoot it now. It won’t be the same when you go back.” (That is oh so true!)


“The drama of light exists not only in what is in the light, but also in what is left dark. If the light is everywhere, the drama is gone.”

“If you don’t have a camera, the best thing you can do is describe how great it looked.”

“If you’re not your own severest critic, you are your own worst enemy.”

But then, on the other hand…

“Remember that most people (those who are not photographers) don’t even see the things that you missed. Many don’t even look. Ergo, you are way ahead of the game.”



THANK YOU to all my readers…

I wish I could thank each and every one of you for your kind, thoughtful and insightful comments on this post. They made my day!

It looks like the weather is shaping up for us to leave to cross to the Bahamas on our sailboat very soon. So I need to turn my attention to other things right now and will probably be without Internet access for a bit.

I hope to see you on the other side!


Windex for the eyes…Part 1

orange and gree

Part 2 is delayed due to technical difficulties….it will be posted as soon as possible.

Sometimes in life serendipity takes over. And I’ve learned that it’s kind of crazy to ignore it.

When I left Canada in January, I had no plans to take a photography workshop , but when the opportunity presented itself, I hesitated a few minutes and then decided to jump at it.

I had heard of the Miksang school from Kim Manley Ort, and I have long admired her contemplative approach to photography, which has Miksang roots.

So when I read that there were a few places left at a workshop being held at Delray Beach, only a short distance away, it all seemed quite doable.

I was also familiar with the teachings of the instructors, Julie Dubose and Michael Wood, through their books, which I owned and had pored over, fascinated by their unique approach. I had also gone through the photographs in their books marvelling at how startlingly fresh they were.

What would I learn I wondered? I still didn’t know quite what to expect, but was quite excited about the prospect of devoting four full days to photography.

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And while the workshop  was definitely about photography, it was so much more than that. There was no instruction about how to take a “good” photograph or compose a “good” image.

In fact, the desire to take a good photograph was discussed as an obstacle to direct perception! Our ideas of what is good are very conditioned by how we have been taught and can really get in the way of really seeing what is right there in front of us.

So this workshop was really about seeing. Seeing without filters — without overlays of meaning and value, pleasure, dislike, or disinterest. Seeing afresh, seeing as if for the first time.

As Julie and Michael say: “These perceptions are vibrant and vivid, pulsating with life. The visual world is our feast, our playground. Seeing in this way brings us joy in being alive.”

Who wouldn’t want to see this way?

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The camera comes in as a tool to express our visual perceptions exactly as we experience them.

Julie and Michael continue: “Through our images we can express our experience of seeing. Our photographs will carry within them our heart, our mind, the blood of our experience.”

Now that might seem easy, but it’s really incredibly difficult. I’ll talk about that in Part 2.

I loved the format of the workshop. We gathered in the morning to hear a short presentation and go through some experiential exercises designed to sharpen our perceptions. These were quite extraordinary in their effectiveness, yet so easy we learned we could do them any time we wanted to “wake up.”

Then we spent several hours working on our assignments and having lunch somewhere in the warm, colourful and visually delightful community of Delray Beach. Then back to the workshop to select the 10 images we wanted to share. The rest of the day was spent looking at each others’ work and hearing the instructors’ and other participants’ reactions.

The first two days we focused on colour, the next day on texture and the last day on pattern and light.

Stay tuned for more in Part 2…

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While at the Miami Boat Show, I took the opportunity to shoot a few abstract pieces based around the always startling and unusual Miami architecture.

I could do this for days and never get tired. Unfortunately, I only had part of one!


miami building

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Celebrating different kinds of love…

heart copy

We’re all a little weird. And life is a little weird. And when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall into mutually satisfying weirdness—and call it love—true love.

Robert Fulghum

rainbow - love


I don’t love my friends with my heart nor with my mind
this is because, the heart stops, and the mind forgets
i love my friends with my soul
it never stops and nor does it forget.




 Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.

Anatole France

Puppy love…

dad mum and puppy

A week ago I returned from a photography workshop in Delray Beach to find that a litter of five Golden Retriever puppies had taken over the marina — well, the attention of most of the boaters and liveaboards here anyway.

The pups’ human is a sea captain who lives on his boat with the two parents — Punkin (mom) and Fuzzy (dad). Punkin gave birth to the puppies in early January. Their birth story was a bit traumatic — as two of the pups were born on the boat — but the last three were not coming out. An excellent vet was able to perform a C-section the next day and save all the puppies. What a relief for Chris and Punkin!

All seven dogs now live on the boat and Chris brings the pups ashore several times a day for exercise and training purposes. As you can imagine, they attract quite a bit of attention and generate lots of smiles.  Even the toughest and most serious cannot seem to resist these puppies.

I’ve been thoroughly enjoying my play time with the puppies. And I’ve been trying my best to capture their cuteness with my camera. I’ve never really done much pet photography, except for Angus and Charles of course, so it’s been quite a challenge. While focusing on one, the others nip at my ankles and try to trip me up. They race around like little maniacs, which makes it hard to get clear shots, and then they collapse in a pile.

Chris has been sending out some of my photos to people who are interested in taking a pup, so I’m glad to be helping the pups find good homes. They have about three more weeks and then they will be gone. Life at the marina will not be the same without them!

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Pelican play…


pelican bluelr

I wasn’t planning to shoot pelicans today, but there they were in the marina we are living in now on our sailboat, attracted by the man cleaning fish at the table designed for that purpose. The light was great so I grabbed my camera.

Groups of pelicans are called squadrons. They hover around waiting for tasty tidbits to be thrown at them. They swoop in and splash down, see what they can grab to eat, and then they fly away, splashing on take off too. They are so intriguing.

I learned a lot about these funny looking creatures last year and shared some of it in a previous post on pelicans. I took most of my shots last time from our dinghy and used my 24 to 85 mm lens.

This time I used my 70 to 200 mm lens to capture the pelicans which enabled me to get some decent close ups. I also used back button focus, which resulted in much better focus in most of my shots. And of course continuous shooting gave me a good selection of pelican poses. Here are some of my favourite captures.

By the way, I started a new blog about living on our sailboat, Windsong II. Pop over if you are interested.


Here’s looking at you, kid.


pelican pilingslr


The pelican wingspan is about 6 to 7 feet.

part of pel

Unseen forces…


st lucie blvdLRLight precedes every transition. Whether at the end of a tunnel, through a crack in the door or the flash of an idea, it is always there, heralding a new beginning.

Teresa Tsalaky



We were sent into the world alive with beauty. As soon as we choose Beauty, unseen forces conspire to guide and encourage us towards unexpected forms of compassion, healing and creativity.

John O’Donohue

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