Beauty in the Swamp

On first impression, the swamp is chaotic. With its high canopy, most of the scene is dark with shadow. The day’s bright sunlight barely filtering through. Large tree trunks, felled by past storms lie at random angles and decay. Walking the boardwalk, I look down into the murky water for alligators, frogs and snakes. I hear a variety of bird calls, but looking around and above me, I cannot spot the birds.

I walk and observe my surroundings for more than an hour. My vision is drawn to the ferns, which spring from the decaying tree trunks and at times fill in a section of the swamp. I see the color, the pattern and the contrast of a narrow trunk, speckled with lichen. I have found a composition. As I work with the image later, I developed a painting. What do you think?

My photograph of the bed of ferns in Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary became a painted image, using Topaz Simplify software. Available as a print by request.

For more information on a print, contact cathykellyphotography@gmail.com. Your feedback is always welcome, too.

Driftwood in Infrared

This driftwood stump caught my eye while I was walking the beach, as I noticed grasses growing out of the center. The scene spoke to me of both the passage of time and the regeneration of life, naturally occurring. Looking it over, I saw a simple composition that would be interesting to photograph with my Infrared camera.

Grasses growing out of an old tree stump on the beach in Naples, Florida. Infrared Photograph processed to grayscale and ochre with high contrast in the sky, creative choices of the artist.

Do you find this image both peaceful and intriguing? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

An Infrared Book Idea

Infrared photography can really open your eyes and unleash your inner artist. There are so many ways to process an image that captures visible and invisible light above 590 nanometers, that the creative possibilities for rendering a simple scene can be inspiring. Let me explain.

When I go out to shoot Infrared photos, I look for simple compositions (less is more) with interesting shapes, strong contrast and often, a sky. For example, a an image that includes sunlit foliage against the sky will be high contrast. Walking around your familiar environment, you can find these elements. (A perfect COVID-safe activity!)

Sunlit palm tree against a clear sky at the Naples Botanical Garden, February 2021. My high-contrast black-and-white Infrared photographs are the most popular images, since black-and -white photography is fully accepted and widely appreciated. This image makes a dramatic large print.

When you begin to process at the computer, the fun begins. Using some special techniques, you can render the image in black and white, or blue and white, or blue and yellow, or blue and pink, for example. The possibilities are not exactly endless, as they are derived from manipulation of the red and cyan color channels, but there is lots of space for experimentation and expression of personal taste.

The body of work I have created with Infrared photography and creative processing at the Naples Botanical Garden gave me the idea of putting together a book that includes a variety of processing applications. When I share a single print, I get mixed reactions from people who don’t know what to make of this imaging style. I find myself explaining that black and white photography is “not reality,” but it is revered, and has been a part of our art culture for a hundred years. And consider this: fine art painters take liberties with colors, making choices express feelings and moods, rather than literal “photographic” reproduction. In contemporary art, painters have been freed from even a literal rendering of form when they paint in the abstract, right?

I find that most people don’t understand Infrared Photography, as it is uncommon. I am proud to be an Infrared pioneer, and I hope you will join me and enjoy it.

Spinning Flowers

I nudged myself to get out in the backyard and experiment with some flower photography today. Summer 2020 should be the summer of experimentation, right? I played with long exposures and spinning the camera while pressing the shutter. My favorite image was this one of my hydrangea plant that preserved the outlines of the leaves.

#hydrangea, #experiment, #creative,  #july #flowers, #flowerphotography, #nature, #outdoorphotography, #abstract, #spin
Hydrangea blossoms in pink and blue appear slightly abstract in this spinning image, nicely framed by a wreath of vibrant leaves. © Catherine Kelly

If you want to try this method, you need to set the camera to manual and dial in a long exposure like a third of a second. To achieve a correct exposure, you will need to stop down the lens (to perhaps f/11 or f/16), and set a low ISO (such as 100). The settings will vary for you based on the available light. Focusing is still important. Once you have achieved a good exposure with shutter speed, aperture and ISO, it’s time to play.

Dawn’s Early Light

While we are staying “safer at home,” I’m looking through the images I captured in February and uncovering a few hidden gems. I have found new examples of why it really pays off to wake up in the dark and get on location as the sun rises. The reflections on the lake makes this egret look regal.

#greategret, #reflection, #lake, #light, #morninglight, #earlybird, #fishing, #color, #dawn, #florida, #naplesflorida
Great White Egret catches a tiny fish while dawn’s early lights paints the lake with color.

This image is similar to one I blogged about in February, but it’s different with the fish in the egret’s bill. Here is another frame from moments later.

#greategret, #ripples, #lake, #water, #fishing, #reflection, #color, #dawn, #morninglight, #florida, #birds, #egret, #wildlife
Walking about in the shallows and dunking its head, this Great Egret makes circular ripples in the lake.

American Black Duck Ballet

Since professional ballerinas are usually strikingly tall and thin, it’s funny to see the rounded figure of a duck extending a leg back into a graceful arabesque.

#mallard, #ducks, #mallardduck, #pose, #leg, #female, #pair, #morninglight, #reflection, #lake, #florida, #naples, #nikon, #tamron, #wildlife, #birds
These American Black Ducks were active at dawn, swimming and mating and hanging out on the lake in Naples, Florida February 2020.

Both ducks are mottled with purple accent feathers on their wings. The male duck with the yellow beak swims on the left below. The female bill is mottled. Smart ducks, they winter near the coast. Their population has fallen, but they are found in the Eastern United States.

#mallard, #ducks, #lake, #color, #swimming, #pair, #female
The same two American Black Ducks in synchronized swimming. Naples FL February 2020.

Narcissus: Beauty on the Surface

This Great Egret is no Narcissist. He’s just foraging for fish on a Tuesday morning. But his clear reflection in the lake reminded me of the Greek Myth about Narcissus, the character who fell in love with his reflection. This moment frozen in time in a still image gives the impression that the egret may have stared at his reflection for a few minutes. Of course, this moment passed in an instant.

This morning the colors reflected in the water and the ripples surrounding our Great Egret gave this image a unique ethereal quality. The smooth white egret and its reflection contrast with the color and texture of the water, bringing our eye to rest on the bird and its mirror image.

#egret, #greategret, #mirror, #reflection, #colors, #ripples, #symmetry, #narcissus, #greekmythology, #naplesflorida, #naples, #naturephotography, #morninglight, #texture
Great Egret looks beneath the water for fish, while I quietly capture the reflections and ripples on the surface. Naples, FL 2020.

Art Show Entries

How to pick just TWO images from the past year of photography for the upcoming Art Show in Pelican Bay, our community in Florida? It’s time to order two good sized metal prints for the show. I asked myself which images I would like to keep, assuming no one asks to buy them, and I realized that I have a personal favorite that I did not include in my 2020 photography calendar and I have not included (yet) in my blog! So, here it is:

As I was aiming my Sony camera at the scene (in the rain) and asked my husband to “wait up” for me, I thought to myself that this might become one of my favorite images of the Canadian Rockies trip. Three components made me excited: 1. the vibrant hues of the turquoise lake and red and orange canoes, 2. the pleasing juxtaposition of these colors, which are opposite each other on the color wheel and 3. the circular arrangement of the canoes in the foreground.

#morainelake, #moraine, #alberta, #canada, #canadianrockies, #canoes, #color, #colour, #colorwheel, #composition, #photography, #nationalparks, #favorite
My favorite photos tend to be the ones I was most excited about as I was capturing them. It still brings me great pleasure to remember the joy of photography in the moment. Moraine Lake, Alberta, Canada.

If I asked others to choose my two best photographs of 2019, I will probably get a different reply. Do you have any suggestions for my second entry in the Art Show?

The Glistening Bow River

From the summit of Sulphur Mountain, high above Banff, let’s travel down to the Bow River flowing past the village of Banff. Enjoy a scenic walk with me into Banff past the falls and across the pedestrian bridge. On this day, there was plenty of sunshine, fresh air and no sound but the rushing water and the gravel underfoot.

The clear rushing waters below the falls lead the eye toward the distant mountains of Banff National Park.

This image will be included in the 2020 wall calendar Cathy just designed, featuring photographs of the Canadian Rockies. Send Cathy an email if you would like to reserve a calendar for yourself or a holiday gift.

Vibrant Moraine Lake

Even in a steady rain, the vibrant color of Moraine Lake in Alberta Canada is striking. Add some fall color for contrast, and include some fallen tree trunks for foreground elements, and you the viewer are right there with me, walking along the lake’s edge.

Walking along Moraine Lake in the rain, we admired the Canadian Rockies and their glaciers.