Mother’s Day Gifts

Mother’s Day is coming up on May 12, and it’s time for all of us to think of a special kindness for a mother, grandmother or special lady in our lives. My aunt who never married was a special person in my life, so she deserved and well appreciated some TLC on Mother’s Day.

Fresh flowers are a wonderful gift especially in Spring, when perennial plants are just starting to bloom again, awakening our own senses and inspiring us to linger outdoors. So are the gifts that preserve the delicate beauty of nature, such as photographs.

I won’t be braving the unpredictable Spring weather at Sewickley’s May Mart this year, but I am happy to fill requests for notecards, tiles and prints of my varied portfolio of tulips, butterflies and other nature photographs. Just drop me an email to share with me your ideas. Let’s make something beautiful and share the love!

Orange tulips in the foreground are emphasized in this image with a shallow depth of field. Can you reach out and touch them? Phipps Conservatory, Pittsburgh, PA, 2019.

Notre Dame Cathedral: Crown of Thorns Chapel

No one would have predicted the catastrophic fire at Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral yesterday. Millions of people around the world have visited the iconic, historic and major religious site, and I imagine that millions watched the fire on television with feelings of horror and grief. We are all immensely grateful that much of the stone construction survives, and that the French are committed to rebuilding — replacing historic 800-300 year old craftsmanship with today’s. A reconstructed Cathedral won’t be the same, but we can’t leave Paris without its heart.

I have visited Paris six times, and I plan to revisit my photos from all of those trips. Most recently, I walked through Notre Dame late in the day on November 17, 2019. The security line stretched across the plaza, and the interior was packed with people, but we walked the the perimeter in the side aisles, and I took photos of the two Rose windows and the Crown of Thorns Chapel behind the main altar.

Crown of Thorns Chapel in Notre Dame Cathedral on 17 November 2018. Copyright by Catherine Kelly of USA. Prints available at http://www.cathykellyphotography.com.

My Sony mirrorless camera takes amazing images in very low light. Of course, I was not using a tripod in the Cathedral, so I set the camera for ISO 10,000 to hand hold it. It is ironic that my photo of the Crown of Thorns Chapel included a small fire extinguisher in the lower left corner.

The image shown here in this blog is lower resolution, so it will load quickly on your computer or mobile device. The full resolution image will be uploaded to my website and available for purchase. It can be printed 26.7″ x 11.6″ at 300 dpi (recommended). Please keep in mind that this image is protected by U.S. Copyright law, which means it can be purchased from Cathy Kelly, but it should not be copied and distributed without permission/purchase. If you wish to share this image, you are most welcome to share a link to this blog. Follow my blog, please, if you would like to see more images of Notre Dame Cathedral in years past. My next post will feature the beautiful Rose windows, which were destroyed in this tragic fire.

Our hearts are with the brave first responders, the French, the Roman Catholics, the tourists who visited and held Notre Dame in their hearts and the art historians who revered the Cathedral. We all mourn together.

Grand Tetons from the Mormon Barn

It was another dark and frosty morning before dawn, when I found myself trudging down a dirt road with my camera backpack on my back and tripod in my gloved hand. At least two dozen photographers had already arrived at this iconic location, and many were in no mood to share their space.

Finding a spot along the edge of a creek, I waited for the rising sun to color those wispy clouds pink. What I like most about the final image is the warmth of the barn, the grass and the foliage in contrast to the cool blue and grey in the sky and the mountains.

#mormon, #mormonbarn, #warmandcool, #yellowandblue, #foregroundandbackground, #grandtetons, #grandtetonnationalpark, #mountains, #sunrise, #dawn, #clouds, #iconic, #sony
Sunrise at the Mormon barn in Grand Teton National Park, a pleasing blend of warm and cool tones.

Iceland’s Fire and Ice

I’m busy today making prints for a July 6 exhibition: the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust Gallery  Crawl. It’s a fun evening, and you can find some cool photography by ASMP* photographers at 803 Liberty Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA.

I have decided to feature some of the amazing landscapes and birds I saw in Iceland last summer. Whoever said that Iceland is the land of “Fire and Ice” is right! Volcanoes have created some rugged landforms and interesting vistas. On Heimeay Island, one can just imagine how frightened the residents felt when a massive eruption woke them in the middle of the night in January 1973. (All residents fled via fishing boats in the harbor, and the eruption continued for two years.)

Then you can experience “Ice” even in mid-July,  as you bundle up in a parka, hat and gloves and strap spikes to your boots for a hike on an icy, albeit melting, glacier. This glacier was atop an extinct volcano on the Snaefellsness Peninsula.

#iceland, #glacier, #melting, #volcanic, #fireandice, #landscapephotography, #travelphotography, #sony, #ice
You might be gone for good if you fall into this crevice on this Iceland glacier.

Please come to the Pittsburgh Gallery Crawl on Friday evening July 6. It’s free.

*American Society of Media Photographers: ASMP.org.

A Meadow Full

A meadow full of lupines stretch far into the dark edge of the woods. Here are a few compositional tips.  When you frame a photograph, it is a good idea to consider the foreground, middle ground and background, letting the foreground elements lead your eye through the frame.

Shallow depth of field makes the three well lit lupines in the foreground stand out. The countless lupines in the middle ground tells the story that the meadow stretches out a long way, and the dark background at the upper left allows the eye to exit.

Did you notice the star shaped leaves in the lower center? This helps to balance the composition. Did you notice the lack of distracting elements — Nothing that distracts or detracts from the main subject?

#lupine, #lupines, #june, #summer, #pennsylvania, #flowers, #flowerphotography, #nature, #naturephotography, #depthoffiled, #sony
Where does your eye go first in this composition?

As you consider these factors of light, fore/middle/background, S curves, shapes, lack of distractions and depth of field, you are well on your way to learning how to create a dynamic (rather than a static) image.

Whales in Iceland

It was a day multiple blessings and just one First World Problem. First, here are the blessings:

  1. We were on vacation in Iceland.
  2. The weather was sunny and warm (not typical).
  3. In Akureyri, we were going on a RIB (rubber inflatable boat) to observe whales in the fjord.
  4. Humpback whales feed in the Icelandic fjords in July.
  5. We had an experienced pilot and guide who have identified 150 humpback whales by name and understand a great deal about them.
  6. I kept my Sony a7IIr camera dry, and did not lose my sunglasses as we sped around the fjord.

So, what was the First World Problem?  We got so close to Jackson the humpback whale that I couldn’t get the whole whale in my frame! I caught myself exclaiming, “Oh my, we’re too close!” and heard a voice reply, “too close?”

Well, you see, I wasn’t really complaining. I was amazed. Thrilled. Grateful.

My husband was not behind a camera, and just watched the whale, seeing his eye.

#whale, #humpback, #iceland, #akureyri, #rib, #nature, #wildlife, #upclose
Jackson, the humpback whale, next to our boat. See his blow hole and part of his white dorsal fin under water.

#whale, #humpback, #fjord, #akureyri, #rib, #whalewatch, #wildlife, #nature, #windstar
I quickly zoomed my lens from 70 to 24mm to capture more of the whale and the fjord. The white dorsal fin represents one third the length of the body, to give you an idea of the whale’s length.

#whale, #humpback, #jackson, #fjord, #iceland, #rib, #akureyri, #wildlife, #windstar
When Jackson the humpback whale made a deep dive, our pilot headed back to shore.