Pale

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*****

“If you shut your eyes and are a lucky one, you may see at times a shapeless pool of lovely pale colours suspended in the darkness; then if you squeeze your eyes tighter, the pool begins to take shape, and the colours become so vivid that with another squeeze they must go on fire.”
— J.M. Barrie (Peter Pan)

Submitted to Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness

Childhood Graveyard

When I was a kid, we lived in an apartment across from a graveyard, which became my imaginations iconic cemetery setting from that point forward. When I read Revelations, the judgement took place in that cemetery.  When I wrote a story about my grandmother for a high school competition, it ended in that cemetery (she’s buried elsewhere, a few miles away).  When Harry Potter first fought Voldemort – that cemetery.

It was a dark and shady place, with big wrought iron gates, tall, somber trees, and winding gravel paths just wide enough for cars to pass on.  There were tall statues sprinkled around the south side of the grounds, honoring those with enough money and desire to invest in them, and small, nearly unmarked grave sites on the far east side of the lot, a more traditional New Mexico graveyard, covered in pinwheels and artificial flowers.  There was a “children’s area” on the west side, an area that, at 8 years old, I was especially loathe to visit.

Last year, while visiting in the area, I decided to visit the old place with my camera, nearly 30 years having passed.  I was unexpectedly surprised to find so much changed, and bemused to think how much of that change was only my perception.

The cemetery is now much smaller and brighter than I remember- more organized, and with far fewer trees and statues.  The graves in the east appear to have been moved, replaced with tidy grass and a wall for cremated remains. On the far north side, where I haven’t a memory of ever being, there was not only a 100+ year old Jewish cemetery but also a more organic New Mexico-style graveyard, a dirt lot with various markers and stones.   As a mother of my own 8-year old now, I still found the west side too disturbing to visit.

The Jewish Cemetery

The oldest graves I found, and the most beautiful headstones, were in this area.  The family plot that I spent the most time with was the Block family, with 3 children all lost in their first year of life.

 

The “Organic” Graveyard

Without much tree cover and a thunderstorm rolling in, this area was hot, mocking my cool and shady childhood recollections. Throughout the area were a handful of strikingly similar wrought iron rectangles — my heart sank as my suspicions were confirmed, each one cradling the loss of an infant.

The Main Cemetery

A far more orderly and predictable version of the cemetery setting I carry inside my head. The use of infrared and the heavy clouds rolling gave the space a quiet, winter feel that, on some level, feels like I took back my graveyard setting just a little.

 

Mannequins

I don’t know what it is specifically, but mannequins unnerve me.  I have been volunteering at a local history museum for the last year and there are a number of theses silent watchers sprinkled around the exhibits. Most of them are broken, their qualities amplified by the mood of the old building,  the wind creaking against its roll up doors and metal windows, and my solitude while cataloging.  Where once I found them merely offensive to my feminist leanings, these ladies have also taken on — in the moments I don’t keep my imagination in check– the role of weeping angels, and I am reticent to stand too close (or take pictures of them) while alone.  Damn Dr. Who reruns.

Last summer, I found this delightful subject being prepared for a new exhibit and was itching to work with her. The best of the lot, I was fascinated by the lines across her body– not only is she a ubiquitous representation of a generic (and unreasonable) ideal, her malleability to others’ wishes is actually built in.  Brilliant! Knowing I had only a few days to catch her before she was dressed as a WWII housewife and docilely placed in her assigned exhibit, I rallied my courage to meet her gaze through the lens finder whilst alone.

Gracefully I was, at the time, working on an exhibit with a very kind and understanding social anthropologist who was willing to stay with me a few minutes after we finished cataloging one day, keeping an eye on my subject – and my safety, lol- while I played.

A Funny Thing Happened on My Way Through the Gardens…

2015_09_04_3058-1I have slowly been working toward a IR converted camera for the last 6 months or so and it arrived back home yesterday- couldn’t help but take it out for a spin! The 720nm glass makes black and white feel like a dream-

while still offering me the option of surreal color processing-

For those of you who follow, I am working on a small redesign of the site/ my approach (including enlarging my standard image size), as my “all things I love” blog has shifted lovingly to an “I love photography” blog and my site structure needs a revamp. This is taking some time, with life and all, but I will be posting more frequently (and hopefully better!) going forward.

Lily

2014_07_31_0441-1-300pxDespite my best intentions, my son’s birthday and all the social accoutrement that went with it kept me away from my computer most of last week, so I missed a week of monochrome madness. (If you haven’t seen the weekly compilation, you should check it out!)  This week’s image is one of my favorites comes from my trip to Portland Oregon last summer– a beautiful white lily I found in the shade at the Chinese Garden.

In the course of sizing this image for submission, I realized that all of my pictures from Portland were edited prior to my learning much about the process (or even how to work with RAW files- though thankfully I was shooting JPG + RAW by then).  I have been toying with the idea of giving myself an “anniversary” opportunity to go back and reprocess some of the last year’s photos, given the amount I am learning right now, and pulling this picture up for refresh washed away any doubt I had about the value of such an exercise. (though I don’t know that I am bold enough- or mean enough- to post the old and the new side by side, as I have seen done elsewhere!)

Have a great week!

Monochrome Madness

10 years ago, I packed away my beloved home darkroom and moved into the equally dangerous (and almost as stinky) world of mothering.  A year ago, I finally broke down and purchased a digital photography setup and began the long journey back into an art form I thought I’d all but lost.

10 years ago, I worked exclusively in black and white- monochrome- and loved it.  A holy roller proselytizing the virtue of contrast, composition, and constraint. With the DLSR and Adobe, I will admit, it’s too easy  –  I have taken a real shine to color, especially when the flowers are in bloom. But my heart- my deepest artistic writer heart- still loves black on white- words or print.  There is just a depth there that color can’t begin to touch.

To honor that, for the last month or so, I’ve tried to regularly submit to Leanne Cole‘s wonderful weekly Monochrome Madness postings- wholly intimated by the skill and art of my fellow submitters, but in awe of the amazingly beautiful pictures my work sits beside.  Having made my first black and white 8×10 print in a decade yesterday- that of Miss Esther, on my inkjet photo printer – I once again find myself missing the gorgeous depth of my darkroom prints- the range of tone, the texture of the paper, the acrid smell of the chemicals, the breathless anticipation of a print developing in a tray. If you have a good recommendation for a photo print shop, let me know. My home prints are just proofs, I think, and proof yet that my heart is not foolish in it’s longing to set back up the darkroom.

But- at least on the screen- these submitted photos are a few of my heart’s most recent favorites.

Many Blessings!