Category Archives: Open to Delight

Open to Delight…again

Sometime in the past several months, I realized that I had, in all the craziness of home searching, stopped taking photos of those little moments of delight that appeared in my days.  I hadn’t really stopped noticing them, but I hadn’t been recording them.  And I think, the act of recording them makes it a bit more intentional to keep my eyes and heart open to what delight there is in the world.

I’ve written and shared about delight before many times (you can read them here) but as a reminder, I believe that our lives are full of moments of surprise and joy that add up to delight.  Sometimes they are big things but often they are the small things and often we totally miss them if we are not paying attention.  It has been my practice for some time to be more aware of those moments. Taking photos of them helps to be more intentional about it.

I restarted taking my delight photos in August, right in the midst of major moving activities.  I use my phone camera to take the photos, in an effort to keep it simple.

It’s more about noticing the delight than creating a work of art.  The work of art is in the moment itself. 

What’s more, when they are on my phone, I don’t really look at them until it’s time to write a post like this.  Then I get an additional dose of delight when I look back through the photos on my phone and re-delight at all those moments.

Hope you will find delight in some of these images and perhaps go on your own mission to be aware of the delight in your days.

Gratitude for Super Powers

I’ve been taking a wonderful online photography course called Meditations on Gratitude. It’s been a good way to go a bit deeper with my photography and to stretch my thinking a bit. And mostly it’s been fun and uplifting to really focus on gratitude!

One of the lessons was about being grateful for our bodies. Even if there are parts that don’t always work so well, there are still parts that do work well. We were given the task of photographing something about our bodies for which we are grateful. There were a few examples of artists who work with self-portraiture, as well.

Oh no, self portraits!! I so resist being the subject of images so this was a challenge for me. It percolated under the surface for a week or so before I posted my response to the task. As I was thinking I realized that my favorite part about my body is my eyes, my sight. I think “seeing” is one of my super powers. I’ve always noticed things that other people don’t.

We were out for lunch and the sunlight was coming in a window onto our table and it was interesting the way it framed my glasses, so I took a photo on my phone. I kept thinking I couldn’t use that image, it felt like cheating. 🙂 But as I scanned through the images on my phone there were so many images of interesting light. Images I had taken just because I thought the light was interesting. I decided to play with all those. I put them together and this image is the result, sort of what it looks like to be seeing through my eyes all the time, constantly watching light.


I am so so grateful for my eyes and my vision.

I like to think that we each have super powers, those things that make us unique. Those things that we are generally better at doing that others. You might call them our gifts. What are your super powers? What about your body, your being makes you grateful?

Right under my nose

I spent 3 wonderful days last week in Rockport, MA on a little retreat.  Rockport is a small, very old and historic port north of Boston.  Anywhere near the ocean is heaven for me and three days with only myself and my own thoughts was an added treat.  I made lots of images, spent masses of time on a rocky, shallow beach that begs to be explored for hours at low tide, played with images of the bobbing dinghys in the harbor, played with my Lensbaby, but the most satisfying images were made in the last hour I was there.

The tiny cottage where I stayed had a spiral staircase and a string of driftwood pieces hanging along side it.  Just before I was to leave, I noticed some interesting light and all the lines that were being created in that spot.  Packing stopped and I spent more than 30 minutes making images of the lines and light.  Of a week filled with things I love, for some reason this slice of time was extremely gratifying.

Perhaps because I had spent a few days exhaling and relaxing, I was more able to notice and appreciate this little scene of quiet wonder.  But, noticing these small things is what fills our days with delight and gratitude.  It was a reminder to me (because we all need frequent reminding) to stop often and appreciate what is right under my nose.

Lines-1-©GailSHaile Lines-2-©GailSHaile Lines-3-©GailSHaile

This says it all.

“To photograph is to hold one’s breath, when all faculties converge to capture fleeting reality. It’s at that precise moment that mastering an image becomes a great physical and intellectual joy.”                                                                                                                 Henri Cartier-Bresson

I’m busy taking a wonderful online class with Laura ValentiThis quote from famous French photographer, Cartier-Bresson, was used in one of the lessons.  Despite my predilection for quote collecting, I had never read this one before.  When I first read it, I was stunned as it sums up precisely what photography is for me.

That “great physical and intellectual joy” is so so true for me when I am creating with my camera.  This image, from an afternoon of creating with water and color and movement, is a result of that joy.

“Fleeting reality” is also what I work to capture, those moments that are here for a split second and then gone.  But then, isn’t that all of life?

I hope you find some joy in those fleeting moments this week.


Fall Water Abstract-03_©Gail Haile

Fall Water Abstract-03_©Gail Haile Prints available.

Open to Delight – Catching up

Life has been very full the past few months. Delight has shown up  many times and in many places.  Noticing delight and the things that spark it has become a habit for me even if I don’t always capture it with the camera.  That’s really the purpose of taking the photos in the beginning.  Somehow, we feel that if we photograph something it is more tangible.  But after a while, you just notice and capture the moment of delight in your mind.  Noticing, being tuned in to the delight is the important part.

Still, as I was clearing off my phone camera the other day, I found all these images that I’d captured simply because they represented a moment of delight.

A colorful dinner and evening shared with good friends:



Finding a restaurant, while traveling, that offered gluten free pizza!Delight-02-©GailSHaile


Enjoying this gluten free,  truly delicious pizza with fontina cheese, wild mushrooms, and caramelized onions!  Total delight!Delight-03-©GailSHaile


Our daughter arrived with her family for the holidays (a major delight!) and brought me this box of my very, very special, very favorite chocolates

Delight-04-©GailSHaile Delight-05-©GailSHaile


When I was at New Skete Monastery for my beginners’ photography retreat in October,  I purchased this delightful cheesecake from the nuns and tucked it in the freezer to enjoy for Christmas dinner.  Incredibly wonderful!



I’d totally forgotten about this image of the Alps that I captured as we were leaving Switzerland after our last visit to family there.  Often when flying to or from,  some or all of the mountains are covered in clouds, but on this day you could see the whole range quite clearly. 



What a delight to see perfectly uninterrupted blue sky!  That is a rarity in my part of the world but enjoyed it while visiting Atlanta for a PPA conferenceDelight-08-©GailSHaile


We have a beautiful Pin Oak tree in our front yard that has stood witness to most of our family’s life together.  A few years ago, we had the tree trimmed and saved a larger branch to have something created from it.  Just before Christmas we were delighted to finally get the 3 items that my wood artist friend, Carl Stoner, created with that wood.  This lamp and the 2 vases, gifts for our adult children, will be constant reminders of that tree no matter where we are.  



And of course, the shenanigans of our squirrels have continued to delight.  The squirrels shimmy up the wind chimes, pause at the top, climb up onto the bracket, sit for a few seconds, and then take a flying leap over to the suet feeder, a distance of 4 or 5 feet.  If I shew them away, they come back again and again, most persistent are they. Our older grandson took extreme delight in this and spend a great deal of time sitting on the countertop and laughing hysterically when they jumped, then wanting them to do it again.


These images are in no particular order and don’t come close to documenting the many moments of delight over that past few months.  They simply serve as a reminder that delight is right in front of us much of the time if we are open to it.

Autumn Colors – Part Two

The autumn colors, at least from the changing leaves, are officially gone here.  Only a few stray leaves remain in the trees.  The streets are lined with tall piles of fallen leaves waiting for the village workers to come and suck them up into their massive vacuum.

So it’s especially inspiring to think of the glorious colors and light that we were privileged to experience this past month.  Last week’s post, Autumn Colors – Part Oneshared images of trees and leaves as they displayed their full fall glory.  In response to that post, one loyal reader emailed me with the most poetic description of the colors she had seen, Cruising down a local street lined with beautiful homes and well-kept yards, the sunlight was incredible! Or was it the leaves? Together nature had created an explosion of gold, saffron, and mustard so saturated and intense that it blew paint right out of the water! It seemed ‘alive,’ and it made my insides dance!” I could not say it any better!

This week I am sharing images of water that show off those autumn colors.  Again, I challenged myself to portray those colors in a unexpected way.

Water seems to be where my soul rests and photographing the light and colors in the water centers me as no other subject does.

The next time you look at a lake, a river, even a puddle, really look and see what you see besides “just water”.


Please feel free to share my blogs with your friends and family and thank you always for reading.

Autumn Colors – Part One

The autumn colors this year have been spectacular!  The light has been amazing and the colors have been so fun to capture.

Here in the northeast, the autumn colors are a regular treat, though some autumns seem more remarkable than others.  There are very scientific, change of season type, reasons why the leaves change color and drop from the trees that you can brush up on here.   If it’s been a dry summer, the autumn colors are often rather dull.  If it rains or snows a lot early in the season, the show is cut short.  I think one of the reasons this year has been so spectacular is the amount of sunshine that we’ve had.  It lights up all those colors and makes them glow.

I’ve taken a few days during this time to get out, with camera in hand, and immerse myself in all that light and color.  For me the color and light are more like paints to be applied to canvas.  I like to play and add movement and texture to create images that show them in ways that our eyes don’t see.

The challenge, for me, is how to capture that beauty in ways that cause us to see it in a new way.  

The autumn colors in these images all include leaves in some way.  I’ve used camera movement, changes in perspective,  and shallow depth of field to emphasize the colors and light.

Part two, next week, will be images that feature water with the autumn colors.

What will you do this week to see your world in a new way?

(Be sure to click on an image and scroll through them, so that they will enlarge and you can see all those colors!)


It would be great if you would share this with anyone you know that might be interested!  Thank you!

Open to Delight: Summer Part Two

How have you been delighted recently?

This is the second installment of Summer Delights.  In last week’s Open to Delight post I shared several images of times I was delighted in the past two months.  There were so many that I decided to split them up and share some this week as well.

All the images this week have something to do with nature and wildlife.

While I was at Hobart and William Smith Colleges for a week-long photography workshop, I  was walking back to my room one evening and discovered this robin’s egg in the middle of the sidewalk.  There were no trees overhead and nearby so it was a bit odd that this egg was sitting, unbroken, in the middle of the sidewalk.  I kept it safe and warm for a few days but it was obvious that it was not going to hatch. The shape and color are so lovely, my mind is playing with ideas for properly photographing it.

Summer Delights 11-©GSHaile

Summer Delights 11-©GSHaile

While at the workshop in at HWS, these baby barn swallows greeted us each time we passed through the door to our room.  The parents had built a nest on top of the sprinkler that was directly over the entrance to our suite.  Each time we went through the door the babies would peek out at us and the parents would swoop down and scold us for being too close to their babies.  On the last day of the workshop, we walked out our door and discovered that the babies had decided to join the parents and fly away.  I just love the looks on their faces!

Summer Delights 12-©GSHaile

Summer Delights 12-©GSHaile

Have you even seen a squirrel totally chilled out?  I didn’t know that was possible.  Squirrels are the epitome of constant and frantic activity and chatter.  But one day, I looked out my office window and noticed this squirrel just hanging out on top of this birdhouse (we suspect it’s a squirrel house most of the time).  He stayed like this for at least 20 minutes, at one point actually hanging his paws over the side in total relaxation. Wonder if he was delighted to be getting an opportunity to relax?

Summer Delights 13-©GSHaile

Summer Delights 13-©GSHaile

Another moment that delighted me was watching this wren flitting back and forth among the three houses.  It appeared that she had taken up residence in all three.  Or maybe she was a bit like Goldilocks and was testing them out to see which was ‘just right”?

Summer Delights 14-©GSHaile

Summer Delights 14-©GSHaile

Why is it that we rarely take time to see those gems that are right nearby us?  The Root Glen ( a garden and arboretum named for the Root family) at nearby Hamilton College is one of those places for me.  It’s  less than 2 miles away and every time I go there, I wonder why I don’t visit more often.  I did take an hour or so to wander through the gardens and play with my camera one summer day.   The garden was in between the lush bounty of summer and the fire of fall but I delighted in just being there and enjoying the moment.

These blossoms are in the onion, Allium, family and I was able to isolate the one blossom with a very shallow depth of field.

Summer Delights 15-©GSHaile

Summer Delights 15-©GSHaile

The Bee Balm, Monarda,  was just about done for the year, but I liked the look of this one spend flower head and the contrast of the fuschia pink with the green background.

Summer Delights 16-©GSHaile

Summer Delights 16-©GSHaile

How can you not be delighted around puppies?  The monks of New Skete are world famous for breeding German Shepherd dogs.  When I led my first photography retreat  at New Skete Monastery, the monks were kind enough to let us see the nursery where a litter had been born just 3 days prior.  There was also a group of 4 week old pups and a litter of 7 week olds. Brother Gregory brought out two of the oldest puppies and let them run and play while we photographed.  Everyone, including the puppies, was most delighted!

Summer Delights 17-©GSHaile

Summer Delights 17-©GSHaile

Summer Delights 18-©GSHaile

Summer Delights 18-©GSHaile

It’s fun to write these posts and revisit some of the moments when I was delighted.  It makes me remember even those that didn’t make it onto a memory card other than the one in my head. And it’s fun to anticipate what the Open to Delight post may hold in a month or so.

In what ways do you think you be surprised by delight in the coming weeks.?  We just need to be open to it!

Open to Delight: Summer

I just realized it’s been almost two months since I posted any of the moments of delight that have happened.  How did that happen?!  One word, summer.  Summer in my part of the world is short and a time to thoroughly and completely savor every lovely moment of sunshine and warmth.  Talk about delight!!!!

This summer has been graced with many, many moments of delight.  When I can, I take pictures of those moments with whatever camera is most handy, often my phone but sometimes with my more advanced cameras.  The most important part isn’t even taking the picture, though, it’s taking the time to notice, to be in that moment.

It’s surprising when I review the images that have accumulated in my delights folder.  I get to experience the delight again as I share with you. There were so many images in that folder, this time, that I’m going to split them up and save some for next week.

Summer Delights, Part One

I don’t often take pictures of food as so many people do (or as this artist friend of mine who does amazing paintings of food).  Occasionally, though, the beauty of a particular dish just demands that I photograph it.  The bright colors in this seafood stew only hint at the amazing aroma and flavors that it offered. The most delightful part was that it was made without the aid of a recipe and from things I had in the fridge, freezer, and garden.  Cooking can be a truly creative activity!

Summer Delights 1-©GSHaile

Summer Delights 1-©GSHaile

I had never tasted a fresh fig until visiting family in Europe in the past few years.  Prior to that, my notion of figs was  heavily influenced by a certain cookie which I had tasted once, maybe twice, as a child and banished to the category of “not eating that”.  Tasting large, juicy fresh figs readily available from the grocery store in Switzerland changed all that.  Checking our area grocery stores yielded, at best, VERY occasional fig availability that were poor imitations of what I’d so enjoyed in Europe. So it was a huge delight when a friend mentioned she’d seen a sign for CNY Figgery.  Imagine that!  Fresh figs right here in central New York!

We took a drive to the figgery and discovered they also sold fig trees!  So we’ve been carefully tending this tree all summer.  Isn’t it beautiful?!  It is now twice as large as what you see here and filled with more than a dozen ripening figs.

Summer Delights 2-©GSHaile

Summer Delights 2-©GSHaile

As you may have noticed, much of my work is about paying attention to the little things, the often overlooked beauty right at our feet, at times literally at out feet.  My husband has become adept at this, as well.  While working in the yard one day, he brought me this heart rock that he’d discovered.

Summer Delights 3-©GSHaile

Summer Delights 3-©GSHaile

There’s something pretty delightful, to me, about seeing plants sprouting in unlikely places as in the next two images. They speak of strength and resilience.

Summer Delights 4-©GSHaile

Summer Delights 4-©GSHaile

Summer Delights 5-©GSHaile

Summer Delights 5-©GSHaile

I don’t often photograph sunsets.  It seems to me that it’s easy to be awed by sunsets while we often miss less obvious sources of awe.

The next two images are not the most spectacular images of sunsets, but represent two moments of delight  in my summer.  The first was the sunset from Emmaus House at New Skete Monastery the first evening I was there, awaiting the arrival of participants for my first Seeing with New Eyes photography retreat.  I was sitting alone in the quiet of the warm evening listening to all the sounds of the mountain and anticipating what the next two days would hold.  This gentle sunset was a perfect backdrop to that moment.

Summer Delights 6-©GSHaile

Summer Delights 6-©GSHaile

Water, beautiful light, my camera, and a couple of delightful hours free to play were a pleasant respite from fun but long days in a computer classroom learning Corel Painter near Seneca Lake.

I often find that it’s difficult to capture the grandeur of the sky in those moments.  While this still doesn’t do it adequately, it’s closer.  I’ve found that if you take several images with a wide angle lens and then merge them to create a panoramic image, it gives a better sense of the vastness of the sky and the colors.

Summer Delights 7-©GSHaile

Summer Delights 7-©GSHaile

I love to photograph reflections, so I was delighted to capture this colorful one during that evening playing by Seneca Lake.

Summer Delights 8-©GSHaile

Summer Delights 8-©GSHaile

Much of delight has to do with the unexpected as well as the beautiful.  While sitting with a friend one evening, I was surprised by the simplicity and beauty of this scene created by the setting sun coming through the front door.

Summer Delights 9-©GSHaile

Summer Delights 9-©GSHaile

On the second Wednesday evening of each month, if I’m not traveling, you will find me in the company of a group of women with whom I have shared six years of Creativity Group.  It’s always a fun, inspiring evening (actually that’s a pretty lame description of what happens, but it’s difficult to put words to.  See my post here about creativity group.).  We rotate hosting the group in our homes.  I always love to host in the summer so we can be out on our deck, which some have dubbed the “tree house”, shown here all ready for the group. It was a wonderful evening filled with many delights.

Summer Delights 10-©GSHaile

Summer Delights 10-©GSHaile

There were many moments of delight that were not captured except in my soul.  But there were a few more that I was able to capture as an image.  I decided to save those for another installment next week.

During the coming week, take time to notice those moments of delight and take a picture in your soul if not with a camera.