Tag Archives: Gratitude

2012 Top 10 Favorite Fine Art Images

A couple of weeks ago, I reviewed my images from last year and posted my 10 favorite portraits for 2012.  In preparation for professional image competitions , I’ve been continuing to review my fine art images from last year.  I’ve been doing a lot more of this kind of work the past year, so there was a lot to go through and it was hard to narrow it down to ten.  These 10 made it to my favorites for a variety of reasons which I will mention with each image.  They are in no particular order.  (click on each image to see it larger)

Alexander and the Chapel_©GSHaile

Hamilton College is located in Clinton, NY, the village where I live.  I went out early one cold January morning last year to capture this iconic building  and statue of Alexander Hamilton.

There are some adjustments that I made to the image during processing in Photoshop that achieved this timeless quality.

Stormy HOrizon Mandala_©GSHaile

I probably created close to 500 mandalas this year as I explored this art form.  So it is natural that there would be a few mandalas in my top 10.  The original image for this mandala was taken on a grey March afternoon that produced some of the most amazing cloud formations I had ever seen.  The sky looked like rolling ocean waves.  I liked the contrast of the bare tree line against the clouds.  It is one of the few square mandalas that I’ve created.



I gained a new appreciation for the shapes and lines of bare trees last year.  I would constantly be watching for interesting shapes in trees and waiting for a day that might produce some interesting color in the sky.  Even with that forethought, there is always an element of surprise when I mandala comes together on my screen.  This mandala is probably my favorite of all the mandalas that have been created.  Something about the color, the pattern, and the quality of the light resonates with me.


The original capture on this image was in 2008, but I feel like I should include it in the 2012 favorites because that was when I finally was able to pull out the true image.  When I shot this originally, I knew there was an image there, but the raw file was a bit flat and lacked punch.  I played with the image over the next 4 years quite a bit and have at least 6 different versions of it.  After a couple of very instructive classes in 2011, I had a better idea of how to make the image reflect what I saw and felt when I was in that place.  I used that knowledge to prepare the image for competition last spring and was happy that it did very well, earning a Court of Honor award and being included in the PPA International Photographic Competition General Collection.  So, yes, this is one of my favorites of 2012. Sometimes, it just takes a while for the true image to be revealed.



This composite image, is also not originally from 2012.  I  was inspired to create it in 2011, when I saw the closets full of shoes that one of my high school senior clients had.  It took 2 takes, my first attempt at capturing the shoes didn’t work as expected.  She brought all her shoes back for another try and I photographed each pair separately and then combined them in Photoshop.  I entered it in competition and it was chosen to be published in the 2012 PPA Loan Collection volume, a collection of the best of the best in photography.  (This is a very large image, 8 x 55″.  In order to fit into the post, the thumbnail is relatively small.  Click on the image to get a closer view of the entire composite. )

City Reflections_©GSHaile

This post is actually the first time this image has been shown, but it still ranks as one of my favorites from last year.  We were visiting family in Switzerland at the end of the summer and spent a day in St. Gallen, a charming city in the northeast corner of the country.  As we walked past a book store, I was struck by the reflections in the store’s large front window.  I love all the bright colors and the double exposure quality of the image.  To me it is also similar to the way dreams appear.


Incoming Fog_©GSHaile

During that same trip to Switzerland we drove up into the Alps, through several amazing mountain passes where the roads snaked their way up one mountain and down another several times.  As we turned a corner at the top of one of these passes, a beautiful scene presented itself on the opposite shore of this lake.  There was a small village, complete with a little church, that was beautifully highlighted in fog.  In the 30 seconds it took to stop the car, the fog had completely enveloped the village as you see here.  Five minutes later the fog had streamed like a waterfall across the lake and enveloped us as well.

Calm Waters_©GSHaile

For some time, I have been intrigued with long exposure photography.  Instead of the usual fraction of a second that is used to capture an image, with long exposures, you leave the shutter open for anywhere from 10 seconds to hours.  With long exposures, as with the mandalas, I always feel like something is revealed that was always there but we couldn’t see it with our usual way of looking.  This image of Lake Ontario  was one of my first real attempts with this style of photography and I was extremely pleased with the results.  I plan on exploring this technique a great deal more this year.

Tree BArk Mandala 1_©GSHaile

In the first few months of creating mandalas, I enjoyed seeing what patterns emerged from using images of trees in various lighting.  After a while I began to look for other interesting patterns that could yield even more interesting patterns in  mandala form.  I started to look much closer at trees and often found interesting patterns in those details.  The bark of this willow had textures and colors that were very unique and I created several mandalas with it.  While I find this particular mandala very restful due to the soft, warm tones, paradoxically, it is chaotic with all sorts of images within the patterns.  As my friend Beth would say, “look at all the faces!”



Before I began this blog and specifically Mandala Mondays, creating mandalas was usually something I did when I couldn’t sleep or just needed to calm myself for a few minutes at the end of the day.  That is still the case sometimes, but I truly like that Mandala Mondays give me a reason to intentionally sit and create new mandalas each week.   I often make twice the number that you see on a Monday. This one, created with an image of an ice encrusted branch, was probably one of the last ones created in 2012 but is one of my all time favorites.  It reminds me of a crocheted snowflake.  There’s no lofty reason why it pleases me that I can discern.  It just makes me happy.  Sometimes, that can be a good enough reason.


This was an interesting exercise to review and revisit images from last year.  It helps to see where I might be going next.  I have a myriad of ideas about images I’d like to create this year and hopefully ideas that are yet to emerge.  I’ll continue to share as I follow where those ideas lead.

Threads of Thanks


This is the new “child” in my family of fine art note cards called Inner Aperture.  It often feels like these cards call to be born and that was the case with this one yesterday.   I had much on my to do list, but the list sat forlornly on my desk while this card design slowly emerged. You may recognize the mandala from a Mandala Monday a few weeks ago.  I liked the idea of the threads of thanks that continually reached out and multiplied.  I wish for everyone, the world round, many reasons to give thanks and “happiness doubled by wonder”.  Happy Thanksgiving!

 Click on the image to see it larger.  If you’d like to share this with others, please do so by simply sharing the link to this blog page.


Second Wednesday is for Juicy People

It’s the second Wednesday of the month!  Well, it was yesterday but I wanted to share that as my reason for profound gratitude. The second Wednesday of the month is always guaranteed to be one of the best days of the month.  Why?  The second Wednesday of each month is when the Juicy People’s Creativity and Camaraderie Group meets. (I alluded to this in my first Mandala Monday and promised I would explain at some point.)

I probably need to digress just a bit here to explain a bit about the name Juicy People. The name is taken from the works of Hildegard of Bingen, a twelfth century mystic, who “counseled her spiritual directees to be ‘juicy people,’ folks who are so filled with wonder and curiosity, with lusty appetites and high spirits, that they embrace life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness with a burly, grinning bear hug.  To be juicy is to be: a fearlessly joyous optimist, a troublemaker tirelessly afflicting the comfortable, a passionate lover of good talk and tasty food, an anonymous prophet hovering over the cosmological riddle, a frequent violator of the ordinance against indecent exposure of the heart, and a guerilla in the insurrection against Dream Molesters everywhere.” 1     Who wouldn’t want some of that?!

For the past 3 ½ years I have been part of this diverse group of 11 women who gather on that Wednesday to share how they have been creative, how they have fulfilled the directive from Hildegard, over the past month.  It is a fairly simple formula.   The simplicity of the formula belies the depth and profusion of what transpires as a result of this monthly gathering.  At times we have noted the air of sacredness that often hovers around our time together. There also exists a sense of accountability to “do something” each month as well as the excitement and anticipation of having a supportive and encouraging group with whom to share.

We’ve learned that creativity is not just about making art but is about the art of making our lives. 

The list of creative acts is far too long to note here but includes poetry writing, watercolor painting, adventure creating, book writing, trapeze hanging, recipe inventing, self-caring, care-giving, fundraising, print making, laughing, crying, and on and on.  JPCCG is, most definitely, greater than the sum of it’s parts.

Oh, and there’s food!  What started out as a suggestion to bring light snacks or hors d’oeuvres to share has become an amazing eclectic feast each month.  It is always a treat to see the variety of offerings that arrive to feed our bodies as well as our souls with all their flavors and smells and colors and textures.

JP is where I became interested in mandalas and if you’ve been paying attention on Mondays, you have an inkling where that led.  JP’s inspired and pushed me to finally create my Inner Aperture note cards that combine my photography with unusual and inspiring quotes.  JP inspired me in countless ways to work more towards getting my art out into the world.  JP is pretty much the reason I am now comfortable with the title of artist.  JP’s have inspired me to try things that I never would have thought to try or didn’t have the courage or knowledge to try, many of which have nothing to do with a traditional notion of art.  They have encouraged me, cheered me, supported me, mirrored back my best self to me and helped me to live into me.   For that I am grateful beyond measure.

Now, the only problem is I have to wait 27 days for the next second Wednesday of the month and another dose of Juicy People.

Daybreak Within: Living in a Sacred World by Rich Heffern  

The original Juicy People’s Creativity and Camaraderie Group_©GSHaile, Haile Fine Photography

Update: 5/19/2014

We just celebrated our fifth year as a group!  There is now a guide book, The Creativity & Camaraderie Club Handbookwritten by our fearless leader, Mary F. Mathews, that shows how you can create your own creativity group.  Check it out here if this post has made you want a bit of this energy and creativity in your life.