Category Archives: Open to Delight

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.

Open to Delight

Have you been finding moments of delight?  Have you been looking for them?

Delight is often right in front of us but if we aren’t paying attention for it, we miss it altogether.  

It’s been a a busy month and at times, I’ve had to remind myself to pay attention.  Among time with family and grandchildren in May, there were many, many moments of delight.  Those are precious and not as hard to be aware of.  It’s those other times when it needs to be a conscious decision to look for the delight in our lives.

Here are just a few of the moments when delight showed up in my life the past several weeks:

In the spring, before the trees have leafed out fully, and after the sun has shifted to it’s spring position in the evening sky,  we have these light patterns on our living room wall.  It only happens for a month or so in the spring and I always enjoy  it when it shows up.

May Delights 1_©GSHaile

May Delights 1_©GSHaile

Unlike other parts of the world and the US, outdoor restaurant seating is not common here in central NY state.  Most of the year, it’s too cold, too wet, too much work for restaurants to have outdoor seating.  Many don’t bother at any time of the year but a few are willing to take that risk in the warmer months. Did I mention that I LOVE to dine outdoors?  So the appearance of these tables and umbrellas is most delightful when it happens!

May Delights 2_©GSHaile

May Delights 2_©GSHaile

Outdoor dining is one of my greatest delights!

May Delights 3_©GSHaile

May Delights 3_©GSHaile

As the lawn begins to grow in the spring, before it’s seen the blades of the lawnmower, our front lawn is COVERED in violets.  This is about one square foot of our lawn.  The rest was equally and delightfully populated with wild violets.

May Delights 4_©GSHaile

May Delights 4_©GSHaile

You cannot help but smile at the sea of violets.  I recently discovered there are actually practical uses for all those lovely purple blossoms.  Will have to try that next year.

May Delights 5_©GSHaile

May Delights 5_©GSHaile

We spent some time in Switzerland visiting family and being Grandma and Grandpa in May. Lots of delightful moments there!  But we also played tourist one day and took a trip up Mt. Pilatus.  Coming down on the gondola, this lovely little church, Klimsenhorn Chapel, appeared on the back side of the mountain.  It was so unexpected, and that is often a part of the sense of delight.

May Delights 6_©GSHaile

May Delights 6_©GSHaile

Another unexpected delight, was happening upon these two men practicing their Alphorns while we were hiking on the Felsenegg Ridge above Zurich.  Click here to listen to Alphorn music, a decidedly Swiss experience.

May Delights 7_©GSHaile

May Delights 7_©GSHaile

Seeing a blimp, or more correctly in this case a zeppelin, is always a surprise and delight.  This one was floating over the Zurich area to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Edelweiss Air.

May Delights 8_©GSHaile

May Delights 8_©GSHaile

Upon arriving home from our travels, the daffodils were in full bloom all over our yard.  One day as I pulled out of the driveway I noticed that the neighbor children had decorated the fire hydrant sign with daffodils from our yard.  I’ll admit to a brief moment of annoyance but then thought of the delight they had taken in creating this much more cheery sign.

May Delights 09_©GSHaile

May Delights 09_©GSHaile

When you are gone for a few weeks in early May, the grass seems to have exploded into growth when you return.  The lawn desperately needed to be cut but after my husband finished mowing, I went outside and noticed a small clump of flowers that he’d left un-cut under the oak tree.  He knew I would take delight in the way they swayed in the breezes and how pretty they were.  Mostly, the delight came from his gift of knowing  that and leaving them for me.

May Delights 10_©GSHaile

May Delights 10_©GSHaile

I discovered that these volunteers in the yard are part of the Aster family and known as Robin’s Plantain.  Playing with my camera to capture these images offered more delight.

May Delights 11_©GSHaile

May Delights 11_©GSHaile

Those are just a few moments when I found delight in the past weeks.

What have been your moments of delight recently?

Know anyone who would enjoy this post?  Be nice and pass it on to them!  Thanks!

 

 

Blue Indigo and Bokeh

Blue Indigo, aka Blue false indigo, wild indigo, or Baptisia australishas inhabited part of my garden for several years now.  I bought the plant at a garden club sale, only a few green shoots showing above the soil in the pot.  I had a vague notion of what it might look like but was in a “why not?” mood so purchased and gave it a home near the front of the garden.  It took a few years to reach it’s full glory, but glorious it was!  For a week or two in May the 4 foot high, narrow stems are covered in deep blue, almost purple blossoms.  The whole 3 feet in diameter cluster of blue indigo would sway gently in the spring breezes.  It was a brief ( I actually missed it a few years because of traveling) and oh so lovely show.

One thing that gardening over the years has taught me is how much change is a natural part of gardening and life.  

Last Friday was another of those lessons.  We decided to take out the garden that was home to the blue indigo.  Life now holds too many other adventures that take time away from tending gardens. Eliminating one of the gardens would give us more time for those adventures.

While making that decision, I realized I have never photographed the blue indigo.  I wanted to capture just a bit of the beauty that it has shared with me the past several years.

Before photographing any subject, there always needs to be a decision made as to how best to capture that particular subject.

Just putting the camera on automatic, standing back from the subject and snapping the shutter will most likely result in a simple document photograph of the subject.  To capture the character of a subject, the feeling associated with it, more thought needs to be involved.

For the blue indigo, I knew that I wanted to isolate some of the blooms as well as capture the light, airy quality of the plant.  To do that, I decided to use a lens that would give me really nice bokeh.   Briefly defined, bokeh is that soft blurred quality in the background.  It tends to focus your attention more on the subject but also, for me, gives more emotion to the image.  It often reminds me of my favorite art movement, Impressionism.  

For those interested in the technical details of how I photographed the blue indigo, I used a 50mm f1.4 lens and sometimes added a close-up filter  to capture some of the details.

These images truly capture the essence of the blue indigo for me.  

Blue Indigo-1 ©Gail Haile

Blue Indigo-1 ©Gail Haile

Blue Indigo-2 ©Gail Haile

Blue Indigo-2 ©Gail Haile

Blue Indigo-3 ©Gail Haile

Blue Indigo-3 ©Gail Haile

Blue Indigo-4 ©Gail Haile

Blue Indigo-4 ©Gail Haile

Blue Indigo-5 ©Gail Haile

Blue Indigo-5 ©Gail Haile

Blue Indigo-6 ©Gail Haile

Blue Indigo-6 ©Gail Haile

 

Open to Delight

Have you been aware of delight?  Where have you found it recently?  

I wrote about delight, here, at the end of January.  While I haven’t had a chance to write about it since, that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been anything delightful happening.

In addition to the images below, (make sure click on the images to enlarge and to read the captions for details) there were many moments that I couldn’t or didn’t capture a photograph.

It isn’t always about getting the shot but, more importantly, just acknowledging the delight-fullness of that moment in your soul. 

 

If you know anyone who would enjoy seeing my work, I would be delighted if you would share with them.  Thanks!

Windows on Spring

Despite the fact that it’s not a Wednesday, I couldn’t resist posting today because it’s the first day of spring!  In this part of the world, it doesn’t always look like spring for a few weeks yet, but the vernal equinox is a window of hope that warmer, sunnier days are coming.  Spring is my favorite season, with all it’s sense of possibility and potential, so it’s a reason for celebration.

Windows are one of my favorite subjects to photograph.  Windows are endlessly fascinating and full of symbolism.  I pulled some particularly welcoming, spring-like windows from my collection to share with you today and remind you of what is to come.  These windows are all in Switzerland where people take great pleasure in adorning their windows with color and pattern and, most often, flowers.

Happy Spring!

This window and flower box seem to be waiting for spring.   ©Gail Haile_Swiss Windows 1

This window and flower box seem to be just waiting for spring. ©Gail Haile_Swiss Windows 1

©Gail Haile_Swiss Windows 2

Primrose and mini daffodils in lovely pots adorn this city window sill. ©Gail Haile_Swiss Windows 2

©Gail Haile_Swiss Windows 3

Pansies and daffodils are some of the most delightful flowers. ©Gail Haile_Swiss Windows 3

Even with just one small flower pot, this homeowner created a happy window on the world.  ©GSHaile  Swiss-Window-04

Even with just one small flower pot, this homeowner created a happy window on the world. ©GSHaile Swiss-Window-04

Geraniums are by far the preferred choice for flower boxes.  ©GSHaile  Swiss-Window-05

Geraniums are by far the preferred choice for flower boxes. ©GSHaile Swiss-Window-05

©Gail Haile_Swiss Windows 6

©Gail Haile_Swiss Windows 6

Such a happy shade of blue!  They even included coordinating Lobelia in their boxes. ©Gail Haile_Swiss Windows 7

Such a happy shade of blue! They even included coordinating Lobelia in their boxes. ©Gail Haile_Swiss Windows 7

Even the trim on this window looks like a series of smiles. ©GSHaile  Swiss-Window-08

Even the trim on this window looks like a series of smiles. ©GSHaile Swiss-Window-08

More geraniums!  ©Gail Haile_Swiss Windows 9

More geraniums! ©Gail Haile_Swiss Windows 9

Even this old farmhouse had it's bit of flowers.  ©GSHaile  Swiss-Window-10

Even this old farmhouse had it’s bit of flowers. ©GSHaile Swiss-Window-10

Shadows in the Snow

Snow, snow, and more snow!  We’ve had a LOT of snow this year.  We’ve actually had a lot of sun as well which is unusual. The combination of the two has been intriguing as I watched all the shadows created on the blank canvas of the snow.  I don’t usually venture out much in the snow but these abstract shadows were just so intriguing.  So I put my high boots on and tromped about in knee high snow to capture just a few of them.

©Gail Haile_Snow Shadows 1   Click on image to enlarge.

©Gail Haile_Snow Shadows 1 Click on image to enlarge.

©Gail Haile_Snow Shadows 5   Click on image to enlarge.

©Gail Haile_Snow Shadows 5 Click on image to enlarge.

©Gail Haile_Snow Shadows 4   Click on image to enlarge.

©Gail Haile_Snow Shadows 4 Click on image to enlarge.

©Gail Haile_Snow Shadows 3   Click on image to enlarge.

©Gail Haile_Snow Shadows 3 Click on image to enlarge.

©Gail Haile_Snow Shadows 2  Click on image to enlarge.

©Gail Haile_Snow Shadows 2 Click on image to enlarge.

 

Open to Delight


What is delight? This is something I’ve been pondering for a while.

Delight is the foundation of much of my work. I try to portray aspects of our world in ways that make one stop and, with a sense of happy surprise or an “oh, I never saw it that way” feeling, see in a new way.  There’s often an element of joy and surprise with delight.  Delight has a way of waking you up both mentally and spiritually.

Delight is an attitude, an expectant, active way of seeing and being in the world. The cool thing is, delight exists more if we are looking for or expecting it. Delight is, in large part, a choice. Delight can be given, it can be received. It is smaller, yet at the same time, bigger than happiness. Delight is hopeful.

I confess I have a history with the word delight.  As a child, my mother always told me that my name, Gail, meant “source of delight”.  To be told that as a child, instilled in me the belief in the existence of delight and my capacity to both offer and receive it.  When I was in my twenties, my mother gave me this tiny sculpture of a girl jumping rope. She said that it represented the delight that she saw in me as a child.  It still sits on my kitchen windowsill as a reminder to never lose that attitude.

Open to Delight ©Gail S. Haile

Being open to delight doesn’t make you a Pollyanna, excessively or blindly optimisticIt simply means that we tend to see what we expect or what we are looking for.  The world is only too eager to share sad and terrible things so there’s little chance of  being unaware of them.   Being open to delight can, at the very least, provide balance.

Towards the end of each month this year, I will list a few things, in words as well as pictures, that have brought me delight in the previous few weeks.  It would be fun, as well, if you would leave comments describing how you have been open to delight.

A few of the things on my list of delights for January include:

  • Spotting a brilliant crimson cardinal on a snow covered branch on my way to the gym on a brutally cold morning.

  • Recognizing the handwriting on an envelope in the mail basket as that of  an dear friend with whom I’d lost touch.

  • Seeing swirly frost patterns on the bedroom window with morning light streaming through them.

  • Playing with a fun new lens.  

  • Watching the goldfinches return to our bird feeder.

  • Hearing my husband’s laugh.

  • And in these images of delight (click on the images to enlarge them):

 

How have you experienced delight lately?