Category Archives: Sharing

Sharing Inspiration: Filling the Well

The new year, for most of us, is  a time of reflection and reordering of life, priorities, and focus. (I often wonder if it’s different in the southern hemisphere where the New Year comes in the summer.  Does it change that dynamic of newness?)  This blog has been the subject of some of that reflection and as a result will have more  varied posts for you to enjoy. Mandalas will still come one Monday of the month, but other Mondays will hold different themes.  A new theme, “Filling the Well”, shares what’s been inspiring me lately. (more…)

Beach Glass: Mandala Monday

One of the things that I enjoy about creating mandalas is that they always seem to be more than the sum of their parts.  Today’s mandala is a wonderful example of that on so many levels.  A friend came to me with this idea a few weeks before Christmas.  For many years she had shared special time at the beach with friends.  Each year they would sift through the surf for bits and pieces of glass, remnants of other people’s time near the ocean.  This collection of sea glass had grown and represented all their memories and the bits and pieces of time and connections that held their friendship together.  She asked if I could make a mandala from an image of some of the sea glass.  Her friend arranged and photographed the glass and sent her the image.  She and I sat down and started playing with the image and creating mandalas.  We made about five before this one that finally seemed to hold the energy that she felt about the glass and all it represented.  I remembered that I had some images of sand, so we pulled those up and placed the mandala on the sand, returning the glass, in a manner, to the beach where they had found it.  But it was now something new, something more.

Our lives are made up of seemingly random bits and pieces but the patterns that those bits and pieces create can be beautiful if we allow ourselves to see.

I wish for all a New Year filled with a sense of wonder and appreciation for those ordinary moments, the bits and pieces, the connections that make up our lives.

Fourth Friday: Slow Sunsets

I’m still processing, literally and figuratively, all my images from Block Island.  On this final Friday of the month I’d thought I’d share a few sunset images.  Who doesn’t like a good sunset?  Everyone loves them and photographs them to the point that I’ve been known, in my snippier moments,  to say that I don’t photograph sunsets.  But here I was in this glorious place with the ocean and the wide open spaces, so why not spend at least one evening trying to capture that magic?  Oh what an evening this was!  Most of the week that I was on Block Island was completely void of clouds, nothing but pure blue wide open skies.  That’s nice but doesn’t make for very interesting images of sunsets, necessarily.  It good to have something for the light and color to bounce off.  Finally on the 6th day, we had clouds.  So I headed to the old Coast Guard Station at the end of Champlin Rd.  Then I hiked all the way out to the end of the point that is the entrance to the Great Salt Pond and around  to the beach that overlooks the Block Island Sound, the space of ocean between Block Island and the Connecticut coast.  (if you’re interested you can see it on the map here. I was in the yellow area)  I only saw one person and his 2 dogs for the 2 hours that I spent on that beach.  So peaceful!

I wanted to somehow capture the magic of the sunset but in a way that caused one to see it somehow differently.  Being around the water was a perfect opportunity to practice my long exposures so I figured I’d see what that did for sunsets.

This first image was captured about a half hour before sunset.  You can see that the sun is still up in the clouds but it was starting to create come interesting colors.  This was a 50 second exposure which shows in the smoothness of the water and the movement of the clouds.   Waves were crashing on the beach, but over 50 seconds they get smoothed over and you no longer see them.  That tended to exaggerate the colors in the water.


This image was taken just a bit past actual sunset with 58 seconds of exposure.  That means the shutter was open for almost a minute, letting light in all that time and recording the movement of the water and clouds.  I like the way the light reflects off the water where it hits the beach, that one strip of golden light against the dark blue of the water and darker blue of the beach.



This was taken almost 10 minutes later, well past actual sunset.  It is a long exposure of a different kind.  I call this a “swoosh”.  The exposure time is 1/4 of a second, far less than the previous two that were closer to a minute long.  One quarter of a second sounds pretty fast but in photography, with anything slower than about 1/6oth of a second or faster any sort of movement can cause the image to be out of focus and blurred.  That’s not always good, unless that is what you want.  I love to shoot this kind of image.  It seems like pure play.  It takes a bit of practice to get it to create anything pleasing but it’s great fun.  I put the camera on a slower shutter speed, hand hold it, and purposely move it during that 1/4 of a second or whatever the exposure is.  In this case, I knew I wanted to exaggerate the lines of the beach and horizon, so as I pressed the shutter I also moved the camera along those lines, like a swoosh.  It’s a bit more abstract, but I tend to like that.

BI_0983sq bordered_©GSHaile

How can slowing down help you to see things differently?

I have lots more to share from Block Island and other adventures but that’s all for today.


First Friday: Work is not always required

Normally I’ve been doing a post on the last Friday of the month to share some of the things I’ve been working on during the previous month.  Since last week I was on an island with limited and spotty internet service, I decided to postpone until this week. I could have written and scheduled a post before I left on the trip but I knew my time there would be a major part of September’s work.

The following  two quotes made themselves known  to me while I was on a week’s retreat with only me and my camera and they sort of sum up the whole experience.

“Work is not always required. There is such a thing as sacred idleness.”
George MacDonald

“Creativity is play, but learning to play can be hard work.”  Julia Cameron

Yes, I spent a whole week alone in a cottage and on the beaches, and on the rocks and the back roads (they’re ALL back roads) on Block Island, Rhode Island.  I have a great deal to process, literally and figuratively.  Over 1500 images will be source material for many months, if not years.  And some of my reactions to having that much unscheduled time were enlightening and will be food for thought for a lifetime.

My first full day there dawned with heavy rain so I tried to enjoy the calm but was anxious to get out and shoot.  By mid-morning, the rain had cleared so I headed to the north point of the island where there is a very picturesque beach and lighthouse.  The light was still rather grey and flat and I seemed all thumbs when it came to doing the long exposures that I had planned.  Nothing seemed to be working and I was frustrated.  After an hour or more, I left that location and headed to another part of the island but nothing particularly inspired me.  I went back to the cottage and did some planning and research for other locations, downloaded my images from the morning, and, typical of my first look at images, decided they were all crap.  I tried this and that but couldn’t shake a vague sense of anxiousness.  It went that way till about midday Monday when it dawned on me that I was feeling pressure to “produce”.  The blood of my puritan ancestors runs deep at times. One must be productive, have something worthwhile to show for your time.  What is productive and what is worthwhile? I realized that I felt this need, this responsibility to create something amazing that was “worthy” of having spent the time and money on this retreat.  This was different than going to a week-long class taught by a BNF (big name in the field).  Then I was “getting” something concrete for my money and time but how would/could that be true for this week?  WOW, what a load of crap!

I mentioned this to Katy, our daughter-in-law, when  I happened to speak with her and she replied quickly and easily and wisely, “I thought this was for fun.”

A couple of days later I came across MacDonald’s  quote in a tiny little book of quotes that I picked up in the island book store, “Work is not always required. There is such a thing as sacred idleness.”  That was  after  I’d mostly rid myself of the pressure to produce, but it still resonated and I don’t think I will ever forget that beautiful phrase, “sacred idleness”.

Julia Cameron’s message came to me in an equally random but seemingly purposeful way during the week also, “Creativity is play, but learning to play can be hard work

Why is it that we don’t know how, or resist, play so much?!  When I am not anxious about producing, my work is actually play to me and I often do some of my best creations.

In the end, I definitely got the message and came home filled with peace and calm in addition to some really cool, playful new images.

So… many more words than you are accustomed to from me.  How, in your life, do you resist play and sacred idleness?

For now I will share just 4 images from the week.  Three are of the interior of the cottage where I stayed.  Right there in front of me was all this light, and texture, and peace.  And the final one is one that I took that first morning at the North Lighthouse when I thought everything I was doing was just crap.  We have to watch what we say to ourselves, but that’s a thought for another post. 🙂

Find at least a few moments of “sacred idleness” this week.

Fifth Friday: 8/30/2013

Welcome to the end of August.  Like me, you probably are stunned that we’ve come to the end of what we think of as summer.  How did that go by so quickly?!

On the last Friday of each month I’ve been sharing a bit of what I’ve been doing creatively the past month.  For your visual enjoyment, I offer a sampling of August’s images.


I really enjoy creating images of people’s homes, camps, even businesses.  We spend much of our time and create many of our memories in these places, so it’s very meaningful  to have a formal “portrait” of them. This is a camp in the Adirondacks that has witnessed a great deal of this family’s special moments, both the ordinary and the extraordinary.

Lake Bonaparte Cabin_2012

Lake Bonaparte Cabin_©GSHaile


Much of my time this month has been spent in the studio capturing the bounty of the flowers that we are blessed with in the summer.  I have thousands of images that I can work on during the cold, grey days to come.  I have, though, worked up a few of them and these are a couple of my favorites.

Purple Coneflower 1_©GSHaile

Purple Coneflower 1_©GSHaile


Purple coneflower 2_©GSHaile

Purple coneflower 2_©GSHaile


For two days, I had the pleasure of working (playing) with my daughter-in-law, Katy, sharing some of my knowledge of photography.  One of the days, we headed out on the back roads to do some long exposures and panoramic images. This panoramic scene from the farmland near Augusta, NY begins to capture the beauty that I have come to love about central NY state.

Summer Fields_AugustaNY_©GSHaile

Summer Fields_AugustaNY_©GSHaile


One of the techniques I’ve been working with is exposure blending and this is an example of that process.  It is a layering and merging of 5 different exposures, choosing by hand, which parts of each exposure will be part of the final image.

Queen Anne's Lace_©GSHaile

Queen Anne’s Lace_©GSHaile


And finally, this lovely aspiring actress with whom I spent a very creative couple of hours in the studio.  I love working with actors and dancers, as they are so comfortable in front of the camera and come with their own set of ideas so that the session is a very collaborative time.

Never See Me Fall from Grace_©GSHaile

Never See Me Fall from Grace_©GSHaile

September is already filled with many creative possibilities.  The Class of 2014 has begun coming in for their senior portraits and I love how they fill the studio with their special energy. I have a few special projects and excursions planned.  I hope your September holds the process of good energy and possibilities.

Fourth Friday 6/28/2013

Last month, I started a new series of blog posts that I called Final Friday.  The idea was that I would share a few or several images from the past month as a way of showing you what sorts of things I was working on. I liked the idea but decided it needed a better name.  Final Friday just sounds so, well, final.  But alliteration is so catchy.  Today I realized, though,  that the final Friday of each month is either the  fourth Friday or the fifth Friday.  So, problem solved.  🙂

I’ve chosen five images for this Fourth Friday post that represent the two main subjects that I was photographing this month, Block Island and roses.

Block Island

Block Island is the smaller and  lesser known island of the group that runs from West to East with Long Island, then Block Island , then Martha’s Vineyard, and finally Nantucket.  It’s part of  and directly south of the mainland portion of Rhode Island.  Words utterly fail me when I try to describe the beauty and spirit of this island.

Being surrounded by water, it was the perfect time to try some more long exposure images.   (I’ve talked about long exposure photography in 2 previous posts, Slowing Down and Do what you Cannot Do . )  We hit every beach on the island but this is Clay Head Beach which requires a hike in to.  It’s so very worth the hike!


Clay Head Beach_Block Island_©GSHaile



This scene in on Champlin Road, a long dirt road that we were taking down to yet another beach.  The red and gold grasses on the far side of the water were undulating in the wind and truly appeared as waves.  I tried this scene as a long exposure but it didn’t have the right feel.  This image is actually a panoramic that combines about 6 different images to capture the full scope of this view of one of the old farms on the island.


Champlin Road Block Island_©GSHaile


There are 2 lighthouses on Block Island.  The Southeast Lighthouse was offering tours that weekend so we gladly made our donations for the privilege of climbing these stairs to the top where we were treated with a wonderful bird’s eye view of the island.  I was really struck by the graphic nature of the steps and their shadow against the old brick.


Lighthouse Steps_©GSHaile




I’ve  been taking more time to do one of my favorite types of photography, flowers in the studio.  In taking flowers out of their natural environment and isolating them, it seems to bring more attention to their beauty.  They become a series of lines and shapes and colors and we can appreciate them in a new way.  I have some new equipment that makes even more things possible so I’ve been experimenting a great deal.

A fellow artist brought me these roses from her garden.  In this first image the rose is placed on a lightbox and photographed so that the light is coming through. It’s actually a composite of 5 images, each one a different exposure.  The five images are stacked in Photoshop and blended by hand painting in the areas of light and dark.


Yellow Rose_©GSHaile


One of the new pieces of equipment I have is a telephoto macro lens, designed to focus close up.  This is one of my favorites from experimenting with the new lens.  I also painted it a bit with a customized effect in Alien Skin’s  Snap Art.  Snap Art is another thing I have been playing with lately, going beyond the automatic settings to achieve my own effects.


Yellow Rose 2_©GSHaile


Hope you’ve had a good month.  Let me know how you’ve been creating and experimenting.

Final Fridays: 5/31/2013

I work much better on things like blogs when there is some structure.  Lately, I’ve realized that my posts have become only about mandalas and an occasional blog circle post.  There is much more to my photography than mandalas, though.  So, I thought that I would start a new regular post (add some self-imposed structure) on the final Friday of each month.  I’ll choose 2, or 3, or 4, or more  images from the month that give you an idea of what other types of work I have been doing.   There won’t usually be a lot of explanation, just images for you to enjoy.  These three were all taken while I was in Switzerland.  So enjoy May’s offerings and have a great weekend!


Apartment Geometry_©GSHaile


White Poppy_©GSHaile



April Blog Circle: Favorite Quotes

It’s blog circle time again, when I link up with creative women and their blogs from all over the world.  This month we are all writing about out favorite quotes.  Should be interesting!  At the end of this post follow the link to the next blog in the circle.

Anyone who knows me, would know that asking me to choose a favorite quote is a tall order.  I’ve been collecting quotes for as long as I can remember.  A Kahlil Gibran book that was given to me for high school graduation, traveled to college with me and now sits on a bookshelf overflowing with 3×5 index cards with quotes typed on them.  There’s a a red journal from the 90’s in which  I carefully hand wrote quotes that crossed my path and I wanted to remember.   As the computer and the internet became a larger and larger part of mine and everyone’s life, collecting quotes became even easier.  As long as I’ve had a computer, I’ve had a folder with documents full of quotes that I’ve stumbled upon in my reading or travels.  Right now, there are five separate folders labeled “Quotes” on my computer(no idea why there’s 5) and quote documents labeled motivational, peace, photo, birthday, graduation, garden, light, heart, number, now, grandparents, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010,  and one giant, ever expanding, 26 page document  named “quotes for cards” that I’ve been dumping most quotes into the past 2 years to possibly use for my Inner Aperture note cards.  (Clearly I need to do some organizing and purging here. )

To name a favorite quote, I would probably say it would depend on the topic.  But that  is the challenge for this month’s blog circle…What is your favorite quote? I’m still going to “cheat” a bit and pick two.

The first quote, I include because it pretty much sums up my philosophy of  life:

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” – Ursula K. Le Guin

My kids and husband would tell you that I’ve always said it’s about the journey, not just the destination.  That applied and still does to day to day life as well as the grand themes in life.  Going on family vacations was just as much about the route we traveled to and from and what we would do and see along the way as it was about the place we were headed.  It’s not surprising that one of the first Inner Aperture cards I designed included that quote.


The Journey Matters



The second quote I’ve chosen is one that is my constant thought as an artist and photographer but it is important for everyone:

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” – Marcel Proust

More than ever, we are inundated with images of our world.  We can get immune to what’s around us because we think we’ve seen it all before.  We run the risk of getting to a place where nothing surprises or delights us any more.  We see a place or a person, and think, oh yeah, I know this.  What I strive to do as an artist and photographer is capture subjects in ways we haven’t seen or noticed before and in so doing show others what else there is to see and experience if you just see with “new eyes”.

I’ve had the pleasure of traveling to Switzerland quite a bit since we have family living there. I love to photograph that beautiful country. Two things could come into play if I didn’t constantly remember Proust’s words.  First there is no limit to the amazing grand images of Switzerland and secondly, having been there quite a few times, it might be easy to think I (or someone else ) have already captured all there is.  So given those two things, why bother?  Because there is so much more if we just see with “new eyes” and that applies wherever you are.

I don’t have a card with Proust’s words on it (hmm, perhaps I need to remedy that) but I thought I would share with you something I created on one of my first trips to Zurich, The Swiss Alphabet.  It was a really fun exercise in slowing down and paying attention to details that normally would be overlooked, seeing with those “new eyes”.

As you go about your days, working, playing, traveling, interacting with people, be it family, friends, or strangers, try to remember Proust’s words and  have “new eyes”.


To continue around the blog circle head over to the Pacific Northwest in the USA with Debi Minter,  a mixed media artist :

Good Overwhelms

Today I am joining a blog circle comprised of some amazing, creative women from all over the world.  In deference to February, we have chosen the topic of Love.  Each blog post will be thoughts and musings on that same topic, each from the perspective of a different creative soul.  How’s that for an uplifting way to spend a bit of time… traveling across the globe reading about love?

Love is a pretty huge topic to tackle in so many ways.  My thoughts are always more visual than verbal so I decided to express an aspect of love in that way.  You may know that I have a collection of Inner Aperture note cards that feature carefully selected quotes and images whose purpose is to inspire, strengthen, uplift, center the receiver.   For this post, I have designed a new Inner Aperture card that expresses my philosophy on our ability to share our love with the world.  I’ve always felt that what we do day to day, minute by minute, right in our immediate surroundings with the people who are part of those moments has great potential to make a difference in the world.  If each person were to slow down and do good, share love, right where they are, the world would, indeed, be a better place.  Large acts of love, yes, are important but  too often we dismiss and grossly undervalue how much a kind word, a smile, a gentle touch, can make a difference to someone.

I chose to use this Lichen Mandala that I created a few weeks ago for Mandala Monday because it portrays a very ordinary, everyday thing, lichens on a tree.  They are quite common and ordinary but exquisitely beautiful when you really look at the colors and the patterns.  When transformed into a mandala, that beauty is multiplied and spreads off the edge of the mandala.  It seemed the perfect mandala, along with the wonderful quote from Desmond Tutu, to express how significant and, yet, so simple it can be for us to share our love with the world.


Good Overwhelms_©GSHaile

To continue the blog circle, head over to Jean Wagner’s blog , A Change of Art.

Enjoy your blog travels around the world and surround yourself and those around you with love!


Here’s the entire circle in case you get sidetracked. 🙂

1. Becky Cavender

2. Amy Riddle

3. Karrlin Bain

4. Naz Laila

5. Debi Minter

6. Chandra Merod

7. Nancy Lennon

8. Laly Mille –

9. Kathie Gadd

10. Gail Haile

11. Jean Wagner



Non-Mandala Monday 12-17-12

If you’ve been anticipating today and the usual mandalas, I apologize. Given the tragic shooting that occurred on Friday in Connecticut  I haven’t been particularly inspired to create any mandalas or even dig out any old ones. It somehow felt inappropriate or inadequate.  I can only offer this image and quote which is the front of one of my note cards and the sentiment that I kept thinking about all weekend, from the very wise Mr. Rogers, “There are times when explanations, no matter how reasonable, just don’t seem to help.”

Explanations Don't Help