Tag Archives: Block Island

Reflections: Works in Progress

Today’s post begins a new category of blog posts, Works in Progress.  I’ll share bits of what I’m working on so you might see how it develops.

For some time now, I have been fascinated with reflections.  Colors can be stretched and morphed to beyond their true being.  Light and color shift shape and size depending on your point of view, becoming something new, creating something different.  Even without my camera in hand, I’m always watching and noticing reflections and being intrigued with the abstractions that are created.  With camera in hand, I’ve spent hours recording the ever changing colors reflected in a harbor’s waters at sunset or the city reflected in a highly polished floor.

I’ve been pondering why I am so drawn to these ephemeral visions.  They are transitory, fleeting beings.  When I photograph them, it occurs to me to wonder what I am actually photographing.  It doesn’t actually exist, it’s not a physical thing.  It only exists because I notice it and if I record it as an image, is it then a “thing” ?

I’m still working out what makes reflections so interesting to me but a few weeks ago, as we were driving home from dinner in a downpour that turned to snow by the time we arrived home, I was mesmerized by all the reflections on the dark, wet pavement. I took some time to write about them that night.

A few of my rambling thoughts:

Is my interest because reflections, in their ephemeral nature, reflect the nature of life?  Moments of our lives are like those reflections, fleeting, snatches of times, gone too quickly without our control. They can change quickly depending on our perspective. those small, fleeting moments can hold such beauty if we are open to seeing it.  How we view them, our attitude, filters the scene and our memory of it.

An interesting thing happened that rainy night as the rain turned to snow.  The roads no longer reflected the colors and shapes.  As the slush covered the road, the vivid  colors, the distinct shapes, were muted or gone altogether.  What is the “slush” in our lives that causes us to not see and hold these fleeting moments with all the beauty they hold?

All food for thought.  It’s a work in progress.

Just a few of the many reflected moments that I’ve captured so far:




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.


Gifts: Mandala Monday 10/14/2013

It’s been a less than peaceful Sunday afternoon.  We were away visiting family for the weekend and I came home knowing that I had about an hour’s worth of work I needed to get done for Monday.  All easy stuff.  Except that while I was away, the tech gremlins descended upon my office and wreaked havoc.  Nothing worked as it should when I rebooted my computer.  Hard drives seemed to have disappeared, keyboard wouldn’t work, random windows would spontaneously open.  Thus my “quick hour” of work turned into 5 or more frustrating hours of trying to sort things out.  Well, they are semi- sorted out enough that I am hopeful I can accomplish what I need to tomorrow.

The thing is, I always schedule my Monday post to publish at midnight so that you are all welcomed to Monday morning with some mandalas.  Even though the mandalas were created the other day, I hadn’t written the post yet.  At the moment though, I don’t feel like I have the brain power to write much interesting about those mandalas but I don’t want to miss being a bright spot in your Monday mornings.

Then  I remembered my delight when I discovered this stone mandala that someone had created on a beach where I spent 3 solitary hours exploring while on Block Island.  What a gift that was when I found it and a gift today to be able to easily share with you without any deep thought.  Well maybe just a little.  Just the thought that we are given many gifts each day and how often do we recognize them as such? And how often do we send gifts out into the world, as this mandala creator did, never knowing just how they may touch someone else?

Gift mandala_©GSHaile

Reflections of Play: Mandala Monday 10/7/2013

This past Friday I told a little about my retreat time on Block Island  and how I had to be reminded to play.  These mandalas are the result of some of that play.  A couple of evenings, I didn’t feel like photographing the sunset specifically though the light at that time drew me.  I often feel like sunsets are over photographed.  Yes, they are beautiful but I personally would rather just experience them and photograph something else.  What I did do was head to the harbor and not only enjoy the sunset but watch the light dance and play on the water as well as on all the boats and structures around the harbor.  When the sun is low to the horizon like that it bounces off everything and creates all these amazing colored patterns on the water, patterns that don’t really exist in a way.  They are there for a split second, IF someone is noticing, and then they are gone.   They fascinate me for not only their abstract beauty but for that elusiveness.   It was a bit like chasing butterflies or bubbles.  So 400 plus reflection images would say that I was truly playing, I guess. 🙂

These mandalas started with just one of those images.  I couldn’t resist discovering the types of patterns that an abstract design would create.

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.

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.