Tag Archives: Clouds

Seneca Lake Colors

Seneca Lake is one of the largest of the 13 Finger Lakes in New York state.  (Look at a map of NY and you’ll see why the group of lakes is so named.)  I spent last week on the shores of Seneca Lake at Hobart and William Smith Colleges.  Most of my time, however, was spent inside a classroom learning how to paint digitally using Corel Painter.  (I’ll talk more about that wonderful class another time.)

It’s a good thing that I love working with Painter so much, because spending beautiful upstate NY July days indoors when I was 100 yards from a lake would not be my normal choice.  But in the evenings, I took the time to get closer to the water and enjoy the summer breezes, the activity of the boats and the fishermen (and women) and the colors and light of the lake and to just play with my camera.

What are you doing to soak up  these summer days?


Wispy clouds brush the sky with color over Seneca Lake  in the NY Finger Lakes.  Seneca Lake Colors 1 _©GSHaile

Wispy clouds brush the sky with color over Seneca Lake in the NY Finger Lakes. Seneca Lake Colors 1 _©GSHaile

Reflections of sailboats lit up by the setting sun.  Seneca Lake Colors 2 _©GSHaile

Reflections of sailboats lit up by the setting sun. Seneca Lake Colors 2 _©GSHaile

What a difference a few minutes makes.  Light changes rapidly at this time of day.  Seneca Lake Colors 3 _©GSHaile

What a difference a few minutes makes. Light changes rapidly at this time of day. Seneca Lake Colors 3 _©GSHaile

Loved the shapes and colors of these lily pads as well as the clouds reflected in the water.  Seneca Lake Colors 4 _©GSHaile

Loved the shapes and colors of these lily pads as well as the clouds reflected in the water. Seneca Lake Colors 4 _©GSHaile

Light dances from the lake onto this colorful picnic table.  Seneca Lake Colors 5_©GailSHaile

Light dances from the lake onto this colorful picnic table. Seneca Lake Colors 5_©GailSHaile

Hanging like the Clouds

Sometimes you just need to stop and hang for a while.

As an artist, never mind that, as anyone, there are ebbs and flows to our energy and our creativity.  I’ve learned over the years to not get overly anxious about times when the motivation seems thin.  It will pass.  Looking back, those quiet times have  often just been incubation periods for something new.

While out walking, I was looking up at the evening sky and the clouds and was reminded of a series of images I took several months ago with the intention of creating a cloud panoramic.  I found those images and created this scene that I had in mind when I shot those images.  It’s a very peaceful image to me and reminds me of the wisdom of just hanging out like the clouds sometimes.

Cloudscape   ©GSHaile

Cloudscape ©GSHaile Click to Enlarge

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.


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.

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.

Winter Sky: Mandala Monday 12-10-12

Life has been happily busy lately and creative time with my camera has been at a minimum. That is pretty normal for this time of year when I’m finishing up piles of orders as well as making sure there are enough of my cards and prints stocked at the Artisans’ Corner, an artists’ cooperative that I’ve been part of since we opened 2 years ago.

Consequently, when I was thinking about images to use for this week’s mandalas, I just looked back through my archives to find interesting images from past winters.  “Winter Sky” was taken a few years ago, a couple of mornings after Christmas when it had uncharacteristically warmed up and the snow had melted, creating a very foggy morning.  At this point most of the fog had lifted and the sun washed the landscape in golden hues.

In the past, I’ve tried creating mandalas from cloud images and have not usually been pleased with the results.  The mandalas were just a big blob of grey mostly, with no interesting patterns revealed. So I wasn’t expecting these mandalas that appeared from Winter Sky.  I think, perhaps, the way the clouds are lit, creating greater contrast between the clouds and the sky, is part of the reason for that.  This has given me a few new ideas about how to best use clouds for mandalas.  Love new ideas!