Tag Archives: Lake Ontario


We spent some time at the beach a few weeks ago.  I wanted to capture some more long exposure images of water.    When I’m doing long exposures there’s a lot of time waiting around, so I took my handy Canon G16, a great little point and shoot camera, and walked around capturing other things while my “big” camera was working.

One of the things that captured my eye was the debris that was just outside of the sand dune fences.  There was an wide assortment of bits and pieces and the patterns they made were interesting.  I had an inkling that they might create interesting mandalas as well.

Beach Debris ©GSHaile

Beach Debris ©GSHaile

It’s so interesting to think that these lovely patterns came from a bunch of beach debris.  


Please share!  It really helps! Thanks

Curly leaves: Mandala Monday 11-25-2013

The source image for today’s mandalas was a scene found on the stone strewn beach of Lake Ontario when I was there in September.  The entire scene was less than 3″ square, so it’s a bit amazing that I even noticed it along this mile long beach filled with stones of all sizes.  Something about the leaves curled up in the shelter of those stones, and the contrast of the dark brown curl against the white stone caught my attention.  What was even more amazing was few minutes later and a few hundred yards down the beach when my friend said, “There’s this perfectly curled brown leaf against a white stone over there that I want to show you.”

I love this image just as it is, a perfectly composed still life but I thought it would be interesting to see what patterns were hidden within.  As always, there were, indeed, some interesting and lovely patterns to reveal.


Birch Leaf: Mandala Monday 9/30/2013

So did you guess what the mandalas were created from last week?  The first image in today’s gallery was the source image of an apple that was used for  those mandalas.  That wasn’t too hard was it?

One last image from my Lake Ontario weekend  was used for today’s mandalas, and I won’t make it a mystery this time. 🙂

This birch leaf was perched on the ever present rock ledges along the shore and the tones of the green and grey as well as  the multiple textures in both the leaf and the rock appealed to me.  Those qualities did, indeed, make for some interesting patterns.  What do you see in these mandalas?


Just a note…perhaps you noticed that I did not have a Fourth Friday post this past week.  That is because I was away for the week on a retreat.  Not only was I busy “playing” (almost 1400 images!) but there was very limited internet access so posting would have been difficult.  I thought I would wait and post just a few of those 1400 at the end of this week.  We’ll make it First Friday this time, so you can look forward to that. 🙂

Have a great week!

Mystery solved and a new one: Mandala Monday 9/22/2013

Last week’s mandalas were a bit of a mystery to most people.  No one, that I know of, was able to determine what the source image was for those sumptuous red mandalas.  Well, the first image in today’s gallery is the closeup image of a red onion that I used,  a most ordinary thing that revealed some quite interesting patterns and colors.

Today’s mandalas are also red, though a very different red from the onion, with some other colors mixed in.  The source image for these was also taken during that 3 hour session on the porch with ordinary objects from the kitchen.   Any ideas what it is?  Leave your guesses in the comments section below.

Take time to see ordinary objects in a new light and appreciate their marvel ous-ness.  Have a great week!


Mystery? Or not? : Mandala Monday 9/16/2013

If you’ve been following for any time here, you know that I see beauty in the ordinary.  Today’s mandalas are such a perfect example of that.

I spent last weekend with two other photographers at a cabin on Lake Ontario.  I never fail to be amazed by the exponential power of creativity when you have a group of 2 or more creative people.   The entire weekend was a feast of ideas and learning for all of us, and the best part was that it felt so very much like play.  One day was particularly overcast and the light, it seemed, was rather flat.  We weren’t particularly inspired to head outside at this moment.  Spontaneously and somewhat randomly we started grabbing things on the kitchen counter that were awaiting being transformed into some delectable meal (the other creative part of the weekend) and headed out on the screened porch.  The  porch roof created some direction to the soft light and we spent almost three hours playing and photographing all sorts of ordinary objects in un-ordinary ways.  So much fun!

So, these mandalas started from an image of a most ordinary item but they are anything but ordinary to me.  I just love the rich color and all the texture.  Can you tell what the source image was?  Is it a mystery? or not?

I promise I’ll share the source image next week, just in case you can’t figure it out. 🙂



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.

Mandala Monday 11-19-12

Recently, I have been giving one-on-one instruction in Photoshop and Photoshop Elements.  I like doing the individual lessons as it allows people to learn exactly what they want to and go on from there. Photoshop is such a vast program that sometimes it is easier to start with a specific goal in mind.

The student I had last week is actually a friend as well as a member of the Creativity Group that I belong to and wrote about last week. She was the inspiration for me to originally play with Mandalas.  She was always showing us her notebook where she would draw a mandala each day.  Ever since I figured out how to do them in Photoshop , she has wanted to be able to create them digitally also.  She bought Photoshop Elements for the express purpose of learning to make mandalas.

We had a couple of lessons where we went over some very basic computer/photoshop stuff but before  she came last week I decided it was time to just dive in and have her create a mandala.  There are a couple of different methods that I use, one uses pie shaped wedges taken from the source image and another uses a square section of the source image.  They each yield very different results.  Early on, I focused more on the Wedge technique because of the kinds of images I was using, mostly trees, and what I had in mind for the result. It’s quite similar to making a kaleidoscope.  I hadn’t played with the square version in quite a while (I call it  Twist and Flip as that is what you do with the multiple squares and layers that you create with the source image). When I thought about which method would be the easiest to understand and to implement quickly with a limited knowledge of Photoshop, the Twist and Flip method was the choice.  In learning how to do that, she would learn about 3 or 4 different tools, learn about layers and blending modes, and get a basic understanding of how Photoshop Elements works.  Way more fun than simply going over the tools and menus one by one!  Within an hour she had created a beautiful mandala and understood the possibilities for variations.  On her own, over the next week, she created several more and was learning what types of images yielded the best mandalas for her.  I can’t wait for her next lesson!

As a result of getting ready for her lesson I rediscovered this method that I had neglected for quite some time.  I’ve been having so much fun playing with it again and discovering what sorts of mandalas result from various types of images.  With both the Wedge and the Twist and Flip method though, there is only so much you can predict or anticipate with regards to the resulting mandala.  That is much of what I love about creating them, that sense of wonder and surprise upon discovering something that was seemingly there all along but unseen.

One of the source images you may remember from the third Mandala Monday.  Using the Twist and Flip method with this image yielded completely different mandalas than those from the previous post that were created with the Wedge method. In the gallery, every 2 mandalas are followed by the source image from which they were created.

I hope this Monday brings you welcome surprises like these mandalas did for me!  Enjoy!


Mandala Monday 3

When I first started creating mandalas I used whatever images I had in my library.  I didn’t always like the first attempts but it was helping me learn the process.  After a while I could see what types of images yielded interesting mandalas (for me) and which didn’t (usually … I qualify that statement because you truly never know).  I began to notice that the ones created from images of trees were ones that particularly appealed to me.  I began seeing and photographing trees specifically for the purpose of creating mandalas.  The majority of my mandalas over the last year were drawn from tree images.  I would purposely head out when the light was interesting and photograph those spreading branches with light painting the sky beyond in unusual colors.  The first 3 images in the gallery show some of  my early mandalas created with images of trees.

Lately, though, I’ve been looking for different ways of seeing and envisioning the mandalas.  The beach at Lake Ontario last weekend provided some possibilities that I hadn’t previously considered. When I say beach, do not think of a white sandy expanse calling you to lounge in the warm sun with a good book and a nice cool drink.  This beach was a mile long expanse of nothing but rocks, beautiful rocks that had been tossed and rolled and washed over thousands of times to create smooth rounded surfaces, rocks anywhere from the size of a robin’s egg to that of a basketball.   It was tough walking, as the rocks would roll under your feet as you stepped on them.   I love rocks, and in fact collect a few everywhere I travel.   I picked up some great rocks to add to my collection and took some interesting shots of the rocks.  Very occasionally there would be small pockets of dirt/sand that had sifted down from the eroding cliff above the beach.  The image I used for the mandalas this week is what I called a Beach Still Life, one of those small pockets that had a bit of sand  as well as an assortment of rocks, leaves, and sticks.  It’s a very different sort of image than I usually use to create mandalas but then the resulting mandalas are very different than what I usually create.  It’s fun to occasionally change something in your work and see where it leads.

Do what you cannot do

I have a confession to make:  I am easily bored.  Well, not exactly bored.  I can’t actually remember a time that I was bored.  It’s more like I am always searching for new ways to do things.  Once I know how to do something well, I find myself wondering what else could be done.

In my first blog post I wrote about this as Stretching.  It’s so easy to get comfortable with what you know and what you do and what you think. That’s also known as a rut. 🙂 It takes a certain amount of courage to try new thoughts, new ways of being or doing but there can be rewards. Pablo Picasso is quoted as saying, “I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.”

I’ve been intrigued with long exposure photography for some time but hadn’t  had (or made) the opportunity to play with it.  I was at a cottage on Lake Ontario for the weekend which was the perfect place and time to try this.

Photographers often speak of capturing a moment in time.  But what happens when you capture many moments all together?  In one image?  That’s what long exposures do.  Normally, when the shutter clicks it is open for a fairly short period of time, like 1/60th of a second.  Actually 1/60th is considered on the slow end of shutter speeds.  Shutter speeds on my camera go up to 1/8000th of a second.  That’s really capturing a moment!  So if you slow the shutter way down and keep it open for 1 whole second, or even 30 or 60 seconds what would happen?

Partly that would depend on whether the camera was still or moving.  In this first attempt I put the camera on a tripod to keep it very still and pointed it toward the horizon looking directly out over Lake Ontario.  The shutter was open for 60 seconds.  The movements of the clouds and the water are recorded and blend together and smooth everything out.  Pretty cool!  I have some ideas of other moving objects that I would like to try this with but was happy with my first attempt.

What new thing have you tried lately?  How have you pulled yourself away from the comfortable?   What could you do that you cannot do?

PS…This blog in general and this post in particular are also evidence of “doing what I cannot do”.  I’ve been taking part in a great online course lately, Flying Lessons: Tips and Trick to make your Creative Business Soar .  I’ve become connected with creative women all over the world. A small group from the class decided to start a blog circle.  At the time I didn’t even have a blog, let alone know what a blog circle is.  But, I thought, why not?  In the doing is the learning.

My understanding is that our 13 blogs, one by one link to each other and we will all be discussing our thoughts on courage.  So check out what  Janice Perdue Smith, a mixed media artist from Texas, has to say today about courage and see where that leads you.  I’ll be figuring it out as I go along, also. 🙂