Tag Archives: Love to travel

Those summer days…

As I’m writing this, all sorts of “summer” songs are running through my head.

Fun in the Summertime is a classic one, nothing at all deep,  just singing about that special feeling that  summer brings,                                                                                                                                                                                    “End of the spring and here she comes back                                                                                                       Hi hi hi hi, there                                                                                                                                                             Them summer days, those summer days.”


My summer days have been full of travel, adventure, family, and learning which always inspire me. It seemed like a good time to share what’s been filling the well lately.

We started out the summer with family in Switzerland, including an amazing trip to see the Matterhorn  in Zermatt, Switzerland.  As you may have gathered if you’ve been following for a while, I’m more interested in details than grand scenes.  This was GRAND!  The panoramic image below was the view from Gonergrat with the Matterhorn off in the distance to the far right (the pointy peak). Click on the image to enlarge it and you can see the small red circle over to the left of this image, understand that it highlights a 6 story building.  I only took one other set of panoramic images during the 3 hours that we spent at the top.  To me, there was no way to fully capture that grandeur so I just let it soak in to my soul.


Matterhorn_Panorama_Gail-Haile. — Click to enlarge

I couldn’t resist sharing this image from the Stork colony in Uznach, on the east end of Lake Zurich.   We were driving around one day and we noticed a stork on the roof of a church.  As we looked more we saw storks everywhere, in huge, really huge, nests on the roofs and chimneys of houses and churches.  It turns out that there is a whole colony of about 30 storks that the villagers allow and encourage to nest there.  It was such an unexpected delight!



Some travel on this side of the ocean brought us to this beautiful beach where I taught my grandson to be comfortable with the waves.



I was able to be on the other side of the learning equation and be inspired when I went to a workshop taught by John Paul Caponigro, a  fine art photographer, advocate for the environment, and son of photographer Paul Caponigro who was a friend and colleague of Ansel Adams.  Check out his website.  You will be amazed by his work and his generosity with resources.

Another learning opportunity was spending a week at the PPSNYS Imaging Workshop and studying with Richard Sturdevant.  He taught his detailed techniques for creating complex works of art using multiple images.  My unfinished class project, below, involved over 25 different images and many techniques in both Photoshop and Painter.  I’m excited to see where these two inspirational experiences will take my work.

©GHaile_Sturdevant class project

©GHaile_Sturdevant class project — Click to enlarge


What have you been doing with your summer days? What’s been inspiring you?

Do you know anyone who would be interested in this?  Please share it with them.  Thanks!

Sea Shells by the Sea Shore 2

Last week, I shared some mandalas that I created from an image of an oyster shell.

This is actually the first shell that I found that made me think, “Oh, I need to see what kinds of mandalas this shell will create.”  I just loved all the different shades of brown and the textures. It’s quite small, just and inch or so at it’s longest point.  I can’t even tell what sort of shell it is.

It’s important to pay attention to those small bits of beauty as well as the grand, more obvious,  scenes of beauty. 

©Gail Haile_Brown Shell

©Gail Haile_Brown Shell

I see all sorts of things in these mandalas.  What do you see?

Do you know anyone who would be interested in this?  Please share it with them.  Thanks!   

Sea Shells by the Sea Shore: Mandalas

A beach in Delaware was where I spent most of my time last week.  There was not a lot of beach reading or sun bathing on my part.  When you’re at the beach with a 2 1/2 year old, playing in the sand, collecting shells, flying kites, and getting wet were the main activities.  In truth, those are my favorite beach activities any way.  It was great fun!

This beach didn’t have many stones, like this one in Block Island that I visited last year, or whole shells, like Sanibel Island, in Florida, where I was in March.  South Bethany Beach is mostly very fine sand with a few bits and pieces of shells and small pebbles.  It was wonderful for walking.  The one exception was a whole oyster shell that we found.  Below is a close-up image of that shell.

At first an oyster shell doesn’t seem to be the most beautiful shell but  I knew when I saw the colors and patterns that I wanted to see what kinds of mandala patterns it might hold.

©Gail Haile_Oyster shell

©Gail Haile_Oyster shell

I love the variety of patterns that emerged and the soft colors.  Such a humble shell held all this beauty!  

Check back next week for more shell mandalas from a rust colored shard of a shell.  

What’s your favorite beach activity?

What have you encountered that seemed mundane at first but held much more when you looked closer?

Do you know anyone who would enjoy this?  Please share it with them.  Thanks!  

Windows, windows, and more windows

Last weekI shared some of my images of doors from a recent visit to Switzerland and promised that this week you would see a few of the window images that I captured as well.

What is it that is so interesting about doors and windows?  Of course, the Swiss know how to make a window interesting,  Shutters are a rainbow of colors, and most window sills support at least one flower box, most often filled with geraniums. I love the colors and the textures and the shapes. But also there is that sense of what stories could those windows tell, both from within and without?  Windows are, by nature, full of metaphor.  Take a look at all the quotes that use a window metaphor here.

I’m going to make a point to look for interesting doors and windows in my everyday world. Maybe I have been guilty of not seeing what’s right in front of me?  Perhaps I need to remember one of my favorite quotes from Marcel Proust, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes. ” Surely, the Swiss don’t have a monopoly on that sort of thing?  I’ll keep you posted.

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Doors, doors, and more doors

When I travel, I am drawn to photograph doors and windows.  Here are just a few of my favorite doors from my most recent trip to Switzerland.  I have hundreds more!  (Next week, I’ll share window images.)

Especially in areas of Europe that have buildings much older than our 2 centuries of old that we have here in the US the doors can be interesting.  Doors vary a great deal in design, color, complexity.  Whenever I return home I think about photographing doors here but there just doesn’t seem to be the diversity and uniqueness in our doors , at least in the places I frequent in the US.

Two questions always come to mind.

1. Am I not looking in the right places for interesting doors here in the US?

2. What is it about doors that is so intriguing to me (and other people, I suspect) ?

What do you think?

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Travel Reflections

I’ve spent a lot of time traveling lately…traveling by “trains, planes, and automobiles” with a hefty dose of walking.  We spent 3 weeks in Switzerland, spending time with family and enjoying some of the culture and beauty of that little country.

One day involved a train ride up the mountains to Gonergrat,  where we were treated to a  perfect view of the Matterhorn and the surrounding Alps.  It was truly awe inspiring scenery but it seemed too vast and amazing to capture in pixels.  I just soaked it in to my soul and will remember that feeling.  Another day involved a car ride through the lush green hills of the Appenzell region.  Those hills were dotted with geranium covered Swiss chalets and hundreds of Swiss brown cows.  Every bend in the road presented another postcard view of the area.  Again, it seemed that any images I captured failed to fully convey the essence of that place.  And, to me, those scenes, while beautiful, are obviously so.  Of course we see them and are inspired by the beauty.  We expect and delight to be astounded by such beauty.

Traveling by airplane usually involves a lot of time waiting in airports and most airports do not offer much awe inspiring scenery while you wait.  We don’t expect to see anything interesting or beautiful during those waits.  To keep me occupied while waiting  at the gate in the Zurich airport, I wandered around with my little point and shoot camera and captured reflections that I saw.  I’ve been playing with reflections for a while now so it was fun to continue that. There’s usually a lot of windows, therefore light, in airports and the floors are usually highly polished (especially in Switzerland where even the parking garage floors shine), so reflections abound.  It was interesting to watch for the colors and the shapes that were right under our feet if you only pay attention.

What beauty have you seen lately that was not obvious?

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Windows of Germany: Second Look

Some of my family is visiting Germany this week, so I was inspired to take a second look at some of the images that I took while I was there in 2008.  We’d gone to Germany to attend the German reception for our daughter and German son-in-law who had been married the previous month in our home town.  We had a few days after the reception to hit some of the highlights of Germany but not much more.  When I returned home, I was in the middle of high school senior portrait season so didn’t have the time to review the thousands of images that I came home with.


We spent one day in Heidelberg, Germany and visited the Heidelberg Palace that dates from the 13th century.  It was an amazing piece of architecture and history and so vast that it was hard to know how to capture it in images.  In one corner of the property I spotted this little face peeking out of the window.  It appeared that the room he was in was a storage room for all sorts of architectural pieces that were waiting to be restored and put back in their proper place.  I wondered how long this sweet face had been peering out of that window.

I only had a few seconds to capture his face and always wished that I’d had more time to play with different angles and compositions.  So I had sort of dismissed this image,  but when I went back and took a second look, I decided that there was something there.   (You may remember from this post that SOOc stands for “straight out of camera”.)©Gail Haile_Peek-a-Boo_SOOC©Gail Haile_Peek-a-Boo_SOOC

With a bit of cropping to improve the composition, then enhancing the color and the detail, I really like this image.  It does make you wonder how long he’s been in there and conjures up stories of being held captive during during one of the many periods of unrest that the palace was part of.

©Gail Haile_Peek-a-Boo

©Gail Haile_Peek-a-Boo

Windows and flowers!

Whenever I’ve been in Europe, I come home with hundreds of images of windows and doors.  (Perhaps I should do a blog post about those?) The architecture represents so many different periods, back to the middle ages, that the diversity of styles is quite profound.  And Europeans love to adorn their windows with flowers, especially geraniums, much more than we do here in the US.

This is a simple window image that I brought home from that trip to Germany.  SOOC and soon after the trip, I wasn’t impressed and dismissed it.

©Gail Haile_Wall of Geranium_SOOC

©Gail Haile_Wall of Geranium_SOOC

Upon taking a second look, recently, I decided it just needed a bit of detail and color enhancement and a bit of straightening and it was no longer to be dismissed.  I “painted” in a bit more contrast and detail in the plant to give it more dimension as well.

©Gail Haile_Wall of Geranium

©Gail Haile_Wall of Geranium

 Pay attention for interesting and  unusual windows in your travels this week.  

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A Wide View: Playing with Panoramics

For over 10 years, I’ve had this dream of traveling Virginia’s Skyline Drive in April and capturing the dogwood blossoms floating in the spring forest.  That wasn’t what we found when we finally made our way along the famous route. Instead we found a bare forest still waiting for spring’s warmth to arrive.   As we all know, life rarely goes according to the scripts that we’ve written in our minds so it’s good to have a plan b, or c, or more.  So I had to rethink what to photograph.

One of the plans I came up with was to play with panoramics.  I’ve played with them a bit in the past and have not done any in a while.  Many of you may have or know someone who has the iPhone that creates panoramic images by simply swiping the camera across the scene.  They are fun and a little quirky in their distorted view of the world.

To clarify, Google gives this definition of panoramic photography: “a technique of photography, using specialized equipment or software, that captures images with elongated fields of view. It is sometimes known as wide format photography. The term has also been applied to a photograph that is cropped to a relatively wide aspect ratio.”

So an iPhone would be “specialized equipment” along with cameras like the film camera Noblex  that my friend Andi Alexander uses sometimes. or these cameras from Lomography.   With these cameras, just one wide angle image is produced.

Or, as I do, you can use “specialized software” to stitch together multiple images to create one that has very wide angle of view.  There is a lot of different software available but in the past few years Photoshop has become quite adept at panoramics.

How I make panoramic images:

In each case, I take multiple images of a scene. Using my body as a pivot point, and carefully keeping the camera in the same plane while pivoting, I progressively pan across a scene, taking anywhere from 3 to more than 15 images, each one a slightly different section of the scene.  It is important to overlap each image just a bit so the software has something to line up from image to image.

The image below demonstrates one step along the way.  This started with 17 images that I took, slowly sweeping the camera from right to left and pressing the shutter 17 times.  Those 17 images were then processed in Photoshop CC with Photomerge to get something like what you see below.  I’ve separated each section a bit and added the orange so that you can see all the parts.  Actually, the sections fit quite nicely together (though they are each on their own separate layer) when the software is finished.

Pieces of Panoramic_Gail S. Haile

Pieces of Panoramic_Gail S. Haile (Click to enlarge)

I then merged all 17 layers together so I have just one complete image, straighten and crop a bit, do a few adjustments to the color and detail and the result is what you see below in Skyline Panorama 1.

©Gail Haile_Skyline Drive Panorama 1

©Gail Haile_Skyline Drive Panorama 1 (Click to enlarge)

Some more examples:

Skyline Panorama 2 is the blending of 12 separate images.

©Gail Haile_Skyline Drive Panorama 2

©Gail Haile_Skyline Drive Panorama 2 (Click to enlarge)

Skyline Panoramic 3, while it looks similar to #2 is 10 completely different images of the same scene.  I played around with it as a black and white and preferred it this way.

©Gail Haile_Skyline Drive Panorama 3

©Gail Haile_Skyline Drive Panorama 3 (Click to enlarge)

As our drive along Skyline progressed, we came across this stand of extremely tall trees where the afternoon light was creating interesting patterns.  I thought it would be interesting to do a vertical panoramic so took 16 images moving the camera up the trees from the ground to the sky.  The sepia tones of the final image highlights the light patterns better than the color version did.

©Gail Haile_Trees Panorama

©Gail Haile_Trees Panorama (Click to enlarge)

There are more precise and complicated ways to create panoramic images but this worked for me on that day when I needed to have another plan.

What do you do when your plans get changed?


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Springtime Inspiration: Filling the Well

It’s always fun and interesting for me to break out of routine and do different things or to do the same things in different ways.  I look forward to changing things up as that often helps me see (both physically and spiritually) things that I didn’t see before.  The past 6 weeks, for me, have been much about change and not much about routine.  For all my love of different, I’m now at the point where I’m hungry for routine.  That ebb and flow is an ever-present and interesting pattern in life, don’t you think?   Here are just a few things that have been filling my well within that ebb and flow.

Inspired by new places:  

We traveled south to North Carolina to visit family and experience spring (which refuses to show her face up north).  Among many different sights and experiences was our afternoon spent at the Sarah P. Duke Gardens on the campus of Duke University.  It is probably the most beautiful garden I’ve ever visited and I know I will return.

Another beautiful and fascinating place we visited was Skyline Drive which is part of the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia.  I’d been expecting the famous dogwoods to be in bloom but spring had not ventured up the mountains yet. I had to rethink what I wanted to photograph (always a good exercise) and instead took time to notice the shapes of trees and the over abundance of lichens, and practiced a few panoramic images.  I’ll talk more about that next week.

The image gallery contains a few of the shrubs that were in bloom along these travels. How many of them can you name?

Inspired by structure: 

At the beginning of this year, inspired by the words of Gustav Flaubert to Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work”I decided to work on building more structure in my work life.  In hindsight, it may have been not the best time to work on routine and structure, a year when my husband was retiring and a major part of the routine of our lives would change.  🙂   But while it’s not always easy, I’ve found that having external systems to rely on that provide structure and routine helps immensely.

One of those “systems” is the Free Write Fling with Cynthia Morris, a writing and creative coach.  I did the FWF in February and loved it.  As someone who relentlessly resisted a regular writing habit, it taught me a great deal about just showing up and writing for 15 minutes each day.  When I finished the February session, I was hooked but life filled the space and my writing slacked off again.  So, I’ve signed up for the May session of FWF.

Another structure type thing I’m working on, is limiting the amount of information that I’m exposed to.  As a “research queen”,  I love gathering information, it’s one way to “fill the well” and be inspired. But sometimes that well gets so full, you can’t hear your own voice. So I’ve been unsubscribing and “un-liking” all sorts of things and purging magazines and journals that I was keeping for inspiration.  We need space to hear our own wisdom.

Inspired by other photographers:  

My friend Andi Alexander always inspires me with her ability to capture the light, physically, but more importantly, spiritually.  She joined me in October for our local Worldwide Photowalk and while the rest of us were capturing fallen leaves and doorways she ventured in to the local shoe repair shop and found the seed for an inspiring photo essay project about everyday people in their work.  Shoe Repair is only the first of these powerful essays. I’m inspired by the way she has followed her own wisdom when, at times, like all of us, she was unsure where it would lead.

Will you share where you’ve found inspiration recently?



Being Golden

I spent a few days in Golden, Colorado last week.

Since last fall I have been part of the Gold mastermind group with Alyson B. Stanfield, the Art Biz Coach.  It is a diverse group of artists that includes painters, collage artists, jewelry designers, paper artists, and this lone photographer.  It’s all art, though, and we worked together to help each other better market that art.  As one who works alone much of the time, the creative synergy of a group was so energizing and inspiring.

I had given myself the gift of going a day early so that I had an extra day to explore Golden. Much of the day was spent wandering the beautiful historic area and the lovely campus of the Colorado School of Mines, taking pictures, and drinking lots and lots of water to combat the fatigue and vague queasiness that came with the high altitude.

I was traveling light in regards to camera equipment, having brought a small Canon G16 that has an amazing amount of functionality for a point and shoot camera.  Sometimes, it’s not convenient or even necessary to carry my big equipment and the G16 is great for those times.

Often when traveling, I come home with at least a few stonesso it’s surprising that while visiting this place rich with stone and rock that I didn’t have an extra 10 pounds in my suitcase.  I did find a few stones to photograph, however.  This one, in particular, was beautiful with the sandstone and quartz and a few other things that I couldn’t identify.  But, for one, it was part of the sidewalk design and it was the size of a 5 year old, so taking a few close-up pictures of it and making mandalas would have to suffice.

The soft rosy glow  and the complexity of these patterns are a prefect representation of my week in Golden.

It was a good Golden week.   How was your week?

If you know someone who would enjoy my work, I’d be happy if you would share this with them.

If you are interested in prints of any of these mandalas, contact me and I can make that happen. 🙂