Tag Archives: Yellow

Thriving in difficult spots: Flowers of Yellowstone 1

We usually think of flowers in lush gardens that overflow with an abundance of blooms.  Sparse, barren soil does not usually bring to mind thriving plant life. While some areas in Yellowstone National Park did present that sense of lush abundance, more often, at the time we were there in early June, that was not the case.  I was struck by the presence of blooms in quite harsh environments, appearing to be thriving.  They were such a stark contrast to the surrounding ground.

I’m sorry that I did not pick up a book or pamphlet that identified the flowers in the park.  I, mistakenly, thought that I would be able to Google them when I was home but that has proved difficult at best.

The main message, though, that I took away was these flowers’ abilities to thrive in seemingly difficult spots.  

Next week, I’ll share some more of the flowers that were in bloom in early June.

Fine art photography of flowers in Yellowstone National Park.


Fine art photography of flowers in Yellowstone National Park.


Fine art photography of flowers in Yellowstone National Park.


Fine art photography of flowers in Yellowstone National Park.


Fine art photography of flowers in Yellowstone National Park.


Fine art photography of flowers in Yellowstone National Park.


Fine art photography of flowers in Yellowstone National Park.


Portrait of a Church

I’ve been playing with this church portrait for a few weeks now, in between traveling and other projects. Today has been a “home portrait” day…two portraits of clients’ lovely homes started, one portrait of a family business finished, and the finishing touches on this church.  I wanted to do this church because it is one of four churches in our village and eventually I would like to do all four.  This one will probably actually be the easiest of the four.  When you read what was involved, you’ll see why I started with this one.

Churches are, often, a kind of home for many so it seemed fitting that my home portrait work should include churches.   This is St. James’ Episcopal Church in Clinton, NY along with it’s attached pastor’s home.  It is very typical architecture for Episcopal churches in this part of the country.   I’ve always loved it’s invitingly bright yellow color.

Obviously, the first step is always to photograph the building.  It can take some research and a few attempts to decide the best time of day for a particular structure.  This church faces almost directly west so an early evening capture worked best.  In the morning, the sun would have been shining directly into the camera.  I also watch the weather and the skies.  This day gave me lovely puffy clouds that I often have to paint into an image.

The church is on a lovely street with 19th century homes which are fairly close together, so I couldn’t stand too far back from the church.  Even though I was able to get it all in one frame, it still had a bit of perspective distortion (it appears to be leaning back) so that was the first thing to be corrected once I brought the image into Photoshop.

Next up, and the biggest job, were all those distracting wires.  Sometimes you can avoid them with a different angle but there was no way to do that this time. There’s no quick way to remove those if you want it to appear they were never there.  There are several tools in Photoshop that help with this and I use a combination of them depending on the spot, but overall it took a few hours to remove all the power lines.  The lines in the trees are actually the most difficult. It’s a task that is a bit meditative, not unlike working on a puzzle.  I would do a bit and go to another project and come back for some more later. Little by little the lines disappeared which makes for a much less cluttered image.  Someone someday, I’m sure, will invent a filter to quickly remove power lines.  One can only hope. 🙂

Original Photograph used to create the digiitial painting of St. James' Episcopal Church in Clinton, NY.

Original Photograph used to create the digiitial painting of St. James’ Episcopal Church in Clinton, NY.

Next, the car in the right hand corner needed to go as well as the one behind the bushes and to the left of the church.  The latter, I covered up with some extra bushes and siding.

The colors in the small rose window as well as the signature red side door needed a bit of a boost.  The overall color, contrast, and detail was also enhanced.  The lines of the board and batten siding, so typical for Episcopal church architecture, didn’t stand out enough, so those were enhanced as well. Contrary to that, the yellow curb was inordinately bright where the sun hit it, so the saturation on that was lowered.  I played with cropping the curb and road out but the church was then too close to the bottom of the image.  I considered turning the road into lawn but it would have taken it too far from what it is, so decided to leave it.

Finally, I was able to apply brush strokes and create the painting of this beautiful church.

Final digiital painting of St. James' Episcopal Church in Clinton, NY

Final digiital painting of St. James’ Episcopal Church in Clinton, NY

For more about the process of my home portraits, see the Home Portrait section on this website.

Summer, Roses, and Mandalas

Summer is in full swing.  As much as I whine about winter here, I believe there is no more beautiful place than central NY in June.  

I’ve been enjoying the sunshine, even the rainy days, the soft breezes that filter in through all the open windows and doors, the lush green landscape that reminds me of Ireland, dining outdoors, and so much more.

Summer usually brings vacations for most people.  For me, it also brings learning and gathering with other photographers.  I’ll be heading to Hobart and William Smith Colleges for PPSNYS Workshop.  I’ll also be leading a retreat for women photographers at New Skete Monastery.

One of the activities that I have planned for the retreat is sharing how I create mandalas from my photographs.  In preparing for the retreat, I wanted to check the instructions and Photoshop actions that I developed to make sure they would made sense to other people.

I chose this summery yellow rose image as my source image.  The rose appears as a mandala already, don’t you think?

The results of my testing are these sunny, yellow, summery mandalas below.  They each start with a pie shaped section of the rose image and that is multiplied  6, 8, 12, or 16 times in Photoshop.  (Can you tell how many sections are in each of these mandalas?)  I then enhance certain areas of each mandala that I feel needs a bit more “oomph” (that’s a real artistic term, right?!).

Enjoy the sunshine-y feel of these mandalas.   I hope you’re basking in summer and that you take time to learn something new this summer.


Frozen Flowers: Works in Progress

My freezer is filling up with these blocks of ice lately.  Why?  Because one day in the winter, I had this random thought, “what would happen if I froze flowers and then photographed them?”  (It had been a very, very long winter and my mind was starved for inspiration. 🙂 )


Waiting to be captured

But sometimes, it pays to follow those seemingly strange inspirations.  Waiting for Spring (below) is an image from my first effort to freeze flowers and then photograph them.



Waiting for Spring is currently part of the Best of Botanicals, National Juried Photography Exhibition at PHOTO Gallery Oakland.  🙂  If you happen to be in the area, between now and  July 12, stop in and check out the exhibit.

Best of Botanicals-PHOTO Oakland 2014

Best of Botanicals-PHOTO Oakland 2014

As a last second, “oh what the heck” I also submitted Waiting for Spring to the Northeast District PPA Image Competition a few weeks ago.  Last week, it earned one of my highest scores ever in PPA competition.  Wahoo!

I’ll share more frozen flowers as I capture them.  For now, I’m stocking the freezer with blocks of ice holding the blooms of spring.

Have you ever had a “wierd” thought that turned out to be a good idea?

 Please remember to “Like”, Pin, Comment & Share.  Thanks!

Sea Grape Leaf Mandalas

One of the many, many things that I love about traveling is seeing and experiencing new things.  On a trip to Bermuda, 20 years ago, I first saw the sea grape trees, aka bay grape trees.  They are everywhere on the island and many hotels, guest houses, and restaurants pay homage to the ubiquitous plant in their name.  They were unlike anything I had ever seen growing up and living in the northeast US.  I’ve never seen the grapes of the tree, having never been around them in the late summer when the fruit develops, but I just love the large, round, sturdy and leathery leaves.  Small ones are about 6 inches and the large ones seem like they could make great dinner plates. When new, they are a shiny bright green with yellow ribs and veins.  As they age they become a beautiful red that contrasts wonderfully with that bold yellow.

©Gail Haile_Sea Grape Leaf

©Gail Haile_Sea Grape Leaf


For the past week, I was fortunate to be able to escape the cold and spend some time in southern Florida, another place where sea grape trees abound.  I also took the opportunity to play with some new ideas and photography equipment.  The image that I used for today’s mandalas is an underwater closeup of one those beautiful red and yellow sea grape leaves. I liked how much detail was revealed by photographing the leaf in that way and knew I wanted to see what would be revealed with mandalas.

As always, if you’d like prints of any of these mandalas, just email me.  Also, if you know anyone who would enjoy my work, I’d be grateful if would share this with them.


Fall Flowing by: Mandala Monday: 11-11-2013

Today brings more mandalas created from my time in Root Glen, a fantastic garden and arboretum near my home.  I talked about Root Glen in my post last weekalso.  There is a small stream that meanders through the Glen over rocks and under bridges.  I was intrigued with the colors and textures in these leaves that were on the side of the stream as the one inch of water in the stream flowed by.   I must admit that browns and similar colors are not my favorite so I did not expect to like these mandalas so much.  That is often the fun of it, though… you never can completely know what to expect.  I hope that the texture and depth and even the colors of these show  up adequately in this post.  I look at each one filling a 22″ screen and love all the detail, all from some “debris along the rocks” .  It does depend on the point of view that you choose.

Golden Canopy: Mandala Monday 11-4-2013

I’ve mentioned that I’ve been able to be more present for the spectacular fall season we’ve had this year.  One of those moments was an hour that I set aside from a busy day to enjoy the light and colors with a photographer friend.  We met in a very special garden and arboretum on the campus of Hamilton College.  The Root Glen is a very unique place and if you ever find yourself in this part of the world, you really should visit.  If you can’t visit, read more about it here.  The college website states that “the glen contains some 65 species of trees, dozens of shrubs and scores of varieties of flowers.”  It is beautiful at any time of the year and I really don’t make it a point to get there enough.

One of the things that caught my eye, were the leaves on the Beech trees.  Beech trees are very prevalent in this part of NY state, are tall and stately, and have some of the last leaves to drop.  I loved the way the light filtered through the golden canopy of beech leaves and thought, just maybe, they might make some interesting mandalas.   I was so glad that I made the time to experience the Glen even for a few minutes.


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!


Red and Yellow: Mandala Monday 9/2/2013

Just a few words and a lot of mandalas today.  I happened upon a bed of gorgeous red and yellow coleus last week.  I’m a huge fan of that color combination and I also loved the shapes and textures in the leaves.  When deciding what to do for mandalas this week, this image was tops on my list.  Besides the colors, I love the depth of some of these.  If feels like I’m being drawn in deeper and deeper.



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.