Sunday, May 30, 2010

Wax On

Rusty metal, waxed paper, part of an antique Japanese book, smudges, splats, splotches, and more. As a painter might, I begin with a blank canvas and then wonder, "what if?" ©Carol Leigh

Cormorant on the Siuslaw

During a visit to Florence the other day, I photographed this cormorant sitting on a log looking out over the Siuslaw River. (That's pronounced sigh-YOU-slaw.) Not content to leave well enough alone, I added some shading, shadows, grunge, and trees. ©Carol Leigh (that's pronounced LEE!)

Saturday, May 29, 2010

24 Horses

I'm enjoying the "old" feeling I've been creating lately. No two alike and a lot of "what if" experimentation going on. ©Carol Leigh

Friday, May 28, 2010

Earth, Sea, and Sky

A large "3" rubber-stamped onto a painted background creates the basis for this piece. From there I added lines, metal, scratches from a fishing boat, a moon (three times), and more to create something that to me represents the three physical elements of our life: the ocean, the land, and the sky. There are fishy things in the water, stars in the sky, and warm brown colors in between. ©Carol Leigh

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Red E

Under the header, "what the hell was I thinking?" I show you the result of an eBay purchase last year. I saw someone was selling a big bag o' letters, put in my bid, and, as luck would have it, won it. Well, the letters were bigger than I thought they'd be and I set them aside for awhile. Until now. I can envision an entire series of these -- photographing the entire alphabet.

So if you'll excuse me, I've got 25 more letters to shoot. And must check eBay to see if someone's now selling numbers . . .

©Carol Leigh

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Over Time

Let's see, the big hand is on 140 and the little hand is on 307... I am chronically chronologically challenged! ©Carol Leigh

Monday, May 24, 2010

Two Squared

I'm fond of photographing, numbers, old trains, texture, rust, and smudges. And then later, back in the office, I'm fond of ripping those photos apart, deleting some elements, adding others, and making things look "worse." This "2" found on a train is no exception. ©Carol Leigh

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Birthday getaway 2010

Chris and my birthdays are exactly a week apart, so we usually do something to celebrate them both at the same time. Last year we went down to Gold Beach on the Oregon coast. and this year, we drove up to Portland to see Cirque du Soleil. We stayed at the Waterfront Marriott where our room overlooked Tom McCall Waterfront Park and the Willamette River. From our 12th floor balcony we could look down on bicyclists and pedestrians in the rain, a drawbridge, and more.

We walked to the Cirque du Soleil venue (luckily no rain during the walk) and then through a heavy mist which turned to rain just as we reached the hotel on our walk back. Next morning we visited Powell's Books and a couple of other stores and then drove back home. A delightful, relaxing birthday trip for us both.

I haven't figured out how to put captions underneath my photos, but here you see a walking path/pedestrian from our balcony, also our view over toward the drawbridge, and cyclists at an intersection. Oregon is incredibly green right now -- quite luscious and soothing. And then you see reflections in a skyscraper, a view looking up at the freeway where, if you want to go to Seattle, you need to be in the left lane. And a shot of a newly-installed sculpture in the park promoting acupuncture and health. ©Carol Leigh

Thursday, May 20, 2010


Indio, California. Variously known as "The Place to Be," "Date Capital of the World," and "The City of Festivals." ©Carol Leigh

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Time Traveler

"How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless." —Paul Bowles, composer, author

©Carol Leigh

Monday, May 17, 2010

And what was YOUR first car?

My first car was a 1961 VW Beetle. And it was yellow. So when I saw this one in a parking lot last week, I had to photograph it. This one's newer and it's brighter and its radio probably works better than mine ever did. But it brought back memories . . . and who can forget their first car? Ah, youth . . . ©Carol Leigh


"Use what talents you possess: the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best." — Henry Van Dyke

©Carol Leigh


Last week when we drove down to Reedsport, I found two cool STOP signs to photograph. I liked the simplicity of the first one, with just a plain wall and the vibrant red colors. And the clouds are great. And then, in the middle of a street, there was this little rubber STOP sign embedded in the asphalt, so naturally I had to shoot it -- it was so different and so wonky from being driven over during its lifetime. ©Carol Leigh

Sunday, May 16, 2010


©Carol Leigh

160 Minutes on the Beach: Part II

My "routine" when shooting during a low tide is to walk out as far as I can while the light is still overcast. Such soft, diffused lighting is great for making the colors stand out. Once the sun comes out, I walk along the base of the bluffs, where the rocks are still in shadow or bright shade. Once the harsh sun hits everything, I'm out of there.

Every tide is different. Every tide reveals something new. And this particular minus tide revealed agates by the thousands, and by the time I left the beach, there were lots of people methodically walking self-imposed grid lines, leaving no stone unturned, finding agates all over the place.

Here you see how pebbles fill the low spots between rocks. In the second photo you see some agates that I found no more than one foot and 60 seconds from where I was standing. Yes, I gathered them up and placed them on these rocks, along with a little hermit crab, sequestered in his shell.

And finally you see one of the sea stars that's wedged himself between sea anemones covering a rock wall. It was a very good morning. ©Carol Leigh

Saturday, May 15, 2010

160 Minutes on the Beach: Part I

Part 1: Where I and another woman save a life.

As I walk past, I notice a rock sticking up from a tidepool while another rock remains submerged. Wait a minute. Something's not right. That submerged rock looks a little too perfectly triangular.

It's a stingray! Oh no! It's beached itself and is partway out of the water. I could wade out and push it into deeper water, but images of the Crocodile Hunter flicker through my brain. I find a woman who's looking for agates just a short distance down the beach and enlist her help. She's got an agate stick and maybe we can use that to push the ray into deeper water.

So that's what we do. Well, that's what SHE does. She's the one with the stick. The ray backs up but oh no (again)! The ray simply re-beaches itself. My partner in ichthyological rescue nudges the ray's nose and hooray! the ray backs into deeper water and seems inclined to stay there.

We part ways, each of us feeling very warm and fuzzy that we, defenders of wildlife, did a good deed for the day.

Well, now that I'm home, I look up rays online. What we saw wasn't a dangerous stingray, but rather a benign skate. And apparently they bury themselves a bit into the sand as a natural activity during their day. And perhaps she was laying a sac of eggs. And maybe she was really cranky that we poked our nose (rather, an agate stick) into her little existence while she was in the throes of giving birth.

(I doubt that ANYONE giving birth would like to be bopped in the nose mid-contraction. As if things weren't uncomfortable enough!)

So here you see the ray as it's making its second foray into shallower water. And here you see my well-intentioned stranger-friend encouraging the ray to stay in deeper water by using her agate stick.

Yup, that's us. Two women annoying the hell out of nature as we go about our little lives.

More beach walk photos to follow. Uh-oh. I think I just heard a bird hit the window. I'd better go check. Maybe I'll need a stick . . .©Carol Leigh

32 minutes at the aquarium

On our way home from renewing our driver's licenses yesterday we made a quick stop at the Oregon Coast Aquarium. The light was overcast, which was perfect for photographing the puffins. Alas, it turned rather sunny right after I took this shot, so we moved inside to check out the sea nettles. It was an intimate setting -- just us and about 1,500 schoolchildren -- my idea of hell. But not as hellacious as my new driver's license photo, which Chris says makes me look like an escapee from a mental institution. Heavy sigh. ©Carol Leigh

Low light and a slow lens: what to do?

Very low light yesterday morning and not a fast lens. What to do? Purposely move my camera in a swirling fashion during a longish exposure. A dying pink tulip in my front yard stands out against the brighter colors of dianthus (1.3 seconds at f/22). And rhododendrons look great above a white picket fence (0.4 seconds at f/32).

The key thing is, why "swirl" the camera? Why not do my usual "sweeps" from side to side, or my usual "swipes" up and down? The subject matter dictates my camera movement. A small grove of trees with their repeating vertical trunks lends itself more to an up and down camera "swipe." A beach scene with its wide expanses lends itself more to a side by side "sweep." And the flowers? Well, their shapes aren't vertical nor horizontal, so I figured a circular "swirl" would be more appropriate.

Great photos? Nah. But they're different and fun to create on a morning of low light and a slow lens. ©Carol Leigh

Thursday, May 13, 2010


Spring and fall are my favorite seasons. There's such a promise in spring, with skies beginning to clear, flowers beginning to bloom. And there's such a quiet in autumn, when leaves turn golden, geese fly past, and nature begins turning inward. Spring to me is a time of optimism and new beginnings; fall is a time for reflecting on what has been. 

So darned if I know why I put this autumn-looking scene together right at the height of spring! ©Carol Leigh

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

70 minutes at the crabpot staging area

Big decision this morning: walk on the beach or head elsewhere? I headed toward the beach, but ended up at the crabpot staging area. The lighting was so overcast, so wonderful, that I just needed some color. The height of the crabbing season is over (it's salmon now), so I knew there probably would be a lot of crabpots and colorful buoys stacked up, ready to be stripped and readied for the upcoming season. There was a row of these big containers, all filled with colorful buoys.

And the red ones! What photographer wouldn't salivate over these colors?

And then there were piles of ropes. Not overly colorful, but I liked the repeating patterns. To show you what I was seeing, there's an overview at the very end — not artistic, but just so you can see part of my environment.

This is going to be my personal project for my upcoming "Photo Essay" class, which begins July 1. The concept is for each student to create a visual "story" of an area, an event, a person, etc. in 10-15 photographs. For more information about this 30-day class, click And if I don't decide to photograph the crabbing scene, I may just decide to shoot at the local farmers' market instead. Uh-oh. That will probably involve photographing people. Very scary. ©Carol Leigh

Faces in unlikely places ...

"I feel pretty, oh so pretty!" I looked down at a rusty piece of metal, kind of like a girder, and saw this cute face looking back up at me. It's the "mouth" that creates the personality in this case. ©Carol Leigh


©Carol Leigh

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Monday, May 10, 2010

Yeah, but is it ART?

Over in my "Creative Edge Alumni Group" we were talking about "art," and how someone using glue tape and torn scraps of paper and paint wasn't really making art, wasn't making something worthwhile. "What's the point?" was one valid comment.

I subscribe to something called "Twice-Weekly Letters" from The Painter's Keys by Robert Genn. It's geared toward painters, but I find the concepts are often applicable to photography. He writes a letter and the responses to it are equally valuable, being very well thought-out.

Here's the link to Robert Genn's latest letter:

I found it applicable to what we'd been discussing in my alumni group. And I thought it would be appropriate to insert a snippet of it here. Robert Genn wrote (in part):

"An estimated forty million hobby painters propel the art-materials business. Like quilting, journaling, or maintaining an aquarium, folks just do it. Quality control may be a lesser aim. Marketing is a non-starter. These days, many artists mention goals of fulfillment and personal happiness over challenge and professionalism. The play's the game. The emphasis on inner child, return to innocence and the youth bias of the media stirs up the latent kid. Delayed maturity, in the traditional sense, is the result.

"What are the possible benefits of all this puppyhood? In the arts, immaturity has become a good place to start. We need the puppy-love before we seriously fall. The work, in Bernard Berenson's words, is simply "life enhancing." The downside may be chronic mediocrity, the effect of which can fan out through an entire culture."  -- Robert Genn

And then, below Robert Genn's letter, is a series of responses, very thoughtful responses. I thought of you, Bruce K., when I read this: "Gee, I think I sound just a little cranky about this particular topic and I'm sorry if I'm offending anyone. It's just that I'm finding it increasingly difficult to feel tolerant about what I consider the dumbing down of the public's understanding of what makes good art."

And there was this comment: "Wouldn't it be transforming if in our culture people were encouraged to make art because in even attempting to do it one begins to change? In some cultures, for example Native American, it seems that everyone is artistic. Perhaps this concept leads to a greater appreciation of beauty and order over time."

To bring all this back around to photography, what we're all doing here is continuing to learn, continuing to improve, continuing to create. Are we artists?

One of my students (perhaps it was one of you) presented a photo she took of a teddy bear on a bed. As I recall, the photo was black and white, and it conveyed such a feeling of abandonment, loneliness, and emptiness that it brought tears to my eyes. To me, that was a piece of art.

Speaking for myself, I don't consider my photographs "art." They don't call forth emotions/concepts of something larger, greater, more profound. My talent (if indeed I have a talent) is for seeing beauty in everyday things and presenting that beauty on a plate. A photograph of bubbles in ice doesn't depict anything more than perhaps color, line, and design. It doesn't say anything about the human condition, sorrow, love, exhilaration, etc. (Ha! Maybe global warming!)

What's my point? Maybe that we can celebrate ourselves as artists -- all of us -- but we must always know in the backs of our minds that there is something greater to be achieved. Something more to aspire to. Something beyond another slot canyon photo, another seagull on a post, another pile of fishing nets.


Sunday, May 9, 2010


©Carol Leigh

Friday, May 7, 2010

Three Keys

More experimentation going on with this entire process. Luckily I have a whole jar filled with keys to play with, so you may be seeing more of these things . . . fair warning! ©Carol Leigh

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Choppy Seas

A torn section of a book cover makes me think of a wave and foam while grunge on a cement wall forms threatening clouds. A water ring on wood implies a sun or moon. Other scratches, drips, shadings, shadowings, and more add to the piece. ©Carol Leigh

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

His and Hers

There was just something I liked about the color combination and the smoothness of the metal. ©Carol Leigh

Nest Eggs 2

There seems to be a monochromatic movement afoot. ©Carol Leigh

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Divisible by Three

Well, yesterday's montage was sublimely colorful, and today's is sublimely monochromatic. ©Carol Leigh

Monday, May 3, 2010

Slow No Wake

I like the colorful look of this piece, with the bold 5, the arc of part of a sign, peeling paint, etc. ©Carol Leigh

83 minutes on the beach

We had a minus tide yesterday, revealing barnacle-covered rock formations that we don't normally see. I liked the undulating pathway through the barnacles in the lower photo, but, as usual, am primarily attracted by the colorful rocks I find along the bluffs, away from the water. It was a good morning. ©Carol Leigh

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Autumn Reflections

Warm, rich blues and complementary orange/red colors work great together. Water, fall color, and here and there the strong shapes of tree trunks. A very structured composition of a fairly unstructured autumnal event. ©Carol Leigh