Wabi Sabi Introspective

rough edges
inconsistencies
unrelated contradictions

re-worked canvas
painted over countless times

map of uncertain locations
rolled and stored for safekeeping

re-visited again

torn
crumbled
stained
fallen

 

Wabi Sabi - Still Life photography - Renuko Style

 

Wabi Sabi - Still Life photography - Renuko Style

 

Wabi Sabi - Still Life photography - Renuko Style

 

Wabi Sabi - Still Life photography - Renuko Style

 

Wabi Sabi - Still Life photography - Renuko Style

 

Wabi Sabi - Still Life photography - Renuko Style

 

Wabi Sabi - Still Life photography - Renuko Style

 

Wabi Sabi - Still Life photography - Renuko Style

 

Wabi Sabi - Still Life photography - Renuko Style

 

Wabi Sabi - Still Life photography - Renuko Style

 

Wabi Sabi - Still Life photography - Renuko Style

 

Introspective. November in New England. Somber days.
I am pulled in to November’s melancholy ways, its Wabi Sabi sensibility.

Brown tones, gray mosses, empty nests, dried remnants of summer weeds … give me permission … to indulge myself in aloneness, introverted meanderings, and moody reflections.

A necessary sojourn. Allowing oneself to see the gritty truth of mistaken steps. To accept our own failure to perform. And embrace it.

November’s gift.

 

Wabi Sabi - Still Life photography - Renuko Style

 

 

Photography notes:

 

With the exception of two that were shot in afternoon setting sun (evident by the strong sharp light), the stills take advantage of a cloudy day, morning Northwest light. They were set up away from the window a bit. I wanted to take complete advantage of the mood and the atmosphere created by a soft sunrise not quite awake yet. I shot at ISO 200-400 and between F 2.8 and F 3.2 with a 35mm and a 50mm lens. I find a low ISO captures the moody darks perfectly. The low F-Stop also adds to the moody, dreamy,  feel but one must be careful to focus on the spot in the image that the eye would naturally be drawn to. The rest will be slightly out of focus, which is what you are going for. A steady hand or tripod is helpful as well.

Both the backdrop and tabletop were hand painted on MDF board cut to 24″x36″ for easy handling. I used Waverly craft paint available at Walmart, applied randomly in various colors with a paintbrush, then rubbed and softened with a piece of wax paper. Wax paper has been an amazing discovery! Perfect for this type of effect. One could essentially paint the piece entirely with wax paper.

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Spring Song

Birdsong
How I love its rich melody, pure joy!

It encourages me, cheers me on as if to say …
“The day is new and fresh, you can do whatever you set your heart to do.”

On certain days, one of their kind will single me out.
It might be the jay or the chickadee or sometimes the purple finch.
His song beckons me to reply, to stop – for more than a moment …
and respond in kind with conversation.

What do birds discuss?
Do they talk about the weather? I imagine so.
Do they tell of their plans in life, the difficulties they endure, the happy moments they remember? They must.

What is this one saying today?
Surely he must be telling me to “Cease the moment! Enjoy the day!” Revel in the glory of his song.

 

Spring Song - Renuko Style

 

Spring Song - Renuko Style

 

Spring Song - Renuko Style

 

Spring Song - Renuko Style

 

Spring Song - Renuko Style

 

Spring Song - Renuko Style

 

Spring Song - Renuko Style

 

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Spring Song - Renuko Style

 

I visited with a dear friend just yesterday. She will begin treatment next week, holding on to as many days of life as possible. There were four of us sitting at the kitchen table as we always have, birds feeders just outside the window waiting for the supper rush. Birds were all around us. Little ceramic birds, bird cards, bird art, bird spoons. She handed a metal one to my daughter, no bigger than a quail’s egg, and a small statue of a cardinal sitting upon a rose blossom to me, to keep and cherish and remind us of her.

We talked of birds of course, which ones we liked, ones who were bullies, ones who we love so much we now recognize their song. And of gardens once tended and in whose garden the yellow roses and bleeding hearts are in now.

We didn’t cry then, but we will. And we must.

And it amazes me so … how those who are weak, whether physically or emotionally … give us such strength from their ability to endure the most difficult of days. And I will be stronger then, when I hear that spring song.

Governed by the Seasons

I sit by the window, sun streaming in, brighter than before

I sit by the window, coffee in hand, begging it to protect me from chill winds finding it’s way through a crack in the door

I sit by the window, give way to dreaming, trying to cope

I crack open the window … earth awakens … at last there is hope!

 

Living in New England we are governed by the seasons. With each change comes a wrangling and a writhing unknown to those in more temperate climes. In the warm and bright days of summer, our mood is joyful, we raise our glass and celebrate its glory, revel in its bounty. As winter approaches we easily turn our attention to thoughts of calm relaxing days filled with hot chocolate and stillness, content to watch the snow softly fall from the sky.

I began to realize just how much my mood was affected by the seasons when I lived in Northern Baja. The days there were quite consistent for most of the year. From March to November one could pretty much count on the same thing every day. No need for the weather man. No need to look and judge his prediction. After 5o years or more of wild, unpredictable extremes in the Northeast it was a welcome respite.

Still life photography enlightened me even more. I’ve studied the light coming in my kitchen window throughout the seasons over the last few years. The quality of the light will change the choices I make, which items I choose, the colors I gravitate to, my camera settings. I cannot help but find my mood reflected in my work. Usually pleased with the results, the mood seems appropriate to the season.

Come March, a whole other animal is present. It is a season in itself, unlike any other. It’s wonky and weird. Sometimes hopeful with spring-like days, other times wild and unexpected, blizzards and below 0 temperatures. It’s impossible to feel calm and settled in March. And although I have made my peace with it, I am not in love it. The light is constantly changing and I feel equally as wonky and weird as the weather, fidgety, anxious, desperate for spring.

Why does something so unpleasant precede such beauty? I won’t pretend to understand it.

 

Governed by the Seasons - Renuko Style - Photography by Karen Olson

 

Governed by the Seasons - Renuko Style - Photography by Karen Olson

 

Governed by the Seasons - Renuko Style - Photography by Karen Olson

 

Governed by the Seasons - Renuko Style - Photography by Karen Olson

 

Governed by the Seasons - Renuko Style - Photography by Karen Olson

 

Governed by the Seasons - Renuko Style - Photography by Karen Olson

 

Governed by the Seasons - Renuko Style - Photography by Karen Olson

 

Governed by the Seasons - Renuko Style - Photography by Karen Olson

 

Governed by the Seasons - Renuko Style - Photography by Karen Olson

 

Governed by the Seasons - Renuko Style - Photography by Karen Olson

 

Governed by the Seasons - Renuko Style - Photography by Karen Olson

Creative Photography – Recipe for Creative Flow

“If you fall in love with the imagination, you understand that it is a free spirit, it will go anywhere.”
~Alice Walker

 

First, comes inspiration – a spark, a muse, a thought beyond reason.

Next,  comes awakening – a moment of beauty or insight that pushes one to action, an awareness of new possibilities, the clarity to see our vision at its completion.

Then, we fall in love – with the idea of actualization, with the dream of bringing that to vision to reality.

 

“Highly motivated creative people fall in love with an image of themselves as a person who will do whatever it takes to achieve their dreams – and this identification becomes, in a way, a self-fulfilling prophecy.” *

 

We often view the creative work of others at a gallery or a museum or on Instagram and remark, “I wish I were that talented!”

In fact, you truly are.

Think about it. Can you remember a time when you were so involved in something that the world around you all but disappeared, the cares of the day evaporated and all that remained was you, your mind and body on automatic, engrossed in your activity? It could have been a sport, cooking, hiking, even decorating. What was different about that moment?

Many who write about creative process call it flow. What happens neurologically is that we become of two minds, both our conscious and nonconscious minds are operating at once. We are aware of our surroundings but are not distracted by it. The nonconscious mind, or how we behave when we actively engage in spontaneous thinking, using intuition, emotion, and skill, is taking charge. If allowed to continue for an extended period of time, this state of being can be euphoric, taking us to places in our imagination we never thought possible.

Can we create an environment for that creative flow to happen? Yes! I have done it many times!! It is a wonderful process for shooting creative photography.

Below I have prepared for you a recipe for creative flow. For this recipe, I used my own creative photography process but it can apply to any creative activity you desire to be engaged in. It’s not difficult really, but there a few key ingredients.

 

Recipe for Creative Flow

  1. Set aside a block of time, preferably 2-4 hours, less is not enough, more is too much, preferably the time of day you are at your best. You must be alone in your space.
  2. Turn off and shut out all distracting buttons, beeps, and notifications.
  3. Collect together your materials. Using your inspiration, bring together what you will need to realize your vision. For the shoot below, I gathered orchids (my inspiration), a collection of similar fabrics (in this case, light weight linens), my prop door and backdrop boards, and camera with both my 500mm and 35mm F1.8 lenses. I also gathered lifts made of wood to put under the cloth and raise the orchids to various heights. I did not use a tripod as it hinders spontaneity and rapid movement.
  4. Add stimulants. Possible stimulants could include green, white or hibiscus tea, a latte, a green smoothie, anything to drink that gives you a boost and is outside your normal routine.
  5. Add music. Plug in the earbuds. Having your music of choice pumping directly into your brain aids in nonconscious thinking. I personally prefer something energizing and driving. I want my mojo revved.
  6. Begin. Don’t think too hard about it, just start and then continue and continue some more. Take shots straight on, looking up, looking down, close up and far away. Move the props a hair, turn them this way or that. Change the backdrop, the lighting, add something, then take something away. Work up a sweat – fling open the windows. Work until you are exhausted.
  7. Reflect. Remember how good it felt to be unplugged and unhinged, to let your imagination fly! Do not focus on results, focus on the joy of the process. If you do, you will desire to experience that free-spirited creative flow again and again.

 

No doubt you will find you’ve created something you love, or at the very least, you had an aha moment or discovered a new technique. Do this every week for 6 months or even 3 months and you will be amazed at what you are able to accomplish. It really is about the process, but after all, in the end, we want something to show for our concentrated efforts and believe me, you will!

 

Creative Photography - Recipe for creative flow - Renuko Style

 

Creative Photography - Recipe for creative flow - Renuko Style

 

Creative Photography - Recipe for creative flow - Renuko Style

 

Creative Photography - Recipe for creative flow - Renuko Style

 

Creative Photography - Recipe for Creative Flow - Renuko Style

 

Creative Photography - Recipe for creative flow - Renuko Style

 

Creative Photography - Recipe for creative flow - Renuko Style

 

Creative Photography - Recipe for Creative Flow - Renuko Style

 

Creative Photography - Recipe for Creative Flow - Renuko Style

 

*Quotes from the book ‘Wired to Create,’ by Scott Barry Kaufman and Carolyn Gregoire which am still reading and totally love.

 

 

 

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Online Still Life Photography Classes

Well, it’s getting a bit easier. Just a bit. When I decided to create online still life photography classes I had no idea what I was getting into, the skill set needed was way beyond my comfort zone. But I had a mission and it was going to happen and it did. As with any other creative endeavor, once you push past the painful, uncomfortable feeling of fear, it turns to joy!

I am happy to announce that I have posted two new online photography classes in addition to my first one on Skillshare.
The first one is:
Fabulous Photography for Instagram: Dreamy Backlit Scenes
The next two are:
Fabulous Photography for Instagram: Dreamy Backlit Scenes: Adding Detail
and
Fabulous Photography for Instagram: Dreamy Backlit Scenes: From Above

This completes the series of three on back light that I intended to create from the outset. I would love it if you would go and watch my intro video for both of these. (It feels like I am a little more comfortable in front of the camera. Now that was way past my comfort zone!)

Have you checked out some of the other classes on Skillshare? It’s a growing community of super talented creatives with all kinds of cool classes. I am honored to be a part of it. It is now my go-to resource for all things techy and artistic.

Some of my favorites are:

Botanical Line Drawing by Peggy Dean

Digitizing Calligraphy by Molly Suber Thorp

Graphic Design Basics – Core Principals for Visual Design by Ellen Lupton

That last one is a free class. There are quite a few free classes on Skillshare actually.

Make sure to go and check them out when you get a chance.

Enjoy!

 

Online still life photography classes - Renuko Style

 

 

 

Have you checked out all the classes available on

Abundance

It’s only when we live without, we realize we have so much.

I’m sure there are a few Pinterest quotes out there on the subject. So true, isn’t it? Whether it be gourmet foods, designer clothing, photography props, or any number of first world desires, living without has a way of making us better. Many artists past and present believe that restricting oneself to a limited palette or few materialsA. Even so, we often find ourselves lamenting what we do not have with a sullen, childlike pout, giving way to a whine.

I actually felt kind of silly when I caught myself whining about not having fresh flowers to photograph. “Really Karen, you are going to whine about that!” After all, I wasn’t surviving on 3 for a dollar packs of English muffins or losing my apartment and having to move in with my in-laws. Flowers are desired yes, essential no. It is winter and we live in the out in the sticks.

Ingenuity kicked in at the grocery store in the produce section. Displayed in a very mundane way was a selection of fruits from far away lands, some as far away as Florida, others Mexico, still others Chile. I excitedly gathered up whatever caught my eye, staying within a particular color palette.

The resulting photo shoot amazed me. I was able to put together a collection that rivaled a summer harvest. Citrus, nuts (including coconut) and dried grasses, that’s all it took to create stills with the feel of an abundant gathering. Again, it was a reminder that I really do have so much, even when I think I don’t. After all, I have access to fruits from half a world away!

I have lived with little in my lifetime, some years I had much. Looking back, it was the years with little that I did my best work. In his book, The Courage to Create (one of my all time favorite creativity books), Rolly May describes it this way, under the heading ‘Form as a limitation in creativity;’

“… it is an aid to finding new meaning, a stimulus to condensing your meaning, to simplifying and purifying it, and to discovering on a more universal dimension the essence you wish to express.”

Simply put, limitation in creative work helps us zero in on our goal.

I believe it is generally true in life as well. The less we have the more we know what we really need.

 

Living with less - Renuko Style

 

Living with less - Renuko Style

 

Living with less - Renuko Style

 

Living with less - Renuko Style

 

Living with less - Renuko Style

 

Living with less - Renuko Style

 

Living with less - Renuko Style

 

Living with less - Renuko Style

 

Living with less - Renuko Style

 

In case you haven’t had a chance to see it yet, the documentary ‘Minimalism‘ is now trending on Netflix. A must see.