an everyday photo, every day | photography • art • poetry

  • Spider in web
  • pastel painting of woods on back road
  • black and white, lao tzu
  • brickwork church facade
  • door with ivy
  • chicory
  • spider among flowers
  • rainbow
  • grapevine
  • mist in moonlight

Latest

Catching the Sun

Spider in web

Colorful Spider

Lots of spiders around! This spider looks as iridescent as its silk. This photo was pretty challenging as there was a slight breeze blowing and the spider had one support for its web attached to my porch swing. On top of that the sunlight only shines here in dapples, so I had to wait for everything to line up: sun dapple and lack of breeze and swing standing still, AND my camera to be focused all at the same time. I took a lot of photos. Glad for digital.

Spider in web

Spider in a Sling

Spider in web

Dramatic Spider

Spider in web

From Above

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All images in this post are copyright © Bernadette E. Kazmarski and may not be used without prior written permission.

A Little Mist

water droplets on plant

City Lights

After a very heavy rain, mist hung in the air and my little wandering jew looked like a wonderland of magic or terror as droplets of mist collect on all the hairs on the leaves, and on the tiny web between two leaves. Above is “City Lights”, looking like a maze of lights in a city at night; below is “Tribulation”, appearing like the entrance to a dangerous place.

water droplets on plant

Tribulation

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All images in this post are copyright © Bernadette E. Kazmarski and may not be used without prior written permission.

A Bend in the Road

pastel painting of woods on back road

“A Bend in the Road”, pastel, 14″ x 22″ © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

Back in early June, on a lovely sunny day just about noon, I was leaving a morning event and on errands traveling the back roads just for fun, knowing this narrow back road had some wonderful spots. The trees had finally reached full cover in the woods and all along the trails and I simply could not get enough.

Then I saw this spot and hit the brakes, gasping with awe at the complicated beauty of nature, the shapes and colors, the sun and shadow, the straight-up height of the trees along the road, arching far overhead, the road bending ahead as if you were to enter a magical place. I knew I should have carried my art materials! There was no one but me on this road so I took a few photos through my windshield, then put the car in park, shut off the engine with flashers flashing and stood in the middle of the road to take photos, barefoot and listening, smelling, feeling, taking in as much of the spot as I could to remember. The light would change significantly if I were to run home and come back, the moment gone. I also knew I’d see a few other special places today, and vowed if the time came I would return and paint en plein air, but if I could not I would remember it all when I used the photos for a painting.

Often I wait years to do a painting, but in front of everything I’ve worked on for the past month has been this spot and the painting I had visualized, and something a little larger than what I’d been doing lately. Weekends were rainy, so I decided to start from a photo, then finish from memory and referencing the trees outside my windows for the closer details.

This painting is 14″ x 22″ and painted in pastel, mostly Sennelier but also a few Rembrandts and a few others I have on hand for special greens, on 2-ply acid-free natural illustration board. The illustration board with no added finish was an experiment—I am accustomed to working on Wallis sanded pastel, but that’s been difficult to find, and I want to be able to do sketches and paintings on other surfaces. I’m a little disappointed as I couldn’t layer and blend as usual, but really, no one knows that but me to look at it.

Click any image to find out more about it or visit my Landscapes and Still Lifes Gallery. If you’d like to sign up to receive this e-newsletter, which I usually deliver seasonally, click here to add your e-mail address.

See other original art and landscapes on “Today”

Click here to see an archive of original art.

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For a print of any photo, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.

All images in this post are copyright © Bernadette E. Kazmarski and may not be used without prior written permission.

A Good Traveler

black and white, lao tzu

“A Good Traveler”

“A good traveler has no fixed plans,
and is not intent on arriving.”

~Lao-Tzu in Chapter 27 of the Tao te Ching, tr. Stephen Mitchell

It doesn’t mean you make no plans, just that you allow them to change.

These geese look like a bunch of tourists ambling along, and yet on that day, July 10, 2013, we had had heavy rains and our creek, their home, had nearly topped its banks. They had fled the water and the banks and were up in the parking lot and on the streets for safety, yet they were being calm and collected, for a bunch of geese, while the humans were racing around predicting a flood that was not likely to arrive, though it looked imminent.

But aside from that lesson, I’ve always liked the photo of the geese.

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For a print of any photo, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.

All images in this post are copyright © Bernadette E. Kazmarski and may not be used without prior written permission.

Brickwork

brickwork church facade

Brickwork

From the sidewalk to the sky and from facade to interior door this church makes a statement in brick work.

All that red makes a nice statement too.

On Pittsburgh’s North Side.

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For a print of any photo, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.

All images in this post are copyright © Bernadette E. Kazmarski and may not be used without prior written permission.

Forgotten Entrance

door with ivy

Forgotten Entrance

This once stately entrance appears to be forgotten, though it’s actually the front door of the home. It’s on one of the lovely brownstones on Pittsburgh’s North Side.

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For a print of any photo, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.

All images in this post are copyright © Bernadette E. Kazmarski and may not be used without prior written permission.

Chicory

chicory

Chicory Field

I love the individual flowers, but this field of chicory was very calming in gentle sunlight.

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For a print of any photo, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.

All images in this post are copyright © Bernadette E. Kazmarski and may not be used without prior written permission.

Spider Dance

spider among flowers

Spider Dance

You just never know what you’ll get in the background of a black and yellow spider on a summer afternoon. The multi-colored octagonal bokeh behind this spider makes me think of a mirror ball. It’s the refractions of pink and white flowers and dappled leaves set against deep shadows.

Spiders don’t “hang” in the most convenient places. This colorful one had built its orb on the lower branches of several plants in a garden leading to a shaded area, a great place to catch insects as they fly through to nesting areas. The spider is hanging underneath its orb, from the center. I could not get in a position close enough to use my 50mm with the 2.5X adapter that would blend the background into a smooth marbled pattern so I had to use the 70-300mm, hanging sideways and upper body slightly lifted off the ground, doing my best to hold that long lens, fully extended, still for a clear photo. I was immediately grateful for years of yoga practice that developed my abdominal muscles to let me hold myself in this awkward position, as the breeze wafted and shook the web, lifting it up and down, waiting between each little gust. To my neighbors I’m sure I looked like I’d passed out on the sidewalk. But they know my ways.

It never really did stop moving so I didn’t get the closeup I’d wanted, but I liked the bokeh so much I could live with that. Hope the spider likes it. I believe it is a black and yellow garden spider.

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For a print of any photo, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.

All images in this post are copyright © Bernadette E. Kazmarski and may not be used without prior written permission.

And After the Storm

rainbow

And After the Storm

Out of a seemingly clear sky suddenly rain began to fall. I know that always means a rainbow, and I knew just where it would be.

My neighbor came out to photograph it and said it had looked much brighter from the top of the hill. I told him its brightness depended on your perspective—literally, it depends on the angle from which you look at a rainbow.

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For a print of any photo, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.

All images in this post are copyright © Bernadette E. Kazmarski and may not be used without prior written permission.

It’s Complicated

grapevine

It’s Complicated

At a loss for something to twine around, the grapevine hugs itself.

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For a print of any photo, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.

All images in this post are copyright © Bernadette E. Kazmarski and may not be used without prior written permission.

 

Thunder Moon

mist in moonlight

Moonrise

In 2006 I was still lugging around a few film cameras that could capture what my first little 2MP point-and-shoot digital could not. I’d been working with a number of local and larger land conservation groups for years and had a literal field day photographing and painting those beautiful areas as they recovered from industrial or other use, or were simply conserved as overgrown land that housed an ecosystem all their own.

mist in moonlight

Softened Layers

At the same time I was canoeing Chartiers Creek, sometimes for work but usually for fun, and from early morning until night I saw incredibly lovely scenes that I couldn’t catch in a moving canoe. I vowed to return some time to capture as many as I could in different areas.

mist in moonlight

Sentinels

I was familiar with Wingfield Pines as a large flood plain conservation area and also for its access to the creek, and I remembered at one evening event watching the moon rise over the ridge to the east, so when I got the idea to photograph the moon rising in summer using black and white film I chose that destination. Next full moon available was the Thunder Moon in July.

mist in moonlight

Mist in the Trees

Though it was a clear night, a mist rose with the moon. These were shot with film, and while I had my notes from a test session on a night with a partial moon, and from photographing the moon at other times, I knew the mist was a variable I couldn’t control, and I might possible end up with just a bunch of blur because the mist was moving across the open field, not hanging in the air like a fog.

mist in moonlight

Moonlight Through the Pines

When I got the photos back I was so disappointed at not being able to get the clarity I’d remembered in the moon and the surroundings that I put them away for a bit, then got them back out and decided I liked them for what they were. In fact, I find them quite magical. A few of them I like very much.

mist in moonlight

Path Across the Creek

And because a few of canoeing buddies didn’t want me wandering around on a full moon night in an isolated area alone, or walking in the creek with my camera gear and no one else around, they joined me.

mist in moonlight

Aliens

I truly need a better scanner, but since this is a “supermoon” month, I’ve decided to scan and share them anyway.

Moon-1000px

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For a print of any photo, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.

All images in this post are copyright © Bernadette E. Kazmarski and may not be used without prior written permission.

Cloaking, Clothing and Fireworks

memories of mother, butterfly on phlox

Cloaking, Clothing and Fireworks

When I began this blog I had intended to use it for the occasional essay; well, more than occasional, I had also wanted to encourage myself to write more essays and short stories more frequently, especially as I was in the thick of caring for my mother in her declining years. It was that very caregiving that kept me from taking the time to write. I’ve been drafting articles, and rather than go back the beginning to catch up with issues in the order in which they arose, I am beginning now.

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I was in K-Mart the other day, just a quick run for a fan they had on sale, one item, intentionally going near closing time so I’d be in and out. I walked in the store and stopped to get my bearings, trying to remember the department the fans would be in and the quickest way to get there.

I walked right into the thick of sleeveless summer tops in gingham with white collars, striped tank tops, colorful crinkle cotton capri pants with an elastic waistband in the women’s clothing department right by the front door. Without taking a step toward them I assessed the style, the quality and the size, and my eye wandered over it all, putting outfits together for my mother.

Though she died in 2011, I still catch myself subconsciously shopping for her as I did for most of the decade she lived at home or in personal care after her lung cancer surgery, often too ill or unwilling to go out. I would take her shopping seasonally when she felt well enough, or we would stop at one store or another after a doctor appointment. Most of the time, though I am not a frequent shopper, I would pick up things for her as I saw them in my own shopping trips, like this one to K-Mart, drawn to a rack of clothes tailored a particular way. “Wow,” I’d think to myself, “Mom would love this.”

I knew my mother’s taste, very different from my own flowered skirts and bright colors and my inability to wear white or even solid colors for they’d quickly have some art materials or house paint or grass stains. My mother could wear all white without a spot, and preferred pants and more fitted and somewhat tailored clothes, kind of a business casual, sometimes with a bright accent color thrown in for effect. Even with fewer choices while living in personal care, her outfit would be just so, the hem on her capris rolled into a tiny cuff, the white collar on her orange and white gingham top standing up just a bit, and a white cardigan sweater draped just casually her shoulders, arms swinging free.

But when I visited she would not be wearing the outfit I had purchased, often in more than one size in case the first choice didn’t fit. There was always something wrong with the clothes I chose and took to her with such excitement. “Mom, look what I found!”

Instead, I returned the things I’d bought, capris, tops, cardigans, socks, underwear, there was always something just not right about them. Or she would accept an item, then later tell me it wasn’t right, after I’d taken off all the tags and written her name inside the collar or waistband so that it would be identified in the laundry, and couldn’t be returned. Yet I would often find her in a similar outfit that someone else had kindly purchased for her, one of the care workers who especially liked her.

Whatever, at least she had new clothes, and I would do my best to reimburse the person who’d bought them. I had ideas but never figured this out, and I don’t think my mother did either, though I think we both knew it didn’t have much to do with the clothes themselves. I tried to give my mother more than clothes, and she didn’t readily accept that either, yet I was the one she had turned to, even when I was a child. Through the years, the only gift I found that suited her was to purchase a flat of flowers and plant them for her for Mother’s Day each year.

Where the clothes were concerned, even though I knew she would likely decide the clothes didn’t suit her, I still bought them, and we would go through the same little drama each time. I simply could not go without making the effort; at the time I whined whenever I got the chance, but now, for the most part, I’ve forgotten the drama and only remember the excitement of finding something I thought she would like.

And here I am today, still putting outfits together for her. Still trying to please my mother? I think it had just become a habit, and somehow, even though she rarely accepted any of these findings from me, I knew underneath her difficult exterior she liked what I’d bought but found things hard to accept. As time went on and her eyesight gave in to macular degeneration and she could not see the stains and wear on her favorite clothes, she still dressed the same, or thought she did. The aides at the places she lived made sure to cajole her to wear something else when they knew we were going out.

My mother would have been 89 years old today, July 7, 2014. We often celebrated her birthday when we celebrated July 4, with a big cookout on her beloved in-ground gas grill and later watch the fireworks. We lived at the top of a hill and could see not only our own municipal fireworks from the park below but also other displays from many other communities around us. People would often come to our street to watch the fireworks, and cars would stop on the interstate on the other side of the valley to watch the display as well, and each year we would remark on how many cars we could see pulled over onto the berm to watch and how unfair it was as cars with flashing red and blue lights would move in and make them disperse.

On my way home from K-Mart, I drove that stretch of interstate and saw the fireworks display in progress, and I was one of those cars who pulled over. I’m not so interested in fireworks, but they added a grand finale to a day of memories.

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I posted on July 4 a photo from my garden of a female Tiger Swallowtail butterfly in her black form. This dark cloaking mimics the poisonous Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly, and predators have adapted to avoid them, so the black form female Tiger Swallowtail keeps herself safe though she is not at all dangerous.

The day was quiet and for some reason full of memories and contemplation as I worked in my garden and yard, and seeing a butterfly, which I’ve always associated with the spirits of loved ones, was not a surprise in those circumstances. Continuing the day to the clothing and the fireworks, I realized the butterfly, at least to me, represented my mother, who wore a cloak of personality to protect herself from perceived dangers, including me. I have my ideas why, but I am glad she is finally where she doesn’t need to protect herself anymore.

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