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Posts tagged “cats

On An Adventure

On An Adventure
On An Adventure

On An Adventure

“Every day should be an adventure. Mimi and I explored a small section of the neighbor’s yard.”

I posted this on Facebook this morning, and decided it needed its own post rather than added into another. I like the composition right away, Mimi walking through a passage or sorts; I had posted one like this earlier this year as well. I love those two trees, the one with the “toes” is a maple and the other is a tulip poplar, each at least 70 feet tall, and I study them all the time, looking at them out my kitchen window and door in all seasons, and sketched and photographed that little scooped opening through the trees. Because they are so tall it’s very shady in my yard, but the neighbor’s yard in the morning is full of sun and the contrast adds to the feel of a passageway. When I saw her heading there I positioned myself to get the angle I wanted, then followed her. Then the first of the colored autumn leaves with the rich green of summer, the rough bark of the trees, the light, and little Mimi going fearlessly into new territory. Well, sort of. She still knows the neighborhood pretty well. Adding the vignette shading around the outside just added to it. I may do something with this at some time.

And some days I just have too many photos and have to post more.

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All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.

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The Huntress

Just look for the eyes.

Just look for the eyes.

On a quiet afternoon the garden was full of excitement.

You can't see her, surely.

You can’t see her, surely.

For several years before moving in here Mimi hunted for food for her babies. Now that she’s a pampered princess she still likes to indulge now and then, just to keep in shape.

Something is over there.

Something is over there.

Nothing escapes her notice.

Well disguised.

Well disguised.

Nothing was harmed while photographing—Mimi was only practicing.

Capturing these photos between the blades of grass and sometimes confusing light and shadows and moving blades of grass was my own hunting expedition for the afternoon.


See more feline photos on www.TheCreativeCat.net. All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.



Wishful Thinking

Violets in spring grass.
Violets in spring grass.

Violets in spring grass.

“Our life is shaped by our mind, for we become what we think.”

~Gautama Buddha, The Dhammapada as translated by Eknath Easwaran

I’ve never been one to be dissatisfied with the season at hand. What’s the point? I’ll put my energies to more productive activities, or like Moses napping below, taken in March 2004, I’ll just enjoy what is for what it has to offer and learn from that.

Moses napping on the sun-warmed boards of the deck.

Moses napping on the sun-warmed boards of the deck.

But I will admit near the end of a season I am decidedly looking forward to the change to the next one. I have always enjoyed the changing of the seasons. I am intensely visual and even indoors I become visually bored with colors and patterns so I thank nature for providing me with a reason to wear different clothes, participate in different activities and see things in both a real and virtual different light. I also then have a marker for memories by the season, or the weather, or what I was wearing, and many other details gathered and stored by my senses. And just as I have a way to perceive the past, I have a way to shape the future with the same means.

Contact print from March 2004 photos.

Contact print from March 2004 photos.

I’ve been following the seasons in my ongoing quest to work through three decades of photos on film to determine which ones to add to my collections, and with no small amount of wishful thinking this particular year I am anticipating spring, and in my photo collections I’ve come around to the sudden burst of colors I’ll soon see blooming in my yard. On just about each roll of 36 exposures there is at least one study of one of my cats, maybe just one photo of a special moment that marks it in time for me.

Cookie at the top of the stairs in spring sun.

Cookie at the top of the stairs in spring sun.

No doubt I appreciate now more fully what I see, be it clear or blurry, artsy or simply functional, than I did when first saw the contact prints and sorted through the prints themselves. At that time I was looking for what I saw when I took the photo, and often the image didn’t look at all like what I’d “seen”, what I’d “envisioned” when I set all the settings and hit the shutter. I often met with disappointment but just as often surprise as I discovered something I hadn’t planned that I thought was far better than what I had planned. Sometimes I took field notes on the mechanics of each shot, but usually not and I had to guess how to recreate the effect based on what I remembered, but so I learned through the years, reading, studying, and experimenting with lots of photos.

Native wild columbines, trying to capture their buoyant blooming habit.

Native wild columbines, trying to capture their buoyant blooming habit.

But now I have more years of experience at both taking photos and looking at them. As I would expect, my assessment has changed, evolved, as I have learned, seen, experienced, sharpened my vision and softened my expectations, both in photography and in life. Now when I look at these photos I see more clearly what is actually there, and less what I then thought could, should or would be there.

Namir studying me through the lace curtain; look for the ear.

Namir studying me through the lace curtain; look for the ear.

It’s perfectly fine that I’ve gone through this process, that I saw things as I did when I was younger and less knowledgeable but see things as I do now through a lens more clearly focused by experience. We roll around and squall before we crawl and babble, and there to toddling and talking. Learning and change is part of life. In the same way I have learned more and yet more about caring for my cats, and myself, and my garden, and new skills and preferences that didn’t even exist when I first set out on this journey.

Contact print from April 2004 photos.

Contact print from April 2004 photos.

And as I can look through that lens filtered with my collected experiences and see what is there, I can relive the memories gathered therein, remember the heat of Moses’s fur after she’d been absorbing the sun on the deck and how deeply I loved her in that moment of trust for a formerly feral cat, or exactly what Cookie’s face looked like fearing I might actually forget, and how she always made me smile inside and out, and she knew it too, Namir studying me through the lace curtain metaphorically hiding his feelings, and those spring mornings in my yard with each of them, hearing birds whistle, finding new flowers each day, finding new ways to capture, interpret and express all of it. I can also look through it for what could be there with new ideals and aspirations modifying my view, anticipating changes to make to achieve new effects or conclusions, trying a new technique or further perfecting one I’ve been learning, determining what materials I need to achieve my goal.

Our life is shaped by our mind, for we become what we think.”

Wishful thinking has never been a bad thing. I’m looking forward to a new spring of cats and flowers so that I can perceive and interpret these things with yet one more year of experience to filter my abilities and my creative endeavors.

A cardinal seen between the porch pillar and a tree.

A cardinal seen between the porch pillar and a tree.

I originally posted this essay on The Creative Cat.

For more feline photos, visit The Creative Cat.

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All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.

 


Vintage, or Not

Bella, Vintage 3

Bella, Vintage 3

(I thought I’d share a few of my recent photos from The Creative Cat.)

A vintage photo of Bella? But she’s not even a year old!

I’m not sure if I can promise this will be the last of these multiple posts with slideshows. The beauty of the sunlight, amplified by snow cover, simply overtook me and I couldn’t stop taking photos. Sometimes I caught some interesting effects.

These photos have a vintage feel, but obviously are not. The mirror I have on my bathroom door is vintage, well, it’s really just old. At one point it had been glued to either a frame or a wall, and the backing itself is in somewhat poor shape. I just wanted a mirror there to have a nearly full-length in the bathroom when I got dressed, and to make the room look larger, and I’ve never changed it. The door is a bi-fold, so depending on how the door folds it reflects different areas and different windows.

Bella, Vintage 2

Bella, Vintage 2

In this case, it’s folded far enough that I saw Bella’s reflection from outside the bathroom on top of the wardrobe, and all those nicks and dings and mis-reflections give the photos of Bella the feel and dulled color of a vintage photo. These are taken with my smartphone which I held against the mirror at an angle so that it would not be reflected but I would still be able to focus on Bella’s image. I intentionally caught the flaws in the mirror, which is also kind of cool, a little ghostly, and I moved the it up and down to capture different flawed areas for different effects.

Bella, Vintage 1

Bella, Vintage 1

I didn’t edit any of them at all. It was fun to see what came out.

For more feline photos, visit The Creative Cat.

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All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.


Le Matin Bleu

cat in silhouette
cat in silhouette

Le Matin Bleu

I believe it is Bella looking sculptural as a silhouette and graceful as an elongated shadow among all the geometric shapes and shadows of my kitchen in the morning.

The blue is because I left the incandescent light filter on in my DSLR, and this is what it does to natural daylight. I actually quite like it as a technique. I like monochromatic photos and duotones, which is technically what this is, black in the shadows and with all other colors tending in shades of blue.

Pourquoi Français? Because I already have a post or two entitled “Blue Morning”, and Mimi, Mewsette and I all have French names. Because, why not?

Seen first on The Creative Cat.

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All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.

 


Birdwatching

two black cats looking out a window
two black cats looking out a window

Birdwatching

Mimi and Mr. Sunshine keep an eye on the activities at the bird feeders as the snow swirls around outside their window. Is it birdwatching, or meditation, both, or do the mesmerizing movements of the birds and snow lead to a meditative state? They do for me, but perhaps I’m overthinking this.

This photo won a Certificate of Excellence as a Black & White Photo in the 2011 Cat Writers’ Association Communication Contest.

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All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.


Mewsette’s Minions

black cat with pumpkins
black cat with pumpkins

Mewse4tte and her minions.

You many not know that I have five rescued black cats, just by chance–they are all related. Right now I also have two foster kittens who are also–black! Halloween is a great day for us. You’re going to see a few more photos, and you can also join us on The Creative Cat for more every day!

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Awake, my minions, it’s Halloween! You know the plan—world domination by black cats via Halloween pumpkins! For every pumpkin a black cat! Now, go forth and find homes, and at midnight you will each become a black cat waiting in a shelter for a forever home!

We could only wish finding homes for black cats was that simple and fun. But tomorrow, you could go out and adopt a black cat from a shelter or rescue, even if you don’t have a pumpkin in your yard tonight! Think of the beauty of Mimi and her children and Emeraude, and consider adopting a black cat for your Halloween treat!

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I first published this in 2010 under the title “Help, Mom’s Gone Crazy” because Mewsette and all the other beautiful black cats couldn’t figure out what I wanted them to do with the pumpkins!

I just can’t figure out what she wants me to do but it has something to do with these pumpkins! Sometimes mom gets these crazy ideas and she chases us around the house and tries to get us to do things that we don’t understand, and she’s been after us with these pumpkins for days. I can’t wait till Halloween is over and mom gets back to normal!

Yesterday while mom was working on her computer I saw a few kitties wearing silly costumes. It’s just a really good thing she didn’t try that, and that’s all I’ll say on that subject.

You many not know that I have five rescued black cats, just by chance–they are all related. Right now I also have two foster kittens who are also–black! Halloween is a great day for us.


My Shadow Self

cat shadow
cat shadow

My Shadow Self

My black kitty Mimi greets her shadow cast in a pool of sunlight The light shining through old wavy glass creates a subtle pattern of shadow and light that resembles water mingled with the gentle striations of pale wood grain. Is it water, or is it light? Or is it an illusion? Does Mimi look at her darker self, or just the self she has become at age 11 after six early litters of kittens, life on the streets, rescue and life in a safe and comfortable home? I think I feel a poem coming on.

It’s challenging enough to photograph black cats, let alone in high-contrasting sun and shadow, and when there are as many as five if the whole family is together, but this is one I love.

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


Be In Your Own Moment

Be in your own moment.

Be in your own moment.

Jelly Bean is certainly enjoying a moment of his own making here atop the wardrobe. It began all on its own as he gave himself a bath then began rolling around and talking to himself, unaware, unconcerned, that anyone was watching or listening.

I enjoyed watching him, then picked up my camera with the telephoto lens and had a moment of my own in photographing him in his moment, using the light, the curtain, the lenses, focusing here and there and changing the f-stop and exposure as I pleased, the actions over the years I’ve come to call “painting with my camera”. I had no post-processing on this photo, it is what it is, and I’m pretty happy with it, as I think Jelly Bean was also very happy with his moment.

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This image and post began with quite a different plan from what is here. The journey itself was a lesson, and led me to “Be in your own moment” by being in my own moment.

I began with a quote I’d seen in a meme on Facebook:

If you are depressed, you are living in the past.
If you are anxious, you are living in the future.
If you are at peace, you are living in the present.
~Lao Tzu, Tao te Ching

I liked this quote, it spoke to me on many levels, and I find it, basically, to be true, especially the part about living in the present. I enjoy reading several translations of the Tao te Ching, and always find something that speaks to me at that moment. I decided that I would use these words to make my own meme someday, and even had the idea to use a photo of Mewsette in a position similar to JB, picturing the black and white photo with its focus on Mewsette’s eye and the softened reflection of the lace curtain in the mirror, and relished the thought of choosing the font and putting the image together. I don’t enjoy graphic design as much as I used to, but I try to put aside time for fun things a few times a week to give myself a reward for designing the things that aren’t as much fun as they used to be. Before Facebook these memes were just called “quotes” and were often available as posters, and I designed plenty and also hand lettered quite a few in my years as a graphic designer, to give myself experience and something fun to do with this medium.

I pulled up Mewsette’s photo and the quote and drafted a bit of text comparing my being in the moment and how I enjoy my felines being in the moment, figuring this would be quick and fun and I’d have been done this morning. Before I’ll use a quote I will trace it back to its source. The source for this quote was not Lao Tzu, nor the Tao te Ching. It wasn’t even an alternate translation of anything in the Tao te Ching. In fact, I found it in an article about misappropriated quotes from the Tao te Ching that’s pretty funny, and looked through various translations to find something that might correspond so I could get to the original. No luck. Well, someone had taken quite a few liberties with words. That was okay, I still liked what the quote had to say, and knew of another similar one from Henry David Thoreau I’d seen in another meme that would work for the concept of being in the moment and looking within yourself.

What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lives within us.
~Henry David Thoreau

Sigh. This was actually said by someone else as I found on a page of Thoreau mis-quotations. It’s still a nice quote, but…no.

Facebook memes aren’t the culprit—this sort of misuse of another’s words happened with posters and greeting cards and calendars before the internet even existed. So here was the lesson, and it’s one I should have known: I was trying to use someone else’s inspiration, words, moment, to express something I felt deeply myself. I had been inspired by the meme and the quote, but was warned twice about not looking deeply enough into myself to express my own self, a lesson I learned with both art and writing. Be inspired by others, but find your own means of expression. It’s the sincerity that counts and I was not being sincere. I thought of all the art and writing I’ve been creating and knew the kernel of its success—getting to that space where I am completely within my own inspiration and working toward that end. I was in my own moment. I remembered the photo above and how much enjoyment Bean was getting all by himself. He may have seen me photographing him—cats don’t miss much and later in the session he turned and looked at me—but I was just another element on the periphery of his moment, he wasn’t looking at the world upside down because of me. As, when I was photographing him, was he, even though he was the subject and the reason I began photographing, but he led me to the pursuit of an image, my own unique visual voice describing what I felt was the depth of that moment for me.

The pursuit of the first quote led me to this conclusion, and the pursuit of the second quote led me back to myself, and my own words, and Jelly Bean finished it all off.

And here is part of the other reason for this post today as well.

It’s easy to be in the moment when you’re a feline living in a loving home since the humans take care of many things for you. But isn’t that part of the lesson? Find the place where you belong, surround yourself with supportive people and circumstances so that you can live in your moment?

When I make my art and when I write I am in the moment with what I’m doing, often not particularly aware of my surroundings, in part because I’ve set myself up for that moment so that I can let go. I do this at other times as well, usually around my creative life, and also around mundanities, like washing dishes. It’s a break from the constant push and pull of what is and what needs to be. And it’s very welcome when I’m feeling trapped in a situation, stuck in traffic or embroiled a long-term issue, to let it go and be in the moment without holding the past and future one in each hand. Watching my cats reminds me of that.

And the other lesson in all of this is perhaps a bit of pride, that I thought I’d be a half hour at this yet it took a few hours off and on during the day to look up the quote and then determine that I was really intended to do my own thing. And in that pursuit I was in yet another creative moment, my own moment, letting go of past and future and focusing on “now”. It’s all just cycling in on itself and it’s exciting when things come together like that.

wild black cherry tree

The wild black cherry tree.

I don’t always live in the moment, in fact a good bit of what I do is plan for the future. Worry, or being anxious as the first quote had mentioned, is another thing entirely. Worry is unproductive and does not solve problems, only holds onto them. But the other big thing that took my time today was taking care of an issue with a tree in my yard and by extension several of them.

One of my trees was hit by lightning in storms we had last night, while I was out. I didn’t see it when I came home after dark, but I certainly noticed this morning when I came downstairs and looked out the side window and saw way more sky than I should have. The entire top of my wild black cherry tree is laying in my neighbor’s yard, neatly falling right in their small yard and mercifully missing their porch, main roof and shed; they were the ones who told me lightning had struck it. A large branch is also in my yard, but more than that I was concerned that more violent storms were forecast and the tree might be unsound, and could split and fall on their house or mine. I called a customer of mine who owns a tree service company (I painted his trucks and construction signs 28 years ago when he went into business), and asked him to take a look at it, and also a few of my other trees that have been dropping branches and creaking in the wind. It looks like I’ll be losing a few of my trees here, the big old ones that are getting sparse already anyway.

I love my trees, they are my friends and protectors, the wall that gives me privacy in this tightly constructed neighborhood. My habitat will be changing, and it will be an expense. But not to worry, time to plan and planning is exciting, change can be a positive thing as well. My maples have had good long lives, and I will have the opportunity to change the front of my home to something new.


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All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.


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Textures in Sun

Textures and Shadows

Textures in Sun

Three black cats share a sunbeam, Mr. Sunshine, Giuseppe and Mewsette.

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For a print of any photo, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms. For photos of lots of black cats and other cats—and even some birds as I first published this post there—visit The Creative Cat.