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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

how does one become a butterfly?

mouse over to see the original

Dear "Enna," on the brink of your hope-filled journey to health:

You are my little butterfly, with elegant wings tattooed on your delicate porcelain skin, right between your shoulder blades...where logic would dictate they would be attached.

I never really thought about it until recently, but sometimes it takes courage to hope - especially in a dire situation. It is so much easier to give in to despair. It's safe there. No risk of disappointment.

It also takes an iron will. To persist. To persevere. To get up after you stumble and fall...and to keep going.

You've got what it takes - already wired into you from birth. Also known as Stubborn in other situations. Hard-headed. Single-minded. Determined.

Don't forget...I have known you longer than any other person. Twenty-two years + nine months to be exact.

Only God knows you better. You are my child...and His. And whether you believe it or not, He is still right there with you at every turn. Always.

H.O.P.E.
Hang On. Pain Ends.

xoxo
Mimi

***
Next Tuesday I will accompany Erin and her fiancĂ© to L.A., where we will meet with  Dr. Matia Brizman, who will be treating Erin in the coming months.
***
Linking up with Beyond Beyond and Texture Tuesday.

This silver butterfly brooch belonged to my maternal grandmother, Edna Swanson Toomey. When I saw it among my mother's jewelry, I chose it for Erin, who has for years been attracted to butterflies - both for their natural beauty and for their philosophical significance.

I had a real time of it with this seemingly simple still life. It was fun...but challenging. Initially I shot this from above, with not much thought of light, beyond adjusting my camera settings to get a 'good' shot. After playing with the image in Lightroom, following Kim's tutorial on a matte finish, and applying some textures in CS6...I let it go for a day, planning to upload and write the accompanying blog post. 

The image was okay. Just okay.

Then I happened to be reading in David duChemin's Photographically Speaking how to both be aware of and consciously use light to make a stronger image: an image that communicates my intent, my vision. I realized that I had dropped the ball: my image was flat and lifeless...because I had not asked what David says are "two of the most important questions you can ask - mindfully, intentionally - as you look throught the viewfinder:
     1. What is the light doing in this frame?
     2. Is it doing what I need in order to create the photograph I want?"

 Definitely not what I had envisioned for this photo, or this subject: Hope in the midst of darkness.

As they say: back to the drawing board. I set up the shot again, this time determined to better communicate my intent instead of just 'taking a picture.'

photo taken with my iPod Touch

After setting things up with the ceiling light on, I turned off the light and played with assorted slow shutter speeds, ISO (all the way down to 100 so that I could play up the light-dark contrast and use multi-second exposures) and shining the flashlight in different directions/angles to play up the luminous, dimensional qualities of the brooch, as well as moving the light source during the long exposure to try and imply a sense of fluttering movement (I stumbled upon this effect accidentally and liked it.)

At some point in all this it dawned on me that I was being true to my One Little Word Challenge...that word being 'Light.'

I again played around in Lightroom and CS6 as before, with my vision and intent in mind, choosing a much more subtle texture - kk_storm - and finally adding a pastel rainbow Gradient Fill Adjustment Layer (14% opacity) to bring in some color and life. I loved what the matte finish did for the image, but my efforts at chalk lettering were not fruitful...some tools/settings were grayed out or didn't function. Another time maybe. No worries...Kim's prompts are always a good starting place.


14 comments:

  1. Hope things go ok in L.A. Nice hard work on your image, all part of the learning process, and look how much you learned :)

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Sarah for the well wishes! I thought you'd enjoy the process thing. I learn so much from your blog too.

      xoxo

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  2. Beautiful work and words from your heart hope all goes well....

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Viv for your kind thoughts.

      xoxo

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  3. Erin,

    My prayers are with you. May you find healing and health and always remember that you are loved.

    - Rich

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Rich. You know she's a kindred spirit to Lissa. Seriously.

      xoxo

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  4. Sending Erin my love, and hope for a successful outcome to her treatment.

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  5. Beautiful - your words and your art.

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  6. Both versions are beautiful, but your final image is really impressive. Brilliant play of light and shadows.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Gracie! It's nice to hear from fellow photo-artists about the details.

      xoxo

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  7. this is lovely Cindy, the over-layed color really adds.

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  8. Yes...sometimes those impulsive (desperate?) "try this" things actually work!

    Sometimes.

    xoxo

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