March Serenity Blog Circle - Finding Serenity in Nature

As I logged in to write this blog post, I saw that my last one was from January and I had written how we’d had a mild winter and I’d been getting outside as much as I could. Well, that was January, then February hit us like a freight train! February seemed to be a miserable weather month all over North America. Here in my part of the world, we had ridiculously cold temperatures for the entire month, we set records with how long it lasted. I was lucky enough to escape to California for the Click Away conference for 5 days, but even California was having unseasonably cool and wet weather in February.

So, while I had been getting lots of time outside before February, during February I barely left the house. Part of the reason for that was that I had bunion surgery mid month, but my timing with the weather couldn’t have been better - I simply hibernated for a couple weeks! Because of this, I didn’t go out in search of serenity, but I went back into my archives of unedited images and remembered times of serenity from warmer seasons.

As I worked on this image, I remembered how I felt sitting in this beautiful spot and it made me realize how calming just being in nature is. Have you heard of Forest Bathing? It originated as a Japanese practice, but the main premise is simply that spending time in nature, using all your senses to take in the sounds, smells and sights is beneficial to your health. And apparently, it is scientifically proven to improve blood pressure, boost mood, decrease inflammation amongst many other things. I totally believe in this premise - who doesn’t feel better after spending a little time listening to the birds around you, putting your feet on the green grass, smelling the refreshing scent of pine trees and watching the clouds float by in the sky? I know I do.

My daughter and I stopped at this location on the way home from the mountains of Banff National Park last year. It’s a short walk in to the river and when you get there you are greeted with this iconic view of the Three Sisters (the three peaks) reflecting in the slow meandering water. As we sat there we listened to the bird song, the sounds of the water and admired the view. THEN we heard the bugle of an elk from across the river and shortly after a female and her young one walked across the stream off in the distance.

Click on the image for a larger view.

I think this is why I love landscape photography so much. There is definite serenity to be found even when good photography isn’t!

The Serenity Project is a collaborative photography project featuring images that bring a sense of peace and calm. Please continue our circle to to see what has brought my friends serenity this month.

Next in the circle is Jillian Baudry, Photographer in the South of France. Click the link to see what serenity looks like for her this month! Thanks for being here.

January Serenity Blog Circle - A warm winter walk

Here in Calgary, Alberta we have had an unseasonably warm and dry winter. In October, we had an early, large snowfall putting a quick end to the beautiful fall season we often enjoy here. We received about a foot of snow. Since then, we’ve had minimal snowfall and mild temperatures. While it makes for a comfortable winter and good driving conditions, I know it is not good for the farmers or our lawns and gardens or the wildfire season.

I’ve tried to take advantage of the mild conditions and have been getting out walking with my camera. This week, I headed out to one of my favourite local urban parks and enjoyed temperatures of +9 degrees celcius while soaking up the sun. I encountered numerous people on bike or foot, taking advantage of the weather - here in Alberta, we could be up to our knees in snow again by the next day, you just never know.

All pictures in this post were taken using my Lensbaby Sweet35, a lens I don’t use often because I’m not sure I love it. I always see images that someone else takes using the same lens and fall in love with them, so I keep trying to use it.

Click on the images to see them larger.

Every Christmas season, someone decorates this little tree at the entrance to the park.

There is beauty to be found in all seasons.

I think one of the reasons I love this park is all the water elements - pathways wind along the river and around ponds where birds, waterfowl, beavers, deer and coyotes all live. There is just something about water that draws me in.

Ice and light patterns

The Serenity Project is a collaborative photography project featuring images that bring a sense of peace and calm. Please continue the circle to to see what has brought her serenity this month. Joan Showers of Joan Showers Photography is up next. Click the link to see what serenity looks like for her this month! Thanks for being here.

November 2018 Serenity Blog Circle - An Early Morning by the Ocean

In early September, my daughter and I took a short trip to Comox Valley on Vancouver Island. It was the first time either of us had ever visited the area. We stayed at the lovely Kingfisher Oceanside Resort and Spa which was just the perfect spot to relax. We explored, spent time at the spa, enjoyed the ocean and the beautiful gardens at the resort.

I will always find serenity by the ocean. Each morning during our stay, I would get up to check what the sunrise looked like. The first morning we were there, I got up and wandered down to the beach in front of the resort with my camera gear to wait for sunrise. It was absolutely serene sitting there, mostly by myself, listening to the loons as the sun rose. After a while a seal popped his head out of the water close by and off in the distance I could hear the otters playing. At this point I texted my daughter to get out of bed and come enjoy it with me. She spent hours beach combing and exploring the beaches like a little kid.

The sunrise did not disappoint that morning and I sat in awe of what I was seeing.

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The Serenity Project is a collaborative photography project featuring images that bring a sense of peace and calm. Please continue the circle to to see what has brought her serenity this month. Iris Nelson Photography in Arizona, is up next. Click the link to see what serenity looks like for her this month! Thanks for being here.

The Travelling Burnside Project

Earlier this year I received an e-mail notifying me I had been accepted to be a participant in the Travelling Burnside Project, organized by Lensbaby .  Lensbaby is a company who creates camera lenses that give special creative effects to your images.  The Burnside 35mm is their newest lens and they were giving photographers around the world the opportunity to spend a couple of weeks photographing with the lens before sending it on to the next participant.  I was thrilled to have this chance to try out the lens!

I received my copy of the Lensbaby Burnside35 in mid June and set out to shoot a variety of subjects and genre with it.  

The Burnside provides a swirl effect to your image, which is especially effective when there is a lot of texture in your background.  Your aperture setting will dictate how much swirl is created.  On top of this, there is an effects slider that lets the photographer add in camera vignetting to the image! You can decide how much of a vignetting effect you add by how much you adjust the slider.  The slider also adds a pop of brightness to the center of your image.  The bokeh and rich colours created by this lens were fantastic! 

I started my shooting with a variety of foliage around my own yard. 

Wild roses in the late afternoon sun - look at that swirl!! 

Wild roses in the late afternoon sun - look at that swirl!! 

Amazing bokeh and rich colour!

Amazing bokeh and rich colour!

The Burnside 35 really brings the focus to your subject!

The Burnside 35 really brings the focus to your subject!

I took it on a trip out to the Canadian Rocky Mountains to see how I liked it for landscape.  The effects aren't as obvious, but it still provides a painterly softness to the edges. 

Two Jack Lake, Alberta, Canada

My daughter was willing to be my subject so I could try portraits with the Burnside.  Now this is where I really struggled with the manual focus! I really fought to get sharp focused eyes.  In hindsight, I needed to use a smaller aperture and create a larger focus area. 

I love the 35 mm focal length of the lens - it makes it very versatile for so many genres of photography.  

I thoroughly enjoyed my experience with the Burnside35 lens.  I could definitely see adding it to my collection of equipment to use when I felt the need to get creative. The Travelling Burnside Project was such a great way to really get to spend some time learning the lens and understanding it's capabilities. 

 

May Serenity Blog Circle - Finding Serenity in a Large Urban Park

I am excited to be sharing my first blog post as part of the Serenity blog circle.  The circle is made up of a group of talented women photographers who share their beautiful art together every month.  

I recently took a long weekend visit to Vancouver, BC.  It's a beautiful, bustling city on the West Coast of BC.  A trip to Vancouver wouldn't be complete without time spent in Stanley Park, an urban oasis on the edge of downtown.  At 1,000 acres, it's bigger than Central Park in New York City! 

I visited the park on a Saturday morning - it was full of people walking, biking or inline skating along the seawall, hanging out in grassy areas,  playing cricket or rugby.  I decided to take one of the quieter trails into an old growth forest area away from all the people.  It was there that I found my serenity!! I thoroughly enjoyed taking my time to absorb nature and its sounds, smells and sights, shooting as I went.  I put my Lensbaby Velvet56 on my camera and played to my hearts content! 

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Please continue through our Serenity blog circle to see what my friends have shared this month.  Next in the circle is Eileen in San Antonio http://eileencritchley.com/2018/05/16/exploring-nature-the-serenity-project