Category Archives: Miscellany

Sunday Quote

There is pleasure in the pathless woods,
there is rapture in the lonely shore,
there is society where none intrudes,
by the deep sea, and music in its roar;
I love not Man the less,
but Nature more.



Helios & Helianthus

If you see something red, shoot it

It’s even better, if there’s an interesting sky.


Red Barn With Sky

Rural Putnam County, Indiana, on an ordinary October day.

Geranium Pink



70th Anniversary

D-Day Invasion, Normandy. I didn’t fully understand the geographical obstacles until I saw the Normandy coast. First they had to swim — carrying heavy packs. Then they had to cross the mine-filled beach under heavy fire. Then there were the cliffs to scale to penetrate the German “Atlantic Wall” fortifications.

Some of the things an average soldier carried in his pack.

Some of the things an average soldier carried in his pack.

Musée Memorial, Caen France,

Musée Memorial, Caen France,

Pointe du Hoc

Pointe du Hoc

Pointe du Hoc

Pointe du Hoc

Omaha Beach

Omaha Beach

D Day Musuem, Arromanches, France,

D Day Musuem, Arromanches, France,

Memorial, Omaha Beach, Vierville-sur-Mer, Normandy,

Memorial, Omaha Beach, Vierville-sur-Mer, Normandy,

Memorial on Omaha Beach.  Vierville-sur-Mer, Normandy.

Memorial on Omaha Beach. Vierville-sur-Mer, Normandy

Textured Tuesday.

There's nothing like a good cup of coffee!

There’s nothing like a good cup of coffee!

Linking to Textured Tuesday.  Layered with two textures by Kim Klassen — Peony & Unleashed.

Travel Theme: Round

Round reflections.



Where’s My Backpack Weekly Travel Theme: Round


As a child, I disliked the grape hyacinths that popped up each spring in my mother’s garden.  I thought that they were misshapen, ugly things.  That there were only a few a them, seemingly randomly dispersed through the beds only added to my dislike. At least, I thought, they were adjacent to the air conditioner where nobody would easily notice them. My grandfather, who lovingly tended my mother’s garden — and often the neighbors as well — tried to transplant them, increase them, and lastly, to remove the stragglers. But, he understood, that volunteers can be stubborn. Those three or four bulbs were determined to bloom where they were planted and were unwilling to accept others into their ranks. That spot was, apparently, their perfect home.

As an adult, I have a different view of hyacinths.  I’ve never planted any and I suspect that the ones that bloom in my yard may have been planted by the previous homeowner but in a different locale.   There used to be some that bloomed regularly near the house, in a bed that was destroyed 10 years ago during a renovation.  Perhaps the few that I have were tossed into the woods during the digging.  Perhaps they were transported by a squirrel who either forgot where he planted his treasure or spit them out once he realized they were not as tasty as the tulips.

Every Spring I look towards the top of the hill for those first signs of the oddly shaped spears of purple and white that will lean with their top-heavy weight once the blossoms open.  In a few weeks they will be gone, their stalks hidden by the vinca and the honeysuckle and shaded by the maple and hickory trees.

But, for now, they are the imperfect, colorful stars standing out in a continually greening landscape.  Wabi-sabi.   Beauty.  For the soul.

Beauty for the soul

Beauty for the soul

Linking with Kim Klassen’s Texture Tuesday. This week’s theme: Perfectly Imperfect.  Follow the link to see some great artwork.

This photo was shot with a 60mm lens, at f4, 1/2000 sec,  ISO 1600.  The image has been layered with Kim’s texture “Gentle Whisper” at 10% soft light.


Linking up with Kim Klassen’s Texture Tuesday.  This week’s theme:  Color.

coquina, donax variabilis, shells

Tiny rainbows:  Donax variabilis, aka Coquina

Coquina (d. variabilis) are abundant on the beaches in Southwest Florida.  Although they are everywhere, I am always taken with the variety of colors and patterns in these little shells.  The bivalves are edible (these were just the shells of the little creatures), but I’ve heard that they are not very tasty!  They’re so tiny, I would never have the patience to shuck enough to make even a small appetizer.

This image was layered with one layer of Kim’s texture kk_0603 with Blend mode of Multiply at 15% opacity, masked off of the shells.  There was already plenty of texture in the wood (love that grain!), but the texture helped the tone a bit along the edges.



Shamrock Irish Blessing

An Irish Blessing

A movie for photographers and artists (and scientists & inventors & the curious)

I highly recommend the recently released, thought-provoking, movie Tim’s Vermeer. When my husband suggested we go, I begrudgingly agreed, thinking that it would be a snooze-fest with pompous art historians and that it wouldn’t be an ideal way to spend one of the first sunny, Spring-like Saturdays of the year.  Wrong!

Produced by Penn & Teller (of course, that Penn & Teller), it is lively and engaging film about digital inventor Tim Jenison’s attempts to prove a theory that Vermeer painted his photo-realistic paintings using optics in a way that nobody else has before or since.  Jenison attempts to prove his theory by recreating a Vermeer — the bedazzling, light-filled The Music Lesson — using the same materials available to the Dutch painter. He ground his own pigments, made his own lenses following 17th century processes, and went to great lengths to recreate the studio setting for the painting.  The movie documents Jenison’s 5-year endeavor to study and replicate the physical items in the painting, even having a Dutch potter make him a replica water pitcher and recreating the Delft light conditions in his Texas warehouse studio by constructing a Dutch-style false building facade outside his studio to diffuse the light as it would have been diffused by neighboring buildings in Vermeer’s studio.

Most importantly, Jenison hit upon a solution to low-light issues with a camera obscura by building additional mirrors to re-invert the image and to brighten and focus it in order to paint.  This, in Jenison’s theory, is what Vermeer must have done with the camera obscura that separated his art from that of his peers.  It isn’t simply geometry, or a savant artistic ability, but a mechanical solution to recreating on canvas what is seen — and what is not so easily seen — by the human eye.

This film is a documentary but don’t expect it to be unbiased. There are a few comments by artist David Hockney and architect Phillip Steadman (both wrote scholarly works that prompted Jenison’s quest) that support Jenison’s theories, as well as comments that his theories will be rejected because of the “art establishment” looking down its collective nose at an outsider.  And they are right: art historians have been mostly silent or dismissive, Jonathan Jones in The Guardian even describing the documentary as “an art film for philistines“,  without addressing the counterarguments.

The film doesn’t really discuss alternative theories.  But, on some level, it goes beyond trying to prove Jenison’s theory.  Instead, this film can be seen as being more about Jenison’s obsession with trying to figure out how Vermeer created such realistic paintings 150 years before the invention of the camera than it is about trying to disprove or resolve century old questions definitively.  That may not have been director Teller’s vision, but as a viewer, I find it hard to walk away without thinking about the  relentless obsessive journey to prove what cannot be proven or wondering what sort of reception Jenison’s “discovery” will have in the art world in the long-term.

Jenison, Hockney and Steadman discuss in the film how one could never be sure whether Jenison has proved anything.   His idea that Vermeer could have used a camera obscura and additional lenses to refine the light can never be proven; it can only be a theory — with a demonstration that it is possible.   Hockney repeats several times in the film that paintings are documents, even Tim’s recreated copy of The Music Lesson.   As documents, all paintings — including Vermeer’s and Jenison’s —  are open for speculation and  interpretation.

I think it is important to recognize that Jenison never says that his painting is as good as Vermeer’s.   He never tries to put it up to a test to see if it could fool someone into thinking it is a Vermeer.   Even the painting’s name — Tim’s Music Lesson — suggests that he doesn’t think it is even a reputable copy of the artwork, simply a recreation of another’s work using the same hypothetical technique.   If you were an amateur — and admittedly not a very good one — what might you do with a work that you researched for four years and then spent another five months producing?  I think many would do what Tim Jenison did:  hang it in his bedroom, a sign of a personal accomplishment.

I think that this film raises many questions that it doesn’t attempt to resolve in a meaningful way.   Foremost is the issue of what is a “legitimate” use of technology in the making of art.  In Vermeer’s day it may have been a mechanical tool to recreate a scene. The film points out that the use of geometry for depicting the correct perspective in a painting, even though it is an acceptable technique,  is as much a tool as using a set of mirrors.  The film suggests that to be dismissive of the use of a “tool” is a bunch of BS — but in doing so they are as dismissive of the counterargument as the critics are of Tim’s theory.   Is the art world stuck into thinking that the use of a tool is “cheating”? What other tools might be considered inappropriate for the making of art?  Is it the same today, perhaps, of digital art?

The closing comments by Penn Jillette suggest an answer.  It is something that I will ponder for a long time: “Is Tim an artist? Or is he an inventor? That we even ask the question is the problem.”  This film has a lot to consider, especially for people interested in photography or digital art.

I highly recommend Tim’s Vermeer (website), even if — especially if  — you consider yourself a philistine — or a photographer, an artist, a culture enthusiast, a scientist, a technology geek….