Glacial Abstraction

Not to harp on about snow and ice – being in the midst of a New York winter doesn’t help. Snowy days are followed by slushy watery mixes of snow and rain. Snowy banks form along the road covered by brown sludge and dirt. But it all started out as beautiful fresh snow. Fluffy, white, pure, clean. There is indeed something special about a fresh snowfall and a city covered in muffled silence and peaceful powder. And then snow, compacted and frozen becomes something entirely different – glacial material. Despite snow being white, ice and glaciers are a deep blue color, evidence (if grossly simplified) of the compression of air bubbles in the snow until the ice becomes an ethereal blue, crystal aquamarine colour – stunning and mesmerizing.

The science is actually pretty fascinating…but even if one just focuses on the aesthetic, glaciers are gorgeous. And nowhere have I seen as gorgeous glacial material as in Patagonia. Moving, active glaciers – alive as they slide down mountains. Full of abstract shapes and sharp crystals. The ice can sometimes look like pockmarked, dirty surfaces, other times like castles of sharp crystals and castles. The ice can look smooth and shapely. Or other times contaminated and granular. The glacial blue material is definitely a great source of abstract artistic beauty. I have interspersed some of my great memories of Patagonia glaciers with shots that show the grand scale of these glaciers – if only you can get the perspective.

Indeed, nothing like snow and ice.

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Views of Perito Moreno Glacier from afar near El Calafate, Argentina.

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A city of ice…Perito Moreno is the size of Buenos Aires, Argentina.

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Craters and crystals.

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Coarse ice, brittle ice shelves. Textured castle walls.

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Crystal kingdoms #1

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Crystal kingdoms #2

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Blue Rhapsody at the Viedma Glacier, El Chalten.

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Lone explorer ahead on the Viedma Glacier, amidst the blue stillness.

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Blue flotation vehicle. A broken piece of glacial ice.

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The welcome to the Viedma Glacier, El Chalten, Argentina. Intense and rich colours and broken rock-like surfaces.

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Ice formations like brittle ice blocks with crystal growths.

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A moonscape full of craters of ice, abstract design.

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Crevasse #1

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Crevasse #2

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Overlooking the crevasse…group shot. El Chalten, Argentina.

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Pockmarks and textures #1

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Pockmarks and textures #2

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Glacial tunnels beneath the tower of ice, Viedma Glacier, El Chalten.

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The view of Cierro Fitzroy after an 8 hour trek. The view was so spectacular we were left speechless. Surrounded by intense blues and greens, the layer of ice on the lake sat like an ice sheet – white and pure.

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Ice floating beneath the clouds, above the lake. Cierro Fitzroy, El Chalten.

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Icy reflections in the shadows, Cierro Fitzroy, El Chalten.

M xx

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Snowmance

The storm that never was. As you may have heard: Winter Snowstorm Juno was a non-event (or non-snowstorm). Of course, the only time we got an official “snow day” to stay home from work, where the subway was closed for an historic overnight period, I happened to be out of town! Whereas most people get rather upset or concerned, me coming from a warm and temperate climate city like Sydney, I happen to find snowstorms extremely exciting!  Aptly, Snowstorm Juno was supposed to hit on Australia Day – January 26th, 2015! However – it didn’t quite eventuate – and so instead people just got overly critical of the public authorities and their (rational) excessive preparations! Seriously though, it’s crazy how living in New York in the winter makes you intensely aware of the impact that extreme weather has on your ability to go about your daily business.

This reminded me of last year’s Snowstorm Pax which took me and much of New York by surprise in early Feb 2014. It was my first experience of an extreme snowstorm – it was tough to get out of your house, let alone commute to work! In my excitement at being unable to get to work, I enthusiastically took to the streets with my camera at 7am and begun taking photos of the beautiful streets…now enshrouded in white. Purified and cleansed by the powdery clean snow.  The grey building and streets illuminated. People running through the silent streets became blurred figures of color standing out against the ice-queen whiteness.

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West 10th St and Waverly Place – the intersection with one of my favorite bookstores in the city (Three Lives) covered in a layer of powdery whiteness.

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More snow covered Christmas and pine trees than you’ll ever need!

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A heavy snowfall…enough to envelope your car!

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A gift from from the Snow Gods

It would have been fine if I hadn’t been supposed to take a flight to Australia for a wedding!! Yes – on the biggest snowstorm of the year last year, I literally ended up crying on phone to the Qantas flight representative (not something I would ever usually do…but in desperation I didn’t quite know what else to do!)…and so I was kindly passed onto a helpful customer service rep for the first time ever! The story has a happy ending – I somehow managed to escape the city via a completely rerouted flight and made the wedding (in case you were worried)! But more importantly…I also managed to take some fun photos of the snow storm; amidst a city quietened in a romantic snowfall. Enjoy these pictures of the West Village in the misty whiteness: a snowmance.

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The entry to my old apartment building romantically covered in sideways snow 

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The cast-iron gates outside my old apartment, wrapped up 

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Running for cover: pink and red masked in white. White marked by red and pink.

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Not going anywhere anytime soon – wheels buried in the snow on Waverly Place, New York City

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Quickly escape into the red brick house!

M xxx

Portrait of a Peruvian Lady

The face is an insight into each unique life lived. The wrinkles, the expressions and above all the eyes. A window into the soul. So says the cliché. I suspect it contains a very large dose of truth.

I was reminded recently of one of my favourite sets of old portrait photos: a series of beautiful, strong Peruvian women I encountered on my travels in 2009. These photos, taken on a small point and shoot Canon camera I’d gotten for Christmas of the year before, were nothing sophisticated – but they were honest and reflected a desire to connect with a new culture I was experiencing and loving. Tucked away in my photo folders on an old external hard drive – they have traipsed around the world with me and are a nostalgic reminder of uni travels.

And so, on a cold winter’s night after perusing textures and colours at an exhibition of Latin American contemporary art at the Museum of Art & Design or “MAD” in NYC, I came home in search of my old archives! They brought back memories of how mesmerized I was by the Latin American continent when I first arrived in Peru for the first time. The colours, the smells, the chaos, the people, the food. The faces. Travelling through the countryside – the Colca Canyon region and Arequipa beyond the touristy Cuzco and hectic Lima – the clothing in particular was infused with a dash of texture, shape, pattern and colour that was representative of the strong and diverse personalities of the women that I came into contact with.

Crafts, textiles and weaving are a big part of the Peruvian culture of artisanship, skills held primarily among the women. Wandering along the streets of small towns, I was reminded of the need to provide for family and children. Many of these women keep up traditions not for just pure passion but for necessity and income – tourism and selling traditional arts remain an important source of growth for Peru. Much like in any other country, some encounters were friendly – others were distracted as the women were engrossed in their creations, or suspicious of tourists. Invariably – a little bit of Spanish helped.

These photos are a short storyboard of my travels through Peru – interacting with women on the street, in museums, on tourist tracks between canyons and trails. They speak to my own love of the textures, colours and patterns of the Peruvian culture and the interesting Peruvian women I met along the way…

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Mother and daughter – colourful hats, sharp eyes, overlooking the Colca Canyon

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Suspicious knitter

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Don’t distract me…I’m knitting

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Maria, the friendliest by far on the streets of Arequipa

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Hard work

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Shy weaver

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Hiding behind my llama

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Artisan sewing in modern colours

M xx

Perpetual Motion

I sustained a hip stress fracture injury late last year.

Diagnosis: too much motion.

Symptom: pain.

Recovery plan: s-t-o-p.

I was basically overdoing it. I was training for a marathon and I was simply running too much for what my body could handle. A bit like a repetitive strain injury. The immediate need to stop walking, stop running and generally limit the weight-bearing activity I did was rather depressing for someone who loves being active and wandering around like me. It also highlighted how hard it is to accept limitations to our mobility – I was grateful not to have a chronic mobility issue. Especially in a city like New York where the public transport system is NOT geared to the mobility-challenged. Suddenly I became incredibly aware of how much I loved walking around everywhere, how much I missed having a car, how much more I was going to be paying for cabs over the coming months – not a happy thought!

It also made me realize that the big cities we live in are hives of activity. Constantly in flux and transition. Tiring – no, exhausting! A grand tide of movement we cannot control. Overwhelming even. High density living above all creates this effect: bustling shops, packed streets, trafficked avenues, cramped subway carriages, much opportunity for human observation and interaction. Much of the power of cities – the energy they create, the vibe and reputation they develop – comes from their population density and the ability to encourage ideas to flow and interact, to integrate into new ways of thinking, innovations and creativity.

Crazily enough, at work this topic seems to have come up in one of the many chat sessions I observed, one day discussing the percentage likelihood of dying of the flu (a happy thought, right!? I believe in response to the free vaccination option during a cold winter!). This raised (somewhat randomly) the fact that New York does not even arise in the top 100 most densely populated cities – so while it is plenty dense by developed world standards, it doesn’t feel as tightly wound up as it could be! Another talk I went to with a well known architect spoke about population density as an opportunity for effective resource management: indeed, if the population density of Manhattan (sprawl up, not out) applied to the world…all 7 billion population in the world could fit into the State of Colorado – crazy! Check out this cool website for more info: whatismissing.net!

All this is to say – we live in a world of perpetual motion. Of unmitigated change. So why not allow our photos, our art, to sometimes show this? Rather than pretending that the world stops for us to capture a moment, why not embrace the blur? The imperfection, the fleeting stance, the transient moment, where the characters within our story are not still, but in the process of completing some action, some movement. The below are some of my experimental shots taken while meandering the city – some in coffee shops, some hidden behind poles near Central Park trying to carve out space from which to capture shots, some in public parks. They are all imperfect. They were all taken while I was not perfectly still – no tripod – just my shaky hands. They are an authentic touch of real life in action.

More on the need for meditation to come…and thank goodness I am mobile again!

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Green Tea Layer Cake at Lady M, UES

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Undecided – chocolate eclair or mont blanc? Lady M, UES

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Opposites Attract or Matching Moment – Black and Pink, Pink and Black? Lady M, UES

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Uncertainty – who’s doing what? Unsure where to look… Lady M, UES

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Pink shirt on generic subway platform

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Pidgeons waiting for the next carriage patron, Central Park

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The Plaza, The Pole and That Yellow Cab #1

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The Plaza, The Pole and That Yellow Cab #2

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The Plaza, The Pole and That Yellow Cab #3

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Dimlit brunch, UES

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Play me a song Mr Piano Man, Washington Square Park

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Pink jacket stands out in the Bloomingdale’s crowd

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Cycling through, Central Park South 

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Move on – crossover; 5th Avenue

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Quiet amidst the storm

M xx

Everything you can imagine is real

Who said this? None other than the great master creative, Pablo Picasso. When I read it (…it actually ironically came up as the quote of the day on my Bloomberg screen of all things!!), I felt immediately inspired! #qotd! What a wonderful reminder that our lives are filled with hopes and dreams, with desires and imaginings. To remember that what we hope and dream of can become real, can be made real, is a very empowering statement. As an artistically minded creative, it was also a reminder that our creative pursuits and creations bring something alive. They can represent something living and vibrant – in the way a photo can capture a moment, or a portrait can capture the essence of a heart or a soul.

It has been some time since I have posted on my artsy blog – life got busy, I went home to Australia for some sun, I felt uninspired, I didn’t allocate time to being creative. Don’t we all sometimes feel flat or overwhelmed? Too busy and overscheduled to really meditate properly on our intention to create. It had been a while since I have felt really creatively inspired. My easel and my camera have been quiet.  Until recently – this past week or so has been a moment of frenzied motivation in the aide of some animal portraits!

I never really grew up with pets. I was allergic to their shedding hair and had a failed series of pets including a set of reproducing mice (so much for being de-sexed!), a fat stray lazy white cat which we gave away, a fluffy rabbit and some other random visitors (including ducklings which even got eaten by local cats!), after which we decided that pets weren’t for our family! But I must admit that seeing 2 of my friends – C a colleague at work and K a great friend of mine through soccer – express passion and childlike enthusiasm when sharing photos of their beloved pets – a beautiful golden retriever Summer and a badass cat Oscar – I felt inspired. Nothing like the pure and unconditional love of a dedicated pet to start one imagining and wondering how to create an image of the essence of these animal souls. To give a permanent image in watercolor and pastel to enshrine their personality, their warmth, their vulnerability – their neediness that makes humans adore and cherish their loyal animal companions.

I tried to capture the essence of these furry friends – their cheeky watchfulness, their windswept cute messy fur, their eyes as their window to their soul. I hope you can see it, or imagine it.

Everything you can imagine is real. Pablo Picasso

Happy new year!

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Meet Oscar, 2015

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Hello Summer, 2015

M xx

Installation art

On top of amateur photography and personal travel, I love art. Going to exhibitions. Seeking out inspiration. Creating. But I am a stylistically diverse  and rather confused amateur artist. I can’t choose exactly what type of artwork or medium I want to be known for. And so I dabble in a little bit of everything – drawing (charcoal, pencil, pen), watercolor, multimedia, acrylics and painting, pastels.

I also haven’t quite had the chance to put together the artsy portfolio of my works that I had dreamed of…but in the interim, if you want to check out my works, take a look at the Australian blog “The Near and The Elsewhere” which wrote up a piece on the collaborative exhibition I was part of in 2012, “Twisting the Lilac Stalks” at the gaffa gallery in Sydney, Australia.

A few fun shots from the curating and installation process – a flurry of activity to complete it all in one day! Photos courtesy of 2 of the other artists, Sophie and Jessica, and preparation included the other 3rd collaborative artist, another Soph (as well as my Dad and the twins’ father that you see in the background)…it was a full collaborative effort!

Enjoy the art exhibition space shown here – the light and darkness of the walls vs the floor – the figurative curves of the artworks – the images and the imagination of the installation. The doors and framing the artworks in door frames. The windows and views to artworks. The geometry and perspective. The warehouse emerging artist feel. It is not so much about the actual artworks in these photos (more on that later!) but more about the actual space and its own artistry which can be enjoyed as part of the viewing of art.

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I highly recommend arranging your own exhibition to share your inspiration with the world – your talents – your passions. It was a great experience.  🙂

M xx

Once again, all images in this post are not my photography but the work of 2 other collaborating artists, Jessica and Soph B! Thank you!

And the best street art goes to…!

Yesterday marked the 25th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall. It was 1989: I was just a small tot at the time. A baby, unaware of the significance of this event in 20th century history.  I was actually most probably sitting in my Mum’s, or my Aunt’s lap, in a small town in Italy, visiting family in the beginning of wintertime and savoring some dessert or drinking some coffee too rich or strong for my young age! Nevertheless, my Mum liked to point out many years later that I had been within closer to proximity to these powerful and moving moments in history than many others, and most definitely than where I was at the time of the recounting. But then, anywhere is closer to Berlin than Australia!

It was many years later, as a 21 year old on my “gap” year traipsing around Europe with an oversized backpack that I got to actually visit the incredible city of Berlin. Filled with history. Overflowing with self-expression. Bubbling over with a liberal dose of grunge and change. It was most definitely an artistic, whimsical, fascinating city – weighed down by the history and calamities of the 21st century, but buoyed by this renewed sense of freedom, liberty, passion, and reformism.

It is well known that Berlin has some of the best art, distractions and street or urban art. Alley ways filled with graffiti, posters and artworks. Walls which become modern graffiti galleries. The East Side Gallery is maybe the most famous though, touristy but historic parts of the Berlin Wall now dedicated as a long quasi-cinematic insight into the German psyche of revolution and change. It is like one extended film negative of upheaval and emotion. It really made me experience a sense of awe at the resilience of the human spirit. Hope. Desire. Freedom. Love. They remain at the centre of the human condition in spite of repression, oppression and gloom. It sounds like a cliche, but Berlin really does inspire. It makes you appreciate and value your own freedoms.

Its street art is just a manifestation of the urban renewal that followed the human spirit’s revival in this city in the 1990s and onwards. Often on dark, grey concrete and in a cold, windy city, the street art can appear sombre and intimidating. But it can also be uplifting and political. Interesting and insightful. At the least, it makes Berlin distinctive among cityscapes with its architecture to boot (will have to cover that another time!).  Here are some of my favorite shots from my trip in 2008 (some of which may have been taken by my sister, so I also want to thank her for having been a wonderful travel companion!!), and I apologize as I did not have the best camera by any means at the time, but my angled shots remain a trademark favorite!

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Takele’s was big when I was there for the graffiti staircases!

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Portrait in pink

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Too much to ask for a kiss?!

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Berlin’s version of Pablo Picasso’s famous masterpiece of the Spanish Civil War, Guernica

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A crack in the wall. The way to freedom.

The tide of desire for human freedom that overtook Berlin and East Germany is a reminder to enjoy and appreciate freedoms in our own countries that were fought for as recently as 25 years ago in a modern, developed country.

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A short history of the wall…

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Delivery of love. Even in chains.

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Haunted

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A long time. But long enough?

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It’s intense. But it’s also a beautiful patchwork artwork of humanity. I love it.

M xx

Textile monochrome

Black and white photography captures the imagination. It distills a picture into shades of grey, into shadows and reflections. I often convert my favorite photos into black and white, to extract the essence and enjoy the underlying contrasts and colors in their most simplified form: shades of lightness and darkness.

I mentioned how much I love scarves in an earlier post, and here I integrate my love of the scarf and textiles, with 5 reasons why I also love monochrome:

1. Black and white is timeless

Our culture sees black and white as speaking of the past. It has connotations of history, of all things vintage, of reaching into a long lost memory. Somehow, black and white now makes a photo look ageless and timeless. That is a great quality.  And if you like history, black and white makes a photo even more beautiful because every moment in the present will someday be part of someone’s story and history.

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Paisley Mountain

2. Contrast heightens impact

My favorite shots are often those with some contrast to highlight or heighten either an emotive response, or an aesthetically satisfying combination. The contrast of light and dark , shadow and brightness, is the ultimate. It makes an impact on the eye and the response to an image.

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Scarf overload

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Tassels in the middle

3. Color matching no longer matters

Not every color looks good together! Not every combination works. But when distilled into light and dark rather than colorful hues, then it no longer matters!

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Overlap

4. Composition is key

Related to matching colors; when we remove the element of color from the equation, the satisfaction we feel when we look at an image also becomes all about the composition. The movement. The placement. I love the below photo of a patterned silk scarf because the placement almost made it look like a wave. The curves and curling motion of the fabric reminded me of a whirlpool. Never mind that the scarf itself was super colorful, with purple, red, white and yellow – the placement and overlapping folds made it fun to look at even in b&w.

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Charybdis, the textile whirlpool

5. Focus on texture

Just as composition becomes more important when a photo is stripped bare into monotone, so too the texture of the photo becomes valuable. Here texture is so visible because we are talking about fabric, textiles. But even with a landscape, or a portrait, the texture of the land or nature, or a face and skin, becomes heightened and a central part of the photo. I love that the creation and construction of the materials in the photo become more evident. Just look at the thin threads that you can see so much more clearly in the righthand scarf below…so beautifully textured!

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Floral interruption

M xx

#toystory

I grew up loving a stuffed toy elephant and lion. Together,  they were Ellie and Leo. Very original, I know.  They were a set of stuffed small bean-bag style toys. The best of friends among themselves, propped up on my bed. They were adorable (if I don’t say so myself). They travelled the world with me and like for any child, they were a comforting, constant presence.

Leo’s mane had been whittled into a thin wisened, wizardly beard, almost dreadlock-like from overuse: too much stroking, not enough washing hehe. Don’t laugh. I had them well into my late teens (…if not into my early 20s!). I’m sure many people share this trait, they just don’t admit to it. As I grow older, I actually get more comfortable with admitting the desire to hold onto being a child at heart. These toys were a window into my childhood.

I was genuinely excited to go to Africa earlier this year, to discover Ellie and Leo’s ancestors. No joke. Lions and elephants were both  spectacular in the flesh!! I think Leo had always been my secret favorite (even though I know we’re not supposed to have favorites)…but the surprise of the trip was most definitely having fallen in love with elephants.  Elephants exhibit a depth of emotional intelligence and humanity to them that was almost palpable.  Lions do still have some the most interesting behavior of all the cats, and of many of the animals in general.  You can watch them for hours: they have interesting social behaviors and are often more active than many other animals.  It can also take FOREVER to find them!  We were lucky enough to find a few lionesses on the hunt in Kruger National Park and it was one of the most incredible experiences to watch them running between and around the cars on safari, using the road to track their kill and the cars like boulders, oblivious to us bystander!!

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Sniffing something out

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Too close for comfort?

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Leo’s mother on the move

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I can’t help myself – an occasional black and white monotone photo I think often adds great character and intensity to already beautiful animal portraits. The harsh sunlight and shadows from the trees in the South African landscape made for some beautiful, playful darkened lines and patches on these lionesses, deep in concentration.

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Deep in contemplation (…maybe the next meal?)

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Stealth beneath the bushes

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The intensity of a lioness

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A young male hiding beneath the thicket

Elephants tend to be a little easier to catch – size sometimes matters.

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Ellie’s grandfather caught hiding behind the trees

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Cousins in the reeds

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I’m watching you!

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Don’t be shy!

Ellie and Leo were eventually joined by another long-eared and flopsy mopsy rabbit (read Beatrix Potter if you don’t know this reference!), with a triangle-like body, that I named Isosceles: a great descriptive name!  I left Ellie, Leo and Isosceles in Australia…New York winters were a little too harsh for them! More recently though, in the concrete jungle, the metropolis of New York – I was gifted a somewhat ironic addition. A small donkey! Ruben, or ‘Rubi’ for short. Watch this space 🙂 #anothertoystory

A warm and fuzzy story always helps start the week on the right note. Happy Sunday.  Good luck for Monday!

M xx

Knockout

I have a very animated way of talking which involves waving my hands around a lot. Not a big surprise if you take into account my Italian background. Then add in a pinch of enthusiasm, a hint of energy and a  drop of flamboyant personality…and you have a recipe for knocking over many glasses of water! Yes, I have spilled a lot of water in kitchens and at restaurant tables in my adult years, not to mention my childhood ones.  Recently, I managed to knock over a series of full glasses of water in fancy New York establishments onto the lap of my great friend MC. In both cases I had barely touched my glass of wine, so I really had no excuse other than my own over enthusiasm and excessive gesticulations to blame! Thank you MC for being so patient with my water spills!

Water glasses are not the only casualty from this intensity in communication style – I have (accidentally) knocked people in the face with my elbows on the dance floor (to the chagrin of their boyfriends nearby!) and practically and unintentionally tripped myself over, rifled phones to the floor and ruffled many feathers.

The unintentional “knockout” moment. It is amazing what you discover when it happens. Some people laugh as you collect yourself and clear the spillage. Some people respond as if distressed by the invasion of their peace and personal space. Some people start up a conversation in the wake of the damage, as if you broke the ice and opened yourself up to a fresh, genuine interaction. It is impossible to be inauthentic in that (embarrassing) moment! Caught off guard by your own imperfection and unconstrained passion for the topic of the day.

That “knockout” moment is not always bad. In fact – in the creative process, it most often manifests itself as a moment of inspiration, of  eye-opening wonder. When you suddenly seize the moment, filled with a sense of vision. It happens in writing, it happens in art, it happens when you get that perfect shot, without trying. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does – it’s great. I find travel often wields these artistic “knockout” moments, more than normal life. Maybe it’s because our hearts are more open to them. We are more relaxed, more liberated. Maybe it’s because what we see is somehow new and makes us feel renewed, novel and different. Bill Bryson put it beautifully:

To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.

– Bill Bryson

I share a couple of “knockout” visions. They are by no means the best photos ever taken at all, but I can remember feeling a sense of satisfaction when I took them. A random selection to inspire over the weekend.

1. Composition

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The art of gelato: it was too good to pass up, the moment of dripping, melting gelato in the Springtime sun on a backstreet in Milan with my sister’s bright multi-colored necklace shining in the background!

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Seal Rocks: the most gorgeous outlook to the Pacific Ocean on the north coast of NSW, Australia. The turquoise waters shimmering in the summer sun and the green shrubs in the foreground, both a lovely contrast to the deep, dark blue hues of the watery expanse.

2. Intense color and contrast

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German tulips: brightening your day and the tiny dew drops topped off one of my favorite flower photos.

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African sunset: it doesn’t get any better than an African sunset along the Chobe River in Botswana. It took your breath way.

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Micro China: red, the color of fortune and royalty. These slippers from a market stall in China were a bright reminder of a regal past. I love the messiness of the close up, entangled tassels and all.

3. Ambience / enigmatic human interest

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Rainy reflections: stuck on a rainy night in the backstreets of the charming, quaint town of Suzhou, China about an hour or so outside Shanghai, the reflections of the bright lanterns with these lone girls huddled under their shared umbrella just captivated me. The blur of the photo felt in tune with the drizzly outlook from underneath my own umbrella.

Old fashioned Shanghai street: This is by no means the most fabulous set of photos, but it felt like I’d capture a moment of humanity passing by me in those moments. I was standing still and alone on a standard back street somewhere in the metropolis of Shanghai, with people, cars and mess passing by me. In those moment, two elderly gentlemen cycled slowly past, and 2 elderly ladies wandered in the opposite direction. Each a slow solitary figure in this overcrowded city. Each simply going about their own daily business and happening to have intersected with my own travels, in a moment when I too had stopped to take stock.

4. Nature: stunning scenery

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Antarctic ice sheet reflections

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Iceberg depths

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Spot the penguin

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Iceberg graveyard

5. Great smiles

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Colca Canyon Joy: traveling through the Colca Canyon in Peru, we would stop along the road to look at the beautiful local scarves and textiles, occasionally buying something or chatting with the locals. This mother and daughter captivated me – in their traditional colorful patterned dresses and hats of the local area. The warmth of the mother’s expression, the hand of the daughter leaning close to her mother. A great smile lights up a portrait like nothing else. We all look better smiling! 

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Maria de Arequipa: I managed to garner from my basic Spanish that this lady’s name was Maria as she sat smiling on the sidewalk of the old town of Arequipa, Peru making small dolls and keychain dolls – artisanship slowly being lost. Her positivity was palpable.

Have a great weekend!

M xx