Thursday, September 20, 2012


early morning golden & ice & blue along the salt mine road Pugwash, Nova Scotia

Golden hour, a.k.a. magic hour, is the first and last hour of sunlight in the day, known for producing great photographs due to its magical lighting qualities. 

Denise from Cabin Studio Press (see members list at right) mentioned the golden hours as a possible photo challenge. I do walk early in the morning with my best girl Winnie Dixon so I'm often out n' about in the morning version of that golden time. I have a perfect view of the harbour and the west from my studio office and I do sometimes rush out with my camera just before the sun sets to capture the golden beauty & long shadows of dusk.

This No. 4 challenge is to get yourself out in the golden hours. Keeping in mind all the previous challenges. Post a series, a photo essay, of your experiences exploring & observing your life in the golden hours.

I do consider this Passionate Observer's blog to be a club. It's not my blog but a members blog. But to be a successful club you need participation from the members. I need you, your comments & ideas. I'm feeling like I'm at this alone & it's no fun by myself. I have a blog. So please participate or if maybe you've decided that you don't have time, or turns out this club is not your thing - that's OK too I completely understand but let me know that will you ? 
I feel like I'm posting to air. Thanks, Susan

next post in 2 weeks - Oct 03

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

love the light

the simple act of prepping strawberries for the freezer becomes gorgeous because of the light

Light makes photography. Embrace light. 
Admire it. Love it. But above all, know light. 
Know it for all you are worth, 
and you will know the key to photography.
George Eastman

Week 3 challenge - love the light while you approach your 10 (or more) snippets/slices of life this upcoming week.

Once again document your life
(places, people, pets etc) while exploring a variety of lighting situations plus continue to see your world from different & unexpected vantage points.
Also, again, try abstracting some photographs down to simply colour, light & shadow.  

I would love to hear your ideas, thoughts & suggestions - what kind of challenges, tips, lessons would you like to find here at A Passionate Observer - tell what you think please. 

& inspired by another passionate observer, my friend RosaMaria from La Vida Compartida - A Shared Life

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

the view

pink peonies from the terracotta gardens here at 29 Black Street

Let's make sure to try and visit a few of the blogs through each week of other members & leave a comment or two. Praise & accolades, constructive criticisms, ideas & suggestions, questions or just a simple hello ! 

Those of you who know me from 29 Black Street know that I am a self professed haphazard at best, not-at-all technically minded photographer. My photography road is and has been always paved with great intentions. I always mean to study my camera's manual, I always mean to leave the automatic setting behind, to get out my tripod, play with the bells & whistles (my current sweet Canon G12 has oodles of them) - but I don't, I never seem to get to those things and I haven't yet in the 5 years that I've been, rather obsessively taking pictures & posting them on my blog.

But here is what I do do ... do ;-)

I do have a great, comfortable, long, over the shoulder strap
I have fast-charging rechargeable batteries, a large memory chip (ensuring your camera is always ready)
I try to carry my camera everywhere
I'm looking, seeing, imagining my world everywhere I go as a photograph (this takes practice)
I am very aware of light - especially bright sunlight & it's effects on everything shadow & light

and here's the kicker ...

I barely ever look through the regular viewfinder

I almost always use the screen view on the back of my camera to compose a photograph and I often
don't even do that. I just hold my camera up to something, looking down at it, away from me, down on the ground ... and I take loads of images of each thing I'm photographing, edit at your computer.

ta da that is my big secret ... and now I've told you and we're only on week 2

Week 2 challenge
- approach your 10 (or more) slices of life this week keeping the view in mind.

Once again document either some thing (here's an example) or a variety of things (places, people, pets etc) and see how many different unexpected angles & views you can capture it from plus using a variety of lighting situations. Try a few images abstracting the photograph down to simply colour, light & shadow.

Hands up who got a good over the shoulder strap for their cameras ? Phone camera people exempt from this question and I guess if you have a pocket size camera also exempt. The whole point of a comfortable, sturdy, long strap is it makes you make more confident, so that you never ever feel precarious holding your camera at any angle - worried that you might drop it. And it also encourages you to wear your camera, on your body, like an accessory to your outfit :-)

In closing more inspiring beautiful snippets of life - A Year of Sundays from 3191 miles apart

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

snippets & a strap

from the salt mine road December 2011

I love to think of photos as tiny snippets of my life. Slices ... moments captured forever by me & my camera. I think a passionate observer of life documents everything. The beautiful, the mundane, the simple, the funny ... and over time a collection of these snippets becomes this wonderful visual tale of you. It shows you who you are & what you love. It shows you what you care about in a way that's not unlike a gratitude journal or a diary.

I would say my photographs* are easily my most cherished things (cats, dogs, Prince's & Mlou's exempt) because my stream of photographs tells the tale of my life ... what's not to cherish about that?

Two photographers that I swoon over & admire tremendously are Susannah Conway & Jenna Park from Sweet Fine Day - both of them fantastic at capturing the snippets of their own lives. You don't need to have a fancy-pants camera to be a passionate observer - Susannah's recent book tour incredibly gorgeous photo stream was taken with her iphone (I think) - apparently the new iphone camera is incredible. Jealous - I'm not a cell phone girl & it would be a bit crazy to buy a cell phone for the camera & the access to instagram - but just saying ... camera envy - big time.

& a strap -  the most important accessory for you the passionate observer

Because you'll want to carry your camera everywhere & all the time a great, comfortable, wide, long over the shoulder so-your-camera-sits-on-your-hip-at-the-side is essential. Trust me - no more hanging around your neck thumping on your chest - this kind of strap allows you to take most shots without removing the camera from your body - gives you maximum flexibility - and it's subtle, not obvious for those of us. The strap is the workhouse, the great protector of your tool. So find yourself a good strap. The strap I use now (removed from my beloved Madam O) is the strap that came on a messenger bag  - kind of like this or this

Week 1 challenge - check out Susannah & Jenna's blogs & over the next week take lots of photos and by next Wednesday post a series of 10 snippets from your life ... from your week. Think of how the 10 photos you post will work as a series of photos. It could be 10 different views of one thing, or a series of vastly different images strung together. Experiment with how close you get to your subject & always look for beautiful light.

Thanks to all of you. I'm really excited to be venturing on our passionate observer's journey.

Remember leave a comment on the welcome post with a link to your blog and I'll add you to the link list in the sidebar of members & I'll try and figure out how to get the html for the passionate observers badge if you'd like to add it to your blog.

* check back to the early days of my photo blog and you'll see that my photos were very ho-hum in the beginning - the more you take photos the better you'll get and the sooner you'll discover your own unique vision.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

welcome (finally)


welcome (finally) & some club members details

Well aside from the fact that I am technically an idiot (which is a very long, drawn out & pretty boring story) here we are back at Blogger because my pea size technical brain could not / would not grasp creating a blog I was happy with & felt comfortable working in over at Wordpress - I feel like such a dummy because as soon as something becomes remotely technically challenging in the slightest manner (computer lingo, instructions etc..) - my brain freezes up, I begin to yawn & give up - thank goodness it applies only to items of the technical variety - phew !!

But that's good news, my ineptness, my care free & tres casual way, 'cause it also applies to photography. Good news for you because if I can take beautiful & meaningful photos in my hap hazard, tres simple & basic way, then so can you. My camera is always set to automatic & I never use a flash.

Not that I wouldn't love to take the time to properly learn how to use the bevy of bells, whistles, tricks & thrills that my much loved Canon girl PowerShot G-12 (if you're in the market for a camera - 5 thumbs up !!) is capable of ... but I don't really have the time nor it seems - the inclination yet. I am hoping that as this course/club progresses we will take the time together to explore the wild & crazy world of f-stops, ISO speed, tripod use, lighting ... bells & whistles included. I'll learn along with you all. Sound fun ?? OK, then off we go ...

Ideally every member of the the Passionate Observer club will have a blog that they can upload their images to & will link to that blog in the comment section of this blog (when we have photo challenges & theme assignments). Some of you who have existing blogs may want to set up a separate blog or perhaps have 1 or 2 days of your existing blog's weekly posts devoted to uploading PO images (for all of us to visit). It's so easy to set up a blog (at Blogger ;-) and I believe it's all part of the process of becoming a Passionate Observer - having a place to archive & document your images.

Hands up in the comments please - who does not have a blog ? & is not interested in creating one ?

I'm really hoping that all of you will jump on the online visual diary-ness of having a blog - even if you never write a word I can guarantee you - you won't be sorry. It has been by far the most meaningful & therapeutic thing that I have done for me ever - creating 29 Black Street. Words will never express how grateful I am for the amazing visual (& written) record of my life's journey over the past 5 years. 

I will create a linking list in the sidebar of all you Passionate Observer members with links to your photo blog/or existing blog. So if you could please - sign up as a member in the comments of this welcome post with a link to your blog.  Also please leave any questions, suggestions, ideas etc... here in the *comments section.

Welcome fellow passionate observers - tune in again on Wednesday for the first lesson & photo challenge.  xo Susan - OK it seems the comments are working - hooray !!