Category Mortal Muse

Find the Light | From The Archives

More often than not when traveling,  I am the one in the passenger seat. It’s not that I don’t like to drive, it’s just that the people I travel with tend to like to be behind the wheel more then I do.  This is a good thing since I would rather be soaking in the sights as the world slips past my window. I can take photos and not have to manage my camera and the steering wheel while on a road trip.  These images were taken on the way home from my Portland adventure.

I knew I wanted to share this set of photos here, but wasn’t sure what  I was going to talk about. I looked up a few books in search of quotes, but nothing was fitting with my mood. I realize all of the images are a little dark, but each has a glimmer of light shinning in the distance or flare bursting through the edges.  As I know many of my fellow American readers might be heading out on the road today to meet up with family and friends for Thanksgiving tomorrow I thought I would use the dark and light as a metaphor.
I know that this holiday (and the season in general) can either be extremely exciting or extremely stressful.  As you help in the kitchen with parents, siblings or dear friends, watch football with rowdy cousins, nieces and nephews, and then once you finally sit down around the table together; I would like to encourage you to use your photographic skills of finding the light in the everyday to find the bright spot in each of the people you are surrounded by.  Sometimes our personal and internal roads are dark, but we all have a spot in us that glows from within, or right out of our edges.  Some share the glow inside easily with those around them, while others find it much more difficult. So go on, find the light and have a wonderful and THANKfilled day tomorrow.
This post was originally written and photographed by me for the Mortal Muses photography blog, and part of a new series called, From the Archives. You can find the original post here: Find the Light | Mortal Muses

Language of Summer | From the Archives

Summer time stretches out in front of us with waves and wishes. Backyard, air conditioning , picnics, weddings, sun screen, beaches, camping, and adventure all become part of our summer time vernacular. The following words are from a few summers past, but they still hold true this time of year. Enjoy.Summer, you are leaving me… almost gone, but I am not done tasting you yet.

I know you are going, because the evenings are more watermelon juice drips then perspiration. I can feel it in the morning air as I stir awake, you smell different this time of year, not so sticky, yet sweet.

I can see it in the gentle way you hold the velvet brown mountain silhouette. The soft, sky touch that can only be yours.

The dark comes earlier, the blue mix with peaches that hang heavy  in the tree, ripe and ready and in the blushing of the leaves in the strong sycamore that shushes in the exhale.

I still have a few things left for you, summer. Summer don’t fall too quickly away…

Keep chasing the light my friends, Vanessa Simpson

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This post was originally written and photographed by me for the Mortal Muses collaborative blog, and part of a new series I am calling, From the Archives. Source: Language of Summer | Mortal Muses

A Look Back, A Look Forward | From The Archives

This post was originally written and photographed by me for the Mortal Muses blog, and part of a new series of posts I am calling, “From the Archives”. 

Source: A look back, a look forward | Mortal Muses

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I have been talking film with some local photographers over the past week or two, not just on line, but across the room. We were talking about the magic of developing your own roll of film and photo. We were talking about the intoxicating smell of fixer, the way you used to have to burn and dodge and fix dust spots. We tried to explain to a fellow photographer what it’s like when you first see the image emerge under the red glow of the darkroom light. We laughed about how it didn’t really matter how bad that first photograph was, you had made it- from the rolling of the film into the canister all the way to the drying racks. These conversations got me thinking about the giant box of photographs, contact sheets, 8x10s and negatives that have been sitting in the garage for the past year. So I did what anyone would do at that point, I lugged the giant, over sized Tupperware box out and started digging around. It is so interesting to see how far I have come, but also to see the hints and trends in the way I shoot now and have always shot my images.

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I might not have been hitting the shutter with a very good understanding of aperture, shutter speed and lenses, but what I did know was how certain films developed (colors and tones, contrast and richness). I also could “see” how light played and made shadows and pretty sunsets, but I wasn’t (and am still not always) sure how to use those attributes to my best advantage. As I sifted through things searching for my images from when I was in Madrid, Spain and then London, Dublin and Scotland- I pulled out two envelops from a college field trip. The class was pretty tight, we would spend one hour a week together doing ‘labs’ and then 4 hours every Friday out in the field. We collected and then memorized the Latin and common names of various plants (by the way, mormonus teaus is NOT the Latin name for the Mormon Tea plant, no matter what some prankster had jokingly renamed it in the study hall and you had naively memorized and put down on a test as an answer…) That semester we learned about the bio-geography of the region. The final trip, when I took these images, we all drove from Reno, NV to the Alabama Hills and Yosemite, CA. I remember a great game of dominoes around the campfire with my classmates, saving dinner from the flames of an overly zealous fire maker, I remember having no clue how to set up my tent and one hell of an awesome professor leading the adventure.

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But I don’t really remember taking any of these photos. Let’s face it, this weekend trip was 16 years ago. I am trying to remember what film camera I had at the time. I know it was one of my two Pentax, and I have absolutely no clue what film (probably kodak 200, if I had to guess since that was quick and easy to pick up at the grocery store). Most of these are simply snapshots, but I think that is what I like about them (now). There was no flickr, there was no instagram. I had the photo department at the University of Nevada, Reno, and a handful of dear family friends who were photographers to inspire me and teach me. I remember getting these images back from the lab and being a little bit bummed. It was so much more beautiful in real life (isn’t it usually when it comes to places like Yosemite and Alabama Hills?)  I hadn’t even come close to nailing the shots like I had hoped. I am not sure what I expected, but at the time, these results weren’t it.

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Today, I look at these and I see something different then what I saw then. I see moments in time. I see people who I haven’t talked since this class ended and have forgotten their names.  I see a group of college kids taking in their surroundings, each in their own unique way. I see the fascinating way in which people space themselves with one another and the world around them. I see body language and silent, frozen conversations taking place. Tiny still frames burned into the light sensitive film and in those moments, time was stopped.

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Those things alone (and maybe the way the light hits the rocks in the late afternoon), make me realize that I had the photo (and the film shooting) bug all those years ago. I might not have known what I know now about the craft, but the seeds were planted deep down in the soil of my creative garden. These moments are what have helped them grow from a dream into a reality. We all have to start somewhere. As  I dug through the past stored neatly in a big plastic bin, I was able to see one of those beginning steps of becoming a lover of film and a photographer.

Happy Film Friday.

Keep chasing that light, Vanessa

Film Friday- Vito | From the Archives

Have I told you about Vito? He is quite the looker. A little old fashioned, but dapper. Oh, and his voice. That Swedish accent is something, I tell you. I found him one day by chance. I asked the gal behind the thrift store counter, “Do you have any cameras”? She looked at me funny and told me they had some old ones, but I wouldn’t want them…. I disagreed and asked her to see them, please.  It was one of the best blind dates I have ever had. I instantly fell in love with his leather jacket and chrome details.I was scared to take him out that first time. I hadn’t shot with a range finder before, unless you count a disposable camera. But Vito has more control and sophistication then those types, (mind you I love the disposables, but…). Holding him was exciting, yet, intimidating. In that, “first time” sorta way. I had to guess his sweet spot, isn’t that the way it always goes? I was literally fumbling around guessing how to make him work. It’s going to take some practice, but I think I liked this boy and his sassy ways.I decided that taking him out during Hot August Nights was a good choice. Classic, yet updated in the best possible way. The event is held in Reno, NV each summer, and I am missing summer right now… The streets of our city are filled with shiny and vintage cars of all kinds. This was right up Vito’s alley. I think it was a perfect first date for old Vito, aka Voigtlander Prontor-lux, and I. Don’t you?

Keep chasing that light,

Vanessa

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This post was originally written and photographed by for the Mortal Mused blog and is part of a new series I’m calling, From the Archives. Source: Film Friday- Vito | Mortal Muses

Living With The Camera – Inspiration | From the Archives

This post was originally written and photographed by me for the Mortal Muses blog nearly three and a half years ago and part of a new series of posts I am calling, “From the Archives”. 

Source: Mortal Muses

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At the library I spotted a book on display, “Dorothea Lange – Grab a Hunk of Lightning“. I quickly picked it up and added it to the pile of children’s books that the kids had handed me, and we headed to the desk to checkout our goodies.  When we returned home, each of us plopped down in the small apartment living room that we are calling home right now, and dove right into our new reads.  I have really been wanting to understand what makes a beautiful and provoking portrait lately and this book was just the thing to get my head spinning. I want my craft to really speak to my audience and tell stories in a way that I know words can not.  I know my work is no where near what Dorothea was doing in her career, but by studying her images, the way she framed and used the light, I can begin to create a more powerful frame. 

I believe in living with the camera, and not using the camera. Suddenly, if you are working a lot, it takes over and then you see meaning in everything. You don’t have to push for it. That’s what I mean by the visual life. Very rare. – Dorothea Lange, KQED San Francisco Audio Recording 1964-65

The kids and I have been spending a lot of time together, and that means they are most readily available subjects. My son is now in a half day kindergarten and so we have all morning to get out and explore our new city. Luckily, they will humor me by being my models.  Well, most of the time anyway.  And if one won’t hold still for the shutter, the other usually will. These images are examples of what I have been getting.  I am purposefully processing these in black and white instead of color. Perhaps that is in part to looking through all of the Dorthea Lange images that have been floating through my mind, but I also get a totally different impact when the color is gone.  Stripping down the image to the whites, grays, and blacks seems to let their eyes and expressions do the work, rather than the colors happening around them.  Do you find that to be true as well?

Keep chasing the light – Vanessa

Five on Five | August

Over the summer my Five on Five project took the back seat. Even today, I am a little overwhelmed and wondering if I have time to write this post. But I know, in a year from now, I will love looking back to see a small collection of my favorite images. August was a very busy business month for me, but was full personally as well.

I captured an amazing wedding in Reno, NV

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And these adorable brothers in Truckee, CAemilydWeb (14 of 25)

Then there was this sweet couple in Virginia City, NVKandC_webready (67 of 142)

But there was personal work as well.

This photo of my daughter, is probably an all time favorite.

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And this photo of my son and his grandfather during an intense game of giant jenga is a classic

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Yep full, and wonderful. Thanks for stopping by today! Don’t forget to swing by the other blogs in this blog hop. First stop is Adriana‘s post.

 

P.S.  I am sharing a little bit of my film photography over on Mortal Muses today, hop on over and see.

Language and Song

It has been a busy week of blogging for me, it might not seem like it since this space has been very quiet, but I am sharing thoughts and photos elsewhere and it’s pretty wonderful.  Want to hear my take on how song (this month’s theme on Our Collective)? Click over and have a read.

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How about the language of summer time? I have a sweet little poem and set of polaroids to share with you today on Mortal Muses. Simpson-fading-1

Another installment of 2pm images went live on Sunday over on The Hours.

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And get ready, because I have some awesome blogs in the works. Wedding, family and an adorable couple. You are going to want to keep up, so stay tuned!

 

Keep chasing that light,  Vanessa

Characters on the Street

How often do we see someone that is seriously asking to have their photograph taken, and we then we pass it up because we are too shy to ask or are afraid of being told, “no.” Today, I am sharing images from a time when I was brave enough to just start taking photos and I truly love the results.

Click on over to Mortal Muses for more photos and words about this Seattle-ite.

 

Keep Chasing the Light,

Vanessa

The Rhtym of a (Steller) Story

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Have you played with the new app, Steller? A few weeks ago, fellow Muse, Kirstin wrote about it and ever since I have been hooked. Today, I am talking about how this simple app is helping me find inspiration and use my photography to tell better stories.  Check it out over on Mortal Muses.

Keep chasing the light, Vanessa

PS I am @vanessa over on Steller, if you want to follow along.