Two Cameras: Two settings, Same Image

My old Canon FTb was a wonderful camera.  I used it to take this shot of a rusted metal sign advertising Kent cigarettes overlaying an earlier advertisement for L & M cigarettes.  Never a smoker myself I was attracted to the worn, faded image rather than the message.  The original photo was taken 35 years ago.

Since I bought my new Nikon D-5100 DSLR I have been struggling to master the camera’s potential.  Because this weekend is wonderfully dark and dreary, I have little opportunity for outdoor photography.  No complaints here, we’ve needed the rain!  But I am anxious to continue to explore, and have fun with, my camera.

I decided to manipulate  the image of this ragged old  sign.  Here it is.  The photograph was taken using he “effects” mode setting on my Nikon,  dialed to “color sketch”.

Oneida Community–Where Giants Walked

“Where giants walked”.  Those are the words our tour guide, the curator of the Mansion House in Oneida, New York, used to describe the Oneida Community.  Disbanded more than 120 years ago, the community grounds still emit a feeling both vibrant and tranquil.

I didn’t know what to expect when the “cousins trip” arrived in Oneida.  What we found far exceeded even my enthusiastic expectations.  We spent a night in the Mansion House where our rooms were simple but lovely.  The environment was so much more.

The Oneida Community was founded in the belief that individuals can become free from sin while still here on earth.  Beyond their religious aspirations, their practical reality involved a focus on hard community labor, culture, music, art and literature.  These values resonated throughout the community.  Beautification of the grounds of the Mansion House and of the surrounding community are evident today.

While much of the Mansion House is plain, befitting a society based on de-emphasizing private property, there was an emphasis on beauty of the common areas.  The great hall that was a central meeting area demonstrates the community’s commitment to perfection in its culture and art.

The grounds are lovely, incorporating gardens, simple fountains and open areas surrounded by trees.


Artistic endeavors were encouraged.  The museum displays beautiful art such as this unique braided rug that are  wonderful works of craftsmanship.

The library was a focal point of daily life, filled with books that were identified as incorporating all of the knowledge important to a learned community.  It remains a great place to visit and study.

While long disbanded as a religious community, descendants of community members continue to live in the shadow of the Mansion House.  While their homes are not elegant, they are as graceful, well-groomed and inviting as the people who live there.

Welcome to “Utopia”.

Ann’s Office through the eyes of Color Sketch

Color sketch is a so-called “effects mode” on my Nikon.  Described by photography writer, Chris Hall, as “making something out of nothing”, these photographs prove you can create art out of everyday things.  The first photograph is the view from my office chair.  You can see my clock, weights, M&M machine and books.  In the upper left hand corner is a calendar Meg gave me for Christmas.  The cover is a photograph of my husband, Terry, sitting in the back yard.

The beautiful flowers in this shot are really ink pens Meg gave me for my birthday in 2009.  She was  in the midst of final exams her first year of law school.

These photographs include some of my favorite reminders of Meg and Terry. But color sketch sure does make my office more fun for those who don’t understand the pure pleasure I get from the treasures with which I have chosen to surround myself.

The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, Italy

The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore/Flower, dominates the central square in Florence, Italy.  Construction began in 1296 and was completed in 1436. It stands on the site of an earlier church erected during the 7th century.  Identified as a basilica or duomo, the complex of buildings at the site a cathedral, it is the home congregation for the Archbishop of Florence.  Wow.  When Terry and I visited Florence in 2011, 575 years after it was completed, I had to marvel at the comparatively pristine condition of the complex.

Our day in Northern Italy would not have been complete without visiting this architectural marvel. The architecture is alternately described as  Gothic, Classic and Romanesque, because it has elements of each of those styles and more.  The world was changing in the late 1300’s and the early 1400’s. The architecture of this magnificent structure was changing with it.

At the extreme right in the photograph is the bell tower, or Campanile, the second of the three buildings in the cathedral complex.  It’s design and construction were overseen, until his death, by the famous Italian architect and painter, Giotto di Bondone.  The pink, white and green facade reflects the natural colors of the marble from which the facade of the building was constructed. The intricate designs, exquisite windows and interior and exterior sculptures and Biblical works of art, are characteristic of the churches of Northern Italy built at that time.  But this is no less a masterpiece.

I particularly focused on the gilt bronze panels on the doors that  are situated on three sides of the duomo.  Additional, similar doors are on the baptistery, the third buildings in the cathedral complex.  Like every other aspect of the cathedral, the craftsmanship and detail are of the highest quality.  They evidence that the finest artists and intellectuals gravitated to Florence and helped usher in the Italian Renaissance.  Look at the detail of the faces and the elegance of the horns.

Surrounded by galleries, palaces and museums, the cathedral establishes Florence’s role as a center of  culture in the 1400’s.  Not surprisingly, the historic centre of the city is designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.  It shares that designation with Dubrovnik, Croatia, which has also been featured on this blog.

The “Art of the Car Concours”: a Kansas City Art Institute Tradition

Sunday morning Terry and I spent a wonderful hour on the grounds of the Kansas City Art Institute wandering among approximately 180 vintage automobiles and motorcycles.  They included U.S., German, English, Swedish and Italian automobiles.   Most were truly classics.  Every one was worthy of a place in the show.

Even by arriving at 10 a.m., when the event opened to the public, we were surrounded by exhibitors, automobile enthusiasts and those who were merely curious to see this remarkable display of history.  Many attend every year.  Some were there for the first time.

The younger generations will not remember the “woody”, which is remarkable not only because of its exterior wood panels and funny shape, but also because of the songs that sing its praises.  Even if you are under 50, maybe you have heard that great song: “I got a ’34 wagon and we call it a woody, surf city here we come” by Jan & Dean.

Well, this is a woody and it is pure nostalgia for me!

But there were so many wonderful and unique vehicles.  The convertibles and “carriages” reminded me of “toad hollow” meets the “Great Gatsby”.

There is no vehicle built today that is as creative, colorful and has nearly the personality as this 1913 Hudson.

Or this one, that looks like it should be powered by a horse rather than an engine.  I guess that is why they were called “horseless carriages”.

Last but definitely not least, here is another real beauty taken from Terry’s iPhone camera.  The woman in the background taking a photograph of another wonderful antique is yours truly.

If nothing else I have written about Kansas City has persuaded you to travel to our fair city, maybe you will want to make a special visit to Kansas City for next year’s “Art of the Car Concours”.

I promise you will not be disappointed.

Mom goes back to school again: my introductory photography class

There is so much to learn with a new camera.  As soon as I bought my Nikon D5100 DSLR camera I signed up for a three hours class with a wonderful Kansas City photographer.  It was one of those classes where you pass the course just by attending and not dropping your camera.  With only those minimal requirements for success, I squeaked through.

I learned far more than I expected and gained some sense of the ways to improve the photographs I take.  But there is oh, so much more, that was totally beyond my feeble attempts to understand. All I can do is practice, practice, practice.  I am sure I wasn’t the only member of the class struggling.  But we had lots of help and explored nearly every gizmo on our cameras.

As grateful as I was for the technical information, I was more excited by the instructor’s obvious passion for photography as an art form.  He encouraged us to look at ordinary objects and to envision them as art.

Among the ordinary objects in my life are the stairs where I work.  I walk up and down these stairs day in and day out.  But art????  I decided that if he can make art from the ordinary, I can try to do the same thing. Here are my efforts to turn stairs into art.

Stairs up:

Stairs down:

If nothing else, the photographic images, reveal that photograph is a lot like our everyday experience, it is a lot easier to see life looking down, than envisioning life looking up!

Learning to use my new DSLR camera

After considerable research I recently purchased a Nikon D5100 DSLR camera.  I am re-learning how to use a “real” camera while reading a primer, entitled Nikon D5100 From Snapshots to Great Shots, by Rob Sylvan.  It is a great tool for me, despite my struggles to even remember the language of photography.  Terms like “rule of thirds”, “mode” and “ISO” fill the text as I learn the features of my camera and begin to explore its potential.

When I am weary of reading about my camera, I jump in my car and go find interesting places to photograph. I take the same shot over and over using different features on my camera.

Here is a photograph of the Rose Garden Fountain at Loose Park using auto focus.

Here is the same scene using the color sketch mode on my Nikon.  This mode creates photographs that are similar to water colors.  Go figure!

Same place, same light, just a different mode setting.  Some things in life are just for fun.

“Premio Ulysses” at Forte dei Marmi, Italy

Contemporary artist and sculptor, Anna Chromy, created this powerful bronze representation of the mythic hero, Ulysses. Born in Bohemia (Czech Republic),  in 1940, she is known for her portrayals of Ulysses, and other mythical Greek and Olympic heroes. The statue stands at the pier, in full view of the ships that sail in and out of the harbor.   The wheel Ulysses struggles to control represents our attempts to steer our lives in the face of destiny.  Representing power, human frailty and an element of satire, he captivates visitors who enter the port by land and sea.

Chromy’s works appear in museums throughout Europe and her sculptures have found homes in public and private parks, residences and estates of royalty.

Cathedral at Orvieto, Italy

The Duomo at Orvieto is considered one of central Italy’s most beautiful cathedrals.  The construction of the massive structure extended for more than 3 centuries.  The cornerstone of  this magnificent cathedral was laid in 1290 A.D. by Pope Nicolas IV. He wanted a place to house a “miracle”, the Corporal of Bolsena.

It is strikingly beautiful.  Colorful murals and statues cover the exterior of the building are by many of the finest artists of the day, including Lorenzo Maitani.  The interior of the cathedral has frescoes by such artists as Fra Angelico and Luca Signorelli.  The cathedral, completed in the early 1600s, is considered to be a masterpiece of Gothic architecture.

The design and intricate detail of the cathedral flow together as the works of art–sculptures, mosaics, frescoes,windows, the carved stone and even the gables–are filled with Biblical scenes.  It is truly a work of art.