UPWARDS

Spring is not quite yet upon us. Looking to the ground I see small signs of the burgeoning life forces. Green still are the pines against the pale blue skies of late winter. With cabin fever and a temperature near 50F, away I went with my Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 to walk a new forest trail.

Around frame 24, I decided to make a left and hike further into the Pemberton Preserve. I’m really glad that I did because I started to capture better images. The landscape changed, bringing more than the faithful pines that predominated my views. In addition to upwards I went onwards. Alone with the trees I was sun-bound.

My total trip was about 5 mi hiking that lasted 4 hours with 300 shutter actions. These are 56 of my favorites:

UPWARDS © 2013 NATE METZ

BLOG CIRCLE: Photo Display

I expressed interest in joining the blog circle because I display pieces of my work in my house that hold great importance to me. They are photographs, paintings, and collage that reflect my spiritual journey as an artist. This work is found on the walls of my bedroom and at my altar where I meditate. The initial call for entry that I saw on the Delaware Photographers Network asked for us to share how we showcase our work in our homes. Today I realized that I had joined a circle of photographers specializing in Family Portraits! So, while we coo over everyone’s beautiful families and friends today, I share with you some displays of a different kind of family. I cherish my work as offspring from my intuition and inspiration. I hope you enjoy:

The next blog on your journey belongs to Theresa and will take you to Southwestern USA. She specializes in natural light family photography. Check out Creative Flair Photography here:

http://www.creativeflairphotography.com/blog/

And, thank you Erin for organizing the circle!

TRANSLUCENT

TRANSLUCENT STUDY © 2012 NATE METZ

Here we are at the end of my translucent study! In addition to these last three images in the series posted above, I entered 2 photo challenges (trees and beauty). And over the past few weeks I have shared parts of the study (1, 2, 3, 4).

While shooting this fall, I really didn’t want to shoot cliched images. In light of feedback on the images selected for AWAKE that they were “just pretty” and many could not stand alone in a frame on a wall in a gallery or museum, I sort of went up against myself and my voice. The challenge was for me to take pictures that carried the spiritual connotations without a lengthy philosophical explanation AND that were technically proficient AND that were aesthetically attractive. I did not meet my own criteria on all of these images, but I posted them anyway! One of the greatest life lessons learned is imperfection. Allowing slightly out of focus images and untouched images to be posted next to my favorites is one way I practice my spirituality through art.

I faced the cliches strongest during voting periods of the two photo challenges. I found that people were taking and posting images that were touristy or pedestrian. This critique is not meant to be condescending or to place my view in a superior ranking. The majority of the popular images were indeed very beautiful, some even professional in technical photographic skill. Yet, I still see a lack in artistic expression in that forum. Considering the host site is very clearly a hobbyist/enthusiast site I don’t know why I still analyze this feature so heavily. I am finding these differences more and more as I compare my work to other photographers’. It is as simple as my self-referencial title: artist. I see myself as an artist and not a photographer even though a dSLR is my primary art-making apparatus. My intuition and guidance indicates that I am so sensitive now to these differences because my artistic voice is still forming and I will be able to clearly delineate my style and my approach to my art.

As for what I do like from the Translucent study, these images speak strongest for me:

Translucent Study - Frame 6 © 2012 NATE METZ
SIX

Translucent Study 19 © 2012 NATE METZ
NINETEEN

Translucent Study 29 © 2012 NATE METZ
TWENTY NINE

TRANSLUCENT

Here is the fourth installment of my translucent study. Combined with my previous set, these are some of my favorite images. I think the soft and layered light is really beautiful and renders great colors. The fallen leaves show the lack of luminescence with a diminishing life force and show a great contrast in color and dimension to the other leaves:

Translucent Study © 2012 NATE METZ

If you like any of these images, please feel free to click the Facebook button below and share it with your friends! I do enjoy getting feedback on my work no matter your level of expertise in photography as I don’t think you need an MFA or a 30 years career to enjoy great art!

BEAUTY

Cold Fall Oak © 2012 NATE METZ

I entered the photo challenge again: BEAUTY. I opted for a beautiful subject often overshadowed for a loved one’s portrait, the flashy flower, and picturesque landscapes. The voting showed this preference, ranking my submission at 38 of 39. Once again, I do not feel that my technical skill or composition was off the mark, but it is my point of view as an artist. I am not a classic photographer; I do not shoot in a studio; I do not carry 3 flashes. I am grateful for a comment received during voting that complimented the technical aspects of the photograph and questioned my cropping. The balanced critique helped me to solidify my choices leading up to the final composition.

I really like my entry. It is consistent with my aesthetic of tight crops and use of color. I am studying translucent light, so I was happy to include my work there, here. And, as I stated with the photograph during the challenge, I think the understated colors of late fall are very beautiful. My solidarity, strength and staunch conviction of my work is captured beautifully by the oak tree!

TRANSLUCENT

This third installment contains more foliage, but much less translucent. I maintained a lightness about the leaves without strong backlighting from the sun or my high intensity flashlight. You can also see I clearly took advantage of the beautiful changes in the trees this time of year. Autumn is by far my favorite season to photograph trees because of the subtle changes from day to day in each leaf. It is constant new material for inspiration. I can always capture a new frame on the same tree as long as the weather patterns hold.

Translucent Study © 2012 NATE METZ

Plants & Trees

I took advantage of the most recent photo challenge to shoot some more translucent shots of the fall foliage. We have one tree that is always the last to hold onto its leaves. When they change it happens over about 3 days and then they are all gone like in a flash fire of orange. Timing didn’t work out well with the challenge to get that coloring, but I am happy with the muted colors I did capture.

I ranked 20th, falling behind similar shots of trees with more vibrant foliage. I could have walked another 20 feet to another tree with vibrant leaves, but the light play of the sun was much more pleasing on the first tree. My intuition even let me know that if I didn’t shoot a traditional fall colors photograph for the challenge I couldn’t win. With the next challenge theme up, it’s on to the next one!

Life Lessons Learned

After reading Pam’s guest blog, a lot of emotions got stirred up around trees. My life is going through a series of rapid changes, and as I cope and adjust as best I can, I visualize myself as a tree firmly grounded yet bending with the wind and change of seasons. So, I’d like to open up more about why trees appear so often in my work and provide a wider context to my work. My intuition is pushing me to include this information as part of my evolution as an artist.


Journey of the Fall © 2012 NATE METZ
Journey of the Fall © 2012 NATE METZ
Trees are very important to me because of the found memories of climbing trees when I was younger (okay, even just last year!). Whenever I picture my happy place it is always in a forest surrounded by beautiful trees. In recovery, my earliest interpretation of a higher power was The Tree of Life. My spiritual journey has taught me the interconnectedness of our lives and symbolically the tree connects the below, the here, and the above … the past, the present, the future. The symbol of the tree goes much deeper, repeating the connecting branching patterns in many areas of nature and appears in most every religious faith. Trees also continue to grow through their entire lifetime, adding a new growth ring each year, always growing.

So what lessons have I learned from trees about my artwork?

I wrapped up my class: Cultivating Collectors with the Art Biz Coach one week ago. I’ve spent the last week reflecting on what I learned in the class (a lot!) and how it dovetails with many other life lessons I’ve experienced in recovery. I honestly believe that what I learn in recovery is much bigger than just sobriety and what I learn in art is much bigger than the work. These lessons are the trunk if you will, rooted in a history and collective wisdom, and then branch out into other areas of life.

LIFE LESSONS

  1. I can’t do it all. I can’t do it all alone. I can’t do it all right now. But, start somewhere. Start now.
  2. Practice gratitude daily.
  3. Make a plan. Set goals. Write action steps. Reach for my dreams.
  4. Connect to other people. Find the common ground between us.
  5. Recognize my accomplishments. Honor and reward myself.
  6. Ask for help when I need it.
  7. Enjoy the process. Enjoy the journey.

Thank you for sharing in my journey. I’ll have the next set of my translucence work up soon!

For The Love of Trees – GUEST BLOG

The lovely tree, glorious and humble all at once.

For millions of years, the tree has been the most relevant plant on our planet. Whole species have evolved and survived among the protective embrace of its branches, peoples have worshipped it, and societies have thrived on its gifts of food and shelter. However, in the last 200 years just in the United States, our society has launched an all out war on one of the very elements of our own survival. Systematically destroying millions of acres of forest and cover for industry and development, we have disconnected from an anchor in our own evolution.

In my introverted childhood, I would seek out the comfort of trees to calm my mind, to escape from a turbulent household, and to claim great unknown adventures. The quiet friendship offered to me by trees has shaped me as a person and as an artist.

Some of my most cherished memories include deeply inhaling the thick smell of pine during a summer day at Cape Henlopen, witches noses and monkey balls, fresh apples, the mane of the willow my husband and I were married under, climbing under the branches of a Magnolia tree in Georgia so old my mother and I were able to stand underneath it, Dr. Seuss’s “The Lorax”, falling out of a treehouse my brother and I built, climbing to the very VERY top of the same tree within a few weeks and hiding from the taunts of a neighborhood boy, so many more that it breaks my heart to think that not everyone knows the same kind of love I have for trees.


The Tree 1 © Pamela Slaton

“The Tree 1″ was an attempt at honoring the very living thing that breaths with us. Every branch was painstakingly rendered, line by line, in several colors to reach the reddish brown of its bark and each cluster of leaves burnished and layered many times. It is by far my favorite piece, and has become a signature image for me.

As I finished the drawing, the weeping cherry trees along my road began to blossom. It was intoxicating, and the flowers were of such an exquisite beauty, I nearly wept. I took hundreds of reference photos, but they barely captured the delicate and ancient glory of thousands upon thousands of flowers suspended overhead against the clear blue sky.


Cherry Blossoms © Pamela Slaton


Cherry Blossoms © Pamela Slaton

The process of drawing this will be long and difficult, with each mark on paper a step back into the moments that served to form me as an artist. I hope with every day that conservation is not left just to the people like myself, but to everyone, because everyone benefits, everyone and everything’s survival depends on the survival of the trees.

About our guest blogger:

“Completely self taught, I have only taken a high school art class. Through many years of reading, experimenting, and practicing, I have taken the humble graphite pencil, charcoal stick and colored pencil, as well as other mediums, and learned to create beautiful portraits and illustrative drawings. What I enjoy most is how often the personality of the subject can be read through a portrait. A certain smile or glance, how one sits or holds their head, among other things, are all subtle ways the subjects individuality comes through.”

To learn more about Pamela:

Website: Expressive detailed portraits and art in graphite, charcoal, colored pencil and mixed media
Facebook: Portraits and Art of Pamela Slaton

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