Category Archives: Photography

Mugshots

Steam rises from a cup of tea
and we are wrapped in history,
inhaling ancient times and lands,
comfort of ages in our hands.
Faith Greenbowl*

Mugshots
I’ve said before that I don’t aim for variety in my 365, but rather that I want to find new ways to explore my everyday surroundings. Nowadays, that means lots of images of my favourite beverage – tea, as well as the occasional mug of coffee. With the different types of mugs and the different places I drink it, combined with all the processing options of my mobile camera apps, the possibility for variety is surprising.

* Anyone know who Faith Greenbowl is? I tried to google her name, but got only quotes about tea and an Amazon reviewer. Another example of a quote that’s too good not to share even if the source is in doubt.

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Black and White Monday

Language is wine upon the lips. –Virginia Woolf

Waiting
The above quote is one of my all-time favourites. It evokes a full-bodied red wine, enjoyed in good company, while eating delicious food. It evokes laughter. Friendship. Candles gently lighting the room.

I have wanted to know where this sentence is taken from. What is its context? For what kind of story did she come up with this metaphor? I have found only two answers to these questions, neither completely satisfactory.

According to one blog I found, she said once said this to her husband Leonard. No source was provided for this piece of information.

Using Ctrl+F to search for the phrase “wine upon” in her works on Project Gutenberg, I found the following sentence, from her book Jacob’s Room:

Cowan, Erasmus Cowan, sipped his port alone, or with one rosy little man, whose memory held precisely the same span of time; sipped his port, and told his stories, and without book before him intoned Latin, Virgil and Catullus, as if language were wine upon his lips.

At this point I almost regret looking for the context. For one thing, the words are not exactly the same. The book version is tied to a person, a he, Erasmus Cowan, that I can’t know without reading the book, and now the perfect adaptability of the internet quote is destroyed. What is more, Cowan is drinking port wine while telling stories, so there is an almost physical connection between the wine and the language rather than the evocative metaphoric connection of the internet quote.

The point of all this? For once I should have remembered the old line about never letting the truth get in the way of a good story instead of following my native academic instinct to dig for sources and originals.


Liberated Art

Along with more than two hundred fellow photographer-artists, I participated in Kat’s Liberate Your Art Postcard Swap. I sent Kat five postcards with my own photos on the front, and got back postcards from five other swap participants as well as one from Kat. I really enjoyed this, not only because I love finding things in my mailbox that are neither advertising nor bills, but also because I love that sense of being part of a huge web of people spread all over the world.

Let me share the six postcards I got:

A photo of a charming row of houses on the Isle of Palms, S. C. from Suzie Puetz:
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Go look at some of Suzie’s gorgeous images, like these from the inside of a brewery.

This is the one from Kat herself. Would you look at those gorgeous colours and textures! Unfortunately someone somewhere in the postal system fastened a white sticker down one side on the front.
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Having more or less grown up by the sea, I absolutely adore this amazing image of a crab:
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I can’t make out the signature on this card – do speak up if it is from you! I did manage to make out the quote on the card – an interesting piece of thought by René Descartes:

If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things.

This colourful beauty is from Margie in the US, and the message on it reads: Live your life in full color! So very important.
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Then a fascinating collage from Lui in the Phillipines:
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And finally this one from April Cole, showing a ‘perfect pear’ that appears to be made from the pages of a book. How awesome is that?!
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And to think, these are only six of the more than thousand pieces of art shared in the swap! There is a link to the blog hop below – do go check out some of the others. I’m on my way there myself 🙂



Colour and design

We’ve had heavy snowfalls during the last few winters, rendering the world in shades of black and white. A few years ago I commented to a friend during winter that I was tired of shooting naturally monochrome images and was longing for spring to produce some colours to fill my lens with.

She, being a true art historian, referred to what she called colore e disegno – ‘colour or design’ – the great debate in Italian Renaissance art. As I understand it, there was one school of thought that used shape and composition to determine what is a good picture, while the opposing side considered colour as the most important property by which to judge an image.

This distinction makes so much sense to me as a photographer, and I’m realising that I will take both sides of this debate at one time or another, depending on my mood, state of inspiration and the season.

An image with the main focus on lines and shapes and forms will often be very well suited to black and white. Such studies are perfect for the winter season; when the point is to highlight the shape of a thing, colour is often more a distraction than anything else.

On the other hand, deliberately including colour in a composition can make for spectacular, emotional images. At this point, summer is in full force, and the more I look around me, the more I become aware of and learn to appreciate how the world is drenched in colour. Outside my office window the red, white and blue Norwegian flag is waving in the wind against a backdrop of lush, green leaves. Walking home from work I pass by sunny-yellow flowers and house facades that glow fiery red in the sun. At this point I can do nothing but soak up the bright colours surrounding me, with my lens and with my mind, in order to be ready, with fully recharged batteries, for the inevitable return of the monochrome season.

{244/365} Picture Colour Day 1: Disegno e colore


Yogi Tea Inspiration

Yogi tea quotes range from the incomprehensible to the obvious to the beautiful and thought-provoking. Here’s an example of the latter:

Yogi Tea Wisdom

At first glance, I didn’t get this at all. I mean, how can words be a fragrance? Also, there is the association between the word and the heart. Just as written language is considered an abstraction of spoken language and thereby one step removed from our language ability, so words in general tend to be seen as an abstraction of our emotions, one step removed from how we really feel. I mean – we’ve all experienced it, that feeling of being unable to put into words what is in our hearts just when it counts the most.

What this quote says to me, though, is that words are all we have. Our actions may speak for themselves sometimes, and sometimes we put our whole heart into our visual art, but words are our main tool for communicating with the people we share this world with.

The fragrance of the rose doesn’t tell you everything there is to know about the rose, but it does tell you it’s a beautiful thing, and thus it may be with our words and our heart, if we want it to.


Painting language

I have never expected to be any good at anything relating to drawing or painting. I enjoyed it as a kid but never had any formal training, and once I grew up enough that drawing and painting was “childish”, I never really missed it or went back to it, perhaps except for frequent droodling in my notebooks as a student and academic. I guess that is why I have enjoyed getting my old watercolours out for Creative Boot Camp. Since no one, myself included, expects me to be good at it, I don’t have that nasty mental voice telling me that what I do isn’t good enough.

{228/365} Painting language [shooting language]

When asked to jump right in and get some art on the page, in order to keep away that other mental voice that says you can’t do this, it is no coincidence that the first thing that occured to me to paint was letters. I have always been a verbal person more than anything. Much more so than a visual person. My parents tell stories of how I was far more interested in the letters than the pictures in my books as soon as I became aware of the letters themselves and their connection with what my parents were reading to me. Learning to read and write, I was fascinated by the shapes of letters and the relationship between them – the similarities between the sounds and shapes of p and b for instance, and the fact that all the letters combine on the page to make up an infinte amount of different utterances. –This focus on forms and shapes – including the circle – is something I want to develop more in my photography in general.

When I began to focus seriously on photography, my interest in letters planted an urge to translate language into something visually interesting to look at. Language itself is in essence an intagible entity; only by using letters to abstract it onto the page are we able to “see” it. My project Shooting Language is where I stumble along the path of discovering what language looks like.

There is a political side to this idea of shooting language, quite apart from the my artistic fascination with letters. Like many smaller countries in the world, Norway cannot do without English any longer. This fact is displayed not only in the fact that quite a few Norwegians achieve fluency in English and use it frequently in their work, but in the linguistic landscapes of the country. There is advertising in English, English film titles displayed on cinema facades, English books on the bookstore shelves, and so on and so forth. Norwegian is not, at this point, at risk of being replaced by English. That being said, it will serve us well if we are aware of it when English starts to become more dominant in certain aspects of Norwegian life. I certainly agree that happiness is a way of life, but I would by far prefer to live a happy life in Norway in Norwegian.

Happiness is a way of life. [shooting language]


Kitchen geometry

There is a wealth of symbolic meaning attached to the circle. Enclosing and nurturing. Femininity. The world we travel. Eternity. Ouroboros, the serpent biting its own tail, found in a number of different cultures and time periods. In Norse mythology, the World Serpent Jörmundgandr lies in the sea surrounding the world and bites his own tail. The world as we know it ends when he lets go.

Inspired by Mortal Muses and Tracey Clark’s Picture classes, I’ve been looking through my lens for beauty in a room where I enjoy spending a lot of time, namely the kitchen. What I’ve found, more than anything else, are circles. That seems altogether fitting, in the room where I spend time creating sustenance for my family and myself.

Enjoying the result of last Sunday’s baking session – cookies with chocolate and cranberries:
{220/365} Kitchen geometry

Some of our favourite meals include champignon:
More kitchen geometry

I bake a lot of cupcakes and muffins:
{198/365} Saturday baking

And finally, tea is absolutely essential:
{191/365} Picture Spring 2, Day 9: Everyday Beauty
{203/365} Picture Spring 2, Day 21: Daily rounds