"Pay attention to the world." -- Susan Sontag
 

Summer 2020: Lily Variations (9 of 10)

From The Soul of America by Jon Meacham:

“To know what has come before is to be armed against despair. If the men and women of the past, with all their flaws and limitations and ambitions and appetites, could press on through ignorance and superstition, racism and sexism, selfishness and greed, to create a freer, stronger nation, then perhaps we, too, can right wrongs and take another step toward that most enchanting and elusive of destinations: a more perfect Union.

“To do so requires innumerable acts of citizenship and of private grace. It will require, as it has in the past, the witness and the bravery of reformers who hold no office and who have no traditional power but who yearn for a better, fairer way of life. And it will also require, I believe, a president of the United States with a temperamental disposition to speak to the country’s hopes rather than to its fears.”


We’re almost to the end of the summery lily photos, at which point I’ll finally concede that summer is over and start my autumn color hunt — especially since the calendar is telling me it’s November 11 and that’s a pretty accurate sign of fall. See: conceding is easy; you just gotta respect the facts!

If you’ve ever wondered why the season between summer and winter has two names, here’s a fun article that explains how that came about. The word “fall” — as it turns out — actually has something to do with what leaves do this time of year. Who knew?

Why Does the Season Before Winter Have Two Names

Below are a some deep red lilies from my Oakland Cemetery photoshoots; they are, I think, tiger lily variants. The first gallery is a before-and-after image of one of the photos, stylized as I described previously (see Summer 2020: Lily Variations (7 of 10)) — but in this case I left a bit of extra green left intact in the background. Select either image to view them in a slideshow if you would like to see larger versions to compare.






The previous posts in this series are:

Summer 2020: Lily Variations (1 of 10)

Summer 2020: Lily Variations (2 of 10)

Summer 2020: Lily Variations (3 of 10)

Summer 2020: Lily Variations (4 of 10)

Summer 2020: Lily Variations (5 of 10)

Summer 2020: Lily Variations (6 of 10)

Summer 2020: Lily Variations (7 of 10)

Summer 2020: Lily Variations (8 of 10)

Thanks for taking a look!


Summer 2020: Lily Variations (8 of 10)

From Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn:

“Picture the most beautiful mountain you know or know of or can imagine, one whose form speaks personally to you. As you focus on the image or the feeling of the mountain in your mind’s eye, notice its overall shape, the lofty peak, the base rooted in the rock of the earth’s crust, the steep or gently sloping sides. Note as well how massive it is, how unmoving, how beautiful whether seen from afar or up close…. 

“Perhaps your mountain has snow at the top and trees on the lower slopes. Perhaps it has one prominent peak, perhaps a series of peaks or a high plateau. However it appears, just sit and breathe with the image of this mountain, observing it, noting its qualities…. 

“Now, as well you know, throughout the day as the sun travels the sky, the mountain just sits. Light and shadow and colors are changing virtually moment to moment in the mountain’s adamantine stillness. Even the untrained eye can see changes by the hour…. As the light changes, as night follows day and day night, the mountain just sits, simply being itself. It remains still as the seasons flow into one another and as the weather changes moment by moment and day by day…. 

“Calmness abiding all change.”


Since tomorrow is Election Day here in the United States — and it may have some … shall we say … volatility to it — I picked out a quotation of the “Keep Calm and Carry On” variety for this post, instead of one about lilies or flowers. The quote is extracted from a meditation exercise in Jon Kabat-Zinn’s book — and while I don’t practice meditation, I’m fairly well read on mindfulness and present-moment awareness as psychological concepts. Short version: exercises like this — along with many immersive nature or creative activities — can help center you as a living being in a moment of time, linking you to a nearly endless experience of light, color, sound, and calm breathing … rather than whatever chaotic, noisy, ratty-ass crap is going on around you. So if you get tense watching election coverage tomorrow … just imagine your mountain, instead.

Below are a few more lily photo galleries, the first of which is a before-and-after image of one of the photos, stylized as I described previously (see Summer 2020: Lily Variations (7 of 10)). We are approaching the end of this series just as colder weather — including a few frosty nights — has made its way into Atlanta, and finally I’m starting to see some autumn yellows and oranges brushing the leaves nearby. Big photoshoots planned! So stay tuned!






The previous posts in this series are:

Summer 2020: Lily Variations (1 of 10)

Summer 2020: Lily Variations (2 of 10)

Summer 2020: Lily Variations (3 of 10)

Summer 2020: Lily Variations (4 of 10)

Summer 2020: Lily Variations (5 of 10)

Summer 2020: Lily Variations (6 of 10)

Summer 2020: Lily Variations (7 of 10)

Thanks for taking a look!


Summer 2020: Lily Variations (7 of 10)

From “Summer Days at Mount Shasta” in John Muir Ultimate Collection: Travel Memoirs, Wilderness Essays, Environmental Studies and Letters by John Muir:

“The common honeybees, gone wild in this sweet wilderness, gather tons of honey into the hollows of the trees and rocks, clambering eagerly through bramble and hucklebloom, shaking the clustered bells of the generous manzanita, now humming aloft among polleny willows and firs, now down on the ashy ground among small gilias and buttercups, and anon plunging into banks of snowy cherry and buckthorn….

They consider the lilies and roll into them, pushing their blunt polleny faces against them like babies on their mother’s bosom; and fondly, too, with eternal love does Mother Nature clasp her small bee-babies and suckle them, multitudes at once, on her warm Shasta breast. Besides the common honeybee there are many others here, fine, burly, mossy fellows, such as were nourished on the mountains many a flowery century before the advent of the domestic species — bumblebees, mason-bees, carpenter-bees, and leaf-cutters. Butterflies, too, and moths of every size and pattern; some wide-winged like bats, flapping slowly and sailing in easy curves; others like small flying violets shaking about loosely in short zigzag flights close to the flowers, feasting in plenty night and day.”


In the last four of my summer lily posts — starting with this one — I’ll be showcasing galleries where I took a lot of creative license with the original images and tried to transform them in new ways. When I took these photos, the lilies were blooming abundantly — with many of the blossoms in large clumps making it difficult to isolate just one, two, or even three of the blooms without also including many that were not yet opened, along with more of the background than I wanted. Here’s an example of what I mean: a fine looking Swamp Lily variation with way too much busy-ness beyond the foreground of the photo.

Whereas I often use Lightroom brushes to carefully trace around image elements to eliminate the background, for these images I tried to use the brush tools like paintbrushes by first turning the entire image black then using a sweeping motion with the mouse to selectively remove the black mask. This is probably something that physically or mechanically would work better with a tablet and stylus; but I did manage it quite well after getting used to some awkward arcing or sweeping mouse movements, then zooming in to add or remove additional black masking wherever I got carried away.

Here are a couple of before-and-after views showing one batch of lilies where I removed much of the background as well as many of the blooms that hadn’t opened yet or faced away from my camera. The first view features the new “image compare” block WordPress recently introduced (see WordPress.com instructions or Jetpack/self-hosted site instructions); the second view shows the before and after versions as a slideshow (click the first image to enlarge).



Here are the final images — first, this peppermint-candy-looking lily, followed by different angles of the Swamp Lily.




The previous posts in this series are:

Summer 2020: Lily Variations (1 of 10)

Summer 2020: Lily Variations (2 of 10)

Summer 2020: Lily Variations (3 of 10)

Summer 2020: Lily Variations (4 of 10)

Summer 2020: Lily Variations (5 of 10)

Summer 2020: Lily Variations (6 of 10)

Thanks for taking a look!


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