What The Dickens…..

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Spending an afternoon strolling around the flora and fauna of St Augustine compels one to want to create.  This town feels so organically grown, so free of stereotypes and so open to allowing in the well-to-do vacationers to spend money to their hearts content.

The art community is so plentiful that I dare say it is over-populated with well meaning folks like myself who consider themselves an artist whether or not any one else considers them so.

If art for meditation is what you are looking for–look no further, St. Augustine offers a plan for the sincere to the talented.  Walking with my camera in this town let’s me challenge my concept of beauty at every nook and cranny and corner or circle that I come to.

These are the best of artist and the worst of artists, misquoting Mr. Dickens.  And while we are on the topic of Dickens an image from a Tale of Two Cities comes to mind.  All that glitters is not gold.

For some, the struggle of homelessness is as real here among the tranquil serenity as it is in the sub-ways of grand cities.  Poor is poor; and, as more of us are becoming poorer and poorer, there is an upper-crust of society that is as rich as any previous Guilded Age.

Our delightful, little, oldest city on the continent is no exception.

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My fickled brain loves Augustine again, not despite its decay, but because of its decay…impermanence is much easier to swallow in the warm than in the cold.

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Before and After: the digital dark room

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It is easy to see why this blog post is called, “Before and After” I really enjoy the process of digital painting in the computer dark-room.

The picture above is a typical example of a very low-luster snap-shot.  The digital image below it is the creatively improved image after some tweaking in Topaz Software dark-room.  In this photo I use one program from the Topaz menu.  I am using Adjust.

By importing the original into the software, I am electing to choose from thousands and maybe millions of various options capable of dramatically or minimally altering the shades, hues, and intensities of the image.

In the Before and After example above, I ended up working more with the top third of the program and less with the bottom third of the program.  The shade of blue is altered to a lighter blue and the light from the sun is altered dramatically to create not only depth, but also contrast in intensities.

Multimedia art forms are catching up to the more traditional two-dimensional art methods.  Computer generated art is not new, it is grown up and establishing itself as a medium for the web as well as for brick and motor galleries.

It does not matter if your photography is for your scrapbook or if it is for a fine-arts portfolio, it deserves to be the best and the most creative that you can make it.

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Above is another rather generic scene of the iconic St. Augustine Bridge of Lions.  The first picture was clearly a wash-out and lacked any visual appeal.  It hardly could serve as a memory and at that it was gray and flat.

The Digital Dark room came in handy as I wanted to have this scene in my library of St Augustine photos.  It is a very familiar scene.  The house we have is located just a minute up the road and this is the path that we take to walk into the ancient city.

Although this photo is somewhat improved, it is also somewhat blow-out with too much saturation.  I will probably make a 3rd variation of this image.  In the mean time it is an illustration that even when you go too far with an image re-construction, you still may end up with something that you liked better than the original.

In the next set of twins you will see how an ordinary street scene, can be turned into a canvas of your own.

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Although the second image is a consequence of the original the two have very different missions.  The first might be a memory of a great day in the center of town, while the second is more of a creation of its own.  It can stand alone as a pleasant canvas.  It is no longer simply representational, but it is creational of its own accord.

 

I hope these three sets of images help you to see that new age photography can be as meditational in the digital dark room as it is out in the field.

 

Happy Shooting

Patterns, Rivulets, the Sea and Impermanence

Another aspect of St. Augustine that is delightful in most any season is the very wide sea-shore, that seemingly ever expansive view that runs from Jacksonville to Daytona and beyond. The beaches here are very wide, so wide in fact that at the far end of the shore cars can drive on the heavily patted down beach sand that acts more like clay than it does like sand.

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What I most recall about my love for the ocean was a phrase that I used to describe my relationship to it.  I called it my constant factor.  I think that I observe it much in the way that a child observes God.  I look straight into its face and feel as if I can see beyond the horizon.  The ebb and flow of the tides, the strength or calmness of the waves, the force of the moon and the pull that it has on the water, these are all aspects of the sea that fell in love with.

sand & seaReturning to the sea is a kind of returning home.  It reminds me of Catholic school conversion experiences.  It was the case that the nuns of the Presentation of Mary like to run miracles in the class room–like bringing a nearly dead plant back to life.  It is how I feel about the sea, or maybe any large body of water. It functions to bring me back to life.

But especially the sea.

I am drawn to the consistency that it shows me.  Be it a storm, a clear day, heavy clouds, or bright sun, the water ebbs and flows with a rhythm that reminds me of my heart and the manner that it beats through my storms and my clear days with regularity.

Of course, I can not compare this vision with a vision of permanence.  Even the ocean will have its own cycle of a birth to death experience.  It will be sometimes into the future I suspect.  But eventually everything dies and there is not always a catholic school nun to revive it.  Miracles are more subtle than that.

The colors and patterns of the shore line are so like the rivulets and channels that connect the insides of my head to other parts of the insides of my head.  A long flowing stream of salt water meandering back to the shore line after a particularly high tide, is a lot like my mind wandering back to that place where I  forgot my soul.

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As I wander on the beach, often times with a deep sense of nostalgia that boders on a sadness, I am remind that the sadness is just another expression of love.  To the extent that I love life is the extent to which I do not want to lose it.  I do not want to let it go in the hopes that an afterlife will be better…This is good enough for me.  I like it here and I am not ready to make a journey past the horizon.

I appreciate the patterns that life applies to me, the patterns that I adopt as I look at the universe and determine for myself what it is that I like and what it is that I do not like.  That central condition of desire emanates just as graciously from the soul as it does from the psyche, or as we call it the ego.

patternsReturning home for me is often a process of stopping completely, clearing all my thought and letting in only the beauty of a moment of existence–however brief.  This still-point is the God particle.  This still-point is the center of where I think from and where I feel from.  But it is also the center of my existence and I have to deliberately return myself to that point in order to enjoy a moment of freedom from the thoughts and allow in the majesty that is the universe–God made or not.

 

 

Images of Galleon in St. Augustine

Galleion

As I mentioned in the previous post, I pass by this 17th century Spanish War Ship each day that I cross from Anastasia Island to Cathedral Square.  I want to post a few more photo-impressionisms of this glorious work of art.  It is both beautiful and an architectural wonder.  Yet, we can not forget its purpose.  It was build to be a massively destructive war ship…so much for the fusion of desire and aggression.

But desire and aggression are not the issue this morning blog.  This ship is the center-fold.  Please enjoy a few more digitally crafted images of the Spanish Galleon.

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The above image is from a dictionary definition of Galleon, a ship built for war.  Don’t you just love the art of pen & ink.  I do, a precise, clean, black and white and grey rendition of the world.

Speaking of black & white this is a photo taken at sunset looking west over the town.

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Here she is, as if ready for a sun set cruise.  What must it have been like to live on one of these or to be and Oar-man on one of these.  The world must have appeared very small and dirty.  Yet with the sun setting on her bow, she looks pretty as a princess ready for a ball.

IMG_4358I could post more shots of this ship and when I board her to get a close up, I am sure that I will add details.

The Galleon: between eternity and impermanence

The galleon is a 17th century type of sailing vessel from Spain.  One is docked in St. Augustine at the moment.  St Augustine is its home port when the ship in in this hemisphere.  I can not help but want to photograph this piece of ancient history that fits in so well with the ancient city ambience that St. Augustine offers residents and visitors alike.  I walk past the ship each time I walk to or from the town.  The Bridge of Lions connects Anastasia Island with the mainland of northern Florida.  From the island it drops you directly in the center of Cathedral-Basillica square.

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I feel blessed each time I make this pilgrimage and when I look at the vessel docked in the St. John river I wonder for a moment–how many people have set forth into the world looking for themselves, finding all kinds of treasures and objects of affection in the process.

THE PROCESS:  between eternity & impermanence

The process is always the answer, because there is no avoiding the present moment.  The process is always present and though we may make a project out of finding it; truly, it always is and it always is, what it is.  Nothing can change that.  We are caught between eternity and impermanence and the only spirit that we can discern is the spirit of the moment as it passes from just a moment ago to now and eventually to what is not-yet-occurring .

august heat: the joy gardening @ the fountain of youth

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it must be the infectious weather.  i am outside 12, 15 hours a day.  I love the heat, the breeze and most of all being nearly naked on a wide expanse of beach and seemingly not seeing anyone, unless you consider the sky someone.  The sky with its orange and blue clouds and and pink and purple highlights throughout, it makes you wonder, am i on another planet…is this too good to be true?

a little man with a very scruffy hat sit at the beach whittling palm branches into curious shapes.  we he has a piece just right he uses a magnifying glass and the sun to etch and burn images and text onto these palm discards.  I love that so much is actually used.

in addition to just being overjoyed with the activities and the pace of this world, i am engaged in becoming younger next year.  why not?  As my useful, productive exercises produce a nice, art-felt creative looking garden, my body is shedding pounds from the heat and the labor…i become hot and restless so I just into my car, park at the beach and within five minutes, I am a fish swimming against a wave, or a wanna-be surfer that comes riding in on a wave scraping bottom–in this case bottom being my protruding stomach.  Another reason to stay in the ocean and swim off some more weight.

It is easy to be in love in this town, not because the men are beautiful and the woman are plentiful, but because everything is so romantic…small out of the way ethnic restaurants, a cove that appears private, so private you are tempted to swim bare.  a bar filled with cowboy hats and men and women two-steppin.  music from the plaza de la constitution, music from a rock club, music from a spanish guitar playing solo to no one in particular in the mournful key of A minor.  fudge and popcorn in more flavors then I knew existed.  good, good european coffee anywhere. and the churches still ring the angelus, and the choir is gregorian and the mass is high, and musical, and intellectually lectured sermons are interesting.

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It is camelot, shangria-la, Don Quixote’s adventure, the Spanish inquisition, the year is 1567, the roads are cobble-stone, a house was recently stained with cranberries.  house drawn carriages, small intimate theater, live Opera, a Picasso exhibit…….

then, i begin to crave co-creating and I start to see how I might have a different life here than I have up north.  work in a landscape company? teach software art? write my book.

gardening is so good to me.  i look at a square or a circle or a corner or a triangle and it begs to me to landscape it into something indigenous and beautiful.  then the exercise of gathering the stone, the brick, the motor, digging up roots, raking level a section–dig some deep holes and line them with a quality grade composted top soil.

then there is the nursery. there the young people know plants like I know diagnostic categories.  so i pick some long limb flowering bougainvillea that will fill a pot 4 feet high by maybe 3 feel wide.  i picked up a trellis to help the youngster to grow right into the old giant oak that stands very tall just behind the fence.  There will be an arch of bogies, and in front of the bogies, i planted a variety of flowering plants in the 4 to 8 feet range; and just in front of that is a row of rosemary that we hope to see grow into tall eatable herbs.  and the out-door whirlpool sits in the middle of this jungle-like garden.

 

Getting ready to leave, st. augustine, but would sure like to have stayed on at least one more month, Perhaps soon.

I am manifesting many wishes and most are granted with no strings attached, except to be a good man; that is, to be accountable to an examined analytic  matrix.  The contents of a each man is different, because “each” means that it is onto itself that the values mush be evaluated and attached.

Here in St. Augustine where there are many imports, from other cities in America, we experience a conservative acceptance of each other–beneath the core, I can not tell yet if there is real soul.  From the looks of it, it has to have soul; but I am too new here to thrown out any opinions.  For now, the feeling is that of being in Love…this too shall pass, I presume; but until then I am going to photograph, paint, draw, write and pray full-out for my continued manifesting and my mission to help the world to see how much beauty there lies in the least excepted places.

 

Once again Deliberate Intent is here to suggest that we can let a great deal of beauty pass us by when our heads are buried in the sand.  Beauty must be aggressively sought after.  It is a component of drive and as such it has great powers that can lie dormant for a life time, if they are not awakened..

Like the nursery rhyme where sleeping beauty is woken by a kiss from a Prince…ok, so who would not wake up for that, beauty was the passion that sent the kiss.  And what of Helen Of Troy, navies and armies were sent to fetch her home…we can go to no limits if the drive is strong enough….

To be in a place of beauty, a state of Grace, it is wise first to have examined who you are and why you like what you like and what you don’t like and why?  We need that infusion of our own reality, our subjective world has to be touched by the instincts as well as by the over-bearing ego.

Deliberately Aim for Beauty.

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