Sunday, March 29, 2009

Through the Viewfinder

I have been intrigued by the "through the viewfinder" or TTV photography I have seen on Flickr and Etsy. TTV is a way to use antique film cameras digitally without having to buy or process film. I have been a great fan of "toy" cameras, Dianas and Holgas and Dories since the early 80's but it is becoming more expensive and difficult to buy and process 120 film.

TTV photographs have some of the look of the photographs from the little plastic cameras.

So I bought an old Kodak Duaflex on Ebay for $15.50 and have tried a few TTVs. The Kodak Duaflex (like the more elegant and expensive rolleflex) has a big square viewfinder on top of the camera. You point your digital camera at the viewfinder and actually photograph the viewfinder.

Some photographers make elaborate contraptions that are like long tubes to go between the digital camera and the viewfinder to screen out excess light. I will need to make something if I decide to pursue this area of photography. You can see the glare in the crocus picture especially. If you are interested in finding out more about TTV photography I recommend the Flickr group Through the Viewfinder which has a wealth of information.

Anyway these are my first attempts at TTV. It is certainly fun, I will see what happens when I bring this set up into my garden.

Find of the Day:

What a gorgeous photograph, TTV at its best I think. The photograph, A Song for Spring, is by photographer
Irene Suchocki and is available from her Etsy shop.

Calla Lily

I am hoping that I can stop buying flowers and start picking them in my garden soon. But early spring is painfully slow in New Hampshire and so far all I have in the garden are snow crocus and some snow.

We have a little grocery store on Maine Street and I stopped in a few days ago for some cookies. Outside were pots of daffodils and crocus and other flowers; I could not resist a pot of callas. The clerk informed me that I could just put them in the ground and they would come up next year like tulips. Well yes I said that is probably true in Florida.

No callas are not hardy in New Hampshire or other cold climates, only being hardy where there is no frost. But they are easy to grow in a pot and if you are attentive you can hold them over from year to year. They like lots of water.

Callas are much beloved of photographers and artists. I photographed these with my Lensbaby. Buying flowers is not an indulgence for me, I need them as I need food.

Find of the Day:

This is a platinum print, a print made in a darkroom with traditional methods but using platinum-palladium metals brushed onto paper rather than the more standard silver papers. In addition rather than exposing the paper using a tiny negative in an enlarger, the artist creates a large negative the size of the final print and contact prints it onto the paper. The process is lenthy and labor intensive but the final product is exquisite.

Unfortunately, all I can show you here is a digital rendering of the original print which can only hint at its beauty.

Few people are able to make these beautiful prints today, I encourage all to support this traditional art form.

This calla is part of a limited series from artist Luca Paradisi, an Italian artist working in Ireland. His work is available from the Etsy shop Fineartplatinum.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Forcing Branches

These Korean azaleas are so pretty, I have fallen in love with them. My friend Elaine sent me branches through the mail in early march. They were wrapped in wet paper towels to keep them moist. I put them in water and in a few weeks they began to bloom, all pink and frilly. What a joy, especially this time of year when it is still cold and dank and muddy in northern New England.
The botanical name is azalea mucronulatum 'Cornell Pink'. (Not to be confused with rhododendron yedoense, which is also called Korean azalea). This is a tall azalea which thrusts upward rather than mounding. It needs the same acid soil and dappled shade as other azaleas. It is an early bloomer which makes it a great plant for forcing. Elaine thinks it would be hardy here (she is in Connecticut about a zone warmer I think) and is rated for zone 5 . A flower this beautiful is certainly worth trying even on my cold hillside.
Forcing branches into flower is easy, all you have to do is pick them in late winter and put them is a vase of water out of direct sunlight. I think I will try to be more experimental next year and try things beyond the ubiquitous forsythia (though that is a wonderful flash of yellow in the house when outside it is still all snow and mud).

Find of the Day:
I seem to be featuring a lot of soap on this gardening blog but who can resist soap as beautiful as this? These gorgeous translucent bars could be a centerpiece on the table.
The soap is called Ocean Rain and is a glycerin based soap. Only $4.75 from karenssoaps on Etsy.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day

I am sure that the gardens are in bloom in Ireland today, while we are still mired in snow and mud.
My husband is Irish and we had a wonderful vacation there several years ago.
The beach picture was taken at Tonakeera Point in Connemara, one of the world's most beautiful secrets. We had this lovely spot to ourselves even on a sunny day in July.
Irish gardens are beautiful; the second picture here shows the Burren from the Greggins Castle garden.
Think green today! You can see more of my Ireland photos on Etsy.

Find of the Day:

blimey limey squishy delicious fiber batt
How about some Irish merino wool batting fopr your crafting needs? And what better color for St. Patrick's Day than this gorgeous chartreuse with a little hot pink, wow!
This batt can be ordered direct from Ireland from Maisiehandspun on Etsy.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Mud Season

In northern New England we have five seasons, summer, autumn, winter, spring and mud. Mud season comes at the end of winter, a few miserable weeks before spring truly arrives, while the frost in the ground thaws.
Today is beautiful, sunny, tantalizing. Little purple crocuses bloom in my lawn. But I am still stuck indoors. The back hill is completely covered in old snow and everywhere else it is mud. I live on a dirt road on a steep hill. Driving during mud season is a challenge, no one can visit without four wheel drive. The garden is soup.
There are compensations, the little crocus, fat little buds on shrubs and trees, and of course this is also sugering season.
But I am still inside with my winter flowers, cyclamen, orchids, geraniums. Beaufitul and elegant flowers, but how I long for the bright yellow daffodils, still weeks away.

Find of the Day:

I had the hardest time chosing from this California artist's beautiful sculptures. In addition to rings and other jewelry she also has simple sculptures in organic shapes, anemones for example. She sculpts each piece from clay so each is a little different. This red rose is a favorite, simple, modern, stunning. And the prices are affordable, only $16 for this elegant ring. Available on Etsy from FancifulForm.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

It's Still Too Muddy

After finding crocus blooming in the lawn yesterday I am suffering from severe spring fever. But the garden (and my dirt road) are a muddy mess and it will be a few weeks before I can start doing any serious garden work, much longer before I can enjoy my favorite parrot tulips.
Meanwhile I am finding solace weaving flower rings. Here are my two latest. The first is made with very soft colored delicas in rose and peach and pale violet and embellished with three little lucite flowers.
The other is hot, hot pink and is so bright you almost need sunglasses to look at it.
More of my flower rings can be seen (or purchased) on my Etsy shop Beaded Wire.

Find of the Day:
Can you believe this beauty is soap? It is called Lovely Tulips soap and the colors were inspired by the artist's mother's tulip garden. The soap is only $4 and is available from the Etsy shop EpicallyEpicSoap.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The First Day of Spring

I know it is not officially spring but my first crocuses opened today and that is always the first day of spring in my garden. I don't think there is another flower that is as thrilling as these first tiny blooms.
The first crocus are the tiny species crocus just a few inches tall. So far only the the soft purple ones have opened but in the next weeks I will have a parade of purples and yellows and whites many with bronze and brown markings. They have wonderful intricate designs well worth croaching down in the wet muddy ground to inspect and enjoy.
I have been planting 1000 species crocus each fall into my front lawn, though I lose many each year to the little animals who share this hill garden with us. Crocus are extremely easy to grow; the only problem is protecting them from the animals who find them so delicious. Planting lots and scattering them threw the lawn helps. None will come up in my garden unless I plant them in pots or other protective devices.
But to me they are priceless and worth any amount of trouble for the joy they bring each spring.
The second "photograph" here is a scan of my crocus done last spring on my flat bed scanner.

Find of the Day:

I love this print, simply called "Spring Collection" by British watercolorist Jan Harbon. All of the colors and symbols of spring form a joyous wreath around the little crocus. Delicate, exquisite painting. The print is available on her Etsy shop JanHarbon.