Harbor Springs, Michigan, USA
May 07
Illustrator, Book Designer, Writer
Janice Phelps Williams is a book designer, illustrator, and writer. Learn about services for authors and publishers, as well as her artwork and books at www.janicephelps.com.


AUGUST 18, 2011 10:37AM

Gravestones, Butterflies, and Soup!

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Photographs are taking an ever-more important place in my life; perhaps they are in yours as well. I'm talking about photographs that I've taken of events, people, and scenes in my life--for better or worse, they are the "proof of life" for me.

Four things have led to this increased documentation: 1) my husband bought me a great camera for Christmas in 2009; 2) my son, Jesse, has a similar camera and shares tips with me; 3) I began attending a workshop once a month where several women get together to work on scrapbooks and talk photos and family; 4) there is so much to see in the world and I want to remember the scenes, events, and people who are so important to me.

I now take photos on my Canon Rebel, iPhone, a small Cannon Powershot that I keep in my purse, and a Diana+ camera. When we go on vacation, I want to take them all! The room I save by bringing my books on an e-reader is now lost to cameras… hmmmm….

Anyway, this morning I went through and picked out a few of my favorite photos thus far this year. They aren't necessarily the best photos, but they are the ones that have meaning for me. Here they are with short descriptions…

In February, Jesse visited and, when out for a drive, we stopped at a small cemetery that held the remains of soldiers of the American Revolution, War of 1812, and Civil War. It was very meaningful to me to take photos there with my son. Later in the year, I joined ancestry.com and began researching our family history. This has been a wonderful project, full of interesting surprises.

In 2010, Mark and I ate at L'Albatross in University Circle area of Cleveland, Ohio. I had squash soup and it was the best soup I'd ever had in my whole life. So delicious that at the performance of the Cleveland Orchestra later that night, I kept thinking about the soup. I longed to have more! So, this past February I found a recipe and made squash soup and, yes, it was every bit as good. This was also during Jesse's visit and he advised me to take photos of food from the side, a little above the side, rather than straight down. It was a very helpful tip!

Jesse recommended Joe McNally's book to me, and I purchased LIFE Guide to Digital Photography and learned to adjust the F-stop and ISO settings, and turn off the flash. I also got better at setting up the tripod.

I love trees and luckily have scores of them nearby to look at and photograph. I liked the thinner trunk winding against this stronger trunk, and the photo looks better in black and white.

On a very cold March day, this little bird waited patiently for his turn at the bird feeder. After taking several blurry photos, I broke down and got out the tripod and told myself I just must use it straight away next time, and get quick at setting it up, like those soldiers who can assemble their rifles in a few seconds!

Another tree photo: I love the way the branches look like lace against the sky. This is my favorite tree in our yard.

Before the leaves returned to our trees, we went to New Orleans. I had recently learned I could take photos from the plane! Here is one using the "fish eye" option on the Powershot.

One of my favorite photos from New Orleans. I can look at this and immediately remember everything about being at Cafe Du Monde!

In New Orleans I purchased several toy horses. I love the way they look here on the hotel windowsill.

In Cleveland, near Beachwood, we stopped at sunrise to get gas. I like the emptiness of the scene above.

Just before spring, one of my favorite local restaurants burnt to the ground: The Coffee Cup, in Nelsonville, Ohio. It had been around for decades. These dishes sat outside for many weeks and I stopped one day and took a photo.

Our parrot, Gracie, loves to watch soccer. We had a great time watching the Women's World Cup this year.

Twice a month I pass through central Ohio where the land is quite flat and dotted with these huge pylons. I've taken photos of them in many seasons. A friend on Facebook asked for pylon photos from around the world for a boy who collects them. I sent this one. I then learned that there are many people who are enthusiastic about pylons. Who knew?!
I love to take photos of trees. This photo means something special to me because it is one offshoot of a much larger tree, which fell recently during a storm. That's why there are so few branches on the near side of this trunk; the other tree was right there. This tree still stands, hopeful and flexible. I also read "A Widow's Story" by Joyce Carol Oates this year and this tree reminds me of her.

I learned from Jesse and Kim Austin about the Hipstamatic app for iPhone. Here is a photo, above, of Mary B's in Parkersburg, WV.

I also learned that when I can't get the camera to do something I want it to do, that I likely haven't learned enough about the settings, such as the sports setting. It enabled me to capture this butterfly's fast moving wings. I was so entranced with the many photos I took of her, that it was only yesterday I realized she is injured; part of her left wing is missing!

The photo above was taken on my last drive across central Ohio on an overcast Saturday morning. There are still 4 months left to the year, and many more photos to take!

Have a great weekend,

All photos copyright 2011 by Janice Phelps Williams. All rights reserved.

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Janice, this is a wonderful and wide ranging (in terms of subject matter) photo essay! I think it's very enjoyable to capture a host of subjects and one type of photography can give one ideas for other areas. Friend and fellow OSer Dave McLane told me about the books by Joe McNally earlier this year and I purchased several of his titles including the one you mentioned. I also never realized the towers that hold up the high voltage lines are called pylons. There are a few around here, especially the ones that head into NYC from upstate. Keep up the great work and I look forward to seeing more!
Beautiful photos and a beautiful journey into art.