Halcyon Moments







SpringGreenAfter a few halcyon, summer-like days the spring blossoms are in full splendor. When I managed to get out with my camera it was mostly grey and overcast and I came away feeling like I had not been able to work the true beauty into my camera. I often find a way to work with poor light but sometimes nothing feels quite right.

There is a spectacular tree in blossom at the arboretum at the moment and you can see its twisted form in a couple of the above photographs. I photographed it from the ‘inside’ because the entwined branches drape around you in such a way that you can’t really imagine a more perfect place.

My images don’t do it justice in any way. Often, I find it necessary to spend a long time with a subject experimenting with different ways of photographing to capture a real sense of the subject or my experience of it. Sometimes going back several times in different light and conditions. But the blossoms are so fleeting it makes it difficult to do this. It is one of the challenges I love about making images, though – finding, and working with, the ephemeral.

There are times where I merge images together, layering and adding ‘ghosts’. I do this with in-camera double exposures, and sometimes afterwards in processing (in this case images 1,3,4). It is not that I want to tell an untruth with these images; more so the opposite. It is an attempt to express the sense of an experience that I have haven’t managed to capture. Adding layers to an image the way we add layers to our memories.

© Karen McRae, 2013

55 thoughts on “Halcyon Moments

  1. The top image here is the one that caught my eye just now on Freshly Pressed, Karen – very well done! The pale colour palette is just right for this, and my eye sees that single in focus flower first, before moving on right into the wonderfully out of focus dreamland – good stuff! Adrian

  2. You have done a much better job than I have capturing spring blossom. I like the idea of adding layers to the photographs as a metaphor for the way we do that with images in our heads. I try to do the same with music. It’s all interesting endeavour, thanks for sharing 🙂

  3. Oh, I don’t know 🙂 I think these pictures do justice to your subjects. They are beautiful. Gorgeous pastels! Smiling.

  4. This is it. What Zen said “It’s there as it’s not there”.
    Not a day in halcyon, but the eyes and the mind is in halcyon.
    ( I have no idea why this word got its meaning though, this must be
    the exactly same situation, “Halcyon is there, hence nothing there
    to talk about, fuss about. This is it” = ultimate open mind ! )
    (Yet, not enlightened man is still wondering abut, what is those white
    flowers are —– white magnolia ? )

  5. Beautiful to be able to wrap myself in that tree visually through your lens. Isn’t it amazing how much importance we attach to this metamorphosis of nature? My take on the double exposures – you are layering the way artists also do with words and paint. It takes it into a depth and third dimension. It is examining the facets of something that is never just flat. It is seeing more and only an artist who knows what questions they are asking can do that.

  6. You manage to find your own angle in every motif and have such a sensitive imagery. Whenever I visit your blog I leave it smiling, full of admiration.

  7. Bonjour Karen ,

    La fleur de ton regard , c’est ouverte en chemin ,
    Sur cet être aérien , portant de verts miroirs ,
    Ses branches contant l’histoire , d’une vie passé en liens ,
    A croire en chaque matin , s’ouvrant à prendre part .
    Becs à ton Arbre de Vie

  8. Karen, I’m rarely able to capture exquisite beauty with a camera. When I think about how to do it, what it could/should be, your images come to mind. I know what you mean about the blossoms and that tree, but I DO see it.

  9. These are lovely, whether you’re fully satisfied or not…I know that expressing the essence of something isn’t dependent on a faithful recording of the “truth” the camera sees. Also, I get what you say about needing to return to the subject at different times, in different lights, different moods – sometimes the first tries are clumsy. But blossoms don’t wait, and of course that’s a good part of their magic. I feel that essence, especially in the 1st & 4th photos, and the under-the-tree shot works, too, the way the blossoms are loaded heavily around the edges, with more light in the middle – feeling tenderly enclosed but with the light/possibilities above at the same time. That’s one gorgeous tree – I think trees accrue nobility as they age, and the contrast between those slowly acquired bumps and twists and the delicate, fleeting flowers is delicious.

  10. Karen, It’s interesting to see the tree that are in bloom up there in Canada now here in Kentucky the redbuds have already bloomed and are now into mid cycle of opening their leaves. The dogwoods are almost finished too and now it is the Locust Tree’s turn to flower. I love spring with it’s many scents and colors alongside the luminous green of young plants.
    Your comment about getting so little time to study the subject really rings true. Last spring I missed the Iris blooms but this year I am already shooting them. It’s like tasting the first fresh strawberries of the season; you recall why spring tastes so good and how fleeting it is.

  11. Golly Gee so many typos… Let me try again… It’s interesting to see the trees that are in bloom up there in Canada now. Here in Kentucky the redbuds have already bloomed and are now into mid cycle of opening their leaves.

  12. I wondered if you did these in-camera or post production. I think the results are beautiful and I agree with you about the effects of layering. I think it can provide a more complex and satisfying visual experience too.

  13. Exquisitely beautiful,…stunning images of spring. Love the softness in the colors..the light.

  14. “It is not that I want to tell an untruth with these images”. You do not need to say that – you are making art. It is nice when magicians explain their magic, but they do not need to justify it.

  15. I started photographing the cherry blossoms on the trees around me recently just for my own enjoyment, but I know exactly what you mean when you say that the blossoms are only available to us as fleeting moments. All the trees have now turned full-leaf, so I’m truly enjoying seeing your photos, Karen, and appreciating those short-lived Spring moments!

  16. Your layered images are really really beautiful, love them ! And the tree… What a majestic and superb tree. You captured it so beautifully Karen 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s