From Where I Stand

view-from-mountain-cabin-1

View from Mountain Cabin

Creativity disappeared like an autumn leaf blown across the valley by a night wind.  There are probably various reasons, but I never could seem to point to one particularly significant one. So, I have not posted many images to this blog recently.

north-carolina-rustic-cabin

Rustic North Carolina Cabin

It was confusing.  For years, I have been driven to photograph beauty.  My mind always taking snapshots in my head, even when the camera was not in my hands.  And then I noticed I no longer wanted to reach for the camera.  No longer did I evaluate possible images in my head.  And so, the camera was put away except for occasional images of family and friends at significant celebrations.

through-the-windows

Through the Windows

Where you stand makes all the difference in what you see.   So, guess you could say I am standing in a different place than I have for the last decade.  As a result it has changed what I see.  Perhaps that is one reason a break was needed.

These images don’t fit my profile of trying to capture the perfect shot of a close up subject.  But for the first time in months I wanted to pick up the camera.  I wanted to capture the wild, not so perfectly structured rustic cabin in the mountains of western North Carolina.  It was intriguing to see the outdoor beauty framed by cabin windows.  Taking several steps back fits where I see life now.  It doesn’t always go according to plan, but there is still beauty to be seen.  Maybe when life doesn’t go the way we expected is when we most need beauty.  Thanks for taking a second look.

cabin-window

Cabin Window

Mother’s Day

Mother . . . we all had one.  Mothers vary in shape, size, age, and race.  Some are shy.  Some are exuberant.  She was the one who gave us physical birth or adopted us. Perhaps the woman who acted in the role of a mother figure in your life is the one you really view as your mom.  Whoever she is/was, she is one of the most significant persons in our life.

Mother's-Gerber

Happy Mother’s Day

I never fully appreciated my mother until I became a mother myself.  Mother has been in heaven almost two years . . . I still miss her.  She shaped me.  She loved me.  She sacrificed for me.  She believed in me.  She was my champion.   I will always be grateful for the privilege of being her daughter.

 

Playing Mrs. Astor

Memories of going to my grandmother’s house include a special treat she reserved for my sister and me.  She called it “playing Mrs. Astor.”  Her large home in the county (at least from my perspective as a child it was big) sat nestled among numerous towering trees, blooming shrubs and annual flowers on top of a hill.  An occasional car passed by on the road below.  More often you heard the call of mocking birds and sometimes the whisper of the wind through the trees.

“Playing Mrs. Astor” meant we took out the fancy china in order to eat off pretty plates and drank out of dainty cups.  Many years later, as an adult, I learned Mrs. Astor was a wealthy woman my grandmother never met, but someone whom she would have seen in a newspaper or a magazine.

Pink-Hat

Pink Hat

Last Easter, a friend wore this delightful pink hat to church.  It was perfect for her, complimenting her blonde hair and soft complexion.  I asked if I might  photograph it.  In a way it reminded me of “playing Mrs. Astor”.  We didn’t wear fancy clothes or hats at my grandmother’s tea parties, but she made this granddaughter feel special.  I saw the way other women on Easter morning admired this pink hat.  Inside every grown up woman I still believe there is a little girl that likes to “play Mrs. Astor,” to dress up in whatever was makes her feel special.

 

Including Less

I am on a journey to include less in my life so that it doesn’t hinder me from what is most important.

Anna-Ruby-Falls,-Georgia

Anna Ruby Falls near Helen, Georgia.

Reality is that neither you or I know the exact date or time that we exit this earthly life.  Two more days, a few months, six more years, or maybe several decades, only hindsight will reveal the length of our life journey.  Just saying only God knows the exact number of my days.  He formed me in my mother’s womb, He alone knows how much longer this part of the journey is.  (Psalm 139).

Rushing-Water

Rushing Waters

What’s most important in my life . . . well, somewhere along the way I thought it was having stuff, i.e. possessions.  I am thankful for what I have, but just not interested in collecting and maintaining it as I once did.  As the years progress, I see that possessions are not the things that share love with you. They are poor substitutes for relationships.  I have been very fortunate to have a loving family and loyal friends through the years.

At this point in life, I want to have more time with people and less with the possessions.

These photos were taken at Anna Ruby Falls, near Helen, Georgia. Anna Ruby Falls.  Recently, my husband and I joined my sister, brother and their spouses for a few days together.  As the youngest in my birth family, I know that we now face less future time together than what we have previously enjoyed.  So, at least twice a year we meet somewhere to enjoy being together, since we all live hundreds of miles apart.  Weekly phone calls and texts help, but are not the same as “face time.”

Along-the-Path-1

Along the Path

 

Leaf

Leaf

Texture, texture . . . didn’t have my macro lens with me, but still looked for opportunities in the midst of huge boulders and overflowing waters.

What or who is most important in your life?  Pursue it, now!

Thanks for taking “A Second Look”.  More images available at http://www.stephaniehalstead.com.

October Words

Like the savory aroma of homemade soup on the stove, certain words make me hungry for the fall season.  I call them my October words.  Here are a few of them:  colored leaves, apple cider, sweaters, plaid, pumpkins, fall festivals, blessings, juicy apples, acorns, pine cones, hay bales, crisp weather, pumpkin pie with whip cream, fuzzy slippers, freshly baked cookies, and flickering candles.

Crisp-Fall

” Crisp Fall”

Recently, I saw this quote by F. Scott Fitzgerald,  “Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.”

“Autumn, the year’s last lovliest smile.”  Unsure who penned those words, but I like them.

“Autumn Smile”

Warm colors of red, orange, and gold seem cozy now that summer’s heat is a memory.  Anne, the main character in Lucy Montgomery’s book, Anne of Green Gables, said of October, ” I am so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”  I agree with Anne.  October is a wonderful month.

“Basket of Apples”

What are your “October words?”  If you would like to see more seasonal images, check out my website at http://www.stephaniehalstead.com.  Thank you for taking “A Second Look”.

North Carolina Treasures

Brilliant red.  Vibrant yellow.  Warm orange.  Occasional purple or magenta.  Having seen the beautiful colors of North Carolina leaves in person, the photos I view online only make me hungry to repeat the experience.  No trip to North Carolina this autumn is on the calendar and that makes me sad.

Last November, I tried a trick I learned as a child to preserve colored leaves.  After sandwiching the leaves between two pieces of wax paper, the edges of the wax paper were then sealed with a warm iron.  Recently, I released some of the North Carolina treasures from their protective pouch to photograph them in my home studio.  Most of the colors of autumn had been preserved.  A few had faded.

North-Carolina, Autumn Leaves, Colorful Leaves, North Carolina Stone

North Carolina Treasures

One of the advantages of using a macro lens is the ability to focus on textures.  I am enjoying the results.

North Carolina, Autumn Leaves, North Carolina Stone, Colorful Fall Leaves

Leaf Stone

I photograph many things, but my favorite subject is beauty in nature with no man-made props evident. However one tries to mimic God’s creation, He remains the master artist.  His images of color, texture and shape are unsurpassed! The more I see His work, the more I am in awe of Him.

Hope you enjoy these homegrown North Carolina treasures. Thanks for taking “A Second Look.”  More autumn images available at http://www.stephaniehalstead.com.

Watch the Leaves Turn

It’s that time of year in my part of the world.  Summer vacations are finished except for the good memories that linger and maybe a bit of sunburned skin.   Big yellow school buses are on the roads again.  School has started.

Leaves Turn

Growing up, I looked forward to the beginning of a another school year.  Never used pencils.  Pristine, unmarked notebooks . . . I really enjoyed getting new school supplies!
It was a time for embarking on an adventure, a bit nervous and excited all at the same time.  The months ahead promised new experiences and new things to learn.

The world now is much busier than the one I grew up in as a child.  So many more options, so many more distractions.  Although I no longer have homework assignments, my “to do” list keeps me busy.  That is okay to a certain point.  As a busy adult, I miss the wonder of running through colored leaves as a child.  At this stage of life, I need to remember that even if everything doesn’t get done . . . I still need to take TIME to be STILL and watch the leaves TURN.

How busy are you?

Thanks for taking “A Second Look”.  More autumn images are available at http://www.stephaniehalstead.com.