Thursday, May 31, 2012

only flowers

As I've discussed before, I find special beauty in aging flowers.  I photographed these tulips at the height of their blossoming glory and again, as shown here, at the end of their lives.  These aged tulips have poetry.  They fling themselves open with grace, crumple with dignity.  Their color, texture, and posture all intrigue.  They kind of break my heart, which is probably a sign that I am too sensitive because they are, after all, only flowers.   

{photos: nikon fm2 and fuji superia 400 film}

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


Rare is the genuine film, where all I see and hear makes me think, "yes, this is people."  Rarer still is the film that conveys such reality with beauty.  

Pariah is such a film, a classic yet refreshing coming-of-age story that follows Alike, a smart and sensitive 17-year-old girl in Brooklyn, as she deals with the confusion and heartache of being a young lesbian.  For Alike, the difficulty inherent in coming into oneself as a teenager is compounded by the familial and societal pressures for her to be a feminine, "normal" girl.  The actress Adepero Oduye imbues Alike's story with beautiful truth, as do the actors who play her parents, sister, and best friend.  This is a film that uplifts with realistic integrity: while the world often proves disappointing, the strength and beauty of this one young woman provides hope.  

{The cinematography is as beautiful as the story it supports.  All photo stills (c) Focus Features.}  

Anyone who has struggled with love, identity, expectations, friendship - basically, everyone - would empathize with Alike's story.  Pariah is currently available as a Netflix instant play.  My advice is to watch the film immediately.  

Monday, May 28, 2012

Fresh Herbs

Last weekend, I planted a potted garden on my small Chicago balcony, complete with an array of herbs. The simple process of planting, the soil in my hands and the sun in my face, was a great pleasure and took me back to the long days of childhood. 

An even greater pleasure was snipping my fresh herbs to prepare scratch-made pasta sauce.       

Oregano, thyme, sage, basil, rosemary - I threw it all in there with some tomatoes, onions, garlic and red wine.  Then I dined with a bouquet of freshly-snipped roses on the table.  The gluten free pasta I tried was a disappointment, but my sauce and meatballs carried the meal.  :)

I am totally in love with this gardening stuff and I cannot imagine why I waited so long to begin.

{photos: mamiya 645, polaroid back, fuji fp 100c film}

Sunday, May 27, 2012

A Late Night, A Quiet Morning

I awoke this morning to the remnants of a small dinner party with excellent company that I hosted last night: tablecloth, partially burned candle, roses cut from my balcony garden.  Luckily, my husband and I had the presence of mind to clean up at 1 a.m. before bed.  Few things are better than waking up after a late night well-spent to a fresh home, the day set to unfurl slowly and quietly.  Despite a considerable amount of gin and Campari, I feel refreshed, sipping coffee and listening to Kate Bush on vinyl with a stack of periodicals by my side, ready to be enjoyed.  Any to-do's I have can wait until tomorrow - the beauty of a holiday weekend.

I captured the images above this morning with my brand new (very old) Polaroid Land Camera 250 and Fuji pack film.  The gorgeous photographs of the sweet light inspired me to hunt down this beauty on eBay.  I can already tell that Ms. 250 and I will have a lot of fun together. 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Cat Naps

Both cats and naps are major parts of my life. I have three cats and I would nap daily, if practical.  Napping with my cats is the pinnacle of contentment.  So when I saw this cat nap print by Yelena Bryksenkova on Design Sponge, I decided to bring the illustration into my home.  

My cats are even more hardcore nappers than I am.  Direct sunlight, sitting up, no problem! 

Upon receiving the print in the mail, I was very pleased with the high quality and immediately walked to the art supply store for a frame.  Now the print is hanging in my living room and I may add another of Yelena's illustrations soon, perhaps the kitchen print.

Making my condo a personal home, one small step at a time.

{photos: nikon fm2 and kodak ektar 100 film}

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Al fresco balcony dinner

I am so happy that the weather in Chicago is finally consistently warm enough to dine outside.  Grilled food enjoyed outdoors is always satisfying, especially with some champagne and good friends.

{Photos with Nikon FM2 and Kodak Ektar film}

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Sunday Morning Polaroids

A quiet Sunday morning, filled with tulips, cats, and instant film.  :)

Chloe the Cat is always up in my business.

I captured these images with my Mamiya 645 Pro medium format camera, using a Polaroid back and Fuji FP 100C instant film.  Can I call these Polaroids or...Fujis?  :)  I scanned the mini photos, not the negatives, otherwise the results would be sharper.

Now I'm going to enjoy some time outside, bike to the neighborhood garden center, and begin planting my balcony garden!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Lilac Time

On Saturday, I went to a matinee showing of the black and white silent film, Lilac Time, released in 1928, starring Colleen Moore and Gary Cooper.  This was a one-time showing at Chicago's Music Box Theater, complete with a live organ accompanist and the star's granddaughter in the audience. The film is set in the French countryside during World War I and begins as a slapstick comedy, but soon turns to romance, then action, then tragedy.

Colleen Moore, lighting up the screen, plays a young French woman whose quiet country life is changed when the war begins and the British army sets up an airbase on her farm.  She befriends the group of pilots and falls in love with one, all the while praying for their safe return flights every day.  

Lilac Time completely swept me away, so much that I shed tears over a dying German soldier.  Thinking of the film in hindsight, I barely remember that there were no spoken words or sound effects.  What stands out to me are the story and the characters.  Although the technological development allowing for the creation of movies with sound was an overall improvement, there is unique beauty in films created within the strict limits of no sound, no color.  

The Music Box shows silent films with organ accompanist occasionally and I plan to be there every time.  Also, this week they are screening my favorite movie of all time, Les Enfants Du Paradis.  I need to clear out four hours from my schedule and grab some popcorn.
I will end this with the beautiful song that was recorded and released with the film, Jeannine, I Dream of Lilac Time by John McCormick (Jeannine is the name of Colleen Moore's character).

{official film poster and stills; lilac watercolor painting from petalessence}

Sunday, May 13, 2012

French Cocktail Party

Last month, I hosted a French-themed cocktail party at my home for 30 friends.  I was busy welcoming guests, tending bar, and by the end of the night dancing, but I took some time to snap quick photos with high-speed black and white film (Ilford Delta 3200).  My living room was extremely dark and I did not use a flash.  Today I developed the roll in my bathroom.  I probably pushed the film a bit too much, but the photographs successfully convey a certain je ne sais quo about the night, non?  The perfect imperfection of film.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

My Gallery Wall

I believe in the power of surrounding myself with personal and tangible objects, in film and prints and freeing photography from the constraints of a computer screen.  

Yet I realized a few months ago that, while my flickr and tumblr are filled with photographs from hundreds of rolls of film, my home had none of my photographic prints on display.  


I set out to remedy the problem and - viola - I now have a gallery wall of my own prints in my hallway.  This is only the beginning; I plan to continue adding on until the entire wall is filled.    

These are all photographs featuring my travels and the people I love, taken with my film cameras, mostly my Rollei TLR and Nikon FM2, plus a couple Mamiya 645 and Holga.  I printed several of the B&W photographs myself in the darkroom and the rest I ordered through Richard Photo Lab (beautiful work!) using scanned negatives.

Acquiring the frames was expensive: one archival quality matted frame is not much, but multiply that number by fifteen and the costs add up.  I had to accept this as a longterm investment in my home and my art.  The best quality and value combination I found was American Frame kits, assembly required.

Designing the wall layout was such a challenge for me that I left the frames stacked on the floor for three months.  My heartfelt thanks to my dear friend Trisha who, while visiting from Nashville, created the pattern and helped me hang all the frames in one morning.

In summary, here is what you need to create your own gallery: wall space, prints, frames (preferably archival and matted), a design, a Trisha, frame hangers, wire, a hammer, and a free morning.  :)

Free those photographs.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Airy Spring Nighty

In late spring, my down-filled duvet is replaced by a light quilt and my flannel pj's by cooler t-shirts.  This year, I would like to upgrade from t-shirts to pretty, airy nightclothes.

I took a step in the right direction when I got this linen and silk drop waist nighty from Anthropologie.  (The clearance rack, of course.) 

I am ridiculously happy with this thing.   The cut is perfectly loose and drapey.  The natural fibers feel lovely against my skin.  (Note to self: I need more linen and silk in my life!)

I am unsure whether to consider this one of life's simple pleasures or an example of consumerism.  All I know is I am enjoying my spring nighty immensely.  :)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Unique Beauty of Aging Bouquets

Keeping vases of flowers in my house is a new habit of mine.  In the past, I did not see the point of buying flowers, only to have them die so soon.  Now I am beginning to appreciate the unique beauty of the lifecycle - perhaps due to my own aging.  While I love the luxurious scent and vitality of fresh blossoms, I enjoy flowers more once they start to crinkle and fade, creating a more interesting visual than bright perfection.   For a prime example, see my masthead above, an aging tulip. For another example, below:

These photographs, which I took last night with my Nikon FM2 and Kodak Portra 400 film, show pink carnations that my friend brought when I had her over for dinner...two weeks ago.  Go carnations, go.