#NetNarr: Weaving Stories with Invisible Thread

Five Card Flickr NetNarr

Alan Levine has jumpstarted his wonderful Five Card Story activity — which uses Flickr images for inspiring a story — for the Networked Narratives.

Here’s mine, called Even Dead Ends are Starting Points.

She heard the sounds of the guitar, and the song came suddenly. Melody. Words. Harmony. She hurried out to meet the musician, only to find it was an audio recording of a photographer setting the mood for his shots. Still, she kept singing. Even dead ends are starting points.

I made another one, with five different images called A Dog Remembers. 

A Dog Remembers

What’s so intriguing about this kind of visual-inspired writing with somewhat random images is that while you are choosing each of the five images, they are come from a very limited pool of choices. There’s nothing outright that seems to connect the five pictures you end up choosing … except the story unfolding in your mind as you are making your choices.

So part of the fun with the Five Card Story concept is making that narrative leap — weaving that invisible thread – that wraps each disparate visual together into a tapestry of remixable story. You have to ride your inspiration forward, and go beyond the literal. It’s a creative challenge.

I find that the first image chosen is the most important, as it anchors the narrative. But so is the last image, I guess, as it ties up the story. In writing, I find myself staring at each image, wondering about what I don’t see with my eyes (and maybe do see with my heart). I’m trying to determine what narrative is stubbornly invisible at that moment, and then try to tease it out.

How about you? Come play and make a story. Or you can remix some of the ones already made.

Peace (in the share),
Kevin

Book Review: Photos Framed

This is a quick read, but one that might require a few reads, if that makes any sense at all. Not because it is confusing. It is so interesting. I am one of those people who has come to photography late, thanks to the emergence of mobile devices for visually capturing the world (and double-thanks to the work of my friend, Kim Douillard, whose photography and image prompts always get me thinking at odd angles).

Photos Framed, by Ruth Thomson, is a collection of very famous photographs. What Thomson brings to the table is the curation and reflection on the composition of these famous photographs. In tight text alongside the images, she explores the back stories of the images and photographers. She also pulls out small moments (literally … cropped shots sit alongside the full image) from within the larger visual frame, asking questions about lighting, perspective, colors, textures and more.

Sure, I’ve seen the famous images of Migrant Mother (Dorethea Lange), The Horse in Motion (Eadweard Mybridge), The Kiss by the Hotel de Ville (Robert Doisneau), Afghan Girl (Steve McCurry), The Cottingly Fairies (Elsie Wright), and Tank Man (Jeff Widener). Thomson showed me aspects of these famous images I never saw or considered before.

She reminds us that images are story, with contexts. To ‘read an image’ is to dive through the lens at many levels. That doesn’t mean these photos don’t stand on their own. They do. What it means is that each one can draw you in further, if you choose to go on that journey. Photos Framed is a nice tour guide.

Peace (well-lit and standing still),
Kevin

Remixing Hope from the Heart

Greg Stone quote

There’s a new permanent sculpture on the front lawn of our county courthouse, right at the very heart of the downtown of my small Western Massachusetts city. Artist Greg Stone finished the piece in the days before passing away, and his piece — showing a young woman caring for a dove — is beautiful and powerful.

I felt the need to not just photograph it yesterday but also to remix the images of Stone’s piece. It’s yet another way for me to kindle the fire of Hope in myself and in my world. I tried to find a way to bring it all together, to tie the images into a larger digital composition. I could’t find a way to do that which satisfied me, so it’s pieces of the whole here instead of a whole with pieces.

Here is the original, from one angle:

Greg Stone's Hope

I then began using an app called Fused, remixing the image (a second image is also from the courthouse — colored lights in the form of a peace symbol).

Greg Stone's Hope Statue

Greg Stone's Hope Statue

Greg Stone's Hope Statue

Working with the images gave rise to a poem.

Greg Stone's Hope Statue

I tinkered with the poem’s look, too.

Greg Stone's Hope Statue

Greg Stone's Hope Statue

I also followed my friend Carol V’s lead to tried out a 3D Cube tool, which is nifty but not practical for images with words, I found.

And then I did a podcast of the poem, using some recent guitar open tuning that I was messing around with as the underlying melody, which I thought meshed nicely with the poetry.

And that led to … Zeega … where I sought to combine the image and poem and media … this is closest to what I was thinking …

I still may yet do something more with all of these pieces. For now, I am happy just to have been deep with Hope.

Peace (beyond Hope),
Kevin

Visual Slice of Life: Leaf on Car Window

I glanced out the sun room window yesterday morning and saw this leaf on the front window of my car. It had rained the night before, so water droplets were still-life portraits on the glass, stuck in motion. I kept looking at the one leaf, though, and thought: I have to take a picture of that leaf.

The curvature of the car window made for both an interesting shot, and a tricky one to pull off. It was like looking over the edge of the globe … the view became distorted, in an interesting way.

I was just using my Android phone for a camera, but I found it interesting how a slight placement shift of my hand and phone would change what the lens was focusing in on. Sometimes, it would be the leaf. Sometimes, the droplets of water. Sometimes, the trees beyond the car.

When I was looking through the shots later, I thought it would be cool to use the Fuse app to “blend” some of the images together. It helped that the angles had the leaf in different spots, and that the light created slightly different hues of color.

I could not help but tinker, too, adding an interesting filter effect for this one, which looks very “artsy fartsy” (official terminology). Look at those drops of water near the bottom of the image … magical.

I find it interesting how one small moment – a leaf stuck to a car window — provides so many different ways to “look” at the world, and a perfect visual Slice of Life.

Peace (it looks wonderful),
Kevin

Getting Fused: Blending Images and Making Art

I’m enjoying a new app that my friend, Simon, shared with the CLMOOC community. It’s called Fused and it allows you to blend together images (and maybe blending videos on images? I need to explore that but I think Simon did it).

We have a postcard project going in CLMOOC, too, and this week, I received two different postcards on two different days (a total four postcards in three days!). I tried the blending technique with Fused to pull together the pair of postcards on each day, and the result is pretty lovely.

This is from postcards that arrived from Karen and Stephanie

Fused Clmooc postcards

This is from postcards that arrived Scott and Kim

Fused Clmooc postcards

Peace (in the post),
Kevin

Slice of Life: Looking for Winter Leaves

(This is for the Slice of Life challenge for March, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We are writing each day about the small moments in the larger perspective … or is that the larger perspective in the smaller moments? You write, too.)

sol16Another Sunday. Another round of Manhunt for my son and friends. Another walk with my dog. Another day to look more closely at the neighborhood woods, and yesterday, I paid attention to the lingering leaves of winter. There was not a whole lot of variety out there — mostly pines and Mountain Laurel.

But at one point, I looked off the walking trail and saw this burst of white in the middle of green and brown. My dog and I bushwhacked our way through the undergrowth and some swampy soils to find this small tree, covered with dead white leaves. They had died, but they hung on through winter. Hardy things, these ghost leaves of New England.

Leaves of winter

I found enough variety anyway to create a small collage, which now joins my collage of tree barks from earlier in March, and found sculptures, and the flowers from a brightly-colored bulb show from last weekend. I guess Sunday is becoming my photo day.

Peace (in the lens),
Kevin

Slice of Life: Two Bugs Meet on a Bridge (Anatomy of a Shot)

(This is for the Slice of Life challenge for March, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We are writing each day about the small moments in the larger perspective … or is that the larger perspective in the smaller moments? You write, too.)

sol16This is a different kind of Slice. I wanted to step back from a photo that I took in the woods and analyze the shot from an analytical viewpoint. I am no photographer (but I play one on my blog). However, I am interested in composition, and composing with images is always an intriguing topic. With so many camera lens available these days to so many of us on phones and mobile devices, we can do some interesting photography.

First, look at what I ended up with:

I saw these bugs (not ants, I don’t think) almost by accident. I was in the woods with my son and his friends, who were playing as I was walking our dog. I kept close because of the river and I was “the adult in charge.” (I recently wrote a slice about another day of them playing for another post. They like these woods. I like that they like those woods.)

I had my Android phone out because I was keeping track of a college basketball game (UConn!) as I was keeping an eye on the kids and watching the dog watching me. I was stopped at a new fence over a rebuilt foot bridge on the bike path when I looked down and saw these ant-like bugs scurrying over the handrail. They’d stop, run, stop, run, stop, run. Sometimes, they would run at each other and stop right before collision, like some strange teenagers on bicycles playing Chicken.

I wondered if I could get close enough to get a good shot of the bugs but the closer I got, the further they scurried. Finally, after many random shots that I hoped might yield something useful, I got a picture that did the trick: two bugs, mostly in focus, on the wood, seeming to meet. Actually, the closer bug is a little out of focus but it works as a compositional strategy. Our eyes move from that bug to the farther one, which has more detail.

The problem was that the bugs were too small on the shot itself, and the wood handrail took up most of the frame. I went into my photo folder, called up the shot and used “edit” to tinker. I cropped the shot down to focus the eye on the bugs (and the shadows of the bugs, which is something I did not notice when I was taking the shot).

I decided something more was needed, to keep the eye moving towards the two bugs, and the focused bug, in particular. I used a framing tool that provided some darkening edge — a light touch, not too obvious — that helps guide the eye inward, at the bugs. It also helped crop out more of the surroundings.

There’s something about the grain of the wood (you can tell is it rather fresh and not yet weathered by New England’s shifting seasons) and the bugs meeting, and the shadows, that just makes this a rather intriguing picture. Or, at least, I think so.

Peace (and process notes),
Kevin

 

Slice of Life: Flower Power

(This is for the Slice of Life challenge for March, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We are writing each day about the small moments in the larger perspective … or is that the larger perspective in the smaller moments? You write, too.)

sol16My wife and I attended the annual Bulb Show at Smith College, in our small city, yesterday afternoon. It’s been a few years since we have ventured into the greenhouse and been awed by the powerful display of colors, smells and pure life on display. It’s a pretty amazing experience, to be walking down aisles of amazing flowers, and I was drawn to look inside the flowers themselves. So I pointed my camera down into the heart of the flower as much as I could, and created this collage.

Smith College

In another part of the greenhouse complex, there is a room of tropical plants, and this tree was dropping this seed pod, which looked like the furry tail of some strange creature. I could not resist a shot of it, and the way the sun filtered in the back of the photo gives it an interesting glow.

Odd tree

Peace (is beautiful),

Kevin

Slice of Life: Looking at Trees

(This is for the Slice of Life challenge for March, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We are writing each day about the small moments in the larger perspective … or is that the larger perspective in the smaller moments? You write, too.)

sol16My youngest son asked if he could invite some friends over to go play in the neighborhood woods. Of course, we said yes, and I was tasked with being the ‘adult nearby’ during the nearly three hours they played Capture the Flag, and then Manhunt, and then various forms of Hide and Seek.

Three hours of fresh air in their lungs on a sort of cold day and lots of running and playing. Their clothes were all muddy when they were done. Not that they cared.

My dog was my companion, and as the kids were playing and needing no help from me (and I purposely kept myself aloof from their planning and playing), I started to notice the trees.

I dug out my phone camera and began to take shots of the various trees, moving closely in to get textures and slight colors, and I love how this collage captures the variety of tree trunks I examined.

Trees

Peace (in the observation),
Kevin

So, It Snowed

Winter arrives

This has not been a typical New England winter, and I am not complaining. But my boys have been. Where’s the snow? they want to know. Some arrived yesterday, so a day off school meant sledding and hot chocolate. I love this view from my back window, with the two side-by-side chairs, as if awaiting a conversation.

Peace (in the still beauty of winter),
Kevin