Abstract Water Reflections
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A fun bonus to my sunset shoots, some nights, is sitting on the dock. Often with a Pina Colada in hand. You may have seen me shooting at Splash and wondered what I was doing.

If I was out on the docks facing inland, the sun was creating a mesmerizing show of color for me in the water reflections.

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If the water is calm, not glassy but softly bouncing off the shore, it creates these stunning curved reflections of whatever is on the floating dock. Meaning, all the people watching the sunset on Lake Champlain. Ha! I promise I’m not taking creepy photos of you, people. I’m honestly shocked nobody has asked what the heck I’m doing when my zoom lens is pointed towards shore.

 

Those reflections on the water bounce and dance and play with my camera. I could stand there all day and shoot these reflections…but they are best around the golden hour when the sun is low on the horizon.

I’m particularly excited by how Monet-ish some of the shots from this day are. Enjoy!

A little Monet inspiration

A little Monet inspiration

Kelly O'NealComment
How did you get started doing this?

When I am at art shows, the most common question I get asked is “how did you get started doing this? Did you discover it by accident?”

Here’s that story.

Back in 2006, I was working at a consulting job in Boston. The hours were long, the work was stressful, and one of my usual ways to restore my sanity—photography—was challenging because I was always at work during daylight hours.

So I started to play with the flower bouquets I had in my basement apartment, late at night. I hate all things involved with lighting and tripods, so to deal with the low light, I started to just move the camera around intentionally. If you try to just hold it still, you get just an awful blurry photo. If you move it intentionally, more interesting shapes emerge that don’t look like mistakes.

My initial attempts left a lot to be desired, but I got better as I practiced more. It was intriguing, as I could never fully predict what I was going to get—each one was a little surprise.

Spring Haze—the one on the bottom right—is the only one from this time that hasn’t been retired from my portfolio. Probably because of the structure of this one, I still adore it and I still offer it up in my collection. You’ll notice it’s also one of the few with a two-word name—she got her name early before I had settled on a one-word naming pattern for my images.

Anyhow, though I was having fun doing this, let’s face it: being outside is better. So, I started to experiment with how to create the right look and feel with this intentional camera movement technique, outdoors. It’s a tricky one to make work (and back in 2007 when I was doing this, I knew of no other people doing this at all. I was just making it all up as I went along).

In the fall of 2007 and winter of 2008, I started playing with this outdoors. And it started to come together.

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On one very cold but very lucky day in February 2008, I was on a hike at Walden Pond. And I created more than one image that just… worked. I had figured out how to get the right amount and type of movement, and could do so with different subjects.

The image that really nailed it for me was Enlightenment. I knew when I saw it on the screen of camera… it was really the first outdoor image I created in this style that had me thinking, “ok, this is totally gonna work. This is my thing now.” It lived on my business cards for years, and still has a soft spot in my heart.

So, back in 2008, I fell in love with these images and this style of work and haven’t looked back. I’ve created over 100,000 images in this style in the decade plus since then. And, bonus, I get to leave my tripod at home.

Stay tuned to hear how I started working this style on sunsets over Lake Champlain when I moved to Vermont…


Big Magic in Photography

Yesterday, I was having a fun day in the sun along the shores of Lake Champlain. Threw the ball on the beach about 6,000 times for my baby dog Teddy Bear, then retreated to the delightful Tiki Bar at the beach for some reading, sun, and umbrella-laden drinks.

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert is one of my favorite, coffee-stained, beat-up, dog-eared books. If you’re an artist or creative in any way whatsoever (pro tip: you are), get this book. Better yet, write “Buy Big Magic” on your to-do list, THEN go do so you get credit ✅and you can do a little happy dance. K?

Anyhoo, in Big Magic, Liz talk about how she believes that ideas have energy of their own, and float about in the universe to get try to find human partners to bring them to life. I’ve always loved this characterization, but it’s felt difficult to translate into photography—I don’t have ideas that I execute like a book writer. Beauty before my eyes inspires me.

But.

Then one of those ideas jumped up and down in front of me begging for attention.

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She told me this: what if all of my images (or the good ones, at least) are ideas that are striving to be seen in the world? All they want is to be enjoyed, to be admired, to bring a moment of joy to your life.

And play. They want to play and dance for us, and I get the honor of playing with them and capturing these moments in time.

But I’m the only way they can get out into the broader world. I’m a huge fan of these elves, sure, but one person can only clap so loudly. My job is to be the conduit—to capture them, and share them, and let them find you. Because only then can their impact be magnified as more people enjoy them.

So much art these days is designed to be provocative. And that’s great, but it’s not what you’ll find here. I want to play with the frolicking elves and let you see our collective delight. We want nothing more than to bring some comfort & joy to your life. One scene, one blip of beauty at a time.

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This means I'm famous, right?

I woke up this morning to a friend having posted the following on their facebook page:

 
 

That is simply a fabulous way to wake up, people. Yay for media coverage!

My show will be going up in April, exact dates TBD but likely the last half of the month at BTV (Burlington, Vermont). If you missed my work at UVM Medical Center that was up September 2018 to January 2019, this is a second chance for many of those pieces to be seen.

In case you’re wondering, this exhibit includes the largest pieces I currently have, ranging from 16 x 24 all the way up to 32 x 48. It’s the same work you can see locally in Frog Hollow, but at a much larger scale.

If you post pictures of this exhibit once it’s live, please tag me @ekovisions

Kelly O'NealComment
Naming Art is Tricky, Bambi

Ever wonder how artists come up with names for their art?

I do too, sometimes. Many of my images remain untitled for a while; the colors and shapes in the photograph entice me, but the overall impact isn't always something I can articulate. Names elude me. 

These days, nearly all of my art has one-word titles, which was a convention that stuck a few years back. Many are states to which you might aspire: Calm, Enlightenment, and Peace.

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Or qualities that you might seek or desire, such as Trust, Latitude, Clarity, Brave. The grammar nerds among you may notice they aren't all quite the same part of speech; to which I say, art doesn't care.

Other names are more literal places or seasons; Coast and Seaside and Summer, for example.

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I love jumping around an playing with multiple meanings and connotations words hold. Bloom, for example, is both super descriptive of the image, and a nudge to go forth and flourish and thrive.

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Reflect is a fun one: it was a very literal description of this photo, but also a suggestion

Most of the time I create names by gathering the feelings or sense or place or season that an image evokes. For example, these two spectacular sunsets aren't going to shy away from a challenge, and their names encompass this:

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Naming art, for me, is usually a very unsexy process of looking up synonyms and related words to find the right cadence and feeling for the photograph. Usually they call to me once I find them, as the photograph nearly jumps up and down in excitement telling me that's her name. It takes time. Sometimes images will languish around for a while, waiting for a name before I release them into the world.

But you can't rush it.

 

Every so often, I misname an image and she gets renamed later. Most infamously (to me), I once called this poor baby Flow, which feels a bit like naming your child Bambi or Delilah. Just don't. (Side note: I've now googled variations of "baby names for strippers" and the internet ad machines now think I'm pregnant. Swell.)

 

I mean, sure, Flow is a good state to achieve in life or yoga, but it's a little too reminiscent of a woman's least favorite days and even my male friends were making jokes. She screamed at me nonstop for weeks. Finally, I renamed her Breathe, mirroring what we were all able to do once that awful name was scratched off her birth certificate. 

Phew.

 

 

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Kelly O'NealComment
Photographing Winter

I've struggled for years to capture winter in my signature style. Now I have no idea why it took me so long. I finally figured out how to get the light to cooperate with my camera and create images that evoke winter. There have been some delightful moments such as this one.

 
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The palette of winter makes me happy, when it's not grey. Blues and aqua and white and deep dark periwinkle shadows in the snow. Partially frozen shore abutting still waters, who reflect and dance with the blue sky during their rare opportunities in overcast land.

 
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Another photo in this gorgeous palette I discovered one day when ice was forming on the lake, and the blue sky rippled off the whiteness. Combined with my own movement, we have this lovely study of blue, and teal, and periwinkle. 💙 When shades of blue dance together like this, I swoon.

 
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Do you see that golden streak here? Reflections of the sun from baby waves hitting the ice shelf along the lake. Lovely winter day from January this year. Those blue skies are out, and anything is possible.

 
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Rain Fall

My photographs are non-representational, in official artist speak. They don't capture the world as it is, but an adaption of it. Typically that adaptation occurs through my own movement while using the camera. Sometimes, the movement is provided by rushing or bouncing water, or wind.

A relatively rare technique in my portfolio, Rain Fall was created on (you guessed it) a VERY RAINY autumn day in New Hampshire. I seek out colorful trees to dance near with my camera, pointed skyward to see the trees.

On this day, it was POURING.

Pointing my lens towards the sky wasn't a great option. I sat, resting in my car, chomping on a granola bar, and noticed that the water was bending and refracting the scene in front of me, creating a really unique look at the trees before my car.

Rain Fall was born.

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Fun Fact: while the shapes and patterns in this photo, as in all my art, were created in camera: I had to do a little extra editing on this baby: the dashboard lights on my car reflected into the rain in a few spots, and I had to clone those out.  

Kelly O'NealComment
An Ode to Summer

SUMMER!  I love you so.  It is warm, and warm.  And so little laundry to do because all I wear is shorts and t-shirts.  And I don't have to worry about accidentally dying if I walk outside with the wrong clothes.  And warm.  And water, and long walks on the beach, and sunsets, and daylight until long into the evening.

And camp.  Am I the only one who misses camp?! Summer camp!

Long walks on the beach with my baby dog.

Dinners outside on Church St.  I refuse to say "Al fresco" dining because for some unknown reason that always makes me think of people eating outside, NAKED.  

Puttering the day away in the sunshine at the farmer's market.  Bread bikes.  Ice cream bikes.  

Bike rides.  SWIMS!  Did I mention it was warm?!  

Tomatoes.  Basil. Squash. Flowers. BERRIES, how could I forget the berries?!  Raspberries.  Stolen from bushes along the side of the road, on public land.  Delightful strawberry season that is so short I nearly miss it every. single. year. 

Vermont.  Summer.  Ahhhhhhhhhhh. 

You can't always get what you want

Since moving to New England, there’s a time of year I really cherish (and dread): Fall.  The leaves change to brilliant hues of red, orange, and yellow.  The air is crisp, the stars clear, and it’s still warm enough that you don’t have to carry a coat everywhere.  The farmer’s market is at its peak, playing chicken with the frost.

The dread is knowing what comes next, but for a few glorious weeks I try to ignore that inevitability.

Every year I head toward New Hampshire, and specifically the Kancamagus Highway to take some glorious fall photos.  It’s always a gamble, knowing when peak will occur.  In 2009 I hit it at perfection—deep reds, vibrant oranges.  It was the weekend before Columbus day, glorious peak perfection of the White Mountains in NH.

Peaking

Fall Peak 2009 in Groton State Park, VT

This year, not so much.  I gambled.  The weekend before the peak from last year, I had a sense I should head on over.  Things were starting to look nice, I wanted lots of time in NH this year (Even 2 full weekends), and there were tropical storm remnants rolling in later that week.  I feared it would drop all the leaves and stunt the peak.  I was right.  But in a moment of doubt and sheer exhaustion, decided to stay home that weekend.

Fudge.

Heading up on October 1st , my chosen weekend from 2009, I had a plan.  Three nights, head through Crawford Notch (the Northern Route in the Whites) over to Conway, and then back on the Kancamagus, the Southern Route.  As I meandered through Crawford Notch, the leaves were yellowy, browny, looking a bit pekid.  I hoped I was just too far North and The Kanc would be better.  I was hopeful heading down Bear Notch road, the crossover.  But, alas, the colors this year were more subtle, muted,—still pretty but in a less dazzling sort of way.  Lots of pale yellow.  Cozy.  Like a drizzly day curled up with a book and a cup of tea on the porch by the beach—nice, but not necessarily what you signed up for when you came to Florida.

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Kancamagus Fall 2010

The good news about this all is that is allowed me to be a little less frantic over the weekend.  Sleep in.  Loll about.  Not worry too much about whether I was missing an awesome grove of leaves around the bend, and get creative.  Spend more time concentrating on the few nice places & trees I found, rather than wanting to cover more ground, quite literally.  I had gone into the weekend wanting to get a couple of good abstract motion shots of fall, including especially one in red.  As it turns out, the conditions were quite nice for this.  The universe did provide what I needed.

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Equinox--a portrait of one red tree, my fave image from Fall 2010

A perfect weekend in the White Mountains, indeed.

Picture my photographs on your walls

Choosing art can be hard.   It's a choice you'll be literally living with for a long while, and it's so hard to know how things will fit into your space. 

Questions you may have about choosing art for your home:

  • What size do I need for my wall?
  • Will this piece fit onto my wall?   Is it too big? Too small? 
  • Should I buy a single big piece or multiple smaller pieces, like a triptych?
  • Does it work with the room decor?
  • If I'm going with a large canvas print, do I want a frame?
  • Will these images work together as a group? 
  • How many images are needed to fill out this wall? 

If you are struggling with these questions, know that I can help!  I have a nifty little ninja tool that can overlay my artwork into your home, so you can get a little preview of what it will look like in real life.  This can help answer some of these questions for you and make the decision process easier (I, for one, need all the help I can get making decisions!). 

Here's how it works:

1.  Take a peek at my portfolio & choose a few images that you are debating between or wanting to cluster together. Write down their names to send to me. 

2.  Take a digital picture or two of the wall where you want to place the images.  For best results, aim straight at the wall (not at an angle).  Here's a great example from a real client: 

An example of a wall you want to decorate

An example of a wall you want to decorate

3.  Measure something in real life that is fully in your photo, to provide scale.  In this case, the desktop was perfect!  She told me it was 50 inches wide.  If your walls don't have a lot of reference points that you can get into the photo, you can also just stick a sheet of regular paper on the wall so we can use that. 

4.  I'll go do my magic and create some layouts for you.  You'll be able to tell if something is too big, or too small, and how the images all work together.  Here's one of the real mock-ups I sent:

Mocking up four images as a set.  Do they work together?  Are they the right size? 

Mocking up four images as a set.  Do they work together?  Are they the right size? 

You can see, I can also visualize the matting and frame for you.  It's never perfect but it's a darn good approximation of what these images will look like on your wall!

This can be really helpful when you aren't sure if the images you like will work together, or if you have the right size in mind.  Here I sent few different sizes and even swapped out some images.  Ultimately, she chose these four and here's what they look like in real life: 

Ta-Da!  These worked perfectly here! 

Ta-Da!  These worked perfectly here! 

Sweet, right?  This is a great way to help make a decision about which image is best for you (or to help convince your partner!  You may totally know what you want, but they might need some persuasion...). 

If you're stuck on deciding and would like to give this a spin, just drop me a line at ekovisions (at) gmail *dot* com.    Include your image names, wall photo(s), and dimensions of a key landmark in your photo.  Depending on my current queue, it could take a few days to get the mockups back to you, longer if I'm on the road. 

 

 

Kelly O'NealdecorComment
Waves

Once upon a time I took a photography workshop with David Muench, who was quite upset (in his own way) with me at one point because I was using a polarizer which would remove the "spectral highlights" from the image.  Truth, I had no idea what he was talking about. But, I obeyed, because, hey, it's David Muench, who is an amazing photographer.  And frankly twice my age but could easily lap me while hiking up a mountain with backpacks full of photography gear.  That was a humbling weekend.

The highlights in this image remind me of him and those precious (and amazing) spectral highlights.  Taken years later, near home... but a great reflection of the beauty out there in the world. 

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Lake Champlain Sunset

This weekend I'm in Burlington, VT--an adorable little town. A cross between a ski town and a college town. It's just cute as can be, with a downtown pedestrian mall, nearby lake, and the entire city yours within about a 5-10 minute drive. It probably helps that I am here during the summer and not winter.

I decided to continue my "abstract lake" series with this shot of Lake Champlain at Sunset.

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