Posts Tagged ‘“Liz Mackney”’
Captured My Heart
When I first spotted Mia at the Cape Ann Animal Aid shelter in Gloucester, Massachusetts, she instantly caught my eye. I had no intention of getting a dog that day, as I already had three cats at home and was simply on my way to the pet store for cat food.
While on my way to the store, I happened to walk past the shelter. Suddenly I heard dogs barking in the shelter’s outside pen. It was a bright, sunny day in April 2010, so I decided to say a quick “hello” to the pups. As I approached the outdoor area, the dogs all came running, barking and jumping up against the fence. All but one little black dog who didn’t make a sound. She simply sat down and looked up at me with eyes that reached into my soul. Right then and there, I knew she was mine. She had completely captured my heart.
Meant to Be
Mia is a rescue pup (SATO) from Puerto Rico. Her start in life was a tough one. Life on the streets for a dog there can be cruel. Having just lost my brother to ALS, I was dealing with my own emotional pain. Looking into her eyes I said, “I think I’m meant to heal your broken heart, and you’re meant to heal mine.”
We’ve been together ever since.
They Grow Up So Fast
With such an emotional start to our relationship — and me being a photographer — pet portraits of Mia have become a part of our lives. For the image above, the Pixel Bender Oil Paint Filter in Photoshop CS5 was the perfect match for what I envisioned for this shot when I “rediscovered” it while looking through Mia’s “baby pics” the other day.
I took the original shot back in 2010 — and loved it then. Years later, now that the Pixel Bender plugin exists, its Oil Paint filter seemed like a perfect fit for Mia’s natural fur pattern and soulful expression. I’m glad I decided to process the image again from an entirely new creative perspective.
Note: Click on the image to view at full size.
Food For Thought
As I discovered, when new software plugins become available, it’s always a good idea to look back in your photo archives to see what images may benefit from them — or what favorites may be taken to a whole new creative level.
As you can see, Mia will always be a creative muse for me.
~ Liz Mackney
I’ve always loved sunflowers. There’s something about them that just makes me smile. I know I’m not the only one who feels that way. Sunflowers have magical powers. Well, maybe it just feels that way.
After the never-ending winter we had here in New England, I decided to celebrate spring this year by planting 9 packets of sunflower seeds. It was a good move as they eventually yielded a wonderful variety of 96 buds this summer. That’s pretty magical! Needless to say, I’ve had an abundance of photo ops right here in my own backyard.
The sunflowers’ beauty has delighted me since early summer straight through to these first few days of autumn. I even have a plant that is just starting to show its buds now. With the warm spell that is due here this week, I just may get another bloom! My camera and I are ready and waiting!
Spring Seed Planting
All of my seed packets this year came from the Livingston Seed Company in Columbus, Ohio. I happened to find the seeds at both my local Ace Hardware store and also at a nearby Dollar Store in early spring. I’m so glad I picked them up when I did, as these delightful annuals have proven to be nature’s gift that just keeps giving.
So Many Seeds — So Many Different Varieties
I never realized just how many different varieties there are of sunflowers. Some of the seed packets I picked up were new to me — like the Mexican Sunflower. Not only was its color unique to me, but I soon discovered so were the shape of its leaves. As the plant began to grow, I could tell something special was on the way.
All of the images featured in this article were taken over the course of the summer as each of the different sunflowers made its appearance. Here’s a bit of info on each of the varieties that I planted. Perhaps one or two varieties will speak to you as well.
Mammoth Russian (Helianthus annuus)
This Mammoth Russian was the very first to appear in my garden this year. True to its name, it is indeed one big plant! The shooting perspective I chose for this image was primarily due to the fact that the sunflower stood taller than I. I’m not the only one who appreciated its height. The birds seemed to like its overall size, as my goldfinches happily fed on it for a long stretch of time.
Livingston Seed Packet Text: The Mammoth Russian is a giant in beauty and stature. The huge, yellow flowers are often 12″ in diameter, full of plump, tasty seeds. Harvest when heads bend from weight. This sunny giant is perfect in your yard or garden to create a natural fence or just make a statement. Everyone will love your Mammoth Russian Sunflower, including our feathered friends!
Height: 10′ Blooms: Midsummer through Fall
Summertime Mix (Helianthus annuus)
The Summertime Mix was one of my favorite seed packs primarily due to the diversity of the flowers it produced. I loved the size and delicate nature of each flower as it appeared. The soft color palette was quite eye-catching and deserved to be showcased.
Livingston Seed Packet Text: Summertime Mixture F1 is a true mixture of colors and forms. The single-stemmed and branched flowers make you smile by just looking at them. Wonderful for mass planting and cutting gardens. This is a pollen free-free, hybrid collection.
Height: Approx. 4′-5′ Blooms: Summer through Fall
Autumn Beauty (Helianthus annuus)
The Autumn Beauty seed packet led to one of my favorite shots from this summer. I loved the color of this sunflower and well as its flawless, unblemished petals. As you can see for yourself, the rust and gold of this particular flower’s petals against the backdrop of its deep, green leaves definitely says, “Autumn Beauty.”
However, that’s not the only variety of sunflower the Autumn Beauty seed packet brought to my garden. It was one of many.
Livingston Seed Packet Text: Sunflowers make you smile. Blooms in shades of lemon yellow, subtle bronze, rich wine, and bicolors on multiple flowerheads make Autumn Beauty a true beauty. Cut for a bouquet, plant for a natural fence, or plant in a garden for color. Harvest for your feathered friends!
Height: 5′-7′ Blooms: Late Summer to Fall
Orange Mahogany Bicolor F1 (Helianthus annuus)
Bicolor sunflowers always add interest to a garden, and this Orange Mahogany Bicolor was no exception. Round and symmetrical, it instantly grabbed my attention. It’s vibrant colors and curved, wide petals made it an instant standout.
Livingston Seed Packet Text: The brilliant colors of Orange Mahogany Bicolor F1 make it a standout in your garden. Striking colors of orange and yellow with brown center rings definitely add beauty to any spot. This is an F1 hybrid variety.
Height: 5′-6′ Blooms: Summer through Fall
Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia)
The Mexican Sunflower seed packet was my big surprise of the summer. Long before buds appeared, it was the plant’s dark green leaves and their unusual shape that made me take notice. Truth be told, at first I thought it might be a weed, as I didn’t recognize it. Thankfully I kept my weeding hand in check and let nature continue on its way. Was I ever glad that I did. This vibrant orange sunflower proved to be a show stopper.
Livingston Seed Packet Text: Lead the uninhibited life, and let Torch light your way. Its fiery orange petals are irresistible, and it’s so easy to grow. In no time your garden will ignite with its glow.
Height: 4′-6′ Blooms: Summer/Fall
Velvet Queen (Helianthus annuus)
The deep burgundy color of the Velvet Queen added rich beauty to my garden. Contrasting with the color of the surrounding flowers, it quickly became a visual magnet for this photographer and her macro lens.
Livingston Seed Packet Text: Velvet Queen Sunflower’s stately chestnut-red blossoms usher in fall’s regal glory. The seeds are edible and can be harvested for a tasty treat. Use the cut flowers in fall floral arrangements or leave the seed head in place as a gift to the birds. Velvet Queen prefers rich, moist, well-drained soil. Do no overfertilize. A Victorian symbol of hope, these sunflowers are a reminder of early autumn’s grace and beauty.
Height: 5′-7′ Blooms: Summer/Late Fall
Who knows what this upcoming winter will bring? All I know is come next spring I will be one of the first on the lookout for the appearance of sunflower seed packets in the stores. Perhaps there will even be a new variety or two for me to discover.
Needless to say, the wheels in my head are already turning. I even have the next planting schematic all mapped out in my mind. Can’t wait!
~ Liz Mackney
All In The Family
For the last couple of years I’ve had a garter snake living under the stone steps in my garden. I affectionately named him Charlie. Each spring I look forward to seeing him basking in the sun, as that signals to me that winter is gone and warmer weather is here to stay.
This year, I discovered someone new calling my garden home. I first spotted “Charlotte” on the far side of my yard on the edge of one of my borders. Having been out shooting flowers, I had both my camera and macro lens in hand.
At first I thought it might be Charlie, as I had seen him in this area the previous year. Once I got closer though, I could see this garter snake’s head to be smaller. I then assumed this one to be female and promptly named her Charlotte. Were she and Charlie a couple? Maybe. I knew I needed to say, “Hello.”
Charlotte was definitely wary of me as I approached her. Unlike Charlie who had gotten quite used to me, Charlotte didn’t know what to make of me. I gently spoke to her and kept a safe distance for a bit. I gradually moved closer, all the while speaking softly to her, and slowly coming down to her level. As trust was slowly building, she kindly gave me some great eye contact.
I continued to speak gently to her — always referring to her by name — but was mindful not to stress her out. After all, I was used to having a garter snake as a resident, but she was not used to me.
Knows Her Name
Every morning when I come down the stone steps, I always softly say, “Charlie… Charlotte… Good Morning.” From time to time a little head pops up to greet the sound of my voice. The first time this spring I thought it was Charlie. Since then, however, I’m sure it’s been Charlotte. Never have I seen the two of them together.
The other day when I was walking across the back lawn, I noticed something up against the porch lattice making its way through the grass towards the stone steps. Naturally I said, “Charlotte?”
As you can see by her reaction to my voice, I think she clearly knows her name. Looks like my “animal whisperer” skills are still working.
~ Liz Mackney
You’re Nine Only Once…
Recently I was asked to photograph a group of young girls celebrating a friend’s 9th birthday. Having photographed the birthday girl years earlier, I was happy to oblige. After all, you turn nine only once, and I knew this diverse group of girls could be fun to shoot.
Five Friends’ Faces
The faces of children can change greatly as they grow and mature. What I loved about these girls on this day was their look of innocence and expression of pure fun. Definitely a moment in time meant to be captured. I hope as the years tick by, when each girl looks at her own copy of this image, she can recall the friendly camaraderie experienced in this moment. I know I will — as well as the relief I felt when I managed NOT to step on any of them.
The birthday girl had one photography request. She wanted an action shot of them all simultaneously jumping off of the town beach’s wall and onto the sand below. I told them that if they were game, so was I. So with a tight grip of each other’s hand, and a countdown from me, off they went.
What I love about this shot is that their mid-air body language really reflects the differences in their personalities. I still smile when I remember how proud they were when they all landed triumphantly.
Tutu Beach Beauty
Anyone who knows me can tell you that I am not what you would call a girly girl. As a photographer, however, I can certainly appreciate those who are. Especially when they are as adorable as this young beach beauty. Never before have I loved a tutu quite as much as on this day. It was a great color — especially on the beach — and moved so gracefully with the wind. As you can see for yourself, my subject was simply beautiful.
When I looked through my viewfinder, I saw both an innocent child and the woman she will later become. I would love to photograph her again in this same place and pose fifteen years from now to see how accurate my mind’s eye projected on this day.
Accepting The Sun
It was quite sunny — and hot — the day of this shoot. I had to look for strategic ways to work with the sun — especially with five subjects posing together in many of the shots and me working solely on my own. My search for shaded areas, large trees, and cloistered spots in a local park, as well as positioning my young models at a specific angle when standing in full sun on the beach, proved fruitful in the end.
By The Numbers
When all was said and done, I shot a total of 278 images that day, provided 72 proofs for review, and ultimately received a combined order for 90 prints from the different parents.
This was definitely a shoot I was happy to do. In the end though, it was really about just one number — nine.
After all, you have that birthday only once.
~ Liz Mackney