Fall COLEaboration

Earlier this summer I got the opportunity to take part in a creative collaboration with a very creative and talented dancer, choreographer, teacher, founder of Chicago’s The Dance COLEctive, and friend of mine from college, Margi Cole. Like our early summer photo + movement collaboration (and here), we took a highly experimental approach, playing off each other’s ideas and vision in exploration of capturing images of movement that honor and explore both dance and place. Sometimes things worked and sometimes they didn’t, but each location offered unique challenges and opportunities.




Margi is fearless, and this is one of the qualities I admire most about her. She is a true artist, fully immersed in her craft. It is in this spirit of fearlessness that I take on the task of reviewing these photos, editing, and sharing. There is whimsy and creative license here, too, and I hope that shows. I mean, what is experimentation if you take yourself too seriously? Not fun, that’s what.



This time I felt more comfortable giving direction (at least a little more comfortable). I still have to temper the urge to be invisible, though. I mean, here we were on a public beach, roadside, other public places, and although it’s no longer tourist season there were people out. This is what I mean by Margi’s fearlessness… in these places she danced, and yet I was at times self-conscious as I photographed. That’s what I’m learning to abandon and to free myself from.











These are only a handful of the photos I took, but these are my favorites. Today, anyway. I’m sure as the days pass and I come back to them to create a collection for Margi, I’ll have new favorites and new edits. I’m just grateful for the process of collaboration, brainstorming, rolling with ideas as they ebb and flow, and allowing myself the freedom to create and experiment.

Dreaming in purple

abandoned farmhouse in Lomography Lomochrome Purple film

A few weeks ago I spent a small fortune on a few rolls of Lomography Lomochrome Purple film on a whim. Because, well, I’m in an experimental phase here and I’m rolling with that. But really, it’s like magic, this film–it turns greens purple (but only sometimes) and mucks about with other colors in weird and wonderful ways and yes, I do know that I can do that in Photoshop but I want to create magic right in my camera with no other faffing around. And I want to be surprised by what I get when my film is developed. And I don’t want to control everything. (I take that back. I kind of like control, but not where film photography is concerned. I am still in love with the surprises there.)

So I put one roll in my Minolta SRT 102 and after that I ran another through my Olympus Pen EE3. Was I surprised? Yes. Delighted? Totally.

Will I use this film again? Yes, oh yes. And I can’t wait.

In the meantime, here are some favorites from those two rolls.

Minolta SRT 102

sumac in foreground, abandoned barn
diamond window shed, sumac
pine needles suspended in web, abandoned car in forest
pine forest
forest floor, dried pine needles, mushroom and green (purple) moss
forest and light
pumpkins get a deeper orange in lomo purple
small lake, lily pads and reflections
lake and reflection through trees

Olympus Pen EE3

train tracks and vines
shadows and alleyway
lines, shadows, and time transport box (okay, probably not)
foggy woods, road after the fog cleared
country roads
orchard and plowed field
multicolored trees and old shed
fields, trees
grassy road, more sumac
sumac and milkweed, roadside

How do you pick a side?*

It’s pouring here, has been since early this morning.

I’m restless, too busy–my brain won’t quiet. I barely finish a thought when the next one comes barging in, shoving the one before it into the swamp-marsh of things in my head that bubble and are forgotten.

I have a lot of questions rumbling around in my head. I often wonder if it’s too many questions, but this is the way my brain works and who am I to argue that? And if you know me personally, you might know that I ask a lot of questions. I want to know how people work.

And the question that woke me up at 3 a.m., before the rain started, when the dog had 90 percent of my bed space and the world was so quiet outside that I was nearly convinced that me and the dog and the cottage were the only existing things on earth, was this:

What side of the bed do you sleep on? And why?


Which then led to these questions:

  • Do you change the side of the bed you sleep on when you sleep somewhere else, or when you move?
  • Is your choice dependent upon bed placement, or size or shape of room?
  • What about geographical placement (like, do you need be on the northernmost side of the bed)?
  • Do you let other people (or pets) influence your side-of-bed choice?
  • Is your choice influenced by needing to be close to or farther away from a door or window?
  • Do you not even choose a side, but sleep in the middle (understandable for a twin bed, but anything bigger and middle sleeping just seems unfathomable to me)?
  • Is it weird that I am even pondering these questions?
  • I mean, why do I need to know how other people sleep?
  • Should there even be hyphens in the phrase “side-of-bed choice”?
  • Wait, do I really want to be questioning hyphen use in the middle of the night?

And so it went for a good half hour longer, pondering beds and sides and pillows (fat and thick? or flat and thin?) and the ultimate question of why dogs in beds, even tiny dogs, seem to expand to take up so much more space than it seems they should.

Maybe that’s a question for another sleepless middle of the night. Dog expansion.

*Oh. You thought I was going to write about the election? Sorry to disappoint.

Coming to Terms with the Dead


I nearly step on its body,
the small bird that the wave pushes rolling and tumbling ungracefully
as a watery offering toward my feet on the shore.

I see more as I walk, first five in close proximity
and then six, seven, nine, twelve dead birds in open shore-graves
until I can count no more and turn back to the cottage, weeping.

I recognize them as the swallows that nest in holes dug into the sandy cliffs
that form too close to the water, cliffs which were battered by yesterday’s storms
and the wild waves and wind that erode the shoreline.

I wonder if these dead are mourned—if the birds I see now
darting along the beach as I walk home are searching, frantic,
for the holes they built not long ago to nest their young?

My footprints disappear as quickly as I leave them,
the depressions in the sand fill instantly and without fanfare;
a reminder of my own impermanence and the lake’s dispassion.

There is no rescuing to be done;
I can pluck a struggling moth or two from death for today, and dry my tears.
The lake carries on.



September on film

I’m burning through 35mm film like it’s my job lately (a job for which I pay, rather than get paid, apparently). Maybe it’s the lure of all the beautiful colors and the changing season? I’m not sure, but I’m fairly obsessed. I’m not picky, though–I’ll put anything in my camera(s). I’m learning the particularities of a few different cameras, which film the cameras like, the results I like. For instance, I learned in August that I like Agfa 200 in the Olympus Pens–a lot. It’s cheap and the colors come out a little gawdy, which I like for the half frame format.

It’s also a nice film (because of its price) to test new cameras with. In August, I picked up a Minolta SRT-102. It’s so clean I’m not sure it was ever even used, maybe just bought and used once or twice and then tucked into a box for 40 years? I’ll never know its story.

Last week I sent three rolls of film from mid-late September to early October to The Darkroom for processing. I’ve used them for a few years and have recently tried some others, but think I need to stick with The Darkroom–they do a bang-up job, have great customer service, and get my stuff back to me pretty quick considering they are in California and I’m across the country in Michigan. These images aren’t edited at all–just processed and scanned by The Darkroom (I only added my watermark in Lightroom).

Minolta SRT-102

Small pond in a marshy area at a local high school, SRT-102, Agfa 200
yellow wildflower (I’m kind of in love with the color)
goldenrod in sun

The SRT-102 is an interesting camera, though, with a bit of a learning curve–in the viewfinder, you match one needle to another needle with a circle on the end to get the right exposure. It’s a little awkward for me and will take some getting used to and I wasn’t convinced the meter was working accurately, but the test roll seems to show otherwise, which makes me happy because it’s a really beautiful camera, heavy and solid in hand. In fact, I was so hopeful that the camera would work that I ran a second roll of film through it before I got this test roll back. I shot most of the rest of the first SRT-102 roll in October, so I’ll get back to September’s film…

Pentax K1000

I popped a roll of Kodak Ektar 100 into my trusty Pentax K1000 in mid-September. That Ektar might just be my favorite film right now–I mean, look at that red! And even though I’m really digging the SRT-102, I’m not giving up the Pentax. It’s a joy to use, fun and easy and not the least bit finicky. Again I’ve not made a single edit to these, which may be more a credit to the processing than my ability to pick the correct exposure.

I just love a blue sun spot
the Brookwood again, this time on 35mm film
because there just are never enough goat pictures
Lake Michigan, dunegrass and clouds

Olympus Pen

I also ran a roll of Ilford HP5 through my Olympus Pen. 400 speed film may simply have been the wrong choice, or I need more work on my settings with this all-manual camera, or probably a little of both, but the results were mostly too blown out. I’m still getting the hang of both black and white film and the Pen. I don’t care–I love it all–even the complete failures.

barefoot in Lake Michigan in late September
pine forest

Right now the colors are really getting intense across Michigan. The next few weeks are going to be busy for me, but I’m hoping to capture as much color as I can on both film and digital before it’s gone, and learn more about working with the cameras I have now in my arsenal.

More fungi everywhere

Total fungi-fest in the woods here (or is it fungus-fest?). Way more fungus afoot than there was when I shared images in my post about mushrooms on the last day of August.



Which is fantastic because it’s a nice little filler, considering the fall colors aren’t quite showing yet and there are hardly any more flowers still blooming aside from some chicory, a few straggler blooms of Queen Anne’s lace, some thistle, an occasional yellow wildflower. None of which I bothered to photograph yesterday, because, well, too many gorgeous mushrooms, you know?

I’m not usually here on the lake for more than a short weekend in this in-between stage, so it might really be the first time I’ve let myself wander aimlessly in the woods, no time frame or rush, seeking out mushrooms. A whole afternoon of it, in fact.


I never realized quite how much fungus happens in the woods right now. I mean, it’s everywhere. White, yellow, beige, pale salmon-y pink, red, brown, pearlescent, moldy-looking (for real, I came across one type that looked like it was covered in a white mold). Growing on trees, from the sandy ground, from moss, from life and from decay.

coral-like fungus

It’s like a world that I bet plenty of people go their entire lives not knowing anything about. I’m so glad I get to see it.

I’m not going to attempt to identify any of these. I just like taking pictures of them. And looking at them in their natural habitat. And smelling them (they were particularly pungent yesterday).


And it’s interesting, but once you see one on the forest floor, usually there are tens, hundreds maybe, just nearby. Of the same variety and/or different varieties. And it’s easy to wander off the path as you see one just there, and then there, and then farther over there…

And then you look up and realize you have no idea where the path is and your heart starts to quicken just a little bit and then oh, nevermind, there’s the path right there. Not that you were concerned.**



Anyway, I know these woods, but I won’t pretend to know anything about mycology (except that mycology is the study of mushrooms).




So I’ll leave the identifying to people who know what they’re talking about, and hope you enjoy my photos of mushrooms in a western Michigan forest.***




*No, not really eyeballs.
**Maybe for a second.
***If you’re reading this and you know about these things, feel free to comment and identify any of these.

Urban wilds

I used to be more of a city girl.

I’m finding now that even though I do love a city adventure, I really want to be outside. Not just outside, but preferably in nature, surrounded by growth and wind and water and wild (and yeah, bugs even).

“I knew it wasn’t important” –unknown

So even when I am base-camped in urbanity I’m drawn to the wild areas. In the Detroit metro area, thankfully, there really are many.

When I’m not on the west side of Michigan I gravitate to this marsh, Pointe Mouillee State Game Area. It’s a game and nature preserve south of Detroit and encompassing some 5,000 acres, butted up against Lake Erie, and I love every bit of it.

empty bottle on drainage pipe

My friend Jane and I ventured there last evening. There’s always something new to see (like one of the smaller parking lots, this time filled with discarded furniture in varying states of decay, a bed, used condoms–hey, urban nature isn’t always beautiful). And even when there’s nothing new, there are different things blooming or drying (depending on the season), different colors, different angles.

Even with the marshy smells here, and last night’s prolific mosquitos that only seemed to be biting me and not Jane, it was a nice break from the inside world of work and the concrete of my suburban neighborhood.