Magnolia at American Art Museum — Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Close up of Flowers

This is our entry in Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Close up of Flowers.

We visited the Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM) in Washington, D.C. last month. Near one of the entrances was a magnolia tree in bloom. We remarked that the blossoms looked like a painting. This is a photo of one of those blossoms.

After wandering around in the museum for about 75 minutes, we came across the painting Magnolia by Charles Walter Stetson.  Stetson (1858 – 1911) painted Magnolia in 1895, using oil on canvas mounted on fiberglass.

Here is a closeup of the blossom in the painting.

These photos were all taken on June 14, 2019, with an Olympus TG-5.

ONE through ZERO (The Numbers) — Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Letters or Numbers

This is our entry in Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Letters or Numbers.

We have been taking a drawing class to help us think more clearly about photography. Today was field trip day and we visited the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. The East Wing starts with Picasso before cubism and ends with Mark Rothko. The idea seems to be to take the viewer from something recognizable to something totally abstract with a sensible path between.

Since “the sensible path between” is up lots and lots of steps, we generally take an elevator to the top and find ourselves totally confused until we walk down a couple flights towards realism. There is an outdoor passage between two towers at the top of the museum where they often display something we can recognize after gazing at the Rothkos. Currently, the display features large metal numbers against the Washington skyline. They may only be numbers and we are not sure what they mean — if modern art is intended to have meaning — but we used them to steady our nerves so that we could continue our stroll through modern art.

This art installation, titled ONE through ZERO (The Numbers) by the American artist Robert Indiana (1928-2018), was constructed from 1978 to 2003 using Cor-Ten steel.

Margaret Brassler Kane’s Harlem Dancers — Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: 2 items or the number two

This is our entry in Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: 2 items or the number two.

We recently visited the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D. C. One piece of art that we particularly liked was Harlem Dancers, a sculpture in Tennessee marble created by Margaret Brassler Kane.


This website is a good source of information about Margaret Brassler Kane.  Born into a wealthy family in 1909, she married in 1930 and began sculpting human busts and animal figures, creating models in clay and having them cast in bronze.  After the stock market crash of 1929 and subsequent reduction in income, as well as the birth of her first child, she switched materials from the more expensive bronze casting to marble, which she could process closer home with the full support of her extended family. Her first marble piece, completed in 1937, was Harlem Dancers.  Later in life, this sculpture was duplicated in bronze and she donated the original marble statue to the Smithsonian American Art Museum in 1993.


The figure is generously sized at 29 7/8” x 14 ½” x 14”, although the table on which it stands is tall enough that viewing the individual heads is a bit difficult.  What we particularly appreciate about this piece is how its simple curves are able to suggest more complex shapes and emotions.  The dress of the female dancer is form-fitting yet elegant; the pattern of the skirt was, in fact, based on the design of peanut shells and suggests movement. Using only a few simple lines, the man’s suit is classically formal.  The two forms, man and woman, fit together well.  Our favorite part of the piece is the quiet serenity of the woman’s face.




The Urban Art of Dunkin’ Donuts

This is our entry in nancy merrill photography’s A Photo a Week Challenge: Urban.

We recently visited the Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM) in Washington, D.C.  As we wandered among the many wonderful pieces of art on display, we glanced out a window to observe an urban icon gently distorted by the glass and screening of the window.

This photo was taken on June 14, 2019. Specs are:

Olympus TG-5, ISO 800, f/4.9, 1/25 sec, 18 mm

Visiting Huntley Meadows: Spring Fever

It was in the 70’s yesterday (20 degrees colder today) and we had spring fever. We normally take a walk on Fridays so we decided to take ours at Huntley Meadows Park in Fairfax County, VA. We go there two or three times a year. Only a few of the birds have returned, but we did see a hawk from years past.

We hand-held our cameras and used a mediocre (but versatile) Sigma 18-250mm lens on a Canon SL/2 to catch this shot. We have been trying this combination to get weight down when we travel. In our last trip to India, our luggage was overweight for a regional flight and the fee for the excess weight was almost equal to the fare.

As an aside, we processed this in Lightroom and tried the new “Enhance Details” option. Aside from taking a couple of minutes to process (the CPU was at 100% utilization), we couldn’t see any improvement in the enhanced image. Lightroom seems to be getting slower and slower without perceptible benefits.

Glass Harp — Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Week 5 Photo – Music, guitar, instrument, men, coffee, etc.

This is our entry in Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Week 5 Photo – Music, guitar, instrument, men, coffee, etc..

During a street photography field trip to Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, we came across Jamey Turner playing his glass harp. From these stemmed glasses filled with water to various precise levels and strapped firmly to a simple table, he extracted beautiful classic and popular music with deft strokes of his fingers.

This photo was taken on July 12, 2016.  Specs are:

Canon SL1, ISO 100, f/3.2, 1/250 sec, 50 mm.

Early Spring flowers in sepia tone — Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Flowers

This is our entry in Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Flowers.

We were wandering through Green Spring Gardens this March looking for early signs of spring when we ran across these flowers.  The muted colors and beautiful forms made them excellent candidates for a sepia tone conversion.

This photo was taken on March 29, 2018. Specs are:

Canon SL2, ISO 100, f/7, 1/320 sec, 135 mm