Nature’s Abstract

In two days, I start putting up my photographic work for an exhibition, a joint venture with Susan Nethercote, called ‘Nature’s Abstract‘. I have admired Susan’s work with paint for some time and it dawned on us that we really … Continue reading

Dead or Alive

Does it really matter? Not to me, I have to admit. It doesn’t matter if something is dead or alive, there is still much beauty to be found. In fact I used to love to shoot dead flowers when I was … Continue reading

Christmas focus

At a time when there is always something to do, to help with and to watch out for….

The prawns need marinating, there’s a few salads to put together, and LOOK OUT, that puppy’s nose is getting a little too close to that tray of sweets! Is she eating another Christmas card?…

I stole a moment to take some photos in the garden. I promise it wasn’t while the dishes were being done.

Here is my refuge. Even from myself. I found a few gem items. They might not be all the ones the gardener themselves would have chosen, but it always works that way with me and my camera. It feels a little like “I see dead people”, but much less creeepy.

Between Old Man’s Beard, Spider Orchids, Cactus and Agave, there were some very sweet moments of solitude in the morning light.

Merry Christmas!

May we all seek to create rather than destroy – around us and inside ourselves!

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Being still

Every breath of wind leaves a mark on something. Every stirring vibration creates a shift or a ripple leading elsewhere. Every sign of life is a wound. Where it all begins or ends we can’t be sure, only that it … Continue reading

Freedom – Canon Light Awards, January 2015

So I entered a competition with Canon Australia for January. The theme was ‘freedom’, which is awesome but also very broad.

It conjures all those images of vast landscapes, flying like a bird, surfing, dancing/leaping, etc, which of course were well represented.

I did not win this competition, but wanted to share with you my entry – this ‘Southern Old Lady’.

FREEDOM, January Canon Light Awards. Alison Shirley Photography.

FREEDOM, January Canon Light Awards. Alison Shirley Photography.

 

I found this unfortunate visitor at my studio. He’d already passed and had a buddy with him too. (I can’t tell male from female by the way!). I couldn’t quite believe the perfect formation of it. I looked it up on the internet and most of the images I found of this species were shot with their wings totally open, which doesn’t have the same incredible impact that this guy had on me. Front on, it looked like I was staring at the face of a cat. What an awesome and convincing disguise – so striking. It got me thinking about freedom too.

There are so many versions of the idea of freedom. This guy had me thinking about the way that we can concern ourselves so seriously with the way we think people see us. Of course we can never really know the way people see us, but it certainly impacts on many decisions in ours lives, too many if we allow it.

For me freedom is an inner peace. Part of this is definitely about learning to be free of the opinions of others, in order to truly listen to myself. It might sound basic, but sometimes the opinions of the world and community, through multitudes of media, images and sound can be so deafening it’s hard to hear yourself think. (Then again, sometimes it’s my own voice that I need to shut down in order to think with clarity and truth.)

This little guy knows how to deflect what you think you can see of him and go under the radar, in order to survive his predators.

His ability to remain himself while you think he looks like something entirely different is his strength and ticket to freedom.

We can learn from him.

Although I did not get a place in the comp, by the look of this shot of the judge, my photo does seem to be flagged in the background (4 down from the top in the right corner), so perhaps I got a look-in?

Judge - Graham Munro

How about you? What would your image of freedom be?

 

 

Check out the beautiful winning entries here

 

 

 

I SEE YOU

I was standing on a mountain with a bunch of old friends the other day. We were at a mate’s property, before a huge bonfire, celebrating 2 friends’ 40th birthdays – all camping out together for the night.

In my brief conversation with one of the boys, we quickly came to be talking about spirituality. “I think that’s one of the things that all of us here have in common, our sense of spirituality is all about feeling connected…. TO THE LAND!” I chimed in. Most definitely, or in Matty’s case, more the OCEAN.

I make no claim to the kind of spirituality Aboriginal culture speaks of. As far as I am aware I have no heritage to link me there. And the fullness and complexity of traditional knowledge goes far and deep beyond my imaginings.

However, I do feel that rich and powerful connection to the land where I was born and I feel that divine appreciation for a natural landscape – in my own homeland and elsewhere on this planet.

This is why photography is somewhat like my bible. It helps me to stop and study my spirituality. I open my shutter and stop to breathe in the miraculous, the divine. It helps me to focus, calm myself, feel and capture my appreciation. The image becomes a thank you, an “I SEE you”.

This might sound a tad hippy, but once I climbed a tree in the dry Todd River bed of Alice Springs, hung my arms and legs around a huge branch and whispered “I promise to show the world, or remind the world how beautiful you are”.

Perhaps I was also whispering that to myself, as I seek to remind myself and everyone of our deserving of self-love and healthy worshipfulness. For is not my body a natural wonder?

The more I learn about it, the more I admire it, want to learn to respect it and see it as miraculous.

 

My macro work brings me in close, to see what is otherwise invisible or over-looked. And that is a whole new world of discovery. David Attenborough himself couldn’t be more excited by the layers and beauty that it reveals. Again, my anatomy study is a similar act with familiar outcomes. The inner workings of my body is also complex and inspiring, with multitudes of daily miraculous events occurring.

So photographing the earth, sky, sea, the natural world, including the human body is like entering a temple and bowing in prayer.

It is where I find peace, meet my maker and meet my humanity and my soul, even.

I wish more world leaders could feel this in their hearts and souls too. They might then be able to act as our Christ and save us, rather than our Judas. For what we do to the earth, we do to ourselves.

It’s impossible to live and breathe and adore this earthly place, without facing my own body within it, as part of it, my vessel to take me through this version of a life experience. Why then the epic struggle to truly love and cherish my own mountains, deep valleys, volcanic eruptions, hailstorms, deserts, lush rainforests and spinifex within?

It is a constant journey, but I intend to celebrate that journey. I trip up a lot, but I am still moving on it. Which brings me to my next body of work, an idea that has been brewing for a number of years. It’s fruition is overdue.

A combination of the body of the earth and the body of us. I’m looking for signs of life to photograph: scars, stretch marks, unusual markings, lines, blemishes, etc.

Please put yourself forward if you have any of these. You won’t be identified, your markings will be abstracted.

Please contact me through my facebook page if you wish to take part.

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Spring has sprung!

 

After more than a year in my new home, my garden is still giving me great surprises with what comes up in each new season.

It’s hard not to get out the macro lens and show my appreciation, so I have done it again, focussing this time on a gorgeous purple bulb that seemed to shoot up out of nowhere!

It reminds me to keep on keeping on, as you never know what is around the corner. So here is a little visual thank you to the universe that is my garden, doing it’s own amazing thing.

And may we all continue to do our own amazing thing, even if it takes getting through those winters to rise up and greet the sunshine with everything we have to offer.

And we all DO have something to offer!

 

 

 

 

 

Focus – on what you see and feel.

Sometimes for me it’s about what to focus on. There are so many choices in this world. Having a lot of choices is a great privilege, let’s make that clear.

It can lend itself to confusion and a seeming lack of focus. On a drive out near Daylesford I stopped by the road to take some pictures.

I knew I wanted to use my macro lens to capture some of the beautiful detail I was seeing and I do love the painterly effect of a short depth of field, but what to focus on…

I began to stand in one place and take a number of photos, just changing the point of focus without changing my framing to see what I came up with. It allowed for a little of the unknown to creep into my shooting, which I think is fun.

Sometimes nature shows us the most beautiful surprises.

The images of the old mattress springs really speak to me about the buzz of confusion that sometimes surrounds me, in having more than one passion to focus on. Where to stand, how long to stand there and where to focus, again.

In the meantime, I continue trusting my own drive as well as those surprises that nature throws my way, to keep taking me exactly where I need to be.

Winter dreaming

I do tend to get the winter blues and today I took the sunshine as an opportunity to appreciate what’s in my garden…

Among other beauties was one of my favourites. The Protea. An original Australian.

How timely, as it is the end of NAIDOC week and a great time to appreciate all our original Australians.

The beauty and strength, the colour and vibrancy, the history and environment. A big shout out to all clans of this country and their heritage and dreaming.

The little I know of Aboriginal and Islander culture I admire and respect greatly.

My life has been made much richer by the sharing and interaction I have been blessed to experience. Thank you.

And also in appreciation of my garden’s winter collection.

 

 

 

 

 

 

winter nature photography

 

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