Inspired by Aelbert Cuyp, My Very Own “Cuyp Moment”

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Cuyp Moment by Diana Pappas

Aelbert Cuyp was a Dutch painter in the 17th century and his landscape paintings of cattle on pasture at the water’s edge with delicate golden light illuminating the scene really caught my eye when I studied art history. Some painters and artworks I have indeed forgotten over the years, but for some reason I never forgot learning about Cuyp.

When I started making photographs seriously 7 years ago, what I learned in those art history lecture halls as a student informed how I saw the world through my camera. Occasionally I’d notice Jacob Van Ruisdael clouds in the sky or I’d take a portrait using “Vermeer lighting” but I never encountered a scene or a moment that reminded me of Cuyp. His scenes were of a bygone world, somewhere so different from where I grew up in suburban New Jersey with a kind of light that I never had the pleasure of witnessing.

On a walk across the dunes in Northumberland in England this winter, we followed a public footpath that required us to hop a turnstile and enter the pasture of a herd of cattle. I was stunned to find myself in my very own Cuyp moment – the breathtaking light, the cows, the water, the pasture, with nothing to inform me if this was the 17th or 21st century! What a thrill. I feel lucky that I was able to capture and preserve this moment, an art history souvenir that I will treasure.

Cuyp Moment is available as a print here.

New Work: A Geological Abstract from Western North Carolina

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Photograph by Diana Pappas. www.dianapappas.com

I’m excited to share with you my latest work, which I produced on a hike last Sunday in Western North Carolina. There were beautiful views of the Blue Ridge Mountains everywhere we looked but the view underfoot on this particular trail was rather special as well. Black and rusty veins of stone swirled together in the bedrock and the sun illuminated little flecks of mica in the stone that sparkled and shimmered. Taking a photograph of it was challenging, as it was hard to capture this shimmery quality in a way that really showed how dynamic and interesting this stone was. After a few minutes I thought, why not try a multiple exposure? I love experimenting with multiple exposures within the camera. Sometimes I try two exposures, sometimes three, and the results can be unpredictable and often very surprising. In this case it was so sunny that I couldn’t see the result until I was back in the hotel and when I did finally see it I was thrilled. The multiple exposure captured what looks like a ripple of energy emanating from the stone and the mica sparkles in a way that is almost celestial. Can you feel the energy in the photograph too?

This geological abstract is available as a fine art print in sizes up to 30×40″ in my print shop.

Flower show – early spring blooms

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Dogwood blooms by Diana Pappas

So many seeds need to be sown, so many plants need to be pruned, so many weeds need to be pulled that it’s easy to be overwhelmed in the face of such a lengthy gardening to-do list. I was in the middle of some such task yesterday when I looked around me and saw so many gorgeous flowers glowing in the gentle spring sunshine. There was no resisting the pull to go get the camera and give the flowers around me the close-ups they deserve.

Photographing flowers in a new and unusual way is a challenge I always welcome. They are quite rightly a favorite subject for many photographers, both amateur and professional, so I have to ask myself what I can do that’s different, unique and unexpected. In the coming weeks I’ll be revisiting flowers now and then as a subject and we’ll see what I can come up with!

I hope you enjoy these spring views of dogwood (above and just barely blooming) and daffodil, magnolia, eastern red bud, brunnera, and lesser celandine.

Daffodils by Diana Pappas

Daffodils by Diana Pappas

Daffodils by Diana Pappas

Photo by Diana Pappas-5

Photo by Diana Pappas-6

To view more of my nature and botanical photos, check out these prints in my Etsy shop or check out my Seasonal Lifestyle collection on my website. The above photos are also available as prints in any size. Please get in touch if you are interested.

Camp Helen State Park in Panama City Beach plus a gorgeous blaze of yellow!

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Camp Helen State Park

Camp Helen State Park in Panama City Beach, Florida, is a fascinating place to explore when I’m down on the panhandle for some rest, warmth, and relaxation. The myrtle oaks are draped with Spanish moss, the trails are sandy, the birdsong is exotic – in short, it’s a world away from the plants, animals and sights that I’m accustomed to in my part of New Jersey. The binoculars are always at the ready and there is plenty of natural beauty to inspire a few clicks on the camera.

Before I left for a week in Florida, I wrote about the blast of color that a vase of forced forsythia can offer as a way of hurrying spring along. I was delighted to find that very same yellow color in Florida earlier this week on a walk at Camp Helen, but in this case it was a rather autumnal farewell to last year’s green palmetto leaves. The fiery display was simply stunning in the late afternoon, the low sun slanting in at just the right angle to set the colors ablaze. The blazing yellow also happened to match the color of the northern parula warblers we spotted just perfectly! It was a lovely day trip, and I must say I really enjoyed this unexpected pop of color. Hope you enjoy it too.

Camp Helen State Park is located at 23937 Panama City Beach Parkway (Highway 98) in Panama City Beach, Florida.
http://www.floridastateparks.org/camphelen/

Forcing forsythia, a blast of color to make spring hurry up!

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Forced forsythia branches in bloom.

Winter is in no hurry to step aside for spring, it seems, though the signs of spring are unmistakable out there. The snowdrops are past their peak, daffodil and tulip leaves are reaching out of the soil for the sky, and there are buds starting to swell on every flowering shrub, vine, and tree around. We’ve already sown a whole row of peas in the garden, as well as escarole, frisée, radishes, spinach, chard, beets, carrots, parsley, and that’s only outside! Inside we are sharing our home with trays of onion, leek, shallot and scallion seedlings, lettuces, cabbages, kales and broccoli, too. Soon it will be time to sow tomatoes, eggplant and peppers, and the anticipation for summer becomes almost mouthwatering. But I’m getting ahead of myself, as there are still remnants of the last snowfall on the ground, and every morning lately the birdbath has been iced over. Spring weather will take over soon, I know, I just have to be a little more patient.

To help get this transition from winter to spring going, I find it helps to brighten things up and the most willing accomplice to this end are the generous forsythia bushes on our property, happy to donate some of their branches to the cause.  I try and cut branches that are quite tall so I can put together a dramatic display in our largest vase, but I also pick some that are much more manageable, to help spread the cheer throughout the house here and there. Forcing the blooms in this way takes perhaps a week but soon the bare branches burst forth sunny, yellow flowers that warm the heart and assure the mind that winter truly is behind us.

Dune Bouquet: dried wildflowers on a dune in Northumberland

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Dried Bouquet by Diana Pappas

I’d like to share this bouquet of dried English wildflowers with you, captured on a dune along the North Sea in England. Even though the flowers were dried up and past their prime, I was drawn to the egg-yolk centers that remained. It’s a great color, isn’t it? Warm and golden, as if the flowers were still holding on to that summer sun. Does anyone out there know what kind of flowers these are? I’d love to know!

Winter Color – a blast of chartreuse and cinnamon

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Growth and Decay by Diana Pappas

Spring will soon invade with its beautiful pastels but I thought why not take a moment and indulge in some winter colors – or colours as they say in England! When I was in England for the holidays I fell in love with the wonderful winter colors around me, especially the cinnamon-colored dead bracken and fallen larch needles, and the glowing chartreuse of the ferns, mosses and grasses still hanging on despite the cold. It was a gorgeous landscape to get lost in!

In Growth and Decay, above, the colors combined beautifully, and I loved the touch of pale blue lichen on the stones and on the tree trunk to set it off. The growth of the tree and the decay of the dry stone wall was a perfect complement to the growth of the moss and ferns and the decay of the bracken. Growth and Decay is available on my Etsy shop, though here are a few more colorful favorites from the same day’s walk.

Bracken by Diana Pappas Larch needles on a track by Diana Pappas Bracken and spring by Diana Pappas