Slowing down to notice

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One thing I love about photographing plants is that there is just such a profusion of possibility to explore and play with.  With the seasons passing, the plants and their textures evolve so much. There are new buds appearing and fresh shiny leaves, perhaps flowers, rough bark, apparent roots, unusual seeds and pods, rugged surfaces, uncanny spikes, odd stems, gorgeous color combinations as the light evolves and changes the aspect of the backdrop…

I am astounded that even without wandering far there is always more beauty and unusual details to be found, an infinite amount of inspiration.  Look at these star-shaped pods that I came across in the Amsterdam Hortus a few weeks ago, aren’t they delightful?!

Dreamy sights

Over the Christmas holidays, one afternoon I felt the irresistible need for some fresh air, my body craving to make the most of the little sunlight of the short winter days. So I grabbed my camera and went out, with no other plan than to walk along the streets close to home, open to capturing whatever inspired me. The light was beautiful, though I was clearly working against the clock to actually take some photos before darkness fell.

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This simple window caught my eye, the colour and texture of the shutters with their half-moon crescents and the stack of mixed-and-matched plates drying in the rack. In my imaginary it brings up a feeling of home, cosyness, like everyone was off having a nap after tidying the kitchen together and in a few hours preparation for the next family meal will start…

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I walked further, along the old walls of the village. A few families were out and about, several generations together walking dogs or most probably taking a digestive stroll in the chilly air. The last rays of sunshine lit up these bare trees, so it seemed like they were in the spotlight.

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As the sun disappeared, I loved the sight of these pretty lanterns lining the street against the last colours of the sky.

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My last find was this incredible mansion with its tower, the wooden beams in different tones of blue, perfectly colour-coordinated.  It’ s a private house so I could only peer semi-discreetly from behind the wall, but I can imagine settling there to write a book, a steaming coffee by my side on an old wooden desk by tower window, overlooking the garden while birds flit in and out of the trees…

Dark December days

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Lately the days are getting shorter and shorter, and even during normal daylight hours the clouds are so low that I sometimes need to switch on the light to see properly inside the flat.

Yesterday was one of those dark days, but after sitting indoors half of the afternoon, I decided to go for a walk, more because I knew that it would do me good than because I really felt like it. I took my camera along just in case.

The light was definitely not on my side, I had to crank up the ISO and hold as still as I could with slow shutter speeds, but it was a good exercise in spotting beauty in the remnants of plants and experimenting.

These tiny fruit that remind me of gorgeous fairy lights caught my eye and I got chatting with a lady, who was harvesting them into a small bowl.  She told me they are goji berries… you know that super food that is so fashionable these days?? Turns out they grow easily in our climate and as you can see this one still has fruits in December! Perfect for pepping up your muesli:)

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Quiet moments at the beach

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A few more pictures from that morning when we went to see the sunrise at the beach.  I want to remind myself of the luxury feeling of having the empty beach stretched out before us as we walked along with no destination, nowhere we needed to be at a specific time, just the freedom to stop and watch the waves crashing over and over again, or to examine the amazing patterns on huge jellyfish or the multitude of tiny stones and shells washed up on the shore.  I want to bring more and more of this peace into my daily life, without having to go far to find it.

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Sunrise walk

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For ages I’ve been meaning to get up early to enjoy watching the sun rise. Though sometimes I witness gorgeous sunrises as I cycle to work in the winter, it’s not like I really take the time to enjoy them to their full extent.  When we’re on holidays, Paolo and I do our best to see the sunrise, somehow it’s easier to get up at an ungodly hour when you know you can indulge in a leisurely nap in the afternoon.  However lately I’ve been feeling I want to experiment with weaving more of the fun things we give ourselves space to do in the holidays into daily life.

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So I decided to simply set the alarm at 5:30am on my free Friday, and after some inevitable snoozing, I got up and headed outside to enjoy the morning light as it appeared.  When I told a friend about it afterwards, she immediately asked ‘Where did you go?’.  Actually this time I kept the bar low and just went out the front door and into the neighbourhood, nothing fancy but it was perfect!

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I love being up and about before other people wake up, and it felt like I had the streets to myself. It was very quiet, with barely any cars or people, just lots of birds singing loudly to each other.  As I explored, I decided to be mindful and focus specifically on the light as its slanted rays started to shine on the peaceful world around me. I took my time and noticed what my eyes were drawn to.

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The most magical detail was the dew, one perfectly round drop hanging onto the tip of every single strand of grass, glistening in the sun. I’d never noticed that was what dew looked like up close, it was mezmerising! It is such a pleasurable way to start the day, I definitely want to do this again soon.

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Enjoying dawn and dusk

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Those moments around dawn and dusk, when the light is soft and a magic glow shines on everything, are my favorite times of the day.

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While we were in Capraia Paolo and I made a point to be outside and enjoy them often (even if it meant getting up at 5am to see the sunrise).

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We have our own favorite ways of being in the moment: I like to take pictures and capture the gorgeous light, while for Paolo it is the best time for fishing. Over the years, I’ve taken tons of pictures of Paolo on different coasts, patiently casting his line against stunning backdrops of changing skies.

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Dawn is particularly magical because it is so quiet, and as the fiery sun makes its majestic appearance, it feels like nature is putting on this show just for you.

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