Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Writer’s Eye

Today I welcome fellow Five Star author, and frequent visitor to Terry's Place, Patricia Stoltey. As many of my regular visitors know, I enjoy sharing photographs. What a treat to have Patricia talk about writing and photography in today's post -- with pictures! Enjoy!

Before I began writing, I took very ordinary photographs. Empty beer cans or fast food trash littered my beach shots. Framing a distant view with nearby trees never crossed my mind. When I look through my albums of old 35-mm photos, I understand how limited my powers of observation were.

Writing has taught me to pay attention to detail, to imagine a scene as though planning the props for actors, to see the main subject of the photo and then observe the subject’s surroundings. Where are the shadows? Is there a natural frame if I move a little to the left or right? Are there interesting clouds in the sky? Is everything in the landscape the same color?

Since I began writing in the mid-80s, and as I became a better writer over time, I also improved my photographic skills. I still have a lot to learn. Thank goodness I’m not still practicing with a 35-mm camera (and thank goodness, I’m not still writing at a typewriter).

Here are five of my favorite photos from over the years.

1. At the Wagon Wheel Bunkhouse of Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch, Loveland, Colorado




2. Along the 17-Mile Drive on the Monterey Peninsula in California


3. A Northern Colorado sunset



4. On the hiking trail from Monterosso to Vernazza in the Cinqueterre, Italy



5. The Seine in Paris – taken from one of the Bateaux Mouches


For me, learning more about photography is almost as much fun as exploring a new genre for my next novel. They are two different ways to express our creativity, yet both are enhanced by attention to detail.

Patricia is the author of two amateur sleuth mysteries, The Prairie Grass Murders and The Desert Hedge Murders. She is in the process of submitting her first historical women’s novel to agents while revising the first draft of a suspense novel. To learn more about Patricia and her books, please visit her blog, http://patriciastoltey.blogspot.com.

23 comments:

Margot Kinberg said...

Terry - Thanks for hosting Patricia.

Patricia - Those are stunning 'photos! I'm especially drawn to the Northern Colorado sunset. What a gorgeous and well-constructed 'photo! You make a solid point, too; the more we learn about putting together a story, the better our sense of "the big picture" is. No wonder the 'photos get better, too :-).

Patricia Stoltey said...

Thanks, Margot. The Colorado photo is one of the more recent, taken with a digital camera, while the Paris scene with the strange pink light is from an older 35mm print.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Terry, thanks somuch for having me here today. The post looks great.

Terry Odell said...

My pleasure, Patricia. And we get some nice sunsets in this part of Colorado too!

N. R. Williams said...

Nice to meet you Terry. Patricia, beautiful pictures and an interesting point on how writing helps us become more observant.
Nancy
N. R. Williams, fantasy author

Arlee Bird said...

Nice photos. I rarely take the time to take photos anymore. I'm usually so busy looking or being a part of things that I forget to. Practice makes perfect, and I can see what you're saying related to that.

Lee
Tossing It Out

Patricia Stoltey said...

Thanks for coming by, Nancy. If you haven't met Terry before, you'll be interested to hear she moved from Florida to Colorado not so long ago.

Thanks, Arlee. I carry my camera in my purse all the time now, but still forget to take it out if I get engrossed in my surroundings or an event.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Pat,

These are wonderful photos! Thanks for sharing them with us. You have a wonderful eye.

Clarissa Draper said...

I love the photos! I'm going to be driving the Monterrey route next month and I can't wait.

CD

Terry Stonecrop said...

Wonderful photos. I particularly like the crispness and detail of the wagon wheels pic.

I like your ideas about observation, too.

Pat said...

Beautiful, Pat! Thanks so much for sharing. Photographs are novels without words, aren't they?

Patricia Stoltey said...

Thanks for coming by, Jacqueline. If we only had time to do all the stuff we want to do...

Clarissa -- it's a beautiful drive. The day my son took me down the coast it was breezy and overcast, nice weather to stop along the way for clam chowder. :)

Thanks, Terry. I was at the guest ranch for a writer's retreat and was lured outside by the warm sunshine.

You're right, Pat. Every picture tells a story.

Simon Hay Soul Healer said...

Hi Patricia. I'm enjoying taking photos more than ever before. Digital cameras make it easy and it does help with observation and scene building. The sunset is my favourite. I have to climb onto my roof to get a good sunset photo at home.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Hi Simon -- I don't do any climbing to my roof, but have been known to hike up nearby hills to get some nice shots. The photo I use in my blog's banner was taken at a reservoir not too far from where I live. It would be a great place to shoot sunrises and sunsets.

Anonymous said...

Terry thanks for inviting Pat. Pat your photos do tell a story and I am drawn into them. A feeling of awe happens when the scene is there and is captured to relive again in the photo. Jayne

Susan Oleksiw said...

Patricia, your photos are striking and your articulation of the interrelation between writing and photography are very welcome. I also mix photography and writing, and find that my photos contain a strong narrative element as well as capturing the design of the surrounding world. I hope to see more of your work.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Hi Jayne! Thanks for the nice words. And you're right. I love my old photo albums so much just for that reason.

Mary Aalgaard said...

Great photos! I also love using words and photography, with a splash of music.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Susan and Mary, thanks so much for coming by. One of the great things about blogging is that we have one venue for almost all of our creative activities. Those who paint can photograph and display their art. Musicians can create a video clip for their blogs. We have these amazing opportunities to send our work around the world. Aren't we the lucky ones?

Patricia Stoltey said...

Terry, thanks so much for having me here today. And thanks to all our followers who visited and left comments. I've had fun.

Maggie Toussaint said...

Hey Patricia,

Sorry to be so late. I enjoyed the pictures and your thoughts about details and framing. Those are so key to writing good novels.

enjoyed your post!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Terry and Patricia .. wonderful photos - they certainly set the scene .. and one could draw all kind of inferences from each one ..

Thanks - good to be here .. Hilary

Patricia Stoltey said...

Hi Maggie and Hilary -- I'm so glad you stopped by. If I ever get my old 35mm prints organized and scanned, I'll have more photo essays for blogging.