A fresh start

by cheri sabraw

Light at the beginning or end of day is the best for photography and painting.

To that point, I arose early this morning to hike the road while the light was low in the eastern horizon.

I also wanted to loosen my back muscles, still sore after driving through the Central Valley and back in less than 24 hours to visit my sister, who has moved away from the Bay Area.

What better to get blood flow than a brisk walk up a hill?


Isn’t the light luscious on the grasses already turning brown? I would paint out that Scotch Broom on the left, an invasive species.

And how about this one?


If only there were deer heads peeking out cautiously from the protection of the grass! I suppose I can paint in a magnificent stag. If only moose lived here, I would have a moose bull stretching his neck and rack out of the grass. I’ll have to make that trip to Newfoundland that I keep talking about if I want to photograph moose.

I’ve been wanting to paint some bovine subjects but all of the cattle on our road are Angus without much contrast. Today, however, the ranchers moved the mothers and older offspring to the pasture by the road. Imagine my delight to see this white-faced, doe and slow-eyed  girl with a red tag and a mouthful of breakfast food. What a subject she will be for a painting!


One feisty little guy with red highlights in his coat became very concerned with my presence and that of a blond Labrador sporting a new collar. Love the way the light catches his shoulder and face.


By the time I was heading down the road, the herd had moved to a lush spot on the hill.


I love the greens in this photo and the focal point that the white face provides.



None of these photos are enhanced which goes to show you that early morning or evening light makes Nature’s colors as vibrant as a new filly.

About Cheri

Writer, photograph, artist, mother, grandmother and wife.
This entry was posted in My photography, Nature photography, plein air painting and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to A fresh start

  1. Chris says:

    The grass hanging from the cows mouth is too perfect. I can almost picture your painting. I enjoyed the pace of the writing and the photos are so inviting. Thoroughly enjoy this piece.

  2. shoreacres says:

    That last photo is spendiferous. It reminds me of photos I’ve seen of the Palouse. There’s just something about rolling hills that attracts and soothes.

    I’m glad you mentioned that the colors in these isn’t enhanced, and I’m glad you don’t engage in that particular practice. I recently read that one reason so many photographers are oversaturating their photos these days is that the settings on iphones cameras and such are designed to “amp up” the colors. People get so used to looking that those overly-saturated photos, they begin to think nature pales in comparison. Whether that’s true (about the programming of the phone cameras) I don’t know, but it certainly makes sense of an on-going phenomenon.

    • Cheri says:

      Thank you, Linda. I do like the last photo as well although today, I took another I like. I am scrambling to capture this green grass before it becomes golden.
      Regarding your second paragraph: I used to like exploring galleries that sold photography but since so much is now unrealistically enhanced, I have lost interest. I’m still attracted to black and white photograph and of course, old photographs.

      And as you know, the Palouse is one of my favorite environments for photography. My photo needed a John Deere tractor motoring up the side of the rolling hills to mimic the Palouse.

  3. Richard says:

    Do you remember how, in the old days of Kodachrome, evening colours came out yellowy? I read somewhere that te film represented the colours as they were and that it was my vision that was adjusting to the fading light.

    I have no idea whether this is true or whether changes take place in these digital times to compensate. However that may be, it is a reminder that vision is a subjectiive experience and the painter has full licence to paint as she sees. There is no need to seek some absolute or any confirmation that she has “Got it right.” If she discovers some common experience and admiration among others through her art, then all well and good, but she can only speak for herself. Absolutes appear of their own accord through the integrity of the expression.

    This justifies non-representational paintings where the mental view of the artist is frankly displayed. It is more akin to music.

    In perfect harmony with the pristine innocence and freshness of a new day, your pictures remind me of the opening bars of Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony, which I seem to have known all my life and which never fail to transport me to a heaven beyond myself where all ills are healed.

    I trust, therefore, that your back is now eased.

    I agree with Shoreacres. The final photo captures an eternal moment.

    You have published many pictures of your neighbourhood. I have never grasped the topography and never before have I seen it in all its rural glory.

    • Cheri says:

      If my dad were alive, he could tell us all about a yellowy sheen delivered by Kodachrome. I spent many years as a child in his darkroom watching him develop his photos. The smell! Yuck.

      My back is very stiff in the morning and sore and has been in this state since last June. But I am learning to work around it!

      Thank you for your advice, which I will take. Coming from you, I know it is accurate as you know me.

      This time of year with the rolling hills and green grass, along with the cattle, it doesn’t get any more beautiful up here. To think a busy and noisy freeway is 12 minutes down the hill. I am grateful for the rural “glory” and would like to aptly capture it in oils.

      I had lunch with Kayti today. She turned 90 and advised me to just have fun.

      • Richard says:

        When was Kayti’s birthday? She is quite remarkable and right about having fun. She says what I wanted to say, but much better.

        “Fun”, of course, isn’t the endless, noisy, drug-peddling, alcohol-guzzling partying at the expense of all else except Facebook that many in the new generation think it is. I shouldn’t like you to get the wrong idea.

      • Richard says:

        I also spent many hours in my father’s darkroom, although it was all monochrome. He used to fit out the bathroom with a board he made himself to cover the window and fitted the light with a purple cover for developing. In order to develop a film he took it out of the camera, carefully ran it through a small tray of developer, holding either end, lifting them smoothly and alternately and watching until he thought it was right. No developing tanks! Then he clipped the film on strings hanging over the bath to dry with all the others.

        For printing, he covered the light with a paper bag. He made a light-tight box covered in black material of some kind with a light bulb of very low wattage inside and a push-button switch on the outide. The box had a light-tight trapdoor and there was a frame he made that clamped negative and printing paper together. He held the frame against the trapdoor and counted, When done, he released the print and transferred it quickly to trays for developing, as we watched the magic together, and fixing. It might need several goes to get the contrast right.

        He always fancied an enlarger, but they were too expensive. Occasionally we went into a junk shop to look for one. Once he went into a shop in the City and bought an antique astronomical telescope for a song. I saw one just like it auctioned in London a few years ago for £35,000. I still have ours, but in my teens I badly mistreated it in my starwatching phase. He never said anything, but he must have despaired.

        I have a set of around fifty photos my father took with a primitive camera in Brittany in 1923 when he was twenty-three. They are superb – monochrome of course. He would have developed and printed them in a similar fashion. Each one has a description of the scene on the back, written in black ink in his beautiful, immaculate handwriting. I put them away somewhere for safety but, for the life of me, I can’t find them. I have been hunting high and low.

        • Cheri says:

          Well, we definitely have this experience in common although your dad had to go to a lot more work. All I remember is the printing phase where Dad would put the 8×11 photo paper with the “invisible” image come to life by putting it in that tray full of stinky fluid. I was to hold the print with both of my hands and move it forward and backward. To my amazement, the photo would magically appear in the purple light. When I look at my father’s prints, especially of White Sands Proving Ground in New Mexico, I am still amazed at the work it took.

          Several things:
          1. Start refurbishing your antique telescope.
          2. Find those prints.

  4. bogard says:

    Hi Cheri,
    Well, I’m a week behind on all correspondence. I vote for a painting based on the last photo in the series here. Wonderful landscape with the eye going towards the cows, and plenty of opportunity for a little artistic license on placement and number of the cows. Go for it!!
    I received my Coulter plein air palette box set, just waiting on the quick release plate for the panel holder to attach it to the tripod. Should be ready to go by next week. I’m excited.

    • Cheri says:

      I look forward to the art you will produce with such lovely equipment bogard. I agree that the last photo has the best composition. I will try it.

  5. Brig says:

    Your wonderful photos of rolling hills with a black baldy cow make me homesick for the Home Ranch…
    Second to the last is my fav, but in truth I loved them all.

    • Cheri says:

      You and are must have been sisters in a former life. I actually like the close-up of of the baldy cow but will try the landscape first.

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