Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Jess, Redfined

This is fire dancer from my time in Fiji.  I love the effect.

These orchids were perfect first thing in the morning.
I caught them just as the light was hitting them.
Greetings web-world, this is my coming out party!  I am coming out as a photographer.  Those of you who know me well (or have followed this blog), are probably not surprised by this, but for me it is a powerful statement.  For years I have defined myself primarily as a Boston Public School teacher.  I take pride in the work that I do, and in many ways have let the demands of the job define, and even overtake me.  Though I have been creating since I was able to hold a pencil, scissor or paintbrush, I never liked to call myself an artist, fearing it was a heady proclamation.  In fact, I still struggle with labeling myself an artist.  While teaching is still a big piece of who I am, I no longer wish it to define me.  I enjoy the work, but I love seeing the world through a camera lens.  It ignites me in a way nothing else does.

Though I am still working out exactly what this will mean for my life, for now I feel a great deal of satisfaction just from this realization.  I am a photographer, and it shapes how I see and interact with the world.  

This is one of the new techniques I am trying:  Bark painting.
I found a lot of fallen birch trees in Vermont,
so I have lots of beautiful bark to experiment with.
From a more pragmatic standpoint, I am taking concrete steps to getting my work out there, looking for opportunities to show, and sell some pieces.  I want to share with you two new platforms I will be using.

  • First of all, I can be found on Instagram, username: @jellisart.  There I will be posting some of my best photography on a regular basis.  I'm finding it a great tool to connect with other photographers, and to inspire my future work.  
  • Secondly, I have also created a new website: www.jellisart.weebly.com.  It is still in progress, and I will be adding more work soon, but it showcases my favorite photographs, illustrations, abstract work and mixed media. 
I'd like to close by thanking you all for your support through this process, especially to my parents, who are always supportive, no matter how far-reaching my aspirations.  I hope you have a chance to look through my work a bit, and maybe even be inspired yourself!  Thank you for reading!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Kauai: The Highlight Reel

I have now moved on from Kauai onto my last destination: Fiji.  I wanted to be sure I did Kauai justice, so here are some of the highlights from my trip!  I think you'll see why Kauai is called the Garden Isle!

Wailua Valley
Another lovely view from the road.  Lush, green vegetation everywhere!

Maniniholo Dry Cave
Along the north shore of Kauai, at the base of a cliff, there is a huge, cavernous cave.  If you feel adventurous, I hear there are even some smaller caves and tunnels to explore.

Waimea Pier  (Why-may-uh)
There are only 2 piers on Kauai, and I was fortunate enough to be staying just a few minutes from this one in Waimea.  I visited this pier every day of my week on Kauai.  In fact, many of my favorite sunset pictures from the last post were taken from here.

Just before sunset
In all fairness, this incredible bush flower isn't unique to Kauai.  In fact, it was all over O'ahu as well.  The smell was so intoxicating, I would often pick a blossom of the ground (never from the tree) and smell it relentlessly as I walked or rode somewhere.  It has become one of my favorite smells.

 The "Cool Pool"
I don't know what this swimming hole is really called, but it is located near Wailua, Kauai.  It's a small river-fed pool, with a large tree with platforms and ropes to help you just into the refreshing water.  I didn't venture onto the platforms, but did have a few goes on the rope swing!  It was a treat!
 Here, fellow traveler Martin, from Estonia, ventures from the highest platform.

Hanalei (Hah-nah-lay)
Remember that song: "Puff the Magic Dragon?"  Well, as the song goes, "he lived by the sea.... in a land called Hanalei."  Unfortunately, the singers mispronounced the town's name, but nonetheless, this area inspired it!  It is easy to see why!  Jagged, but lush mountains, green everywhere, valleys, peaks and meandering rivers...  The whole time we drove around this area, all I could think of was Avatar!  I half expected fantasy creatures to come flying out of everywhere!  (Little did I know, but I heard later, that Kauai was used in Avatar, in addition to Jurassic Park, Tropic Thunder, Pirates of the Carribean and more!)  I wasn't the only one inspired by the landscape!

Hanalei Bay: a lovely, crescent shaped beach trapped between these mountains
Hanalei Valley
Hanalei mountians, exaggerated on an overcast day.
The Queen's Bath
Along the north shore, tucked away into a cul-de-sac of wealthy retirees, you can find the Queen's Bath.  When we went, it had just rained, making the clay mud pathway extremely dangerous.  Fortunately there were no accidents, but I definitely removed my flip-flops, faring far better barefoot.  It was a long, slow walk to the bath itself, and I arrive just as the sun was setting.  I regret not having more time, but I was thankful that I opted for safety first.  I did get a few shots though.

Waimea Valley

This lovely river valley is named after the characteristic red dirt.  The brown river winds it's way all the way to the ocean, leaving this lovely valley behind.

Ok, so obviously I didn't really visit Mars, but goodness, with these pictures, I certainly could say I did!  Kauai is so iron-rich, that the soil everywhere is a bright red color as it rusts.  It will stain your feet, and it is even used to make these dyed shirts!  The "Dirt Shirt," they call it.  It made for some lovely photos.

Waimea Canyon
Ok, Americans.  You may have thought that the Grand Canyon was the only thing like it in the world...  The bittersweet news is that not only is there another canyon like it, but it is within the US!  Though it's layers of color more closely resembles the Badlands, it certainly gives the Grand Canyon a run for their money!  Sadly, the day we visited was lousy weather.  Visibility was poor, and the light was flat.  Photographers of the world, know that means for some weak landscape shots.  I did the best I could.

Rainbow Eucalyptus Trees
I don't know that there is much to say about these...  they speak for themselves!  Occasionally, you are lucky enough to see these trees from the side of the road.  The brown bark of these eucalyptus trees peels, revealing a fresh, light green new layer underneath.  As it is exposed to the elements, the new bark changes color, turning shades of red, purple, orange, and eventually brown, when the process begins again.

Na Pali Coast
To me, by far the loveliest part of Kauai was the Na Pali Coast.  Thanks to its volcanic origin, this rugged landscape is so dramatic.  It is common to see small waterfalls, green valleys, and caves as you wind your way around.  The mountians themselves are only accessible by hiking trail, which sadly meant I had to look from outside.  Instead, I joined a day tour by boat, zodiac to be specific.  Four hours of holding on for dear life to the guide ropes so as not to be bucked off one of the huge waves. I have 4 skinned knuckles to prove it!  Despite the physical demands of the adventure, it was an amazing day.
The Na Pali coast at morning light
One of the caves, large enough to drive in.  If you look closely, you can see another zodiac inside.

One of the highlights of the trip was coming upon a pod of about 300 dolphins!  The splashed and
breached around us for quite a while.  I tried to get some good shots, largely unsuccessfully.
They move just too quickly.  I did manage to get this one, which turned out to be a mother and her baby!
Our boat full of 16 guests marveling at the Na Pali Coast
Working on my headstand at sunset at the Polihale Beach, which marks the end of the Na Pali Coast.
I hope you enjoyed the highlight reel!  Lots of beautiful things to see in Kauai, and some of the more unique things I have seen in my travels.  It is certainly a place with an incredible draw.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015


It has been an informal tradition on my trip to try to see sunset every day.  Of course that doesn't always work out, but most days I made it.  There's really not much to say about these photos, except that it is really hard to make unique, interesting sunset shots!  I'm working on it!  Each photo is from a different day, and many are from different places, but each sunset was different and beautiful in it's own way.

My last Hawaiian sunset.  (at least for now!)

Thursday, August 6, 2015

A Feast for the Eyes

Sometimes I think we need to just look at pretty things.  That's what this post is for.  It's not too educational, explanatory or helpful, but I hope that it is at least lovely!  Here are just some of my favorite photos from my two weeks in Hawaii.

This little rabbit is an outdoor resident of the Backpacker's Hostel outside of Haleiwa, Oahu.
A female cardinal.  So pretty, even when compared to the flamboyant males.
I saw this adorable munchkin at a beach along the north shore.
Her family watched from the beach as they just let her explore the sand and water.
A beautiful valley along the Windward Coast of Oahu.

That same valley 2 days later.
A full moon.  
Not even my footprints.  Just liked the shot with the early morning light.
You already saw this with my Waimea Botanical Garden post, but I
 thought these water lilies were just so lovely, they warrant a second viewing.
I haven't found out the name of these yet, but they are all over the place,
 much as seagulls, pigeons or crows would be back home.
I believe they call this island "Chinese Hat," or something similar.  A beautiful drive along the Windward Coast.
The remains of an old sugar mill found on the Windward Coast.
Still more beautiful views from the Windward Coast, which is by far the prettiest area I have seen here.
Early one morning, I watched this man on the jetty in Waikiki.  He was feeding the birds, who
 eventually landed on him.  He attracted the attention on a young family, showing them how to
 gain the birds trust, and eventually, they had a slue of suitors, too!

At Shark's Cove on the North Shore, we did some diving, swimming through lots of caves and caverns!  Great light!
This last photo is definitely one of my favorites.  She has become one of my favorite seals here.  Her name is Ola Loa.  She is 7 months old, and an aunt to the pup I have been monitoring during this program.  She hadn't been spotted on Oahu in a few weeks, and with the high mortality rate recently due to entanglement in fishing nets, we were all relieved to see her turn up the other day.  I spent about 5 hours watching her as she sunbathed.  She's sweet, alert, inquisitive, and seems healthy.  Phew!  Let's hope she remains that way for many years to come!