22 September 2014

Hidden Face in Renoir Painting?

I have an app on my tablet called Jigsaw Puzzles that lets you do a jigsaw puzzle from any photograph you supply, or one of the built-in samples that the app comes with. I was working on a puzzle of Renoir's painting Woman at the Piano, which I'd seen and photographed at the Art Institute of Chicago. As it is a portrait orientation painting, and the app runs in landscape mode by default, I had started working on it with the woman rotated sideways. Doesn't matter much when you're just working on the edges and gathering like colors together. But that perspective caused me to notice something that I wouldn't have noticed if I'd been working at it upright.

The stool she's sitting on, when rotated 90 degrees clockwise, appears to have a hidden picture of a bearded man's face in it. What do you think?

Here's the original painting:

Now here's the seat cushion from the stool, rotated sideways and skewed a little bit, and enlarged:

Do you see the bearded man or am I crazy (like people who see Jesus in a grilled cheese sandwich)? Could it be a signature self-portrait of Renoir himself hidden in the painting? I'm sure someone would have found it and commented on this before if so, but I can't find any reference to it online.

Anyway, it's interesting what you can see if you look at something familiar from an unusual perspective, and close up.

08 September 2014

Harvest Supermoon

Or is it a Super Harvest Moon? I need a more stable tripod head for my heavy 500mm lens. I have a ball-and-socket head, and it creeps a bit even after I tightened it; plus it's hard to focus the 500mm lens, so I had a tough time getting the image as sharp as I wanted. I tried a number of different combinations of settings to eliminate camera shake, let in enough light, and get a depth of field that would give me a sharper image. I ended up settling on this one taken at f/10, 1/500 sec, and ISO 200. It's my best moonshot yet. Makes a big difference having a lens that really works with my camera! If you recall, the last moon photo that I posted had an interesting story with it, about a lens that didn't fit the camera.

26 August 2014

New book: The Sacred Year by Michael Yankoski

I am excited about the forthcoming publication of my friend Michael Yankoski's latest book The Sacred Year. It is a very fitting nudge to get me back to blogging here on Space for God. It may appear from the dearth of recent posts that I haven't been making much space for God in my life over the past couple of years. Actually I have, in bursts, like the 6-day spiritual retreat I took on the holy isle of Iona in June, but not on an everyday basis. The Sacred Year is a book that is essentially about making space for God: slowing down our lives enough to incorporate spiritual practices that deepen us, to counter the prevalent feeling that we're spread too thin.

I have read Michael's previous book Under the Overpass and really loved it. His writing style is fantastic, and it really challenged me. I've now read the introduction and sample chapter of The Sacred Year available here. It has Michael's same gripping prose and a depth of hard-earned wisdom that is remarkable for someone his age (29 when he wrote it).

Michael has placed himself in situations where he can be attentive to the wind of the Holy Spirit blowing through his sails, and has learned a great deal through those experiences. In Under the Overpass, he told about his few months of intentionally living as a homeless man in order to learn appreciation for the plight of the homeless. In The Sacred Year he shares the wisdom he has learned from an even longer experiment.

Michael had came to a point in his life where he was feeling spread too thin, "like butter that has been scraped over too much bread" (as he quotes from Tolkien). So he took himself off to a monastery to learn from the monks a rhythm of life that would allow him more balance and depth in his relationship with God. From there he committed to a year of working through various spiritual practices that are not commonly undertaken by Protestants. The first one (the only chapter available so far) is single-tasking, the practice of attentiveness. It is something that most of us, easily distracted in this hyper-connected online world, need to hear. His description of contemplating an apple was sheer joy. It reminded me of Robert Farrar Capon's chapter on contemplating an onion in The Supper of the Lamb.

I am looking forward to reading the rest of the book, which I will be able to do when the Kindle version ships to me on September 16. Check it out on Amazon.


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