E is for Erumpent and Etiolate

erumpent: adjective – bursting forth or through a surface.

etiolate: verb – 1. to bleach and alter the natural development of by excluding sunlight 2. a. to make pale b.to deprive of natural vigor: make feeble.

 

The NaPoWriMo challenge for today would have been daunting–find a photograph and a poem in a foreign language I don’t know then pretend I am translating the poem so that it describes the photograph–if I hadn’t recently read Here by Wislawa Szymborska. Her beautiful book of poems is laid out with the Polish versions on the left hand pages and the English translation on the right.

The Polish poems look so interesting; so many curious diacritics. The kreska or acute accent (ć, ń, ó, ś, ź); the overdot or kropka (ż); the tail or ogonek (ą, ę); and the stroke (ł) (from Wikipedia) all combine like a wild jungle of ferocious expression. I know nothing about the Polish language, so hopefully exploring the Polish poems (while covering up the translations) will spark some creative translation.

 

Contemplating the Other

                                                                                                            photo by Maria L. Berg

 

Contemplating The Other

Sad boy who stole my clothes, why are you made of flowers?
You float on a sea of boards beyond this barrier where I cannot go
You have my hair, my nose, my ball, even my shoes
But you do not have my smile, where has it gone?

When you sing, do you sound like me?
When you cry, who kisses you and wipes your tears?

If there is another of me, do I still possess specialness,
Or does acknowledging him etiolate me?
What becomes of me if the flower boy is more precious?
I want to play with him, but our hands are full.
He wants me to leave, but won’t turn away.

 

It took me a while, but I found a video of Wislawa Szymborska reading her poem “True Love” in Polish. I really wanted to hear her words in her language. And here you can see the words of a poem while she reads.

Happy Reading and Writing

and Exploring poems in foreign languages!

 

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New Gator McBumpypants Picture Book Now Available!

Gator McBumpypants in Shelley Comes Out Of Her Shell is a sweet story about the challenges of making new friends. It also covers themes such as empathy and knowing when to ask for help.

Last year, I designed and made a little box turtle. I had an online contest to name the turtle and the winning name, contributed by Amy Chesler–Thank you again, Amy–was Shelley. Shelley first appears at the very end of Gator McBumpypants Doesn’t Say Goodbye. If you haven’t read it yet, it is a story about Dee Dee the duck flying south for the winter and having to part with her friends.

In this new book, Shelley gets her own story. She is finally convinced to go on an adventure with Gator McBumpypants and Herman, but she gets a sliver and then is stuck in her shell! Shelley was very fun to work with. Her fabric has a little shimmer when the light is just right. I also designed her so that she tucks into her shell.

For those of you who have been following along with my writer’s journey here at Experience Writing (and Maria Berg’s Writing Life before that), you may recall that Gator McBumpypants was inspired by a photography assignment. I needed models and didn’t have anyone readily available. I grabbed a couple of my stuffed animals and took them outside. While I posed them and photographed them, the story of how they met and became friends came to me. That was the birth of Gator McBumpypants Hears A Scary Noise.

Since publishing that first picture book, I have designed and made two new characters, Dee Dee the duck and Shelley the box turtle. Creating the characters and stories is fun and challenging, but I also continue to use these books as photography projects.

Each year I focus on a specific technique. Last year I tried out colored filters, a wide angle/fish-eye lens and a difficult setting. Though the images using the colored filters and fish-eye lens did not make it into last year’s book, the techniques may be incorporated in the future. The setting was too beautiful to distort and the fall colors did not need a bit of enhancement.

This year, I learned bokeh shape photography. The word bokeh comes from Japanese and literally translates as “blur”. Using a hand-cut filter, I am able to create shapes with every point of light in the unfocused area of my photograph. I incorporated some of the bokeh images into the book and I think it brings another dimension of magical fantasy to the already fun mix of photography and play.

As the characters and stories progress and grow through the series, I, as a photographer, grow as well. Each year is a new adventure. I hope you will think about bringing the joy and play of Gator McBumpypants books to your family this year.

Happy Gator McBumpypants Day!

A Birthday Story In Pictures

The story goes, as Mother tells it, that I was born at exactly midnight. The doctor asked her which day she would like my birthday to be and since my only cousin’s birthday was the 7th, and I would want my own birthday, she chose the 8th. Obviously, her logic was WRONG, so I celebrate both.

I had some fun with my camera and canva.com yesterday and created a photo story birthday celebration to share with my cousin. I thought you might enjoy it to.

Happy Birthday

 

Happy Birthday(1)

 

Happy Birthday(2)

 

Happy Birthday(3)

Great News! The new Gator McBumpypants adventure is now available!

cover-gdsgTreat the children in your life to the newest Gator McBumpypants adventure Gator McBumpypants Doesn’t Say Goodbye.

In this (the fourth) Gator McBumpypants picture book, Dee Dee invites Gator McBumpypants and Herman on a grand adventure. They spend a wonderful day exploring, but Dee Dee hasn’t only planned a day of fun. She has something she needs to tell them. Why did Dee Dee plan a special day? And what big secret is she keeping for the end?

This book is a nice companion piece to Gator McBumpypants in Dee Dee Makes Three. In that book Herman makes a new friend while out flying. Her name is Dee Dee and she is a duck. Dee Dee is special because she can fly like Herman and swim like Gator McBumpypants. The book is about finding ways to play together even when you are different and have different abilities. 

cover of third book in Gator McBumpypants and Friends series

 

I really enjoy how the visual contrast of the two books matches the differences in the stories. Dee Dee Makes Three takes place at the beginning of the summer. The majority of the photo-illustrations are in bright, direct light and the characters are presented in close, tight shots. It’s about the joy of making new friends and getting to know them. The new story Gator McBumpypants Doesn’t Say Goodbye takes place at the end of the summer and is about adventuring out from home. The photo-illustrations reflect this with long shots in slanted light and warm fall colors.

So treat yourself to a mini-escape  and join Gator McBumpypants and his friends on a fun adventure.

 

Happy Gator McBumpypants Day!

Throwing Stones: I made my #NaNoWriMo Cover

Imagined book cover for work in progress by Maria L. Berg

#NaNoWriMo2016 Book Cover

THROWING STONES: Tshepo Mwendi blames fire fighters for the loss of his parents and his home. His grief, turned anger, fuels his singular mission: to make fire fighters suffer as he has by showing the world they are inept (thus taking away their funding leading to their non-existence). To achieve his goal he throws stones to stop them from putting out fires. While throwing stones at a fire outside of the city, he is joined by other stone throwers and discovers a new family among refugees and other disenfranchised of The Eternal Family. There he finally finds love, but he cannot find peace. His sharp mind and tongue along with his warped view of justice and obsessive mission make it easy for him to manipulate their leader. Though he loses his father figure and mentor, he convinces members of The Eternal Family to join him and leads his army back to the city to fight. An underhanded developer learns about Tshepo’s activities and plots to use him, along with an arsonist for hire, to be rid of some problem properties, and their tenants.

 

Wanna be my writing buddy? You can find me at nanowrimo.org/participants/marialberg

or on Twitter @authormariaberg

and if you wanted to be the first to see the book cover, you should LIKE my facebook author page

Tooling up for the new book: the photography of Gator McBumpypants

An array of affordable photography equipment

Some very affordable photography tools to enhance the magic of Gator McBumpypants

My first picture book, Gator McBumpypants Hears a Scary Noise, started out as a photography project. I was taking an online photography course and needed models for an assignment, so I took a couple of my stuffed friends outside and started taking pictures. As the photo shoot progressed, a story came into my head about how this alligator met a baby pterodactyl who was attempting to fly.

Last year, with my third book, Gator McBumpypants in Dee Dee Makes Three,  Mother Daughter Book Review published my post about a new hybrid genre in picture books. I believe that photo-illustration in children’s fiction will grow, but the photos need to be imaginative, colorful and fun. So, as I do with every one of my books, I have challenged myself to make my photo-illustrations even better.

After becoming very frustrated with the costs of photography equipment, I got creative. I

fisheye

Fish-eye effect

discovered that a very cheap fish-eye lens made some great effects, so I looked at other incredibly cheap options for effects I want.

Here’s what I’m trying out for the fourth Gator McBumpypants adventure picture book:

Some Extra Light

Last year’s photography focus was on light. I worked very hard on interior lighting and had some success with a small headshot studio. However, Gator McBupypants and his friends will be on an adventure in a place where I can only bring a small backpack, so I found some small light sources.

Macro Ring 48 LED Light

This light makes a great circular light in eyes, as apposed to the regular rectangle. Human subjects complain of its brightness when I stick my lens that close to their eyeball. However, Gator McBumyppants and his friends probably won’t be bothered.

Neewer TT560 Flash Speedlite

I’m excited to finally have a directional flash. This should be great for creating or reducing foliage shadows.

Some Extra Color

Opteka HD Multicoated Graduated Color Filter Kit

These color filters give a subtle effect over only a portion of the lens and rotate to the section of the image you wish to color.

Opteka HD Multicoated Solid Color Filter Kit

These solid color filters blanket the entire image and may be useful for dramatic mood.

Some Unique Perspective

55MM Professional Lens Filter and Close-Up Macro Accessory Kit

This is fun for getting pictures of flowers and insects, perhaps some close-ups of things Gator McBumpypants sees on his adventure.

Super 500mm/1000mm f/8 Manual Telephoto Lens

This is great for birds and other critters that are far away. I’m looking forward to experimenting with photos of the gang from far away.

More Unique Perspective

Recommended photography books:

The Unforgettable Photograph: 228 Ideas, Tips, and Secrets for Taking the Best Pictures of Your Life

Bryan Peterson’s Exposure Solutions: The Most Common Photography Problems and How to Solve Them

I hope you’re getting as excited as I am for the fourth Gator McBumpypants book. Don’t forget to like Gator McBumpypants and Friends on Facebook to keep up with all the fun activities leading up to the book release.