From Every Angle

For this week’s photo challenge: From Every Angle, I’m bringing back a post I made last spring. I really love this canoe sculpture and fish mural in Lewiston, Idaho, embellishing a fish plant by the river, of course. This week’s challenge is to take 3 photos of a stationary object, each shot from a different angle. Click here to see my original post.

I like these photos and I can’t help the play on words as salmon and sturgeon have been captured from every angle allowed in the rivers. Anglers, wildlife agencies, Tribes, the fish industry, power companies and their users, and conservationists view these primary target fish in the Clearwater and Snake Rivers from several angles.  One thing we all agree on is that we want the fish population in the Pacific Northwest to stay healthy and abundant. The issues are complex and interrelated. I’ll investigate the current status this fall after our wildfires are under control and my contacts will have more time for interviews. Watch for that post later.

Woman with Flowers

woman with flowers 1

Beneath the south arch supporting the medieval shop rested an ancient looking crone. Her scarf tied loosely under her chin adorned her complicated face. Spongy sandals comforted her toes. She dressed in tidy dark skirt and vest. The tiny woman smoked her cigarette and tilted a bunch of white hydrangea and gold mums toward me.

Her face was carved in abstract creases shaped by time. The wrinkles gave her the look of wisdom and suffering that comes from experiencing life with unguarded emotions. But her folded skin was not a true guide to her spirit. It was her eyes looking straight into mine, not with insight but with mischief and delight and recognition, that hinted at some joy she felt in that moment. She sipped her espresso from the little crimson cup and balanced it back on a stone at her feet next to an enormous yellow shopping bag, a bright sunflower printed on its shiny surface.

Between us stretched the cobblestone street that made our joints ache. Perhaps we noticed each other because we were the only two women in Shighisoara who wore sensible shoes this hot afternoon. But I feel it was something else that brought us together. She sat in the threshold, one door open to the long shady corridor behind her leading to a locked iron gate, the other door closed next to her showing the engraved pattern gracing its edge. The old architecture of the square juxtaposed with that of this knarly sweet person spoke to me.

I asked if I could photograph her and she nodded and sat straighter, posing. When she saw her images on my camera screen she smiled in silent approval.  But I know I heard her say, “Today was a good day.”

woman with flowers 2

These photographs are my contribution to the WordPress weekly photo challenge: Today Was a Good Day. I met this woman in Transylvania this summer. The experience hasn’t left me. A story waits here, an exchange between us that calls to be developed. Soon enough.

This week’s photo challenge asked us to create a Mesh gallery. It didn’t feel right for these two photos but I will try it out in another post when I have a gallery to exhibit.

Ghosty horned skull thingy

ghost skull in flashlight

And this wraps up my creepy posts for this week’s photo challenge CREEPY. Not everything about Bran Castle was eerie, but some of it definitely was. To see more scary images from my visit to Transylvania in July look at my recent posts below or in the left sidebar. To participate in the weekly photo challenge or see what other bloggers have posted for the creepy photo challenge click here. Not all my posts are about horror so please come back and see more gentle posts, soon.

Horror Bride

She knew she would never escape the fortress if she married him. Death forever was better than submitting to his demeanor.

running into scene

horse face close

bride with lantern

girl watching rider

bride's back

It’s CREEPY photo challenge week. Here’s my theme for today. To see previous creepy posts for this week, look through my recent posts below or in the left side bar. I have been posting photographs I made in Transylvania in July. This remarkable bride and horse, created by a film crew, were at the entrance to Bran Castle. To participate in the weekly photo challenge and see creepy photos by other bloggers, click here

by window light in a castle

Here’s another response to this week’s photo challenge, CREEPY. Today I look into windows and out of windows at fortresses in Transylvania, high up into the Carpatian Mountains. I consider sitting or standing in nothing but window light in Bran Castle. Would I be content? Would I be a prisoner or hostage in olden times? Would I be a ghost of someone who knew intimately the light inside the torture chamber? What secrets are hidden in dim  light of a castle window? What shall I compemplate at my own window today in the Rocky Mountains?fortress window skulls

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Favourite Place

by Terry Collett

For the umpteen time in as many days
You were caught sitting in the window
Of your uncle’s room, and he in as many
Times scolded you for disturbing his
Papers and books and cluttering up
The place, as he put it in his bass
Voice, which vibrated the timbers.Go elsewhere and sit and stare
And clutter up another room, and
Don’t look at me like that girl,
He moaned at you, jabbing his
Stubby finger into your bony chest,
Giving you the I’m-the-adult-around-here
Stare, and so you moved off and out
And pulled the door closed on his musty
Room with his dusty books and papers
And that smell of tobacco and old
Men and never went back again.

At least that’s what you told him
Thereafter, although you often crept
Back in and sat in the window looking
Out at the orchard, where, on certain
Times of night or day, you could see
Your now dead auntie, wave as she
Went on by the trees and on her way.

Poem from http://allpoetry.com/poem/5640287-Favourite-Place.-by-Terry-Collett
See more of my photos for the photo challenge CREEPY when you click here and here. 

Hidden passages

In the Tunnel
Up the hidden stairs

Anything can happen

when you take the first steps

into a hidden passageway.

Strange lights appear.

Walls close in on you.

Pretty creepy.

Especially when

stairs are involved.

And if

it’s in the dark part

of an ancient castle

deep in Transylvania

deep in the Carpathian Mountains.

And if you’re alone.

At night.

And it’s Bran Castle,

one of several

that inspired the story

of a cunning vampire.

The setting, they say.

Would you proceed toward an unknow light source?

Would you step

round the corner

toward an unknown light

source?

step up B & W tint

Would you recall

the murderer

creaking

up the old wooden stairs

every night

to your bedroom

when you were a child?

You knew you would be the first one killed,

silently

because you were too scared

to scream.

Next,

your sleeping brothers.

Would Dad wake up

in time

to save his family?

You never found out.

down ancient steps

What ghosts crept down these

primitive planks,

before you?

Did they escape?

Will you?

Will you miss a step

and tumble down head first

screaming

as you see your belly

falling over your face

again and again

like you were a child?

Again and again?

Who will unlatch the door

at the bottom

and hold you

this time?

Keens on stairs 3 colorful

Better carry a lantern

and wear sensible shoes

lest you slip

and break your neck.

Blood wipes up

completely

from polished stones,

they say.

stone staircase

Better yet,

stay away.

Don’t go

into dark passages.

You’ll never be the same if you do.

This poem was inspired by images I made during my experiences at The Horror Writers Workshop Transylvania, in July, 2015. Of the scary photos and writing on my blog for the photo challenge, CREEPY, the post Hidden Passages is the most popular. It doesn’t show images of things created to be scary like a ghost bride racing away on a ghost horse, or a skull with horns over a huge fabric draped in the woods, or animal skulls baring their teeth in a fortress window. No, instead it shows ancient wooden or stone stairs, most of them spiraling, and small dark hallways and strange lights. Those images are more real and we all have fears of the real more than the fantastic art pieces created to scare us.

The Wall

Bran Castle might be one of several structures that inspired Bram Stoker’s setting for his dark novel Dracula. Some of the photos I made here feel eerie. I messed with this image a little in Adobe Photoshop CS4 to see if how I could alter it for this week’s photo challenge, creepy. It’s the shaded north wall of the Transylvanian castle as I approached it. Which of these images creeps you out the most?

Creepy North Wall
Creepy North Wall

This is only slightly adjusted for tone and contrast, mostly the way the picture came out of the camera. I like the glowing light reflected in the windows.

Creepy North Wall 1
Creepy North Wall 1

A little more adjustment brings out some details and enhances the sky slightly. See more shadows in the stones and a brighter whiter wall.

Creep North Wall 2
Creep North Wall 2

A little more monotone look, or black and white.

creepy north wall 3
Creepy North Wall 3

Tinted, oldish look.

Creepy North Wall 4
Creepy North Wall 4

Tint is adjusted and the color range changes. Using the curves tool, now we see contrast between warm and cool tones.

Creepy North Wall 5
Creepy North Wall 5

I adjusted a previous version with the level or straighten tool (in crop menu) to see how it would look if the roofline or floorline were leveled, creating a 90 degree horizon line. With just a very slight adjustment, I can’t see the horizon line much more level, if any. But I like what happened to the cloud effect. From my position on the stone path when I captured the image I doubt if it would have been possible to get a 90 degree horizon. I would have had to climb out the rock wall to get that perspective. Not allowed, I’m sure. The approach perspective was likely an intention of the architect. Cameras were not handy when the fortress was erected atop the rock, but the image in the eye of guests or invaders would have subtly influenced the mood. Yikes!

So, does one of these images strike you as more creepy than the others?

Masks Keep Order in Transylvania

I’m always delighted to see hand crafted masks and those I encountered in Romania were most impressive. Masks represent the strange symbolic world. They serve to protect the home by warning off evil or beckoning good wishes. Romanians hang masks on their homes, in the forest, and display them on mantles and walls. They create masks and wear them in ritual dances for life’s greatest passages like birth, marriage, and burial. As the year passes through time, masks worn in ceremonies ease the passage from one world of time, or season, to the other, especially at New Years rituals. I photographed the masks I saw on my tour with the Horror Writers Workshop Transylvania. But fear not, the faces I encountered were not all so scary. Some were downright fun. Petre Vlase tells about Romanian masks expertly here if you want to learn more about the tradition.

Wood masks 3Our inn’s host Lorenzo at, Mamacozonacilor Pensuine in Bran set these on the mantle in the dining hall to scare off evil during our writers workshops and tours. These two were hand carved by an elderly man in Bran.

Richard's chairLorenzo gave this mask to Richard Thomas, our guest horror author and instructor in exchange for Richard’s promise to return next summer. Richard took this protection home to guard his writing chair where he composes some wicked tales. Photo by Richard Thomas, enhanced by me.

masks and flowersRomanian masks aren’t all so frightening. These fiber masks hang on homes. The male head of the household wears one in a ceremony and asks for certain wishes or hopes for the home. I found these displayed on ancient homes that were moved from various sites in Romania into Herastrau Park in Bucharest. They are hand crafted from fabric, animal hair, fibers, dried beans, and other materials. The inside where you put your face is all black felt. In some mask wearing traditions the person wearing the mask goes into the void when putting it on, becoming the character of the mask. That’s why masks are often black inside. I don’t know if that’s true in Romanian tradition.

2 masks on treeMany of these furry masks have something dangling off the nose. Most wear this sort of hat attatched.

1 more mask on wallThe teeth are made from dried beans drilled and sewn in.

1 mask on wallFur can be real or otherwise.

3 macrame facesThese look to be more for display than wearing. They are macrame, probably hemp. Now here’s a use for wooden spoons.

4 macrame facesNo two are quite alike.

wall of masksOwls see more than we can, so useful to display on the home.

2 white fur masksThese are the only old man masks I saw. They are at a souvenier shop at an ancient fortress we visited.

blood drooling faceRather absurd, don’t you think? This face is on the wall in Dracula’s birth home, now a bar and restaurant. I couldn’t hold the camera still. Yikes!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASome masks like this ceramic candle holder in a restaurant in Brasov are just decorative and plain old fun.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA mask on the wall helps set the tone of the place. Relax and enjoy a pipe

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

or whatever.child faceChilren are represented in some masks. The lighter side. It’s not all dark and scary.

horse faceAnimals, too. This is not really a mask. It was made by a film crew that used the Bran Castle as a setting. Now that’s scary. It inspired a new horror story for me. You can’t miss this monster and rider as you enther the fortress.

skull with horns at Bran entranceWe couldn’t figure out the meaning behind this but no doubt it means to be scary. This was at the top of the steep path to Bran Castle.

face in forestFigure out this one. It’s on a hill alongside the road in one of Transylvania’s most haunted forests. We were warned that wolves do live in this forest. If you were in the Horror Writers Workshop Transylvania, dont’ tell what we discoverd about this spooky sight.

I’m thrilled that as soon as I came home from Transylvania I was asked to direct a spooky play this fall. You can be darned sure I will use some of this inspiration for masks, props, and the set.