Jes Lee

Oh what a dream it was


I can’t even begin to say how wonderful it has been to be home on spring break this week.

To say that I have finally been feeling like an artist again, more like myself for the first in a long time would be a big understatement.

Not that I don’t enjoy my job – I do. But I missed this.

There have been events around here in the last couple of weeks that have been absolutely gut wrenching. I don’t pretend that life will stay the same – I know it won’t, and I believe that change is good, to get us out of our comfort zones, and on to new things.

There have still been a few things this past week that blind-sided me though.


I went and photographed swans with my uncle again this past weekend. There is something about just sitting there, watching the birds, and talking that I really needed. Some things clicked into their proper places after that.

On we go, and keep flying, even when you don’t know how you will be able to. Hearts are resilient things. I learned from a new friend this week that the heart of a racing dove is the same size as the heart of a young turkey. I don’t know what to think of that really, except that there is proof that you can still fly even if your heart is a bit heavier.


In to the sunshine.

All on a Sunday

We had a long Sunday. While it was not filled with art show openings like Saturday was, it was still wonderful, and filled with family and shopping and I was able to spend a lot of time with John. I always love weekends like that.

Being that it was the first weekend in quite awhile that we were both feeling good, John went with me to see the swans and test out my new lens. From where we park, it is about a mile walk out to where the swans hang out. We weren’t able to stay long enough to watch them fly away, but we were able to stay for a bit. I tried out my new lens, and I am really enjoying it! The auto focus isn’t the fastest, but it isn’t the slowest I’ve used either. And the photos I got were quite sharp. I forgot to bring something to feed the swans, so they weren’t very interested in sitting close to me. It was a nice to test the zooming capabilities of this lens though!

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For reference, I took this with my iPhone from where I was sitting. More photos with my digital camera below, and more film photos to come soon.

After, we hiked back to the car, stopped at home to change, and went to The Bad Waitress to celebrate John’s birthday as well as my father-in-law’s birthday. It was nice to see them. I’m hoping we can do Sunday brunch with family a bit more often now.

After, John and I went to Ikea in search of spice jars (we didn’t find them) and the Mall of America in search of clothes. We didn’t find very much in the way of clothes, but we did come home with a stack of books, thanks to a couple of gift cards. The number of books I have purchased this weekend says a lot about where my head has been lately.

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Currently, it is beautiful and snowy out, and I couldn’t be happier! I’m heading out to yoga for the first time in over a week…I finally feel like I could make it through most of class. Fingers crossed that I’m right about that!

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Until next time….

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Long days

Days stuck at home being sick can get really long. Today, after feeling like I would burst without a bit of creative time, packed up my laptop, notebook, and some sketching tools and headed back to bed. Yes, just like a little kid taking all their toys to bed with them. It helped though. I stayed put for most of the day, and am starting to feel a bit more human. I participated in Wet Paint’s Weekly Work-Outs by making a charcoal sketch of my hand. No, it isn’t great, I haven’t sketched for a very long time. But, I started sketching again today.


I also edited the black and white film photos I took of the swans a couple of weeks ago. I realize that it is not at all easy to photograph swans with black and white film, and that I should have brought color film with me. But I am still enjoying these. I have a 150mm lens for my Hasselblad, which is what I was using for these. Not as much zoom as the lens I had with for my digital. Next time, I think I will bring a different film camera with that has a bit more zoom capabilities. I rather like being able to get in really close to them. But, I do adore the square format and the graininess of these photos! Different mediums…

Hopefully I’ll be back out to photograph these birds again soon. This year has already brought about many changes and challenges and a dose of sorrow. But so every year goes. And perhaps we are wrong to think each year will be different in that respect. When really, the years are the same, with their ups and downs, but each has a different theme. Maybe the theme of this year for me will have something to do with nature. I don’t expect it will take me long to find out!

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Swans and water and mornings

My uncle emailed me last week, asking if I would like to go photograph swans with him one morning over the weekend.

I have known for a long time that he does this when the swans return to this creek/pond close to his house.

I have also known for a long time that he goes out pretty early in the morning to photograph them.

But I have been curious about this habit of his, and curious about if I would really enjoy taking wildlife photos or not, if I could ever get myself out of bed that early in the morning for something other than work…etc.

So, before my brain could remind me that the particular weekend he was asking about was a work-weekend, and a roller-derby-weekend, and a celebrating-various-awesome-life-things-with-friends-weekend, I replied to his email saying “yes”.

We met Sunday morning, cameras in hand, and after a 1-mile hike from where we could park, we arrived at the water, with somewhere around 35 swans, and almost as many ducks.

I dressed warm, knowing we would be sitting in the snow. These birds didn’t mind we were there, and were quite happy that my uncle brought corn with for them!

Knowing that I would want to take photos of them flying away using a camera with more speed than my film cameras, I brought my digital Sony A77 with me…but I also stuck my Hasselblad 501c/m with my 150mm lens in at the last-minute. I haven’t developed that roll of film yet, but I hope to soon. For anyone super curious, the lens I was using on my Sony was a Tamron 19-270mm lens that I borrowed from a different uncle. I don’t own a lens with that much zoom…yet. I think after this outing, I will start researching which one I would like to someday own.

Being that close to the swans and the ducks was really cool! We walked around, getting different views of them interacting, eating, and showing off to each other. We knew eventually they would all take off, flying over us…and it felt like we waited forever as the wind picked up and the temperature seemed to drop…but it was worth the wait.

Do I need practice at taking photos of birds flying away? Oh, hell yeah I do. But it was fun! And I really like some of the photos I took. And I definitely will go back again, even though it is a bit early in the morning for me.

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