Archive for the 'Fine Art' Category

29
Mar
14

step by step to a textured image, with intent

From time to time an image will rise that speaks to me in a different way. Capturing images, in camera, with little need of editing after raw conversion, is always my goal. I create photographs by bringing all of my intention to an image that I hope will speak to the viewer in an engaging way. Having said that, I have discovered that creating composite images with textures or other photo layers can be a very satisfying process. One caveat: bad images with textures and other layers are still bad images. There is that old adage about putting a silk purse on a sow’s ear…

I posted images from the South of France just last week. Many people emailed or commented (on Facebook and this blog) with kind and generous remarks. Thank you! I’ve also been talking to several of the students that I mentor who have voiced an interest in working with textures and layers. I’m posting the step by step process here to encourage you all to have fun and give something new a try! As always, I send my gratitude to Jill and Paul and Flypaper Textures for their passion to make great products (click on the box there on the right and you’ll see all their marvelous sets of textures).

My disclaimer…I am not a photoshop instructor. There are many people who excel at this part of teaching, but I am not one of them. My intent here is to share something fun that might intrigue you.

The process:

After I have optimized my image in Lightroom 5 I will choose Photo~Edit In~Photoshop CS6 (or 4 or 5…whatever you are working in).

If I have opened my texture(s) file(s) from another source I will have a number of images open in Photoshop. For the purposes of this tutorial, lets go with the assumption that I have opened from another source rather than the plug-in (see note at end of post).

If your images are all in the same bar and you want them to appear in separate windows (you do) then click on Window ~ Arrange ~ Float all in windows.

Screen Shot 2014-03-29 at 1.57.41 PM

Now you can move your images onto each other. Click your move tool (at the top of your tool bar on right) and choose a texture to place onto an image. After you have moved it onto your image you will see that you have two layers. Perhaps your new texture layer is a different size than your image. Don’t worry. With your texture layer highlighted, choose Edit ~ Transform ~ Scale. Hold down your shift key and then resize by dragging a corner or side box to maintain your ratio. If you don’t need to maintain a ratio, simply grab one of the size boxes with your move tool and resize your texture layer to cover your image.

Screen Shot 2014-03-29 at 1.59.10 PM

After you have resized your image, click the CHECK MARK on the upper right to confirm your resizing.

Screen Shot 2014-03-29 at 1.59.44 PM

Now in your layers palette you need to choose the Blending Mode. The default is Normal. Click the drop down menu and you will see many options. I generally start with Soft Light or Overlay, depending on how I want the image to appear. Try each the options in the drop down menu and go back and forth to begin to learn the subtleties.

Perhaps you like the Overlay mode but it’s a little too strong? Move the opacity slider (just to right of Blending mode drop down box) left and fight to find the desired effect.

 

In this image I liked the effect but I knew that I wanted the bottom of the textured image to be on the top of my photograph. No problem. So I went back to Edit ~ Transform ~ Rotate 180. (make sure your texture layer is highlighted in your layer palette when you do this or your entire image will rotate!)

Screen Shot 2014-03-29 at 2.00.23 PM

Perhaps you like the effect on some of the image but want to minimize it in certain areas? I use this a lot to block out the texture layer on faces, bodies of horses, or where the shadows and vignetting can be a little too strong.  Go down to your bar at the bottom of your layers box (on right) and choose the mask overlay. It is the rectangle with the circle in the middle. This is where it gets really fun!  Now you can ‘paint’ IN or OUT the desired effect. You have infinite control here simply by choosing the OPACITY of your BRUSH.

Screen Shot 2014-03-29 at 2.00.52 PM

Next, click Command~I (with your texture layer highlighted) to completely block out your texture layer. You will see your mask turn completely black and you will see only your original image in the window. Now we can begin to reveal the texture layer WHERE we want it and in WHAT STRENGTH we want it.

Screen Shot 2014-03-29 at 2.01.01 PM

Choose your brush tool from your toolbox. I generally start with 30% opacity on a fairly large, soft brush. (on the left in the tool panel) For finer detail work you will want a smaller, harder (less diffuse) brush. But start with a big soft brush. Here’s a key concept: BLACK BLOCKS, WHITE REVEALS. So down at the bottom of the tool panel on the left I will make sure I am painting with a WHITE brush IN MY MASK to reveal the texture layer (make sure the mask box is highlighted before you start painting).

Screen Shot 2014-03-29 at 2.01.37 PM

You can work either way, Paint ONTO your image with a white brush to REVEAL your changes, or paint OUT OF your image with a black brush to BLOCK the texture. I generally REVEAL the texture, slowly building up the effect.

Screen Shot 2014-03-29 at 2.05.04 PM

You can see by my layer mask in this screen shot that I have revealed ALL of the texture (100 percent) in the image except over the church and some of the tree. In the mask, the area that is black has BLOCKED the texture from showing through.

At this point I like the image but I’m not in love with it. I decided the effect needed more intensity. So I grabbed my texture layer and DUPLICATED IT…just to see what effect it would have. You do this by grabbing your layer and dragging it down to the little folder icon with the flipped up corner at the bottom of your layers palette on the right. (as with all icons, if you hover over it with your cursor it will ‘tell you’ what it is.)

Screen Shot 2014-03-29 at 2.06.00 PM

Now I have duplicated that texture layer, which compounded the effect of the texture. When I duplicated the layer it also duplicated my mask. You can make changes here simply by highlighting the mask (clicking on it) and then using your brush to reveal more or block more of the effect. Remember you can lessen or intensify the effect of your brush by choosing your brush opacity. Or you can remove the duplicated mask altogether by clicking on it and dragging it to the trash can in the lower right corner.

I like the more intense effect, but I want more depth in the sky, more of an aged feel. So I chose TABULA in my textures to layer on top.

Screen Shot 2014-03-29 at 2.06.44 PM

I resized the texture layer (outlined above), clicked the checkmark, and then after looking at it for a moment, I dialed the opacity of the texture layer back to my desired effect. Compare the next two images.

Screen Shot 2014-03-29 at 2.07.11 PM

 

Screen Shot 2014-03-29 at 2.08.33 PM

Notice the difference in the image itself. This is what I wanted, but I needed to fine tune some areas in the image. So I added my Layer Mask, and started to paint again with a black brush this time to BLOCK the effect. I was careful to dial back my brush opacity so I could work slowly….feel my way into how the image wanted to be. See the next two images. The first image shows my BLACK BRUSH at 56% opacity. The second image shows my BLACK BRUSH at 36% opacity. Sometimes you have to go back and forth between white and black brushes, painting in then painting out changes. Sometimes you have to throw away your layer mask and begin again!

Screen Shot 2014-03-29 at 2.09.10 PM Screen Shot 2014-03-29 at 2.09.46 PM

I simply wanted to soften the effect in the sky and already dark corners, and really soften the effect on the stone itself. I chose TABULA because I wanted to echo the texture of the old stone. I didn’t need to add too much of the texture (just looking for the tone/color) to the stone.  Then I walked away from the image! This is an important step. We can become emotionally attached to an image and a little bit ‘in-love’ with what we are doing. We need perspective, we need to cool our ardor a bit and then return to the image to check our work.

I finished with the image below…you can see a tiny difference in the layer mask on TABULA. I let a little more of the texture come through on the stone. It added more of the tone and color I wanted.

Screen Shot 2014-03-29 at 2.11.10 PM

In this image of the Chapelle Saint Sixte near Eygalieres (Provence) France I knew when I was making the image that I wanted a more somber, mysterious mood for the photograph.  The more you work with textures the easier it will become to feel your way into what the image needs. But I began with an intent. I photographed with the intent to transform the image and I carried that intent all the way through the processing.

I hope you have enjoyed this tutorial. I’ll be teaching this in my upcoming workshops (both the equine photography workshops in California and New Jersey in May as well as my workshop with the Pacific Northwest Art School on Whidbey Island in August). And to continue the self promotion, I do mentor a limited number of students each year. We have a blast and learn a lot. Zip me an email if you are interested in any of these opportunities. ( keron AT keronpsillas.com ) And if you like this post, leave a comment or share with a friend! I would truly appreciate it. Happy Shooting! ~Keron

PS…if you want more information on texturing, click on the Flypaper Textures box there on the right hand side of my blog and see what Jill and Paul are up to! There’s a wealth of information on their site and blog. And if you are interested in having a plug-in that will keep your favorite textures handy, visit Dr. Russell Brown’s site for a free one AND some great FREE Flypaper Textures. Click on THIS LINK to download your own plug-in. It’s easy and a great timesaver. Be aware though, it only works with CS6. Just scroll down to find the Green T for the textures script on his page. Have fun!

 

22
Mar
14

The Beginning of Photography!

Last weekend I was in Chalon Sur Saone, France, to visit the Musee Nicephore Niepce. It was an extraordinary experience…made more so because it was completely unexpected. To be sure, I had planned to visit, but the unexpected part was the breadth of history and an incredible collection of contemporary photography. Click the link above to visit the site for the museum and learn all about Monsieur Niepce. In brief, he was the first person to fix an image on a photo (light) sensitive plate using a camera obscura. After several years of trial and error, he invited Monsieur Daguerre, a chemist, to join him in a partnership to develop this budding technology. Niepce died just four years into their partnership and Daguerre went on garner wide acclaim.

Monsieur Nicephore Niepce

Monsieur Nicephore Niepce

After deciphering as much of the history as possible (the exhibits are mostly in French), I turned a corner to be confronted with Arnold Newman’s great portrait of Igor Stravinsky. Turning left I saw that I was in a very large room with walls hung with images from the greatest photographers, living and dead. Hanging was a selection of photographs from Florence and Damien Bachelot, passionate collectors.

Arnold Newman's iconic portrait of Igor Stravinsky

Arnold Newman’s iconic portrait of Igor Stravinsky

Bruce Davidson, Mitch Epstein, Saul Leiter, Luc Delahaye, Cartier-Bresson, Andre Kertesz, Willy Ronis, Dorothea Lange, Lewis Hine, and so many more were in this one room. I was in heaven. It was one of those unexpected moments that was so perfect, so sweet, and entirely captivating. I spent the next several hours enthralled, and then in true American fashion, went to the boutique to buy gifts for other photographer friends!

One of the things I encourage my students to do is to fill themselves with great imagery when they are not photographing. Attend a ballet, an exhibition, take a walk in the woods, browse a great book…life is enthralling and the creativity and genius available to us knows no bounds. So this last weekend I was busy feeding my soul, my brain, and expanding my visual literacy. Happy girl.

“If the beautiful were not in us, how would we ever recognize it?” ~ Ernst Haas.

20
Mar
14

in the footsteps Van Gogh, Cezanne, and Bonnard

Long before I became a photographer I was a lover of art. The Impressionists were my first love and though I have expanded my list of favorites to include the renaissance and Dutch masters, modern expressionists and a number of great American painters, I continue to return to the vibrancy and searching feeling that I see in much of the Impressionist’s work.

Because of this it was a great pleasure for me to have several days in the South of France to take in the landscapes of Cezanne, Van Gogh, Bonnard, and many others. The artists were attracted to the light of Provence, but I think they must have been attracted to the shapes in the land. The fields in the valleys are covered in ancient gnarled olives and tiny, hardy grape vines. They mirror the twisted shapes of the olive trees in miniature. The miniature iris were blooming, hinting at the explosion of color to come. And the almonds were just coming out…the peach trees were in full bloom.

The weather here can be difficult; too hot, sometimes icy cold, often windy, ever changing. The wind comes from the north carrying moisture and cold, or from the south with a fierce heat, or from the East or from the West. Each of these Mistral (meaning ‘masterly’) winds has its own name. Basically, it’s windy. But the winds clear the atmosphere of dust and other matter and lend the luminous quality to the light. Think about what the light looks like on an early evening after a terrific afternoon thunderstorm. This is the light of Provence for much of the time.

I visited the Chapelle Saint Sixte (12th century) on a calm evening without a cloud in the sky. This area in and around Eygalieres was painted many times by Van Gogh. I was happy to know that I was walking the same ground as the Masters…seeing the same forms…and seeking to create my own vision of this storied landscape. But that night my vision was a darker, more nuanced one….so I created the images below.

26
Feb
14

workshop! horses! california! oh my!

I am totally passionate about teaching and sharing my love of photography and the horses too. I hope you will join me for this wonderful opportunity. Space is very limited so email me!!! (keron @ keronpsillas. com )

workshopfliercalifornia

 

 

16
Sep
13

“you must have something to say about the world” ~ Paul Strand

When I teach I tell my students that in order to have a viewer care about or become involved with their image, the photographer must care about the image they are making. But I like the way Paul Strand says it, that we must have something to say about the world if we are to create photographs.  In other words, what are we trying to communicate? What do you want the viewer to know, to feel, to ASK? What implications are there in your photographs? Is your photograph suggestive, documentary, or literal. A combination of these? Perhaps all three?

I think about these questions unceasingly. I have come to the realization that I want to create photographs that transcend the literal, yet do not deny it. (borrowed from Sam Abell). What does this mean?

Consider the photo below of the sea stacks off First Beach on the Olympic Peninsula. It’s a straightforward photograph of a landscape, yet, it is suggestive of the eternal. The sea, the fog, a voyage to an unknown land, all evoke timeless existence, timeless desire. So, yes, it is a photograph of a seascape, but it communicates more because we, as humans, are wired in our DNA to look at the ocean with a sense of wonder. Where does the wonder come from? From a time when anything apart from the land was unknown, mysterious and dangerous? Perhaps from a time when a journey across the water meant freedom or opportunity…even servitude. Certainly it meant danger, but an ocean voyage could mean riches and fame as well.

James Island and sea stack, Olympic Peninsula

James Island and sea stack, Olympic Peninsula

Consider the image below….far different than the peaceful contemplative issue of the sea.  But look deeper…there is solitude, and the image of a single candle to light the darkness. The eternal flame. It is a simple image of an interior, even a detail of an interior, but it is evocative of consciousness, thought, searching, and for me, hope.

Convento dos Capuchos, interior

Convento dos Capuchos, interior

For thought and discussion far more cogent than mine, check out the video. It’s part one of six on Paul Strand. It’s worth the time to hear the great master in his own words. And the catalog/book from the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s show Stieglitz Steichen Strand is a revelation.

The book that was published for the exhibition of masterworks by the photographers at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The book that was published for the exhibition of masterworks by the photographers at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Here’s a review of the show. Sadly, I missed it, but now I have the catalog to bring the imagery even closer. http://www.photography-collection.com/exhibitions/alfred-stieglitz-edward-steichen-and-paul-strand-at-the-metropolitan-museum/

05
Sep
13

great interviews: Sam Abell and David Alan Harvey

Click on this link for a great interview with my friend and mentor, Sam Abell.  And here’s another: Story Matters. Thank you to Jonathan Blaustein and Story Matters for the interviews. And thank you to Honey Lazar (click this link to see her amazing project, Loving Aunt Ruth, along with a stunning body of work) for bringing the first to my attention.

I continue to be inspired and stunned by the creativity and quality of photography being produced around the globe. This week I came across a great Street Photography site (on Facebook) that has me itching to shoot in Lisbon. My biggest question is how do I fit it in to an already overloaded schedule? I struggle with this each day while remaining grateful for all the opportunities that stretch out before me.

Enjoy these links…I’ll be back in a few days with a discussion about a portrait series….stay tuned…and go make some photographs!

Oh! one last one: David Alan Harvey interview in Vice. Here’s the link to David’s burn. online magazine.

new work from Sam Abell

new work from Sam Abell

 

an old favorite

an old favorite

 

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Filipe Correia, Portugal, from Streetview

David Alan Harvey from Visura Magazine

One of my favorites from Honey Lazar's Loving Aunt Ruth project.

One of my favorites from Honey Lazar’s Loving Aunt Ruth project.

 

25
Aug
13

Robert Frank’s French First Edition ‘Les Americains’!!!!

It’s not often that I get to touch an important piece of Photographic History.  But two weeks ago, during the Sam Abell workshop with the Pacific Northwest Arts School I did just that. We took our class to Port Townsend for an excursion and Sam spied in the case of a bookstore a hand-lettered sign that said they had the Robert Frank French Edition of The Americans (Les Americains).

In the eyes of many photographers, this book IS the Holy Grail of photography, even more so than Henri Cartier-Bresson’s The Decisive Moment.  Paul Stafford, gentleman proprietor of William James Books, offered to show us the copy (as we had met him on a previous trip and he knew that Sam had a serious interest in the title).

We threaded our way through tall stacks and shelves to reach the back of the store. After four locked doors on various levels, steps in between, we arrived at the sanctum sanctorum.  Paul placed the bubble wrapped package on a table and invited us to open the book. But first we had to get over the cover! A Saul Steinberg drawing??? This is a photography book….what’s happening? And then to open the book and discover so much narrative, in French? There is so little in the English edition that came later. But the images? The same photographic erudition, the same searching, frank observations, the same humanity. Indeed the images are mostly the same as in the later English edition.

It was a thrilling moment for me in several ways. I was there with my mentor, Sam Abell, who has his own richly deserved spot in photographic history, and I was seeing this book in its original state, its first incarnation…and in near pristine condition. As a book lover, this is a high-water mark for me! But then I had the opportunity to return with my other beloved mentor, Arthur Meyerson, during our class that took place just last week.

Again, Paul Stafford was tremendously kind and offered to show Arthur the copy immediately. I think Arthur was even a little nervous to be handling it! To my great joy, I photographed Arthur with Paul, and listened, as I had with Sam, to him recount why this book was so important to him.  Personally, there were favorite images for Sam and Arthur…different images for different reasons. But they were also generous in their discussions with Paul about why the book was so revered and how much it influenced the world of photography after its publication.

Never before had people thought to make a lunch counter a photographic subject, or a funeral for a black man, or an afternoon picnic in a park with cars, blankets and young people making out. It wasn’t ‘done’ to photograph a black nanny with her white child. He broke the taboos and barriers, and expanded the consciousness for what could be considered art in photography. The tension, nuance, and cultural sensitivity that exists in his photographs was a clear contrast to what other contemporary photographers were doing. Low light, unusual focus, and cropping were all in contravention to the accepted photographic technique of the time. But the work produced a reflection of life in America in the 1950’s…not the world of Ward and June Cleaver, but the world of factory workers, transvestites, and segregation.

The art world was slow to embrace the imagery, even reviled it, but young people saw the worth of it…as did other street photographers. It energized the medium and changed it forever. Few works of art in any medium have had that effect. The Americans did.

There are far more sophisticated reviews of his work available than what I can offer. Here is one, a link to a story by National Public Radio. It’s worth the time! http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=100688154

Once again I must thank my dear friends and teachers, Sam Abell and Arthur Meyerson, for lighting my photographic world and path. We do have the best times together and I know there will be many more.

09
Jun
13

a Lensbaby walkabout, Obidos!

In preparation for my upcoming class (July…Pacific Northwest Arts School), I popped my lensbaby on and had a great walkabout. My intent was to create images of intimate subjects as well as medium and wide landscape shots. It was great fun with a non-focused focus.  Ha.

All the photographs were made in Obidos, Portugal. Obidos is a lovely village near the coast, about an hour and a half north of Lisbon. It was probably settled hundreds of years before the Romans occupied the area. The walls of the fortress/village went up around 700 A.D., and were strengthened under King Dinis I. In July the whole town turns into a medieval festival.  I was glad to be there on a quieter day. The best part? Walking and creating with two dear friends visiting me in Portugal! Thank you, Riley and Karen!

Browse the images in the slideshow mode. I’ve added some of the thoughts I had while making the images. As always, comments most welcome.

And a reminder…there is still space left in Arthur Meyerson’s second week….and Robert Stahl has space in his September workshop. You couldn’t go wrong with either of these gifted, caring teachers. I have the great pleasure to be assisting Sam Abell and Arthur Meyerson again in August. A special thanks to Lisa and Karen for the fantastic program they have developed at PNWAS!!!

07
Apr
13

gallery show!

I have had a great experience this week! I’ve been preparing for and then attended my show at The Bridge Gallery in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. As with any big endeavor there are usually a number of people involved. I have much to be thankful for and I’ll begin with Mark Muse.  As I am just returning from a fabulous six weeks in Portugal, I asked Mark to help me by making the prints. He is an extraordinary photographer and a masterful printer. See the images below for how he was able to make my photographs sing! Then go and check out his work for a master class in restraint and subtlety!  Kathryn Burns, gallerist and proprietor of The Bridge Gallery was sensitive, patient and encouraging the entire time. Kathryn, THANK YOU for making a dream come true.

Having a show at The Bridge Gallery was a ‘big deal’ to me as I have attended numerous shows there for artists I revere and who have inspired me for many years. Jim Kline, Michael Davis, Mark Muse, Tico Herrara, Hali Taylor, Frank Robbins, Rip Smith, Benita Keller, and Charlie Shobe are just a few of the names that come to mind. I’ve had wonderful teachers and artists to emulate for a very long time. This community has given much to its artists and art-lovers and they turned out again in force last night! Hundreds of folks enjoyed the show on a perfect spring evening, which was great as many had to wait outside before there was space to come in.

The best thing for me about the show? Listening to people describe their reaction to the work and the thoughts and feelings it evoked. I’ve often said that when I make a successful photograph I am blessed three times. First, the experience of seeing it creates a thrill. Second, the confirmation that the image is good (technically) aside from the emotion of making it, gives a feeling of satisfaction and affirmation. Third, when a photograph elicits a response from a viewer (and I am lucky enough to know about it) the understanding and communication that arises is a very special moment for me. Humbly, I had many of those moments last night. The joy I am feeling will keep me going, keep me seeking refined and subtle imagery for a very long time. Thank you to all of the people that took a moment to speak and share with me last night.

The show is up until May 5th. I hope you’ll stop by if you are in the area. And as an extra special treat, you’ll see the lovely work of Isabelle Truchon! Her oils and assemblages are uplifting and engaging.

Here are some wall images from The Bridge Gallery. Thanks for checking the blog! I know it’s been far too long between posts.

Keron

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10
Jan
13

playing a bit

Life must be lived as play. ~ Plato

Every once in a while I enjoy looking back at images in the archive. I thought it would be fun to play with Flypaper Textures on some old favorites. I think it’s useful to examine old images from an emotional distance. I often tell students that the best time to edit is at least a month from the time you made the images. Yes, we all have to look at them as soon as possible…but don’t throw them away for at least a month or more. When the emotional energy/heat has faded we can begin to see our images much more objectively. It doesn’t matter how far we had to climb or how long we had to wait or what light we had to battle…the image must stand on its own merit.

That may sound strange coming from me in a post about texturing and layers. After all, it is image manipulation. But here’s the caveat: a bad image will not make a great textured image. Start with a good photograph and then enhance the image in a way that amplifies a concept you are trying to communicate. When I am photographing I am always thinking about communicating what intrigued me, what made me care enough to stop and create images. Then, if the image can be enhanced with textures or layers, then I think about those qualities again. Perhaps I felt a somber mood or a mysterious brooding atmosphere. Maybe I just felt the image was going to be painterly and planned right then to add textures. Its likely that if that was the case, I photographed in order to support that intention.

Here are some old favorites re-invisioned. I’d love to hear your thoughts! Leave a comment if you want to learn more about using textures and layers. Have fun with your images (and CLICK MY BUTTON….over there on the right…for Flypaper Textures)!

23
Nov
12

essence

Readers of this blog will know that my favorite quote is from Antoine de St. Exupery:  “What is essential is invisible to the eye; one must see with the heart.”

While visiting the home of Ana Batista and Orlando Vicente in Portugal, this feeling, this belief was vibrating in me while I watched the horses work.

The epicenter of the Lusitano culture is the Ribatejo in Portugal. We were in the heart of it, watching and participating in the most important aspect of this culture. Working with bulls over hundreds and hundreds of years guided the breeders to create horses of amazing functionality, and brilliant, courageous…. but calm temperaments. We saw all of these attributes in action, along with the finesse and ability of their riders! This was the soul of the Ribatejo.  500 years of diligence, respect for the essence of the horse, and clarity of vision has created spectacularly bred horses. They enjoy what they are doing and perform with elegance and spirit.

As the light faded I had to shift my tactics for shooting. Slowing the shutter and feeling the movement was exactly what was needed. Though I was photographing, not riding, I did feel part of the moment, not just an observer. It was sublime.

The results? Of course it is entirely subjective, but I am pleased. Pleased because the images bring the feeling, the experience, right back to me.  I hope I’ve communicated a little of it to you, my reader. Thanks for stopping by. And if you REALLY love the images, come with me on the next trip in Portugal. Zip me an email and I’ll send you an amazing itinerary. Lastly, for my photo friends, these images were created with a slow shutter, panning, and a FLYPAPER TEXTURES layer or two in Photoshop using mostly the overlay blending mode. It’s fun, creative, and super simple. Push my button….just over there on the right side of the panel….and you can see all the fabulous things that Jill and Paul are doing over at Flypaper.

22
Nov
12

Thanksgiving

I have been too long away from my blog and as the days and weeks passed, returning to it seemed an enormous challenge. But today is the day! I try to be mindful of the spirit of gratitude every day, but in browsing the photos that I wanted to share I was strongly reminded of the gratitude I feel for the earth we inhabit. It is full of wonders. They are just waiting to be noticed and appreciated. I think all living organisms share this trait. Often the touch of mankind disturbs this beauty, but if we are gentle, we can exist in harmony within the landscape and exhalation of our earth. So today I will inhale the beauty and strength that we are offered and exhale gratitude.

For my photographer buddies, most of these images were taken with an AWESOME Zeiss Distagon 2.8 21mm hunk of glass.  I am still coming to grips with it, but I’m loving the challenge. Thank you, Mark Muse (Super talented photog and total gear geek) for showing me the beauty of this lens.

18
Jul
12

Lots of news this week for Meditation for Two and my photographs! I’m thrilled and very grateful for a super publisher!

Trafalgar Square Books Blog

Tribuna Equestre is an online television channel dedicated to all things equestrian in South America. The “Masters Series” features prominent riding masters, including Dominique Barbier, who co-authored MEDITATION FOR TWO with photographer and writer Keron Psillas. The episode featuring Dominique Barbier was filmed in Cotia, near Sao Paulo, Brazil. You can see the introductory interview with Dominique, where he discusses his passion for keeping equestrian art alive and promoting nonviolent methods of training dressage horses throughout the world, as well as his book MEDITATION FOR TWO, in the video clip below (the interview begins about two minutes in and is subtitled).

Keron was so generous as to share some of the wonderful photos she captured during their day filming the episode. “We always have fun playing in the shadows at the end of the day!” she says. Watch for Keron’s article on revered dressage master Luis Valenca in the…

View original post 43 more words

05
Jul
12

Vision and Verb!

I’m tickled pink!!!  I’m the guest blogger today on Vision and Verb…..a blog by a great group of female writers and photographers.  I hope you’ll click on the link and check it out! The topic is an important one for me and one that will resonate with most photographers.  I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments. Thank you!

http://www.visionandverb.com/at-home/2012/7/5/creating-awareness.html

 

30
Jun
12

Light

From within or from behind, a light shines through us upon things, and makes us aware that we are nothing, but the light is all.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

I found this after posting all the other images. As it turns out, it is my favorite. Thank you to Martina Brandes, as this is her horse, Bomilcar Interagro…and of course to Cecilia Gonzaga at Interagro Lusitanos. It is such a pleasure to visit and a great honor to photograph the horses!

06
Mar
12

Simple Gifts

‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free…’  Elder Joseph, Shaker Community

I made a new friend Sunday. He is sweet, sensitive, curious, kind, genuine, handsome, intelligent, gentle, angelic. We had a conversation that lasted for hours with neither of us able to move away. We talked about adventure, friends, animals (his favorite is the horse), racing, work, making new friends, imagination…..an entire galaxy of topics in this relatively short time.

Ten days ago, I had to fly overnight to Frankfurt, Germany, and then photograph the entire next day and night without rest, little food, and all the while feeling not quite up to the challenge. This was an important job for me and one that I wanted to create the absolute best images I could for a variety of personal and professional reasons. When I walked into the Festhalle in Frankfurt I was immediately concerned about my ability to do so as the space was so dark and cavernous. I don’t shoot with flash, and it would have been forbidden in this instance as my subject was horses. I was photographing the performances of Apassionata and the team that Mestre Luis Valença will be sending to the United States. The show debuts in Lexington, Kentucky, in late April.

I was prepared, had all the appropriate equipment, but I knew that if the technical challenge of such low light could not be overcome then even the most compelling image would be useless if it could not be used for print or projection. So I cranked up the ISO (1600 and 2000….EEK!!!) and set about the work. I resist chimping the screen in most instances, and with the action so fast and furious I would have lost the moments had I been looking at the back of my camera.

So about half way into the first half of the show I let myself relax and enjoy the actual performance. I noticed that I began to have a natural smile on my face rather than a conscious one….and I could feel some of the tension leaving my body as well. I decided to dial the ISO down…and choose moments to shoot rather than chasing every shot, every gesture. I was laughing out loud during the comedy parts, and floating into the romance and magic of the story. I was enjoying myself and allowing my curiosity to push aside the doubt and concern.

Back to my new friend: In all likelihood I will never see him again, but the impact of this meeting was so strong that it has caused me to write this blog post, and more importantly, to re-examine the swirl of my present life. Alexander, in the short time I shared with him on a cross-country flight, crystalised the lesson I had offered to me last week. His insistence about combining the world of imagination with the world we have built and others have built around us showed me that it is possible to remain a creative being, uninhibited by daily circumstance or momentary challenge. His self-discovery in the midst of self-creation was powerful to watch and reminded me that its okay, even better to PLAY while working. His example reminded me to drop the fear (the real word behind concern, worry, and insecurity) and rest in the knowledge that my intention will create a way.

Our teachers are all around us. Open your eyes and see with your heart. Thank you, Alex, for the simple gift of your spirit and kindness. You are so wise and wonderful. I hope your fourth birthday brings you all you can imagine.

15
Dec
11

the importance of a message

I had such a wonderful surprise yesterday when I opened an email message from my publisher. She wrote to tell me about a great review in an important online journal for my book, Meditation For Two.  Happy as I was to read such nice comments, I realized that this was much more than a book review.

The words written by Cindy Foley were an affirmation on so many levels. First, people are searching for a deeper, more meaningful relationship with their horses. Dominique eloquently speaks to this throughout the book, and in the life he has led for the last forty years. Second, the power of the written word to reach people is magnified when you hold a book in your hands and immerse yourself in it. And third, the photographic image, when made with love and layered thoughtfully into an essay, can facilitate and amplify the connection. In Dominique’s words, it can “…create a greater molecular change”.

Cindy “got it”. I am grateful that an even greater number of readers will have the opportunity to experience the transformative nature of the book because of her generous review.  The most important thing about the book is its message; not the photographs, or design, though I am happy to have created them; not the number of books sold (though greater numbers would be super).

From the review: “The photos are misty, blurred…chosen because they speak without the need for a caption. They’re soulful, matching the words.”

If you are a photographer, consider your message. Work to find ways to incorporate your images with thought-provoking texts. I’m happy that Cindy understood why my photographs lacked captions in the book. I work hard to create images that speak by themselves or rest easily but meaningfully alongside a considered text. I believe it has made me a better photographer.

Thank you for finding and reading the blog.  Click HERE to see the entire review on Horse Journal.  You can order Meditation For Two directly from me by clicking HERE.

One last ‘message’…..my life works because I am surrounded by loving, kind people on every side. I have to take a moment and say thank you to Debra, Lisa, Chaya, and Alea for taking such wonderful care of my horse. Fol Amour is 29 now but thinks he is 5, still a stallion (and knows it), but has a good life because he is worked and cared for daily. I am on and off planes and zipping across continents, but my heart is at ease because I know he’s right where he should be. Here’s a picture of Chaya with her boy, Winston, taken just yesterday at Barbier Farms in Healdsburg, California.  Thank you, Chaya!

24
Nov
11

“He does not weep who does not see”

I made my journey to Auschwitz and Birkenau knowing fully that it would be sorrowful and perhaps impossible to photograph through tears and stunned disbelief. All these emotions swirled through me and rendered my whole being mute. Not just my voice, my entire being. I couldn’t formulate a thought, much less express one; verbally or photographically. Then, I raised my camera as I was stumbling along, stopped to make a photograph, and began to come back to myself. Gradually, I understood that this act of creation was more than an act of self-preservation, it was a way to look deeper. With this intent, the overwhelming sorrow lessened just enough for me to regain some composure and begin to walk purposefully, to see, purposefully.

The lasting impressions from both Terezin and Auschwitz/Birkenau are of silence and permeating cold. I created the photos below with this awareness.  In the photographs I’ve chosen for this post, as an idea to portray a silent conversation, I have blended images from Terezin with images from Auschwitz/Birkenau. Most of the people that were sent from Terezin on the dreaded transports perished in Birkenau.

I hope my viewers will keep this in mind: the photos are an artistic expression of what I saw and felt. They are not indictments, religious commentary or judgement. My intent is to simply reflect my personal experience in a place that has infinite layers of horror, grief, loss, and teaching. My intent is not to create offense or add sorrow. If you are troubled by the imagery, write to me. I want to hear your thoughts.

I’ll close with a quote from Longfellow: “Therefore trust to thy heart, and to what the world calls illusions.” As all the places I visited retain only the faintest trace of the living, I had to rely on a deeper sensibility to gain a small foothold in the incalculable darkness. I hope that the images I offer will resonate with you. It is simply my heart speaking.

20
Nov
11

Terezîn, Czech Republic

You may recall that Terezîn was formerly called Theresienstadt, under Nazi rule during World War II.  It is/was a garrison town built in the 1780’s as a fortress by the Hapsburg rulers. You can read more about it by clicking this link. My interest in Terezin is multi-layered and even a bit complicated. But over all of it lies this sense of amazement for the life that the residents of Terezin ghetto created for themselves during this descent into Hell.

From the first days, the residents, in the form of the Jewish Council of Elders, decided that to survive this experience, the children must be educated and the community as a whole must have access and participation in the ARTS. Performances of original plays, musical recitals, Verdi’s Requiem, and the renowned children’s opera “Brundibar”, took place in Terezin regularly. The education of the children, though forbidden, went on nearly without stopping. Thanks to incredible teachers and instructors, children produced art works and magazines for the entire community. These activities, along with their involvement in “Brundibar” would be, what one survivor described, “the last source of great joy in their lives.” (Jiri Kotouc, Home L 417).

I am working on a project that came from my need to understand the human capacity for such darkness in the face of joy, love, and humanity. It is proving to be more difficult than I imagined. But I’ve decided to put up a few photos from my days in Terezin, just to communicate a little of the solitude and sadness that still lives here. Terezin is unique in all of Europe in that people inhabit, today, the very same structures that housed Jews, Danes, Poles, Czechs and others, the vast majority of whom perished in the Holocaust. More than 10,000 children lived in Terezin, fewer than 200 survived.

I want to photograph the people of Terezin today, against the backdrop of all this history. It’s not easy. I haven’t been successful yet. But I will keep trying.

If you have any interest in this story, I urge you to read The Girls of Room 28, by Hannelore Brenner. You will be saddened, uplifted, and probably left with the same questions that have haunted me for a number of years. But I predict that you will have a deeper understanding of the importance of art and education in all our lives.

More than anything, the children longed for the open spaces of their villages and towns. I spent a day driving all over the countryside, when fog hung in the air and hoarfrost coated every surface. I wanted to get to know the countryside a little better.  The damp and cold, coupled with the moody lighting and absolute stillness was to me totally appropriate.  It turns out that I don’t know how to portray sadness and sorrow…. a sadness and sorrow so deep that it threatened to engulf an entire people. In the end I could only photograph what I saw and what I felt.

This week marks the 70th anniversary of the very first transport to Terezin of Jews from points all over what was Czechoslovakia. It is just a small footnote in a large history. But it is not forgotten.

I’ll close with the words of someone far more articulate than I, Rabbi David Cooper:

“…what happens when the suffering is too great? When it engulfs and extinguishes people and hope? I don’t think we have learned a thing collectively. Is it enough that individuals have? It must be ~ and therefore, every heart, every light DOES matter. This alone gives me hope.”

17
Oct
11

Vineyard Harvest, stretching creatively

Which do you prefer? Black & White or Color? Why? This is an ongoing discussion among photographers of all levels and the best answer I have ever heard is this: Which would you hang on your wall and live with every day? There are a few color photographs that I could live with day in and day out, but there are many black and white images that I’d be happy to see each day. Why? I think there is an intimacy and quiet that exudes from a good black and white photograph that allows the viewer to rest in the image. It invites you to stay for a while not by blaring color and clamoring for your attention, but by its essence and structure, dignity even. Good color photographs have all these qualities of course. But what makes the difference?

I am a firm believer in color photography as fine art (I’m not a black & white elitist), and I most often choose to work in color.  So as an exercise I developed these images in both to see if there was a clear favorite. The processing is very different, but retaining the qualities of luminosity and subtlety were my guides for both. I’d be delighted to have you join the conversation.

I am also trying to expand my abilities by choosing to photograph people. I don’t often do this unless there happens to be a rider on a horse. As I am leaving for the Czech Republic in November to continue my work on a personal project I thought it would be a good idea to spend the next couple of weeks photographing as many people as possible.  I am nervous about this self-assignment, but determined to master the fear and settle in to make the best images I can. I’ll process those images in color and black and white. It will be interesting to see which has the most impact….but quiet impact with, I hope, a timeless message.

 

 

15
Oct
11

“…the rhythm comes back” ~ Bruce Davidson

The Widow of Montmarte, Mme Fauche ©Bruce Davidson/Magnum Photos

Wow. Sometimes the synchronicity of existence stuns me. This morning I was reading my favorite photography blog (Lens, NYTimes) and the words of Bruce Davidson jumped off the page. While speaking of making a group of photographs nearly forty years ago, he said  “What’s great about looking at your work is the emotion comes back. The emotion comes back. The rhythm of what you were photographing comes back. It’s almost like a musical score.”

I had just come in from photographing the actual harvest of the grapes and was considering an edit to yesterday’s post on rhythm. Before I jumped into the edit I decided to stop and breathe a bit and open up the NYTimes Lens blog. There it was, my thought and emotion, my INTENT reflected in Mr. Davidson’s words. To celebrate the publishing of his retrospective, (“Outside Inside,” a three-volume, boxed set — published by the master printer Gerhard Steidl.) James Estrin and Josh Haner conducted this deeply thoughtful interview at Mr. Davidson’s home.

There is no way I could/would ever compare my work to Bruce Davidson’s, but I recognize the similarity in how we work and how we feel about what we do. This is incredibly affirming to me. I’ve always been grateful for the artistry and humanity of his work, now I feel just a little closer to it. Thank you, Bruce Davidson, for the images, your humility, and your thought.

Click here to read the entire interview and see a bit of his stunning imagery. http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/06/28/showcase-177/ It is a bounteous harvest.

Outside Inside, ©Bruce Davidson, 2011

27
Aug
11

A few more thoughts about Sam Abell’s workshop

If we are lucky, we get to experience an event that stays with us and molds us for the rest of our lives. I have had many blessings of this nature, but this last week reminded me of the importance of that initial experience.

In the late fall of 2005, I had the good fortune to take a workshop with Sam Abell on the mid-coast of Maine. The first night of the class offered us the opportunity to hear a lecture by Sam titled “The Photographic Life”. Sam’s sonorous story-telling style had the audience rapt, but I was struck by the deep humanity in the images as well as the personal stories of a life well-lived. Since that week I have worked hard to embody Sam’s advice of making the best picture in any situation and I have been helped by the voice that I hear while composing. It comes in from over my right shoulder and says things like this: check your edges; are the elements separated?; do they exist in their own world?; is it involving?; are there layers in the image?; setting, expression, gesture.

I’ve been assisting Sam in classes and with lectures for more than five years now. This past week I encouraged a number of good friends from all over the country to come to Whidbey Island for at least the lecture, if not the entire class. A number of (very intelligent) people took me up on the invitation. I heard from them the exact remarks that I made six years ago: It was wonderful; The sensitivity and depth of emotion in the images and the stories is deeply moving; it gives us a totally new way to see images and to think about our own photography.

Thankfully there are many wonderful teachers and mentors in the world. I’ve had several in different areas of my life. I suppose what I want to say with this blog post is this: Find a mentor or teacher whose vision and life you respect and emulate them. Make your own path, but hold on to the tenets they have lived by and see where it will lead you. The photographic life is just one life among millions of choices, but as Sam said, “it is the right life for me”. Building layers of depth and breadth in my life as well as my photographs has brought me to a place of deep appreciation and offered many moments of joy.

This state of being is open to us all but if you want to ignite a fire, take a Sam Abell course or at least experience a lecture he’s offering. Next up: Sam will be appearing at the INVision Photo Festival in Bethlehem, PA ( http://www.artsquest.org/invision/ ) Prior to that he is teaching at the Santa Fe Workshops in early October. Maybe I’ll see you there.

Here’s a gallery of images I’ve made over the years on Whidbey Island and around Seattle. I vow each year during the class to spend more time photographing…this time I made it happen.  You can too.

23
Aug
11

Sam Abell Interview

First Drafts: How Sam Abell Makes a Photograph, Alex Hoyt and Ross McDermott

I’m busy finishing the book layout that was created in our week-long workshop at the Pacific Northwest Art School in Coupeville, Washington.  The layered life on Whidbey Island, as it is everywhere, became the backdrop for Sam to teach his method of photography, one of layers, of “compose and wait” and one of still life scenes that have a life or incorporate life. This interview encapsulates that teaching in a marvelous 10 minutes of a deeply considered philosophy and lifelong process of making photographs. Take the time to view it and you’ll have the outline of  our workshop and a sense of the meticulous care that Sam takes to create Life in a Still Life.

Next post:more thoughts and favorites images from Coupeville over the years of (gratefully) assisting Sam.

06
Jun
11

more fun with flypaper textures!

I stole a few moments today from a mountain of tasks to create a few textured images. Of course I used my favorite Fly Paper Textures (Hint….click the button!) and here are the results. I used some favorite textures from the original three….and a new one from their just released Spring Painterly collection.  I’ll work a few more in the coming days, then it’s off to Portugal and Spain. I hope you enjoy them. Oh….I need your opinions, please: Slideshow or Gallery format?

 

 

30
May
11

Magic and artistry

The best feeling in the world for me is one of vibration and excitement when experiencing authentic artistry. This trip has been filled with those moments. Equestrian artistry was certainly the theme for the trip but today I had the pleasure to visit two lovely women that work in oils and fiber. They create the most exquisite works of art I’ve seen in a long time. I’ll do a separate blog about this tomorrow, but here are some images from the last two weeks….and a few from today. I hope you enjoy them and can feel a little of the joy I’ve experienced.

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16
Mar
11

Compassion = Understanding?

Magnum photographer Eve Arnold from her book Retrospect: “If the photographer is interested in the people in front of his lens, and if he is compassionate, it’s already a lot. The instrument is not the camera but the photographer.”

For a very long time I have wanted to photograph elements of our existence on earth that are troubling, unsettling, even tragic.  There are many reasons to do this that probably only make sense to myself.  I expect to learn a great deal more about my own motivations as the work progresses. I made a beginning last October with my trip to Eastern Europe. I’m taking another step now even as I develop a deeper project for the work in the Czech Republic.  To say that it’s a departure from the equine photography is an understatement, but there is a uniting theme: I am interested in what is happening in front of my lens.

The suffering happening in Japan is mirrored in so many countries today. While the story is unfolding there and creating fear and apprehension for millions around the world, it offers us the chance to check-in with stories in other places…places that have experienced continual suffering and loss. Haiti is just one place on our planet that fits that description.  With Grace and good fortune I’ll be going there in June to help several families and to photograph the stories I find. I’ll begin my self-assignment now and learn as much as I can about the history of the land, the literature, music, and culture of a people whose history stretches far across a divide hewn by violence and fear.  Often this violence came at the hands of “Men of God”. And yet, blessings and goodness have also been offered from other good men. And there is one of the least understood aspects of the human personality: the capacity for unspeakable evil matched with the ability to offer Grace and compassion in its presence.  I offer the photograph today not in judgement or evangelical spirit. I offer it for us to consider and understand the burden and connotation that human beings attach to a symbol.  As potent a symbol as has ever been created, the Christian Cross has the power to divide, to call out, to separate, to OTHER~ more than any other banner, flag, or nation’s symbol. I understand our need to “tribe” ourselves, perhaps these days, more accurately BRAND ourselves. But must it be blindly? Always? Yes, I’m painting with a broad brush. I know that.

This photograph is as powerful for me as any other I’ve ever made. It makes me think. It stopped me in my tracks when I saw it ~ as it seemed totally out of place in the Small Fortress at Terézin.  And when I made time to work on it I knew I wanted to emphasize the qualities I saw in it.  I won’t describe those as I don’t want to prejudice your seeing of it. I’m interested in what you think.  Your point of view matters to me.

15
Mar
11

Middleton Place, a national treasure

It’s been a very busy time, and one marked by illness as well, so the blog has been neglected. Sorely. Here are images from a working trip to Florida, with a stop at one of my favorite gardens in South Carolina: Middleton Place. Prior to leaving West Virginia (it was a road trip) I checked the weather and the forecast promised fog!  Driving in to Walterboro near midnight I encountered HEAVY fog.  I was so excited I could barely sleep. But I was up at five the next morning for the drive on in to Middleton Place and a few happy hours of shooting ensued.  If you are interested in history, in gardening history, or simply enjoy tranquility and a gentle, restful landscape (though with a hint of Southern moss-draped mystery), I urge you to visit this jewel in the Carolina low country. http://www.middletonplace.org/ All but the last of the photographs below made with the kind permission of Middleton Place.

Of course the fog and atmosphere had me thinking about layers and textures. Some of the images I prefer ‘straight’, while others I enjoyed layering with my favorite Fly Paper Textures. What stays with me though is the experience of having been there and walked in the vague, vaporous layers of history, place, and moment.

The last photograph is a challenge.  Which of my readers can identify the scene in the last image?  Thousands of people have seen it in photographic form, hundreds certainly have studied it.  I just happened upon it on a Sunday morning when some strange otherworldly force twisted my head hard to the left and BAM! So here’s the hint: I jumped out of the car to make the image but had no time to wait.

29
Jan
11

“We see things not as they are. We see things as we are.” — Anais Nin

I am often thinking about this premise. Whether it’s a question of a family dynamic, a discussion with a collaborator, or simply reading a news item, I find myself wondering what filter I am placing on a discussion or opinion.  But lately, photographically, I’ve been working at seeing things NOT as they are.  I want to see what they could be.  I want to visualize how an image could evolve. I want to be able to see the geometrics and dimensionality of a scene and take that and layer upon it a different reality.  This is what I perceive could happen if I were a painter.  I am not a painter, but I am really enjoying the ability to use a different technology to effect a painterly image. By creating something that was suggested by a three dimensional scene and translating that into a purely personal vision, I think I am truly photographing, and seeing, as I am.

Here is my workflow for an image I made on Wednesday evening at the height of  a snowstorm:

The atmospherics of the scene are important in this image. The white vertical lines are not blown out highlights, it is snow plastered on the northwest side of the tree trunk. The image was fully focused, but the foggy nature is the blizzard effect of the heavy snowfall. I made the photograph about 5 pm with just enough light left to reveal the light and dark patterning. Image capture  with swipe technique as a raw file (1DS Mk3, 24-70 2.8L, f22, 1 second exposure, ISO 160, 1.5+ stops exposure compensation (usually needed when photographing snow), then into Lightroom 3 to adjust exposure ( a touch lighter, with a bit of added contrast from default 25% to 31%), then crop to panoramic.  The top was cropped out as the bottom of the photo is most important to me.  I was keenly aware of the far right grouping while photographing, to be sure the transition from the tree trunks into the ground was smooth, and to be certain I had separation between all the tree trunks as they dance along the back layer of the photo.

Choose Edit photo in photoshop from Lightroom (Edit a copy) to add layers of texture.  I chose two textures from FlyPaper Textures to add dreaminess and a hint of color to a black and white scene.

What you see above is the original file, out of Lightroom, cropped.  Next I opened the two Flypaper Textures, Serafina Sky and Europium from Lightroom (Edit a copy in Photoshop).

 

When I opened Serafina Sky I needed to rotate the image 180 degrees, so the clouds would be in the top of my image.  I was after a mistier look than what was in the original capture. Further, I wanted the slight blue-ish tone to add a bit of dreaminess to the straight black and white capture.  So I put the image on top of the original as a separate layer in Photoshop CS4. I changed the blending mode to Overlay and dialed the opacity back to suit me.  Then I added Europium in the same manner (separate layer, blending mode on overlay, then dial in the opacity to suit). With the Europium layer I was looking for a bit of the vignette effect and the added textures.

You will notice that the textures are SQUARE images and my image is a panoramic format.  When you lay your texture over your image, choose EDIT>Transform>Scale and drag your sides to conform to the shape of your image.  When you are satisfied (and you can move it around in the image with the move tool too) you hit the checkmark to okay the transformation and then go to your layer and work with your blending mode and opacity.

 

 

The image above is the initial image with Serafina Sky overlaid.  I pulled the opacity back to 53% and then I used an HSL layer to take the cyan to a more purple-y blue. Just slightly.  The key with each of these decisions is subtlety.  Then, to add the mistier look  (image below) I overlaid the Europium layer.  I pulled the opacity to 74%. The Europium texture is one of my favorites for adding slight vignetting and mystery.  It interacts with colors nicely and adds a touch of color in neutral images.  This is my final image.

As I mentioned above, I believe that subtlety is the key in working with this type of processing. I want the viewer to become involved with the photograph, not to say “WOW…that’s intense processing”.  I’d like my photographs to reveal a little about me, or even deepen the mystery.  As always, comments welcome and deeply appreciated.  For now, the forecast is for more snow on Tuesday.  Can’t wait!  And once again, my gratitude to Freeman Patterson and Tony Sweet for the inspiration, for lighting the path and to Fly Paper Textures for such a great product. They are tops to deal with and generous with their expertise.

 

 

25
Nov
10

Gratitude

This is a quick post….with more to come tonight.  The link I’m sharing is all about gratitude and synchronicity.  I was thinking of all the wonderful teaching that I have had over the last five years and how to express my thoughts about it when I clicked on my favorite blog and found a photo that has meant more to me than almost any other.  It’s from my teacher, Sam Abell, and was taken during his first formal assignment for National Geographic. So my blog post is about another blog post, written by another grateful photographer from a cast of many thousands.  Enjoy.

http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/11/24/close-your-eyes-and-see-with-your-heart/

27
Sep
10

Thinking of layers

“We see things not as they are. We see things as we are.” — Anais Nin

This quote mirrors my thought that “we photograph as we are”.  As I am preparing to depart for a long trip through Eastern Europe, I am thinking about who I am and how that will manifest in my photographs. Because of my long interest in the history of World War II and the resulting human and cultural destruction, I will be visiting a number of areas that were filled with violence and hate.  This energy is the opposite of what I try to photograph.  So who will I be, and what photographs will I make in these locations?  The short answer:  I don’t know.  The deeper thought: I suspect that I will excavate a few layers in my seeing and in my soul.

In preparation for the trip, I’ve been doing some housecleaning of my files.  I came across two images from last fall….images I failed to appreciate at the time so they were marked for deletion. Looking at them now I find that I am enjoying the motion and the layers in the images.  The concept is not new, but I like the way the abstract nature brings forward the structure that underlies the scene.  In the second image I can sense a bit of the style of the brushwork in Cezanne’s series from Mont Sainte Victoire. Recognizing this prompted me to look again at an image of a reflection from later in that same fall. In the reflected image I had immediately recognized the resemblance….why hadn’t I seen it in the earlier images?

My thought is that we see things differently as we grow, age, change, mature….or perhaps, excavate layers.  I’m looking forward to fall as it is my favorite season.  This fall promises to be memorable.  The quote that opened the blog post has especially poignant meaning when viewed through the lens of history, especially the history of human conflict and war. I hope you’ll check the blog for images and the archaeology of my trip.

25
Sep
10

Photographers and philosophers…follow this link

http://powelltribune.com/index.php/content/view/3700/58/

Clicking on the link above will take you to an article written about Sam Abell in the Powell Tribune.  It’s worth the time to read the entire article.  I promise.

18
Sep
10

Way out West, fraternity and collaboration

“The greatness of a craft consists firstly in how it brings comradeship to men.” ~Antoine de St. Exupery

The last 30 days have been a whirlwind of teaching, travel, and photography.  It was my great pleasure (as it is each year) to assist Sam Abell on Whidbey Island at the Pacific Northwest Art School in Coupeville.  The class this year was built around creating a book of Whidbey Island.  Books are dear to Sam and dear to me. For this reason we were excited to offer the class the opportunity to develop an essay on a topic of their choosing about Whidbey Island. The assembly of these essays created our book.  It will soon be available on Blurb for all the students. By all reports, the workshop was a great success and we will be doing the same thing again next year with a few minor adjustments.

Following the workshop I flew immediately to California to photograph participants in a clinic at Debra and Dominique Barbier’s farm in Healdsburg.  Thirty or more people enjoyed participating in the first ever formal clinic at Batbier Farm…..riding their horses, learning from both Dominique and Debra, hearing Dominique’s Meditation for Two lecture, and enjoying great food, conversation, and wine.  The group, though diverse, came together easily because of the common love of the horse and their dedication to classical teaching and the compassionate training of the horse.

After a few days back in Seattle I was off to the East Coast to visit family and collaborate with Linda Bertschinger of Classicus Farm on her new book: Alchemy, Transforming Your Horse in Lightness.   After 30 hours non-stop work, we declared the book designed and well on its way to completion.  It was a pleasure to put in this time as the book is a gentle recitation of Linda’s experiences with different horses, each illustrating a pillar of classical training.  I will have an announcement on this blog when it is available.  (Soon!)

And then I was off to Wyoming.  I was a sheer delight to accompany Sam Abell and make a pilgrimage of sorts to a little town in Wyoming, prior to giving a lecture at Northwest College in Powell, Wyoming.  Our good friend, Anthony Polvere, had arranged for the talk after we all met the previous year at the workshop on Whidbey Island.  The talk was the finest I’ve heard Sam give in the last five years.  The students of Northwest College and the citizens of Powell, Cody, Billings, and points in between, were given a talk that illustrated Sam’s practice and philosophy of photography.  Even more importantly, they walked away having witnessed a man that has examined life, a life in photography and from photography, a life writ large but lived humbly.  It’s a stunning combination: inspiring, uplifting, whole.   And then….off we went to Yellowstone National Park with the photography faculty from Northwest College!  There was such great fun, laughter, joy, remarkable story-telling, in short, camaraderie.  With the majesty of Yellowstone as our backdrop and great cowboy songs for our soundtrack, we toured, photographed, and enjoyed much of the Park.

And now I am just back from Santa Fe, having photographed participants there in a clinic with Dominique.  The very talented Lynn Clifford was the organizer of the clinic and our gracious hostess.  Again, a diverse group met for three days, enjoyed each other’s company, and shared their lives and experience with one another….all from their love of the horse.

In thinking about this whirlwind 30 days, the experience of fraternity and the spirit of collaboration are the thoughts that keep rising up. Friendship built on common interest, but friendship that respects each other’s vision and tradition creates an easy but deep and lasting bond.  The experience of collaboration, whether creating a book, editing a slideshow, shooting a video, or just exploring somewhere new, provides a foundation for each person to offer their insight and their strengths to the completion of a project.  With this collaboration, the project has a greater chance of having more depth and lasting meaning.

I have seen this with other book projects, I have experienced it with my own, and I have been honored to collaborate with and assist Sam and other teachers and photographers in many different ways.  So for photographers, horsemen and horsewomen, and all the readers of my blog, I say this: find a collaborator or teacher, join a group of friends and make new ones, and navigate to a place of joy and meaning.

“Friendship is borne from an identity of spiritual goals ~ From common navigation toward a star.”  A. de S. E.

Here’s a gallery, including friends and collaborators, from recent travels.

 

26
Aug
10

Doma Clasica link

I’ve had numerous images published in magazines and books….but this is the first article ABOUT me.  Here is the link (in case you read Spanish.) There are a couple of errors (mostly in tense) but the spirit of the article is correct.  Thank you, Katharina, for the opportunity.  And to my readers: stay tuned!  There are more articles and images to come.  Thanks for checking the blog.

Doma Clasica And please….leave a comment!

~Keron`

25
Aug
10

A really big announcement and a wrap up from Whidbey Island

I’m delighted to tell all my readers that Meditation for Two is going to be published in Germany, Switzerland, and Brazil!  I’m so excited and deeply gratified.  All the thanks goes to Dominique for without his tremendous success with Dressage for the New Age (published in 5 countries and in its third edition in the US) this would not have happened.  I’m working now on finalizing a publisher in France and the US and hope to announce the details quickly.  The message here:  Dreams do come true.  Of course, the book is still available on Blurb.com (and would make a GREAT gift at Christmas for Zen-leaning equestrian enthusiasts).

I’m hard at work completing the book project that the class from the Pacific Northwest Arts School created during their week-long course with Sam Abell.  The book title is Portrait of Whidbey Island. I had the great pleasure to assist this class for the fourth year in a row and am already looking ahead to a reunion next August.  The level of engagement on behalf of the students was extraordinary and surpassed only by the generosity and quality of Sam’s instruction. His alumni know that the discussions during the week will be thought provoking and erudite. That is why they return each year. New students are treated to original thought and genuine care about their work and progress. Sam is unparalleled as an instructor. It is my great honor to have assisted him on so many occasions.  In addition to the week-long course in Coupeville, area residents had the opportunity to hear Sam speak. The Life of A Photograph was the topic, to be followed next year with the second half of the lecture, The Photographic Life.  I’m certain that every person present last week will return and bring a friend.  It was THAT good.  Thank you, Lisa, Karen, and Sue, for all your hard work and dedication.  PNAS adds so much to the quality of life on Whidbey Island.

As soon as I finished on Whidbey Island last Friday night I zipped down to Healdsburg, CA, to photograph the clinic at Dominique’s farm.  This was the first time a formal clinic was held there and it was incredibly well-attended.  The organization, Shanna, Meredith, Beth, and Linda’s help, and of course Debra and Dominique’s instruction made for fun-filled days that were packed with information and philosophy…all with the benefit of the horse as the focus.  Riders and auditors alike went away with a renewed dedication to communicate with and learn from their horses. If you are a rider you’ll want to attend the next clinic at their home in January 2011….the 5th thru the 11th.  Reserve your spot quickly as space is limited and the August clinic was over-subscribed.

Here are recent images of several of my favorite equestrian subjects.  Enjoy!

29
Jul
10

Please remove your shoes (I’m not talking about airline travel)

“Earth is crammed with heaven, Every common bush afire with God:

But only he who sees takes off his shoes.”

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

After three months of near constant travel and work I am back in Seattle for a week to catch my breath. I have a lot of work to complete and great events on the horizon, but I am going to stop for a bit and reflect on the heaven and bushes afire that I have seen during my latest travels.

The heaven brought forth was the meeting of dear friends in several spots in Europe.  I am so fortunate to have met and come to care deeply for people in many different places. Traveling to see them along familiar rail lines or unfamiliar highways through ripening summer fields was a source of great joy to me. Creating new memories while laughing, dining, or walking together will keep  us in an embrace until our next meeting or even if we are never to meet again. This, along with a few photographs, is my sustenance. The heart holds joy and after a while, will release suffering.

I often visit museums to see the same paintings time and time again. Viewing The Sower and the Place du Forum and one of Vincent’s self portraits with those piercing blue eyes felt just like greeting old friends, or perhaps the echo of those meetings…with a touch of wistfulness and the longing to talk again.

Van Gogh's self portrait from 1887

I had the great pleasure to see several really fine exhibits and one new (to me) museum.  In London I went to the brand new show at the Royal Academy titled Sargent and the Sea, and saw the Renaissance Drawings exhibit at the British Museum. Sargent and the Sea was a particular joy as it showed the artist in the beginning of his career, with paintings that exhibited vigor and freedom, what one might expect from a young man visiting seaside resorts around Europe. What was entirely unexpected was the quality and maturity of the work.  While we might be familiar with the glory of Sargent portraiture, the mastery of his early compositions is stunning.  The texture of and reflections in the wet sand that he created made me want to take off my shoes and wade into the painting. The side-light creating a corona around a child’s head made you feel the late afternoon sun, a feeling that you are caught between wanting to stay on the shore to take in the last rays of sun and warmth while beginning to think about dinner and rest.

Setting out to Fish, 1878, Corcoran Gallery of Art

The Renaissance Drawings exhibit at the British Museum was familiar territory for me as I have spent many hours in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. But there were delights: The painting of two cheetahs from about 1410 was a real surprise and it was eye opening to see the freedom of expression in the preparatory drawings that was rarely seen in a finished work. But to see the evolution of drawing from the early 1400’s to the height of the Renaissance was revelatory. The progressive refinement and use of perspective, texture, detail, and expression of movement and emotion all culminated in the masterpieces by Da Vinci, Titian, and Michelangelo that we revere.

Drawing/painting on vellum, c. 1410, Workshop of Giovannino de'Grassi

Where is the photography in all this? It’s in our awareness of every sight, every step, every line, every shadow, every bush afire. While looking at a canvas by Seurat at the Kroller-Muller museum I was thrilled to see three distinct compositions in one painting. While talking with my mother about the Sargent works I could see clearly the use of negative space, separation of elements, and side-light to highlight portions of the composition. This charged me, energetically, to go out and SEE more deeply. The inspiration I derive from the Masters of Painting and Sculpture feeds me and helps me to refine my ability to create whole engaging images. Having that experience while preparing for a camera club lecture provided great examples and re-ignited my passion for describing how we can expand our awareness by feeding our brains and our souls with the best imagery available to us.

The gift of awareness is the greatest gift we can offer ourselves.  Cultivate it.  Take off your shoes and touch the warmth of the soil and surf. You will reap an earth crammed with Heaven.

29
Jul
10

Meditation for Two now available on Blurb

Just a quick post to let you know that our book, MEDITATION FOR TWO,  is now available on Blurb (in case you really don’t want the gorgeous hand-printed, hand-bound volume with six limited edition prints….)….

I’ll be back later today with a regular post.  I’ve been traveling (and photographing) for a solid three months and am ready to sit and write.

Follow the link….

http://www.blurb.com/books/1432930

27
Mar
10

A new opportunity ~ Commissioned work

Readers of this blog know that I do a great deal of work with horses.  I’m expanding that  by offering horse owners, breeders, and barn owners the opportunity to have a custom portfolio made that expresses the love and passion you have for your horses and farm.  This offer is fully custom tailored. After talking with you, I will propose an outline for your shoot.  I’m most interested in learning your desires and what you envision for your portfolio, including the following:  how the work will be used, is it a treasured volume to hold memories, would you like to create  a portrait of the farm or barn, not just the horses, would you like to use images to develop or enhance a website, would you like to enhance or create a blog or newsletter campaign, would you like to include video portraits, or perhaps you would like to create a custom book to offer clients, barn mates, or prospective buyers.

I am able to provide all the services above, including the consulting and implementation to create or enhance your website, blog, or newsletter campaign and the design and production of a fully custom book for your farm or operation.  I’m pleased to note that I’ll be working closely with Rick Holt, teacher/writer/photographer/digital darkroom expert, and with Tim Feather of 110 Front Communications for web implementation, all on an as needed basis.  Rick and Tim have years of experience and the up-to-date knowledge to insure seamless transitions for your internet communications.

The most important ingredient for a successful shoot is a knowledge of and passion for the horse.  I bring along over 25 years of horsemanship to supplement my experience behind the lens.  As a farm owner I know the long hours of labor that goes into creating a haven that exhibits your care for the horse’s well-being.  I’ll work hard to reflect all these attributes in your portfolio.  I look forward to helping you portray and capture the unique qualities of your horses and their home.

Spring is upon us and the horses will be shedding their furriness…..contact me!  keron@tanatyva.com

Here’s an eclectic mix from farms and events around the world.  I hope you enjoy…..and please, explore the rest of the blog for other equestrian images.  You might like to visit Dominique Barbier’s blog  as well: www.dominiqueanddebrabarbier.wordpress.com

23
Feb
10

lunch with a friend and the business of photography

I had lunch today with Tim Grey, friend, author of many great books on image editing, creator of wonderful instructional DVD’s, and the Ask Tim Grey newsletter.  As always, it was great fun catching up and exchanging stories, but the crux of the conversation was this:  How does a freelance photographer/writer/educator make their way in today’s economy?  Most of the professionals I know have income streams in several areas.  These almost always include workshops, lectures, and product sales, either of their own, or a percentage of sales with sponsors whose products they use.  But our conversation kept drilling down to how best to allocate time.  As a former owner of a business (over 100 employees) I confronted this issue daily.  When we were terribly busy in the plant I would jump in to add my labor to make a deadline ~ but was it the best use of my time?  Tim’s confronting the same issues….as am I now, as a photographer.  Where is the balance between self promotion, shooting, teaching, keywording, stock submissions or making prints/books/dvds.

After thinking about the two photographers I know personally that are still thriving in this economy, I think the answer must be that more time is needed in self promotion.  Alain Briot and Tony Sweet have maintained their workshops, their product sales, and private teaching in a continually contracting market.  How did they do it?  Continual self promotion and of course, huge amounts of hard work…..all geared to offering a product (their knowledge) that has real value.  When I applied this thought to my own work as I am clearly not a photoshop Dream Team member (Tim) or a landscape photography master (Alain) or a Nikon Legend (Tony), I had to distill what it is that I know that may have value for someone else.  So here’s my self promotion:

I know books.  I know bookbinding, a fair amount about book design, I know about printing, both offset and fine art inkjet, and I know about publishing and distribution.  All of this came from nearly 20 years in the printing and binding industries in the Mid-Atlantic states and with several years now of producing fine art prints and books for consulting clients and for myself.   I have created a book in collaboration with Dominique Barbier of which I am very proud.  It is titled MEDITATION FOR TWO and is available on Dominique’s website.  From this book I have received several commissions for shoots and am anticipating that this market will grow as the book garners a wider distribution.   But I have also received inquiries about helping people put together their own books and assisting them through the process from concept to distribution.  I’m writing all this to illustrate how one endeavor can create avenues of work and further recognition.  Next time, when you are thinking about a project, try to envision the other areas that it could impact your work and hopefully, your income stream.  If the project is created from deep knowledge and love of your subject, coupled with a precise plan for getting the work seen, your likelihood of success is virtually assured.

Here’s an illustration of the front and back covers…and a few shots from inside.

14
Feb
10

glow….and Happy Valentine’s Day

As I type this I am struck by how awkward the word glow looks.  Yet the quality or attribute of glowing in a photograph is anything but awkward.  I’m talking about subtlety…not a plug-in or technique.  I’m not anti-plug-ins, the truth is I have very little knowledge of or experience with them.  But I’m talking about recognizing something in the light and tone of shapes and moments that translate into glowing photographs. This morning, I had a wonderful breakfast with my son in a favorite spot here in Seattle.  As is my habit, I photographed the setting.  A fleeting glance at the display told me that I might have a nicely glowing photograph.  It’s not a prize winner, but it is a sweet reminder of a glowing moment, and a reminder too, of many other happy moments in this spot.  And when I started to gather a few photos for this blog post I was struck by the happy memories that each called forth.  A coincidence?  No.  I feel very strongly that when we are in a glowing mood…the energy attracts the same.  We see how we feel.  It’s just another variation of my belief that we photograph as we are.

I’ll be back this week with some ‘serious’ photographs…but for now, Happy Valentine’s Day.  Wishing you lots of glow for your day, your life, and your photographs.

23
Jan
10

on shepherds and breathing life into art

Without tradition, art is a flock of sheep without a shepherd. Without innovation, it is a corpse.
Winston Churchill   

Family and close friends know that I am an ardent admirer of Winston Churchill.  Aside from his magnificent careers in politics and literature and that little matter of holding the candle for the free world for a time, Mr. Churchill was  a prolific and accomplished painter.  He had the ability to stop whatever he was doing and totally focus on his painting when he felt the need to step back from his tremendous burdens.  It was a comfort and a tonic to him his entire adult life.  Photography and writing give me that gift….now I’m going to add some bubbles. 

I’ve written about the impact that painting has on my photography and the way it opens my eyes and heart to see things new.  The visual history and legacies that have been left to us by artists since time began can inform and help to shape new work.  While reading a poem by Pablo Neruda, I saw an illustration today that I liked very much.  It has triggered my desire expand my thinking when I am photographing to consider subjects for other uses; for example textures as overlays, or patterns to give structure…and images, like poetry, as allusions.  This is not revolutionary, but it will help me to widen my field of view and express something that is new to me.   With Uelsmann and Caponigro and other masters in the field as shepherds, I’ll breathe some more life into my own journey. 

These are my first attempts to see with the idea of joining elements.

17
Jan
10

the editing process

I am engaged by photographs that elicit an emotional response.  I want my own photographs to meet that standard and yet I realize that it is totally subjective.  What one viewer finds sorrowful or joyful will likely be different from another’s view.  But still, if we (as the photographer) are moved by a scene, a moment, or an event then it is likely that our audience will catch on to something that pulls them in.   So the question for me, when helping clients or friends edit their work, is this: Am I engaged?  Am I taking some extra time to really see the photograph or is it a ‘one look’ photo, a photo that might be graphically stunning but is one-dimensional? What are you trying to communicate as a photographer?  Anything? What is your point of view?  Do you have one?  Or is it simply a picture of  a pretty scene, thing, event?  What does the photograph say about you, the photographer?  Are there clues or is the mystery part of the appeal?  In short, to paraphrase Sam Abell: Is it involving? 

Of all the challenges to creating a successful or engaging photograph, among them lighting, technique, composition, setting, and gesture, the communication of feeling is for me the most important. Here is a small gallery with a wide array of subjects for you to critique. 

A note about Sam: Over 1,000 people attended the opening of his new show, Amazonia, at the University of Oregon on Saturday, January 16th.  Sam, along with the wonderful Danish photographer, Torben Nissen, spent months in the headwaters of the Amazon and came back with compelling, thoughtful images that tell the story of one of earth’s most precious resources.  I hope you’ll get to see the show.

01
Jan
10

new images from looking back

For the last couple of years I have made sure that I photograph first thing in the morning on the first day of the new year.  This morning was no exception, but it had a little twist.  I have been driving by this particular scene each day, twice a day, for over a year and today was my day to stop and photograph it.  The delay is due mostly to the fact that it is only accessible from a busy on-ramp in the Washington Park Arboretum.  But today being a holiday, and one that had many people sleeping in, I was able to park off to the side of the ramp and photograph undisturbed for long periods of time.

Tony Sweet, Eddie Soloway, and William Neill (among many) are doing marvelous impressionistic work.  It’s fresh, engaging, and their work is expanding the boundary of our vision, much as the Impressionist painters did in the 1860’s and 1870’s.  It took decades for their revolutionary way of seeing to catch on with the public and then with the art collectors.  Things haven’t changed a great deal.  During a layover in Denver International Airport on Tuesday, I looked up and saw Ernst Haas’ image of a toreador and bull in motion advertising some service or product….to which I paid no attention. But the image stuck. These were some of the first, and still most engaging, images of movement in color and they are from the 1950’s!  Freeman Patterson carried that particular baton a long way with his dedication to impressionistic vision and experimenting with layers of images and other darkroom techniques.  Tony, Bill, and Eddie are standing on his shoulders and reaching new heights and hopefully, new collectors and buyers.

Are my images radically different?  Not at all.  Then why make them, you might ask…..I make them to refine my vision, to teach me to see more deeply and to know what my camera will see when I am using a different technique.  I make them to understand what it is that is pleasing or intriguing about a given image.  In this way I might be able to teach with more clarity or to open a door to further exploration of the subject.  And finally, I make my images to know myself, to stay engaged in the conversation of living.

There is only you and your camera. The limitations in your photography are in yourself, for what we see is what we are”
Ernst Haas

 

 

16
Dec
09

Road Trip, part 2

The most viewed images from the first road-trip post are the horse images…. so I thought I’d post a few more of my favorites.  The inherent beauty of the horse makes them marvelous subjects and it also makes it easier to create  a successful photograph.  But there are challenges as well.  I am terribly discerning with my horse photographs because I know what the correct postures are from an equestrian viewpoint, and I’m looking for meaningful gesture from a photographer’s viewpoint.  Then I want good lighting, dramatic lighting even…..and the last component must be the essence or the soul of the horse.  This is a tall order, but having access to Debra and Dominique’s farm makes it possible to have some success.

Visiting the farm is like going home for me.  My stallion, Fol Amour, lives there now to enjoy his retirement in his first home. He’s the old man of the barn now at 26, and while still active and working it is bittersweet to see him aging. I am just beginning to photograph him. I don’t have an answer as to why I haven’t been doing it, seriously, for all these years. It’s a regret that I must live with.  

Generally, I am happy with this group of images.  I was able to produce a couple different types of images in the midst of action and changing light.  We were there for less than two hours before we had to begin our trek up the coast.  But of course that bit of modest success fuels the fire to return!

11
Dec
09

thawing out from road trip

I’m just back from a 4.5 day roadtrip that began in Healdsburg, California, and ended in Seattle.  I was joined by Rick Holt, fabulous image editing instructor, fellow teacher, and photo buddy.  Our plan was to photograph horses in Healdsburg at Debra and Dominique Barbier’s  vineyard and farm, then cruise the California coast by taking the back way  up and over to Mendocino and then following highway 101 all the way north to Astoria, Oregon.  We were hoping for coastal fog and mist to lend some atmosphere to sea stacks, redwood trees and California oak images.   

Horses?  Check.  Highway 101? Check.  Mist, fog, atmosphere? Nada.  We drove for 4.5 days and never saw a cloud in the sky.  Not one.  But the painfully cold temps did give us some unexpected photographer’s luck.  Ice coated grasses, hoarfrost covered forests and meadows, and delicately frosted leaves on the shoreline delighted us each morning.  We were both slightly unprepared for pre-dawn with wind and frigid temps, but in our “hey, we’re out shooting!!!” euphoria, it didn’t matter that much.  

I’m back in Seattle now with an invigorated passion for exploration and appreciation of serendipity.  Here’s a small gallery from the trip.  I’ll be posting more over the next several days and will talk about the specific subjects and locations. 

29
Nov
09

thoughts of Joy

“If nature has made you a giver, your hands are born open, and so is your heart. And though there may be times when your hands are empty, your heart is always full, and you can give things out of that.”

-Frances Hodgson Burnett

I love this time of year.  I find my senses heightened and tuned to the subtle vibrations of joy.  I’m talking about a walking-around, tiny-bubbles, effervescent kind of joy ~ not the explosive noisy type.   I’ve learned that I can summon this feeling with intention and I can also create it by photographing.  One such experience happened the first time I used a Lensbaby.  I’m not a gadget/gimmick/tricky photographer….but I do enjoy creative exploration.  So I popped on a loaned lensbaby and started shooting, just to see.   I like that idea “just to see”.  How many times have we learned things that were transformative just because we were curious?  And how much joy did that bring? 

Regarding the opening quote:  it’s not unusual that as a photographer my “hands are empty” but it is true that my heart is always full.  This year I’ve been busy making prints and cards for friends and family as gifts.  Then I thought I should take that one step further.  I’m sending boxes of cards to some local nursing homes.  While the residents don’t often have the ability to shop, many still write and send cards to family and friends.  I know that you all have great ideas of your own that spread the joy of this season.  Tell me about them!  And remember:  a thing of beauty is a joy forever. 

….some lensbaby joy:

07
Nov
09

of painting and photography

A comment from a friend has encouraged me to write about my deep belief in the connection that painting has to my photography.  Though I am not a painter I am a lover and longtime collector of paintings.  Decades before I had any thought of creating a life in photography, I spent long hours with my nose buried in books about the Masters.  First, Monet, then led by a painter friend I discovered Bonnard and Cezanne and I took off from there.  I collected the finest books I could about painters and museum collections.  Then I began to travel to see shows and collections.  During that time I lived on the East Coast and had easy access to the museums in Washington, Philadelphia, and New York.  Eventually I was able to visit the museums and shows in London, Paris, Rome, Amsterdam and Florence.  Keep in mind….there was still no photography in my life. 

What I was doing, without knowing it, was creating a rich visual library; reference points or a catalog in my mind and in my heart of color, line, form, composition, light, shadow, and feeling.  I was developing a very critical eye for discerning the qualities that allowed one painting to rise up over another.  My favorite paintings are now like old friends.  I visit them and am filled with the comfort and renewed spirit that comes from sitting with a dear friend.  It’s my reassurance that there is beauty in the world to be created.  And so I am not surprised, but truly delighted when I “see” a photograph that brings forth the feeling of a favorite painter.  To be able to say to myself  “aha…this is what Kahn might have seen”  or “Oh! This is Wyeth’s palette” is gratifying and illuminating.  This visual heritage, this wealth of knowledge  is available to each of us.   As humans and as photographers, our lives are richer when we avail ourselves of this treasure.




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