Monday, February 28, 2011


Every morning I look out my kitchen window and I think I am the luckiest girl on the planet. I am greatful for waking up and seeing the beauty that lies before me. This is a photo I took close to this time last year.
Kat Sloma's Exploring with a Camera is about Capture the Sky. I have to say that we've been a little challenged here in Seattle for good sky opportunities lately.

I found I had to browse the archives to see what sky photos I have taken. I was a little amazed to see that really I don't have a lot of sky photos. I have sunrise photos like the one above. But real cloud play photos - not too many.

This made me question if we look up enough? Or are we so focused on our feet and where we walk that we fail to look up to the beauty above? So is this question of sky deeper that just looking at clouds? What does the sky really say to us when we see the beauty that is above our heads every day?
These are all interesting questions for me to ponder. I realized through this exercise, that I need to look up more. I need to incorporate more photos of the gift of beauty that lies in sky..
To find Kat's Exploring with a Camera series check out the button on the side bar.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Start of Something Bigger

I found inspiration today. So, why does it take so long to realize that what you've been looking for has been here all along?
I took a photography class this past month. Find Your Eye with Kat Sloma. Not only did I learn about my camera - the biggie was that I began to find my eye, my style.
I went on a photo walk this morning to capture the sun on the newly fallen snow. So... what did I photo? The same stuff I always photo.. trees, plants, just nature in general. I have scads of photos of the same stuff.
This is where Kat's class comes in... when I look at all these photos I have taken over the past year they pretty much have the same common thread. Line, color and texture - specifically based in nature. OK, I recognize this... time to embrace it and stop searching for something else. Seems like I keep trying to paint something that isn't me. And, yes... I'm not happy with it in the end.
Today I came across Bridgette Guerzon Mills. I actually discovered her about a week or so ago. Today, I really studied her work. I visited her blog, I browsed her photo stream and I soaked it in. Bridgette... Thank You! Thank you for the inspiration that you gave me to try some new stuff today. To actually see in myself what I have been missing - or overlooking all this time. I'm super excited to try again and let this evolve. Today was fun.
My take away from Bridgette's work is she is really good at sectioning off her panels into small bite sized pieces. This is something that I had been thinking about based on some pillow cases I bought in Thailand. But, today, Bridgette brought this together for me. She creates little pictures within a picture. If you really look at each little section, they stand on their own in color and compostion. They also come together to form one big happy painting. Brilliant! I've been struggling with the compostion of a bigger piece. Breaking it down is HUGE for me. This allows me to color block in black, white and midtones. Today I overlapped these little sections. Next I'll try picture within a picture and see how that feels. First, I think I'll map out in a sketch book the color blocks and how the shapes lay out. Then I'll put together the theme idea and I'll work on some drawing stuff and some photography to incorporate.
Wow, beginning to think like an artist :)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

it snowed today*

Black and white photography. I really do love it. But what makes it good? I think its the striking difference of having really black/black and really white/white in the photo. I'd like to learn more about it. So many times photos don't really translate to b&w. I think its because they are nothing but midtones when set to gray scale and they lack that deep contrast. I'm not sure that I nailed this one, but its not bad. Stuck pretty close to the rule of 1/3s here for the compo. It really does seem to work in keeping the composition in line.
My Dad always told me that a good painting has 1/6 black and 1/6 white - the rest is midtones. So does the same rule apply to b&w photography too?
I like the high key overexposed portion of this photo. The textures really show up. f/4.5, ISO 2500, exposure +.7 I let the camera chose the ISO.
It really did snow today. It didn't stick here at our house, but it did to the north of us. It is February, afterall. However, I do have to say - the weather is really confusing me. I'm still trying to warm up.

Little Pink Houses

Little Pink Houses
encaustic and mixed media on panel

Pink houses seemed like a happy thing for today.
Still trying new things. Drew on the ground before starting the medium. I think I kinda like that look.
Honestly, I can't help but to smile when I look at this one. I especially like the spotty house.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Thursday, February 17, 2011

+1.3 - All is not lost

I blew it yesterday. I had a great weather opportunity and I blew it.
I grabbed my camera and headed out to get some great outside photos. I was literally so excited to be out there under the Seattle sunshine - cool and crisp. I focused on slowing down, framing the photo and looking for the right angle. I made myself take time, not be too fast. I was so focused on being out there and what I was doing... that I FORGOT. I forgot to check and adjust the settings on the camera! How can this be!?
I walked happily around the UofW campus catching photos of daffodils, pink blossoms, camellia flowers...all the signs of spring. I was totally engrossed. It never occured to me that the settings were off. Now, I have to admit that if I had been checking my histograms I may have caught this - nope.. just pure bliss - lost in the moment kinda stuff.
All the photos were over exposed and 98% of them were not good. Really, unfortunately - not good. There were a handful that were OK. And, thanks to a little creative PhotoShop work, I was able to salvage a few. This was one of the lucky ones. Its really adjusted in levels to the point the color looked a little surreal - so, the saving grace? Faded photo colorful center in PSE. I admit that I usually don't use PSEs canned photo effects. I prefer to do my own. But I have used this effect before and have found that it can fit the bill. Here's the sequence: photo, levels layer, faded photo colorful center and a background copy layer 100% soft light.
The good news about all of this? Forgetting to check the camera settings - it won't happen again.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


I seem to be hung up by time lately. I'm really not sure why. Where do I spend my time, do I have enought of it? That takes too much time, can't do it. That won't take much time.. I'll squeeze it in. Do we all do this? Or is it just me?
After much consideration, I've decided not to struggle with time. I need to realize that each task comes to me as it should. The tasks appear in the order in which each they should be done. All I need to do is concentrate on finishing the task to completion and then moving on. Simple? I really hope so.
I took this photo with my iPhone that I just got yesterday. Its taken with the app Camera+ (not to be confused with CameraPlus) I've decided that 365ing just got exponentially easier... the result -->time. More of it?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Exploring New Light

Exploring, experimenting, trial and error... aren't these the things we love about photography? The opportunity that comes with every photo jaunt is pure joy. Getting it right is the manta we carry with us. No one likes to come home and find the photo you thought you got perfect, really was a missed opportunity. I'm finding that having an understanding for capturing all kinds of light is uber important.

On our recent trip to Rome, I had to really step up - I had to learn to adjust and be quick on the learning curve. Its amazing when we set our mind to something, how quickly we can learn. I was taking photos in the bright sunlight under clear blue skies and then inside of a dimly lit cathedral, and lots in between. I really wanted to be sure to capture the beauty of all that I was seeing. My opportunity was limited and there was no going back - at least for a while anyway.
This is a whole new avenue for me - inside photography, no flash, HUGE dimly lit spaces, windows streaming light and little to no help from any kind of alternate light sources. OK, really.... photography heaven.

My initial reaction was to turn up the exposure into the + range. I found it so interesting that for me, this really NOT what I wanted to do. I felt, the best photos were either with exposure 0 or in the - range. The histogram review and thumbnails really helped provide the feedback I needed to make the proper adjustments. I had some winners and I had some losers too. That's part of the game.

I was finding in my photo wanderings during our vacation, that I began seeking great light. I was really looking to find those "magic moment" photos where the light holds drama. It was exciting and fun, with the exception that my camera got heavy by the end of the day. A labor of love though... wouldn't have left it behind for anything.

Above is Hercules - the pillar of strength. Light is kind of the Hercules of photography, don't you think?

Trying Something New - Night Shots

St. Peter in front of the Basilica at Vatican City

Part of Finding Your Eye in photography, I need to explore some things that I don't normally do. Night shots - perfect. I tend to be a home body in the evenings, so getting out to take night photos is not my norm. However, I did cheat a little here because we were recently travelling in Rome and were out at night. No time to be a home body - just too much to experience.

View of Via Condoti from the Spanish Steps

Night shots were a little tricky for me to figure out at first. I found that I really didn't need to adjust the exposure as much as I would have thought. My initial reaction was to crank up the exposure to allow in more light. The above is taken at exposure 0 - normal with no adjustment either way. The same is for the first photo.

Merry-go-round near the Castle St. Angelo

Again, more surprises for me with night shots. The merry-go-round above was taken with exposure +.7 and shutter speed 1/30, f5.6. I was able to hold the camera and get a good photo without a tripod. I learned through this process with the lower f number I was still able to hold the camera in many cases.

View of St. Peters
The photo above of St. Peters is exposure is -1, f/5.6, 1/20. This one I did rest the camera on the railing of the bridge from where I took the shot.
Overall, I can say that I really loved trying night photography. I can see to do it really well, that I would like to invest in a tripod. It was interesting to push a little and find the limits when I could still hold the camera and get a good photo, versus needing a steady surface. Super fun to try something really new for me. I am anxious to learn more about getting great night shots and to keep practicing. I found I was in love with the lighting and reflections.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentines Day

Valentines Day
Encaustic and mixed media on panel
I tried some new things. Some things I haven't done before. I started with printed craft paper as my background which I adhered to the panel with wax. A few layers of medium then I added the heart. I cut a stencil from cardstock and painted in the red wax. I then added some layers to the heart with white tissue paper that I watercolored a red background and design. The square for the face is carved out, then a pink paper square added in the hole. The face is a rubber stamp that I found at a stamping supply store. Lots of layers here, medium and some red wax to bring up the color. The arrow is graphite transfer paper drawn in. The words are done on the laser printer and transfered. Once again I had some trouble with getting a perfect transfer. I made some corrections to the letters and outlined the arrow by scratching in with a needle tool and rubbing with oil stick to highlight the lines.
Happy Valentines Day all.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

House Rules

What's my story? What do I tell myself when I photograph? What are the rules that define my photography?
Its interesting... I really don't have any technical photography rules because I have never been trained by anyone. No one has told me how or what to do in regard to technical photography skills and the do's and don'ts. So, I feel lucky in that way because really - ignorance is bliss in this case. I learn by experimentation. Its all discovery - everyday. Its really not a bad way to live. Of course there are the standard rules of composition, the elements of design and all that - these are keepers. No change there.

As far as rules that I have set for myself regarding photography - the biggest is that I have to hurry. I have to quickly take a shot and not dally.. not take the time it really needs. If I'm with someone else I feel like I'm holding them up - that its too much to ask to take their time.

I'm too fast and not allowing myself to really take the time a good photo needs. Time to set up the shot, time to look more deeply at what it is I am trying to capture. What am I trying to say with this photo. What is the subject and where am I focused. These are not the things that I think about. These are the things that I need to think about. I find that I have many photos that were almost great, but they weren't because they were out of focus or the focus is in the wrong place. The thoughtfulness and mindfulness was not there when I took that photo.

New Rule:: More thoughtfulness, less snap-and-go.

I have to constantly remind myself that the photography is for me. Its not about what I think someone else will like. The photos I choose are the ones that I like, I love. These are the photos that I choose to share for that reason alone. This is about expression of what I see in my daily life. I catch myself constantly thinking about whether or not someone else will like my photo today. Out with those thoughts and in with the new.

New Rule:: Share the photos I love and don't worry about what others think.

This photo above adopts my two rules. I took my time on this one. I watched and waited. I took a few and adjusted for exposure and aperture. I loved the solitude of this man looking out the window. I loved the story it seems to tell or the ambiguity it leaves when you wonder what or who is he thinking about. I like the mood the black and white gives the photo. I was happy with this one.
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