Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Bokeh People in Wax

I personally love bokeh.
Bokeh is the out of focus areas in photography that lie outside of the depth of field.
Many photographers love to shoot bokeh in their work. You will often see bokeh as the little round circles of light that glisten in the background.  But, I have come to love the other stuff that is out of focus in the background - especially people.

Snow Day
Inspired by Urban Muser's
Snowy Fence
encaustic on birch 8x8
 I'm taking a little break from the portraits.  I needed something that is not so tight.  I love the portraits and will continue, but I need something else too. Something for the in-between time when the wax is cooling.
Since I am so in love with bokeh people in photography, I decided to try bokeh people in wax (encaustic). 

Inspired by Picture This/Patty's
The Skaters
encaustic on birch 4x6
Thank you to my Flickr friends for their inspiration.  

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


I keep messing with her.  I make little tweaks here and there.  Sometimes all I really do is mess things up. 
So, for now... she is done.
I keep learning more from each painting that I do.
Each one is its own teacher.
I'm learning to look at things as shapes rather than a nose or a mouth - just shapes and color.
Its hard to adjust my thinking.
Practice makes perfect.
Practice every day.

Friday, November 18, 2011

I was thinking about time today. 
For some reason about 6 weeks ago I stopped wearing a watch.  I've worn a watch for years and I own several.  But, for whatever reason, I stopped wearing one.  Just unconsciously stopped.
Without a watch I find I no longer struggle with time.  It took a a little while to adjust to not having time on my wrist.  I find that really there are enough clocks in my life - iPhone, car, the little one on the mantel, the one on the stove...
I have come to peace with the idea that there is time and space for everything I want to do.  And you know what?
There is.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Me & Bess:: The First Roll

My first roll with the Bessamatic.  I could never have imagined I would have had as much fun with this as I did.  This was an amazing exercise in mindfulness. 
First - wow, no zoom.  I'm a zoom-a-holic so this was a really good exercise for me.
Second - Only 36 exposures.  I had to think about, frame and really look at each shot - every corner of the frame and pay attention to the composition.  There were several I would have taken with the digital but they did not make the cut for one of 36. 

 I never would have imagined that this camera would have been such a conversation piece.  I had several people stop and talk to me about my camera and shooting with film.

I chose B&W film for no good reason except that it was the film of choice for my Dad.  Being this is his camera, it seemed fitting to at least start in B&W - ISO400.  Not to get too technical because I'm not but I shot at 1/60 and an aperture of 2.8 or a shallow DoF.
The Bessamatic actually chooses aperture and shutter speed together.  I'm not sure I can choose separately.  

I took my time.  I had some people stopping and waiting for me and I would tell them it was OK to pass.  It would take me a while to get everything all good to go.  As I look through the viewer, inside is a light meter that needs to be adjusted for the proper exposure.  Got to twist a little dial, focus the lens - steady stance and yes, hold my breath as I pushed the button.  

All this made me realize how fast I am with a digital camera.  Too fast I realize.  Point, zoom, shoot and go.  Not near as much thought in each shot.  On a day like this with my Nikon I would click off maybe at least 150 shots.
 My husband and I concluded the shot above and the next one both have a face in them.  The above is on the table in the middle and the below is in that flag like looking thing at the top.  Gnome like I think - not sure really...

   I had some trouble with the film progressing and I had some, well many exposures in one frame. There was a point that the film just didn't move I guess.  I just kept taking photos thinking that maybe the counter was not working.  In all I think I took about 50 shots in my roll of 36. 

 These really aren't in any order other than maybe interestingness. 

 I found it took about three or so shots to get used to all the steps that I needed to complete before taking the photo.

 The next two are my favorites.  They each have about 10 shots or so on the one frame.  This is where old Bess got a little cranky and was showing her age. 

 When I got the photos back, I got 13 prints out of 36.  The rest of the film was blank.  So, my conclusion is to keep shooting until I feel the resistance that indicates the end of the roll.
I love the light leak too.  The guys at the camera store put a new foam pad at the hinge area to stop the leak.  But they said I could always take it out if I want.

I loved, loved, loved this experience.  The mindfulness and thoughtfulness that it brought.  It taught me so much about my photography that I can't wait to start on another roll. 
I've decided that this is going to be my project for next year.  I'm going to call it 26 - The Film Project.  More on this later.  Think about playing along with me starting in January.  The only rules so far is that you have to shoot with film.
So check back - More details to come.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Retro Love

Every old camera has a story.  Ever thought about that?
Think of the images it has taken.  The moments in time that it has captured.  How, in its lifetime it has seen so many things and preserved those moments.
 I had a home run day last week.  I went to our family beach house for the day with my Mom. 
There on the shelf in the garage in an old brown leather bag was the Voitlander.  I absolutely could not believe my eyes.  After my Dad had passed away, my Mom had donated all of the old cameras to the local Thrift store.  Heartbreaking to me at the time, but I had not spoken up for them.  Included in that lot was also a Polaroid (yes, double heartbreaking).

 I reached up for the bag thinking it was empty.  My Mom was standing beside me and was sure it was empty.  As I pulled it off the shelf - I could tell it was too heavy for empty - but what was inside?  There she was, the Bessamatic - I don't think at that moment there could have been anything better that could have happened to me.  I was grateful that day and I am still feeling grateful as I write this.  How cold it be true that this camera was there?  I know what I believe.
This camera took literally thousands of photos.  As a family, we took a lot of photographs. 
My Dad was an artist and he took hundreds of photos for reference as well as documented trips and all kinds of family moments.  This was the camera.  This was his love and there it was waiting for me on the shelf in the garage. 

It was in its original case, all pieces and even had the instruction book with it.  The zoomar lens is perfect. 
I'm not sure when this camera came into our lives.  My Mom remembers that it was given to my Dad by a family member during the early 1960's.
I grew up with this camera.  I never really got to use it, but it took lots of photos of me.
I've taken it to the local camera store - Kenmore Camera.  They all have been so kind.  I took it out for the first time, yesterday.  I had a very special photo walk through Pike Place Market with it.  I will share more about my experience tomorrow and I'll share the first set of photos that I took with it.
If you are interested in a little more information on the Bessamatic you can click HERE
and visit The Camera Collection.

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Day at the Beach

 It's light, color, texture week for Susannah's Photo Meditations class. 
I feel kind of light deprived sometimes living in the Pacific Northwest.  Seems like if I wait for a sunny day, I don't get out much this time of year.

 Yet, there is this delightful softness that only a cloudy day can bring.

 A day at the beach for me is total bliss.  This is where I grew up.  This beach is along the Pacific coast and as you can see is realitivly desolate. Its beautiful. It holds a special place in my heart.
I took a day - my camera, my dog and my Mom.  We left early so we could spend the whole day at the family beach house.  I wanted to practice some of the things we are learning in Photo Meditations

Pattern and the red rule
Texture and negative space

Texture and color, rule of thirds
Texture, color and light

Photo Meditations

Friday, November 4, 2011

Portraits::Getting the Colors Right in Encaustic Wax

 Portraits have become my new thing.  Can't even really explain it.  Among all the way important things that go into portrait painting the one that trips me up the most is the color.
In encaustic painting there are similarities and differences in tinting color.  The first big difference of course it we're talking HOT WAX here.
I'm teaching myself - so I am finding palette color answers in books and from the examples of work I can find on the Internet.
So, I study and create color palettes in wax on my hot griddle.
This is tough - mixing on the griddle is OK but there is a problem with the quantity of paint.  Mixing in tins or some sort of vessel is hard too - I get the quantity - but the color tweaking is really tough.
So, I got this bright idea.  What if I mixed all the colors in oil paint and then used them to tint the wax. 
Using oil paint is one method of tinting wax with pigment.

If you choose this method it is of the utmost importance to let the paint sit on a paper towel at least overnight.  This allows oils in the paint to be absorbed by the paper.  If you don't do this, you run the risk of getting too much oil in the wax which compromises its ability to harden and dry.

After the overnight oil weeping - the paint is ready to add to the hot wax.  Now, there is another rule:  no more than 30% pigment in the wax.  I really honestly have no idea how to measure that.  I totally guessed. 
I decided to err to the less paint side - just in case.
I used a muffin tin - Teflon coated so the wax comes out easily.  Incidentally I used these tins when I make my medium - so they were already full of medium.
On the top of each unheated wax round, I used a palette knife and transferred the paint to the top of the wax.  One color, one wax round.  As the wax melted, the paint slowly heated up and then sunk to the bottom of the tin for easy mixing.
Gave everything a stir so the paint would melt into and incorporate into the wax.

 I popped them out after they were hard. 
I figure from here I can tint on the hot palette to lighten or darken the shades as I need. 

I'm a newbie to this, so I'm not really sure if I mixed the colors I need.  Or, if for goodness sake I've overestimated the paint/wax ratio of 30%.  But, its a start and will see how it goes.
Any encaustic painters out there, please kindly comment.  I would love to hear your thoughts.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Line and rule of thirds

I love taking classes.  The thing about taking a class for me is that it pushes me.  Being pushed sometimes is a really good thing.  Or perhaps, this is more like a kick in the butt.
Susannah's Photo Meditations class is doing just this for me.
This week, still working on line and rule of thirds.  I can't understand why sometimes its hard for me to get that right when looking through the lens - the rule of thirds. 
I have to do some cropping after the fact to get what I want.
Need to work on this - more.

More line work...
 Working with line is pretty fun actually.  Line is everywhere in our lives - literally.  As I pulled into Home Depot's parking lot - the rows of carts at the side of the building caught my eye.
iPhone in hand - yep.. did some exploration of line.

This is fun.

Photo Meditations

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Line and Negative Space

Playing around with line and negative space today for Susannah's class:  Photo Meditations
We're also taking a look back at the basics - the rule of thirds.  There is something about reviewing the basics that brings things back into perspective again.
Its easy to forget this stuff.  And, isn't it amazing what it can do for a photo when you pay attention to it?

It was a beautiful foggy morning this AM.  Doggie and I walked down to the lake to take it in. 
Cold and crisp - welcome to November

Photo Meditations
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