Tuesday, March 4, 2014

What The Hey Day...

Beach Cocktail

When you work for yourself, there's no one to make you tow the line. No one to breath down your neck to be productive. The only person to have that job is... yourself. Bummer. 

 Lost Count

I'll admit it. I'm the worst for avoiding work mode some days. And the other days then become stressful because you try to catch up. All on your own. And then ultimately you forget to inject your day with doing the very thing that inspires all that work in the first place. Sigh.... So yesterday I gave myself a "What the Hey" Day. An exercise in going with the flow. To inject some choice joy into my work.

Shell Game

Yesterday I made a choice to force myself to pick up my camera. To photograph the first thing that delighted me in the very next room. Then I mentioned it on Twitter and Facebook... and others feeling the same thing, responded. Then I went out on a limb and asked said strangers to join me doing the same in their own homes. 
And to post said photos of found objects.
Said strangers become new friends.
Said found objects became inspiration and creativity.
I believe I will now stop saying "said"...

Getting through the self-employed day = deliberately choosing to have fun honing your craft.
Start small.
Gain momentum.
Make friends.

I'd say my "What The Hey" Day was good for the soul. And for the camera.
I think a "What The Hey" week might be in order...
Who wants to join me?

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Use What You Have, Create Some Magic...

"Snow Girl III"

It's been a loooong winter here in Ontario. Snow, snow, and more snow. After a while it's all you can do to keep from throwing your shovel at the next snow plow and start seeing tropical mirages everywhere you go, while chanting, "Yes, we have no bananas..." in a singsong-y voice. Or am I the only one?

"Snow Girl I" B&W portrait...

So this was bringing me down, and that's not acceptable, I needed to keep busy AND use my camera. It never pays to let your skills laze about the house while you shovel for the eightieth time. Luckily, the EPPC group I participate in on Facebook had a portrait challenge going and I realized that right outside my door I had the perfect backdrop, natural light, and built in reflector to get some practice shooting out in the evil white stuff. Turns out that "stuff" became my camera's best friend, light was reflected off the snow onto my model, colour popped, and shapes stood out enough... I've had so much fun working on these portraits, the light really was so nice to work with (overcast but bright) and I even found a nice POV from our deck in the backyard. Insert a fit of the giggles (we ARE a bit shack-wacky after all) and it was a good day for winter photography.

"Snow Girl II"

Kept things simple in post processing later... bumped the whites a tad with the curves action to keep things clean, unsharp mask kept definition where ever there was shadow or dark tones, some saturation where all the white light washed out colours... and highlighted some snow that was blowing but disappeared in all the bright white with a brush tool in a swirl selection at a low opacity... 

This was a simple session, but because I chose to utilize what I had at my disposal (read: one pretty volunteer and TONS of snow) I was able to get some portraits that reminded me how much fun I can have during this loooong winter with the camera.

But seriously, if spring could just tell me what it would take to coax it closer in a big way... I'd do it. I'm that desperate.

Thanks for the ramble! Have a good one!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Art In Creation....

"A Coming Together"
Two separate falls rushing towards the same creek bed below.
St.Catherine's, Ontario, Canada

Am reading Freeman Patterson's latest book "Embracing Creation" this week... if you are not familiar with the legendary photography that is Freeman Patterson's collection, then I strongly suggest you check it out. Today's image reflects perfectly the influence Patterson has had on my own photography over the years. When I wanted to express how these two waterfalls felt like two old friends who finally found their way to the same sweeping ledge and could rush together with glee, I instantly tried to "think like Freeman".

Not that I'm trying to be him. I do have my own specific style that I work in, regardless of whether it's nature or architecture or whatever, but his approach and his style were both very influential to me when I first started photography, and as usual his latest book is full of philosophies and explanations that create more questions than answers when I hold them up to everything I think I know about making images that feel like art. And I love it. In a time when I see so many photographers trying to outdo each other with the latest trend, the latest "look", and completely controlled and manipulated subject matter, super dramatic, always containing some element of digital "wow", he challenges the photographer to find those moments in nature all around you that hint at something fleeting, beautiful, and delightful in and of itself.... with nothing more than your ability to compose around it, to do justice to the quality of light it's resting in, and to use your gear and vision to communicate why it caught your attention, or what it was waiting to reveal in the lens. And for that to be enough.

Again, for me, its that treasure hunt feeling. What will thrill me today? What will nature prompt me to create today? If you look with expectation, creation reveals it's artistic nature... through real colour, real texture, real shadow, real light, natural patterns, wild spaces, and those that inhabit them...

The image above was taken near Ball's Falls Conservation Park. You can't see it, but the actual ledge went in a big arc, so the waterfalls are almost across from each other in this shot, with a great deal of space between the two (the bigger falls almost in the background the arc was so wide). I was kneeling on a dry part of the same lip, shooting over and down. I get dizzy just thinking of it! (Feel free to click on the image for enlarged viewing.)

Everyone is different, but I love looking for art in nature, and after reading 'Embracing Creation" I think I have the motivation for better photographs this year that will not only show off the art in creation, but the art residing within me as well.

Who's up for releasing their inner artist? 

I see that hand... thank you...

Thursday, January 9, 2014

More Imagination Please...

Out of the Blue

If you haven't been to my Facebook page recently, you might wonder why I'm posting satellite images from space...

Where Two Worlds Meet

Cool images right? The roiling frozen ocean in the first one. A distant deserted valley colliding with a body of water in the image directly above. Dry and hilly terrain flanking two distinct roads in the photo below.

Paths Divided

Wow, Christine... when did you have time to fly to the space station? 

Those of you who have been on my Facebook page in the last 24 hours know exactly what you're looking at... the rest of you aren't sure but you're pretty certain that in between my last blog post and today's that I did NOT take up space travel. You can click on each image to see it enhanced. What you see is an abstract study of frost on a window and this photographer got excited about it. When was the last time my imagination soared? How about yours?

Whatever you see in those images right now is why this is so fun and so rewarding by the way. Three minutes ago you were contemplating how to start your day, or how spend your next break at work, or if you really want to fold another basket of laundry, and within the first minute of perusing the blog you suddenly had your imagination engaged... and as imagination is usually apt to do, you were transported with very little coaxing.

I've been asked before about the point of abstract art by folks who "just don't get it". To which I always answer with another question: Well, what's the point of imagination?" The answer I get ranges from 'it let's you explore life unhindered, free of stress, open to magical possibilities' to 'it's what lets the giant box the refrigerator came in turn into the invisible plane you fly as a superhero!'... 

Both answers are correct. And that's Abstract art too. For the viewer, it can be whatever you want it to be. Or you can use your imagination to gage what the artist's intent was... and you might get it right, or you might not care if you do at all... what matters is if it stopped you even for a moment and made you mull the possibilities over, got your imagination going, musing, or transported you elsewhere. And do you walk away slightly altered... ?

And for the creatives, for the artists, abstract is the chance to take what you love about compositions, and the power of shapes, lines, and colours, or the lack thereof, not to mention the medium itself, and infuse it with whatever strikes your fancy. It can romp, it can be expressive, it can be purely aesthetic, a puzzle to be solved,  or it can have important concepts needing to be conveyed. 

Or it can just be some everyday winter frost on a window pane photographed out of context. Personally I say let the 5 year old superhero out, and wreak havoc. Your art will thank you every time.

And all our 5 year old selves chant, "MORE IMAGINATION PLEASE!!!"

Monday, January 6, 2014

And We're Off....

In The Prime of Autumn...

I was marching boldly into January, I really was. Happily working on a new project, setting a new routine, feeling industrious! Till I hit a snag. 

I strongly dislike how fickle technology can be. One minute you're happily working on files, posting in communities on line, and then whammo! The google-verse tells you you don't exist... again. Needless to say, I had a fit. Of the conniption variety. A big hairy conniption type fit if you must know. This happened about a month ago as well! (the inter-web problem, not the fit...) Luckily the house is empty with everyone gone back to school and work, cause it wasn't pretty. All I wanted to do was blog for you all this morning! Simple right?

So what did I do to calm down, and patiently wait for things to be resolved AGAIN, so that I even felt like completing this small task today and not throw my computer out into the ice encrusted snow bank outside my door? And then rain giant anvils down on it.... While lighting it on fire....?

One of my own personal types of therapy is to dig out old photo files. Yes, I keep them all, if not on my hard drive, then in my back up drive and on disk. But I digress, since I know all of you must do the same, as time consuming as it can be. I pull up older files, and the treasure hunt begins! And I start to focus on something that pulls me in, and the stress fades.

I don't know about you, but when I cull images from rambles, trips, and shoots, I go for the obvious winners first. And I work hard at making them terrific. Often I know which ones they are, cause I was excited just to take them in the first place. Then I go back and cull again, looking longer and harder, making sure I didn't miss anything that has potential, cause if I have the time, I include those too if they meet my personal standards in some way. But time, new techniques learned, and insights that come with that passing of time itself always mean that later down the road (sometimes years later) I can open a photo file and see possibilities that I skimmed over...

Today's photo is exactly that. For whatever the reason, I saw it with new eyes today. So I spent a bit of time with it, straightened some perspectives, pulled up detail that had drawn me to the university building to begin with, made sure to keep the integrity of the flaming autumn colours framing the century old building.... and by the time I was done, I could think clearly again, ready to resolve my on-line issues... and even post on the blog after all.

Do you use your photography as therapy? Looking at my finished image transports me to the ramble I took that day, exploring the city, totally in my element, relaxed while I discovered new historic sights with the Nikon. And I feel better.

And so I'm off! I'm ready to take on the rest of the week now! It'll be great! But if you happen across a computer laying in a twisted pile inside a snowbank with the remains of a dozen 2x4's and the tire tracks of a large SUV that's backed over the same spot for the last hour, walk away and pretend you didn't see a thing.

Thanks. :)