Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Texture Tuesdays: ORANGE

When Kim Klassen announced Texture Tuesday's theme would be the color

I felt prompted to choose something unexpected.
I was clueless, what was waiting to be noticed.
I culled through  hundreds upon hundreds of photographs for anything with a hint of orange.
And then I knew I had made a good decision.

Vincent van Gogh

Van Gogh was living in Arles when the specter of his illness became more and more apparent. In January he suffered a delusional attack and suffered a self inflicted wound after painfully parting ways with Gauguin.

Burdened by abandonment, embarrassment, weak from his episodes and wounds he lived in fear of another attack.

The next episode came in mid February.
In May, he voluntarily entered the mental asylum of Saint-Paul-de-Mausole, fifteen miles from Arles in Saint-Remy-de-Provence.

This proved to be a very positive, empathetic choice. As he improved he was allowed to leave his room and paint about the grounds. 
Some of his greatest paintings are from this short span of time.
A few years ago, my family and I went to the St. Remy hospital. Today there are placards showing where he stood to paint the fields, buildings and flowers.
All is as it once was one hundred years ago.
His tiny room and treatment rooms are open for visitors.
Standing on the exact  ORANGE-RED tiles that he stood on day after day, I gazed at the view he saw every morning upon rising.
In the adjacent room stood coffin-like, peeling white-tin tubs that patients were forced to stay in for water therapy.


Feet stand upon the tiles next to Vincent's simple cot.
Awe and humility.
Turning to the left is the barred window,
his view
 of the fields
where he saw such beauty;
the wavering wheat fields, the gnarled olive trees
and the stone walls that contained his world.

One could smell the oil paint and linseed oil, feel the rough linen he painted on.

"The sun was pouring bright yellow rays on the bushes and the ground, a perfect shower of gold."
Vincent van Gogh

Friday, August 26, 2011

Does Fine Art Infuence Photography

For me this is a resounding YES!
Painting, sculpting all influence what I want to both photograph and to actually paint. 
It is a double-dip  Gift.
Kat Sloma invited us to visit galleries and art museums this week. We were to think about what we are attracted to and why. What captures our attention. Does or can art  influence our photography?
It is such a broad subject that I have chosen to narrow it down, way down and write several posts on differing points of view.
I would like to start by choosing a single painter, Pierre Bonnard, who has had an impact on me as an artist. I will never become weary of seeing Bonnard's work up close.
Bonnard could be interpreted as an 'impressionist' painter, except he rarely painted from life. He 'interpreted' his paintings through reconstruction...painting as his MIND saw it.
My favorite of his works are interiors, with shadows of people sitting around the perimeters.
His works are filled to overflowing with details. Which is what I want to focus on...details.

Can you find the woman in this idyllic scene? Note the careful positioning of food upon the table. 

The composition is pretty much dead center; but the heavy shadows reach to the right and the bottle to the left.

I find that I, too, like to take photos of the details and especially food. Some shots I set up, but most are more spontaneous, a remembrance of a delicious meal.

Note the heavy shadows on the table.

A fully filled frame, brilliant colors and textures.

Baby eggplants tumbled on a cloth, sun setting, deep shadows.

 The circular bowls are placed closely together. As I post this photo I see for the first time that almost everything is circular. The contrast being the checkered napkin.

 This shot shows a bowl of cantaloupe positioned in front of a painting..very circular with chopsticks pulling the two elements together. 

The next step for me is to take my photos and interpret into paintings.
These are large oil paintings with a common thread of food and congeniality.  They are composites of things I have experienced, seen or imagined. First through photography and influenced by artist's work I deeply admire.

Often a larger oil painting starts as a sketch. The sketches can be spontaneous or by looking through many photographs until I find something inspiring.

I have been truly blessed to have opportunities to experience with all of my senses, original art in galleries and museums through out America and abroad; studying art history; immersing myself in books of art.

All has had a large impact on my life....it does influence what and how I choose to paint and what I choose to photograph. 

Many of the photographs that I take, at that very moment of pushing down the shutter, I am thinking of how to interpret what I am seeing into a painting or sketch.

I hope I can find the time to give other examples....this is my favorite exercise that Kat has given our group.

May all who live along the Eastern corridor be protected as the hurricane approaches. You are in my thought and prayers. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Texture Tuesdays...Back to School

Seasons end. 
Time away from lessons dim.
Open ended days merge into schedules.
Pencils sharpened,  pads of paper
fill new back packs.

Organization prevails.
Study commences.

Around the  World
School is now in Session.

The Little First Timer

Somewhere, Anywhere, Everywhere learning is valued. 
But not all can have the privilege of learning to
These beautiful young girls, with their thick black braided hair, tied with pristine ribbons attend school in a small building on a farm. They play in the fields amongst the cattle.
They are robust, healthy, smiling and love to have
their photograph taken...well some of them. 

They are proud of their English, as they giggle and ask questions about movie stars and where we come from.

Education is the road map to a more productive life.
Someday all children will partake of this God given right for all.

This week's prompt on Tuesday Textures was school days. Numerous textures were used on these photos, all found on Kim Klassen

Kim has a generous heart. If you love textures, she gives them away as little presents several times a week. 
She is also starting new classes on Photoshop.
Her classes are excellent. I have learned so much.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Bit of Black Magic

When I take night time photos, I feel like I could use a bit of Magic, Black Magic.
Night time photography is so exquisite--magical, the velvety blues, black, grays with spotlights  of illumination,  faces catching a warm glow, reflections bouncing from structures creating cast shadows and ripples,
the same moon faces, from eons ago, smile down from heaven and if one is 
lucky, myriads of stars glitter away.
It isn't always easy to get a terrific shot,
despite all appropriate measures and technical know how.
I have much to learn. 
The next two weeks in Kat's class we are asked to give it our best in shooting night scenes. 

Here are a few of my night shots that bring back floods of memories from past travels.

click on photos to see larger image
Although it isn't technically night time, the sun is nearly gone and deep shadows are being cast. 
Note the pink reflections from the house dancing on the dark river and the gentleman's turban. 

The following three pictures are from dozens shot at an Indian festival. Men with deep sienna brown skin stood a top elephants, showing their fancy footwork and fetes of balance. I was jostled about like a ping pong ball by countless folks who were enjoying themselves and trying to get closer and closer to the elephants. They spoke a language I could not discern.  I, too was caught up in the frenzy of the celebration and flowed right along side them.

Unfortunately the photos are blurry. It isn't your eyes. This is the challenge of shooting in the dark with bright lights like shooting stars causing havoc with lens settings, people pushing and jostling, the impossibility to stand still to shoot a picture. Yes these are out of focus pictures BUT I will never discard them...technically they are  poor, but memory wise they are priceless as they take me right back where I stood, loving every minute of being where I knew I didn't belong but felt that I did. 
And that is one of the beauties of photography.

 The next few photos are shot in a well photographed area of Aix en Provence. Thousands have stood where I stood on ancient cobblestone streets and took in the atmosphere, congeniality, and thrill of being in a very well known travel destination.

Technically they leave a great deal to be improved on, but for me they were a thrill and it truly was as golden-lit as the photos show. A bit of a wonderland...and the ice cream was fantastic.

Note the moon hovering in the sky. 

And that is what is so beautiful about night photography; capturing the moon, stars, inky blue clouds, reflections of light and deep dark crevices and corners one does not notice in the light of day. 

Kat has graciously given us some pointers on night shooting. I intend to try them out....

 Subscribe to her newsletter and you will receive lots of information and ideas and updates on classes. 

I find that photographers are most gracious and willing to share their passions with amateurs like me.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Rules are Meant to be Broken

In our thought provoking E-course, Finding Your Eye, hard questions are posed. Today's was particularly soul stretching. 

What photography rules do I live by and are there any I can discard or renegotiate?

Since age 9 or so, I have taken photographs...from ants to antelope; seeds to sunsets; buds to trees, swimming pool to ski slopes. I had NO rules, just sheer freedom....YET!

Today, decades later, I consider myself  first a painter, next amateur writer, and last, truly amateur photographer. But something has happened: photography has crept up on me like a warm woolen blanket, and I find it a cozy place to be. I won't be surprised if someday I will reorder my list.  

Once I realized that I seriously wanted to 'learn' and to 'understand' photography my sister purchased me a very nice camera...way too much of a camera for someone like me. But I was thrilled and intimidated all rolled into one!  An expensive visit to Amazon,  ordering books that would surely TEACH me how to WORK this Big Mama, and  E courses that were never completed due to exterminating circumstances, suddenly found me besieged with information and words I had no idea what they meant: bokeh (I thought must be what you were AFTER you bought all this equipment!),  F-stop, aperture; manual, auto focus vs manual focus, DOF, metering, light sensors, numbers numbers numbers...I am allergic to numbers. I was on a fast train heading SOUTH.  

Self Imposed Rule # 1: if I read it. if I heard it. if I was taught it-- It was true and I had to LEARN "IT" FAST.   I couldn't begin to photograph anything if I didn't learn all the RULES and TECHNIQUES first

Breaking Rule #1: I had a choice to make, either break some of the self imposed rules or give up this dream of  photography. I determined that I do not have to conform to what a blog, photographer or text book author tells me.  I will study and explore but I will call the 'shots.'  Half  my photos out of focus, CALL it creativity. If subject matter is dead center, call it neat and tidy. If I cut off someone's head a new perspective on shooting pants and shoes.

I shall  learn by going BEHIND the rule not literally following the RULE. I will fall back on my years of work as a painter and apply what I learned from that medium to my camera. If it takes five more years to conquer all those f stops, so be it.
No one is going to care. 
No one is going to worry.  There is no competition.

I have another Self Imposed Rule, but I will save it for another post, besides it is a bit personal. But for today breaking Rule #1 is liberating.....and a lot for me to grasp.

Texture Tuesdays: a Movie we Love

Some challenges are easy
some challenges are,  well, CHALLENGING.
When I read that we were to texture a photo to represent
our favorite movie, I immediately thought of
Out of Africa
swoon swoon swoon

This movie inspired me to read Isak Dinesen's books.
Play the sound track until it warped.
And talked two friends' reluctant husbands, into seeing the movie.

Out of Africa is my all around FAVORITE movie. 

But it is not my CHOSEN movie to add texture to.

See if you can guess what movie these photos represent.

The book and subsequent movie,  I devoured (clue), in about
two days.

I yearned along with millions of other readers, to trace the heroine's footsteps.

The author spoke at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC. 
We joined several thousand women breaking our necks to get a peek at her....was she for REAL?

Little did I know as I listened to her weave her tale, that I would actually follow in her footsteps. 

Yes, a year ago we went with our son and his family
to Bali and in particular Ubud where  Elizabeth Gilbert lived for part of a year and where the movie was filmed,
starring Julia Roberts. 

Untouched photo collage.

Two textures were used. One was a photo I took of wooden batik stamps.

Nature's Beauty

On my art blog you will find two ORIGINAL PAINTINGS 
using the same two textures.

If you have a moment drop by.
And the movie is? 

Eat Pray and Love
elizabeth gilbert 

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Crossing the Threshold: Cambodia

I am still exploring my photographs
that invite the viewer to "look through a frame."
This frame can be arbitrary, unintentional or deliberate.
Naturally, one's eye enters and moves through
to the other side of the image. 

While browsing I found some
remarkably  "natural," not man made frames. 
I recall intentionally shooting them as you see them.
All photos are unedited.

We landed in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Eyes blinking from the brilliant sun, stepping out of the steel frame of the airplane door,
 we crossed the threshold into an ancient land recovering from war and genocide.

Each day we traveled through one more opening, stepped across one more threshold. And these experiences had a profound effect upon  my heart and perspective of spirituality.

The ancient capital of the Khmer Kingdom is the cultural and spiritual heart of Cambodia. 
It is monumental in scale, it can overwhelm one's senses.

Angkor is one of the wonders of the world. The Khmer civilization dates from AD 800 to 1300.

Restoration is snail paced. But I found those structures that are as time has placed them, the most humbling and moving.

My eyes (and camera)  constantly adjust from brilliant light to bottomless black, the filtering light from a Banyan tree breaking the contrast.

Restoration, yes important, safety concerns, ease of movement over rocky remnants but it seems so stringently sterile, too clean; like wiping a child's pudgy fingerprints from a window where in child-like wonder they just have viewed the tumbling snow.

This is the way I love viewing immenseness, looking for the tiny details. The little "cubby-holes" of the unexpected. 

What roots me to a place are the PEOPLE. After everything is explored, every door way crossed, it is the PEOPLE that matter most;
they hold and anchor my attention.

Kat  Exploring with a  Camera

Friday, August 12, 2011

Art and Apps

As I walk around the city, in a park, where ever the public gathers, I see two types of photographers.
One is using a larger DSL or digital camera
the second is using a cell phone camera.

Many of us use both!

 My i Phone is always near my side, a side pocket companion.
On my phone I have downloaded countless apps, (programs to manipulate the photos.) 
I have collected several books on i Phoneography for inspiration.

One day I found a really cool app, Auto Painter by Mediachance, (i tune app for apple phone.) Auto Painter is just that, it automatically takes your regular camera photos and recomposes them as though van Gogh, Paul Cezanne, or Frank Benson have painted them. 
Presto-- your photo dissolves then evolves into the style of these painters.

Okay, pretty cool. How about photographing a few canvas paintings and dolling them up with this app? It  honestly is magical manipulation. 

Come along.

The first photo will be the actual oil painting. The second image will be the manipulated photo. 

Pretty cool!


The van Gogh interpretation makes the apples look withered.


Oops we lost a boat on this one.

We have gone from summer to autumn in the click of an app.

Pretty fun-alicious! I like the manipulations well enough that I think I will choose one of the photos from which to paint.

Will end with a copy of a small section of an actual
van Gogh painting. 

Happy shooting no matter what type of camera you use! 
It is the image and memory that counts!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Texture Tuesdays

I have finally made the commitment to jump in with two bare feet and Big Mama (camera) to Kim's Texture Tuesday postings.
Now this is really putting myself out there. And I hope my humble beginnings will be seen as such...simply trying...
We can't "land" anywhere if we don't try.

I love to see the photographs that others have manipulated with textures and text. I have taken several of Kim's extraordinary classes (highly recommend) but I just never could find the time to commit to getting the process down so that it was FUN and not INTIMIDATING.
I am still working on the second word!

Join the fun, Funny Bunny grandchildren, a campfire and making s'mores. Used two of my every day photos.

I used several textures: Scratched Magic, Bee Keeper

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Crossing the Threshold

In a children's literature course 
I was greatly impressed by a theory that suggests children's classics and many of today's most popular books, (like Harry Potter)
have a running theme:
the protagonist comes to the edge of something safe then
 steps over into the unknown.
Harry and his friends, cross this safe threshold at the train station, emerging into the unknown world on the other side. And this is where the adventure begins---on the other side.

I am discovering that photography intentionally or intuitively shot, is similar to literature:
Through the lens we look beyond the threshold. It is a simple composition technique. The lens guides the eye beyond the immediate to the unknown. What is on the other side, around the corner?

The lens forms a FRAME around what it captures.

 In Kat's Exploring with a Camera, the next two weeks are to be spent looking for frames, frames within a frame, crossing the threshold. 
As you view these photos, you  might ask? What is beyond the threshold, the frame?  Do I see a story? Do I wonder? Is my imagination peeked? What is just beyond my reach?

Can you sense the season? the place?

What is at the top? Which way do I go?

An unusual FRAME, a reversed point of view.

Where is the viewer coming FROM, how far will they explore?

Frames within Frames.

Like the Children of Narnia, would you like to step into this wall of glass and see what is beyond?