Thursday, November 16, 2006

Controversy means great things are afoot

Lately there have been a series of heated debates in print, blog or other forum regarding silver vs digital imaging, and horrors~ use of computers by photographers. The really ugly stuff starts when the whole "digital art" thingy gets into the equation.

Purists moan regarding the loss of film and silver based paper...yes its happening but manufacturers do that when the market changes. ITs one of the consequences of a free market system, get a grip and deal with it. The manufacturers, Japanese in particular continue to invest tons into silver based product for the professional market. Makes sense put your efforts where the money is.

I bailed on silver based when digital was able to rival the quality and beat it at price. Let's face facts your 4gig CF card pays for itself the first time you fill it up...'cause if it were film for those 1000 images the processing bill would have killed you. I switched as I am cheap and can get the same image for less dineros. Simple as that.

Today after reading a few blogs and a letter to the editor on one of the photo magazines I subscribe too I got to thinking. What irked me was this photographer pontificating out in the sticks in "conker creek, TN" who made the switch from digital as there were no labs around. Fine can live with that. The she wrote "I have found the beauty of actually learning to use my camera - not Adobe Photoshop. I use my Cannon EOS 20D (a little elitist snob appeal??? my comment not hers) as I did my 35MM, and my work is wonderful. The best part is that it's "mine"..."

So while on my walk and enjoying the beautiful weather I thought a lot about this debate. A good image is one that has good composition, if that isn't there no amount of fiddling in an editing program will change that. You can't mask bad composition.

No program will ever let you doctor a bad image where you can call it "pseudo art" as she termed it. An image works or not based on the skill of the artists using their medium of choice. Painters do it, graphic artists do it and now digital artists do it. IF the image can't stand on its own no amount of effect can fix it. You can't apply filters without an understanding of why it works, what you want to convey with it. Couldn't do it as a painter underpainting, can't do it as a photographer for the same reasons. There has to be a method to your madness with an understanding of the final result....that comes through education, experience and practice. And in the end if the composition sucks so will the final product.

I love the realm of digital art. IT allows me to take photographs and do things with the image that it took me ages to do in the old world of dip and dunk in the lab.

So while enjoying a glorious sunny, 85 degree day in November along the San Gabriel River I broke out the Che-ez Snap digital camera and filled up its little 25 image card with these fun little .3 mega pixel images. As I've said before...contrast control is poor, sharpness is poorer, color rendition is sketchy on a good day. It does however make you focus on composition. Which has been a theme of review and focus for me lately.

Add in the camera's artsy fartsy recording of the world as I meander through it, those images are ripe for conversion into purely "impressionistic" pieces. And that I did...

Enjoy "Bike Path" and "Duarte Bridge" for what they are. Exercises in impressionistic focus on pure composition. One works because of the sweeping lines made by man (man vs nature theme snuck in too) that forces your eye to meander through the image. In the Bridge its hard edge of man vs soft of nature forcing you to look into the image. Different composition techniques making images work. Digital art with a camera works, now leave me out of the silver vs digital debate. Here's the final Images "AND THEY ARE MINE"!!!
(If I could blow out a raspberry right now I would)

A composition is all about the flow

Working out some images I shot in the Bishop Creek Canyon area of the Sierra's I thought a lot about texture and energy flow. Of course this time of year there is color, lots of it which makes it even more fun to wander about and just shoot.

Autumn is a fun time to shoot as you have big bold blasts of yellows and red to create contrast and visual tension in an image. Add in natural movement of water, clouds etc., and you can set up an image that has a lot of tension and movement to stimulate your brain. How you funnel that energy is only part of how you convey what you saw at the time to the viewer.

Another factor you have to look at really closely is how you expose your image. The color of light changes during the day, if you want your yellows and reds to really pop shoot early morning or late afternoon. Where possible back light those trees and let them take on a glow that really makes them pop.

Exposing all of that is where skill comes in. Sure, you could just let your camera take an average meter of the scene and your image will more often than not be acceptable. I shot a lot of the leaves and trees bracketing 1/2 to 2/3 stop over/under what the meter said to make sure I kept detail in both highlight and shadow. I metered off the leaves themselves as I wanted to ensure maximum detail and saturation, bracketing to get the other parameters with in reason.

The end result..."Bishop Creek" which I shot later afternoon as the first winter storm (yes it snowed that afternoon) was crossing up and over the mountains around me. I got an energetic composition due to the rushing water and contrast between the cool blues of the clouding over sky against the vibrant leaves of the aspens. Even the few lone sequoia's added in contrast with their dark greens and stout upright thrusts. Am happy with the result...enjoy!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Framing elements make the composition work. Whether deliberate in a studio or in the wild a composition has many parts. Its how these work together determines whether your final image stops people in their tracks and draws them in or they simply skim it over and move on.

How you use negative space, shadow vs highlights, textures impact the final product. How it all balances to create tension or relaxation are in the photographers control. Ansel Adams took balancing those items and by manipulating first in the camera, then later in the printing process adjusted how the elements within the final image he shared with us.

The subject matter often gives you ways to "frame" it with the elements around it. On a walk through the forest its the dark shadows that make the brighter elements stand out more. Contrasting texture in nature is there to help frame as well...rough edges of a stream bed vs the soft curves of the water tumbled rocks, the soft waves of grass in a field against jagged peaks in the hills on the horizon. In our cities its the hard edges of the building framing off a garden or contrasting with the flowing curves of the clouds above. So many ways to bring visual excitement to the viewer.

Of course its this excitement to the brain that brings the viewer into your image. My exploration of man vs nature continues. Elements of man framing those of nature, man's tension added to nature, the largesse of one against the other. It is all about how you compose that makes the image work and what element becomes the star.

A couple from the Santa Monica Pier exploring the relationships with different approaches to composition. First is "Watchers" which explores the steady hard edges of manmade elements against the flowing energy of the waves and weathered wood. The other is "Pier Shops" which explores the color and texture of some elements against a flawless blue sky. In the latter the natural elements add texture even though the construction created hard edges. One is an example of relaxed composition, the other of an energetic composition. Both work just for different reasons.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Relationships matter

Today at Santa Monica Pier I continued my exploration of manmade vs nature. What better place than an amusement park at the ocean (especially on an 80 degree day in November...Had to rub it in a bit as most of the US has winter this time of the year).

Seriously an amusement park is an terrific place to go for comparing what man does vs nature. In this environment structures take on extreme form and color creating drama. This is done to make things look faster and more exciting than they really are. Compare it to nature. Here there is sublety in the mid-day sky.

One such area that contrasts man and nature is at the roller coaster. There is the soft form of the flag being blown by a soft breeze against a brilliant sky contrasting these incredibly strong forms and vibrant colors on the coaster track. Its this contrast that intrigues the eye and gives me fodder for exploration.

For your viewing pleasure...."Flag"

Size Matters

Or at least it does to me these days. Its about exploring shapes and sizes comparing man to nature. Who knows where this theme came from but it has been fun exploring on both levels.

An interesting theme of late is returning to a few of my older themes. Back in my college days there was the whole "full frame" shooters going on in the fine art side of the photo department. Even though I was a "commercial" track student I still enjoyed what they were doing and used it for myself.

Essentially the only rule this group worked on was that the whole frame from your negative had to be printed. It forced you into clean compositions. No cropping was allowed...ever. Several of my friends were very involved in the "full frame society" which was an informal club, more like an artistic movement within the department. The negatives were never printed using the metal masks, but in hand made cardboard masks that included the surrounding information from your negative on the final print. Those gobbly gooky numbers and letters became graphic elements in their own right as part of the final image.

It was something that appealed to me then and applied it to how I started shooting. Only on the absolute rarest of occasions will you ever see me "crop" out anything. To paraphrase a popular ad theme these days "what's in the frame stays in the frame". Without realizing it until recently I still shoot and print full frame.

On a recent walk about I stumbled across a school yard scene. It had the elements that struck me...size and man vs nature. So I shot it, and with the help of photoshop removed elements, add some impressionistic touches to others then melded it all back together again. The result...exploration of large vs small, man vs nature in "Schoolyard"

Today is shooting at the beach. Next week if I get my living room painted....up onto old Route 66 between San Bernardino and the Cajon Pass.

Friday, November 03, 2006 Aztec through 12/31/06

Oops...I almost forgot. I still have 3 pieces hanging at the Aztec Gallery located at 311 W Foothill Blvd, Monrovia. The gallery is open 5PM-9PM on Friday and Saturdays 12PM-7PM.
The gallery is a co-op so the artists showing all take turns staffing the gallery and answering questions about their art and those others showing there.

During the other days of the week you can call the Monrovia Art Festival Association at (626) 256-3124 to start making an appointment for a private showing that fits your schedule. The answering service will put you in contact with one of the members on the Executive Committee who will help arrange for an artist to open up the gallery when you can come in to the the art there. (It will likely be me as I am most flexible and closest to the gallery).

I have 3 pieces there. They represent a few of the themes I've been exploring for a while. They are "Shropshire Lass" a traditional photograph, "Half Dome" in an impressionistic watercolor photographic style, and "Alexander Rose" a hybrid watercolorphotograph and digital image.

Until then I promise to get out and explore the old route 66 relics, and not just those local icons here in Monrovia.

Great Art, Free food and booze....

OK..I had to get your attention somehow. Beyond art the usual big draw seems to be free food and booze. (We can hope that Trader Joe's, corporate hq here in Monrovia comes through for us again).

The Details....Focus One Gallery, 404 E Huntington Drive, Monrovia, CA. Thursday November 9 from 5PM to 8PM. (Sorry its not later but this Monrovia and early bedtimes are the rule). It is located at the SE corner of California and Huntington Drive. From there exit either Mountain Avenue or Myrtle avenue and head north about 2 blocks to Huntington Drive. From Myrtle the Gallery is 4 blocks east on Huntington. From Mountain the Gallery is 6 blocks west. Really easy to find. Ample free parking. Did I mention Free food and FREE booze?

Anyway, my newest piece, "Bodie Blue Window" will be hanging at the Gallery through December 31, 2006.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Artists Reception ~ Art at the Aztec

Consider this your invitation to the Artists reception 10/28/06 at the Historic Aztec Hotel here in Monrovia from 5-8 PM. No invitation needed, no RSVP needed. Just show up and enjoy an evening of art, munchies and cocktails with us at the Aztec. You can't miss the gallery as it is right on Foothill Boulevard about 3 blocks west of Myrtle Avenue. For you mapquest fiends the actual address is
Aztec Hotel
311 West Foothill Boulevard
Monrovia, CA 91016

I'll be there as I have pieces in the gallery as well as displayed on the sidewalk that evening as part of the event. It will be here that the newest piece from the Bodie series will be unveiled. It will be a large piece (20X30 image in a 24X36 frame). It is one I had a lot of fun working on.

The teaser thumb of "Bodie Blue Window" is attached for your viewing pleasure.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

I was framed I tell ya!

Pun intended. The show last weekend was terrific. Not often you get to see first hand someone's reaction to your work first hand and non stop.

I was very excited that a lot of my newer works were hitting home and stopping people in their tracks, drawing them into my space for closer inspection. All told by the end of the weekend I know that the meandering path of exploring styles and exploiting the digital image is working for someone besides me. That kind of feedback is priceless. Very motivating when you have that kind of feedback.

Why so long to write in here again? Well I picked up 3 commissions for larger images of what I was showing. The first is framed and ready for delivery to the Balder family in Temecula. It is a large sized print (just under 24X36 inches) of one of my favorite images. It struck a cord with them as they both grew up in Arizona and it reminded them of where they came from. The piece is "Mt Charleston Storm" and it was posted here earlier this summer. A piece I am most pleased with and certainly gains a lot in a very large format print. for some new stuff very soon as I was invited by the director of Graphics and Printing at Santa Anita Racetrack to go in and just shoot to my hearts content, the horses and the art deco structure at the place. She saw my work at the show and liked it enough to extend the invitation. Wahoo...does it get better than this?

Stay tuned as soon as I finish up the commissions I am out shooting again!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Art from the Heart

As sappy as it may be but I firmly believe that sharing your art is as important as making a buck. Its about giving back to the community.

This weekend is the Monrovia Art Festival Association's biggest event and fund raiser. MAFA is a non-profit that donates its proceeds every year towards art education in the public schools. I firmly believe that art is a communication tool that children need as much as any other tool they are given in school. With art being cut from the elementary schools in California I am very proud to be a part of the group that earns money to give these kids this important tool. (MAFA has given nearly 100K to fund art education over the last several years).

So....this year I am donating "Old Rose" from my watercolors collection for the auction at the "Celebrate the Arts" taking place this weekend, October 7 - 8, in Library Park in "Old Town Monrovia".

"Old Rose" started as a digital image. I pulled out the rose, worked it out to soften lines and create a painterly effect, changed the background to make the rose pop better, reassembled the image and printed it on soaking wet watercolors paper. The final image is different than what you see here as the inks do float, bleed when printed giving a very painterly effect.

Enjoy the image, if you are in the park this weekend look me up!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

silly camera...serious imagery

Back in the day, specifically my SIU-C years there were 2 camps in the photo department. The fine-art group and the commercial group. I walked the fence on both though technically my focus at the time was the commercial side. Getting a BS sounded better was the logic at the time.

There was a movement way back then to use a camera called the "Diana" which took horribly crude photo's. The fine art group ran with it and did some really amazing things with it. Flash forward some 25 years and I found its replacement the"Che-ez" by Snap. Horrible color rendition, horrible contrast, poorly fixed focus on a plastic lens but it never leaves my belt loop. Always on the ready for what strikes my fancy as I meander through life.

It really suits my impressionistic exploration in some ways better than the EOS 20D I usually use on my shoots.

Today I happened by a local landmark, actually a pretty slick icon from Route 66's hey day getting rehabbed. Much of the building is getting painted its original colors...the sign, neon of course, is still untouched. Add in a few clouds and the whole man vs nature thing is up there to explore. Since I always have the Che-ez on my belt loop I snapped of a few frames.

Enjoy "hotel"...worked over images from the Che-ez.

P.S....stay tuned as I have still not decided which image will be donated for the silent auction this week to benefit art education the Monrovia Schools. Will post here once I decide.

Friday, September 22, 2006

I must be crazy ~queue up the gnarls barkley and let her rip....

Ok, I still haven't learned not to volunteer. Its been a busy week with show prep. Still working on a few projects for the Celebrate the Art's next month sponsored by the Monrovia Art Festival Association. Of course I am showing, but am also coordinating the event. This event is the largest of the fund raisers sponsored by MAFA with the proceeds used to fund art education in the Monrovia Schools. Near and dear to my heart, yes. Watch here for a teaser on the piece I will be donating to this years auction at the event.

Too much on my old dance card, but at least it keeps my brain ticking.

I continue to explore man vs nature themes. The Aztec Hotel which I wrote about recently has some interesting things going on with that theme. This is a massive structure that much of it has very biomorphic shapes capped with very hard edged shapes. The Brass Elephant is part of the hotel. A colorful venue serving up libations initially to the Hollywood Glitteratti during the 1930's (secretly during prohibition) on their way to Palm Springs. The Bar still much of its original stuff inside and will be restored eventually.

The impressionist within has been running wild the last few days with the Aztec. The massive scale of the Mayan themed decoration on the hotel is unique and is on such a grand scale. No matter how you look at it is very man made, not machine made but made by man, by hand. Layers of stucco and concrete built up until the artisans handiwork changed the face of the building. It shear size can't even be softened by a cloudy sky.

So today's exploration was just that machine vs man vs nature. The Brass Elephant was the subject and the print is my final exploration. My exploration involves altering elements to soften nature, had a man made edge to what man did, and sharpen what was done by man. All with the intent to allow each element express itself as a part of the whole image. I won't bore you with the technical stuff but the end result speaks for itself.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Restoring History

The original intent of photography was to preserve the world as it was, things happened, mainly artists got a hold of the tool and it began to record much more. The advent of the PC and digital imaging has opened a whole new world for recording and then retelling what you saw.

In Monrovia we have many unique spots with bits and pieces of history that are being restored and preserved. I'm lucky to have met Kathy Reece-McNeill who owns and is restoring the Aztec Hotel here to is former glory. With the help of the Route 66 Preservation groups I am certain she will succeed. I am equally lucky that she has allowed me to begin to photograph and record this treasure left from Route 66 and preserve is memory and focus on its future too.

Today I spent some time around the Aztec shoot it. Its a magnificent space to just be in. Honestly it is such a treasure I feel almost like a voyeur walking in at some great old grand dame's bath time. I really want to do the place justice and convey a bit of the history and character of the place.

With this in mind I continue to explore and develop my impressionistic views of the world and how I convey them to you. This image started as always with a digital image that with the help of Photoshop and Paintshop ProI destructed it and reconstructed it into a new image. I like it, the angle is right the details kept and those blurred gave the sense of history and warmth I wanted.

Enjoy..."Aztec Front Marquee".

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Hundreds Hung Downtown LA

Frazgo was the last hung....that happens when they do it in alpha order.

Tonight was the opening of the LA Center for Digital Art's annual Snap to Grid show. Interesting concept....nominal fee, no jury all art is hung. The center prints it all and hangs it in a grid. Its a slice of everything imaginable. Unfortunately its downtown LA so go before dark...unless of course you like living life on the edge and don't mind being surrounded but 2 legged vermin begging for spare change. Once again my pocket change went to the the dude that told me no bs...he needed it for his drugs. I can respect honesty....sheesh.

Anyway the piece I submitted is one of my experimental pieces that is part of the reality bubble series I have been doing for the last year. Short version is that I rip apart an image, some elements are left very real then wrapped in a bubble. The remaining image is altered into a sketch like rendering, the bubbles are floated back in with theatrical highlighting and other illustrative machinations to bring about a "reality bubble" or that bit of reality that drifts into our dreams. The inspiration in and of itself came about from a bout of migraines I had last year where reality drifts into a shrinking bubble as your head throbs harder. The twist now is that reality is returning and forcing itself upon the dream side of ones brain waves.

The piece chosen is titled INRI and is of a cross at the Calico ghost town cemetery.

So...go see the show while you can as it runs now through October 7, 2006.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Strange static in the air

Its monsoon season here in so cal and we have thunderstorms in the air. A total So Cal thing is the solo palm tree up in the sky. Blasted things are worse than bamboo for taking over a horizon line.

Maybe its the static from the storm, the impending full moon tonight, or the fires in the area adding haze to the sky but I had this total impressionistic painters thought when I grabbed this storm working into my area from the desert.

Its a toss up which of the impressionists influenced me the most Manet, Monet, or Seraut. (Bet you thought I'd say Manny, Moe or Jack...but that would be too cheap and a commercial plug). Each of those painters, Manet in his later years and Seraut a whole lot influence me. Each had a way of using abstraction to make a statement about the scene they captured so it was more emotional to the viewer than a pictorial regurgitation initiating some sort of aperient reaction to a realistic depiction of nature.

So after 8 hours of data input and work on a local non-profits October show the impressionist within needed to escape for a bit. (Am still trying to restrain the inner smart aleck and juvenile delinquent and just may purposely let that fail shortly).

I shot a storm passing through yesterday with my blogger. What struck me at the moment was the palm tree and wondered what it would be like done in an impressionists view. I snapped it with my "blogger" the che-ez snap and worked it a bit. The end result was "September Storm"...enjoy.....

Friday, September 01, 2006

Inspiration and motivation

Through an old college friend, Ruth Waytz, I have met an incredible artist. It's her husband "Coop". His work is very illustrative in nature with a really erotic edge. Nice guy, totally unassuming who is quite the guru of pop culture past and present. (Read Coop's Blog, Positive Ape Index to see what he's about in greater detail)

How does this inspire or motivate? As a newer artist it is frustrating to forge your way among critics and not see results as fast as you like. Coop is proof that if you remain honest to your art and continually try to explore new ways of communicating what you see you will find an audience. I need that focus as us newbies need something to keep us going until our art finds its followers.

The unashamed commercial plug.....Coop has a new show "Brand Recognition" at Sixspace Gallery running 9/9 - 10/7. Sixspace is located at 5803 Washington Blvd, Culver City, CA. (The entrance is at the rear of the building...guess that's an important tidbit to know). So go see his show and be totally amazed!!!

Coop got a terrific write up in the alternative magazine that hit the racks here in LA this last week....pic of it included here. He made the cover!!!! May not be the cover of the Rolling Stones but close enough as its on street corners all over LA right now...and its free!

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Bring on the Clash...London Calling

Its been an amazing summer. First inspiration for new images while on road trips with a thick layer of ego frosting in the form of gallery recognition. OK, I'm still a starving artist, but at least I'm gaining some notoriety lately. I had sitting in my "spam folder" of all invitation from a gallery in London asking me to post 8 images on their website in an artists gallery. Its a juried invitation and how they found me and my website, who knows but thank god someone sees it!

So...after much debating with me, myself and id, I posted my 8 images at Saatchi. Enjoy. Who knows who will see them, what they'll do with them or for me, but at least its recognition. You can see me there at:

Where will I go with all of this? Who knows I have many paths to meander and the only you can count on is I will take the one of greatest curiosity. I have a whole series of things I want to do in the Aztec Hotel in black and white as impressionist paintings to deconstruct and reassemble.

And on the topic of deconstruction and reassembly...Poppy Road taken out at the California Poppy Preserve in Lancaster spring of 2005.

Getting Nudged

Inspiration and ideas come from a variety of sources. This morning a neighbor happened to see me and dropped off a DVD he had on Ansel Adams. Its a biography of him and his work, lots of interviews with him, his family and admirers. Its from a PBS documentary and really well done once you get past the droning music and the whole PBS agenda.

The new thing I learned about the man is that he was also a prolific writer and wrote over 5,000 letters to the editor on a variety of topics as he believed that is a way to mould and direct a social agenda. This documentary really focused on the Sierra Mountains of California primarily Yosemite down to Kings Canyon and Sequoia. They spent just enough time one of my favorite photographs if his, "Moonrise Hernandez" which illustrated nicely how man fits into the bigger world around us to make the entire DVD worth watching.

This documentary brought for a lot of information about the man, much of it new or at least a new interpretation of what he did and why. He saw the world different than us in so many respects. Some of it because as the documentary put it, he was likely a "hyperactive" child and jumped quickly and very deeply into things that interested him. In his work you see his changes in themes over the years and how he worked them in his images. No matter what phase of his career you look at it is obvious he is the great meanderer of the fine art photographers always purposely wandering about and sharing his vision of the world. Meanders I think are by their nature, hyperactive children that luckily never out grew it or had it beat out of them.

Early work had a very high horizon line forcing you to look at the landscape itself, later had the lower horizon line forcing you to soak in the landscape and sky together and draw comparisons regarding the greater space of it all. The one thing the latter years brought out that influences me heavily was the use of darkened sky's to illustrate the depth of space. I tend to go a bit further most of the time and shoot not only later in the day where the depth of color (or shades of gray) is so much greater, but prefer to have clouds. Clouds for me are the ultimate piece of nature that we can't control and add so much drama it helps me illustrate better my feel for the time and space as I meandered through it.

So much for the trivia, I am always amazed how well he manipulated the image at the camera level through exposure and developing, then in the darkroom to get the final image he shared with us.

I have the PC and a bank of images from this summers road trips that move me when done in black and white. So as I meander down the road of black and white I still explore the relationships of man vs nature, or nature's elements with each other. "Pumice Road" and "Mosquito Range Treeline" are today's work.

Pumice Mine Road

Mosquito Range Treeline

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Been a busy and terrific week

Like I said a few days ago the best validation of your work striking a cord is when you are invited to show at a gallery or online gallery. An unusual chain of events starting in July ended with an invitation to set up a "studio" (guess that would be an electronic studio???) with a new group calling them selves

On there I have a variety new images, several you have seen here of the last few months grouped by theme. Each theme of course is nice group of images that follow one of the many paths I have explored in over the last couple of years. The end result is some work I am very proud of.

I still need to update my own web site and decide what direction I'll go with it. One project at a time. Having finally finished cataloging and doing "stuff" with the image back log I have had from the last few roadtrips I need to take a break.

One image not showing on the site is from last year I shot while up in the Loomis area, enjoy "Plums" ~ now go out and get your other fruits and vegies for the day!

Monday, August 14, 2006

Cross eyed and tired

But...wahooo I finished sorting, cataloging and working on the images from my Colorado trip.

I swear I must have Adult ADHD given how long it took me to get through these pictures and get them all done. The number of directions I went with the images tells me I am either unfocused or have to much energy to corral. You tell me.

Anyway, the Black and White stuff has gotten the most energy devoted to it the last day or so.
These 2 images are from the Fryer Hill area north of Leadville Colorado. Its a pretty easy to get to location...with a car even as the majority is paved or hard pack gravel.

Enjoy the latest two images.....

G.O.K what got me going with this one!

Busy working through the back log of July pics I found this one and only remember how funny it struck me at the time when I stumbled across an ancient farmhouse with a travel trailer next to it. It was like one of those husband/wife snapshots taken as they approach being older than dirt. This struck me funny as it has almost an "American Gothic" feel to it in a May/December romance sort of way.

Enjoy the pic. Hopefully it will give you a chuckle too. Back to work as I still have way too many pictures to review, catalog and do something with. With luck I'll at least have the backlog taken care of this week.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Playing it straighter

Well...If that is a word its what I'm doing tonight. After working on several more impressionist photo's I meandered down the course of old timey fade black and white on a few images to see what happened. I liked it.

Of course I can't leave well enough alone and tweaked a few things. Now if I can find a good glossy photopaper that mimics the base warm tones of the old silver based Kodak Portrait papers of years ago to keep my whites from going pure I'd be happy. (The pc can only do so much, c'mon someone out there must have a warm toned inkjet paper out there...first one to market it I'm in line for a few packs to test the waters).

Anyway...I have worked on a few more of the still lifes from Bodie this evening. Enjoy the results on "nursery" and "final game racked"

Invitations mean validation

No matter how you cut it being an artist isn't easy as you have your Ego and Id on the line. Every piece you complete you have your level of comfort in the final result somewhere between a failed mess and elements of what you believe to be your personal best masterpiece.
Regardless of how you feel you have to be prepared for the reactions or lack thereof by the viewer.

Around the campfire the other night we were talking about the stupid things that comes out of peoples mouths. I remembered a quote, attributed to Mark Twain that went something along the lines of "It is better to remain silent and thought a fool than to speak up and remove all doubt". Art critics need to learn that one, and until then I'll continue to work on a thicker skin. Anyone one into assisting me with this project in self flagellation?

On that note, damn the critics and full speed ahead. I am exploring several avenues of late, most are in the impressionistic vein. Wonder what Freud would have to say about that...A trained photographer deconstructing reality and reconstructing into a new image of the world and new set of emotions in the process. Better than a heavy dose of SSRI and cheaper than an hour on the couch - simply reinvent the world around you.

The good thing is that on occasions you get invitations to join new galleries where you least expect it. A new group saw my recent nomination as artist of the month at the electronic cottage arts site and invited me to join them after they viewed my work there. (I really need to update the site and soon as I have a lot more and different stuff up to show). So there you go, validation is good, especially when it means you can drop your guard a bit and do what you love doing!

A few of the images I worked on today were just that - reinventing what I saw and pushing the envelope on how I present what I saw. To be truthful the trip to Bodie wound up being about shooting with the intent to breakdown and reassemble the final image.

One of the images was a dusty old bowl of buttons in a window. I flashed back to being a little kid visiting my Grandma Jasovec's house in the woods outside of Ely, Minnesota. On a windowsill in her kitchen she had a jar of buttons where loose ones were tossed in the event she needed one. Amazing how one image on the other side of the country can make you flash back to one from when you were a kid (even more amazing was the trivial thing it brought back into focus).

Another building I spent a lot of time on was the old Bodie church. You can tell it was a church, but now its shell is there, the stained glass windows removed and the hole boarded in, the cross missing from the steeple. Hollow.

Anyway enjoy the images "buttons and basin" and "Bodie Church"

Friday, August 11, 2006

Road Tripping.....

I just got back from nearly a week of shooting in the Eastern Sierra's, mostly in and around the June Lake area. I went off on my own a lot and saw some amazing things, some revisited and others totally new.

One of the side trips this week took us up to Bodie, Ca which was an old gold mining town that eventually went bust and everyone moved away. Sometime in the 1960's it was turned into a state park which resulted in its preservation as a pretty accurate time capsule of life in the late 1800's until the early 1900's. Somehow this "ghost town" escaped the commercialization like Calico and as a result has a very haunting feel to it as you walk about looking at how folks lived some 100 years ago.

I don't know why I have a facination with the ghost towns, but I do and enjoy exploring whenever I can. Maybe its that very haungting feeling about treading in an area that has outlived its time here only leaving its shell like some pupa that has completed its metamorphasis.

Of course this aura of life past is something I enjoy exploring with my images and the transformation from a photo into one of my watercolor photographs. Bodie was one of those jackpot destinations that gave me much to work with and ponder how I wanted to communicate what I saw as I explored it. Certainly its been fodder tonight for a series of my more impressionistic watercolor photos.

Of course this week leaves me with nearly 2500 images to catalog and work on the those that taunt me the most. Somehow I promise to get my website updated soon...maybe an entire chapter to ghost towns?

Enjoy these images... "Bodie Clunker" and "Assayers Window"

Saturday, August 05, 2006

time flies...

Well, time goes faster in the middle of mayhem. Moved into the new kitchen...yeah...started demo of another bathroom so that left me on the fly unpacking, ordering new tile etc.,. That left me no time at all the last 10 days to do anything with the 1,000 images left from CO to catalog.

Barely enough time to get packed for a road trip with the neighbors up to June Lake, Mono Lake, Bodie and of course Mammoth tomorrow. I promise I'll be better about updating and sharing when I get back.

Tonight was the August Art Walk on Myrtle here in Monrovia. At least it wasn't gawd awful hot like it has been the last few weeks. Lots of people milling about so it was a good night.

A couple of my prints on display at the Art Walk.....

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Playing in the Zone

Actually the Zone here refers to a theory of how to expose your film to get maximum contrast with clean whites and detail in the shadow. I am so glad I paid attention on that theory since I have discovered that digital sensors have a pretty narrow range and tend to be contrasty like old slide films rather than the great latitude and range negative films had. It helped a lot too to learn the bracket functions and a few other tricks on with my digi to record the scenes more on how I wanted them to print rather than let the camera do a simple meter and risk losing a lot of information. (Shooting in raw mode also makes it easier to control the final print but that's a whole 'nother set of 'splaining I don't want to get into, suffice it to say shooting in the raw is not crawling around the rocks nekkid).

While in Colorado last week the urge to shoot in B&W struck me on more than a few occasions and I got to explore the Zone System using a few of the manual controls on the "creative" side of the digi's control dial. Fun place to play, I just wish it didn't need to have so many menus to switch through for something as simple as bracketing an exposure). All that aside I think its mountains that bring out the inner Ansel in me.

I explored several of the ghost towns around Leadville, CO on my own the first few days. Pretty amazing stuff that slipped right into my exploration of nature vs man made that has intrigued me a bit the last few years. Somehow having a car on dirt roads just isn't conducive to exploring too far up the mountain, maybe the traction control light kept popping on or its just me being a chicken. (I doubt AAA would have rescued me if I had really gotten into trouble).

Luckily we found a really great 4X4 tour company that took me the places I wanted to go. If you are ever in Central CO and need such a service I highly recommend DeeHive in Leadville, CO. Our driver loaded us into an old Suburban and hauled us up into the Mosquito Range for some incredible views and equally incredibly well preserved abandoned mines. We were often above the tree line (about 12,000 feet) and could literally touch the thunderheads as they crossed over us. Our driver also gave us a pretty good running history, commentary and rumory gossip about the characters that started up the mines in the 1880's. Interesting stuff there maynard no matter how you want to spin.

So much for the background information. What I really liked about Dee Hive was their tailoring the tour to what we wanted to see and the drivers no problem with stopping on a crumbly cliff so I could jump out and get some pictures.

As your reward to my blathering enjoy these 2 pics shot while playing in the Zone. The first is the "Johnny Mine" where John Brown and his wife, "The Unsinkable Molly Brown" made their fortune. The latter picture is of "Finn Town" where the immigrants from Finland settled to work the mines.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Relaxed and Chilled

Good way to sum up the morning. Got back from a week in the Leadville, CO area for my folks 50th. Interesting old mining town way up in the middle of the Rockies. Incredible scenery, great old mines and trails all over the place to explore. No, not ready to leave LA as that place has winter...There was snow even on the peaks around us and the wild flowers were only now starting to bloom. Not ready to back it in and play Rocky Mountain High in the background either.

The shooting was incredible. I explored all sorts of things, went up dirt roads with the car that I probably should have had a 4X4 to get into them better. Leadville has some 600 abandoned mines and those provide some pretty stark contrasts between man and nature, a theme I continue to explore. I now have some 1500 images to sort through and somehow get cataloged and printed for the Art Walk this Saturday on Myrtle Avenue here in Monrovia.

A teaser of one image I downloaded and worked on last night - "Abandoned Mine Shack"

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Busy - sums up the week so far.

Its one of those weeks where the coffee jitters only speed up the brain into overdrive and you need it as there is so much going on. Between remodel going awry (your general really is only as good as his subs...and these knuckleheads need constant supervision) and trying to pack for vacation my dance card is way too full.

I've really been exploring the impressionistic side whenever I get the chance. I have been combining it with my exploration of shadow and shape mostly.

Earlier this week I went for a hike along the river at sunset. Knowing the long shadows and glowing red light at the end of the day was the start of a good recipe for warm and fuzzy photographs. Toss in the full moon and I have more to work with. I've now added a 3rd program to the mix for working images before I put them on the wet watercolor paper. Virtual Photographer is an interesting plug-in as it emulates the nature of traditional film, papers and films.

Anyway a couple of images that I am happy with are"Azusa Canyon Moonrise" and "San Gabriel River Moonrise"...

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Hot, tired and inspired

What a weekend. Scratch that..What a week. In the last week I've installed at 2 galleries, done an Art Walk and helped host an artists reception.

Aside from the usual nonsense in life, gallery openings still make me a bundle of raw energy and nerves. Wondering what I did will or will not impact people, the old merchant in me (I did retail management for some 8 years in one of my career sidetracks) wonders if I have the right mix and have it merchandised correctly.

This week a cousin of mine, Ed Labernik who is quite the accomplished watercolor artist dropped me a note. He wrote: "... They don't call us starving astists for nothing but the recognition is always nice. You have some fabulous work on your website, the watercolor photography is most interesting, indeed, but the impressionistic work is truly outstanding. I've always held the impressionistic painters in my highest esteem, I wish I had the guts to paint like them..." (Sorry Ed, I am certain you didn't expect to be quoted here but it put me on a path of discovery today- to the reader of this blog, I am sparing you readers the request for his Mom's donut recipe even though it will put a krispy kreme to shame). Of course the odd twist in all of this is that Ed is a watercolor artist that does beautiful detailed paintings that have the look of photo-realism, I am a photographer that creates impressionistic images in his pictures. Go figure the genetic twists in our gene pool to come up with those trait twists. But I digress....

Back to the shows, the big show is one entirely composed of fine art photographers, most of it very straightforward photography. As I watched the people at the show most spent more time viewing, pondering or whatever those images that were done on watercolor paper in a very impressionistic manner....often with the help of the various tools in Paintshop Pro and Photoshop CS. Those are the images that I get the most enjoyment and satisfaction out of. When I paint I am more of an impressionist than a realist. For me to be able to take that same sensibility and apply it to a photograph to create new images makes life fun. I think the appeal of impressionistic paintings over realistic paintings is that the use of color, line, shadow etc makes one bring more of their own experiences and memories to fill in the gaps making it more of an emotional experience than a scientific one. My guess, what do I know?

This evening I went for a walk along the river. The intent was to get pictures of the fading sun and hopefully a moonrise. The moon rise will need a lot of work, mostly because the moon rose over an industrial complex instead of the mountains where I wanted it. Damn it mutha nature, could you cooperate once and put the moon or sun where I want it?

About half way into it I became totally enthralled with the way the sun was dancing across the various bamboos and stuff along the rivers edge. Even the way the sunlight lit the bottom of the bridge was pretty cool. So I started shooting with the intent of creating some impressionistic images. And here you go....a few of what I enjoy doing the most

Sunset Bridge

San Gabriel River Sunset

Monday, July 03, 2006

It's Good to be Hung

At least when its in a new gallery it's good. Its a good feeling to get into a new venue to showcase your art. Any artist will tell you its the outside validation that helps keep you going and creating. Without it you don't have the feedback on what's working on your viewers (or not).

Today was a pleasant surprise. I was conservative with what I brought...12 images and on the small side no less as the space was reportedly going to have some constraints on how much we can show. Well I get there and found I can bring 3 of my big images so those will be put on opening day. Wahooooooo!

Anyway, today was the big installation for 7 of us fine art photographers for the show that is running 7/5-31/06 at the Whittier Art Gallery. The reception is this Saturday, 7/8 from 2-5PM. The addy for you map quest folks is 8035 South Painter Avenue, Whittier, CA 90602. The gallery is open Weds ~ Sunday 12-5 PM.

Just a teaser from the trusty...Che-ez...COME SEE ME ON THE 8th!

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Fried and Frazzled

Today was the first of the Monrovia Art Walks for the summer, much better traffic than last year in spite of the fact it was 105 when we set up at 5PM.

These are interesting affairs. The first one is the toughest, people aren't sure what to expect and don't bring their check books. Those that do, well even an Art Event vs art&crap there is a price point where impulse buying ends. Its $50...which at an event dedicated to the fine arts there isn't much for impulse buying. Fortunately the later Art Walks all of the artists do better as the word is out this not a "street fair" but more of a gallery with the artists out on the street. Check books flush with deposits are all over the place at the later events.

Its fun though working the crowd. More fun to watch them stop in their tracks when something grabs their eyes.

For me its my "watercolor" photographs that stop them the most. The most popular by far is "Desert Sunrise" and "Morning Glory". Displaying on a sidewalk is tough but I manage to stop a few in their tracks so it isn't that bad.

Big news is that I am the "artist of the month" with the Electronic Cottage Gallery. What that means is your guess is as good as mine in terms of sales (let's face it I need to make a buck along the way). I've been a member of the "Juried Online Art Festival" for a while and they made the referral. Any publicity or extra links and hits have to be good.

Well folks its been a very long hot day. Aside from the Art Walk, I installed at the "Art at the Aztec" gallery for the Monrovia Arts Festival Association in the morning and packed up to install at the Whittier Gallery on Monday.

The pic of my set up, is well bad but in that funky artsy kinda way. I started blogging with this teeny weeny tiny digital camera called the "Che-ez Snap" about a year and a half ago. Its the new century Diana camera for the fine art types. Its got horrible sharpness, contrast, color and color balance, but its got its charm....

Enjoy, have a great remainder of the weekend.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Modern antiquities?

Sitting here doing some show prep I kept thinking about where the photographic process has been from its inception as a scientific curiousity to a medium exploited by a new group of artists. The digital world sure makes it easier to explore those old technology's with a lot less fuss and muss.

It took a long time before a photographic paper process came along and was considered stable enough for consistent reproduction of images from a negative. Even getting to a useable negative on a transparent support took many years.

The papers of the time were not the fine grained quality type we see today, they weren't even the pure white we have now so that added to the character to the prints and unfortunately their instability. After a lot of experimentation with ways to get the light sensative silver to stick to a paper and not float about the scientists dipped back a few hundred years into the painters back of tricks and used albument, or egg whites to hold the silver on the paper for printing an image on paper. This process became known as the "Albumen Print" or "Albumen Silver Print" first patented in 1850.

It took a few more years to over come some of the early stability problems with the Albumen Prints. By 1855 a new group of patents were given to a process of "gold toning" that helped stabilize the final prints and gave them better definition and a nice warm tone most often associated with this process. This process remained the standard for photographic papers for nearly the next 50 years.

I love the look of those images, partly because of the warm tone, but also this was the period where photographers went from recorders of nature to applying artistic sensabilities regarding composition to put their spin on what they were looking at. The early processes may have lacked some hightlight and shadow detail, but the blocks of black, gray or white added to the artistic quality.

Its this area I decided to explore earlier this year, some of which were catalogued for the Whittier Art Gallery show in July. I knew already that wet watercolor softened an image. I used papers that were already a warm tone, or yellowish tint and furthered the look I wanted in the final image. I did stray from the really dark browns and yellows but otherwise kept the feel of those prints.

Upper Yosemite Falls 2/2005

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Color me Mutated

Today during show prep I stumbled across some old postcards of some old Autochrome slides sitting in the Smithsonian. I found them many years ago and had to buy them. Over the years I have sought out shows where they were a featured item. Very unique almost painterly quality to the images.

The Autochrome process was a rather ingenious development invented in France by the Lumiere brothers at the beginning of the 1900's. They died potatoato starch 3 colors then glued it onto a glass plate. The plate then was coated with lampblack to fill the spaces between the starch and coated with a silver emulsion. From there it was exposed in the camera and through some trickery in the dark room (that in itself would have gotten them burned at the stake some 400 years earlier for witchcraft) ended with a color slide.

This use of layers of colored starch produced images very similar to the Pointillism paintings of Seraut and others of the late 1800's. In both different color doalbeitbiet much smaller when its grains of starch, are placed closely together tricking your mind to see other colors. As an example a group of red dots and blue dots making something your mind blends to purple. In the end how those dots were placed together you saw a pictwhethereter it was the Autochrome image or that of a painting by Seurat. Its this link that ads a bit of romance to the Autochrome's allure.

The process was very grainy and colors remotely resembled what was in the original scene. Because potatoatoe starch was large compared to the silver grains in the emulsion the image lacked fine detail. Oddly, even with its lack of detail and fragility due to its organic nature they were the primary color photography medium until the 1930's. Sadly few have survived due to their organic nature. Those that have survived are well worth seeing when you get the chance. its the final crunch to put together a show for installation the first part of July. In the process I felt the need to supplement the watercolor photograph portion of what I am exhibiting. I worked a bit on "Lone Pine" until I got an image that paid homage to the sensibilities of the pointillists and the Autochrome's of the Lumiere brothers.


Lone Pine

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Today was a Kodachrome Day

Today was a day of curiousity for me. What I wanted was it all in total, saturated color without any of the fuss of running out to buy real film much less send it out for processing. Ugh that's why I went digital in the first place. Thank you photoshop as it is possible to replicate the warmth and saturation of Kodachrome with digitally.

Anyway off to the river I went today to shoot the wild flowers in bloom. The summer bloom of the cacti is just starting and go a bit longer this year as we had a heavy rain last week. Covered with pollen I returned with some images, a few of which I am happy with.

Interesting side bar to all of this is that it dawned on me that the predominate color for the wild flowers...including cactus is yellow. Wonder what ecological twist caused that mutation. Yellow is such a powerful color, not dangerous like red, but always the attention grabber. Right now everything in bloom its just waves of yellow along the river. Really interesting stuff to see.

Cactus are interesting plants. Growing up "back East" they were a curiousity of Bugs Bunny and Road Runner cartoons. The real deal are something that amaze me. Today was productive. Managed to get a few of the "beaver tail" in bloom.

Enjoy my "pop" of color and a change from the Black and White work I have been doing....


Cactus Flower & Two Bugs

Sunday, June 04, 2006

The Desert is a magical place.

To most making the "Vegas Run" I-15 is reason to complain and basically crab about nothing to see or do. I could not disagree more. It is an amazing place. I really learned to appreciate the desert and all its vitality and hazards while living in Death Valley for a year while I was taking a break from college.

I cannot think of any other place I have been where there were such extreme changes from season to season. How each season changes the landscape is something truly amazing if you take the time to see what's there. How life has adapted to this environment is equally amazing. Every drive through is a treat to just watch how light and shadow dance across the landscape.

Monsoon season starting as early as July in the Southwest is one of those extremes. It is during this time of year the Mojave Desert has these pockets of moisture pumped up from the Gulf of California. As this moist air hits the desert it is energized by the intense heat of the desert. What happens next is these incredibly intense highly localized thunderstorms spring up and provide quite a show, day or night. One of the more interesting phenomena is "verga" or rain that falls but never makes it to the ground as the air at the desert floor is so hot and dry it evaporates on its way down. Of course the recently evaporated rain goes back up to feed and energize the storm further.

I spent time last year in the Mojave around Red Rock Canyon and Mount Charleston in the Las Vegas area. I was up before sunrise (suppose sleep disorders do have some advantages) and hiked in a wash, watching a storm brew and the sunlight slowly skim the ridges and work its way into the canyon. Another day I was up on Mt Charleston and got to watch a surprise storm work its way across Kyle and Lee Canyons. Watching a monsoon work its way across the desert into the Spring Mountain Range is one of my favorite things to do.

I pulled out a few images from those shoots as part of the gallery exhibition I am preparing for in July. I also will have some of those images at the Art Walks on Myrtle Avenue this summer.

Enjoy, and remember my motto, buy your art to match your soul not the sofa!

Red Rock Drive Sunrise
Mt Charleston Storm

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Totally jazzed and amped.

Its not often that you get validation as a starting artist from the community, but when it happens wahoo the adrenaline is running. I run on the premise that the piece works if I can stop someone in their tracks to really look at the image. When that happens then I did alright. That is usually enough, but when you get a lot of attention its a real ego boost.

I worked on a set of prints exploring man-made vs nature over the last year. A lot of elements came together in a print I did of the old Monrovia Rail Station. The shoot itself was fun simply because of the character of the old station. It was part of the old Santa Fe passenger rail system that ran from Chicago to LA back in the early 1900's.

In fact Monrovia got its name from the conductors on the railroad. The town was established as "Monroe" some 120 years ago. Monroe was one of the stops along the way into San Bernardino, and conductors would call the route "Monroe Via Pasadena...." and eventually we became known as Monrovia. Local trivia, but what the hell good is a brain if you don't fill it full of stuff. Anyway the old station is in disrepair but still has a wonderful patina. It sits there waiting for restoration.
One of my pictures done there was a seperation and abstraction of nature with some artificial colors introduced versus the manmade simply given more depth and printed on wet watercolor paper (HP forgive me, but that is more fun than you can imagine...try it some time). I showed it at the Monrovia Art Festival Association's "Acknowledge the Arts event at the Historic Aztec Hotel here in Monrovia. It got a lot of attention by everyone that viewed it that evening.

What really got me amped was that City Council Member Joe Garcia liked it enough to purchase it that night. He is going to donate it and have it hung in the station after it is rehabbed and converted to the new Goldline Metrolink station. How cool is that!? Of course it is clearly and cleany labled "frazgo" so there is no doubt it is my stuff! Out of fear of jynxing the deal I held off announcing until the transaction was finalized. Wahoo it happened tonight.'s a photo of the print they bought to donate to the new station -

Sunday, May 28, 2006

I don't know where I get the energy late at night, but I do and have done so for years. Many of the images I like best are when I an too tired to think, the brain shifts into autopilot for the mechanical stuff and the rest wanders about exploring images that I saw in my head when I took the photographs in the first place.

I have been in California for over 20 years and this state never ceases to amaze or simply take my breath away. Yosemite is one of the many treasures here that does both. Maybe I shouldn't have the old Mamma and Papa's song "California Dreaming" at the moment as it just pulls me to the sullen and melancholy, but I digress. Between the LA area I call home and the rest of the state I continue to explore I am still in awe that I live here.

A bit over a year ago I spent a long weekend in late winter in Yosemite near Yosemite Falls and the Merced River. The river itself captured my interest that visit. I was up before dawn one morning and hiked along the river watching the sunrise slowly illuminate the mountains around me. Being winter there was snow all over. Fog developed as the warm moist air from an approaching storm crossed over the colder expanses of the meadows. It was so cool watching the color of light change as the sun rose. It was truly amazing to see how the fog changed and altered the sun's rays as they entered the meadows from between the peaks around me.

It was as much the steely gray of the pre-dawn as being in Ansel Adams territory that inspired me to view so much of the area in shades of gray. There still is an odd romanticisim to black and white photographs that appeals to me.

So as I sat and printed tonight I also remade a few in black and white. Enjoy these two images from a late winters dawn!

Half Dome, Foggy Morning 2/05

Morning Fog, Merced River 2/05