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.