Thursday, July 31, 2008

wasting time...

Doing my daily blog jumps around to see what my various friends are up to I stumbled across this nerd test over at faboo mama's blog. Its a nerd test, I scored higher than I thought I would as I've always thought of myself as more geeky than nerdy.

I am nerdier than 75% of all people. Are you a nerd? Click here to find out!

And what it all means.....

24% scored higher (more nerdy),
1% scored the same, and
75% scored lower (less nerdy).
What does this mean? Your nerdiness is:Mid-Level Nerd.
Wow, it takes a lot of hard nerdy practice to reach this level. has items exclusively for the True Nerd, click here to view.

Tuesdays meander along the river

For those of you who follow my flickr account know that I do a lot of silly blogging as well as put up chunks of unaltered jpgs from my shoots.

I shot it all RAW and those files are used to produce the final images that will be in shows and available for sale through some local galleries and online sources. I will often put in some dumbed down (ie low res small versions) on flickr as well so you can get a feel for the finished pieces.

Yesterday I did manage to get myself back to the San Gabriel River, this time I entered from Duarte's Encanto Park and walked across the old Pacific Electric Bridge. What is interesting to watch is how natural elements try to reclaim things put in place by us humans. Even the tiniest crack becomes the foothold for some plant to set up its own housekeeping. Other plants use what man put in place as its own impromptu trellis. Of course we have a habit of calling them weeds when they don't have some immediate use for them.

Two images here. One is a trail along a swampier section of the river near one of the big dams that serve to slow the flow of the water through the area. The Army Corp of Engineers did this to control flooding, but also to encourage natural recharging of the local water table through seepage and percolation through the porous soils of the area. That's a good thing.

The other image follows the Man vs Nature theme that I randomly revert to. In this image a wild sunflower (I don't know its real name) has grown around and through a chain link fence and using it as a trellis to support its growth. I like the contrasts that are present on many levels. The color of nature vs gray of man, the soft flowing lines of nature vs the hard lines of man, and nature using man made objects for their own purpose.

For the "River Trail" pic I did it in the Orton style. It is a simple process with CS2. Open the raw file then duplicate as a copy closing the original. Do what adjustments are needed to bring the color in balance then use the duplicate layer function. Increase the brightness and contrast of the new layer, then use gaussian blur to a power of 15. Then those two layers were blended using the "multiply" function. It was merged together then given a final post process with Virtual Photographer for that old timey Kodachrome saturation and printed on Cibachrome one would have (could have?) done in the old silver based Orton process.

Did I tell you how much I love working in the digital realm? I can only imagine the amount of darkroom time needed to get this result. And don't forget the cost factor either which makes digital art so much cheaper than the old silver based materials.

"Sunflowers" was processed from RAW. The resulting file was manipulated in its 16bit form to bring the exposure and color balance into check. Then it was given a run through Virtual Photographer to bring about the saturation and tonal range that the earlier Kodachromes were capable of.

Enjoy, its time to run off and do some more shooting somewhere.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Join me in the LA Bloggers community

View my page on LA Bloggers!

HDR and Orton...putting the two together

From Tuesdays shoot along the San Gabriel River. These windswept trees backlit in the early morning sun had quite a bit of drama and movement.

I shot it bracketed then merged the 3 RAW files in to an HDR file with the help of Photomatix's CS2 plug in. The same program was used for the tone mapping, coarser contrast control to allow the sky have sharper gradations to emphasize the portion where the sun was. When those were done then I duplicated the entire image as a layer, brightened it, increased the contrast and upped the saturation. The final two layers were blended using full multiply. Once that was done I merged the visible and ran the final image through virtual photographer.

End result is the trees are really the focal with their bright green spots and a nearly white back light. to get a cake out of the oven and go do some more shooting.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Cactus Flower and Bee

Today thanks to a total alignment of stars and activity calender I was able to get out and do some shooting. Lucky me, I noticed yesterday that the powers that be turned on the San Gabriel River again and it was flowing fast and hard. Add in the rain we had two weeks ago and wild flowers were tricked into blooming again.

This is the flower of the beaver-tail cactus that is all over the southwest. It has this beautiful yellow bloom that turns into a huge red seed pod by fall. The local Indians actually eat that seed pod as well as the dethorned pads from the cactus itself. I'm not into the whole labor intensive prep so I'll leave that delicacy to the Indians and just enjoy the bloom.

This flower was done in the Orton style and post processed to bring on the deep rich colors of Kodachrome on Cibachrome paper.

I have quite a bit I shot along the river. Some is already done in HDR as I like the tonal range it brings to the table for the final image. Some were done in HDR and brought to the surreal...the graffiti under the bridge that I will need to work on some more tomorrow in the afternoon.

Goal...Weds morning, gawd willing and the ground isn't shaking again is to have a stroll through the other side of the San Gabriel River along Duarte's Encanto Park.

A picture a day keeps the insanity at bay.

Monday, July 28, 2008

An image a day...and catch ups

I must be insane, but that is the goal. One image a day until MAFA's Celebrate the Art's October 11 & 12. Between that show and Kathie Reece's request I bring more into the new Aztec Gallery and fill a wall I have my work cut out.

Shoot more, at least 3X just set aside a morning or evening to do just that. I hear they turned the San Gabriel River on again so maybe I'll meander down there.

Vanity, insanity there is a fine line but I really want to pull together some strong new images along the Orton theme I have been exploring the last few months. Since I am the featured artist for this years show I really want to have the biggest impact at the show yet.

The first two are new images shot the other day. Interesting things that caught my eye either through repetition of shapes or sweeping curves and brilliant contrasts. The last is an old favorite from a trip to the Easter Sierra's a few years ago. I think I'd like to do that one again soon.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Camaro RS done in HDR is a good match up

It happened, I made it to the Chevy Camaro Reveal media event and dinner. It is really a lot of fun talking with the designers, artists and engineers that created this car. Pretty amazing stuff, certainly a good bit to add to my "bucket" of things done.

Full story about the car on LA Metblogs : Next Generation Camaro RS hits LA.

I do have to admit that HDR is still a kick in the pants to work with. The control over your color and tonal ranges never ceases to amaze and make me want to explore the potential further. Shot bracketed RAW, HDR file generation and tone mapping via Photomatix. Final image processed with Virtual Photographer.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Just a little downie fluff

It is the little details that catch my eye. I see things a bit differently. Somewhere out there we have a little chick losing its downie feathers and soon will be flying about.
Shot with a new point and squirt while testing its abilities and limitations. Post processed in the Orton style then given a final post process with Virtual Photographer to have the Cibachrome look.
Stay tuned...the fraz got invited by GM to attend tonights meet the press with the 2010 Chevy Camaro Team in Santa Monica. This could prove to be interesting.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Arroyo Hotel...ala orton

Caught it just as the sun was setting from the Suicide Bridge. Busy crowds with the Bridge Party that night, I may have to back soon and reshoot with the "good camera". The majesty of the old hotel over the gorge was something to see and with the sun hitting into the windows it took on its own other wordly glow.

Reworked in the Orton Style andpost processed in Virtual Photographer.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Call me the least in a local photo contest

The guys over at The Foothill City Blog are running a photo contest. Real prizes, discounts for entering and other details can be found at their "Take a Shot at City Hall" post that ran earlier this week. Obviously the preference would be a Foothill City, LA Metro or So Cal city hall since that is where we are located. It doesn't mean that you can't send your best shot of the city hall from Crumbling Dust Wyoming if you think its a powerful enough image.

Briefly, if it is a picture of city hall or a portion there of it is eligible for entry into the contest. Upload your entry to flickr and add it to The Foothill Cities group with the tag "cityhallcontest" and you are in. You need to have it done by 8/1 for judging in the contest. The top group will be selected from a readers vote.

The photo is done with my new "point and squirt" a Casio Exilim EX-Z100. Quite a nice 10.1 Megapixel pocket camera. Its limitations didn't take much to find. Little contrast control, drops both shadow and highlight detail quickly, not so good color gradation, overall pretty good saturation and sharpness. Definitely a handy toy to have when I just meander about rather than lug the big camera and stuff out all the time. Such a deal too...$199 at Costco this week with coupon, I remember my first digicam not even 8 years ago was 1.3 megapixel and cost $240 as a reconditioned. Big changes in price and huge leaps in overall quality as the technology improved.

This image is an Alexander Rose, an English Rose that is a favorite in my garden. I love the simple single rose and when it repeat blooms it becomes a star. (Many are singles are so close to the wild rogosa's they only bloom once in early summer so this is a special treat).

I shot it with the new Casio while testing its limitations and abilities. I post processed in the orton style with CS2 then ran the final image through Virtual Phtographer for the saturated warmth of Kodachrome and contrast of a Cibachrome.

Now get out there and shoot city hall and enter the contest so I have something to do!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Route 66 Art Gallery Grand Opening this weekend

The Aztec Hotel and MAFA have a new joint venture going. This is going to be a gallery that doesn't have white walls. It will be a gallery without a stuffy 'tude. It will be a gallery with a huge reference library on art for anyone one that wants to take some time to learn art history, art technique or just sit and ponder what an artist is capable of. Of course, it will all be available for purchase should you find the piece that strikes a cord deep within your soul.

The Route 66 Gallery can't be missed. It is right at the corner of Foothill Blvd and N. Magnolia in the historic Aztec Hotel here in Monrovia.
From the official press release:
All MAFA members are invited to attend the Grand Opening of our latest Art Gallery, Route 66 Gallery located at 301 West Foothill Blvd on Saturday July 12th from 5:00 to 9:00 pm. Our first exhibition will be “California in Bloom.” In addition to oils and watercolors, our display will also include photographs, sculptures and ceramics.

Light refreshments will be served, accompanied by live entertainment
I'll have several old favorites and new images at the show. Among them is "English Rose Bud" which was taken in my garden. It is the English Rose "Pat Austin". I shot it RAW, then worked it in the orton style while keeping some detail within the image. When done I ran it through Virtual Photographer giving it at bit more contrast and saturation like one would find on a Cibachrome print. (I still refuse to call it ilfochrome which is the name given after purchase by the ilford people). The final image is 8X12 matted and framed ready to go to a nice home!

Friday, July 04, 2008

it oughta be a law

gator shedding damage

Small rant on an otherwise great weekend going in LA Quinta. No big rigs should ever be allowed to use retread tires, especially when crossing the desert in 115+ heat. Ever.

Yesterday in the opposing traffic one such truck shed his skin and went flying across the freeway, at me. It went right over the concrete divider and whacked my front bumper. Nothing to but watch it come at me as the outbound traffic I was jammed. Damn.

The noise was loud, scared everyone in the back seat who were watching a movie rather than the road like I had too. if I didn't have more important things to do with a hundred bucks than pay a comprehensive deductible.

If they don't ban them in CA they could at least require a serial number on the tread that would show even on the marks as it skids across your car!

Rant over. Time for brekkie. Then it is an afternoon in the pool doing a rotisserie impression.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

One more Orton Rose and then off to sleep

One more print done in the Orton style. I'm debating whether I should include in the series or not at the Route 66 Gallery in the Aztec Hotel on 7/12. I like it a lot, the debate remains whether to include or not as it isn't as brilliant as some of the other floral Ortons I have done. It does have the deep saturated color that I like about this look.

To produce I lightened the original file by 10 points in the brightness adjustment tab. Then I did a duplicate original and worked on the duplicate after closing the original. I then duplicated the layer as a background copy. I lightened it another 10 points, then used a gaussian blur at 20 pixels. I used multiply to blend the layers. Setting the opacity at 75% to have a bit more sharpness. The image as then flattened.

The next step was to open up Virtual Photographer and increased the depth of the mid tones and brought the darks up, warmed it up 20%. In the final group of tabs I used "saturation" in the style drop down and used a 200ASA Grain filter. Voila...a kodachromey rosebud in the shadows at dawn.

I little bug on a rose and one for your ear

As I mend and move along I'm running back and forth between Orton and HDR work. Today I explored Orton just a bit more. I like the result, soft, saturated color and still preserves edges on close inspection.

The bug on the rose popped in every so briefly while I was shooting. Not often you get something like that to pose for you. I'm glad this one did as it added that element of surprise to the image. The rose it self is the Austin English Rose "Pat Austin".

Now the bug for your ear. Mark your calender for 7/12. The Route 66 Gallery, a joint effort with the Aztec Hotel and Monrovia Association of Fine Arts is opening that day. There will be an open house and hosted reception from 5PM to 9PM.

Of course I'll have several pieces there. I haven't decided what I will bring. I know the curators are looking for more realistic art, though impressionism is permitted...whew as you know where I like to play!

Enjoy "Bug on a Rose" and I'll keep you posted as to what I will decide to do next.