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Sunday, February 26, 2017

Week 9 Azalea Season is Upon Us

 So you know your a geek and techie when....






Setting up one laptop to be in the studio so I can tether my camera to it.  It will allow me to remotely take pictures for focus stacking and give me a bigger screen to see the shot before I take it.  Bonus, I have another monitor connected to it for a bigger screen!  And then another laptop that I was working on (In case the zombie apocalypse happens lol).  I decommissioned my old desktop, pulled out the hard drive and made it into an external drive so if I need any of the files off of it I can.  Amazing what a $15.00 kit off of Amazon can help you accomplish!  Now I do not have to run my camera from the studio into the living room.  I can put it on the laptop, then, when I am ready can pull those off remotely to my desktop.  Fun stuff!  I spent all morning and afternoon working on it and could not have been happier!  And then bonus, date night with Ginger that night!  I absolutely love her so....


So with the unseasonably warm weather our azalea's have decided to bloom early.  So this Sunday I decided to get my macro box set up to take some shots of some azalea's.  Here is the setup:



It actually takes about 10 minutes to get everything all set up.  Practice makes perfect!  I had to get creative to get the flower to stand up but a little glass and some tape work wonders!  Funny enough, the last couple of shots of the flower, which were side shots, ended up being both Ginger and I's favorite:


Here is a full front shot:


Ginger liked the above, I had fun making the next one, which from a quirky artist point of view I loved:


And then, just having a little Photoshop fun.  Took some picture of sawdust and decided to have some fun:


 Lastly, this shot was actually from Ginger.  She wanted to take a funny shot.  This shot absolutely cracks me up!  But it shows something else.  Laughter.  Fun.  Ginger and I enjoy being with each other.  We make each other laugh often, which you can say is the secret sauce of our love.  There are too many things that need serious attention so you have to take moments to make funny faces, dance silly dances, and sometimes just hold each other. 



Laugh often my friends and family....

Baa

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Week 8: Blue Boots with Black and White and other Photographs

So as promised I did not wait three weeks to blog again!  The picture taking has been fun this week and I have been quite inspired.  Thank you to all who have been praying for Ginger.  The hypomanic bubble she was in last week burst, back to reality, and the typical up and down that gradually lessens and the OCD that comes with it.  We are in the third and final stage of dealing with a traumatic event.  The periods of things being level are getting longer now!

So first off, Valentine's day.  So one of the things that Ginger had told me for a while is that she did not really like flowers.  Well....yes she does....especially when you have them delivered to her work!   Moss did a fantastic job!  I went in about a week in a half ago and said I wanted something unusual, which they said they specialized in.  This arrangement was perfect!  Ginger loved it and I loved how quirky it was, perfect from a quirky guy like me!  Hubby did good she said.  And of course I took her to a favorite restaurant of hers, Breakers!


 So with my present from Valentine's day I was able to order a new gimbal head.  I got it yesterday:


This thing is fantastic!  Briefly, a gimbal head is for a camera with a long lens.  It allows the lens and camera to be balanced so that you have no camera creep.  Camera creep is when the lens starts to creep down or up, usually slowly.  It can affect sharp images.  So I set it up and balanced it and now I can have it at any angle and it stays, I do not even have to tighten it down!  Plus, I can pan shoot with it so I can track flying birds, animals, planes, cars, you name it.  And I am loving my new lens, having already gotten some really good shots with it!

So one of the shots I have been wanting to do I finally got to scratch off my list.  I took this on Monday.  The sun was almost an orange and it was being diffused by clouds.  So I took the shot:


This is a dandelion.  This is a tricky shot.  You cannot focus the shot while staring at the sun, can damage your eyes.  You have to focus about a foot to the right or left with the dandelion, then move it in front of the camera and take the shot.  Live view works wonderful with this shot.  It took about 9 shots to get it right.  This one, the sun was behind a cloud so I got it focused, moved it, waited for the sun to start appearing and took the shot.  My 100mm Macro lens worked perfectly for this though it was being finicky focusing!  

So one of the places that I go to to get inspired is my studio.  This is a panoramic shot of my studio at night, all lights blazing:


Now the string lights I cannot change the color, but the lights on the shelves I can change to any color I wish.  Two of my favorite pictures are hanging up and lit up.  Ginger loves the blue light.  You can tell I have a fascination with the moon and lights....  Love the cage light with vintage light bulb.  And if I want to light up my studio I can by making the strip lights surrounding the shelves up above turn white.  I was going to do a shot in the morning of my studio with the sun beaming in but the last two days we have had cloudy mornings.  That shot will be coming....soon.

And then there was Rebecca's.  Went out there this Saturday, have I mentioned how much of a joy it is to go out there and work on the ranch?  So I saw these boots by a fence post.  Had to take a picture of them.  The last shot, which you are about to see, was my favorite, and Ginger's.  Let me put in a side note here.  Ginger is a very, very important part of my creative process.  I have learned to take several shots, at different angles.  Then I get home and start going through the pictures.  Ginger has this uncanny eye for details I do not see.  It was her idea about the blue and black and white.  I saw black and white, but it was the blue that originally caught her eye.  We make a fantastic creative team, and I am so blessed to have her in more ways than one!  So the shot in black and white and in color.

Black and white and blue

Color

Now I was riding the 4 wheeler back and forth getting sand for a project that Rebecca's brother Andy is working on.  I happen to look over and see this shot in my mind and well, had to take it.  So grabbed my camera with the 100mm and snapped the shot. 






So this is a favorite shot of mine.  I wanted it vertical.  I could focus on the saddle, but I wanted to show more than that.  I wanted to show the lead ropes and the training pen.  It speaks of training, and repetition.   This is one of the places where Gretchen gets trained.  Funny, there was a time, not so long ago, that I was afraid of horses.  But the repetitious exposure to Gretchen has cured that.  I work around her, talk with her, pet her, and she has become use to me too!  She is an amazing animal and has this personality all her own!  One of my favorite filters is the bleach bypass filter, so naturally had to apply that to this picture.

So I saw a documentary on a photographer, Antoniou Platon yesterday.  Born in London, raised in Greece.  He is one of the most famous and saught after portrait photographers in the world.  And I was inspired.  He still uses a film camera.  Granted it is a Hasselblad medium format camera (which are very expensive cameras) and a Leica film camera.  To him, it is not about the equipment so much as it is about the photographer.  And his shots are amazing and his creative process is about telling the story more than getting a technically perfect shot.   It was just fun to watch him work!

My best shots are when I am just being creative.  If I strip away trying to impress anyone or any other distractions, and I just concentrate on what I see in my mind to put into an image I find I am at my happiest.  It doesn't matter how many people like your photo on Facebook or Flickr.  The greatest honor I have been given are when those close to me admire my photographs and even want one.  My Mom and Dad putting a self portrait of me in their living room was one of the greatest honors as an artist I have had the pleasure of having.  I rank it above getting pictures published in magazines.  Because a piece of me is with every creative shot I do.  I am trying to convey a message, or tell a story, or show how I see the world.  I have an old violin now that I am letting my creative mind mull over what shot I want to take with it.  I love the process of going from nothing to "seeing it in my mind".  When I was drawing portraits, the same thing happened.  I would finally "see it" and then the portrait would come.  From mind to image is getting easier as I learn my camera more and I learn to shape light.  I get inspired by other photographers, artists, or those around me.  I love being a storyteller because even though I can write, a picture is worth a 1000 words....



Sunday, February 12, 2017

Week 5 through 7 Photo's and Living with Bipolar update

It is good to be back to the blog.  It has been an interesting 3 weeks.  A little over two weeks ago, Ginger was starting to learn a new task.  For people with bipolar this can be traumatic.  It changes their structure, things that were comfortable become uncomfortable.  It becomes a juggling act of where to fit this new task into the structure and that can be hard.  I have walked with Ginger through learning new tasks before so I knew what to expect, in fact I rate them.  This particular one was the second to third worst.  It would take a lot to top the first one, this one wasn't close.  If you support someone who has a mental disorder it is imperative, no a necessity that you learn their disorder, learn them and how they react to life, and begin a trial and error process of what works and doesn't in helping them.  I am very passionate about that.  You have to take care of yourself as well.  I actually stopped drinking soda's (Do you know how much sugar is in a coke?!?  And the diet substitutes give me major headeaches), though I drink a lot of unsweet tea now!  That and I have been listening to a lot of Shinedown!   So two weeks ago I was spending time with Ginger, trying to keep her calm during this process.  So fast forward to this Tuesday, Ginger was wanting a new job to escape, and at the bottom.  She'd been rapid cycling last weekend, but she made the comment that she wasn't looking for another job unless God put it in her lap.  That got tested.  She saw her therapist on Tuesday, did not get the answers she wanted, and was depressed.  Usually I go to my group on Tuesday but I stayed home and we talked.  As with every other new task there is a moment of breakthrough.  Tuesday night she finally admitted that God was telling her no to a new job right now.  And then the tears.  The good tears.  The light at the end of the tunnel could be seen.  And then the steady improvement for the rest of the week.  Wednesday was good, Thursday harder, but the hope was there.  And a little bit of hypo mania, but after the past couple of weeks, I can take a little bit of talkitiveness (Yes, I made that word up)!   Been a really good weekend and a good Sunday that I can catch up on some photo editing.  Yep, been taking photographs through this process with Ginger.  And the weekends have been productive with honey do projects and a revamped photography studio.  Hanging up some of my artwork and getting lots of good ideas in my head for some photo composites.

So the photographs!

It has been a couple of weeks since I have been to Rebecca's ranch.  The last time I was out I took these pictures.

Week 5:

Another World's Mountain

I saw this picture in black and white in my head and knew I had to take it.  Taken with my new lens!

Week 6:

Now this picture will not win me any awards.  In fact the guys at work were like, why are you taking a picture of that?  It is an artist thing.  We had been working in these apartments that were about 40 years old.  New owners wanting to make the apartments look good.  This picture is a snap shot.  The fogger explains itself.  The build up of dry wall dust shows all the work.  It being on the carpet tells you the carpet is getting replaced.  Even the state of the patio door behind the fogger tells you the state of things.  It reminded me of my last job, it was a good reminder of my beginnings. 



Now this picture is something special to me.  This is in my studio.  The picture that was published is up and finally I have put up one of my favorite moon pictures.  Each of the things on that shelf have a special meaning, including the Warning sign!  I love color changing lights, so I mounted a light above the moon picture and to the side on the shelf that I can change the colors on.  I have LED lights up lining the shelves that I can change the colors.  So I can change them with my mood!  And now I can come in here and get inspired.  More detail comes out of the moon shot depending on the color of light, that is cool to me!   And I got a new edition to put in there, but more on that later....


Week 7:

We are not working in the apartments now.  We are renovating an old house's flooring.  Flooring as old as what is in Ginger and I's apartment!  I love old antiques.  I found this in the house:



Pretty cool seeing a 1902 edition of Sears catalog!  And this bike was in the backyard.


 Now the next picture is out front at a school.  Loved the contrast and thought it would make a good black and white. 


 And then there is what Native Americans would call the full moon in February, the Snow Moon or Hunger Moon.  This is just before the night of the full moon.  Put this one up so I could show the detail on the bottom of the pic.


I did find my new lens creeping down when fully extended just because it becomes unbalanced.  You cannot tell unless you are in Live View and Magnified x10.  So next piece of equipment, a Gimbal Head.  Good thing my birthday is coming up!

So I got a surprise this week.  In one of my recent posts I posted a picture of a violin and how I loved violins.  I got a text from my Dad a couple of weeks later asking if I wanted my Mom's great grandfather's violin.  It was in rough shape, not worth much but I could have it.  Of course I did!  Well, this week I received it and to me, it was beautiful, and priceless.  I have some plans on photographs with it so no photographs yet, I have learned patience in letting ideas cultivate.  It is not rough to me, it is weathered and I could not be prouder to have it!  So now I have to build a shadow box for it and place it in my studio! 

Thank you everyone for your prayers and support.  I will try not to wait 3 weeks to the next post!

Baa