Friday, August 31, 2007

Another Day Another Murder

So, here's Carol, out and about in her own little world. She goes shopping, she takes photos, she lives in quiet, sleepy Cedar Park, Texas (land where nothing happens. Honestly. Nothing every happens here. Ever. Well, except for that one time...) She lives a few miles from another sleepy "nope nothing ever happens here either" water tower town called Jonestown, Texas.

So, what happened on Sunday? I went to Chili's. I hung out in the house. I blogged about how nothing much was going on. There was a mass murderer loose in Jonestown.

Yes, my snowflakes, you read that right. According to this article Paul Devoe started a six body murder spree (!) in wonderful sleepy Jonestown, Texas (the next town over from Cedar Park, mind you) sometime on Sunday. He lead authorities though multiple states, eventually getting arrested in Shirley, New York (Suffock County for those not in the know.)

What's really scary about all of this, what really gets me about it all, is well, not that I ignored it (I did) not that I was completely oblivious to anything that might have been happening mere blocks away from my house (I was.) Not that there was a mass murderer loose and I didn't have my camera (sorry, don't want to shoot at people who might shoot back!) Not that there already was a Jonestown masscare and so there's no "cute and clever" name left to call this one. Not that six people, including members of his immediate family are now dead. Nope, not any of that really bothers me.

What really, really gets me about this case is that, well, the suspect looks a hell of a lot like Tom Selleck.

Man, that's scary. Who knew that, all this time, Magnum PI was leading a double life and turning to the dark side?

Until next crime...

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

How to: Abstract Minimal


VFWInteriorNo1, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

So, it dawned on me the other day that not everybody knows who Uta Barth is or, even more importantly, knows how to get "the look." While I cannot say that I'm an expert on "all things Uta" I can say that I have created a few Uta-like images through the years. And, probably more importantly, I've incorporated elements of the abstract minimal into my work. The influence has done some creeping into my "everyday" as it were, which, I think, actually makes it kind of fun and natural for me. Anyway, because I've been so inspired, I offer up some of my tips on the abstract minimal.

First off, the biggest tip you can take away is that, while abstract minimal may "look easy" it is often anything but easy to do. Drop the notion that it's "easy" to do this type of work-it's actually a bit harder than it looks. Or, let me put it another way: it may look easy, it may even be easy on some levels but, to do it well, and I mean, really well, it's harder than it looks. It takes practice and you will end up with a lot of "almost but not quite" images that you simply cannot use or aren't that happy about. Deal with it or go back to your f/16 crispy sharp focused kind of a world.

After the first big one, here are some other tips to get you started.

Take your camera off auto-focus. Don't even think about trying to use auto-focus. Pretend you do not have auto-focus. Repeat after me, "auto-focus is for wimps." Yes, Virginia, you really can focus a camera at a spot in the focal plane other than what the camera recommends. Do it.

Recall that your focal plane is 1/3 in front and 2/3'rds in back of where you focus. To get a nice uniform "soft focus" look, I typically focus behind the subject. To get a shallow DOF look, focus in front of the subject. Learn the difference between these two and choose wisely for best results. (If you have to, get a plant or a vase and a tape measure to figure this part out.)

I typically stop down but focus carefully to get that uniform "soft focus" look. You ready that right. Much of my "soft focus" work is actually shot with my camera on f/16, just focused in an unexpected place. (Yes, it's true, I'm in the f/16 camp and I really should be making fun of the f/1.8 club but that's a post for another day.) Many people, especially those who prefer shallow DOF, shoot wide open. Once you learn the difference between the two looks, experiment and find one that fits your mood. You really do need to experiment with both ends of your aperture range though, so try it out and see what works for you.

The next tip is maybe a bit obvious, maybe not, depending on how you compose. Deconstruct the world into simple shapes. Map everything you see into a circle, square, rectangle, triangle, or line. Alter your composition to highlight (or eliminate) these simple shapes. Don't think (or compose) in terms of detail-reduce. I sometimes try to image a blank sheet of paper, and then think of simple shapes that I can draw easily-I even try to compose my images so that I can draw the shapes without removing the pencil from the paper. This will create images that are more simple and less cluttered. One line and simple shapes around an image will often place you into the abstract minimal camp.

Treat space itself as a subject. As photographers, we often fall for the "tyranny of the bulls-eye" that is, we like to plunk things down in the middle of the frame. Many times, we put the subject in the center of the image and, many times, this works but not so much for the abstract minimalist. Try use space to create tension-it works and it creates both a tension and a tranquility in your image.

When starting out with minimal work, many artists rememeber the old saying, "less is more." While that may be true (it is! it is!) just as you remember to take things out of the composition, recall that, the things left behind gain a greater importance. By removing the clutter, you place more weight and emphasis on the clean. This is sometimes easier said than done but it's a point that's best not forgotten entirely.

I use a lot of leading lines when doing abstract minimal work. It helps to define the space a bit and place more emphasis on the stuff I have selected to leave into the composition.

Don't forget that the abstract minimal allows you to look at things in a completely new light. Even shooting around your house, you'll get very different results. Things will photograph differently from what you're used to. Because of that, I recommend you start close to home. Experiment in your house, try shooting a door, a window, the sink, whatever's on your kitchen table. You don't need large empty rooms to do abstract minimal, sometimes corners and entryways work just as well.

I'm sure there are many more tips out there, but I thought that these could help get you started.

Until next time...

Monday, August 27, 2007

Back to School Today


VFWInteriorNo2, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

The kids are going back to school today. It's kind of funny watching them. They all wait on the corner, at the bus stop in the morning, for the bus. Sitting, waiting, loaded down with backpacks full of books (looking heavier than the kids themselves) twirling bits of string, bored, waiting for the bus to come, so they can be with all of their friends.

Austin, Mom's dog, tries to eat children. He's a bit wild. Chase, on the other hand, loves kids but he knocks them down. He loves to jump and, well, he just catapults himself on top of small children. Of course, once he gets up there, he just licks their faces but still, from half-pint stature, it must be kind of scary to see this giant furry black thing hurling at you. (Then again, maybe not. Some of the kids come up to him, point, and call him, "puppy.")

Going back to school means it's almost autumn. It's actually a good time to enjoy the heat because, well, it's not going to be here much longer. Where I live, once the storms start to stack up in the Gulf, the clouds grow, and we get cooler weather. The heat, though intense at times, starts to fade into fall once again.

Not to mention some leaves start to change and, as you can imagine, we all love it when that happens.

Here's looking at you Mr. Autumn.

Until next time...

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Weekend Round Up


BlindsNo1, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

Strange and eventful, yet somehow it feels like nothing happened is how I would describe this weekend.

For starters, I went and picked out tile for my house on Saturday. I'm getting new tile in the foyer and hallways after the great flood. I went on Saturday, picked out the tile, ordered it, came back home and waited for the guy to come back and measure. He showed up a little while later, measured it, I paid him, and it should be here in a few weeks.

Now, I know that doesn't sound like a lot-it doesn't sound like I had an eventful Saturday but, if you think it isn't, you should try it sometime. It feels good to just have it picked out and feel like I'm starting to climb out of the flood and back into normal. Picking out stuff, shopping for remodeling items, going to all the different places, well, it just kind of gives me a headache after a while.

Then today was Mom's birthday so we took her out for lunch. We went to Chili's, so she could have baby back ribs (she loves ribs.) I had some margerita chicken, which I actually wasn't crazy about but it wasn't too bad. An interesting thing about Mom is that she likes to eat very early in the day. She's often done with dinner at most (normal) people's lunchtime. I honestly don't know how she survived until noon without food but, somehow, she did. We got there about 11 o'clock, just as they were opening and were pratically the first folks in the joint. The food was good though and I'm glad she had a nice birthday.

We were all so tired afterwards that I came home and tried to take a nap after eating. Haven't felt like doing much, other than resting about the house today. That's ok though, because the tile is working it's way to becomming done.

KathyV has left for Caddo lake. She's only going for a few days but I'm looking forward to her coming back with some interesting images. Personally, I have not felt like doing much photographically. That's ok though because I actually cleaned the house up some and I'm enjoying the rest (while I can get it.)

How was your weekend?

Until next time...

Friday, August 24, 2007

Unfinished


VFWInteriorEmptyHallNo1, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

Nothing feels quite as unfinished as an empty white room. You know the kind I'm talking about-bare white walls, hollow space, echo-filled. Standing there in the middle, why, it makes you want to run and grab some furniture, any furniture, just to have something (anything) there.

This is the inside of the (then) newly finished new VFW Hall near where I live.

You would not recognize this room today. It's used as a rental hall and (now) routinely gets filled with chairs, tables, kids, adults dancing, banners streaming from the ceiling. It's a happy place, full of life-no more blank white walls for this room.

Until next time...

What's Up?


VFW Bar Innards, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

Come in, sit down, have a pint, let me tell you what I've been up to.

For starters, I finally got off my photographic duff and did some transfers. I must admit, I'm much happier with these transfers than I was with the first ones. They look a lot better. They are really getting close to what I want the transfers to look like, in fact, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that, if I can get them to come out this good regularly, I will exhibit them in the fall. I'm all nice and happy in transfer land these days. (Look for me to post some in the coming days.)

I have been thinking about "upping them a notch" and taking them to a slightly larger size, say 5x7 (I'm doing 4x6 now.) I might try that next, though I don't think it much different in the process, it makes framing them quite different. I was envisioning them being framed small all along but I'm starting to think that a 5x7 can go to an 11x14 ok, where a 4x6 really needs an 8x10 frame. The smaller size makes it a lot harder to get a better price for them when you exhibit them too. (Recent trial and error research lends me to believe that 11x14's are a very good size for selling. You can get enough of a price that you won't go broke from all the time spent framing and yet they are still small enough that people can fit them anywhere in their homes. They also sell for a nice price, which doesn't price you out of the market as much as, say, a 16x20.)

Apart from "almost bliss" in transfer-land, I'm going to set myself up to sell some prints online. I've found a website that will allow me to upload images and allow me to do a sort of "buy this now" type of thing. I don't intend to make the blog turn into a sort "you may have already won. Click here to download. Buy this now, buy this now" kind of a thing, but I might start putting a "buy me" button on a few of my more popular images.

Apart from all the photographic "foo" going on, it appears that my TiVo has somehow broken itself. I no longer have a Season Pass. It's odd because all of the existing season pass shows continue to record but I cannot seem to add a new one.

No season pass for me. What's up with that?

So, how's life from your barstool?

Until next pint...

Sunday, August 19, 2007

One Bad Bunny


One Bad Bunny, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

So, a friend recently sent me a flickr mail, alerting me to the fact that an entire new crop of Nicolas Cage snaps have recently been added to the bowels of Flickr. It would appear that, for his latest National Treasure movie, he's re-creating the annual Easter egg hunt on the White House lawn. At least, it appears that way, given there's been a flurry of family snapshots featuring half-pint extras in bunny noses, along with the aforementioned Mr. Cage wearing a parka and talking insessently on a cell phone. (Somebody ought to tell him cell phones make you lok fat. Nevermind parkas in June. And don't scream for your latte, Mr. Cage, they heard you all the way over in Cedar Park, Texas already!)

One particular snapshot features our, ahem, "favorite" actor (turned tampon salesman) running (Run! Run! Run for your life! Oh wait, nevermind. Just keel over if you prefer) from a broom. Yes, my snowflakes, you read that right: a broom.

Now, I hardly know where to start with this tidbit but, as you know (if you read this regularly) I shall make a less-than-noble attempt at "the middle" (leaving, of course, "the beginning" and "the end" in much more capable hands.)

So, what have we established here. Let's see now: People really need to watch their children more carefully. There are some serious whack-o's out there (who wear parkas in June!) and, Nicolas Cage is afraid of brooms. This would actually explain a lot, really.

Did you know they make these cute little 'fridge magnets featuring a 50's-esque woman blurting out clever sayings, such as, "I'm so happy I could iron!" and, my personal favorite (featuring a likeness of her in her boudoir) "Last night I dreamt my whole house was clean!" Needless to say, except for the bouffante, I could be her. I live in a messy house and hardly clean. I see now that, all along, to clear off the Tivo of unwanted kruft, all I really needed was a dust mop or, to put it more bluntly, here's some fiction:

"Take that, you tampon salesman," she said brandishing a broom, "I'm going to sweep you under my rug."

"But wait," the evil villain replied, "I'm in your season pass. You'll never get rid of me now!"

"Ha! Take that," she screamed, swinging the broom, "and that!"

Ah yes, snowflakes. I'm having some serious fantasies of, not only the entire house being clean (and the ironing done, mind you) but of the Season Pass being cleared of all kinds of unwanted junk. No more CSI Miami, no more weird docudramas about Jeffrey Dahmer, no more Manson Family re-runs, and no more tampon salesman turned actors infesting the TiVo. (Ah, if only. Don't I wish?)

Still, you must admit, my snowflakes, that's one bad dust bunny, isn't it?

Until next time...

Friday, August 17, 2007

Typhoon Mary


BlowingLeavesNo1, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

Ok, so I went to New Orleans and, one month later, BAM. Katrina hit. Then I went to Hawaii and now there's a hurricane out by the Big Island (just miles from where I was staying, by the way.) The news was reporting that they haven't seen a hurricane in something like 15 years. Great. (I know, I know, it's all about me.)

The only city I have visited in recent times that hasn't collapsed (yet!) was Venice. Then again, it survived Napoleon and he had an entire freaking army (not to mention good coffee. If you ever decide to invade, make sure you bring along good coffee. Really. It's all about the coffee.) So, this kind of leads me to believe that, well, I might just have to make two trips (to Venice. Not for coffee. I never make more than one trip for coffee.)

Actually, this has me thinking-this could be a whole new career. Hmm. Let's see. I'm thinking about visiting Seattle next. Ok, guys, so everyone in Seattle should collect pennies and other assorted odd change (maybe even, say, change from your expensive Starbucks runs) collect them, round them up, and bribe me to stay in Austin.

Think it'll work? Come on now, you don't want a freak typhoon taking out the space needle now, do you? Chip in, chip in. If it helps, I'll even promise to take all the money you send me and go to Venice (again!)

That is, until the good folks of Venice start bribing me more money to go visit Seattle.

(Actually, I'm thinking about going to the coast and to New Mexico next. It'll be the coast after hurricane season and New Mexico is pretty immune to hurricanes so everybody's probably safe-for a while.)

Until next "roll up the welcome mat, it's HER..."

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Out of the Blog-o-sphere Into the Fire


06-BackupsMeltDown, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

Ok, snowflakes, the time has come for Queen Flake (that would be me, if you're not paying attention) to actually create a real live website.

Now, before I start, I want to let you know that I have no intention of abandoning my blog. That's not what this is about, in fact, just the opposite. I feel the a "main site" will highlight my blog in a special way. It will allow me to provide you with things like a topical index (which I've wanted to do for years) and provide a "resting place" to showcase some of my work in a more formal format. My plans are to link the blog to the site and vice versa, and really link, not just by means of a shared URL on a hidden page. I'm going to actually tie to the two in together so that this blog will become my day-over-day rantings (as you've grown to love) and the site will become more of a showcase for the best and brighest from the blog.

Today (actually yesterday but, who's counting?) begins the long journey into website.

I thought about what software I wanted to use for my website and I came up with Dreamweaver. For those of you who know Dreamweaver, (and, even really, those who don't) it's now made by the good folks at Adobe (who gave us Photoshop and Illustrator, along with other "good stuff" that every creative needs.)

A few folks told me, before I went the Dreamweaver route, (actually warned me would be a better choice of words) that, well, Dreamweaver is hard to use. I brushed those fears aside, since, well, actually I'm a computer programmer by trade, right? I should be able to figure out how to use a program that basically makes HTML, JSP, JavaScript, and all that, right? No sweat, right? Um, yeah. (Keep the faith! There's still hope.)

So, I started using Dreamweaver and, I'm almost ready to say, "they were right! They were right!" It's a bit harder than I thought, but I'm not giving up yet. I've only had one day of play and, while it might take me a while, I can envision an end and can see how it's a powerful program in it's own right. (Not to mention they have "frame sets" now. Not just "frames" not just iframes, mind you, but "sets of frames and iframes," all cascading into CSS Hellpool. Oh the humanity! Somebody save me from NightmareMaker, I mean, um, "Dreamweaver.")

Actually, the hardest part about web design, the hardest part about design really, is making up my mind about things. I'm sorry to say that, not any software made yet, no software out there, really has a button to do that. There's no "Carol Click Here" button that makes me suddenly shout, "Blue! I want everything Blue!" I have to sit and mull (and mull and sit, and stand and mull, and, well, you get the idea.) Make up the "Carol mind" (which, as you know, is quite small and hard to decifer to begin with) is the hardest part of any design process.

But, the point I'm trying to make is that, actually, the journey has begun. At the very least, think of the blogs I'll be bringing you. It'll be kind of like watching a descent into Hell, only, I'm guessing, a bit cooler from your vantage point. (And, um, you won't have to fight off the evil villain, I mean, "style sheet.")

Enjoy the show for, as it stands, Dreamweaver 1 Carol 0 but, you know, it's still early in this boxing match, and my mind is starting really get around this whole "web site" thing. I'm starting to get a picture in my head of what I want things to look like, now all that's left is to drag it out into the land of pixels. (Once I get a picture in my head, well, you can see here what the results are. "CD-ROM by Salvador Dali' is just one simple example, really.)

As we know there's a lot of fun making the visions come to life.

Until next time...

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Odds and Ends-It's Summer and Hot Out There


KoiAsSilkNo1, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

James Blunt has a new CD coming out. As you can guess, I won't be running out to get that one.

It's been hot in River City. Yesterday was about 99 degrees but it felt hotter. All the rain we've had has made things lush and green, which is making for some high humidity. The air is close. There's no wind and the sun is in full blast, especially mid-day. Even at 5 o'clock or 6 o'clock at night, as soon as you walk outside from a nice, air-conditioned building, you feel the heat. It's like radiating from everything and nothing's cool. (Even the a/c doesn't really "work" it's just like a temporary solution.)

The heat has really zapped me. I did not go to photo group last night and I don't really want to do anything (productive or not) after work. It's even just such a big chore to run errands and keep up with the little things in this heat.

I am enjoying a bit of a lull in having to send stuff out. July was such a busy month, with so many shows, it feels good to enjoy a bit of a slowdown. Next up is probably the Heart Gallery but that's already dropped off and finished for me. All that's left is to go to the party and, of course, the "big thing" which is to hope the children find new homes. But, that won't be until September. I can enjoy a bit of "photographic down time" in between now and then, I suppose.

Everybody's clammoring over the water situation, trying to get their lawn sprinklers to work, hoping their a/c doesn't konk out, that sort of thing, so I thought I'd share a (fluid) shot from the wet July. This is from the Koi pond and comes with hope it's not too hot where today finds you.

Until next time...

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Skill


DancerMusicOnBrick, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

It takes skill to dance ballet. You have to be able to stand on the tops of your toes and twirl around. It's not something I would be able to do.

I'm sort of like a weeble except that, when I wobble, I *do* fall down.

Until next time...

Oddity


FaceOnOrb-S, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

I tried to make it look like "the blog-o-sphere" but it really just looks a bit odd, don't you think? The colors are funky anyway.

Until the next time...

Adjustment Layers and Lost Toilets


WindowAndYNo2, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

Yesterday, I went to a Photoshop workshop put on by my local chapter of the Shutterbug club. (Austin Shutterbugs, the group that's so friendly, it invades!) The workshop was actually informative. The lady who teaches it does a really good job of keeping it interesting, keeping our attention, and presenting enough material. The topics covered were adjustment layers, masks, and a few other intermediate to advanced topics.

It's an interesting thing about Photoshop. Those who know how to use it tend to use it in their own way. For example, some folks use levels all the time (our instructor did) while others use curves (I do.) You can get the same result with curves as you can with levels, for example, but it really boils down to personal preference and style. Everybody has a slightly different workflow and there are many ways to "skin a cat" (as it were) in Photoshop.

I had very little else that I had to do this weekend (well, little that I did not blow off) and so I ran around the house doing Uta Barth-like images: abstract minimal plain white corners, with the lensbaby. This is one from the lot.

As an aside, this is actually taken in my bathroom. I find that rather odd because, well, you could say many things about it but it doesn't really look all that much like a toilet now, does it? I mean, it just doesn't read "bathroom" to me. (Maybe I'm wrong?)

One of the points the Photoshop instructor kept driving home is that, when you work in Photoshop, as you get more advanced, you have to sort of visualize the results you want before you start out. She kept reminding us how you have to have some idea of what you want to do, where you want to go with an image, before you sit down and minipulate it. It's hard to fix things if you don't know, or haven't decided yet, what needs fixing, right? So she kept asking people questions like, "what do you want to do with this image?" and "where were you going with this image?"

I'm guessing that nobody else really wanted to go to the toilet but, you know, I've been wrong before.

Until next time...

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

New Horizons


BrightBlueBoat, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

In the "all the news that's fit to be me" department, my local paper, the Hill Country News, recently ran an interview with none other than little old me. You can read the interview here.

An interesting thing about news, interviews, and the like, when I was first starting out, it was the "artist's statement" that I hated. I'm still on record as saying that most working artists would rather walk into the ocean or sky dive without a parachute than write an artist's statement. There's just something so horribly wrong, terribly time-consuming, and mentally frustrating about them. It's a little known fact we've all come to know and get used to over time.

But, think about this. If you think writing an artist's statement is bad, have you ever had to do an interview? It's kind of like an artist's statement, only you don't get to collect your thoughts and they present it to a much wider audience. Every, "um," "ah," and "huh," gets put out there for all to see. (Oh the glory of it all. Somebody please beat me about the head with a brick until it stops.)

Dealing with the press (media) is a whole 'nother ball game for me. It's just not one of those things I have to do that frequently and, when I do, I'm never very good at it. Sure, I try but, somehow, through the wonders of the media, the magic of the interview, I always end up sounding like a dork.

Actually, I take that back. I sound like a dork with a really, really bad artist's statement.

Until next, "run...they have press passes..."

Monday, August 06, 2007

Fighting Off Brown


TwoTreesDriveBySepia, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

Over the weekend, I picked out my shot for the Heart Gallery. I had to crop the image a bit, which was pretty easy to do and then I spent a lot of time trying to get the grass looking almost green again. For some reason, when you shoot in Texas in the summer, everything always looks all brown.

Now, don't get me wrong, I like brown. Brown is a nice color. But there's something about the background of a photo-everybody always expects a touch of green. We like our good earth to be green, not brown even though, well, I guess, it seldom really is. So, I was clone stamping in lots of grass. Funny thing about that too, I'm never really happy with some of the cloning. I always sort of feel like you can tell it's been cloned and I don't like it much but the photo is really important so I feel it must be done. (Normally, I'd just go re-shoot it but, well, with the kids, the sun, the government agencies, the deadlines, and other odd and assorted ends and issues, a re-shoot is out of the question.)

It's so weird though that I've been in love with sepia lately and yet, here I sit, stamping in a lawn. Brown is the enemy now. All that and, well, it really makes me wonder, doesn't anybody water their lawns anymore?

I also won the photoshop lottery, in a way. This weekend. KathyV came over to print her Heart Gallery photo and we were poking around with mine. I had picked out a few shots I liked, one of them I did some cropping on. At one point, she said, "well, you should try to resize that one...because our requirement is for an 11x14 print, so see how close it is to 11x14 and how much more cropping or 'uncropping' you'd have to do."

After I went into Image Size... and selected 11 inches for the height, I hit the button to automatically resize it and what did it come out to be? None other than 14.0067 inches.

Score!

Until next time...

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Having Heart


HeReflects, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

Today, I took pictures of my heart gallery kids.

For those who don't know, the Heart Gallery is a project that involves matching photographers up with children in foster care, available for adoption. The Heart Gallery started in Santa Fe, with the idea being that local professional photographers could photograph the children and provide something more than the typical "mug shot" that goes into the adoption paperwork.

My kids were located in Hilltop Texas, which is actually about the two and a half hour drive from where I live. Luckily, their foster mom had friends in Rockdale and agreed to meet me halfway, in Rockdale, to let me take pictures of the children. (I photographed a "sibling group" which, when translated, actually means "more than one kid.")

The Heart Gallery presents interesting challenges. For one thing, the kids don't want to stay near each other. They love to scatter, and it can be difficult rounding them up. For another, the light was terrible today-we did the shoot at high noon and it was bright, blasted out sunshine-not the best for photographing. (Texas sun is not even the best to stand around outside in.) Finally, them being young kids, they don't have an attention span to be able to sit there and "turn this way" or "look that way," I'm really left trying to catch them when I can, and I can't shoot for more than a few minutes. It's torture for a young child to follow them around with a camera, plunking them down in the Texas mid-day sun, and expecting them to sit still and smile for more than 15 minutes or so.

Even given these factors, every year, I try to do my best. There's a lot riding on these pictures, and I try to make them come out the best I can. I like to tell myself that, even an ok shot from a good photographer is better than their typical "mug shots" and will go a long way towards helping them out.

On the way back home, I got lost in a town called "Thrall." (I swear I'm not making that up. Thrall, Texas.) Needless to say, I was not thrilled to be in Thrall at the time but it looked like an interesting place to visit. I'll have to try and make it back there when the light is better.

You'll probably be hearing more about the Heart Gallery in the coming days (weeks, months, whatever) and I have to get back to uploading Compact Flash from the stash so....

Until next time...

Friday, August 03, 2007

Radical Nautical


ArcOfASwimmerNo1, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

Last night, I went downtown, to KathyV's wonderful new show at Gallery Lombardi. Called "Radical Nautical" it celebrates all things aqua-related. There were pirates, lighthouses, beaches, mermaids, and even fish tacos (hey, it was NAUTICAL in every sense of the word, ok?) Needless to say, I loved the show, and I always love seeing Kathy's new swimming pool shots. (Those are tops, not to mention, well, they just smell a whole lot better than the "fish tacos," believe me.) I also got to see Jill, who is doing fabulous-she makes jewelry and her work is now in four different stores (and selling briskly! Yay, Jill!)

She was telling us about her own "challenge." Recently, she was approached by a story in San Antonio, asking if she could make some Frida Kahlo inspired jewelry. She rose to the challenge and created a charm braclet, with charms all relevant to the theme. I was so blown away by that-I just love the idea of artwork inspired by other artists. This really got me thinking, my "creative juices" flowing and all. What a cool idea for a project.

Speaking of a challenges, projects, and all, the Utata annual "Big Project" has gone live. It's great to see The Utatan in all its glory. It was a bit of a challenge to come up with something for all the slots, and I do believe my photojournalism piece was little more than "fluff" but, hey, I'm in it, so that's all that counts, right? (There were some really hard hitting photojournalism pieces. Mine really looks rather lame but, what can you do? I think it's a well-established fact, known by now the world over: a reporter I am not.)

Here's a link in case you are curious. A word of warning though. I'm sure, like the big blue sea, you'll get lost in it if you're not careful.

Until next radical...

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Mordancage


07-ByTheLightOfTheMouse, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

So, I was reading some website, which brought me to another website, which made me click on (Oh, I get it now! That's why they call it "the web" and not "the final destination." Ok. Glad I got that straightened out) yet another, which brought me to an article about mordancage.

For those of you who don't know (and that's probably many of you, since I didn't know myself) mordancage is not a phrase you emit mere seconds before somebody says, "God bless you." It's actually a photographic process, and a very cool one at that. It's hard to explain in words, actually it's kind of hard to describe any photographic process in words, but basically mordancage involves bleaching prints and the using a reagent that ties in with etching.

It's a technique pioneered by Jean-Pierre Sudre and more recently used by Elizabeth Opalenik. And, to bring this back around to a point (we have to have a point, don't we? We always have a point, right?) Elizabeth Opalenik has a new book coming out called Poetic Grace which showcases some of her mordancage work.

Now, don't get me wrong, I love the idea of modancage, I'd love to be able to do mordancage, to try it out in my own kitchen sink as it were, but mordancage is a toxic process. I'm spoiled. After working on the computer so long, I really don't want to put on latex gloves, deal with bleach and all of the noxious fumes, that toxic cloud, as it were, or even mess around in the sink.

Me? Now, while I love (absolutely LOVE) the look of the mordancage print, I'm holding out for a digital equivalent. You read that right. I'm holding out for a modancage button in the old PS49 (or whatever version we'll be up to by then) so that I can (just like solarization) push a button a be done with it. Yes, you read that right. I'm the ultimate in lazy.

So, it goes without saying really, but, should you happen to flickr, google, yahoo! or somehow crawl upon this, even years from now, and know of any Photoshop actions that would approximate the look of the mordancage, please either email me, leave me a comment, or otherwise help give my lazy butt a clue, ok?

Mordancage, it's not just for breakfast anymore.

Until next antique process, that doesn't have a Photoshop action yet, but I'm still itching to try out...

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Playing Favorites


AbstractWithSkyAndClouds, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

The other day, I had to go through my photos and pick out nine or so "favorites" of mine. I thought this would be an easy task. I signed in to Flickr, where I store my photos for on-line viewing, and I sorted my work, in various different ways.

I tried the "most popular" but that sort of fell flat, since a lot of people like my rose shot and that's not "me." I tried sorting by most interesting and that fell flat because, well, what Flickr calls "interesting" is not really what I would call interesting. I tried picking and choosing a combination of several sorting combinations, but that didn't work because, well, I wanted to put in a picture of my dog (he's my favorite of favorites, really) and he's neither interesting nor "popular" according to Flickr.

You can see where this is going. It's hard to pick. In the end, I just randomly picked images that I liked, either because they reminded me of something or because I liked the shot (for one reason or another.)

So, now I have these nine randomly random shots that don't go together at all, and I started to think, "ah but these probably need to be cohesive. I mean, I can't put up nine totally random oddball shots now, can I?" This takes me back to "square one" as it were: I need to now pick nine "random" shots, from my stream, that are all my favorites, but that look a bit more "put together."

Ugh. Why couldn't this be like ice cream? I mean, I know I just go for the mint chip, or maybe the Mayan chocolate, but then the Bailey's is pretty good, and...Arrrrgggghhhh!

Indecision would be my middle name, if, well, you know, if I could ever decide upon just one.

Until next time...