Friday, December 31, 2010

My Year in Photography - 2010


LoneTree, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

It's that time of year again. Time to take stock of how 2010 was photographically and see how things are shaping up for next year.

According to Flickr, this was my most popular image of 2010. 2010 was very much a year I did a lot of black and white work, and I'd have to say I struggled with doing square black and white images over my traditional color images. No worries here though, as I've always loved black and white. It's good to sometimes pull back, dial down the color, and see things for how they really are, isn't it?

2010 wasn't a great year for me photographically but it wasn't totally empty either.

Early this year a man flew a plane into a building in Austin. I was on the same road driving to work when it happened. Those were some of my first uploads to Flickr last year. I challenged myself to treat the subject as a photojournalist would-no heavy post processing, no major edits, just shoot it as I see it kind of a thing. Now, I'm not in a hurry to do that again, I can say it was a nice exercise for me. I did get some pictures out of it and I'm happy I did it. I think we all need to challenge ourselves photographically, even if we don't always love the results or if we don't get what we might expect from the camera. That's part of the journey of being an artist.

I did some drawing sessions and started taking pictures of my drawings. I went to Fotofest in Houston. I shot some pictures there but also saw a lot of work. It takes a long time to process (mentally) Fotofest, takes a long time to absorb seeing all that much work in one small spot. Still doing that really. This image actually comes from that trip down to Houston to check out all of the work at Fotofest.

I went to New Mexico and took another photo workshop in Santa Fe at the Santa Fe Photography Workshops. I studied with a great photographer and met a lot of nice people. The workshop with Elizabeth Opalenik was wonderful and time in Santa Fe is always time well spent. The workshop experience is one that I recommend highly for any photographer and the Santa Fe Workshops, while grueling and tiring really kick start everything into the next level. They really are life changing and artistic affirming events-I recommend the experience highly for anybody who's thinking about moving their work to the next level and is unsure of how to go about doing that.

I did a series of self portraits. Projected images. I finally got 20 of them done and, while I don't love all of them, some of them came out ok. It was an interesting project even if it's been a bit of a let down in terms of commercial success (I don't think most people do self portraits to sell a lot of work anyway and I'm certainly no exception to that rule.) Projected pixels, pieces of me finally started coming together in 2010 and I'm happy about that. I think it was high time I put myself in front of the lens for a change and I'm happy I did it looking back on the project. It's also not finished-I expect to do more with the projector in the years and projects to come.

I got an iPhone in July and started shooting with it a lot. I got invited to do an iPhone only show in Austin-that's going to happen early next year. Fun stuff. It's really put the fun back into photography for me and I love it for that.

I did a lot with encaustics and started doing a lot of pastels. My pastels are improving and I had a few shows of my encaustic (and photo + encaustic) panels. I expect to do more of that next year as well. I also went to the car show and changed up a bit how I shot the cars this year. They still look like me, I just expanded my repertoire a bit when it comes to shooting the cars.

I did a series called "Mexico in Blue" that's very digitally altered. I like it. Some people love it too, while others not so much. I haven't finished it and I expect to take it to the next level in 2011. Look for more of that style of work to come next year.

November brought on the East Austin Studio Tour but I did fewer shows this year. It felt good to do that. Sometimes, I do too many shows and it's good to slow down, do fewer but make them more fun and meaningful. Next year will probably find me doing more shows and getting work out more. Just a guess and maybe I'm wrong about that, but I'm itching to do some shows and get my work out a bit more than this year. In 2010 I was a bit distracted and happy to let shows slide by in favor of other things, I expect to return to the show scene with a bang, starting early in 2011.

I got a new camera and started upgrading my equipment a bit. I expect this to continue heavily in 2011, with probably another new camera, maybe even two, possibly a new printer, and lots of little upgrades here and there. This is the kind of behind the scenes stuff that helps keep things going, even if it isn't as fun for me to talk about and share with you here. I've never been a "gear head" photographer but I do need to have my gadgets in order to do what I do, so I plan on making the upgrades as best I can to keep things moving forward in 2011.

I ended the year by doing a bit of commercial work and getting ready to start 2011 with a bang. Next year, I'll be adding a new word to my photographic resume and that's: educator. I've been approached by several different places to teach art and photography and I'm looking forward to that opportunity.

Looking ahead, I've got classes coming up, (I'm teaching soon) I'm in the process of updating my equipment, and I'm going to do a larger project which (I hope) will turn into a big one person show (somewhere.)

I'd have to say 2010 was the year of mixed media for me. Mixed media, self portraits and the iPhone mostly. Not a bad year for me, not one of my best but I look back and see signs of growth. The pastels and encaustics are moving me in some new directions and I explored some old favorites with the square black and white work. All in all it was another year for the books, and I'm looking forward to 2011 and all of the joy this will bring.

I hope you have a happy photographic and artistically successful new year and 2011 brings your creativity to life.

Until next year, this time...

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

More On the Christmas Tree Bandit


Bandit handiwork, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

So much has happened regarding the Christmas Tree Bandit, I hardly know where to start.

First off, Cedar Park, the small, ahem, humble town in which I live now has its very own bandit. Now, it's not the same bandit as the "official" Christmas tree bandit, mind you (can there really be an "official" bandit? I'm not too sure about that but, if there were one, it would be the one from Austin I suppose.)

For those of you unfamiliar with the Christmas Tree Bandit, you can read up on him here or just take my word that he exists. He randomly decorates trees along Austin's 360 corridor. Why is he called a bandit, well, that's an easy one. Because the City of Austin, in their infinite wisdom, declares the trees "trash" since, though he does clean up after himself, more than 30 days elapses between the time he hangs the decorations and the time he tears them down so, technically, they are "trash" at least according to Austin Police (APD) and the City Council in their infinite wisdom.

Cedar Park has taken a proactive stance with regard to this bandit behavior; they've started alerting the citizens of this "random Christmas decorator" (as they call him) by making an official statement. Brace yourself, my fellow citizens, for the City has spoken and, well, we hardly know of anything else that makes sense coming from a Town Hall these days.

The statement says that the City of Cedar Park will allow the "bandit" (or bandits, as the case may be) to decorate but asks that anyone participating in decorations consider the "welfare of the wildlife that lives in the trees." Ok, so we're allowed to put up Christmas balls, provided we don't strangle the squirrels. Got it. Check. They also tell us that they "won't be dusting Christmas balls for fingerprints anytime soon." Phew! Now that's a relief. (I guess the new motto of Cedar Park could be: "Welcome to Cedar Park. We're not as loony as Austin. Just yet. But, you know, give us time and we'll catch...er...up?")

Next in my seasonal Bandit news briefing, it was just yesterday that I happened upon the actual Christmas Tree Bandit. The real one. The original. He was down in Austin talking to the pinon wood selling guy on highway 360. And, big news here, he's married now. He was actually standing there, talking to the pinon guy with his new bride. How romantic. (Congrats, Christmas Tree Bandit guy, and bride, wherever you may roam!) They were both parked next to his truck which is a white Chev...oh wait, I can't tell you that much information now, can I? (I'm certainly not going to finger the Tree Bandit, no no no, we can't have that now, can we?) He drives a Dodge actually, or maybe it was a Toyota. Gosh, it was really hard to make it out. Come to think of it, it might have been a Ferrari. Yeah, that's it. A purple Ferrari, with orange bucket sets and a big longhorn on the front. (What's that you say? Ferrari's don't come in purple? Yeah, well Christmas Tree Bandits don't actually drive now, do they? Since they don't really exist and all. Not if APD has anything to ask me about them, they don't or like they wouldn't. "Honest officer...he looked just like the Stig without his helmet." That's all I got.)

Turns out that APD also had their hands full this past week. One of the Yogurt Shop Murder suspects got stopped at a red light, bolted, and wound up stabbing a police officer in the neck. The officer is ok (he'll recover) but the Yogurt Shop Murder suspect was killed by APD over the course of defending themselves. Now, I can't speak as to why somebody would want to run away, stab a cop, get shot, and killed two days before Christmas but I can probably safely guess that APD was a bit busy this holiday season, so much so that they appear to have let up their search for Christmas Tree Bandits everywhere and have actually started, oh I don't know, hunting murderers instead. Something tells me this sounds like a bit better use of taxpayer funds so I'll just leave it at that. (Apologies if you'll have to cancel your BOLO's, tear down your police sketches and re-decorate the Post office looking for more hardened criminals, but the tree decorating bandit is still on the loose. Citizens of Austin should be vigilant in locking their...um...pine trees up tight I suppose. You wouldn't want any free roaming holiday decor landing on your front porch-it could be hazardous to your squirrels. Unless, of course, you live in Cedar Park, where it would appear all of the town squirrels got some memo from Town Hall asking them to go to Florida for the winter so we can decorate our highways without coronating a new batch of felons on the lam from the law. Or something like that.)

With all of this bandit news happening, I'd be remiss if I didn't tell you that, this year anyway, there's a new form a decoration appearing. Since the bandit got married many folks (not just the bandit himself, mind you) have taken to putting up decor in honor of a loved one or for the recently/soon to be married folks they know. There are now a bunch of trees sprouting up with decor that reads thing like, "Greg and Susan, November 29, 2010" (and the like.) It's a new trend in Christmas Tree Bandit Decor I'd have to say, if such a thing can be construed as a trend at all, since as the whole thing is illegal unless, of course, you live in Cedar Park and then it's just annoying to squirrels everywhere (I suppose.)

I'd say "that's a wrap" but it might be illegal in my town (no word from Town Hall regarding Christmas wrapping paper just yet) so, instead, I'll just send you a picture of a short tree with some balls on it and leave it at that. Oh, and, should you happen to see a purple Ferrari with orange bucket seats a big longhorn on the front being driven by a Stig and his misses, don't forget to wave. (*Waves* Hi Bandit! Merry Christmas!)

Is there someplace where Christmas is normal? Yeah, I so want to move *there* don't you?

Until next time...

Christmas Tree Bandit Handiwork

I have much to share about the Christmas Tree Bandit with you today, though longer post will have to wait until I get to a real keyboard. A quick snap of his handiwork will have to do for now.




Until next time...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Ok Go on How to Be A Star in a Few Easy Steps


SpiralsAndSpokes, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

The other day, I was reading this article written by Damian Kulash over at the Wall Street Journal.

Who is Damian Kulash? You might ask and I might be here to tell you.

Mr. Kulash is not some boring economist, marking strategist, or dullard CEO, rather he's the lead singer and guitarist for the rock band Ok Go (apologies if you do not recognize them sans treadmills, but they are one of the more popular acts of 2010.)

It dawned on me as I was reading the article that a lot of what he says about music also applies to photography. You could say the same thing about a lot of successful photographers nowadays, in fact, image if the article were written by a photographer. It might run something like this:

"My photography has been viewed by millions of people on Facebook, I've made videos on YouTube and thousands have watched me take a shooting vacation to the Grand Canyon, coming back with the most stunning of prints and a how-to video for aspiring photographers. I have several thousand followers on Twitter and my Flickr images are instant faves for hundreds of people.

For most people, the obvious question is: Has this helped sell [prints]? The quick answer is yes. We've sold more than 600,000 [prints] over the last decade. But the more relevant answer is that doesn't really matter. A half a million [prints] is nothing to shake a stick at, but it's the online statistics that set the tone of our business and, ultimately, the size of our income.

We once relied on investment and support from a major [gallery]. Now we make a comparable living raising money directly from fans and through licensing and sponsorship. Our bank accounts don't rival Lady Gaga's, but we've got more creative freedom than we did as small fish in her pond.

[Pay attention-this is where the parallels get really interesting.]

For a decade, analysts have been hyperventilating about the demise of [photography]. But [photography] isn't going away. We're just moving out of the brief period—a flash in history's pan—when an artist could expect to make a living selling [prints] alone. [Art] is as old as humanity itself, and just as difficult to define. It's an ephemeral, temporal and subjective experience.

For several decades, though, from about World War II until sometime in the last 10 years, the [print] industry managed to successfully and profitably pin it down to a stable, if circular, definition: [Photography] was prints of [photos]. [Photos] not only made it possible for [photographers] to connect with [viewers] anywhere, at any time, but offered a discrete package for commoditization. It was the perfect bottling of lightning: A powerful experience could be packaged in plastic and then bought and sold like any other commercial product. [He says plastic, but it might as well be silver/paper, a frame, or a magazine subscription just as well.]

Then came the Internet, and in less than a decade, that system fell. With uncontrollable and infinite duplication and distribution of [images], selling [images] suddenly became a lot like selling apples to people who live in orchards. In 1999, global record sales totaled...[I've left the actual sales figures out, but you can catch the drift here.]

[Photography] is getting harder to define again. It's becoming more of an experience and less of an object. Without [prints] as clearly delineated receptacles of value, last century's rules—both industrial and creative—are out the window. For those who can find an audience or a paycheck outside the traditional system, this can mean blessed freedom from the [photo] industry's gatekeepers.

Georgia singer/songwriter Corey Smith has never had a traditional record contract, but in 2008 he grossed about $4 million from touring, merchandise and other revenue, yielding roughly $2 million that was reinvested in the singer's business, according to his manager, Marty Winsch. Mr. Smith makes his recordings downloadable at no cost from his website, and Mr. Winsch emphasizes that they are promotion for his live shows, not the other way around. "We don't look at it as 'free,' " he says. "When people come to the website and download the music, they're giving us their time, their most valuable commodity." Recently, Mr. Smith entered a partnership with a small music company, but unlike a traditional label deal, the arrangement will give him 50% of any net revenue.

Mr. Smith's touring success, unfortunately, isn't indicative of industry trends. Live performance, once seen as the last great hope of the music industry, now looks like anything but. Live Nation, the largest concert promoter in the U.S., recently reported that concert revenue is down 14.5% since last year. A report by Edison Research found that in 2010, 12-to-24-year-olds went to fewer than half as many concerts as they did in 2000; nearly two-thirds went to none at all.

[The same can be said of the print world in the land of photography-a place where subscribers are drying up faster than water drops in the Sahara, magazines are folding at record pace, and books are no longer being produced at all unless they come from the mouth of Blurb and are completely artist funded.]

So if vanishing [print] revenue isn't being replaced by touring income, how are [photographers] feeding themselves? For moderately well established artists, the answer is increasingly corporate sponsorship and licensing—a return, in a sense, to the centuries-old logic of patronage. In 1995, it was rare for musicians to partner with corporations; in most corners of the music industry, it was seen as the ultimate sell-out. But with investments from labels harder to come by, attitudes towards outside corporate deals have changed. [Same can be said for photographers.]

These days, money coming from a record label often comes with more embedded creative restrictions than the marketing dollars of other industries. A record label typically measures success in number of records sold. [Same is true for a photographer working for a magazine-you find yourself facing a staff of editors and have to "sell" an idea, often leaving little in the way of artistic freedom for the photographer.) Outside sponsors, by contrast, tend to take a broader view of success. The measuring stick could be mentions in the press, traffic to a website, email addresses collected or views of online videos. Artists have meaningful, direct, and emotional access to our fans, and at a time when capturing the public's attention is increasingly difficult for the army of competing marketers, that access is a big asset.

My band parted ways with the record label EMI a little less than a year ago....[Many photographers no longer carry gallery representation, many do not have book deals, most no longer work for publications, either in the form of newspapers or magazines/print who once provided a stable income for the working photographer. Even stock photography, the once bastion of money making for struggling photographers, is now a well that has run dry. Thanks to the advent of micro stock and diminishing fees for stock photography, photographers can no longer depends upon the income from these revenue streams to support themselves and their creative outlet.]

Now when we need funding for a large project, we look for a sponsor. A couple weeks ago, my band held an eight-mile musical street parade through Los Angeles, courtesy of Range Rover. They brought no cars, signage or branding; they just asked that we credit them in the documentation of it. A few weeks earlier, we released a music video made in partnership with Samsung, and in February, one was underwritten by State Farm. [How many photo blogs, including this one, are sponsored or have some form of corporate sponsorship? Is it really going to be a big jump, if it hasn't happened already, to envision corporations sponsoring, actually commissioning photographic work that exists only in the realm of new media? How long before Nike pays some sharp shooter to go and shoot the sneakers for Twitter or Facebook, without making it look like some kind of ad? Has it already happened? Probably so, would be my guess.]

We had complete creative control in the productions. At the end of each clip we thanked the company involved, and genuinely, because we truly are thankful. We got the money we needed to make what we want, our fans enjoyed our videos for free, and our corporate Medicis got what their marketing departments were after: millions of eyes and goodwill from our fans. While most bands struggle to wrestle modest video budgets from labels that see videos as loss leaders, ours wind up making us a profit. [How many photographers will start to turn a profit from avenues like Facebook or Twitter in 2011?]

The unsigned and unmanaged Los Angeles band Killola toured last summer and offered deluxe USB packages that included full albums, live recordings and access to two future private online concerts for $40 per piece. Killola grossed $18,000 and wound up in the black for their tour. Mr. Donnelly says, "I can't imagine they'll be ordering their yacht anytime soon, but traditionally bands at that point in their careers aren't even breaking even on tour."

What Killola is learning is that making a living in music isn't just about selling studio recordings anymore. It's about selling the whole package: themselves. And there are plenty of pioneers leading the way. Top-shelf studio drummer Josh Freese sold his album online with a suite of add-ons. For $250, fans could have lunch with him at P.F. Chang's; he says the 25 slots he offered sold out in a day. One fan sprung for the $20,000 option, which included a miniature golf outing with Mr. Freese and his friends. [Ok, so why aren't there photographers offering to sell lunch with them at P.F. Chang's or private lessons, "go shooting with a pro!" for exorbitant fees?]

Not every musician takes the project of selling themselves literally, but the personality and personal lives of musicians are being more openly recognized as valuable assets. [Same for photographs. We've known for a long time that photographers lead interesting lives, travel a lot, work with glamorous models, etc. and there is a huge market opportunity to show the "behind the scenes" type of work-the artist at work, if you will. This demand, while it can seem outright silly at times to a working photographer, it can be a huge untapped marketing opportunity: show yourself at work, show the wizard behind the curtain to help sell the finished product.] The Twitter account of rapper 50 Cent arguably has wider reach than his last album did, and Kanye West has made an art form out of existing in the public eye, holding spontaneous online press conferences and posting rambling blog entries.

This isn't so revolutionary an idea. Pop music has always been a bigger canvas than beats, chords and lyrics alone. In his early days, Elvis's hips were as famous as his voice, and Jimi Hendrix's lighter fluid is as memorable as any of his riffs, but back then the only yardstick to quantify success was the Billboard charts. Now we are untethered from the studio recording as our singular medium, and we measure in Facebook fans, website hits, and—lucky for me—YouTube views.

[The same is true for photography and the photographic medium. Look at how many artists were "personalities" in that they capitalized on some quirk or small aspect of their personality.]

I hope this article gave you something to think about or solidified some of the ramblings we read about social media and marketing for photographers in this new dawn of scattered Internet content.

Until next time...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Autumn is Here Now


SoftTREE, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

It's pretty much peak autumn right now in Cedar Park. The leaves have all turned red and it's a balmy 75 degrees in the sunshine. I am going to be home this week and have many tasks to do but I'm not going to bore you with those details.

I shot this picture of the big Bradford Pear tree in my backyard a few days ago. I managed to soften it up a bit in camera and took its picture before what's left of the leaves have fallen off and blown away.

I hope to get out some shooting this week but I'm really enjoying my time resting up and getting stuff done around the house. I got a new TV set for my bedroom and set that up yesterday, so now I can watch TV in bed again (the other one, it would appear, just stopped working one day. I don't know why I have such trouble with television sets, I really don't.) Chase is enjoying having me home too, he barks at me and demands that I stop and pet him on a regular basis. I've been doing some pastels too, at least I did another drunken building over the weekend.

Today I'm meeting some friends at Z Tejas at lunch and then I'm going to start working on my sketchbook project. I have to find a "super hero" at the dollar store, at least that's my goal for today. I'll work on the project once I get the super here in place anyway. Watch this space for more details as that project unfolds.

Until next time...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

First Photo from New Camera


AgaveHeart, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

Greetings, Snowflakes! Queen flake (that would be me, in case you weren't paying attention) has just completed her Photoshop upgrade and can now safely upload shots from her spiffy new camera. Well, ok, maybe it's not so spiffy, it's just sort of a camera, but...like...you get the idea. It's new photos from new camera time.

This one was taken on one of my many trips over to the Hill Country Water Gardens. It's a close up (detail) view of one of the plants they have there. This is shot number 2 from my new camera (the first one will be uploaded at a later time.)

Since I'm now uploading photos from the new camera, I can now tell you that this means I'm also running Adobe Photoshop CS5. And, as if all of that new stuff were not enough, CraftyGuy has been teaching me some new teenage lingo so now I can say CS5 is the shizz or, as he so eloquently put it, "it's all that and a bag of chips."

Of course, when I first loaded CS5 it did what all Adobe apps do right out of the box. It crashed. Oh, and it wouldn't open my files. Lovely. I just love computer programmers, they #$%^ things up before they get them right. But, fear not, not to worry and all, I managed to run the super secret upgrade program and arm wrestle CS5 into recognizing my camera RAW file format. Yay! Score one for Canon. I mean, um, yeah, Canon wins that battle this time. (They screw up so many other things, we should just quietly let them have this little victory, shouldn't we?)

Still getting used to the Adobe Camera RAW new format and the spiffy new camera RAW editor/viewer program. It's got all kinds of new slider thingies and lots of little buttons and do-dahs. Oh, this is going to be fun, I already like it, even though I don't know what's in it or how to use it. Yes, I know. I'm easily amused.

Next up, Carol tries to use her printer. Oh, right. Now, how many of you out in Internet lands think that's going to go just swimmingly? Yeah, if you believe that, I've got a bridge to sell you and, the bridge? It's all that and a bag of chips really.

Until next time...

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Red Leaf Diaries on a Crisp Sunday Morning


Red leaf glory, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
There's nothing quite like a crisp, clear, Sunday morning, is there? It's the snap in the air, the chill that wakes you up. Well, ok, maybe it was actually Chase barking at the cat again that woke me up, but you get the idea.

Top o' the mornin' to ya! It's Sunday.

On slate for today, I have some pastels to do this afternoon and I've already had a bit of a morning walk, at least I went back outside to the backyard where I found some beautiful autumn glory. The trees are quite nice now, just turning all red on us. This is what they look like from my yard.

Austin is not famous as an autumn location and, for the most part, I can see why. This isn't your mother's Massachusetts after all, but there's something about sometimes hitting a nice little autumn, neatly tucked away in this quiet little normally autumn-less place, that really makes me smile a bit. Sure, we don't have the glamor of Maine or even the sweeping colors of Connecticut, but we all experience autumn in some little way, even if it's only in the form of one little red leaf. There's no escaping autumn, even if you only get to see it for a short time and with only a few leaves to point it out.

So, here you go. Here's the Austin version of autumn for you. Is it autumn in your little world? It it winter yet?

(Hey, that's the other neat thing about seasons: they change!)

Until next time...

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Still No Sober Buildings and Some Show News


Windy city, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

Still no sober buildings today, but I wanted to post this, which is a better picture of the windy city (aka "drunk buildings" project) that I'm working on now. This one is a bit more of a straight shot, yesterday's was thanks to the hipsta. While I love the hipsta for what it does to photographs, I am really not sure it's the greatest thing for reproducing artwork.

Some show news to tell you about too today.

For starters, I found out that I was accepted into the Texas Photographic Society's "Your Best Shot" competition, which was jurored by Fraction Magazine's David Bram. You can see the gallery here.

Next up, I'm participating in a holiday show over at Pigoata Studios. It will be held on December 18th and I'll have work there along with a lot of the folks from the Texas Wax organization. Please stop by if you are in the neighborhood and need some last minute holiday gift items. It's over on Bolm Road, next to Big Medium.

Finally, a word about why I have not been blogging so much. I've gotten a large commercial client who wanted to use some of my work for some upcoming corporate demonstrations, so I've been up to my elbows in getting that together. Not how I always want my work to get out there but it's getting out there nevertheless, so I'm happy with it. Commercial clients are always nice, since they pay me this stuff called "money" and, I'm told, it makes the world go 'round so it can't be all that bad, right?

Well, so long as you don't run out of it, I guess, it's not the end of the world. I mean, somebody had to go and paint all of those dead presidents so, in some small way, it really is all about supporting the arts this holiday season, right?

Until next time...

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Drunken Buildings

Ok, who let the skyscrapers into the liquor cabinet again?!?



Until next time...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, December 05, 2010

This is my Last Sober Building for a while now


CleanLines, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
This is my last sober building for a while now. Earlier today, I was in the studio, playing around with some pastels, and I decided that I wanted to draw myself some "drunken buildings." I tried to explain it to somebody else too, I said, "I have this burning desire to create drunken buildings-you know, buildings that look like parenthesis?" She didn't know what I was talking about. Then, I drew one and she said, "oh! Right! Like Doctor Seuss!" Yeah, just like that.

Then I did a big pastel of these "drunken buildings" and I realized that, tonight anyway, I might have found my true calling. I felt like a kid again. It was fun. It's fun to draw drunken buildings. The entire world should be drunk all the time. The entire world should never have to conform to things like horizon lines, levels, and plumbs. Even the word plumb, well, I take exception to that. A plumb is a nice tasting fruit and I refuse to grow up. It's never to late to enjoy a misspent childhood. In fact, when I was a kid, I used to draw straight lines, lines with rulers. Now? Not so much. Make them all shaped like big giant "C's" I say. There's enough serious in the world, let's have some fun, shall we? Drunken buildings for one and all.

I did a big pastel of these drunken buildings and, while I was doing it, I realized something. It's kind of hard to do this. I mean, it's kind of hard to figure out what color to use for them. Nothing normal here-I made the sky a bright yellow, a lot of the buildings purple, the people sort of dark reddish. But, it's hard to do. The urge to mass in some kind of realistic like color really hit me-I had to fight it and fight it very hard. I mean, how do you come up with a color scheme for a world that doesn't exist? Eh, lime green, purple, anything crazy will do, I suppose.

In the end, I'm almost happy with my drunken buildings. I want to do more. I feel empowered by these drunken, leaning, circular spectacles. No more straight buildings for me. Maria even said to me, "this is what you are supposed to be doing." It's like I've found my true calling. They are so *me* in oh so many ways, these drunken buildings are.

So tonight, I have to say, this might be my last sober building for a while. I may never draw one again, in fact. I like them all drunk, like Dr. Seuss. Drunk like Gaudi. Leaning over, tilted, jilted, crooked, crumpled, creviced, or otherwise messed up in some little way. Drunken, purple and lime green crooked buildings, yup, that's me. I mean, crap, why be normal?

This is my last sober building for a while now. It may be my last sober building ever. I've found a new way, a better way, a drunken building way. And, frankly, I can't wait to show it to you. I want you to see what kind of a drunken building stupor I've worked myself up into-I want to share my new little drunken building world with everybody I see.

Is it lime green in your world tonight? Or are you still a plain beige kind of a person today? Go on, loosen your buildings and see what it does for your perspective.

Until next time...

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Racing to the Finish Line

Today marks the end of National Blog Posting Month. I'm pretty sure that, by creating this post, I'm actually going to win the challenge. Yay! Go, me!

There's something else you need to know about NabloPoMo this year. I actually didn't do any scheduled posts (well, other than this one which was done yesterday, or, um, actually today but that's tomorrow. Just thank the magic of the Internets and we'll leave it at that, ok?) Last year, you see, I had done scheduled post after scheduled post, and relied heavily on the ability to schedule items in order to win the competition. Not this year. Nope, this year, I actually did it sort of "real time" or without any scheduled posts at all.

Now, I know this probably doesn't sound like much, and I'm sure you don't care really how it was done (some of you probably don't even care that it was done at all, you just stop in here for the iPhone tips and the "Painters Every Photographer Should Know" posts so that I can complete your term papers in art school. You're welcome, by the way.) It's big news to me, however. You see, this year, I didn't know I was going to win the competition until the end of the month, and it left all month for me to figure out what to yap on about. Each and every day, I sat down at the computer and brought you a live post, of some kind. Yes, it's true, some were of considerable quality (and I don't mean that in a good way) but, literally each and every day, I sat down and wrote something, anything, just to complete the challenge.

I know it might sound shallow and boastful, but I kind of feel good about that. It reminded me of the old days of blogging, back before the scheduled post. Back before bloggers like me had "editorial calendars" (I still really don't know what that means) back when we were just talking and posts were just posts...stuff people talked about during their quiet time. Back before the professional bloggers moved in and everybody was trying to "make six figures blogging before they die" sort of a thing. Back when things were organic, of sorts, and everybody just kind of blogged for the sake of blogging, not because they were trying to get rich, get famous, retire at the age of 29 or anything like that. It was a throwback to the days of old, and I'm really glad I did NaBloPoMo again this year.

So, thanks for coming along for the ride. I've really enjoyed the 30 days that were November this year. I've gotten the usually spike in traffic (I'm sure that will go away soon enough-you all have a holiday goose to eat, of some kind, don't you?) and made a few new friends, not to mention reconnected with some older ones. I've had a lot of fun, it was for a good cause, and everybody can now safely move on to next month.

Is it December already? Yipes! Doesn't time fly when you're racing to December?

Until next...ah...month this time...

Monday, November 29, 2010

iPhone iDea-Diptych and Triptych


Dark and light, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
One of the issues you might have to confront when trying to print or show your iPhone work is how to present it. After I announced that I was doing an upcoming iPhone invitational show, a lot of photographers contacted me and asked the same question, "...but, how are you going to print them?"

There are a few challenges here. For starters, some of you might have the older iPhone cameras, the ones that were not the higher megapixel variety, and so printing large is out of the question. Also, a lot of galleries have a strict "no Photoshop" rule, since the iPhone stuff is supposed to be lo-fi, so fixing things with Photoshop might be off the table as well. Horror of horrors, what to do?

Diptych and triptych to the rescue!

What do I mean by that? Well, there are easy ways to create diptychs and triptychs with iPhone photos. For starters, the iPhone can be used to create small, square images. These can easily be included in diptychs and triptychs, either in Photoshop or in another program. Also, you don't even need software to do this at all. Allow me to explain.

For my upcoming iPhone show, I'm printing my images and mounting them on 6x6 inch boards. You can then buy brackets (hardware brackets) at a place like Home Depot (or a local hardware store) and hinge the smaller boards together, creating one larger piece. You can also make polyptchs (anything more than 3) and use this as a technique to build up larger scale work.

With the iPhone4, I'm able to print up to 10 inch by 10 inch pretty easily. By starting from a 10x10 inch board, I could easily build up a wall of iPhone images, arranging them in a nice grid shape, creating a large square work. This can also make for easy shipping, since it can be torn apart and shipped, provided you include instructions on how to piece it back together again.

So, there you have it. The iPhone solves another problem and provides yet another creative outlet. Diptychs, triptychs, and polyptychs also provide an added form of artistic expression, as you get to decide which images go with which other images. When presenting work like this, it's much about the editing as it is about the work itself, and that really allows the strength of the iPhone imagery to shine through. I'd love to see a large scale installation presented like this-just a thousand small iPhone images all presented together into a massive installation. Imagine too a modern day Marilyn Monroe style image, repeated over and over again, to fill a large space. How cool would that be?

Even on a smaller scale this can work well too. The power of the diptych and triptych, the simple means of hinging smaller work together to make something larger, something more impressive, is not lost on the iPhone camera.

Hey, if it was good enough for Andy Warhol, it should be good enough for you too, right?

Until next time...

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Studio Time Today


PurpleFlowersAdobeWall, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
Quick blog today before I head off into the studio. Got some binder clips which I hope will help me control all of my drawing papers now that it's so windy here in River City. I hope to hit the studio at 2 pm today and continue to draw into the afternoon. Might spend some evening time processing shots or actually setting up new version of Photoshop (upgrade) which I still need to do. So much to do and so little time left after the long holiday weekend.

I hope you are making the most of your Sunday afternoon. Listen to some cool jazz, draw some, paint, or just relax a bit. Tomorrow, it's back to the grind yet again.

Until next time...

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Hands


FoldedArms, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
When you stop to look at them, hands tell a lot about a person. Do you work? Do you play? Do you paint? Are your hands soft and caring or hard and defined? Young or old? There's a lot you can tell about a person from just looking at their hands.

When I took this shot, I wanted it to look like an old painting. I wasn't going for the photographic look, but wanted the softness of the light and the softness of the setting to define the image, even though I knew the hands in question were not all that soft. These are obviously a man's hands, and I wanted to show that too, but I wanted the result to look like a very old painting, rather than a modern photograph.

If you've ever done life drawing you've probably realized how difficult it can be to draw hands well. Hands are complicated. They are these complicated appendages stuck onto the ends of our arms, flapping around for all of the world to see.

It's funny how we have an entire body to play around with, yet we put our clothing over our torsos. Our faces, feet, and hands probably tell more about us than anything else, yet we sometimes leave those uncovered for all to see. Isn't that odd in some ways? Leave open the face, the most vital and distinguishable part, but cover those hips, baby. Yeah, it doesn't make a lot of sense when you really stop to think about it, but that's how we live.

Check go ahead, check out your hands. See where your hands will take you today.

Until next time...

Friday, November 26, 2010

Top 10 Photo Books I Want This Christmas


Still life, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
Since it's Black Friday today, I've decided to help you along with a list of photo books I'd love to find under my holiday tree this year. These are all taken from a recent ICP catalog, and you must keep in mind that I have a huge stash of books already, so these would just be new ones or ones that have somehow managed to escape my radar.

Photo books can make excellent gifts, even for those who aren't photographers themselves. Some of these are interesting topics, some thought provoking, others just probably pretty to look at.

Here is my list:

10. Jasper, Texas The Community Photographs of Alonzo Jordan-since I live in Texas and I remember the incident that sparked this the book might be more of a personal choice, but it's surely one to be high on the list for those of you looking for the thought provoking side of things. Jordan worked as a photographer for 40 years in Jasper, Texas, a small town that was little known until the brutal dragging death of a forty nine year old African American named James Byrd. Byrd was murdered by three white males on June 7, 1998 in Jasper and this book is an attempt at documenting the everyday life of several generations of Jasper's African American residents.
9. Publish Your Photography Book by Darius D. Himes and Mary Virginia Swanson-With these two great authors at the helm, this book is sure to wrangle in some great tips and tricks for producing fantastic photo books.
8. America by Car by Lee Friedlander-This collection find Friedlander getting out of the city and into the car, as he drove across most of the country's 50 states in an ordinary rental car over the course of a decade.
7. Stieglitz, Steichen, Strand by Malcom Daniel-this collection features work from three of the premiere photographers of the 20th century.
6. Palm Springs by Robert Doisneau-In 1960, Robert Doisneau was invited by Fortune magazine to shoot Palm Springs, the then hottest travel spot. This book, a collection of previously unpublished work, features Doisneau in color and in California.
5. Sanctuary by Gregory Crewdson-In this book, Crewdson ditches the large scale production and heads to Rome with a small crew to shoot the old stomping grounds of Fellini and Rossellini in black and white. Count me in.
4. The Long Now by Uta Barth-meet me at the edge of vision with the master of blur, this book might not be for everybody but it's near the top of the list for those who lean towards the abstract minimal.
3. Hiroshi Sugimoto-what you get when you mix up long exposures, large format, and excellent printing, this exploration in Asian minimalism is a feast for the eyes.
2. Huangshan by Michael Kenna-Kenna in China, what more can I say?
1. The Gernsheim Collection by Roy Flukinger-I'm very excited about this book because it's written by Roy Flukinger, one of Austin's own photographic experts and scholars, about one of the world's greatest collections of photography.

I'm sure there are a lot more books out there, but this sample might help you get things going and is sure to please even the most picky of photographic tastes on your holiday shopping list.

Until next time...

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving - Almost Winter


Sky, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

Happy Thanksgiving to everybody out in blog land today!

For my friends from afar, who maybe don't celebrate this holiday, allow me to explain. Today, in the US, lots of folks have traveled home to be with their families, where everybody enjoys a traditional holiday meal. We sit down to turkey, stuffing, potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, and pies while enjoying our family and friends. There's also a big parade in New York which is played on TV and a lot of people have off from work, some both today and tomorrow, when we have something called "Black Friday" which is actually the start of the Christmas shopping season. It's a very big event in the US, with almost everybody celebrating this traditional holiday in some way, even if it's just having a bit of turkey.

Today also marks a big cold front moving into the Austin area and I'm actually kind of excited about this since I want my allergies to go the way of summer and be gone. I'm hoping the cooler weather will bring in not only coats, mittens, and a bit of frost, but an end to my allergies which have been quite severe this autumn season. Here's hoping, right?

I'm happy to report that the cold front is almost here. Yay! Also, I'm fully stuffed with my holiday meal--the key lime pie was great but the mashed potatoes and roast? Oh, that was tops. I'm totally full and fed--fat, dumb, and happy now.

I hope that, if you're in the US you are enjoying your holiday meal with friends and family and that this Thanksgiving finds you safe and happy. Safe travels to all and happy eating as well.

Thanksgiving also marks a time for us to pay thanks for what we have. Personally speaking, I'm thankful for my family, my great little buddy Chase, my artist buddies everywhere, my photographer friends, my cameras, paint, brushes, computers and all of the stuff that brings you the behind the scenes items to make up this website, as well as the men and women who are bravely serving their country and community, either overseas, as part of the armed forces, or those first responders who we count on every day to help keep us safe. You're all wonderful and I'm thankful for each and every one of you.

Another tradition on Thanksgiving is that we take an afternoon nap and I'm going to go and do that right now. I'm a bit tired and want to nap now so again, Happy Thanksgiving everybody and don't forget to get all of your naps in before we have to go to work again on Monday.

Until next time...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Giving Thanks iPhone Version


Adobe wall, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

Tomorrow marks the Thanksgiving holiday for those of us in the United States. That means it's time to give thanks, enjoy a holiday meal with the family, relax a bit, stay home from work, and the like. It also means the wind up of the Christmas season as well as the start of shopping and a lot of football games (and parades for the little ones!)

A lot of folks want to leave the camera behind, since it's big and clunky and they just don't want to deal with all of the messiness of having it around while they are trying to eat. Of course, they still want photos to remember the holiday with, right? IPhone to the rescue!

The iPhone can be used to take pictures around the table, quick snaps of food, and the like. It's a great little device to get those family snaps without having to make the family...well...snap. Since nobody feels they are being harassed by the camera, you can get away with a lot more not to mention the fact that the iPhone with it's compact size and convenient push-button operation works well in places like your kitchen.

So, go ahead, snap away! Your kids will still stick out their tongues and you might get mashed potatoes on your phone but it'll all probably be worth it in the end. At least you'll have some holiday memories to work with and you won't ruin a $1500 camera, right?

Just maybe don't forget and accidentally stuff it in your turkey, ok?

Until next time...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Venice by Wax


Venice, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

Ok, so it's not the greatest of photographic reproductions, but this little shot will allow me to share with you what I was up to in the studio yesterday. I made this and one other wax painting which you can view at my Flickr stream (or just wait until, probably tomorrow, when I post that one too.)

This one started out life as a pastel, of sorts, and then went into a wax painting. My other work from yesterday is a photo printed on mulberry paper and then stuck onto a wax painting. Encaustics are fun, I really love them, love the way they look and all, but they can be quite hard and difficult to deal with. If you know how to drive, I believe the words "controlled skid" come to mind. Any small notion you have that you might actually be in control of something? Yeah, you need to kind of throw that right out of the window.

So how was your weekend?

In other, more "helmet related" news, I finally got a chance to catch up to the American version of Tog Gear, which aired on the History Channel this weekend. I have to say, I had very low expectations, I was half expecting a train wreck, I guess, and I was pleasantly surprised. The show is not half bad, even without the "three graces." Only three have gone missing? Yes, it's true, because, although there are four official "hosts" of Top Gear, Lord Stiggy has found his way across the pond, as it were, and is also working with the American hosts. It's great to see him so close, in California and all. Oh happy day! The Stig keeps getting closer. My evil plot to marry him and then take over the world is actually slowly happening. At least the wheels have all started to turn very slowly about this indeed. (Of course, probably much too slowly for anything resembling a proper Stig and all, but I do drive more like James May anyway so it all fits.)

In case my Stig ramblings have grown too much for you, I'd have to summarize by saying I liked Top Gear America. The hosts weren't bad, the show wasn't bad, the chase scene was actually very interesting, it was film a little bit less like the British one but it wasn't half bad. Really, nothing was wrong with it and I suspect it will grow on me as time goes by and I get used to the hosts more. Of course, I still won't stop watching the British version but now this gives me something to watch, something besides Burn Notice, which is also airing new episodes.

It beats staring at Venice by Wax for hours on end, doesn't it?

Until next time...

Monday, November 22, 2010

Stu...Stu....Studio Time!


YayInRed, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

Yay!

I *finally* got some studio time in today. I completed two paintings, one photo and encaustic and one pastel and encaustic.

I started by doing a pastel on clayboard, working from a picture I had taken in Venice. After I was (somewhat) happy with the results in pastel, I added the wax to the surface to "seal" the painting and to add an extra layer on it, making it an encaustic panel. I've been wanting to try out this technique for a while now and, I have to say, I'm somewhat happy with the results.

Next up, I printed one of my favorite images onto some mulberry paper, made up a wax panel, and layered the picture into the wax. It worked fairly well, good enough for me to realize that I can now go ahead and do some of my "Mexico in Blue" work this way. I've always wanted to present this work this way and, frankly, I wasn't so sure how it would hold up or if it would look the what I wanted it to. I'm happy to say it came out the way I expected and so I'm now able to go ahead and do this with the entire series. It's going to take me a while to do, but I think it's going to be fabulous once I finish it. Really looking forward to this one.

Now, I'm really very tired and spent, so I'm going to rest up, relax, and watch TV tonight.

Until next time...

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Facing EAST-The East Austin Studio Tour Continues


White couch, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
I'll be down at the East Austin Studio Tour (E.A.S.T) again today. Look for me to land there sometime early this afternoon and spend the rest of the day in the lovely little cottage filled with encaustic goodness. It really is quite a sight down there and, if you're in town, please feel free to stop by, pop in, and say hello.

Yesterday, I had opportunity to actually visit some of the East Austin Studio Tour establishments and I'd have to say it was fantastic. I made my way over to Flatbed Press and I purchased a few handmade books at another location on Tillery Street. Today I'm going to try to visit Pump Project and check out some art glass at the glassblowers before popping back into the cottage for my stay with the encaustic work.

EAST is one of the great things about Austin. There are so many artists here, so many folks working and sharing in their craft, it's so great to be a part of it, even in some small way.

I found out yesterday too that my EAST goodness is not going to end this weekend. Even though the shows are officially over at the end of this weekend, I'll be participating in a holiday show at the studios next to Big Medium on December 4th, which should be loads of fun.

Lots of upcoming drawing, painting, and the like as I'm going to also be spending a studio day tomorrow, hopefully hold up making some additional encaustic work. I need to do some smaller work for some holiday gifts and I've been itching to take my "Mexico in Blue" series into the land of wax.

How's your weekend holding up? Hopefully you are out there painting, drawing, taking pictures, or otherwise including some art in your life this weekend as well.

Until next time...

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Vivid


Colors, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

Today's post: vivid.

I've been doing a lot of pastels lately. They give me wonderfully vivid colors and I get to just smudge color all over the place. It's been great fun and I'm really enjoying doing it, almost as much as I love taking pictures.

(Well, I did say almost, didn't I?)

Until next time...

Friday, November 19, 2010

iMixed Media


More schmincke, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

One of the great things about the iPhone is that it also lends itself to working with mixed media. Because it's so easy to use as a camera, and because it's so easy to get images from the Phone to the web (or to your computer) you can do stuff like paint on photos or print on odd papers. It's also really easy to get square images, oddly shaped photos, and the like from the iPhone, which lends itself to mixed media very well. Sure, the quality of the resulting images might not always be twenty seven and a half megapixels but, for mixed media use, you really don't need that anyway, so the iPhone holds its ground here.

One of the projects I'm working on now is an iPhone show. I'm going to have 25 small images on display, printed 6x6 and mounted on art boards. After the show is over, I'll probably take the remaining 6x6 art boards and use them with encaustic medium, dripping wax over the surface to create an array of small encaustic pieces. I'll then take these small square wax coated boards and screw them together, to make a larger installment or possibly leave some of them out to have smaller pieces. It will probably morph itself into another show, this time all encaustic-based. All of this made possible by the trusty little iPhone.

You really don't need a "big" camera to do stuff like this, in fact, the iPhone is probably better at it then the "real" camera because, with the "real" camera you'd be fussing over light, color, contrast, and the like, not to mention having to process them for printing. The iPhone does a lot of that for you, not to mention it's highly portable and created stylized images right from the start.

They have started to make some iPhone-enabled printers or printers that allow you to upload directly from the iPhone and print, without going through your computer. These printers that allow you to bypass your computer could be really handy when doing this kind of mixed media type of work, especially if they can handle different types of paper. There are a lot of people printing on odd types of paper now too, stuff like mulberry and the like, and this too could lend itself well to iPhone images.

So, if you're a watercolorist, pastelist, encaustic painter, or if you just like to play around, the iPhone camera offers something for you. Try some mixed media with the little guy and see what you can come up with or trying taking some prints from your iPhone camera into another medium to see what they can do. It just be might loads of fun, so long as nobody tries to call you in the middle of it all.

Until next time...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Subject, Subjects...As the King Would Say, It's all about Subjects

Like Polaroids from yesteryear, the iPhone is very much a camera about subjects. Certain subjects tend to lend themselves very well to iPhone photography while others? Not so much.

Trees make for interesting subjects, the iPhone can take pretty good portraits, and it's really good at what I like to call "unexpected photography," stuff like unusual camera angles and odd perspectives. They make great skies. You can get people to open up a bit more into a iPhone since it doesn't feel like a "real" camera and you can take it into places where "real" cameras are somewhat frowned upon. I've love to see iPhone shots taken inside a movie theater, for example. Or a grocery store. Or Vegas. Or a strip club. It's only a matter of time before somebody mounts on atop a moving car or vehicle (if they haven't done this already, I'd be surprised.) The thing about the iPhone is that it's really all about the subjects. It's the ultimate in dorm room photography for the masses, the best way to kind of let your hair down a bit as a photographer, let loose, and just have some fun. Ski slope anyone?

The iPhone doesn't appear to do really well with night or long exposure photography, but it does work in subdued light fairly well. At least, it can take shots indoors. The more you think about it, the more it really does start to sound a lot like a Polaroid.

Come to think of it, why doesn't Polaroid have an iPhone app already? Or maybe they do and I just don't know about it yet? Either way, it's bound to happen at some point, right?

If you're thinking about starting an iPhone photography project, it's probably best to think about what kind of subjects you want to shoot. Pick a fun subject, with a wild fresh point of view and your project is bound to be a success. Since I did a lot of buildings and architecture with my Polaroid, it's only fitting that I do the same with my iPhone. I'm also doing a series of drinks served in restaurants. These are both sort of interesting subjects that the iPhone can really sinks it's teeth into a bit, and it's bound to be fun exploring these themes for me. That's really the best way to get a successful project from the iPhone. Think about what you like to do, think about what the camera does best, and artfully blend the two.

For something that some people consider a throw away, it's not just a toy anymore. It's taking some serious snaps.

Until next time...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Tilt It Like An IPhone


Drink, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

Apart from the tilt-shift lens fakery in the iPhone, you can also tilt the camera. One of the best things about the iPhone, in fact, is that, well, you can tilt the camera. Have an annoying background you do not know how to get rid of? Tilt the camera. Want to take pictures out of your car at the sky while you're moving? Tilt the camera. Want to create an interesting portrait of somebody, something totally unusual and different because you've shot them the same way the same time over and over again and now want something new? Tilt the camera. That camera tilt, it works wonders.

In fact, it works almost too well. Allow me to explain. If you do not want to tilt the camera, with the iPhone, you almost have to work at it. You almost have to make sure everything is level and plumb and aligned just so perfectly, otherwise you might find yourself with a slight tilt. Since you're going to get a slight tilt anyway, you might as well throw yourself all in.

Go on, you know you want to try it. Tilt the camera.

Stop being so straight already. Stop trying to level and plumb and align the universe. Go on, try it, just once and you'll see how much you like it. Tilt the camera.

If you don't like the camera tilt that you get, you can always pump the results into something like PlasticBucket (as I've done here) that gives you totally fabulous vignetting. Red around the edges, looking like fake light leaks. It's wonderful.

So, go ahead, go on, tilt the camera.

Until next camera tilt...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

At First Touch...Wait...That's Not a Phone?

Since it's the middle of the month, and the middle of a month long journey into iPhone images, I have received several comments, emails, and the like, and I thought it might be nice to respond.

Many of you are asking technical questions ("what app was that?" or "how did you get that look?") but some of you are lamenting the fact that, alas, you cannot afford an iPhone or that you use a different carrier that does not allow iPhones on their network. Maybe some of you have long-term mobile phone contracts and do not want to break them. Fear not for we at Carol's Little World are here to help.

For starters, many of the cell phone apps are also available on the Droid phones. I'm sure Droid phone photography is just as fun, maybe even in some ways more fun, than iPhone photography, so that's always an option you can explore if you are on a different carrier (or just want to use a different phone.)

For those of you who just do not want a mobile phone camera but want to play along, there's another viable option out there. The latest version of the iPod Touch is basically the same as the iPhone only without the phone bit. What does this mean? Allow me to explain.

The iPod Touch is a device that looks like an iPhone, has apps you can download like the iPhone, has the same camera as the iPhone, and the like. The one difference? It's missing the phone bits. It retails for about $150-$300 and, while it does not offer the 3G network like the iPhone does, it does have models available with Wi-Fi and, perhaps more importantly, it does not require a service contract. Of course, there are a couple of catches, for starters, only the newest (newest of the new) models of the iPod Touch devices has a camera so getting one at some uber-cheap price might be out of the question, at least for a little while. They are not yet quite in the discount bins, but watch for the prices to drop over time, as new devices get introduced. Also, because it has Wi-Fi but not 3G, you will probably have to piggyback it off of something like a home network and this might tap into your ability to upload/download photos. It's very easy to upload iPhone apps to Internet hot spots like Flickr, for example, not so much with the IPod Touch, although this will depend on where you live and how much Wi-Fi is available around your location. For those of you who have a home router, a home network, or live near a Starbucks, this is probably a non-issue anyway.

Finally, like most iPhones (the 4 model like I have included) some of the apps were not written with the iPod Touch in mind so they might not work as well, might crash, etc. The Hipstamatic comes to mind here-it's a wonderful app, but it sure can crash a lot on anything other than a 3G iPhone. I would guess the iPod Touch users will have just as much trouble with it as the rest of the iPhone4 users will, although this will remedy over time, as the apps are slowly being ported up to the newest versions of everything. Every day brings a new release, with new updates to the iPhone apps and every update brings a new "little fix" for something that had been driving us crazy so, while it's true we can actually drop some pictures and the like, this doesn't really bother me all that much. I see it as a situation in which things are getting better, and look forward to the days when the apps will be a bit more seamless. It's just the price we pay for being early to jump on the new toy bandwagon I'd say, and leave it at that.

All things considered, the iPod Touch might be a viable option for those who want to play in the photo world of the iPhone without the long term commitment of an iPhone. Basic translation: it's the iPhone without the phone bits.

I'm actually considering getting one to use for music and photos so that I can use my iPhone for, well, a phone again.

Until next time...

Monday, November 15, 2010

iPhone Skies


, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

Polaroid film was quite famous for giving us some wonderful images of skies. Skies in all of their glory, everything from breathtaking sunsets to dark, ominous clouds were all ripe for Polaroid picking. These days, the iPhone has all but replaced the Polaroid in terms of taking sky photos.

Just like the Polaroids of old, the iPhone doesn't do too well taking sky photos in the dead of night but, get it near a sunset, sunrise or any kind of cool cloud formation? Yes, that's the iPhone's pocket and it will do you good. Even bright sunlight and midday skies can make for great iPhone photos. At a time when many cameras don't cut the mustard, the trusty little pocket friendly iPhone camera can really deliver some great images. Fluffy white clouds, the wonderful gamut of mid-day blue skies and some great framing can really go a long way to making some great sky images even at the otherwise photo-unfriendly hour of high noon. Don't be afraid to experiment with the iPhone camera to see what kind of skies are overhead.

So, go ahead, don't be afraid to whip out that iPhone camera the next time you see a cool sunset, a bright orange sunrise, or even some clouds that look like bunnies in the middle of the day-you just might be on your way to taking some great sky shots with the trusty little iPhone camera. Remember too that you can also take sky shots from your car, train, plane or other odd places, even while moving. Now there's something to do instead of playing some boring road game like "spot the out of state license plate" for you and your kids to enjoy. You can also take shots in the rain from the safety (and dry points) of your car as well.

Either cool skies make for cool photos or those darn Kodak brochures have been lying to me all this time. (Hey, you laugh but, do we really all fully trust those folks from the land of Kodaks?)

Until next time...

Sunday, November 14, 2010

iPhone and Social Media


Jugs again, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

The iPhone goes with social media like peanut butter goes with jelly. Never before has it been so easy to take pictures and upload them to your blog or make a short movie and upload to YouTube. With such a results oriented approach to creativity, it's no wonder people are embracing the iPhone as a new means of making photographic images.

Getting your work on Facebook, Twitter, blogging and the like is very important for a professional image maker. It shows clients a lot about your way of seeing the world, it's a direct connection between your work and your style. It also shows them that you are with it and up on the latest trends. Yes, we can spend too much time on some of these social media sites and yes they even have the potential to turn into a complete time sync, but they can also be valuable tools in branding and marketing. Especially in these hard times, it's always good to get the word out and a lot of these social media outlets have replaced traditional advertising as a means for getting new business.

I'm sure that social marketing is not for everybody. Some people find it a chore and that's Ok. For those who embrace it though, the iPhone camera really helps spread the message and get the word out. It's a great tool for productivity.

Until next time...

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Open Doors and A Good Day for Everybody


Prison doors, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

This year, I'm participating in the East Austin Studio Tour (aka EAST.) EAST is a behind-the-scenes look at working artists' studios. Artists come together, clean up their studios spaces, throw big parties, hang lots of work on the walls, and invite everybody from the community to come and have a look. It's really a great event, it's free, and it's well attended each and every year. This year, over 300 artists are participating and there is food and live music events, as well as other happenings. The doors opened this morning at 11 and it's been an exciting, fun, crazy busy day for everybody.

The website for EAST is eastaustinstudiotour.com.

You can also follow EAST on twitter, Facebook, and all of the usual places online, but, to really get a feel for EAST, it's best to enjoy it in person. If you happen to be in Austin, or in the Austin area, consider stopping by for a look and to participate in some of the activities.

EAST allows artists to sell work, but it's also a way for artists to learn more about other artist's specific tools, techniques, and practices. It's a knowledge exchange as well as a big show.

From the website:
E.A.S.T. remains focused on the Artists & Studios. Studios, the places where artists create their work, will be open from 11:00 AM – 6:00 PM on the tour weekends: November 13 & 14 and 20 & 21.

Exhibition Spaces are established venues whose main thrust is to exhibit fine art or performances. This includes galleries, theaters and the like. Exhibition Spaces on the tour will also be open on the weekends from 11:00 AM – 6:00 PM, November 13 & 14 and 20 & 21

Happenings are temporary art projects created specifically for the East Austin Studio Tour. Happenings include performance pieces, art openings and celebrations. Happenings take place on the tour weekends after 6:00 PM. Furthermore includes an eclectic mix of out-of-the-box events, projects, artist competitions, celebrations, et cetera, et cetera! Check out each one for their location and schedule.

There’s a lot happening on the East Austin Studio Tour, so they maintain a website, print a detailed catalog, and provide a printed map of all the events, studios, and galleries, to help you find specific locations.

This year, they also have a mobile version of the map, generously provided and created by groupKGR. Visit: 2010east.com on your phone for free access. For more information: EMAIL info@eastaustinstudiotour.com PHONE 512-385-1670

I spent the day today down at the EAST headquarters, which is located at a place called "Big Medium" on Bolm Road in Austin. Big Medium is a non-profit gallery, studio, performance, etc. space located next door to the Bay 6 encaustic studio.

Today was a wonderful day, with busloads of people coming in, touring the studio spaces, viewing the work, asking about encaustics, and just generally hanging out and having fun. It was a beautiful day for art in Austin and I was very happy to be a small part of it.

I'll be down in the EAST studio spaces again over the course of the tour and I hope to see some of you there. It's been crazy busy but if you do make it down, please stop in and say hello. I'll be at the Texas Wax Encaustic Artists studio extension, which is pinpoint 66 on your EAST maps. It's located right across the street from Big Medium.

I hope to keep blogging, tweeting, Facebooking-etc. from EAST but it's been hard since it's so busy and I'm sharing a lot of face time with folks from the Austin art scene.

Until next time...

PS Some logistics. (Sorry for those of you who are blog readers but, with all of the craziness happening today, I have to use my blog as a means of communicating with my fellow EAST-goers.)

The labels are up now, they were not up earlier in the day today, when I took the photos with the camera phone. We do not have a full price list but all pieces have prices.

The movie is running in the kitchen. We had a hard time getting the projector to loop but you can push play to get it to go again and it's pretty easy. It's the button with the arrow on top.

We've had some inquiries about the work and came close to selling a few pieces but nothing at the cottage has sold yet (will probably change tomorrow.) Some stuff has sold at the Big Medium studios and also at Bay 6. There is brisk traffic, with bus loads of people coming in. It gets crowded at times, be prepared.

For those gallery sitting, please be ready to chat about encaustics and talk about some of the pieces. We've had a lot of artists asking about Texas Wax so remember our website is texaswax.com and be sure to tell them we meet on the 3rd Saturday of the month, starting again in January.

Blogging from EAST

The east Austin studio tour is in full swing. If you are coming, stop by the cottage and say Hi!



Until next time...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, November 12, 2010

Liquid


KoiAsSilkNo1, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

Today's photo is not a camera phone image. Instead I opted to post something in honor of photo Friday. Today's theme is: liquid.

This was taken at my local koi breeders. In case you could not guess, I love that place. It's wonderful having a koi factory right around the corner, I guess I'm just lucky like that sometimes. Of course, I have limited access to summer carnivals and snow so, you know, you give a little and you get a little, I guess.

Is there anything you'd like to photograph that's just too far away or that you do not have access to somehow? Maybe a grand beach, an ultra-fast sports car or a beautiful supermodel? Oh, come on, there must be *something* right?

Until next time...

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Red Leaf Diaries-An Update


Maroon leaves, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

Dear TREE,
Are you ever going to turn red or are you going to leave me marooned here without any true red leaves to blog about?

Sincerely,
--Carol


Dear Carol,
Are you ever going to stop attacking me with that stupid iPhone camera and start watering me again? A little rain here and maybe a cold front or two would be nice. Hear what I'm saying? Catch my drift?

TREE


Dear TREE,
We are expecting a cold front this weekend. Unfortunately, it's also going to be windy. Please hold on to your leaves (if you can) just a little bit longer so that I can capture them in all of their glory. Deal?

--Carol


Dear Carol,
Try as I may-hey, I don't want to be naked either-but seasons must change. It's part of my master plan to take over the universe by growing so large everybody will respect me. By now, even stupid humans like you should get this.

TREE


Dear TREE,
You do realize some people cut trees like you down to make furniture, don't you?

--Carol


Dear Carol,
Treat me like that and you'll never get another red leaf again! Ppppft. And get away from me with that stupid little camera already. Don't I at least deserve a real macro lens already?

TREE

Dear TREE,
Sorry, it's part of National Blog Posting Month. This month, I'm blogging only with my iPhone camera (well, for the most part.) Perhaps you'd like me to make a video? Ah, but for that, you'd probably have to do something interesting like, you know, have a real red leaf on your somewhere.

--Carol

And so it goes. How is your autumn?!?

Until next time...

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Fantasy land


Fantasy land, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

Photography at its best takes you to another place. There's some kind of fantasy in any successful photograph-people can look at an image and see their own thoughts, their own dreams, their own selves in it, and that, that sort of universal appeal is what gives it an emotional connection. Photos don't have to be pretty, no, but they do have to take us to another place, another time, another space, even if just for a little while.

So, how to capture all of this with the iPhone?

It can be done, I think. I think we can generate images that take us to another little world, even if we can't blow them up to billboard sized images. I think we can take lasting images with the iPhone, even if it does not have a "real" lens. I think it's just a question of the photographer working within the confines of the point and shoot space, of working with the apps, of clarifying the vision to the point that the camera gear becomes irrelevant. I think it can be done but it requires the ego to be put aside, it requires the "I need an expensive camera" mentality to be tucked away, it requires a thought, an idea, a vision of some kind. While it sounds easy, that's not always the easiest of things to do. We tend to get caught up in wanting, needing, having expensive camera gear. We like it and we tend to hide behind it, don't we?

The iPhone is here to stay. There are a lot of iPhone photos, the quality of the cameras are always improving, and there are now even rumors that Apple is going to launch a camera line. The iPhone is here to stay, the only question is will established photographers embrace it? I think they already have, to some extend, and they are starting to in others. The iPhone has a lot of nice features, but it's not the perfect camera. Then again, nothing is, right? The best of photographers will learn how to work it to their best advantage. They'll learn what it's good for, what it can't do very well, and they'll work within its limitations to make the best pictures. Isn't that true for any kind of camera though?

Of course, we can help it along too. The next time you go to fantasy land, don't stop to think about what kind of camera got you there, just enjoy the view.

Until next time...

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Mash Ups AKA James Bond's Fake Tilt Shift 'Fake-a-roid Mobile

One of the things you can do with the iPhone and iPhone photography is something they like to call "mash-ups" on the interwebs. Basically, the way it works is you take the output from one program and pump it into another. So, for instance, I can first make a fake tilt-shift picture and then take a fake-a-roid of that, making an entirely new beast (from all of the parts.)

In fact, I did that here with this picture. It started out a "straight" image of an Aston Martin. Now, Aston Martins are very cool cars indeed, but this picture? Not so much. It was completely lacking in the cool department, I must say. So, iPhone apps to the rescue!

After babbling yesterday about the iPhone's handy TiltShift application, I first used that to blur out the unwanted bits of the picture. If you use the tilt-shift stuff the right way, you can get wonderful blurry stuff and, well, you all know how I feel about blur (love it!) So, I started with that. This image has a lot of midtone colors, with a lot of greens (grass, trees, and the like) so it's a good candidate for extreme blur.

Then, I decided I still had a bit of unwanted "foof" in the outskirts of my image, so I Fake-A-Roided it. I took my TiltShifted image and put it through the ShakeIt Polaroid app, to generate a nice square little mash-up image that you see here.

It's not exactly tilt-shift (not really, right?) and it's not exactly a good fake-a-roid, but it's kind of an interesting shot, maybe because it's a little bit of both. All I can say now is that I hope James Bond would be proud and leave it at that.

If you've got any ideas for mash-ups (or anything you would like me to try) please either email me or leave some comment droppings in the comments for me.

Until next time...

Monday, November 08, 2010

Like Tilt Shift only without the Tilt-Shift (Expensive) Bits

One of the things I love about my iPhone is that it's almost a tilt-shift lens. When I say "almost" I mean, not really, but it can sort of fake it.

A true tilt-shift lens can move the lens plane in relation to the film plane. It can shift, moving the lens upwards or downwards and also tilt, adjusting the angle, which in turns generates all sorts of havoc with the circles of confusion. It's a wonderful device, a "real" tilt-shift lens is, though they are quite expensive, with even a cheap one clocking in at over one thousand dollars.

So you want a "real" tilt-shift but can't afford to shell out one thousand clams on something you won't use all that often anyway? IPhone to the rescue! The iPhone has several apps, including one called, well, TiltShift available for purchase. Though the name might not be all that clever, the app is. It allows you to generate "fake" tilt-shift images, specifically ones that look like miniature fakes.
According to the wiki:

"Tilt-shift miniature faking is a process in which a photograph of a life-size location or object is manipulated so that it looks like a photograph of a miniature scale model."

So you can see how this might be totally fun-it renders everything, every darn thing, both small and big, in such a way that it winds up looking like it's part of a model train set. Seriously. Miniature. Scale. Model. Like, think "jolly green giant" and you're there. How fun is that?

In case you're wondering about this picture, it was not actually taken with the tiltshift app, but it is actually a whistle-stop garden image. What's a whistle-stop garden, you might ask? And, why, I'd be here to tell you. A whistle-stop garden is a garden railway. It's a model train that runs through your garden or, perhaps, a garden that runs through your model train. It's all the rage and I have to say, while I consider the whole idea, the entire notion a bit cheesy, I *SO TOTALLY WANT ONE IN MY BACKYARD!*

There, I said it. I admitted it. In mixed company even. I really *love* whistle-stop gardens. There's just something about them that's so fun in such a way words fail to describe really. They are model trains taken outside of the dusty basement and allowed to play freely in the grass. How cool is that? Me want!

I was so tickled when I wandered over to the Hill Country Water Gardens and Nursery to happen upon a new area, an expansion of the garden that they had just opened up. And, what did I find there? Yup, you guessed it. I was even happier to discover that they had planted a whistle-stop garden. They still have it on display, in fact, this is a picture of it, taken with my trusty iPhone. 

A whistle-stop garden? Right near my house? And an iPhone app that allows me to fake tilt-shift? Somehow, I'm thinking these two things must come together in some strange way. Tell me, honestly, do you smell a photo project in there or what? (I really never do know what to say to those people who ask me, "how do you get new ideas for things to photograph?" Lookout for that locomotive, one might just caboose itself right into your lap one day.)

I would even recommend that James May do a life sized whistle-stop garden for his "Top Toys" show, except that, well, I think a "life sized whistle-stop garden" would just be a train really. Wouldn't it?

Oh gosh, now my brain hurts thinking about that.

Well, fake tilt-shifts, fake model trains, fake life sized people, it's all very confusing. If you sort it out, if you get it all figured out, would you please let me know? In the meantime, I'll be off, out in the garden, hoping to not step on my caboose.

Until next time...