Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Texas All British Car Day 2010

This weekend, I attended the Texas All British Car Day. It was a wonderful outdoor display of British cars, both modern, antique, and everything in between.

The weather was fantastic again this year. For some reason, they always seem to have the best weather for this car show, and this year was no exception. It was very cloudy and overcast at the start, I'm sorry I missed that bit, I was home prepping and the like, getting the flash memory ready and rounding up camera bits that I needed. By the time I got there, the sun had come out and any chance of rain was long since gone. I didn't want the sun, but it was ok for the shoot, since a lot of the cars are parked under the trees anyway. It was a bit hot when I first arrived but then this wonderful welcome breeze kicked up and cooled things down a bit.

My favorite cars of the bunch have to be the smiley face Sprites followed closely by the brightly colored Lotus flying machines. Those are incredible and, this year, we had only one bright yellow Lotus, but I still shot it a lot. It's like an abstraction waiting for a canvas to happen, that Lotus is. I shot a lot of Aston Martin's this year, way more than in prior years, and some of the old luxury stuff, like the Rolls, Bentley, etc. that were out on display.

Over the course of attending this show over the years, I've found that, by shooting straight on, a flat perspective like I have in this shot, it gives the cars an unusual look--I like the grill work as presented this way on the luxury vehicles while some of the more modern cars, with all the sporty brightly colored fronts and such, look downright menacing.

I like these sort of "full frontal" car shots and I continued to do this sort of graphical inspired work. I guess you would have to say I'm a grill photographer when it comes to cars but I try to do a lot of abstracts too. I was inspired to shoot some engines and other bits of cars I had not shot in years past, look for some of those shots to be posted and to come along soon. 

I'm still having issues with my old camera, and it's taken to eating some flash memory, so not sure how many shots I'll get out of this round, but I did manage to salvage some. With the camera trouble, I switched back to my 50mm (aka the "nifty fifty") lens and used that, rather than my preferred longer macro lens. I had wanted to stick to the abstract graphical work with the longer macro, but the camera gear was not cooperating. I'm very used to shooting with a 50mm though, as that's what everybody learns on, so it was possibly the next best thing. I can't say it killed me to shoot on the 50 mil for a day or so, though I do want to get all of this camera foof behind me, settled, and the like, so that I can move on and do lots more shooting, especially now that autumn is fast approaching, the weather's going cooler, and such.

All in all, it was a fun day, I really loved the cars, and the weather was nice. I hope you enjoy the shots. Look for most posts and cars in the days ahead and please send any specific requests my way if you've got them.

Until next time...

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Life is getting better

This year, it was an Aston Martin that nearly killed me. What is it with these big flags?!?

Until next time...

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All British car day

At the all British car day, next to a spiffy rolls.

Until next time...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, September 24, 2010

Painters Every Photographer Should Know - Edward Degas

Edward Degas painters every photographer should know, The Rehearsal, ballerinas dancing

The French born Edward Degas is perhaps better known for his subject matter than his individual paintings. Born in Paris, France on July 19, 1834, Degas is now remembered for his “Degas dancers,” as over half his work depicts dance or movement in some form. The eldest of five children, Degas was an expert draughtsman who wanted to become a classical historical painter.

As the son of a banker, he grew up in a somewhat wealthy family and was educated from an early age, studying literature and even enrolling in law school. His mother died when he was thirteen, leaving him to be raised mostly by his father and grandfather. Painting from an early age, in 1853 he registered as copyist in the Louvre. In 1855 Degas was admitted to the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, a notable art school in France, where he studied drawing with Louis Lamothe and studied the works of classical painters, such as Clouet and Poussin. He later traveled to Italy, staying with his aunt’s family in Naples, and spent several years studying and copying the art of the Renaissance and Middle Ages. It is claimed that, by 1860, he made over 700 copies of Italian and French classical pieces.

Returning to France in 1859, Degas setup a studio in Paris and started painting. His first piece of work to be accepted into a juried show was “Scene of War in the Middle Ages” in 1865 but it was not well-received. After visiting a friend in Normandy in 1861, Degas began painting horses for a time and then happened upon a chance meeting with Edouard Manet in the Louvre.

Degas enlisted in the national guard to serve in the Franco-Prussian war in 1870 but was found to have poor eyesight. After the war ended in 1872, Degas moved to New Orleans, Louisiana, where his brother lived with several other relatives, and started painting again. In 1873, Degas found himself back in Paris and the following year Degas’ father died, leaving him to discover his family had incurred a great deal of business debt. It was this year, 1874, that Degas joined forces with a group of artists who would become known as The Impressionists, though he sometimes resented their use of color and landscape paintings, even mocking them for their plein air style of painting.

In the late 1880’s Degas also took up photography and would take many reference photographs for his drawings and paintings. Not restricted to one medium though, Degas was working in pastel as late as the end of 1907 and sculpture until 1910. He stopped working in 1912 when he was forced to move from him home and spent the last years of his life nearly blind restlessly wandering the streets of Paris until his death in 1917.

Degas is often lumped in with the Impressionist painters, and he did frequently exhibit with them, but his work was somewhat different from the pack. He never quite adopted their use of color fleck, never painting the effects of light on bright colors, instead he worked with a more determined color palette. He also mocked their practice of painting en plein air, or creating outdoor landscapes. Degas had a less idyllic view of the figure than the Impressionists, often painting portraits of individuals and groups but using awkward crops and unusual angles and perspectives, with light coming from below to create a theatrically focused space. He was especially drawn to tensions between men and women and often painted women in working situations, such as milliners and laundresses.

From 1870 Degas painted ballet dancers, often showing their backstage rehearsals or otherwise showing off their status as professionals doing a job. His ballet dancers are very “behind the scenes” and almost have a cinematic flair to them, since he had a preference for painting “real life” instead of more traditional styles. As his subject matter changed, Degas shifted his color palette as well, moving from a more dark Dutch influenced palette to a more vivid use of color, with oils applied in translucent cross-hatching and pastels applied in many successive layers, each layer except the last fixed.

What Photographers Can Learn From Him
Degas paintings can almost be read as snapshots or moments frozen in time, giving them an innate sense of movement. The notion that a still composition can depict a sense of movement is very evident in Degas’ work. The softer use of color can be linked to his interest in photography, which was then a new technique. He favored spontaneous compositions and off-kilter angles with light coming from below to create a dramatic effect. A photographer could easily adopt a similar lighting technique to create such a theatrically focused space on a still frame rather than a painter’s canvas.

The very subject of the ballerina or the dancers and the concept of capturing movement are very powerful takes for a photographer. Still images represent a single frame, a small slice of an event, happening, or movement, a gesture rather than a full movement, but that doesn’t mean movement is not there. Our subjects are always in motion even if our compositions are not, and the idea that Degas painted revelations in movement is a compelling take for a photographer. His compelling use of movement coupled with his sense of reality and emotional impact is what made his work so captivating and photographers could learn a lot from that.

Degas preferred line and contour, shape over color, urban over pastoral, studio work over plein air painting. The idea that a work can convey movement, can have an innate sense of movement, coupled with an openness that comes from an off-center composition and dramatic lighting can be brought immediately into the world of photography.

Many photographers work openly with motion, but many others avoid it, opting instead for a sharper, more crisp line. Degas did not neglect line in favor of motion, rather he gave us both. The very notion of combining the deliberate inclusion of movement into a composition with open space and forging shapes and line rather than abstraction can be included in modern photography. Photographers can use this idea by opting to work with motion, paying attention to line and form in the composition, and working efficiently with space. To see examples of a photographer I feel is working along these lines and in this context, look at the dancers and even some of the portraits by modern photographer Joe McNally.

Thanks to his innate sense of movement and motion, his attention to line and contour, and his unusual off-center compositions, Edward Degas earns his spot in the ranks of Painters Every Photographer Should Know. You can read more about Edward Degas on the Wikipedia link about him, and look for more painters (and posts) in the series to come.

This is next in a series called "Painters Every Photographer Should Know." The painting shown here is The Rehearsal c. 1873-78; Oil on canvas, 41 x 61.7 cm (18 1/2 x 24 3/8 in). Please note that the paintings and photographs in this series are not copyright the author of this website, may be subject to international copyright law, and are provided her for educational purposes only.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Summer's over and the equinox is here. Twilight was especially nice yesterday. We had cloud cover at sunset, pink spots between patches of dark clouds, made for a great sunset.

Here's some summer fruit enjoying a last gasp. It's almost apple season again!

Until next time...

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Some Recent Reflections

The time is right to reflect a little bit on recent happenings.

For starters, I have cleaned my entire house. As I said yesterday, I was possessed! I don't know what happened, but it sure feels good to be in a nice house.

Next up we have big (or I should really say, "getting smaller") news on the diet front. I've recently started dropping weight thanks to a new diet. I'm doing the ABS diet, which is not really a diet at all, more like a lifestyle change. I am now eating five (or so) smaller meals, consisting of things like "nuts" and "berries." I also eat some regular food but it's smaller portions, lots of fresh fruits, veggies, and the like. It's fabulous.

Thanks to the new diet, I've got so much energy now. I really feel revived and fresh again. I'm downright peppy! (This might explain how the house got cleaned. Maybe. I'm still making a strong case for "alien invasion" and let's leave it at that, ok?)

Lastly, I'm getting ready for the East Austin Studio Tour which, once again this year, will be held over near the Bay 6 studios and cottage area. I'm looking to get a new encaustic series done so, now that the house is pretty much clean, I'm going to start painting a bit. Maybe even a bit more frantically, thanks to the new diet, weight loss and all.

All that and it's autumn so it's starting to get cooler at night and in the morning. Oh happy days!

How's life in your little world?

Until next time...

Monday, September 20, 2010

Seeing double

I've been kidnapped! Or, at least, you know, taken over by some alien life force. Allow me to explain.

This weekend, I cleaned my entire house. I mean cleaned. Like, I was up at 3 o'clock in the morning running the vacuum. When the vacuum broke, I stopped and cleaned the vacuum! It had so much dust and cruft in it, it had clogged. But, like, wow! Who cleans a vacuum at 3 am on a Saturday. I must be possessed!

So, like, if you see the "real" Carol today, remember to be nice to her. She's just getting back from some kind of alien encounter, kidnapping, or the like.

The good news though is that, when she finally makes it home again, she'll be surprised to find a clean house!

Until next time...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Regarding cheap cameras

I have always used and loved cheap cameras. The fact that my cheap camera now also gets surprisingly good long distance rates is an added bonus. The only people who do not like cheap cameras are photographers who feel the need to overcompensate for their abilities or otherwise hide behind the expense of a lens. Really good photography is about using the right camera to get the job done, not showing off expensive gear.

Until next time...

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Monday, September 13, 2010

Silver bullets and worn out film

Have you ever thought about how the humble cocktail shaker is really an interesting shape? It's sleek and lovely, not to mention usually filled with happy juice. Who doesn't like happy juice?

The plastic bullet today shows some love for the silver bullet. Plastic bullet shows us what old film and lo-fi cameras can do. Behold the old film and classic plastic camera version of the silver bullet:

Until next time...

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Sunday, September 12, 2010

Funeral for a Stig

In the "boy did I ever pick a bad week to stop surfing the Internets" department, in case you're like me, buried under a mountain of work and have not heard the news, The Stig has, um, "come out of the helmet" as it were. Now, since I wasn't following all of the events that closely (I wasn't surfing the Internets recently. I've been busy hiding under a rock, participating in full contact knitting, and dodging stray hurricanes blowing in off the Gulf of Mexico to really be on top of these things) I can't give you all of the gory details, but I do know that the helmet is off and he's even doing TV interviews sitting next to the familiar white suit and crash helmet supreme.

Damn. Did I pick a bad week to quit surfing the Internet or what? I think I need to take up drinking now.

It's an odd thing that Stig identity was. I mean, everybody sort of knew who he was without really knowing who he was and now that, well, we know who he is we really don't know who he is, or rather, who he's going to be next season on TV. (Oh dear, have I mentioned I really need to take up drinking? Yeah, thought so.)

I guess the events of the past week (few weeks?) can be summed up as follows: the guy who was The Stig on Top Gear wanted to write a book. The folks at the BBC did not want him to write a book, or at least write one claiming he was The Stig because, well, because that sort of defeats the purpose of that whole "anonymous racing driver" bit (well, at least the "anonymous" part. By all accounts, he's still a racing driver.) They all went to court (where these things usually end up) and there was some kind of injunction which resulted in the Stig being "outed." The book is going to come out soon and officially producers of the show have announced that the old Stig has left the show.

No word yet on any kind of Stig replacement, though I would imagine there will be one. Also, no word on how they are going to kill him off. [For those of you who aren't Top Gear fans, the first Stig (the black one) was killed off after he "outed" himself by writing a book so they had him drive off an aircraft carrier. (Note to Top Gear producers: next time you hire a replacement Stig, you might want to get one who doesn't know how to write very well.)]

In case you're wondering who the Stig really is, he's Ben Collins, a British racing car driver who lives in Bristol with his wife and three young daughters.

I can only imagine what it's like to be a 3 year old and have a "Daddy Stig" hanging around the house. Just think of the talk around that sandbox:

"My Daddy's a fireman. He saves cats from big, bad trees. What does your Daddy do?"

"My Daddy's a Stig. He's very quiet and stands with his arms folded a lot. When he's not doing that, he drives really very fast." (HA! You got that right, kid.)

Since it would appear that the recently "outed" Stig is already married, my plan to hunt down, catch, and marry Lord Stig, retiring to a life of British wealth and nobility (hey, just because he purchased that title over the Internet, that's no reason to snicker!) has been thwarted, I've decided to resume my hunt for red leaves and dodge stray hurricanes full-time. (Of course, there's always David Tennant, right? And Trent Reznor, let's not forget about him.) I mean, while Stig is all that much easier to catch now that I know what he looks like and all, I don't want to touch an already married man (though it is comforting to know we are actually the same species. I was starting to worry there, what with all that talk of extra sets of knees and all.) So, for now anyway, it's goodbye Stig, hello, David! Though, I suppose, you do now know what to get me for Christmas (Hint: It's a book silly.)

Meh. Stiggy's been outed. What's a girl to do?

Somebody play taps for the man in the white suit. Viva La Stiggy!

Until next time...

Thursday, September 09, 2010

I'm in love-cool iPhone app alert

Just found one called Plastic Bullet that emulates the look of plastic lo-fi cameras. Swoon!

Until next time...

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The Power Of Yes, The Power of You, Yes, YOU

House23, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
There was a recent article in the Wall Street Journal talking about how to be successful as a creative. To some, this might seem a completely out of reach task--earning and making a living doing what you love, and loving what you do, but others make it work. The conclusion of the article was that, like the old sneaker commercials, you should "just do it!"

While this might sound a bit simplistic, it's probably pretty close to the money (excuse the pun.) There are a lot of people claiming to be "creative types" who don't produce any work at all. As much as I hate to say it, sometimes even I fall into this category too. People love to sit around and talk about art and photography, music, or the like, but how many actually get out and do it?

If you talk to some musicians (seriously, try this sometime) just once, just for grins ask them something about a song that's on the top of the charts, right then, just as you are speaking with them. Odds are they won't know what song you're talking about. Why? Well, they don't keep up with charts. They're (usually) too busy making their own music, working in their own genre to worry about what Britney Spears is doing this week or the latest in Lady Gaga musings. They actually make music, they don't sit around and talk about it, so they don't keep up with the trends. Now, play a few notes and ask them what key signature it's in or how it was recorded/produced? Yeah, you'll get a different answer then. The same needs to be true for your photography.

There's nothing more powerful, more influential in your entire span of a career as an artist than you. Yes, you. YOU. There I said it again. YOU are the driving force behind your career. If you are sitting around, waiting to be "discovered," if you are waiting by the phone for that gallery to call, if you are sitting around thinking, "if only I could get my work into..." you are already a failure. Don't wait for the phone to ring, go out and, sorry to get all sneaker commercial on you here, but, "JUST DO IT!"

People somehow fall in love with this romantic notion of the "overnight success." They get visions of bands, rehearsing for years in a garage when, one day, by chance the postman walks by, oh and he happens to have a brother who is some "big record producer" and the rest? Oh yeah, that's history, right? I got news for you. History is what you make of it. Today's "in the moment" is tomorrow's history. History is how you define it, and you and only you can make things happen for yourself as an artist. If you want that gallery show, go out and get it. If the first gallery doesn't answer, try the second. If you fail, try again, this time, fail better. Eventually, success will taste all that much sweeter. Nobody remembers failures, everybody looks back on success but success comes through failure. You have to hear "no" a thousand times before the sound of "yes" can ring in your ears. That's just how it works.

Success can only come on your own terms. Only you can define success. What does it mean to you? What do you want? Where do you want to go with it? Nobody else can answer those questions and, if you sit around waiting for something to magically come along and *poof* answer them for you, well, that's making a choice too-it's nothing more than artistic cowardice, or letting the world define you. You're an artist, you're supposed to be a visionary, no go out and envision your own success, then make it happen.

Too many artists (myself included in this bunch!) talk about making work but don't produce enough. At the end of the day, it's all about the work, really. If you make two photos and you're lucky, well one of them might be nice. If you make two hundred, yeah, there's probably going to be a good one in that batch, right? Try making two thousand and seeing what happens. If you are a creative, the most powerful tool in your toolbox is the power to create. Use it. Go make stuff. Don't sit around yapping about it. The enemy of your productivity is the word "if." If only that gallery would call, "if" only I had more time to...forget "if" and just make. Create. Do what it is you do, each and every day. That, and that alone will make you a successful artist.

Each and every one of us has within us the power to make, the power to change, the power to be, and even the power to talk about it. Which one are you going to use today? Before you answer that question, I honestly hope you'll consider harnessing the power of YOU for all its worth.

Until next time...

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Making the Case or How to Stuff a Portfolio

Disco, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
This weekend I decided to turn my attention to cases. Now, I know this does not sound like a big deal, and it isn't or, at least, it shouldn't be really, but, sometimes, yeah, it is. It's hard to find a case for your portfolio.

For starters, I would love to have a really handmade custom case, a clam shell type box really, that reflects my work. It would have to be 13x19 inches or actually hold prints that size. I want it to have a really nice cover, and resemble something more like a handmade book rather than a portfolio case. Ok, so they don't sell those and, in fact, it might be best to make such a beast for myself or try to find a local book bindery to make a custom solution for me. That's one option. It's always available, not too cheap, but it would make a great first impression, not to mention it would be unique and totally "me" since I could have it custom made and I would get to call all of the shots in the process.

Then, I started looking at metal boxes, since I think something sleek and aluminium might fit my needs. I started envisioning those sleek metal cases, with little latches that open up to hold my work. Since my work is a bit unique anyway, this sort of fits-everybody else probably has the black clam shell box with a pretty lining and I could try something a bit more unexpected. The metal case seems like a good idea but it's not too personal and it doesn't (or wouldn't actually) have the same "wow!" factor as a handmade book from a book bindery but it would be more easily reused and could easily hold a variety of work. Not to mention I would not feel totally crushed if somebody accidentally spilled their coffee on it or it somehow got "lost in the mail" as these things sometimes do.

I started surfing websites devoted to this. There's Lost Luggage, a portfolio showcase site and House of Portfolios a custom outfitter in New York City. There's also an outfit called portfolios-and-art-cases.com and even a fine art photographer Alain Briot who offers a DVD on how to make your own custom clam shell box. I found the Canden archival aluminium presentation box was closest to the "sleek metal box" that I was thinking about, but I'm still not sure. I will probably end up contacting a local Austin book bindery to mull over some additional options. Then again, the metal case is not too expensive and it might be handy to have one of those anyway, so I might just go ahead and order one of those (so I have it) while researching (and possibly purchasing) the other styles of boxes.

Decisions, decisions....

I'd be curious to hear about your portfolio options. Have you done something like this before? Want to get a really nice case? Don't think it's important? Thought about it but don't know where to begin? Aren't at the portfolio stage just yet? (It can really be a daunting task if you've never done it before.) Too cheap to spend any money on this type of a solution? Prefer to "go green" and do everything electronically anyway?

If you have any preferred suppliers or vendors I'd be happy to check those out as well. 

Until next time...

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Testing, Testing, 1-2-3

ThePacifist, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

This is a test post. I'm testing the recent hook-up of Facebook and Blogger. Here's hoping my little corner of the universe does not go "KABOOM!" and blow up in my face.

Don't you hate it when that happens? Yeah, I know, I've typed too much already.

(Wish me luck!)

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Z tejas cornbread

The best stuff on earth. Yum!

Until next time...

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Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Yo Ho Ho and a Bottle of Sketchbook

Street View, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

This is another image from my "Mexico in Blue" series. I hope you like it.

For those of you looking for a creative opportunity in which you can participate, I should also let you know that, over at the Arthouse Coop, I've signed up for the Sketchbook Project. What's a Sketchbook Project? You might be wondering and, once again, I would be here to fill you in with all of the juicy details. (According to their website: "it's like a concert tour but with Sketchbooks.")

The way the project works is all who sign-up (ahem: that would be me and, um, possibly you if you're interested) receive, in the mail (ahem: that would be your actual mailbox and not that email thing you twitter on about) a sketchbook. Yes, an actual sketchbook (ahem: behold! The Moleskin Cahier) The rules are simple: you have to use the sketchbook, the actual sketchbook that they send you. You can fill it up with doodles, drawings, photos, paint, rip it to shreds, draw on the cover, draw outside of the lines, finger paint, or even whistle dixie if you'd like, so long as you send the sketchbook back to them once it's either completed, or the deadline comes about. They'll receive your book and create exhibitions around the country from all of the sketchbooks they get. You'll be able to track your book and see who opens it over the course of the exhibition, and the book eventually winds up in the Brooklyn Art Library, along with thousands of other sketchbooks, completed and sent in from around the world. They'll eventually put a digitized version of your sketchbook on-line but the fun, the real fun, the nuts and bolts of the project, comes from the fact that you get to carry around and doodle for months, into this nice little sketchbook that somebody provided for you. Anybody can participate, from anywhere around the world, so long as they've got some kind of a mailbox, PO Box, post office like agency, or can otherwise get and send a small package (read: sketchbook) in the mail. (Ahem: relax, it's not cocaine, so it should be street legal.)

In case you're wondering who these "Sketchy" people are, they are the same folks who brought us the Scavenger Hunt project and they have many other projects on their website that you can sign-up for, should you be interested in creating some art, need a new hobby or the like, but don't really want to make a career out of it. Even if you do want to make a career out of it, I suppose having an exhibition as the "Brooklyn Art Library" is not really a bad thing now, is it?

The sketchbook project offers themes, which you can adhere to (or not) as the case may be. The theme I have picked for my sketchbook will be: "Make mine a double." I picked this theme because, well, because it's easy to draw circles, even when, perhaps one is drunk, so I figured that would be a good theme. (My doodles are going to be about drinks, drinking, glasses and barware, the search for the perfect margarita, swizzle sticks, lipstick and phone numbers on napkins, cocktail shakers, bottles, spouts, spigots, barkeeps, pub crawls, bar bands, and the like.)

There's still time to sign-up and participate if you are interested in contributing to the project. (Ahem: for all of you photographers out there, it must be said, you can actually go buy a glue stick and, um, stick away at a sketchbook in case, you know, in case you are shy about drawing some foof into a book that the entire world might be able to see one day.)

Sketchbooks to artists are kind of like pianos to rock stars, only, shall we say, a bit more portable. Yeah, all that and I can't wait to get mine.

Until next time...