Until next time...
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone
This is one of the first shots off the new camera.
I always *hate* taking out a new camera for the first time. There's just something about that first photo shoot where I never feel really comfortable, I can never get into the zone. I realize this is probably unusual, most people absolutely love getting a new toy, running out, and playing with it, but me? Nope, not so much. I kind of always feel like I'm holding somebody else's camera, at least for a few days. Once I start to get shots off the roll, once I start to get the feel of the camera, then it starts to feel like mine, and I start to either love it and sort of bond with it or realize I've made a big, expensive mistake and go camera shopping again. I relegate it to the bottom of the camera bag and try to get over it as best I can, justifying it as a "well, it just didn't feel right" kind of a camera.
There really is just no better explanation for it than that. It's just a "feel" thing. I would image race car drivers feel the same way about their cars, and yachtsmen feel the same about their boats. The instrument has a certain feel in your hands, there's a kind of spirit to the machine and you either meld with it or maybe you just don't. Maybe it was supposed to go to somebody else and somehow, through an odd lot in life, you got stuck with it.
I can't explain this very well, or put words to it really, but I can say that the 7D, this particular one, feels quite nice in my hands. Though it's heavy, in fact, I thought it too heavy for my taste at first, it's growing on me. Somebody, somewhere, in an on-line review called this camera an "anvil" and that name really fits. In fact, I might have to name my new 7D "Little Misses Anvil" because that's how I think of it now.
Bottom line? I'm not totally pleased with the shots from the cemetery shoot this weekend but it was a nice day and I started to get the feel of the new camera. I suspect next photo shoot will be better and I would certain hope so, as next photo shoot will probably be in Hawaii.
In other news, I've gotten setup with the laptop and the mifi wireless devices. It's really great to be on the Internet with such comfortable devices-the laptop is glorious and the Internet connection is small and fast enough for me to check email and the like while traveling. I highly recommend a Macbook air to anybody thinking about getting a new laptop and I love the Mifi devices. It's like having your own "personal hotspot" your very own Internet cafe, right in your pocket.
How cool is that?
Until next time...
Before I go to sleep today (tonight? Tomorrow? Something like that...) I must tell you that I've recently found out that Moab, the great paper maker, has started making Japanese Mulberry paper that one can run through one's traditional inkjet printer if one were so-inclined.
Why am I telling you this?
Couple of reasons. For starters, it's great to dunk the mulberry paper into wax and encaustics, so it would be good for that. No more cutting! Easier encaustic dipping! There was much rejoicing in the kingdom tonight. Yay!
Finally, I want to tell you so that I don't go to bed tonight, wake up tomorrow, and completely forget about this glorious find. I want to make sure I remember myself, so I'm posting a picture of a bed and a "note to self" reminding me that I now have a source of convenient Japanese paper for using with encaustics.
Ok, back to sleep now.
Until next time...
So, I was at the Chinese New Year celebration and I just couldn't seem to dodge the crowds. Every time I would line a shot up, heck even try to, somebody would wedge themselves in front of me, start moving around, bob their head into my frame, or, even worse, take out their iPhone and start recording. Some of them even did this with their arms high in the air or their elbows out, which doesn't make for very good pictures and just really annoyed everybody else. It made it impossible to take any quality pictures.
I figured out that the celebrations were following around some hanging bok choy. Each of the merchants would hang this bok choy in front of their shops and then the celebrations, along with the dancers and performers, would make their way around to the front of that shop. At one point, I setup in front of some bok choy, hoping to beat the crowds. There was a car behind me and I got as close to being under the bok choy as I possibly could, then I just waited for the celebrations to come my way. I had already given up on getting some good shots, but I thought I would hang out and hope for something, anything acceptable at this point.
My patience was rewarded because, this time, with this particular dragon dance, this particular bok choy, and this particular merchant, the performers grabbed a different dragon. It was longer, orange, and not as "puppet-like" as the other dragons they had been using. It wasn't a "fluffy cute" kind of a puppet-like dragon that flopped around a lot, no, it was more thin and less elaborately decorated. Most of the crowd was, initially, disappointed in this dragon so they started to disperse but not me. Me? No, I waited.
As the dragon rounded the corner and parked itself just about smack in front of where I had been waiting, I noticed something very unusual about it. Sticking from its mouth was a small pipe. Now, I didn't put two and two together in the moment but I do recall thinking, "Gee, I wonder why this particular dragon has a pipe for a mouth?" I didn't have to think too long or hard about this however. Within seconds of noticing the pipe-mouth on the dragon, the dancers demonstrated why this dragon was just a little bit different from the others.
It started breathing fire. Spitting fire out, from the front of its mouth. And, since the crowd had started to back down just a little bit, I managed to fire off (ahem, excuse the pun) some shots. I shot as best as I could with the crowd moving back in and the fire briefly spewing towards me.
What is it about me and fire lately? I don't know, but I sure do hope this ends well.
Until next time...
I'm torch-worthy! What does that mean? You might be asking, and I'd be here to explain.
Today, I was over at encaustic central, doing the second day of the totally hot encaustic workshop (and I do quite literally mean "totally hot." There was actual fire involved.)
The workshop itself was fabulous; I learned a lot and had tons of fun. One of the demos today was using tar and other featured a burning technique involving wood glue. Now I'm really a beginner in terms of encaustics. I mean, yes, I've been doing them for a bit now and, yes, technically I understand what's happening with the paint, most of the processes and all, I've even got a few pieces here and there that I almost like, but I still consider myself a beginner. Still very much learning, practicing, and making it up as I go along.
Part of being a beginner is that I've never really graduated from the heat gun up to the "big bad" blow torch. Call me crazy, call me a coward, but something about using a blow torch just sort of, well, frankly, it scared me silly ok?
So, let's recap. Me? Paint with a *blow torch* ?? Um, no. Not going to happen. Not in this lifetime. No way. Not safe, too scary, too hot, and just plain, "that will not end well!" written all over that.
At least not until today. Picture it. We're sitting in the big demo room and our fabulous instructor shows off the burning technique. "Add flammable material to this," she explains, "and there are several flame-generating tools you can use." She went on and explained about small torches, creme brulee style torches, and then finally told us about the "big bad" style of blow torch-the separate tank of propane, mega-hot, "stand back! This is going to blow some serious HEAT!" type of blow torch.
Yeah, yeah. All well and good. A few of us even commented during the demo. There was an, "oh that looks like fun for somebody else to try. I'll stick to my heat gun thank you very much," here and a, "but I like my eyebrows and I'm even afraid of matches!" there. A few of us stood back and even started shaking in our shoes. It was that kind of a blow torch, ok? I think there were several people standing behind me for the demo bits and even I was starting to wonder if I had gotten too close for comfort. And I was in the back of the room!
So what happened after the demo?
I was feeling a bit uninspired and wanted to try something new. I grabbed some tar (the most toxic and "scary" of the materials we had available for us to use today) and plastered an entire board with tar. It was thick and black and gooey all over the place-that kind of a tarring. Then, I took it outside. At first I was all content to let it dry out in the sun-I had wanted to let the tar harden so that I could then try some pastels on the surface of the tar-and I was all set to do that. Honest, I was. Swear on my mother's grave and all. Seriously. All set to just let it dry, sit on the patio for a few minutes and chill. Yup, that's me. Little Miss Chill, happy to meet you.
Then, something came over me. Attack of the false bravado! I saw somebody else torching something and I thought to myself, "well, that doesn't look so bad. She still has eyebrows, at least as far as I can tell. Maybe I should try that too?"
So, in a fit of bravery not seen here in Carol's Little World for a *long, long* time, I grabbed the flammable material, then I painted over the tar, and then that's when I did it. I grabbed the *BIG SCARY BLOW TORCH*-yes, the one with the separate jar of explosive propane and a steady stream of HOT flame coming out the end-and I torched my artwork. I pulled the trigger, there was this loud "swoosh" of ignition, the flames came out, the board went up in smoke, the trick worked like magic. My art piece came out fantastic and I had used the big bad scary blow torch for the first time all in one swoosh of very hot fire breathing blow torch of a moment.
Nothing quite like going big, is there? Nothing quite like the feeling of reaching for the top, grabbing on, and swinging for that ride, let me tell you. Can I get a "Boo Yeah!" in here, please? We're going torch-worthy today.
After the fire went out (phew!) and some cooling happened, I took my piece inside. Everybody commented on how great it looked. Some other folks who were or had been, like me, afraid of the big bad torch lined up to try the same technique. They were now itching to burn some tar too.
Yup. You guessed it. We turned into tar/glue flaming fools. The folks, all of us, who had been afraid of the blow torch? No more fear. Nope. Fear had been replaced with, "out of my way! I'm lighting this on fire! I'm going big! Stand back, this is going to blow!" and "Oh now doesn't that look great?"
Can you almost feel the heat from where you sit? Yeah, it was kind of like that. We all inspired each other. We all went BIG. We went for it. We seized life by the bullhorns (actually, by the blow torches.) We lit up like Christmas trees. Burn, baby, burn. Yeowza!
Now, I could tell you all kinds of great things about my workshop, and I probably will at some point. Once I collect myself, rest up a bit, and finish gathering my thoughts. But, honestly, the biggest takeaway I have from today is that the entire group of us, everyone from beginner to advanced/mature artist, was totally torch-worthy today.
I'm totally torch-worthy. I'm no longer afraid of the scary big blow torch. Stand back! I've got flames to fan. My fire's been stoked. Yes, since it's coming to a close, I'd have to say it was that kind of a day. I'm totally torch-worthy today.
I hope you're enjoying just as much greatness and fire as our torch-worthy day, wherever you are.
Until next time...
I'll be in studio painting all day on Saturday but you can catch me over at Studio2Gallery in the evening. I'll make my way over to the big opening night reception for App-aritions, the iPhone invitational show.
Have a great weekend and hope to see you there.
Until next time...
I ordered a new camera.
Now, I know what you're thinking. "Didn't she just get a camera? What's all this about *another* new camera? Has she gone nuts or something?"
No, I haven't gone nuts. I mean, yes, I have. I mean, heck I *am* nuts already, right? But, no, I haven't gone nuts actually getting camera gear.
For several years, I've shot a Canon Rebel XT. It's not the best camera that Canon ever made, but it also wasn't the worst either. I got it pretty cheap (about $350 which, to this day, remains one of my greatest steals in terms of camera deals) and I used it to death. I loved it. I loved that camera, really I did. I love the idea that I can go about the world with a $350 camera and take pictures that retail for more than what I paid for my entire camera rig. Really I do. It's a great way to make money, not that this is what I'm all about, you see, but it is. All of these people who buy $10,000 worth of camera gear so they can sell prints for pennies on the dollar? Good luck getting rich with that kind of a business model, it's backwards. Better to buy cheap, shoot a lot, sell plenty and afford your own upgrades, which is exactly what I did with the $350 bargain XT.
But then something happened. My camera stopped working. And, I didn't have a backup camera. Things got hard. It became harder and harder to even order cameras. Out of stock. Price increases. Things crazy with the economy. These are hard times and, in hard times, hard things happen to otherwise good people. So, I decided it was time to upgrade and upgrade I did.
I have always shot two cameras. I shouldn't say "always" but, pretty much most of the time I've shot two cameras. I use one as my "main" camera and one as a spare, a backup of sorts. I like having a spare body. It's great to have in case something happens. I hate to travel without at least two bodies, it's just a sort of insurance policy, if you will. This past summer, when I was up in Santa Fe, my camera died and I had to do without. That's not pretty. That's not fun. That's not why I took up photography. I don't want to struggle through things, I want things to just work, so I can focus on what's important in the making of images that I do. It's hard enough to make the kind of images I make, to do the kind of things I do and the kind of things I want to do without being saddled with old, crappy broken equipment.
I kind of decided that I'm sick of having a once great but now crapping out on a regular basis $350 camera. I didn't want my camera to be the weakest link. I hated the idea that I had to re-schedule shoots because I maybe couldn't get my camera working that day or that time or I was just afraid to schedule something important and have my camera crap out on me yet again. My $350 bargain was turning into an albatross around my neck. I was starting to hate it.
Then, around the end of last year something else happened. I started making some serious money. I sold some commercial work. I sold some prints. I got lined up for some teaching gigs. Everything just started looking up and money was coming in. That's when I decided to do it, to pull the plug, to pull the trigger, as it were, on some serious new camera gear. I had shot the $350 bargain for a long time, more than gotten my money's worth from that thing. It was time to retire the little buddy and invest in some serious upgrades.
If you recall, during the end of last year, I had started looking at cameras and could not decide between the Canon T2i and the Canon 7D. Each had some advantages, yes, and each had some drawbacks. I was torn, very torn, between the two, so much so that, when I pulled the trigger on the Canon T2i, I was seriously wondering if I had made the right choice.
Some time went by and I started shooting with the T2i. It's a good camera, don't get me wrong, I like it, I like it a lot. But, something about it, just felt "small" to me. Like it was a baby camera. I just didn't like the feel. It's hard to put words to these things sometimes, as we're artists and we sort of have to work a lot with guts and intuition.
So, I decided to get the 7D. I ordered it earlier this week and expect it to be here early next week. I can't say I'm over the moon about it, but I am excited. I'm very happy to have two cameras again. I miss that. The whole having a backup body is a great thing. Like I said, I've always done it before and now that the megapixel wars are sort of behind us all, I felt it a good time to do it again. The timing was just right about it.
I plan on getting a third camera too, at some point. Sometime, maybe in the near future, maybe in a year or two, I'll get a full frame camera. I've decided to put this purchase off a bit, at least until I get the crop camera all sorted out and comfortable. My current plans are to keep the T2i and also the 7D. For now, I plan on making the T2i a dedicated Lensbaby camera and using the 7D with my other lenses. Eventually, I'll convert the T2i into an infrared camera (to replace my other Rebel XT which has already been converted and is now my infrared camera.)
So, the current break down for the rig is going to be something like this:
Canon Rebel XT (converted to infrared)-used for infrared work
Canon Rebel T2i - Lensbaby and general "walkabout" camera. Uses SD cards which are more readily available and cheaper. Not as good with lighting rigs so won't be used much for studio work. Is light and more compact so good for photo walks and lighter work.
Canon 7D - To be used for macro work, copy work, night work, and any kind of tripod work. Heavier but more weather resistant.
Now that it's all sorted out and I've actually ordered the camera, I'm waiting for the package to arrive. I've started tracking my package, it's currently in Maspeth, New York, waiting on the UPS guy to pick it up. You can follow me on Twitter to get more detailed updates if you are curious. It's safe to say though that the new camera is on its way to me and should be here within the next could of days.
Please help me say hello to the new little buddy once he arrives. I've got so many camera bodies now, I might have to start naming them or some such thing, just so I can keep track.
I also got a bunch of accessories to go along with the new camera and, of course, a bunch of flash (and SD!) memory for my upcoming trip to Hawaii. Look for the 7D to make his debut about the same time as I head for the middle of the Pacific. (Maybe I should name it Aloha! in honor of its timely arrival?)
This is another dragon from the lot. Taken with the T2i and the Lensbaby composer, evaluative metering mode, flash did not fire.
Until next time...
I've been telling you about the Asian market I visited this past weekend, so I thought it might be a good idea to upload a shot or two from the bunch.
The market had an entire aisle devoted to rice. Not just rice, not just Asian rice, but all kinds of rice. It was pretty intense. Sure, I love rice, just as much as the next guy, but an entire aisle of nothing but rice? Wow.
We also found all kinds of things in this market. All kinds of things, some I'd want to try and some I'd really want to avoid. I'd have to say it was a great, fun place to visit and it was extra special to photograph there. I love these kinds of markets-it was the kind of place where you just wouldn't know what you might find around the next corner and it was tons of fun to visit. Just "ooh" and "ahhh" going down the aisles was worth the trip, let alone getting to sneak off a few shots.
I hope you enjoy the shots from the bunch. I'll be showing you some images over the course of the next few days and weeks, leading up to my travels to Hawaii.
Until next time...
No, don't worry, there aren't any dragons there.
Of course, now that I've announced that I'm going on some big giant trip to wonderful points afar, Utata announces their "big" project. And what is the theme of this big project, you might ask? Why, it would be "Where I Live." Great. Ducky, just ducky. (You know I'm a sucker for Big Utata projects, so I'm going to do this one anyway, but I'm not going to let this pass without my formal complaint. Grumble, grumble, there you have it. I've officially grumbled and now it's time to get on with it.)
While this wasn't the official big project I was looking for, it's one that I'm going to do anyway. Big projects, or projects of any size really, don't always have to be what you want them to be. We don't always get lucky and get to shoot what we want to shoot when we want to shoot it. Sometimes, we have clients who demand certain things, other times it's galleries that want stuff, and now, in my life at this moment, the Utata folks are pushing me to do something I wouldn't otherwise do.
When you're faced with a situation like this-when your artistically prodded to go off and do something new, something different, my philosophy has been (and probably always will be) make the most of it. Do something you wouldn't otherwise do, try something new, have fun with it, but make the best of it. Use it as an excuse to grow. Think of it as that time when you were a little kid and you tried on Mom's (or Dad's) lipstick (or shoes) without her (or him) knowing about it. Think of it as a test drive for a new car. Think of it as that big "tester" bottle on the perfume counter-you can try on a new stink if only for a little while. Think of it as finding, no discovering really, a new side of yourself. There's a whole new you, maybe just another side of you really, we haven't seen yet. Now is your time to unearth it and show us. Show us what you got.
In this great life, we are all who we want to be. One of the best things about being an artist is that we get to define things. We get to be who we want to be, and, along with that, we get to grow into who we want to become. So, go ahead, shoot something you wouldn't shoot otherwise. Draw what you've never drawn, see what you've never seen. Isn't that what art is all about anyway? Maybe this is nature's way of telling you it's time to flex those artistic muscles a bit, to venture off into new territory, to try on something new and see if it fits?
While I can't sit here and tell you how I absolutely *love* this new topic, I have to admit it's a good one. It's a great topic for me because it will force me to go off into different directions. I'm going to grow. I'm going to stretch. I'm going to places uncharted. It's an exploration of sorts.
Isn't that what life's about anyway? Aren't we all just on some grand adventure, exploring points unknown all the time anyway? Wouldn't it be boring and dull if we always got to do what was expected, or even what we always wanted to, all the time anyway?
If you're so-inclined, since the project was just announced, there's plenty of time to jump on the "Big Project" bandwagon. Here's a link to the Big Project announcement and Here's a link to the FAQ if you are interested in contributing to the project. Of course, the general rules apply-you must be member of Utata (not too late to sign up and it's free, just have to be in the Flickr group and register with the website) and you must follow the project rules, including submitting your work on or before the submission deadline.
Even though this is not the project I would have picked at this time, I hope you'll take time out to explore "Where I Live" or even join me as part of this project of self-reflection and introspection.
Until next time...
This is one of the first images off the shoot from the weekend. This is a Chinese dragon, brought to you by the Lensbaby lens.
For the dragon shoot, I wanted to do more with the softness of the dragons. I wanted to make them look kind of dreamy, soft, a little unbelievable, since they really are anyway, so I decided to do the entire shoot with the Lensbaby composer. It gives me these soft, blurry, out of focus images I love so much, while blurring the crowds away.
Crowds at these kind of events are a real problem. Everybody jumps in front and now, with the iPhones and the like, they have their elbows up in the air and are waving around camera gear like it's going out of style. Makes it hard to get shots without people's heads or without other iPhone/camera gear in the shots. Lensbaby to the rescue. I can blur out a lot of the unwanted "foof" while keeping the sense of the dragon. Dragons don't really exist and I'm happy to play into that dream of the dragon by shooting them soft and fuzzy. I hope you like them this way.
The store, the market there, was so fabulous, I really want to go back and shoot some more. I love it there, it was totally interesting and there were so many photo opportunities. All in all, even though the light was a bit too bright and high, I loved the whole shoot. It was fun and I hope I got some good work out of it.
Look for more from the Chinese New Year shoot over the days and weeks to come. As I'm gearing up for my next location shoot, I am probably going to order a new camera, get my gear in order, get myself ready to go, and complete a bunch of other work. With all that's going on, I'm not sure I will be able to get out and shoot much, although I'm going to try as hard as I can to go out into the wilds and shoot as much as I can. I'm really itching to get out more, especially before it gets too hot.
Until next time...
I just got back from opening reception up at Georgetown for the all encaustic show "Hot Cakes of Wax." It's great looking stuff and I hope you get a chance to check it out should you happen to be in the neighborhood, just passing through and all.
I'm also going to try to get my act together and go out shooting tomorrow. Since it's Chinese New Year, I am going to try to wrangle myself up and head on over to Austin's Chinatown area to try to shoot some of the dragon dancing (and the like.) I'll let you know how it goes once I get back. I'm not expecting much but I'll give it a try and see how it turns out. It's supposed to be nice and sunny tomorrow so here's hoping the weather will hold and I'll have a nice run up to Chinatown (and, of course, the dragon dancers look really nice too.)
This shot is from the Hill Country Water Gardens shoot a few weeks ago. Taken with a 100mm f/2.8 macro USM lens shot at f/2.8 with a Canon EOS Rebel T2i flash did not fire. Had some nice light coming up behind the tall grass, though it was fading fast, I did manage to scrounge up some of that wonderful orange glow I love so much. This time of year, we tend to only get that right about the time of sunset and this shot was no exception. Literally minutes before the sun went down, as I recall. It was even starting to get chilly on account of the light racing down the horizon but I was lucky enough to pull out just enough of an orange/golden-y glow, at least long enough to fire off a few close-up shots of the grass.
Ordered a new laptop and thinking about getting a 7D to compliment my Canon T2i. Might have to do this just before Hawaii so that I have enough camera gear to cover everything without running short. We'll see, but I totally want to ramp up on gear before the year starts to slip away and I'm locked up in the classroom rather than the studio or points afar.
How's life in your little world today? Stay out of the cold unless you're shooting back at it. Yeah, come to think of it, that would be my only advice for now.
Until next time...
Attention snowflakes:Think they'll listen? Think they got the memo or are they just the flaky flighty kind that land wherever they wish? (Nevermind, I think I know the answer to that.)
(This time, I don't mean you good folks reading this, I mean the actual, well, snowflakes)
You do not have permission to land. Go to Maine, Colorado, or someplace normally cold where they actually like you and your ilk. Go. Go now. Fly away. Flutter up north someplace where they actually enjoy seeing you and they do stuff like ski in you. This is Texas. We don't ski, it messes up our cowboy boots and big hair. We don't like your kind down here, so please don't bother landing on our heads.