Sunday, May 29, 2011

Good Evening


TreesAtSunset2903, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
Taking a break from working a lot today. I've decided to kick back, watch some F1 and some Indy 500 action and just sort of relax. I've got a few upcoming projects to attend to but, in my infinite wisdom, I've decided that these can wait, at least for today. I'm going to sit back and enjoy a quiet evening and relax for a change.

Are you having a hectic weekend? Or kicking back, relaxing, and enjoying it?

For my friends from outside the US, this weekend marks Memorial Day weekend which is a holiday weekend for those of us in the US. We have off from work on Monday. It also marks a lot of car racing, a Top Gear marathon on BBC America, and lots of good movies at the theater.

I wish you all could be here since my beer is cold and I'm nice and comfortable. Cheers!

Until next time...

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Getting Beached


TidalDance2854-2, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

Since this is a long weekend, and virtually the start of summer, I realize many of you will be headed to the beach.

The beach, the shore, the ocean...few things have provided as much artistic inspiration as these. Over the years, the beach has been painted, drawn, photographed, and whatever else your heart can think of doing to it, time and time again. Countless artists have been inspired by this subject-many who have come before you and many still yet to be discovered.

So, how to shoot the beach?

There are almost as many ways to shoot the beach as there are photographers who do it. Instead of telling you specifics, I thought I might provide a few pointers.

Generally, people expect the water to be blue. You can play into that expectation or play against it-your call. I love seeing work where the water turns orange, for example, where the colors have been processed so much that the beach appears an unnatural color. While not what you might typically expect, this will give you "different" results and, as you probably could have guessed, sometimes different is better.

I look for a shoreline or point on the water's edge where there is something interesting, something to ground the composition. Something like some rocks, a curve in the water, or some such thing-otherwise you are going to be dealing with straight lines. Moving slightly can give you interesting shapes so try stepping a bit to your left and right when composing to see what you get.

There are really no rules to shooting the beach so don't be afraid of breaking them. You can go crisp, you can go completely out-of-focus, you can go somewhere in between. People in the picture? No problem, that works too-portraits along the beach are fun? No people? No probably there either-seascape images can really work too-just play with what you have.

The lighting can be tricky at the water, since the light can sometimes bounce off and create flares. Here again, if you want to play with lens flare the beach can be your best friend but, if you're not expecting it, be careful and be on the lookout for it.

A lot of times I get my inspiration from old paintings done at the beach. Monet did some wonderful beach pieces and so I know I can look back to those for some inspiration.

The beach is a wonderful subject. It can be a complex artistic metaphor or a simple line in the sand (literally!) so enjoy it while you can.

Have a great long weekend and I hope you get out to explore and find some photographic inspiration at the shore sometime this season.

Until next time...

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

How to Make Your Very Own Movie


Branch_0090, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

Today Blurb has announced a new mobile app, Blurb for storytelling. Now you know I'm a big Blurb fan and, of course, I will be downloading this-it promises to be a great tool for making short films, stories, memos, and the like, but you might already have some great (free!) tools for making movies.

A few weeks ago, I decided that I wanted to pull together a short movie of my work. Nothing special, just about 80 shots or so highlighting some of my best photography over the years.

The inspiration for this was pretty simple, actually. I had been editing, looking through some of my work, and noticed how I hardly use any of my older work anymore. Lots of my older work is in slide format and I rarely, if ever, use any of it. I tend to put in on the back burner and showcase or highlight lots of the new stuff. Most of the time, new stuff is great but, every once in a while, it's good to go back and explore where it is you came from, right? So I decided to make a short movie to showcase some of this. Nothing fancy, just maybe about five minutes on YouTube or so.

Since I use a Mac, I have the built-in iMovie application handy so I decided to use that. Those of you in PC-land have the equally suitable Windows Media Player at your disposal. Almost all PC's of any kind come with some kind of free movie app so, if your computer was made or purchased in the last five years you probably have something suitable for simple movie-making. No need to run out and purchase several thousands of dollars of special software for this, it's something you can do at home, using the tools you already have.

These media applications are really more suited for shooting and editing video, but they will take still photos as well.

Before working with the app, I edited my work down to my selected 80 shots. I made a separate folder on my computer called something like "80ShotsMovie" and placed all of my psd files in there-at least all of the psd files for the shots I was going to use in the movie.

Since I like Flickr, and use that a lot, I also created a Flickr set of this work. The Flickr organizer (found under the Organize and Create tab of your Flickr account) allows you easy access to create Sets and Collections. I opted for a set of my 80 images and the Flickr app helped very much with the sequencing.

Now, for those of you who have not done sequencing before, this bit can be quite tricky. Sometimes, assembling 80 of your best shots is a great idea but it seems like a daunting task when you set down and you've got one bird shot, one close up of a motorcycle, one sunset, etc. Sequencing is where this all comes together-this is what makes your work look like a cohesive "vision" rather than just a garbled mess of shots. Now, I can't say that my work was sequenced (or even edited!) in the best way-this is not really my strong suite here either-but I do think my video has some continuity to it. Frankly, if you're new to video or even editing a lot of still photographs, that's really all the best you can hope for, so that's what I did for my little video.

After sequencing the stills in Flickr's set organizer, I then created JPG files of all of the work and put those in a separate folder, actually a sub-folder of my "80ShotsMovie" folder. I also gave each JPG file a number corresponding to it's order-so each image was named something like 001-SanAntonioReflections.JPG. This might sound like a bit of overkill, but it helps if you decide to re-sequence or if you get interrupted in making the video. Also, when you go back later, now you have a handy record of all of the images in order in a separate folder. Very handy to have indeed, so that's what I did.

Finally, I was ready to stuff my JPG's into the movie. I opened my iMovie software and placed each one, JPG after JPG, into the video editing software. This only took a few minutes, since they were already in order.

My video editor comes with several default transitions. I could have opted to get fancy and do some dissolves or things like that, but, at least for this video, I opted to keep it simple and use pretty much some of the default transitions. In the past, I had picked a transition I liked and so I used that one frequently.

I added a scrolling title at the end and then it was time for the music selection.

Music is killer with these little movies and my movie was no exception. Since I'm an artist, I do not want to steal music from another artist. Some photographers choose to use popular music, and that's great, but I don't want to use something without permission and I don't want to infringe upon the copyright of another artist. That's just bad, poor form, I would not want it done to me, so I won't do it in return.

Instead, I opt to use music that falls under the Creative Commons license. There are many sites on the web where you can find Creative Commons licensed music. Now, typically when I make these sorts of movies, I do spend a lot of time listening and searching for just the right music and this time was no exception. Most of the Creative Commons music is classical and that's not an issue for me-I think the classical music works best for the kind of work I'm doing, but just calling it "classical" doesn't really help much. There's baroque, romantic, opera, symphonic music, there's cello, violin, piano, vocals, non-vocals, etc. It's hard when faced with a lot of choices as to what to pick. I went around and around a bit, listened to a lot of different selections before I decided upon the selection I used-a classical Spanish style guitar piece. In the end, I thought it fit the mood of the work so that's what I went with. It really boils down to gut feel here.

My editing software allows me to lay down the music track over the JPGs and so, once I made my selection, that's what I did. I added the music, tested out the movie a few times, and then made a download version suitable for uploading into video sites like YouTube.

I can't say my movie is "perfect." I did not do a title for it-something like a nice graphic of "80 Shots" with my name would have been a nice opener and a few of the images were not spotted, which drives me crazy to no end. Also, the scrolling titles at the end go by too fast-this is a problem with the software I'm using. Apple's iMovie seems to want to keep doing that to me. But, I'd have to say, at the end of the day, it's not a bad movie. It works for what I wanted it to do and I'm generally happy with the results.

I hope this movie making experience helps you in case you were thinking about making a short film of your work too. It's really not that hard and, now that it's finished, I'd have to say I think it's a great idea for an artist to do. So many times, we wind up breaking our work up into smaller "folios." You know, a gallery wants 3 or 6 or 20 of your pieces and we never go beyond that 20 mark. This provided me a way to go up and stretch myself-to hit a higher mark. It allowed me to pull in and wrangle 80 pieces without boring everybody to tears.

That's my new movie, and I hope you like it. Best of luck with your movie endeavors.

Until next time...

Sunday, May 22, 2011

80 Shots

video

I've been working on a movie, of sorts. It's a short artist style movie, featuring about 80 shots of my work. Nothing fancy, nothing brilliant, just some of my work over the years, even a few older shots mixed in. It's all stuff I like, you know, that kind of a thing. I set it to some Spanish guitar style music and I thought that it would make a nice short video.

I hope you like it!

Until next time...

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Diving Head First Into It


DiveIntoAMargarita, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
The Sketchbook Project is open again for 2012. For those of you who do not know, The Sketchbook Project is a project brought to us from the good folks over at the Art House Co-op.

The way the project works is simple. You go to a website, sign-up to participate, pay a small fee, in exchange for which they send you a sketchbook. The idea behind the project is pretty straightforward-you fill in the sketchbook, according to your selected "theme" (or, you know, not as the case may be-the themes are guidelines of sorts) and then, once completed (or when the deadline bites you in the, ahem, anatomy) you send the completed sketchbook back to the Art House Co-op. The sketchbooks then go on tour and you get treated like a rock star (of sorts.) Well, you and fifty million other people who bothered enough to send them a sketchbook (or something closely resembling such.)

It's actually kind of a fun project. The themes this year though, oh boy are they killing me. There's nothing that's just sort of jumping out at me and these folks are kind of famous for picking some wild and whacky themes. This year? For 2012? Yeah, no exception to that rule. All kinds of crazy cockamamie things. I just, you know, I just don't know what I'm going to do yet.

The themes they have this year include:
  • I remember you
  • The last of the people I know
  • In fifty years 
  • Ask me how I can help
  • The first ever...
  • Hope
  • In ten minues
  • Along the line
  • Grey side of life 
  • Fill me with stories 
  • Things found under car seats 
  • Untitled
  • Travel with me
  • Forever in a nutshell
  • Disasters
  • This is a sketchbook
  • The worst story ever told
  • Fears and tears 
  • The companion books
  • Transatlantic
  • It's summer where you are
  • It's winter where you are
  • Nothing new
  • Time traveler
  • Opposite day
  • Uncharted waters 
  • Life underground
  • Monochromatic 
  • Long trips and short phone calls
  • Encyclopedia of
  • Sandwich 
  • Prehistoric
  • Writing on the wall
  • A path through the trees
  • Stitches and folds
  • Heroes and villains 
  • Treehouse 
  • Forks and spoons
  • Waterslides I never rode


So now I'm stuck wondering what the heck to pick. I mean, what do I do with this mess of all over the map craziness? Pick the craziest? Pick the easiest? Pick the wildest? Oh good grief!

Hmmmm.

For those of you who might be reading this from Europe or Australia, you are not off the hook this year. Yes, it's true, they are bringing the Sketchbook Project to your doorstep as well.

Look out down below, here it comes.....THUMP!

(In case you're wondering, yes, this was done for my Sketchbook Project from last year. My theme was "make mine a double" and, from the looks of it, indeed, I did just that. And now? Yeah, now I need to do that again. Maybe some alcohol will give me some ideas? Either that or just let me get drunk enough to fall asleep. Yeah, that's it.)

Until next time...

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

iPhone into Art


, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
I've been going over my teaching and workshop schedule for the year and finalizing my upcoming training.

One of the new workshops I'll be leading is called "iPhone into Art." It's a workshop devoted to all things iPhone, yes, but it's a bit more than that.

You see, there are a lot of workshops out there, webinars, lots of books, etc. on using the iPhone as a camera. That's great-frankly, we probably need even more of those, but there's few, if anything, available on using the iPhone to make art. Everything that's out there focuses on downloading apps from the App store and using the iPhone to take great pictures (or, you know, getting better pictures from your iPhone.)

While it's true I think you need to be able to get better pictures from your iPhone, I wanted a workshop focused on doing more with the iPhone. I noticed how a lot of artists are using their iPhones as cameras now and that's where I spotted the void. There are few, if any, workshops for mixed media artists looking to incorporate their iPhone work. This is where the workshop idea came from-I wanted to focus on taking great iPhone photos, yes, but also on what you could do with them-on taking the next *step* with your iPhone photos.

The workshop will cover some of the Apps that I use in making iPhone photos, but it's way beyond an "Apps for the iPhone" workshop. It's going to go into things like printing, glazing, watercolors, all kinds of mixed media. Basically, lots of fun stuff and neat ideas to take your iPhone photography to the next level.

I've very excited about this new workshop, as I think it's a welcome addition. There are a lot of photo workshops out there, possibly even too many, but not enough really focused on the mixed media work that you can do with the iPhone and the Apps for it. I'm hoping this workshop will fill in that gap.

Are there any workshops you wish were available? What would get you to take a workshop, local class, or enroll in photographic education? I'd love to hear from you if you have a wish list of things you'd like to learn.

Until next time...

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Epson News and Expensive Photographs


EleganceNo1, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

The world's most expensive photograph was recently re-defined. Yes, it's true, this week Cindy Sherman's image sold for over 3 million dollars. That's one big giant film still, don't you think?

In other news, Epson has come out with a few new printers and I expect to be upgrading sometime soon. They are replacing the Epson 2880 with an R3000 which has swappable black inks (finally!) and also a replacement for the 3880 which is capable of printing 16x20 sheets. I have not yet decided which printer I'll spring for-I'm still evaluating this to see which one I will find more suitable, but I expect to upgrade sometime soon.

The best news in all of this? While my prints won't be worth a cool 3.5 million, they will come out faster. The new Epson printers are a lot faster than the currently available crop. Epson tells us it's something like 20 percent faster (yay!)

All of that and I'll finally be able to print images like this (my color infrared work) since the drivers and printers lay down ink a lot more accurately than my current Epson.

Until next time...

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Is This Thing On?


FloatingInWhite1359, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

The other day, I posted something about needing a laptop case. I need a new case for my laptop and so I thought, hey, no problem. I''ll let the Internets do all of the work for me. I'll just post something up on Twittered Facebook Bloggy-land and somebody somewhere surely will answer my calls for help, right? Right? One of my oh so cool and clever friends, somebody out in snowflake land can surely help out queen flake in her hour of need, right? Right? (Hello?!? Is this thing on?!?)

So, posted I did. I even put some clever little "keywords" in there, you know stuff like iPhone, Macbook, Macbook Air, iNeed, iWantToBuyNow, iHaveMoneyandWantToSpendItOnYourOverpricedCrap and the like. I thought, for sure, this would make the Internets rise up and swallow me right? I mean, the Internets should have sparked up and descended upon me like a pack of angry drooling wolves upon an unsuspecting sheep. Heck, I'm even picturing swarming great white sharks with giant fangs and blood in the waters. There should have been so many people attacking me at that very given moment, why the Internet itself should have like imploded or at least had some kind of little "blip" like it has when the cables in the closets all light up at once. Yes, indeed, it should have been like a Christmas tree in cabled closets everywhere, what with me posting how I want to buy an iSomething and keywords flying around like feathers in the wind and all.

But did it? Did the Internets even pay the slightest bit of attention to me at that very given second? Nope. Not even a peep. *Crickets* I tell you. Crickets. Not a peep, not a tweet, not even somebody trying to sell me some Viagra from Nigeria. (Gosh, I never thought I'd be typing this but, where oh where is that Nigerian diplomat when you're not feeling the love?)

So now, let's recap. Where does this leave me? I still don't have a laptop case and now I'm also wondering if I've said something totally stupid and all of my friends have now disowned me and de-friended me on Facebook (and the like.) Is is even possible to "un-Twit" someone and, if so, what could I possibly have done to deserve this, the coldest of cold shoulders? I mean, deep down inside, I really suspect that I probably just happened to hit a lull in the Internets bit packet transfer, and I suppose I'd have to admit it kind of feels like hitting a pregnant pause during an otherwise engaging dinner conversation but still, just in case, I've got to tell you something to perk up your interests just, you know, just in case you really aren't paying all that much attention.

Ahem. LISTEN UP! See the chick in the photo? Yeah, she's naked under her clothing. ("A naked chic! Carol's gone and posted a naked chic photo!" Go on, off to tell all of your friends. We can't let the world think the Internets are busted. Come on now, you have work to do. Chop chop!)

Are you feeling the love? Can you feel the love from where you sit? Is that really love or, like, does the Internet just smell kind of funny today.

Until next time...

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Studio Time Today


, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

Spending some time in the studio today. I have completed one 18x24 panel (encaustic on board) and am thinking about staring another. Actually, I take that back, I'm not going to start another, I'm going to have some iced tea, kick back, and watch some television tonight.

I hope you are having a great weekend in your little world today.

Until next time...

Friday, May 06, 2011

Blurb's ProLine and Storytelling Stuff


Gardenx-2184, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

Today Blurb announced that they are offering a new series of books. Called "ProLine" these books are for photographers who want to print on higher quality paper. Offering genuine Moab paper, real linen covers, and a choice of lining sheets (in coordinating colors) this "ProLine" series looks very promising. It's bound (excuse the pun!) to tap into the wedding photographer's market a bit, yes, but it will also appeal to a lot of photographers and artists who want to make a strong portfolio style book.

I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I kind of want my books to be one of a kind, unique, handmade and all of that. On the other hand, it's always nice to have options and Blurb is offering us just that. Options, options, and more options-heck, I mean, how can you complain about that?

Blurb is also offering a new app for the mobile users, one which offers a way to combine storytelling aspects into a single piece of "work." This new mobile app will allow user to combine video, text, still photos, and sound clips into a storytelling content that they can then distribute. This seems like it would be a great idea for all of us running around with mobile phones who want to share more than just still photos. I can just imagine all of the things people could be making with something like this-everything from porn, to complete works of art, to sports applications, and the works.

The one thing I wish Blurb had, which they do not, is a way to sort of "Friend" people in their interface. I need a way to connect with my friends, so that I get automatically notified, on my Blurb dashboard, when they upload a new book. That would be something nice and a feature I could use. Come on you good folks at Blurb, please make you social media site, well, a bit more social why don't you?

Also, really nice silk covers would be a big plus although, after looking at their new linen collection, they are obviously moving in that direction. Can silk be far behind?

I also really just wish they would lower their prices. It just seems so expensive, too expensive really, to make a profit off of anything they put out, although having a book is a wonderful thing. A "make my book cheap" option would be really very nice, don't you think?

What do you want to see from Blurb? Where would you like to see them going next? It must be a bit hard for them now, seeing as everybody seems to want a piece of what they are doing, and they are getting pulled into some very different directions. Still, they make a great product and offer up a great service to photographers so, frankly, I'm not surprised to see them grow and venture into new directions.

Until next time...

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Day at the Office


B-FernsBack0741, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
Inspired by, ahem, "crotch shots" taken by racing driver Tanner Foust (get your mind out of the gutter-they were actually showcasing the steering wheel of a spiffy new Ferrari!) I decided to document my "day at the office."

In case you could not guess, the typical "office" for a photographer is anything but typical.

A peek inside my studio reveals a lot of stuff, some things you'd guess would be there and some you might not expect. I have some computer crap, including a lot of printers, scanners, and all of the technical equipment that helps bring you "Carol's Little World," the websites, the prints, my books, my educational materials, and the like. I have a RAID array of hard drive storage that holds my photos and images. I have slide and print storage that houses my pre-digital archive (believe me, there were thousands of shots from those years. Actually, I take that back, probably tens of thousands, if not more, shots from the film years.) I have camera storage and mountains of compact flash (both spent and unspent, although most of it is more than slightly used.) Heck, I even have a rack of old Cibachromes (you can impress your friends, or not, as the case may be, by telling them you know what those are I suppose.) I have some cabinets that hold moldy old camera gear (need an old Nikon FM? Yeah, I've actually got a spare.) I have taborets full of paint and supplies. I have boxes of pastels. Got some easels, some new supports for printing and painting, and tons of stuff just roaming around my studio these days. It's been a productive spring, what can I say?

But, the office? The "office" where I actually go to take pictures, where I actually roll up my sleeves and get to work? I guess that would be the closest thing to an "office" if you could call it that, right?

Sometimes, like in this shot, I work outside and far away from home. I get to jaunt off to exotic locations and shoot scantily clad models (she's actually "wearing" some ferns in this shot.) Places like Kona, Venice, Mexico, California, New Orleans, and even the more "exotic" parts of Texas. Heck, I've even shot San Antonio. Have camera, will travel, right?

But the "office," yeah, the office is what I can make of it. Sometimes, I'm lucky if I get enough room to setup my laptop and I have to deal with crappy rental cars, cheap hotels and really bad road food. I've seen the ugly side of the "Waffle House" at 2 am and, let me be the first to admit, that's not a pretty place. But, you know, I put up with it because it lets me bring you shots like this. And, this? Yes, this is what I like to do and now I post it and hope you like it too.

Sometimes, I get to do studio work and work from home, where I get to put my "real" office to good use but other times? Other times, I'm at White Sands National Monument, standing on a giant sand dune or climbing up a volcano in Hawaii, navigating the public transport of Europe or flying in any contraption that will hold me high enough to get a good shot. Sure, I love shooting in my home studio, some say it's actually where I work best but, truth be told, I'd go to the ends of the earth to produce the images that I want to produce if, you know, if that's what it took. Waffle House be damned, I'm going to do whatever it takes to get the shot. I think that's what all photographers do and, frankly, I don't feel any different in that regard. Heck, maybe I'm even a bit lucky, since I have gotten to do some of the stuff I've done over the years but, you know, there's still more, there's always more, and tons more that I want to do but there are only so many studio hours in the day, right?

Ok, so maybe I don't sit in a cubicle all day but, really, are you going to hold that against me?

This is my "day at the office" what is yours like? Want to share? Hey, even if it's somewhat "normal" that might be a refreshing change of pace for a weary photographer like me.

Until next time...

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Black Bird


Crow1702, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

I know this image looks overly processed but I kind of like it. I like the way the bird looks dark, I like the fact that you can't really tell what you are looking at, I like the fact that the overall mood is a bit "creepy." It kind of goes with the concept of black birds. Black birds, I don't think, are supposed to be very pretty. They aren't the upbeat chipper things that cardinals are anyway. They are sort of these deep dark beasts that are omens for bad things to come. At least, that's how they have always been shown and who am I to buck that trend?

I don't know, I kind of like this darkness. I don't think I want it to stick around for years unending but, for an image or two, yeah, I rather like it.

Besides if we did not have the dark, we would not appreciate the light when it shines down upon us again, right?

Until next time...