Thursday, February 28, 2013

It's Time for the 5x7 Show


PaintedOcean, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
Every year, come the start of the year, I get this email. "Do you want to participate in the 5x7 show?" I also say, "Yes" because, heck, it's such a good cause and all. Of course, I also wait until almost the last minute and just squeak in my work, but it's all good.

The way the show works is that, once we sign up, the good folks over at Arthouse send us two 5x7 panels, artboards really, upon which we can create anything we want. Anything. Any kind of art at all. Anything. When I say "anything" I really mean, well, ANYTHING. Whatever you put on the board, and send back to them, why, that's what they put in the show.

Sounds simple, right?

It's all good. So, I sign up, and almost forget about it (each and every year I do this.) Funny thing, too, the boards come and land on my doorstep. THUMP. There they are. It's almost like getting writer's block or some such thing, what with that big, bad, blank page staring you back in the face. Oh my, an empty canvas! Oh the horror! (Now, remind me again, where did I leave my wine glass? And why is it empty? Oh.....right....)

The prints are supposed to be anonymous. We're not supposed to sign them, only on the back. The idea behind the show is that they hang up all of the 5x7 boards that come in and they sell all of the work for a flat cost. You pick out the work you like, pull the pin corresponding to the piece you want (Ha! Sometimes, there are fights over some of the work. When I say "fights" I mean like elbow raising, hair pulling kind of "fights." Really.) If you're lucky enough to make it to the cash register with your pin (and, in some cases, what's left of your hair) you get yourself a new piece of art. The Arthouse gets some money from all of this (to be used for new programs, teaching, and the like) and the artists get thanks and free membership (and a few other goodies.)

I've always done black and white prints. It's sort of a tradition. Last year, I did a bird and a tree. This year, I'm doing a bird and the ocean. I guess I didn't take enough shots of trees last year but, anyway, there you have it.

So, hopefully sometime soon, I'll be dropping off my two 5x7 boards, with my black and white images on them, for the 5x7 project. Unfortunately, I think I'll be traveling at the time of the opening, so I won't be able to witness (firsthand) all of the pin pulling/hair raising events, but it promises to be a good time. Should you happen to be going, be on the lookout (I guess) for some ocean and some birds. Oh, and some flying hair too because, well, heck, that's sure to be there as well.

Until next time...

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Time for a new Timer


Dress_9881, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
Hard to believe but soon enough my trip to Vegas will be upon me. Yes, it's true. Almost time to order up the compact flash and dust off the old camera bag. Actually, I take that back. This time around, I might be getting a new camera bag. I know I'll be getting (or trying to get!) a new timer that works.

They have these timers for your camera, you see, that operate like cable releases only they have timers on them. I tried to get one before, honestly I did, but I could never get one that works. So now, needless to say, I'm in the market for a new timer/cable release thing. I really need one of these too, as it's going to be some night shooting in Vegas, and I really want one that works or, at least, gives me more than the pre-programmed 30 seconds of bulb setting.

So, my thoughts turn toward this bulb setting time/cable release thing and the work I have to do for the upcoming 5x7 show. I still have to get that done this week as well. Geesh, will it ever end?

Timer, bulb/cable release thing...now I have to go and do some research and try to find one that actually works. Oh, wish me luck, for I am sure to need it again this time!

Until next time...

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Learning to See/Breaking the Myth


Abstract_5500, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
Yesterday, while I was hunkered down in my house hoping against all hope that I would not blow away (it was WINDY in Austin yesterday. Phew!) I starting flipping through some recent Facebook posts on my phone (because I was too afraid to turn on the TV, what with the strong winds, power outages, and all) and happened upon something interesting.

Now, first a bit of a back story. Many of the people I follow on Facebook are, in fact, my artist-type friends. You know this type, they are artist, painters, photographers, video/filmmakers, and the lot. And, frankly, most of them buy art, or know how to buy art, or know when to buy art, or, at least, know how to look at a picture (if they must.) Yesterday, I had an interesting run in (of sorts) with somebody who wasn't like that. No, instead, she's a lady I follow because she often posts funny jokes (and, if you must know, no, they are not jokes about photography.) She's, well, she's just funny and so that's why I follow her. No harm in that, right? OK, so, to recap, I follow this lady on Facebook and she's not the typical artist type that I usually bum around with, no, instead she's just sort of this lady who posts jokes and I find her rather funny.

Yesterday, she posted something about having a frame. Turns out she had purchased a frame, like that you would put a photograph into, and she didn't know what to put inside the frame. She bought the frame because, well, I guess, she rather liked the frame, but now she was posting on the Internet, asking her followers (her many followers-she actually has a lot of followers. Did I mention she tells really funny jokes?) which child she should put into the frame. She was asking what to put in the frame, and wondering what to do with it, because she (honestly!) didn't know.

This...wow...what can I say?

If I had a frame, any frame, I'd have about a million pictures to put into it. Even if I didn't put one of my own in it, I would never, not in a million years, have to ask what to put into it over the Internet. I would just...well, I would just....know. And she didn't. Not to say that she's stupid (she's not) and not to say that she just doesn't know any better (she does) just to say that she didn't know what to put in her shiny new frame.

My point in posting this today though is not all about her. You see, if you are an artist type (and, let's face it, you probably would be if you've stumbled onto this blog) you're probably now thinking, "Oh, wow....like, she's totally out of it!" When, the reality, the sad reality, is that she's not out of it. No, she's not one of the ones who are "out of it" actually, we are. What I mean by that is that many of the people out there, heck, probably most of the people out there, don't know how to find pictures. They don't take that many pictures. They don't know how to buy art. They don't know, in many cases, that they can even buy art. They just live with blank frames. (Seriously.) The world is full of these people. And, if you are to be a successful artist, you can't always make art for folks like me (waves hand.) No, you've got to make art, any kind of art, that includes her because, well, frankly, there are a lot more people like her out there then there are people like me out there. Seriously.

It can be difficult to pull people into the "art" world. By that I mean, sometimes, we literally have to "pull them in." Rope them up. Wrangle them. Drag them kicking and screaming. Accept the fact that they will be better off for our efforts, yes, but that's after the fact. We have to drag them to the starting gate, as it were. Sometimes, rather than try to sell art, we actually have to teach people that they can see. That's it's OK to see. That they are capable of making decisions about art. That it's OK to ask for advice, yes, but that, at the end of the day, art is about liking what you like, nothing more, nothing less.

Nobody should laugh at her because she didn't know what to put in the frame, rather artist types like myself should help her. Help her see what she already sees. Help her along the way to appreciating art for what it is, what it really is...not fancy names or out-of-touch snooty gallery spaces, no. It's about what you want to see on your walls, inside of your otherwise blank frames. It's about what you love. Until we break some of these common myths about art, until we face reality and stop being so upper crust, let's face it, we've knocking a lot of people out of the market who might (who would!) otherwise be there. So, bring it down to earth! I say, it's the better way to be.

Until next time...

Monday, February 25, 2013

What a Scam - My House is Not For Sale


PurpleLights_7230, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
There's this new (maybe not new but new to me!) scam running around my neighborhood and, I must confess, I don't like it one bit.

It started, I think, last year, when one of my neighbors came home to find a "For Sale" sign on her front yard. She thought it curious but just figured that somehow it must have been a mistake, like maybe somebody had placed it in the wrong yard, and so she just ignored it and went about her business. Well, after a few days, nobody moved it and nosy neighbors (like me!) started asking, "Are you going to move? Have you put your house on the market?" Because of the hassle, she decided to call the real estate agency in question and ask them to remove the sign because it had (obviously) been placed in the wrong yard (or so she thought!)

So, she called them but, when they answered the phone, they said something like, "Oh right. We'll take care of that. Sorry. By the way, while we have you on the telephone...we noticed your house is very attractive and has a great deal of curb appeal. Did you know the prices the market these days are doing quite well and, based upon estimates, we think you could get ..... dollars for your house. Have you thought about selling?" Turns out the fake sign was not so much a fake but more a ploy to get people to call them and, when they call asking them to remove the sign, instead they get a high pressure "you really want to sell us your house cheap now, don't you?" unexpected sales call.

What a scam! What a fraud!

Luckily, this scam didn't last too long, as they just hit a house or two and managed to miss my house (Ha! Guess I do not have enough "curb appeal" or whatever.) Unfortunately, they are back again. The scam crowd appears to be back and doing this again! Maybe it's because the market for houses in Texas has jumped so much recently and we're now all reading articles in the paper about a housing shortage and whatnot, I don't know, but I do know the scam real estate agents appear to be back and in full swing. Oh the horror!

I have already decided that, should they happen to put a sign up in my yard, why, I'm not going to call them, no, I'm not. Instead, I'm going to steal their sign and make it into some kind of art project. I'll put wax on it. I'll photograph it. Heck, I don't care if I use it for practice welding assignments down at my local community college but, somehow, some way, I'm going to steal their precious little sign. And, of course, not call them back. What nerve! Come on, shady real estate agents, I dare you....give me a sign!

I should also like to point out, at this time, that the agency in question is not one of the "real" agencies we all know about (like Century 21 or ERA or any of the established agencies. Those folks are all decent and hard-working and legitimate, I'm sure.) This was for some fly-by-night outfit with a name that sounds almost legit but isn't really. Giving real estate agents a bad name too, I would suppose. What nerve!

Oh, and it goes without saying really but, should you happen upon this blog to find some odd looking artwork featuring a real estate sign, well, now you know what happened.

Until next sign....

Friday, February 22, 2013

Stop Times Ten aka The Ten Stop ND Filter


PinkSkyOverWhiteSands, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

Lately, it seems like everybody I know is getting a new 10 stop neutral density filter. It seems like they are becoming increasingly common, anyway, so much so that I point to this as a new trend in photography. As trends go too, this is a bit of a strange one. Allow me to explain.

Some trends, you see, come about because things happen or we (as a collective-I'm talking in the Queen's style of a "we" here) all hone in on something that's the same. It might be a season (like, say, autumn leaves) or it might be a look, like say black and white street style images, but, often is the case, photographers spot trends, follow trends, contribute towards trends, and even, in some cases, make trends.

With the 10 stop ND filter though, something else is happening. We had the iPhone explosion, and Instagram gave us all funky-colored little square images, and then, it seems like nothing else was happening. Nothing else came along. It was kind of like "dead zone" for a while. Everybody was waiting on the next new trend to come along. The new iPhones even came out and, well, they had some new stuff, but not too many people seem to be jumping on the "sweeping pano" bandwagons. It's just not happening, not for that anyway. I mean, yes the feature is there, but I don't see a ton of people rushing out to use it lots, at least not yet anyway.

Meanwhile, somewhere far away, in a factory (probably off in Japan somewhere) advances in optics and glass and just cheap manufacturing have made it possible for a lot of folks to be able to afford a 10 stop ND filter. And a 10 stop ND filter is what they are getting. Phew! Lots of them. Everywhere I go, everywhere I look, I hear the sounds of, "Oh! I just got a new 10 stop nd filter. Look!" It's like a disease almost. Thus, the trend was born.

What does it mean? How far will the trend go?

Well, I think it's safe to say that a lot of landscape photographers will be using them. Lots probably, and rightfully so. They are handy. They make the water look like glass and they can help eliminate things like tourists from images. But, with all of that comes a price. They aren't the easiest to use, often you have to use a tripod, and it's hard to see in there, in that deep dark place. Not to mention not every scene calls for a 10 stop filter, really, it doesn't. So, like everything else, they probably have a time and a place. A good thing, yes, in general but, as they say, too much of a good thing often, well, isn't.

Still, as far as trends go, everybody and their brother, it would appear, now wants to look all Michael Kenna and get with these 10 stop ND filters. Who am I to say I blame them, right? Heck, I might even get one myself. But not for my next trip, no. For my next trip, heck, I'm going to Vegas and I really don't need one of those there. I need a good timer/bulb release, my sturdy tripod, and probably a nice light jacket because it can get cool in the desert when the sun goes down. Oh, all of that and maybe some colored gels or a couple of funky flashlights to, you know, spruce things up a bit (not like Vegas needs sprucing up, mind you, but there it is.) That's the kind of stuff I'll be getting next but a 10 stop ND filter might be on my horizon as well. I mean, who am I to resist such peer pressure, right? (Right?)

Still, as I sit typing this, the echo of the quiet little "you need a 10 stop ND filter, really you do" sounds bounce around in the back of my mind. (Yes, if you must know, I'll probably cave and get one too but, as I said already, not before Vegas. Vegas, no, not before Vegas. Maybe right after that though. Oh groan!)

Until next time...

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Like Sundials in the Shade

The oh-so-smart Benjamin Franklin once talked about talent and untapped potential as "sundials in the shade." What are your "sundials in the shade" and how can you help make them come out?

I've been giving a little bit of thought to this lately. It seems like everybody has some potential, everybody *can* do a lot of different things and maybe most even have the potential to do more, but few do. Especially where the arts are concerned. It can seem difficult, if not even impossible at times, to sort of "get it off the ground" as it were...to get the ball rolling, to get things really....moving. Once artists tend to get things going, once they hit a stride of some kind, there seems to be no trouble creating, it's just that initial "push" to get it all started. "Sundials in the shade" indeed!

So, how do we help get over that? What can we do to make the path be more clear and to rid ourselves of obstacles. We all (collectively) face so many common obstacles too, don't we?

It seems like a big first step is identifying what our "sundials in the shade" really are. We have to be honest with ourselves here, brutally honest. What is it we do? What are we good at? What might we be good at if given the opportunity? The world is filled with so much untapped potential yet, time and again, the world over, people tend to fall into the same ruts and groves. We need to snap out of it and think outside of the box more. We need a more "go for it!" kind of mentality, less doubt, less self-loathing, more confidence. We need better support, yes, we also need more words of kindness and empathy to move forward.

A lot of people, perhaps many too many people, are afraid of the arts. They think they will starve, they think they cannot do it, they think they don't have talent, or they just have that mental tape recorder going around in the head that says, "No!" No, I'm not good enough, no, I'll never be able to do that....NO, just NO! The sundial sits in the shade and re-assures himself that the sun is not coming. Nope. Cloudy day today, sorry folks! Nothing to see here, move right along! But, even an object as large as the sun can be moved, you just have to want to do it.

In the old days, people thought the sun revolved around the earth. This was just a major assumption. Everybody knew it! Sun, earth...why, of course, we are the center of the universe. Nowadays, we know better. The same theory can be applied to art and creativity. People think the world revolves around money and that they just aren't that "gifted" to be creative....they could never make a living doing art....that art is...well, for French men who wear berets and fuss with pretty blue dabs of paint. Ha! Sundial, meet Mr. Shade.

Art is in everything you find it. It's not reserved for the rich, the educated, heck, not even the men. You don't even have to be French, although that does kind of help you pronounces some of the more obscure paint names. My point is that each and every one of us has an artist within and each and every one of us has the potential to make art, to be more creative, to find our own "inner sun" no matter how dimly it might shine at first.

Don't we owe it to our art and our creativity to at least try to realize our full potentials? Or are we all destined to sit by idly, thinking we got it "made in the shade" like a sundial waiting for its first ray of sunshine to come? I'd hate to think that were the case. No, rather I prefer to think we are all but "sundials in the shade." That we all have hidden potential, waiting to be unlocked. That we can all make it if only we were to try.

"Sundials in the shade..." it's an interesting thought for today.

Until next time...

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

My Cool And Clever Friends


FloatingInWhite1359, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
OK, so you know I have the most cool and clever friends, really I do. As friends go, you guy (and gals!) are tops.

And, in completely unrelated news (or maybe not!) I have decided that it's time to open my world up a little bit. Yes, I know this is "Carol's Little World" and, as Carol, I'm supposed to be the "world leader" and all, but I have been thinking it might be kind of fun to turn the focus on my cool and clever friends (since, after all, I have so many of them. And they really are cool and clever. Have I mentioned that yet? Mmmm. Thought so.)

So, what does all of this mean? I'm going to be starting up a new feature here on the ole' blog. Called my "Focus on Friends" this feature will allow me to focus on some of my cool and clever friends. You know who you are. You're the people who make Austin (and, in some cases, the entire Internet!) so wonderfully cool. And clever too. Cool and clever, that's you.

Ideally, I'd like to do a write-up, similar to what I've been doing for the "Painters Every Photographer Should Know" series, maybe a little less "formal" but still kind of the same idea. Focus on the friend, maybe even highlight some of the friends work, you get the idea. Keep it cool and clever. Keep it about you, my friends, and showoff what you got.

What does this mean to you?

Well, for starters, if you don't know about my cool and clever friends, check back in this space to find out more about them as the series unfolds. They really are (kidding aside!) some cool and clever friends. And, if you're one of the "cool and clever" and would like to be featured on the blog here, please do let me know. Yes, I'll be contacting some of you to see if you are interested but, should you happen to read this and want to speed along the process, please drop me an email and I'd be happy to get the ball rolling. All it will take is a JPEG of your artwork and probably some pesky questions from me.

This one falls under the "stay tuned for more!" channel for today but, I'm sure you'll agree, it's going to be absolutely grand getting to see (and share!) the work of my cool and clever friends. Stay tuned!

Until next time...

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Top 10 - Ideas for Winter Shooting


Austin 360 Bridge, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
So, it's the dead of winter, and you're thinking "it's too cold/wintery/snowy/whatever-y to go outside and take photos now! Nobody in their right mind would take photos now, right?" Before you give up, and put the camera away until springtime, why don't you try to make the most out of old man winter? Here are some of my suggestions on enjoying the winter season while it lasts.

Top 10 Ideas for Winter Shooting

Number 10 - Dogs in the snow. Even if you don't have a dog, go and visit a dog park or find somebody out in a hat, coat, and scarf walking a poodle. You know they must live just around the corner now, so why not go out and find them? So you don't have snow? No worries. This is also a great time to get the dog out in the earth a bit. The cooler temps might allow the dog to run around a bit more and you might get some different "looks" from your summertime dog-centric images.

Number 9 - People indoors. Always wanted to learn how to bounce a flash off the ceiling or yellow walls in your apartment? Why not do it now? This is a great time to shoot people indoors. Have a dinner party and go wild or just invite a photo-friendly friend over for some modeling. Informal portraits often happen this time of year so make the most of it.

Number 8 - Trees in the snow. Snow and trees make for some beautiful images. I know it can be a bit of a cliche, but go ahead and do it anyway. Make your own cliches and see what you get.

Number 7 - Birds in the snow (migrating birds.) Winter is a time you can often catch birds migrating down to or back from the south. They move around, those birds do, and you might just find some different birds than you "usually" do if you get out some this time of year. I know it's cold in the early morning hours but why not try for some interesting birds this season?

Number 6 - Bare trees. This one is good even if it does not snow where you live. There is a lot of symbolism and substance to be found photographing bare trees. This is also a great time of year to study the structure and form of trees, since the leaves are gone, you can actually "peek" at what lies beneath. So, go ahead, get your bare tree on! You won't be sorry. Who needs leaves when you can have wonderful branches reaching up to the sky?

Number 5 - Urban life, especially at night. The cold weather can work in your favor here. Nobody else wants to be trapped outside in it either, so this is a good time of year to find empty streets with fewer pedestrians. This can make for great "extra empty" urban landscapes. Go ahead, shoot those pretty buildings at 3 am. You just might find yourself alone and enjoying it all that much more. Bundle up and get on out there if you can, to make the most of these empty streets.

Number 4 - Australia or the other side of the world, where there is no snow. Now, I know this might be a bit of a challenge, as not everybody can afford a plane ticket but it's, in fact, not snowing *everywhere.* There are always places where summer abounds and, if you must, if you just *must* get away, there always is this, sort of nuclear option. Hawaii remains warm this time of year too and often doesn't require a passport if you are situated in the US. No matter where you live, this might be a good time of the year to go tropical.

Number 3 - Indoor portraits. This might also be a good time to setup a home studio and try some portrait sittings. It's cool enough outside that the heat of the lights won't bother your subjects and you might be able to make a little bit of extra cash by setting up a cool backdrop in a spare room and shooting away for folks who want some formal or family portraits.

Number 2 - Bus/Train stations. This one might not be so obvious but, at places of "mass transit," you're more likely to find more people mulling about, on account of the cold weather outside. Not to mention there are hats, scarf and coat images, plus umbrellas that always look good on film (or digital.) Not to mention you're a lot less likely to get hassled by the powers that be, because you can always use the excuse, "Sorry, I didn't know I wasn't supposed to take pictures. I was just killing time waiting in the warm for my train/bus/cab/whatever to arrive." Works every time, it really does, so go ahead and hunt that lady in a red coat or follow that shadowy man hiding beneath his umbrella.

Number 1 - Empty beaches. This time of year, nobody is out "sunning" so you might have a lot easier time getting those wonderful empty beach shots, not to mention the weather often creates wonderful waves and tides. You might even get lucky and get something like snow on the beach. How cool is that? So, go ahead, get beached! It can be fun, even in the dead of winter.

Some runners up:

Coffee/tea/hot cocoa/soups - these make for interesting shots this time of year too. When it's cold outside, somebody's always trying to sip something warm inside, so why not shoot away! It's a great time of year to get these images and you often don't have to hunt too far or too long to find them.

Kids in the snow - just like dogs and trees, kids in the snow can make for great images. Go out, have a snowball fight, and see what kind of shots you can get.

Now that I've given you a few ideas, I'll hope you'll get out there and shoot before spring comes along and takes these all away. Besides, if you have made a New Year's resolution to shoot more, this is a good time to renew your interest in photography and brush up on those skills before the spring gives way to those pretty flowers and wonderful scenic images we all want to capture. So, why not? Get out there and take a bite out of old man winter! He's not all that bad.

Until next time...

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Happy Fat Tuesday, Y'All


Dark Figure Walking, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
It's Mardi Gras day everybody! Happy Fat Tuesday!

Yes, it's true, today marks the last day before lent and the highlight of festivities down in this place (the French Quarter, in case you could not recognize it.) The parades, the floats, the drunk people wondering where the hurricanes went, ah yes, it's all there.

Fat Tuesday is my kind of holiday. It's one of those "eat, drink, and be merry!" days that dot the calendar we all seem to love so much. It's fun! It's a celebration, a party, and a great excuse to get your Mardi Gras on no matter where you might happen to be located. Yes, it's really true, as Fat Tuesday is more a holiday in spirit than anything else. You don't even have to be there to enjoy it although, obviously, if you are there, it's all that much better.

Next year, Fat Tuesday will actually be a bit later, as it clocks in the first week in March (March 4th for those paying attention) so this year marks the last time we celebrate Fat Tuesday in February for a while (well, at least for a year or two.)

We also will be having a new Pope by the end of Lent this year (more than likely anyway, as the current Pope resigned yesterday.) That makes all that many more reasons to celebrate the start of the holy season this year. We should help celebrate the current Pope and all he has done. (He was a good Pope, at least, most Catholics I know seem to agree and tend to like him, although one has to wonder if we can really have a "bad" Pope.) Of course, we wish him nothing but the best in his retirement, post-Pope days (one also has to wonder what that really entails, although I suspect it's probably much the same-he'll go to church, say prayers, read a lot, etc.)

Enough about the Pope though, as this is Fat Tuesday and, as they say in the 'Quarter, "Laissez les bons temps rouler" or "Let the Good Times Roll." Yes, it's Mardi Gras Day, so please have a good one.

In case you in need of a drink, there's always the Pat O'Brien's hurricane. These drinks are bright red and served up in a tall glass, garnished with orange slices and cherries. The name of the drink came from the shape of the glass it's served in - the glass looks like a hurricane lamp. When visiting New Orleans for the first time, I was lucky enough to visit Pat O's and sit in the courtyard, overlooking the flaming fountain, to get my first taste of the hurricane drink. It's a tasty treat that's a bit stronger than one might believe and totally worth the trip if you happen to be in the 'Quarter. Here are two recipes to get you started enjoying your own hurricane from New Orleans, in case you cannot make it down that way this year. (Note that Pat O's serves hurricane made with passion fruit juice, while some other hurricane recipes leave this out.)

Traditional Hurricane Recipe:

2 oz light rum
2 oz dark rum
2 oz passion fruit juice
1 oz orange juice
½ oz fresh lime juice
1 Tablespoon simple syrup
1 Tablespoon grenadine
Garnish: orange slice and cherry

Shake all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and strain into a Hurricane glass filled with ice. Garnish with a cherry and an orange slice.

Pat O' Brien's Hurricane Recipe:

Mix 4 oz. of Pat O'Brien's Rum or any good dark rum with 4 oz. Pat O'Brien's Hurricane Mix
Fill 26 oz. glass with crushed ice
Garnish with a slice of orange and a cherry

Mix can be purchased at Pat O'Brien's (800) 597-4823 or by visiting: www.patobriens.com.

Cheers!

Until next time...

Monday, February 11, 2013

I Could Use Some Heat Right About Now


Smoke Over Earth, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
It's a rainy and chilly day here in River City today. As I look out my window, I see drops of water hitting the glass and a grey swath of clouds above in the sky. It's chilly too, although we have nothing like the cold winter blizzards they are experiencing up north right about now. (My heart goes out to folks trapped in that kind of snow. Please, stay safe.)

As I look at this image, I am reminded that these clouds were from geothermal heat sources up in Iceland, one of the cooler places on earth and yet heated by this kind of underground fire, smoke, and brimstone. Isn't our planet the most amazing place? We have stuff like this, even though it can be cold outside. The surface boils over. What a planet we share, no?

In more mundane news, I watched most of the Grammy awards last night. There were a few surprises for me. I always love seeing young folks with talent and getting to see the talents of many shine. The music community really cleans up well, too, as many of the younger, tattooed set looks really nice in black tie finery.

Every year I make it a special point to check out some of the winners in the lesser-known categories. Sure, it's great that my fellow Texan Kelly Clarkson won, she's a great singer and deserves her gong, but I also try to go out of my way to check out winners in categories like jazz, classical, and other forms of music. The world music categories also never fail to impress me.

More proof, I guess, that, sometimes anyway, when you scratch beneath the surface, you never know what you might find. Just like the geothermal areas in Iceland, you might find many surprises indeed.

Until next time...

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Bali on the Brain


Tiki Temple After Rain , originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
So, these past few weeks, I've been busy doing much of nothing, trying to get myself to get off my duff and finish stuff like setting up the new router and doing routine IT maintenance on my home setup. Yes, I won't bore you with any more of these details, but I have to say too that I've been doing something else.

Thinking about going to Bali.

I have Bali on the brain! Everything is Bali this and Bali that and I just keep thinking about Bali, Bali, and more Bali. Thinking about Bali, dreaming of Bali, plotting my trip to Bali...wait, did I just say "plotting my trip to Bali?" Yes, indeed, I did!

I found a nice trip to Bali in September and I plan on going. Or, as least, doing my best to get my butt over there. When I say that, I mean, many things can go wrong between now and then, but I intend to keep Bali on my radar and possibly put a deposit down on a trip to Bali as early as April (for September travels.)

Now, I know what you are thinking too. Wasn't she going to try to go back to Iceland again this year? Yes, indeed, I was and I am! I'm going to try too to head over to Iceland for a quick summer trip (gets me out of the Texas heat!) and re-visit the wonderful countryside there. More icebergs, more shooting, more beaches, more Tiki huts, and oh so much more.

Now, I know what you're thinking again too. "Didn't she say she wasn't going to travel all that much this year?" Um...ok, so maybe I got that bit wrong. But that's just one bit, the rest of it...it all makes so much sense. I'll book my Iceland trip as soon as I get back from Las Vegas and I'll book my Bali trip shortly after I book my Iceland trip. The Las Vegas trip is coming up soon too, so I've already (sort of) started preparations for that. Thinking about what lenses I want to bring and thinking about when I need to gear up so it all comes together for me.

Las Vegas, Iceland, Bali. It's shaping up to be a good year if I can manage to pull it all off. Now, I know a lot of stuff can go wrong between now and then. Plans change. It's hard to book these things, sometimes. Trips get canceled. You know the drill. Still, for now anyway, those are the plans.

Las Vegas, Iceland, Bali.

I'm going to have to drink a lot of tea. I think that's the only thing those places have in common, isn't it? I've never been to Asia before and now, here I am, thinking about going to Bali and planning on getting over there in September.

Bali on the brain, I tell you. Bali on the brain!

Until next time...

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Photographers 0, Shoes 1 (ok, maybe actaully "2" but they do come inpairs)


RedWithShoes_7057, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
There's something about photographers and shoes. I don't know quite what it is or quite how to explain it to other folks, especially those non-photographers out there, but there's always something really very whacky going on with photographers and shoes.

When I first started out as a photographer, I thought that maybe it was just me. For sure, once I got more established, once I got better and really started getting a lot of gallery shoes, my shoe...ahem...."issues" would go away, right? Nope. Even people like Joe McNally has shoe problems from time to time, and he's a real pro if I ever saw one. (If you recall, on a somewhat recent trip to St. Lucia, he was asked to photograph a wedding and wound up having only flip flops so he had to borrow some ill-fitting dress shoes from somebody else and shoot an entire wedding with shoes that were not his own and not quite the correct size. Oye!)

If you're a photography, you can basically count yourself "lucky" if you end the day wearing the same pair of shoes you started. And, you can count yourself as "really lucky" if you don't have to borrow shoes from somebody, anybody, else, in order to get the job done. It's not uncommon, when traveling on workshops or just to far away lands, to find photographers wearing each others shoes, really it isn't. We do it all the time. In fact, I would go so far as to guess that many of the famous, iconic images you're used to seeing were made with another man's souls. Yes, the photographer in question had his heart in it, but he was probably wearing somebody else's foot coverings. Makes you think long and hard about those early shots out west, doesn't it? And just who were those cobblers from yesteryear?

Odd things can happen too, like you find yourself shooting on a beach wearing winter boots or shooting in the snow wearing flip flops. I don't think I've ever actually known a photographer who got away with wearing their own shoes all of the time and actually not having to change shoes (or not having gotten wet at least once over the course of shooting.) Seriously. Shoes boil down to some big issues. It's one of those things you just would not think about but can really blow holes in your plans.

I have another friend who is just starting out as a photographer. He did his first wedding recently. He was faced with a ton of issues. He had never used a flash and wasn't sure about white balance. He was still a little green and uncomfortable when shooting people in general, that kind of a thing. I kept trying to re-assure him too. "You're going to be fine," I would say, "just relax and ease into the shoot. Get the shots you need and plug away but don't panic. Take what the camera gives you but work hard too." I gave him a lot of good advice. At the end of the day? He complained about his shoes.

"My feet were killing me!" He said. "I totally had these shoes on that were not quite the right size and I had to stand up all day long and it just hurt. I even got blisters!"

"You're lucky you still have your own shoes!" I told him. "Yeah, that happens a lot too."

It's true. Shoes come and shoes go. And, we can never seem to find just the right ones. Shoes, glorious shoes. Who would think they would be such a problem? I mean, quite literally, what a pain!

If you're a photographer and you have your own shoe story to tell, please drop me a note or leave a comment. I'd be curious to find out if this issue is as widespread as I think it is in the photography community.

Until next time...

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Like Tracks in My Mind


PebbyTracks_7301, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
So, I'm in this online group and this week they have announced their "big project." It's going to be a "make your own album" project, which is kind of interesting to me for a couple of reasons.

For starters, I've always felt that most people who are photographically inclined also participate in other art forms-many, in fact, actually play music as well. There are all kinds of data to back this idea up, everything from famous photographers who also play music to famous musicians who also take pictures to studies that show one art pulls in the same as the next, that sort of a thing. Yes, it's true, there are many ties between music, art, photography, creative writing, etc. and, quite frankly, most of these ties center around the art of being creative, being able to "see" things and then make them come to life. We all do this on some level, it's not actually relegated to the arts but, suffice it to say, the arts force us to do it a lot more and, in fact, often rely up our ability to do that in order to be successful.

Apart from the entire "musicians and photographers are artists too!" mantra, I've recently started going over some old song lyrics that I had written, many years ago, but never did anything with, at least never set to music or visuals. A treasure trove, that is! Oh my, there is much untapped potential in this sort of a thing. Even if the words don't come out "worthy" just the notion that I can write song lyrics and then use that as a basis for an art project is quite a sound one (excuse the pun.) So, last night, I was sitting around, almost doodling really, when I got a few ideas for songs in my head. I started writing down bits of choruses and verses and refrains and the like, with wild notions of musical refrains dancing around in my head. I must admit, it was kind of a refreshing change of pace, writing music like that was. It used different "muscles" in my brain, if you will, to allowing me to flex those creative juices (so to speak.) Yes, I'd have to say it was fun for a while, even if I didn't get very far and, really at the end of it all, I do have a few visual ideas, including some things I've been meaning to try for ages but simply haven't gotten around to and some things I've not had on the back burner but expanded upon to fill in some gaps. Yes, I'd have to say this making music business, so far anyway, has yielded some interesting "fruit of the creative tree" (so to speak.)

Then there's the notion of making "album" artwork, with items like an album cover, a track list, liner notes, and the like. Come on now, who would not want to do this kind of a project? Seriously. It sounds like fun, doesn't it?

Of course, having said this, it's also a bit of a stretch as a project. I'm sure some people will have a hard time thinking about what they can do. It's an open-ended project. (Those of you who know me, probably know too that these types of projects I like best, though I am the first to admit they aren't for all.) Some people are confused as to the concept of an "imaginary" album, as if such a thing could never exist, so why go ahead and create one? Such a project as this, I would imagine, would be very hard for those of us more literal to interpret, and I really feel for those folks. They will have a hard time with this one, as it's so open-ended and also relies heavily upon imaginative resources. (Of course, it's just the kind of project I would really love to sink my teeth into, so here's hoping I have time and inclination to participate.)

The idea of crafting images to accompany music is nothing new, really. Even before album cover art, folks have been doing that for ages. Bringing something to a new media is a great way to play as an artist and so I'm really looking forward to see what the online community will come up with, at least for this project anyway.

For those of you who want to play along, there's an element of writing to this, as well as the visual interpretation and, of course, the musical "ties" which can be as strong (or as weak!) as one would like to make them. The only real "requirements" are that you contribute with original artwork, that it be tied somehow to your imaginary album, and that you submit all work by the deadline in question. (Best of luck if you decide to participate in the project.) I've got some ideas running around in my head, but it's already shaping up to be a busy time for me, so here's hoping I can play along too, with this making (musical) tracks from my mind sort of a project.

Until next time...

Monday, February 04, 2013

The Big Game

Not being much of a football fan leaves me without much to do on Super Bowl Sunday. Most years, I cave and wind up watching at least part of the game, although, if I must confess, I always prefer watching the commercials. The commercials are the most creative part of the game for me, and I love checking out the new ones.

This year though, something really weird happened. I had a kind of busy day and busy time of it over the weekend and I had not gotten my usual Sunday afternoon "nap fest" in as planned, but I did manage to make myself some onion dip and secure some chips just in case I changed my mind at the last minute and decided to watch the game.

So, it got to be about 4:30, maybe even closer to the end of the day, and I had spent a good part of the day fighting with iTunes and my new iPhone (Attention: for those of you who know me, all three of you out there, *waves* my iPhone works once again. Yes, it's true. I interrupt this blog to bring you an important announcement: my iPhone works and you can call me once again. Not like you will because I know you know how much a camera my iPhone really is, but there you have it.) I was tired and full of onion dip so, like, what's a girl to do? I spread out on the couch, grabbed the remote, and thought, why not? I'll just chill until the "big" game comes on. Right? Right? (Oh, you can probably guess how *this* is going to end now, can't you?)

I woke up and it must have been around 7 pm. "Oh darn," I thought aloud to myself, "I must have already missed all of the juicy commercials." Turns out I didn't. Well, maybe I hadn't at that point. I turned on the game, only to find Beyonce singing. Ah, halftime! It would appear that I tuned in just in time to catch the half-time show. "No worries," I thought to myself, "there's still plenty of commercials to go around!" I thought I remembered too, hearing something about Beyonce singing a song during the half-time show so I sat up a bit and watched Ms. Thing do her, well, *thing* as it were. The thing I didn't know, or didn't realize at the time, was that the half-time show performance number "thing" is about 20 minutes long. Beyonce kept singing and singing and singing. Every time she would bow her head, as if she finished one song, she would then pop it up a few seconds later only to start another. Who knew Beyonce even had so many songs? Eh "If you like it then you should have put a ring on it," to you too. Finally, after what seemed like an hour of "half-time" the game started back up again.

They had some kind of a kickoff type maneuver during the second half and some guy got the ball and run all the way down the other end of the field. When I say, "ran" I actually mean more like "took off like greased lightning," he was that fast. Phew! I take back whatever I've said about football players being fat, dumpy, out of shape and convicted wife-beating felons (well, they still are that, um, most of it anyway.) This guy took off and ran like there was no tomorrow. He ran faster than Grant took Richmond. He ran faster than....well, you get the idea. Took off he did, and he ran himself all the way into some kind of record-breaking 109 odd yard touchdown. Wow. Who knew, right? I got tired just watching him run around on my TV set.

Then, the lights went out.

This was rather odd, as I didn't even know lights could go out in a stadium, much less go out in the middle of the super bowl. But, go out the lights did, it actually got dark for a second or two there. The good announcers and sports type people kept coming back on, telling us how the power would be restored any second now, how it was just a matter of a few minutes now, yada, yada. Whatever. Once again, I feel asleep.

So, what was my take-away from this big game "thing." Let's see now:
* Beyonce can sing and shake her "booty-licious" self for more than 20 minutes
* Some football player can actually run the entire length of the field. In tights.
* To paraphrase Gladys Knight, "That's the night that the lights went out in [New Orleans]"
* I really need to get more sleep.
* Oh, and perhaps my favorite of the bunch: my iPhone works again. Yay!

What a great game indeed.

Until next time...