Saturday, July 22, 2017

What I'm working on . . .

I have been working on (since it seems forever) making a handmade book. I’ve been thinking of it as a “Kyoto” book, since I’m incorporating photographs I took In Japan, but it’s really not about Kyoto.

I’ve completed 10 pages. And have maybe 20 more to go. It’s 12” wide and 4.5” high and thick. It will be Japanese stab-bound on the left side. And it will be meant to be hung on a wall by a cord. The style is similar to a daifuku-cho, a Japanese ledger book.

Each page is a collage, both front and back, with the back much simpler, less detailed than the front. This unnamed book is designed to be held, touched, bent, paged through. It feels soft, worn, weathered, ragged, frayed, and irregular.

This year I’ve been gathering together appropriate papers for the book — papers I’ve dyed, inked, stained, painted, crumpled, torn, folded, and sometimes waxed. The collage items are old postage stamps, hanko signatures (“chops”), postal cancellations, rice paper images, rubber stamps, water stains, pages from antique Japanese books and ledgers, and much, much more.

Since I’ve never done this before, I’m winging it, seeing how my photographs handle being tinted, how glues hold up when the papers get wet, and how my printer inks react with water. My printer ceased working and so I got a new one. But the inks are markedly different and don’t react the same way, causing my processes to change constantly.

So here are bits and pieces of what I’m doing. From upper left to right you see a sample unfinished page sitting on top of other papers, a close-up of a page, examples of postage stamps I have to choose from, then my “paper table,” photos that I’ve stained and are now drying, another sample unfinished page, a number of signature hankos (chops) that I use here and there, a close-up of a stained paper (doesn’t that look cool?), and a close-up of part of another page.

I. Love. This. The process has been a huge learning curve, trial and (mostly) error. Full of surprises (always a good thing), and the book pages/collages are wonderful to hold, to page through, to curl and bend and touch. They even sound good, sometimes crackling, sometimes softly brushing one another.

Having projects, having a purpose, making something is important to me. And in my mostly digital world, having a physical result is most refreshing! I will attempt to update more and more as things have begun speeding up. Wish me luck!

©Carol Leigh
All text, photographs, and other media are ©Copyright Carol Leigh (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from Carol Leigh.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

B&W vs. Color


Here are two versions of the same picture. I converted the top (original) photo into black and white, just wondering what might happen.

I like them both. And I like how I let just a bit of color show through in the B&W bottom version.

The original picture tells a story while the B&W is more moody and mysterious.

Is one "better" than the other? Perhaps. I'm more drawn to the top shot, but more intrigued by the bottom picture.

Luckily I don't have to decide today.

©Carol Leigh
All text, photographs, and other media are ©Copyright Carol Leigh (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from Carol Leigh.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Exploring the Skagit Valley





Chris and I went prowling around the Skagit Valley the other day and stopped at a big feed/mill operation.

I was behind all the buildings, trying to be innocuous, staying out of the way, when a guy asked if I wanted to see what it looked like inside.

No-brainer. I scrambled up four rickety wooden steps and entered a world of sound, dust, cobwebs, and heavy equipment. "Feel free to shoot whatever you want."

Major adrenaline rush. But it was dark, dark, dark in there.

I did what I could (bumping the ISO up to 3200) but my exposures were mostly way too slow and I was shooting hand-held, so sharpness and depth of field didn't hold up the way I would want.

But here you see the back wall of one of the rooms, shovels propped against a wall, a closeup of "cow cornflakes," a warning sign, and then a shot of the man who was so kind and generous to have invited me in.

In addition to working in the mill, he's also a farmer, a writer, and a (black and white, Mamiya RB67) photographer.

I e-mailed him the portrait and then saw it come up on his Facebook page that evening. It was a hit! Lots of comments, lots of joking, lots of feedback. Made me feel good.

I will never forget his hospitality and this glimpse into his life.

©Carol Leigh
All text, photographs, and other media are ©Copyright Carol Leigh (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from Carol Leigh.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Experimenting


This picture was taken years ago in Tillamook, Oregon. It's the headlamp on a very old water truck from the Corvallis fire department.

I like the repeating vertical lines on the left, the diagonal line on the right, and how the round shape of the headlamp softens the strong, straight lines in the rest of the image.

The bright orange color is a bonus. Or is it?

If what I like is the DESIGN of the photo, the color overpowers the design, making ORANGE the first thing you notice. How can I change that?

Would a black and white treatment emphasize the lines, the circular element, and make the photograph more about composition rather than color?

So yeah, that's what I did. I turned the image into a strong black and white, but then allowed just a hint of color to come through here and there to add interest.

What do you think?

©Carol Leigh
All text, photographs, and other media are ©Copyright Carol Leigh (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from Carol Leigh.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

A blade of grass . . .


This from my journal. And in case you can't read my writing, it's a quote from Henry Miller:

"The moment one gives attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself."

And isn't that the beauty of photography, of all art, the magic of seeing?

©Carol Leigh
All text, photographs, and other media are ©Copyright Carol Leigh (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from Carol Leigh.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Prime seating

Prime seating available on the Promenade Deck of the F/V Shellfish in Seattle. (F/V = Fishing Vessel.)

©Carol Leigh
All text, photographs, and other media are ©Copyright Carol Leigh (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from Carol Leigh.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Japanese Postcard 1955

This is a physical collage I made that includes a 1955 Japanese postage stamp featuring an image by Japanese artist Kitagawa Utamaro (1750-1806). The original woodblock print was called “A Girl Blowing Glass Toy.”

I used Japanese rice paper, a page from an old Japanese ledger, India ink, various hanko (signature) stamps, and walnut ink to create an aged and worn look.

See the vertical black blobs on the right? I tried inking my own pseudo-calligraphy there and the ink just seeped away into the paper. I liked the look, however, and kept it!

©Carol Leigh
All text, photographs, and other media are ©Copyright Carol Leigh (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from Carol Leigh.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Rudder repair . . .

It was a wonderful day of exploring yesterday. Off to Fort Flagler on Marrowstone Island to check out the gun emplacements. To Mystery Bay, just because it had a cool name and there was a dock and there were boats moored offshore. To test out a new restaurant in Port Townsend (Alchemy). And then to the boat yard to just walk, walk, walk, look, look, look, and shoot, shoot, shoot.

The fort was fine. Not "wow" fine, but worthy of a photo visit. A bald eagle in a tree. A beach full of driftwood. A number of big barnacles to bring home, to tell people that no, these are whale vertebrae!

Mystery Bay is no longer a mystery, and certainly would be worth another go under different weather conditions.

The restaurant was wonderful, with a to-go box of mushroom ravioli to have again at lunch today.

And the boat yard? Well, it may sound strange, but that's my favorite place. Boats in all sorts of repair and disrepair, being built, being sanded, being painted, holes being patched, and this rudder being de-barnacleized.

The rudder caught my eye because it was all a lovely blue color except brushed silver where it had been sanded. The blue and silver colors were mesmerizing. In a small photograph, however, I decided that changing it to a black and white image, rotating the picture 90 degrees, put more emphasis on the mysterious patterns the boat worker had unwittingly created.

"The first hour of the morning is the rudder of the day." (A quote from Henry Ward Beecher, a minister who lived in the 1800s.) And my first hour of this day was to work on a photograph of a rudder. A good start, methinks.

©Carol Leigh
All text, photographs, and other media are ©Copyright Carol Leigh (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from Carol Leigh.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

A bit of delicacy



We have a Japanese snowbell tree (Styrax japonicus) in the front yard which recently came into full bloom. Thinking I absolutely need a new Lensbaby, but knowing I don’t want to spend any money right now on more gear (which I would probably tire of soon anyway), I wondered how I could take really soft, ethereal photos of these delicate flowers.

I’ve got a good macro lens — Canon 100mm f/2.8. So I combined it with a 12mm Kenko extension tube to see what would happen. And here are my first attempts.

I like the out-of-focus background, the softness, the pale green colors. But maybe there’s not quite enough in focus, so today, if there are any flowers left after the winds we had yesterday afternoon and evening, I’ll give it another go with a slightly smaller aperture for more depth of field.

The pictures are pretty though, aren’t they? Something different for me as a change of pace. And yes, I do find it weird that I love photographing industrial grungy things, yet take great pleasure in this sort of photography as well.

©Carol Leigh
All text, photographs, and other media are ©Copyright Carol Leigh (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from Carol Leigh.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Getting excited about this Kyoto book

Yesterday was spent clearing the decks, organizing the papers, cutting the book pages to size, and trimming other papers so they'll go through the printer.

I also spent a lot of time selecting pictures, printing them onto the special paper, to be torn, stained, dyed, and perhaps painted. Won't know until I begin creating each page.

The concept is this:

Japanese stab binding, book size 12" wide by 4.5" high, unknown number of pages, and each page will be a physical, handmade collage, incorporating one or more photos.

Today I have one more big stack of papers to go through, pile up, and be ready to use.

Chris cut all the pages yesterday -- so cool to have a stack of them (more than 30) all ready to begin working on, probably three at a time, as I create the collages. 

Ink will be splattered. Mistakes will be made. Paint will be applied. Glue will spill. All my Japanese hankos (signature "chops") will come into play. Postage stamps, maybe some origami papers, bits of specially created gel prints will be applied, etc. Now that the technical problems are behind me, the real fun begins.

At least, that's the theory!

©Carol Leigh
All text, photographs, and other media are ©Copyright Carol Leigh (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from Carol Leigh.