Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Latest black and white images



I'm experimenting with black and white photography these days, which, because I usually gravitate toward brilliant color, is kind of weird, but I'm enjoying the process. And sometimes I'll add a bit of color here and there, very subtly, as you can see in the second and third pictures.

A hood ornament on a 1933 Oldsmobile stands out nicely against the soft background. Even nicer when it's all black and white, no green and red cars back there to distract our attention from the lovely lines of the hood ornament.

The second picture was taken on the Oregon coast. The original, color version contained way too much bright (fluorescent) algae growing on the big door to the right as well as here and there throughout. Way too distracting, and takes your eye away from the weathered and old feeling that I wanted to emphasize.

And then a black and white (plus a bit of color) shot of an old Volkswagen photographed in Port Townsend, Washington. I like how the touch of color adds some warmth to the otherwise cold black and white version.

©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, August 22, 2017

Morning coffee . . . and the eclipse




I actually had a plan for the eclipse. My plan was not to photograph the actual eclipse, but rather what the light and shadows would do to the surrounding landscape.

We had checked out the area around the lighthouse at Fort Casey for possibilities and yes, that would be a good spot. I was going to photograph the coastline sweep looking north. Maybe some long-exposure shots of waves on the beach below.

Figuring the place would be packed and we might not be able to get a parking spot close to the lighthouse, we arrived at 8 a.m. Ha! We were the only ones there!

It was really, really foggy. So I photographed my coffee sitting on the dashboard. The dark "cloud" above it is steam on the windshield. Nice iPhone shot.

We came prepared to wait for the fog to break, with a thermos of coffee, a box of chocolate-covered mini-donuts, and a newspaper. In a nice warm car. Ahhhhhh.

I kept checking the coastline. Nope. Couldn't see much at all, but then this "fog-bow" showed up. Very cool to see the sun shining down onto the fog below to create what I've learned is a pretty common phenomenon. But I first thought, "Wow! Eclipse-related and unusual!" Alas, no. But it's still kind of cool.

As eclipse time arrived and went, it was obvious it would be a bust at our location. And it was also obvious that 90% obscurity just isn't enough for real drama. The light just dulled down a little bit. No darkness. No eerie light.

So I worked the lighthouse a bit, taking a few high-key, highly-minimalistic shots of architectural detail.

A couple of our friends joined us. I met another local photographer. We laughed. We talked. We had a good time. And I took a few weird lighthouse shots. Life is pretty darned good.

©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, August 17, 2017

He followed me home . . .

. . . can we keep him?!

We were at a nursery picking out a flowering plant as a birthday gift for a friend here on the island. Put the plant in the back of the car.

Stopped at a grocery store to pick up a few items. Opened the back hatch and Chris said, "Look!"

This little green frog was moving around in the plant foliage. Hoo ha! I grabbed the frog, cupping him gently in my hands while Chris opened a plastic bag. I popped him in and we headed home.

What else could we have done, really? Couldn't have him hopping about inside the car. (They always insist on driving.) Couldn't put him down in the parking lot. So home it was, where I released him in what we call the "island" in the front yard, where there are lots of plants, lots of greenery, a moist environment for him. Or her.

I looked him up to learn he is a Pacific tree frog (Pseudacris regilla) and is the State of Washington's official amphibian. I saluted him. Or her. And wished it a long, happy life somewhere in our front yard.

FLYCATCHER UPDATE: Well, thanks to Bruce Krucke and her ever-so-wise and helpful birding friends, they're pretty sure the bird's not a wren, not a warbler, not a Hammond's flycatcher, but rather a Pacific-slope flycatcher (Empidonax difficilis). And one of the chicks has already flown the coop, leaving two rather lethargic chicks behind. I saw the chick leave, actually, fluttering out of the nest, onto the porch floor, and then through the railing into the shrubbery below. I trust he (or she) is doing well and that the parents are feeding it, wherever it may be. Luckily they're still hanging around the nest, continuing to feed the two stragglers.

So with this episode of "Carol Leigh's Wild Kingdom," you're up to date on what's happening here on Whidbey. Oh, saw a flock of about 12 white pelicans fly overhead this afternoon. Nice to see those big white birds, black blotches on their wing tips. Not like the huge flocks we used to see circling over Joshua Tree National Park as they slowly made their way north, but impressive nevertheless.

©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, August 14, 2017

Hammond's Flycatcher?




Bird update . . .

So cool, being this close to little lives being born and growing up. I told my friend Bruce K., in South Carolina, that I didn't know what bird this was -- they're always hidden in the hydrangea bush or else zooming by faster than the speed of light. She's an expert, so I took these two shots this afternoon to send to her. They are HUGE crops from the photograph immediately below them, and still remarkably sharp.

I'm waiting for word back from Bruce.

And then the last photo (iPhone) is the "state of the nest" as of this afternoon. Three little chicks all facing the same direction. Too cute.

©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.

Recent work: "Back Pages"



Series of three collages made with hand-painted and inked papers.

©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, August 11, 2017

A couple letters . . .


The "R" I found painted on a fence in Washington's Skagit Valley last month, and the "K" came from a metal container in a boatyard in Port Townsend, Washington.

My affinity for photographing letters (and numbers) hasn't abated over the past decades, much to the puzzlement of many of my viewers!

©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, August 10, 2017

A few numbers . . .


These are a few numbers I've made the past few months. The "4" is from the paper I use on the studio counter to clean my brushes, to test paints, inks, etc. When the paper gets "full," I remove it and replace it with a clean sheet. The "used" paper gets photographed and then rolled up to appear later in collages, to be made into envelopes, or whatever.

The lower picture is one I took in Anacortes. It was grungy to begin with and I added a bit more for mood and mystery.

Both have been uploaded to Fine Art America. We shall see.

 ©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.



Latest work: "Blue Eclipse"

This is the other image that came together for me early yesterday morning. It's a montage of waxed paper, kraft paper, ink-stained papers, and a locker tag.

I like how the ink seeped upward along the "tree line," making the image look like a landscape of sorts.

©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, August 9, 2017

Latest work: "Undercurrents"

This has been a work in progress for about five months and this morning it all came together. Actually, two came together this morning. It pays to get up early!

©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, August 8, 2017

Morning coffee

Still can't figure out what birds we have nesting out front. They look almost small flycatcher-ish, but they don't fit the descriptions I'm seeing in my bird books. I am befuddled. Which in Japanese is 混乱し, but I don't know how to pronounce that . . .

It's been a very long day.

 ©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, August 7, 2017

Morning coffee ... with chicks


Coffee on the deck, where Saratoga Passage (in the distance) is fogged in. Look how brown the grass is! Luckily it all comes back beginning sometime in September.

I hear one juvenile great horned owl, the one who shrieks. The other, as yet unheard today, makes sounds reminiscent of escaping steam. The rooster, off to the south, crows constantly. Wish he and the owls would get acquainted... Not really. And yet . . .

The chicks are five days old today. Overall fuzziness. Very cute. No parents at the nest, so I snuck out to quickly take a photo. I rushed my shot. Not good. And yet . . .

[Later this afternoon... Oh, man! I just saw my chick picture up close on my desktop computer and it's AWFUL! Am going to revisit it on my phone to see what happened. I softened the area surrounding the nest. Maybe I went too far. A different version now appears below. Better. Not great, but better.]

 ©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.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Morning coffee ... with Nicholas Wilton

This guy's so cool. He's a painter/educator based in Sausalito, California. And he produces (among a lot of other things) short videos talking primarily about painting. I'm not really a painter, but his concepts are so sound and so universal that I get a lot out of each video. Here's a link to his blog.

Wishing you all a cool, refreshing, serene Sunday. And I'm off to the studio to tear and glue more papers.

©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, August 5, 2017

Morning coffee

This mug, which says "Friends of Newport Bay," I got back in the mid-'80s. One of my favorite places to go take photos and to just walk around was the Back Bay in Newport Beach, California. And this mug brings back fond memories. I used to lead photo walks there, happy that I could show people places that, at the time, were relatively hidden and unknown.

©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.

Chicks have hatched . . .

I've been watching the eggs in a nest built right outside our front door for some time. Eggs barely larger than jellybeans.

Those tiny eggs hatched two days ago and it's amazing how HUGE the birds have gotten!

What kind of birds are they? I think they are warblers of some sort. The parents are very fast, very skittish, and hide in the shrubbery. I'm the sort who wants to know what they are, but I'm making peace with this little bit of ambiguity for now.

When I saw the adult bird was off the nest yesterday, I quickly moved in, hovered the iPhone above the nest, and took a few shots shooting straight down. I felt guilty doing it, so I shot as fast as I could and then quickly departed the premises. We have resigned ourselves to using the front door as little as possible, entering and exiting from the garage instead.

It's going to be a tough couple of weeks for the adults, feeding three hungry mouths all the time. How lucky we are so close to all this activity!

©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, August 4, 2017

Summer flowers



Home Depot is a great place to buy, say, a broom, plastic trash bags, and paper towels. So while Chris is getting all that stuff gathered up, I'm over in the garden section with my iPhone, looking for potential photos.

The friendly folks there don't mind my taking pictures, which makes the shooting much more relaxed. (I've been known to have a friend cough loudly to disguise shutter clicks. I'm not proud of it. And hope to never do it again.)

What's also nice is that the flowers aren't on the ground; they're up higher so you can shoot AT them or from slightly above with little trouble.

Here are the three I came home with, flowers that tell me it's the heart of summer. Get 'em while it's hot!

Oh, and the mystery bird that's nesting outside the front door has one hatched chick in the nest. Hatched today! Two more eggs to go. Just wish I knew exactly what kind of bird it is ... I was thinking wren, but not certain right now.

©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.

Morning coffee

Coffee out on the deck, which isn't as pleasant as it sounds. There's still a lot of smoke in the air. It's warm (for us) at 70 degrees already. And the back yard, for the most part, looks like a hay field -- very light brown and crunchy. The entire island is under a fire watch. No rain in sight for the next nine days at least. Very unusual.

Think I'll spend the day deleting photographs and working in the studio -- which is probably the coolest place in the house today.

Wishing you all clear skies and refreshing breezes.

©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.

Latest work: "Crow Walking the Line"

My Drobo is full again. So I'm going through my photo files and getting rid of all the extra stuff I don't really need. It's tedious, but the fun thing is that I'm coming across pictures I'd forgotten about, such as this crow walking along a very thick mooring line in Newport, Oregon. There are boats behind him and beautiful bokeh glints of sunlight on the water.

And then I found a picture I'd taken of a weathered old buoy. I grunged it up some and included it here. I like the warmish combination of blue and brown colors.

I also like how sharp the crow is, how I can see the hairs under his chin, as well as the sunflower seed he has in his beak.

Apparently it pays to clean house every once in a while . . .

©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, August 3, 2017

Morning coffee

Well, this picture is more about the ketchup, I am sorry to say. We headed off to Home Depot early this morning, stopped at a coffee shop for breakfast. Typical coffee shop ambience.

There was a bat crawling across our driveway as we left. I wanted to photograph him, but no, probably quite sick. He was huddled against our garage door when we returned, soon to be nudged into a dustpan and relocated to the woods, where I hope he recovers and lives to devour another 500,000 bugs. Tonight.

"Our" bats regularly appear at twilight, and Abby and I stand at the window screen and watch them zoom past, often so close we can hear the slight "whiff" of their wings. Small pleasures.

©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, August 2, 2017

Morning coffee

Coffee and a little Moleskine book where, as I'm assembling a large, handmade book, I glue in bits and pieces of what I'm including in the larger book, as well as experiments I've done using inks, stains, water, glue, rubber stamps, etc.

By the end of the big book, this little Moleskine book will be bursting with interesting, unrelated papers and colors. And with my luck, it'll probably end up much better than the real book I'm making!

Smoke from Canadian fires is wafting its way south to us here in the Puget Sound. Kind of a nasty overall haze going on. Air quality alerts have been issued.

We've also not gotten much rain at all, and there are burn bans island-wide. No campfires, no nothing. The lawn is like straw, and crackles when you walk on it. The birds are loving the birdbath, and the robins come in and just seem to marinate in the water. A smaller bird flies in, sees the robin, thinks, "Oh, man, is he still there?" and immediately flies off.

Two large dragonflies have died -- one in the garage, and one on the sidewalk out front -- and are now safely ensconced here in the office waiting for me to photograph and/or scan them. The second one I thought maybe was still alive, moving across the cement. Had to play tug-of-war with an ant who was dragging him away. The ant put up a heck of a fight. And it was interesting to see him circle around, frantically looking for his disappeared food supply. "It was just here! What the . . . I swear, I just saw it and it disappeared into thin air! What am I going to tell the kids? Sorry, but no dinner for awhile?"

©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, August 1, 2017

New project: Morning Coffee




Don't you just hate when you visit a blog and the first part is one big old apology for not having posted anything in like forever? Me, too. So this isn't that.

What this IS is that I've been thinking about something I could post that wouldn't take much time, that I could do every day, and might be interesting for both me and you.

One thing that's part of my routine is an early breakfast (with coffee) where I read (foolishly) the news of the day on my iPad, and/or write stuff in my "idea book," or do a crossword puzzle, or whatever.

I try to begin the morning quietly and softly (well, except for all the sighing and eye-rolling that accompanies the news) as I drink my cup of coffee.

So why not take an iPhone shot every day of my coffee/cup either right where I'm sitting (which might be the couch, or at the table, or out on the deck) and see what I come up with.

I process these shots using Snapseed in the camera, put my name on them, frame them, and they're ready to go -- all without having to go downstairs to the desktop computer.

I'm liking the selective focus look, especially when I'm photographing the coffee cup next to my "idea book," where some of my ideas are so stupid I don't want anyone to see them! Using selective focus, I can just blur them out.

Here are my first four images, beginning with July 29, where I was sitting on the couch, using a tray for the coffee, and where I had set down my "avoidance book" just because the more it's handled, the better it feels. So I have it with me a lot.

(It's an "avoidance book" because I was stuck working on my Kyoto book. To fool myself that I wasn't being lazy or procrastinating, I made this little accordion-style book that has pockets where I put tags. It was a fun project and I want to make more. I'm back to the Kyoto book now, so don't need an "avoidance book" to keep me going. For the moment.)

The second photo shows the coffee cup with my little carry-around always Moleskine book (blurred so you can't read my "to-do" lists, quotes that I've found and want to keep, and other trivia). Thought I'd use a page on my iPad showing my work at Fine Art America as a background. The picture looks contrived to me now. And it was. But there you have it.

Third photo is self-explanatory.

This morning's photo was taken at the dining room table, where I set the coffee on top of my "idea book," a larger Moleskine book where I've been keeping ideas for YEARS. None of them are dated; the ideas are stuck in randomly, wherever there's room on a page, and I don't go through the ideas often enough. There are a fair number in there where I read them today and don't know what the hell I was talking about back then. And so I'll update them with a hastily scribbled "what the . . .?"

So there you go. I'm up to date and I'm hoping this project will continue for awhile until I (with my ever-shortening attention span), find something else I think is a great idea . . .

[These are probably also going to appear now and then on Instagram and Facebook, so if you see a coffee cup in your feed, just ignore that post. Go read about the presidency instead . . .]

©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 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.