Sunday, January 30, 2011

Money needs laundering ...

You don't see how dirty paper money is until you photograph it with a macro lens. Fortunately it spends readily, no matter how filthy! ©Carol Leigh

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A welcome bit of sun

A welcome bit of sunshine and 70-degree temps in Florence, Oregon on Thursday. Alas, it's back to rain for a few days. Why can't it be sunny here during the day and then rain at night? Is that too much to ask? 

Apparently so. ©Carol Leigh

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Rooted in Red

©Carol Leigh

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Copper, steel, wood, paper, ink. Two versions: the original as a vertical, then cropped to a square. Preferences? ©Carol Leigh

Monday, January 24, 2011

Are we creating pretty pictures?

As I follow many artist blogs, I often come across statements, comments, essays that, although the writer is talking about painting, equally applies to us as photographers.

One of those artist blogs is written by Katharine A. Cartwright, an artist whose work I admire. Here's a link to her blog.

In her post dated January 10, 2011, she wrote:

Years ago, I became aware of the fact that I was only painting “pretty pictures.” There was no substance, no unique viewpoint, and no indication that I had anything important to add to the dialogue of art. This realization occurred during my first semester of studio painting in college three decades ago. The professor commented that my work was worthy of a department store and not much else. It was unoriginal and ordinary - vacuous. His comment was critically important to making me realize that I was a technician and not an artist. I had great painting technique – and that was all.

And it made me wonder. Are we creating pretty, but "vacuous," images? Postcards? Calendar art? Nothing wrong with postcards and calendars. Nothing wrong with incredible technique. Striking images. But are we taking our technique, combining it with thought and soul, and creating something beyond postcards and calendars?

Our challenge is that photography is so reality-based. We see something and we determine what to edit out of the frame. A painter sees a blank canvas and decides what to place into the frame. To move away from stark realism, a lot of us are experimenting with technique, with sweeps and swipes and Lensbabies and filters and post-processing blending and textures. We're seeing a lot of purposely un-pretty pictures: graffiti, dirt, peeling paint, grunge, weathered wood, and we're finding a lot of beauty there (well, some of us are!).

I'm not sure where I'm going with this. I appreciate superb technique. Perfect images. But sometimes, sometimes, perfection can be boring. Perfection can be soulless. Perfection can appear factory-produced. The difference between a piece of Fiestaware and piece of handmade pottery.

I still don't have a conclusion. Do we all need to go through a "perfection phase" before we can grow further? Do we even need to grow further? Is it enough to be content with the pretty pictures we're creating or do we strive for more? Each of us has his or her answer. What's yours?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Bird Guide: Crow

I found a little booklet at a flea market, a farmer's guide to helpful birds, all weathered and brown, which provided the base for this montage. I tore up one of my own photographic prints, photographed the torn edge, and added it to the mix. I included part of a sign, drew some lines of my own, added splotches and grunge, and I'm done. ©Carol Leigh

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Late afternoon on the beach

Around 3:00 I arrived at Seal Rock and began the hike south to see what I could find. There are a couple of creeks that flow across the sand to the sea and they were running pretty fast and deep (for creeks), the result of our heavy rains. Luckily with my boots my feet stayed dry, but my pants got soaked as I waded across, headed toward the rocks.

At one point, I was accompanied by a great blue heron. He watched as I walked past. I stopped to photograph some rocks, looked to see where he went, and he was just off to my left, again watching me. I moved on down the beach and so did he. It's like we were doing a little dance, working in tandem, each of us watching the other, but pretending not to. 

About a mile later, at the farthest southern section of the beach, where you can't go any farther, there's a little cave-like area where the seas surge in through a narrow opening. I set up my tripod and photographed one-second exposures of the moving water. Both of these were at f/22, ISO 100. (Yes, Gisela, I know you like knowing about that stuff!)

The light was beginning to change now, with the sky growing orange, and I began making my way back north, shooting as I went. I'm using a wide-angle lens and I'm shooting landscapes -- not exactly what I'm known for and not exactly what I'm comfortable with -- but I'm enjoying the process.

Now it's getting kind of dark and I still have a couple of creeks to cross before I get back to my car. I pick up the pace.

It's been a good three hours. Lots of walking. Lots of looking. Lots of beauty to be photographed. The beach is all mine -- no one else wanted to ford the creek. And my dance with my new pal, the great blue heron, was amazing.

Wishing you all golden sunsets, moving waters, and dances with herons. ©Carol Leigh

C's the day

My "26 in 26" alphabet group is working on the letter "C" this week, so when I saw this weathered sign with a "C" on it yesterday, I had to shoot it. The photo is made up of the "C," other letters from the same sign, black and red splotches, a grid from a calligraphic "C" I found in my files, and various textures. Apparently one cannot have enough texture! --Carol Leigh

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Stormy seas in Yachats

©Carol Leigh

118 minutes on the beach

Yesterday afternoon was low tide. It was a holiday. And it was NOT raining! So everyone popped out of their burrows like prairie dogs and the beach was relatively crowded — maybe 25 people in all. Most were scrabbling through all the pebbles and rocks, looking for agates. Chris and I headed north, admiring all the strange and wonderful rock formations the low tide revealed. I purposely took just one lens — a wide-angle — to force myself to take more overviews (which is tough for me). This makes it easier for you to see my environment, which was quite striking that afternoon. ©Carol Leigh

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Heavy as the weather

"Light as a feather, heavy as the weather." —Norah Jones

We've had 6.52 inches of rain so far this year, 5.2 of those inches this past week. Heavy weather, I look for something light to photograph.

I want it to stop raining, just for a day. ©Carol Leigh

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Orbs revisited

Diane Miller recently wrote an article about Photoshop actions and how it's very easy to create "orbs" when all you have to do is, once you've created the action, click a button. Her article appears on her website here.

Well, creating orbs can be addicting, so I thought I'd try doing a few more. And then I wondered what would happen if I ran the Photoshop orb action twice. Cool stuff ensued!

Here you see my original photo of colorful drinking straws. Then there's the photo of the orb. Then, with my original orb still on the screen, I ran the orb-creation action again. The third photo is the result.

So I tried it again, this time using a photo I took of a Slinky. You see the original shot and then you see the orb I created. I then ran the orb-creating action yet again, to get the photo you see at the bottom of the screen.

Curse you Thank you, Diane, for reminding me how much fun this all is! ©Carol Leigh

Friday, January 14, 2011

Still trying to clean out the studio ...

I find a cool little box and am wondering where to stash it when I think hmmmm, what if I put some acorns in one section, a shell in another, some old keys here, a marble there, and the next thing I know I've got string and weeds and shells and jars all over the place. Okay. I know and you know and I know that YOU know I'm not REALLY trying to clean this studio... It's just a huge excuse to be out there taking pictures. ©Carol Leigh

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Variations on a theme

This is a "B" that I created for my "Twenty-Six in Twenty-Six" online class. (By the way, have you seen what my students are creating? You can see their work here.) I then wondered, what if I were to make a sort of primitive "tapestry" using this same photo? The colors are rich, kind of African (not that I've been to Africa), and sort of tribal. So I enlarged the canvas, copied and flipped, and that's what you see in the second photo. And then, to create a different look, I simply rotated that second photo 90 degrees to create the third picture. Is any one better than the other? I don't think so.©Carol Leigh

The plan was to clean out the studio...

Every time I head out to the studio, determined to straighten things up, throw things away, I find something else to photograph, get immersed in that, and leave the area in even more disarray. I have a jar of sea urchin shells and the shells looked so cool all stacked up, that I took 'em out, re-stacked 'em, photographed 'em, and then put 'em back in the jar. Right next to the feathers I thought I wanted to shoot and the bag o' acorns I gathered this fall that I photographed the other day -- most unsuccessfully, I might add. The acorn shots are now digital waste. Maybe when I go out to clean up the studio tomorrow I'll try photographing them again... ©Carol Leigh

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Looking forward to spring

A lone egg in a nest, sort of a bittersweet feel, yet a symbol of hope, of new beginnings, of promise, the cycle of the seasons. Looking forward to spring, for a number of reasons. ©Carol Leigh

Monday, January 10, 2011

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Just after sunset

On our way home from Lincoln City this afternoon, we made a quick stop at the Moolack Beach parking area to watch clouds full of rain approaching the coast. There's a lighthouse out there as well as the light of a fishing boat, but probably too small for you to see. The first photo was taken at a focal length of 90mm; the second was taken at around 400mm. Very dramatic weather on the coast today, just lovely. ©Carol Leigh

Friday, January 7, 2011

A quick trip to the fishing boats

While running errands yesterday, we made a quick stop at the docks to see what was going on. Boats sat low in the water, full of crabs waiting to be offloaded, such as this boat, F/V Last Straw (not to be confused with the much smaller F/V Last Dance over on the other dock). A young dog stands watch aboard the M/V Raven, and then a copper bell hangs over the the wheelhouse windows on the turquoise blue F/V Kristin Gail. (Obviously, clear visibility isn't all that important when you're moored in port!) ©Carol Leigh

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

It's noisy in here

It's an overabundance of riches, the things there in the studio waiting for me to photograph. Leaves, feathers, sticks, a weird Japanese thingy, an old wooden box of glass slides that I haven't even begun to shoot (still working on the outside of the box), big letters, small letters, things I'm going to glue together to see how they look and then will subsequently photograph, plus all those thousands of shells I brought back from Florida. What the hell was I thinking?

And then there are urban landscapes to create, more rock studies, more for the southwestern series, galleries to contact (still keep changing my mind about all that -- lots of work, lots of financial outlay, not much money in it, but maybe, no, concentrate on other things, but still, my rock photos are rather unique, if not me, then someone else will and I'll kick myself for delaying, yet the return just doesn't seem to justify my ego...), eBooks to create, classes to conduct, etc.

How lucky I am to have so many options. That's what I keep telling myself. Yup, I'm very, very lucky. Meanwhile, my brain's clanging like a pachinko machine and won't shut the heck up. So I concentrate on a feather. Just one raggedy little feather I found on the beach and brought home. It's soft. It's quiet. Ommmmmmm... ©Carol Leigh

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Clock photomontage

I made a clock photomontage and sold the rights to use it to a movie company. They're using the montage to promote funding of the movie, not to promote the actual movie. If they want to continue using the image, we'll negotiate then.

Here's a short video they made that begins with my photomontage. They've altered it somewhat (which was agreed-to in our contract). Here's a link to my montage and then here's a link to the video they made so you can see what they did with it.

My original photomontage: <>

Video: <>

Just thought you might find this interesting.

Dorkiness reigns ...

I feel like such a dork, this middle-aged woman bending over, collecting leaves in a parking lot, clutching them to her as though they were treasures that dare not get away. But the dork factor diminishes once I bring the leaves home and photograph them. And then it disappears quietly as I move the leaves around, blending them with photos I've taken of cement walls. And there is more to come, more ideas of what to do with these leaves, what will be their next incarnation. It. Never. Ends. Hoo ha! ©Carol Leigh

"26 in 26" project has begun, photos posted

If you'd like to keep up with what my students are creating in my "26 Letters in 26 Weeks" photo project, you can see some of their work on a special blog I set up here. Want to join in on the fun? You can register here. --Carol Leigh

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Stormy seas

Late afternoon, no rain, big waves, so we headed down to Yachats. Beautiful. The waves were lined up and rolled in one after the other, big spray, lots of drama. It began raining. Very windy. Very cold. I mean, very cold! Even for me! But we stayed until after sunset, when I had to content myself with doing "sweeps" in the lower light. It was a good afternoon. Just ask Chris — he was the one staying warm in the car! ©Carol Leigh

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The "26 in 26" project begins today ...

My new "26 letters in 26 weeks" photo project begins today, and everybody is working right now on the letter "A."

As the photos begin coming in, I'll be posting some of them (and their stories) in a blog I've set up for the project. If you'd like to follow along, see what people are creating, perhaps gain some inspiration, here's the link to the blog.

And if you, too, would like to be part of the fun, part of the challenge, the registration fee is $62, and you can register here.

Wishing you a healthy, wealthy, happy, and creative 2011! This year, as every year, may your photos exceed your expectations! ©Carol Leigh