Sunday, July 31, 2011

Approaching Dawn

Water droplets beaded up on a highly polished antique car form the "stars" in this piece, reminding me of that quiet time before dawn, when the stars are out but light is beginning to change on the horizon. A new day. A new beginning. ©Carol Leigh

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Last in the series

We spent two mornings exploring Fort Stevens State Park. I could have spent two weeks. Stripes appear on walls where rust has dripped down. Time, water, rust, and graffiti create patterns and textures on cement walls. Steps lead down into darkness. And by zooming in a bit tighter, I can create abstract compositions of lines and squares, rectangles and swoops. It was great. Just great. ©Carol Leigh

Friday, July 29, 2011

Hang on, hang on, hang on!

Who doesn't like a harbor cruise, right? Well... Fortunately or un-, I think I had the best time. And I got the wettest. Since the jet boat ride was pretty much my idea, I had no business complaining about being wet and cold and voiced the utmost sympathy to Chris and our two relatives about their discomfort.

We boarded the Osprey for our two-hour tour of the Willamette River, all the way to Willamette Falls. Imagine our surprise when we learned that the highlights of these jet boat rides are their 360-degree spins in the water! I was in the seat right next to the water. You do the math.

But anything that gives you a different view of a place, a way of seeing/photographing from an angle that you don't ordinarily see, well, it's worth getting wet. 75% of my group would disagree, but, well, what can I say?

For me the highlight was seeing the backs of really old, funky, grungy buildings. I would love to hire someone with a boat that could take me past s-l-o-w-l-y to fill my frame with patterns and textures and forms. But when the boat skipper yells, "Hang on! Hang on! Hang onnnnn!" it's time to cover the camera and hunker down as we go into yet another spin.

The falls were beautiful. The locks were interesting. Saw turkey vultures, cliff swallows, crows, a deer, and a bald eagle (plus nest). After lunch, we bid adieu to our relatives (who were probably pleased to see the last of us) and headed over to Astoria, to camp at Fort Stevens State Park and to do some photography I'd been wanting to do for a long, long time. More to follow . . . ©Carol Leigh

Mall photography

Early the following morning I walked over to a mall which isn't doing so well. Big, empty parking lots and a huge building that's being torn down — there's gotta be something here. An auto transport truck was being unloaded and I saw this beautiful vintage Chevrolet Impala, '60s vintage, off to one side. Overcast lighting was perfect for it.

Over at the building that was being torn down, I was drawn to the bluish color of the stone blocks and the starkness and grace of the tree contrasting against it.

And then a block of red and a balancing block of blue at another building enabled me to create an abstract image of sorts.

It pays to be up and about early to visit a seemingly nondescript location with a camera and an inquisitive eye. Breakfast, and then on to the jet boats! ©Carol Leigh

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Downtown Portland

We headed up to Portland to spend an evening and a following morning with relatives who were traveling through. But first a quick stop at Art Media in downtown Portland to check out their art supplies. Great place and the staff is (are?) helpful and generous. We had just one hour's worth of parking and a number of blocks to walk, not leaving me much time to shoot a few reflections coming and going. Being isolated on the coast, we've become country bumpkins of a sort, so this big city was quite exciting! I must return to spend many days just wandering around and shooting. More to come, including shopping mall photography, views from a jet boat, and abstracts from Fort Stevens. ©Carol Leigh

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Goofy shots

Bubbles on the inside of a water bottle fill my frame, and then I turned it into an orb. Same thing with the next two, with a shot of the bubbles up at the lid, and then the "orbification." Goofy but fun. ©Carol Leigh

Saturday, July 23, 2011

It looks really easy, but . . .

Creating a physical collage, which involves a hot iron, fusion material, gel medium, X-acto knives, scissors, and a lot of torn paper, is NOT as easy as one might think. Paper that should stick doesn't. Paper that you think you've placed perfectly vertical moves as you tack it down. Paper tears where you don't want it to, and doesn't tear where you think it should.

I have books about this. I've seen tutorials about this. I've watched how-to videos about this. "Oh, you just start ripping and tearing and gluing it down, don't overthink it." Well, sure, that works for THEM. Not (yet) for me. And I haven't even GOTTEN to the paint part!

But this piece? I love it. It's a photo of one part of a collage I made that's combined with another part and then tweaked in the computer. The red thing? That's a flat wooden bead. I just let part of it show, covered some of it with paper, and I think it looks terrific. The actual collage? The physical collage? Ick. Ick. And ick.

But I am not daunted. I KNOW I can be good at collage. I've got a decent eye for composition and design. I'm just too tentative with the process at the moment, assigning too much importance to every step. Thinking every piece of paper I have is way too precious to just glue and slap into place. And then when you add paint to the mix, well (gasp), what if I RUIN it?

As Frank Zappa said, "Shut up 'n' play yer guitar."
Right now I think one of my strings is missing . . . ©Carol Leigh

Friday, July 22, 2011

Linaria update

I knew that I'd posted some linaria photos here last year, so I went to take a look. Sheesh. I could have just recycled last year's shots! They were taken with the same 50mm f/1.8 lens and an extension tube. Here's the link:  Have I progressed in the past year? Not at all! This is really depressing . . .  Okay, tomorrow I'm getting out the fisheye lens and let's see how THAT goes! At least it will be different . . .

Thursday, July 21, 2011


Linaria, or toadflax, is blooming in my back yard. The lighting was high overcast this afternoon, so I took a 50mm lens and a 12mm extension tube, set the aperture at f/1.8, and proceeded to shoot. I was purposely going for extremely shallow depth of field, and it worked, but it sure made focusing difficult as the flowers swayed gently in the breeze. The look is soft, and I find it very appealing. So there you go. Something "normal" from me. Click to enlarge. ©Carol Leigh


Parts of a handmade journal given to me by a friend in San Diego and my own paint marks on a used teabag come together in this piece. Have I told you lately how much I love doing these? They're always a surprise, which is half the fun. Okay, maybe 75% of the fun. Okay, maybe . . .©Carol Leigh

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


This one's weird. I dried a teabag and painted part of it with thin black paint. I also photographed a bit of paper I used to clean my paintbrush and added it to the mix. I then added, lower right, my name in Chinese. The result has a Chinese look, appropriate for the concept of "tea." Click to enlarge. ©Carol Leigh

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A Golden Gate (not the bridge)

One of my students, Kathleen A., knows I'm interested in physical collage and generously sent me a package of papers she thought I'd like. Like? I love them!

But before I rip them, tear them, glue them, I selected out various bits and pieces and took a lot of photos, enabling me to put together this image.

Receiving such a wonderful package is a blessing and a curse. My brain is so full with photomontage possibilities, and now physical collage possibilities, that it's difficult to know which way to turn next. My solution, here at 3 in the morning, is to combine them. I'll shoot the paper, I'll make a montage, I'll glue the paper, make a collage, then shoot part of the collage to use in a montage, which ... well, you get the picture. And Kathleen A.? Thank you so much. I think. ©Carol Leigh

Monday, July 18, 2011

Preconceptions and Blinders

A photo friend was in town and so, of course, we went out to shoot, filling our frames with buoys, piles of fishing nets, cool texture, and antique cars. I walked the car show with a preconception, an idea I have for an upcoming "motivation" exercise/assignment.

Having a preconception is a blessing and a curse. While I walked the car show looking for material to illustrate my previsualized concept, she walked the show just looking and shooting. As a result yes, I got some of what I was looking for. But that concentrated visual focus prevented me from seeing something she saw.

There were painted yellow lines on the dark asphalt of the car show parking area. Those yellow lines reflected beautifully in the cars' paint. The reflections were pretty obvious and so I shot a number of images incorporating them, even though those weren't my preconceived ideas. I clicked and then continued on my quest.

These are two reflection shots that I'm mildly pleased with. But do you see the little streaks of yellow reflected in the chrome on the handle and the lock? In the chrome on the wheel cover? When I look closely, that's the beautiful surprise. I should have moved in and taken photos that really featured those streaks. Well, Diane saw those streaks and filled her frame with a silver mustang emblem that's full of cool, neon yellow streaks. It's a photo I would have loved to have taken.

There's a lesson here.

Preconceived photo ideas and our quest to achieve them are terrific. It's great to have goals. But beware of preconceptions that fill our brain to the extent that we become oblivious to other, outrageously cool, possibilities. It's all about looking, seeing, creating. I was hunting. Diane was looking. I wasn't seeing. ©Carol Leigh

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Take a seat . . .

Benches and chairs, all photographed in Santa Fe. The top image is weird. Because of the bench's placement, I couldn't photograph the right side of it, so I just shot the left side. In Photoshop I copied and flipped it and added it to the scene. Great shot? Nah. Fun? Yes. ©Carol Leigh

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Lake View

There are a lot of photographs contained within this piece, such as galvanized metal, an envelope, a shot of paper that I used to clean a paintbrush, a photo of a paint spill, torn paper, an ink spill on the cover of a book, and part of a previously-made photomontage, among other things, like a bingo card. It's crowded here in my head. ©Carol Leigh

Friday, July 15, 2011

Last call for the Oregon coast No. 5 of 5

What I love about photographing here on the Oregon coast is the variety. The light ranges from heavy overcast (okay, RAIN) to bright sunshine (freaks us all out) and the subject matter ranges from huge overviews from coastal bluffs to intimate little harbor scenes, from bright red buoys to the bright red feet of pigeon guillemots.

Our Oregon Coast Photo Exploration begins September 18th and ends around noon on the 21st. The registration fee is $560 per person; bring a non-photographing partner, spouse, friend, canine companion for free. Registration covers instruction throughout, critiques/feedback on your work, breakfast every morning, a group dinner, and general congeniality and camaraderie.

This workshop is limited to 8 photographers and we've got 6 signed up so far. Janet, Ira, Jim, Patty, Elena, and Russ are all part of the mix -- YOU would be the icing on the cake! To register, please visit my online store here or call me at (541) 563-3834. ©Carol Leigh

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Oregon Coast Photo Exploration No. 4 of 5

We have just two spaces left in this workshop that runs September 18-21, 2011. For all the details, check out the past three postings here on the blog. Fishing boats, sea life, miles of empty beaches — you'll love it. ©Carol Leigh