Saturday, December 29, 2012

Lack of resolution . . .

Don't know about you, but this time of year makes me crazy. In the past, I would read countless art and photography blogs that practically SANG about what these incredibly talented people accomplished THIS year as well as all the things they plan to accomplish NEXT year. How many shows they participated in, how many pictures they uploaded to stock agencies, how many handmade art journals they produced, what new techniques they learned, etc., along with where they're going next year, what their plans are to perfect their technique of printing photographs onto faux fur, how many more shows they'll be participating in, and how taking ONE photo a day just isn't enough -- their goal now is to post TWO photos a day because, you know, ANYbody can take ONE decent photo a day...

So if you're feeling marginal about yourself, that maybe you're not doing enough in your life, that you should be doing more, more, more, reading these celebratory blogs will push you over the edge into a pit of self-doubt, guilt, and futility.

My solution this year: DO NOT READ THOSE BLOGS! If you're reading along and the person begins making lists, immediately stop, mark the blog as "read," and move on. We do NOT need this pressure. We do NOT need to compare ourselves to these perfect, multi-talented beings.

Life is short. Stop reading and fretting about what others are doing and walk your own path at your own pace.

Gotta go now to meet up with my tai chi/book club/tea drinking/boat refinishing group...

©Carol Leigh

P.S. Something else that's driving me crazy? Windows 8. On a new laptop. Where the copyright symbol used to be created by pressing ALT then typing 0169. No longer. NOW it's pressing the function key AND the ALT key and then typing 0169. I could have taken THREE decent photos in the time it took for me to research this ...

Friday, December 28, 2012

Crabbing season begins at last

Crabbing season began just after midnight this morning and I could see the lights of at least eight crabbing boats on the horizon when I looked out the kitchen window. It's good to see them finally out there. This season began a month later than usual because the crabs hadn't filled out enough by Thanksgiving. So Christmas for the fishing community is just now going to begin for these folks.

Yesterday we made a quick turn around the docks to see the boats all loaded up with crabpots. Deckhands were making sure the stacks of pots were completely secure, as you can see in the first photo. The F/V Norska sits patiently waiting for midnight, along with hundreds of other boats along the bayfront.

I liked the bright red color of one boat's hull and the contrast of smooth metal and the multi-textured crab pots above.

And then there's a guy looking for a deckhand job who posted a resume at the top of the gangplank leading down to the docks. He says, in part, "I am the man you want on your deck. I have been crewing for vessels big and small now for several years ... I am a simple family oriented man who is looking for a solid reliable local crab job so that I can start investing in the more important things opposed to being gone in Alaska for months at a time. I am all I say I am and nothing else. I am easy going ... but I won't abide working with slosh drunks, tweakers, or screaming fools. Just a good hand looking for a good boat and crew, to make the most of this years Season..."

I hope he found a job.

©Carol Leigh

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Abby brings in the moolah!

When we brought Abby home that fateful day (July 26, 2004), she immediately checked out the whole house, zoomed around everywhere, and then promptly fell asleep behind the back cushion of our couch, where I took her photo. I sent the picture off to Alamy, who licensed it two days ago (Christmas Eve) to a calendar company in the U.K. It used to be that one received decent money for calendar sales, but not of late. Abby brought in $62.63 for this little project.

Two other photos of Abby have also sold over the years, making her total contribution to our family income $146. Yes, this stock photography gig IS proving to be the grand retirement plan we anticipated!  :-)

©Carol Leigh

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you happiness, love, health, wealth, peace, and calm . . .

©Carol Leigh

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Send in the Clones

Something kind of weird and different from me, and just for fun. The face is part of a mermaid on a fishing boat that I photographed. ©Carol Leigh

Friday, December 21, 2012

Created with photos of paint and cement. Featured on Fine Art America. ©Carol Leigh

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

San Diego Botanic Garden in Encinitas

It's difficult for me to remember that this is no longer Quail Botanic Garden, that it's now San Diego Botanic Garden. No matter the name, the place is still as wonderful as I remember it. I used to lead photo walks here back in the olden days . . .

The key is to be there on a foggy day with very soft light. Alas, we were there in bright sunlight last week (I and a bunch of other photo friends). Given the light I was faced with, I concentrated on backlit banana plants, light and shadow on a century plant, and the golden glow of sunlight in the bamboo garden. If I lived closer, I think I'd be there all the time.

It was a good morning. Good photography. Good friends. ©Carol Leigh

Sherman Gardens

I enjoyed visiting old haunts such as Sherman Gardens in Corona del Mar, CA. I used to go there all the time to practice my photography. One of my first photo sales (to Leanin' Tree greeting card company) was a photo of clivia, shot at the gardens. My smaller framed photos of roses and fuchsias were featured in the garden's gift shop for awhile.

The gardens are still the same (except for the restaurant that has taken the place of the little tea garden). The rock garden is more extensive and intriguing (filled with succulents). Iceland poppies still grow around the fountain, where this day all the bees were attracted to just the yellow poppies. And the little hothouse was still packed with humidity-loving ferns and bromeliads. The koi seemed much bigger (well, they've had at least 25 years to grow!).

And admission is still just $3. Way too little for such a special place.

©Carol Leigh

Monday, December 17, 2012

A few from the Balboa Peninsula . . .

Old, faded aloha shirt in shop window, Balboa Peninsula, Newport Beach, CA
Feathery waves at 1/10 second from the pier.
Fun Zone Window, Balboa Peninsula, Newport Beach, CA
Yes! I could see Catalina!
Late afternoon, Balboa Peninsula, Newport Beach, CA

Sunday, December 16, 2012

We three chairs . . .

Don't know why I was attracted to these chairs, sitting outside a restaurant in San Juan Capistrano. So many lines: the criss-cross lines of the lattice, the stripes on the chairs, the lines between the bricks. Complementary colors: orange bricks and blue walls. The textures, too, are interesting (to me). ©Carol Leigh

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Still down for the count...

Hope to be feeling better and posting by Monday...

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Thursday, November 29, 2012

First issue of "VisuaLeigh" now available

The very first issue of "VisuaLeigh" is out and about. Here's the table of contents for your perusal. The e-Zine is all about composition, line, design, and seeing. Here's the link to my online store if you care to have this issue downloaded to your computer for just $5.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Empty calories

Within and without Photoshop, there are a lot of ways to tweak one's photos. And a lot of photographers are doing it, including me. By simply adding a texture, pressing a button, selecting a filter, we can change the look of our images instantaneously, easily, and (often) mindlessly.

Here you see two different versions of the same photo. The first one, the red one, is the original. It's a photo of a sign on a red door at the Waldport Marina. I was drawn to the red color and the rustic look of the fish and the lettering. I photographed it a year ago — November 24, 2011.

This morning, I wondered what I could do with it. I wanted to make the fish a bit grungier, so that its texture would be lighter and brighter and would stand out more against the dark red background. But I got distracted. I instead went into Topaz Adjust to see what different overall looks I could give the photo. I selected an effect I never use, which was one of the "solarized dreams" effects.

I liked the way the color turned turquoise at the bottom, how the texture on the door really stood out, how the texture on the fish came forward, and how the letters turned from white to black. All I did was click the button for the effect. I played with the sliders a bit to see what else I could do, but ended up doing nothing more.

In my eyes, the resulting image is fine. It's fun. It's colorful. But it's not very rewarding to me. And I began wondering why. I think it's because my tweaking the photo was really a mindless act. All I did was wonder what would happen if I clicked a certain effect. Yup, that's cool. Now what? There's nothing of me in this photo. There's no real artistry here.

Quite often, when I create a photomontage, there's this solid "knowing," a knowing that something is unique, different, composed well, and makes me feel proud. Do you feel the same way about your work? Do you solidly know when you've done something beyond the ordinary? And you solidly know that it was your talent, your knowledge, your hard work spent learning your camera, your software,  that led you to a fantastic result?

Marianne takes a glorious photo of a butterfly and she knows it's the result of years of daily practice, constant research, as well as a highly developed eye that led her to be in the right place at the right time in the right light with the right skills to create that photograph. Jim climbs a hillside to be in the right place at twilight to fill his frame with the city lights below. He knows his camera, knows how he can enhance that glorious cobalt color, and knows he's created something more than terrific. And I photograph a piece of metal embedded in a sidewalk, knowing that later on that bit of metal will become a headland in a final image that may look like a stormy seascape.

We all are trying to set ourselves apart as photographers, artists, painters, whatever. Unfortunately, I believe a lot of us are turning to "instant art," thinking that by pressing a button, clicking on an aging effect, or turning something that was red into something that's turquoise, yellow and orange (as I did above) we have instantly set ourselves apart from everyone else.

Speaking for myself, I just don't feel like an artist when I do that. So I don't consider my fish photo an artistic one. I clicked on an effect, framed the image, and hung it here in this blog. There was none of that "knowing" that I've gone beyond myself. There was no solid sense of having used an artistic eye. No solid sense that I've used my past learning and creativity to come up with this picture.

What's my point? As usual, I'm not sure. In my own work, I'm aware of empty calories. Effects that are fun at the time, but that in the long run just don't feed my artistic soul. So what about you and your own work? Do you get that solid "knowing" feeling when you've really worked to create something unique, something that shows how much you have practiced, learned, and experimented? Or is a lot of what you (and I) create simply empty calories? Fun, filling, but not very satisfactory in the long run?

©Carol Leigh, who now has a slight craving for a cookie...

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Friday, November 23, 2012

Meet-Up in Encinitas 12/10/2012

I'm going to be at the San Diego Botanic Garden (formerly Quail Botanic Garden) in Encinitas the morning of Monday, December 10, 2012. Any photographers in the area are more than welcome to join me as we just wander about the grounds.

This isn't a class, workshop, lecture, demonstration, or structured event at all, just a casual meet-up for like-minded photographers to get together, meet new people, reconnect with old acquaintances, etc. It's also fun for me as I get to put faces to names I've been connecting with online.

Here are the specifics:
Monday, December 10, 2012
San Diego Botanic Garden
230 Quail Gardens Drive, Encinitas
Located between Encinitas Boulevard and Leucadia Boulevard
Web address:

Garden hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
I'll be there from 9 a.m. to noon-ish.

Admission: $12 for adults; $8 for seniors
Parking: $2; four or more in your car and parking is free

Send me an e-mail if you're interested in joining us! carol at

Daily Dose of Fall #51, #52, and #54

Slowly getting caught up . . . A single leaf with colors of red and green stands out against an out-of-focus background at the Oregon Garden in Silverton. Then you see a lively photo of trees taken through a car window. And finally another single leaf, a dried cherry leaf, taken in my studio where I used a leather-covered algebra book in the background to create a natural look. ©Carol Leigh

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Feeling thankful ...

It's very rare that I fall ill, either with a cold or a flu bug. But when I do, it's in no half-assed way! Have been out of action all week, but feeling much better today, for which I'm thankful. Also thankful to Chris who takes such good care of me, and thankful to Abby, who pretty much left me alone except to occasionally sleep by my side. Wishing everyone a calm, peaceful, lovely day.

Daily Dose of Fall #53

Monday, November 19, 2012

Weather forecast . . .

We may have 90mph wind gusts today. Am shutting down! See you tomorrow. ©Carol Leigh

Industrial Intimacy

Playing around with compositional line and design. I like the combination of circles and straight lines in the top shot, and the repeating vertical patterns running horizontally across the frame in the bottom shot. ©Carol Leigh

Daily Dose of Fall #50

Maple leaf photographed along the Alsea River last week. Good thing we got out there when we did — 60mph winds and heavy rains are slamming our area now! ©Carol Leigh

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Daily Dose of Fall #49

Cute little scarecrows at the Oregon Garden. ©Carol Leigh

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Daily Dose of Fall #48

Same leaf as yesterday's, just processed a different way. I used a filter to create a coppery look in the first picture, and another filter to create a more dreamy look in the second. One leaf, numerous incarnations. ©Carol Leigh

Friday, November 16, 2012

Daily Dose of Fall #47

Same leaf, three different backgrounds. I know this can be done in Photoshop, but I did it the hard way, by suspending a leaf in front of me and then, during the longish exposure, frantically waving a scarf or a piece of paper behind the leaf. ©Carol Leigh

Thursday, November 15, 2012

New e-Zine! "VisuaLeigh"

My first issue of "VisuaLeigh" online magazine is out, subtitled "adventures in composition, seeing, and inspiration for photographers and visual artists of all types."

This issue runs 29 pages, in PDF format, and costs just $5.

Here's the table of contents:

Composition "Bones" - Gisela's Birdhouse
On Seeing: What I Saw/What I Made
What's It Made Of? Components of a Photomontage
Composition Anchor or Base - Bubbles
Composition Thought Process: Battery Point Lighthouse
Inspiration Picture for a Photomontage: Industrial Park
Composition "Bones" - Architectural Salvage Building

Composition "Bones" - Pumpkins at Half Moon Bay
Creativity: The "What If" Factor
Bad Photos and Why They're Bad: Leaf Edge and Blue VW Bug
Composition Symmetry vs. Asymmetry: Painted Lady
On Seeing: Expectations and Preconceptions in an Aspen Grove

You can order this first issue of "VisuaLeigh" at my online store here:;jsessionid=BCCC46CA5A43E96070E4792FCC670782.qscstrfrnt02?productId=74&categoryId=7 Once your order is processed, you can download the magazine right into your computer. Just $5 ... you can't go wrong!

Daily Dose of Fall #46

Found by the side of the road. What I especially like are the warm golden colors of the downed pine needles. ©Carol Leigh

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Daily Dose of Fall #45

Photographed from the window of a moving car. ©Carol Leigh

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Daily Dose of Fall #44

A single leaf signifying fall. ©Carol Leigh

The Primes of "Miss Berdie"

The fishing vessel "Miss Berdie" is big and beamy and painted a ferocious reddish-orange. If conditions are right, reflections in the water around the boat can be gorgeous to photograph. I always wish for a cormorant or grebe to swim into the scene, to appear to be gliding through a sea of red, but it's happened just a couple of times. In the meantime, there are all sorts of abstract images to fill my frame. And that's what happened here last week. ©Carol Leigh

Monday, November 12, 2012

Daily Dose of Fall #43

A pair of aspen leaves. Love the colors. ©Carol Leigh

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Daily Dose of Fall #42

Leaves on texture. Why three leaves? Rule of Thirds! :-)  ©Carol Leigh