Monday, January 30, 2012

As seen on TV . . .

Well, why not? If you're watching figure skating, and there's a camera at hand, it's a no-brainer. So that's what I did. I set my camera for manual focus and purposely threw the image a bit out of focus. Set the camera for black and white. And, sitting back in the comfort of my chair, focused on the television screen and waited.

There's a LOT of waiting involved because you're at the mercy of the TV camera crew and how they are framing the shot. You're waiting for the skater to do something that makes a strong silhouette. And you're waiting for the skater to be in front of a clean and simple background. Since the backgrounds usually contain huge ads, with words that say SMUCKER'S or AT&T, you wait for the overhead shot looking down-ice, or when the skater zooms past the scorer's table.

There are a lot of wasted pixels, too. The skater goes into a spin, you take your photo, you realize his head is completely missing, or his upraised arm blends into the dark background crowd (except for the one nimrod wearing a BRIGHT WHITE jacket), or the skater's leg is going off at a bizarre angle.

But every once in awhile something good happens and the skater looks clean and dramatic against a plain and simple background. In these five photos, I had to do a fair amount of cropping to get rid of extraneous elements (such as the NBC logo!). I also added texture (a photo of the sun and clouds reflected on wet sand) to the images to create a spotlight effect (if the skater is in a competition, all the lights are on, not the moody spotlighting you see in a televised ice show).

Here are some of the better shots I've taken lately. I'm not a REAL people photographer, I just play one on TV . . .

©Carol Leigh, practicing armchair sports photography

Friday, January 27, 2012

Maybe life IS a bench...

These three benches are brought to you by the (1) city of Eugene, Oregon, (2) Kalispell, Montana, and (3) Astoria, Oregon. The bench in Kalispell had something (don't remember what) very unbenchlike on the right side of it, so I just photographed the left side, copied it, then flipped it to create a (very symmetrical) whole bench. Love the shadows!

The weekend's coming up. Get up, get out, take a look around, but also take the time to just sit and watch and contemplate.

©Carol Leigh, who has spent way too much time sitting this winter, but who knows a good bench when she sees one ...

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

"M" is for "Monday"

Monday was a day of actual sunshine, so, not unlike prairie dogs popping out of burrows, we hustled outside just to be outside. Walking along the docks at the fishing boats, I noticed the letters on the bow of the fishing vessel "Ms. Law." A voice behind me said, "Why are you photographing that boat when this one is so much better?" I looked over and the "Tana C" was, indeed, quite handsome. "But your boat doesn't have these cool letters!" He looked, smiled, and agreed.

Not content to leave my "M" photo well enough alone, I added some metal, some paper texture, some scratched paint from another boat down in Charleston, and came up with this. It has a kind of Monet-ish look to it (the colors, the reflective "glints," etc.) that I find appealing.

©Carol Leigh, remembering a Monday morning "M"

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Now on Flickr . . .

I'm finding Flickr to be a convenient way of creating little galleries of my work and so far I've got 9 "sets" of photos up: Buoys, Car Art, Train Art, High Key, Urban Abstracts, Polaroid, Route 66, and Numbers. Here's the link:

It took a little time to understand the format, but basically the photos show up in a stream as you post them, most recent first, but off to the right you can see the different sets, which makes it easier. When I visit someone else's Flickr site, I now just automatically glance at the most recent images and then look over to see what sets or galleries the photographer has created.

Looking for a source of inspiration? Flickr's a good place to peruse and to charge your visual batteries.

©Carol Leigh, being pulled, kicking and screaming, into Flckr, Facebook, Google+, and who now needs even MORE time in the day...

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Chinese lanterns

These have been sitting in my living room since September, when Janet and Ira G. gave them to me. I love how they splay out, how they don't need water, and how some of them have grown pale over time. I cannot bring myself to throw them out or put them somewhere else because they're gorgeous and make me happy when I see them.

Last week I noticed how window light coming through the blue bottle created a pretty shadow on the wall, so took a few photos. (Gotta be quick -- sunlight doesn't last very long around here lately.) I added texture to make the wall more interesting and created this. Which also makes me happy!

©Carol Leigh, finding happiness in small things like orange Chinese lanterns and brief interludes of sunlight

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Friday, January 20, 2012

Point of Impact

I transformed a photo taken at Fort Stevens in Astoria last year to create this rather ominous-looking image. I like the boldness and the simplicity and the texture of it. The monochromatic look, too.

Wednesday we had 4.7" of rain; yesterday we had another 2.3". Things are calming down -- winds are subsiding and rain is down to a heavy mist. We put out extra seed for the birds; I saw the most drenched, forlorn-looking mourning dove yesterday. Don't know how they withstand weather like this. A couple hours ago I said to Chris, "Do you hear that?" He said, "What is it?" Me: "Absolutely nothing." Ahhh, the sound of no wind. Music to my ears.

©Carol Leigh, enjoying the sounds of silence

Thursday, January 19, 2012

It's the constant noise ...

The storm here in the Pacific Northwest continues. We've been lucky not to have had a loss of power, loss of shingles, loss of trees. Others haven't been so fortunate. Winds have been as strong as 60, 70, 80, 100 mph (up at Cape Foulweather). Strong winds blew a big truck into another vehicle on the Yaquina Bay Bridge, closing the bridge for at least four hours. Yesterday's rain total? 4.65 inches. Yikes! This is the worst storm we've experienced in our nine years of living here.

What's getting to me is the unrelenting noise of the wind and rain. There's no respite, no quick little break in the weather where things become peaceful, even for a few minutes. Instead there's this constant howling, constant inability to even look outside clearly due to sheets of rain on the windows. It's like living in a car wash!

But we're warm and cozy here inside. We have oatmeal, coffee, and tuna noodle casserole (!). I've shut down the big computer just in case of wacko power fluctuations, but still can use this little laptop, the iPad, and even the phone to stay in Internet contact. We have no complaints. Just wish the noise would subside, even for just five minutes.

©Carol Leigh, wishing everyone calm, peace, and gentle breezes today

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Weird but fun...

Okay, I know this is weird... It required a very old National Geographic magazine and Citra Solv® orange-scented cleaner. The process is that you open up the magazine, find pages that appeal to you, and spritz them with Citra Solv®. You close up the magazine, mooshing the pages together. About 15 minutes later you begin opening the pages. The inks have run, pages have stuck together, and the results are often bizarre, abstract, weird, and fascinating. Sometimes the photos on the page are readily apparent (albeit altered) and sometimes they're completely obscured.

In this case, the face was partly obscured. I photographed the altered magazine page and then added a texture layer to muck up the image even more than it was. To me it now looks like a woman peering through a window, perhaps through a sheer curtain, on a train, at night. Fun stuff!

©Carol Leigh, who has a brain exploding with artistic possibilities and a kitchen that smells overmuch like oranges...

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Deer Abby . . .

This afternoon Abby was making a lot of noise, staring out the window at the back yard. I took a look and saw, chewing on I don't know what, a female and a male black-tailed deer. The buck looked like this photo that I took in 2009, only bigger. (For a photo of the cat and the deer and the story, here's the link.)

Whenever Chris and I go out into the yard to scare away the deer, they look at us like we're idiots (no comment, please) and continue munching away. Well, this time I put the harness and the leash on Abby and opened the door. It was raining a bit, but Abby walked out a couple of feet onto the deck and the deer took one look at her and took off! Last we saw, the deer were about 100 yards down the street heading south. Abby shook the water off her fur and came back in, smug look on her face and a swagger in her step. ©Carol Leigh, unleashing cat power on unsuspecting overly large shrub-destroying rodents.

What do you see?

A few months ago Chris and I went to a local art gallery. The display was of incredibly delicate yet bold weavings. I asked permission to take close-ups of the details — not the entire weaving, just bits and pieces — and was kindly allowed to do so. Hoo ha! Because what I was seeing in the details looked to me like miniature abstract land/seascapes. A rain squall moved across the ocean, waves undulated past, and a headland stood out over a dark sea.

Remember the "art from art" photo walk I did in San Francisco where we extracted bits and pieces, created compositions from huge murals? Well, this is sort of the same thing on a smaller scale.

And isn't that what we're doing with photography in general? We see something, anything, and we extract, create, and present just a section of the whole, whether it's a photograph of Earth from outer space or the eye of a fly in an electron microscope. We've zoomed in on just a part of the whole with the eye of an artist. We see. We think "wow!" We compose. We calculate the light. We tweak our settings. And then we present that "wow" to whoever will be polite enough to look at what we did.

The woman in charge of the gallery that day was quite polite when I showed her my weaving "landscapes" in my viewfinder. Undoubtedly thought I was crazy, but she was very, very polite.

©Carol Leigh, hoping that today you look just a bit longer at something and find that "wow" . . .

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


In this piece I combined photos I'd taken of a crow, a stained Braille page from the New York Times, an ink spill in an old textbook, and (faintly) characters from an old Japanese book. I like how the ink stain balances the crow and how the "movement" in the ink flows left-right while the "movement" in the crow leads us from right to left.

You know what's weird? As lovely as the black and white beach photo was in the previous post, it's putting together something like this, that most people would not consider beautiful, that is so much more satisfying (to me). And challenging. On the beach I was appreciating and composing a scene. I identified what caught my eye and attempted to fill my frame with just that. In this case, with this image, I had no idea what I was going to make. I just began "building" the picture. One step led to another until I considered it "done."

Bear with me a second . . . Photographing the beach scene was a meaningful experience. The exhilaration of seeing the light and what it was doing, the mystery of the "ghost forest," the adrenaline rush of trying to find a clear viewpoint before the light disappeared — I won't forget that. Photographing an ink stain, some pieces of paper, and a silhouette of a bird cannot compare to photographing at the beach. But the quiet satisfaction of putting together those photos to create this piece, ah, unforgettable as well, but in a different way.

Obviously I didn't create the glory of the beach scene. I interpreted it. Here, I began with nothing, and created something.

It's 2:30 in the morning. I'm babbling. Don't know where I'm going with all this. Probably should just go back to bed!

©Carol Leigh, befuddled with the creative process but carrying on nevertheless . . .

Monday, January 9, 2012

Beautiful light

Gorgeous day here yesterday -- temps in the 50s and no wind -- so Chris and I took a drive up the coast to Pacific City, then headed back home. It was late in the day and the light was becoming quite directional. Near Neskowin, we could see sunlight shining through mist and so frantically tried to find a good vantage point to photograph it before it disappeared.

I took the top shot as soon as the car stopped and then made my way down to the beach where I saw the scene below. The forms in the distance are "ghost trees," a petrified forest of trees that are usually submerged. During the late afternoon low tide, however, there they were. The light changed quickly, and the scene gradually became somewhat ordinary.

Don't you just love these bits of photographic wonderment? And isn't it for exquisite moments like this that we continue our photographic explorations?

©Carol Leigh, who is not usually a landscape photographer except for yesterday afternoon

Sunday, January 8, 2012

From the Rolodex...

©Carol Leigh

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Red and Black

I photographed a cover of a watercolor journal and created two different photos of it which I then partially turned red. I also photographed a piece of Japanese rice paper with this beautiful calligraphy-ish wash of black ink that I got from Kathleen A. I love the strong yet graceful lines of the ink and how they add a certain delicacy to the bold red stripe. Chris gave me a Chinese "chop" signature stamp over a year ago. I stamped it onto white paper, photographed it, and then added it here. Does it really say Carol Leigh? I like to think so.

This is all quite easily created using Photoshop. If you'd like to take my Beginning Photomontage class to see how it's all done, the class begins Monday. Would love to see you there. ©Carol Leigh

Friday, January 6, 2012

Stars on trains

 I am addicted to photographing graffiti on train cars. With so many files to look at, I begin seeing patterns. And this is one: stars on trains. (Letters, numbers, faces, writings, arrows are some other patterns that are emerging. Fair warning.) Here are five examples of "stars."

Do you do the same thing? Do you find yourself returning to the same subject matter, finding new things in the familiar? Mailboxes is something we all seem to gravitate to. The color red. Reflections in windows. Reflections in water. Riffle through your own photographs and look for "collections" of subject matter. Ten good images built around one theme could become an interesting photo essay.

©Carol Leigh, currently awash in photographs, flotsam on a sea of pixels

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Black Geese

The components of this piece are: photos of old paper, hand-painted indigo paper, Japanese paper, old card stock, an old (1932) matchbox label from Belgium, a photo of splattered paint, and a photo of a card from the post office (the card they put in your post office box when you have a package that's too big and you have to go to the counter to pick it up). I. Love. This. Process. ©Carol Leigh, who is teaching an online class on how to do this beginning next week...

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Because I could . . .

This is a goofy shot, in keeping with my 2012 word "play." I combined a macro photo I took of bubbles in ice with a fish I photographed at the Oregon Coast Aquarium. Why not? Makes me smile. ©Carol Leigh, reminding you that you, too, can learn to combine a fish with bubbles in my upcoming Beginning Photomontage class (although why you would want to, I don't know!).