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

Saturday, November 10, 2012

This morning's sunrise ...

I looked out the kitchen window a few hours ago and saw these remarkable clouds out on the horizon, hovering over the ocean. Since there are electrical wires in the way when shooting through the window, I ran downstairs and outside to shoot from underneath the wires. Alas, then I can't include the ocean in the frame, but the clouds were the story! They were moving quickly north, but the puffy one lower right stuck around long enough to create a focal point of sorts before moving on and behind my neighbor's house.

Sunrise. If you don't pay attention, you just might miss it . . . ©Carol Leigh

Daily Dose of Fall #41

This is a combination of a handpainted canvas, circular rusty elements, trees photographed through the car window, and a flock of geese photographed here in Oregon. ©Carol Leigh

Friday, November 9, 2012

Garden Art

I photographed this birdhouse in a friend's garden last year. And right now my friend is probably thinking, "Hey, wait a minute, this looks familiar. Is this ... huh? ... what? That's MY birdhouse!" Well, yeah, it is.  :-)

©Carol Leigh

Daily Dose of Fall #40

Leaf found on my street after the rain. ©Carol Leigh

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Oregon fall = getting ready for crab season

This time of year along the Oregon coast means that folks are gathering, cleaning, repairing, repainting their crab pots and buoys for the upcoming Dungeness crab season, which usually begins around Thanksgiving. These bright red and orange buoys caught my eye the other day, gleaming in the overcast light, glowing against the darker background of stacks of pots.

And then you see a cute little black and white cat we met one year as she emerged from between crab pots.

If the weather's right and the crabs are filled out and the prices are acceptable to the local fisher people, we all may be enjoying fresh cracked crab in December. Save a bite for the kitty. ©Carol Leigh

Daily Dose of Fall #39

A pair of fallen aspen leaves nestles in the pine straw, up against a granite boulder. To sleep, perchance to dream of next year's new crop of leaves. ©Carol Leigh

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Daily Dose of Fall #38

Did I really say I'd do this "Daily Dose of Fall" for SIXTY days? What the heck was I thinking? Manohmanohman . . . And THIS post could have covered THREE of those days if I hadn't combined the images . . . I'm an idiot sometimes. But on I go!

These three were taken in one of my favorite October spots on earth: Half Moon Bay. Mounds of squashes abound, just begging to be photographed. So I did. ©Carol Leigh

Foggy morning in Newport

Chris had a dentist appointment early yesterday morning so I asked him to drop me off at the boats and then pick me up later. So while poor Chris was in the dentist chair, I was cruising the bayfront, enjoying the solitude, the cool air, and the boats. As the fishing vessel "Finn" moved away from the dock, I was attracted to how isolated the boat looked, removed from all the others, with just the jetty and the hills in the background.

One of my last photos of the morning was an overview of some boats moored near the processing facility, where pelicans and gulls hovered about, looking for tender fishy morsels. I especially like the way the Yaquina Bay Bridge can barely be seen through the fog. An early morning hour well spent. ©Carol Leigh

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Daily Dose of Fall #37

It wasn't raining yesterday morning so we took a quick little drive up the Alsea River to see if there was any color left in the trees. As you can see, there's not a whole lot, but the light was lovely and the landscape beautiful. Gotta love fall. ©Carol Leigh

Monday, November 5, 2012

Daily Dose of Fall #36

These are painterly representations of photographs I took a few weeks ago near Lake Tahoe. I used a variety of techniques, but what I'm especially fond of is how I created the look of fluttering, falling leaves in the air. Available at Fine Art America here:
©Carol Leigh

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Thinking of Ms. T.

Was photographing up in Newport this afternoon and saw a fishing boat called "Judy." The stern was reflected in the water (backwards and upside-down, of course), but thought of you, Judy, and shot it, flipped it, and here you are! ©Carol Leigh

Daily Dose of Fall #35

Rhododendron leaves way past their summertime peak. I dried them, then placed them atop paper that I'd hand-painted. I like the overall nice warm fall look. ©Carol Leigh