Frozen Bubbles

You know those exquisite wintertime close-up photos of ice crystals forming on bubbles as they freeze? These are not those. You are looking at the messy, interesting results of an attempt at such photos though.⁠⁠
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Despite being plenty cold, it has been too breezy outside for bubbles. I thought the sheltered and well-lit space of my uninsulated sunroom might be a better bet. I was able to blow lovely bubbles and drop them onto a small pile of snow, but the sunroom was, well, too sunny. It had warmed to an ambient temperature of a balmy -10C or so (compared to the -20 to -30C temps outside lately). -10C may not be not quite cold enough for dramatic crystal formations, despite what so many internet tutorials say. The bubbles did freeze, looking a bit like surreal, shattered crystal balls, and I found a few frames from this session that are interesting enough to share.⁠⁠
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I’ll keep trying, since this is one of those winter projects that is relatively simple and contained, and can be done while staying home…⁠⁠

For some more traditional winter photography, check out the Winter photo gallery in my Image Bank.

New Year’s Reflections | Transition to Momentum

My “best nine” from 2018 on Instagram

2018 was a year of big moves; from California to Regina, Saskatchewan in Canada, and then in the last week of the year, another move to Winnipeg, Manitoba. Moving homes is always an ordeal, but to move from one country to another, followed immediately by an unplanned (but much-welcomed) move to yet another city has been challenging to say the least.

My photography has continued throughout these many transitions, with the joy of learning a new camera (the Fuji x100F) and some incredibly photogenic travels to Barbados and Italy. There have also been priceless pockets of time filled by addressing organizational tasks on the administrative side of my photography business, which has set the stage for some big next steps.

2018 was an excellent opportunity for reflection; what do I want to ultimately accomplish with my photographs? Into which kind of photography would I most like to invest my time and energy? Starting from scratch in a new city, what are the obstacles and what will be the advantages?

After two decades of dabbling here and there, with some success in wedding photography, portraiture, and commercial work, my heart has led me back to where it all began; photography as a means of artistic expression and personal exploration. For photographers, it is often said that being a generalist can be a disadvantage. For years I have held onto the notion that I’d rather demonstrate my versatility and flexibility behind the camera, and I have been hesitant to commit to a niche or specialty. 2019 offers an opportunity for a fresh start as I realize (and accept) that perhaps the greatest opportunities will be found by focusing on the kind of imagery that I love the most.

My most popular image on Flickr in 2018 (and of all-time!)

Fine art photography, like most creative pursuits these days, is an incredibly difficult market to crack with ever-diminishing returns. It is a joy to share my photos here on the blog, with stories and behind-the-scenes details that can enrich the visual experience. On Instagram I focus on highlighting recent work alongside photographs from my archives, mixing artistic efforts with my particular flavour of travel photography and personal snapshots. On Facebook I offer a variety of content, and on Flickr I highlight my favourite and most powerful images. Sharing art so freely and widely is a wonderful aspect of our modern, tech-driven world, but by that same token, it has become more difficult in a crowded social media landscape to reach the audience that might purchase a print or two, thus helping to pay my bills and fund future photographic efforts. To that end, I have one simple wish for 2019…

If you like my work, please let me know! Feedback helps me to better understand what resonates and what could be improved, while comments and ‘likes’ can contribute to my reaching an even wider audience. If you love my work, please consider sharing some of it with others who might find it interesting. My greatest challenge is finding an audience, and I know firsthand that word-of-mouth is the best advertising there is.

My print collections have evolved to reflect the visual styles and subjects I most love.

I am still learning to embrace the idea of being an artist, and for those of you who are creatives on a similar path, I want to share my greatest insight of 2018: we all need advocates and supporters, in some ways even more than we need paying clients. This is not news, and is common modern-marketing knowledge, but as I have refined my workflows and invested in the foundation of my creative endeavours, I have become acutely aware that I too need the help of others in getting my work seen.

As we continue into 2019, I hope you’ll join me on any of the social media platforms you enjoy using. I have listed all of my accounts below; I promise never to spam your feed and I have no plans to embark on a sales-heavy promotional approach.

My creativity is driven by the desire to share the moments and details that I find to be particularly beautiful, bringing an extra bit of wonder and joy to others. My hope for 2019 is to continue building on the gradual momentum of 2018, find a sense of community and connection, and focus my energy on heartfelt work that enriches through both process and finished piece.

Ultimately, it will always be art for art’s sake, and for that experience I am forever grateful; thank you for letting me share it with you!

Digital Darkroom Notes | First Steps

Two weeks in Italy is a photographic dream come true – colorful, textural architecture, beautiful sunlight, gorgeous landscapes and coastal scenery. Several memory cards later, after the fun of exploring and photographing is done, the post-processing begins.

Without fail, it appears daunting at first, and over the years I’ve developed a few simple steps that will help with the digital darkroom workflow, making the overall project more manageable.

In my early Lightroom days, organizing photos was an afterthought, but as my archives grew it became imperative that initial sorting happen before editing began. It can be incredibly exciting to dive right into an edit, and occasionally I’ll allow myself the pleasure of a little preliminary editing of an image I’m particularly excited about, h, but for any larger project I try to stick to sorting first, editing after.

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With travel photography, creating collections based on accurate locations is an obvious choice, and in this case I am using a numbered structure to keep the collections in an accurate sequential order. Some of these collections will be refined further as I edit, and this flexibility is part of the beauty of using Lightroom to manage large collections of images.

My first pass through any batch, big or small, is simply to identify viable content and ‘flag’ it. This allows me to filter out the frames that are problematic and to quickly focus my editing attention on the frames that have the greatest potential. I have also flagged some frames that are merely for reference purposes – photos of signs, for example – as I will use those details to build accurate keywords and descriptions, and want those relevant frames to ‘float’ up through the editing process alongside the flagged images.

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Of 2347 total images captured in Italy, I have 1440 flagged. Around 50 of these are reference frames only. Another 100-150 are near-frames, which will require some editing and comparison before I can choose the best from those sequences. Another 50-100 images will be for personal use, shots of family mostly, and will not be included in the final edited batch uploaded to my website. So I am looking at a final edited total of roughly 1100 images, likely closer to 750, as I am constantly paring down my selections during the edit process, so that only the strongest images survive.

Now that these simple first few steps are complete, the work I have ahead of me doesn’t look quite so monumental. I can see that for some of the locations, the edits will be short and sweet, while others will require more time, and I can at-a-glance choose batches of photos for editing based on what kind of time I may have to spend in the digital darkroom on a particular day.

There are many tools and configurations offered by Lightroom and similar programs, to ease the process of organizing large batches of photos, and my workflow continues to evolve with experience. I have worked within the massive archives of other photographers, and managed digital assets in various commercial environments; I am always fascinated by the challenge of finding the organizational structure that best suits the ways in which different minds prefer to work. The biggest lesson over the years has been to pay attention to how my editing and end-use-requirements have changed, and to identify strategic ways of organizing my files, so that my workflow becomes entirely intuitive. What works for me may not work for others, but any approach to refining one’s own digital asset management can benefit from insight into how someone else has solved similar problems.

Now the real fun begins…

One Structure, Many Forms

Working through my archives, I recently spent some time processing a handful of cityscapes and architectural shots from a trip to San Francisco last year. These two images were shot on the same day, and depict different angles on the same windows and balconies of one building.

This image intrigued me, with looming rows of railings, the couple hidden in the shadows, and the layers of squared corners and circles at the top. The tone and texture of the building against the blue sky seems to add another layer of interest, as it is difficult to decide whether this building might be a modern experiment from years past, or some possibly futuristic structure.

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The second image frames one edge of the angular building in the heavy concrete of a foreground structure. I chose to work in black and white for this view, as the elements of interest are all caught up in the layered angles, and in the balance of light and shadow as the afternoon light settles across the skyline.

It is important for me to routinely challenge my eye with these comparisons, as it can take so little to bring an entirely new meaning to a photograph. Which interpretation of this building do you prefer?

one truck, two treatments

Both of these photos were shot in the same hour, in the late summer heat of an early October afternoon. Sunlight filtered through the dusty rows of a seemingly endless walnut orchard, and this decaying old pick-up truck was interesting from every angle.

The first image was an early attempt at creative lighting and a found object, with off-camera flash and gels. I can think of so many other ways to play with this concept alone…might have to explore more of this kind of work. The second shot is the view I enjoyed from my tent in the orchard.

late afternoon

Deep canyon landscape

Spent maybe a little too long this morning playing in the archives, but I couldn’t resist. This sunset desert landscape is a panorama stitched from three photos.  The sun had just slipped behind mountains to the west, and only the faintest glow remained, caught by the buildings of Boyd Deep Canyon research center and a sliver of the distant Salton Sea.  The colors of the desert rocks and varnish are always surprising, but something about the softer winter light and clearer air of December seems to bring out even more dramatic color across the mountains.

I will be posting a great deal of landscape photography this year.  It has always been a favorite subject area, and I have quite a collection of untouched images from last year’s travels.  Landscapes figure quite largely in who we are and what our lifestyles and cultures have become, and as I find it difficult to separate myself from my environment, I am looking forward to studying it further. That it can be so magically beautiful and glow with amazing colors is simply a bonus.

New horizons

Around the time one calendar year changes to the next, it is easy to become absorbed in reflecting on the recent past. In this case, 2011 flew by with alarming speed, and it is hard to believe that 2012 has already arrived. Rather than dwell on what has been, however, I am very excited by what is next. Many changes afoot for this blog and my photography – from new digital darkroom tricks to some incredible print collections and fine art offerings.

Last light, Big Sur

These two images, both shot on the same beach in Big Sur, are from a recent exploration of longer-exposure photography. Living on the coast affords me easy access to some spectacular coastlines awash in sunset colours and misty waves, and I hope to bring you more of these peaceful, scenic images in the coming months.

Big Sur, sunset

it’s a small world…

Perhaps it’s a result of having grown up a pilot’s daughter, but I have always adored the look of the world in miniature.  That we also had an N-gauge model train layout in the garage probably confirmed for me the surreal pleasure of a giant’s perspective across landscapes of small structures and tiny figures.

I know it is regarded by many as a fad mostly used by advertisers, but tilt-shift photography always satisfies that familiar childish joy of mine, because it allows our minds if only for a moment, to view the world as though it were made up of toys.

Beach scene, tilt-shift

Photography being a rather expensive endeavour, my dreams of a tilt-shift lens to fully explore this unusual perspective will have to wait.  Luckily there is the digital darkroom, and an online world full of photography tips and tilt-shift tricks.  Learning this new (and easy) workflow prompted me to attack my archives with something different in mind, and photos I might have passed over the first time have been given new life through the use of a different perspective.  I’m already thinking of the next scenes I’d like to try the tilt-shift effect on…