Can I Just Say…

When I see someone posting about being born in the late ’90s, knowing they are a functioning adult, my brain sort of cramps and I get a little twitch in the corner of my eye. OC was born in the late ’90s, so this kind of statement makes me feel incredibly old knowing I have a kid that technically falls into that same category. It really doesn’t help that Hubby just had a birthday and we were both cringing at the fact that he is only a year away from a half a century. Most days, my age isn’t a huge deal to me. It is just moments like this, when I’m forced to think in numbers rather than in feeling that I start to feel a little on the ancient side of things.

On an unrelated note, when I went to post the image for this, I was floored that it wasn’t in my images already. I could have sworn I’d posted this ages ago. Either way, here it is. It is something I did… back in the late ’90s, early ’00s for a college art class. We were supposed to reproduce a master’s work. I think I may have skirted the rules a bit as Jan van Eyck probably didn’t quite count (the teacher was really looking for recognizable pieces), but there was something crazily appealing about his self portrait that I couldn’t get out of my head. This is done in my favorite charcoal/eraser technique and is one of my favorite pieces even if it isn’t my best by a long shot. And no, it isn’t actually a cranky old hag even if it may look like one. The artist is a guy. Feel free to search his name if you want to compare my amateurish attempt. This portrait is one of the first in the results.

Cool Discovery!

In all the messing around and playing I’ve been doing (yes, around reading), I made a truly awesome discovery. I can draw on my new tablet using one of my absolute favorite drawing techniques. It is a little more work to get the base layer in place, but it is loads less messy and being able to undo something is absolutely amazing.

I downloaded a couple of different drawing apps just to play, but have found, so far, that I love the Adobe Sketch app. I’m still just messing around and trying to learn it all, but when I realized I can adjust the brushes and eraser settings just right I can do this really cool eraser technique. Normally, you would cover you page in a soft, medium shade charcoal then go back using your eraser to add highlights and darker or heavier layers of charcoal to add the deeper shades. This is already an extremely forgiving method of drawing, but when you add the undo… I think I’m in love.

I don’t do a ton of art digitally. Mostly because I find it cumbersome to actually draw on a computer, and drawing isn’t exactly the top of my artistic things to do, though I do really like it. When I got my tablet, I thought it would just be fun. Figuring out some really awesome ways to play with photos in the drawing app  made this really intriguing. Figuring this out? Um… when am I going to have time to do it all?! I WANT to do it all!

The image was just something to play with and isn’t anything in particular. I just wanted to see if I could do this. I rarely ever go the route of abstract, but… sometimes you just have to run with it.

I’m done playing for today and I’m off to try and finish one of the 4 ARCs I’ve got on my reading list. Time?! Psha! Who needs to actually sleep?

Dark Sky Viewing: Stars And The Milky Way

We had several goals for our trip to Wisconsin. Take a couple of hikes. Scout locations for both sunrise and sunset photos since we were on the peninsula and could easily get both. See the stars under a seriously dark sky. My part was seeing if I could pull off taking pictures of those stars. We went so far as to schedule our trip for the new moon time frame to ensure the darkest possible setting. I have to say that we lucked out epically in that we had two different nights of perfectly clear skies.

When we left, we needed to scout out locations for this, not knowing there was an actual designated dark sky viewing spot on the peninsula (because we apparently didn’t do quite enough research before leaving home). The first attempt, we found a small boat ramp that was really secluded. It was kind of eerie being there by ourselves in such dark conditions. I managed to get a couple of shots that weren’t great, but I got stars and the general “cloudy” effect you see in the milky way.

Before going out, I’d done some research for basic settings to get the effect I was hoping for, but I didn’t have the lens those instructions were based on so I had to do a lot of playing. My camera doesn’t allow for a set timer longer than 30 seconds and that is really what I needed here. For longer exposures, I needed to hold my shutter button, which caused quite a bit of shake (I was freezing and shivering, so it was nearly impossible not to get shake).

After we got back to where we were staying we decided to do a bit more research and found the dark sky viewing area in Newport State Park. Turns out it is one of only 48 parks in the world to earn International Dark Sky Park designation. Funny how we didn’t manage to see that fact until right before our last day in Door County. We debated going as it would be our last night and would require us staying out well past 10pm at minimum to get to see the really good stuff. We decided to check it out during the day as we didn’t have a ton scheduled and decide based on what we saw.

I am SO glad we did because I played with my settings a bit more and managed to get some mind blowing shots. They are far from perfect because I really don’t have the right equipment to do these the right way. But for it only being my second attempt ever at trying to take pictures of stars and the milky way, I’m kind of stunned at how well these turned out.

Milky Way Galaxy : Long Exposure
Milky Way Galaxy : Long Exposure

The image I used as the feature image in this post is one I took really early on, so there was still some faint light in the sky after sunset. That is what allowed me to get a bit more color in the shot that I couldn’t get with some of the later ones. The one above was taken closer to 10:30, which was still apparently not the ideal time, but we were under time constraints.

I was intimidated as all hell because the viewing area had probably half a dozen or better photographers set up. Being the rank armature I know I am at this made it even more so. Not that they would be seeing and critiquing me, but it was still intimidating. Especially when you see everyone with red lights instead of normal flashlights (so as not to mess with the photography). We got there early enough that flashlights weren’t needed, so we weren’t one of the ones that got shot the dirty looks and even a few comments when they came through with blindingly bright flashlights. FYI… Don’t take a flashlight to a dark sky viewing area.

It was so dark, though, I was worried I’d have someone run into me or my camera on their way down the path, so hubby put his flashlight in his pocket and turned it on whenever someone came close, giving off this really pale glow to warn oncoming traffic that someone was there. He played body blocker for me while I played with the stars and my camera. The kids sat on a bench behind us staring in awe at the sky between crazy teen goofing moments. I don’t think I want to know what anyone near them thought of us as parents because they were being off the charts goofy (not annoying or loud, just crazy goofy).

Milky Way Galaxy : Long Exposure - Straight Up View
Milky Way Galaxy : Long Exposure – Straight Up View

MC really wanted me to get some shots that weren’t at the horizon, so I attempted to make adjustments in the dark and shot upward. I had wanted the horizon and trees in my shots to give a sense of scale, but these were still interesting. They would have been much better if I’d taken them with a longer exposure, but I made sure I could get these shots in that 30 second window by really upping my film speed. Some of these were taken at 6400 and some were taken at 12800.

Milky Way Galaxy : Long Exposure - Straight Up View
Milky Way Galaxy : Long Exposure – Straight Up View

That high a film speed makes the images a lot more grainy than I’d like, but I still got the general effect, so I was thrilled. The two things that really made these so much harder to get better quality than I would have liked was that I needed a much wider angle lens and I really needed some sort of shutter trip wire that I could hold that would prevent me from shaking my camera at the longer exposure times. I don’t know that I’ll ever get another opportunity like this, but if I do, I’m going to seriously consider investing in those two pieces.

Even with these being on the blurry and grainy side, I’m massively proud that I was able to get these.

My Day: Uploading 90+ Photos

It took forever and I found that some of my images were actually too big (first time for everything) and I had to do some adjustments. That said, I’m now sitting at well over 400 images on my Pixels photo print site. Including all the stunning water shots I got the other day.

Drops Across the Water
Drops Across the Water

Playing with manipulating some of my photos was so much fun, I’ve now got a collection of “art” images that are photos I’ve played with. It is still a small grouping, but I intend to grow it over time.

Retro Film Shasta Daisy
Retro Film Shasta Daisy

As always, though, the majority of the images are macro shots of flowers, which continue to be my obsession because some of the most interesting and beautiful parts of the world are in the little details you have to get up close and personal with to see.

Purple Hydrangea Buds
Purple Hydrangea Buds

Painting Day

I’m finally getting around to doing something I promised BG a year ago or more. Painting her bathroom. I am so not looking forward to it because it is a small space with not a whole lot of solid wall. That means there is going to be a crap ton of up and down on the step ladder, crawling around on the floor, hugging a toilet and basically bending myself into a pretzel to get it done because it is almost all edges, hence the nearly a year to get around to doing what I said I would.

Hopefully I wont kill myself in the process and can actually get to writing that book review I need to do. So far, this summer has been a series of stuff to do and interruptions and sickies and weird, random allergy outbreaks on both BG’s part and mine. I am ready for things to get to some semblance of a normal summer routine, but I have a feeling that isn’t going to happen this year.

Original for the above manipulated image:

Cherry Blossoms
Cherry Blossoms

More Playing

I wanted to play again just to see if I could do another one that came out as cool as the first. I’m wondering if that first was a fluke or just the perfect image for what I did, because I haven’t been able to get another one to look nearly as good. I still prefer doing basic color adjustments like going with a desaturated look or to black and white. This one is more along the lines of the desaturated, but also with a sepia filter.

Here is the original.

Purple & Cream Iris
Purple & Cream Iris

Manipulated Rusty Iris

Normally I don’t touch my photos with the exception of a little adjustments on color or lighting if the image I take doesn’t come out quite on par with what I saw or a little cropping. Every once in a while, I’ll make one black and white or even just reduce the color saturation. Overall, though, I just don’t mess with them as I’m not a huge fan of artistic manipulations. Some are really cool, but it isn’t what I personally want out of my images.

That said, I felt like playing. The result is by no means super amazing, but I did think it was interesting. I love the grainy look and feel of really old photos as well as their sepia tones and this kind of has a similar feel. Like I said, this was just for fun and it came out interesting.

Here is the original.

Rain Kissed Rusty Iris
Rain Kissed Rusty Iris

Last Chance!

The sale and promo for any photo prints or my book ends this Sunday! Details below.

 

Original Post –

In honor of Mother’s Day, I’m running a sale on pretty much everything. Pricing for everything runs from Monday, April 29th thru Sunday May 12th. If you’ve ever considered grabbing something, but just weren’t certain, now’s the time to pick up my book or a photo print. Either to treat yourself or as a really unique gift. The book would be especially fitting for a Mother’s Day gift.

My book, An Unexpected Turn, is on sale. The ebook is regularly $4.99 and is on sale for $2.99. Paperback is regularly $11.99 and is on sale for $9.99 (Amazon will not show as sale price and will most likely show early). This price should apply to all platforms, so please drop me a note if for whatever reason it isn’t. It is available in all of these locations:

An Unexpected Turn Cover
An Unexpected Turn Cover

Amazon Kindle
Amazon Paperback
Barns & Noble/Nook
Kobo
Apple Books
Scribd
Playster

 

 

 

ALSO… On my photo print site, everything is 25% off. All prints, stationery and household products like tote bags, pillows and the random phone case. Everything is included, just use the discount code at check out.

Photography Discount Code: NMHZHV

 

Mother’s Day Sale!

In honor of Mother’s Day, I’m running a sale on pretty much everything. Pricing for everything runs from Monday, April 29th thru Sunday May 12th. If you’ve ever considered grabbing something, but just weren’t certain, now’s the time to pick up my book or a photo print. Either to treat yourself or as a really unique gift. The book would be especially fitting for a Mother’s Day gift.

My book, An Unexpected Turn, is on sale. The ebook is regularly $4.99 and is on sale for $2.99. Paperback is regularly $11.99 and is on sale for $9.99 (Amazon will not show as sale price and will most likely show early). This price should apply to all platforms, so please drop me a note if for whatever reason it isn’t. It is available in all of these locations:

An Unexpected Turn Cover
An Unexpected Turn Cover

Amazon Kindle
Amazon Paperback
Barns & Noble/Nook
Kobo
Apple Books
Scribd
Playster

 

 

 

ALSO… On my photo print site, everything is 25% off. All prints, stationery and household products like tote bags, pillows and the random phone case. Everything is included, just use the discount code at check out.

Photography Discount Code: NMHZHV

 

Today’s Project… Painting

I need to preface this with the fact that I don’t normally paint. If I do, it is almost always something small like the faces on my nutcrackers or something like that. I have done a few projects over the years, but I’ve never felt like I was very good at it. When I took pictures of BG in her pointe costume so I could use it as reference for the cake, I fell in love with the entire shot. It just would not let me go and next thing I know, I need to try and paint it, even though that isn’t really my thing.

Continue reading “Today’s Project… Painting”

Thank You Gift Completed

As is so often the case when I work with a project like this, the finished piece is a little different that what I originally pictured. The pictures also NEVER do the finished piece justice, especially when it comes to stones that have any kind of flash in them, and this one is full of flash.

Detail Wire Wrapped Fire Opal Pendant
Detail Wire Wrapped Fire Opal Pendant

I am so thrilled to have this piece done. It really has been a long time coming, but it needed to wait until now so it could be the perfect thank you gift to an amazing friend. It is more than worth the time and seriously achy fingers. It’s been WAY too long since I’ve done any kind of jewelry work and those calluses I’d built up are long gone.

Detail Wire Wrapped Fire Opal Pendant
Detail Wire Wrapped Fire Opal Pendant

This is definitely inspiring me to get back into my studio and do something with all those lonely stones just sitting in the dark. Maybe next time I’ll get my torch out and play with some fire.

Another Busy Day

Today is my day to get my butt back into my studio and work on a long overdue piece of jewelry. It has been a couple of years since I’ve done anything in my jewelry studio and this is not going to be an easy piece because, as usual, I can’t do it the way I already know. I have to do something different. Of course. Because I can’t make things easy. At all. Ever.

Continue reading “Another Busy Day”

New Photos Available On Pixels

I have uploaded over 30 new images to my Pixels site. Lots of macro images including quite a few I haven’t posted here yet. So, for anyone that ever thought “Hey, that is a cool photo! That’d look great on my wall!” Here’s your chance. They even have cool things like notebooks, phone cases, coffee mugs, and a handful of other things you can get those images on. You know. Just in case you REALLY have to have one of my images.

Seeing Myself

Self confidence has never been my strong suit. I know that I am probably a lot harder on myself than most other people will be, especially friends and family. That plays into doubting what they say and fueling that doubt. This is one of those things that I do know and recognize about myself and I’ve tried to watch for it in my kids and encourage them to push past it in themselves. It is something I had thought they were doing pretty well with. Until BG was getting ready to start her art class in second semester.

Continue reading “Seeing Myself”