Thursday, December 15, 2011

Leaf Tray Project

I did not realize what a relatively large commitment it would be to do a clay project as my first art docent project of the year.  I thought... an hour in the classroom, a bit of time with the kiln when I could fit it in, done and done.

Then I went to meetings, and the full picture of what I'd gotten myself into came into sharp view.

First there was the training on how to work with clay (for those of us who hadn't done it in a while)
Next there was the writing of the lesson plan, because the docent program is so new that lessons for clay projects are not all written yet.
3rd -  another meeting on how to use the kiln and clay roller at the school.
4: Reserve an afternoon to roll out the clay slabs
5: Teach the lesson (including goofing, stumbling over my notes, looking up at the class and saying 'Yes, I speak well in front of crowds' and giving a double thumb's up before continuing)
 We pressed leaves into the clay slabs for texture, then cut the slabs to the shape of the styrofoam trays (unused - donated by the local grocery store's butcher section) press the clay into the tray for shape, round off the edges, cut out leaves from leftover clay and add them to the tray wherever you would like to... using texture tools to create pattern.

6:Make a couple of sample trays, so that we have an example and extra trays just in case something explodes in the kiln.
7: Wait 2 weeks for the clay to dry COMPLETELY
8: load the kiln for the bisque firing, and cross your fingers that you don't drop a student's project and nothing explodes in the kiln
9: Unload the kiln (potentially returning to the school several times to check and see if it has cooled enough to unload)

10: Glaze the projects with the class
11: Find a safe place to keep the trays and wait for the glaze to dry

12: glaze-fire the projects in the kiln, and cross your fingers that you don't drop a student's project, fuse projects to each other, the kiln walls, or the kiln shelves, and nothing in the kiln explodes.

13: Unload the kiln (this time stopping by the school to prop the lid open so it will cool faster)

14: Deliver projects back to the class in time for them to bring the trays home for Christmas

Done and Done.

What I found the most interesting was the variety of ways in which the kids added leaves to their platters.  Some were extremely symmetrical in their layouts, others went abstract.  The glazing was also a show of creative license where some covered the entire platter in one color while others chose to put color in very specific places.  Every platter was entirely unique and lovely and the kids really enjoyed their art time, which was wonderful to see.

If you're wondering why I haven't blogged in a while, this is partially to blame.  Well worth the effort I think, but lesson learned... next year the clay project will start in January when I'm not bombarded with all my Fall activities and holiday hoopla.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Halloween Highlights and Holiday Hopes

I have become so used to racing around to meetings or events or for work errands that I'm currently sitting at my desk, checking and re-checking my calendar, wondering why it is I'm here and not out there somewhere.

Clearly I'm forgetting a meeting or an important mail run or something.

My calendar disagrees... aside from the regular Thursday reminders, my day is simply a generic work day.  (It says something when sitting with an accounting program in front of you feels like a relaxing day)

The big school fundraiser went over pretty well, aside from Mother Nature deciding to dump waterfalls on us during the only portion that was scheduled to be outside (and ONLY during the time we were supposed to be outside)  Our photo booth ran steady from our early start time right up until the end - people seemed to really like the way we set it up.  Here is G in her Vampire costume at school.

This was the first time I shot with my soft box attached to the flash - I'm happy with how nice and even the lighting ended up (far better than a generic flash-on-camera blast) though I still need to work out the best set-up for photographing wiggly kids, as I discovered that trailing curtain sync mode does *not* stop motion on kindergartners hopped up on sugar. 

This Halloween was our quietest yet.  Between the home improvement projects and the work I did for the fundraiser, it took a bit of juggling to find time to carve pumpkins.  I finally just shoved the paint brushes aside, put on "It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown" and got to work.

I went with a LOTR theme myself (is that any surprise?)
The EYE is always watching!

The carving was actually not difficult, and it ended up being very relaxing (though it took longer than one Halloween special to finish it)  I used our wood block carving tools to outline the eye and the pupil, then just kept digging veins out, criss-crossing and making some deeper and more defined.  Next I took the plastic pumpkin scraping spoon and raked it across the "white" of the eye to pop off what was left of the pumpkin skin, leaving the bits in the center so that it would be darker once it was lit up.  I painted the pupil black with acrylic paint so that it would be absolutely black, then I scraped the inside of the pumpkin thinner to make it brighter when lit.  This year I lit them with strands of battery operated white lights stuffed into a glass jar (no fire hazard that way, and more evenly lit) but those lights didn't even last the whole night so I don't recommend it.

This was the first year G wanted to try full face make-up for Halloween.  Once she was all done I just had to set up the backdrop and get a good picture.

I *love* the effect of the mask.

I dressed as Meditrina, Roman Goddess of Wine... hence the wine glass.

I attempted to put my hair into ringlets the way I always see it done in movies, but it seems that 20 years of being away from a curling iron made my skills a little rusty.

My days are slowly winding down as the month goes on.  The school fundraiser and all subsequent meetings are now done.  The art contest at the school is nearly complete - just a couple more hours dedicated to that next week and I can mark that off my list.  My only ongoing obligation to the school is to be the art docent for G's class.  This will involve trainings here and there, and a once-a-month appearance in front of the kiddos where I'll have to talk out loud and sound like I know what I'm doing.  (On top of the public speaking issue, we are also starting out with a clay project as our first lesson of the year.  Ambitious, right? Perhaps stupidly ambitious?)

Next week is a big one for me - art lesson and family birthday dinner in the beginning of the week, turn in art contest entries in the middle of the week, host G's friend birthday party at the end of the week.

I am grateful for the 3 day weekend... perhaps with the extra non-work day I may be able to pull myself together for one more big hulabaloo before the holidays strike.

My weekend starts tonight with a trip to Glazer's for their closing ceremony of their Holga portrait contest.  I have a lot of competition, so while my fingers are crossed... in reality I'm just looking forward to mingling with other photographers and picking up my copy of "Plastic Cameras: Toying with Creativity"

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Faces in the trees

Glazers annual Holga Contest has come around again. 

This year they've changed things up a bit, narrowing down the contest to only one category, one entry per person.  This worries me a bit... I hope that scaling back this year's 9th annual Holga contest doesn't mean we won't see a 10th next year.  When I went to drop off my entry today, though, I noticed a massive display of various toy cameras (dianas, lomo, fuji, holgas... some with flashes, some with Polaroid backs)  so I'm hoping their passion for film at the store will continue to fuel this fun contest.

So the category this year is "Portrait" - not really my forte in the realm of shooting with my Holga, (most of my people-pictures are full length from a distance) but I did have this one shot I'm particularly fond of... wood carvings which were set on display on a banana leaf tree on the beach in Jamaica.

"Faces of Jamaica"

I matted my print on a basic black mat and dropped it off this afternoon.  I have no idea what kind of competition I'm up against this year, but my fingers are crossed.

Monday, October 03, 2011


Washington Trails Association is having their annual photography contest, and while I did not get up to the Olympics to hike this season (where I'd intended to attempt some spectacular landscapes for just such a contest occasion) our camping trips to Blake Island offered me some opportunities to haul out some limited gear and see what I could do.

The rules of the WTA contest are pretty strict - only one photo per category, must be shot on a Washington Trail - so my entry this year is limited to two shots.

Under the category "Flora/Fauna" I have the Fawn:

This baby deer could be found in the field adjacent to the hiking trail pretty much every morning.  Mom would drop him/her off and meander around near the campground while the little bugger munched away, largely ignoring the hikers passing not 30 feet away.  This was one in a series of shots I took using my "approach wildlife slowly" technique.  Once I spot a creature, I zoom in and do the best framing I can from where I'm at, meter the scene and get a few shots.  From there, I approach slowly, one step at a time, to try to improve the framing/cropping/angle as best I can without disturbing the animal - both to not bother the animal, and to not scare it away and ruin the shot for the people behind me.  This fawn was remarkably unconcerned with just about anything I did, and I was able to sit on the ground and scoot a few feet at a time, coming within 10 feet of it before I decided I might be pushing my luck.
(Side note:  when I sat with my camera in my lap, watching the fawn eat, I noticed quite a few hikers breezed right past me.  Any time I had my camera up to my face, however, they would pause to see what I was shooting, and only then notice the brave fawn standing in the middle of a wide open field.  You can miss some pretty amazing things if all you're doing is looking at the ground directly in front of your feet.)

Under the category "whimsical" I have entered this:
G on the Trail.  All in all I was generally unhappy with my inner-forest trail shots (they all looked so flat and lifeless) but this, at the entrance to the interpretive trail by Tillicum Village, was nicely lit.  G ran over to the informative post and said "Look!  I'm the little trail guy!" so we took a few minutes to try to pose her just like the sign.  Someone stuck a blue hat sticker and mustache on the little dude in the sign, and while we couldn't find a hat for G, at least the color happened to match her skirt.

I have little idea of my chances of being published with these for this contest, but they were fun to shoot and you never know unless you try.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Camping Blake

Things that I learned while boat camping on Blake Island last weekend...

Herons enjoy hanging out in marinas, and are somewhat not bothered by people walking by.

It is a chore to ferry the camping gear to shore, but you can't beat the view.

Our gear can fit in smaller campsites if we turn the tent backwards and leave the screened-in space folded down.

If you are going to camp in full sun, don't forget sunscreen.

Camping by the open water means there are little to no mosquitoes... but no matter how warm the day is, everything becomes damp overnight.

The lack of mosquitoes is entirely worth the dampness.

If you're camping in the summer sun, pack a buff or baseball hat, soak it in cold water and stick it on your head for instant air conditioning.

Morning fog makes coffee taste better.

Contrary to my phobia of water, I seriously enjoy rowing a small boat over calm surfaces.

Camping on a small island means no cars, but that does not necessarily equate to a peaceful campground on a Saturday night.

If a guy is wearing a lobster hat on his head and drinking his 5th beer in a half hour, just ignore him.  It's not your fault his attempt at joking no longer makes sense.

I can actually sleep even when my tent butts up against the next door neighbors as long as I have earplugs.

Foam earplugs are worth ten thousand times their weight in gold.

Camping on a small island means no bears, so you don't have to worry about your gear being torn apart.

Camping in a state park filled with raccoons means you do need to invest in good rubbermaid and bungee cords.

If you turn your back on the picnic table after sundown - even for a second - your leftovers will be stolen.

Raccoons apparently do not enjoy the taste of cell phones sitting on the picnic table next to the leftovers.

Bring bleach cleaner or handi-wipes... even if you pack the food away, you'll still wake up to little raccoon paw prints on your table.

Starfish like the same kind of bait that crabs do.

Crab tastes best when it is immediately fresh.

If you leave a bottle of red wine in a rubbermaid container in the sun, it will warm to the point where wine seeps out around the cork.

Drinking too much of the non-ruined red wine will make you feel dehydrated in the middle of the night, which really sucks when the nearest water involves a walk through raccoon infested campgrounds with a flashlight that burns out halfway there.

My daughter is gaining on me in height.

Take your food out of it's original packaging, put it all in ziploc bags, and pack it that way (double bag for meat in the cooler) - it reduces the amount of space it takes up in your containers, and reduces the amount of trash you have at the campsite.

If you decide to use coin operated showers, bring something to pad your feet... the mats in the showers are exceedingly painful to stand on after 3 minutes.

Don't forget a thermos travel mug for coffee, because a regular cup cools too quickly and doesn't fit in the camp chair cup holders.

If I don't have a mirror, I have no idea how badly I'm sunburned, so I go ahead and allow pictures to be taken of me.

Yes, as a matter of fact it is entirely worth it to haul 20+ pounds of camera gear on the boat.

Seagulls apparently do not like bald eagles.  Bald eagles apparently don't give a shit.

If you go to the bathroom, bring your camera... you never know who you'll come across on your journey.

Keep your camera set to the current lighting conditions, on the off chance that you catch a native fishing.

When you hear a lot of bird calls, look up... there is a reason for the noise.

Seeing large birds of prey flying still makes my heart skip a beat.

If a dream wakes you in the middle of the night on a full moon, get up and look outside - you might just see something that takes your breath away.

Friday, June 24, 2011

A Pair of Pileated Peckers

Woodpeckers.  Get your mind out of the gutter.

We've lived in our house for over 7 years.  I remember within days of moving in I began hearing what would soon become the familiar calls of the Pileated woodpeckers.  These are the big guys... about the size of a crow, with the bright red mohawks that the character Woody Woodpecker was fashioned after.  They are generally reclusive birds... we hear their calls echo through the neighborhood, and recognize their signature "WHAP! WHAP! WHAP!" pecking on dead wood.

Contrary to what the cartoon shows, they do not sound like the rapidfire "rat-tat-tat-tat-tat"... around here that's the sound of a sapsucker announcing his territory.  The Pileateds are deliberate in their hunt for food, sounding more like a craftsman thudding his hammer with careful aim.  On rare occasions I've managed to sneak up and see them at work on a dead log.  They tip their head to the side, examining the wood... then they pull their head back as far as it will go and throw it forward with all their might, as if their beak were a sledgehammer.  Every time I see it, I expect them to pull their heads back and shake them, I cannot imagine how they do this without seeming to feel the least bit of pain or dizziness.  They appear entirely unaffected by the blow, and they line themselves up to do it again.

Their call is very similar to the cartoon (not the beginning laughing part, but the way Woody sings that last note over and over... ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha) though in the wild their pitch sounds more similar to a laughing hyena than the cartoon bird... "kak-kak-kak-kak-kak-kak-kak-kak!"

For 7 years they have been my backyard nemesis... the elusive Bird I Could Not Photograph.  They are the grand pooh-ba in neighborhood bird watching (at least, between my next-door-neighbor and I, who seem to be equal in our enthusiasm for the feathered critters)  Most of the times I've seen them I was unable to get my camera fast enough.  One time I saw one on a neighbor's log and I had my cell phone, but in that instance the phone would not focus (though it focused fine 2 minutes later, after the bird took flight)  Once I saw one sleeping in the tree in my front yard.  I did not want to run the risk of losing the opportunity, so I did not bother to change out of my pink pajamas... but nabbed my camera and tripod and dashed out front.  I had pictures, but as the bird was asleep in the tree, the photos only show an unrecognizable black blob on the tree bark.

Last Christmas D bought me a few bird houses for the yard, with the intent to put them up on posts this spring.  In the midst of researching the best way to put them out in the yard (to prevent marauders from gaining access) D began brainstorming squirrel baffles.  In order to test his designs, he devised a plan to put in a temporary post in the yard and hang a collection of bird feeders from it - if the squirrels cannot get up to the food that they clearly want, then the baffles will work for the birdhouses (which they should be less interested in anyway)  So he placed a bit wooden post in a corner near our patio, collected a bunch of my feeders from around the yard, and set up what is now a substantial feeding station.

The experiment has created an unexpected turn of events.  The tall wooden post, combined with a long narrow suet feeder filled with peanut-based suet, appears to be the ideal combination for pileated woodpeckers.  Within days of setting up the feeders we began noticing pileateds hanging around the yard.  I've dashed out of the house a few times to get pictures... some of them were fuzzy (low light + fast bird) and many times I've scared the birds away.  But... they keep coming back.  Daily.  They seem to have grown so accustom to us that I can approach the feeders to about 10 feet before they fly away.

They other day I noticed the feeder was almost empty, so I walked out to fill it and didn't even notice the female was on the backside of the post.  She didn't see me either, and I was 5 feet away before she took flight, landing on the side of the tree behind me.  She watched me fill the feeder, then flew immediately back to it as soon as I'd turned and walked a few steps away.

As they have come back with such frequency, I'm now referring to them as our Resident Pileateds.  I have several shots of both of them at the feeders, but I'm also trying to capture them with more of their own habitat as the surroundings.

These photos are 7 years in the making (cropped down to show both birds in one frame)  The Grand Pooh-bas of Backyard Birding:

I'm thinking the male (on the left) should be named Woody, I haven't decided what to call the female yet.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Happy Publishing Day!

Today Issue #2 of Films & Grains Magazine comes out - available online via a print-on-demand type service.

You can glance through the magazine here by clicking the "show preview" link...

Flip through to pages 40-41 and you'll see two of my shots, under the topic of Nature's Graffiti... and also this time the editor remembered to put my website URL on the page.


Here are the two pics... in case you don't have the time to flip through...

And Fringe

If you feel so inclined, or are interested in the nostalgia of analog photography, you can follow the link above to purchase a hard copy of Films & Grains!

Happy Friday - I hope everyone enjoys their weekends!

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Eggless Easter

Decorating Easter eggs has always been a giant exercise in patience and paranoia for me.  As a kid, my mom would have one of the neighbors boil eggs in their house - so as to avoid the high potential for an asthma attack for me.  Once the eggs were safely boiled and cooled, they were returned to our dining room table... where we would line up the identical set of coffee mugs (which I swear we only used for this purpose) filled the appropriate amount of vinegar, plopped the little sweet-tart looking discs in, and went to work transforming the evil little ovals of death into brightly colored holiday decorations.

My efforts were generally hindered by wearing my mother's rubber dish washing gloves and attempting to balance these fragile beasts on the end of the flimsy bent wire "egg holder" that came with the decorating kit.  More often than not, I simply gave up trying to handle them myself and directed my dad to plunk them into the various colors.  I participated for the traditional family gathering aspect of it, I wasn't going to have anything more to do with them anyway... the eggs were turned into snacks and egg salad for the rest of the family, and come Easter morning, the kid's egg hunt was for the plastic sort that had prizes and candy hidden inside.

I'm not sure if I've grown even more paranoid as the years go on, or if I've just decided that life is to frackin' short to be actively adding potential health hazards to it, but either way I believe I have entirely given up on the traditional real-egg-dying baloney.  I've tried to stick with it out of some sense of loyalty to the past, some years combining the precarious-egg-dying with the far more enjoyable wooden-egg-painting... but really, when it comes down to it, what's the point?

I don't want hard boiled eggs in my house.  The smell makes my stomach turn over, the sight of them in my fridge makes my hand instinctively recoil as I reach for my coffee creamer, and as incredibly careful and cautious as both D and G are when handling the little devils... I spend my days feverishly scrubbing down counters to avoid breaking out in hives and secretly plotting out ways I can "accidentally" throw out what's left and just be done with the whole stinkin' holiday.  (Now take that paranoia and multiply it a thousand times over when someone who is not as careful as D comes over and starts cracking one open on my kitchen counter.  *shudder*)

My alternative tradition is to decorate fake eggs.

Last year I picked up several bags of paper mache eggs, and G and I had a lovely time sitting and painting the little guys.  She found it far more interesting to be able to paint designs rather than plunk them in a cup and just... watch.  Also, she enjoys not having to be afraid of dropping them.  This makes me feel satisfied that my allergy is not depriving my child of our own holiday family tradition.

This year I saw an article in Family Circle magazine about ways to decorate plastic eggs.  When I took a trip to Michael's last week I picked up some of their new, brightly colored paper mache eggs, a few packs of origami paper, and tonight G and I sat down and experimented with a few designs (as well as breaking out the pastel paints for the leftover paper mache eggs from last year)

The result of tonight's efforts:

What I also love about this project - besides being able to save them as decorations for future Easters, is that it can be an ongoing project all the way up to Easter, which gives us more than just an afternoon of sitting around smelling vinegar.

Edit on Sunday: Today's Egg Adventures

Saturday, March 19, 2011

February's Photography Successes and lessons

Over the last few weeks I've slowly made my way through the backlog of images I shot on my vacation.  I think the focusing trick I learned from the seminar I attended last April has really paid off, as I came away from this trip with gigabytes of sharp wildlife images.  I wouldn't have captured nearly the amount had I been using my previous focusing method... which consisted of fumbling around with the shutter button, giving up and focusing by hand, then throwing most of the shots out of focus by trying to then take the photo.
Taking the auto-focus function off the shutter release is quite possibly the best photographic decision I made this year.
I compiled so many images that my portfolio update tonight had to be broken down into 7 new galleries...

I loaded them up and placed them under the "Featured Galleries" on my main page - just go to My Site and scroll down to the bottom of the page if you want to take a peek, or here is a list of direct links to each gallery

Snow Scenes - Images taken during the great big snow storm we had in the middle of our vacation.  Many of these were shot from inside the truck as we wove our way down Whidby Island.
Metal, Wood, Water and Stone - kind of a mixture of scenic stuff from around Orcas Island, and experimenting with longer shutter speeds on wave shots.
Birds of Port Townsend - didn't have enough of any individual  bird to do their own album, so the house sparrow, crow and double-crested cormorants ended up here.
Great Blue Heron - it's clear I loved shooting this guy.
Belted Kingfisher - he was more difficult to capture, since he's such a relatively small bird and very, very shy.  I consider myself lucky to have even spotted him
Bald Eagle - an immature bald eagle... I noticed him swoop down just as I was getting into the car to wait for the ferry, and I bolted right back out to follow him.  This guy was being totally harassed by seagulls, who made a racket and dive-bombed him, but never got close enough for me to get them in the shot with him.  The eagle ended up leaving the scene because the heron came back.  It seems in the world of birds, size matters more than talons?
Port Townsend Fountain in the Snow - This is the fountain in Port Townsend which sits at the base of the stairs that connect Uptown to Downtown (they are literal in PT)  We arrived in PT under gray skies, and the snow began to fall just as we brought our bags into the condo.  This is a series of shots taken over the course of our 3 day stay, with varying degrees of coverage and meltage.

This trip was a lesson to me in what it's like to shoot in bitterly cold weather.  I wore fingerless gloves to keep my hands as warm as I could, but I think I may need to invest in some hunting gloves (the kind where you can remove the index finger only) if I'm going to shoot in winter conditions for any length of time.  Also, bright snow, bright sunshine, and transition lenses to not make for a good shooting set-up.  It took me a few outings to realize that the reflection of the sun off the snow made my glasses pitch-black dark - great for driving but terrible for viewing anything through the eyepiece or on the LCD screen.  I started shoving my glasses in my pocket while I shot, but nearly dropped them several times so I really do need to carry my glasses case with me next time.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Driving in a winter wonderland

(I originally started this post a couple weeks ago, then failed to finish and publish... so the story is a little late.  And I'm failing at my "at least once a week posting", so I'm going to get my ass moving on that.  I promise)

That bird-watching opportunity that I mentioned in my last post came about because the school district up here has a mid-winter break.  It's not a vacation that either D or I grew up with, but it's something that is in the teacher's contract, so we decided to take advantage of it and spend a week getting away from it all.  We had no idea that "getting away from it all" would involve driving straight into a bizarre patch of heavy winter weather.  We drove north, took a ferry, and stayed a couple of days on Orcas Island... where we were hit with a relatively massive amount of snow.  Granted, the man who owned the coffee shop in town (originally from Switzerland) thought it was nothing more than a dusting... we considered 3-4 inches dropping in a few hours to be decently significant.  However, with D's big heavy truck and my white-knuckled grip on the rather un-detailed map of the island*, we navigated the snowy roads down to the ferry dock.
*(Side note: those who might plan a visit to Orcas... know that your nav system may not be updated with any road information for the island.  It's not so big that you can really get lost anyway, but if you want to know where you are for certain - say for example, in the snow where you can't really see where the road is... bring a map)
After loading onto the ferry, we had snowy and freezing couple hours ride over to Anacortes, where the snow had blanketed the town in a good 6 inches, and was still falling.

Usually in these kind of driving conditions I turn into... well... I get paranoid.
Hard to imagine me paranoid, right?
However, on this day I managed to distract myself enough with the beautiful scenery that I let go of my anxiety and just put my faith in D's driving skills.  I knew I wasn't going to convince anyone in our party to stop at viewpoint for me to get out and shoot, but I did take advantage of the slow crawls to stick my lens out the window and capture some lovely snowy landscapes.

As we drove down the length of Whidby, we were treated to these kinds of peaceful scenes... rolling hills of farm land covered in a blanket of white, snow capped trees, and off in the distance just the slightest hint of a break in the clouds... just enough to light the scene without washing everything out.

We considered stopping at the viewpoint across Deception Pass, but I wasn't on top of it enough to remind D that the turn off is IMMEDIATELY after the bridge, so we missed the opportunity to stop.  I did manage a shot of the pass below the bridge as we drove over though.

Down the remainder of the island, on our way to the ferry dock that would take us to Port Townsend, the snow thinned.  By the time we reached the dock there was little more than a hint of dusting on a few pieces of driftwood.  Strange what a difference 2 miles makes in the weather up here.

Due to low tide, we had an hour and a half wait for that ferry - which is where my bird watching opportunity came about.  It was lovely timing, as the family had to sit and wait for the ferry anyway, so my shooting adventure didn't take up anyone's time.  We crossed the water and pulled into town, an easy 8 or so blocks from the ferry dock to the condo we rent.  As we unloaded our cars the snow began to fall, and by dinner time the town was covered in a good 4 inches of snow.  Thankfully, Port Townsend is the kind of place that you can park your car and not need to touch it again until you leave town... so all we needed to do was settle in.

The timing was incredible.

Friday, February 25, 2011

A bird in the hand...

This has been a big week of birding opportunities for me, and all by luck and happenstance.

While waiting for a ferry, I looked out the truck window and noticed a belted kingfisher sitting on a rope at the dock.  I stepped out to zoom in and get a shot, and he flew down onto a rock near the water's edge.

As I focused on this little gem, I heard D next to me clear his throat and say "did you notice what is standing next to him?"  Not 5 feet from the kingfisher was a great blue heron.

After snapping happily away for a good 15 minutes, the great bird flew off.  I wandered back toward the truck then looked up and noticed a massive wingspan in the air, so I high tailed it back down towards the water, where I found the seagulls harassing a young bald eagle.

This is the closest I've managed to get to a baldy in the wild.  He stayed for maybe 5 or so minutes, dodging gulls with a sort of shrugging-off attitude... then I heard the heron call, and that was enough to send Mr. Eagle back to his perch high in the trees.  The heron came and replaced the eagle on the pillar for a few minutes, before gliding back down to *his* spot in the water.

All in all I shot about 150 images of just these three birds.  This 30 or so minute experience makes up for the months of winter dry spell for me.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day

Had some fun with my Lensbaby Composer and macro filters (+4 and +10)

Happy Big Card and Candy Day!

Friday, February 04, 2011

Being accepted feels good, though I'm hesitant to believe it.

Last Fall I heard through the photography grapevine that a new magazine devoted to film/toy camera photography was in development (pun intended) and they had an open call for submissions.  The theme was "the beginning" (fitting, for the first issue of a new magazine) so I submitted my shot titled "First Steps"

I've always loved this shot for sentimental reasons... this is G one of the first times she walked on the wet sand of Santa Cruz all by herself (wearing a dress that I made for her, as a matter of fact)

A short while after I sent in the submission, I received an email saying my image has been chosen for publication in the first issue of Films & Grains magazine!

I was excited to know it seemed to be chosen but didn't really make any big announcement, because I am perpetually brimming with self doubt. What if they originally picked my image, then somewhere down the line opted for a later submission instead?  What if they sent me that email on accident?  It's a brand new publication, what if the magazine didn't make it to press?  My years of battling Murphy's Law told me to hold off saying anything until it seemed really for real.

Last night I received the official word that the first edition of Films & Grains magazine is now available for purchase online!
I have ordered my copy and anxiously await the Big Reveal of my first time being included in someone else's publication.

...presuming they didn't send me the acceptance letter on accident, of course.

Friday, January 21, 2011

As low-tech as you can get

With all the photo contests, magazines, and projects that have my internal wheels spinning... I probably did not need another photography toy to further blur my focus.

(pun totally intended)

However, when I came across the P-Sharan pinhole camera kit in a kitchy little shop in Port Townsend I just couldn't resist the draw.  I've always been intrigued by pinhole photography - to think that you can still put together an example of the most basic, earliest form of camera, and have it be fully functional is just entirely fascinating to me.  Strip away all the buttons and gears and glass and f-stops and you can return to the bottom line definition of photography...

...painting with light.
This kit goes a few steps beyond the basic "poke a hole in a shoebox and stick some film inside".  There is a great deal of convenience in being able to roll film through it (rather than learn how to load and develop individual sheet film, which I doubt I have the patience to attempt) But beyond that modern convenience, it is a cardboard box with a pin hole for a "lens".

The kit turned out to be slightly more involved than I thought it would be.  It is conveniently laid out - pre-punched and pieces together with tape (no messy glue necessary) and the instructions read like a model car, which I have plenty of experience in buiding.  There were a surprising amount of layers involved in the interior of the structure, but when all pieced together it is extremely precise in it's spacing.

There was the film holder section and the front of the camera, which fit nicely together (on the left)  The camera back is on the right.  That square of cardboard is to be used for shooting.
Opening the shutter causes the camera to move, so you first block the front of the camera with the cardboard to open the shutter, then pull the cardboard away while you expose the film, put the cardboard in front again, then close the shutter.  Alternately you could use your hand, but the non-reflective black cardboard would be a better light block.
Here is the completed front of the camera, shutter closed.  The black rubberbands hold the back onto the front (though it fits so snug it hardly seems necessary, it is a good precaution)

Here it is with the shutter open.

Given our weather, and my further adventures of making up for lost time at work due to being sick last week, I have not managed to load film yet.  I am hoping our rain will let up enough over the weekend for me to explore this piece of low-tech fun.

In the mean time... I do have a new Holga album I recently uploaded to my site: Holga Fall/Winter 2010