Monday, January 30, 2012

It is Winter...

in San Antonio.  

Most of the Trees have barred their leaves.

The Sun is low in the sky.  


where one looks, there he or she will find

a bit of Beauty that remains;


a pleasant SURPRISE.

The beauty of the remnants,

and the surprise splash of color...

these are reminders to keep your eyes open

and your heart unrestrained.

Project: Life

Its been a difficult month for me. Nothing bad has happened, only good. Yet with the Sun going to bed early, I find myself extremely sleepy early in the evening. Therefore productivity goes out the window.  

I'm behind on my project life. But was able to print out the second week of January last night. This was one of my favorites:

Frame: Three Paper Peonies

The pictures were taken with the Pentax Q on Blur Control to mimic shallow depth of field.  I converted to B/W in Lightroom.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Be true...

to you!

I have a thing for underexposed photography.

I purposely set my shutter speed to get dark images...

to minimize the light.

I love how colors are deepened.

How only a piece of the story unfolds.

Light is beautiful.

But so is the dark.

(Created with Canvas Back Magic by Kim Klassen and Metallic Overlay by FineCrafted Designs)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Six Word Memoirs...

is it cheating if I already had one?  Look to the very bottom of my blog and you'll find:

Find the beautiful in the everyday.

I guess to make it more memoir-ish I should change it to:

Found the beautiful in the everyday???


For more on Six Word Memoirs, check out SMITH Magazine.

I spent last weekend visiting and crafting with friends I had not seen in awhile.  Saturday was spent at the Stampin' Up convention in San Antonio.  My favorite Stampin' Up demonstrator, Arla, invited me as her guest!  What a blast that was.  And Sunday we spent more time creating.  I am not done with my project yet...but I look forward to finishing it and sharing it with you all (psss...its a journal cover).

I'm just now finding the time to get these posted; but on Sunday, I took and processed the following photos for Beyond Layers.


Keep it simple.  

Such sound advice.

(another six word memoir??)


Monday, January 16, 2012

A Photo Journey...

...documenting my Art History.

This year I am participating in three classes (of sorts)...The Art Journal Caravan at Scrapbook Graphics, Life Book at Willowing.ning and Beyond Layers at the All three course are synergistic and complimentary. For the first assignment at Beyond Layers, I am asked to document my Art History. I thought to myself, I could make a journal page (digital or mixed media), I could write a simple document (i.e. word or notepad), or I could blog my History with photos. Hmmm...guess which route I choose?  

Collecting photos for this History shows me how I have come to this very point...taking Art Journal, Mixed-Media, and Photography/Photoshop courses. I have a destination in mind. Granted, it will take me years to reach this destination. However, I am on a journey to that place, one foot in front of the other, coming closer and closer to reaching my dreams and becoming the Artist I so long to be.

When it all began...

December 20, 2004 I went to the San Antonio Botanical Gardens with my point-and-shoot digital camera, a Samsung Digimax. This was the first time I took pictures of plants and flowers for the pure joy of shooting photography.  It was this day I realized, "I can do it."  I can take the kind of pictures I see in my minds eye.

The pictures below are from the Samsung. The camera came with photo-editing software;  so I am sure I made some changes to contrast and saturation--nothing compared to what I can do with Photoshop or Lightroom.  But hey, I was a brand-spanking-new newbie to photography and had a bit of an aversion to "manipulating" photographs.  I felt I should be able to get the perfect shot strait out of the camera.  Mind you, a point-n-shoot DOES manipulate the photo (only I did not know that back then).

When I moved to Washington, my love for digital photography and shooting flowers grew. But unfortunately I destroyed that camera in Boston during a snow storm. Here is a scrapbook page of that day:

I do not know the exact day I started scrapbooking...but I do remember what sparked it. A buddy of mine invited me to her house for a Stampin-Up demonstration. I was HOOKED!  By this time I had hundreds of digital photographs but I did not know what do with them. Well, scrapbooking gave me a way to display my photos in a physical format.  Here are some of my creations using pictures taken with the Samsung (sorry for the poor quality of the scrapbook pictures, I was going for speed not style):

Soon after destroying the Samsung, I got another point-n-shoot digital, a Fuji Film FinePix.  The camera captured colors well, but it did not have a viewfinder like the Samsung.  So I never fell in love with that camera, the way I did my little Samsung. Here are some of the Fuji Film captures:

I guess I have always had a thing for macro photography, even though to this day I do not own a macro lens. Flowers, bugs, butterflies and nature remain my favorite subjects to capture. Back in those days, using a point-n-shoot I had no idea what "f" stop, 1:1 ratio or Bokeh were. I had no idea how to manipulate my exposure. None-the-less, I could spend a half day or entire day at the gardens or zoo shooting away with my Fuji Film.

After nature, abstract comes in a close second.  I don't have as many of these types of photographs as I tend to go to gardens and parks to shoot.  However, get me in a city-scape and I will happily try to find unique angles and captures.

I now have a Nikon D90.  I add some of my abstracts from the Nikon at this point for continuity of style (these were taken in raw and processed in photoshop).

In 2008 I found myself back in San Antonio (still there as I write this...but I don't anticipate being here at the end of 2012). At work we have Adobe Creative Suite CS3.  Its licensed for one office and one home use.  With permission from my boss, I installed CS3 at home.  Here is a book cover I created for my class.  I am an Army instructor of cytology. We have a camera attached to our multi-head about "macro photography!!!"  I designed the overall cover and took the pictures.

With CS3 installed at home I began my adventure and later addiction to digital scrapbooking, digital art journaling and digital art.  Here are some of my earliest creations.  I've decided to take pictures of these rather than scan them in.  You may ask, why not upload the file from your hard drive...well, there is a story behind that (like getting a virus/malware on my computer followed by an external hard drive crashing...lost LOADS of pictures and work from that...end result was upgrading to an iMac...I've gone Mac and I'll never go back!).

Yes, all these flower photos are my own captures!
Looks traditional, but its digi!
For awhile I created and created and created digital scrapbook pages. Even though by this time I upgraded to a Nikon D90 I did not take many photographs...until October of 2010 when I decided I needed to get unplugged and out more.  In 2011 I took a photography class at the Southwest School of Art.  The gentleman in the pictures is Victor.  We were in the class together and did many assignments as a team.  It was great having a partner.  I sure do miss that!  The following photos were taken between 2010 and 2011, some as assignments for the photography class.  These were all taken with the Nikon D90.  It was not until AFTER the class that I was convinced to shoot in raw.  So, some of these are jpegs, some are raw converted to jpeg.  Many are straight out of the camera, but a few have been manipulated in CS5.

Somewhere along the line I discovered I like to take self portraits too! (And use myself in my art.)

Picture of me taken by Victor M. Chavez
Picture of me taken by Victor M. Chavez 
Picture of me taken by Victor M. Chavez
Speaking of my digital art, two things got me away from what looked like traditional scrapbook pages and towards what I simply call digital art...these two things were the Art Journal Caravan and Deviant Scrap.  Here are some pages I've created over the past two years after becoming involved with these sites:

It took me awhile to get comfortable using stock photos. I always felt I should be using my own work. I still prefer to use my own work (hence taking three classes this year!). But I don't know enough people nor do I have the costumes to capture the kind of photos I want to work with. Here is one creation with stock, and one creation using a picture of Victor and stock. The goal in both of these creations was simply to practice photomanipulation.

I've learned a lot about shadows since this
This has always been one of my favorite creations.
Can you tell that body is not Victor's but came
from stock?
I still take lots and lots of photographs and scrap them.  But late last year I moved to a Project Life format for scrapbooking. So I don't do too many of this style of LO:

My photography style has not changed much...I still like flowers, bugs and nature...and finding beauty in ordinary things. I predominately use a 35mm 1:1.8 nikkor lens (a 60mm macro is on my wish list...will probably get it next month). My digital art has grown enormously...but I still have far to go. Here is one of my all time favorite creations:

Where I am today...

For Christmas I got an iPhone and Pentax Q.  I said above my photography style has not changed much. What I should have said was my style with the Nikon has not changed much.  Sometimes I read something, see something or participate in something that forever changes me.  In December 2011 I was reading a magazine Digital SLR Photography and came across a short article by Oliver Tudoras.  He said he was taking technically perfect photographs; but they were boring.  He switched to a LensBaby lens and his photographs become much more interesting.  Later in the magazine I read the article Hip to be Square.  This article was about the Hipstamatic app.  After reading these two articles, something in me shifted.  I could feel it.  That change in perspective.  I realized I was striving for technically perfect pictures...but what about their content?  Were they interesting?  I love my photographs, don't get me wrong.  But I realized there is a beauty to spontaneity.  There is a beauty in imperfection.  My Christmas presents were not accidents.  Here are some of my iPhone photos:

And here is a picture of the Pentax Q, at the moment, the world's smallest interchangeable lens camera.  This baby easily fits into my purse or jacket pocket!!!

And here is what the Q can do:

What else have I been up to?  Creating mixed media...and then using that in digital art:

Oh, and looked what arrived today...I've finally upgraded to an Intuos (specially packaged with Adobe's Lightroom!)

Where am I going? I mentioned at the beginning of this (very long) post, that I am on a journey and I have a destination.  It will take many years to reach my destination.  In the grand scheme of the things, I'm like maybe a 1st or 2nd grader when it comes to art.  And where I'd like to be is at the Master's level.  I subscribe to 2D Artist...I am amazed at what I see there.  And when I grow up, I'd like to be like those artists.  I am in love with everything digital.  Digital photography, digital art, photomanipulation...every class I take gets me closer to my ultimate dream.  For me, physical art, photoshop (and probably Painter in the future), and photography go hand in hand.  If you have a little time, check out Matte Painting.  These, to me, are the ultimate photomanipulators.

I'd like to end with my focus for the year...create mixed media pieces--Life Book-- (which will help me learn to draw and paint), take meaningful photographs--Beyond Layers--(learn about flash photography, get a macro lens, and continue to texture and process my photos), and combine my creations into digital art--Art Journal Caravan.  Yes, my plate is full.  And I would not want it any other way.

P.S.  As a history of my art journey, I've reused many photos from past posts.  Although time consuming and very long, it has been rewarding to put all of these into one singular post that documents my growth.  
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