Monday, April 28, 2008

Image of the Month

Last year I started sending out a monthly email that included a new "Image of the Month". Usually those receiving the email were the first to actually see this new image. I also post it on the home page of my website.

I started doing this for many reasons but the main reason was to motivate me to create new images. When I start getting really busy during show season, I have a tendency to spend most of my time building inventory for each show. After awhile I start to feel like I am constantly in "production" mode and very rarely do I feel like I am being creative.

Since I am happiest when I feel creative, I thought if I go public and say that I was going to have a new image every month that I would actually follow through it. I am happy to report it has worked! May's new image "Filoli Gate" was shot last July but I just recently hand-colored it. In past years I usually didn't have the time (or took the time) to make new images in July, which is in the middle of my busiest time. Knowing that I had made this intention to deliver something new every month was just the motivation I needed. It helped balance out the craziness of getting ready for shows and slowed me down just when I needed it the most.

You can sign up for my monthly emails on my website.

You can also drop me an email -, to let me know you would like to be added. I sometimes include special offers that are only available to those on my email list.

Back to work..................

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

In Search Of........

For various reasons, most of which involve my children, I have made quite a few trips between Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay Area in the last month. On these little excursions I bring my camera and then search to find the perfect scene to photograph. This can be dangerous and with the price of gas going up every day, it can also be very expensive.

Recently while taking the back roads home, I got a little lost between Petaluma and Winters. Trying to navigate winding roads and keep a look out for places to pull over at the same time is tricky. It is easier when there are two people. One driving and one searching - however, this didn't help my cousin and I when we were Italy. We still managed to get into an accident after I ordered my cousin to "go back! I want to shoot there!" That's another story.

Today I drove to San Rafael via the "scenic route". I wanted to find "Steamboat Slough" which is along the Sacramento Delta. I have been there once and have the pictures to prove it, but I don't remember how I got there. I thought I had good directions today but when I came to where it was suppose to be, I think I was on the wrong side of the river. I went down the same road twice, thinking I had missed it. Since it was getting late, I thought I better start driving west toward the Bay Area. After going a short distance I see a sign for Sacramento and it's pretty apparent that I need to be on the other side of the river. All of a sudden I see a little ferry designed just to do that! It was a little strange but it got me to the other side and on my way.

I managed to take a couple of shots before getting too lost and that is what I am showing here. Don't ask me where I was - I have no idea!

I am here in San Rafael because I am going to Marin Catholic School tomorrow to demonstrate and talk about hand-coloring black and white photographs. I then pass out some of my old prints for them to play with. It's great fun and inspiring to see what they come up with.

I plan on going on another photo scavenger hunt tomorrow on my way home. Wish me luck!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The waiting is over!

At the beginning of every year a ritual begins. The applications start coming in the mail and you know it's time. While many shows are now utilizing digital applications, which has made things easier, applying to shows can feel like a full time job for the first few weeks of a new year. You do the best you can, make sure all the directions have been properly followed, say a little prayer and send it in.

I can be pretty sure I will be invited back to many of the shows I have done before - but that is not always the case. In addition, there are always a couple of shows that I am applying to for the first time - shows I really want to get into. This is when stalking the mailman and obsessively checking emails becomes a lifestyle.

Well, I am happy to report that my 2008 show schedule is now complete and posted on my website.

Waiting to find out if you were accepted or rejected from a show can be torture! I found out this week the results of the last two shows I was waiting to hear from and it was good news! I was invited to participate in the Sausalito Art Festival and the La Jolla Festival of the Arts. It feels great to know what I am doing now.

Better get to work............

Friday, April 11, 2008


One of the challenges with going digital was trying to figure out how I going to be able to still “hand-color” and produce originals. Through a lot of trial and error, I discovered that I liked working with pastels on the digital prints.

My black and white images start as archival pigment prints made on 100% cotton rag, acid-free paper. The first step is to shave down soft pastels to a fine powder.

I then apply the powder using various tools designed for

pastel artists. Color pencils are used to add highlights and fill in small areas.

I still have prints that I printed in the darkroom on fiber photo paper.

To color these I use photo oil paints.

I find hand-coloring very calming and meditative and time seems to fly by. This is one of the reasons it was so important that I find a way to hand-color digital prints. I am still learning all aspects of digital photography. I probably will be for the rest of my life. It's a little overwhelming at times but I am enjoying the journey.................

Monday, April 7, 2008



Above is "Repose" in it's "before" stage which was a full view of the vase in black and white. This photograph went through many changes before I arrived at the final image. I thought I had a vision of how I wanted this to turn out, but it's great fun when something else evolves out of your original intention.

Now before I continue, I feel I must explain something. The way I approach my work has progressed into something very different from what I started out doing. Yes, I went digital. I admit it. It was a tough fight and the explanation of that journey will be covered in another post.

I will clarify one thing - I still "hand-color" my originals. More on that later.

In order to have images that I can offer as "prints" and to create the jpg's I post to my website, I first hand-color an image in photoshop. Contrary to what I originally believed, it is not any easier coloring on the computer than doing it by hand, at least the way I go about it. I am still layering colors, adding highlights and spending quite a bit of time on each piece. Major differences between an original and the one I create in the computer are - I only do the print version once and my neck hurts a lot more as a result of all the computer time.

Anyway, back to my story about "Repose". I started coloring the original black and white version of this image and felt unsure about it. I liked it but did not love it.

Something wasn't working but I kept plugging away at it.

In keeping with my original vision, I adjusted contrast, toned and softened it. Getting better but still not working for me.

This image could have gone the way of many pieces where I just stop working on it but I didn't. At one point I zoomed in to get a closer look at one of the flowers and it hit me. I needed to crop the heck out of it and make it a square! Now I was happy.

Next: Hand-coloring an original with pastels. Can't wait? Go to FAQ's on my website.