Thursday, July 30, 2009

Morning in the Park

©2009 Dianne Poinski

This is the first hand-colored image I am showing from my trip to Paris. It was not the first one I printed, but after my post the other day I kept coming back to this one and decided that it was what I wanted to show.

I think the reason it did not jump out at me at first was because it doesn’t scream “Paris!”. The fact that it doesn’t “scream” at all is what I find so appealing about it.

This photograph was taken in Luxembourg Gardens on the second morning I was in Paris. The park was a short walk from our hotel and since I knew the gates had just opened I wanted to get over there before a lot of people showed up. This was one of the few trips out that I took my tripod so it was quiet and I worked slowly.

Looking back I can really zero in why I am drawn to this image. I often I felt overwhelmed in Paris. It’s a beautiful and very historic city but it also felt crowded and fast. (I know - I chose to go at the same time Paris was preparing to celebrate a major holiday - so what was I expecting?) I love cities but I also require a certain amount of quiet and alone time. Looking at this photograph I remember how I felt that morning - peaceful but excited at the same time as I walked around setting up my camera and carefully considering each exposure I made.

I also have an emotional attachment to this park. There were a couple of days that I wasn’t feeling great – traveling that far can be hard on your system. My kids had left for London so I suggested to my husband that he go and do whatever he wanted because I was going to sit in the park and rest. It was the best thing I could have done! I sat there most of the day with my IPod and a book. It was a Saturday so there were a lot of people there but it was so fun to people watch as well.

Some of our best meals occurred in the gardens. For my birthday we picked up sandwiches and drinks and found some benches and enjoyed the beauty of our surroundings. It was also where I wanted to go and eat on our last night in Paris.

I am really looking forward to working on a larger version of this image. I have a couple of more small prints I need to finish but I do think that “Morning in the Park” will be one of the first 16 x 20”s I hand-color. I can’t wait!

Monday, July 27, 2009


A job I both love and hate at the same time, is editing my photographs.

Since I got back from Paris I have been going over what I shot and weeding out the ones that just don’t cut it. Trying to decide if an image is worth printing and then coloring can be difficult. It doesn’t help that all kinds of emotions, thoughts and fears invade during this time to mess with my mind.

As most of you know, photography is my passion, but I also pursue it as a business. So when going through my photographs, thoughts like “will this be an image other people will like” are impossible to shut out. A little bit of this goes on when I am shooting but it’s really loud when I sit down and view everything on my monitor.

While I was in Paris I posted images on this blog and on Facebook. It seemed that the ones that got the most response were ones I thought of printing first. For the most part, these were all photographs I really liked as well, but I am finding it difficult to separate my own opinion from what I think other people want to see.

Other considerations include how much fun I think I could have working on a image and/or how difficult I think a particular photograph will be to hand-color. This became even more important when I made the decision to hand-color smaller prints first.

This decision was made for a couple of reasons. First, I like the idea of getting to know an image slowly. I can’t work on a lot of detail when I do the smaller ones so I am testing out colors and deciding what kind of mood I want to create. Second, I will be framing these small originals and offering them for $95 on my website and maybe on this blog. Each image will only be hand-colored once in the small size. After that, I start making larger prints and working with more detail.

While writing this, I have decided which image I want to work on next. It’s one I really like and I have a nice memory of when I shot it. I will share that in my next post.

In the meantime, if you are interested in being notified when these originals are available, sign up for my email newsletter if you haven’t already done so

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Travel Reflections - Digital vs Film

As many of you know, I had a hard time giving up film and the darkroom and only surrendered to digital when it became apparent that supplies and materials I had used for years would no longer be available. Once I made the transition however, I found a renewed sense of excitement and passion about photography that took me by surprise.

Well, after taking my first big trip with digital cameras there will be no turning back now.

Many of the advantages of shooting digital while traveling are pretty obvious. As someone who shot 3200 speed film and high speed infrared, the fact that I don’t have to worry about my film going through the x-ray machine is huge! Try explaining to someone that only speaks Italian that “I would appreciate it if you could hand search my film but pleeeease don’t open up the little black canisters marked IR!”

At the beginning of earlier trips I would have an eagle eye on my equipment. Toward the end of the trip it was the film that got all my attention. Sure I was still concerned about hanging on to my camera bag but losing my film would have been a disaster! I actually started putting my film in the hotel’s safe while I was in Italy.

My general lack of patience puts “instant gratification” at the top of my list of “Why I love Digital”. One of my favorite activities was coming back to the hotel and uploading the images from that day. (Only photo nerds can appreciate this!) This also helped me relax a bit. If at least a couple images showed potential, I was very happy!

Of course there are possible catastrophes lurking when shooting digital as well. Most of these relate to storage of files. I try to learn from other people’s mistakes and was very careful about backing up my images. In addition to uploading and saving files on my laptop, I also had a portable hard drive where everything was backed up to. As soon as I got home they went on my desk top and then a backup was made onto another external hard drive. The small portable hard drive is in a fire proof safe which is the same place I store my negatives. I am thinking of looking into offsite backup, but for now I am feeling pretty secure.

Something else that came up for me had to do with my shooting style. When I was shooting film, which meant I had a limited number of exposures, I gave a lot of thought to each and every image I made. Throw in a tripod and things would really start slowing down. I happen to believe that this helped me develop my ability to “see”. I knew in advance that time with my tripod would be limited but I was surprised to find that when I wasn’t using it, there was a tendency to fall into “point & shoot” mode. When I felt that happening, I would put the camera away and start using my eyes and my heart to “see” and then take it out again when it felt right.

So now it’s time to start working on the images I captured in Paris and I am sure I will be overcome once more with gratitude and excitement over what digital photography has given me. In the meantime, here is one more “before” image from my trip:

Pont Alexandre III

Monday, July 20, 2009

Say Cheese!

In an earlier post I discussed my concerns about combining a family vacation with my photographic needs and wants. Well, I am happy to report that it is possible and I think I have enough images to prove it.

Now, there is another liability to having a photographer on a vacation. The actual trip does not get recorded like it should. We had a lot of very memorable moments but most of them will stay in our minds instead of as pixels. This became very clear to my husband and me (the kids were in London), when we were on the “Fat Tire” bicycle tour of Paris. The tour guide kept taking us to places and then offering to photograph the couples and families in front of whatever famous site we were at. So here we were, everyone handing their cameras over to have their memories recorded and preserved, when I realized that we are the only ones on the tour without a camera! I had made the decision earlier that this was not an outing suitable for my heavy camera bag. It was during this time that I wished we had a point & shoot camera of some sort to at least join in with everyone!

I should mention that both of my kids brought cameras to Europe. My son was shooting with a manual Nikon FM film camera and my daughter was enjoying her new graduation present – a Nikon D40 – but for the most part they were focusing on capturing light, angles, and emotion instead of posed grins in front of instantly recognizable buildings, bridges and churches.

Realizing that I wanted some sort of proof that we were in Paris all together, I asked my daughter if she would take a few “snapshots” on my birthday. She agreed on the condition that they be somewhat spontaneous. What follows are a few of our "documentary" photographs. With the exception of this musical couple in Montmartre, a scene I could not resist, my daughter took all of these.

This cafe was down the street from our hotel and we usually started our day there and many times stopped by one more time before heading back for the night:

This was on my birthday - my wish was to photograph as much as possible that day and it was fun having my son claim I was "stealing" his shots!

This was taken at our favorite cafe (see above). The baby really looks like he is studying the menu!

Dinner on my birthday - a picnic in the park!

To cap off an amazing day - fireworks off of the Eiffel Tower! My birthday is on Bastille Day, one of the most important holidays celebrated in France. I got goose bumps watching these because I realized that this was a moment I had thought of for years and here it was really happening!

I will probably regret not having posed in front of the Louve, Jim Morrison's grave, Notre Dame, the Sacre-Coeur or any of the other grand and historical sites we visited, but every time I work on an image from this trip I will remember where I was, who I was with and how it felt to be there. That's all I really need.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Au Revoir Paris!

My last day in Paris and I wanted to send a quick update with more images than words.

It’s been a great trip with a perfect mix of family, fun, history and photography.

I am excited about doing further work on the photos from this trip. My photographs are really just a starting point. Almost like the sketch a painter makes. I have ideas and visions for what I want my final pieces to look like and I can't wait to get started on them.

So with that, here are a few more "before" shots from my trip:

This is another one of the photographs I took in Luxembourg Garden early on a drizzly morning.

Dianne Poinski

The next two images were taken on my birthday. It was the perfect day! My family just followed me around while I took photographs. Yes - I am spoiled!

The first one here is a street called Rue Suger, not far where we were staying.

Dianne Poinski

I found a vintage postcard of the gates of Parc Monceau on one of the first days I was in Paris. I declared that I wanted to go there before I left - so my wish was granted on my birthday. I was delighted to see what was behind the gates!

Dianne Poinski

Knowing that I will be working on these images from Paris in the coming months means I will be living with the memories of this adventure for a long time and I look forward to sharing them with all of you.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Paris - Finally!

I had a few internet issues but I am back online and wanted to share a little.

When you use frequent flyer miles you don’t really get the best choice of flights and my trip to Paris was no exception. We flew a red eye from San Francisco to Boston and then what was supposed to be 12 hour layover turned into a 16 hour layover! We tried to sleep at the airport but it was a challenge. My kids managed to claim a place where they were able to rest a little.

We finally arrived in Paris Monday afternoon!

After taking a much needed shower we went out to explore. Our hotel is a short walk to Luxembourg Gardens so even before eating my first meal in Paris I was in the park taking pictures.

Dianne Poinski

Wednesday morning I got up early and headed over there right when it opened. I wanted to be able to shoot with the least amount of people milling around. The fact that it was raining a little, made it even easier. I like soft light so it was perfect for the shots I wanted.

Dianne Poinski

The night before, we walked along the Seine and what trip to Paris would be complete without a photo of Notre Dame?

Dianne Poinski

Thursday was my son’s 20th birthday. We spent the day in the Montemare district which is historically fascinating for an artist. We saw the houses of Renoir, Toulouse-Lautrec and Van Gogh. Another treat was our visit to the Dali Museum. Later that day we ate French bread and cheese in a park at the foot of the Eiffel tower. My son thought it was a great way to spend his birthday.

I have over 5 full days left before we fly back. There is still so much to see and experience as well as photograph. I have to remember to savor and not rush. We have a day trip planned outside of Paris tomorrow. I am looking forward to getting out of the city and finding a completely different landscape to photograph. Stay tuned…………