Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Doesn't Get Much Better Than This..................

©2010 Dianne Poinski

Two activities high on my list of "fun things to do" are spend time with my children and take photographs. Can you imagine the joy I felt on Monday when I got to do both?

My son took the train home for the weekend in case he got called for jury duty on Monday. While he did not have to go in that day, he is still technically “on call” (he has to check back Thursday night). He needed to go to work on Tuesday so I drove him back to San Francisco on Monday.

Wanting to extend that trip as much as possible, I suggested we take some back roads and go on a “photo scavenger hunt”.

We started out looking for wildflowers east of Dixon at the Jepson Prairie Preserve. Not only were we underwhelmed, but it became dark and rainy while we were there. We decided to head west toward the hills of Vacaville and Fairfield.

For most of the year these hills are a California gold, but come spring, after a healthy dose of rain like we had this winter, they turn a most vibrant and delicious shade of green. Add some clouds and trees and I am in photography heaven!

As we drove, we were so close but still so far away. We took a couple of frontage roads and pulled over one or two times when we found turnouts, but fences and wild turkeys prevented us from really getting to the best vantage point.

We soon found ourselves in a neighborhood in Fairfield and following my son’s instructions (even though he had no idea where we were), turned and followed the suburban road up the hill until it ended. And there it was! A gate that opened up to a trail and acres of open space with wildflowers, trees and just like I ordered – clouds!

Here I was, surrounded by majestic views, the wind whipping around me, feeling such peace and joy that I wish I could have bottled it for later.

©2010 Dianne Poinski

My son is not really a landscape photographer and I think he started out the journey willing to humor me a bit, but he told me later that he had a great time.

He has earned a well deserved reputation as the “go to” guy for skateboard photography. He usually gets paid with merchandise, but his resume sports a pretty extensive list of small publications where his images have been featured.

When I have days like this, I usually don’t care if I get any photographs worthy of printing. It’s truly a case of it being about "the journey and not the destination”. As it turned out, I was happy with a few of them and may do my “coloring” thing on one or two later, but I really wanted to just share some of the happiness I felt that day.

©2010 Dianne Poinski

A day spent taking pictures with my son - doesn’t get much better than that……………..

Friday, March 26, 2010

Teaching My First "Photography" Class

Teaching a class in camera and photography basics never occurred to me, however, a student from one of my hand-coloring classes planted the seed and I watched it grow. Thank you Melinda!

Melinda’s husband bought her a wonderful new camera for Christmas and she wanted to learn to do more with it then leave it on automatic. Since I was fairly certain there were other people with the same desire, I sent out an email announcing my new class and before I knew it, 6 people signed up! Now what?

I am very honest about the fact that I am not a “technical” photographer. There are a lot of things I don’t understand about what digital cameras can do, but I have taught myself more than enough to get by. I decided I would use that approach and simply show them the features I use, while explaining basic photography terms like “depth of field”, “shutter speed” and “aperture”.

I had each student email me the name of the camera they would be bringing and then set out to learn what I could about those DSLR’s. I downloaded and printed the pages from their manuals I thought were important and highlighted what we would be talking about.

The class started inside my studio where they got comfortable with their equipment.

After that, we left for my first “field trip” to Capitol Park, a few blocks from my studio in downtown Sacramento.

It was the perfect day! Trees and flowers were blooming, it was a little breezy (they learned the importance of choosing the right shutter speed) and a slight cloud cover created the best “softbox in the sky” we could have asked for. On top of that, just being out with this wonderful group of people was so much fun! We laughed, they helped each other, they asked great questions and took a lot of very awesome photographs.

On Sunday we all came back and uploaded their cards to my computer and spent the afternoon looking at the images and reviewing the concepts from Saturday. Everybody agreed that looking at their photographs as a group, helped cement much what we had covered the day before.

Bob, Terry, Lee Ann, Penny, Teresa and Melinda – Thank You!! Your passion, enthusiasm and desire to learn, inspired me in so many ways and for that I will always be grateful.

Coming soon………some of the images made that weekend…………..

Friday, March 12, 2010


This is not my flower garden, but I wish it was.

There is one thing that has become crystal clear in the last few weeks and it has to do with time and my relationship with it. I am often overwhelmed, discouraged, and fragmented. This is not new information – I have shared this before - but having these little “side jobs” is not helping. I can’t seem to find my rhythm.

I am being encouraged by some wiser, more experienced entrepreneurs to schedule more down time. On more than one occasion in the last few weeks I have been asked the question “what do you do for fun?” My immediate response usually has something to do with my photography, but I am learning that there might be a better answer.

With the help of a "time tracking" website I found called, I recently discovered that the actual time I spend working on “photography” is very small when compared to the other tasks I have to do to keep my studio doors open. Some of this information is very illuminating, but at the same time it’s also painful.

So what does all of this have to do with “Gardening”? Everything.......

Every year I long to have a beautiful garden with flowers, vegetables and herbs. Every year I think the same thing…………."who has time for that?" I am not kidding when I say “every year”. Not just the last couple of years, but probably the last 10 years or maybe more.

Now if I had a friend that came to me and said “I really want to (fill in the blank) but I don’t have time” I would probably council them to listen to their heart and rearrange their priorities so they could find the time to do what they wanted to.

I haven’t been so kind with myself. After all, I have a financial tunnel to dig out of and the only way to do that is by working my ass off. Right.....? This is just the kind of thinking that got me into this mess.

So in this very public forum I am going to share my attempts to transform my ugly side yard into (and I am going to be very realistic here)…….just something nicer.

No grand illusions. I just want to start something and maintain it. It would be my tendency to want to dive in, spend money and burn myself out. No……………I want to enjoy this and for once change “every year” into “this year I began it…………”

It won’t hurt to have more flowers to photograph either…….. And I don’t care what other people say – when I am photographing flowers, I am in the “zone” and I do not consider that to be “work”.

PS I would like to thank Egmont over at "Four Seasons in a Life" for featuring me on his blog. Check out this wonderful site and make sure your speakers are on!

Friday, March 5, 2010

How Did I Get Here? (Originally Posted in June 2008)

I am recycling again. It's been a crazy week and I have a class tomorrow, but in light of the post I did last week about my bookkeeping job, I thought it would be fun to rerun a post I made in June of 2008 that tells a little bit of my story.

I was not one of those people who dreamed of becoming an artist as a child. I also did not dream about a career as an accountant either, but that’s where I was headed. Anybody familiar with Julia Cameron’s book “The Artist’s Way” knows about the limiting belief that there can only be one artist in a family.

My brother laid claim to that title at a very young age. His talent was evident even as a preschooler. My brother, Joe Murray, went on to create and produce award winning animated shows such as “Rocko’s Modern Life” for Nickelodeon and the Emmy winning “Camp Lazlo” for Cartoon Network. On top of all that (and more important) he is an amazing father to his two daughters and the best brother a girl could ask for. He is currently working on an independent animated film titled “Fish Head”. Can you tell how proud I am of him?

While his career path was fairly direct, it was unusual because he never worked a job that did not involve his art. He never got to experience the joys of waiting on tables or making coffee for the guy that signed your paycheck. My own path, on the other hand, could have circled the planet a couple of times. Since I was not the “artist” in the family or the “athlete” (that would be my sister), I was the designated book worm. Every family has one – don’t they? I loved to read and still do. I was also fairly good in math so a business degree seemed to make sense.

I attended junior and state colleges up and down the state of California and when I was in my mid thirties and the mother of two adorable preschoolers, I finally ended up at Sacramento State University. Here I was, on track to fulfilling my requirements for an accounting degree, when I decided to take a photography class to satisfy an art requirement.

I had taken photography classes before and loved to take pictures of my kids but something about this class, taught by Ralph Talbert, ignited something in me that many would say was an obsessive but passionate love of photography. I could not get enough. I was the first to come to class and the last to leave. I read all the books I could get my hands on and even talked my husband into turning one of our bathrooms into a darkroom.

It would be a few years before I would actually sell a photograph I made, but that’s another story........

I never did get my accounting degree but I am one of the few artists I know that can do their own sales tax return!