Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Project 365..........

Many of you have probably heard of "Project 365".   This is where you take a photo a day (at least....) as not only a way to chronicle your year, but to also increase your awareness of the beauty and interest in the everyday. (That is a whole other blog post......)

I quietly committed to this project after seeing how much joy I was getting out of shooting with my iPhone.

Today marks the end of January, so I thought I would share a few of the highlights, (in random order), from the first 31 days of 2012. I will talk more about this project later, but I do remember that this is "less words, more images Tuesday", so I will leave it at that........................

January 24, 2012 - Starbucks parking lot........

January 22, 2012 - Bowls (rainy day outside......)

January 10, 2012 - leaf pile.........

January 6, 2012 - seeing red........

January 23, 2012 - Reflections.......

January 18, 2012 -  McKinley Park.......

Technical note: These were all shot and processed in my iPhone using the "Instagram" app........

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Afraid, But Willing...........

I sometimes joke that one of the reasons I am a photographer is that I prefer to be behind a camera, not in front of it.  I am not comfortable having my picture taken. The first time I was asked to supply a headshot I had my daughter take it. I have been using that same one for almost 10 years. I am starting to feel a little guilty about that since, well you know..............I am in my 50's now. Enough said.

The photo on my blog is of me with the camera in front of my face. A pretty standard photo for a photographer, and one I feel very comfortable showing.

In keeping with my intention to connect and share more this year, I signed up for Susannah Conway's Photo Meditations course. I loved the tag line....."Infusing Your Images With Soul". Since it began, I have learned so much and have been inspired by not only Susannah, but also by the many talented photographers that are participating and sharing as well.

Of course all the assignments are optional and that was my first thought when she began talking about self portraits this week. Not interested.....sorry, not enough time. But I soon realized that there was a reason why I was resisting and a reason why this assignment is included in the course. This is what she wrote: "We are worthy of being seen... by ourselves and the world.............If we are willing to share our self portraits with others we are in effect saying: here, look at me." This terrifies me and goes against every rule I was taught growing up. I heard "Don't get too big for your britches" many times as a child. As a result I would much rather blend into the woodwork than be noticed. It may also explain why I am much more comfortable sharing my mistakes and struggles (my debt, creative blocks, etc), than I am showing a photograph of myself.

But don't we share a little bit about ourselves with every image we make? I know we do, but I could also use that as an excuse. So I decided to work on the assignment. What follows is a progression of sorts. I start out timidly. A reflection in a puddle - that works doesn't it?

Growth was not going to occur if this was as far as I got in the assignment. So I became a little braver and a little more creative.  I dedicate this image to my old phone. I call it my "Android" shot. (If you have one of these phones you will know why.)

Then something strange started to happen. I was having fun! I had gone upstairs to put something away in the medicine cabinet when I noticed the light and my reflection in the round mirror that comes off the wall. Now that would be interesting......(actually bathroom shots are very common).  So I ran downstairs, got my camera phone and started playing some more.

In some ways I may still be hiding a bit. I found I felt better about the shots of me with my reading glasses. I also think sharing something about your environment is important. Yes - I have an iPod dock in almost every room of my house (the rooms I use anyway).

I had trouble deciding if I was even going to write this post. Why would anyone want to see photos of me? But that's not what this is about. It's part of my story and my creative journey. The fact that I am even willing to do this, says quite a bit. (If you are reading this, it means I clicked  "Publish" which I haven't done yet.......)

PS - If you want to play with this or already have a self portrait, leave me a link where I can see them. It's only fair................

PPS - I discovered that if you use the feature on the iPhone that turns the camera around so it's looking at you, the file size is much smaller, which reduces the quality of the image. Maybe there is a button or something that changes that. Does anyone know?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Story Time.........

The topic this week over at Kim Klassen's Texture Tuesday was "story". The challenge was to share an image that included one of her textures that tied into that theme. Not sure if it's cheating or not, but this week I am sharing two images........ and I describe the reason why, later in this post.

My first thought was "this will be easy, I love using books in my photographs" and it didn't take long to find one that I thought would work.

©2012 Dianne Poinski

For this image I used one of my favorite textures, "Just Cause". I used it twice - once with the "Soft Light" blending mode at 100% and then again with the "Multiply" blending mode set at 19%.

But then I started thinking..................

In addition to participating in Kim's Tuesday challenges, I also signed up for her year long "Beyond Layers" e-course. The topic for the first week of "Beyond Layers" was "story", which inspired her to incorporate the theme into Texture Tuesday.

We were asked to share our creative story, and feeling like I had shared that to some extent before on my blog, I chose to link to the post: "How Did I Get Here?".

With all of this swirling around in my mind, I decided to take the challenge of Texture Tuesday one step further..............In one of my recent cleaning frenzies, I came across an old photo album I received after my mother died. I do believe that photographs, especially old photographs, can be the opening line of any story.

For my "part 2" of the Texture Tuesday challenge, I took one of my favorite pages of the album, photographed it and used Kim's "Water Stained Frame" texture.  I used the "Normal" blending mode at 100% and then used a layer mask to reveal the underlying image of the album page.

The one on the upper left corner of me with my brother and our father brings a smile to my face, but I also have a special fondness for the other photographs of my brother with our dad.

These photographs remind me that all our stories begin with "once upon a time.........". The deepness and history represented by these images also reminds me of the important role photography plays in all our lives. So please.......get the photographs you cherish off your computer and into print some how. Someone 50 years from now could be inspired to share their story because you did.

The End...(for now)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Another Update...........

©2012 Dianne Poinski

I am back to work on the book..........with a few changes, which I will explain. (For those of you new to my blog, I have been talking about doing a book of floral images for a long time and may be finished just "talking" about it soon.)

Taking a step back was the best thing I could have done. Ideas, revelations and inspiration surrounding this project came to me several times during the little break I took last month. One light bulb moment occurred when I realized that I could add 20+ pages to the current configuration I was putting together through Blurb, and the price would stay the same!

What happened next was the equivalent of an entire chandelier lighting up. The former layout of the book consisted of two parts. The first part featured older film images, printed in the darkroom and hand colored with Marshall's photo oil paints. The second part included recent digital images, hand colored with PanPastels.

After realizing I could add a third part, memories of the time spent last summer hand coloring many many prints and being frustrated at times, came flooding in. One aspect of hand coloring that I don't talk about very often is that not all images lend themselves easily to hand coloring. Actually what I could say, is not all images should be hand colored. There were many prints last summer that were abandoned when it became clear that hand coloring would not express my vision for that image and in many cases, would do more harm than good.

I attempted to hand color all three of the images in this post (as well as many more...) and experienced what I described above. In some cases there were multiple attempts, each time trying something different and getting the same result. My studio mate JJ, would be happy to describe my mood swings last summer to anyone that will listen. Trust me, you will feel sorry for her..........

©2012 Dianne Poinski

All of this information helped me come to the conclusion that the third part of the book would be of toned black and white images! This decision has filled me with renewed passion and excitement for the project.

The next week or two will be spent processing more black and white images.  Then I will upload these to Blurb, along with the new and improved versions of the hand colored images. The next step will be to order another copy and wait patiently (or not) for UPS to deliver it.

©2012 Dianne Poinski

Thank you to all of you that have shared this journey with me. The end may be in sight.................

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

New Place To Explore.......

This weekend I made two trips out to the Yolo Wildlife Area which sits between Sacramento and Davis. This public area of restored wetlands is a prime birdwatching spot as well as a treat for photographers.

Usually, most of this area would be inaccessible this time of year. (Which I guess is one of the only good things you can say about our lack of rain.)

I photographed there on Friday with a friend of mine.  We caught the late afternoon light as well as the sunset. It was warm and still. A beautiful day!

I went back on Sunday with my husband who is an avid birder. The wind had picked up and it was cold.......very windy and very cold (at least to this California girl....). Still managed a few shots, but did not stay too long.

Here are three of my favorite images from the weekend. Good chance one or more of these will be hand colored at some point.

©2012 Dianne Poinski

©2012 Dianne Poinski

©2012 Dianne Poinski

Have fun exploring new spots in your area!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Never Mind...............

If you have been reading my blog for any length of time, you were probably expecting this post. I didn't expect it quite so soon, but here it is anyway.

Forget what I said last week about not reproducing my hand colored originals. I take it back.

I recently began the huge project of organizing and reworking most of my current images. In some cases, (especially for the flower photographs), I went back to the original scan, and armed with some new Photoshop knowledge and tools, created files that I am feeling pretty good about. It was a lot of work, but I know it was worth it. I replaced every single image on my website with what I believe are higher quality jpgs. These jpgs came from the larger files that I will use for the book and for reproductions (prints) of the originals.

What happened to change my mind? A few things...........First of all, I discovered that I can save money if I simply have images scanned without requiring a printed proof (which comes after they have spent quite a bit of time making adjustments in color, contrast etc.). I usually end up making my own adjustments anyway, so why not just start from the raw scan?

Second, like I mentioned above, the files I have now appear to be of a much higher quality than what I was working with before. The true test will come when I order the next "proof book". More about that later.

Third and probably the most important reason is, I think I was fooling myself into believing I could take any image and create in the computer what my mind was envisioning without hand coloring. I know other people probably can, but I am not that good at Photoshop and the truth is I don't want to spend that much time on the computer. If I throw out the financial and quality issues, I can't think of a good reason to not to have scans made of my hand colored originals.

A picture is worth a thousand words and this image is partially responsible for my change of heart. I hand colored "Morning in the Park" shortly after my trip to Paris in 2009. There are a few more shots from that outing that would make good "mates" to this image. Rather than printing those out as black and white photographs and hand coloring them, I thought I would try to make them look like a set with digital adjustments instead.

I tried for hours and it just didn't work. First I will show the digital version and then the hand colored one.

©Dianne Poinski - digital version

©Dianne Poinski - Hand Colored

This is not the first time I have tossed this idea around, but I always come back and remember that not only do I love the physical act of hand coloring, it's the look and feel of the finished product that makes me happy.

A final note: One thing I am playing around with more is leaving my black and white images alone and not hand coloring them. I am actually participating in a group show in March where I will be showing strictly black and white photographs for the first time in many many years. This was my first love before I started hand coloring, so it seems natural.  I am sure I will have more to share about that later, but for now I think I should stop thinking so much and go make art!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

"Embrace" Texture

In my post last week, I mentioned that one of my intentions for the new year was to experiment, share and connect with other photographers. So after many months of viewing from the sidelines, last week I jumped in and participated in Kim Klassen's Texture Tuesday for the first time. It was great fun and I have already met and discovered the work of so many talented photographers/artists.

Every week Kim introduces a texture and the challenge is to create an image using at least one layer of that texture and then share it on the site. This week's texture is "Embrace". I used that along with two other textures - "Portrait" and "Yesteryear" in this image from my trip to Jenner (where the Russian River meets the Pacific Ocean). I will also show what it looked like before I processed it.

© 2012 Dianne Poinski
Kim Klassen textures used: Embrace, Portrait & Yesteryear


Happy Tuesday!

P.S. If you are at all interested in using textures with your photographs, I highly recommend checking out Kim's tutorials.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Looking Forward...................

The first week of the new year! Everything is fresh and it almost feels like you left your baggage behind and stepped over into a sea of new possibilities. I want that feeling to last, but it usually starts to fade around the middle of January.

In my "Looking Back....." post I reflected on the past year by pointing out what went well while trying to find positive lessons in the less successful ventures. It was a good exercise, but now it’s time to look forward.
Last week I mentioned the word "simplify". I have decided to have that be my "word of the year" and to use it to guide and influence any planning I do.  After looking back at the past year, I was faced with the glaring reality that I have been trying to do too much. (A few of you may be chuckling to yourself thinking "she is just now figuring that out?") I have been feeling scattered for awhile and I am tired of it. 
  ©2012 Dianne Poinski "iPhoneography"
So in my quest for a little less overwhelm, I am making a few changes and declaring a few new intentions. I will probably talk more about each one later, but for now I think I just need to get them out of my head and listed in some sort of format.
  •  I will no longer scan original hand colored photographs to make prints.
    New images will be processed digitally and prints will be made from those files. Black and white prints will still be made and hand colored, but they will not be reproduced. This decision came from information I shared in an earlier post about "the book".
  • Speaking of the book......................I hope to have that really finished by Valentine's day.
  • I need to take some time and organize my images. I sometimes spend hours looking for files and it's not how I want to spend my time..........
  • I am closing my Imagekind "shop", but for now I will still offer images on Fine Art America. That may go away as well.......not sure yet.
  • I want my focus this year to be about learning and experimenting and then sharing what I discover through workshops, videos and posts on my blog.
  • Finally, I would like to spend more time connecting with other like minded photographers and artists in person and online.
That's about it! I am sure more will surface, but I am feeling very clear and excited, but I can't leave without sharing one more iPhone image. (Seriously, this is way too much fun......)
©2012 Dianne Poinski "iPhoneography"
PS: You may have noticed I took "Hand Colored" out of the name of the blog. This does not mean I will no longer hand color.  I just want to feel free to share about all forms of photography here and not limit myself. Again, this is something I will probably talk about in a future post, but for now I just want to make it clear that hand coloring is still my main form of expression and I plan to continue to do it for as long as I can. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Enjoying the Weather..............

Happy New Year everyone!

We just had the fourth driest December on record and while I know we need the rain, I have been out (with my iPhone) enjoying the mild weather.

For my first "less words, more images" post of 2012, I thought I would share a few of the images I took over the holiday weekend.

New Year's Eve  - Consumnes River Preserve
©2012 Dianne Poinski

New Year's Day - American River Parkway
©2012 Dianne Poinski
New Year's Day - American River Parkway
©2012 Dianne Poinski

Hope you all had a wonderful holiday!