Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Take Time To.................

Most of you know by now that the San Francisco Giants are the 2012 World Series Champions! What a ride! I am still feeding off of the energy and passion that was displayed during the game I was lucky enough to attend. However, now that it's over I am a little sad, but also eager to get back to work.

"Getting back to work" includes putting together my calendar for 2013 and I had some decisions to make.

When I first became obsessed with "iPhonography" I was doing it for fun. I felt free to explore and experiment and had no intention of ever offering these images for anything other than to view as 72 dpi jpgs on the display of your choice.

So I was surprised when people began to inquire about purchasing prints. This led to the decision to use  iPhone images in my calendar this year, and to put together a collection of small matted prints. I ordered my first "sample" calendar and have mats cut, but nothing is actually available yet.

When I began selecting the twelve images, I saw that even with my iPhone I was staying true to my desire to make photographs that give viewers a reason to slow down. This inspired me to add a different reminder every month in the form of  "Take Time To............".

Here is a small preview...................

I hope to have these available by next week, but that will depend on how good the sample looks when I get it. So stay tuned!

In the meantime, I want everyone on the east coast to know we are thinking of you and hoping the storm passes by quickly. Stay safe!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Sunflowers & Baseball.....................

I have been at my computer most of this week working in Photoshop and not my iPhone. I finally got a chance to process some of the images from the "Sunflower Workshop" I took in August.

Here is a sunflower quadtic (is that a word?) I put together yesterday.

©2012 Dianne Poinski

And that's about it.......... I am catching a train to San Francisco to have lunch with my son, then meet my husband at AT&T Park for......... yes....the World Series Game!

But before I go, I thought I would share at least one iPhone image.
 Took this on my walk Tuesday............


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Less Really Is More.............

Last week I conducted an experiment. Up until now, most of my iPhone images were processed using four or five different apps. This made it difficult to share what I was doing or to duplicate desired effects.

Another pitfall to this unorganized workflow was some apps reduce the resolution of your image and I decided that this was unacceptable.

So last week I began working only in Snapseed. This app, made by Nik Software, keeps the original resolution intact. (There is also a desktop version of this program, but I am only using it in my phone.)

One huge advantage to working this way is I am getting very familiar with everything this app has to offer. This includes the "Selective Adjustment" function. With this, you can zero in on one area and adjust the brightness, contrast and/or saturation of just that section of the image.

This past week, as I watched the San Francisco Giants claw their way to the World Series, I sat and reworked many images from earlier this year as well as some newer ones. Here are a few of them:

©2012 Dianne Poinski - "Bogle Vineyards"

©2012 Dianne Poinski - "Capitol"

©2012 Dianne Poinski "Along the Levy"

©2012 Dianne Poinski "Sutro Baths"

©2012 Dianne Poinski "Spring Tree"

There really is something to "less is more". In this case, using only one app instead of five felt very liberating. Having fewer decisions to make seems to fuel creativity in some strange way.

I am still settling into a workflow, but once I have a rhythm to how I am using this program I will share the steps I take to get the effects I want.

In the meantime, I will once again be on my couch cheering on my favorite team. Go Giants!!!!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Hope Valley...............

Most people around here know that every autumn, at a fairly high elevation, nature puts on a show of blazing color. A pilgrimage of artists, nature lovers, and simple appreciators of beauty descend upon the area known as Hope Valley during this time.

©2012 Dianne Poinski

Located at 7000 feet, conditions can change quickly. A strong wind, rain and even snow can bring all the leaves down in a short time. Knowing how difficult it can be to schedule the best time to be there, I was thrilled to discover that people were reporting peak color at the same time I had plans to visit.

We all know how busy life can get and relationships sometimes suffer because of it. An old friend of mine lives only 45 minutes away and we both have cell phones, yet months will go by without any contact. This relationship however, is one of those where we just pick up where we left off and it doesn't matter how much time has passed since our last visit.

Which is why when she called me out of the blue last week and suggested a little field trip to the mountains, I cleared my calendar and said YES!

I met Fay when our children were still in diapers and I often credit her for opening the door to my photographic journey. Sitting in her kitchen one day 20+ years ago, she mentioned a black and white photography class at the local community college she was thinking of taking. Would I be interested in joining her? Again I said YES!

So these two "stay at home moms" escape one night a week to bond under safe lights, and to say it changed my life would be an understatement. While Fay would go on to pursue other ventures, that one class for me led to another one and another one and...................

So I left Sacramento early Monday morning and met her in Placerville. From there we jumped into her Prius and headed up the hill.

It was a beautiful day! We filled the time during the drive catching up and anticipating what views would greet us when we reached the summit. We were not disappointed!

©2012 Dianne Poinski

After a fantastic lunch at Sorensen's Resort, we went exploring on foot.

©2012 Dianne Poinski

©2012 Dianne Poinski

©2012 Dianne Poinski

All of the images in this post were shot with my iPhone, but there is proof (see above) that I also had my Nikon with me. I haven't had time to upload those images yet.

Although I was enjoying myself tremendously, a running dialog going on in my head was fighting for attention. "I should be using my tripod". "I should be shooting more with my Nikon and less with my phone". "I should..........I should.........".

Then it dawned on me. This day wasn't about me or my photography. This was a day to celebrate a friendship that has endured even when life tried to get in the way. That thought quickly quieted the critical voice in my head and I was able to stay present and soak in all the beauty around me.

©2012 Dianne Poinski

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Worldwide Photo Walk............

This past Saturday I participated in Scott Kelby's annual "Worldwide Photo Walk". This is the 5th year, but my first time. Each walk has a leader that maps the trail, coordinates everything and is there for help and inspiration.

I signed up for a few reasons. First of all, my top reason was Sean Duggan was leading the walk in Nevada City, a quaint Gold Rush era town tucked away in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada (the location was another top reason.....).

I have been familiar with Sean's work for many years and the book he wrote with Katrin Eismann, "The Creative Digital Darkroom", has become one of the top "go to" resources in my bookcase.

I also felt that something as festive sounding as "Worldwide Photo Walk", would provide the perfect setting to continue my quest to "celebrate photography", and I was not disappointed. In fact, one of the first shots I made that morning suggests "celebration" in all languages. (The fact that these marked the entrance to a parking lot flea market did not dampen my celebratory mood at all.)

©2012 Dianne Poinski

Saint Canice Church was an early stop on our walk and probably one of the reasons we ran late the rest of the morning.

©2012 Dianne Poinski

©2012 Dianne Poinski

The whole morning felt like a scavenger hunt and I loved every step of it.

©2012 Dianne Poinski

©2012 Dianne Poinski

The only disappointment was the lack of fall colors in Nevada City. In a few weeks the town will probably be ablaze with color, but I did my best to seek out what I could.

©2012 Dianne Poinski

©2012 Dianne Poinski

One of the last stops was the old city cemetery. 

©2012 Dianne Poinski

Even though I had my Nikon slung around my neck, most of my images (including all of these) were made with my iPhone. I think a few months ago I would have felt self conscious about that (many people were even using tripods!), but I found myself not worrying about what other people might be thinking of me. (I do believe this shows tremendous personal growth.) I did laugh to myself however when someone thought at first my phone was a light meter..........

Thursday, October 11, 2012

One More Stroll....................

One last trip down memory lane..............

The box of portraits I found also contained quite a few prints of my own kids.  They were my guinea pigs when I was first starting out. It's a good thing too, because when I became serious about my photography I pretty much stopped taking "snapshots" and our family photo albums (or lack of) prove it.

They were good sports............for awhile. They eventually grew tired of it and usually ran the other way whenever I took my camera out.  I am very happy I took full advantage of the window of time I did have.

All the of the images that follow were made between 1993 and 1994 and printed in my "bathroom/ darkroom".


Our house in the foothills did not have a basement but it had a pretty spacious garage. I set up backdrops and lights and probably bribed my son to sit for this quiet moment.


I just happened to have a dress and a hat for my daughter to wear while visiting the beach one day.....

Hand colored................


My children's friends were also good sports. (Good chance another bribe occurred here..........)


This image is probably one of my all time favorite photographs of both my kids together. They continue to be close as adults which makes this mom very happy!

I think I am finished reminiscing about the past.  It's good to look back before moving forward and that's what I feel I have done here. I have clarity, energy, and focus and I am looking forward to sharing new work soon!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Going Way Back.................

Last week I shared about our big basement cleaning extravaganza, and included a short trip down  memory lane. Since I was on a roll, I decided to go through boxes in other parts of our house, including my home office.

One of the things I found, tucked safely away, was a box filled with some of my very first hand colored photographs. What made these first images special had to do with the way I numbered them.

Before I go further - a definition: Original Hand Colored Photograph - this is a black and white photograph that has been colored by hand (not in the computer) with pastels, photo oil paints and/or colored art pencils. When I shot film, I hand colored darkroom prints with photo oil paints. The switch to pastels happened after I began using a digital camera. 

When I first began showing and selling my work, I only offered original hand colored photographs. It would be a few years before I would make reproductions of these images.

I decided early on that I would only hand color the same image twenty five times. However, in the beginning I kept the first print I colored and then number subsequent prints from 1 - 25. (Keep in mind that these were all individually hand colored so they were really 1 of 1 - it was the image I was limiting.)

Since I was just starting out, I offered these originals at an extremely low price which resulted in quite a few of my early images selling out of the limited run of 25. Once digital reproductions came on the scene, I scanned the originals I had kept and began offering prints of the sold out images.

I eventually abandoned the practice of keeping the "original" original, and began selling the hand colored photographs that I scanned and used to create reproductions.

If all of this sounds terribly confusing, I apologize. In a nutshell, what I have are hand colored, darkroom prints of images that have not been available as originals for many years. After giving it some thought, I decided that instead of keeping these in boxes, I would begin offering a few of them as "Master Originals" and list them on my website.

I decided to share the first ones here. You may recognize some of the images since I have been showing reproductions of them for years. These are all gelatin silver (darkroom) prints, hand colored with Marshall Photo Oils. Click on the title for more information.

"Garden Gate"
Filoli Gardens; infrared image - 1997

"Mission Arches"
Mission in Santa Barbara - 1998

"Sand Dunes"
Outer Banks, North Carolina -  2000

"Village Street"
England - 1999

"Morning Fog"
McKinley Park, Sacramento - 1996

It's been interesting excavating work from the past. My style has changed in many ways. For example, I applied less color in the beginning. I believe a lot of the changes have been influenced by the different methods and tools I use now, but I would like to think that my work is still based on the desire to express with my art, feelings of calm, maybe a little mystery and appreciation of simplicity.

To think that I have gone from hours in the darkroom and then at the easel, to creating images with my cell phone blows me away, however, what hasn't changed is the passion and joy I experience making photographs. So very grateful..............................

Friday, October 5, 2012

Digging Deep...................

Note: This was originally posted on Thursday, but I discovered later that the final version was not the one that got "published". In its place was a very early, unfinished draft. Blogger was having some "issues" yesterday. Note to self: write in a "Word" document so you can trust that when you "save", it's really saving.

This past weekend we performed what I have started to refer to as an "archaeological dig". Before we began I simply said, "we are cleaning out the basement". Little did I know what an impact that act would have on me.

A little background: We moved into our house in November 1995. I was working as a bookkeeper at a local photography store, my children were 6 and 8 and we had downsized from a large house in the foothills to a much smaller, older home in town.

I quit that job six months after moving even though one of the reasons for the move involved reducing my commute. At this time I had already claimed the basement as my own and had set up a workspace to hand color, do Polaroid transfers and eventually conduct business. Five years later we would add a room to the house and I would move upstairs and relinquish control of the basement to my son. Soon a drum set, Play Station and other objects young teenage boys require would fill the space. He slept in his bedroom, but spent most of his "at home" time downstairs.

It wasn't long after he went to college that I began using the basement as the official "I will deal with this later" space. In other words, a holding cell for objects I wanted out of sight.  The amount of "objects" inhabiting this space grew tremendously this summer. It began with the moving, once again, of my studio. Only about a third of what I had in my previous space would go back to my current studio. You know what happened with the other two thirds........."I will deal with this stuff later...."

Then the cleaning out of our children's rooms began. Both my husband and I experienced the insensitive disposal of items left behind in our childhood homes and vowed not to be those kind of parents. Come to our house for Thanksgiving and you are almost guaranteed to hear the story of how my husband's mother threw away his prized comic book collection that today could finance that electric sports car he has his eye on. The point of this being...............anything our children did not take when they moved out was carried down to the basement "for now".

Pretty soon the space was so full of "stuff" that you could not get from the bottom of the stairs to the other side without tripping over something. This was unacceptable on so many levels but we knew the only way to take care of this was to schedule an entire weekend for the project.

In the space of two days we took 92 pounds of cardboard to the recyclers, 12 cans of paint to the waste disposal site and 6 boxes of old paperwork to the shredders. We also made 3 trips to the Goodwill drop-off station and filled the dumpster at my husband's office.

Our children's belongings are now neatly stored in containers; ready for them to go through the next time they visit. Everything else has been put away, but easily accessible.

It was a lot of work, but so worth it! (There is not a "before" photo. That would have been too embarrassing!)

Besides the boxes and bags recently placed downstairs, buried deep in desk drawers, file cabinets and stacked containers were reminders of the evolution of my photographic journey. Not only did I find evidence of how drastically technology has transformed the medium, but a record of how my business grew and changed was also unearthed.

So what did I find?
  • A book on building a home darkroom. Something I did not need sine the rental darkroom was less than a mile from my house.

  • Empty film canisters.

  • My "portfolio" from when I thought I wanted to be a children's portrait photographer when I grew up.

  • A box of cookie tins featuring one of the first images I ever licensed to a manufacturer. 

In addition to all of the above, I found a lot of reminders of my years on the art festival circuit. Old postcards, labels for images I have not shown since Clinton was president, receipts for items I bought that I didn't really need, and tons of books on how to "market" my photography that I never read.

This is when the "reflection" began. If I could do it all over again, what would I do differently? For one thing, I never regretted my decision to abandon the idea of being a portrait photographer. 

Participating in art festivals created many opportunities and forced me to grow as an artist, which I am grateful for, but I do have a few cringes of guilt for all the times I was away from home when my children were young. (One kind of amusing find was a slip of paper addressed to "my beloved family" with detailed instructions and a complicated schedule that had to be followed precisely if each child was where they were suppose to be that weekend. My husband will never be accused of not supporting my career..................)

How I handled my finances tops the list of changes I would make if I were given the chance for a "do-over". I would begin by being less concerned about doing the best shows, having the best booth and having more than enough inventory. I made a lot of expensive mistakes during that time that still haunt me today. (See above......."receipts for items I bought that I didn't really need......books I never read......." I could go on, but I won't.)

Which brings me to the present......................I am seriously considering the possibility I may never do another festival again. I have been known to change my mind, so let me be clear that no decision has been made. However, if someone were to hold a knife to my neck today and force me to say "yay" or "nay", there is a good chance there would be some Pro Panels on Craig's List soon.

I don't have to make any decisions right now, but the cleaning of my basement freed up space not only in my house, but also in my head. With space comes clarity which usually brings change of some sort, so stay tuned.......................

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Update - Project 365

There are only 3 months left to complete my Project 365 (this was a leap year so it's really 366...) This is a partial view of September's images.

It will be December 31st before we know it and I have mixed feelings about this almost being over. I know I will miss it, but I am also finding it more challenging than it was in the beginning.

It's easy to find great shots when you are having little adventures like trips to San Francisco or kayaking. However, there were many days this month where my routine was off and all of a sudden it would be 5:00 and I would realize that I didn't have my "picture of the day" yet!  This is what happened on September 27th (I had to be somewhere at 6:00).

©2012 Dianne Poinski

We had family visiting this month and on September 23rd we had tickets to a performance in the afternoon and then plans to go out to dinner. There is a house on the corner where my mother-in-law lives that has been condemned and I guess will be demolished soon.

Knowing we were just going to be at her house for a couple of minutes (we were picking her up), I said hi, and quickly excused myself and walked down the street to get my "shot" for that day.

©2012 Dianne Poinski

We also spent a lot of time cleaning and clearing out rooms in our house this month. (See above - house guests........) While going through a desk I found this pocket watch. That was my one and only shot that day (September 14th).

©2012 Dianne Poinski

One of the things I love most about this project is you never know where inspiration will hit. One morning (September 10th) I went over to our old city cemetery to photograph and possibly get my image of the day. The light was bad and I wasn't really "feeling" it but I tried to squeeze something out of being there.

It was only after leaving and driving down the road that I found what I wanted. I spotted an old trailer parked in an insurance office's parking lot. I did a U-turn and after making sure no one was in the trailer,  I made this image of these great vintage curtains.

©2012 Dianne Poinski

Because flowers are beautiful to begin with, I sometimes feel like I am cheating when I photograph them for this project. However, having a fairly steady supply of grocery store bouquets has come in very handy at times. Like the day after I broke my toe (September 6th)...............................

©2012 Dianne Poinski

Or the morning before we put everything back after having the living room painted (September 13th)...........

©2012 Dianne Poinski

I know I have mentioned this before, but there are times where I start out with the intention of getting my "pic of the day" with the iPhone, only to be so satisfied with what I captured that I also pull out my Nikon and shoot the same scene.

That is what happened with some flowers I bought at the food co-op. These are my iPhone shots for September 20th and 21st but I may share the Nikon versions some day as well.

©2012 Dianne Poinski

©2012 Dianne Poinski

So that's the September wrap! Prepare to see many "autumn images" as we head into October and November..........................................

Note: all images were shot and processed with my iPhone 4s. Snapseed was used and possibly Iris Photo Suite, FocalLab and/or Vintique.