Saturday, February 11, 2017

Preparing Popsie's Pens

My husband is terrific with wood - he has made many fun things from cradles to a puppet theatre to a giant tractor that now lives on our front lawn - and he recently discovered the art of making wooden pens.  He's enjoying the variety of woods that he can craft the pens from as well as the varied looks that he turns out.  I recently posted some of his pens on Facebook and he immediately got a few sales, so I thought it would be fun to document the process of pen making and let folks know how they might purchase one.

It's interesting to see all the pieces and parts and the effort that goes into forming the tubes that become the pens. He has to select the exact drill bit (and he has MANY to select from)

 Here he is positioning the drill on a tiny X

It's a delicate maneuver. He actually has to go up and down several times so the sawdust doesn't accumulate and mess up his work.

The smoothing process is interesting to see. I know I'd have bumps all over mine if I tried it. He uses a chisel and fine sandpaper and then feels it for bumps, then he uses some "magic stuff" to make it shine.

People have asked me if they can get one, but there are so many different colors and styles  - I don't know how to choose one for somebody else.  He's charging between $30 and $60 depending on how much the parts cost and how much work he has to put into it.

Can you see how hard it is to choose one?  They really are all very nice!

Below are some he just made with the prices. If you are interested in buying one, please contact him at Thanks for reading about this cool project!
These are $60 plus tax and shipping because of the type of wood that was used and the extra work that went into them.
These pens are $35 plus tax and $2. shipping.
These pens are slimmer and go for $25. plus tax and shipping.

Monday, January 30, 2017

I was speaking to an author friend, Susan Nelson, this morning at yoga, and realized that I used to be a regular blogger but I have fallen behind rather badly.

So, let me tell you about an inspiring day I got to experience recently with the famous photographer, Art Wolfe. If you don't know who he is or what he has photographed, do yourself a favor and check out his website or watch one of his classes at CreativeLive.

Years ago, a photographer and conservationist who I was fortunate enough to a student of and then  friends with, Robert Rodriguez, Jr., told me that Art Wolfe was someone who he followed and admired. I checked out Art's website at the time and got on his mailing list and purchased some of his books and have been a huge fan ever since. I even based a Landscape workshop that I prepared (and will be giving at Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center this May 15th) using some of his images to show concepts like line, form, design, etc.

Six months ago I saw that he was coming here to Austin to speak about "Photography As Art." His website describes this as a talk about his evolving as a photographer, using his art background to create new kinds of images.

Despite being well informed about much of what he discussed, I found his talk inspiring, entertaining and frankly, exhilarating.  While showing his spectacular images (to an intimate audience of true fans) which have been taken all over the globe, he spoke of photography as a documentary process, as well as having scientific research applications. He showed how he's used design tools, such as context, patterns, textures, repetitive forms, use of positive and negative space in his images and how he is seeking to use those same tools as well as use imagination to craft new images.

He showed images from artists, deKoonig, Haas, Miro, Monet, Pollack and showed the rhythm,movement and intent in their images and how he is attempting to "frame the chaotic choreographies" of those authors.

I loved his images on positive and negative space.

 He discussed his project on abstract expressionism. Exploring the concept of relationships, Art embarked on a unique project, painting his subjects and allowing them to blend into the background.

He told of how he originally came up with the concept, after having visited tribes that paint themselves for different ceremonies or as rites of passage.  All of his images were absolutely awesome to see and to hear his stories of how they came about and what it took to make them happen.

 He challenges us, his audience, to go out and find the markings of society and look at all of our surroundings with a closer, more attuned eye to see what lies beneath the surface.

He took the time to answer all of our questions and even allowed us to have our picture taken with him. For me, Art Wolfe is a larger than life character who has lived the dream and shares his world with those of us who can only imagine. Sometime I hope that my images will inspire others to go out and see life through their camera lens or to provide a view of things that some might not ever see. Thanks, Art Wolfe, for offering me a window into your world. Here's to those who give so generously of themselves that we might evolve ourselves into better, more artistic people.

It's a beautiful day - get out and shoot some lovely images, friends!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Just Want to Share a Secret Tool

My friend, graphic designer, photographer, speaker and author, Mark Heaps, helped develop a brand new plug-in for Light Room that helps with editing your photos.  The plugin, called Reactive Exposure, can be found by going to and it changes the way you edit your images and costs only $29!

The Plug-in is designed to "speak natively with Adobe Lightroom" by adjusting the Luminosity and Tone controls as a response to Exposure controls.

I have been playing with this plug in a lot this past week. I've been going back in my archives finding images that I took a few years back that I probably should have tossed, since they seemed to have very little information in them, but I guess I was waiting for something that "brought them back to life."  I start out the Reactive Exposure plug-in and try to determine how the image looks like it has the "correct" exposure. I then make adjustments from there, opening up shadows, decreasing highlights as I feel the image needs.  Here are some of my before and afters.

As I stated, the first picture is really very blah and probably should have been deleted. The second image still wouldn't win any awards, but look at all the detail I was able to get from it by using the plug in. 
Again, I was able to pull a lot more detail from the landscape above than I had originally been able to get from it. 

The plug-in doesn't work for every single photo but it seems to bring me to a better "starting point" in images that have a very dynamic range and I'm not sacrificing colors or details. I'm going to keep on using this plug-in and I am excited to share my findings with fellow photographers.

Let's all keep on showing the beauty in this world, cause lately all we seem to be seeing is the bad.

Keep on photographing, friends!

Some Inspiring Photographer Heroes

I've been preparing for a Landscape Workshop at Precision Camera in the Fall and getting my PowerPoint presentation ready. I started out with some of my favorite quotes and my friend Stephanie Sharif suggested I add photos of the people who spoke the inspiring words and perhaps an image that person is known for.

So, I researched George Eastman - and I was thrilled to read about his life - did you know that not only did he invent the first roll of film and the first actual camera, he was a major philanthropist, giving money to the arts, music, medicine and education including historically black universities in the south.
“Light makes photography. Embrace light. Admire it. Love it. But above all, know light. Know it for all you are worth, and you will know the key to photography.” - George Eastman
Wow! I'm impressed!  Another quote I've stumbled on and loved was from Elliott Erwitt:

“To me, photography is an art of observation. It's about finding something interesting in an ordinary place... I've found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.”   -Elliott Erwitt
 Although I didn't learn a whole lot about Mr. Erwitt, besides he was born in Paris and had an amazing career as an esteemed Magnum photographer since 1953. He has captured many of life's most poignant ironies using a touch of humor through his brilliant black and white photography. I encourage you to look at some of his work - it is something I believe we can all immediately identify with.

Dorothea Lange is another important photographer who has influenced my work. It was fun finding a photo of her and reading about the challenges she faced after having survived polio at age 7. It left her leg and foot weakened and yet she was able to make a living documenting Native Americans and folks affected by the Great Depression.

“Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still.”  
    Dorothea Lange  

As much as I've loved learning about some heroes, I am also enjoying putting together my notes to tell people about the joy of landscape photography and what they can do to improve their own images.  I hope you might be able to join us in September. Keep an eye out for the scheduling of this class.

In the meantime, keep shooting, friends!
by Chris Davis Cina

Monday, May 16, 2016

Visiting Vivacious Venice

I just returned from an exciting two week tour of Italy. Naturally I am inundated with all of the pictures I took. Thankfully, there are many good ones, and many fond memories of a wonderful trip.
I've spent the day trying to select a handful to make a book.  This was quite a challenge. I don't seem to be able to get past our first three days in Venice. 

We received a Rick Steves book on Italy as a Christmas present from a dear friend who was planning a trip of her own.  While the book was chock full of good information, we were somewhat overwhelmed with choosing which great things to see and do. I thought "I wish this Rick Steves would just offer a tour" and when I googled his name, I discovered that he does. ( Not him personally anymore (although he still does do some tours) but he has a whole big company that provides tours all over the world.

We were serenaded by this gentleman on an evening gondola ride. Everyone sang along.

So we booked ourselves on a tour in the Spring - at first we wanted April but, 8 months in advance it was already filled up. So, we chose the first week in May, and it was just perfect! Spring in Italy where the flowers were blooming and the weather was perfect!

Not sure what is more beautiful - nighttime in Venice or daytime.

Venice is a city that has no cars - everything is done by boat - even trips to the hospital. The city is filled with charming bridges and beautiful architecture. There are so many great restaurants and shops filled with masks, Murano glass, gelatos, pastries and pizzas.

There are more museums and churches than one can see in 3 days, so I'm hoping we get to go back someday.

The Rick Steve's tour included 28 of us hearty souls, who were led by a wonderful guide, Colleeen Schaeffer. Colleen had us hit the ground running with a walking tour and dinner immediately after an orientation meeting.

In the next few days we had local guides show us art and explain the evolution of different art practices. We got another walking tour and visits to St. Mark's Square, the only piazza in Venice and we saw many "Campos" and neighborhoods built around churches. We took a boat ride to colorful Burano where they specialize in lace products.  650 photographs later I am still smitten by Venice. Just thought I would share some with you. Now I've got to move on and sift through the images of Florence, Rome, Naples, Sorrento, Positano, Amalfi, Ravello and Capri. Poor me.

St. Mark's Square.

Thanks for visiting - keep on shooting your own special memories!

Monday, March 7, 2016

I Always Learn Something in a Photo Class

I think I was born to be a student - I love learning as much as I can about photography, and, even though I've been practicing the craft for years, and taking numerous classes over time, I still find there is so much more to learn.

Recently I debated taking a Macro Class at Precision Camera with Scott Sitkiewitz. I've been playing with Macro for awhile - I've taken plenty of flower shots and water droplets - so could I possibly learn something new? 

It turns out, yes, I most certainly could.  First of all, Scott is an awesome teacher. He made a point of memorizing and re-using the names of all 12 participants in the class. His enthusiasm was contagious as he showed all of the many things he brought to photograph and showed us a variety of different ways to set up lights and make your own little backgrounds and lighting. Who knew clothespins had a worthwhile purpose? And construction paper can be used to bring color to objects. And there are better tripod heads for macro than the ones you may use for landscape.....

Everyone in the class seemed to be having a good time - no one even wanted to leave during the lunch break. We all enjoyed watching each other's creativity - people focused on different objects and different backgrounds and Precision Camera was good enough to give us each a large print (17" x 11") of one, or a composite of our images. It's always a joy to see something you've worked on in a large print!  Scott was very knowledgeable - he, himself shoots some very fancy watches, and he offered hands-on help to each and every one of us.  I learned that I can add my extension tubes to my macro lens to get even closer in to the subject but it had better be on a tripod with a remote release.

Macro photography is so much fun - no moving subject asking when will you be finished. And you often get to discover things you didn't even see with your eye.

We are so fortunate to have the opportunity to have these kind of local classes, taught by knowledgeable professionals at a very reasonable price.  Try a class if you need some motivation, stimulation and inspiration.

Keep shooting, friends, and growing and learning and inspiring!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Come Join Me For An Artists Reception Friday, Feb 5, 5-7pm

Foggy Morning Gathering, Summer 2015

I've been busy preparing 18 photographs for a February 2016 exhibit at The Old Bakery and Emporium, 1006 Congress Avenue, Austin, Texas. (512 974-1300, Hours: Tues-Sat. 9-4).  It's a beautiful historic building that was formerly a Bakery and has been preserved by the City of Austin as a place for local artists to sell their work. There is also a history museum and an art gallery upstairs.  One has to apply in August for a juried art exhibit and I was honored to be selected as one of the artists that will have my photos hung there from Thursday, Feb 4 - Thurs. March 3rd.  I am sharing the exhibit with Anna Lisa Leal who paints images of the Southwest and Ann Newman whose artwork is entitled Visual Language. 

Frozen Swimming Hole, Winter 2011
My theme is Water - and my photographs are from all over the United States during different seasons, showing our country's diverse geography and awesome beauty.  When I first submitted my list of images, I had some already printed from previous shows, but many still needed to be printed.  I discovered that the photographs would look best as large images but that printing, matting and framing large images is quite expensive.

Low Tide, Maine 2010
So I tried some alternative methods - having canvas's made and having metallic photos created. It was quite a learning process since these methods are not inexpensive either. I discovered that the Canvas images muted my vision for what the photograph should look like.  However, the metallic process made me very happy, the images seem to pop right off the metal.  I have since seen an acrylic process and plan to try that out next.  In the meantime, my images are a mix of different processes and sizes.

After the Storm, Summer 2015, 24x16 Metal

There is an artists reception this coming Friday from 5-7 and I would love if you could stop by and visit. The pictures will be up for the entire month of February, so stop by any time or give me a call and I'll meet you there.

NY After 9/11, Black and White Photo

I've had fun taking all of these pictures. I hope you enjoy them and have fun taking your own beautiful images.  Keep shooting, friends and enjoying the beautiful world we live in!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Finding New Things in Old Places

On a recent trip to my hometown, Yonkers, my sister offered me the opportunity to "check out Untemeyer Park," a spot we had never explored before.The day was bright and the hour was early, so it sounded like a wonderful idea.

We were blessed by the last of Fall's glorious colors - we even saw a few roses. But my thrill was the cool architecture.  A brochure at the site called this place "America's Greatest Forgotten Garden."  Owned by prominent lawyer, Samuel Untemeyer, these gardens were acclaimed to be the finest in the Hudson Valley in the 1920's and 30's. The brochure claims that 30,000 folks visited in a single day in September 1939.   the gardens became overgrown and lost in time.

Designed after the Persian Gardens with an influence of Spain, India and Italy, the Untemeyer Gardens have a universal appeal.

I was taken by the lines and shadows on this crisp Fall morning. The views of the Palisades and the Hudson River are spectacular.

Even the trees had a character all of their own.

It's always great to find new things in old places and old things that have a new look, as well. While in Yonkers, we discovered the Daylighting of the Saw Mill River - an area cleaned up to prevent flooding and made to look extremely attractive in a site that had gone downhill in more recent years. With it's new look, the area seems to be thriving - something everyone likes to see.

Keep having fun with your photography, friends, and sharing your vision. Thanks for stopping by. Keep shooting!