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!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Highly Recommending an Ed Heaton Workshop

I just came back from five glorious days in West Virginia. I wasn't quite sure why  was going to West Virginia - I wanted to go to Utah...but several friends had come back from an Ed Heaton workshop in the Grand Tetons and were raving about how much fun it was and how much they had enjoyed to help and support of Ed and Kelly Heaton and the weekend was far more affordable that a week away (that my husband would have insisted on going along) so now I have to save up for Utah next year because West Virginia exceeded all of my expectations.

First of all, I had no idea how beautiful West Virginia is. It seemed chock full of waterfalls, bridges and quaint country roads and Ed Heaton has scoped them all out and knows just how to get a small group of photographers motivated and up to photograph them in their best light.

Many of us came just to see this (and I am so happy I was able to capture it):

Glade Creek Grist Mill, Babcock State Park

Ed, Kelly and their son Zach were all very supportive.  I found them warm and genuine and they frequently asked if any of us had any questions or needed any help.  Ed was a lifesaver for me as he helped me resolve my tripod problems. Somehow I had managed to be constantly loosening screws and my camera always seemed to be slipping.  He showed me how to resolve my tripod hangups and gave me a solution that worked successfully from then on.  His wife Kelly, a good photographer as well, helped me find some good compositions.  Zach helped carry my equipment across a few rock crossings while he and Ed both helped me make my way along the rocks despite the anxiety that was paralyzing me.  This is the view that I wouldn't have captured if they had let me stay back as I had wanted.

The entire trip was a lot of fun, gave me the opportunity to meet several good photographers and showed me just how beautiful West Virginia is.  It was so great being out in nature, enjoying my passion with like-minded souls and learning new tricks and techniques that will hopefully improve my photography.  Seriously consider taking an Ed Heaton Workshop. He goes to a lot of awesome places and is a great team leader for getting you out, inspired and creative.

#New River Gorge Bridge

Now to start saving for Utah and the Grand Tetons!

Keep shooting Friends!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Photo Walks are a Great Way to Make New Friends and Grow

This past Saturday, October 3rd marked Scott Kelby's 8th Annual Worldwide Photowalk #wwpw.  1000 walks happened in different places all over the world.  21,565 folks with different levels of photographic expertise participated. This was the third time I participated in one of these walks and they are always fun. I did one in Coney Island a few years back and one crossing the Walkway in the Hudson, a cool railroad bridge that was restored for bikers and walkers.

This year I walked with 20+ others in Austin, Texas. I enjoyed chatting with the other photographers. One man still shoots film - he gets negatives and scans made.  One woman was a brand new resident from California and had never heard of meetups - she was thrilled to get all kinds of information on how to shoot pictures beyond her own front porch.  Several others I caught up with from chats we had had on previous walks. It's always great to hear suggestions of fun places to visit in the surrounding area.

A young man was out playing his guitar and we all asked him if it was OK to photograph him. What a sport! I wonder if anyone got his info to share some photos with him. What a beautiful smile he had!

It's fun today watching the images that others are posting - a different view on something I shot, or sometimes, some things I never saw at all.  We all enjoyed a few hours of a fun walk, some good photography and making new friends. And, one of the nicest things about this experience was, we all donated to Springs of Hope Kenya Oprhanage in Africa as part of the signup. It feels good to help others, meet others and enjoy a sunny day of photography with others. 

Way to go, Scott Kelby, for making this an annual event! Get out there and enjoy taking pictures, friends, and try to participate in events like this!

Monday, September 28, 2015

2016 Austin Calendar

Every year, for many years, I made a calendar for my siblings. Last year I took the chance of having 30 calendars made and I tried to sell them. People seemed to like them, so this year I am going for a larger print run and trying to get the word out earlier. 

There are 13 images, including the cover and all are frameable prints of beautiful Austin, Texas. Unfortunately, until I can get the courage to have 1000+ calendars printed, my cost for having them printed is still pretty high so I have to get at least $25 to make it worthwhile for me to try this, and shipping is costly, too, so I have to charge an additional $5. for shipping.

But it is a beautiful product, with a lot of care and talent that went into making it.  Right now they can be purchased at The Old Bakery and Emporium, 1006 Congress Avenue or at Prima Dora in SoCo at 1912 So. Congress Ave. or by contacting me directly.

They make a great Christmas gift!  Here is a link to the images:

Sure do appreciate your helping support this local artist.  Thanks for stopping by and Keep on Shooting some great images!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Vacationing Close To Home - a Trip to Corpus Christi

I love discovering new places and, sometimes, it takes more that one trip to enjoy all that a place has to offer.  We recently returned to Corpus Christi after stopping at it's aquarium last spring (which is a really wonderful aquarium). My husband had expressed a desire to explore an aircraft carrier, the USS Lexington, which was nearby and I had spotted an art museum, so we set out for an overnight trip to Corpus.  Perhaps it is because it is September and we had the place to ourselves, but we really enjoyed the bay, the restaurants and the whole experience we had while visiting this lovely city.

The Lexington is a HUGE ship which also goes by the name "The Blue Ghost" because of it's unusual paint scheme and because radio propagandist Tokyo Rose wrongly announced several times that she had sunk.

The ship is now a museum filled with lots of memories for the Vet's we met while touring her.  My husband was happy to see models of the jet engine's he used to work on and we chatted with a few guys who had spent years on ships like this one - cramped quarters, seasickness and all.  I truely appreciate all of those who have served and, as one fellow said, "we're just lucky that we're still here." Amen.

I thoroughly enjoyed carrying my new, lightweight, Sony 6000. For a person who has been carting around heavy Nikon gear for years, the Sony was so light and easy and took great shots inside with limited light as well as in mixed light areas.

In the evening we took a two mile walk to a great seafood restaurant and it was easy to bring the small camera along.  Returning from dinner, the low sunset light on the waterfront was perfect and we enjoyed stopping and chatting with some folks who were having toy sailboat races.

 The following day we got to check out the art museum which didn't allow any photography but had some great art to see and study how the artists used light in creating their pictures. All in all, our little getaway was a great success and proved to me that you don't have to go far and spend a fortune - there are plenty of places within a few hours that are great to check out and discover.

Get out there and shoot, friends - have a good time and let me know what you find! Ciao!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Learning From the Best

I've been fortunate to have surrounded myself with some of the very best photographers/teachers in the world today.  It seems to me that photography is a constant learning experience.  I really do enjoy the education, especially when I have a great teacher to learn from. 

I first heard Randy Kerr speak at the Ladybird Wildflower Center in the Fall of 2013 at a seminar  that he participated in with Doug Box and Tim Babiak - all three pro photographers who work hard to help others.  Randy provided a slide show that day of international and mission based work that  simply mesmerized me and I knew at that moment that I wanted to learn from him.  Randy Kerr, author of the global award winning Westway Method of Photography, wrote "Photography plays a role in teaching me how to become a better person by learning how to connect with my surroundings and the people in my life. My hope for you in this program, is to become more aware of the light present and become mindful of how to interface with the light while creating an image you envision."  How utterly inspiring!

I came to learn that Randy is not only an Austin legend as an outstanding photographer, but he is also a passionate human being who truly cares about helping others who are struggling to comprehend photographic techniques and seeking the light. In the past year and a half, I've been blessed by participating in some of his classes, getting to hear him speak at Austin Professional Photography (APPA) and becoming a part of his motivational concept of a "Nikon Fellowship" where we can all connect as a forum to showcase our work and help one another out. 

He taught me to "slow down," and be mindful of the existing light, it's quality and distance before ever attempting a shot. He took time out of his busy schedule to spend a few hours with me, helping me to actually SEE faint shadows on the face and how those shadows can be enhanced to make a better portrait.  Best of all, though, he invited me to enter his magical world, Eleven Savannas, 15 acres in the Bastrop/Smithville area where he lives and has literally carved the land as an outdoor studio.

Eleven Savannas is truly amazing. Randy personally cleared eleven meadows, after intensely studying the sun and the way it enhances his subject. We tried several different scenarios with the lovely Jennifer Lynn Larsen. In the shade with a Westcott Octabox,

Then natural light and reflectors beside a wall he built that had lovely texture,

And finally in an archway that he built, again using the Octabox to bring out a pop to her eyes at a time when the sun was strong, but we got to control the light.

I highly recommend taking advantage of any workshops that may be offered at Eleven Savannah's in the coming months and growing as a photographer by slowing down and listening to Randy's suggestions whenever you can.

Keep shooting, friends!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

My Kind of Town - Austin Is

My daughter once told me that the thing she liked most about Austin was that it always felt like you were on vacation. I believe that's because there are so many cool things to see and do when you're here. And I've had the privilege of being semi-retired and have many friends and family who love to visit this weird, funky, colorful city, so I get many opportunities to get out and shoot it from many perspectives.

I was challenged to show Austin without it's iconic regular, signature images - Capitol Building, Frost Building, UT Tower.... by Mark Heaps, whose creativity I admire. He showed me how to mind map - that is by building a tree of bubbles of words that grow off one another.

So, with my sister and niece visiting, I set out to try and demonstrate a definitive Austin image utilizing some of those words. I had passed a brand new mural on South 1st Street and thought that would make a great backdrop. We added a guitar case and cell phone and voila, I captured youth and color and music and art.

We moved on to Hope Gallery (Graffiti Park) and had fun shooting some more. 
Cactus and color

Someone was taping an introduction to the park - figured I captured media and great signage with a cool message but somehow I felt this image was too busy.

Ultimately I felt like I couldn't use beautiful Kim as representative of Austin and I wanted two images for this challenge, so my second choice was back on South First - I think this captures the funkieness that we all love so much in Austin.

With #SXSW in town, I hope y'all are enjoying this wonderful vacationland of a place we call home, Austin.  Keep on shooting, friends!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Learning a Lot at Photogenesis

Oh yes, and Precision Camera and Scott Sitkowitz gave us an opportunity to shoot a pretty model. 
I just came back from a four-day State Convention put on by Texas Professional Photographer Association (TPPA), called Photogenesis. It was inspiring, exhilarating, educational and fun. I met new friends, got pages of notes, learned how to be a better salesperson (thank you, Ross Benton), felt confident enough to take the CPP test after a day of "Cram for the Exam" (thank you, Steve Kozak), enjoyed watching beautiful images that were submitted to the photographic competition, and enjoyed the camaraderie of fellow Austin Professional Photography members. (Steve also provided us with a Print Comp Boot Camp to get us psyched to enter future competitions.)

Randy Kerr was a wonderful inspiration, first thing on Saturday morning. He quoted Doug Box severl times by reminding us to ask ourselves, "What is the best available light and how can I improve upon it?" He urged us to slow down, look for the symbolism, wait for the story to unfold, and study the grayscale.  "Our real journey is in interfacing with illumination," he said as he showed magnificent images he captured of statues in Umlauf Gardens as well as compelling images taken in Dominica.

As if that weren't enough, we were treated to a talk by renowned photographer, Laurie Klein, a successful wedding photography who was providing clients with infrared images long before it became popular. Laurie calls herself a "Landscape Photographer" who puts people in her landscapes. She was trained by Ansel Adams and you can definitely see his influence in her magnificent work.  Laurie challenged everyone present to go out and shoot something that they are uncomfortable shooting using the camera/equipment they are least happy with. She herself is doing this to grow as a photographer, by shooting nudes and water and utilizing more color in her photography. It seems like a great assignment and I am going to definitely pursue it.

There were parties and photo excursions and walk-up workshops where you could get ask someone in the know about their particular topic. 

Sunday morning, bright and early, we were treated to Mark Heaps with a presentation called "Turning Up the Signal." "Engage people," he encouraged, "go out and be part of the story." He recommended studying the principles of art and design, looking for grids and the golden mean. He showed us how to make a few simple moves in Photoshop with tolls we don't generally consider, to make our images pop. Lastly, he suggested we all study Gestalt psychology tries to understand the laws of our ability to acquire and maintain meaningful perceptions in an apparently chaotic world. Good thought - now to find some reading time!

The Trade Show was awesome with lots of vendors and really good information (and some good buys I'd say, judging by all who walked out with armfuls of products.) Sunday afternoon still had two great speaker (actually, it had MANY good speakers but unfortunatly I had to choose between four great options at 1:30. 

Bob Coates was great as he showed us artistic techniques to take us to the next level. He promised to send us a list of great resources as he showed us how he made art out of several images.

The weekend ended with an absolutely awesome talk by Ken Sklute who has merited more prints that just about anyone (maybe more than anyone). He is a weather chaser as well as a balloonist and pilot and entusiast for getting the image no matter what. He says he always looks for the foreground and he demonstrated this by showing stunning images of Aurora Borealis, lightening, tornados and more.  He is also growing as an artist by utilizing time lapse and video effects using stills. Do yourself a favor and check out his website!

The whole convention was just great and I just needed to replay some of it in my mind and hopefully offer those who couldn't make it, a chance to research some great teachers, photographers and human beings.

This is what I saw as I left the building. Not stunning, but a ray of sunshine and hope for me to grow as an artist this year.  Keep shooting, friends!