Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Drawings of people

Drawing people is much more difficult for me than still life. If the shape of a bottle is a little off, it doesn't matter as much as a slight change in the shape of someone's chin. One of the reasons I really got into photography around the same time that I was drawing a lot of these was that being into realism, I would get really frustrated when things didn't come out just as they looked. While drawing things just as they look can be a good exercise, it seems sort of tedious when you can do almost the same thing in an instant with a camera.

As you can see from this drawing of my friend Lu, even though the technical parts of it are pretty good, I got the shape of her chin a little wrong, so she looks slightly like a caveperson or something.

While it doesn't seem like it would be a big deal, it was really the only thing anyone noticed when I showed them this drawing. The shape of the chin really detracts from the overall piece. This typically doesn't happen with a photo (and if it does, you probably have ten other photos that look exactly like it that you can replace it with).

Because I was frustrated by how distracting the chin was, I want to take this opportunity (thanks to the wonder of photos) to zoom in on a couple of parts of this drawing, which I worked very hard on, so that they can be viewed in the absence of the oddly shaped chin.

Personally, I am always kind of amazed that a pencil can create so many different shades.

In the next one, I want to point out the fabric scarf that she is wearing on her head, and the light hairs that are being hit by the sun against the hammock. I wonder if these things are noticeable when you are looking at it as a whole.

Here is one more drawing of a friend, this one is my friend Donna. She's actually supposed to be lying in a stream.

These are the only two drawings of such detailed portraits that I can ever remember doing. They are on the first two pages of a large sketchbook. This first one is dated july 22, 2002, and the second, september 12, 2003. They are the only two things in this particular sketchbook. I don't have a good explanation for why.

Papers, papers

Working hard, sitting at epic. I'm drinking hibiscus tea in an effort to cut down on coffee, and having trouble waking up. Go figure. I'll try to post something more interesting later.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Swimming with June

Now I'm really going to emulate Amy's blog and write about her amazing little daughter June. We all went to the pool yesterday, and I took tons of photos (I mean in the hundreds). June absolutely loves the water even though it was pretty cold. She spent a lot of time strategizing how to get past the human blockades and jump right back in. Luckily she wasn't successful.

The pool was just a little one next to a hotel, but the colors there were awesome. It was almost sunset, which also gives a lot to these photos. The ones in the water are really great, especially because you can just see how much fun they're having.

On the way out she started to get a little chilly, but it didn't seem to stop her from enjoying the pool at all.

We had a great time running around the edge of the pool afterwards. June has great hair.

I'm headed to epic for more studying today, so I had to do this now. I'm going to try to force myself to stay off the internet as much as I possibly can so I can write a paper about nation-building in post-revolutionary Mexico. I bet you're just itching to read it right?

Friday, April 25, 2008

Ressurrection of old journals

So, a large part of the purpose of this blog is to serve as an exercise to get me back to my creative self. As part of this process decided to dig up some of my old journals, which are full of collages, drawings, paintings, and other tidbits I thought I'd like to remember. Since most of these have been seen only by a few people, I'm going to share some of them here. It's kind of inspiring to see just how many things I used to put into my journals. At the time that I did many of these I was drawing inspiration from the incredible journals of people I was working with like Dave Edwards, Geoff Gourley and Kate Thompson. Lately I've been so completely submerged in the world of graduate school, that inspiration for these sorts of things has fallen by the wayside. So, as part of my blog project I'm going to post them as a way to open myself up as an artist and an all around creative person. Hopefully it's another steptoward getting comfortable trying to do something I really love to do.

Just for fun, I came across this christmas card that we made while I was working at the photo studio. We are sitting in a homemade hot tub filled with cranberries. That's me in the middle. This was probably around 2000/2001.

These are a couple of collages. I used to do a lot of these, just cutouts from magazines mostly, and then I'd add a poem or two.

This photo, one of my favorites from Mexico in about 1998, was pasted into one of my journals.

The next several are from various trips, either camping or in other countries. They're mostly watercolor, but some are just pen drawings.

North rim of Grand Canyon, summer of 2001

Torres Del Paine, Patagonia, Chile, 2001

Guatemala, summer of 2003

Here is a photo of a photo I took in Mongolia, at the Gan Dan monastery (or however you spell it). There's something I like about these new photos of old photos.

This is me, taken by my friend Illah in Holland in 1996.

It's good to look through these and see what I was looking at, or how I was looking at things, and to think about how I look differently at some of them now.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

RAW images, shrubs and salad

As I write this, I'm drinking a similar cup of coffee. It seems to be one of my favorite things to do lately, especially if I'm trying to get my homework done (which I'm obviously not doing right now).

I switched to using the RAW setting the other day. I'm still working on converting them to other formats so I can easily post them here, but hopefully it works okay.

The other day we decided that our yard has enough Cactus. Enough spines. So we decided to fill it in and make it seem a little less prickly with a few desert shrubs. Chris planted them while I watched and took lots of photos. They're my first tries with the new photo setting. I really see a huge difference but I don't know whether it will be noticeable here or not since I had to convert them to JPEGs. I'll get better.

Here's another fun one from the backyard.

After planting the shrubs we moved the chairs around on the porch and made a nice new little place to sit. I made a 'half and half' salad for dinner, one of our favorites lately. Mmm.

Only two more weeks until the end of the semester and I am REALLY looking forward to a break from doing homework. Now I'd better get back to it though..

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Being on the right track

Today is windy, but it's obvious that summer is coming. At home depot the other day we were noticing that unlike most of the country, we don't have to worry much about getting ready for winter. We did see a lot of people this time of year though, buying their double paned windows, shade cloths, and other items to help their plants and houses make it through the summer. This is supposed to be a hot one...
Here are some more photos I took in the backyard.

The last one is of my cat.

I met someone yesterday who makes something of a living as a photographer. She told me the first thing to do is start a blog. It made me feel like maybe I'm getting close to being on the right track. So, even though Most of what I've been uploading has been around the yard, at least I'm uploading something.

These are some of the plants we bought to put in the front yard. Enough spiny cacti we decided. So, some of these shrubby desert plants are what we're going to start filling it in with. We also got an artichoke and some tomatoes. Mmmm. We'll see if they can make it through the heat this summer...

So, that's all for the moment, but things are going to get more interesting soon because I'm going to start exploring the world of RAW images (and maybe even go outside the yard...)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Old artwork

The other day I went through my old artwork portfolio, mostly stuff from high school. I thought I'd record some of them as photos, and since I did, I might as well share them here. They haven't been seen by anyone but me in several years.

This is a watercolor painting of Nelson Mandela that I did for a friend who requested it.

I always enjoyed doing still life. It's weird I know, but here is one that I am kind of proud of, done in pencil.

This one is oil paint. I never finished it and I probably never will. I have no idea why I put the word 'cinnamon' in it.

This is a photo of a friend, taken about 6 years ago in Mazatlan. The snake is real. this is a photo of the printed version. I have no idea where the negs are, and didn't want this one to be lost if the photo fades.

One more, this is from Europe, ten years ago. I took it in Venice of my friend, and w printed it (along with hundreds of others) in her friend's darkroom in Holland.

For some reason it makes me feel better to put them here, like at least they aren't just sitting in the porfolio collecting dust. Now they're collected e-dust in a blog that no one reads.
There's something so satisfying about writing to no one. Journaling is a good activity for emotional/mental stability, something I've only recently rediscovered. I have boxes of old journals and this weird idea that I should only have a journal going if I'm doing something unusual or that I want to remember, such as a trip. This is ridiculous.
Last year I pulled out a journal I had written in about 5 years before. I read through it a little and enjoyed thinking about where I was when I had written it. I was awestruck to find that I had written, "I wonder what I'll be doing five years from now..." and went on to describe what I thought my life might be like. It was wild to have pulled that out 5 years later. I would like to photograph, or maybe scan some of the paitings and rantings in those old journals. Maybe I'll post some of those eventually too.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Photo booth

Not such quality, but the little photo booth program is a lot of fun...

Epic, not the first, and probably not the last time

Sitting at Epic this morning, I'm surprised by just how happy I am to find a small table beside the window. They're playing Crosby, Stills and Nash on the radio and I'm feeling more inspired to write about it than to do the homework I came in to do. I had this idea that sitting here would provide less of a distraction than at home. It turns out that the things that were distracting me yesterday at home are the things I brought along with me today.
Yesterday I was brave enough to bring my camera in, although I did not have this window seat. I'll have to bring it in again.

Chris took this, it probably only looks like I'm reading for the photo op.

Waiting for food at the counter, too dark so it's out of focus, but I still love the colors.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

On gardening

When I interview people, they often say they've taken up gardening for stress relief. I know everyone has their own ways of feeling relaxed, or of blowing off steam, but gardening I my world can be a little on the stressful side. There seems to be an aspect of caring for a plant that has evaded me despite countless efforts to improve. This year we're looking forward to a summer trip to the bay islands in Honduras. In addition to the fact that our sprouts have been less than triumphant in their attempts to grow into seedlings, there is the added question of whether it is really worth the amount of water it will take for them to make it, however sunburned and brittle, through the scorching summer months of June and July in Tucson.

I love the taste of fresh tomatoes. And the memory of more fresh Basil pesto than we knew what to do with last summer are enticing reasons to continue the fight against the Tucson heat (nevermind the water shortage) and grow some of the summer veggies that make it all worth it. I took that photo a couple of days ago. Today the sprouts are looking even more brown and a little less like they're headed for the garden outside. It looks like the desire for fresh tomatoes and Basil this summer might be pushing us to the nursery to purchase those lovely little plants that have made it past sprouthood (by some unknown gardening method). If we do plant them in the yard, I'll probably be posting photos of them in the future, especially considering my love for taking pictures in the yard.

A great day

A great day
Originally uploaded by emery_rose
A couple of friends that I sat with at Epic cafe for several hours this morning. It was on our walk home that I took that flower photos, and this great photo of them enjoying the day and the flowers.

Flowers and Babies

It's hard, and easy at the same time, to get a good photo of a flower or a baby. On one hand, they're gorgeous almost all the time. On the other, they're moving (whether with the wind, or of their own volition, as the case may be). Either way, even though they often turn out well, there are several things that you have to pay attention to.

Flowers are the thing to photograph. Anyone can do it, and anyone can take a pretty picture of a flower. The trick is to get something a little different, which I don't claim to know how to do. Occasionally I get lucky, but these few are not outrageously unusual. The first one of a bee in a cactus flower demonstrates my need for a macro lens.

The others are of a beautiful flower garden on 4th Ave. The air has been smelling like flowers in Tucson lately when you walk through these neighborhoods filled with flower gardens like this one. The flowering citrus trees add a sweet smell, making the warm weather and sunny days the best time of year to be here.

I think I'll keep working on the flowers, and certainly on the babies, especially June, who is one of my all-time favorites. She has such a great personality. The hardest part of getting a good photo in general, for me, is getting the nerve to pull out my camera in a situation where someone might think I'm being a nuisance. That's another good thing about babies. Usually the baby doesn't mind, and the parents just want a good photo of their baby and are open to allowing whoever might have a decent shot to take a few. Flowers probably are not aware of their subjecthood, which makes that easier, and probably explains why I am often uploading photos of inanimate objects.
In the interest of being able to carry more useful accessories (i.e. a little tripod, filters, and extra batteries, among other things) I opted to change camera cases today, which will take a little getting used to. To make the transition easier, I added my old camera strap from Costa Rica, despite it's scratching potential, and I already feel my of a sense of ownership over this newfangled digital SLR. It has so much more depth than my trusty film camera, and the menus sometimes seem like they're in a foreign language. A helpful site I found for deciphering some of them (although I'm not sure that's what it's intended for) is http://www.dpreview.com/
If you look at some of the later pages of the camera review, they have some in depth description of the menus, as well as of the settings that maximize the shooting potential of that particular camera.