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Archive for the ‘Challenges’ Category

Canticle of the Stars

Monday, May 11th, 2020
Canticle of the Stars, or should I call it Anthem of Light? Chime in!
Completed May 2020, 36 tall x 46.5 wide.

There is a thing called star trails photography (just google it…it’s really cool). The earth rotates on its axis. The North Star is static in our northern skies. If you take time lapse photos and then “stack” (merge) them, you get star trails….images that describe the lines created by the light of the stars. Did you know that starlight comes in different colors??? It does… I love the feeling of the vastness of space. When I went to college, I comforted myself knowing that my then-boyfriend and I could both look up at the constellation Orion in the sky even though we would be 3000 miles apart. I love wondering what is out there, and feeling snug and at home in my own world. The universe is Out There and it is Within Us. I love the resulting art quilt. While trying to figure out the title (star trails was too boring), I wrote a poem to go with this quilt:

As many of you know by now, I was selected to be a Michael Miller Brand Ambassador this year. At the start (last December) we received a box STUFFED with goodies (post here). I decided to challenge myself, using items ONLY from this box to make an art quilt in my style, but using fabrics that are totally not in my usual wheel house: commercial solids, prints, and bling. I love the result…in trying to figure out the title (star trails was too boring), I wrote a poem above. Help me decide should the title be Canticle of the Stars? or Anthem of Light? Leave comments and thoughts!

So, how do you make an image that is DARK work successfully as an artwork? In this case, the answer is a lot of quilting with light thread in seven shades from pink to peach to green to blues! Here are the fabrics I used:

The quilt is under the fabrics, with the top visible in the upper half and the backing below. The Michael Miller Fabrics are from left to right: Michael Miller Krystal in Aubergine 1278, Wine 2248, Coal 1302 and 1257 Evergreen. Fairy Frost in Black. Cotton Couture SC5333 in Midnite and Ink. Marble CX1087 in Stone, graphite (or onyx) and night (I think on the denim blue). Michael Miller Jet Black which is part of the Cotton Couture line. I overdyed the green with a navy dye to use as the backing.

The quilting was done entirely on my Janome M7 Continental. The sky was done with the walking foot and the trees was free-motion quilted. It has been eons since I did walking foot quilting…I may do more of it soon! And the threads I used:

It is VERY rare for me to use a walking foot for quilting, but for the sky on this one I did. I used the dark blue So Fine to help hold down the Mistyfused pieces (cut curved, but on the bias so I could adapt their arc) and solid black (I can’t remember if it was the Mettler or So Fine) for the treelike silhouette. The six colors are the star trails in the sky. I used both regular straight stitch and the triple-straight stitch with the walking foot.
Detail, Canticle of the Stars. The edges of the print fabrics are definitely rougher than I am used to with the batiks and hand-dyes I use due to the different thread count, but I think they work because the light edges become another star trail.
And a very close up of the raw edges, some wool lint (sigh…do you know how many times I vacuumed and lint roller this quilt??????) from my pressing surface, and the quilting. The pale green turned into that creamy yellow color when quilted. It’s amazing what thread will do!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this journey to the stars, and back to home on Earth.

Foto Friday, Week 44: Panorama

Friday, November 13th, 2015

Hi all!  Just a quick post to share last week’s quick effort at our Ricky Tims’ 52-Week Challenge lesson on how to “stitch” together photographs in PhotoShop.   Honestly, the software does all the work.   The photo below was created from five photos taken of the view from our house, then I did a few edits to get the colors captured to equal what it really looked like.

Did the panorama merge. Lightened the very deep shadows on the lawn, the row of scrub along the stone wall and the small woods on the left. Minor enhancements to get it to look more like it really looked to the eye (had to meter for the bright spot in the center) with the low 3 pm-ish afternoon light. This is the view from our house/lawn! We live in a town called Hope (Maine), and in the distance can see the towns of Liberty and Freedom (along with Appleton, Morrill and other spots). On a good night the Milky Way runs over us and is visible. The far ridge is probably 40 miles away to the North. The only drawback is the house faces North, and we have woods on the other three sides, so getting early morning or late afternoon “golden hour” is problematic as the sun is behind the trees or hills. We have wild turkeys, porcupines, skunks, foxes, deer, birds of all sorts, and a sheep farm behind us.

Did the panorama merge. Lightened the very deep shadows on the lawn, the row of scrub along the stone wall and the small woods on the left. Minor enhancements to get it to look more like it really looked to the eye (had to meter for the bright spot in the center) with the low 3 pm-ish afternoon light.
This is the view from our house/lawn! We live in a town called Hope (Maine), and in the distance can see the towns of Liberty and Freedom (along with Appleton, Morrill and other spots). On a good night the Milky Way runs over us and is visible. The far ridge is probably 40 miles away to the North. The only drawback is the house faces North, and we have woods on the other three sides, so getting early morning or late afternoon “golden hour” is problematic as the sun is behind the trees or hills. We have wild turkeys, porcupines, skunks, foxes, deer, birds of all sorts, and a sheep farm behind us.

Since this photo was taken we have had wind and rain and wind, so we are no in the bare, brown and gray phase of the year.

The great news is that Ricky has opened sign-ups for a repeat of the 52-Week Challenge for 2016.  I’ll blog about that in a couple days, but since this is my second post today, I want to take a bit of a breather!

Foto Friday, Week 42 (out of order): HDR = High Dynamic Range

Friday, November 6th, 2015

To my utter astonishment, our younger son (who at best tolerates grimly my taking photos of him), ASKED me to take a photo–his Senior Yearbook Photo!  Knock me down with a feather!   I had thought he would use his school pictures photo:

Eli's annual school photo. The usual.

Eli’s annual school photo. The usual. Boring.

So while I was at taking the senior/yearbook photo, I knew it would be a crazy-busy week so I took a series of photos to do an assignment called “High Dynamic Range” where you merge 3-5 (or more) photos to account for the fact that there is strong light and strong shadow in one place.

This is the photo I ended up submitting for the class. I is a "merge" of four photos. Can I say Photoshop is remarkable?

This is the photo I ended up submitting for the class. I is a “merge” of four photos. Can I say Photoshop is remarkable?

The above photo is “composed” of these four photos (which despite my attempts to place them are going where they want…sigh):

(c)2015-SarahAnnSmith.com-5895

First image, very over-exposed so you can get detail on the right side

Second image/exposure

Second image/exposure

Third Exposure, darker. Not as blown out on the left, but the right side of his face is hard to see.

Third Exposure, darker. Not as blown out on the left, but the right side of his face is hard to see.

Fourth exposure: right side detail is very hard to see.

Fourth exposure: right side detail is very hard to see.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We decided that as lovely a backdrop as the maple tree was, the light was simply too harsh.  Eli suggested we go down by the arbor/cut-through to the big meadow.  He thought he could lean up against the post and it would look more natural.  Turns out there is too much bittersweet, but the photo turned out great!

Eli selected this shot, which used a fairly shallow depth of field (to blur the background) and was taken from a tripod.  I can confidently say there is NO WAY I could have gotten such a good shot (with minor post-production/editing work) when I began this class in January.   YEAH!  I’m learning!   And Eli is happy.  And will now return to grumbling when I take photos of him.  <<grin!!!!>>>

Eli's choice for his yearbook photo. They also do something utterly cool...see next photo....

Eli’s choice for his yearbook photo. They also do something utterly cool…see next photo….

Happy boy, happy dog!

Happy boy, happy dog!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s it for now!

 

Foto Friday, Week 43 (out of order): Halloween

Friday, October 30th, 2015

The image of a thousand edits!  I combined four images:  a photo of the moon, two different photos on my iPhone of the willows shot on a misty dog-walkies and the flash fired, and the bats are from a silhouette of my hands, seriously edited.  I’ll post more info below including a link to the orignal images in my Flickr November album.

The image of a thousand edits! I combined four images: a photo of the moon, two different photos on my iPhone of the willows shot on a misty dog-walkies and the flash fired, and the bats are from a silhouette of my hands, seriously edited. I’ll post more info below including a link to the orignal images in my Flickr November album.

Normally it doesn’t matter if I post my photo a week late, but since the theme was Halloween, and since I’ve actually done this at not-the-last-day, I’m doing week 43 today and I’ll fill in with week 42 next week!    And oh…if you haven’t been around, this is part of the year-long 52-Week Photography Challenge class I’m taking online with Ricky Tims.  This composite image was something that I would NEVER have been able to do at the start of this class! I used four photos (two of the widows, one of my hands, one of the moon).For anyone interested in how I did it, here you go (Long!)

This week’s theme was Halloween.   Apparently Ricky had planned on Hands, then changed it to Halloween.  But the “use hands” didn’t get edited out (until someone asked about it and he said typo!).  By that time I had this hare-brained idea for my weekly submission.  Our challenge was to do something creepy for Halloween (or otherwise Halloween-y) using what we’ve learned.   This may be one of those instances that Ricky refers to as “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”   Oh well!  It was a fun flight of bat-ful fancy!

1. Darken photo of moon. Select to the right of the moon extending area quite a bit to the right. Use content aware fill to “reposition” the moon.

(c)2015-SarahAnnSmith.com-6148

Bottom layer. Photo of moon. NO idea why I’ve got those odd spots–the moon equivalent of a sun flare?

2. Take first of the two willows in the night mist photos (shot on iPhone, which used last and showed those cool streaks in the mist). Since the photo was square, add a layer and paste. Add another layer and paste again, so that the two images overlap. Use soft-edge eraser brush to blend the two photos. Some Dodge and Burn to even out the overlap. Flip horizontally.

First of two photos taken on my iPhone a couple months ago.

First of two photos taken on my iPhone a couple months ago.

3. Take the second of the two willows-in-the-night-mist and repeat the above process in Step 2.

Second willows photo.  The mist is going a different direction, and I like the layering that happened.

Second willows photo. The mist is going a different direction, and I like the layering that happened.  Notice I flipped the photos horizontally to have the weight of the willows balancing the brightness of the moon.

4. Reduce opacity to about 30-35 on both willows layers.
5. Merge down layers so the four willow layers end up as one (or was it two) layer(s).

MoonMist

The first layer of montaged willows over the moon.

6. Spend a ridiculous amount of time trying to make assorted masks work to let the moon shine through without overlaying leaves. Give up and use an enormous, soft-edge dodge brush to lighten the layers over the moon.
7. Dragoon hubby into taking shots of my hands as a bat (after google searching). Set up light and tripod/camera etc first.

The original photo of my hands.  Had a photography (for quilts) light shining up to get a sharp silhouette.

The original photo of my hands. Had a photography (for quilts) light shining up to get a sharp silhouette.

8. Remove background around hands. Reduce opacity, use burn tool to knock back highlights on my fingers.

Background removed.

Background removed.

Edit out arms using a large hard-edged eraser brush to create wing scallops.

Presto chango, let there be a bat.

Presto chango, let there be a bat.

9. Create multiple layers, using “transform” to scale and rotate to edit the “bat.” Mull over whether to have one or three bats. This is seriously one of those “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should” moments. Still not sure about one versus three. But after HOURS of edits, I’m going with three!
Time for lunch and other work!

The image of a thousand edits!  I combined four images:  a photo of the moon, two different photos on my iPhone of the willows shot on a misty dog-walkies and the flash fired, and the bats are from a silhouette of my hands, seriously edited.  I’ll post more info below including a link to the orignal images in my Flickr November album.

The image of a thousand edits! I combined four images: a photo of the moon, two different photos on my iPhone of the willows shot on a misty dog-walkies and the flash fired, and the bats are from a silhouette of my hands, seriously edited. I’ll post more info below including a link to the original images in my Flickr November album.

So that’s it!  My Flickr album for November is here, and for the page with all my albums is here.

A delayed Foto Friday

Sunday, September 6th, 2015

So the week got away from me!   Eli has the first official Cross Country meet of the season, and I’ve been working on assorted projects and, well, the week got away from me!   The theme for the previous week in Ricky Tims’ 52 Week Photo Challenge was the Power of One.  I think mine is more the power of Red, but it’s the best I came up with.  Next week’s assignment is Do Over, so I will try either silhouette or Power of One again…… (and sorry, but the reminder that all photos and imagery are (c) Sarah Ann Smith…I forgot to watermark these).  Right click on photos to view larger.

Adjustments to decrease both shadows and highlight (just a little—too much on hightlights makes a bizarre halo on the treeline!), only 3 on vibrance.  Smart sharpen.

This was my class entry.  Adjustments to decrease both shadows and highlight (just a little—too much on hightlights makes a bizarre halo on the treeline!), only 3 on vibrance. Smart sharpen.

I took the same photo as a horizontal, which is more typical for shoreline shots, but I liked the emphasis on the masts and reflections in the one above better which is why I chose to submit that one.

Slight adjustment to increase constrast and lower highlights.  Smart sharpen.  Cropped to eliminate excess sky and water (and the tippy tops of some rocks on the bottom).

Slight adjustment to increase constrast and lower highlights. Smart sharpen. Cropped to eliminate excess sky and water (and the tippy tops of some rocks on the bottom).

And a few more options I considered:

Smart Sharpen, adjustment to red layer to make the “one” more accurate.  Digital cameras mess with reds!

Of course I had to do one that was quilty!  This is part of my stash for a thousand pyramids quilt I hope to make.  The quilt on our bed is over 10 years old and is really starting to look it!   Smart Sharpen, adjustment to red layer to make the “one” more accurate. Digital cameras mess with reds!

I need to review our lessons.  Tried to do a vignette, but had to resort to using the dodge tool on the corners.   Wasn’t able to highlight the woman without making it look forced.

I need to review our lessons. Tried to do a vignette, but had to resort to using the dodge tool on the corners. Wasn’t able to highlight the woman without making it look forced.  If I had used selective focus, with her sharp and the rest blurred, that would have created a stronger focal point, but I wanted the idea of her looking out on the harbor.   Perhaps I should have moved up hill…….learning, learning!

Waiting for the runners at a cross country meet.  Increased contrast a tad, cropped off a bit on the bottom, lasso and content aware fill to remove a sliver of a person on the far right.

A rare shot of the hubby, who usually scowls at the camera.  Waiting for the runners at a cross country meet. Increased contrast a tad, cropped off a bit on the bottom, lasso and content aware fill to remove a sliver of a person on the far right.

Have been busy dyeing fabric, making slacks, making a top, and working on a small quilted thingy.  Must take photos.  Must blog!   Stay tuned and enjoy the last gasps of summer!