Archive for the ‘Classes I’ve taken’ Category

Why I love vultures!

Monday, October 22nd, 2018

The Vulture is Landing!

When we lived in Camden, I learned to love vultures.  At some point in March, they would arrive, heralding spring.   Eventually I learned that they ride the thermals, which carry the scent of supper up to them.  If it isn’t warm enough, not enough scent.   So that means when they arrive, winter is indeed ENDING.   Also, they are FUNNY–they may be a bit on the ugly side, but gosh they are just comical.  They are gregarious, live in tight family groups (the ones that roosted at the end of our driveway numbered around 30!), are large, squabble like most families, and when you hear them flap in the pitch dark when you are walking the dog late at night they sound REALLY REALLY BIG!  But they are just under-appreciated (anyone else ever felt that way?).

So for this weeks Journey Through the Natural Year lesson–well ok, the lesson from two weeks ago, I’m behind–I decided to NOT do the pileated woodpecker teacher Val Webb selected and see if I could do a passable job on something else dark with a red head, my much-adored funny vultures.  I’m rather pleased–I can now see a couple small areas where I didn’t get it quite right:  beak a tad too long, curve on the upper wing needs a couple of bends in it, but I am really pleased.  Well, I was until the blotch.

I used this photo, which is part of the WikiCommons meaning I can use it as long as I give credit–Thanks Peter K. Burian! https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Eastern_Turkey_Vulture_in_flight,_Canada.jpg#/media/File:Eastern_Turkey_Vulture_in_flight,_Canada.jpg
turkey vulture By Peter K Burian – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=63275338

Here is the sequence…and the remedy to the blotch:

Step one: pencil things in. I am sketching in a Daler-Rowney dry media sketchbook that has paper that I really dislike. It is good for pencil and not a whole lot more!

Getting the face and eye in helps so much. I used a crow quill dip pen and deAtramentis Archive Black Ink.

Progress. You kinda get lost in the feathers, but I’m pretty pleased with the shadowing through the long wing tips and the value changes.

Then karma smacked me upside the face: BLOT. After 4+ hours of work, a BLOT. And with this miserable paper NO chance of scraping etc. I was so proud of what I’d managed to do. But I kept going. And asked sketching friends and teacher Val Webb for possible solutions.

SOB!   I got lots of good suggestions, and (gee imagine that) had pretty much all of the suggested art supplies.  The only thing I didn’t try was Val’s suggestion to use gel medium to glue down a piece of paper over the blotch, because this paper is so awful I knew it would have been futile.

Finished, with blot.

Being an impatient sort and loving my Signo Uniball white pen, I added some of that and it helped…a LOT.  That and other suggestions I received were

  • Gouache (tried both Talens white and Schminke Titanium White, the Schminke worked better)
  • Prismacolor white pencil (too weak)
  • Signo pen (worked perhaps best, but is tricky to manage as it is a rollerball and sometimes leaves a track or blank space in the center of a line)
  • Watercolor ground
  • Acrylic ink in white–had both Liquitex and Daler Rowney; applied with both dip pen and brush

My test-drive page. The colors are from watercolor–this paper precluded using it–and colored pencil. I ended up using a combination of the Carmine and Crimson and a colorless blender.

The left side, close up. I made a blot of ink, then some squiggles to approximate where I blotched on the vulture.

The right side. Definitely like the way the Signo pen worked, and also the Daler Rowney FW acrylic ink…look at the right side where I dotted it on with a dip pen. The one on the far right is my untouched for comparison.

Observations:

–Both the white gouaches and the Daniel Smith watercolor ground looked yellower than the bright white paper when wet, but when dry that tint disappeared.  In fact, the Schminke titanium, which seemed to work the best of the two, is even brighter white than the paper–a tiny drop of something to match the color of the paper would make it work.

–The Signo pen worked best, but you kinda need to add it in dots because the pen itself can “railroad” meaning you get edges of white and not much in the center due to the rollerball tip.  However, a couple coats worked well.

–The Daler Rowney FW acrylic ink worked better than the Liquitex Ink! .  It took a couple coats, but it could be a viable option.

I’d like to try a controlled test of my favorites, the Signo pen, Schminke Titanium White gouache, and the Daler Rowney FW white acrylic ink, on a few watercolor papers to see how it looks AND what happens if you then ink or watercolor OVER the “fix.”

Here’s the offending splotch after touch up with both Signo and the Acrylic Ink in white:

The splotch is visible on close inspection, but really I’m delighted with the result.

And once again, here’s the final result–not bad at all!   I’ve always said that the difference between a beginner and the advanced/pro is knowing how to fix your mistakes.  I’m moving out of beginner range!

The Vulture is Landing!

 

 

What I can’t show you….

Wednesday, May 4th, 2016

So, I’m working on a new quilt.  But we can’t publicize photos until after jurying.  But I figured I can show you one bit of it–the fabric that I am dyeing, because this isn’t what it’s going to look like.  I’d be surprised if anyone will be able to see this then realize that my entry is the one attached to this photo.  I hope.

My fabric dyeing space exists, which is a joy in itself.  However, it is in the "utilities" room with the 330 gallon heating oil tank (on the left), the water purification system (to remove arsenic which occurs naturally in the water table here...at the end of this work surface), the boiler (house heat), and the hot water tank.  Can you say barely enough room to slide sideways along the 4x8 foot melamine-glued-to-rigid-insulation work "table"?

My fabric dyeing space exists, which is a joy in itself. However, it is in the “utilities” room with the 330 gallon heating oil tank (on the left), the water purification system (to remove arsenic which occurs naturally in the water table here…at the end of this work surface), the boiler (house heat), and the hot water tank. Can you say barely enough room to slide sideways along the 4×8 foot melamine-glued-to-rigid-insulation work “table”?

I wanted a very exact color.  Thanks to my classes with Carol Soderlund, achieving this is possible, but sometimes I need to overdye.  My biggest challenge is that I haven’t dyed enough fabric to have a good grasp of how much the color will change once washed and dried–it lightens up a lot.  And in this case, the blue I wanted ended up being a mix of two blues, which I haven’t done in any of the classes I’ve taken.  So I was winging it.  I ended up using ProChem’s Intense Blue and a tiny bit of turquoise.   To get the shade I need, I used 0.9 gram (which is a ridiculously small weight) of Intense blue and…get this…. 0.1 gram of Turquoise.   On my first attempt, I used a very pale wash of the Turquoise over the solid blue I had dyed with Intense Blue.  And it was too turquoise.  So I started over.  The second attempt is the one that is on the table above, on its second round adding more of the combination (with a lot less turquoise) to get it a bit darker.  It worked!

And that’s all I can show you until about June.  Gotta get to work!   More anon!

Merry Christmas to one and all!

Friday, December 25th, 2015

Happy Solstice, Christmas, Boxing Day, Kwaanza, New Year’s, Winter and just plain old happy day to one and all!   Just a quick note to say hello, as I will be otherwise happily busy with family, cooking, family, and more family on Christmas day.  I thought I’d share the year in pictures–the page of photos I share in our annual Christmas Newsletter that I send out to friends from long ago and far away.

Some of the photos are ones I have taken during my yearlong workshop with Ricky Tims. I've worked hard to make the most of the class and am thrilled with how much I have learned. If you're interested, put Foto Friday or Ricky Tims in the search box to see related blogposts. But wait until Christmas is over! Enjoy family and whatever you are doing today. Life is short, so remember to enjoy your blessings and the beauty of the day.

Some of the photos are ones I have taken during my yearlong workshop with Ricky Tims. I’ve worked hard to make the most of the class and am thrilled with how much I have learned. If you’re interested, put Foto Friday or Ricky Tims in the search box to see related blogposts. But wait until Christmas is over! Enjoy family and whatever you are doing today. Life is short, so remember to enjoy your blessings and the beauty of the day. (You can click the photo to see it a bit larger if you’d like.)

Photography in 2016–the new Ricky Tims 52-Week Challenge

Sunday, November 15th, 2015

Hi all: the best news first:  you can now sign up for this class in its 2016 version at Ricky’s new website https://www.photoclassforyou.com/

Anyway, for about the past half the year, I’ve been sharing each week’s lesson results with you here on my blog. My photography education this year began this way:

In December of last year, I saw Ricky’s post on Facebook announcing a photography challenge for 2015.   I promptly signed up, knowing that I needed the push to learn more about my DSLR and really USE it, since it is heavier and more complicated than my Panasonic SuperZoom.   I’ve always loved photography, and the class also included learning to use Photoshop (PS).  I was a bit leery, since PS used to cost a fortune–like $300+.  But now Adobe sells it as a subscription of $10.54 per month with a free trial month (or is it two?).  So I figured over three years that cost equals each edition of PS but in manageable monthly payments.  Now that I have used it, I wouldn’t be without it.

These mushrooms/toadstools in the yard are HUGE—at least 6 inches across when opened.  They seem to scream “ do NOT eat me!”  Smart sharpen, slight adjust to brighten.

One of my better recent shots.  Right click to see larger. These mushrooms/toadstools in the yard are HUGE—at least 6 inches across when opened. They seem to scream “ do NOT eat me!” Smart sharpen, slight adjust to brighten.

Now you can sign up for NEXT year [2016 R. Tims photo challenge part 1 sign up and info] to take a similar version of this course (Ricky has re-formatted it from 52 weeks in one swoop into a 26 week and two 13 week segments).  He asked for blurbs, I was happy to provide, and I’m so pleased he included my testimonial on his new website for teaching photography.

Right click to see larger.

Right click to see larger.  Here’s that hotlink again to take you to the page pictured above.

Your photography skills—composition, knowing your camera, and processing—will grow exponentially over the course.  Best of all, each lesson’s scope is a do-able “bite-size.”  If you have more time, you can go deeper, learning from fellow students’ work.  Recently, I took my son’s Senior (HS) portrait and the comments were “looks professional!”  That’s thanks to how much I have learned this year.

Here are a couple more of my recent photos that I think represent what I’ve learned.

More autumn decay with blueberry barrens, decaying stone wall and birches in autumn in Maine. The usual edits:  smart sharpen, tiny bit of vibrance, crunching levels.

More autumn decay with blueberry barrens, decaying stone wall and birches in autumn in Maine.
The usual edits: smart sharpen, tiny bit of vibrance, crunching levels.

 

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….

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!