Home is where the story begins

I am always inspired by those photographers/artists that can tell an amazing story using a photograph(s) and their imaginations.  To get a better idea of what I mean check out Living The Photo Artistic Life, a publication on the Issuu app (an awesome app for all sorts of free resources, btw).   Another self-taught process for me, I am slowly learning how to translate the story I imagine without it getting lost in the reality of the image.

The-White-House“Our House” is one of my photos that has such a  story and that I have been working on translating.   When I saw this white house with its blue roof, standing all alone, looking lived in – but not, inviting – but with no access, charming & quaint – against a drab backdrop of bare trees and gray sky, I was intrigued… what was its story?  Why is there a house here with no driveway, who lived here and when, where did they come from…where did they go?  Of course, I will probably never know its real story; heck, I don’t even know the name of the road (or town) where this house sits to research it.   So I have to come up with my own story.  If I were to write it, it might go something like this…

A  little white house sits all alone  on a little rise where one can see for miles in any direction. It’s long and winding drive stops at the wobbly front porch as a welcome to all.  And from that front porch, we sit lazily watching travelers pass us by.

…well, something like that, which is why I think I’ll stick to developing my storytelling with pictures.

But finding those words only came as I continued to rework the image to uncover the story stuck in my imagination…  I thought drama, maybe, as a B&W.

The-White-House-BW-1 but I don’t see the world in B&W.   I thought vintage, The-White-House-BWit is from a time long ago after all, and put a touch color back and added and element or two.  Although adding some elements helped the story start to unfold, those feelings ~ that made me stop the car cold, trespass in someone’s drive, and stand on a roadside with no margin for error ~ were the elements I needed.  I needed the  whimsy, quaintness, and quizzical nature of this dwelling that I saw when I clicked the shutter.
The-White-House-RevisedBorrowing the title from a tune by Crosby, Stills and Nash that played over and over in my head while I worked on this image, Our House… now has my story.

Until next time,
Maria

♥acknowledgements♥  special thanks for helping me find my story 2LO texture artists, Jai Art, Florabella actions, and the gang at Topaz Labs.

 

A little dusting…

can go long way.

Week 2 – Landscape.  I’ve really been feeling a bit uninspired…   Last week rain, this week it has been reeealy cold and getting myself to get out there and go some where… nope, just too easy to stay put where it’s warm and dry.   And then!  We got a dusting of snow ~ a game changer.   I wasn’t even really looking for that landscape when I took the dogs for their walk.  It’s a usual path, pretty brown, nothing really ever jumps out and says take my picture (unless one of the dogs does something cute), but with just a dusting of frozen white (and the first of the season), the usual path was transformed.20160113_124657-01  With dogs in tow, I took a couple shots with my phone ~ actually a few more than a couple, because (a) I cannot see the screen on my phone when my transitions darken, and (b) insurance that I am holding my phone steady enough – a challenge also when holding two dogs.   Fingers now sufficiently frozen, we turned to head home and then there it was… the pond, frozen, with these large circles of ice where the snow did not stick, making a beautiful design all across the pond.  Fingers too frozen to break out my phone again and the sun still too strong (talk about blown highlights), I knew I had to revisit it later that afternoon without two dogs and fingers thawed and crossed that my timing would be right and the sun wouldn’t warm things up enough to change the ice patterns.  Almost 4:00, I was pretty sure I missed my opportunity (and the sun on the pond), but I was all bundled up, so what the heck – maybe I would see something else I hadn’t seen earlier.  But oh my!  When I got to my destination, the sun was hitting the pond like a stone skimming across the water  and all those circles were now glistening discs.  Andif that weren’t enough, I had a backdrop of  wispy winter clouds and a touch of beautiful blue sky ~ I have my landscape.

week-2---Landscape

It just goes to show, you don’t have to travel great distances or visit far off places to see something unique, you just need to allow yourself to see… wherever you might be.

Until next time,
Maria

 

It’s me…

again, and again, and again …

selfie_bw_after  selfie_bw_before  self-portrait  my51stbirthday  watermark mishap 1 So what’s one more…

who's-there-self-portrait

Whew, week 1 done.
Next up, week 2, traditional landscape… I sure hope it warms up just a tad.

Until next time,
Maria

A fond farewell…

quote-about-life - 1
It’s almost time to say goodbye to 2015 and I’ll remember it fondly.   It’s so easy to forget the upside of the year, when there are so many not so nice things going on in the world around us or just because the day-to-day grind is just that a grind… where every morning we hit the repeat button (i.e. the alarm clock).  But!  I like when there’s a but… with the aid of this blog and the thousands  of photos from 2015 to jog my memory, it turns out it was a very good year.   I challenged myself in new ways and was relatively successful.  I said goodbye to somethings and hello to new possibilities.   Most importantly, the little voice in my head… the one called doubt… has become very quiet, and when it can be heard, it actually tends to help me rather than hinder me.   So on that note… and my last philosophical thought for 2015… let’s have some fun in 2016!

So my 365 day challenge has been scaled down to a 52 week challenge.  But!  This is a good thing.  A weekly challenge gives me some time to prepare, time to think outside the box, and time get a little creative.  I found a list on PetaPixel by Photographer Dale Foshe.  After reading it over, it looks like I’ll be leaving that comfort zone quite a bit, especially for those people pictures – now that’s a challenge!  Apparently, there are a lot of us looking for a good challenge.  I woke up this a.m. to find the 52 Week FB group already closed due to the overwhelming response.  But!  You can still get a copy of the 52 week list, just click HERE !

Okay, Week One of 2016 – a selfie.   Hmm, I have been playing around with my new smart phone lately.  Maybe one of these will do?

2015 Selfies

Nah, first, they’re from 2015.   Second, I’m not sure any of these capture the real me … whoever she may be.  And third, I’m determined to take a selfie that does not magnify my nose😉 .

I hope you’ll follow along or better yet join me and the 52-week challenge posted at PetaPixel.  I know, I know… I’ve headed out on one of these in the past and like getting any new routine to stick {sigh} – diet & exercise come to mind – that will be a challenge in itself.  But! as the rest of my favorite saying reminds me…

quote-about-life - 2

Wishing you Happy New Year!

Until next time
(which will be next week with my selfie ;-) )
Maria

It’s not easy being green

Good Morning!  Thought I would share some links and a how-I-did-that today before all the holiday festivities set in…  This month’s photo group assignment was for everyone to try out a Topaz Remask tutorial.  Although I shared it with the group the previous month, I didn’t do a very good job explaining it…  Remask is one of those techniques where following along and actually doing it is much more useful in achieving a good result.   So I’m not going to try to explain it  here either, but if you need a little bit of help with removing your subject from the background give it a try {click}.   So what’s the purpose of this post then?  Well, it’s about the other things I learned while while working on this image.

So this is my original.  Remask_original I definitely did not pick it for it composition qualities.  I picked it solely for my model’s hair and to try out the Remask tutorial.  First, a good crop and a quick touch-up using the Portrait Professional plug-in.  Then I moved on Remask.

Following the tutorial Screenshot (2), I still wasn’t getting the result I was looking for.  I was left with a green halo –  backlash from using the green screen/background.     But not only did it leave a green halo in and around her hair, her complexion, the dress, and flowers all had a slightly green hue (i.e. color cast). Remask_Remask  I know my mistake now… not only was the backdrop behind her, but she was standing on it.  Did I mention I rarely do studio portraits?  Lets just say working with lights (other than natural) and backdrops is an education in progress for me.  To deal with the green color cast I tried a variety of methods from using levels, to color balance, to color selection and masking – all just falling short of the mark; whites may have gotten whiter, but skin tones and hair suffered or vise-versa.    After a few trial and errors, and a number of complete do-overs, I finally came across this You Tube color cast tutorial Screenshot (3)  using the hue blending mode.  Turns out not only is it a quick and simple technique, but very effective. Remask_colorcast Once satisfied that my model no longer looked like she was suffering from a bad case of seasickness, I could get to work on some finishing touches, although not 100% where I would like it to be, I’m a lot closer … and a lot less green.  Remask_final Screenshot (4)

So that’s my share.  I hope you like it… It’s a keeper for me.  I can already see it coming in handy when the trees and grass turn lush and green again…

Until next time,
Maria

By Doing…

by-doing-ornament

It’s getting near that time…  yes Christmas too, but I’m looking even a little further ahead… to when we make all those New Year’s resolutions… and, if we’re lucky, by this time next year, we may actually accomplish one or two of them.   Just like the ones I published here four years ago (http://wp.me/pOD64-9f).  I’m so glad I stopped to check because the original draft of today’s post was almost a complete duplicate… with one exception.

So looking back (to 2011 and probably every year since then) and those photography resolutions, they were rather generic (and safe) resolutions, the kind you see on blog’s everywhere as the New Year approaches.  And to think I almost posted them again…  But in reality, I’ve actually  succeeded at many of those resolutions since then.  Seems I forgot just how much and with how much enthusiasm because the majority of my year(s) is spent being a mom, a wife, a medical transcriptionist, and…  So the photographer, well, she gets what’s left of those little snippets of time here and there.

So you would think that with so little time, I would make the very best use of it… you would think.  This is where a whole new resolution comes in and the only one this year, well, at least as it relates to my photography/art/creativity.

The resolution: I will stop comparing what I am not doing as a photographer/artist to what all the other photographers/artists/instragrammers/bloggers are doing.   In what started as a fun social media community of inspiration has actually turned into a nasty little… habit… no more like a compulsion.  Whew, I think I’ve caught myself in time…  I get that most of what I see or read comes from individuals/communities where this is a large part of their everyday life… for whatever the reasons such that they’ve made it their career, they’ve already had their career and now have the time and opportunities to pursue their interests more fully, or maybe it is that they are just so much better organized the me.   My reality, my days (and some nights) are full… but I can do a lot better on how I spend what spare time I do have.  I’ve actually already started the weening process (like turning off all those social media notifications), but it has not been easy.  More times than not (out of habit) I open that iPad or hop on my smart phone and “check in” and before I know it…  I’ve used up my free time and have nothing to show for it.   So, the goal for the New Year is instead of opening the iPad or turning on my phone (while I’m having breakfast or lunch, or while dinner is cooking, or just taking a break when I get those little snippets of free time) ~ except for when a blog post hits me ~  will be to open my coloring book (yes! it has finally arrived) Coloring-Studio or to read a little of the Artist’s Way and use the journal, and! I’m taking on a 365-day challenge… because underneath it all for me is the photography and everything it brings.

Anyone know of a good 365-day challenge?  Or maybe you have a photographic/creative resolution for the New Year to share?  I’d love to hear it…

So I have 19 days, 16 hours, 26 minutesGet your color on and 30, 29…. seconds (or even less…assuming I actually post this when I’ve written it) to start!   And who knows, maybe between all the Christmas shopping, wrapping, baking, decorating…. I might find a snippet of time,  before my head hits the pillow….

“What one does is what counts. Not what one had the intention of doing.”
― Pablo Picasso

Until next time, wishing everyone an enlightening and creative 2016 (why wait)!
Maria

be thankful

Thankful

Good Morning!  Getting an early start… there’s so much to fit in today, some of the usual holiday activities… and some not so traditional like catching my son’s very first 8k Turkey Trot this morning; I do love when a new tradition starts.  Then there’s some cooking, the family gathering, and of course the big finish, the turkey dinner.  It’s quiet now, a good time to reflect on all that I am thankful for… which is so very much!  I truly am blessed for everything and everyone in my life.

   Wishing you & yours a
Happy Thanksgiving

be-grateful

Until next time,
Maria