04/9/15

Design, Photography, & Artistic Vision

Design & Photography

One of my new photographs, “Color Envy”,  was recently selected for the Juried Signature Art Exhibition with the Charleston Artists Guild & Gallery.  The title alludes to stark realities and instincts inherently present in nature and the animal world, such as the struggle to survive.  Peacocks, for example, are incredibly beautiful creatures, yet that beauty comes at a price. Last year, I observed several peacocks throughout the breeding season. By the end of the season, one of the peacocks was still sporting its striking array of feathers, while the others were so battle-worn, they had nothing left but quills to display. Peacocks and other birds battle each other over territory, mates, food, and status, sometimes to the death. This year I watched a great blue heron nest with two babies in it and witnessed one of the babies almost peck the other to death. The poor chick was hanging out of the nest, its back bleeding and raw while the other continued to peck at it with no remorse.

“Color Envy” also reveals the intricate patterns, colors, and design on the back of a peacock and in nature. My love of design frequently reveals itself in my photography, and there are many elements of design embodied in nature. Last year I released a photograph, “Design by Peacock”, which displays different aspects of design and color on the peacock than this year’s piece, “Color Envy”.

Speaking of design, I enjoy helping clients to select artwork by reviewing color and design elements in their spaces and working with them to select photographs. I just completed a Consultation for a client who wanted coastal photographs for a recently redecorated bedroom. We worked with all of the elements in the room, including an existing print; the paint color on the walls; the duvet and pillow colors; and the size and shape of the available space, to select the right pieces for that space. I’ve been doing this for a couple of years now, and I offer this service free of charge. I want to ensure that people select the right artwork for their spaces, and that they are happy with the work they’ve selected. So, if you would like me to do a Consultation for you, just contact me to set up a time to talk, skype, or meet. I’ve even done this remotely, whereby clients text or email photos of their spaces, and we work from there.

Two more newsworthy items I’d like to mention are: first, I am, in fact, working on a website. People frequently ask me about this, and I’ve been promising it for awhile. It would probably be finished by now, had I not been out enjoying the Spring bounty of photographic opportunities!

Second, I am a “swamp dweller” at this time of year because, for the last two years, I have been observing the wildlife and birds around the Audubon Swamp, which is an amazing natural habitat close to where I live. Although I was frequently the only one there last year, word must have caught on, and now there are many watchers and photographers at the swamp appreciating its natural beauty. I released many photographs over the last couple of years from that swamp, chronicling almost every bird in it, and I will be releasing many more this year!

Artistic Vision

What is artistic vision? Sometimes, its necessary to discuss difficult subjects, and I believe this one is worthy of bringing to light. In this world of easy access to everything with the internet, people forget to respect others’ ideas, individual creativity, and hard work.  [Read more...]

02/19/15

Happy New Year & Thank you!

Happy New Year sand drawing

Happy New Year!

Although it’s already February, let’s not forget that the year is still beginning, and it’s not too late to make it a great one!

I apologize for stepping away from this blog for so long. 2014 was a great year for my photography business, so my excuse is that I was taking photographs and growing my business. For all of the customers who purchased my photography or stopped by to appreciate it, I want to say thank you so much!—I never stop feeling excited and honored that people enjoy my photographs so much. I never get tired of the generous compliments that I receive as well. I’m dedicating this post to all of the wonderful people I met in 2014 and in the years before that, and I wanted to let each and every one of you know how I feel. Photography inspires me, but you have kept my inspiration and creativity thriving.

I shot the photograph in this post last year while strolling along Pawley’s Island beach on New Year’s Day. I didn’t create the “sandi”-work, but I appreciate the unique handwriting it was created with and wanted to share it. The year 2014 was in the original photo of the sand drawing, but I removed it and created an exclamation mark from its elements instead.

I’m looking forward to being back at the Charleston Farmer’s Market again this year, which starts on April 4. Hopefully, my dedication to my business, my photography, and to the market showed last year—I didn’t miss a single Saturday or Sunday all year. I look forward to seeing many of you back again this season, and, once again, let’s all have a very happy 2015!  [Read more...]

10/15/13

Was this Photoshopped?

I stopped counting the number of times I have been asked the question, Was this photoshopped? while discussing my photography, and I’m not always certain what it means. In an effort to get to an understanding of the question, this article offers food for thought.

First, Photoshop, a series of software programs by Adobe allowing users to process and edit their digital images, has become somewhat of a standard for digital imaging software. Before digital photography became prevalent, not that long ago, photographers processed, edited, and produced their images in the darkroom or at a lab using various processes and chemicals. Photoshop mirrors many of those processes digitally, such as dodging, a process to lighten areas of an image. Although many photographers still use film, digital photography—carried out with digital cameras, computers and monitors, and digital imaging software to process and produce the images has become the new standard —thus eliminating the need for film and the darkroom altogether.

In addition, different digital imaging software packages accomplish different things during the digital photography workflow. Some software is all-inclusive and does everything from generating the raw images from the camera to assisting with the printing, while other types of software accomplish a specific purpose, such as adding an aged effect to the image. Digital images, with the exception of those taken with super fast and easy point-and-shoot cameras or cell phones, typically require some type of editing. Even if the photographer shoots all of their digital images as JPEGs, they usually have to load them from the camera onto the computer and edit them in some way before producing them for web or print. Some cameras, including many point-and-shoots, come bundled with simple editing software, while other cameras, such as digital SLRs, require more sophisticated software to process the images. Many serious photographers shoot their images in RAW format (comparable to negatives with film), which allows for more editing, and, theoretically, achieves a better result. During the digital photography workflow, basic edits are accomplished with digital imaging software such as Photoshop—these edits change or improve upon functions that were not or could not be optimized during shooting such as lighting, color, composition, etc. Additionally, for more advanced users, abundant software packages exist that offer numerous functionalities and effects.

A number of high-end photographers very skilled with digital imaging software use Photoshop and other software programs to create dream-like fantasy photographs, while others use similar techniques to create false impressions—sometimes with good intentions, such as for advertising, and sometimes with bad intentions, as when paparazzi alter celebrity photos in unflattering ways for monetary gain. Along those lines, a popular connotation of the term “photoshopped” refers to images altered in such a way as to create a new image/photograph that is nothing like the original. For example, a photo of a woman floating over a body of water or a photo of a dog’s head fused onto the body of a human. The very nature of digital photography allows for these types of combinations, either to create a unique piece of digital art or to create a false impression.

So, getting to the heart of the question, Was this photoshopped? requires some explanation of its intent—Is the person posing the question wondering whether the photograph was shot in film or digitally? Are they inquiring if the photograph was put through an extreme editing process that substantially altered the original image? Was there another intent to the question?

With all of that said, in reference to digital photography, the answer to the question, Was this photoshopped?, almost has to be yes, taking into consideration that Photoshop is somewhat of a catch-all term for all digital imaging software.  [Read more...]

06/7/13

Friend or Foe?

Alligator and two turtles at Magnolia Plantation

Friend or Foe

A bunch of spectators, including me, looked on in awe at a peculiar companionship between an alligator and two turtles at Magnolia Plantation.  At times, during this spectacle, the turtles stepped onto the back of the alligator to sun themselves, unaware of the potential danger lurking there.

Turtles are, in fact, part of the alligator diet, yet they exhibit a strange camaraderie when the alligator is not in the mood for a meal. Springtime is the perfect time for them to share a sunny spot on the shoreline, taking pleasure in their mutual habitat.

Perhaps what struck observers of this strange amity is the dichotomous relationship they were witnessing between a friend and a foe—a relationship present in all of nature—the ability to exist in harmony in conflict with singular ambitions.  [Read more...]

05/10/13

Smoky Mountain Wildflowers

Smoky Mountain Wildflowers

Wildflower Waterfall

Two weeks ago, I visited Great Smoky Mountains National Park, between North Carolina and Tennessee, for the first time, catching the Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage in all its glory.  Starting at Oconaluftee River Trail in the lower elevations many varieties of Smoky Mountain wildflowers including Crested Iris, Thyme-leaved Bluets, Foamflower, and Blue Phlox dotted the terrain while elk meandered across the pathways and trotted out to a stream to have a long cool drink with their comrades.

Fearing the car ride up the mountains would be like so many other white-knuckle trips I’d taken to lofty peaks in the past, I mulled over whether to trek to the other side or play it safe in the low-lying area around the waterfalls. The well thought-out decision to make the journey did not go unrewarded, as surprises greeted us around every twist and turn—clusters of red and yellow Columbine and Bleeding Heart sprouted from craggy cliffs; Bishop’s Cap lined up along the slope in perfect unison; White Trillium peeked through bunches of Fire Pink; and whole cliff sides were sprayed in purple, as in the featured photograph, Wildflower Waterfall.

A fellow seeker of flora and fauna that day boasted about the unique ecosystem of the park, a part of the Southern Appalachian Mountains, referring to its extraordinarily diverse population of plant and animal life.  According to the National Park Service, “over 17,000 species have been documented in the park, and scientists believe an additional 30,000 – 80,000 species may live in the area.” Considering this, a one-day visit only whetted my eagerness to see more of this spectacle, and I’m already daydreaming of a Summer or Fall sojourn to take in a little bit more.  [Read more...]

04/22/13

Search or Serendipity?

Search or Serendipity?  Someone remarked recently that great photographs cannot be found by searching or hunting for them. At first, it made sense, but when I really thought about it, I’m not sure I agree. There are many times when planning a photography adventure for the sole purpose of photographing particular settings turns out extremely well.

Planning a trip doesn’t necessarily mean that the resulting photographs will be mundane; on the contrary, time and money can be saved with planning by ensuring that aspects such as weather and lighting will be advantageous for the photography. In addition, routes can be mapped to save time and gas that might otherwise be wasted looking for specific or for intriguing locations. That having been said, there is another side to that argument, which may hint at the intended spirit of the remark.

The reverse argument favors the idea of serendipity—finding that amazing photograph when you least expect it—unplanned, uncharted, and completely spontaneous. I’ve taken many surprising photographs resulting from chance encounters. More often than not, however, I find the unexpected during a planned trip. One such photograph titled, Stained Glass Tree, was taken on a visit to a popular waterfall. Although the waterfall was stunning, the real beauty that day was a scrubby looking maple glistening at the edge of a cliff overlooking the waterfall, sunlight illuminating its multicolored leaves while patches of blue sky peaked between every crevasse.

So, what is the best approach? There is no one right approach, but the message in this is that whether you plan a photography adventure or not, make sure that you remain open to all of your surroundings, not just your intended destination. You will be surprised at what hidden gems can be found.  [Read more...]