02/4/16

CAG Members Exhibition 2016 & More!

CAG Members Exhibition 2016 Entry - "Union of Spirit"

Top: Entry – “Union of Spirit” / Bottom: CAG Members Exhibition 2016

I’m thrilled that my work is currently being displayed at the CAG Members Exhibition 2016 in Charleston, and the photograph that I entered, “Union of Spirit” received a recognition award! If you have a chance to stop by before February 6, you can view it along with all of the other amazing artwork.

“Union of Spirit” is a Limited Edition, which is currently on its Ninth Edition. The piece in the Exhibition is Edition No. 4—the other editions were sold either as matted archival pigment prints or with a different framing treatment.

“Union of Spirit” is a very special photograph of a family of Great Egrets that was in the making for four+ months while I observed the mother sitting on the nest waiting for her eggs to hatch; watching the young chicks grow; and then, very infrequently, seeing the parents together with the chicks. Hundreds of days and shots later, it was an exciting moment when the male (father) flew up to the nest and the whole family interacted together.  You can see the anticipation and excitement between the parents and the chicks.  It’s amazing that they just know they are a family, and each parent knows how to care for their young in their own way—they’re not told what to do—they just know.

I will be adding this photograph to my Portfolio, so you can view it there in the near future. If you’d like to check out my Portfolio, which represents a small sample of my images, click on this link:  Susan DeTomi Fine Art Photography Portfolio or click on the link in the right sidebar of this blog.  Stay tuned because I will talk about my Portfolio a bit more in a future posting!

01/28/16

Sparkling New Year!

Charleston gate with foliage sparkling with color

“Sparkling Charleston”

I hope everyone had wonderful holidays and a great start to the New Year! I sympathize with those who had to deal with harsh winter conditions and an avalanche of snow in the Northeast and beyond. Charleston certainly had its share of bad weather this year, but snow was not in the mix.

I hesitate to admit that I enjoy a little chilly weather and snow during the winter—it allows you to appreciate the sunny beautiful days even more.

More on the positive side:
❆ Everything seems cozier inside when it’s cold and snowy outside.
❆ There is nothing like the smell of comfort food wafting from the kitchen.
❆ A peaceful quietude permeates the air when it’s snowing. If you stand very still, you can almost hear the velvety snowflakes touch the ground.
❆ When it’s chilly outside, everything sparkles a little brighter.

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? My interpretation is that it represents the unique creation; artistic endeavor; idea; view; or vision represented in an individual’s artwork–that artistic vision which came out of their own history; thoughts; location; attitudes; emotions, etc. at the time they created the artwork.

It is important to respect the artistic vision of artists and creators or they/we will all be doing the same thing, and that will not only be demotivating for artists striving for originality in their work, but it will be uninteresting for those who view the artwork.

In this world of easy access to everything with the internet, people forget to respect each others’ unique visions and hard work. It is too easy to stake claim to others’ visions and works by claiming them on Facebook and other social media outlets; backdating postings; information; writing; original ideas; and artwork–thereby making it your own. An example of this is the practice of creating facsimile or derivative artwork that was viewed from another artist.

The message I’d like to convey here is that artists should strive to dig deeper into the creative resources that lie within themselves; and that appreciators/buyers of art should support artists that forge original ideas and artwork that came from the creator’s own artistic vision!

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!

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. Therein lies the rub—although the answer is yes, what do you mean by “photoshopped”?!

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.

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.

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.

04/9/13

Springtime in the Lowcountry

Springtime in the Lowcountry

Springtime in the Lowcountry

He witnessed the beauty for a moment and then looked away.
When he turned his head back around… it was gone.

 

Spring finally arrived in the South Carolina lowcountry (low-lying region along the coast) as plantations and gardens awash with color boast abundant varieties of flora, including azaleas, irises, wisteria, dogwood, and others. The lowcountry possesses an ethereal beauty that is unlike any other, bringing thousands of visitors to the area every year just to witness the fleeting spectacle.

Walking around Magnolia Plantation with my camera last week, I bumped into one such visitor carrying a point-and-shoot camera and a bewildered expression on his face. We greeted one another, and then he confessed his extreme frustration at leaving his good camera equipment at home, lamenting, “I just didn’t expect this. I’m not sure how impressed I was with anything…until I saw this—right here, right now! This is amazing!”

02/15/13

What is Fine Art Photography?

When photographic images are referred to as “fine art,” it raises questions—perhaps because it gives an impression that fine art images are somehow superior; more artistic; even gallery-worthy. Still, there is a history and an established meaning of “fine art images” in the world of photography.

Advocates such as S.D. Jouhar, founder and Chairman of the Photographic Fine Art Association in 1961, strove to establish a new classification of photography created as art, defining “fine art” as “creating images that evoke emotion by a photographic process in which one’s mind and imagination are freely but competently exercised (Jouhar).”

Along those lines, fine art photography was distinguished from commercial photography.   Jouhar strove to classify photography as an art rather than a craft, one of the prevailing perceptions at the time. The new definition also encompassed the “technical” perspective from which the photograph was created, emphasizing “fine perception” and “technical execution.”

Clearly, characterizing photography as fine art was intended to promote it in a new and positive way that would benefit all photographers. Even so, common misperceptions exist about the use of this term, suggesting it may be a means to elevate a photographer’s status.

Investigating present day photographers for the meaning of “fine art photography,” Alain Briton provides a note-worthy analysis of the term in his essay, “Fine Art Photography Top 16” (Briot, 2010), excerpted below:

  1. “Become an expert in light
  2. Compose your images carefully
  3. Study colors and contrast
  4. Create images that represent what you felt, not just what you saw
  5. Focus on quality not quantity
  6. Master both art and technique
  7. Master all the aspects of fine art photography (composition, conversion, optimization, printing, curating, and exhibiting)
  8. Optimize your photographs using layers in Photoshop
  9. Make the final print your goal
  10. Mat and present your work in a professional manner
  11. Focus your work and effort on projects
  12. Share your work with others and build an audience
  13. Do not try to recreate the wheel
  14. Create a personal style
  15. Do not expect success overnight
  16. Do not overestimate talent” 

References:

Briot, A. (2010, June 5). Fine Art Photography Top 16. Retrieved February 15, 2013, from Nature Photographers – Online Magazine: www.naturephotographers.net

Jouhar, D. S. (n.d.). Dr. S.D. Jouhar (1901-1963) – A Retrospective. Retrieved February 15, 2013, from wwwsdjouhar.com

02/15/13

New Topics on Photography!

I’m expanding this photoblog, Impressions, to feature articles on photography-related topics in addition to continuing with its original focus—to display photographs by Susan DeTomi blended with creative writing.

Customers approach me to discuss all aspects of photography, so adding those discussions as topics for blog postings seemed like the perfect way to share them!

07/25/12

Ode to Angel Oak

Angel Oak, John's Island

Angel Oak

I wrote the haiku that follows, revealing my fascination with a tree—yes, a tree—a Southern Live Oak, well-known as the Angel Oak located in Johns Island, South Carolina.

The Southern Live Oak is a magnificent tree with curving branches that reach out in every direction and then arch up again toward the sky, and the Angel Oak is the granddaddy of them all.  Measuring 65 feet tall with limbs stretching out to 180 feet at their widest point, tip-to-tip (according to Wikipedia), the Angel Oak is the oldest living Live Oak tree in the Southeast and has quite a following. Each time I visit the tree, I witness the awe and admiration surrounding it. Visitors from all over the world are snapping pictures and can often be seen hugging the tree, hoping to absorb some of its strong life force.

And so I wrote this haiku, a sort of ode to the Angel Oak which speaks for itself:

06/27/12

Riding a Butterfly

"Rding a Butterfly" poem & Clouded Sulphur photo

Clouded Sulphur at Bear Island

Riding a Butterfly
If I hitched a ride from a butterfly,
holding tight, wings fluttering beside me—
I wouldn’t have to ramble through brush,
woven with prickers, every pest in tow,
to catch a glimpse of one perfect flower—
gardens and meadows alike, we would go.
My flighty host would alight each blossom,
sipping sweet nectar from a very fine straw;
the flowers would shower us with pollen,
the wind gently blowing the seeds to sow;
the bees would encircle us for hours,
all the while, putting on their jealous show.
– Susan DeTomi

04/3/12

April Showers

Couple under umbrella at Middleton Place

April Showers

Although it seldom rains around Charleston, when it does, there is almost a refreshing sense of renewal in the air. Instead of wanting to run indoors, it makes you want to press your face to the sky and feel the cool droplets splash on your skin.

Strolling around Middleton Place last week, dodging rain showers throughout the morning, I turned a corner to find this couple, framed with azaleas, sharing an umbrella while live oaks formed a perfect canopy over their heads.

10/10/11

The Boneyard

Botany Bay Boneyard

The Boneyard

The Boneyard seems like a befitting theme as Halloween approaches, yet the boneyard captured in this picture doesn’t quite match the one that comes to mind, the image of a graveyard, scattered with headstones tended by splintered black trees, stabbing their craggy limbs into the steel gray sky. This graveyard belongs to Mother Nature—a graveyard of trees slowly being reclaimed by the sea—trees that are now just remnants of what they once were. This place possesses a haunting beauty, a dichotomy of life and death that transcends elements of nature into the supernatural.

Despite the outward forces of destruction, life is teeming in and around the boneyard at Botany Bay Plantation: surf continues to batter the shoreline, pelicans fly in symmetrical formations overhead, and the sun shines so brightly you can scarcely steal a glance at the Carolina sky. The sculptural tree relics of the boneyard contrast starkly against the life-giving blues of the sky, and, still, this place of turbulence is much more than a ghostly apparition. A diverse wildlife population flourishes nearby, including endangered species such as Loggerhead Sea Turtles, Wilson’s Plovers, and Least Terns. After spotting one of the rare Painted Buntings that inhabit this coastal area, I am reminded once again that life goes on

09/17/11

Edge of the Hurricane

Hurricane Irene at Kiawah Island

Edge of the Hurricane

On the edge of Hurricane Irene, in the early evening of August 26 just before the sun started to go down on Kiawah Island, SC, a rainbow emerged between a thick band of eerie gray clouds enveloping the shoreline and the sun-streaked sky.

The rainbow lingered for a few moments and then disappeared into the night, stealing the last rays of sunshine with it, leaving behind a mere notion of its presence. After taking her respite on this coastal paradise, Irene, too, set her sights farther East and tumbled along towards more prominent shorelines.

08/18/11

Little Armored One

"Little Armored One"

Little Armored One

After chasing several varieties of dragonflies on the Edisto Nature Trail a couple of months ago, I heard something rustling in the dead leaves to the left of the walkway, where I spotted a small patch of gray peaking through the mélange of brown. What could this naked, hairless patch of gray be connected to? A snake? Some type of reptile?

The rustling continued until, up popped two ears, alert and erect, followed by a pointy snout. The little body emerged, scaled and practically hairless, followed by a long, segmented tail. It then became clear that this little critter was a baby armadillo, somewhat resembling Piglet from Winnie the Pooh. It brought to mind a family trip to Florida many years ago when I saw my first armadillo, only that earlier siting was a full grown one, sizable in comparison to this little baby and fully encased in a shell of “armor”.

The critter continued foraging through the dead leaves, waddling along, while intermittently poking his head down into the leaves. He was so small, I could nearly fit his entire body in the palm of my hand, but of course I did not, fearing the mother’s retribution to me and to her baby. So I left him there, alone, to find his own way, his mother nowhere in sight. Afterwards, my discovery left me wanting to learn more about this little creature that I stumbled upon in the forest, so I did my own digging…

It is no wonder that the armadillo is such a prehistoric looking creature, as its most recent ancestor existed 60 million years ago; however, it was much larger than the present day armadillo, which typically weighs between 8 and 17 pounds. According to Audubon, the nine-banded armadillo is the only species of armadillo living in the United States, although there are 20 different species of the mammal in Latin America. The name armadillo is of Spanish origin and means “little armored one” due to the hard shells on its head, back, legs, and tail, which do not harden until the animal is fully grown. Armadillos make their homes in shady areas such as forests and brushland. They mainly eat a wide range of insects and larvae, including earthworms, spiders, snails, cockroaches, ants, wasps, flies, beetles, and such, searching for their prey by burrowing and digging into ground litter. They often become road kill victims on the highway due to their natural instinct of jumping upwards when faced by a predator, which doesn’t help them much when approached by a moving vehicle.

Although the armadillo is associated with negative connotations, being the only other mammal to carry leprosy other than humans and often being implicated as a nuisance to homeowners and golf-course operators alike due to its burrowing behavior, I prefer to think of this creature in a more whimsical way. Rudyard Kipling said it best in, “The Beginning of the Armadillo”, a story about how a hedgehog, who couldn’t swim, and a turtle, who couldn’t curl up, became an armadillo, who could do both. The Mother Jaguar in the story remarks at the end, “But it isn’t a hedgehog, and it isn’t a tortoise. It’s a little bit of both, and I don’t know its proper name.”

~ Susan DeTomi

08/12/11

Welcome to Impressions Photoblog!

Welcome to Impressions, a photoblog featuring photography blended with creative writing along with a smattering of articles on photography-related topics.

The photographs featured in some of the posts represent only a small sample of my body of work— photography, primarily found in nature, presented in strong compositions fused with artistry.

I’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to display some of this work as well as make it available for purchase for years in connection with my photography business, Susan DeTomi Photography, based in Charleston, South Carolina.

My five-year tenure as a juried artist at the Charleston Farmers Market allowed me to reach a worldwide audience with my photography, and I am currently exhibiting at the Charleston Artist Guild Gallery in Charleston.

(Although I started this blog in 2011, I updated this Welcome post for 2016! )