One of the most challenging things about art is taking its formal portrait.
I’ve tried enlisting local photographers leaving them with explicit instructions only to have images returned with clothespins fastening the piece on a wire–a sleeve was attached to the top; pieces shot at an angle; no detail shots.
That being a failure, I tried pinning the piece to my design boards–covered with gray felt. Then there was the problem of distance from the piece.
I tried hanging the piece on my front porch from hooks and a wire strung through the sleeve. Although I started with not a wisp of wind setting things up; by the time I was ready to push the button on the camera; gale force winds ruffled the edges of the piece.
My next effort including buying two sets of stands and a black photographic drape. This works well except on dark rainy days; additional lighting casts awkward shadows. And I was still limited by size.
And so, this is my next iteration for larger pieces. I hung two sets of brackets on the side of the shed; hung a drape leftover from a quilt show; set up the tripod–remembering the clamp for the camera.
Success for the smaller piece.
Excited by my success, I hung up the next piece. It was too long!
Up on the ladder I went, and moved the closet poles up next to each other.
However, I have a still larger one to photo today. I will be moving those brackets up about six inches.
Thanks to the Pixeladies, I know enough photoshop to crop and re-color, rotate, and resize the images.
This week’s assignment was as noted….
Sometimes the idea for the photograph comes easily and quickly; other times I can never seem to find it. I really don’t like to set up photos either–I like to discover things in situ–it makes it more of a visual diary of things I see and do.
While working away at some required paperwork–i.e. computer test, I happened to look up. My desk faces the east and it was early morning. We haven’t had a lot of sunshine lately despite the promises and predictions of our local weather guy.
The sun was peeking through the early morning haze through the blinds. There are three windows–the wide window is flanked on each side by a narrow one. Blinds are on each window, all in different positions—similar but not identical.
This week’s new photo assignment is to find something that rhymes with ‘ork’. Going through the alphabet led me to ‘Stork’. Maybe the spoonbills were out at Cat-Tail Marsh.
It has been a few months since we’ve been there. A new observation post has been set up, the parking lot is nicely paved and level replacing the gravelly rutty one, and it was a fine day–in the 70’s after a few days of miserable gray dreary cold days.
People were out…with small children, dogs on leashes; one was a dedicated runner, another was a casual bicyclist. Then there were the photographers—dressed in camo with yard long lenses.
I had my trusty little Canon SX10 and no tripod.
The spoonbills were not to be seen.
In fact, there didn’t seem to be many birds. Maybe they were frightened away by all the building commotion. We did learn a large eagle nest with chicks was at the far end of the pond and spoonbills were plentiful at Anahuac.
Another time–perhaps—-but it was a nice day to be out.
Somehow January always flies by along with all of my good intentions. With the federal government in disarray we chose to do our First Day of the Year hike in Village Creek State Park. One of the trails had been re-opened after Harvey with extensive work by the rangers. We marveled at the amount of sand the river had deposited…one ranger told us that sand covered the trees and vegetation..almost like snow!
We learned that work days were planned for volunteers to come in and assist with getting the park back into visitor readiness. On the first Saturday of February, a group of about ten folks arrived with work gloves and ready to work.
Our job was to smooth out one trail and to reclaim two picnic sites. The flooding had deposited 6 to 12 inches of lovely white…and HEAVY sand on two of the sites. We shoveled and raked and hauled sand for three hours….I did some shoveling and raking–but spent more time taking photos until I filled up my card.
The two rangers worked along with us–putting as much if not more effort into the project. We offered all sorts of suggestions of needed equipment and wished TxDOT would repair the bridge soon–easier and safer for needed equipment to drive over a bridge that doesn’t have a huge hole underneath..but the state moves slowly.
But then, the quiet and stillness of just a few people shuffling through the sand and no engines, just the wind whispering in the tree tops, the hawk soaring overhead….maybe it is just fine that the bridge is low on their to-do list.
A few more photos of the day are here: https://sylviaweirphotos.smugmug.com/Texas/Village-Creek-State-Park/i-gvZs9Ns/A
After what seemed to be years of daily rain, dreary skies, and chilly winds, a day outdoors–anywhere—seemed like a great idea.
We scanned through the various offerings by Texas State Parks–Sea Rim looked fun–but then there was Village Creek. I had been as far as the front gate but never inside–and it was just twenty minutes away.
The sun came out and the day was pleasant enough in the sun and walking–standing and in the shade of all those pine trees it was a bit chilly.
A smallish group assembled and we walked through what we could. Hurricane Harvey had moved several bridges; tipped one on its side, took out the canoe landing and a road–and deposited a lot of sand in the picnic area–those ubiquitous gas grills were only inches above the sand when the waters receded.
Promises of a new road, a new canoe landing, a new bridge–all to be completed before next year’s first day hike—-and of course, a work day the first Saturday of each month.
More photos from the day are here:
We are fortunate to live near the Big Thicket. This happens to be part of the swamp land extending to Florida. At one time and probably still does, people wishing to avoid the consequences of illegal activities hid out in this thickety swampy area. Early missionaries, soldiers, explorers, and ‘the law’ frequently gave up on penetrating this area.
Today, though, large sections are blocked off with boardwalks and trails throughout.
After attending a Christmas party in the country and eating far too much, we decided to take a walk on one of the nearby trails….the Sundew.
We may have spied one sundew plant but there were absolutely no bugs out–a delight for us–but no dinner for the sundews or the pitcher plants.
Last Week’s photo assignment was to do a self-portrait.
All of us photographers groaned—because we are happier standing behind the camera than in front.
And as artists we vastly prefer ‘interesting’ faces–faces that have lived life and have big noses, or pointy chins or scars or wrinkles, none of us want to be remembered as having wrinkles or scars or dare I say the forbidden word that begins with ‘O’?
Our walk on the Sundew Trail was not planned but it turned out to be an absolutely gorgeous day so welcome after days of gloom and intermittent rain. My tripod was in MY vehicle, and so I had to rely upon hand-held photography with my husband being a willing participant in the project.
Once home, I uploaded one of the photos and thought–my goodness, look at all those wrinkles. I found the section in photoshop elements that provides alterations in portraits. This was great fun–like an electronic Mr. Potato Head but in the end I chose to not do any alterations to the image.
And so here I am–wrinkles and all.
While work is satisfying in its own way, driving through parts of this country has its own appeal.
Del Rio is located on the Rio Grande not as far west as El Paso but still a long drive from the most eastern part of Texas. The town is a border town with Spanish being spoken, many are bilingual but many still depend upon an interpreter–usually a younger member of the family.
My work there is always on a Saturday and frequently leaves me large parts of Saturday afternoon to explore the area. I’ve visited Amistad Resevoir, Seminole Canyon State park, Whitehead Museum featuring Judge Roy Bean the Hanging Judge, and driven past the Brinkley mansion–home of the famous goat testicle implant doctor.
Agriculture seems to consist of large fields of cotton. Last month I watched them harvest the cotton, with flurries of cotton plants blowing around like dirty brown snowflakes. The cotton was put into bales, many of which are still on the edge of the fields. Now some of them are numbered. I tried to get a good photo of them, but the best opportunity was near a sign warning me not to pick up hitchhikers as they may be escaping inmates.
There are three bladed windmills absorbing power and windmills pumping water.
There is a border patrol station complete with a K-9 and cameras to look under vehicles.
And yesterday there was one of the most spectacular sunrises I have seen in a long time. If I hadn’t been so concerned regarding driving through San Antonio (traffic was very light) and then Houston (traffic very heavy) I would have stopped just to enjoy.
Last week’s photo assignment was ‘old paint’. I had visions of a poor old horse missing most of its teeth, a sagging middle, missing hair and an Eeyore expression on its face.
I could draw such a beast but decided to look for actual paint that might be peeling or otherwise distressed or fading.
An old falling down house with a ladder on the porch reaching to the roof–no means of accessing the top of the porch had some lovely yellow paint with scraped places–I think they might have been mildew /rotting part.
And then there was the curb.
The end of summer is here with school buses stopping awkwardly in the streets, students standing eagerly dressed in new clothes and shoes next to their parents in designated bus stops and I am cleaning.
After digging through boxes and bags for a project–more on that later, I set myself the project of consolidating and tossing–glue bottles with solid glue, paintbrushes that no longer brushed, and pens that no longer wrote.
And now I am tackling one of my SD cards.
Sorting photos several weeks or months afterwards tends to take away the preciousness of each image–making it far easy to delete those duplicates. I do have a fair number of works in progress photos for that day when I am famous and everyone will want to know how I worked through creating a piece.
For now here is San Antonio on an early Sunday morning when the streets were empty and a few people gathered at the church in the square.