Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Daily News

I discovered something new on my excursion around town a couple of days ago - newspaper boxes! These were so fun to photograph, and are something I would not have even seen in the past.  Such great texture, color and shape in these weathered boxes.

They also made a great repeating pattern, all lined up in a row. The color differences make it more visually interesting, breaking up the pattern.

Do you have any of these around your town? Have you noticed them before?

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Seeing Green

A funky green-painted building on Carbondale Main Street made a great repeating pattern, in the sunshine and shadow.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Shaking off the Rust

Whatever your medium, if you've been away from it for a few weeks, the first days are going to be clumsy and fruitless. But things get easier as the rust falls away. The ideas come more smoothly. The hands on the instrument, the fingers at the keyboard, the eye at the easel respond in sync to the urgings of your mind and heart. You are fit and gleaming. You can't wait to attack your work.
- Twyla Tharp in The Creative Habit

Those of you who subscribe to my newsletter will recognize this quote. In the last newsletter, I talked about how rusty I am, not really photographing anything since my move back to the US. That all changed yesterday, when I took my camera out to explore my sister's little town of Carbondale, Colorado.

I may not be fit yet, but I'm getting back in shape. It's amazing how quickly the rust falls away, when you get back to doing something you love and have invested time learning. I found many interesting scenes to capture, and I could tell I saw things that I never would have seen two years ago.

Over the next few days I'll share a few images of repeating patterns I found in Carbondale, since that's the Exploring with a Camera theme right now. If you are ever in the Roaring Fork Valley of Colorado, between Glenwood Springs and Aspen, stop in this little town. It's worth a visit.

PS - Today is the last day of the One Life 2011 Photography Contest. Will you come vote for me one last time? 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Share Your View: Repeating Patterns

cocktail umbrella lantern

cocktail umbrella lantern by *jdarby*

Patterns, patterns everywhere. Our lives are made up of patterns of bricks and blocks and daily routines. Have you been seeing the patterns? Exploring with a Camera: Repeating Patterns continues for a second week, you can link in below or share your photo in the Flickr pool.

Today, enjoy this great photos shared by participants!

Nowhere to Go

Nowhere to Go by tim mcmurdo

FYI - Links will be moderated. Please use a permalink, ensure that your linked image is on topic, and include a link back to this site in your post through the Exploring with a Camera button (available here) or a text link. Thanks!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

And They're Off!

Here and there a few people have asked me to share how I'm going to do the Liberate Your Art postcard swap. I brought the box of envelopes with me on vacation to swap the postcards out and get them mailed. So here's how it was done...

First, I opened each envelope and laid them out on the floor. As I did this, I made sure they all had the right number of postcards (found a few more for me!), the right postage and labels. If anything was missing I took care of it as I laid them out. The swap participating was about 80% US and 20% non-US, so I made sure that every 5th envelope was a non-US participant so they would be mixed in. Otherwise, there was no planning involved as to the order.

Thankfully, my sister has a very large, open living and dining room (~600 sq ft), because the postcards looped around the full space. Here are a couple of photos to show you how it looked. I wish I could have captured the full extent of it!

Next, the easy part, actually doing the swap. Picking up the stack of 5 postcards from the pile, I dealt them out to the next five participants. I did the same thing, moving from one stack to the next on the left around the whole loop.

Finally, the labels and stamps had to be put on. This was the time-consuming part. I cajoled my husband into helping (he's such a good sport) and we went around the loop putting the postage and labels on all of the postcards, stack by stack. As we completed each participant's stack, we sorted them out in to five stacks for the different mailings. There is a sixth stack of postcards from me done too.

Here I am, mailing the first stack. The postcards are officially off. Look at all of that art being liberated in the world! Pretty cool, huh?? The second mailing will go out later this week!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Heading Out

I'm heading out for a few days, and my presence here will be a bit sporadic while I'm gone. Unfortunately, not to the Greek Isles this time (isn't this place dreamy?) but I'll find some equally interesting things to show you while I'm gone.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend, see you soon!

Friday, July 22, 2011

How Things Stack Up

I was working with the photos from my last trip to Venice earlier this week, and came across this image of GROM gelato cups. Not only is it a great repeating pattern in a couple of different ways, it's a reminder of some of the best gelato in Italy. GROM is a chain, but has very consistent high quality. If you visit Italy and see one of these gelaterias, duck in and try it. My favorite flavors are in-season fruit gelatos, such as apricot and melon. Eating this gelato is like eating the best, ripest, most perfectly tasting fruit you've ever had. I don't know how they do it!

As I was looking at this photo, I was thinking about my transition back. Do I miss gelato? Not so much. I didn't eat it all of the time. I've found that I really miss good parmigiano reggiano cheese, and we had to search for a source of good balsamic vinegar here. The stuff we first bought at the grocery store was horrid, even though it was labeled with the official "Balsamic Vinegar of Modena." We think they send the worst stuff to the US since we don't know any better. If you've never had it, really good balsamic vinegar is one of the most wonderful flavors. Find yourself a specialty store that imports the good stuff, and try it.

All in all though, the move back has been much easier than I expected. I'm very happy to be back. I think I was worried, by coming back to the same place, I would be coming back to being the person I was two years ago, slipping into the old routines and ways of thinking. It seems silly now, but all of the changes and discoveries and learnings I've had are still with me. Of course they are! The only thing I'm doing is learning how to adjust my schedules and balance my time with different demands. But the core of who I am, and how I work creatively, is the same as in Italy.

In a couple of months, when I haven't travelled to another country in a while, I might feel differently. I did have an overwhelming feeling of strong emotion, maybe yearning, at one point when I was working with my pictures from Venice. We'll see how that goes.

All in all though, I'm glad to be home.

PS - It's the last day to register for the July session of Find Your Eye: Starting the Journey. Class starts on Sunday!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Exploring with a Camera: Repeating Patterns (2nd Edition)

[Author's Note: Through the summer months Exploring with a Camera will be "Second Edition" postings of previous explorations with some new images. You will find a new link up at the end of this post to share your photos, and your photos are also welcome in the Flickr pool for the opportunity to be featured here on the blog. I hope that you will join in!]

We have repeating patterns everywhere in our lives. So much so that we don't always notice them. We see, catalog, and sort the differences in things, that's how our brains work. The sameness can blend in to the background. But, when we notice, we can use the "sameness" of patterns to good effect in our photography.

First, let's explore repeating patterns as the focal point of our images. In the photo below, of a Barcelona apartment building, at first glance it might look like a photo of windows. It's not. It's a photo of a repeating pattern - the windows, balconies and shadows all repeat in a regular fashion. There's no one place for the eye to look. I've heightened the "pattern" aspect of the photo by changing it to black and white. No pesky color to distract you from the pattern. The image becomes more about the pattern of light and dark, than what is creating the pattern of light and dark. I especially like the undulating light "stripes" that appear, where the sunlight hits the building, when you stop looking at the windows and shadows and just look at it as a pattern.

    Here's another image that is of repeating pattern, of a rooftop in Murten, Switzerland. You see the shingles, all repeating at regular intervals vertically and horizontally. There is a difference in this photo, however, from the image above. In this photo, the repeating pattern serves to highlight another aspect - the fact that the shingles are different. The pattern repeats, but what makes up the pattern does not, so this image is about the differences. Differences in color, size, shape. You notice them all more because of the pattern.

    In thinking about repeating patterns and how I use them in my photography, I find that this second use, using a repeating pattern to highlight some third aspect, is my primary use. This image of shadows on the street in Bolzano, Italy is a good example. Imagine the image of the shadows without the contrast of the pattern, or the pattern without the shadows. Either way, in my mind's eye, it falls flat. But when you combine the two, and use the repeating lines and shapes of the pattern as a backdrop for the irregular and solid shapes of the shadows, you get a great image. The repeating pattern really sets off the subject, the shadows. Again, in this image I converted to black and white to highlight the lines, shapes, patterns.

    The pattern of the edges of the floor tiles, of this Gaudi design in Barcelona, serves to contrast and enhance the flowing nature of the art that is impressed into them. The angle of the photo, with the pattern growing smaller and blurring toward the back, serves to enhance your awareness of the dimension, how the light and shadow is showing you the impressed elements. The pattern of straight lines provides a structured frame that the flowing curves reside in and move through. You also get hints that the natural, curvy figures impressed into the tiles are a repeating pattern of their own, when you look at it closer. All that in one picture of a floor!

    Here the repeating pattern of the balconies serves to enhance the feeling of height in the skyscraper in Barcelona. You see this in many "looking up" skyscraper shots, but this one is very dramatic because of the horizontal lines and angles jutting out on each floor.

    This image, from Milan, shows how the pattern of the light and shadow on the unusual bricks of this building serve to show the curve and size of the building. You see the bricks, but the repeating pattern of them immediately leads your eye along the curve toward the edge. What happens after the edge of this picture? The crop of the image, which doesn't show you beyond the building, leaves you with the impression that the pattern continues indefinitely.

    While all of the examples so far have been of architecture, I also find store displays a wonderful source of repeating patterns. In this image,you have repeating patterns in three dimensions. An image of a single chocolate bar, while showing the design of the wrapper, color, etc., would not be as interesting as this one with the repeating pattern. The pattern of multiple bars repeated, as well as the repetition in the third dimension, gives depth and a feeling of abundance. You see the chocolate bar wrapper just as clearly as if that were the only thing in the photo, but you also see more.

    So, how can you use repeating patterns in your photography? Some ideas and tips...

    1. Look for repeating patterns, they are everywhere around us. Architecture is one of the best sources, because it takes lots of little, repeating pieces to build something big. Elements of architecture with repeating patterns can be found in the facades - windows, doors, trim, bricks, blocks of stone - or inside - steps, beams, flooring. Our modern world is built with repeating patterns! Stores are also a good source of repeating patterns, because they have a lot of the same thing to sell. Look for creative store displays that use that to good effect.

    2. Look for opportunities for the pattern to be the subject. Choose your composition and angle such that you see the pattern repeat several times at the same size and there is no "perspective" effect. This will often be looking straight at, or very close to straight at, the subject pattern. Try converting to black and white to enhance the pattern aspect, removing color as a difference that may distract from the pattern itself.

    3. Look for opportunites for a pattern to enhance or contrast with a subject. Use angles that show the dimension - distance, height, depth. Use compositions that capture differences in the pattern - whether it be color or shape. Use a pattern as a backdrop for the subject. Use post-processing, like selective color, to have one element of a repeating pattern pop out.

    What other ideas do you have for capturing images with repeating patterns? I'd love to see what your eye sees! Share your view in the link up here or in the Flickr group for a chance to be featured on the blog.

    Update: The image at the top of the post is from a wall along the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh. I like that there are multiple repeating patterns - the artistic "grass" motif, the large blocks of the wall and the smaller blocks of the sidewalk below. 

    FYI - Links will be moderated. Please use a permalink, ensure that your linked image is on topic, and include a link back to this site in your post through the Exploring with a Camera button (available here) or a text link. Thanks!

    Wednesday, July 20, 2011

    Reflecting on Reflections

    reflections2 24/365
    reflections2 24/365 by kathywinter

    Oh, so sad! Exploring with a Camera: Reflections in Glass has come to an end. The good thing is that the inspiration to capture reflections in glass is not over - I know that you all will be seeing and capturing these reflections for a long time to come. I see them everywhere, and it's another tool in my photographic toolbox.

    For some reason, I was very attracted to architectural reflection images in the Flickr pool this week. But I also fell in love with this reflection image below, for the story it tells. Keep this in mind too - a reflection as a narrative element in your photos. I'm going to have to use this image by aia*c as inspiration and play around!

    reflection of love
    reflection of love by aia*c

    I'll leave you with one more gorgeous shot of the reflected sky, but you can find so many more reflections in the Flickr pool and at the links below. I so enjoy seeing what all of you do with these themes I throw out there. I always, always am inspired and learn so much from your point of view.

    What will the next Exploring with a Camera topic be? Tune in tomorrow to find out!

    2011-06-24 by bgottsab

    Tuesday, July 19, 2011

    A Few New Tools

    These old tools look well used, don't they? They were part of a display in the Marksburg Castle in the Rhine River Valley in Germany. I loved the light and contrast, but just as much I loved that they represented the hard work of the people who once lived there. Imagine back when these tools were new. Imagine the lives that touched them, and how they supported and improved those lives.

    Today I want to share with you a few new tools, through sites that can help link you up with online resources to further your creative journey and connections.

    Finding Photo Link Ups

    Yesterday Exploring with a Camera was featured on the blog Through a Photographer's Eyes. Misty is featuring a different link up every Monday, with a resource list of the link ups you can access here or by clicking the button below. It's a nice way to get an overview of the different link ups along with a list, so check out her features so far and remember to see who she's featuring every Monday!

    There are so many link up opportunities out there for photographers on the web, it can feel overwhelming at times. You might want to participate in them all, but I believe you have to find the ones that are right for you. I know that I resonate with some and not others, based on my style and interests, and I keep that in mind when I choose where to participate. Check them out and see what fits for you!

    Finding Blogging Artists

    How do you find new and interesting blogs of other artists? If you're like me, it's an organic process. You visit one site, follow a link to another site and over time find a few that you really love.

    Geri Centonze has decided to help speed up that process of linking blogging artists by creating On this site, you will find blogging artists grouped by category - Digital Art, Draw/Paint, Fiber Arts, Jewelry, Mixed Media, Paper Crafts and Photography. You can look around and visit the sites, and add yours too!

    Artsee Bloggers

    Geri says this is just the beginning of her vision and I can't wait to see where she goes next. I love the idea of connecting artists to each other in new ways! I hope you will check out her site.

    Finding Retreats and Online Courses

    I know I mentioned the new site, Seek Your Course, a couple of weeks ago but I wanted to call it out in today's "tools" post again. This new site is a fabulous resource to find courses that cover all aspects of art and creativity - everything from creative blogging to film making to personal growth and so much more. This is my kind of resource! I love to learn as much as I love to teach, and this opens a whole new way to find great learning opportunities.    

    Before you had to click around, follow the organic route and, if you were lucky, stumble upon a link to a course that is perfect for you. No longer! How lucky we are to find these courses in one place, and who knows what new things you will find. I hope you will visit and check out the offerings. Tell Jess that Kat sent you! :)

    A big thank you!

    I love that in all of these cases, someone thought "Wouldn't it be nice if..." and then did something about that thought. They saw a need and filled it by creating something we can all use. A big thank you to them!! It takes hard work to create tools like these that everyone can use.

    I've created a new "resource" section on the left sidebar, and will add reference resources like these as they come my way. I'm all for anything that helps us connect with our art and creativity, and each other, at a higher level!

    Monday, July 18, 2011

    Next step in the Dream

    Ah, scooters. How do I love thee. I love the cute styling, how they look all parked in a row or against some wonderful European backdrop. I love the freedom they exude, as they zoom along the streets. I love to capture them as part of a scene. They scream "Italy" and "Europe" to me. I never had any desire to ride a motorcycle, but after living in Italy for two years, scooters captured my heart.

    I wrote a few months ago about my scooter dream and how I signed up for Motorcycle Basic Rider Training through Team Oregon in July to help me along in my dream. The purpose of this course is to teach basic skills to make a motorcyclist safer on the road, and by 2015 anyone in Oregon who wants to ride a motorcycle will be required to take it. By the end of the course, if you pass, you have met all of the requirements to get your license and the class completion card waives any further testing.

    The training was this weekend. It started with a classroom session on Thursday night for two and a half hours, followed by Saturday and Sunday classes which each had four hours on the riding range in the morning and then 2 to 3 hours in class in the afternoon. It included a skills test on the motorcycle and a written test that you had to pass.

    Let me be honest - this was the most physically and mentally demanding thing I've done in a long time. (It took all of my energy this weekend, hence no blog posts!) Riding a motorcycle takes an enormous amount of skill and concentration, especially if you're new to it. You have to do different things with both hands and feet at the same time. You have to pay attention to the world around you so much more than in a car, because the hazards are so much greater and you are less visible. You have to learn to trust the machine below you and how to react quickly and safely.

    I am not the most physically coordinated of people. I was always last picked in gym class, being small and slow. I was the one who would go out for a sport and work super hard, practicing a ton, just to become mediocre. The athletic stars would come in with no practice and exceed my skills by a long shot. But what I have learned through all of that, is that I have the determination and persistence to learn just about anything when I set my mind to it. I'm not completely uncoordinated, it just takes me more time to get it and more practice to master it than some others. I kept that in mind as I struggled with the controls and getting the sequence right. My past experience has shown me that I could do it, if I really tried.

    I have to say, that this course was amazing. It took me (and others) who had never driven a motorcycle before, didn't even know the controls, to riding a motorcycle and passing a skills test in two days of range riding. That is just incredible. By the end, I was swerving around obstacles and taking corners at 15-20 miles per hour (24-32 km/hr), weaving through offset cones at low speed without putting my foot down, able to take sharp corners. Oh yeah, and all of this - in the rain! The second day of class it rained the whole time on the range, soaking us but showing us that we could do this in the rain as much as the sun.

    And guess what - I passed! I am so excited. I am so proud. This gives me a bigger feeling of accomplishment than I ever, ever expected. I overcame my fears. I learned something that was hard for me but my persistence and determination paid off. And the good news, driving a scooter is much easier than a motorcycle! No clutch to worry about, no foot controls, yet I know how to do those too now.

    Today, I will go down to the Department of Motor Vehicles with my class completion card and get the motorcycle endorsement added to my license. Here is one thing I know though - I am nowhere near riding on the road yet. I have a lot of practice to do, and skills to continue building, before I be-bop around town on a scooter. I have a little 50cc Honda Metropolitan scooter purchased from a friend to practice on though, and some great basic skills to help me progress.

    Maybe you can't teach an old dog new tricks, but an old Kat? If she really wants to learn it, she can.

    (Linking in to Creative Exchange and Creative Every Day today. Here's a story where following my heart photographically has led to something wholly new and unexpected in my life. Isn't that amazing?)

    Friday, July 15, 2011

    The Possibilities of Emptiness

    What do you see in this image? Maybe you see the empty room, and wonder what will go there. Maybe you see the red wall. Maybe you see the tree beyond the window, the world outside. To me, this room is not empty, it's full of possibilities. Welcome to my studio. The Kat Eye Studio. Like a blank canvas, what will exist here is what I will create.

    Kat Eye Studio has become real in more ways than one with my move home. First I have this room, what should be a "formal living room" is my physical studio, where my creative space will be. It has the best light in the house with the only south facing window, and it's a nice big space. I've also officially created Kat Eye Studio, LLC as a registered business to offer my classes and whatever else I get inspired to do. I'm so excited to make the "studio" I've been dreaming of real in multiple ways!

    This room is going to morph and change over time. During my assignment in Italy I've carefully thought through how I want to use this space for my creative endeavors, and now I get to execute the plan. The final incarnation is going to take a while to get to. I already plan to repaint the wall, and know what furniture I want to go here. The room is currently full of random bits and pieces as we get settled into our house, as you might expect.

    But a studio is not much use if you don't use it, and this week I took steps to move it beyond just a computer and storage room into a truly creative space. I painted! With a borrowed easel, a purchased drop cloth, the painting supplies I brought from Italy in my suitcase and a table and lamp in storage I've cobbled together the start of my painting space. I can't tell you how great it felt to turn on the new Matt Nathanson CD (love his music!) and get messy with paint.

    Here's a pic of what I've got in progress. The blue canvas is the one I started this week (I was in a blue mood) and the other two were started in Italy before the move. I'm just adding layers right now, and am interested to see where these go. I don't have any intention with painting right now, other than to find joy in the process. Happy Paint Party Friday! I'm back!!

    Today I thought I would leave you with what I have going on "in the Studio" (I've been dying to say that for some time now, can you tell?):

    • Reflections in Glass is the current Exploring with a Camera theme and I'm loving the images being shared! I find reflections complex and interesting and worth seeking out.
    • Are you signed up for Superhero Summer Camp? If not, consider if it's time to do something good for yourself. We have almost 400 participants - yay! If you're signed up already, let me know what you think of it so far.
    • We have a wonderful group of people joining my July-August Find Your Eye series of classes. I'm so excited! Registration is open for the next week, and class starts August 24.
    • The Liberate Your Art postcard swap is bringing new mail to my mailbox every day. It's quite amazing to see! If you missed my post Monday, head over to see a bit of the art that's been arriving at my house. In the next two weeks that art will be liberated all over the world. So much fun!
    Have a wonderful Friday and a fabulous weekend all!

    Thursday, July 14, 2011

    Share Your View: Reflections in Glass (2nd Edition)

    window shopping
    window shopping by olive.villarreal

    After a week of Exploring with a Camera: Reflections in Glass, are you noticing reflections everywhere? My guess is yes! I love how the reflections in these images shared in the Flickr pool transform the underlying subject. The layers give the photographs depth visually, and deepen the meaning in the images as well.

    If you haven't already, take a look through the links in the link up below. You will find some great thoughts along with great photos. I enjoyed Gilly's Reflecting on Reflections and seeing how this prompt led Gina to reflect on life. I believe our art is just a reflection of our selves, and it is no surprise to see that come through in your posts as you dive deeper into exploring the world around you with your camera.

    We have another week with Reflections in Glass! Let's see what you can find. Link up below or put your images in the Flickr pool. I'll share a few more here next Wednesday from participants. Enjoy exploring!

    Sacrifice by JennyRain

    FYI - Links will be moderated. Please use a permalink, ensure that your linked image is on topic, and include a link back to this site in your post through the Exploring with a Camera button (available here) or a text link. Thanks!

    Wednesday, July 13, 2011


    Look at this hood ornament. Doesn't she look like she's soaring? Head up, face straight into the wind, with confidence and joy. A few months ago when we visited the Italian car museum in Torino I was fascinated with hood ornaments on the cars from the 20's, 30's and 40's and have many pictures of them. This one captures a spirit of freedom that the others don't though. She belongs on the hood of this car. You can tell, this is her place and it is right for her to be there.

    Why do I love her so much? What does she represent for me? I think maybe she represents how I want to live my life... looking forward, speeding ahead into the unknown, the wind on my face. A feeling of exhilaration and freedom from restraint. Of unrepressed joy in the rightness of being where I am. For her, it doesn't matter the destination, it's the movement she celebrates. There is no fear in her.

    Life lessons from a hood ornament. Who knew?

    What does she say to you?

    Tuesday, July 12, 2011

    How are you Hard-Wired?

    Each of us is hard-wired a certain way. And that hard-wiring insinuates itself into our work. That's not a bad thing. Actually, it's what the world expects from you. We want our artists to take the mundane materials of our lives, run it through their imaginations, and surprise us. If you are by nature a loner, a crusader, an outsider, a jester, a romantic, a melancholic, or any one of a dozen personalities, that quality will shine through in your work.
    -- Twyla Tharp in The Creative Habit

    I ran across this quote while reading over the weekend and said a huge "YES!" It's always amazing to me when I read the work of these famous, creative people and it basically restates what I've come to believe through my own experiences. This quote from Twyla Tharp in her book The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life so completely expresses the idea behind my Find Your Eye classes: We all have a unique vision to share with the world, and it comes through in our work. We just have to look for it.

    In my photography, I find that I typically like the scenes that show both details and context. Not the grand sweeping vistas so much or super close-up details, although you will see those on occasion. This one, a new one in my market/wheels series, is from Milan. A little scene of a market in the Brera district, the same market as my Orange Power shot but a different perspective capturing different details. Kind of typical of my work, don't you think? Not just in this series, but in the selection of composition, subject, camera settings. How are you hard-wired in your art? Do you know? If you're a photographer, I can help you find out in the Find Your Eye series of classes, and I'm so excited about that! Registration is open now if you're interested.

    I'm barely into reading The Creative Habit and it's fantastic so far. It's been great to get my back into my own creative habits of journaling, reading and blogging in the mornings since the move. Together, these habits are my personal recipe to keeping me grounded, aware and creatively charged. I look forward to reading more of Twyla's wisdom in the coming days. You can expect me to share the bits and pieces I find interesting here! 

    Monday, July 11, 2011

    A Stack of Happiness

    Look at this stack! This is a stack of the happiest, most fun mail you are ever going to see. This is a stack of 112 envelopes for the Liberate Your Art postcard swap! On Saturday, things were sorted out enough in our house that I had the time and space to start going through these envelopes. It just filled me with joy! This is not work in the slightest, but exceptionally fun and inspiring.

    Some of the envelopes were completely decorated. I love all of you mixed media artists who find any surface something to create art on! Just look at this one, can you guess where it's from? You would be right!

    And here's one from closer to my new home, California. A little bit of art in the mail, anyone?

    My blog friend, Kristin, created this envelope from inspiration from this photo I took in Ravenna. Funny thing, I took that photo because I was reminded of Kristin by the snail! Such a fun circle of inspiration that happens with artists sometimes. Too bad the US Postal Service covered up some of her art with their sticker.

    Here's one that I didn't want to open, just look at that! I think the dancer stamped on the envelope is definitely Liberating her art...

    The stamps were art too! I didn't know I had anyone in Hong Kong participating, what a nice surprise.

    And then, opening the packages there were lots of little treats inside. Some were prettily wrapped, like this one from TJ of Studio Mailbox.

    I was surprised at how many of the participants included a little something for me. Totally unexpected! Lots of postcards and little notes. Some magnets and little bits of this or that to use for my own projects. Even some chocolate! This was fun mail at its best. Here's a tiny sample of what was shared with me, but I don't want to give away too much, so that you will be surprised by the art you get in the mail!

    This was exactly what I needed to inspire me and reconnect me to the creative community after my move. I can't wait for the rest of the envelopes to come in and then to get this art liberated back into the world. If nothing else, everyone liberating all of this art has had a wonderfully positive effect on me!

    PS - My blog is now on Pacific Standard Time! I updated my profile location and about me page too. Sorry for the two posts in one day but I'm trying out my new schedule. So far, so good! 

    PPS - Linking in to Creative Every Day and The Creative Exchange today. It's good to be back!

    Final of the Favorites: Open Ended

    Open Ended
    Castello San Sebastiano da Po, Italy, 2009

    As the title denotes, this is the last of my scheduled "Favorites" posts. I'm glad I scheduled these, not just for the review of my favorites but also to give me a bit of a break without disappearing altogether while I was in the midst of the big move. This will be the last of the scheduled updates on "Italy time." Monday morning I'll change my blog over to Pacific time and will start writing from scratch again. I'm already full of things to say!! See you soon.

    Sunday, July 10, 2011

    Favorites: Weather Pattern

    Weather Pattern
    Parco di Monza, Italy, 2009

    [Note: I'm in the midst of moving from Italy to the US right now, so instead of letting my blog sit idle I'm sharing some of my favorite images from the last two years of living in Italy and traveling in Europe. If you like them, you can vote for my portfolio in the One Life 2011 photography contest.]

    Saturday, July 9, 2011

    New Schedules + Favorites: Covered Parking

    Covered Parking
    Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 2009

    I only have three more days of "favorite" pictures left on the schedule and then I've got to get myself back onto the regular blogging bandwagon. You can probably tell I've scheduled these posts on Italy time and then I'm writing them as I can. For some reason, I'm reluctant to change my blog back to Pacific Standard Time. I know, I'll get over it. It will be too confusing not to change it.

    So what will my blogging schedule be? The same as Italy, where I write in the morning? Do I change it up to write at night? Do I write whenever and schedule? How is it all going to work out? To top it all off I'm going part time at work (yay!!) but not immediately, so that means it will be a while before things settle out.

    I was chatting with a friend at work today about my work schedule and said, "It's fun to figure it all out!" I honestly didn't know where that comment came from. I mean, it doesn't feel very fun right now. I'm a bit overwhelmed and tired. And then I stopped and realized, my statement was totally true. When I stop focusing on my tired/overwhelm of the moment, I am excited to figure it all out. Even though I don't have a routine right now (and I looooove routine), I have the possibility of figuring out something new. I have the possibility to combine some of the best parts of my Italy schedule with my Corvallis schedule and see what happens. 

    Add ingredients, shake well, taste. Stay tuned to see how it comes out!

    Friday, July 8, 2011

    It's Open! + Favorites: Tiny Pieces of Bliss

    Tiny Pieces of Bliss
    Barcelona, Spain, 2010

    Today is one of my all time favorite images. A favorite favorite, if you will. With this happy image I also have the happy announcement that registration is OPEN for the July-August Find Your Eye series of classes!  Woohoo! You can find the course details and register here. If you have any problems with registration please let me know ASAP, since I'm still working out the bugs with this new system. I already had a couple of issues after my initial announcement to newsletter subscribers, but I think they are fixed. Now I know why stores do "soft openings" before the official opening. :)

    Wow, has this been a crazy week. I can't believe I've been in the US a week already, time is already flying and I'm exhausted. You know when you put together a plan on paper, and it all sounds good, but executing the plan is so much harder than you envisioned when you wrote it all out? Yeah, that's where I am right now.

    For some reason, all of my energy was focused was on the "leaving Italy" part of the plan and I didn't quite expect the "arriving in Oregon" part of the plan to be as much work as it has been. I think maybe I underestimated because it's so much easier to get things done in the US as compared to Italy. Things are more efficient here, I speak the language and know how and who to call. Since we are coming back to the same place we've lived before, it all seems like it should be ready and waiting. But the boxes still need to be unpacked, trash service set up, addresses changed... you get the picture. The list is a mile long.

    Even with all of the millions of details that still need to be done, we are now in our house and sleeping in our beds. We are cooking at home and don't have to eat out anymore. Stevie the cat is doing well and seems to be adjusting without incident, much better than when we moved to Italy. All in all, things are good.

    If you ask me how I feel about being back in the US though, I couldn't even begin to answer you right now. I've been too busy to feel anything. In a couple of weeks or a month, I'll probably have more to say on that topic. For now, it's back to that mile-long list.

    Thursday, July 7, 2011

    Exploring with a Camera: Reflections in Glass (2nd edition)

    [Author's Note: Through the summer months Exploring with a Camera will be "Second Edition" postings of previous explorations with some new images. You will find a new link up at the end of this post to share your photos, and your photos are also welcome in the Flickr pool for the opportunity to be featured here on the blog. I hope that you will join in!]

    I'm so excited for today's exploration! The "Exploring with a Camera" series is about seeing things around you in a different way. To get good photographs, you first have to see, like I discussed in this post. Today we're looking at capturing images with Reflections in Glass.

    Reflections in glass are so cool because the image you see is not a direct image of a subject. What's behind and around the glass changes the images, and the reflection itself often softens and distorts the subject.

    Below is an example from our recent stay in Lucerne, Switzerland [2010]. In this image, the only "direct" image you are seeing is straight through the walkway. The rest of the arches and store windows are reflections. See the people on the right? They are really on the left, not directly visible to the camera, but in the reflection they have a "ghost image" quality. It's like an optical illusion, but it's just looking down a corridor lined with glass.

    To get this image I moved around and took photos from several different angles and at different times with varying amounts of people. When I took this specific shot, I didn't even notice the people visible in the reflection on the right because I was focusing on the "direct" part of the image being free of people.

    Here is another example, of my son looking out of a train window. The reflection draws your eye to his profile. Look at it for a while and you start to see the symmetric shape between the two profiles. You'll also notice that the key areas of his face in the reflection - eyes, nose, lips - are clearly visible while the other parts are modified by what is seen out the window.

    If there is something immediately behind the glass, you can get really cool effects in your reflections. The security door immediately behind the glass in this photo enabled me to get an uninterrupted scene of the reflected street in Lucerne but with a really unique texture.

    A reflection can completely change a setting. Without the reflection of me and my family, the image below would be just another doorway to a modern building. Nothing of note that I would routinely photograph. With the reflection, it becomes a family portrait with a sense of place - you can see the wording above the door is in Spanish (we were in Barcelona) and the funky tube things draped across the top show part of the science museum we were entering. Notice how everything in the photograph seems to draw your eye to the center, where the reflection is. Also notice also the cool "double" effect with our reflections because the entrance had two sets of glass doors.

    Here is another reflection of an entrance, a self-portrait of me at our apartment building in Italy. I love the sense of place that is achieved by what is reflected in the background, along with the tiny little suggestion of what is behind the door. Not a huge fan of my pictures of myself (who is?), I also like how the reflection softens my image so that I don't focus on all of the things I immediately see as "flaws" in a regular photograph. Maybe I'm able to better see the real me, as others see me, because it's a reflection.

    And, just a reminder, glass is just not windows and doors! Here is a wine bottle, but in it there is a reflection of me and my family along with the buildings across the street in Nice, France. The subject here is the bottle, but the reflection adds interest.

    Tips for getting your own images of reflections in glass:

    1. Look for indirect light on both sides of the reflection. In reviewing pictures for this topic I realized that the most interesting reflections have indirect light as the main light source - either in shade or cloudy day or evening light. When there is a direct or strong light source on either side of the glass you will not get the kind of reflections I'm showing here.

    2. Look in and Look out. Keep you eye out for reflections on both sides of the glass, whether you are indoors or outdoors. When you see the reflection, also notice what you see through the reflection. That can make or break the image! It's easy to focus so much on the reflection that you don't see something distracting on the other side.

    3. Change your perspective. If you see a cool reflection, move around and photograph it from different perspectives and compositions. Because of the way you can often see what's on both side of the glass, you may find a more interesting composition, or even a different reflection, if you move a few steps to the left or right than where you first noticed the reflection.

    4. Look for reflections in all kinds of glass - not just windows. When you start to see these, you will notice that glass is everywhere, in all shapes and sizes and colors.

    Update: The lead-in image in this post is from my latest trip to Venice. I had a prime spot at the front of the Vaporetto and loved getting a few of these reflection images. If you didn't recognize this as the view from the Accademia bridge alone, I have the text right there to help you! Since this original post, I have been on the lookout for interesting reflections. You can get great contrasts and interesting compositions this way.

    Have fun seeing all of the reflections in glass around you in a whole new way. Share your recent or past explorations on this topic, link up below or join the Flickr group to share.

    FYI - Links will be moderated. Please use a permalink, ensure that your linked image is on topic, and include a link back to this site in your post through the Exploring with a Camera button (available here) or a text link. Thanks!

    PS - Visit Mortal Muses today, I'm musing on Summer Fun and giving away two spots in my Find Your Eye: Starting the Journey class!