madshutterbug: (c) 2011 by Myself: Zone VI 8x10 view camera (View Camera)
Well, the feed delivery came. Late, yet it came. Hog feed is now stowed in barrels and the hog pens fed. They are happy; dinner instead of breakfast and they are content. All the others fed as well. Put up two barrels of goat feed, stacked the next two in order, and the remainder is stacked somewhat willy-nilly but stacked. Tomorrow to fill the cow barrels.

Tomorrow afternoon to Micanopy for setup for the Fall Harvest Art Festival. At least I'm hoping I can set up tomorrow; it will make Saturday much easier. If not, it's up very early on Saturday to get set up and ready before show time. Show time isn't until 09:00 so if I get there by 07:00 should be fine.

Pavilion is as tuned up as it's going to get. Re-did the support poles that sleeve into the side art display walls, re-inserted the bungees after moving them for Necronomicon. Found one art display wall with a grommet nearly out, as in torn. That one will need repairs, which I shall do after the festival. Plus I'm thinking about making new walls after two 'years' of service. Nine, ten shows, and these are our own creation. We could purchase pre-made walls from a company that specialises. Far more expensive than what we spent on these, and more than we will spend to make three new ones as well, for all six that we'd then have made.
So we'll stay with making our own for a bit.

I do need to re-think the 'back' wall (as it were) such that we can potentially make a door there; this proved useful at the Santa Fe Spring Arts Festival and will again, I'm sure. Some places not necessary, some not feasible, but nice to have. Part of what makes these walls work is the tension provided by strapping the bungees around the pavilion poles; the back, with a 'doorway' through it, looses this to some extent. To I'm meditating on how to cope. Goal for next calendar year.

At any rate, the pavilion is ready to go, partially loaded into the Subaru. Tomorrow I shall load the rest of the physical plant (pavilion, side-walls, weights, folding stands for matted works, chairs, and such) and drive over to see about setting up. Might not be a Friday evening setup. But I will drive over.

If there's no Friday evening setup, then it's up very early on Saturday and hit the road between 06:00 and 06:30 with the goal being arrive in Micanopy by 07:00 and no later than 07:30. The Festival starts at 09:00, so that should provide sufficient time to set up pavilion and get art up on the walls as well. Might limit how much framed work I take, but still.

So. Time for dinner. Ta for now.
madshutterbug: (c) 2011 by Myself: Zone VI 8x10 view camera (View Camera)
This past weekend I packed up some pieces and hied me off to Necronomicon. This is (or was, I suppose) the fifth year I've put work into this show, and I really enjoy it. This year a new crew put the show on, stepping in to fill a gap due to a health crisis and they Did Good. They did a bang-up job putting it together and running it and I want to say Thank You!

I put eight pieces in, some which I've shown here before. Well, most which I've shown here before, only one this year a brand new piece and I don't have that one up on the 'net anywhere for a quick link. Will work on that, I will. I'd started working on this piece a couple years back maybe, something of a joke, and then picked it up this year because I decided I want to show something in portfolio to help towards another goal. I'd love to see some of my art on a book cover, eh. So I created the 'Real Book Jacket to a Non-Existent Book' though some who read here may recognise some of the premise mentioned in the story synopsis on the back.

Got to visit with haikujaguar and silvertales who split a table on Writers Row. Bought something from both of them for lots of reasons, and popperaussie nearly got otter-napped off to Down South. Touch and go there for a bit. Mind you I don't think Popper objected much, certainly not at first...
Kit & Popper )

Compliments on Saturdays hall costume, compliments on the Art though no sales, and in general a lot of fun. Generated the last building block I need to work on another piece I'd hoped to put in this year, until I realised I need this particular building block. Now to work on that... not just right now. Picked up another item which I plan to use as a prop or building block, whichever is the better word, more on that later.

Then back home yesterday and arrived in time to help finish up Evening Rounds on the Ranch. Greeted by Houdini bordercolliebrs. Nice when the pooch is glad to see one. Although he did go walkabout this morning, showed up after I finished Morning Rounds and was about to set off into town for errands and a routine doctors appointment.

Now to start tuning up the Booth Display and get ready for the Micanopy Art Festival this coming weekend.

Hence, some time off from Hospital. Never enough of that.
madshutterbug: (c) 2011 by Myself: Zone VI 8x10 view camera (View Camera)
Yesterday I completed framing three pieces which constitute new work into the Necronomicon Art Show. Then I packed into the portfolio bags acquired earlier this year (only a couple of months? Yes, only a couple of months) plus one box eight pieces plus the usual Artist Blurb. The Office Box is set with those over in Studio; the last of the paperwork for the Show remains to be placed inside that. And the pavilion support tote as well, since I prefer to modify the standard folding panels which comprise the displays in this show.

Still need to pack my bags. That won't take long. One of my friends recently commented on their space in an alternate social networking location should they be worried it took only 15 minutes to pack for a weekend. I replied, 'Sounds about right.' Even if it takes me a tad longer because I will (this time) look to potentially packing two Con outfits. My usual 'hall costume' the past several years includes whatever I'm wearing plus a 'messenger bag' with a towel hanging out...

This year I'm thinking of bringing two extras. One will comprise garb I made years ago while active in the Society for Creative Anachronism and still wear occasionally, though I may add two touches to that (no description, no spoilers). The other is almost steampunk or is actually, though no gears or goggles or such will be visible.

So. Eight pieces for the Show (possibly only seven, depending on space, always better to bring more), bit of self-promotion to put up during one of the panels I will be on (or, maybe, all of them, eh). Pack my bags, load the car, and go.

But first, Meanwhile Back At the Ranch, it's time to mobilise and do Morning Rounds with Houdini and Herself.
madshutterbug: (c) 2011 by Myself: Zone VI 8x10 view camera (View Camera)
Goals. Setting goals is often how we make progress, because simply, now we have a goal. I set a goal, earlier this year, that by September 30 I would know how to use Gimp. Gnu Image Processing package, an Adobe Photoshop® alternative, free open-source software, a

Likely I accomplished this goal. The last four of five images I've set up for printing I've processed through Gimp. The two I'm currently working on, both older projects that sat a bit needing more of this or that, I've processed through Gimp. There are things I miss, a bit, about Photoshop and that even in the old version I used. However, there are alternatives to everything, and when using an alternative to Photoshop, it's good to get to know them.

For quite some time (let's see, the version I used I acquired in, oh, '03 or '04) I've been using Layers. In fact, my use of Layers somewhat pre-dates even my photo manipulation, processing, post processing or whatever by a good couple handfuls of years. Layers (like much of Photoshop in particular) is really simply a concept which artists who grew up in the not-so-Dark Ages before personal computers will know about. Layers of clear acetate placed over a drawing, with additional elements of a drawing on them. My received first introduction to Layers in 1970, in my Engineering Graphics class at Aquinas college.

And Gimp does layers. Gimp might not possess an Adjustment Layer feature, however one can duplicate the basic layer and make Adjustments on those just fine. And Gimp does use Layer Masks, which allow for adjusting transparency quite selectively, and no doubt for more bits and pieces of work I've not quite figured out yet. So pretty much all the skills I'd acquired working in Photoshop I've transferred over to working in Gimp. Want to work with only a portion of an image, which is going to be composited into another image altogether? Use the appropriate selection tool, draw a container around that portion of the image. Copy selected, add a layer mask, clean up the outlines.

One of the pieces I've worked on I've posted a draft version earlier. I'm still on a 'working title' stage with this one, either Agni or Rage or something. What I've accomplished currently is adding a layer mask to the portion of the image that needed it, and cleared out all the portions of the Real World visible through the windows of that portion of the image. Now I can show Something Else through those windows. Still working on What Something Else, that's fine. It's that whole Layer Mask thing, makes those portions invisible/transparent. Lovely.

I've taken to adding another layer to images such as this, and filling it with a solid colour blue. This somewhat duplicates the effect commonly called 'blue screen' (and after completing evening rounds and most of a beer on nearly empty stomach, the proper technical name of the process is flittering about just out of reach). For my purposes, as I'm making portions of an image transparent that blue background provides the means to be sure I've eliminated all of the existing background. Sometimes, in some instances, leaving some of the original background to an image provides an effect I want and like; mostly it needs to Go Away.
Can do that. By September 30th.

The second old project recently revisited is creating a book jacket (for trade paperback) or a book dust jacket (for hard-back). I'd like to be someone providing art for book covers, felt that way for a bit. However, it is something akin to another area of interest and a related problem. How to convince someone (anyone in particular) that one has the ability to work on a subject without that subject being in ones portfolio.

It's handy to be able to show potential art models what one did create in the genre of Nudes when asking someone to pose dressed only in what they originally entered the world. The more one creates, the easier this is. Starting out though, said model might ask Well what have you done? It's possible to show other work, quality work, and convince someone one is serious (I did). It's also sort of like dating. I heard 'No' a lot.

Similar to that, I would like to make your Book Jacket Art. Well, what have you done? Um... art in general? So I am making a Non-Existent Book Jacket. There is some compositing going on with this (combine a studio shot of an individual with a street scene. Street scene need not be in the place where the (non-existent) story is taking place, simply needs to look right.

The rest of the project is graphic design. Well, design and some copy writing. So with a nod to a few friends of mine who received their college degrees in art and design (Hi Holly! Smile for the camera!) I embark on a venture. No, I've not 'studied' graphic design. Wait, what is 'study'. What is getting a degree? It is an intensely concentrated period of time when one looks at a lot of examples of graphic design, practices putting such together, getting it critiqued to improve and... OK, so I've looked at a lot of graphic design (book covers in particular for this discussion, in general, yes), but it's been spread out over a lot more time than four years for a degree.

As for the copy writing, believe it or not that's what part of the whole goal (there's that goal thing again) of posting something at least once a week into a blog involves. Writing. I may not be a genius like Shakespeare but I can turn out some copy. So a blurb for the back cover (Trade Paperback) or the inside front cover (Hard Back) along with some Glowing Reviews for the Piece (from equally non-existent publications) for the back side of the Dust Jacket (Hard Back), and an Author's Blurb. Wait... who the hell wrote this non-existent thing anyway? Um...

Still, I'm more than willing to turn commissioned artwork over to a designer, so long as it's in the purpose of creating a book jacket. Curious timing on some other things related to this, but more on that later.

Just now, it's time to 'publish' this onto the Web and then start getting things ready for dinner. Herself should be home from Tioga Market soon. Ta for now.
madshutterbug: (c) 2011 by Myself: Zone VI 8x10 view camera (View Camera)
Is... not the greatest today. Been off from Hospital for a week to accomplish much work on the Ranch, and succeeded at most things on that list. Amongst other things, LittleJon Deere Tractor Growliebeast now sports a new front right tyre, and is quite happy about it. More on that in a bit, as it will figure with a portion of the State of the Artist on Art.

Yesterday I started feeling some gut level disturbance, and during the night up several times emptying out the old GI tract. Woke up this morning with a low-grade fever, been resting most of the day. Helps that it's been a rain day. Yesterday we got rain too, but I pushed myself to get two moderate chores done in the House which will improve overall live-ability. Replaced the ceiling fan in the Library/Tube Room, and assembled two small drawer cases which fit underneath our coffee table. The latter two will help Herself organise some of her crafts work supplies, since she does a moderate amount of that work on evenings while watching Tube.

On a heavier note, working, we moved some hay roll bales into the Goat Paddocks. This is the part which will contribute a tad to the Artist side. Teasing? Yes, because more later.

I also meditated on something on Saturday evening while indulging in a Hot Soak Tub. Herself doesn't join me for these, usually, as she says I am actually par-boiling myself. I say I am boiling away my troubles and tribbles. While doing so this time I listened to my Celtic Music playlist, and though about voices. Or Voices, if you will.

One of my co-workers does not like instrumental music, prefers by far and away music with lyrics. Specifically, lyrics in a language zie understands, as well. This rules out most opera, for example. And while I listened to my Celtic playlist, some of which pieces the lyrics are in Gaelic and I speak not a word (well, OK, a very few words) of Gaelic. It's the Voices I listen to. And each musical instrument provides a Voice. All those Voices, combining together to express joy, agony, sorrow, bliss, love, hatred.

I dabble with music. It's been years since I've played any of the instruments (only a couple) that I dabble with.

That's part of the art, and the other part is both Art and Ranch related (here we go folks!) Getting an intact tyre back onto one of our tractors gets a major tool back into the work stream. If one is raising grazing or browsing animals, one is also providing them, periodically, with hay. Purchasing hay is like anything else; the larger the quantity, the better the price. Big round hay bales are usually less expensive per unit of weight than the square/rectangular bales. So we like to buy that way.

Now, one of these big round bales weighs in around 500 Kg dry (do the math, Yanks, or just get over it and learn the metric system like the Whole Rest of the World). Rolling them by hand is quite a workout. Fine if one really wants to burn off those calories, and part of the reason ranchers and farmers need heavy equipment.

LittleJon Deere is a compact tractor; his 3 cylinder diesel is rated to 26 horsepower which is, curiously enough, the same horsepower rating as Harrison Ford 8N. Harrison is physically much larger, and more massive. And still in a tractor coma.

LittleJon Deeres owner manual clearly, quite clearly states not to use this compact tractor to lift large round hay bales. I like to think I'm not stupid, my Grandfather once taught me that ignorance is correctable but stupid gets you dead. I've got a pretty good track record for not being dead so far at three score years and a bit, so I like to think, I'm not stupid.

Crazy is another thing altogether. Hellooo, note the user name on the blog, folks!

And after careful, thorough reading, there is absolutely nothing in the user manual about this...



Moved three of those puppies in about 15 minutes. Now, the credits read one thing. The actual cameraperson is Herself using her iPhone. She watched the little short and mentioned next time, she's going to leave the phone in 'Landscape' orientation. Good plan, I think.

Also done, in free moments over the past week, prepped six images for prints and two sets of business cards for printing. Running out of time for the Autumn festival season to start. Need to get to work on that.
madshutterbug: (c) 2011 by Myself: Zone VI 8x10 view camera (View Camera)
Every year, starting about now, as in September because my first time purchase of a paid account occurred in December, though it got pushed back to February by a couple 'gifts', I start thinking about should I renew my Flickr account. This is as most things are a multi-factor issue. Do I get a sufficient return on investment for the cost? What are the benefits? What are my needs as a purported 'Professional Artist/Photographer' and how well are those needs being met with this account?

It is pretty much an accepted standard these days that pros in any art form (as with nearly any other business, and selling ones art is indeed a business) need a World Wide Web presence. A web site. A personal gallery or portfolio, whichever one may prefer to call it. As with all things in the world, there is also a certain social... snobbery though status may be the more polite term... attached to how any individual professional artist exhibits their work on the Web. Ultimate control is indeed within a web site and domain owned and operated by the artist their own self. Using any other site puts the artist under the control of the owners/operators thereof, who will (not may, will be responding to community pressures.

Specifically, in my case, nudes. Community pressures are, in essence, censorship. A privately held web site will be able to show more, but could still be vulnerable to community pressures. However, a publicly owned site will either place restrictions on display of 'controversial material' or will outright not accept it.

I currently use two public imagery hosting sites, Flickr, and Deviant Art. I registered an account with a third, 500Px though I've not posted any work there. These are listed in the chronological order of my registering. Before these two I used Yahoo to host some images, and when the telecommunications behemoth AT&T hosted 'Personal Web Pages' I hosted a small (and frankly not particularly impressive) Mad Shutterbug web site there. The Yahoo images site became absorbed by Flickr when Yahoo first acquired Flickr. AT&T simply stopped hosting Personal Web Pages.

A brief summary of Myself on Flickr:
1626 photos stored in 87 Sets which are in turn in five Collections
Been a member since November 2005. Paid (former 'Pro' paid account) since December 2006.
Being a grandfathered-in old Pro, I am granted Unlimited Storage.
Probably 25-45% of those photos linked to my blogs

Flickr grandfathered my account in as a former 'Pro' paid account (see first FAQ below, primarily unlimited storage). So long as I keep paying (at the rate I was paying, according to the info) I will retain all the features of the former 'Pro' paid account embellished with the upgraded features now being offered.

One element of the FAQ which is not entirely accurate, the ability to create "Collections" existed in the Pro account before the change. A Free Account could create three Sets. More sets than that, and Collections, came with the Pro account. The more Sets aspect is actually a primary reason I first obtained a paid Pro account, since I'd been hired to photograph a social function and part of that deal included putting those images on line so attendees could order any photos of which they wanted copies.

Back in May via one of the 'social networking' sites (I think it was on the blog rather than FB) tagged by my friend Betnoir (who is no longer on the blog) who wanted to know what I thought about comments made in a press conference by the new CEO of Flickr. Specifically, an answer to a question (IIRC) about how the 'Pro' account status would be 'going away'. The answer included something (not an exact quote at this point) about there are no pro photographers any more, the Internet changed all that.

I made some notes, intending to respond. Took a while, yet here is the response plus a bit.

05/22/13
Hmm... Well, for myself anyway, there is the annual debate (as someone purporting to be a professional photographer) Does Flickr provide a sufficient return on investment in exposing my work?

Which question, this year, raised a notch in my concern after Flickr (Yahoo) instituting an Auto-Billing feature. I am not, after some experience with other firms, a big fan of auto-billing. However, I decided to let it ride for a bit.

Not totally related to the subject of the link, and yet not far removed either. Sounds to me that Flickr (Yahoo) is moving the way of all Big Business these days. To (mis)quote from Pink Floyd: "... Get your hands off of my stash..."

Part of the move to follow current Big Business is that while Flickr expanded the amount of storage to 1 terrabyte for free accounts, they also started showing advertisements. So they get a revenue stream from selling ad space, plus whatever they received from all those 'Pro' account folks like myself. Along with this, then, since a lot of us prefer to enjoy an ad-free environment (when possible) they sell an Ad Free account level, still 1 Tb of storage, for US$49.99/year. Or one could purchase a Doublr account, ad free and 2 Tb of storage, for US$499.99/year. So they kicked the cost of More up a pretty significant amount.

(Note to Self and Gentle Readers, I may be mis-remembering when Flickr started showing ads. I don't remember them when I first registered an account in '05, and as noted as a paid account holder since '06 likely haven't seen ads if such started before the Big Change.)

(Second Note to Self and Gentle Readers, Deviant Art is pricing a paid account there a lot more competitively than Flickr is... YMMV)

Now, 1 Tb sounds like a lot. However, that 1600 plus images I host on Flickr currently uses 0.00054 TB of Unlimited. And, as a professional artist, I currently use (here in Studio) over a third that (387 Gb) which includes RAW work, works in progress, print-ready work, and images I've got but currently do not elect to use. It does not include most of the images I've got on film which are not digitised yet (scanned), and even the ones I do store scanned, the majority may not be high-resolution scans. So I'm going to chew through that at home terrabyte fairly soon, particularly when I get going on scanning old film. This doesn't count creation of new images or new works in progress.

Additionally, though I never made notes about this aspect, and getting back to that comment about there are no professional photographers anymore, the whole concept of skilled vs unskilled comes to play. This is a statement I've heard a number of times related to different subjects, that skilled work is not cheap and cheap work is not skilled. There may well be truth to another old saw that if one puts 1000 chimpanzees into a room with a typewriter they will eventually through random typing create something like one of William Shakespeares plays. Truth in the sense that anyone at all pounds away making a multitude of whatever, for the purposes of this discussion photographs, they will eventually make some which are very good.

After all, one of the simplest and most difficult of the lessons I learned from my first teacher is, Never, ever show anyone the trash. If they only ever see the good, then they will think you are very good.

Now, mind you, with sufficient practice one gains skills: at composition, at exposure, focus, printing (or other final display). All that skill comes together, and one produces it consistently more frequently from the start, with less and less trash in the workflow. Yet we also still produce images from the getgo which are technically high-quality work but lack Something, and so we don't show anyone those. In this manner, the customer receives a better return on their investment in hiring someone who is Professional rather than looking through a terragagilion photographs on the Web for just the right one...

Thus, Virginia, yes there are still Professional Photographers. We may be a threatened, possibly endangered species because yes, the good old new Internet certainly changed how a lot of business' conduct their business. And one of those changes is that someone who is (lucky/skilled) amateur does get a greater exposure of their work.

Some quotes from the Flickr site FAQ:

What used to be offered with a Pro account?

Flickr Pro is no longer available for purchase, but many of the Pro-only features are now part of free Flickr accounts.

Here is what you used to get with Pro:
Unlimited photo uploads (50MB per photo)
Unlimited video uploads (90 seconds max, 500MB per video)
The ability to show HD Video
Unlimited storage
Unlimited bandwidth
Archiving of high-resolution original images
The ability to replace a photo
Post any of your photos or videos in up to 60 group pools
View count and referrer statistics
Limitation of maximum image size available to others
Ad-free browsing and sharing
_______________
What do I now have with a free Flickr account?

Starting on 5/20/2013, members with free accounts on Flickr will have:
1 Terabyte of space
Upload and download in full original quality. Up to 200MB per image
Ability to create “Collections”
Ability to replace photos
Post any of your photos or videos in up to 60 group pools
_______________
I've heard that Flickr Pro is no longer being offered. How does that affect me?

As of May 20, 2013, we are no longer offering Flickr Pro subscriptions to the majority of our members. Some things to be aware of (with more details below):

Recurring Pro members currently have the ability to continue renewing at the same price.
Eligible non-recurring Pro members can purchase a recurring Pro subscription.
The “Gift of Pro” will no longer be available for purchase.
Pro users will no longer appear with a “Pro” badge beside their name or buddy icon

Your Pro pricing remains the same and your benefits have improved:
Those who remain Pro will retain all their original benefits.
The photo and video size limits will be upgraded to those offered with our new free account.
If you are on a recurring Pro subscription, your payments will remain as is. To see what your current subscription costs, see the previous payment on in your order history.
Pro members will never be automatically transitioned to an Ad Free or Doublr subscription.
_______________

Notice they don't list anywhere here what the folks grandfathered in are paying; notice also I didn't mention it anywhere either. That's our business, eh! However, it is significantly less (at least for me) than the Ad Free account, so that's one reason I choose to carry on and roll over from year to year... so far.

There are other aspects, though, and I'd been thinking about those recently. Another friend, stardreamer (on DW) starcat_jewel (on LJ) put them into words. The changes made in how Flickr displays the photographs or videos hosted there cause the site to load ssssllllllooooowwwwwllllllyyyyy. As in, Dial Up Slow.

True, here at the Ranch we've moved into (or as close as) the 21st century on our Internet connection. We started by transitioning from dial-up to Sky Internet (satellite) and from that to DSL through the land-line telephony connection. Even on Hospital's true super fast Ethernet connection, however, Flickr Loads Slow. (Mind you, no, I'm not browsing my photos on Hospital time. Lunch breaks or after work, yes, not patient care time.) I've got the phone app for viewing Flickr. I rarely view Flickr on my smartphone.

So. Trade off:
Pros – easy to stay with the status quo, lots of on-line storage which at my current pace I am in no danger of ever exceeding, ability to link to work I've made in my preferred manner via this blog, not terribly expensive so long as the company continues to honour the terms of the contract we concluded (before the changes started), ability to organise the pieces stored for display to facilitate either linking or referring

Cons – slow loading viewing experience, advertisements for non-registered or Free viewers, very obscure URL for any kind of publicity such as business cards or brochures, terms of service which make displaying one of my primary subjects (nudes) an exercise in Political Correctness, fairly pricy for accounts which either no longer show ads or increase storage capacity

At this time and in the near future, the Pros exceed the Cons for me. Your Mileage May Vary. Until I get around to creating that very privately owned Mad Shutterbug Photography or Studio 318 or whatever name, at least.

Meditating

Sep. 17th, 2013 06:39 pm
madshutterbug: (c) 2011 by Myself: Zone VI 8x10 view camera (View Camera)
I've not posted this week State of the Artist yet.

I am meditating on that.
madshutterbug: (c) 2011 by Myself: Zone VI 8x10 view camera (View Camera)
Today will be a moderately short State of the Artist. Yes, I've been getting bits and pieces done on some projects, so progress remains our most important problem. Progress is being made. The next big show will be Necronomicon in Tampa, come October, and there are a couple pieces in particular I should like to be finished by then. One may well be one of the panoramas I posted last week; it occurs to me that with a slight re-title (already done) it becomes an homage type of fan-art on some of the John Ringo works.

Meanwhile, back at the Ranch, we've conducted Evening Rounds already. Today we moved a wee bit of feed, and of course got everyone fed. Made a phone call and ordered the replacement tyre for LittleJon Deere tractor. And snapped this photo:

How Gentlemen Border Collies Conduct Rounds

To be fair, Houdini and I already did some walking rounds, going over into the Cow Pasture to move a feed trough closer to the fence so I could fill it, and then checking out the spot where one of our older cows had died. Bones left is all, we brought back her skull and tomorrow we'll go over to grab her pelvis for some projects.

The weather, or at least ambient temperatures, definitely reflecting that we're now into September. The Dog Days of Summer are broke. This morning the temp here on the Ranch was 19C and De Light Full indeed. Got hot during the day, yes, into the low 30's, yet without the sweltering oppressive humidity of August.

For now, it's time for my dinner. Houdini's already eaten.
madshutterbug: (c)2009 by Myself (Default)
It's been another week so it's time for the State Statement, eh. In some ways a lot more of the same, and yet there are other things this time around too. It is now September and while one manner of thinking may be totally psychological, the feel is real to me. Still just as hot as it's been, middle 30's and feeling like upper 30's. However, the quality changes; no longer quite so uncomfortable, no longer. The Dog Days of Summer are breaking, and cooler times are ahead.

Meanwhile, back at the Ranch I finished up a biddy box chicken tiller today. The top and bottom pieces of this I cut back in June, then other projects seemed to raise their heads and threaten us so the two pieces sat on the back deck of Studio. Wire fabric isn't much, you know, yet it does occupy space and it does create a barrier and there it sat. Now these two pieces are assembled with 60 cm high 1x2 cm wire fabric, with a top hatch in place.

This is for young chicks, those hatched out by Herself in her incubator, as they get bigger. Big enough to need more space, small enough to be at some risk to night-time and day-time predators such as fox, hawk, owl, even possibly coyote. The gap in the side walls is small, no paws reaching through. And while the gap in the top is larger, not so large to allow admission to any of the above. When the young birds are big enough that they could be reached through the top, it's time for them to move into a full-sized chicken tiller.

In the past two days we've also sold five goats, all young doelings. Four went to a gentleman who's wanted to buy some of ours before (he came by with a friend then, who did buy) but couldn't afford them quite yet. He is adding to an existing small herd, and very happy to do so. The fifth, today, went to a youngster starting 4H and she will be hand-raising this goat. Todays then is younger than the other four, still not quite weaned (though she is weaned from Mom now, eh) and so we also sent along some goat milk to help the transition.

LittleJon Deere needs a new front tyre, I suspect these may well be the original tyres on this tractor and while tread doesn't show much wear, sidewalls will and that's what failed. This tyre's been leaking since we got him, and I've been refilling him regularly. The last fill I did with stop-leak but that didn't help, or maybe it did and the failure point is a different problem. The failure is a tear on the midline sidewall, nearly 10 cm long, so a good sized tear. It's dead Jim.

A few months ago I mentioned I purchased an app for the iPhone to assemble photographs into a larger panoramic shot. The app is AutoStitch, and I've been experimenting with it somewhat regularly. The current OS level for the iPhone provides the means to do panoramas, but (and here's the key point for me) only in one plane. As in, a series of overlapping photographs along a single line.

AutoStitch allows me to do more of a mosaic of shots, if one will, adding height as well as width to the final concept. This intrigues me because neither the app nor the camera care what the mosaic is; I can photograph scenic panoramas or I can do a panorama of a bodyscape.

The app is fairly simple to use; take the photos either with the camera itself, or through the app. If done with the camera, choose 'Select Photos' to select the ones desired to assemble into the panorama. The default settings for resolution are fairly middle of the road, I usually re-choose a higher resolution and re-assemble the images. As it's working, it provides a brief overview and then tells you how many of the images were used in the final cut. Sometimes things just don't seem to fit so the app won't use those.

I've done some urban ones, but the two I'm going to show are both from here at home, just so I get to say Meanwhile Back At the Ranch...

Storm Over KP Ranch

Storm Over KP Ranch by *madshutterbug on deviantART

This one (actually, both of them) are single-plane panoramas. Storm is one of the first I did, out in the evening to feed the Cows making rounds with Houdini. We still had to feed the Horses & Truffles the Pig after the Cows, so there may be some wonder that I took time to shoot the three or so images that went into this panorama.

Spectrum Interruptus

Spectrum Interuptus by *madshutterbug on deviantART

Again out feeding, this time without so much overhead threat. Turned to the east away from sundown and saw... indeed, the spectrum interrupted across the top of the arc. I suspect heavy clouds between sun and that portion of the spectrum, I do.

Overall so far I'm happy with what I've done. Another step in the experimentation will be to compare the same set of images more or less hand-assembled into panoramas using Gimp yet much the same as when I used Photoshop.®

Both of these are hosted on Deviant Art as noted; I'm still contemplating whether or not I'll keep using Flickr. There's a lot going on there, changes in how the site presents, stores, charges. Not the least thing going on is the number of images I store there for viewing. That's another story and issue though, not for this week.
madshutterbug: (c) 2011 by Myself: Zone VI 8x10 view camera (View Camera)
This week the state of the artist is... Sore. Achy.

My brother-in-law calls the part of the world where we live (not him, he and sis live elsewhere) the Land of Wet. This time of year North Central Baja Jorja lives up to the description, and this year is doing so with a vengeance. We've received, by our measurement tools, nearly 25 cm (10 in) of rain in the past two weeks alone. The porches to the two house buildings, Big House and Studio are all made from wood; it's economical and I can work it. Get it wet long enough, with the ambient humidity we also deal with, and wood starts getting overgrown with moss, algae, and just generally slimy slippery stuff.

I'd commented to Herself that it's about time for me to wash off the stairs. Sweeping them off wasn't helping much anymore, since with all the rain mostly they stayed wet anyway. The routine includes a pause at the top of the stairs (going up doesn't seem to be as hazardous) to remind myself slippery, careful. And I still managed to slide off one step yesterday carrying laundry over to the laundry room in Studio.

Part of my thought process at the time included 'Well, that's not what I wanted to do'. Part of it marveled at how slow-motion everything seemed to be. And I relaxed into it; one of the few things which seems to remain with me from a study of Aikido decades ago is taking a fall. All of it until I connected with the ground went airborne, and the laundry basket apparently moved my center of gravity over enough to contribute to this. Tucked and rolled soon as my feet touched, and that laundry basket came back to greet me as I rolled.

Might be that helped break the fall. Definitely broke one of the handles on the basket. Side is sore where basket and I connected. Nothing worse apparently. Got up, spilled clothing back into the basket, and carried on getting the laundry going.

And yes, I did scrub off the stairs shortly after that, thank you. They feel much less slippery now.

Houdini is enjoying being 'Indoor Dog Exclusive' though he still does show behaviour that he's looking for Squrrl occasionally. Keeping up with beating down fleas, we've discovered he actually likes Herself's goat-milk soap (one of the ingredients). Specifically, coffee which helps with the itching, and the lye the fleas don't much like either. Unlike commercial anti-flea shampoos, he doesn't run off to roll in whatever after getting lathered up with the goat-milk coffee soap...

In other news, attended the Opening Reception this past Tuesday for the GFAA 90th Anniversary show (and fundraiser) Art for All Seasons. There is a lot of good art there, and not simply for the reason you might see mine, or Herselfs, and decide to buy those pieces I encourage everyone local (and by local here, I may include up to two hours away so Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa, eh) to come and see it.

There were prizes awarded for Best In Show, and in assorted categories for first through third places. As is my wont I usually go back to view the winners as a teaching/learning moment and this time around no exception. Nearly all of the recipient pieces I agree with personally and when I first looked at them marked them in my mind as Really Good Art. One exception, an individual I know (not well) through Camera Club #1 of the two we once attended. I think there were better photographs than this one to be selected, however I wasn't one of the judges.

I will say, tight, crisp focus on metallic objects, interesting lighting which didn't overpower coloured highlights are likely what the judge did like, and yes a good photograph. I just think there were others which I liked better.

Other than the free-fall experience there isn't a lot new. One of the cows produced a new calf in the past couple days, which means if all goes well there will be beef for someones dinner, somewhen. Grass is growing, boy howdy with all this rain, so the critters (most of them) are getting enough to eat. Keeping up with a few others, showing signs of wet stress (goats do not like wet; no they do not) which makes them more susceptible to parasites or other disease vectors. Haven't lost anyone so far, though there are several off the market due to being medicated.

As for any new artwork, not so much. Been trying to keep up with things outside on the Ranch. Not too much longer and the weather should start to change. We shall see.
madshutterbug: (c) 2011 by Myself: Zone VI 8x10 view camera (View Camera)
One of the things which is important in being a working artist is consistency. Keeping things going, working on art. Making regular posts if one is keeping a blog, simply because that consistency provides predictability.

Thing is, I don't have a lot to say just now. Not a lot of art work in the past week.

Tomorrow evening at The Doris is the Artists Reception and opening for the GFAA 90th Anniversary show, Art for All Seasons. This is pretty much it for this week in terms of art related.

We've been working on other things. The Ranch is always a constant. No excuse for being bored if one owns a ranch. Thing is, there too this time of year is basic maintenance because it is become too bloody hot and humid to be doing a lot more. Most of our chores we even try to get done early in the morning or later in the afternoon, before heat builds and after it breaks. So, feed, water, make sure things aren't broken, maintain.

Need to mow again soon in the high traffic areas. We experienced a couple weeks with little rain. Now it's falling again, somewhat regularly. Grass likes it. Not so much good for mowing though.

Did get Herself's new PC set up, and started installing some software. Getting at the data on the old hard drive required some help from a friend and the end result is this:
- Data recovered (includes bookmarks for two browsers), to the tune of 60 Gb or so. Yea.
- Checked the disk for errors and found about half of it trashed. It's dead, Jim.

It boils down to feeling like marking time, getting through the Dog Days of Summer and then being able to get active again. Problem is, there are things needing doing, getting ready for autumn shows and such.

No energy for such just now. Think I'll sit here and breathe for a bit. Yup.
madshutterbug: (c) 2011 by Myself: Zone VI 8x10 view camera (View Camera)
It's been hot here in North Central Baja Jorja, as well should be expected in August. My mother used to call this time of year the Dog Days of Summer. Houdini neither agrees nor disagrees with my mother; he simply says staying inside in the air conditioning is a good thing. He will come out with us for morning rounds, yet by the time the clock is showing 11:00 ish and the thermometer is showing 33 or 35, he is off to the House. Time for the House, Boss, not even time for shade. K thx.

Today we experienced some really high heat, with a heat index rating even higher (duh). How hot? 37 C which it's too hot to translate for my Yank handicapped friends, so suffice to know that is normal human body temperature, and the heat index put the perceived temperature around 40 C which is Too Bloody Hot.

As for art, been working on transporting pieces to the next showing at The Doris, which starts next week and is part of the 90th anniversary of the creation of the Gainesville Fine Arts Association “Art for All Seasons” (scroll down a bit for the flyer for the show). Herself and I will each show two pieces (the limit for all members) and our prints are all in the 11x14 range framed to 16x20. Her selections are “Mermaid Bath” and “Bahamian Wave”, mine are “Peek-a-Boo” and “All the Modern Conveniences”. So three out of four pieces are showing someplace here in North Central Baja Jorja, one from Cedar Key and two from Dudley Farm near Newberry.

I delivered those on Saturday past, another hot day which while it didn't start off feeling too hot suddenly got rather oppressive at the last hour of Haile Farmers Market. Got home, off-loaded the Market supplies and then helped feed some of the livestock before heading back to the House to clean up a bit, and haul prints to The Doris. Made it in time.

Checked out another local business on the way home, the Repurpose Project. These folks are recycling and repurposing items, pulling windows, sinks, woodwork and such out of older homes being demolished (for example), and other things. I wandered through the place thinking hmm, good spot to find things for the odd project that either a historical re-enactor or a steampunk or cosplayer needed.

I, specifically, stopped because they ran an add which Herself found via FB that they had metal frames on sale for $1 (US) each. I picked up pieces for two, and somewhat befuddled the worker who helped me because I picked out pieces to make square frames. These metal frames would only be 11x14 in size anyway (so take an 8x10 print, and we're moving to framing larger prints these days for display).

The good news is they also have a stock of other old frames, some quite large, so I'll be back. I also found two used portfolio travel cases, for transporting larger framed pieces. Currently I'm using appropriately sized cardboard boxes when taking pieces to weekend art festivals; these portfolio cases will help for things like the upcoming show at The Doris.

I've gotten through both recent shoots for watermarking, still need to connect with the particular models to deliver proofs. What can anyone out there tell me about Dropbox? This came as a suggestion from one of the models. I've got Google Drive as well, which can use for this purpose. Just need contact info for the person in question.

Just now, hearing some thunder in the distance, and Houdini is nudging me for this reason, so it's time to wrap this up and reassure an anxious Border Collie Bro.
madshutterbug: (c) 2011 by Myself: Zone VI 8x10 view camera (View Camera)
We are winding down July, which puts us well and truly into the Time of Wet. This year been a bit wetter than others, not complaining (or not much) but there is some work to be done and it isn't work to be done while being rained upon. Particularly not if that same rain includes lightning. Staying caught up with routine things, not getting ahead much on other projects

This covers the Meanwhile Back at the Ranch part of today's post. Other than we are (and will be for a bit) settling in to the routines with only one Border Collie Bro about. Houdini is wanting to be close to me a bit more than usual as well, which only makes me wonder how long his next solo walkabout will be, not to mention when. And he thinks there hasn't been sufficient Rides recently, anywhere. This may be true, since at this time of the year there is no leaving him in a parked car while running errands, not even one which is left locked with engine and AC running. Just, No.

For the past week, this hasn't been possible since Sydney Subaru Outback is at the shop, It's mostly accumulated Things Needing Done, some quite routine like filter changes (along with oil, coolant, and such). I'd thought one of the CV joints (Constant Velocity, not Curriculum Vitae... I don't think Sydney has that sort of CV) was going but our mechanic says no. We did know the brakes needed attention if only because Sydney is a venerable 312,000 kilometres (195,000 miles) old. Turns out the sound I thought indicated problems with the CV joint is/was the brake caliper on that side.

Hopefully we get him back tomorrow.

Since July is winding down, so is our month at The Doris as the GFAA Featured Artists. We took in our folding display racks and matted inventory Friday evening past since the last Friday of the month is Art Walk. I've known about Art Walk for a bit over a year; various business establishments in Downtown Gainesville either art gallery type places or otherwise that support the arts stay open late, and host a bit of an open house. Since we are currently showing artwork at The Doris we sat in for the Art Walk, and helped out pointing visitors in the correct directions for whatever. Probably will next month as well, though then it will be as part of a larger show Art For All Seasons, 90th Anniversary of the GFAA. We will each have two pieces in that show; not sure which ones yet, but two each.

Meanwhile I've also actually spent money on an app for smartphone. Might not seem such a big deal to most folks, but I'm know as a bit of a spendthrift offspring of unmarried parents on a lot of days, and from the start of my carrying anything even purporting to be a smartphone (as in the old Treo NotSoSmartPhone) all the apps either came with the phone or are free. Some of the free ones are to make it easier to conduct business with certain firms. B&H Photo in New York is one such, plus bank apps, the Weather Channel app, some others. Even if the 'functionality' is limited compared to a purchased app, nearly all are free.

The one exception (so far) is AutoStitch. This app I picked up after a good amount of research, as it meets my needs for an experimental approach to my photography. I've often said (related to cameras but true overall as well) that the most useless tool one owns is the one at home when needed. This is one of the things about smartphones I really like, always having a camera handy.

Panoramas are a type of photography where a wider image is made by overlapping a series of images. Often used for landscapes, and the word itself somewhat harkens back to that source, the concept need not be limited to landscapes. There are a number of apps about that help automate this process, which helps, yet are limited to either horizontal or vertical assembly. AutoStitch is not so limited; I can take three or even more vertical rows of overlapping images and put together an assembled panorama.

Where this attracts me so much is that I like making big prints, always have. Smartphone cameras are constantly improving, but they aren't quite up to even middle-line point and shoot megapixel rating, much less DSLR. So being able to assemble a larger photo from multiple smaller ones is one way around this limitation. I figure to be ready to post some of the results for visual sharing next week.

In my spare time.

I think I've got some spare time.

Somewhere.
madshutterbug: (c)2009 by Myself (Houdini&I)
It feels like a long week. Oh, measured in minutes, hours, days no longer than any other week. Measured subjectively, and … a long week.

As a Registered Nurse, this is my 33rd July at a Teaching Hospital. If you aren't in Health Care at all, you may not know what this means, if you are you do, yet you may not be working in Teaching Hospitals and for good reason, because July is when all the newly graduated Medical Students start as Brand New Doctors.

A while ago after reading (or re-reading) Robert Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land I rather decided that I'd apply a concept, or my adaptation of that concept, if I ever found myself saying I hated something. At that point, I would commence to study it (or them, or whatever) and learn a lot more about it, know it quite totally. Only a few things piqued this over the intervening years, and most of them once I'd studied more stopped being something I said I hated.

I. Hate. July.

This is the first year I've said that. And given this is my 33rd July (at a Teaching Hospital) it occurs to me I already did all the studying I need to do. Add to it the few things I've mentioned publicly, and as far as I'm concerned, This. July. Is. Fired.

::sigh::

Now, on the other hand, there are some good things to report. Making progress learning how to work with GIMP. Doing so not quite the hard way, and doing so by working on projects then researching something if I run into snags. Not always researching, today I figured out some easier means to conduct watermarking my images as I worked through a batch from May. All watermarked now, and in the process of saving said files as JPG for web and other distribution, so probably be able to show some new(er) work soon.

Yesterday worked with someone on my Healing Art project; did this session 'on location' at my friends house, where there is now hanging one of the images in the project 'Recursive Series #1'. Some of the work visits that, just because.

Will likely be a bit before I'm ready to show anything from this session, in part because there are a ton of Ranch projects needing work and in part because I hate July and it's still July and bah.

Houdini, however, says it's OK because he is with me and he is enjoying being Indoor Dog.
madshutterbug: (c)2001 by Myself: Photographed in the Miyazu Gardens, Nelson, New Zealand (Meditation)
Yesterday evening, the Pediatric Surgery Fellow Graduation Roast. We arrived stylishly late, though in time for dinner, and stayed through the end. Departed about 23:15 plus or minus a bit. Good food (leftovers for dinner this evening, or maybe, see today's events below) and a lot of fun in the Roasts on all sides. Not all Roasts, of course. Lots of photographs given, nor at all surprising as the Graduate likes them. At the risk of patting myself on the back, I to believe the Graduate much appreciated the composite Portraits of A and feel better about getting so carried away with that. She also likes the second and simpler commission. Both pieces the Junior Now Senior Fellow asked for as these gifts, and alas for you the reader as gift commissions they are not in the public portfolio.

Today to the Welcome the New Pediatric Surgery Fellow, a good deal more informal than the Graduation (and that, not particularly formal though slacks and nice shirts are de rigour), and lunch on the patio. Weather today provided a fair amount of rain, here at the Ranch first and also during the party there. We had enough of a break to get hog feed stowed and everyone fed for morning rounds, as well as the Buckling Shelter moved and re-set before we left.

And again arrived stylishly late. Very good food, in the manner of the host and hostess' culture and delightful. Enjoyed sitting on the covered patio and watching the rain while eating spiced foods and drinking excellent fruit punch. Ate enough, in fact, to make it potentially a moot point about needing dinner this evening. Came home to nap. Now. Been up from nap for a bit, and still sedentary even though it's about time to head out for Evening Rounds. Quite simply, enjoying the flavours and blends still, and digesting. Ahhhhh.

Quite a bit learned in the creation of these two commissions. In the first case, improving skills and knowledge with the GIMP application, generating a composite piece (the collage Portraits of A), albeit a fairly simple composite. Simple in the sense that as a collage of stacked photographs, there is no need to match lighting and blend images into a single coherent final 1000 Words. At the same time, the manipulations of each image, coming into the composite as a new layer and then worked within to match the concept for the stacked collection includes skills needed to achieve a blended single coherent final image.

As a composite of stacked photographs, it becomes a short story, a shade more than 1000 words, about the progress through two intense years of Pediatric Surgery fellowship. As one of the Pediatric Surgeons said in yesterday's presentations, four years work experience compressed into two. The short story then includes most all of the O.R. team that worked with A through those years.

The second commission proved a lot more straight forward photographic manipulation, simply making sure that the final image presented in sharp focus, and removing enough 'white space' to keep the viewer focused on the two primary subjects. In this case the white space is actually black, and area outside the starkly lit pair who are performing the title actions, ECMO Cannulation.

A portrait is a portrayal of the individual (or individuals) in the image, in the proverbial 1000 Words. The 1000 words here is that sometimes, indeed, Mohammed goes to the Mountain and the needed surgical procedure is performed where the patient is, elsewhere than the surgical theatre because that patient is in no condition to travel. The conditions may be less than ideal, and yet the care provided, the attention to details and asepsis all comes together to provide successful outcomes.

What the second image brought to the learning desk (along with the first commission) is in the realm of printing. I discussed that previously, and it still proves worthy to mention it again.

Making a photograph is only part of the equation. There are many photographers who capture the photograph then hire someone to print their work; this set of artists includes me, both for silver emulsion printing and digital work. Septic tanks and silver do not mix well, and as for the past ten years or so, with the move to a digital work concept, I've been taking my work to a local lab. I'm fortunate to be in close proximity to a good lab, not needing to send work away and pay for shipping as well.

However, I miss the craft, the follow-through and in essence full control over the outcome of visualising something and carrying it to print that part and parcel of printing ones own work. Printing the image is, for me by both education and philosophy not so much a separate function as the completion of visualisation.

I'm quite happy so far with the Epson Artisan 50. The largest prints I can generate are likely 8x10. I may be able to edge up on that to 8x14, we shall see. I've some thoughts on that, essentially trimming larger sheets to the width that this printer can handle. Larger prints than that will still need to go off to the lab for now. In the next year or two I should like to get a wide-format printer, yes, and there will still be top end size limits on what I shall print here. Really big prints will need to go to the lab.

Right now, it's time to head out for Evening Rounds. The Bros are waiting. So shall further exploration of printing, including some concepts for resuming silver emulsion printing here at Studio.
madshutterbug: (c)2001 by Myself (Harrison Ford 8N)
I aim to misbehave here. Besides that being a touch to one of my favourite science fiction shows, it's also the case and I even fore-warned a couple people that I would be doing so. There will be a bit of talk about what the Artist is doing, because it's supposed to be my art blog and all. However, and because artists (at least this Artist) don't only make art. Believe it or not, there are a lot of Activities of Daily Living that get in the way, and other things. And when the Artist in Question also owns a small Ranch, well, it means there are things that go along with being able to say Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch...

State of the Artist, State of the Art )
Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch )

Some details, just so's ya knows.

Harrison Ford 8N (Nowadays likely a Light Tractor; used to be the Tractor):
1951, 23 horse flat-head 4 cylinder gasoline, 4 forward speeds, one reverse, clutch-driven active PTO on the rear of the tractor with Category One three-point hitch. Fuel capacity 10 US gallons.
LittleJon John Deere 2210 (Compact Tractor) (Herself calls him an Estate Tractor):
2006 (?) 23 horse 3 cylinder diesel, four wheel drive (selective), hydrostatic transimission (one forward, one reverse, selected by pedal), active PTO to rear with Category One three-point hitch and to belly for mower, selectable to run either/both/neither. Fuel capacity 5 US gallons.
madshutterbug: (c) 2011 by Myself: Zone VI 8x10 view camera (View Camera)
Above and beyond the free thing, actually. I mean, I've mentioned it before, and the free thing, and my somewhat dis-satisfaction with Adobe and whole Photoshop thing. My marvelous, wonderful, familiar old copy of Seven ceasing to function. Contemplating purchasing an upgrade. Actually purchasing same, yet not getting around to installation for a few weeks and then Adobe announcing that Photoshop is moving to the Cloud.

Perhaps I'm old-fashioned. I'm not sure I'm a fan of the Cloud. I mean, I am using aspects of it, and I'm not using a lot of aspects of it. First impressions from the Adobe announcement were that one would need to connect to their site to run the software all the time. Not totally true; there is still a down-loadable component. However, it does need to be … refreshed shall we say … on a regular basis. And paid for. Monthly.

This is a great financial plan for Adobe. Not so much for me. I am pretty darn comfortable with shelling out several hundred bucks every few years or so to upgrade. Well, OK, even more comfortable with doing that every few decades. Plus, I'd downloaded the Gimp and Wilbur and all, installed that application and started learning it. Because hey, supposed to do pretty much what Photoshop does. And it's free, open source software and all.

Some of this is quite revealing about my workflow. As in what I do to process an image, even fairly simple one-off image without any composite work. Composite is something fairly new for me, though yes I did work a little bit at it in Darkroom Days way back when, after I first learned about Jerry Uelsmann and all. Enough to really, really respect what that man produces. Jump forward now to oh 10 years ago or so, and I start learning digital processing.

First by scanning negatives, and occasionally digital images made from borrowed cameras, and working with both PaintShop Pro and assorted other lesser known apps then, '03 or so, Photoshop. Now, transitioning into Gimp.

So. How do I process an image?

Well, going back to basics I'm still primarily focused (pun intended) on a print as the outcome of making a photograph. Some of the learning briefly glossed over above involved putting images out onto the World Wide Web. What I want to do is make and sell prints. I'm willing to hire a printer for some of this (a lot, actually, in one way) however it's that printing process that is a big part of it. So, there is a short detour here that learning the digital printing process, rather than the darkroom alchemy, is an ongoing aspect in order to (I tells myself) trim my costs.

Learning any craft involves expense. There are efforts made, judged, and discarded as learning curve. So trimming costs is sort of a non sequitur in all this.

Leaving the detour behind, though it is involved, back to processing the image.
In darkroom alchemy, these are the steps I am remembering and briefly outlining:
Film exposed
Film processed – developed. Chemistry involved.
Film examined. One of the early points in achieving prints is a proof, where the film is laid on a sheet of print paper, exposed and processed. Now we've got positives of the negative image. Helps in evaluating the work. Given enough time, some photographers use proof sheets less; we learn to see the qualities in the negative.
Image selected, negative loaded into enlarger, and the process starts for a print. First proof here is a timed exposure with a card covering the paper, moved (in, say, three to five second increments) along, and then the paper is developed. Chemistry involved. Come along in a bit for a brief discussion of chemistry.
Each one of those bands will be a different amount of light/time on the paper. One or more but usually not more than three will look like the best time. Another proof is done, fewer bands, card moved across at say one second intervals starting with the shortest time from the starting to look good bands in the original proof.
All of this assumes fresh chemicals (developer, stop, fixer). Developers may be totally hand-mixed from selected chemicals, or purchased pre-mixed (usually powders, going to be mixed with water for the darkroom session). Or at least, could be back in the day. I'm not sure how much post 9/11 all of this is available as basic ingredients. I do know it is still possible to purchase basic developers and fixers from assorted photographic supply companies.
However, things someone not as deeply into photography and the alchemy side might not think about, and some photographers do. How does Vitamin C (ascorbic acid, eh) effect sharpness of emulsion when used as part of a developer recipe? Turns out it helps make the grain in either the negative or the print finer...

Anyway, once the general exposure time is determined there will still be portions which need more or less light to help bring everything up the way the photographer wants. So now there is experimentation with dodging (shading portions sooner to limit how much light they get exposed to) and burning (shading other portions to provide more light to some sections, usually smaller sections) and then into the developer again.

How long in the developer also effects final image. As the paper goes in and the chemicals interact with the silver in the emulsion, the reactions 'exhaust' the developer. Papers need to stay in the developer longer for a while, then it gets to be too long, and it becomes obvious the reactions with the silver aren't happening. The developer solution needs to be refreshed or replaced.

OK. But go back to that dodging and burning; there are tools which equate to that in Photoshop and other apps. They are even called the Dodge and Burn Tools. There are other tools which equate to that amount of time the silver emulsion is exposed to light (Levels, Curves, Balance, lots of names, and they all apply) and that is simply with the analogy being limited to black and white photography. It carries over to colour work as well.

Myself, I am what is sometimes called a colour vision deficient person. I prefer to describe this as I see colours in my own unique manner. I do see colour. I am not colour blind where everything is only black, white, shades of grey. I know some of those colours don't match how other people see them. This means that my colour work is likely to look odd to other people. That's y'alls problem.

And is one reason I so very much like to work in black and white and shades of grey. I am, in fact, contemplating doing what some other photographers chose to do and staying with black and white, even in digital processing. That jury is still deliberating.

Right, then, back to post-production or processing. I've demonstrated it isn't anything new, there's always been post-production processing in photography.

Layers are one of the strongest tools in digital processing. One reason Photoshop is considered top of the line is that applications multiple means to work with layers, different types of layers, and layer masks. Layer masks, at least to me, are much like that card I used to first come up with proofs, then to do dodging and burning. They are something which 'hides' portions of the image, or lets through more or less light to adjust how it appears. Or both.

Some of what I'm learning or re-learning then with Gimp is ways and means to manipulate layers. This is coming along. Perhaps I miss certain aspects of Photoshop. Perhaps I simply am adjusting to a different manner of manipulating how much light is coming through to the final image. Perhaps I'm willing to use a more brute force method to put things into a certain order where once a menu choice allowed re-shaping things.

The final image is still coming into focus for me.

And that's the point.

It's been a couple weeks since I've made any entries, and one of my goals as an artist is to write something about it every week, to share some of this journey with you, whoever you are reading this. This is OK. As Mr. John Lennon once said, 'Life is what happens when you are making plans.'
madshutterbug: (c)2001 by Myself (Harrison Ford 8N)
On this day in History, the Battle of Belleau Wood began. Elements of the U.S. Marines advanced to drive elements of the German army out of a well-entrenched position in the wood of the name, and moved along to (eventually) one of the many nick-names by which Uncle Sam's Misguided Children are also known. Purportedly this nick-name was bestowed upon them by the Germans, or specifically one of the German commanding officers. And while there is some leeway in the accuracy of this, the name stands. Oo-rah, Devil Dogs.

I keep thinking I'm not doing so well on my goal of posting once a week on artistic endeavors. Fact is, I am getting something down even if not always about art. Then again, basic lessons from my first teacher of art, Dad. Yah gotta take care of Daily Living if yah wanna make art.

So.

Daily living includes the usual Rounds here on the Ranch, and on days I don't go to Hospital that means helping with Morning Rounds (Border Collie Bro attendance) and Evening Rounds. This being Monday, Herself is off to Town of Tioga Farmers Market, so Evening Rounds will be myself and the Bros checking on Cows, Ms. Truffles Pig and teh Horses.

In between lots of other things can happen. At least today, some of that (also before) did involve art-related work. This morning while consuming Morning Coffee I worked through a half-dozen of Herself's images prepping for Big Prints. There are still pieces in preparation inventory to mat and mount, however I feel she needs a handful more Big Prints framed, and then matted and added to Sale Inventory. First, get the images print ready. Then burn to CD. I made this task easier on myself by selecting some of her more popular images which she already prepped for printing, and scaled the image sizes up. Tomorrow I'll drop the disk off at Flair Lab on the way home from Hospital.

There is a wee deadline on this, because we shall be doing a month-long exhibit at The Doris here in Hoggetowne, in the room where members of the Gainesville Fine Arts Association are provided space on a month basis. It being a bit of a show (the pieces are listed for sale if such is the case) I want those larger prints framed up. Good to work to a bit of a deadline. Keeps me motivated. Literally.

On my own side, I've been sorting through photographs made two and a bit weeks ago, which by the end of this week I want to have watermarked and prepped to burn to disk and send to the model. At that point, I'll also be looking at posting some of those to the web, since the images provided to the model are going to be web-ready.

That's the Art accomplished today, and if it isn't creation of new things, it is work on projects that need completion. Which also reflects one of Dads lessons: making art is often continuing slogging through the work side of it, not always the Thrill of Creation. Well, OK, some of that slogging may still involve the Creation Thrill.

After feed and water time, and lunch for us, and before loading Forrest Nissan Pickup for Market, I fired up LittleJon Deere. The business with the battery mentioned last week is not a horrible ending, since charging up the battery does keep it going. However, letting LittleJon sit for more than a couple days or so and we'll see that battery needing to be recharged before he'll start on turn-over. We'll replace the battery eventually, sooner rather than later. But it's not a bad thing to 'force' ourselves to start and run him for a bit. After all, we're now into Summer here in North Central Baja Jorja, and lots of things want to Grow Grow Grow. Running a 1.5 metre (five-foot) mower over it helps discourage rampant uncontrolled growth.

It also makes it easier to walk about on the other Daily Rounds since a lot of that mowing creates the paths to the Goats, the Cows, the Hogs and such.

And, in fact, it is about now time to go gather up the Bros for the Evening Rounds walk-about.
madshutterbug: (c)2009 by Myself (Houdini&I)
We are now the owners of a John Deere 2210 Estate Tractor. The last two words are Herself's description. I like them, however, as it is accurate in my mind. Much heftier than the El Toro Yard Tractor Mower, not so hefty at all as Harrison Ford 8N Tractor, who still abides in a tractor coma, basic life support continuing until we can resuscitate him. Resuscitate him we will, for we need the services of his heft as well.

Indeed, the individual we purchased the Deere from (along with attachments, more later) makes a living working on yard tractors up through the heavier ones. Just now, in the Merry Month of May, he's quite busy with the yard maintenance crew, getting their beasts tuned up for the Summer Season. He looked over Harrison while here, made a couple suggestions for the coma maintenance, and said he'll be happy to take on the rest of the mechanical resuscitation later, when the Summer Season is winding down. Say, September.

Meanwhile, we now own a functioning tractor, with useful implements. A front end loader, which is specific to the new beast. Two hole augers (15cm & 20cm) and a plow attachment. The hole augers will also mount and work on Harrison Ford 8N.

It is diesel powered, which means another fuel storage. Not a big deal, though, and already obtained one fuel carboy in Yellow. On this side of the Ponds, petrol (gasoline) stores in red, diesel in yellow, kerosene (paraffin for the UK folk) in blue. We've some kerosene about for lamps when the power fails, and petrol for both tractors plus others as needed. Now we've some diesel as well.

State of the Studio

Not a lot of much, at this point, as we've been catching up somewhat with things needed about the House or the Ranch. Did fit in a short session with a model new to me, outdoors here on the Ranch so around and about places photographed before. I still enjoy photographing those places; one copse possesses such a fairy ring feel, others filter the light delightfully. On the other hand, I'm proving to myself I'm definitely getting to the point in my shooting career I need to think very hard on camera support. Lot of motion blur in this session, and likely the majority of that is my moving the camera.

Now, I did choose a lower ISO in part because I've always shot for maximum sharpness. No, not that exactly, as I did (and do still on occasion) push things for the grainy (in film) noisy (in digital) feel to the image. However, since I like making Big Prints, sharpness becomes an issue unless things are planned to use that blur.

Tripods are the first answer coming to mind, and I opted not to bring one with me on the walkabout. There are a number of tripods in my inventory, older, newer. I use two in particular fairly regularly, a moderately lightweight one for the walkabout, and a heavier one which I acquired from Clyde, Herself's father, when I purchased a then-old video camera after he upgraded his equipment. (Note: from that purchase, the tripod is still in service. I've not tried the video camera for a long time; it is designed to work with a separate VCR recorder, eh. There is also a steel hardshell case for the camera and a couple accessories. I should pull that out and look to refurbishing for other uses.)

I did bring my monopod on the walk, didn't use it as anything other than a walking stick. Why not, eh? Well, the monopod with the camera mounted is a one-position only shooting support. I've put one of the older tripod pan heads onto it before, moved that head back to that tripod. Might re-think that position, as the older tripod it comes off is not being used much as is. On the other hand, I'd like a somewhat different head than that one for the monopod. Do want a head on the monopod, because then I'd be more likely to use it... and it appears I really do need to use it.

That's the summary of things up to today. Oh, new roof work on the Big House is nearly complete. Yea! It's already complete enough that recent rainfall demonstrated the new roof will be a big improvement in life. The metal roofing extends past the eaves approximately 7 cm, and water run-off is far less likely to spatter back onto the side of the house, which means also less likely to spatter back into open windows. Which means in the times of year we leave windows open because temperatures & humidity are generally nice, we're less likely to get splash if a rain comes along and we aren't home, say.

Along with the metal roof itself (and the total re-decking we did underneath that) the roof vents are different from original manufacturer. Any and all houses need venting for the under-roof (attic) space. Moisture builds up simply from humidity, and without venting will start to rot ones house from inside. The original vents, five each half of the house, were 10 cm holes covered by mushroom caps, off ridge because hey, House did start off as Manufactured Housing so transported to site by halves. The new vents are rectangles, and the venting hole itself is 15 cm by 75 cm so they move a whole lot more air. Our roofer (happens to be a friend of ours long standing, I will happily provide name and contact to anyone Baja Jorja local who needs such work done) also installed flexible duct from the bathroom ceiling fans (three total) up to the off-ridge vents. This accomplishes the ventilation of the bathrooms without adding another hole through the roof! Fewer holes in refurbished new roof! Woohoo!
madshutterbug: (c) 2011 by Myself: Zone VI 8x10 view camera (View Camera)
Up bright (no, not actually) dark and early yesterday, loaded truck and on the road by 06:30, and about an hour to get to Windsor. Wee bit of grumpiness early, it passed. Probably shouldn't even have grumped then, oh well. Long day, and as far as Studio 318 is concerned no sales. However, the Ranch half of the booth did exceeding well with sales of goat milk fudge and goat milk soaps.

A light steady rain for a short period came along around 15:00, and whump vendors started packing up to go home despite another two hours to the festival. We stayed put; I dropped the outer walls on the two sides with art, and moved the jewelry display under the roof. Ditto for the soaps, and we weathered things fine. I saw several other vendors who obviously do weekend festivals a lot, and come with that underlying philosophy (often stated outright on the application forms) that it's rain or shine the show goes on. You paid your booth fee, you stay.
And while the crowd thinned down some from the rain, sales continued, particularly of the fudge, up to and after the end of the show. Now, by the 17:00 time slot, probably half the vendors had left already.

So we packed up, and covered the back of the pickup with a tarp and put the corrugated board boxes with framed artwork into the Subaru. Herself arrived shortly after the rain, so between 15:30 and 16:00.Good thing, too, because on the drive home we drove into the serious rain, which the forecast said would get to us around 19:00 and it arrived maybe an hour early.

We all went to Las Aviñas in Archer for dinner, not a big decision really since we all live to one side or the other of Archer and so we all were going there anyway. Good dinner, then home, left the truck covered for the more rain through the night and did a hot tub soak and crashed. Hard. Didn't wake until nearly 07:00 this morning.

Luxury.

Now, the Windsor Zucchini Festival is several things. Primarily it is a fundraiser for the community of Windsor to fund their volunteer fire department; besides the vendor booth space sales, they also sell chicken dinners and lunches, all involving a zucchini dish of some sort, and zucchini bread, and there are the Cook-a-Zucch contests, and of course Miss Zucchini. For these reasons alone, being a vendor (very specifically, the fact that it helps this community fund their fire department) is on the list of Things To Do again next year. Even if, again, Studio 318 doesn't make any sales. We did last year, so there.

It is also the last even we've been doing before the Summer Hiatus. Last year we did a brief stint at Bronson's first ever Fourth of July Festival; we may set up the Ranch booth this year if there is a repeat, I won't be setting up the Studio however. There is a reason for the Summer Hiatus here, and that is the combination of heat and humidity. Given time and research and experience, there may be some summer festivals we'll try our Studio booth at. Those are very likely going to be on the coast, where sea breezes help with the heat and humidity.

Here in North Central Baja Jorja, though, it's time to settle in to a more relaxed pace. There are still things to do, and get done, and outdoors, just... slower.

It's time to get moving on a couple bigger projects here on the Ranch. The back deck of Studio 318 needs to be re-planked, and the roof enlarged. That's one of them.

It's also time to review all the lessons learned in nearly two years of setting up the Studio Pavilion at weekend (and some week-day) festivals, and tune things up. During today's drying time, I made measurements of the pavilion for revamping the support system on the Art Display Walls. The walls themselves are made from shade netting fabric, purchased at Lowe's. They're holding up well enough, showing some signs of their use, and we've thought of a couple things to improve them for the next go-around. (That is, if we don't decide we are bringing in enough funds to justify purchasing the commercially available net style display walls... though I'm leaning towards the Do It Yourself variation again.)

The two side walls get the most art anyway, as that is what is most visible when people walk by. The current method of a single schedule 40 PVC tube as the weight distribution member across the top, with the primary anchors being loop and ball bungee cords, will continue to serve. However, the nearly two years of service on the current PVC tubes show a couple small problems.

The tubes are two parts, half the length of the side, so they will break down for transport inside the Subaru. Been using the slip fit which came with the tubing; this works, but it's stiff (supposed to be when using the tubing for plumbing, its primary purpose) and as the tubes aged, one broke. So I'm going to re-do these, still half the length, only with a male/female threaded coupling at the half-way point so they will thread together. Should be easier to both put together and break down for both of us, primarily Herself.

The back wall needs a revision. We knew other artists used a partial wall on the back side of their pavilions, and now from the three bigger art festivals we did we agree. Need that 'back door' to get out that side, as the place where most the extra stock and our lounging area is. So that wall will get a frame to tension the wall onto, rather than going to the poles of the pavilion itself as it has been. The tension is necessary because that's an important part of the weight distribution in our hanging display system.

I may also look at that experiment as a means to provide our own free-standing walls if we need them. So the frame will be something heavier than the 19mm (3/4”) PVC we're using for the top bar. This piece may not break down, or not the same way, so it's going to take a bit of thought. To convert it to a free-standing wall, I plan on using the same male/female threaded coupling to attach the feet.

Along with the redesign of the back wall art display, we're also figuring a means to support the back weather wall as a shade fly when we're set up at festivals. Get some rain and overnight, things move inside the main cover and the back wall comes down as the weather wall again; most of the time, however, it can provide shade for us sitting out back as needed.

Most festivals stipulate that the booth space is it, and the artists displays need to fit within the space. A lot of them, though, provide enough space behind booths for a bit of stretch. When we need to live within the space, we'll have a full wall. When we can stretch a bit, we shall.

If I call my Festival Year starting in September after the Summer Hiatus, and counting the con art shows, we've done seven shows, and sales at five of them. Counting just from New Years, we've done five shows, and sales at three. Two of those shows we made expenses, one we also made some profit, and one we didn't make expenses even with the sale. If we figure how well the Ranch Booth half of the show did at Windsor, than we made expenses and some profit at two, expenses at three, and et cetera. Not too bad, overall.

There is still a stack of prints which need mounting and matting, however tomorrow I should be clearing the decks in Studio for a session. After that session I will re-set for matting until I get that stack done. Meanwhile, in between all this I'll continue working up the greeting card ideas. May be able to offer those as a test via the blog, if anyone is interested.

Now, it's getting on evening here. Evening Rounds are done. The Bros got a flea bath today, which they tolerated because hey, it also involved several rounds of Hose! Chase the Wet! Amazing how inexpensively one may entertain themselves with a couple of Border Collies. Also useful to use their pleasure at playing a game where they chase the water coming out of a hose to tire them out.

September 2015

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