madshutterbug: (c)2009 by Myself (Houdini&I)
When last we visited Mad Shutterbug for a State of the Artist the calendar year showed 2014. In reality it's been about two and a half months, so mentioning only the calendar year is a bit misleading. Gregorian New Years Day transpired in the interim thus bringing us to 2015, but hey, it sounds really dramatic.
We've filled the time in between with a goodly portion of Ranch Work. Besides the usual daily things, Herself and I managed to get her Truck Garden (so called by me because her plan is to load up the produce into Forrest Nissan Pickup and truck it off to one or the other of our Farmers Markets... well, and eat some of it ourselves for sure) fenced. Reason for fencing, this will mostly keep Dirty Yard Bird Chooks out, as well as goats or cows that may wander by. Three sides of it are fenced with wire fabric, one side with plastic contractor fencing. That last we chose for three reasons, expense, expediency, and keeping Dirty Yard Bird Chooks out.

As to the latter, it seemed like it would work well enough, being as high as the wire. Mostly it does keep them out. There are a few who applied some brilliant thinking and figured out how to (barely) flutter over any given stretch of the fence. Those ladies are now marked for future residence in Chicken Tillers. What we didn't figure into the equation: Velvet Youngster Dog and her desire to be close to her Humans. Plastic netting and Velvet teeth are not a good match. Or, from Velvets point of view, not a bad match. We've more or less convinced her that it is a Bad Idea to chew holes in Moms Fence.

Expediency came into play because this is the last stretch that needed fencing, it crosses the drain field for Studio 318's septic tank and being light could run some distance with fewer posts, thus less hazzard to the drain field. On that note, it works very well. Regarding Expense, three 30-plus metre rolls cost less than the equivalent length of wire fabric. So overall we are fairly content with results so far.
Along with protecting the Truck Garden from marauders we also decreased the number of stomachs we feed and increased the amount of frozen meat in the stocks to go to Farmers Market. That involved two days and resulted in 270 kg of pork.

Over a portion of January and much of February we also dealt with several Freeze Alerts and Warnings. Over here in Baja Jorja, an Alert from the National Weather Service means that the specific weather is possible; a Warning means it will happen. This part of the world does see freezing temperatures. Unlike points further north (and much, much further south) duration and intensity are not as extreme. However, when the ambient temperature is at or below the point that water becomes a solid... it is cold.

Things like our water bibs where we provide fluid replenishment for Goats, Hogs and et cetera become at risk. The Goats and Horses require a bit more shelter than normal, and potentially some bedding. The Chooks definitely want some protection, but really that mostly means a wind-break because birds are pretty good at roosting together, and fluffing up feathers for dead-air-space insulation. Ditto for the Goats, actually, the don't mind cold so long as they're dry.

Each of those freezes came preceded by a fair amount of rain, and this is nominally our dry season. We managed to keep mostly everyone dry (Cows and Horses fend for themselves, sheltering under trees). So we got through it, without much problem, but with a lot of energy expense. Both ours, and I just received the electric bill and the House jumped by a couple hundred dollars from the previous month.

Ah well. Activities of Daily Living and all.

In between all of the above, I also managed to accomplish:
Shipping some pieces off to MarsCon in Williamsburg, Virginia for that Con art show
Completing applications for both the Orlando and Tampa NudeNite shows; Orlando invited one piece, Tampa invited neither piece.
Receiving notification that we are juried into the Santa Fe Spring Arts Festival (Not Santa Fe New Mexico; Santa Fe College, here in Baja Jorja).
Getting a (mildly short) notice for a local Photography Exhibit sponsored by the Gainesville Fine Arts Association (Herself and I are members), submitting three pieces each and being invited one piece each for the show. That show is on-going until 9 March.
Matting more work to increase inventory stock for the upcoming GFAA Winter Fine Arts Festival at Tioga.

So, in order, more or less.

Preparing for these weekend festivals and other shows generally involves thinking at least six months ahead. The Call for Artists usually go out then, applications are readied, jury fees paid, and then we wait. A few festivals, particularly smaller local ones, will ask for the booth fee with the application, and when one sees the check clear the bank account one knows one is accepted into the event. More information follows, of course, but that's usually the first indication.

GFAA Winter Tioga, the SF Spring Arts Festival, and the two Nude Nite shows are more as described. So related to that, and more or less in order of completion of the application are these images. Usual disclaimer about Nude Art, If You Don't Like That Don't Look, Et Cetera.

Back in December though they didn't get shipped until a fairly short time before the event, I applied for my third time around with MarsCon in Virginia. The shipping took place a tad late compared to earlier years, in part because of Ranch Work aforementioned. Also because this year I shipped using the Brown Truck Folks (United Parcel Service). I found I could ship a larger package (thus some pieces matted up to 16x20) for the same fee the previous two years using United States Postal Service. Nothing sold, which is fine as I enjoy the vicarious thrill of attending the Con via my artwork (though sales are very nice). Return shipping proved a bit of a learning experience, as I needed to schedule that through the UPS web site. Learning occurred. More on that later, however.

Pieces submitted to MarsCon
MarsCon Art Submissions... not much nudity )

Orlando NudeNite (Event took place 12-14 February)
Completed application back around New Years Day, this one is juried and two pieces allowed. I submitted these – Gravidity #4 and I Shall Wear... a Red Hat #1. Red Hat #1 did not make the cut, however Gravidity #4 did much to my delight, as this is the second time I've tried getting pieces into the Orlando NudeNite without ever seeing the show and thus obtaining a good idea what the show is looking for.

Gravidity #4 is from a 2006 session with art model Shayden. She and her husband lived near Colorado Springs at the time, out on the western edge of the Great Plains. They would drive around their area and note on the map abandoned homesteads, then research the tax maps for who currently owned the properties. Then they would contact those owners, explain that as a professional model Shayden would occasionally work with photographers who came to them and ask permission to work on the land. Thus when I worked with her, we did work on just such an abandoned homestead. Shay was also eight months into her first pregnancy at the time.

Gravidity #4 )

Tampa NudeNite is the next show I applied to. This one I approached with a tad more confidence as I've been invited both previous years with at least one of the two images submitted. The first year was Kitsune Out of the Storm, and last year was Erotica in the Manner of Rembrandt. However, this year neither photo received an invitation. Alas and all that, however it did free up time to work on some other things, including a short notice application to the local GFAA Photography Exhibit at Santa Fe College.

We each submitted three images for the jury. We each received an invitation for one. Some of this may involve the physical space for the show, which is currently in the Presidents Gallery in Building F on the Santa Fe campus. From myself, Sumi-e Reality; from Herself, Up-Side Down World.

Sumi-e Reality )
This one I did up originally for That Camera Club which we once participated in, and their monthly competition. The subject, Reflections. The category, Creative, by which they mean anything not photo-realistic. So it's a bit of a manipulation, duplicating the basic image, applying a brush-work style filter which provided a portion of the title, then masking off the portion which needs to show 'Reality'. It's a good photo to start, one of my primary rules in any sort of composite (and this is a sort of composite, though of the one image alone). Start with good photos. Curiously, the sumi-e styling helps a lot compared (at least to me) to the reality of the houses in the photograph.

Up-Side Down World )
Now, the latter still is a bit of a debate between Herself and I. It's her image. Darn good one; primary subject Reflections and done for the monthly competition while we still played with the Ocala camera club (time, distance, and other issues caused us to re-think that). I tend to take the title as my cue in how to 'hang' the image. She hangs it in the manner she composed it. Both work.

Getting her piece printed, matted, and framed is one of the things I needed to work on which not making it into Tampa NudeNite provided. Still, I've got three more large prints to mat and frame that I intended for those two shows. Given a wee bit of time I'll get those done, and sooner rather than later so that large prints are protected better than being in the shrink-wrap from the lab.

However, increasing basic inventory is the current priority what with two more weekend festivals coming up. GFAA Winter Art Festival Tioga will be in two weeks (6-8 March), and includes a Friday night portion so it's a three day show. I've a bit more time before Santa Fe Spring Arts, which is held in Downtown Gainesville every year. This year it will be 11-12 April. I did up a quick blurb for our Farmers Market booth to let regular customers know about the two festivals, since we may not be setting up at the Farmers Market those weekends.Still, need to continue with basic inventory for that show as well is also a big priority.

So I've matted up a small batch of 8x10 prints from Herself photos, and a couple 11x14 prints of my photos. One of those is intended as a gift, the other will be sent off to another Con art show in the near future and the third which is already in inventory will be available at both Tioga and Spring Arts. Until it sells, of course.

Meanwhile, I also matted for framing a Big Print of In the Hall of Titans King. I've got an 11x14 framed in a 16x20 of that one. But hey, I like big prints so I couldn't resist.

I'm currently working on matting in a diptych format two of Herself's 8x10s which make up Deer Scarer. They're photographs of just that, a Japanese bamboo deer scarer at Kanapaha Botanical Gardens. This is a simple device, a section of bamboo hinged, with the 'top' portion trimmed and set to fill slowly from a trickle of water from a well. Then, filled to the tipping point is smacks down onto a small stone making a loud noise, drains all the water, and lifts itself back into place to re-fill. We've only ever put out individually matted images of the two, and I've always seen it as a perfect diptych.

Well, that about covers it. Time now to get this loaded into the blog, then make the pitch, then get dressed and head out for more Ranch Work.
madshutterbug: (c) 2011 by Myself: Zone VI 8x10 view camera (View Camera)
Each show, each weekend art festival, brings new lessons, reinforces some lessons, and always, always the question: Will this setup grab enough attention to promote sales of my/our artwork this time around? No sales may not be a life-ending problem, and at the same time sale is one of the goals if only to kick some 'children' out of the house. The entire process is both involved and simple. This most recent go-around even provided an opportunity to review for myself once again, and begin to mentor someone starting on this same journey. It is not something which does well with an impulse to go and grab something by improvising. There is an infrastructure to working on selling a product, ones own artwork, and that infrastructure needs to be transported to site, easily unloaded and set up, then just as easily struck and loaded to go home.

We call the loading/unloading process the Show Tetris Game. Yes, it is named after that computer/video game of a decade ago, because what is being loaded comprises blocks going into a set volume of space. We've got two types of space as well, Forrest Nissan Pickup Truck and Sydney Subaru Outback the Younger. Sydney Subaru Outback the Elder also served, and provided a lot of learning. Sydney Younger is slightly larger, and that pays off.

In the past three weeks, we've done two weekend art festivals. One of those is a repeat show, with two years in a row now participating. The second is the first time for our participation, with the previous year being an attempt (as in we applied, and did not pass the jury). Life overall this year did impact on doing these two shows, and that is simply the way it is, so other than acknowledging the impact it isn't something to dwell upon and certainly not here. Here I'm going to look at each event in review, provide a brief summary of the event and sales, and discuss the process of showing ones art because that is what discussing with the newcomers covered.

Let us begin with the Micanopy Fall Harvest Festival.

Micanopy is a small community in North Central Florida, located a bit south of Gainesville and a bit more north of Ocala, right in between two major roads, the I-75 and US 441. Settings in Micanopy provided scenes in at least two major cinematic productions, Cross Creek about Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings (who lived nearby while writing her many well known stories), and Doc Hollywood. The folk who live there enjoy the fact the place preserves a lot about a quieter time, and also provide a lot of support to local arts, crafts, and antiques collectors. Each year the community (or at least a lot of members of same) come together to produce the Fall Harvest Festival as a community fundraiser, and all their proceeds go to several different non-profit community agencies. So for us, much like the Windsor Zucchini Festival it's an event we like to participate in both to sell our work and to help provide to local community well being.

This means, sure I want to make back expenses to break even, but I'll keep on applying for this festival if I at least recover some of those expenses.

Micanopy allows for vender set-up on the Friday before the Festival, which runs both Saturday and Sunday. It is a pretty big deal for the town as a whole, even the folks who aren't participating, because it draws a Really Big Crowd. The main drag for the town is the site of the Festival, all traffic for the three days is routed one way (vendors, that is, as the main drag is then closed to general traffic other than by foot). The length of the road here (and calling it main drag is true, but we're talking about a two-lane road, not a highway at all) which is set up for the Festival is a bit longer than half a kilometre, about a third of a mile.

All the properties and routes around this are cordoned in preparation. Designated vendor parking is provided for vendors, and those who want to help provide parking for attending folk are allowed to charge for parking on their property. This probably provides the funds to recover from the amount of traffic involved. Those who don't want to provide parking, their places are cordoned off as Private, No Parking. Don't want to pay for parking? No worries, park on the right of way of US 441 out there, but plan on a short hike to get over to the festival.

Booth spaces are marked on the roads with spray paint, corner markers and booth numbers. Check in, get ones paper packet (includes booth designator sign, and some other bits), drive in to ones space, stop, unload, and drive out to ones designated parking area. Seriously, drive out before setting up or a lot of folks (not just the community residents) are going to be quite upset. Remember, two-lane road, eh.

After parking, walk back to booth space and start setting up. I don't usually bring the artwork with me on setup days, unless that day is also going to be an Opening Day (happens, some events). Setup of the basic pavilion runs like this:

Pavilion Up. Anyone who's gone to some sort of weekend art festival fair or a farmers market will know what the pavilion tent looks like. There are a variety of manufacturers and styles. Some are more rigid and a bit more involved in setup as the legs and roof pieces need assembly. Some are fairly easy, expanding frames. We've used some from several manufacturers over time. The one we're currently using is an EZ-Up® Instant Shelters® (Web site is EZ-Up® Instant Shelters®). We use this one not because we think it's the best (it is pretty good) rather because we got a good price on a new one at one of the major discount box outlet stores. Since there are a lot of them out there, and periodically weather or wind trash one so those folks toss it, we've also been known to grab those abandoned damaged shelters to disassemble for spare parts.

First step is expanding it, then raising it to the first height latch. At this point I've been putting on what I call the Weather Walls (EZ-Up calls them the Sidewalls, eh). These get 'furled' and secured in the up position for now. Next I place the wind weights, because these types of shelters do act as parachutes or sails in even a rather mild breeze. The company provided add-on feet to put weights onto. I use those, but also add a heavy canvas tote bag which holds three jugs of water. Two are repurposed soda water jugs, one is a repurposed liquid laundry detergent jug. Between the three there are eight litres of water, so about eight kilograms of mass. One each is placed at each corner on those add-on feet, then a strap and hook is fastened around the upright at the roof frame for belt and suspenders security.

Mind you, even with this much weight (eight kilos times four bags so 32 kilos) there have been festivals with enough wind that I've acted as an interactive additional ballast weight for the pavilion.

With the Weather Walls on and furled, and the weights on and secured, I hang the Art Walls. There are companies out there that make assorted display walls, rigid and flexible. We use a mesh wall because it is lightweight and folds up rather small (relatively) for storage and transport. Again, there are companies that make these walls and I went shopping for them on-line. And gasped. Needed a stiff drink, because a set of these to display in a 3 by 3 metre pavilion runs about $700 US. So we went shopping. For some time invested, and possessing some skills with sewing machines, we made our walls out of mesh shade fabric for about $20 US per wall. We run grommets along all four sides. Ball bungee cords (looped bungees which close in a ball, eh) through the grommets and around the frame of the pavilion and the Art Wall is in place.

The first year we did this, we also inserted a PVC tube into a sleeve along the top to help distribute the weight of the hanging framed artwork. After that first year, I flipped the curtains over and that tube goes into the same sleeve just along the bottom. The curtain attaches securely enough to the frame of the pavilion (this is one of the benefits to us of the EZ-Up design) that the tube mostly helps the wall keep its shape and the pavilion bears the weight.

With the Art Walls up, it's time to finish raising the pavilion to working height. Sometimes that doesn't happen until the next morning, though, just before hanging artwork and opening.

We've a small assortment of furniture which comes along with us. Two tall directors chairs (folding chairs) because being in the booth for eight hours, one does appreciate being able to sit down. Our first setup for holding the matted artwork (we sell more matted work than framed, another bit for discussion later) involved a folding table and the transport bins. We've since shifted to using two folding canvas racks that hold a portion of the matted work. As pieces sell, we replenish the stock in the rack. These are put inside the pavilion on setup day and left with the kit.

Much of the supplies for this and some other items transport in a hinged-lid tote box. This includes the Booth Banner (currently, and will stay there but the main Booth Banner is a bit different now), a Bag-o-Bags holding shopping bags for those customers that need one when they purchase something, a roll of paper towels, a small tool box with odds and ends in it for the setup, and a nice repurposed teak breakfast tray table. I set the tote into a corner, cover it with a blue cloth, and put the teak table on top of that. Holds a few things on the table, the paper towels and other small bits for ongoing display work go under that on the tote.

On Setup days, it's now time to close up for the night, go home and finish things on the Ranch.
Next morning (day of show usually) on arrival I park whichever vehicle I came in, and unload the framed and matted artwork totes. Framed work is currently being transported in large corrugated board boxes and a few recycled portfolio bags. I like the bags, they're easy to move (comparatively) and rather a bit more weather resistant than the corrugated board boxes. However, the boxes are fairly inexpensive which makes up for it; portfolio bags are not so inexpensive though they do last longer.

Haul this over to the booth pavilion on collapsible hand-trucks, usualyl two to three trips, then it's time for coffee and getting the setup done. Framed art hangs on the mesh walls using drapery hooks. Once that's up, each piece is labeled using a business-card sized pin-on name badge holder. Each framed piece has a corresponding name card which says Studio 318, the Title of the piece, which of us made it, and the price. Simple, easy to print, looks very professional. Once the walls are done, putting matted pieces into those folding racks takes maybe ten minutes.

Add assorted other small signage (“We take the following Debit/Credit Cards”, “Buy Local, Support Local Artists”, and “Artist Blurb(s)” which, that last, I find rather difficult to write up.

By now, it's time to roll up the Weather Walls and Open Up.

Set up, it usually looks something like this:
Micanopy, 1024x )

Come closing time I drop the front wall (We're Closed) which allows me to pack up the matted work, clear the floor slightly by folding those racks and leaning them against our tall directors chairs, and then take down the framed work into those boxes. I don't like leaving the artwork there overnight, it's paper, even with the protection it's vulnerable to damp and wet. So I pack it back out to the vehicle, come back and close up all the weather walls.

The Art Piece Name Tags and drapery hooks stay where they are though, so the next morning setup takes far less time. Pack in the artwork, hang, adjust the matted racks. And Open for Business.

Each show will be slightly different, but not much. Both sides will hold art, and the back wall will vary between being a half-wall, a three-quarter wall or a full wall. Some festivals allow the artist vendor some space behind their booth. Others do not. Sometimes we've either enough space between booths or we're on a corner of some sort, and we hang one or a few pieces on the outside of the Art Wall.

Most festivals inform the accepted vendors that the festival will go on rain or shine, which is one reason the Weather Walls are put on as well. And yes, we've dropped them for rain. Rain often thins the crowd, thin crowds do tend to buy less, so it goes.

The Downtown Art Festival, the setup looked like this:
Downtown Fall Art, 1024x )

At the end of the Festival it's time to strike the set, pack up again and go home. So we're back to the Show Tetris. Forrest Nissan is a bit easier to load into, being a pickup truck. Sometimes though, particularly if we know the weather threatens rain, transport in the Subaru is preferred. Sydney Subaru Outback the Elder could fit most of the kit. With the addition of the chairs though, things got... excessive tight. We'd started thinking about a small trailer, or a roof rack (and in fact, used the roof rack on several occasions with good weather). Sydney Subaru Outback the Younger is as I've mentioned a bit longer, wider, and higher than Sydney Elder. We will still, likely, get to a point that a small trailer is going to be needed.
Here's the Show Tetris into Forrest Nissan after Micanopy:

Nissan Load-up )

Herself remarked when I got home and we started unloading on Monday Morning (left it all under the tarp Sunday night, home safe and protected from wind and other weather, besides, good forecast) that it is all primarily one layer. What's on top of the totes are the two collapsible hand trucks. The directors chairs went onto the middle column of totes before folding over the tarp.

That middle column of totes are 32 Litre Really Useful Boxes® (Web site Really Useful Boxes Inc. Really Useful Boxes) and we're using more and more of them. They are tough, lightweight, weather resistant boxes with a good positive lid seal. The one on the end holds the Art Walls, because I learned after pulling the pavilion tote out to prep for the fall season that over the summer, palmetto bugs got into the blue tote. Needed to clean the Art Walls of (ahem) nasty dirt. The matted work is in the other two.

The long blue tote across the back on the left of the truck is the pavilion tote. In front of that is another tote, don't recall the company, holds framed artwork up to 11x14 frames (so 8x10 prints, or smaller). The corrugated boxes behind the cab hold the larger framed pieces. The pavilion shelter itself is in the long black bag to the right. Weight bags behind each wheel well. The grey roll in front of the matted totes are two foam shop floor pads. They make being on pavement in the booth (a common situation) easier on the feet and legs.

Because we did get some rain, overnight Saturday to Sunday for the Gainesville Downtown Art Festival, I drove Sydney Subaru Outback in on Sunday. I'd taken everything into town on Saturday Morning for setup. Part of the Festival is set up in City Hall parking lot, and City Hall didn't want to close for business on Friday for vendors to set up. Well, actually, since five to six city blocks hosted all the vendors for the Festival, that would tie up traffic pretty much. Plus, the Friday Night Kickoff included a live band in the Bo Didley Plaza. At any rate, Setup took place Saturday morning and I took it all in the Nissan pickup.
So coming home with the kit, the concern was would it all fit. We thought it would, but Herself did text and ask should she come help. I felt confident and told her no. The first time Tetris game went pretty well, considering loading after dark albeit with street light illumination. And...

Subaru Load-up, Rear )

It did, as you can see, all fit in. The corrugated boxes sat behind the front seats.

Subaru Load-up, Driver Rear )

The Weather Walls up to this time we packed into a pocket on the EZ-Up pavilion bag. However, I didn't pack them this time, being concerned they still felt damp from the previous night rain.

Subaru Load-up, Passenger Rear )

They now live in another of those Really Useful Boxes. It may ad to the layering, we shall see. The pocket on the big bag will still be used, for other items which the pavilion will need periodically. The kit came with two short metal tubes which support a sun shade we sometimes put across the front, and we are building supports for the back wall to stretch it out during the day as another shade source for the 'back room' of the booth when we can.

There is always something going on. I expect the Studio 318 Booth itself may be considered a Work In Progress. There's more to discuss, even, since one of the visitors to the booth on Sunday is half of a young couple looking to start showing their own photographic artwork. This led to some thinking and recollection about those who helped us as we started gearing up. There are folk out there who proved not too forthcoming with us. Others proved very helpful. I remember them with fondness, and did my best to answer the questions asked. So another State of the Artist is going to look at the process of setting up ones business as an artist showing at weekend art festivals.

Tonight, though, it's time for beer. G'night.
madshutterbug: (c)2009 by Myself (Houdini&I)
Well, with a Long Time No Post, things what happened.

Pursuant to the subject above, on Friday past I bid adieu to Mr. Gallbladder. Our relationship never proved an unpleasant one, nothing stony about the course nor such. However a few months back I received a letter from my urologist, follow-up on last October appointment to check on kidney stones. The ultrasound done then (stones light up brightly on US, being hard and all) showed no stones to the urologist and he simply wanted me to know the radiologist agreed. Except, the radiologist did see a polyp in Mr. Gallbladder. Polyps being pesky things that may be affiliated with cancers, a visit to a general surgeon seemed in order and Ta Ta Mr. Gallbladder.

Doing well, little pain, rather more ache, and adjusting diet in steps. Should be back to work at Hospital some time next week. Meanwhile, on some lifting restrictions until the four laparoscopic wounds heal completely.

Shortly before the Day of Separation, faithful old Sydney Subaru Outback started overheating. While I carry extra fluids on board (both coolant and oil, the flat opposed 'box' engine Subaru uses tends to use oil rather more noticeably than more conventional engines) he still showed signs of continuing to overheat. Off to the Growly Beast Doctor (our mechanic) who confirmed the head gasket is compromised. Were Sydney a younger bloke of an auto I'd consider more extensive work to keep him running. At 326 K km plus (204 K plus miles) not so much. So we shall be shopping for a replacement and are discussing exactly what to do here.

In between this and weekly Farmers Markets where our local produce of meats, goats milk, goats milk cheese, goats milk fudge (Oh My) and fresh produce as the garden yields is selling fairly well. That is become a tad more 'interesting' for the next few weeks with my lifting restrictions, both on loading Forrest Nissan Pickup and setting up. We've managed with help from our dairy goat provider friend and partner, but both parthers in the 'ship are looking at other commitments on the next couple of weekends. Busy could be good, but truly we'd considered (before knowing exactly when the surgery would be) that I'd be continuing the Markets.

Ah well. Such is life.

Art projects are moving slowly, though some progress is being made. I am generating a reference library of paper types as I 're-learn' printing, and getting ready to expand the types I shall reference. More on that as it develops (pun intended). A few prints sold over the past quarter, nice bit of extra. Two Autumn shows to which I applied for entry (three should be, been looking for the paperwork on that site hasn't shown yet) and heard back from one. Tried getting into this one last year, didn't make the jury. Did this year, now need to cough up the booth fee, deadline in July. Should be able to do that next week. The other I am expecting to hear from nearer the end of June. Once I've paid the booth fee for the former I'll formally announce the venue, ditto for the latter.

Pieces in progress are primarily composite work, science fiction themed. Did some research to verify and it is apparently the case, images available from NASA are in the public domain (since they are funded by tax moneys). NASA requests only acknowledgement that they are indeed NASA images and the mission upon which they obtained the source (so, Hubble Telescope, Cassini Probe for examples). Provides a wonderful source for astronomical imagery.

Houdini BorderCollieBro is still hanging with us, showing some signs of his soon to be 12 years. During the past winter (unusually cold for this part of Baja Jorja) he preferred to be indoors at night. Through the Spring and still, now into summer, he wanted to be outside at night. So be it, despite his occasional wandering ways he doesn't go walkabout at night (that I know of). Since we provide a means to get back into the house, when teh Sky Grumblers (thunderstorms) show, he hies himself back in and hides beside me.

Doesn't seem to faze the fox that's started visiting, unfortunately, and snagging some of the younger Dirty Yardbird chooks. We've escalated the projects of clearing brush and making more Chicken Tillers since Fox hasn't bothered any of the birds in the tillers, mostly only the group that insists on roosting in trees and being total Free Range Spirits. Woe betide Fox, though, should Herself spot him/her and she is setting an alarm at random intervals to go make night time rounds. With her Ithica. Which, if she uses it I expect to find Houdini hiding beside me shortly after.

Enough for now. Getting to be time for Evening Rounds, which include feeding two kids.
madshutterbug: (c) 2011 by Myself: Zone VI 8x10 view camera (View Camera)
Been thinking I need to get one of these done for a while, and I keep running into things which … seem more important. Work on the Ranch. Work at Hospital. Something else comes along. And no writing about the State of the Artist.

This is both good and frustrating. Good, because things are being accomplished. There is a goodly amount of cleanup happening around the Ranch. We are changing up on some of the regular things we do, getting things ready to go to (we hope) better manage this small corner of the Universe we call home. And some of that is cleanup, literally, gathering up a huge quantity of empty feed bags from delivery for example, and preparing to move that along to, well, The Dump. The paper bags, those we recycle and repurpose pretty much overall. However, at least half our feed comes in white plastic-y woven type bags, and those aren't quite as recyclable. We'd like to, haven't found a manner for it yet. So they've accumulated, and they need to go away. Cleanup time.

Chicken tillers, and if you don't know what those are Google is your friend, we use them a lot. Brief definition, an open wire fabric enclosure, fairly small and easily portable. Ours are made to hold from three to a half dozen or so hens and a rooster. Every few days to a week or so, we then move them along by their length or width onto fresh ground. Meanwhile, the birds withing stir up the ground as they look for more food (they do get fed by us as well) and woe betide any flying or crawling insect that wanders within (remember, open wire fabric, eh). Chickens are omnivores, and watching them hunt reminds us of the velociraptors, at least as depicted in the Jurassic Park movies. We've been making and adding some of these to the Ranch, since our egg sales at Farmers Markets are one of our most popular products. This includes refurbishing a couple which friends who were keeping urban chickens opted out of that pastime and gave us their back yard enclosures.

Hospital... hm. Well. 32 years and counting. Enough said.

As for Art, well off and on I've been working on a few different projects, and perhaps struggling a tad in keeping organised in both that and in maintaining inventory for the Studio 318 art festival booth. Plus, we just concluded the 2013-14 Weekend Festival Season with the Windsor Zucchini Festival (insert link as found). The last four festivals we've done then (Micanopy in October, Blue Oven Kitchens in November, GFAA Winter Fine Arts at Tioga in March, and now the Zucchini) have been, well, not total washes. We've sold art, though we've not made expenses. As a business, this isn't great, however it does all go onto the books and helps. That we've sold art at all tells me the overall economy, and peoples feelings about it, is doing well enough. That we've not made expenses tells me people are still feeling somewhat conservative about 'fun money' and how much they've got.

Staying organised with inventory is part of conducting a business in selling photographic art (or any art, really). It tells the business owner how much money is tied up in inventory (the goal is something like, oh, 'Just Enough' to be able to satisfy a demand quickly but not so much as to be sitting there idle), and which items sell the most frequently. I count something as In Inventory when I've finished matting and mounting it, with a label and then a transparent sleeve to protect it from most of the elements. Then it is a salable item, I can put a price on it, so it's in inventory.

I don't count the items which are printed, but waiting for me to mount, mat, label and sleeve. On the one hand, such prints are money expended and waiting to be recovered. On the other hand, they aren't salable in that status. And I'm doing fairly well in keeping those down to a minimum. It helps, getting better with Mr. Printy (tm Ursula Vernon, thx). This allows me to print up to 8x10 or 8x11 ish sized items, including prints and art greeting cards, here and not at the printing lab I use for large items. Saves me a bit of money though do not ever think that printing those bits of art you may be thinking about buying is free to the artist. Costs time and materials, eh. Simply, smaller items able to do close to home saves production costs.

There are less than a half-dozen really big prints waiting for mats, mounts, frames or sleeves. And I've sold one recently, which is nice. I've not added large matted prints to inventory quite yet; transport requires something large enough to do such safely. The largest pieces we routinely take to Festival shows are mat outside sizes in the range of 11x14 to 11x 17 or so. There are a couple dozen smaller prints (print sizes up to 8x10 or 8x12 ish) waiting to be matted sleeved. Not too bad, and one of the things the Summer Hiatus from outdoor festivals here in North Central Baja Jorja is good to accomplish. I can and do this work indoors, in air conditioning.

We had big hopes for the sale of Art Greeting Cards and did OK around the holidays, but not great. This could be related to display/marketing. That's something to work on during the Summer Hiatus as well.

And this fellow, behind the cut because I still think about bandwidth (viewing on smartphones or tablets that may not be connected to wireless burns the data plans, eh), this fellow is who helped keep the Zucchini Festival from being a total wash. Anecdotal response on my part says he is one of our most frequent sales, but my current inventory system isn't keeping really good track of sales so pulling that out takes a bit of time. Time I didn't spend yesterday evening after striking setup on site, getting home, unloading Forrest Nissan Pickup and helping with some of the Evening Rounds before cleanup and dinner. So getting the bloody inventory into a good, functional database is also on the agenda for the Summer Hiatus. Artist as Businessperson. Yah, that's one of my favourite things to do.

Still, yes, one of our more popular based on sales items:

Peek-a-Boo, image is a link, feel free to follow for larger viewing pleasure )

And, because it't that day, Happy Mothers Day to all who are, and to those who are not by choice or otherwise, Happy To You Too Day. Personally, I must admit it's been a while since I thought much about my own mother, being that it's been nigh on 18 years since she shuffled off this mortal coil. Not forgotten, not often in my thoughts. Recently, though, yes. Mom, thank you for all you did, when you did it, and for being you.
madshutterbug: (c)2009 by Myself (Houdini&I)
Bit rainy over the weekend, then a couple days of sun to help us dry out. After the hard freeze nights last week, we warmed up and in fact parts of a couple days felt rather warm indeed. Amazing how quickly one becomes accustomed to extremes, such that more normal temperatures for the time of year feel hot. We are expecting more rain this evening, including thunderstorms again. Yes, odd weather. Odd indeed. And then, in a couple more days our overnight temps will hit freezing again, though not as low and potentially not as long as the hard freeze.

Still, we shall cover Herself' garden again, and most of the Dirty Yard Birds still have their windbreaks in place.

On a photography front, visited with some friends yesterday just up the road a bit. Herself met with several people there for a SCA related group on historical styles and techniques in embroidery. While she did that I visited with my blacksmith friend S, and silently grumped at myself at one point for not bringing one of the cameras. Other than the iPhone that is. Used that to photograph the exhaust stack of one of S' gas-fired forges while he and another acquaintance worked on learning how to braze a thread onto an axle to make the screw and nut for a post vise.

For them it is much about the journey; acquaintance is making the post vice for herself. There are such out there to be had, if one shops around in appropriate places. However, she's decided to make her own. Cool.

I photographed the flames coming out the exhaust stack. This forge sounds like a jet engine when operating, even if not quite as loud. The exhaust is a rectangular flue... S made the device himself. One of the things blacksmiths might do, don't you know. I grabbed a couple dozen photos with the iPhone, which is a respectable point and shoot camera (particularly if one knows some tricks. Guess what, eh!) and provided at least 'sketchbook' material. I will be setting up on another occasion with a somewhat more versatile camera. Photographs of flames, could be quite useful to someone building a larger image from pieces and parts, don't you know.

That's about it for now. Short update, yes. Continuing to wait on jury results for several shows, don't know yet, no I'm not chewing fingernails thank you. Partly that's because I keep them trimmed rather short for Hospital, eh. Not much to chew on anyway.
madshutterbug: (C) 2005 S Grossman (Stalking_Elusive_Photograph)
From the 2013 January Journal, which I am using to start the 2014 January Journal here at the Ranch (not on-line journal, this is a local file):

And I slept through it, well more or less. Kept Houdini inside yesterday evening, and watched a bit more tube with Herself than usual. Stayed home rather than heading off even to neighbors, not sure if that's good for the quiet or not so good for the relationships. Whatever. Off to bed 22:00-ish and read a little bit with H there on the bed. He lay across it rather than along it, making it hard for me to get in under the covers. Until the popping noises started, anyway.

Not very different this time around, other than no tube watching, and no Squrrl. Houdini did join me in bed when I went, near enough to normal weekly time. Snuggled in tight until some when after midnight and the midnight fireworks sounds, then felt relaxed enough to move. I don't know when, I slept through that part. I know he stayed by my side (tightly) until after midnight though, woke a few times from light sleep.

It is raining this morning, not hard yet persistent and as forecast. Likely to be a slower day. We shall see. Things to do none the less. Start cleaning the house, perhaps in the office by the one bookshelf where I want to mount a desk for Herself. Perhaps elsewhere. In fact, while I wrote most of this paragraph this morning, it is still raining this evening as I post this.

So. The Overview.

Set a goal of eight weekend or other type art shows to place work into, completed 10. This means I did well on that goal, and now as part of the overview it becomes time to re-think the business of art planning. Instead of getting into X number of shows, I need to start thinking I should bring in X number of dollars.

Started generating Art Greeting Cards. Printed up 20 leading into December, and sold eight which is 40% of what I printed. Not bad, more Art Greeting Cards to come.

Printing up those Art Greeting Cards moved along the process of re-learning photographic printing. I've now also got sample papers from a paper company, and will start to print on those. They are for a reference notebook, rather than distribution. As in, this is what these photos look like printed on this paper.

Photography sales at the art show/weekend festivals didn't do too poorly. We broke even or made a bit at four of the 10 shows, made sales at two more so over 50% of the shows we sold something. This combined with a couple of sales to people who saw my images elsewhere (not exactly on the Internet, not exactly not on the Internet... make sense? No? Don't worry about it.) and, well, no, we didn't break even as an Artist. However, we did make a good chunk of sales.

Sold a passel of goats going from November to December, with a couple more sales potentially coming up. And, for the local meat eaters, some of those sales will be to the freezer, so the meat will be going to the Farmers Markets we attend for the Ranch.

Because. Because I've been threatening this for ages. Purchased brewing supplies yesterday, last purchase of 2013, to start a batch of an India Pale Ale.

Need to clean house a bit first thought. Plus, the new computer is here, and I want to set up her spot before setting up the new one in my spot. There are a few other things needed for a new PC setup, specifically a new UPS and perhaps a new or simply re-mount a current surge protector. I plan to continue a certain scheme, double surge protect by plugging surge protector into the powered outlet on the UPS, and then electronics into the second surge protector. One for each PC then (a current one will suffice for one). We could also use a new UPS or better surge protection for the entertainment center, to re-route how it is being powered back behind it on the wall.

I think that's the summary... though I know I missed things too.

Took the opportunity during a lull in the rain this morning to go out. Herself fed the bottle kids, I fed the Horses and Hogs which of course includes Ms. Truffles Bigpig. So that at least is accomplished to keep critters happier in the nasty weather.

Following that, started bits and pieces of this and that. Folded laundry, put most away a few pieces to go. Emptied trash bin in office, and in bathroom, those waiting for another break in the rain to take outside. Starting to sort through print samples already done for the reference book.

And... I need a better image cataloging bit of software. Yes, I need one. Tracking down the images to note the source on test prints... aggravating. A wee bit. Sorted through it though. There is a lot more to do prepping the database catalog, at least. And older images, scanned from film, they leave a bit of leeway as well, since many times I'm not going to be positive of the dates. However, the file naming system works well; it's keeping a catalog of where the image is located for easy work (either development or printing).

My most recent experiment is with Picassa, and while I liked it somewhat I don't like that when I re-arranged external hard drives, it lost data. This might mean I can't use the USB drives as I hoped, might only mean I can't disconnect them.

So. Not bored. Definitely not bored. But it is about time to go eat dinner this first evening of the arbitrarily defined New Year.

Oh. And (if this works, been some issues with Flickr image posting recently) Sydney Subaru Outback turned 200,000 miles recently:

Test The First, current Flickr Code )

Happy 2014, everyone.
madshutterbug: (c)2009 by Myself (Houdini&I)
I got to sleep in. Waking up is a usual thing throughout the night, as is going back to sleep. Getting to sleep in is not. Last wake up point I remember before the one I got out of bed for was around 04:30-ish, and Herself got up then. I remember hearing the coffee grinder. Then back to sleep.

It's always nice when the coffee is ready when I get up.

So I got up a bit before seven then, took Houdini out for his constitutionals after I did mine and extremely frisky he proved to be. Really quite like, Hey, Boss, the little loud box didn't yell at you to wake up, and so it's a BossStaysHomeDay! It's supposed to be a BossGoesAwayDay but it isn't. Yea! Now, friskiness could be associated with local temperatures, just a shade above freezing and with the breeze out there, perceptually at freezing. However, I'm inclined to think he felt happy for an unexpected BossStaysHomeDay.

I am now am sipping coffee. The roosters are sounding off. Been sounding off for a few hours, pretty much continuously. They sounded off when I heard Herself about earlier. Sounded off in my sleep. Sounded off while Houdini made his rounds. Curiously enough to me, this morning many of them are putting four beats into their crows, even those who normally only put in three beats.

Mer Ree Christ Mas.

There is a basket of glowing balls in the Family Room that wasn't there last night. It is very pretty in the still rather dark room.

Merry Christmas.

I am not sure what the holiday is or means to me anymore. This morning, though, I am glad to discover it does still mean something after all.

Stopped on the way home from Hospital yesterday, a time with somewhat cynical thoughts that suit my attitudes from the previous few weeks. More 'Scrooge' this year than have been for a while. Cynical thoughts but not all of them. First thought leaving hospital regarded how empty Archer Road appeared, there by campus. Road remained fairly clear until I got near the light for the turn to Williston Road.

I'd heard sirens, and one emergency vehicle did pass me while walking out to the car; I found that one and more at this intersection. Despite how light traffic seemed, a couple vehicles managed to mangle each other fairly significantly there. Detoured around the intersection on my way to Butler Plaza.

Going to Butler Plaza for a few items. Found a lot more traffic here, and expected to do so as well. Stopped in at Office Max, picked up another Really Useful Box (this one, first usage actually bring things home, now to be converted over to holding music CD's on the printer shelf to facilitate next today chore), some document sleeves for a notebook binder so I can start keeping an image printing reference based on paper types (re-learning printing, will do so with paper on hand and more papers coming) and a printer for Herself.

Really for both of us. This one replaces the multipurpose one she bought years ago, which is now not working so well (either that or she brought it home from Deltona in the days after Mother Mary died, either way, lots of use out of it, not working so well any more). Folks know the type: printer, scanner, copy machine, fax machine. This one is both wired and wireless network capable, so we plan to use it that way. Also, this one will become the 'text' printer, so printing labels and letters and forms and such. This leaves the Epson Artisan 50 to be exclusively art related printing, which will help on figuring production costs.

Got out and fed everyone for the morning. Easy day on chores, came back into the house for a bit and moved around those printers as needed. Back out, watered birds and provided Hose time for Houdini. Who then also received his Christmas Bath. Once we did that, back inside and installed the new printer. The Epson Artisan 50 I call Mr. Printy, and his purpose is the art prints. I call the new printer Mr. Printshop because that one will take care of the majority of other printing jobs, at least until the HP Laserjet can be cleaned and put back into service.

Headed out late to try to make a last-minute purchase of an ingredient for tonight's dinner. Not disappointed to miss the few stores open here in Rural North Central Baja Jorja, even though literally by about five minutes. Dropped off a small present and card with our friends and partners in the Ranch business, D & B. B had what we needed and gave that to Herself. Then we headed home (about sunset time) and while Herself started working on dinner for us, Houdini and I provided dinner for the Evening Critters, Cows, Horses and Ms. Truffles Hog.

Back inside now; been a good day. Been a good year (granted, still a week to go as we measure these things). The Studio expanded on the number of shows this year, achieving the goal for Eight and adding two others. Ten shows. Next year, perhaps it is time to change the measured goal from number of shows to sales made. We shall see. The gift Art Cards are likely to do well enough, and with Mr. Printy up and running and my own skills at printing improving, the largest amount of 'inventory' is easily replaceable. So 8x10 and smaller are now being printed here at home. Time to replace stock sold, and expand a bit for the matted works, and kick up the inventory on the Gift Art Cards.

I've no problem with wishing a general Happy Holidays. This time of year, there are a number of them packed in regardless of anyone’s faith or outlook. Happy Holidays, as a greeting, actually dates back to my days as a youth; it isn't anything new. I don't totally understand then the seeming reluctance, the apparent concern about being correct to wish Happy Holidays.

Kwanza is celebrated about this time of year, as is Chanukah. New Years for the Gregorian calendar (a world-wide standard, though not exclusive) is coming in seven days. These are the holidays of this season, other than Christmas. Many also celebrate Yule. Or commemorate the Solstice. So. Happy Holidays works.

So does this sentiment, which is tied somewhat to the Christian celebration:
Peace on Earth, and Goodwill to all Mankind.
madshutterbug: (c) 2011 by Myself: Zone VI 8x10 view camera (View Camera)
With a couple weeks going by and no blog posting, I am feeling like a Bad Madshutterbug. On the one hand, it is a goal to do at least once a week posting on the State of the Artist. Sometimes with visual examples, sometimes without, and still discussing art sorts of things. Betimes this works fine, other times not so much. While not back-breaking the past couple weeks proved to be rather busy. Interruptions might be the art projects themselves, or might be other bits and pieces of life not so much art related. Like, yanno, laundry. And such. Priorities shift about some.

Still and all, recent project(s) which ran concurrently are A) Re-learn printing my own work and B) Generate Art Greeting Cards. Pursuing part A I churned through a fair portion of my paper supply, both the less expensive over the counter papers (I consider these Draft Papers, or Draft Cards, considering my age pun intended) and the more expensive brand-name papers matching Mr. Printy. At the end of this I am able to say good progress is made towards achieving Part A, and for the past weekend Last Show Of The Year I did generate some salable Art Greeting Cards.

Not a lot. A score, as in 'Four score and seven years ago' though I only made it up to one score or 20 cards. Four sold at the Winter Gift Fair, which pretty much paid for the paper used so far to learn and generate product. Herself currently took the last 16 of them over to the Tioga Farmers Market where they will be offered for sale this evening, and any left over will be offered for sale this coming Saturday at the Haile Farmers Market in our last Holidays Craftiness Gift Sales.

Meanwhile, back at the Studio this means I am now able to offer any of my gentle readers that may be interested the option of purchasing Art Cards. The goal here in general is to offer some of the art in a price range which won't seem to break anyones bank. Or as someone said, something in the product line on the order of a burger and fries purchase price. Follow the link to the image which will appear shortly, over to my Flickr place, and pretty much most of the pictures there are available if one asks. Given a bit of time, I'll be generating a catalog of stock readily available (or easily printed and therefor readily available) as well, so you'd be telling me which photos might be popular as cards by doing so.

Peecture Behind the Cut... Portrait of a Mother and Daughter )

Right now I'm printing 'Large' cards. These are 14cm by 21.5cm (5.5x8.5 inches), called 'half-fold' as near as I've learned. The plan is to also print 'quarter-fold' (10.8cm x 14cm or 4.25x5.5 inches) as well as some other sizes. Right now prices are one Large card for $5 US (about a 5x7 print), or 3 for $10. I'll need to figure in shipping for anyone who isn't local, that's sort of still on the to-do list. I am able to accept PayPal, still working on other options. Drop me a note at madshutterbug at gmail dot com if you're interested.

Meanwhile, back at The Ranch one of those distractions mentioned above involves the Goats are Kidding. We are up around 30 kids so far, with the two newest this afternoon. Not that we're too worried about the extra mouths to feed, because we've also sold goats recently, and are looking at a small stock trailer parked on the Ranch today for an order of some more goats. This batch goes live and on the hoof to someone who is shifting the makeup of an existing herd.

I mention that because there are other goats to be sold, but not … As Is. These goats are about to undergo a Change of Occupation (a few already did this). So all in all while one end of the Bell Curve is increasing the other is decreasing so it's remaining rather balanced.

Herself's garden is doing well; it's cold crops now, things which cope well with chilly weather. Chilly? In North Central Baja Jorja? Yes. I've mentioned it before. We do get freezing weather here. Not long, nowhere near the sort that one sees further north of us, yet freezing. Or more often then that, even, Very Cold. Like last night (down to 3 C here) and again tonight (down to 2 C) and for the rest of the week, like that.

The Kittehs of the Apocalypse are telling Houdini he needs to move over in bed, because they want their spots on the Monkey Warmer too.
madshutterbug: (c)2009 by Myself (Houdini&I)
Since I've not dropped in for a couple weeks, felt I ought to and at least provide some hints about what's going on.

November I did not receive a jury invitation to the Gainesville Downtown Winter Art Fair. So it goes. This does provide time to work on other projects, since there aren't any other art fairs or shows I'm involved in for November. Next one, in fact, is December 15, afternoon, the Blue Oven Kitchens Winter Gift Fair. More later, but put that on your calendar.

Meanwhile, been working on the whole concept of creating greeting cards. Not a lot of work, still in the draft stage here. Two drafts done, in fact, and waiting for Herself to return from Tioga Farmers Market to review them for feedback. One very definitely needs some work, either that or it's time to replace ink in Mr. Printy. Mind you, it is getting close to time to replace ink.

There are two concepts for the greeting cards. One, a standard sheet of print paper (for the digital printer, that means 8.5x11 US size, bit larger than A4), folded in half. Two, not quite that large, and single card, not folded. Both need envelopes for mailing. There is also the possibility of doing Post Cards, using 4x6 print paper. Will contemplate that in a bit.

There are still a lot of prints in the To Be Matted portfolio. Need to get cracking on that as well, so that the overall inventory (particularly of Herself prints) is ready for the Winter Gift Fair. Want to get a better handle on where I am with that as well. I don't count prints as 'in inventory' until I've at least matted and sleeved them. However, there is an inventory of prints waiting to be matted and sleeved... I am simply not sure how many. Sort of don't want to know, as that could prove somewhat overwhelming. However, need to know.

Applications are in for the first four months of next year; one Con to which I shall mail pieces for display, two themed gallery shows (Orlando and Tampa) for February and March, the GFAA Winter Art Fair at Tioga and again the Santa Fe Spring Arts Festival in April. Three of those are juried, and I'm waiting to hear on the juries. I'm also slowly, steadily working on pieces which will be for the two gallery shows. I've pieces printed and done to cover the first (if not quite yet matted and framed), need to finish the pieces for the second.

Back at the Ranch, we've been busy with weekend Farmers Markets, and doing OK on that. Also working steadily if slowly on a few other Ranch projects, chicken tillers for the Dirty Yard Birds (a means to provide them with limited ranging, somewhat free in the sense that insects and whatever can get in... and believe me, with chickens they may well not get out) that move around in the Garden zone so they can scratch and turn the surface in areas, leave their droppings to fertilise, and yet not get at current growing crops.

Crops. Yes. Herself has an area fenced off from the Free Ranger Dirty Yard Birds, and it is doing well. Keeping our attention on it. We are expecting a possible frosty night in a couple days (would be if not the first this season, then the second and I'm not sure we actually did freeze the previous one, though). Not hard, and she's put in cold-hardy crop for the winter so we should be OK. I follow her lead on this; my role in the garden is Heavy Labour, not Growing Things. Plants and I get along very well if one considers Very Well as I eat them, eh.

Thus it is, life goes on.
madshutterbug: (c) 2011 by Myself: Zone VI 8x10 view camera (View Camera)
I did attend this event some time in the past, though I don't remember exactly when. Long enough ago that the Eagles were a featured entertainment group, being relatively local back then. Over 25 years ago, though, on that I'm rather sure. I recall it being big then, and it's not gotten smaller. Don't know any attendance numbers, can tell you the crowd started early (before 'Opening Time' both days) if small, and then gradually escalated in size. There would be gaps in the crowd, and other times so full that it made it difficult to see the opposite side of the road. The occasional gap in the crowd happened, often when the live entertainment happened on either or both the two stages set up.

Our booth was quite near one of those two stages, situated such that the speakers pointed away from our booth. So I could hear the entertainment and not be overpowered by the sound. If I sat in the chair I kept just out the back side of the booth (the Red Chair, nominally Herself's Chair) I could also watch some of it. All of it proved good, some quite good.

Saturday morning seems like the largest number of people who actually came in to look at photos on that day, with the sales in late morning shortly before noon. Sunday somewhat the opposite, the early morning crowd wasn't interested in photography and the single sale for Sunday in the afternoon.

Business wise, we made half our booth fee, so financially not a total wash and yet a bit of a write-off. Still, I'll apply for this festival again next year. The folks in Micanopy come together as a community to pull this off, and it is a community fund-raiser to help out a number of local non-profit concerns. This includes a local animal hospital (large and small vet), several youth organisations (yes, some affiliated with community churches, and I still support that even if not my belief structure), and more.

It's obvious from the get-go they plan on the huge crowd. Vendors are brought in by a certain route for check-in and setup, the traffic flow is designated as one-way for vehicles during the days of setup and festival. Vendors are told, pull up to your space, unload, then go park before setup. This is enforced; vendors who do not comply are not invited back. Vehicles are not allowed on the street by an hour before show time, and vendor parking is provided (and fairly secure) within easy walking distance of ones booths. They colour-code the areas for setup and for parking. So there isn't a lot of reason not to comply.

They close off certain roads during the show, designate areas for public parking including handicapped areas close by. Individuals may open their yards for public parking if they so choose and may charge for that, others do not or churches put up signs specifying parking for say their church so that they can get their congregation in on Sunday morning. One lot, quite close to the Festival road, put up a sign asking for $50(US) to park. I don't know how many people paid them that amount, as once the show opened, I got not very far from the booth since I worked it solo this year (Herself took care of the Ranch, delivered goat milk to regular customers, and continued planting Farmer Market crop in her garden). Rather the usual answer to the question 'How much of the Festival did you see?' 'Oh, about 9 square metres (*100 square feet*).'

The Booth Photo )

Cut just because, it's not a huge image. I do a booth photo on all of these types of events for several reasons. Documenting each setup to compare with recollection or notes on crowd/flow, because many of these festivals that are juried want a photo of the booth setup to show a professional appearance, and just for myself.

Overall I liked this setup. You can see if you look close there is a steep bit of slope at the front of the booth; we were set up in the parking lane for this part of the road and it also serves for rain run-off drainage. Booth neighbors on either side used tables, and brought blocks with them to help level those tables. I thought about it, and likely will add such to the Physical Plant tote crate for future. This is the first time I've dealt with this much slope, nearly all the sites for anything else proved fairly level or not so much sloped to need major adjustment.

I am also planning to make signage to include in the 'Office Box', one for each side, with notices to 'Watch Your Step: Uneven Ground' for future use, because if it happens once, it will happen again. Same reason I'm thinking about adding some blocks that I've got (they live in Studio as that's where I tend to use them).

So, yes. Enjoyed myself. Willing to repeat at least once.
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)
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)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)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.


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)

The day after the new tractor arrived, a couple things happened. More than a couple, however not many more, and one of the things affected a Change of Plans as far as things to do and get done is concerned.

First of all, we name our motor vehicles here on KP Ranch (in case you've not noticed my referencing Sydney Subaru Outback or Forrest Nissan Pickup or Harrison Ford 8N...) and while I made morning coffee the old hind-mind percolated up the name for our new compact tractor (that being the more industry accurate description of what Herself calls an estate tractor). Pretty obvious, actually, as was Harrison's name. New tractor is LittleJon Deere.

Second of all, while we kept the Border Collie Bros occupied with watering the Dirty Yard Birds and incidental Water Sports, the Tree Guys working on next door neighbor's north paddock … Right. Next door neighbor Ms. P is clearing some of the trees on her north paddock (right next door to us) so as to both provide more light for grass and grazing for her cows, and to re-direct the right of way that Cater-Corner Neighbor is granted across her paddock to access their property. Neighbor wants to move that right of way track closer to the fence line. Long story, involves the Cater-Corner Neighbor as well. Anyway, she's hired the Tree Guys to do this.
And they proceeded to drop a big old laurel oak across our fenceline in Goat Paddock.

Herself and I got part way walking up there, saw the mess, and said pretty much simultaneously to each other: We need the tractor/I'm getting the tractor.

And we proceeded to pull branches away from the fenceline which the Tree Guys trimmed off that old laurel oak. Some fairly good sized (20 cm or so diameter where cut, several metres long). Took a few hours, and we determined that none of the fence posts were broken, just wire pushed down. Reset the wire, goats enjoyed the leaves off the branches (Oak Leaves! Goat Candy!). Wrapping that up, Herself asked me if we should take some of the lighter stuff over to the bucklings in their pen.


So she walked to one of the bunches of branches and started pulling out some rather small ones. Meanwhile, I looked at that, then drove LittleJon over to one of the smaller piles of branches, which were also much smaller (5 – 10 cm or so diameter), bundled them with the work rope I'd been using to the front-end loader, lifted them, and headed off toward the Buckling Pen.
Herself looked up as I got closer, and waved her arms at me palms up, sort of, What?

Well, you did say bring some of the lighter stuff for the Bucklings, didn't you?

Yes. Quite delightful, owning a functioning tractor again. And that front-end loader brings a whole new definition of 'lighter stuff' to the game, as well.

However, we also lead into...

Saturday: Notes To Self About New Tractor

Always remember to turn the ignition switch to Off on Littlejon Deere. On Thursday, when I got off the saddle without putting the transmission into neutral the safety cut-off turned the engine off. Apparently I neglected to come back to turn the switch off (I think I planned on re-starting however that didn't happen). Saw the instrument lights on on Friday morning on my way out, turned switch off then. Littlejon would not start yesterday. Low battery. Will need to get the battery out to charge it up; do-able, a bit of work. Getting jumper cable clips on, not so much easy, so couldn't get a jump-start.

Herself kindly blamed the local raccoons for playing with the key, which is on a fishing lure fob. So Rocky Raccoon turned the ignition on, but couldn't get the beast started (still in gear, eh), got bored and left. Did run the battery down though.

Also, I think one portion of the three-point category one hitch is missing, the center bar (by whatever name). May not be necessary for the auger attachment, as that may constitute the center bar. Will need to take a closer look. If it is totally missing, will need to replace it.

Front end loader will accept alternate attachments. Three different sized buckets, and two pallet tine accessories will fit this front end loader. Not sure we need the other buckets, however a pallet tine set could be very useful.

Sunday, More Notes to Self About New Tractor

Took a good hard look at the post hole tool on Saturday afternoon. Herself was off to an SCA event. I was supposed to be cutting wire fabric for chicken tillers. After watering and feeding everyone, the Bros and I took a hard look at the post hole tool.

The pivot connection point, that end is bent slightly. The guard around the PTO connection at the gearbox, majorly bent out of shape. The u-joint for that end of the PTO shaft is broken off, in that guard, and won't turn completely around. The PTO shaft itself is both bent and torqued. So is the 15 cm (six inch) auger. Called the fellow we purchased it from, asked him if he'd used any of the attachments (worked into the call as a friendly question; mostly made it a 'Thank You' kind of call).

No, he hadn't. Mentioned to him that the large auger is a 30 cm (12 inch) auger. He said he hadn't ever measured it, just assumed it was a nine inch. We're all good on this as is, mind you, so we've got this big bit which, well.

There is a warning label on the bar of the tool itself, "designed for up to 9” auger bits". So that auger is too big, and I won't use it. The model number is on there somewhere, make a note, do some shopping for a replacement. I figure the original owner got the smaller bit tied up in some limerock, easy to do hereabouts, bound up the bit and that torqued off the drive shaft, braking the u-joint and battering the shield about.

Took the shaft over to S NotOnLJ's shop. He's going to work on it tomorrow (which is today, I wrote some of this yesterday). We may get it straightened out, but if it is torqued indeed, the grooves upon which the two portions of the shaft slide... will not line up. Worst case scenario, I need to purchase a replacement PTO shaft. The tongue at the connection end, we can probably straighten that out.

Fairly easy, turns out, to get the front grill off, and a bit easy to get the battery out. Looks like it may be a 'proprietary' battery. It is at least a 'type 51'. More to be learned. Put it on the charger a while. Turned charger off while I went to Steve's. Still off. Probably leave it off overnight, start charging again tomorrow morning.


Herself got home a bit earlier than I expected, though possibly not as I didn't start filling the tub until a touch after 21:00. She enjoyed a good visit and accomplished her business. Nor did she express much upset on the news about the tractor implements and not getting started on chicken tillers. Like me, she looks at the larger auger bit as either a re-sell item or see if we get a heavier duty post hole tool for the 8N. I think though we will wind up selling it. S e-mailed me with the news that he got the broken portion of the u-joint off, and on further inspection yes, that drive shaft is toast. It may be only half the shaft, we'll see. I've got a few lines on replacement PTO drive shafts, far far less expensive than the whole tool attachment.

More Gimp Learning

Reading a tutorial on making a simple watermark in GIMP. Will bookmark in both Safari & Chrome. I'm leaning toward a simpler answer, which is going to be two-part, for my problem of bringing all the 'chop' work I did in Photoshop into Gimp. Use the simple chop, kanji only, not the © year in vertical plus (that one I could edit the year text in Photoshop, can't yet in Gimp). Place name & © year in text also. Mind you, this is probably for on-line versions, not necessarily print versions. Now, just to experiment and learn.

To that end, I've also printed to PDF the web page which is the tutorial for adding a simple watermark in Gimp. Plus a couple others.

But not right now. Cut that wire fabric for Chicken Tillers today, put the battery back into LittleJon, started him up, used him for some other big chores. Like mowing a big swath, taking the last of the cattle feed over to them, things like that. Now it's time for dinner and more beer. Already started on the beer, yashuryoubetcha, eh!

September 2015

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