photographer. artist. author. singer. songwriter. musician. teacher. student. humanitarian. visionary.

Posts tagged “fine art photography

Five Months Later…

I can hardly believe it’s been five months since I’ve been away. Where has the time gone?!

I’d like to say that I’ve been off doing great and honourable things since graduating from college back in May, alas; I’ve merely caught up on 300 crime shows and have picked up a nasty sugar addiction. I’m talking- waxing 3 bags of bubble gum in 4 hours- no kidding. SHAMEFUL.

But let’s not focus on that. 😉

Today is Christmas, and Josh and I are pulling another all-nighter. He’s at his computer station, and I at mine. He’s gaming, and I’m working on editing some pics for my new Etsy shop. I’ve wanted to open an Etsy shop for almost ten years now. At first, I didn’t have enough inventory, and quite frankly, I wasn’t up to the standard of photography that I was utterly pleased with- not enough to sell my work. (But that was 10 years ago.) And then “school happened”. Now, more than 20,000 pics are held hostage on more than 5 disk drives. I could dig through the heap and salvage years of work, or, I could start all over and create a whole new body of work: I’ve chosen to do the latter.

It might seem crazy to want to start all over- especially having spent the last decade developing my  personal style and techniques, but for me, my art does more than mark a time in my life. My pics/images tell stories. (You artists and photogs out there know what I mean.) I want the stories to reflect who I am at that time. I’m not the same person I was even five years ago. So, I want to start over. I feel like I’ve grown as a person and an artist, and so I want my pics to reflect that.

I’ve added a new TAB at the top of my page ^up there^- it’s my ETSY tab. Clicking on the pic there will go directly to my ETSY site where I’m offering my prints for sale. In the past, I wanted to sell prints for the generalized reason of “simply wanting to”. Now it’s a matter of being able to return to school or not. My school is withholding my transcript until I pay down the current balance, which is just under $1,300. I don’t have many options, and so I’ve decided to finally open my ETSY shop so that I can sell my work and pay down my school balance. I’m hoping to be able to do this by May of 2017 (4 months from now). That’s a pretty tall order, and once again, I’m racing against the clock. If I don’t do this now, I’ll have to take another 6 months to do it (which means I’d have to wait until January 2018 to return to school), but I really can’t afford to do that.

Once my transcript is released, I’ll be able to apply to Fort Hays University, where I’ll be working on my Master’s degree in Educational Psychology. A lot is riding on this! So, I have a heck of a motivator to get out and get some fresh shots 3 times per week. I’m aiming to add 300 pics or so to my ETSY collection over the next few months. In short, I’m going to be pretty busy. 😉

I’m looking forward to popping in to everyone’s place and seeing what you all have been up to. Sure have missed everyone and I hope everyone has a WONDERFUL CHRISTMAS! ♥

Etsy Shop: Monochromejunkie

etsy-collage

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Second Etsy shop: Early Perfection

etsy-store

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(Almost) Home Free

PurpleSkyHelios film lens 44-2/back porch

Josh is really sick. I’m feeding him garlic capsules, multivitamins, a nip of a Phenergan, acidophilus, milk thistle and lemon & ginger tea with fresh squeezed lemon. He woke up this morning feeling like crap, burning up with a fever. This is his second bout of sickness in less than a month. Luckily, I haven’t been sick in years; I attribute that to the many herbal supplements I take regularly.

I’m ecstatic because I have all next week off for fall break. Doesn’t make much sense that we get an entire week off for “fall break” with only three weeks left to go. And while I’m at it, it really sucks that most professors decide to make students do twice the work the week before fall break! Yes, double the workload in every class. This is really quite unfair to the student because it renders fall break utterly meaningless as a result. Still, I’m pretty happy that I’m only two assignments away from having an entire week off from school. I can finally clean my house! I pretty much bombed my 15 page research project (final paper) in Research Methods for Experimental Psychology, but by no small miracle, I’m at 92% still (after bombing the paper) which is still an A. (How I pulled that off, I haven’t a clue.) So, if I do well on my PowerPoint presentation, conference poster, research exam and then my final- I can come out of this thing with an A still. I don’t even care about making the Dean’s List any more. I would love to, sure, but things are in their proper places now and my priorities have shifted dramatically. My identity as a student is being squeezed out by the artist in me who is not taking all of this lying down for another minute! I feel alive again. And I’m happy again. 🙂 I’m going to get to do what I want. Take pictures.

I’ve just finished up a 10 part PowerPoint assignment and so I’ve only got my multimedia conference poster to finish along with a research exam and then I’m home free! After fall break, I’ll have my finals and a few odd assignments and I’ll be finished. I really can’t wait to start building an entirely new body of work (photography/art) after the semester’s out! it’s all I think about anymore and it’s most definitely where my heart is. Off to make more tea and get to cracking on my PP conference poster. Ta-ra!

Helios 44-2 film lens/ISO 100/f/2.0

EverWinterMJ


First Snow

Josh is sleeping beside me. Brianna would kill him if she knew he was using her Care Bear shirt to cover his eyes. It’s 5:00 a.m. and I’m not up early- I’m up late. The snow is gently falling and I have an over-sized mug of hot chocolate next to me. Heaven!  I can finally relax after a hectic evening with “the paper”. Instead of my experimental psychology research report being 10 pages long, it was 15. Just as I was tying up some loose ends around 9 (again, it was due by midnight), a transformer blew and half the city lost its electricity.

We scampered out into the truck and hightailed it over to Mickey Dees to scarf up some of their Wifi. After settling down with a couple of hot chocolates, we were unable to connect. An employer clued us in that they hadn’t had internet in a week. Oh boy…

So then, we decided to finish what we could there and pray like mad that by the time we got home, our services would be restored and I could possibly make my deadline. I inducted Josh into my writing club and we got to work. Almost 3 hours later, we finished up the last of it and raced home. I missed my deadline by 6 minutes. My professor had already disabled the link (they don’t play around at IU East!) and so I was able to attach it in a message so that I could at least show her that I had indeed finished on time.

I’m feeling deliriously giddy knowing that the worst is over! I know my overall efforts weren’t my best, but considering I was prepared to drop out entirely (before Josh saved me from the fire), only a few weeks ago, I’m content. I had a strong A/97% going in, so even if I wrote the worst paper in the history of the class, I would still come out with a low B, or, worst case scenario, a high C. But I don’t think that’ll happen.

I’m a winter person and can’t wait to get out and about with my camera and play in the snow. I hopped out a few minutes ago to grab a few of my first snow shots for the season. I had to slow shutter it due to the lack of lighting, but that makes for better contrast in the long run, so I didn’t mind terribly. I love that it was pitch dark outside, but because it was a long exposure, I was able to make it appear to be daytime in the first two pics.

Snow on Tiki Torch-Back deck/natural film grain- Helios 44-2 film lens/Canon Rebel XSI- 4:00 a.m.
Snow3MJ
Snow2MJ
Snow1MJ


Early Morning Rain

It’s 7:39 a.m. and I’ve been up all night again. I usually am these days. I noticed that I prefer working through the night- in dark, quiet solitude, rather than during the day. I’m making tea and getting ready to start on my literature review: I’ve completed my Methods and Results Drafts. The literature review is usually the part of the scientific paper that introduces the hypothesis; which is why it’s also called the Introduction (section). All in all, it’ll be 10 pages or so, and so I’ve been working for weeks on drafts. I’ve never been more tempted to quit! There’s roughly 5 weeks to go still before the semester ends. I messed up by going out and getting a batch of fresh shots. I forgot how fun it was!

This is a collage I made from fresh leaves found in my back yard two days ago.

Helios 44-2 film lens/Canon Rebel XSI/natural sunlight

Available for purchase here

LeavesSetMJ.

Time to get cracking!


Pancake Geography

So I’ve been sitting here doing homework for the past (30 hours with a sleep break) few hours, and have decided to do the self-challenge that I’ve wanted to do for years: I’m going to leave my camera in monochrome for a whole year. After my next birthday, I’ll take my first coloured photograph. The majority of everything looks better to me in black and white anyway, and when I compose a shot in monochrome- as opposed to colour- it always tells a story.

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I can twist the lighting any way I want and distort and change my image: pancakes become mountains- the syrrup the sea- and the edge of the syrup-filled pancake looks like a gashed-open knee. I love the way the light fades off into the syrrupy-darkness.

Clearly, I’ve done too much schoolwork and am creating little worlds now in my plate of food.

Back to the schoolwork.

[groan]


Prelude to a Photo Walk

I’m supposed to be house cleaning. I cut a deal with Josh- he would clean the back part of the house and I’ll clean the kitchen, etc. He’s living up to his half- no wait- I hear metal clinking outside around his moped area. Hmm…I may have been outfoxed.

We’re going to go on a photo walk today in downtown Old Louisville (Kentucky), home of the Kentucky Derby. It’s an interesting place- a mixing pot. Old, young, poor, wealthy, strange artists (my favourite kinds of people ever), and an array of collective and colourful personalities. We’re going to park in Indiana and walk over the bridge, into Kentucky, have a beer, grab a bite- shoot some people.

With the camera, of course. 🙂

Damn. I’m really going to have to stop with the smilies. It’s ruining my tougher than nails image.

Anywho, we’re lounging about cleaning the house at the moment. Josh starts school soon too. Back when he was here before and we were having major problems, I sort of…smashed his computer. It’s shameful, I know. I was raging at the time and livid about what he was doing online. (As if smashing the computer would help.)

Now, he’s starting school and desperately needs a computer. Although we’ve settled our financial differences and have squared things up, he’s still without a computer so, I did what I had to do and sold my Lensbaby. Ouch. That hurts just typing that. I also sold my swap kit- which was an additional 4 lens set. There’s just no way I could feel good about having my luxurious toys while he suffered. So, I don’t regret it at all- it was the right thing to do. I still have my 18 MP. DSLR and my 50 MM 1.8 (my personal fave). It’s enough.

I feel good knowing that I’ve made retribution and have given Josh enough money to be able to get his computer and book access code. I think I’ve learned a pretty good lesson in all of this. Leave the man alone! Let him breathe and be a person apart from me, even if that means doing something that I deem “bad”. For me, that’s huge.

We went out for drive yesterday to Lexington, Indiana and had a really good time. We took a turn down a long country road and followed a sign that announced “fresh strawberries”. It was like a wild Utopia. The clouds were semi-overcast and casting a cool, grey glow over everything. Almost like golden hour lighting- that pre-storm lighting, which to me is the best ever, and the best for HDRs.

Large thistles grew out of thick stalks in the ground on either side of the road. Although they were deep purple and quite beautiful, I found them even lovelier in black and white:

Image50 MM/shot in monochrome/manual/RAW

I have an abundance of shots taken from yesterday but haven’t had time to get to them. I’ve discovered the beauty of shooting in RAW again. Makes a big difference with image quality.

Josh just pulled up on his sugar-cycle. (I’ve renamed his moped- he does store runs late at night because we’re sugar freaks and consume large amounts of candy while watching Locked Up Abroad late into the night like we did last night.)

And now I have to get back to cleaning. We’re off on a photo walk soon and my regret is that I don’t have a super-wide to shoot with. All of those old architectural jewels in downtown Louisville and I only have my 50 MM. UGH. (Must get a 10-20 soon.)

thistle copy

50 MM/shot in monochrome/manual

(The strawberries were delicious, by the way.)


S P L A S H

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Lensbaby Composer/Double Glass
f/2.8 -natural lighting/ISO 100
sh. sp. – 1/4000/Falls of the Ohio
5.15.13

I may or may not be showing several of my water pieces in a “water exhibit” soon. (More on that later.) For now, it’s hush-hush.

I went out today down to the Falls of the Ohio (which I actually named “Fossil Rock” when I was a child, 30+ years ago) and grabbed some water shots with the Lensbaby. Although I’m not exactly a novice with this particular lens, I’d be a fool to be so comfortable to think that I don’t have much room to improve. And, truth be told, the more I learn in photography, the more I feel that I need to learn. I’m always restless and, artistically, never satisfied- always pushing to grow and learn new things. Years ago, I had considered going to art school. I’m glad I chose to study Behavioral Sciences instead. With art (and photography in particular), the world is my teacher,  the camera is my canvas, and lighting is my brush.

Josh and I are headed back out to the dam area. The (possible) exhibit allows only 3 pieces to show. It’s a juried exhibition- I’m excited. (But again, more on that later. It’s not quite “in the bag”.) I can rap off 500 shots in under an hour, and I do that frequently. Selecting only three pieces from a day’s shoot of thousands of pics is like trying to find a flea on a mountain.

I’ve also been invited to show several pieces in a Berlin exhibition. (Yeah- that Berlin!)
Again, it’s a juried exhibition and I want to do it, but I have to be selected first: it’s a bit if a waiting game. I’m still pretty behind in some of my classes and I’ll really need to put my nose to the grind because the exhibition deadlines are within the next week. Time to set my alarm to 6:00 a.m. every morning!

Off and running…


Home Depot and the Illuminati

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Brianna/50 MM 1.8 II/natural lighting/manual

“You’re seriously not going to go out there like that, right?” I asked my daughter, Brianna.

“Of course,” she said.

“Um…with that…Illuminati symbol? Seriously?”

Oh boy.

She smiled. I laughed. And then I left her alone.
This is Southern Indiana; it may as well be the deep South. Rednecks and hillbillies are thick around here. I quickly put things into proper perspective: she has every right to wear whatever she wants on her face, head, or any other body part. The fact that I disagree is really not the point: I need to respect her choices.

So we headed out to the Home Depot, and short of being lynched, publicly, it went well! There are lots of pot-bellied guys in suspenders there- “good ole boys” who like traditional things and people that just don’t push envelopes or stretch boundaries. Ha. My little family is exceptionally good at that and I’m so proud of my kids.

The looks she got by “the good ole boys” at the Home Depot were shocking (and, hilarious). Brianna walked straight forward with a dedicated gait and didn’t flinch. She didn’t look to see what others thought or if they even looked at her. I gained a new respect for her that day. I still don’t like the Illumnati symbol (at all) but certainly appreciate a person who stands his or her ground and challenges others to bend their perspectives- to break out of their stagnant mindsets and breathe new air- even if that air is foreign and seemingly “threatening”.

I remember well what one of my best friends (of 8 or so years) said to me once over the IM. I’m a Christian- he’s an Athiest- and we were alright to “go there” with each other. Not always- but we didn’t shy away from the subject ever. We liked to know what made the other tick and why we chose to believe what we did, so we often prodded and poked, respectfully.

“Well, you, being an unbeliever…da da da…” I said, foolishly.

“I’m not an unbeliever,” he said. “I just don’t believe the same things you do.”

To this day, that’s one of the most riveting things anybody has ever said to me. Profound even. For six years or so, he and I were so very close. I think of him often and love him dearly. He remains an Athiest and I remain a Christian- but we had a unique understanding and respect for one another. He remains one of my favourite people ever.

It’s too late to be rambling on about the Illuminati and Home Depot and rednecks and stuff. I have to be up early in the morning. I need to go do loads of schoolwork watch Dual Survivor while I eat roasted chicken.

Ta ra.


Affinity: It’s Alright to Shine

 

A  F  F  I  N  I  T  Y 

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Limited edition print. Signed. Available in dye-infused magnachrome metallic print only with wire hanger/white gloss finish. 20×52 $2,000 [contact for more info.] Serious inquiries only.


Drug Prevention- Executive Summary

If somebody were to have told me (twenty years ago) that I would be writing reports on drug prevention on a hot Friday night, I would have belted out a hearty laugh, followed by a shot of straight Tequila.

My typical Friday nights were spent in one of two ways:

a.) I was in church with my friends and family
b.) I was out running the streets, higher than a kite and no doubt on my way to becoming quite smashed.

Sometimes in that order.

If I didn’t puke, I generally wasn’t having a good time. This went on for a good twenty years. I suppose that my extensive experience on the subject fuels my passion for it. I know many people who think you can’t touch a drop to drink (or you’re a raging alkie) or that if you smoke a joint, you’re on your way to harder drugs, such as cocaine or heroin, seeing how pot is considered a “gateway drug”.

But I don’t think this is so. Many things change the brain’s chemistry and can cause addiction- not just drugs. I’ve had many Twinkie battles (when I had a chronic case of the munchies) and I was certain the Twinkie would win, but again, not so. Will power and a solid education go a long way. “Just Say No” simply doesn’t work, and the DARE program was an epic failure.

So what’s the answer?

I ponder these things. Drugs and alcohol littered my youth- they were my second skin.

Now, I haven’t smoked a joint in six years, and haven’t had hard liquor in six as well. I don’t care much for the taste of alcohol these days- that’s not to say I can’t have a beer or two, or a glass of wine with a salad. I just fell out of love with it, that’s all.

Photography has taken the place of drugs I believe. My art is satisfying enough for me.

When I’m excited- I take pics.
When I’m sad- I take pics.
When I’m stressed- I take pics.
When I’m angry- I take pics.

By doing so, I alleviate much of the stress associated with these intense emotions. I can add descriptions to my work so that the viewer can perhaps step into my shoes. It’s absolutely therapeutic. I remember the day I quit smoking cigarettes (six years ago also). I was wondering what in the world I would do when I was stressed. No weed- no whiskey- no smokes! Where’s the fun?!

Then I picked up a camera. 🙂

Maybe someday I’ll design a program for kids and teens, that incorporates “phototherapy” into their lives. It’s not too expensive- everybody has a camera these days, and they can express their pent up emotions through their art.

Good grief, am I really rambling on about drug prevention on a Friday night?!

Yes. I’m afraid I am…

And here’s the Executive Summary I turned in today:

 

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(Copying, “borrowing”, or outright stealing this work for the use of plagiarism is absolutely prohibited and any breach of this written warning could result in prosecution.)

Executive Summary

In 1983, Daryl F. Gates founded the Drug Abuse Resistance Program, or DARE. The program offered a ten week, in-school, interactive learning module taught by local law enforcement officers and others. Authorized workers and guest speakers were to undergo 80 hours of training in the areas of childhood development, communication skills, and other interpersonal tools. Funding for the organization was based on certain criteria being met: The information was to be research-based, and effective. In 1998, funding for the program was cut as a result of failing to meet the required regulations. The Department of Education (DOE) has withdrawn from the program completely and refuses to give DARE any future funding. Recent scientific studies have proven DARE to not only be ineffective, but counterproductive as well. It is difficult to say whether the law enforcement officers’ lack of therapeutic qualifications played a part in the failure of DARE’s program. Perhaps it was a combination of factors that simply weren’t cohesive. Some of the teenagers in the program may have viewed the police officers as a threat. It is a fair assessment to say that minorities and inner-city kids may have been preconditioned to fear police officers, especially if they might have been told the same division put a parent or family member behind bars. Perhaps too, the overexposure to a variety of drugs gave the young DARE members more temptations than they might have had without the program.

Attempts at primary prevention education have been challenging over the years as well. Targeting grade-schoolers, many programs have used catchy slogans, such as, “Just Say No,” without reaping necessary and expected benefits. A major problem with this technique that must be taken into consideration is the exposure to a host of new drugs that many children are not aware of beforehand. By announcing the dangers of these items, children are being tantalized and seduced by an idea, “the forbidden fruit”.

Scare tactics is another method that has been ineffective. When presenting exaggerated effects of drugs to children and teens, but especially teens, they will often discredit the material altogether. When teenagers are shown dramatic images of horrific drug-related events, the emotional connection and fear are more temporal than long lasting. Children lack the foresight to understand what 20 years of hard drinking may do to the body, even knowing, he or she may not care. Connecting with these kids on his or her level is crucial. Targeting a demographic is necessary, but so is having the precision and ability to actually reach these children.

Another aspect to consider when using scare tactics is the often romantic appeal of a thing when it is presented as “off limits”. That is not to say legalization of drugs or underage drinking should be an option, but perhaps emphasizing nausea as an effect, rather than euphoria, may tarnish its overall attraction. The effects of drug and alcohol use are tempting to children and teens because they like to feel good. Toddlers spin in circles to mimic euphoria, even before they are old enough to form sentences, much less understand the concept of drugs and alcohol and their effects on the body. No matter how well packaged or distributed antidrug campaigns may be, unless the parents or caregivers of the child are reinforcing, in the home, what he or she is learning in school, the whole of it will be counterproductive.

Programs like the Child Development Project (CDP) have been shown to significantly reduce drinking and drug use among adolescents and teens between the ages of 5-12. The CDP strives to promote closer bonds between students and their peers, teachers and students, and students and parents. Another useful prevention program is Class Action, which is a universal school-based alcohol-related learning module. Class Action targets children between the ages of 9-12. This program in particular has proven to reduce the onset of drinking among school kids, and has reduced binge drinking among high school students.

One reason for the success of Class Action is the interactive peer-led relationships between the students and their mentors, or speakers. The representatives focus on turning negative peer pressure into positive peer pressure; thereby changing the messages of alcohol uses and abuse altogether. Students who heed the warnings will perceive drinking as something that might be shunned by their peers, in turn, molding their choices into healthier actions. Unlike DARE, which is a tertiary prevention program, the CPD and Class Action are primary and secondary prevention programs.

Recommended Changes:

Avoid using scare tactics in secondary and tertiary prevention programs. The fear-related material can be effective in creating a necessary protective boundary in grade-schoolers. The same fear may compound stress in teenagers, causing them to actually want to try drugs or alcohol, and the same could be said in tertiary programs. Scare tactics are best used during primary prevention, when children are most impressionable.

Avoid using law enforcement officers in secondary and tertiary prevention programs. They may induce rebellion in teens, and resentment among addicts. Again, law enforcement officers are presented and often perceived as “the good guys” to grade-schoolers. A two step interactive transitional program is recommended that would bridge the gap from grade-school over to middle school, and then middle school to high school, promoting the positive images of law enforcement officers. Telling children to “stay away from bad things” simply does not work. Law enforcement officers would be encouraged to engage in activities that children and teens participate in most: gaming, texting, and hanging out at their favorite hot spots.

Abstinence rewards in school is another recommendation.
Reward middle and high school students who abstain from alcohol and drugs.

Implementation:

Develop a program specifically for middle and high school students offering monthly voluntary drug testing. Rather than spend money on building more incarceration facilities, increase funding for voluntary drug testing in schools. Rewards include: Ipods, clothing cards from their local malls, and ITunes cards that allow unlimited downloading of songs. By associating positive material gain (rewards) with abstinence, the fear and anxiety associated with drug testing would be diminished, if not altogether diffused, and kids and teens would develop an appreciation for drug testing that could possibly carry over into adulthood. Just as word-of-mouth among peer groups is drugs and alcohol’s number one promoter, so too, the Abstinence Reward Program (ARP) could be widely spread and promoted by peers among peers.

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Catwalk/My daughter, Heidi./Lensbaby Composer pro-Double Glass Ops./Manual ex./RAW/GIMP

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