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

Posts tagged “portraiture

Selfie Friday

Yep. (Gas station lighting.)

Zeiss Jena Flektogon film lens/35-2.8

LoveMJ2


Sabbatical

Imageself portrait-natural lighting/manual-Helios 44-2 film/taken today

I don’t know how much longer I can do this school thing. Many of my friends are now applying for residencies- Bell, a brilliant writer has just applied to a writer’s residency in a remote fishing village in the Arctic Circle and another friend just got back from her residency in a remote rural area in Southern Iceland. I could probably list 50 others (no, seriously) right off the top of my head who are flying here and there and working hard on their exhibitions. They’re truly amaaaaaazing people and I’m really getting to the point to where I miss the crap out of them! It’s more than that. When you form a bond with a tight group of artists- for years- you come to know each other so well. And, you become a cycle of flowing water, each watering the other and eventually, you’re not even “you” any more but hundreds of other people- all reflecting one another.

Because of the hardships that have smacked me down over the past few months, I’ve had to put off my schoolwork until the last minute. I simply couldn’t do anything about it. Now, I’m facing 30 assignments in two combined classes and my deadline is March 7th. Am I screwed, or what?!

I have the resources to take a year off. I won’t have any extra money, but I would be able to minimally pay my bills and rent, buy food, but not much more. I’m not ready to jump into a “career”, socially speaking, not until I finish school, and so I’ve been in this tailspin for quite some time. My complaints are still the same. I want to do so many things with my art and music: I simply can’t as long as I’m in school.

And school is choking the living daylight out of me. Sure, I’m accomplishing small goals, always. But my bigger ones are drying up, such as, making a music CD, doing more school readings with my book- guh. I just don’t know how much longer I can do this.

Tonight, I’m supposed to work on my assignments, but I have to hook up with my art peeps and reconnect.

I can’t believe it’s March and there’s this much snow on the ground.
My red wine awaits. I have to take a freaking break before I blow a gasket.

I’ll be back…

…eventually.


Bimonthly Selfie

ImageSelfie-Shot in kitchen window lighting/1.17.14- Helios 44-2 film lens/Digital Rebel/manual

Lighting is your friend, ladies!
Seeing how I’ve been getting all this extra attention lately, I thought it a good time to make a post about how to take a good selfie (technically speaking). Anybody that knows me truly knows that:

a.) I don’t take myself too seriously. Ever.
b.) I look 20 years younger than I actually am, thanks to Photoshop. (I’m 44.)
c.) I don’t shave my legs and I really don’t care. (But that’s beside the point.)

Normally, I stay oblivious to my “audience” and rarely write for others. Not that I have anything against that, I’m particularly too lazy to keep up with all of the hooplah and riffraff. But tonight, I decided to address selfies and lighting and that sort of thing, because, who doesn’t have a few bad selfies lying around? (I have hundreds.) Not that I’m a narcissist, I’m a photographer: there’s a difference. (Not really.) But if you have a guy-friend that pilfers through your hard drive like I used to do with my ex’s, then you can just tell him “you’re a photographer” and he won’t think twice about it.

I have a bit of a cheap wine hangunder at the moment, so I’ll keep this list short and sweet. I know there are all sorts of one-click filters out there to make you look all selfielicious and everything, but if you stick to these pointers, I promise you, you’ll cut a few corners, save time, and look a heck of a lot better.

  • Go into the light!
    Find a “window light” source. It doesn’t have to be fancy; everything I do is cheap and at a fraction of the cost that others spend. Natural window lighting is the best light in the world for selfies- I promise! Don’t use midday lighting: it’s harsh and will either blast your pupils, simulating an unflattering meth-addiction, or it’ll highlight your shadows and age you instead. (You don’t want that.) The best time for good-selfie lighting is early morning to midday (just before noon), and late afternoon to early evening. Also, apart from professional and expensive lighting, nothing puts beautiful catchlights in your eyes like a window. (See pic above.)
  • Embrace your flaws
    As you can see in my selfie, I’m make-up free and alright with showing a few lines and pores. It’s naturalGuys want to sleep with Barbie but they really don’t want to take her to lunch. Don’t be a Barbie.
  • Look like you’re going to kick somebody’s ass
    This is my go-to look that works for most pictures. It’s alright to smile! But this is always good to fall back on and believe me, you’re going to need to fall back on this at some point.
  • Stretch your face muscles before a shoot. Mimic the word “WOW” in excess, raising your eyebrows simultaneously; it’s a little weird at first, but it loosens up the expression and circulates the blood. Do this about 50 times, and really, it’s good do get in the habit of doing this daily because it tightens up the facial muscles. (I’ve done it for years.) After you’re finished, your face will relax into a “default” comfortable expression. If that doesn’t work, look like you’re going to kick somebody’s ass.
  • Keep the camera slightly above your head, point your chin down a hair, and lock your eyes into place.
    There’s nothing worse that enlarged nostrils, double chins, and bad angles. Keeping the camera above your head slightly (preferably at 3/4ths of an angle) will flatter your angles.

There you have it.
You’re welcome!


Jellyfish and Psycho Stalkers

  Jellies at the Aquarium of the Smokies- Gatlinburg, Tennessee (Canon G3/manual)

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Today is my birthday; I’m 44!

I have a roaring migraine.

🙂  <<<<<<<<<<

But, given the circumstances, it’s not surprising. I could write a book on the (mis) adventures of our vacation in the Smokies, but my head won’t let me and I have to start on homework soon. Right- on my birthday-with a migraine. I’ll keep things short.

As we were leaving Maggie Valley in North Carolina on the 15th (Sunday), putting along down the interstate, my Mom’s car died. On the interstate. We pulled over off the highway and sat on the roadside. (It was 3:00 p.m. or so.) Numerous calls were made to AAA- hours went by- my daughter, Heidi, was violently ill and my Mom, who is almost 70, was exhausted. People needed to pee and we were making very little progress with AAA. More time passed. More calls were made. (More waiting. More calls.)

Finally, after being stranded on the interstate for 7+ hours, our guy pulls up in a (very) small tow truck. He then tells us that he can’t tow more than two people and we were basically screwed. I was able to pull a few strings and he called his buddy (unbeknownst to AAA) who owned a double cab who promised to come and tow us to a hotel and auto body shop.

More time passed. It was now pitch dark and we were on the side of the highway in a black car and a dead cell phone. Nice.

Finally, after much cussing and praying, our 2nd guy pulls up and tows us to safety and a Comfort Inn in Ashville, N.C. After hanging out on a small hill the following day, among the sweet smelling pines for several hours, we were told that the mechanics had found the problem and we would be on our way soon.

By this point, I had incredibly bad “highway hair” and could feel my head slowly cracking; I just wanted to prevent “the migraine”.

After returning home that evening, I was informed that our dog, Chance, had run out when Brianna left that morning. Naturally, I couldn’t receive text messages on the road because my cell phone had died hours before. After I was told that he had run outside 10 hours earlier, I was crushed. Josh and I spent the next few hours combing the city; whistling, calling…we didn’t find him. I was devastated. I couldn’t blame Brianna, of course. Chance no doubt wanted to be with us and might have run out to try and find us, but really, he’s a “bolter”. He loves to get out and run- full blast!

I didn’t get much sleep that night and cried, so much. Chance is my baby. I’ve trained him to fetch things, to give me a kiss, and he’ll chew on Josh’s beard, as if to groom him; it’s totally adorable. He’s been our baby for 10 months now, which makes it especially weird when I received an email from his former owner’s girlfriend, telling me that they received a call that Chance had been picked up (when we were broken down in N.C.) and at first, I was glad to see her email, as we have stayed in contact with each other, remotely. She has written me several times asking for updates on “Willy” (his previous name). I had felt a bit uncomfortable with her wanting to stay in contact with us (regarding Chance), but didn’t see any reason not to send her a few shots of Josh and Chance out at parks, etc. and share some information on how he’s doing. (Big mistake.)

After spending the night searching for Chance, crying- exhausted from being stranded on the highway and just exhausted in general from not eating and sleeping properly because of the whole chaotic “stranded situation”, I continued reading her email, and quickly  became outraged. She had the audacity to tell me that they received a call that Chance had been picked up, and that she and her boyfriend were going to go and get him on Thursday (tomorrow), and that,  “We are going to pick Willy up from LHS thursday and he will not be given back to your custody.”

WOW.

After keeping her updated on his well-being and even sending her cute little pics of him? What the hell is wrong with people? They’ve lost their decency and ability to exhibit a smidgeon of compassion anymore it seems. She had no idea we were stranded, or that we’d all just been through 2 days of highway hell. (Yeah, and his name is not “Willy” lady! It’s Chance. Get it straight!)

When Josh and I got Chance from her and her boyfriend (also named Josh), they failed to mention that we would need to register Chance’s microchip with us. They gave us no information on it at all.  It’s not absolutely mandatory and it has no bearing overall on actual and legal “ownership”. It’s a good idea for new owners to do that, but if the new owners choose not to, that doesn’t mean that the dog still belongs to the previous owners simply because his microchip number still bears their contact information. She could have chosen to contact us in a civil manner rather than outright threatening us. Not the best idea.

After researching microchip ownership and conferring with an attorney, I discovered that many animal shelters refuse to let a new owner register the animal’s microchip in his or her name, because often, the animal will wind up right back in the shelter and the shelter gets tired of having to (re) register the new contact information over and over again.

I would have been completely willing to continue to apprise the former owner of Chance’s well being and maybe even share a few more pics, but certainly not now. I believe she’s a bit unstable and out of touch with reality. Who would give you a dog and then tell you almost a year later that your dog is still named what they named him?

Psycho much?

Things are slowly returning back to normal now; Josh is in the living room playing the guitar and singing, our feline and canine family are lounging around enjoying the music, and Bob is at the table with me- he wanted to come and see me for my birthday- it’s a treat. :0)

In other news, Carl is losing his fight against feline AIDS and although he’s still eating voraciously, the food is just going through him so quickly- like water- he’s wasting away. Brianna has made the executive decision to have him put to sleep tomorrow; she doesn’t want him to suffer further. She’s being incredibly strong right now and I’m so very proud of her.

Even with the migraine, the crazy mishaps in the mountains of North Carolina, and the psycho- former owner of my dog threatening to “dognap” him, I can say that all is well still: I’m alive and still carry a smile.

(selfie in the Smokies)

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Getaway

Tickles the cat.

Tickles

Canon G3/manual/RAW/natural lighting

Heidi is here with us now; she’s hacking and coughing but still going to the Smokies with us; she’s a trooper. We leave in the morning. I’ve just finished an assignment (at 1:30 a.m.) and just want to shower and collapse. Unfortunately, I’ll have to take my laptop with me and complete several assignments overlooking the mountains on the cabin deck. Lovely.

I’ve purchased our Ripley’s Believe It or Not oddities museum and Aquarium tickets and have printed them out; they’re tucked away snugly in my purse. Josh says we’re both “overpreparers”. I can’t disgree- we spend more time preparing for a trip than we do actually on a trip. Brianna won’t be able to come along because she has to work.

It’s way past my bedtime.
Next time I write, I’ll be in the mountains. I hope the sunrise out on the deck with be misty and majestic. I’m craving coffee just thinking about it. Man I’m getting old…


Stress Management

Take picture. Edit photo.
It always works for me.

Image Selfie. Taken this morning. Lensbaby Composer/Double Glass/f/ 5.6
[20+ layers in GIMP]


Charity x 3

Today has been a pretty wild day. I’m still perturbed that Allstate wanted to give me a measly $2,100 for pretty much wrecking my life- temporarily. My conversation with the rep went something like this,

“Mrs. Lindsey, we’re able to offer you $1,700,” said the rep.

“Did you say one, or ten?”

[Rep snickers lightly]

“ONE.”

“Are you serious? Considering that I had to drop two of my classes last semester- with a doctor’s note excusing me from those two classes, had to repair my GPA-”

“Well Mrs. Lindsey, you didn’t actually have something from your doctor saying that the car accident caused you to have to drop out of school,” he said.

“Um, [rep’s name omitted for confidentiality’s sake], the doctor wrote the statement on a prescription pad. It clearly said MVA (motor vehicle accident) along with the names of the two classes right on there. Any lawyer or jury would absolutely agree that that’s legit.”

“Yeah but, we feel that it wasn’t actually the accident that made you have to quit school,” he said.

“Ok,” said I. “First of all, I didn’t ‘quit school’. I simply dropped out of my two most demanding classes due to the pain and stress caused by your client splitting my bumper. Secondly, I haven’t had to drop a class in years. Not even when my house was flooded and cracked in half a year and a half ago and my kids and I were put up in a hotel by the Red Cross. We had nowhere to go, and I had to ask my art friends in Australia for help. They pulled together $650 in an hour and a half, and we were in an apartment days later- and [rep’s name]…I was carrying four classes during that time and STILL didn’t drop any classes.” [And for the record, made all A’s and B’s.]

“Well…Mrs. Lindsey….” [insert more BS here]

I was able to talk him up to $2,100, and what a disgrace. As mentioned before, and somewhere else- you are NOT in good hands with ALLSTATE. No siree….

To the rep’s credit, he expedited things to the best of his ability and Fed Exed the check. I thought long and hard about settling for pennies practically, but, I was able to give my friend Jean (the homeless woman currently residing in an abandoned train car) $100 cash todayand a new cell phone with 750 minutes + text and internet. That in itself made it worth it to me.

I wanted to get my guitar out of the pawn shop and when I got there, I was told that I was a few days too late. The (very cool) guy behind the counter saw my disappointment and told me that he would see what he could do for me. He certainly did. He clicked around on the computer and said that it was still in the backroom, but he wasn’t able to return it. Nevertheless, he checked with his supervisor and was able, by the skin of his teeth, to pull some strings for me. (Um, no pun intended.)

A few minutes later, he came out with my beautiful, green Oscar Schmidt- acoustic electric:

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I twisted up a $20 and handed it to the (cool) counter guy.

“Man, you didn’t have to do that. Here,” I said.

“I can’t take that,” he said, making funny faces in the direction of his boss.

I shoved it under the massive day planner on the counter and said, “The world would be a better place if there were more people like you. Here. Take it.”

And smiled and walked out.
I wasted no time in giving the guitar to Josh as a gift. ♥

I also gave each of my kids $50 for some spending money. We were in a grocery store parking lot and saw a man asking for change. Naturally, he hit me up.

“Hey, weren’t you at the Haven house?” I asked, shaking his hand.

“Yeah, yeah,” he said, returning the smile.

I dug through my purse and gave him the equivalency of $3.00. I can’t help thinking that he was going to go straight to the liquor store and I really didn’t care. It’s a tough world out there.

“I think I’m gonna call that guy Liquor Store Lawrence,” my son said. I have a lively bunch. 🙂 It was several hours later when we were in Louisville, Ky. (minutes from the Kentucky Derby), and we saw a man on the street who was muttering to himself. He was fairly young with tattered clothes and a shabby toboggan. My daughter saw him looking through garbage cans. It made us all very sad.

“I think I’m going to give that guy some money,” Brianna said.

And moments later, while sitting at a red light in a congested intersection, she bolted from the back seat and sprinted across the street, shoving her $50 into his hand.

“Did you give him your $20?” I asked.

“No, I gave him 50,” she said softly.

“Are you serious, Sissy?!” I asked, not so softly.

“Dude, that’s probably the most awesome thing I’ve ever seen you do,” my son said to her.

I was completely stunned. She became my hero, immediately. To top things off, she was wearing this:

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A beautiful kimono looking lingerie gown, with sneakers. 🙂

Not that we were out looking for homeless people today, but homelessness is rampant in this area. I ponder on this Scripture: Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it. (Proverbs 3:27)

We popped into the Greyhound bus station so I could use the ladies room. I couldn’t resist the lighting:

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SP/ 50 MM 1.8 II/manual exposure/manual focus

I also couldn’t resist snapping these guys on the way out:

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50 MM/manual focus/manual exposure

You have to be sneaky to snap pics of people without them knowing it (all while focusing the lens- I can’t stand autofocus and consider it taboo). Something tells me the guy on the right knew I was taking his pic…

It just kept getting weirder as the day drew on. The wind blew fiercely and we found ourselves facing this:

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We took a detour and ended up here:

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Not only can pigs fly, but pigs fly high. Literally. Look at its bloodshot eyes…

I was able to shoot a rare pic of my son outside of a music store. He dyed his hair blue today, although you can’t see it here:

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I never in a million years thought I would be cool with my kid dying his hair blue. I guess I’m mellowing out as I’m growing older.

That’s not altogether a bad thing…


Hope

Getcha some…

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New Camera on its Way

I remember last year, having to sell my whole rig to pay the rent and buy groceries.

It included:

Canon Rebel XSI
Lensbaby Composer Pro w/ Double Glass OpticsZ
Lensbaby + Sweet optic 35
(kit) 18-55 MM/75-300
50 MM 1.8 II (prime)
Lens reversal adapter/coupling ring
Rc-1 remote
camera bag
Extra batteries + charger/neck strap etc. etc.

It broke my heart to have to do that, but considering it allowed me to take care of my family through some very difficult times, I don’t regret the decision and would do it again if I had to. During all of 2012 I’ve shot with a 4 MP Canon Power shot, and for a serious “artographer” as myself, that has been difficult.

I’ve recently received the remains of my Financial Aid for school, and after paying (the school) back $1,380, my mom $500- brother $500- along with a few more chunks of hundreds here and there (bills, etc.) I had just enough left over to order another DSLR: Canon EOS 60D 18 MP. After shooting all year with a 4 MP- I cannot wait to have an actual DSLR in my hands again!

I ordered one that came with the kit (18-55 standard lens) which pretty much sucks as a lens- but, with a bit of experience and know-how (of which both I possess) you can pull off some pretty good shots with one. I’d be a fool to not order a 50 MM 1.8 II prime lens- it’s $100 brand new, which is pennies compared to other lenses, but the 50 MM makes an excellent portrait lens with considerably good bokeh. For those that may be reading this that have no idea what bokeh means, it’s a Japanese word that actually means “senile” or mentally foggy. Photographically, it translates as the super blurry parts of an image, apart from the focal point or subject, and it’s usually in the BG/background, but there is also what I call “reverse bokeh”, and that’s when you have a sharp focal point with a super-blurred FG/foreground.

Another attractive feature the 50 MM offers is that it’s a fixed focal length- there’s no zooming to be had. That means, if you want to get a close-up shot of your subject or subjects, you have to actually walk up to them. The 50 MM captures a field that equate to a 35 MM and it’s the closest thing to capturing a scene that your eye actually sees. You can’t go wrong with a 50 MM- ever- and it’s a great lens to take on trips, etc. because although it captures a subject beautifully regarding macros, it also makes an excellent landscape lens- many people don’t know that.

Here are two examples below, both taken with a 50 MM 1.8 II:

Sketch, one of the many cats we’ve owned over the years:

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The Longest Dream (Perrin Park/Indiana)

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Not too shabby for a $100 lens. Some of my favourite lenses are the Lensbaby Composer Pro (double glass ops), Sigma 17-70 (great walk around lens- it’s a wide angle on one end and a macro on the other- excellent lens), Sigma 10-20 (super wide) , and there are others, but the 50 MM prime remains at the top of any lens I’ve ever used. This lens is an absolute must have for any advanced amateur and pro, for that matter.

I should be receiving my goodies in the mail within the next week. I’ve spent the last 8 years developing my own unique style, a style that’s recognizable to most of the people who know my work, and I’m considering posting a few tutorials in the areas of layering, mastering your lighting (in camera- and in post processing) and developing a trademark style that is unique to your personal preferences. I’ve had many requests over the years but have just been so busy- hopefully I can do that sometime soon. (We’ll see.)

It’s another busy day and I’ll be filling mine with housecleaning, lots of school work and supper to cook.

Adieu…


Maestro

 

Josh smiles wryly in the dark, holding the pinhole camera he’s building for me.

I have a slight obsession with the pinhole. He created an aperture hole by poking an attached slice of a coke can (that was firmly fixed to the inside of a wooden box) with a guitar string. We picked up some 200 ISO film last night, and we’re going out today to test it out. A homemade pinhole camera!

 

More on this later.

 

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