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

Posts tagged “sepia

To All of You

…who are just finishing up your semesters- students and teachers alike- congratz to you!

And although I’m bowing out of the academic race to pursue my photography/art, I do hope that each of you continues to do well in your studies and teachings. All of my final grades are in and it’s going to be a close call, but I think I might’ve made the Dean’s List. More on that later.

Maggie, congratzs to you, and Y, you too. WE DID IT. 🙂

PortabellasMJ


Super Tak: Film Lenses on Digital Cameras

It’s 5:17 a.m. and I cannot sleep. I’m sitting on the bathroom floor with my laptop deciding what I want to do next. It’s been a long time since I snuck off to another room while Josh slept! Alas, I cannot sleep. I’m actually waiting for the break of dawn so I can go on a sunrise photoshoot. It’s freezing outside! But that’s alright. I like the cold.

I’m missing Brian so much. He’s rarely here any more. I’m very happy for him though; I’m fairly certain he’s happy, and as long as he is, that’s all that matters. I’m confident that all of my children know this about me: I support them in everything they do- 100%.

I’ve decided that I want to start shooting with film lenses. Digital just doesn’t do it for me…at all. it’s too clear, focused- intentional. It cleans up all of the imperfections right away and leaves little to the imagination. I really don ‘t like it. So I picked up my first film lens (apart from two cheapies in the pawn shop), which is the SMC (super multi coated) Takumar 135/3.5. I must credit my British friend, Mark for this idea: he sent me a few pics a year ago and they blew my mind. He was using film lenses on a digital camera. Huh?! Yeah. You just have to know which adapters to get, so after a bit of research, I found the adapter for my Canon body: the M42. My Tak (or, “Super Tak” as it’s known as) came in 2 days ago, but my adapter came in today. (I could cry!) This is probably why I can’t sleep. The quality of this lens is jaw-dropping. The colours are so fantastic that I’m breaking my own self contract and will be shooting in colour- and lots of it. How could I not?

Here are a few sample images from the Super Tak:

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ImageI am completely in love with this lens! But it gets even better. I have two more that will be arriving in the upcoming week- they’re film lenses as well. I’ve decided that I’ll never shoot digital (lenses, anyway) again- only film from here on out. I love the texture and film grain that the older lenses provide. The two new lenses will be: Carl Zeiss (YES!!) 35/ 2.8 and the Helios 44M-4 58 MM f/2. They’re flying in from several different countries and I’m so excited………..!

More on this later. I have a sunrise to shoot.

Academic update:

It’s midterm, and here are my grades in the following classes:

Criminology: A
Lifetime Fitness and Wellness: A
Spanish II: A
Therapeutic Interventions with Substance Abusers II: A

Booyah!


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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Sanity Restored

It’s 4:52 a.m. and I’m typing very quietly so I don’t wake Josh. The past 24 hours have been astronomically crazy. I can’t get into the intricate details because a lot of it has to do with his family members, and for confidentiality sake, I can’t divulge that information.

But I can say that the police showed up at my door, having received a report that Josh was a “missing person” (yeah, from me too lately!) and I discovered that it was a concerned relative who hadn’t heard from him in a while that had reported him. Things are straightened out now, but boy-wasn’t that fun?

And on that note, I’m so very happy today. Josh and I have restored our closeness and our bond. I have a big, goofy grin on my face- I have my BFF back! I was a complete and utter mess without him. When relationships break down, it’s common to paint oneself in a positive light and make the other person out to be the villain. I did the same thing at first- I wanted to blame him for everything that had gone wrong. It took many days of agony, silence, tears, and absolute heartbreak to see how wrong I was in my own faults and failures. I was angry and always picking at him. I treated him so unfairly (I hear him snoring so I can type louder) really, I did. No man can live under a woman’s tyrannical thumb: it had become unbearable between us. The split did us both some good. He had moved in with friends and on the positive side, had started going to church and stuff. On the negative side, he was being monitored heavily by his friend’s wife who was a boarding type of landlord who controlled what he watched on TV even down to how he dressed- um, that’s taking “tyrannical” to a whole ‘nother level and in the end, he felt as if he were a foster kid all over again. She thought she was helping him really, but he’s had enough of people in his life telling him what he does and doesn’t need to do.

I want him to have his own space and so we’ll be setting up a small construction trailer on the property here so he can have his own area- I feel strongly that he needs that- apart from me even- his own “home” with a door that he can lock and have his privacy. He’s never had that! He’s always lived with people and been under their rules, including me, and I’ve always been very protective of him in his life- he’s been through the wringer- so it’s high time he have his own place to call home in this world. I’m happy for him. :0) He’s happy too.

Neither of us want to jump right back into the relationship we were in, because it was a damaged and broken relationship. It does neither party any good when you hook back up and “pick up where you left off”- especially if that was a bad place. But Josh and I have the unique ability to shape ourselves around each others’ feelings, needs, and sensitivities and above all- remain friends, no matter what. So, if we have a bit of a breakdown in our friendship/relationship, when we do reunite, it’s with a whole new respect and appreciation for one another.

It’s been a long day and I’m going to hit the hay. We have to move much of his stuff to his new place and I’m wiped out. I love this picture of Josh that I took out at Pounds Hollow Lake in Southern Illinois from our recent camping trip. Seldom have I seen him look so naturally happy such as he was here. It’s one of my favourite pics of him. xo

ImageJosh/50 MM/Southern Illinois/Pounds Hollow/Rim Rock Trail/Camping trip


Bovine and Wife Swap

ImageZimmerman Rd./Charlestown, Indiana/50 MM/natural lighting/manual exposure/manual focus/Canon- country cruise with Brianna/4.18.13

I spoke with my adviser today; I’ve discovered that I’m only three classes away from my Behavioral Sciences degree. I’m simultaneously certifying in Substance Abuse so that’s four classes total for both. I could either take them over the summer and graduate this fall (which is right up there with a death wish) or stick my toes in the sand throughout July and early August, complete my studies in the fall, and then graduate in December or early January. There’s no question that I’m going to do the latter.

Afterwards, I’ll be transferring immediately over to Columbia University (Distance Ed.) in Missouri and working toward my bachelor’s in Sociology. My three prime areas of interest are Sociology, Psychology, and Criminal Justice. I’ve decided on Sociology because I’m semi-obsessed with social stratum (doesn’t that sound fancy?), various ethnic groups, social habits and other lifestyles indigenous to natives (but not quite Anthropology), longitudinal studies and change;  but I also crave the research side of it all (quantitative and qualitative analyses and so on), surveying, and field studies.

I like preparing reports and writing too. In short, Sociology is where my heart is and I want to get my hands very dirty in that area. I think my camera will come in handy there, being a photographer and all.

My classes for my final semester are these:

Intro to Criminology (my free elective)
Intro to Social Psychology (my remaining science core )
Lifetime Fitness and Wellness (in which I’ll need to hire a personal trainer as it’s proctored)
Therapeutic Interventions II (Substance Abuse internship)

That’s a hefty little sandwich, but I’m looking forward to it. I have no idea how that’s going to work out with the head pain, but I’ll power through it, no doubt. Speaking of which, I’m off to cook supper (bovine, in fact) and catch an episode of Wife Swap.

 


Deeply

Love breaks through…
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I can hardly believe the dramatic changes that have happened to me since I last posted. Doggy Daddy Josh made good on his repayment, and I’ve been able to pay (almost) everything off so that we’re at least back up to “barely struggling”. The stress is rolling away.

My oldest daughter returned to Bloomington- her visit was literally life-changing for me. She taught me how to meditate! I have no idea why it’s taken me so long to put such an easy practice into practice, but we had some down time at the Ohio River among the driftwood and sandy beach area. I took my school books with me (and actually read that day) but I decided to try the meditation then. I sat down in a sandy area- munchies, purse, and all of my necessities surrounding me- and sat straight up in Indian style, closed my eyes, purposefully oxidizing and forcing the air in and out through methodical, slow breathing, and pushed everything out of my mind. It’s not the same thing as burying it. I know that we (as people) have the power and ability to accept messages, both positive and negative (also known as encoding); therefore I know that we have the same ability to release them. So that is what I did.

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J and I have made peace with each other completely and really fought for our friendship. Over the years, our relationships with each other have swelled and shrunk and swelled (and shrunk) again from new acquaintances, to very good friends, to fiancés, back to very good friends, distant friends, best friends, “life partners” sharing an existence and cohabitating, distant friends again, best friends again- we have learned to transmutate in and out of each other and morph into and apart from each other quickly, like water. Through it all, we’ve remained friends. I will never have eyes for anybody else, and if it were to happen, a house would have to fall on me.

That said, I’m very much enjoying my newly liberated status, and my space! I’m fiercely private (and have never even been on Skype, although several of my friends are putting serious heat on me in that area from across the pond) but I don’t get much down time these days, and when I do- I write and sing songs.

God has poured no less than 12 new songs into me over the past two months. It’s always been that way with me: the darker my days, the better and more frequent my songs. And, it’s not uncommon for us artists to bleed out our pain and sorrows. It makes for bubblier personalities! But it’s my way.

I want so much to just work on a CD; all original material- my songs in Drop D (acoustic/electric guitar and the piano) but I absolutely must power through and finish up my degree in Behavioral Sciences first. I remember what Sharon Osbourne said on TV once. She was advising a group of women to harness their attention, energy, and focus on one thing, and to devote their drive toward that one thing. Otherwise, she would be all over the place and perhaps spread herself out too thin. I think on that always.

But still, I have a scream in me- my new songs are coming out of my ears! I’ve recorded small bursts of HD video when a new song hits me and file it away. I have about 15, although I’ve written around 50 over the past 7 years or so. I’ll pull them up after the semester’s over and select only one to lay down on a 4 track and then polish it up. (And so on and so forth.)

Josh asked me if I’d like to work on a CD together: I’m down with that. 🙂
I love that man and I can’t deny it. Still, I’m learning to approach my environment and stressful situations from a scientific perspective, rather than an emotional one. This is something I’m learning to do through my studies. It’s alright to shut everything down emotionally- temporarily– and navigate through those ferocious waters, as long as they’re dissected and processed afterwards when it’s “safe” to do so. Even if it’s days later, that’s ok, as long as it gets done.

My daughter, Heidi, shared something with me several years ago that was again life-changing for me. She told me that we don’t always have the necessary tools to go back through our pasts and dig up “old bones” as it were. We might dig up years worth of buried things and not be able to reassemble them, she said. I never forgot that. She has helped me so very much, and I do have to give Brian and Brianna much credit too. Brian Bob has come to me over the years with wisdom beyond his own years, and poured his healing balm over my heart. Brianna has shot me between the eyes with a poker face with hard truths that I’ve needed to hear- that girl can really let you have it! But still respectfully. Heidi is the “light bringer” of sorts. I’m so grateful and humbled by her endless search for truth and love and for sharing with me what she gathers along the way.

Heidi, exhibiting an impressive form.
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I’m convinced that I have the best kids in the world. But doesn’t every mom think that?

More good news!
I found out that all of my classes are actually open enrollment and I “accidentally” started school one month earlier than my classmates. Hence, my posting now to my blog. :0)

After paying $1,800 worth of very pregnant bills, I’ll have only $500 or so left. I have waited 27 years to buy a professional microphone so that I can record high quality songs. The same can be said for an electric stage piano, and Washburn acoustic electric guitar- I’m waiting no longer. I’ve placed an order for all of them and I am crazy with excitement! The microphone I bought (and has already shipped) is a Yeti (Blue Microphones) USB mic- silver edition. [You can click on the link to view it.] It’s a gorgeous mic! I also put an order in for this: Nady pop filter. Things are slowly coming together in the music department.

Josh is an amazing musician: his talent shines in rhythm (D&B) but especially rhythm guitar. He has a soulful, bluesy wail that hits you right in the heart when he sings. I’ll be working with him in vocal training- I’ve been a singer since I was 6 perhaps? “Perfect pitch” they call it, but these days I am so very rusty. Singing comes naturally for Heidi and me- we don’t have to try hard- it just flows out of us, but she truly takes it to a whole ‘nother level. The girl is phenomenal.

I’ll be broke again before I know it, but heck- the bills are paid (mostly) and my car has gas in it. I can’t complain.

There’s a dove serenading me outside of my window. It sings for me every morning. I think maybe I’m just eavesdropping. I received this email this morning; it put a big smile on my face:

Dear Birgitta,
I love your Hallelujah song on Divine Office…What beautiful melody, voice, lyrics!  
Please send me the mp3 so I may share with my women’s bible study.

Thank you and God bless,
[Name omitted for confidentiality]

Oh- oh…and more good news!
I donated a copy of my children’s book Peanut Butter Soup to my local library. My friend who works there is putting it into circulation. But also, upon donating it, she invited me to join her book club in which she features local authors. I was delighted and happy to accept.

I cherish my dark hours because they bring me closer to God. But I absolutely love bathing in the Light. Today I am deeply grateful and deeply happy.


Adrift

Adrift Image
My neice, camouflaged against the background/study in mood.

Squire Boone Caverns
50 MM/manual/shot in monochrome
3.28.13


Spring Mill Park in the Wintertime

Brianna, J,  and I headed out to Spring Mill Park today. The place was completely abandoned (which was perfect) so we had it to ourselves. I have to say, I wasn’t missing the cheesy period costumes (women churning butter, old men at the apothecary, etc. etc.).

It was an excellent opportunity to get reacquainted with shooting in monochrome using the 50 MM + all manual controls (focus, exposure, etc.) I’m a stickler for manual focus.

Speaking of period costumes, here are a few shots from today:Image

That’s right. Real men carry their womens’…necessary things. 

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The heart of Pioneer Village.

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An interesting growth atop the entrance to the garden.

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Josh composes a shot using the trusty “road warrior”, also known as the Canon G3.

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A quick self port. in the ladies restroom. Yes, those are pajamas…

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Josh carries Chance in his jacket. All together now…”Awww….”

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And this is why I’ve fallen in love all over again with the 50 MM. This bench shot is straight out of the camera. (Had to lay on my back in the snow to get the shot- but I got it.)

f/3.5
ISO 100
1/49 sec.
manual focus
manual exposure


The Awakening

 

School is out.
Autumn is dead.
Winter is here.

This is when I come alive. 🙂

 

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Another Sale

 

Sales have been good to me lately.

I just received this email this morning:

Hi Ḃḭṙḡḭṫṫä,

You’ve just made a sale on Redbubble! Your work was so brilliant that someone showed their appreciation with their wallet. Unfortunately we have to mark this event with a very boring email but it is full of Useful Facts (TM) about the sale.

‘But when will I get this money?’ we hear you cry, and rightfully so. Well you can find out here: http://support.redbubble.com/faqs/top20/when-do-i-get-paid

Thanks for being who you are and doing what you do, we love having you around Redbubble.

Mr Baxter – Chief Officer of Sending You Good News

———————————————————————
1x Photographic Print of “”The Longest Dream”
Print Size: Large (610mm x 117mm)
Finish: Lustre

Your Margin: AU$14.22 (US$14.95)
———————————————————————

The sale details:

Retail Price: AU$39.17
Manufacturing fee: AU$24.95

Total Margin: AU$14.22 (US$14.95)

You’ll receive: US$14.95
———————————————————————

While $14.95 won’t buy me a new car, or even a full meal at a buffet, (ok, I think it would cover the buffet), I’m not complaining because when you’re as busted as I am, every penny counts.

Fine Art America is now telling me that they’re having “technical difficulties” with my print order. Here’s our problem: they want a crystal clear image (seeing how it’s a B&W landscape of trees in the rain) and fail to comprehend that the ADDED blur and grain they’re seeing on the image is very much intentional, as it is with many of my photos. I create mood with added film grain and gaussian blur- it’s present throughout many of my images. I create depth and mood with my textures. (This is why I’m fond of film cameras.) When shooting with a DSLR, I will purposefully jack up my ISO so that there is present grain in my photo- I also shoot only in monochrome, and RAW. (All manual.) Trying to explain this to somebody who is a “straight photographer/staff member” is beyond frustrating, because now I feel like she’s (“Dawn”) challenging my artistic merit.

The site is called “Fine ART America”, not Fine PHOTOGRAPHY America, and it pisses me off to no end that now, the staff can officially “interpret” what is and what is not- your art!

Would they tell a painter that he or she needs to resubmit a painting using “this or that” acrylic brand paint? Then why do so with a photographer? I intentionally muck up many of my images with blur and grain- that is my trademark style, and I’m known for that.

I wrote Dawn/Fine Art America back and told them all of this, to no avail, and she proceeded to tell me that I needed to reshoot the image (?!! “Are you for real, Dawn?!”) so that they can produce a higher quality photo without blurring or grain. GEH!!!

They. Just. Don’t. Get. It.

How unfair is it to the buyer, who’s paying $731 for that print- to assume that they’ll be getting what they ordered, all the while, behind the scenes, the staff is telling the artist to RESHOOT THE FRIKKING PHOTO and then- they’ll ship the buyer a completely different image than what the buyer ordered- without letting the buyer know!

I immediately lost respect for Fine Art America. Completely.

I told Dawn that I would not be reshooting or resubmitting a “new photo”, and challenging my artistic interpretation would not be tolerated, and that she had only two options:

1.) Print and ship the original, as the buyer intended, yes, I’m aware that it is 9 feet long. It IS supposed to be somewhat blurry if you’re looking at a 9 feet photo on your farging monitor, Dawn. You have to back up about 3 or 4 feet, Dawn!

2.) Release the buyer’s name and address so that I can deal with him or her directly.

I then gave Dawn my Redbubble link, that links her up with their # 1 competitor’s site, and showed her the 160 comments on that image, and how I’ve already been selling the same image there- with no complaints.

(And, again, have made another sale this morning in fact.)

Dawn considers this a “high risk print” because it’s 9 feet long.

I reminded Dawn that while they consider it “high risk” to print, if they didn’t go through with the order, it would be an even greater risk to them, because I will post a journal entry at Redbubble- and within one day- at least 5 countries would know about it by the end of the day.

All of my friends, buddies, pals, and acquaintances are all artists, all over the world. I don’t know many who’re not.

Dawn decided that she would contact the buyer and “inform him” of their troubles. I am livid.

They’re used to seeing landscapes that are crystal clear (etc. etc.) but I inject my own mood and presence into my work with my lighting, exposure, film grain and blur. It adds a retro-vintage feeling to the image that isn’t done in one little mouseclick. It’s not a simple filter that’s applied. It’s various layers (sometimes 20-25) and very much like a patchwork quilt, I will errase bits and pieces from each layer, blending and merging and blending and merging- much like painting- until the final piece has a certain depth and mood.

I’m waiting to hear back from Dawn/Fine Art America.

Will update soon.                                                       

                                                                                                                                                                     Land and Sea

 

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