Seattle Center & Chihuly

spaceNeedle_ChihulyWe finally managed to stop in at the Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibition at Seattle Center this past weekend.  Kaitlyn loves the Seattle Science Center and who can blame her, but even as we’ve watched this new Chihuly exhibit rise up from nothing, once completed we kept walking right by it to the point where it’s now one year old.

I figured it would be cool, even awesome, but I had no idea it would be as spectacular as it is; so if you live in the Puget Sound area or you’re just visiting make sure to check it out.

seattle_center_butterfly1The image above is worked over in photoshop quite a bit to add some interesting effects which should print out well on canvas.

We also stopped at the butterfly exhibit as usual, where it’s really easy to fill up my camera’s CF card by holding down the trigger on the camera like it’s a machine gun.  It’s fun hearing that rapid fire shutter sound, but sorting through “the mess” can get tedious.  I only brought one card with me this time and I almost filled it; but sadly, no real kick butt shots in the lot.  Just this pretty average one.

And finally, I captured this shot of a wall catching the reflected light from Chihuly’s “ceiling room” which I doubt any photographer can walk by without taking a shot.

chihuly_wall1

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Spring Cleaning / Unleash The Beast!

Calling what’s been going on around here lately “spring cleaning” is like calling WWII a “border skirmish.”  Whew.  Writing a blog post feels like a huge break from the action, which isn’t about to let up any time soon.

Lots of perfectly good gear has gotten long in the tooth (or broken) and I’ve been intentionally putting off any updates as long as possible.  My Epson 4000 printer, which prints up to 17″ wide might seem large by conventional standards, but once the ink jet paper company Breathing Color made gallery wraps so easy, I quickly found out that I needed to upgrade to a 24″ wide printer.

epson_7900So what you see here, the Epson 7900, is now affectionately known as “The Beast,” as it seems to take up most of my office.  Carol is “thrilled” as you can well imagine. Dare to “Google” the ink prices some time if you find your blood pressure too low, it’s like asking for a quad shot at Starbucks.

 

If you don’t blink at the ink prices, it means you’re got too much money, or you own stock in Epson.

So my old print server PC died awhile back, not a huge deal, but then my graphics workstation started acting a little weird and the software I needed to upgrade has to run on a 64-bit operating system — which means I need to upgrade from Win/XP to Windoze 7 — and it’s time for a totally new PC!  About the best thing I can say about Win7 is that it doesn’t suck, but you can see that they’ve dumbed it down in an attempt to make it “intuitive” like Apple.  Was that really necessary?

The new PC rocks, but with the truckload of software that I run, it took quite awhile to get this thing totally configured and up to speed so that I can do everything on this PC and then just turn the old one into a print server.

A lot of these hardware upgrades are part of getting ready for a show I’m in; the Northwest Reptile Expo which is coming up fast — scheduled for May 11th in Renton, WA.  We’ve been going to these local reptile shows since Kaitlyn was about 4.  Finally after noticing that no one is ever selling any photography, not even cards at these shows, but there is a room full of buyers and hundreds and hundreds of people in a single day passing through the room, I got the bright idea that maybe this was a good target audience.  Duh.

retf1So, once again I created total chaos in our family room by turning it into a photo studio so I can get some Red Eyed Tree frog pictures.  When I showed the prints to Kaitlyn she said “FINALLY!”  because she knows I’ve been putting this task off for far too long.

Shooting frogs (or just about any animal) is more like an exercise in luck than anything else.  You might have an image in your head of what you’d like to capture or create, but the frog has a very different agenda.  Tree frogs might seem tough to shoot, but compared to Dart frogs, they’re practically narcoleptic, which is one reason I’ve been putting this off for so long.  This show is finally forcing me to get’r done.

As I start to get more of this work done and the images processed, I’ll be able to post more shots here.  This RETF (Red Eyed Tree Frog) image definitely isn’t what I intended when I started setting up, but it’s not too bad.  When I’ve spend 30 minutes just trying to get a frog to stay put on the target plant without even being able to pull the trigger and take a shot, I sometimes wish I was a painter, or even cleaning houses for a living.  ;o)

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Year of The Snake

February 10th marked the Chinese New Year.  The Year of the Snake.  The much maligned snake in many western traditions is seen very differently in eastern cultures.

Edmonds Beach Art by Kaitlyn

Edmonds Beach Art by Kaitlyn

So on Saturday we were at the beach when Kaitlyn found this large driftwood log and began to decorate it as a snake. Look for the rock eyes; the stick tongue was forked, but you can’t see it from this angle.  The picture was taken with Carol’s phone.  Taking my big camera to the dog beach would be a great way to ruin it with sand and salt water as the dogs like to jump all over me as we play; not just our three dogs, everyone else’s too.

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Kid Art and Sculpture

As you can tell from the name of this post, this is not about my art or photography, but about the art created by my daughter Kaitlyn and the sculpture of Mike O’Day.

In addition to creating his own art, Mike works with a lot of the local schools helping to teach the kids about ceramic sculpture  and it really gets them interested in this art genre.  Because of the whimsical and often magical/fantasy quality that his work projects, the kids are really drawn to it and excited to work with Mike any chance they get.   Kaitlyn is especially excited to see Mike and his creations when he comes to our house/studio for the Edmonds Art Studio Tour each September.  She’s already asked me about when is the next EAST show (Sept 21-22, 2013).

Mike had seen several drawings made by Kaitlyn over the last few years that interested him because, like Mike, she likes to create creatures that are not real, but are imaginary combinations of real or mythical animals, which is definitely Mike’s “gig.”  So we started to talk about how he might create a piece based on one of Kaitlyn’s ideas; embarking on this project without letting Kaitlyn know what we were up to.

“Snagonish” drawing by Kaitlyn

During EAST 2012, Mike asked her to create some drawings for him of mythical creatures, one of which is this critter to the right.

Once Mike and Kaitlyn decided on a drawing that they both liked, they decided to give it a mythical name, which is the “working text” you see on the drawing.

Mike also asked Kaitlyn what colors she thought this creature should be and made some notes about that.  She still had no idea that this was going to become a sculpture for her.

Obviously the next step was for Mike to go off and start his ceramic sculptural process; which he talks about here on his website.   But the end result was this really cool sculpture that is about 12 inches in height.  As you can see, Mike did a great job of staying true to Kaitlyn’s drawing, despite the challenges presented by rendering this creature in clay.  I did a lot of ceramics in both high school and college, so I can really appreciate how tough this one had to be to get through the entire process without parts breaking off or cracks showing up.

“Snagonish” by Mike O’Day

Kaitlyn was surprised to see Mike at our door one day with a box in hand, and didn’t really know what to say once Mike carefully pulled this sculpture out of the box.

I think she was in shock.  LOL.  I had told her nothing about this project, or that Mike was even coming over to our house that day.

She loves “Snaggy” and he sits in our dining room, which seems like the place least likely for an accident to happen.

ps … If you already viewed this post, I re-shot the image; didn’t like the first one all that much.

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Thanks, Judy

Judy Douglas, who runs the Studio Snapshots Blog was kind enough to include me in her mission and passion to look inside many of the artist’s studios in the area that will give people a glimpse into the many varied forms of art being created in the Edmonds and Puget Sound area.

I also got to help Judy do some customization of her WordPress blog, which turned out to be pretty informative.  I was able to research and fix some long standing shortcomings that are built into WordPress, but can be solved with various WP plugins.

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Business Plan of The Week

OK, so it’s not really a new plan, it’s just that I consider myself “The Buddha of Procrastination” — and I’ve had this sales idea in the back of my head for far too long before doing anything even remotely resembling what one might call “action.”

I’ve finally gotten around to printing on canvas and doing gallery wraps. Which is pretty cool and was finally made easy by Breathing Color. This presentation style works well for most images, but it seems to work especially well for a lot of my “critter” shots.

Kaitlyn and I go to all the local reptile shows, since she loves just about everything in nature that can move, even the stuff that most people consider not very appealing.  At these shows, I’ve noticed that someone is selling just about everything imaginable, including jewelry, but no one is selling photos, prints or cards of reptiles and amphibians (the very thing that people are there to look at and potentially buy).

I’ve wanted to jump into that niche and see how it goes for well over a year now, and I’ve finally gotten off my lazy butt and started to get organized.  So look for updates here about the shows I’ll be attending next year, as well as new photos of some exotic and colorful creatures.

The “thumbnail” frog pictured above is a “Green Imitator” dart frog from South America.  It was bred in the US, not taken from it’s native habitat.  I have 4 of them sitting in a vivarium about 12 inches from this keyboard.  A male frog in that tank loves to call all day long, with a sound that’s similar to a high pitched bird call.

I’m sure most people walk into my office and think, in the comedic whisper voice of Jim Gaffigan — “that guy is really weird” … but hey, it’s fun.

To automatically be notified via email when new posts are made here, just sign up (it’s a private list of mine and won’t be shared with anyone).

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Texture?

Hungarian Texture

In my seemingly never ending search for the ultimate texture image, I think I may have finally hit the wall (or door as the case may be).

This was shot in a small village about an hour outside of Budapest.

It looks pretty good printed on canvas so far, but I plan to try it on Elegance Velvet, the heavy art paper as well.

But this one really rocks as a gallery wrap, it looks like you could grab the handle and open the door.

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It’s Good to be Lucky

The Gift of Spring

One of my old favorite sayings is — “it’s not always good to be good, but it’s always good to be lucky.”

I walk out my front door this morning and here is this amazing snail right next to my porch.  I’ve never seen another one like it, but then, I don’t normally go around looking for snails, so maybe they are not so rare.

Anyway, I think “he/she” looks a lot better than the big brown slugs that are trying to eat my garden lettuce.

So, I grab my camera, slap on the 100mm macro lens, and as more luck would have it, the fern the snail is pictured on has just come out from it’s winter rest a few feet away, so I plunk the snail onto a fern branch and start shooting like a madman.

I expected the snail to not be really happy about getting repeatedly lifted and placed into various shooting angles which work better for the light and composition, but nope, this dude was on a mission to get somewhere, and fast, so he wasn’t wasting a moment inside his shell.  Atta Boyeee.

If that isn’t blind luck, I don’t know what is.  I’ll take it!

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Edmonds Art Festival

Cairns Sunrise

This photo, “Cairns Sunrise” was just accepted into the juried show at the Edmonds Arts Festival, which takes place on Father’s Day weekend, June 15-16.

It’s printed on canvas or art paper and framed with no glass which is the only way I’ve found for it to really “pop.”

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Casey

Casey on the Beach, April 2012

As some of you may know, on March 15th two of our three dogs, Lucy and Buddy, were killed by a car after getting out during the night.

Casey is our new German Shepherd puppy (born on Jan 9th).  She’s going to be a great dog, but right now the puppy chewing stage has earned her the nickname “Jaws.”

Once she reaches her full size, around 80 lbs, the sight of her and Rocky (8 lbs) walking together on the beach should be pretty funny.  She is relentless right now in wanting to play with him.  He’s doing pretty well with her high energy assaults on him.

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