Somebody Else

Blog, Photography

What seems like so long ago, this blog was created.  It started as part of the learning process, then developed into a journal of where I’d been and where I hoped to go.  I’ve kept up with it on and off… but mostly off… and there seems to be a pattern.

As soon as this pesky little voice in my head starts whispering “you need to”… take more pictures, produce more images, exhibit more, sell more… a wall goes up that keeps me from doing the very thing I want to do.  Sometimes it is a wall called envy, sometimes lack of inspiration, and sometimes it’s a clock reminding me that time is ticking away… and everything stops.

Over this last year and a half, it has been mostly about time… the lack of time… finding time, or just bad timing that has kept me from creating… from here.  So a few months back, I made a promise to myself – the weekend, especially before the sun rises (not hard because my sleep cycle is still on weekday time), is my time!  My time to ponder, to create, to be here… and to leave the to-do-list to somebody else or for another time.








Beginning to End

Blog, Pennsylvania Center for Photography, Photography

I’ve been promising for weeks. So here it is ~ how I create one of my compositions.

Oh Bear…  65 layers +/- in the making! One of my more involved works because all of the elements were taken by me, no stock images, and the birds don’t count because they are actually a brush.  Warning… this also made for a really lengthy post.  Ready, here it goes…

The Inspiration:  The movie Goodbye Christopher Robbin, a biographical about the author A.A. Milne and how Winnie-the-Pooh came to be, mixed with the 2010 version of Alice in Wonderland directed by Tim Burton, and some deeply connected mementos from my past.

The Main Characters:

The blank canvas… If I just walk a few feet more up the hill, a sea of rooftops would appear.

An old camera case about 12″x13″

All about the hair.

All about the bear.



The rough stages ~ The girl, the bear, and the suitcase.

There were many, many edits in between layers… tweaking the masking, to correcting colors, to warping objects, to cloning in this and out that.  So let’s move on…

Setting the Scene:

Not surprising that I got some funny looks as I staged this scene.



The teapot, teacups and saucers were shot on a black background making them relatively easy to mask.



Adding the chair, the teapot, and lots of cups!  It’s getting there.

Believability:   It’s all in the details.  Light – Keeping in mind when I took the first background scene where the sun was and direction of light on my indoor shots was an important first step so when placing things into the scene, the light matched.  Shadows – Notice I kept the girl’s shadow from the original, but the bear and the suitcase don’t have one, adding them is a must.  Or notice how the back of the chair is partially in shadow, indicating the sun was in a slightly different direction than on the girl; thus, the shadow on the back of the chair needed to be removed while keeping the shadow behind the chair.  The really really small details – Adding blades of grass in front of some teacups to make them appear in the grass and not on it, cloning grass from the chair image to match the grass of the background image and vice versa, and one of the biggest challenges make the bear walk, not float.

Mood:  And now the real fun.

The textures – This is the element that I find really helps set the mood by using just one texture or many, enhancing just a portion or the entire image to tie it all together, as well as using the color(s) or desaturating them leaving only texture behind, as well as changing the opacity, the blending mode, or all the above to achieve a dark and moody or bright and cheery image.  The possibilities are endless!  The sky – What better way to enhance a mood or completely change the story than by adding just the right sky or clouds… Sunrise, sunset, rain, snow, or a even a rainbow… each one tells a very different story.  Real or fantasy? I like it to be somewhere in between.   A little distortion can go a long way.  Distorting a building, a horizon, or even a bear can add a bit of whimsy and is a nice balance between real and fantasy.  Oh, and a few birds, of course can’t hurt.

Once again, between each new layer there were many many edits with many different tools.  Tool tip:  A relatively new technique to me, but now my go-to for adjusting a single area, big or small, even as small as a single teacup, is the curves adjustment.  I use the Lasso tool to select, then feather the selection quite a bit, hit Control (on a PC) + M to bring up the curves window, pulling the curve to lighten or darken, whether to bring out a little more detail, deepen shadow, or change the color.  Quick and easy!

The result:  The final image as it went to the printer and on display at the Transformations Exhibition

Oh Bear. . .




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The Long Road

Blog, Photography

Sometimes the best way back is to take a path you’ve already traveled…
The Pickup

Why is it that the things we love to do most always seem to be affected most?   For many reasons, let’s just call it life…  a change in schedule,  the amount of brain drain learning a new job, or just the obvious fact that it’s been a long cold winter…  I hit quite a rut.   This is when I know it’s time to simplify.

I started with my images, returning to something I know, a process I love… working with textures.  Oh how I’ve missed rummaging through that library… looking for the perfect texture, mixing textures to bring just the right mood, feel, atmosphere to the image.  And with so many programs, techniques, and tutorials out there, it is so easy to get bogged down in the process. . .  {sigh} so many starts and stops over the past few months.  I needed to dial it all back a notch.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve applied a handful of newly learned techniques in today’s image, but this time I knew which ones would get me there quickly and more importantly… when to stop.

Somethings can’t be changed… the number of hours in a day, the day job, the weather.  But I can change how I spend my time.  Like these weekend mornings, here, enjoying a cup of coffee, or two, and sharing what I love to do, only this time… keeping it short & sweet… so I have more time to work on the next image I want to share with you.

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It is the most…

Blog, Photography

Ok, maybe it’s not the most wonderful time of the year, but it’s up there.  Ideally, I reserve that title for my summer beach vacation.  It is the most hectic, the most colorful, and the most tradition-filled.  Even though I have gone the route of the artificial tree for some years now, it is still a tradition to spend almost an entire afternoon fluffing the darn thing.  But isn’t that what traditions are all about, recreating those special moments year after year.

There’s also a new trend in town… seems lighting your house with a laser light projector is growing in popularity, at least in this neighborhood.  Even though I continue to opt for the more traditional candles in windows and strings of lights on bushes, I’m thinking those displays are what led me to create this more nontraditional Christmas scene…

Cosmic Christmas.

The original – Lanterns at Longwood Gardens

Speaking of hectic, that’s about all the time I have for this week’s post… time to get wrapping.  I’m hopeful the New Year will be a little less crazy and I’ll have more time to head out with the camera, work on a few unfinished projects, and spend more time right here.

A little more traditional…  A very special friend has kept this little doodle of mine since our high school days (that is quite sometime ago). That makes it very special and I thought what a perfect way to share the joy









If I don’t get back here before the holidays, I’d like to wish everyone a very Merry Holiday and a Happy New Year!

Giving Thanks

Blog, Photography

Yes, I know it’s few days early, but it’s going to be one heck of a jam packed week… with all sorts of good things.  And I want to make sure during this time of being grateful, that I stop and say Thank You!  To those who follow this blog, and the family and friends that support, encourage, and inspire me throughout this photographic journey, I’m so very thankful.

There is always plenty of room at our table and in our hearts.

Wishing everyone a lovely Thanksgiving.