Friday, December 17, 2010

Two scanned negs from Mamiya 645e

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Two images from the very first roll of Neopan 400 I put through my Mamiya 645e. Shot with 55mm f/2.8N lens, no filter (wish I have bought at least a yellow filter). Developed with the very last bit of Agfa Rodinal B&W developer I bought from Kaufmans Camera in San Mateo 8 months ago. I am sad that I have now used up my Rodinal :( Tried to bid on an old unopened 500ml bottle of Rodinal yesterday but my slow fingers let me down and I was outbid.

The Mamiya 645e performed admirably. It was light enough with the lens that as long as I have plenty of light I could shoot handheld (otherwise tripod and MLU do the trick). Mamiya 645 MF lenses are tack sharp (and inexpensive). Currently I have the 55mm f/2.8N and 150mm f/4 N lenses, figure I like to shoot landscape and street/documentary photography, the 55mm and 150mm should serve me well. Still debating whether I really want to get the 120mm f/4 macro...

"Church, Scottsdale Old Town, Mamiya 645e, 55mm f/2.8N lens, Neopan 400 Acros, Rodinal developer"

"Graffiti door, downtown Phoenix, Mamiya 645e, 55mm f/2.8N lens, Neopan 400 Acros, Rodinal developer"

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I am very glad to have "traded" in the monstrous RB67ProSD for the Mamiya 645e set up. It may sound at first glance that I have traded down. It is just the opposite. The goal here is to increase the "utility value" to me. I am thrilled to be able to take the Mamiya 645e with me on my photography outing now..

Came across photography books on André Kertész (1894-1985) while browsing on eBay for more photography stuffs on my wish list (I am now officially an ebay junkie - only for things related to classic cameras and art stuffs though). I could not resist and finally bought myself a wonderful book - André Kertész: The Polaroids
- a treasure of beautiful Polaroid images taken by the photographer with the Polaroid SX-70 camera, a gift from his friend Nash and wife Susan (of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young). These Polaroid images were taken in his Manhattan apartment "literally" in the late 70s/early 80s. Kertész was already in his 80s and had just lost his beloved wife and companion of four decades......It is a very moving photo book, a story of a highly talented photographer who finally found solace in his art and continued to create these beautiful imagery until his death in 1985

I quote now something from the book,
When mystified viewers, many of whom owned the same model of camera, asked how he got such remarkable results, Kertész explained,"You have to learn the limits of the medium, then learn to work on the edges of those boundaries"
How true!! His work speaks volume of his mastery of composition and the magical light.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Just Launched :) My PrintBusinessCards.Com Portfolio

I wish I could say I have accomplished a lot more lately as far as furthering my photography interests goes, but family has come first and work has been busy.

I landed my hands on a classic Canon QL 17 GIII rangefinder and am ecstatic about it. It belongs to my sister and she acquired it in the early 80s. I had to replace the light seal but that was not too difficult with readily available information shared by others on many blogs and forums. 99 cents 8.5 x 11 black craft foam from Michaels ,some acetone and double sided tape did the trick.

The other notable event was I sold my Mamiya RB67 ProSD with 90mm lens, to fund the acquisition of a Mamiya 645e with two prime lenses. Well, I wanted to shoot more medium format outdoor and the Mamiya 645e is a plastic shell with a metal body and considerably lighter than the monstrous RB67. This means I can take the medium format camera out with me to farmers market and be "slightly" incognito and don't break my back doing so. I have finished putting a roll of Neopan 400 through it and the results are wonderful. Mamiya MF lenses are awesome and very inexpensive today. The images are sharp, crisp!!.

As soon as I can get a decent scan of the images I shot with the Mamiya and Canon rangefinder, I will post them on my blogs. Shall write a review on both cameras.

Dgital is the medium I use most for obvious reasons but traditional black and white film photography is really my ultimate escape :)

Coming back to project no 3, I finally signed up with as a contributor. A short learning curve and a few weeks later, I am officially a contributor/artist and so I wanted to share that. Above is a screen grab of my portfolio is good to have another channel to show my work and generate a little income to pay for an expensive (but satisfying) endeavor.... :)

Do check them out Here...added to my To Do List: design 20-30 more templates in the coming weeks.
Cheers...Happy shooting

Bryan Peterson's Understanding Photography Field Guide: How to Shoot Great Photographs with Any Camera

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Working with layers and borders

Working with layers and art borders can be very rewarding especially if you have good photos to use as starting point. Here are a few examples of the end result.

I remember someone once said it can be very addictive if you are the creative type as the possibilities are endless....


"Abstract No 9"

Here I wanted to make the young rider appear in a novel (hence the open pages of an old book)......

"young cowboy"

Hope you like them as much as I do.
Happy shooting and creating

Saturday, September 25, 2010

A day of creative fun with Photoshop Elements and Canon Digital Professional Software

The day started with me trying to figure out how to make a nice looking copyright watermark for my photos using the software I already have in my possession: Photoshop Element 2.0 among other freebies that came with the camera and scanner (yes, I know I really should get a copy of Element 8.0 which has many more features but I am cheap) (wink). While searching on the web hoping to find an update for the Canon EOS Viewer Utility I have, I came across a download for Canon Digital Professional Software on Canon Australia site (link here). It was a fruitful discovery as the EOS Viewer Utility update was nowhere to be found and the Canon Digital Professional Software turned out to be far most powerful. It works like a charm and is rather similar to Lightroom Beta 3.0.

"Santa Monice pier boardwalk at dusk"

I ended up making quite a few copyright layers for future use; grey, faded white, embossed etc. The faded white © was used here as you can see. It is not clearly visible yet it is there in the center of the image so it does not interfere with aesthetics of the image. The process is a breeze once you have done a few and you will be able to make many variations to suit each image. The "©" symbol can be found in Character Map in Windows (My Program -> Accessories -> System Tools -> Character Map). Copy and paste that onto a new layer. Make sure you select transparent for the layer. Once you are happy with the placement of the symbol, adjust the opacity to 15-22% save the file in psd format. Voila, your copyright layer is ready to use. To add to your image, just move or drag it to the image, move it to the position you want (center is the choice), adjust its size with Free Transform. Remember to lock the aspect ratio so it does not turn into some strange looking oblong C.

The above image of three apples came from an uninspiring photo I shot a while back. Despite it being a really flat and boring shot, I thought it has the potential as a starting image for my art. First I tweaked the levels a touch to make it look more dramatic, then a pass with an artistic filter. I also adjusted the stroke width to make it look more impressionist. I then added a little noise to arrive at the resulting antique look. Now it is looking like the old Parisian serving tray I shot the image in. When I get it printed, I shall don an old classic wooden frame around it before it goes up the wall next to my book collection :)

"Three peaches"

Moral of the story? It always helps to have a decent photo to start with. I know that is highly subjective but after a while you will be able to spot one that holds promise and one that is going to be a disaster no matter what you do to it. The above photo was a shot I almost deleted. My camera was set on a tripod but the peach in front swayed just as I clicked the shutter resulting in a distracting fleeting shadow. Here I tweaked the RGB colors individually and adjusted the hues which produced a rather pleasing image in the end.

I had a day of creative fun. I am going to print at least one of them in a poster size format using an online print shop, which will really be the test if my rendition is any good......I shall post a follow up blog then.

Here is the link to Canon Digital Professional Software in case someone is interested.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Mother and Child at the Beach

I remember this day vividly. It was a gorgeous summer day in southern California. I was up early that day, my camera backpack was there all packed ready to go. I always enjoy spending a few hours on weekend driving along the beautiful coast, stopping to take pictures. A peaceful quiet morning on Pacific Coast Highway (fondly called PCH), only bright jersey clad cyclists and a few fancy cars on the road. It was still early, traffic usually does not pick up on PCH on a Sunday morning until after 10 o'clock. My Sunday routine would conclude with a stroll on the boardwalk at the pier in Santa Monica, a cuppa of morning latte in my hand.

It was indeed a glorious day at the pier. Southern California is blessed with many days like this. It was a refreshing morning walk and one that rejuvenates my soul. As I walk along the boardwalk, I saw a mother and child, beach towels in hand, ready to spend a blissful day together. It was a beautiful scene, a series of shots which I would later capture with my Canon 10D and 70-200 f/4L zoom. Below is one of them available for sale on BigStock

Buy this image of mine at Bigstock

It was a very endearing picture that warms my heart....a young girl and her mommy enjoying a day at the beach together. No TV, no electronic games, just sand castles and each other. After a few minutes, the young girl was happy the towel no longer has any sand, she put the towel down on her mommy and gave her mommy a big hug......

Stock Photos, Royalty Free Stock Photography, Photo Search

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Online Gallery and CafePress

I have made a change to where I host my photography, I decided to give ClusterShot a try. Why? I like the professional look and the watermark tool that comes with the Pro Account. The site looks professional, simple and easy to navigate (no print/print shop tie up though, something to consider if that is important to you). Storefront features are still a little bare bone at this juncture being a new site. The photographer sets the selling price and, hopefully ClusterShot do a lot of marketing and get pageviews and buyers to the site. For me, it is a place to showcase some of my work. On my part, the gallery links on my blog will help drive traffic to my storefront. I have only just joined, so this in some ways is still a test drive. So far so good, and yes, I closed my account at Smugmug (no major reason that prompted my decision but the simple look and feel of ClusterShot fits my need better).

If you want to check it out ClusterShot, here is a link to my ClusterShot gallery

Now, onto other avenues to sell one's work. I have had a store on CafePress for some time now, never gotten around to updating it with my latest images since setting it up. Occasionally there would be a sale or two here and there, nothing to shout about but it always puts a smile on my face each time. It is nice someone likes my photography enough to want to buy something with my photography on it:) Most folks found them through web searches, perhaps for a specific gift for someone or for themselves, a unique T-shirt, sweat shirt or a cotton tote bag (my favorite). Here are two of my own favorites:
CafePress link

I have always loved everything cotton, T's, totes. I find them comfortable and durable. This preference is probably rooted since childhood growing up in Southeast Asia. With day time temperature often in the high 90s if one is not standing in the shade, a cotton T-shirt keeps the sweltering heat at bay and one's body cool whether rain or shine. I recalled while we were on our sailboat anchoring in Bahia Santa Maria on the Baja coast, we exchanged some old T-shirts (we did not have any new ones barter) for 3 fresh gigantic lobsters from the Baja fishermen (they never tasted so good). So I am old fashioned, I treasure my comfy cotton t's until they are totally worn out. Also, cotton is a natural material, so it is more bio-degradeble and better for the environment than many man made synthetic material we clothe ourselves in today.

CafePress Link

Anyway, not to digress. Back to stock photography. Things have been a little tumultous of late, small sites getting acquired by the big guys and even smaller ones had disappeared as recession hit severely affecting demand for stock photos by the advertisers and web designers. Many saw their income from stock photography sites stagnant and some saw significant reduction. However, it is a good time to bury deep and perfect one's craft, tighten's one photography portfolio, by that I mean focus on a genre or two one excels in and be really good at it. Most important of all, I think enjoy doing photography. Used equipment have gotten much cheaper of late. I found myself acquiring an extra camera equipment or accessory here and there like in the case of the RB67 ProSD camera set for a mere $280. Finally it does not hurt to explore new avenues to sell one's photos, whether that is on CafePress, ImageKind, Etsy, Blurb, or a host of others.

Click here to go to my online gallery at ClusterShot

Last but not least, it is important to have a website/an online gallery to showcase one's work if one could find a reasonably priced deal. It all depends on your needs and the message you want to communicate, whether you do this for a living or as a hobby. In my case, ClusterShot works for me and so I decided to use the site to show my photography.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A memorable outing to Niles Canyon

It is that time of the year and work has me buried with no time left for photography. As such, I have only been able to run two rolls of 120 films through my new "used" RB67 Pro SD I bought in Feb. This past weekend I finally had the negs scanned by a "pro" lab so I could use them for my blog entry. I have to say I am not entirely happy with the resulting scan, the overall color seems off with a light blue hue to it. Since I won't be able to do any darkroom printing myself for a few more weeks, I will have to contend with using these scanned images for now. The negs do look 200% better on my lightbox.

Below are a few images from the second roll. It was a Neopan 400. What happeded to roll #1? Ah, that is an embarassing story, I messed it up. (and it was a Velvia! uugh!!) How? you ask. Simply, I loaded the film the wrong way, with the paperback facing the camera body. Not until I was removing the exposed film from the cassette did I realise I had made such a blunder! (silly me. It is easy to do though. The way the cassette comes apart for loading can be confusing first time around. Long story short, I learned my lesson and I will never do it again)

"stone statuette of a child playing at the park, entrance to Sunol city park, RB67 Pro SD, 95mm f/3.5, low res digital scan"

Did not have to work that day, sunday March 28th for a change, and I was looking for a new place to visit for photography. A good friend had told me about Niles Canyon a charming town of quaint saloon style storefront....It sounded rather promising and off I went, heading northeast early morning on 680N. Gorgeous oak studded hills and crisp fresh morning breeze greeted me as I drove on Niles Canyon road along Alameda Creek. Unfortunately there was no way I could pull over for photography as the 7 mile long winding country road was also rather narrow. Population of about 900, (I was told), Niles Canyon has one main street of beautifully restored saloon style shops (remember old westerns?), a beautiful church named "the Little Brown Church of Sunol" built in 1885, a small post office, a city park and a historic Sunol train depot (circa 1884). Nestled in the charming hideaway are many private homes, pied-à-terre for some perhaps and homes for others that I would be imagine are so inviting to come home or escape to on weekends.

"A man chatting with the crew of locomotive 2472 before the train set out on its 5 mile excursion. RB67 ProSD, 95mm f/3.5, Fuji Neopan 400, low res digital scan, Lightroom Beta Sepia filter"

As you can see, I got lucky :) The Sunday morning I was there happened to be the weekend of the first of three Golden Gate Railroad Museum excursions of 2010. Organized in partnership with the Pacific Locomotive Association, the Golden Gate Railroad Museum train ride takes families aboard vintage Southern Pacific locomotive No. 2472 through the beautiful canyon hills. Many families came to join the fun and kids got their history lesson. There were photographers from as far as Santa Cruz and it was a real treat for all.

"Crew of locomotive 2472, (a scene one could only find in the movies today perhaps?). RB67 ProSD, 95mm f/3.5 Fuji Neopan 400, low res digital scan, Lightroom Beta Aged Photo filter"

"Southern Pacific locomotive 2472, Canon 10D, Tamron 17-35"

Finally for all you steam engine enthusiasts, here is a link to Golden Gate Railroad Museum, one of the organizers of the March 27-28, 2010 excursions. Be sure to mark your calendar for the next family event.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Recommended Reading List

My home library is full of good books, on photography, wine country and the financial markets. I must say books and my cameras are my most treasured possessions. Not sure if I will ever go the Kindle way, I just much prefer to have a book in my hand, mark the page with my favorite bookmark before putting it down at the end of the day only to continue reading the day after. I am always in the hunt for good reads, whether it is online on Amazon or eBay or at the weekend flea markets, the same way I love seeking out old cameras and anything related to art and wine to add to my collection.

Since I have so many books I love, I thought I put together this simple page with six books I feel an aspiring photographer should not pass up.

read more on my Home Page

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Livermore Wine Country and Altamont Pass Wind Farm

The weather was wintry, forecaster had called for a partly cloudy day. I wanted to take a drive and get some fresh air away from the city and thought I should venture out to Livermore to see how the grapevines are shaping up thus far. Northern California has had a whole year's worth of rain already - could it wreck havocs to the year's vintage? I wonder...Anyhow, my excuse for driving 50 minutes northeast to the pretty rolling hills countryside despite the menacing rain clouds hovering over my head most of the journey. .
I was not too optimistic about getting decent shots. Well, the sky did clear (long enough for me to take a couple of nice shots of the wind generators towering on the hills along Altamont Pass). I did not really mind the cloudy sky, to me it just added to the mood. The intermittent sun and dark clouds and its shadows falling on the rolling pastures made for beautiful landscape. There is always photo ops I reminded myself. The real reason for my little escape today was that I had acquired a nice (well used) Mamiya RB67 Pro SD with 90mm f/3.5 KL/L lens and a 120 film back last Sat all for a mere $280 and I have been dying to use it. I had a roll of 120 Velvia in hand and thought I should take it out for a "test drive". The RB67 Pro SD is soooo heavy, weighs a good 6+ lbs not counting my tripod :(. I weigh a mere 110 lbs and have a 5 ft frame!! This is going to be fun.....My shoulder will probably hurt tonight but what did they say about chasing your hobby (my passionate pursuit of something called photography). I had just the right backpack for it though....a new backpack I got last Xmas (it even has a touch of champagne pink fabric on the front) See pictures below. It is pretty large but not overly large for me, with straps on both sides so I could strap a tripod on it (barely though) (the main selling point of the backpack). I was able to pack my RB67 ProSD body with the 90mm lens and 120 film back, my Pentax digital spotmeter, Canon 10D with a wide angle lens and even a Holga which I had a couple of frames left that I wanted to finish. I quickly loaded everything in my car, and drove north on 680 and then 84 in the direction of Livermore at 7:30am.

A few comments from the trip:

First of all I love the RB67 ProSD...I am all smitten by it. The waist level viewfinder is so very bright, what a world apart from the viewfinder of 35mm SLR. Second, there are a few safety locks so one will never accidentally click that shutter without cocking the level and winding the film forward. Third, multi exposure on same frame is a breeze, just set it and adjust for stops and shoot away. Fourth, I don't have to rotate the entire camera to change from vertical to horizontal shot or vice versa, just rotate the film back, WOW!! (that is such a brilliant idea). Finally, it is all mechanical, no worries of camera battery dying on me just when that perfect moment presents itself!!

It is HEAVY!!! but it is such a joy to use....The only way for me to use it is to shoot on a tripod (a good habit anyway)

The images posted above were from my Canon 10D, as I need to finish the roll of 120 Velvia and as soon as I have it develop, I will update with some images...can't wait.

Finally, this is the day I decided to leave all my Canon DSLR lenses at home except for the wide angle because it would simply be way too heavy. I wish I had them expecially the 70-210 f/4. Anyhow, I had also inadvertently set the image size on the Canon 10D to small (uugh)!!! I was so grateful I had shot a roll of Velvia on the RB67, I never have to worry about accidentally setting the wrong image size with film camera. I was reminded of how pros used polaroid to do test shots before the advent of digital camera. Well mine sure look like polaroid samples now, good for web use:(. So much for agonizing over whether to leave my other lenses at home. On a good note, I did find a couple of spots that would be awesome for black and white photography and as soon as my films arrive from Adorama this week, I shall head out there to shoot more!!

"my beloved new backpack" It has a rather large top camera compartment where I put the medium format camera and a second bottom compartment for a second camera, seen here in the picture. Here is a link to Amazon's Cuscus Amazon store I can't seem to find the same backpack on their store anymore, I remember reading that it was out of stock. They have some really nice hiking backpacks tho :)

Find Camera Backpackson Amazon

Looks like dust spots have found their way into my Canon 10D again, time to cough out some money to get the sensor cleaned again!! With film cameras, one never have to worry about sensor dust spots.

A footnote about the wind farm, these towering wind generators do make a constant swirling (humming) noise (sort of like sound of a quiet engine running constantly). It is very audible indeed at the foothills some 400 ft down and I understand now why some farmers in the midwest objected to their neighbors starting a wind farm as a way to subsidize their farm income

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Forces of Nature at Work at the Mavericks at Half Moon Bay

This is my second weekend in San Jose, I had initially planned to drive to the coast yesterday, Capitola or Half Moon Bay, my two favorite NO CA beach towns but in the end settled on more pressing task at hand - that of clearing my stuffs out of storage. Yesterday was the day of the famous Mavericks Surf competition with top surfers from around the world. Local evening news were reporting moderate size waves Friday and they were not sure if there would be good wave actions for the competition. The organizers were optimistic though. When I got back to the house, I saw the competition had made news nationwide, the giant 40-50 foot waves and two rogue waves that had swept onto the beach where the breakwaters and the organizer's tents were set up and swept a group of spectators off their feet, seriously injuring quite a number of them. The location of the bay explained how that could happen, ridges underneath the ocean a few miles out meant that given the right element the waves could build and become much larger as they approach the shoreline. I learned later that the waves were the largest waves ever, 40-50 ft high and adrenaline rush for even the most accomplished surfers. If I had gone to watch the competition, I probably would have ventured out to the beach to get a close shot of the surfers riding the giant waves, instead of shooting from the cliffs above...I could easily have been one of those injured....Scary thought.

Link to the story in San Jose Mercury News
Heavy surfs at Mavericks injured at least 15 spectators

An article I wrote awhile back about Half Moon Bay

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Santana Row, Silicon Valley's answer to Rodeo Drive

In the Bay area for a project again, more specifically in San Jose. Was fortunate enough to find a place to stay near Santana Row and so I took the opportunity to take a morning stroll to Santana Row today, my very first weekend in town. There was light drizzle and intermittent sun. I enjoyed a nice cuppa of latte at Starbucks, read the morning paper and proceeded to do a bit of photography.

If you have never been to Santana Row, you must plan a visit soon. It is the most trendy place in town, with chic stores, restaurants, wine bars, and luxury apartments atop the fashionable boulevards. A place where the young and fashionable would want to be seen and hang out with friends. It is easy to get to on 280 exiting at Winchester, a quick drive from Silicon Valley. Starbucks and Peet's coffee complete both ends of the two large city blocks. I mustn't forget to mention the weekly Sunday farmers market there that is popular with local folks adn visitors alike. See links below for listings of Farmers markets in the area.

Santana Row was built to rival Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills and it is as charming and upscale as the famed Rodeo streets. Sidewalks lined with flowers and wooden lazy chairs to relax in next to the many gardens and fountains that make the area a city oasis. For all you jazz fans out there, the San Jose Summer Jazz festivals kicks off late August so mark your calendar.

San Jose Mercury News Farmers market listing

An alternate listing of farmers market in the Bay Area listing.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Wonderful Visit to Old Tucson Studios

Finally made it to Tucson yesterday.......magnificent blue sky, expansive landscape welcomed us as we headed east towards Tuscon on 10. I have never seen such a beautiful clear day, devoid of haze and the usual desert dusts, courtesy of the torrential downpour of the past 4 days. The time of the day seem suited for the kind of photography I wanted to do, old rugged western town and an arid desert backdrop. It was between 2-4pm, good hard shadows, and a beautiful sky of puffy white clouds. Starting out almost noon, we only managed to visit one place - Old Tucson Studios it was well worth the 2 hours drive from Phoenix. See pictures below.

I am definitely not done with Tuscon yet ...... downtown 4th street Old Pueblo area is next and I am heading back to this place for more photography.

I shot both digital and flim/slides. This time I went a little more prepared. I even had my Holga with me and was able to get a couple of frames on the Velvia 120 slide film. The only regret was we had arrived late and we had only a little over an hour before the studio closed for the day. A little history of the place for those who love old Western classoc: Old Tucson Studios hosted over 300 film and television productions since 1939, including many Western film classics such as "Tomstone, The Outlaw", and others starrring John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Elizabeth Taylor, Kurt Russell and the likes. The roll of Ilford FP4+ 125 that I have been carrying around with me since my visit to Sedona was finally finished and I am developing the roll today. Can't wait.

Having now visited Apache Junction, Goldfield Ghost Town in the east, Sedona in the north, downtown Phoenix, Tempe and its university town and now a bit of Tucson, Tucson wins top spot hands down as far as photoshoot location in Arizona (thus far until more destinations are added :)). The landscape enroute on 10E was breathtaking, tall cacti flourishing in the parks, wild flowers are starting to bloom. It was a Saturday and cyclists were out on their mountain bikes tackling the gorgeous challenging terrain. A hike in the park around the Old Tucson Studios is in order as soon as the weather warms up a little....There is so much to photograph, dramatic desert landscape, nature, old Western movie sets, cowboys, horses and more. A feast for the eyes and my beloved cameras.....It was a good day - a GREAT Day!!

Of all the film sets, Chinese Alley was my absolute was a little of the old Chinatown if you will, all before your eyes....

More photos of Old Tucson Studios taken yesterday on my Smugmug page here : JC's Old Tucson Studios Photo page

Click here to go to Old Tucson Studios website

Sunday, January 10, 2010

GIMP 2.6 - Mixed Media Experiments

This was quite refreshing. I started with two of my favorite photos I took some time back. The first an image I took of two young girls, two latino sisters, playing in the sand on the beach at Santa Monica Pier, their pretty long hair blowing in summer breeze. It was a much cherished photo in my own collection. Ever since I took that picture (image available for download on stock photo sites), a different image has formed in my mind, that of it taking on an impressionist look, perhaps of an oil painting or a water color feel to it. I wanted to paint the image on canvas then a thought came to mind that I should work with GIMP's artistic filters to see what it would look like. Well, below are the end results. I am actually a little embarrassed, because I had just transformed my photo into art using GIMP filters (the wonderful software technology) and not with my paint brushes. talk about feeling guilty :(

The second photo was that of a lone canoeist kayaking in the channels of Santa Barbara harbor on a beautiful Sunday morning. I had driven up to Santa Barbara with my sister who was visiting from the east Coast. While strolling along the boardwalk and soaking in the beautiful scenery, I saw canoeist pulling into one of the channels dotted with sailboats tied to their slips. I sprang to action, shot a couple of frames and they are some of my favorites. It was a perfect day, blue sky, sailboats reflecting in turquoise water.

This was probably the first time I have truly tested GIMP ever since I installed it on my laptop a few months back. I am a Photoshop user, and until now have used GIMP sparingly. All in all, GIMP operates very similarly to Photoshop CS. The only things to be mindful of is that it does crash from time to time, not major and all I have to do is relaunch it. Apparently they have fixed it in later versions. GIMP is a freeware, and I could not have asked for more from an open source freeware.

If you want to really dig in and use all the functionalities of this great freeware, you can spend a little money getting this book Beginning GIMP: From Novice to Professional, Second Editionfrom Amazon. It is a mere $31 and well worth the money!!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Sedona, Apache Junction and Superstition Mountain

It has been a while since my last post. I have been busy attending to family matters and that always comes first. In the meantime, we relocated to Glendale, Arizona over Thanksgiving holiday and that was a feat in itself, packing up the hundreds of books we have acquired over the years and treasures and trinkets we collected. The reason for the move was two-fold. First, a better project had come along for him and second, the opportunity for me to be in Arizona made this an easy decision. The lure of the beautiful US Southwest canyon landscape, seeing them first hand and visiting the many national parks in Arizona and New Mexico, and Sante Fe and Taos only half a day's drive away, the move was a dream come true. Though Washington was only my home in the winter months, the cold and gloomy wintry weather in southern Washington had taken a toll in me. I was missing the sunshine I had become so accustomed to and it was time to have a new adventure.....

We situated ourselves rather quickly in Arizona soon after we arrived into town and went about exploring the area the following weekend.

"movie memorabilia of the Apacheland film set, was told many famous western movie scenes were made there"

"The Church at Superstition Mountain, Apache Creek, Arizona"

Both photos above were from our day trip to Superstition Mountain, Apache Junction and Goldfield Ghost Town. Pictures below from our trip to Sedona, both places warrant many more trips in Spring and Fall for serious photography. I will be up there again as soon as my schedule permits. I can only imagine how beautiful it must be come Spring with wildflowers in the valley beds amidst the majestic towering red rocks and mesas.

"Arid desert landscape along Highway 17N before Prescott, AZ"

"Stunningly beautiful red walls and mesas, sculptored by forces of nature, shades of red, brown and peach and every color in between. A feast for the eyes. Sedona, AZ"