Robyn Graham Photography

Beginning, Middle, or End?

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“Life is not so much about beginnings and endings as it is about going on and on and on. It is about muddling through the middle.” ~ Anna Quindlen

Are you in a place of a new beginning, muddling through the middle, or at the end of something good, something bad, or something you’ve already muddled through?

Please check out my Thursday post on Monochromia.  I posted a photograph of another Star Magnolia, but from a completely different perspective.

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A Weekend of Art

Affections

Inviting all of my local followers (and anyone who can travel) to stroll through Doylestown for the second Annual Doylestown Art Days.  Local shops and businesses will be adorned with work by local Bucks County artists from June 4th to 7th.  My photography will be hanging in Booktenders Secret Garden located at: 42 E State St, Rear Plaza, Doylestown, PA 18901.

When you stop in to see my work, be sure and have Ellen, the owner of Booktenders, help you with all of your summer reading lists – support local artists and business owners and check items off of your “to do” list all at once!

 

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Colorful Oil and Water

I have recently seen several blog posts that inspired me to play around with oil, water, light and color.  So, a few days ago, that is just what I did.  Below you will find the outcomes of my artistic experiment.  But first, I want to acknowledge the women who inspired me to attempt this moment of creative play.

Rachel Cohen at RCNaturephotos

Beverly Everson at Beverly Everson Photography

Edith Levy at Edith Levy Photography

The links are posted in the order in which I saw the photographs of inspiration.

My creations using oil, water, color and light:

Pastel Oil in Water (Antique Buttons, Oil, Water, and Light)
Pastel Oil in Water
(Antique Buttons, Oil, Water, and Light)
Unity (Rose Petals, Oil, Water, and Light)
Unity
(Rose Petals, Oil, Water, and Light)
Unity II (Rose Petals, Oil, Water, and Light)
Unity II
(Rose Petals, Oil, Water, and Light)
Drama (Antique Marbles, Oil, Water, and Light)
Drama
(Antique Marbles, Oil, Water, and Light)

Anyone who knows me knows that I am not very patient.  Impatience is certainly a fault I am trying to overcome and this was a great exercise for that.  When I tell you I spent quite a bit of time trying to create a unique piece of art I am not exaggerating.  It looked like a bomb went off in my work area.  Oil, dishes of water, a vase of flowers, jars of marbles and buttons, towels, etc., etc. all over the place.  But, it was fun!

The other brilliant photographers that I introduced above may have additional advice for this type of project, but here are a few things I learned:

  • Need a small glass dish without a logo on the bottom
  • Need a slightly larger dish to place the subject in just under the dish of oil and water
  • Need just a little bit of water
  • Need just a bit of oil
  • Oil will settle into a big circle so you need something to break the large bubble apart and/or shape it – I used a rose stem
  • When breaking up larger bubbles, little bubbles form and you must be patient for them to dissolve or merge into a larger bubble of oil
  • Textured items do not work as well
  • Use a shallow depth of field
  • Have great light
  • Equipment I used: Nikon D800, Nikon 60mm 2.8 macro

I can’t wait to hear which image is your favorite.  They are all unique because of the subjects under the oil and water….of course I had to use a flower! 😉

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Wonder of Light

Wonder of Light
Wonder of Light

I dream of days gone by

As warm, golden light gently kisses my hair.

I move, cautiously,

Along the rocky bed of the stream.

The crisp water sweetly caresses my skin

While I gaze through

Reflections of trees and clouds

Seeking a treasure similar to those

Found on warm summer afternoons

Of my youth.

At once my eyes come to a glistening stone.

I bend to grasp it.

It slips through my fingers.

The water swirls around my slender wrist as

 I reach for the smooth stone

 floating to its resting place.

I once again capture my prey.

I bring it up to the glow of the mid-day sun.

It shimmers as though it was

Inlaid with diamonds.

A smile cannot be contained

As the days hunt produces a

Treasure without measure.

copyright Robyn Graham

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Vision vs. Technique

SmileMake Art – My Interpretation of Graffiti

I recently read a blog post “Wow, how did you do that?” by Cole Thompson, an amazing photographer.  If you have a minute, I encourage you to read it.  For those who don’t have time, here is the part of the article that really spoke to me.

“However when I see people focusing on technique first, I find they usually never get around to putting that same energy into finding their Vision, and as a result their work is technically perfect and masterfully imitative. Technique alone misses the mark.

So instead of focusing on Photoshop and its hundreds of features or following the latest fad technique, put most of your time and energy into your Vision. I promise you that this approach will yield better images and much more satisfying results.

Technique is not the key to a great image. Vision is.” – Cole Thompson

I am so thankful for Mr. Thompson’s words of wisdom! I have had so many conversations recently through which I have been told that I need to master Photoshop and manipulating images because that is the way to go. I have always held to my belief that shooting to capture my vision is the best way to work – I suppose I am a purist, but I want to capture what I see, what I feel, and what is inspiring me. I want to use the light to make my images, not have to go back at the end of the day to try to make what I thought I saw by using a technique that someone else is using.  To me, that would then become me using a vision that belonged to someone else.  I don’t want to lose my vision, or myself to what others think I should be doing to be successful.  Success will come with patience and through hard work and sharing my vision.  The beauty of working with my vision, and using manual settings on my camera and not focusing on a technique, is that I can successfully use a film camera or a digital camera to capture my vision.  Kind of cool, I think!

I’ve been told by photographers that they shoot with the purpose of using the image for an idea they have in PS, or other editing software. To me, that is digital art vs. photography. To call it photography don’t you have to be using the camera to capture light and use your artistic vision to compose the image and use the light to successfully create your vision?

To be clear, I am not opposed to post processing a digital image, after all, isn’t the software for digital imaging like the darkroom to film photography? In fact, you have to process an image to some extent, don’t you?  Some images are fabulous straight out of camera (SOOC), but others need a little processing – a color burn, a dodge, a color balance, etc., and there is nothing wrong with HDR work when done effectively so that the subject doesn’t look fake.  The reality is that no matter how hard we work to achieve the perfect image in camera, the camera doesn’t always see what we see.  My goal is always to get as close to accurate as possible with exposure and white balance and the best possible composition – do the very best at what I can control and edit what maybe I couldn’t control as well.

I think that Mr. Thompson’s  insight is accurate as far as differentiating artistic vision using photography vs. the art of digital manipulation and creation.  A little dodge and burn, etc. are post processing tools that even the greatest photographers used in the dark room.  But the over saturation and complete manipulation of an image to the point that the original image is lost, to me, is another art form – digital art, which, in and of itself, can be amazing when done right, and should not be discounted as an art form, just designated as digital art vs. photography.

Another link to check out is the website of Jerry Uelsmann.  He is a film photographer that has been called the father of Photoshop, not because he uses Photoshop, but because he uses tools, techniques and expertise in the dark room to develop his negatives.  Through his years as a photographer he has overlaid negatives, and done amazing, and sometimes crazy, things to create images, often using multiple negatives to do so.  His work is thought-provoking and time intensive.  But, his work was all created through his vision captured in the form of photographs.  He often combined his visions to create new visions, but because he used his vision and captured that vision in the form of photographs it still falls into the realm of photography, to me at least.  The title applied to his techniques; “the father of Photoshop” certainly applies as he inspired the digital art world to become what it is today.

Realizing this post has the possibility to be controversial to some, I want to note that I am in no way trying to offend anyone or discredit the work of any photographers or their techniques.  I’m just stating my opinion and explaining my thoughts and letting you, the reader, know how I work.  I thought Mr. Thompson’s article was very valuable and may perhaps inspire and help others to find and use their vision and grow as photographers vs. attempting to do the work others are doing.  The reality is that none of us can truly copy another’s work when it comes to photography because photography is capturing a moment in time using a vision that will never exist with the same light again. I think the key to successful photography is knowing your vision, knowing how to use your camera to capture your vision through manual settings, and following your heart to further develop your vision through post processing.

Another link I’d like to share with you is the website for the International Center for Photography in New York City.  One of the current exhibits is titled “What is a Photograph?”.  I can’t wait to see it and hope that some of you make your way to visit the museum as well.

Enjoy going out and creating “your” art this weekend!

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Graffiti Artist

My family and I visited New York City yesterday.  My husband and sons went to Yankee Stadium to watch Notre Dame play Rutgers in the Pinstripe Bowl.  My daughter and I stayed in Manhattan and shopped, went to Central Park, took a carriage ride and went to see the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular.  As the day was intended to be a special day with my daughter I did not take one of my “good cameras”.  Before we left home, however, I decided that I just couldn’t survive the day without being able to capture “that moment” that we might stumble upon.  So, I grabbed our little family point and shoot Sony Cybershot and all 7.2 mega pixels that it has to offer.  Of course, there were about 1000 opportunities to capture beautiful moments, but I didn’t have my “real camera” so I relied on the little point and shoot when my daughter allowed me the opportunity.

It actually proved to be quite fun.  She wanted me to take pictures of everything!  And she found such great pleasure in so many things that we took our time and stopped to shoot despite the fact that I knew I had no control over the light entering the camera or how the images would turn out.  I kept thinking to myself that if the images were OK, the saying that I’ve heard so many times; “no wonder you take good pictures, you have a nice camera”, would prove worthless once and for all because taking good pictures is not the act of a camera’s automatic settings.  The camera doesn’t control composition.  Good composition in addition to knowing how to use a camera’s manual settings to control the light, motion, white balance, etc. that are being captured, are skills necessary to successfully make a good photograph.

So, with all of that said, take a look at what I captured with the little point and shoot camera.  More to come over the next couple of days too!

The images below are of Bagdon using spray paint, plaster knives and various other objects to create art.  My daughter and I were mesmerized by his work, the process he used and his talent.  When I asked if he had been formerly trained in the techniques he was using he explained that he was a former graffiti artist.  Simply put, it was really cool!

First Part of the ProcessFirst Part of the Process

Making StarsMaking Stars

Using the Tools to Create DetailsUsing Tools to Create Details

The Finished Piece The Finished Piece – a little crooked as I was holding my daughter’s hand at all times and taking pictures with just one hand – it can be done!

The “quality” of the images is not great as the resolution is so low.  I was happy with the overall outcomes, however.  You get the idea of what Bagdon’s creative process was and how he worked without having to look at completely inadequate compositions.  You might be thinking, “why didn’t she just use her cell phone”.  Well, because I didn’t want to run out of battery.  😉

 

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Painting with Light

“Photography” is derived from the Greek words photos (“light”) and graphein (“to draw or paint”).

Painting with Light

Painting with Light

“When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.” – Ansel Adams

The “painting” effect of this image was achieved by motion while the shutter was wide open in addition to over exposing the subject. The subject in this image is a bouquet of pink and yellow Alstroemeria (Lilies).

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Art for History

The Gratz Gallery and Conservation Studio in the heart of Doylestown recently hosted an art show and award ceremony to commemorate the bi-centennial of Doylestown being the county seat.  I photographed the event for The Buck’s County Herald and felt so blessed to get to meet so many wonderful, and very talented people.  The owners of the Gallery are kind, knowledgeable and a pleasure to get to know.  For information about the Gratz Gallery and Conservation Studio visit: http://www.gratzgallery.com/.  To view additional images from the special event, or to learn more about the sponsors of the event, the winners and see their work, visit http://www.buckscountyherald.com/.  This link will take you to the Buck’s County Herald, a weekly newspaper reporting on the happenings in and around Buck’s County.

Paul and Harriet Gratz, owners of The Gratz Gallery and Conservation Studio
Attendees visiting and taking in the beautiful artwork.
The music.

 

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