Monday, November 29, 2010

Mosaic Monday: In the Spirit of a Sale

Family Portrait by ellemoss
Blue Birdhouse by lilypadprints
Ministry of Silly by eyeshoot
Book Love by heatherkingdesigns
Keyhole Heart by littledarkone
Little Red Shoes by allieart4children
Drink Tea With Me by magnesina
Sale by CreatingMemories1
Smiling Dragonfly by JMcGuiness

In the spirit of Cyber Monday and the holiday seasons, these are some of the POE Team members who are offering  pieces of their art for affordable prices.  Obviously I have plenty of my own work for display and gifts but I also have purchased from some of the great photographers on Etsy.  Support others and spread beautiful art!

Pat of photogenicgallery lives in the Northeast USA with her husband, 2 great dogs and "Rocky" the kitty.   Every day is an adventure and every capture with her cameras are happy moments.  

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Mosaic Monday on Wednesday

Have you ever been so caught up in getting things done that life just seems to be passing by?  That's what happened to me this week. The thought just came to me.... it's wednesday... oh my! I didn't do the mosaic monday!  So I danced through the D's...

Happy Wednesday Everyone! 

Bundles o' Lavender by DarlaDear
Summer Fun by depuis
Sun For Your Soul by DistressingDelilah
The Reader by dnoyes
Peace poppies barb wire by DJWeeksPhotography
Hot Lips by dragonflyphotography
White Ranunculus by donnageissler
Lake View Window by dorndorf
Do You Know Me by dsbrennan

Pat of photogenicgallery lives in the Northeast USA with her husband, 2 great dogs and "Rocky" the kitty.   Every day is an adventure and every capture with her cameras are happy moments.  

Focus On: jessicarogers

30mph Corner

This time out I'm focusing on someone whose work I've been following for almost as long as I've been a POE member.  Jessica Rogers is the force behind Jessica Rogers Photography and the Etsy shop jessicarogers.  Not only does she have a great "eye", but a very interesting approach to her art as well.  I recently had an opportunity to share some time with Jessica, and I'd like to share our conversation with you.

Steve:  In order to know more about who a person is, I believe it's useful to learn about what came before; so, Jessica, what can you tell us about your early years? You know, where are you from? What was it like growing up? What's your family situation? What are some of the pivotal points along life's winding path that brought you to where you are today?

Jessica:  I was born in West Virginia, where my dad - a doctor - was in his residency. My family lived there until I was five. We lived down this quiet country lane and my earliest memories are of the woods next to our property. (To this day, when I hear the John Denver song "Country Roads" it makes me think of that place!) I remember things like playing with our Cocker Spaniel puppy in the leaves, my dad cutting firewood, the smell of a flower I can't remember the name of and playing with the neighbor lady's cats.

My dad’s work took us to Andover, MA for the next year and a half which left me with many memories of hot summer days and mountains of snow in the winter, along with my first year in school for Kindergarten.

My dad's next job took us out west to central California. I spent the rest of my growing up years in Turlock, CA. It's a smallish (but growing) town, about 1.5 hours south of Sacramento and almost smack dab in the middle of the state. When I tell people where I grew up they usually scrunch up their face and say "Eww, what an ugly part of the state!", but I disagree. Many only see the giant Central Valley of California from the vantage point of one of two main freeways (the Hwy 99 or I-5), which by and large don't provide the best view of the area.

Yuccas 3

The beauty I love about the Central Valley is centered on the farmlands, and you have to get away from the towns, cities, and freeways to really see that. So much of that part of California is taken up with fields or orchards. In Turlock in the summer it was common to see tall fields of corn and orchards and groves full of stone fruit and nuts. I love a freshly plowed field baking in the sun or row upon row of trees being hugged by a blanket of winter fog. Even fields full of dried grasses make me think that California is the called golden state for more reasons than the precious metal people rushed here to find. To this day, even though I don't live there any more, I feel a deep connection to the inherent beauty of farmlands. I've even started to think of a series I could do to really show people this beauty.

I now live with my husband, two big dogs, and a cat in California’s Napa Valley, only 2-1/2 hours from where I grew up. It's a beautiful place, but it doesn't feel like home. I know eventually we'll end up somewhere else and I look forward to exploring those new surroundings.

It's interesting to stop and think about what brought me to where I'm at today. There are some pivotal moments, but nothing I would have recognized as such at the time. They are more like a collection of small decisions I made that, had I made another choice of any kind, I would be leading a completely different life.

I believe that everything happens for a reason, even when it's not clear right away what that reason is. Even unpleasant events can produce valuable and otherwise unobtainable skills and knowledge.

Rock Formation 1

I went to a 4-year liberal arts college in the Napa Valley (PUC), but had no idea what I wanted to. I considered majoring in both math and psychology before deciding in favor of pre-med to follow in my dad’s footsteps. The pre-profession required a major to go along with it, and flipping through the course catalog I saw the Photography. I knew I'd be busy studying my sciences and thought Photography would have the advantage of being fun while not taking up too much time. Boy was I wrong; about the time, not the fun; once I started my photo classes I was hooked! I loved the combination of the technical with the art. It wasn't long until I started wishing I could just drop the pre-med part and focus on Photography as my major. It occurred to me I could change my mind - it was my career to choose after all - and so I did!

As soon as I had enough classes under my belt, I became a lab assistant. Along with learning how to run a full traditional b&w and color lab/darkroom, I also got a key to the lab - one of the best perks! The photo lab soon became my home away from the dorm and I spent a number of all-night printing marathons there.

The summer after graduation, my younger sister (I'm the middle of my two sisters) was getting ready to move to Davis to go to the UC there and asked if I wanted to live with her. I agreed, feeling I didn't have any ties to the immediate area job-wise, and by the fall of 2001 I was living in Davis.

Eventually, I found a job in Sacramento working at a custom photo lab. I worked there for two years until they were forced to close for lack of business. While I was there my skills in the lab and darkroom grew, and again I had the added perk of having a key. I was able to use the lab after-hours for the cost of the materials. I loved it! It was sad to see such a great place close down after 25 years of business, but I suppose all things must come to an end. I tried to pick up work at other labs in town, but they only lasted a few months. It seemed all the "big box" stores were taking too much business from them and they just couldn't compete with the prices.

Thinking I might need a career change I came back to the Napa Valley to study at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone for baking and pastry (I'm a lifelong chocoholic, so that's where this idea stemmed from). I completed the 7 month intensive course and got my certificate in December of 2005. I searched for a job in the industry for months, either making chocolates or cake decorating, but nothing was available. I was at the bottom of my list of preferences looking at baking jobs (which have horrible hours) and realized how much I missed my photography. (I should have known, with all the dozens of photos I took of the things I made in the program!) With considerable guilt, I turned away from the search for a baking/pastry related career, but still didn't know how exactly I would make a career of my photography. I continued my part-time job at a winery tasting room (where I met and started dating my future husband!) that I had while in school, but a year later I was unsatisfied with that. I got a job as a barista at a local coffee shop and ended up working there for 2 years. I think in a way I was afraid to take a chance on myself and really figure out how to make being an artist a viable career.

Cholla Cactus 1

Regardless, it was becoming clear to me that I couldn't just be an employee to someone forever and needed to be my own boss, to be able to call all the shots. A friend of mine told me about Etsy and I checked it out. The more I looked, the more I realized this would be the easiest and quickest way to get started with my own business selling my art, without having to fork over a massive percentage to someone else.

So that pretty much brings us to now. I opened up my Etsy shop about a year and a half ago. Taking that step was a quiet leap into the unknown. I didn't have a clear idea of what I wanted to do with my business, but it got me started. Now I have lots of ideas of how to expand my Etsy shop and my business offline. I'm at the point where I feel the need for a solid business plan to give me the focus I need for the next step.

S:  While it sounds like you "backed into" photography, you certainly grabbed onto it, and it to you. What was it about photography that latched on to you? Clearly it still has its hooks into you; what is it about photography that won't let you go?

J:  I think the first thing about photography that captured me is the magic of the process. When I first started shooting I understood so little of the technical aspects; it was an exciting thing to see what I was going to get on that roll of film when I processed it. Even making a print was magical; and, I know this is something many people say about photography, but there really is something special about watching that black and white image slowly reveal itself in the chemistry. As I learned and understood the foundational techniques I also fell in love with the process itself. I loved to learn the rules and the reasons why things worked the way they do. And then, because I can't seem to leave well enough alone, I loved to learn to stretch and even break the rules.

Photography continues to have its hold on me because there is still so much I want to learn, so many techniques. But even if there were nothing technical left to learn or if I settled on just one technique to master and work with, the artistry and ability to communicate through imagery would remain always.

Whisk Diptych

My senior project for my degree was self-chosen. I decided to challenge myself both artistically as well as technically, and I think I succeeded for the most part. I chose a concept that, to me, was very difficult to transform from words and vague ideas into concrete imagery. The final pieces, all in black and white, were single 16"x20" prints with multiple exposures. For each print, I used anywhere from 2 to 5 enlargers each set up with their own negative. I also made large guides to help me get each exposure in the position I wanted. It was a wonderfully rewarding stretching of my creativity and technique, even though it was a tremendous amount of work. I think as long as there is some way I can push myself with new challenges, photography will never get old for me.

S:  A large part of your work is done using instant photography, Polaroid’s and such. With your background in, and affinity for traditional film photography, I find that a bit surprising. What's the attraction of the Polaroid medium and how did you get started in it?

J:  Actually, all of my Polaroid work began as 35mm slide film and then I used a Daylab (basically a miniature enlarger) to project the slide onto Polaroid film. From there I was able to either make dye transfers or emulsion lifts from any of my slides, over and over again. Even though the end results don't look all that traditional, I'm still rooted to my beginnings.

The thing I love most about Polaroid manipulation is that each time the results are different and you can't predict or even really control what will happen beyond a certain point. I work hard to get just what I need in the camera - there's very little cropping and adjustment that the Daylab allows.

Beyond that and choosing the type of paper to put the transfer on, I let the Polaroid film do the rest. Usually there is a definite color shift (more so with the dye transfers than the emulsion lifts) and always a wonderfully random texture is added. I also love the hands-on approach this process must take. None of the effects in my transfers have been added digitally; it's all a result of the film characteristics and the process. After a piece is completed, I scan it into the computer but the only adjustments I make are minor ones in an effort to duplicate the original as closely as possible.

Black Cat

I was first introduced to the process in college. We had one assignment where we had to shoot a roll of slide film and choose one to turn into a transfer. I was immediately enthralled! It was almost as magical as watching my first black and white image appear in the developer. As I carefully peeled back the Polaroid from the paper, my ordinary picture of a rose was transformed. It looked like a cross between a painting and a photograph, with a soft dreamy quality to it; I loved it! When it came time to do an independent study, I chose to work with Polaroid emulsion lifts. I've been hooked ever since and have worked with the process off and on over the past 10 years. Even though Polaroid film is no longer available I still have my final small stash of film waiting in my refrigerator for just the right project. Now I'm beginning to experiment with the new generation of instant film (thanks to the Impossible Project!) and it's looking like there are many possibilities for manipulation, though nothing will be quite like the old Polaroid film. Until I figure out what I'll do with the new instant film, I've been teaching myself new alternative techniques (such as TtV) to play with. I also had to finally break down a couple years ago and "go digital". Without direct access to a lab I, 1. Can't afford full lab prices for good work, and 2. Can't really give up printing control to someone else! So I've been teaching myself the ins and outs of digital photography and digital photo editing.

S:  What subjects are you drawn to photograph? What subjects do you find yourself avoiding?

J:  It's all about the details for me. I love getting in close to my subject where form and composition become the key elements. Texture! I can't get enough of things full of texture: rusted metal, aged/weathered wood, peeling paint. The subjects I find my self shooting tend to be found objects or details in nature. If there is a dilapidated or abandoned building, I want to explore it with my camera. One of these days I'm going to do a photo exploration of a junkyard. I like old fences and farm equipment, old cars and trucks. I love flowers, plants in the garden, and grasses. I love to photograph our cat and dogs, too. Lately I've been feeling the need to photograph horses - I just need to go and find a good place to do that around here (somewhat difficult when I feel completely surrounded by nothing by grape vines!). I haven't done much of it lately, but I also really enjoy shooing architecture; it's all about form, lines, and structure. It's the part of me that loves symmetry and patterns that makes architecture so interesting.

I've tried my hand at a few landscapes, but usually feel I'm not doing them justice and I greatly admire those that can. For some reason, I can see an amazing landscape in front of me, but as soon as I bring the camera up to my eye the picture is just not there. It's like there's too much and not enough in the frame all at once. I also don't like to do portraits; or, rather don't feel comfortable doing them. I get this immediate feeling that I'm trespassing on their personal space or that I am expected to give them all sorts of direction. I would really rather just wait and look for that "just right" shot / pose / expression / moment instead of contriving a scene. I also don't much like to work with flash or extra lights. Even when I was taking the portraiture and studio classes in college, I never felt comfortable using the equipment. Oh, I understood the basic mechanics of it, but I wasn't able to get to the point where I felt like I could use them like my camera. In other words, the lighting didn't work for me as an extension of myself, where they became a necessary tool instead of a hindrance in my creative ability.

Beach Landscape

S:  I've spent quite a bit of time, both living and working in California's Central valley, and I've got a good number of miles under my belt traveling some of the lesser roads from the coast to the mountains, so I know what you say about the beauty of the region is true. I've also spent a little time in both the Napa and Sonoma valleys, and know the beauty of those places as well. With this knowledge, I can't help but wonder, what is it that draws your lens away from wine country and valley life in favor of recording desert images?

J:  Well, the simple answer to what draws my lens away from wine country is that I'm just surrounded by it ALL – THE – TIME! I've seen the bagillion (yes, that's a technical term) different ways grapes/wine/vines have been depicted for a myriad of souvenirs and it's so hard to come up with a new way to portray the subject with any amount of "freshness". More simply put: it just doesn't inspire me much. That being said, I have been poked and prodded by many friends and family members to photograph the wine country stuff because that's what people want to buy; so much prodding in fact, that I've recently begun to play with a method of creating images from this area that I could potentially be happy with. I feel like I'm just beginning to learn how to see my photography as more than an outlet for personal expression that I need to also be able to see it as my way to make a living. Sometimes that might mean I have to create images that aren't purely for myself.

But what draws me to the desert, then? That is a more elusive answer. There is something striking about the stark beauty of the desert - the harshness of life and the surprising delicate beauty to be discovered in the middle of it all. I would love to someday travel through Zion, Bryce, the Canyonlands and down through White Sands, NM; I also want to do an entire series on sand dunes.

Sand Dune Mt. 1

There is a strength and power about the very earth in those places I just can't resist. There is an old and quiet story those places hold and I want to see if I can discover it. For a similar reason, I love to photograph abandoned or run-down buildings - especially on old farm land. Maybe it's because they are places where the earth has reclaimed ownership after being "tamed" by man. I like to think there is a great sleeping power in the earth - one you should respect - that has the strength to rehabilitate itself. I think that's why I also have a love for farmlands; though not particularly wild and natural, they are places where man has learned to strike a deal with the earth to live together.

S:  Most of us have a favorite photographer, or photographers, that we strive to emulate or are inspired by. Do you have one, or more such photographers you look to? Who are they, and what lessons and/or inspiration have you taken from them?

J:  Wow, so many names to choose favorites off the top of my head are Edward Weston, Margret Bourke-White, Dorethea Lang, and Annie it strange that I have named photographers that are well known for photographing people when that's not my thing? I greatly admire their work, though. I suppose I'd call them sources of inspiration more than those I strive to emulate directly. Weston's work is a beautiful and masterful exploration of form. Bourke-White and Lang both were amazing for their ability to document the working classes of their time and the fact they were women doing "a man's work" in "a man's world". Leibovitz's work is just a stunning visual inspiration; I love her ability to build a scene and tell a story so richly while simultaneously capturing the core of a person. If I pick up or buy a copy of Vogue, it's because I want to savor her work; I could care less about the rest of the magazine. All of these photographers inspire me for more than just the beautiful images they have created. Each also had the strength and courage to see their vision through to the end, even (and perhaps especially) when it dealt with uncomfortable or taboo subjects.

Pear Diptych

S:  Let's talk about your tools for a moment; what do you keep in your bag of tricks and what would you like to add or replace, if you didn't have to worry about price that is?

J:  Oh cameras! I love to collect them and have a number of vintage cameras as well as some lovely new equipment. For simplicity's sake, I'll stick to what I shoot with the most. I'm a Canon girl - for film I use my Canon EOS-1n and for digital I use my Canon Rebel XT. Go-to lens for film is usually my 28-70mm and for digital it's my 17-55mm. I also have a 70-200mm when I'm feeling the need to shoot something from a greater distance, though, honestly, that one rarely comes out of my bag. I love to get up on top of my subject whenever possible! I have a Sigma macro lens that I got when I was shooting only film and was greatly disappointed to find out that it wasn't compatible with my digital back.

I would like to find an adapter so I can shoot macro with my digital - either that or just get a nice new macro lens! I would also like to (need to) replace my tripod - a few years ago it died a terrible and hilarious death in Joshua Tree NP. Outside of my camera bag, I would love to get a nice negative/slide scanner to start archiving my film. Oh - and while I'm dreaming, I'd love a large format Epson printer! Those few things would be a good start to knock down my wish-list.

Cholla Cactus 2

Oh, I forgot to add a frequently used camera to my list! I use my Kodak Duaflex for all my TtV photography - purchased from a lovely Etsyian ( ).

S:  So, Jessica, looking forward, what does the future hold? Where is photography taking you, or where are you taking it?

J:  Hmmm...the future...sometimes I wish there were a crystal ball to tell me, but then the fun of surprises would be taken away! I hope to always find a new challenge to tackle - weather it be a technical one, or a personal perception. Business-wise, I'd like to expand the number of "functional art" items in my Etsy shop, start doing wholesale locally, and a bit of freelance magazine work as well.

S:  Hey Jessica, this was fun! I really enjoyed learning a bit more about one of favorites! Was there anything you wanted to add; perhaps a question you would've liked to answer that I didn't ask?


J:  Thank you, Steve! I can't think of anything else to add. This has been lots of fun for me too - and surprisingly enlightening for me as well!

After working my way through this interview with you I feel I may be on the verge of a new awakening with my creative process. Many of the questions you asked me, I never took the time to think the answers though fully until now. I've been in the process of trying to determine the central purpose to what I do and I think this interview has given me some ideas as to what that might be. So, thank you again Steve - it's been a pleasure!


PhotoGrunt is Steve Raley, a photographic documentarian from Seattle, Washington.  He captures images wherever he goes, and he  frequently even uses a camera.  His work can be seen on his websiteblog and his Etsy shop.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Around the world with the POE Kitty...

2 years ago our team leader Bill (HouseofSixCats) had a fun idea. To buy a felt Travel Kitty from lmdalton and have her customize it with our team name and a camera so that we could pass him around the world to our team members. Unfortunately we have lost track of him, hopefully he is still traveling the world. This is the last post featuring the kitty.

Here the Kitty took a trip to Indianapolis to visit team member claudialord

Our October slide show is LIVE!

Created by Taryn of BornBarefoot. The slideshow is a bit late as she was sick.

The theme is Architecture. Here is a selection of beautiful images from our very talented team of photographers on Etsy! Visit Etsy and search POE team for more great photography!

UPDATE: Etsy Team Migration...

Attention Team Members,

We are still working on migrating to Etsy's new team page for our team. We still have over 700 members who have not accepted their invites. In order to be considered an official team member you must be listed on our team page.

You should have received your invite almost 2 weeks ago, sent to the email address connected to your Etsy account. If you did not please go to our team page and click on join.

Also please when accepting your invites, please make sure you are logged into your shop that has your photography. This is important for you to be approved.

By the end of November any team members who have not accepted their invite will have to reapply to be a member of the team.

Our team page is here...

Thank you!

POE Team

Monday, November 15, 2010

Mosaic Monday: Love Unspoken

Two Girls by  TheLightFantastic
Three Eiffel Towers by magalerie
Waiting For You by BornBarefoot
Happy Holiday Sale A Love Story by allieart4children
Summer Love by maryvican
Kiss the fish by Lazyfish
Beautiful Dignity by ArtByAmarose
For You by dylanmurphy
The Human Soul on Fire by yvetteinufio

Pat of photogenicgallery lives in the Northeast USA with her husband, 2 great dogs and "Rocky" the kitty.   Every day is an adventure and every capture with her cameras are happy moments. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Focus On: wlotus

We Are Happy to Serve You

There I was, minding my own business, perusing our blog here, when I came upon a sidebar advertisement for a shop I had never heard of.   Being the inquisitive type, I did a little investigating and found that the shop has been around for nearly three years!

Three years and I had never heard of it!


Well, in for a penny, in for a pound; I thought, “What the heck!”, if I wasn’t familiar with this shop, perhaps you weren’t either, so I'd like to introduce you to Wanda McCrae, the woman behind wlotus.  I recently had an extended conversation with Wanda and would like to share that with you now:

Steve:  Wanda, what can you tell us about yourself? Where are you from? What are your interests? What is your family like? What was it in your life that put you on the road to photography?

Wanda:  I was born in Brooklyn, NY and raised in NJ, but I always considered myself a New Yorker. I like to say, "My family dragged me kicking and screaming to NJ at the tender age of six." :-)

Believe it or not, I had to think pretty hard to think of something other than "photography" to list as an interest; I've loved photography since I was very, very young! But I like to read, listen to my eclectic music collection, knit, crochet, ride my bicycle, and ride my partner's cruiser motorcycle. I also enjoy live music very much. We have tickets to see Sade at the Nassau Coliseum next June, and I can hardly wait!

My family is pretty individualistic; we all have pretty much gone our separate ways and are living separate lives. My brother and I seem to be the artistic ones. We both have jobs that pay the bills, but our passions lie in the arts: music for him and photography for me.

Fire Ivy

I can't think of any particular thing that put me on the road to photography. I've liked it for as long as I can remember; my first camera was a plastic point-and-shoot model that used Kodak 126 film cartridges; I was probably 7 or 8 years old. I can remember being in elementary school and pouring over the stack of National Geographic magazines in our apartment.  I'd love to stare at the photos for hours at a time and always liked the idea of capturing what I saw and allowing others to see it, too.

My late Great-Aunt Mozella was rarely seen without a camera when she was living. Whether visiting family or traveling overseas, she had her camera to her eye. When she died she left behind hundreds, if not thousands of photos and negatives. Sometimes my family calls me "young Aunt Mo", because I'm the same way with my camera. She was a special woman in a lot of ways, so I consider that a high compliment.

S:  What is your photography about? What is your inspiration; what themes or subjects do you pursue?

W:  For a long time I didn't think I had a theme or style; my photos were "just photos". But a couple of weeks ago I had a conversation with a couple of fellow photographers that helped me begin to find the words to describe my work.

My photography is about what I see, what is in front of me, and what I would like the rest of the world to see, appreciate, and be moved by. That is why I don't normally create dream-like images; my photos are realistic and crisp, so others can clearly see what I see. I prefer vibrant colors; even my black and white photos are rich in contrasts. And I always approach my subjects from an attitude of respect. I want to see my subjects, not impose my view on them, let alone ridicule them. And I want others to see them, too.

Beautiful Music

The other day a little girl saw me coming in from a photo walk with my camera around my neck, and she asked if I take pictures of famous people. I replied, "I usually make photos of whatever I think is pretty." What captures my eye is the beauty in what we would consider the everyday. I like finding an otherwise ordinary thing and seeing if I can capture it in a way that makes someone say, "I never noticed that, before."

My style is still changing. I'm still working on understanding what inspires me to pick up my camera and what does not. I've been thinking about eventually pursuing a BFA in photography to help me with that process.

S:  Coming to understand what inspires you, and presenting the seemingly ordinary in ways that haven't been perceived before; that's a big part of what being an artist is, don't you think?

Living in New York, as you do, I would imagine you live in a fairly "target rich" environment; when you go on these photo walks of yours, what sort of things usually find their way into your lens?

W:  Not every artist presents the ordinary in ways that haven't been perceived, before. For example, Chrissie White took the grand prize in the Fine Art category of the 2010 American Photo GoPro Contest with her rendition of Wendy taking flight in the Peter Pan story. Photos like that are more surreal, or staged than ordinary. I sometimes wish I had the imagination to come up with the ideas that lead to such amazing photos!   My focus is on the everyday, and quite frankly, it took some time for me to accept that. That is a big part of becoming an artist, as you said: understanding and respecting what inspires YOU, rather than trying to copy someone else's style or putting yourself down for not being them.


There is a lot and nothing to photograph in NYC, all at once. As vibrant as the city is, it doesn't change all that much on a daily basis. There are only so many wide-angle photos I can make of Bryant Park or the Empire State Building before they all begin to look alike. So lately I have looked for a different angle from the ones I've already explored. If I go on a photo walk with a group, I'll photograph the photographers rather than photographing the statue everyone in the group is photographing. If the group is walking west, I'll turn east to photograph where we came from.

When I am alone, I like to get close to my subjects and focus on details that are otherwise easy to miss. The other day I walked through the local cemetery, and I saw some roses on a grave. I could have made photos of the roses as a whole, but I chose to use my extension tubes to get close-ups of the raindrops on the rose petals. One day I wanted to do a unique self-portrait, so I used my extension tubes and flash to get an extremely close-up view of my iris. I never knew my iris had that much texture to it! That's a photo I can look at over and over without becoming bored. That's the kind of detail I like to capture.

I love photographing people in their natural habitats. (I can do portraits, but I prefer not to do them.) Children are especially fun to photograph, because they are so spontaneous and are not self-conscious. I don't photograph people as often as I'd like, because some people are not comfortable with a stranger photographing them, let alone their children. I'm fortunate that my friends are happy to allow me to photograph them and their kids. One of my friends has two of the most adorable little boys, and I've appointed myself their personal photographer. :-)


S:  So, Wanda, when you're not shooting photographs, what are you doing? What do you do for a living and what, besides photography, do you do for fun?

W:  I follow and comment on a lot of blogs, most of which are not photography related; there are a lot of interesting people out there. A couple of months ago I started doing a few minutes of yoga nearly every day, to help with stress management and to gently strengthen my body. My mind tends to be very busy, and doing yoga helps me slow down and be fully present in the moment. Also, I am journaling all the time!  I have kept a detailed journal since October of 1984; I still have all but one volume, and am two pages away from starting my newest volume.

Now that autumn is here, the ice skating rink at Bryant Park is open. I like skating there a few times a week in the mornings, before work. In 2008 I finally learned how to skate backwards; I was really proud of myself for finally figuring out how to do that. During the winter months I tend to do a lot of yarn work. I intend to knit myself a turtleneck and crochet several caps for myself and my partner this winter.
Sometimes I sketch. Wait, let me rephrase that: sometimes I make valiant attempts to sketch what I see. Let's all be grateful I have a camera at my disposal, rather than being limited to pencils. :-)

All of these things are done within the framework of many nurturing friendships (both local and long-distance) and a long-term partnership. Interacting with those people is what really makes my life not only fun but worthwhile as well. They took my photography seriously before I realized I had a talent I could nurture, and they keep me sane when I doubt myself. None of what I do would be possible without them in my life to keep me grounded.

I do data entry for a living. The work itself isn't exciting, but the opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to a team that appreciates what I do and doesn't give me drama in return is priceless and exactly what I need at this time in my life.

Violin Study

S:  I certainly sounds like you stay busy!

Let's talk about your equipment for a moment; you mentioned earlier that your first camera was a "plastic point-and-shoot that used Kodak 126 film cartridges". I'm sure you've progressed from that point; what's in your bag these days and do you have a favorite setup? If cost wasn't a consideration, what would you add?

W:  I shoot with a Canon EOS 5D (not the Mark II).  Most of the time I use my Canon 24-105mm F4L IS USM. The focus on that lens is as sharp as a tack. I used to wonder if people were exaggerating the difference between using consumer and pro lenses, but I saw the light after I bought that lens. That is my everyday lens, though sometimes I will switch to my Canon 50mm F1.8 in low-light situations, as I rarely use a flash.

On rare occasions I will pull out my Sigma 70-300mm lens, extension tubes for macro shots, or Kenko 2x teleconverter for shooting the moon with my 70-300mm lens. But I don't carry those with me unless I specifically plan to use them on a shoot.

I have a fully automatic Quantaray flash. I prefer not to use it, because it does not allow me to manually set the flash power. (I tell people I prefer to use available light, but that is mainly because I don't like my flash!)

If money was no object, my flash is the first thing I would replace, and I would replace it with two Canon Speedlite 430EX II flashes. That would allow me to experiment with a simple studio setup. (I already have two bounce/shoot-through umbrellas and a pair of wireless flash triggers.) The studio and lighting course I took last year introduced me to the flexibility photographers have when using strobes. I would love to become proficient at using lighting to set the mood and focus for a shot.

A Light To The World

The PDN Photo Expo just ended in NYC, and browsing the expo floor expanded my photography wish list! I was gifted with a PhotoClam tripod head, so I want a carbon fiber tripod to go with it. A friend shoots with a Canon 24-70mm F2.8L, which is wonderful for low light; I'd make that either my everyday lens or a backup to my 24-105. I'd make my 5D body my backup and purchase a 5D Mark II for my primary camera body. I would purchase two seven-foot light stands to use with the Speedlites I'd buy. And even though it isn't in my camera bag, I would replace my seven-year-old Powerbook G4 with a fully loaded MacBook Pro. Lightroom slows my poor Powerbook down to a crawl!

S:  Do you have any favorite photographers, and if so, how have they inspired you? Who, or what, would you say has had the largest influence on your photography?

W:  This question makes me a bit uneasy because I can’t rattle off a bunch of inspirational names like some artists I know. Remember what I said earlier about not putting yourself down for not being someone else? I'm still working on that part. :-)

One name immediately came to mind, though: Richard Avedon; I learned about him in a photography course I took a couple of years ago. I love his portraits for their simplicity, especially the fact that he shot some of them outside using available light and a plain white background.

Freedom Tower

Another favorite is Tina Modotti. I haven't found a lot of information about her, but I like her images of everyday life. She captured what she saw, just like I do.

National Geographic has had the largest influence on me, so far. Pouring over those photographs as a youngster "put a stain in my brain", as my partner would say. The vivid colors really grabbed me; I wanted to make vivid photos like those. Most of those photos captured everyday life, not something scripted or imaginary. I am amused that as a child I would say I wanted to make photos for National Geographic. I may not be shooting for them (yet), but shoot in a similar style.

S:  No reason to be uneasy. I myself am unable to "rattle off a bunch" of names at the drop of a hat. I greatly appreciate the work of many photographers, but carry around only a small handful of names that I draw inspiration from.

Doing this feature, I regularly learn about photographers I haven't heard of before, such as Tina Modotti. The name "Richard Avedon" was vaguely familiar, but it wasn't until I did a Google search for some of his images that I made the connection.

Where is photography taking you, or where are you taking it? What does the future hold; what are your goals?

W:  Thanks for the reassurance. :-)

I would love to amass a body of work that could be good for a solo show. As I continue to make connections, I want to primarily photograph people in a documentary capacity. I recently borrowed "Who Shot Rock and Roll" from my local library, and the documentary photographs took my breath away. I could see myself working behind the scenes as a documentary photographer and gaining the trust and respect of the artists. I hadn't realized I had such a strong interest in documentary photography until I read that book. I guess I should have known, based on my childhood interest in National Geographic, but I didn't make the connection until recently.

Does Anybody Want to Play?

My dream is to have artwork hanging in private collections, but I expect that to be a long way down the road.

S:  Well, you never know just how long...or short that road may be.

Wanda, thank you so much for taking this time with me! I've enjoyed our conversation very much and I wish you nothing but success on your photographic journey!


PhotoGrunt is Steve Raley, a photographic documentarian from Seattle, Washington.  He captures images wherever he goes, and he  frequently even uses a camera.  His work can be seen on his websiteblog and his Etsy shop.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Mosaic Monday: Moving Into C

Vanishing Monarch  by CactusHuggers
4x6 Photographic Print  by Capree
Flower in a Bowl by callex
lonely cow by Chrisnze
The Brand New Shoes Stairs by chelebert12
History by Crystalphotography
Pincushions by CreateLoveLaugh
Beach Stairs by CoyPhoto
Dixon by capow

It's been great getting to know more of the POE Team as I move through the alphabet.  I am loving the new team layout....very user friendly!

Pat of photogenicgallery lives in the Northeast USA with her husband, 2 great dogs and "Rocky" the kitty.   Every day is an adventure and every capture with her cameras are happy moments. 

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Mind's Eye - Characters

I love a good story.  I especially love it when that story is told by a photographer, and especially when it’s shown by an abstract or manipulated photograph.  For November’s Mind’s Eye post I would like to draw your attention to some of Etsy’s finest artists – to photographers who are superb at creating stories through creating great characters.

With photography, a good character can be enough to create an entire tale.   Although the bodies of work from the following artists are created with precision and brilliant editing, these photos don’t take themselves too seriously.   As a viewer, I like that.  That’s not to say that these stories are not compelling.  They are!  The images are easy to enjoy, rich with well thought out characters and interesting compositions.  I am able to be whisked away into their imaginations upon first glance.  Any questions that the image may leave you wondering are answered with a simple title.  Upon seeing one photo from each of the following story tellers I found myself wanting to see more.  All of these photographers have created a compelling body of work with a consistent feel, unique perspective, and masterful technique.  I encourage you to visit their shops and see more of what makes them each so special.

From left to right: "An Oblivious Wonderment", "Theodore W. Elwood", "The Nebulous Duo"

Matchstick Girl
"And She Grew and She Grew" and "Little Red Riding Hood"

Top left to right: "Too Easy" and "Faith or the Guardian Angel"
Bottom left to right: "Sugar Sugar" and "Crop Circle"

  Alice Lily
"I Am My Own" and "Toy Soldiers"

"Mind's Eye", by Anika Toro, is a monthly post focusing on abstract and manipulated photography. Anika lives in TN with her baby, husband, and two naughty cats. She loves taking photos every moment of every day.
Anika shares her photography in her shop, on her blog, and invites you to collaborate.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Mosaic Monday: Home Sweet Home

I've returned from my trip to Arizona and what an amazing experience!  The weather was disappointing however... chilly, rainy and loads of cloud cover. Everywhere I went, people were commenting  "the weather is so unusual..."

Due to the weather, I didn't really get to capture any spectacular shots or bask in any amazing sunrise or sets but it was so inspiring to experience the cacti of the desert, the red rocks of Sedona and the vast expanse of the Grand Canyon!  Awesome doesn't accurately describe these visions of natures' miracles that are planted forever in my brain!

But after almost 2 weeks away, there's no place like home!

Resting or Dreaming by starrybluesky
Milo in his Kerchief by capow
Another Fine Sunrise by BillSwindamanPhoto
Solitude by dnoyes
Morning Reading by kaymobo
Waiting Patiently by JWPhoto
The Apple Orchard by studio19
Knitting by pneuma
Full Circle by gildinglilies

Many thanks to Julie for covering for me!

Pat of photogenicgallery lives in the Northeast USA with her husband, 2 great dogs and "Rocky" the kitty.   Every day is an adventure and every capture with her cameras are happy moments.