Saturday, June 21, 2008

Turn Around

It's amazing what you'll find if you just TURN AROUND. Especially in the morning and evening. Even when an area looks completely devoid of interesting shots, the angle of the sun may be creating a fantastic scene that you just can't see, because you're looking the in the wrong direction. You me even be standing right in the middle of it and not even know.

For the image below I was bound to see it, because even though I "missed" it driving into Tyler Park on a recent morning, the same road was also my only exit. As an added benefit the rain from the night before continued to fall from the trees in bunches, which added a new dimension in the sunbeams streaming through the trees.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Printing Very Large

I am currently working on getting some large prints (20x30) made for a client. Preparing images for large-size printing requires more attention to detail than small or "medium" size prints (e.g. up to 11x14). The bottom line is that small imperfections get magnified. Slightly out-of-focus images seem a lot out of focus. A tiny bit of chromatic abberation becomes a glaring green, purple, or red line. Sensor noise become much more noticeable. Although these prints will not typically be viewed up close I would rather there be as few negatives as possible to detract from the image.

Although these factors are always addressed during regular image processing, I give extra attention to these details when I prepare the images for large-size printing, making sure that a previously un-noticeable imperfection does not become a distraction. Although it is recommended to view images at 50% on screen to adjust for sharpness and other qualities I view images at 100% or more ("pixel-peeping") on-screen for this process. I inspect the image 100% to make sure I didn't miss anything. Any mistake that makes its way into printing will force me to re-print at my expense, and these large prints are not inexpensive.

Some images (to me) are just unacceptable to print very large. Of course this comes down to the judgement and vision of the artist. Some artists would print any image to any size, because the quality (e.g. sharpness) of the image is not as important as the content. But most of my images are of a scenic nature, and the expectation is that scenic images are rather clean and sharp. This will limit the candidates somewhat for large image printing. Good camera and lens technique will eliminate most of the potential problems, but some must be dealt with during post-processing.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Morning Walk in Tyler Park

I decided to take a stroll early this morning through Tyler State park. There is a nice meadow that is frequented by some bluebirds as well as other bird species. The bluebirds have set up shop in some nest boxes built just for them (they have the word "bluebirds" right on them - I guess they can read!).

Although I previously had some luck getting close to one particular nest box, I was not able to today. The babies were clearly inside, looking big enough to pop out and try flying themselves. The mother (or maybe father, or maybe he was taking a day off because of Father's Day) saw me and my tripod setup and decided to shoo me away ... which she did very well. She dive-bombed me until I had no choice but to leave.

I was able to capture some birds hunting for insects in a nearby field, and also some robins (which are quite skittish when humans get too close at all). Moths were active, and some forest flowers were blooming. Here are some flowers I found bursting out:

On a side note we found a baby robin on our front lawn that apparently was either injured or fell out of its nest a little too early. It was hopping around, unable to fly but flapping its too-small wings. I initially felt there was nothing we could possibly do, but we decided to put the little guy in a box with some nesting material (grass and leaves) and put it near the parent robins that were clearly looking for it. We put the box in a bush so animals would not easily find it. I still don't think will survive, but at least it might have a better chance.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Peddler's Village Wrap-Up

As forecast it was certainly a hot weekend at the Peddler's Village Fine Arts show. The weather was the big story, both days in the 90's, and it seemed to keep visitors away in droves. We artists had a lot of free time to socialize with each other (I actually learned that pet ferrets can be litter-box trained - go figure!). I survived with enough sales to make the weekend worthwhile, and I also received a second place award for the Photography category (my first award of this type). My work represents many of the surrounding areas, which helped to create a lot of conversation between myself and visitors, and in large part helped my sales as well.

My next scheduled show is in Collingswood August 2-3. Until then I'll be looking for new opportunities to make great photographs. We're now in summer mode in the U.S. I've been enjoying my recent animal photography so I may continue in that course, and maybe try to discover some waterfalls or other moving-water scenery.

I've posted below an image that seems to get interest from both locals and non-locals alike. It is a shot of the historic library at Lake Afton in Yardley, Pa, which was built in 1878. I get a lot of questions about it and I plan to research it a little bit more. This image was made in the fall of 2006.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Google: Good News Bad News

I have had my website up and running for about 4 years now, and during that time I have had some ups and downs. It took a while to generate some online sales, but I can now expect a fair number of these sales yearly, where previously I might expect, well, none. Many of these sales have come from web searches.

One of my focus areas, and I'm sure that of many other people, is how my website ranks in Google searches. I have taken some steps to maximize the results, but here is where the good and bad news come in.

The good news is that in regular web searches, my pages have been getting some fairly high rankings. Some specific searches rank very high. And most of my pages are indexed.

But I'm having opposite results in the Google image searches. I have been watching my images slowly get removed from the Google image index, and just recently none of my product images remain, except for a few of my blog postings and some button graphics. For a while I had a number of images rank very high, and they were directing a fair amount of traffic to my site, but now they are all gone. I'm really confused. If anyone has any ideas please drop me a line.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Hot Weekend

Summer is just around the corner. Our pool is open, the water is warming. Sunset is around 8:00 PM. The lawn continues to grow, but once the wet weather abates like it usually does by June or so it won't be long before the growth slows and brown-ness creeps in.

Summer will really hit with 90 degree weather this coming weekend just in time for a new 2-day show I'm doing this year. It's at Peddler's Village in Lahaska, Pa. I'll be sure to come prepared with a cooler full of cold water. I'll also probably set up the tent the day before to avoid working up a gigantic sweat the day of the show.

I found this small garden near a historic building in the Washington Crossing area. I really liked this frame of an old-time wheelbarrow. The sun was still rising but this area was out of the sunlight. I added a soft effect during image processing. Before I print this I want to tweak the look of it to make sure it's has just the kind of look I want.