Monday, February 25, 2013

UPDATED POST: Camera exploration & the superb paintings of Janet Fish

 The photos to the left is an edit of a photo you will find at the end of this post.  I'm inspired by what I was able to do, and keep in mind, I do NOT have Photoshop. I will explain later what I did, and what I might do with it, but for now I want to get on to the topic of this post.

The images in this post are mostly photos that were taken by me.  The only exception is the beautiful artwork of Janet Fish that I include a little further down the post.

A week ago, I attended a little workshop to help new DSLR camera owners to get to know their camera.  Only 2 people showed up for the class:  One was obviously me, a former photography teacher with a good understanding of aperture, exposure, depth of field, and other basic camera concepts, but a poor understanding of maneuvering around the complex menu of a DSLR.  The other person knew nothing about her new camera, zip, and hadn't even turned on her camera (or even knew there was an on/off switch) and obviously knew nothing about those basic photo concepts.

We have one more session together, and we were given a 'homework' assignment to take photos using the various scene presets on our camera, and see how they affected exposure etc, to help us make good decisions about what settings to use and to keep us from shooting everything on the basic automatic setting.  The poor teacher didn't know what she was getting into asking me to do this.  I'm assuming the other gal will show up with a dozen or so photos on her camera.  She was terrified to even use it.  Me, well, here I am, hundreds of photos later... I'm going to have some serious editing to do before I go back to class on Friday.
First,  I went outside on a cold day but had trouble keeping track of the settings with gloves on, so instead I decided to do something inside.  I was inspired by the gorgeous paintings of Janet Fish.  If you've never seen her work, here's a few images to inspire you.  Many of her still life paintings include glassware, and vibrant saturated color.  If you've been to my Pinterest page, you know that's what I like.  Anyhow, here's a selection of Janet Fish paintings:
OK, back to my photo homework.  I set up a still life of assorted glassware.  I shot some pictures with the still life draped with an embroidered white tablecloth, others with some black and metallic patterned scarves, and then still more with vibrantly colored scarves.  Then I went back and shot the still life lit with candles, and a black drape.  Tomorrow night I plan to photograph it yet again with the candles, but this time with the colored scarves and with the white tablecloth. If I get any interesting results, I will show you, I promise!  In the meantime, here's a selection of the photos I took, edited down to this selection for this post, from about 200 photos.  Help!
I had fun cropping some of the photos, and am considering using some of them as inspiration for some painting.  Below you will see some side-by-side comparisons of various shots.  We were told to use all the different scene settings on the camera, and I had some fun surprises at what I discovered.  I expected changes in exposure and depth of field, but I did not realize that the digital settings also change color balance.  The sunset setting, for example, gave me rich warm color in my photos, such as the one on the right in the first pair below. I love the warmth, though I also love the clear yellow in the left-hand photo.
Below, a little cropping fun!
More comparisons...  I used settings for sunsets, for dusk/dawn, for food, for foliage, for blossoms, for autumn colors, for pet portraits for action, for closeups, for portraits, for night landscapes, for night portraits, for landscapes, for candlelit, for indoor parties, for food... YIKES!  How am I supposed to remember what does what?!
I actually have another (preferred) version of the photos below, with more drapery showing in front of the glassware, but it keeps uploading sideways so you'll just need to trust me for now.  I like the composition on the ones with more drapery.  These look cut off, but with the drapery, I see them as future painting inspirations.  Oh well.  At least you can see the exposure differences.
I set up the camera on a tripod for the candle-lit batch below.  Look at how the color balance changes from one shot to the next!
And more candle-lit photos:
And for fun, of course I had to shoot a few pictures with my favorite creative feature on the camera, the vivid sketch (which eats batteries, but that's another story entirely).  The first shot below was highly cropped after I put it on my iPad. 
And this last one is uncropped, though I have played with a couple of different croppings,one using just the lower left, and the other the lower right.  It's fun playing with the abstract compositions. 
A final note: I have discovered that if I upload my photos to the post using the Blogger app on my iPad, the verticals actually remain vertical!  Yippee!  Then I go to my laptop or PC to shrink the images and edit the post, since you can't do that in the app.

Newly added to this post, three more crazy edits of the last photo above (one at the top of the post, the other two below), this time done on my PC using both Microsoft Photo Editor, and  with Corel Photo Album for the color edits.  I think, folks, I may have just had a 'eureka' moment.  My easel has been sitting with a half-finished painting on it for months.  I hate the painting.  It's just not me.  The composition and color I have discovered cropping these images have me excited to use them as painting inspiration.  What do you think? 
 I probably should have numbered the photos in this post, but I don't know how to do that without everything moving around.  Because, I really would like your opinion.  I know this was just a homework assignment, but I like the photos but am having trouble selecting which I prefer.  Which color balances do you like?  Which images, which croppings?  Please, dear readers, please express your thoughts and advice.  I trust you!  And what do you think of my extreme edits?  Am I stuck in 50's psychedelia, or have I hit upon something?


  1. What fun!! I hadn't thought about using all the settings on one still life to see the results. I do try to use various settings when I am out and about in what I think are the appropriate conditions. I will have to try this. I've had my new camera a whole year and still am just a novice with the settings. I love your vivid sketch photos and I tend to like the others that have strong highlights on the glass ( like the 4 right under where you say, "How am I suppose to remember what does what?") above.

    1. Thanks, Christie. The only bad thing about the vivid sketch feature is that those special creative features on the camera seem to eat batteries, partially, I guess because you need to use the 'live view' screen instead of the viewfinder, and then it takes a moment to process I guess.

      The selective color feature is also really cool, but I haven't figured out how to change the color yet, and really, I should be spending more time figuring out how to set the exposure than getting crazy!

  2. WOW! Those are amazing.

    I need to find a class like that. My poor camera is highly underutilized.


    1. The class is really nothing special. The big thing is spending time with the camera, and keeping track of what does what, so you'll remember. I'm finding that to be a real challenge. I'm actually a little frustrated about what she is NOT covering in the class. I wanted to learn how to handle the less obvious, more advanced camera features, Nd she's just sticking to the basics. She did talk a bit about forcing the flash, but I find that any of my camera settings will not allow you to do that anyhow.

  3. Loved the finger puppets and am going to do them with either my 4th or 5th graders. Thanks! As far as your photos go, I like Images #1, #13, #20, #21 and #33. I like #1 and #33 for their color and think they'd be great for painting inspiration. So what if you are stuck in 50's psychedelia! The composition and warm colors are rich in #13; there is also something nice about the color and balance of #20; and #21 has wonderful olive tones that always appeal to my organic side. So there you go! One persons opinion on your photos and edits!

    1. Thank you, Darcy! These are some of my favorites as well, and #1 definitely will be translated into paint. As for being stuck in psychedelia, you are right, and I am quite happy with the vibrant colors, but, um... that was the late 60's, not the 50's! I know, because I graduated from high school in 1970!

  4. I think they're amazingly cool. I think you should get four huge copies made of your favorites. Have them in gicleé, and then hang them on a large, open wall. They'd be awesome. (Then get new furniture, etc. to match. How fun is that? Art and shopping.)

  5. Love the last few. Let your camera eat batteries. The results are great.

    1. Beth, you are too funny!! Ironically, just today I was ordering several 8x10 prints (actually 8x11, but who's counting) of photos taken with my Canon PowerShot point&shoot, to replace faded old photos shot decades ago, that were on my kitchen wall. We repainted the kitchen, replaced the curtains with the ones I made from fabric purchased at Mood, and the photo wall is the final touch!

      As for the new photos, I'd love to make those giant prints - eventually!