Cats Are Easier Than Web Programming

You just take the plastic off the box. That's all you do. Remove the Gatorade label, the cat is happy, life goes on. Unlike web design. I spent I don't know how many hours today restoring the back up of this site.... I finally called tech support, after fiddling and diddling because I'm bullheaded like that. Picture a 3 year old dressing herself. I can do it mySELF! Yeah, well, I did ok. The thing that was entirely holding me back was 5 files in the wrong place, 3 of which had extra extensions from the backup (HEY! Pay ATTENTION! I see your eyes glazing!) so I had to rename them, removing wp-content-_____ and move them. TADA! I have finally learned that calling tech support is not a sin, venal or mortal. So anyway, I'm back shooting again. I was on Lyrica for a couple ofย years or so, and one of the <insert sarcasm tag here> awesome side effectsย </sarcasm off> is a loss of balance and shaking hands. I cried, and put the cameras down. It broke my heart. I have no joy in shooting with a tripod. Anyway, I gave up on the drug when I saw a friend using a cane and leaning in the breeze like a drunken sailor... I thought, do I look like that? I don't pretend to be the greatest photographer in the world, and I sure don't have the latest equipment, but that's your advantage because you probably don't either and you just may be tired of being talked down to. Here I am. If you don't know something, ask, email privately if you like and want to be anonymous and I'll do my best to answer you or point you in a good direction. Let's have some fun together, at any rate. That's what art is, right? Now I better get the plastic off the box.
Glowing cat eyes peering into my soul.
Remove plaztik, hooman. I need box time.

Shake, Rattle and Roll

With the lovely auto-immune issues I seem to be saddled with, I seem to quite often be victim to my hands shaking like aspen leaves in a high wind. It happens most often when I've worked beyond my limits, and am reaching exhaustion.ย  As you can figure, shaking hands and photography do not mix. So what can you do to help with the problem if you also fight a bit of palsy? There's always using tripods and remote triggers, of course. Modern cameras also have a 'vibration reduction' feature, which is some help. There are a few other things you can do, too. I have to admit, though, that the lighter the camera, the fuzzier the picture. It seems almost impossible for me to get a completely sharp shot on my cellphone, for instance. They usually turn out somewhat 'artistic'. ๐Ÿ˜‰ You can try leaning on things. Keep your elbows close to your body instead holding your camera waaaay out at the end of your arms swinging in mid-air. Yeah, I know, those LCD viewfinders make that tough. Rather than inhaling and holding your breath, exhale slowly while clicking. I also use a multishot setting when I take pictures, quite often. In other words, the camera takes more than one picture while I have the shutter depressed. Sometimes the second is sharper than the first. You might just catch everyone's eyes open, too. ๐Ÿ™‚ If you have a choice, make sure that your shutterspeed is faster than the length of your lens, at the very least, and faster than 1/125 a second or more so that the fast shutter speed can make up for your wobble and bobble. So those are a few ways that you can sharpen up your photos, rather than being doomed to fuzzy 'art' shots. Along that line, let me show off one of my newest lines at Zazzle. It's sporting a head of curly hair with fun pink highlights, and says 'I'm not gray, I'm Chrome!' in honor of all of us who are joining the Gray Hair Revolution, and owning our status as Natural Queens! So if you want to shout to the world that you earned every one of those lovely chrome strands, check out my store! ๐Ÿ™‚ Find the Chrome Hair Travel Mug Here. It's Customizable! Have a great day, and don't forget to encourage someone along the way! Cheryl  

Feeling Like a ‘Real’ Artist

Have enough confidence to get out there and try.
Lately on my FB page I've been sharing gorgeous photos by a variety of artists. Just astounding work, and more than a few didn't have a formal photographic or art education. Not saying they didn't have mentors, or people who gave them honest feedback on their work and a real drive to stretch themselves artistically, but that they didn't sit in a classroom with a teacher and earn a certificate of mastery. Sometimes I sense a lack of confidence from individuals that have done that, like they somehow don't feel as worthy as someone with a degree. Many of us lack the confidence to share our vision and our work with others, and that is a shame.ย  I see so many people put themselves down for being "self-taught"... which just means that you had to really put yourself out there to find your own mentors instead of being able to benefit from a more organized approach. Funny thing is I don't see that attitude as much in younger people, but in older ones that are just getting around to expanding themselves artistically and fulfilling their own dreams. Maybe because they finally have time now that they're not doing laundry every minute. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I couldn't help but think of that when I recently saw an ad for a photographer that said he had over 35 years as a "professional", had been trained in the military, and graduated thus and so from such and such a school, etc. I wrote down his website and I looked at his portfolio when I got home. I could tell pretty much when he graduated... about 1983, I'm thinking. Considering his background and education I was surprised he'd let himself get so stagnant. I'm wondering if sometimes (not all the time) people think that what they learned in school is all they'll ever need to know, and stop exploring new ways to express their art. I have seen many portraitists that were in business way back when that didn't stick with the one approach or pose or lighting that was 'in' when they started and don't have a dated or repetitive look to their work. Consistent quality is one thing, the same picture over and over is another. Einstein is credited with saying 'Education is what is left when you've forgotten everything you learned in school.' Of course, many self-taught photographers do the same thing, they go so far and no farther. Maybe they like a certain look and sort of get stuck there... You could argue that's their personal style, and what people look for from them, I guess. In Art there isn't really a right or wrong. It's not the same as being a mechanic, when either something runs or it doesn't. Sometimes life gets in the way for awhile and you have more important things to do than go out at dawn and take pictures in that lovely blue light, so you don't get to explore that, or you can't take a class that you want to take right now...ย  Maybe right nowย  you need to sleep while you can after the baby's kept you up all night. Yeah, life interferes with art sometimes, but that's good too, because all those experiences of life roll into your art eventually. I guess my point is to keep pushing yourself, ask yourself if you can do something differently or a little better than you used to. Look at other people's work, and use it to inspire you to do something new and different. Benefit from constructive criticism. Don't get stuck in 1983.... Better yet, use your work to inspire someone else to reach for the confidence to share their joy and passion with others. Sharing the beauty you see is another way to 'pay it forward' and be a mentor for others. ๐Ÿ™‚Have enough confidence to get out there and try.

WOW! Greeting Card Universe Card of the Day!

Color me pleased, proud, and astounded. I've recently started submitting card designs to Greeting Card Universe as a sideline for my art, and my very first submission was picked as GCU's Card of the Day today!
GCU Card of the Day!
If you like the card and want to pick up one for yourself, You'll find it here. See... told you that when you reach out and try something new, sometimes it just works out. ๐Ÿ™‚ Wow... Cheryl

Learning From Mistakes and Shooting Horses. With a Camera, Silly!

Was going back through old pictures yesterday weeding and pruning, and found myself getting more and more irritated at technical mistakes, and pictures that I had remembered as being so cool being 'meh'. I had to stop and make myself remember the circumstances surrounding some of those images. New equipment, less than ideal circumstances, lousy borrowed equipment, lousy old scanner, learning a new technique... And dear lord that was 12 years ago, just get over it already! LOL So many times we look at other people's work and think 'Why can't I do that, or be that?' and we can feel pretty sorry for ourselves and give up... and here we have quit another thing we enjoyed because we're not as good as someone else yet. But how do you know how many thousands of photos they didn't show, or how many years they took to learn the same things you are learning now? Some years back a famous photographer did a farm call for an acquaintance and she proudly showed me her raft of proofs... over 100 of them, which is a lot on a medium format film camera. In all those proofs there were 2 that I thought were marketable images of her horses to represent her farm, but I didn't tell her that. Now, in that photographer's favor every picture was in focus and beautifully exposed. Horses are a tough subject, and if the owner has not hired a competent handler for the day or has a messy farm the photographer's job becomes very tough. Horses also have a tiny little span of attention, so if you have one that isn't very attractive or charismatic, you may only get one shot at a decent picture. That said, some horses, like some people, don't do anything without seeming to pose for the papparazzi. I love those. Anyway, at the time I was young and idealistic, and really thought that photographer walked on water before I saw those proofs. Of course, just about when you get on a high horse, along comes a low limb to knock you back to earth (usually with an oomph and hearty thud). My reality check came when I had a session at a farm with old rusty trucks and tires everywhere, broken fences, no skilled handlers, and out of shape, ungroomed, untrained horses. How's that for the perfect storm? Luckily I had a friend with me who had some skill with setting an Arabian up halter style, which means feet squared and head up with an arched neck, looking alert. She had a lot on her hands with the nippy little sow's ear of a stud we were supposed to be turning into a silk purse that day... So she finally got him to stand on all four feet with his ears up as well as his manly parts tucked in, my finger was tightening on the shutter button, when suddenly my lens was filled with a big hot pink polyester backside. I dropped the camera along with my jaw, and yup, there was my client's rear end between me and my camera's eye view of the horse. She said she wanted to see what I was seeing... How do you politely work through that minefield, I ask you? I got the giggles so bad I sat down, as I gasped out that all I could see was her bottom, now. Probably not a tactful response, but at least I don't remember rocking back and forth while insanely laughing in the fetal position... But I digress. Never did get a picture of the colt that the client was satisfied with, but we did manage to get a few nice pictures that day of some other horses, without too many near misses. Or any more pink polyester pictures. I learned some lessons on that job, including who to trust with your negatives. (Yeah, I can hear you groaning from here. I already said I was really young!) The point is, though, that you need to not let your fear of failure or your embarrassment over past mistakes own you. Making mistakes is ok. Sometimes the best you've got is all you've got, and you can't really learn a thing until you do it. Learn to see your mistakes so you can improve on them, not beat yourself up over them. The ability to take criticism constructively is one of the hardest qualities to develop. It takes maturity to use criticism to improve, even when it's not given tactfully, so give yourself some credit and use it as another building block, not as a reason to throw up your hands and walk away in frustration.... and you never know, when you get better at editing, maybe you'll be able to do something really cool with those old mistakes you made. ๐Ÿ™‚ Since I've talked so much about horses, here's a couple small tips for good horse photographs: Stand back and use your zoom is the most important. At about 105mm on a full frame camera you get rid of the distortion that the end of the horse nearest you is bigger. (That's also the usual focal length for taking flattering pictures of people.) The focal length of the lens (the mm setting), is why you see all those pictures of horses with giant heads and tiny little bodies or riders. If all you have is a wide-angle or normal lens (anything under around 55mm, or a point and shoot camera with no zoom), make sure the horse is standing broadside to the camera. Your best angle is also in a low position, about the level of the flank, so get on one knee, like you see the pros do. Just those 2 things will make a great difference in your horse pictures. This photo is from a much nicer farm call, at Seven Cedars Arabians. No pink polyester. ๐Ÿ˜‰