Equipment, Software & Technique

Capturing Lightning Strikes With iPhone

October 14, 2016

The other night I had a great opportunity to capture lightning strikes with an iPhone.  Anyone who lives in Florida knows one thing for sure, we have some dramatic weather, from beautiful skies and sunsets to tremendous lightning storms. It can be quite a show. Now, I am not by any means a storm chaser since I like to seek shelter quickly if the situation demands it.  So for capturing lightning I try to keep it simple and using an iPhone is the utmost in simplicity.

For the two images below I hand held my iPhone, however,  they probably would of been slightly better on a tripod. Everything is better on a tripod and since I am a bit of a perfectionist, I am now looking into a tripod mount for my iPhone. One thing I did use was a great App, iLightningCam, that triggered the camera when a lightning strike was detected.  Every time a strike was detected it would rapidly fire off 5-7 images.  I probably shot 100 images or more to get the two below. I also have an iPad and it was helpful to let them copy to the iPad for viewing editing and deleting.

Tips for capturing lightning with iPhone:

Purchase the App iLightningCam or something similar.

Be sure your iPhone has enough available storage space. The App fires off many images and it takes a lot of tries to good ones.

Make certain you have a fair amount of battery juice available. It takes power to write all those images to your storage.

Use a tripod if you have one or focus on holding the camera steady.

Try to keep the horizon level.

Experiment with the different menu items of the App to find which one works the best for you and your lightning show.

Above all else, stay safe!

Lightning strike on Sarasota Bay


lightning storm sarsota, fl

Thanks for reading and be sure to check out more of my work at


Hermine Inspired Abstract Images

September 3, 2016

The past few days hurricane Hermine inspired me to experiment with some abstract techniques in the studio. Hurricane Hermine was a huge rain event where I live and capturing a few droplets seemed the perfect way to illustrate some of its effects.

This is a shoot I researched to help get out of the box with my thinking and boost creativity. I was working in studio and here is the general set up. The image consists of a mixture of water and oil in a glass container. This container is situated on plexiglass, elevated around 12 inches with a multi- colored cloth beneath.  There are plenty of video tutorials on line demonstrating this technique.  Although the technique did have its challenges, some of the results I found to be very inspiring thus the name of this post Hermine inspired.

The biggest challenge was finding a fast enough shutter speed to freeze the moving water. To create the bubbles, the mixture had to agitated by either gentle moving the container or stirring the mixture of water and oil. However, the agitation created movement of the water and oil causing images to be blurred at lower shutter speeds. On the plus side, it forced me to really work with the Shutter/Aperature/ISO matrix to get some good shots. As with many shoots the more images you take the greater the probability of succeeding.

Thanks for reading and I hope the next time you have some crazy weather in your area, you let your creative juices flow and make some art!

Hermine Inspired Images

“Bubbled Over”

hermine inspired abstract art photograph

“Cellular Activity”

Hermine inspired blue abstract art photograph

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Equipment, Software & Technique

Creating a Digital Signature

June 22, 2016

For quite some time, I have been contemplating creating a digital signature for signing and numbering my prints. Typically, I print on paper allowing an additional half inch on all sides of the print and after I receive the print from printer, I sign on the lower right hand corner of the print. Lately, I have been experimenting with having my work printed on aluminum and plexiglass, thus I wanted to create a digital signature to place on the image prior to printing. After doing some research, I found two different methods. The first involves scanning the signature as a jpg file and manipulating in Photoshop. The second technique is to create a brush of your signature. This is the one I decided on and will go into further detail on the technique.

Creating A Digital Signature

  1. In Photoshop, create a new blank page file.  I found using 3 inches Wide x 2 inches Height; Resolution 300 dpi to work great for prints that are 20 x 30 inches in size. If you are printing smaller or larger you will probably have to experiment with the size of your signature. In addition, you can also use the Transform command to resize the layer once it is on the print.  Also, assign the parameters of Color Profile and Bit Size what ever you most commonly use on the file.

Creating a Digital Signature

2. Select your brush tool. I used the 15 pixel right slant Calligraphy brush, usually with black paint. Depending on your image you may need a different color for the text to be obvious.  If you do not have the Calligraphy brushes imported into Photoshop, you can Append the file and add them from your brush folder.

creating a digital signature

3.  Now comes the fun part. Using your Wacom pen and tablet, write your name on the translucent 3×2 file you created. Be prepared to experiment with this because you probably will not like your first try. Just go back in your History Palette to erase and start over. Once you get your signature the way you want it, save it as a Brush Preset and you will have it ready and available at any time.  Actually, I had a lot of fun with this part.


4. To place on an image, just open both files in Photoshop. Drag and drop the layer from your signature file onto your image. From there you can use the Transform tool to resize if necessary and place where you want it.

Whether you are creating a digital signature for fine art prints or using this technique to watermark your images, remember to have fun when you are creating your digital signature.  Thanks for reading and check out my work  at

Checking In

Memorial Day – A Day of Thanks

May 30, 2016

Each year it seems Memorial Day for me gets more moving.  When I was younger, it meant off of school or work, with long weekends for play and party. Although, I still play a lot on any weekend and would like to think I am still young, I do give more thought to this holiday, Memorial Day. I often think about the circumstance our servicemen and women experienced being away from home and especially being faced with fighting a war. Mostly I believe they are just young people going to fight a war they maybe did not even understand and going to places on the other side of the world away from family and friends. Like with any decision, we all make them for many different reasons and often experience outcomes never anticipated. I am, however, eternally grateful for all military people who decided to serve and are currently serving, who work everyday to protect the life and liberties that we so enjoy and often take for granted.  You are very special people and I offer a very sincere Thank You!

“Red, White & Blue”

memorial day tribute

                                           Memorial Day Tribute to All Service Personnel … Thank you!

Thanks for reading and more of my work can be viewed at


Creativity Inspiration

March 28, 2016

Creativity inspiration comes in many forms and often amazes me what may ignite it. We just celebrated a holiday weekend when amidst fun, food and frolic I experienced I heavy sensory stimulation to my taste buds; I was on the verge of orgasm. Now that may be a little bit of an overstatement, however, I did get your attention!

Just like anything else, creativity inspiration needs attention and enrichment. Here are a few techniques I have found to help jump start mine.

Creativity Techniques

  • Keep an open mind.
  • Look at others work.   As Salvador Dali once said “Those who do not want to imitate anything, produce nothing.” Looking at art always simulates ideas, often unrelated to whatever I was looking at. I may be reminded of an idea I previously had or a technique I want to use again on a specific piece.
  • Read about other artist’s creativity inspiration. There is a lot of great information out there on the web and also many wonderful books, iBooks and podcasts regarding this subject. One of my favorites is “Steal Like An Artist” by Austin Kleon.
  • Write. This is very effective for me. Get a notebook and everyday write down all the miscellaneous thoughts and issues that keep playing in your head. The result is you purge your brain of some of the small stuff, which, allows room for creative thoughts to surface.
  • When all else fails just get in your creative work space or on location and just do busy work. For me I may straighten up my studio or clean my camera or maybe even sharpen pencils. Many times this sparks creativity!

So to bring this full circle what exactly cranked my creativity this time?  As mentioned, we just celebrated a holiday. Of course, there was a wonderful meal and for dessert we had eclairs that were actually warm. Now, I have not had an eclair in years, probably since my childhood. And, although, my Mom was a dessert nut and did make eclairs along with many other delightful desserts, I can not remember experiencing a warm one. My mouth was watering as I ate it. Now that was a first for me and just goes to show new experiences are open to you at any time, if you let your creativity loose.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any eclair photos to share, but I wanted to post a few other dessert images from my extensive stock image library. Maybe I can get your mouth watering also! Enjoy!!

creativity inspiration

creativity inspiration dessert image

creativity inspiration strawberries

Thanks for reading! Check out more of my work on my website.

Equipment, Software & Technique

Night Photography Tips

February 10, 2016

Night photography is always fun and can produce exciting images especially when there are some stunning lights or fireworks to capture. I was fortunate the other evening to notice some awesome lights being reflected on Sarasota Bay very close to where I live. So close actually, I was out there shooting the skyline in my bathrobe.  Now that alone would of been a great photograph! I have seen the water very still before and some nice reflections, but never such vibrant lights being reflected. Overall, the air and water temperatures were on the cooler to cold side so maybe that contributed to the colorful reflections. It truly was magical, so I grabbed my camera and tripod and got to work doing night photography.

Night Photography Tips

  1. Pump up your ISO. I used 400 for the photo below. Unfortunately, with anything much higher than ISO 400 combined with the low light conditions of night photography you may see a lot of noise.
  2. A tripod is a must or something very sturdy to support your camera.
  3. Use Manual Mode on your camera. This will allow you to adjust independently your Aperture and Shutter Speed.
  4. Keep your Aperture as wide as you can. If the distance between your camera and subject matter is great as in the image below, f4.5 to f5.6 will work just fine, producing sharp in focus images.
  5. You will also have to open up your Shutter to allow more light. On the camera’s meter my image was a good 1-2 stops underexposed.
  6. A remote shutter release is recommended or you can also use the timer on your camera.
  7. Take lots of snaps at various Aperture and Shutter speeds and be sure to bracket, bracket, bracket.  Experimenting and practice is the best teacher for night photography along with photography in general.
  8. Remember to bring a flashlight.  This believe me is a critical tool for doing night photography.

“Night Lights”

Night photography of Sarasota Skyline

Sarasota skyline at night.

Well, I hope these night photography tips have been helpful. Now go have some fun shooting your local skyline or any other interesting lights in your neighborhood or city.

Thanks for reading and more of my work can be viewed at

Checking In

Copyright Symbol Tips ©

January 18, 2016

I probably use the copyright symbol ©  daily as I prepare images for the web. Not only does it make me feel as though the image is somewhat protected, I think it looks kind of cool on the image. It is so incredibly easy to do and I encourage you to put your name along with the copyright symbol on your work also.  Some people suggest the date should also be included along with the symbol. I think for commercial work this is incredibly important. For my fine art work, I find it to be a bit intrusive. I do of course complete the metadata file with the copyright symbol,  date, and also with the phrase:  All Rights Are Reserved for any images I post to the web.

Creating the Copyright Symbol

On a Mac: press alt/g

On a PC: Press the Alt key/key in 0169 on numeric keypad

Here are a couple of images with the copyright symbol on them. I created the symbol and text in Photoshop using the text tool. Once I knew my standard image size, it was easy to create an Action in Photoshop to generate the the copyright symbol along with any text, font size and color you may want to add.  With the addition of a Photoshop Action placing the necessary symbol and text on your images is now an extremely quick and easy task.  Another important step to protecting your work is to consider registering your images with the Copyright Office in Washington DC. Over the years this process has become quite easy also especially since currently it can be done all on line.

rustic farmhouse sepia toned print with copyright symbol

“Desperation” © Susan McAnany – All Rights Are Reserved


Pepper kitchen art print with copyright symbol

“Pepper Line” © 2007  Susan McAnany – All Rights Are Reserved


Thanks for reading and if you have time, check out more of my work at

Checking In

2016 Motto

January 8, 2016

As the new year rolls in, I’m inspired to come up with a 2016 Motto versus a New Year’s resolution this year.  The problem with New Year’s resolutions is they are often forgotten by the end of January. I know I am guilty of that and I am sure many of you are too.  I am at a funny stage in my work, eager to branch into something new and exciting yet waiting for a few personal things to happen so I can move forward. But yet, I still have my camera, my eyes, my creativity and two strong legs to get me around. So as I look at my situation and my creative desires that need fulfilling.  I am making a commitment to the following 2016 Motto:

  “Strive to capture the extraordinary in the ordinary!”

I tend to to this anyway as evident in my Misconceptions Project.  To this day that work still inspires me and I am always on the look out for new and exciting ideas.  Finding words that pinpoint my 2016 Motto has helped me craft a vision for my work or maybe in my case renew my vision. Throughout my life and creative development I have found re-accessing a couple of times a year is always helpful.  Also good is to reflect and think about the things that have worked and not worked over the past 6 or 12 months. I probably should be doing that every 3 months to be perfectly honest. I guess as another inspired person once said, “Life is a evolution, not a revolution”.

Here are a couple of prints illustration my 2016 Motto “Strive to capture the extraordinary in the ordinary”:
2016 motto circular abstract art print

“Obsessive ” © Susan McAnany


Colorful condoms fine art print 2016 motto

“Security Force” © Susan McAnany

Thanks for visiting and check out more of my work at

Checking In

Holiday Wishes

December 20, 2015

My holiday wishes for you are moments of sheer joy, feelings of peace and security in your everyday life, gratefulness for all that you have and don’t have.  Below are a couple of favorite poems, one for dreaming, the other for pondering. Maybe next year I will write a few of my own. Writing does seem to pair well with photography and also helps juice the creative flow!  Thanks for visiting and my holiday wishes for you extend into the New Year. May it be a wonderful one for you and your loved ones!

holiday wishes and decorations

© Susan McAnany

Holiday Wishes

We wish for you a holiday
That’s better than your dreams,
Filled with peace, good will and hope
And firelight that gleams,

Overflowing with holiday spirit
Good food and holiday laughter;
And when it’s done, We hope that you
Live happily ever after!

By Joanna Fuchs



Sitting under the mistletoe
(Pale-green, fairy mistletoe),
One last candle burning low,
All the sleepy dancers gone,
Just one candle burning on,
Shadows lurking everywhere:
Some one came, and kissed me there.

Tired I was; my head would go
Nodding under the mistletoe
(Pale-green, fairy mistletoe),
No footsteps came, no voice, but only,
Just as I sat there, sleepy, lonely,
Stooped in the still and shadowy air
Lips unseen – and kissed me there.

By Walter De La Mare

Happy Holidays From My Studio To You!!


Checking In

PNC Corporate Collection

November 10, 2015

So thrilled that three of my prints have been selected for inclusion in PNC Corporate Collection.  Further editions from these three great series are available by contacting me through my website.  I know all of them will look great hanging in their new corporate building and I am so thankful to be included.

“Abstract Triangle” and “Abstract Vertical” were shot in studio where I focused on lines and color to create modern contemporary abstract series out of pieces of vintage chalk.  I totally enjoyed that process.  “Peaceful Coconut” was shot on location after a huge Florida tropical storm and I came across a green coconut. I was attracted to the way the coconut survived barely scathed after high winds, rain and a huge fall from probably 50 feet. It truly gave me  a wonderous moment of appreciation for nature.

All three of the prints are some of my favorites and I am so pleased to be included in PNC’s Corporate Collection.  Thank you!!

Title: “Abstract Triangle”

abstract art print in corporate collection

Title “Abstract Vertical”

Abstract art print purchased for corporated collection

Title: “Peaceful Coconut”

coconut print in corporate collection


Thanks for taking a look and more of my work can be viewed on my website.