Have you ever witnessed the yin yang effect in your life? Well, I believe I experience it frequently or maybe it is some kind of mid life crisis. I especially see it in my creative interests. One month I am photographing prisons and graffiti and the next I am mixing paints to create some vibrant macro abstractions guaranteed to make your eyes pop.
Or maybe the swing in interest is due to my birth date, which happens to be right on the cusp between the Zodiac signs of Cancer and Leo. I have been told at certain times it can (and does) create conflicting feelings and actions. Cancer being the conservative homebody and Leo the outgoing risk taker.
There’s a theory in photography, a person should totally embrace what they like to shoot and focus only on that one interest in the hopes of achieving perfection. I certainly see merit to that, although, for me I also see a certain amount of boredom setting in. I look at my portfolio and see a huge range of diversity and that is only viewing what is online . Maybe it is due to the length of time I have been shooting or maybe it is the yin-yang effect in my life. I just don’t seem to be able to settle into something permanently. Once I shot a magazine containing portraits of 100 different woman from all walks of life. While the experience was fun, I learned a lot and met many different, wonderful women, I was happy when it was over. Ready to get back to art.
Regardless of the cause, I am happy with opposite interests in my life. Here are a couple of examples of what I have been working on from the Abstract Category on my website.
This week I have been wrestling with Color Profiles and Photoshop’s CS5.
Now, my typical workflow is to shoot in RAW, my camera set to Adobe RGB Color Profile. From what I have read there is a greater color gamut using this profile and my current thought process is more is always better. My software of choice is Adobe Bridge, Photoshop’s CS5 along with plugins from Nik and Topaz. I save my files as layered TIFF and prior to uploading to the web, I will re-size, convert to sRGB and save as jpgs. For some of my prints, or commercial print projects I often need to convert my files to CMYK. This workflow has served me well over the last several years.
However, I have just been working on a batch on images and I noticed many of my Tiff files have the sRGB profile as their Working and/or Embedded Color Space. Initially I wasn’t sure how this happen, thus it motivated me spend time researching more about color profiles.
Now I am by no means a techie person, so I try to decipher things down to simplistic concepts that I can easily remember. Like most photographers I am the happiest behind the camera in my creative zone. I am however aware of the importance of a calibrated monitor, printer and selecting correct printer paper profiles and I do this to the best of my ability. But now I am looking at embedded profiles and working color spaces, what is this all about??
After doing several hours of reading, I found out a few core things that have helped clarify my mind on this subject.
Now we all know color is defined by numbers and a Color Profile is how color’s numerical value visually appear, however, I didn’t know that a Raw file has no Color Profile and any type of profile is pretty much device specific.
The Working Space defines what color profile is used in the different color models such as RGB and CMYK. These profiles are specified in the Color Settings Dialog Box in Photoshop (Edit > Settings) and provides the info for an embedded profile. Mine was set to sRGB causing the previously mentioned problem.
The Embedded Color Profile is the numeric value a monitor or internet browser uses to display colors and often they display in sRGB, especially the internet. It is embedded in the image when an image is saved. The data for the embedded profile comes from either EXIF data captured when your image was taken or what is in your Color Settings Dialog Box in Photoshop if a Raw file is launched into Photoshop without using an interface software program, such as Bridge Camera Raw.
In Photoshop, once you have established your parameters to the Color Settings Dialog Box, you have the option to use the command Convert To Profile to change an Embedded Color Profile. You can even convert an entire folder easily using the Image Processor. Choose File > Scripts > Image Processor. Another handy tool is the Assign Profile, which allows you to view how colors in an image will look with a different profile, but this is not an effective way to change an Embedded Profile.
Below is a link to an interesting read about the subject from someone who knows far more than me. I also found some useful information on Adobe’s website.
I have had an infatuation with graffiti art for some time. For me there is something very liberating and rebellious about finding a public place and making art, knowing it will probably be around for only a very limited time. Usually it is either painted over by authorities or often another graffiti artist.
I also admire the skill and vision that must be involved to paint some very elaborate designs with a can of spray paint. No pencil sketches allowed. My first exposure to spray paint art was in my teens when a friend offered to paint a wall in my bedroom with a face of one of my favorite rock stars, Frank Zappa, using neon spray paint. Cool idea. Needless to say, my mother was not too thrilled, but she did allow me to keep it. I think even she recognized it as a form of art.
Graffiti art can vary from simplistic designs such as the Skippy Girls in Australia to the mayhem I recently photographed in Philadelphia. Sometimes the artist is conveying a message, either political, social or gang related, other times it can be terrific mural. Generally, they are tagged, which is the artist’s signature. All are impressive and I stop to view and photograph when ever possible. Enjoy the graffiti images below and if interested in seeing more please visit my website, Susan McAnany Photography.
Writing about “Lessons from a Dog” is a way I can pay tribute to my beloved, Bailee, a 17 year old Wirehaired Pointing Griffon, who very recently passed away.
She was 55 pounds of sporting breed energy and of course adorable and very smart. I got her initially for companionship, protection and something to motivate me to get walking. She provided all those things and so much more.
I was incredibly fortunate to have this dog in my life. I have no children, so of course she became “my girl”. Pets are the perfect child substitute; they love you unconditionally even when you drop them off for boarding and return days or weeks later to pick them up. They are always happy to see you. Another great benefit is no college tuition to pay, although Bailee did require her share of obedience schools and private trainers due to her willful nature. But that made her all the more human to me.
She loved to do the outrageous, she could dive to the bottom of our 10 foot deep swimming pool and retrieve a toy. She would hunt squirrels in the yard in Maryland and lizards in Florida yielding the areas completely barren. I think her proudest moment was when a wild bird had gotten into the house and she caught it midair. Her bite was so soft, she didn’t even hurt the bird, just released it when we requested. (Of course I was frantic and screaming.)
Although I knew her passing was near, it is still a painful experience, but also a thought provoker. As I think about her, and our life together I am reminded of the many great personality traits she exhibited daily. Here are a few lessons from a dog I learned:
Trust Your Instincts
Whether hunting in the yard or protecting her human pack, she operated instinctively. I do this also, but sometimes I question my own gut feeling. In photography, if I see a great shot I vow to stop and take it. When my gut tells me to light a certain way in the studio, I will take the time and effort required to do exactly what my instincts are telling me to do.
Time Is Inconsequential
I do my best work and am the happiest when I live and work in the moment, A dog does that EVERY single moment of their life. This was so evident living with a dog experiencing declining health. One day she may be near death and the next day running jubilantly through the yard totally obvious to her previous bad day. But we humans often are looking towards the next thing we are going to do or recounting past experiences unable to fully embrace the moment we are currently experiencing. To be present in the moment and enjoy each one is worth the extra effort.
Take time to Stretch
A good stretch feels good any time and is good for you, which is why animals do it all the time. It is good for your muscles, ligaments and organs. But let me take it further and use my imagination to stretch my thinking and creativity. I plan to stay out of my box.
Eat Your Vegetables
Up until her final years, Bailee loved carrots and broccoli and I firmly believe eating those, along with generally a healthy diet, good exercise and lots of loving extended her life. The breed’s expected lifespan is only 12-14 years. So eat up!
This is perhaps my favorite. Bailee attacked life. From the moment she came into my life at 8 weeks till her passing 11 days shy of 17 years, she was so inquisitive and would try anything. Once she escaped the yard and was found on the beach close to the house. Well, I know she didn’t walk on the path. She undoubtedly ran up the street, cut through the private golf course (probably dropped a load along the way) and trespassed though some private beachfront properties to get to the beach to sniff, run and play. I am sure there was not an ounce of fear in her. She was a true adventurer. Now I am not recommended trespassing, but if a questionable or risky opportunity arises, I am going take it and think of Bailee.
My man and I feel a huge void in our lives since her passing. I know as time goes on life will fill the void and the pain will diminish, but for this week I am content to reminisce and savor her memory. To view more images of “my girl” or learn about Wirehaired Pointing Griffons check out her website.
A few months ago I started making a conscious effort each month to look at an Artist whose work inspires a level of excitement deep inside me. I find looking at different Artist’s work takes my work to a higher level and helps me define my personal vision. I haven’t really sought out a specific artist, they usually just show up in my life. All I have to do is take notice.
One month a friend wanted to visited the new Dali Museum just built in St Petersburg, FL. I was so taken with Salvador Dali’s work, we spent all day there, which is odd for me because I usually can only handle a couple of hours in a museum and my mind begins to roam. In addition, I bought books and continued to research more on the internet when I came home. At the time I was very focused on compositing images and Dali’s work unleashed so many ideas in my head I felt on fire. He was ahead of his time in thinking and creativity and would certainly be a superstar in today’s Photoshop world.
Another month I stumbled across a PBS special on Francesca Woodman, a dedicated Artist and Photographer best known for her black and white images mostly of herself and female models, often nude. She would use long exposure and movement to capture incredible blurred images of her subjects and their environments. In her short life she produced a huge volume of work that is unique and quite powerful. Unfortunately, she committed suicide at age 22, but her life and struggles touched me as I too struggle with the mental aspect of balancing that inner artist with the outside world.
This month I came across a more current Artist/Photographer, Jerry Uelsmann, in my Digital PhotoPro magazine. Uelsmann’s work is phenomenal and all done in the darkroom. I admired that right away. The darkroom is truly magical, but he takes it to another level. Beautiful, thought provoking photo montages of surreal imagery, with the interpretation left to the viewer. I liked reading about his unique approach to forming an image with the final step leaving it Untitled so not to influence the viewer’s perception. Now, that’s deep! I definitely will be looking more into Uelsmann’s work this month.
Searching or researching a new camera bag can be both enlightening and a grueling experience. It seems my gear is continuing to grow and my shoulders and neck are oh so feeling the pain. Also, I have some trips planned so I thought this might be a good time to invest in a rolling bag designed specifically for camera gear. After a quick look on line, I realized I better figure out exactly what I am looking for in this bag to be able to narrow down my choice.
Here was my criteria for a camera bag:
1) Had to be a rolling bag.
2) Wanted one I could work out of and did not require laying the bag flat and totally unzipping to access gear.
3) Had to accommodate my computer in addition to camera bodies and lenses.
4) I didn’t want anything too big. The bigger the bag, the more stuff I will shove into it and then I will have problems getting the bag into the overhead compartment on the plane.
5) I wanted some way to attach my tripod.
I had remembered reading something in my NAPP (National Assoc. of Photoshop Professionals) magazine about “Think Tanks Airstream”. I like those guys and value their opinion. Unfortunately, when I looked at the bag, I realized I would have to totally unzip the bag to retrieve any gear. Also accommodating a computer required purchasing an additional case.
Next, I researched Lowepro and their line of rolling bags. The Pro Roller Attache X50 looked interesting with its two bags in one concept and it had been highly rated in an article I had read. However, after a closer look I realized my camera (a full frame camera) and gear would really be a tight squeeze. The bag was just too small.
I also realized accommodating a tripod with any these bags just wasn’t an option. I guess that goes into checked luggage.
I currently use a Tamrac bag and I like it, but unfortunately their rolling bags just seem to large. I also looked at several other manufacturers and back packs and was beginning to get a bit discouraged when I remembered about Jill-E Designs camera bags. I currently own one of their bags and I have always been impressed with their quality and style. Sure enough, there it was, the Large Rolling Bag, and it was love at first sight. A cute, stylish bag with a zipper on top to allow easy access to my camera gear and computer. And best of all, three color choices. I hope it looks as good in person as it does on the internet!
I have to make an update to this post, because unfortunately I had to return the beautiful red Jill-E Bag. It was just a bit too big and heavy for my needs. If however, my need was to wheel a lot of equipment to a location and leave it parked as I worked from the bag, the bag would of been perfect. It was very well made and stylish. Hope this helps!
One last word, what a special day it is; Feb 29. Once every four years we gain an extra day to make art and have fun!
Recently I bought a new macro lens to take my photography to a higher creative level. I have to admit the Canon MP-E 65 mm macro lens is a beast I have never encountered before. I call it the mighty macro for it allows a 5:1 close up range, meaning I can photograph something as small as a grain of rice. The lens is not without challenges and certainly test my patience. It is manual focus lens and the depth of field is so shallow, image stacking is required but the creative possibilities are unlimited. Lighting is also a key factor, but I love working in my studio, so I am delighted to have this new tool. Once I master the basics, I plan to produce a series of abstract images, which I can add to my “Misconceptions” Collection or maybe I will start a new series called “Macronanay”. Below is my first print available using this lens. It is a combination of 10 different photos.
My boyfriend launched this blog for me and I must admit I am excited and a little intimidated. My plan is to keep it up to date with hopefully some interesting and amusing tales about the fast paced world of fine art photography I am involved in. I can’t believe it is already the end of Feb, 2012. I feel like time is moving like a high speed roller coaster, with many creative ideas and projects and not enough peaks or time to create them all. Thank goodness for notepads! To view my current work, check out www.susanmcanany.com. As always, thanks for visiting.