Friday, April 30, 2010

Photos and Etching, 100th post

Above is a scan of my final etching print of Mira installed in her bag. I like her face but am still not happy with the body on the right side, the fur isn't represented quite correctly. Oh well, I am running out of time to work on this plate so this is going to be the final version for now. Maybe I will get access to a press again sometime and be able to do more work on her. The plate was done with a combination of hard ground etching, aquatint, and engraving. Printing was done la Poupee, meaning I applied 2 colors to the plate prior to wiping, Mira is a Burnt Sienna and the background/bag is black ink.  The finished color difference is slight but there and was done to unify the cat as one image. Sorry for the shadows, the paper is wavy because of how it dried, when the ink drys I can press it flatter but right now I need to let it do its thing.  I know I could take the shadows out with Photoshop, but I really don't want to spend that much time on the photo. I have one more plate to print, this last one is of Jack in the Pulpit plants in flower. I will be printing it Tuesday so I will have a scan of it later next week.

I am still adding color to the soft ground plate but will have that done over the weekend and should be able to post a scan of that print with the Jack in the Pulpit. I am not thrilled with the subject of that plate, I think it takes me a while to absorb how to best utilize a new technique in my work and the soft ground was a new technique for me.

Next are 4 of the photos I turned in for my last Photography assignment, they were taken in color and I converted them to black and white in Photoshop. No other Photoshop work was done to them except for cropping. I really like the Red Line Terminal photo, I think that works on several levels. The trip to Boston really allowed me to take more interesting photos than I would have been able to do if I had stayed in Brockton.

            Christopher Columbus Statue in Christopher Columbus Park in Boston

Quincy/Adams Red Line Terminal

Quincy Market, South Market, Boston, MA

Building with Statue in Lobby, Boston, MA.

There were 2 more photos but these are the best. I am sorry I didn't write down the name of the building in the last photo. The one element I am missing here is a person, it would have been a better photo for my assignment if there had been someone in the lobby. Ah well it was a late Saturday afternoon and that would have been asking for a bit much. I was lucky to have cars on the other side of the street.
That is it for this posting which is believe it or not, my 100th blog post. If I were like some of the Bloggers on the Art Quilt List I would have a give a way. Maybe when I reach 200 I will give something away. In the meantime comments are welcome. Let me know what you think of my photos. 

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Photos to Share

Yesterday I took a quick trip into Boston with the purpose of taking photographs for my Photography Class. We are working on an assignment where we have to make some photos in the style of Andre Kertesz. Mr. Kertesz was born in Hungary migrating first to Paris then on the eve of the 2nd World War to America and NYC. He was an early adopter of the 35mm film camera and was one of those who developed the techniques of Photo Journalism. I think I have my photos for the assignment and will post them later in the week, but for today I want to post some other photos I have taken. Above is one I took yesterday along the Rose Kennedy Greenway. This is the park that is planted where the Central Artery used to be in Boston. Since Boston's Big Dig was a project to put that roadway underground it left the land above available for something. So far plans have called for making it into a park. Hopefully it will remain as one. These tulips were in full bloom yesterday and just beautiful. I hope the photograph captures that beauty, in the background you can see some of the other beds that were laid out.

This next photo I took a couple of weeks ago just as plants were starting to leaf out. This was taken in Brockton's Field's Park along the reservoir. The sun was shinning on these - well I guess they are flowers though I am not sure what the bush is, creating this soft glow. I used a shallow depth of field to have the flowers closest to us in focus but blurring the stems and leaves that are in the background. Other than cropping I haven't made any adjustments to the original image.

My last photo was also taken in Field's Park but this one was taken a couple of years ago during the summer. This is a photo of a blooming thistle against the water in the reservoir. For this image I not only cropped it but I did lighten it a bit so that the reflection of the trees in the water has more green, the dark line across the top of the photo is the far shore where the trees are standing.

I am not sure just where I stand on posting photographs to a blog. I am not going to start posting a photo a day as some have done. But I have taken some interesting photos and I do plan on taking more photos, which is partly why I took the class after all, so it doesn't make sense not to share them. So I expect that every now and then I will do a post like this one and share a few of the photos I have taken that I like the best.  As always comments are welcome.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

It's Spring

OK I now consider it officially spring. Above is a photograph I made today at Blue Hill's Reservation of Trout Lilies. They are one of the earliest spring wild flowers, and as you can see are now in bloom. Last year we had a late freeze and the blossoms were malformed so I didn't get any good photos. That said they are pia to photograph because they are only about 6 inches high and the blossom tends to droop a bit so they look at the ground. A bit tricky to photograph through a view finder. I have one more photo of these lovelies for you.
Monday was Patriots Day and the 114th running of the Boston Marathon, not that I run but it is notable that they have been running this race for over 100 years. I didn't realize that I didn't have class on Monday so got up per usual and puttered around working on some things then collected myself and headed out to school, only to find an empty parking lot - hmm well guess that made it pretty obvious there were no classes. So I thought I would head up to Blue Hill Reservation and check on how the Trout Lilies were doing. There were no open blooms on Monday, but it was apparent that it was only a matter of days before there would be flowers to photograph. I made mental plans to come back on Wed. then did some wandering around. Monday morning though a bit on the chilly side was a beautiful sunny day with just a few clouds, so I though I would take some landscape pictures. Well I ended up taking landscape pictures all the way up to the top of Blue Hill and into the observation tower. Even ended up with a picture of Boston to show for it. Visibility was for miles and about as good as it gets in the Boston Metro area. Enjoyed the outing very much though I am not sure I took any really good photos. I will spare you having to look at distance landscapes, photos of Boston, which to be honest from a distance looks like almost any large city.

Tuesday it was back to classes and my Intaglio class. Here I finally have something to show for all the work I have been doing, I finished re-working my tree plate and made 4 good prints. I also applied some aquatint to the Cat in a Bag plate, and applied hard ground to my final plate so I can do some drawing on it at home. I think the image for that plate will be a Jack in the Pulpit. I did a drawing which is OK, but it needs something so I am considering using an older drawing of the flower for a reference or looking up some more reference photos on the internet. Will probably do the latter.
So here is the final version of the tree after aqua-tinting the background top and adding a fair amount of engraved lines to soften the edge between the bottom plate and the aquatint. I scanned this so the shadows are the from the paper not being totally flat on the scanning bed. Paper for Intaglio has to be wet so it doesn't always dry totally flat. When the ink drys a bit more I can press it, but right now I need to let the ink dry. That's it for this post. I have to tint the prints that I did with the soft ground, I also added some engraved lines to that plate after adding some more hard ground etched lines. Will upload a photo of that when I get the tinting done and the print scanned, next post I am sure. In the meantime I am trying to get my cover design for my resume package worked on. I had something for class today, but it was pretty much rejected out of hand by everyone in the class. Oh well, I wasn't in love with it so don't mind going back to the drawing board with it. I have been spending more time with page layout, what images to use, what order to show them, what size to make this and what paper I am going to use to print it on. Did you know that you can no longer get really good paper in a legal size? No where, and I have even checked for web sources. If you want letter size there is plenty to choose from but not legal. Very frustrating but I think I have a solution, at least I hope I do. Will get back to you on how it works. In the meantime comments are always welcome.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Bookcovers & Mandala's

Well it is done, above is my book cover as I submitted it for my Graphic Design project - I had my usual hard time getting the text even semi correct - this is semi correct. Dickens name should really be larger as he is a well known author of a series of books. However he is dead so I know he won't complain, and the slightly smaller font looks better. Never thought about it before but that tendency of book publishers to make the authors name either larger or at least as large as the book title when they become famous must ruin a lot of book cover designs. Not sure how I feel about  this one. It is OK, I guess, the church windows could use more work, and I don't think I have quite got the tombstones color right in the cemetery. But I don't think I am going to do any further work with it at this point.

We are moving on with our next project which is to design a resume portfolio package. I have to say it is fairly discouraging, at least the resume part, as I have no art resume. I should have been trying to do more Intern type work - but even with just 3 courses I knew that I wouldn't be able to do my best work for my classes if I had tried to take on more outside tasks. Ah well, I just have to find the right venue for my skills.

I have been working on my Intaglio prints but don't really have anything to show just yet, maybe next week. But I do have another mandala finished. No clue what I am going to do with these they aren't really marketable but I am sure having fun doing them. This one has an Egyptian theme and of course right now I rather like it.

On a slightly different subject, I have the opportunity to enter 3 pieces into a Student Show at school, I am open to suggestions as to which pieces you think I should enter. Everything I have been doing has been posted to the blog or is on my Portfolio Web site - except for a few more recent pieces. So suggestions are welcome.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Photoshop Tips - Watermark a Photo

No art work this week to show, but in my Photography class we were going over lighting specifically for portraits, and in Photoshop how to add a copyright notice to photographs. Above is a photo that I have added copyright information to using Photoshop. It is really fairly easy to do, I would say almost the hardest part is getting the copyright symbol to show. I have CS3 at home and we were using CS4 at school, I am fairly sure the tip will work with older versions and maybe Elements as well, but I don't have access to those versions so I don't know for sure.

To add what looks like a watermark to a photo, you first open the photo in Photoshop. Then you select the Type tool and change your tool selection to the Type MASK tool, I use horizontal type as vertical type is usually really stupid looking and something I have been trained to avoid in Graphic Design. Select your font and font size (I used 200 for the image above) Click on your picture where you want to put the copyright information, for those who haven't used the Type Mask tool before it is OK that the layer turns red, just go ahead and type where the flashing curser shows up. First you want to create the © symbol. I have listed the various methods for Windows OS below, for Mac's I think it is Command g not sure what the Tradmark and Registered symbol shortcuts are on a Mac, sorry.

          Windows Keyboard Shortcuts:
                 Copyright symbol = Alt 0169
                 Trademark = Alt 0153
                 Registered  = Alt 0174
                 ©  "&#0169"
                 ™ "&#0153"
                 ® "&#0174" 
                 Note: for HTML coding leave out the quote marks.

So to get the copyright symbol on a PC in Photoshop press down the ALT key and type in 0169 on the keypad (make sure num lock is on) . Then type the rest of your copyright information, usually your name and the year.  When you are finished press the check mark that is in the upper right hand menu bar, it is the Commit Edits selection. Now you should have your text outlined in what is referred to as marching ants, because that is sort of what it looks like. Next you want to copy this selection to a new layer, do that by using the menu option LAYER - NEW - LAYER VIA COPY (or Ctl J). Don't worry I know it looks like your text just disappeared but it hasn't. In the layers panel you should now see a new layer and it should be automatically selected. In the lower left area of the layers panel there should be a fx symbol (doesn't look exactly like the text) this is for attributes that you can apply to layers, click on it and a box will come up listing various options, select Bevel and Emboss. Just by selecting this you should now be able to see the text you typed on your Photograph. You can change the various sliders to make the text more obvious if you want. When you are finished just click OK and you are done. Now you can save the file, I usually just use save for web and then cancel any changes to my original photo but you can also save the photo as a copy or before you started making changes to your image you could have copied the background to a new layer and made the changes there. The JPG file format is called Lossy because it is a compressed file. Every time you save the file after changes you loose some information because of the compression. So I try to keep my original photos without any changes and if I make changes to a photo I just save that under a new name using SAVE AS. Do what works for you. So now you know how to create a watermark in Photoshop.

These last two images are the same photo, we were doing studies using light, and I took a photo of this doll with back lighting. Notice how dark her face is since I didn't use the flash. If I were photographing a person I would be using a reflector to the front or side to lighten their face but it can also be done to a certain degree by using Photoshop. All I did to the 2nd image was open the original in Photoshop then selected the following menu option - IMAGE - ADJUSTMENTS - SHADOW/HIGHLIGHT... The photo automatically lightened because of the presets, but you can also use the sliders to do additional adjusting. If you like the results you can press OK, otherwise use the cancel button. I think this option is very cool, and can be very useful exp. for photos like the one on the left above.

That is it for this post. I could have talked a bit about what I learned about lighting people for portraits but I think I will save that for another day. Hopefully for my next post I will have some art work to show. In the meantime comments are welcome.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Narrative Story and Other

Above is my latest Graphic Design project. The project was called Narrative Story on the handout, and the idea was to illustrate an important event/time in our lives. Before we did any design work we first had to write a 3 page paper about the event. I chose to write about my freshman year in college, when I failed my English Composition class and became friends with my African American roommate. Failing English was traumatic, I wasn't an outstanding English student in high school, but I had never failed a class. Normally my work was a good solid C. Support from my roommate helped me to hold it all together.

Anyway above is my final design for this assignment. Work was entirely done in Adobe Illustrator. I did use reference photos for the line work on the desks, window, lamp and birds, but there are no photo's used in the finished work. I am rather pleased with how this turned out, esp. as I was a bit concerned about what I was going to do for this project.

In Photography we have been playing with Adobe Photoshop and had to create a spoof ad. I don't really like what I did so I am not going to post it. Lets just say I spoofed a sewing machine ad from a couple of years ago and let it go at that.

 Soft Ground Proof

In Intaglio I am working on 2 plates, my soft ground plate (proof image above) and one that is supposed to be a combination of techniques. For me, I think I will start with the standard etching then add either sugar lift or aquatint to give me darker areas. In class Tuesday I prepped the plate and applied the hard ground. Over the weekend I had created a drawing from a photograph made several years ago. The photo was a picture of one of my sister's cats resting in a plastic bag. I have a scan of the drawing below, now it just needs to be transferred to the plate.

Drawing of Mira

With the soft ground plate I am adding some darker tones in the top left background and I am going to try and add a door to the house by darkening in an area. I also added some texture to the foreground. The images you do see in the proof were all done by applying a soft ground to the plate, then placing various materials, lace, netting that was a thread keeper on spools, and some pine needles on top of the ground. Then the plate and stuff is run through a press. The materials with the pressure of the press will move the ground aside exposing the copper below. After the run through the press the materials are removed and the plate is put into the etching solution. I had done most of this before our spring break but I didn't get a proof of the plate until this week. 

That is it for this post. Quite a variety of images isn't it? Otherwise I am working on my next mandala, and in graphic design we have started drawings for our next project, a Book Cover Design. I want to take a moment to wish everyone who celebrates a Happy Easter, and a good Passover week. Comments as usual are welcome.