Thursday, January 27, 2011

This means being wrong about some things.

Bird Sunset Crop, originally uploaded by Sven1976.

"When new knowledge comes, we have to make room for it; we have to part with old knowledge; that means admitting that we were wrong about certain things. Part of this new knowledge may involve seeing how you were taught to allow people to treat you badly and not to speak up for yourself. I am not saying that you deserve what happened. I am saying that all of us are taught disempowering habits of cultural accommodation, and as we grow and get knocked around we have to examine them and learn how to protect ourselves. If you examine the social behaviors you were taught as a young child, and the belief system you carried into adulthood, you may find the cruel habits of those around you mirrored in your own psyche. That can be painful. But it is one of the only sure routes to change." - Cary Tennis

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Where there's snow, there's amoebic dysentery

Proof that, "Where there's snow, there's amoebic dysentery." @plumbob78

Monday, January 24, 2011

I call this piece "my graceful descent."

The second in my self-portrait series, I call this piece "my graceful descent."
I call this piece "my graceful descent downhill.", originally uploaded by spleeness.
Click to enlarge -- see the grace and composure up close!
 This is an old (extinct) volcano called SP Crater in Northern Arizona, about 25 miles away from Flagstaff. It's 820 feet high and took about 2.5 hours to climb to the top because the soil is so difficult to gather a good footing. This photo documents the graceful journey I made up and down its rocky, slippery sides. Isn't my grace inspiring?

Why is it called SP Crater?
C. J. Babbit, an 1880s rancher and early landowner of the mountain, expressed his opinion that the mountain resembled a pot of excrement (Shit Pot), and this became the accepted local name. When viewed from certain angles on the ground, the combination of the smooth round shape of the cone, the dark lava spatter on the rim, and the long dark lava flow extruding from the base do indeed resemble a toilet catastrophe.
Sorry you asked? :)  Read more about SP Crater.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Be mindful today of the human race.

"A human being is a part of a whole, called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest... a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty." - Albert Einstein

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

What do photoshop filters do?

When I first started poking around in Photoshop a while ago, I wondered what all the various filters DID. How did they alter pictures? What effects did they have? (And what right do I have digitally-manipulating everything anyway? Doesn't that make me a crappy photographer? Well, if you're a purist, probably, but I get into that more later....)

For now, here are some examples.

Photoshop Filters, visualized

THIS photo (which is actually harshly overlit and pretty boring) turned into a pretty image with some easy clicks. Here's the original:

Original photo: BORING.

1. Glowing Edges Filter:
(Select "Filter," "Stylize," then "Glowing Edges")
2. Ink Outlines Filter:
Enlarge to see how each petal has a handtouched quality now.

(Select "Filter," "Brush Stroke," then "Ink Outlines")
3. Photocopy Filter: 
You can alter the color by changing the foreground and background. I used red & white:

(Select "Filter," "Sketch," then "Photocopy")
4. Stamp Filter
I can almost see this as hotel bathroom wallpaper or curtains (which can sound either delightful or repulsive depending on your taste).

(Select "Filter," "Sketch," then "Stamp")
Each filter has slider bars so you can adjust the results as you like. I love playing around with the options.

So, this question has come up before and I've been thinking about it.

Is it wrong to Photoshop your photos?

I have mixed feelings about digitally manipulating my pictures. I have enormous respect for photographers who don't -- they're so good they don't need to. Or maybe they're also more moral or steadfast to honor the authenticity of their photos. However, I alter mine.

Purists find this loathsome. But I'm not out for any contest. I do it for fun. If I found equal enjoyment picking up lint balls or cooking, whatever, right? I'm not touting grand claims. Mine is the quiet contentment of the immersed.

Most of the time I only alter levels (which adjusts contrast) but Photoshop rocks -- the watercolor filter is my favorite. 

Photographer vs. Designer

I don't call myself a photographer (notice this is an art journal?) but I do call myself a designer. I guess that's what designers DO: we fuss with things until they look nice. (Yes, "nice" is subjective.) Interior designers don't create sofas and pillows and rugs but rather arrange them until aesthetically-pleasing.

I design myself too -- each morning I step out of the shower and commence a very primate-like grooming ritual involving hairdryers and curlers and makeup and a large boar-bristle brush.

Buildings in vibrant downtowns which are cleaned regularly don't attain the muddy (yet authentic) flat grime of ghettos. Manicured lawns, assembled by ambitious suburban neighbors, look very different then natural  meadows. Yes, much of society is designed.

So, I continue to appreciate both art and design, and thank you for stopping by for a peak.

ps. I have fake plants. ;)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

If you work really hard and you're kind, amazing things will happen.

From the NOAA image library
"I hate cynicism. It's my least favorite quality and it doesn't lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you're kind, amazing things will happen." ~Conan O'Brien

Friday, January 14, 2011

A time to let go.

Photo: Vincent Jacques Skyshows
Obtained from NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day,
January 13, 2009
"Sometimes being a friend means mastering the art of timing. There is a time for silence. A time to let go and allow people to hurl themselves into their own destiny. And a time to prepare to pick up the pieces when it's all over." ~Gloria Naylor

Thursday, January 13, 2011

"during my eight months underwater..."

From the NOAA Image Library
"I spent a lot of time trying to convince people I was suffering during my eight months underwater, and I still don't feel completely as if my claims to it are believed, but when that pulse point is hit, I suffer. I suffer in an acute sense -- in the wolves-down-the-hill, sun-exploding, bone-crushing, empire-falling way that innocent people suffer when evils are visited upon them without provocation or reason. I feel all the injustice and betrayal of their act rushing through my skin. It's bad. Sometimes I lie still and can't move." From a reader to Cary Tennis's column

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

...they are dying before the steel javelins and arrows of...

Stormclouds rising in Flagstaff
‎"I mean no particular dream, you understand, but the whole radiant flock of them together—with their rainbow wings, iridescent, bright, soaring, glorious, sublime. They are dying before the steel javelins and arrows of a world of Time and Money." -Barbara Follett

Sunday, January 9, 2011

"More darkly, the steadily-diminishing pile of cheerfully-wrapped candies..."

"Even as a minimalist, Felix Gonzalez-Torres also had a whimsical, humanistic side that showed the influences of pop art on his installations. In this "portrait" of his deceased partner, Ross Laycock, Gonzalez-Torres created a spill of candies that approximated Ross's weight (175 lbs.) when he was healthy. Viewers are invited to take away a candy until the mound gradually disappears; it is then replenished, and the cycle of life and death continues. While Gonzalez-Torres wanted the viewer/participant to partake of the sweetness of his own relationship with Ross, the candy spill also works as an act of communion. More darkly, the steadily-diminishing pile of cheerfully-wrapped candies shows the dissolution of the gay community as society ignored the AIDS epidemic. In the moment that the candy dissolves in the viewer's mouth, the participant also receives a shock of recognition at his or her complicity in Ross's demise."

From the National Portrait Gallery's exhibit "Hide and Seek: Differences and Desire in American Portraiture" (the AIDS theme). Hours 11:30-7pm, Free, this particular exhibit closes Feb. 13th.

Accessible via Green Line off the Gallery Place metro stop, Washington DC (follow the "exit to Galleries"sign when leaving metro station).

Thursday, January 6, 2011

We are tested when we least expect it.

Flagstaff, Arizona sunset, watercolor filter applied
"We assume we will behave well when tested. But we are tested when we least expect it -- in the middle of the night, in an unfamiliar area, when we are weak or distracted or afraid. If we could study first, we might perform better. But we are never prepared for life's biggest tests."  ~Cary Tennis

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


Purple flowers in Flagstaff, AZ

“Compassion is sometimes the fatal capacity for feeling what it is like to live inside somebody else's skin. It is the knowledge that there can never really be any peace and joy for me until there is peace and joy finally for you too.” ~Frederick Buechner

Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy New Year! Wherever you are, it's ok.

framed-print-large-14x10-dove-in-bucket by wavian
Dove from a farm in Kentucky, watercolor filter applied

"I don't think we need to magically be in a great place at the end of a year. Or magically know our goals to start off a new year. I think, sometimes, that it's already magical that every day we wake up with the strong belief that we can make things better." Penelope Trunk (from Top Posts of 2009 (sort of) [This quote is way at the bottom of the post] 

Sunday, January 2, 2011

To love at all is to be vulnerable.

I took this on a hike during monsoon season in Sedona, AZ, 2009.
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket -- safe, dark, motionless, airless--it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.”  ~C.S. Lewis