Tuesday, September 30, 2014

That Fish Place

One of the best places to take photos is at a pet store.  There can be a great variety of subjects and photo opportunities.  I wouldn't lug in a big camera and tripod, but a compact or a good phone camera can make for great results.

There is an awesome pet store north of Lancaster, PA called "That Fish Place."  They have tons of fish, reptiles, amphibians and more.  The crazy looking fish pictured here is called a Scorpionfish and this photo was taken at That Fish Place with my Samsung G3.

Press your phone up to the fish tank when taking a picture and it acts as a built-in tripod, keeping your phone camera perfectly still.  Also, do not use a flash; it produces glare in your photos.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Second Option

I have three tools from which to take pictures.  My main piece of equipment is a newly aquired Canon 6D.  A tripod almost always accompanies the Canon.  When I go out with the Canon/tripod combo, it's time for serious picture taking.

My second option is a Nikon Coolpix.  It is a compact camera, featuring a 14x optical zoom, macro function and 21 megapixels.  When I go out on walks or visit a museum, this is my camera of choice.  It's easy to carry and takes great pics.  This tiny leaf hopper was sitting on an exposed tree root.  After almost accidentally stepping on it, I got a good photo of it with my Nikon.

I also have a Samsung Galaxy 3 with me at all times.  It also takes nice pictures and has a macro setting that I have used many, many times.

Sunday, September 28, 2014


When I happened upon this wasp neatly wrapped in a crumpled leaf, I thought I hit the jackpot. Maybe this would be one of my best shots ever! I took about a dozen frames (wish I had taken more) and tried some post production stuff to try and get that special shot I thought I had. And while this photo is pretty good, it's not the knockout shot I thought it was going to be.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

PHL Sunrise #2

I wish I could say that my art supports me and my family, but that is most definitely not the case.  I work in the tower at the airport in Philadelphia.  My shift starts well before the sun rises and many times there are opportunities to get nice photos, especially sunrises and sunsets.  Here is a pretty nice one with aircraft on the move on the ground and in the air.  Look in the upper left hand corner to see one coming in for a landing.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Consolation Prize

I had a project I was working on where I needed a nice pic of an owl. I had gotten a decent one from a small local zoo last year and was hoping for a better photo with the addition of a better camera. But the day was overcast and the owl's home was in a shady enclosure so that photo didn't happen the way I was hoping.

There was also a planted area at the zoo that attracted bees, beetles, butterflies and other insects. I was really gonna attack that area with my camera, but all those flowers and plants had been removed. Maybe someone got stung.

On the whole, this day was a little disappointing, but as with most outdoor experiences, there is usually a consolation prize. My consolation prize on this outing was the little frog sitting here on my son's hand.  
It was not in a cage and was a cute little thing.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Spiders and Beetles

I mentioned in my "Garden Bee" post that I took decent pics of a huge spider and a colorful beetle. Well, that's just a tease. So here are the aforementioned insects.

I'm guessing that the spider is a wolf spider, although I thought that kind of spider spent most of its time on the ground. This creepy crawly was so big it would have almost filled the palm of my hand.

I knew the second bug was not a beetle, but I didn't have the time to look it up at the time. This insect is a shield bug nymph, the last stage before adulthood. So you could say it's a teenage shield bug. And, as with us humans, the teen is more attractive than the crusty adults.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Hibiscus Insider

About a month ago I got a hibiscus plant from Home Depot. I took lots of photos of the hibiscus and tried several different creative approaches. One of the most unique things was to insert a weight into the bottom of a large bud that was about to open and let it sink into a glass of Seltzer water.  That causes lots of bubbles to form on the flower and can make for an interesting photo.

In addition,  photos were taken of buds, underneath the blooms, backlit shots, and macros. Here is one of the macros. The original is in the 35mm ratio, which is also nice. But I really like the square format and I'll be posting this tomorrow on Instagram. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Water Gems

When I took my bee pictures, I lugged my camera, tripod, and a jar full of little water gems with me.  Water gems, if you're unfamiliar, are sold in craft stores and used to hydrate plants and flowers.  Here is one positioned on an autumn leaf.  There may be some creative things I can do with these things in the future, but they are not as transparent as I had hoped. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Rise and Shine

I got going early yesterday and went to Garden Valley Park in Wilmington, DE armed with my camera and tripod. (Some of my photo friends don't like using a tripod, but I can't live without one.)

Most of the insects must have slept in, because it was after 9:00 AM and they were just starting to move around. This bee was very cooperative as were many of his pals.  I also got decent pics of a very colorful beetle and the biggest spider I have ever seen (other than a tarantula in a cage).

Hey, this is my 400th post!  That's a little bit of a milestone.

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Pursuit

When I first started my blog, I had no idea how big "the pursuit" of art would play into all this. Art is on my mind every minute of every day.  And the thoughts that weigh heaviest on my mind is what, exactly, do I want to do. What avenue do I want to take. Photography? Paper sculpture? Polymer clay? Digital art? Vectors? Photo manipulations, like "Fisheye" shown here? And then there are many combinations of all the above.
At this moment, I'm all over the place and I don't think that's a good thing. My pursuit has been to find my niche. I really, really wish I knew what I want to be when I grow up. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


We have all heard so many horror stories about nightmare mother-in-laws.  But I lucked out and got a real sweet one.  My mom-in-law, Sue, put up the money for me to get a Canon 6D camera. The Canon 6D has a full-sized sensor and takes a great photo.  This fuzzy leaf is the first photo I took with my new camera.  It's nothing special, but it's an okay start.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Color Splash

I think there are different names for a black and white photo that shows elements of color.  I always referred to them as color splash photos.
The original color photo is opened in Photoshop.  Two layers of the same photo is made; one in color, one in black and white. With the B&W layer on top, selected areas of that layer are erased to reveal the color underneath.
That is a very simplified explanation of what was accomplished here with a zebra aloe plant.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Little Paper Bears

When I say these are "little bears" that is no exaggeration.  They are 45mm wide and 34mm tall.  For those of us more comfortable with inches, that's about 1 3/4 inches wide.  The paper pieces are so small, it took me a couple days just to cut them out.  The pads on their feet was a real challenge!  The eyes are silver plated pins dipped it paint.

This is the first paper sculpture I've done in quite a while.  The small scale is very cool and I think there will be more of them in my future.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

A Difference of Opinion

I've been listing my photos and art on deviantart.com for more than three years now.  It's fun to get your stuff out there and it's a good barometer to see what people like and don't like. On the other hand, there's no accounting for good taste.  Some things I post with high hopes of it being wildly popular, only to discover that the peeps are not all that thrilled.
Take the old leaf shown here.  I ran the original photo through a couple filter programs to get the "paint by numbers" look.  Then I painstakingly cleaned up around the edges and added a black and white, out of focus background.  Now the crumpled leaf really pops.

Deviantart.com got the name because it wants to see artists deviate from the norm.  Deviant, in this instance, does not mean weirdo.  They're looking for something different,  creative.

I thought this leaf would find an audience on deviantart.com, but it was a dud.  It was all the things the DA community usually goes for.  Grunge. Manipulation.  Color splash.  Composition.  It even had a cool title: "Crumpled and Twisted."

I've posted other things I thought were just so-so, only to discover they were very popular.  Maybe I'm the one with bad taste.  Either way, it all comes down to a difference of opinion. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Leaf Chameleon

This is one of my all-time favorite projects.  I love everything about it!  For one, there are several skills used to create it; photography, vectors, drawing and manipulation.
Creativity was big in that the chameleon is made of maple leaves.  The wood is made from exotic wood veneers that are more than 70 years old.
Visually, I love the composition. ..maybe more than anything I've ever done.  The empty space is filled with wonderful colors and light.
I really don't know what he's reaching for, but if he wants it bad enough, there's that long tongue to snatched it up.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Blackstone Beetle

I'm working on a really cool paper sculpture and needed to make a trip to A.C.Moore in order to find the last few items to finish the project.  While there, I picked up a few more items I plan to use in future projects.
One of the things I wanted to do was to have a large beetle emerge from a pile of black pebbles. The photo shown here is one of the final results. I have to admit that it looked better in my head.  I may explore this idea more in the coming weeks.

Just a side note; I love water drops and it seems like everything is getting sprayed.  Maybe I need to dial back on the water.  Just a little.

Monday, September 8, 2014

El Galeon

My intentions are to post something every day.  I am trying to do that, but, as you can see, I'm coming up a little short.
Here's one more shot of El Galeon, Maryland's tall ship, on display in Ocean City.  I don't want to over do the posts of this ship, but felt a look at the entire ship was a good idea after showing a couple closeups. My next post will have nothing to do with old wooden sailing vessels. 

Friday, September 5, 2014

Mast Rigging

As promised,  here is another shot of the tall ship, El Galeon.  It is mast rigging and perch rendered in black and white.  A sepia filter was added to give it an aged look.
I'm drawn more to bright colors and bold designs, but occasionally, black and white or muted colors can be a nice diversion.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Captain's Wheel

Maryland's tall ship, El Galeon, is on display in Ocean City, MD.  I paid my  fifteen bucks (plus an extra dollar because I had to use a credit card) to get almost full access to the ship.  Here is the captain's wheel.  I also took shots of the masts, rigging, canons, captain's quarters and the entire ship.  As I touch up those pics, they will be posted here.

Monday, September 1, 2014


Last weekend, my family and I spent the weekend in Ocean City, MD.  There were several artists on the beach creating sand sculptures for the annual Sandfest event.  There were many amazing sand sculptures all along the boardwalk.  The first sculpture, shown above, set the tone for the competition.  The second one featured lots of sea creatures and was one of my favorites.  We didn't stay to see who the winners were, but they all looked awesome to me.