Wrestling With Pigs

Wrestling with pigs, Emerging from Hell

I’m about to emerge from nine months in hell. I’m not out yet – there’s still work to be done – but I’m at least back in control of this aspect of my destiny.

It was a simple thing, really; all I wanted to do was fix some issues with this blog site design. The original designer tinkered with some code, which made updates impossible and crashes common.

So I was recommended to another fired-up firm who would definitely be able to help me. (I won’t blast them publicly here – that’s not my style. I will gladly steer you clear of disaster upon request. My good friend who recommended me to this firm has also pulled all of his work from this firm for similar – and worse – problems. ‘Nuff said.) (more…)

Birth of an App, Part 7

Birth Of An App

Pictures chosen and edited – check.
Stories written and edited – check.
Categories (finally) decided and named – check.
Music composed and optimized for the iPad – check.
App optimizing and troubleshooting completed – check. (Although there were some pesky crashes on the iPad 1 that needed some serious analysis and work. All stable now, thankfully.) (more…)

Ten years on

Ten years ago this week I walked off a plane from the US into a new era in my life. What started out as a chapter unexpectedly turned into a volume. Life is like that sometimes.

I could not have anticipated, even dreamed of, all the changes in my life that were coming – good and bad, happy and sad, adventurous and boring. But that’s why it’s called a life journey, no?
I’ve learned and grown so much in this time that it’s nearly impossible to put the lessons to words. It’s also hard to comprehend how much more there must be to learn in life if this era is any indication of what’s yet to come.

I won’t list out the world changes that have happened over the decade (a DECADE already!), as even I would be bored with such a list and I’d start sounding like my grandmother… To give you a rough feel, when I embarked on this adventure 9/11 hadn’t occurred and the iPod – much less the iPhone – hadn’t been invented yet. So many changes in such a short time.

These few years have seen the end of one and, through a maze of others, the birth of a new, loving relationship. My first grandchild made his entrance a short two years ago! I’ve gone through another career transition, moving onward and upward. I have again learned the difference between friend and acquaintance – always a tough lesson for me. And that’s just a taste of what’s transpired in my little corner of the world.

My photography has been published a number of times (plus a show) and has taken its right position, moving from serious hobby to the core of my soul – where it was all the time actually, I just had to recognize and embrace it. I’ve finally found how to balance work and creativity, get them to work together and feed each other – and pay the bills, all at the same time. No small feat but oh, so worth it.

It’s been a fascinating decade. We’ve all experienced the past 10 years, each in our own way, full of our unique experiences; the good, the bad, the lovely, the ugly – it’s all ours. I, for one, can’t begin to imagine what the next ten will bring, but I am curious…

 

Right-brained thinking in a left-brained world

I just attended a four-day “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain” workshop and am exhausted. I never expected to be so fatigued – after all it was a drawing class! I feel like I ran four marathons.

The premise is interesting: that we lose our right-brained view of the world by about the time we become teenagers, once the language skills and quantitative training we receive in school really start to kick in. That’s why most of us (myself clearly included) as adults continue to draw as if we’re in about the fourth grade.

This training was based on the book of the same name, originally written in 1979 and still available as a book as well as a workshop. Interestingly, I purchased this book some three years ago but had not cracked the cover until a week before the class started. I read it as the class I was taking was taught in Hungarian and I wasn’t confident I’d understand all of the subtleties of the lesson, although I did fare rather well!

The class centered on looking at the world anew, suppressing the left-dominant logic when it comes to looking at shadows, faces and perspectives. Over the four days we learned how to look at objects leveraging our right brain hemisphere. I have to tell you it didn’t come easy for me and I consider myself to be pretty right-brained.

Beyond the overall lesson in drawing learned – and the vast improvement in my drawing in just a few days of practice – I also took away some more subtle lessons:

Use all the tools you have available. We were given six pencils – H, HB, H2, H4, H6 and H8 – that ranged in hardness and functionality. I found myself choosing a “favorite” many times versus leveraging the range of options available, and my drawings reflected this closed-mindedness. Several times I had too much graphite on an image and had I chosen another, better suited pencil, I would have fared better. We were also given three erasers: a basic one good for massive erasing, an eraser “pen” for more detailed corrections and a kneaded eraser for final touch-ups. All three had their role and I used them all extensively!

Look for what’s not there versus what is there. The left-brain tells you what is there and what’s logical. The right brain shows you what isn’t there – the negative spaces in an image that make an image an image. Really searching for what isn’t there was huge in helping render images as they really are as you learned the true spatial relationships between various objects. I observed one classmate (who happens to be in IT – serious left brain dominance) struggle with the assignments, even arguing with the teacher at one point about what he needed to do. He struggled with suppressing the left hemisphere more than some in the class and was extremely frustrated most of the time. We had to trust the teacher in looking for what was not there versus grabbing onto what was obvious in front of our eyes.

Have patience and persistence – and believe in yourself – and the image emerges. Many times I questioned myself about how I was shading part of a picture or what highlights I was leaving on the paper. It seemed counter intuitive at times, yet when I would step back from the image just a foot or two, the logic became clear and image would indeed appear as it was supposed to. Being patient and persistent were key and, coupled with choosing my tools well, made the difference between realizing an acceptable image (I’m no Vermeer mind you) and one that needed a big eraser or, better yet, a new sheet of paper.
I’m sharing here the before and after images I drew – click on the image to see it larger. Each of us was given a photo to draw as our first assignment on day one. On day four, we redrew the image and, well, the difference a couple of days of training makes is obvious. Everyone showed marked improvement in their drawing skills no matter where they started from, just by learning how to use the right side of their brains.

P.S. Also, welcome to the new home of my blog! Better name, better design, better focus (pun intended) and more functionality with this site. Please feel free to join the conversation!

 

Every. Single. Day.

I have a goal to feed this internal creative hunger; to expand my mind and eye and grow my craft; to make my photography the best it can be.

To that end, I devote time to photography every single day. Certainly, some days have a greater emphasis or get more time than others, but it is a conscious decision to do something photo-related at some time during the day – every day.

Maybe it’s shooting. Or developing. Or printing, transferring, scanning. Reading, studying another’s work, learning a new technique, listening to others, talking with someone. Or writing. In every case, something meaningful related to photography.

I have a desire to be the best I can be at what I do. To be that, I need to constantly learn and grow and move my art forward.

Richard Avedon once said, “If a day goes by without my doing something related to photography, it’s as though I’ve neglected something essential to my existence, as though I had forgotten to wake up.”

Every. Single. Day.

 

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