Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Iceland, I'm back!!

I first came to Iceland five years ago. It was the kick off of my around the world (sort of) tour. It was in November and I made the trip alone. I landed in the middle of one of the worst snow storms Iceland had seen in a decade, and I was snowed in my hotel room for the first three days or so of my visit.

This go around, I'm not alone. My husband is venturing around the country with me. It is late September, so the temperatures aren't freezing. Iceland is still largely green in a lot of areas, fall colors are taking hold in other places.

We also decided to rent a car this go around and drive the Ring Road around the island. Last time I flew straight from Reykjavik to Akureyri after landing. In fact, I spent less than 12 hours in Reykjavik and spent the majority of my Iceland time bumming around Akureyri. It became one of my absolute most favorite places, and it was our first stop on our Iceland tour.

The drive from Reykjavik to Akureyri is about 5.5 hours, but since I feel the need to stop every time the landscape changes (i.e. ALL THE TIME), it probably took us closer to seven hours. I've read that this part of the Ring Road is the most boring, but I thought it was beautiful. After living in an area that is highly populated for the last three years, being alone in total isolation was LOVELY.

We saw waterfall after waterfall, thousands of fluffy sheep, and several of the famous Icelandic horses.

After arriving to Akureyri, we walked around a bit. A lot of the town has changed and a lot has stayed the same. Since I was last here, Akureyri has experienced a tourist boom and new guesthouses and hotels have popped up. I'm writing this from our flat that overlooks Eyjafjordur and construction on what looks like a new hotel on the water is happening below our balcony. I'm honestly not sure how I really feel about that, but I guess it's not really my place to have feelings about it. I wonder what the people who live in Akureyri think about it.

Anyway, enough introspection for the morning. After my coffee is finished, we will be heading out to a bakery and onward to Myvatn. I'm sad we are spending so little time in one of my favorite towns, but I'm also excited to experience more of Iceland that I didn't get to see last time.

So I leave you with my favorites from yesterday!


"Downtown" Akureyri

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Working for the News

As many of you know, I've been working for a newspaper on Fort Bragg for the last year and a half (incidentally, it's a very large reason why my blog has been on hold for what feels like forever).

I spend most of my time doing graphic design, laying out the paper. But of course, my love and my life is photography, so whenever I get the chance to get out from behind my dual screens, I take it.

I've gotten to do some pretty cool things over the last year. I got to go up in an airplane with Golden Knights, the Army parachute demonstration team with the then Undersecretary of the Army, Patrick Murphy. The first ever professional sports game on an Army instillation was played here in July 2016, and I was lucky enough to spend 20 hours photographing members of the Miami Marlins and Atlanta Braves Major League Baseball teams as they toured Fort Bragg before squaring off against each other.

Air Force One has landed once since I've been working here, and I photographed President Obama making his way off the giant airplane. Last week I got to photograph members of 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) while they demonstrated various weapons on a range.

I've gotten to photograph soldiers doing soldiers things, and I've had a great time doing it. And finally, FINALLY, after a year and a half, I have put my portfolio up on my website of what I've been doing with my time. You can find it all here.

Here are some of my favorites from my photojournalism journey:

The Golden Knights exiting an aircraft.

Patrick Murphy, center, with members of the Golden Knights.

An example of one of the layouts I've done for the paper. Cutting out parts of images and wrapping text is one of my favorite things to do, and this particular page turned out pretty well.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Update on life and Portraits of the Planet

Hello all!
Well it's been a hot minute since I've blogged, and quite a lot has happened.
I started working at a newspaper about a year and a half ago, and I'm also coaching figure skating at my local rink. Both endeavors have opened up some pretty cool doors for me, but it has left me with very little time to blog about and post photos.


Welcome to Blog Post Wednesdays, my new push to attempt to blog more frequently. I don't always get to go photograph what I want to, working for a newspaper. But I do get to cover some pretty cool events and see some interesting things. And on my free time, I do travel around the East Coast to explore and take more portraits of the planet.

So this week's blog post is going to be about Boone, North Carolina. I headed that direction this past weekend in an attempt to get away from people and experience nature a bit. I was thwarted a little in my efforts to get away from people, but I had a good time nonetheless.

On Saturday, I loaded up my Old English Sheepdog and my husband and drove the three hours to the "mountains." (I say mountains loosely here because I'm a mountain snob, being from the western United States).

We drove around the Blue Ridge Parkway and hiked up Linville Gorge to see waterfalls. I was mostly excited to try out my new camera, a Canon 5DS R and my new neutral density filter. We ordered pizza and took it to a lookout on the Blue Ridge Parkway and watched the sunset while eating our dinner. It was a peaceful evening full of the sounds of birds and bugs and my camera shutter.

The tests were a success. The 5DS R (named KiKi) performed admirably during low light tests, and the ND filter will be super awesome for my next adventure to Iceland.

An after dark test, testing the noise of my camera and low light performance. Overall, pretty impressed. This was a three second exposure.

Elke, the Old English Sheepdog adventure pup

Blue Ridge Parkway at sunset

Blue Ridge Parkway at Sunset

Messing around with the ND filter. It adds two stops to my lens so I can get motion blur during the day.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Grant Project: The Paint Part IIII

Rembrandt Lamp Black is another paint that I feel I had really great results with. I only selectively bleached three of the prints, which is a really great feeling! I only had one paper out of the eight that I feel didn't offer usable results. This paint and the Charvin Mars Black have been my two favorite so far.

I may have covered this previously, but if you noticed a different tonal color to the prints, it has to do with bleaching. A bleached print will be more cooler toned, while a non bleached print will have a very warm color to it. You'll notice that these two that I picked for this blog post are very warm toned. They were not bleached at all.

Fabriano Acquarello Cold Press

Fabriano Acquarello Hot Press 

Grant Project: The Paint part III

I'm a bit behind in posting on my paint experiments, but they have been in progress over the last couple of months.
This round of paint is Gamblin's Ivory Black. I really liked this paint, and had some pretty awesome results. I had four out of 8 prints work great, and two sort of work. All of the smoother papers seemed to like this paint.
I have completely removed bleach baths from my work flow. If I feel that a print may need a bit of bleach, I'll selectively brush it on and then use a soft spray nozzle on my spray bottle. It's been a good thing, because I really don't like using bleach!!

Fabriano Acquarello Cold Press 

Fabriano Acquarello Hot Press

Fabriano Artistico, hot press, selective bleaching


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Grant Project: The Paint Part II

Another round of paint experiments are finished, and this paint just made my week.  I tried Charvin Paris Extra Fine Oil in Mars Black and IT. ROCKED.

When I was trying out the different paper types, I used Windsor and Newton in Lamp Black, and that really became the bar for which all paints would be measured. My main issue with W&N was the required bleaching I felt I had to do to get the full range of tones in my images, even with different negative densities and curves. Charvin didn't require bleaching on most of my images. The prints that did get bleached, were selectively brush bleached usually on the second layer of paint. Four of the eight images didn't need a second layer, and three of those four didn't get bleached. It was amazing to rub off the paint and realize that a quick soak in some water and it would be good to go. All but one of my images were acceptable to me in terms of "success", and that one probably received a bit of a heavy hand with the bleach.

I used the entire tube because the textured papers are a bit more thirsty than the smooth papers and required quite a bit more of this paint. If this ends up being my favorite paint, I'm buying the largest tubes I can find and exclusively using it because it is just that good.

I scanned my four favorite images from this round, two smooth papers and two textured papers. These four did not get a second layer of paint, and only one was bleached. I also realized I may not have fully disclosed which papers are smoother and which ones are more textured, so I made sure to label which is which on the overall image of all of them. I also photographed the prints from the side, and with the Somerset Velvet you can really see the texture of the paper. I hope this helps clear up some confusion!!

Fabriano Acquarello Cold Press (Textured)
Fabriano Artistico Hot Press (Smooth)

Somserset Velvet (Textured) Note the different color of this
image from the other three. This is the only one of these four
that was bleached. It was a selective brush bleaching that results in
a cooler toned print. 
Fabriano Acquarello Hot Press (Smooth)

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Grant Project: The Paint Part I

My paper experiments are over and I have culled down my choices to 8 papers that I really like to work with (and I may be experimenting with two other papers later this year, we'll see how that goes). The next step in the process is paint. Which paint works best with which paper? I already knew that Windsor and Newton oil paints worked well because that was what I had initially began with and my prints were usually turning out with various degrees of success. I headed off to Jerry's Artarama in Raleigh and picked up seven different brands of oil paints. The first one I tried was Michael Harding's Artists Oil Colours in Lamp Black.

Immediately this paint is very different from Windsor and Newton's. It's smellier, felt oilier, and didn't rub off the print as nicely. I tried it with my narrowed down paper choices, and found that it worked the best with the smoother papers: Arches Platine, Stonehenge, and Fabriano Artistico Hot Press. These papers cleared off enough for me to add a second layer of paint to make the blacks even more rich and allowed the midtones in the prints to really come out. The other papers were muddy messes and while some may be sort of salvageable with the help of bleach, I know that they won't be great prints regardless.

Also with this round, I changed up my negative a bit. I was still using the print Hidden Oak, but thought that maybe if I changed a few things around in Photoshop, I could bring out the details in the image that I was really missing. Well, the new negative is a bust, so back to the old negative it is. By the time I find my favorite paint/paper pairings, I know I'm going to be very sick of looking at this image.

Results of the paint experiments part I:  Michael Harding's works amazingly well on the smoother papers, and for that it really redeemed itself in my eyes. If the paper has any sort of texture on it though, it is basically a bust for this process.

Best one for this round: Arches Platine

There are nine papers here because I have a repeat. I have narrowed
down my paper selection to 8 total.