Monday, September 27, 2010

What a gorgeous couple!

Boots on Parade

Strangely enough, this is a composite shot. The first shot didnt have Eddie's dirk showing, and the second image didn't catch the far left leg. So I threw them both into Photomerge and voila! Magic! I love this stuff. I can't believe how much easier Photoshop has gotten in the latest incarnation. Now if only I can figure out Lightroom, I will be a very happy camper!

Wedding Pano

Yes, this image is big. (But it isnt really this blurry... but Blogger hates me tonight.) So click on the image to see a slightly larger version. The FULL size version is over 48 in x 9 in.... HUGE!

This single image is comprised of 12 separate images, merged in Photomerge in Photoshop. Took about 10 minutes for the software to chew on it, but it managed not to crash. (THANK YOU JOHNATHON!!!!)

Now for my next magic trick, I will finish organizing all the images from this wedding! Abracadabra!!!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Wicked Cool

This weekend I met Cory and Shantelle at Demetra and Eddie's wedding at Treman State Park in Ithaca NY. Fantastic wedding filled with great people having an awesome time. While I tried hard to make every candid shot during the wedding perfect, there are always shots you miss that you wish you could go back to. During the reception, while everyone was eating and talking, I asked Cory if he and Shantelle would be willing to sit for a portrait. Since they are from the Greater Toronto Area, it isn't like they live next door. Seizing the moment, they agreed to stop over today. These are just a few of my favorite shots from this afternoon's portrait session.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


If you don't read Seth Godin's blog everyday, you're missing out. Period.

Today's discussion centers around trying to pinch pennies in a market that doesn't spend pennies. From what I am seeing, Seth is right. "[Those] who can afford to pay for service, often choose to pay for service." What they are paying for from you though, is what they can't get somewhere else. That's that piece I am trying to understand (and hopefully learn to market to!)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Sailing Away

Sailing on Cayuga Lake with the Lyon Family, September 2010,
©Alex Solla Photography

It is getting to be that time of year, when the winds are kind, the skies lively and the water still warm enough to be out in it. Sailing season starts late in our big lake. Usually you won't see many boats out there until after Memorial Day. Anytime before that is reserved for hardy souls preparing for their races.

The end of the season though, is always a gamble. How many days left till you have to pull your boat out of the water for the season? Our friends called us from Taughannock Park last weekend to see if Aurora wanted to go sailing for the afternoon. It didn't take two seconds for her to make up her mind. Off we went!

Original image above:

Second attempt after Nikon Capture NX2:

The original image was pretty decent, but because I hadn't checked my image settings it was a bit on the contrasty side of things. Generally I prefer to up the contrast on my own in Photoshop or Lightroom rather than in camera. To help with this, I brought the original image into Nikon Capture NX2 and worked some brightness into the water and the backdrop as well as the clouds and sky.

I wasn't terribly thrilled with the clouds in the sky... they just seemed a little lackluster. So I found an image that Nancy had shot on the same lake, farther up towards Sheldrake about three summers ago just after a storm had passed. It seemed much more engaging.

Once I started trying to layer the two images I was faced with the problem of trying to retain the edge of the sails and the halyards and stays, as well as the ridge of green across the lake. After a quick masking job, I brought the new cloudy sky into the new frame. Normally I don't advocate changing an image this radically, but once in a while, it is just so much fun to bring more drama into an image. The last thing I did was to crop the image a bit to tighten things up on the action just a bit.

Your thoughts on editing? Changing backgrounds? Editing out Aunt Myrtle sleeping in the background?

Ithaca Art Trail

For the past six years, Nancy, Aurora and I have taken part in the Greater Ithaca Art Trail as Cold Springs Studio Pottery. Now that the clay studio is closed, we are excited to announce that we will be participating as Alex Solla Photography this year. Thanks to our wonderful friends at the Community Arts Partnership in Ithaca, we even have a new webpage on the GIAT site (see above). Thank you Robin, Thank you Mike and Thank you Brett.

I am so jazzed about showing new work in a whole new medium! We will have prints on display as well as some of our most recent photobooks. In addition, Nancy and I plan to have the studio available for demonstrating our take on portrait lighting... this means anyone standing still might just end up posing for a few shots!!

Mark your calendars now: Art Trail happens the middle weekends in October .... Oct. 9-10, and Oct 16-17, 2010.... from 11am-5pm each day.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Polar Bears, Electric Cars and Behind The Scenes

When I saw this behind the scenes shoot for the new Nissan "Leaf", on (a must read blog!!), I was totally blown away. The amount of live action vs. CGI is amazing! The layering and post production is just phenomenal. Now, if Nissan can make this car affordable, reliable and colorful, I think it will be a huge hit.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A Moment Passes: coma dream #4

A moment passes, then is gone.
A week ago, I could feel August dragging its heels.
Today I saw October peeking over the hills.

I missed this time of year while I was in the coma last year. It is still unreal to me... to be out for so long.... to wake up and unable to speak or move... to have lost so much muscle... to be broken in more than just body parts...

It has been a year since I went into the hospital for my first abdominal surgery. I closed my eyes on the eighth day of September, 2009, and woke up a month later, on my anniversary. A month later I would leave the hospital terrified of what lay in store.

A year ago I thought I would be home a week after my surgery. Ready to make pots in a few weeks. I had everything laid out and ready to go.

It was around Thanksgiving that I finally mustered up the courage to go into the studio. The cobwebs had taken my place at the wheel. Everything was so quiet. There was no music playing in the studio. There were no cars in the driveway. The phone seldom rang.

In the early days of my recovery, I was so sure I would return to my routine of making pots and essentially going back to normal. I am sure a good chunk of that was just denial. To this day I still feel like my body went through one ordeal; my mind went through something completely different.

I like closing my eyes during the day, when the wind lifts and I can feel the moisture moving fast through the air. I can remember things I shouldn't remember. I lived in the mountains out west, back in the early 1930s. I still can feel the cinders under my bare feet as I walk along the ice crusted road, uphill towards the shed.

So many late afternoons I would watch the sun fade into greyness as the icy sleet raked down and glazed the road. The pain of the cold against my shoeless feet was nothing compared to laying down against the far wall in the shed, my back to the earthen berm... a tiny space scraped out where the sheep and cow would part ways and let me lay. In the morning my eyes always stung as the frost clung to my eyelashes and refused to let go easily.

If it was windy, morning came angry, with the doors of the shed pulling at their hinges and the animals restless. Still dawns were such a sight. The clouds would hold their place in the sky just so I could look at the them longingly. I would have given anything to take flight. Some days, on my way back from town, a kindly man, who worked for the town, would offer me a ride in his truck. We'd drive the few miles up the road in relative quiet, our bench seat creaking if it were cold.

He wore a wonderful hat with flaps that came down over his ears, felted green on the outside but lined with a cherry flannel on the inside. The red had started to fade at the edges of the brim. I stubbed my toes often on his tools that he left tossed into the passenger-side footwell. More than once, I open the door only to have a monstrous pipe wrench come down right onto my foot. Always apologetic, we reached agreement that someday, when he had time, he would bring the truck by the barn and I would take the tools out, wipe them down with bitter smelling oil, roll them back into the red fabric bundles... it never happened.

The last time I saw him, I had just finished cleaning the counters and the floor at the diner. The fumes from the piny wash water in the metal cleaning pail was still burning my eyes. A thick wet haze covered the windows. I could tell from the quiet of the road that the snow had made the road impassable. No one was out driving in this weather. Closing early, I figured I would make it up the hill before too late. It meant forgoing my dinner meal which came with the end of my shift, but more importantly it made the cold night longer.

The gentleman's truck kicked up gravel as he pulled into the parking area and quickly knocked on the door of the diner. He knew we were closing up. Heck, he probably knew the hours we kept better than I did. I also remember Ruthie having left a pot of coffee on just for him. I dont think his thermos ever had ever seen soap and water... just coffee. He thanked me for the coffee, pulled the door closed and quickly poked his head back in to see if I wanted a ride. Ruthie allowed as how I had already mopped the floor, the rest could wait till morning. Free to go, I pulled the door of the truck closed behind me and looked over my shoulder. The lights inside were slowly winking out as Ruthie took care of the last bits of the day. The bacon grease didn't need to be emptied tonight. It could wait.

Looking up into the tall pines above the diner, I watched as the wind tousled their tops and shed snow in faerie winds. I had no idea it was my last night there. If I had known, I would like to think I would have asked the man his name. Maybe said goodbye to Ruthie.

When I awoke, I was hot. The barn was gone. Replaced by hospital walls that were far too close in. One window out, and there was snow outside. As Nancy began to explain how long I had been in the coma I felt bits of the dream tug at my heart. I was back on this side again. I never did get to finish cleaning up his tools. My hands can still feel the rust and the oil and the threadworn fabric.

On night like tonight, when I can hear the winds lift and our pines creak enough to make themselves known, I wake up. My ears listen for the sound of the gravel road I no longer live on. Wishing that truck back down a past I knew only in a dream.

Friday, September 10, 2010

End of Summer Sunset

Tonight, as I was driving home on route 79, just outside of Enfield, I had to pull off the road. The colors in the sky were unreal. There is nothing done to this image, other than adding a watermark. The sky was so vivid and saturated. Two minutes later it was gone. If I had pulled over sooner, I could have caught the clouds while they glowed iridescent pink. That would have been amazing!

One thing you can't see in the images though, are the insanely HUGE mosquitoes that were swarming in the air. I am really looking forward to a good hard freeze!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Getting there

Okay, we're getting there. The big stuff has been installed. Now onto the little crap that make my life more manageable. I guess I had forgotten how much software goes into making my computer go. Damn. Wish I had kept track of all the places this stuff came from. Jeez. I think this time I need to make a working backup of all the programs... any ideas out there how I can do this? I am tired of having to go searching for all the install disks. Isn't there a way to ghost an image of my software and OS so that everything is reinstall-able from one or ten DVDs?

Monday, September 6, 2010

Technical Difficulties

I hope you'll all bear with me over the next week or so. We just built a new computer and it is amazing. The downside is that I have to find and install all of my software on the new machine. This is going to take a while!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

First Friday Gallery Walk in Rochester

Last night, we were invited up to Rochester for the First Friday Gallery Walk by our friend Sabra, who is part of Crocus Clay Works. Crocus Clay Works is a group studio comprised of Sabra Wood, Jennifer Buckley and Marie Verlinde. Their studio takes part in almost all the First Friday gallery walks every month, but this week they were closed as they prepared for the Clothesline Sale at the Memorial Art Gallery next weekend. Sabra suggested Nancy, Aurora and I come up and check out all the other gallery goings-on in Rochester, grab a bite at Dogtown and make a night of it. WHAT A BLAST! We haven't had much of a chance to get out the past few years. Between hockey for more than half of the year, and needing to keep the gallery open weekends for customers, it has been eons since we were able to take the night off and go play.

After we had a chance to visit some of the amazing artists in the Hungerford Building, we headed out to dinner at Dogtown, but not before Aurora saw the light in the sky changing. She grabbed my camera and insisted that I try to catch the falling light on the building. This is my effort. Initially, I felt that the saturation was just too much. It really was that loud, but for my eyes, it was just too much. So I laid a darker layer of a black and white version of this image OVER the other, then reduced the opacity of that layer, so the color could come through but less so.

This is the orginal version of the image above.

If you haven't been to Dogtown, you haven't lived.

We had heard about their amazing food from Sabra, but that didn't prepare us for what we walked into. They recently were written up in Edible Fingerlakes, which really made us want to try it out. Nancy had the Bernese Mountain Dog. Aurora tried something totally new for her: the Greek Stray with tzatziki sauce, feta, olives and tomatoes... she was in heaven! I tried their spicier offerings: the Coyote and the Tex-Mex Mutt... both with things like salsa, hot peppers, melted cheese... TOTAL AWESOMENESS. Sabra had the Polish Sausage Sandwich and that blew my mind. Now we have to go back and try MORE! Check out their menu and I'd be surprised if you don't find five or ten different versions that you want to try!

So yeah, we saw lots of art, ate great fun food, and had a wonderful time thanks to our great friend Sabra. The idea that they do this every month is Rochester just means we'll be back up there on October first!

Friday, September 3, 2010


Ferro, shot with Nikon D300s, 60mm Macro, in natural light.

Trying to capture our cats photographically has always been something of a challenge. Our big orange tabby (who is no longer as orange as he used to be), Ferro, is the easier of the two. Luna, being black as night, seems to show up as all shadow, no form.

Yesterday, after getting the new tripod head fixed and usable, I had to play for a little while. With most of our garden as crispy as a fall leaf thanks to precious little rain, there is nothing in bloom. That left me with cats for subject matter. Luckily, mid-afternoon, they are both pretty somnolent.

If anyone has any advice for trying to shoot dark furred critters, PLEASE send the ideas along.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Tripod Mating Issues

Yeah, that doesn't sound right to me either.

But that was the problem. How to get an old set of legs to mount to a new head.
Crap. That sounds worse.

Okay, let's try this again from the top.

A wonderful friend gave me a tripod she said she was seldom using. I took one look at it and my eyes popped out. It isn't everyday that a Bogen tripod drops into your lap. It had the most interesting head on it though.

Manfrotto 056 3D junior head - image courtesy of B&H Photo

When I started working with it, I felt like the head was going to be problematic in terms of how much adjustment it allowed for... basically it felt like you needed three arms to adjust this, and loosen that, and to hold the camera... and that is just not how I like to shoot.

Nancy encouraged me to find something that would replace this head. Searching the B&H website thanks to many recommendations from fellow bloggers, I found the Manfrotto 327RC2 Joystick Head.
Manfrotto 056 3D junior head - image courtesy of B&H Photo

This is what the underside of the new head uses for an attachment to the legs of the tripod.

This is the underside of the old head plate, attached to the old sticks. This is where I ran into a problem.

I assumed that if I just undid the setscrews in the bottom of the plate, and unscrewed the allen key in the top of the head (shown above) that this would lift up and reveal a threaded stud attached to the top plate. NOPE. I figured then, that maybe I had to pry apart that metal plate below it... NOPE.

At that point, I got frustrated... but rather than reaching for a BIG hammer, I called B&H. At first I was less than impressed with their customer service food chain. I got passed from one department to the next... five times. The last person I talked to was Patrick. Once I had Patrick on the line, his first comment was that the phone maze stopped with him. He felt confident that he could solve my problem. So I described it and rather than doing what everyone else had done: asking for my order number, my mother's maiden name, my shoe size and my favorite breath mints... he asked me to send him some images. He said he would call me right back with a solution.

Less than ten minutes passed and he called back. He walked me through what should be have been a very obvious solution. All I needed to do was tighten the daylights out of the panning knob, and the knob for the rising support, turn the head counter clock-wise and voila! There was the stud! The head popped right off!! DONE.

I was able to put my new head on in less than a minute. PERFECT. Thank you Patrick and THANK YOU B&H for hiring such great people. Having someone like that at the end of the line made my day. I know big companies have to have lots of layers of customer service... and like most big companies, the entry level of service sucks. Flat out, it just sucks. I think that is sort of the pre-filter defacto status these days.

But finding someone like Patrick , who actually WANTED to help solve my problem, was awesome. I have no problem spending money with a company who can offer that level of service whenever I need it. Thank you!

Here's my new spiffy tripod, happily joined with a new head.