Saturday, October 30, 2010

Wonderful Portrait Session yesterday

©2010 Alex Solla Photography


©2010 Alex Solla Photography

Natalie and I have been taking the AFCU's Getting Down To Business class for the past two months. In that short span of time, I have come to expect nothing but the most engaging of insights from her. When she asked me to help her with a portrait for her website I was honored and a bit nervous. That nervousness vanished within minutes of her walking into the studio, smile ablazing. Shooting portraits is such a fun mix of engagement and rapport... almost like dance. There is so much give and take between both parties, that there is tremendous amount of risk and trust involved.

With the best experiences, and with subjects like Natalie, my job is so easy and fun because the stories flow, ideas are generated and in such a short span of time we're past the awkward stage and moments later, we're done. Cards are full of great images, and we're looking at the images on the computer. ZOOM. Looking back it is hard to see the point where things just clicked, but once you feel it, you ride the wave. Thank you Natalie, for a wonderful afternoon!

Friday, October 22, 2010

What comes next


I had a friend ask me today, what my workflow entailed. I am at a loss to explain the myriad things that I do to get an image where I want it to be. Some days, depending on my mood I start and end in Photoshop. Other days, I can be contented to work solely within Lightroom. And every now and then, I am satisfied with the image as shot in-camera with zero editing. Like I told my friend, it all depends.

So what comes next?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Making up for lost time

Aurora understands why I need to be outside in the Fall. From June till now, I wait for Autumn. When the chill winds come out of the west with misty rain, I start to smile. When the rain clears, and the trees peak with color... I get happy. Last year I missed the Fall. I closed my eyes September 8th, and woke up over a month later. By the time I could hold my head up enough to see out the window, snow had fallen. When we drove home from the hospital at the tail end of the first week of November, the trees were bare. I have never felt more cheated. I waited all Summer for that Fall. I came back from a gray world... into this gray world. I was pretty disappointed. This year did not disappoint.

You absolutely HAVE to click on this image. This was one of Aurora's panoramas, stitched together from 8 images.

All images, ©2010, Aurora Solla

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Sitting Around During Art Trail







There was a lot of down time between the rushes of visitors during Art Trail last weekend (and the weekend before). At one point we were visited by some of Nancy's neighbors from Corning who had joined her parents, in coming to wish Nancy a happy birthday. It was such a fun chance to try new lighting ideas with such patient subjects.

Since then I have suffered through innumerable computer problems, finally resulting in having to reinstall all of the hardware and software that we had just finished installing last month. Not a fun process. I think, tonight, we finished the majority of it. We'll see what tomorrow hold in store... tomorrow.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Last Day of Art Trail

©2010 Aurora Solla



Today was the last day of the Ithaca Art Trail. And what did Aurora and I do first thing in the morning? We took off on a photo safari! We drove down the dirt backroads through Ithaca, into Enfield and beyond, finally winding up in Newfield by way of god-knows-what. Found this cute little pond and broke out the cameras. I don't think I have ever had a more accommodating photo excursion in my life. The weather was great, light was perfect, wind was beautiful and the trees were just past peak.

©2010 Aurora Solla



These are two of Aurora's images with a few (very)minor touches via me in Lightroom 3. Shot with a Nikon D80 with 18-55mm kit lens.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Slideshow of Fall so Far





Just a quick slide show of some of my favorite images that Nancy and I shot during our brief jaunt down to the Endless Mountains of PA last monday.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

More Images From Our Brief Holiday Foray Into PA



This weekend has been filled with lots of people coming out to the studio while visiting lots of other artists on the Greater Ithaca Art Trail. Unfortunately, with only a few minor exceptions, they have all arrived with the hopes of finding pottery.

As much as I really want to share the vision of our new venture with people, I think there is a palpable disappointment in our lack of pots. I think many people have left our studio feeling cheated somehow. No matter our explanation (which really needs no justification...) there has been a very odd tone to this year's Art Trail for us. Not a bad thing, but odd. As though folks have come expecting a party and instead found a wake.

Tomorrow is the last day of Art Trail. With this landmark of the fall past, I think the next few weeks will be spent on marketing and promotion in hopes of drumming up new business to carry us through fall, winter and into the coming year. More on that perhaps tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Scenes from a Diner




While on our photo excursion into PA on Monday, we had to make the obligatory stop at the Wellsboro diner. Between Nancy and I, we shot the better part of fifty images in and around the diner. I find it fascinating how Nancy and I interpret similar subject matter, when shooting with the same camera and lens. All things being equal, we still come away with different ways of seeing. I LOVE IT. Hopefully tomorrow I can post more of the images from our trip. Got to get some last minute work done on a presentation I am giving next week... yeah, I know, that doesn't sound too last minute to most people.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Birthday and Anniversary

Eight years ago, Nancy and I stood near the woodstove in the Quaker meetinghouse in Jacksonville, and sealed our vows to each other. In front of our friends and family, in a spartan sacred space, we chose our life together.

Nancy's birthday was yesterday. The holiday weekend was filled with visitors from the Ithaca Art Trail. So many of the people making the trip out to the studio were expecting to find pottery. Not anymore. We had to let folks down, and more often than not, they insisted on trying to find some way that I could keep making pots. Or they would venture their opinions about what we should do legally. Or they would tell me that they had been through exactly the same thing (only different). It was a long tiring Saturday.

Sunday we were surprised to find Nancy's parents in our driveway along with their neighbors, the Abbeys. It was such a hoot to be able to share our Art Trail weekend with family and friends. There was even cake to celebrate Nancy's birthday! The only thing that was missing was Aurora. Lo and behold, right as the cake was vanishing, the kid popped in. Just to get something she'd forgotten... but for a moment, we were all together.

A year ago, that almost didn't happen.


Rewind back to 2009. After a botched surgery and multiple surgeries and procedures, I clung to life for a month in a coma. My first waking moment from the coma was on Nancy's birthday. After a month in the coma, I was momentarily awake, and present. I told her "I love you"... and then slipped back under the waves of unconsciousness. A day later, I opened my eyes on our anniversary to find out that I couldn't talk, or move... or understand why I was in a hospital bed.

Looking up into those beautiful eyes... seeing her fear, distress and worry... knowing that I couldn't reach out and reassure her that, yes, I was in there... all I could do was cry. The hottest tears I have ever known.

If my eyes have ever said anything, they screamed volumes that day.

It has been a year. One hell of a year. I'm so glad to be on this side of where I was just over a year ago.



So how do you celebrate your first year alive when you're not an infant in a highchair? Mashed peas just don't do it for me, and applesauce messes with my blood sugar. We were all out of fingerpaints and our Play-doh had long since dried up. What to do?

Nancy and I decided last week that we needed a road trip before hockey season sucks our weekends into Never-never Land for the next six months. I had heard about a herd of elk that roam the north-central (western) portion of Pennsylvania. In a land marked on the map by almost continuous green PA State Park lands, we drove for five hours. By the time we reached the beginning of the Elk Trail (yes, PA has an Elk Trail)... it was already pushing dinnertime and the light was starting to fade. Knowing that Nancy had a full day of work the following day, we stopped where we should have been starting.

We saw no elk.

But we drove through some of the most amazing country I have ever seen on the East Coast. Rich forested lands, steep uplands filled with tall pines and ferns and brackens... all sparsely populated alternatingly by hunting shacks, summer cabins and year-rounder trailers. The only traffic we saw for over four hours was the trucks and rigs of the natural gas drilling crews. Mind you, our top speed on some of these tiny roads topped out at 35 mph. These enormous rigs full of wastewater contaminated with god-knows-what were doing far far faster than that. On roads that were euphemistically paved recently (probably before Regan's administration).... I have never worried more about breaking down.




Before we made it home, we found ourselves in a torrential downpour just outside of Mansfield. Having driven through the Endless Mountains, I can authoritatively say they are aptly named. I also have infinitely more respect for the obvious fact that this part of the country will never see a housing boom. There is simply no room to toenail a house into these rugged hills. I can only imagine how rough the winters are through this neck of the woods.

So that is how Nancy and I celebrated her birthday, our anniversary, and the anniversary of my first waking from the coma.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Images from Demetra and Eddie's Wedding - edited and then some










Tonight I think I will skip the heavy verbiage and jump straight in... I LOVE LIGHTROOM. Yes. After all my suffering to try to learn it on my own, I broke down and started going through every tutorial I could find. Started watching Matt Kloskowski's blog ... and okay... okay...okay, I'm hooked. I love the editing abilities and the customization is just SICK.

Thanks to Justin out in Modesto I am now a Lightroom convert. Damn. Was hoping I had enough software to fight off the Mongol hordes... but no. Now I need Lightroom on all my machines. Oh boy!

Now that we have that squared away, let's talk about this wedding. I could post new images from Demetra and Eddie's wedding for the rest of this year. Seriously. Nancy and I shot so many images, and the success rate was amazing. Great light, wonderful people, terrific expressions... all combined to make the job of culling images so difficult. Now that I have delivered the first round of images, my next job is to put those images through their paces. Time to do some editing, cropping, retouching, etc. These images above are the first round from this evening's edits.


Tomorrow: Set up for Art Trail. That means hanging prints, cleaning the floor and generally sprucing things up. After seven years of folks showing up to look at pots, this year we'll be showing a lot of different examples of my new work. And if all goes well tomorrow, we may even have COOKIES! Come early before Nancy and I scarf down all these cookies!!

Monday, October 4, 2010

DeSousa Wedding Reception Images






I am finally in the home stretch. Images are finally sorted and the editing has begun in earnest. I always despise the first two or three times I review images from an event. I always feel like I missed something that I really wanted... that somehow my technical skill wasn't up to the task. I am finding the reality to be much simpler. Shooting outdoors is chaotic. Pure and simple. You can be prepared to the n-th degree and still be surprised. Weddings add a layer of complexity that is simply mind boggling! I love it! Talk about thinking on your feet. What made this wedding so wonderful was the combination of great people and a perfect fall evening.

Setting up for strobes




Aurora and I spent a big chunk of time yesterday trying to figure out a way to trip the optical slave sensors on the strobes by using one of my Speedlites as a trigger. No luck. Not sure why. Ended up going with my wireless Cactus triggers, which didn't do exactly what I needed. I think I either need to bump up to radio triggers like Pocket Wizards, or Radio Poppers.... or somehow accept that shooting at a wedding with optical slaves means that everyone else's flashes will be tripping my strobes.



Means that sometimes my strobes wont trigger at all, while they're recharging. Sometimes that means I miss the shot. It happened last night and I wasn't pleased. So, I need to figure out a way around this dilemma. With precious little money in the coffers, I am open to creative suggestions, links, websites.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Art Trail Preview Video thanks to Stan Bowman

Greater Ithaca Art Trail Show at the State of the Art Gallery, Ithaca, NY from Stan Bowman on Vimeo.


A huge thank you to Stan Bowman for putting together this great video preview of the Art Trail artists currently showing at the State of the Art Gallery in Ithaca. Just a quick preview of what's to come the weekends of Art Trail... October 9-10 and 16-17th!

Just in case you missed it, the portrait I submitted to the SOAG show was one I shot of Gordon Van Wormer back in the Spring. We are hip deep in the process of converting our clay gallery (with all of the shelving and such) into a photography shooting space and gallery for my new images. Tons left to do before next weekend!


From Cold Springs Studio Pottery .......... Day to Day

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Fabulous Fall Wedding Reception


Just a quick note: I will be back to my normal blogging at some point next week. Right now I need to get a lot of post-processing work done on images shot over the past three weeks. This was from this afternoon/evening's wedding reception for Tanya and Paulo de Sousa. I don't think you could have asked for better weather! More pics coming soon.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Demetra & Eddie's Wedding - Sept 2010

Cory and Shantelle - Slide Show





This is what I have been working on all day today. Took forever! Not sure why. I really hope that working in Lightroom will make things like this easier. I figure between Lightroom and Encore, I really ought to be able to make a decent slideshow and webpage that my clients can look through at their leisure.