Thursday, February 28, 2013

New Ideas, New Approach

self-portrait, with texture

I have tried creating my portraits so that the bulk of what I want from the portrait happens in the immediate moment... in camera. I tend to shy away from using Photoshop as key focal point of interest in my images. I'll be the last person to shoot and then say, "I'll fix that in post."

Recently I came down with bronchitis. While sitting around sick as a dog, coughing up nastiness, I decided I had to do something creative. Getting outside to shoot was simply out of the question. Working with recent self-portraits, and playing with the idea of using textures and layers gave me another avenue to explore. I feel like there is a lot of potential in this layering of textures, but from what I commonly see, it tends to be used with a very heavy hand. Much like HDR, most photographers tend to follow presets or actions, moving sliders here and there. They think that makes it their own. My goal was to find a way to create something without it ending up looking dated. We'll see how that idea fares over time. Your thoughts? Does the added texture add anything to the composition? Is it extraneous?

Here is the original image:

Friday, February 22, 2013

Questions For My Readers

I have been working on a new website for Alex Solla Photography for about five months now. In the last few weeks I have been putting far more energy into the new site than this blog.

My questions:
1. Does anyone read this blog directly via Blogger? Or are you reading it via FB? RSS? as email subscription?

2. What sort of things interest you the most on this blog?

3. What would you like to see more of? Technical stuff? Behind the scenes? Interviews? Artistic discussions?

4. If this blog became a part of my website proper, would that matter?

Now, to make this even more fun, everyone who replies will be entered to win an 8x12 print from any of my images. I will draw one random name next Thursday, Feb 28th.

Good luck!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Portraits of Boatbuilders

Watching Jay, Jeff and Cody working on the When and If this past week was amazing. These images illustrate how they did the final fitting for the horn timber and the transom. With everything fitting together with insane precision, I just stood back and watched as high-tech and old-tech came together seamlessly. This assembly was made from laminated plies of tropical hardwoods (sustainably harvested) with a bizarre adhesive similar to urea formaldehyde glues. Once it is laid up and under pressure, it creates a ply-wood with incredibly stability and strength.

Nothing about this assembly was easy. The fitting was a lift and measure, sand, fit, remeasure, repeat process. By the time I arrived, they were in the stages of the final fitting. After they were sure that all mating surfaces were ready to join, more adhesive was applied to the bonding surfaces. While that adhesive set up, huge bolts were threaded through holes and drawn tight against the wood.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Replacing the Horn Timber on the When and If

For those of you who haven't followed along with the progress of the renovation of the When and If, take a look at my earlier posts about this schooner. This week was the final fitting and installation of the new horn timber. With this new beam in place, the spine of the aft end of the boat is in place and these huge beams begin to frame in the transom area.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Apples to Apples, Dust to Dust

Bainbridge Island, WA, looking west in February

Comparing apples to apples is tough.

The last time I left Seattle, Aurora had been born six months earlier. I had been in Seattle to hawk my wares at the Bellevue Art Museum's Fine Craft Show (in the parking garage). My sister had been flown out from Miami to help me with the show. It would be my last attempt at trying to take those monstrous Glaze Tectonics platters on the road. 

After three days at the show, we hadn't sold enough to cover our costs for getting there. As they announced the winners of the daily lottery (of sales receipts that we were required to turn in daily), my name was called. What did I win? I was invited back the following year with a free booth! And the woman who purchased the  one single platter we had sold the previous day: she got tickets for 4 to Alaska for two weeks. Yeah. Sour apples. 

The last time I left Ithaca, I was sure I would never be back. I was heading out to Utah for graduate studies in ceramics. I had it in my head that my professorship was a few years (and a lot of pots) away. I looked west and was certain I would never be back. Four years later, I found myself back in Ithaca, jobless, homeless, struggling through the early parts of my divorce, wondering how on earth I would ever make pottery again. Dreams shattered... depressed, but back in Ithaca. Sour apples.

This week the pendulum took another swing at my head. After spending five days in Seattle with Nancy and Aurora, all I want right now is to move out there and never look back. Totally unrealistic. Doesn't mean I don't feel that pull though. I have felt that pull from the minute I heard my very first ferry horn blast. Moving out there means letting go of all the things that have come to mean so much here. Right now, that is not only heartbreaking, it is impractical. It has taken me over a dozen years to find my place here. 

As Kevin Smith wrote in Clerks, "I'm not even supposed to be HERE today!" I never planned on coming back... but I have tried hard to find the beauty and soul in this place. The friends I have surrounded myself with here are phenomenal. 

What would I lose by leaving here?

What is it about my time in the Pacific NW that compels me to move out there?

How will we ever be able to afford moving out to Seattle when the cost of living is so much higher than here?

So how do I make apple pie from all of this?
I think by finding the things I loved about Seattle, while I am still in the Fingerlakes, will enable me to enjoy what I love here. I have great people, amazing moments of beauty, and a trove of resources I have never experienced anywhere else. At the end of the day, the comparison of apples to apples is tough. Thinking of it as apple pie somehow makes it easier.

Trumansburg, NY, looking east on a January morning.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

So Much For Seattle Being Grey

While we were only in Seattle for five days, I can safely say it was not the grey rainy awfulness I have heard so much about. There were no killer-attacking banana slugs, falling from treetops. Instead there was rich color, everywhere. Sure, the skies were grey, sometimes all day. But when the sun peaked through the clouds, the color was awesome!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Visiting Seattle

In the time since I met Nancy, over twelve years ago, we have never had a "real" vacation. Everywhere we have gone has involved work, family or both. For years it was doing shows on the craft circuit, staying in motels so cheap that even the prostitutes wouldn't spend the night there. We ate cheaply, worked hard and tried to enjoy the 57 channels of commercials on the cable box (we didn't have tv at home). Visiting with family was hard too. Travelling with a small child meant ear infections and screaming on the plane. It meant sunburns from forgotten sunblock. It meant vacation wasn't really vacation. This year we wanted to try something different. So, at the end of January, we flew to Seattle.

Our original plan was to drive a bit each day, stay somewhere cheap, look around, eat good food, and move on the next day. That changed almost the moment we mentioned we were heading to Seattle, when one of Nancy's friends from high school, Ann, invited us to stay with her family. The image below is of Ann's amazing home on Bainbridge Island. Just a short ferry ride away from Seattle, it was our homebase for the five days we were in town.

Ann took us out on a driving tour of the island on Super Bowl Sunday. While we made our way, winding through the back roads of the island, Ann took us out to a couple different beaches and coves. Walking along the shoreline at low tide, exposed some lovely tide pools filled with sea anemones, sea stars, barnacles, abalone, clams, crabs, you name it! It was a very grey day which made for excellent photographic conditions.

While we were scrambling around on the slippery rocks and clay outcroppings, trying NOT to step on the sea anemones exposed by the low tide, we kept hearing faint barking sounds. Eventually we figured out that it was coming from across the cove, near the fish ponds where the sea lions were gathering. We didn't get to see the sea lions up close, but just hearing them was quite a surprise. We did get a chance to see otters, eagles, and even harbor porpoises. The general consensus from the family is that we are heading back out to Seattle at the soonest possible opportunity!

Which leads me to my question of the week: If you were going out to the Pacific Northwest.... where would you go? What would you want to do with your time? Where would you stay? What is on your Must-Do list?