Gray

Gray

Gray is honest

it claims nothing
in exposing the lies
of black and white

even in the honeyed light of morning
when ambiguity can seem warm
it casts itself in the shadows

when caught by the moonlight
it will reach into you
sharp and steely
make your breath catch
as it slices away
the security of all
that you once thought
of as truth

Little Red Horse

Little Red Horse

This image is a composite from several photos. It is one of my favorite techniques.

So many images that I shoot of horses these days have to be in a contained area (well, actually almost all except those in Wyoming and those horses are contained by cowgirls!), that it’s hard to get that sense of freedom seeing a horse brings to us.

After all, there’s nothing freeing about being inside an iron fence, right?

So I often remove backgrounds and put effects like this in place.

The cool thing is, horses can feel free inside an arena — and to watch them let loose is so much fun. This little guy could just have easily been running on the plains or flying across a mountain pasture. In his mind, the wind and the speed and the feeling were not contained within the iron rails. Horses truly live in the moment, and they live the moment to the fullest of its potential. Sometimes the potential is speed. Sometimes it’s to work with a human. Sometimes it’s just simply the act of being. There’s a lesson there.

Dawn’s Horses

Dawn’s Horses

This is a composite image from several different scenes — Estes Park, Colorado, Canyon De Chelly, Arizona and the Black Hills of South Dakota plus a touch, just a touch, of Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming.

For the Photoshop aficionados, this is a layered file of 4 photographs with varying transparency. I then added a mask to each layer to bring out or hide the details I wanted. When I had the feel right there, I added a vignette. After the vignette, I compressed the layers, I duplicated that layer, added a dry brush filter, altered the transparency, merged those two layers, added a highlight edges filter, altered the transparency and then merged the layers again. I then go in by hand and do some touch ups. Viola, several hours later — Dawn’s Horses. I may still go back and tinker. I always save my layers in progress so I can go back to the bottom and start over if I want.

Below is a copy you can blow up by clicking on it:

Unplanned Cat Art

Unplanned Cat Art

Some days art just happens. It requires almost no effort – you just simply show up and it happens.

And when it comes to photographing cats, well, that’s the only way art happens. Anything else is just a struggle with mediocre results.

I have set up a little studio in my basement. It is the first time ever that I’ve had 24/7 access to set up lighting and a backdrop. Everywhere else I’ve shot with studio lights, everything had to be taken down at the end of the shoot. No  random playing without unpacking everything, setting it up, testing it, etc. etc.

When my latest administrative assistant quit,  I would get very sad looking over at her empty desk. I have been through more assistants than Murphy Brown — so many now, it’s both depressing and comical. So last month when I decided to revisit my Skulls and Flowers project, I decided to heck with it (I used more colorful language, actually), I’ll set up my backdrop and lights and just GASP leave them up!

Here’s how the cats got involved … There’s a table. There’s interesting things on the table like boxes and skulls and set up stuff, etc. And there’s cats in my basement. Two of them: Serena and Rose. Now, if you were to try to pose them — lure them into the backdrop, set things up for success, it would NEVER, ever work. There’s a reason why they liken impossible situations to “herding cats.” Cats do what cats do and that is that — and rarely what is on your agenda meshes with what’s on theirs.

The fun thing is, the cats do like the backdrop. They are frequently in it — when I’m on the phone, when I’m teaching a webinar, when I’m in the middle of a very long editing session with a client — they pose and play and generally look very enticing to my photographer’s eye and as soon as I hang  up the phone, close the class or finish the edits, they’re GONE.

This morning, I came down to do an editing session and just as I hung up the phone, Rose jumped up on the backdrop with Serena. My camera was literately inches from my hand. One flip of the light later and I had cat portraits. I snapped about 10 frames before the battery on my Cybersync shot craps. So off I went to edit what I captured.

When I pulled up the images they were pretty. BUT, I am procrastinating going to the grocery store (I’m actually procrastinating the getting dressed part of going to the grocery store), so I decided to play around with some Photoshop techniques. I love to layer filters in Photoshop with masks and varying opacities. Creating unique combinations of filters and masks can create some amazing results, I’m very happy with the ones from this morning. (For you PS buffs I layered a neon glow filter over my base photo, adjusted with opacity and a mask and then used the Shadows and Highlights adjustment to create depth and clean up my shadows) and then I did brush touch-ups to make it all work.

So there you go … unplanned cat art.

Click to enlarge images below. Scroll a little more if you don’t see them right away.

Serena SOOC (straight out of camera)

Rose SOOC

Serena with filers applied.

Rose filters applied.

Joy

Joy

This is a composite image created in Photoshop. It was commissioned as a web banner for TouchedbyaHorse.com. It features a horse named Romeo, a paper background and then overlays of Photoshop brushes.

Creating composite images is a passion of mine. The technique used in this image is a collage of filters and brushes and background and masks. Each one of the composite images I create is a labor of love, and I spend a lot of time editing and re-editing.

This image is named “Joy” because that’s the feeling it gives me. I love this horse’s sassy attitude (he’s really a sweet heart and a bit of a comedian) and paired it with the yellow butterflies (yes, you’ll see a lot of butterflies in my work, I’m drawn to them and what they symbolize) and the passionate orange brown colors.