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Archive for the ‘Featured Bloggers’ Category

This month’s featured blogger is none other than Eleanor Abramsom.  I have enjoyed getting to know Eleanor this year through her blog and images.  I love how she is always trying new things and especially her new iphone series….I am amazed by the images it takes!  I am in love with her grandson and Odie pictures.  They are both growing up right in front of us.  Well, enough of me, everyone meet Eleanor…

1.  Tell us a little bit about you?

I’m 58 and live with hubby of 31 years in North Jersey.   We’re about 40 minutes west of NYC. I have 2 sons, one who lives near me in NJ and one who lives in Chicago.   I also have 1 beautiful 3 year old grandson. 🙂    I’m a volunteer puppy raiser for the Seeing Eye, which is located in Morristown, NJ.   They are the oldest guide dog school for the blind in the U.S.  We get the pups at 7 weeks of age (so cute) and keep them until they are about 15-16 months old.    So, right when you have the dog where you want them-they go back and you start all over again. LOL    A lot of people only see the part where we send them back and say they could never do it.   It is hard, but, fortunately, it is not the whole experience.   The experience is fun, rewarding, fulfilling, exasperating.   You also get to associate with a great group of people and get a new pup every couple years. What more could you ask for? 🙂

2.  What kind of photography / art background do you have?

Zero.  Never even thought I was capable of taking a decent photo.

3.  Have you ever participated in this type of photography project before?

No.

4.  What do you hope to gain from the 2010 Virtual Photowalk?

I started out just wanting to learn how to take better pictures and become more familar with my camera.   I want to expand my “vision”- what I see when I’m looking at a scene.   I really appreciate people’s comments because they broaden my viewpoint immensely.

5.  How do you stay motivated for a years worth of photos?

I’m just finishing my first year of owning a DSLR so I think it’s still so new that I don’t need any extra motivation.   But, I guess, I’m always trying to obtain that “perfect” shot whether it be of my grandson or some wildlife.   There’s so much to capture that I want to share and my desire is to be able to share an image so that another person can see and experience the scene the way I did.   Another words – to communicate what I saw.

I also want to preserve memories.    Children and puppies are small for such a short period of time, I want to remember every minute of it. (& if you know me, you’ll know I need all the help I can get in the remembering dept. LOL)

6.  What is the inspiration behind your images?

I’ve always admired good photography, especially wildlife and never considered myself capable of taking a decent photograph.  After my grandson was born I was increasingly frustrated with trying to get a shot of the wiggle worm that didn’t blur.   I joined Elements Village and was really envious of the good shots that people were able to get without having to do a lot of editing.   So, I’ve really been inspired from what I’ve seen there and as part of the Photowalk.  Also, I LOVE being outdoors in nature-what better excuse than to have to go out and take some photographs.

7.  What type of photography equipment are you using (camera,lens,etc)?

I’m using a Canon Rebel T1I.   I have the kit 18-55 lens, a 50mm 1.8, a 70-200mm L series along with a 1.4 converter.   I also have a 430EX speedlight.  I use my iPhone a lot.   I have found I really enjoy using it very much and usually have it with me so it’s very convenient.   It won’t replace a DSLR but I find it pushes me to think more about the shot I’m going after and how to get the desired effect.  It also does away with the excuse “I don’t have my camera”.

8.  Are you a Mac or PC lover and what editing programs are you currently using?  Any favorite filters, actions, etc?

Currently, Mac all the way.  But, I’m always open-if someone comes out with something better I’ll try it.   I recently got Aperture 3, and swear,  I will be learning it for the rest of my natural life.  I also have PSE 6, onOne Essentials and something from Topaz labs.

9.  What is your best advise concerning photography?

I have found the only way to learn is just to “shoot, shoot, shoot”.   I recently went through some of my older pictures and realized that I learned even from the poor shots.   Like most people, I learn through osmosis.  What I don’t understand one day, the next day it will just ‘click’.   I also have to remind myself to be patient.   If I don’t get a shot or it comes out poorly, oh well, maybe I’ll get it next time – or the next, etc.   Along the way, I also remind myself that not everything is meant to be photographed-sometimes, it is just meant to be appreciated.   That occurred recently with a couple of gorgeous sunsets.  They were so beautiful, but, if I had taken the time to get my camera out, decide where to get the picture, etc., I would have missed the sunset.   Maybe God has a scrapbook with His most beautiful ones……….

10.  Name 3 words that describe your photography style.

Hahaha.  I’m not sure I have a style, but, upon reflection one word that comes to mind is motion.  It seems most things that I enjoy photographing are moving.   Another might be happy.  I especially enjoy photographing children when they are having fun.  They show such unbridled joy in the moment..  It releases the joy in me and reminds me not to sweat the small stuff – and it’s all small stuff.

11.  What is your favorite picture you ever took and why?

This is kind of like asking a mother which is her favorite photo.  And I know as soon as I choose one, I will think of another. LOL  I choose this particular picture because it shows my grandson Josh’s  joy in playing.

12.  I know you recently attended Photoshop World in Las Vegas, what did you think of the experience and meeting fellow bloggers?

I was really happy to meet BillZ and would love to meet other fellow bloggers.  Bill is as nice in person as he is on the forum and I appreciate how he went out of his way to meet me and show me around PSW.

So, if anyone is out my way (NYC area), feel free to call or email.  I’d love to get together if possible.

13.  Any other words of wisdom you would like to leave us with?

Not sure they are words of wisdom, but don’t be afraid to go out and photograph and share the photos.   Everyone on the blog is so nice and helpful and I’ve learned so much-whether from a beginner such as myself or a more seasoned photographer.   Don’t be afraid to offer suggestions either-when people make suggestions I find it expands my narrow vision and I learn from them too.   Above all, let it be fun.    Photography is a wonderful way to create a moment that endures.

A huge thanks out to Eleanor….we all really enjoyed getting to know you better.

Stop by Eleanor’s blog to look at her wonderful pictures and to say hi.

http://abramsonscorner.com    or

http://victry1.wordpress.com

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We have a special treat for our July’s featured blogger….it is none other than Ellen Heinemann.  I first started following Ellen’s blog last year during the 365 photos in 2009 challenge.  Just one look and I was hooked on her photography talents and her blog (and her images of her dog Chloe also kept me coming back – who can’t fall in love with that face?)  I have really enjoyed watching Ellen’s photography grow and flourish!  I love how she is always trying different techniques (especially that star effect through the trees from the sun) and I also love her unique and fresh compositions!  When you have a minute spend some time at Ellen’s blog…you will be glad you did!  Introducing Ellen…..

1.  Tell us a little bit about you.

I’m a gardener for hire in my 50’s. I’m also more than a little shy about talking about myself.

2.  Where do you live?

Just outside of Port Townsend WA, west of Seattle.  A lovely spot, about 9000 people.  It is somewhat touristy but there is a lot that goes on for a town its size.

3.  What kind of photography / art background do you have?

Nothing formal, an interested observer is all.  

4.  Have you ever participated in this type of photography project before?

The 365 in 2009 challenge was a wonderful adventure. I am still surprised that I made 365 photos that mostly are pretty good.

5.  What do you hope to gain from the 2010 Virtual Photowalk?

To keep my eye sharp and to keep on with this very cool way to share and ‘meet’ with people who are loving taking photos.

6.  How do you stay motivated for a years worth of photos?

Hoping that I will just keep keeping my eyes open. I live in a beautiful place, I just have to look.

7.  What is the inspiration behind your images?

Cancer took my best buddy/husband 4 years ago and pushing pixels around has been a way to hang on to some feeling of sanity and control.

8.  What type of photography equipment are you using (camera,lens,etc)?

I use a Panasonic point and shoot super zoom.  It shoots in raw and has a lot of control but…I lust after a dslr but each time I get ahead expensive surprises pop up.  The last was a septic system re-do, that stunk!

9.  Are you a Mac or PC lover and what editing programs are you currently using?  Any favorite filters, actions, etc?

I use an aging PC with Photoshop CS4. Plug ins that I like and use are mostly Topaz Adjust 4 and Red Paw Media’s Beautifier.

10.  What is your best advise concerning photography?
Don’t be shy! ( easier said than done)

11.  Name 3 words that describe your photography style.

Haphazard, opportunistic and mostly lucky.

12.  What is your favorite picture you ever took and why?  (please attach picture)

A hard choice but this is up there.  The best dog and a double rainbow.  I like it for the timing, it was a hard day and then the perfect beach walk gave some promise.

13.  Any other words of wisdom you would like to leave us with?

Just keep taking photos I guess and of course keep on visiting all our fellow photowalkers. It truly is a fine bunch of photographers that have come together and an amazing experience. Who knew?

A special thank you out to Ellen for sharing some insight into her life and photography habits…we enjoyed getting to know you better!

To see some of Ellen’s work, go to:    Walking Around

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I think you will all enjoy the insight June’s featured blogger gives into her photography and her life.  Everyone meet Judi Clark!  I am a big fan of her blog and  how she uses it to demonstrate and learn new techniques.  I love that she plays with her camera settings and processing techniques and then shows us the differences.  I have learned so much from her posts and also I just enjoy the beauty of her images!  I also love how Judi is living proof that you don’t need a DSLR to create gorgeous images.  Let’s welcome Judi….

1. Tell us a little bit about you.

Hi.  My name is Judi Clark.  I’m 53 years old and I’m a photoholic.  I take pictures almost every day now that I’ve joined this fabulous photo blogging group. My blog can be found here: http://www.mostlyfiction.com/2010photowalk/

I have time to devote to this addictive hobby because I only work part-time as a Work Camper at an RV park. During the high season I work in the office and in the off-season (meaning too hot for sane people to be here) I get to clean the facilities (yes, toilets too…).  I used to have real jobs, some might even call it a career.

When not taking photos, or working part-time,  I work on my book review site MostlyFiction.com. I started this site in 1998 as an exercise to learn to code websites.  If you read fiction, you should visit my site (http://bookreview.mostlyfiction.com) — I have an excellent team of reviewers and great support from the publishing world, meaning they send us the books we want to read.

2. Where do you live?

I currently live in Quartzsite, AZ with my significant other of 17 years whose name is Carl.  We’ve been here since December 2008.  I’m from New Hampshire/Maine and lived there most my life except for a couple years when Carl and I lived on our sailboat in the Florida Keys.

3. What kind of photography / art background do you have?

None. My background is 100% hacking with no formal training in either the technical or the artistic side. Although, I’ve had bouts of being serious about my photography, this time is different because I’m taking the time to really explore the technical side; I give credit to the 2010 Virtual Photowalk for helping me focus on this goal.

Photography is so fundamental to me. Although I’ve owned a camera all my life (starting with a Brownie when I was in elementary school), I never had the money to freely use film or if I had the film, I couldn’t afford to develop it. Or when I finally could afford to develop it, I was too busy to drop it off… or pick it up.  I bought my first serious camera, a Canon A1, with a few lenses when I was in my mid-twenties.  And then another, and another.  My life was adventurous enough back then that my cameras kept finding themselves under salt water. My last film camera was a waterproof point & shoot that we took with us on the sailboat. By the time we were back on land, digital cameras were affordable and I haven’t stopped shooting since.

I have had two distinct jobs that involved photography —  first when I was 20 and worked for the detective unit in a NH police department for 6 months and I was responsible for developing their film (one murder and one suicide included). Then most recently, for five years it was my job to take photos of plush toys (“stuffed animals” to the lay person) for our catalogs.  I had a lot of other responsibilities as well, like putting the catalogs together and managing the product line… still, I did take photos nearly every day and got a really good handle on PSE to fix my mistakes. Plus, I got to go to China a few times.

4. Have you ever participated in this type of photography project before?

No I haven’t.  I did do a travel blog (http://travelblog.mostlyfiction.com) for 4 months while we were “homeless” in the fall of 2008… that is after we left NH to seek out our new home, which we thought was going to be in Portland, Oregon. We wanted to see the Southwest before we got seriously caught up in jobs again. You can see how that worked out.

5. What do you hope to gain from the 2010 Virtual Photowalk?

When I joined, I thought this was just going to be a chance to share some of my existing photos matching or editing them to certain themes.  Looking back at my blog, this is what I did most of January.

Then, I figured out that it was meant to be a “live” Photo Walk, not a “walk down memory lane” and thus I finally shot my first photos with the themes in mind. It gave a whole new meaning to picture taking! I still shoot whatever appeals to me but sometimes I see things I wouldn’t have because I’m trying so hard to do the themes or exercises.

So, what I have gained and hope to continue to gain is a reason to explore every aspect of my cameras, software techniques and to finally have a solid knowledge of why one photo works better than another — and the hardest part — to take such a photo every time.  The tips and exercises are invaluable.  It’s one thing to read, and a whole other to try it out.  The peer comments are priceless as they give both confidence and helpful nudges. Finally, participating in the peer reviews is worth the effort because it is so inspiring.  When I see something I like, it makes me really look at the photo in order to try to comment somewhat intelligently as to why I like it (or not). If all I did was look at photos and leave comments, it would be worth the effort since  I always learn something in the process.

I have already begun to be a better photographer by being part of this group. I thought I was photo crazy before; but now I’m obsessed.  So, thanks everyone!

6. How do you stay motivated for a years worth of photos?

What? I’m doing this for a year!  Kidding, sort of.  I guess I’m not really thinking about the whole year, just worrying about the month to month commitment, or I should say each two-month commitment.  When I look at the themes at the beginning of the month I worry as to how I’m going to come up with anything.  June is proving to be the  hardest month for me.  A beach scene?  Downtown?  Seaside?  The City?  Heck, I live in the desert!  I’ll be amazed if I pull this one off without stretching a theme to the of point of breaking.  I trust, as in previous months, bit by bit the themes will get covered.  I think between the themes, the mini-assignments, the Friday Tips, the guest bloogers… and getting new ideas from looking at everyone’s photos… I don’t lack for motivation, just the time to do it all.

7. What is the inspiration behind your images? I’m not so sure you call it inspiration… but here goes…

When I was photographing plush toys, I sometimes would have to take photos for 8 hours straight.  To keep the pictures fresh, I developed a “running dialog” technique in which I thought of a story that I wanted to convey and try to bring them to life by staging them with props and working on their pose. I did this for even the short daily shoots as I found it helped me look at all aspects of the picture… so that I didn’t have to later crop out or clone out the scissors left on the table or clone the fur from the eye.  I still had slip-ups but this was my best secret weapon.  When I trained my replacement, I finally told her this secret and finally, her pictures came to life. So, I have proof that it works.

I find these days, that if I concentrate and listen to my running dialog, they my pictures are better for it.  When I “see the story” I have confidence that its going to be a good photo.

8. What type of photography equipment are you using (camera,lens,etc)?

I have two  Point and Shoot cameras now:

Until recently, everything on the Photoblog was taken with a Canon PowerShot SD950S Elph with 12.1 megapixels.  I think you can tell from my photos that this is a great little camera and I highly recommend it.  It’s best feature is that it is so small it is easy to carry, thus I’m rarely without it. Even when I use it in manual mode (which is what I prefer) it isn’t complicated to use.  The secret behind the quality shots, in my opinion, is the size of the sensor.  It is larger than almost every other point and shoot camera out there, including my new camera.

My new camera is a Canon PowerShot SX10 IS, a 10 megapixel camera.  The sensor on this is fairly standard size for the better point and shoot cameras.  Since the sensor is smaller in this camera than my Canon Elph, I figured that having 10 megapixels would be smarter than having 12 megapixels, as is featured in the newest model. With the new camera I get 20X zoom lens (5mm to 100mm) and more controls: Focus, Aperture priority, Shutter Speed priority, Manual mode, and Fill Flash adjustment.

Sure, I’d have rather have purchased a DSLR camera but my current lifestyle dictates that I learn to make do with the tools available to my budget.

9. What special challenges do you find in shooting with a point and shoot (P&S)camera?

They put so many features in these point and shoot cameras that it really isn’t so very hard to get a decent picture out of them.  I’ve owned many over the years, and until joining this challenge, I didn’t miss the SLR camera.

The most challenging part of using the P&S is that you don’t have control over the aperture or shutter speed. Also, the aperture is limited.  Both my cameras range between f/2.8 and f/8.0.  I suspect that the size of the sensor in the P&S cameras is the reason that the aperture is limited to f/8.0.

My SX10 lets me set the aperture;  my  Digital Elph does not.  But, it does display the aperture, shutter speed and ISO information when I depress the shutter button halfway.  Most times I accept what I get. Other times I play around to see if I can get it to change. I find that even though I don’t have control over the settings, the camera makes smart decisions when I change the things that I can change.

I have learned that the best way to use my camera is in Manual mode, with  ISO 80 or 100 and I always take the time to set the focus distance, which is either infinity, normal or macro.  If I really want a macro picture, I use the built in digital macro feature available through the menu.

I don’t often use the pre-configured Scenes… although, if I have time, I will experiment with them to see if I can get the desired aperture or shutter speed. For most of the Scenes, the aperture is at 2.8, but in a couple it is 8.0.  Zooming seems to change aperture.  Scenes mostly changes the Shutter Speed — thus a way to cheat at Shutter priority.  When in Scenes mode, there is no control over ISO; but like Manual mode, I can still select one of the 3 focal points.  So the challenge here is to remember which “short cuts” will work when you need them.  As I say, I don’t usually use Scenes.

Although I have the option to select the ISO with both cameras, the nature of the sensor in the P&S camera operates best at ISO 80 or ISO 100. But sometimes I run the camera in Auto ISO mode, just to see what the results will be.

The most challenging part of my Canonl Elph is that it doesn’t let me choose where to focus. It does central focusing or what is called A1AF, where it picks the focus.  I find if I depress the shutter button half way and release it and try again, sometimes the focus will change spots and sometimes it is even where I want it.

Although my older camera does have a fairly decent zoom lens, it is really just a tool for better framing.  The new camera with its 100mm zoom is good for capturing things at a distance (as I’ve demonstrated in my blog).  It’s very exciting.  We picked up this used camera on e-bay for far less than a decent lens would cost if we did own a DSLR. (I’d have preferred to buy the lens but then we’d have to add in the cost of the body… and you know it doesn’t stop there.) Of course, the built in lens is not ideal, 100mm isn’t very far and the digital zoom works best with a tripod, which is never with me when I’m riding my bike and shooting nature.

That brings me to image stabilization.  I love the built in image stabilizer.  Love, love, love it.  Unfortunately, I owned an earlier Canon without image stabilizer on my first trip to China.  Because we worked all day, we didn’t arrive at The Great Wall of China until late in the day and thus we quickly lost day light and then it was dark.  My pictures are so blurry that if the subject matter wasn’t The Great Wall of China, I’d have deleted them years ago.  A camera with Image stabilizer would have shot perfect pics, even at night. A camera with Image stabilizer makes me a better photographer than I really am.

10. Are you a Mac or PC lover and what editing programs are you currently using?  Any favorite filters, actions, etc

After 25 years of being a PC user, I switched to a Mac during the July 4th weekend of 2008.  I bought the dummy book and felt like a dummy for two days.  The third day I woke up with a Mac brain and have been a Mac lover ever since.

Over the years, I have used a LOT of different photo editing programs.  When I interviewed at Wishpets, I was asked if I knew how to use Photoshop Elements.  I answered yes, I had so many different ones under my belt I was confident, I’d “get it” if I had to.   When I was offered the job later that day, I went out and bought my first copy of PSE and gave myself a crash course so that by the time I showed up at the job 5 days later, it was true, I did know how to use it.

I like PSE and bought a copy for my Mac without hesitation. My copy of PSE is now a bit behind and when I have some spare money I will upgrade.  I figure there is still so much that I can do with it that I wanted to invest in a new direction.

So, I recently bought Aperture 3, which is very similar to Lightroom, but a little less money and of course, it is designed for a Mac.  By now you have figured out that I love to challenge myself with new software.  Aperture is so different than any other photo editing program that I’ve used previously… it took me a bit to wrap my head around it.  In fact, there are a lot of new PSE tricks that this group has demonstrated and I would like to try each one,  but I’ve promised myself that I am not going to get distracted until I feel that I really understand how to use Aperture.   Then, I hope to use PSE for the things that can’t be done in Aperture.

What I like best about Aperture is that everything/anything that you do to edit a photo is non-destructive to the image.  I can make all kinds of tweaks, keep that photo and start over again with a new master.  I can do this twenty times and it barely uses disk space.  I can turn off something I’ve added and turn it back on.

Oh, and I like that all I have to do is click on a number from 0 to 5 and it rates my photos… and then I can use smart folders to single out the better photos and then choose from these as to which to post on my photo blog.

11. What is your best advise concerning photography?

Take your camera everywhere and don’t be embarrassed to stop and take a picture.  Leave it in Auto or P mode so that you are ready for anything. Try not to feel rushed.  Think before you shoot. (Unless it is an allusive Quail or other form of fleeting wildlife or human life.)  Move and shoot again. Don’t be lazy.  Get down at eye level with your subject.  Remember, don’t be lazy. There is probably a better shot that you haven’t seen yet.

These are the things I tell myself all the time. As well as reminding myself to look out for snakes, scorpions, and a new devil that I recently learned about, spider wasps.

12. Name 3 words that describe your photography style.

Not sure yet.

13. What is your favorite picture you ever took and why?  (please attach picture)

Isn’t this an impossible task?  Of the 11,000 or so photos I’m to pick just one?  I was going to choose one of my favorites from a China trip, but it was taken with a Sony P&S camera and I don’t even remember which one.  (Carl doesn’t either… that says something about how many digital cameras we’ve gone through over the years.)

The one I am choosing I took approximately one year ago on our way back from a trip to Rapid City, South Dakota.  I am standing at the border of South Dakota and Wyoming, out in the distance is Nebraska.   Isn’t it amazing that his photo came out of the Digital Elph?

If you want to see my favorite China picture, let me know and I’ll post it on my blog.

14. Any other words of wisdom you would like to leave us with?

Image stabilization in a Point and Shoot camera is essential for road trips.  I have taken some great photos from the passenger seat of a moving car.  (Don’t tell anyone, but I did try this from the driver’s seat in Tucson… I don’t advise this.)  When everything is new and stimulating, the driver will most certainly leave you on the side of the road after you have asked him to stop twenty times in as many miles. Tripods are great, but most often not practical. My last words of wisdom : image stabilization.

A special Thank You out to Judi!   Thanks for sharing a bit about yourself!

To visit Judi’s blog, go to:  Judi’s 2010 Photowalk

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This month we will be getting to know Doris Pacheco a bit better.   I met Doris last year over at the village.  I was drawn to her artistic eye and processing techniques.  She has the ability to turn every image she takes into a work of art.  I love that she shares her processing techniques on her blog, I learn something new from her daily!  I love how she can look at an image and in her mind know whether to burn, dodge, or use filters to turn the image into a more dramatic and appealing picture!  Without further ado….everyone meet Doris…

1.  Tell us a little bit about you.
Hi, my name is Doris Pacheco.  I am 56 and married to my great husband for 33 years.  We have one wonderful daughter.  I love animals, nature and taking photographs.  I am a homemaker (this is reported to be debateable!!!).

2.  Where do you live?
Madera, CA, USA

3.  What kind of photography / art background do you have?
We did horse show photography in the 90’s as a hobby and helping with that is my main photographic background.  My husband did most of the photography, but I learned a lot about film photography and some darkroom techniques.  I also learned how to avoid getting kicked or stepped on!! 🙂
Processing is really my passion.  I love photography, but I really enjoy taking a photo and turning it into something completely different or more dramatic than the original.  I have been working with Adobe Photoshop Elements for just over a year now.  It is my main editing software and I am self-taught.

4.  Have you ever participated in this type of photography project before?
Never!  This is quite an undertaking!

5.  What do you hope to gain from the 2010 Virtual Photowalk?
Photography experience is what I really need.  I think I have a decent feel for what I like but don’t always stretch myself to take on new challenges with my camera.  I love seeing other people’s work!  There are so many of you who inspire me!

6.  How do you stay motivated for a years worth of photos?
I love just taking pictures.  I don’t worry too much about subjects.  If I concentrate too much on themes I will burn myself out.  So I just take photos and just keep the themes in the back of my mind.   This takes a lot of the stress off and I can just shoot.  I try to always look up, down and use macro and telephoto to get different angles and perspectives on things.

7.  What is the inspiration behind your images?
Hopefully most of my photos are interesting and/or show beauty.  Nature is a wonder to me.  I have a science degree and I am fascinated by things around me that are commonplace or out of the ordinary.
I love light and how it can change the mood of a photo.  I love manipulating images to reflect more mood in lighting.  Dodging and burning are two techniques that I use on almost all of my photos.  I am inspired by Ansel Adams who was such an artist with dodging and burning in the darkroom.  His processing techniques are as famous as his photography.   I just try to bring a little more character and depth to an already decent photograph.

8.  What type of photography equipment are you using (camera,lens,etc)?

I started the last year with a little Fujifilm S700 camera.  This fall, I purchased a Canon T1i with an 18-55 mm lens and a 75-250 mm lens.

9.  Are you a Mac or PC lover and what editing programs are you currently using?  Any favorite filters, actions, etc?
I have had pc’s forever but bought a Mac in 2009.  I love it!  I wouldn’t go back.  I use Adobe Photoshop Elements for most all of my editing.  I have Adobe Photoshop CS4 but haven’t taken time to really learn it well.
My favorite plug-ins are almost all Topaz Labs selections.  I love Topaz Simplify and Topaz Adjust.  I also have ReMask,  DeNoise, Detail and others.  I also use OnOne Photo Essentials 3.

10.  What is your best advise concerning photography?
If photography is a passion and a hobby, just do what pleases you.  You know what you like when you see it!  Learn all you can by whatever way you learn best.  Some people may like instructional videos online while others want a good book or a living, breathing instructor.  Know yourself and you will be a more confident photographer.

11.  Name 3 words that describe your photography style.
Lighting, mood and artistic.  I don’t mean that I am artistic, because I don’t think I am.  I do think that I will work on a photograph for a long time to get it to look like I want.  I feel I am more of a technician than an artist.  But that is cool with me.  It is what I am most comfortable with.  I think I can achieve a fairly artistic outcome.

12.  What is your favorite picture you ever took and why?  (please attach picture)
I have thought long and hard about this.  My favorite photo is usually one that I am working on at the time!   I think that I have favorite compositions more than photographs.  Ultimately, the one I have included here is one I took from a moving car while on the 17 mile drive in Carmel, CA.  I replaced the sky, removed some signage and did extensive dodging and burning.  I think it is a fair example of my growth as a photo processor in the last year.

15.  Any other words of wisdom you would like to leave us with?
Experiment!  And remember, you can’t waste film anymore!  Shoot away!

Thank you Doris for allowing us to get to know you better!

To see some of Doris’s gorgeous work or just to say hi  go to:  http://dorispac/wordpress.com

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April’s Featured Blogger is our very own Leif Hammar, one of our bloggers from Sweden.  I first became enthralled with Leif’s work last year in the 365 challenge.  I loved how he could see the most ordinary items in such an artistic manner.   In this year’s blog he has expanded on his artistic talents and produced more jaw dropping images.  I love how he can take an every day scene, such as water dripping into a bucket, and turn it into an artful masterpiece.  I am also intrigued by his macro shots, I love how he gets up close and personal with what he is photographing ,  and how he clearly brings out the details in those close ups.  I always find his work fascinating and I am sure you will too, everyone, meet Leif…


1.  Tell us a little bit about you.
I’m an artistic soul who is openminded and positive. I am creative, ambitious and very stubborn sometimes. I’m a night person. Creativity often comes when darkness has descended. Then I can work. I like to do things that I have anything else to do. I have nothing to do so will be nothing done. Although I live in town so I am a man who likes nature a lot. In addition to my main interests as photography, I like drawing and painting. Sometimes I read a lot too. Moreover, I am single. I’m Available you know:-)

2.  Where do you live?

I live in a suburb called Bromma in Stockholm.

3.  What kind of photography / art background do you have?

I have a number of programs and courses behind me in the art and image. Interest in the picture, I have had long, so long as I remember anyway. I´ve studied at art schools and design schools, both part-and full-time. The most recent training, I have passed on Konstfack (University College of Arts, Crafts and Design) http://www.konstfack.se/konstfack/jsp/polopoly.jsp?d=10&t=1&l=en; degree of bachelor of education in visual culture, art and design (180 credit points (270-ECTS)). Maybe I’ll study and to train me in the photo in autumn term, if so, at a distance.

4.  Have you ever participated in this type of photography project before?

I don´t know if 365 Photo Challenge count in this, In this case no.

5.  What do you hope to gain from the 2010 Virtual Photowalk?

To share my interest to others and get inspired by others and to see how others see and interpret images.

6.  How do you stay motivated for a years worth of photos?

I have not been involved with photography for so long. It has grown over the years. Motivation comes from other people’s pictures in the photo. By learning technology in photography, I have discovered a new form of artistic expression in my photography.

7.  What is the inspiration behind your images?

It often comes from the nature. It can also come from an event, something that I’ve seen or read.

8.  What type of photography equipment are you using (camera,lens,etc)?

I have a fairly simple camera equipment. My old Nikon D70 is still hanging on. Lenses that I use is; Nikon AF-S 24-120 mm /3.5-5.6G (It will be replaced later with Nikon AF-S 24-70/2.8G ED), Nikon AF-S DX 10-24 mm /3.5-4.5G IF-ED and my best lens; Nikon AF-S VR 105 mm /2.8G IF-ED. Sometimes I use my flash; Nikon Speedlight SB 800 and my Manfrotto tripod. Then I have my little Canon Ixus 100 IS which I always carry with me. I do not want to miss anything interesting on my way.

9.  Are you a Mac or PC lover and what editing programs are you currently using?  Any favorite filters, actions, etc?

I´m a Mac lover. I use CS3 (Design premium) who include Photoshop Extended. (time to upgrade to CS5). I´m working often in camera raw in Lightroom 2. If I want to do something special with the images I work with them in Photoshop. Where can I work with layers that facilitate the process.I use curves a lot.  Otherwise I process the images for the Web in Photoshop, which to cut the file size and tighten them up with high pass before I publish them on the blog. It is my favorite filter so far.

10.  What is your best advice concerning photography?

The best advice in photography is that you get the opportunity to learn to see things differently, not only the technical. The motif, is it the most important to get good and interesting pictures, and also have something to tell, that they have a content. Concerning the technical aspect is not the camera itself who is important but the main lens which play a decisive role to get quality in your images. I would rather choose a high quality lens (If I had money). You get better pictures if you buy a more expensive lens that you may benefit from more, than to trade up to a new camera. Choose a lens that gives good sharpness and ED glass elements minimize chromatic aberration etc. So my advice is to choose a lens with care, even if it would be more expensive. You will appreciate that in the long run and save money in this way.

11.  Name 3 words that describe your photography style.

Macro, Wide Angle and artphoto.

12.  What is your favorite picture and why?

Oh, what a tough question;-) I don´t know really. I shut my eyes and select one. Here you are. Since I bought my Macro lenses, I have discovered a new world and the question of why is that small things like insects and plants have been interesting to take pictures of.

13.  Any other words of wisdom you would like to leave us with?

To create is to live.

A special thanks goes out to Leif for sharing some insight into his photographs.  Everyone, check out his sites (I am sure you will be pleased with his work) and say hi!

http://artlover-mittlivibilder.blogspot.com/

http://artlover.blogg.se/

http://www.mostphotos.com/artlover

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Everyone please welcome Bill Z as our March Featured Blogger.  I first became acquainted with Bill’s work over at Elements Village where I looked forward to his new additions to his gallery.  His work is always fresh and unique and usually filled with humor. Last year I started following his blog in the 365 Photos in 2009 challenge and was amazed by his pure talent and knack for coming up with original images to fit the themes.  This year is no different, between his themed shots and his food themed shots I am always in awe by how creative and innovative he is.  He is always mixing it up, a lensbaby shot here, a fisheyed shot there, and a  HDR shot thrown into the mix.  Whatever he shoots he always manages to make the image interesting and compelling.  Everyone….say hi to Bill Z….

1. Tell us a little bit about you.
No!

Well ok, but I’m not very good at this. I’m a 30 year Wisconsin native and an alumnus of the University of Wisconsin. Evidence shows that I spent most of the ’70s in Madison, driving a taxi for a few years after graduation (I wanted to make my parents proud) before landing a ‘real’ job. LW Jan and I recently celebrated 25 years of marriage (in a row!) and through my job we’ve had the good opportunity to move to Washington, DC, and then to Oregon where we’ve been for 20 years.

2. Where do you live?
Good, an easy one. I’m located in Portland, Oregon, and wild horses would be unable to drag me away. This is a beautiful, wacky town, and I love it dearly. We have a dilapidated little condo on the shores of the Willamette River just a couple miles from downtown. I could ask for no more.

3. What kind of photography / art background do you have?
Really, none. My degree is in Journalism, so I took a couple photo journalism classes in college, but that was it. About the time cameras went digital I caught the photography bug. One of my pc’s had PSE1 on it. By the time PSE3 was being introduced I stumbled on the Photoshop Elements User site and have been hooked since. I’ve taken several photography and photoshop classes through the local community college as well as a five day immersion class through Elderhostel a couple years ago. I also treat myself to an annual trip to Photoshop World. There’s no way to describe the amount of inspiration and learning that comes from that event.

4. Have you ever participated in this type of photography project before?
As an indicator of my mental instability, this is my third year. Looking for a shot a day has become a part of my life that I enjoy very much.

5. What do you hope to gain from the 2010 Virtual Photowalk?
A continuation of what began with Will Presley’s photo themes 230 weeks ago. The first theme Will posted was ‘water’ and I vividly remember wanting to find a unique way to present such a common item. I was nervous about posting an image, and if I was going to do it I wanted mine to stand out somehow. That’s been my driving force over the course of the photo theme challenge (which I’m profoundly honored to host) as well as the last three years of what is now the Virtual Photowalk. I want my photographer’s eye to be always on the lookout for the shot, to never take a common item for granted and constantly explore different ways and angles to view the things I’m looking at. Having a topic to look for helps me to keep striving toward that goal.

6. How do you organize your shooting in advance?
I study the shot list … a lot. It’s on a spreadsheet that I store online so I can get to it from any pc, and it’s on my cell phone so I can review the shots I need. From there I’ll make notes about unique or different ways to present the theme. If there are seasonal connections I’ll try to time them accordingly. And many times there is no advance planning, simply stumbling on something and knowing that it fits a theme.

7. How do you stay motivated for a years worth of photos?
Actually it’s the year’s worth of fun and surprises that motivates me. I’m never more than a couple feet from a camera and just couldn’t imagine a day of not looking for a shot. I hear runners say similar things … once it’s part of your life and daily routine, it becomes a joy. I don’t run, but I get their point.

8. What is the inspiration behind your images?
I’m a guy, how do I know?? Seriously, I don’t know the inspiration … the drive however is to present my image in a way that is different from the usual presentation. Maybe a creative angle or a unique perspective, or perhaps it’s just an unusual way to interpret the theme. Ideally a viewer will see a photo and be able to tell that it’s one of mine.

9. What type of photography equipment are you using (camera,lens,etc)?
When life allows, I shoot with a Nikon d80. It’s my first dSLR and I’ve become very comfortable with it. I have an 18 – 200 mm Nikon lens, as well as a Tokino 10 – 17 mm fisheye, and a Lensbaby Composer with a wide angle adapter. On rainy work days I carry a little Canon sd780, and on dry work days I carry a Canon G9.

10. Are you a Mac or PC lover and what editing programs are you currently using? Any favorite filters, actions, etc?
Someday maybe I’ll migrate to Mac, but for now it’s PC. I’m using Photoshop CS4 and Adobe Camera Raw for the bulk of my editing, along with Photomatix for HDR edits. I don’t use a lot of filters or plug-ins, but I do find the Topaz products very good, and bought the bundle.

11. What is your best advice concerning photography?
Have fun with it. Unless you’re working for someone, hoping to sell your shots or win a contest, throw the rule book away. Look at your subject from as many different angles as you can think of to look at it, and then look at it again from a few more. Angle your camera to skew the horizon. Find the approach that works best for you and go with it. If it happens to be the back side of something and it’s dead center in the frame with a phone pole sticking up behind it … and it makes you smile … it’s a good shot.

12. Name 3 words that describe your photography style.
I have none. There, that was three. How about three words that I strive for in my photography instead? Different. Interesting. Understanding.

13. What is your favorite picture you ever took and why?
That’s really difficult. So many of my favorite photos are favorites because they trigger good memories. This would have to be one of them though because I find it impossible to look at and not smile. I was renting a fisheye lens to see if I’d like it well enough to buy, and stumbled across a couple guys with their dogs outside a coffee shop. They gave me the ok to shoot the dog, and I no sooner pointed the camera before a big wet nose was headed for the lens. The crop was intentional to remove the distraction of the human eyes, and I just love the second dog in the background as well.

14. Any other words of wisdom you would like to leave us with?
Have fun. Take your camera with you everywhere you go, and don’t be intimidated by using it in public. Oh, and play the weekly photo themes on the elementsvillage.com site. 😉

Thanks Bill for letting us get to know you better….we enjoyed our time with you!  Stop over at Bill’s blog to say hi and to see his work…you’ll be glad you did!  You can find Bill at:

Virtual Photowalk 2010

BillZ’s Element Village Gallery

You can also join Bill’s weekly photo themed challenges HERE (and while you are there check out the EZ Challenges and the Be Creative Challenges)

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Everyone, meet Jessica Sweeney from our Brilliantly Bodacious Bunch.  I was introduced to Jessica’s blog last year during the 365 Photos in 2009 challenge.  Once I started visiting Jessica’s blog I was hooked and made a point of visiting her blog daily.  At that time Jessica was living in Thailand and I fell in love with seeing that country through her eyes.    I love hearing what is going through Jessica’s mind when she takes a picture and her processing techniques, I have learned tons from following her blog.   Well, I’ll quit chattering so we can all meet Jessica Sweeney…

1.  Tell us a little bit about you.

Well, I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, went to university in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and my twin passions at the moment are photography and travel. To date, I’ve been to 27 countries, and most recently spent a year living in Thailand. I live with my boyfriend and the cat we picked up in Thailand, and I’m just settling into living in the US again.

2.  Where do you live?

I’m back in San Francisco right now, and I’m pretty sure that I’ll be staying here for good – of course with frequent trips to other countries, if possible! For the next few months I have a feeling I’ll just be staying in one place. It feels good to be home again.

Continue reading the rest of the interview here

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