OK, I know you know where air and earth meet. But what I’m talking about is where aerial and terrestrial photography meet and have a common ground. Where they support each other. Serve one another. Yeah, I’m fancy that way. Continue reading “Where Air & Earth Meet”→
I never thought I’d put “Me” & “DJI” in the same sentence, but there you go. I’m in a new relationship: it’s a new beginning. 😉
Life In The Air Begins
Recently, I announced that I’d been chosen be part of DJI Global‘s brand new elite group of Master Photographers. Cool fact: I’m the only woman in this particular program! In case you don’t know what I’m talking about: DJI is the global leader in the development and manufacturing of consumer and commercial drones. I’m now a quadcopter pilot!
My goal is to create beautiful images and art with my Phantom 4, Bob. (that’s what I’ve named my bird: Bob. A story unto itself!). I’ve long wished I could levitate myself to the vantage points that called my name… now I can fly Bob there!
Trust me when I say, it is another world entirely…
Learning My Way, At My Pace
For this post, I thought I’d share my humble beginnings and first steps. I’m learning at my own pace and in my own way to get super proficient and expert at all this; I look with eager eyes towards winter in the Sierras!
So I get this box with my new bird Bob in it. I call up my brother from another mother Barry Blanchard, who works with DJI and teaches new drone pilots. It’s handy that he knows me so well… which means he got me off to a great start in Santa Cruz, CA. We went through the unboxing, got everything charged up and headed out to the bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
The first day, all I did was focus on flying, not photography – even though I did take a couple of pictures. At this stage, it was ALL about just getting a feel for this crazy thing!
It’s no secret that while these new drones are a cinch to fly; there’s a TON to learn when you pick up a flying machine that can chop off your fingers! Besides fast-tracking me through the do’s and don’t of the basic flying skills, Barry also educated me to the fact that we’re not allowed to fly over wildlife and protected areas, which is why I stayed over the land, not the ocean in this location.
I don’t claim this as a great photo… but it’s memorable to me as one of my very first!
Back Up To The Mountains
Next, I took Bob back home to practice. I knew from the get-go that in order to get good, you not only have to know the rules, laws and guidelines that govern flying drones… you also need some fine motor control and muscle memory in order to call yourself truly in control. And THAT has become second nature, to the point where all the correct instincts take over, even (and most especially) under duress or an emergency. My biggest concern: keeping an eye out for my beloved hawks and ospreys.
I discovered it’s alot like athletics: it works best if you use a set of drills and exercises to train yourself, which I began in my own yard. At first, I stayed within our fenceline, practicing takeoffs and landings, making squares and figures, turning and doing other simple maneuvers till I felt comfortable. Can you see me in this picture?:
I also discovered I get a bit of vertigo when Bob goes up high! That was funny to find out about myself. It’s getting better the more I fly, so once again, I just take my time and only fly where and how I feel comfortable. I feel no need to rush… and that makes me excited every time I go out to fly!
Documenting My Progress
The very first photo at the top of this page is not far from where I live. After practicing in my yard for a few times, I ventured out early one morning to a place I love, where I knew there wouldn’t be any people to worry about. I made this video just for fun, to document some of my early progress as I took my drills and new skills to a new location. It’s not fancy or anything… definitely not 100% smooth… but hey, baby steps!
I always take a progressive approach when learning something new. From years and years of being an athlete and teaching, I understand how to break things down so that the simplest skill drills build into major proficiency. I’m applying that here too; it’s no different than learning to ride, dance, skate or ski in that way.
Barry admonished me to concentrate on flying the quadcopter first, don’t worry about pictures. I get his point – and I do focus first and foremost upon flying. But hey, it’s not my fault that I live in an amazing place that simply throws beauty into my lens like a giant spitwad!
This particular day, I branched out to visit Lake Tahoe. I picked a morning with virtually no wind and very few people around (tourist season is over – yay!)… and explored from on high. It was amazing to finally see what I could only imagine from my many photographic visits here. The best part: taking it easy scored another successful mission!
This was totally unexpected… Kayakers! It’s just the type of shot (or one of them, at least) that has captured my imagination. I’ve seen photos like these from around the world… and Lake Tahoe is a muse’s delight in this regard.
Yeah, I overexposed it… that was part of my learning curve too. But I’m now getting better enough at minor multitasking to get that right too. But hey, I’ll take this one!
So there you have it for now. First steps with a quadcopter named Bob. Hehheh. SOOOO much more to come!
Can you believe we’re almost done? Today is Day 9 in: “Finding Your Voice… 10 Days, 10 Concepts To Help You Find Your Photographic Voice.” And now…
The View: Wide or Macro?
Today’s exploration asks how you love to see the world. The wide view? Close up, contained and focused? Or somewhere in between?
If you’re like me, you love it all! I wanted to admit that right off the bat, in case you thought I was gonna say “Choose amongst them!” No… if you love all view, go for it!
Where you DO have to choose is in your composition. You have to, in a sense, justify what goes in the frame of whatever view you’ve chosen. For this series, that means make strong choices about that based upon what you love. The story you want to tell. The message, point of view or perspective you want to share… which has to all come back to what you love most.
Oh boy! It’s Day 8 in: “Finding Your Voice… 10 Days, 10 Concepts To Help You Find Your Photographic Voice.”
Today, we’re going to wrap ourselves around…
Shapes and Patterns
A world without shapes or patterns is pretty much a blob. Ditto bones. 😉
Shapes and patterns are definitely important elements to watch for – and potentially build compositions around. But when it comes to your artist’s voice, you have to take it deeper. What shapes and patterns do you just go nuts over? Any and all? Organic ones? Geometric ones? Shapes and patterns in nature? Architecture? All of the above?
After you work that out – then the even bigger question to ask is why? How do those particular patterns make you feel? What kind of story/statement does that shape make? These answers are important to know, because they’ll tell you how to compose your shot, whether to wait for warm light, pink light or low light. Is the statement stronger in black and white? To know the answer, you have to know what the statement IS in the first place. And that is all about you and your point of view… your voice.
Welcome to Day 5 of our fun series: “Finding Your Voice… 10 Days, 10 Concepts To Help You Find Your Photographic Voice”
My Favorite Element is _______.
Let’s talk elements. I don’t ONLY mean the natural elements of wind, earth, fire and water. I mean MANY other elements that might be part of what you’re drawn to – that all contribute to finding your Artist’s Voice.
I just finished some changes around here and feel downright ebullient about it!
Hey, I coulda said “zippy”, but that sounded weird. I chose “ebullient” because it means: “overflowing with fervor, enthusiasm, or excitement.” Bingo! That’s what I feel right now, because I just revamped the photography section of my website.
“Why is this such a big deal?” I hear you wonder.
Honey, if you knew what it’s like for me to organize or build ANYTHING… you’d get why I feel like I just remodeled the kitchen!
I celebrate these little things, because I know this for sure: big things are made of interconnected little things. And the little things are like wee mini Tinker Belles; if you want ’em to stick around and multiply, they need love and applause!
I thought I’d keep it simple today. Simplicity is goooood. Simple for me today is posting one of my new pieces, taken a couple of weeks ago as the waves of thunderstorms we’ve been having lately first began streaming through. They’re the ones that make for BOOMING sunsets… and they only happen in just this way once a year. It’s been a particularly awesome season so far (it’s been RAINING! Yay!)… some say it’s because of El Niño and that we’re in for a record-breaking winter. True or not true? I dunno. But it makes me want to start battening down the hatches NOW!
This moment happened at Donner Summit in Truckee, California. It sums up how much I love it here… the expansive, soaring, so-glorious-it-makes-your-heart-FULL feeling I get whenever I’m home in the mountains. A single frame just wasn’t going to scoop it all up… so I created a pano image with right around 8 frames of super boomin’ sunsetty goodness. Even at that, there alot was left over. Hey, I’m not that greedy! Hope you enjoy…
16-55 f/2.8 lens.
Yes! You can buy this print… just click on it to learn more.
Creative photo processing isn’t for sissies. Especially if you share images publicly. There’s always bound to be someone who says something like… “Oh Karen” (fill in your own name for full effect)… “you’re so beautiful, your photos are so beautiful, but you do too much. You should try to be more natural. Also, try cropping to the golden third, it would be better balanced” (fill in many other trivial, uninvited bits of advice here for full effect.) Whatever. You know.
This is alot like walking down the street in a big city, with your tough girl face on (I always think of it as “my neutral face”… but have been informed it’s actually kinda scary. Which is OK with me, when strolling in an unfamiliar big city with expensive camera gear in my hands)… and having some dude slow down and leeringly say “Hey sweetheart, why the big frown? C’mon, lemme see you smile. Hey baby… ” as they sort of lunge toward you.
In my superhero imagination, this doesn’t end well for the poor sod. A few cool, swishy sound effects, punches and grunts, action too quick to catch on-camera and the poor sod is lying there unconscious with little cartoon tweety birds chirping over his head. My inner superhero is striding down the street, dusting off her hands, smiling that she was able to save the day. Yet again.
New things are fun, aren’t they? New clothes, new ideas, new days… they make you feel reborn. Although it’s probably dorky to say that out loud. And yet… I just did.
Here’s a new photo. I took it last month, recently processed it. The light was just right to make this row of bright green pine trees look like a welcoming committee against their darker brethren scaling the mountain behind them. So I named this photo that: “Welcoming Committee”. ‘Cause that’s how I roll.
If you click on it, it’ll take you to yet ANOTHER new thing… my revamped photo site, which I’m still tweaking. This is so much fun… creating new stuff and sharing with you first!
I love winter in the mountains. The entire landscape changes from earth tones to otherworldly winter white, there are different birds flitting about… even the sounds change. Everything gets quieter, more muted. You can see better at night! These are all things I love about winter. And up here, it’s still winter in spring… as depicted in this image, from last April:
Autumn is harvest time.
And personally, I like the idea of harvesting gold.
It doesn’t have to be literal gold… although… wait, give me a moment.
[She pauses. Muses.]
Yep, kinda love that idea too.
But there’s more to this ‘golden harvest’ notion that I like…
(Photo story: taken in Truckee last year – but I never posted it on my blog. The nicest man in town was generous enough to let me venture into his amazing yard. It was breathtaking! I gave the best ones to him to thank him for the unfettered, exclusive access. His family made a Christmas card out of one of them. It was all so cool.)
Simple is good.
Like a pat on the back, a refreshing minty drink – or staring at the sky when the sky is on fire whilst out for a walk.
The latter was my reality selection a couple of weeks ago, when I wanted to get awaaaayyyyyy from the computer for a bit.
Warm, summer evenings are so irresistible!
And so are skies like this one, which felt like it was sent just to me.
I love visual aids. Y’know, images that just say it all – and then some – with no words at all.
It’s a little awkward when you put one on your blog, then proceed to use a bunch of words to talk about it. Kind of defeats the purpose, don’tcha think?
So I’m gonna go minimalist here;
The big picture.
The final hump.
The top that awaits just past the hardest climb yet… and you can’t see it from where you are.
The view: breathtaking
The scope: epic
You in the midst of it all: tiny.
Just keep going. You’re doing great… and you’re almost there!
Thanks so much for coming to my visual aid. Please continue now with your previously scheduled activities. 😀
Where DID the term “banner year” come from, anyway?
We all know what it means, the dictionary defines it as if it has always been… but anybody know where it actually came from? I was just wondering. But I digress (and I haven’t even started!)
It’s been one (a banner year, that is) for skies and sunsets this summer up in my neck of the woods. Lots of thunderstorms – which means lots of awesome sunsets and amazing colors/designs in the sky. I never get tired of looking at them!
Coming This Fall
(sneak peak, only for us guys right now)
This ties in nicely to one of my projects for my new website under construction… cloud packs. “The Heavenly Cloud Collection” to be exact. I’m making packs of cloud images for use as background, sky replacement in composite or design work, which will sell on my site. When I first started working in composites and textures, I looked high and low for good skies. They were not to be found, the little scamps – so I decided to make my own!
Now I’ve got over 3000 images! Some are compositional variations, but even at that there’s a lot. And this year being what it’s been, the collection is growing! So I decided to pack them up and make them available in what will be my new store! I’m just now culling, gathering, prepping (cleanup, sizing – but no processing.) and generally making the groups. Then I’ll do some videos to share ideas on how to use them. Fun! That’ll be coming in November, shortly after the site launches.
That’s just a little sneak peak I’m only sharing on my blog right now… and is one of many projects I’m working on as we speak! So much more to come. 😀
In the meantime… enjoy an evening from a couple of weeks ago. I sure did!
"Love your blog. I stop by for the photography, I linger for the philosophy."
Kelley Morgan, Portland OR
"A beautiful mind will produce beautiful results. And to say the least, yours is a beautiful mind! Thank you for your wisdom and your inner "speak," as they both produce true art from the heart …"
Joe Hudspeth, Prineville OR
"Thank you Karen. A wonderful story but only the tip of the iceberg, the bigger part below the water is all the thousands of photographers you have inspired to chart their own journey, I know as I am one of them."
"Karen, thank you for the wonderful two day post. Your insights are truly thought provoking. I have never been a teacher, nor will I ever be, but to see someone see the light is a wonderful moment. Thanks again."
"As usual, another terrific story. I’m glad I found you but I have to be honest. I didn’t find you on Google + but did on Scott Kelby’s “The Grid”. Thanks for the inspiration in both images and by the pen/keyboard."
"Gads-what a girl! Thanks for the story, it is beautiful."
"Awesome story Karen — I loved reading about your life transformed. Of course I loved the photography theme and the geek in me is forever curious about the power of tech and the power of social platforms. But … for me it is the arc of lives transformed that inspires. Thank you so much for sharing. See you on G+ and in the Arcanum!"