Home, Again

Ahhhh, home. There really is no place like home, is there? Sunday we arrived home from a week-long Spring Break trip to Washington, DC. It was a great week filled with history and art and making fun memories. And, as fun as it was, it was still so, so good to get home. So good to sit in my chair, sleep in my bed, snuggle with my pets. It was nice to visit the president’s home, but, fancy as it may be, it has nothing on my little home.

White House Washington DC Kat Sloma Photography

A few years ago, when we first moved to Italy and were in the first blush of a new adventure, we had this idea on the table to take a year off sometime in our future and travel the US. We thought we could live out of our camping trailer, homeschool our son, and go wherever the wind took us. I would photograph and blog. An internet connection, a few clothes and a map, that’s all we would need, right?

Wrong. For me, at least.

What we learned in Italy, with all of the travel we did in those two years, is that we need a physical home base. I am a homebody. We all are, in my immediate family. I need to have my space and my time in that space. I need a place I can store and display the things I collect along my journeys. A place I can mess up and clean up and walk around. It doesn’t have to be a big space, but it needs to be a place with an address. A place I can return to after my adventures.

I was reminded of this, as I arrived home this week. It doesn’t matter where home is, but I need to have a place to return.

Home, again.

Photo-Heart Connection: March 2014

It’s all in the light. Beautiful, heavenly rays of sunshine through the blossoms.

Spring Tree Blossom Oregon Kat Sloma Mobile Photography

I photographed a lot of tree blossoms in March. As I looked through the photographs, I realized the photographs were of the blossoms, yes, but they were also of light. Sunlight in the evening, sunlight after rain. The sunlight created the beauty, as much as the blossoms on the tree.

So many of these images were taken in what now seem to be fleeting moments. A chance encounter: Me, my camera, and the right light at the right time. A week or two later, the blossoms are now fading and the rains have returned. As I look at this dazzling beauty from a couple of weeks ago, I am full. Full of gratitude, for that brief moment in time, I was able to be fully present. Full of awe, for what I was able to create out of the experience. Full of hope, the hope that spring always brings along with it.

This is what life is about, isn’t it? Brief moments of time, lived to their fullest. Noticing the sunlight on the blossoms, when it is available. Being present and active and engaged in what life offers up, every day.

This moment in time is all we have. It’s where we choose to be; what we choose to see, to capture, to do with the moment that matters.


 
This month’s Photo-Heart Connection brings me an important reminder. I so often live in the future, asking myself, “What do I have to get done next?” No matter what I’ve completed, there is always, always something else on the list. But this morning I’m reminded by light on blossoms, blossoms and light now long gone as I write this, that I can’t always be thinking about what’s next. I need to be present in this moment, living fully in the here and now, to appreciate and see what life is bringing me. This is hard for me. So very hard. I think I’ll print and hang this image of light on blossoms in a prominent place to remind me of this month’s message: Be present.

What is your Photo-Heart Connection this month? Have you been seeing the light on the blossoms, or are you struggling through some darkness? Whatever the message, it’s important to listen to your heart — it’s speaking through your art. I hope you’ll share what you find with us.

Spring Abundance (A Mobile Tutorial)

I can’t believe the trees this spring. They are covered in blossoms. Just covered. Maybe last year they were too, and I was so busy mourning the loss of my bare tree branches I didn’t notice. But this year, I’m not missing them! Most days you’ll find me out snapping a photograph or two of these amazing blossoms.

On a neighborhood walk on Saturday, I photographed this amazing tree. The branches looked like garland, they were so covered by flowers. It was perfect for a little new app play!

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Here is the original photograph, captured in ProCamera 7.

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I liked this original photograph, showing the abundance of the flowers, but it wasn’t something I was inspired to do a fancy edit on. Enter a couple of new apps, Vintango and Classic Vintage. As I played with these apps, I realized that my great exposure in the camera was leading to overexposure in the processing, so I took the original and decreased the contrast and brightness in Snapseed. It may seem odd that I needed to do this, but if things are coming out too bright in processing you always have this option to adjust the starting photo.

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Next, I pulled the Snapseed-adjusted image into Vintago. This is a color filter app, just applying film effects. It is very simple and does not offer any filter adjustment, but I’ve found so far that is fine, because the film effects don’t seem to overwhelm the photograph.

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I used the “Basic 09″ Effect. There are 25 effects in the basic pack that comes with the Free app, and then you can purchase additional packs in-app. I like to switch to the “Live Preview,” a selectable button at the top of the screen, to see my image with the effects. Also, I went into the “Options” menu and choose my output file size as “original” so it wouldn’t decrease my image resolution when I save.

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From there, I edited the photograph in another new app, Classic Vintage. This app allows you to apply paper textures, crackle effects, borders and sepia tone. This app provides a lot of variety and customization. The free app comes with a great beginner pack and I very quickly assessed its possibilities and purchased the additional packs. For this edit, I applied one of the Free papers at 25%:

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And one of the Montana pack borders at 100%:

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I found this app has the possibility to completely overwhelm the photograph with its effects, so playing with those percentages is important. I set Crackle and Sepia to 0%, because I just wanted some texture and the border. Here’s the final image again:

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I like the color shifts provided by the Vintango filter and how they are pulled through the frame border applied in Classic Vintage. I don’t know that I love the final image, but the starting image was not one of my favorites from the day either. That makes it a perfect image to play with. Since I didn’t have a strong feeling on it, wanting it to come out “good,” I could let myself explore and play more freely.

That’s a little creativity tip for today as well: If you find yourself stuck in a processing rut, pick something you don’t care much about, get a new app or two, and play. You never know what might happen! If nothing else, I explored the possibilities of two new apps.

This month’s mobile recipe is a simple exercise in app stacking, and here is the graphic sequence for you to download and save for future inspiration:

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Happy App-ing!

Growing Slowly

I want you to look back, for a minute. Look back at where you were in your creative journey one year ago. Five years ago. Ten years ago. Where were you? What were you doing? Could you have imagined being where you are, today, from that distance in time?

One year ago, I was still in the throes of learning mobile photography, trying to figure out how it fit in with my photography practice. This month a year ago, I was in Singapore for two weeks and the Redwoods for spring break. I was in love with trees and the freedom of mobile, but had not yet let go of my security blanket of dSLR. I still toted it along with me everywhere.

Five years ago, I was getting ready to move to Italy. I was probably just back to Oregon after a whirlwind trip finding an apartment in Italy. and in the throes of figuring out what we were going to ship to Italy vs store for the duration of the assignment. I don’t think photography was anywhere on my mind, except maybe just the occasional picture of our lives in chaos. I had no clue what the future had in store for me, creatively or otherwise. But I knew I was at the brink of an adventure.

Ten years ago, I was probably just trying to keep everything together as a mom of an almost-three-year-old little boy. It’s hard to remember that time, it seems so long ago. My spare time (what little there was) would have included lots of playing with photographs as I created scrapbooks. Photographs mostly of family and events, documenting our lives. A few artistic photographs, that I didn’t know what to do with. Photography was a growing interest, but not the primary art form for me at the time.

Could I have imagined, five or ten years ago, that I would be here today? That I would be teaching photography online and in person? That I would be exhibiting my work in galleries? That I would be a keynote speaker at a photography conference? No, I could not have imagined. One year ago, the seeds were being planted for this year’s growth, so these things were within the realm of possibility. But five, ten years ago? No clue.

It’s been a journey of long and slow growth. I think “slow” is the natural pace of artistic growth, at least for me. This is what it needs to be. There are creative growth spurts for sure, I can point to a couple of them in the last five years alone, but these are balanced out with periods of slower growth. The slower times are needed for me to integrate what I’ve learned and figure out what I’m going to do with it.

Spring Tree Blossom Oregon Kat Sloma Mobile Photography

Growth takes time, often time where it looks or feels like nothing is happening. I look at the trees blooming right now, see their amazing blossoms, and think WOW! It seems as if all of a sudden, the buds appear and the flowers burst forth. But it’s not all of a sudden, is it? The tree was working toward this, for months. All winter long, while the tree appeared quiet and still on the outside, it was working.

Artistic growth is like that, too. It’s hard to internalize, because we might not see this part when we hear about successful artists. We might see an artist with seemingly overnight success, and wonder how they got there. As I meet and talk to more and more artists, working artists who are making their living with their art, I can see that true overnight success is very rare. Most artists achieve their success through hard work, over a long period of time. Their art is growing and changing, as they are, preparing themselves for the big break, if it ever comes. They may experience a lot of rejection along the way, but they keep working, keep growing. So when an artist appears to be “discovered,” when we finally become aware of them, they have likely been working for a long time to get to that point. It only appears as if they burst forth onto the scene suddenly, like the blossoms on the tree. The work to prepare for their success was going on, behind the scenes, when no one was looking.

There is an element of luck in artistic success too, don’t get me wrong. I heard this segment on NPR which talked about why some art becomes popular while other art doesn’t. The conclusion of the study was that there is some minimum level of quality, and beyond that, there is an element of luck and crowd influence that determines which pieces of art or artists become popular or successful. That makes sense. Haven’t we all seen art that is fawned over and said, “But Sally’s work is just as good. Better even. Why is that artist so successful while Sally isn’t?” It could just be that element of timing and luck.

Now, in all of this discussion, I don’t want to imply there is one definition of success here. Fill in your own definition of success. That could be making a living as an artist, or gaining some notoriety, as is implied above, or it could simply be creating art that expresses your vision. “Success” is a personal thing. Defining what “success” really means to you is part of the growth process, too.

So what can we do, to be ready for that success, however we define it? How do we prepare, if there might be an external element of luck or timing involved? All we can do is continue to grow. Continue to do the work of becoming better at our art. Continue to take one step after another on this creative journey. Slowly, surely, moving ourselves forward. Looking out for opportunities that may arise, taking risks, and trying new things. Showing up. That’s all we can do, day by day.

Sometimes, when the growth is slow, it may feel as if nothing is happening. But it’s when we look back — one year, five years, ten years — we can see how dramatically things have changed. And we can see where our hard work made that change happen. How our effort and growth got us to where we are today, artistically or otherwise.

So let yourself grow slowly. Be the tree that is getting ready for spring. Don’t worry if the tree next to you is blossoming, bursting forth into spring, and you are not. You are still getting ready. Your time to bloom will come.

Keeping Things Straight

Well, the dust has settled and the new site is usable! It’s amazing how much better I feel, now that I’m through the transition. Please take a moment to check out the new site, especially on your mobile device! Now that the basics are done, I can start looking toward the future and adding new functionality around here.

One of the new things here at kateyestudio.com I want to share with you is the Calendar. See the “Calendar” tab there in the menu at the top of the page? Click that tab and it will take you to a Calendar of Upcoming Events for Kat Eye Studio. I’m so excited!! I have so much going on, it’s often hard to get the word out here on the blog or in the newsletter without overwhelming you with information. Now you can go look at the calendar any time and see what’s coming up. You will find places you can meet me, see my work, take workshops, or participate online.

Calendar Kat Eye Studio

There is also a list of “Upcoming Events” on the sidebar and footer, so you can keep an eye on what’s coming up! Click the links and they will take you to a page with more information.

The calendar is updated through May right now, and I already have lots to add for later in the year. Please take a moment and explore what is going on here in the studio over the next couple of months!

Under Construction

Things might be a little messy around here for the next few days! I’m moving to a new WordPress theme and we just made the transition. While I’d love this to be seamless, I’ve learned there is only so much you can do in advance on a live site. We’ve figured out the format and the basics, but then you just have to go live and then edit. There is nothing I can do at this point except work through the mess.

Construction Cone Kat Sloma Photography

So please forgive the dust! If you find pages that aren’t working, see weird things going on in the text, etc. please let me know. I’ll be working through fixing all of this over the next few days and don’t want to miss anything.

Why am I going to a new theme, you ask? When my site was set up in 2011, I chose a great theme, but it turns out it wasn’t supported through all of the WordPress updates of the last few years and things were slowly breaking. My web guy and I kept having to do workarounds to get it to look right. Not only that, it wasn’t mobile responsive, so couldn’t easily be read on smartphones and the like.

Once I get through this transition mess, I’ll have a responsive, supported site that looks good across all platforms. I just have a little bit of work to do to get there. Bear with me!