Ready, Set… Write!

Most of the leaves are still green but autumn is definitely in the air. It’s chilly on my morning hikes and I’ve put a warmer blanket on the bed. My son is back to school and our schedule is governed by routine. It’s time to settle into “to do” lists, homework and long term projects.

For me, that means writing a book. Yes, a real printed book. One published by a publisher, with a contract and a deadline, sold on Amazon and all of that. I’m writing a book on iPhone photography for Amherst Media, to come out in winter 2015/2016. I can hardly believe it.

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I’ve had a growing dream of writing a real book for a while, after getting feedback on my blog and from my eCourse students telling me they appreciate how I put things into words. I started to think, Hey, maybe I could really do this. Between my blog, my eCourses and the Digital Photography Basics eBook, I’ve already written a lot. How much harder could a book be?

But acting on the idea of writing a book hadn’t been a priority for me. I was busy with making art and getting ready for Art Fairs and teaching locally. Someday, maybe, I would write a book. When I had the time. When I had the right idea. You know, someday.

That all changed with the crazy publicity that came out of the newspaper article before the Salem Art Fair. The president of Amherst Media contacted me about writing a how-to book on iPhone photography. How do you say no to that? You don’t. Especially if you had this dream of writing a book someday. In the course of a few weeks we had worked through the options and the details and now it’s a done deal — I’m writing a book. Deadline March 1, 2015.

You know what the biggest challenge is going to be? It’s not going to finding time. It’s not going to be thinking of what to write.

As I’ve gotten started, I’ve realized the most challenging thing is going to be fitting everything I have to say in to the space I have available. Turns out, two years of developing techniques plus a year of teaching classes plus a lot of passion for the subject means I have a whole lot to write about. My theory right now is to just let it flow and cut it back later. That seems like a better situation than stretching to find something to write.

Some of you might remember that iPhone photography eCourse I was going to create someday. Well, it’s not going to be an eCourse anymore. It will be a real, honest-to-goodness, printed book.

Someday has turned into today. I’d better get writing.


If you don’t want to wait more than a year to learn about IPhone photography from me, I have a couple of workshops coming up…

Intro to Mobile Photography is on September 20 from 1-4pm at The Arts Center in Corvallis, OR. In this short course, I teach you how to get a great photograph with your mobile device, iOS or Android, and get you started with basic editing. Everyone is amazed at how much they learn in such a short time! Cost is $40, and you can register here.

Smartphone Art 1 & 2 will be on October 11 & 12, from 10-5 both days, at Sequoia Gallery + Studios in Hillsboro, OR. On Day 1, I cover the basics of the Intro course, plus teach you about many more apps and introduce blending, bringing you into the kind of creative editing techniques I use. On Day 2, I’ll be sharing advanced techniques for creative blending, creating your own backgrounds and textures, and of course, teach you more must-have apps. This course series covers iOS only. You can register just for Day 1 or both days to make it a weekend workshop. Cost is $95 per day and you can register here.

Life Lessons from a Dog

It’s no secret to pet lovers that our furry family members can teach us a lot. I don’t think any of my pets have taught me quite as much as our current dog, Zoey.

Zoey is a six-year-old Golden Retriever/Australian Shepherd mix we adopted a year and a half ago. Personality-wise, she’s more Australian Shepherd than Golden Retriever, with tons of smarts and energy. She’s been my faithful companion while hiking the last two summers, and she often accidentally ends up in my the photographs I’m trying to take on the trail.

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On a recent hike, as I was watching Zoey bound joyfully through a meadow, I started thinking about how her approach to life could really be distilled down into a few lessons that her humans could do with learning too. Let’s see if what Zoey has taught me can apply to you too…

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1. Every stick is the perfect stick

If Zoey sees a stick, no matter how big the stick, she picks it up and brings it to us to play fetch. She’s hauled sticks that are downright logs to our feet. She doesn’t have any limitations on the size of the stick she fetches with. She doesn’t skip a game of fetch because the stick is a little bit too small, or too big, waiting for the one that is just right.

Do you limit yourself, waiting for the perfect stick? Have you ever said, “When I get that stick, everything will be perfect and I’ll be happy to play fetch.” The perfect stick — having more money, losing weight, finding more time, that future moment — is never going to be out there. So pick up the stick that is there, and start playing fetch.

2. Ask for help

When Zoey knocks her ball under the couch, she comes and asks us for help. She knows she can’t do it by herself, so she won’t let us alone until she leads us to the problem and gets it resolved. With her limited communication skills, she is able to come to us, convey what she needs and get help.

How often, with all of the communication skills we have available to you, do you sit back and *hope* that someone will read your mind and figure out what you want? Do you ever hope that someone will see you struggling, and offer the perfect solution? You aren’t expected to do everything by yourself, and neither can you expect people to read your mind. Know where you need help, and be willing to ask for it. It’s amazing how often you get the help you need when you do.

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3. Follow your interest

Zoey is aware of her surroundings and if something interesting catches her interest, she follows it. She might stop suddenly to sniff an interesting smell, or chase a squirrel up a tree. She is ready, alert, and there is nothing more important in that moment than what she is focused on. She experiences everything fully.

Do you know where your interest lies? Do you follow your heart when it tells you to go in a certain direction? Or do you say, “Not now, I’m busy, I’ll do that later,” only to get to later and realize things have changed; the moment is lost. Notice your interest. Be willing to change course and investigate things as they come along.

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4. Always move forward

When we were at the shelter deciding to adopt Zoey, we read through the paperwork left by her previous owners. They said she was not a good traveler; she was anxious in the car. After driving with her a few times I realized she wasn’t anxious at all about being in the car or driving around. The only time she whined was when we were at a stoplight. She wanted to be moving forward.

She’s the same on the trail. She’ll stop and sniff around or chase the squirrel, but when I get past her and she realizes I’m moving ahead and she’s not, she’ll catch up and race on by. She always wants to be moving forward.

Do you ever get stuck? Maybe you followed your interest, but it ended up going nowhere. Maybe you are focused on something that happened a long time ago, and can’t get past it. You don’t get anywhere new by being stopped. There is always something else, something new, something different, up the trail or beyond the stoplight. Keep moving forward.

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5. Try anything and do it with reckless enthusiasm

We have a nickname for Zoey: Gung Ho Zoe. Everything she does, she does with abandon. She does not hold anything back; she does not fear. If she sees something she wants to do, she dives right in. At the kennel where she stays when we are on vacation, one of the workers commented, “She is so willing.” It’s the perfect description. She’s willing to try anything. It might be a disaster, like the time she tried to chase some ducks across an icy half-frozen pond, but she doesn’t worry about little details of what might happen. She survived the plunge into icy water, no ducks were harmed in the process, and we had a good laugh after all was said and done. That’s our Gung Ho Zoe.

Do you ever find yourself standing at the edge of something, debating about diving in? It’s pretty easy to get wrapped up in thinking, or overthinking, about whether or not to do something new. Guess what, we are never going to succeed at 100% of the things we try, but we will succeed at nothing if we don’t try at all. Usually whatever we are worried about doing is a lot less harmful to us than diving into a pond of icy water might be. Why not try a lot of things? Dive right in and see what happens? At the very worst, you will have learned something. Maybe even gotten a laugh or two out of it. And at best? You might find something amazing is waiting for you.

I have been very lucky to have this crazy, energetic and sometimes overwhelming dog come into my life. I hope you can learn some life lessons from her too.

Photo-Heart Connection: August 2014

Love Forest. Forest Love. Whichever way I write it, it’s true.

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I don’t know exactly where my love of the forest comes from. I don’t know when it formed. Maybe it was as a child, camping in the Colorado woods and going off with my Dad in the wee hours of the morning to find a good spot to fish for trout. Maybe it was in my mid-twenties, when the first home we owned was right up next to an 85-acre wooded park in Colorado Springs, a respite from all things suburban around me. Maybe it was moving to Oregon in my thirties, and discovering primeval-seeming forests with towering trees, that made me feel like I was a tiny blip on the historic radar.

It’s hard to think of a time when the forest didn’t play some role as backdrop to events in my life. But it’s recent, the last two years or so, that the forest moved from backdrop in key memories to a primary character of its own. The forest has become a staunch friend, a confidante. It is always there for me, ready to receive me, however I come to it. It teaches me, in its quiet way.

The tall trees remind me that there is more to life than my little worries. They remind me to stand straight, grow roots, take nourishment. When I do, it takes more than a single storm to knock me down.

The forest reminds me that it is an ecosystem. No one part can exist without the whole. I too, am part of the system. One small part of a whole. I need to rely on those around me, help those around me, as part of the system of human connection.

There is so much more I can say about my complex relationship with the forest, but I won’t. I will cut it short. Because this image reminds me it’s been five days since I’ve been in the forest. Five days since I’ve enjoyed the scent and the quiet and the feel of being part of something greater, bigger, older than me. Five days is too long, anymore. So I’m going to go now, and visit my forest.

Love Forest. Forest Love.


I’ve photographed this heart carved into the tree along the Mulkey Creek Trail so many times, it’s not surprising it would eventually become my Photo-Heart Connection. I know it’s awful, someone defacing a tree like this. But I can’t help but love it anyway, because it seems to encapsulate my feelings about the forest so well. It’s a simple symbol in a simple place, but it brings such deep feelings of connection to me. I’m not kidding about getting out and hiking now. I’m going to wrap up this post and enjoy Labor Day morning on the trail. :)

What have you found as your Photo-Heart Connection this month? What image or art did you create this month that calls to your soul? What does it have to tell you? Go through your images from August and find the one that calls to your heart. Write about it and learn from it. Share the results with us here.


Let’s Talk Mobile Photography

When you are in the middle of something, you don’t always notice how it looks from the outside. I have to keep reminding myself of this fact, as I talk to people about the possibilities of mobile photography in conjunction with the Expanding Vision exhibition. Most people don’t know that you can make art with a smartphone. Most people don’t realize that they have this amazing creative device in their pockets. We get so wrapped up in our little world, talking and working with others doing the same thing, that we forget that most people don’t know what we are doing in this mobile phtoography world.

And so it’s fun, really fun, to get to be part of showing them.

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Yesterday I was interviewed by the Corvallis Gazette-Times newspaper as part of a story on the exhibition and mobile photography. I got to talk about my experience with mobile photography, how the idea for the exhibition came about and what I learned from my view from the “inside” of an exhibition. Even though almost none of that was part of it in the end, it was a fun experience and a very nice article! You can read it here.

Oregon Art Beat also came to Corvallis to film a piece on the exhibition. Unfortunately I didn’t get to meet them – I couldn’t get away from my day job – but I look forward to seeing the piece. I’ll post that link when it’s available, too.

AND… we’ve added another date for the Intro to Mobile Photography workshop in conjunction with the exhibition. It will be on Saturday, September 20 and registration is here. The first class was last Saturday and I had 12 lovely participants, who are all taking the excitement for mobile photography back home with them! This three-hour class is a great way to get started playing around with your mobile device camera.

Finally, today is the Brown Bag Art Talk for the Expanding Vision exhibition at The Arts Center, 700 SW Madison in Corvallis. I’ll be there! Come and talk mobile photography with a number of the artists in the show. It should be fun!

Morning’s Gift: A Mobile Tutorial

In the past, summer has not been my favorite tree season. It seemed all the good stuff, those amazing lines, were covered by leaves. So I ignored the trees for the summer and played with other subjects.

This year, I challenged myself to create some summer Treescapes. Could I get to a similar style and feel with blue skies and trees with leaves? After playing around with them for several weeks, I’m figuring it out.

I’ve discovered that in the summer, the Treescapes are more about the light and the leaves than the lines. Maybe that was the key.

This image, Morning’s Gift, is a good example of what I mean. There is that gorgeous morning light, coming through and illuminating the leaves. There is the feeling that the sky is just lightening, the day is just beginning, and it’s going to be a good one. That’s what I wanted to highlight. Let’s go through how I achieved this result.

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Starting with this image, from an early morning walk:

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I wanted to shift the color a bit, so I pulled it into Mextures, an app I’ve had for a while that I recently rediscovered. They have added lots of new effects! Not only does it have good effects, it’s highly customizable. You can control the amount of the effect, rotate it, change the blending mode and then add more layers. Fun! Leaving the app the image had two Radiance filters and a Grunge texture applied:

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Now that I had some nice color shifts going, I wanted to mess it up a bit with an artistic filter. I used the “Benson” effect in Autopainter, one of my go-to effects:

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As I started to blend this version back with the original, I found it was getting too dark. I was losing the light. So I pulled the original into Snapseed and lightened it a bit:

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And then blended with the Autopainter output, in Image Blender:

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It’s getting there! But I wanted mor depth, and depth often comes with more layers. I started playing with it in Distressed FX, and found I liked how this filter warmed it up:

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This version and the previous version were blended again in Image Blender:

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I’m liking the color, the depth and the way the light comes through at this point. There’s just one tiny problem, some distracting leaves along the top edge. So, back into Snapseed for a little crop:

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And it’s done!

You see what I mean about Summer Treescapes? They are all about the light and the leaves. That was the key.

Expanding Vision Reception is Today!

After a year in the works, Expanding Vision: The Contribution of Mobile Photography, the exhibition I proposed and helped jury, is opening in the main gallery of The Arts Center with a reception tonight. Join us from 5:30 to 7:30 for some art and light refreshments.

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I’m so excited for a gallery full of people, seeing this work, and talking about mobile photography. I look forward to meeting some of the participating artists who are exploring this branch of photography I love so much.

The exhibition contains everything from straight, unedited photographs, to highly edited abstract works. If you can’t attend the exhibition, you can view the show virtually via the slide show here.

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It’s been a great experience for me, to see how an exhibition happens from the inside out. I’ll write more about my experiences there later.

For now, I’m going to enjoy the interactions at the reception and the art on the wall. And I’m going to take this moment and seal this lesson into my memory: Our ideas, big or small, can become something real, when we put them out into the world and act on them.

I hope to see you at the Expanding Vision reception tonight.