Paris, anyone?

Hey, will you by chance be in Paris today or tomorrow? Yes, I mean Paris, France.

If so, you can catch my art in Création (Photographique) Mobile, a digital exhibition being presented at L’Institut National d’Histoire de l’Art, (Paris), during the international symposium “Arts and Mobiles.”

I am very excited and honored to have been included in this curatorship. The show includes a wonderful range of creative art from mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets and even drones. I encourage you to review the selected work here.

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“From one season to another” is the piece on display. It’s really funny to me how these things sometimes happen. It’s all in the timing… I just recently created a new technique, combining apps to get this interesting painterly outline/bleed effect. I just happened on the call to artists when I was looking around for something else. I just happened to have a few minutes to send off an application.

And now my work is being shown in Paris! I am a bit floored by the whole thing.

I’ve continued to explore this technique, trying it with different types of images. You can see a few in my Flickr Photostream. I like it with these specific autumn tree images best. There is something about the beautiful color variation that is achieved, the vibrant combination of yellows, greens and reds, along with the delicate structure in the leaves which really clicks for me.

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I look at this recent work and think how far I’ve come in my art over the past few years. If my three-year-ago self ran into this piece, she wouldn’t recognize it as her own. I could not have foreseen this direction, this work. I could only experience it along the way; observe it real time.

Too bad I can’t observe it from Paris this week! :)

Popping Over to Paris

I thought I would pop over to Paris this morning. Unfortunately I can’t take an hour flight to pop over there anymore, but it’s nice that I can do it anytime in my photos! We’re “Exploring Icons” this week in A Sense of Place, so I thought I would share this image of the Eiffel Tower, one of the world’s most famous icons. Do you see it in shadow?

I have to share how much I am loving this class! It’s so much fun to get to know the participants and explore the Photography of Place – one of my favorite subjects. I love learning about myself and my photography through the creation and teaching of the course.

Sometimes I wonder why I do the things I do… Why I am compelled to add things like this course on to my already busy schedule of my corporate job, my family, my friends, my travels, my photography. But this reminds me – it’s because I love it. I absolutely love it. This is who I am, how I need to express and process and share my world. It’s an integral part of me now, and I don’t think I could shut it off if I tried.

So even though my ideas sometimes add a layer of craziness to my life, and I wonder if I’m just making my life more complicated than it needs to be, I remember my love for what I do here. I am lucky to have found this part of myself, and to have a venue to share it with all of you.

Happy Women’s Day

In Italy, the tradition on Women’s Day is to give the yellow Mimosa flower to women in your life. So today I have some Mimosa for you!

I had never heard of International Women’s Day before moving to Italy. Now, I see references to it quite a few places here in the US too. Maybe I was never aware of it before, maybe it’s come into greater prominence in the last few years. I’m not sure.

It’s an important day in a lot of ways, requiring a moment of pause. An opportunity to take a moment and reflect on the lives that we are able to lead as women in the developed world. For all of the challenges we may face, they pale in comparison to our counterparts in other places around the world. I have had so many opportunities – for education, for employment, for freedom in my relationships and life. I have practiced engineering for 20 years, a non-traditional women’s career, without serious issue with my gender. I have a voice here online, without fear of reprisal. We are lucky for the freedoms women have in our culture.

I think that’s why I resonate with the idea of what Nest does so much, helping women build a sustainable career and life for themselves and their families. Today I learned of Kiva, another microfinance organization. Through Marie Forleo, I heard about this special opportunity to give a loan to women in other countries without it costing you anything. Visit this link to see how Kiva and Dermalogica are making this possible, and you can take advantage of the opportunity to give a loan too.

If nothing else today, take a moment to reflect on the opportunities that you have had as a woman, and how lucky you are when put into perspective by other places in the world.

In the tradition of Italy, give a yellow flower to a woman who matters to you. You all matter, thank you for being here. Happy Women’s Day.

Recognize This?

Of course you do! The Eiffel Tower is one of the most recognizable icons of a place in the world. I’m working on the “Exploring Icons” lessons for my new course, A Sense of Place, and revisiting my photos of iconic images from around Europe. There are so many creative ways to explore icons, even when they are as photographed as the Eiffel Tower. It’s so much fun, I really can’t wait to share this class!

Don’t forget! Tomorrow the link up opens for February’s Photo-Heart Connection. Plan some time in the next few days to go through your photos from February and find the one that speaks to your heart. The link up will be open March 1 through 7. See you tomorrow with my Photo-Heart Connection!

Waiting for a Sale

Waiting, waiting, waiting. How much of our lives are spent waiting? What do we do with that time? Do we use it as a breather, an enjoyable respite in the day, or are we impatient? It’s so easy to view waiting as “in our way” to get to something else. What if we change our view? How would that affect our day?

Consider this gentleman, a flower vendor in Paris. Waiting for a sale. Here at the edge of the market, customers peruse his wares and he waits. What ultimate patience he must have, to sit quietly and watch. All day, every day. Let people decide, on their own time scale and terms, if they want to buy anything. There is something we can learn from this gentleman who seems to have mastered waiting.

This is definitely one of the more “busy” of my new Market/Wheels images. There is so much going on in this picture, between the flower booth, the bike and the background. But there is this island of calm, the vendor who waits, that draws me in.

Tomorrow I will share the last of my new Market/Wheels images, and turn the tables to you to get your opinions on which I should include in the exhibition. It will be fun to hear what you have to say, and I have a great giveaway to go along with it too! See you then.

Exploring with a Camera: Rimmed with Light

Earlier this year, as I visited art museums in Madrid, I found myself drawn to paintings with two features: Interesting skies and rim light. When that happens, it’s usually only a matter of time before these elements start showing up in my photography. We’ve already covered the sky as an Exploring with a Camera topic in Capture the Sky, so today we’re going to complete my Madrid fascination and talk about subjects Rimmed with Light.

If a subject is rimmed with light, you get an effect of glowing edges of light outlining your subject. Rim lighting is a form of backlighting, but with the light source off to the side. In my recent study I’ve found it takes some specific conditions to capture rim light:

  1. Directional light. If there is even light, you won’t have the strong light/dark contrast needed for rim light. You need directional light in order to get a strong contrast in light and shadow. The directional light doesn’t have to be direct sunlight, it can be a lamp or a window in an otherwise unlit room. 
  2. Angle of light source, subject and camera is important. To get rim light, the light source should be behind the subject but off at an angle. Low light works best, such as the sun in morning and evening, but is not always required. If the light is directly behind the subject, you will get a silhouette. If the light source is behind and only slightly off to the side of the subject, you can get rim light but you are at risk of lens flare (which you may or may not want). If the light is completely to the side of the subject, you get sidelight and will not have the “rim” effect. 
  3. Contrasting Background. What’s behind your subject matters, you need some contrast to really get the rim light to show brilliantly. The darker the background, the better the rim light will show up. A background in shadow works very well, as does converting images to black and white to highlight the get the tonal values and avoid color distractions.
  4. Exposure. The exposure you choose will effect how the rim light shows up and can significantly change the focal point of the image. For dramatic contrast with focus on the rim light, expose for the rim light with subject underexposed. To bring out more detail in the subject, overexpose the rim light.  
I created this small diagram to clarify the requirements visually. The angle of light/subject/camera in this diagram is not scientifically determined (just to warn any of you engineers out there) it’s just to give an idea to help you visualize the scenario that gives you rim light. This is a top view: 
But, a picture is worth a thousand words, right? Let’s look at some images…
This image of Stevie, my cat, is exposed to show the details highlighted by the rim light. I had all of the elements I needed to capture an image rimmed with light: sunlight coming through a window on the right, and a background in shadow. I put myself on the same level as the subject, and moved around left to right to experiment with the background that would give the best contrast while not losing the rim light. You can see how the light coming in the window curtains behind dramatically drops off and creates a dark background to contrast with the rim light. Converting this image to black and white helps keep the focus on the light and dark contrast and not the brightly colored blanket under Stevie.
This was one time that Stevie actually cooperated and sat still long enough for me to capture multiple images and study the lighting situation. Below are a couple of images straight out of the camera to show you the effect of exposure. In the first image, the exposure is set for the rim light, and Stevie’s face is very underexposed. There is not enough rim light to highlight the full outline of his head, and he gets lost in the background.
1/64, f/4, 80mm, ISO400
In this next image, the exposure is set to get more detail in Stevie’s face. I like this one with the detail better but the color of the blanket reflecting in his face is distracting to me. In my editing I would convert this to black and white to resolve that problem.

1/15, f/4, 80mm, ISO400
In studying rim light, it is good to move yourself around relative to the subject in order to see when the rim light appears/disappears and how it contrasts with the background. It is hard to do this type of study with moving subjects, so I’ve found statues can be a great way to learn. 
I loved how the sculpture below, in the garden of the Rodin museum in Paris, is outlined with light. The hedge and trees behind created a good contrasting background that allows the rim light to stand out. It helps that the subject is a dark color, to further create contrast with the rim light. In this image, there is not only rim light created by the sunlight on the right, there is also sidelight in the reflected light coming from the pavement on the left. This light is more diffuse and serves to highlight the details in the statue subtly, without competing with the outline created by the rim light. 
Another Rodin sculpture, the image below is indoors at the same museum. This was shot by looking toward a corner of a room. There is a window on the right wall, facing the direction of sunlight, and a window on the left wall, in the shade. Even though the sun is not shining directly on this statue through the window, you can see the effect of the directional light in creating rim light on the right, while the light is more diffused from the left and highlights more detail. The background is not dark, but there enough contrast for the rim light. Converting to black and white helped remove some color distraction of the background wall paneling. 
One final sculpture image shows that the light does not always need to be low in the sky, it just needs to be directional and at an angle. For the image below, it was near noon and the sun was high in the sky, but since the buildings blocked most of the direct light, only one shaft fell on the statue in the Loggia in Florence and created the rim light.  
Shafts of sunlight are great for creating rim light. This self portrait I captured in Venice is a good example of how a shaft of light can be used, along with the contrast of the other areas in shadow, to capture some rim light. 
Hair, fur, etc. all seem to be great subjects for using rim light, since so many individual details can be highlighted by the light. They can also be difficult to capture, since subjects with hair and fur are usually in motion! This image of my son is from early in the morning in Florence looking at the Baptistry doors, next to the Duomo. I loved how the individual hairs on his head were outlined along with the features of his face.You might notice the flare, I was looking a bit more into the sun than was desired. Moving slightly to the right might have eliminated the flare, while still keeping the rim light. I will never know for sure though, because my son wasn’t interested in keeping still that long for me to study him in this light. Again, I converted this image to black and white to highlight the light/dark tones and avoid color distractions from my son’s clothing.

Having all of the elements required to capture rim light can be challenging, especially with moving subjects.  It is completely worth the challenges, however, when you see the end result of a subject beautifully outlined with light. I’m still on my quest for images with rim light, and now that I’ve learned a bit more about how to capture them it will be easier to see when the conditions are right.

How about you? Have you been able to capture subjects rimmed with light? Look through your archive or go out seeking the rim light, and share your images here with us. You can link in below or add your images to the Flickr pool, or both. If you have any other tips for capturing subjects outlined in light, share those too! I look forward to learning from you.