Sunday, October 19, 2014

Fall is coming to an end...

...I feel as though I'm girding my loins for the challenging battle with winter to come. Rumour has it that we can expect a tough one this year.

The roof is done, at least that part that I'm doing this year. The chimney mortar still needs pointing, we're waiting for a dry spell, cement bags and tools sitting at the ready. The sump pump line needs attention: maybe we can prevent it from freezing up this year. Outdoor furniture is stored and covered, the top of the gazebo's hanging in the garage, I made space for the ATV and the car, the 4-wheeler's been tuned and ready for the snowplow to be mounted. 

Firewood is stacked and I have a bunch of kindling split and ready to go; I bought 50 pounds of birdseed and the overhanging branches have been trimmed, ready for the weight of snow to come. I'm making an appointment next week to have the snow tires installed.

It's coming...

My neighbours are running around with leaf blowers. I get a real kick out of that: seeing them wake up the next day to a whole new crop of fallen leaves! Can you say "Sisyphus"?

I have prepared this image as a desktop background picture (wallpaper).
You can download the standard width version here:
and the widescreen version
Let me know if you want a different one. Enjoy.

I don't have any of these. My property is framed on three sides by pine trees – 37 of them at last count, all mature and sky high (I wish I'd planted some red maples and other deciduous at the back of the property 7 years ago when I bought the place. They'd be adolescents by now). What I have is a carpet of pine needles, anyone who thinks "evergreens" don't shed in the fall doesn't live here! 

A neighbour once complained that I should rake up all those needles. He said it was preventing the grass from growing well. "Good," I said, "that means I don't have to mow it"! I live in the country, folks. 

If you go out in the Woods today...

I feel a little as if I'm making an AA speech here: "it's been a whole week since I took any pictures". Literally. From the 11th to the 18th. So I took the ATV up in the woods yesterday. I have a number of places where I like to sit and let my mind float (I don't want to use the 'meditate' word or the "Zen" thing, I'd have to research what they mean so I'd be using them properly). That's one of the places. 

It changes constantly. Look back a couple of posts to see that picture Cheryl took of me on my ATV, or here's another one we took that day, three short weeks ago.

The ATV trail ends at a dirt road called "Surf Trail". This is down near the end of it. 

This is what it looked like in the woods yesterday:

It was overcast and in fact drizzling a little. That adds saturation to the colours. HDR with added brushstrokes added via Topaz Impression, van Gogh 1 preset. 

Eat your hearts out, city dwellers.

New Fall Banner

I change it every couple of months and post it here in the blog as well for those who can't see the header on an RSS feed or mobile device and as a record because the old one disappears when you change it.

Topaz Clarity on Sale!

Topaz Labs makes my go-to set of plug-ins for Lightroom and Photoshop. The other set I use are from Nik (Google): I rely on Nik HDR Efex Pro 2 when I'm working with HDR's, and on Nik's Silver Efex Pro 2 to do black-and-white conversions, the others less frequently.
What are plug-ins, by the way? They're 'preset' programs that change a bunch of Photoshop (or ACR or Lightroom) settings to achieve certain effects in a professional manner. Things that you might spend hours slaving over are suddenly available with a single click. They don't actually do anything you couldn't do yourself, but wouldn't want to! For example, creating an HDR merge manually to match HDR Efex Pro would likely take you 8 or 10 hours of work, things that the plug-in can do in one click.

But Topaz keeps coming up with winners, their latest is "Impression" which addresses the frustrated paint media artist in me (one day I'll actually pick up a brush!). I use many of the modules in their complete bundle regularly too. Some are less useful to me, some address specific problems (like DeNoise) and some should be used on almost every picture if you're trying to prepare a final image. Clarity is one of those.

Here's their words:

There are a lot of ways to increase depth and definition in a photo, but many methods will leave you with unnatural-looking contrast. The intelligent technology behind Clarity allows you to enhance contrast without over-emphasizing transitions between light and dark areas. This unique approach essentially eliminates the common problem of halos, noise, and artifacts.
Using the adjustment sliders, you can easily strengthen an image’s levels of micro, midrange, and overall contrast. You can even do this selectively by taking advantage of the masking module. With Topaz Clarity, your images will never lack visual impact!
This plug-in makes the Clarity slider in Lightroom or ACR look mickey-mouse. But don't take my word for it, download the free trial and try it for yourself, you'll get hooked like I am. Here's the link, and enter "octclarity" in the coupon code field. You can also get a 15% discount on any one of their other products including the complete Topaz bundle by entering "faczen" in the code field. 

My New Book is out!

Those who know me know that I'm not a "multi-tasker". My style is to cogitate and procrastinate and then finally dive into a project with both feet, working at it pretty well single-mindedly until either it's done or I abandon it. That's not always a good thing: I have lots of started projects where I've gotten stuck and set them aside, hoping that my mindset and time available will let me eventually get back to them.

My Blurb "Best of 2013" book is one of those. It's almost the end of 2014 and it wasn't done yet. I made a few abortive tries earlier, being really fussy about layouts, etc., and wanting to do it with Adobe InDesign, but that got really tedious and finally I started over using Blurb's proprietary software, BookSmart. And finally it's done.

Yesterday I uploaded the book to Blurb for publication. I also had them make a PDF version of it because the cost of the hard copy book is high, it's about $1 per page. So the 104 page book is over $100 to print.

The description is as follows:

This 104 page full sized coffee table book contains a selection of the sporadic musings and compelling images of Glenn Springer, a published photojournalist and author and artist located in the Haliburton Highlands of Ontario, Canada. The images were all created in 2013 and reflect the artist's growth in that period. Many of the images are also available directly from the author as limited edition exhibition quality prints.

I ordered a couple of copies only because of the cost, and because I wanted to at least proof one before ordering more; I think the only people who might buy a copy of this book are future historians who want to say "I knew him when..." and who want to trace my development as an artist, those who are so impressed with my art that they need to have it in their collections, corporate, medical and personal clients who know that a book of this quality will add prestige to their coffee tables and waiting rooms, and close friends and family.

If you fit in any of those categories, don't be shy: the book is available for purchase through Blurb at the preview link below. It's printed on high quality premium matte paper and it's a full 11x14 hard cover book.

You can see a preview by clicking this link. It shows about 15 of the page spreads, my real "Best of..."! (be sure to click the "view fullscreen" icon at lower right below the image. Blurb does a good job of emulating the book, albeit at less-than-perfect resolution). I hope you will have a look. If you're a photographer or other artist or writer, it may give you some great ideas to do your own book. 

By the way, they have a deal running until the end of October for Canadian and Australian customers: by entering the code "CANADA25" or "AUSTRALIA25" you get a 25% discount on your order with them (and when books are as much as $100, that adds up!). Here's the link (yes, it includes an affiliate code for me...). By the way, they make less expensive products as well but I opted for the full-sized high quality coffee-table book.

PS: I have about 30 hours in the book, in addition to the actual photo editing, of course. Dr. Ron tells me he puts a book together in an evening, I don't know how! Maybe if I didn't customize every one of the 104 pages... I almost never use their preset layouts.

Winter Workshop

I don't want to say too much too soon, but  we're planning a massive winter workshop retreat up here in the Highlands on the weekend of February 28 - March 2, 2015. We have a fantastic facility lined up, with accommodations for up to 200 people (Gawd, we don't expect that many!!!), we're working on some really talented seminar and workshop leaders and we're talking to the Man Upstairs to arrange for some appropriate weather so we can do a bunch of outdoor as well as indoor sessions! (I personally hope we get some crystal clear nights for star shoots, although the moon is waxing gibbous that weekend).

February 28 – March 2, 2015

So watch this space for updates. And mark your calendars for that weekend, it's shaping up to be a great opportunity to build your photo skills and get away from the city for a weekend! Interested in presenting or running a workshop? Contact me.

Guest Photo

This image was made by Katherine Staynor in Newfoundland. She took my DSLR course last summer. I loved it so much, I asked her if I could post it here. She calls it, "The Three Amigos". Wonderful shot, Katherine, and thanks!

One more closing image for your enjoyment. Not much different from the earlier fall shot in the woods, a little different treatment, but somehow I wanted to share this composition as well.

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