Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Tad Robinson ... on the verge
of releasing another new CD

On Saturday, Feb. 13, blues singer and harp player Tad Robinson performed along with keyboardist Kevin Anker at Eddy's Neighborhood Bar & Grill at Geist Reservoir on the Northeastside of Indianapolis.

Robinson, who this Friday begins a 10-day tour of Norway, will be throwing a party to mark the release of his new CD, "Back in Style" (on the Severn Records label), at the Jazz Kitchen in Broad Ripple on April 23. Before the Jazz Kitchen party, he'll be back in Indiana -- which he makes his home -- and play several times at Daddy Jack's and a few other places, including a March 18 date at the storied Slippery Noodle Inn, Indianapolis' premier blues venue.

Robinson's previous release, the 2007 "A New Point of View" (also on Severn Records), reached as high as #2 on the Living Blues charts in April and May of 2007 and finished the year ranked by Living Blues as the No. 11 blues album of the year. He is a multi-time recording artist and multi-time blues genre award nominee, including two 2005-06 nominations for the coveted W.C. Handy Blues Awards for album of the year ("Did You Ever Wonder") and male soul/blues vocalist of the year. If you weren't aware, the Handys are the premier annual awards of the genre.

He welcomed the opportunity to be photographed for the show at Eddy's, and this post includes a few images from the performance. A personal aside: I do believe he deserved better than the very tiny floor-level corner flanked by flat-screen TVs (both of which were on and showing the Olympics during the show) that Eddy's gave him for his set-up, but as the good-natured musician explained when asked about that, "Hey, it's a gig!"

Available lighting was abysmal; I tried three "fast" lenses -- two 2.8s and a 50mm 1.8 -- and still had to push the ISO to 6400. The featured image at top was shot with the "Nifty-Fifty" 1.8; the top three below were taken with my Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8; the four closeups at the bottom with the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS. The IS came in handy; I pushed the shutter to 1/40 on a couple occasions.

To view a gallery of images from Robinson's show at Eddy's, follow this link to my online gallery: Tad Robinson.

Friday, February 12, 2010

PP's Photographer in the Spotlight:

Rose Richard

Rose Richard traveled an indirect route to photography. While she took pictures frequently most of her life, it wasn't until after retiring from her career in nursing that the wheels toward pursuing photography more earnestly -- and seriously -- started to turn. As she explains at her Web site, after retirement, she needed something to do as "therapy" and decided to start planting trees and gardens on her 11 acres in Hendricks County (just west of Indianapolis). She used the camera to record her green-thumb progress, which soon got her into paying close attention to texture, color, light, shadows and other detail in her images.

She counts florals and pastorals among her images but has expanded to other areas, including insects, cars, landscapes and montages.

Meanwhile, the backyard acreage at her home has been certified as a Backyard Wildlife Habitat and Monarch Way Station. "We are trying to be good stewards of this piece of earth that we have the privilege of living on," Rose says at her site. "I am trying to offset my carbon footprint. My photography and artwork are secondary and a result of this effort."

Rose is involved with the Hendricks County Arts Council, the Hendricks County Master Gardeners, and Indy Mopar Club; is a board member and past president of the Indiana Arts Council; and is manager of Gallery on the Square in Danville.

Before shuttling away to Florida for a spell this winter, she agreed to talk to us about her photography.

Rose, I usually start my interviews by asking all photographers when and how they got into photography. I'm particularly struck by your story, which I know a little bit about from visiting your Web site. But I'd really enjoy you telling everyone about it.

My Mom has always had cameras and taking pictures, so I grew up with that mindset. I was a child, and it was just part of growing up. Taking the camera outside, capturing events, gatherings, vacations, pets, and just us doing silly stuff. We have boxes and boxes of photos of the family.

I am a registered nurse by education and worked the most part of 28 years in nursing. My path in nursing lead me to working in long-term care as a director of nursing for the past 10 years of my nursing career. Lots of good stuff, but lots of stress, too. A viral infection wiped out my thyroid and left me with fibromyalgia. I also have degenerative disc disease and arthritis in my back, so despite trying to go back to work, I just had to give it up. It was a life altering event.

We bought our 11 acres when the kids (I have two, a daughter, 29, and son, 27) were 8 and 10. We wanted to have space to ride dirt bikes, four wheelers, etc. We have a dirt track in the back yard that the “boys” play on in cars that are affectionately called “field cars”: When they are done, they are hauled off on a trailer for junk.

I couldn’t work and really was trying to decide what I was going to do with the rest of my life since I was only 44 when I got sick. As therapy, I built a flower bed as a marker to our property as the house sits off the road. I put an antique (rusted) tractor that I bought from an uncle’s auction in that bed. We had a barn that was an animal shed and was in pretty sore shape. My husband was going to tear it down, but when he got all the siding off, and it was just the posts and roof, I had a vision, and it became our own shelter house. It now has a cement floor, lights, electricity and water. We have had some really good gatherings out there. But in the process we also tore out a lot of dirt around it, so I planted more gardens, and it just started expanding as I gathered in more grass into beds of plants. When we moved to the place, you didn’t hear birds at all, there were very few trees. I decided to order some trees from the Department of Forestry and was late with my order and way past the lottery fill, so I didn’t expect them to be able to fill my whole order of 800 trees. Guess what? In March, UPS delivered them all. It took about three months to plant them, but all in all we have planted more than 1,000 trees on the property.

As I planted, my way of documenting what things looked like was through my camera. This is about the time I got the point-and-shoot camera. But the images were really good, and I learned how to use the macro function and started really seeing a lot more than just plants. I was really slowed down enough to watch what was going on as the birds and critters began to call us home. I could sit and observe and then watch the light change, and I was getting all this on the camera. I was reading photography magazines and kept seeing Photoshop as the editor of choice. I gasped at $600 and then found Photoshop Elements.

I wanted to buy the 300 millimeter zoom lens and the flash. My husband told me I would have to earn some money to pay for it, so I started my business. It would have been so much cheaper if he had bought the equipment instead of all the gear to do art fairs, etc. I had time to really study what Photoshop Elements can do and with the images I was collecting and what I was learning. I was creating my art.

How much of your career did you spend shooting in film ... and how difficult or easy was it for you to make the transition into digital?

My art really started after switching to digital. The transition was pretty easy. I just had to learn a whole new language and camera settings. Again, I had time to study, so I was able to get it and practice, and the lovely thing about digital is you can practice and practice and delete and not have the expense of printing to see how it comes out. I was able to speed my skills up considerably.

I see from some of the information at your gallery site that you use an Olympus camera body. Have you always shot with Olympus? Was it your first camera? Do you have a real favorite lens?

I can’t remember what my first camera was. I entered the world of SLRs when my children were babies. That was a Minolta. I have owned two film Minolta SLRs. When digital started, I resisted, but finally bought an Olympus point-and-shoot. My choice to purchase an Olympus digital SLR was based a lot on economics. The camera came with two lenses. The 14-45mm and the 40-150mm. But I love it and think it does as good a job as the “other two” I have added -- the 70-300mm lens and the FL-50 flash. I don’t know that I have a real favorite lens. I shoot with all of them and switch them often. One of my favorite accessories is a set of Eyetech rings to add to my lenses for my really close macro shots. I love them. I bought them off of eBay, and they were not expensive.

A lot of images of yours that I see at your gallery reflect the use of bevels, shadows and geometric shapes (e.g., ovals), which you also discuss briefly at your gallery site. Do you try to apply these to many of your photos, or have you reached the point now where you known pretty instinctively which ones will be good candidates?

I can go outside and walk with my camera and take 80 to 100 photos in two to three. When I download them to the computer and look at them, I then can pretty much find and know what photos are going to be worked on further and which ones I’m just going to leave alone and let stand on their own. The rest just go on the external hard drive as my negatives.

How much work is involved finding the right "fit" to integrate bevels, shadows and montages with your images? I know you have several "takes" on the same image in your galleries, so I presume that often you come across more than one that you feel works. Is it difficult to restrict yourself to just one "look" on a photo?

It depends on the photo. It depends on what strikes me as the focus, what I see in the photo, what inspires me. Sometimes it is a way of bringing the focal point out and eliminating the background in a more artistic way than just depth of field. Sometimes my subjects take on different forms from different directions. Since they are always there, I can capture them through the seasons so they come up in different situations. As for one look, a photo can take on a whole new feel with a different look. I try not to “mass produce” though; that would defeat the purpose of creative expression.

In the case of the "indigo bunting" (above), on which you applied an oval "frame" around the bird while the rest of the image appears to reflect a very shallow depth of field ... how much of that reflected the way the image was actually taken, and in the case of the depth of field, how much involved the use of post-processing applications to put that portion of the images out of focus?

The depth of field is the actual image as it was taken. The square is beveled, and the oval is a second copy using the cookie cutter and oval choice. Then that is also beveled and a bit of shadow applied. I also put an outer glow to set the bird apart from the background. The outer loop frame is accented with the clear wow plastic effect on the selection.

Another image that grabbed my attention is the "grasshopper," where the insect is distinguished by a lightened oval frame while the whole rest of the frame is darkened. Can you talk about how you put together that?

It is a lighting effect under the filters. It is a single spotlight, and I just manipulated the size and direction to get the maximum effect. Doesn’t he look like he is smiling at me? I took that photo through my dining room window. I use my house as a blind and feed the birds and plant what they will come close to eat.

In several other cases, it appears you melded two or more images to form one. I'm thinking about the "Roadrunner through fire" and "night fire."Can you discuss/explain how you handled the compositions of those final frames?

You are right; both are composed of more than one image. The hot-air balloons were doing a night glow at the Hendricks County Fair, and I asked how close I could be to take photos. Obviously, I got really close and could really feel that heat. I took lots of shots of the fire from the burner while the balloon was on its side and when it was standing up. I also was taking photos of the other balloons in their process. “night fire” (right) is a composition of a photo of the balloon in the back while it was fired up then the side fire is overlaid on top of the back. I actually used the eraser tool to erase most of the photo leaving the fire, rope and the opening visible. I also reduced the opacity a little.

“Roadrunner through fire” is a photo of our car extracted from one photo and sandwiched between one of the fire photos from the hot-air balloon shoot (left). I copied the fire photo twice and put the car in the middle, then used a brush with the opacity reduced to take out enough of the top fire to let the car show through and then it melded into the fire photo that is behind. If you look real close, there is a ghosted image of a roadrunner as the background. I scanned it from a card.

"Statue girl overlay" (below) also caught my interest. I realize this is a close-up of various other forms of the same statue at your gallery, but I'm wondering what you did different with this to give it its special "look."

The background photo is of a stone wall with lichen growing on it. I used the blending mode to meld the two photos together. Honestly, I can’t remember which one I used, and I have locked the layers together.

In still another image, you identified a montage as a car you created for "Our Dose of Vitamin C." There's nothing else at the site to explain what that project was about. Can you elaborate?

I created this montage (left) to use as our show sign for our car at car shows. In the first question, I let it out that my boys were into toys. My husband Terry owned a 1970 roadrunner after high school and while he was in the Army. It is what he was driving when we met. I was just out of nursing school, and he was just starting is schooling. We were living in a one-bedroom apartment on my income and his military education stipend. The clutch was going out, and he was driving from Danville through 38th Street stoplights (in Indianapolis) to the Eastside of Indy to ITT. It was also a recession, and gas was “expensive” We decided to get something more economical and automatic. We sold the car and he regretted it the minute it drove off.

I bought the car in the photo for Terry on December 23rd in 1996. We restored it as a street muscle car, as it was not a numbers-matching car. We worked on it for 14 years and was part of the foundation that took our son into becoming an automotive tech for Mercedes Benz. Unfortunately, in 2006 we drove the car to Mopar Nationals in Columbus, Ohio, and we woke up Saturday morning to nothing but a small pile of broken glass. The car was stolen out of the motel parking lot. It has never been recovered.

We are in the process of doing another car and hope to have it on the road this summer sometime. This one has been a very slow process.

You are a member of the Hendricks County Arts Council and manager of the Gallery on the Square in Danville. Can you talk a bit about what the organization does in general, and how it helps and/or nurtures photographers and other artists and craftsmen and women? Is it open to those who do not live in Hendricks County? As for the gallery, when did it open, where is it exactly on the square, what are its hours and what kinds of art and artists are featured there? Are the displays revolving and/or change a lot? Is it free and/or paid admission?

The Hendricks County Arts Council was formed in 2005 to support all art forms in Hendricks County. We are open to membership from people outside of Hendricks County, as they would be supporting the artists in Hendricks County. The arts council supports visual artists, musical artists and performance artists. It was a goal to be able to provide a space to highlight the works of artists in our general area. We had a trial run with a holiday gallery during the Christmas season in 2008 and was very well-received by the community and the business in Danville. We started looking for space in earnest and found our spot. We have spent a labor of love during about four months to clean and repaint and create a gallery and classroom area. We opened our doors on June 20, 2009.

The gallery is a co-op of 19 artists (presently). We pay rent to the HCAC and are able to keep our profit from sales. We do have guest artists joining us and plan on expanding through the year. The gallery is free of charge and all artwork is for sale. We are located beside the Royal Theater on the east side of the downtown courthouse square in Danville at 51 S. Washington St. We are open Wednesdays through Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. through March then until 7 p.m. through next Christmas season.

We have a very diversified offering of artwork, including, oils, watercolors, acrylic, drawings, photography, pottery, fiber (weavings, purses, wall hangings), weaving on gourds, wood, metal, clay sculpture, jewelry and glass. Many of our artists also offer classes in their medium, and we have classroom space for that purpose. So we are very much into teaching, fostering and supporting the learning and education of art.

What advice would you give to photography enthusiasts interested in getting their work marketed and/or sold?

I hate to end this on a negative note, but photography is a pretty hard sell. So many people do not look at photography as an art form. There are also so many people with digital cameras that take really good photos that there is a bit of a glut in the market. I do it mostly for the hobby and the social life it gives me. Don’t take me wrong, I would love to say that I am selling tons of photos, and I certainly would like to sell a lot of my art, but I am not, at this point. I’m sure that many of your readers can relate to this. I feel strongly that exposure is everything. You do have to get out there and give yourself exposure, get your name out. Your photos aren’t getting any exposure in your computer or sitting in frames in your bedroom. Get associated and active in the art community you live in. They can be a wealth of information and give your work legitimacy if they support your work as art. I am fortunate that most of the art people I am associated do recognize my photography art and photography as art

To see more of Rose's work, visit her online site, The Garden Path Art.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

What a difference a day makes ...

On Saturday, Feb. 6, I returned to Garfield Park, as a sort of follow-up to the shoot of the previous day (see images in previous post), when it snowed nearly all day and skies were gray and overcast.

Saturday, it was sunshiny and uplifting, and after putting a circular polarizing filter on my lens, I managed to capture some nice images, many zeroing in on leafless deciduous trees that presented striking foregrounds to the rich blue skies and some sharp backlighting photos enhanced by the polarizer.

To see my full gallery of images taken over the course of the two days, follow this link to my Winter 2010 folder.

Monday, February 8, 2010

When weather waxes photographic

Weather, and its residual art, can make for interesting photography. Last week, Central Indiana was hit with a hefty, wet snowfall that began around 9:30 a.m. Friday, Feb. 5, and didn't stop -- what with the blowing and drifting -- until well into the darkness of the following morning.

When I learned that the storm was coming our way, I decided to chase a "during" and "after" photo sequence. Today, I give you some of the "during" images, pictures I captured in the throes of the snowfall. The flakes you see represent the snowfall at about 2:30 p.m. or so, or about five hours or so into the storm, well before the majority of the snow had accumulated. All of these were taken in or around Garfield Park.

Later in the week, I'll present images I took the following day, Saturday, Feb. 6, when I went out to capture the aftermath.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Living Proof lays down the footage ...
and the groove ... at Athenaeum

The seven-piece Indianapolis R&B band Living Proof had a big night last Saturday (Jan. 30) at the Athenaeum Theatre in downtown Indianapolis. In the early evening, the band got together to record a video of the title track from their second album, "Feel Good Music." Then after an hour and a half or so break, the theater opened the doors to let the fans inside for the three-hour show. The images you see in this post are from the first hour of that show. I also took images from the video recording and the interlude before the show, which you can check out at my Living Proof concert gallery.

On the two previous evenings, Thursday and Friday (Jan. 28-29), Living Proof recorded footage at Jillian's in downtown Indianapolis and the Lakehouse Tavern in Noblesville to compile its second Colts Super Bowl video, "Scream Ya Necks Off (GO HORSE)!" The band had recorded its first Colts video, "Superbowl Sway," in 2006 when the Colts went to their first Super Bowl since coming to Indianapolis in 1984. Both of the songs are original compositions.

The band has upcoming shows tonight at the Ale Emporium, 8617 Allisonville Road, Indianapolis; next Friday night (Feb. 12) at That Place, 8810 S. Emerson Ave.., just north of Greenwood; and Feb. 19 at the Moon Dog Tavern, 4825 E. 96th St., Indianapolis.

Above: Living Proof band members (from left) Teddy Patterson, Larry Beiswenger, Jessica Patterson, Gary McCreary, Leonard Patterson, Jeff Libby and Marc Latney.

Above: Jessica and Leonard Patterson, in dance mode during a hopping R&B number.

Above: Leonard Patterson on vocals.

Above: Keyboardist Jeff Libby.

Above: Bass player Marc Latney.

Above: Drummer Gary McCreary.

Above: Jessica Patterson emotes during a solo.

Above: Teddy Patterson put down his saxophone to pace the groove and contribute vocals for this number.

Above: Trumpet player Larry Beiswenger.

Above: The lighting included a roving blue strobe, and the effects include periodic smoke, so it was challenging to see if I could get a good saturation of blue smoke into a frame. From left: Larry Beiswenger, Teddy Patterson, Jessica Patterson, Leonard Patterson and Marc Latney.
Above: Teddy Patterson got another chance to be up front in a number, acting out the song thread while the groove pounded behind him.

Above: Not long after the show started, there was a waiting line of people trying to get -- but unable to because of the theater's audience capacity restrictions. These folks did manage to get in, but were standing at the uppermost level of the tiered seating, looking down at the stage.

To see images from the video shooting and others from the live performance, visit the Living Proof concert folder at my online gallery by following this link: Living Proof.