Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Do Simple Subjects Trigger Your Greatest Creative Growth?

Variety is a wonderful thing. Of course, it's what makes life interesting. You've seen it written many ways but you know it because you are not like anyone else. You may have some similarities to others but that's probably minimal when you get into the depths of it. I love to look for what's different.

Just as some photographers favor humans over other subjects, I favor nature. I blame it on being an introvert but that's not a bad thing. And I do like to have a little fun with my subjects as you see Mr. Lego moving that large flat top white mushroom through the rugged pine straw and weed terrain.

Yes, mushrooms out in natural surroundings are one of my favorite photography subjects when I can find them in our high desert environment.

Several years after moving here I noticed the interesting variety of mushrooms while out walking during our rainy season, which we call monsoons here.

I've found quite a variety of mushrooms popping up out in the forest, meadows, and prairies where I walk the dogs. Some time back, I wrote a post titled "6 Captures Exposing The Low Down On Perspective" which shares photographs of a variety of mushrooms we saw that year during our walks.

I'm never one to shy away from crawling around on the ground to try for a better angle when getting a photograph. The dogs have a great time sniffing around and thankfully aren't interested in eating them which could become a problem.

I've walked the woods many years and never saw a true Amanita Muscaria mushroom. The photograph below was a chance finding. I happened to change direction after not seeing any mushrooms and caught a glimpse of the color from this one in the brown pine straw recently.

mushroom, amanita, amanita muscaria, orange, photography, fungus

The orange capped mushroom below was found on one of the first hikes many years ago when I started looking for mushrooms. I have this photograph framed and hanging as a print in our home. I also offer this photograph as a wrapped canvas seen below as one of the several products featuring this orange capped mushroom busting through rotted pine wood and pine straw in my online store. Click the image to check it out.
Colorful Mushroom Busting Through Canvas Print

Colorful Mushroom Busting Through Canvas Print

Several years ago we traveled through Alaska. There were so many mushrooms that I had to narrow down what I selected for this post. We live in a high desert so we don't see the lush green environment like we did there. This vibrant green moss covered tree stump with the mushrooms growing out of it was the top choice for this post.

moss, mushrooms, vegetation, green, nature, tree stump,

The last mushroom photograph I share because it turns out that I actually ate these. This is what I was told it was called and found in research as a Lobster mushroom. It's said to have that title since it looks like the color of a cooked lobster. We were at our neighbor's home once for dinner and she served these with a dipping sauce. They had the density of cauliflower without any crunch. I really worried about getting sick after trying them but there was no problem at all. Having been out mushroom hunting (for photographs only) I now know the areas where I'll find these popping out of the pine straw. 

What is your favorite photography subject?
Are you one to get on the ground or to climb up to get a better view from above for a different angle of a photo subject?

Leave a comment to let me know your thoughts on the post and answer the questions. 

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Is Learning to Notice What's Around You A Part of Your Photography?

people, dancer, belly dancer, woman, crowd, adults, children

I watched the video "Visual Exercise" by Sean Tucker several times and two points really hit on something I think about often. The first point, in life and in photography, is learning to really observe and understand your surroundings. In life, observation skills take on a safety and security aspect. As in photography, observation skills give you an appreciation of all that is around you.

The second point that stirred feelings for me is not being so focused on your camera gear.  He basically references that a paint brush alone does not make you an artist because there is so much more to it.

"Art is gonna come out of experimentation."  ~ Sean Tucker, photographer

Tucker reinforces that, "Owning a camera does not necessarily make you a good photographer. It's going to take more than that because, photography, at the end of the day, is still an art." He talks about using our phones and making mistakes but I'll let you watch the video to hear those points from him.

I often use my camera phone to get shots because my DSLR isn't available. Some photographers frown upon using them but it's my phone and photographs or nothing. I'll take some shots with my phone. The cameras on phones have improved tremendously over time. A friend was using her new Samsung on a recent visit to the Grand Canyon and the quality of the photographs was excellent. Just like a DSLR, we can also take as many photographs as we want. There's always the chance of getting something really good that would have been missed otherwise.

I don't carry my DSLR on most daily dog walks or hikes. Sunrise the morning of this shot had the makings of a beautiful start. I used my phone to capture the dew drops on the tall prairie grass as the sky was exploding with morning color. It was a nice share for our local community Facebook group page. It's not perfect but I was able to show off the beauty of that morning that others weren't able to witness.

grass, silhouettes, sky, sunrise, dawn, morning, orange, pink, yellow

I've always been a people watcher. I can sit in one location for long periods to observe the busy world around me. I think the interesting take on this trait is that I prefer to photograph objects, nature, and animals.

On the streets in the French Quarter of New Orleans, I can watch tourists all day but I'm more interested in the other aspects of my surroundings. I shot this yellow bicycle with the pink tires and a multi color seat on an overcast day. There weren't many people on the street and the bicycle was the brightest thing to catch my eye. The bicycle was also captured with my phone.

bicycle, pink tires, gray day, basket, colorful, NOLA, New Orleans, Louisiana

We should look at the world around us as children do. I've often said this in social media posts. We should have an intense curiosity. Looking under, around, and from above objects to get a different perspective. Looking closer than we would normally look reveals some interesting things too. 

The photograph below is of two tiny mushrooms I noticed on a piece of dead wood after a minor snowfall. It intrigued me that these two mushrooms were still attached. The forward, more shriveled up mushroom was about the size of a dime so you can estimate the size of the one in the back. That brown stick like item near the back mushroom is a tiny piece of wolf lichen. 

mushrooms, dried mushrooms, dead wood, photography, close-up, macro, snow

Two questions for you. 
1.  What was your take on the Sean Tucker video? 
2.  Whether you are a photographer or not, do you consider yourself a good observer? 

Leave a comment here to give me your thoughts on this post.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Mouse Pads Can Add A Splash of Color To Any Workspace

Whether we use them to keep from scratching the surface of your work space or to steady the optical eye of the mouse, mouse pads are still used by many people. Depending on the design, they are also a way of adding a little bit of "you" to the workspace. They even make a nice sized coaster but keep that liquid away from the keyboard.

Mouse pads were one of the first Zazzle products that I originally started adding my photography and digital art. In the horizontal format, photographs are a fairly good fit right from an image source.

I have purchased several mouse pads from Zazzle and was very pleased with the manufacture and printing quality. When you initially open the package there is an overwhelming scent of either the paint on the cloth cover or the non-skid backing. Thankfully, the smell doesn't last long once it is out in the fresh air.

All mouse pads are 9.25" x 7.75". There is a durable, dust and stain resistant cover featuring the design over a non-slip backing which also offers cushion. They can easily be personalized just for you or as a special gift. Looking to make it personal with your photograph or art? That's easy too.

You'll find more than 150 of my digital art and photography designed mouse pads like the ones pictured below.
Clustered Sunflowers Close-Up Photograph Mouse Pad

On designs like this Sunflower cluster photograph, the text is offered in a template field that you can change. If you remove the text, you'll probably want to remove the color bar behind it so you would have to go into the customize option to remove that too. 

Raspberries and Almonds Watercolor Mouse Pad

On a design with no text like this digitally altered photograph of almonds and raspberries, you can go into the customize option to add your text. Nearly all of my products have that option available for you to do your thing. 

A Colorful Eclectic Collection

Eclectic Mouse Pad Display

Of the total 150+ designed mouse pads in TheAspenStand, you'll find quite the eclectic collection of both templates or simply a photograph and art without text.

Floral Mouse Pad Designs  

There is an abundant collection of colorful floral designed mouse pads like these lilies and sunflower photographs with or without text. 

  Digital Art Mouse Pad Display

You'll find a number of abstract and digitally altered photographs among the collection of digital art mousepads in the store. 

Share how you have you used mouse pads in an alternative manner in the comments below?

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

3 Products Complete A Beautiful Gift for The Writer In Your Life

digital art, flowers, daisies, stationery, stickers, envelopes, gift set, roses

It's been quite a while since I took actual pen to paper but I know there are still a lot of people who do it quite often. I had those folks in mind when I designed this Terra Cotta Edge Flower Bouquet writing set. In this post, you'll find a stationery sheet design, a matching A2 envelope and a sticker to seal it.  

This design began as the photograph of a colorful flower bouquet of red and orange roses and yellow daisies. I'm sure if you follow my blog or my Chatter Corral blog you've seen that I enjoy trying out new photo editing techniques. I was quite pleased with this photo edit so I designed numerous products using it. The writing products that I mentioned above would collectively or singularly make a great gift.
If you plan now you might consider presenting some of these to a special teacher at some point during the school year or at the end of the school year. You could coordinate it with several parents so it's a very reasonable cost.  A nice practice at Zazzle is that you can purchase different designs and still earn a stationery volume discount which starts with a purchase of 25 sheets.  

Terra  Cotta Edged Bouquet Stationery

You'll find two stationery designs here.  The stationery sheet in the upper right has a diminished opacity use of the design and the sheet on the left has the design as a corner detail.  Both designs allow for personalizing by adding text in place of what is currently on the template. Although both have name text at the top and address information at the bottom, both can be easily changed or totally removed for an entirely blank sheet.  In my Zazzle store TheAspenStand, you will find another sheet design where the bouquet is on the bottom right corner and allows for the same personalizing.  

Terra  Cotta Edged Bouquet Envelope

 As I mentioned in the lead there are A2 sized envelopes using the same design. The envelope above features the entire design inside and outside. The outside design is at a diminished opacity so as not to interfere with address text. 

On this design, you can customize it by selecting a different envelope color. When you visit the Terra Cotta Edged Flower Bouquet category in the store, you will also see that envelope style with the bouquet in the lower right corner.  

Terra  Cotta Edged Bouquet Classic Round Sticker

Add round stickers to seal the matching envelopes. These 1.5" diameter stickers are available with the background you see above or a white background. If you simply like the sticker, you can also get a sheet of 6, 3" diameter stickers. 

To round out a very nice gift package, see the Terra Cotta Edged Flower Bouquet postage stamp that complements the envelope.  
You can find 40+ products with the Terra Cotta Edged Flower Bouquet design including greeting cards and aprons in TheAspenStand online store.

Before you head off to check out the products, leave a comment to let me know your thoughts on the design and post. 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Gift Ideas to Surprise the Route 66 Fan

route66, route 66, americana, us history, historic, winslow, arizona, travel, destination

Have you heard of The Mother Road? Do you know it as the Main Street of America? Or maybe you've heard it referred to as Will Rogers Highway? However you may refer to it, that means you are familiar with US Route 66.

Some folks have read about it but have never been able to travel along the remaining saved segments like those in Arizona. This post will offer some information about the Arizona segment of The Mother Road and offer some gift ideas for you or a Route 66 fan.

I recall a woman in an online discussion sharing about loading up with family to head across country on US Route 66. The road was one of the original US highways built to connect Chicago to Los Angeles. The road was established in 1926 and decommissioned June 27, 1985. It headed from Illinois through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and ending in California. 

I wasn't very familiar with the history of the road until moving to Arizona and particularly northern Arizona where you can now travel Interstate 40 to spots with historic stops along the still famous historic Route 66. 

As a matter of fact, a scenic stop off of now Interstate 40 is in the little community where we live. Two lengths of the route are annotated on a map. A fence and path lead you on 3/4 miles walk to the historic General Store in Parks, Arizona. the general store has been through a number of owners and is still operational.

Historic Route 66 Arizona General Store Watercolor T-Shirt

We have driven on segments of the route in Arizona that are still drivable. Arizona is one of the several states that designed the road a National Scenic Byway (NSB) giving it the name "Historic" Route 66. We've driven and stopped in a number of the historic locations such Oatman where wild donkeys walk the streets. We've made several trips to Hackberry, Seligman. Williams and Flagstaff are normal locations for shopping and eating since they are nearby. 

One of the well-known stops is Winslow. The Eagles song "Take It Easy" brought fame to the town and there is a designated corner with a building facade and "flatbed Ford". Tourists flow through there to get their photos taken on the corner and drop into the souvenirs shops. 

Up the road is the La Posada Hotel. The hotel website reads that it is "The Last Great Railroad Hotel built in 1929 by the Santa Fe Railway for the Fred Harvey Company." The restaurant and artwork are definitely worth a visit. 
Winslow Arizona Red Splash Photograph Jigsaw Puzzle

You can find Route 66 gift ideas featuring the traditional black and white sign and variations of it. I wanted to design something different. My oval sticker design is comprised of a photograph of the construction of a stone well-house along a walkable segment of the historic route in Parks, AZ as the background. The two emblems in the oval design are from a photograph of the Arizona Historic US Route 66 road sign.

I would love to read about your experiences if you have visited any of the segments of the old route? 

Leave a comment and let me know your experience or thoughts on the post.