painting and photographic works

Archive for April, 2011

William Wray – Urban Landscape Painter

With this, I am starting a new series of blog posts to point my readers to artists I know and respect. Many of the artist’s I currently follow are part of the twitter community and may well be known to each other and to you. There are a few artists that I came to know  from before twitter (yes there was a time) – particularly from the WetCanvas on-line community and this artist is one of those.

The artist  to introduce you to is California painter William Wray. He often paints what I would describe as gritty, urban landscapes. It is not uncommon to see industrial factories, gas stations or downtown canyons. He has also made compelling works with car, trains and shopping carts as the subjects. Wray’s unique style is also applied to some still life and figure painting.

His subject matter often makes his work distinctive but so is masterful use of color, light and shadow. Words can’t really do justice so please visit his website and his blog to see his works and to learn more about him.

Be sure to also look for the links to a couple of books he has of his paintings.


Ordinary Things – 5 photos

I have been between cameras lately and therefore haven’t had much to share. My Nikon DLSR failed and has been sent for repairs. I grew tired of the limits of my iPhone camera  (although really missing the creative possibilities of various apps). I have bought a small point and shoot camera – a Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS7. The last few days I have been learning how to use the new camera. Here are a few results, shot with the ZS7 and post-processed with Capture NX2.

Abstract 110427-a

Abstract 110427-c

Abstract 110427-d

Seven Blue Cans

Abstract 110427-b

Highlights of the Week

I might say the highlight of my week was getting back to the easel working on a painting – but it was just a little work and did not result in anything to share. I will however share some of my favorite photos from the last week (if you follow me on Flickr you may have already seen some of these). I am still without my Nikon so all of these works were taken and processed with an iPhone 3GS

Guard Rail

and by applying the TinyPlanets app to the previous image we get:

Guard Rail Planet

Another abstraction resulting from the TinyPlanets app


This next photo did NOT involve the TinyPlanets app. I took a picture of a burr lieing on the path I often walk. I enhanced the saturation of the image and then applied the fisheye feature on the CameraBag app:

Planet Burr

Finally a photo of a larges slushy puddle in which I just pushed the saturation and cropped it a bit:

Technicolor Slush Puddle

River, Ice and Shore (Black and White)

Here are some photos from the spring (mid-April) of 2009 in Edmonton river valley after the snow was gone from the trails and the North Saskatchewan River ice was in the process of breaking-up.

Ice Clogged River

Forms of River Ice

Shore Ice

Riverbank Trail in Early Spring

Ice, Mist and Open Water

Opposite Banks

Beware - The Ice Gator

Prints and cards of Beware the Ice Gator are available for purchase from Red Bubble

Exploring Tiny Planet

I’ve been seeing some neat abstract photos recently but was unsure at first how they were being created. I discovered an iPhone app called Tiny Planets is the tool. Today I have been exploring the creative possibilities of that app and here are some of my results (along with the original photo):

Spiral Stairs

In addition to the Tiny Planets app I also used Photo Shop Mobile to enhance (or remove) color and contrast and for cropping before or after transformation

Abstract 110407-b

The results can be quite unpredictable. Here is what a tire track in the mud can turn into:

In this following example, I used the fish eye view on the CameraBag app in order to accentuate the circular form of the Tiny Planet transformation.

Finally I took a simple photo of a sidewalk, curb and snow.

With a little color saturation enhancement I achieved this result:

Just Follow This Sidewalk


Ice in the Morning (Undersea Dreams)

At this time of year (early spring in Edmonton) there is a daily thaw-freeze cycle – by noon snow and ice are melting, running and sometimes collecting in puddles. With the below freezing temperatures overnight, that water refreezes so that  in the morning there are some delightful patterns to be found in the thin layers of new ice. This photo set is all about the ice.

Abstract 110405-2752 (Ice Shards)

Abstract 110405-2769

Abstract 110405-2767

That previous photo reminds me of oceanside waves and I am amazed at how many others of these photos somehow remind of something I’d expect to see underwater.

Abstract 110405-2756

Does this last image look familiar? It is the color version of the first photo in this set.

All of these photos were taken and processed using an iPhone 3GS. PhotoShop Mobile and CameraBag were the two main apps I used for manipulating the images.

Do you have any favorites from these images? Is so, please leave a comment to let me know.

More of my photos can be seen on my Flickr Photostream.

Camera Dreaming

I’ve been dreaming  about a new camera the last few days – ever since my DSLR died. I’ve been shooting a Nikon D80 for the last 2 and a half years and was very happy with it. Then last week while out shooting it suddenly stopped responding. All I got was an flashing ‘Err” message in the display. I did  few web searches for possible fixes and tried all of the obvious “worth a try” suggestions: power on and off, remove and replace battery, try another battery, try another memory card, reformat memory card, try a different lens, clean the lens contacts – NOTHING! I took it into a camera shop on Saturday and paid $40 for them to ship it to Nikon for a diagnosis and repair estimate. That could take up to 4 weeks and then another 2 or 3 to get it back to me. I hadn’t realized how attached I had become to that camera.

My immediate plan B was to use the camera in my iPhone. I do quite enjoy the creative challenges of working with such a primitive camera teamed up with some amazing apps. Last summer and fall I had used the iPhone more than my DSLR, but as winter set in I wasn’t prepared to go bare-fingered to operate the iPhone. So I went back to my DSLR and it became my constant companion. I will continue to use the iPhone camera but I was reminded of a couple of shortcomings yesterday that  has me longing for a quality point-and-shoot that I can use now until my DSLR is back and then I can continue to use the little camera in the future as my electronic “sketchbook”, when I need to quickly capture an image (often as a reference for a future painting).

The situation I was in yesterday was cycling around and wanting to capture some some photos for my cycling blog. Each time I stopped and wanted to take a photo, I had to pull my iPhone out of a pocket, turn it on, take off my glove, then type in the password and then select the camera app. this got to be a real pain, especially if I would see something 20 seconds after I’d stopped for my last photo. What I was longing for was a camera that would hang around my neck, turn on with one press of a gloved finger and then zoom, focus and take the picture – bing-boom-bam! The other big drawback I was reminded of was how useless the LCD display is in bright sun!

Before I got my Nikon I had a little point and shoot much like this. It was a Pentax Optio S – a powerful little thing in its time but alas it became unreliable  a year or so back and besides the specs just don’t cut it these days. It was only  3.2 Mpixels with a 3x zoom!

My dream camera of today will have at least a 12Mp sensor and a minimum 5x zoom (although 10 would be pretty nice) and fit easily in a pocket. I also want a camera well suited to low light photography. That means some sort of image stabilization, a very high ISO setting and a high quality fast lens. Oh, and I’d also like it to be inexpensive (maybe $250). I’d also love to find a camera with an optical viewfinder and options for manual exposure/shutter speed would be nice. As you can probably guess there are tradeoffs and I am not likely to find everything on my wishlist.

My initial search started with Nikon products and the other traditional camera giants (Canon, Pentax etc.) but I’ve heard that the big general electronics manufactures (e.g. Panasonic- especially teamed with Leica lenses) have some very credible camera products too. I’m still shopping around so if you have any suggestions or good or bad experiences please let me know.

Would I Fool You?

Could I fool you even if I tried? It is April 1st as I write this, the traditional day of trickery and practical jokes. I have to share with you today 5 photos from yesterday. All of these  were taken and processed with an iPhone 3GS. I am back to iPhone photography for two reasons: 1. my Nikon D80 failed on me a couple of days ago and is going to need to go in for repairs and 2. it has finally warmed up enough in Edmonton to allow me to wander around outside with bare hands, which are necessary to operate the iPhone touch screen. I do also really like the creative possibilities of the iPhone apps.

I like that photos often are not what they first appear. I like that whole element of discovery with a good photo – the longer you look the more you see and the more you see the more possibilities that open up in the mind.

Unknown Peak and Glacier

Ice Crystals

Ice and Leaves

Air Under Ice

Snow Urchin

So anything thereto fool anybody? Probably not, only a couple of cases of titles to lead the viewer in a “false” direction. The first image is not a lovely mountain scene but a  pile of dirty roadside snow after a bit of spring melting. The last photo is not of something called a snow urchin but just a clump of burrs from a burdock plant.