Tag Archives: photography

Rose Hips and photo editing (again!)

Just a quickie again this week…..

I finished the rose hips, it was such a tiny picture (5ins x 3ins) it did not take up too much time.  But the photo I took to put in the blog was not good, photographing white paper – ARGGGH.

Scrabbling around the Internet I found reference to image editing software called Pixelmator, and I downloaded the app for a 30 day free trial.  Well, I am very happy with it, especially after my very frustrating experiences with Gimp.  Gimp ‘0’ Pixelmator ’10’!  Obviously I need to practise but there are a bunch of tutorials on YouTube so I am happy.

Finished Rose Hip drawing - Sue Hagley

So now I am learning photo editing………. Anyway at least I can cut out my image and place it on a white background thus solving the photography problem.  The colour editing tools seem good so I can colour match if I want to.  I worked on the Tangutica again and ‘beefed’ up the intensity of the colour in the drawing.  The yellow in the image is still not ‘true’ even with my photo editing.

angutica - colours strengthened

Tangutica – colours strengthened

When life intervenes

I sound like a cracked record going round and round, but again this week the pencil did not hit paper very much.  Below is my entire output, a practice for getting the colours right!  And now I think the Foxgloves are past their best so I might have to wait until next year to have another go.

Test for foxglove colour

But on the positive side, I have had another go at the photography lark and think I have now solved the problem of photographing paper to my satisfaction.  The solution was in the exposure.  My paper now looks ‘white (ish)’ instead of dingey greyish.  So I am happy about that and can let it go………..

I have been following the blog of occasionalartist over the past weeks and have been very interested in the work she is doing with paper and sewing and they reminded me of the last quilt I made just in the square shapes coming off a flat surface and the shadows and dimensions that are created.  Materials used: plain white fabric, coloured threads applied with overlocker, and plastic tags (the type that hold labels onto clothes that get cut off and thrown away).

Quilt by Sue Hagley

 

I have been reading an inspiring book, ‘The Awakened Eye’ (a companion volume to The Zen of Seeing, SEEING/DRAWING as meditation) by Frederick Franck.  This is my early morning read, as I enjoy my first cup of tea of the day and my copy is now littered with little orange post it notes as I find things to try and remember.  My favourite extracts follow:

  • There is no other valid reason for drawing than the awareness of the eye awakening from its half-sleep.
  • If we take eternity to mean not infinite temporal duration, but timelessness, the eternal life belongs to those who live in the present – say Wittgenstein
  • The leaf I just picked is already going limp, then I see it shrivel.  While seeing/drawing I see each thing living its own time, as I am living my time, my life-time.  The awakened eye becomes utterly aware of the fleetingness of all that passes before it, of this eye still seeing, of this hand still moving, still tracing…………
  • When I draw in line with a pen or a sharp pencil I am compelled to the most intense, uninterrupted attention to and awareness of what my eye perceives.  It makes it impossible to deceive, to humour or to flatter myself.  The quality of my line shows up every attempt at a cover-up, a pretense.  Looking at my drawing once it is finished, I can’t help becoming my own graphologist: I see instantly every flagging of my concentration, every incompetence, every trick!

Going crazeeeeeee – GIMP, scanning and photography

I never thought that botanical art would lead me down the dark and tortuous road of photography, but it has, and let me be up front about photography – I don’t like it.  The camera does not see as I do and I am always disappointed by the results.

So I finished my drawing of the Photinia and of course I needed to photograph it – why? 1. to put in the blog of course and 2. as a record.

Photinia drawing by Sue Hagley

Finished Photinia coloured pencil drawing.

 

Arghhh!  Lighting, getting it right is sooooo hard, lots of research on the internet and it all seems so time intensive and boring and even more nit-picking than even I can cope with.  My research lead me to consider scanning – ah ha! much easier, the darn thing lights itself and I will just get some software to do a little colour correction. What a blind alley that turned into.  Most of my images are bigger than scanner plate, so software would also need to ‘stitch’ several images together as well as adjust colour.  More research and the dread word GIMP came into my life.  Anyway – this is all way too boring but I have just wasted two of my precious days on this earth wrestling with GIMP and some esoteric things called layers – it’s all been too horrible and I’m done with it!   The solution came to me when I was meditating – surprising what a little bit of stillness and silence can do, and it seems glaringly obvious now.  My room has been rearranged, and in that rearrangement new lights were installed, which means the room is evenly lit enough for photography (at least for the standard I need).  So I tested it out, and it works, YAY!  Only problem was a support to hold the artwork, so a request to my resident woodworker resulted in a lovely new stand, with the addition of two elastic bands my Heath Robinson ensemble is good to go.

Photography Stand

Heath Robinson ensemble

Seems to  work alright, see photo of Photinia above (although I have not cropped it properly); I will experiment some more with a tripod and a better (bigger) camera, but not today……………………..

P.S. ………if you are still with me, dear reader, I did go back to it, like an itch you can’t help scratching.  My later experiments came out really well and I am now HAPPY!  I found out how to set the white balance on my camera, lower the ISO and use a tripod.  I also used up about 500 calories going up stairs to take the photo and down again to put it on the computer, so I have had my exercise for today, which can’t be bad.  Didn’t do any drawing though………..

 

Draws Shoots and Leaves finds out the meaning of the word ‘Cauliflory’

Who knew there even was a word called ‘cauliflory’ – ah ha! something to do with cauliflowers I guessed.  Wrong………my new book defines it as “The production of flowers on the trunk and branches of trees rather than at the ends of twigs” so now you know.  I wonder if the Brazil Nut tree is cauliflorus?

Brazil Nuts growing on trunk

Brazil Nuts growing on trunk

The book is called ‘The Cambridge Illustrated Glossary of Botanical Terms’  by Michael Hickey and Clive King.  What a brilliant book and some amazing words. I wonder what the word really is to describe a cauliflower…………………..

Don’t rush the colour selection process

Well this blog is about learning and I am learning.  Every time I sit down and draw I learn something. Another note to self – always take a picture of the finished drawing before you put it away in the depths of your portfolio, this matters right now because I am going to talk about a picture and I don’t have a proper image to show the end result.  I need to get to grips with photography and I am not really motivated to do that.

The plant that I was drawing was an agave (I think) although someone called it an aloe so I’m not sure, it was a gift anyway, and is a houseplant in England as it is too cold to put outside.

Agave drawing

Agave drawing

I was interested in the folding shapes of the leaves and the serrated edges and of course, the colour.

Agave drawings

Agave drawings

The colour of the plant was a really important quality of the plant, it had a very blueish tinge and a sort of dusty look.  It’s so important to choose the colours correctly otherwise there is no chance of making the image match your observations, and dear reader, I begrudged the time to do this.  I wanted to get on with things and rushed this process, and consequently paid the price – the drawing was the wrong colours.

Agave plant set up

Agave plant set up

Even as I was doing it I knew that it was wrong………….. but too late to go back, I was already committed so I went on.

Agave plant ready to draw

Colouring in in progress

What happens if you continue despite the odds?  Well you get a sense of achievement at finishing something, but you end up disappointed because you know it could have been better, with a little more effort and just a little more planning at the very beginning.  It’s trite but it’s true ‘if you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail’. Nuff said, lesson learned.