Saturday, March 20, 2010


My "daily photo" blog ends today, but continues on in my "Carol Leigh" blog at Be sure to change your bookmarks, your Google Reader settings, your RSS feeds, etc. and we'll continue to stay in touch. Two blogs was ridiculous -- less is more. -- Carol Leigh

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Love on the beach

You never know where you'll find a heart . . . And I'm sure we'll be seeing this one again since I brought it home with me. ©Carol Leigh

Monday, March 15, 2010

Fleur d'Leigh

Chris brought flowers home yesterday and so this afternoon I decided to do some photography. I put them up on the kitchen counter and used window light coming from my right to illuminate them. A PhotoFlex diffusion disk/translucent reflector softened the light a bit. I used a 50mm lens and an extension tube, the lens set at f/1.8 for minimum depth of field. Lovely colors. Wonderful guy for bringing me flowers! ©Carol Leigh

Friday, March 12, 2010

Boats and waves

A quick stop at the fishing boats, where I photographed primarily texture to use in my photomontages. But across the way, the yellow fishing vessel Desire gleamed brightly against a cloudy grey sky. And then on the way home, we stopped at Seal Rock because the lighting was so dramatic and the waves were really snarly. I used a quarter-second exposure to create these two shots. They're not sweeps nor swipes nor swoops -- they're swirls. I swirled the camera in a circular pattern during the exposure. It's been a good day. ©Carol Leigh

I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille ...

I wanted to check out an art gallery showing in Newport today and afterward I walked over to the ocean overlook where invariably there are lots of gulls, all looking for handouts. If my lens had focused closer than four feet, I could have gotten even closer to this guy -- he was fearless. ©Carol Leigh

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

On the living room floor

I was experimenting with various textures today and created these two images, one using an algebra book as a background and the other using a dryer sheet that I'd soaked in coffee. Abby's eyes grew wide when she saw the feather, but stayed back when I asked her to. For a change. P.S. The Sacramento Bee interviewed me this afternoon regarding California's wildflower season and asked about where their readers should go to see the flowers this year in northern California. Those of you who get the Sacramento Bee, let me know when the article appears, unless, of course, I sound stupid and clueless. Which has been known to happen. ©Carol Leigh

Sunday, March 7, 2010

It's the journey, not the destination...

I took a day for myself yesterday, traveling some back roads of Oregon, on my way to an art show featuring recycled materials. Well, the art show was everything that made me uncomfortable -- crowds of people, small spaces, congestion, inability to really see the art, and cellphone talkers blocking corridors: "I'm here at the end of the hall. Can you see me now? No, as you're facing the FRONT of the building. Now can you see me? I can see YOU!" God forbid that he should just shut up and walk 75 feet to his friend. But I digress.

It was enjoyable driving along, taking whichever road caught my fancy, past barns and goats and junky cars. Some of the coolest things, however, were inaccessible. And we all have been there: a barn, an animal, a scene, and there's no place to pull over and stop, and there are 12 cars behind you all wanting to go faster than you, and three miles later, when you can finally do a U-turn and go back, you're in the same damned situation, with no place to stop, cars piling up, and, well, you know.

What I ended up doing was stopping in a couple small towns, parking near the grain elevator, and walking around. If there was a railroad track nearby, BONUS! So I came home with a lot of photos of corrugated metal, texture for my photomontages, numbers and rivets on train cars, and peeling paint.This kind of stuff makes me happy, but I know it's not the most interesting for the rest of the world.

Bottom line? Other than our population is WAY out of control and we act self-centered and rude a lot of the time, it was a good day! I can't ask for much more than to be out of the house, traveling roads I've never been on, seeing, photographing, and under no pressure. We ALL could use a bit more of that, don't you think? ©Carol Leigh

Friday, March 5, 2010

Alders in winter

We took a little drive this morning. Not much to shoot, but I did like how the alders this time of year are all bare and white on the hillsides. The scene was too messy for a "straight" photograph, so instead I set my shutter speed to 0.4 seconds and moved the camera up (or down) during the exposure to create a blurred impression of the scene. ©Carol Leigh

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Old images, new eyes

I'm currently teaching a class in how I do my photomontages, so I'm poking around in older photographs, looking at what I've done in the past with new eyes today. These two from New Mexico caught my attention, not for photomontages, necessarily, but because I never processed them. That happens all the time, doesn't it? You go somewhere, return home, process the most obvious, the "best," and then you move on to more current photographs, forgetting that maybe you have a treasure trove of older images, just waiting to be polished off, dusted off, and presented on the shelf.

Both of these pictures were taken in the little town of Cerrillos, on the Turquoise Trail south of Santa Fe. Old images. New eyes. Good stuff. ©Carol Leigh

Same birds, different day

A few days ago I downloaded the new version of Topaz Adjust, Topaz Adjust 4. I opened it up and it looked quite different and so set it aside until yesterday to play with it. Remember the high-key birds from a few days ago? The second photo shows you what I originally did. I then applied the Topaz Adjust 4 "Dark-Ghost" (or maybe it's "Ghost-Dark" -- can't remember) and cropped the photo down further as you can see in the first photo. It's an interesting look, isn't it? While this is not my style overall, this is kind of cool for using in my journal. (I printed it out in draft mode on regular photocopy paper and it looks rather good!)

There's no end to what we can do with the tools available (and the tools that just keep on coming). Stephan Dietrich sent me a link to something that he created using Topaz 4, and here's a link to his shot. Here's wishing everyone a very creative spring! ©Carol Leigh

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

High-key birdage

This bird was photographed in the fog to begin with, so it didn't take much to pare it down to next to nothing. The original version of this photo is on my blog here: ©Carol Leigh

Monday, March 1, 2010

More "stupid" bird photos

I'm having fun processing these bird photos. As I mentioned in a previous post, I inadvertently underexposed them by 2/3 stop. They were also in very blue, shady lighting. Here's how I created this effect: I imported the file into Adobe Camera Raw. I slid the "clarity" slider all the way to the left and the "exposure" slider all the way to the right. Brought them into Photoshop and that's it. Cloned a few errant rocks out of the way is all. Great photography? Nah. Fun? Yes! ©Carol Leigh

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Stupid is as stupid does . . .

It was quite the morning for stupidity. I mis-read the tide table, not only the high/low tide part, but also the date! So when I headed out for a quick walk on the beach this morning, I figured the tide was going out. Wrong. It was almost at its height! I managed to stay dry and cut my walk short. At least I wasn't out there during the tsunami! 

And then I inadvertently set my exposure compensation to underexpose by 2/3 of a stop. I was shooting in bluish shady light to begin with, so my photographs turned out not only blue, but dark blue. Well, good excuse to experiment in Photoshop, right?

I purposely blurred out this photo and overexposed it by 4 stops before doing anything else. And even though this photo was originally of maybe 10 birds, I clipped out just a corner of the photo and blew it up big. Now I've got two big, overexposed, blurred birds. And I like it! And it's given me some other ideas, other things to try with a variety of subjects. We shall see . . . And now, back to work. ©Carol Leigh

What's a daily photo blog without a daily photo?

All photographic energies right now are going into creating and explaining my photomontage process for my class that begins on Monday, so "regular" photography seems to be on hold for the moment as I continue to critique students' work in my current class, create videos, combine photos, create lessons, and more. My camera is getting a rest while I am getting none. Right now, however, I wouldn't want it any other way. To see more of my daily creations at the moment, click over to my photomontage blog. -- Carol Leigh

Sunday, February 21, 2010

No parking . . .

Lines in a local parking lot. Who says you have to go far to create interesting photographs? ©Carol Leigh

Saturday, February 20, 2010

A good morning on the beach

I've been really sick. And I'm sick of being sick. So today I pretended I was well and went to the beach to photograph. I think it worked. I faked myself out and am now ready to roll.

The bluffs that I photograph are incredibly colorful. Even more so when they're in the shade, which is when I do most of my shooting there. My "technique" is to walk along the shade of the bluffs on the first half of my walk and then move out into the sun on my way back to see what else I can find. That is, if it's a sunny day. But look at what I see in the shade! Look at the blue and orange colors. Is this not cool, or what? And wait until you see what I've done with all these various rock photos I've taken. It's astounding, if I do say so myself. And I do.

I found a feather -- a very good-looking one -- and photographed it on a rock, then stuck it in my hat to take home to shoot again. I checked my shadow on the sand from time to time to make sure it was still there, still sticking up, making me look like some homely, decidedly un-Disney-esque Pocahontas.

As I was about to leave the beach, I took a moment to photograph some of the what I call "agateers," folks out in droves slowly walking the beach, agate scoopers in hand, hunched over, bent over, eyes glued to the sand, looking for that glint of shiny translucence that is an agate. This was a good day for them, lots of sand had washed away, leaving a gravel-like surface that's a treasure trove for agate-seekers (of which I used to be one, until one day I wondered what the hell am I going to do with all these agates and have I officially turned into a beach geek? Will a metal detector be the next step for me?).

And so you see here a frizzy-haired woman with a stick, peering intently at the sand, looking like I will probably look when I'm REALLY old (like next month). And do you see the fishing boat just off the coast? It's a beautiful day here today. I'm giddy with the sun. And now back to doing critiques in my current online class . . . ©Carol Leigh

And the sea turned silver . . .

My last evening in southern California. A very pretty sunset in Encinitas as the sky briefly turned orange and then the sea turned silver. It was a great trip, and I thank everybody who joined me for making it so much fun. And to my gracious and oh-so-patient hosts, you made me feel right at home and so welcome. Thank you. ©Carol Leigh

Friday, February 19, 2010

Another drive-by

Shot through the windshield yesterday. 200mm lens, 1/4 second at f/25, ISO 100. ©Carol Leigh

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Photo surprises

I like to be surprised, and while riding as a passenger in a car, shooting through the window, I've got nothing BUT surprises! We had an appointment inland this morning and en route I photographed (1) the pink and blue colors of sunrise at Ona Beach, (2) the soft pastel pink, purple, and green colors of trees in the distance, and then (3) bright sunlight coming through a line of trees.

This is easy photography (well, sorta). I use a 70-200mm L lens most of the time, setting my camera on shutter priority, using a shutter speed of maybe 1/5 second, and an ISO of 100. For these photos I also had a polarizing filter on the lens. I'm shooting primarily through the windshield, although sometimes through a side window. It was a good morning today. ©Carol Leigh

Mission San Juan Capistrano

Always a pleasure to shoot. ©Carol Leigh

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Light and shadow

Outside Mission San Juan Capistrano, cactus plants grow against the mission wall. Bright sunlight created beautiful shadows which I incorporated into the compositions. And then inside the mission grounds, I liked the way bold shadows sliced across a warm yellow wall and added mystery to a deep-set window. ©Carol Leigh

Takes my breath away . . .

A morning spent at a nursery in eastern San Diego County always produces cool results, although most of my photos were primarily of texture and tree bark (don't ask). Old cars and trucks and their attendant rust and peeling paint make me hyperventilate. And a display of wrenches sits gleaming with beautiful patina on an old wooden shelf. Suitcases packed into the trunk of an old car provide a bit of color in an otherwise dark and monochromatic setting. I could live here. Easily. ©Carol Leigh

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Riding the train between San Diego and San Juan Capistrano

It was a challenge photographing from the train window, and most of what I shot was awful: burred images through a dirty window. But the view from the train is unique, and so (to me) the pictures were interesting anyway. Here the train is zooming over a lagoon near Carlsbad and I like what I was able to create -- scenery with a sense of movement as well as a bit of clarity. Hoo ha! ©Carol Leigh

Santa Fe Train Depot, San Diego

Train depot in San Diego, California. I used an 18-55mm lens and ISO settings ranging from 100 to 500. ©Carol Leigh