Multi-image Photography: Part IV – HDR

The secret of a good photograph—which, like a work of art, can have esthetic qualities—is its realism … Let us therefore leave art to artists and endeavor to create, with the means peculiar to photography and without borrowing from art, photographs which will last because of their photographic qualities.” — Albert Renger-Patzsch

High Dynamic Range photography combines multiple images with bracketed exposures to compress the brightness range of scenes where very bright areas and very dark exceed the capture range of the sensor.  In such scenes an average exposure might result in shadow or highlight areas without detail (highlights completely “blown out.)”

With film, if there were foreground/background brightness differences, such scenes might have been clumsily handled with a graduated neutral density filter (of course grad filters can also work for digital photography, but HDR is far more flexible).  These filters would have half their areas darkened by the equivalent of 1, 2 or 3 stops with a neutral gray that wouldn’t change colors or tones, and the remainder clear.  If you had for example a sunset that was sufficiently bright that a proper exposure left the foreground dark, you could use this filter to hold back light from the sky and even out the exposure.  This worked fairly well where you had a straight horizon, but not so well in more complex situations.  Another solution to long tonal range was to “expose for the shadows and develop for the highlights,” which worked well for black and white film but not so much for transparencies. Using flash or fill flash and dodging and burning in the darkroom were other means of handling scenes with long tonal values.

One of the draw backs of HDR is that the subject and camera need to be still or you capture the movement through the bracket set.  This is called ghosting. A common ghosting problem for example is the movement of clouds in the sky.  Several of the programs that do HDR can now handle some ghosting by allowing you to pick a particular exposure from the set to use for areas that exhibit movement.

A typical DSLR sensor can capture a range of about 9 stops.  Black and white negative film can capture about 13 stops and a view through a window from a dim interior to bright sunlight would be about 12-14 stops.  On the other side of the process, the best possible paper is going to able to portray only about 7 stops (Freeman).  So somewhere in the process there is need to compress the brightness  range of high dynamic range images.

When planning to shoot for HDR processing it is very helpful if you have tripod so that the images, especially those with the longest shutter speeds can be properly aligned.  If you don’t have a tripod, increase your ISO if possible so that even the longest exposures will be steady (this will add noise to your darkest exposure).  Bracing against a solid object such as a fence post or tree can also help to avoid camera movement.  Setting up an auto bracket now becomes more important so you don’t move the camera to make adjustments, but can just press the shutter the requisite number of times.

Set your exposure to manual and adjust the exposure using only the shutter speed.  If you change the f-stop, the foreground/background focus may change, decreasing sharpness in the final image or making alignment more difficult.

The number of exposures will be dependent on the total range over which you make your exposures and the steps in between. Being sure to fully capture shadows and highlights will determine the range.  Usually steps of 2 stops will be sufficient.  You can start with your shortest exposures (the histogram is bunched to the left) so that the rightmost histogram values are to the left of the center of the axis.  Lengthen your shutter speed in two stop increments (expose to the right) until the histogram is bunched up on the right and the leftmost values are to the right of the center of the axis.

To facilitate processing in Photoshop, I shoot my hand at the beginning and end of each sequence to make it easier to see where the sequence begins and ends.  When naming the files I use a scene name, followed by the number of the HDR sequence for that scene, followed by a letter for the frame sequence.  This can be done automatically in Batch Rename under the tools menu. So for example The first pan of a river gorge scene might be RiverGorgeHDR1a, RiverGorgeHDR1b, RiverGorgeHDR1c. If I shot a second pan sequence it would be RiverGorgeHDR2a, RiverGorgeHDR2b, etc.  When naming the final merged image it would be, for example, River GorgeHDR2, which would enable to go back to the original HDR sequence of images if I ever needed to.

I usually shoot in RAW, so to begin I select the images in Bridge and double click on one to open them all in camera RAW.  I make lens and chromatic aberration corrections from the lens corrections tab.  I then make other global changes such as exposure, saturation or clarity. I don’t make local corrections such as spot removal. Then “select all” on the left and then synchronize. Click OK if you have not made local corrections; if you have, just unclick those such as spot removal or local corrections. This will make the same changes to all of the images so they remain consistent.  Then in Photoshop click Alt-open to Open copies.  Photoshop will open all of the images.

When that is complete, File > Automate > Merge to HDR. Click “Add Open Files.” “Attempt to Automatically Align Source Images” should be selected by default and click OK.  Photoshop will open a dialog box with the merged image and the component images across the bottom indicating the relative exposure.

In the upper left corner is a check box to “Remove Ghosts” – click that because even on a tripod there might be slight movement from the mirror slap or pressing the shutter. Just below the Ghost checkbox it will provide options for Mode:  8, 16 or 32 bit.  I generally leave it on 16, unless my camera only took 8-bit images, then there is no advantage to 16 bit.  Next to mode are the tone mapping options.  Local adaptation is generally most useful and comes up by default.  Highlight compression produces a relatively flat image that might be useful in some instances with additional processing after generating the HDR.  Under Tone and Detail I usually tweak the detail up a bit and hold off on Gamma and Exposure until I am done with “Curve.”  The curve can be used like a curve adjustment layer.  If you click on “Advanced” you can use simple sliders to adjust Shadows, Highlights, Vibrance and Saturation.  Click OK to create the merged image, and editing according to your own workflow from there.

After Google bought NIK, they offered a good deal on a package of NIK software that included HDREfexPro 2 which also offers HDR and tone mapping tools.  Again open your files and make global corrections.  Open HDREfexPro 2 and click on “Add open files.”  Smart Object will be checked by default.  If you want to generate the HDR as a Smart Object then click on “Merge dialog.” However, as a Smart Object you won’t have access to curves, contrast or an overlay adjustment layers in the final HDR image.  Since there were relatively few changes to make in the HDR dialog, I would not generally expect to go back, and wouldn’t open as a Smart Object so I have more flexibility for subsequent adjustments.

The ensuing dialog has some similarities to PS, with a large rendering of the HDR image and small images showing the range of images used.  An option is not offered for different tone operators, but an option is provided for correcting chromatic aberrations which can occur as a result of the tone mapping.  If you see aberrations, correct then, otherwise click “Create HDR.” HDR Efex Pro gave a much different result then PS, with a much flatter image and both the shadows and highlights brought toward the midtones.  I thought the image less interesting than the PS result, but could make subsequent changes. Clicking OK opened the image back in PS as a 32-bit TIFF file.

RiverGorgeHDR5d

This is the best single image corrected with typical local and global controls, including selection and darkening of the sky, overlay, etc.

RiverGorgeHDRPS

This image is the Photoshop HDR result.

 

 

 

RiverGorgeHDNIK (1)

This is the NIK HDR result, and

RiverGorgeHDNIKMOD

This is the NIK HDR modified by normal workflow after generation of the HDR. You can see that the detail in the shadows is increased for both the cliff and the river.

 

 

Michael Freeman, Mastering HDR Photography, Amphoto Books, 2008)

Multi-image Photography: Part III – Panoramas

…to see the statement of intent that resides in natural form.”  —  John Szarkowski describing the work of Edward Weston in Looking at Photographs.

The world just does not fit conveniently into the format of a 35mm camera.” – W. Eugene Smith

Panoramas are my favorite multi-image approach.  I frequently shoot landscapes and very often the landscape elements are not consistent with camera formats (aspect ratios). Panoramas don’t need to be large numbers of frames; sometimes just 2 frames with an over lap of 20% will be exactly what you need.  Panoramas are relatively easy to produce if you remember three things:

(1)    Level your tripod and your camera.  My tripod has a little circular level that helps a lot.  There are also leveling heads that can simplify the process instead of alternately adjusting each leg.  To level my D200 I use a little bubble level that fits in the hot shoe; it works great.  My D800E has an attitude indicator in the camera that I find convenient because I can then have a GPS unit on the hot shoe, so I use that instead.

(2)    Focus and exposure must be on manual.  You need to set your best average focus point for the entire sequence and not have auto focus decide what is best or the stitching will be obvious; adjust your depth of field appropriately.  You also want a consistent exposure, so go to manual exposure.  Watch out if you frequently use a polarizer.  As you change your camera angle relative to the sun, the polarizing effect will change as well.  You can end up with a distinct change in exposure from one shot to the next, especially for skies.

(3)    Find the nodal point (aka no-parallax point) in your lens.  For telephoto lenses this is generally near the central point of the lens or about where the diaphragm is. For wide angle lenses it gets more complicated rapidly as you go wider and the nodal point can change with the angle of incidence (the amount of rotation).  Finding the nodal point is more critical for scenes that are relatively close.  If you don’t rotate around the no-parallax point, your images may not line up very well. To rotate around the nodal point, long plates that fit an Arca Swiss mount are helpful, so you can slide the camera back and forth along the lens axis until you are at the nodal point.  With my 70-200 mm lens, which has a mounting foot, I am very close to the nodal point without much modification. Usually the images align very well.  With my 24-70 mm which doesn’t have a foot, aligning the images is almost impossible if rotating around the camera itself. The less confident you are about the nodal point, the more space you should leave around your subject, so that if the alignment is off you will still have room to crop.

A web search for “finding the nodal point of a lens” will turn up numerous descriptions that don’t need to be repeated here, but very briefly, two vertical objects are set up, one closer the other further away, that align along the axis of the lens. A telephone pole and building edge can work.  As you rotate the lens around the nodal point, they should remain aligned.  If they don’t then shift the camera back and forth along the lens axis using a long attachment plate, until they remain aligned.

West Quoddy Shore Maine

More often than not, I do a  horizontal pan to capture the full scope and grandeur of a landscape, but I do occasional verticals as well.  Verticals are a little harder

Panoramic view of the tundra in Rocky Mountain State Park

because there is nothing to keep the camera aligned as you tilt upward, instead of rotating with your ball head.

Lower Falls at Hills Creek, WVYou can also do a horizontal panorama with your camera mounted vertically as I did with this image of the “Gossips” in Arches National Park.   Sometimes you don’t need to add much and just two images are sufficient The Gossips, Arches NP, UT

to get what you want with the appropriate foreground and background.

I always rotate left to right so that the frames are taken in the sequence in which they will be stitched, although the program can manage either way.  I usually overlap each frame by 20-25% and as I rotate I try to make sure that right side of preceding frame and the left side of the suceeding frame have some distinctive structure to overlap.

To facilitate processing in Photoshop, I shoot my hand at the beginning and end of each sequence to make it easier to see where the sequence begins and ends.  When naming the files I use a scene name, followed by the number of the panorama for that scene, followed by a letter for the frame sequence.  This can be done automatically in Batch Rename under the tools menu. So for example The first pan of a tundra scene might be TundraPan1a, TundraPan1b, TundraPan1c. If I shot a second pan sequence it would be TundraPan2a, TundraPan 2b, etc.

I usually shoot in RAW, so to begin I select the images in Bridge and double click on one to open them all in camera RAW.  I make lens and chromatic aberration corrections from the lens corrections tab.  I then make other global changes such as exposure, saturation or clarity. I don’t make local corrections such as spot removal. Then “select all” on the left and then synchronize. Click OK if you have not made local corrections; if you have just unclick those such as spot removal or local corrections. This will make the same changes to all of the images so they remain consistent.  Then click Alt-open to Open copies.

Photoshop will open all of the images.  When that is complete, File > Automate > Photomerge. Click “Add Open Files.” Generally the auto layout should work well, but you can experiment. Blend images will be selected by default and click OK.  If your lens has some vignetting that can show up as darker areas where the frames were stitched.  If it was not corrected by lens corrections, you can also click for vignette removal.  Photoshop will automatically place each image on a separate layer with appropriate masks to align them.  I then make sure they are all selected and go to Layer > Flatten image.  I then close the component images to not take up memory (don’t close “untitled panorama or you will have to do it all over again). Often there are slight inconsistencies in alignment so I crop them out, then process according to my normal workflow.

Keep in mind that panoramas also increase the file size of the combined file and give you more pixels to create large images.  The ultimate is the GigaPan that automatically rotates and lowers to capture dozens of images that can be combined to produce sufficient resolution for wall size images.

Keep panoramas in mind when out in the field.  They provide the means to more

NizhoniPtOverlookPan7

accurately capture your vision in some situations by changing the aspect ratio of your final image, rather than cropping, letting you keep the resolution you want, and capturing a scene as you see it without the perspective changes inherent in a wide angle lens.

Friday:  HDR (High Dynamic Range)

Multi-image Photography: Part II – Composites

I am drawn to art that challenges one’s sense of reality. – Jerry Uelsmann, from a show at Michener Museum in Doylestown, PA

Compositing images, i.e., combining images or parts of images, taken at different times or in different locations, gives the photographer an unlimited number of components with which to write a new story, imagined only in the photographer’s mind and not seen until the photographer assembles the pieces. The images can run the gamut from extremely surrealistic to constructed but believable to apparently realistic.

It can be very difficult to tell a story with a single image or the story may express a limited number of emotions or ideas. By compositing images, more complex stories can be told more clearly and effectively.  Conversely, incongruous juxtaposition can create a mystery or riddle, a pun or joke for the viewer to unfold individually.

Selection tools, layers and masks in Photoshop greatly simplify the construction of composite digital files in comparison to analog images.  This is a very simple composite where the dark brown sand was replaced with a mirrored pattern taken from a rock at the Baltimore Conservatory.

RockPatterns009_SurfAtAssateague010

The warm pattern picks up some of the warm colors in the late afternoon clouds.  Some bubbles from the original image were added back on top of the pattern. This is a more interesting picture than either of the components separately, yet was a very simple selection and substitution.

In the field I liked the appearance of the barn, and it was made more interesting by fog. On the computer,

FoggyBarn (9)

the fog wasn’t as strong as it appeared in the field and making the fog more apparent required an uncomfortable (for me) reduction of contrast.   By combining the barn with two other images from the same trip, I more effectively expressed my feelings about the barn and, more broadly, about the trip.

Using very simple masking to paint out parts of each image and adjusting the opacity of the individual layers I created this composite reflecting my experience.The background layer is the barn, the middle layer is the spider web and the tree is on top.

This next image is still more complex and came out of my daily commute along Fulton Ave. and Monroe Street in west Baltimore.  Those routes are a complex mix of renovated row homes and burned out buildings.  This composite tries to capture

Plants in windows composite.

some of those contradictions with a wild plant growing out of the completely absent window of a burned out building, juxtaposed with a new, well cared for apartment with bright flowers on the window sill.  The chairs, some leaning against the building in denial while others are open and welcoming.

Finally, trying a little harder at social commentary the large background sign advertising free, presumably healthy,

FoodDraft2

food for children and teens, competing against the ads for relatively expensive crabs, alcohol and confections.

Painters always have the option of creating from their imagination.  Photographers now can also fully exercise their imagination with relative ease by creating composite images. As you pursue your usual photographic approach think about collecting images that might not work on their own, but could be combined with other images for a strong and interesting composition.  Patterns of all sorts are often useful, as are relatively simple images that provide a back drop or context for a second or third image.  Books that I found to be helpful include “Photoshop Compositing Secrets” by Matt Kloskowski and “Adobe Photoshop Master Class” by John Paul Caponigro.

Jerry Uelsmann is a master at surrealistic composites, and he does it the hard way, all analog with multiple enlargers, but his images can really get the creative juices flowing, and many of his images are a lot of fun.

Wednesday: Panoramas

Multi-image Photography: Part I – Multiple Exposures

SingleBDMod (1)Those who danced were thought to be quite insane by those who could not hear the music.  – Angela Monet

Multiple image photography has been around for a long time but with digital cameras and software it has become much easier and more flexible to combine images digitally.  Some examples include:

  • Multiple exposures on a single frame.
  • Combining multiple images or parts of images in post-processing (composites).
  • Panoramas.
  • High dynamic range images (HDR).
  • Stacked focus.

It has been my experience that many photographers are aware of the various multi-image techniques but often don’t think of them as solutions or opportunities in the field unless they have specifically gone out to use that effect.  For example, a photographer may switch to a wider angle lens to capture a full scene rather than try a panorama.  Of course the wide angle will give a very different perspective and a panorama may not be the desired solution in some cases, but in others it may provide a different and creative approach. If the only reason for going to a wider angle lens was to include more of the scene, then a panorama may be appropriate. A photographer may also wish to play with creative approaches just for the fun of it — just to see what you get!

Multiple exposures are often used to express motion or to create abstract patterns. Making multiple exposures and moving slightly between each exposure can really

Fall sumac

emphasize and intensify colors. The image on the left shows a single exposure of some bright red sumac in October in Nebraska against a still green backdrop of green leave.

Fall Sumac

By taking multiple exposures the red and green are converted to masses of intense color creating a very different effect.

 

Moving the camera up and down  for multiple images creates a streak effect particularly suited to

Vertical reflections

vertical subjects like trees and reflections.

Finally, you can obtain an interesting effect with the camera and subject stationary, by de-focusing a second exposure to create a fuzzy aura around your subject, like I did for this orchid. Generally the smaller the f-stop opening

Orchid double exp

(larger numerical value) the more you will need to de-focus because of greater the depth of field.  You can also control sharpness by, for example, shooting 3 images rather than 2, with the first two sharply focused and only the third de-focused.  This would probably work best on a whole field of flowers with fairly bright light, but being November it is difficult to find that field in Maryland.

Multiple exposures also provide a means to composite in camera.  For example, if you are out with a friend you can make a double exposure of that friend coming and going, by taking the first exposure when (s)he is walking in one direction and the second exposure as (s)he is walking in the opposite direction.

In each case you will want to experiment with the number of exposures you take.  Also, as indicated above you can influence the outcome by biasing toward one exposure/focus combination or another (i.e., taking several images at one setting and changing exposure, location, focus, f-stop or other factor to control your final image).

If your camera supports multiple exposures, you may find the options in the shooting menu (or equivalent, depending on your camera).  You will be able to set the number of exposures and turn gain to auto or off.  Auto gain, which is desirable in most cases will automatically adjust your exposure for the number of images that you have set so that the overall image will be properly exposed after the indicated number of exposures have been made. Each image will not be saved separately; you will get only one image after the indicated number of exposures have been made. In general, you will probably want fewer than ten images.  Of course, this type of multi-imaging does not require software since the camera is doing all of the work.

Plan creative sessions using multiple exposures, but also watch for opportunities to use this technique as part of your regular photography.  Situations where it might be relevant include street scenes with people walking by, portraits of the same individual in different or opposite positions or planned compositing in camera.

A skillful use of multiple exposures:  http://www.mymodernmet.com/profiles/blogs/reinhold-adscheid-multiple-exposure-chrono-chorotic-photographs

Next week: composites.

Minimal Photography

Image

…more importantly, simplicity makes things more memorable and useful.  It takes a lot of work to make complex subjects simple, and it well worth the effort.  – David du Chemin

Last week the Baltimore Camera Club had a “themed” print competition:  “minimal photography,” which was not further defined.  I checked on the web for a definition and found it was pretty diffuse and vaguely defined, both in words and by example.  One mentioned component was the use of minimal equipment.  As I don’t believe the equipment used is really relevant to the content of a photo, I sort of ignored that one.  I defined it for my purposes to mean an image that is elegant in its simplicity, having minimal detail that yet conveys meaning, and/or a straightforward composition of masses or colors – a visual haiku. Still pretty mushy, but I had a few images that I thought qualified.  We were able to submit three color and three monochrome images. These are my six, one of which took first in novice color and another took third in monochrome.  Feel free to guess which ones placed, and please, please, submit comments on the images.

Dinghy in fogDouble-crested Cormorant

Chincoteague PinesPaintedDesert029

Divi-Divi Tree, Aruba

Abstract of rock formations

An-My Lê At the BMA

It isn’t what a picture is of, it is what it is about.  John Szarkowski

On Oct. 12, 2013 I posted my thoughts on a conversation between BMA photography curator Ann Shafer and An-My Lê whose large format images are currently on display at the BMA.  Ms. Shafer also provided insight to Ms. Lê’s work in a presentation to the Baltimore Camera Club.  Sufficiently intrigued I went to see the exhibit on Nov. 6.  Despite the quality of digital projection, there is nothing like seeing the prints close-up and in person.  I got a very different impression at the museum compared to seeing the images on the screen.

The museum notes commented on the images’ authenticity in comparison to what is typically portrayed by Hollywood:  “scenes that show the activity surrounding combat rather than the combat itself.”  Also noted was the “global reach of US Armed Forces.”

The latter was most prominent in “Manning the Rail” which captured sailors in close, but also dozens of ships fading into the misty distance as if they went on forever. One of the great advantages of the view camera preferred by Ms. Lê is effective control of both depth of field and perspective and both seemed characteristic of and key to the impact of several of the displayed images.

In “Ice Operations, Arctic Wars USS New Hampshire” a submarine at the surface is basically embedded in the ice.  The feeling of the cold was countered by the low, warm early morning or late afternoon light.  The soft warm light was in contrast to the sailors in their dark, vaguely threatening environmental suits.  Perhaps it was the contrast or the content, but I found this to be one of the more appealing images.

Ms. Lê captured a “Sea Knight Helicopter” in flight so perfectly it is amazing.  Wheels of the helicopter were right on horizon, sharply focused, perfectly centered, flying toward the viewer with a little of ship showing on lower left.  Amazing luck or craft or combination of both, the oncoming helicopter was impactful, but I cannot characterize the feeling effectively:  awe, threat or rescue, this image leaves the assessment to the viewer.

In FOD (Foreign Object Detection) Walk USS Pelieu the control of perspective to create an almost geological impression of the huge superstructure with rails, catwalks and domes looming over people on deck as if the tiny humans were walking under an eroded cliff face.  A propeller close up on the left side of the image continued that impression as if there were huge boulders on the opposite side of the canyon.

There were four images taken at 29 Palms in the California desert. I felt that these images would seem work-a-day, mundane and unremarkable to soldiers participating, but gives the outsider a view of the day-to-day of soldiers, and seemed somewhat energetic in spite of the content.

Four images from Viet-Nam 1994-1998 to some extent reminded me of William Eggleston: pictures out of time, mundane.  Folks (a family?) near a duck pond; kids playing soccer by apartment building, clothes out to dry; kids flying kites in a park.  The images captured a slice of life in Viet-Nam during that period.

The museum is free, parking on the street is usually available, and the other noteworthy, well-crafted images are worth seeing in person.

 

Fall

Fall MapleThe tree has been green all summer, but now it tries red…copper… even gold.  Soon leaf after leaf will be discarded, there will be nothing but bare tree, soon it will be almost time to start over again. — Linda Pastan, Carnival Evening, excerpted from Ars Poetica

This sugar maple has grown tremendously since we purchased the house more than 20 years ago.  More often then not, it presents glorious fall color.

Towson Arts Collective

When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be—  Lao Tzu

The Towson Arts Collective is really moving up in the world.  I attended the opening of their new space at 40 West Chesapeake Ave. in Towson this weekend. The 3600 square foot space is great!  Individual membership is just $35 and gives an artist member access to two member shows each year. In addition, they consider proposals every other month and provide classes.  I submitted a proposal for a single class on National Park Service Artist Residencies. Let them know if you are interested. I will also be working on an exhibition proposal. Also a good place to connect and network.

Apparently the move to larger quarters was made possible by a grant from the estate of Ellene “Brit” Christiansen. It is an interesting story available at EBC Memorial Fund. Even just looking at her pictures, an incredible spirit seemed to shine from her.

Artists U

You empower someone to your level of trust in them.”  — Craig Rogers in a management workshop.  Eskin Corollary:  this applies to trust in your self as well; empower yourself.

Last weekend I attended Artists U in Baltimore.  Part of our session related to strategic planning and part of the planning was to revisit what you wrote a week later.  So here I am — revisiting.

Andrew Simonet was our workshop leader and is the Founder and Director of Artists U in Philadelphia. The free, Friday evening and all day Saturday class was about building a balanced, productive and sustainable life as an artist.  It is a grassroots, artist-to-artist effort to help artists make a better life for themselves – to offer skills and tools to help overcome many of the challenges faced by young artists working to establish themselves. In addition to Andrew there were three facilitators and 23 artists (including me) from a very broad array of disciplines.  We discussed strategic planning, finances, time management and developing an Artist Statement.

Most of the artists were younger than me, but there was one other “mature” artist as well.  I did not feel at all out of place — the workshop is built on foundation of being inclusive and all of my classmates were friendly and welcoming. However, some topics were more helpful to me than others.  Being retired, the financial issues facing many young artists were less relevant to me — although being paid for my photography is gratifying and can be considered a source of “feedback” on how successful I was at conveying the ideas I thought I captured.

The three areas I found most helpful were time management, writing an artist statement, and strategic planning. Taking the last, first, I already had a plan but this class provided great motivation to review, revise and update the plan.  As a retiree, it is easy to be lax about time management because there is no supervisor setting deadlines, so it is even more critical that I set a consistent work schedule and goals with time lines.  We talked about goals as being personal, professional and artistic, recognizing that some goals would fit in more than one category. So my first three in the professional category were:  (1) set a more consistent work schedule, (2) minimum of three blogs per week (starting here and we will see how well I succeed), and (3) have work hung in at least 6 exhibits in 2014.

We worked on artist statements in a group first, then in pairs.  I had been nibbling around the edges of starting a new project that recognized the art and design of nature as seen in macro- and microscopic subjects.  Usually artist statements seem to me to be tortured post-project rationalizations for the body of work — this time I actually liked what I wrote.

There will be a followup, one-on-one with Andrew or one of the facilitators later this month so another short-term goal is to work on and revise my plan with specifics to discuss at that time. There may be an opportunity for the class to get together again for an evaluation of progress or more advanced topics which I hope happens and that I can attend.

Bottom line:  if you are an artist, young or old, who believes that you can improve your life as an artist, you will likely find this to be a helpful opportunity.  Thanks, Andrew for doing this.

PS Some additional quotes I thought were relevant to the course:

I do really good work, but only when I’m working within a structure.  Everyone is like that. You just have to practice discipline and routine so that you can create your own structure.” – Humans of NY

“Focus is a matter of deciding what things you’re not going to do.” — John Carmack

“Striving for excellence motivates you; striving for perfection is demoralizing.” – Harriet Braiker

“To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.” — Joseph Chilton Pierce

“The essential part of creativity is not being afraid to fail.” — Edwin H. Land

Fail. Fail often and fail cheaply. This is the very best gift the web has given to people who want to bootstrap their way into a new business. –Seth Godin

“You’ve got to think about big things while you’re doing small things, so that all the small things go in the right direction.” – Alvin Toffler

…be happy wherever you are, with whatever you’ve got, but always hungry for the thrill of creating art, of being missed if you are gone, and most of all, doing important work. —  Seth Godin

A big part of doing your work is defending your time and your attention so you can do your work. —  Seth Godin