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Copyright, All Rights Reserved. All content on this site is copyrighted, Dana Worley, as of the date of posting. Reuse or redistribution of this content is strictly prohibited without express written permission of the author.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Rugged Solitude

lighthouse at Lybster Harbor
Lighthouse, Lybster Harbor
In the summer of 2017 and again in 2019, I was fortunate enough to spend time at North Lands Creative with 14 other glass artists. North Lands Creative is a glass studio in the small village of Lybster, on the east coast of Caithness in northern Scotland. At the feet of this quiet village lies the North Sea. On a clear day, you can look across the water and barely make out wind turbines and oil platforms on the horizon. These mirages in the distance hint at the stark contrast between Lybster's quiet harbor and the industrialization of what is recognized to be, at times, one of our most unforgiving natural environments.

While I was at a glass studio with glass artists, my time at North Lands was not about "making glass", but about trying to understand who I am as an artist. Our days were filled with creative exercises and  presentations; field trips to ancient cairns, churches, and castles; shared meals, shared tears, and shared dreams. Like the contrast of Lybster and its sea, it was a time of closeness, as well as a time of quiet inner reflection.

rocky beach of Lybster Harbor
Lybster Harbor
When I think about North Lands, I think about the warm welcome from people in the village, the amazing staff at the studio, my fellow artists, and the women who fed me crab rolls and tea for lunch at the Waterlines cafe (almost daily!). I think about the gravel shortcut to the harbor and the old wooden boat along that path, the view of the Caithness coast from a boat, and the steep steps down to Shelligoe beach. I think about my last day in Lybster, sitting on the rocky shore of the harbor, sketching while the tide slowly crept to my feet. I think about returning to the harbor that same evening before our closing dinner, for one last look at the sea.

I have just started down the path of learning what I want from my art and, as the cliche goes,"finding my artistic voice". I suppose it is something that you never really figure out, because if you do, what then? I think creativity is truly about the journey, not the destination.

After my last trip to Lybster, someone asked me what I liked about it so much. I thought for a moment and then answered, "The rugged solitude". While I don't know where my journey will lead me, I have a feeling I'll find my way back again to that quiet harbor on the sea.

Until then, Dana

"Selfie" outside the North Lands Studio

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Hacker's Guide to Art Glass Photography

Coneflower art glass vase (Dana Worley)
Coneflower art glass vase (Dana Worley)
As an artist, it's important that you have nice photographs of your art. You may need photographs for your web site, for jury submission, or for promoting your art on social media. Even if you are a hobbyist just starting out, photos are great for looking back to track progress.

I often hear glass artists say that they don't have good photos of their art because they don't have the right camera, don't have a photo booth setup, or simply don't have the time. Well, we're glass artists, right? We're creatives! We're spending our time and hard-earned money on supplies, equipment, and creating! That doesn't mean, however, that we can't get a little creative when it comes to photographing our work.

A few years ago I purchased a popup photo booth to use with my digital SLR camera. I bought two standing lamps so I would have adequate light. Unfortunately, the booth takes time to set up, and I still haven't made the time to learn how to use a digital SLR in something other than auto mode. Photographing my art was a chore and I was not getting photographs of most of my creations.

It occurred to me that I was over-thinking things. I didn't need a photo booth and high-end camera. The critical things I needed were a clean background, good lighting, and a camera -- any camera (I've heard it said that the best camera is the one you have with you). Following is a quick and inexpensive Hacker's setup for art glass photography.

  • Camera: I've found that cell phone cameras do a good job of adjusting for white balance, and most phones these days come with software that will let you make quick adjustments to lighting and contrast (many have preset filters you can choose from). Also, the resolution of cell phone cameras is more than adequate for most of our uses. 
  • Lighting: When it comes to lighting, it's helpful if all of your lighting has the same color temperature. Color temperature!? The short version of that is if you want to photograph in sunlight, use only sunlight. Same goes for LED or other bulbs. If you want to use a 5K LED, use only 5K LEDs. Try not to mix light sources and you'll have better outcomes.
  • Background: A piece of foam core board and a white or grey drape provide a nice platform with a background that will make sure your art is the center of attention. For the drape in the photos below, I've used one of the backgrounds that came with my photo booth, but any white or grey cloth -- or even a roll of white paper -- will work (just be careful of shiny or textured surfaces, which will cause reflection or odd patterns to show up in the photos). 

So here's the Hacker's setup I use in my studio:

I now have no excuse for not taking photographs of my work. I hope you'll be able to use this information or come up with your own hack so you are getting great photos of your work!

Happy fusing, Dana

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