Sunday, October 30, 2011

Connecticut/Rhode Island Photographs Part 1

Over this past summer, I got the opportunity to travel with my family to see Connecticut and Rhode Island. It was absolutely beautiful, and, for a great many number of reasons, I will never forget my week there. It was great bonding for my family, the first time my eight-year-old sister and grandmother got to see the ocean, the first time any of us have ever been in either of those states, and, sadly, the last vacation I will ever have with my mother.

We did many various site seeings, such as a Rhode Island lighthouse cruise, a tour of the William Gillette castle, and a trip to two Indian casinos (though I was too young to gamble!). Oh, and, of course, a relaxing day spent at the Atlantic Ocean! Because there are so many pictures, I decided to split them up into two posts. This one will include pictures of the lighthouses, oceans, and a few extra pictures that don't necessarily fit into any of the categories. The next post will have some of the Indian Casinos and of the castle.

Taking pictures on a moving cruise ship was not easy. It was moving fast (it'd slow down for a few seconds when a lighthouse or such was coming up, but not much!), the ship rocked and swayed and thus balance was hard to maintain, and there were a great deal of people on the ship that you had to angle your camera around. Also, on this voyage, I learned that my camera has an awful zoom, so I couldn't always get as close as I wished. What I ended up having to do was crop a great deal of the picture so the main focus appears closer. However, the down side to doing this is that it may appear blurry if you crop too much.

As for taking pictures at a fast moving speed, play with the settings on your camera. There should be one for action or a moving subject. I found this very helpful. And remember, take MORE THAN ONE picture! I must have taken fifteen or so of each lighthouse just to ensure that one would look decent. When you're on a cruise, or taking a picture of something that is moving away, you don't have much time to check and see if the picture you took was okay. You just have to keep snapping.

To the left is the Dutch Island Lighthouse.

 My intention while editing this picture was to make it look very old and very eerie. Even before it was black and white, it reminded me of that lighthouse from The Ring. I'm not sure why, but I wanted to bring out that perspective through the editing.

To the right is the Beavertail Lighthouse. As stated before, it helps to have an excellent zoom on your camera. Also, take note of the waves clashing against the rocks. That adds a little detail that may be overlooked, but it makes a better picture overall because you are capturing motion. When you take more than one picture of the same thing, you notice that they aren't always exactly alike. In other pictures I took of this lighthouse, not all of them had waves crashing. That's the beauty of the ocean; it never sits still and is always changing. Once again, and I know this sounds repetitive, take more than one picture!

To the right is the Plum Beach Lighthouse. A little interesting fact is that it is actually solar powered. The bridge in the background isn't merely just a background, but it also contributes to the whole photo; it provides line --one of the elements of art. Take advantage of these natural elements that present themselves! Also, it would appear in this photo that it was dusk, or at least not very sunny. That, in fact, is not true. It was so sunny that I got a horrible sun burn! With editing, you can alter the lightness and darkness and you can fool the viewers into thinking it is a false time of day. On a side note, isn't it beautiful how the sunlight makes the water sparkle? You could even enhance these highlights through editing.
To the left is a small lighthouse, and I'm actually unsure of the name. If I remember correctly, it wasn't one of the main lighthouses on the tour, just an extra side bonus. I could have waited for the boat to pass (and I actually had a couple pictures without the boat), but I felt it added to the picture. It may be distracting from the main focus of the lighthouse, but I guess that is all a matter of opinion. In meaning, what would a lighthouse be without a boat? Thus, I felt the two went together nicely. This is an example of the art principle unity. It's not just a picture of a lighthouse, and it is not just a picture of a boat; both are present to represent a whole.

Below is a picture of the Wale Rock Lighthouse remains. It was destroyed by a hurricane and never rebuilt.
Again, it looks like dusk with the pink sky, but it really isn't. It's all in the magic of editing. Notice also the waves crashing and the glimmers in the water. As stated in a prior blog post, the focus of the picture does not have to be centered.

To the right is Fort Adams. Though it is not a lighthouse, it was still highlighted on the cruise.  It was an extraordinarily long building (the second largest masonry fortification in America), and hard to capture all in one frame. So I decided to take the part I could in an angle. The majority of the picture is sky and water, the main subject is still Fort Adams.

To the right is an under view of one of the Newport Pell Bridge. I find this picture extremely interesting because it is not often you get to see under a bridge that goes across the ocean; you mostly just see the top you drive over or the side. Upward angles make great photos. 
To the right is the Jamestown-Verrazano Bridge. This picture is pretty monochromatic --it is all shades blue and then white. Though the bridge, of course, is actually gray, it was altered just by adjusting the color temperature. I also think that the slanting of the bridge added a nice touch to the picture, though that was a completely independent factor; it was going to be slanted whether I wanted that or not. 

To the right is the same bridge as directly above, but the view from on top. I thought it was the neatest thing that the bridge had hills. I was amazed by the architecture. My mother, on the other hand, wouldn't open her eyes while we drove on these bridges because she's afraid of driving over water. 

Maybe it is just because I've always been easily entertained by the little things, but I feel it's important to not overlook anything. For instance, even though the cruise was for the extraordinary and extravagant lighthouses and buildings, I saw these ordinary water buoys and I thought they'd make excellent pictures. The one on the left is very dull, and the water is gray. It is also only of the buoy floating in the water. The one on the right, however, is bright and vibrant while the background of the city behind it is dull colored. These color schemes were intended, and it goes to show that no matter how simple the subject is, a variety of things can be done.

To the left is an inflatable tow boat and I thought it was the absolute cutest thing I have ever seen. I loved the bright red, and that contributed to the vintage factor I was trying to bring out in quite a few of these pictures. This boat makes me think of the original black and white Mickey Mouse where he is steering the boat. Again, like The Ring lighthouse, I'm not quite sure why. Also, the vibrant greens really enhance the photo nicely. Because both colors are vibrant, and both are complementary colors, they combine nicely. Below is the same picture, but cropped and in black and white. Because it is zoomed in and color is out of the equation, you notice more detail such as the waves or the texture of the rocks.
 In the picture to the right, it is the same tow boat but closer. Now you can read some of what is on the boat and see more detail. I still kept the colors vibrant. Also, I enjoy how you can see the boat actually lifting off of the water from the waves. Movement in photographs can be wonderful.
To the left is a sea of boats. During the cruise, we got caught in some boat traffic. It was an inconvenience that turned perfect because the ship was now only going 5mph and there was much to look at and enjoy. The closest boat is the U.S. Coast Guard. The other boats provide a nice background for the Guard.

Back on solid ground, these are pictures I took before and after the cruise. This is a picture of a stone boardwalk for either walking across or fishing. It provides a nice line. Also, I wanted a bit of the grass in the picture to provide more layers. 

The picture to the left is the same boardwalk, but I moved over a few feet to incorporate more plants and a rock. The tall plant on the right side serves as a sort of border and provides layering. The trick to taking this picture and the one above was getting low to the ground as if I was someone -or something- very small and I had to peek over and around the plants to see the ocean and boardwalk. It lures you in and the ocean and boardwalk seem like it's something secret and hidden, but you've just discovered it. 

On the back of the cruise ship, there was an American flag that hung down. I incorporated this into the picture of the ocean for a patriotic spirit. Being in one of the original thirteen colonies already made me feel very patriotic as it was, so I thought this picture would be a nice reminder of that feeling.
The picture to the right has a vintage feel to it that I absolutely love. Everything is colored a bit more dull than it actually was, and the fencing adds for a great design. The brown bottom of the photo is actually just the rusty dock to board the ship, but it almost looks like a sandy beach or dirt.
To the right is another photo I had to get low on the ground for. I saw the duck and I wanted a picture of that, but I didn't just want to take a plain ol' boring picture of a duck. So I included the rocks and grass to provide a bit more substance and a boarder.

Lastly, to the left is a picture of a seagull. I always love capturing pictures of birds up in the sky. What I love even more is the tall grass that spikes it's way from the bottom of the picture. I was low to the ground, once again.Getting an upward angle like this makes it seem as if the bird had just lifted off from the ground.

Throughout these pictures, I tried to convey a vintage feel to the majority of them. I suppose that is because being in a New England state makes me feel old fashioned. Not only did I play with the lightness, darkness, temperature, etc., but I also rounded out the corners. A great and FREE picture editing tool to check out for this is Unlike Picasa, no download is required. What really sold me on this application was the great variety of effects they offer, one being a 1960's effect! Vintage!
If you are in Rhode Island, close to, or thinking about traveling there, I definitely recommend the Lighthouse Cruise! It was not very expensive, they do day and dusk trips, and the tour guide is wonderful. To check out tickets or just more information on the lighthouses and other attractions, visit here:
Again, I mentioned briefly the Art Elements and Principles. For more information about those, check out: Art Elements and Art Principles

Thank you for reading, and comments/feedback is welcomed!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Method of Drawing and More Sketches

As stated in my previous post, the subject I draw the most is women. When drawing people, male or female, it is helpful to have a basic understanding of anatomy. Knowing what the bones and muscles look like and which ones belong where will help you to create a more realistic portrait. Even if your intention is to draw more of a cartoon style person, understanding how the human body is set up will enhance your drawing nonetheless.

One way I used to start off drawing was by actually drawing out a skeleton. I would draw all the major bones (the tibia and fibula, femur, ribs, humerus, ulna, radius, etc.) and then one I had the basic outline and key parts to the bone structure, I would place skin and clothes.

You're probably thinking, "wow, that's a lot of preparation just to draw a person," and it is. Luckily, there's an easier way than being so anal about drawing out each specific bone and muscle. This method can be done with drawing squares and circles.

The human body can be reduced into basic shapes, such as above. This will be the general outline for this person. You can see where her torso, her legs, her arms, her fingers, and her head will be.

Now, some more resemblance to an actual human body needs to be made. Start by slimming down, for example, the two circles that were in place of her legs. Withing the given shapes, body parts can be made.
It is also helpful to always start of drawing your person naked, breasts included. I can't tell you how many times I was drawing in public and someone would look over and see I had a detailed naked woman on my paper and I'd get weird looks. But it is helpful for the next step when you place clothes on the person. Especially if you intend the clothes to appear tight or fitted, you want to be able to see some outline of their body underneath.
Also note, when you are shaping your body's outline, add a little movement in their posture. Even if it is just a tilt of the head, an arm bent, or hips pushed out to one side, it looks more pleasing than a person standing straight forward with arms and legs straight down.

Now you can add the clothes and whatever details you want. Remember not to erase some of the marks you made for body parts so there are natural crease marks on the clothes. In reality, clothes do not hang straight and flat on people, and they shouldn't in the drawing either.

The next step is to finish all the detail and add shading. If you are drawing a person without a reference, you must keep in mind where the light would be shining. You don't have to press very hard to shade skin depending on how dark the skin is to start with. For instance, above, just a series of light strokes were placed in certain areas, and then I smoothed and blended them with my finger. Also, remember to shade where the creases are in the clothes. Furthermore, be consistent with your shading. Since you have to keep in mind where the light would be shining, you have to stick to that once you start. Above, I had the light shining on the left and so the right side of the neck, torso, face, and legs are shaded. On the arms, however, I shaded the inside of them because of the shadows caused from the body itself.
The previous step could be the last if you wished. However, for a finishing touch I usually like to take a black ink pen or a black permanent marker and outline. I also use it to color in certain areas where color would be. In personal preference, I feel this makes the drawing look more finished and there are crisp and definite lines.
Notice, also, since I used black to color in the dress I lost some of the dress shading. That is why I left a white sliver where the creases in the clothes are. This way you can still see the outline of the body.

Of course, that was just a quick drawing I whipped up for an example of my methods. To learn more methods and more detailed tutorials, check out this wonderful website.
It covers how to draw every part of the body from toes to ears. And if you are not someone who likes to draw people, there are many other tutorials on the side bar that will show you tips on scenery, animals, objects, etc.

My main intention for this blog was to share three drawings I worked on and finished today.

A woman in a bath towel.

A cheerleader from the 50's. Have to love the vintage.

This one is my favorite of the three. A closeup of a depressed woman who is wearing a black hat with a funeral veil. I honestly had no idea where I was going with this when I started. I began by doodling a nose, then I decided to complete the face.... then I added a hat and some hair. The hat then reminded me of those huge black hats you see people sometimes where to funerals. Thus, I added the veil. It matched perfectly because the eyes already had a bit of sadness and emptiness in them. About 90% of the time, I begin a drawing with no clear final destination in mind.

Any comments, feedback, thoughts?

Friday, October 21, 2011


I decided to change things up a bit and post some of my artwork. The ones that I will be posting today are sketches that, for the majority, are pretty old. I've only taken pictures of a few I've done, so there is a lot more to come once I find the remaining ones that are scattered throughout my house.

When I first started drawing about seven years ago, I was really big into anime. I watched everything from the English versions on Adult Swim to downloading extremely authentic Japanese shows with only English subtitles. I've also read tons of manga (which are basically comic books, or they can be called the book version of anime). Anyways, it's no surprise that my first hundreds of drawings were always anime style and usually of actual anime characters. To the left is Edward Elric from the popular Fullmetal Alchemist. This drawing has always been one of my favorites.

 I sometimes like to draw in a cartoon style. When I wasn't drawing anime, this was how my drawings looked. This one is actually a bit more recent, and was drawn only four or five months ago. I love classic cars and pin up girls.

This is another cartoon fashion drawing. People are always my favorite subject to draw, and generally I prefer drawing girls over guys. And I have a habit of making them look promiscuous and seductive

 This is an old drawing from two years ago. I was going for a corpse with deteriorating skin. . . in case that wasn't already obvious. It was part of a six picture series I had to do in art class based off of one character in a book/movie. I picked Lestat, the notorious vampire from Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles. Though you most likely couldn't tell this was him if I didn't tell you. I was going with the theme of death for this particular one instead of actual Lestat himself.

 Realistic portraits have always been my favorite to draw. I can't say I'm much good at drawing scenery or animals, but people have always been my thing. To the left is a drawing of Katy Perry I drew last year.

 To the right is a sketch of Lady Gaga. I drew it two years ago and it only took me roughly 45 minutes. The only reason I remember the time period is because it only took one whole art class. I'd love to be able to eventually draw actual people in person, instead of from a photograph, but I don't have any models. Maybe one of these days I'll just force some of my friends to sit down!

 This was a random doodle I started on a scrap piece of paper during a lecture. As I just made random marks and lines, I started to develop an idea of where I wanted it to go. So I took it and transformed it into this.

I still look back at my art work and see things that I wish I would have changed or done differently. For instance, I wish I would have made some clumps of hair coming out between the fingers. This way it would maybe make the hand holding the head look less awkward. It would be as if he was holding the head by the hair and not by the entire head itself. Maybe I'll redo it if I find time.

To the right is a memorial drawing I did for my mother about a month ago. The little girl is me when I was six, and the woman in the back is her when she was 25. We used to get all dressed up (fancy hair, makeup, big dresses, etc.) and have professional photographs taken of us all the time just for fun.

 This is a drawing I did a month ago as well. It is me (the one with black hair) and my eight year old sister (the one with blonde). It's based off of a picture I took several months before hand.

I think a lot of these would be ideal to either go back and fix up (either by redoing or editing the original) or to turn into paintings. In my recent drawings, I've tried to stay away from drawing things I see in photographs that other people have taken. That's always a bad habit. Now photographs and things I see are generally just inspiration for my own creations.

Any comments?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Hidden Beauty in Unexpected Places

When I'm off at school, I'm in an area that's hours away from home and familiar sights. When one normally thinks of new areas, they probably think of great new places to discover... Or at least, that's what I think of. However, the two hour trip from home to my school is nothing but acres of fields after acres of fields. Honestly, I've seen enough corn stalks to last me a lifetime. And the final destination itself is not much better. Compared to home, the sights around town aren't necessarily inspiring and breathtaking. But as time passed, and my school slowly became my second home, I've learned to appreciate the beauty of the small town. 

Even more than that, a friend of mine took me to a place I never thought would have existed. Next to the roaring train tracks and buildings that look like they've been abandoned, there was a secluded area that stuck out against the dreary scenery. There was a bright red building and the small land that surrounded it was filled with gardens and ponds and boulders of all shapes and sizes.  When I first saw it, it was at night and it was extremely peaceful. I could make out a the boulders and pond water slightly thanks to the bright starlight, but I wanted to come back in the daylight to be able to see more. My first thought  (after my primary shock that a beautiful place like this existed and my expectations were blown away) was that I have to photograph this place.

We didn't know what this place was (we later found that it was a small historical museum in honor of the old train station). We weren't even sure if being there and walking through the gravel paths was trespassing or not. Either which way, I wanted to photograph every inch of the place. Why would someone make such an alluring and marvellous natural exhibit if it was not meant to be seen or shared? That would be just selfish.

It just goes to show that beauty exists everywhere and in everything -you just have to know where to look and how to look.

When you look at a pond, don't just see 'a pond'. Within this pond, there are hundreds of individual things. There's the plants, the fish, the reflections, the water, the rocks, and so forth. Zoom in not only with your camera but with your own eyes.

Actually, I think the shadows plant makes is more captivating than the plant itself.

Algae? Ew? Not with the right light.

A little more broad of a picture, but it still focuses on the plants of the pond. The viewer doesn't have to see a lot of the pond to know there is a pond there.

A neat thing I like to do is take a picture from behind tree branches. I don't know how to exactly word it, but it adds a certain appeal to it. It's like you're peaking around yourself to see the beauty behind it.

It's also a good idea not only with tree branches, but also with rocks or anything else (besides peoples' heads). Provide layers in your pictures.

I really like how this picture adds height because I took the picture from the top looking down. It was only a foot drop, but it appears like a lot more.

A little mushroom on a hill.

When I saw this one, I instantly thought of a little smurf home.

Most people can describe what a mushroom looks like from the top and side. Many could even draw an example. But what about the underneath? Also, when the subject of a picture has a lot of texture, it's sometimes fun to play around with black & white filters. It really emphasizes it.

I thought this one was unique because the top of the mushroom pushed upwards.

I can't explain how much I love this picture. I focused in using the macro button (that little flower button on the camera) so the background was blurry. All the focus is on this flower (which I'm not sure what it is? Possibly even a weed or the remains of a flower?). But it looks so dark and dead, and the background has just the right amount of blue hue to add a gloomy and cold feeling.

Same thing, just closer.

A drooping flower that was once beautiful in full bloom. It's sad, really. On a side note, it's common to take pictures of flowers when they are in bloom, but it isn't bad to take one towards the end of the season when the flower is dying. Capture that part of life. 

Same picture, but I made it darker. Opinions? Better, worse, same?

I used the big leafy leaves as a background for the lilacs.

Black & white with color splash can add just the right emphasis.

These pestering weeds seem to pop up five minutes after you mow your grass. But if you're not a yard fanatic, take time to enjoy them. Dimming and blurring the background makes the weed leaves into a neat black and green background.

When I was in the middle of taking a picture of a flower, I realized there was a bee on the leaf. Then, I noticed there were multiple bees on the leaves. I was most likely by a hive. But I remained calm, I proceeded with taking a picture of the flower, then went on to take a picture of one of the bees. All while I did this, I moved very slowly and stealthily. This is a good practice and lesson for a photographer. Just because a photo is often called a "snapshot" doesn't mean it has to be taken fast and hastily. Take your time and focus. If you can take a great picture around a swarm of bees, you can take a great picture in any circumstance.

Spiral stone staircase. The texture in the granite is interesting enough alone.

A more broad picture of the staircase.  This was taken by getting in a higher up place and looking down. I have to confess, this picture was taken by friend who showed me this great place. (He's a little better at climbing up higher, and he's already got an advantage of being tall).

Randomly, the place had tonka trucks scattered around.  I laid down on the ground and angled the camera up to get this picture (if you plan on taking unique pictures, plan on getting in weird positions and angles. And while in the process, plan on getting weird looks from people passing by).

Another tonka truck.

I find the green against the white and grayish stones enjoyable.

Weeds are the unappreciated flower.

Prickly plant. Even though mostly everything in the picture is green, the spikey ball still sticks out. Also, notice the reflection of light on the leaves and some of the spikes.

Same prickly bud, different angle.

Also the same one, different angle. Take note of that. You can have one thing, but take a hundred pictures that look completely different. It all varies on angle, color, light, focus, etc.

This is rope on a rock that was sitting out on display. Making the photo black and white adds and old fashioned feel to it.

This was some type of plant that was growing in the pond. Add black and white and it adds a lot of light and dark value to it. It also brings out the texture which may have been ignored if in color.

Please remember to comment and provide feedback!