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PIXelations 33

Geek Of The Week

by fotofinish , 04-28-2012 at 09:58 AM (1377 Views)

For a while now I had been thinking about replacing my current Lowepro backpack. Although this pack still feels well-balanced for me, the inconvenience factor of having to remove a pack whenever I want to change lenses is becoming more of an issue these days. Having to put the pack down and walk away as you shoot increases anxiety if among a flow of strangers. Then, if I suddenly have the need for a grad filter, I have to rummage through the pack to find it. I have tried a shooting vest, but it makes me look like a fisherman! Also, a lens in the vest packet makes it just flop around.

Then I discovered Ben Wilmore’s video. And Ben’s system just seemed to make sense. So I bought the system from ThinkTankPhoto! Yes, I still look like a geek but it sure seems like the solution to the “need it NOW” syndrome. Having a well-designed, comfortable system with your lenses and filters within easy grasp is just a delight! I will give it a good field test in a couple of weeks when Jayne and I return to Santa Fe!

As a side note, have a look at Ben Wilmore’s blog and site. Now, here’s a guy living the shooter’s dream: he sold all his possessions and bought a bus to live on as he travels the country shooting wherever he wants. And he actually met a woman, also a photographer, Karen Nace, who loved the same thing so he married her. Ben is a teacher/presenter for Scott Kelby Training. He puts on a great conference if ever he is teaching in your area.

Annular Eclipse

by fotofinish , 06-03-2012 at 11:37 AM (1057 Views)

Jayne and I were lucky to have scheduled our recent vacation in time to see the May 20th annular eclipse in Santa Fe. I didn’t know about it at the time we scheduled our trip. Then about three weeks before we left, I learned about the event.

At that time, I also learned about how to protect a camera lens using Astrozap Baader Astrosolar Safety Film. I also found this article How to make an eclipse filter.

In searching the internet for locations, I saw that Albuquerque was hosting major viewing parties, but I also thought that Santa Fe would do something. I also read that someone thought that St. John’s College might be doing something. So, Jayne and I went to the college and sure enough, the Science department had a gathering atop the roof of the Evans Science Lab. They handed out free viewing glasses too! So I set up my tripod, my Canon 1D III with 100-400mm with a 1.4 extender. I also brought my laptop which I used to take a few picture, load to my laptop and view with Lightroom to tweak my settings.

I ended up using f11 at iso100 at 1/100sec with my camera in manual mode. I set my lens to manual and set it at infinity. I also had my lens in stabilization mode since even with a cable release, the mirror slap was blurring some of the pictures. I was too chicken to use mirror lockup.

The scene atop the roof was much like the scene in the movie “Independence Day” when alot of people tried to great the aliens atop some high rise building!

So, here are a couple of samples.

You can see the rest of this gallery here. Enjoy!

New Mexico 2012

by fotofinish , 06-12-2012 at 04:54 PM (6036 Views)

As you might have been able to tell from my last blog entry, Jayne and I recently visited New Mexico, specifically Santa Fe, again. Our last visit was in 2007. For me, it was interesting to see just how much my eye has changed in its ability to detect scenes of visual interest. Not much art created here, but what I hope is I have created a diverse sampling of some typical New Mexican flair. I captured some 1100 photos. From these, I will later harvest into some composites.

I consider this one my favorite. I captured this during a visit to Tent Rocks National Monument.

Here’s a tribute to Ansel Adams who also visited this church in Taos.

And finally, here’s one of the church in the World Heritage Site of the Pueblo de Taos..

You can see the rest of this gallery on my website here. Enjoy!

Annoying Year

by fotofinish , 11-03-2012 at 09:45 AM (375 Views)

This has been an annoying year for me due mostly to some minor nagging health issues. Each issue, by itself, is really nothing, but put them together and they add up to inconveniences. I had a minor relapse of shingles in January. Then a relapse of cellulitis in my leg in May. Both of these issues were resolved with strong antibiotics to which I then developed a drug allergy. This allergic reaction caused a rash over my upper body and arms, a raging, constant nasal flow, and weepy eyes. I have to take meds for the rash indefinitely. None of the many doctors have offered much relief for me. All of this has taken a toll on my energy level and creative drive to the point where I stopped photography completely for the last four months.

If all of this wasn’t enough, I also had to take care of a hernia a month ago. I also will have surgery on both my feet after Thanksgiving to remove nerves associated with Morton’s Neuroma.

The good news is that I am learning to adapt and work around all of this. I just started working on a new composite series which I will talk about in an upcoming article.


by fotofinish , 11-09-2012 at 05:33 PM (339 Views)

I found a good article that describes how to use gradients to blend two images together, or use gradients to fade an image to transparent. I start off with a new document in Photoshop that consists of a black background. I then open and move two images onto this background. Now, let’s say that image two needs to be positioned partially on top of image one in a way that would make the image to appear to fade into its underlying image.

The articles below I found are very helpful and easy to follow to achieve this result. Enjoy!


Blending Two Or More Images

Just walking around…

by fotofinish , 11-21-2012 at 09:58 AM (331 Views)

Who says you have to travel far and wide just to get a decent picture! Jayne and I went for a walk around the West Hartford reservoir the other day. I brought my camera just in case, not expecting to find some shot I’d like. Rather, I wanted to practice with my camera’s functionality. It has been a while since I’ve been out behind the camera for a variety of reasons. And although I don’t normally shoot the grand landscape much, there always is a chance that you can find an intimate landscape shot, or some abstract expression waiting to happen.

So, here’s my keeper from the walk…

The rest of the walk can be viewed here. Have a great Thanksgiving everybody!

Dias de los Muertos

by fotofinish , 12-08-2012 at 10:18 AM (327 Views)

I finally completed my new series. Here is my statement about it…

Just as the moon must travel across the face of the sun during an Annular Eclipse, so too must humans make their own journey through life. The eclipse ends with the death of the sun as it swallows the moon resulting in an ominous ring of fire, burning the edges of a moon shrouded in darkness. This lasts but a brief moment until the moon emerges from a reborn sun as both pursue their passages yet again across the cosmos. In a likewise manner, humans also advance toward their end and await rebirth and transformation into something else.

Throughout the ages, people have searched to find meaning in their lives with a sense of their place in history. One way we achieve this is through the appreciation of the accomplishments of our ancestors and predecessors. This search is often marked by moments of rebirth and renewal. Sometimes these moments are minor and symbolic; other times they are the result of life-altering experiences.

We often share these moments with people who are special to us. As our journey lengthens and these people disappear, we wish to remember and memorialize our connection with them by marking these milestones as recurring anniversary dates. These dates become shared from generation to generation through annual celebration or ritual. Our children need these observations to nurture their own identity in a fusion of time, place, and family.

Southwest Native American folklore, as well as in most other cultures around the world, is rich in the tradition of remembering their ancestors. Celebrating the life and not just the death is important to teach future generations. Ritual observances, like the Day of the Dead and Memorial Day, remain important vehicles for this time of remembrance. Whether we dress up or eat the same food that our loved ones once enjoyed, or whether we silently celebrate their acts of courage, our roots will be preserved and through us our ancestors achieve a sense of immortality.

My latest visual allegory represents a metaphorical attempt to portray individual days of celebration and remembrance of those who have touched our lives. These are the journeys to be traveled; lessons to be learned; and transformations to be made and shared and observed.

You can see the rest of this gallery on my website here. Enjoy!

ebook now available

by fotofinish , 12-09-2012 at 02:35 PM (277 Views)

My new ebook about my latest visual allegory Dias de los Muertos is now available for purchase from my website here. Enjoy!

Motivation behind my latest series…

by fotofinish , 12-17-2012 at 05:06 PM (374 Views)

During a recent visit to Santa Fe, my wife and I had the chance to explore the deep sense of history conveyed by various regional Southwest Native American structures and artifacts.

While there, we had the good fortune to witness the Annular Eclipse, also known as the Ring Of Fire. We participated in the eclipse festivities on a roof at St. John’s College. We celebrated the passage of the moon across the face of the sun and experienced the sunlight fading to darkness then back to sunlight. The feeling was almost primal in the sense that here we all stood as a community, just as must have been done in ancient times. The difference was we stood in solidarity with pleasant excitement and anticipation. During ancient times they stood in fear.

The Annular Eclipse portrays the great journey of the moon across the face of the sun. The event ends with the death of the sun as it swallows the moon in an ominous ring of fire, burning the edges of a moon shrouded in darkness. This lasts for just a brief moment until the moon yet again emerges from a reborn sun to pursue its course through the cosmos.

That night, I had a dream that involved the eclipse and the National Cemetery in Santa Fe. When I woke up, I couldn’t remember specific details of the dream, but I felt that this could be the birth of a new series idea. I felt excited and more purposeful for the rest of our stay. My shooting after this dream became centered on history with a sense of mystery!

Shopping in Santa Fe and really anywhere in New Mexico, you quickly get the sense of spirituality that revolves around the historical ritual celebration of the Day of the Dead. This ritual is an opportunity to honor the dead in one’s family. At the same time, it is also a way to celebrate the life of those departed family members. In the Indian culture, skulls were used as symbols of death and rebirth. Today these are used as decorations for the ceremonies of remembrance. Participants often dress up as their loved ones did or eat the same foods they ate. This memorialization and observance also serves as a teaching tool for the children of future generations.

My series, Dias de los Muertos, or Days of the Dead, attempts to depict the days of remembrance and celebration of the lives of our departed loved ones. I am christening this technique as a visual allegory, best viewed from start to finish. Each individual piece contributes to the celebration, but there is also the sequence and movement of the Annular Eclipse. This contributes a second layer to the series that allows the viewer to have multiple levels to experience, interpret, and hopefully enjoy!

You can see the rest of this gallery on my website here. Enjoy!

My second Blurb Book!

by fotofinish , 12-18-2012 at 07:56 PM (442 Views)

Just published my second Blurb book, “Dias de los Muertos”. Have a look!


by fotofinish , 01-01-2013 at 01:30 PM (280 Views)

Sometimes, when in search for inspiration for a new project, I will comb through my Lightroom database. I rarely discard a photo so my library is up to some 32,000 pieces now. It is amazing how your creative eye will change over the years. What photo I once did not give a second look, over time and with a new crop, perhaps, or some reprocessing, may breathe new life and promise into a photo.

At times, it’s just the simple act of revisiting a photo that can jump start your vision or plant a seed for a new project.

Here is one from Seattle, 2010 that I had originally discounted. It is detail from the outside of the wonderful EMP Museum. I chose a slightly colored, black and white treatment, since this photo was not about the original color, but rather the rich shapes and forms within. As for the plane, I just got lucky!


My Third Hard-Covered Book!

by fotofinish , 01-13-2013 at 09:16 AM (285 Views)

Just published my third Blurb book, “The Orsini Insanity”. Have a look!

Visual Allegory

by fotofinish , 01-19-2013 at 08:54 AM (1703 Views)

While building my latest series, Dias de los Muertos, I discovered that what I enjoy doing most right now is visual allegory. An allegory is an extended metaphor, or a story with two meanings. One meaning is literal; and the other meaning is symbolic. An allegory involves using many interconnected symbols or visual actors in such a way that nearly every element within the narrative has a meaning beyond its literal level.

Each piece becomes a contributing member within the series as a whole. Although each piece can stand alone, its full meaning is best derived from its context within the complete storyline. Like a story, there is a beginning, a middle, and an end. There may also be subplots which contribute their own unique meanings and movements. These subplots attempt to work in support of the central theme or series movement; sometimes through contrasting, conflicting symbols of line, shape, and color; sometimes through enhancing symbols of complimentary form and color.

I first start with an appropriate background which I build as a template. This is then used throughout the series to tie it together and give it a consistent look. I then select and place the actors on the individual pieces in the series. The selection process is determined in advance in order to contribute to the plot or subplot.

The allegorical actors are the interconnected symbols within each series piece. These actors are crops of photos I have taken to date during my travels. For me, the photo is not the end; it is the beginning. I harvest appropriate actor candidates from within my extensive Lightroom catalog for inclusion within each piece. Symbol position dictates the degree of tension and conflict between the various actors.

Color is a major player within my allegories and is used to set tonality on many levels. Each viewer experiences his own subjectively charged reaction to the colors used in an image which can impact his impressions. But color can also be its own unique form as well. Color as form can add another viewing dimension and introduce yet another actor that must interact with the other actors in the image.

Visual allegories are best viewed as a progression from beginning to end. The viewer is asked to use his imagination in order to find his own enjoyable and meaningful connection with the images presented. The goal is not to use a hammer to drive home a specific message, but rather, the use of the power of suggestion. This way, universality can be allowed to flourish.


Jerry Grasso 3.0

by fotofinish , 02-20-2013 at 06:53 PM (171 Views)

After some effort, I completely redesigned and rebuilt my website. It now uses Word Press as its code engine. I built my old site using Notepad and raw HTML. By using Word Press, I no longer have to get too involved in custom coding, plus it is now mobile-device-friendly! I will have an article soon on the making of my new site.

So, with proper fanfare, introducing my new mobile-device-friendly, jerrygrasso 3.0 website! Please stop by and have a visit!


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