Friday, 22 May 2015

What's in your fridge?

I put aside the portrait I've been working on for the past three weeks, and instead got my sketchbook and watercolours out. I somehow didn't get any time for painting during the weekend, and if I want to do something in the evenings, after work, getting out the acrylic paints always seems a bit too much. Watercolours, on the other hand, are the perfect medium for that. And if you don't know what to draw or paint, well, there's always the fridge. I've been keeping those tomatoes all week in order to finish the painting. I'm looking forward to having them for dinner tonight.

I meant to add some words too, but it was getting too late last night. I might add them later though. Most of all, I'm just happy about the fact that I sat down for an hour or so on two evening this week to paint. It doesn't take much time to do something, even when you're working (almost) full time. You can always manage to fit in a little bit of time, even if it's just 15 minutes or half an hour. I have to remember that more often.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

The sweet bliss of getting a sharp image, and two new cameras to play with

I'm still learning how to take photographs with my new SX-70. It's not as easy and straightforward as with the later autofocus cameras, and every photo that turns out properly focused and sharp just makes me insanely happy. Because you have so much less control of the outcome than with a digital camera, getting it right is somehow so much more satisfying.

Yes, I admit, I might be getting a bit obsessed with these old instant cameras. I just bought another not one, but two cameras. Well, they came as package of two, looked good and were reasonably priced. One's a Polaroid Image System, the other a Polaroid Image Pro. They're quite similar but the Pro has a flashy LED display and some extra features in addition, such as the option of multiple exposure, which I'm quite excited to try out. I only had one Image/Spectra film to try at the beginning of the weekend, so I decided to try out the Image System first. The Image/Spectra films used for this camera have a different image format, not the traditional square, but a rectangular format of 9.2x7.3cm. It also has an electronic display in the viewfinder, which gives you green light if your photo is going to be good, or a warning if it isn't so that you can recompose it.

16/05/2015 - The Old Apple Tree
After the first couple of photos I noticed that the frog tongue was a little bit creased at the edges, which leads to those two light stripes at the edges, where the photo is exposed to too much light when ejected. I plan to eventually replace the frog tongue, but for the moment I found an easy solution to the problem in one of the discussions on Flickr. When you take the photo, instead of releasing the shutter button immediately, keep it pressed down. As long as you don't release it, the photo won't be rejected. (This actually also comes in handy when wanting to take a double exposure with this camera, but more on that when I've tried it out). I took a dark canvas tote with me, sticking the whole camera into it before releasing the button so that the photo is ejected straight into the bag and not exposed to any light at all. And that did the trick beautifully. The stripes are as good as gone or only faintly visible.

16/05/2015 - Garden Corner

Yesterday, two more packs of Image/Spectra films arrived in the post, and I could finally try out the Image Pro. The frog tongue works perfectly here. I just need to read up a bit more about its functions and how to set all the settings on the LED display. It does feel almost modern, compated to the all manual SX-70 and the simple switches of the Image System.

Friday, 15 May 2015

Still a work in progress - stretching those rusty muscles

It's like when you haven't done any sport at all for a while, and then start again. You've become rusty, the muscles don't know the moves anymore. It's painful at first, and it takes a while to get back into those moves again, but the more you keep going, the easier it gets and your muscles relax and begin to fall into the pattern easily. It's quite the same with painting. You get rusty, if you haven't done it for a while, and getting back into it feels strange at first, a bit unfamiliar. The paints behave kind of odd, you're not quite getting it right. It'll take a little while to get comfortable with it again, you just have to keep working on it. Little by little.

She's not finished yet, but I'm taking it little by little. I'm glad that I set myself the goal for this month to link up to Paint Party Friday every week. Because without the pressure of needing something to share, I probably would have given up on her. And I'm glad I did. Because those muscles need a lot of work and stretching for the moves to become familiar and comfortable again.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Learning the SX-70, and a walk in the forest

I'm slowly, very slowly, learning how to use my new Polaroid SX-70. It's not easy, and I still get it wrong most of the time. This one's definitely a lot more  temperamental than the plastic box, my 600 type Polaroid. So I'm even more excited about every photo that turns out reasonably okay, which at the moment is about every one in four or five. I hope to get the hang of it soon, or else it's going to be very expensive. I'm taking photos in all kinds of different situations and taking notes of what worked and what didn't to find out what works best.

I also find it quite difficult to scan them. The colours just don't turn out quite right. They do look much better in reality.

On Sunday, I went for a long walk in the forest with my Mum. I took the SX-70 too, and I've learnt that the forest is not the best place for it. Maybe it was too dark, even though it was a sunny (and hot) day. Or maybe the contrast was too strong in the midday sun. Also, I find it very difficult sometimes to focus. Not only because it can be very tricky to get it right with the split focus circle, but also because I find it difficult to keep the camera still enough. Which is actually one of the reasons I'm embracing instant photography so much the moment. To help me become more mindful, focused, calm. Something I've been working on for a while now. But I'll write more about that some other time.

While my Mum walked through the forest at a brisk pace, thanks to her walking sticks, I was constantly either lagging way behind while taking photos with up to three different cameras (though mostly my DSLR), or trying to catch up at an even brisker pace while carrying a heavy camera bag over my shoulder. And most of the way was going slightly uphill, may I add.

But I'm glad I brought my DSLR. It was a lovely walk (even though I was exhausted afterwards) and I enjoyed taking photos in this beautiful forest. For the past ten years, it has been allowed to grow back into a natural forest, with next to no intervention, except when trees have fallen over the pathes. And even then, only the bits that block the path are cut off. Everything else is left to nature. It's a truly magical place.

Well, we might not have carpets of bluebells in our woods, but the forest was full of wild garlic, and it looked and smelled beautiful.

Friday, 8 May 2015

On my easel: Portrait WIP

I've got a few projects for May, and one of them is to take part in Paint Party Friday every week this month (and hopefully afterwards too, as much as possible) to help me get my painting mojo back. I can feel it coming back, but very slowly, and so I've only got a work in progress to share today. But I'm sharing it anyway, again to motivate me to finish it by next Friday. I've still got a lot of work to do on her, but I so enjoyed painting a portrait again.

Apart from a guided visit to the Bührle Collection on Saturday, I'm looking forward to spending most of the weekend painting, and finally taking my new Polaroid SX-70 out for a walk. Just hope it won't start raining again.

Happy Paint Party Friday, wishing you an inspiring and creative weekend!