Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Working the Subject by F.M. Kearney

Deciding on whether to use a vertical or horizontal composition is pretty straightforward. The size and shape of the subject will determine how it should best be framed. This is how it usually works, but occasionally, I'll come across a subject that refuses to play nice and be placed in a neat little box. Such was the case a few weeks ago when I tried to photograph a cluster of white Easter lilies in the New York Botanical Garden.

I was initially attracted to them because they were surrounded by a bunch of smaller, colorful flowers – objects that could be used as interesting foreground and background elements. My first composition was a horizontal, highlighting the three lilies at the top. I positioned my tripod at a height to include
the small purple flowers in the foreground in the lower left, with the small orange flowers in the background in the lower right. I deliberately covered some of the lilies with the purple flowers, but I was careful not to let the lilies overlap the orange blooms in the background. I'm not sure if it's an actual rule in nature photography, but subjects tend to look better when partially obscured by something in the foreground, as opposed to blocking something in the background. Of course, this only works when the main subject isn't forced to compete for attention with these other elements. I used my depth of field preview to select an aperture that would render everything but the lilies out of focus.

The end result was OK, but I knew I could do better. My main problem was the large black area in the upper right. I felt it threw off the entire compositional balance of the photo. I could have lowered the angle, but I didn't want to clip off the top petal of the lily on the left. I then tried a vertical composition and zoomed in slightly on the center lily – maintaining similar positions for the foreground and background flowers. I thought it was quite fortuitous for my little bee buddy to visit at the precise moment I was set up for a close up, but I was still stuck with that large, annoying black area. Although it provides great copy space should these photos ever be featured on a greeting card or magazine cover, they're still off-balanced as stand-alone photographs.

I finally decided to abandon my original plans for the placement of the small purple flowers. I kept the vertical format, but slightly changed my position and zoomed out to include more of the flowers in the background. This considerably improved the overall balance of the photo. There's still a black area in the upper right, but it's been reduced to a much more reasonable size and can still be used for copy space if necessary.

This whole process is known as "working the subject." It sort of reminds me of my days in grade school math class, when I was often told to "show my work." I go through this almost every time I take a photo, but it's usually just a mental process – rarely resulting in actual photographs. Since the images in this case all had something different to offer, as a whole, I felt they created an interesting "building-block" series.

Article Submitted by:
F.M. Kearney is a fine art nature photographer, specializing in unique floral and landscape images. To see more of his work, please visit


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Art WithOut Labels by Jayme Catalano

The Art WithOut Labels retail gallery is a hip space filled with the artwork of emerging local and international artists.  Created by artists and designers with developmental and related disabilities, much of the work is slightly irreverent and endearingly whimsical.  Started by the non-profit group Alchemia, AWOL empowers artists and provides an opportunity for the community to recognize and support their astounding talent.  The mission of AWOL is “to create a public venue where the intersection of people, media, and invention help to create a more open and inviting community for all.”  AWOL’s artists are talented and unique and their artwork is a reminder that artistry transcends limitations.

If you would like to inquire about purchasing artwork or donating funds to the non-profit organization, please contact Susan Boyle at (415) 320-2126 or email  You can visit the website here.

Article Submitted by:
-Jayme Catalano
Graphic design and site creation

Monday, July 29, 2013

See What Trina Wilko is Creating!



Art Piece: 
Mixed Media
12”  x  15”
About the Artist
Trina Wilko
Trina Wilko lives and works in Montreal, Quebec.  She is a professor in the Early Childhood Education Department at Concordia University and a Faculty Supervisor for student teachers.  She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Concordia and a Master’s of Education in the Arts from McGill University.
Artistic pursuits are woven into the fabric of her life; painting, drawing and art education are a mainstay, and reflect the growth of a commitment to art through her careers as a graphic designer for a chain of fashion stores, as a ceramic artist and teacher, and as a writer and illustrator.
She wrote and published a children’s book, ‘The Lively Lines of Linus’, as an art teaching tool for the classroom teacher.  The playful story connects fundamental art vocabulary with the art making process, thereby preparing the student for conversation about art.
To view more of Trina’s work and the work of all our fine artists, visit us at   Also check out our monthly art competitions.


Friday, July 26, 2013

See What Emily Lane is Creating!

 Art Piece: 
“Under the Rainbow”
Mixed Media
60”  x  36”
About the Artist
Emily Lane
Emily graduated from Rhode Island School of Design with a BFA in graphic design. Her experience, working as a graphic designer, has allowed her to see the empty canvas the way she views a new brochure to design.  Composition, design elements, color and overall look are important in any medium she uses.
Her mixed-media paintings consist of acrylics, textured papers, textured gel mediums, oils and oil pastels.  She incorporates a lot of torn paper in some of her work for added depth and gel mediums for added textures.  Brush strokes and textures are very important in her work and she likes working on different parts of the canvas to create small paintings within paintings.
To view more of Emily’s work and the work of all our fine artists, visit us at   Also check out our monthly art competitions.


Thursday, July 25, 2013

D'Art by Alexandra Dailey

Art piece by Shelley Wheeler
Let me preface this by saying that I’ve never worked a real fundraiser before. Sure, I’ve sat at fold-up tables, surrounded by baked goods, trading quarters and dollars for sweet treats, but nothing compared to last Wednesday and Thursday’s fundraiser.

Every year the Crooked Tree Arts Center of Petoskey, Michigan, plans and puts on “D’Art for Art”. Our biggest annual fundraiser, D’Art’s proceeds contribute to gallery shows, visiting artists and instructors, classes for the children and adults of Northern Michigan, etc. In short, the fundraiser allows us to spread art throughout the upper part of the mitt.

This two night event showcased the work and talent of local artists, and also that of those from around the country. It was a meeting ground for artist and patron, art novice and art expert. This event brought people in the art community together. I get to witness this almost daily from my seat at the front desk, but to see artist and patron meet was a unique experience.

For D’Art I had the pleasure of assisting in set-up, preparations, errand running, and take-down, but during both nights I was able to check-in our generous patrons, meet local artists, and view original works of art—not bad for a night on the job!

The Crooked Tree Arts Center staff and volunteers were able to come together with local businesses and restaurants to create a pair of nights that celebrated and honored contemporary art. I feel blessed to have been a contributing part to such an event. If you’re interested in more information about D’Art, please visit !

Article Submitted by Alexandra Dailey

To read more articles written by Alexandra Dailey, visit


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Making Something Out of Nothing by F.M. Kearney

One of the hardest parts of creative photography is trying to figure out how to make an ordinary subject look extraordinary. It's knowing when to stop and take notice of something that most people would simply pass by without giving it a second glance – that is, if they even glance at it in the first place. Such was the case when I was in the New York Botanical Garden recently. I was there to shoot the roses, but it was early and the rose garden wasn't open yet. On my way there I passed through the hydrangea area, which was in full bloom. I had seen hydrangea many times before in the past, but I never considered photographing them. I could never figure out how to shoot the big, rounded blooms in an interesting or creative way. They don't exhibit any discernible pattern from a distance, and there's really nothing special about them up close either. Had the rose garden been open I certainly would have passed them by myself. As it was, I walked back and forth in front of them several times before finally deciding to stop and give them a serious look.

The first shot I did was a close up of a single bloom. Unlike the other blooms, the tiny flowers at the tip formed an almost perfect circle. With my camera mounted on a tripod, I composed a head-on shot using a limited depth of field. This allowed the flowers in the front to remain sharp as the rest of the
bloom behind them gradually morphed into a billowy field of white. I then did another composition where I slightly offset one bloom behind another one. I used a bit more depth of field to render to foreground bloom completely sharp, while keeping the one in the rear out of focus. However, since both blooms were the same color, I didn't feel as though that would produce the degree of separation I wanted between the two. I outfitted my flash with a red gel and hand-held it far off-camera to the left, aimed only at the bloom in the background. I reduced its power output to create the illusion that the bloom was catching a few rays of warm sunlight (as opposed to being hit with a red light), while the one in the foreground remained in the shade. These differences in lighting and depth of field created just the right amount of separation I needed to make the photo work.

When roses aren't available, it sometimes pays to stop and smell (or shoot) the hydrangeas.
Article Submitted by:
F.M. Kearney is a fine art nature photographer, specializing in unique floral and landscape images. To see more of his work, please visit


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Behind the Camera by Jayme Catalano

 Americans get a little bit nostalgic this time of year, clinging to traditions from their own childhoods and creating new traditions to carve out some sense of ritual in an ever modern world. We look to the illustrations of Norman Rockwell, with their sweet coating of cane sugar and gender roles served on sterling silver plates, and mourn for the loss of our collective innocence. What we don’t realize as we’re looking at these savory slices of Americana is that many of them were based upon photograph that sometimes tell a very different story than the resulting painting. In one photograph, a man and woman sit in a marriage counselor’s office; the woman sits next to her angry husband with the expression and posture of a woman begging forgiveness. In the illustration, the man has a black eye and the woman wears a teasing, sly, proud expression. The photograph, though devoid of any evidence of domestic violence, is nonetheless chilling in its implication of male power. In another series of photographs, three little girls are shot from the same angle wearing the same dress. He used the reference image to create one of his most well-known works: The Problem We all Live With. The photographs behind the paintings, nearly 20,000 in all, are often works of art in their own right, and do much to inform the illustrations, adding depth and historical context. Ron Schick has collected a selection of the photographs and their resulting illustrations in a book called Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera, available for purchase here.


Article Submitted by:
-Jayme Catalano
Jayme Catalano Graphic  and Web Design

Jayme specializes in graphic and web design with an emphasis on original, creative content to maximize visual impact.

Monday, July 22, 2013

See What Michelle Shaw is Creating!

Art Piece: 
“Droplet One”
8”  x  10”
About the Artist
Michelle Shaw Statement:
“The camera lens has been a key to a locked door that once I opened, I couldn’t close. Nowadays I am never without my camera and I delight in finding quiet moments and capturing them–letting a subject’s natural beauty show.
My main inspirations often involve the mundane, the things we often don’t even give a second look at in our day to day lives. My most satisfying images are those that reveal something new out of things that have been seen hundreds of times.
As with any photographer, light is the starting point and when I find that special light the camera allows me to show the unique in the trees, animals, buildings and people that have been in front of me the entire time.”
To view more of Michelle’s work and the work of all our fine artists, visit us at   Also check out our monthly art competitions.


Friday, July 19, 2013

See What Aimee Shattuck is Creating!

Art Piece: 
Oil on Canvas
About the Artist
Aimee Shattuck
Aimee is inspired by beauty.  Her passion is creating beauty.  There is nothing more thrilling than being able to create renderings of what she finds beautiful.  Much of Aimee’s inspiration comes from burlesque, fashion, and erogenous individuals.  Aimee is a yoga teacher by profession so using the body as a form of expression is something she has always appreciated, and this comes through in her images.  Aimee uses postures, colors, fashionable accessories, and exaggerated facial expressions to convey emotion in her pieces.
To view more of Aimee’s work and the work of all our fine artists, visit us at   Also check out our monthly art competitions.


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Using Reflections by F.M. Kearney


Reflections have always played a major role in creative photography. It's for that reason I often try to find a way to incorporate water in many of my images. The two tropical water lilies were shot in one of the reflecting pools behind the Conservatory  at the New York Botanical Garden. So that their reflections would have more of an impact, I had to make sure that they were “clean” and not blocked or partially obscured by any of the surrounding lily pads. To insure that the reflection was as dark as possible, I forewent the use of my trusty polarizer filter. I routinely use this filter saturate colors by reducing glare. However, in this case, it would have produced just the opposite effect of what I wanted. By removing the glare off the water, it would have turned it almost jet black – completely consuming the reflection. I did, however, use a special effect filter to give the shot a warm, sepia-like tone. On some occasions, I like to break the reflection up by throwing a rock in the water. This works really well with fall foliage in producing crazy, abstract colors. But, in this case, I felt it definitely looked better with a motionless reflection.

Nature isn't the only subject that can benefit from reflections. Cityscapes at night take on an almost magical quality when its lights are reflected in water. Since "9/11," the New York City skyline has been in a constant state of change. I shot this photo in 2010, a few years before the new World Trade
Center began to alter this iconic view. I specifically chose a clear evening when the winds were calm so that the reflections would be strong and prominent. Also, when shooting night scenes of a city skyline, it's usually best not to actually shoot them at night. The optimum time is twilight – about a half hour after sunset – when there are still traces of daylight left. The outlines of buildings are still visible, and the sky takes on amazing colors as it gradually transitions from a beautiful golden amber to a rich, cobalt blue.

Reflections can be either a distraction, or an integral part of the photo. It's important to know how to use them to your best advantage.

Article Submitted by:
F.M. Kearney is a fine art nature photographer, specializing in unique floral and landscape images. To see more of his work, please visit


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Visual Undertow by Jayme Catalano

Dennis Wojtkiewicz defies the destructive nature of time passing in his large scale, photo realistic paintings of fruit and flowers. Using a technique perfected by Vermeer and other Northern European masters, he captures and enhances the transitory nature of his subject matter. “Each painting is constructed by beginning with a monochrome under painting in the complement of the featured subject. Subsequent layers of semi-opague through to transparent colors follow with up to ten passes before the end result is achieved.” In explaining the meditative qualities of the work, Wotjkiewicz says, “There are a number of elements in the visual undertow which function as a metaphor or representation of themes such as spirituality, relationships (or lack thereof), reproduction and, generally speaking, the transitory nature of most stuff. When I go into the studio, it is with the intent of imbuing the paintings with a living spirit and to realize something that will connect with the viewer on a sensual if not metaphysical plane.” His work is currently on exhibit at the Castle Gallery.


Article Submitted by:
-Jayme Catalano
Jayme Catalano Graphic  and Web Design
Jayme specializes in graphic and web design with an emphasis on original, creative content to maximize visual impact.

Monday, July 15, 2013

See What Sheri Alimonda is Creating!

 Art Piece: 
Oil on Canvas
About the Artist
Sheri Alimonda
Sheri Alimonda is a professionally trained portrait artist and teacher who love’s sharing her knowledge of art with others.  Her training began at age 12 at the Art School of Oil Painting, where she learned the old master techniques she uses in her work and teaches her students today.
Sheri has painted live at the Museum of TV and Radio in Beverly Hills, the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, and while painting live at the NY Art Expo was discovered and nominated for the first ever “Academy Awards” for art, the ArtTV Awards. She has been a guest speaker aboard Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruise Ships as well as in Europe aboard Oriental Lines.  She has appeared on numerous Television shows including Good Day New York.
To view more of Sheri’s work and the work of all our fine artists, visit us at   Also check out our monthly art competitions.


Friday, July 12, 2013


About the Art:
“Night Vigil”
17”  x  14”
About the Artist:
Sarah Woolley
A native Oregonian, Sarah Woolley grew up in a very artistic home, with an artist for a mom (Angelina Woolley) and an eccentric art dealer for a father, owner of the Mark Woolley Gallery in Portland, OR.  She also has one brother who is one of her favorite people on earth, Colin.
She has a strong passion to create. She has taken a variety of classes over the years in drawing, painting, figure sculpting, mixed media, and photography, and received her B.A. in Creative Writing and Fine Art from Marylhurst University.
To view more of Sarah’s work and the work of all our fine artists, visit us at   Also check out our monthly art competitions.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Creative Flower Photography: Tip #6: "Add a Flash of Color" by F.M. Kearney

There are several ways to add more color to your photos – many of them in post. But, I'm a little old-school. Although I run all of my photos through Photoshop, I primarily use the software to enhance what's already there. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a purest who believes it's a mortal sin to process a photo into the realms of the other world. Some of the most breathtaking images I've ever seen never actually existed in the real world. I don't see anything wrong with that as long as these types of images are clearly represented as artistic, as opposed to an accurate documentation of reality. In any event, when I do decide to add a little "something extra" to my photos, I prefer to do it in the camera at the time of the shoot. I guess I just find it more personally rewarding to do it that way. Also, considering the fact I'm not that proficient with Photoshop special effects might have some bearing on my decision. 

One of the easiest ways to add color to flower portraits is through flash gels. Since I normally use a flash anyway for better lighting, this fits in perfectly with my standard work flow. I have a LumiQuest FXtra Gel Holder which attaches to the flash via Velcro strips. It's equipped with two pockets – one for storing several colored gels and a clear one that wraps around the flash head. To change the color of the light I simply place an individual colored gel into this pocket. The red gel produces the most realistic-looking effects, so it's the one I use most often.

I generally seek out white or light-colored flowers in order to make the color more noticeable. However, the key here is to make sure it's not too noticeable. I only want to add a hint of color, not completely change it. Even though my flash is set to "Fill," I still dial down its power output slightly. That's very important when using the red gel, which can be quite overwhelming if not kept in check. As with most other subjects, flowers look best when lit at an angle. This will add more depth and eliminate that direct, flat light look. I take the flash off-camera and hold it either to the left, right, above or below the subject – whichever position that produces the most dynamic result. If the winds are exceptionally calm, I'll do a double exposure where I aim the flash at opposite sides outfitted with two different colored gels for each exposure.

The white Peruvian lilies illustrate the before and after effects of the red flash gel. As you can see from the "before" photo, they were shot in the shade. The flash gel makes it appear as though they were bathed in early morning or late evening light.

Flash gels can be effective on many other subjects besides flowers. I shot the photos of the tree with a 50mm lens, but I to avoid discoloring the leaves, I "tunneled" (zoomed) the flash to 70mm and aimed it at the bare spot on the right. It created a natural-looking color which balanced nicely with the leaves on the ground.

You don't need to be a Photoshop guru to add a little more color to your flower photos. Not only can it be done easily in the can be done in a flash!

Article Submitted by:

F.M. Kearney is a fine art nature photographer, specializing in unique floral and landscape images. To see more of his work, please visit

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Visual Remnants by Jayme Catalano


Photographer Martin Wilson, upon receiving his first camera at age 8, was given sage and ultimately prophetic advice by his father, “make every picture count.” Wilson has been following his advice ever since. His work is created frame by frame on 35mm film, a painstaking process whereby every frame from the roll is on display and every image has been shot in sequence. The film is developed, scanned, and then pieced together digitally to make a large contact sheet. Ultimately the contact sheet becomes the final piece of artwork. He does not post process the film or digitally manipulate the images beyond arranging them side by side. He calls the works “records of real journeys, the visual remnants of hours walking or cycling round town, bringing to life unheard of voices of the city.” Martin Wilson is currently on exhibit at the London Tap Gallery in Altrincham, Cheshire.


Article Submitted by:
-Jayme Catalano
Canary Public Relations

Canary Public Relations is a boutique firm specializing in marketing, branding and public relations for small businesses.  They specialize in working with fine artists, designers, and creative professionals of all types.
Art Work Titles:
1.  A Message from the Bears
2.  Modern Art
3.  My Burden is Light
4.  Red Letter Day
5.  Look Both Ways

Monday, July 8, 2013

See What Greg Trout is Creating!

Art Piece: 
“Help Me”
Mixed Media
11”  x  14”
About the Artist:
Greg Trout
Greg Ephemera Trout is an exciting talent that is gaining popularity.  Greg has a permanent piece on display at the Art House Co-Op, in Brooklyn, New York.  Greg says his work is a celebration of detritus, scraps and forgotten lore – finding new and mysterious homes.  Greg says he breathes new life into a picture long thought deceased.
To view more of Greg’s work and the work of all our fine artists, visit us at   Also check out our monthly art competitions.

Friday, July 5, 2013

See What Nikia Ostby is Creating!

 Art Piece: 
11”  x  14”
About the Artist
Nika Otsby :
Nika Ostby’s images do not have perfect proportions. Nika says her subjects do not see themselves the way she sees them; unique, special, and photogenic. Nika believes, through pictures people can see just how beautiful they are. That is why she takes pictures.  Nika feels the need to show her subjects the beauty they exude; from within as well as from their exterior.
To view more of Nika’s work and the work of all our fine artists, visit us at   Also check out our monthly art competitions.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Unexpected Visitors by F.M. Kearney

Like most photographers, I don't like to be disturbed while I'm shooting. Well, I suppose the same thing can be said of anyone when they're working. But, when I'm shooting and have everything set just right, any disturbances are particularly annoying.

I was shooting daylilies against the sun in the New York Botanical Garden one morning. I had my camera mounted on a tripod with a flash attached to compensate for the strong backlight. I was also using a reflector for even better lighting on the side. After shooting several compositions, I suddenly found myself surrounded by a small group of bees. At first, it seemed as though they were attracted to my reflector, however, it soon became apparent that the objects of their desire were the flowers. I patiently waited for them to clear out so I could continue working. Unfortunately, it didn't seem like they were planning on leaving anytime soon. But, as I watched, I noticed that they weren't just buzzing around haphazardly. Like little helicopters on a mission, they were methodically visiting each flower in the area – hovering for a few seconds, then landing to pollinate. I realized that this might make a more interesting photo than just the flowers alone. With the camera on the tripod and already trained on a subject, I only needed to wait for some to come into frame and take the picture. In an image I entitled, “Nature’s Finest,” I caught two bees on approach to a daylily.

I found it somewhat amusing how quickly I went from wishing they would leave to hoping they would not only stick around, but to be part of the image as well. Sometimes, unexpected visitors can bring welcomed surprises.

Article Submitted by:
F.M. Kearney is a fine art nature photographer, specializing in unique floral and landscape images. To see more of his work, please visit

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Guim Tio by Jayme Catalano

 Barcelona based artist Guim Tio Zarraluki distills the complex curves of the human figure into basic, single plane geometry. His subjects are clown-like, comical yet strangely haunting figures with obscured eyes and lifelike lips against matte backgrounds. He often paints over magazine editorials and one can see the ghostly outline of fashion models and text. He recently released a video illustrating his technique using an image of Paul Newman. Click here to learn more about the artist.

Article Submitted by:
-Jayme Catalano
Canary Public Relations

Canary Public Relations is a boutique firm specializing in marketing, branding and public relations for small businesses.  They specialize in working with fine artists, designers, and creative professionals of all types.


Monday, July 1, 2013

See What Franz Criego is Creating!

Art Piece: 
“Mannequin Hand”
11”  x  14”
About the Artist
Franz Criego :
Franz Criego is a natural light photographer, and he tries to never stage his pictures. Beauty is a subjective viewpoint that is shaped by what people experience ,and in return, Franz’s images exude a multi-lingual facet that mirrors American society. Franz’s hope is that his pictures speak to the experiences and in the languages of all who encounter them.

Franz is currently in his last year of law school, with no intention of practicing law. His passion is art and the photographs he captures.

Artist Philosophy:
Franz Criego’s philosophy echoes a thought from Helen Keller. "Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved."
To view more of Franz’s work and the work of all our fine artists, visit us at   Also check out our monthly art competitions.