The new year, a new fable, a new sky

The stress and activities of the holidays have passed, and so has a long-in-the-planning large group family vacation. Vacations are fun, and often filled with stressful hassles, not so unlike the holidays. It seems as if it’s been nothing but go-go-go, and for the past month or more I’ve felt like I was on some treadmill to finals week.

There’s a poorly mixed metaphor.

tangerine sky

tangerine sky

Now, though, I’m ready to put my energy toward other things, and take on 2011 for the challenge of a new year. I’ve an itch to find inspiration, to take something and explore it, alter it, enhance it, change it in to something new and unexpected. I want the challenge of discovery and creation, and the exhaustion of hard work.

I have some ideas to examine, which range from a pile of scripts to read, to an original video to shoot and edit, to the all-encompassing endeavor of writing and work-shopping a new play.

The new play revolves around a mystery and the search for the truth. But it’s not just the truth but really a search for what is truth. What defines truth is becoming whatever it is one believes, based on knowledge or facts to which credence is given for whatever credit and value is assigned by the believer. Personal opinion has become its own monetary and marketed system, its own economy, its own actuality.

It’s an exploration of our modern society where my truth and your truth co-exist and each maintains its credibility despite the conflicting facts, and it fractures the world we once knew.

It’s all there in a simple modern fable, just waiting to be written and told.

That may be the tangerine sky I’m seeking.

Autumn hits the north shore


North Shore Lake Superior, October 2010

This was taken standing out on the rocks along the shore near Grand Marais, Minn. I was facing the sun, experimenting with shadows and direct light. Then I adjusted the sharpness, boosted and removed some color, eliminating the sun flare but turning it all silver and black, which is how the lake really looked. And using a multi-frame shooting mode I was able to capture one of the big sprays.

Picking the pic

Last week we did a photo shoot. Monday the production marketing picture is due to the Fringe. We played with them, adjusted them, discussed them. We’re down to the few finalists (which are really just 6 slight variations on a theme) plus our secondary picture.

The problem was the early playing. I started toying with them and happened to apply a photoshop effect to picture A – and everyone who saw it was drawn to it. I was initially just so-so on it.

OK. I can handle that.

But there was a slightly better picture right next to picture A. It was picture B. The composition was a touch better, and the expression in the actor’s eyes was more purposeful. More intense. It’s a slightly better pic.

So let’s go with picture B, using the effect placed on picture A. Besides, the altered picture A is a low-res jpg. Not what we need. After all, it was just playing, just happenstance. I wasn’t really going for something.

Such is art some times.

Super. How did I do that?

Three hours later, I may have successfully done it. The difference in the raw pics—a slightly different focal point, slightly different hot spots, a small adjustment in composition—all made it truly different. That, and trying to figure out just what had been done.

Will anyone notice? No one but me.

I’ve put ’em up on a web gallery, and sent out a call to vote.

I hope I’m as satisfied in the morning.

Shooting in the Raw

Oh, life in the theatre! What joy! I’m exhausted.

But I think in a good way.

I took a personal day from the dang day-job because it was getting in the way of actually accomplishing some tasks whose deadlines are rapidly approaching. I needed some breathing room to get some work done. It was a beautiful day outside, so working from home, with my windows open and my dog at my side, was much more appealing than sitting in the windowless, beige, beige and more beige cube.

I was able to work on some production plans, hunting down rehearsal space, wrote show descriptions for marketing materials for the Fringe materials, and arranged (and shot) press photos. [I should just say here that I realize how ridiculous it is that I took the pictures for a show I’ve co-written and am directing, but budget and time constraints made this the best option, and I know I can take a good picture.] 

We’ve been talking about  some ideas of what we wanted in a picture, and I typed up a whole list of shots to take. Then promptly never looked at the list. Fortunately I got most everything anyway, and have more than enough stuff to work with. Everything was shot in RAW to give me the most opportunity for manipulation. I spent last night playing with some of the files – with tints and temperatures and contrast and exposure and shadow and various Photoshop effects.

I think actually one of the coolest things I found was simply in iPhoto (which reads raw files which surprised me.) Boosting the color AND then fading the color almost the same degree makes an eerie look. The more I played with the pictures, the less I liked them as raw, unedited shots, and the more they looked like canvasses ready to be filled.

I could spend hours and hours just playing with the images this way, and it’s really tempting because it’s fun. But I need to find the best ones in terms of composition and how well it will catch and eye and sell this show, and then I can play with those.

Gee, perhaps I should be working at home again today?