Jun 152014
 
Pictures will resume shortly.

Pictures will resume shortly.

I’d planned to show you some photos of my latest sketchbook/plaything. So I placed it in my photo cube a couple of nights ago and flicked on my 6-year old DSLR… What the… The shutter release no longer works? Actually, neither does the on/off button — I turned it to off, and it stayed on. It is permanently frozen in some kind of possessed state that is neither on nor off. I eventually removed the battery so I could turn it off. I frantically Googled. Others have had similar issues. With this particular camera, it would be expensive to fix. And it wouldn’t be worth it. This was a low-end Canon Rebel of a few generations back, and I’d actually been fantasizing about upgrading for a while. The camera has had a few sputters in the past, and I’d even picked out which model I’d replace it with. But the sputters had always disappeared as mysteriously as they’d arrived, and any thoughts of replacing it had been definitely in the fantasy stage. I’d hoped to do it, if at all, after my various out-of-town medical trips had been paid off, etc. Alas. The timing was also a bit inconvenient. Norbag, the local book arts guild, has a monthly book exchange and I am their photographer. I document each month’s submissions for their Flickr account. [Later edit: I have since stepped down from this role.] The meeting was two days away. I do have a crummy point-n-shoot as well (which I had to use), but I find it awkward. I’m spoiled. Anyway… the new electronic baby is due to arrive later in the week… And then… photos will resume!

Press the lever… you know you want to.

Press the lever… you know you want to.

(In this house we actually refer to arriving online purchases as “pellets.” As in, the laboratory rat pushes the right button and then, lo and behold!, a reward pellet comes down the chute. The Visa bill, alas, is the negative reinforcement. Z-z-z-a-p!)

Speaking of the sketchbook-plaything, I’ve discovered that I occasionally become the entertainment for others when I’m out drawing in it. A few months back, I was in a coffee shop scribbling and snipping away when I became aware of being watched. There was a little boy of about 6 or so at the table in front of mine. He had a coloring book and some crayons, but had been getting increasingly antsy and whiny with boredom as his mother chatted with a friend. Then suddenly the boy became quiet. I looked up to see that he was now facing backwards on his knees, staring over the back of the chair. His gaze was firmly focused on the sketchbook. I continued on, pretending not to notice. He remained transfixed for what seemed quite a while. Then the kid suddenly whipped around back to his crayons and began to color with silent, manic enthusiasm.

I was thinking of this yesterday after a coffee stop on the way home. I’d wound up spreading out my crayon-equivalents and having some blissful drawing time to go with my iced caffeine. Two women approached as they were leaving. They, it turned out, had been watching me. “You were the entertainment!” Hmmm….

Coffee shop recreation

Feb 142013
 


One of my favorite reads at the moment is Photoshop Masking and Compositing by Katrin Eismann et al. Partly, I want to improve my photos of books so they look professional for web and catalogues and that sort of thing. I also want to keep improving my photos and illustrations for use in my books. One of the things I love about Photoshop is that there is always something new to learn about Photoshop. Every time I start feeling a bit cocky, I realize I hardly know anything, really.

As one of those whose early design experiences date to before the computer era, I don’t think I’ll ever lose a vague sense of wonder as I watch my photos and digital art transform on the screen. And then to have the ability to do professional-level typesetting and layout in InDesign that can be printed out right here at home…! It’s just a part of life now, but when I think back to the world of pre-computer graphics and design, it’s like magic or science fiction or something. I know people just 10 years younger who barely remember film in cameras and don’t understand the lingering sense of amazement the computer brings, even now, to a middle-aged codger who finished her BA before the 90s (well, in 1990, to be precise).

I needed a picture of a clock for one of the BAO books I’m frantically trying to finish. I wanted it to look photographic and sort of old. I could have taken a photo of a clock or obtained a stock photo. But then I remembered the 60+ clock faces I’d put together for the Minute book earlier this year. However, they are flat, black and white and definitely not photographic-looking. But perhaps, I thought, with a little digital tinkering…? After a little fiddling, I began with this:Clock-first version

And after some playing around, I wound up with this:

Clock for Poison

I’m sure I could have done it with more authenticity, but for my tiny miniature, it works. Kids, I’m telling you, this is like sci-fi!

Dec 112010
 
My last film camera. It’s the one I was using in 1997.

I cannot believe it is 10 days into December. How did that happen?

Somewhat fitting the theme, the other day I was browsing through a book called Photomontage: A Step-by-Step Guide to Building Pictures. It came out in 1997.

“In the future,” it tells us, “people will make their family snapshots with digital cameras. At this time, the best digital cameras are very expensive (in Chapter 10 the illustrations for steps 8 and 9 were done with a $30,000 camera . . . ).”

I was sitting in a coffee shop and nearly choked on my brew. Intellectually, I know I didn’t even have a computer in 1997. But it’s still amazing to contemplate that 13 years ago (ok, almost 14) today’s technology was as futuristic as something out of a sci-fi movie. I can only imagine what features that $30,000 camera had (or rather, didn’t have). I hear there was a Canon then that could boast an awesome 6 MP, but 1.5 was more the average.

Nov 072010
 
All Trains Go to King’s Cross St Pancras ©2001
The other day I discovered that one of my old Underground paper mosaic collages is being used in an interesting online exhibition at the musée historique environnement urbain.
This link will take you to the beginning of the London section of the virtual exhibit. If you roll your mouse over the pictures and follow the arrow that appears on the right, you’ll eventually get to All Trains Go to King’s Cross St. Pancras. It’s being used to illustrate the tube-like nature of the deep level tunnelsThe main site  for the virtual musée (in English or en Français) has links to all kinds of exhibitions on aspects of urban life.
By way of background, the picture was based on a photo that I took several years ago at Manor House Station on the Piccadilly Line. The title comes from the announcement on the electronic sign. They’ve since “refurbished” the station. I haven’t seen the cleaned up version in person, although judging by the glossy, bright pictures, I suspect I wouldn’t actually like what they’ve done.
Mar 242010
 

This is the last week my book Atmosphere will be at the “Rain or Shine” Wild Book Show charity exhibition at Gallery Route One in Point Reyes. 

The last day is Sunday March 28, when there will be a party and live auction from 4 – 6 pm. You can bid on the books then, or, I believe, take part in a silent auction leading up to it. Proceeds will be split with the artists in the schools program in the area. I won’t be there, as it’s too far away, but if you happen to be in the Marin area, the address and hours are on their website.

Atmosphere is a miniature accordion of cloud photographs taken from my backyard and at the ocean near where I live. The pages are transparencies layered over coverweight matte paper. Both the transparent and paper elements were inkjet printed with pigmented inks, creating a layered dimensional effect. It has a magnet closure (of the weaker variety).

Atmosphere. Ellen Golla 2010.
Feb 282010
 
My friend Robin Robin died on Friday. He’d been ill, but stable. This came as quite a shock.
Robin was an incredible commercial and portrait photographer with a career that included long stints in Los Angeles and Paris. We met after I’d had a bad experience with another local commercial photographer. Finding someone who really knew how to take professional quality larger format transparencies of artwork in this rural place was difficult. The transparencies were a necessity so I could get images of my paper mosaic collages reproduced. My work also has a glossy sheen to it that makes it difficult to photograph. I hired Robin to retake all of the 4 x 5s of my collage artwork. He did a stellar job of it. His wife Stephanie was his constant companion in the studio, as well as elsewhere, and we hit it off in a big way.

Without Robin’s quality transparencies, I likely could not have kept my work with the Bridgeman Art Library. When I had my last solo show, Robin showed up, tripod in hand, to get pictures of the gallery. It was Stephanie who, indirectly, led me to get involved with the book arts world. They both have had a huge impact on my life here. They have also simply been good friends.

A few years ago, Robin had an idea for a photography show at the local museum (if you click the link, scroll down to February). He wanted to do portraits of local artists. He wanted me to be one of them. The day of the shoot, he had Stephanie sit near me as he took the photos. As I’m sure he knew we would, we got each other in hysterics laughing (I remember I was telling her about my fantasy plastic lawn ornament, a mating turkey decoy — don’t ask how we wound up there). As soon as I started gasping with laughter, he started snapping. Dang him. Then I learned further details about the show. He was planning to make the portraits wall-sized. “Robin,” I nearly screamed, “you didn’t tell me you wanted to be f’ing Chuck Close!” Grudgingly, I had to admit they were the best pictures I’d ever seen of myself. Robin let me have copies of the proofs to use for promo purposes and whatnot.

One day a few years ago I was fishing some locally grown carrots out of a bag. I pulled out a multi-legged mutant that was so funny my husband and I were nearly writhing in tears at the sight of it. I wanted a picture. Then I remembered we’d be seeing Robin and Stephanie the next day. Robin could get a better snapshot of it than I could.

I should’ve known better. Robin took it to his studio and did a set of portraits, even rubbing it with oil to give it a nice sheen. To this day I can’t look at a carrot without thinking of Robin’s photos. I joked with him that he could even make a carrot look sexy, but it wasn’t far from the truth. He was amazing with a camera. And he was the sort of person one would feel lucky to have for a friend. He’s going to be terribly missed.

Feb 142010
 

This is only related to paper in a loose sense. I often used to use 35mm photos as source material for my collage work. I have quite a few photos in boxes, books and piles. Every once in a while I scan a few. These are of the comet Hale-Bopp from 1997.

This one on the left was taken at a mountain pass off of Highway 299, a twisty road that heads east from here. I had gone inland, because here on the coast it’s too foggy most of the time to get a decent picture of something in the sky.

There were quite a few other people skywatching there as well. After I’d set up my tripod, a truck pulled up and parked behind me. Whenever it became dark enough between passing cars to take a picture, its driver would beam his headlights on me, ruining my exposure. I suspect he thought he was being helpful, providing light. I wanted to go tell him what he was really being, but felt intimidated. Eventually, though, I did manage to get a few snaps and was happy.

That general time when the comet was around provided a few strange memories. One night that March there was also a lunar eclipse. It was an unusually clear evening, and I was driving down the highway with my husband just after dark. The sides of the road were lined with parked cars where there normally would never be any. People stood all around staring up in a daze, gazing back and forth from one part of the sky to another, from the huge comet to the eclipse and back again. It looked like a scene from a Sci Fi flick. The aliens are landing. Or the Apocalypse is about to begin.

This picture on the right is especially for my friends D. and M., who weren’t yet born in ’97. D. loves comets and all things astronomical. This was taken in McKinleyville, not too far from where they live.

I happen to like comets too, although not with such a scientific bent. By coincidence the year before Hale-Bopp appeared, I did the paper mosaic collage Sleepers Awake (below). This comet was actually constructed from pictures of a galaxy from an old book. I cut them up into little bits and rearranged the bits into a comet.

I guess, in the end, I did manage to make this somehow be about paper.