Learning More About a Friend and an Art Form

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I’ve known my friend Maria Kaiser for approximately 15 years. We got to know one another as members of the Cleveland Photographic Society and she and I share a love of photojournalistic/documentary photography. I also knew that Maria did some printmaking and I had seen a few of her print creations. What I didn’t know however, was that she was a serious printmaker! Last year she held a print show at the Shaker Nature Center and I saw for the first time her zeal and skill in this art form that I knew little about. Her printmaking is spectacular and I wanted to learn more about it.

Amazingly, Maria works on her prints several times a week in the printmaking studio at Cuyahoga Community College and the studio is less than 100 feet from the classroom where I teach digital photography. I asked if I could visit some sessions and was given permission by printmaking instructor Keegan Adams.

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Instructor Keegan Adams conducts a critique session

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I learned that there are many different techniques of printmaking and all involve many complicated steps using different tools, chemicals, inks, plate materials and papers. I visited the studio on 4 different occasions, observing and photographing many different steps and techniques and speaking with a number of the other artists working alongside Maria.

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Images are made on different types of materials, wood blocks, metal plates, plexiglass and others just to name a few. The images are made through etching, carving and engraving on these different materials. The tools used are varied.

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Maria uses a Lawson solution to transfer one of her photos directly onto a metal plate for printing

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Keegan Adams demonstrates some engraving techniques

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Maria engraves on a coated plate

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Instructor Keegan Adams mixes an acid solution for etching

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Fabiana Olivier prepares a plate for etching

After the plates are produced they are prepared for printing by mixing inks and applying them to the plates and then run through a press to print on various types of paper or other materials.

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Maria adjusting the pressure on the press

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My fifth visit was to view a show at the college’s gallery where many of the artists I had been observing were exhibiting their work.

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Cookie Kless displays her artwork

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Maria Kaiser and Instructor Keegan Adams stand by Maria’s artwork

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Sally Baden displays her complex print

The printmaking process was fascinating for me to learn about and I may have to sign up for some classes to learn how to do it myself. The creativity and possibilities are endless.

I’d like to thank Maria, Keegan, the Visual Arts Program at Cuyahoga Community College and of course all of the artists who welcomed and tolerated me looking over their shoulders and clicking my camera while they worked.

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Lost in Digital Art

A few days ago I posted this image, or should I say digital art, that I produced from a fireworks image I shot in 2014.  It got a lot of attention and lots of likes and comments on Facebook.  I was playing when I produced it, wanting to make something different from the typical fireworks shots I’d been seeing.  It’s one of my idiosyncrasies, wanting my photos and art to look different. 

The original image looked like this:

Original fireworks tentacles

Shot in 2014, it reminded me of the tentacles hanging down from a Portuguese Man of War or a Jellyfish.  It was strange enough as it was but I decided to play some more so I flipped it over and added it to the top of itself to form a mirrored image top to bottom.

Mirrored image — synapses

Once I had the mirrored image, I applied a radial colored gradient to the image and played with the blending modes  and opacity (all done in Adobe Photoshop CC) to come up with the final image at the top of this post.

Playing with different blending modes and opacities, I also came up with some other looks that were pretty far out there as well.  Here’s another I saved. It reminded me of a bloodshot eye.

Bloodshot eye

It’s fun playing and taking photos to the world of digital art. The possibilities are endless and it’s always a creative adventure.

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Remembering Summer

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With temperatures dropping into the single digits tonight and lake effect snow in the forecast, my mind turned to a warm summer day back in July.  I was at the Fairport Harbor Lake Metropark beach waiting to see some of the tall ships as they prepared for the day’s Parade of Sail.  I spent the entire day there, on the beach, shooting beach scenes while waiting for the occasional tall ship shot.

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While wind sailors sailed and lifeguards watched, kept swimmers safe and interacted with sunbathers, the beach was active with muscle builders, football tossers, and others just enjoying a beautiful day at the beach.

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It will be quite a few months now until we return to those warm beach days. Enjoy this view until then.

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The Death of a Barn

Rome, Ohio barn

Rome, Ohio barn

Back a few years ago, 2013 to be exact, while barnstorming I came upon this farm in Rome Twp. Ohio which was up for auction and had a beautiful old dairy barn and silo.

In June of this year, I returned to find the barn in a state of demolition.  It looked like perhaps some of the lumber was being recycled as the barn was being somewhat carefully disassembled.

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The barn, largely still standing was now open air with the loft walls having been removed.

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The immensity of the barn became evident as I got closer and caught a glimpse inside.

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Then, once inside, the sheer volume and complexity of it’s construction became clear.  It seemed a shame that this barn, still quite sound, was losing it’s life.

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Yet, in one corner of the barn I found this nest of barn swallows.  There was, at least for some short period of time, some life in this barn after all.

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Back to My Photo Roots

Lately I’ve had to urge to go back to my photo roots of shooting black and white street photography.  Last week I took 2 days, one rainy and one sunny, to roam around in the heart of downtown Cleveland capturing street scenes.  Here are a few that I liked.

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Evidence of an Existence — Time Ran Out

Time Ran Out

Time Ran Out

On a cold Sunday afternoon last weekend, a friend and I went out looking for something to photograph.  As I’ve done many times during the past few years, I guided my car out into rural Geauga and Ashtabula Counties in Ohio.  The recession of a few years ago had a severe impact on parts of these counties.  We came upon a deserted home and barn and stopped to take a look.  As we approached the house, we found that the front door was gone and the house was wide open all around.  Looking inside, the floors appeared to be intact and secure so we ventured inside.  The deteriorating clock was lying on a piece of furniture just inside the door and seemed symbolic to me, time had run out on this residence.

Where did they go?

Where did they go?

As we investigated further we found a home that seemed to have been abandoned but not emptied.  The open dresser was still full of clothes.

A sad reminder of past residents.

A sad reminder of past residents.

A photo album was left to deteriorate on the floor, showing children or grandchildren who perhaps occupied this farm house.

For Better and ......?

For Better and ……?

A Mother’s Day card signifying “better days” and perhaps sadly suggesting worse days to come.

Evidence of a human existence.

Evidence of a human existence.

Did the house go into foreclosure?  Did the family just up and leave?  Did they pass away and other family, if there were any, just abandon the property?  So many questions came to mind as we explored further.

The living room.

The living room.

The kitchen.

The kitchen.

The living room and kitchen, still full of furniture, cookware, dishes and another clock suggesting that at 11:55 something ended.

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What once appeared to be a very large barn, partially collapsed, now served as a canvas for graffiti.

The entire period of time exploring this property become increasingly mysterious and sad, wondering what happened to the occupants of this home and farm.  The possibilities are many and the days since shooting it have been full of wondering, imagining and writing stories in my head.  All sad however.

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Patty’s Farm – A Little Story

Patty's Farm, Medina County OH

Patty’s Farm, Medina County OH

A few months ago, while “barnstorming” with photo friend Debra Rozin, we came upon this farm in Medina County.  Attracted by the beautiful old red barn and the American Flag on the silo, we approached to get some nice shooting angles on the barn.

Staring back

Staring back

As we approached a group of cow’s came to on opening in a building in front of the barn to investigate the 2 photographers coming up the hill.

While photographing these cows a minivan pulled up and a lady by the name of Patty got out.  We learned that she was the owner, with her husband, of the barn and farm surrounding it on both sides of the road.  Patty was very friendly and offered to take these two city folk for a little tour of the farm and introduce us to some of her animals, mostly dairy cows.

Oink oink

Oink oink

On the way back to the pasture we passed a small pig pen and interrupted their rooting in the mud.

Patty leading us to meet her herd

Patty leading us to meet her herd

As Patty led us back to the grazing cattle a number of curious cows came up and wanted to meet us on a personal level.  They were very friendly and one began to push me from behind with a nose in the middle of my back.  They are beautiful animals and well cared for.

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Patty regretfully told us that she and her husband are the last in their family to want to run the farm. Once they decide to retire the farm will most likely be sold to developers and homes will be built on the land. The small family farm is quickly becoming a thing of the past.

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