Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Painting & Photography Update

A couple of weeks ago I wrote how I've been hankering to a) do some really simple, colorful paintings (I hadn't painted for a long while!), and b) learn how to use my camera, take it off automatic and take much better pictures. By saying so here, perhaps I was more likely to follow through -- you know, putting one's intentions out into the Universe? Last week I did a first simple painting and I signed up for a photography class.

This week I've done a couple more silly little paintings:

Fun. (Did you know that about robots? I bet not.)

As for photography, I bought a new lens, and I'm really excited about it and can't wait to get out and do some experimenting! It's a 50mm 1.8 -- numbers which until very recently would have meant nothing to me. One of my dearest friends has been getting into photography, and she was telling me a while back that I really need to get a *fixed* lens, that is: a non-zoom. She said, "You zoom with your feet." Ha ha! Wait. What? You actually have to move closer to the object you're photographing? How lame. But seriously, I couldn't imagine how a fixed lens could beat a zoom. I just have no sense of the technical aspects of photography. But I've been gradually learning teeny tiny bits of information here and there and beginning to grasp (in a teeny tiny way) some of the basics.

I promise this won't get technical because I don't know enough to get technical, but here's this basic thing: depth of field. You know how some photos have a sharp foreground object/figure and then the background is softly out of focus, beautifully blurry? Well, using my zoom lens and having my camera set on fully automatic, I never in two-and-a-half years took a picture that looked like that. If I photographed a flower, everything behind the flower would still be in focus -- distracting and super-duper-amateurish. I didn't know how to manipulate depth of field. No clue.

Okay, I still don't, but I'm beginning to know how to try. I've learned (at last) that it's aperture that determines depth of field. Basically, it's how much your lens opens to let in light (well, it's actually how much it opens in relation to how long it is, but I'm not going to attempt a real explanation.) My old lens could only open to a maximum of 3.5-5.6mm, whereas my new lens can open to 1.8 (that's a lot!), and at that setting I can get that really shallow depth of field that makes the background all buttery and soft. Cool! The lens just arrived yesterday, so I've only snapped a few quick pictures and I'm not saying they're great, but I love the way the leaves on the trees get all like coins of light:

Isn't that neat? (You'll be happy to know that Jim did not devour the baby!) The above would be a more dramatic demonstration if I had pics at a smaller aperture for comparison, but I don't. It's this week's assignment in my photo class, though, so I'm sure I will! Oh, the other great thing about the 1.8 fstop is that it lets in a lot of light so it's good for shooting indoors or in low light without a flash! The particular lens I bought is fondly known as the "plastic fantastic" because they're really *cheap* (relatively) at just over $100, whereas the good one from the same company is more like $500.

Anyway, I'm just really excited by the prospect of new knowledge and cool pictures. This is making me want to go on little neighborhood safaris and maybe out to the apple orchards in Hood River. See and do new things, see with new eyes. AND take better blog photos! Next time I make cupcakes or something crafty or want to set up an artful still life, I'll be able to get a much more interesting/pretty shot. Ooh. Maybe I need to make pretty cupcakes this week to use as subject matter for my assignment . . . Or heck, I could buy some cupcakes! They'd be prettier than what I could make. Or . . . donuts! Hm. Donuts are photogenic. . . Must photograph something delicious :-) Stay tuned!


tanita davis said...

There's something really neat about that Bird Man picture, especially. I don't know how you do that polka dotted background and foreground. Cool!

Also, C. Pie looks hilariously blissed out as her Daddy threatens to eat her. He must be part vampire.

So glad that all is well in the little Taylor/DiBartolo nest.

Katie said...


Seriously. Your art is incredible! I absolutely adore it! I want a PB for Clementine about all sorts of fabulous pies :-)

And Jim and Clem are adorbs!

But I really like your coins of light. And the fact that the lantern is off center.

storyqueen said...

Laini, what a cool time in your life! Everything is alive with possibility.


Amber Lough said...

Donuts? Perhaps. But I say cupcakes are WAY more photogenic.

Shveta said...

Congrats on the starred review (am about to preorder; yum!) and the new lens. (I'll have to look at the pictures at home.) One thing that's so inspiring about you is that you are always looking for new ways to create art. Thanks for that.

Amber Lough said...

I wanted to add that I'm working on "other creative projects" as well, but not painting...sewing! I got a sewing machine and am hittin' it hard.

Also just finished my first 50 pages in my WIP. Took me, what, FOREVER???

(This is funny: My word verification is "probib." It's a good word for people like me, who have a baby that is always spitting up.)

Martha Brockenbrough said...

Laini, when are you going to start selling these allegedly simple paintings so your fans can have some slices of Laini in their houses?

Anonymous said...

Is this any way to treat my booger-goddaughter by eating her? I don't think so. If she has any nibble marks, her booger god-mamma will leap into superhero action and bite the whole torso off of the nibbler. You know I will too.

myrna said...

Love the paintings! The birds remind me of the ones you made into garlands.

I love learning how to do stuff.

Q said...

Oh! Clementine's eyes are so blue!

Tinker said...

Oh I love your paintings!
How exciting about the photo class too - I keep saying I'm going to learn, s-o-m-eday...maybe by the time I have great-grandchildren?!
p.s. I'm really glad no babies were harmed in the making of that picture :)

Lori's Lens said...

Yay! You got the plastic fantastic Lens! and YAY! You get aperature! and you know what Depth of field is! FANTASTIC! Are you working with White balance, exposure and shutter speed yet? SOOOO exciting! The lantarn photo is great! This is only the first week of having the lens...imagine what your photos will look like two weeks from now, a month or a few months!

I'm totally looking forward to see your photos develop...and to take some pictures of Clementine at Christmas (Should I be so lucky to see you guys!). My sister is having a babyshower in so cal..FYI!

xx Lori

Marissa said...

I love that the robot has wings- so fun! Both paintings made me smile.

And I noticed the same thing as Q (but who couldn't?) - Clementine's eyes are such an extraordinary blue.

I think I need to take a photography class. The photos I've been taking of my baby are good enough to share with long-distance family members on flickr, but if I try to enlarge them I'm sure every fiber of the towels I pull out of the hamper to use as a backdrop will be really obvious!

storyqueen said...

Laini, you might want to come over to my blog where I kind of basically just took credit for your success....and your baby......


Liana said...

Go You!! Both on the art AND photography. Very cool and fun!

I am in love with Bird Man, by the way. I would absolutely buy a print of that (as well as one for my cousin) if you ever decide to sell some prints, sign me up!! It's just so whimsical and colorful and cute and fun and I love mustaches and birdies so it...yeah. It rocks. :)

You continue to amaze and inspire, Laini- that's one reason why I love your blog so much. :)

Anonymous said...

Not going to lie--totally love the robot painting.

eda said...