Thursday, July 29, 2010

Bangor State Fair...

Had fun last night with some of the folks from the Eastern Maine Camera Club.  They invited me back again as one of the judges for the photography contest they organize for the Bangor State Fair.  We had a fun group of judges and some very nice images to choose from.  There were a few images there that I wish I could have claimed as my own!  I think I was most impressed by the YOUTH category, 13 and under.  There was some composition & creativity displayed that I know I hadn't yet developed by that age.  You can see the photographs on display at the Bangor Civic Center during the dates of the fair.  Check them out if you're in the area!  Bangor State Fair

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Website Issues...

It could not have come at a worse time.  I'm cramming to get merchandise ready for my upcoming show in Bar Harbor this weekend ( Castleberry Fairs ) and five very long days in the ART TENT at the Maine Lobster Festival .  Its been almost a week now since my first reports of the smaller thumbnail images on my website taking excessive time to download as larger images.  Thanks to Diane & Jim (also affectionately referred to as my "guinea pigs" ) for their patience in testing download times for me. 

It seems as though (at the moment) the speed issue may have been addressed, however now, my HOMEPAGE is severely compromised, with the wrong logo and missing most of the navigation tabs at the top of the page, not to mention valuable links I had personalized at the bottom of the page. It seems as though in the WEEK its taken them to fix one issue, they've created MORE.  The drop down menus are not working properly, as with other features.

... and just in time for my nice article in the Bar Harbor Times and additional publicity that my new friend Terri Mahoney has arranged for me on VillageSoup news pages.  I expect to be on the phone more time today than I had planned, but hope to get issues corrected as soon as possible. 

In case you come upon this BLOG, please be patient and check back regarding my website issues.  I hope that folks out there visiting my website for the first time will not hold this against me.

Article in the BAR HARBOR TIMES !!

Thanks to my friend Gail Cleveland and her invitation to exhibit at her gallery SMART STUDIO in Northeast Harbor, Maine... the Bar Harbor Times has run a very nice article on my and my photography.  You can view it online, including some sample images.  Check out the link:  Bar Harbor Times

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Nesting Loon...

I was able to make it back to the loon nest again, to check on her progress.  I was excited to still find her there!  A bit more familiar with the situation this time, my arrival there was under better lighting conditions.  The late day sun was warm and beautifully lit nest from the front.  I would make a few pictures, then the clouds would cover & I'd lose my light.  Every time this happened, I'd think, "well, at least I got a few images before I lost the sun".  And then, the clouds would clear.  I spent over three hours with her that evening.  She was a very cooperative & beautiful subject, although I was concerned for her well-being.  It was one of those incredibly HOT & humid days and she had been sitting in direct sun all day long.  There she was, a black bird under the blaring sun with no shade for relief.  Panting, she looked very uncomfortable.  Each time I'd get ready to pack up my gear, something would make me stay just a tad longer.  I was excited to see the male loon arrive and switched to a zoom lens to capture the pair switching off the nesting responsibilities.  I was anxious to see her get off the nest and into the cool water.  However, the male never traded places with her.  With loons, both the male & female take turns sitting on the egg.  This male however, made to attempt to releive her.  Finally, she left the nest, though only for a few minutes.  She dipped into the cool water, approached the male and then as if she couldn't convince him to trade off, she returned to the nest again.  This is the image below, where is returning to the egg.  She could not have been more cooperative.  A few minutes after settling back on the nest, she pulled her body up and turned the egg, then rested back down again.

Most people don't realize how challenging the circumstances are for loons to successfully hatch a chick or two.  Unlike ducks, their legs are positioned way back on their body.  They are unable to walk on land.  Loons only touch land to nest and even then, it has to be at waters edge so they can get on & off the nest.  They push their bodes up with their legs and thrust themselves forward.  The nests are incredibly vulnerable.  Subtle rising or dropping water levels will either flood the nest and drown the egg, or make their nest unreachable for the adult.  This is why the man-made floating nests are getting more popular.  The fact that they float, at least eliminates the water level issue. Still, they are susceptible to predators, muskrat, raccoons, eagles, gulls and so on. I haven't taken the time to see what their success rate for nesting might be, but I know its got to be rather low.  The pair I'd bee following in Acadia for three season now, didn't even try to nest this year.  Last year, the heavy rains flooded their nest.  It breaks my heart to sit with them, watch them patiently lie in the blaring sun hour after hour, day after day, only to have harm come to their egg, via circumstances beyond their control. You can tell by their behavior that they're in mourning at the loss of their chick.

Just as I was finally getting ready to leave, a man who fishes the pond came to talk with me.  He informed me that this loon had been on the nest since late May.  Gestation period for a loon to hatch is 28-30 days.  He said that the "preserve" which monitored the damn had flooded it shortly after she laid the egg.  There is no way she should still be on that egg, if it were viable it would have hatched by now.  He also told me that the male no longer switches off with her on the nest.  I'm a firm believer that the loon knows if her egg is viable or not and hope that they've laid a second egg and she knows what she's doing. The optimist that I am, is hoping this fisherman who's property borders the pond, is wrong and that she will soon be hatching a healthy little loon chick.  I will get back to check sometime next week and will hopefully have a positive update.

Belfast Art in the Park...

Well, as always, it was a good show and I would like to thank the organizers for doing such a fine job.  HOWEVER... I must admit, that in all of my years of exhibiting at art shows, this show presented the worst weather to take down the display at the end of the show & attempt to pack up.  
The picture below actually was Saturday afternoon.  The rain held off for as long as it could, but then the skies just opened up and it POURED!  Thankfully, it only rained hard for 20 minutes and then the precipitation subsided.  On Sunday, we were not so fortunate.  When the rain began on Sunday afternoon, it really came down hard, and kept coming down...  within a half an hour, I could no longer see my feet when I stood in the lower corner of my booth.  I had changed from my leather sandals into my crocs, and it was a good thing, because anything at my ankles or lower was  under water.  My cloth cooler was flooded, the tote bag that holds my rain gear & clothing was waterlogged  & water was pouring into the bottom drawer of my tower where I store my supplies.  I always bring my LL Bean goretex rain coat & pants, but I have never had to resort to wearing my rain pants at a show.  I was extremely grateful that I had them, especially when I ended up along side other artists behind a minivan spinning in the mud, attempting to push it from its stuck position. 
The show ended at 4pm and I was driving away just before 7:00.  Vehicles that had driven onto the green when the rain first started, were getting stuck in the mud.  Ruts formed quickly and made it very difficult for those trying to get their vehicles out, or use hand trucks or wagons to get their artwork into their vehicles.  I'm sure there were unfortunate souls who had their merchandise get wet.  

My jeweler friend Wendy graciously offered to help me finish taking down, since she was already packed.  I first said no, but quickly changed my mind.  I'm so glad I did! Having an second person to help fold up the white tent walls and keep things out of the mud was invaluable!  Somehow, I was able to transport the contents of my tent into my truck & trailer without any real damage.  It has however, taken 3 days to dry everything out after the show!  

For as challenging as the take-down was, I must say that I was very impressed with everyone's behavior & attitudes.  I didn't hear any yelling or swearing. All the artists appeared to keep their cool, even those soaked to the skin, those spinning their vehicles in the mud & those who were trekking back & forth through the mud to the parking lot w/ hand trucks.  Photographer Scott Perry was all packed up and could have been on his way to a nice, dry home .  Instead, he came back to help a neighbor pack up and hooked up a tow strap to the stuck van & pulled it out.  Others, once packed up, returned to help their neighbor pack up their displays.  I was really quite impressed.  During the hour & a half drive home, water dripped down my back, my hair was soaked, I kept picking grass out of my hair that the minivan spit up... Oh what fun!  For as hot as I've been the past week or more, I couldn't believe I was cranking the heat all the way home!

I would like to thank everyone who came out this past weekend to support local artists. I'd especially like to thank those who braved the weather and made the extra effort to come out when the conditions were less favorable, to say the least.

I've recently been informed by the "Friends of Belfast Park", who organize the event, that I was selected as their "2011 ARTIST OF THE YEAR".  When they first told me, I was flattered, but had no idea what that meant.  They have chosen my work as the artwork that will be used next year to promote the 2011 art show.  Selected images of mine will be used on post cards, posters and bookmarks as well as in some press releases and yes, my name will accompany my images.  Its very flattering, especially since there are so many quality artisans at this show.  I will keep you posted as the new publicity falls into place.  I must say, I'm honored to be associated with such a fine show.  Let's hope that the weather next year will cooperate better next year! 

Monday, July 5, 2010

Nesting Loons...

I got a tip the other day about the location of a nesting loon.  Yesterday I took a ride and sure enough, there she was!  It's a bit of a drive, so I fear I won't be able to check back often enough to be there when the chick hatches.  However, I'm going to try.  I'll keep you posted.

It sure was quick & easy to upload this images.  Many less hassles than if I had tried with my old BLOG software. 

What do you think?

New BLOG...

I'm trying a new BLOG.  I started my previous BLOG using software that was linked to my website.  It came in handy to share my experiences over the winter as I drove to Florida on a photography assignment.  However, as I attempted to keep the BLOG updated, I found the previous software didn't offer as many features as I would have liked.  Therefore, I am trying this version to see how I (and those who would like to post comments) like the new layout & features.  

The advantages to this new BLOG appear to be many.  I can have a list of followers and know if anyone is really keeping track of my progress, or if I am just writing to entertain myself.  :-)   It will be easier to share updates on Facebook and other social networks.  It will be easier to add photos.  With my previous version, I could only attach images that I'd already added to my website, which is no small feat.  That alone, prevented me from adding images from the road, that would have been fun to share.  It seems as though I can easily upload images, even if they are not yet added to my website.  I will be able to link videos, podcasts and hopefully, this new BLOG will offer more exposure as it is linked to the community.

Please feel free to leave comments, either positive or negative.  I do still have to approve all comments before they post, so please don't be discouraged if they don't appear automatically.