Category Archives: Photography

Blanket Flowers and Flip-Flops

gallardiaphoto© Jessica Wesolek 2014

It certainly is time for some catching up, isn’t it?

I thought I would do that, and share a little garden beauty with you.

I love and hate this time of year. Love because the garden is at its peak of glory after a season of pampering, and hate because that season is coming to an end in another month or so. Continue reading

Product Photography and a Road Trip . . .

chileearringsAs I mentioned, I used to do a lot of product photography for catalogs, brochures, etc. and I also used to act as art director on photo shoots when I worked in San Francisco.

Sets were elaborate, lighting took hours to get right, and shoots took all day. And that was only if the client was cooperating.

At one point, we specialized in jewelry because it was a “specialty” – really hard to get right – and my partner at that time was a really great jewelry photographer.

HOW things have changed.

I am creating our online Market for the gallery, and I have to make good photos of my jewelry.

I still have my professional studio lighting, tents, umbrellas, etc.

I even have a more modern digital lighting and light tent set-up.

But I’m not using any of it.

Last Saturday, my friend, Betsy, and I went to a few of the studios on the annual Art Tour in our village.

One visit was to see my friend, Sharon. Her new work is awesome and she had already sold seven pieces by lunchtime! Yay!

Our second stop was to visit Penny Truitt, another ceramic artist I really admire.

She does some amazing sculptures for a gallery on Canyon Road, but at her studio, she also had some great little tiles she does for fun, which were also affordable.

I got a set of three I will frame in a shadow box, and another that reminded me of local adobe ruins. I just thought that last one could hang out with me in my greenhouse studio, where I have other interesting ceramic things.

And that was a fortuitous decision, because as I sat there doing some jewelry photography – with ONLY indirect daylight and my iPad – my eyes landed on that last tile and I sat my chile earrings on it.

Wow. I loved that shot (top of the post).

So, I got those other tiles out (glad I haven’t framed them yet). and set some special Jasper bracelets on top of them . . .


bluemattejadeThis was such a perfect “set” for my jewelry!

NOTE: The greatest thing about this Jasper is its matte finish, which feels cool and smooth in a very unusual way. I’ve never felt anything like it, and they are hard to put down. I found a very limited supply of these in Tucson and can’t get any more until maybe next year (I hope!)

Anyway, it is truly incredible that you can now do beautiful photography this way – with just an iPad, some indirect daylight, and some artistic props. It looks just as good as the stuff that used to take us an entire day! If you had told me about this then, I would never have thought it possible. Goes to show you never know what can happen.

Betsy and I have rented a couple of cottages in a garden with duck ponds, in an apple orchard, outside Durango, CO, and we are leaving this morning for 4 days..

Sounds like a dream for art journaling, and we will also be spending time with my friend, Valerie, and her wonderful gallery.

Yes, I will be taking you along.



New Book – iPad Photo Arts

iPad-Photo-Arts-CoverOh my. You never know where you are going with something.

Two weeks ago, I began the process of updating one of the workbooks I wrote in 2012 for the Ipad Studio Workshop. One app had disappeared and another had some changes and I was just going to update the workbook as a part of my plan to release the individual workbooks from the Studio on their own.

This workbook was about photography – about how to edit and play with photos on the iPad.

The more I got into it, the more it became obvious how much has changed in the course of two years – not just with these couple of apps, but with photography as an art medium.

EVERYBODY is a photographer these days.

OK, one guy in Des Moines isn’t.

But everybody else is wielding camera phones and digi-cams, and photos are flying through the air – Flickr-ing, Instagramming, Facebooking, Pinning, filling email (and I do mean FILLING email.)

Photos abound. Photographic knowledge does not abound.

I remember about fourteen years ago when I was trying to teach Photoshop and Elements online to artists. It was like pulling teeth to get them to accept this new way of working with images.

I was ahead of the times, but the times caught up.

These days, hardly anyone fears Photoshop anymore.

But these days, hardly anyone needs Photoshop anymore either

They are carrying iPads around with them – which contain everything they need to do anything and everything with photographs.

And it’s all so much easier.

But most people are still just poking at things without a clue how to do something on purpose with all these magic buttons we’ve got.

And so I thought somebody should maybe write a simple handbook about how to do everything with photos on the iPad.

And so I did.

But I didn’t call it “How to Do Everything with Photos on the iPad”.

I called it “iPad Photo Arts”. Classier.

This workbook has it all – how to shoot photos with the iPad, and/or import photos shot with something else. How to edit and fix and manipulate and distress. How to retouch and resize and make photo collages that are tastefully designed.

Even how to ORGANIZE all those photos you have on your iPad.

I am fond of all the books I write for you, but I must say I am especially proud of this one.

Somehow, working on this for two weeks, I managed to get everything you need to know into a 70 page ebook (PDF).

And it’s all explained simply in my step-by-step style – so there will be no inner child left behind.

Not only will you learn HOW to do everything with photos, you will learn WHY you are doing it, so you will know WHAT to do to get any desired result with your photos and images.

This wonderfully empowering workbook is $15 even though it is half again as long as the other iPad Workbooks. Any student registered in the iPad Studio Workshop can claim a $5 discount in the Shopping Cart.

Whether you are a photo hobbyist, a photo artist, a scrap booker, collage artist, or that guy from Des Moines, if you have an iPad, and any photos around, you NEED this book.

And you can get it here:

iPad Photo Arts


My Shopping Cart is temporarily refusing to download the new book automatically. I will email you a direct link to the book as soon as I see your order come in. There is no need to email me about the problem – we are working on it.


Can you have fun Resizing Photos?


As all of you know, I have been teaching computer graphics online for a LONG time. And I am pretty good at explaining stuff that seems complicated.

But there is one thing that remains unteachable for the most part, no matter how hard I try.

That thing is resizing photos. I have taught myself blue in the face and still, most folks just glaze right over when the subject comes up – or God forbid, the need arises.

I was reminded of this again the other day when a nice customer at the gallery offered to send me some pictures of a rusted raven he bought from us – now nicely ensconced in his garden. He said he would just send them all since he hadn’t really edited them yet.

OMG. I got almost a gigabyte worth of email with HUGE photos that took forever to download, and when they did, I had to scroll to see them – on my 24″ display!

Sound familiar?

So the irony is that we now have more photos than at any time in history, and yet we don’t use them or print them much because we can’t figure out resizing.

I also teach art journaling, as you know, and when we had the Santa Fe Retreat last September, I knew that people were going to want to take pictures of Santa Fe – AND they were going to want to put them in their journals. AND they all had iPads.

So I wrote a book about it – and gave it to them – and they loved it – and NOBODY had a problem about their photos being the right size to fit on their journal pages – regardless of what space they had to occupy. And nobody wasted any photo paper because we could print a bunch of photos of varied sizes on one page.

And nobody had to even think about pixels or resolution or anything else like that. They just arranged their photos to fit their pages layouts. And it was fun and intuitive and creative and artistic. All of that – really.

So, I updated the book and added some helpful templates – for cards and things as well as journal pages, and I have published it just in time for the busiest PHOTO season of the year.

And some of you might get iPads for Christmas if you haven’t got one already.

But for sure all of you are going to greatly increase the number of photos you don’t know what to do with during this holiday season, so you NEED this book.

You don’t need any background or to have taken the iPad Studio Workshop. This book stands alone.

If, however, you don’t know squat about photos and images on the iPad – like where they are kept and how to move them around and stuff like that, you might also want my iPad Studio Workbook 1 – which covers all that stuff. Therefore, I am offering a bundle of the two which will save you $5. It’s in the Shopping Cart.

SO, here is the link to this revolutionary Workbook. You will never have to worry about pixels again!

Printing Photos from Your iPad

What else is new . . .

Tis the season to be SO busy. I’ve been making art glass, buying a new car (had to), and planning the big gallery move.

I have things to share but it will have to be next time because the timer just ding-a-linged to tell me my famous baked potatoes are done and there are people around here who cannot wait!

Here’s that recipe in the Wisdom Woman Archives . . .


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For the Birds . . .


Backstage at the Whatever . . . Whenever Blog

I wrote yesterday’s post while sitting in my favorite place on earth – my garden swing.

No matter what I am doing in the garden, this is always right beside me . . .


And so it was that I could capture this most perfect headshot of Ms. Hummingbird.

And such a strange thing happened right afterward.

But first let me set the scene . . .

This is my all time favorite Hummingbird feeder, and it has its own story


This ceramic apple feeder was marketed by Havahart several years ago and is no longer sold. I loved it so much when I saw it at a local nursery, that I bought two.

I don’t know why I loved it so much – just one of those things. It was red and wonderfully shaped and shiny. May as well have been a heart. I loved it.

And my Hummingbirds loved it too. They know a good thing when they sip at one.

As much as I loved it, however, I gave the second one to my Mom for her garden.

Years passed and my wonderful apple got sun faded, cracked and finally got broken. I tried to find another one, and there were none to be had.

Then I went to Michigan to help my mother move to Santa Fe, and lo and behold, there was her apple feeder still in the box – just like new!

I gushed all over it until she gave it back to me.

And I was really happy with this new red apple. This time, I hung it on a shady branch of a tree so it wouldn’t fade.

But the tree I hung it in was this one – a Chinese Elm I have to keep cutting way back so it won’t become too big for the courtyard.


And one day, I cut the wrong branch and my apple feeder fell and smashed.

Great weeping and gnashing of teeth ensued.

I went back on the web determined to find another one. I called the manufacturer in case there might be one sitting forgotten in a warehouse somewhere. No luck.

But then, my friend, Google, came up with a woman on ebay who was selling some “VIntage Fruit Hummingbird Feeders”. The early 2000′s isn’t quite vintage in my book, but I went to look anyway.

You guessed it . . . there was my apple amongst some very ugly fruit that may as well have been vintage.

And I bought it.

So, that’s the ebay find hanging in the midget Elm as of yesterday (the garden is still very much a work in progress!)

And the tree is about 6 feet from my swing, so when my Hummingbird friend decided to visit the apple, I grabbed that telephoto lens and got right in her face with it.

And now, the strange thing that happened . . . she got right back in my face. She flew right up to the end of my lens – she didn’t hit it but she hovered there – just as close as she had been to the feeder. Obviously, there was no way to focus, so I just sat there until she had enough and flew away.

Maybe she was checking her make-up in the lens reflection?

Mark passed through the garden about then and I told him about it.

“Maybe she thought I was some exotic flower or something,” I said to him.

“Maybe she thought you were a gigantic Hummingbird with a REALLY weird beak,” he said.

It’s for moments like that that I keep him around.

Copyright Notice

You may have seen that I added copyright type to the lead photo in this post. I hate the look of that, but with Pinterest and all that going on, it is something I have to do – at least to the important images. I will try to keep it as unobtrusive as possible.

A Great Read . . .

I am really picky about fiction. It has to be very well written, not stupid or saccharin or hopelessly insipid. I am also sick to death of violence as entertainment. So, it is not very often that I will recommend a work of fiction, but . . .

This book I loved.



This is historical fiction at its best – telling the story of two women born at opposite ends of a century, who you would not think have anything in common – but they do. The narrative switches back and forth between the early 1900′s and 2011. I could not put it down – and smiled at the end.

Doesn’t get any better than that.


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Things not what they seem . . .


Sometimes, things are not what they seem, and on my recent road trip, I ran into a couple of good examples of this that I wanted to record in my trip journal. By the time I got done with the page, I had used some interesting techniques that I thought would be worth sharing with you.

The first thing was a tree. We saw it while getting gas before we ever left Santa Fe. . .


If this tree looks a little strange to you, there is a good reason. It is not a tree at all. It is a cell tower dressed up like a tree. Not bad, but a real tree would look like this . . .


However, you gotta hand it to them – the pretend tree certainly looks better than a big pole with lots of metal boxes on it.

The second strange thing came up when we were just about to Albuquerque, and I saw this . . .


That doesn’t look so unusual for the Southwest, right? Just a lone pueblo building on a barren plain.

However, that really was the Sandia Casino and Resort, which looks more like this . . .


It’s vast and huge, and not at all isolated. It’s all a matter of where you are looking from. Driving southbound on I-25, for a brief moment, you get the simplified version.

So, I wanted to put these two subjects in my journal, and usually, I would sketch and paint them.

But I was feeling very lazy, and I didn’t want to draw everything to scale etc.

So, first I turned to my iPad where I had imported the photos (actually shot with my iPhone from the car).

There is an iPad app called Artist’s Sketch that does a very good job of turning photos into sketches. There are lots of iPad apps that do this, and you can do it with filters in Photoshop and Elements as well, but I like this app the best,


So I turned the two photos into sketches that looked like this . . .


I then flipped them and printed them onto Sheer Heaven . . .


Once they were transferred into my Stilman & Birn Beta journal, all I had left to do was paint . . .


So, the message here is that if you are too lazy to draw something like I was, or if you aren’t all that happy with your drawing skills, but like to add color, this is a perfect way to get anything from a photo into your art journal – as an illustration.

Try this – it’s fun!

Sunday Morning Coffee #29


I have long been fascinated by the concept of a hole in the sky.

Don’t know if it is a “Someday, I’ll fly home” thing or what.

I used to paint some pretty strange skies – long before I ever encountered the even stranger skies of New Mexico. One of those paintings has a little girl (the scared me) watching a little boy (the brave me) “returning” a red balloon through a hole in the sky. The painting is owned by a wonderful lady in Canada, but I may be able to find a photo to show you, and you will know how weird I really am.

This hole occurred about 6 pm on January 10, and I broke all the village speed limits getting home to the good camera. I shot this from my back patio.

About Sizing Photos . . .

I’m not sure how many times I have posted how-tos about this, but this time, I just want to say how important it is in our new digital existence.

It is an essential skill to put in your digital knowledge bank.

Because most phones and cameras save photos at a screen resolution of 72ppi, they are sized like billboards because the camera records a LOT of pixels (millions) to get a sufficient amount of image data for prints.

And 72ppi is the right resolution to use if you are sending or posting the photo on the web.

But the size MUST be adjusted.

The billboard size makes for a LARGE file which fills up your friends’ storage capacity, and makes trouble in many online formats like blogs and websites.

We have just recently seen what they do when added to our comments – you can’t see them and can’t scroll them.

I really want you to share photos with your comments, but they must be no wider than 600 pixels because that is the width of this column.

There are many ways to resize photos with software like Elements, iPhoto, etc. and there are online services that make it really easy.

Here is one I featured in an old Technical Tizzie post:


Once you resize your photo, save it with a new name (maybe add web to the title?) so you can tell which is the resized one when you look for it on your computer.

Personal Use Policies

I was so gratified by your response to my last post.

I think the time has come for artists to speak up about this – to the manufacturers.

Like you, I walk away and do not buy art and art tools that have the dreaded PU policy – and P-U is appropriate.

But most of those folks don’t know that I walked away.

So, from now on, I am going to do something extra, and I hope you will too.

In such situations, I am going to email the artist or manufacturer and tell them why I walked away from their product.

I am going to say something like this (and you are invited to copy/paste and use it yourself).


I have been admiring your site and the products you offer.

I was ready to make a purchase when I found your “Personal Use Only” policy.

Because this makes no sense and prevents me from selling anything I make using this tool, I have walked away.

Artists through history have wanted to become good enough that someone would want to purchase their artwork. To close the door on that opportunity is not supportive of art and the artists who make up your customer base. It is as odd as saying paint and brushes and canvases (which someone, somewhere, invented) cannot be used to create art for sale.

If you ever rethink this policy, I could be a valuable customer.

You could add or subtract your own words, or mention the product/tool by name if you want. But I think if people actually knew the sales lost because of the PU policy, they might want to think about a change.

The Silhouette Online store just lost $240 from me yesterday. I was going to buy their largest subscription because they do have some items with Commercial Licensing.

But, when I read the small print about the terms of the subscription, it was – you guessed it – PU only.

Bye bye, subscription – and the $64 worth of items that were in my cart!

I want to recommend . . .

a site called


The Commercial Licensing is presented in the most professional, simple, and well-thought-out way I have seen yet. Their product line is well designed and very attractive as well.

You might also want to drop a positive note to sites you find very empowering to artists!

A Wonderful Blog Post . . .

My friend, Sandy Bartholomew, is too cool to describe in few words, so I am going to do a whole post about how amazing she is.

Meanwhile, I just read her most recent blog post, and found it so SO inspirational that I want to share it with you . . .


Read the post now, and I will tell you why Sandy is so amazing later.

A Question of Balance


If you’re human, you wonder about balance once in awhile.

Artist, Michael Grab thinks about balance ALL the time, and uses it to create some very incredible sculpture that you must see to believe . . .


Enjoy the rest of your Sunday.



Walking in a Winter Wonderland


This was me as I went outside this morning.

No, Teddy did not get his walk. The “Walking in a Winter Wonderland ” in the title is only hypothetical.

It was 4 degrees, for heaven sake.

This may be no hill to climb for some of you, but let me say that we are not used to it around here.

Cold as it was, it was so beautiful that I ventured outside in my flip flops for a few photos.

The gal up top is not really me. She is a garden sculpture that represents me. Her name is Four Winds

Her pal in the next picture is Easy Mark (referencing guess who). Together, they stand outside the gate and act as our Guardians against evil.our-guardians

These copper pipe sculptures are created by Native American artist, Mark Fischer, who lives and works in Wisconsin. We have three of these so far. The third is one I call Garden Grace (but the artist calls her “Strawberry’). She holds a couple of Hummingbird feeders in Summer, and suet cages in Winter.

She looks like this . . .


The sculptures stand about 6 feet tall and are easy to install. You can see all the wonderful designs, and even purchase them, from Mark Fischer’s website . . .


I have two or three more on my wish list.

Our trees are never Winter Wonderland trees like they were this morning . . .


snow5Yes, those are what we call “trees” in the second photo. They are short and fat, but they are Juniper Pines and this is the only time they aren’t making allergy trouble of some kind.

But, the real visual treats were in the close-ups . . .




My real birds did much better than this. They were all flying around, drinking from the heated birdbath, eating from the feeders, and discussing how lowly humans not only can’t fly, they don’t even know how to deal with single digit temperatures! “Look at that crazy woman,” they tweeted, “she’s barefoot!!!”

The really glorious part was that we had glitter snow. I love glitter snow, but I can’t imagine how to capture it in a photo. Here’s my best attempt . . .


Here’s a little photo advice about taking pictures in snow.

Camera light meters are set up to expose everything with the settings that would produce a nice middle gray (18% gray, actually). This works for lots of things, but not things that are very dark, or very light – like snow. Both will be too gray and lose their intensity.

So, most of your snow photos will turn out gray.

Almost all digital cameras have what is called Exposure Compensation, which lets you increase or decrease the exposure by small increments. This is usually indicated by a Plus/Minus icon on some button on your camera. (look it up in your manual if you can’t find it).

A good rule of thumb is that snow needs an exposure boost (plus) of at least +1.

If it’s too late, the photos are taken, and the moment is gone, you can adjust Exposure after the fact in Photoshop or Elements. Look under Image Adjustments.

Always remember to return your Exposure Comp to zero when you are done shooting. Forgetting to change back can really overexpose the next photos you take if they are not snow pictures.

Do you have any favorite Winter photo? Share it with us in a Comment.

And speaking of Comments . . .

Challenge Winners . . .

Wow, I better shut this off before I give away the farm.

I can’t believe how astute you are, or how many of you must by lumber-women!

I would have thought our mystery photo was red meat, or any of the other great guesses you came up with, but those of you who guessed that it was found on a cut piece of wood were right. Here is the subject shot from a normal distance.


This is a tree by the entrance of Harry’s Roadhouse – a well loved eatery here in Santa Fe. One big branch had been sawn off. I was blown away by the color. This color is NOT adjusted, and the shot was taken with my iPhone.

Now, I don’t know if this is sap or pitch or resin or rosen or fungus or what, and I do believe it is a Pinon Pine tree, but if you guessed that it was something on cut wood, you won a Gift Certificate.

To claim your prize, email me at

and claim your answer. I will put your email address on my Gift Certificate list for future reference.

I will email back how you can use your Gift Certificate.

This was fun. You amazed me, and I will do this again sometime because it was so fun.

Eva, I loved the strawberry, and I think Suzanne’s macro was a straw? But, Therese, I can’t guess what yours is, but it is certainly beautiful!!

What In the World?!


Happy New Year, everybody!

I am going to start off the year with a little challenge . . .

Anyone who can guess what this is, wins a $10 gift certificate from Just leave a comment and tell me exactly what this is.

I love macro photography. It helps me to see things that are ordinarily passed over. It helps me be in the moment by holding me in the detail.

Although most digital cameras have a Macro or even Super Macro capability built right in, most folks don’t use it because they don’t know about it.

Every lens on a camera or every focal length of a zoom lens has an MFD or Minimum Focusing Distance. That is the shortest distance from the subject that the camera is able to focus. Get any closer and you are out of luck.

If you have ever experienced a situation when your camera just plain refused to focus, you were too close to your subject, If you had backed up a little, your camera would have been able to focus just fine.

The Macro lens on a DSLR (or the Macro function on a zoom lens camera), decreases the MFD and allows you to focus closer to the subject.

Super macro modes can allow you to be SO close that you have to be careful that the lens does not actually touch the subject.

MFD on a normal lens can be as close as a foot, but Macro can take you in to as close as a half inch on some cameras.

As you can imagine, this is something like deep sea diving. You find yourself in a new “landscape” where nothing is all that familiar. It is a wonderful place to get lost and forget any troubles. It is an experience that can give you religion if you happen to be doing macro shots of things in nature.

If you want to have a whole new experience with your camera, check it for a Macro or Super Macro shooting mode – usually indicated by a Tulip icon.

Set your camera to that mode and explore your familiar surroundings from an inch or half an inch away.

It’s a new world.

If you get a wonderful shot, share it with us in a comment.

Meanwhile, what is that at the top of this post?