Criss-cross

21 06 2016

I like the graphic qualities in this composition with the tight cropping and criss-cross leaves in the background, so I thought I’d share.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

WEB FlagIrisGraphic

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Want a free photography lesson on photographing gardens?

15 06 2014

Read my feature, “Garden Photography,” in the summer 2013 issue of Celebrate Home Magazine, which I co-founded and published with Barbara Kelley. I share tips on shooting, what’s in my bag, notes on specific photos to teach about composition and light, and my favorite resources and websites. Download our entire summer 2013 issue on our website at www.celebratehomemagazine.com.

Click on this link to download the Garden Photography pdf: Celebrate Home Magazine Garden Photography

Photography and design by Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

CHM Garden Photo





Hearing Loss Magazine: 2012 Recap

28 11 2012

The last issue in 2012 of the Hearing Loss Magazine (HLM), published by the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), just arrived in member mailboxes last week. I design the bimonthly magazine and provide photography services to HLAA. Here is a recap of the issues published in 2012.

Tina and Tom Hamblin were the cover feature for the January/February 2012 issue. Tina contacted me in fall 2010 after seeing the wedding photos I shot for Todd and Abbie Hlavacek in September 2010. Todd and Abbie are also members of HLAA and Abbie wrote her cover story for the May/June 2008 issue (recapped here). Cover photo © Cindy Dyer

I first met Tina and Tom when they arrived for their engagement photo session at my favorite location to shoot, Green Spring Gardens, in Alexandria, VA in spring 2011. After we did our portraits around the garden, Tom started doing cartwheels (he’s a gymnastics coach) and I captured him in full motion—making it the first time I’ve ever photographed someone doing anything gymnastic. I captured him in his wedding finery doing some handstands and cartwheels on his wedding day as well! My colleague Ed and I photographed Tina and Tom’s wedding on October 8, 2011 in Kurtz Beach, Maryland.

I asked Tina and Tom if they would write a sort of “his and her” story for the magazine about their respective hearing loss, how they met, and how they support each other. The title of their article, “Taking the plunge,” refers to both the turning point in their friendship and their recent marriage. You can find Tina blog’s here and Tom’s all-things-gymnastic blog here. Their cover story is available in pdf format here: Tom&TinaHamblin Feature

Also in this issue: Audiologist Brad Ingrao focused on the best practices for hearing assessment and hearing aid fitting in Getting it Right the First Time: Best Practices in Hearing Aid Fitting; Gael Hannon showed us a practical look at information that would be helpful to those who have hearing loss in What the Professionals Should Tell Us; Michael Ann Bower discussed what people with hearing loss can do to avoid the misdiagnosis of dementia when hearing loss is the issue in Hearing Loss and Dementia; and Barbara Kelley interviewed young jazz singer Mandy Harvey in Musically Inclined.

The March/April issue featured the host city for the upcoming Convention 2012—Providence, Rhode Island. HLAA’s Director of Marketing and Events, Nancy Macklin, presented a comprehensive guide to the upcoming convention in this issue.

Also in this issue: Audiologist Brad Ingrao discussed cochlear implants in Plugged in for Sound: Cochlear Implants Today; Scott Bally outlined the Five Most Effective Speechreading Strategies; Renowned audiologist Mark Ross talked about hi HealthInnovations Hearing Aid Dispensing Program; Meredith Low, a pro at planning and making sure that the communication environment is arranged so she can enjoy the party as much as her guests, offered great tips in Welcome! Easy Entertaining for People with Hearing Loss; Pamela Selker Rak shared her experiences with hearing loss in Lost in Translation: How a “Lost and Found” Friendship Opened My Eyes to Hearing Loss; Lise Hamlin focused on HLAA’s efforts in Advocacy: A Few Hot Issues, and HLAA member Netegene Fitzpatrick crafted a special Word Search puzzle for her fellow members to solve.

Richard Einhorn, award-winning composer, was the cover feature for the May/June 2012 issue. In his article, Einhorn wrote about his sudden hearing loss and how, with his clever uses of existing technology, he continues to work and live well with hearing loss. You can read excerpts on my blog post here. For the full article, click on this link: Richard Einhorn

I had the honor and pleasure of photographing Richard in March 2012. Barbara Kelley (HLM’s editor-in-chief) and I met up with him at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. After a great photo session, we dropped Richard off at his hotel and picked him up later to take him to the Meyerhoff, where his work, Voices of Light, was being performed by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, with Marin Alsop conducting. Einhorn composed the piece in 1994, inspired by the 1928 silent film, The Passion of Joan of Arc, directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer. Live performances accompany a screening of the film.

Voices of Light has been performed more than 200 times by major orchestras all over the world. It has been called “a great masterpiece of contemporary music” and “a work of meticulous genius.” The libretto is based on excerpts from a variety of ancient writings, most of it from Medieval female mystics, and scored for a small orchestra, chorus and soloists. For me, the performance was a haunting, incredibly moving and very profound visual and aural experience. You can learn more about Richard Einhorn on his website here. Cover photo © Cindy Dyer

Also in this issue: Barbara Kelley interviewed Richard Einhorn to learn more about his work and future projects; Therese Walden, president of the American Academy on Audiology, discussed the UnitedHealthcare® hi HealthInnovations hearing device benefit program in Self-Diagnosis, Self-Treatment: The Wave of the Future?; Brad Ingrao wrote about water-resistant hearing aids and cochlear implants in Jump Right In! Water-Resistant Hearing Technology; Lise Hamlin revisited the Americans with Disabilities Act 22 years later in Accessible Design for People with Hearing Loss; and Yoona Ha revealed the special bond with her grandmother in My Six-Million-Dollar Grandmother.

Laurie Pullins was the cover feature for the July/August 2012 issue. Back in February, right before my photography exhibit (Garden Muse: A Botanical Portfolio) opened at Green Spring Gardens, Laurie sent me a message that she would love to come see it in person (she’s been a big supporter and fan of my work for a few years now) and she was trying to coordinate a time when she could accompany her husband to the Washington, D.C. area on a business trip. It so happens that I had been catching up with her blog, Dance with Sound, and had just suggested to Barbara that we entice Laurie to write for the magazine. I pitched the idea to Laurie and said that if she could come up to see my show anytime in March or April, I could shoot the portraits of her for the feature then. We wanted to keep it a secret from even her closest friends so that she could surprise them; only her husband and children knew about it. Cover photo © Cindy Dyer

Laurie is as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside and I am thrilled that she has a spotlight in the magazine with beautiful photos and her honest and inspiring writing. See Laurie’s feature on my blog post here or download the pdf here: Laurie Pullins Feature

Also in this issue: Brad Ingrao helps you understand your hearing loss and what you need to hear better in Beyond the Beeps: Needs Assessments and Outcome Measures; Lisa and Des Brownlie shared their experiences of their babies born with hearing loss in Two Children, Two Hearing Losses; Sam Trychin discussed research that has uncovered information about another built-in, inherited type of pain that also has survival value—social pain—in Hearing Loss and Social Pain; Lisa Tseng of hi HealthInnovations shows the company’s model for how to reach those who need hearing help in Accessible and Affordable Hearing Health Care; HLAA’s Director of Public Policy, Lise Hamlin, reveaks her personal experiences resulting from the fruits of HLAA’s labor in Newborn Hearing Screening: A Success Story; and Viola LaBounty expresses her improved hearing loss through her poem, Digital Technology: My World Alive.

Melissa Puleo Adams, a former San Diego Chargers cheerleader, was our cover feature for the September/October 2012 issue. I had the opportunity to meet and photograph Melissa when she was visiting her family here in Virginia in May. The title of her feature, Sixth Time’s a Charm, is in reference to her trying out six times to be a Charger Girl cheerleader. She persevered despite the rejections and made it on the sixth try. Her fellow Charger Girls were very supportive of her and her hearing loss. Melissa owns her own web and graphic design firm in California. You can see her web design work hereCover photo © Cindy Dyer  (Read Melissa’s full feature in my blog post here.)

Also in this issue: Audiologist Brad Ingrao provided an in-depth look at three alternative hearing systems in Middle Ear Implants and Bone Conduction Hearing Devices; HLAA’s Director of Marketing and Events, Nancy Macklin, revealed highlights in her Convention 2012 Wrap-up; Susan Clutterbuck wrote about the results of the EARtrak survey and if they reveal whether or not consumers’ opinions are being heard by their hearing health care providers in Improving Health Care—Make Your Voice Heard!; Ronnie Adler shared great stores about how Walk4Hearing Funds are put to good use in local communities in Rewarding Great Ideas—The Benefits of the Walk4Hearing; and Scott J. Bally showed how NVRC is changing lives in the community in NVRC: A Model Community Center Improving Communication.

Marisa Sarto was the cover feature for the November/December 2012 issue. I met Marisa in Providence, R.I. this past June during HLAA Convention 2012. I was going to profile her for our Seen & Heard column but after learning about her photo book project, we decided to make her autobiographical story a main feature for the magazine. I photographed her one afternoon in a park near the hotel. Cover photo © Cindy Dyer

Marisa’s inspiration for her book-in-progress, Hear Nor There: Images of an Invisible Disability, came from her experiences as a woman growing up with a hearing loss that made her feel self-conscious and set apart from others. The project will be a documentary monograph, showcasing photographs and stories of individuals of varying ages, ethnicities and genders and their challenges of living with a hearing loss. Learn more about the project on her website here and sample images and narratives here. Download and read her feature article here: Marisa Sarto Feature

Also in this issue: Audiologist Brad Ingrao’s article, Better Hearing, Better Health, explored the relationship between hearing loss and health-related quality of life; HLAA’s Director of Marketing and Events, Nancy Macklin, showed us why It’s Time to Head West! with her Convention 2013 Sneak Preview; Hayleigh Scott, owner of Hayleigh’s Cherished Charms, and Netegene Fitzpatrick proved there isn’t a generation gap among people with hearing loss in their feature, A Unlikely Friendship; HLAA’s Director of Public Policy, Lise Hamlin, reported good news in Shopping for Phones; long-time HLAA member Vern Thayer explained why he is Lucky that he discovered HLAA in 1983; and HLAA members George Kosovich and Marisa Sarto were both profiled in Seen & Heard.

 





Breaking a few photographic rules…

6 10 2012

I was inspired by National Geographic photographer Jim Richardson’s essay titled, “Let There Be Light,” where he discusses breaking photographic rules, in this case the one about overexposing highlights in a photograph. In breaking the “read the histogram to correct the blown-out highlights” rule, he captures an image that is ethereal and far more evocative than he would have created had he just followed the rules.

My photo of a gull ready to take flight breaks some other rules that I traditionally follow when photographing. I photographed this bird for several minutes before I got this shot and I considered it a throwaway when I viewed it on my screen. Later, I reconsidered saving it. The image has at least two things that immediately put it into the “not up to par” category: 1) you can’t see much of the bird’s head (just a tiny portion of the top of his head)—so much for focusing on the eyes to make them tack sharp, which is a top rule in bird photography, and 2) the motion isn’t stopped with a higher shutter speed, so the wings are extremely blurry. In the “plus category,” what’s good about this image is the composition (nice, off-center positioning gives it a dynamic that I must admit was not planned at the time), and the anticipation and tension of lift-off with the wings blurred in mid-air next to the tack sharp wood grain in the dock pylon. The gull is grounded yet I’ve serendipitously captured a split second before it will no longer be. It’s graphic with lots of negative space and there is ample contrast.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





22 things I have learned while preparing for a photography exhibit

21 02 2012

Someone once said, “it takes a village to produce a photography exhibit,” (or something to that effect). It’s true, and I will thank as many people possible in this posting. I know there will be more thanks to deliver in future postings, so if I’ve missed naming you, please forgive me.

1) Be careful what you wish for. Oh, and thanks (both heartfelt and sarcastically) to Jeff Evans for suggesting I hop on the photo exhibit bandwagon with him.

2) Every image that ultimately gets vetoed, even after trying to assess it with a critical eye 87 times, feels like I’m abandoning a child (that I don’t have). I’m down to this: does this image make me immediately say, “ohhhhh, yes. You are good.” Or does it elicit a “meh” or “Really? A point and shooter coulda shot that” at first glance?

3) Acid-free framing tape makes an excellent bandage around a wedge of Bounty paper towel when you stub your big toe on that piece of unusable glass you forgot was there.

4) Don’t try to continue framing when you get a paper cut. It’s not pretty. And no, an eraser won’t help.

5) Even the nicest frames can come with crappy glass. If there’s a scratch on my brand new glass, can I assume someone took a diamond ring and ran it across the surface? I thought the only thing that could scratch glass was a diamond.

6) And while we’re on the subject of frames…when you need 20 larger frames and the best price online for a particular frame is one that has acrylic/Plexiglas instead of actual glass (cheaper and safer to ship, I’ve learned), this is still not the way to go—no matter what you read on the forums by all those exhibit know-it-alls when you Google, “glass vs. Plexiglas for a photography exhibit.” When you get the frame in, you will peel off the protective cover on both sides of the flimsy sheet and every speck of dust in Bexar County, Texas will find its way to you. No amount of compressed air will alleviate the problem. When you use that baby soft dust brush to lightly remove the dust, it will make permanent scratches on the surface. You will then spend an hour on the phone researching the cheapest place in San Antonio to have glass cut in 18×24 sheets. Sigh, another purchase? (See #12)

7) Converting one’s craft room to a frame shop makes it irresistible to a cat. ZenaB, our tuxedo cat, has this thing for licking plastic (bags and the like). Every frame I unwrap is covered in acres of shrink wrap or a plastic envelope. Seriously, she needs an intervention.

8) Speaking of cats, did you know that the sound of compressed air will send a cat back upstairs in two seconds flat?

9) When one is so pinned in by empty frames, backer boards, acid-free foam core, prints of various sizes, mats, good glass and diamond-scratched glass, glazier gun and points, tape, scissors, xacto knives, rulers and framing wire that one can’t get up to change the radio station when a song one really hates comes on or one debates whether one should go pee or just hold it in a little longer, one should question one’s sanity. All that is missing is that adorable and extremely patient Matt Paxton, extreme cleaning expert from Hoarders, coming around the corner and chuckling nervously as he assesses the mission and asks “can this woman/house be saved?” Excuse me while I diverge…a few months ago I saw a magazine cover (some pricey creative/artsy/craftsy publication whose name escapes me) and the main headline read, “Are you a horder?” Who is proofreading this thing?

10) And speaking of purchases…buy everything you need online, from coated framing wire to hooks to mats and foam core boards (even cut to exact specs!). It will be considerably cheaper, even after you add shipping costs, than getting it locally at a craft store or frame shop. This was a valuable lesson at the outset.

11) Every time I enter my temporary “frame shop,” I hear that “thrinkkkkkk” sound from Hoarders—the one that sounds right before they type something like “Cindy, Alexandria, Virginia” on the screen. Ditto when I step into the living room, where all the finished frames are awaiting transport to the venue next Monday. Will my house ever be back to normal?

12) My bank account may never truly recover. Ever. So if you do come to the show, have pity—buy something. Or two somethings. And really, an odd number is better for a whole host of reasons, so make it three somethings. I promise to apply a quantity discount.

13) You would be surprised at how guerilla-marketing-ish you’ll get when you’re parting with this much time and money in preparation for an exhibit (not to mention you haven’t had an exhibition of your work since the covered wagon days). I have e-mailed people that I haven’t talked to in years in an effort to promote the show. If I could find my kindergarten teacher, I would mail her a postcard, too. To what end, I have no idea. It is something I feel compelled to do. What if I leave her out? She might know someone who knows someone who knows someone who publishes a magazine about flowers and they are in dyer dire need of fresh images.

14) Note to self: A Flower fly does not a Honey bee make. Surely you knew that when you signed that print, matted it, framed it, sealed the back and added the framing wire and hooks. Your heart really wasn’t in it when you came up with that lame title, “Busy Bee,” anyway. Maybe it’s because it’s not a bee in the first place. You know the difference. Were you inhaling compressed air? There’s one do-over to add to the queue. Muchas gracias to my younger sister, Kelley, for her very keen eye in helping me cull the first round of images and for suggesting (and assisting in) naming the images. You really do have an eye for this, Wap-Wap! Wanna represent me? Thanks to my high school buddy James Williams and his wife Irma and daughter Elise for being the first to preview the show (or what I had finished preparing at that point), spread out all over the King’s living room (the prints, not the Williams family).

15) When you get a notice that the XYZ Chrysanthemum Society is taking orders for mum plants via e-mail (and you joined the group who knows why at that plant sale years ago), don’t e-mail the entire list back to (very politely) ask if anyone knows what hybrid a particular mum is in the attached photo. More than two dozen people received my question and not one responded. I thought gardeners were more open than that. Seriously, not one. The lesson in this sad tale is to never assume just because you’re excited about your show that total strangers want to make sure you get your IDs correct. They’re too busy growing mums to bother with your little project.

16) But on the identification flip-side, your fellow bloggers and rabid gardeners will respond within minutes on your Facebook wall when you attach a photo and beg for help labeling the flower. Thanks in particular to Pam Penick and Bobbie Hill Evans for identifying my Autumn sage (Salvia greggii), but also to Mahvelous Mahvin, Jimmie, Patricia, Sean and Anna, for chiming in on the “pretty flower.”

17) Ditto on the spider identification, too. Bug people are busy people, apparently. Why don’t you look it up in one of your umpteen spider books, Cindy? What are ya—lazy? Deep in my heart, I knew it was a sort of crab spider, but I wanted absolute confirmation of which crab spider it was. Didn’t get it. My mind flashed to this very possible scenario: A local entomologist is on his lunch break one balmy April day at Green Spring Gardens. After finishing lunch, he wanders into the Horticulture Center. “Oh, look, a new exhibit,” he thinks to himself. He wanders down the ramp, admiring each image (drawn in particular to the ones with insects, of course), until he comes to the image titled Bird’s Eye View. “Hmmm…let’s see…what an interesting perspective.” He leans forward to read the accompanying sign. “Crab spider on Chrysanthemum. Hmmm…girl should really have consulted a bug expert. That is most certainly not a Crab spider. Sheesh.” (Oh, and a note to that hypothetical entomologist—if you’re reading this, take this into consideration. I really did try to get my ID correct. Don’t you judge me.)

18) Despite the long (but happy) hours I’ve spent preparing for this exhibit, I’ve discovered that framing my images—with all the little details that go into it from start to finish—is very zen for me. Extreme thanks to my father, The King of Texas, for showing me how to do all of this by my lonesome self—and for letting me thoroughly deplete his ample (and expensive) supply of acid-free foam core board. (His framing shed, er, castle, is like being in a craft shop. The supplies never ran out!) The King (shown at left) is a major sponsor of this exhibit—so a grateful tip of this peasant’s bedraggled hat to his Royal Highness. When I’m framing, every image conjures up when, where and how I created it and that feeling I had knowing I got the best shot possible. However, I’m well aware that meditation is a far cheaper endeavor. Of course, I needed another hobby. 🙂

19) Friends, family and complete strangers who learn of the show will become your ultimate cheerleaders. You were already excited about the venue, the opportunity to do the show, seeing your work actually printed and framed (and not just contained within the boundaries of a computer screen on a blog) and the myriad possibilities that might accompany such an event—but your fans and supporters will only bolster that feeling with their feedback. They will spread the word, pass along your invite, and suggest other advertising outlets. Friends from far away will start making flight reservations just to come to see your little show.

20) The show will consume your life at every turn. When you are not designing something to make money to actually pay for the show, you will be matting, framing, taping, typing, primping, scheming, researching, identifying, begging for identification, labeling and stamping postcards and opening box after box after box of supplies delivered to you via FedEx, UPS and the postman. Your multiple purchases will bolster the faltering economy and provide an endless stream of oversized boxes that will amuse and delight your cats (except for that one time when you tossed the two kittens into the box filled with water-soluble-eco-friendly packing peanuts and completely freaked them out). You will skip dinner because you lose track of time. Your cats will (almost) skip dinner because you lose track of time. You will actually go through the motions of framing in your sleep and be a tad disappointed when you realize that those weren’t really done when you awaken the next day. Your husband will help you haul 600 pounds of frames to and from the car and try not to fall asleep when you recite your plans out loud. He will also feed you when you’re too preoccupied to do it yourself (thank you, sweetie). Your lovely long-time friend, Cam, will offer to fly up from Florida to help you hang the show and you will be floored by her generosity and sentiment and will anxiously await her arrival, input, feedback, honesty and company. Your redheaded friend Karen will not sigh or roll her eyes when you prattle incessantly about your show preparations over IHOP breakfast-for-dinner on girl’s night out. Your other friend Karen (she of the not-red-head) will help you with pricing your offerings and tablescaping the reception. Special thanks to one cheerleader in particular, Barbara Kelley (shown above). The Sneeze Guard Heiress will be catering my reception on April 15. Check out her latest culinary creation on her hospitality blog here.

21) It really does help to have a strong graphic design background when you prepare for something like this. All of your marketing materials will look polished and you won’t have to pay someone else to design them. This will be the only place where you and your money will not be parted.

When you log online just to order the postcards to promote your exhibit, you will begin to imagine your photos on mousepads, key chains, hoodies, lawn signs, bumper stickers, tote bags, greeting cards, magnetic car signs, luggage tags, banners and posters. The online company will even suggest every single one of these items all the way up to checking out. You will be tempted. Step away from Vistaprint.com, sistah. Thank you to my college roommate and fellow graphic designer (shown at left), Sonya Mendeke, for designing my beautiful Garden Muse website dedicated to this show.

22) Remind me again why I’m doing this?

Ah, yes, to free these images from the confines of my blog and my external hard drives:





Here’s a jolt of color for ya!

17 02 2012

My friend Sonya is working on a diet/health-related design project and asked if I had any photos of produce in my archives that I could share. Here’s a photo that I shot at a local farmer’s market four years ago. Such intense color—just enough to perk me up on this drab, gray, cold winter day.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





A meeting of creative minds

8 01 2012

On Wednesday morning I drove from San Antonio to Austin to visit my friends Brian and Shirley Loflin. The next day I had the pleasure of lunch at P.F. Chang’s in Austin on Thursday with four fellow creatives.

BRIAN LOFLIN
Brian is my former boss, photography mentor and friend of more than 25 years. He is a freelance photographer and photography instructor in Austin and his career spans more than four decades in the advertising, aviation, bio-medical and publishing industries. Brian is past president of the Minnesota Nature Photographers and founder and current president of the Austin Shutterbug Club. He is a photography instructor in the Informal Classes program at the University of Texas at Austin.

Brian and his wife, Shirley, actively teach and conduct seminars and workshops in many areas of photography. They authored, produced and photographed Grasses of the Texas Hill Country and Texas Cacti, two photographic field guides for Texas A&M University Press and available at most booksellers. They have just completed text and photography for their next book, Texas Wildflower Vistas and Hidden Treasures, also by Texas A&M University Press.

Visit Brian’s natural science photography blog here. You’ll find his commercial work here. In his other business, The Nature Connection, he provides photography and digital imaging services to biologists, professionals, educators and others involved in the natural sciences. He is also available for workshops, seminars and presentations, as well as group and one-on-one training in nature photography, macro/close-up photography, beginning digital photography, field photography and composition and light.

STEVEN SCHWARTZMAN
Austin photographer Steven Schwartzman began his blog, Portraits of Wildflowers, just eight months ago. He commented on my blog many months ago and we formed a sort of mutual admiration society and have kept in touch ever since. His work is beautiful and many times I have said to myself, “I would have shot that one just like he did.” I think that his style, composition and capture of light is so similar to mine.

I e-mailed him when I left Virginia and asked if he would like to get together for lunch when I came up to Austin. It was then that I discovered that he also knew Brian through the Austin Shutterbug Camera Club and the Native Plant Society. He said he was surprised to learn, via my blog posts last March after I visited Brian in Austin for a Joe McNally / Dave Hobby workshop on the Flash Bus Tour, that I had known Brian for more than 20 years!

Steven’s photography has been published numerous times in Texas Highways magazine. In 2007, his photograph of a basket-flower was one of a hundred finalists in Parade magazine’s photo contest on the theme “Celebrate America’s Beauty.” In 2009 and 2010, he was commissioned to provide all the photographs and text for three laminated wildflower guides for Quick Reference Publishing. He has contributed more than 200 photographs to the native plant database of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. His other interests include natural foods and language. I particularly enjoy his fascination with words in his other blog, Spanish-English Word Connections. He has written an excellent tutorial about his photography techniques on his blog here.

From Steven’s blog:
I grew up on Long Island and went to college at Columbia University, where I majored in French. Upon graduation I spent 1968 and 1969 as a Peace Corps math teacher in Honduras; I learned that I was good not only at math (which I knew) but also at teaching it (which I’d had no reason to suspect). It was also in Honduras that I learned the rudiments of photography and got my first “real” camera, a Pentax Spotmatic. In the late 1970s and early 1980s I did a fair amount of art photography and eventually published three books of 3-D infrared photographs. The combination of 3-D and black-and-white infrared was an unusual one but I was fond of it, at least in part because it was unique. My book
Bodies of Light won an award from the Printing Industries of America in 1981.

I moved to Austin on July 6, 1976, two days after my birthday and the 200th anniversary of American independence. In my early years in Texas I did some landscape photography, still primarily in black and white infrared. I was an early adopter of digital photography: in 1999 I launched into a project to produce a photographic CD documenting the Austin area. In the process, I grew increasingly aware of and captivated by the many species of native plants that grow here; they became and remain my primary photographic subject.

It was such a treat being able to meet Steven in person. He is the first fellow blogger I’ve officially met in person and likewise for him! I’m hoping to be able to do a mini photo field trip with Steven in Austin before I head back to Virginia later this month.

SONYA MENDEKE
Sonya Mendeke, a freelance print and web designer living in Austin, is my former college classmate, one-time roommate and lifelong friend. You can see her design work on her newly-redesigned website here. Her hobbies include painting, sculpting and photography. You can see her graphic design work here. She also created whimsical and colorful paper clay “Bugs with Attitude” as well as birdhouses and plant pots.

During our lunch, I shared one of my favorite memories of Sonya. When we were both in college, I lived with her in a large two-bedroom apartment not far from the university. Both of us made extra spending money by doing odd freelance illustration jobs. At some point Sonya connected with a cattleman who wanted her to do drawings of his prize sire bulls for a catalog he was publishing. She showed him her portfolio and one of her illustrations was done in an illustration method called stippling. Wikipedia identifies stippling as “the creation of a pattern simulating varying degrees of solidity or shading by using small dots. … the dots are made of a pigment of a single colour, applied with a pen or brush; the denser the dots, the darker the apparent shade—or lighter, if the pigment is lighter than the surface.” Folks, we’re talking thousands upon thousands of dots to create one illustration. Thousands.

The cattleman loved the stippling style and asked her to replicate it on at least a dozen or more illustrations. She recalls being offered something like $300 for the project. Since we’re talking early 80s, I’m quite certain it wasn’t $300 per illustration. It was most likely that much for the entire portfolio of drawings. With dollars signs in her twinkling brown eyes, Sonya jumped into the project immediately.

It wasn’t long before I heard sailor-worthy words muttered from her bedroom studio, occasionally drowned out only by the never-ending tap-tap-tap of her trusty India-ink-filled Rapidograph pen. Night after night I would find her, mechanical pen in one hand, cigarette in the other, endless cups of coffee nearby, stippling into the wee hours of the morning—exhausted, hopped up on caffeine and almost losing her (creative) mind. The illustrations were wonderful and she did get paid. Afterward, check in hand, she vowed she would never stipple again, no matter what the compensation. I’m sure that, to this day, she still hears the tap-tap-tap sounds deep in her subconscious. In addition to the stippling method, I doubt that she is so fond of things bovine either.

Two years ago, Sonya was interviewed in a video by Roy Gatling and Austin-Artists.com. You can view that video, Saving the earth, one piece of art at a time, here. Roy Gatling is Senior Manager, Project Management at Dell and the husband of another of my college classmates, Maria Gatling, also an Austin artist. Roy and Maria are the co-founders of Austin-Artists.com and Austin-Architecture.com. Check out Maria’s self-published notebook and workshop titled, Be Inspired—Creative Something Every Day, here and her creativity blog here.

PHIL CHARLTON
Phil is a friend of Brian’s and a professional photographer in Austin. He specializes in architectural interiors, but shoots beautiful landscapes and fine art images as well. I especially love his images of Thorncrown Chapel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas (at left). The chapel looks very much like Garvan Woodland Gardens’ Anthony Chapel in Hot Springs, Arkansas, which I photographed a few years ago on a road trip with my friend Sue.

From Phil’s zenfolio site
(www.philcharlton.zenfolio.com):
I am a native Oklahoman with a Cherokee heritage. After graduating from the University of Central Oklahoma in 1966 with a double major in math and physics, I moved to Texas where I entered the space industry at NASA. During my 17 years at NASA I worked in the Gemini, Apollo, Skylab and Space Shuttle programs designing and testing many systems essential to space exploration.

I left NASA for a second career in the computer business. I held positions at Compaq and Dell before taking early retirement. It was during my NASA years that a friend influenced me to buy a professional quality camera and that led to my current interest as a professional photographer.

My wife Amanda and I have lived in the Austin area for the past 18 years. We enjoy traveling the world and have visited many exotic locales such as Belize, South and Eastern Africa, United Kingdom, Peru, Czech Republic, Hungary, Austria, and Canada. The beautiful sites of these distant lands are inspirational to my photography.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.