Spot the differences!

4 03 2016

Barbara Kelley (acting executive director of HLAA and editor-in-chief of Hearing Loss Magazine) came up with the idea of doing a “spot the differences” photo game for this issue. I had fun making changes to the original cover photo. Can you spot the 21 things I’ve changed in this photo?

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

SpotDifferences





Design Studio: Photoshop Collages

17 12 2015

I love the challenges and creativity of compositing photo illustrations in Photoshop! I combined my original photography, stock photography, words, borders, vector art, typefaces and textures to create these illustrations for editorial clients such as Hearing Loss Magazine, Municipal Lawyer Magazine and the AAHAM Journal.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Photoshop Collages 122015

 





Michael Eury, Superhero

6 09 2011

Michael Eury is our cover feature article for the September/October 2011 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine, which I design and produce bimonthly for the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA). Michael approached Barbara Kelley (the editor-in-chief) and me this past spring and proposed writing his story for the magazine and pitched an idea for a conceptual cover. We’re so excited with the results of our collaboration. (Congratulations and accolades to HLAA and their webmaster, Susan Parras, for the recent debut of the beautifully redesigned website here. Of course, I’m kind of partial to the changing “billboard” photos since they’re mine!)

Binder Clips, Booth Curtains, Wire and a Whole Lot of Enthusiasm!
With the help of my trusty sidekicks Michael Schwehr and Ed Fagan, not to mention a very willing model, I think we pulled off the concept brilliantly! Although Michael Eury was prepared with his Clark Kent suit, glasses and superhero demeanor, neither of us remembered to bring the infamous red satin cape. I was also hired to photograph the HLAA Convention, set up a few cover shoots and begin my newest addition to the magazine—a one-page 20+ questions member profile series called “Seen & Heard,” which also debuts in this issue. I knew I had some red satin in my fabric stash, but in the mad rush to get everything ready, it fell off my radar.

So, since necessity is the mother of invention, I dispatched Ed to “borrow” a burgundy convention booth drape to serve as a cape (with the color and texture modified afterward in Photoshop to the requisite glowing red, of course). With the aid of wire and binder clips and Michael and Ed serving as puppeteers, we had our Superhero flying in no time. I also bent a thick wire through Michael’s tie to really show him in action.

We couldn’t have had a better subject—it’s been his childhood dream to be a superhero, and he said we made his dream come true, if only for a couple of hours. His enthusiasm was contagious and his expressions would rival those of Jim Carrey! After viewing a few of the cover shots on my screen, I told him, “you really look like Charlie Sheen in some of these.” Then I added, “before the booze, ladies of the night and W-I-N-N-I-N-G, of course!” We’re so happy with the photos and Michael’s well-written article was the perfect complement. I’ve reprinted his article below, but you can see it in layout form by downloading the pdf file here: MichaelEurySuperhero. All photos © Cindy Dyer

by Michael Eury

I look nothing like Lois Lane, but I was saved by Superman! And today, like DC Comics’ legendary Man of Steel, I am also a superhero, the realization of a lifelong dream. Believe it or not, I have my adult-onset hearing loss to thank for this. But as with any superhero’s story, we must begin with…an origin!

Who He Is and How He Came to Be
I was not rocketed to Earth from a dying planet, nor have I been mutated by radiation (at least not to my knowledge). Instead, I was born in Concord, North Carolina, and grew up during the 1960s, the tumultuous decade when Americans wrestled with the ugliness of real-world crises by ducking for cover inside fantasy realms of bubblegum music, flashy pop-culture heroes, and cornball comedies.

On January 12, 1966, my life was forever changed when, as an impressionable third grader, I watched the first episode of ABC-TV’s Batman. My parents cackled when Adam West as Batman shimmied the “Batusi” on a dance floor, having been drugged by Molly (Jill St. John), the girlfriend of the Riddler (Frank Gorshin). In my young mind I thought my parents were suffering from some type of dementia—couldn’t they see that Batman was in peril? Mom and Dad, Batman’s acting weird because he was slipped a mickey by Molly. There’s nothing funny about this! What’s wrong with you people?!

Batman in 1966 opened a gateway to other superheroes and I became a voracious reader of comic books, learning the lore of Superman, the Justice League of America, Spider-Man, and the Fantastic Four. Ask me to calculate a percentage or name the capital of Kansas and I’d respond with a blank stare, but I could tell you without hesitation that Gingold was the name of the serum consumed by Ralph Dibny to turn him into the Elongated Man, and on the backwards Bizarro World, Bizarros said “goodbye” when they meant “hello.”

I learned to appreciate the “camp” humor of TV’s Batman, but never outgrew my love of superheroes. Throughout adolescence I trekked each week to newsstands and convenience stores, searching for new “funnybooks.” I also wrote and drew my own comic books, crudely penciled on typing paper and hand-lettered in ballpoint ink and shared with fellow students. My comics starred my classmates as superheroes, their superpowers usually based upon a sophomoric nickname or trait.

The kid with a long neck (“Weasel”) became Weaselman, with the power to stretch his neck great distances, and a buddy renowned for hurling spit wads at classroom clocks became Wonder Wad! These and other homegrown superheroes (I couldn’t draw girls, so there were no superheroines) occasionally banded together as the Concord Crusaders.

As graduation approached, in my heart I wanted to study creative writing and art and become a professional comic book writer/artist, but played it safe by opting for Plan B: becoming a band director. Music was my other passion, and I played trombone in every ensemble available. And thus, in fall 1975, I became a music education major at East Carolina University (ECU). Throughout college, however, I continued to read comic books.

Look! Up in the Sky!
I was at ECU in December 1978 when another life-altering superhero experience happened: my first viewing of Superman: The Movie, starring Christopher Reeve, whose likable portrayal of the Last Son of Krypton convinced millions that “You’ll believe a man can fly.” I saw Superman multiple times. Reeve as Superman became my hero.

I graduated from ECU in 1980 and took a job teaching middle and high school band in eastern North Carolina. And I hated it. I had blundered into the wrong career. I taught for only a semester, quitting and returning home. During the early 1980s I worked as a substitute teacher, cable-access TV cameraman and talent, record and video stores clerk, graveyard shift convenience store clerk, singing telegrams messenger, comedy-improv group performer, and freelance writer for small press publications and community newspapers. I was able to leap from one dead-end job to another in a single bound!

My one success during this period of instability was finding the love of my life, Rose. We met in 1984 as co-workers at Monkey Business Singing Telegrams in Charlotte, North Carolina, and had an instant chemistry. After a year and half of dodging our feelings for each other, in January 1986 we could no longer ignore what was intended to be and have since lived happily ever after.

Throughout my mid-twenties, Superman begat movie sequels, and my obsession deepened. I even nurtured fantasies about being Superman! I dreamt of flying to the rescue of those in need. Inspired by the examples of superheroes, I had an innate desire to do good for others but lacked the maturity to cultivate a pragmatic way of realizing that desire.

My Own Private Kryptonite
A hero is generally defined by his archenemy. As I aged into my thirties, a supervillain conspired to topple me. My foe did not operate from a subterranean lair, nor did he hire underlings with henchmen names embroidered on their sweatshirts.

Instead, this insidious mastermind quietly employed covert tactics. He began his assault as an embezzler, secreting away sounds—a consonant here, a high pitch there. He sometimes brandished weapons of mass destruction—otosclerosis, tinnitus, and noise exposure. His attacks, however, were gradual and unannounced, allowing me to make minor lifestyle adjustments along the way. I did not realize—until it was too late!—the havoc he had wreaked. The name of this scoundrel? Hearing loss.

In January 1988 my long-time passion for comic books finally blossomed into a vocation. I took a job as an assistant editor at a small publisher called Comico the Comic Company, in Norristown, Pennsylvania. It was here that I was first bothered by hearing problems, especially in restaurants, where I learned to position myself with my “good ear” facing the table’s conversation.

In the summer of 1989 I landed my dream job: I became an editor at DC Comics, the publisher of Superman and Batman. DC Comics, headquartered in midtown Manhattan, was a subsidiary of Warner Bros. Living in the Big Apple and working for an entertainment empire was an exhilarating experience for this small-town southern boy!

Within eight months I had been promoted to editorial management, working as the assistant to Vice President/Editorial Director Dick Giordano, and seemed to be on the fast track. A few freelancers called me the “heir apparent” of the editorial department, the “guy to get to know.” (An aside about my boss: Dick, coincidentally, was profoundly hard of hearing. We often held private conversations in the elevator so I could speak loudly enough for him to understand me without being overheard by editors loitering outside his office door.)

I began having difficulties processing information. When people would speak to me while I was on the phone, their comments, heard through my “bad ear,” were muffled. DC’s president had a high-pitched, soft voice, and I rarely understood what she said. I began to mishear in editorial meetings, and some colleagues questioned my competence or sobriety. A few editors still stinging from my promotion took advantage of my unsteadiness and bullied me. My self-confidence, along with my hearing, was fading away.

Of course, a true hero would rise above such adversity. I was not heroic in any way. I allowed my progressive hearing loss to crush my spirit, and the bullies and professional stress to make me miserable. Three years after taking my dream job, I resigned from it and slunk back home to be a freelance writer of comic books, a job I could do without having to rely upon my failing hearing.

Trapped in the Phantom Zone
Rose and I spent the summer of 1992 in New Bern, North Carolina, in a house my grandfather had built decades earlier. The house was in disrepair, souring my disposition, and culture shock also waylaid me. I was extremely unhappy and anxious to retreat.

That fall we moved—again!—to Philadelphia, to familiar territory and friends. I was depressed, however, although I usually put on a happy face to friends, keeping most folks at arm’s length. My depression adversely affected my work, and writing assignments withered away. I accepted an editorial position at Dark Horse Comics in the Portland, Oregon, suburb of Milwaukie, and, in August 1993, Rose and I moved from the East to the West Coast.

Once again in an office environment, the pattern from my DC Comics job replayed itself. I was quickly promoted into management, becoming a “group editor” (overseeing an entire line of titles and staff), but fell prey to communication breakdowns. Some editors considered me aloof because I didn’t hang out with them, or rude because I sometimes didn’t answer when they addressed me from a distance or from behind. The day that one of Dark Horse’s executives—a low-talker—mumbled a question that I answered inappropriately, earning a bewildered gape from him; I realized that I could no longer deny my problem.

In spring 1994 I visited an audiologist, had a hearing test, was diagnosed with otosclerosis, and acquired an analog full-shell hearing aid for my right ear. This helped me hear some of the things I had been missing, but did not cure my depression. Actually, I choked on self-pity when I first wore the aid, whining that I was going deaf and would one day be left with nothing but that incessant ringing (tinnitus) in my ears!

I was also having difficulty modulating the volume of my voice. Sometimes I’d speak too loudly, and sometimes, too softly. I remember being at a gathering in a noisy Portland nightclub and greeting an old friend from behind. He didn’t hear me, I was speaking so softly. I repeated myself and it wasn’t until he saw me that he noticed I was there. He called me “the Invisible Man.” While I’d wanted a superpower, invisibility wasn’t it.

On May 27, 1995, my hero, Christopher Reeve, had a horseback-riding accident that left him a quadriplegic, forever banishing him to a wheelchair. Through the support of his family, he “stood tall” as an advocate for people with spinal cord injuries. What an inspiration he was! Reeve truly became a superman.

While I was impressed, I wasn’t prompted to fully address my own disability. In the fall of 1995, I resigned from my staff job and once again retreated into the quiet world of freelance writing. My hearing loss worsened, and so did my attitude. I was also aging out of comics, finding less and less work. I came close to breaking into writing for animation, but that was predicated upon relocating to Los Angeles, a move my wife and I considered ill-advised.

By the late 1990s, I felt that I was a failure and rarely connected with others. I continued to reside in Oregon, more than 3,000 miles away from family and old friends who didn’t have to witness my shortcomings. And I was drowning in despair about my hearing loss. I blamed God for it—hearing is one of our vital senses, and, like air, should always be there, right? At least that was my thinking at the time. At my lowest, I took my Bible—the same Bible I had studied for years, one that was saturated with yellow-highlighted passages—and chucked it into the trash can. I reasoned that God had forsaken me by allowing my hearing to pull a vanishing act, so this was my way of returning the “favor.”

Summoned into Action
In 1999, I took a part-time job as a clerk at a small community-based corporation in Lake Oswego, Oregon, where Rose and I had settled. My hearing worsened. My job involved dealing with the public, and some folks had little patience for someone with a disability. I remember one woman rudely biting my head off after my mishearing of a name.

Still, I began to regain some confidence and became the part-time communications director of this organization. I started wearing two in-the-canal digital hearing aids, which I purchased in 2001 once my single analog was no longer cutting it.

I also inched my way back into publishing, in 2002 producing my first book, the history of a collectible toy. Another book followed the next year. My publisher offered me the opportunity to edit a start-up magazine that would examine comic books and related media of the 1970s and 1980s.

In summer 2003 I became a full-time freelance writer and editor with no shortage of work. Professionally, things were looking up, but I worked from my Fortress of Solitude, limiting my face-to-face contact with others. Hearing loss had become my kryptonite, and I was embarrassed by my condition. I grew my hair long to conceal my hearing aids.

Online I discovered SHHH–Self Help for Hard of Hearing People, the original name of the Hearing Loss Association of America. There was a chapter in Lake Oswego, and one in Portland. I marked their meeting dates in my calendar and swore I’d attend. But when these dates would roll around, I’d find an excuse not to go.

That was my life—not taking ownership of my hearing loss, not learning how to cope with it. I had become a pale imitation of the person I was before I lost my hearing.

And then Superman came to my rescue!

Christopher Reeve died on October 10, 2004, nine years after his debilitating injury. Reeve’s death affected me deeply. I’d never met the man, but it was like I had lost a close friend or brother. Then my grief morphed into something else … a sensation of peace, and of empowerment.

I firmly believe that God used Christopher Reeve as an “angel” to send me a message about dealing with my hearing loss. At that transformational moment, I stopped bellyaching, “Why me?” but instead pondered the question, “What do I do next?”

The answer to my question led me to the next meeting of the Clackamas County, Oregon, SHHH Chapter, which happened to be a hearing resource fair held at the Chapter’s meeting site at the Lake Oswego Senior Center. I learned a great deal about assistive listening devices; was inspired by a speech by David Viers, then the Oregon state president of SHHH (and who soon became my friend); and met other people like me! At the end of the meeting I asked the program director, Ed Larson, if I could join the chapter—I thought I might be too young, since most of the others in the room had gray hair! Not only did he say yes, he recruited me to replace him as program director, since he was moving into a retirement village in a different city. Ed detected a fire within me that I had thought long extinguished.

At the next chapter meeting, Ed introduced me to the group as a “godsend.” I dismissed that remark, but now realize that I was sent there for a higher purpose. I knew absolutely nothing about shaping programs for people with hearing loss—my motivation was initially one individual’s search for information—but having been thrown into the deep end, this time, unlike my previous challenges, I did not quit. The questions I had about hearing loss became program topics, and through curiosity and the help of other SHHH leaders and professionals, I made contacts and booked speakers.

And there I learned a lesson that has since enriched my life: helping people is the path to happiness. As program director, and later president, of that chapter, I was able to console and guide many who felt marginalized by their hearing loss.

Before long I joined the Oregon SHHH (and later, HLAA, post-name change) Board of Trustees and edited the statewide newsletter. After Rose and I decided to return home to North Carolina in September 2007, I became an at-large member of the Board of Trustees of the Hearing Loss Association of North Carolina and the editor of its statewide newsletter. In 2008 I was elected state president, an office I am honored to maintain today.

Below: This Superman take-off, “Super-Antics,” by cartoonist Kerry Callen (kerrycallen.blogspot.com), shows that even a Man of Steel occasionally mishears! SupermanTM DC Comics. Used with permission.

Wanted: More Superheroes!
So how does this make me a superhero? A superhero is someone who does not give up, no matter the odds, and who does what he or she can to help others. Christopher Reeve certainly could have hidden from the spotlight after his accident. The man could not breathe without a respirator, yet he rose above his bodily prison to show us all that you don’t have to be “more powerful than a locomotive” to be a Man of Steel.

My conversion from a self-pitying introvert with hearing loss to a self-confident extrovert with hearing loss opened other doors for me. While I was looking for a community-service project, fate led me to accept a part-time job as executive director of my county’s historical nonprofit organization. I was concerned that my hearing loss might once again work against me, but my wonderful wife encouraged me to move forward.

And I’m so happy I did! My hearing loss has created an occasional hurdle, but I’m now in my fourth year overseeing the preservation of my community’s heritage. From young adults to veterans to senior citizens, I’m routinely showered with gratitude from people who are thrilled that I care about their past. My job has also led me to volunteer with civic organizations such as the Rotary Club, the public library, and my church.

You see, this is my superpower: community service. While I may be painting a portrait of altruism here, I admit that there remains a hint of selfishness behind my motivation: Nothing I’ve ever done before has made me feel so good!

Not long ago, I created for HLA-NC a leadership program called “Invisible No More,” which encourages people with hearing loss to stop hiding their condition. This program has been shared with national leaders and is available on the HLAA website. An important component of “Invisible No More” is the contention that it is the moral imperative of HLAA leaders to help others who have yet to reach our level of confidence or enlightenment.

And so, I invite you to become a superhero, too. Be proud of who you are. Seek guidance and resources to help you communicate and participate in life. Do not give up, no matter how insurmountable the odds may seem. You may not be able to “leap tall buildings in a single bound,” but you will soar to new heights. This, I promise you—and you know Superman would never tell a lie!

Michael Eury wears binaural hearing aids and has been a member of HLAA since 2005. He is the state president of HLA-NC and is a 2011 recipient of the Spirit of HLAA Award. He lives in Concord, North Carolina, with his wife, Rose, who has loyally stood by his side during his journey through life with hearing loss. Contact Michael at euryman@gmail.com and visit HLA-NC’s website at www.nchearingloss.org.

Books by Michael Eury
Michael is the editor of Back Issue, a comics history magazine published eight times a year by TwoMorrows Publishing of Raleigh, North Carolina. Visit their website at www.twomorrows.com. Back Issue premiered in November 2003.

Images of America: Concord (Arcadia Publishing, 2011)
Captain Action: The Original Super-Hero Action Figure: Revised Second Edition
(TwoMorrows, 2009)
The Batcave Companion (with co-writer Michael Kronenberg) (TwoMorrows, 2009)
Adventures of the Mask Omnibus (Dark Horse Comics, 2009)
Comics Gone Ape: The Missing Link to Primates in Comics (TwoMorrows, 2007)
The Krypton Companion (TwoMorrows, 2006)
The Supervillain Book (with co-editor Gina Misiroglu) (Visible Ink, 2006)
The Justice League Companion (TwoMorrows, 2005)
Bugs Bunny: What’s Up, Doc? (contributing writer) (DC Comics, 2005)
Daffy Duck: You’re Despicable! (contributing writer) (DC Comics, 2005)
The Superhero Book: The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Comic-Book Icons and Hollywood Heroes (contributing writer) (Visible Ink, 2004)
Dick Giordano: Changing Comics, One Day At a Time (TwoMorrows, 2003)
Captain Action: The Original Super-Hero Action Figure (TwoMorrows, 2002)





768.5 GB = 152,016 images!

28 07 2011

I had no idea that I had shot that many digital images since I switched from film to digital about seven or eight years ago! (Of course I’ve shot more than that; I delete the really bad ones before I close out the folder and back it up after each photo session). These images include client events (meetings, conventions, awards and staff portraits), portraits of friends/family/clients, pets, nature, still life, craft projects, home renovation projects, travel, lifestyle stock, assignment work, weddings, parties and garden club gatherings, and of course, my botanical/garden/insect images.

A couple of months ago I got a deal on Seagate’s FreeAgent GoFlex Desk 2TB external drives ($109.99 at Best Buy; now they’re even cheaper—$100.90 on Amazon; $99.99 at OfficeMax, B&H Photo and WalMart.

This drive works with both PC & Mac (I’m on a Mac) and will work with USB 2.0 and 3.0. I started with 250 and 500 GB drives years ago and began rapidly filling them up. I think the 2TB drives will cover me for some time! And these aren’t space hogs—they measure just 4.5 x 7 inches.

I copied all my photos (and all my client design files—86,476 items which include Photoshop files, Illustrator drawings, fonts, and Pagemaker/InDesign files!) onto one drive and am backing that entire drive onto two more drives.

You can never have your data backed up in too many places; trust me on this one! If you only have it backed up on one drive, it’s simply not enough insurance. I think you should have at least two complete backups—and no, your computer does not count into the tally). Taking my fellow photographer friend Ed’s advice, I will keep one of the drives off site at a friend’s house. Now that’s extra insurance!

If your images are as important to you as they are to me, please consider buying two drives and back up those treasures! The price is so miniscule compared to paying someone to recover data from a drive (trust me on this one; I speak from experience!). Get the largest storage capacity you can for your budget—this Seagate model just happens to be one of the best deals out there, in my opinion.

I hadn’t looked at the number of photo-only files that were transferred on the first drive, but I did notice it on this second transfer. It’s a grand total of 768.5 GB and a total of 152,016 photo (and about 9 hours to transfer!).





New Photoshop collages for Hearing Loss Magazine

23 02 2011

Just added some new collages to my layout archives from the Hearing Loss Magazine

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Margot, b&w conversion

7 09 2010

Earlier this summer, I posted the color original of this portrait of a friend’s daughter. This one is on my top ten list of favorite portraits I’ve shot recently. When I shot film, I shot mostly Ilford b&w and loved the results I got with portrait shoots. I converted this image using b&w actions from a Totally Rad Actions set. Which image do you prefer—color or b&w—and why?

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Could Photoshop get any better?

26 03 2010

Thanks to F.T. for sending me this sneak preview of Photoshop CS5’s “content-aware fill” feature. I’m looking forward to this version!





Charles Wildbank, artist

20 02 2010

I met artist Charles Wildbank through my friend Mike Royer, who is a member of HLAA (Hearing Loss Association of America). I design and produce the Hearing Loss Magazine for HLAA and photographed Mike, Alicia and my friend Sue for the cover of the March/April 2008 issue (see that cover in this posting here). I’ve also photographed the Royer family in my studio and had the honor of photographing their third child, Ashley Jocelyn, coming into the world. You can see those photos in my postings: Meet the Royers; And baby girl makes five…; Annie & Joshua; Welcome to the world, Ashley Jocelyn;  and Introducing Ashley Jocelyn.

Mike knows we’re always on the lookout for interesting people who have hearing loss, so he recommended Charles for a future feature article. Charles wears hearing aids and received a cochlear implant in late 2009. I’m happy to report that Charles and I are online friends now and chat often through Facebook, discussing art techniques and materials, photography, camera gear, Photoshop, marketing our work, and life in general. I plan to drive up to North Fork, Long Island, to interview and photograph Charles for the magazine sometime this year. (Above: Charles works on a painting from his Hado series)

A prolific painter, Charles averages one or two large paintings a month and works in oil and acrylic. He does a lot of sketching on his computer with an electronic tablet, and paints with his laptop next to the easel for reference. He uses paintbrushes, applicators, squeeze bottles, detailing pens, rollers, soaking rags and drip techniques. His paintings range from 36″ minimum up to 20 feet—“the bigger the better for me—for my best expression,” he says.

Charles is currently working on a demonstration painting “performance” video that will be posted on youtube.com and vimeo.com. View a video he recently created about his painting, Luvin’ Wave, here. Check out his website at www.wildbank.com. He has been interviewed by many publications, including Fine Art Magazine, Dan’s Papers, Southampton Press, the Los Angeles Times, and others. You can read those interviews on his website here. To download his 41-page e-book, click here: WildbankEbookprint.

Some of my favorite Wildbanks paintings are from his still life series. In an interview with Dan’s Papers, he said, “Although I create large-scale subjects for my murals and commissions, I wind up interspersing my still life series with vignettes of the simple pleasures in life, such as the cup of capuccino.”

Excerpted from www.deafnotes.com:
Charles, a Long Island native, is the eldest of nine children and congenitally profoundly deaf. He was fitted with a hearing aid at age two and has a brother who is deaf and another who is hard of hearing. When he was nine years old, with the support and nurturing of his parents and grandmother, he began painting. He later attended Yale, Pratt and Columbia, graduating with honors. In 1979, Wildbank’s first exhibit at Bonwit Teller created a sensation on Fifth Avenue, with a giant sparkling rendering of the famed Cartier diamond. He had just left his position after seven years of teaching the deaf. Deciding to continue painting, he discovered that other artists were exhibiting their art in the store windows of Fifth Avenue, thought he would give it a try, and was quite successful. Soon after, he walked into a neighboring Cartier store and inquired about their windows. Three years later they gave him an entire salon upstairs, where he painted the seven foot tall painting of the Cartier diamond.

Excerpted from www.wildbank.com:

Born and raised on Long Island, Charles Bourke Wildbank drew and painted since age 4 as his prime means of communication, as he was born deaf. In an interview with Hamptons.com, Charles said, “When I was younger, drawing took the place of speaking when I couldn’t find the words. Painting or drawing was something I developed because I remember admiring the graffiti in the neighborhood. I loved to draw and found myself drawing my other hand. It developed into drawing a hand holding a ball, earth, or a pencil, sort of like the artist Escher. Art was never a means to escape; it was either a communication or even a dance, showing my skill.”

He took art classes on Saturdays with the encouragement of his family and found himself earning scholarships to Pratt Institute and Yale University where he majored in Fine Art and Photography. He delved into photorealism while at Pratt Institute, created a sensation on Fifth Avenue with a giant sparkling rendering of the famed Cartier diamond, and has painted portraits of David Hockney and the late Luciano Pavarotti. In his Hamptons.com interview, he said, “Growing up, I despaired over being able to sing and yet not hear the notes enough to discern the pitches. I can only get the melody and nuances of music with my hearing aid. I deeply love music but have transcended that with my love for color and light.” He is well known for his versatility of a wide range of figurative themes including florals, still life, portraits and seascapes. Read the full Hamptons.com interview here. (Left: Charles with his painting, Sedona)

His latest achievements include two 18-foot-high murals commissioned by the Cunard Line for the new luxury ocean liner, the Queen Mary 2. The murals depict cliffs and coastal scenes of England and America. Though the murals were applied with paint, Wildbank made extensive use of digital and photographic technology in his sketch preparations.

Wildbank is listed with some of his works in the book, Deaf Artists in America: Colonial to Contemporary, by Deborah Sonnenstrahl. He conducted workshops in Poppi, Italy during fall of 2002, and in Giverny, France during spring of 2006. View his art chronology here.

Up to present day, observable form and vivid color have long been attributed to Wildbank’s art. His recent works appear to flirt with the abstract and the surreal christened as his HADO series. His studio in Jamesport is now open to the public by appointment.

ideafnews.com recently interviewed Charles at his home in North Fork. You can view that captioned video below.





Cape May sunrise

12 12 2009

Years ago, I attended one of the first Great American Photography Workshops (GAPW) in Cape May, New Jersey. Renowned wildlife and nature photographer Art Wolfe was the guest instructor for the weekend.

This sunrise photo (yes, I got up that early and yes, it really was that intense—no Photoshop enhancing done in this shot, I promise!) won 3rd place in the landscape category that weekend. My prize? A teeny tiny collapsible reflector—about 12″ when expanded—I had no idea they made them that small.

I had hoped my shot of two gulls squawking on posts would have placed in the fauna category instead. Why? I rolled up my pant legs and ventured out, knee deep, into the really cold surf just to get close enough to get the shot (I think my longest lens at the time was the 105 macro!). The sunrise shot was a breeze (except for the having to get up so early part!); I earned the gull shot. I’ll post that shot next.

Photo notes: I’m fairly certain this was shot with my Nikon N90s and Fuji Velvia slide film. 35mm slide scanned by ScanCafe.com

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





ScanCafe delivers early!

11 12 2009

ScanCafe continues to impress me! I received an e-mail this morning at 8:21 a.m. stating that my order was ready for review. They were seven days early from their original date of December 18. They allow for up to 50% of your scans to be “deleted” and you’re not charged for those, believe it or not! I reviewed the files and decided not to delete any. I paid the remaining balance and less than 30 minutes later, I had a link to go download the .sit file with all the images. A DVD with the images will be sent with my original slides shortly. It took me a little over an hour to download a compressed file with 400 images—thank goodness for high speed Internet access.

Now begins the (most pleasant!) task of going through the images, processing in Photoshop (still have to teach myself Lightroom 2, though), and determining which ones are worthy of blog exposure. Some of these slides date back to the late 70s—obviously non-digital days—shot with various SLR film cameras ranging from my father’s Yashica (model unknown; he loaned it to me to shoot a high school football game and never got it back!), graduating to a Pentax K1000 purchased at Sears as a present from my dad, then on to my first Nikon—a Nikon N2020, then moving up to a Nikon N90s (followed by another N90s backup body), and ending with my ultimate dream camera (at the time)—a Nikon F5, which I still own.

Yes, I will still be shooting new stuff as my schedule permits and assignments arise, but I hope you’ll enjoy this nostalgic trip (with no particular chronological order) into the world of Kodachrome, Ektachrome and Fuji Velvia!

Photo note: I believe I shot this image of (Greater Flamingoes?) at the Gladys Porter Zoo in McAllen, Texas. I’ve always loved this composition, and it was one of my first images I selected to sent to ScanCafe. I did a 24×36 pastel/conté drawing of this image for my sister, Debbie, as a gift one Christmas many years ago. In fact, that drawing is still hanging in her foyer—unfortunately, it’s framed in an in-vogue-at-the-time (but certainly not now) shiny and modern metal frame—in hot pink (to match the flamingo legs, of course). Yowza! I should also mention that it is on the wall behind the front door when you enter, so it can’t easily gather a flock of admirers around it. Hey, I know it’s still there. Good on ya, Deboo.

LATE-BREAKING NEWS: In his recent comment, my father reminded me that I didn’t include one more film camera that was in my repertoire—my medium format Mamiya 645! Dad bought me this camera while I was still living in Texas, shooting portraits and weddings for extra cash. I had it for several years, then sold it when I moved to the Washington, D.C. area so I could buy my Nikon 2020 and various lenses to get back into shooting 35mm. I put an ad in the Washington Post and sold it for about $900, to the best of my recollection. Many years later, during one of my jaunts to Infinite Color (a local lab) to get slides processed, I started chatting with a photo techie guy who was manning the front counter that morning. One thing led to another and I discovered that he was the guy I had sold the camera to (about 8-9 years earlier). He was still using it at the time and loved it. He waxed rhapsodic over its virtues and I left the lab wishing I had kept the camera! I wonder if ScanCafe does medium 2-1/4 negatives and slides…hmmm…I sense a future project coming on!





Photoshop tricks: Thanksgiving 2009

1 12 2009

Michael and I hosted Thanksgiving for all our “orphan” friends—those who didn’t have plans to go home to visit family but still wanted to celebrate. Our friends, Paula and Ken (far right), son Kirk (left in blue) and our friend and neighbor, Regina (left in red) helped us celebrate the occasion. Not wanting to bother with all that camera-on-the-tripod-with-time-delay-run-and-jump-into-the-scene business, I shot the first image and handed the camera over to Kirk. A little Photoshop trickery united the entire group into one image. It was done rather crudely and quickly, so don’t be getting out your magnifying glasses to scrutinize, ya hear? (Upon second glance, I wish I had removed Michael’s “claw” on my shoulder—never a good position for hands in a photograph—it looks like a dismembered hand—hmmm…maybe another challenge in Photoshop, perhaps?)

© Cindy Dyer & Kirk Grabowski







Craft project: The Monet Chair

20 07 2009

My friend Karen inherited this rocking chair from her grandmother and took it out to the lake house a few weekends ago. She has often declared, “I’ve never met a little chair I didn’t like!” Since the fabric wasn’t in great shape, she asked what I thought about painting something on the chair to make it more whimsical. And, of course, I took on the challenge with gusto!

NOTE: The chair is not finished yet—the photo on the right is a Photoshop collage utilizing the chair in its current state with an overlay of a screen grab image of one of Monet’s water lily paintings. I combined the two images to use as a painting reference. This is what it should look like when I’m done!

Over the July 4th weekend, I painted a base coat of metallic blue, green and gold paint (finally, a use for all those little bottles of fabric paint I bought when such-and-such store was going out of business!). My initial plan was to paint sketchy leaves or swirly abstract shapes on top in a lighter color. I thought that it was starting to look like the water in one of Monet’s paintings of water lilies at his garden in Giverny, France. I shot some record shots of the chair after I was done. Karen loved the idea of turning it into a “Monet chair,” and it was her idea to split up the painting with the Japanese bridge on back of the chair and the water lilies on the seat. We found one of Monet’s many water lily paintings on the web, including one with very bright blue/teal and green combination of tones in the water. I did a screen grab of the painting and superimposed it over the chair in Photoshop to see what it would look like. She loved the effect—so guess what my project at the lake house this next weekend is? I’ll shoot some during-and-after shots so you can see how it turned out. I’m estimating it will take about 3-4 hours to complete.

Monet Chair





Scott Kelby’s first-ever Worldwide Photowalk

24 08 2008

Yesterday Michael and I joined about 50 photographers in Founder’s Park in Alexandria, Virginia for Scott Kelby‘s first-ever “Worldwide Photowalk.” I met Scott over a decade ago when he was just starting the National Association of Photoshop Professionals (NAPP), and the regular Photoshop (and other Adobe programs) seminars. At the time, he was operating a design studio in Dunedin, Florida. My friend Bret and I attended one of his first one-day seminars in Richmond (his other business is Kelby Training). Cost: $99. We were amazed and thought, “what could you possibly learn for just $99?” Most software seminars are two-day events and run upwards of $800-1200! We figured if we just learned a couple of tips, it would be worth it. We were blown away by Scott’s knowledge, humor, and his all around good-guy-ness. If you get a chance to go to a seminar, you will not be disappointed. Along with fellow instructors Dave Cross, Bert Monroy, and Ben Willmore, he teaches seminars across the U.S. throughout the year.

Membership in NAPP is $99 per year. As a member, you get the Photoshop User Magazine, which without membership is $9.99 an issue on newsstands. That alone is worth the price of membership. Membership also gets you great discounts on Scott Kelby’s numerous books, videos, and great products from other vendors. Members get a discount and pay just $79 for the one-day seminars.

Cammie and Paula and I attended the first-ever Photoshop World Conference and Expo, which was held in Orlando, Florida. This year’s event (now in its tenth year) will be held September 4-6, at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, in Las Vegas, Nevada. Sure wish I could go…but work beckons.

Scott is President of NAPP, and editor and publisher of both Photoshop User Magazine and Layers magazine (the how-to magazine for everything Adobe). Layers was formerly Mac Design Magazine. He is also now an accomplished photographer, as evidenced by his portfolio. I just read here that he was named the top-selling computer book author three years in a row. Since 2001, he has sold over 1,000,000 units! Two of my invaluable favorites are The Digital Photography Book and The Digital Photography Book, Volume 2. He dedicates one page per topic and they are great quick reference guides for photographers. I own enough of his books that I can claim that I’ve put at least a couple of meals on his table. 🙂

Is there anything this man cannot do? He does all of this, plus has a wife and two kids. Good on ya, Scott!

Our group was led by Manassas photographer Jeff Revell. Learn more about the Alexandria walk on Jeff’s blog, PhotoWalkPro. We were blessed with beautiful weather, a nice spring-like breeze, blue skies, and puffy white clouds all morning long.

I finally got to meet Maryland photographers Patty Hankins and her husband, Bill Lawrence, of Hankins-Lawrence Images, LLC. Patty and I have been corresponding for a few months and visit each other’s blogs regularly. Visit Patty’s blog to see her latest postings. On her blog, you can subscribe to her “Photo Notes,” where she directs you to new products, reviews, shooting locations, workshops, seminars, articles and more. It’s worth subscribing to because you get some great links such as the ones she found this week.

Bill was the only photographer on the walk not shooting with a 35mm SLR. He was shooting with Polaroid and Fuji Instant Film (color and b&w) on a vintage Graflex RB Series B SLR camera.

Below are some of the images I shot during the walk through Old Towne yesterday. (I think I did more talking than shooting, but wasn’t that the point of gathering anyway?) I talked to a few photographers (names to come later when I remember them!) and picked up some very handy tips on shooting with flash and ways to trigger off-camera flashes. Thanks, guys!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

…and then, halfway through the walk, someone remembered there was a Saturday Farmer’s Market! Jeff remarked that had he known this, we would have started out at the market. I went a little crazy and photographed virtually everything edible!





How to: Fireworks in D.C. without the crowds

6 07 2008

Always wanted to see the fireworks in D.C. but heard so much about the crowds that you avoid it at all costs? I have the solution! Buy a $50 assortment pack of fireworks at Costco, invite a few dear friends (neighbors will join you or peep through the windows when they hear all the commotion), head to a cul-de-sac in your community, and fire away! Photograph the fireworks, add a shot of the Washington Monument (from your own archives, of course), and superimpose the two in Photoshop. Presto! It’s a grand celebration on the 4th of July without the crush of passengers in the metro, vying for a coveted spot on the grounds, the unsightly trash left behind, and the mad rush to get home.





En pointe

12 05 2008

Early Sunday morning I photographed Alexa again, with the goal of getting a stellar cover image for the July/August issue of Hearing Loss Magazine. I first met Alexa this past December when I photographed her performing in The Nutcracker Ballet (https://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2007/12/01/beauty-and-grace/), presented by the Classical Ballet Theatre (http://www.cbanva.com/).

I did get a really great image for the cover, but it will be kept under wraps until its debut in early June. In the interim, I’ll share some of the other images I did this morning. I played around in Photoshop with these two still-life-type shots, using several of Doug Boutwell’s Totally Rad Action Mix actions to get this dreamy sepia effect. What a great way to make a nice photograph more special. I highly recommend these great actions! Check out his revised website here: http://www.gettotallyrad.com/

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.