Thursday, July 26, 2012

Waukesha County Fair and a Lesson Learned

This past Saturday, I decided to visit the Waukesha County Fair for the first time in 3 years.  Mostly, I went because it was close (I just didn't feel like using up gas last weekend), but I also knew that the latest assignment for my Photo Composition class was Editorial Portraits.  (Note: I decided not to name this Photo Composition Class #5 since Editorial Photography is what this blog is all about anyway)

I learned a very important lesson when I arrived at the fair and saw what made a great first subject for my assignment, the gentleman below who carves wood with a chainsaw.  But, when I turned on my camera, the screen blinked at me that there was no memory card.  In my rush to get out the door, I left my card in the reader since I had been working on editing photos the day before.

Luckilly for me, Art's Camera Plus ( had a stand there.  Sure enough, I was able to buy a small memory card for only $5.00.  So, if you plan on taking a lot of pictures, and you know you will be far from home (and especially if you know you'll be far from civilization), bring a backup battery AND a backup memory card.  You just never know.

After I got my camera back in working order, I took the photograph of the chainsaw artist, and meandered down to where the equestrian competitions were taking place.  I got a lot of photos of the competitors waiting around on their horses, but I thought the one below was the best for my class.

I then went over to where the competitions were being held, and used the Sports setting on my Canon camera to get some action shots.  What's nice about this setting is, if you have a DSLR camera, you can keep your finger pressed on the shutter to capture as many shots as you want in quick succession.  The struggle is, though, you might only get 1 or 2 shots out of 4 that are usable.  But it is fun to see what you get.

I decided to use the rest of my time at the fair to see the 4-H art in one of the arenas, have lunch (I was good - just a taco and a water) and get individual shots of some of the people working.  You can see those below.

I only spent a few hours at the Waukesha County Fair since storm clouds were ever-present, but I did have fun.  I got to see really good art, took a lot of fun photos, and see some cute animals.  This is my last post for the Photography Composition class.  Next week is our last class, and the assignment is Self Portrait.  I can't wait to take more classes and learn more skills that I can pass on.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Photo Composition Class #4: Photographic Study

The latest assignment for my Photo Composition class, held last night, was a Photographic Study.  As I mentioned in my post for class #3, I have seen some photographic studies on the internet before, so I kind of knew what I was expected to do.  I decided on The Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in downtown Milwaukee while at Bastille Days on Sunday since it was old, had character, and I could shoot both inside and outside, since they were having an open house.

I first took a long shot of the top of the cathedral from the center of the festival using my telephoto lens before walking over to the cathedral itself since the aqua-coloring and clock in the middle caught my eye from so far away.

When I approached the cathedral, I saw the directory building, and thought the landscaping and black gate made a good shot.  Please forgive the brown grass, but we are in the middle of a drought right now.  Hmm, maybe I can go back into Photoshop and change it to a lusher green.  Just a thought.

Above the entrance to the chapel is this cool looking emblem and stained glass window.  My teacher liked this one especially due to the texture of the wood against the etched glass.  I have to admit, this one was hard to crop since I first had the open door included, which I thought would add balance and interest, but decided it distracted too much from the detail.

I then went inside and saw just how lovely this chapel is.  I really liked the dark peach color to the ceiling (which, unfortunately is coming out a bit orange on my monitor), the marble, and the gigantic pipe organ.  The hanging sculpture of the Passion above the altar was also very stunning.

I then went off to the side of the chapel and noticed how interesting this row of columns leading up to a statue of Mary was.  Since one of our past assignments was lines & shadows, I knew this would work well for the study.

Since I was in such a beautiful chapel, I definitely wanted to get a shot of a stained-glass window, and there were many to choose from in this chapel.  I chose the one of Saint Jude since I once visited St. Jude Hospital in Memphis.

My last photograph of St. John's Cathedral was of the baptism area.  It was hard to get a good shot of this area without getting either the altar in front or the entrance door on the other side.  I chose a close-up since I loved the colors and design of the marble.

If you would like information on The Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, including tours, Mass schedule, and outreach programs, visit  You can even take a virtual tour of the cathedral.

Next week's assignment is Editoral Portraits, including street photography.  I'll post the results next week.  Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A Day of Wine and Music: Milwaukee's Bastille Days 2012

This past Sunday, I braved the 90 degree heat to head to downtown Milwaukee to attend Bastille Days, a free festival that is held around Cathedrial Square.  Knowing I had another assignment due for my Photo Composition class, I figured this was a great opportunity to head closer to the lake and enjoy some wine, french food, music and shopping before working on my photos.

The festival is one of my favorites, simply because I'm enamored with french culture.  And Bastille Days does not disappoint.  I started out by watching one of the festival's cooking demonstrations, this one from Michael Long, executive chef at Hotel Metro, who prepared a simple vegetable soup.  Afterwards, I was hungry, so I went down to the north end of the festival and took this shot of the festival's smaller version of the Eiffel Tower on my way:

After getting some pomme frittes and a Belgian ale, I stopped at the Tourisme Quebec Stage, where I sat for a while (in the shade, thank goodness) and listened to a really good guitar player and singer named John Stano.  Although a lot of his songs were folk in nature (I'm more of a rock-and-roll type of girl), John was very good, and not only did he play his own songs, but also those from Woody Guthrie, Hank Williams, Bob Dylan and others.

I knew sooner or later, I would have to leave my shady oasis and venture back out into the sun and heat, so after a little shopping and picture-taking inside St. John's chapel, I wandered over to where they were having the festival's annual Waiter/Waitress race.  This is where I took the majority of my photos of the festival because, simply, it was fun to watch.  I used my telephoto lens for these shots since there were so many people around, so I managed to get this shot of the pre-race set up:

Now, the Waiter/Waitress race is no simple "carry a tray of filled wine glasses from one end to the other" kind of deal.  There are actual obstacles the wait staff have to overcome.  Each restaurant has a team of 2 with one team member at one end of the course and one at the other.  The first team member has to open the bottle of wine and pour into two glasses, as such:

The first team member then has to walk around a fence and then over two chairs situated end-to-end, all with the tray of wine, up and over the center stage, through a set of tires, and then over to where the 2nd team member is waiting to take over.  The 2nd team member then takes the tray and heads back the other way, as such:

The 2nd team member, then goes back through the tires, as such:

Then the team member has to "serve" 2 customers situated on center stage, including having them pay the bill, and making sure their service was to their satisfaction.

Then the team member has to go back over the 2 chairs, around the fence again, and back to the starting line.  And both team members have to keep the wine glasses and bottle upright the whole time through the obstacle course, or they lose points.  At the end of the race, the 2nd member of each team then has to answer a trivia question for additional points.

The race was fun and interesting to watch, although I wouldn't want to do it in the 90 degree heat.  I didn't stay long enough to find out the winner, because I couldn't take the heat any longer, but I hope everyone had a good time, racers and spectators alike.

Milwaukee's Bastille Days is just one of many ethnic festivals held throughout the summer.  We have already had Polish Fest, but coming up this weekend is Festa Italiana, followed by German Fest, African World Fest, Irish Fest, Fiesta Mexicana and Indian Summer.  For more information on Milwaukee's ethinic festivals, and all of the other festivals being held in the area this summer, go to

Monday, July 16, 2012

Photo Composition Class #3: Lines & Circles/Light & Shadow

My Photo Composition class last Wednesday had two assignments due, since the week before, class fell on the 4th of July.  So we had to take 5 photos using lines and circles and 5 using light and shadow.

I didn't do too badly looking for places and objects that had lines and circles to them.  The photo above was taken of a metal sculpture called "The Calling", or The Sunburst to those of us who live in Wisconsin.  It is located in downtown Milwaukee in front of the Art Museum.  My teacher brought up the fact that it is a popular place for people taking wedding photos, and in fact, I did see about 5 wedding parties around the Art Museum and The Sunburst that day.

The two photos below of the flags and the fence were taken on the campus of Wisconsin Lutheran College in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin while I was attending an art fair the week after the 4th.  I didn't buy anything at the fair, but I did see some great artists and craftspeople.

Another photograph I took for the Lines & Circles assignment was this old Post Office window on display at the Waukesha County Museum.  It would have also worked as a light/shadow photo.  Right now, the museum has an exhibit of donated objects from throughout Waukesha's history including vintage hats and jewelry, furniture, and sports equipment.  My favorite part of this exhibit was seeing the old crates and lighted advertisement signs featuring Waukesha Springs Water.

I had more trouble coming up with photos for the Light & Shadow exhibit.  I even went down to the Waukesha Riverwalk to try and capture some shots of the river near sundown, but they didn't turn out the best.  I had better luck during the day and capturing photos indoors.

The first one, below, was taken inside a salon/yoga studio that my friend and I tried to go into on a Saturday down on Brady Street in Milwaukee.  The salon and studio were closed, but this lone chandelier with the burned out light bulb was on.

Two of the other pictures I used were taken at Holy Hill, about 30 minutes west of Milwaukee.  I wasn't sure that the one of the stairs would qualify since the teacher kept talking about capturing photos at night or near dusk, but he did like my interpretation.

The other photo from Holy Hill was taken inside the chapel.  When I presented this photo in class, both the teacher and myself noticed that it came out too yellow due to the fact it was taken using candlelight.  So he put a blue filter on it to show me how it brought out more of the gray.  I did the same thing when I came home, and added a little more contrast.  That's how it's shown below and I like it a lot more.

Next week's assignment is a Photographic Study.  I have seen these presented online before, so I kind of know what I'm expected to present.  My teacher wants something studied that is older and has character.  I already took the photos of my subject yesterday, and I will post those after I'm critiqued on Wednesday.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

New Etsy Store: Jay J Studio

My new Etsy store, Jay J Studio is open!  I closed my old shop, Blue Jay Beads, in which I tried to sell my hand-made beaded jewelry, and used it to create my new shop which focuses on handmade blank cards using my own photography.  I just opened it today, so it only has a few cards in it to sell, but more are forthcoming.  If you are looking for unique cards using local photography, please visit my shop at  Even if what I have to sell is not what you need, you can go to to find all sorts of items from art to vintage items to household goods, and all of it's shops are independently owned.  I'm proud to be one of Etsy's growing list of artisans, and, even though I'm not expecting huge sales, I'm excitied to see what demand my photography might bring. 

If you've ever thought of selling one of your own works, Etsy is great for that, too.  For only $.20 a listing and 3.5% of your profit, you can open your own shop.  Go to for details.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Art to Celebrate the City of Light

I don't really have a bucket list, but if I did, visiting Paris would be right at the top.  I've always been fascinated with the City of Light with it's amazing architecture, food and art.  My friend Micki recently visited Paris and took a lot of wonderful photographs, including many inside the Louvre, which made me want to visit even more. 

This week, the citizens of France will be celebrating Bastille Day on the 14th, which celebrates the beginning of the French Revolution.  In Milwaukee, we even have a festival commemorating the holiday which runs Thursday through Sunday with french cuisine, strolling performers (aka Buskers), wine tastings and even a dog costume parade.  For information on the Bastille Days festival, go to

Last spring, I created the above and following Artist Trading Cards for the "Springtime" themed swap.  I had a lot of fun interpreting Paris in springtime with the polka-dotted paper and french-inspired stickers.  This month's theme for the Milwaukee swap (being held on July 28) will be "Prints and Printmaking" and I've already decided on my theme.  When those are finished, I will definitely post them.  In the meantime, enjoy my Parisian creations, and vive la France!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Full Moon Fever

It seems like every time there has been a full moon in my part of Wisconsin lately, it has been cloudy or I haven't had my camera with me.  But tonight, I FINALLY had a chance to take a shot of this bi-monthly phenomenon.  Now, since my telephoto lens only goes up to 250 mms, the above shot was the best I could do.  I even used the "Unsharp Mask" a few times in Photoshop Elements to enhance the moon's craters and shadows.  But, I'm very excited to say I got a full moon shot.  I can't wait until fall when I can shoot the more exciting harvest moon.  It will be a lot cooler too - today's heat index was close to 100 and there is no relief in sight.  I did, however, see some rain this morning, so there is hope - someday.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Composition Class #2: Texture

This past Wednesday, I had my third Photography Composition Class, and the second where an assigment was due.  This week's assignment was Texture.  I had seen other photographers participate in Texture photo challenges before, and they were all quite inventive, so I was intimidated at first.  But, the teacher always shows examples of photos that fit the theme at the end of the lecture, and they were mostly pictures of everyday places and objects, but the photographers captured the texture using lighting at an angle which enhanced the contrast.

For the photo at the top and the ones above and below, I got up early and went down to Frame Park in Waukesha since I knew that their small botannical garden had stone walls, decorative pots, and wooden trellisses.  I really liked the different formations in the stone wall above, and the one below looked to me like a Frank Lloyd Wright stained glass window with the different lines etched into the stone.

Another reason I was happy to participate in the Cream City: Milwaukee photowalk to the East Troy Electric Railroad Museum was that I knew there would be a lot of texture to be found on the old rail cars.  The photo below was actually taken of a large door to the museum itself.

The photo below is my favorite one of the assignment.  I was on the Chicago Electric out to Mukwonago, and we passed this train with a lot of rust and chipped paint.  Unfortunately, since we were moving, I couldn't get a good shot at the time.  When we got back to the station to start the walk, I waited until the Chicago Electric pulled out again and started shooting.  The teacher liked this photo as well, and gave me my best compliment about my work so far:  He said that there was a lot to look at in my photos.  I hope that's true.

My class isn't being held this week due to it falling on July 4.  So, when we go back on the 11th, we have two assignments.  One is light and shadow and the other is lines and circles.  I'll have to think hard about the best places around town that offer both.  But, it's fun to go out hunting for shots, so I'm looking forward to the challenge.