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Scenes of South Walton, 2012

A local group focused on environmental and growth issues in the mostly rural community where I live, in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, is called South Walton Community Council.  Missioned especially with protection of our fabulously beautiful, pristine environment, relative to development and community growth issues, SWCC also puts on a Back-to-Nature Festival every fall.  Last year for the first time, Hidden Lantern Gallery partnered with SWCC to produce a juried art show called Scenes of South Walton, comprised of art inspire by the local natural setting.

Aster Reflected

I decided to enter a few of my photographs this year, and I was pleased to receive notice that my work had been accepted.  I usually shoot photography for fun, for Facebook, and because I love the process of capturing images.  If you’ve been keeping up with my blog, you know that I also shoot for Leslie Kolovich of The Stand Up Paddle Radio Show, but working for her is so much fun I hardly call it work.

Being a visual artist, of course, line, shape, size, position, color, texture, and density, all of the elements of composition, and repetition, harmony, and unity, the principles of composition, factor into my artistic evaluation of any of my photographs.  Ultimately, though, my chief interest in my own photography, is the play of light over the forms.  I rarely do much with post-processing, primarily enjoying the act of shooting the photo much more than the infinite tweaking that can happen after the image is on the computer.

Tree Frog

To my pleasant surprise, one of my pieces was selected for Honorable Mention.  There were works by 12 other artists and photographers, all of whom I consider my superiors in craftsmanship, experience, and sheer expression.  But my pieces do have impact, and the piece I submitted that received the Honorable Mention, “Aster Reflected“, also has enough of an abstract element to be just a little confusing.  It is a photo of an aster hanging out over the creek, and perfectly reflected in the creek.  Actually, the reflection is a more distinct image of the flower than the actual flower, which is over-exposed.  The confusion comes from there being such a perfect reflection of the aster, stems, and leaves, in contrast to some pine straw and debris that is just floating on the surface without any reflection.  When you look at it, you have to stop to figure out why there isn’t a double image of everything, how there could be just a single image, unreflected, mixed in with all the double imagery of the reflections.

Water Lily

The juror, KC Williams, didn’t mention the composition when she talked about my photograph, but instead discussed how it clearly represented an image that could be found in South Walton.  She actually talked quite a bit about each piece she that she had chosen, and also about the superb craftsmanship and artistic expression of all of the works in the show, but when mine was announced, I was smiling too wide to be able to listen.

Most of my images are available for purchase.  Contact me if you are interested. — Joan Vienot

Juror KC Williams is Director of the Galleries at Northwest Florida State College in Niceville, and she along with the Director of the South Walton Center of NWFSC, Julie Terrell, facilitate the exhibition of Cultural Arts Alliance members works through the A+Art Committee, on which I serve as co-chairman.

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The Artist’s Way Workshop

I am two weeks into a workshop on  The Artist’s Way:  A Spiritual Guide to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron.  Joyce Hogue is leading the workshop for our group of 10 or 12 women, at A. Wickey Studio-Gallery in Rosemary Beach, Florida.  I bought the book eons ago, when it first came out, and I started it several times, but my interest always waned after not even one week of studying it by myself.  One of the exercises in the first chapter, which is to continue I guess for the rest of your life, is to write 3 pages about anything, every morning.  I found out in this workshop that I don’t have to use a big notebook, so I can finish my 3 pages inside ½ hour every day.  I think using a fullsize notebook is what cost me my enthusiasm in previous attempts.  I expect the energy of the group to keep me focused.

I am more in touch with my desire to produce art now, and I expect The Artist’s Way workshop to reinforce the direction I am heading.  Anyone following my blog knows that I am not a “blocked” artist, that I have been producing quite a bit of art over the past few years, especially considering that I also have a full-time job and several part-time jobs.  Also I have been much more involved in my local art community, serving on the Board of the Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County (CAA), and working especially hard on CAA’s A+Art Committee.

One of my part-time jobs has been to occasionally produce photographic images for Leslie Kolovich, host of  The Stand Up Paddle Radio Show, a blog with online podcasts of her interviews of interesting people and events connected by the theme of standup paddling.  She also writes “On the Road with Leslie” segments for the Standup Journal, where some of my photography has illustrated her adventures.

So it should not be not a surprise that I took my cameras with me on my “artist date”, an exercise assigned by the Artist’s Way workshop.  I got up early last Saturday, and launched my canoe in the bayou behind my house, and paddled out on the glassy-calm Choctawhatchee Bay at sunrise.  The buoys marking the Intracoastal Waterway captured me, and my half-hour artists date turned into two hours.  I played with some of my photos right there and then, in my canoe, using an application on my iPhone.  I’ve included a couple in this post.  Most of my photography is done with my Sony Cybershot which I dearly love, but which requires a computer for any post-processing.

My practice of photography is paying off.  Next week is the opening of  “Scenes of South Walton“, a juried art exhibit at Hidden Lantern Gallery in Rosemary Beach, Florida, and I am one of the 12 artists selected for the show.  I submitted 3 photographic images.  All of the art is nature-inspired from South Walton County, Florida, my home community, as a part of the Back-to-Nature Festival hosted by South Walton Community Council.  The show opens Thursday, 10/18/12, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.

The next night, 10/19/12, A+Art’s “Top of the Class” juried art show opens at Northwest Florida State College, in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida.  I served as show coordinator with the Co-Chair of the A+Art Committee, Miffie Hollyday, for the production of this show.  Every member of the committee provides invaluable assistance, and I’m excited to be a part of this team effort.  Working behind the scenes certainly has given me an appreciation for the process.

Most of my images are available for purchase.  Contact me if you are interested. — Joan Vienot

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Paying Attention

Mirrored Bay

Every day I cross the Clyde Wells Bridge over the Choctawhatchee Bay as I travel US 331 from my home to my office.  Though I strive for present moment awareness, I often find I am focused on planning my workday, and I cross the bridge without even noticing whether the water is choppy or calm.  But sometimes the view is so spectacular that I not only cannot ignore it, I am compelled to pull off the road and try to capture it with my camera. Sometimes I share the images on facebook.  The mirrored image at right was especially popular with my friends.

The following series was on just such a day.  The atmosphere near the ground was heavy, but backlit by the sun so that the mist created lighter values behind the successive layers of receding land masses.  I have added some obnoxious watermarks to the downsized images posted here, but have preserved the originals in full resolution, without watermark, in case someone wants to purchase a print.

Most of my images are available for purchase.  Contact me if you are interested. — Joan Vienot

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Photography Image Manipulation

Most of my photography is composed in the viewfinder or on the LCD before I ever even shoot the picture, by where I position myself and how I frame the picture.  Since most of my work is nature photography, rarely do I ever do much more in post processing than just crop and increase the brightness a little or saturate the colors just a bit.  I am cautious not to alter the lighting or the color in an image very much for fear of making it look “wrong”.  I don’t want the viewer to immediately describe the photograph as “Photoshopped.”

But there are many photography applications which anyone can use, and they are fun to play with.  I use two on my iPhone, for fun and experimentation.  One is called Value Viewer, and it is a useful tool for seeing a value study of a composition before shooting it or painting it.  It also enables a lot of manipulation to create images that are strikingly different from the original.  The image below, left, is a dramatic piece in 3 values.  Beside it is the original rather non-descript photo of some random grasses beside the Bay.  Unfortunately, for some viewing this post on their smart-phones, one of the images may be appearing sideways, which makes it difficult to compare the two.  I don’t know how to correct that for phone viewing.

Final Image

Original Image

The image below left is enhanced using the iPhone app called Snapseed.  The original shot is on the right.  I sharpened it as far as the app would take it, and also increased the “drama” a little, to produce the image on the left.

In my last blog entry,  I griped about people “borrowing” some of my images from facebook and uploading them as their own, so you will see that I am experimenting with watermarking my finished pieces that are posted here on my art blog.  Should someone wish to purchase the image, the original of course does not have the watermark.  I am using the iPhone app Impression for simple watermarking.

Final Image

Original Image


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Getting My Work Pinched on Facebook

I know I really need to watermark my photography and art that I am posting on the internet, even including work posted here on my blog.  I was reminded of that last week when graphic artist and printer Alison Bailey, of ABC Creations, warned us about internet theft of our art.    She was the guest speaker at a Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County luncheon.  She showed us the excellent quality of reproductions she was able to produce using images posted by local artists on their websites.

A myriad of software is available to create watermarks, and I have purchased several applications, including an app for my iPhone, called Impression.  But I have been pretty lazy about watermarking, and have also become more prolific with uploading my photography, especially to Facebook.  So as my work gets “borrowed”, I am starting to learn my lesson.

Facebook provides a “sharing” tool whereby you can re-post someone else’s image while still giving them credit for their original.  And when you upload an image, Facebook asks you if the image belongs to you.  When someone downloads an image and then re-uploads it as their own, they are going beyond bad manners — they actually are violating copyright law.  All images remain the copyrighted property of the photographer, even if they are publicly displayed.

A watermark identifies my work as mine, via text written on the image, so that someone intent on “borrowing” it would have to do some editing in order to pass it off as their own.  Some artists plaster their watermark right through the center of the image, but that completely ruins the image for ordinary viewing as far as I am concerned.  I prefer a less obtrusive watermark on one of the corners of the image, even though it can more easily be edited out.  As an example, my sunset image at upper left is watermarked on the lower right corner of the image.  I don’t normally include the date or copyright symbol like I did here, but my practice of using one is still evolving.

Below you see an image I shot at a painting demonstration, which I posted on Facebook as a part of a series on the workshop.  And below that you see my same image posted on a local merchant’s Facebook page, appearing to be the property of the local merchant, having been downloaded and re-uploaded without giving me credit.  Facebook’s simple “share” function would have left my name attached, as it should be.  It actually is a little more work to download and then re-upload a photo than it is to simply “share” it, so it is pretty obvious that it is intentional when someone does this.  If I give an image away, that is my choice, but if someone “borrows” it without my permission, especially when they are using it to promote their merchandise, then it is theft.  A merchant pays the photographer when photos are used for marketing purposes.  Then the image belongs to the merchant.  Without compensation, the photographer or artist’s name must remain associated with the photograph or art on Facebook, which by definition is a social (sharing) network.  As a point of clarification, my website is not social media, so art and photography posted on my website is not permitted to be reproduced or re-posted without my express permission.

My name attached to my work is my own advertising.  So yes, I am learning my lesson, that I need to watermark my photography.



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After a Month Away, Returning to Figure Drawing

It was exhilarating, returning to figure drawing after more than a month.  Colleen Duffley, owner of Studio b, has been in Italy and other exotic places fulfilling her professional photography obligations.

I too have been elsewhere, as my last blog post indicated, including two weeks in British Columbia.  So getting out the chalk and paper and easel and coming back to the Studio was like the proverbial oasis in the desert!

I wasn’t too rusty, considering how long it had been, because I had been keeping up with my daily doodling, but more than that, I think what helped me stay in tune was my continuous practice of photography, which is a great tool for maintaining my “eye” and my feeling for composition.

The model this week had amazing turquoise hair,  and it demanded to be noticed.  As it happens, I have a number of sticks of Nupastel of that exact color, which I had bought expecting eventually to use in background imagery with the colors of the Gulf of Mexico here in Northwest Florida where I live.  The Gulf is an impossible blue-green, which looks unbelievable whenever I have used that color in my art, but which is absolutely correct for the color of the model’s hair.

Most of my images are available for purchase.  Contact me if you are interested. — Joan Vienot

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iPhoneography – Everyone Can Do It

A professional photographer composes and controls his or her image.  The styling, positioning, and lighting are planned to the nth degree.  But today, almost everyone can be a photographer, capturing those elusive moments in time without necessarily planning any part of of the photo.

If you have a cell phone today, then chances are it has a camera.  I’d like to encourage you to use it, and not merely to record events as cameras traditionally have been used, but also to start documenting visual imagery that you find interesting.  There is probably no better way to become more aware of our visual world than by capturing bits and pieces of it, and nothing is more immediate than a camera image.  Much of what becomes your camera sense simply starts out as what you feel comfortable with, whether capturing elements of design – line, shape, size, position, color, texture, density – or elements of composition – balance, rhythm, and harmony.  As for me, my sense of composition is somewhat instinctive, not something I can put words to, so that my photographic decisions are mostly about positioning myself so that light hits the subject in an interesting way.  Certainly, I know about the rule of thirds, and a few other compositional tricks, but in a complex composition such as the one pictured here, the rules of what not to do probably outweigh the rules of what to do.

To enhance the dramatic lighting and create a vintage effect, I used an app called Hipstamatic, with my favorite lens, Roboto Glitter, on Float film.  The result is a mostly dark image with overexposed whites tending towards yellow, anda few turquoise highlights.  The border is black.  In an image with more light, the edges of this film would look spotty, sort of mildewed.

I watermarked this image with my website name, in the lower right corner, and probably should do that more often, particularly when I post something on social media.  Facebook makes it very easy for someone to download an image onto his own computer, and then re-upload it, which then drops the attribution to the original photographer.  If people simply “share” the image, the photographer’s name remains on the image information, but if downloaded and re-uploaded, the attribution is lost.  This particularly offends me when someone uses one of my images on their own website.  I post a lot of paddling photography, and tag many standup paddleboarders, so they might have their website developer use one of my images of them racing or doing some activity on a paddleboard.  I don’t think people realize that images are copyrighted from the moment they are made, and that you cannot use an image without permission.  If asked, I always have given permission for my photography to be used on someone’s website, but I ask the person to give me written credit.  I have given only two of my best friends cart blanche permission to use my images with or without attribution.

A good photographer makes a shot look spontaneous and easy, but even if posted on social media, that doesn’t mean the image is public and free for the taking.

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Vacation Trekking in Peru

I hiked the Salkantay Trail and part of the Inca Trail to Macchu Picchu in Peru last week, 9/14 – 9/24/2010, with a group sponsored by REI Adventures partnering with Mountain Lodges of Peru.  I had debated whether to take any books for reading, or just my sketchbook and camera.  As it turned out, I had no time for reading, and hardly any time for sketching, because we spent so much time and energy hiking.  Any down-time was consumed by rehydrating and recovering.  I did get 3 hours to sketch in Machu Picchu Sanctuary on my last day there.

The friend who was coming with me on this trip had to cancel, so I was with people I didn’t know, but we all became friends.  The group consisted of an incredible guide, Dalmiro Portillo Esquivel, and 9 people in addition to myself, ranging in age from 30 to 74 years old.  All were well prepared, physically, and we all were well-motivated.  Several other members of the group also were taking photographs,  all of us being amateurs, but some with technical training.  I myself have essentially no technical training in photography, trusting my instinct for composition and letting the automatic point-and-shoot camera do the rest.  For the most part, I just take advantage of time, place, and light with the subjects I happen upon.

These are my sketches and a few of my photographs.  Later I may put all of my vacation photos together in a photo-journal of sorts.

The Salkantay Trail

Andes Snowcap


Pretty Flowers Everywhere

Huamantay Glacier

Huamantay Glacier Cornice

Weaver, a beneficiary of, the educational arm of Mountain Lodges of Peru


Farmer at Home

Intihuatana Pyramid at Machu Picchu

Two Wayronas and the Unfinished Temple at Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu Structures