Lights, Camera … Subject?

I bought a photography table tent a few weeks ago and a pair of tabletop LED lights to use with it. The lights were very inexpensive so I didn’t expect very much from them, but they produce quite a bit of light and are small and easy to use. The lights came with blue and yellow plastic filters that fit over the light, but let’s face it, I’m never satisfied with just two colors of art supplies! Are you?

So immediately I went looking online to see what else I could find — never mind the fact that I have no immediate use for these things. The filter gels, which is what they’re called, averaged about $12 for a sheet, but my lights are very small and I don’t have a need for a large square filter. I found a Roscolux sample book and ordered that. If I could cut out one of the samples and fit it over my lights, that would be great, but if not then at least I would have actual samples of the gel colors. Then, if I want to buy larger sheets later on, I’ll know what colors to order.

I’ve done traditional photography and darkroom work, so filters are nothing new to me. I still have a collection of Cokin and Tiffin filters that I use occasionally (hey, not everything has to be Photoshop!) but they won’t fit my new lights without being cut down and I don’t want to ruin them. So, here are some photos of my lighting adventure.

Here is the LED lamp. There is a gap between the white bulb and the black lamp housing, which is a bit difficult to see in this photo. The bulb I want to cover with the filter is just over an inch and a half wide. You can see the blue and yellow plastic filters that came with the lamps in the background, and that black ring top right (also shown below) is what screws over the lamp to hold the filters in place.


And this is a close-up of the ring for the housing. I really only need to cover the opening with any new filter or gel that I use, although the lamp housing will accommodate something up to about 2 inches.

Here’s the yellow plastic filter that came with the lamps. It measures about 2 inches across so it’s wider than the opening in the housing ring. I cut one of the Roscolux samples out of the book (actually not the whole piece, but about three-quarters of it) and placed it over the yellow plastic filter to compare sizes. I marked where the gel was too large and cut off the corners (not shown) so it would fit the lamp housing.


Well, it’s close! The red Roscolux sample gel is narrower than the yellow plastic filter, and here’s what it looks like when the lamp housing is assembled with the gel in place. Although the red gel doesn’t entirely fill the space inside the ring, crucially, all of the LEDs are covered. When I tried the lamp, it worked wonders. The white photography tent lit up like some demonic Halloween world, blood red and spooky and very, very bright. And that was with only one colored lamp!

So, it’s possible for me to use my samples for some actual photography, although I’ll need a second sample book to cover both lamps. If I buy larger photo lights I will need to purchase entire gel sheets, but for now, this is fine for experiments. I have my lights, and my camera. But now, I just need a good subject …

Traveler Art

One of my attempts at collage, this piece includes preprinted elements, brads, and wings made with a stencil and stucco acrylic medium.

I’ve been in the mood to do some artwork recently. I signed up for a Craftsy class on working with colored pencils and so now — you guessed it — I have even more art supplies on my desk than I did before I started watching the course. But honestly, is there such a thing as too many pens or pencils? I’ll only consider it to be a waste of money if I put the pencils away without using them.

And I haven’t used them much so far, but I am pulling out papers and other art supplies and creating something. I’ve done a few minor sketches with the pencils but nothing that I want to share. This small piece was done on a 4- by 6-inch card. I sprayed the card with Ranger’s Distressed stain in Tumbled Glass but it beaded up on the surface, so I blotted it with a paper towel. That left behind the impression of the paper towel, so I rubbed at the card until that design was gone and ended up with a nice mottled background. For the edges of the card I just dabbed at the paper with an ink pad.

The wings were done with a stencil and Liquitex ceramic stucco acrylic gel, which I later drew on with a pencil to give them a bit more definition. The color of the stucco blended in too much with the background and I thought it needed a bit more of a distressed look to carry through with the rest of the design.

I’m continuing to work on writing projects but I think there’s a fair amount of burn-out going on. I’m hoping the art projects will help keep me moving forward with a little bit of creative cross-training.

Writing Goals and Refilling the Well

I’m sadly behind in my writing goals, but I’m not really surprised since I set the bar so high for myself. At this point I’m about 5900 words behind schedule. The problem with falling behind goals is that you get to a point where you just want to give up on the goal instead of doubling down and trying harder to get the work done. For me, a lot of the nonfiction articles I write require a lot of research and that takes time, but I can’t justify counting that toward my writing goals. Instead, I create a rough draft of the article and count those words, then when I revise it’s just a matter of calculating my editing time as an equivalent word-count, which admittedly is a bit tricky to do.

The best course of action is to get back on track with my average daily writing goal. I’m only counting five days a week for that because I’ve found that it is unrealistic if I expect to write every day. Sometimes I just need to get away from the keyboard. I work full time and spending fourteen hours a day sitting here and being productive is just not going to happen.

I spent some time this weekend indulging in what Julia Cameron calls “filling the well.” That’s basically recharging your artistic batteries by doing something different and not beating yourself over the head for not getting your entire NaNoWriMo word count done in one afternoon. I’ve signed up for a Craftsy course on working with colored pencils and right now fighting the urge to buy excessively large collections of colored pencils just because — Oooh! All the colors! I have colored pencils but of course I want different ones, because as it turns out there is a difference between them. There are wax-based and oil-based pencils, and the oil-based ones are much smoother and have more pigment so they are a higher-quality artist tool than the cheap ones you get at the local mega-mart.

My writing goals this week are to finish revising and editing a bio for an encyclopedia and start working on a presentation that I’m giving the beginning of April. I’ll probably spend time trawling my notes so it may not be much actual writing for that, but I also have been putting off doing the final revision of my novel as other projects have just swept it off my desk. Time to pull it out and get started, I think.

And one more thing: my backspace key just fell off my keyboard, so I have to type perfectly! Have a productive writing week, and may all your words be typo free.

 

A Busy Spring

I’m behind in my ambitious writing goal for the year, which is no huge surprise given that I set the bar very high at 240,000 words. I’m counting editing and revision at 750 words an hour, which is three-quarters of what the NaNoWriMo site recommends, but it jives with the amount of work I usually get done in an hour when I edit/revise my work.

It’s a busy spring for me so far. I have nine writing-related projects on my desk this quarter, including encyclopedia articles on the Scott Antarctic Expedition and the Indian Howdah for ABC-Clio’s The British Empire: A Historical Encyclopedia; a biography and a cultural and historical context article on Ray Bradbury for Salem Press’s Critical Insights: Ray Bradbury encyclopedia; my first draft for Corrugated Sky’s second anthology.

I’m also going to present a paper at the Mid-Atlantic Conference on British Studies annual meeting, which is coming up the beginning of April, so I need to delve back into my research for that. Which brings me to another project, which is turning my master’s thesis (about 100 pages) into a full-length book. But for that, I need a lot more research, so it’s a time-intensive project.

And the last two items on my list (so far this year) are my novel, Seacombe Island, and a book on writer’s prompts. I’ve spent quite a bit of time organizing my calendar and to-do list so I’m not having all the deadlines at once, but it means working ahead and I find that soft deadlines (ones I impose on myself) are easier to let slide by than hard deadlines (drop-dead dates, or dates imposed by the publisher). I pride myself on not missing hard deadlines, although I’ve had to ask for two- or three-day extensions in the past when an article has proven to be troublesome, or when holidays muck up my scheduling.

And so I’m avoiding working on articles right now by, well, writing about my writing. I guess that counts as words toward my yearly goal, so I’ll gloat on that for a moment and then clear my desk and get cracking on today’s list of things to work on.