Mike Donovan Photography: Blog https://www.mikedonovanphotography.com/blog en-us Michael E Donovan [email protected] (Mike Donovan Photography) Thu, 09 Jun 2022 21:23:00 GMT Thu, 09 Jun 2022 21:23:00 GMT https://www.mikedonovanphotography.com/img/s/v-12/u214905240-o216197980-50.jpg Mike Donovan Photography: Blog https://www.mikedonovanphotography.com/blog 120 90 Fall Shows https://www.mikedonovanphotography.com/blog/2022/6/fall-shows Hello All,

  My spring shows are over and the next ones will be in the fall.  I will be at Fort Hunter Day on Sunday, Sept. 18.  That is right by the Susquehanna River north of Harrisburg.  On Saturday, September 24, I will be at the Carlisle Harvest of the Arts and my booth is usually in front of the theater.  On November 5 I will be at Carlisle High School for a show and also in Carlisle (Expo Center) on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  That will do it for this year.  Many thanks to those who support my photography.  It is truly appreciated.



[email protected] (Mike Donovan Photography) https://www.mikedonovanphotography.com/blog/2022/6/fall-shows Thu, 09 Jun 2022 21:23:17 GMT
Upcoming Shows https://www.mikedonovanphotography.com/blog/2021/9/upcoming-shows Hello All,

  I have decided to do two outdoor shows this fall and, if Covid allows, one indoor show in November.  I will be at Fort Hunter Day at the Fort Hunter Mansion and Grounds.  The Arts and Crafts section will be on the river side of the park.  I will also be at Carlisle Harvest of the Arts.  Fort Hunter Day is on September 19 (Sunday) and the Carlisle show will be on the following Saturday (September 25).  I will be masked but hopefully, you will recognize me anyway.  lol

The indoor show will be at Carlisle High School in November so I will post that later when I am sure they will be able to have it.  I hope you all are staying safe and I hope to see you at one of the shows.




[email protected] (Mike Donovan Photography) https://www.mikedonovanphotography.com/blog/2021/9/upcoming-shows Fri, 10 Sep 2021 15:44:25 GMT
Seeing Changes https://www.mikedonovanphotography.com/blog/2020/5/seeing-changes I am in the process of scanning my slides (slides?  They must be old) and I am learning some things.  First of all, I am not sure what I think about what I am seeing.  I think I see the beginnings of my style or at least my interests.  I can see that I knew little or nothing about composition, light, exposure, well, in a nutshell, I knew little or nothing about photography.  Once in a while, I come across an image that makes me smile because I can see the beginnings of something.  It must have been luck or maybe something lying in wait.  I have thousands of slides to scan which tells me that I didn't give up.  Not very many of them are useful for printing, but they are useful to see how I have (hopefully) made progress in my use of color, composition, and the other factors that I can now use to convey an emotion or thought or just something I like through a photograph. 

These old slides are also reminding me of some really good times.  I can tell that I was enjoying the effort to make some sort of art.  The photographs are of things in which I still have an interest.  That must mean that even back then I knew what I liked.  At least I hope so. 

My newer photographs are sort of like the old ones only with some experience, knowledge, new equipment, and the same enjoyment behind them.  If you are struggling with your art, hang in there.  We may never become famous or rich, but learning to create art is one of the greatest pleasures of creating art.  Work your way toward how you want your art to look or what you want it to say.  Knowledge is power.  Sorry, I couldn't help it.

[email protected] (Mike Donovan Photography) https://www.mikedonovanphotography.com/blog/2020/5/seeing-changes Thu, 28 May 2020 14:38:56 GMT
Virus and the Arts https://www.mikedonovanphotography.com/blog/2020/5/virus-and-the-arts Hello All,

  As you can imagine, all shows have been wiped out this spring.  I have been accepted into the Carlisle Fall Harvest of the Arts late in September, but who knows if that will happen.  Fort Hunter Day is also in September so we'll see what happens.  I have also been accepted into a Christmas show at Carlisle High School in November.  I am not really counting on any of it.  Those, of course, are small concerns during this unsettled time.  I have used this time at home to finally update this website and plan (fingers crossed) to try to be more vigilant with it.  It has taken weeks to get everything in order and edited and uploaded.  I am sure I have made an error somewhere so feel free to let me know what is spelled wrong or if anything is upside down.  Fresh eyes always help.  Well, I hope you are all staying safe and well.  I hope to blog again soon.

[email protected] (Mike Donovan Photography) https://www.mikedonovanphotography.com/blog/2020/5/virus-and-the-arts Thu, 21 May 2020 23:22:04 GMT
It's About Time https://www.mikedonovanphotography.com/blog/2015/12/its-about-time Well, it is about time.  Finally, I have a bit more to say.  I am in the midst of printing for a membership show for the Harrisburg Art Association.  The show is called Figuratively Speaking.  The main subject is to be the human figure.  Figure shows generally feature a number of nudes.  I am going entirely in the other direction.  My entries will be a guitar playing singer and a skateboarder with quite a collection of tatoos.  They are about as far away from nudes as one can get.  However, I am using this show for another reason.  The singer shot was processed with the express purpose of relating the feel and the vibe of the music and his show.  It is not really sharp like many of my photographs.  The light is quite unusual because it was outside and at night.  His face barely shows.  My usual work is quite straight forward, but I am trying to venture into the realm of a bit more art and a bit less document.  I am trying to tell more of a story with the photographs.

The skater is sitting on the sidewalk with other people behind him.  You can see a skateboard and a bike wheel also on the sidewalk.  He is, however the main center of attention, along with his tatoos.  This photo is sharper than the other since the tatoos are what I really want to show.  It is processed in a gritty style to match the scene.  I am hoping the scene reflects him and his world.  I want to tell a bit of his story.

Art is made to communicate.  You might scratch your head.  You might wonder what happened to all the sunsets.  You might think, the art world has gone off its rocker.  The artist does what he needs to in order to make a point.  I am just dipping my toe into that water.  The abstract emotions collection, the lonely carnival collection, and the hood ornaments collection are my first tenative steps into the communications world.  I am still photographing birds, the moon, sunsets, and landscapes, but it is also time for an opposing side to tell some stories.


[email protected] (Mike Donovan Photography) Mike Donovan art blog communications figures photographs photography https://www.mikedonovanphotography.com/blog/2015/12/its-about-time Tue, 01 Dec 2015 19:24:16 GMT
Seeing what's not there? https://www.mikedonovanphotography.com/blog/2015/2/seeing-whats-not-there Ah yes, it has been a while since I last put keys to screen.  I am taking a break from mat cutting, cleaning glass, and putting together metal frames.  I am preparing for a show in the New Cumberland Library for the month of April.  I will have to have between 25-40 framed prints ready to hang.  I will also need to write a bio, artist's statement, and make a poster announcing that my photographs are hanging upstairs.  I also will have a small display case in the downstairs.  I will be putting some pinhole cameras, a camera obscura, and some prints that i made with them in the display case.  I hate this weather but it is allowing me to be ready for the show.  There are many steps involved.

First, I need to choose the shots.  I am going to go with a few groups;  pinhole shots, black and white of the area, some from Australia, some kitchen tools, etc.  So I needed to go into each area and make choices.  They have to stand on their own and make a cohesive unit.  Once they are done, I need to have them printed.  Usually I print my own stuff, but this is a big job so I sent it out.  I ended up reprinting some of them to my own liking anyway.  

Next, I need to decide a mat and frame that would compliment each set.  I am going simple with off white mats and brown or black framing.  There will be a few silver because of the image.  I am now in the process of putting the mats together.  When I finish this blog, I am off to get the glass.  Then I will need to put everything together.

The point of this blog is to say that I have looked at these images too many times.  They are losing their impact with me.  I see only paper that is too thin, or a dust speck inside the glass, or a bit of an over cut on the mat.  It is easy to lose sight of the impact of the image.  Too much study is not a good thing.  I will be glad to get in the car and go for the glass.  When I return, the images might reveal the message that made me choose them in the first place.  I will try to stop looking for the weaknesses that might not even be there.  

I will hope to do what I want others to do.  Enjoy the work.  It is time to back off a bit and look at the images that I have chosen and commit to them and enjoy them.

[email protected] (Mike Donovan Photography) https://www.mikedonovanphotography.com/blog/2015/2/seeing-whats-not-there Thu, 26 Feb 2015 15:09:16 GMT
Photographs as Memories https://www.mikedonovanphotography.com/blog/2014/11/photographs-as-memories I have been spending quite a bit of time in the last few months going through the photographs that we took on a recent (June-July, 2014) trip to Australia.  It takes a while to go through 8,000 images and some videos as well.  The first step was to cull out the ones that I don't really need to see again.  They may have bad exposure or bad focus or someone who walked into the frame.  There are many ways for something to go wrong. After making the first cut, I then chose some to be shared on Facebook with friends.  The next step was to choose shots that were representative of each of our stops and make portfolios out of those.  I will also be printing some to use in shows next year as well as putting some on this website.  The final step will be to choose the shots I want to use in a book that I am going to self publish.

The beauty of going through all these shots is that I get to take the trip all over again.  I spend time laughing, looking in wonder, remembering, and missing the country and our friends that we visited.  Going through the photographs brought back such great memories.  Having them is like having slices of time in my computer.  At the time, I tried to strike a balance between taking photographs and looking without the camera.  I usually would look and try to burn it into my mind, then get the shot.  Later, the computer would help me make it look the way I wanted it to look.  It is one of my great joys in travel to know that I will have images of my memories.  Taking photographs is really fun and later, it reveals what I thought was important or beautiful about wherever I was visiting.  

In this day and age, photo albums are a bit like the Model T.  They were really cool, but they are a bit faded now.  I have stored every single frame that I took on our trip in digital form.  Some of them I will never look at, but it makes me feel good that the entire trip as I saw it still exists.  Native Americans have a saying that you can never step into the same river twice.  Everything that I photographed on that trip is changed in some way or another.  I, however, have our trip frozen and it will always be there for me to see.  Get those photo albums out and take a look.  Take a moment and savor your pictures from long ago trips.  Take a look at family albums.  It may bring back some bittersweet memories, but there is some sort of peace in knowing that you still have something in your hand that is an important part of your life.  And you always will.

[email protected] (Mike Donovan Photography) Australia Mike Donovan blog memories photo albums photographs photography travel https://www.mikedonovanphotography.com/blog/2014/11/photographs-as-memories Mon, 01 Dec 2014 02:38:09 GMT
Symbols of Speed https://www.mikedonovanphotography.com/blog/2014/10/symbols-of-speed I recently went to the Hershey Antique Auto Show.  I am told it is one of the largest in the world, if not the largest.  There were all kinds of tools, parts, mirrors, lights, tires, etc.  There was just about anything for any car.  I took a camera with me, of course, to see if there would be anything interesting.  I finally ended up concentration on the cars themselves and especially the hood ornaments.  I loved the symbolism in the ornaments.  They wanted to demonstrate the speed, power, and strength of the cars they were ornamenting.  

I loved the smooth lines of the ornaments.  They had such fluid shapes and clean lines.  The whole point was to show the wind slicing power of the vehicle.  Now, you may think it was strange that I would be at this huge show and concentrate on something as small as the hood ornaments.  In fact, it wasn't the ornaments themselves, it was their shapes and lines.  I even took color out of the equation by editing them in black and white to emphasize shapes rather than color.  

The point is that there are times when the subject matter is secondary to the line, shape, and even color of the object.  Of course, don't forget about the light.  That is paramount.  It was a cloudy day when I was at the show, but that was perfect.  I had no concerns about the strong contrast that sunlight can bring.  It made the exposures easier and it didn't produce reflections of the sunlight on the chrome and the paint.  So even thought the light wasn't bright, it was perfect.  

I truly enjoyed looking at all the ornaments.  It gave me a focus (ha ha) in the huge mass of antiqueness.  It gave me a series and some work on my black and white processing.  I always need to keep my eyes open.

[email protected] (Mike Donovan Photography) antique cars automobiles black and white cars hood ornaments light https://www.mikedonovanphotography.com/blog/2014/10/symbols-of-speed Tue, 14 Oct 2014 23:04:09 GMT
Light in Australia https://www.mikedonovanphotography.com/blog/2014/9/light-in-australia Hi all,

  Kelly and I have returned from an extended stay in Australia and a week in New Zealand.  I was impressed by quite a few things on our trip.  The gum trees, especially the ghost gums, were beautiful.  The landscape ranged from mountains to desert.  It included the bush and the beach.  The oceans (Pacific and Indian) were beautiful and the color of the water was spectacular.

  The single most impressive object was Uluru (formerly called Ayers Rock).  It was a huge, and I do mean huge, rock in the middle of the desert.  It was a 6 mile walk around the base.  The sunsets were spectacular there as was the night sky.  

The city of Sydney was wonderful as are the people of Australia.  However, as a photographer, one thing stood out above all.  And that is the light, especially the evening light of Australia.  It was golden.  It was like some sort of golden maple syrup was poured over everything.  I am told that the ozone layer above Australia is gone so maybe that has something to do with it.  It also, I am told, is so rich because of Australia's distance from the equator.  Whatever the reason, it was beautiful.

Ok, you may ask.  Where are the pictures of this wonderful light?  Well, I have been putting some on my personal facebook account so if you are on facebook, you can see them there.  The problem is that I took about 7800 images.  And that doesn't count the videos.  I am working on them day by day.  I have the first cut done and am choosing through the second culling.  The work only begins when you take the shot.

The trip reminded me that photography is about line, shape, color, and form.  However, above all, it is about light.  Good light can turn a good composition into a great image.  It can be the subject of the shot.  It can bring life to textures and depth to your image.  The light is the thing.  Look for light and use it to say what you want to say.

I will continue to work on choosing shots and editing them.  This all takes time, but be assured, I will have a set of shots from Australia when I have chosen a manageable amount.  Until then, look at the light.

[email protected] (Mike Donovan Photography) Australia Mike Donovan blog light photography https://www.mikedonovanphotography.com/blog/2014/9/light-in-australia Tue, 23 Sep 2014 00:51:17 GMT
A Big Problem https://www.mikedonovanphotography.com/blog/2014/3/a-big-problem Hello,

  I recently went to a weekend photography workshop in Wilmington, Delaware.  I took classes in black and white darkroom (digital), choosing paper for the image, street photography, image editing, and a few others.  As I sat there and tried to take it all in, I began to recognize a big problem.  In photography, as in many things in life, the more you know, the more there is to know.  

  I felt like there is no way that I can use all the knowledge that i gained over the weekend.  That is because the knowledge I gained over the weekend opened more doors to more hallways to more . . . well, you get the idea.  I have recently been using the pinhole camera and the class on black and white image editing made me want to start all over again with the editing of the pinholes.  And I just might do that.  

There was a class on using a scanner in place of a camera.  Now I have to give that a try.  It does work for certain things.  I, like all of us, would like more time to give this stuff a try.  Time is fleeting and the time to give it a shot is now.  I have made two images with my scanner and I have reworked some of my black and white stuff.  

I guess the secret that no one can do it all.  The idea is to do as much as possible and use the skills that you have been able to develop.  I suppose the idea is to choose the skills or techniques that lend themselves to what I want to say or share with my photography.  I will need time to figure that out.  

[email protected] (Mike Donovan Photography) Mike Donovan antique blog camera photographs photography pinhole https://www.mikedonovanphotography.com/blog/2014/3/a-big-problem Fri, 07 Mar 2014 17:56:27 GMT
Pinhole Photography https://www.mikedonovanphotography.com/blog/2014/1/pinhole-photography I recently purchased two new cameras.  They have no lenses.  They have no shutter release.  They have no viewfinder.  They have no batteries.  In fact, they are not much more than a wooden box with a tiny hole in the front.  They are pinhole cameras.  I purchased one from a company called ZeroImage and the other from a new startup called Ondu.  Both cameras are crafted of wood and are beautiful in their own right.   Both are film cameras and use 120 film, which is also called medium format.  I have shot 4 rolls in a field near my home and the results are now on the website.  Take a look.

I have decided to try pinhole work for a few reasons.  One is that it forces me to work much more slowly.  Since there is no viewfinder, I must estimate what will be seen on the image.  I have a handheld viewfinder that came with one of the cameras, but it is strictly guesswork.  The lack of a viewfinder and the small number of negatives on a roll of film also makes me look thoroughly at my surroundings before committing to the shot.   It also forces me to pay more attention to the light so that I can get a proper exposure.  Most are 2 seconds or more.  It makes me think back to the sunny 16 rule.  I had also forgotten the thrill (or disappointment) of sitting in the car outside the camera shop staring at negatives with the windshield of the car as my lightbox.  


I also love the look of the pinhole image.  It is much softer than a standard photograph.  It looks a bit like some of the work done in the early days of photography.  The tones and/or colors are much softer as is the overall feel of the image.  I am thinking that the first comment will be that I don't know how to focus a camera.  It is true, I don't know how to focus a pinhole camera.  It can't be done.  What I get is what I get.  Maybe it is the unreliability that makes it fun.  Please take a look at the pinhole gallery and see if you like the look and feel of an antique method of getting an image.  

I am going to continue to practice and hopefully will improve.  I think pinhole photography would be great on some of the older buildings in the area.  When it warms up a bit, I am going to see what else I can do with the pinhole.  If you wish, let me know what you think. 

[email protected] (Mike Donovan Photography) Mike Donovan antique black and white monochrome photograph photography pinhole pinhole photography vintage https://www.mikedonovanphotography.com/blog/2014/1/pinhole-photography Fri, 24 Jan 2014 02:30:01 GMT
Videre https://www.mikedonovanphotography.com/blog/2013/11/videre I recently supported a project on Kickstarter called Videre.  It consisted of the conception and creation of a pinhole camera for 120 film.  It is made of cardboard and comes on two flat sheets.  My job was to punch out the shapes and put the thing together.  I have quite a few hours into the construction of the camera, but I finally got it finished and loaded with film.  Yes, film.  I have not yet taken any pictures with it, but it certainly made me think of what cameras once were and what they now are.

A pinhole camera is just what it says.  It is a box in which film is loaded and the photograph is taken through a pinhole in the side of the box.  They can also be made from oatmeal tubes or, really, any kind of light tight box.  The first photograph was actually taken in a room with a hole in the wall.  The whole room was the camera, so the pinhole camera is just a very small version of that.  It uses film so you must get it developed (or do it yourself), scan a negative, and start to work with the image.  Or just let it as is.  The beauty of pinhole photography is that you can never be quite sure of what you are going to get.  There is a sort of excitement that looking at the screen at the back of my digital camera can't quite match.  The other thing, and perhaps more important, is that it makes me slow down.  Each roll of film has a limited number of exposures.  I can't try 30 different things on the same scene.  I need to think it our carefully first.  Then hope I got it right. 

Working more slowly is something that is pretty foreign in the days of digital.  Way back when, there was no choice but to work slowly.  The exposures were very long and it was all guesswork before light meters.  Exposures could be measured in minutes or even hours at times.  S L O W   It meant taking the time to decide what was really worth all the work of photographing it.  Then getting it right.

Cameras now get it right for us.  They expose the light really well.  They focus automatically.  They advance to the next shot with lightning speed.  We change lenses, ISO, or exposure compensation any time we want.  We don't have to wait until the next roll of film to change speeds.  Cameras now are truly incredible and will get to be even more amazing.  However, one thing has not changed from the pinhole camera to the most awesome digital camera.  And that is that someone has to take the picture.  You and I need to look and choose what is worth our time.  We need to see what is around us so we know what to include in the photographic message we hope to convey.  We need to see, think, and decide.  That will never change.


[email protected] (Mike Donovan Photography) Donovan Mike blog camera cameras photography pinhole https://www.mikedonovanphotography.com/blog/2013/11/videre Sun, 17 Nov 2013 01:04:40 GMT
The Finished Product https://www.mikedonovanphotography.com/blog/2013/10/the-finished-product I am finishing preparation for a show in the Oyster Mill Playhouse.  It will hang during a few weeks in November and consists of photographs of the American West.  It will hang in conjunction with the play Annie Get Your Gun.  As I was working, I began to think about all the steps involved in preparing a photograph in becoming the piece that I am satisfied to show.

I talked before about the actual taking of the photograph being the first step.  The photograph itself is full of potential.  It can become (hopefully) what I envisioned when I took it.  Of course, there are the steps of exposure, choosing a composition, focus, shutter speed, aperture, and all that goes into actually capturing the shot.  From that point on, the world is my oyster, as they say. 

My first steps are cropping, color correction, sharpening or smoothing, and all the things that lead to the vision I had in mind.  However, after that, there are some very important decisions to be made.  The choices are not finished.  Presentation is a truly important factor to which many of us do not give enough thought.  There many ways to present your work.  For this show, I have decided to present a consistent presentation, since the subject of each photograph is related.  I have matted the work in an off white (creme colored) mat.  I then framed each one in a brushed metal frame (bronze) so it would not look too shiny and new.  I decided against wood because I wanted all the attention on the actual photographs and the bronze metal is easier to keep looking nice.  It also makes each piece look a bit more classic with a small thin frame as an outside border.  Even though I have been doing this for quite a while, I am always amazed at how much better they looked under glass.

However, you don't need to present your work in frames.  You can mount your piece on wood or metal.  You can build a topic or theme into a book.  There are many online publishers that make great books.  I use blurb, but there are many.  You can print on canvas, matte, or glossy paper.  You can show them from a tablet or even a phone.  You can put a portfolio on CD or DVD.  You can use an old school portfolio book.  You have many presentation choices.

You can have your images printed on glass.  They can be printed on metallic paper.  They can be printed on actual metal sheets.  There are a million choices in this day and age.

After you take the photograph, the fun will continue.  Think about what you want to do with it.  Print it?  You have many options of paper and other materials on which to print.  A portfolio?  You can have a digital portfolio or an actual portfolio book.  A book?  You have a choice of many online publishers.  Mat and Frame it?  Mat colors abound and so do frame choices. 

Take the photograph.  Make it the best image that you can.  Then present in the way you think is best.  If your work is never seen, it has value only to you.  Share your vision.

[email protected] (Mike Donovan Photography) Mike Donovan blog photographs photography presentation presenting your work https://www.mikedonovanphotography.com/blog/2013/10/the-finished-product Sat, 19 Oct 2013 13:48:52 GMT
Eye Opener https://www.mikedonovanphotography.com/blog/2013/7/eye-opener I recently gave a talk on photographing things that are close to us.  Close in proximity and close emotionally.  I discussed how we take so many things for granted.  I showed photographs of kitchen utensils, articles of clothing (shoes, etc.) and some regular things (buttons).  I showed a photograph of 4 hats and coats hanging on hooks.  It was a tight shot showing the hats hanging above the coats.  Technically, it is not very good, but I tried to save it the best I could in post processing.  The reason I wanted to try to save it is because it is a photograph of my hat and coat with the hats and coats of three of my four living uncles.  The photograph is close to me emotionally.  I was wondering if anyone else could get anything from it, since they did not know the back story. 

  When you look at a piece of art and wonder why it was made.  Go to the internet or books or any library and find out.  Read about the artist and maybe you will get an idea of why it was made and why it looks the way it looks.  My uncles are in their 70's and the oldest is celebrating his 88th birthday.  That is why it is an important photograph even it isn't that great.

When I showed the photograph to the group of seniors (the talk was at a home for seniors), I was wondering if anyone was drawing on their life experiences to get anything out of it that I put in it.  A lady in the front row said, "That picture looks like a group of old friends.  It looks human."  I felt good.

[email protected] (Mike Donovan Photography) Mike Donovan blog photographs photography https://www.mikedonovanphotography.com/blog/2013/7/eye-opener Wed, 31 Jul 2013 14:05:19 GMT
How Does This Happen? https://www.mikedonovanphotography.com/blog/2013/6/how-does-this-happen I was thinking about Emily Dickinson, Eugene Atget, and Vincent van Gogh.  All three are truly celebrated as great artists.  All were unknown as artists during their own lifetimes.

Emily Dickinson wrote over 1800 hundred poems during her lifetime and less than a dozen were published.  The ones that were published were greatly altered by the publishers because they were so different.  Her poems, as originally written, were truly unique for their time.  She later became a recluse, but continued to write poetry and many, many letters.  She died in 1899.  She had instructed her sister to burn all her poetry.  As her sister burned them, she recognized the greatness of the work and saved the rest.  After they were published, the quality of the work slowly began to be recognized.  She is now known as a major American poet.  During her lifetime, she knew very little fame.  Her genius was not recognized until years later.

In the late 1800's and early 1900's Eugene Atget was actually selling his work.  He sold photographs of flowers and landscapes to other artists from which they made paintings.  However, at night, he documented old Paris.  He photographed lanes and stairways, stores and alleys.  He photographed misty nights and lonely streets.  During the last two years of his life, his Paris work was recognized by younger, cutting edge artists, but not by the general public.  He died as a relatively unknown photographer with a huge portfolio of wonderful photographs of old Paris.  An American photographer, Bernice Abbott championed his work, especially after his death.  He is now recognized as a pioneer in photography.  His genius was recognized mainly after his death.

Vincent van Gogh's life is known by many.  His art is known by millions of people.  Early in life, he struggled to find a calling.  His life was difficult and was beset by loneliness, poverty, depression, and mental illnesses.  His drawings and paintings were mainly ignored during his lifetime.  He sold very little work.  His paintings were usually considered crude and rough.  After he passed away, and time went on, his work was recognized as being groundbreaking.  It is considered by many as a pathway to modern art.  His paintings now cost millions of dollars.  His genius was recognized only after his death.

How does this  happen?  Are we afraid of something new?  Is art better if it looks like something we already know?  How can we grow as artists if we don't change?  Is the creative process reliant on history?   

When an artist is so far ahead of his or her own time, it sometimes takes years of growth for society to catch up with them.  It's a shame.

[email protected] (Mike Donovan Photography) https://www.mikedonovanphotography.com/blog/2013/6/how-does-this-happen Wed, 26 Jun 2013 01:46:11 GMT
Judge and Be Judged https://www.mikedonovanphotography.com/blog/2013/5/judge-and-be-judged Hello,

I was recently in two shows  where there were competitions and judging involved.  I judge for the Hershey Camera Club, the Harrisburg Camera Club and a few other organizations.  I tell the people whom I am judging that my remarks are those of one person.  I try to make remarks that are part of an opportunity to learn.  I also want it clear that it is my opinion.  Art deals in opinion.  I want them to know that showing their art to others is a bit like putting your soul out there, only without taking it personally.  It is like hitting a golf ball.  Once it leaves your club, there is nothing more that you can do.  Once your art is on display, there is nothing more that you can do.  It is a helpless and scary feeling.  You put it out there and hope for the best.  

How do I know this?  I had work judged over the weekend.  I did everything that I suggest that others not do.  I was nervous and felt like I had bared my soul for others to stare at.  I was a bit confused by some of the judge's remarks and choices.  I felt let down when I didn't win what I had hoped to.  I wanted to whine, but knew it would be bad form.   I had feelings that were best kept to myself.  

You might say that I did the very thing that I want others not to do when they are judged and you would be right.  No matter how many times we are told that our art looks good or looks bad, we can't separate ourselves from the art and it causes feelings to well up.  Good comments mean that our art is good, and the part of us that we are showing in our art is good.  Bad comments about our art, of course, show that the person knows not of what they speak.  Hopefully.   The point is that it is impossible to separate ourselves from our art because it is a part of us.  It reveals what we love, how we feel, how we look at things, and what we think is important.  If it sends that message, then it is good.  If someone else does not see it, either we need to make our art more clear, or they need to educate themselves about art and how it works.

The next time I stand in front of a group to judge their work.  I will try to remember how I felt when I did not win.  I will know that no matter how many times I ask them not to take it personally, it is impossible.  Our art is part of our soul.  That is why being judged is so hard. 

[email protected] (Mike Donovan Photography) https://www.mikedonovanphotography.com/blog/2013/5/judge-and-be-judged Sun, 19 May 2013 23:02:13 GMT
Black and White Photographs https://www.mikedonovanphotography.com/blog/2013/4/black-and-white-photographs Hi.  I have been working on a new project for the last few weeks and it is finally coming together.  I was contacted by a local property management firm who is redecorating their office.  I have been asked to provide 8 large black and white photographs of local historic and well known buildings and landmarks.  We discussed what they wanted and made a shot list of about 16 places.  Some of the shots will have more than one landmark in one shot, but that is ok.  I have been looking for unusual angles and spots.  

Part of the problem with a project like this is weather.  The weather here has been cold and cloudy.  Any day that has had sun, any kind of sun, in the forecast has seen me pack up the car and head out.  I divided the shots into morning and afternoon light shots.  Some, of course, have the best light in different parts of the day.   My favorite spot was a night shot of a movie theater that I used to frequent when I was a kid (and still do).  We used to go to Saturday matinees.  

This project has done some good things for me.  I have been able to look at familiar places with a new eye.  Part of it is because the photographs are to be in black and white.  That means I need to visualize in shades of gray.  I have also lugged my tripod around more than ever since the shots are to be larger than my usual work.    I am also doing everything in a file type called RAW which is becoming the standard for fine art photography.  My ISO has barely moved above 200.  I am also trying to use an aperture setting that will give me sharp shots.  Those things together, along with proper printing and paper choices, should produce the results that I (and the client) wants.  

Another reason this project is helpful is that it gives me some direction.  It has a starting point and I need to work within the confines of the project.  Many times it seems that we run out of ideas or hit a blank wall so to speak.  A project is a good way to break out of that.  

I have not yet presented the portfolio to them.  I am finishing the initial post processing.  Then I will take a CD of a few shots of each spot on the list over to the office for them to make the final choices.  When all is finished, I will be putting them on this website.  Stay tuned.  

[email protected] (Mike Donovan Photography) https://www.mikedonovanphotography.com/blog/2013/4/black-and-white-photographs Mon, 01 Apr 2013 23:58:24 GMT
Progress https://www.mikedonovanphotography.com/blog/2013/2/progress I am continuing to work on my abstract project.  I am trying to connect human traits (and/or emotions) with line, shape, and color.  I am not using any representational images.  I am trying to communicate through only the three mentioned compositional tools.  I don't want to be able to look at the images and say, "That is a wonderful lake or What a nice sunset".  Those things have their place and can create wonderful mood or feeling, but what I am trying to do is reveal a mood, not create one.  I am doing this by using something called a Buddha Board.  

A Buddha Board is a piece of material much like an old fashioned slate.  When I paint on it with water, it looks like it has been painted on with ink.  The lines then dry and fade away to nothing and you can start again.  It is a bit like an etch-a-sketch in that regard.  I am not touching the brush to the board.  I am creating patterns and lines by throwing water off the brush or off my fingers or anything I can think of.  Once I get a pattern that I want to use, I photograph the board.  Then the work begins.

I take the images of the board and put them through all kinds of photo manipulation using Photoshop, OnOne Software, and, occasionally, Lightroom.  I try to find an emotion or feeling and apply the colors that I think will help reveal that feeling.  The only limits are those set by the software.  Everything else is fair game.  I want the feeling of total freedom.

What will result will be a set of images that will reveal various aspects ourselves.  These will be images that will be called "modern art' or 'contemporary art" or "what the heck is that".  That is not my concern.  My concern is to stretch my ideas and abilities.  That is the whole point of this project. 

I will be putting the results on this site whenever the set is ready.  I hope they mean something.

[email protected] (Mike Donovan Photography) https://www.mikedonovanphotography.com/blog/2013/2/progress Fri, 22 Feb 2013 15:23:37 GMT
Kyle Thompson https://www.mikedonovanphotography.com/blog/2013/2/kyle-thompson I have been thinking lately about trying something totally different from my usual work.  I have started a series of abstracts that try to use line, shape, and color to reveal an emotion.  I have 4 completed and am planning to make a set of ten shots.  I have been thinking about the concept of photographing an idea rather than an object.  I have been following a project by a photographer named Kyle Thompson.  He is an amateur and has a 365 project going, of which he is nearing the end.  His style is the style of photograph that is not usually seen on the wall at a bank or a living room.  He is trying to reveal something about himself through his work.  

Sometimes we look at art and say, "I could have done that."  or "What is that supposed to be?"  Well, maybe it is supposed to evoke a feeling or an emotion.  Maybe its purpose is to make you ask questions about what the piece says or even why it is on the wall or who says that it is art.  

Take a look at the work of Kyle Thompson.  His project is on flickr.  He is doing with self portraits and scenes what I hope to do with line, shape, and color.






[email protected] (Mike Donovan Photography) https://www.mikedonovanphotography.com/blog/2013/2/kyle-thompson Fri, 01 Feb 2013 19:01:57 GMT
Saying Something https://www.mikedonovanphotography.com/blog/2013/1/saying-something I have recently begun to feel as though I am not really saying anything with my photography.  I am not sure about the line between art and something that looks nice.  Much of my work looks nice.  The question is . . .Is that enough?   I feel that I have somewhat of a mastery of composition, exposure, color, and the things that make a photography pleasing to look at.  Now that I have those tools at my disposal, what am I doing with them?  

I have been on a few photography trips that have expanded my horizons.  I recently went to an abandoned silk mill.  I tried to photograph the machinery and tools and the things that were left behind (nearly everything) in a way that lends dignity to the work that was done there.  I tried to make it look as though there is still pride and strength left there by the workers.  I also tried to make it look as though that may not have been enough.  The mill closed and there was much heartache and anger when that happened.  How is that to be captured by a photographer?  There was enough there to enable me to picture in my mind how it may have been at its heyday.  I am hoping that the images are more than images of machines and tools.  

I also recently photographed an abandoned carriage house near my home.  I am still working on those shots.  As I was there photographing, I was thinking of how I wanted it to look.  Secondarily, I thought about why I wanted it to look that way.  I think I was going in reverse.  I need to change gears more often and think about "why" first, then "how" next.

I have found that the further one's work goes from things that look nice to things that take a long step out, the audience for the work shrinks.  Sometimes, a photograph is taken because the shapes or colors themselves are trying to say something, rather than be a representation of an object.  

I know that sometimes a photograph is taken because it is going to look beautiful.  I also know that the world has some truly beautiful things in it and they are to be captured in a photograph.  I know that I can share my love of nature and form by taking photograph that relate to that love.

The essence of abstract art is to share a message through shape, line, color, and form.  I need to think about how I can expand my work to be something different.  I need to think about how to say more.



[email protected] (Mike Donovan Photography) https://www.mikedonovanphotography.com/blog/2013/1/saying-something Mon, 14 Jan 2013 18:09:39 GMT
Making An Image https://www.mikedonovanphotography.com/blog/2012/12/making-an-image I was loading some images into the 500px website and it got me thinking about what makes a good image that will catch the emotions of a viewer.  That got me thinking about the decisions that go into a photograph.  It really is amazing when you think about it.

The first decision is how you want the image to look and what you want it to say.  The first method for reaching that goal is the in camera cropping. What do you want to include and what to exclude.  I try to picture how it will look in a mat.  What information in the image is important and what is not.  Then the job is to try to frame the shot to get on the road to that goal.  

Next decision has to do with composition.  How will the composition help with what you want to say or show.  Do you need more sky or more water?  Do you want to have many flowers or just one?  Will it look better with the center of interest in a lower corner or an upper one?  Will the colors add to your goal or take away from it?  How do you want it balanced?

Then comes exposure.  Do you want the image to be a bit on the light side to make it look the way you want, or should you under expose a bit to saturate the colors and darken highlights and shadows?  Do you want the colors bright or muted or rich?  What you are trying to share with the picture will help guide you to the answers to these questions.

Do you want blur or sharpness?  Are you trying to show action or lines and shapes?  That will affect what settings you will be using to get the exposure that you want.  

Those decisions are why photographers take a multitude of shots of the same object, etc.  While there, it is best to try different settings so you have different styles of images to work with later.

Then, of course, when you get home you have decisions to make when processing the image.  Do you want it to look more vintage or bright and cheery?  Do you want to crop it differently?  Maybe you pictured it as a black and white image.  Those are all processing decisions to make which will help you achieve your goal with the photograph.

Finally, you are ready to print.  What paper to use?  What lab is the one that you like best?  If you print your own, should it be gloss or matte?  Maybe even watercolor paper.  All decisions to advance to the final goal of the image you pictured in your mind.  Or maybe you have veered from that and have something even better by this point.  

The ability to make all these decisions quickly and decisively are a big help to a photographer.  The more you can think about how the image will look and the less you have to think about which button to push to make it happen, the better off you will be.  That is why it is a must to know your camera.  

Now, imagine it is 1880 and you are using huge glass negatives, a gigantic camera, and your darkroom is pulled by horses.  That makes those old photographs even more impressive.  We have great advantages in the digital world, but it all comes down to making the decisions that will give you the image that you want to make.

[email protected] (Mike Donovan Photography) https://www.mikedonovanphotography.com/blog/2012/12/making-an-image Mon, 31 Dec 2012 17:29:31 GMT
Book https://www.mikedonovanphotography.com/blog/2012/12/book I just got 5 copies of the book I have been working on.  They arrived today from Blurb and I am happy with them.   It is a photo book of small side streets and alleys throughout Europe.  Most are cobblestone and very narrow.  You can picture it, I'm sure.  Everything even appears to be spelled correctly. 

I have also been working on the photographs from the trip to the abandoned silk mill.  I have 4 finished so far and I am happy with 3 of them.  There is a photograph of shoes that I just can't get the way I want it to be.  It was a difficult exposure situation, but I am trying to make it work.  I want the photographs to reveal that the place is abandoned, but also that it was a place where people did a hard day's work and that there is dignity in that.

  I also just took down a one man show at the Trinity Luthern Church in Camp Hill.  I got a sale from the show so that was great.  I am still humbled that someone would spend their hard earned money to have something of mine in their home. 

I have also finished our Christmas cards for this year.  We had a snow last week and I got the shot.  I really wasn't sure what I was going to do.  A snowy wreath always looks Christmasy.  It is even better when it looks nostalgic. 

I don't really know if anyone reads this or not, but I hope that you had a great Thanksgiving.

[email protected] (Mike Donovan Photography) https://www.mikedonovanphotography.com/blog/2012/12/book Sat, 01 Dec 2012 16:34:44 GMT
Silk Mill https://www.mikedonovanphotography.com/blog/2012/11/silk-mill Yesterday, I went to an abandoned silk mill in Maryland.  We spent 4 hours photographing.  I concentrated on the interior.  The mill was shut down in 1957 and the machinery, etc. that was in there in 1957 on the last day is still there.  The machinery stands much as it did when the workers were there.  As I tried to maneuver through the tight spaces between the rows of machines it brought to mind the many workers who toiled there.  The noise and heat must have been nearly unbearable.  There were sharp points and open gears.  At one time, our area did not have a good record as far as child labor goes.  I pictured the work of Lewis Hine who photographed children at work.  There seemed to be footsteps echoing throughout the mill.  I tried to photograph with art in mind, but I was also hoping to incorporate some humanity and respect for the people who worked there.  In the next few weeks, I hope to post some of the photographs on this website. 

[email protected] (Mike Donovan Photography) https://www.mikedonovanphotography.com/blog/2012/11/silk-mill Sat, 24 Nov 2012 15:31:00 GMT