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Model Kelly Knox is not just a pretty face

At first glance of many of her photos….

the beautiful Kelly Knox, a model based out of the UK, seems like just another stunning blonde bombshell. But, if you take a closer look, you’ll find that there is one big difference. Kelly has no left forearm!

She was born with this condition and as a child refused a prosthesis. Since that time on, she has never wore won.

In 2008, she won the BBC series “Britain’s Missing Top Model” and has been dominating the fashion scene ever since.

As a photographer who personally believes that models do not have to fit any specific cookie-cutter mold, and that beauty comes in many forms, I think she is an inspiration for both disabled and able-bodied people everywhere.

Kelly Knox

 

beautiful disabled model Kelly Knox

The artistic beauty of dance

I am a long time fan of the show Dancing With The Stars.

And while the series is known at times for having some silly and less than elegant elements, it has also had it’s share of truly amazing performances. Some of these have inspired visually, musically and even emotionally. Here are a few I saw last night that I simply felt compelled to share. The first is newly crowned Olympic Ice Dancing champion Meryl Davis and her notoriously suave partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy. It was dedicated to the journey to the gold medal she and her ice dancing partner Charlie White had been on for more than 17 years. This second video is of  Paralympic snowboarding star Amy Purdy and her choreographically gifted partner Derek Hough. This was dedicated to her father who played an incredible role in her recovery from an illness that cost the athlete her legs. Sit back, relax and take in another example of how art can inspire us all.

What inspires your artistic side?

The very nature of art is highly subjective…

and as such, there are quite a few things that artists and art enthusiasts alike do not necessarily agree on. However, there is one thing that most creative minded people probably accept as a practical truth – creativity requires inspiration.

Some people are inspired by nature, others by the human condition, still more by the words or wisdom of others. In fact, while inspiration is not always something that is easy to come by, there is no doubt that the possible sources of inspiration are endless.

My inspiration for my poetry books and artistic photography come from any number of places.

What inspires you?

artist inspiration

In my personal opinion, if my poetry, photography or other artistic pursuits actually turn out to be inspiration for other artists and their work, that’s one of the best feelings of all.

99 Inspirational Artistic Quotes

Beautiful views of interactive light show

My hometown of Pittsburgh has seen a lot of first…

and now for the second time in less than a year, this city has been the first in the nation to feature a new an innovative work of art.

The Market Square area of Downtown Pittsburgh has been the setting for a temporary installment of an interactive exhibit designed by two men from the United Kingdom, The creators are KMA visual media artists Kit Monkman and Tom Wexler.

Here’s how it works. Every night at dusk through 10 p.m. on weekdays and 12 a.m. on weekends, a projection unit with thermal heat detection comes on, plays music and produces a stunning light show based on the movement of the people in Market Square at the time. The piece will be in Pittsburgh until March 16.

Check out a few video samples below:

Things start off slowly at dusk.

After a few minutes, the show moves into full swing.

The show in full swing.

An artist’s defense of Goth and Rave subculutures

As a photographic artist

and creative personality in general, I have come to meet a lot of people. And I don’t mean just in passing. I mean I’ve made connections and learned to understand how people who may not necessarily look or act like your “typical” person can be truly amazing despite negativity or discrimination that is often sent their way.

While there are many subcultures out there, for the sake of brevity and getting straight to the point, I’m going to delve into two specifically – Goth and Rave, which can sometimes overlap somewhat.

Goth Subculture

Even today, in our increasingly less judgmental society, a lot of people associate Gothic culture and style with evil and just about anything that that term might bring to mind. The fact is that this notion is far from the truth. As a matter of fact, Goth’s are really just like everybody else when in many ways, not really differing from the general population. Sure, many of them tend to have an appreciation for some of the darker elements of life, but what’s so wrong with that? In fact, I tend to think knowing the darker things more intimately helps one to appreciate, love and greater respect the brighter side of life. Perhaps this is why some elements of the subculture mix bright, vivid colors into the stereotypical all black wardrobe. Ponder this fr a moment – The brightest Sunlight also produces the darkest shadows.

Rave Subculture

Sadly and mostly due to misleading media coverage, the rave scene is often looked upon as nothing more than a series of drug-filled and sexually promiscuous events. That’s like saying that every Italian is affiliated with the Mofia, it’s outlandish and over exaggerating. Did you realize that one of the major notions within the Rave culture is a the acronym PLUR which stands for Peace, Love, Unity and Respect? This simple yet profound concept is a far try from the mainstream media view and in fact is the type of attitude or approach to life that could very well help make this troubled world a better place.

The bottom line is that the old adage still holds true today. You should never judge a book by its cover.

goth and rave

A Few Tips For Photographing Food

Within the art of photography, there are many sub-categories.

Most of us can probably come up with some of the more common ones without giving it much thought – portraits, landscapes, wildlife… But one of the ones that has a huge industry onto itself that may not necessarily rank high on your list is food photography.

Think about it, many major restaurants, grocery stores and other similar businesses use images in their advertising. And just like is the case with any other form of photography, a well shot, well edited image is essential.

bad food phgotography

Example of bad food photography:

Notice how the color is bland, the image is washed out and it is actually quite hard to even know what the item may be.

good food photography

Example of bad food photography:

This image blurs out background distractions, features nice and even light and really captures the texture of the meal.

Here are a few tips that might just help anyone interested in delving into this sort of work.

1. Lighting and white balance

- Make sure you have an adequate amount of light for your shot but don’t do overboard. You don’t want to have hot spots in the image that can distract from the main focal point. Nor do you want to see harsh shadows.

2. Color and texture

- Do what you can to make the color as accurate and inciting as possible.  Same goes for texture. A few Photoshop tools that can help here are playing with the satiation and using the dodge and burn tools.

3. Remove distractions

- If there are any items near your image that might take away from the food itself, do what you can to remove them.

Good luck and have fun.

Amazing Photos from the Sochi Olympics

For almost the last two weeks…

like many people across this planet, I’ve be captivated by the spectacle that is the Olympics.

And as a photographer and artist at heart, I truly appreciate the artistry of athletics and the creative wonders such an amazing event can produce.

Given my appreciation for such things, I thought I would include some scenes that both chronicle and inspire.

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These first three photos where taken when workers at the Sochi games formed a giant heart on the halfpipe in honor of the late Sarah Burke, the woman who was instrumental in getting the event into the Olympic Games.

1

Canadian skier Alex Bilodeau celebrates with his special needs brother Frederic after winning gold.

2

The storied Jamaican bobsled team making their entrance during the Opening Ceremonies.

3

Maddie Bowman sailing her way to gold in women’s halfpipe skiing.

4

Bode Miller speeding down the slopes in what will likely be his last Olympics.

5

A unique perspective taken from the Bobsled venue.

6

An amazing long exposure shot of a downhill snowboarding race.

7

This one is of the beautiful Sochi sky over the Biathon course.

Creating photo drama with a single light source

First off, I’d like to appologize to the readers of this blog for the delay since my last post. Thanks for being cool about it. And just for that, I figured I’d give you guys a real doozie for this one.

Here goes.

Anyone who works with studio photography knows that as a general rule, the setup includes multiple light sources. This is for a number of different reasons which include reducing shadows, evening out the exposure and thing along those lines. However, at times, the use of a single light – mono lighting, can produce some really awesome artistic effects.

One thing it can do is add a sense of drama to your shot.

Check out the image below as an example of a single light setup I used for a photo shoot last week.

mono lit model

In this case, I used a light on the left side and as it stretches across the model it fades into a darker shade. This accentuates the points closest while sort of leaving an element of mystery about the elements hidden in the dark distance.

Give it a try for yourself some time. You just might love the results.

Some thoughts on the 2014 Grammy Awards show

While there seems to be an ever-growing number of awards shows out there these days, when it comes to music, the Grammy Awards are still considered by many to be the elite in terms of this particular art form. Sure some might argue that the People’s Choice holds more meaning since it is directly from the fans or that other shows that base their winners primarily on sales figures are more relevant. However, the Grammy Awards are still essentially the Oscars of the music industry.

With all that being said, here are my personal thoughts on the awards show that took place this past Sunday.

On Live Performances:

As has been the case lately, there where a lot of unusual pairings for duet and group performances. A few worked, most didn’t. When it came to the older guys out there, such as the two former members of the Beatles, many of them have lost their vocal skills and really just need to ride off into the Sunset of musical history. Probably the best performances in my opinion were a few of the most subtle. The collaboration between Pink and Nate Ruess stuck out for sure. And the subdued piano playing Hunter Hayes with inspirational quotes on the screen in the background was quite memorable.

On the Nominees:

For the most part, the selection of nominees in each category was pretty good. Of course, the fact that Justin Timberlake and Taylor Swift among a few others weren’t up for more was a bit surprising. Two examples of where they mostly went right where the categories for “Song of the Year” and Best Pop Solo Performance.”

On the Winners:

It is the tendency at the Grammys for one or more artists to dominate a few major categories in a given year. Those who decide the winners get hung up on a particular song or artist. Often times they fade away a bit after that. The first part of that equation did follow the typical pattern.  And I suspect the second will as well.

Overall, this year, it seemed as though those who decided the winners tended toward rewarding mediocrity. The bestowed coveted awards on acts with one or two OK songs and sort of left others out in the cold. Good examples of this include wins by newcomer LordeDaft Punk and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis.

What Should Have Been IMHO:

Of the available options:

Record of the Year should have went to Sara Bareilles for “Brave.”

Song of the Year should ahve been a given for “Just Give Me A Reason” by  Pink and Nate Ruess.

Best Pop Solo Performance should have went to either Sara Bareilles for “Brave” or Justin Timberlake for “Mirrors.”

I could go on but that would make for one long post.

Sara Bareilles

Sara Bareilles

Pink and Nate Ruess

Pink and Nate Ruess

Making art from snow

I don’t know about you but in my neck of the woods…

winter is in full force. And with that, we often end up with a fair amount of snow.

So, some creative minded people like to take the following approach – when nature gives you snow, make art.

The photos below are some samples of sculptures made completely of snow during an event held in Breckenridge, Colorado. I hope you enjoy them.

Workers shape a snow sculpture at the Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival in Harbin, mime-attachment (2) mime-attachment (3) mime-attachment (4) mime-attachment (5) mime-attachment (6) mime-attachment (7) mime-attachment (8) mime-attachment

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