Siamang Photoshopped


This is a siamang.

I took this photo at the San Diego Zoo. It was hard to get a good image of this animal because it was far away from the visitor observation area, and it was shot midday.

The original shot I took is this:


As you can see, it is not great (and I had to crop into the subject). So I thought I’d use this image to practice my Photoshop. The high contrast shadows created from the midday sun made it ideal for knocking out the siamang from the busy background and creating a “studio” feel, as seen in the first photo.

Some people don’t like images that are photoshopped. I can understand why. They feel it’s not true. My thought is that photos are just representations, and you have to take into consideration the context of the photo. Are you trying to idealize your subject, trying to create an illusion? Or are you trying to tell the truth as you see it and experience it? Are you trying to make people experience beauty and joy? Or are you wanting to persuade people to act on an injustice?

I think a lot about imagemaking these days because of the influence of social media. Maybe that’s a subject for a later post. 🙂


Easing Back In



I can’t believe it’s been about seven months since my last post! Where have I been? At work mostly.

Last year our company made some changes. For several months, we adjusted to new schedules, deadlines, teams, flows. For awhile, I couldn’t garner the energy to do anything outside of work. But now, I think we are settling back into a steady rhythm.

I’ve been missing photography. It’s funny how much the act of focusing makes me happy. I enjoy sitting and taking in all the light and shadows and shapes. I enjoy composing in my head. I enjoy framing something boring and making it a little more interesting. I’m not great at it, but I enjoy the striving to be better.

That’s been on my mind a lot these days. Striving to be better.

So I am back. Still busy at my day job but determined to get back into my groove.



Two from Safari Park

Flamingo island
Mama warthog
The San Diego Zoo has a sister park, about 30 miles north, called Safari Park. It is where the zoo conducts conservation programs. Safari Park also offers several ways to experience its grounds. You can just walk around the park or take the tram, and see the animals as you would in a traditional zoo. Or you can take a truck ride into the main space and see some of the animals up close and personal. Or you can stay overnight in tents within the park and enjoy your evening meals while listening to animal specialists. All of these experiences are to help educate people about the animals and the importance of conservation, especially of endangered species.

The San Diego Zoo is lush and tropical
One of the perks of becoming a member of the San Diego Zoo is that you automatically are a member of the Safari Park, too. I enjoy visiting both.

The Zoo feels more like a tropical place with lush landscapes, lots of trees, and winding paths.

The Safari Park is hot and dry
The Park feels like a dry African desert. Getting to the Park is harder because it’s located in a more remote part of San Diego county in order to accommodate the huge open savanna-like area in the back of the park. That is where several animal species live together as they would in Africa or Asia. And several other smaller animal exhibits dot the rest of the park.

Both places are great for exploring. And I must say, the San Diego Zoo/Safari Park has done a great job in creating more natural spaces for animals over the years. Gone are the small, boring, plastered enclosures. Thank goodness! For the animals and the visitors.

My First Finished Digital Painting

Digital painting of tiger up close at San Diego Zoo
Digital painting of tiger at San Diego Zoo

This is my first finished digital painting made with Photoshop. It is of a male two-year-old tiger at the San Diego Zoo. I’m pretty happy with it because I know how many lessons I had to learn to get to this point. Even though I know Photoshop pretty well, I still had to learn about how to use it for painting digitally. Some of the lessons I had to learn were:

– Getting over my fear of doing something new
– Staying inspired as a beginner
– Refreshing my knowledge of basic art composition
– Experimenting and choosing a color palette
– Learning about digital brushes
– Learning about the digital painting workflow
– Choosing subject matter that will keep me inspired
– Enjoying the process

The prep work to start the painting took 3-4 months prior and it required many practice paintings. During that time I also read books to stay inspired:

“The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly” by Seth Godin
“The War Of Art” by Steven Pressfield
“On Becoming An Artist: Reinventing Yourself Through Mindful Creativity” by Ellen J. Langer

The actual painting took about 9 hours (3 hours for 3 days).

Day One: build the color palette, draw a sketch, and block in color
Day Two: fill in shapes, add shading and create volume, make corrections
Day Three: focus on the details, continue to make corrections and refine without overworking

I still have a long way to go, but I’m excited about what’s ahead. This week I hope to buy a Wacom tablet (digital painting with a mouse can wreak havoc on your wrist). In future posts, I’ll try describe in more detail the steps I am taking.

Have a great week!


Sepia-toned image of nebulous shadows of what looks like plants
An interplay of shadows

This is not what it seems.

I was walking along a sidewalk at night and noticed the shadows created by the street lamps and landscape lights. If you tilt your head to your left, you’ll see what I saw at my feet.

But when I rotated it, it felt like a mysterious scene.