Saturday, August 19, 2017

Same House, different locations - Otherwise known as: pity the editor !

Greetings Everyone!

  As you know, every year Amber Lotus publishes my images as calendars. Last year we had two sizes, the regular large wall calendar and a new mini-sized version that was very popular. I thought I'd let you in on a little behind-the-scenes peek at what the poor art editor has to deal with every year.

  Since writing my latest book, I've been focusing on making more substantial Faerie houses that are finely crafted and built to last. I am building up a collection of these houses in my studio so that eventually I will have enough for a fine art/craft exhibition (already one may be headed to an exhibition in Berlin - more on that in another post) somewhere down the road.

  Having these houses on-hand means that I get to photograph them in a variety of settings when it comes time to make the images that the calendar company will want to select from for their publications. We work 2 years in advance so the images that are being selected now won't been seen until 2019....except for you who come to visit my blog! 

  I thought you might enjoy seeing how the same house can be used in several different settings and have very different looks depending on those settings. Let's get started!

     The Golden Cottage was a house that I build specifically for a tutorial for my book. In the book I show how to make this house step-by-step. 


Now that it is finished I can take it with me to various locations and create some magical images with it. Here are four examples of how the same house can look in different settings:

  1) This is the location that was selected for use in the book in addition to the tutorial. It was high up on the side of a mountain nestled in an alpine forest where the trees were no taller than about 10 ft high. Since the mountain is shrouded in mist a lot, there was a dense carpet of moss everywhere under the trees. It was a very magical place and the white "Peace Pipe" plants were already there. I did bring in the red bunch-berries and the Blue Gentians and some of the ferns as well as the purple flowers on either side of the cottage. I loved how this house looked in this setting and the book art directors did too.  But I had more versions to offer the calendar editors....which made their job so much harder!


  2) In this version the house was set up in a corner of my rock garden. When the sun came around thru the trees overhead, it lit up this little corner with lots of color, so it seemed like a good spot to tuck in this house for another shoot. This time, the little footbridge was added to guide the eye towards the front door. The calendar editors liked this version as well... but wait! There's more!


 3) In this setting I had ventured again up into the mountains to one of my favorite little lakes and I discovered a fallen birch log on the edge of the lake that was a gorgeous setting in the early autumn sun. The log was narrow so I had to build a little moss-covered platform big enough to hold the house. I added a few twigs with fresh birch leaves that had turned a glorious gold color to help separate the foreground from the background. The two fungi are natural and were growing on the tree branch as it sat over the water.

   I had to do some acrobatic antics to hold a reflective device AND click the camera (which was on a tripod in the water) because the house was lit too strongly from the side by the bright sunshine which meant that the front of the house disappeared into dark shadow. The reflective device is a big circular hoop with fabric stretched over it that is used to bounce light into shadow areas. But in the slightest breeze it is a handful to hold as it is nearly 5 ft in diameter. So taking this shot involved getting the focus right in the camera, then setting the timer, and while the 10 seconds were counting off, getting the reflector positioned properly before the shutter released....phew!  I take a LOT of photos because most of them are not so great given all the variables....but when it DOES work..... AHHhhhhhhhhh......

And finally, before the snow began to fall, I had one more place to take this house for a late autumn shoot.


  4)  During this session, Derek Muirden was shooting some video for his Mountain Lake PBS story on the book's release and we found this gorgeous little setting in the late October sun right beside the road near my home. I had brought with me some colorful leaves and had found the red berries in a nearby swamp. The ferns were some miniature ones I had from my windowsill garden. It all worked out beautifully and my poor editor now had to decide which ONE photo to use in her calendar selection. You'll have to wait to see which one she picked!  :-)

  Now, I have a special request of you. In Amazon, one of the online places where my book is selling, there have been a few people who have written some "negative" comments. It is rather unfortunate that people who don't understand what this book is about go ahead and order it and then give the book bad reviews because it was not what they were looking for. This isn't exactly fair to my book but I cannot change or remove the reviews once they are made. One lady didn't understand what the book was and also managed to order two copies, which she did not want. Her disappointment then got transferred into a "negative" review of my book and sadly, those low ratings drag down what had been a high rating. So, I need your help if you have the time.

  The book needs some more positive reviews with more stars in the reviews to help lift the total ratings up. If you have the chance to do this, I would be very grateful. If you happen to live in the US, send me a link to your review and I will send you something. You don't have to write much, just a single line will do but the important bit is the number of stars you select for your rating as these stars are then averaged to get the total star rating we see at the top of the page. Thank you so very much in advance to anyone who can take a few minutes to help me out. 

    I will have more examples of houses in multiple settings to share with you in future posts so stay tuned! But for now, I'm getting ready to go make some artwork for and with the solar eclipse that is coming on Monday. Where I live we will not get a total eclipse this time (but we will in 2024) so I am looking forward to seeing crescent-shaped sun dapples during the peak event. I plan to do some land art to celebrate the special moment....if any good photos come of it, I'll share them here with you, of course! I hope that anyone living near the path of totality will make the effort to go and see this rare event. The last time I saw a total eclipse was when I was a teenager and it was an incredible experience....don't miss it even if you have to travel an hour or two...it is well worth it!
Welcome to the enchanted world of Environmental art and Faerie Houses sculptures created by Sally J Smith. Here you will find photos of the artist's unique art-forms and hear some of the stories from behind the scenes as she shares with you her creative process.