Last month I was interviewed by Christion Hoiberg of CaptureLandscapes.com. It was an interview full of well-thought-out questions and dug deep into my connection with nature and how it, as well as photography, helped shape me into the person I am today. The following is a snippet of the interview. If you want to read the whole thing.. click on over!
Are you interested in displaying your photography at art fairs but are turned off by the initial investment? Read along to find a way to save over 60% on your display panels.
For many artists, the thought of selling their work, having it create a lasting and recurring impact on the life of the collector, and earning a living during it all is something that we dream of. Also for many artists, the initial investment of such a venture is a large financial risk, if not cost prohibitive altogether.
This year I finally decided to make the leap into the world of art fairs. I know that it’s going to be a long journey into figuring out what to do, how to do it, and what not to do, as well as a very large financial investment and being the frugal person that I am, I was looking to save money wherever I could when it came to acquiring my booth setup. I am a big believer in quality and astounding presentation, so it’s a delicate line to walk. I wanted to buy Propanels, but didn’t have the money or means to make that a reality.
Years ago, I was passed along the website of Ernie Klevin (https://erniekleven.com/books) by an acquaintance when inquiring about the display panels that he built. I’ve held onto it knowing that in the back of my mind, someday, I’d likely want to start presenting my work at art fairs. I finally bought Ernie’s plans and produced nine of the panels for approximately $600, saving myself over 50% of the cost of Propanels.
I’m not going to provide any insight into the plans themselves, as Ernie is kind enough to offer these plans for only $40, which is a great investment that will save you over $700 (or more!) for nine panels and also comes with a bonus manual for knockdown shelves or a folding sales desk. An added value is that you can continue to use these plans for the rest of your art fair career, constantly saving yourself some money. So please support Ernie by buying the plans from his site!
Check out this video talking about the general construction of the panels and some of the things that I encountered along the way. Below the video are some tips that I would suggest to people undertaking this project.
As I stated in the video, doing your shopping online will save you a ton of time and frustration. To help me along, I put together a simple spreadsheet of everything I’d need and ordered at homedepot.com. It took a couple of hours for them to pull the order together and text me that it was ready to pick up. The fact that this was free blows my mind! I simply showed up and they loaded it into my truck and I drove away. No roaming the aisles trying to find everything. Just search on their website, set to ‘pickup in store’, add to your cart and you’re good to go.
Here are some helpful tips I learned during the construction of my panels. I highly suggest checking out the accompanying video to get a better idea of the construction of the panels. After watching the video and purchasing Ernie’s plans this list will make more sense:
- Try to be as exact in your measurements as you can, especially when it comes to the piece of wood along the top. This is the piece of wood that I used to align my carpet. If your measurements are off, your carpet will wrap around in a crooked fashion leaving a misaligned edge.
Use a tube cutter to cut your conduit. In my opinion it’s a much easier and level cut than with a hacksaw. I bought a cheap tube cutter which required much more ‘cranking’ on the cutting wheel which gave me blisters after cutting 18 pieces of conduit. If you want to pay more for a larger tube cutter this might save you some effort and blisters.
On your conduit, mark the exact spot where your wood needs to align. I did this the whole way around the conduit so that no matter where the conduit was rotated, I had a reference point to align my wood piece. Once you have your wood lined up with the conduit, mark a place on the conduit in the approximate middle of the wood. This is where you’re going to drill and subsequently screw the conduit to the wood piece.
Try to drill as straight as possible through both walls of the conduit!
When applying the duct tape, don’t give it a ton of tension. I did this and it started to peel up on the ends because the adhesive on the tape wasn’t strong enough to hold the tension.
Use a large adhesive spreading trowel. This is another area where I tried to pinch pennies and bought a smaller one which made spreading the adhesive time consuming and frustrating. I went back and bought a large one and it made a world of difference.
You’ll get glue everywhere. Seriously. No matter how hard you try. It even ended up on my coffee maker because I must have had some on my hands. As such, wear clothes that you don’t mind getting glue on.
Buy the carpet that’s already cut to 6 feet wide and have the Home Depot team cut to the length you need. It’s usually the same price (per square foot) as the 12 feet wide carpet but you won’t have to deal with the hassle of cutting it in half in a super straight line.
Crease the carpet where it will wrap around the legs to that it better conforms to the shape of the conduit.
Control the amount of glue you apply with the angle of the trowel. Having your trowel closer to 90 degrees to the insulation will leave more glue but holding it at a steep angle will leave enough, but much less.
After applying the adhesive and aligning the carpet, use something to smooth it out. I simply removed a large weight from my dumbell and used that, sliding it around to make sure there were no bubbles.
When trimming the carpet after wrapping it around the frame make sure you don’t stray too far in or out. I went too far in which left a very visible slice where the other side of the carpet wasn’t long enough to meet the cut mark. You can actually see it in the video if you look close enough. Luckily I caught it in time, but I was extra cautious when cutting the carpet on the rest of the panels.
Use paint thinner on a cloth to remove adhesive from the carpet.
I think with following Ernie’s plans and taking these tips into account your building will go a lot smoother.
Instead of following Ernie’s plans to use the leftover conduit for support bars, I will be purchasing finishing pieces from Propanels. This includes:
- Light Bars
While this will add to the cost of my booth, I feel they’re good purchases and things that I don’t want to skimp on. I want to display with good lighting and anything that IS visible I want to look clean and professional (light bars and support bars). The telescoping legs are just going to help with adjusting to uneven terrain and moving the display area of my panels higher so that more of my work is at eye level.
I hope this post helps you along the way. Please don’t hesitate to reach out with questions if you decide to take this on.
Lately I've been recording moments where I am filled with so much gratitude that I have the opportunity for that experience that I nearly moved to tears. These may not be the most exciting things to watch, or mean anything to anyone but me, but I want to start sharing these peaceful moments that I never want to forget. Moments where I am at equilibrium with myself and the world and times where I am feeling most at ease and in love with the experience.
This first one was taken during dusk along a glacial river in Olympic National Park with my son Elliott. We were just sitting on the river taking in the sounds. My heart was full and my mind was at ease.
Do you see the bat flying around?
January 1st, 2018. Another day.. another year. While I am not the type of person who views the changing of the calendar as an opportunity to “start fresh” or say farewell to the problems of the past, I do agree that it’s beneficial to think back upon blocks of time and reflect upon the growth, the challenges, the losses, and the rewards that occurred. Life happens with it’s ups and downs every day and each morning is a chance to make those positive changes in your life, to let your problems go, and to dream new dreams. I’m certainly not the best at this approach either, especially lately, but I try to focus on the fact that I’m at least thinking and believing it and sometimes that’s all I can do. Progress, not perfection, right?
The past 365 days have brought me many highs and lows and have been quite possibly one of the most contrasting years I’ve had. As usual I just try to take it one day at a time: I revel in the love and light that has come my way and I do my best to remain positive through the more trying times. I’m a pretty retro/introspective person and I’ll attempt to keep this somewhat short but I wanted to reflect on the losses and gains as well as objectively look at my work and come up with some goals going forward.
So here’s to yesterday, tomorrow, and today. Thanks for reading along and feel free to let me know what YOUR photography/artistic goals are in the comments!
Favorite Images Released in 2017 and the Stories Behind Them
Taken: October 13th, 2017 • Released: November 7th, 2017
This photo was captured from our camp near Inspiration Lake in Washington’s The Enchantments Wilderness. I had been wanting to visit The Enchantments for a over a decade and this year I was finally granted the opportunity when a friend scored one of the ever-elusive overnight permits. While 50% of our group needed to bail for one reason or another, it was an amazing experience in an amazing place with some amazing people. This trip was full of challenges: the brutal hike in, the high winds, temperatures in the teens, bad knees, and an ill-fitting pack made the trek turn out to be one of the hardest I’ve ever done. But it also brought many rewards: views I’ve only dreamed of, great times and conversation with good friends, exhilarating shooting conditions (we did the majority of our shooting between 11am-3pm), photographic rewards, a closer relationship with nature, and an overwhelming appreciation of my time on this planet. At the end, only Eric Bennett, Michael Bollino, and myself remained. As we chatted in our camp, I had my back turned to this scene when Eric and Michael noticed the little sapling getting hit with the afternoon light. Being the only one to have my camera ready and handy, I set up shop just in time for a very strong gust of wind to come blowing through. It was a fleeting moment and luckily, in the bright light, my shutter speed was fast enough to capture the scene as intended with some nice texture to the snow and no motion blur on the tree. I held my left hand next to my lens to keep snow from blowing onto the glass (I didn’t have the hood on), tucked my head inside my shoulder and just kept pressing the shutter button until the wind stopped. The processing was fairly simple with just some color correction and minimal cloning. I spent the most time on this image deciding on the crop.
Taken: October 26th, 2016 • Released: February 4th, 2017
I actually captured this photo as a test shot during my 2016 Autumn Wonders of Oregon Workshop. Only after reviewing the files at home did I really fall in love with this composition and that water texture. All of the lines in the photo point towards the base of the falls and I used extensive dodging and burning to help those lines stand out and to hide some of the messiness in the photo. I did a lot of cloning on this image to clean up the debris in the scene: distracting leaves, pine needles, and a couple branches but most of the work on this photo revolved around color separation, warm/cool contrast, and tonal work. It was a delicate balance trying to get the darker feel I was going for without crushing some of the shadows. No.. I did not place the leaves there but the cloning out of pine needles on the rock really helped them stand out to hold down the left corner of the image.
Taken: January 9th, 2017 • Released: May 2nd, 2017
In January 2017 I took a three day road trip in some of the worst winter conditions Oregon had seen in recent times. In the early morning I drove from Portland to the Oregon Coast through an ice storm which laid several inches of ice on the roads to pick up a girl I had never met named Erin Tolie. From there we carried on through blizzard like conditions to Crater Lake, Bend, the Painted Hills, Smith Rock State Park, the Gorge, Portland, and back to the coast to drop her off before I returned to Portland. While we didn’t have many photo opportunities due to the weather, it was time well spent getting to know her and seeing what kind of weather my truck could make it through. I think in those three days we put on about 1,300 miles in blizzard like conditions. This shot is from the Painted Hills which was blanketed in snow. We had the area to ourselves and we were treated to some nice light that really showed off the textures. I went for more of a silvery/metallic feel on this one by playing a delicate dance of blue, cyan, and saturation.. All in the right places. It took a lot of time to get the balance right and I really owe it to my friend Alex for helping me dial in the look. As for the trip.. It was amazing in many ways. Not only did I come away with a photo I really enjoy and that means a lot to me.. I came away with the love of my life.
Taken: September 24th, 2016 • Released: June 20th, 2017
The real story for this image lies in the text that accompanies the image which can be found by clicking the image and reading it on my website. I am really challenged by forest scenes due to their usually chaotic nature. This area is no different. It’s one of the few place in Oregon where there are dense stands of aspens. But these are not the long, straight aspens that you might find in Colorado. They’re short, stumpy, gnarled, and very messy with branches. I was happy to find this composition right next to my vehicle just as the evening light was backlighting the leaves. The balance and symmetry are what really drew me to the scene and I did a lot of cloning of dead/scraggly branches to help simplify it and help that aspect stand out. Aside from that it was just some color work to take it a little more towards the yellow side of the spectrum and making sure that the light in the treetops didn’t overpower the image.
Taken: May 13th, 2017 • Released: November 22nd, 2017
This is one of my favorite compositions to date. This location, which is steadily gaining popularity, is a total blast to photograph. I spent most mornings and nights on my first trip to Utah photographing this location. While normally I would be inclined to jam as many locations into an itinerary to make the most of my trip, there’s a great benefit to visiting the same location over and over again. The way this scene changes as the light moves across the landscape is mesmerizing. Sunrise has a completely different feel than sunset and different shapes, textures, and features stand out. The night before I captured this photo I had the idea to capture the peak in the background in light, isolating it using a longer focal length so that everything else around it was shadow. When the light started happening, I also noticed the feature in the foreground was receiving light in all of the right places and decided to photograph this composition as well which, in the end, I was more drawn to. The typical processing for this scene is to go really blue. While the unlit hills are grayish blue, I decided to be really conservative with the application of blue here as I wanted it to have a very realistic presentation. It was the light here that did most of the heavy lifting so I spent most of my processing time making sure that I had the color and saturation exactly where I wanted it so that the light and composition did the talking.
Taken: June 6th, 2017 • Released: November 27th, 2017
I’ve never been drawn to Wahclella Falls in a photographic way and most of the times I’ve been to this location I didn’t take any photos. On this day I was accompanying my friends Andrew Studer and Michael Shainblum and I spent most of the time just taking in the scene and hanging out. When the sunlight crested the canyon walls and started to hit the water I took my long lens out and started playing with water abstracts using the light and mist from the splashpool of the falls. I loved the way the light was pouring into the canyon above the main falls and lighting the upper tier which is usually unseen and forgotten. This is probably my most unprocessed file. I normally do a lot of very small tweaks in the process of making my images but for this one it was pretty straight forward and it was all done in Adobe Camera Raw. Making sure that the water was bright but not too bright and that the shadows on the sides of the falls were very dark but still retained a small amount of detail if you really looked was my goal. A lot of photography advice out there suggests shooting waterfalls in soft, overcast light only but some of my favorite waterfall photos I’ve ever taken were in harsh light or used the light in some way to make the image more compelling.
Losses and Gains
As I stated before this was a pretty tumultuous year so to keep it simple I’ll keep this to photography only.
- The Eagle Creek Fire in the Columbia River Gorge. This was by far the most traumatic event of the year for me. Not only is the gorge a place that meant a lot to me, it was also a large part of my living as a photographer. To see it raining down on my car in ashes was heartbreaking, frightening, and demoralizing. I have gone through the stages of grief and have come to terms with the event, but even last night I was thinking of all of the user trails to rarely visited places that I was fond of which will likely never be repaired.. At least not for a long time. I’m grateful that I live in such a beautiful and bountiful area of the country and that there are endless places to explore and photograph. I wrote about the fire in the description for my image Healing Waters.
- Hey look at that. Only one photographic loss. :-)
- I took more trips to places I had never been.
- I left my job of 15+ years to pursue photography full time.
- I became more artistically conscious about the type of work I want to create. You can read about that in my blog post https://tjthornephotography.wordpress.com/2017/11/10/old-shoes/
- I fell in love with someone who has helped me break into a new consciousness around photography. Someone who is extremely creative, original, exciting, and talented beyond measure. Someone who both inspires me and pushes me to create and be productive.
- I was more productive in 2017 than I was in 2016.
Goals Going Forward
- Continue to explore areas in and outside of Oregon. I have a lot of places on my list that I’d like to visit and need to make it a priority to do so.
- Release work consistently.
- Read more writings on artistic philosophy and photography.
- Experiment more. I have a tendency to write images off based on the raw file instead of playing around with images that grab my attention to see their possibilities.
- Get out more both with and without a camera.
- Continue to define my own personal style. I am happy with the quality of the work that I’m producing, but I’m unable to view it as being cohesive. Granted, I shoot a wide variety of things which causes a differentiation in style in itself.. So maybe it’s just a byproduct of my style of shooting changing.
- Be more outgoing and engaged.
As I look back on the goals I set last year.. I was happy to see that I had made some progress. I think getting out more is going to be a huge help. I’m not nearly as exhausted from stress as I used to be.. But I’ve been bad at holding myself accountable and if I want to succeed in this that’s going to have to change. Thanks for reading.
Lately I’ve been doing a lot of contemplating about my photographic vision and artistic consciousness. I feel I’ve reached a distinct turning point in the way I see and photograph and while it’s something that has been working in my subconscious for years, it all clicked over into something more mentally tangible during a visit to southern Utah back in May of 2017.
When I started out on this journey I did so by emulating those that I held in high regard. I saw scenes as a whole and didn’t know how to find my own voice.. or what that even meant. I learned how to be technically proficient with a camera and in post-processing which resulted in immediate gratification. I took a shot, I processed the photo, it looked nice, and that filled me up with little insight as to why it did so. As time went on, I fell into habits of composing scenes and discovered the types of scenes that compelled me to photograph them as well as scenes that didn’t, but I still grasped for answers to the questions ‘What makes my work MINE?’ and “Why do I photograph the things that I do and shy away from the things that I don’t?’.
I honed my landscape and nature photography skills in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. It’s an area of immense beauty that lends itself well to wide angle shots: majestic waterfalls, gentle streams, lush forests, and rugged coastline. It’s a place that begs you to fit as much as you can into the frame and, in my opinion, it’s very easy to make a pretty photo here. But at some point that wasn’t enough for me. I became creatively bored with the area and somewhat disconnected from the style of photos I was capturing with most of them sitting untouched on my hard drive. Photographing these scenes became formulaic for me. I’m a very introspective person and my constant quest for the answers to those previous questions caused my consciousness to evolve and discover while I still went through the same motions of creating a photograph. The heart was still there in my photos and the reasons for photographing were still present, but I felt dissatisfied. My vision and habits hadn’t changed or evolved along with my consciousness.
When I went to southern Utah I was photographically overwhelmed with the landscape and felt incredibly out of place. As beautiful as the desert is, it was challenging for me to create a compelling photo while using the tried and true tactics that I was used to using in the Pacific Northwest. The desert can be a messy place. The wide open land felt jumbled and haphazard in my viewfinder. The scenes I captured at first didn’t feel harmonic. I was disappointed with myself and struggled to find a way to connect to the land. It wasn’t until I spent a sunny day relaxing near a river where I started to think differently. I spent the majority of the day shooting out of focus photos in harsh light composing in my viewfinder with shapes and colors. I needed to think smaller there. I needed to look for patterns in tones, colors, and shapes instead of looking at scenes as a whole. I spent the rest of that trip with that in mind and came out with some photos I’m very excited to process and release. Images that are more of a design in concept. Simple compositions using texture, light, tones, and shapes as the central element as opposed to wide open vistas intended to shock and awe. Standing in that river and shooting shimmering leaves against the blue sky and standing grass along the river didn’t necessarily result in me creating portfolio worthy images, but it was a mental breakthrough for me. It put me on a path that I’ve been on since that day and it’s one that has resulted in a lot of experimentation and bad photos, but also a lot of reward that has carried over into my work since then.
As I look back at my releases from this year which, as of today, has only been four photos, I notice that only one had been taken this year… in January. Much of the work I’ve been creating since then is, to me, very different from the rest of my portfolio and when I finally (heh) start to release it, I’m sure that distinction will be apparent. The result is work that is more often nuanced in presentation but is much more in line with my creative vision and consciousness. Instead of heading into locations with a scene in mind or with methodical approaches, I can connect, look deeper, and impulsively respond to the scene and the way it interacts with the light. I finally feel more connected to my work and I’m able to approach my photography in a more intimate way than I have historically and that, to me, feels like a brand new pair of shoes.