• Solar Eclipse Influence

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    Digital Photography, Copyright
    © 2017 SuZan Alexander

    I didn’t have approved eye protection to view the solar eclipse here in the US today. So, I let the “eclipse mania” inspire my post- processing of a macro image of an agave plant-abstracted. I just wanted to share the fun with an “Agave Eclipse”. Happy viewing!

  • Happy Birthday Russell Lee

    By Photographer not credited. (Self portrait with timer?) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

    Russell Lee was an American photographer/photojournalist who, like Dorothea Lange, was best known for the images he captured during his time with the Farm Security Administration (FSA). Although Lee received a degree in engineering, he was dissatisfied with his career as a chemical engineer. He ultimately gave up his engineering career and began painting. It was during this time that he began using a camera as a tool to assist with his paintings. The rest, as they say, is history. I, for one, am so glad he made his way to photography. His images are among my favorites.

    I was fortunate to see the New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum exhibit of Lee’s images. This particular exhibit included images Lee captured in the 1940s of Pie Town, New Mexico and its residents. I remember being so taken with his images that I went through the exhibit more than once. Although most of his images are beautiful black and white, this exhibit included a selection of images captured in color. Oh, and what colors they hold. Just look at this little beauty below.


    Russell Lee [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

    Happy birthday Mr. Lee!

  • Dorothea Lange: Part 1

    Edited and converted to JPEG by en:User:Moondigger at en.wikipedia - This image is available from the United States Library of Congress's Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID fsa.8b27245.This tag does not indicate the copyright status of the attached work. A normal copyright tag is still required. See Commons:Licensing for more information.العربية | čeština | Deutsch | English | español | فارسی | suomi | français | magyar | italiano | македонски | മലയാളം | Nederlands | polski | português | русский | slovenčina | slovenščina | Türkçe | українська | 中文 | 中文(简体)‎ | 中文(繁體)‎ | +/−FSA photo by Rondal Partridge via Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, reproduction number LC-DIG-fsa-8b27245digital scan of the original negative, 20MB TIFF file, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3948901

    By Rondal PartridgeFarm Security Administration / Office of War Information / Office of Emergency Management / Resettlement Administration

    During the month of May, I will be adding posts about American Photographer, Dorothea Lange (May 26, 1895 – October 11, 1965). Lange is known as one of the preeminent documentary photographers of the 20th century. Lange’s images are some of the best known, most recognizable images of the 20th century. And, even though viewers recognize the images, they may not know the artist’s name who is responsible for the images, or anything about her. I recently read Dorothea Lange: A Life Beyond Limits by Linda Gordon. The Dorothea Lange biography provided some insight into who Dorothea Lange was as a woman, a wife, a mother, an artist, a photographer, and a business woman. But, let’s start at the beginning. Shall we?

    Dorothea Nutzhorn was born on May 26, 1895, in Hoboken, New Jersey. There were two pivotal events in her early childhood that played a large part in shaping her life. The first was contracting polio at the age of 7 which left her right leg and foot weak and twisted. The second event was the divorce of her parents when Lange was a teen. The divorce had such an effect on her that she eventually changed her last name to Lange; her mother’s maiden name.

    As a young woman, Lange and a friend decided to travel and go on an adventure. Unfortunately, their first stop was San Francisco where all their funds were stolen. Apparently, Lange did not let this color her new adventure. She was resourceful and called upon her experience with photography to opened a portrait studio in San Francisco.  While circumstance changed her plans, over time, Lange managed to build a very successful upscale portrait studio. Her studio also became a gathering place for artists and wealthy patrons in the San Francisco community. One of those artists, was the renowned painter, Maynard Dixon. Eventually, Lange and Dixon married and had two children. Lange’s studio work became the primary income for her family.

    So how did this successful business woman, running an upscale portrait studio which catered to the wealthy, high cultured San Francisco crowd come to photograph the rural environs and people after the Great Depression? Oh my, let’s discuss it next week. But until then, just ponder what she accomplished in an era when women were not encouraged to be entrepreneurs, artists, or adventure seekers.



  • Happy Birthday to An American Photographer: Edward Curtis

    Edward S. Curtis [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

    Happy Birthday to the American photographer, Edward Sheriff Curtis (February 16, 1868 – October 19, 1952)! Chances are pretty good that you have seen Curtis’s photographs and probably not given it much attention. I hope you will read a little about him and enjoy some of his work; maybe even seek out some of his images to enjoy and appreciate.

    As a little background to get you started, Curtis was devoted to documenting over eighty American Indian tribes and their traditions. During the process, he amassed over 40,000 images. Yeah, yeah you say, “I probably have that many selfies on my phone.” Well, consider that photography was not as “mobile”, or convenient, during Curtis’s time. He had to carry around heavy, fragile, glass plates, a heavy camera, tripod, as well as chemicals to capture an image. Add in the fact that he carried this equipment on horseback and/or horse drawn wagon, over primitive paths and roads, … and was gone for months at a time. Additionally, there was a law banning the American Indians from practicing their respective customs and traditions. All in all, this was not an easy task. Seriously, think about this. He did not “scout” the photo location on the internet, load-up his photography gear in an over-priced camera bag, load said gear into a luxury car with heated leather seats, drive the interstate to the airport, arrive at the selected destination a few hours later, flash his media credentials and have models willingly mugging for the camera in a matter of days. It is this kind of dedication and passion that inspires me. I also shames me as I complain that I don’t have the right camera gear, the right conditions, etc. (But, I still want that new camera I’ve been eyeing… just sayin’.) I have even tried my hand at a modern version of his infamous gold tone images. I did not use glass and I am quite sure I cranked them out in a fraction of the time it took Curtis to create.

    If you would like to learn more about Edward Curtis, I highly suggest reading Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis by Timothy Egan. This book gave me a greater appreciation, not only of Curtis’s art, but also his sacrifice and contribution to the preservation of Native American culture. For a shorter read, the Smithsonian Magazine has an article about Curtis (Edward Curtis’ Epic Project to Photograph Native Americans). And, PBS American Masters has an episode about Curtis (Edward Curtis Shadow Catcher). If nothing else, search the internet to enjoy some of his images.


  • Random Acts of Art

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    Today I placed five photographs around the Village of Salado as part of the 2016 Flood the Streets with Art. I am not sure that five images actually qualifies as a “flood”, so perhaps I should say that I “sprinkled” the streets with art. I like the idea of “Random Acts of Kindness” and a “Random Acts of Art” was certainly in my wheelhouse.

    If you found one of the images, welcome to Shades of Sienna Studio. If you are taking the time to visit; thank you for your time and participation. Please let me know (in the comments) which image you found, or where you found the art, I would love to know they all when to “good homes”. If you are shy, that’s okay. I still appreciate you stopping by.

    I wish you all peace, joy, abundance, good health, and a day without shoving or stress.

  • iPhone Photography Tips

    We ALL take photos with our iPhone. We ALL want to take better photos with our iPhone. It does not matter if you want to post them on your social media channels, or simple preserve a memory for yourself. We can all benefit from better images. Julia Kelleher, a talented photographer, wrote a great blog post on this very subject, which she graciously shares with us. Thanks Julia!


    Your iPhone is with you at all times, right? It’s like your right hand — always there, always ready to help you muddle your way through the day and kill boredom when the need arises. But that phone of yours can be oh-so-frustrating when your darling child chooses a particular moment to do something photo-worthy and your phone chooses that time to revolt.

    Well, when you learn the inner and secret features of your iPhone camera, your days of being “slow on the draw” will be over. On top of that, your camera skills will improve 10-fold and your images will too, making your memories print and wall worthy.

    So let’s look at some of the tricks and features inside your iPhone that will make you shine at the next family get together!


    Don’t miss ANY moment. To get to your camera lickety-split do one of two things depending on if your iPhone is locked or not.


    Locked Iphone-Open Camera

    1. Hit the home button
    2. Locate the camera icon on the lower right corner of the screen.
    3. Swipe up & the camera will open.


    Unlocked Iphone_Open Camera

    1. Swipe Up
    2. Tap the camera icon & the camera will open.


    Activating the grid will place a “tick-tac-toe” box on your screen as you shoot. What’s the benefit? Where the lines cross is called a “power point.” When you place your subject on of the four points you create images with a little negative space and better, more artistic composition. A little pro tip that will make your images that much prettier!

    Grid Activation

                TO ACTIVATE:

    1. Go to Settings > Photos&Camera > Grid > Turn it On


    Professional photographer know light like the back of your hand, and every lighting situation poses different issues, especially of you camera. A camera cannot see light and adjust the way the human eye can. So, it’s important to be able to tell your camera how to behave when you need it to in order to get a good “exposure.” The classic scenario that may drive you crazy is shooting a darker subject on a bright background. Your camera will want to make the background look good and your subject will be dark and ugly! ARGH! The way around this? Use the hidden feature in your iPhone that lets YOU control how bright an image is.


    1. Open the camera
    2. Compose your shot
    3. Tap and HOLD on the screen where you want to focus. The yellow box will blink and set focus.
    4. Swipe up or down to make the camera brighten or darken the exposure
    5. When you’re happy with how it looks, take the shot!

    Exposure_Focus Lock_Adjust


    Flash from your camera almost never looks good. It produces a harsh, flat light that doesn’t always need to be there, yet the camera seems to want to use it all the time. Turn it off when you can for more pleasing light in your images.


    1. In the camera app, tap the lighting bolt icon in the upper left corner.
    2. Choose and tap “Off.”
    3. Shoot as you like!


    Did you know your iPhone can shoot 10 frames per second in burst mode? WHAT? My iPhone has burst mode? Yes it does! And it’s great for catching your toddler on the run.


    1. Press and HOLD the shutter release button on your camera app.
    2. Voila! 10 frames per second.

    Burst Mode


    Taking the picture is just half the process in the Pro world. Editing and enhancing the image is 50% of the process. Yes, even when you shoot with your iPhone you can make your images stand out even more by using a good editing app.

    Here’s a few fun suggestions to try out: