Alycia Christine

Enchanting Tales, Intriguing Art

Tag: photographer (Page 1 of 4)

Job Hunting through the Misty Morning

"Penguin's Gaze" - Tap to enlarge or buy.

“Penguin’s Gaze” – Tap to enlarge or buy.

I woke up this morning to a veil of mist shrouding the world outside our apartment. Fall is officially here in North Texas and the air outside is a cool 60 degrees. We’ve lived in Dallas for three months now and I have yet to find a full-time job. I’ve had some good part time work here and there to help make ends meet, but nothing steady. Truthfully, I think some people have taken one look at my freelance photography price rates and fled screaming in the other direction. Honestly, I think my pricing is quite reasonable, but prizing for a freelance photography is always tricky. Freelancers don’t work eight hours a day and then get paid per hour. Instead we usually work a few paid hours on site during a certain project and then spend several more hours working without pay to process and tweak photos for our clients. Generally speaking, I spend one to two hours processing and retouching photos at my computer for every hour I spend shooting photos in the field. Consequently, if I asked a rate like $15-per-hour for a two-hour on-site job, I’d never be able to afford food again—not to mention covering expenses for a place to live, a work studio, electricity, running water, health insurance, worker’s insurance, equipment costs, or taxes. The higher cost per on-site hour and the per-photo buying rates help to offset these real-world costs, but it’s still a very frustrating thing to have to explain to new clients why $50/hour is, in fact, quite reasonable for the quality and quantity of work I provide. The world of freelance is a neat place to visit, but it’s often a very uncomfortable place to live. I hope for the day when I can return to a job with regular hours, people who actually appreciate what I do, and an annual salary that can keep us fed.

Ah well, at least I can use the downtime between job hunts and odd projects to write. November is National Novel Writing Month and so I am doing my best to write 50,000 words in 30 days like so many other wonderfully crazy people around the world. I’m using the challenge to finish writing the first draft of Sloop and Sword, the sequel to Thorn and Thistle. While I love the action taking place in the story, the writing itself is going quite slow. This is largely because my time is split between writing, resume submissions, photography processing, website updates, and a new marketing education course. The last item on that list seems quite promising. I’ve never been good at Facebook advertising in particular, so I decided that I should learn how to do it.

I’ve created quite a few changes to the website in response to what I’ve learned during the marketing course and I’m excited about the site’s new look. I hope you like the changes as well. I’m still tweaking some of the code, so don’t hesitate to tell me if you find an error. Later I may decide to upgrade the website to a full WordPress-coded site complete with new hosting so that I have more control over its overall function, but I don’t want to commit to that intensive of a design project until after I’ve cleared several of the other items off of my plate.

If you know of anyone in the Dallas area who needs a good writer, photographer, or graphic artist, please send them my way. If you want to follow my progress during NaNoWriMo, just go to the NaNoWriMo page in the Fan Corner section of my website. Thanks so much!

Until next time, may we each rewrite our world for the better!


The Seared Cookie Report: one Artist/Writer’s Labored Soliloquy (SCRAWLS) is brought to you from the writing desk of Alycia Christine at Purple Thorn Press and Photography with fine art, love, speculative fiction books, and tea suggestions for all. Please let me know your thoughts about this particular post and, as always, if there is any subject you wish me to discuss, contact me. Thanks!

My Thanksgiving Protest: A Make-In

Scrub_Brush_Sunrise-AC4x6Well, it’s official. Thanksgiving is cancelled. Not only are stores around the country opening at obscene hours on Black Friday morning to lure shoppers in with merchandise sales, but now some stores like Macy’s and JCPenney have made it a habit to open on Thanksgiving night.

As someone who once worked in retail, I have a serious problem with retail stores of any kind being open on Thanksgiving Day. Retail as a business is torturous for its store employees. More often than not, the pay, benefits, work hours, and general time-off at retail stores and chains are pretty abysmal. Add to this the fact that corporations are further destroying their employees’ enjoyment of major holidays by being open on Thanksgiving Day itself or, God-forbid, on Christmas. I cry foul. Since I’m not in charge of the companies in question, I can’t directly stop the idiocy. That being said, I can do something as a consumer to run interference with this rampant commercialism. I propose a Make-In.

What’s a Make-In?

A Make-In is a two-day event occurring during the Thanksgiving holiday. Family members stay home during Thanksgiving Day to spend time with each other. They also stay home during Black Friday instead of shop—for anything. Now before you scream at me about the time lost on Christmas-gift buying, keep reading. The point of a Make-In is not about boycotting businesses, although you could make it about that if you really wished. The idea of a Make-In is to spend some quality time with your family and friends doing something besides stuffing your face with turkey or fighting the masses for the last My Pink Posy doll for your kid.

People participating in a Make-In are responsible for actually making their own Christmas presents for their family members and friends instead of spending the day buying them. Now don’t get me wrong, I’ll still be buying Christmas presents for people. I know from experience that retailers make the majority of their annual sales during the month before Christmas. Retailers making sales means that their employees can keep the jobs that help their families stay afloat. From this standpoint, buying from retailers is a good thing—just not on Thanksgiving Day.

How do you plan a Make-In?

Doing a Thanksgiving Make-In requires a little extra organization on the part of the event planner—mainly you have to get supplies ahead of time. In order to do this, you’ll need to make a trip to your favorite craft stores, office supply stores, and dollar stores way ahead of time to purchase the supplies you need.

Part of the fun of a Make-In is to create beautiful, one-of-a-kind presents without emptying your wallet. Look for items that are relatively inexpensive to purchase and then find creative ways to dress them up into something truly unique and special.

What presents should you create during a Make-In?

When doing a Make-In, play to each person’s strengths. Does someone in your group love to shoot photos? Let him take photos of the family while they are crafting gifts and turn the photos into small personalized Christmas scrap books. Do you have a writer? She can write personalized poetry for people or write a fiction story to share with everyone as a gift. Got a gamer? Have him create a series of crossword puzzles or mazes for people to solve. Is someone great at organizing? Let her make decorative storage boxes or office bins for use in people’s office cubicles. Know a cook? Have him create custom recipe cards for people sharing a few of his favorite treats. The point of this is for everyone to create a personalized present for each other.

This year, for example, I plan to handcraft everyone’s Christmas tree ornaments. Every year, my husband and I send out Christmas ornaments to our family members and close friends and this year will be no exception. Consequently I’ve been brainstorming some interesting concepts. Here is a list of a few of my fun present ideas:

Origami ornaments: create Christmas tree ornaments with an oriental flare by folding paper into unique sculptures. Coat these origami designs with clear resin to help protect them. Don’t forget to add a ribbon so that they can hang on the tree when you’re finished.

Needed supplies: square sheets of scrapbook or wrapping paper (6×6 inch squares work well), scissors, resin, and ribbon, and anything else that looks interesting.

Photo ornaments: capture special moments in hand-painted frames for your Christmas tree.

Needed supplies: special photos, small frames that need painting or decorations added, paint, brushes, buttons, stickers, cloth, ribbons, jewelry bobbles, and anything else that looks interesting.

Hand-painted ornaments: make hand-painted ornaments for your loved-ones.

Needed supplies: plain glass ornament bulbs, paint, brushes, buttons, stickers, cloth, ribbons, jewelry bobbles, and anything else that looks interesting.

Custom Jewelry: craft unique necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and more for the special people in your life.

Needed supplies: beads, pendants, wire, ribbon, string, fishing line, scissors and/or wire cutters, and anything else that looks interesting.

Need more good ideas? I suggest browsing places like Etsy or Pinterest to spark some creative concepts. By all means, please contact me with what you craft. I can’t wait to hear about your creations. I wish you all a wonderful, meaningful Thanksgiving!

Until next time, may we each rewrite our world for the better!


The Seared Cookie Report: one Artist/Writer’s Labored Soliloquy (SCRAWLS) is brought to you from the writing desk of Alycia Christine at Purple Thorn Press and Photography with love, art, speculative fiction books, and virtual baked goods for all. Please let me know your thoughts about this particular post and, as always, if there is any subject you wish me to discuss, contact me. Thanks!

Flashes of Perspective: Shooting Cityscapes

Palacio_del_Rio_Christmas_Colors-AC4x6Over the past two years, I have discussed several different Rules of Photography. From Leading Lines to Color and Contrast, we have covered it all. Now that we have a firm foundation on how to shoot, I want to delve into different scenarios in which artists can use the rules and bend them to suit their needs.

We had already begun bending the rules during my explanation of using and abusing shutter speed to shoot April’s Blood Moon. Now I want to take that train of thought a little further. In this case, let’s talk about cityscape photos and how they differ from landscape shots.

Let’s Get Started

At first glance, a budding photographer might expect that cityscape photos would be shot in the same way most landscape shots are. However, the photographic subjects of cities are very different from those in landscapes and those differences can cause serious frustration for people not used to adapting to them. One of the major reasons why is because landscapes rely heavily on the Rule of Thirds while cityscapes usually rely far more on Leading Lines and Framing.

Dynamic landscape photographs are defined by the relationship between land, water, and sky or some lesser combination thereof. These shots require a specific balance between their different composing elements and the Rule of Thirds because landscapes so often feature strikingly different textures thrown together such as: mountains, water, grass, trees, flowers, sky, hills, sea, and/or more. The Rule of Thirds helps to order the seeming chaos of so many different elements into something structured. It is this order of thirds that helps move the viewer’s eye seamlessly through the photograph without causing distraction and confusion.

In contrast, dynamic cityscape photos are often defined by the relationships between different pieces of architecture. By necessity, architecture is usually created using straight lines, points, and angles. Instead of the softer curves that often dominate natural scenes, cityscapes are dominated by hard lines and sharp angles. Of course, cityscapes can have within them a relationship between sky, land, water, or other more natural elements, but those elements are almost always dominated by elements of architecture. Consequently cityscapes demand a certain amount of softening on the part of the photographer. This is why Leading Lines are often far more important in cityscape photography than in landscape photography. To see my point, let’s compare a few examples of cityscape and landscape shots.

Let’s Break It Down

Cityscape Leading Lines

“Steel Sun”

“Fair Fare”

“Wharf Wheel”

Cityscape Framing

“Needle Arcs”

Cityscape Flanking

“Welcome to Texas”

Landscape Rule of Thirds

“Sunset Twigs”

“Sun Dabbled Dune”

“Lone Tree”

There are, of course, some exceptions to the rule that landscape shots are usually governed by Rule of Thirds and cityscapes are usually photographed using Framing, Flanking, or Leading Lines. I have listed a few examples of these exceptions below for you.

Landscape Framing Exceptions

“Twig Window”

Landscape Leading Lines Exceptions

“Split Sea Falls”

“Ice Streams”

“Dune Trek”

Cityscape Rule of Thirds Exceptions

“Midnight Carnival”


For this assignment, I want you to shoot cityscapes practicing the rules of Leading Lines, Flaming, Flanking and the Rule of Thirds. You must choose based on the photo’s intended subject, which of these four rules will best showcase your photograph’s subject. I want to see a minimum of 20 good photos captured using these techniques. Once you have done that I want to see another five photos in which you find some creative way to bend on of the above-mentioned rules. I highly suggest using static subjects for this bit of homework, although that is not mandatory. Good luck and have fun!

Until we meet again, I wish all of you brilliant flashes of perspective!

[ O*] Alycia

Flashes of Perspective: Angling Your Perspective

WistfulACS3x5A few months ago, I talked about the rule of Photo Saturation. In that lesson, I talked about the need for a photographer to shoot many photos of the same subject so that he or she can create the best quality image of that specific subject. While multiple shots are good, the trick with making Saturation work well for you is to shoot the subject from as many different angles and vantage points as possible, not just from the same position over and over again. It is this rule of shooting from multiple angles, which is called Viewpoint that makes the rule of Saturation so effective.

Let’s Get Started

Viewpoint allows a photographer to use a camera—any camera—to its fullest purpose. It is also a way for the photographer to directly convey a certain sense of emotion to the viewer. When a camera is placed at a certain angle relative to its subject, it will dramatically affect the way the viewer perceives that subject. Simply put, Viewpoint is a way for a camera’s angle and distance from its subject to maximize the photo’s emotional impact for the viewer.

For example, if a photographer shoots a small subject from a point below it, the subject will appear larger to the viewer. If, however, the photographer shoots the same subject while looking down on it, the subject will appear smaller.

Good photographers will always move around so that they can experiment in shooting the same subject from different physical and emotional angles. Some of these Viewpoint angles are: high-angle shots, bird’s-eye views, eye-level camera angles, low-angle shots, and worm’s-eye views.

Let’s Break It Down

High-Angle Shot

A high-angle shot is a shot in which the camera is physically higher than the subject, so that it is looking down toward the subject. This type of shot can make the subject seem small and therefore weak or vulnerable to the photograph’s viewer. Because I am short (I stand a measly five feet, two inches), I usually have to climb a latter or tree to get this type of shot.

“Forlorn in Black and White”


“Urban Salmon”

Bird’s-Eye View

A bird’s-eye view is an extreme version of the high-angle shot. Photographer’s often shoot this type of shot using a plane, a hot air balloon, a skyscraper, a crane or some other platform that can reach extreme heights.

“Sky Light Line”

“Floating Between Paths”

“Skeletal Terrain”

Eye-Level Shot

When the camera is level or looking at the subject straight on, this is termed an eye-level shot or neutral shot. It has little or no psychological effect on the viewer.

“Sunlit Spines”


“Crowned Glory”

Low-Angle Shot

When a photographer shoots a low-angle shot, he or she takes the photo from below the subject. This type of shot has the ability to make the subject look powerful or threatening to the viewer. Often photographers will use this type of shot when making a portrait of individual politicians or athletes to make each seem quite literally larger-than-life. The easiest way to get this type of shot is to shoot while sitting or kneeling on the ground in front of the subject and shoot up at it.

“First Dance”

“Colorful Launch”

“Dragon’s Gaze”

Worm’s-Eye View

A worm’s-eye view is an extreme version of the low-angle shot. To achieve this type of shot, a photographer usually has to lay flat on his or her belly and crawl on the ground to get the best photo.

“Morning Formation”

“Totems to the Sky”

“Wharf Wheel”


For this assignment, I want you to shoot three different subjects using the five different Viewpoints that I have discussed. Each of the three subjects must be photographed at a high-angle, from a bird’s-eye view, at eye-level, at a low-angle, and from a worm’s-eye view. This means that there should be at least 15 good photos captured of these three subjects. Once again, I suggest using static subjects for this bit of homework. Have fun!

Until we meet again, I wish all of you brilliant flashes of perspective!

[ O*] Alycia

Flashes of Perspective: The High Life of Highlights

Glacial_Highlights-AC4x6Hi, everyone! Welcome to the fourth Tuesday of October and this month’s photography lesson. I can’t wait to discuss with you one of my greatest allies in the creation of striking photographs: highlights. There is something truly magical when the sun’s rays illuminate a photograph’s subject at just the right angle. It reminds me of a perfectly pitched high note in a song. Highlights are so important in photography because they allow the photographer to draw the viewer’s eyes to an image’s subject by making that subject appear brighter than its surroundings.

Let’s Get Started

Highlights work a bit like the Photography Rule of Contrast. If you will recall, I explained in my lesson on Contrast that the color of a subject can make it stand out more than anything else in the image as long as that color directly contrasts the colors used elsewhere in the photograph. A classic example of this is a bright yellow subject against a dark purple background. Instead of contrasting colors; however, the rule of Highlights contrasts amounts of light within an image. A subject that is highlighted will always be more brightly lit than anything else in the image (except the source of the highlight itself).

There are three main types of highlights: spotlights, leading highlights, and backlights. Spotlights are the most common and simplest type of highlights. Spotlights specifically illuminate the whole front or the top of a subject to make it stand out from its surroundings. Leading lights are a bit more complicated. These highlights are shown as a literal line of light which begins at one point in the photo and ends at the photo’s main subject. The most common leading light is a ray of sunlight coming out of a break in the clouds to highlight a subject below the cloud break. Our eyes follow the line of light from its start to its end to see the subject it illuminates. Finally backlights light up a subject from behind rather than in front like spotlights. Backlights can be used to create a sort of halo-lit subject or they can be used to make a full silhouette of a subject.

Let’s Break It Down

Front Spotlights

“Gilded Autumn”

“Japanese Red”

“Stone Straws”

Top Spotlights

“Metallic Pinwheels”

“Pasta Illumination”

“Sun Dabbled Dune”

Leading Light

“Glacial Highlights”

“Heavenly Highlights, No. 1”

Backlight Halos

“Crowned Glory”

“Sunlit Spines”

Backlight Silhouettes

“Hammering the Sun”

“Sunrise Florets”

Photographer’s Note

Try to shoot your photos during times of day like early morning or late evening when the sun is low in the sky and therefore gives you a better chance of using long rays of light to highlight specific subjects. Some of the best natural light happens during the 30 minutes after sunrise and during the 30 minutes before sunset on a sunny day. You can also use man-made light for this assignment. Look for narrow beams of light that illuminate only one particular subject. Also be careful not to overexpose your photos. Otherwise your subjects will look blown out or washed out because of too much light centered on them. Play with your camera’s ISO and shutter speed to help fix any over-lighting problems. Also keep in mind that good highlights can appear and vanish quickly so plan your shots so that you can work rapidly and efficiently.


For this assignment, I want you to shoot 12 or more photos using the various highlighting techniques that I have discussed. Make sure that at least two photos demonstrate each type of highlight: spotlights, leading lights, backlit halos, and backlit silhouettes. I suggest using static subjects for this round of homework. Have fun!

Until we meet again, I wish all of you brilliant flashes of perspective!

[ O*] Alycia

SCRAWLS: Musings Edits, Alaska Aftermath, Book Reviews, and Other Updates

Ask_the_Owl-4x6ACThis morning found me sitting in my office chair with the sun streaming through the curtains of my window and the air outside registering a crisp 56 degrees Fahrenheit. Talk about a stark contrast from the high 90s of last week! Today would have been a perfect day to curl up under the covers and sleep late, but I think talking to all of you is far more fun.

As I have not posted an update about my general activities since July, I thought I really should do that today. As many of you know, I have been up to my eyeballs in Alaska vacation photos and Musingsshort story collection edits. And while much of my time has been spent on these two major projects, there is a lot more that goes on around the Cooke-Sears household than these. So here is the rundown of the many tasks that I have accomplished and the few chores still left on my agenda for October.

Since the last update, I have:

  • Finished all of my personal edits and completed the first round of beta readers’ edits for the novel Skinshifter. Now I am waiting on second-round beta readers to finish their edits so that I can give the book a final polish.
  • Rewrote two chapters of Dreamdrifter. I now have the rough drafts of chapters 1 through 16 completed and about 85,000 words written.
  • Continued editing and organizing the contents my soon-to-be-published Musings anthology. Anyone interested in beta-reading this or future projects should contact me HERE.
  • Read the Self Publishing Attack!: The 5 Absolutely Unbreakable Laws for Creating Steady Income Publishing Your Own Books by James Scott Bell. This is an informative and insightful book about the self-publishing movement and what it takes to maintain your professionalism as a self-published author.
  • Read Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maas. This is an incredible book about the craft of writing. I highly recommend it to novices and experts alike.
  • Read One Man’s Wilderness: An Alaskan Odyssey by Sam Keith and Richard Proenneke. This book is based on the journal of Richard “Dick” Proenneke, a man who decided to leave civilization behind for a year and a half in lieu of building his own log cabin in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness and surviving off the land. It is an interesting read for those wishing to understand what life is like beyond the hum of electricity or the convenience of running water.
  • Read Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School) by Gail Carriger. I am usually not much of a steam-punk fan, but this young adult fantasy book kept me turning the pages with gusto. All that I can say is that Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality is anything but a boring place to learn your p’s and q’s. Even though I’m in my 30s, I’d gladly go back to school if I could attend here!
  • Read the Bible during daily devotions. I am so proud of myself for doing this because I have not taken the time to do a daily devotional in recent years. Yay for a new habit turning into a good routine! By the way, if you are a new student of the Bible, I suggest beginning with the book of Romans and then following that by reading the gospel of John. These two books will help you understand the core principles that the Bible teaches. Also, I recommend using either the New International Version or the New King James Version (NKJV) translation. In my experience, these two English translations seem far more accurate than many others. If you prefer using a devotional in lieu of studying scripture chapter by chapter, you might try my First Fruits book.
  • Posted eight SCRAWLS blog posts discussing different writing topics and showcasing excerpts of my fiction work. In case you missed them, here are the links to the story excerpts from “Chosen Sacrifice”, “Raven’s Fall”, and “What Tendrils Echo”.
  • Posted three Flashes of Perspective blog posts teaching various photography techniques and sharing over 30 pieces of my art photography.
  • Finished several commercial photography shoots for private clients.
  • Processed and uploaded about 35 photos to my photography website. Find them all HERE.
  • Reorganized the website. If anyone has any more suggestions to improve the site, contact me please!
  • Went on a seven-day cruise with my husband through Alaska’s magnificent Inside Passage. Read the blog post about the journey HERE.
  • Culled through 2700 vacation photos to find the best photographs from the Alaska trip. I am still in the process of tweaking and uploading the best, so please be patient with me.
  • Learned how to use my camera’s video recording feature. Sometime soon I hope to include a few videos on Alycia
  • My husband and I visited my parents and friends of ours in Lubbock, Texas and visited Matt’s family in Laredo, Texas.
  • Helped my husband prepare and go through his Walk to Emmaus. He loved his walk as much as I loved mine!
  • Helped my husband prepare and leave on a three-week-long business trip. I was so bored without him that I made up chores just to have something to do.
  • Helped cook lunch after the funeral of one of my church’s members. It was a sad, but good gathering.
  • Took on a part-time job to help make ends meet. The government shut down has hit our family hard.

My goals for the next four weeks are to:

  • Finish all beta reader’s edits for Skinshifter.
  • Continue to pull older photos off of the photography website as I add new photography. I expect to add another 50 photos from vacation and an additional 20 from other photo shoots before I am finished redoing the photography website.
  • Finish the last personal edits of Musings and send it to my editor for final critique.
  • Continue to write the rough draft of Dreamdrifter. I will continue working on the book during NaNoWriMo this year. Since Musings has my main attention right now, I don’t expect to get 50,000 words written on Dreamdrifter. However, I do hope to add 20,000-30,000 words to it by the end of November.

Wow, remind me not to wait so long between updates! If you made it through all of that, you deserve a cookie! In any event, I am off to write some fiction. Until our next meeting, may we each rewrite our world for the better.

🙂 Alycia

The Seared Cookie Report: one Artist/Writer’s Labored Soliloquy (SCRAWLS) is brought to you from the desk of Alycia Christine Sears and/or Alycia C. Cooke with love and virtual baked goods for all. Please let me know your thoughts on this particular topic and, as always, if there is any subject you wish me to discuss, contact me. Thanks!

Flashes of Perspective: Saturation Makes Perfect

Egg_Tentacles_AC4x6For this article of Flashes of Perspective, I thought I would discuss with all of you the photography rule of Photo Saturation. Photo Saturation is a very important aspect of photography, especially if you are going to shoot photography professionally. It was the first rule that I learned to use in the classroom and it is always the first tool that I employ in the field.

Let’s Get Started

The rule of Photo Saturation is a simple one. Basically it is the idea of photographing a specific subject several times in order to get the best possible representation of that subject. Many artists and craftsmen will create rough sketches of their work before they actually execute the final product. A writer, for example, might create an outline of a story before he or she actually writes it. Then the writer will take the rough draft and refine it correcting grammar issues, punctuation problems, consistency errors, and other mistakes until at last she has a final draft. In photography these rough sketches or rough drafts come from repeated attempts to shoot the perfect photograph (i.e. photo saturation).

Let’s Break It Down

My personal approach to Photo Saturation is to have a rough idea in my head of what I want the final image look like before I start shooting a subject. Sometimes I have a clearer image in mind that others, but always I strive to shoot a subject from as many different angles and vantage points as possible so that I can create the best quality image. These multiple images are my rough drafts. I always have to stay flexible while I am photographing because sometimes the rough idea that I have in my head is not always as good as the best photo that I actually shoot in the field. The give and take between planned photos and the spontaneous bonus images that I get on-site is the main reasons why I photography so much. No matter how much I plan a shot beforehand there are always surprises once I step behind the lens. Photo saturation helps me make the most of the surprises and the planned shots.

Most of the time I shoot a ratio of 10 to 15 photographs for every one final image that I show others. When I started shooting photography at the age of 10, I was lucky if I had one good photograph out of every role of 36 that I shot. Years of practice, better equipment, and continuous tutelage has led me to have a far better photo ratio than when I began. My eventual goal is to have a photo ratio of closer to 1 in 5, but for now I am very pleased with what I have accomplished.

When my husband and I vacationed in Alaska this last month, I purposely overshot everything I saw. My use of Photo Saturation meant that I came home after a 10 day trip with over 2700 photos. Of those 2700 photos, I will upload maybe 200 total shots to my website. I will be the first to tell you that shooting that many photos for so few publishable results is a bit extreme, especially for me, but doing going to the extreme of Photo Saturation has allowed me to bring back and showcase the very best images possible from the trip. While so many photos from the trip were very good and my photo ratio averaged about 1 in 8, I only want to upload the photos that I think are of award-winning quality. After all, I think my art collectors deserve the best quality products possible.

Last week I presented 14 photos from my Alaska trip. This week I wanted to reveal 14 more photos to further share my adventures with you. I have also included the number of photos I took before finally getting that final awesome image to give you an idea of my personal use of Photo Saturation.

Static or Slow Subjects

I took 5 rough photos before I shot this final image of “Boardwalk Parasols”.

I took 4 rough photos before I shot this final image of “Flower Pack”.

I took 7 rough photos before I shot this final image of “Ice Streams”.

I took 23 rough photos before I shot this final image of “Mountain Ice”.

I took 4 rough photos before I shot this final image of “Sawed Rust”.

I took 3 rough photos before I shot this final image of “Wall Walker”.

I took 4 rough photos before I shot this final image of “Wooden Waterway”.

Moving Subjects

I took 36 rough photos before I shot this final image of “Cumulus Pontoon”.

I took 18 rough photos before I shot this final image of “Egg Tentacles”.

I took 21 rough photos before I shot this final image of “Pale Mountain Moon”.

I took 30 rough photos before I shot this final image of “Steller Beach”.

I took 13 rough photos before I shot this final image of “Triple Starbursts”.

I took 17 rough photos before I shot this final image of “Urban Salmon”.

I took 11 rough photos before I shot this final image of “Victoria Legislative Lights”. By the way, this photo is under moving subjects because I was riding in a bus at the time I shot the photos.

Photographer’s Note

It is important to remember that different subjects often require different amounts of Photo Saturation. In some cases, the photographer may have a lot of time to shoot a subject from different angles and vantage points. In other cases, you may only be able to snap a single photo. This last situation is especially true when dealing with moving subjects such as animals or small children. Do your best in each circumstance and stay adaptable. If you have the time use your Photo Saturation techniques to practice some of the other Rules of Photography. If not, just use your instincts to shoot the best possible photo of the subject that you can.


This assignment will be an odd one. I want you to shoot 30 images or more photos of only 2 different subjects. I suggest using static subjects for this round of homework. Statues or monuments work well for this project, but you can find other things too like architecture. Make sure that you look for unique subjects with lots of interesting angles because you will be shooting each subject a lot! Work until you get the very best portrait of that subject. Have fun!

Until we meet again, I wish all of you brilliant flashes of perspective!

[ O*] Alycia

Flashes of Perspective: The Beauty of Alaska

Blue_Fluke-AC4x6Matt and I had extraordinary vacation this year. For our five-year wedding anniversary, we took a seven-day cruise through Alaska’s Inner Passage. We began our journey by flying into Seattle, Washington on August 17. Since our cruise was scheduled to begin the next day, we decided to spend the afternoon and evening exploring Pikes Place market, riding the wharf Ferris wheel, and eating at one of my favorite Seattle restaurants: The Crab Pot. Unfortunately, Hemp Fest was going on while we were touring the city, so we had to take some roundabout paths to avoid all of the drug dealers and their usual patrons on our trips along the piers. Thanks to the help of our intrepid hotel concierge, we survived the ordeal and enjoyed our day’s brief sightseeing excursion.

Sunday, August 18, found us sleeping in, packing, and boarding the hotel shuttle bound for our ship the Golden Princess at noon. Within an hour we were on board our temporary floating home and enjoying the view of the Seattle harbor over the ship’s railing on Deck 14. The ship itself was absolutely beautiful and delightful. It featured 18 decks complete with three dining rooms, two specialty restaurants, a theater, a nightclub, a casino, an art gallery, several shops, multiple bars and lounges, four pools, a spa, a library, a wedding chapel, a video arcade, adults-only areas, teen-only areas, children-only areas, and lots of sleeping cabins. Our particular cabin was in the upper forward part of the ship near the spa and pool areas, which came in handy for whale-watching and dining trips.

Our first day aboard ship was spent entirely at sea. That morning proved especially rough for me since I apparently do get seasick fairly easily. Breakfast proved the worst part of my ordeal and so my saintly husband went to the medical bay in search of medicine, while I stared cross-eyed at my plate. After swallowing a couple of pills to relieve my motion sickness and strapping acupuncture bands around my wrists for good measure, I was fine for the rest of the day. Our evening proved quite enjoyable. My husband and I went to a formal dinner and were treated afterwards to a wonderful magic show, followed by the dance performance of two former members of the Russian ballet.

The morning of August 20 dawned bright but cold as our ship pulled into the harbor at Ketchikan, Alaska. I was on deck 14 with my camera to see the first rays of sun break the mists of the mountains upon our arrival. It was simply an extraordinary site and yet it paled in comparison to the beauty that awaited us on shore. Matt’s and my first excursion in Alaska was a visit to the Alaska Rainforest Sanctuary just outside the city. While touring the forest of moss-draped alder and spruce, our tour group came across the remarkable site of a mother black bear and her two cubs hunting salmon in the stream. The salmon were swimming upstream to spawn and the bears, ravens, and seagulls were all watching their fill of fish. Our trip through the sanctuary was topped off by having the chance to feed a local herd of caribou and see a master totem pole carver at work. After a few hours of gift shopping in town, my husband and I climbed back aboard the ship and made ready to sail to Juneau.

Our voyage to Juneau, Alaska cut through the heart of beautiful Tracy Arm Fjord. I was on deck 14 and 15 for hours in the bitter cold shooting photos of glaciers, icebergs, snowcapped mountains, green sea, and waterfalls. Those who know me understand how much I loathe being cold; however, my personal discomfort was well worth the result. Once we arrived in Juneau, Matt and I took a mile hike to see Mendenhall Glacier and its neighboring waterfall before hopping a bus back to the harbor and boarding a tour boat in search of whales. We saw not one but five humpback whales feeding in the waters. Four of the humpbacks were feeding together – a very rare habit for that particular species of whale. We also saw Steller sea lions basking in the sun. The surprise highlight of the trip; however, was the moment two bald eagles locked talons just outside the windows of our boat. Unfortunately, I did not get a clear photograph of the exchange, but the image of those two magnificent birds freefalling toward the ocean will remain in my mind for many years to come.

While our excursions in Ketchikan and Juneau proved surprisingly sunny, Skagway by odd contrast was very foggy. Consequently, our bus tour of Skagway and part of the Klondike Highway was shrouded in mist and gave the inuksuks built on the mountain tops a truly mystical appearance. Of the towns we visited, Skagway is by far the smallest. While Juneau sports 35,000 people and Ketchikan supports a few thousand, Skagway is home to only about 700 people during the winter. With the town lacks in population, it makes up for in rich history. Skagway was one of the main gateway cities for people coming from the lower 48 states in search of gold during the Klondike Gold Rush. During the height of the rush, the town topped 20,000 people–mostly living in tents. Despite the cleanliness of its buildings, there is still a rough-and-tumble spirit about the place left over from those earlier times. You can see it in the rock paintings that town artists use to welcome the cruise ships every summer. I suppose a town so dwarfed by the great wilderness would have to have a bit of a gritty streak to survive.

Our last stop before heading home was Victoria Island, British Columbia, Canada. We had little time to truly see the island since our ship docked at 7 o’clock in the evening on August 24. Matt and I ran through the Butchart Gardens as quickly as we could, so that we could see as much of the colorful flowers and plants in the waning daylight as possible. While the garden is lit at night, there really are not enough lamps to properly see the gardens after sunset. I am sad to admit that our tour of the garden was a bit of a bust, but our moods brightened considerably when the garden staff put on an exceptional fireworks display.

We were back on the ship and sailing home to Seattle for the next full day. Once we disembarked in Seattle, Matt and I checked into our hotel room and then spent the rest of our day touring museums, viewing the city from atop the Space Needle, and walking through the Dale Chihuly glass sculpture gardens. Finally, a plane ride, a quick stay at my aunt and uncle’s house, and a car drive brought Matt and I home to West Texas. While Alaska was absolutely gorgeous and I would love to go back, there is one thing that Texas just seems to do bigger than that huge state: gloriously-colored sunrises.

Obviously there are many more photos to come, but I hope this journal gives you all a good taste of the beauty and adventure we encountered during vacation. Until we meet again, I wish all of you brilliant flashes of perspective!

[ O*] Alycia

SCRAWLS: Photo Cull Alert and The Writing Comparison Trap

Inuksuk_Singular_AC4x6So far my September has seen lots of sniffling, many hours of photo processing, and a little writing. My husband and I got back from vacation on August 27, rested two days, repacked, and then spent Labor Day Weekend in Lubbock with my family. While there I developed a killer sinus infection which left me pretty much useless for half of last week. I muscled through the blog post last Tuesday, but didn’t work on any other writing or photography until Wednesday afternoon. Thursday saw me working on a fiction story called “Thorn and Thistle” and Friday found me sorting through the last of the 2700 or so photos I took on our Alaska Vacation.

I apologize that I have been unable to upload any additional photos from the trip besides last week’s blog photo “Totems to the Sky” and this week’s blog photo “Inuksuk Singular”. Processing the best photos from the trip has been very slow because I am being extra picky with which photos I want to include on the website. Incidentally, for those of you interested in purchasing my photos, I suggest doing so now. I am about to make a major cull of photos off the website to make room for the trip photos and I cannot guarantee which ones will be left standing when the dust clears.

Also look for a special issue of the Flashes of Perspective blog next week as your guide to my Alaskan adventures and all of the beautiful photos I shot while on tour. Today I will continue our discussion of SCRAWLS writing advice.

In our previous writing lesson we discussed how to cut your giant problems down to size. Today let’s talk about how to keep confidence in your writing.

Lesson 4: Don’t ever compare yourself to others.

I am a slow writer. Every time I sit down to write, I have to battle three different disabilities: dyslexia, attention deficit disorder, and perceptual dysfunction disorder. I’ll spare you the boring details of what each of these things do, but basically they all interfere with my ability to read in one way or another. Consequently I have made every imaginable excuse as to why I am not fit as a writer. And, guess what, they are all lies. I can write, I write well, and I love to write. In the end, these are the only reasons I need to be a writer. Writing is not always easy nor is it always fun, but it is always fulfilling and rewarding. I know some authors who write four or five times faster than I; most write at least twice as fast as I. Many of them write with more punctuation and spelling accuracy in their first draft as I do on my third! After years of comparing myself to others, I realized that it just was not worth the frustration it causes. I will always write slower and less accurately than some authors, but I will also write faster and “better” than others. In the end, no one else can write exactly the way I do or care to write about the same subjects that I like.

My writing is unique and that uniqueness is what makes it special. Your uniqueness is what makes your writing special. Do not ever let anyone try to change your writing unique voice to make it sound like someone else’s. God did not make you to be anyone other than you. Therefore you should be proud of the person that you are and the writing that you do. By all means, hone your craft and better your skills. Study correct grammar, punctuation, spelling, etc. so that your stories are technically well-written and therefore easier for others to read, but always be true to your own writing style!

Until our next meeting, may we each rewrite our world for the better.

🙂 Alycia

P.S. – I will continue reorganizing the website and my photography website through the end of September. Don’t forget to order your photo prints this week before I begin culling photos off the photography website. Expect more of the Alaska photos on the photography website on Tuesday, September 17, 2013. Thanks!

The Seared Cookie Report: one Artist/Writer’s Labored Soliloquy (SCRAWLS) is brought to you from the desk of Alycia Christine Sears and/or Alycia C. Cooke with love and virtual baked goods for all. Please let me know your thoughts on this particular topic and, as always, if there is any subject you wish me to discuss, contact me. Thanks!

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