I have taken some time to learn adobe illustrator a bit better lately, so I can start using vectors for some artwork. Vectors have the advantage of being scalable, and I can work in with big documents without too much trouble. But I did find it to be a bit of a difficult skill to learn. I had the help of some great tutorials at least.
Around christmas, I traveled to my hometown to visit my family. Now when I´m there, I always visit the local art supply store and get something new. They might not have the best selection, but it´s owned by some very nice and knowledgeable people. This year, I got myself a sketchbook and a pack of six Faber Castell pitt artist pens in earth tones. It´s the variety that has a brush tip and I mostly intended to use them as a tool for sketching. It should be noted that the brush tip is pretty hard. It´s not like what you find on a copic marker for example, and it´s not a brush with individual hairs. So if that´s what you´re looking for this might not be for you. They looked like a nice addition to the warm and cool greys I already own.
The colors included were walnut brown, caput mortuum, raw umber, dark naples ochre, cinnamon and terracotta. All the colors have the highest of the ratings for lightfastness, wich is given on a scale from one to three where one is worst. I haven´t verified if they actually hold up to longer exposures to daylight however, since I mostly use them in a sketchbook. But I never heard a complaint about it, at least.
I included some photos to give an idea about what kind of results you can expect from this type of pen. The sketchbook used is a little bigger than A5 in size and the paper is fairly thin and smooth. The pens didn´t bleed through to the other page, which is important if you intended to use them in a sketchbook. I think they could be interesting to use on bristol board, but have yet to try that.
How do you prefer to do your sketching?
This summer I moved to the third largest city in Sweden, Malmö. It´s a lot further south than my hometown, wich means the season for flowers last a lot longer.
These photos are from a visit to the castle garden. The castle garden is fully organic and contains several themed gardens as well as a vegetable garden.
My original intention was to photograph some of the birds in the area, so i only brought my 55-300mm lens along. But the birds turned out to be few and far away, so i turned my attention to the flowers instead. The lens was not the perfect tool for the job, but worked well enough.
I started this drawing of a phoenix some time ago, but I´ve had some trouble finishing it. I feel like there is some more work to be done on it, especially on the background. But I´m not sure how to do it. I guess you just get stuck sometimes.
This seems to be a frequent problem for me when working digitally. Sketching is fine, and I can see some advantages over doing it traditionally. But when it comes to doing fully developed artwork I just find it very awkward and time-consuming. I guess I need some more experience to figure out how I´m supposed to be doing things. What do you think about working digitally?
When I got my new and shiny telezoom that I wrote about here, I also got a renewed interest in bird photography. Since this lens is lighter and more flexible than the 400mm beast I´ve used previously i end up bringing it along a lot more frequently.
The birds that live in this park have the advantage of being easy to find and quite comfortable around humans, since people feed them a lot. So it´s a great place for practice.
I ended up with a lot more noise in the pictures then I would have liked, wich is something to improve on next time. It was also a very sunny day with a clear bluer sky. So the light was a bit to harsh for my taste. There were lots of black shadows and bright white highlights. But at least I learned something.
I processed these in a few different ways, with some receiving noise reduction. But for the most part it´s just some colour correction and level adjustments. The bird with the red beak had some major problems with areas being either under or overexposed, so I experimented a lot with that one. It looks a lot better now than it did before, but i feel like there´s a limit to how much time I´m willing to spend on it. It´s a pretty bird though.
Early this summer I bought a new lens for my camera. It´s my first completely new and modern lens, and I´ve been enjoying it quite a bit. When i bought it, I had the intention of bringing it with me during my yearly visit to the zoo. unfortunately, I have yet to visit any zoos. I´ve been very busing, moving to a beautiful new apartment in a new city. But we will talk some more about that later. Now, back to the lens.
I choose the DA 55-300 because it seemed like a good performer for a good price. I was not disappointed in that regard. It also has quick shift, wich means you can adjust focus manually even though you’re using autofocus. It´s really useful. A lens hood is also include, as well as a soft bag to keep the lens in. I think the build quality is good, but it does extend out quite a bit when zooming, wich leads to it feeling a bit unbalanced at times when I use it on my k-r. It would probably fit well on a bigger camera.
Since i only have two autofocus lenses from before, one of them rarely used, I was very excited about trying it out. It was a pretty pleasant experience. For the most part, the autofocus is rather accurate. I got some nice and sharp photos i normally would have missed. I also value this because it means the lens can be used by my family members with ease. There are some problems in this area however. The major one being that the autofocus uses a screw operated mechanism that tends to sound like a chainsaw. Wich is a problem, since most animals apparently dislike the sound of chainsaws. This is most noticeable when it has a hard time finding anything to focus on. So for shy animals, manual is the way to go.
The manual focus works pretty well. It´s not like my old and fully manual lenses, but I found it to be a lot better than my kit lens. The zoom ring is very wide, and there is no zoom creep that I know of.
The zoom range is very useful, and I was really lacking good lenses in the 55-300 range. It´s a good lens to match up with the 18-55 kit lens for a lightweight travel kit. All the pictures in this post were taken on my first day with the lens and are converted from raw format with no processing so you can get an idea of how this lens performs. I tried to include a variety of subjects.
What´s your favorite lens?
This is one of the few drawings I have finished lately. I wanted to experiment with making a more abstract version of something that would still be recognizable.
I made this using a variety of different markers, mostly promarkers and copic sketch. It´s on bristol board, wich I bought a while back because it was smooth and heavyweight. It was also recommended by a lot of people. Can´t say I`m a fan though, unfortunately. The copics looked speckled on it, and the ink kept bleeding over the edges. That´s something i have a hard time with. So I don´t think I will buy any more of it.
This time I did a sketch on a separate paper before transferring it over to the bristol board. I prefer working that way, since my sketches tend to be messy.
Picking out the colours was something I found to be difficult. It was easier for the sky, but I´m less than pleased with the ground.
I feel like I learned a lot while working with this. Both about my markers, about colour and about abstraction. There will likely be at least a few more drawings made in this style. Do you have any ides for subjects?