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Would It Kill You To Listen?

July 27th, 2018

Would It Kill You To Listen?

I finished editing this lovely image of a rickety old bridge and was searching for a good quote to go along with it for posting on social media. I liked this one by Turkish playwright Mehmet Murat Ildan:

"In the middle of nowhere, an old wooden bridge is a golden bridge!"

Fitting as it was, I found this one by Stephen Covey, the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People guy:

"Most people don't listen with the intent to understand, they listen with the intent to reply."

And I decided to go with the Covey quote because this is a topic that I've been obsessing on lately. The older I get, the more I realize that people are seemingly intent upon speaking more, dominating a conversation, word vomiting and getting the last word. A lot of folks lack the skill to listen and process what the other person is saying (empathy, anyone?) and are hell-bent on being right (even if they're wrong).

When I was younger, I had the impression that those who speak a lot must be smarter than me. Not always true! By nature, I'm an observer and a listener. I'd rather listen and learn, and speak when I know what I'm talking about. I'm not the best at thinking on my feet or bullshitting my way through a conversation. In fact, I'm a deer in headlights if I don't know how to respond, causing the other person to say things like, "Are you with me?" Yes, I am, but this is my processing face. Or, my "listening to understand" face as Covey so eloquently phrases it.

Unfortunately, when I'm done processing and ready to speak, I often can't get a word in. I open my mouth to speak and the other person is already speaking over me and onto the next topic. Or they've completely cut me off or finished my sentence for me. A great example of this phenomenon can be seen nightly on CNN when there's a panel of 3 or 4 "experts" and they're all speaking over each other and saying things like, "let me finish, let me finish, let me finish." There's always that person who will keep speaking about nothing over others, just to prove they can be the dominant speaker. Those aren't conversations, they're competitions and completely unproductive.

If what I've said resonates with you, maybe you can try listening to understand a little more. Covey call this listening with empathy: "When you listen with empathy to another person, you give that person psychological air. And after that vital need is met, you can then focus on influencing or problem solving."


New York State of Mind

May 26th, 2018

New York State of Mind

I have been nostalgic for all things New York since I left the place in 1991, but the trip I took back there last month somehow intensified those feelings and I've been in a New York State of Mind ever since I returned to San Diego.

Click or copy and paste into browser for more:

https://www.naturaliimages.com/naturali-speaking/new-york-state-of-mind

Kittie's Orchid

May 6th, 2018

Kittie

Here is an example of a gallery wrapped canvas print with mirrored sides. The sheen on this one is glossy, but matte is also available upon check out. The canvas is stretched around a wood frame and finished with a wire backing so it's ready to hang. My printer is top of the line when it comes to quality. I know other vendors use a faux canvas but this is the real deal! Most importantly, the details of the image stand out as crisp and clean and translate onto the canvas as tack sharp as the appear in the digital image.

​This one is entitled, "Kittie's Orchid," but if you are looking for another option for floral wall art, there are several choices in my Floral Gallery. Shipping rates apply and each item is securely packed and safely shipped directly to you. As always, there is a 100% satisfaction guarantee for 30 days. Feel free to contact me for further information.

Art on Paper 2018

March 18th, 2018

Art on Paper 2018

If you will be in or around the NYC area next week, be sure to check out the Art on Paper Fair at Manhattan's Pier 36, March 8-11, where eighty galleries will feature top modern and contemporary paper-based art. Click or copy and paste below for more:

www.naturaliimages.com/naturali-speaking/art-on-paper-2018

Easter is coming - April 1

March 18th, 2018

Easter is coming - April 1

Now is the time to order these special beachy Easter cards. Click or copy and past below for more information:

www.naturaliimages.com/naturali-speaking/easter-is-coming-april-1-order-cards-now

First Place - Best of San Marcos

March 18th, 2018

First Place - Best of San Marcos

I entered the annual "Best of San Marcos" photo contest through the City of San Marcos and won first place! My image, Discovery Street, will be featured in the next issue of San Marcos 360 magazine as well as on the city's website, promotional materials and other city publications.

Click or copy and paste below for more...

https://www.naturaliimages.com/naturali-speaking/first-place-best-of-san-marcos

Tips About Ordering a Canvas Print

February 24th, 2018

Tips About Ordering a Canvas Print

So, you've browsed through all the Naturali Images galleries and you're ready to purchase a a canvas print, right? Before adding it to the cart, make sure you're aware of all the options available, especially the type of "wrap," which in my opinion is a crucial choice.

What Exactly is Fine Art America?

February 18th, 2018

What Exactly is Fine Art America?

When I was searching for a way to sell my greeting cards, I went through several options before deciding on Fine Art America as my vendor. I have a ton of samples from various companies, even Walmart! There were pros and cons to each. Some were preferable because there was no outside company logo on the back but the print quality was poor. Some looked like they came right off my home inkjet printer. One company didn't offer envelopes with the cards, which I thought was bizarre. Needless to say, I went through quite a bit of research.

Ultimately what led me to Fine Art America was the exceptional quality, drop shipping option (I don't need to stock inventory), the ability for buyers to customize the cards (try it!), user-friendly interface and reasonable membership fees. Then I discovered in addition to greeting cards, I can offer prints, framed prints (with a ton of options), metal prints, acrylic prints, wood prints and a host of products including cell phone cases, yoga mats, mugs, totes and more.

Basically, Fine Art America (FAA) is an online marketplace founded by Sean Broihier in 2006. From what I understand, Broihier wanted a more universal name for the company so he changed it to Pixels. Pixels and FAA are basically the same thing. All of my work is available on both sites at the same price points. Interchangeable. An artist's membership also comes with an individualized site known at the Artist Website (AW). So for a nominal annual fee, customers can find my images on Pixels.com, Fineartamerica.com and on my AW, alison-frank.pixels.com. And by visiting the store right here on naturaliimages.com, you can browse through all my products (seriously, there's a lot).

So that's it! I get to do the fun stuff (creating images) and the rest is up to FAA/Pixels. Now, feel free to browse!

The New Yorker - Cartoon Greeting Cards

February 10th, 2018

If you're a fan of The New Yorker cartoons, this Conde Nast Store (https://condenaststore.com/collections/best+of+new+yorker+cartoons+2017/greeting+cards?page=2) is a great site to purchase your faves in the form of a greeting card. And, just like my NaturAli greeting cards, you can customize the inside message. This one cracked me up because it's totally me (https://condenaststore.com/products/man-asks-electrician-whether-or-not-he-wants-to-engage-in-small-talk-benjamin-schwartz-greeting-card.html). I hover. Can't help myself. It's not so much a trust issue (okay, maybe it is), as it is a natural curiosity about how things work. When my dad used to tinker with the car engine, I was front and center, unlike my sister who could care less and was likely inside with a book. I'll admit, the cable guy recently called me out on my micromanagement behavior. As he sat there troubleshooting on his makeshift stool in the form of an upside down 5 gallon bucket, his comments still linger in my head. "Ma'am, if you don't mind, I prefer to work alone." Alrighty then, I get it the hint.

Of course there's no shortage of political humor, as well as stuff that just cracks you up. I love the weekly caption contest and have even entered a few times. It's always fun to see what clever things people come up with.

View this post with live links here

Winner Spotlight, Wes Iversen

February 6th, 2018

Winner Spotlight, Wes Iversen

I recently hosted a contest, Rustic Farmhouse Wall Art, via Fine Art America. I love this type of decor and think it makes some of the best wall art. Because it's such diverse category, the entries were quite varied but they all had that same country feel of warmth and comfort.

There were 230 pieces of artwork submitted and the winning entry was from Wes Iversen, A Window to the Past. The impressive HDR image was taken at the Chippewa Nature Center, near Midland, Michigan, which includes a homestead site that depicts rural life in Michigan as it was in the 1870s.

"When I visited the homestead site on a Spring day last year, I did not have any particular image in mind, but was simply looking for good subjects to photograph," says Wes. But the homestead buildings were actually closed during his visit and he describes how he managed to get the shot.

"I was able to capture the handheld HDR shot through the glass on a door to the kitchen. Even though I tried to steady my camera by bracing the lens against the glass, the longest of the three exposures that I took showed some blur, so the image was created by combining only the two shorter-exposure shots. I used Photomatix Pro software to combine the two images into a single high dynamic range (HDR) shot. I then adjusted contrast and sharpened the image in post processing using Photoshop and other tools, and added texture to achieve the vintage look," explains Wes.

Originally from Chicago, Wes moved to Grand Blanc, Michigan, in 2016. Most of his images were taken after 2011 when he retired from a long career in journalism. He is inspired by all types of photography from macros to landscapes, and strives to produce images that tell a story. "Since moving to Michigan, I have particularly been enjoying the opportunity to photograph local wildlife, especially the birds and waterfowl in State Parks and preserves near my new home," he says.

Congratulations, Wes, on your first place win. Such a gorgeous and impressive image.

The Results Are In

January 28th, 2018

The Results Are In

I recently hosted a contest, "Action," in which participants were given the opportunity to submit images or paintings that conveyed a sense of action or movement. 433 pieces of artwork were submitted by 229 members. 2nd and 3rd place winners received an announcement on Social Media. The prize for first place is this feature on my blog! There were four joint winners for first place.

Mark A. Brown submitted his amazing image, Me Me Me, depicting a barn swallow swooping in to feed its young. It was a spontaneous capture from his back deck in Marion, Iowa.

"I was sitting outside on my deck having a coffee. We had a brief morning rain and the sun started to emerge from the clouds. Not long after, the adult swallows began flying close to the deck - doing acrobatic maneuvers and capturing mosquitoes. Several juvenile swallows settled onto the deck railing, with beaks open, begging to be fed. I quickly retrieved my camera and began shooting as many shots as I could. The swallows did not appear to be threatened by my presence," says Mark.

Mark is a talented photographer who is inspired by the night sky, nature and still life.

Joe Schofield submitted his epic shot, Catch Me. It was shot at the Wedge, a well known body surfing locale in Southern Calif at the Balboa peninsula.

"I will go to The Wedge to shoot when it is breaking. On occasion it will break 20+ feet at the face," says Joe.

Residing in San Pedro, Joe says he is inspired by the creative process with RAW images. "I am drawn to the ocean, the desert and my garden for subject matter," he says.

Joy McAdams is another joint winner for her image, Yikes!, shot in Kootenay Lake, British Columbia, Canada.

"I did go out looking for this shot, or that of eagles/osprey catching fish. There is a creek where salmon gather to spawn every fall near where I live. At the mouth of it where it empties into the lake is quite shallow and plentiful of fish, Easy pickings for wildlife looking for their next meal but you often see squabbles over territory and fishing rights. Such was the case in this image. The really interesting thing about this photo is that it was taken with a friend's loaner equipment, all very unfamiliar to me. Needless to say, I upgraded my set-up shortly afterward," says Joy.

Joy is inspired by nature but doesn't like to limit herself. "I am compelled to shoot landscapes, atmospheric events, wildlife, macro. At the same time, there is nothing I love more than to capture human expression and feelings," says Joy. "I can’t give a definitive answer - I suppose it is my Pisces personality coming to the forefront," she add. Yes, I can completely relate, I'm a Pisces too! (And left handed!)

Finally, we have Andrea Spritzer's The Vertical Hold, shot in Matlacha, Florida. The image depicts an Osprey with its catch of the day. What a shot!

According to Andrea's bio, she says, "Photography is a wonderful/amazing way to 'escape' the difficulties of each day. I am a naturalist, therefore, I do not use Photoshop of any kind, and don't even own it. What you see with my photos is what you get."

Andrea lives in Venice, Florida.

And that's a wrap! Thank you to all who participated in the Action contest. Until next time...


Action

January 27th, 2018

Action

I'm really happy to be hosting my first Fine Art America contest, Action! Artists are invited to submit up to two images that convey action or a sense of movement. I'm truly blown away by all of the talented people who have submitted their work. A few that immediately stand out to me are Tango Dancers by Farideh Haghshenas, and Martin Konopacki's restoration of Marge and Gower Champion 1952. I guess I like dancing! Many beautiful long exposure waterfalls were submitted as well as surfers shredding it up.

Voting commences on January 23, 2018 through January 26, 2018. The winner will be featured in an interview on this blog and the 2nd and 3rd place winners will have their images featured on my Facebook page, NaturAli Images.

Thank you to all who submitted so far and good luck!