Monday, 8 August 2011

I've moved---to wordpress

I have added a couple new posts to my wordpress blog.  I plan to continue that account, and discontinue this one.  I have found I prefer the wordpress format--so for those of you kind enough to follow me here--please feel free to check out my continued blog over there.  Also, there is an email option, if you would like to receive word of my new posts via email.  Thanks very much to the few of you who have read my blog here.  I truly appreciate it.

Monday, 1 August 2011

england IV

England IV, digital manipulation 2011
England IV, digital manipulation, 2011
For this piece I used three main images, two original photos (the pigeon and a quiet street scene) and a stock image of a British telephone box.  My photos were taken during a visit to the city of Bath with my parents.  I was delighted to have the opportunity to share such a stunning city with them.

Several layers of filters have been used on the background and the phone box.  I have adjusted the layers’ transparency and selectively erased areas closer to the foreground with a distressed eraser brush.  This made details of the red from previous layers below more visible.  I added another layer containing only the drawn portion of bird diagrams from a stock image over the background image.  These created a nice unity with the foreground pigeon and its grey color.  I have also used a couple filters on the pigeon photo, including the basic artistic cutout filter, which simplified the bird form.  The moon was taken from a stock illustration and creates a dreamy atmosphere within the piece.

Brushes used include handwritten text (upper right), branches (lower left), trees (upper left), cracked design elements (edges), organic spiraling lines (left), as well as a very subtle yellow wallpaper style brush (top).  I had each brush on a different layer.  This allowed me to hide each element and determine if the piece was growing too chaotic or if the elements appropriately added to the aesthetic of the work.  Not all design elements I play with throughout the development of my digital work end up visible in the final images.
Bath, 2011
Bath, photo/copyright: Carly Swenson 2011
Pigeon, 2011
Pigeon, photo/copyright: Carly Swenson 2011
British phone booth, stock image: Liquid Library
British phone booth, stock image: Liquid Library
Brid heads diagram, stock image: Liquid Library
Bird heads diagram, stock image: Liquid Library
Sad moon, stock image: Liquid Library
Sad moon, stock image: Liquid Library

Wednesday, 27 July 2011


The Waiting, photo manipulation 2011

I have an addiction to photographing the abandoned building I find all around this beautiful island.  I am completely drawn to them, despite the insects, mold, and scratchy plant life that inevitably await me within and around these structures.  Because of this recent obsession, I have an abundance of photos of these vacant homes.  Some homes have had parts of their roofs collapsed from the 1980s earthquake, and debris covers the floor; some are already mostly dilapidated and overgrown with plant life.  Others have rooms which have remained moderately intact, framed photos still adorning the water stained walls, furniture sets and empty cabinets covered with layers of dust, mold and often damaged my insects.  These are the rooms that most intrigue me.  Forgotten books, papers and monochrome family photos littering shelves, reminds me other humans once lived here.  Those people had their own passions, struggles and memories. 

What he wrote... photo manipulation, 2011
In reality, I don’t think any of these places are haunted.  However, the concept of these places having been deeply personal spaces, now quietly deserted causes me to contemplate the unique histories of these rooms.  This contemplation combined with the appealing aesthetic of antique photos and early photographic attempts to provide evidence of ghosts is the inspiration for my most recent Haunted series of digital photo manipulations.

Who's the Fairest? photo manipulation, 2011
In these works, I used my own original photos from abandoned buildings and homes to set the scene for each piece. I then found an appropriate black and white antique image that seemed to best fit the setting.  The images I used were from a Dover clip art publication, Great Photographs from Daguerre to the Great Depression.  This helps me to avoid any copyright infringement issues. 

Sepia photo filters (or a layer of black and white), rendering fibers and adjusting curves on different versions of the same background image was the main way I altered the original photo to create an aged aesthetic.  Once I had these varying layers, I would erase portions of the each (and/or adjust opacity), removing the top layers allowed the lower layers to become subtly visible adding a depth to the background.

It's Raining, It's Pouring... photo manipulation, 2011
The ghosting effects were created with a free photoshop dreamy filter plugin, downloaded from  Through the use of several layers, varying opacity, and erasing different areas on the figure, I achieved this eerie ghostly effect.

Friday, 22 July 2011

nature reclaims itself

Janela Verde, photo/copyright: Carly Swenson 2011

As I mentioned before, Terceira has many abandoned and desolate structures.  These contemporary ruins fascinate me.  I admire how nature seems to have an unlimited ability to reclaims itself.  
Grown Among Broken Glass, photo/copyright: Carly Swenson 2011
Once these structures are neglected, the paint peels away; dust and dirt accumulate and cracks form in the concrete allowing roots take hold.  Foliage growth is now uninhibited by humans, ivy begins to adhere to the walls and roof tiles begin to disintegrate under plant growth.  I find a very comforting beauty in all this.  I love this reassurance that nature persists far past our ability to contain it and our environmentally destructive tendencies.  Walking past these overgrown buildings causes a tranquil feeling within me, leaving me momentary at peace.  

Doorways I, photo/copyright: Carly Swenson 2011

Overgrown, photo/copyright: Carly Swenson 2011
It's not the earth that's in trouble, it's the people who live on it.  Earth will be here long after we've all gone...--the streets

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Page Phases: Every Six Seconds

Image 1:  
I have used blue and white acrylic paints with a hint of violet iridescent powder.  The paint was initially mixed on the right page with a 1” wide flat brush and then moved about the pages with a palette knife.  The powder creates a rich shimmery color, but a little goes a long way.  It can be difficult to control if you are only looking for a very limited use.  For this I had the powder under the paper, when I wet the paper with paint the color was allows to soak through.  I then let the paint dry.

Image 1 
Image 2:  
With the paper dampened, I brushed a very small amount of the violet powder, mixed with only a brush of orange iridescent powder; this made the color warmer.  I allowed the water and paper to move the color, which created the more subtle gradations from color to white space—and again, I let everything dry.  If I were to glue on papers or additional images, they would soak up this color.  That may be an effect you are looking for; it is an effect I sometime utilize.  However, for these pages, I wanted to keep the colors contained in the background.

Image 2
Image 3: 
I used matte medium to attach the angel image on the left and the white floral paper.  This paper is nice because when moistened by adhesive the white becomes translucent.  This creates a stronger contrast with the pink of the floral pattern, as well as allowing the background elements to be partially seen through the paper.  I also added more acrylic paint with a hint of black ink and painted the water up onto the image to make the waves the foreground.

Image 3
Final Image:
These are the completed pages.  I attached the text, buildings in the background, the chair, faces, the profile of the woman, and brown patterned paper.  To finish the pages, I drew with permanent black India ink markers, accentuating details and adding to the buildings and streets.

Every Six Seconds, 6"x6" visual journal pages, 2011