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August 31, 2010

Hi fans!

Check out my new website:, where you will find my latest posts and portfolio work.

This is my old website, but for some reason I couldn’t link it to the new one.


Meeting Scott Kelby in Atlanta Twice!

May 29, 2010

Thank goodness for facebook ads.  Or else, I never would have had such an amazing day at Scott Kelby’s Photoshop For Digital Photographers seminar!

About three weeks ago I saw a facebook ad introducing the Scott Kelby tour!  If you don’t know who Scott Kelby is, shame on you!  Actually, here is your chance to discover an amazing instructor, professional, and photoshop-maniac.  Currently he is the Editor-in-Chief for Layers Magazine, Photoshop User magazine and President of the National Association of Photoshop Professionals (NAPP).

NAPP is the world’s leading resource for Adobe Photoshop training, news, and education.  It has become the largest graphics and digital imaging association in the world with more than 100,000 members worldwide.  I joined because the membership includes:

-Annual subscription to Photoshop User Magazine

-Access to the members-only website with time and money-saving content

-Registration seminar and conference discounts, as well as other savings such as B&H and various software discounts

-Monthly e-newsletter produced with informative and exciting content

Of course not to mention the special freebies that I received including:  WordPress Basics For Photographers (a 2 disc dvd set), Adobe Dreamweaver CS4 For Beginners, and Photoshop CS4 Down & Dirty Tricks.   The seminar included Scotts 7 Point System for Camera raw, Portrait Retouching, Killer Photoshop Tips for Photographers, Printing Techniques and How to Show Your Work, and Photoshop Editing Workflow from Start to Finish.  Scott’s such a genius!  He’s funny too.  The entire seminar was informative & exciting, and the information is extremely applicable to everyday photography retouching and graphic design.  I feel very prepared and confident in photo retouching now whether it’s wedding photography to landscape photography to product photography.  We learned about shooting and stitching panos that work every time, relighting a scene, double processing images, and even quick and easy HDR (you know the Harry Potter look).

The most exciting news I have is that I met Scott Kelby twice in two days!  I met him first at the High Museum of Art.  He was taking photographs of The Allure of the Automobile exhibition.  This afternoon at the seminar I spoke to him again, and he said he got some great shots but spent the entire night removing all the halogen light reflections on the automobiles until about 2 a.m.  J  He then signed my book and received my Social Brand Aid business card.  How amazing!  Scott Kelby knows about my company.  He thought the name was very clever.  I feel great things coming this year especially since I just learned some great retouching and creative tips for my photography and graphic design.  I encourage you all to check out his website for tips and training, and I bet you’ll get sucked into the Photoshop world within a few hours.

If you are interested in following Scott Kelby’s tutorials, blog, and challenges.  For online training visit,  If you want tips from me, email me at  Happy Photoshopping!

Robert Weingarten: The Portrait Unbound

March 23, 2010

As printmaker interested in collage and photography, I really admire his use of layering of photographic images.  This exhibition questions whether or not a portrait can be created with representation of a character’s life achievements and symbolic traits.  Hope you can get the opportunity to check out the exhibit!  My favorite piece is Alice Waters.

Robert Weingarten was born in New York City in 1941 and graduated from Baruch College with a Finance degree in 1962. Although photography had always been a passion, it was not until the 1990s that Weingarten abandoned a successful career in business to pursue art full time. Weingarten’s photographs have been shown in more than 70 exhibitions worldwide. His work is included in the permanent collections of the George Eastman House, the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art, among others.

Robert Weingarten’s photography series The Portrait Unbound represents a bold departure from traditional portraiture. Using layers of imagery that allude to specific interests, achievements or moments within the subject’s life, Weingarten digitally creates large-scale composite images that describe his subjects through biographical rather than physical information.

This exhibition features twenty-one images that represent notable individuals from the worlds of art, science, politics and sports. Weingarten’s subjects include such icons as Hank Aaron, Buzz Aldrin, Chuck Close, Jane Goodall, Dennis Hopper and Colin Powell.  (Courtesy of

Just traveled to Seattle… the city for coffee lovers!

March 15, 2010

Seattle is the perfect city for coffee lovers!  I just got back last weekend and enjoyed my whole trip.  Not only was I wired off of coffee the whole trip, but I enjoyed all my coffee till the last drop.

Every corner I looked there was a coffee or pastry shop.  Tully’s and Zeitgeist were some local favorites… but of course Starbucks and Seattle’s Best were nearly at every corner as well.  For pastries, you can’t beat the french store, Le Panier!  I stopped by three times during my trip for fresh bread, french macroons, orange almond tea cookies, and raspberry croissants!  For scones I think Specialty’s wins!  They had some great sandwiches as well.
Next time you are in Seattle be ready for some a caffeine and sugar high!  Until then, check out the article below for some coffee recommendations.  I tend to buy Dunkin’ Donuts Hazelnut.  What about you?

Big Bite Taste Test: Supermarket Coffee

Which coffee is best? We sipped through dozens of choices from the grocery store to figure out our favorites.

BEST INSTANT: Maxwell House Instant Coffee
Our tasters described this dark-colored quickie as full, smooth and nutty. “It tastes like coffee!” enthused one surprised cynic; another called its vanilla zing “heavenly.” Read full review »

BEST DECAF: Dunkin’ Donuts Dunkin’ Decaf
Tasters commented on its “nutty, round” and even “cake-ish” flavor, calling it a “sweetie-pie pick-me-up” and the “perfect sip.” Read full review »

BEST CLASSIC: Starbucks French Roast
Our panelists would brew this blend anytime of day, claiming it’s a “solid wake-me-up coffee,” perfect for “some midday oomph” or a “delightful nightcap.” Read full review »

BEST ORGANIC/FAIR-TRADE: Allegro Coffee Company Rwanda Karaba Whole Bean

This earthy blend is a “full, serious coffee—not for wimps,” warned one panelist. The beans, produced by the Koakaka cooperative outside the village of Karaba, would pair irresistibly with any doughnut. (at Whole Foods Markets) Read full review »

BEST FLAVORED: Community Coffee & Chicory New Orleans Blend
In a fiercely competitive category, the deep Arabica beans and bittersweet chicory of this chirpy NOLA favorite made for a “smooth finish”; one panelist found it “bold, rich and classy.” ( Read full review »

ARTICLE BY Ashlea Halpern | Photography by Levi Brown

TOP Five Most Expensive Paintings of All Time

March 15, 2010

Millions and Hundreds of Millions of dollars are spent every year by the wealthy seeking a highly sought after piece of art. Following is a list of the Top Ten Most Expensive Paintings of All Time and an explanation of what makes them so special and worth the exorbitant price.

1. Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer by Gustav Klimt ($135,000,000)

This record breaking sale was enabled by a court order by the Austrian government to return the painting to the Artist’s rightful heir. The entire dispute lasted over a year and was necessary to return the painting that was looted by the Nazis during World War II.

Skillfully painted in 1907 by the art nouveau master Gustav Klimt, the painting was purchased by Ronald S. Lauder, the cosmetics heir, in 2006.

2. Garçon à la Pipe by Pablo Picasso ($104,100,000)

Created during the Rose Period, Garcon a la Pipe showcases Picasso’s exceptional use of cheerful orange and pink palatte.

The oil on canvas painting, measuring 100 × 81.3 cm (slightly over 39 × 32 inches), displays a Parisian boy holding a pipe in his left hand.

The record price auction at the time on May 4, 2004 in Sotheby’s was a bit of a surprise to the core art buyers, because it was painted in the style not usually associated with the pioneering Cubist artist.

3. Dora Maar with Cat by Pablo Picasso ($95,200,000)

Another enormous surprise followed in 2006, when this painting near doubled its inaccurate presale estimate and brought in new record $95,200,000 at auction at Sotheby’s on May 3, 2006.

Painted in 1941, Picasso’s controversial portrait (one of his last) is sometimes described as an unflattering depiction of his mistress, Dora Maar, who was an artist/photographer and mistress of Picasso whose relationship lasted ten years during the 1930s and 40s.

4. Portrait of Dr. Gachet by Vincent van Gogh ($82,500,000)

This painting by the Dutch Impressionist master Vincent van Gogh suddenly became world-famous when Japanese businessman Ryoei Saito paid $82.5 million for it at auction in Christie’s, New York. Saito was so attached to the painting that he wanted it to be cremated with him when he died. Saito died in 1996 … but the painting was saved.

Vincent van Gogh actually painted two versions of Dr Gachet’s portrait. You can view the other version, with a slightly different color scheme, at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.

5. Bal Au Moulin de la Galette by Pierre-Auguste Renoir ($78,000,000)

Bal au moulin de la Galette, Montmartre was painted by French artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir in 1876. On May 17, 1990, it was sold for $ 78,000,000 at Sotheby’s in New York City to Ryoei Saito, who bought it together with the Portrait of Dr Gachet (see above).


The Small Business Guide to Google Apps

March 13, 2010

Google Apps for business has a number of benefits over traditional business IT and desktop software. Using the full suite essentially places all of your data and entire workflow in the cloud, meaning you can access it all anywhere, anytime, from any Internet connection.

At $50 per user per year, the fully integrated apps system is certainly cost-effective, and even adding the free versions of Gmail, Calendar, and Google Docs into your workflow can keep your employees coordinated.

For more casual users, or even those who might not be acquainted with Google Apps, here’s a guide to how the software can benefit your small business.


The many advanced features of Gmail really make it a leap forward in the web-based e-mail space, and a lot of these are ideal for business.

If you’re not ready to take the full plunge into the paid Google Apps suite, you can still configure Gmail to function as your business e-mail client through your existing domain name by following the steps outlined in my post, “How to Set Up Gmail as Your E-mail Business Client.”

The first big advantage of Gmail, like all the apps discussed here, is that it functions in the cloud. You don’t have to worry about downloading messages to multiple locations or syncing various devices. Your inbox will look the same from any web or mobile connection. And with 25 gigs of e-mail storage per user (with a paid apps account), it’s unlikely you’ll ever have to clean your inbox or delete old messages.

Gmail works a bit differently than traditional desktop clients and webmail services in that conversations are “threaded.” This means that e-mails with the same or related subject lines are grouped together in a thread so you can see all the messages sent and received on a topic in one place. When a new message is received, the entire thread is bumped to the top of your inbox, making tracking complex and multi-party conversations easy.

Gmail also has a chat feature built right into the interface that lets you send a quick update or discuss a project with an employee if you’re not in the same office. Chats are also stored in Gmail so that you can search and refer to them later.

Google search, the asset that started it all for the company, is of course built right into Gmail, which makes finding information from e-mail conversations (even very old ones) extremely efficient.

Additionally, Gmail Labs offers some extra settings for your inbox that can be extremely valuable for business use:

Google Docs

Google Docs is a web-based suite for word processing, presentation building (similar to PowerPoint), spreadsheets, and web forms. All the work is done in a web browser, and all the data is saved in the cloud.

The software can be a bit quirky at times, which may frustrate users of more stable products like Microsoft Office, but the payoff in online storage, shareability, and collaboration options may be worth the adjustment for many small businesses.

Because the data is online, streamlined document sharing and collaboration are big perks with Google Docs. Any file you’re working on can be shared with individual team members, or the entire group within the apps system. You can also set permissions for specific users to view and edit documents. And, multiple users can simultaneously view and edit documents, which can be useful for real-time collaborative projects or presentations during conference calls. You can also grant permission for those outside your office network to view and edit documents, which can be especially useful for sharing information and presentations with clients or colleagues.

As you create and share documents, your Google Docs dashboard may start to get a little messy. Be sure to create folders to keep your work organized just as you would on your desktop. You can also share entire folders if you need to collaborate on multiple documents related to the same project.


Google Calendar provides an efficient and intuitive way to keep appointments and events synced across your entire business. With calendar sharing and permissions (similar to those in Docs), you can add other employees’ calendars to your own, and vice versa, in order to see and manage the big picture of your team’s time.

For example, if an executive has an assistant, their calendars may be shared so that the assistant could manage his boss’s appointments remotely from his own account. It’s also a smart tool for coordinating meetings, calls, and shift staffing for multiple employees to avoid scheduling conflicts. Sharing multiple calendars with one “master calendar” creates a color-coded scheduling table for the coordinator that updates automatically when users make changes or additions.

The Calendar app can also be used to create events through Gmail. By adding your employees’ e-mail addresses to an event, they will receive an invitation to respond. Responding ‘yes’ automatically adds a shared event to your calendar that each invitee can view and add notes to. It’s a smart way to coordinate meetings and keep everyone in the loop.

Google Sites

Google Sites is a drag-and-drop web development tool that you can use within your business’s apps to create online information hubs for employees. The websites you create exist within your Google Apps domain, can be public or private, and permissions for employees to add, change, and contribute information can be set from the main account.

Beyond simply being a WYSIWYG web editor, Sites makes it easy to integrate data from other Google Apps into dynamic pages that team members can use to collaborate on projects. Integrating spreadsheets or data charts from Docs, a deadline schedule from Calendar, and team-specific messages from Gmail could essentially create a one-stop project dashboard full of dynamically updating information.

Sites here can be purely functional or informational, or with the aid of some built-in templates or a good designer, a full-fledged dynamic public website for your business that team members have easy access to.

Google Groups

Google Groups have long been public forums where users across the web gather to discuss specific interests or get technical support. Groups for business brings that same functionality into your private internal network.

E-mail can sometimes be cumbersome when coordinating a team. When you need a central space to collect ideas and share documents (but you’re not interested in building a web page in Sites), Groups offers a solution.

Employees can create discussion groups on their own and subscribe, either by e-mail or via a Groups dashboard, which lists new posts like a news reader.

Rather than e-mails going out to individual inboxes, a group thread remains visible to all of your subscribed team members, and users can go back to it for reference, to add more information, and even share docs and calendars.

Using Groups for business discussions and project management creates a communal and searchable database of information that employees can go back to whenever needed.

Google Apps Marketplace

Google’s recently launched Google Apps Marketplace allows developers of other business web apps to integrate their offerings with Google and sell software directly to Google Apps users. The marketplace currently has over 50 partners, including Intuit, Zoho, and Aviary. This additional space for third-party software means that Apps users will have even more options to tailor their suite for specific business purposes.

Smart Integration Across the Board

While each app has worthwhile features, perhaps one of the best advantages is the way that they all integrate with one another. Documents and appointments can be easily shared via e-mail, and your inbox can be used as a portal for productivity via embeddable widgets, chat, and other notifications.

If your small business is ready for a web-based, collaboration-minded IT solution, Google Apps is certainly a cost-effective way to go, and you can investigate the free versions simply by signing up for a Gmail account to determine if the suite is right for your workflow.

ARTICLE BY MATT SILVERMAN | | Image Courtesy of iStockphoto, CostinT

2nd Largest Art Museum in US

March 7, 2010

Renzo Piano is on the move again in designing museum architecture.  In November 2005, Piano completed the expansion of the High Museum of Art, doubling the High’s Museum space.  Now, Piano will design the Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago-making it the second largest art museum in the United States.


Art Institute of Chicago’s massive extension opens

Detail of Cantilever Staircase in Griffin Court Photo: James Iska, Art Institute of Chicago.

Detail of Cantilever Staircase in Griffin Court Photo: James Iska, Art Institute of Chicago.

CHICAGO. The Art Institute of Chicago has completed a stunning new building designed by the architect Renzo Piano to house one of the finest collections of 20th-century art in the United States. The Modern Wing, which opens to the public on 16 May, is the largest expansion in the Art Institute’s 130-year history. The building increases the institution’s space by 35% to one million square feet, making the Art Institute the second largest art museum in the US after the Metropolitan Museum in New York.

The Modern Wing contains around 1,000 works of European and American art and design since 1900. It enables the Art Institute for the first time to consolidate its modern and contemporary collections that had been distributed throughout the multi-building complex, and to present the works in an elegant and appropriate setting. It also provides new spaces for photography and media, architecture and design, temporary exhibitions and a massive facility for education. The addition is the centrepiece of a comprehensive reorganisation of the encyclopaedic museum. (Chicago also has a Museum of Contemporary Art, but its director, Madeleine Grynsztejn, considers the institutions’ roles complementary rather than competitive. “The MCA creates art history and the Art Institute summarises it,” she said.)

The project is the culmination of a $385m fundraising campaign—roughly $300m for design and construction and $85m for the endowment—that is seven times larger than any before undertaken by the Art Institute. Museum officials say they have raised around $370m primarily from private patrons in Chicago, scores of whom contributed multi-million-dollar sums. Trustee John Bryan, a former chairman of the Art Institute and a leader of the campaign, calls the Modern Wing “the most important building in Chicago built in the last 100 years”.

The Art Institute has long been known for its superb impressionist and post-impressionist holdings, but the post-1900 collections are comparably rich, surpassed in the US only by those of the Museum of Modern Art in New York and perhaps the Philadelphia Art Museum. “Very few museums have such remarkable strength on each side of 1900 and I think you’re really going to sense that now,” says James Wood, president of the Getty Trust, who was director of the Art Institute when the project was launched a decade ago.

Piano’s structure is an elegant 264,000 sq. ft, three-storey box with curtain walls of glass and steel framed by limestone pillars. The ground floor is bisected by a cavernous atrium that contains visitor services and a shop, with access to photography, new media and temporary exhibition halls—the opening show will be recent work by Cy Twombly (16 May-13 September)—as well as education facilities and a garden courtyard. The top floor’s openwork roof admits daylight that is further diffused by a scrim of fabric, and floating above the whole is a louvred canopy—dubbed the “flying carpet”—that shades the building from direct sunlight.

The third floor of the Modern Wing is devoted to a chronology of modern pre-war European art from around 1900 to 1950. The second floor begins with abstract expressionism and continues into contemporary art from pop and minimalism to the West Coast and Chicago. Some 7,500 sq. ft of galleries triple the space for the expanded department of architecture and design.

An additional $60m was raised for reinstallation of major parts of the pre-modern permanent collection. The chronology of European painting, sculpture and decorative arts from the Renaissance to the late 19th century has been clarified and the decorative arts displays expanded. (Architects John Vinci of the Chicago firm Vinci Hamp, and Kulapat Yantrasast of Los Angeles-based Why oversaw the redesign.) Sculptures from the Himalayas, Southeast Asia and India have been brought together in a space that Piano has refurbished, reopening covered windows to admit light and enhance way-finding.

The Modern Wing also reorders the Art Institute’s space, making it easier to navigate the campus. Previously there was only an east-west axis extending from the bronze lions on Michigan Avenue. With the new wing, the Art Institute gains a second grand entrance and a north-south axis that provides greater spatial clarity and alternative routes. A 620-ft pedestrian bridge carries visitors from the top floor of the new wing across the street into Millennium Park, touching down near the mirrored Cloud Gate sculpture by Anish Kapoor that has become an icon of the city.

“There is an enormous amount of civic pride in the city,” says Mr Bryan, the former chief executive of food giant Sara Lee. “People want to define their city as a superior place. They want to give back to the place where they usually made some money, and they respond to being recognised as being part of a group in their time that is generous and can give significantly to worthy things,” he said. James Cuno, the director of the Art Institute since 2004, said that more than 30 contributors gave $100,000 to the campaign, another 15 or 20 gave $1m to $5m, a dozen gave more than $20m, and an anonymous donor gave more than $50m. Nearly all are Chicagoans. They include hedge fund magnate Ken Griffin and his wife Anne, Shirley and Patrick Ryan of insurer Aon Corporation, the family of real estate mogul Neil Bluhm, philanthropist and collector Marilyn Alsdorf, Frances Comer, whose late husband Gary founded Land’s End clothing company, and industrialist John and Alexandra Nichols—each of whom donated more than $10m.

Fundraising was largely completed before the downturn in the economy, but the expanded museum will be expensive to operate. Mr Cuno says the budget will rise from $77m to $97m. Mr Bryan says that is too high. The endowment has lost a quarter of its value since 30 June 2008 when it was $641m, and the economic outlook is causing “some anxiety”. Mr Cuno is confident that a deficit can be avoided without slashing programmes by reducing costs and raising money. The museum has been raising an average of around $60m a year for the expansion, and “there’s still some capacity out there”, he said. Meanwhile, in March the Art Institute issued two series of bonds totalling $140m to finance construction and other costs while waiting for pledges to come in.

Mr Bryan is uncertain whether the city’s patrons can continue to participate at the level they have. “Since about 1990 Chicago has had a time of considerable prosperity and growth and an explosion in the cultural infrastructure of our city,” he says, citing new facilities and increased endowments for the symphony, the opera and theatres. “If you look at the last 130 years since Chicago became a serious city, nothing really compares to what has happened in the last 15 years here. We’ve gone through such a good period that we can afford to rest for a while.”