Category Archives: Stretching

Out there, again.

A while ago, I shared a post about submitting my work to exhibits otherwise known as call for entry.  In that post I explained why I spend the time, money, and emotional energy doing this: Entering images provides me with another outlet for my work, a way to have BNF’s (big names in the field) see my work, and to receive some feedback on it, even if that feedback is simply being accepted or not.   Having work accepted for an exhibit helps me to build a resume that shows my work has been exhibited at the national level.  And it’s just fun!

I’ve been up to it again recently.  The themes for three calls for entry seemed to fit with some of my work.

Photo Place Gallery in Middlebury, VT had a call for the theme, Capturing the Light. None of the images I submitted were selected for the exhibit, but you can see the final selections here.

The Northern Virginia Alliance of Camera Clubs (NVACC) is currently putting together their 8th Annual Joseph Miller Abstract Exhibit.  This is a new venue for me but it was appealing because it is in my new home state and because much of my work falls into the category of abstract, so I thought this call for entry would be worth a submission.  Do you think any of these six images will be accepted?  Results are due this weekend.

The SE Center for Photography in Greenville, SC. is also a new venue for me apply to a call for entry.  They currently have a call for the theme Seasons.  “Spring is fast approaching and what better time to celebrate the use of color in photography. We usually think of color and seasons to mean landscapes, but this time let’s not limit it to just the landscape, or Spring. All subject matter relating to seasons, digital, analog or alternative methods.”   What do you think the chances are for these images?  Results will be announced next week.

I recently found this wonderful article by Douglas Beasley, a well respected photographer, on what it’s like for a juror.  It helps put the whole process in perspective for those entering their work.

I’ll let you know next week how my images did in the Abstract and the Seasons exhibits.




The results are in!

A couple of weeks ago, in the post Out There, I shared some images that I had submitted to a call for entry at the A Smith Gallery with the theme, Vistas.  Yesterday, the juror’s choices were announced and I was pleased to have the image, The View from Shore #10, accepted for the exhibit.

View from Shore #10
On exhibit at A Smith Gallery, Johnson City, TX, November 3 to December 17, 2017.

Dan Burkholder was the juror for this exhibit.  As I mentioned in the earlier post, each call for entry has a different juror.  While each juror is very capable and accomplished, they too have personal preferences.  It’s fun to see what sort of images are accepted.  Was this one of your choices?

You can view all the images that were accepted here in this online gallery (click on the images to advance through the entire exhibit).  Of course, if you happen to be in the Johnson City area in November, stop in and check it out in person.  It’s a great gallery.

Now I need to get a print sent to the gallery!

A New Direction

In January of this year I was introduced to photo encaustic work.  I immediately knew that this was a new direction that I wanted to pursue with my work.  Encaustic painting uses beeswax and pigments and is a very ancient medium.  Photo encaustics, combines photography with the warm beeswax medium creating very unique, layered, moody images.

In July, I was able to attend a 3 day workshop at R & F Handmade Paints  to learn and try working with photo encaustics.  I came away with a strong (that’s putting it mildly) desire to continue to continue to learn and work with encaustics and my photography.

Encaustics provides a more hands on way of working with my images, something I have been craving for some time.  While I enjoy computer work at times, I wanted to create more hand made pieces.  It also gives an extra dimension to the images with all the layers of wax and pigments.

I have plans to set up a dedicated encaustic studio where I can continue to explore this fascinating medium.  I’ll keep you posted as that progresses.  For now, here are a few images of me at the workshop and some of my practice pieces.  I have much, much more to learn!!!

Being a Rookie

It’s really good for us to be a rookie, a beginner, sometimes.  I so enjoy my level of competence with photography but also love to challenge myself to learn new skills that have the potential to push me and my work a bit further.

I’ve been feeling like a total rookie lately.  I’ve been transported back to my early days of learning this craft, feeling like I don’t understand how my camera is working and how to control it, looking at my images and seeing more duds than successes.

What has caused all this?  The Lensbaby!   A Lensbaby is a specialized lens that, in the right hands, creates very dreamy images, which you know I love.  Heck, their motto is “see in a new way.”  Of course I’d want a piece of that!  I bought one of the early versions (on the left below) several years ago and could not master it.  To be fair to me, it was basically a lens on a squishy tube that you had to squeeze, bend, hold, and focus to get an image.   Just couldn’t get the hang of it.  But I still really admired the look of Lensbaby images that I saw.  Then a few years ago they came out with a more advanced version of the lens (on the right below).  It no longer had a squishy tube, but rather was on a ball that you could rotate and the lens would stay where you bent it.  Yay!

I thought this would be so much better and I’d have these wonderful images with soft, blurred edges and a sharp area of focus where ever I decided to put it. But I still just couldn’t get the hang of it.  It hung out in my camera closet taunting me.

So I decided to do something about that.  Kathleen Clemons is one of the photographers that is well known for her skill with a Lensbaby.  Her soft, impressionistic images are just exquisite. She teaches a 4 week online class covering the basics of Lensbaby photography.

We’re in our third week now, and while I understand now what I was doing wrong before there is still a bit of a learning curve.  This is where I feel like a total rookie again.  My images (mostly) don’t have good sharp focus where they should, the lens is much wider in scope (50mm) than I normally use. and more.  I’m getting there but I just generally feel like a beginner again.

But that’s OK!  I recently came across this great TEDx Talk by Andi Stevenson on Being a Rookie.   Take the time to watch it, it’s wonderful.  But two things she said resonated so much with me:

“When we stay safely within the boundaries of the things we already do well, we miss risk and innovation….We miss the chance to be afraid, to push through being afraid, and turn around on the other side and look back and see ourselves as brave.”

So here’s to risk, innovation, bravery, and being a rookie!

Here are just of few of the hundreds of images I have taken (most of which failed epic-ally) that are sort of a success,  I will keep risking and learning! 🙂

lensbaby-8013-gailshaile lensbaby-8041-gailshaile lensbaby-8055-gailshaile lensbaby-8074-gailshaile lensbaby-8056-gailshaile lensbaby-8078-gailshaile


Road to the IPC Medals

People’s minds are on medals at the moment with the Olympics starting a few days ago in Brazil.  There was another sort of Olympics earlier last week that did not get as much press but was equally important to thousands of photographers, the IPC.

The International Photographic Competition, IPC, happened over the course of 5 days last week at a small college outside of Atlanta.   It was streamed live, and I dare say that productivity in the photography world took a big dive last week as people were glued to their monitors watching the live feed, waiting for their images to appear, or just watching and learning.

A VERY, VERY abbreviated version of the IPC process goes like this:

  • Choose 4 of your best images. (Alternately, photographers have an idea for a competition image and photograph with that in mind.)
  • Refine the images till they are the best you know how to make them. Often this involves soliciting feedback from other photographers. This is the most intensive part of the process.
  • Submit those 4 images to IPC (this is called your case).
  • The images are judged by panels of highly trained and experienced jurors using the standard of the 12 elements of a merit image,
  • images that meet or exceed those criteria are granted a merit (merits are accumulated and go towards degrees),  and are included in the General Collection (the Best Images) of the IPC exhibit, .
  • All merit images are then judged for the Loan Collection (Best of the Best images) of the IPC exhibit.  Loan images also earn an extra merit point.
  • Based on the results for your case, you can receive various Photographer of the Year medals.          Bronze = 4 merit images                                                                                                                         Silver = 3 merit images, 1 loan image                                                                                                   Gold = 2 merit images, 2 loan images                                                                                                   Platinum = 1 merit image, 3 loan images                                                                                             Diamond = 4 loan images
  • Loan images are judged for Grand Imaging Awards by the entire group of jurors and the top 10 images are selected in various categories.
  • At PPA’s annual conference in January, ImagingUSA,  the Top Ten in each category are honored at the Grand Imaging Awards and the top 3 are announced.  The top image in each category is in contention for the Top Image of the year which is also announced at that time.

A few years ago I wrote a post about why I compete.  I’ve since earned my Master of Photography degree from PPA.  Master Artist and Photographic Craftsman degrees are on my agenda at the moment.  But I don’t compete simply to earn degrees (though that is a valid reason).  I compete in order to challenge myself and my work.

Why I continue to compete has much more to do with pushing myself that earning degrees.

I really couldn’t say it any better than Dave Hunstman, a photographer and Affiliated International Photographic Jury Chairman.  “Image Competition is a competition you can’t lose… Image competition makes you think about everything. It makes you learn to evaluate images, it helps you see differently, it expands your vision, it opens up your mind making you try new things. It’s a community project, people critiquing, encouraging and elevating each other to achieve all that they can.”  

I had a goal this year and I failed to reach it.  Or did I?

Twice, I have been honored to receive a Platinum Photographer of the Year Medal, 3 Loan and 1 General Collection images.   Each year, I wonder how I can push myself beyond what I did the year before.  So early in the process, I decided I would go for Diamond this year, all four images going to the Loan Collection.  That meant I had to work hard to ensure that my work was the absolute best it could be.  I spent a great deal of time analyzing images, refining images, discarding images, asking for opinions on images, trusting my instincts about images, and finally making decisions about images to submit.

The final result for my case this year was Platinum and while I will admit to a momentary pity party, it didn’t last long.  The reward is not in the medal but in the process.  I’ve learned a great deal, met more great people, tried new techniques, and broadened my perspective. That is always a winning situation.

Below are my entries in the Photographic Open for 2016:

Symmetry: 2016 IPC Loan Collection  I love architecture and created a panoramic image of the ceiling of the library in Utica, NY. The result was one half of this image. (Look at the image sideways and look at the upper half to will see what I saw.) I turned it on it’s side and duplicated it to create a mirror image, and joined them to create the final image here.

Fine art photography of architecture of Utica LIbrary, Utica, NY.

Symmetry: 2016 IPC Loan Collection


Emerging: 2016 IPC Loan Collection  Sometimes I look through my older files and find hidden gems that I didn’t appreciate earlier. I photographed this Sunflower bud in the studio a few years ago and had forgotten about it. When I was thinking about IPC early in the year, I came across this and, knowing more now, recognized it’s potential.

Fine art photograph of sunflower bud.

Emerging: 2016 IPC Loan Collection.


Branching Our: 2016 General Collection  I was prepared to submit a totally different image but at the last minute decided that the other image did not have as much potential to achieve Loan Collection status. I had just created this mandala while experimenting with adding more repetitions to my mandalas and felt it might have more Loan potential. It didn’t go Loan but I don’t regret the decision.

Photographic nature mandala.

Branching Our: 2016 General Collection


One additional way I challenged myself this year was to create and submit an album.  The album is judged as a whole and every piece of the album has to adhere to the same high standards as individual images.  I always wondered why one would do this.  Why submit 10 or 12 images when one would do?  Aren’t you making it even more difficult to merit, and especially loan?  But at some point this year, I just knew that I needed to take a step out and challenge myself more.

I’ve been creating mandalas for several years now and have published several inspirational calendars of mandalas.   Creating an album of mandalas was a logical place to start.  Many of my mandalas use images of trees for source images so an album that celebrated trees came to mind.  This album went through several iterations before it came to this.  It actually received a merit at District Image Competion and if I’d sent it straight to IPC as it was, it would have been an automatic merit.  But I knew it could be better, so I basically threw away the guaranteed merit to make changes and submit a revised album.  I was confident that the revised album was the best of my abilities.  My risk paid off as the album, Trees, was selected for the Loan Collection. 🙂


I hope this has made a small amount of sense out of a somewhat complicated process.  

It always is much more about competing with myself and improving my work and vision.  It truly is about the journey and not the destination.

I’m already starting to plan for next year.  Diamond, anyone?

“Art is a form of communication”

Art is a form of communication. You might think you make art as a form of self-expression, but you know that your work is incomplete until people see it and respond to it.”  Alyson B. Stanfield, aka the Art Biz Coach

I’ve been preparing for a new exhibit this week.  It’s a collaboration with my Pilates instructor, Melissa Lamendola, of Anatomy in Motion Pilates and Wellness Studio.

Alyson’s words keep coming back to me.  They are what push me to get my work “out there”. For years I had all these images sitting around and the only one who knew about them was me and perhaps a few friends or family.  I used to have this notion that if work was displayed it had to be in a Gallery (if I could put that word on a pedestal, it would better emphasize the notion I had of galleries).  Nothing else was “real”.  However, just by putting my work out for others to see, a conversation is created. My work has grown and expanded by being in conversation with a wider audience, even without being in a Gallery (pedestal here again). Insights and inspiration flow from others taking part in the conversation.

How can you take part in the conversation of art this week?

Below is a sneak peek at some of the images on display during the exhibit at Anatomy in Motion. There is an opening reception this Sunday, 9/28/2014 from 3-5 pm.  The exhibit will run through December.  
Curly Leaf Mandala 3  ©Gail Haile

Curly Leaf Mandala 3 ©Gail Haile

©Gail Haile Cottonwood Mandala 4

Cottonwood Mandala 4, ©Gail Haile

Beach Flow 1  ©GailHaile

Beach Flow 1 ©GailHaile


Sneak Peek at a portion of the exhibit in Anatomy in Motion Pilates and Wellness Studio

Fourth Friday: 7/26/2013

After a month or more of heavy, flood-inducing rains followed by extreme heat, my gardens have exploded with growth and color.  As much as I can manage, I’ve been spending in my studio photographing much of this growth.

These images are just a hint of what’s being captured.  I’m just trying to get everything while it is around to be captured.  I’ll worry about processing later when things die down (pun intended).   🙂

I have at least 3 different projects in mind for all of these images and I’m playing with several different techniques.  These images only represent what I’m doing with the flowers against black velvet to isolate them and bring attention to their unique characteristics.

To top it off, I’ve spent the entire past week at what I call Photographers’ Camp, officially known as PPSNYS Imaging Workshop at Hobart and William Smith College in Geneva, NY.  A whole week with 150 other photographers!

All in all, July has been great fun.


Queen Anne's Lace_1_©GSHaile


Queen Anne's Lace_2_©GSHaile


Queen Anne's Lace_3_©GSHaile

Slowing down

Earlier this year, some online artist friends, instead of doing New Year’s Resolutions, were choosing a Word of the Year, one word that represented something that they would focus on throughout the year.

That made me stop and think, if I were choosing one word for the year what would it be?  I pondered that for a few days and then started to just scribble down ideas.  What poured out very quickly was “slow down, take time, stop, breathe, be, what is essential?, what will matter in 10 years?”  Gee, I thought, guess I need to slow things down.

I can get so excited and enthused about ideas, as well as easily distracted, that I sometimes am simply rushing from one wonderful thing/idea to another wonderful thing/idea.  Doesn’t sound like a problem but when you don’t savor being in the moment or stop to celebrate accomplishments or simply stop to think, life can become too frantic, under appreciated, and (this is a big one) unintentional.  I was so struck by this, that I designed this postcard that I now have posted all around my house and office, to remind me of that.  It really is helping in so very many areas of my life.  I feel like I’m actually more “productive” (hate that word) by slowing down and focusing more, rather than rushing to do more.




For a very long time, I have been fascinated with long exposure photography.  (No, I didn’t change subjects, hang in there.) Very basically, it’s a way to create photographic images where the camera’s shutter is open for long periods of time, from 30 seconds to possibly hours as opposed to the typical 1/125th of a second that records most images. There had been a couple of failed attempts at it a few years ago.  Then, I had tried it a bit last fall and written about it here and explained in more detail what is involved.  Mostly, I didn’t make myself get out and try it.  I am definitely one who works better with some sort of accountability, especially in the learning phases.  So, I signed myself up for an online class in Long Exposure Photography that started at the end of January.  We have online videos and tutorials that can be watched whenever,  assignments to go out and try on our own, due dates (that’s an important one) and then wonderful online critiques of all our images.

What struck me one day, as I was standing in a pasture on a relatively balmy 35 degree morning, taking 4 minute exposures of a barn while the wind blew the fluffy, morning sun-kissed clouds across the sky, was that this also was slowing down.  Often, when capturing images, they are quick shots, fleeting moments caught in a literal split second.  One of my strengths as a portrait photographer is a quick finger on the shutter when that perfect expression (not necessarily a smile) shows up, always watching for it.  When shooting in a new place to which I’ve traveled, I often try to capture those quick glimpses of life in that place.  I have an ability to quickly pick out interesting scenes in all the newness of the experience  but that brings with it a certain hyper vigilance.  There is always a hurried effort to “get it”.

In contrast, with long exposures I am forced to slow down a great deal, and not just the actual shutter time.   I  must slow down.  It is a different way of shooting entirely and I need to, at least at this point, be very methodical about making sure I’ve set everything up properly… find the right scene, time of day, weather conditions, and position, set up the tripod, mount the camera on the tripod, attach the remote shutter release/timer, determine the “normal” exposure, calculate the long exposure, put the darkening ( neutral density) filters on the lens that causes the light to enter the camera more slowly, cover the eyepiece so that no extra light enters that way, set the timer, wait for the exposure, wait for the camera to process the exposure, check the results, repeat.  The camera takes as long to process the image as the original exposure took, so if it was a 4 minute exposure (the shutter was open for 4 minutes), the camera then takes another 4 minutes to process that exposure.  So you have 8 minutes of waiting.  That is all vastly different from other ways of photographing.  It’s all quite a bit like meditation through photography.

Here are a few of my initial attempts with the long exposure images.  The clouds and water have smoothed out because their movements have been recorded over the whole length of the exposure.  (The background image on my postcard is also and long exposure image that I talked about in this post.)  As I’m learning and practicing, I’m still pondering how I can best use this technique in a way that is unique to me.

Long Exposure_1_©GSHaile

Long Exposure_3_©GSHaile Long Exposure_2_©GSHaile

Intention is the thing that most strikes me as the benefit of slowing down.  Whether creating an image or taking time to write out an agenda for my work day or planning what our meals will be for the next few days, slowing down creates more intentional living.  I am (more than before) in charge of what happens each day which creates a calmer demeanor and a greater feeling of being in control.  I’m not a control freak but being a bit more in control means that I am not living life in reaction mode. I am deciding (mostly) the path I choose for my days and weeks and longer.  I am more intentional by slowing down.  I have, by no means perfected this slowing down/intentional living thing.  I still have my moments of following random bunny trails that hold some shiny new idea but my postcard and my experiences with the long exposure photography serve as reminders of the benefits of slowing down.

So that’s my “how to” for being more productive, more intentional, just more.

“Slow Down,

Take Time,




What is essential?,

What will matter in ten years?”

As with everything in life, it’s a journey.


This blog post is part of the monthly blog circle of which I am a part.  Our theme for this month is “How to…”, so if you would like to have a good dose of  how to do all sorts of  things spend a bit of time visiting the blogs of these other creative women from all over the world.  The next woman in the circle is the writer/poet Karrlin Bain  ( ).

If should just get lost along the way, here is the entire list of women and their blogs that are participating this month.  Enjoy!

Becky Cavender

Gail Haile

Karrlin Bain

 Vickie Martin 

 Amy Riddle

Michelle Hill

Laly Mille

Jean Wagner

Naz Laila

Nancy Lennon


Breaking the rules: Mandala Monday 12-3-12

We traveled to North Carolina this past weekend to visit family.  I was reminded of visiting a couple of years ago in December when we went to Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens outside of Charlotte.  Being from the north, it was odd to me that a public garden would be open in the winter. Here in the cold northeast, such public gardens usually close around the Columbus Day.  Not only was DSBG open, they are famous for their beautiful Holidays at the Garden light display woven into a truly amazing example of landscape and garden architecture.  If you are in the Charlotte area at any time of the year, it is well worth the trip.

I had not brought adequate camera equipment to “properly” photograph the gardens but decided to have a bit of fun with the basic camera that I had.  I photographed the lights and the garden by either purposely putting it out of focus and/or purposely moving the camera while using a longer shutter speed.  It was so much fun to “break the rules”.

Those images have just been sitting on my hard drive until today when I remembered them and decided to use a few to create some mandalas.  The first few were just OK in my mind, there were several that I didn’t even save.  However, I really love the ones that use the image of the twisted trees with lights on them (6-9).  The original image was made by rotating the camera during the exposure. I like the light on the crepe myrtle trees and the blue of the just darkening sky and the white lights that were hanging in the trees.    All that gives the mandalas more dimension.  And, I almost always like mandalas better if they include some bit of nature.

What do you think?  How have you broken the rules lately?

What inspired you today?

Inspiration is vital to maintaining any sort of creative flow.   It is also what keeps life interesting.  It had been suggested to me that people might be interested in where and how I get inspired, all the little (sometimes big) things that come into my life and provide some inspiration.  It’s not always immediately evident where that inspiration may or may not lead but it’s all fuel for the creative process.

I was thinking that, of course, everyone knows what inspiration is. However, I’ve long been a gatherer of information (in a previous job my nickname was Research Queen) so I thought it would be interesting to see exactly what the definition of inspiration is.  According to, inspiration is:

1.        stimulation or arousal of the mind, feelings, etc, to special or unusual activity or creativity

2.        the state or quality of being so stimulated or aroused

3.        someone or something that causes this state

4.        an idea or action resulting from such a state

5.        the act or process of inhaling; breathing in

All 5 of these are part of the ongoing garnering of creative inspiration, even the last.  Often, something that inspires me to a new idea does literally feel like breathing in.

As I was thinking about this post, knowing that I wanted it to be an ongoing series I was searching for an appropriate title.  In a quick break (otherwise known as procrastination) I decided to check out Facebook for a few minutes.  On the Superhero You FB page was this question, “What inspired you today?”    That’s a perfect title, I thought, not just what’s inspiring me but a conversation about where inspiration comes from and all the different forms it may take.

So that’s the foundation of what I hope will be an ongoing conversation about what inspiration looked like and where it came from, at least for today.  Tomorrow it may be something else.

The images that follow are from some time that served as inspiration for me a couple of weeks ago.  One thing I know that I need to do to stay inspired is to be with other creative souls no matter what their art form may be.  A friend of mine is a fiber artist as well as a most creative and generous soul. She invited me to spend an afternoon in her studio playing with fibers and/or just observing.  Being in the presence of other creative minds as well as being surrounded by the “stuff” of her art always opens up the creative pathways.  These are just a hint of the explosion of color and texture and creative energy that I experienced that afternoon.

So, what inspired you today?


*Check out the Superhero You website too! It says that it is “a community dedicated to helping you unleash your superpower.”