ArtPrize Artist Chat Q&A
Wednesday, August 05, 2009 – 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM
Stacy Niedzwiecki is answering questions from 12:00-12:45pm EDT, Wednesday August 5th .
Anyone is invited to ask a question. Stacy will decide which questions to answer based on her availability and discretion.
Excerpts from Stacy Niedzwiecki artist profile: http://www.artprize.org/artist/id/398
Stacy Niedzwiecki leverages her talents in digital photography and digital art. Nature’s beauty has found its way through her camera lens, earning awards in many art and photography competitions. er fascination with nature’s beauty has found its way through the camera lens, earning awards in many art and photography competitions. Her work has been featured in the Michigan 24/7 photography book, Whisper in the Woods Nature Journal, the Rockford Squire newspaper, Michigan Blue and Michigan History magazines, and the Explore St. Louis Official Visitors’ Guide.
Her most honored accomplishment is the installation of 63 of her nature images at the permanent art collection in the new Lemmen-Holton Cancer Pavilion, which opened June 30, 2008 in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
“I find myself drawn to local areas off the beaten path – the often-overlooked or “too-familiar” – imagery we all take for granted in our daily comings and goings.
If one could only stop for a moment and look about – they would discover a sense of wonder everywhere. I strive to capture those beautiful moments for my audience so they may experience peace and tranquility in the midst of their busy lives.”
Papa Betty Clarke wrote:
Hi, Stacy. I’m a fellow Artist in digital photography, but nowhere near your caliber! Still, it’s FUN, isn’t it!? I’m wondering just HOW and WHERE we get that cool little ArtPrize logo they say is available on face book. Just be patient and it will come? LOL
I’m very interested in your work and although I find it hard to get around I’d like to see your photos at the Lemmen-Holton sometime. Where is your venue? I’m listed as Betty L Bartlett (known as Papa Betty Clarke on face book!) under Free Spirit Worship Center.
Thank you for the compliments on my work. I do believe that each week, ArtPrize is posting the little badge icons right here at this Group Page once you’ve been accepted. All you have to do is right-click and save the image to your computer. But should you have questions, you should contact the ArtPrize folks directly.
My venue is SanChez Bistro on Fulton. I couldn’t be happier as it has been my favorite restaurant downtown ever since they opened! I’ve had lots of memorable, enjoyable meals there with friends and family over the years.
It is so exciting to have my work showcased at a place that I admire – not only for their food – but their community involvement as well. It’s a good fit.
Kyle S Smith (Lafarge) wrote:
Can’t be on the chat. But I am curious about some of the basics.
How do you work? Are you more scheduled in that you may say, ” I head out with my camera from 8am to 2pm, regardless? Or… are you someone that starts to gather ideas, plan the shoot and then goes out when the timing is right?
How much does weather play a part? Do you say “wow rain…I need to get back to that one place I saw the other day?
I appreciate your questions! There are several answers to “how do I work?”.
Yes, at times, I’m more structured about it. Particularly if I’m visiting an area of interest, and I have a short period of time to do so. Because I have an active family with small children, and also a busy graphic design business – I must make the best use of my time in the field. There are times when I study an area extensively by doing a lot of up-front research. I use Google maps, review others’ trip reports and images and often talk to local people to find the best areas. I tend to stay out all day when I’m away from home to take advantage of every possible moment.
At times, my very best images have come about with absolutely no planning at all. In fact – my very best images have all been a matter of “right place – right time” – and making sure my camera is always with me. Sometimes I just get the urge to just “go” because I wake up to morning fog, or sense a good sunset coming on. I just jump in my SUV and go – sometimes with no particular location in mind at all.
Yes, of course – weather can play a huge factor. Sometimes, I go out and shoot no matter what the conditions (unless it’s too dreary and the light becomes “flat” – that’s something you can’t do a thing about). I’ve been known to stand in the rain, while I get soaked, while covering up all the equipment with an umbrella. One time I rode out a fairly substantial hailstorm and wind storm at the Grand Haven beach (http://stacyn.com/artprize/images) – giving up my coat to cover the camera while I had to crouch down in between rocks!
The real enemy is moisture – going in from a humid place to air conditioning – or cool temps into a warm building. That, you have to be careful of and slowly bring the camera up to the temperature by placing it into a plastic bag before moving into a different temperature, so the condensation settles onto the outside of the bag – not the camera and lenses.
I do often keep track of cool things I see while driving around – making note of the sun’s position, the weather (as in – “Hey – that tree would look great in the fall – but in the morning) and pass it up until those conditions come about. I’ve visited the same location sometimes four or more times – until it’s all just right in my mind.
Katy Moore McAvoy wrote:
Just wondering – What photographers/artists inspire you?
I have a number of folks who inspire me, all for a variety of reasons. Some are well-known – others are local artists who have helped me along the way. In fact, I have so many, I’m afraid I couldn’t list them all here.
One of the first photographers that really caught my eye when I started taking my own images – is Mark Kiver of Cheney, Washington. He and I were both self-teaching ourselves about digital photography, and we both admired each others’ work. I also took my first workshops with Michigan photographers Ed Post and John Dykstra – they are talented artists and good people.
As a side note – I read a statistic from NANPA (the North American Nature Photographers Association, of which I am a member) that their membership in 2005 consisted of 1065 men (72.7%) and 400 women (27.3%) – but the numbers have been steadily increasing.
Ryan Hipp wrote:
Congrats on your venue! I have a few questions:
1. Do you feel being showcased in a restaurant atmosphere will hinder accessibility, or do you feel you will connect with a different casual audience who may not have otherwise seen your work?
2. I think having Michigan themes is a brilliant way to connect to the community – on the flipside, do you have any fears that the localization of your themes have an opposite affect for those in the audience expecting universal themes?
3. Are you planning anything to blow us away (i.e. do you have any photographs of a Michigan Sasquatch, or a Loch Superior Monster?)
- I am just thrilled to have a restaurant as my venue (particularly one of my favorite restaurants!). I feel that it shouldn’t hinder accessibility and will increase traffic. After all, who doesn’t enjoy a good glass of their favorite beverage and some of the best food in Grand Rapids to go with it? We’ll plan accordingly. I will be working closely with SanChez so we can cross-promote together to make it a win-win for both of us, and we’re both looking forward to the experience.
- As far as a Michigan-theme – well – I’m going for the home-court advantage. There will be plenty of opportunities for enjoying artwork from all around the globe. I like the idea of West Michigan being represented as we have fantastic artists right HERE in town. Because this has never been attempted before, I’m not sure if anyone knows what to “expect” when going into GR to see the artwork. I like the idea that we can have some local representation mixed in with all the great outside works that will be featured.
- You just never know, Ryan. I’ve see some interesting things out there – you’ll just have to stay tuned and come down to SanChez to see. I actually have been working on something unusual – that may be featured if I can complete it in time. Also – the jackalopes have been pretty plentiful this year (but darn, they are fast!).
Derek Maxfield wrote:
Hello Stacy, great work.
It sounds like your method of choosing a subject is “STOP and smell the roses” what would be the subject that you found most surprisingly interesting when viewed though your lense?
Derek – thank you for the compliments on my work.
I have always found myself naturally gravitating towards the “stop and smell the roses” type of scenery. I know it’s because my own life can be – with all sincerity – a bit chaotic at times. Sometimes, it truly IS hard to sit and focus on a subject matter for a long period of time (like waiting in a blind for birds).
The first time I photographed frost up close was pretty amazing to me. When the temperature hits around 5 degrees or less, really cool ice formations grow on my garage window pane. They are like a whole other little universe in there, and with a powerful macro lens – I can explore a small section of a window – until I’m too frozen to feel my fingers anymore!
Ryan Hipp wrote:
Thanks Stacy, I’m looking forward to partaking a few stuffed poblano peppers and goat cheese fritters when I come show my support! Best of luck!
OK Ryan – now you’re making me drool on my keyboard… See you at SanChez!
Liz Hayes wrote:
Hi Stacy, I was just curious what equipment you use. Also, how long have you been taking photographs?
Hello Liz –
The question of how long I’ve been taking photographs is interesting one, and surprisingly hard to answer! If I stop and think really hard about it, I think I had my first camera when I was about 10 or 11. It was the late 1970’s – and I was given one of those Polaroid One-Step cameras – the ones where you could pull the pieces apart and wait for the photo to “magically appear”. That was so cool. The prints were awful, and now they’ve just about faded into non-existence in my photo albums over time. So first touched a camera? Thirty-one years ago.
I had other film cameras, and I do remember some recently telling me they remember me wandering the halls at high school, often with a camera in my hand. In college years (1986—ish) I had a basic Olympus film camera and a few lenses, that was required for my foundation photography classes. I was attending Kendall College of Art & Design for illustration and graphic design. I enjoyed photography a lot – but never considered doing anything serious with it.
Then about 2002, I picked up my first digital camera at the suggestion of a friend who “remembered how much I enjoyed photography” and thought I should get back into it. And that was when I was bitten by the bug. I photographed for two years before showing my work to anyone. I couldn’t get enough of it, and it snowballed from there. My serious pursuit of nature photography started about 2003.
I’m on my 3rd digital camera now, which is a Canon 40D with an assortment of lenses from wide angle, macro, telephoto – to a 500mm Sigma to get at the far-away critters.
I always like to remind people when it comes to camera equipment – it doesn’t matter what brand of oven the chef baked that delicious meal in!
Norman Hayward wrote:
When you first started, was there a picture you took where you said “woa, I am GOOD” or was it a gradual process where you got turned down many times before someone took notice of your work. also, what was the first picture to get serious notice?
Thanks for the question, Norman –
I’m not sure if I’ve ever thought, “Woa, I am GOOD” as I’ve come from very humble beginnings, and feel I always have much to learn. If one thinks they are already “GOOD” – then what would be the driving force to do better? Most people would be very surprised that I don’t hang my own photography in my home (except between art shows for storage reasons). I am my own worst critic, and also enjoy seeing the works of others.
For me, it’s been a gradual process with some very satisfactory moments discovered along the way. I began with my first point-and-shoot Olympus digital camera for two years, only showing some of my favorites to close friends and family.
Oddly – in the first two weeks of owning that first digital camera – I snapped a casual photo for a competition sponsored by Goodwill Industries titled “Believe in the Power of Work”. It was a very funny photo of our one-year old son’s “over-exposed” behind (and I don’t mean the camera settings were incorrect…if you know what I mean). He was working in our shed with his little tool belt on – a bit too low! I sent the photo in for fun, because my friends found it amusing. The image ended up earning a place in their traveling exhibit, which toured all over the United States for a year!
My son will not be happy when that photo is proudly displayed at his graduation open house someday…
Lynne Jarman-Johnson wrote:
Hi Stacy – hey can you tell me how you feel when you know you “nabbed” the right shot? Do you know it immediately or wait until the processing is complete
Good question, Lynne!
Yes – I have some sort of odd adrenaline rush when I know I’ve nailed a shot! Must be the equivalent to when hunters get “buck fever” excitement when looking through the scope. Although – I can have the same feeling just upon seeing a fantastic scene while I’m rushing to get to the spot to capture it. I get a little loopy – running down the beach, storm chasing and so on. A couple weeks ago, I chased a rainbow from Rockford – to Belding before I realized how far I had driven!
My very best moments and resulting images (as I mentioned to Kyle above) found ME – not the other way around. So I keep my camera at arm’s reach at all times, and when the moment hits, WHOA!
I had this experience last September, and I knew I hit THE moment with my image “Naturally Yours” (http://stacyn.com/artprize/images). I almost couldn’t stand the drive home – all I could think about while driving back home was getting into the computer so I could confirm what I had just seen. I was out looking for water that morning – came away with something better.
There are those moments when you “think” you’ve “nabbed” the moment, only to discover upon processing and seeing the image larger on the monitor – that you did not. It’s disappointing, but true, especially with moving objects like birds and animals. Upon enlargement, I realize the image isn’t sharp enough or composed well enough to pass my high standards.
Pamela Patton wrote:
Congratulations! I’ve always loved your work. I’m just wondering if your background in graphic design influences your photographs.
Hey back at you Pam!
I’m pleased you enjoy my images. Yes – my graphic design background has had a MAJOR role in my photography. All the skills you need to apply to a good photograph – composition, lighting, color palette, patterns, a strong focal point – are the same skills needed when making a good brochure, website or logo.
I also didn’t have such a big learning curve to overcome when digital photography came about – because I had already been using Photoshop for graphic design work for a number of years. Some film photographers really had to get over a HUGE learning curve transitioning from film to digital – because they had to learn Photoshop before they could do anything with their images. Some even had never used a computer before. That was already behind me.
Justin Buiter wrote:
What plans do you have to market yourself during ArtPrize? Do you think you’ll do it all online? Or will you also include some kind of material for the less tech savvy voters?
It’s very helpful being my own in-house graphics department! Even with all the technology available, there’s still a large audience out there – who doesn’t know what Twitter is, what Facebook is for, or even bother with the internet. A gal can’t give away all her secrets, but I know that I will cover all areas of marketing, to the best of my ability.
Question from Twitter user @joelleo:
Do you think art, that is not large or in your face, has a chance to win artprize?
To Twitter User @joelleo:
Sure! Why not! Some of the best things come in small packages.
Dave Johnson wrote:
I fell in love your nature photographs the first time I saw one. You have an amazing eye. Thank you for sharing about how you plan ahead for the right shots.
How do you digitally process your photos for the best results? Do you have a certain process you follow, in general, to get the images print-ready? How do you save them? How do you decide which ones to delete?
Dave – I’m very flattered by your compliments on my work.
Processing – is often more difficult than actually capturing the image itself. I have a cataloging system so first; I bring the images in and assign folders and keywords to them, so I can find them easily. That way if someone calls and needs a “photo of a Baltimore Oriole” I can quickly find it again.
I make two copies of all the RAW files – one to the hard drive, one to an external drive (I usually make three – but an external drive died recently – proof why you need SEVERAL means of file backup and storage).
I use RAW processing software, and save a folder for the untouched RAW images (those are your negatives! Don’t ever touch them!) and save a file for the RAW processed images. Finally – one more folder for the “finished” pieces.
Deleting? It’s out if it’s not sharp, poor composition, etc. It’s pretty obvious to me when I’ve got THE one I wanted.
How much time do you plan to spend at your venue once the voting starts?
I haven’t had a chance to plan this with my venue yet. Obviously – hanging out at a restaurant will be a bit different than say – a hallway or open warehouse space, or museum area.
If they feed me, I’ll stay there forever – their food is so wonderful! If I stay at SanChez as much as I’d like to, part of my prize winnings would have to go towards a gym membership afterward.
Seriously – we’ll be working out this detail fairly soon. I’m sure I will be there several times, as will the other artists.
Derek Maxfield wrote:
Stacy, the photos of the frost sound amazing. Do you have them posted somewhere that we can view them?
Of COURSE the ice sculpture guy wants to see the frost photos! At the risk of Facebook being unhappy for me posting links – I’m going to give it a try -
This one is the first image I tried: http://www.flickr.com/photos/stacyn/3791952059
There are other attempts too – I’ll try to post later.
It’s 1:00 and Stacy is free to stay or go. Thanks Stacy for joining us and thanks everyone for participating in this artist chat.
Who would you like to hear from next?
I’m very flattered to have been nominated by fellow artists and friends to participate in this series.
This has been a fantastic opportunity, and I thank everyone! Great questions.
See you all at SanChez Bistro!
Derek Maxfield wrote:
lol, of course I do. Thanks for the link. Great interview by the way. I enjoyed it very much
Derek – you mentioned you had trouble with the link to the frost image above – please try again – it should be working now.
Deb Badt-Covell wrote:
Great interview, Stacy!
Do you have other photography questions for Stacy?
Just use the “Leave a Reply” box to post your inquiries here: