Alameda On Camera 2017

It’s been a while since you’ve heard from me, I know.  Life has become VERY busy for me lately . . . so busy in fact that I wasn’t able to attend the Alameda on Camera exhibit at the Frank Bette Center for the Arts this year.  This is the first year since 2011 that I missed participating in it, and I really felt the loss in my soul.

However, I was able to help volunteer at the opening night gala for the exhibit and got to see all the lovely pieces that this year’s artists produced.  There were some old favorites (like a quilt by Susan Lea Hackett), and some new blood (this is the second year in a row that FBCA has included a “Youth” category of photos), and it was great to see people’s interpretations of whatever section of Alameda they had chosen.

For instance, Patti Cary created this very interesting sculpture, titled “Return.”  I’m not sure what section of the map she drew, so I don’t know if the leaves on the branches are the photos she took, or if the other items on the branches are things she found on the streets or sidewalks of wherever she was.  Regardless, it’s a fascinating piece.

Because the 48 sections of the map of Alameda don’t change, there are a few sections where people seem to produce the exact same image every year, no matter who the photographer is.

For example, one section includes an abandon warehouse that used to house a Del Monte factory.  This building is so long that it takes up two blocks, and its own section on the map.  It can be very hard to make a photo of such a long building look interesting and different from every other photo (as you can see in the photo to the right), but one artist, Alisha Laborico, was able to capture what was (in my opinion) the BEST aspect of this building I’ve ever seen before.  (I’ll have to update this post later when I can take a picture of her image to share with you.)


UPDATE – Alisha was gracious enough to share her image with me, so here it is.

As anyone who’s seen my work for long enough will tell, it’s no wonder I loved her image.  The repeating patterns, the unusual angle, & the curving movement are all tricks I use in my own photography.  So, when I saw Alisha’s picture of the Del Monte building, I knew I had to write about it this year.  If you compare the image above of the building to the one to the left here, they almost don’t look like the same building.  And this old factory will be renovated next year, so it won’t look the same ever again.  But I’m thrilled that Alisha found a way to make this building look more interesting (to me at least).



Anyway, even though I wasn’t able to spend a weekend in February walking around this lovely island, capturing unique photos in my section, I was glad that I was able to see the work produced this year.  And you can believe that I will do whatever I can to ensure I’m able to attend this event next year.  After all, I’ve only taken pictures in 5 sections of Alameda . . . there’s SO much more of this lovely island to explore.  :o)

Three New Images including a Gas Pump!

First Up, the Alameda Ballena Isle Marina Gas Pump

The aforementioned Gas Pump, is not your typical gas pump. I created this image during the Alameda On Camera annual event and gallery. I was assigned a section of the island of Alameda where I live, and had 48 hours to take pictures within that area. In my area is a lovely marina. I was extremely fortunate on my first morning that there was a fog that rolled in which made for some lovely photos. This particular image is of a gasoline pump that is on the docks in that marina where the boats fuel up. It made a very rustic old-world look to the pump which I think is practically an antique. Here is the stipple image I did from the photo I took.

Alameda Ballena Isle Marina Gas Pump

Alameda Ballena Isle Marina Gas Pump

The other two: Nathan Fillion and Alan Tudyk

You may recognize these two. I recently posted a blog announcing when I had finished these (You can see that blog here). Well, now I’d like to announce that they have finally been added to my website. Click either of the images below to be taken to my website, straight to those pages.












Thanks for checking out these images and my website. I have recently updated all the pages in my stipple gallery to include the purchasing buttons. Some of you may have noticed that some of the buttons were in the “Coming Soon” stage. Well, They’re here!

That’s it for now. Thank you all for your continued attention. More art soon.

Craig P. Smith



Sixth Year in a Row!

I’m thrilled to announce that I was once again chosen to be an artist in the Frank Bette Center for the Arts (FBCA) annual show, Alameda on Camera!  This is the sixth year in a row that I’ve been invited to participate in this fun event, and it still makes me giddy to know that they like my stuff enough to include me.

For those of you who are new readers, the Alameda on Camera (AOC) event is a really cool one where the FBCA cuts a map of the island of Alameda into 48 sections, and invites 48 artists to draw a section of the map out of a hat (which is a fun ceremonial evening in and of itself).  We then have 48 hours to take any photos we want in our section (during a specific weekend in February), and then have the month of March to edit those photos and shape them into any sort of art.  Each artist is guaranteed one piece to be shown in the exhibit (which stays up for two months), and people have created glassware, shower curtains, paper products, books, quilts and all sorts of other cool things.  Anything goes, so long as what you create incorporates the photos you took in your section.  One year, someone even devised an Alameda-themed Monopoly game.

Even though Craig and I live in Alameda, this event is a cool way to learn new parts of the island since I rarely draw the same section.  It only happened once–and I could have drawn a different section–but I kept it anyway, and took completely different shots the second year.

The only downfall to doing this event is choosing which images to submit for consideration.  But it’s a “hardship” I’m happy to endure, because it’s just so much fun.  Sometimes when I’m out taking the photos, I can see exactly what I want to do with a particular shot, but other times I have no idea until I start looking at them in Photoshop.  Out of the hundreds of pictures I take during the 48 hours, my initial selection is anywhere from 10 to 20 images, and then I pare it down further to about 5 or 6.

This year, there was a bit of a theme to some of my photos.  I had a section of town that included one of the island’s high schools.  It was early morning as I walked around and took pictures, and there was a nostalgic feeling in the air.  I tried to capture that nostalgia in the finished products:

Go JetsWillie Stargell Field






Worn Out

I also found a cool, rundown garage in my section, which looks even cooler in black and white . . .

Run Down Garage

. . . and a serene waterfall . . .

Relaxing Waterfall

. . . but these last two pieces are probably my favorites; although for different reasons.

ReflectionFirst, there’s the piece titled “Reflection.”  As I’ve mentioned before, I love to capture light play, and the sun reflecting off of the shiny globe on the statue’s head was amazing to see.  It brought to my mind the power of our thoughts (or inner reflection), hence the double meaning behind the title.




Psychedelic Flower WheelThe last one is one of those pieces that I don’t “see” until later in Photoshop.  I was editing a photo of a beautiful flower, when I went a little too far in the saturation and color balance.  The psychedelic look captured my imagination, and I initially thought of doing something akin to Andy Warhol’s famous Marilyn Monroe piece, but as I thought about it further, I decided to instead turn it into a wheel.  As it began to take shape, I saw that the leaves behind the flowers could help accent the shape and the center leaves formed their own flower petals.  And so, “Psychedelic Flower Wheel” came to be.




The AOC exhibit is normally on display for the months of April and May, but it’s being delayed this year due to some renovations.  But fear not, the exhibit WILL happen, and I’ll let you know when.  Stay tuned to our Facebook page for the announcement.

To Add or Not

I’ve been having a slight existential crisis about my photography lately.  Specifically, I’ve been wondering what my artistic voice or style is.

According to this great article on, there are four phases of developing your creative voice, and I feel like I’m somewhere between Phase 1 and Phase 2 right now.  I’m still trying to learn what I can about my craft, and still fiddling around with my camera to find the best ways to capture on “film” what I see in my mind’s eye.

And then, there’s what happens when I fiddle around in Photoshop with the pictures I’ve taken . . .

Most times, I simply enhance the color or saturation of my photos, or remove an unphotogenic piece of the overall picture.  But every once in a while I get a bit of whimsy in my craw and create something that seems a departure from my other photos.

Railroad-RorshachFor example, during my first foray into the Alameda On Camera (AOC) exhibit at the Frank Better Center for the Arts, I took the black and white image of an old set of train tracks, and mirrored the image once, then again.  The potholes in the pavement–when mirrored against each other–seemed to me to look like a Rorschach Test.  So, Railroad Rorschach became the title.  It’s one of my favorite pieces, but has gotten very little love.


Ode to EscherThen, the following year of AOC, I came up with two fanciful pieces.  I’d drawn a housing subdivision as my section that year, and all I could see were the columns, columns, columns of these cookie-cutter houses.  I’m not sure why, but that led me to think about M.C. Escher’s Belvedere.  So, being a HUGE Escher fan, I took on the daunting task of turning all the columns I saw (as well as other things I’d taken pictures of that weekend) into this amazing piece of visual trickery.  Ode to Escher didn’t turn out quite the way I wanted (though you can definitely see the resemblance), and it wasn’t too well received.

That same year, I also happened to take lots of pictures of the lawn animals that adorned the lawns in my section.  For some reason the song Teddy Bear Picnic came to mind and I wondered what it would look like if all of the lawn ornaments got to take a little break from their regular positions, and enjoy a day out at a local park (which was in the same section).  This wound up being a diptych, titled Gnome Garden Party.  At the exhibit’s opening night I heard lots of people say they thought it was a cute idea, which felt good.GnomeGardenParty - Blog

Some-Assembly-RequiredMother EarthLast year, I saw two rocket-shaped structures sitting outside a party store warehouse and thought how funny it would be if someone were to try to sell the rockets, but with Some Assembly Required.  And this year, I saw a cool lawn ornament with a globe and placed her out in the galaxy somewhere.  Mother Earth didn’t even make the cut of being added to the exhibit, but I’ve since heard some people say they like it very much.

The lack of love for these whimsical images doesn’t stop me from doing them, but I wonder how commercially viable they’d be if I were to put them on the website and try to sell them.  And should I even try to add them to the site, since they seem a departure from my other photography?

Another case in point is a newly edited piece that I really like, but am not sure whether or not to add it to the site.  It’s not as whimsical as some of the other pieces discussed here, but if I were to add Spiral Silhouette to the website, would it go in the Stairs gallery, or in Miscellaneous?

Spiral SilhouetteI’d appreciate your feedback on that.

Meanwhile, I’m continuing to develop my own creative voice.  And right now, that voice seems to truly reflect who I am: someone who likes looking at things from unusual angles and loves to see light play . . . but who also has a playful sense of humor from time to time.

And the Winners Are . . .

Every year that I’ve been a part of the Alameda on Camera exhibit, sponsored by the Frank Bette Center for the Arts, I’ve had a tough time knowing which pieces to submit.  Each of the 48 artists are guaranteed at least one piece to be displayed, but each artist may have even more than that, depending on how many are submitted overall, and how they work in the layout of the gallery.

I’m sure part of what makes it difficult for me is that I still don’t have a fully objective eye when it comes to my stuff.  While I might think I took an awesome shot–maybe because of the difficulty I went through to acquire said picture–perhaps that image doesn’t translate well to others.  After all, unless the viewing public was there when I took the picture, they have no idea if it was the first one I took, or the 31st.

I tend to take anywhere from 300-900 pictures during the 48 hours we’re given to shoot for the exhibit, but I tend to narrow it down to about 10 that I really like, and then I whittle it down further to print/mat/frame just 4 or 5 pieces to deliver to the gallery.  When the people at FBCA lay out the gallery with all the images, there’s usually one of mine that doesn’t make the cut (which is true for other artists, again, depending on how many have been submitted).  Last year, the one that was cut was my favorite, and this year, the one that didn’t make it was the one I spent the most time on, but I understand . . . not everything is going to be worthy of being hung.

So, that being said, here are the ones that DID make the cut this year.  I’m very proud of them, and I hope you enjoy them, too.

Window-and-GateFirst up is this quaint window with a wrought iron gate around the bottom of it.  When I saw this, it immediately made me think of the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet.  The window’s much smaller than it might appear here, so Juliet would’ve had to have been no taller than four feet, if she were to recite her monologue from here, but I still found it romantic enough.





Wagon-WheelThe next one I’ve titled Wagon Wheel.  The house itself was a little run down, which, in color, wasn’t much to look at, but when I turned it black and white, the ramshackle-ness of it helped evoke a feeling of the Old West.






Next we come to my favorite part of this year’s event . . . morning dew.  That Saturday morning was foggy in other parts of the island (as you can see from one of Craig’s photos, here), but in my section, that meant there was a lot of condensation on the flora.  I love capturing light in my images, so I’m sure you won’t be surprised when you learn that more than half of the shots I took were trying to capture this somehow.  Both of the ones that I turned in made it, thankfully.  Here is the first:

Morning-Dew-on-Yellow-FlowerAnd here is the second:

Flower-with-Dew-BWThey’re the same type of flower, though not from the same bush, but the first looked so much better with the color pop, while the second is much prettier in black and white.

I’ve heard that it’s a bad idea for an artist to fall in love with his/her work, but I just can’t help it with these two . . . it’s been a small goal of mine to be able to capture the morning dew in such a manner, and I’m very proud of what I came up with.

This year’s event is filled with even more lovely images from many talented artists, some of whose work you can see here.  The exhibit will be going on through the end of May, so if you’re over on the east side of the San Francisco Bay, I encourage you to stop on by and check it out.  You can find the center’s hours here. All of the images above (as well as the ones Craig submitted this year) are available on our website for purchase now, so check them out!

Do Yourself a Favor; Come to a Gallery

As Alyx wrote last time in this blog, it’s time for the Alameda On Camera Event again at Frank Bette Center for the Arts. I would like to personally invite you to the gallery to check it out. It doesn’t cost anything and there’s plenty of free parking. The Gala Opening event takes place 4/10/15 at 7 to 9pm. That’s this Friday.

If you can’t make it for the opening, don’t panic. This event will be up in the gallery until May 30th.
For those of you who would like to know how the Alameda On Camera, or 48-48-48 event works, check out Alyx’s blog from last year that explains the in’s and out’s.

Seriously, when was the last time you ventured out and checked out a gallery? I think it’s time. For those living in the SF Bay Area, I want to emphasize that it’s not that difficult to get to Alameda. It’s a wonderful community just off the Bay Bridge and squeezed in beside Oakland. If you visit, you’ll see a lot of the charm and personality that we keep going on about, and that makes up the subject of the current photography/art exhibit at Frank Bette. And it’s all FREE (did I mention that?)!

Here is the address and a map to the gallery so you don’t have to go hunt it down.
Frank Bette Center for the Arts
1601 Paru Street (at Lincoln)
Alameda, CA 94501

Here are a few images that I took for this year’s event that I didn’t submit for the final images.

Model T at Sunset - BWFoggy Marina Line-Up






School Buses in the FogVictorian Porch with Green Man OrbVictorian and Palm Tree






As Alyx mentioned in the last Blog, if you know when you’re going to be visiting, drop us a note. We’d love to hear from you, and may be able to meet you there and show you around the place. Don’t be shy, and enjoy the art.

AOC 2015

It’s that time again . . . time for the annual Alameda on Camera exhibit, put on by the Frank Bette Center for the Arts!

One of the things I love about this exhibit is that it gives me a chance to see and learn new things about this lovely island I live on.  Not only do I get that chance during the weekend of picture-taking, but I also get to explore Alameda in the pieces submitted by the other artists.

It’s also fun and interesting to see myself grow as a photographer.  Each year, I’ve submitted images that are unique from the previous or following year’s pieces.  Part of that is due to having a different section, to be certain, but part of it also has to do with where I am as an artist that year.

This year, I drew the section of the island where Craig and I live, so thankfully I didn’t have to drive anywhere to shoot my pictures.  When I went out on Saturday and Sunday, I was able to just take a nice walk around my neighborhood.  I was still out for a good several hours, but it was quick and easy to come back to home base.  And–even though I’ve seen much of this area for the last two years–I still saw things I’d never noticed before:

There’s a house on my street that looks like a face House_with_a_Face


On another street, a bunch of Birds of Paradise gathered together for a social event


And I caught some great shots of the morning dew on flowers and plants

Morning_Dew_on_Rose_Leaves Morning_Dew_on_Yellow_Flower









But, as great as these finds were, they weren’t the images I chose to submit to this year’s exhibit.  In order to see those, you’ll have to come to the gallery.  😉  Just kidding.  I’ll post the images that I submitted (and that were hung up) in next month’s blog.  I don’t want to post them here before they’re up in the gallery.

Craig also got chosen for this year’s exhibit.  His section was on the other side of the island, so he had to take the car, but he also got some great shots . . . but I’ll let him write about that.

If you’re in the San Fransisco Bay area, we hope you’ll stop on by and check out the exhibit.  It runs from April 3rd through May 30th.  The gala opening is on Friday, April 10th, but feel free to come any day that it’s open.  If you come on a weekend, let Craig or I know, and we’ll gladly meet you and show you around the space.  Stop on by the Frank Bette website in order to see their hours.