19 March 2015

Tribute to Michael Graves. Architecture in El Gouna, Egypt

A stairwell in the Steigenberger Golf Resort
A stairwell in the Steigenberger Golf Resort
I was sad to hear of the death of Michael Graves, renowned architect and designer.  On March 12, Mr. Graves died of natural causes in his home in Princeton, New Jersey. He was 80.

Over the years, I could recognize Mr. Graves' designs or architecture all over the world.
His design was distinct and had a big impact on me. I remember the first time that my husband and I drove down to the El Gouna resort in southern Egypt. We had reservations at the Steigenberger resort. I had only seen a tiny photo of a room, so I had no idea that this entire golf resort was designed by Graves.

On the approach to the Steigenberger, I was pleasantly surprised to see the weird group of buildings with beautiful smooth lines, shapes, and subtle desert colours.

It was fascinating to be surrounded in his quirky style, all open for me to explore. Stairwell are cleverly disguised like castle towers. Tagine- topped towers dot the banks of the surrounding lagoon.
The lagoon surrounding the Steigenberger Golf Resort
The lagoon surrounding the Steigenberger Golf Resort
Our stay at the Steigenberger was so good that we returned many times whenever we visited the resort.
Entrance to the Steigenberger Golf Resort in El Gouna
Entrance to the Steigenberger Golf Resort in El Gouna

Steigenberger Golf Resort in El Gouna
Steigenberger Golf Resort in El Gouna

Mr. Graves' work can be found all over the Orascom development in El Gouna, Egypt.

Villas in El Gouna
Villas in El Gouna

Villas in El Gouna
The tagine topped villas of El Gouna.
El Gouna Villa

Steigenberger Golf Resort in El Gouna

Villas in El Gouna
Villas in El Gouna

Entrance to a Villa in El Gouna

Entrance to a Villa in El Gouna
Villas in El Gouna
Entrance to a Villa in El Gouna
A view of a Michael Graves villa in El Gouna, Egypt
A view of a Michael Graves villa in El Gouna, Egypt.
The Coptic church inspired by Michael Graves design
The Coptic church inspired by Michael Graves design

09 March 2015

DIY: Secure a Wood Photo Panel with Picture Hanging Wire

Some time ago, I decided to enter a few photo pieces into an art show. It wasn't until after I paid the entry fees and read the fine print that I realized that all the artwork entries were required to be mounted with wire.

For my framed images, this wasn't a problem. But, for the solid wood panel that I printed at Snapfish.com, it proved to be a little challenge.

My DIY solid wood photo panel hanging system at the art exhibit.
First, I attempted to get a nail into the slotted openings at the back of the picture. It didn't work because the backing is nearly impossible to penetrate and I was worried that I would damage the image.

Command™ Wire-Backed Picture
Hanging Hook.
Turn it upside down to create
the hook for the wire.
After many google searches to find DIY help, I didn't find any suitable results. I decided to visit the local Walmart picture framing section to see what I could find.

With my makeshift wire hanging supplies in hand, I took to creating my own DIY photo panel wire hanger.

My goal was to make the hanging system hang securely through 3 days of the show.

Here's what I used:

3M Command Wire-backed picture hanging tabs , braided picture wire and duct tape.




Instead of the hooks being stuck to the wall, they are turned upside down,
and affixed to the back of the photo panel.
First I centered the picture hanging hooks on the back of the panel. I turned the hook upside down wrapped the wire a few times around the hook, like a lasso. I secured it with duct tape so the wire didn't slip off the hook.

Next, I measured the wire so that it would land about 1-1/2 inches from the top of the frame. I wrapped the wire around the second hook, then cut the wire. Again, I secured it with duct tape.

The duct tape keeps the wire on the plastic hook and
it keeps the wire from fraying or cutting someone.

Exhibits or galleries using a wire system require that the wire on the back of the artwork is at least three inches from the top of the piece. Usually a single wire is used for lighter pieces and two wires for heavier bulkier pieces.

The wire lands about 1-1/2 inches from the top of the frame.

Since many art shows require art entries to be hung on gallery hanging systems, I hope this might help someone out that needs to securely mount a photo panel or wood-mounted image.

End Result

The photo panel hung securely for the entire weekend of the show. After the show, it hung on the wall for almost 8 weeks before the adhesive from the 3M hook came loose.
It worked great. The event coordinators were excited to see my DIY handiwork. And, I was able to exhibit the photo.
Hope this will help you too. If it does, please let me know.

ps: sorry for the crummy pictures. It wasn't until someone asked me how I mounted the wood panel that I realized I should have taken better behind the scenes pictures.

31 January 2015

My upcoming class "Photoshop Basics for Photographers" in western North Dakota

If you're in the Dickinson, North Dakota area, consider signing up for class. I'm teaching Photoshop Basics for Photographers. 2 pm to 3:30 pm, Saturdays 14, 21 and 28 February and 7 March.



darla hueske photoshop photographer


14 January 2015

Snow What! No Need to Hibernate

As winter solstice slides us into the deep winter months, gray skies and colds temps don’t need to drop us into hibernation. Some of the most exhilarating outdoor adventures can be found when snow is knee deep and temperatures nip the single digits. So, grab your poles and head for the hills.
Snow pack roads are still drivable. Just take it slower.

When planning for an off-road winter trek, prepare for an early start since days are short and hiking or skiing in snow can be long.
Getting away from the Bakken oil trucks is a great reason to retreat to the backcountry.

Always check weather and road conditions for your entire route. In north country, it can be sunny and calm in one area and whiteout blizzard conditions a mere thirty miles away.
The surprise of deer, antelope or buffalo is always exciting.

Snowshoeing the rolling hills of western North Dakota can feel like most mountainous areas and is the best way to discover the surprises of winter environments.
Early morning snow hikes offer beautiful diamonds.

But, cold temperatures and snow present very vigorous challenges. If a three-mile hike is a cinch in the summer, be sure to double or triple the time for a winter hike. Loose snow and ice can slow down even the most ardent hiker.

Hiking or backcountry skiing in extreme weather demands proper equipment. Invest in good equipment and dress like an onion with plenty of layers.

Though it feels frigid at the trailhead, your body starts to generate heat after just 10 to 15 minutes of walking, especially if you've chosen a strenuous trail. Dressing in layers will allow you to balance your internal temperatures by adding or removing hat, gloves or jacket. When you get indoors, your body will be ready to handle the warm air.
A breathable ski mask is preferred. Try to find a wicking material that won't crystalize in cold temperatures.

While no trek is the same, neither is a trekker's favorite gear. But, there are basic items that every winter hiker should have before hitting the trail. Winter hikers invest in high-quality foundation items.
A good pair of water proof snowshoes is a must.

Start with a good pair of snow boots that are fitted to snowshoes that support your weight. Add another layer of protection with knee-high gaiters.

Next, keep your body warm with wicking underwear, another layer of breathable clothing and top with waterproof trousers, Finally, an insulated jacket system with an inner and outer jacket, hiking poles, warm hat, liner gloves with outer-gloves or mittens, and goggles or polarized sunglasses.
Skis, backpack, hats.
Any off-trail hikes, snowshoed or not, are likely to be rigorous, especially in deep, powdery snow, If the going gets tough, be prepared to turn around. Focus on the entire adventure, not just a destination or trails end.
Extraordinary landscapes of western North Dakota
On the trail, you want to hydrate with water or electrolytes. After the hike, a local micro brew or warm drink is a welcomed warmer-upper.

Everything tastes better after a hike.

Add caption

A vigorous hike deserves a delicious reward. Treat yourself to a great meal. Plan to visit your favorite spot to fill you up with comfort food. Whether it is a cozy bar with great burgers, or a lively pizza hangout, find a place where you don’t have to worry about your appearance or aroma.

After coming in from the cold, it is tempting to chow down on everything. But, keep your food and alcohol intake in moderation.

Hiking in the cold will dehydrate you and it is easy for your body to cramp up. A good serving of water will hydrate you and open your appetite for a meal well deserved.


Western North Dakota is geared for the outdoors, so it is easy to find a great pub that serves up delicious comfort food and award winning regional micro brewed beers.

15 November 2014

Ribbon at the Badlands Regional Art Show

Last week, the 40th Annual Badlands Regional Art Show took place. There were many delightful entries from beautiful oil paintings to dimensional sculpture.

As part of a class requirement, I asked my university senior art students to enter the show. In the spirit of collaboration, I agreed that I would enter two of my photographs. It was fun to walk through the exhibit and find a 3rd place ribbon on my photograph.
"Raking in In" took 3rd place out of more than 40 photography entries
This is a photo of movement of the hay rake. I took the picture this summer as the guys were preparing to bale hay. I was out early one summer morning taking pictures when I saw them baling hay. I decided to watch and take some shots as they rounded the field. I stood right inline with the tractor and rake as my nephew passed by me and my camera. No long lens. This is either a testament to trust or stupidity.

01 November 2014

The Veil is Lifted. Embrace Your Shadow.

Modern Halloween is often associated with the Celtic festival of Samhain. Whether you celebrate Halloween or Samhain, in the northern hemisphere, the holiday heralds the end of autumn and signals the dark days of winter. 

Spirits. Souls. Sparks. 

The belief is that during Samhain, the living could visit with the dead and the dead could walk among the living. Other celebrations such as All Souls Day and Día de Muertos honour loved ones who passed from the earth. We were all born and one day we will all die, these celebrations of death help us acknowledge and internalize the beauty of death so that we can live our lives with more awareness and meaning. Our soul’s desire is to live and create. 

Self. Shadow. Source. 

As the winds of autumn flutter open the thin veil between worlds, it is a time of extraordinary opportunity to explore your shadow side: the parts you keep hidden, the qualities, behaviours, and motivations that may be difficult for you to acknowledge. Your shadow separates you from your full Self, your creative source, your muse. Connect with your shadow. Ignite your muse. Take this time to rest, meditate and gather your creative fertility, embrace your shadow self and live like you’re going to die.

17 August 2014

Emotion, Commotion, Motion

Sadness.
   Depression.
     Loneliness.
We are all on this path together, yet in our own individual ways.
We walk.
We rest.
We move ahead, or not.
Ultimately, it is our choice.