Google Maps Wizard, where have you been all my life?

Not surprisingly, at a sailing magazine we do a lot of stories about travelling and sightseeing while being on a boat. Of late, I’ve been tasked to do a lot of location maps to go along with those articles, oftentimes very last minute.

When trying to get a nice reference map, Google is pretty much THE go-to place, but sometimes you do get some information overload.

Screenshotting and editing a map from Google can be a pain when you’re dealing with tons of labels and markers. Frustrated, I wondered if there was a way to just turn off all the extra junk. All I want is two colors – one for land, and one for sea.

I discovered a handy online map styler for that uses the functionality of Google maps mixed with the power to alter the form. With some practice and playing around I learned to turn this:

into this:

Which, when imported for use in photoshop lets me do something closer to this:

Someone just got a coveted spot on my bookmarks bar!

While the wizard’s intention is to give users of G-Maps API a little more power for whatever their project is, this is also a pretty indispensable tool for designers and artists as well – whether you plan on doing digital work or need a clean reference for something else.

Just some tips from the Izzie-bot.

Homemade Lightbox – It’s like an early Christmas!

It’s amazing how one simple project over the course of a few days can make a HUGE difference.

Not long ago I was browsing an online forum for nail art enthusiasts and came across a poster who had fantastic photos. I asked her how she made them look so great and she tipped me to home-made do-it-yourself light-boxes.

I immediately scoured google for directions and dragged my poor boyfriend across Boston – from art stores to Home Depot – for supplies to make this a reality. In a matter of two days we had the thing built and the lights on – and the photos we were able to take right after looked amazing. He’s also seemingly more excited about it than I am!

Although photography is mostly a hobby right now, the quality of lighting and photographs has escalated my final shots to another level. This is a big plus for me as I continue to explore working with my DSLR.



An Adventure in Photography With Onne Van Der Wal

onne-workshop-sunset-2Over the summer I had an amazing opportunity to accompany one of our editors on a photo excursion down in Newport, CT. The assignment was to cover a series of classes taught by Onne Van Der Wal, one of the most well known marine photographers in the industry.


His “Workshops on the Water” has been ongoing for four summers now, bouncing around from location to location, and has proven to be extremely popular. The gist is he rents a boat and takes around 15 photography enthusiasts out on the water, teaching them the importance of lighting, angles, camera settings, and the right lens. Most importantly, he stresses patience – as often, the perfect shot comes in a perfect moment.

It reminded me a bit of a photo assignment of a different kind a few years ago, one in a studio rather than out on the open water.

Despite a low-light, overcast day, our excursion was absolutely wonderful. I learned a lot listening to Onne talk to the group, although I shied away from asking many questions myself. I was pleasantly surprised by his utter humility – over my years working with freelance photographers and illustrators, I’ve definitely encountered my fair share of divas. But Onne is so incredibly down to earth it was almost odd!


He’s a Canon man, and I came with my Nikon D5100 in tow (maybe my powershot counts?). So I did miss out on a solid opportunity to use the incredible lenses that he had set out for everybody to test, including some yet-to-be publically released models. We got a lovely gift bag of photography goodies as well, including nice lens clothes and a memory card holder that I use regularly.

We’ll be covering the excursion in detail in a future photography-themed issue of SAIL (well, fingers crossed!)


New Item – Livin’ the Dream

I think one of the  biggest lessons I learned taking Editorial Design in college was refining juxtaposition for photo-heavy layouts. That was a tough class, the teachers being key designers for the NY Times magazine, so it was pretty grilled into my head that the overall flow of a story’s images is important.

That class was focused mostly on fashion but I think I still carry a lot of those lessons with me today. Though the opportunities are rare, I’m a huge fan when I’ve got a feature that includes a lot of great photos and space. Unfortunately I don’t get those chances often – budgets kind of limit our ability to really push our photography and features are usually reserved for our art directors.

I got to work on this little 3-pager on a Bahamas charter that included a lot of great moments with the editor’s adorable daughter. Unfortunately my original concept got cut because the story wasn’t about the girl but rather the destination – shame, she’s cute as a button, but I still had fun breaking out of ye’olde column rut to flex my design a bit.

Under Design > Edit & Ads

Sail Magazine, Aug 2013

Sail Magazine, Aug 2013

Here’s a twist – fall, and a fresh start.

Romantic-autumn-daydreaming-18932448-1024-768After a few weeks of tweaking and feedback, I’ve finally settled on a design and theme both for the site and my resumé.

I know it’s a long-time coming but the summer was adventurous and warm up here in Boston, so many a fine distraction was had.

Now that autumn has descended upon us rather quickly, I think it’s an interestingly good time for a fresh start (as opposed to spring maybe!).

I’m enjoying these last few weeks of semi-warmth and sunsets after I get out of work. New England winters can be cold and long. But the Holidays are coming!



Almost there – To Do List

The main galleries are up, finally, and functional.

Next on the agenda:

• Site Design
• Completed Resume
• Photo-retouching gallery