Wednesday, February 29, 2012

In the Trees

blown away


Today's Quotography challenge theme is "trees" so I took my camera to the park across the street from work to see what I could capture on my lunch hour - hoping to add to my cache of bird shots for World Bird Wednesday as well.

I hit the bird jackpot in a little section of brush beside a creek. Dozens of birds were flitting around playfully in the branches along with some squirrels. I was so excited when I caught this unlikely pair perching together. Unfortunately, the walkers on the trail were as intrigued by my camera as I was with the birds and just had to stop and chat me up about it - scaring them off before I could get a good steady shot.

2inthebush


Can someone tell me why people (perfect strangers no less) want to talk to you when you are clearly concentrating on photographing something? It's not like I was casually walking around lugging a camera. I was intensely focused on what I was doing. Surely, they must have seen that I was trying to photograph the birds, which do not sit and patiently wait for me to finish my conversation. Am I being ungracious and antisocial or does anyone else get really frustrated with this? With that big lens, I must appear to be more interesting than the Dos Equis dude.

After they left I positioned myself on top of a concrete pillar and sat very still until the birds came back - chickadees, titmice (titmouses? titmece?), cardinals (male and female) blue jays, and woodpeckers. At one point I counted about eight cardinals peeking out from behind branches. It is really hard to get close to a cardinal and my photographs of them never seem to be terribly sharp. I think it has something to do with that rich color and that they are always hiding behind branches that create depth of field issues.

So, anyway... I definitely stocked up on bird photos and today I'm sharing this Tufted Titmouse for World Bird Wednesday. If I'm wrong in my identification of this bird, let me know!

tufted titmouse


Today's Linkups

Quotography at {My}Perspective

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Texture Tuesday White eDition

its what's for breakfast


""White...is not a mere absence of colour; it is a shining and affirmative thing, as fierce as red, as definite as black...God paints in many colours; but He never paints so gorgeously, I had almost said so gaudily, as when He paints in white." -- G. K. Chesterton "

For some reason, without intention, this week seems to be all about color. Yesterday, was blue and today's Texture Tuesday theme is the color white. We are going to cover purple this week as the Magnetised by Life February challenge comes to a close, so I'm just going to go with it and pick a color for every day this week - or have it picked for me as it were.

Today's submission combines two of my favorite things that come in white - dishes and eggs. I do love eggs. Seriously, I eat them every day and sometimes twice (my cholesterol is perfect thank you). (If you are really into eggs like I am you might get a giggle out of this silly little video ode to eggs) For texture, I used Kim's "Plaster Squared" and desaturated it to remove some of the brownish tones.

While considering the color white, I came across this interesting website that explores it (and other colors as well) in depth. I was surprised to learn that there are more shades of white available commercially than any other color.

If it weren't for my coffee spilling problem, I would love to decorate in whites. I can barely even wear white without ruining it almost immediately. Maybe one day I'll have a white room like Kim, or maybe a semi-white room. :)



Today's Linkups


kimklassencafe

Monday, February 27, 2012

I Got the Blues

blue eyes


Today's Macro Monday theme over at Flickr is the color blue, so the blues are what we have for today. Born with blue eyes, a close up shot of my eyeball seemed like a logical choice.


My son also has a poker set that I spied when going through junk stored in the basement, so I let the chips fall and came up with this shot.

chips


While visiting with my parents on Saturday, I spied this cool blue mug. I took a couple of shots and it really lent itself well to some HDR style processing in Labs. I'm going back with some daisies to fill it with and see what I come up with.

bluecup


The monthly color theme for Magnitised by Life is also blue, so be prepared to see a lot of the blues in March. I am still finishing up with my purple images for the February mosaic and should be done by Wednesday's post.

Speaking of the blues, I have totally become enamoured with this artist who goes by the name of Rumer. With all the buzz about Adele (whom I also adore), this gal has something special and unique going on in her own right. She has a voice that is so clear that it rivals, dare I say exceeds, the late great Karen Carpenter. Check her out in the video below:



I'm sharing today with Lisa Gordon's Creative exchange. Have a great day all!

Today's Linkups

Sunday, February 26, 2012

More Family Portraits

Andrew, Elizabeth & Crockett


As I mentioned in my last post, yesterday was a big day for photography. The light outside was bright, which created an awesome environment for taking stills in my basement "studio." My goal was to have a week's worth of photos for the upcoming prompts and linkups ahead of time so I am not tempted to sacrifice sleep to get my blog out each day.

Of course, the world would not come to an end if I missed a day. In fact, there would be no ramifications whatsoever. This is a hobby for goodness sake, so why the pressure? Don't ask me.

My eldest son's girlfriend, Elizabeth, left yesterday to begin manager training at the restaurant chain who has been her employer for the last six years. Her job will eventually take her overseas after she completes her training. I wanted the opportunity to photograph them together so we planned a little session at grandma and grandad's place.

The image above cracks me up because grandog Crockett is clearly smiling for the camera. :)

Andrew & Elizabeth


Since Andrew is working nights, it was high noon before he woke up and the light was harsh. But, the lighting was pretty good and diffused in the barn so we took our shots in there.

Andrew & Elizabeth


We had fun playing around and getting funny shots. Crockett seemed to know just how to play his part.

Jealousy


Crockett was looking especially lovely from his trip to the doggie spa (aka the groomers) on Friday. I captured this portrait on the back deck. The light was so bright that it washed out most of the background anyway, so I used Topaz BW effects (hand tinted chiffon) to go ahead and take care of the background. I can see additional possibilities here for painterly effects and textures to really make a nice pet portrait.

crockett portrait


It is beginning to look like spring around here, and Crockett and I will leave you today with that happy thought.

crocket daffodils



Saturday, February 25, 2012

A Warm Couch on a Cool Afternoon

100 Camera in 1


Thanks to Geri at My Heart Art for introducing me to this great little iPad app called 100 Cameras in 1. This is a powerful little app for creating and saving all kinds of effects. The possibilities are truly endless.

The effects also have interesting names and I used "A Warm Couch on a Cool Afternoon" as the inspiration for this week's "in the picture" self portrait challenge. I did make some slight adjustments to the effect, and I just love the flexibility of this powerful little app.

This was a big day for picture taking and today's selfie was taken after I collapsed on the couch in the afternoon. Stay tuned for the results!


Today's Linkups

In The Picture

Friday, February 24, 2012

It Ain't Pretty

Scavenger Hunt 101 # 37 - A work of Art


Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but I didn't think this angel statue was particularly pretty. In fact, it was a bit frightening in a way. Since today's Pixel Dust Photo Art challenge was to show a piece of photo art that wasn't pretty, so I thought this fit the bill. Maybe I'm being a little harsh. She sure is interesting and does have a certain charm about her.

I used Bonnie's "Heavenly" texture on this one because it seemed appropriate for an angel. She's doing double duty as a "piece of art" for my Scavenger Hunt 101 challenge.

This angel stands outside a folk art shop called The Lemon Fair in Sewanee, TN

Also, not pretty is a dirty tractor, but construction equipment is also a scavenger hunt item, so there we go. One of my neighbors is doing some pretty extensive landscape work around their house. I'm sure they must wonder why on earth I wanted to take a picture of their tractor.

Scavenger Hunt 101 # 70 - Construction Equipment


Today's Linkups

Photo Art Friday

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Gratitude and Perspective

beanbowl2


This week over at Beyond Layers, Kim told a story about a man she encountered at the grocery store who was clearly struggling to stretch a little bit of money as far as it would go to buy food. In a spontaneous act of kindness, she paid his grocery bill. The man reminded her of the ways she has been blessed in her life, and asked us to consider our own blessings and share our stories of giving and gratitude.

The picture Kim painted of the bedraggled old man brought to mind memories of the early days of single motherhood when all I had to buy groceries for a week was $20 and a couple of WIC vouchers. Fast forward to last weekend, and the scene was vastly different as I dropped $250 at Kroger for food and sundries. Honestly, I did gasp at the bill, but there was a lot in there I really didn't need. The point is that I can just throw it in the cart if I want it and don't have to give it a second thought(even though I probably should). All my bills are paid with money left over, and it has been a very long time since I've lived paycheck to paycheck.

Much has changed in the twenty or so years between those two grocery trips, and the road has been far from smooth. But,I am grateful that during the past six years, when times got really hard for a lot of people, my income has steadily risen and my financial position has improved. That wasn't the case back at the turn of the century, (now how old does that make me sound?) when I and a lot of other IT folks found ourselves out of work when the tech bubble burst. The reality that I may face unemployment again is always there, but so far this time I've weathered the storm pretty well.

The old bowl pictured above belonged to my grandmother and the sight of it instantly gives rise to pleasant childhood memories. My MaMa and Pa never had a whole lot, but there were always beans and taters on the stove and cornbread in the oven. Countless servings of beans and bread were served in this bowl over the years.

My cousin and I snagged the last two remaining bowls when the family auctioned MaMa's worldly belongings after she passed. I normally display it on top of my corner cabinet in my kitchen.

Spring Morning


I have been thinking a lot about MaMa lately and Susan's story about selling her grandmother's home this week made me wish I had been into photography that day of the auction, which was the last day I spent at her home. So many things I would have captured that now only exist in mental snapshots tucked away in the archives of my memory.

Today's Linkups


beyondlayers


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Unidentified Flying Object

Unidentified flying object


For World Bird Wednesday, I thought I'd throw this little guy out there for possible identification. Today's photograph was taken in Sewanee, TN last April.

I was so hoping that I would have a bald eagle to show this week, and the small group that went in spite of the iffy weather forecast did indeed spot some and have the photos to prove it. Durn it. Maybe someday.

Speaking of weather, the theme for this week's Quotography challenge is weather. We've been having a good deal of weather this week. Snow, rain, thunderstorms, hail, and warm sunshine. Mother nature can't seem to make up her mind exactly what season she wants to be in right now. I captured a few snow shots on Sunday, and (fingers crossed) this will be all the snow we see this year.

This little copper sunflower almost looks like she's saying "Yea! Snow!" Yea...whatever. :)

snowflower


Today's Linkups

Quotography at {My}Perspective

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Like Sands Through the Hourglass...

the future


So are the days of our lives...

Sometimes life feels a bit more like a soap opera than I would like.

For today's Texture Tuesday challenge, Kim wanted to see what we could do with her lovely "Felicity" texture. This one was an instant fave, and given its ornate nature, I knew I needed a simple subject.

After returning from my morning walk, I noticed an hourglass peeking out from among items belonging to my son's girlfriend. She is getting ready to move out of the country for her job and is staying with us until she leaves for training next week.

I asked her if she minded me taking a picture of it, and she gave me permission and told me it was left to her by her grandpa. She knew he brought it back from another country, but didn't know many details about it. It is precious to her and I'm grateful she allowed me to photograph it.

My time is up for today. Once again, I would like to thank everyone for their encouragement. It has meant the world to me.

Today's Linkups

kimklassencafeSweet Shot DayScattered Horizons

Monday, February 20, 2012

Busy Bee

busybee


That's me! Going waaaaaaay back into the archives today ( April 2009) for something to share with the Creative Exchange. After yesterday's gloomy post I thought something a little brighter and more cheerful would balance things out.

The weather today is equally cheery and makes me long for spring to hurry up and get here already, but it looks like a roller coaster ride is in store with highs nearly 70 degrees one day and the next not even reaching 50. The week looks like it has some pleasing moments in store weatherwise, and I'll take all of them.


Today's Linkups

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Facing the Darkness

pain

Original Blessing: A Primer in Creation Spirituality Presented in Four Paths, Twenty-Six Themes, and Two Questions


It is difficult to admit to a dark time in a public forum, especially when you know that family and friends are reading. At the same time, life is not always tea and sunshine and who are we helping by pretending that it is?

Life is good. Being alive beats the alternative. But, there are dark nights when all one can do is face it, feel it, and move through it. That's what I'm doing now, and although there is much uncertainty clouding my vision, I am certain of one thing. That is, this is a spiritual journey and I know God is faithful. All is as it should be in this moment, and this all is a process.

Thanks for the encouraging words, emails and blessings. Part of my funk, other than the obvious, is due in part to the gray, dark and wet weather we are having. We had a little rain/snow mix today, which is really the first we've had in this unseasonably warm winter. The timing was unfortunate as I was intending to go to Reelfoot Lake with my photography group for a Bald Eagle tour. They are only offered in January and February. Bummer.

This type of weather tends to be energy zapping, and the gap between what I'd hoped to accomplish this weekend and what I actually managed to do has also contributed to my mood. But, I did manage rest, which is a good and necessary thing.

Determined to at least meet my goal of one self portrait a week, I submit this shot taken with my ipad and processed with Photoshop Express. There may be many ipad selfies this year.

I came across this poem when looking for a quote for the image (this month's challenge is to include words with our self portrait). It seemed appropriate for now and I'm looking forward to exploring more of this poets work. I hope you enjoy it, too.

When your eyes are tired
the world is tired also.

When your vision has gone
no part of the world can find you.

Time to go into the dark
where the night has eyes
to recognize its own.

There you can be sure
you are not beyond love.

The dark will be your womb
tonight.

The night will give you a horizon
further than you can see.

You must learn one thing:
the world was made to be free in.

Give up all the other worlds
except the one to which you belong.

Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learn

anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive
is too small for you.

~ David Whyte, Sweet Darkness


Today's Linkups

In The Picture

Saturday, February 18, 2012

A Quiet Corner

crockett2


“Dogs are wise. They crawl away into a quiet corner and lick their wounds and do not rejoin the world until they are whole once more.” Agatha Christie

I have very little to say today. The only thing grayer than the weather is my my mood. So, today I offer you a couple of sweet pics of my grandog Crockett never fails to bring a smile, however small, to my face.

crockett


Black and White effects courtesy of Topaz Labs.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Dreamwonder

dream


Today's PhotoArt Friday challenge was to use one of Bonnie's texture on an image and finesse the image using layer masks. My Valentine's flowers taking a final bow with her "Dreamwonder" texture. I also used Topaz on this, but honestly don't remember exactly what I did. But, I like the vintage feel.

Busy day today, so I'm out. TGIF!




Today's Linkups

Photo Art Friday

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Mental Vacation

Cozumel


Four years ago, I did something brave.

I went on a week-long Caribbean Cruise all by myself. For some, this would not be considered exceptionally brave. There were many single women on board and they weren’t first-time adventurers either. In fact, I know quite a few intrepid women who trot around the globe without a second thought.

I'm not one of them, but I aspire.

I’ve traveled internationally, but never alone. There was a time in my life that a trip to the grocery store was the extent of my solo excursions. It wasn’t until my divorce that I had to move outside of my comfort zone and learn to confidently navigate my way to places outside my little corner of the world. Even a commute downtown was anxiety inducing, but I had no choice.

Since then, I have spread my travel wings a bit wider with frequent work related trips and some personal stateside jaunts.

But, the marketing tagline hooked me immediately: Remember the time you fell in love with music?

Yes, I did!

The very first Cayamo Cruise, a singer/songwriter themed event, was billed as a Journey Through Song. One look at the bookings and I knew that this would be more than a vacation for me. The lineup represented artists whose work had been the soundtrack to my life through the years.

I’ve always been a music lover, but I fell in love when I discovered the singer/songwriter genre. The right song lyric at the right time proved to have tremendous healing and transformative powers. I discovered this at a time when I needed it most. There is no better way to listen to it than live.

With a fairly recent break-up behind me and my youngest child leaving for the Marine Corps in just a few months, I was acutely aware that my life was undergoing a major transition. A new phase was beginning and I could think of no better way to say arrivaderci to the past and launch the next leg of my journey than spending a week immersed in the music that had sustained me through the years.

By the time I boarded, I had made new friends via the cruise message board and we hung out together through the journey, forging friendships that we continue to this day. We dubbed ourselves "Zona Dos" which was nothing more than our boarding zone (zone two) but it sounded much more exciting in Spanish. The cruise has become an annual event, and the core group of original cruisers have reunited every year since. Except for me, that is.

I’ve been tempted to go again myself, and have come close to booking several times. But the ship has sailed four more times without me, but I would very much like to go again. Schedule conflicts, a new relationship and other obstacles caused me to miss the proverbial boat time after time.

Then again, there was also something so special about that week of my life that there is a part of me that wants to keep it in my memory pure and undiluted by new experiences. I'm not counting it out though.

Shortly after my return, I created a little video montage about my Cayamo experience, set to the song "I Don't Know Why" by Shawn Colvin who was one of the performers aboard. I share it with you today as I remember when I fell in love with music and remember how music has the power to get me through.

It makes me smile as I think about how I felt back then - optimistic, independent, with a vision of bright happy and fulfilling life ahead of her. So much has happened since then, and she's sort of bobbing about like an tiny boat without an anchor. But, I know she's still in there...she just needs to recalibrate her compass.


Today's Linkups

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Valentine's Day Surprises

My first valentine


I made it through yesterday pretty well, all things considered. These lovely flowers from my dad came in the afternoon and were so sweet I had to share. Even though it looks like the roses on the card were a part of the design, they are actually the entire bouquet that I photographed and layered on top of the image in multiply and soft blend modes in Photoshop. The somewhat vintage effect was acheived using Topaz Labs BW effects plugin.

OWP badgeAnother lovely surprise was in store as I checked my flickr page and learned my photo of my daughter-in-law leaping into my son's arms last week was the daily one word project feature over at Shutter Sisters for Valentine's day. This was super exciting for me.

It was also ironic considering that I first discovered Shutter Sisters on the long drive back home from seeing him off, exploring the whole website over the 13 hour drive home (while Katie drove, of course!) I immediately bought their book Expressive Photography as soon as I got home. One blog led to another blog and then another, and here I am with my own and a new community of friends and creative cohorts who inspire me daily. It seems so appropriate that my first time being featured on the sisters' site was the happy resolution to the situation that lead me to them in the first place.

leap


No linky linky for me today. I'm just a tad too busy and got some much needed catch up sleep last night. Until later, hope everyone has a wonderful Wednesday.
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