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Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Day Of Beauty and Relaxation

 
I can't believe it!  I'm caught up on my classes! My latest assignment is sitting in my inbox, but I haven't read it yet!!  I'm jumping in here before reading it to post some pictures of my day trip to Wildwood Park. I went for a camera-less walk for a class assignment and then went back with my camera.  (you can read about my walk here if you'd like) I wanted to share some of the images I captured that day.

 
There are several areas of the park. These pictures were taken in the Gertrude Remmel Butler Gazebo Garden which is beside a lovely lake complete with a swan and several geese. I watched the swan for a long time as I sat on a bench by the lake. Swans are so beautiful, so graceful and elegant. She reminded me of myself, not the beautiful, graceful, elegant part, but that she was alone. Perfectly content and happy where she was even if she was by herself.

I've been trying to expand my photography. I normally like to take close-up nature shots. As I walked without my camera, I begin to realize that by doing so, I'm sometimes missing the bigger picture. I decided to concentrate more on landscape pictures, instead of constantly looking for close-up shots. That didn't stop me from taking macro shots. They are still my favorite!

 As I enter this section the first thing I saw that fascinated me was a large area of bushes or grasses with these incredible curlicues bursting from the top.  The bushes were about almost as tall as I am. I have no idea what they are. Their textures and shapes were amazing!  The top left photo is my favorite.  These fibers were perfectly curled. Not one twig out of place!!

Of course, I had to take several pictures of the flowers that were still in bloom. These were all grouped together in a very lovey perennial area. It was really windy and I had the hardest time getting the flowers in focus.

There was someone else visiting the flowers. I didn't spot this spider until I was looking at the pictures on the computer trying to decide which pictures to use on my blog. I cropped this image to get a closer view of the Hummingbird Mint and there he was, web included!  I love these happy surprises.

Seedpods and withering leaves were everywhere.  These are from the Yucca plant, or so the sign said. They had such an interesting shape and form. This one has popped open and you can see the black seeds! Until this fall, I never really looked for the beauty of fall in the seedpods, dying flowers and withered leaves.  I'm grateful that photography has opened my eyes to the beauty we are blessed with.

I have never seen a fern growing on a tree. It's called the Resurrection Fern. The fern was pretty high up in the tree. I was holding my camera way above my head trying to get a picture. As you look up at the fern, it looks like thousands of palm leaves waving in the wind. The tree itself was very unusual. The curve is the trunk of the tree that is bending over, I wondered if may have been bent over from high winds. Anyway, growing straight up in the air is a branch!  The trunk was horizontal and the branch vertical. Nature can teach us so much. Life doesn't always go as we plan. Only God knows the plan for our life. It takes turns and twists that we don't expect. Like this tree, we need to learn to be adaptable and persevere. And, trust that God's knows best for us.

As you would suspect by the name of the garden, it contains a very lovely gazebo at the far end of the lake. According to what I read, Mrs. Butler was not pleased with the looks of the gazebo. She thought it looked more like a boathouse. I really don't agree with her, I think it's a lovely gazebo. I love that it was made out of rock instead of wood and I love the arches.

I've always wanted to take a picture of an arch and it's shadow! I finally found my arch and there was the shadow. I took pictures of the shadow from every angle I could think of!

The trees here are just beginning to show some color. This area should reach it's peek color in a couple of weeks. I'm looking forward to returning and looking at the fall foliage around the lake.

It was such a pretty day and a beautiful peaceful spot to sit and relax. When things slow down again, I'll be back to post about another section of the park.

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Lowly Rag


Before you think I'm crazy, let me explain why I'm taking pictures of car wash rags. Our  latest assignment for Find Your Eye: Journey Of Inspiration is about "point of view."  I remember the first time someone commented on one of my photos saying it had a nice POV. I had no idea what that stood for.  So, what do we do when we want information...we Google it. The position, direction and height of the camera define the point of view of a picture. You can change the way a subject is perceived by changing the camera position.

In nature I experiment with POV a lot. I love to get under a mushroom and see the details or behind a flower and take the side we rarely see. One of my fellow classmates decided to just use an ordinary object (hers was a tin can) and find a view that made it lovely. She did it. She took some great photos. I decided to follow her example. Since it was raining I went looking around the house for something to photography. I spotted this brightly colored roll of rags and proceeded to experiment.

I like the lines in this view.
They curl around from the center into forever.

This one I like the shapes.
They look like little triangles all standing in a row.


Of course, there has to be one macro shot in the bunch.
Who knew a knot could be so interesting!!
I like the lines this view created in the background.

There was something relaxing about taking photos of rags. I had fun. I took thirty-one pictures of rags!! Maybe I enjoyed it because there was no pressure. When I take a picture of a flower I want the photo to come out stunning. But, when I took the pictures of the rags I concentrated more on the lesson. Thanks, Deborah, for the great idea!!  They are not "beautiful" photos, but they are interesting.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Textures

What would the world be without textures? Flat, lifeless, dull.  I like to look up the definition of words, even words I know. The definition of texture is "the visual and especially tactile quality of a surface." In my words, what we can see and what we can touch on a surface is texture. Our latest exploration for Exploring With A Camera is to find texture. As you know, I’m a nature photographer. I like the sound of that let me say it again…I’m a nature photographer. Someone pointed that out to me just yesterday and if felt really good!!! Nature is filled with texture! That is one of the reasons I love nature photos. For this exploration, though, I decided to stray away from nature and find texture on other surfaces. Now, I did include a couple of nature shots, how could I not!!
I leave you with textures!

old rusty vehicles are a great place to find texture

weather wood, pealing paint, and interesting door handle

iron work, fabric, leather, shoestrings

I know you've seen this before,
but I wanted an example of
textures in fabrics and stitching and this is perfect.

This is my favorite, a magnolia pod.
Lots of textures here. Just look at the textures on the stem, the soft, fluffy pod, and the smoothness of the seeds. There's also grass and dirt.

Of course during this season I had to include a pumpkin!!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

My Photo Style


There are many things that inspire us to keep taking photos. One of them is our shooting style. I didn’t know I had one until I received the latest assignment from Kat’s Find Your Eye: Journey Of Inspiration. It makes sense that how comfortable we are with our camera influences our photography.

I travel fairly light. I carry a small bag, camera, spare battery, extra memory card, cleaning tools, notebook and pen. Although I have a large photo bag and two extra lens, I rarely take them with me. I have a tripod, but to me it’s just annoying…adjust this, make legs longer, adjust that, swivel this…too much trouble. I’m disappointed in that, I’ve found that I’m too shaky to hand-hold the camera with the zoom or the macro lens. I do keep practicing at home, maybe it will get easier!
I’m a morning person, which is a good thing since I love the soft morning light. I prefer outside light, but I do have a north facing window that gets fairly good light. As I look at images from others and even some of my own, I realize how important light is to a lovely photo.
I love being outside, so it's no surprise that my best photography is of nature. Many of my pictures are taken on our property and in the neighboring woods. But, also love to go to parks and gardens.
I love to just carry my camera. I rarely leave home without it any more. But, I’m equally excited about photo excursions. I find I get excited when I’m making a special trip just to take photos or when I’m out looking for a shot to fulfill a photo prompt. I give thanks to Kat for this!! She is the one that pushed me out of my comfort zone and into seeking new and wonderful places to take pictures.
I haven’t really settled on a style regarding what I like to photograph. I enjoy documenting everyday moments, family events such as birthdays, Christmas and outings with our grandchildren. I enjoy grabbing my camera and just going for a walk and I enjoy photographing with intention. Photo prompts and link-up groups are fun and keeps me looking for new things and fresh ideas. They also give me a chance to see other photographer's images. I enjoy trying to recreate the ones I really like. The image above is an example of being inspired by another’s work. I contacted her and she graciously explained how she achieved the shot. Then I gave it a try! Trying to recreate an image I like is a great learning tool.

I began my journey with a point and shoot and I still use it. It’s small and easy to tuck in my purse and takes pretty good macro shots. When I bought my first dSLR camera I started in auto and then began to learn manual. I find that with my grandchildren it’s always on auto. I don’t want to miss a moment just because I’m adjusting the camera settings. In my nature photography I go both ways right now. Most of the time I let the camera do the work. I use the auto+ and program mode a lot, because they give me more options. I also like to use the scene selection for landscape, sunset and macro. I am working on manual and practice using it on my excursions. If I had to pick between manual and auto right now, I would probably chose auto. At this point, the camera knows a whole lot more than I do!!

I’m usually alone when I’m taking pictures. Not necessarily by choice, I don’t know anyone nearby that has the same interest. If I’m with someone who doesn’t understand my photography, I feel uncomfortable and even embarrassed. I feel like others think I’m silly or weird! I also feel rushed since I hate to have someone waiting on me. Being with others with a like passion is fun. My sister and I have taken several photo days when we have a chance to be together.

All of these things combined are “my style”. When I’m being me and doing things in a way I enjoy, I’m the most comfortable and take photos that I love. As I learn more and grow my style may change. Who knows what may appeal to me further down the road of my journey.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Camera-less Photowalk

I went on the most unusual assignment for my class Find Your Eye: Journey of Inspiration with Kat Eye View Of The World. I went on a camera-less photo walk.  No camera, but a camera walk??  A 30 minute walk without a camera??  Yes, that was our assignment. By doing this, we would use our eyes to see...really see things we might overlook with a camera in our hands.  I already see so much more than I did a year ago when I discovered the art of photography, but I realized I could still see more. My chosen place for the walk was at Wildwood Park for the Arts which also includes botanical gardens.
The following is what I wrote after I finished the walk.

"I'm sitting at Wildwood park. I hear crickets, birds, ducks, cicadas, and the wind rustling the leaves on the trees. It's a chilly day, but, a beautiful sunny day. I came here to walk, to see and absorb nature without my camera. It was very hard at first. I wanted to run back to the car and get my camera. No, I couldn't leave it at home so I left it in the car. I knew after the walk I'd get my camera and retrace my steps. I literally had this anxious feeling. I need to take a picture of that!! Now!! Then I began to relax, to breath slowly, and to feel calm.  I began to look...really look closely and see the beautiful gifts of nature we are blessed with. I would stop, raise my eyes and look at what was above me, lower my eyes and look at what was beneath my feet, and then slowly turn in a complete circle letting my eyes  absorb everything they saw. Giving my mind time to register what my eyes were seeing. It was such an overwhelming experience that it brought tears to my eyes. All this...all this beauty was made for my pleasure. I wound up walking for an hour. No need to hurry, no need to grab my camera, after all, nature is going nowhere and I can capture it later."
I did decide to take my camera back and retraced my steps. I'll just give you a glimpse of what I saw, because there's no way I could list everything my eyes took in. I love macro photos of nature. I usually have my eyes focused to what is within just a few feet of me. This exercise helped me to look at the bigger picture. As is slowly walked and stopped to look around, I saw the whole forrest, not just a leaf or seed pod or acorn. The first area I walked through was a spring garden with lots of perennials and azalea bushes planted among the trees. Most of the plants were left with only faded flowers and drying, curling leafs. Even those dried leaves had their own beauty. The park has been left natural so there were pine needles, acorns, and pinecones under the trees and on the trail. Moss and lichen were growing on the ground, the rocks, and on dead pieces of wood. There were all types of ferns growing. I saw a fern I'd never seen before, the Resurrection Fern. It was growing on a limb and looked like thousands of palm branches being waved.
There were so many varieties of trees with different textures, shapes, and coloring in the bark.  I've been so busy looking at fall leaves lately, that I've not noticed the bark on the trees!! I was fascinated by the tree above! It looks like it is covered in leaves, but that is really curling bark.
The second area I walked through was a wildflower area. Unlike the more shapely perennial garden, this area was more wild and free. Most of the wildflower blooms were gone but, there was an interesting collection of dried grasses blowing in the wind.  There were grasshoppers everywhere and lots of insects flying around in the morning light. Also left behind were seed pods, dried flower heads and a few berries. One vine had several lovely yellow trumpet flowers still in full bloom. Around those blooms were many butterflies trying to find the last of the nectar.
 
One of the trails went by a small lake. I sat beside the lake on a wooden bench and ate my lunch. The bench itself was wonderful. The wood was worn and faded. The back and legs were covered with lichen. I watched a swan and four ducks as they graceful glided along. The swan finally got out of the water and preened itself in the sun. Water beads glistening on it's back. The ducks, well, I think they were playing follow the leader. They swam out to a little island, honked, and the promptly marched across the island and right back in the water, one right after the other. I watched the wind ripple the water and cause millions of sparkles. I watched the trees sway and the birds fluttering about. I watched a mother and two children enter the area. I saw their excitement when they spotted the swan. I stayed for almost five hours. And had it not been for my dread of rush hour traffic I think I could have stayed much longer. I needed this day, I really needed this day!

Not only did this assignment open my eyes more, but the quietness and beauty gave me a time to think, to reflect on the past few weeks, and to be grateful!

I will return in a few weeks to enjoy the fall foliage, I can already picture what it will look like reflected on the water. I will return in the spring to see the wildflowers and the perennial garden blooming. And each time, I will walk first camera-less, just to see, to hear, and to feel.

Pink For You

IN HONOR OF MY SISTER

JUDITH

A BREAST CANCER SURVIVOR

I LOVE YOU, SIS!!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Cute Little Pumpkin and Light

I guess you could say I had an epiphany or at least and “ah ha” moment. I struggling for two days working on my lesson for Digital Photography Basics with Kat Eye View Of The World.
It should have been an easy assignment. We’re learning about light and part of our assignment was to pick an object and photograph it in different kinds of light. How hard can that be?? Leave it to me to make it hard!! First, I tried my grandmother’s vase, then my African Violet pot, and then a shell. I know it sounds ridiculous but, I could not make them work!  I didn’t like any of the pictures. And, we were to pick two or three of our favorites and post them!! I couldn't post pictures I didn't even like!!  I lay awake trying to figure out why I was not enjoying this assignment. Then, it hit me…it wasn’t the light I was having trouble with, it was the “object!” I’m no good at photographing inanimate objects. I can’t seem to compose a pleasing shot. What I love to photograph is nature. I looked back through the pictures I had taken and realized the favorite picture I had taken in these two days was one I took for my 365 project of a little pumpkin and my mums. My ‘ah ha’ moment…take photos of the pumpkin and mums and forget the “object’!! Oh! It was much better after that. I finished the assignment with enjoyment.
Lesson to me: read all class material carefully!! Kat says very clearly, “Make it an object you like and are interest in.” Someday, I’ll work on expanding my photography to include still life or vignettes, but not right now. I’ll stick to what I love….nature!!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

So Sorry!!

I want to send an apology out to you guys!!
I promised I'm not ignoring your comments or your blogs!!  This month has been a hard one both emotional and physically.  And now, I seemed to be rather busy with lots of activities and grandchildren.  Which, by the way, is a very good thing, the grandchildren part that is!!  I would rather be with them every moment I can!!  I will do my best to slow down next week where I can get back and visit with you!!
I think of you and so love reading your blogs and your comments!!

Have a fantastic weekend!!!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Solving Problems

Even the simplest solution to a problem in photography is exciting to me. I’m so new to photography that I’ve just barely scratched the surface learning about my first dSLR. I've only had my new camera since June, so I have a long way to go. I know a little about using aperture now and shutter speed, but that’s about it! I'm beginning to shoot more and more in manual, which excites me!!

One of the major problems I have is taking photos inside. At a quilt show I attended I wanted photos of some antique quilts in a very small room with no windows, very horrible incandescent lighting, and no flash allowed. When I took the pictures I felt rather frustrated and disappointed knowing that the pictures would be yellow with the low light.  Adjusting for low light is something about my camera I haven't learned yet, so I had to figure out how to correct this problem through post editing. I came home, started playing with how to change the color temperature and to adjust shadows, highlights, and fill light in Picasa. Sounds very simple, but to me it was a huge discovery! I really know very little about editing and have usually shied away from it. I'm one of those that really wants the picture to be right out of the camera, although I know this doesn't always work. I can't control every situation and lighting problem through the camera functions.
Adjusting the color temperature took out the amber color and I adjusted the fill light just a little. The photo is now more like the actual quilt.

The second quilt presented an additional problem, it was in a glass case. Finding a good position without the glare of overhead lights in the glass was a little challenging. I only adjusted the color temperature on this one.

I was pleased that I was able to salvage photos of the quilts using post editing. There are others photos in my archives that could use a little editing now that I know how. I have been exploring post editing a little more and will use it more often. I'll also be reading and researching more about my camera's functions to correct poor lighting situations.

Another problem I'm need to solve also involves light. When my grandchildren are here, we're always outside in mid-day light or under the shade trees in the dappled light. I'm working on that. I have tried using the fill-flash and that seems to work better, but I need to work on this some more. I just need to spend more time learning about my camera and experimenting with editing!!
 
A little about the quilts, in case you‘re interested. The first one is a Friendship Quilt which includes major families of Washington, Arkansas and their descendants. Circa 1960 by Mrs. Mildred Butler
The fabric in the second quilt is from civil war uniforms and jackets. The quilt was created before 1901 by Sarah Turner Dawson Bragaw.


Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Week In Review

My Favorite Photo Of The Week

This week I visited Historic Washington State Park which was the Confederate Capitol of Arkansas during part of the Civil War. The museum village includes historic, public and private buildings. In one of the homes, a young lady was demonstrated weaving on a historic loom. I loved this basket full of cotton fiber. So simple, yet so beautiful!




The Simple Things
There were several butterflies on these zinnias at the park. They kept fluttering all around me and didn't care that I was taking their picture. They were only interested in the last of the the nectar.





Picture Inspiration Week 34 - Hand Held
The State Park was full of ornamental trees. I spotted this beautiful tree with these tiny citrus fruits. It smelled wonderful. I'm guessing they're a type of orange, maybe mandarin oranges?
Big Picture Classes



Prompt Addicts
Our prompt this week was to take a photo leaving plenty of space to add a verse or quote. This leaf caught my attention. It reminds me of an old flower called "Jack-In-The-Pulpit".


For the next several weeks I may not be doing as many link-ups. I'm taking four classes at the same time:
  • Two with Big Picture Classes ~ Textuality a journaling class for scrapbooking and  Picture Fall a photo prompt class
  • Two with Kat Eye View Of The World ~ Digital Photography Basics and Find Your Eye Journey of Inspiration
I think I'm going to be very busy!! I knew I would learn so much from each of them and they just happened to be going on consecutively. One good thing though, there is no real deadline for any of them. If I get behind I can finish at anytime. I'm going to try very hard to keep up and apply myself to learning more about photography!!