Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Morning Shower

Jeff was sprinkling the garden while I was taking pictures this morning, so I told him to give the flowers a shower.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

LadyBug in My Garden

I love ladybugs, but haven't seen many in my garden this year.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Aging Gracefully.......

..... And Beautifully
(follow up to last post)

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

"We Can Work It Out"

 "We Can Work It Out"

Try to see it my way
Do I have to keep on talking till I can't go on?
While you see it your way
Run the risk of knowing that our love may soon be gone.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Watchman - Zion National Park

The Watchman

By the time I arrived at this very popular location for landscape photography in Zion National Park, it was dark.  Usually the bridge where this view is seen is packed with photographers and their tripods, as well as a second group waiting for their turn to photograph this iconic scene.  When I arrived, the last photographer was packing up his gear.  It had been a beautiful sunset, and I had missed it.  I sat in my car wondering if I could make it back here while the trees were still adorned with the beautiful, bright green leaves of spring. I didn't know when that would be, so I got out of my car, and decided to shoot a couple of images anyway.  The good news was that I had my pick of anywhere on the bridge to stand as I was the only one there.  The bad news was that it was dark and I couldn't see where I was going or what I was doing.  I knew that to capture any of the remaining light I would have to keep the shutter open a fairly long time, but even so, didn't think I'd get anything worth keeping. I took several shots exposing for different parts of the scene.  I was surprised when I downloaded the images, that by combining parts of each exposure, I was able to bring out much of the detail in the shadows.  I was surprised at how many warm colors were still present even though the sun had set long before.  I often talk about how a camera can't record as much as the human  eye can see.  In this case, the camera saw a lot more than I did!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

The Fire Within

The Fire Within

Here is the LINK to the photos I used in the FLOWER POWER class I taught last night.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Here's How I Did it!

Here's the story behind the previous post.  We were with our grandchildren at a butterfly park and I took the first photo.  I was mainly concerned with getting the butterfly in focus and didn't have time to worry about composition.  Later, as we made our way around the park, I noticed this flower with a little water puddle captured in the center.  I loved the texture, the reflections, the swirls and the dots of light so I snapped a shot with the sole purpose of using that photo to create an interesting background for another image.  I enlarged just the center and then cloned parts of it into the first image, overlapping, and making multiple adjustments along the way.  Then I flattened all the layers and cropped out all the distracting stuff I didn't like.  Easy peezy!! 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

In a Butterfly's Dream

In a Butterfly's Dream

I'm preparing for a class I'm teaching next week on creating unique flower photos.  Check back tomorrow to see how I combined two images and ended up with this.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Misty Watercolor Memories

Misty Watercolor Memories
(This is what Karen Saw)

(This is what the camera saw)

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

He Loves Me...........

 'He Loves Me............'
(Do you get it?  I mean the title?)

Sometimes an image is more interesting when the subject is not perfect or it is different than what you'd expect to see,  like a repetitive pattern that is broken.  Imagine a row of blue beach umbrellas, perfectly spaced and lined up along a beautiful beach.  That would be lovely, but it would be more interesting if just one umbrella, maybe a bright yellow one, broke the pattern and stood out in the middle of the blue ones.

 I think that most photographers would be more inclined to take a picture of a 'perfect' flower rather than one that was damaged or had some of the petals missing.   In the above image, I think the flower in focus, the main subject, is more interesting with just one petal missing.  (No I didn't pull it off before taking this shot, but I might have if I'd thought of it!!)  Does it bother you that the flower, as the main subject, is not perfect?

Monday, May 12, 2014

Wild Flowers and Red Rock

Layers of Interest

Lovely wild flowers, craggy red rock cliffs, and a beautiful sky.......doesn't get much better that this for a landscape photographer!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

A Peek at Zion

Zion National Park

Actually I don't know if I was in the park or not.  This was taken from a road outside of the park heading to Kolob Reservoir.  It was a beautiful drive and starts at the main road that goes through the tiny town of Rockville, just a few miles from the main entrance into the park.  There were signs along the way that said I was in the park, then out of the park, then in again so I don't know if I was in or out where I was standing to take this photo.  I am positive, however, that the rock formations in the background are in the park.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

When a Photo Becomes the Canvas

Horse With No Name

I posted this photo on several photography sites and received great reviews.  Evidently the image was pleasing to some people other than myself.   

Question:  Is a pleasing image enough in and of itself, or, to be pleasing and acceptable, does the viewer need to approve of the way it was produced?   Does the artist need to reveal or describe the techniques and process used to produce the image, before the viewer can evaluate whether that image is good or not? Does a painter tell us the sizes and types of brushes he used, justify the reason why his abstract of a person only has one eye, why he painted tree leaves turquoise, or why his sunset is in black & white when his eyes see orange and red?  Does he need to tell us where his inspiration came from in the first place?   Do we need to know all this information before we make a value judgment about the finished piece of art???

Consider this situation:  Several times I have observed people discussing and admiring a photo image.   Then when one says something like, "oh that must have been photoshopped",  the value of the photo is dismissed as not being as worthwhile, despite the fact that it is a great image.  I think that while digital photography and using advanced technology to create beautiful art has opened up amazing opportunities for artists, the general public is not quite up to speed or accepting.  For many people, a photo is still just a photo and adding to it or taking away from it is cheating and devalues the finished piece of art. 

I wish these people could have been at the workshop I attended last week.  A professional photographer, educator and digital artist talked a bit about Ansel Adams and showed and discussed some of his most famous photographs.  He showed pictures of his original negatives and then what the finished, famous photos turned out to be, (which incidentally, looked nothing like the original photographs after he spent hours in the dark room)!  If the general public knew the extensive manipulation Mr. Adams did to produce his work, I would not be having this discussion since he is still one of the most famous and well known photographers of all time.  The bottom line is that photography has ALWAYS been about art, and has ALWAYS been about the artist's views and unique renditions of life and reality.   I've said this before, and this professional photographer echoed my sentiment, that if Ansel Adams were alive today he'd be an avid proponent of digital, Photoshop and every other editing program or medium that would make his work as an artist easier!

Now, even though I don't think you need to know how I produced the above photo to enjoy it,  for your amusement (I hope), I will show you my straight out of the camera shot and tell you the story and inspiration I had in going from the beginning shot to the final image above.  Drum roll please........expect to be wowed........here it is:

Wait for it.........wait for it...........here it comes.......

Is the anticipation building........

I won't make you wait any longer........

 TA DA!  What?  You're not wowed???  Didn't think so.  Probably even disappointed.  Well when I downloaded this shot on my big screen computer monitor I wasn't disappointed, in fact I was excited.  Because when I took this I already had the inspiration and vision of what my final image would look like and this was the perfect starting point.  In other words the photo became my beginning canvas.

But let me start at the beginning.  This is a roundabout (traffic circle), that I go through often when we are at our little casita in southern Utah.  The artwork of this roundabout is truly beautiful in reality.  The big rock outcroppings are all manufactured, (not real), although they look perfectly real, and all around the circle are beautiful wild stallions, horses in bronze, and on the side not showing is a handsome native American warrior galloping on one of those beautiful horses.  (You can just see a bit of him behind the right rock, that I removed in the final image because it was distracting.) 

One evening I was driving there at sunset, and in my mind's eye I could see a stunning image just waiting to be revealed.  I've had that image in my mind for several months, and finally a few weeks ago I grabbed my camera and decided I would make that vision a reality.  

Capturing the actual image was the hardest part.  After walking all around, I realized that in order to isolate one of the horses in the space between the rock outcroppings and still be facing the right direction to capture a silhouette image after the sun went down,  I had to be standing right in the middle of the street.  Of course there was no time to set up a tripod.  I had to wait for an opening in the traffic, run out and snap a few shots, then quickly get out of the way of oncoming cars.  I did this numerous times, from various angles and I still didn't get the horizon level.  I didn't worry about that or the lovely 'yield' sign I managed to include, because all that would be corrected later.  And believe it or not, because I have my camera set to shoot RAW images, there was still a lot of color left over from the sunset, that I was able to bring back when I was creating the final image.  It was still not as dramatic as the image in my mind, however, so I worked until I got the colors and mood I wanted.

That's it!  If you stuck with me through this, I hope you enjoyed my journey from beginning inspiration to end result.  For me, it is a very fun and satisfying experience!

P.S.  Here's a link to Scott's Sunset Sunday to see another beautiful sunset.


Sunday, May 4, 2014

Zion National Park Big Horn Sheep

Big Horn Sheep

What began as a dozen desert bighorn sheep reintroduced into Zion National Park in 1973 has now become a healthy herd of over 500 that freely roam the 70,000 acres of habitat in and around Zion National Park in Utah.

It is a common sight to see them roaming around tourist areas, and they allow humans to get fairly close because they have learned they have no need to fear us.  I stopped along side the road in the early evening where a fairly large herd was looking for dinner.  I stood in front on my car and was able to take the above shots.  Soon they decided 'the grass was greener' on the other side of the road, so one after another they crossed to the other side.

From the look on the driver's face, I don't think he even saw this little guy moving quickly to get out of his way!  Maybe they should be afraid of humans in cars!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Sun Kissed Bee

This Just Makes Me Happy!

These wild flowers were very small as you can see in comparison to the size of the bee.  I had my macro lens on and couldn't get close enough bending over, so I sat down in a tiny clearing in the middle of a small field of these flowers.  It was then that I noticed there were bees all around me.  My first thought was to get up and move, but I soon realized they were much too busy with their work  and didn't pay any attention to me.  For a while a just sat and watched them work, soaked in the warm sun and enjoyed a peaceful moment.  This was my best shot.   

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Cactus Bloom at Sunset

I love cactus blooms.  I love the combination of a delicate soft flower growing amid the inhospitable prickly thorns.  We have a cactus in our yard similar to this and the blooms only lasted one day.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter Thoughts

Death and Life

I was thinking about what to post for Easter and I initially thought about a photo of an Easter Lily.  But today, Saturday, while on a ride in our RZRs, I saw this scene and immediately knew this would be my Easter post.

 The day started out with perfect weather, deep blue skies, puffy white clouds and pretty scenery.  But by late afternoon, we were riding through acres and acres of dead and blackened trees, remnants from a previous forest fire.  To add to the scene, the sky had clouded over with dark and ominous looking clouds.  We drove on for several miles, then rounded a bend and came across this scene, where these beautiful spring flowers had popped up among the dead trees.  Death and Life. 

God reveals His divine plan for us in many ways if we just look, listen and feel.  We can read about it in His scriptures, we can ask about it through personal prayer and receive personal confirmation.  And, we can observe the workings of the world He created for us, which in many ways symbolizes death and rebirth.  We celebrate Easter in the spring, when the earth awakens and comes alive again after a long winter's sleep that represents death.  And even when forces of nature, such as fire, kills all living things, we know that eventually life will win over death, the grass will return, the flowers will return, and the trees will return.

God has given us the greatest gift of being born again, or being resurrected, and He sent His beloved son Jesus Christ to show us the way.  It doesn't matter if we die in the Spring of life, or in the winter of life, or some where in between.  It doesn't matter what our life's circumstances have been, whether we have led a charmed life, or a troubled life.  Eventually the ominous clouds will gather and we will die.   But because of the resurrection and atonement of our Savior, Jesus Christ, we will all live again to meet our Redeemer and be reunited with our loved ones!!

'Oh what comfort this sweet sentence gives, 
"I know that my Redeemer lives!"'  
(I know That My Redeemer Lives

I hope you have a peaceful Easter Sunday.

P.S.  This photo was taken with my iphone.  I was sitting on the ground and had the phone resting on my foot for a low angle and to keep it steady.  I did a fair amount of post processing as well.



Friday, April 18, 2014

More Desert Beauty

Are you tired of cactus photos yet????  

The desert does not display it's spring treasures in a grand way.  In fact, sometimes one has to go on a 'treasure' hunt and look closely to find such beautiful and colorful blooms such as these.  I went on a little desert hike with a local photo club the other day, and the leader had already scouted out the route for the hike and lead us to some beautiful blooming cacti, some of which are rare in our immediate area.  I wish I could remember the names of all of them.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

White Prickly Poppy

Two compositions of this desert flower.  Can't decide which I like the best.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Valley of Fire Bloom

Valley of Fire Challenge

On a recent trip home from a car show in Las Vegas, I took a detour through Valley of Fire State Park.  As is often the case when I can snatch some time for photography, it was in the middle of a bright, sunny, windy, hot, cloudless day.  So I didn't bother taking shots of all the red cliffs because the colors would be washed out, there would be deep shadows and the sky would be plain and boring.  So I found this scene with one lone bloom and used it as the focal point for my composition.  Because the flower was relatively small and not very colorful against the red sand, I used a wide angle lens and shot very close in order to exaggerate its size.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Lunar Eclipse

Lunar Light Show

I must be nuts to be posting this at 3:00 am, but I decided that I would try to photograph the eclipse and the full eclipse did not take place until around 1:30 am.  Then sleep eluded me, so here I am!  
This photo is a composite of two shots with two different lenses.  The moon was taken with a telephoto in manual: 300mm, 1 sec, f/11, ISO 2500.  The mountain was taken with a wide angle in manual:  16mm, 30 sec, f/11, ISO 1600.  I combined them in Photoshop.  In full resolution, there is quite a bit of noise.  I did not increase the saturation at all, but found it interesting that what I saw with my eyes was not nearly as orange as the color the camera captured. 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Desert In Bloom at Dusk

The spring desert at dusk turns a sharp, harsh landscape of midday into soft blue greens, dotted with brightly colored blooms.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Desert Scene at Sunset

Desert Beauty - Up Close & Personal

To truly appreciate the desert, I think one needs to take a close and intimate view.  While there are some quite large and 'showy' desert plants like the saguaro, joshua and ocatilla, many are seemingly not very impressive or even noticeable if you are looking out the window of a moving car.  At the end of our day of ATV riding, (when I took the last two posts), the light was almost gone after sunset and while Jeff was loading our RZRs on the trailer, I took a short walk out into the desert.  I was surprised at all I saw that I hadn't noticed from a few yards away.  I love this combination of the interesting, sharp spined barrel cactus, along with the delicate look of the tiny spring flowers.  I couldn't see any of this from the road.

So here are my thoughts for today.  Don't stand on the side of the road, or look outside your window and think that you are seeing all the beauty there is to see.  Take a stroll off 'the beaten path', or down the "road less traveled".  Take time to stop, listen, observe and look at the hidden beauty all around that most people don't see.  In other words, don't view nature as an outsider looking in.  Instead, be an actively, observant insider and you will not only increase you skills as a photographer, but even more importantly, you will gain greater reverence for our Creator who made this magnificent world we are privileged to live in and enjoy!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Cactus Blooms

Cactus Blooms
Some people, like some plants, grow to their full potential despite harsh conditions, and make the world a more beautiful place where ever they are rooted.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Cactus in the Spotlight

Cactus in the Spotlight

In the past, it seems photographers would avoid sun flare at all costs, thinking it ruined photos.  In recent years, however, many photographers are using sun flare creatively to add interest to all subjects including outdoor portraits, landscapes, nature shots, etc.  I wouldn't use sun flare purposefully in most of my photos, but sometimes it is fun and does make what might be a simple composition more interesting.  Since I recently posted several images using sun flare I thought I'd post this one I took yesterday.  Actually, the flare was an unexpected bonus as I wasn't planning on it.  This type of cactus, (can't remember the name), is beautiful when back light by the sun, creating fuzzy rims of light.  The sun was getting low in the horizon and I loved the way this cactus was highlighted while the surrounded area was not.  But I did not notice the sun flare until I downloaded to the computer.  A fun surprise.  I love the interesting streaks of light and how it lands on the cactus perfectly.  No skill here, just luck!

Friday, March 28, 2014

P.S. to Last Post

Jan's comment in my last post reminded me that I forgot to include an important bit of information.  To get the first shot of the temple I had to edit the heck out of it using different exposures.  The highlights were blown out and the shadows were very deep.  And of course I cropped and color corrected to the color I actually saw.  Here is the best of the original photos I took:

And here is my version, closer to what my eyes saw:

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Tech Talk Tuesday....kind of

St. George Temple, St. George, Utah

I haven't done 'Tech Talk Tuesday' for a long time, but it's Tuesday and I have a few thoughts, (amazing isn't it), so here's how my photo shoot went yesterday:

Years ago I took some sunrise photos of this beautiful temple, and so I wanted to take some sunset photos.  I was there well before sunset to see where the sun would fall, where would be the best angles, and if there were enough flowers in bloom to make an interesting spring photo.  First of all I found that there were very few flowers at the front entrance which was also in deep shadow.  I moved around to this side and I was early enough to have plenty of time to get my camera gear out and ready.  I was thinking about what lenses and settings I'd use to get late sunset and twilight shots.  You know, the kind with the reds and oranges of sunset, and then the pinks, purples and magentas of twilight.

About that time I get a call from my husband saying we were having friends come over for the evening.  I had forgotten!  That meant I had about a half an hour to pull off some shots before I had to leave.  Well so much for my sunset plans.  Now I had the harsh, bright light of late afternoon.  What to do?

What would you do?  Well, my first thought was to pack it up and go another time.  But I had just said in my last post that there is always something to photograph despite the conditions so I figured I better take my own advice.  

One way to improve your photography skills, is to think of how to counteract the challenges you face.  I realized that a beautiful sunset/twilight sky was not going to be what would make my photos interesting today.  (Remember that the most important thing about your photos is that they should be interesting enough so that the viewer wants to stay and look.)  The photo above is a good representation of the flat, harsh lighting I had to work with.

Below are a couple of ways I choose to try and create an interesting photo despite the harsh lighting conditions, or even better, use the harsh lighting to my advantage:

  Here I chose a fisheye lens which created an unusual perspective, at a very low angle, and included the sun purposely to include flare.  I left out the boring sky.  I also used a polarizing filter on my lens to cut out some of the glare.

On this shot I used a wide aperture, (small number) and was very close to the flower.  This turned the water streams and splashes from the fountain into big beautiful soft bokeh.  I chose a flower in front of the fountain that was highlighted by the sun while the fountain was in shadow which created the contrast.

Here is another flower composition I found interesting.  I liked the white flower spotlighted in the sun set against the deep gray shadows of the building with the splash of color on the bottom.

Another group of flowers basking in the sun and in the spotlight of the sun flare.  

What do you think?  I don't think any of these are 'keepers' but I think I met the challenge of finding a couple of compositions, angles and lighting situations that were unique and interesting.  Would a viewer pause and take a second look at these before deciding if they liked them or not?  I don't know but I know it was a challenge for me to come up with anything worth keeping in the few minutes and in the conditions I had to work with.  I stretched and that means I'm improving my skills (I hope)!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Near Gunlock, Utah

Seek and Find!

One bonus of enjoying taking photos of many subjects, is that if one looks hard enough, or is observant enough, there is always something interesting to photograph.  If the weather or light is crappy for taking landscape photos, maybe you focus on insect or flower macros.  Or maybe you head into town and look for interesting characters, people at work, or interesting architecture.  

There is always SOMETHING to photograph, and every time I go out specifically to take photos I challenge myself to come home with at least one keeper.  This doesn't mean it will always be a show stopper, but working hard to find an interesting composition, even when you are sure there isn't one, will help you become a better photographer.  It's the 'practice, practice, practice' principle.

Today just before sunset I took a break and headed out to a very small community called Gunlock, about 15 minutes away. The light was not good, flat with mostly high filmy clouds that made the orange cliffs muted and pastel-ish, so I was thinking more about finding old barns, fences, and a composition that didn't include the sky.  By the time the sun was behind the mountains I still hadn't found anything too interesting, except for a small herd of donkeys that were strolling down the middle of the road!  I took a couple of snaps from my car, but knew I didn't have my 'keeper' for the day.  I was about ready to give up when I glimpsed something shiny right off the road, but mostly hidden by tall weeds.  I turned around, drove back, and found a place to pull off so I stopped and walked around the weeds about 3 yards and discovered this scene.  It was a very small pond with greenish water, probably from a spring, nestled at the foot of this orange rock.  And just then, as if on cue, the clouds parted to allow some blue sky to peek through.  I had found my photo op for the day!

Since the sun was down and it was getting dark, I knew the camera could not capture the color of the water that I saw.  It would record as almost black if I exposed for the sky.  And the reverse was true.  If I increased the exposure to show the color of the water, the sky would be blown out white.  So I put my camera on a tripod and took three different exposures and then blended them together in Lightroom.  I also increased the vibrancy a little because the light was so flat.  This is very close to how my eyes actually saw this scene.


P.S.  Oh, and here is the very friendly donkey that walked up to my car in the middle of he road.  Luckily I was 'in the country' with no traffic so I could stop.  I took this shot out of my open window about a foot away from him.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Almost Time for Moab Fun!!

Here is what we do for fun in Moab:

Our son guiding his Dad down a steep cliff.

 Smooth sand makes for a fast and fun ride.

Nothing like splashing in the water on a hot day.

Here's what crazy people (IMHO) do in Moab:

 They go places that are impossible to go.

 They pop tires and break axles and fix them on the spot.

They thrive on challenges.  It is truly a contest between man and machine verses rock and boulder!