Thursday, February 26, 2015

Moorea - Photos 7 & 8

 During the day we relaxed here.

In the evenings waiting for the sunset, we relaxed here.  That is Jeff looking pretty relaxed!

You might think we were in this beautiful place on a vacation.  Well, that's only partly correct.  We spent 18 months traveling throughout the South Pacific on missionary assignments for our church.  Many senior couples of our faith choose to do this after retirement, (around 5,000 couples at any given time), as a way to serve others, as devotion to our faith and as a way to do our part to make the world a better place.  We willing go where ever we are called, (we don't choose where we go although we can suggest), we do whatever we are asked to do, and we pay all our own expenses and consider it a privilege to do so.  If we are sent out of the US we usually serve for 18 months or 23 months.  We have friends who have served, or are serving, all over the world, providing humanitarian aid, teaching English and religion classes, providing medical and legal assistance or in many other capacities. 

We were stationed in Auckland, New Zealand, and in 18 months we were on airplanes over 55 times traveling to various assignments on many of the South Pacific Islands.  Sometimes we traveled on commercial jets going to large cities such as Sydney, Australia, and sometimes on tiny, rickety small planes, held together with duct tape, (really), flying into tiny little islands such as Taveuni, Fiji where the beginning of a tiny runway began and ended in the ocean!

We worked very hard, and had many challenging assignments, and we loved every minute of it.  But where ever we traveled, we also had some time to enjoy the local culture and relax from our labors.  In this case, after our assignments in Tahiti were completed,  we were able to spend a couple of magical days in Moorea.

Jeff and I count these 18 months as a highlight in our lives and one of the most meaningful things we have ever done, along with our lifelong devotion to children and grandchildren and family.  We have wonderful memories of people, and places half way around the world that we have grown to love and respect, and of faith promoting experiences that have drawn us closer to our Savior, Jesus Christ. 


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Moorea - Photo 5, 6

 A grand view from a distant lookout point.  We took a narrow winding road through lush green tropical forests and steep jagged peaks to arrive at this beautiful scene.  (Wide angle lens.)

A closer view.  (Telephoto lens.)

Monday, February 23, 2015

Moorea - Photo 3 & 4


Being a photographer, I cherish what a picture does to help me recall memories of days gone by.  But I admit, that is not the only way I am reminded of past places and times in my life.  In Moorea, I can also remember the delicate but sometimes overpowering sweet fragrance of so many tropical flowers floating on the warm breezes.  But wait a is the pictures of the flowers that remind me of such heavenly aromas!  See, it still comes down to photography! (chuckle)

P.S.  Below is a bonus photo for today.  One of the many hibiscus blooms for me to enjoy while we were waiting for the ferry to take us back to Tahiti.


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Moorea - Photo 3

If you don't want to stay in a 'grass shack' perched on the edge of crystal clear turquoise water, (see second previous post), how about one shaded by lush, vibrant, tropical foliage.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Moorea - Photo 2

 Typical Island Scene

Do you remember the song, 'Going to Carolina in my Mind' by James Taylor??  Well, I'm going to Moorea in my mind this week, and I invite you to come on my journey.  I'm not sure if this will be torture for those of you surrounded by ice, snow and freezing temps, or if this will be a welcome daydream for a few moments of your day.

Here is the back story.  We were in this beautiful paradise over two years ago.  I came home, downloaded all of my RAW images, where they have been gathering 'digital dust' ever since.  Back to a busy life meant that I just haven't taken the time to go through all the photos I took during our 18 months in the South Pacific, to delete most of them, and then edit, organize and upload the keepers.  So, finally, this week, I am working on my photos of Moorea, and am reliving the wonderful time we spent on this beautiful little island.  I hope during the next few days I can show you a glimpse of what I saw through the lens of my camera.  

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Moorea, South Pacific

(A ferry boat ride away from Tahiti)

This post is for all my friends buried in snow and freezing temperatures.  Hard to believe it now, but Spring will eventually arrive, the snow will eventually melt, and yellow daffodils and purple crocus will eventually poke out of the ground!  In the meantime, daydream with me about relaxing in that red lounge chair,  (second hut from the right), sipping on your beverage of choice, and tanning your toes!  Ahhh, to be back in Moorea, probably the most beautiful and pristine tropical place I have visited.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Hi-Land Dairy Truck

Hi-Land Dairy Milk Delivery Truck
No More Deliveries!

This old truck sits by the road right outside Zion National Park.  I've passed it many times, but finally decided to stop and take a photo.  It was late afternoon and the intense golden sun emphasized the orange color of the cliffs and the red rust color of the truck, which I tweaked with an HDR look in Perfect Effects software.  It is often hard to find rusty, old 'barnyard' classics that are not surrounded by distracting junk or cluttered backgrounds, but with the right angle, this one was situated where I could get a great shot. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

Spring is Right Around the Corner!

First Blossoms
(taken February 14, 2015)
 Unlike many parts of the country, we have had lovely warm weather in southern Utah, even though several weeks ago there was ice on the ground.  However, it still looks like winter, with bare trees and yellow/brown lawns.  I can't tell you how excited I was to see this lone tree already full of spring blossoms.  It must have decided it was already tired of winter, like I am! 


Saturday, February 14, 2015

Valentine Roses

Beautiful Roses from my Valentine!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

This Kiss, This Kiss!

In honor of Valentine's Day several years ago, I posted a few of my favorite 'kissing' photos.  Time to do this again.  Time to  remember long, long ago when we were madly in love and found that special person we wanted to share our lives with.  Do you remember being amazed that the person you loved, loved you back?  Do you remember the excitement of those first few kisses?

"It's the way you love me
It's a feeling like this
It's centrifugal motion
It's perpetual bliss
It's that pivotal moment
It's, ah, subliminal
This kiss, this kiss (it's criminal)
This kiss, this kiss"

Do you remember this song and the name of the artist??

"He kissed me in a way
That I've never been kissed before
He kissed me in a way
That I wanna be kissed forever more"

Do you remember this song and the name of the artist? 

"Oh baby I can feel this feeling
That everything that you do gives me
It's been too long since somebody whispered
Shut up and kiss me"

Do you remember this song and the name of the artist? 

"Oh, Oh, hug him and squeeze him tight
Find out what you want to know
If its love, if it really is, its there in his kiss....
If you want to know
If he loves you so
Its in his kiss
(That's where it is)
Oh, its in his kiss, that's where it is"

Do you remember the name of this song and the artist?

"Sparks fly
It's like electricity
I might die
When I forget how to breathe
You get closer and there's
No where in this world I'd rather be
Time stops
Like everything around me
Is frozen
And nothing matters but these
Few moments when you open my mind to things
I've never seen"

Do you remember this song and the name of the artist?

"Oh, kiss me beneath the milky twilight
Lead me out on the moonlit floor, lift your open hand
Strike up the band and make the fireflies dance
Silver moon's sparkling
So kiss me"

Do you remember this song and the name of the artist?

  I hope you have wonderful memories of your young love, and that on this Valentine's Day, you can kiss the one you love now.... and if you are lucky, it might be the same person!

P.S.  These are all photos of members of my family and remind me of wonderful celebrations of love!


Sunday, February 8, 2015

Zion on the Horizon - A Different View

Zion on the Horizon - A Different View

For those interested, I took this shot, and the previous post, with my iphone.  I find my phone camera has great DOF and works fine in bright sunlight, but is horrible for indoor shots or in low light, even with the flash.  Another difference is when I shoot with my 'big girl camera', I make the choice to shoot in 'RAW' which renders photos neutral as far as sharpness and saturation of colors.  This means that the photographer makes all the decisions in post processing about how the final photo will look.  I think most point and shoot cameras, or cameras set on the   "I don't know anything, so camera you do all the work" mode, are programmed to produce sharp, highly color saturated images because that is what seems to be pleasing to most people.  So it is interesting to me that when I shoot landscapes with my iphone, I almost always have to reduce the saturation and the sharpness of an image instead of increasing them to the image.   

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Zion On the Horizon

Zion on the Horizon
One of our favorite RZR rides in southern Utah takes us through beautiful red rock plateaus and canyons, dotted with green pines and lichen covered boulders.  We often stop here to eat our lunch where we can enjoy this grand landscape and glimpse the majestic peaks of Zion National Park in the distance.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Fighting the Winter Blahs!

I'm still working on editing and organizing photos from last year.  This photo didn't interest me last summer, but attracted my interest now.  I think I just needed to look at some color to lift my winter spirits. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

National Creek Falls

I really dislike winter in northern Utah where it is cold, windy, smoggy and usually snowy.  Although I must admit, we have had a mild winter so far, with very little snow in the valley where I live.  And I feel guilty complaining when I think about everyone dealing with mountains of snow and freezing temperatures.  Still, I'm not out taking photos very much and often feel claustrophobic if I'm indoors for too long. 

On a positive note, I usually force myself to go through my photos from the previous year, and organize, edit, delete, and upload to my Smugmug account for 'cloud' storage.  This is a constant battle because with digital it is so easy to take tons of photos!  (Sometimes I long for the old days of simple photo albums.  It forced me to be very selective about the photos I took and saved.)  

Anyway, as I am organizing, I usually find a bunch I just didn't get around to editing or some I overlooked but when revisited, decided they might be keepers after all.  Such is the following photo I took on a little get-away vacation Jeff and I took to Oregon last September.  I think I'll keep it!

 National Creek Falls, Oregon

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Classic Cars and Characters

After my last post I remembered two of my favorite 'classics' from past car shows:

 Another Fifties Gal

And my favorite decade....A Sixties Gal  (Peace Out!)

Monday, January 26, 2015

Fifties Gal

Fifties Gal

First car show of the year for my husband to show off his muscle car.   It was held in Mesquite, Nevada, and although there is not much to look at in this little border town, and not much to do, (except gamble in the few casinos), the weather was sunny, warm and beautiful.   On this day, a ton of people who had escaped the winter weather up north, were strolling around in short sleeves, shorts and flip flops and enjoying about 900 classic cars that were on display. 

As for me, I was much more interested in the 'classic' people that car shows always seem to attract.  Rather than sneaking around taking candids, I much rather like to introduce myself, strike up a conversation and get to know a bit about the people I photograph.  I asked this attractive lady, (attractive except for the tats, IMHO), if she dressed up especially for the car show.  She said the only time she does not dress like this is when she goes to work.  She was also wearing stylish high heels and seamed silk stockings to complete her look.  I loved that she mimicked the green car adornment she was standing next to. 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

O, Come Let Us Adore Him!

O Come Let Us Adore Him, Christ the Lord!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Awkward Christmas Photos PLUS One!

I took a Christmas photo of my daughter and her family of handsome men for their Christmas card!

Now check out some more Christmas family photos for your chuckle of the day.  (P.S.  If you have very delicate sensibilities, just note there are a couple of photos with scantily clad people, however, all the critical parts are covered.)

Please tell me I did a better job than these awkward family photos!!!  I bet the families AND the photographers who took them, cringe when they revisited these photos years later!  (I also cringe when I look at some of my past photography attempts.... as recent at last week - haha.)  

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Share The Gift!

If you are among my dear friends who say "Merry Christmas" at this time of year, as we celebrate the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ, take a moment to be be inspired and uplifted as you listen to David Archuleta and Peter Hollens sing "Angels We Have Heard On High", accompanied by the Piano Guys and joined by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. The video depicts beautiful scenes of Christians wanting to ‪#‎sharethegift‬.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Turn Your Christmas or Holiday Lights Into Beautiful Bokeh!

The trick to turn your lights into a beautiful background bokeh pattern is to use a relatively wide aperture (small f stop).  Position your subject a good distance in front of the lights.  Using a telephoto lens, zoom in for a close-up of your subject, (focus on your subject), and you will create beautiful light balls.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Turn Your Christmas or Holiday Lights into Stars

Tip:  to make your Christmas lights twinkle like stars, set your camera for a small aperture, (big f number), and a long exposure.  You will probably have to use a tripod:

 (Check back for another light tip.)

Thursday, December 11, 2014

St. George LDS (Mormon) Temple at Christmas

St. George Temple

Tip for shooting outdoor Christmas and Holiday Lights:  
Instead of waiting until dark, shoot about 15-30 minutes after sunset. Think twilight or dusk.  Instead of having a boring black sky, you will have a beautiful deep blue sky as a backdrop to the colorful lights.

(Two more tips to follow on how to make your Christmas light photos more eye catching and interesting.)

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Tuweep Overlook, North Rim, Grand Canyon

Tuweep Overlook, North Rim, Grand Canyon

Well, today was an adventure!  We took off early this afternoon to explore a new area for RZR riding.  We loaded up the machines, packed a lunch and headed out on a beautiful, warm, sunny day in December.  It is hard to believe what beautiful weather we are having both here in southern Utah and also in northern Utah.  I feel a bit guilty enjoying near 70 degrees of warmth, when other parts of the country are either having horrible snowstorms or are recovering from horrible snowstorms. 

Anyway, our goal today was a remote lookout over the Grand Canyon which is about 90 miles from our home near St. George.  After turning off the main road, we found out, however, that it was illegal to drive our RZRs on the side road, so rather than turn around we hauled them over 60 miles on a dirt road, that at places was worse than a washboard, and at other places we had to navigate over boulders.  Sixty miles in and 60 miles out going about 10 mph at times is a long way to be jerked, jarred and jostled!  We kept saying, if we were riding our RZRs we would have been able to zoom along at a good clip without any effort at all! 

It is safe to say, that of the millions of tourists who visit the Grand Canyon, only a very, very small number have been to this remote location.  There are no services, no gas, no stores, no cell phone service, and if you get a flat tire, or have another emergency, it will cost you about $2000 to get assistance that may take a very long time to arrive!

Needless to say, it took longer to get there than expected, and we arrived just shortly before sunset.  If you like the peace and quiet of remote desert landscapes, enormous red rock boulders and cliffs, and standing on the edge of a 3,000 foot vertical drop that ends in what appears to be a tiny ribbon of the Colorado River, then this place is for you!  The scenery was indeed breathtaking!

As far as picture taking goes, I'm not so sure.  Looking in the opposite direction of this view, which would be roughly east, I could not see the river at the bottom and most of the canyon was in deep shadow.  So no picture there.  Because of the terrain and position of the setting sun, I couldn't find a composition without the sun.  I had to take whatever shots I could get quickly, because the sun was setting fast.  I only took about five shots, and so I had to be satisfied with this, lens flare and all.  Personally I don't mind the flare, but I know many would find it distracting. 

Even though we have the satisfaction of going somewhere beautiful that very few people will see, I don't think this will be on our list of places to revisit.  But, hey, we can say we've been there once!   

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Savaii, Samoa

Sunrise or Sunset????

I can't remember which it was, but either way it was a beautiful day in Savaii, Samoa.  I look at this longingly as I contemplate surviving the next few months of cold temperatures, slippery ice and a barren landscape.  (Have I mentioned that Winter is not my favorite season!!!)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Follow-up to Last Post

Hello Photography Lovin' Friends!

After my last post, I had a friend send me an email, saying he had a photo printed on canvas that he was not entirely happy with.  I told him what I have learned about having my photos printed by my local lab and I thought maybe some of my comments might be helpful to others, so I've copied part of my response below:

First of all, if you are particular about how you want your prints to turn out, especially if you are printing something large to hang on your wall, you should use a local, professional lab (if you have one near), where you will get personal service and can talk to someone face to face if there are problems.  (On the other hand, if you need to print a couple of snapshots, and you don't mind if they turn out greenish or bluish, are too light or too dark, and you need them in an hour, then go to a 'big box' store!)

Early on when I began printing large photos from wedding shoots, I found that I was not always happy with the results.  I found that matching the color and exposure so that what I saw on my computer was similar to what I saw printed, was tricky and not an exact science.  I realized that obviously, since a screen and a print are two different outputs, they will never look exactly the same, but they should be in the ballpark, and this takes a bit of effort.  Here's what I do:

1.  First of all, I broke down and purchased a Colormunki Display which calibrates and color corrects my monitor, and then I calibrate my monitor to the same settings my photo lab uses to calibrate their equipment.  (I would imagine that you could get this information from any professional lab.)  There are several different brands of calibration devices to choose from, and you may have to purchase online.  But you don't even need to do this, read on.

2.  Calibrating your monitor will get you in the ballpark, but each monitor is different and will show different color tones, and different degrees of light and dark.  For example, if I did not intervene, most of my photos while looking great on my monitor, would still turn out too dark, too dull and too contrasty when printed.

3.  Here is a good solution that works well even without having to spend money on a device to calibrate your monitor:  Have several test photos printed as 5x7s to use as comparisons.  Print out a landscape, a portrait, maybe something contrasty like a sunset.  Compare them with how they look on your monitor, then 'correct' your photos in your editing program (LR or PS for example), to compensate for what you don't like in the prints.  I've learned that I need to compensate by making my photos look much brighter, more saturated and less contrasty on the computer than they would normally look good to me, in order to produce what I really want them to look like in print.  

4.  Here is another important suggestion: When I submit my photos,  I always tell the lab, "do not correct, print as received".  Unless you give this instruction, the lab techs will usually correct or adjust your photos to their interpretation of what looks good, not yours.  I learned this the hard way.  I have a canvas print of a Lake Powell sunrise.  In my rendition, the water was a dark shade of blue, but still colorful.  The tech decided this image was supposed to be more 'moody' with only the sunrise colorful, so when it came back, the water was totally black.  I didn't like it at all, and since I told the lab not to correct, (they missed my instructions), they reprinted it with no questions asked.

5.  Here is another lesson I recently learned the hard way.  Even though I now know approximately what to do on my computer to get the printed result I'm looking for, if I'm planning to print something large that will cost a lot of money, I ALWAYS have a 5x7 test photo printed first, just to make sure.  It is well worth the small amount it costs and the time to do it, (and if you tell your lab it is a test print before ordering a large print, they might do it for free.  Mine does.)  Because I was too lazy to do this, I now have a Lake Powell sunset on a large canvas decorating my closet!
Most labs who cater to professional photographers offer excellent service and great quality, and because of the less expensive online services  available, they go overboard to make sure you are happy and satisfied with the work they do.  Many times when I have called my lab with a problem, or I need advice or instruction, the techs will spend as much time as it takes to help me.

So bottom line, if you are planning to hang your artwork in your home or give as gifts, (and want to insure they don't end up in a closet somewhere), make the effort and spend the money to have a finished piece of artwork you are proud of and will enjoy for years to come!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Arches National Park, Utah

That's a Wrap......I mean a Canvas Wrap!

After all these years, I am finally determined to hang a few of my photos on the walls so I can enjoy them.  I'm starting with some of my southern Utah pictures that I'll put in our little winter casita located in southern Utah.  This is the largest picture I have ever printed.  It is 26 x 36 and will hang in the entryway.  I just got it from the lab, and it turned out beautifully, (although it looks a bit overly saturated on my computer.)  Can't wait to hang it up!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Cuter Than the Gerber Baby!!!

Photo shoot with my youngest grandchild - Number 12.  He just turned One!  Isn't he the cutest toddler!!!!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Lake Powell

Beginning of a Beautiful Day and Waiting Patiently for Riders

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Lake Powell Sunrise

Lake Powell Sunrise

At least one morning every trip, I get up early and find the best vantage point for a sunrise photo.  It was a beautiful morning on this day with just enough cloud cover to create a lovely and interesting sky as a backdrop for my picture.  I found my spot, set up my tripod and camera and then waited for the magic to happen.  It was a peaceful time to listen to the soft sounds of the water rippling to shore, the two chattering crows overhead with their birdseye view of the coming event, and the unsettling sounds of coyotes howling in the distance.  It was a time to reflect on the beauty of this earth in its many forms.  While in the South Pacific I marveled at the lush, tropical flora and fauna and thought this was indeed heaven on earth.  And yet on this morning, surrounded by barren red rock formations and rugged desert vistas, I also saw the beauty of God's handiwork.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Ghost Story Tutorial

In this post I'll show you how I made 'GHOST' STORY, which was my last post.  (Incidentally, there are many creative ways to make ghosted images and you can find tutorials on YouTube and other photo websites.)

The process I used was easy and quick, but will seem complicated if you are unfamiliar with PS and layers.  Here we go:

First I set the scene by dragging a chair and candles in front of the fireplace in my living room.  I turned on several lamps nearby for low lights.  I put my camera on a tripod, (very important), and put the settings to Aperture Priority at f/11, but many different settings would have worked as well.  I experimented by taking several images and dialing the exposure up and down until I got a dark but not too dark image.  The above shot is the one I ended up with.  As you can see, I wasn't very particular about the composition because I knew I would crop way in and straighten in post processing.

I then asked Jeff to sit down carefully, without disturbing or moving the spider.  I kept my camera position and settings the same, except that I turned the timer on, and ran to take my place in the composition for the next image.  It is very important that the settings stay the same and your camera does not move during both shots.  (Side note:  You might wonder why I didn't center us in the frame.  Because I was sitting closer to the camera, I would appear bigger than Jeff, and I didn't want that(!), so I knew in the final image the viewer would only get a glimpse of me and not the full butt/thigh view!)  Now I have two identical shots except that one is with us included and one is without.

After uploading to the computer, I opened both photos in Photoshop.
Working on the photo with the people, I clicked Select, then All

Then I clicked Edit, then Copy, after which I switched to the image without Jeff and I and made it active.

Now I clicked Edit, and Paste.  You will notice that my two images are now shown in the right panel with the people image on top.  Working on that top image, I lowered the Opacity slider, which is on the right side of panel just above the image thumbnails.  

I experimented with varied degrees of opacity until I got just the right amount of ghosting for my taste.  Remember I am only reducing the opacity of the top layer/image with the people. The bottom layer/image without the people stays at 100% opacity or transparency and does not change, so only the people will appear 'ghosted'.  When I was pleased with the effect, I flattened or combined both images, straightened and cropped.  Now comes the fun part.

I experimented with a variety of special effects, presets, editing programs, etc., and finally settled on a stylized B&W preset in Silver Efex Pro 2.  I finished it off with a dark vignette around the edge of the frame.

After uploading my two photos to the computer, the editing/post processing time was quick and easy, just a few minutes.  The hardest part was getting Jeff to pose for me!  HaHa  If anyone experiments with this effect, I'd love to see the magic you create!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Happy Halloween!

I'll show you how I made this image in my next post!  In the meantime, have a fun Halloween.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Lake Powell, Utah Sunset

Lake Powell Sunset
We returned about a week ago from our annual Lake Powell vacation.  We had a fabulous time, and a bonus for me were the beautiful sunsets we enjoyed most evenings.