Friday, August 17, 2018

Canang Sari

The rich cultural heritage of Balinesian Hindu worship can be traced back to the 5 century B.C. and continues today with around 84% of the population claiming to be Hindu.  The influence of this heritage is evident everywhere one travels in beautiful Bali in the form of ancient temples and ritualistic offerings.  It was a delight to see these small, sweet offerings, called 'canang sari', that are seen everywhere.


They adorn every small shrine, every large temple, businesses, homes, streets, car dashboards, and even perched on the handlebars of motor scooters. They may be pretty and interesting for tourists to see, but they hold deep meaning for Balanese who carefully and lovingly prepare multiples of them each day. 

The wife of an average family might prepare 15 canang sari each morning to be placed in and around the home and this daily task is as important as cooking, cleaning and taking care of the children.  This ritual is done carefully and lovingly as to demonstrate thankfulness and gratitude to the gods in heaven who are the creators of life, while at the same time appeasing and providing protection from the demons who live in the underworld.  The ultimate purpose is to maintain balance and peace on earth between gods, humans, and nature, amidst the opposing forces of good and evil, gods and demons, heaven and hell.


A small square (or round) tray or basket is made of fronds or palm leaves, and then colorful flowers and other specific items with special meanings are placed inside.   White flowers are placed pointing east as a symbol of Iswara, a primary Balinese god.  Red flowers are placed pointing south to represent Brahma, the Progenitor.  Yellow flowers are placed pointing west to symbolize Mahadeva the Great God.  Blue or green flowers are placed north and represent Vishnu, the Presever.  Often a few coins are placed on top to represent sacrifice and humility.  A ritual prayer is said which is meant to deliver the sari (essence) of the offering to heaven.  For this, a jepun flower is dipped in water taken from a holy spring and sprinkled on the canang sari as a symbolic fusion of earth, fire, wind and water.  Then a stick of incense is placed and lit so the smoke can carry the essence of the offering up to the gods.

The canang sari are made and offered every day except when there is a death in the family or village.  At the end of the day, they are all swept away and will be replaced the next morning.  It is disrespectful to step on or step over a canang sari, and one has to be careful, because many are placed on sidewalks, doorways and floors.  It is especially disrespectful to disturb the offering while the incense is burning and the smoke is carrying the essence up to heaven.

If you are looking for a rich, cultural experience on your travels, in addition to a beautiful, tropical paradise, you won't be disappointed in Bali!    

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Backylard Beauties

With a specialty lens (Lensbaby), and a little creativity, my common backyard flowers can look a bit magical.  Can you find the little photo bomber that flew into the frame at just the right time?

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Albion Basin, Utah

Albion Basin, Utah

I am always happiest when my day includes a beautiful blue sky and a few puffy clouds!! Another shot from Albion Basin, taken before intense smoke filled our skies from the multiple Utah and California wildfires.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Daily Commute in Bali

Did you have a bad commute this morning?? These were taken through the windshield of a car. Best decision we made in Bali was to hire a private driver each day. ($40 per day split between 2 couples.) We could never have navigated these streets where all traffic laws are mere suggestions, and cars, motorbikes, trucks and buses all travel within 6 inches of each other, even at 30+ mph on some of the less congested roads. It was a frightening experience with motorbikes weaving in and out and in front of us, missing the front bumper by just a few inches, and with everyone making quick taps on their horns, not in frustration or anger, but as communication saying "I'm right next to you" or "I'm cutting in front of you". No one is upset and this is normal driving. It seemed almost like a river of moving vehicles weaving in and out and around each other. While I was on the edge of my seat at all times, I noticed our expert driver, Komang, was very relaxed, but he was also very alert about what was happening within a few inches on all sides of the car. I was amazed we didn't see crashes everywhere. Komang said there are accidents, but not as many as you would think. He said when the locals see people with light colored skin driving motorbikes, (tourists), accidents are more likely to occur.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Jatiluwih Rice Terraces, Bali

Jatiluwih Rice Terraces, Bali
(One of three UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Bali)

“A simple act of kindness the size of a rice grain can weigh as heavy as a mountain.” 
~ Feroz Bham

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Mirror Lake, Utah

Mirror Lake, Utah

No mirror reflections on Mirror Lake when I was there a few days ago. It was too windy, but still a lovely place to spend the day, escape the summer heat, and maybe go for a canoe ride or catch a fish!

Monday, July 30, 2018

Provo River Falls

Provo River Falls, Utah

This picture will remind me of yesterday's little day trip. (I will also remember that delicious strawberry milk shake in Heber on the way home!) Enjoying landscape photography as I do, I feel so fortunate to live within a few hours drive of such a diversity of beautiful scenery from lush alpine forests to desert red rock country.

Patience really pays off in landscape photography.  I quickly found my composition for this shot, set up my tripod, adjusted my camera settings and was ready to go.  Unfortunately the light was horrible with glare and hot spots mixed with deep shadows.  So I made myself comfortable on a hard rock and waited about 45 minutes for the sun to dip behind the trees, creating more even light, with a bit of glow shinning on the waterfall.  I think I was the only photographer who was there at the same time I showed up, who waited for better light.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Albion Basin -5

Albion Basin, Utah

Another shot taken along the path to Cecret Lake in Albion Basin, Utah. 
 (I love when I find scenes and compositions that are color coordinated!!)

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Albion Basin - 4

Albion Basin, Utah

Some of my most interesting photos are the ones I take from at least 4 feet above or 4 feet below where I would normally hold my camera!  For this shot I held my camera about a foot off the ground in order to capture the sun rays and back light the flowers.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Albion Basin - 3

Albion Basin, Utah

After the beautiful sky in my last post faded, I had a few minutes to find a spot to watch the sun make its appearance. What an inspiring way to spend the morning! 

"How glorious a greeting the sun gives the mountains." ~ John Muir

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Albion Basin - 2

Albion Basin, Utah 
Before Sunrise

I had to give Albion Basin one more try this year, so I drug myself out of bed a little before 5 am to be there before sunrise. Looking at the clouds on the way, I knew there was the potential for some color. I was rewarded for my efforts with this beautiful pre sunrise sky which only lasted a minute, but made the early morning outing so worth while!

(Note to Myself and Other Photographers:  If you want to be a good landscape photographer, you better be a 'morning' person, or force yourself to be one, at least part of the time!  Taking beautiful photos is SO much easier when the light is beautiful!!)

Friday, July 20, 2018

Albion Basin-1

Albion Basin After Sunset

I decided to drive up to this beautiful mountain oasis to take photos at sunset. Unfortunately I miscalculated how long it would take me to get there. I arrived at the parking lot after the sun had set and most of the mountain and wildflowers were in deep shadow. I realized I didn’t have time to hike to where I planned on taking photos. I ended up taking about 4 shots and then it was dark. 

NOTES FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS: Sometimes the image I end up with is not what I planned. As soon as I parked, I jumped out of my car, grabbed my gear and took off to my preplanned place. Several other photographers were there as well, and we knew we were racing against time. They all took off running, but I stopped when I realized I would be completely out of daylight in just a few minutes. So I looked around to see if there was something worth shooting right there. The sunset was gone, but when I looked behind me I saw this beautiful sky and one little patch of flowers lit by the remaining light. To get this shot I was standing next to the restroom in the parking lot just a few feet away from my car. Sometimes it pays to be aware of your surroundings and shooting situation, then be willing to change plans and look for new and different photo ops.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Wildflower Beauty

My favorite flowers are not the showy ones, cultivated, nurtured and growing in flower beds. More often they are modest little gems living humbly among the untamed flora of nature.

 "I will not be another flower, picked for my beauty and left to die. I will be wild, difficult to find, and impossible to forget."
 ~Erin Van Vuren

Friday, July 13, 2018

Lavender Fields

 Young Family Lavender Farm
Driving on I-15 between Nephi and Provo, Utah at this time of year, you can see beautiful lavender fields in an otherwise bland landscape. This is the Young Lavender Farm. It is now a large, commercial, touristy enterprise and one must pay to go into the fields to take photos. But when I took this photo several years ago, visitors could just stop by the roadside near the fields, (not I-15!), and wander, enjoy and photograph. It is a favorite place for bridal and wedding photography. On the day I was there, several couples were posing for their photographers. This was such a lovely scene that I took a few shots from a long distance with a telephoto lens, removing the photographer from the composition.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Red Fish Lake, Idaho

Red Fish Lake, Idaho

I was packed up and walking back to the car, thinking the sunset was over, when this happened. I dropped everything and frantically pulled out my camera and tripod to catch this scene from right where I was standing. A couple of shots and then it was gone!

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Mount Timpanogos Temple

Mount Timpanogos Temple at Sunrise

"In the midst of darkness, light persists." 
 ~Mahatma Gandhi 

The Mount Timpanogos Utah Temple is the closest to where I live, but taking a photo of it that I really like has alluded me...until a couple of days ago. I finally found a new vantage point, and on this morning, the sky was beautiful as the sun peaked over the mountain to light up the temple with a beautiful glow.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Sunrise Alpenglow Over Utah Lake

Alpenglow Over Utah Lake

“How sweet the morning air is! See how that one little cloud floats like a pink feather from some gigantic flamingo......"
                                           ~Arthur Conan Doyle

I woke up early, grabbed my camera and drove 10 minutes to enjoy the sunrise on Utah Lake. I was rewarded for my efforts, however, this shot was taken facing west, just minutes before the sun rose to my back. It looks more like a sunset to me but it's not!! (For those interested, I used a tripod and set my camera to a slow shutter speed to create the soft dreamy look of the water.)

Most landscape photographers have heard the term 'alpenglow'.  This is when the sun is below the horizon either at sunrise or sunset and its rays are not directly shining on the landscape but are reflected off airborne precipitation or particulates in the atmosphere, creating a beautiful magenta color. 

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Draper Utah Temple

Draper Utah Temple

"When you've seen beyond yourself, then you may find, peace of mind is waiting there."
 ~  George Harrison

Friday, June 29, 2018

Can You See Me Now?

Can You See Me Now?

Sometimes patience is the difference between a good photo and a better one. This ladybug spent a long time crawling all over the stem and around this thistle where I couldn’t get a shot of him (or her?). Finally he crawled to the perfect place and decided it was time to rest, just long enough for me to take his picture.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Sunrise on the Provo River

Sunrise on the Provo River

I am not a morning person, but when I do drag myself out of bed early and go exploring with my camera, I am always filled with gratitude, peace and happy thoughts for the day. 

“There's a sunrise and a sunset every single day, and they're absolutely free. Don't miss so many of them.”
                     ― Jo Walton

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Simple and Beautiful

"I really believe there are things nobody would see if I didn't photograph them."
~ Diane Arbus

A photographer learns to see the finished image in his mind before composing the photo in the camera, and often transforms ordinary subjects into something beautiful.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Tegenungan Waterfall, Bali

Although there were many tourists hiking near the falls for the short time we were there, somehow I managed to get this composition with only one person taking in the beauty of this place. And he wore the perfect color shirt to stand out against the background!

Friday, June 15, 2018

Niche or No Niche!

(pronounced either neesh or nitch....both are acceptable)

As a serious photographer, or dedicated hobbyist, have you found your niche? 

Have you discovered a subject you love to photograph above everything else?  If you can answer that question with a confident “yes”, then stop reading and go spend this time photographing more puppies, mushrooms, brides or whatever your passion is!

But if you are inclined to answer that question with a hesitant “maybe” or a frustrated “no”, then continue reading to get my perspective on how to find your niche, or more importantly, how to decide if you really need to have a niche!

If you travel in photography circles, you no doubt have run across discussions that give advice about narrowing down your subject matter to what you truly love to photograph, and then concentrating on honing your skills in that specific area or genre. 

Usually these discussions end with something like, “Don’t worry if you haven’t found your niche, or discovered your signature style, just keep on shooting and it will come.”  And many times it does!   Your niche often evolves and will bring a certain level of comfort and encouragement to help you move forward in a specific direction. 

But I have discovered that many photographers, even many who have been shooting for years, (or decades like me), still haven’t found their niche!!  Why not!  For me, limiting the genre of photography I enjoy, or the subjects I like to shoot, or the styles I like to experiment with, feels too boring, too restrictive, too confining, like being in a photographic prison!  (Okay, that last part may be a bit dramatic!)

For years I thought about this and worried about it.  If I continued to photograph everything I saw that was interesting to me, I probably would never be skillful at shooting anything, (you know, to paraphrase the saying, “A Jack (or Jill) of all trades is a master of none”).  But I knew if I had to limit or curtail what I photographed, the joy I find in photography would be greatly diminished.

But today, after decades of shooting, I can proudly say I am still ‘niche free’, (and worry free), and at the same time have continued to maintain my love for photography!  With some critical and honest contemplation, here is the most important question I had to answer to help me embrace being ‘niche-less’:

What is my foremost reason for wanting to be a photographer? 
Here is a short list of some possibilities for you to consider:

·      I want to use photography as a career.  This will be a business and I must do what it takes to develop a customer base and earn money.
·      I want to have a usable skill to help my family and community.  I would like to be the official photographer at family weddings, birthdays, sports games and community events.
·      I want to be able to take great pictures documenting all the places where I travel, so I can make quality photo books.
·      I want to take photos of my children’s milestones and family growth through the years.
·      I want to develop a solid presence on social media.  It gives my self esteem a boost when others enjoy my photography and say I’m a good photographer.
·      I want to use photography as a stress reliever and a pleasant diversion from my everyday work and routine.
·      I want to use my photos as the starting point for my art projects.  I love the creativity of using editing software to transform a photo into something from my imagination.

I’m sure you can think of more reasons, and most of us probably have several reasons, but once you nail down your primary motivation for being a photographer, you can decide if identifying a niche will be an important part of your success and contentment, or not.  Here are some examples: 

If you are looking to earn money, branding yourself and advertising your area of expertise, (your niche), will help funnel potential customers down to the ones who are actually looking for your particular photographic skills.

If you are looking to build a large presence on social media, posting images of one genre or style, (your niche), will attract a larger group of dedicated followers who have your same interests.

If your motivation is more internal, meaning you take pictures primarily because it brings you joy, (no niche), then you are not as concerned with earning money, gathering followers or being motivated by other outside influences.  You may have little or no incentive to narrow down your subject matter or define a shooting style.  This leaves you free to explore, experiment, change, evolve, discover, learn, and grow in many directions. 

Of course I’m not suggesting that by having a specific purpose or niche means you won’t find happiness or joy in your photography.  In fact, if you have chosen a niche you love and are attaining your goals, (i.e. earning money, becoming popular on social media, or improving your skills, for example), you will also love being a photographer.

But if you get bored easily, or just enjoy variety, I would like to offer an alternative to developing a specific niche.  And that is to simply photograph whatever you enjoy with no qualms or qualifying ‘ifs, ands or buts’!  Your interests may change from year to year, season to season, or even day to day.  But you will make connections with, and learn from a diverse group of photographers who will help enrich your photography experiences and expand your creativity.  And yes, your skills and talents as a photographer will still continue to increase and expand, even if you are a Jack or Jill of many genres and styles of photography.

In practical terms for me, this means, shooting flowers in spring, and landscapes in the summer and fall months.   Winter will probably mean concentrating on still life and food photography indoors. At the beginning of the school year I’ll be shooting portraits of my grandkids, and in December I’ll probably be shooting Christmas lights.  Last month I was shooting Hindu temples in Bali and real estate photos for a friend selling her house.  And inbetween there is street photography, black & white, high key, macro photography, and the list goes on and on!  The expectation of what I might be shooting next and what my finished image will be, is invigorating and exciting!

To sum up, developing a niche or not, depends on whichever decision leads you closer to your goals as a photographer, and at the same time adds the most to your enthusiasm for taking pictures.  Imogen Cunningham said,  “Which of my photographs is my favorite?  The one I’m going to take tomorrow.”  Me too!

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Peonies in Shade

Peonies in Shade

These peonies were drooping almost to the ground and were in deep shadow, creating a dark and moody photo which I emphasized with soft focus and some creative editing.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Bold & Beautiful!

Bold & Beautiful

If you like bold, beautiful, colorful flowers, blue sky and lots of sunshine like I do, then this one's for you!! Perfect to cheer up a Monday!

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Sweet Sunday!

Sweet Sunday!

Hope yours is peaceful, and we all take time to remember the important things in life that speak peace to the soul.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Provo Utah Temple

Provo Utah Temple
Look what I've been missing!  I only live a short distance from this temple and cannot believe I haven't been there when these beautiful roses are in bloom.  They are magnificent and the possible photo compositions seemed endless.  

Because the lighting was very 'contrasty' with lots of dark shadows, I combined 3 separate exposures to even it out.  This was my favorite composition including lots of roses shown in a diagonal line leading the eye into the frame toward the temple.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Spotlight Please!

Spotlight Please!

Spotlight Please! When I'm shooting garden flowers on a sunny day, I look for single flowers lit by the sun with a background that is in the shade. This adds drama to the subject and composition, and makes even common flowers look special. I also try to include a hint of the foliage in the background for additional interest so the viewer knows this was taken in a garden and not in a studio using a black backdrop.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

The Lensbaby Look

Selecting a narrow point of focus plus the dreamy look created by a Lensbaby lens, (specialty lens), turns an ordinary photo into something a bit more artistic. (BTW, who says you can't take photos in the middle of a bright sunny day!)

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Uluwati, Bali

 Uluwatu Coastline, Bali

This is the view from Pura Luhur Uluwatu, claimed to be one of the most holy temples in Bali. It is perched on the edge of a cliff with beautiful ocean views in all directions, at the very southern edge of the island. We managed to be visiting at the perfect time to take photos.

Saturday, June 2, 2018



Congratulations to our oldest grandson Taylor. I usually don't post family photos but once in a while I can't help myself! Taylor is a young man of honor and integrity, plus he is humble and kind to everyone. And he was one of the top 30 students in his graduating class of around 800 I think! (Only a grandma can get away with bragging like this! He never would, and I'm going to be in trouble if he sees this!!)

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Home is Beautiful!

Woodland Hills, Utah

There is beauty everywhere!  I sometimes forget there is beauty close to home, not just in faraway places.  When life gets too busy, I forget to look for it, but when I do, often something beautiful jumps right out at me, even in a vacant lot next to the road.  I hope you look for something beautiful during your travels today!

About this photo:  no, a new type of large Utah sunflower is not in bloom! These wildflowers are a little bit bigger than an Oreo cookie on a plant that is about a foot tall. And no, there was no Photoshop trickery involved in this image. Unique and different compositions can be created by choosing the right scene, the right lens, the right camera settings and the right perspective or point of view. Here I used a wide angle lens, a small aperture (f/20), placed my camera just a few inches away from the flowers and focused about 1/4 to 1/3 of the way into the scene.  I was in a hurry because behind me were black rain clouds that were moving quickly and dumped just minutes after I took this shot. If I had had more time, and wanted a technically better image, (sharper), I would have put my camera on a tripod, taken numerous shots using different focal points from foreground to background, then combined them in PS or another software program. (For you Utah County photographers, I recently posted a similar shot that I had taken several years ago, and said it was taken in the Elk Ridge area. I went back to find this place again, and it is on the main road into Woodland Hills and the flowers are blooming right now.)

Monday, May 21, 2018

Traveling Salesman - Bali

Traveling Salesman....perhaps???

I can't imagine what a balancing act this must be, especially turning corners! Necessity really is the mother of invention!  (I'm going to think of this photo the next time I hop in my car and drive the two blocks to Costco!)