Tuesday, August 31, 2010

September Desktop Image


Here is my September desktop image for you to download, share and enjoy.  Just click HERE  then right click to set as your desktop image.   It should not be pixelated or blurry.  If you have problems, let me know and I'll help.

For those of you who might not know, at the beginning of each month, (with the exception of last month), I post an image sized to fit your monitor.  It is for your personal use, but feel free to share with friends.  Just don't use it for profit.  I thought I'd recap and list the monthly desktop images so far for 2010:

Tech Talk Tuesday Part 1

 Go WIDE for the WOW factor
If you've followed my blog for long, you know that I often talk about looking for ways to make my photographs stand out in one way or another from the average snapshot.  Sometimes it's the color, sometimes it's the composition, sometimes it's the angle, sometimes is fancy post editing.  All designed to make a photo interesting enough so the viewer sticks around to enjoy it longer.  (I know, I keep repeating myself!)  Another way to do this is to use your various lenses in unique or creative ways.  The photo in the last post, and this one were both taken with a 16-35 mm wide angle lens.   Wide angle lenses have great DOF (depth of field), so they are sharper from very close to the camera to infinity, and they take in more of the view than a normal lens.  They also make objects in the foreground larger, and those in the background appear farther away.  Some common uses for a wide angle lens are when you want to show a grand landscape vista, or maybe get all the people in a crowded room in the same shot, or my excuse to buy a wide angle lens, to take photos of the inside of houses (I'm a Realtor).  One technique I love, is creating the illusion that the object nearest the camera is much larger than it actually is which changes one's normal perspective and so makes for a unique look.  This automatically tells the viewer what the main subject of the photo is, while making everything behind the subject appear smaller and farther away,  creating a supporting backdrop.  These flowers were actually small, but they look unusually large and take center stage in this composition.  First I put my camera on aperture priority and choose the smallest aperture my camera and lens will allow, (large number such as f/22).  I chose a day with no wind and used a tripod.  My camera was probably only a few inches away from the foreground flower, but I focused on a flower about a third of the distance into the scene (hyperfocal distance).  This gave me the best chance of having everything in focus from flower closest to me, to the mountains in the background.  (Obviously, if I'd wanted the background to be out of focus I'd have used a large aperture.)  Hope this gives some of you another tool for your 'creative' photography tool box.       

Tech Talk Tuesday Part 2

How Big Should I Post My Photos on My Blog???

I've had several people ask me how I get my photos to post so big.  I'll tell you how in a minute, but first, some deep thoughts about photography, blogging, and combining the two.  (Don't worry, not too deep I hope!)  
The first question to ask yourself is,  "Why do I want to post big photos?"  No, actually the first question is, "Why do I post photos on my blog in the first place??"  Well, what is the purpose of your blog?  Here are some reasons to blog where photos may be included:

1.  Keep in touch with family and friends
2.  Keep an online journal of my daily life and that of my family
3.  Outlet for my creative writing
4.  Earn money blogging about a popular topic when I get enough followers
5.  Attract customers for my photography business
6.  Want to connect with others who share my passion for photography 

Of course there are many more reasons to blog, but of this short list, I suggest that for the first 4 reasons, small to medium photos will do just fine.  This is because the photos are just supporting the main reason for the blog, they are not playing the staring role.  In the last 2 reasons, photography IS the reason for the blog.
I did a quick check of all my favorite photo blogs I follow, and the majority post big, beautiful photos.  They say "HERE I AM" right at the get-go without any additional effort or clicks on my part.  Big photos say, "Photography is my passion, it's a BIG part of my life, and I want you to see what I see through my viewfinder."  It's kind of like the difference between watching a movie on a 16 inch TV compared to watching in the theater.  Big photos make a bigger impact and show off your talents as a photographer better. 
I also noted that most of my favorite photo bloggers only show one or two photos per post.  This gives me more time to study and appreciate the photographer's work.  When there are too many photos, I find myself quickly skimming through them without really seeing the photographer's vision.  This reminds me of a post awhile back on Scott Kelby's blog.  He was giving advice to professional portrait/wedding photographers who were trying to use their blogs and websites to attract business.  He said that one mistake so many make is they post way too many photos.  He said a photographer should only post a few of his very, very, very best images .  That way, potential customers will assume that all his images are amazing because all they see are amazing photos.   I believe he suggested having a fellow photographer pick out a few of the best images, because often we photographers have a hard time being objective about our own work.   On this blog, (which falls into the No. 6 reason mentioned above), I sometimes sneak in a series of family photos, but usually I try hard to be selective and think about what my viewers would really like, because I truly want you to enjoy and be inspired by what inspires me.  I am always so grateful to get comments and emails from people saying they enjoy my photography, but I often wonder if they'd be impressed with the thousands of images that don't make it to the blog!
O.K.  here's how I make my photos BIG:  First of all, I almost always shoot in RAW which gives me a huge file since my camera gives me 21 megapixels.  For each photo shoot I keep three files:  (1) the originals, (2) the edits which are the original size, (3) the edits resized for the WEB.  I use Photoshop and Lightroom which makes resizing really easy, but no matter what program you use, you have to be able to do this:  Size your photo to 900 pixels on the longest side, (and then whatever the number is on the short side to maintain the correct proportions), and then chose 72 dpi.  (For printing, I use the original size and 300 dpi which is probably overkill).  After you resize, you need to sharpen most images.  Upload to blogger from a file on your computer, not flickr or Picassa, etc.  After you've uploaded to blogger, go to the 'Edit HTML' tab.  You will see about 4 lines of computer code identifying your photo.    Toward the end you will see  /s320/
Change this to  /s900/
You may also have to find the width and height codes and change them to your exact photo dimensions.
This should make your photo BIG and BEAUTIFUL!  (If anyone still has problems, send me a comment or an email and I'll help you figure it out.)  I'm looking forward to seeing more of your big and beautiful photographs!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Feeling Like Fall

I took this photo several years ago.  This lovely scene was in a ditch by the side of a two lane road and directly  across the street was an ugly junk yard.   It is close to home so in the late summer/early fall I would drive by and usually find a good photo op or two.  Now they're in the process of building a new highway there.  The good news is that the junk yard is gone.  The bad news is that so are these wonderful wild flowers!  P.S.  If you like the perspective, and it looks a bit different to you, check in tomorrow on Tech Talk Tuesday, and I'll explain how I set up this shot.  Also, I've had several people ask how I get my photos so large on blogger.  I'll explain that too.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Back Home and Broke!

That's what my Dad used to say every time we got home from a vacation.  Anyway, it's good to be home, even though we had a wonderful time.  There was lots of laughing, teasing, playing games, water sports, eating, relaxing, fun family memories... everything that makes for a great family vacation! 

In honor of 'Sunset (Sunrise) Sunday', here is a photo I think I actually took last Sunday.  This is the view I had from my bed at the back of the houseboat.  I'm an early waker upper, so every morning I'd look out the sliding glass door to see if there was a sunrise worth getting out of bed for.   Definitely a 'yes' for this one!  I had to walk about 5 steps to the back of the boat to take this photo.  The brilliant color lasted only about a minute before it faded, and since I was the only early riser in the group,  I was the only one who got to start the day with this inspiring scene. 

Sunrise at Lake Powell - 2010

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Until Next Time....

I'll end this Lake Powell photo tour with another of my favorites.  This is more like real photography, where most of the other photos have been family snapshots.  This morning the clouds were beautiful, with sun rays peeking through and turning the water gold.  A perfect shot to enhance with a bit of HDR.  I have to add something about Lake Powell skies.  At night when it is clear, as it most always is, we lay on our backs on the top deck and watch the best show ever.  The sky is very, very dark (no city lights for miles), and so you can see millions upon millions of stars and constellations.  The milky way is amazing, the north star brilliant, the big and little dipper are easily spotted.  And almost every night you can see one or more shooting stars.  Now that is relaxing!!!  

Friday, August 27, 2010

Taking a Stroll

Sometimes in the afternoon we'll stroll along the shore, visit with our neighbors, build sand castles or play games in the sand.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


If we are not in the water, or relaxing with a good book, or playing games, then most likely we are eating!  All junk food is acceptable and encouraged at Lake Powell.  One week of junk food can't hurt, can it???? (This is Tyler's Emily.  They had just started dating.)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Heavenly Water

This is what every water skier dreams of - water as smooth as glass!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

History Revealed

There are many ruins of ancient people in these red cliffs.  Part of this 'home' is original, and part has been restored.  I can't remember for sure, but I believe these ruins belonged to the Anasazi who lived in this area.

I guess this photo is 'X' rated.  I hope no one is offended.   Ancient pictographs (painted), and petroglyphs  (carved) are common throughout southern Utah's red rock country.  These appear next to the dwelling in the above photo.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Seeing the Sights

This is one of my favorite photos from last year.  One day we usually hop in the ski boat and go touring.  There are thousands of little inlets, channels, etc.  This inlet is not much wider than you see here.  It is often a bit scary to be surrounded on all sides by huge red rock cliffs.  Sometimes the rock takes on a bowl shape overhead.  The amazing formations of arches and holes and shapes are endless.  The kayakers on the left show how huge the rock formation is.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sunset Sunday

This is a panorama, so the blog format does not do this scene justice.  The sunrises and sunsets are so stunning at Lake Powell.  The rocks, already red, take on the most gorgeous colors at sunset and the water turns magenta.   This is a hand held panorama from the back of the houseboat.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Water sports 'rule' at Lake Powell.  In the summer the water is warmer than bath water, and most of the day is spent in the water, whether, skiing, swimming, floating on a tube or jumping off the top of the houseboat!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Time to Relax!!!

Yesterday we said goodbye to the last of our house guests and today we leave for Lake Powell for a week of rest and recuperation.  I'm taking my camera, my bathing suit, and 10 good books.  That's about it!  I might take a few photos, but the majority of time will be spent in a nice deck chair with a cool drink in one hand and a book in the other.  The rest of the gang will probably be water skiing, tubing, etc., but that all seems like too much work for me!  I'll have a post each day, with fun memories of last year's trip so you can see some of our fun times!


Here is the houseboat with Tyler, Emily and some of their crazy friends.  I think I posted a photo of this before.  If so, sorry for the repeat.  There are 4 bedrooms (well, cubby holes), two bathrooms, kitchen and living area.  All the comforts of home, including air conditioning!   

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Fantasy Wedding

Tyler and Emily hired photographers to take lovely traditional photos documenting the big event; however, Emily wanted me to do some 'high fashion' and 'fantasy' type shots just for fun.  This was taken before the wedding in the meadow next to my home.  The wedding day was perfect in every way.  I was especially impressed with the photographers they chose - a husband and wife team.  She shot stills and he shot video.  The ceremony was from 3:00p to about 4:30p.  Right after, the photographers took pictures out and around the temple until about 10 minutes before the reception/dinner/dancing that started at 6:00p.  As part of the 'entertainment',  they set up a large screen and played a beautiful video that the videographer had just taken 15 minutes earlier.   I was amazed he could put this together on the spot and that fast.  He said it was a short sneak peak at what the final one will be.  If you want a little romance today,  HERE you go!  (P.S.  I don't know if it is because it is HD or what, but you have to start the video,  then pause it, and let it 'render' or 'load' or do whatever it does for a few minutes.  Then hit the start arrow again, and it should play without stopping.)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Today's Garden Critters

Camera Shy

In My Garden

Finally, I was able to sleep in a little bit, then go outside and enjoy an early morning stroll through my garden.  It felt wonderful to relax a bit and know that I didn't have to rush off to another major commitment.  The next few photos will be about discovering what has been growing while I've been away.  (I love the bokeh background in this image.)
P.S.  The wedding was beautiful, and the reception was so fun and very entertaining.  It was a mix of very elegant surroundings, prime rib dinner for 180, and the most fun, watching Tyler and Emily show us their 'first dance' which was beautiful.  They met while country dancing, and they dazzled us with a combination of slow and swing, twirls and dips.  I couldn't believe my son was doing this, let alone in front of all those people!  (Another best part was that I wasn't the photographer!!!  I just concentrated on enjoying every minute and letting someone else worry about documenting every moment!)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sunday Sunset

This was taken several weeks ago from the deck of the home of a dear high school friend.  She and her husband invited Jeff & I to stay at their lake house while attending our high school class reunion.  We had a great time dancing to the 'oldies' and I had fun getting reacquainted with classmates.  I even made a true confession to the class football hero that I had a crush on him, but I'm sure glad I ended up with my husband!!!  (Check out Scott's Sunday Sunset HERE.)

Friday, August 6, 2010

Up For Air!!!

Elegant Emily
This is my soon to be daughter-in-law.  We did some magazine type high fashion images just for fun.  I've made it through all the aforementioned events with only one to go, and that's the big one, my son's wedding which is next week. 
I appreciate all your kind comments, and Chad, you make me laugh, so even though you're probably not into wedding photography, this is what I've been shooting, so it'll have to do!  And give Scott a pat on the back for me!  I miss keeping up with everyoneand I'll be back after the wedding.