29 November 2010

A lovely addition

Jen over at Cabin Fever in Vermont had a contest to win one of her fantastic firefighter photos.  I won!  Here is it, arriving in a perfect gift box, tissue and a bow.  So nice! 

It will be a nice addition to my office and motivate me to try and get something of this caliber from my camera.

She also has a photography blog and monthly photo challenges.  
Do stop by for a visit when you have a minute.  :)


27 November 2010

Scavenger Hunt Sunday fun

Ashley Sisk hosts Sunday Scavenger Hunt.  I cannot always get the items on the list, but wanted to try again this week.  Here are the challenge words:

Black and White: (in this case silver, but it was close).  An angel on the back of my front door.  The saying on it "I know God does not give me more than I can handle I just wish he didn't trust me quite so much."

I ate this: Homemade cranberry sauce I made from a Pioneer Woman recipe and the beautiful salad my sister's father-in-law made. Both were marvelous!

Historic: The National Arboretum in Washington, D.C.  In the back of the photo you can see the "retired" columns that used to hold up the east portico the Capital.  (from my archives)

Off-center: One of half of dozen cat toys lying about the great room floor.  I have a box to put them all in, but once in a while she just needs to spread them around the house.

The End:  The ends of ribbon in my craft space...waiting to be used for more card making (soon!).

I hope you have a great week!


26 November 2010

A little more thankfulness

To wrap up my week of thankfulness, I'm going to get a little materialistic - kind of.

I am thankful for my camera, my laptop, my iphone, and my GPS.  You see, I'm a little bit addicted to my electronics.  But it's not just because they are fun by themselves, but because of what they have brought into my life.

With my camera I have seen some beautiful skies, colors, and Mother Nature at her best.

I have been able to share in life changing events.

With my laptop I have been able to "meet" wonderful new people through their blogs (and mine); learn new skills and ideas, gain great recipes for family meals, and generally open my mind to a whole new world of possibilities.

With my phone and my GPS I have wandered to new places and found beautiful things, breathtaking landscapes, and met amazing new people.

I have found that I meet more people when I travel individually than with others.  Certainly sharing trips with friends and family is great fun, but meeting new local folks or other individual travelers brings interesting stories, suggestions of "must see" places, and plenty of personal chatting at the tea house or shops.  I wholeheartedly recommend trying it at least once.

I am thankful to my IT guys at work who have given me two 20"monitors so I can run 6+ program screens at once, working with my itty bity attention span, and making my job easier.  Bless them!

I am thankful for many more things, and hope to continue to celebrate through the rest of the holiday season!


24 November 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Today I am thankful for family and friends, peaceful days, full dinner tables, 
and the laughter of children.  Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!


23 November 2010

Thankful for education

I have spent a good deal of my life in school.  I know most people feel that way, but I'm pretty sure I've spent more than half of mine in the classroom.  I am very lucky to have come from a family that encourages education of all kinds.

In fact, my friends at work joke that my family seems to be addicted to going to school.

In reality, I think I see it as an opportunity so many people do not get, that I would feel guilty for not using the chances I have.  Besides classroom learning, I have been able to travel abroad academically.  This has shown me new cultures and communities so unlike my own.

I have also learned through working.  I have not followed a direct career path.  In fact, I have changed jobs by choice or necessity at odd times.  I observed how a job was being done and instead of merely criticizing the work,  wondered if I would be able to make positive changes in that role.  So, I went back to the classroom and learned a new set of skills, spent some time in the gym learning to run (a necessary skill) and taught myself that I really could do anything I wanted. 

In the first photo you may have noticed the books aren't quite so scholarly.  And yet, they are some of my favorite "life" books.  They remind me to stop and enjoy what's going on right now, don't take myself so seriously and don't forget to laugh!  I think the Last Lecture by Randy Pausch is so inspiring.  If you don't have time to read the short book (mostly made for his children), you can go HERE to see links to his lecture and such.

I am thankful for having the opportunities to learn in so many ways and I hope I never give that up.  I like the quote (by whom I don't know) that says 'God brings people in and out of your life so you may learn from them or they from you.' 

What a great concept.


21 November 2010

Macro Monday Music

Today I am thankful for music and everything it has added to my life.  I have music on every where - at home, in the office, while I'm be-bopping in my car (ok, sometimes that gets me into trouble), but you get the idea.  I would have difficulty functioning normally without music in my world.

When my siblings and I were young my parents encouraged us to pick an instrument and learn how to play.  I picked flute and then guitar.  I played flute for 10 years, the last few competitively.  After 1 year in college level music, I realized I could not keep up with the musicians and have a completely different major/minor.  At that point I stopped playing flute.

I played guitar for a few years with friends, and primarily in church.  How much fun is it to play with hundreds of people singing along?!  It was as close to stage and stardom as I would get.  A few years ago, while out on a work trip (I say this a lot don't I?) I met up with a friend for dinner.  After eating and gossiping a while, we headed to do some shopping.  The last stop was the music store, as I have always been fascinated by them.  I think it might have to do with all the shiny things!  I ended up purchasing this guitar.  I hope to get back to taking lessons soon.

I am thankful for the years of lessons not only to learn to read music and play, but for what it taught me in life lessons.  I learned that with continued practice, I got better.  I learned that everyone has a gift and even if playing music professionally isn't mine, I can enjoy developing some small skill for fun.  Lastly I learned that music brings all kinds of people together, and that can be the real gift.

This is also my macro Monday entry for this week.  Do go visit Lisa for more fun!


20 November 2010

A week of Thankfulness

I thought I would use this week to remind myself of everything I am thankful for.  This chapel is part of a retreat center in the middle of the country.  The area was so peaceful I couldn't help but stop and take a photo.  I was doing another road trip for work, but really I think it was God's way of getting me out of the choas of the office this week.  For that, I am very thankful!

For some additional Scripture and a Snapshot, please visit 
Katie Lloyd Photography and her talented friends.


18 November 2010

Black and white reflection

I took this photo one time focusing on the candle and one time focusing on the roses.  This version worked well with black and white.  I like that even though the roses are the larger image, the reflection and flame draw your attention directly to them.


17 November 2010

A bumpy day

When this shows up at your workplace in the morning,
you know this day is not going to go well. 

Oh, and those gray skies? 
Yep, pouring rain the second half of the day, just to top it all off.


15 November 2010

Autumn sunset

A plane out for a spin in the evening sky.

I seem to take a good number of landscape and nature photos.  There are several reasons for this:

1.  The continuously changing seasons where I live provide endless possibilities.
2.  Flowers, trees, and water features provide a chance for me to try many different camera settings, then compare the outcome to determine what works and what doesn't.
3. They usually don't move/squirm or not pay attention to the camera!  Although the day I took this photo, I was working with a quickly moving sunset.
4. The subjects are pretty forgiving SOOC, not a lot of demands for editing to make the trees look better. 
5.  It is very relaxing to photograph beautiful (and generally peaceful) scenes.

Now that I have some practice, I hope to move into incorporating more people and action into my photos.  I will keep taking nature shots, because stunning winter scenery is just around the corner!


13 November 2010

Learning PSE 9

I'm a little behind the eight ball on processing photos.  My parents were kind enough to buy me the Photoshop Elements 9 and now I am cooking with gas!

OK, not really, but I'm learning a ton of new things.

While I continue to learn how to take great photos and the in-and-outs of camera settings, I can also learn how to enhance photos with color, texture, and additions.  Helping me on this quest is a book called Teach Yourself Visually and this fabulous free e-course from Kim Klassen Cafe.

So, here are some samples of what I have learned so far.  First simple understanding of using layers and adding some funky color for shock value!

Then I took advantage of another stunning fall day to get some late afternoon shots.  This one I added some soft light, texture, and nice sentiment with text.

And then I really got into it, using several merged layers, more texture, vivid color, and some artistic effects.  I could play with this stuff all day.

 This photo started out from a Sony point and shoot and I really liked the original, but I have to tell you, this version pretty much knocks my socks off!  I know is personal taste, but I hope a few others like it too.

I'm sure I will share more as I learn this new-to-me software.  Feel free to leave any favorite techniques you may have in the comments section, that would be great!


12 November 2010

The mailbox

Along the road that follows this river, the houses are up the hill.  However, the mailboxes are near the road and take a beating through the harsh weather months.  Today was a beautiful day, and in contrast to the rough life of this poor mailbox.


11 November 2010

I Say a Little Prayer for You

To all the Sailors, Soldiers, Airman, and Marines...
to their Families at home and abroad...
to those who have served, are serving, and those waiting for their return...
to those who rest eternally on foreign lands,
so we may all sleep freely in our own homes...

Thank you for your dedication.


10 November 2010

Almost morning

I'm finding that my days start so much better if I get a good photo or two in the morning.   On this particular morning, the combination of the not-quite-dawn and clouds to the east, looked like land beyond the trees.

I felt as if I'd been transported to Denver, where the mountain ranges are off in the distance.  There were no clouds overhead, just to the side.  It was actually a little distracting, because my brain knew there was no land there, but my eyes interpreted the scene differently.

Either way, it was a very fun way to start the day and made for an interesting photo.  I hope you have a good way to start your day!


09 November 2010

Ahem, I was sleeping

So here is Molly my cat, in her favorite cold weather location.  She would stay there for months if I just left the fireplace on.  However, since she does not pay the gas bill, it goes off at night and she has to resort to the bed.

What a great life.

This is the look she gave me when I started snapping photos of her, thus waking her up from a very nice nap.  

Silly me.  

Of course, I probably have that look when someone wakes me too.


08 November 2010

Back to black and white

I took this photo with the intent of including the field and the trees behind it as part of the overall scene.  I do like it, but I also wonder if it would have been better to focus in on the wagon and allow the background to fade.  Also, I feel the black and white processing enhance the choice of simplicity in this life.


07 November 2010

Thoughts for Sunday

Be still and know that I am God.   Psalm 46:10

I took this photo along with several others one foggy morning on my way to work.  Normally my morning commute is like many others - slow, unfocused, and without thought.  This particular morning I felt compelled to take the time to look around me and actually see.  I drove a different path and saw beauty I'd passed by a hundred times. 

One of my co-workers has this scripture up on the wall.  I thought about it as I was wandering through the lovely area taking pictures.  Ya see, some people pay attention when they get a tap on the shoulder from God, some days I require a smack about the back of my head!

This morning I was listening and was still.

For more Sunday Scripture and a Snapshot, head over to Katie Lloyd photography.


05 November 2010

Flashback Friday

The first time I went to England, I didn't have an opportunity to go far enough north to reach Hadrian's wall.  This wall is the furthest line of the Roman occupation under the emperor Hadrian.  It was begun in 122 AD.  It was 80 Roman miles in width, about 117 kilometers.

I sat there fascinated that centuries of people have come through that same space.  All different cultures, backgrounds, and with varying purpose.  While we were there many hikers also came by.  There is a bus that tours the area and will take you to the stops from one end of the wall to the other.  Or, if you are so inclined, you can take advantage of the friendly English view of sharing land, and walk the path yourself.

At this location the remains of a fort are used as a history stop and the people tell stories and play historical instruments and music.  So lovely.

I will definitely return to this area and explore further down the wall.  I'm sure there are many more stories for me to read and hear.

Linking to The Adventures of Christopher and Tia for Flashback Friday.  Won't you come visit?


03 November 2010

One more Halloween photo....

This is my adorable baby niece as the Lion from the Wizard of Oz.  Her parents went as the good witch and scarecrow.  Thanks to Mama N. for sending this photo - it made my day!


02 November 2010

November in Black and White

 I am still learning all about photos and camera settings and the like, so I decided to try another suggestion of theme - black and white.  Justine Gordon has a lovely photography blog and she talked about the great fall lighting and how it can be used in B&W.  So for November I am going to play along and try to get some photos that do it justice.

First, I thought I would go through some of my current shots to see what works in B&W and what doesn't.  The two today are from my garden this summer.  The first one is a red/yellow flower.  The second, a white daisy.

What works for me in photo 1:  I really like the light/dark contrast on the petals and I can see the details on the leaves better in B&W. 

What does not work for me in photo 1:  It is a little too busy, too much going on for me.

What works for me photo 2:  I used a fish eye filter and I love the focus on the flower itself, the detail in the middle and petals, and the edging effect of the fish eye. I'm pretty sure I need to find more reasons for this filter look!

What does not work for me photo 2:  It's a little boring, too centered, and I'm not sure the B&W makes it any more special than the color version.

I have a few more photos I will review and then I hope later in the week to get out and take some shots with the intention of B&W.  Wish me luck.

Oh, and I'm always open to suggestions!


01 November 2010

Catching up

I'm catching up on going through my photos and thought I'd share a few from a concert.

My friend Kim and I work in buildings about a half a mile apart.  I can literally see her building from mine, down the street.  We both have jobs with only semi-regular hours because most of the time they involve putting out other people's fires or meeting last minute-imposed deadlines.

We live on either end of the same suburb. 

And it will take us half a dozen tries to find a time to meet for dinner.  So when she emailed me one Friday morning and asked if I wanted to see a concert that night, I said "sure!"

 Then I asked "what concert?"

It was Roger Waters doing Pink Floyd's The Wall.  Hmm.  I was never a Pink Floyd kind of gal, but I knew a surprising number of songs at this show.  I suppose it has to do with the sheer amount of time they were played on the radio - over and over.

The stage production was impressive, as it should be because they must have used 15+ semi's to cart it all in.  The stage started with an opening in the middle and the band playing behind it.  They flashed all kinds of multi-media on the sides of the wall.

Occasionally they would bring out large, dramatic, and bizarre animals to go along with the songs.  I suppose if I knew all the words, as many in the crowd did, it would have made much more sense.  By the end of the show the wall had been completely built up, and the band reappears in the front.  They continue to use lights and crowd interaction for dramatic effect.

I'm sure die hard fans appreciated the music in this show, but for me it was all about the stage production.  This is more of an event than a musical concert.  Also, I imagine that if you had a good number of adult beverages or other things, it would be a completely different experience.  I'll have to leave that to others to explain if they have been there.

Most importantly, because we were up in a box, Kim and I got to catch up a little between songs and photos!  She actually brought a camera, I opted for the iphone.  I've been to so many concerts that don't allow cameras, I don't even put it in the car when I go anymore.

I probably don't need to see this twice, but it was a fun night out, and a little culture to boot!