31 July 2011

Up and Down SOOC Sunday

 These are a few straight out of the camera shots working on perspective.  This is pretty much an ordinary shot, taken from a standing position, headed south toward the building.  I do like that if you look closely, you can see one of my classmates on the corner of the library walls taking shots down the wall.

Walking inside, you come to the center of the building and you can look up into the stacks of books for about the first 6 floors of the library.  The reflection in this shot is from the atrium in the middle.  There is glass on all four sides of the inside here, really impressive in person.

Here we are looking down the rows of books and down the hall in the reading room.  The reading room has old fashioned table lights and beautiful solid wood tables.  The floors are marble and the ceiling has a sculptured arced ceiling with large rosettes.

From the 11th floor, you can see all around the campus and into the city downtown.  This is the honors and scholars house, tucked in amongst the trees.  The stairs on the back side (which is the side we see here) are part of an outdoor stage.  It was once the President's residence, before the president moved off campus.  It's a lovely building inside as well.

Then, after all my time in the library, I caught one more lovely sight, up in the hundred year old tree.

Off to take some more photos for my assignment.  It isn't that long of an assignment, just very specific and a bit task-y so I wasn't able to take them all at once.  For more SOOC photos, visit Murrieta 365.


29 July 2011

Portrait reflection

 After today's class I went to the library next door and took a whole host of photos.  I was working on manual settings, white balance, framing, and perspective.  I came around the corner and caught my reflection in the glass.  I thought it would be fun to snap a "portrait" of me, with the portraits of the university presidents below (I'm pretty sure that's who they are).  I also thought including the books was a nice side note to remind the viewer we were in the library.  What do you think?

More Weekend Reflections HERE.

Except for a bit of cropping, this is SOOC.  There is an atrium in the middle of the building.  This means there is a combination of natural light pouring in and mixing with the fluorescent.  I played with the white balance and found that parts of the building called for the sunlight setting, while others did better with fluorescent or cloudy setting.  I read on a blog the other day that many folks find the cloudy choice to be useful inside buildings not using regular light bulbs (tungsten) lighting.  Seems to work for me.

More library shots coming for SOCC Sunday.


27 July 2011

Summer school

So, apparently I can't stay away from the classroom.  I'm taking an introductory photography class at the local university.  It's technically an art class, so it is a combination of learning to use the camera well (I hope) and creating good pictures that tell a story and can be seen as art.  We'll see how much of that I accomplish in this short 5 week session.

This is one of my favorite 'accidental art' kind of photos.  It's from the Bon Jovi concert and I took it will my cell phone.  Love it!  Maybe I'll learn how to do more like this on purpose!

                                                                                 This was one I took to use as a backdrop down the road.  I need to reverse the flags (the wind was blowing pretty well that day) and then I could use text or other photos as an overlay.  That could tell a story.

I wasn't sure how much of the class time I would share here, I don't want to bore you!  However, after the first 4 hours session, I knew I'd have some stories to tell over the next few weeks.  First, the instructor has quite a diverse educational and work history, but I'm not sure pedagogy or classroom management were on the list.  In his defense, 30 people is entirely too many for a summer seminar class, especially when most of them are just there trying to meet a general education requirement.  Reminded me of herding cats...

We spent the first couple hours outside, appreciating the mini break in the humidity.  What I learned is that 2 hours on the hard ground without a break to get up and move around doesn't feel like it did when I was an undergrad...a-hem, several years back!

Part of the course is also the history of photography in general and how we reached this point with digital media and photography as a legitimate art form.  That is really interesting to me.  I tend to learn better when I have the whole concept.  Learning how we've come from chemical type engraving to using digital photos, with all the steps in between tells a story in my head that I can remember when I'm trying to take good photos.  Also, the sheer diversity of people and majors in this class could be a hoot!

I will post some of the photos I take and the purpose behind a few of the assignments as I go along.  Luckily, the state fair is going on while I am in this class, so I will be getting all kinds of good shots from that little trip...and stories too.  Wish me luck for the second 4 hour session tomorrow, after I work all day.



26 July 2011

Barn Spotting

I had to travel out of town last week for work, so I took my camera along for the ride.  I was out in the land of corn and soy beans.  Quite honestly, with the amount of rain we had late into the spring, I wasn't sure how the farms would look.  They were beautiful and green!  Kind of strange to see that much green this late in July.  It was also a little foggy most of the morning.  The new header photo was taken last week as well.

These are two similar photos of the same barn with some color play by me.  The first one has the PW sunshine action applied and the seond one has a photoshop vintage action applied.  I like both for different reasons.  The color one shows neat contrast of the peeling barn with the new tractors.  The vintage one kind of smooths it all out to one "days gone by"feeling.

More great barns with Bluff Area Daily Barn Charm.

24 July 2011

Sunshine for your mouth

I realize this scripture meant more spiritual filling than food, but in this time of farmer's market perfection, I'm reminded that God provides for us in all kinds of ways.  The rain for the crops, the fruit for our bellies, the kindness of strangers making friends, supporting local growers and developing community at the market.

Linking to Scripture and A Snapshot and Macro Monday.
More inspiration to be found if you click the links.


23 July 2011

Book(s) Review - The Book Seer Pick

Reading Challenge #6, The Book Seer Pick.  I am a Nora Roberts fan, especially when there is a series.  So the "Seer" suggested several options.  I read all three books in the Key Trilogy. 

The Key of Light begins the series.  You meet 3 women on different paths in life, that converge one night at the beautiful house on the hill.  They are given an opportunity to pursue a quest.  With success comes great spoils, but with failure comes great price.

The women, and the reader, must make a leap of faith into the magic of Gods and of friendship like they have never known.  Each woman must seek out a key to free the souls of the other world's King's daughters trapped by evil magic.  Only their understanding of their role in life, love and happiness will lead them to the key.

The three women are an artist (book 1), a librarian (book 2), and a single mother (book 3).  They each are given the choice to participate or not, with the understanding that all three must complete the task for the quest to be successful.  Along the way their lives become intertwined by work, love, friendship and family. 

These are written in modern times, contrasting with the fantasy of magical kingdoms.  They are romance novels, but with enough character development to carry you through the series with interest.

My Thoughts: I enjoyed this series very much.  It makes for a good summer read.  Interesting enough to want to continue, but light enough to distract you from every day stress.  I enjoyed the differences in the women and the men that join them along the way.  Each book could stand alone, but makes much more sense as the series.  As with many of her more recent works, the mystery influence of her other writings peek into these romance novels a bit as well.  She creates people you would want to get to know and maybe become friends.

I realize I have not provided a very detailed description for this "review", but I would hate to give away components of the storyline that make it unique.  If you appreciate the type of writing by Nora Roberts or other similar writers, you will not be disappointed in this series.

Linking to the Take a Challenge 3 , The Book Seer pick. 


21 July 2011

Every day hearts

A couple hearts I found last week for Guest Heart Thursday:

Hearts in a gate in the Cathedral of Learning on the Pitt campus.

A yellow heart in the middle of my lovely peach lily.  My mom planted this for me in my front yard and so far I have managed to keep it going for the third year!


19 July 2011

Not your average shopping trip

While I was on vacation, my friend the Dean and I decided to go shopping.  We didn't have any really important things on our list, but more a time to chitchat and pick up things from places we don't have around us.  Something you should keep in mind, is that both of us are from different towns than where we went shopping, different states in fact.  I mention that so you understand that we knew no one in the area, no one knew what we do for a living, no one had any background to work with, it was just one of those days.

We started at IKEA - aka the Mecca of household goods.  If you have not visited one of these stores (and I realize they are not available everywhere) you should plan a road trip or pilgrimage or something.   You will have hours of happiness in this store, there is even a cafe for snacking along the way.  (Side story, my SIL and I went by ourselves one time with my brother's big truck...after our success we were never allowed to go without him again, Ha!) 

Our next stop after lunch was a music store.  The Dean wants to learn to play the guitar, so we thought we'd have to try some different types, styles, sizes, etc. and see what felt good to her.  There were about a dozen patrons in the store when we arrived and half as many clerks milling about the place.  We went to the acoustic/classical guitar section and starting looking around. As we were there, commenting on assorted brands, sounds, and string types a man came in with his young son in an umbrella stroller.  You know, those kind that fold small and when open really only hold the child.  He was trying out guitars himself, and clearly knew how to play.  He started talking with us, sharing his preferences for brand and type, (completely unsolicited), playing a few tunes to show the Dean how different sizes sounded and the like.

And then it happened, he drifted into over sharing.  He talked about how he had been in the music scene, but alcohol and drugs destroyed his marriage and his job.  He proudly told us he had been sober for 2 years now and his new girlfriend (and I imagine his son, who looked about 2 himself) helped him live the good clean life.   Most people might have reacted uncomfortably to this revelation, but most people haven't found themselves in this moment as much as the Dean and I have over the years.  You see, she comes from a 12-stepping family, so instead of awkward discomfort, she congratulated him on his success and encouraged him to keep it up no matter what.  The conversation continued and got a little sidetracked into politics, which is when I started to head for the door.  The man bid us farewell, wished us luck in our shopping and genuinely seemed happy to have been able to share a piece of his life with us.

Our next stop was the mall. It was heavily air conditioned (yay!) and not overly busy.  We looked for tennis shoes for her, shiny things for me, wandered in and out at will.  We laughed about the music store man and how we must have something on our forehead that read "therapist is in" like in the Peanuts cartoons.  As we got to the last of the smaller stores, she went into one and I went into a gifty kind of place.  There were no other shoppers and by brightened look on the clerk's face at seeing me, there may not have been any for some time.  I was looking at the baubles when the nice lady asked me a brief question.  I answered and off she went, telling me her life story.  Her oldest son was in town for the weekend to introduce the new girlfriend and the woman didn't really know how to take her,  Her youngest son still lived at home, although he did work a lot, she was sure to inform me.  And she wasn't really supposed to be playing the music she had on in the store (I liked it), but she was the only one working that day and she was tired from her breast cancer treatments...

After sentence three, I realized I was in it for the long haul.  So I just leaned against the counter, let her talk, added appropriate comments and just listened.  It was clear all she wanted was someone to listen to her.  I could do that, I was on vacation, I had the time (and incidentally, a master's in counseling), I could be present for that moment.  As soon as the Dean walked in the store, she could tell by my posture and facial expression that this lady was the music man all over again.  She browsed without interrupting and when there was a break in the conversation, gave the woman a graceful way to change the subject and move on.

I did end up buying a small shiny thing there, (because it is a weakness) and we said our goodbyes.  As we headed back to the car in the heat, we again revisited the strange encounters we'd had.  I hope both folks felt a little bit better by meeting us that day.  I guess some days God works through you without giving you a head's up before hand!


18 July 2011

Pretty Places

The Carnegie Museum of Natural History has wonderful exhibits, but is also visually pleasing to walk around.  I snapped a few shots of the museum itself, because it reminded me of glory days gone by.

Gorgeous grand staircases with columns, ironwork, and marble.  Wonderful carvings at the base and stunning lamps that make a statement all on their own.

The Museum was founded by Andrew Carnegie in 1896 and I think some of the workmanship shows the "Victorian Era" as interpreted by a growing city of Pittsburgh at that time.  It remains one of the leading museums in the US.

All lovely venues must have a gilded elevator, right?

The detail and relief on these doors and the steel doors that enter the museum is so impressive.  I'm sure people wondered why I was staring at the doors, but not going into the elevator!

And then I did.

So I could go up to the top and get this view one last time before leaving.

I'm pretty sure I would have been happy during this era...well maybe not the heavy dresses and limited options for women part, but I could have really rocked a party in a place like this!


16 July 2011

Some time with Monet

Most of the time I spent with friends in Pittsburgh was on the University of Pittsburgh Campus.  Also nearby is Carnegie Mellon University.  The area is home to the Carnegie Natural History Museum and Museum of Art.  By the time I reached this section, I had been over a good part of the campus and it was 90+ degrees outside.  To say the inside quiet, calm and air conditioning was a relief is putting it mildly!

These are a set of stairs on one side of a courtyard that is walled in glass.  You can see the courtyard in the reflection of the stairs.  I liked the bright colors and smooth design of the stairs.  When you go up them, they lead to the galleries.

Monet - Waterloo Bridge
I was extremely impressed with the collections in this museum, but having 2 of Monet's most well know paintings was the icing on the cake.  The Waterloo Bridge painting was slightly smaller than I thought, but the frame around it was magnificent.  It made me want to be in London in the early 1900's.

Monet - Water Lilies
Nothing could have prepared me for seeing one of the Water Lilies in person, oh my.  The line and post along the bottom of the photo is the ropeline to keep you a little distance from the painting.  I point that out to give you a perspective of the size of this painting, or actually, a series of panels all put together.  It was amazing.  I sat down on the sofa in the middle of the gallery and just took it all in.  Since it was a summer Wednesday afternoon, there ware almost no one in the gallery with me.  I felt no guilt about hanging out there, just resting after a busy afternoon.  I don't think photos really do this painting justice, but I wanted to share mine with you anyway.

More Pitt photos to come, especially from the rest of the museum.


Since I took these with my iPhone, I'm linking up with:

14 July 2011

The Shoes...

 Friday's link-up writing prompt this week at The Red Dress Club was "shoes" (max 625 words).  Mine is a little bit story, a little bit memory, and a little bit reflection on just how important shoes can be.

There are more wonderful stories to be found if you click on the link.

(I promise more photos over the weekend!)

I still miss her some days.

Okay, a lot of days.

She was energetic and fearless and could find fun anywhere.  She would go running across campus alone at night, just to clear her head and breathe.  It drove her cop friends crazy. Oh, they weren't really worried about her safety, she was strong and young and even before she became a self-defense instructor she could handle herself.  They had seen her in action both with drunks in the middle of the night and Vice Presidents at committee meetings during the day.

She had these perfect blue Addidas running shoes.  They matched very little of her wardrobe, but what they did match was her belief that she couldn't fail, even though she had never been a runner before.  It took her months to find a pair that made running not completely suck and once she found them, she bought three pairs.  One pair for outside trails and track, for running 5K events to raise money for causes, and for keeping her friends company on their daily routines.  One pair was for the rainy day treadmill grind when she would pop in her earbuds and zone out for the required miles of the day.  On those days she focused more on her breathing and just surviving the run.  But she would do it to prove to herself she could and eventually because her job would depend on it.

The last pair was a backup.  That third pair was more an emotional backup than anything else.  It was a symbol to her that she would always keep running and need yet another pair of perfect shoes down the road.

She loved to dress up, sometimes to go out, sometimes just to feel good for the day.  She loved shopping of all kinds, but shoe shopping came with an extra little boost of energy.  She had a classic style.  I think she never really felt like she fit into trendy and couldn't completely give up the suburban Eddie Bauer look.  Her favorite kicks were brown lace-up, hard soled cowboy boots, even though she was never a farm girl.  She worn them unapologetically with her khakis and polo shirts and they silently projected her fun, but strong personality. 

She had scores of heels, a weakness for sure, but the navy pumps got the most wear.  They weren't stilettos or pointy toes, even when that was all the rage.  They were traditional and slightly practical and would never go out of style.  She was one of the few staffers who wore dresses even when the workday didn't call for one.  She balanced being thoroughly girly with having grown up a little-bit tomboy. 

She knew before everyone else she was going to have to leave, to let someone new take over.  She had been making subtle changes over the years, ones no one really noticed.  She stopped wearing the heels so often, and chose pantsuits.  She had difficulty finding "just the right shoes" a little more each time she tried.  And before she left, even though she knew she'd never use them again, she couldn't let go of that last pair of perfect running shoes.  She couldn't let go of who she had been in them.

It's funny, what a pair of shoes can mean.


12 July 2011

Knee Deep

Knee deep in the water somewhere
Got the blue sky breeze blowing wind through my hair
Only worry in the world is the tide gonna reach my chair
Sunrise there's a fire in the sky
Never been so happy
Never felt so high
And I think I might have found me my own kind of paradise

Come on in the water it's nice
Find yourself a little slice
Grab a backpack of lies
You never know until you try
When you lose yourself
You find the key to paradise
(Zac Brown Band featuring Jimmy Buffet: Knee Deep)

After 2 days back at the office I am already planning my next vacation. Ha!
Here's to Watery Wednesday and wonderful thoughts of ocean fun, where ever you may be.

11 July 2011

Back to our regularly scheduled program...

What fun to have a week off from work and traveling around different parts of Pittsburgh.  I did notice, it took me almost three days to actually relax...which means I was entirely too high strung and need to try and avoid that in the next few months until my next week off!

Today I want to share a stop I made on the way into Pittsburgh, off Rt. 79 (exit 45 I think, if you are interested).  Sarris Candies and Ice Cream Shop...can I have an Amen?

This place was recommended HEAVILY by some friends from the area, so I had to stop.  Their praise still didn't prepare me for the sheer glory of the candy shop and fun to be found here.  The only thing that saved me from buying out the place was the 92 degree heat and the drive I was still making for a bit longer.

They had some really adorable July 4th displays all over the store, which even pictures cannot communicate the size and glory...

Here's a summary of a few of the fun items I came across.  (I used a new iPhone app (PicFrame) to put it together.)

The store was really bright not only in lighting, but in energy.  Everyone there was happy and the lines were not too long, even for a Sunday on a holiday weekend.

Ridiculously fun use of chocolate and candies!

I may need to make a trip when it is colder, to buy Christmas gifts all around.  Nothing you wouldn't love here.  Below is another iPhone photo with a little cute trim to fit the theme (Camera+ app).

Of course, if candy isn't for you - there is a whole Ice cream shop on the other side.  The servings are enormous and the taste is spectacular.  And yes, I did need to use my Tide pen on my shirt after the monster chocolate "single dip" cone, why do you ask?!

If you find yourself on Rt. 79 in Pennsylvania, do try to stop off at Sarris - worth every minute!


06 July 2011

Still on vacation...

I'm still off enjoying the summer holiday week.  I hope you have been able to fit in some good times as well.  I'll be back with stories from my travels and after sufficient time at the pool and grilling out! 

Oh, and a couple more ice cream shops...


04 July 2011

Happy 4th of July!

I am celebrating all the good things of Independence Day with long time friends. 
I will return with stories, laughter, and of course, photos to share.  
Happy 4th of July!


01 July 2011

Weekend Reflections

This Harley was at a travel show earlier this year.  Now would be a perfect time to be out riding it!  If you look in the rear-view mirror, you'll see a photo of 2 other motorcycles that was hanging on the wall.

More great reflections here: