Chasing Balloons

Blog, Photography

catching-bubbles

Childhood memories…of sorts.  There’s a favorite place I like to go that sits up high (I’m guessing that’s why they call the adjoining neighborhood Highpoint).  From this spot, we would perch ourselves on a fence that surrounded a horse pasture and watch the jets fly from a Navy airbase barely visible in the distance.  I can still feel (and hear) those jets… and the planes just like the ones my dad used to fly and would take us to see when we were little.  The airbase and the jets are gone and so are the horses and the fence we used to sit on.  But if I situate myself just right, the homes that now surround this little patch of field fade away and time rewinds… if only for a moment or at least until one of the dogs pulls on his leash.

Until next time,
Maria

Some Like It Hot

Blog, Photography
feel-the-heat

It’s not hard to see why these are the flowers of summer. . . the hotter the better.

Hard to believe the 4th of July has come and gone…  but here we are in the thick of summer, some of us surviving the summer heat better than others.  I know two golden retrievers that are just fine lounging in the AC all day…

However, it’s stifling being stuck inside all day and a quick trip to the quaint town of Chester, Connecticut, over the 4th of July weekend, was just what I needed.   Beautiful weather and seasonably mild summer temps (for July) kept me outside and the photo ops were bountiful… from the beautiful roadside flowers, to the annual Chester 4 on the 4th run, to8-J-and-J-1-mile the family traditions of running the race (or for me photographing it), cooling off in the pool, and celebrating the 4th with, what else, sparklers and fireworks in the driveway.  Now that’s summer!

PHOTO TIP:  If you have Photoshop CC and haven’t tried it yet, check out the Shake Reduction feature (found under filters/sharpen).  These two “action” shots were taken from a pretty good distance with a 70-300,  hand held (a pretty hefty weight for me, so stability is always a challenge).

21-Stacks-Out

What I like about the shake reduction filter is that it does not over sharpen the entire image, it let’s you control the area and the amount…and it’s quick! No masking, layers, etc.   A great little feature.

 

Rested and inspired…

Lifes-Journey

I don’t mind so much lounging in the AC with a couple lazy golden retrievers.

Until next time,
Maria

My Secret Garden – Part I

Blog, Photography

Nope you haven’t missed any posts, I’ve just been too busy growing my photo library… a lot!  Since this is a photo blog and it is a beautiful time of year… I guess it is not that surprising that I’ve been spending a lot more time behind the camera lately.

EandM-II

Our lovely guide (aka sister-in-law) Eva and my daughter. I read somewhere recently that a blurry object in the foreground is a no-no. I actually like the slightly blurred column here… I also like to veer off the beaten path from time to time.

Back to my garden(s)…  Actually, it’s not really much of a secret as they are readily available for all to see.  One sits in front of my house, and the other is a beautiful setting and formal gardens of Longwood.     Part I:  My visit to Longwood with my daughter and sister-in-law.  I traveled light (i.e. minimal camera equipment) because sometimes it is just really nice to be present with those you are with.

And what's an outing without a self?

And what’s an outing without a selfie?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But that’s not to say, I didn’t keep an eye out for a photo-op when it presented itself…

grape-lime-ricky-copy

Ok, let me just say I am pretty gosh-darn proud of this image.  First, I resisted adding any effects… although tempted… a lot.   This is straight out of the camera, taken in a wide open field, hand-held-no tripod.  Okay, so maybe it’s 95%… the other 5% is the post I did in Topaz Clarity to bring back some of the vibrance lost from it being such a bright yet humid & hazy day, but that’s it.  The flower, the backdrop, and those colors are 100% courtesy of mother nature.

 

Longwood-Terracotta-copy

Now this one, I could not resist. Before I even took the picture, I thought it looked like a painting.

Wavy-White

A solitary peony with some painterly touches

 

I like to think of the sky has a natural light pad. Exposing for the flower, I naturally blew out the sky and created this lovely white backdrop.

A natural light pad! Exposing for the electric  orange of this flower (no idea what kind it is), I naturally blew out the sky and created a lovely white backdrop.

white-on-black

Moving indoors, a Longwood visit isn’t complete without perusing through the orchid house.  Opposite of the orange flower, exposing for the lovely white cluster of orchid blooms (again, I can never remember the names) provided a dramatic almost black background.  

X marks the spot

Don’t forget to look up!  A slight variation on the black & white (or is it white and black) theme. This is the top of the lovely gazebo you saw part of earlier.  Again, exposing for the black ironwork created this natural black and white image.

Yellow-Water-Lily

I’ve been to Longwood a few times over the years, but this is the first visit where the lily pond actually had lilies! No painterly effects; surprised… me too.  Another 95/5.  I am definitely heading back next month with my long lens when the pond is in full bloom!

And that was just a handful of some of the beautiful blooms  at Longwood.  I can’t wait to go back.  Until then, I’ll be spending a little more time on my photos from my own garden… the roses are putting on such a show and I can’t wait to share them with you.

Until next time,
Maria 

If I had to pick… just one

Blog, Photography
I-heart-summer

I ❤ (heart) summer

Who doesn’t love summer… right.  There’s nothing like a lazy summer afternoon, warm breeze blowing and a refreshing summer brew to help cool you off… perfect actually to sit and write a blog post 🙂 … if only it were always that easy ~ as that moment has passed and now two, now three days and what seems like a thousand (but only 11 last count) edits later 😉

That is probably because my thoughts for this post have been all over the place… hmm, maybe because so has my photography and all that goes with it.   On the plus side,  I’ve been taking a lot of photos, continuing to learn my camera, learning new techniques for both in camera and post processing ~ using new textures and filters, and experimenting…  So, finally picking at random, one topic out of that mish-mash of topics above to blog about, I thought I’d share how this DIY lightbox that diy-lightbox I found in my dad’s basement led me to a favorite new tool (for now) ~ an LED light pad.

A favorite technique/effect of mine has always been the result from back lighting flowers (or just about anything that is somewhat opaque)The-Little-Things and the lovely shapes, color and lighting that come with it.  Unfortunately, mother nature is not always very cooperative: too windy, too bright, too cloudy, too… well, you get the idea.  Trying different light sources (a flash or a window) in the “studio” has not been all that successful either… close, but just not quite.

So I dusted off the DIY light box.  Unfortunately, the bulb, which looks something like a doughnut, gave off only enough soft bright light in a very small portion of the frame.  But in this very small space, I saw the effect I wanted to achieve… getting closer. diy-lightbox-with-text

The next challenge, to get that light source to fill the entire frame.  Thinking I could just repurpose the box I had,  I asked Google, which turned up a couple DIY light boxes (too complicated/technical for me) and some manufactured ones (mainly used for viewing negatives and $$$) and a link to a photographer’s post (thank you Denise Ippolito) and how she used a light pad …and as it turns out, the key words in all of this were LED and pad.  There it was… an artist’s tool, something used mostly for tracing by tattoo and graphic artist.  This had so many pluses – adjustable brightness, super slim (i.e. super easy storage), maneuverable, and $ compared to $$$ – I chose the Litup (click on image for link) – and most important a continuous even bright white light that fills the frame.  I’ve only just started using it, but have so many ideas for this simple little device… and without all the too this or thats.

the-light-withinFlowers from my garden ~ the heart of flowers above and this trio are floating in water in a clear glass bowl on the light pad and processed with just a touch of Topaz glow.

Til next time,
Maria

June Color Challenge

Beyond Layers, Photography

I acept!   I’ve been catching up on the KK and the Sisters Facebook and blogs. I am just glad I went back far enough to find the Shutter Sisters post here:  http://shuttersisters.com/home/2012/6/1/colour-month.html.

Calendar courtesy Shutter Sisters

Well, like I said, I am a little behind . … 15 days to be exact.  So I reworked the challenge just a little.  Instead of taking new photos, I decided to revisit my photo library.  If you’re like me, and don’t delete hardly any of your photos, it’s a pretty big library.  So, by just quickly looking at the thumbnails, I picked photos purely by their color!  And as I discovered photos I had overlooked or ignored for this reason or that, I started experimenting with textures and techniques just to see what happens.  So I decided to add a second part to the Color challenge:  To stick with the first processing technique I picked.  Although,  I have to admit, I started out a little cautious, and sometimes didn’t do a darn thing.  But as I went on, I discovered textures I had forgotten about and played with new actions.  I didn’t focus on rules or techniques . . . as this is an exercise in color after all.   I have just one question, when it comes to mustard yellow, are we talking gourmet or generic 😛

 So here’s my calendar of colors so far.   Be sure to check back in a couple of weeks for the final 10!