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 

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The opposite of work…

Blog, Photography

Happy New Year!  Ahhh, a day off… and on a Thursday nonetheless.  It’s not very often I can say that…  As a work-at-home independent contractor, if there is work, it’s usually never a question… work comes first.  And if there isn’t work, there’s always something else on the to-do list, clean, cook, shop… something.  So what better way to welcome 2015 than to take the day off…really off.   But what to do?  It’s too cold outside.  I thought about taking in a museum, but it is a holiday after all.  Ah-ha! I’ll go through my photos, organize my files, etc.  It wasn’t long before that felt like work and I was just browsing through the photos I had taken over the year.  Opening this one up, and that one. . . popping it into a plug-in and seeing what this would do, what that would do.   No real goal in mind, no particular purpose.  I was playing!

And as it turns out, by the end of the day, I had created my own year in review of sorts. . .  in no particular order.

blanket-of-lavender

white-peaks

Untitled-1-15

color-spectrum

Untitled-2-15 a-day-remembered Lasting-Impression

summer-dazeheading-home

Oh well, the organizing will just have to wait for that next day off . . .

May your year be filled with Love & Joy, Health & Happiness
. . .  and time to play 🙂

Til next time,
Maria

Show & Tell

Photography

Remember last week, when I said I was spending a little more time in Photoshop?  Well, thanks to one of my readers and fellow photographers (Thanks, Jeff 🙂 ), I learned of a little gem of a tool.    The sponge tool.  Don’t let the name fool you . . . like it did me. . . it has nothing to with a sponge, at least I don’t think so.   I’m no Photoshop techie,  but I’ll give it my best shot to explain how it works.  If I lose you, you can read more about it here:  http://www.wikihow.com/Use-the-Sponge-Tool-in-Photoshop

Unlike the dodge tool that lightens (and if your not careful washes out the color) and the burn tool that darkens (and, for me, seems to leave the area looking a little gray), the sponge tool when saturation is selected lightens and adds vibrancy.  And when desaturate is selected, it does just that, it removes the color.  Make your adjustments on its own layer and you can adjust the opacity to get just the right amount.

IrisIris_B

In my iris photo, I wanted to draw a little more attention to the yellows, and especially the center of the iris were there are those lovely soft yellows and purples.  In the first photo, I used the sponge tool with saturate selected at 34% flow and left the layer opacity at 100%.   The differences are subtle, but the purples and yellows are not only brighter but also more vibrant.  In Photo II, I used the dodge tool set for midtones at 13%.  The same area is also brighter, but it lost a little of its vibrancy in the process.  I also used the sponge tool in first photo on some of the other yellow areas.  Of course, there are many, many ways to achieve similar results, that’s just the nature of Photoshop, but for a quick selective adjustment, I am really liking the sponge tool (although, I think it really needs a new name).

Til Next Time,Maria