Feeling Thankful

Blog, Photography


There’s so much to be thankful for…  I don’t think there is day that goes by that I don’t look up to the sky, take a deep breath, and just feel so grateful for all that I have ~ family and friends, love, and health, a home… ( and a couple goldens 😉 )  I hope all your days are filled with the same.

Until next time,

Painterly Kiss



If you’ve been following my blog, then you probably already know that I am a big fan of adding a little something extra to my photographs.  Lately I’ve really been enjoying using the Topaz plugin Impressions on my flowers.   But!  I don’t want my photography and/or artistic skills ~ the art of composition, color,  and most of all my vision ~ to get lost in all those special effects.  Finding a balance has become an essential part of my creative process.  Take the peony above. Can it stand on it’s own, without the painterly effect?  You bet! minus-the-paint-Peony  So why add a painterly effect at all?  Apart from personal preference (which I tend to think is really at the root of all art, regardless the medium),  I happen to really like the way textures or other effects give my images a bit of a boost,  whether it accentuates a mood or adds a bit more dimension to the overall composition.  This flower in it’s natural state has a flowy painterly look, even the fabric I used has some painterly-like texture to it.  I just wanted to enhance those subtle details a bit more.

My process to find the perfect balance ~ I usually drop the opacity of the painterly effect (or whatever type of effect I’m using) to less than 50%, just enough… but not too much to overshadow the original image.  And even that’s not really a rule; there may be tweaking with blend modes, adding more layers, some masking…   and sometimes I stumble across something I hadn’t even thought of which is why I now have a third version in the works using some distressed textures (my first special effects love).  One peony… three different ways… so far.

Whatever it takes, it’s finding that balance that gives my images just what I’m looking for… that painterly kiss.

This image really captured my heart...

This image really captured my heart.


Until next time,

My Secret Garden – Part II

Blog, Photography

It’s here… Summer!  Although it’s felt like it for a little while now, today it’s official.   I know it is a Monday, but I hope you get a chance to enjoy today, the longest day of the year…

As promised, here is the second part to my not so secret Garden.  It is in full swing and I can’t wait to get out there again as a whole new batch of flowers are just getting ready to bloom, but until then, I’m still enjoying all the first bloomers like this one….


This is a clematis. Almost done on the vine, but still had a lot of life left in it. With the help of my light pad, Topaz Glow & Adjust. I came up with this… mother nature’s firework.

Many of our perennials, which is the majority of our gardens, survived the late spring cold snap we had… with the exception of the hydrangeas, one of my garden favorites, adding it’s beautiful blues to the garden.  So yellow lilies it is… until the purple cone flowers get going.



No effects here… Practicing back button focusing has become a real plus. This basket was actually swinging in the breeze a bit and I was able to take the shot when it swung back into focus. They (you know who you are)  are right, once you get use to BBF, you won’t want to go back …




The itsy-bitsy fly is not the only tiny thing in the garden.  The little red and white flowers in this hanging basket are only about the size of a dime.


Even indoors things are blooming! Beautifully back lit by the morning sun.

And now the real show offs of the garden… The roses.


Cherry Parfait… and living up to its name! A painterly effect added at less than 50% ever so slightly accentuates the gracefulness of this rose without overshadowing its natural beauty.


It’s official name is Moondance, but I’m calling this Vanilla Swirl. It goes so well the the Cherry Parfait.  A 95/5 with the help of Topaz Clarity.


…and I’m apparently not the only one enjoying hanging out in the the garden.  I hope you enjoyed the tour of our flower garden…

Until Next time,

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.


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…


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.



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


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.


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.


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,