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Friday, May 22, 2015


I hate to do it, especially since I am finding a groove with words and photography. I gotta do it though. I can't open the hotel and keep up with the hobbies. I will be back when we are up and running and I've had a couple of days to recover from the physical challenge of doing so. We are close. We are really close.

Close only counts in horse shoes.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Photo Group

It looks like art photography is going to be a thing for me for a while. In part due to a lack of studio space and patience for a long project. Also due in part to the ease with which digital photography allows art to be made. I've been quite the shutterbug of late.

And to encourage my subjects to come to me, I am helping to do up the yard. If I am to be close to home then I am going to enjoy it. That means a bird bath, flowers, and a small investment in feed and feeders.

Also, I have been invited to participate in an online group at Google+. is a collaborative group that hosts competitions within the groups and also puts together books for charities. I was invited by the co-founder and have entered a Black and white competition. We'll see at the end of the month if I will get anywhere with it. So far the one photograph has gained 30 +ups. A far sight more than my artwork or blog posts ever get.

Anyway, these are the blossoms on the flowering crab outside my bank. I've taken out most of the color and tinted it toward the sage end of the spectrum/ I thought about adding a soft blur to the photo but I rather like how it's come out. Except for the one cartoony blossom near the bottom. Hmm.... might have to go back and play with that some.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

A little bit me....

A bit of a self portrait. A little layering. A little change in atmosphere and there is something kinda me coming through in my shadow. I kinda like the non-portrait self portrait.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Playing with Online Tools

While I was toddling around the Internet today, I cam across some websites that will generate a variety of word clouds.

This one is from tagxego I am quite impressed. I started out over at Text is Beautiful If I just want to do a graphic for an illustration to make a point about something or to highlight a presentation then I would use Text is Beautiful, part of Wordl. But if you want to make art then go with these guys over at tagxego.

If I were to illustrate lyrics then I would also use these guys.

I love text. And I was going to do this the hard way over at PicMonkey. But I think that this will do me just fine.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Point and Shoot

In support of the point and shoot camera to learn some skills while you save up for the big DSLR.
These photos were taken today with the simple GE Digital Superzoom I have. Again, you have to understand how the zoom works, account for the distance and where the thing you are aiming at is in the range and shoot. You have to learn what your settings do, how they do it and then select the automatic settings accordingly. This robin was about 15 feet up the tree. The first photo is with the zoom only half engaged.

What I liked best about this particular shot is that the buds didn't get in the way of the bird. It was framed fairly well. The picture follows the rule of thirds, just not in the way they mean. The subject should be in the two thirds margin. Instead, I have the background divided by thirds with the blue sky slicing between the grey of the trunks. The bird is not perfectly centered in the mid section of the rectangle. And it is not crowded.

For the next shot the zoom was fully engaged which brought in the details of the bird's feathers. It also brought the buds in closer and out of focus to partially obscure the all-important red breast. I like his attitude, bill pointed high. He had just finished a song.

I would also like to point out that I did not have to edit these photos. No darkening the shadows. No adding contrast. No sharpening. No adding clarity and no adjusting color.

This is what can be done with a point and shoot if you take the time to learn how these cameras work. Nothing wrong with making these types of cameras your learning tool. Better to spend a couple of hundred dollars until you find out if you really want to do this than the hundreds and hundreds it takes to buy the SLRs.

Monday, April 27, 2015


Taken on Silver Lake. It's funny. But I forgot that there were several kinds of swans until I went looking up the scientific name to make the placard.

I'm sticking close to home this Summer so the inspiration for art, digital and otherwise, will have to come from close to home.

There is little in life more confusing to a person than wading through the scientific classification of things. The internet is a great place for information. But sometimes it is too full of information. I miss the days of a World Book encyclopedia where I could look something up by a common name and have an easy informative graph or table for the short reference in addition to the long complicated description in the body of an entry. World Book knew how to keep things succinct and pertinent to a search. Britannica however is every bit as verbose as your typical arch criminal who loves to hear the sound of his own voice.

EDIT: as it turns out this is not a cottonwood. The fissured bark is at the base. There is smooth bark at the top. It is an Aspen. But in all the information about identifying Aspens no mention was made of "mature" bark. Apparently, trees age wrinkled too. 
It started with the Blue Jays screaming at the pew pewing Cardinals. The Jays stood still and actually let me take photos. The Cards not so much. So I filled the feeder and sprinkled a seed/nut/fruit mix on the ground. I got chickadees this morning. I could have had a very pretty red headed sparrow with an Eye of Horus brow line but the camera didn't cooperate.

The female Cardinal was on the ground foraging so I think I need to consult some pros about what types of feeders the bigger birds would prefer. The shallow tray is only going to make the finches, sparrows and thrifts happy.

When did I turn into such an old lady?
I'll blame Midsomer Murders for this one. It surely isn't a Sherlock kind of habit.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Swans on the Lake with a GEDSC

Playing with photography still. Taken today on Silver Lake, south of Traverse City. The camera is a GE digital superzoom which some people think is not worth buying and is only good for toasting bread. I beg to differ.

I've taken some really great photos with this thing. You have to know how to compose a shot. And you have to understand how things focus for each of the settings on this camera. Once you understand that there really is no reason that you can not take good or great pictures. Can you do what Ansel Adams did? Maybe. Can you do what the NatGeo guys do? I don't know. My guess is probably not. But if you are going to learn then this was a really inexpensive camera to start with and no reason to be ashamed for the purchase.

But let me tell you, even if you can't get the "perfect pro shot" with this one, you can get a good substrate for digital manipulations. Take the about shot of swans. The camera zoom was set as high as it would go. They were still out of focus and with the angle of the sun they were in a glare with the light radiating off of their backs. There is still depth in the shot. The mid ground where the tree trunks are is distinct. The top of the frame where the silvery branches are is full of texture. It wasn't the "perfect" shot. It did need help with some photo editing. Enter PicMonkey.

Adjusting the shadows and contrast sliders brought things into focus through visual trickery. It didn't really sharpen the features but it cut down on the feather glare. It also made the bare branches stand out a little more. But it was still a weak and uninteresting picture. That means it is time for a filter. I used the Stock Film filter on the Reala setting and played with the slider until I got the look that I wanted. It looks more like it did live in this picture. But the glaring bright greens in the undergrowth on shore are gone so as to be almost monochromatic in appearance.

Of the 20 something shots I took of the swans while they were within range only one did not require any editing of any kind. That is this one of the pair digging in to get some good propulsion. Not a bit manipulation went into this one. They were just at the edge of the camera's range to take this. A few feet further out and there would have been no hope for it.

So you can, in fact, get a good shot with this "worthless" camera. When I am more confident in my abilities I will graduate to a :big girl" pro cam. For now, this one is perfectly suited to my needs and abilities.