Saturday, March 24, 2012

Red Friday

Friday red was fitting; it was the kind of day at work that made me want to see red anyway :) I was very glad it is Friday. . . it just happened to be one of those days that I never sat at my desk . . . well, except for the 2 minutes where scarfed down my heated up leftovers for lunch at 1:30 pm. I love being busy and don't do well bored in any case, but today was a little too much. I did get my stuff done, though, and should not have to work over the weekend.

We do have a busy weekend ahead. My son has a karate tournament this morning and then we are off to St. Louis for an overnight stay to see a concert. It is mostly fun stuff. The tournaments are always a little stressful, but we'll get through it. Just need to get everyone in the car!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Blue Thursday

It's blue Thursday in Kim Klassen's Beyond Layers course. I opted to just do a single photo for this one rather than a collage.

This is processed with Kim's textures theveil and oceanside from her studio collection. There are two layers of theveil (one at color burn (low opacity) and one at multiply and there is one layer of oceanside at soft light.

I decided to go sort of heavy and ultra saturated with this image . . . sometimes that is fun.

Pink Wednesday

Wednesday was for the color pink in the Beyond Layers class. It's hard to believe that March is not over, yet the magnolias have bloomed and are just about expired all through town. Such strange weather we have been having.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Yellow Tuesday

I rushed around a lot on Tuesday to get these photos. I really wanted to get the yellow all in one day. I ended up taking a few on my way to and from my tae kwon do class.

I struggle with the text part in the bottom bar, so I'll need to re-look at the video tutorial on how to do these storyboards.

By the way, my daughter found that yellow heart scribble I made on the white paper with a yellow highlighter (just because I found something yellow) and when I got back from my tae kwon do class, she asked me if I had made that. I told her that I had and she showed me how she had made more hearts and wrote "I love you" in a few.

I asked her if she thought my heart scribble was silly and she said, "no, I thought it was really pretty."

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Green Monday

For Beyond Layers, we are doing 'color week'. I did not get to open the email in time to plan out some shots, so these are some shots from the weekend.

Our spring has come way too early here in Indiana. It is crazy, really. We have had 80+ degree days for the last 5 or so days . . . either we are going to pay for it in May with some snow or freezing cold weather or we are going to have a scorching hot summer. I don't relish either one. We basically skipped winter this year and I was not too happy about that either!

So these shots of dew, in my opinion, should not be . . . not in March. We should still have frost in the morning, but here they are and they are green.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Maple Syrup Festival in Medora, Indiana

We had a great time at the 'National' Maple Syrup Festival that we attended on March 11. This is held at Burton's Maplewood Farm in Medora, Indiana. We went last year after I saw a little (tiny) write-up about it in Better Homes and Garden. It was in the things to do in March section and they wrote about going to maple syrup festivals in March (early spring is when the sap is running). The magazine said their choice was this 'National' Maple Syrup Festival in Medora, Indiana. I was shocked and proud that a national, well renowned magazine included a reference to Indiana. I told my husband about it and we ended up going. It turned out to be really, really fun, but I have to say I'm not quite sure how they got the 'national' part in front of the name of the festival, but who knows how that happens. I have a feeling that no-one from Better Homes and Gardens has ever been there, but honestly, who cares . . . it was great.

To get to the festival, you park at a school in this tiny town of Medora in Southern Indiana (not far from Seymour). You buy a bracelet (all money goes to charity) and you board a school bus which takes you five miles up a what they called 'the knobs' to the farm. It is a beautiful and fun drive. When we went last year, we arrived rather late on the last day of the festival, which runs for the first two weekends in March each year.  We took the last bus available back down and a man who was sitting in the seat in front of me struck up a conversation with me. He asked how I liked the festival and what do you think could be done to improve it, etc. It turned out he was the owner of the whole operation. We had a really fascinating conversation about the festival and the farm and I told him I had come there because I had seen the write-up in Better Homes and Garden, but no matter that, I was not disappointed and I would be back again next year.

So this year, we did go back. We went on the second weekend in March again and the weather was fantastic for it (if unseasonable and a bit concerning since we have entirely skipped winter this year). We still had on long sleeve shirts, but probably would have been fine with short sleeve shirts (now a week later and it is HOT . . . like mid-July, not like mid-March!). We were smarter this time and went late on Saturday, stayed over night in Seymour (hotel stays are always exciting for the kids) and went to the festival earlier on Sunday. It was so fun--nice, low-key and interesting. For entertainment for the kids, there are reenactments of pioneer settlements, demonstrations of sugar and syrup making and the chance to make hand-dipped candles and self-turned rope. There was also a re-enactment of a shootout that we all enjoyed watching. No bounce houses or arcade games or video games . . . just good old fashioned fun. AND there's the pancakes, drowned in fresh, pure maple syrup . .. just so good!

(I did all the photos in black and white because of the challenge for that week from Beyond Layers to focus on black and white, but it seemed to work for this and it was fun).

Monday, March 12, 2012

More Whisper Techniques

Day 16 of Beyond Layers included new techniques to try to achieve a dreamy, hazy effect ('just a whisper').

I did try the techniques for this image and followed Kim's recipe, but then I pulled back on many of them--especially the ones that added too much haze--because I did not think they were quite right. I am not crazy about this image, either, but so be it. I am keeping this lesson all about practice and learning some more things to do in Photoshop.

The best technique I learned (I think) is to be able to use the smart selection tool. That looks like a nice short cut. It did not work on this image, though, and I'm assuming that is because there is not enough color contrast in the photograph.

In the end, I added two layers or Kim's 'sweet treat' texture . .. one with a multiply blend mode and one with a soft light blend mode and I'm leaving it at this.

The next lesson is already here today . . .

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


The other day Kim Klassen shared some words about resistance in her Beyond Layers class. This resistance is something we all experience, I think, but maybe in different ways.

For me, a lot of it comes from my own insecurities and hang ups and also from guilt.

There is not really an issue at the moment in not wanting to do the work . . . at least not this work--this work of creativity, photography, writing in my blog, editing in Photoshop: this is "work" I want to do --actually it is not even work to me (thus the quotation marks). It is not something I have to do; it is something I want to do, so I feel guilty, sometimes, that it is some sort of indulgence.I have a real job that I get paid to do and I need to fulfill those obligations. Also there are my kids and they have things they need to do as well and need some guidance along the way to meet their obligations and there is the housework: cooking, cleaning and, of course, the laundry (not sure why people--mostly women--always end up referring to the laundry. Perhaps there is some sort of symbolism there--all I know is it should not be as big a deal as it is, but I am nearly never on top of it. My guest bedroom always shows some 'state of laundry' and it frustrates me even though it should not matter.) So in my head, I know that my priorities are to meet my responsibilities at work and at home; in my heart, I want to be doing something else. Often, I can find a happy middle, but not always. It is when I do not approach my tasks systematically with a plan that I fall apart and I resist. Last night I started to go through the 30 plus applicants we have so far for our summer nanny position  (oh, how I hate summers!). My husband, trying to be helpful, was standing behind me and looking over my shoulder at all the cover letters and resumes that we got on, but I started to get really nervous, could not go on with the task, and ended up telling him, "I cannot do this this way, right now. I need to figure out, first, how I'm going to approach this."

This is not to say that I do not sometimes get lazy about photography and creativity as well . . . precisely because I do not have to do it, often makes me brush off certain aspects of doing the work. It is both a blessing and a curse that photography is nothing more than a hobby. There is nothing on the line; no job that I am going to lose because I did not do it correctly; no-one disappointed but myself. And if I give it up all together, no-one is left in the cold; it is just me in this alone. But, at the same time, I don't have that purpose. I don't have that feeling of being here for a reason. I don't have that feeling of having something that I have to do--and do well because that is just what I do--by a certain time (deadlines are pretty big motivators for me.). What am I doing this for? So I resist in that way, too.

And, then, there is that little voice in my head: 'who the hell do you think you are?'  I hear it anytime I think about trying to take this hobby to the next level -- even as a side thing.

Recently, at the urging of a Flickr friend/contact who is doing really well there, I signed up for the Society6 website. (I have to say that this website is pretty cool so far--not disappointed at all because it is fun). Part of me wants to let people on my Facebook page know that I have some of my 'work' on that website--some prints for sale, but I resist because I feel like marketing to friends is not appropriate somehow and, in reality, I guess I am just plain scared. 'Who the hell do you think you are?'

Society 6 recently chose one of my photos to be in their store .. . now this is not a big deal . . . I know that . . . they have many, many photos in their store, but still, it's flattering and I liked getting that congratulatory email stating that they chose my photo. In the email, they also urged sharing the 'news' with all my friends (well, of course they did--it's good business for them as well), but still, can I? I don't know. Resistance . . .

Kim left us with a prompt . . . just a word . . . whisper . . . the photo in this post is my result.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Black and White with a Touch of Color

Day 15 in Beyond Layers (which was last Thursday!) contained some instructions on bringing a touch of color back to a black and white image and a challenge to do so ourselves. I tried this with several photographs, but I did not like the results. I am not sure this is the best result either but I think it is an okay photograph. It is just not obvious that I did turn the photo to black and white and then brushed away the effect on the branch of pussy willows since the subject is all neutral colors anyway.

The original photo is shot at f/19, ISO 100, 100mm, with a 10 second exposure (obviously a tripod was also involved here). I had the bottle surrounded by white boards to keep it very simple

I processed it first by using a black and white adjustment layer and then brushing away the effect on the branch. Then I processed it with Rad Lab and added just a few 'stylets'--mostly to add some light and clarity and then to sharpen it slightly. I also added the sterling black and white stylet, but reduced that a bit. I lowered the opacity of the Rad Lab layer to about 85 % and then brushed the entire Rad Lab effect away from the branch some more with the brush tool.

Then I added a layer of Kim Klassen's Shine texture with the multiply blend mode at 51% opacity. I stretched it out so that the border was not showing for this on . . .only because I did not like that the tip of the branch went into the border. Then I changed the texture layer to black and white by clipping the adjustment to that layer only, so I have learned something new! This is what the image looked like before the adjustments in Photoshop:


There is no doubt that I like the altered image much more, but I think it may lack interest overall. I'll work on that . . . just good to know that I have another 'tool' to use in deciding to bring back a bit of color to a black and white image if I want to.

Part of this day's lesson also included deeper instructions on brushes. I haven't delved into that much at all yet. I have to admit part of me is perfectly content to just take brushes from others who are giving them away, but I do plan to make some of my own here soon.