Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Pity Party and then the Through "Another's" Lens Solution

Today I find myself having a pity party. I find myself worrying about too many things I cannot change for too many people. I find myself worrying about things I can change but that would change me forever in a way I fear would be for the worse. I am exhausted and depressed and whatever part of me felt like I was doing the right thing before is definitely questioning if I am the right person to be doing this. And then I think about alternatives. Imagine scenarios, mostly bad, so then I add guilt to my pity party. I no longer feel like my choice (or my life) is something to be proud of, a self-less act for an innocent. I now feel unsure and lost. 

I see quite a few of my good friends going through hurtful dilemmas of their own right now and suddenly the world I felt I was on top of a few months ago now seems to be spiraling out of control before my very eyes and I feel completely powerless to change anything about it. 

It makes me feel like that curtain blowing in a cool November breeze in an abandoned house. I don't know when to expect the next gust of trouble, or happiness. I don't know how long I'll have to recover before the next burst and will it be smaller or bigger? How much will it take to completely blow me away? Or will it first calm and I will return to the place I was before, quietly doing my job and not being subjected to such turmoil? I pray that I'm doing the right thing every day while feeling more and more in my heart that it's the wrong one. 

So here is the second installment of "Down Memory Lane" from January 1990. It gives me a new way to look at things, just like she always did when we visited. So maybe it will help some of you out there who are having problems and stresses that seem beyond your control. I know Metta would feel infinitely blessed if she helped even one of you. That was the person she was.

January 26, 1990
Down Memory Lane 
         By Metta Miller 

I think I will leave the beaten track of Memory Lane today, forgetting to remember, and be a bit philosophical. Hope you, the readers are not too bored.  

Our son sent a bulletin from Chaplin Service, Veterans Center, Temple, Texas. I like a certain extent. It is: Yesterday-Today-Tomorrow. 

"There are two days in every week about which we should not worry, two days which should be kept from fear and apprehension. One of these days is yesterday, yesterday has passed forever beyond our control. All the money in the world cannot bring back yesterday. We cannot undo a single act we performed. We cannot erase a single word we said. Yesterday is gone beyond recall.  

The other day we should not worry about it tomorrow, with its possible adversities, its burdens, its large promise and perhaps its poor performance. Tomorrow is also beyond our immediate control. Tomorrow's sun will rise, either in splendor or behind a mask of clouds, but it will rise. Until it does, we have no stake in tomorrow, for it is as yet unborn. 

This leaves only one day...Today. Anyone can fight the battles of just one day. It is only when you and I add the burdens of those two eternities, yesterday and tomorrow, that we break down. It is not the experience of today that drives us mad. It is the remorse or bitterness for something which happened yesterday or the dread of what tomorrow may bring. Let us therefore do our best to live but one day at a time.  

Now my philosophy is, while we cannot change yesterday, we can tell that older, or neglected person we ignored yesterday that we love them, Today (and mean it),  perhaps erasing part, or all of the hurt. We cannot erase the careless, thoughtless words of yesterday, but we can say, "I am sorry" TODAY. (Not prefaced by, "if I have said or done", just "I am sorry") Today we can repay a kindness we received in our yesterday, by being kind to others TODAY. 

Today we can forget the hurts of yesterday by remembering the good times, the fun times of Yesterday.  

My memories, Down Memory Lane, the pathway of Yesterdays, has made me what I am today, Good, Bad or Indifferent.  

We came to our Today by walking the pathway laid for us Yesterday, whether rocky or smooth, by our forefathers. I feel it is my responsibility to help make TOMORROW better for my thirty plus great grandchildren and three great grandchildren by striving to fill each new day with pleasant memories as stepping stones to their TOMORROW. 

I cannot turn back time or control the future, as the writer states, but I can learn from Yesterday's mistakes, using what I have learned, to pattern a better Tomorrow.  

Today is mine to make a lovely memory for tomorrow's Yesterday, to be cherished in the future. Tomorrow will be influenced by the way I live and think, and yes, by the way I speak TODAY. Therefore I ask God to control my tongue, TODAY. 

May your smile brighten someone's life TODAY to be remembered in all their Tomorrows.  

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Through "Another's" Lens- "Down Memory Lane" by Metta Miller (The Premiere Post on This Blog)

Through "Another's" Lens Preface:

I decided a while back to embark upon a project journey that interested me very much. Long years ago, on several separate occasions of working for Home Health through the Nocona General Hospital  Home Health in Nocona, Texas, I was fortunate enough to have the same patient each time I worked. Not to say she was my only patient. We had many ranging from the low days of maybe 60 to the high days of maybe 120, but this lady won a space in my heart that no one else ever had and to this day hasn't. 
I'm not sure how old she was when I began seeing her. She was born 8-8-14 and I began working in the home health care system in 1997 or 1998. Time already gets away from me. I could do the math but I don't want to. I'll just say she was a tiny sweet little white haired lady with the most infectious smile and eyes that glimmered with mischief even though she was legally blind. 
When I say tiny, I mean tiny. Thanks to osteoporosis, her height had diminished through the years. I'm not sure where she started, but she, to my estimate, stood about 4 feet 10 inches. Her shoulders were frozen, meaning she could not lift anything higher than shoulder height. Her closets all had special hangers that were popular back then for "space saving" but really they just hung really low in her closet so she could reach to hang up her things.
She was one of the most amazing people I have ever met in my life. I don't bestow that title on just anyone. Even now, after she's been gone close to ten years, I still think of her often, especially in times of strife or emotional turmoil and wonder what her "take" would have been. I wonder this because I never saw her experience any situation that she didn't turn it all around and find the silver lining despite all the storm clouds. 
My little hero...or would that be heroine...wrote an article for the Saint Jo Tribune for many years. I don't know how many, though I intend to find out no matter how long it takes. I want a copy of every single column she wrote. For myself, I shall make it into a book or an ebook. I am not sure yet. I just want it because I miss her and her stories and I am always inspired after reading one. I would like to pass them on to my children and my grandchildren for a few reasons. I want them to see what it is like to be truly selfless. I want them to read about what life was like back in her day. And I want more than anything, not that I really believe it is possible, for them to learn to find that silver lining like she always did. 
So I checked with the Bowie Public Library because they have an amazing genealogy/ local history section that people travel from all over to visit. (Did I mention I once worked there for about 8 months til I was wrongfully terminated by an insane librarian? I was found by a panel to have been wrongfully terminated but the city never gave me my job back or any compensation for that.) The nice young lady asked if I had inquired of the Saint Jo Public Library. Honestly, I didn't even know they had one. So I came home and called and the nice man I spoke to, Terry, told me that they did have copies of all the papers BUT they were in the back in boxes. He said I was more than welcome to come and look and do whatever I needed to do. 
I went that day and to the surprise of both of us several years were actually "bound". I had no idea where to start. So 1990 was the first bound one I saw. I didn't even know if she was writing then, so I grabbed it and we took it to the table and began to look. And sure enough. There it was. My first "Down Memory Lane" by Metta Miller.
I had this bright idea about some cool trick my Microsoft One Note was supposed to do which was to take a picture and pull the text from it. Ha! Nothing like that ever works for me but I did use my Microsoft Surface back facing camera to take pics of each of the columns that I could find. I was so excited to be finding so many. 
I went back the next day started in on 1992. I can't FIND them, but I know I had a good six months worth, but no worries. They've been there this long. I will get back over there to get them. 
Meanwhile...I pulled up the picture on one side of my screen and One Note or Ever Note on the other side and I read and typed them out. It's quite possible that I enjoyed doing them more this way. Because that way I was reading and absorbing them and remembering her eyes and her smile and her unflinching optimism in the face of all obstacles. I found myself learning so much about her that I didn't know and so wished I could go back in time to our many conversations during my nursing visits and ask her more.
I got to the point that I would schedule her visit at lunch time and I would order my lunch from somewhere and eat it with her at her kitchen table. She was always so filled with at the least acts of kindness. My act of eating with her made her very happy she said. She said she always ate more when she had someone to visit with as she ate. And I understand that because I don't like to eat alone either. 

So without any further adieu... I will begin throwing in one of her columns here and there in my blog. If I happen to have a picture that I feel like goes along with her story, maybe I'll post it but mostly I will post the picture of her column from the paper. I took the liberty of spelling a few things correctly. Mostly she was an excellent speller, but I didn't change the words at all. 

January 12, 1990

Down Memory Lane
         by Metta Miller

When I was young and in my prime, I welcomed winter time.
Now, I am old with creaky knees and have to enjoy the season in
Before the era of school buses, school was never closed on account
of the weather, especially winter weather. Why should they have
closed the schools, then everyone lived in walking distance, and the
State did not pay on the basis of how many times a pupil attended
Classes. If there was no school the kids were out in the snow anyway.
Besides, this was the only time some children who lived two or three miles
Out of town got to come to school.
On pretty days these children had to work on the farm. On snowy or rainy days,
When they could not plow, hoe or pick cotton, they walked to town to learn the
Three "R's". Really, I think those were the ones who studied the hardest, for most
Of them knew they would not be able to complete high school and wanted to know
How to read, write and add their future days earnings.
No lunchroom then. Every one, except those who lived near the school, took their
Lunch and on bad days (the only time I took my lunch) we ate at our desks. I used to
Envy the "upper crust" kids. They brought their lunches in shiny lunch pails, which held
Such goodies as sandwiches made from store bought bread. My lunches were toted to
School in a small, beat-up syrup bucket. (It was beat -up because I hit my brother over
The head with it.) It held biscuits and home cured ham or scrambled eggs. Instead of
Fresh fruit, I had a small jar of canned fruit, or maybe berry cobbler. Little did I realize
Then that I had the better lunch. Not as eye appealing, but better for me, and it
Was certainly packed with as much love as could be crammed in a bucket.

Then I thought nothing of the fact that as the fruit ripened Dad would put a big box in the
Little, used to be red but rusty now, wagon and take all the kids too little to work to a local
Orchard to pick up the wind falls. If Mama was not washing for someone that day she went
Along. We were forbidden, by my parents, to pick any fruit from the trees, that fruit was
For sale, the windfalls were free. I really think Mama enjoyed those days, they got her
Away from the wash tub. Mom would work far into the night canning the days gleanings.
Dad and each child big enough to handle a knife was put to work peeling. Mom and Dad
Liked Indian and cowboy stories or sometimes they would tell of how things were around
Callisburg when they were young. This is where I got my small jar of fruit in my lunch
Bucket. I did not find this way of life unusual, for it was our way of life. It was up to each of
Us to improve on it, if possible. Above all, no matter what our station in life we were to be
Trustworthy, always keep our word and help others.

In fact, I think, "Help Somebody Today" was not just a song but our parents slogan which they
Practiced daily.

The love instilled in me by my parents go out to all of you, wherever you are. God loves you and
I do, too.

Friday, November 20, 2015

There's Luck and Then There's God's Grace

As you will all see soon enough (my faithful 4 I am about to branch this blog out into not JUST photography, but a few other things as well. I have a project in "time travel" that I'm working on which I think I will incorporate into this blog and every now and then I have just a regular thought that I want to blog about but I don't really want to manage 52 blogs, so I figure just throw it all into one. Through My Lens can mean many for instance "the way I see things" be it with a camera or without. My conscious thought, if you will.

Tonight, we took my sweet Emma home to stay with her parents for a week to 10 days. We took her late because we had things to do and then we stopped off to feed her pizza (what was I thinking????) at Cici's, so it was later than usual coming back from Ft. Worth.

In my whole life, I've never hit a deer. I've heard about it my whole life. I have felt woefully bad for all the dead deer I see on the highways and I've seen some horrific pictures, courtesy of the internet, of deer accidents. I've lamented the plight of the deer and, at times, hated hunters (until I started dating one) because of the poor innocent deer who are out minding their own business and get blasted. (BTW Chicken Fried Backstrap is some of the best eating there is if you have a hunter who cleans his deer properly and processes it himself as if it were a loving act of kindness. )

So, for those of you who are not aware, on Sept 26, 2015, I bought my "dream car". It's a 2011 Camaro 2LT Convertible. Black on black. Gorgeous. Low mileage. Turns out I know the chick who owned it before me and she's a responsible driver and "grandma" like me so this car has been babied. But she's beautiful. I love her. A lot. The other night, at the promise of a hail storm, I stayed up til the storm was almost here and then left my home at 2 am to go park under the covered parking at the bank because I didn't want her to sustain any hail damage. I LOVE this car.

Tonight, as we are making our way home at a leisurely 85 miles an hour or so...give or take 5mph... I'm in the passenger seat Facebooking and my boyfriend begins to ask me a question. We never figured out what he was going to ask because out of the darkness jumped a huge deer. He saw it only milliseconds before it slammed into the side of the car. We didn't hit IT. IT hit US! And we pulled to the side and drove another 100 yards or so into the roadside park and drove to a spot under the lights. I got out, fully expecting to see half my car gone, blood everywhere. I steeled myself, readied my anger to start a cursefest because that fixes everything dontchyaknow?

And as we turned on cell phone flash lights and peered down the side of my precious baby.....we saw only the slightest disruption of dirt from about where the door opens down the side to the back. No blood. No dents. No mangled fiberglass or anything indicating we'd just hit a fairly large animal at that high rate of speed. Both of us were shaking. He, probably because he feared I'd kill him because he hit something with my car and me just because of the sheer chaos of it. Today had been a horrible day and this was just the topper.

We got back in and rode in silence for a while. He apologized. Said he was sorry he didn't see it sooner. Well had he not seen it as soon as he did, we'd have hit it with the front of the car and it likely would have plowed through the windshield and come through the car. I assured him I was not mad. I was grateful he swerved when he did and that no more damage was done.

As I said, I have been working on a project, kind of a blog from the time before blogging that a patient of mine used to do. It was a column in her local newspaper and she did it weekly for many years. Recently, after many years of wanting to scout them out and find them, I made my way over to the library in her small town, after calling and speaking to their kind library fella, and I began going through the archives that were bound. I've only got a couple of years and I was going to try to OCR them with OneNote but apparently that works for everyone but me, so I've been looking at the photos I took and typing them out one by one into both OneNote and EverNote.

At any rate, having been working on this project and knowing her mindset when she wrote, I saw this "incident" tonight in a different light. I see what could have been. I see how lucky we were. I see how God blessed us with just a wake up call rather than a death sentence. I am grateful for so many things. Grateful Emma was not with us, grateful the deer didn't come through the car and kill us both, grateful it didn't do ANY damage to my new car. Just GRATEFUL that God was watching over us both as we traveled the highway home.

As I mentioned, today had been a boohoo, poor me kinda day. For a multitude of reasons which I won't get into here or anywhere else. There are a number of things at work in my mind and in my life. And today was a day that I let the devil win and hurt my heart and make me sad and make me angry about my life and all the things that I'd done that hadn't been appreciated and then, in one instant, on the way home on the start of my "vacation", God said "wake up! Be appreciative of what you have." Not material goods. Nothing superficial like that. I have people who love me. I have people who call me friend. I have people who look forward to seeing me. I have the love of little children and giant men. And a few in between those extremes. I have a roof over my head. I have more food than I can eat in a year in my home. I am blessed. And even though I still have my moments of boohoo why is this happening to me, I know very well that God has blessed me abundantly and the more love I put out into the world doing good deeds and helping others, the more love He puts back upon me. I don't know how to describe it any better than that. I have done things recently that the old me, the skeptical me, would have never done. Not for recognition, like some do, which is why I won't post the details here or facebook or anywhere else, but because I feel like God called me to do it. I never understood before what that meant when someone would say "God called me to give this or do that." I never got what it meant. But now I do.

God asks that we have the faith of a mustard seed. Now the science part of me says no mountain is going to move because I tell it to, but I believe it means that if we believe in that which we cannot see, if we have FAITH in God, then He will provide for us and keep us safe. I've been living in Faith for a few years now and I have to say, it's a good feeling knowing God will take care of me. I don't worry any more. I am content from day to day knowing God has my back.

So...I feel bad for the deer. But I am grateful for this message. Thank you, God, for having my back.

This is me and my baby the day I bought it. I'll add a post deer hit pic tomorrow when there's light.

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Unattainable Fortress

There's a place here in North Texas that every explorer longs to visit. Well, actually there are two. One of them, while probably the greater of the two, is occasionally attainable. You just have to be there on the right day at the right time with equipment ready and you just might get in. And then...there is the unattainable. The one about which they say "don't even bring it up." "You know it's not gonna happen." "It's impossible." "People still live there." One guy gets down right angry when it's brought up.
But every so often...about once a year...I go on a drive by just to check it out and shoot some more outside of the fence pics.
So a couple of days ago, after dropping Emma off at home, I decided to detour through the big city of Decatur and take a drive on up that dead end road. Of course, it was the same as always, although they had been tree trimming so there was a pile of brush in an undesirable spot. But here is my shot for this year. I loved this processing on it. Thought it made it look more haunting. And one day my friends, I'll get in. I may have to pay someone but I'll get in.

Until we meet again.....

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Finding Inspiration (Early November)

At this time of year, when the colors finish changing and all the leaves fall to the ground and turn that dismal brown that hurts the eyes and wounds the heart, it gets particularly hard for me to find inspiration. I have a grand dislike for cold weather. I am bored with barren trees, and it is a complete rarity in this area to have a snow day worthy of trying to get some shots. And I lose my inspiration.

Many people turn to indoor photography but my home is most definitely not amenable to that sort of thing. My home is old, falling down, built in a time when it was a dream come true for my mother but kind of a big ol' nightmare for me. So what to do?

Sometimes I dig through the hundreds of thousands (you think I'm kidding, don't you?) of images I have stored from the past say 15 years on external media, and try to "re-see" all of them with my new older eyes. And sometimes that yields some awesome results. And sometimes I come away with nothing.

Luckily, however, this week in North Texas, not every tree has lost it's leaves and I happened to think of a local "treasure" with a bad rep, but with some interesting geography.

Cougar Mound, as we've always called it, or "Cougar Mountain"  has always had a rather sordid history in the local gossip mill. Back in the 1980's when I was a high schooler, it was a make out point. At some point after that, it was rumored that the "huge" gay community of Bowie (no, as far as I know there's not a huge gay community here but feel free to correct me if you have concrete evidence) went up there to have privacy and that there was so much fear over the AIDS epidemic etc that some of the townspeople were going up there and nailing baggies filled with condoms to trees in hopes that they could provide safer sex for those who were determined to do "that".

All those rumors aside, Cougar Mound has it's charms. It has a road cut through it. A "Scenic Overlook" which overlooks nothing. On either side of said road, but mostly the side between the road and HWY 287, there are very many GIANT rocks. Rocks that are 20 or 30 feet tall. More like 20 or 2 or 3 tens stacked up but they're just very interesting. And at this time of year, very mossy.

I took only my 50mm prime because I was trying to challenge myself, so the pics won't be as fantabulously wonderful as they might have been otherwise. LOL. I am sooo kidding. 

Even still you cannot get a fix on how big these things are. This one I thought had some interesting textures. So many different colors on one rock. Amazed me.

I did find a "Dinosaur Tree". And I thought the colors around it were pretty...aside from the dead brush of course.

This was one of the more accessible trails. I still didn't take it. Had my cowboy boots but not my gun so I opted out of snake wrestling OR WORSE.

I found a lone ranger yellow leaf amongst a sea of green and a few browns.

I found a clothesline of changing colored leaves. Or least that's how it appears to me.

I found a view, of sorts, from the summit. 

And I found the moon amongst the clouds on the way back to my car.

Most of us photographers, amateur, pro and in between, tend to think we have to leave home and go on a trip away from what we see every day to find something to photograph. But that's not really true. There is something around every corner, down every street, beyond the next bend in the road that may be just what you are looking for.

We can't all be the Trey Ractliff's of the world, getting paid to travel the globe and take pics of amazing things that most of us will never see. What we can be is ourselves. We can shut our eyes for a few moments. Clear our minds. Open our eyes once more, grab our camera and step outside our front door.

If you still can't find anything and want to bang your head on a wall, join a photo challenge. There are always a million of those around. Numbers, Letters, Colors, Textures.

Keep looking...keep shooting and if all else fails, dig out the external HD and find something old to make new again.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Enhanced... a little or a lot...which is best?

That question is bugging me quite a bit lately as I'm following several groups that are all about Photoshop composites which are freaking amazing. I begin to look at my boring humdrum images and think "wonder if I should be doing composites and crazy things to these to make them unique?"

Then I review the process in my head of everything I already do. I know there are a bunch of purists out there who tell you that every single image they import from their camera is perfect. I call bullshit. There are a few folks out there who have the talent combined with the amount of money it takes to buy equipment that will put out a sharp, bright, non noisy image right out of the camera. I'll buy that. But I don't think there are nearly as many as  you would think.

I've had a number of cameras in my life and each one I thought was the best one ever with no flaws and it was just me who couldn't put out a good image if it saved my life, but then I realized there is a reason that we have all those millions of editing programs. There's a reason I "rent" the Adobe CC Suite every month. Because no matter how great my image is out of the camera, it always needs a little polish. It just depends on how much polish I want to put on it and how much time I want to spend polishing it. Is it a great image??? Will it make people stop in their tracks and gasp in amazement? Nah. None of my images do that because I'm really not planning that when I take them. Most of my images are documentary images. Trips I take. Abandonments I explore. Things I see that I need to remember. Then there are the few paid gigs I get to make images that will make other people smile and sigh when they remember those moments.

I'm not yet an artist. Like a photoshop fantastic artist. I like my images. Then I bring them into Lightroom or Photoshop and I like them more. Then I tease out the details and apply some filters. And pretty soon I'm actually falling in love with some of them.

We recently went to Turner Falls in Davis, Oklahoma. It's a beautiful place! I can't believe I've never been there (well I was partially there once but didn't pay to go in...and it seemed different 20 some odd years ago). It's the "winter" season there now meaning half price and less tourists. No one trying to swim in the water beneath the falls. I kinda want to go back this weekend and next weekend and every weekend until I'm bored and have seen every inch of that park but with a 2.5 year old trach baby in tow, it has to be fair weather and no wind so I go through and edit my pics. Try to make them interesting. Different. Compelling.

I'm not getting there but here is the one I worked on for 30 minutes this afternoon. I love reflection shots. Trees, or clouds or whatever, but I love reflections on the surface of water. So, because I do not understand HTML and making things go to their proper places, the following are my edits.
The first was the sooc (straight out of camera) shot made smaller for the purpose of decency.
The second is the cropped image, getting rid of the blown sky and the chromatic aberrations that even lightroom wouldn't remove completely. Fiddled with the sliders and dehazed a bit.
The 3rd was the image after importing to Photoshop and adding a Nik Color Efex filter or ten.
The 4th was the same image by adding a few more tweaks to be more autumn like.

So....which one is better? Or do they all just suck? I'd like to know. Feedback welcome. Unnecessary rude criticism NOT welcomed ever on my images or anyone elses.

SOOC image. Chromatic abberation, blown sky, just blah. 

Cropped and edited in Lightroom to bring out the colors and contrast. 

Exported to Photoshop, enhanced with Nik Color Efex
Still in Photoshop Nik Color Efex made more dismal, dark and halloweenish.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

More editing examples... Go back young man!!!

I keep saying over and over it's all about the editing. Yes yes yes, you should make the picture as fantastic as you can IN camera so you don't have to worry about editing later on, however lets just say for the sake of argument that you obtained entry into a tightly guarded urbex treasure and you only had ....say...2 hours to cover 14 floors plus a basement and a bell tower. Well might be hurried. Add to that the fact that there's no electricity and perhaps you might or might not have slid through a grate into a basement window into pure darkness. Well, in instances such as these you might not exactly be having time to adjust your camera for every nuance of lighting because in addition to covering a good 425 rooms (if you hit them all) plus a spa and various other things like a ballroom and a bowling alley and blah blah blah...well you just don't have time to fiddle with settings all day. You shoot what you can in the time you have and then go through it all when you get home.

I went through this place close to two years ago. Tonight, because I was looking for something specific for a photo challenge, I came back to this gallery and saw all the items I had not worked up. And some that I had worked up that were not exactly fantastic. Mainly because I've learned a ton of new editing techniques since then.

So this one really caught my eye. I knew where it was, more or less, in the building and that it was in one of my favorite locales.

So I applied my "new knowledge" to editing it. Now it still sucks...don't get me wrong. But I'm just showing you what a difference five minutes in post can make. This is the before shot.

Can't really tell much about it can ya? Just a couple of dirty windows and not really any detail anywhere.

Same photo after 5 minutes in post processing. Not a great photo still but you can see the detail on the wall, you can see the view out the windows and you can see the detail in the ceiling which is freaking awesome. I totally love that ceiling. 

Anyway, this is just another example of how taking a crappy image into Lightroom and applying a few standard tweaks can render an image much more viewable. I still wouldn't think of winning a prize with it, but I can certainly tell more about it. 

I'll work on it more tomorrow and make it a masterpiece and then post that so you can see what even more time with a junky image can do. 

Ten points to anyone who can tell me where it is and why I love it. GO!!!

Friday, September 4, 2015

Black and White

"Doesn't matter if you're black or white."~ Michael Jackson

So this won't really be an informative post, not that anyone reads my posts for information about photography. Honestly, I'm not sure why anyone does read them but statistics show that some of you do so thank ya for that.

This post is basically going to be a conversation with myself about my general dislike for black and white imagery. Well, that's already not true. It's not that I don't like black and white images. I've seen a few in my time that were so breathtakingly beautiful that I never even for a second thought "Wow, wonder what this would look like in color...", but as a stark reality in my life, most of the time that is exactly what I think when I see a beautiful landscape in black and white. So maybe it's just landscapes that I hate to see in black and white.

One of the most dramatic pictures I've ever seen in my life was shot by a photographer who was once in a group I frequented called the "Texas Photo Forum" or "TPF" for short. I don't recall his real name. Even though I've now forgotten the name of his company as well, the pic he posted was one meant for contemplation and to stir emotions. It was in black and white. A man sitting on some dark wood steps, perhaps going up to a garage apartment or something. He was holding a shiny pistol loosely in one hand just kinda dangling it there near his feet with the other hand against his forehead as if he were fighting back the demons inside telling him to put an end to it all. Had that image been in color there is no way it would have had that dramatic impact that it had.

Portraits and architecture tend to be the only things that I enjoy in black and white. I joined a Black and White photo challenge recently to challenge myself to find decent images that I think would look good in black and white or to actually find a place to go and shoot something specifically in black and white but then I would never ever do that because ...."I wonder what that would look like in color."

So I picked a couple of shots and worked them up as black and white images and I almost like a couple of them. But ...I like them better in color. LOL

So that being said...

this was one of my submissions. 

It's ok. It's growing on me. Below is the same shot in color. I almost like the BW better in this shot. So maybe the BW movement is growing on me. Heck I don't know. 

The other I chose was one that seemed particularly boring in color so I thought...ehhh what the hell. 

It's actually gotten more votes than the other. Apparently, along with my inability to be able to draw and visualize how to paint a painting, I can't guess what will appeal to the masses. But hey...that's what makes us all who we are. Different people. 

Anyway that's my crazy black and white rant. As I said, it's growing on me in certain circumstances. 

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Let's Talk About Editing - Cell Phone Photography & Snapseed

Editing, Post Processing, Workflow

These are all terms that you've no doubt seen if you are thinking of getting into photography or already dabbling in photography. But if you are indeed "new" to photography you may not know what this means or what you need to do or how to even get started with it. And you've probably seen some smug jerk somewhere saying "blah, blah blah the photograph should be exceptional straight out of the camera. You should not have to do anything but minor tweaks to get the look you want. Everything should be done before the shutter snap. blah blah blah." I like to call these people purists. There's another word I use for them but I'm trying to make this blog user friendly for all ages. 

There are many many many editing/ post processing programs out there today. And much depends on how you're taking your photos and where you plan to edit them. I know some people who ONLY take cell phone pictures. Before you scoff too hard at that, let me remind you that some of the cell phones out now days have capabilities that rival "real live cameras". Currently, my cell phone is a Samsung Galaxy Note 4 with a 16 megapixel resolution.That's not too shabby people. And I can tell you that in low light, it takes fantastic pictures easier and with less noise than my big ol' brand new Canon EOS 70D. So with that being said, if you are a cell phone shooter, you can still take fantastic pics but in my opinion they are just not complete until they've been fine tuned. 

I use Snapseed on my cell phone. There's also a built in editor and downloadable filters but to me, for many years now, Snapseed has given the most bang for the buck. Of course, now it's free so that's even better. It used to be a $5.00 app in the IOS store. I also used it exclusively on my iPad until Adobe Lightroom Mobile became available as part of the Adobe Creative Cloud subscription. Recently, Adobe also saw fit to make an android counterpart as well so now you can use Lightroom Mobile on IOS or Android. Yippee! But I will cover all of that Lightroom business in a later post since it costs money and I'm talking about FREE editors. 

Snapseed offers you a vast amount of controls and tweaks from brightness, contrast, saturation, ambiance, warmth, shadows, highlights. Cropping can be done with free aspect ratio or certain presets for instagram etc. Vignettes may be added, colors modified. There are a ton of things you can do with your cell phone snaps to make them fantastic. 

This is my before shot. It's ok. Nothing to write home about. 
 This my after shot. Much nicer. 

All processing was done in Snapseed in less than 5 minutes for demonstration purposes. 

BTW if you like Bloody Mary's I suggest you head on up to Winstar Casino in Thackerville, Ok. and have one in the Terrace Cafe'. I'm totally addicted now. 

Let's Talk About Editing

Let's talk about editing. 
Sometimes in our excitement to get out and shoot, we can't always frame a shot the way we want. In my case, I saw this Longhorn by the side of the road so I slammed on the brakes, pulled over, got out my camera, switched lenses, put the cap where I wouldn't lose it, jumped out of the car and by this time, the Longhorn was beginning to notice this was not average behavior.He started moving so I hastily fired a few shots. And then he turned his butt to me. How rude! So I got home and the shot on the left was the best of him but if you'll notice, he had a sunflower stalk over his horn, one above his head, one in the middle of his back and it looked like a jungle. I could have said it wasn't worth the time and chucked it but I like this rude animal and I wanted his picture. So I recomposed. Removed the things I hated which took wayyy longer than it would for a pro and now, it's still not a great shot, but it's much better than it was. The moral of the story is this. Don't give up just because it didn't look perfect right out of the camera. Ideally, we would all love that but only the best pros get that option most of the time. Take it into your editing program. I must say at this time that if you are not shooting RAW or RAW+JPEG then this won't really help you nearly as much. You should always shoot in RAW. (And no that doesn't mean get naked and go outside.) But RAW allows you to completely change lighting, exposure, clarity, vibrance, basically everything after the shot in post editing. JPEGS do NOT. Yeah they give you the feeling you can change some things but really you can't.
So ...again...moral of the story is "Don't give up on a bad shot. Some are beyond hope but most can be given a second chance just with a little creative post processing."