Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Beach and Texture Tuesday

Just back from a week at the beach and am totally behind in everything, but I did want to jump back in and post a shot for Kim Klassen's Texture Tuesday today. This shot of  my son and grandson was edited in LR and then taken into Photoshop where I applied Kim's new Quiet texture. The word art is by Ali Edwards. I'm thinking I may have to do a canvas for my grandson's bedroom of this. Thanks for stopping in. I always love having visitors!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Friday Finds Finally

After one of my usual loooong blogging breaks, I just had to share today on Kim Klassen's Friday Finds.  I feel like I hit the jackpot! I have been looking for and creating backgrounds for my still life shots for Kim's Be Still 52 class. I've painted a watercolor background as well as a white tray to use as a backdrop. You can read my post about that over at my collaborative blog Focusing on Life. But I have been searching for some old wood or an old fence and have been unsuccessful so far.

However, in the Be Still Lounge I came across a post about creating a distressed wood background. You can read it here if you're interested. I purchased all the supplies (for a total of less than $40) and spent the morning painting. I won't go into the details of how I created this because I followed the exact instructions on the website, but I do have to say that it was easy, peasy!  One side are these beautiful aqua tones and the other side is a distressed white. You will be seeing a lot of these backgrounds in my photos in the future!

Then yesterday I went to the salvage shop called Sweet Salvage to see if I could find any interesting props. They are only open one weekend a month (Th-Sun) and it's a good thing or I would go broke! Always fun things to find there.  I found this little bowl that so reminded me of Kim that I just had to have it. Little did I know when I bought it that it was going to go so perfectly with my new aqua board background and these apricots that I grabbed at the market yesterday. Kismet, I tell you!

So those are my finds for this week. If you haven't checked out Kim's Friday Finds, do yourself a favor and  head  over there. Lots of fun and inspiration to be found!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

App Happy Wednesday Week 11

Playing along with Barb Brookbank and her App Happy Wednesday today.  If you haven't visited, it's a great resource for finding new apps to play with.

I recently discovered this fabulous iPhone photography tutorial on a blog called The Art of Digital Photo Painting and couldn’t wait to give it a try.  Many of the apps used were ones I already had but hadn’t been using, mostly because I hadn’t taken the time to learn how to use them correctly.  But this looked like a lot of fun, so I decided to give it a try.

Since she used a photo taken in Venice, Italy, I decided the best way to follow along and know that I was doing it right was to use a similar photo. I pulled out an old (2003) photo taken with my big camera on a trip to Italy and decided to use that. Although the photo wasn’t taken with my phone, all the editing was done on my iPad.

Here is the original photo:

I followed the tutorial exactly, step by step, and I do admit that it took a while to edit this shot because I was feeling my way with each app but I learned a lot of what each app is capable of doing along the way and I know that I will be using them again.

The only thing I did beyond the tutorial was to take my image into Squareready to add the drop shadow, making it look like a painting hanging on the wall.

Here is the final edited version:


The second time I went through the tutorial, things came a bit easier and I’m sure before long I’ll be using all of these apps and doing the edits much quicker, so if you try this, don’t get discouraged. It is well worth the effort. Obviously you don't have to use a photo taken in Venice! I'm looking forward to trying this with a lot of different styles of photos. Be sure to let me know if you try it and share your results. I’d love to see them!


Friday, May 23, 2014

Friday Finds -- Peonies, a Bottle and Classes to Take

With the summer heat already upon us, getting out and shooting becomes more and more of an effort. It is like winter in the rest of the country -- the weather just keeps you indoors. So I thought that Kim Klassen's Be Still 52 class would be perfect for me. I have always admired her still life photography and the chance to learn from the master was impossible to resist. The photo above was my first week's submission and I have to admit I really enjoyed playing with just a bottle that I picked up at Ross and one of my peonies from Trader Joe's.  I set up a couple of pieces of white foam core on a chair (I don't have any cute little peeling-paint chairs like Kim does!) and I played. This shot was actually taken and processed with my iPhone.

This week's assignment in Kim's class was all about breathing, taking the time to just be still and breathe. My peonies came to the rescue again as a photographic subject and I played with this shot (again taken on the white foam core) using Kim's True Grit LR preset and her Rainy Day texture. I felt it needed more so I then applied Kim's Daisy texture at soft light as well as her Silence texture at multiply. The quote is one I have always loved from Oprah Winfrey. As far as applying textures and editing, I don't know how you ever know when you're done! So many fun things to try. But this exercise accomplished the desired effect -- making me slow down, focus, breathe and be totally in the moment of capturing beauty.

I am also taking Kim Manley Ort's class called Keeping it Simple which I thought would be a good complement to the Be Still class.  This is another peony shot taken at the same time but with no processing. We are learning about the difference between "simplicity" and "minimalism" this week. See how it is dovetailing the Be Still class?

Then, of course, I had to give it a try with my iPhone camera. I mean, you have to take advantage  of having peonies while they last!

No processing on this, just the addition of the text.

So there you have it -- my Friday finds were a bunch of peonies from Trader Joe's, a great (and cheap!) bottle from Ross, and two classes that are making me very happy!

Kim Klassen dot Com

Monday, May 19, 2014

A Virtual Blog Tour

Recently my friend Dotti Rinehart, who contributes to the Focusing on Life blog along with me, told me about a Virtual Blog Tour that she was doing and thought I might be interested in playing along.  She knew that I had recently begun posting to my blog again and thought this might be a way to jumpstart my blog and connect with other bloggers.  That sounded like just what I needed to get moving and gladly accepted her invitation. First of all, pop over to Dotti’s blog Camper and read her answers to these questions and see who else she invited to play and then come back here to read mine. See how this works?

All those who are participating are answering the same four questions, so here are mine: 

1. What am I working on?

I am always working on my photography skills – taking classes/workshops, talking to other photographers and shooting, shooting, shooting. The one thing that seems to improve my photography the most is shooting every day. If I let any amount of time go by without picking up my camera, then I tend to let it sit and then more time passes. You get the picture! I NEED to be shooting all the time. Sometimes it is just my morning cup of coffee, but how can I pose it, light it, frame it? I am currently enrolled in Kim Klassen’s new class Be Still 52 which just started last week and Kim Manley Ort’s class called Keeping it Simple which will start this week. Don’t those sound like the perfect combination? Taking classes is always something that gets me excited about getting my camera out and shooting. With the heat of the Arizona summer about to hit, classes about still life and keeping things simple sounded like the perfect antidote. 

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I have always wished I had a “style”, one recognizable as mine to the people who view my work.  I’m still not convinced I have it but other people tell me they can pick my photos out of a group so I guess I am developing one whether I can really see it or not. I love color. I gravitate toward color and I love flowers and nature. Most of all, I love macro, getting up close and personal as possible with my subject. I love that I see things that a lot of other people will walk right past. Sometimes I tend to miss the big picture because of it (grin) but I love the tiny details of things. 

And as you can tell from the photos in this post, I love introducing people to the beauty of the Arizona desert.

3. Why do I write/create what I do?

I didn’t start out to be a blogger. In fact, I am an on again, off again blogger. I first started blogging so my mother, who moved out of town, could read what was going on in my life. But then she lost computer access and I quit blogging. I would try to pick it up again from time to time, but after a few posts I would stall, and if you’re here reading this, that will be readily evident. I’m not saying that won’t happen again but over the last few years since starting the collaborative blog Focusing on Life, I have been following more and more blogs of other people and I want to be in that circle, sharing my photography, my thoughts and my life with others and sharing theirs.

4. How does your writing/creative process work?

I am usually inspired to post to my blog by the photos I take and want to share. I don’t think ahead of time about exactly what I want to say but just let the words flow as I look at the photos. But as I get into the writing part, sometimes things go in a totally different direction and I end up writing about something other than the photos!  I guess the words were there all along and just needed me to sit down at my computer and start writing for them to come out. 

And so, with all that said, I would like to introduce you to these two wonderful bloggers so that they can continue the Virtual Blog Tour next Monday on their blogs.

I recently met Melinda Anderson after she moved to a nearby Arizona town. After she retired from 30 some years of teaching first grade in the San Francisco Bay Area, Melinda bought her first DSLR to capture photos of her grandson, who was still a toddler.  Four years later, she finds that her photography hobby has grown into a passion she never anticipated! She and her husband have recently moved to Arizona and are the proud grandparents of two adorable grandsons, who are her favorite photography subjects. Her blog, Melissa Anderson Photography, can be found here.

Jeanne Stone has been a follower of Focusing on Life for quite some time. She is an author and photographer for and her blog Butterfly Tales which she has enjoyed for the past three years. She is a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a great grandmother and a Nurse Practitioner. Photography is a long loved and serious hobby, with her goal being to see and appreciate the little but miraculous things all around us. Also as a Nurse Practitioner who has worked for many  years with women, one of her major goals in her photography is to empower others by helping them to see all of the beauty surrounding them and to find ways for this beauty to help them grow into the women they want to be. She loves natural light for her photography, shoots entirely in manual and loves seeing all of the beauty of this light. Photography is definitely her favorite hobby ever and she has loved sharing this on her blog.

Many thanks to these two ladies for participating and I hope you’ll join me in reading their posts next Monday, May 26 to learn more about them and to see who they have invited to continue the Virtual Blog Tour. 

As always, thanks so much for stopping by. I always appreciate your visits.



Wednesday, May 14, 2014

App Happy Wednesday

Just a quickie today but I didn't want to miss Barb's App Happy Wednesday! These are a few of  my favorite apps right now. The above photo was textured with DistressedFX and the word art is from some great stuff in the Over app.

One of my favorite text apps right now is WordSwag. You input the words you want and then have many different options for fonts and stacking. Lots of fun!

Of course, there is always so much to love about Waterlogue! This shot of Chicago was edited in Waterlogue to look like an old postcard. When I have a photo that I want to make look like it's jumping off the page, I take the edited photo into Squareready where you can apply a shadow behind it. Love this look!

And finally, this beach shot where I used Waterlogue and Squareready and then added some wordart using LetterGlow (discussed in my last post).

That's it for today! Why not hop over to Barb's blog and join in?

Keeping With The Times

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Rediscovering an Old Friend

Playing along with Barb Brookbank's App Happy Wednesday over on her blog Keeping with the Times. It is always so much fun and so inspirational to see what apps everyone is using and how they are using them.

This past month I've pretty much been focusing on using the Waterlogue app for an Instagram challenge of doing a photo a day using that app.  However, when we rolled  over to May, I was ready to play with some other apps. I haven't been using Tooncamera for quite awhile and then my friend Barb Hurst used it on one of her cactus bloom images and I am now in love with Tooncamera again! It is so easy and there are so many options to play with.

You can see how different this one looks from the one at the top -- almost like a completely different app! And finally, there's this one, which I think is my favorite:

Loving the great definition and texture this app brings to this shot. So if you haven't tried Tooncamera, or haven't used it in awhile, give it a whirl!

Keeping With The Times

Monday, April 28, 2014

Magnolia Discovery

I love magnolias! They are so stately and beautiful. The first time I photographed them was when I was in Virginia for my son's graduation from the University of Virginia Law School. We were driving through campus and I yelled, "Stop!" There was tree after tree covered in huge magnolia blossoms! And I do mean HUGE!  They were the size of dinner plates!  I spent a good hour capturing them in all their glory.

The next time I was able capture some with my camera was in Dallas last May. I had been looking forward to going to Dallas again this year and definitely planned to visit the magnolias again. However, my husband's schedule isn't going to allow us to go and I was disappointed about missing the magnolias.

Today I stopped at a new nursery, mainly looking for cactus in bloom, and right outside the front door was a magnolia in bloom!  The flowers were only about the size of saucers (only!) so not as huge as the southern ones, but I was so glad I had my camera with me so I could snap a few shots.  And then this happened:

While I was focusing, in the corner of the lens I saw a bee approaching. I just kept shooting and was able to catch this shot of him wallowing in the pollen:

I think he may have been even  happier than I was to discover this magnolia in bloom! I thought about bringing it home but it was almost $100.  But at least now I know where I can go to find some magnolia blooms to photograph!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

App Happy and Word Art Happy

My friend Barb Brookbank at Keeping with the Times is doing a series on her blog called App Happy Wednesday where you link up your edited phone images with the app of your choice. Well, being a pretty app happy girl myself, I was happy to take part! The above image was edited with the Waterlogue app and I have to say that using this app makes me feel like an artist!  So easy and so rewarding!  However, I have found that on some images too much detail is lost in the waterlogue process and so to recapture some of that detail I take the original image and the waterlogued image into Blender and bring back just enough of the original until I'm happy.  This process has made me love Waterlogue even more!

Then a note about the word art (which is from Ali Edwards).  I am a word art fanatic and love to use it on my photos.  Yesterday I read about how you can take your word art that you currently have on your computer and make it available to you on your mobile devices! I didn't waste a minute until I checked this out! Here's how it's done:

1. First of all, head to the App Store and purchase the LetterGlow app. I think I remember that it's $1.99 but trust me, you won't be disappointed!

2. Make sure you have Dropbox installed on your computer. If you don't, go to dropbox.com and install it. It's free.  When you open Dropbox on your computer, you will see a new folder called Apps. Copy the word art files you want to use into that folder.

3. Make sure you have installed the Dropbox app on your phone or tablet.

4. Open LetterGlow on your phone or tablet and click on the gear icon at the bottom (gray circle). Then click on Install Overlays and then Add Overlay and then Dropbox. This will take you to your Dropbox folder on your computer where you will click on the Apps folder where you have stored your word art. This will bring that word art into a folder called My Set in LetterGlow.  Once a particular word art image is in your set, you won't  have to go back to Dropbox to retrieve it.

5. Back up in LetterGlow until you get back to the main screen. Choose your photo and click "Use".

6. At the bottom, click on the box with the dotted line around it and then click on the plus sign that appears above it.

7. Click on My Set which will take you to the word art that you have saved in LetterGlow. Tap the word art you want to use and it will place it over your photo.

8. From there you can resize and recolor your word art as desired. When you are happy with the result, click on the tiny triangle in the white bar at the bottom of the screen and click on Done. The next screen will give you the option of saving it to your Camera Roll or importing it into Instagram, Flickr, Facebook, etc.

I hope all this makes sense. I had to play a bit and have added more to the instructions I found to help make it more understandable.  So if you're a word art "junkie" like I am, give this a try. Let me know if you have any problems or questions. I'll be glad to see if I can help.

Keeping With The Times

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Pretty in Pink

Two things I want to get back to doing: 1. Posting regularly to my blog. I don't know how it happens but I let posting here fall to the bottom of my "to do" list and it just never happens. I say, "I'm back!" and then one or two posts later, I'm gone again.  I want to change that.  2. I have fallen so far behind in Kim Klassen's Beyond Beyond class and I want to go back and try to catch up on the lessons there. I also want to get back to participating in her Texture Tuesday.  I have signed up for her new class Be Still 52 and all of the rest of the contributors to my collaborative blog Focusing on Life have signed up too so maybe we can keep each other accountable and not fall behind.

The photo above is of a bunch of pink ranunculus I picked up from Trader Joe's yesterday in a new Ball jar that I got on a trip to Prescott. Next to peonies, I think these might just be my favorite flower. I used Kim's free textures this week, KK Simple Set, and I like the softness they give this shot. The word art is from Sue Cummings.

Well, I'm not making any promises but I'm hoping that you will be seeing a lot more of me from here on out! 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Butterfly Wonderland

It was a day of beauty and wonder for all of us. No matter how many times I visit, I am thrilled by this amazing natural wonder. The butterfly is a symbol of change, joy and color and a miracle of transformation and resurrection. So when I had friends visiting from out of town, I wanted to be sure to take them here. It is billed as America's largest butterfly atrium with thousands of butterflies freely flying around. They come from South America, Africa, Asia and other tropical locations. It is really a photographer's paradise!

My friends Deanna from Chicago and Barb from Canada were excited to see this wonderful place. We arrived at 10:00 in the morning and had to pull ourselves away at 12:30. The Blue Morpho above is quite elusive, flitting about but rarely landing. When they do land, they usually fold up their wings that are a dull brown on the other side, so I am always on the lookout for one who is sunning himself with his wings extended. In all the times I've visited here, this is only the second time I've been able to capture one (with my camera, that is!)

Here are a few of the other beauties that posed for me:

This black swallowtail is one of my favorites and he was so accommodating to pose on these white flowers!

And one of  my favorites is  this Paper Kite.  Even though they are only black & white and not a more striking color, I love their delicacy, and espcially love when they land on a red flower like this hibiscus!

And finally one that I'm not sure of.  I tried to find it in the handout but nothing looked quite like the right  one.  But I really liked the bands of colors on his wings.

When we were finally able to pull ourselves away, we had a nice lunch together and sat around and talked for a couple of hours more!  So glad I was able to share this place with other people who I knew would appreciate it as much as I do. 

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Fabulous Photography Friends

It is always so much fun to get together with other women photographers, people who understand when you stop to take a photo of a leaf or a heart-shaped prickly pear pad. People who will walk slowly through the garden taking it all in and capturing it all with their cameras. People like me.

Yesterday was just such a day.  I had the privilege of getting together with these beautiful women at the Desert Botanical Gardens: l-r Barbara Hurst from Anthem, Deanna Swauger from Chicago and Barb Brookbank from Alberta, Canada.  Of course, I have known Barbara Hurst for quite some time since we both live here. Deanna comes to visit friends a few times a year and we always get together but this was the first time we had met Barb Brookbank.  I read all of their blogs daily and felt like I knew them long before the first in-person meeting took place.  But it was like we had known each other forever.

The Chihuly glass exhibit is going on at the botanical gardens and so that was a bonus. There were shades of blue:

And purple:

And some yellow and red:

But I really prefer to focus my lens on the natural elements in the garden like my favorite agave:

And the blooming aloes that were all around:

These beauties will be here long after the Chihuly exhibit has gone, always changing, always beautiful. So much fun to be able to share this place I love with friends from near and far.

We have a couple of more days planned together and I can hardly wait!