Why is it Blue?

I was informed yesterday that I have been slacking a bit on my blog 😊 It is true, so today I will rectify that.

We had dinner at one of Big Cuz’s favorite places. The owner brought her a Birthday Salad with a candle.

Hubby and I recently took a trip to Arizona. My Big Cuz was celebrating a special birthday, and we wanted to be there to celebrate along with her sister. While in Arizona, one of the things I wanted for Hubby, was to be able to shoot the sky. He loves photographing the sky at night. But where we live there is a lot of light pollution. In Arizona the sky is so clear at night, especially up north where my cousins live. Unfortunately, we had a very full moon, so it pretty much flooded the sky with light. This made it hard to get the stars. But he did have fun, and now knows what we need to do the next time we visit.

We flew Allegiant Air for the first time. There is no luxury there at all, and the seats have little cushion. But if you fold up your coat and sit on it, not bad at all. We think they should sell/rent the stadium cushions people take to watch a football game. I do like flying into Mesa instead of Phoenix. The flight was not bad, the cost was low, and even the rental car was less expensive. But the thing I loved most of all was the ease of getting from the plane to driving away. I will happily sit in a little less comfortable seat rather than deal with the main Phoenix Airport.

Now the reason I mention the flight first is to make the point that the airline charges for everything, even carry-on, and has a 40lb limit on the checked suitcase. We did find out later that they don’t charge Veterans for luggage, which is outstanding! But that being said, we were very limited as to what we could bring. So, we decided to just bring one camera, mine. Hubby set my camera up to use for the night-time photography. Part of this was to add a Clear-Night Filter. Worked well for him, but the next morning when I grabbed the camera to get some shots as the sun came up, something just wasn’t right. I really don’t think the cactus was this color??? I fiddled with the camera, checked my white balance, and just couldn’t figure out what was going on. Hubby was working, and I didn’t want to interrupt him. Needless to say, when he saw the pictures, he knew right away 😛 So here are some pictures I popped into Lightroom and ‘saved’, lol.

A few nights later we were down in Tucson at my little sister’s house. We wanted to take Hubby out into the desert to try photographing the sky there. The moon was still too bright, but we still had some fun. He walked away with a pretty nice shot if you ask me 😊

Cactus in the desert, nighttime. Taken by Hubby

He did have some help from us – lighting things up with our cell phones.

We rounded out the trip having breakfast with the folks. Hubby had a little trouble finishing his pancake. No idea why . . . 😊

Breakfast at Pappy’s

I am Chuffed!

Yes, this is my British roots coming out, but it is just the perfect word. It means I feel pretty pleased with myself – proud without being obnoxious, lol

Hubby and I belong to a couple different photography groups on Facebook. I find it interesting how very different they are. On one the activity is slim. When things are posted the constructive criticism is often attacked, so people avoid commenting. The other is the total opposite. This is a local Photography Group, and we are totally enjoying it.

The Group does a monthly theme, and the theme for January was Minimalism. I love expanding what I do. Last year my good friend, and fellow photographer, asked me to go to Cincinnati to shoot a building. Yes, take photographs of architecture 😊 You can see what I did here – Getting into the New Year, Feb 24, 2017 and Best Laid Plans, April 27, 2017.

So, the theme for January was Minimalism –  where do I start. The Admin put a link up to see more about it, I also went to my resource for this kind of thing, Ted Forbes – “The Art of Photography.” I then started looking around. This is what I came up with:

This morning Hubby went downstairs to work, and I sat down at my computer to work on a project. He messaged me from downstairs, asking if I had been on Facebook this morning. I hadn’t, so I looked. Here is where being ‘chuffed’ comes into play. My photograph was selected as the best illustration of minimalism, and will be the groups cover photo for the next month!

I am so terrible at self-promotion. I just can’t seem to get myself to go out and do that. When something like this happens, it makes you realize you might just have something.

See more of my work on my Flikr page

Happy New Year 2018

I was very busy over the holidays. Not what you would normally think; hours shopping for the perfect gifts. In fact, our Christmas is very low-key on that level. Thanksgiving is the big day in our house. We always have 20 some people, all the kids, and I just love it. Christmas is when the kids go to their significant others’ families. We go to Hubby’s parents house, and my mother will join us there. Sometimes our kids will be there, this year only the youngest. The big difference is that we have no little ones, so Santa isn’t much in evidence. Yes, we do have our grandson, who is 18 months old now. But for Christmas he is with his parents at his other grandparents’ home. A few years back we started having a traditional German, New Years Day pork and sauerkraut dinner. We have everyone over we weren’t able to spend Christmas Day with, exchange presents, and eat good food.

This year I decided to not fight the shopping craziness, and spent a lot of time in the craft-room. Of course, I couldn’t post things until the gifts were given. Here are some great gift ideas, where I got the patterns (let’s give credit where credit is due), and my thoughts. (Please note, all these photos were taken with either my phone or tablet.)

I started out by making bowl hot pads, or cozy. To be honest, my first sister-in-law shared a tutorial for these on Facebook a while back. I couldn’t find the one she shared, and there were a number of tutorials online. I can’t really give credit to anyone in particular, but to my “little sis” for suggesting it. The tutorials go from the simple, to people who have made really cool reusable templates you can order. I am about mid-way in this.

 

Then came the Pet Bandana. Keeping in mind we have 6 dogs among the immediate family. My problem here was just figuring out what sizes I needed. The pattern I used was from ShabbyFrabrics.com (with a YouTube tutorial). They turned out fairly nice, although I did make one adjustment. In the instructions they have you leave part of the top seam open to turn it right side out. After the first few, I sewed directly across, and turned them right side out through the holes for the collar. I did still have a sizing issue as they ran a bit big for our dogs. But it was a great place to start, and now I know where to change things for the next time.

Next came the Toddler Bib for my grandson. This also came from ShabbyFabric.com (with a YouTube tutorial), and I really liked it. The only adjustment I made was putting a pocket on one side. They advertised this as a reversible bib. To my mind if the side out is that dirty I wouldn’t want to turn it around, and that mess touch the child’s clothes. Now if you wanted to make the sides completely different for variety, then it is a great idea. But as I was using the same fabric for both sides, one pocket worked fine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lastly I needed a couple of extra gifts. I made a padded Wine Bag, by so-sew-easy.com (with a YouTube tutorial). This turned out just beautifully. I used fabric remnants, and turned out a really beautiful gift.

Then I needed a guy gift. That was a real problem. It seems so easy to come up with something a woman would find fun. Eventually I came across this Phone Charger Holder from iThinkSew.com. I did change it a little by adding a faux leather pocket, which made it more masculine looking. It was a real hit. 1 – because they couldn’t figure it out, 2 – they loved it!

I also made a Tablet Holder from Debbie Shore’s book, Half Yard Home. Silly me didn’t take a picture of it. But I will make another one, as it turned out really nice. I also made her Bag Dispenser for the Wild Child a while back, so I will share the photo of that 😊

All-in-all I had a lot of fun. Having a craft-room has made all the difference to being able to get things made. The hardest part was always finding what I needed, and the space to work on it. I now have both, and enables me to get those creative juices going. Just love it <3

Catching Up Again

Arizona rose

Oh dear! I almost let a whole month go by without a single post! Well I will fix that right now. The past two months plus have been very wonderfully busy.  I wrote a post at the end of September that I didn’t put up. Sometimes I find I get a bit too personal to put it all out there. But in a nutshell, I spent quite a bit of time with my Arizona family in September, and again when I flew out the end of October. I wrote about the special relationships I have with these people, but most importantly the respect and love I have for them.

I went to Arizona this time to say goodbye to a special man. I have written about my first cousin before, my Big Cuz. In January she and her husband moved her older sister to Arizona to live with them. Sadly, not long after he was diagnosed with cancer, and passed away. I flew out to attend the family celebration of his life. I was not surprised by the sharing of love and inclusion I felt from his family. They were just like him.

I also got to spend some wonderful Nana time with my grandson. His mom is a school teacher, and had after school commitments. So, I got to pick him up from daycare, and have some one-on-one time. On Columbus Day I got the whole afternoon, but he just didn’t want to take a nap. This was the extent of his nap, and lasted a whole 10 minutes. I do so love spending time with this little guy.

Another thing that took up some time was the American Red Cross (ARC) “Sound the Alarm” campaign. Due to the numerous natural disasters of late, the ARC has been very busy. This campaign was scheduled before the first hurricane hit down south. So nationally it has been postponed until next year. But we already had so much locked in, it was decided to go ahead locally. The more working smoke detectors we have in homes the better. We had three Saturdays walking neighborhoods, door to door, asking if they had smoke detectors, did they work? Would you like a free new one? I photographed all three events, many smoke detectors were installed, and it was a very fulfilling time. I do enjoy being the local ARC photographer.

Then, before we knew it, Thanksgiving was on the horizon. Each year it gets better and better. This year we realized we just had too much food. Yes, crazy as it seems, there was just too much. Next year we are going to cut things back a bit. We realized by having so much food some things slipped, like the potatoes got cold. But there is always next year 😊

This year, however, the aftermath of Thanksgiving was not the usual take the next 3 days to clean up, get the house back in order, and rest. This year we hit the Black Friday online sale at Lowes for a new dishwasher and refrigerator. They were delivered on Sunday, and we are still working on getting everything back where it is supposed to be. The old dishwasher was broken, so that was easily hauled away. The frig was a different matter. We had an old one we use downstairs to be hauled off. We moved the one from upstairs down to replace it. It is interesting to see how many things have to be moved out of the way to move a frig. All the coats on the coat hooks for example.

Now, let up pause on the coats for a moment. They were piled on the couch in the living room, and this morning the youngest and I sorted through them. To our surprise the bulk of them were Hubby’s. The man who loves the cold, and doesn’t wear coats unless necessary. Yes, a bit bizarre to us too lol

I am taking advantage of the recent events to purge the house again. Yes, we have so much stuff that just gets put back. We don’t use it, we have just always had it. We will make a pile and invite the kids over to ‘shop’. As time goes by we see ourselves becoming out parents. This is that time to pawn off onto the children what we no longer want. Good times!

Playing with Light, Inside and Out

I have a love/hate relationship with my camera flash. It is one of the reasons I so love my latest camera; a high ISO. If you don’t know what that means, it enables me to take photographs in very low light, without a flash. Over the years I have had it pounded into my head that using your flash on-camera is a bad thing, a big no-no, what not to do!!! And to be honest, it is true. My first few digital cameras actually came with little pop-up flashes built into the camera. Very bad!!

Now, even with a high ISO you will have times you absolutely need a flash. Or it may just be a shot that needs that extra punch of light. Have you ever seen someone taking pictures outside, in the sun, with a flash? There is a reason for that. What a flash can do is take a flat snapshot and turn it into a beautiful photograph with depth and richness. Yeah, that being said . . . then you have to learn how to master it.

I have taken a lot of time trying to figure out the best way to get that light into my shots without spending an arm and a leg. I am not really a portrait photographer, but I do occasionally take portraits.

Although taking photos of still life, things like flowers, benefit from lighting. This photo of a bee on a flower was taken in my back yard. There was sunshine, and I used my flash at low power. As well as this other photo taken indoors, and lit with a flash. It gave the shot dimension.

I always try to watch a few photography tutorials a month. I pay for subscriptions, so want to use them. I enjoy seeing how other photographers go about doing things. As I am pretty much self-taught in the modern age (I did go to school for photography before digital), I have found that sometimes I learn a much easier way to do things, but other times I realize I had a pretty good system of my own.

I recently bought a transmitter for my flash, and it is great. I now just leave it on the top of the camera and place the flash wherever I what it. Being able to control it all from the transmitter enables me to reduce or increase the strength of the flash from the camera, and enjoy the benefits of the extra light. It takes time to learn how best to use a flash, and I am certainly not there yet. But I understand now why teachers will say some people promote themselves as ‘natural light photographers’ to avoid learning how to use a flash the right way. As far as I am concerned, you should always be learning. There is so much out there to add to what you can do. I never want to limit myself. Which is probably why I am always learning, and doing, new things. One never wants to be bored! 😊

Hubby’s dog, Miss Molly. I have the youngest standing in front of Molly holding her attention, and the flash.

The youngest dog, Archer. She is also standing in front of him with the flash.

Worldwide Photowalk 2017

Yesterday the youngest and I joined in on the 2017 Worldwide Photowalk. This is a wonderful event that Scott Kelby (of kelbyone.com) is celebrating the 10th anniversary of sponsoring. You can read about it here – http://worldwidephotowalk.com/

The point of the Photowalk is to meet up with fellow photographers at locations all over the world. There were people walking in many countries like New Zealand & Australia, Thailand, the Netherlands, and of course the USA, just to name a few. It is so exciting to read the Facebook page, and see so many people, from all over the world, joining in their mutual passion of photography.

At the end, I found our walk an interesting experience. We went to the Air Force Museum, which was nice and cool inside. But, the environment was very dark. So, note to self – need a tri-pod. I did use the youngest’s shoulder to steady a few shots. But it was definitely a learning experience in low-light shooting. In the end I had some terrific shots, and some that would have been so much better if I had managed my settings a bit better, or even had the ability to do a time-lapsed shot.

Either way, here is a slideshow of my favorites.

Busy, busy, busy

Busy, busy, busy. That is my mantra of the day. I have learned that one of the most wonderful things about my life can also be the most exhausting. I have so many people in my life that I love and love me. I am so very grateful for it every day. In turn, it does tend to fill up the days as well.

My first in-laws were in Indiana last weekend, so the kids and I took a trip up to see them all. We had such a wonderful time. All the love 😊 Next weekend Hubby’s Uncle and cousins will be here. This weekend we are getting caught up. For me that means writing . . . So, I need to back up a bit.

Last month my baby turned 21. I still can’t believe she is that old! For her birthday we wanted to upgrade her camera. When I upgrade she usually gets to as well. But with Hubby getting into photography more, he was the one that got the latest camera. I still can’t believe I didn’t do a post about the eclipse! Well in the prep for the eclipse, and her birthday, we managed to get everyone an upgrade. I ended up with my dream camera, a Canon 5D Mark III. I have been having so much fun! It has been so totally challenging me too. It is more to learn, especially working with all the focus points. But then we had a delivery yesterday, and wow.

A little backstory here. I was watching a photography training a couple of weeks ago. The instructor was talking about how useful a battery grip is. Now I rarely have a battery die. I keep a spare with me, and have never burned through both. So a battery pack was not something I had on my wish list. But the instructor was focused more on the buttons than the batteries. The grip has the same buttons on it as the camera – top right. This is such a convenience when shooting vertical, and it had never occurred to me until I saw him working with it. Hubby came into the room, and I mentioned it to him. Not asking for it, just the observation. Now back to the mail arriving yesterday. There was a box from Amazon. Nothing new, he orders from them regularly. First, he hands me a box with 2 extra camera batteries. We had needed to get extra so that he had a spare. So my reaction was pleasure for him. But then he hands me another box – the batteries were for me, not him. Because he had ordered me the grip! I just love that man so much!

1/25, f/5.6, ISO 12800

The youngest is giving me all sorts of grief about the grip. She thinks it is overkill – it makes the camera so big. It really made me laugh because there was a time I felt the same way. But I guess I have grown into it, and this is what I got. I took this picture of Hubby’s puppy Molly. She is 14 years old, and a bit of a crazy old lady. I took it at night, with no flash, using the 5D and grip. I was just playing, so didn’t really think it would turn out. At 1/25 of a second it should not have been sharp. But she is a beautiful old dame.

A Different Perspective

I was looking through the photos I took on our trip. There is one from Lookout Mountain that caught my attention just after I took it, and even more now.

This first one is straight off the camera in jpg. When I previewed it on the back of my camera I thought the edges were darker than they turned out. But it was a bright day, so it just confirms you should never trust the back of your camera for the end result.

Look at the way the color pops on the ends of the buildings. It looks like I did something to it, but it was totally untouched by me. When I got it into Lightroom and did a few little edits, I ended up with this.

It almost doesn’t look real. Very strange. So I decided to get a little creative and add a vignette. I wanted to get the same affect I saw on the back of the camera there.

For some reason it still didn’t seem to work for me. After a few minutes staring at it, I finally did this. Seems to fit the canon better 😊

Although the baseball cap on the guy standing next to it is kinda modern . . . LOL

A Few Stops Along the Way

On Friday the wild child and I set off on an adventure. We were heading south to the Puppetry Museum in Atlanta to see the Labyrinth & Dark Crystal exhibits. But we didn’t want to just drive straight down and back. So the first thing we did was decide to go by way of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Friday morning we set our GPS for Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. All I can say is “WOW!!” This place is incredible! Every few yards it was – look at that, Wow! Can you believe it! What is that?! On and on, and just so unbelievable. You really have to experience it. Las Vegas without all the casinos – lights, castles, but also sharks and bears as doorways, the Titanic, and an upside-down building!

Someday we will go just to visit Pigeon Forge, but on this day we had a different goal. So we headed out of town by way of the Gatlinburg Bypass. Just as we entered the Park we noticed we were getting low on gas. I saw a sign that said “Downtown” with an arrow, so figured that would lead is to a gas station. It did, but OMG!

I remember telling the youngest to take the hill down to the ferry a few months back. That was quite a hillside to go down. This time it was a mountainside!!! Check out this map, and it really doesn’t do justice as to how steep it was. These twists and turns are almost vertical. The driveways were extremely steep to just get to the houses. Sadly there are still many burned out from the fires. But they are rebuilding. It is just unbelievable that they are, on such steep  hillsides, but they are. I am sorry to say that we were so involved it the tight switch-back turns we didn’t even think to take any pictures! But I did take this one after we got back on the bypass.

We headed through the beautiful Great Smoky Mountain National Park. What a beautiful country this is.

Slideshow of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park

We arrived at our hotel in Kennesaw, Georgia. Not too thrilled with the first room they gave us. The toilet seat was broken, and it just didn’t look well cleaned. But they gave us another room, and it was just fine. The next morning we drove into Atlanta to the museum.

Slideshow of the Puppetry Museum, Atlanta Georgia

The wild child was just enthralled with the place. Watching her face as she saw the characters she had seen so many times watching the movies was just such a heartwarming thing.

We then headed over to the Centennial Olympic Park. We had lunch at a wonderful restaurant and walked over to the wheel – SkyView Atlanta. What a site to see, but not so much for the wild child. We have finally found something she isn’t too thrilled about – big Ferris wheels.

Slideshow of downtown Atlanta

The next morning we headed back north. But we weren’t finished there. We decided to go by way of Chattanooga, Tennessee. We picked the Incline Railway to Lookout Mountain as the place to have our final adventure for this trip. Another WOW! Unfortunately the wild child had forgotten her water bottle in the car, so we only had mine. By the time we realized this, mine was half gone, and we were down at the museum in the park at the top of Lookout Mountain! Fortunately we were smart and took our time, stayed in the shade, and went straight to purchase water as soon as we left the park. What fantastic views, and just incredible that people build in such high places.

Slideshow of the Incline Railroad to Lookout Mountain

We made it home by 11pm; tired but very happy. All-in-all we had the best adventure ever!

The Last Kinship Family Fair

On August 12, 2017 the youngest and I had the privilege of again photographing the Kinship Family Fair; the 10th Annual one. I have been involved with the Kinship program here pretty much from the beginning. I was hired at the Center for Healthy Communities (CHC) not long after the Director of the program was. I have seen all the wonderful work they have done over the last 14 years. When I left CHC, I still kept in touch. I built the website for the Ohio Grandparent/Kinship Coalition, and host and maintain it to this day.

Presenters gave the caregivers much needed help, advice and inspiration.

While I was working at CHC I was often asked to photograph events. When I left I realized how much I missed being a part of these special times. I contacted the Kinship Program Director and offered to continue doing the Fair. So for the last 4 years (the last 2 the youngest as well) I have been at the Fair, with my camera, capturing wonderful moments. We set up a family photo session for all the Kinship families. For many of them this was the only way they would ever have a family portrait taken. They looked forward to seeing me each year to get an updated photo.

Unfortunately just prior to this years event it was announced that the local program has lost its funding. The Director had to announce it to the kinship caregivers at the fair. Needless to say, they were all devastated. A number of caregivers approached us with so much thanks for what we have been able to do for them in the past. They were so lost! Asking how / where / who? We had no answers; only hugs . . .

Shoes 4 the Shoeless provided free shoes

Photo by the youngest

This year the kids received free jackets as well.

The Grandparent/Kinship programs around the country are so very important. They support, sustain, and encourage, so many people. Not just the caregivers, and children, but the parents who are not able to care for their kids. So often we think of situations of parents who are gone – in jail, rehab, or dead. But one grandmother came up to me with her own personal story and thanks.

This particular grandmother’s daughter is a single parent, in the Navy, and deployed. She is caring for her grandkids while her daughter is away. She was able to send her the family photo we took last year, and it made such a difference to both the grandmother being able to send it, and the mother being able to look at it every day.

Again this year free backpacks stocked with school supplies were provided [photo by youngest]

The funding for the Kinship Caregiver program should never have been pulled. This is such a vital program in helping the caregivers raise these children, giving them the opportunity to reach their best potential. My wish and hope is that someone will step up and help, and make these families a priority.

You can read about the past Fairs we photographed at the links below:

The end of a special program – photos by the youngest