Archive for January 2011

Black and White

Sunday, January 30, 2011 · Posted in

I love sepia photos as well as black and white.  One of the great things about photo editing is it allows you to shoot in full color and then convert your photos later if you think they would make nice monochrome pictures.  The first picture I am posting here was actually shot in black and white and not edited.  I think it does make for a sharper image.  The others were all shot in color and then modified in one way or another.  I love how the black and white effect allows the old church to take on a sinister appeal.

Winter Colors

Friday, January 28, 2011 · Posted in

Here are a some photos from a long drive we took on Sunday.  We basically just stopped at anything I thought would make a nice picture.  I posted them on Flickr and someone actually identified the area we are in without any clues from me which I thought was kind of cool.

Can you count the birds, there are actually nine in this photo.  They were so happy in the sun with all those berries just chirping away. 

I know the black horse is lacking in detail but I didn't know how to fix that against the bright white snow.

Love the color in the photo, especially for a winter shot.

Industrial Photos

Wednesday, January 26, 2011 · Posted in ,

I am going to preface this post by saying there is a "bad" word showing on one of the photos.  It is unfortunate because I really like the texture and color of the photo and I didn't even notice the graffiti when I was taking the photo.  What I find equally funny is even when I downloaded the photo I couldn't see it, it wasn't until I corrected the exposure in Lightroom that it popped out.

I think sometimes industrial type of buildings and equipment can really be interesting subjects.  I found a couple of these photos a little boring until I edited them but I am kind of happy with the results.  I am still really just learning when it comes to editing so they are still far from perfect.

In Flight

Saturday, January 22, 2011 · Posted in

There is a place just outside of town where you are almost guaranteed to find bald eagles in the winter.  Photographing them isn't easy because they are on private property so you can't just hike in and they like to hang out just far enough into the field that with my simple equipment I am not able to get truly good photos. 

The one eagle flew directly over my head but when I looked at the shots I had taken in my camera I was disappointed because it didn't look like I had gotten any decent shots despite how close he was.  Given that I was quite happy with the way the photo turned out once I edited it.  It isn't as sharp as I would like but given my limited skills and equipment I love this shot. 

The second shot was a surprise as well, it also looked like nothing when I reviewed it in my camera.  But I actually like how the fog creates negative space and how the barn is so bright.  I also think it is great that without trying I happened to get two bald eagles sitting on the fence in the bottom of the frame. 

Two lucky shots of an elusive subject.

Who Knew!!!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Part of me says that it is incredibly silly for me to be celebrating this simple little drawing but I have to say I just can't help myself.  My mother and grandmother are very artistic and have painted for years but in the past I have tried my hand a drawing a few times with sorry results.  Due to this I really have no idea why I picked up a package of charcol pencils the other day when I was shopping but I did. 

The pencils sat on my desk mocking me for about a week before I picked them up, I had an idea of what I wanted to draw so I sat down and within a few minutes created the picture you see above.  I have to admit I was kind of thrilled with it.  The fact that I had an idea in my head that I was able to put down on paper even if it was poorly done.

Now when I sit here trying to decide if I should actually post this because when I really look at it I think a 6 year old could draw as well as that but my thought it "what the heck".  I can draw!  Not very well, I have ordered a couple of how to books but this really isn't something I ever thought I could do so I am going to celebrate it.  

A Long, Dark Day

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

I find myself longing for spring.  For the bright colors, the spring blooms and the blossoms in the orchards.  While we live in an area that is world renown for it's beauty it really can be very dull and gray here in the winter.  We don't see a lot of sun so everything can appear monotone and almost dirty.  To cheer myself up from the winter blues I sent some time looking at photos of flowers and thought I would share a few of my favorites here.

A Whack with a Measuring Stick

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I have been taking the Mondo Beyondo Dream Lab workshop.  It is based on the book, "The Gifts of Imperfection", by Brene Brown.  The course got off to a slow uneventful start, but last night my copy of the book arrived.

This morning while on my treadmill I was reading the part about a talk Brene had been asked to participate in, basically she felt completely overshadowed by the other speakers and the high level of audience for the talk.  This overwhelmed her and made it impossible for her to prepare for the speaking engagement.  She talks about how she spoke to a friend who told her to "put away the measuring stick".  She needed to stop measuring herself against the audience and the other speakers.

It may seem like a small statement but they both might as well have been there in the room with to hit me with that stick for how it impacted me. For the first time since I started the Dream Lab workshop I broke down. I am constantly measuring myself to other people and constantly finding myself falling short. I also realized that one of the reasons I have issues confronting my staff (I manage an insurance office) about the areas they need to improve is that I don’t feel like I can because I am so far from perfect.  This realization hit me like a ton of bricks. 

I ran upstairs poured it all into a journal and still sat there crying. I can’t convey how hard this hit me. After almost an hour I didn’t have myself together so I called a friend just to tell them of my experience because I felt so overwhelmed. I still do. Right now I see the problem, I haven’t yet seen the answer, but I have faith that it will come. I think finally seeing the issue for what it is will push me to seek the answers. Because somewhere deep inside I do believe that exactly who I am is just enough. 

A Different View

Sunday, January 16, 2011 · Posted in

I have been working really hard at learning how to use various photo editing software programs.  I have an ancient version of Photoshop already and  I have downloaded a 30 day trial of Lightroom 3 and I have also been using Picnik.  Picnik is by far the easiest out there but I find it best for adding effects and not real editing.  Lightroom is definitely easier to use than Photoshop but so far I have not been able to add much for special effects I have mostly been using it to clean up photos.  I thought I would show below some of the edited photos and explain how I got these effects and what program I used to create them.

For both of these pictures I used Lightroom.  These photos were taken from a moving vehicle so I didn't have much time to adjust the camera so the original photos are too far away and somewhat over exposed.  In Lightroom I cropped the photos and lowered the tone curve slightly to lessen some of the over exposure.  Then I added a slight vignette to both photos.

I just love this cute little guy, I used to drive by him everyday on the way to and from work and one day stopped to snap his picture.  I didn't do much to this photo I simply used Auto Tone in Lightroom to deepen the color and again added a slight vignette.  I find I add a vignette to most of my photos as I seem to prefer a slightly darkened edge.  

I think I actually like the original photo better than the edited one because the bird stands out more, but it still gives you an idea of what you can do, again with this one I simply used Auto Tone in Lightroom and then added a slight white vignette to the photo.

Again I am not sure if I like the edited photo better.  This is the Golden Gate Bridge encased in fog.   I used Picnik's Cross Process effect to add the color then moved it over to Lightroom to add vignette.

This is Alcatraz Island.  I find the original photo of this one a little boring, in Photoshop I used the fresco filter to add the effect and then lowered the opacity to about 60%.  I think it makes the photo look a little more creepy and interesting.

I am certainly no expert, there may be simpler or better ways to edit photos, this is simply a sampling of effects that I have learned in the last couple weeks.  

Chores are such a chore

Saturday, January 15, 2011

I was cleaning house this morning, hurrying along trying to get it done when my husband asked me if I was mad and if he had upset me.  No I wasn't mad and he hadn't done anything to upset me but I realized that I was feeling resentful.  Here I am doing laundry and cleaning house when all I want to do is grab my camera and head downtown and take some photos and it was pissing me off. 

The sun is shining today, which is rare here, the skies are usually quite gray in the winter and I want to get out and take advantage of the sunshine.  So he said why not just go then, leave the housework until tomorrow, or heck, don't even do it at all this weekend.  But I can't, I won't enjoy my day knowing I have the house to clean tomorrow and if I leave it and don't do it then all week long it will bug me.  We have two dogs and a cat, they create a lot of hair which then turns into dust bunnies which taunt me all week long if I don't get them.  So just leaving it isn't an option for me. 

I know my new little blog doesn't have a lot of readers yet but if anyone does happen to read this and have some insight into how a person should better handle this I would love to hear from you.  It is so hard to balance work, life and hobbies.  I wish there was a simpler way.

You-Shaped Hole

Thursday, January 13, 2011

You-Shaped Hole

Sometimes the world feels inhospitable,
You feel all the ways that you and it don't fit.
You see what's missing, how it all could be different.

You feel as if you weren't meant for the world, or the 
world wasn't meant for you.

As if the world is "the way it is" and your
discomfort with it is a problem.

So you get timid.  You get quiet about what you see.

But what if this?  What if you are meant to feel the
the world is inhospitable, unfriendly, off-track in just
the particular way you do?

The world has a you-shaped hole in it.
It is missing what you see.
It lacks what you know.

And so you were called into being.
To see the gap, to feel the pain of it, and to fill it.

Filing it is speaking what is missing.
Filing it is stepping into the center of the crowd, into a 
clearing, and saying, here, my friends, is the future
Filing it is being what is missing, becoming it.

You don't have to do it all, but you do have to speak it.
You have to tell your slice of the truth.
You do have to walk toward it with your choices, with your own being.

Then allies and energies will come to you like fireflies 
swirling around a light.

The roughness of the world, the off-track-ness, the folly
that you see, these are the most precious gifts you
will receive in this lifetime.

They are not here to distance you from the world, 
but to guide you into your contribution to it.

The world was made with a you-shaped hole in it.
In that way you are important.
In that way you are here to make the world.
In that way you are called.

One Little Word

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


The only way to find true happiness is to risk being completely cut open.
Chuck Palahniuk

Based on a post on Shutter Sisters One Word Project on their blog I found out about a course Ali Edwards is doing for Big Picture Classes called "One Little Word".  The object is to pick a word that you want to focus on for the year.  The word doesn't necessarily define you it is something you simply focus on as you go through the year and you see what happens with your word. As you go through the year you build a journal, scrapbook of the experience.  The photo above is one of the coverpages of my scrapbook. 

Since I have been working on making some significant changes in my life in the last few months I felt this might be a good thing for me to try.  So I signed up for the course and started thinking about my word.  Many words came to mind, among them, authentic, mindful, present...but none of them seemed quite right until one day it hit me "open".  That would be my word. 

For most of my life I have been a very closed person, I didn't let anyone past my wall.  I can even envision my wall in my imagination if I want to.  I can remember specifically being this way when I was as young as seven years old.  For most of my life I simply assumed that people didn't get me, or were intimidated by me or just didn't care enough to understand me.  I don't even know how I came to the realization last summer that the problem wasn't likely other people it was me.  But when I really looked back with an open mind and heart I realized that even as a seven year old I had a wall between myself and the rest of the world.  

Honestly I have no idea what causes a seven year old to build that kind of wall and why through to adulthood I felt I had to maintain it but back at the beginning of December I decided it was time to start taking down the wall.  I saw how the wall was preventing me from truly becoming the person I wanted to be because this closed off person simply could not communicate what she really needed to even to the people she loved.  I realized that a wall built that long ago and reinforced regularly would be difficult to move so I sought help from a counsellor who has helped me see that in part my wall is there because I don't feel I am good enough.  I don't feel that people will like me so I put up a wall so that I don't have to care if they like me.  The issue with this is that no one ever gets to know the real you...and you live a very lonely life. 

So I am happy to report, slowly but surely the wall is coming down.  My relationships with everyone from family to co-workers are deepening.  I'm am far from having this mastered, but I am trying.  I am committed to being open to vulnerability, intimacy and deep, true fulfilling friendship.  It is difficult to lay bare your soul, but it is the only way to truly live.  So I 

Love Walks on Four Furry Paws

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Animals are such agreeable friends - they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms.  ~George Eliot

I absolutely adore my pets, they are such an important part of our lives.  I think it is simply the unconditional love and acceptance they give us.  Where else can you find that?  Perhaps it is due to their short memory span but I also find animals show us the perfect example of "being present" and "in the moment".  When I scratch my dogs ears all he is thinking about is how good that feels, he isn't worrying about work, house cleaning, grocery shopping or any of the day to day things that clutter our brains.  

The truth is I too could curl up in a sunbeam and have a nap, the problem is most days I simply won't let myself do it.  

This is Sam, my cuddle buddy.  He is an overweight Shit Zhu who still manages to be perfectly content with his physique and who doesn't ever beat himself up for eating that extra Milkbone.

This is Trixie, a more recent addition to our household.  She is a sweet and gentle 12 year old lab/rotti cross.  Her ambitions in life are the pursuit of breakfast, supper and a 15 minute walk.  If she gets that she is at peace with the world and everyone in it.

This is Lexi my part-time dog.  She means so much to me that my ex-husband and I share custody of her.  She comes for sleep overs and often goes to work with me.  She is happiest on a hot summer day when she has her kiddie pool full of water to play in. 

Now I am not sure this guy has the unconditional love thing mastered, his love seems to be contingent on his food bowl being full.  But this is Max our asthmatic Siamese cat.  We adopted him when he was 8 months old because no one else wanted him because of his health issues.  I still say now he saw us suckers coming a mile away but we love him and while I don't know anyone else who would put up with a cat that sneezes all over their house we love him.

The difference between friends and pets is that friends we allow into our company, pets we allow into our solitude.  ~Robert Brault

I also wanted to acknowledge that I have my first follower on my blog.  Thank you for taking the time to look at my photos and read my blog.  This is a very new venture for me and somedays I really wonder if I have anything to say or post worth someone's time but I certainly do appreciate you. 

Frozen Lake Trek

Sunday, January 9, 2011

This afternoon we grabbed the camera and our snowshoes and went for trek across Echo Lake.  We are so lucky to live in such a beautiful area, people from all over the world want to live here and yet sometimes it is so easy to take it for granted.  I was trying to follow the advice of the inspirational Irene Nam and this weeks assignment for the Simple Soulful workshop to see the beauty in everyday things.  With that in mind I snapped the following photographs of our afternoon.

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