Tuesday, January 31, 2012

D is for DOLPHINS!

This past November, when family from  Colorado was visiting, we went on a whale-watching cruise and saw lots of DOLPHINS

My niece, her husband, their 3 little girls and I had first spent the morning at "The Aquarium of the Pacific" in Long Beach. On a whim, we decided to take the 3-hour tour that went out at 3:00PM. It was a gorgeous day, but with a bit of wind beginning to pick up. 

As we motored out into the open sea, it was exciting to view all the sights in the marina. We passed by the retired cruise ship The Queen Mary, a small light house, oil refineries, and SeaPort Village.                                                                                                                                  
The kids had never been on a boat and were having a grand time. So was I! This was heaven for me. As we got out to open water, someone  yelled out Dolphin!  Sure enough, there was a large pod of them swimming in the wake of the boat!
                                                                    I was just as excited as my 6 year old grandniece, Sammi!

After about an hour and half into the cruise, it became quite windy and chilly, which made for some very choppy waves. People were getting sea sick; my niece included. Sammi and I were fine and having fun, but getting tired. We went into the cabin to rest and that's when we missed seeing the juvenile gray whales, but by then was too tired and did not care!Besides, I was thrilled with seeing all the dolphins so it didn't matter.

I have a fantasy to swim with dolphins. Perhaps someday I shall be able to do so!

        Have you ever had the opportunity to swim with these lovely creatures?

Sunday, January 29, 2012


Exploring your rules.


Like everything else, photography has rules, and this week's photo journal prompt is to address the picture-taking rules that have been drilled into my head and discover how they may be inhibiting my artistic growth.

 I think of the main areas in composition-rule of thirds, subject not in the center, keep it simple;not too busy.

This past weekend, I was shooting photos at the beach  but when later viewed them on the computer, I made changes because  the "rules" told me I should not have my picture look like that. Others I deleted because they were "too busy."  I did not want to keep these photos only because they were wrong-according to the rules.

Too busy, centered focus , not divided into thirds
But I like it!

The photo on the left is the original, but the tree is centered.      
The cropped version on the right lost some of the scenes, just so the tree would be out of the way. I like the original better and feels more spread out and relaxed. So what if the tree is in the middle? The palm fronds splay out like an umbrella and seems to encompass the entire scene.

I wanted the rock as my focal point when I composed this photo but  did not follow the "Rule of Thirds." 

When I cropped to make it fit the rule, I lost both the rock and the focus on it's striations. 

The photo below also breaks all the rules but it's one of my favorites from the batch. Centered, yes, but it's balanced. Busy, yes, but I wanted to capture all the colors and ambiance of the scene. No rule of thirds -unless you count color - (yellow, green and blue)

 Doing this assignment brought on a flash-black from childhood. I was in third grade and the teacher ridiculed me in front of the class, because I was trying to color my flowers in a non-traditional color. That incident helped to squelch any artistic talent I may have had.

Guess I'm a late bloomer.

Monday, January 23, 2012


a2z: Take 2. Patty Wysong Helping bloggers blog.

When you hear the the word COMPOSITION-what comes to mind?  For writers, you probably think of an essay or article. For musicians, you may think of  written music and the scores written by early composers. For painters, it could be a work of art.
  definitions of composition include:
  1. The act of combining parts or elements to form a whole.
  2. The resulting state or product.
  3. Manner of being composed; structure 
  4. Makeup; constitution 
  5. An aggregate material formed from two ormore   substances: a composition of silver and tin.
I want to focus on the first definition of combining parts or elements to form a whole. 

In writing, you chose a topic, and theme or purpose, followed by the structural elements of the introduction, body, summary and conclusion.

Some of the elements used in musical compositions include the structure of musical notation, running theme and use of instruments.

Painting composition consists of the focal point, balance, spacing, shapes, tonal values, dominant color theme

 Since I'm studying on-line photography my  current focus is on Photographic composition. Some guidelines include:
  •  Pick a subject- What are you trying to convey? Subject should be the focal point
  •  Decide on orientation-Landscape or portrait
  •  Fill the frame- get in close
  • Rule of thirds- subject not centered in the photo
  • Find the balance- symmetry or asymmetrical
  • Point of view-angle that the photo is taken from

In the photo above, my subject was the entire lamp. I was practicing on using different types of lighting and points of view.
                 The orientation had to be portrait due to the lamp's  height.

This photo's point of view has the focus on the fairy on the swing. The branches were included as points of reference or grounding.   

                     The stained-glass lampshade is the focus in the photo below                                                                                        

In this photo I added another item to the scene- a Lucky Bamboo plant. I like the other-worldly feel it brings to the composition. Note the change in orientation.  I was unable to bring the fairy into focus-not sure what I should have done. 

I find it very interesting that composition covers  so many different forms  yet has many of the same principles.  
Are you a composer? What are some of the compositions that you are creating?

Thursday, January 19, 2012



Last week, one of the assignments was to take my favorite photographs and organize them into an "Inspiration File" This week, I was to study the photos and determine a common theme as to what makes the picture a favorite. Suggested choices were:
 Subject and location
 Elements of design (space, lines, color, shape, texture, and form value)
Use or absence of color
Message and emotion.

I had a running theme through the 24 photos in my file-the first being color, followed by texture, lines, and lighting. I was aware that I was attracted to bold colors, but had not noticed the textures and lines before. As these traits are listed above as elements of design,I wanted to study what that meant. What  I learned is that

Elements of Design are the foundations steps in works of art.
Color-Depends on how the light hits the objects.
Lines-Continuous movement of a point in the photo. Can be straight, wavy, curly, etc.
Texture-Perception of being able to feel the surface
Shape-Area that has a boundary
Space-Perception of height, width and depth
Value-relationship between light and dark on the subject or surface projecting depth and perception. Also known as tone.

Here are some of my favorite photos and my thoughts on why I like them
This photo of the orange lilies was from a point and shoot camera. I really like it because it feels like a Georgia O'Keeffe painting. I learned that the blur was probably due to shaking the camera in the close up. 

It was a very blustery day when this photo was taken and the sky really was that color. It was cold and about ready to storm. I like the heaviness of the clouds, but I'm not seeing movement in the trees.

I live near an airport and sometimes, the planes reverse course, flying low across my neighborhood. I never tire of seeing these big machines. I  like the crisp color of the sky, the texture on the mountains and the lines on the jet.

I never realized that a Lantana flower had so many different shapes within it! I love the colors and shapes.

The photo of the fish above, taken at The Aquarium of the Pacific,  seems to cover all my preferences- bold color, texture of the water, use of light and lines.

This was a fun assignment and now eager to expand on what I've learned!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

B is for BLIMP

 A new meme originated by Patty Wysong.   Click here to see more or to join the fun!   http://www.pattywysong.com/2012/01/a2z-take-2.html
A couple of months ago, I went outside to photograph the spectacular sunset and discovered a blimp circling the area.
 I've always been intrigued by these beasts of the sky and think it would be grand fun to ride in one! I've never been up close to one, though  I have a memory from age 6 or 7 when I was living in San Diego,California. I recall  playing alone outside and suddenly, this humongous blimp glides over our rooftop. Somehow, I already knew about the aircraft  and was not frightened, but was certain it would land on the house or at least scrape the roof as it passed by. I'll never know if my perspective was accurate, for no other family member witnessed it. (Back in those days, it was safe for a child to be alone outside)

I found an interesting website that explains the differences between blimps, zeppelins and airships.  http://www.airships.net/dirigible. (I love learning!)

"A dirigible is any lighter-than-air craft that is both powered and steerable (as opposed to free floating, like a balloon).  Blimps like the Goodyear blimp, rigid airships like the Hindenburg, and semi-rigid airships like the Zeppelin NT are all dirigibles.
The word “dirigible” is often associated with large rigid airships, but the term does not come from the word “rigid,” but rather the French verb “diriger” (“to steer”).
A rigid airship has a framework surrounding one or more individual gas cells, and maintains its shape by virtue of its rigid framework and not the pressure of its lifting gas.
A zeppelin is a rigid airship manufactured by a particular company, the Luftschiffbau Zeppelin of Germany (the “Zeppelin Airship Construction Company”), which was founded by Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin.

A blimp (technically called a “pressure airship”) is a powered, steerable, lighter-than-air vehicle whose shape is maintained by the pressure of the gases within its envelope.  A blimp has no rigid internal structure; if a blimp deflates, it loses its shape."

A semi-rigid airship, like a blimp, maintains its aerodynamic shape from internal gas pressure, but it has a partial rigid frame, usually in the form of a keel, which supports and distributes loads and provides structural integrity during maneuvering.
The modern Zeppelin NT, such as the one currently carrying the Farmers Insurance logo, is a semi-rigid airship rather than a blimp."

                                                                                          I was curious about the name on this blimp so I Googled it and discovered that Hanger 1 is a brand name of vodka, and the company was doing a promotional blimp tour in 2011. This photo was take November 29, 2011, near San Bernardino, California.

Not sure why the blimp in the photo appears flat-perhaps my angle or depth of field. Well, at least I captured the gorgeous sunset! I  still want to ride in a blimp- but not on this tour- thank you!

Monday, January 16, 2012


Lesson 2 of the on-line  photography course I'm studying- "Finding Your Eye"  http://kateyestudio.com/online-courses/find-your-eye-photo-courses was to organize my favorite photos into an Inspiration File, which I keep on my photo organizer site. 

For Lesson 3, I was to look over these photos and find a common theme, then find a familiar subject that fits the theme and shoot 50 pictures at different viewpoints. A list of questions encouraged thinking through the process.

My photo themes are varied, but its seems that the common bond is color-lots of color.Therefore, I decided to photograph the toddler playground at my church, because of the bold  colors of the climbing structure, and the ease of taking shots at different angles.

When did I feel the most interested and excited? The beginning was the most intense because there was so much potential. It was an overcast morning and no kids using it at the time.

When did I lose track of time? After the first couple of shots- I really got into it! At first, I was not even aware of the comings and goings of people.

How do I like the end result? I was amazed at the cool shots and points of view the camera captured.

Did my favorite image change between capture and review/edit? I must admit that I did not even check out the photos as I snapped them-just kept going! Ended up with 56 views.

When did I feel most frustrated or want to stop? Why? It was just before I did stop because I felt like there was nothing new to capture. About 30 minutes later, a group of cute little kids came out; that would have been fun to shoot! (I was busy cuddling babies in the nursery)

How did I find the experience of photographing a familiar subject with intent? It was exciting and eye-opening. I never considered the different angles of  the structure before this assignment. Of course, this was an easy photo-op; what if it was something small? How creative could I get?

What did I like or not like about the experience? I liked that I had an excuse to climb into the structure. I'm thinking now maybe I could have gone down a slide? I don't know- I'm an overweight middle-aged woman out alone in a baby's toy. :)  There were a few passersby, but no one said anything. I did inform the children's ministry director of what I was going to do, so had her permission. I do not like that my photos tend to have a bluish cast to them, Not sure what's happening.

What would I change next time to suit me? I would allow more time and to wait and let ideas come to me. How fun it would have been to wait for the kids to come out so that I could photograph little hands and feet at work- without compromising their privacy! 

This was a good learning experience- and fun! Must plan to do it more often.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


This is day 1 of the "Finding My Eye" online photography course I'm taking.


I am instructed to answer the following questions:

Why do I take photos?
What draws me to photography?
What are my motivations?
What keeps me excited and interested?

Why do I take photos? I've had to think hard on these questions and still unsure of the answer. I've always enjoyed taking pictures since I was a young adult. I loved capturing the activities that I was involved in. I had no children of my own, but  did have a niece and nephews, so enjoyed photographing their cuteness! I've always been aware of the beauty of nature, and would note small things others would miss. I've seen how the wind will shake spring blossoms from the tree and they drift down like a gentle snowfall. I've seen early morning sunlight glint off the dew-coated grass of a large field. I've seen a field of wheat dance in the wind as the sky was heavy with dark clouds. All were such stunning pictures in my eye. I wanted to capture that beauty; the joy I felt observing the scene. It's only been in the last few months that I've taken the next step in my desire to learn photography, yet I still cannot say why I do it.

What draws me to photography? As noted above, the simple things in creation attract my attention. It's becoming an obsession- everything I see is a potential photo! I'm driving and note a vignette and think: "That would make a nice picture." (Rarely do I stop and do so.) I'm drawn to bold colors and interesting shapes.
I appreciate incongruence in a scene. What I mean is, something in the setting that is unusual for the scene. For example, after a hard rain last month, our local mountains were snow capped. I liked how the palm trees stood out against the frosted peaks and blue sky.

What are my motivations? Because I enjoy it? Good question. I'm still trying to figure that out!

What keeps me excited and interested? So just why am I spending time and money to learn this stuff? I still need to dwell on this. I will come back and add answers when I get them! 

Monday, January 9, 2012


YAY we get to do this again!   A new meme originated by Patty Wysong. Click here to see more or to join the fun!   http://www.pattywysong.com/2012/01/a2z-take-2.html

This year, because I'm studying photography, I will frequently use topics and pictures from what I'm learning. This week's focus from the Digital Photography Basics class is on lighting and how it sets the mood for the picture.  http://kateyestudio.com/online-courses/digital-photography-basics

Have you ever noticed that when you take a picture, the resulting photo is not the same as what you saw with your eyes? Many times, I was  excited about the photo yet disappointed when the resulting picture did not accurately display what I was seeing. Why didn't the vivid colors and shadowy lines appear? Why did the scene look so flat? 
 I've since learned that the camera has a sensor in it, and reacts to the light sources around it. Basically, light is a major part of taking a picture that evokes emotion.

Per Webster's Dictionary, the definition of ambiance is "A feeling or mood associated with a particular place, person, or thing."  Lighting sets the mood for photos and is a very important part of the overall composition and that is what this first lesson is about. 

My first week assignment in this course was to take an object that I really liked and photograph it in different types of light and then compare the settings and discuss what feelings were evoked from the picture. 
The crystal droplets on this candlestick is one of a pair that was gifted to me from beloved friends when they visited Germany. To me, the  brass ring of multi-faceted  glass teardrops is beautiful, and when placed in bright light, glistens with prisms of color.

From this lesson, I learned about different types of light:

1. DIRECT SUNLIGHT - Over head or midday sunshine casts deeper shadows, brings out vivid colors
2. INDIRECT SUNLIGHT-Cloudy/overcast day, shadows, window light, It has softer, less defined shadows. 
The "Blue Hour" is the hour just before dawn and just after sunset. Cast blue tint
3  EVENING LIGHT- "Golden Hour" is the hour just after sunrise and the hour before sunset and it creates a red-gold hue and long shadows.

1. INCANDESCENT- yellowish light with gives off soft warm feel
2. FLUORESCENT- provides a bluish-green cast
3.CAMERA FLASH- Sets same light for entire photo. Not effective for providing definition of shadows
 4. CANDLE/FIRE- warm yellow to red light

Part of the assignment was to photograph the object in the same location, but with 3 different variants of natural light and compare side to side.  For this lesson, my camera mode  was set at Automatic without flash (Program or P). The white balance and ISO were set at Auto.

         The photo on far left seems to have a less defined wall and more definition on the crystal drops. 
The second photo shows more definition on the wall but the teardrops fade into the background.
The third photo seems closer to the first, but with the reddish tones on the wall from the sun just about to drop below the horizon.
 The direct sunlight shot shows  the intense shadows and I see a bit of sparkle.

When I photographed this next set of pictures, it was from inside my hutch cabinet where I keep other crystal pieces and whatnot. There are two bright white bulbs overhead and my eye saw the sparkle in the glass. The lighting was  like what I've seen in jewelry displays at the store where the bright light reflects  off the item causing it to sparkle. 

But as you can see, that is not what my camera recorded. What a shock! Note the brassy tones. However, when I go back and reread the description of different forms of light, I'm reminded that incandescent bulbs set off a warm yellowish light. Okay, that  made sense. 

 Just for fun and because of the incongruence of the setting, I placed the  glassware on the  brick wall in my courtyard. The  early morning sun was to the left. I did not even notice the bougainvillea flower was part of the picture until I uploaded the photo to the computer. I was too busy focusing on the crystals. This shows me I need to be more careful of what else may be in the composition!
The above photo was also taken on my patio, but it was a shady area. Talk about incongruence! The dirty table was so unbecoming a setting for the lovely candlestick!

Here is another set of comparisons. 
To  my eyes, the wall is a pale blue-gray color
Photos are definitely more pleasant to look at when the flash is not used!

The last part of the assignment was to use a Photoshop type program to adjust  the pictures. I used Memory Manager and StoryBook 0.4 from Creative Memories http://www.mycmsite.com/sites/vickifitch  to modify photos.
It's amazing to me to learn and see how much a difference there is with light and placement of the object or photographer! I really like the adjusted black and white version because it sets the mood by focusing on the intricate beauty of the crystal. That beauty is what my eye saw and what I was trying to achieve in the photograph.  Was I successful?

Speaking of ambiance, Mari has graciously offered to create  a blog design for me!http://www.free2bedesigns.com/
  I want to go for  it, yet don't know what I want. I don't have a  set blog platform but at this time, am focusing on photography.  I want to be open to some writings, perhaps a devotional, and of course, stories about my girls!  Can you help me out with some  ideas?