Back to the Beach

I’m guessing you’ve figured out from yesterday’s post on coffee filters that I have finally and truly run out of things to write about. Or I have totally lost my mind. It’s a tossup. The big snow storm that had been forecast for Thursday night into Friday went south. I mean that literally. Rochester got hammered. We got zip.

So today I am featuring two final images from our L.A. trip. That’s how desperate I am for material. These were taken with my waterproof point and shoot camera on our last afternoon before taking our niece and her mom to the airport. Speaking of whom, they are planning a long trip to the U.S. in September/October.

My husband and I had been holding off on committing to a trip to Australia this year because we couldn’t figure out a time that would work with our house construction. We had started to kick around the idea of September, when our house is scheduled to be featured on a home tour. Then we got the email. They will be here from mid September until the end of October. Awesome news!

Today I Learned

You know how cone coffee filters never seem to fit properly? It always seems like you’re sort of cramming it in and mashing it down with the lid. That’s because you’re doing it wrong. You know how the side and the bottom of the filter are reinforced? Turns out, you’re supposed to fold along the side and then the bottom before putting the filter in your coffee maker. Then it fits perfectly.

I am not making this up. Go ahead and read the box containing your coffee filters. This instruction is on the back. Unless you use one of those crappy Mr. Coffee basket style filters. Those things are completely idiot proof. How did I live to the age of nearly 53 without knowing how to properly use a coffee filter? What else am I doing wrong without knowing about it?

Speaking of coffee filters, I tried to buy some yesterday and the store was out. They had the number 2 and the number 6, but not the number 4. The 4 has got to be the most common number. Speaking of numbers, what does the coffee industry have against odd ones? Why is there no filter number 3? Apparently there is a filter number 1, but I’ve never actually seen one. (No pun intended)

Just a Bit of Tap Dancing

Back in late December, when I gave myself the challenge of posting here every day, I knew it wouldn’t be easy. Then I was lulled into a false sense of security, because I had this huge backlog of photos to share. So I cruised through January and well into February before running out of obvious material. Writing about photos took precedence, so I didn’t even bother writing about anything else.

Unless something really funny or interesting happened. Which wasn’t often. I think I wrote about 10 non-photography posts in the last two months. Our house continues to progress. I’d say on schedule, but I haven’t seen a schedule, so I can’t be sure. The roof trusses went up while we were in Phoenix and the sheathing was added this week. Next up is exterior insulation, roofing and windows.

The weather continues to be beyond bizarre. It reached 62 degrees on Tuesday, which set a new record high for Minneapolis. The storm that is forecast to start tonight and continue into tomorrow is now predicted to bring 4-8 inches of snow. I am totally conflicted about it. On the one hand, I want fresh snow for the photo ops (although a few inches would be plenty) and on the other hand I don’t want our house progress to get held up.

Here’s one last photo from the Arboretum orchid photo session, taken with Jane’s Lensbaby Velvet 56. I’m contemplating buying one.

Now What

I seriously think I’m starting to run out of things to write about. I’ve pretty much exhausted my backlog of current photos and I’m not planning to get out with my camera again until this Sunday. Yesterday morning’s fog just about killed me. I gazed at it longingly out the window, desperately wanting to throw on my clothes, grab my camera and jump into the car.

But my husband was sleeping in for the first time since we arrived home from Phoenix and with Ripley up and rambling around, there was no way to make a stealthy exit. So I restrained myself. It hurt, since I haven’t used my camera for over three weeks.

Hopefully there is a light at the end of this tunnel. Jane and I are going to the Arboretum again this Sunday and there is three to five inches of snow in the forecast for Friday. Our intent is to give the orchids another shot, but it would be super sweet if we could have another go at photographing outside with some fresh snow. I’d like to make a few more images like the one below.

A Peek Behind the Curtain

I’ve written before about my photographic “process.” That’s not really a good word for it, but I can’t think of a better one right now. There’s two aspects of photography that bring me the most joy. The first is going out and making images and the second is sharing those images. The middle bit (processing) can be fun, but often it’s just a necessary evil. I’m going to talk about the middle bit today.

I took this photo out of the Arboretum conservatory window when Jane and I were there photographing the orchids. I also took another image of the same subject, just slightly more in focus. I was having trouble deciding which one was “better,” so I sent them both to Jane to get her opinion. She liked the dreaminess of this one better, but felt that the bright perfect circle of lens flare was too distracting.

She perfectly articulated what was subconsciously bugging me about this version of the photo. Ironically, the lens flare was softer and less distracting in the second, more focused image, but the rest of it was less compelling. So I did what she suggested and cloned out the bright spot, which resulted in the version on the right. It’s substantially better than the original, but I still felt something was lacking.

Specifically, I thought it had a little too much white space in the upper right corner. So I cloned a few spots and used them to fill in around the edges, giving the perimeter a little more definition. I also felt some of the branches were a little light in color. I didn’t want to increase the contrast any more, so I did a little burning to bring out more definition. The changes are pretty subtle, which was my intent.

I generally don’t like to get too heavy handed with my editing in Photoshop. But sometimes a little bit of tweaking can take an image from good to great. I think that’s the case here. Pay no attention to the (wo)man behind the curtain, The Great and Powerful Oz has spoken.

Old Trucks

This marks my fifth post with photos from our visit to the General Patton museum in California. Which is amazing when you consider that we spent less than an hour there. Even more amazing is that I’m pretty sure I have enough photos remaining for another post or two.

I guess I shouldn’t be completely surprised that I managed to get so much great material in such a short period of time. It’s all about being in the right frame of mind as well as having inspiring subject matter. Last week on Facebook, I featured our 2007 trip to Europe for my random photo of the day.

That trip covered four major cities and lasted about ten days. I was hard pressed to find seven images I really liked to feature for the week. This week I’m posting photos from a three day trip to Amsterdam and I had enough great material to cover two weeks.

Is Amsterdam that much more inspiring than Paris, Copenhagen, Brussels and London combined? No, but the trip to Amsterdam was just my husband and I bumming around for a few days with no particular agenda, so my eyes were constantly looking for and finding great images. The bigger Europe trip was a family one organized by my dad, who thinks you can see everything you need to see in the Louvre in less than an hour. It’s hard to be inspired when you’re operating under that kind of pressure.

Collection Completed

I have a bit of a Doctor Who obsession. More specifically, I was completely infatuated with the fourth Doctor (Tom Baker) when I was about thirteen. You can read all about it in this post

At the time I also wrote about how I was only five episodes short of completing my collection of all the Tom Baker episodes (42 in total). A year later I had acquired three of those five. Amazon had the remaining two listed on their site as unreleased and I put them on my wish list. Somehow I thought that would magically alert me when the DVDs were finally released.

Apparently that doesn’t happen. For some reason the subject of Doctor Who came up the other day and I decided to search for the two missing episodes. Both were released in 2013. One was triple the price of all the other episodes. I cringed a little when I added it to my cart, but dammit, I needed to complete my collection.

I waited until Thursday night to place the order, so it would arrive the first day after we returned from Phoenix, which was yesterday. I am now the proud owner of every single Doctor Who episode featuring Tom Baker. Someday I am going to have one hell of a marathon.


Purple Glow

We made it safely back to Minnesota last night and, as I predicted, there is absolutely no snow left on the ground.

This is my final round of photos from my first visit to the orchid exhibit at the Arboretum. I was attempting to get just the ruffled edge of one orchid in focus. I’m pretty happy with the results.

Just for fun, I tried a black and white conversion. Not surprisingly, it did not work at all. These images are all about the purple glow. They lack texture and contrast for B&W.

At least I managed not to completely mess up the background. The purple color comes from more orchids, completely out of focus. The light along the edge of the ruffle keeps it visually separated from the otherwise same color background. It also shows I learned at least one lesson from my online classes – the area with the best focus should also have the best lighting. Success!

Palm Trees with a Mission

Since we only came to Phoenix for a few days, I didn’t bring my camera with me. I thought about it, but knew I would just end up toting it here and back for no reason. Still, I feel a little bit naked without it.

So once again, I’m featuring some appropriately warm and sunny photos from our L.A. trip. These are of the Mission in Santa Barbara, which I wrote about once before, but I’m sure you’ve forgotten all about it by now. I know I have. I actually have to keep folders of images featured on my blog stored on my laptop so I don’t repeat myself. Repeating oneself is a serious hazard of old age. Only one of many, unfortunately.

I am really going to have to get out with my camera when we get back to Minnesota. My folder of potential blog feature photos is starting to get a little thin, unless I really start recycling some themes.

That is the downside of committing myself to posting every day. Obviously, there will be days when I’m really stretching for material. Meanwhile, enjoy this beautiful beach sunset.

Just Beachy

It just seems wrong to me to post snowy Minnesota winter photos while we’re still enjoying the warmth and sunshine of Phoenix.

So I’m going to stick with L.A. for a few days. It’s actually supposed to be getting into the 50’s in Minnesota this weekend. What little bit of snow cover there was remaining will be gone when we get home.

I’m not sure what purpose these flimsy little fences served, but I really liked the patterns they made. I tried a lot of different angles when photographing them. I never really got the effect I was looking for, but this blog isn’t about photographic perfection. It’s about experimenting. It’s about the artistic journey. It’s about finding inspiration in all kinds of subject matter. Cue the violins.

One thing I’ve discovered in going back through my photo archives is that a huge percentage of my images are travel photos. There are some years where it seems like my camera never left the house unless I was taking a trip. I’m working on changing that. But I still plan to post plenty of vacation photos. Like these.