Sharing the beauty of the world through photography and writings.
"When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence. " .... Ansel Adams
Welcome to my blog for photographers and nature lover's around the world. I hope you enjoy my chitter chatter about life, nature, gardening...and a little bit of kitchen.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


(Added KK texture 1402 magic at soft light and then 1402 at screen, merged layers, duplicated at soft light. Voila.  Dreamy...dreaming...out the window...dreaming of spring...soon to come.)

'The only thing standing between you and your dreams is....reluctance.'

..and fear, low self esteem, frustration, exhaustion...and maybe even some pure silliness.

There are days...I had one of those very recently...where I just wanted to shout out...or try to sing out... 'I am woman......' because I had such a great visionary day.  A lift in attitude that had my day so awesomely awesome..even though the only thing that was really different was my attitude. It. Felt. So. Good.

Why do I let things get in the way of that feeling and bring it down?  Because I am truly frustrated with certain aspects...too many ...aspects of my world right now.  I know what the main factor is.  I know.  I know what needs to be done to fix it.  There is one factor standing in the way and I keep praying and hoping that it will 'happen' I can get back to focusing on being that upbeat, positive, happy go lucky, down to earth....ME.

Winter doesn't help.
Winter.  Doesn't. Help.

I took the above picture almost a year ago...wanting to make an attempt at 'self portraits' and then one thing led to another with that 'factor' that needs to change....and I...had to go a different direction...or rather...wasn't able to take this other direction that I keep dreaming about.

I need to take control.
I need to be brave.
I need to stop blaming it on other circumstances.
I need to take that one...giant...step, focus, smile, hold my head high and sing....'I am a survivor....'.
I.  Need. To. Believe. In. Myself.

I can do this.  I can.

I've discovered a wonderful support group.   A meetup group.  'A Woman's Journey' group.  I've only been to one get together but it was the best.  I'm scheduled to go to the next...and I'm participating in a '90 Day Challenge' and can't wait to get started.  March 1...will be day one.

If you are in the Milwaukee area, join us at the next meeting.  The host of this group is trying to get this to be worldwide.  Helping women find their passion, meet their goals, making a difference in the world.

I discovered also, that same night, The Passion Test.  It brings so much emotion to my heart and soul.  Some much needed...looking forward to activities.

Are you middle aged?  Stuck in a rut?  Thinking it's just too late to 'start over'...or even just figure out what your ideal world is like?  Check out the passion test.  Check in to the meetup group of 'A Woman's Journey'.

Grab a support person and help each other make it to the finish line of a goal, a project.

Take a 90 day challenge.  Tackle it and complete it...and take another.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Little Bit of Sybil

The things I want to do.  The themes and challenges I want to tackle!!!  The list is getting longer. The challenge is ...inspirational and much needed.

I found this while browsing....The Third Thursday Challenge.  Merely...learn and share something new.  It works because I can use it along side of my 2B class from the ever inspirational Kim Klassen which I try to focus on Wednesday nights.

This week...I learned to install a new preset in LR4.  It took me a bit and I had to use a few extra steps than were originally defined...but it works.

I learned how to add a little bit of soft light to my photos...when I need to.  I do have some awesome windows in my old two story farmhouse also that spills awesome lighting to use in different rooms at different times of the day. Frustratingly..many times it is when I am at work..inside those four walls that I don't really care to be inside of...but I get to enjoy the 'light' on the weekends and even in the evening...when the winter blues aren't sharing my life.

I want to try to gradient to add light in a different shot to see how it works and compare it with the LR way that I was shown and see how different they are.  Maybe tomorrow night as tonight...I was a bit interrupted with a phone all and am running really late.

Meanwhile...the above shot was actually one of my first attempts to take the inside out and I wasn't pleased with it...for that.  I decided to use it with my 'Sybil' mood tonight (texture by Kim Klassen - SO THANK YOU!!!).  Sybil.  She brings a little bit of that 'crazy' out of me. feels good.

First I added the new preset (also compliments of Kim Klassen) in LR4 and then it to PSE to add not just one...but four layers of Sybil, blended first with soft light, two layers at Color Burn, with fourth layer at soft light again and brushed the soft light off of the flower itself.  I love the grainy texture it added to the vase. I also brushed the last of the soft light away from the heart in the background because I wanted it to be noticed....if only  a bit.

I'm really loving Beyond Beyond.  It's an awesome mix of camera basics, Photoshop and Lightroom...just all kind of mixed up in a happy bucket of inspiration.

Join us, won't you!!!

PS...this was taken on Valentine's Day, it was snowing, and I thought the little red vase was just perfect...oh..and yes...the daisy (my favorite) from the bouquet my sweetie left me. Smiling.  really smiling.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

For the Love of Pelicans

 It was the day before Valentine's but I am pretty sure these two found the true meaning of love....and they took my heart in the short hour that I sat and watched them.

They shouldn't be here.  It is the midwest.  Middle of February.  Winter is not over.  They never left.  They found a small little dam area that has provided just enough open area to allow for feeding and a very large following of ducks and geese to keep them company...and maybe even warm.  I truly believe though that the warmth they get is mostly from the love you can see between the two of them.
This picture above is the one that got me.  When they finally decided to get up and head to open water, they literally walked, side by side, step for step, as if hooked at the hip.  When one stopped to preen and stretch, the other stopped and preened and stretched.  In unison.  Together.  In love.

In this picture above, the one closest to us is the male.  If you look really really close, you can see the slightly swollen hump on his upper bill which is where the larger growth will be during mating season.

In this picture below, the one standing is the female.  They actually has a darker neck and I'm wondering if she isn't a bit younger.

 In the very top picture, the shot was taken just as the sun was setting and the lighting was absolutely awesome which also provided for the reflections.  It was well worth the wait.

Below was a brigade of geese (there was a fifth just behind that isn't in this particular shot) that was meandering over after their feeding on the grassy area where visitors come to through out bread.  It was fun to watch.  You could see they were walking slowly and carefully so as not to fall and slip.  Every once in a while, you could see one of their webbed feet slip a bit.  It made the entire scene seem as if they were trying to sneak up on the gang in front.

This is just a sampling of all the other ducks that were present in this area.  This shot also was taken just as the setting sun was throwing some awesome backlighting on the subjects.  (Who says you need all those expensive lights?)          
 This was my Wednesday Walk and Click.  I'm not sure how I am going to be able to top it.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Downtown Texture Tuesday

I think I found a new favorite texture...Sybil.  Well...I am a green fan...and I love Sally Field...who is the person I always think about when I hear that name.

I love this little duck.  She really wasn't alone.  Standing on a frozen lake, one leg tucked up.  It was single digits.  I just don't get how they don't get frostbite.  Must be those downy feathers.  She was surrounded by many others...but they were just far enough away (merely inches) that I was able to focus on just this little one.  All poofed up.  Deep in thought.  Probably of warmer days and warmer water.

Taking an afternoon siesta.  Or..maybe just slowing down the metabolism in a kind of hibernation stupor?  Maybe.  I just wanted to grab her up an cuddle with her.

The rest of the gang can be seen here....on my post for Wednesday Walk...tomorrow...February 20.

(Taken with my Nikon D7000 and Tamron 200 - 500, edited with a layer of Sybil at multiply and Edith at soft light and brushed off at 50% from the duck herself. Quotes....unknown author and I just couldn't chose which one I like the best. They both stirred tremendous emotions for me.)

Sunday, February 17, 2013

2BD4 _ Inside Out

It snowed last week on Valentine's Day and I attempted 2BD4 photo challenge trying to capture the snow and Valentine's the end...just being frustrated and not happy with the results. I cleaned house yesterday...and dusted the wine bottles off that were in the wine rack...the lightbulb lit!!!  Yeah!!!

#1 above is simply edited with KK_musicloving because of course with wine and daisies, you have to have romantic music!!

 #2 Above is edited with KK Painterly..about three layers of it in different blending modes, the first couple in multiply and the last in screen at 50% and removed from the shadows as that is what I like most on this shot....the shadows... and then framed.

#3 Below is textured with frosted...which has been my most favorite lately.  I tried every blend mode there was and ended up with the last being dissolved which I've never used before and really liked here.  I brushed it off of darkers areas of the labels, the shoe wine stopper, the wine in the glass and of course, the vase and daisy.
 #4  I loved the shot with the glare from the sun coming around the corner of the tree.  I used urban texture first, two layers, multiplied and finished it with..well I think it was KK..thelittlethings. (I really need to start writing these down as I do them.)

#5 I shot this one without looking through the viewfinder.  I just set the camera on my hand so as to keep it out of the snow and let it focus and shoot.  Thus, the slant, which I decided not to straighten and the view itself.  I added a preset of yesteryear in LR4 first and then took it to PSE and added textures and unfortunately could not remember which ones on this one. Actually...I believe it was KK Partings. I added in multiply, another layer in screen at less than 100% and another layer to darken the bottom a bit and brushed the darker off of the top. (I promise to try to be better about providing exact steps.)
 #6 This was actually the first that I edited and it has layers of frosted, partings and coffee, tea or me with textures removed from the bottles, etc. was 7 degrees outside.  It was a quick shoot resulting in fingers that I could not feel and salt traipsed into the house after having mopped the floors...but it is those simple little challenges that I love about creativity...especially when it involves my Nikon!!  Did I say...Yeah?

The toughest step was just trying to decide which view I like best and which edited version I should share so...enjoy them all and let me know which is your favorite.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

SumUp Sunday 02/10/13

To My Granddaughters...and future grandchildren,

In hopes of...across the miles...we can stay connected and you can grow up...knowing me....because I love you...and miss you so much...... my best friend, Lexi.  You've seen know...on Skype...sleeping next to me on the couch while I chat with you.  Her most favorite thing in the world...outside of biscuits, eating, and chasing her snow.  She was born in January..therefore, she is truly my snow baby.

She is an old soul...just the right energy level for me and she loves to walk in the woods...just like me...your grandma. week started with me going to find this red barn that I discovered some time ago and I so wanted to capture it with snow around it.
Needless to had some...but not as much as I hoped for. It was cold out....bbrrrrr...and I just couldn't be out there in the below freezing temps but I drove my car around...parking on the side of the round in all kinds of directions (thankfully on a side road not much travelled) to capture it in many ways.  This one I liked...because of the texture in the road.  Another...I sent to your  Great Uncle Philip to see if he could paint it. He does some kind of painting on the computer.  Kind of cool. I'll share more versions with you next week on my website.

I stated there wasn't as much snow as I wanted and if only I had waited a few days.  On Thursday we were blessed with an absolutely awesome snowfall...the wet kind...that sticks to the trees. The below though is when it just started...lightly falling.  This lady was walking by my huge picture window at work...across the street from me and, of course, the colorful umbrella caught my eye.  I was trying to capture a shot like what I have seen your cousin Chelle post on her Facebook.  This is no where as impressive as those that she posts from Korea but was the umbrella I liked.  (At my age...for some reason..I am so attracted by bright colors.)

 So the snow fell..quickly in the afternoon and I came home to this.... (my back yard and my driveway)

 The next morning at work, the parking lot..reflected the morning sunrise on the snowladen branches....

So...I thought...when I leave work I want to find a place I can go to capture the beauty the Dear Lord blessed us with so I headed out to one of my favorite places, with Lexi in the Horicon Marsh where I go on a regular basis to find what wildlife...bird life mostly...that I can sit and watch and enjoy. This relaxes me and makes me tremendously happy.  Needless to bird life was found and the gates to the road tour area was closed (very disappointed) but we found just the perfect time of the evening...

These are the things your grandma loves.

Birds.... they are a big part of my life.  I think maybe I was one sometime in the past.  I just seem to 'connect' with them somehow.  Owls are my favorite and yet it is so difficult for me to enjoy them in the wild. Next...aside from song birds such as the blue jay (for reasons I can explain later...don't let me forget) are Pelicans.  White Pelicans in particular.  These birds I first discovered in Texas when I was out camping with your Aunt Lorry.  Lake Somerville.  We went for a bike ride down one of the  trails and came upon this water area, that I guarantee you....had hundreds and hundreds of White Pelicans gathered together.  It was so breathtaking.  I didn't have my camera with me.  I stopped and took a deep breathe and thought....I have to go back.  I have to get my camera.  I just have to.  Well...I learned something that day..and that is...enjoy it while you can..enjoy the moment that you have been given. Enjoy it then...when you are given it...because it will not last forever.  

I went back for my camera and returned to that spot to capture a picture of....nothing.  Not a single pelican remained.  Not even one.  Sometimes I wonder if it hadn't been a dream...but your Aunt Lorry promised me they were really there.  They really were.

So...I've discovered them again here in Wisconsin.  Horican Marsh is where I see them every summer.  I hope some day you can come see this amazing place with me.  I just know you would enjoy the variety of life you will find here.  They usually are not here in the winter but a photographer friend of mine discovered these over a month on the frozen tundra of a local lake...near a dam area that had open water so they could feed.  Finally this weekend I decided to go see if I could find them.

Guess what?  I did.  I found them.  I wish I had been there just a little later in the day because they were taking their siesta and were bedded down on the frozen lake..and although the sun wasn't shining...all the frozen white ice camoflauged them so they blended in quite well in my pictures.  I was lucky in that they did actually move around, ever so slightly, but enough to capture some nice photos.  This...made me happy.

And along with them...were these....

Lots and lots of ducks...mixed in with a few geese, a coot..some ice fishermen and the far distance. was warmer...and rained...and I sat inside and did my taxes and Dave's taxes and dreamt of spring and gardens and walks in the woods..and the near future when i would see you, your mom and your dad.

I love you, Dear Ainsley and Lucy. I love you.  Be good for your mom and dad.  Be good.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

2B - Day 3

Another one of those 'serendipity' moments.  Probably not the best for what this Day 3 assignment had in mind...and not what I had initially intended on doing for this project...but it happened.  I came home after an awesome ride home in an awesomely gorgeous snowfall and just started snapping pictures in my yard.  This little snowman sits in my yard during this time of the year.  Normally...unnoticed for the most part.  Covered with snow caught my eye more than usual.  So I captured it's profile...far and near.  If I had thought that I would use it for this project, they might have been a bit more different...but I think I was thinking more of the fact that it was snowing...wet with limited time as I had an appointment to go to.

I downloaded onto my mac and well...I decided it would work for this.

The one in the top left hand corner has KK frosted texture added to it.  This is also one of my first uses of the lightroom templates...and it took me forever to figure out how to get it printed to just a jpeg file.  (duh!!!)  In a rush and decided to be like a 'guy' and not find the directions that I know are at my fingertips as I skipped over that chapter of KK Roundtrip and definitely need to go back through it all again.

So today....this I wait for the day to warm a bit more before taking a long overdue walk...I must say I am proud of myself...for discovering something new. For learning something.  For accomplishments.

For KK inspiration.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Thank you Kim

Dear Kim, I do have a frequently asked question that I ask myself every day and that is 'How do I keep up with the awesome inspiration that Kim Klassen provides us on a daily/weekly basis through all the life stuff/creativity that she shares?'  I am addicted.  It is awesome and so heart warming to hear things can't keep up with your emails...which I just couldn't imagine that you would be able to...because I myself, simple little me, can't keep up with the few I get everyday.  Well, it doesn't seem like a few but in reality it is and I know they are no where as close to the awesomeness you receive in your email every day.  I be you.  To not be stuck in a four wall office everyday, pushing papers, entering data, filing, dealing with the micro managing of...that other person.  To be able to take two walks a day with my 'model', Lexi, my Golden Retriever. (Ben is gorgeous. I love your posts with him and with that picture....I would love to nuzzle his neck also!!!  lol)  

I get to your posts... a day late and a dollar short...knowing that now I post as you have moved on to the next...and my little words probably aren't heard.  (As I repeat what I have been trying to grasp a hold of right now and that is....'this is my life and I love it'. Yes...does that sound convincing?)  So...I've heard it many times and now will put reminders on all my 'I' pieces of equipment to check in with Kim K on a daily basis to see what inspiration she has and chat with her (in answer to her posts).....for twenty one days in a that is supposed to help make it a habit.  It will be the first thing I do every evening when I sit down in front of this computer.

Your posts, each and every one, no matter how extensive or how simple....are life inspiring to say the least.  Yes, mentoring.  What a wonderful idea.  How about a hands the field class.  I for one would fly to your part of the world to have a few days of face to face inspiration with you as I am sure many would.  Your own 'Camp Kim'.  Or maybe you could have a Camp Kim in each state...thus not only allowing maybe smaller groups to attend but also to give us each a chance to meet who else might be in our area that we can meet up with and share our womanly life with through socializing.

I'm single.  Living in Wisconsin for nine years now....moved from and humid Texas to   four seasons of the midwest.  I work way too many hours at a dead end job....dreaming each and every day of getting out of it...going back to work at a garden center....hoping and dreaming of getting my photography up and running to be like....Kim Klassen some day...before I die.  To be recognized.  To have others around me that have that this same passion that I can chat with, take day trips with, share life with...on a much more regular basis.  (Solidtude of four walls is quite unbearable!! many days.)

I love to go out and shoot.  Just shoot what tugs at my heart.  I love to go to events and photograph what I find.  I hate doing it by myself.  I'm much more comfortable with it if I have others with me and can do it as a group...because then I don't feel like I am 'invading someone's privacy?'.  Because...they help me be brave?  Because then we inspire each other and it is so awesome to be surrounded by others that have a love for the same creativity and can share with us and open up to us other things in life that we may not have noticed before.

Face it...women are awesome!!!  We need each other.  Each others inspiration.  Each others passions and inputs and 'it's okays'.

I guess what I am trying to say is...I love the way you share your life with us, your inspiration, your creativity. Your openness to a certain extent.  You make me feel 'normal' and make me realize that 'life is good'. I so need that now at this mid life point of mine. So.....

Simply put....thank you!!!

Monday, February 4, 2013

2B - Day 2

Kim Klassen brings us another inspirational year with an exciting expansion to include some Lightroom  tips and tricks.  So excited and looking forward to learning more.

I used a photo I took last week at a restaurant with my 50mm that I took just by setting my camera on the table, using a large aperture, not looking through the view finder and snapping.  The cup came in clearly for the most part with the table cloth and napkins being out of focus, also resulting with some bokeh (one of my favorite things) in the background as reflected off a fire that was keeping us warm and cozy.

I used KK texture Minus 43 and I really am going to love using this one more often.  The font is Sweetly Broken.  One of my favorites...just wish I could make it bolder.

Life is 'an enchanted cup'...and believe sparkles...through the good and bad.  Enjoy..every sparkle it sends your way.  Enjoy.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Spring Spring Spring

Super super excited....Phil, the Groundhog, is predicting an early spring.  Can I saw loudly and clearly....WOO HOO.

(My personal groundhog...I have named Harley....ground 'hog'...Harley...hog.  It works for me. Under my apple tree in summer last year.  )

Groundhog or woodchuck...I asked myself.  Well...they are one and the same.  The largest member of the squirrel family also called a ground squirrel that can climb trees and swim in water.  This little one had clearly come up from the Milwaukee River at the foot of my property as she was totally wet when I first sited her. They are one of the few mammals that totally hibernate somewhere between October and April, waking in the spring to raise six little ones.  Their spine is lined with two layers of fur.  They let out a high pitched sound when alarming the approach of a predator and they have their own little bark and grinding or chattering of the teeth when upset and protective. (This I know for a fact.) And...well...they are just downright cute.

Thank you for predicting an early spring this year.  Thank you.

Can not wait.  Early spring.  I do love the winter...when it is about 28 or 32 or 35 and covering us with a fresh blanket of it did last night (oh is 7 degrees out).  I have a new found love of getting out and photographing when it is snowing...not necessarily when it is 7 degrees.  I love the four seasons but I hate the length of the extremely low temperatures.  A day or two here and there, fine.  It helps me slow down. (Which is my one little word project for this slow down.  Maybe it is the Dear Lord's way of helping me out.)  I find...that as I go through the years...I'm a woos about the cold...or just getting ....lazy. Nah.  Just. Need. To. Slow. Down.

Spring. Tulips.  Crocuses. Daffodils.  New growth of tree cover. Migrating birds.  Pelicans returning.  Daily trips to the Horicon.  Hikes in the woods. Spring flowers. Sitting out on the 'patio' drinking coffee and writing.  Sunrise.  Sunset.

Digging in the dirt.  Digging in the dirt.

I just can't wait.  Super excited.

For now....a day of riding the roads for a fresh blanket of snow covered landscape.  In the cold.