Picture a Day | Week 1

There are two recurring themes in every book or article I read about improving your photography skills and that is to take your camera everywhere you go and practice, practice, practice. There is a community out there in blog land called The 365 Project where people with a passion for photography hone their skills and document otherwise forgotten moments in their life by committing to take a picture a day for a year.  Someday I would love to do that, but at this time in my life I have too many other responsibilities, priorities, interest, etc to take that on.  However,  I think I can commit to a picture a day for a week and then who knows, maybe I can do additional weeks in the future.  Even a week of focused picture taking will help me improve my skills.  My goal is not to search out amazing subjects but to take pictures of everyday items and/or activities in my life, working on the lighting and composition provided at the moment.

Here are the results of my first week.

Saturday, Aug 2, 2014 – a lazy morning sipping Pomegranate Tea and reading the paper on the patio.

2-Breakfast-on-the-patio

Sunday, Aug 3, 2014 – Afternoon walk on Waterfall Trail.

3-Walk-on-Waterfall-Trail

Monday, Aug 4, 2014 – Dinner.

4-Monday-Dinner

Tuesday, Aug 5, 2014 – Relaxing on the sidewalk.

5--Tues-nap-on-the-porch

Wednesday, Aug 6 – Driving in the Rain.

6-Wed - Glorius-Rain

Thursday, Aug 7 – Happy Anniversary to us!

Sparkling-Zin-2

Friday, August 8,2014 – Weekend road trip!!!!

8---Weekend-Road-Trip

Have a great weekend!

Linking to Hymns and Verses Find your voice Friday #1

 

 

Small Gatherings|June|Light Dinner Al Fresco

After work last night I had several errands to run and Dave needed to do some work in the yard.  We decided to get those things done then have a late dinner.  By the time we both had completed, it was close to 7:00 pm and still pushing 90 degrees.  The last thing I felt like doing was making a big dinner.  I started thinking about what I could pull together and then it dawned on me that I had picked up some of Sargento’s new tasting cheese at the store and that coupled with some sausage would be a perfect light, no-cook dinner.

dinner

I am pretty much in love with Sargento brand of cheese, it started with the low-fat cheese sticks and I was totally won over when they started making the Ultrathin Cheese slices.  These two items are always in my fridge.  This is not a sponsored post by the way, I just love cheese! When I heard that Sargento had come up with some new block cheese I knew I had to try it.  There are eight different varieties but I just picked up three, Brushetta Jack, New Zealander and Aged Wisconsin Cheddar.  You can see all the varieties here.  They are the perfect size for tasting and trying new items.

Sargento-tastings

They did not disappoint.  I paired them with some summer sausage, grapes, cherries, nuts, baguette slices, pretzel thins, and hummus.

light-dinner

Of course I threw in a few bottles of Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy.

SummerShantyon-ice

We enjoyed this light dinner outside (aka AL Fresco) on the patio and it was delightful.  A perfect ending to a hot, busy day.

dinner3

I am thinking this menu, with a few variations depending on what is in the fridge, will be making a weekly appearance in the summer rotation.  I have already thought of other easy items to add such as hard boiled eggs, roasted garbanzo beans, sliced red and green peppers, cherry tomatoes, marinated mozzarella.  The list is endless!

Have a great weekend friends!

Sharing at Foodie Fridays@ Rattlebridge Farm

Finally ready for summer!

I have always been in charge of any landscaping we have done around our house.  My husband does a great job of keeping the lawn looking lush and weed free but he has no interest in any flowers.  That was never a problem until the last few years when I started this process of joint replacement.  So far these new joints do not want to be on the ground crawling around and our landscaping has seriously suffered.

Before1

Before2

After whining and complaining to my sister about this issue for a few months she volunteered to come help me plant.  Linda is one of the hardest workers I know.  She and Steve live on five wooded acres that she keeps in pristine condition.  This lady’s idea of a good time is a fallen tree and her very own personal chain saw.

After about five hours of shopping for new perennials, planting and putting down 20 bags of mulch, I think we are on our way to recovery.

after

Hydrangea

daiseys

coneflower

Geranium

I have never had much luck planting flowers in my window box, I am sure it has nothing to do with the fact that I frequently forget to water the plants in it, but this year Linda suggested I just plant some hardy green ground cover and see if that works.

greenery-window-box

I think Cleo is thankful she has much prettier things to view while sunbathing.

cleo

patio

Thank you Linda!!

 

 

 

Indulge this new Oma…..

I am back in Houston this week visiting my new grandson and had the opportunity to do a “photoshoot” for this precious ten day old.

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The aunties are fighting over who gets to hold their new nephew.

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kayla-levi-saved-for-web

Levi even co-operated with a smile…..

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It is going to be hard to leave him but fortunately I will be back in a month for his baptism.

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For the sake of keeping it real, “This photoshoot is over Oma!”

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Sea Life Aquarium

Everything I have read about becoming a better photographer includes the advice to take your camera with you everywhere you go.  I am not very good at doing that because my camera is pretty bulky and heavy.   We do have a small Nikon point and shoot and we also have our iphones, but for me, if I am going to take pictures, I really want to use my Cannon 7D.  Just using it makes me a better photographer.

Last weekend, the Mr and I had an unusual Saturday without any commitments so we decided to go out to lunch and maybe do a little shopping.  I grabbed my camera and even put on my 50mm lens that I am trying to use more often.  This is a fast lens, meaning it does well in low light conditions.  While sitting at lunch we discussed how we would someday like to go to the Sea Life Aquarium which is one of Kansas City’s newest attractions.   Silly us, we were within walking distance of the aquarium, no better time than right now!

The admission price to the aquarium is very reasonable and discount tickets are available if you purchase them in advance.  As we were getting ready to walk in they mentioned that flash photography was not allowed.  I asked, “Does that mean non-flash photography is allowed?”   “Sure,” they answered.  Woohoo…….for once I was prepared!

Here are my favorite images from the aquarium, starting with the Jellyfish…

pink-and-blue-jelly-fish

pink-jelly-fish

Blue-jelly-fish

This guy was looking right at me….

Fish-looking-at-me

Red-Fish-thru-rope

shark

Stingray

There were so many other things to see such as creepy eels sticking out of the sand, colorful clownfish, starfish, shrimp and even seahorses.  I enjoyed it so much I would like to go back sometime.   They have many kid-friendly exhibits also, even an area where you can touch the fish.  If you are in the KC area or are planning a visit I would highly recommend a visit to the Sea Life Aquarium.

Is it spring yet?

I really should not complain, we have had such mild winters the past couple of years.  However, getting the season’s entire allotment of snow in 6 days is a little much.

snow-collage

I will admit that I like one good snow event a year, when you are forced to stay home all day and make bread, soup and of course brownies!  I also love to take a few pictures of the very dramatic snow.

kitchen-window

But now I am SOOOOOO over it!  Bring on spring!

Linking to Savvy Southern Style.

 

KC Pictures and Photoshop

I am working on a photography project for my soon to be completed main bathroom.  I want to do a gallery grouping of black and white pictures and have decided to use downtown Kansas City as the theme.  I took several downtown pictures last fall when I was taking a photography class, but I really have been wanting to take pictures of the Kaufman Center for the Performing Arts.  Since I am a bachelorette this week (DG is at the Sturgis Rally) I went on adventure this evening and took pictures just as the sun was setting.  Here are the color versions of the two I like the best.

When I got home I started looking at a few of the other downtown photos I have and started trying to select the other pictures I wanted to use.  I found one I had taken at the Richard Berkley Riverfront Park that I thought would look good in B&W, except there is a sign that really distracts from the composition.  Here is the original.

I decided to try some Photoshop magic and see if I could remove the sign.  I have to say that Photoshop is one of the hardest software packages I have ever tried to use.  It has SOOOO many features which for me just adds to the complexity.  After about 8 months of playing with it, I am finally making progress with its tools.  Here is the photo after removing the sign.

So do you think this cheating?  Before I started using Photoshop I must admit that I had a tendency think this was cheating.  I read some thoughts once on digital photo editing by Rod Hanna, a professional photographer, who embraces post processing by explaining it as no different than the tricks that were used in the developing room many years ago.   So I decided that if it is good enough for someone who has made his living from photography for fifty years, surely it is good enough for the likes of me who needs all the photography help she can get.  Besides that, it is just so darn much fun to play with pictures in Photoshop.

By the way, here is the B&W version of the picture above.

Steamboat Photography

As a student of photography, you could not ask for more picturesque vistas to experiment with than the landscape of Colorado.  The views beg for recording into lasting memories.  The subjects are so rich and varied that the techniques do not have to be perfect to create a good picture.  Here are just a few of my favorite images captured during our visit.

This was taken from the top of Mount Werner at about 10,000 feet above sea level looking down at Steamboat Springs which is approximately 6900 feet above sea level.  The next three pictures are taken on one of the Fish Creek Falls hiking paths.  The waterfall is 280 feet high.

This little guy was patiently waiting for us to share our lunch on the hiking trail.

This last picture I really enjoyed because it was such a surprise.  On the drive to steamboat I stuck my camera out the window and just started snapping photos.  It was difficult to focus on anything because we were traveling at about 65 miles per hour.  I was sitting on a shutter speed of 1/125 and an aperature of F7.0.  To me the cabin perfectly captured the beautiful but desolate landscape we were seeing.

I can’t wait to return to Colorado!

Saddleback Ranch and ATV’s

Steamboat Springs offers many activities for summer visitors, many more than we had time to participate.  One of the favorite places we visited was Saddleback Ranch, an 8000 acre working cattle ranch, fourth generation family owned and operated.  I can see why Saddleback is one of the top five rated attractions in Steamboat by Trip Advisor.

On our first visit we were taken by horse drawn wagon (or by horseback, if you prefer) to a lodge where we ate delicious steak, salmon and chicken served by the ranch cowboys, including the owner of Saddleback ranch.  After dinner we were entertained by a cattle roping demonstration, chats with the cowboys, and visits by the ranch border collies.

Our ride to and from the ranch included views such as this.

We returned to Saddleback Ranch the next day to take a two hour ATV ride across the ranch.   I was pretty apprehensive since I had never ridden an ATV before. During the ride there were countless “SLOW DOWN’s” yelled at Dave, especially at the top of the steep hills we encountered.  We took several breaks to make sure everyone was still with the group.  Our leader Jerad asked me more than once if I was doing ok.

Gotta love a cowboy that wears Ralph Lauren and Oakley sunglasses!  Colorado is experiencing one of the driest summers on record so we were warned about the dust we would encounter.  I wore a full face helmet and a bandana so I did not get dust in my face as bad as others in our group.

The views we saw while riding were spectacular.

I can honestly say this was SO MUCH FUN.  Of course I only admitted that once I was off the ATV and realized I had survived.

In the winter this two hour tour of the ranch is done by snowmobile and the dinner wagon ride turns into a sleigh ride!  They also offer several other activities including participating in a cattle drive and horseback riding.  When I return to Steamboat (which I will definitely do someday) I will also return to the Saddleback Ranch.  We totally loved our time spent there.