Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Out of Chicago - Part Two

When I was presented choices for classes, workshops, and a 1 on 1 with a professional photographer at the Out of Chicago photography event, I chose Bryan Peterson for the one day workshop and Matt Kloskowski for a 1 on 1 critique of my photography.  I wrote about my adventures with Bryan Peterson yesterday, today I will profess the feedback Matt gave to me. First, I want to tell you what a really nice guy Matt is. He is the exact opposite of Bryan. Humble, kind, gentle, warm, friendly are all the characteristics that I would use to describe Matt. And I say that not because he gave me a glowing assessment of my work, but because he truly is a well centered person.

Matt and I corresponded via e-mail to establish a meeting time and place, how many images I should bring, do I print them or bring them on a zip drive etc. He indicated that he has a method that he can record the feedback along with the visuals so I have access to his critique by having all my images on a zip drive. Bring about 20 images, oh Lord with my gazillion or so images on multiple portable hard drives what pictures do I bring?  I spent most of the afternoon Wednesday deciding and choosing, changing my mind several dozen times. I held my breath as I approached the session.

He used words like fresh, clean, a great eye, sees things he would never see, would enjoy going on a photo-walk with me. I was overwhelmed and needless to say extremely flattered. I spent about an hour and a half with him, just one on one. I am still basking in the glow of his kindness. And to top it off, I attended one of his classes on Sunday afternoon with a roomful of attendees and he asked if I was in the audience then told everyone there I was a great photographer. Surreal.

OK, enough of that. I appreciate you letting me blow my own horn and how grateful I am for the validation.  Prior to the critique I arrived in the city about an hour early, it was a beautiful day, so instead of waiting inside, I walked toward the lake and snapped a few images of  Chicago. It is truly a beautiful city, I would encourage a visit, just don't come in January.

Love this red, white, and blue combo....

And ofcourse when you see a man with his pants pulled up, socks pulled down (at least one of them), sunning on a park bench it's just a picture waiting to happen.

I probably won't be around for a few days, off to Dayton, OH to spend the 4th with my sisters-in-laws. Love those ladies. And taking the kids along too. Will finish my tales from Out of Chicago next week.

"People usually consider walking on water or walking in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don't even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child - our own two eyes. All is a miracle. ~ Thich Nhat Hanh 

Until next time.....

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Adventure Begins

The event booked in January as a treat and Christmas gift to myself had finally arrived. I set my alarm for 5:00 AM, which is still the middle of the night (in reality it's about the time for my nightly get up to pee) for one who likes to sleep until at least 7:00 AM (or later), drove to the train station, lined up with all the others with sleep filled eyes to begin my journey to the Out of Chicago Photography Event. For a brief moment I actually considered staying at home, only for an instance tho, because we so rarely have fog in our area. What great opportunities I would be missing, and then I hit myself on my forehead, brought myself back to the moment, and thought "what the heck are you thinking??" Miss this great event for fog?? So I snapped a couple of foggy train images and boarded the train for a 4 day adventure.

The event didn't officially begin until Friday evening, however we were given the opportunity to register for workshops Thursday and Friday.  My workshop for the day was with the iconic Bryan Peterson, author of  the #1 selling photography book on Amazon, "Understanding Exposure", which btw he was quick to mention. Our class was small in size, only about 14 or so, which made it easy to stay together and hear Bryan point out various spots that we needed to try with new eyes and new settings on our cameras. Not new, but different than what I was used to.

This is Bryan's settings to bring everything in focus from front to back (altho my front focus was a bit fuzzy probably because if I had put my camera any lower it would have been in the puddle) manual mode set your meter at 1, use a wide angle lens with a setting at 16mm, set your F stop at 22, and your ISO around 100 or adjust accordingly. As you can see, the fog was still hanging around, especially around the Willis (aka Sears) Tower.

After struggling to stand back up (you know I am at that age where getting down is one thing, getting back up is quite another undertaking). We stopped by a pillar that was loaded with posts, graffiti, old posters etc and stood there for a good 10 minutes. I won't bore you with pictures of torn pieces of paper. Instead I shot the L train which had a beautiful blue building as the background....

Next, our challenge was to capture interesting backgrounds with shots of Bryan.  I chose his finger instead of his face, thought the background for his finger was more colorful than what was behind his face from where I was standing.

Moving on, our next challenge was to capture stop motion with high shutter speeds.  And being the shy, unassertive (wink wink) person that he is, Bryan became our model for a "windy" city illustration.

With that same challenge we walked down to Millennium Park to the Crown Fountain. A unique concept which combines tradition with urban pop-art. The fountain is composed of two huge LED screens which project the faces of ordinary Chicagoans. The water spouts from their digital mouths, creating a playful water feature for the enjoyment, albeit wet, playground for all.

After class concluded, Christine (who I met in Bryan's class) and I walked to Panera for dinner. Christine became a fast friend, she and I seemed to be of the same mindset. She was quite a few years younger than me, but when you share a passion like photography, age is irrelevant.  We met up for different classes and at mealtimes. She lives in the Chicago area so hopefully we will see each other again sometime in the future.

I managed to arrive at the train station in time for an express train, 35 minutes as opposed to an hour, bringing me home around 6:00 PM.  Friday's adventure was a one-on-one session with Matt Kloskowski to critique my photography and the Opening Night speaker with Rick Sammon.  Stay tuned for more notes, photos, and adventures from Out of Chicago.

"And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it."  ~  Roald Dahl

Until next time......

Monday, June 20, 2016

A New Adventure

Hydrangeas blooming in the backyard

Hmm, I am sitting here on my kitchen stool, staring into the computer screen, wondering what I am going to write that would be of interest to anyone. I don't want to discuss politics, Lord help us....I don't want to ponder on the recent horrific shootings, or the two little ones who wavered off the path and came face to face with danger.

I don't want to talk about how lonely I have become since Bailey left, it was that extra life and vitality that young people bring that I miss.

I don't want to talk about my sweetie and how difficult it was yesterday (Father's Day) to remember him before Alzheimer's took him and left an empty shell and how he used to say "I don't want anything except a little love and affection" when asked what he wanted for "Father's Day".  Me, on the other hand would have a list when it came to "Mother's Day" or birthday, or Christmas.

Tiny bouquet from backyard flowers

So my chin is dragging a wee bit and it's hot outside, and we could use another good rain. But I do have events coming that will help with that chin dragging.  This weekend beginning Thursday, "Out of Chicago" Photography event is scheduled. Way back in January when it first hit my email inbox I decided to take part and register. It was a healthy chunk of money but I told myself it was a belated Christmas present to myself. (I can always come up with some logical reason to spend money). So Thursday from 8-3 I am attending an all-day event with Bryan Peterson. On Friday I have a one-on-one with Matt Kloskowski to critique my photography (scary thought), a kick-off talk and an evening photowalk.  Saturday is filled with different classes from street photography to flower macro photography. Sunday is another photowalk and a couple of other classes. So. as I said this should bring my chin dragging up. I have never done anything like this, so it will be a new adventure.

The back porch

Eleanor Roosevelt said "Do one thing everyday that scares you." 
 I know I don't do something everyday that scares me, but this new adventure does. 

Until next time.....

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Happy Father's Day

                                                       Happy Father's Day

Friday, June 17, 2016

Thank You for Letting Me Share....

Yesterday I felt like a celebrity with all the congrats and well wishes here on the blog as well as on Facebook. I so appreciate the kindness and it was fun to share with all of you. With Bailey gone (I know I keep saying that, but I truly miss her) and with neither son or daughter or my sweetie here, there was nobody to share that momentous moment when I opened that package with the magazine inside. Thank you again for letting me share that joy with you.

It was quiet around here yesterday afternoon. We really have no little children left in the neighborhood except at the other end of the street so the only sounds I usually hear are the birds chirping (which is mighty pleasant), or the squirrels of which we have at least 5 running up and down the tree limbs or along the back fences, a car or two, and motorcycles.  We have two households that have a motorcycle. One is an exceptionally loud rumble, rumble, the kind that likes to announce his comings and goings and the other is an older gentleman that takes his out for pleasure, ambling slowly down the street, as discreet as possible. Occasionally, depending on the way the wind blows I can hear the happy sounds from the kids at our communal pool.  And ofcourse, my kids (the dogs) bark at anyone or anything that dares to walk by our house. so protective of their kingdom. Now you know why I am keeping my fingers crossed that whoever buys the house for sale next door falls into that quiet category.

With all that quiet I grabbed my camera with the BIG lens and walked across the street where there is a large retention area with lots of tall grasses and wild-flowers. It's a good place to spot a bird or two which is the real reason I purchased that big lens.  As soon as I raised my lens to my eye, I saw this......

And then right next to her was obviously her mate.....

The lens performs like binoculars, bringing into sight objects that I might miss with just my eye. Altho, admittedly it's a lot heavier than binoculars. It's difficult to keep it steady, I might have to break down and use a tripod. UGH!  Birds don't stop and pose for you so I'm not sure how that is going to work.

Spotted this in the grasses....she is a female Red Winged Blackbird

And he is the male Red Winged Blackbird

Walked over by the pond and found at least 25 male Mallards and 2 females (why only 2??) snoozing on the grassy banks. Obviously I interrupted their nap and the Mister wasn't too happy.

Today my newly planted daylily bloomed for the first time....her name is Entrapment. Pretty snazzy name, but I think she is right snazzy with her deep pink ruffled petals. There are lots of blooms so Entrapment will keep me dazzled for quite awhile.

"There is not one blade of grass, there is no color in this world that is not intended to make us rejoice."  ~  John Calvin

Until next time......

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Life Is Good!

A couple of months ago I received an email from Marta inquiring if she could use one of my photos for the cover of the magazine she worked for.  Well, that blew my socks off. And what is so ironic is that this is a Texas magazine (where I grew up). Obviously I still have some of that Texas in me for a gulf coast magazine to reach out to this midwestern gal. I have been in the midwest far far longer than I ever lived in Texas, but some of those southern genes just stay and never leave.

Ofcourse I said yes. My only request was that I would get credit for the photo, which as you can see, they did.  I received two copies in the mail on Tuesday, one that I shared with my B&N group on Wednesday, now I am sharing with you.

Let me tell you, it's quite humbling to be singled out from afar to publish a piece of my photography. My friend, Sarah, from Paisley Rain Boots, recently had a whole article along with photography and her wonderful story-telling published in a well-known lifestyle magazine. I can imagine her thoughts when approaching the magazine rack at her local B&N. Admittedly I won't have that same awe, since gulf coast healthy lifestyles is not published around here, but it doesn't extinguish that same sense of wonder to see your photography and name published.

Congratualations to us both and to all those who have been singled out for their talents and there are many. My only regret is that I didn't begin this love of photography much earlier in my life, but I will keep at it until my hands can no longer hold my camera or my eyes can no longer see.

"As much as I love music, in my mind, photography is what makes me the happiest - that's for sure."   ~  Julian Lennon

Until next time.....

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Whose Winning the Population Battle??

I am not sure who is winning the population battle in my backyard between the robins and the sparrows. The sparrows are like little piggies at the bird-feeder and the robins love splashing in the bird baths which in turn drives me to continually fill the feeder with birdseed and add the water for bathing.  There was a time when I didn't feed the birds in the summertime, I felt that there was plenty of rations in nature that it wasn't necessary. I still believe that, but now I do it for purely selfish reasons, I enjoy watching the birds.  If it wasn't for the feeders my porch sitting entertainment would totally diminish. Between the regular feeder, the finch sock, and the hummingbird feeder I have continuous delight throughout the day.

Today was B&N day and we had quite a group, counting from memory (which varies from time to time) I think we had nine today. I love it when so many come to visit. The only down-side is that when there are that many, there will be different conversations at different ends of the table. I want to hear it all, but it's just not possible. It's our connection time which now that Bailey is gone, I really need.

After B&N, I decided to grab a bite to eat and take a stroll down by the Riverwalk, with camera in hand.

I honestly don't know if this is a grass of some sort or a weed, but I love the feather like branching.

The orange day-lilies were in bloom.  I do love day-lilies, they have hyberdized them so that you can plant just about any color you want from the traditional orange, to yellows, to pinks, purples, reds and whites. I planted a new one this year, right now it is full of buds. I am anxiously awaiting that first one to pop to actually see the true color.

And these sweet little daisy-like flowers that I honestly think are some type of weedy wildflower. No matter weed or wildflower, it's a charmer.

The front gate arbor is covered with this lovely Etoile Violette clemantis. I planted this many years ago when the trees were just saplings. Now they are covered in shade for most of the day, but they still manage to bloom their little hearts out for a short while.

It's been hot, but we had a good rain yesterday and last night so the grass and garden are happy, which makes me happy.  Toby, on the other hand, was not happy. He does NOT like rain, nor thunder, nor lightening. I guess Mother Nature can't please everyone.

Tomorrow I will share a sweet surprise!

"Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one."  ~  Dr. Seuss

Until next time......

Monday, June 13, 2016

For the Mouth Speaks What the Heart is Full Of.....

Oops, missed blogging two days in a row, but you know what, that's OK. It certainly didn't mean I didn't have joy filled days. It was dance recital time which always brings me great happiness.  This year Lisa decided to base her program on Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, primarily on the old movie where Gene Wilder characterized Willie. It's been years since I have seen that movie and after seeing Lisa's production I feel the need to search Netflix or Amazon Prime to enjoy it again. And it's always delightful that the people sitting behind you (who have no idea who you are) chat about how wonderful the show is, and how much craft, time and effort is put into the production, especially by Miss Lisa (my daughter..... insert proud mother)

Here's us, me, Lisa and Bailey. Bailey and Boone (the cat) came home for the weekend from her current job assignment in Champaigne, IL. to dance in the recital. And then she left again yesterday afternoon to return. It was a short, very short visit....and it feels a bit empty without them. Because she is staying in a Residence Inn, they allow pets so she was able to bring Boone. Makes her so happy to have someone to cuddle with after a long day of work.

Yesterday morning I went to church and the first words that our Pastor spoke was to talk and pray for the victims in Orlando, FL. Up to that point I had not read a newspaper or turned on the TV so it was a shock to hear of such devastation fueled by hate.  He continued with a reading from the Gospel of Luke 6:37-38
37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

And continuing to verses 43-45,

43 “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit.44 Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. 45 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.

Such lessons to be learned from these few verses, inwardly do not judge or condemn and outwardly forgive and give good things from the heart.  "Hate will never win", to quote James Cordon from the Tony Awards last evening. 

"In the external scheme of things, shining moments are as brief as the twinkling of an eye, yet such twinklings are what eternity is made of - moments when we human beings can say "I love you," "I'm proud of you," I forgive you," "I'm grateful for you." That's what eternity is made of: invisible imperishable good stuff."  ~  Fred Rogers 

Until next time,

Friday, June 10, 2016

H & H

Remember a couple of days ago when I wrote about the hot shower, the coolness, the possibility of turning the heat on??? Well, forget I ever said anything. Today, the temps reached almost 100 and the humidity rose right along with the heat. Did I say turn the heat on....forget it, the AC is blasting as I write. It's almost too hot to sit on the porch, and when I say that, you know it's hot. Not much keeps me inside, especially on June 10th (aka early summer).

Drinking coffee and catching up with the news this morning was pleasant, but I could feel that H&H (heat & humidity) sneaking in. (and so could the squirrels)

By the time I was back home after posing for a portrait for our church directory, it was damn hot. I haven't posed for a portrait in probably 10 years and that too was for a church directory, only last time it was with my sweetie.  This time it's just me. felt a little off-balance. I had been told that there would be a black background, and not to wear black. Darn, that's so I chose bright pink, the polar opposite. The photographer took about 7 poses and thru the magic of digital, I was able to choose the pose I thought was the most flattering immediately. And yes, the pink was a stand-out against the black and with my blonde grey hair the portrait was to my liking.  My kids are getting a 5x7 whether they want it or not.

I stopped on the way home at a park with the idea that maybe I could spy a bird or two with my new lens, but it was so hot and so windy, I didn't step foot outside of the car. Great adventurer I am?? As I was backing out of the parking lot, I spied red on a tree, hmmm. I grabbed my BIG lens and snapped a few pictures, and no, I still didn't step out of the car, merely rolled the window down, being the great adventurer that I am.  Can anyone tell me what kind of tree this is? It has those whirly bird/helicopter seedlings but they are RED, not green. The leaves don't look like a maple either. I could probably search the internet, but it would be easier if someone just told me.

Stopped at Walgreens to pick up a couple of "out of" items and passed by a display for Starbucks Frappuccinos. Decided quickly I needed one of those to enjoy on the back porch. Enjoyed the frappuccino, but the heat was too much and drove me inside. My body takes more than a day to adapt from the 60's to the 90's.

"Ah, summer, what power you have to make us suffer and like it."  ~  Russell Baker

Until next time.....

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Small Gifts

Yesterday was a beautiful day, as was the day before and the day before that. A little on the cool side and with the breezes out of the north, I felt a chill envelop my body. I know, this is June, but when those north winds blow, it gets mighty chilly in my house. In the summertime I get no direct sun in any windows or doors in my humble abode. Now normally that would be a good thing, until you get that chill in June and there is no warming sunlight. I came mighty close to turning the heat back on, and then I thought, what?? this is June.

I started shivering about 7:30 PM. When I get this cold the only way I seem to be able to warm the body is to 1) either climb in a hot tub or 2) a hot shower. I opted for the hot shower, standing there letting the hottest water flow over my body until the water almost ran cold, I finally stopped shivering. My body was aching and then it was about that time I thought, NO, I can't be getting sick. Chills, aching bones = flu. I swallowed down 3 Advils,  crawled into bed, under the warm covers and drifted off to sleep.

About 10:15 the phone rang?  Who calls at 10:15, except "bad news".  By the time I reached for the phone it stopped ringing, and then I heard my I-phone message alert. The phone rang a second time. Now my heart was banging in my chest, obviously thinking something had happened to my sweetie.
I reached for the phone with trembling was Bailey. All was fine. I had left the garage door open with the light on. My good neighbor across the street had tried to reach me via my cell phone, but I don't take my cell phone to bed with me. When she couldn't reach me, she texted Bailey (off in Champaigne, IL for work). So to make a long story a little shorter, it took my neighbor right across the street to contact Bailey in Champaigne, IL to notify me that the garage door was open. I love neighbors who care. Thank goodness we live in a very safe neighborhood, but it is not a good idea to leave your garage door wide open with the light on. It's like inviting someone in to "shop" around.

By the time the garage door was closed and my heart calmed down, I realized I felt better. So the flu passed me by (thank goodness, who wants to be sick in June??).

The moral of this story is, take hot showers and have good neighbors!!

"We pray for the big things and forget to give thanks for the ordinary, small (and yet really not small) gifts.  ~  Dietrich Bohnoefer

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Hangin' Out

Good morning, I am hangin' out over at Focusing On Life today posting about my happy place. Come join me there.

"One of the things (Uncle Alex) found objectionable about human beings was that they so rarely notice it when they were happy. He himself did his best to acknowledge it when times were sweet. We could be drinking lemonade in the shade of an apple tree in the summertime, and Uncle Alex would interrupt the conversation to say, "If this isn't nice, what is?" So I hope that you will do the same for the rest of your lives. When things are going sweetly and peacefully, please pause a moment, and then say out loud, "If this isn't nice, what is?"  ~  Kurt Vonnegut

Until next time.....

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

A Light In The Dark

"Summer has filled her veins with light and her heart is washed with noon."  ~  C. Day Lewis

Until next time....