Monday, January 30, 2012

Weekend Rewind (jan 30 2012)

The weekend was calm, but busy as usual.  My son had an academic competition of which he was an alternate (still had to show up), but sadly did not get to compete (I think I was more disappointed than he was).  As a treat I let my daughter spend time at her favorite place - the barn - while I was with my son.  Our family dove into some of our decluttering efforts by going through all the DVDs in the house (no small task), and deciding which could go and which could be passed on to someone else.  I think we did a decent job without causing too much pain.  The remaining DVDs (still many many of them) were grouped into categories (drama, action, etc) and put into binders with sleeved pages to hold DVDs (tossed the cases).  I know some people who disagree with this process, but for us it freed up a ton of space in a cabinet - enough to put all the gaming CDs, controllers, etc., in the cabinet as well.  Besides, I'm hoping not to no longer find empty DVD cases laying around.  Sunday we split up, boys stayed around the house & played with neighbors, and girls spent the afternoon at the barn.  I got a chance to practice a little photography, and now I have new pictures to practice post-processing.  The pictures were taken with the purpose of fusing them in mind (we had some nice clouds and sunset colors). 

The above picture was taken Sunday.  Trying out new ways of actually taking/capturing the picture is always risky, but I do like how this one came out - not tack sharp in focus, but a dreamy feel.  The dust from the arena is nicely highlighted, and the sun's rays are barely visible (with some flare).

Hope everyone has a great week - I'm starting mine with a sore throat (from all the dust we stirred up in the far reaches of that DVD cabinet I'm sure).

UPDATE:  I've added this to Kat Eye Studios Photo-Heart Connection for January - because of the dreamy qualities (not to mention it is of my daughter & I am a very proud mother). 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Exploring with a Camera - Windows

Our state's lone star pride can be seen throughout Texas in fences, decorative artwork, and windows. 

This photo prompt was difficult for me for a couple of reasons.  I drove around looking for an interesting window(s), not wanting to add any one (just my own decision), and when I decided to use this window/transom I was very self conscience standing in the middle of our town taking the picture (does anyone else get really self conscience taking pictures out in the open?).

My funny story about this theme/prompt - I originally had a great idea (I thought) to take a picture of the windows in the restored turn of the century (1900s not 2000s) train station reflecting a modern train passing by.  Well, seems like whenever you are in a hurry there is always a train -- this time I could never time it right to be there when a train was.  One day I was at the store getting out of my car - heard the train whistle - jumped back in my car & actually went a little out of my way to ensure I wouldn't be on the wrong side of the tracks from the depot.  By the time I raced around to the old depot - the train was gone -- again - the one time I needed a slower, longer train - I got a fast moving short one.  I give up.  Actually I do plan to take that picture, but I will get it when I'm not trying so hard & I will share it - I can just picture it in my head & it is great (I hope).

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Focus 52 (2012) Week 4 - Leading Lines

Have to admit as soon as I saw the "leading lines" prompt, I knew exactly what I wanted to photograph.  Yes, railroad tracks are obvious and simple, but I like the way you can't see what's at the end and they are great for black & white.  I was lucky to have a rainy day, so there were clouds to add dimension.  I shot in RAW and JPEG Fine so I could add the HDR effect (adjusting the exposures on RAW) on this as well, but only to add that little extra something to the final photograph.  As a side note - I parked and waited for the all the cars to leave (I even drove out into the country to photograph a relatively traffic-free crossing) before I jumped out & quickly took a few shots.  I've heard it is illegal to be on the tracks (not sure); technically I was standing on the crossing.  Anyone else wait around, then jump out of the car to get the shot when no one was around?   

Monday, January 23, 2012

Weekend Rewind

This weekend our schedule was filled with our usual activities (sports etc), but we did have a totally new adventure too.  My daughter's barn decided to take advantage of our 75 degree January day & introduce a few horses to the beach & the surf.  It is always a lot of work going away from the barn, but it is worth it - it was fun for the riders/handlers, for the horses & especially for all the other beach-goers -- watching us.  Just wish the cleanup (sand, salt water) was as much fun (riders were wearing their paddock boots & 1/2 chaps).  Good news - I got some really great photographs (perfect photography weather - overcast, semi-foggy); bad news -- I lost a lens cap out on the beach somewhere... Our family did get a chance to relax and hang out together too (we even watched 2 movies)  - which we needed.  How was everyone else's weekend?  Do anything new or different?

Friday, January 20, 2012

Spring Cleaning in January

The calendar says January, but the temperature outside is in the mid-70s today and I probably should be outside enjoying the mild weather. In my region, we don't get snow, so no beautiful snowy scenes - we usually get some rain (which we need) and mud, sometimes cold freezing rain and mud - winter is not our best season (I'm sure this statement could be up for debate) - except that we do have days in the mid-70s.

There have been several free organizing ebooks available to download from Barnes and Noble lately and I have downloaded them all - inspiring me to do a bit of spring cleaning.  So with the air conditioner on in January, I am still breaking a sweat going through the pantry and the utility room; deciding what we can do without & what we really need to keep.  I have hopes that 2012 is my year to finally get it all together, decluttered, organized, & able to keep on top of my family's life (ha ha).  How are you spending your January days?  Personally I cannot wait to be able to go outside and see wildflowers like the ones pictured above in person instead of just reviewing them on my computer.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Focus 52 (2012) Week 3 - Black & White

This week's topic was black & white.  Again I headed out to a nearby state park (many good photo opportunities out there - not to mention a calming/quiet atmosphere) and noticed this scene.  Since it is the middle of the week & winter (although an extremely mild, beautiful day) there wasn't much foot traffic on the trails.  The sunlight was highlighting the moss hanging from the ancient oak (one of the things I really like about the park - the old-growth trees). 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Light & Love - SS

Today in honor of MLK - Shutter Sisters posted about light and love.  This picture of my kids looking out of a hotel window certainly has the light.  Where is the love?  Well, it is from me to the two of them, and although they are siblings and don't always get along I know they truly love each other.  I also can't forget about the love they felt looking out of the window - the hotel window - a place we rarely visit; they "love" staying in hotels - an adventure/treat.

I took this picture with my cell phone's camera (not an iphone or even an up-to-date phone), and considered straightening it a tad - but left it as is since it was a quick, spontaneous shot - I thought the flaws should remain. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Too Much Screen Time

Although I have been making great progress on my weekly task list, I have been spending way too much time looking at the computer screen, and especially software like this.  Going through pictures, making adjustments, etc, from an event a  month ago (yes I'm behind), is starting to get the best of me.  Too much sitting, too much staring; my eyes are crossing & my backside feels like it is spreading.  I may need to get outside tomorrow & take a walk just for a change of scenery.  I understand it was a beautiful day today - I missed it.  Maybe I'll catch it tomorrow.  Is anyone else looking at the screen a little too much lately?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Focus 52 (2012) Week 2 (Jan 8-14)

I am ___
Week 2 prompt:  "I am __"
My response:  .. keeping up (barely).  Starting the year off with my task list for the week, and although I am making good progress, there are still many things on my list and probably more will be added as the week goes on.  Often I find myself drowning in incomplete tasks, this year I'm hoping to  at least keep my head above water.
Not sure I answered the prompt correctly in that they wanted to know about you, but sometimes my lists are what defines me, frustrates me, keeps me on track.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Lemons in Winter

One thing on my to-do list, during my day of domestic duties, was to hopefully pick lemons from our Meyer Lemon tree.  Sadly they still aren't quite ready - they are so beautifully yellow & smell so good - cannot wait to juice them & turn them into lemon bars (one of my favorites).  We may not have the beautiful winter scenes with snow & mountains, etc., but we are able to have lemons in winter (along with limes (hopefully my next tree to plant) and mandarin oranges (new tree still looks sad)).  I guess I could call them organic as well since I don't do anything to help them - no pesticides, no special fertilizer, etc - the tree survives on its own. 

My lemon bar recipe is very basic - just can't mess with the natural sweetness of the lemon... I'll share it if anyone is interested.  Anyone else growing something ymmy this winter?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Forest Light

I took a walk through a nearby park today hoping to take a few wildlife pictures.  I did get a few (not sure if they are keepers), but also noticed the sunlight filtering through the forest canopy illuminating some of the leaves.  From that point on, my walk was to find more leaves, different colors, different shapes, etc.  Not sure if my photo actually captured how the light was coming through this brittle, thin leaf, but it was striking in person.

Check out my flickr photostream for other pictures from today's walk (link is on the right side of the page).

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year & Cleaning Out

Hope everyone had a safe New Year and has been enjoying their holiday time.  I am never able to stay awake to welcome the new year, but I do get up early to get a jump start on the day (& the new year).  One area I tackled this morning was coupons.  Coupons are my friend, my enemy, my source of clutter and frustration as well as entertainment.  I'll explain.
Coupons as friends -- they save me money (who doesn't like saving money)
Coupons are enemies - they are often for products that I don't use and they tempt you to buy something just because you have a coupon (too much for many people)
Coupons are clutter - there are times when coupons (& sales ads) are the only thing you see on my kitchen table - they become the kitchen table
Coupons are frustration - whenever I'm not able to keep on top of the clutter of coupons they tend to pile up very quickly, sometimes I overlook a coupon that I could have really used, other times life gets in the way & I'm not always able to use my coupons before they expire
Coupons are entertaining - in our house it is almost a game - how much can we save?  Mind you we are not extreme couponers (not even close), but saving an average of $20+/month on things we normally buy - pays for a family outing (entertainment) - maybe the movies. 
The above picture shows coupons that I threw out because they expired.  No, I don't feel guilty about throwing them away (some would say I'm throwing out money) because I didn't buy those items anyway (coupons again trying to be my enemy - making me feel guilty for not using them)
I've posted before how I don't agree with those extreme couponers (especially shelf-clearers), but I also feel that putting forth a little effort in clipping coupons & combining with sales for items your family already uses (that's my sole guideline) does add up.  Sure a $.25 coupon doesn't sound like much, but combine that with a few other coupons (and possibly a sale) and savings adds up quickly.  The economy hasn't bounced back yet for us, so every penny saved is a bonus.  I've always used coupons and probably always will.  I just wish I could be more organized with them (my friend has a nice binder system that I just can't get used to using - I have the binder, the pages, etc. - but end up with my own simpler system). 
What did you tackle today in terms of cleaning out & preparing for the new year?