Monday, March 9, 2015

Rainy Monday

Rain, rain, and more rain -- yesterday, today, and tomorrow before it clears out.  Texas has been in and out of droughts the last several years - surely all the rain we've received this winter will give us a boost for the summer.  And if nothing else it's great for spring wildflowers (can't wait!! planning on a few day trips just to photograph them).

The weekend was busy, as many of ours tend to be.  A visit to the Houston Symphony is always a great time, but this performance was one of their family series and was held in the latter part of the morning.  We've never attended this type of performance, but will definitely do it again.  Yes there were really small kids there, but it was a really fun and informative experience (and we were in downtown during the day - when we could see things).  I truly believe everyone should see their local symphony perform at least once in their lifetime -- a family type performance might be a great introduction.  Although the music will most likely be familiar (ours was music from the Star Wars music - the actual score/music written by John Williams), to see it played - to watch the string players play (we're a band family - so strings are fascinating to us); the overall experience can be very moving. A bit of trivia we learned from the conductor -- The Battle of the Heroes is the most difficult viola piece John Williams has written.  The viola section was projected onto big screens so we could watch closely -- those musicians had their heads down and fingers flying!!

 Following are a few pictures from the event - taken with my phone, so not as high quality, but not bad either.

Storm troopers infiltrated the orchestra/stage -- they pretended to play the instruments, put rabbit ears behind the musicians (who tried not to laugh), and generally were all over (they were sometimes standing guard in the audience too).

Darth Vader -  yes he made an appearance too -- light saber duel with the conductor who was dressed as Obi-Wan.  The ticket prices were the same for all seats within the hall and we were lucky to get 4 seats in the front row!!  We've decided those are good & bad seats -- good because we (obviously) got a really up close view of action, but bad because we weren't able to see all of the orchestra and maybe get the entire balanced sound of them (but glad we tried it out).

Since it was daytime, we checked out a large sculpture behind Jones Hall.  I admit I am not knowledgeable in art, but this really reminded me of the old Rolie Polie Olie cartoon my kids watched years ago.  (Don't tell the artist Miro!) 
We were finally able to get the extended family together for my birthday supper - a week late.  I'm pretty sure these cupcakes aren't on my diet - but darn they were good.  Thank goodness there was only enough for each of us to have one.

Photography e-course assignment:  explore editing images. Although I added minimal effects/editing I do like the way the image turned out.
Last image details:
102mm macro lens (Nikkor)
macro setting - flash
edited using Photoshop Elements
minor cropping, dark vignette around edges to tone down the brightness and focus attention to the central bright flower bud.  No, brightness, or added saturation.  This is a lemon tree flower bud.  We've had a lot of rain, but for lemon trees - the more rain the juicier the fruit, so an appropriate image for our last several days.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Photography E-course

I'm starting a photography e-course today (Everyday Magic) by Tammy Strobel of Rowdy Kittens, so I'll be posting some of the images here as well - not to become a target of random, rude criticism, but hopefully to a) give myself some accountability for keeping up with this course (it's so easy to sign up and hide and eventually fade away from the group and the assignments), and b) show and share my improved progress throughout the course.   I've taken a course from Tammy in the past and I appreciated her being present and involved throughout the course.  If you aren't familiar with her work - please go check her out here - especially her "morning view" series of images and book (and she really does own a couple of beautiful, curious cats).

Not everyone has a great view out of their back door.  Living generally in the coastal plains area the land is pretty darn flat - no pretty mountains in the background or forest to photograph.  Typical neighborhood landscape means my back door view is a fence and other houses (and a backyard full of holes - thank you black lab dog -- with a few trees and plants still in their winter dormant state).  My town is small, so nothing sleek and modern with a bustling downtown area, and not many historic buildings have survived progress. So I struggle with the concept of having a morning view worthy of photographing and sharing (and driving around looking for a nice view kind of defeats the concept of a typical "morning view" for me).  However I went out this damp, chilly morning and looked around my backyard and did find a few things to photograph (you may be seeing these same things over and over - just progressing/growing over time - just a warning!!)

Onward to a few images.

It was very wet outside, dew and some light rain.  I like that the fence is reflected in the bottom of the glass feeder.

My favorite from this morning.  I didn't use my macro lens, but did use my big camera so I could have probably gotten closer and sharper with the other lens -- but you use what you have.  Milkweed seeds ready for the wind to spread them caught some of this morning's moisture.

For those interested:
Nikon D7000
16-85mm f3.5-5.6
auto focus & set on macro setting (yes I'm one of those who doesn't always go to manual - and I'm okay with that)

slight cropping
resized for web posting (originals are a bit sharper)

If you follow me on Instagram (sherrycb), then you know I have a tabby cat who makes life interesting.  She often makes appearances on my IG feed and hopefully she'll show up here too.