Thursday, February 17, 2011

Photo Field Trip to Bluebonnet Swamp

While lounging around this morning, I got an unexpected phone call from Mom, "Aunt Clara Faye wants to go on a photo field trip to Bluebonnet Swamp.  Do you wanna come with us?... She said she would pick you up....Oh, probably in about an hour...Can you be ready by then?....Ok, well get ready."  clunk.  I hung up the phone.  Minutes later.  "Aunt Clara Faye said she is on her way....No, no, we want you to go...Come on, get ready....Well, can you be ready in 15 or 20 minutes?...Ok, go ahead and get ready because she will come pick you as soon as you get ready."  At this point, it was a quick splash in and out of the shower, shampoo, blow dry, spot of make-up.  Ringggg, Ringggg!...Mom again on the phone, "We are on our way!  You ready, huh?"

Yes, I was ready - in record time for me!  Bella was in her cage and I was standing at the ready at the back screen door.  I had my my purse and camera bag at my feet ready to pick up as soon as they wheeled into my driveway.  I jumped into Aunt Clara Faye's "rumble seat" of her VW Bug and zippety doo dah down the road we go.  We were on our way to the Bluebonnet Swamp.  It was a pretty day.  Signs of spring are showing up so we are anxious to go, go go!  We parked and began our walk on the boardwalk that meanders around the swamp area.  There are no leaves on the trees and the swamp is basically dry but we were able to find photo opps by looking for small details along the nature trail.  We had a great time on our hike.  Then, we made a stop by the Piccadilly Cafeteria for a late lunch.   It was nice to get out and enjoy the pleasant weather and make pictures at the Bluebonnet Swamp.  I am sure we will do it again as the season progresses and brings more greenery back to the brown & gray environment. 

Here is a slideshow of our experience today.  Check it out. 
Click to play this Smilebox slideshow
Create your own slideshow - Powered by Smilebox
Personalize a slideshow

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Dinner

Text messages:
8:50am Terry:  HAPPY V DAY SWEETIE!!!
8:56am Me:  Happy valentines day to you my love!
9:00am Terry:  HEY GAL, HOW ABOUT ROMANIC SUPPER? (when has he ever called me gal?)
9:01am Me:  Oh?  What's the plan? (i figure-there is no plan.  i know that  i will have to make the plans)
9:09am Terry:  YOU&ME, DINNER AT YOUR FAVORITE PLACE! (just as i thought! no plan-just an idea!)
9:11am Me:  You are smooth.  What time are you getting home?
9:14am Terry: REGULAR TIME...3:30PM
9:16am Me: Ok.  I will try to be ready.  Looking forward to it.
9:18am Terry:  OK FINE!

So, it was the restaurant inside the Bass Pro Shop. 


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Happy (Day Before) Birthday Tracy! & A Brief Photo Lesson

Tracy, my sister-in-law, called and told me she wanted to get out of the house and have a little fun today because tomorrow was her birthday!  I could totally understand this reasoning.  Personally, I think we should have a Celebrate The Day Before You Turn One Year Older Birthday Day! :)  What do you think?

  We thought about a movie day to celebrate her Day Before..DAY.  Then, neither of us were motivated to do a movie  So, I told her we could just take a ride and see what we see.   Before the gas prices went up, Terry and I used to enjoy taking what we call a 'country drive'.  Country Drive is code for get in the car, pick a direction, any direction because we had NO direction.  Drive maps not included or necessary because we intend to follow our nose. Terry likes to drive and look.  I like to ride and look.  I know that eventually, one of us will bring up the subject, "Are you getting hungry?"  Then, the other will say, "Why? Are you getting hungry?"  That's when the Country Drive becomes a search for a new Country Lunch Dive

Today, Tracy and I got in my car and headed west on the interstate.  We decided that we were going to look for photo opps.  I put my Nikon d5000 with a 55-200mm lens for Tracy to use and of course I brought my camera along with several lens options.   It was cold so I asked her if she wanted me to turn on the bun warmers.  :)  I love my heated seats.  We drove. We looked. We saw.  Typically, I can always find something that compels me to park the car and explore photo opps. But, for some reason today was different.  It was a ride and see what we see sort of Country Drive day.

Eventually, we did the "Are you hungry?" and a true search was on.  Tracy and I decided that we wanted to find a place for lunch where we can 'make good choices'.  She has recently begun a regime of fruits and vegetables and found her new diet was giving her a better sense of well being.   We ended up deciding on Mike Anderson's keeping in mind that we wanted to make good choices.  We both chose the soup and salad option from the lunch menu.  We each ordered a cup of gumbo and a small shrimp remeloude salad.   It was not the fruits and vegetables choice that was our original search but nevertheless, it was good lunch choice because the food was delish! 

On our way home, we stopped by train station park in Denham Springs.  There was a biting nip in the air because it was pretty windy.  But, we braved it out because I didn't want to go home having never whipped out our cameras.  The initial intent of the day was to teach Tracy a few tips about photography.   When we got out of the car, Tracy asked, "So, do I just put this around my neck?"  You see, today was going to be her very first experience with dslr photography.

I love the way the warm evening sun was lighting the empty park bench.  I Had to get this shot. 

Speaking of evening sun, I showed Tracy an example of using a small aperture to capture the sunburst effect.  f/16 used here.

In this image, I was teaching her how to use a single focus point to be deliberate about her image making.  I was at a f/4.5 at 180mm to blur the foreground and background and selectively focus on the center post cap. 

Here is Tracy's image.  I love how she went a little wider and her aperture was at f/9.5 at 135mm.  At this smaller f/stop and shorter focal length, the viewer is able to see the entire image more clearly.  Yet, look at what she selected as her focal point.  It was the same exact center post cap that I had selected in my image.  You see how small differences in camera settings can create entirely different perspectives?  The differences are obvious but we were both standing very close to one another at the moment of capture. 

For some reason, I absolutely love that Books sign capped by that metal owning.  There is just something about it that makes me notice it every time.  After I clicked off my shot, I told Tracy what I was seeing. 

After I mentioned it, Tracy swung her camera up to take a picture.  When she did, I said, "Looks like they opened the traffic flood gates."   After, I viewed her image,  I like the way the traffic has converged at this little corner.  Tracy placed her focal point on BOOKS.   Isn't this a great image?  If only a boy or girl were walking around the corner engrossed in a good book. 

Happy Birthday Tracy. 
Time keeps on tickin', tickin', tickin' into the future. 

Friday, February 4, 2011

Baby Cypress Knees & Row Row Row Ya Boat back to the house cuz you have to be freezin' ya buns off!

Today's photo challenge was knees.  Knees.  Well, we live in Louisiana and I always thought that Cypress Knees were an anomaly.  Here are some baby cypress knees.  That's the best I could do today.  It was cold and rainy so I went to only one location, lake at LSU.  I thought that I had seen Cypress trees on the edges of the lake.  When I parked, there was a small cluster of Cypress Trees close to the bank but not in the water.   The water you see surrounding is rain water from today and yesterday's rainy weather. 

row, row, flap, flap.
Standing on the edge of the walkway, I looked out over the lake and could not believe what I saw.  Somebody pinch me!  I thought I went to sleep at LSU and woke up at Harvard.  No way!  These people can NOT be from Louisiana.  Didn't they hear that we had school and office closures because we got down to freezing temperature last night?  Besides, I didn't know they made pirogues that long! 

whew!  I realize that I must still be in Louisiana.  There's the familiar aluminum bateau.  At least those couyans are wearing their LSU hoodies.  :)  They might be asking themselves, "What's dat lady couyan doin' over dere wit dat camera, Cher ?!" 

I repositioned myself and waited for the rowing team to appear in the frame because I wanted to provide the viewer more information about the setting.  I chose to show the picnic table and bbq pit in the foreground because it helps describe the area as a pedestrian friendly location.  Also, I used that big tree as an anchor on the left hand side.  I think the image would not be as strong without the tree element.  Do you see our State Capital Building in the misty, foggy background?  I deliberately wanted to show that in the background.  It is a recognizable icon of the city of Baton Rouge and State of Louisiana.
This image is sooc (straight out of camera).  If I had taken it into photoshop, I might would have cleaned up some of the twigs seen at the top of the image, vignette slightly & straighten the horizon line a bit.  But, creating a wow! photoshopped image is not what I am reaching for.  My intention for explaining my thought process before capturing this image is to share the fact that I actually had a thought process.  I'm not saying this is an award winner.  Hardly.  But, if you take time to think about making a picture before taking a picture, I think you will impress yourself!

I focused on the upper / center rain droplet and branch.  Do you see a jogger or a house or lamp post in the background?
A second after I took this shot, I snapped the pic below...

..I focused through the skinny branches and rain droplets to see the lone jogger.   
note:  Isn't it amazing how the droplets and branches almost disappear?  I am standing in the exact same spot with my camera pointed into the exact same spot with the exact same focal length as the rain droplet picture above.  What changed?  My focus.  With my 70-300mm lens racked out at 300mm, I allowed my focus point to train in on the jogger in the distant background instead of the tree branch or rain drops.  When it locked focus on the jogger, the foreground almost blurred away.  This creates a mysterious impression because the viewer instinctively knows that they are seeing through something but can not clearly identify.  
Do you think that is neat?  I do.
It is a great technique. You can try shooting through leaves to get a mystical looking impression of a flower or garden statue. I think if you try it, you will be impressed with yourself!  :)  
Being impressed with yourself is good, right? 

We had a stand off. I have to say, he/she won.  It began to rain again.  Headed home to see my pics. 
It was a slow photo day but a slow photo day is better than a
no photo day any day.

p.s.  I realize that this is the 2nd post from this week that include water drops on twiggy branches.  so, no more.  Hopefully, the weather will clear so that I have a different subject.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

brrrrr...Louisiana Snow Day, without the snow.

Well, yesterday Terry and I went out and about town to run a few errands.  I threw two cameras in the vehicle along with my tripod.  But, my goodness it was so cold, I never wanted to get out to make pictures.  I mean it was biting wind that slices right through you kind of freezing cold!  Last night, the local weather was calling for freezing rain, sleet, possible snow.  So, today the kids got our version of a Louisiana Snow Day.  It was cold today but I never saw any kind of freezing rain. Terry did say that he had ice on his truck when he left from work this evening.  I am not sure what we will see tomorrow.  I think the schools are closed again just in case.  This situation reminds me of a skit that I had seen on Onion News Network which airs on the IFC channel.  The whole show is a spoof on CNN.  Anyway, as I type this, I had to laugh at the idiotic skit about New Orleans temperature dropping to 44 degrees and the city shuts down, National Guard shows up, the reporter was speaking very loudly as if to incite people to realize the urgency of the possible snow flurries.  Oh my goodness, it was a totally ridiculous spoof.  I know it was a blown out porportion image of how we, in the deep south, are not equipped to handle 'inclement' winter condition.  On the other hand, I can see how wimpy we must seem to a Minnesotan! 
Mia keeps warm in her snuggly turtleneck. 

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

From the Archives. Gatlinburg Vacation 2007

Today, I watched a photography workshop on  kelbytraining is the brain child and extended enterprise of Scott Kelby.  He became a popular photoshop teacher through his 'how to' books.  Now, he hosts a website where a group of professionals teach instructional videos pertaining to photography, photoshop, lightroom, etc.  I pay a monthly service fee for access to the courses.   

The reason, I reached back to my 2007 Vacation Archives today was because I was reminded of Gatlinburg this morning.  I watched a new course where the video setting was Cade's Cove, Gatlinburg, TN.  Actually, the setting was a frozen wintry 12 degree Cade's Cove.  The premise of the workshop was Intimate Landscape.  The instructor was explaining the way he finds and composes images in places where it seems to be the 'off season'.  He eluded to the fact that during the spring and fall, there are lots of photographers but not during the frozen winter.  He demonstrated that during the frost bitten, bare treed winter forest, there are still interesting photos to be created.  He started the video in the area of the rustic little house and fencing pictured in the top image.  This charming little house is one of the first things I remember seeing when we entered Cade's Cove when Terry and I visited Gatlinburg in early March 2007.  As you can see in the image, the leaves are not yet on the trees but it was still beautiful. 

The Old Grist Mill above is a restaurant now in Pigeon Forge.

The Ubiquitous Tourist, that's me.  Taken by Terry (in 2007 of course).   See that red jacket?  I wore it today.  Do you know how old that red all weather London Fog is?  um. I can't remember the exact year that I purchased it but I remember that same winter the girls received a pink and a purple bike with little white baskets and plastic tassels on the handlebars.  They will be 23 and 21 this year.  I do remember the day that I bought it.  It was Grand Opening week for the Tanger Outlet Mall in Gonzales.  I just can't retire it.  The weight is perfect for our Louisiana weather.  It is still in perfect condition..I think so anyway.  It might be my proverbial Linus Blanket.  I'll probably be a little old lady dragging my red jacket behind me.

I took this picture of Terry reading about the Mountain people in the same area that he took my picture.  This was at the lookout point at the Tennessee/North Carolina State Line.  All of these pictures were taken with a Kodak camera that I borrowed from Mom.  (I didn't get my first dslr until October 2008.)  From what I understand, the Kodak company might be in trouble right now.   I appreciate the history and contribution that Kodak has made to the photographic industry.  The gold and black Kodak brand was the most popular brand of film as far as I remember.  I know that digital has almost eliminated the film development business.  There are some people who still use film.  But, obviously the digital photography age is here to stay.  I hope things turn around for Kodak.  Of course, they had to jump into the digital game and have produced great quality modern products.  I just read about a professional Leica S2 camera that sells for somewhere around 26,000 dollars. 
Can you guess who made the sensor for that camera? 


Go figure.