Naming My Emotions

Walking with my Vizsla

Walking with my Vizsla

I was laid off on Wednesday.  Outsourced.  Bye-bye.  7 years of my life over just like that for myself and my entire team, all of whom had been with me for over 5 years.

Whew!  There.  I finally told it.

My former employer left me in good shape, so I have time to thoughtfully look for another job, for which I’m glad.  But I’m also upset for all the hard work and effort I’ve put in.  I expect that in a very short time, all of that will be gone.  Outsourcers tend to use the cheapest labor they can find, which does not equate to experienced.

Each morning I’ve woken up with a different set of emotions about this whole chain of events.

Thursday I was elated.  Free time!  Time to do what I want!  No year end!  I can enjoy the holidays instead of working late most nights in December!!  I made lists and lists of all the things I want to get done while I’m out of work.  Five pages of lists in fact – I have a lot of catching up to do with my life.

Friday morning though found me sad.  I went back after hours on Thursday to clean out my desk and it was hard.  My favorite boy toy was with me to help out and the HR rep was compassionate about the whole thing.  She was (thankfully) someone I’ve known almost since my first day there.  I was glad for that and glad for her understanding, but it was still hard.  All those years reduced to a few boxes.  Packing up my desk was as upsetting as being told to leave.  I was also sad that I didn’t have a chance to say goodbye to people.  I had a lot of good friends at work and there was no closure.

Saturday was fear.  Fear of the unknown.  What’s going to happen now?  Will we have to move again?  I don’t want to move.  Are there jobs out there?  What will I do?

Sunday was fear again, but a different type.  I don’t want a bad boss – I’ve had several in my career and they really wreck one’s life.  I don’t want a ball busting job.  I want a better work / life balance, something I’ve had very little of with my last few jobs.  And I don’t feel like cleaning up yet another mess.  I’ve cleaned up too many of them in my career.  It’s no fun and there’s no glory in it, as no one wants to admit things were so bad before I came.  In fact, the job that I just left had been outsourced for two years before I came and the files and positions were non-existent, along with numerous errors that took me years to clean up.

I don’t know what my new routine will be yet.  The Vizsla is getting a long walk every day.  He’s gotten excessively clingy again and keeping him tired means we don’t have a dog jumping the gates at 2 am to come visiting, which he did Thursday night.  It took several hours and numerous tries to convince him that he was staying downstairs and not in our bed.  Thankfully the beagle slept through most of it and I didn’t have to contend with two of them refusing to go back downstairs!

I’m drinking more tea.  I sit at the kitchen table, looking out the windows and enjoying being quiet as I sip it.  Sometimes I read, sometimes I just daydream.  It’s nice to be able to leave my brain off even if for just a few minutes.

I’m finding a nap each afternoon to be good for me.  It doesn’t matter if I’m not sleeping as well as I should if I can make it up later.

I’ve gone back to taking daily pictures.  I enjoy it and it records my life for me even if they aren’t high art.  The silhouette above was taken with my cell phone during our walk at the woods.  I look like a lump in my winter coat (it’s been that cold here!) but I liked the way my grey muzzled puppy was looking at me.  That stick in my hand is actually a retractable leash.  His recall isn’t the best, especially if we walk past another dog, so I keep him tethered to me like the park requires.

After Thanksgiving, I’ll be contacting people and start the process to find another job.  For this week, I plan to enjoy time with my family.  My daughter says she finally looks pregnant, so I hope to get some baby bump pictures to show everyone.

 


Smiles From Strangers

Brown's Island from the bridge over to the island, taken two years ago today.  Located in Richmond, Virginia.  The photo is processed using Topaz labs Impressions.

Brown’s Island in Richmond, Virginia. The photo is processed with a colored pencil effect using Topaz labs Impressions.

I’m always surprised when strangers smile at me, even more so when they say niceties such as “how are you today?”.

It happened again the other day.  I wasn’t feeling too good and I had a tough morning working on a sticky problem.  I went for my walk during lunch, really wrapped up in my head.  I mean, really wrapped up.  I wasn’t paying attention to who was around me, what the James River looked like, or even how nice it was to just be outside.

People kept giving me big smiles!  They wanted me to see them, acknowledge them, and smile back!  I’m usually the one giving out smiles to strangers, so it was a bit weird for me to be receiving unsolicited smiles.

It was so nice.  So very, very nice.  I straightened up my shoulders, tilted my head up from watching the ground, and got rid of the scowl on my face.  If people wanted to be nice to me, I was going to play my part and be nice back!

I came back from my walk in a much better mood and not just from the exercise.  People going out of their way to simply smile at me as they walked by made a big difference and I was grateful they smiled whether I was really receiving it or not.

It makes me glad for all the time I spend smiling at others and making chit chat with strangers.  It really does improve one’s day!

The photos in today’s post were taken three years ago today from the original bridge going over to Brown’s Island.  I’m looking to the west.  The townhouses in the upper right is an area of Richmond called Oregon Hill, where the laborers used to live.  It was so far from downtown, “you may as well have lived in Oregon”.  The cluster of buildings around the smokestack is where Tredegar Iron Works was during the Civil War.  The National Park Service is in the far building and a Civil War Museum is in the closer building.  Many events are held on Brown’s Island every year, from the Richmond Marathon last weekend to the Folk Festival, skateboarding events, and many types of concerts.

To see an earlier post for a walk around Brown’s Island, click here.  The bridge in today’s photos is fairly new.  To see the pictures from the day it was lifted into place, click here.

Brown's Island from the bridge over to the island, taken two years ago today.  Located in Richmond, Virginia.

Brown’s Island in Richmond, Virginia.  This photo was processed with a simple pop effect in Topaz Labs Adjust..


Post Processing Stained Glass Photos – Part 3

The final picture after processing.

The final picture after processing.  Taken at St. Saviour’s Episcopal Church in Bar Habor, Maine.

Last week, I started a technical series of how to post process photos of stained glass windows.  In Part 1, I went over taking and selecting which photo to use, making adjustments in Adobe Lightroom, and moving the picture to Adobe Photoshop for more complex work.

Part 2 showed how to correct for distortion (i.e., keystone effect) and adding in a hue / saturation layer.

Now that a hue / saturation layer is in place, it’s time to create a mask.  The mask blocks out what part of the picture I don’t want adjusted with the next step.  In this case, I will block out the background, then invert the mask (i.e., turn it inside out) so that any changes I make will adjust the background only and leave the stained glass alone.

On the hue / saturation layer, click the white box (see where the down arrow is pointing).  Another box will open up to the left, which I’ve put a big circle around.

To the far left are two boxes that should be black and white.  When I hover the mouse over them, they are called the foreground and background color.  Make sure the black is on top as shown here.  If it isn’t, click the tiny double arrow (shown with the tiny circle around it) to reverse the boxes.  If the black box isn’t on top, this won’t work right.  If my boxes have different colors in them, I click the itty bitty boxes next to the tiny double arrow.  That will restore the default colors of black and white.  I will have to click the double arrow to put the black box back on top.

Yes, itty bitty is a technical term, although I don’t think Adobe has it copyrighted :)

Click the mask and make sure the right colors get used when brushing the mask in.

Click the mask and make sure the right colors get used when brushing the mask in.

Now it’s time to brush in a mask and cover up the background.

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Practicing Stillness

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Be Still. . . Preferably, With Some Tea; Photo Stylized With Topaz Impressions

This week’s photo challenge is minimalist, explained as:

An artfully executed minimalist photograph is anything but mundane. It illustrates a moment in time, or an artistic perspective, with simplicity and grace.

 

Minimalist photography is characterized by a large portion of negative space, a fairly monochromatic color palette with good contrast, and an interesting subject that is able to stand on its own to capture the interest of the viewer. At first thought, it may seem like it would be easy to shoot an engaging minimalist photograph, when indeed it can often be the opposite. A minimalist photo can also effectively tell a story, in spite of its relative simplicity, and it is anything but “plain”.

After I edited my picture, I added the minimalist phrase, “Be Still”.  It comes of course, from one of my favorite Bible verses:

Be still and know that I am God. ~ Psalm 46:10

Simple.  Minimal.  And so very hard to actually execute.

It also comes from my creativity class with the ever-so-creative-herself, Kim Klassen.  In the very first week of “Be Still – Fifty Two”, she encouraged us to practice stillness, even if just for a minute a day.  To paraphrase, she said:

Take a breath ~ pause ~ move forward ~ one day at a time ~ center ~ peace ~ trust.

Also simple and minimal.  Also hard to actually do.

The reasons it’s hard to execute are not a surprise.  Too busy, too many demands, too tired, etc etc etc.  I could put a checklist out here and y’all would check them and add more to it.

That doesn’t make it any easier though to slow down, be still, and just be.

Be quiet.

Be simple.

Be present in the moment.

Be content with here and now.

Be grateful.

Be open to trusting God.

Which is why I chose a tea picture.  Making tea takes time.  There’s a whole ritual to it, starting with pouring out the old water and filling up the tea pot.  Get out a filter (or basket) and measure out tea.  Cut up a lemon, wash the cutting board and my hands, and wait more on the water to get hot enough.  And of course, the time waiting for the tea to steep, then cool enough to drink it.

There are days I don’t make tea for myself.  I don’t want to wait.  So I have a glass of plain water instead.  Which is still good for me, but it’s a shame that I don’t wait on my tea when I enjoy it so much.

If I slow down too much, even less will get done.  But I miss not sitting and just thinking as well.  I need it and function better when I do it.  I think like with anything, this needs practice and for me to make it more important.

So stay true to your own nature. If you like to do things in a slow and steady way, don’t let others make you feel as if you have to race. If you enjoy depth, don’t force yourself to seek breadth. If you prefer single-tasking to multi-tasking, stick to your guns. Being relatively unmoved by rewards gives you the incalculable power to go your own way.
― Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

 

We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.
― Ray Bradbury

 

 

 

 

 


Looking up the staircase during Christmas at the Jefferson Hotel.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Descent

This week’s photo challenge was for descent – “a perspective looking down”.

One of the most beautiful staircases I’ve ever seen is at the historic Jefferson Hotel, in downtown Richmond, Virginia.  According to their website, the hotel was built in 1895 by the tobacco magnate, Lewis Ginter.  It nearly burned down in 1901 and was not rebuilt for several years.  The famous statute of Thomas Jefferson had to be repaired when Jefferson’s head broke off as it was being carried to safety.

The hotel also had alligators in the pools until 1948!  They were pets donated by local residents who needed to get rid of them when they got too big.

According to Wikipedia, Margaret Mitchell stayed at the Jefferson during the time she wrote “Gone With The Wind”.  It is believed that the staircase at the Jefferson was the inspiration for the staircase she described in her book.

These pictures were taken at several different times.  The Christmas decorations are gorgeous and I hope to take more pictures of them this year.


Post Processing Stained Glass Photos – Part 2

St. Saviour's Episcopal Church in Bar Harbor, Maine

Image after all post processing is done.  Taken at St. Saviour’s Episcopal Church in Bar Harbor, Maine

In my last post, I began a technical series of how I processed some photos that I took of stained glass.  Click here for Part 1, which explains how I selected the photo and began processing in Adobe Lightroom.  Click here to see the original post with all the photos.

At the end of the last post, I finished my initial edits in Lightroom and loaded the picture into Adobe Photoshop for further editing.  This begins with what I did next in Photoshop to improve the picture.

The first thing I do is create a duplicate layer.  This way, if something goes wrong, the layer can be deleted, a new one created, and I can start all over again.  In other words, I haven’t altered the original photo.  If I make a mistake and forget to add the layer, I save it right away with a new name so that I don’t accidentally overlay my original photo.  If something goes wrong, I have to delete the entire photo, but it’s better than having ruined the original photo.

To duplicate the layer, right click on the layer, which is shown in the down arrow and mostly hidden under the pop-up box.  On the pop-up box, click duplicate layer.  When the next box comes up, you can name the new layer or not.  You can always change the name later by double clicking on the name of the layer and then editing it.

Create a duplicate layer before doing anything.  This way if something goes wrong, you can delete the layer and start again.

Create a duplicate layer before doing anything. This way if something goes wrong, you can delete the layer and start again.

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Post Processing Stained Glass Photos – Part 1

Image after all post processing is complete

Image after all post processing is complete.  Taken at St. Saviour’s Episcopal Church in Bar Harbor, Maine.

A few weeks ago, I posted stained glass photos that I took at St. Saviour’s Episcopal Church in downtown Bar Harbor, Maine.  Everyone ooh’d and aah’d appropriately, then one of you stuck your hand up and said, “How did you do that?”  It turns out she has a number of stained glass pictures taken during a trip to Europe and hadn’t figured out how to process them up.

So this is going to get a bit technical and take several posts to explain, but here’s how I did it!

Select A Photo With Detail

The first thing is to select a photo that has sufficient detail in it.  I shot these with a high ISO because of how dim the church was and I was hand holding my camera.  Had I been tripod mounted, I could have used a lower ISO and had less noise (i.e., graininess).  But I didn’t have my tripod with me and I don’t know that the church would have let me set it up anyhow.

I routinely bracket my shots.  Bracketing is where my camera takes a picture at the normal settings, then another one that’s darker and another that’s lighter.  So I take 3 pictures of every shot that I want.  This helps improve the odds of getting a keeper.

Here’s the difference when I reviewed my pictures later:

The picture on the left is with normal settings.  Although it seems to be a better brightness, the details are lacking in the robe, flowers and even the hair.  The one on the right is technically too dark, but you can see a great deal more of the detail in the robe, flowers, and hair.

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