Happy Mother’s Day

I love my Momma!

I love my Momma!

Happy Mother’s Day from one of my four-legged children, who gave me a card this morning with the most affectionate thing he could think of – “My Momma”. Yes, I’m his Momma and his reason for living. When I’m going in and out of the back door – say to use the grill – he dashes out in front of me to take up his vigil and watch the street on my behalf. Because clearly my husband the other two dogs are not up to the task of taking care of me.

Scanning. . . scanning. . . scanning. . . any danger?

Scanning. . . scanning. . . scanning. . . any danger?

I hope you’ve enjoyed your day! My two-legged child gave me a set of lenses to use on my iPhone, so I will be busy experimenting with them this week. She’s a good kid, isn’t she?


Lydia Schabelsky, Baroness Staël-Holstein at the Virginia Museum of Fine Art, Richmond, Virginia

Portrait of Lydia Schabelsky

This week’s photo challenge is to interpret “intricate” and for that, I’d like to share one of my favorite paintings at the Virginia Museum of Fine Art. This is Lydia Schabelsky, Baroness Staël-Holstein. According to the placard, the picture was to be “a lasting record of their youth, status, good sense and fashion taste”.

Lydia Schabelsky, Baroness Staël-Holstein at the Virginia Museum of Fine Art, Richmond, Virginia

Lydia Schabelsky, Baroness Staël-Holstein at the Virginia Museum of Fine Art, Richmond, Virginia

Isn’t she just gorgeous? I can look at this picture for hours. The painting is so detailed and intricate! Here’s a close-up of her face and hair. Look at how the curls wrap around her pearls!

Face close-up of Lydia Schabelsky, Baroness Staël-Holstein at the Virginia Museum of Fine Art, Richmond, Virginia

Face close-up of Lydia Schabelsky, Baroness Staël-Holstein at the Virginia Museum of Fine Art, Richmond, Virginia

Look at the detail of her fingernails and all the frills around her bodice:

Shoulder and hand of Lydia Schabelsky, Baroness Staël-Holstein at the Virginia Museum of Fine Art, Richmond, Virginia

Shoulder and hand of Lydia Schabelsky, Baroness Staël-Holstein at the Virginia Museum of Fine Art, Richmond, Virginia

Lastly, here’s a close-up of the dress itself:

Skirt of Lydia Schabelsky, Baroness Staël-Holstein at the Virginia Museum of Fine Art, Richmond, Virginia

Skirt of Lydia Schabelsky, Baroness Staël-Holstein at the Virginia Museum of Fine Art, Richmond, Virginia

Even the frame is intricate:

Isn’t it incredible? I love looking at her each time we go to the museum.

A number of you commented on how you enjoyed being able to read the placards from the museum. I agree – there’s a lot of good information on them. The curators do a great job of telling us what we’re looking at, so here it is:

Lydia Schabelsky, Baroness Staël-Holstein at the Virginia Museum of Fine Art, Richmond, Virginia

Lydia Schabelsky, Baroness Staël-Holstein at the Virginia Museum of Fine Art, Richmond, Virginia

I don’t know how many hours it took to do this and presumably Lydia sat for all of it, although for the dress part, she could easily have had a maid sit there for hours.

To see what others did for the photo challenge, click here.


I Wanted That Red Teeter-Totter

Welcome to the May Edition of After-Before Friday, hosted as usual by Stacy Fisher at Visual Venturing. It was again fun trying new things with my photo skills! Each month brings a new challenge and it’s great to see what others do with it for their interpretation.

This month’s photo was provided by Shane Francescut and looked like this:

Original Photo

Original Photo

Isn’t that a stinker? Yes, it’s a technical term. Highly, highly technical.

I wanted so badly to highlight that red teeter-totter. I positively fixated on it. It’s so red! It’s so there! Blah, blah – the point is that’s what I wanted. And I couldn’t get it to work. The red was just too jarring against the rest of the photo. At the same time, I didn’t want to crop it out.

In the end, I adjusted the photo in Lightroom, including some straightening, then took it into Photoshop. I used a Topaz Labs Black and White Filter called Cool II. Cool II gave it a steely gray appearance which really appealed to me, especially for the greenhouse and its glass.

I further adjusted the Cool II filter by boosting the blacks, dodging the tree leaves (to lighten the dark center somewhat), burning some light spots on the far left of the greenhouse (plus the building behind that side to darken up the spots that were too light), and lightening the red channel in color sensitivity so the teeter-totter wasn’t so dark.
Final Result

Final Result


The picture below was what I wanted. It works, but only sort of. I did a composite, with the teeter-totter on top of the buildings. I was trying to convey the contradiction of the playground to the high-rise buildings behind it. It seems so strange to have both in the same picture. I normally would not envision them together, although I know in many cities they are close together.

To do this, I created two virtual copies in Lightroom, cropped one for just the playground and one for the buildings. I brought them into Photoshop, then combined the layers together. I put the playground equipment on top of the buildings, set the opacity to 70% so you could see what was under it, and used a mode called “darken”. I simply played with the modes until I found one I liked best.

Mode Settings v2 Blog

As I worked played with this, the buildings were a bit too garish. So I duplicated that layer to convert it to black and white. I felt that worked much better. I did have to move the layers around (using transform – scale) to get the equipment positioned the way I wanted it over the buildings.

Composite Picture

Composite Picture

So what else failed? Trying it in black and white but coloring in the playground equipment.

Nope. Didn't work.

Okay, not great.

I also didn’t like this one. It’s a preset in Topaz Labs Black and White, called Milk Memories. I don’t like how the left side of the teeter-totter gets lost in the white vignette.

Okay, not great. I think the left side of the photo is too dim.

Okay, not great. I think the left side of the photo is too dim.

 

Lastly, here’s the original photo (left) and after I did some basic corrections in Lightroom (right):

So what do you think? Which one was your favorite?

Have a good weekend!

 


Spring in Virginia

I’m experimenting with a product called Canva and thought I’d create this to see how it looks.

LIVING THE SEASONS

I’m not sure about the service – the bottom pictures were cut off in Facebook and I was unable to import this into Lightroom to run it through my export settings and downsize the picture. As a result, it’s in full size. That’s 5x the size of what I usually upload, but this is four photos in a single frame. It looks nice, but I’m not sure how much I’ll use this. They don’t have much for free either – most every image and things I’d want to do has a price tag on it. It’s not expensive individually, but you’d have to really be careful to not rack up the fees. There are others out there that charge a flat monthly fee but I haven’t priced it out or tried it to see if I’d use it.

The pictures are pretty though. They were all taken at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens.


Red Tulip at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens

Looking Up From the Ground

I become so focused on my photography, that sometimes I forget to look up and just enjoy the moment.

The other day, I was intent on photographing this robin while I was at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens:

20150421-418 Blog

Chasing a Robin

What appealed to me were the rich colors of the feathers on its back, as well as the distinctiveness of the white around its eye:

20150421-419 Blog

Pretty Robin!

Yes, I can photograph robins in the backyard and I have (click here to see the momma robin outwitting me). But when I’m at the gardens, I photograph anything that appeals to me. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But I always come back with a lot of pictures even on the days I plan on only walking.

As I was considering whether the robin was worth my time, I remembered to look up and notice – really notice – what was around me. Pretty, isn’t it?

20150421-437 Blog

View at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens

The trees are leafing out and the grass is coming back. Straight ahead is the pond where I find the pitcher plants and the hummingbird. I relaxed my shoulders, took a deep breath, and just stood there, smiling at how much I was enjoying being outside.

This is what I heard:

20150421-441 Blog

Wind Chimes at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

The wind chimes were directly behind me. You can see they’re swinging – it was actually pretty windy that day. So I heard the chimes tinkling, the wind blowing, and the birds chirping loudly. It was nice.

As were many other things in the garden, including the tulips.

20150421-409 Blog

Red Tulip at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens

It’s nice some days to just be and enjoy. To not always be rushing around, over thinking what comes next, and keeping mental checklists in my head. It’s good to just relax, smile, and enjoy.

Our happiness depends on the habit of mind we cultivate. So practice happy thinking everyday. Cultivate the merry heart, develop the happiness habit, and life will become a continual feast.
– Norman Vincent Peale

.


Overlooking Lake Sydnor at Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, Richmond, Virginia

It’s Beautiful Everywhere

One great thing about spring in Virginia is how pretty it is everywhere. I thought I’d show you what I see as I’m driving around! A word of warning though – these are not drop dead gorgeous shots. They can’t be. The locations are bad and on the days I shot these, so was the lighting. But it had been raining and more rain was coming. So it was either take the pictures or have none.

But back on topic – it’s pretty in front of the bank.

Flowering trees at the bank

Flowering trees at the bank

And the road going into the strip mall down the street, the one with the grocery store and other places to shop and eat.

I see this when I drive out of our subdivision,

20150416-6 Blog

this when I walk the dogs,

20150416-375 Blog

and this when I look at the corner of our backyard.

20150416-429 Blog

The edge of the parking lot at the park where I walk is even lined with flowering trees!

20150416-84 Blog

Driveway at Deep Run Park

I found these tiny flowers on the forest floor, surrounded by leaves that only recently came down from the oak trees.

Of course, if I’m willing to put in the work, I can get some spectacular flowering trees to show you as well:

Overlooking Lake Sydnor at Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, Richmond, Virginia

Overlooking Lake Sydnor at Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, Richmond, Virginia

The trees are leafing out more each day. I went to the botanical gardens yesterday and these trees are no longer in bloom (only two weeks difference!) but other things were blooming. And of course, the pollen is everywhere. My car is burgundy color with powdery yellow streaks and splats.

Sit quietly, doing nothing,
spring comes,
and the grass grows by itself.
– Zen Proverb

Have a good week!

 


Grandpa and Baby Conspire

I have new baby pictures, including a short video of Grandpa conspiring against me with the baby.

I’m trying out Vimeo for the first time. To see the video, enter the password baby.

.

And for your laughter, here are some other pictures. I would like to point out that the furry ears are not from our side of the family. My son-in-law is responsible for those. It’s all his fault.

One last set of pictures – there are actually two babies in the household. And from time to time, they both sleep at the same time too! These pictures were captured just a few minutes apart.

So I hope you had some smiles and laughter before you return to your day.