Happy Thanksgiving!

Dogs Getting Fed

Dogs Getting Fed

It’s feeding time at the zoo, although the miniature pinscher is more intent on scratching himself than what’s happening at the sink with the food bowls!

Have a Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy your food as much as my boys do.  Do eat a little more slowly though and actually taste your food :)

Vizsla adjusted with Topaz Black and White

Fixing A Dog Photo

Vizsla adjusted with Topaz Black and White

Vizsla portrait adjusted with Topaz Black and White

As I was playing around with the 100mm macro lens that my favorite boy toy lent me, I took pictures of all kinds of things (you can see more of them here and here).  Because I was learning to use it, at one point I switched back to my regular zoom lens for comparison and in the process, took a picture of the Vizsla on the deck.  The lighting was all off, but when I reviewed it later, the composition was good and I decided to see if I could salvage it.

So here’s the original:


Original Vizsla head shot

Whatever I was metering from, the dog is too dark and the background is too light.  I should have changed over to spot metering and blown out the background.

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Belly Laughs Help Everything

Laughter helps everything, including my creativity.  It takes me outside of myself, resets my mind, and makes me happier.

So to help you laugh, here are some old pictures of not one, but two – count them TWO – baby Vizslas.  The one with the red collar belonged to my daughter and was just a few months older than ours.  This is from the weekend she brought her Dad his new twelve-week-old puppy.  The two dogs played like crazy and as you can see in the picture where my favorite boy toy is getting licked, one puppy was so tired he fell over in his Daddy’s lap and went to sleep.

The right picture, second from the top, is my daughter’s Vizsla.  His face is considerably different than the puppy that was ours.  See yesterday’s post for a close-up of our puppy.  Click here to see our Vizsla over the last few years.

To see bigger pictures, double click on a picture to start a slide show.

To see everything I’m doing with my 31 Days of Nurturing My Creativity, click here.

To see what others are doing with their 31 Days project, click here.


Chaos Is Inevitable – Part 1

The beagle is three months old; the Vizsla is ten months old even though he looks full-grown

The beagle is three months old; the Vizsla is ten months old even though he looks full-grown

In chaos, all is possible. 
Every incoming idea is welcomed, with no regard for reality. 
Forget time, money or reason; embrace a brimming universe!
Because if you start with rules, your creation will be stillborn.
Philippe Petit in “Creativity: The Perfect Crime”

Along with the learning curve is the inevitable chaos that accompanies it.  It’s just not possible to start something – anything new – without there being a mess.

It’s not just photography or writing.  Over the years of working as an accountant, many of my projects were new from scratch.  There was no prior trail to follow.  I had to come up with a methodology from scratch, tame data, and make it presentable to a vice-president who had limited time and attention to devote to my problem.

The easiest way for me to do this is to just jump in and start.  I can spend time trying to plan it out, design my spreadsheet, and determine if the data available was adequate (and if not, what else could I get).  I’ve found though that pre-planning it didn’t shorten the process – actually, it made it take longer.  By pre-planning too extensively, I got locked into this had to work this way and no other way.  It didn’t give my mind the flexibility to change course and backtrack where needed.

So now, I just jump in.  I assess my data, start the spreadsheet, make changes, get more data if possible, change the spreadsheet again.  I might go back and redefine the parameters of the project because what was requested isn’t going to give the answers needed or the data is not obtainable or something better can / should be done instead.  Sometimes I’ll get halfway through before inspiration strikes and I start all over again with a better idea.

So why should my photography and writing be any different?  I didn’t wait for my blog to be perfect before I started it.  I picked a theme and went with it.  I blogged for several months before I realized I could change the header and put my own picture in it!  But if I’d waited for my blog to look gorgeous before I started blogging, I would have missed six months of getting experience putting together posts and photographs.

My blog today is considerably different as I’ve gained experience and found my voice.  I’ve learned to downsize my pictures, add tags and categories, and create links.  Click here to see one of my first posts – oh look, a baby beagle!   And he’s looking for a treat.  Gosh, what a surprise.  The beagle has since gone on to write some of his own posts, which can be found here.

So a reminder to myself in nurturing my creativity – jump in and try it.  Don’t wait for it to be perfect.  It might not even be right.  But I’ll learn better and faster if I just do it.  If I have to redo it later, that’s how it goes.

To see everything I’m doing with my 31 Days of Nurturing My Creativity, click here.

To see what others are doing with their 31 Days project, click here.


Cleaning The House Nurtured Me

A month ago (really?  a month already?) I posted about how much I hate chores.  However, after a certain point, a dirty / messy house drives me nuts too.

So today, to nurture my creativity, I used my time to wash bedding for us and the dogs, vacuum, clean the kitchen, pay bills, and do paperwork.  It wasn’t fun or glamorous, but my energy was really good.  That helped a lot and I resented it far less than usual.

I did have some playtime. . . sort of.  My favorite boy toy has extra camera equipment he either doesn’t use or doesn’t like anymore.  So he’s been digging things out for me to try and patiently answering questions despite some snippy attitudes on my part.

I tried out a different tripod as my cheap one doesn’t ever sit quite level and is easily knocked over, say if a dog were to run into it.  I tried two different heads on it – a regular ball head and a pan tilt, which has handles on it.  I thought I’d like the pan tilt better for its handles as the ball head is only adjusted by moving the camera itself and is pretty stiff (my boy toy never used this one).  But no, I think the ball head was actually easier to use.

I also tried out his macro lenses in these pictures.  The basil and fly were taken with a 100mm macro lens, the beagle with the 180mm macro.  Both lenses bring up an incredible amount of detail.  Since my boy toy isn’t using either one much anymore, I’m adding them to my camera bag until he wants to use them again.

So that’s how I nurtured my creativity today!  I tried some new equipment, got some lessons in using it, and cleaned the house so I can relax and work on my stuff without all the dog hair distracting me.

Did you ever notice when there’s too much dog hair around, it starts to swirl and clump like it’s trying to make another dog?  And how much hair can three dogs shed without being hairless?  Better yet, is there any limit to how much dirt they can track in?  The answer to that of course is NO.

To see everything I’m doing with my 31 Days of Nurturing My Creativity, click here.

To see what others are doing with their 31 Days project, click here.



I Can Talk For Hours About. . .

Although I enjoy visiting, it doesn’t seem like I spend as much time talking as I do listening.  But get me onto a favorite topic and I can talk your ears off (provided you don’t die of boredom because you don’t share my enthusiasm).  So for today’s 30 Days of Lists, here are the subjects that I can talk about for hours.  They will not come as a surprise to any of you, since I also blog about them frequently!

Books – at a previous job, one of the consultants loved to read as much as I did and very often read the same books too.  We had to be careful to not talk too long as we both enjoyed comparing notes and making recommendations.

Dogs – I can never tell or hear too many dog stories.  They are an endless source of cute, frustration, and affection.

Photography – I don’t meet many photographers who are as advanced as I am, outside of my favorite boy toy.  So when I meet one, I can stand and talk forever about equipment, Adobe software, social media, and places to go for taking pictures.  I had that happen a while back at the botanical gardens.  The other photographer and I had a great time visiting and had to cut it short because the good light was leaving.

My Daughter – she’s the greatest and I love to talk about everything she’s up to.  Last weekend, she participated in a mini-triathlon, placing in the middle of the pack (the only photos I have are copyrighted, so I cannot post them).  Her skin tight clothes for the event just looked like she was a bit pudgy, not four months pregnant.  When I was four months pregnant, I was already waddling from the bowling ball that was sticking out in front!

State Taxes – put me in a room with the consultants, and we can be swapping stories for hours.  They like it as much as I do, mostly because I’m interactive with them and have good stories of my own.  I enjoy being able to dissect the nuances behind various tax positions and events, especially with someone who knows as much or more than I do.  It’s just plain old fun :)

How about you?  What can you talk about for hours?  Will I be surprised?  Let me know!


Textures in My Backyard


This week’s photo challenge is “texture”.  There are all kinds of great pictures out there to interpret it and I encourage you to click here and check them out.

I eagerly scoured my photos looking for textures until I realized that the photos from my own backyard had some interesting textures of their own!


The two photos above are the trumpet vines that provide privacy between us and our neighbor, whose driveway and garage is just feet away from our deck.  I noticed that the open flowers were facing to the east and when the sun hit them in the morning, they were glowing.  The leaves have all kinds of striations on them, the unopened flowers are smooth and waxy, and the open flowers have a slight velvety texture (complete with moving ants!).

I didn’t see the hummingbird the morning that I photographed the trumpet vine, but it’s been hanging around again this summer.  It really likes the trumpet vine flowers and often in the fall, when the leaves come down, we will find a tiny nest in the vines.

I also found this walking around the deck railing.  It’s a type of assassin bug called a “wheel bug“, named for the large half wheel in the middle of its back.  Talk about textures – look at that wheel, the abdomen, and even the shiny eye.  And yes, it was watching me.  The whole time I photographed it, those eyes stayed focused on me.


Wheel bugs are considered beneficial bugs for the garden.  That long snout is used to pierce through caterpillars, Japanese beetles, and aphids, and suck them dry.

That wasn’t the only texture outside with me that day!  Who could resist scratching that nearly hairless tummy?  The sunbeam came along and captured a miniature pinscher.  For as thick as his pelt is, his tummy barely has any short hairs covering it.


The sunbeam tried to capture a beagle as well.  It must be his age (he just turned nine), but he seems to be shaggier each time I look at him.  For being August and hot, the beagle has tufts of fur everywhere, even in his paws.


From his smooth wet nose to those soft silky ears and his coarse fur, a beagle is a total texture package.  And if you’d like to find out for yourself, he’d love you to come over and pet him!  Just be sure to bring some treats.