Looking Towards the Sun

“And I learned what is obvious to a child. That life is simply a collection of little lives, each lived one day at a time. That each day should be spent finding beauty in flowers and poetry and talking to animals. That a day spent with dreaming and sunsets and refreshing breezes cannot be bettered.”
― Nicholas Sparks

This was post processed using Edward Hopper 1 in Topaz Studio and a 2 Lil’ Owls texture from the Exposition collection. Finishing touches in ON1 included a surreal dynamic contrast, lens blur for the vignette and the border, instant.

Life’s Daily Harvest

Happy Valentine’s Day!

The true harvest of my daily life is somewhat as intangible and indescribable as the tints of morning or evening. It is a little stardust caught, a segment of the rainbow which I have clutched. . .

Walden by Henry David Thoreau

Every time I see these plants in my photo inventory, they make me smile. They’re nothing special – easy to grow, prolific, and common. But they’re pretty. They wave in the breeze, follow the sun with their big faces, and brighten up the garden.

Even if common, we all need some beauty and color. Life is hard in so many ways. We’re all busy, tired and stressed. Having something that is pretty for the sake of pretty is refreshing.

This photo of caladium plants was taken at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. Here’s the original photo:

Caladium plant, straight from the camera

After my usual adjustments in Lightroom (cropping, color adjustment, etc), I post processed this in Topaz Studios, using BuzSim and Chalk Smudge Light CS. I added three textures to it from 2 Lil Owls. The textures helped bring up the colors and darken the edges. I then finished off in onOne for a vignette and border.

My post processing steps are below. Remember that Photoshop layers start from the bottom and work up. As a result, my watermark at the top is the last step in the process.

What small thing has made you smile lately? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Working a Day Job – Part 2

Gazebo at Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, taken earlier this year.  The sky really was that blue that day!
Gazebo at Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, taken earlier this year. The sky really was that blue that day!

Yesterday, I began a discussion on how working a day job nurtures my creativity.  Today, I want to explore more of this:

Exposure to New Technology

My day job uses technology nearly all day long, from complex tax software to Microsoft Office and other specialty pieces of software.  There’s usually very little training for this – my co-workers and I struggle together to learn it and explain it to each other.  We have to learn it – there’s no choice – and learn it well due to the constant pressure of getting more done with less and less resources.

This model serves me well as I nurture my creativity.  What I don’t know, I can figure out.  For Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom, I can take classes on lynda.com or ask my favorite boy toy.  For my blogging, there are extensive forums and help content to explore or I can search the Internet.  This is all similar and familiar to what I do at work.  Those same problem solving skills that I use to do my job effectively and efficiently are the same ones needed to use technology for my creative expression.

Above all, I know I need to just experiment.  It’s the best way to learn technology, as long as I’m careful to not wreck whatever I’m working on.

Business Knowledge

Another intangible benefit of my day job is the overall business knowledge it gives me.  It’s not a perfect knowledge, but I’m way ahead of the typical artist.  Although I do not sell my work, I understand there are costs that should not run amuck (i.e., keeping a budget).  I understand taxes, forms of business, how to read contracts, and the politics of the business world.  Well, I do sometimes.  Other days, I wonder what exactly I do know!

Still. . . the point is that my day job gives me constant exposure to the business world.  This helps me when I’m looking at the differences between wordpress.com and wordpress.org (.com is free and therefore does not allow advertising as compared to .org which allows you to accept advertising dollars, but you are responsible for everything from spam filters to firewalls).  It helps me when I’m reviewing my homeowners insurance and how it covers my camera gear, which is why I use a personal articles policy instead.  It even helps when I’m comparing different models of computers, their costs and what the warranties are providing.

How does this nurture my creativity?  I have to spend a lot less time on the mundane, administrative stuff.  There are less missteps and I raise more questions quickly.  My decisions are not perfect, but I struggle less to reach them than the artists my husband knows who do not have this background and are not married to someone who does.

I Have Money To Spend

One of the really great benefits of a day job is having money to spend on my photography and writing.  I don’t have an unlimited budget, but I am able to buy cameras and computers when it’s time.  Three years ago, I upgraded from a top end point-and-shoot camera to my first DSLR, a Canon Rebel.  It’s been a great camera and I’ve taken many wonderful pictures with it.  But a month ago, I wanted a better camera, something with a full frame sensor that would improve the quality of my shots, especially when I was processing night shots or something noisy.  After a short deliberation, I replaced my Rebel with a Canon 6D, and upgraded to an “L” lens for my main zoom lens.  This was a big step for me, but I’m glad that I could afford it.

Likewise, it’s been nice the last few years to take some vacations.  For my boy toy and I, they turn into photography trips.  That’s okay, I enjoy shooting pictures with him even though he rolls me out of bed before daybreak to go chasing the sunrises.  I’m glad we could afford those also.  For more on how we share our passion for photography, click here.

Having money to spend on my creativity is huge.  So many artists struggle with having the financial resources to buy what they need.  I’m glad I don’t have to do that.

More Tomorrow

That’s enough for today.  Tomorrow I will wrap this up and share about Wallace Stevens. Here is a final thought from Wallace Stevens, an observation on the beauty around us:

Beauty is momentary in the mind —
The fitful tracing of a portal;
But in the flesh it is immortal.

The body dies; the body’s beauty lives.
So evenings die, in their green going,
A wave, interminably flowing.
― Wallace Stevens

Click here to see Part 1 of Working a Day Job; click here for Part 3.

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.


Pale Skies Are Pretty

I love taking pictures of clouds.  I have no idea what I’ll do with them, but I ooh and aah over them to no end.  I’m actually struggling a bit with this right now and have taken off a few days from my photo a day project.  I love my pictures of clouds and flowers, gardens and cute little homes.  But 20 years from now, what will they matter?  What I’ll want to see is what I was doing – the people in my life, my pets, my hobbies, the things I did with my life.

I recently found an album of a family trip that from over 40 years ago.  My Dad labeled all the photos very nicely.  The mountains are pretty and so are the pictures of the gardens and hotels.  But what I want to spend time on are the pictures of my grandparents and great-aunt, of how young my mother looked, of the things my sister and I did during that trip.

So I’m taking a little break, thinking through what I want to do with this project besides take more pictures of downtown, which is about all I have available during the week.

In the meantime, here’s a cloud picture from earlier this year, with delicate shades of pale pink.

© 2011 dogear6 llc

Word for tomorrow – NIMBLE.  If you prefer to work ahead, see the list for the week under “A Word A Day”.

Rake Leaves For Fun

One of the places we lived allowed leaves to be burned in the yards.  Our yard, while small, had a number of mature trees.  I enjoyed going out to rake the leaves and exercise in the cool air of fall.  We set aside a corner of the yard for burning the leaves; it was so satisfying to stand there, leaning on the rake, enjoying the heat of the fire and smelling the leaves burning.

I usually raked the leaves by myself, but when they started burning, my favorite toy boy and the child would stand around with me to enjoy this.  I probably should have insisted they raked with me, but I enjoyed the solitude of the yard and the mindless action of raking.

It’s hard to believe we are officially into fall.  Leaves are just starting to turn here, although peak colors are usually about four weeks away from now.   This picture is from upstate New York, which has gorgeous fall colors even though you can’t burn the leaves in your yard :)

Have a good weekend!

© 2011 dogear6 llc

Word for tomorrow – ABROAD.  If you prefer to work ahead, see the list for the week under “A Word A Day”.

Indispensable Is Beauty & Sunshine

I find beauty and sunshine to be indispensable in my life.  It bothers me to see the casually ugly – street signs blocking views, construction equipment in the way of everything, roads and sidewalks spray painted for utilities.  Seriously people – that stuff doens’t come back off again.  It’s not like the grass where it’ll grow out.

It’s hard for me when I walk around downtown.  There are so many beautiful things there, from the old and new buildings, the sculptures, the flowers and trees, even birds and bird nests.  But nearly all the views are marred with something that doesn’t belong there.  It makes what is beautiful into ugly and removes the graciousness from daily life.  I know this doesn’t bother everybody, but it bothers me a lot.

This beauty was taken at Williamsburg a few weeks ago.

© 2011 dogear6 llc

Word for tomorrow – MINIATURE.  If you prefer to work ahead, see the list for the week under “A Word A Day”.