I am not a photographer who takes still life subject matter. I understand the concepts of it and I love seeing it when done well by others. But for me, it’s too much fussing for the end result.
I had more thoughts on this several years ago when I took a macro photography class from Bryan Peterson. I spent all day wrestling with my subject matter, made a bunch of mistakes, and decided that it wasn’t for me (you can see the post here).
So in Week 3 of Kim Klassen’s class, A Month of Multiples, we had an assignment to shoot a still life. After enough procrastination, I decided on a different subject matter for my still life.
I offer for your laughter “Beagle as Still Life”. Nothing, but nothing, will interfere with his naps, except maybe the crinkle of a cheese wrapper or the rattle of his harness. His sleep is an essential part of his daily routine and when it’s nap time, all other life ceases. Some days, we even check to make sure he’s still breathing.
So here is my still life for the Week 3 assignment. As one of my blogging friends commented, it certainly was still!
“I think daily life is the most beautiful and wonderful thing that anyone can have.” – Ana Tijoux
“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Week 2 with A Month of Multiples (Kim Klassen) had several assignments, including documenting everyday life and real (raw) life. I combined them together to a week in my life.
Walking at the local park – I love going here. It has paved paths which is nice when it’s rainy or I’m tired. The dirt paths give my feet and ankles a great workout, although I have to be careful not to trip. Best of all, it’s only a 5 minute drive from the house!
A day trip to do some photography – We drove to the western edge of Virginia to a town called Dayton. It was cute, we had a nice lunch at a local restaurant, chatted with a number of locals (our cameras and tripods created a lot of curiosity), and got some nice pictures. In this picture, the Blue Ridge Mountains are in the background.
Reading on the deck with a clingy old dog – He’s getting even more tumors and instead of being squishy, they’re rock hard. He’s not breathing right either. But when I go outside to read on the deck, he wants to be there with me. I’m loving him as much as possible while I still have him.
Trimming nails for the same old dog – Since he doesn’t go outside much anymore, his nails grow long really fast. I think it’s easier for him to walk if they’re short, but since he hates getting them cut, I’ve let them get longer. It’s not ideal, but I don’t want to argue with him over it anymore. It’s not fun for either one of us.
Taking a walk around the neighborhood – Between our subdivision and the sidewalks on the main roads, I can go a good long ways. I usually turn around at this corner, but I always enjoy taking a minute to enjoy how pretty it is.
Our crepe myrtle came in bloom a second time! – All the crepe myrtles came back in bloom recently and they’re even more lush than they were in July. We’ve never had that happen before, but they must be liking the cooler weather and rain.
Walking an old beagle twice a day – His walks are mostly sniffing for cats in the storm sewers these days, so he gets his own walk separate from mine. On the days it’s super hot or he’s limping, our walks consist of checking out the side and front yard. It makes him happy and helps him sleep better.
So that’s my raw and real life! Thanks for coming along and having a chuckle at how awesome my days are.
I started keeping a bullet journal this month and as part of my month end migration, I put together a short list of the things I learned this month. With doing a daily reflection, it’s easy to see what happened!
I learned how to do a bullet journal! It still needs tweaking, but it’s a good answer to not needing a daily planner with my new retired life.
I put together a vision board for the first time ever. I use the One Little Word class with Ali Edwards, but have never done the vision boards in the past. I’m not sure I’ll do it again – they really don’t appeal to me nor do I have the wall space to hang it up because of too many bookshelves. It was fun to try though.
I also clarified what I want to explore (a new life) – that stumped me for a little when I started working on the vision board. Of course, had I reread the January exercises first, I’d already had that answer.
I tried some new software – Trello, a digital organizer using an index card-type format as well as Dropbox Business for cloud backup. Trello didn’t work the way I needed, but Dropbox is doing awesome. I also relearned some things I haven’t done for a while – how to print photos on my Canon Pixma and how to use the laminator.
I found that two walks a day with the beagle makes us both really tired. Neither of us are young anymore. But we’re still doing it on the nice days. It won’t be long before it’s too hot again.
I realized that part of why I’m not blogging is that I’ve been busy with so many other things. It’s not good or bad, it’s a season in life.
Last year, my favorite boy toy and I traveled extensively, both in-state and out-of-state. Some of the trips were to see our daughter, grandsons, and bestest son-in-law. One trip was to see my Dad and family in Texas. But mostly we wandered.
I took nearly 2500 pictures last year, often with my cell phone. It’s always on me, it takes reasonably good pictures, and it’s easier to post to Facebook later.
As this year has gone on, I found myself needing some new interests. Unfortunately, very little appealed to me.
I finally set the following criteria:
It could not require hours behind a computer. I spend all day in front of a screen for my job and I can’t do it at home all night and weekend too. I love my camera as a means to take a walk, but hours of post photo processing are not fun.
I wanted something physically active. It didn’t have to be anything hard core, but I wanted something that was more than sitting around (see the first point above).
I also wanted something where I could grow and learn, something where I could take classes, ask questions, and experiment to a higher knowledge level.
Hello kind and gentle readers! It’s me, the beagle, reporting on what’s happening around the backyard. Mom and Dad took down the garden last year. They said it was too much work for what they got out of it. Plus there was a little problem with destruction. Apparently one of the dogs kept playing in it.
Waddya mean, get out of the garden?
I do NOT go in the garden! Ever.
What? I’m not doing anything!
Just chilling in my cave under the tomato plants
And when the tomatoes ripened, the mockingbirds and squirrels ate them up.
Remember on the old Frazier show, how it would always end with “Frazier has left the building“, a riff of course on the phrase, “Elvis has left the building“. Well, in response to weekly photo challenge for this week on muse, I find it hard to show what’s calling to me because nothing is.
Orange is warmth and sunlight, whether on my face or basking in a smile from my daughter.
Orange is the glory of flowers, showing off their brilliance for all to see and enjoy.
It is delicate sunrises and spectacular sunsets.
It is fruits and vegetables, lined up gaily, whether for eating or decorations.
Orange is the first beauty of fall, the beginning of the long slide into winter (of which I’ve had enough, thank you).
It’s the color of a beagle’s head, waiting to be petted.
To see how others interpreted this week’s photo challenge for orange, click here.
Inspiration and A Funny Story
I’d like to thank Robin at Reflections For My Soul. The flowers she posted reminded me of warmth and sunlight. The day I viewed them, we had just had sleet and snow and then the temperatures went below freezing and stayed there.
Funny story there – I have two Robin’s who follow my blog and regularly leave comments. Yep, two of them. So when Robin at Reflections For My Soul started following me, I was initially confused, thinking that Robin at Breezes at Dawn had changed her avatar from the pictures of her crossed feet to that of a western style hat. It took me a few days to realize that no, I actually had two blogging friends named Robin and they were not the same person.
Before and After
Interested in the before and after of these photos? The sunset was truly that spectacular, being caused by a fire in the Great Dismal Swamp (yes, that’s really it’s name), causing a high level of air pollution due to the particulates it was throwing up. The best camera is the one you have with and that night it was my old Canon point and shoot, the Pro1. It didn’t have a lot of megapixels, but I got the shot! I posted another version of this several years ago, here.
In the last few weeks, I’ve had some discussions with Stacy Fisher at Visual Venturing and Dee & Gee at Dee Gee’s Photograph Australia about camera gear and post processing our pictures. The reason I bring it up is to encourage you to look closer at these pictures. It is wonderful to have good gear, which is why I upgraded last year from the Canon Rebel 3Ti to a Canon 6D. It’s also wonderful to use camera raw to get some extra help when post processing your photos.
But we can take the pictures from the old point and shoots, the pictures we took in jpg instead of camera raw, and the pictures that are just marginal, and make them better. They’re still usable! Yes, they might be better with a better camera, but at least for me, it was an evolution. My husband about sat on me to get to me upgrade my old point and shoot to a DSLR, the Rebel (I wouldn’t spend more than that). Even then, I wouldn’t shoot raw nor was I using Lightroom yet. Finally – FINALLY – I started using Lightroom. Cee Neuner and Steve Schwartzman in the blogging community encouraged me to shoot raw when I asked how they were shooting reds without the colors looking muddy. My husband was happy for someone else to convince me to do it since he was unable to do so.
So here are the before and after shots, with the camera and type of shot used. Remember that with a jpg, the camera is making post processing decisions for you. That is why, straight out of the camera, a jpg looks pretty good. With camera raw, the camera makes no or minimal decisions, depending on your settings. You have to tell it everything, which is why the raw pictures below look so poor. The upside is there is a great more data available, so a picture can be really pushed with processing before it develops problems.
Taken with the Canon EOS 6D, using camera raw:
Original photo of my daughter in downtown Bar Harbor, Maine.
My daughter in downtown Bar Harbor, Maine. Post processed with Topaz Effects “Exposure Correction” and on1 border “Platinum Brush”.
Taken with the Canon Rebel 3Ti, using camera raw:
Original photo of marigolds taken in the gardens at Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia.
Marigolds taken in the gardens at Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia. Processed with Topaz Impressions “Abstract 2” and on1 border “Dano”.
Taken with the Canon Powershot Pro1, using jpg:
Original photo of sunset taken in Richmond, Virginia.
Sunset in Richmond, Virginia. Post processed with Topaz Effects “Warm Tone 2” and on1 border “Sloppy Border 8”.
Taken with the Canon Rebel 3Ti, using jpg:
Original photo of pumpkins taken in Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia.
Pumpkins taken in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. Post processed using Topaz Impressions, “Rembrandt 2” and on1 border, “Black Key”.
Taken with the Canon Rebel 3Ti, using jpg:
Original photo of gazebo at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens in Richmond, Virginia.
Gazebo at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens in Richmond, Virginia. Processed in Lightroom with on1 border “Ghost Effect Black”.
Taken with the Canon EOS 6D, using camera raw:
Orginial photo of the beagle in the backyard.
Beagle in the backyard. Post processed with Topaz Impressions “Oil Painting by Jim LaSala” and on1 border “Russell”.
So stay encouraged. Keep taking pictures. Keep improving. And keep using the old pictures as well as the new. You’ve worked hard for your inventory and even if you can’t use them now, who knows what future software will make them usable?
For those who read this all the way to the bottom (thank you!), here is a final thought:
Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery it is. In the boredom and pain of it, no less than in the excitement and gladness; touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it, because in the last analysis all moments are key moments and life itself is grace.
– Frederick Buechner, American writer and theologian
Dear kind and gentle readers – yes, it’s once again me, the beagle.
I’m really liking Mom being home during the day. Why? Because she’s taking me for a walk nearly every day. Oh such joy – I get to check pee mail! Poop on the neighbors lawns! And best of all, I’m finding all kinds of things to eat.
I go along, nose to the ground, when suddenly I get a whiff of something. The other day at the park, I took off into the woods, shuffling through leaves that were nearly halfway up my short little legs. Mom let the retractable leash out, not dreaming that I was on the scent of something yummy until I snatched up a stale bun. Whoa – did she ever reel me in. Worse yet, she dug it out of my mouth and told me I was a bad boy. Then she threw it back into the woods. I got the last laugh though. As we walked away, I turned around, snatched it back up and nearly got it down before she dug it out of my mouth again. ** sigh ** I was so close to eating it too.
I’m keeping a pretty good trot out there! Mom’s getting a brisk walk in and so am I. In fact, the other day she texted Dad that I was acting wild. So she walked me around the entire park. THE WHOLE PARK. I could barely make it back to the car! In fact, we were nearly there and I just ran out of mojo. She finally coaxed me back to the car and then – this is so embarrassing – she had to boost my butt up into the car because I was too tired to hop in.
For some reason, her and Dad found it incredibly funny when we get home. Just because I stood there in the hallway, swaying on my feet and trying to sleep while keeping an eye on Mom. Because I knew she was getting ready to take my brother, the Vizsla, out for his walk. How dare she? Those walks are for ME. NOT him. She left despite my vigilance and I made sure to howl and sob so she could hear me all the way out to the street. Yeah, until Dad yelled at me to stop. Hey! I’m entitled to ALL the walks! Who knows what I’m missing out there!?!?!
I slept the rest of the day. In fact, I might have been snoring. Dad complained about having trouble hearing the television, although more likely it was my brother. I’m sure it couldn’t have been me.