Walk in Wonder

It’s late autumn in the far southern part of the United States. I’m enjoying late afternoon walks near my house and here are ten things I’ve noticed while walking:

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond, Virginia
  1. The warmth of the late afternoon. No matter how cold the mornings are starting, by the late afternoon, I don’t need a coat to walk outside. The same temperature in the spring feels much cooler, I think because the earth is retaining cold. But at this time of the year, the earth is retaining warmth.

  2. The trees have such variety! Some are golden yellow (no red ones on my walk), others have no leaves, some have barely started to change. But overall, the branches are more bare and it is a definite look of autumn. Interestingly enough, our crepe myrtle is nearly bare and our neighbor’s tree, which borders our yard, is still green and lush with leaves. I wonder if they watered it more when it was so hot in the summer.

  3. The clacking of the leaves as they fall or bang against each other. I always know when summer is ending because while the leaves are still green and on the trees, they’ve dried out and make noise when they hit against each other. That accelerates in late fall though – dried leaves on the pavement and sidewalks has a distinctive sound. It’s melancholy – winter isn’t far behind – and a signal that it’s time to put summer to bed and get ready for winter.

  4. The crunching of the leaves under my feet as I walk. My grandsons (and their mother before them) love to drag their feet and hear the leaves crunch. Even my beagle enjoyed it! If there was a big pile of leaves somewhere, he had to walk through it both to sniff what was there and I really think he enjoyed hearing it too.

  5. The street can be slippery with all the leaves, especially when it’s wet. I have to be careful to not walk on top of a bunch of leaves on the pavement. I can feel them slipping under my feet on some days; I walk in the middle where there’s less leaves and my footing is more sure.

  6. Our neighbors are burning leaves and a tree that they’ve taken down. It’s more smoke than I’d like when I’m near it, but when I’m at the other side of the neighborhood, it smells good. Burning leaves has always been a sign of autumn and goodbye to summer.

  7. With the leaves down, there’s so much more sunlight on my face as I walk. I have to make sure I bring a hat, although even with more sunlight, it’s not always warm. Somedays I still need a coat, especially when I’m in the shade.

  8. I love the light at this time of the year! No matter when I take my camera out, it’s always a warm yellow, from morning to late afternoon. I don’t take my camera to walk around the neighborhood, but I still observe the gorgeous light that the autumn brings, from the trees to the house windows to the overall scenery.

  9. A neighbor is using their outside grill. I can smell the meat cooking and the charcoal. It’s making me hungry! It also reminds me to buy a pork shoulder to smoke on my Big Green Egg this weekend. I love using the Egg in the cooler weather. I’m not fighting the bugs or mosquitoes and it’s very primal to play with fire when it’s cold outside.

  10. It’s so much easier to breathe at this time of the year. The humidity is down, but it’s not so cold yet that my bronchial tubes hurt. As a result, I can go farther and the hills aren’t so hard to walk up.

What are your favorite observations when you go for a walk at this time of the year? Please. . . add to my list!

Bee Butt Cuteness

Bumblebee at work on a thistle
Taken at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens
Richmond, Virginia
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“Bees do have a smell, you know, and if they don’t they should,

for their feet are dusted with spices from a million flowers.”

Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine
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The sight of this bumblebee buried deep in the flower made me laugh. As I looked for a quote to use, I realized that I didn’t have a bee butt in the picture. Instead, I photographed an upside down bee that was so laden with pollen, it looked like it was wearing pantaloons.

I was surprised to find there’s a Pinterest board for bee butts, as well as articles, tweets and all kinds of social media.

And those little round fuzzy rumps are cute as long as they aren’t sitting on me.

The original picture had a leg sticking up, looking like a turkey drumstick. I cloned that out. It was funny, but not picturesque.

The picture was post processed mostly in Topaz Studio by using AI Gigapixel to upsize it, AI Clear to remove noise and BuzSim 2 for the abstract look. Black Dust and Black Magic 3 textures in the background were from 2 Lil Owls. The picture was finished in onOne with a center spot vignette and torn paper frame.

Perfect Peony

Tree Peony at
The Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
Richmond, Virginia
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Sometimes I don’t realize that I’ve taken a perfect picture until I get home and start reviewing my work. That was the case with this tree peony.

The color, the symmetry, the unfolding of the petals – all made for a rich and luxurious flower, waiting for me to release it to the world.

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The background was replaced with Daily Texture’s Sweet Tooth. Finishing was done in ON1 with radiance sunshine, center spot vignette, and the Martha border.

This was taken at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens in Richmond, Virginia.

What I Learned – March 2019

A Waterfall of Spring Flowers
Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, Richmond Virginia
* * *

It was interesting to reach over my daily reflections in March and list what I learned (or was reminded of):

  • Be more protective of my creative time. If I pay bills, cook, take a walk, go shopping, or visit with friends during my peak times, I won’t feel like writing or working on my photography later.
  • To appreciate good health – my husband had two retinal surgeries in March and we’re still waiting to see if he’s had permanent damage or not to his right eye. We expected to have surgery on his left eye, but the surgery on his right eye was an unplanned surprise.
  • Be careful in choosing a daily practice for my One Little Word, which is explore. I chose to do a scripture study, which I very much enjoyed. However, I was writing too much in my journal and didn’t do it consistently enough. I plan to continue with this study method, but probably not daily. Next year, I’d rather do something fun and light.
  • I want to have a larger life. I want to have more fun, be more lighthearted, and not so serious all the time. I have no idea how I’ll do that, but it’s on my goal list for this year. I’ve worked on this over the years (one year was so bad, I had trouble putting together 25 accomplishments for the year!) but would like it to be more natural and not having to remind myself of it all the time.
  • If you feed a beagle enough green beans, he will lose weight. He’s lost four pounds since last fall and is looking much better. I guess I need to start eating more green beans. . .

This picture was post processed using:

  • Topaz Studios BuzSim and Winter Fairytale
  • Daily Textures by Jai Johnson from the February 2019 collection
  • OnOne’s Big Softy vignette and Courtney border

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!

Roses and Textures

From the rose garden at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens in Richmond, Virginia

One thing I particularly enjoy about post processing my photos is learning new things.

Joining a monthly club for textures encouraged me to stretch my skills in a new direction. Each month, Denise Love of 2 Lil Owls releases new textures to club members, along with instruction videos. There are also extra goodies, from retired texture collections to presets for Lightroom and /or Adobe Photoshop.

Having to log in each month to retrieve my goodies also encourages me to use the textures and goodies, as they disappear shortly after the next month gets released. The Facebook group for 2 Lil Owls gives me ideas and inspiration as well. There are many talented photographers showing their work and providing tips.

It’s been fun! And as I get more comfortable using this as a tool, I’ve found new ways to use it in my regular post processing. I’ve used the textures to warm up photos, enhance skies, and bring out colors.

The picture above used textures from the January collection, Cabaret. These textures are bold with significant texture and an opaque color. As a result, they needed a bold picture to stand up to them. I also used a Black Dust texture (another goody from January). Interestingly, black textures provide patterns without leaving color.

This is the original picture. It’s not bad straight from the camera!

Original picture, straight from the camera

Below is how I transformed it. Photoshop layers start from the bottom and work up. As a result, my watermark at the top is the last step in the process.

I think this went from a good picture to an awesome one. Of course, textures won’t cover up a bad picture, but even good pictures can be made better.

What have you done lately to stretch your creativity? Leave me a note and let me know!

2016 Word – Hustle

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Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

In the early part of 2016, I used One Word to frame the year and my intentions. The word that chose me was “hustle” after I’d done Jon Acuff’s “30 Days of Hustle” in January. Although I’d initially picked something else as my word, it became apparent that was to be my word this year. I can’t say I was too thrilled with it and I didn’t quite warm up to it until this fall.

I didn’t want to hustle anymore. I wanted down time, time with family and friends, time to have more fun, and to not be constantly striving.

Continue reading “2016 Word – Hustle”

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.

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:

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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:

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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.

Continue reading “Looking Up From the Ground”