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.

One Spot Challenge

I’m doing a photography class with Kim Klassen titled “The Month of Multiples”. It’s purpose is to encourage us to really look at what we’re photographing and shoot with intentionality.

I took the class a) for inspiration in my photography; b) Kim is a great teacher and I always learn something and c) it sounded fun / interesting.

The take-away for the first week? Don’t be so busy behind the computer that you neglect taking pictures. Yep, that’s easy to have happen.

Week 1 had a one spot challenge, which wasn’t hard to do at the botanical garden. The goal was to truly look at what’s in front of us and take multiple pictures without wandering more than four feet away.

Of course, having a zoom lens and the ability to crop my photos helps too. It was pretty breezy at the moment I took these. That poor butterfly was whipped back and forth and I had to wait for the plant to stop moving before I even got this. Even so, it’s a bit over to one side.

I loved these grasses! There was no signage telling me what they were, but the backlighting made them shine like little jewels. And those green mounds were gorgeous.

These pretty little flowers just begged for a close-up study.

The last one in here was at the end of the curve in the first photo so it was not within four feet of the one spot. But when I got down there, I turned around and looked back and thought huh. Not bad!

I don’t usually take pictures facing that way, but I did this time. So I was paying attention and shooting with intention.

I took many more pictures than this, but they weren’t in one spot. The biggest surprise was the crepe myrtles were back in bloom for a second time – big deep, lush, beautiful blooms. Even better than they were a month ago. Apparently some rain and cooler temperatures were to their liking!

Taking a Walk

Smiling Back at Me
Taken at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
Richmond, Virginia
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I love taking walks and often use my camera as an excuse to do so. Having a wonderful botanical garden so close to my house makes a big difference too – I can be there with a short drive and the scenery changes constantly.

With my camera, I’m much more observant on my walks. This is true with my cell phone camera as well. I’m looking and scanning for what could be an interesting picture. I’m also looking to see what’s new, different, or what’s changed since the last time I was there.

Not every picture is perfect and not every photo is worthy of post processing work. But by showing up and taking pictures frequently, many are in fact worth further work. But to have such pictures in my inventory, I have to be out there taking them.

The flowers above are so cheery – I feel like they’re just waiting for me to smile back at them.

This was post processed using the Fresh Start Haze and Soft Boost actions from 2 Lil’ Owls. Textures were from Jai Johnson’s Impressionist Spring and Splendid Spring collections. Topaz provided the Artries Movie Poster abstraction, and ON1 was used for various finishing effects.

Virginia Is For Lovers

LOVE Sign, One of Many Around the State
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Richmond, Virginia
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Virginia has these LOVE signs around the state, including at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, where I hang out. It’s a shout-out to the state them of “Virginia Is For Lovers”. This one (of course!) has a gardening theme.

I didn’t realize it was a state wide thing until I started seeing them come up on the Exploring Virginia Facebook page. So here’s my contribution and some links where you can see the other signs.

http://www.chesapeakeliving.com/virginias-love-signs/ https://www.12abouttown.com/virginiaisforlovers-guide-finding-love-signs/ https://www.virginia.org/love

Missing: A Personality

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Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens in March

I seem to have lost my personality recently.

My “part-time” job has been fairly high stress due to some turnover and I’ve been working a lot of hours to transition, streamline, and meet tax due dates. I’ll get those hours back, but not for a while.

If you want to discuss Excel functions and formulas, downloads from the general ledger, and strengthening the accounting around the tax filings, I’m your man! Or person, as it would be.

But if you want to discuss what I’m reading lately (all the  J.D. Robb’s starting with the first one), what television shows I’m watching (reruns of Numb3rs), and what hobbies I’ve been enjoying (none), forget about it.

Continue reading “Missing: A Personality”

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”

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

Continue reading “It’s Beautiful Everywhere”

A Late Winter Walk

Path at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, Richmond, Virginia
Path at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, Richmond, Virginia

The world is but a canvas to the imagination.
– Henry David Thoreau

A few days before the official start of spring, I took a walk at one of my favorite places, the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens. The shadows were lovely, even though the trees are still bare. The crocus were in bloom – just barely – so spring is definitely on its way.

Crocus at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, Richmond, Virginia
Crocus at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, Richmond, Virginia

The last time I shared pictures from the botanical gardens, it was still early fall (click here to see) and there was an abundance of colors all over. The day I took these photos did not have such. I still enjoyed being there, but had kept my expectations low as to what I would see.

The gazebo at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, Richmond, Virginia
The gazebo at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, Richmond, Virginia

When the leaves are down, I see things that are otherwise covered up. I made that observation years ago and it’s still true today.

Greenhouse from the side at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, Richmond, Virginia
Greenhouse from the side at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, Richmond, Virginia

Here’s another view of the greenhouse. I don’t normally stand this far back, but I loved the composition of the center of the greenhouse against the empty trees.

Front view of the greenhouse at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, Richmond, Virginia
Front view of the greenhouse at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, Richmond, Virginia

I also don’t normally photograph the bridge from the gazebo (my gazebo shots are usually taken from the bridge though!), but once again, I liked how the light played with the shapes. Plus it was pretty empty, so I didn’t have to wait so long to get pictures without people in them.

Looking at the bridge at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, Richmond, Virginia
Looking at the bridge at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, Richmond, Virginia

I’ve noticed when I walk the dogs around the neighborhood that the leaves are sounding like fall when they skitter across the blacktopped road. We have a lot of old oak trees around the homes here and they don’t drop their leaves until they’re nearly ready to start putting out new green ones. So everyday there’s more leaves on the grass, the cars, and skittering around in the wind.

Overlooking the pond at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, Richmond, Virginia
Overlooking the pond at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, Richmond, Virginia

I was cold. I didn’t wear a winter coat, but I was wearing a heavier hat and my fingerless gloves.

Self-portrait
Self-portrait

The greenhouse was its usual oasis of warmth and bright colors. I love going in there when it’s cold out! Years ago, a fellow blogger (Patti at A New Day Dawns) left me a comment that the greenhouse was like dessert after a cold day in the garden. I laughed then and I still laugh now at that, because that’s exactly what it reminds me each time I go in there when the garden has so little color. In fact, some of the pictures that I took in January 2012 had more color and foliage than I found in mid-March of 2015.

That statue had a little brown spider (most likely a wolf spider, nothing more) on its head. I didn’t realize it until I was nearly done shooting the picture and the spider moved! And yep, every one of my carefully composed pictures had that little spider on it. I did clone out of the final photo above. Still, wish I’d known it was there. I would have come back later to take the pictures.

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I enjoyed the beauty of the day. No, it’s not the over-the-top cacophony of colors that I see from April to October. But it was pretty, the fresh air was great, and I enjoyed finding new photos that I wouldn’t have probably taken when the trees were in full leaf. It was a good day.

The Joy of Common Work

Visitors Center at Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, Richmond, Virginia
Visitors Center at Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, Richmond, Virginia

. . . Do not grasp at the stars, but do life’s plain, common work as it comes, certain that duties and daily bread are the sweetest things in life.
– Robert Lewis Stevenson

It’s easy for me to get caught up in wanting everything fancy, just like I think everyone else has it.

But of course, very few have everything fancy. For most of us, we have to cook and wash dishes, do laundry, clean, and take care of our children and / or pets.

There’s a joy in it – in the routine of scrubbing pots, folding clothes or sweeping floors. There’s a joy in the pleasure of a dog when you’ve bent over next to them to put on your shoes and they can look up at you and wag their tail.

Joy is everywhere, but we have to remind ourselves to seek it and be aware of it in the little things in our lives. To not let daily living overwhelm the sweet little things of our everyday actions.


For your amusement, below is the original and some experiments. I like the one that includes the “worn brick” texture and really found it hard to choose between it and the one I finally used. Both look good, but for different reasons.