Looking Through the Window

I love looking in windows when I’m taking pictures. Part of it is wondering how others live, but I think a bigger part is just curiosity as to what’s there. I liked this storefront window – not only was it decorated colorfully, but you could see all the way through to the building behind it, which is not common.

This triptych finished the window in three different styles. I originally started working on it as a creativity exercise on minimalism then moved onto another exercise in black & white.

One of the things I like about doing creativity exercises is that it expands my skills and gets me out of my comfort zone. I don’t have to like the end result, I need to be open to trying and failing. It’s frustrating sometimes though, having to sit and think what do I do next? And how do I do it? Thankfully Google offers up a lot of answers, as do the forums for my various photography software.

The middle photo was my usual fine art photography style, using Topaz Studio 1.

The left one was from Topaz Studio 2, AI Remix. My intention was to try something really different and I did! It turned out pretty good but is definitely not my usual style.

The right style was black and white with a high key. I don’t usually like black and white, but this also turned out good. I used ON1 for the rendering.

These pictures were taken at a store front in Dayton, Virginia.

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.

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.

Bee Chases Bee

My turn! My turn!
*

Photo taken at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
Richmond, Virginia
*

While photographing the bees with my camera, I’ve observed how they attempt to knock each other off the flowers. I imagine it’s a survival technique – if the flower is good, why should they try a different one even though others are nearby without competiton?

The bees try to chase away each other, as well as wasps, butterflies, beetles, and anything else that might be collecting pollen. Sometimes they’re successful in getting the prize, other times they lose and have to find their own flower.

What’s interesting is that the butterflies aren’t easily dislodged. Often I hear a thunk as the bee bounces off a butterfly and careens off, usually acting a bit wobbly.

This was post processed using;

  • Topaz Studio – AI Clear, Precision, and Contrast; Abstraction 2 provided simplification
  • OnOne – Sunshine Radiance
  • Textures – 2 Lil’ Owls Canteen and French Script Collection
  • Border – Photomorphis Textural Borders

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.

Memorial Day Observance

Memorial Park Cemetery
Sioux City, Iowa
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Those who have long enjoyed such privileges as we enjoy

forget in time that men have died to win them.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt
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# # #

I’ve loved this photo for years. It wasn’t very good, but the emotions when I saw those flags was so strong that day and it has stayed with me ever since. Let me put it this way – it only took me a couple of minutes to dig this out of all the film photos I have stored!

This year finally, my skill set was good enough to do something with it.

I created this using the following:

From Topaz Studio:

  • Finger Painting
  • Crisp Morning Run

From on1:

  • Radiance Sunshine
  • Black Soft Glow
  • Red Door Texture
  • Subtle Vignette
  • Dano Border

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

Winter Beauty

Deep Run Park, Richmond, Virginia

To the attentive eye, each moment of the year has its own beauty, and in the same field, it beholds, every hour, a picture which was never seen before, and which shall never be seen again.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson, Beauty in All Hours


I took this picture during one of my winter walks at our local park. The day was cool without many people walking (always a surprise around here). I love how the bare branches interplay with the evergreens and sky.

The great thing about walking – besides just getting some fresh air – is how it builds up my feet and ankles. I can stand longer in the kitchen to cook or to hike farther on my photography trips without pain.

When I get off path at this park, the ground is uneven with lots of gnarly roots. I’ve wrenched my foot and fallen a few times. It’s a good workout though and walking in the woods always makes the day better.

The picture started out as this:

My initial processing cropped the picture down and removed the bright red coat from the dock. Should I process this again, I think I’d leave that in next time.

The remaining processing was done in Topaz, with a finishing vignette and frame from onOne. The details are as follows:

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!