It’s frigid outside. Time for a nice cozy mug of hot cocoa.
This month, I just wanted to have some fanciful fun with Photoshop. So I took some old pictures and experimented with filters, special brushes, layering, and the like. It’s been awhile since I’ve just let myself have fun, so I went a little overboard.
I also wanted to try a more subdued painting look on another photo.
I’ve always liked the winter fantasy land idea.
Now I can go back to normal editing for a few years.
I woke up this morning to find a thin, fresh layer of snow on the roads. It is the middle of April. This should not be. I want spring, and so does everyone else. We are in protest. My boss reportedly put his snow blower away weeks ago. I am not washing any more winter outerwear until I can put it away for the summer. The daffodils are trying, but they keep getting snowed on. Too bad. Some flowers would be really nice right now.
About a week ago after exercise class, I was commiserating with some ladies in the class. One said there were flowers at a local park. From her description, I was hoping they’d be grape hyacinths, but at this point, I’m not picky. There were two colors of what I believe are Scilla and some little yellow flowers. Quite small. I should have brought the macro, but the park is in a so-so area of town, so I was a bit insecure about it.
Old grass and leaves from the winter were still hanging on and refusing seasonal change.
There were ducks in the large cement water feature. It used to be more of a natural pond when I was young, but now it looks like a fountain close to the greenhouse and main gardens and rather like an industrial drainage ditch as you get farther away. The ducks don’t seem to mind though.
The whole world is full of both change and consistency, and here I am wanting to rush one thing on while complaining that another has changed. There will be beauty in the future, but there is also beauty now.
It’s freeze-thaw cycle time around here. We’re more in the thaw today, thankfully. However, one morning last week I went out to get some shots of a creek that was thawing and had frozen in places again. Thaw-freeze, if you will. this makes the ice patterns more interesting and complex. There were also trapped bubbles, and added bonus.
Next Time: Mugs or Spring
I have some more mug photo ideas wandering around in my brain. Otherwise, well see how quickly Spring gets here.
I was going for something that looked like an imaginary world with this. The idea had been bouncing around in my head for several months. Fortunately, the Christmas season intervened and the right tree props became available. The snow is quilt batting, the mirror is from the dollar store, and the “rocks” are flat marbles for flower arranging with nail polish painted on the bottom (like the necklaces I did last year). I decided to put a silver-grey poster board behind it all fearing white would be too blank. It’s supposed to look unreal/otherworldly anyway. In post, I did some cloning on the “rocks”, cleaned up the mirror, fussed with the color, and added some glow filter.
Next Time: More Still Life
I haven’t exactly decided what it’s going to be yet. Maybe more like this or maybe more mugs.
Overall, 2014 was a good year of photographic explorations and blogging. I did some archive posts because of other things I was involved with, and I didn’t finish my video essay (yet). However, I did have some memorable explorations: two new cities, a new park, and some foggy conditions. That and a new camera for higher resolution and video capabilities. I explored and learned a lot. Below are some highlights from 2014:
As usual, I plan to keep blogging every other week and spend a lot of time in nature – all four season are beautiful. I also want to get back into more table top (it’s a skill I need to work at and winter isn’t just beautiful, it’s cold!). Hopefully, I will finish the video, shoot macro, post more good cat photos, and have a few adventures. Only time will tell.
Winter has been cold and snowy for the most part. Last weekend, I braved the icy roads and took a few snow photos at a local park.
Next Time: Frozen Waterfalls
Last year, winter was mild in my area. This year, it is back to normal. So in honor of an actual winter, I’m taking some time off The Big Project to bring you snow photos.
First, I went to the local forest preserve, a well-known area I can safely navigate in the snow.
Water had oozed out of the limestone bluffs and formed murky icicles.
The creek was mostly frozen, with small areas of running water breaking up the ice.
Back home, I went to check out the spruce. It always has interesting ice and snow deposits.
Winter. It can be annoying, but it can also be beautiful. Live with the bad, love the good.
Next Time: The Big Project Continues – Transparent
I was going to do a post on waiting for spring, but our string of unseasonably warm temperatures was broken by another snow. Here are some photos of the melting and ice.
It finally snowed in my little corner of the world. Fortunately, there wasn’t much ice. My sister’s car, Howie, might disagree with that last sentence if he could talk.
Last weekend, I went out to enjoy the snow at a nearby forest preserve. Since it was a sunny day, I passed a few other people, including four cross-country skiers.
I’d wanted to photograph these odd pitcher-shaped features on this tree for several months, but I never could seem to get the lighting or angle quite right. Now that the leaves are gone, it works much better.
I love the way this stump sticks out of the snow, covered in fungus for added texture.
Even after the snow, the dried remains of a few flowers hang on.
The world is full of all sorts of interesting patterns and designs. This fallen tree branch is one example.
Ice on the small creek in the park was at various levels of thickness. Loose snow and rippling water gave it a sparkling look.
Next Time: Vintage Camera
It’s about time I do another camera post. Courtesy of my uncle, my father has an amazing new addition to his camera collection. I have arranged to borrow said addition for my next post. I think you’ll like it.
Yesterday, my dad and I went for another forest preserve hike. It looked more like the day after Thanksgiving than the 26th of December. Little ice was present, and we had no snow at all. I was going to do a straight interpretation of the photos, but I just bought Lightroom (bought, not a trial), and the simple form and texture images seemed to lend themselves to a split-toning experiment.
The reflection of the trees was not split-toned. I liked it better with the gradation from light yellow to blue.
Next Week: Retrospective
Well, this isn’t Christmas decorations, but it’s not archive. I went on a spur of the moment photo hike today, and I thought it would be better to do the Christmas decorations next week and show you some of the ice and frost we’ve been having in my area this week. We’ve not had any real snow yet, and the frost melts off by midday. However, it’s enough whet my appetite for the visual landscape to come.
Here, the ice along the creek complements the leaf trapped in it.
The ice forms various patterns in different locations along the creek.
This leaf is covered in frost. It looks practically sugar-coated.
Next Week: Christmas Decor
I know I can find some archive at the very least. I will most likely finish what I started this week, or perhaps add some more.
Last week, I set out to do something different from I’ve been posting for the past month. I turned my attention to some solitary details within the house and then outside to the bitter cold snow with thoughts of monochrome and split toning. One of the first objects to interest me was actually one of the last I shot. I wasn’t sure how to approach it. Finally, I decided I wanted to make this plain old everyday object look a tad creepy, hence the odd angle from below. I used the duotone color space option in Photoshop. It’s not like split toning in Lightroom at all. Duotone (also tritone and so on) mode is based on printing, so the more different colors you add, the more ink you would have in printing, and the darker the thing is. Fussing with the curves for individual inks finally gave me what I wanted.
Venturing out into the frozen tundra beyond my door, I spotted a lilac bush in its winter state. The remaining buds reminded me of hearts, and, as fate would have it, it’s Valentine’s day and I’m fussing with monochrome and toning.
Spying some interesting snow drifts from the blizzard, I trudged back to the edge of the yard. The wind back there is often quite strong and moves in unusual ways. In the last storm, it drove the snow away from the bases of the trees. Snowy frames encircled every trunk. I cheated a bit on my monochrome and toning theme for this shot.
However, there were a few spots where the snow did find its way up against the trees just a little bit. This spot worked well in an unrealistic blue as well.
Back inside, I found my kitty. Curled up all warm and cozy in her favorite chair, she probably wonders why on earth her crazy humans go out at all in this weather. Crazy humans get other weird ideas, like doing a photo study of cat paws. Yes, I’ve often wanted to do that, but it would take more than a week, not to mention the alignment of forces out of my control (the moods of two cats). Nevertheless, with that idea in mind, I composed this photo of my cat’s little white paw. I think JenJen would be pleased. She is very proud of her paws.
Next Week: Flower-Like
The days are getting longer and spring is just around the bend. To celebrate, I’m photographing flowers and things that look like plant life next week.
Yes, ceramic, not real, not artificial, not aluminum. No, they are not what you put your gifts under. They are small, lighted decorations ranging in size from about 11-18 inches tall. Once upon a time, way back in the ’60s or 70’s, it was popular to take a kind of ceramics class where the students decorated and painted previously made objects ranging from frog sculptures to miniature bathtubs. While I don’t care for most of these, I do love the Christmas trees. They have two basic parts: a stand with a lightbulb sticking up in the middle, and a hollow tree with many holes into which you insert the colored lights. The tree part fits over the lightbulb and when you plug it in, all the little lights on the tree glow. The effect works quite well.
I grew up surrounded by these trees at Christmas. My mom, my grandma, and my aunt each have a big one and a little one. Every year, mom digs them out for Christmas and puts the little lights in the holes with great care. They come in a wide variety. The individual ceramics student painted them and applied the fake snow, but that’s not all. Shapes, bulbs, and colors are different, and some have stars on top and music boxes in the bases. I even saw a white one once. Last year, my mom found me a gently used ceramic tree. The odd thing about it is that it has red birds for lights and someone glued them in so they wouldn’t have to put them in every year. We removed as many of the birds as possible. Strangely enough though, they do grow on you after a while.
My favorite ceramic tree is not the biggest or the one with the most features. It is the smallest one. For some reason, my mother’s small tree is slimmer than the others. It is an elegant pine color, a bit more blue than all the rest with small, jewel-tone lights that have stars on them.
Christmas is a time to enjoy your family and traditions, not worry that those traditions are weird. Because they’re not really weird, they’re unique and special to you. So we have our ceramic trees, and love them.
After going to college in the south, my northern blood has thinned and my toleration for cold has decreased. I’m also confronting the reality of winter driving conditions. It’s almost enough to make me dislike winter weather, but not quite. Snow is pretty. Our first snowfall of the year appeared not too long ago to rescue me from the gloom and grey of the not fall not winter landscape. Suddenly, the dull old world is fresh and new again.