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Sunday, July 31, 2016

Week 31: Storm Clouds and Geek Factor 5

So this weeks pictures are a couple of shots that I took coming back from Lindale on Tuesday night.  I had to take someone home from our group that night and we had been having some fantastic looking clouds.  I original was looking at the sunset, but I was driving and could not get a good look because of the trees.  Then a clearing came about, I pulled over, and these two shots were waiting for me.  The color shots were okay, but it was when I put them in Silver Efex Pro 2 that they really popped.  (I know this when I hear Ginger say Wow! from the couch!).

 I love storm clouds.  Always have.  This thunderhead was just building over Tyler.  The For Sale sign in the lower left, I had no idea I had that in the shot but it happened to fit perfectly into the shot!

I love the depth of the clouds in this shot.  Just layers, that the black and white really accentuated.  I wanted more of a silhouette with the trees rather than detail.

So this weekend I had a rare Saturday off.  So before date night I was able to play with my computer a little bit.  This is where the Geek Factor 5 comes in.  My desktop computer is getting older.  I am tasking it harder and harder with my Photoshop work.  I have an hp laptop too, but it overheats.  So I set about seeing if I could get it to not overheat.  Part of the problem is that hp did not design it well.  Using a program called HWMonitor, I was able to monitor the heat of the cpu.  So the first thing I had to do is disassemble the laptop to get to the fan, clean the fan and fins, and then apply new thermal paste (which you can only get in one place in Tyler!) onto the cpu.  Ginger asked how I learned how to do this, well, googling and just diving in.  After this I throttled the CPU to 90% and the heat dropped 20 degrees Celsius, well within acceptable ranges.  So I hooked my laptop up to see if it would perform better than my laptop.  Things were looking good until I tried to use a program called Silver Efex Pro 2 (the program I used above to get the black and white).  Well the stock graphics card in the laptop isn't supported and so it taxed my CPU alone because it disabled my gpu and my temperatures shot way up.  Wasted time?  Nah, I love working on computers and disassembling a laptop down to the motherboard (which means taking it ALL apart) is actually fun.Now I know exactly what I need, so indeed the research begins!

All in all, it was a productive weekend.  Now that I have my blog written I can go over and watch 60 minutes with Ginger.  Tell me why I have golf playing in the background again.....


Sunday, July 24, 2016

Week 30 Challenge: Hot Air Ballons and a Stalking Cat

This Friday, on the way in to work, I noticed hot air balloons in Longview.  They are out every year at this time.  I saw some on Thursday, but Friday is when everyone is out.  Got to work, got my camera out, and before I clocked in was able to get some fantastic shots.

 The next few were a few of my favorites:

I love this shot because of the sun lighting up the balloons and being in between the trees.  This was a tricky shot to post process.

 These next two shots (above and below)  enjoyed because of perspective.  It was actually not that easy to get in line to be directly below (Had to stand in middle of parking lot!)

 So I have some more shots from when I was at the cabin.  What you don't see in this first shot is that there is a bird feeder just beyond the frame.  This kitten was just waiting for a bird to come up!  It is one of my favorite shots.

 And this little critter shows how my camera can take good shots in low light.  In technical terms, this is at ISO 12,800, which is really high!  Yet I was able to capture some fantastic detail.  (And what would my blog be without an insect!)

I hope everyone has a wonderful week ahead.   I am looking forward to meeting with two groups this week, my Grace for the Afflicted reading book group and our community group!  Love them both and actually looking forward to them (introverts do not always look forward to socializing, but these groups I do look forward to!).  I can here the thunder of a storm outside, Ginger and I love storms, so I will bid farewell till next week!


Sunday, July 17, 2016

Week 29: Photo Published and Cabin at night

It was 5 am on Thursday.  I could not sleep.  I'd been having a rough week at work, but what I was anxious about was something else.  I fired up my Kindle and got onto Zinio, an app I use to get digital copies of my photography and Photoshop magazines.  It was July 14th and the August issue of Digital Photo was coming out and in it was suppose to be a photo manipulation photo I had taken and submitted to them.  Bought and downloaded I scrolled to the section and there, in color, was my photo!  I can now take that item off my bucket list.  So for those that don't know, here is the photo in the It Works for Me section:

It is kind of surreal seeing your picture in a magazine!  I think of that day and remember that this particular photo almost didn't happen.  I had another couple of pictures I was going to use for my challenge, but sometimes there is a nagging idea in the back of your head that you just have to get out!  Definitely glad I spent the time to get this shot!

So this week's photo's, besides the above, are some night shots I took this week.  My favorite shot, by far is this one:


Black and White

So you can't see it very well, but to the left is Gretchen, a beautiful horse.  I was taught with her that when I approach her that I should talk to her.  So as I neared the barn I began calling her name.  I didn't want to spook her at night.  Knowing the sound of my voice she came out to greet me, saw I was the man with the camera, and went back into her stall.  Funny thing is she stood to the left so that I could get this shot.  So there I was, in front of her stall, climbed up so I could set my camera on a post.  All the posts are level, I should know, I put them in, so the shot was spot on.  This is one of those shots that I had pictured in my mind and just had to go down and take!

Another shot, this one of the outside of the cabin:


 Black and white

And another inside the cabin:

 Black and white

This last one has some sentimental value.  When Ginger walked into the cabin this week it had changed a lot since the last time that she saw it.  But one area hadn't, the place that I proposed to her.  You could see it on her face as she remembered that December night, the cold, the wood stove burning, and that last present to open, a box with a note inside that said, "Close your eyes....".   We still have that note.  And we are blessed to be able to visit and remember that spot.  And these years later my love has only deepened and matured for my soul mate.  I love Ginger with all my heart and the memories we have shared are joyous.  God knew what he was doing when he put us together!

You will notice on all the pictures I gave a color shot and a black and white.  I was experimenting with my pictures to see which I liked better.  For these particular shots I like the warm glow of the color shots even though I am partial to black and white usually.

On Tuesday we are suppose to have a full moon so I am hoping that I will be able to get a shot at the cabin!  I don't have a long range lens yet for my new camera, but I will in the future!  I am thinking my 100mm should allow me to get at least a good picture!

Hope everyone is having a good week!  This week is going to be busy at work, but at least I have a quiet place to go after work!  Happy Photography everyone!


Forgot to add one more:

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Week 28: Portraits and Bins

This was a great weekend.  I got to take a few pictures that I absolutely adored.  The first is of our good friend Sami and her daughter Sarah:

Sarah is one of the most photogenic person's I have had the honor of photographing.  She is quite a natural.  Had to get some of Sami with her other children:

Of course you have to have a funny picture right?  Well Sami and hubby Damon were quite willing to allow me this wonderful shot:

 Who knew you could have this much fun at the Diner?!?  Seriously, we love Sami and Damon to death!

So beyond the pictures of people, I took this shot, turned it black and white and I just like it.  Of course it is of trash bins, but hey, they say another man's trash is another man's treasure (yuk yuk yuk!).

I did have a picture of Ginger sleeping, sadly that photo did not make the cut, she did not like that picture at ALL!  Lol.

Last Sunday I had the honor of reading a book by Laura Dykes called "Confessions of a Chronic Depressive".  Only 78 pages long, I was able to finish it in a day.  It was a fascinating book and one I highly recommend for those of us who suffer from depression.  What I loved about the book was how honest it was.  It wasn't a syrupy religious book, nor was it dryly clinical.  It was just one person relaying their experience with depression and what has helped, or not helped, with her.  I saw many parallel's not only in my own life but in Ginger's as well.  If you want a bird's eye view into depression, read the book.

Lastly, my thoughts and prayers go to all of the families involved in the tragedies this past week.  It hits home as close as we are to Dallas.


Sunday, July 3, 2016

Week 27: Cicada and it's Shell

So this week I had a conversation with another artist that enlightened me to the creative process that I follow, and her as well.  In fact, it is a thought process as well.

When I get a photographic idea it either goes on my white board of ideas or I will begin to mull it over in my head.  A seed that begins to take root.  The picture or composite then begins to morph as I begin the picture taking process.  Maybe a certain part is not in focus that I want.  Or something isn't there that I want, or is there that I don't.  And it is this process that I get lost in.  I can spend minutes, even hours, behind the camera and computer as the seed grows into a finished project.  Working alone, I can figure out what I need or what I should do, much like the pictures for this week.  It is also why I can take 75 pictures to get 1.  Working with someone, however, with this process requires questions, because I may not have the vision the other person has, or understand the intricate parts that need to be in place.  Does it take patience?  Yes.  But if you understand the process or dare I say enjoy the process then it is a journey into creativity where things can constantly change.  If you are rigid in your thinking, if you are not flexible, then this sort of path can be challenging.  But God has surrounded me with people who, despite my quirkiness, love me to pieces.  And I love this process because the end product is usually something pretty amazing.

So I guess I should apologize to my Mom from the get go, this post has a picture of a bug.  Well, several pictures.  This photo shoot with the cicada was a process.  I was looking for certain parts to be in focus.  It was in shade so I had to bump up the ISO.  Even then, I wasn't quite getting what I wanted and since I had forgotten my tripod, and my mono pod was not giving me the results I needed I pulled out my trusty ladder and that gave me the results I needed. 

So this the shot that originally caught me attention. I see a lot of the shells around this time of year, first time I was the cicada actually by it's own shell. 

So one of Ginger and I's favorites were these shots, which took some work getting into focus:

I was really working hard to get the eyes in focus.

Here is the shell:

And then it began to leave the shell:

 This one I liked because it put everything in focus:

It fascinates me how what I am going to use for my 52 week challenge is constantly evolving.  I find that if I just let my creative eye look around eventually something will inspire me or touch me.  I have a few photo composite ideas in my head, but it is in the incubation stage right now, just waiting to get wings.  Until then, Cicada's are cool insects, and even cooler to photograph!