Flickr Page!

To see my Flickr page click on this link:

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Week 44: Pumpkin Spider and Spiders

So Halloween is tomorrow.  It is a tradition, with Ginger and I, to go to her parent's house to pass out candy and walk around the neighborhood and look at the decorations.  It is also tradition for me to carve a pumpkin.  Ginger has a favorite, a spider and it's web, that I have done for several years now.

We went to Pier 1 Imports today after church and I picked up some Glimmer Strings.  I was going to use them for our Christmas lantern decorations.  But after carving the pumpkin I thought how could I use the lights, without getting pumpkin all over the lights.  Easily solved, I put a glass inside the pumpkin and put the lights in the pumpkin.  I already have a remote for the lights so I am able to make the lights flicker.  So the pumpkin will not be dried out as quickly as with a candle flame inside.  Ginger absolutely loves it.

So on the theme of spiders (Warning Mom, spider pictures ahead.....), this week I was in Van, Texas working.  I noticed this critter when I was walking to my car.  Hard not to notice a spider that is almost 2 inches from front to back.  It is known as a Wolf Spider.  They are non aggressive, however, since this one had it's egg sac on it's back, I did not want to make any sudden moves to scare it (or have it charge me).  It was nice enough to stay still while I got my camera.

You can see the egg sac on the back.  The next shot was a little bit more challenging.  I had to get eye level, which meant getting on the ground and getting as close as I could (which meant moving slowly), which means I was about a foot from the spider....  I don't know what I would have done if it would have charged me, thankfully it didn't.

The good news is, getting so close gave me a really good shot of it's eyes, and there are a lot of eyes!  If it was up to Ginger I would work for National Geographic!  This was a fun shot to take.  This is why I take my camera with me just about everywhere because of opportunities like this!

I hope everyone has a wonderful Halloween!  Enjoy the pictures and have a good week!


Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Low Light Photography #VantagePoint Project

 Hello my family and friends!

So last Friday I learned about the #VantagePoint project that a new camera technology company called Light just launched.  Light is creating a compact camera, the L16,  that uses multiple lens to shoot a photograph and then, through computation, create a 52 megapixel image.  That is a DSLR quality image!  You can check it out yourself by clicking one of the links above or this link: to see the camera yourself.   For a piece of equipment that is using 16 different sensors that will fit in the palm of your hand without bulky lens, it is intriguing indeed!  But what peaked my interest about their camera the most was it's low light performance, which is of utmost importance to me.  And that brings me to my image for the #VantagePoint project.

Asked to post a favorite photo in a favored place, this photograph came to mind. 

Horse Barn Lindale, Texas

This shot was taken in Lindale, Texas at Rebecca's Ranch.  It is the type of shot I dreamed about taking when I began searching for a new camera to replace my old Rebel.  The Canon 5d Mark III I bought did not disappoint me.  I bought the camera, after researching exhaustively, for it's ability to shoot in low light.  So for this shot I was able to put my camera on a post, Gretchen the horse to the left miraculously moved out of the way, and I was able to take the shot at an astonishing ISO 400!  I had a fast lens (for me anyway!), a 50mm f1.8 (nifty fifty).  The detail, for me, was amazing.  The camera captured the mood I was after with a quality I was quite happy with.

Mood and ambience is very important to me.  Things such as being in candle light or under street lights.  So I should be able to take shots like this with the new L16.  To be able to take shots like this while controlling depth of field, without a tripod and handheld would be fantastic!

So why pick this shot?  I have been going out and working on Rebecca's Ranch on weekends for several years.  In fact, underneath the stairs, now, is a chicken coop!  The land holds a special place in my heart not only because of the precious soul that Rebecca is, but I proposed to my wife in her cabin! This shot was taken this year when Ginger and I were cabin sitting her land!  It is a place that I can go to and feel peace, where I can strengthen my faith,  and where the weight of the world is left on the outside of the road coming in.  I have been taking pictures on the land for years.  I started with simple compact cameras and through the years now have my pro quality camera.  The land, and Rebecca, have seen my artistic talent grow from simple pictures to much more complex.  When I feel I am losing inspiration in my photography it is here that I can come to rekindle it, a vantage point if you will.  A vantage is a place or position affording a good view of something. For me, this place is my vantage point, a place where I can get a good creative view for my artistic eye.  Everyone, I believe, needs this kind of place.  For me, this is my vantage point.


Sunday, October 23, 2016

Week 43: My Lovely Wife

So this week I had a cold.  In fact, Ginger ended up getting it as well.  Around Friday we both began to feel much better.  But as Sunday came I still did not have a photograph for my challenge.  I didn't panic.  Actually, I decided to clean my studio this afternoon and then Ginger decided to go for a walk and me with her.  Wouldn't you know it, there was my photo opportunity.  Taking my camera with me I took a shot of her and then of us.  The one of us, I was out of focus but the one of her was nothing short of amazing.  Once I put it through Photoshop and made a few adjustments, Ginger herself loved the picture. 

She wanted me to use the Dragan effect on her.  I didn't do it as extreme as I do the portraits of me, but I did a touch of it, and she loved it.  The out of focus background, called bokeh, helped the picture out completely.  This is one of my favorite pictures of my lovely wife!  Makes me glad I didn't have a picture ready for Sunday!

So I have been doing a little research.  It is funny,really, my wife loves to travel.  For me, there has always been a certain level of anxiety when traveling.  Once I am at the destination, usually there is not a problem.  Well, there is a word for it, Hodophobia, fear of travelling.  It's the airport, the lines, the reservations, the travel to the destination and the anxiety of what could go wrong.  For me, having a name for it has brought a certain level of relief, because it has a name.  Ginger has always been a calming force when I travel.  Now, if I am driving, I have less anxiety because I have a semblance of control.  You would think I would love to travel because of the opportunities to take pictures.  Knowing what it is, I know Ginger, and others close to me, can and will help me.  Of course this December Ginger and I are going to Colorado, and believe it or not, I am looking forward to that trip!  What brought this on enlightenment on?  We were talking about making reservations for a rental car and I felt my anxiety begin to climb.  I was curious as to why so I began doing some self evaluation and internet searching.   Of course my fear of clowns will not be so easily resolved.....


Sunday, October 16, 2016

Week 42: Blue Fire Dragon

So Monday, with Ginger at Zumba, I pulled out the camera equipment to take some more pictures.  Here is a picture of the setup, without the camera (which was in my hand):

Two flashes, wireless transmitters, reflector, remote release and tripod.  Our hallway is perfect because I can darken the background in the day time.  So the shot from Monday was this one:

And then I used a shot I had taken of some fire:

To create this shot:

So Ginger walked in from Zumba, took one look at the picture and asked:  "Why do you look so mad?"  We have been rolling in laughter all week over her saying that.  And by the way, no particular reason, was looking for a wizardly look conjuring up fire! 

So I decided, for Ginger, to create some more shots that didn't look so....serious!  I also wanted to manipulate the flames to look like a dragon of sorts.   Once I had created the dragon from the fire above, I made it blue (Ginger's idea!).  I created two files, one with glowing eyes, one without:

Glowing Eyes

Regular Eyes

This particular shot was Ginger's favorite (She likes me smiling not scowling!)!  I changed the colors from green to purple to blue, with blue being her favorite.  It is fun to work on a project during the week and see how it transforms from an idea to an actual picture. 

I wanted to say thank you to all of you who gave me an encouraging word about last weeks picture.  That picture, of all I have taken during this year's weekly challenges, is probably my favorite.  What matters to me, more than how many views I get or people that follow the blog, is when my artwork touches people.  I put a piece of me into each work I do and for that to be recognized means the world.  So thank you all! 


Sunday, October 9, 2016

Week 41: Shhhhh!!!!!!!!

So this week's picture took on quite a meaning of it's own, several in fact in the course of this week.  I took it on Monday when Ginger was at Zumba.  For me, it was a complicated shot because I had a flash behind me (for back lighting), a flash shooting in front of me, low, and up, and a reflector propped up between front flash and camera to get rid of eye shadows.  I wanted the harsh lighting of the front flash because I wanted sharp shadows.  After shooting several shots this is the shot I chose:


I entitled it Shhhhh.  Originally, it was to be part of a composite picture with words across the picture.  Positive words, words that described me in a good way and about photography.  Here is that composite:

Shhhhhh Composite
The cool thing about this picture is, when it is blown up on my monitor you see the words pretty clearly.  The more you step away, the more the portrait comes into focus.  I played with this for quite a while this afternoon with Ginger gone to exercise and visiting a friend.  Then I decided to take the original picture and make it black and white through Silver Efex:

Black and White

Of course then, and some of you knew this was coming, decided to play around with the Dragan Effect again:

Dragan Effect
This time, though, I have been wanting to play with my eyes a little bit, make them glow a bit, so with some playing around I came up with:

Glowing Eyes

The meaning of the photo?  It has morphed.  It could say a lot of things, but I have settled on the fact that sometimes it is better to stay silent if you can't say anything positive.   From gossip, slander, deceit, and propoganda, sometimes not saying anything is the best solution.  The tongue is an unruly member, the Bible says.  Such a small member that can spark a forest fire.  You do not have to be a Christian, or even follow God, to know how quickly the tongue can spark a fire. 

Another meaning?  Sometimes those of us who suffer from mental illness or have loved one's who suffer are silent about our suffering.  Different reasons.  Sometimes you do not know who to trust.  Sometimes you have had bad experiences with talking about it, told you didn't have enough faith or had it used against you.  Sometimes your ashamed because you have an illness.  Sometimes you don't want to bother anyone.  Can I say that mental illness is not something we need to be silent about.  We need to have open discussions, like the Peace of Mind Conference we just had.  We need the Out of the Darkness walk on October 22nd.  We need groups (which our church has) for those that have mental illness and loved ones.  We need better treatment options.  And those of us who have been through the fire, who have survived and continue to survive with our illness or loved one's illness, we need to have a voice and not stay silent. 


Sunday, October 2, 2016

Week 40: Depression and Fishing

This Saturday Ginger and I went to the Peace of Mind Conference at GABC Crosswalk.  This year's focus was on depression and suicide prevention.  It was a fantastic conference, and we both got to meet up with Laura Dykes, who wrote a fantastic book on depression (Confessions of a Chronic Depressive).  Ginger knows Laura from her high school days.

Of course, it ended up being a God thing.  We almost sat at one table, then ended up at another, which was naturally in the front (I let Ginger pick where we sit, she's the extrovert).   So we ended up getting to sit next to one of the speakers family and then, this naturally introverted artist became an extrovert for a few hours.  The lady next to me had lost her son 3 years ago to suicide.  When she found out about my depression and suicide attempt, she wanted to know more.  I do not talk about my attempt except to a select few and only in safe environments.  I shared with her my story, through addiction and depression.  Interestingly enough this was the second time in a week (We had a sharing session in my group on Tuesday nights too) that I was able to tell my story.  

Though this conference was not Ginger's "cup of tea" so to speak, they did not talk much about bipolar and other mood disorders, it was in my "wheel house".  Ginger and I walked in the Out of the Darkness walk last year and will be doing so again this year.   I can help because I have been there and can relate.  It is much like an alcoholic who listens to another recovering alcoholic because they have been there.   I cannot heal the pain, I cannot "make everything better", but I know what it is like to give up hope.  I know what the death of a dream feels like.  I know what it is like to say everyone would be better off without me.  But there is always hope, there are new dreams to fulfill, and the world is a better place with you alive in it.   I was able to tell my story, because I was asked, and maybe I was able to help, in a small way.  I know this, Ginger and I made some new friends!

So this week's photo actually started on Monday, when I had no idea I would be writing about this.  I wanted to practice something called the Dispersion effect.  So with Ginger at Zumba, I was taking pictures of me with two flash guns (which was a first!).  Then, as the week unfolded, and I began working on the effect, I knew what it would represent.  Ginger asked if it was hard to do the photo.  It is not so much hard as it is time consuming.  Trying to get everything "right".  But I came up with a title for it, Depression.  Sometimes you just want relief (Ginger relates to that feeling!).  Sometimes you want to scream and just let everything out, this represents that.

 So let's not end on the heavy stuff!  Friday our boss paid us for half a day of fishing and paid for the fishing trip!  We went to lake Tawakoni and caught striper bass and catfish.  In fact I caught 3 striper, one almost 10 lbs!

Yep, I was pretty stoked.  Had to reel them in right handed (which is challenging for a left hander!), but I handled my own!  Now I have a freezer full of filet's!  Hope everyone has a wonderful week!