Spring is barreling its way into Roswell, Georgia. Those of us with hay fever are also remembering why Atlanta Metro is known as the friendliest city to trees in the entire Untied States. The pollen count went well over 2000 for trees this week. Lovely time of year, the weather is great...but your cars are yellow...and don't touch your eyes!
We had a crazy week around my house, and a zany week to come with all sorts of fun and Holy Week to wrap it all up!
This year I found myself able to take off the last three days of Holy Week. SoI grabbed it. It is my favorite time of the liturgical year. I love the opportunity to contemplate on the fact that Jesus, God Incarnate, dies for me and everyone so we may be free. It brings me hope and peace.
The photo today reflects that thought as well. The tree went to sleep in fall, shedding its outer layer of leaves to survive the winter. Now with the light and warmth of spring new flowers arise. In them we see a mere prelude to the glory and beauty that is the love of God in our lives.
While at Old Car City a two weeks ago I had some fun with hubcaps! Yes those fancy things on your wheels! As with all chrome and HDR I found the hardest two challenges to be removing the HDR blues and keeping myself out of the reflections. I have a lot to learn in both areas, as with everything else experience and review will help me get better in the future.
Now many of you are proficient in Photoshop so removing this blue tint from chrome is not too hard if you know the six mask, layer, etc tricks available in that venerable program.
I on the other hand do not "know" photoshop. I can still get the blue out pretty easily though using two other tools I have on hand OnOne Perfect Effects or Nik ColorEfex.
To get rid of the tint Perfect Effects simply go to the color masks and select Purify Highlights, and then on a second layer select Purify Shadows. Move the sliders left and right to get the effect you want. Don't want it on the whole photo? Select brush in and apply like you would in Photoshop.
In Nik ColorEfex simply select the White Neutralizer, go into the additional modes and select wedding dress. Move the sliders to suite. Done....
I use these not as stand alone options, but as round trips to and from Aperture. You can do the same thing in Lightroom.
Ok that is the tip of the day.
I like to surprise my wife with a flower or two on occasion...and seeing these flowers reasonably priced for sale by florist made me a bit homesick. It was fun to poke my head under he plastic shroud protecting the 25 foot long booth of flowers...and find the smell of flowers could still overwhelm the dozens of cars, garbage cans, and multiple restaurants outside just a few feet away.
If I could have brought them on the plane I certainly would have!
It was a nice moment to feel the power of a flower in both vision and smell to remind me of what really matters in life...the love of my family and the little ways we need to share it.
-ehw P.S. This is the old X-E1 with the 35mm at night walking the street on the way to the hotel from church. The effects were done in Nik Snapseed.
By the time you read this it will be five days since I found out a friend of mine from West Point died last year, right up the road in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Deirdre Sisson Etheridge was like my big sister when I was a Plebe at West Point, and a tremendous lady. We snag in the Catholic Folk Group every week. Without her support and encouragement life would have been pretty dreary those first few years. She left behind a husband and two children. I hope they are going strong, and she is in the arms of the Lord.
During the week these photos will post we are also burying our pastor Father Austin at St. Thomas Aquinas in Alpharetta. He too passed unexpectedly. In just about a year he invigorated many efforts at our parish to reach out to many people and help them enhance their spiritual journeys though kindness, love, encouragement, and being a Father moving changes along.
This picture of my youngest is the type of moment I know I need to continue to enjoy, because in a flash we could all be history...and I may never get another opportunity to enjoy them. Life is short, and it will be full of struggles. I hope it is full of struggle, because nothing of excellence built for the Lord ever comes easy. The Devil can't let us have too many free successes...it would ruin his reputation.
So here is to Deirdre, Father Austin and us...that we may all one day be able to enjoy such memories (and make new ones) together worshiping in heaven with the Lord.
On Veteran's Day I took my family down to the Georgia Aquarium to enjoy some of the lovely things our country can do. After participating in two incredible Veteran's Ceremonies the previous two days, this was the reward.
At the end of the day my wife asked me what was my favorite part of the aquarium. I told my wife the joy in the eyes of the children. I don't think she understood what I meant. How could she? These photos still were locked up in my memory card! Me? Well I knew what was there since I had seen it through the lens!
P.S. Fujifilm X-E1. Polarizer brush in Aperture on the glass. The JPEG was pretty much straight out of the camera other than that.
During my work around in Alpharetta I began to work with my camera settings internally. In this case I shot the jpeg with Artisa Film mode on high color and contrast. It as nice, but I also wanted to see what the B&W would look like. So I simply reprocessed in RAW using the B&W setting with increased contrast and detail. The more I get comfortable with adjusting settings in camera, I think I may be able to reduce my time at he computer after the shoot.
I also wanted to experiment with the B&W because out of camera, many much more experienced and savvy photographers, say this machine is a B&W dream machine. I think it did pretty well, but I'm not an expert yet.
In either case, it makes a good study of how removal of color can change up a photograph and focus your eyes and experience on different parts of a photo. While the white frame and dress draw you in while it is in color...the shapes and patterns box you in for the B&W version.
P.S. Fujifilm X-E1
Here is a rarity for me...portraits of a cat. Yes, you read right, I photographed a cat. Yes the animal I am very allergic to. The animal that looks at me and says, "I can take you." The animal that is ripping up my popup trailer cover. I photographed a cat!
This cat is called Friendly by my trusting, adoring, cat petting, and often drawing wife and children. She is a neighborhood cat. My kiddos go out an pet the cat, the 22 month old chases the cat with glee. She and her buddy Shiloh own my yard and keep it free from snakes and other pests (for the most part).
How did I come across this? Well I was playing with my camera working on a tree across the street with its fall colors and late afternoon sun. Then Friendly waltzed up into the yard and starting being coy. She even wanted me to to pet her! Obviously she needs glasses and a smell test. I look nothing like my six year old or my red headed wife.
Seeing that she wanted to play, and pose and goof off I took the opportunity to get some photographs of a new type of subject for me.
What I learned was that working in the contrasting light, on a subject with such a glossy coat is not in the easy to do category. Next time I'll stop down up the aperture a bit as well. I threw out a number of photos because my depth of field was too small. The portrait up top is a good example of the eyes being perfect, and the rest good. The others...well not so much. The final photo was a fun one of the cat on the prowl. Just as with any photo or portrait I found myself taking some time to touch up parts of the photo to make the cat look like a winner.
PS: Fujifilm X-E1 with 18-55
Just a quick image for my wife captured at church last night...
After a full day of exploring (remember my version of exploring with a family ages twelve to 17 months old is not what the twenty something with no children crowd calls exploring) my almost ten year old showed disappointment . His Junior Ranger book was called for him to see a few more animals. I knew, and he knew, midday on the mountain near the road was not the time to see large animals interested in safety. So I proposed a dusk big boy expedition with Grand Dad looking for big game! As you can see we were successful!
We saw lots of caribou, one moose in the far distance, and three sunsets as we again climbed the mountain looking for the elusive mountain goats with no success. Our little adventure resulted in rich discussions, and a chance to experience the wonders of the world through the shutter clicks and voice of an almost ten year old boy. His seriousness on completing his ranger mission made me proud. He is a boy focused on accomplishment, with a heart sensitive to caring for others along the way.
Those moments on this little jaunt up the mountain will be long remembered and cherished. It is why we must struggle from time to time to separate ourselves from the daily struggles of workplace survival, to reconnect with those around us. Even Jesus did it by walking up mountains to pray closer to his Father without the distractions of crowds and disciples! I know my moment of appreciation would only be a shadow of what the King of Kings would feel, but then again my burdens are a fraction of a shadow of those he bore.
So as I finished this day I was happy with a few good frames, the growth of my eldest son, and generosity of my father-in-law. It was an excellent day in of photographic discovery.
PS This is Mr Pentax K-5 with 60-250mm at 98mm (147mm in 35mm equivalency) , F8, 1/250 and ISO 800. Close lady caribou huh!
At the top of the mountain, I captured a wonderful vista with my children descending off the peak. In this seemingly desolate space, just a few feet away was this cluster of small flowers.
Throughout my trip one theme arose before my eyes time and time again, it was the tenacity of life.
On this windswept mountain, these little flowers stubbornly cling to the thin soil in the brief Rocky Mountain summer just a few feet from my position in the first majestic photo. In the plain states it was large trees owning the low ground, avoiding the windy peaks. In the high prairie we saw how grass and cactus eked out survival on little water. In each case life was present and thriving where it was not easy to achieve basic survival. Yet as you can see, the beauty and power of that little life is just as moving as places rich with plants and animals.
Today's Gospel reminded us that life here on Earth is a struggle...and every moment of success we get should be savored...and every hardship we experience should help us revel in the beautiful moments a little more.
P.S. Fujiflm X-E1 with 14mm top and Pentax K-5 with 60-250mm below...
We stopped after a long drive in Goodland, Kansas for a night on the high prairie. The KOA there is run by a lovely team of husband and wife. Alicia immigrated from Poland about 30 years ago. She was the second person in over forty years to say my name correctly!
The prairie of Kansas is incredible during the summer. It really can call to you...and make you forget about the cold winter ahead if you are not careful. The people are hardworking, the entire state seems cultivated, oil co-exists easily with wheat fields, and everything seems down to earth. In general it seems like a place that really works the land for a living and manages it carefully.
During our stay she was running the camp herself, as her husband was back in the old country attending to the funeral of his loving and kind father. She had here hands full as the park filled up, but she keep a great attitude towards everything, and longed for her husband's return. We were under a storm threat all night long, so the clouds were dramatic, the winds strong, and my worries a little higher than normal.
In the morning the sun rose with lovely color, and I captured the state flower in its glory! I told Alicia I would post that photo for her, as a memory to here kindness and hospitality.
P.S. Evening photo with the X-E1, edited in Snapseed. Morning photos same camera but with the 60mm close up lens.
The Big Wheel Is Rolling
Today a newbie rolled into town. A Fujifilm X-E1 with a cadre of lenses...It a borrowed a little old to mix with the new for its form factor. So far I must say I'm liking what I'm seeing. Both the sensor and the lenses appear to be a major improvement from my old camera. Until later I'll keep rolling on and getting to know the new kid on the block.
As the girls get older they tend to increase their synchronization greatly, and it makes capturing artistic moments like this a lot easier. I also enjoy how good lighting by the stage crew can make this red/green one moment and red/white the next. So you might get a chance to have two or three versions of a frame provided for you mere seconds apart. One will usually work better for your mission of making than another.
If you can shoot your photos at the rehearsal I highly encourage you take advantage of the opportunity. It lets you just take in the moment as designed on the big night and does not bother other guests enjoying the show.
Steaks are "just off the prairie" good. For a guy who gets to eat a stake maybe twice a year, if even that much, it was just old fashioned goodness to me. They serve delicious big hot and soft rolls too...hard to leave this tradition filled resturant.
It was a very nice treat to enjoy the special meal.
I'm sure this guy would have approved of our All-American meal selections....
'nuff said..thanks God for the nice night with friends.
April is a rough month for victims of terror. It was in April of 1995 that evil struck the Federal Building in Oklahoma City, killing and maiming hundreds. Today I had a chance to visit the memorial there, and honor those innocents who's lives evil shortened. Within minutes of starting our tour, friends told me of the horrors unfolding in Boston. The history I was looking at was made present in our lives anew a thousand miles away.
All I can do is offer prayers for healing of hearts, prayers for broken bodies to mend, and prayers that those taken from us here are in the loving embrace of Christ our King. I hope you can join me in that cause.
Remember the crowd was frenzied. The governing powers led poor in spirit around like sheep. Any sympathy to Jesus could lead to an enforcement gang immediately targeting you for death as well...without a trial and rather brutally..especially if you were a woman.
When you accept the call of Christ, you must live it out by both in your heart and in your deeds.
Jesus dined with sinners yes, but he called them to repent in their hearts live it in their actions. I submit to you he is calling each of us as well...
So to build his kingdom on earth we are called to be like Veronica. We are called to risk our lives to help Christ build his kingdom.
A quick look at the television today shows us the dangers that lie in wait for us...false accusations, projections, and yes even physical violence if we preach for and walk with Christ.
Will you take the risk to walk with Christ like Veronica? Or will you hide in the shadows?
As Easter Monday rises...what will your choice be?
PS Techies...this was taken with a little Fujifilm X-20. Nice little camera. Converted to B&W in OnOne Perfect B&W