Thursday, May 31, 2012

Make a Wish

Pretty and magical. No wonder we make a wish and blow. If were were wishing for our wishes to multiply, maybe that is why we see fields covered in these weeds!

Using my 60 mm macro lens and settings of f2.8 with a shutter speed of 1/160 I shot this image of a dandelion gone to seed. I found the resulting image to be a bit underexposed so I bumped up the exposure in processing.

I'll leave you with one more.

Words Without PIctures

I think I may have finally figured it out. After all these years of being told and having read that the joy of the Lord is our strength (in the book of Nehemiah), I think I might just understand what that means. Up until recently, my head knew the words but I didn't really know how to access a strength that came from this joy.

Oh I have believed that God has given me strength over time but I think I may well have missed out on strength available to me but not accessed because of my own choices. I think the understanding of this truth lies at the same crossroads where we make these kinds of choices between joy...or something else.

Recently I have been inspired to choose joy. There are some remarkable people in this world who have lived some pretty difficult lives, walked some challenging roads and yet you'd never know it by their demeanor. They exude joy. This inspires me to do the same, even when I don't feel like it. Especially when I don't feel like it.

Here is my theory. If, at the end of the day, a hard life is what is and what remains, would I not rather be joyful along the way than miserable? And maybe, just maybe, a hard life might be a little less hard when joy is present.

Knowing I can actually choose joy in the midst of chaos is necessary. Reaching for God's grace to choose the joy that He provides, and resulting strength, is key.

This week I saw the connection...for real! I decided to choose joy and decided again and again as I came to that same intersection where choice lay many times in one day. The days were better. Circumstances didn't necessarily change but the days were better. I felt stronger, less overwhelmed by some significant challenges.

I have also felt joy. Finally understanding truth and how to apply it to my life has a way of contributing to that! A little further in the passage in Nehemiah where the joy of the Lord being our strength is mentioned (see above link), we read how choosing joy and understanding God's Word did bring joy...for real!

Peeling Layers

A little grouping of chives has found its way up from beneath a sidewalk block adjacent to our home. I was considering the chive, an onion plant, as I looked at the shots I took of them yesterday afternoon.

Here, we can see the layers at the base of the bloom peel back to reveal the flower.

Layers, like memories, time and experiences, sometimes painful ones, are peeled back and released to make way for new ways of living and experiencing the world. With any onion, there are often tears that flow as the layers are peeled. So it is with us.

This beautiful blooming chive, growing and thriving in an unlikely and unusual place, reminded me of this great hope we have...for healing and beauty, both.

I used my macro lens to focus on the bloom itself, showing the detail and colour and especially the layer the bloom emerges from. I also used a colour cast in processing and followed that up with applying a texture layer to complete the image. I have to say I really like the layers I've purchased from Life-n-Reflection.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Pools and Streams

The tiny pools of water seem to float like islands atop the streams of rain running over the petunia leaf.

As is often my preference when finding lines and form, I chose to take out the colour in processing, opting for a black and white image instead of the brilliant pink. To show texture and lines, grey-scale usually works best for me and this shot was no exception. Using my trusty 60 mm macro lens, I was able to get much closer than any of my other lenses would allow. The detail of the fibers of the petal at the upper right corner, the glass-like bubbles and the veining of the flower all pop without the distraction of colour.

Delight in the Drops

We've had quite a few rainy days in a row. The temptation is there to complain about it and sometimes I do exactly that. I'm determined to find some good things about it...and there are many. One of these good things is the photo opportunities that the raindrops this...

Monday, May 28, 2012

Finches vs Squirrel

This morning I found this finch egg on our driveway and wondered how it got there. There is a family of finches in our grapevine and sadly they lost a little egg to something.  I left it and got to my day.

This afternoon the finches were making quite a racket, hovering like hummingbirds around the grapevine, scolding something fiercely. I didn't see it right away but after poking through the vine branches, I saw the squirrel's black beady eyes looking out. I got my broom out and chased it away. It didn't take long before I saw a furry tail right close to the nest again so I chased the squirrel away again. Likely, my efforts are futile but I'm hoping for the best for these feathered friends and their wee ones.

I just noticed a cat at the base of the grapevine. Lots of action today!

Here are a couple of shots of one of the finches, ruffled feathers and all.

I used my 60 mm macro lens for the image of the egg but for the finches I changed lenses to my 75-300 zoom. I chose a 1/160 shutter speed and aperture of f5. It seemed to be fast enough to catch the finches with good exposure. I love the fact that I can see the feathers standing on end and can feel the protective instincts alive and well in the finch.

Saturday, May 26, 2012


I took this image with my 60 mm macro lens using available light, f2.8, and a shutter speed of 1/60. The bokeh and light's reflection off the flute contribute well to the mood I was trying to create...or Using a colour in processing was key to revealing the sense of drama; a contrast between light and dark, happy and sad that can easily be heard in the flute's voice.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Coming Home

After a day out fishing, the gull glides onto the golden beach. Home.

I used my zoom lens to get as close as possible to the gulls without scaring them away. I composed this shot using the shoreline to help draw attention to the subject. Including all of the gull's shadow was important. Too often we see shadows cut off in images. Bringing the image into photoshop to add a texture layer enhanced the image and brought a real sense of coming home at the end of the day with the golden hue.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Ballroom Dancer

Though quite an ordinary garden flower, the petunia is graceful and full of beautiful movement. The flow of her petals is elegant and similar to that of a ballroom dancer whose skirt billows and falls as she dances. The veining in the petals create beautiful lines and form, much like the dancer's arms and legs, allowing for extension of melody as each moment reaches for more.

I am captivated by the ordinary.

I used a zoom lens and my tripod for this shot. The zoom created distance between the bloom and background, giving adequate blur to the noisy distractions behind the petunia. A windy day resulted in an image that is not tack-sharp in all areas, which lent itself well to the feeling of movement I was trying to capture. There are enough sharp areas remaining to show the detail necessary to the petunia's story.

Bringing the image into photoshop I enhanced the mood of the image with a texture that I blurred before application for added softness.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

House Finch

We have some house finches nesting in our grapevine this year. We've had robins in the past but never house finches. They are active, sing sweetly, and so much fun to watch through my dining room window.

I set up my tripod with my camera and 75 - 300 mm zoom lens and waited. They are fast birds, that is for sure but using a 1/1000 shutter speed helped me to keep up - mostly. I got a few shots of males perched on the branches but those were not as interesting to me as this male taking off to get some more building supplies.

Concord Grapes...Wee Ones

Pretty Petunia

The blurred petunias in the background seem fluid. Heavy from the night's storm, the petals droop and let the rain continue its decent to the earth.

Choosing a shallow depth of field blurred the close surroundings sufficiently, allowing for the sense of water all around, though pink. The morning light breaking through the clouds was bright enough to allow for adequate exposure without camera shake, giving the petunia's fibers a crisp sharp texture.

The contrast between sharp and soft, fluid and still makes for an interesting composition.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

After the Storm

A stormy night gives way to morning. Having caressed her face, a raindrop lingers for a moment before dropping to the ground.

The visit to the leaf's surface refreshes. Reaching deep into her soil, it sustains.

I used my 60 mm macro lens to capture this drop. I didn't bother with my tripod. Instead I chose to put my camera on burst-mode. I used a faster shutter speed, hoping at least one of the shots would be sharp. As the wind moved the leaf, the speed of shooting managed to catch a few decent shots.

I'll leave you with one more picture from the same shoot.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Close. Closer.

Get close.

Now closer (and maybe turn your head to the side).

It amazes me what I can see through my macro lens. The excellence of creation and its detailed design boggles my mind. A whole new appreciation for that which is sometimes comes through the lens of my camera. What do you see through your lens?

Beach Flowers and Beach Berries

There to explore the whole of the beach, not just the water and sandy shore, we hiked off into the sand dunes. I was delighted to see things I would have missed had we stayed seated on our beach chairs. The Flowers and berries, driftwood and dunes broadened our beach experience.

Though sand is not my camera's friend, I decided to take most of my gear along to the beach. With fewer people early in the season and a calm day, I thought it might be worth the risk. Changing lenses on a sandy beach takes extra care but thankfully I had an extra set of hands to help me out with this.

In the two pictures in this post I used my macro lens. Wee tiny, the flowers and berries both would have been lost to a standard lens.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Day at the Beach

I went to the beach with my daughter today. How I love the beach! We had the sand and sun to ourselves for about an hour before a smattering of beach-goers joined us. The hot sun and calm day were perfect!

The gulls seemed more timid than those that circle at high season. Eventually one came close to where we were but for the most part they kept their distance.

Spending the day together with my daughter, getting sun-kissed at the beach and listening to some golden oldies on the open road on the way back was exactly what I needed!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Call to Simplicity

Some images call for simplicity. They call me to simplify my thoughts and my day. I will know immediately if this is the case. Quite possibly I will be aware of this on some level before I even take the shot. I wonder if I first call myself to simplicity and then take the shots that will move me in that direction. Chaos usually seeks calm.

Quite often I will turn these particular images, the simplicity images, into black and white pictures in processing. Pulling out the colour allows me to focus on the lines and form. Though beautiful in its bright yellow splendour, this tulip had greater impact stripped of its hue.

Centered and Grounded

Fallen Umbrella

The wind catches it just right. Flying out of my hands it reaches up then splashes down into the puddle I'm standing in.

Textures and layers can join up with imagination to create engaging and magical photos, ones we lose ourselves in as our own experiences meet together with a little daydreaming.

At my hard drive's expense, I save most of the images I take. Though there are some I know need to be junked, sometimes there are a few that can not just be salvaged but turned into better images than the ones I originally thought to be the best. Not often but sometimes. At the very least, the archived "duds" allow me some playtime where I can let my imagination run free.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Gentle Gesture

Each year, the ladies in our church receive a flower on Mother's Day. It is a gentle gesture of gratitude for the nurturing and care of mothers.

Whisper's Breath

Pair and a Spare

This pair was none too happy to have me on their tails. I'm sure they were a little nervous because they likely have eggs or wee ones nearby.

The Canada Geese are plentiful in our area. They seem to find the most interesting and unusual places to nest. I've seen them nesting right close to a busy street, in the middle of a sidewalk, perched in a planter and then of course in the more likely of places like this farmer's field.

I've caught a few glimpses of some of the goslings that have hatched but so far I haven't had my camera with me to get some shots. They sure are cute though!

It is often more interesting to take pictures of wildlife at their eye level. This may require getting down and dirty but the results are usually worth it.  Being eye level allows the viewer a different perspective. Instead of a vantage point either well below these as they fly, or above as they nest, we are with them.

Monday, May 14, 2012


The cork is popped and the champagne poured. The bubbles rise up and over the edge of the glass, sparkling and fizzing all the way. It is time to celebrate spring!

In my photography, I love to let my imagination go and see where it takes me. Ordinary tree seeds caught in foliage turn into something magical and celebratory.

I used my 60 mm macro lens to capture these tiny seeds. Using a texture and shading layer, I enhanced the image, adding a little more magic to this glass of bubbly.

Light and Shadows

In my newly hung basket of flowers (which I received for Mother's Day from my favourite son) I spotted a few blooms that faced downwards. Quite interesting to me in their perspective, I grabbed my camera and began to shoot. Shadows and light made a significant difference between these two shots, creating very unique images with the same type of flower.

The bokeh and green backdrop of leaves gave this image an interesting and magical feel. Though the shadows are on the heavier side, the bokeh gives a feeling of lightness.

The hard light and dark shadows in this image bring a great deal of drama to this tiny flower.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Slice of Summer

Today we had a slice of summer. It was hot, sunny and beautiful here in the city. After a trail walk, what better way to cool off than with a little citrus?

Using my macro lens I got in nice and close, putting more focus on the citrus slice than the glass it was perched on. I thought about cropping this square, leaving the glass out entirely but decided against it as the glass is still important, just not most important. Taking the image into photoshop, I added some texture and a teal overlay to create visual interest.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Cheek to the Concrete

We have moss growing along the railway ties that border our concrete patio. This morning I lay on my patio to get a closer look but even that wasn't close enough. Cheek to the concrete, camera to my eye, finally I could see what I couldn't from any other vantage point. Even in the smallest of lives, there is moving and growing and stretching. More is happening than what I see from day to day. There is abundance and fullness found in the wee, the small, the unnoticed.

I used my 60 mm macro lens to get this shot. Shallow depth of field highlighted by the morning light was just right to give this wee little patch of moss an enchanting feel.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Delight of Dandelions

On my trail walk I saw many many many dandelions today. Determined to see their beauty, I looked through my lens and gained a different perspective than the one that seemed so easy to come by. Plenty to choose from, I captured image after image of these textured blooms.

I decided to turn them into black and white images to show off their textures the best I could. The bright yellow I saw on my computer screen just seemed to distract me again and scream "weed!" - this is what I ended up with.


I must be a real sight to the neighbours at times.  Had anyone been looking out their window early this morning they may have seen me lying on the patio in my plaid flannel pj's getting some shots that could not wait for outdoor attire. No matter, I do what I have to do.

This morning's light was just right and the mild temperature drew me outside with my camera to join those early birds getting their worms.

The apple blossoms have just started blooming, just a few today. By tomorrow there will be many more.

What caught my eye even more and dropped me to the ground were some chives growing up between the patio edging and a sidewalk block.  Once captured, I brought the images into my computer and played with some layers in photoshop.

The contrasts between strong lines and muted tones, light and dark, sunshine and shade seem to echo the contradiction found in the chive. The beauty of the bud and the delicate nature of its eventual blossom stand in contrast to the strong and pungent taste that the chive gives to our baked potatoes and salads...maybe even later today!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Unity. Not Uniformity.

Winnipeg's Exchange District

The Exchange District in our dear city is a community rich in both architecture and arts. I can take endless photos of the aging buildings that have their stories mortared between their bricks. It is as though taking their pictures allows me to imagine for a little while longer what those stories might be while understanding the tales held in the bricks and boards may well be different than my mind's wanderings and wonderings. Yet I am still free to imagine.

I find this composition to be interesting and engaging. The vintage billboard on the aging building is juxtaposed with the metal and wires found immediately beside it, as though echoing the marking with reality.

Without the bird, I think this image would lose something of importance. Flying, she moves freely between the wires and away from the building and the tales it holds. She is not bound to man's memories.

Monday, May 7, 2012


There are a few buses parked in a fenced in field in our neighborhood. The buses are aged. The years have taken their toll and yet they don't seem done to me. They continue to give in the way of memories. You don't have to gaze at these for long for a memory or two to come to mind. Even at rest, we can well imagine their glory days as we are transported back in time.

I took this shot through a chain linked fence. The plastic that was threaded through the fencing didn't allow for my lens to poke through. As a result the edges are softened. No matter, I brought the image into photoshop and played with some textures, further aging the image and creating even more of a retro feel. Not all images are lost to limitations!

Sunday, May 6, 2012


When I realized that it was the night of the Supermoon, I looked out my window and there it was. I grabbed my camera and husband and we ran out to the tracks to get some shots. Of course, not having my tripod was a problem. I captured what I could and enjoyed what I couldn't.

Once home I checked back at the sky a little while later and noticed the moon had moved above the clouds. From my livingroom window I took another few shots with my camera mounted on my tripod. These turned out better but without the landscape around the moon to show the increased size of the moon (or appearance of), it could be any full moon. Even so, the moon is beautiful.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Choosing Perspective - Hyacinth

Often I will get down on my hands and knees and sometimes I'll even be belly-to-the ground to get shots of flowers. I find that the lower perspective makes for a more interesting photo just as getting down to the eye level of a child and then taking their picture almost always makes for a better photo than standing and shooting downward.

Here I've chosen otherwise and I think the exception to my habit has turned out pretty well.

Love Softly