Saturday, January 29, 2011


I just have to say this, having Mr. Morris as my traveling buddy and hiking pal has given me more pleasure and laughs than I can count.

A good silly dog makes one laugh from the inside out.

This video is in 1/2 speed.
Go Morris!

Songs From a Sinking Ship by April Smith & The Great Picture Show
Song: Colors

Friday, January 28, 2011

Winter is Not Boring!

So Morris notices me putting on my coveralls. Nothing concerning the camera bag, camera backpack, or gun belt EVER gets by him.

He begins by running small circles around me and whining as I stuff my feet into my boots. He leaps against me, leaps against the door, and implores me with his sad Jack Russell eyes.

They literally beg:
*Please Please Don't Leave Me Behind!*

We have to tromp through wet snow this time as the temps have warmed up over the past few days.
This means that PeeWee's side will be thawed and the water will be running over the brilliant colored rocks.

...and Morris will blend in nicely with his surroundings.
This makes me a bit unhappy as I know we are getting close to Coyote Mating season...the time of year where the 'yotes are a bit more aggressive.

I keep him under watchful eye.

Again the creek area never ceases to amaze me with how it changes with each time I am there.
Each time the light is different and so is the snow.

...and who was it that said winter was boring!
Along the sandstone wall we find Maidenhair Fern and moss growing nice and green.
I'm coming along nicely collecting the photos for my winter book that will follow up The Enchanted Forest~

It is supposed to get rainy icy foggy...well plan yucky tonight so it looks like I best leave early to get to work.

I can't wait to get back out in the white silence with nothing but the lovely sounds of water running over the rocks.

Digital Editing and Creation~you can do anything!

There is so much out there in the digital world that is unexplored by many.

I took a shot from this fall and did some simple edits in Photoshop 7.0. I used the 3D tool found in the Render filters and layered it on top of the original photo.
The result was pleasing, even more so when I added a lens flare.
Heck, it even looks round to me! A ball of reflection!

Bryce has a new program out called Bryce PLE 7.1 [Bryce Personal Learning Edition]. I had Byce 5.5 at one time and enjoyed it, but found that this version works nicely. Best of all it is free!
If you are doing commercial work, you do have to purchase the more powerful version of Bryce 7 Pro.

For me, it is about having fun and creating in 3D.
Here is the simple 'shape' I used in Bryce ... I added a fractal color and texture to it...then dropped it into Photoshop 7.0 for a quick edit.
Edited with brushes and PS 7.0:

Can you tell that I need to get out with Morris for a hike in the woods????

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Just because I can be silly

blogmyspacedvd to ipod video convertertalkingphoto, dvd to psp convertertalkingphoto, dvd to zunetalking photo album

Yeah pretty bizarre, but it was fun.

Sunday, January 23, 2011


a strong, innate desire to rove or travel about.

Well I got that yesterday and did something I have never really done before.
I packed some camera 'stuff' in the car with a map of back roads [which I really didn't need] and took off on an adventure.

Two of the roads I drove down did not have wheel marks.

I know I was going through a rather remote area.
My intent was to take some more stunning photos of places like the Kickapoo River, Tainter Creek, and perhaps, Black Bottom.

However with the intense cold we've been having, the creeks and rivers had very little water running.
I did find some interesting shots of course.

But then I went on some roads that I rarely travel on.
I found some interesting shots.

Cold-Wicked-Cold Windmill
I say that because I froze my fingers just trying to figure out how best to shoot this. So white, so desolate.

The creepy place on top of the ridge...windswept...

ut after 2 days of very subzero temps, there was barely any open water anywhere.

So I improvised and went way out of my norm and comfort zone.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Deep Freeze

There is something about a cold and bitter evening.
The breath you take in is searingly sharp, you are happy that your face is covered partially by a mask yet~

You curse the fact that your nice insulated leather gloves don't insulate a damn thing in these temps.

Before you went out for chores, the thermometer read -6 degrees. Cold, but not so terrible.
It is the light breeze that freezes your hands into painful stumps as you fork out hay and carry buckets of fresh water to the two jacks.

Unbelievable how quickly hands freeze.

I stopped for a few moments to watch the sun go down as I stuck my bare hands through the pockets of my coveralls and under two sweatshirts to gain some feeling back into them.

I wanted badly to walk up to the ridge and watch the incredible show of light and clouds as the sun dipped... the temps dipped.

I shrugged my hands quickly back into the glove and finished the chores.

Morris was happily running around greeting the hound dogs by poking his face into their door flaps.
The hounds stayed put inside their houses.

Darkness settling down onto the farm.
The temperature read -12 as I stepped into the back hallway.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Self Publishing ~~ What Should You Know??

My purpose was to upload from one file of favorite photos from the year 2010...

These include art creations as well as photos.
I want to make an Easy Book.
I see everyone advertising how ‘Easy’ their self publishing company is.

So I decided to do a comparison.
Simple right?

Easy book.
Go to Website, click on download their ‘easy’ book and arrange.

Hardcover for each Website visited.
8” ½ X 11” or as close as possible for a table top book.

File 309mb Here is what I found…

Blurb Bookify
Clean and Simple no text.

Project time: 2.5 hrs from start to finish.
Upload time is told to you when you click on the icon.
89 photos were estimated at 1 hr 16 minutes.

You can watch it upload or as they suggest in funky little messages,
*Go read your email* or in my house
*Go clean the bathroom*.

That is better than staring at a screen.

You can actually watch the progress if you are inclined to.

Pages: 90 [All Images are one page spread]
Cost: Hardcover Image Wrap $56 [You can change your cover at any time and get a different price.
[I stuck to all Hardcover format for these comparisons.]

Shipping: $6.99 [UPS Ground]
Total cost including shipping = $62.99

Turn around time: Approx 10-15 days

Note: Once loaded you have 15 days to order it or it is deleted.

[I am including Walmart because it is cost effect and very simple to use, these books are meant to be a family 'memory' book or a photo album type book, I am purely looking for ease of use and cost effectiveness.]

Walmart has you preload your photos to their site.
All photos loaded within about 15 minutes.
89 photos.

Cover Layout ~ Not bad.
I wanted a full page layout for the cover, but this was not an option. Chose hard cover and was satisfied with the look.

Page layouts ~ Pretty fair and easy to use. Can use with small text or none at all.
Full page spreads are an option and do look rather nice.

Auto fill, with some re-arranging. Project time: 45 minutes

Pages of book with their layout: 56 COST: $58 Shipping: Free Site to Store shipping is free Turn around time: published on 1/19/2011 delivery at store between 1/25/11 & 1/31/11.
Quick Book

Upload directly from your computer.

Page layouts ~ Easy to use but a lag time as you browse through your photos.

They are not all available at once.

Some choices of layouts didn’t fit what I wished to do, small disappointment.
Areas for small text or you can use none at all.

Note: Lulu does let you know that they do not except files over 10mb.

Lulu~time for upload and auto fill, with some re-arranging.
Project time: ???? [see note at bottom of the Lulu review]

Cover Layout ~ Not too bad.
I wanted a full page layout for the cover, not an option in the quick book mode.

Pages of book with their layout: 51

Cons: Previewing the book took more than one try and a lengthy wait while staring at my computer screen for the photos to appear in the pages.
Very annoying.
When I hit publish, I walked away and came back 45 minutes later, the little ‘clock’ thing was still moving slowly around and around.

Driving my good humor factor and patience quickly out the door.

Two hours 15 minutes…
Still the little clock.
I stopped the upload.
Perhaps there is a better way?

I decide to try Lulu another day.
Perhaps I was doing something wrong.

2nd Lulu try.
Open up Lulu.
Pick the book.
Grab the photos to upload [same as last time and with Blurb and Walmart] .
The screen looks different this time, and I decide to wait this out and see what happens.

Time for original upload: 1 hr 12 minutes.

Creating and rearranging the book: Approximately 1hr.

Push the Publish Button again: I ended the ‘publish’ after 2.5 hrs.

I just could not take it any more.

My Adobe Flash player was updated.
I don’t know why this would not work for me.

I did however read that Lulu was extremely slow and there were a lot of complaints on the board about it.


Other considerations:

Comparable book formats to Walmart, I don’t know about the quality.
Pricing is much higher.
Quality? Unknown.

8X11 Express Photo ~ Custom Hardcover
Base price: $24.99 for 20 pages; $1.99 per each additional set of 2 pages
Shipping: $6.99

Bookstore-quality Photo Books
Here is a surprise!
SmugMug uses Blurb and MyCanvas.

Cover: Custom
Colors: None
Binding: Side stitch/Perfect
Base price: $39.95 for 20 pages Add'l pages: $0.49 per page Max pages: 80
Shipping: No information available
Turn around time: No information available

No Easy Book upload.
Pricing out of range of those I was looking at.
8x10” Photo Book, 26 pages = $43.95
Same book 50 pages = $74.95
Shipping estimate: ?

No Easy Book upload.
Custom Hardcover:
Pricing out of range of those I was looking at.
8.5x11" 20 pages: $50.00
Shipping estimate: Not available

Custom Hardcover:
8X11” 20 pages begins at $34.99, additional pages $1.00
Shipping estimate: Not available.
This is the top company for Photo Books according to the Website
Ten Top Reviews ~Photo Book Review 2011.

I would highly recommend checking the Ten Top Review for self publishing.

So what was my conclusion after this?
Walmart has okay books, I've made them and given them as gifts.
Blurb has astounding books and costs just a bit more when you add in shipping.

For the average person just looking for a nice uncomplicated Easy Photobook to share memories with?

Well, that is going to have to be up to you to decide.

Editing Color to B&W Topaz Adjust

Here is the original.
Pretty scene but the colors are off, the world is tilted and overall I'm not very impressed.
I thought that before trashing it I might see what I could do if I turned it to black and white.

I tried to de-saturate and work with that, but it just didn't seem to be working for me.
Next I decided to try Topaz Adjust.
I flipped through the presets and decided to hit 'Sketch Dark Charcoal'. My first impression was that is was way too dark.

I wasn't trying to make these scene more colorful or 'pop' ... I just wanted it truer to what my mind's eye saw at the time I stood there shivering and taking the photo.

Okay this was much better. But now I could obviously see that the photo was tilted.
This happens more often than you think. You are focusing so hard on the subject that you don't even realize that your photo is slightly canted.

So the last thing I do is straighten the photo... which was kindly pointed out to me by some fellow photographers on a Photography Forum called Press The Shutter.

My end result is very satisfying. I'll probably use it in a book publication that I am working on.

So I went from a so-so photo that had decent composition, to a very nice black and white.
One less photo in the 'trash bin'.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Owners Embarrass Their Dogs~ by Morris

I like to go out in the winter. Silly stupid people like to put coats on their dogs for taking walks.

SHE put a coat on me today.
I hated it. It looked rather sissy-ish for a tough and rough guy like me.
I told Her so by trying to shake it off.

Finally without further ado. I made muscles. I pumped myself up whilst sitting on the couch cover and puffed up so hard that ~~
‘Rip…’ the Velcro came off and SHE gave it up.

I’m a guy dog that does guy things. Like eat poopsicles [yeah, disgusting and discussed in another entry], mark trees, and smell other dog’s butts.
[Just seeing where they’ve been and saying hello you know?]

We went for two walks today. One into the gelding winter pasture. Lots of frozen goodies there, but she wouldn’t let me play with them.

The snow was deep! I had to literally ‘swim’ through some of it. If you are wondering, yes…I did stay warm with the exertion.

SHE did too.
I kept stopping to check on deer pellets and SHE kept yelling at me to hurry up.
I don’t really know why she was in a hurry.

People aren’t always that smart. They should shove their noses under the snow and take sweet whiffs like I do.
Nope, they keep their noses in the air…and can you believe it? They even cover them with scarves!

Worse than the jacket SHE thought of … SHE put two clip on flowers on my collar to make me look spiffy. SHE said. I tried like the dickens to shake them off.
SHE took embarrassing pictures of me sporting these icky girlie flowers.

I showed her the quick way home...

While SHE was busy taking pictures of some ‘interesting’ stumps on the side of the hill, I got busy and gulped down some deer pellets.

Maybe tonight when she is unaware.
I will have doggy revenge.
I will be sick to my stomach.