Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Unforgettable Day 2 Mule Parade









Normally I wear a red, white, and blue flag shirt to go on our 2 mule parades. But this day promised to be exceptionally hot and humid with gusting winds...

I wore instead, an outrageous multicolored Hawai'ian shirt. Okay. Not really outrageous, but for Norwegian 'country' Wisconsin, it may be considered so by those named Ole, Lena, Sven, and Hans [if you get my drift].

Top it off with a sparkling lime green hat and you have enough color to make anyone's eyes sore.
But there you are.
That is me.

I was riding Miss Opal, the attitude mule. She likes to step out and strut her stuff.
And dang did we 'feel' good together.

Stephanie, my stepdaughter rode ever steady Freddy. The were dressed in a much more fashionable and sensible manner.

Heck I even used Badger's special flag blanket that has multicolored sequins sewn onto it.

A red, white, and blue beaded 'necklace' went on both mule's breast colors with a nice little brass bell that jingled as the stepped out.
The head of each tail sported a flag bow.

You cannot tell me that we don't go ALL out for our 2 Mule Parades.

I stopped at one point and searched high and low for all our adoring 'Mule Parade Fans'...alas, no one had lined up along the 'parade route'.



We met 4 dogs, spoke with a mom and her 3 daughters and saw 5 vehicles.

...and had a blast.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Good Morning A New Day



Good morning.
It is a brand spanking new day.

Miss Chicken is at the back door requesting to be fed.
The hound dawgs are letting it be known that they also wish to have breakfast.

Soon the mules in the pasture in front of the house will add their voices to the songs of birds in the forest.
A fog has settled in a cross the valley.

Soon to be burned off by the new day.

It looks like it is going to be hot and humid!
Summer has arrived with a vengeance!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Incendia a very basic tutorial



First let me say that I am not an expert with Incendia. I've only been 'playing with it' for a few months now and have decided to share some very basic things that I've learned.

I'm not the sort of person who can write scripts for Fractals. I take what is offered and mix it up into something I feel I can use and enjoy.

Incendia is an interesting program as it allows you to use many Fractals just by clicking on them in the Fractal tab pictured below.


For this I'm just going to go ahead and use the first Fractal pattern that shows up upon opening the program.
This is the IFS Flame.
At this point you can use your mouse to change the angle of the flame, but I'm not going to do a thing but create a basic 3D shape.
I go to the Editors tab and click on Baseshapes > Edit > New> which defaults to a circle that has 'bumps' in its surface.
I leave the 'Depth' at 0 for now and then ....
click on the 'Render' tab and select 'Preview' in the right corner of the screen.
Just a simple colored ball.

I can click in the 'Materials' tab and choose to change this round ball's appearance.

The 'Environment' tab will give you the choice of adding a backround, add fog, and adding volumetric fog with gradients. Experiment with these often, it really changes the look of your project.
Now to change it a bit. Go back to the 'Editor' tab and click Baseshapes> Edit> Open> this will bring you back to your original 'ball' which is red in color.
Change the Depth to 5 to see what happens.
[Note the Materials #1 is selected, with each shape added, you can edit the colors or materials that it is made out of.]

Back to the 'Render' tab, hit preview.
Okay, but I wanted to 'create' my own shape so...

I head back to the 'Editors' tab and add another shape at the depth of 0 because I know it will just add a basic shape.


Now I've added more than one shape and used a different 'Material' for each shape.


This isn't very exciting at all. Just a couple of random shapes put together...
Right?
Here is where we enter a great tab.
The 'Camera' tab.
You can change the Light Direction.
Set your resolution [do enable 2X AA], it offers a nicer image.
Use the Fixed View letters:
F=Front view
B=Back
U=Under
D=Down
L=Left
R=Right
Important views to try if you are building a 3D shape.
Drop down and look at the choices of Symmetry.


For this shape I decided I liked Loxodrome the best.
I rotated it, zoomed in and out, tried different angles, and different 'Shaders' [under the Render tab], until I found something I might like.

I set my values at 1024 X 1024, enabled the 2X AA.

I went to Render> Shaders> Ambient Occlusion> Averaged.
This enables a faster Render time, which is important as I can be very impatient.

I hit the button on the right side of this frame called Render...and walk away from my computer while it works.

This is the only issue I have with Incendia. I can't tell how long it should render. But experience and practice will help in this area.

When I feel I have rendered it long enough, I usually save both a Bitmap and a PNG file of the image.

If I really like the creation and want to work on it more I go to
Fractals> Save Paramenters> and give the file a name.


From here the possibilities are endless if you take it in Photoshop and let your imagination loose.
A creation using Incendia:




Written for Press The Shutter Forum.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Mules who hate people really?




Opal has a reputation.
Her reputation is that she dislikes people.

...and yes this is very true. In the 14 years that she has been with us she has shown herself to be 'people challenged'. If she does not know you, don't attempt to get near her.

I've spent hours with her since February. I stand in her pen with a curry comb and brush and gaze out across the meadow.
Eventually, she can't stand it.

She moves next to me....moves to within reach of the brush and stands quietly.
If I start at her neck and groom her for about 20 minutes I can approach her head and ears with my hands.

Tonight she bent her head into me and touched my side with her nose.
I slowly brought up my hand and cleaned the dirt out of the inside of her ears and the outside of them.
A feat not attained in years.

I scratched her a bit then walked away.
I stared at the mud by my boots.

Opal nudged me softly.
I kept my eyes on the mud, then focused on her shoulder while I allowed my hands to work up into her ears.
I swear she sighed.

Due to Badger's COPD or ROA, I've been developing a trust with an elderly mule who 'hates' people.
I know that if I am ever out riding and 'stranger danger' approaches, she won't let them near. Badger was a good judge of character also.

They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks. I imagined that this might be so for an old mule.
She is showing signs though that she can 'trust'.
She allows me to bridle her now without any reaction.
She acts quiet and subdued when I saddle her.

Not the reaction when my husband saddled her for years.
[not his fault or hers, just a lack of communication]...

She will not tolerate foolishness or sudden hand movements above her ears.
She is sensible.
She is fun.
She will take me anywhere I ask and take me safely.

For this I am grateful.
She is also teaching me how to deal with a different kind of mule.

She is one who is not lazy,~~ who is strong willed, ~~one who has her own mind.
...yet perhaps she could have changed if the right person had had her.

Now that hubby has relinquished 'her muleness' to me, I have seen a huge difference in behavior.

He says I spoil her.
I say, we communicate.

Tonight I went into her paddock and stood quietly.
She approached me.

She sidepassed up to me for petting.

28 yrs old.

Me--soon to be 55.
We can change.
We can adapt.

It just takes the proper attitude.

I hope tomorrow, we make our sunrise ride together.

Me and Opal.
Opal and I...

Sweet.

Badger...he is on pasture rest now, but not forgotten...look for more adventures later!

The Back Way


Some mornings it just pays to leave a bit early for work.

I normally have a camera of some sort with me. I'm never quite sure what I'm going to encounter depending on which shift I'm working, the landscape can be very different at different times of the day.

This day I was surprised by fantastic luck and light.

I took some of the 'back' ways or 'short cuts' between black top roads and was delighted by the views in the morning sun.
I took another back road into the Bad Axe Valley and took extra time just driving slowly. I stopped more than once for beautiful sights.

This time I was lucky.
The building I'd been watching for months was bathed in the perfect light.

And I was there to take its portrait.
What a great way to start your day.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Remember me and smile...

for it is better to forget than remember me and cry.


I received an email from my mom that my Aunt had passed away in her home this weekend.

Although we hadn't seen each other in many years, it did make me a bit sad.

Memories flooded me of being a child and playing at her farm with my cousins. The trouble we got into.
The late night horse back riding adventures we had together.

The time my one cousin shot a skunk with a shotgun... that was under the 'goose' house.
...and we drew straws
to see how would take a pitchfork and dispose of the smelly mess.

I drew the short straw.
But didn't want to seem 'girly' to my boy cousins.
The stench was awful and my stomach roiled.
Somehow I survived it.

There was the time that my cousin used dynamite to blow the swamp up ... making it deeper. I recall the aftermath of flying frogs and snakes, along with debris.

Or riding late at night with a silvery fog creeping across the road. The local cop stopping us and advising us to get our butts home. He totally creeped us out by saying that there was a prisoner loose in town.
Okay, that was enough to set any teenage imagination off on a tangent.

Riding horses to the town dump and shooting rats with .22 rifles.

My cousins 'jousting' with saplings and garbage can lids. Dangerous? I suppose, but we were kids in the countryside.
Climbing trees,
Flashlight tag,
Dressing like indians and using my Aunt's lipstick to paint our faces.
Oh yeah...
she got mad.

So I remember these things and smile for an era gone past.
That lives only in memory now.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Skid Steer Story




I walked outside after finishing up chores. There he was in his skid steer digging away.

I walked down to where he was working.

Me: Whatchya doing?
Him: Well I thought I’d get rid of this old oak tree stump.

I made a face and looked around the yard slowly with my hands upturned, as if to ask.
*Why, when there is so many other things to get done?*

He knows me that well, he really and truly does.
Him: Well I was just cooling off after taking the Dexter Cattle their water and thought I’d just dig at this old stump a bit.

He’d read my mind.

I tipped my head and looked at the stump, it was from an ancient old oak that had blown down in the August 2007 storms. The stump wasn’t bothering anything.
But have a Skid Steer with turbo power and a few extra minutes, my honey would see it as some sort of ‘Man Challenge’.

I shrugged. Nothing I’d say would change his attitude anyway.
Me: I’m going to town.

I returned after noon and noticed that his truck was no longer parked in its spot.

I went in the house where I found him.
Him: Blew a tire in the skid steer.
Me: Oh yeah, how?
Him: Oh, I’m not sure but I was working around that stump. Now I have to figure out how to get that Skid Steer out of there.

I stuck my hands in my pockets and rocked back on my heels.
Me: So…
Him: So, … I’ll need your help, I’m going to go get the Allis Chamlers D17 and with that and the truck we ought to be able to get it right out.

Later.
I climbed down into the hole to look at the skid steer. Both tires were ripped off their rims. The tracks were kitty-whumpus. A large nub of an oak root was jammed between the front and back tire.
Another root was jammed in between the front tire and metal tracks.

*I told you so* never need to be said and was probably better off not being said.

The Skid Steer is out of the hole. The tires are fixed.
The stump still stands boldly, daring him.

He murmured something about wishing he had some dynamite.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Using Apophysis 7X




Apophysis 7X is free. It creates 'Fractal Flames'.
So what are these 'Fractal Flames' anyway?

According to Apophysis Wiki and flam3.com Fractal Flames were created by Scott Draves in 1992 and are an "extension of the iterated function system class of fractals."

Okay, so what the heck does that mean?
Basically it is math. Sin, Cosine, division, multiplication...and eeks, lots of Algebra and Trig.
Fortunetaly, unless you are writing 'scripts' you don't have to know all that to have fun with Fractal Flames.

To me, it means I can create computer generated graphic art. And never will two 'flames' be exactly the same.

[For those of you using Apple Computers there is a special program called Oxidizer for you, free download]

Really they won't.
The following two flames began with the very same script.


I only edited the triangles a slight bit and came up with new creations.

Awesome, right?

So I open Apophysis 7X and see a flame that I'd saved that I liked:


Now to change it up a bit.
The above screen shot has a lot in it.

On the top there are controls for you to pick different triangles and rotate them freely, rotate at 90 degrees, move them, resize them, and add more triangles.

On the right hand side you can edit each of your triangles specific look individually or the flame as a whole.
You can change how each triangle receives color.

It takes a while to get used to this 'deep editing' but I find it much more enjoyable than the 'random' editing that is available.

Next lets look at the camera, gradients,

This panel helps you pick the gradient, [tons of them!] change the way the colors look, change the angle of the camera, the pitch, and image size on your screen.
I spend most of my time in the previous two screens.

Have you noticed that the fractal no longer looks like the bland 'jellyfish'?

All right, I love colors...so I need to brighten this up a bit...
I changed colors with the gradient tool and used the camera tool to zoom in slightly.

I liked what I saw and decided to save it, or render it into a workable file that I could use in Photoshop or Elements.
In this screen you pick your render size. I normally make mine a bit larger so that I can edit them as larger 'images'.
I save as a .png file so I can add my own backround it I so choose.

Here is the original image I came up with pre-edit.
What you can create from here is anyone's guess!


Created to share on Press The Shutter in the Digital Art Topic Section.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Hunting the Morel

Hunting the Morel Mushroom should be a very safe ritual in the spring.

The birds are singing in the forest,
a pine warbler calls,
a blue jay squawks,
a wren scolds,
...the forest is alive with music and sounds.

A doe pops up under the greening underbrush and bounces off through the woods with her huge tail 'flagging' in alarm.

The creek's waters run over the rocks making such sweet music.

Humming along with my Nikon suspended in my camera backpack [for I am determined this day to find some gray morels and take some absolutely fantastic shots of them...], I beebop along an old well used deer trail.
In the winter I used this same trail for hiking.
During all seasons...I use this trail.

Today I am in a hurry, yet happy as a lark. It is raining just a bit, the sky is covered in grey matter that promises more rain.
The lighting will be awesome once I find some morels. *Just perfect!* I think, with the right amount of overcast and the right ISO settings, I'll have the ultimate morel photo.

Yup.
Yup.
Step over a log.
Step over a root.
Start down a steep bank.
Get to the bottom and...
I look up at the opposite bank~~~
there they are.
Two perfect Grey Morals nestled on a green mossy rocks.

The robins sing their rain song happily.
I am focused.

Step down, step forward to cross the creek...
...and the next thing I know is that I am having the shock of my life.

My right arm is up to its elbow in creek water.
My right knee is on the creek bottom, this part of me is suddenly soaked with cold, chilled, fresh water.
My vision is obscured by water that has splashed up and covered my glasses.
I am stung by sudden and intense pain from where my left knee has collided with a huge boulder.

What?
I rock back onto the creek bank and sit down hard grabbing my leg.
Crap, did anyone see me?
I look around through watery eyes and 'watered' glasses.
For a few moments I rock back and forth while cursing and muttering.
Then I think of the Nikon suspended in my backpack and breath a sigh of relief that I decided on the backpack instead of the shoulder bag.

A wren scolds me from somewhere above.
I grin and stand up testing my legs.
Everything seems to work fine.

I carefully unpack my camera and dump the sodden gloves next to it on a rock. I put the Nikon on by the strap around my neck and carefully climb the opposite creek bank.
I have to plant my feet in loose dirt and lean into brambles, briers, and prickly ash to get *the shot*.

One shot, two shots.
I carefully review the shots on the camera.
Perfect.

I thank the Morel Fairies and slide back down the bank into the water.





Friday, May 13, 2011

Secrets to Finding Morels






Is there a secret? Oh yes there is a secret to finding these forest delicacies.

Do you know how Spring arrives in the woods? Have you taken years to study which flowers emerge first?
Have you studied soil temperature and moisture?

Those things help. You need to be aware of all of these conditions in order to find the morel mushroom when they begin.

But then again, you can throw all the facts out the window of 'where and how to find' them.
Because simply put.
Morels pop up ... I swear this is true...where they feel like it.
Morels are fungi. They spread by spore.

Wind and rain can be a factor in where they spread.
Dead Elm trees?
Are they the 'ticket'?

Well now they can be found there. But I've found masses of them in other places as well.

The best way to hunt these elusive little fungi.

Is
Patience.

When you are ready to give up. Sit down on a log and rest a while...as I did the other day.
I was discouraged.
They 'should' have been there...I was in the area.

Then I looked off in the woods.
...and I swear a whole 'family' of the little buggers had popped up out of nowhere.
Like magic.

I cannot describe the feeling of discovering them. It really truly felt like magic.
I wonder if the Fungi Fairie was around behind that prickly ash, just giggling.

Welcome to the world of the Morel.
Mystical
Mysterious
...and Secretive!

Blogspot status update...Friday the 13th

*Blogger Status

Friday, May 13, 2011

Blogger is back now. We're still working on restoring some of the data. For more details, see this post: http://buzz.blogger.com/2011/05/blogger-is-back.html

Posted by Chang at 10:32 PDT

We’ve started restoring the posts that were temporarily removed and expect Blogger to be back to normal soon.

Posted by at 06:07 PDT

To get Blogger back to normal, all posts since 7:37am PDT on Weds, 5/11 have been temporarily removed. We expect everything to be back to normal soon. Sorry for the delay.*

So ... do you think this site has had a Friday the 13th????
Hmmm?

Stay tuned, hopefully my lost posts will be restored!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

What about Opal?



Opal.

The mule who dislikes people.

The mule who cannot be caught in a larger pasture.

The mule who will not let anyone touch her ears.
She is cantankerous, stubborn, nervous,....
[although under saddle she is one of the best rides ever]

Or.
Is she?

Yesterday, my husband staked her out. She is great on a stake, we call her; our large sized weed whacker.
She chews her way around a large circle mowing all but the distasteful weeds, and then is moved to another location.
This is handy.
She's one of those animals who doesn't get tangled.
A large part of the rope is slid through an old water hose which keeps it stiff and from wrapping around legs.

So last night, I went by to bring her some water. I set the bucket down and then plopped into the grass next to it.
Immediately she came up and got a nice long drink.

I reached behind me and picked some clover and offered it to her.
She gently took it and chewed.
I reached a hand up and stroked her forehead and then rubbed her ears.

OHHH....she isn't supposed to like that.
That's right, she is supposed to be horrible about her ears.

So I crooned to her as I rubbed those 'hateful' places and she blew clover and grass breath on me.

So we'd gone one step in learning. Me~~sitting in the grass next to her and handing her clover...while reaching up and rubbing the forbidden areas of her head~~was not a threat.
Putting a bridle on, however was another matter.

I carefully stood up and did something else. I reached down and tapped her left front hoof. She picked it up and held it up while I examined the hoof wall [which had a small crack in it].

I let her have it back and then motioned to Morris and started to walk away.
A very low rumble of a nicker came from behind me.
I stopped and slowly turned my head.

Opal was giving me the low nicker, it was not my imagination.


Side note:
Opal has been my husband's mule for 14 years. They've agreed to disagree. He thinks the 'time' I spend with her will make no difference given that she is around 28 yrs old.
I disagree.
Opal has never given anyone else 'the low nicker'.

He says that I should ride her now that I am 'into' spoiling her.
I laugh.
I think he is jealous that she 'talks' to me.

What about Opal?
Time will tell.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Being a Model~~by Morris

I know I am photogenic.

Just ask HER.
She always has a camera with her.
SHE is always pointing it at me.

We were taking a nice hike the other day when she asked me to jump up on a stump in the woods and pose for pictures.
So I jumped up on the stump...
...and then she began to take pictures.

*Morris,* she said, *look smart and noble!*

Sorry!
Boring!
*Morris, come on! Give me your best side!*
[Tee Hee, I did!]

How do you like this side, HMMM?

I think SHE got aggravated with me then. And said to be Nice and Look like a good Dog.

Who?
Moi?

SHE kept bugging me.

*Morris, come on, look Noble, look Smart!*

Fine.

You have no idea what it is like to put up with HER and HER camera.

I definitely think I should get modeling wages and not just a dog cookie for all my efforts.