Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Bad Weather is Good for..

Hiking and Photography! Really!

The NOAA said "Winter Storm Warning" for my area. For the area we had planned on going was "Winter Weather Advisory".

Now what exactly did that mean?
For my place it meant. Thundersnow, lightening, hail, rain, snow, more rain, more snow, and then sleet. And then Freezing Rain.

I woke up when the lightening and thunder occurred. It was loud and incredible. Then came the hail. 

Well, never mind that. I met up with the Kenosha Crew and we ate breakfast while deciding on where to 'adventure' first. We got into our Subaru's and headed to Mirror Lake.
I'd always wanted to go there and hadn't been there yet.

When I bought my annual sticker for my car my friends came in with me. The lady behind the counter sort of gave us a funny look when we picked up a trial map.
We gleefully announced we were going hiking!

I'm pretty sure she locked the door behind us.
Nah...she didn't. Maybe just radioed the rangers about the crazy folks in two Subarus.
We drove on the crunchy slippery roads with a mist of freezing sleet/rain/mist coming down.
We found an area that was open for parking and proceeded to put on hiking gear.

"Look mom...dad! I ran down the log and got out here!"
Mom and dad: "Be careful!"
"Whoops! Hey my boot IS waterproof!"

And we went on hiking.

And we went exploring. 
Do you know what it is like to feel like you have a whole State Park all to yourself? No? 
Well we did. The mist came down and when a bit of a breeze picked up we found places to get out of the wind.

I followed an old staircase that lead to nowhere and found an interesting view that looked out over the frozen lake.

However, the view straight down where my friends had been was just as interesting.

And roots. I like roots, so gnarly, so sturdy, so intriguing!

We headed down into the 'gorge' under the Ishnala Bridge and sort of wandered around exploring. Everyone did their own thing.

And that was just the first day of our 3rd annual Ice Hike. We were pretty sure that winter would have left us, but fortuneatly Mother Nature to quote my friend Daryl, "Did not disappoint."

I wonder if the lady in the Admissions office breathed a sigh of relief when we drove out. 

Little did she know that we were going to do it all again the next day, only someplace else.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Well Love is a Hound Dawg...

So who can resist those flopping ears, the wobbling jowls, the wagging tail, and the awkward galumphing of Dixie?

I was going to go shoot some still life shots just for something interesting to do. At the last moment I chose to bring Dixie.
That changed all of my plans.

Dixie played and ran and was pure joy. I had to just simply observe and enjoy her antics.

In the photo below you can just barely see her as she really blends into the backround.

She got muddy as all get out by climbing logs and at one point she fell into a wash.
She popped up and shook off. Tough dog.

Dixie can't help her nose. It is fantastic without a doubt. She can track me, but she can also find interesting carcasses. This was a doe at some point.
I would love it if Dixie could find antler sheds.

She was so very good about the whole thing. She picked up some bones and chewed on them until I got there...climbing under nasty prickly stuff...

I told her to leave it. And she dropped the bones and we went on.
I collected the skull for an art project later this year. I deposited it in a place where I could come back and get it.

We found other deer parts spread out through the valley. Most likely coyote kills or careless hunters.
This land is now leased during deer hunting season and I am not an advocate of certain kinds of hunters who shoot and don't find their animal.

After our adventure, Dixie and I went to visit the upstairs...top of the ridge neighbors...she was curtious, kind, and lovable to the little kids. I know my next indoor dog will be a hound.
Dixie would have been an indoor dog, however, before the remodel, we did not have room for her AND Morris.

Big Dog. Huge Heart. Lots of Love.

ON1 10.5 and ONRAW2017

I'm always looking for ways to touch up a photo in a fast an easy sort of manner. I don't like wild over editing, although I will plead guilty to doing it when I feel extremely creative.

I discovered ON1 Effects Free a year or so ago and installed it. I enjoyed playing around with it and then tried the 90 day trial of ON1 10.5. I found I was able to take .RAW files and edit them in the 10.5 version and I really enjoyed the ease of use.
When my 90 days were up, I bought the program.

This was a photo I did in 10.5:
I am not a huge fan of photographing buildings, but each year when I go to the Range to practice for work and Qualify, I go past this church.
I happen to really love photographing this little building.
I thought a vintage look would be fun.
So yes, this would be 'over-edited' but for my creative juices only.

I also sometimes like to work in layers. Imagine how pleased I was that I could layer and mask easily in both ON1 programs.

I normally wouldn't be altering a photo like this and adding extra textures to it, but I thought it would be nice to show how easy it really is to do in ON1.

Here is the original shot.
And then the peeling paint texture added:
I used "Overlay" and lightened it a bit in a layer above the photo, then use a handy little Bug Tool to keep the cup and beads from having the texture.

It was an interesting experiment.
Seriously? I like the plain and straight forward photo myself.

However, this series of edits only took me a few minutes to do. Which is the beauty of this program.
I also didn't have to take hours of Photoshop courses in order to learn how to do it.
I did review how to use this program from a few "Short Clips" from ON1.

I have to admit, I do enjoy being able to be more 'creative' with ON1, at least I can do it all in once place and do it quickly.

I absolutely adore how I can edit my Still Life work.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Sunrise to Sunset

I didn't intend on getting up early, it just happens. I do like sunrises and this winter I avoided a few spectacular ones because I was too lazy to walk to the ridge.
And it was terribly icy and cold.

However there was no excuse Sunday morning.
Our temperatures had been warm and overnight the temperatures had fallen into the 20's. The gravel roads had firmed up.

I warmed up the car and off I went. I didn't go far, but the car makes it easier to get more than one view of the morning sky.

I was able to do a hand held panoramic of the land at the end of the road.

Then I zoomed in towards the old farm buildings and the silo with no top.

I took off towards the other side of the ridge and parked next to a neighbor's cattle pen.

Indeed, the colors seemed worth getting up for.

I got back to the house and had coffee with my husband before the sun peeked over the horizon. Once the sun did make an appearance, the color of the sky was washed out.

We had coffee and I asked Rich if he'd ever been to the Kickapoo Dam, or if he was familiar with that trail. He said he hadn't ever been there, when he was riding the land it would have been a rather boring trail for the mules.

I told him I was thinking of checking it out for a place to go watch the sunset. I wasn't sure I wanted to go alone so when my neighbor Lauren came down the driveway with some fresh eggs, I ran the idea past her.

She mulled it over. I told her that the trail from what the Kickapoo Reserve site map indicated, it would be rather short and fairly easy.

We agreed on a time and I went back to doing farm things. I watered the stock tanks and we fed some large bales out to the cattle.
Buster was feeling lazy and posed for me...

Rich worked in the shed and I wandered out there and took some shots of him working. I've asked him to be my model numerous times. He never seems to mind me pointing the camera at him.

I made a batch of chocolate chip bars and then decided to take a quick nap before our late afternoon adventure.

We headed out to KVR and started our hike.
It was a rather nice one too. Not hard at all.
It didn't take us very long to get to the dam. The project was halted in 1996, you can read about it for yourself. History of the Kickapoo Valley Reserve.

I'm happy that this land is here and we are able to do so much on it. How lucky can we be to have so many parks, reserves, and county parks in our county?

Very lucky I say.

The sunset was not spectacular as I'd hoped for. It was rather dull, however the kids enjoyed running and playing until twilight set in.
Then we passed out flashlights and started back down the trail towards the Administration Building.

My conclusion is that this could be a great area to watch either the sun rise or the sun set. And it is always somewhat of a crap-shoot to find out if the skies will bring you something fantastic.

Note: The sunrise shots were done in 'sunrise' or 'sunset' mode on the camera. Most cameras have them. However I find that the colors are often overblown and unrealistic. I prefer to use the manual setting on the camera to get truer colors.
The panoramic shot was done in a sequence of four shots. I was able to bring some of the cropland back from the dark shadows.
A slight underexposure of a sunrise or sunset will also give you brilliant colors. 

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Nothing is Impossible!

It was just one of those days.

The neighbor kids were off from school and the temperatures were insanely warm for February.

Our texts back and forth from the house on the ridge to the one in the hollow were all about "Let's go for a Hike!" Morris was welcome to come along.  We packed snacks and water.

And off we went. Morris walked on a leash until we got down the road just a bit.

Who knew a corn field could be so interesting?
One can whip corn stalks like ninja swords and throw corn cobs high into the sky. There was plenty of mud to explore and we had just begun the journey.

To the right is the real driveway and to the left of the kid picnic table is where the neighbor who lives on the ridge has been driving to avoid ice/snow/mud.
With the quick melt and thaw, I was pretty sure that the days of getting back to his place was going to get very interesting.

We made it to the old ridge road which is used in the winter by snowmobiles and during the rest of the year by those folks who drive a 4 wheeler or take a 4 wheel drive truck to the 'camp ground' on the bottom.

The snow was still present on the north hillsides but was gone on all of the south facing hillsides.

Morris kept tabs on the kids. Lauren, my night time hiking pal and I enjoyed the view and the shouts from the kids each time they discovered something interesting.

By this time the kids had shed their sweatshirts. How odd to see kids walking on ice and snow with short sleeves! But it was warm, the sun was strong, and there was no wind.
Just a few short weeks ago Lauren and the Kenosha gang and I had taken a chilly night hike right through here.

No ice formations at the culvert this warm day. Just rushing water.

And then we turned the corner through the dead golden rod plants and...

there was the creek...

And the fun ensued. One might have thought the kids were having summer fun at the beach on February 17th?

Everyone enjoyed it.

As we got towards the shadier part of the creek, and the slight air movement that came down from the snowy northern hillsides, the air got colder.

The sweatshirts went back on and the kids we headed towards the trail that went back towards my house.

Since the flood had washed out the ridge road, we now had to climb a steep bank and follow a deer trail to get back up on the ridge road.
I'd brought a rope to help out.

The hillside was covered in slick ice.

We nicknamed it "The Elevator".

Allie looked at it and proclaimed it to be Impossible!

Carson looked at it and muttered, "Nothing is Impossible!"
He grabbed the rope and climbed up the slick hillside.

And up he scampered.

Nothing is Impossible, if you set your mind to it.