Thursday, March 27, 2014

I should what with my Hist-o-gram?

They are supposed to help a person take a better photo.

I never used them until the other day when doing an assignment for a group I belong to on Google+.

I knew what it was, I knew it was a graph 'thingy' that showed up in the camera if I hit certain buttons, and I know it shows up in Photoshop when I do editing.

So the other day I did a little experimenting on my own.

I shot with my Olympus Digital E-420 camera, it is light enough to use a wimpy light tripod with.  I'm not weighed down by it much and since it is one of my oldest cameras, I take it when things can get rough hiking.

However it sees snow as blue!

Here is one shot I took for the Histogram shot.

Well obviously the colors are way off.
I put it into my trail version of PaintShopPro X6 Ultimate and decided to check the histogram.

The top one is the histogram as PSP reads it.  There is a lot of info missing on the right which means this is underexposed.
Yes I bet it was, it was getting dark and the ISO was set at 100 for this shot.

Not only that, I was dealing with a flash flood from snow melt, so I wasn't taking the time to twiddle with the camera.

I know, bad me right?

But could I save this shot of the ice wall?

Above I tried to stretch out the histogram, but dang it, the color was so off that it wouldn't work well.

Back to PSP.

First I used AfterShotPro to develop the RAW shot over again, this time paying attention to the WHITE of the snow.

I was able to stretch the histogram to the right and get the nice white color I needed instead of the blue.

Not a perfect histogram according to some digital photographers, but this was going to have to do as the wall may well be gone on my next trip down.

This turned out so much better than I hoped.  The texture of the ice wall along with the streaks of brown from the clay and minerals came out quite nicely.

The snow is white, the shot was saved!
I can add it to my project about the creek!

This thanks to learning a bit more about the histogram.

I also found the histogram quite useful with this shot.  The original is in color but I converted to black and white.  
The white of the water was not showing white, it was coming up dingy grey until I worked on the histogram.

That said, I also liked the dark forboding color version of this shot.  
Histogram be danged and all that.

You see there is a 'lot' of info missing on the right side.  I say, oh well, I really like this shot.

So I'll do some more experimenting with the Hist-o-gram shortly, but there are many occasions that a photographer doesn't have time to set, reset, change EV values and then re-check the histogram while doing a shot in nature.

Well, maybe they do and I am just lazy.

But these shots were taken as quickly as possible during a mini flash flood, so I was 'capturing' the moment so to speak.

And if you want more reading on Histograms, try this article from Digital Photography school.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Using Graphic programs to creat art.

Over the past year I've met some incredible Fractal Artists that do some incredible work.

There is a group at Facebook called Mandelbulb Maniacs which was founded by Ricky Jarnigan.  
The group has people of all levels and skills with the program.

I've been working with Mandelbulb 3D for a few years now and it seems that I learn something every time I create 'something'.

I often mix up my media.

I like to use other programs such as JWildfire created by Adreas Maschke.  If you like flames and colors, this is mind blowing stuff.  Andreas is always working on ways to improve JWildfire and make it even more easy to create beautiful works.

This took a bit, but it really wasn't that hard.  I started with Daniel Eaton's parameters he posted on Flickr, March 18th.  I then created this piece with symmetry settings, and something called Layerz.

LĂș Bendett is another artist I enjoy  following and interacting with.  He has Fractart on FB and his images area both JWildfire and Mandlebulb 3d.

Here is a fantastic fractal he created for today!

*Spring has Sprung in a Vase* 

One other thing I'd like to mention, these two programs are free.
Yes .... free.  Free to download and experiment with.

The FB groups are worth joining FB for just to get tips and ideas, as well as fantastic parameters that are shared.

I will mention one other program.

It is also free but the programmer has left a message that they are not developing it any more due to lack of funds.
There isn't a lot of extra help out there for the program and it is very resource intensive, however...beautiful things can occur when you mix your medias.

I used JWildfire as a backround IN Incendia and rendered the fractal flower into the image.

Here is a Mandelbulb used as a backround and Incendia used to create the final image...mixing the media is very cool.

So when the outside world is cold, damp, snowy, yucky, and you are looking for something to do, start playing with graphic art.

It brings color into your life.

My entry today for a 'spring like' fractal for Mandelbulb Maniacs was this:


Thursday, March 20, 2014

No iphones, smart phone, to have fun

When I was 'the mom' of kids we didn't have internet, phones were still in houses on walls, and...
we even had a two seater outhouse.

But that wasn't because it was a century ago.
It was in the 80's.

Kids on the farm used imagination to have fun.
They were not staring at a large flat screen, or plugged into a device.

They also rarely got bored when they could invent cool and fun games.

Sometimes the 'whole' neighborhood would get together and then it was time for even more fun.

What has happened these days?

We have to let them explore their boundaries and themselves.  
Not get 'connected' with the internet and let TV rule their lives.

They need fresh air and sunshine...and yes, mud too.  

Let kids be kids and have adventures.

If they don't live in the country, let them play supervised at a playground...take time to invest in their well being and future.
Let them experience life.

Let them be kids.

I wrote this after talking with someone about how they 'can't get their kids' to do anything.  All they want to do is mess with their phones and text...or play games on an Xbox.



Tuesday, March 18, 2014

She is Insane! by Morris

Any healthy normal human or dog would not do the things she does.


She got her camera, her pistol, and her coveralls on and added a bottle of water to her belt.

I knew it was going to be a great hike, so I jumped back and forth, up and down, and literally begged to go with.

Was I nuts?

She took the big lummox Dixie with us.

She said 'We are going to go find Deer Antler Sheds.'

Okay, I get that, we look for antlers in the woods, she collects them and brings them home.
Sometimes she even finds cool skulls and stuff.

So off we went, the unlikely trio.  The big lummox, me, and her.
Dixie ran willy nilly through the snow jumping and gallumping.  She is a natural at gallumping.

I'm dainty and swift.  Dixie chases after me, I make a 180 under her nose and it takes her about 5 feet to turn around.
The chase game lasted about 5 minutes.

Anyway I sniffed out something wonderfully disgusting upwind of us.  I was surprised that Lummox did not.  Is she NOT a hound?
Anyway I found the first Antler Shed.

SHE was very pleased until she found out that there was a whole bunch of parts attached to it.  A nice high 8 pointer, she said.

I thought the rotting icky stuff was good.  She mumbled something about coming back without dogs [hah-rumph] and getting what she wanted.  Like the intact skull. 

We then went on our merry way.  Dixie at this time had settled down and was running trails and circling around, leaping through the deeper snow while I kept close to her.

If nasty coyotes were around, let them eat Lummox and not tasty little Jack Russells.

We finally made it to the 'camp' road and walked down to the creek.  She looked up at the sky and said it was going to rain so we should head home.

Fine by me, I was tired of trudging through the deep snow.

Then when she saw that the creek was up and running hard, you'd have thought she'd hit the jackpot or something.  She got all happy and pulled out her camera.

She said something about the snow melt and the big ravine...and something about the big snow melt that she'd been waiting for.

Dixie didn't have a clue that we were in the beginning stages of a big rush of water.  I however did.  I stayed away from the running stuff as best I could.
I got caught up in midstream on a rock and water all around me.

Did she help?
She took a picture!
Of course!
Little dog in need?  Take photo, then help.

She claims that I was not in danger of being swept away.  She did pick me up though and put me on the bank.
Okay, so she isn't that bad.

But then we got to the ravine.  Dixie decided to climb rocks with her.  Dixie is too curious.  I've done this many times before and the roar of the water is too noisy.
Besides, I know the creek can fill up fast and get wide.

However, SHE says she keeps a careful eye on it.  She says it is not like a flash flood, it is a snow melt run.
Okay, tell me the difference.  Water gets deep, it runs hard, and makes lots of noise.

I must say though she does not dilly dally.  She gets in, takes her pictures and gets to the other side of the creek.
Last year the one snow melt was so fast she nearly didn't get back across. 

So The Lummox and her climbed rocks and she took some really cool shots of the water running.  The colors are from the red clay in the soil and look cool against the snow.

I think she would have stayed for a very long time doing pictures.  But she was worried that it was getting late and that we had been off in the woods for a long time.

I watched the water empty into the creek.  It wasn't coming from upstream yet so we were doing pretty good.

We moved on up the creek to see if any other ravines were 'running'.

Oh goody, the last one was!
In fact we climbed down a muddy steep bank [did I mention ice too?] and then climbed up more rocks...
all for a stupid picture.

Okay, she didn't think it was stupid.
But she did have a hard time with the climb back out of there.

Dixie and I scampered up the muddy slippery hillside and went on to play a little chase.

The thing is, we all got back in one piece.
I must admit, I do like our adventures even if the Lummox comes along.

And she does pick me up and puts me over barbed wire fences so I don't get harmed.

I wonder when the next antler looking thing is going to occur?

Friday, March 14, 2014

March is Warming & Snow Melt Month

Well, we also fondly call it the Mud-Month.  When the snow melts and the sun shines, the frost comes out of the ground and makes our gravel roads mushy and squishy and ... in some spots, sink holes of mud.

At night it freezes into ruts.

And the process begins again the very next day.

This morning I took a quick trip down to the creek with Morris.  We'd gone late yesterday afternoon, but the run off hadn't begun by 5pm.  

Although the pastures had water running off from them.


I knew it wouldn't then, too many places where the water should run were clogged with ice and snow yet.  The woods was still knee deep in the white stuff.

The view above is from this morning's walk.  You can see the land.  Where the X is, is right above the creek.  You can see that the land is steep so it will take a lot to get the water running in the spot.

Being able to be present during the first 'run off' is pretty neat.  I hope to catch it this year as I have in years past.

It takes a lot of watching and guess work, but mostly luck to catch the first melt and flash flood.

I was able to take a photo this morning of the little falls that had started my 'Creek Project' back in November.

Today it looked like this:

And here was the same spot on November 6th:

Well, the weather people said it would be warm and windy today.  But the sun has gone behind clouds and the March winds are howling.

If it stays this overcast, the melt will hold off yet another few days.
Which would make me happy as I work for the next couple of days which are supposed to be rather cold.

Happy March Winds and Snow Melt!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Just a little jaunt


Morris gave me the look as I started gathering my things together to go for a walk.  I was hoping that the recent warm weather and refreezing had produced the wonderful ice falls formations by 'the cave'.

So I gathered my backpack, snow shoes, and camera and got ready to head out the door.

Morris nagged me until I relented and decided to let him come along.  We were getting an early enough start that I thought he could stay walking on the top of the snow crust and not break through.  The last time we'd gone for a long hike he was really wiped out when we got home.

It wasn't long into the hike that I realized that it wasn't going to be easy for either of us.  Despite the weather forecast of cold, the March sun was warming things up very quickly.


We decided to use advantage of the snow mobile trail and go with some easy walking even if it was pretty slippery.

In the woods the snow was still over knee deep in many places.  The south facing hillsides though were nearly bare with pockets of snow here and there.

I came across the 'infamous' deer stand which I like to refer to as my outdoor office.

I figured from here that I'd cut through the woods and we'd be right near the large ravine with the 'cave like' formations in it.

Little did I know that my shortcut was going to be some of the worst hiking possible in snow shoes.
The ice crust was 'rotten' and I kept breaking through.  Morris and I followed a deer trail the best I could.
Morris could get through the underbrush and I had to go around.

I kept having to climb over downed trees and kept getting tripped up. 
The sun was getting warm and I was getting hot and frustrated.

When we got to the old hill road that leads by the cave, I was too exhausted to be disappointed by the lack of ice falls.

Morris however was his usual Jack Russell self.  He was raring to go while I was looking for a place to sit down and have a drink of water.

My timing for the ice falls must have been off.  Either they had formed and melted already or they were in the process of forming some more with the melts during the day and freezes at night.
Either way.
I may have missed them.

So we took a long walk down the snowmobile trail and up the valley along the creek towards home.

I checked my GPS and we'd gone 2.39 miles.  I haven't pulled off the elevation charts yet but I can solidly say that the hills and grades we were on were steep.

The trip although pretty tough on this 'old' lady and old dog was still worth it.  I won't forget standing on the trail and quietly watch 3 deer eat in the open field while Morris and I looked on.

Or the cursing, tripping, and even...oh yeah, falling into the deep snow...and then having to plunge my hand down up to my elbow to try and right myself back upright.

But the weather was nice and mild compared to what we've dealt with all year so far.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Morris and me ... and a little Saturday walk

The snow had a very odd texture to it and in places was 3 ft deep and in other spots, it was only ankle deep.

The texture was icy when we began our walk and became soft in the sunlit areas as we neared the end of our hike.

Even with snow shoes on in one area it was all I could do to just move forward.  Morris tried his best to walk on top of the snow but kept breaking through.
He is a determined dog, especially when he is near home.
Then he will blaze his own trail, even if it means that he is fighting to keep his head above the white stuff.

The photo above is our creek bed, water is flowing under the ice...under the snow.
I know the temps are supposed to be warm on Monday then back to winter, so the appearance will change again.

We didn't stay in the creek bottom but decided to walk to the back of our property.

We followed some deer trails and tracked more than one raccoon to a den tree.

The tracks were very cool in the snow.

Then we found an odd tree with several knurls in it...
I messed with the backround so you can see it better...see the face in it?

Creepy and funny isn't it?

After all this excitement, we slogged home through the softening snow...step by step.

When we got home, Morris took up his favorite spot on the old recliner where his 'blanket' is and instantly fell asleep.

Life is good when you can nap in the sunlight isn't it?

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Fractal Artist Ricky Jarnagin


Please tell me a bit about yourself and a little backround so we know who you are.

My name is Ricky Jarnagin and I lived in San Antonio, Texas! 
Although I am a native Texan an a Proud U.S. Army Veteran. 
I took one art class in high school and never looked back! 
It was not my favorite class. 
I have dabbled in photography on and off for many years but never took any classes. 
I have been married for 33 years and have two grown sons!

What attracted you to digital artwork and why do you do it?

I watched the deviantart site for several years before getting up the nerve to join! I thought at that time my Gimp [free open source editing program] skills would get me by! 
I was so wrong! 
Then I discovered the wonderful Fractal art of Mr. Hal Tenny! I was blown away by the forms and detail of his art, so I downloaded Mandelbulb 3D and started playing around with it in 2011. I also tried other programs like APO but I just didn't like them. I am now a full blown Mandelbulb 3D addict!  

[This also answers the question of which Fractal Program is Ricky's favorite program!  Mandelblulb 3D hands down!]

*Growing in the Back Yard*

Do you have goals for you art?

I founded Xtreme Fractals on deviantart and ran the group until the membership reached 1000. At that time my health began to fail and I turned the group over to the current Founder "Ladycompassion." But the fractal bug had me in it clutches and refused to let go! So, I got on Facebook and created the Mandelbulb Maniacs group were we have almost 500 members now!
I have created many images since I began using Mandelbulb 3D and active try to get new users involved with fantastic FREE program. 
You can find Ricky's art presence all over the web:
There are probably more places you can find his work if you look hard, but Ricky has a very strong internet presence.  What I didn't really know until I began asking him questions is that I'd been watching him on deviantART as DsyneGrafix for a while now...and finally pieced the two names together just recently after joining the Facebook Group Mandelbulb Maniacs.
*The Mystic Muse*

Do you think that people need to be computer geeks to try these programs?

Mandelbulb 3D does have a steep learning curve, but not so steep the that average person can not learn how to create really AWESOME fractal images! 
There are many very well written tutorials that can easily be found across the internet as well as groups and forums that can answer questions for new users!

Note to reader.  If you are new to these programs or want to try them there are resources and many tutorials listed on deviantART, the Facebook Group Mandelbulb Maniacs, and many other places on the internet.
Mandelbulb 3D is free and can be downloaded at Fractal
You do not have to be a geek, I'm not sure I understand the program that well and I enjoy it immensely.

Ricky Jarnagin also sells his art at finartameria.
You can also follow him on Google+.  

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Fractal Artist Daniel Eaton

When I sent out some questions to a few Fractal Artists that I really admire, I got some immediate response and some interesting information.

*Full Deck by Daniel Eaton*

Daniel Eaton lives in Canton GA (North Metro Atlanta).  His on line address is:

Please tell me a bit about yourself and a little backround so we know who you are.

I'm an identical twin that just celebrated my 52nd birthday.  I've been married for 29 years and have two grown children.  

My other hobbies and interests include politics, theology (especially the origins debates), technology (especially Android), making my own jerky, and making my own e-juice for vaping.  

I've been known to blog about these topics and have written some lengthy articles or essays on some of them.  I am a moderator on several forums and also the volunteer as the project manager and technical support person for an online non-profit.  

I enjoy reading and, more often due to my concentration issues, listening to audio books.  My favorite genre of books and TV shows are of the mystery/thriller variety.  

If I were to name one guilty pleasure in life, I'm also pretty addicted to playing DragonVale.  There should be a 12-step program for that!  But is satisfies the project manager side of me and, as I get into with the next "why do you do this" question, it gives me a sense of accomplishment that I no longer am able to obtain in traditional career or other physical terms.

I'm also a huge fan of the reality show Big Brother.  If you are into the study of sociology and the way folk's worldview shapes how they see others and interpret what they say, it is hard to find a clearer example that that show.  By recognizing the worldview of others, it helps us to recognize our own and allows us to become a bit more objective and irenic in the presentation of our own beliefs in topics that are known to get pretty heated.  

What attracted you to digital artwork and why do you do it?

*Replication by Daniel Eaton*

After two decades of being a computer programmer and project manager, I was suddenly disabled by a rare neurological condition nine years ago.  

While it resulted in a toll in my physical health that I couldn't fix, I was looking for something that I could do that would give me a sense of accomplishment every day and a reason to get out of bed.  

Without the physical stamina that would enable me to do anything physical, I thought about what I could do using computers.  I don't recall what brought fractals to mind, but I've been doing them ever since.  And when I wake up in the morning knowing that I have an overnight batch of rendered images waiting for me, it's hard to go back to sleep.


Because I do this for my own sense of fulfillment and don't want the stress of trying to sell them or keep others from "borrowing" them, I give all my stuff away. This means not only do I do fractals as gifts for people on occasion, but I also publicly share all my parameters online for others to use and enjoy.  I've also used my understanding of computer programming to create a lot of Apophysis scripts, a tutorial on how to write an Apophysis script based on Apophysis parameters, a windows app that would do unattended batch rendering, an explanation of fractals for kids or interested adults, and even came up with a combination of tools to let me embed the parameters of about 20,000 images into the EXIF data of the image itself so that they can be browsed in a visual format and archived online.  I've also done a few J-Wildfire scripts based on some of my old Apophysis stuff.  They are available on the J-Wildfire forum.  So when I have the mental clarity to do it, I not only enjoy making fractals, but enjoy using my knowledge of programming to make my fractal production a bit easier to do, easier to explain, or easier to organize.

 What if it all do you want others so see in your work?

To go back to my listed hobby of the origins debate, I believe that fractals, like nature, show evidence of intelligent design.  

It is more than just beauty.  It reflects a reality that there is something bigger than us out there.  When I am zooming deep down into a fractal, it reminds me of a microscope.  

When we put something man-made under a microscope, the more we magnify it, the more we see its flaws and imperfections. But when we put something natural under the microscope, we find more and more detail.  Whether it be cell structure or DNA or the atom, we see increasing complexity that brings me a sense of awe.

So not to take anything away from all the developers that have spent so much time in creating these amazing tools for us, but they are like the guy that makes a camera,  The beauty and awe are in what these things capture.  And when I luck upon a nice one, I am reminded that God is the Supreme Fractalist.

Do you have goals?  

Because I am disabled, I have no real professional goals.  I'm kinda stuck on the sidelines of life.  

So my goal is to make my little spot on the side of the road something that benefits people.  I want folks to enjoy their interaction with me, benefit from the little things that I can offer, and, while they may not agree with all my opinions, see me as someone who has researched reasons for their beliefs and can present them in a loving and reasoned manner.  So my personal goals are in the area of becoming a better person and helping others in whatever way that I can.  

What is your favorite program and why?

Over the 8+ years that I've been doing fractals, I've used about a dozen different apps.  All but one have been free, so that fit my disability budget perfectly! :)  

I started out with Chaoscope, moved to Apophysis and a couple of different ports of that, played with Mandelbulb 3D, Incendia, Fractal Science Kit, Mind Blowing Fractals, several different apps for iOS and Android, and have settled on my current favorite - J-Wildfire.  

I enjoy being able to use my old parameters from my Apophysis days, love that it is in very active development with frequent updates of new features, and benefit from an active user group.  It's very simple to create some nice stuff with the mutagen window, yet has a ton of capabilities "under the hood" that allow you to get as complex and deep into every aspect of the fractal as you desire.  The ability to have sub-flames alone (the ability to include one fractal as a part of another) gives it a powerful capability that sets it apart.  With the scripts and other resources that are available, and with the fact that it is cross-platform and will run on anything with Java, it truly is an app that anyone from beginner to expert can use on any computer platform.

 Do you have to be a real geek to try these programs?
It's not a requirement, but it helps. :)  

But I encourage folks to not let their lack of understanding to scare them away.  You don't have to understand the math behind fractals.  I sure don't.  

So when I explain how to do fractals to those who never have, I try to take the geek/nerd stuff out of it and put it into every day terms.  Parameters become "recipes" and all those variations become "ingredients".  By adding or adjusting the ingredients, you can come up with a finished product just to your taste.

 *Orange by Daniel Eaton*

Any additional thoughts on Fractal Art?

Not everyone "gets" fractal art.  
Out of the tens of thousands of fractals that I've created, there have only been a couple that my wife or kids have said "that's beautiful" about.  They just don't "get it".  
So don't get into fractals for the attention or the accolades of the masses.  
Do it for yourself.  
Do the images that YOU think are pretty.  
And find some forums like the J-Wildfire group where you can appreciate the work of others and share your own.  
They "get" it and are more likely to appreciate your work and offer assistance as needed. 
 And try to learn from them.  
Don't be bashful about posting a piece and the parameters for it and asking folks what THEY would do to make a piece better.  You may not agree with all the suggestions, but it's a great learning experience.  And as you have the opportunity, try to pay it forward.  Try to share your knowledge and experience and resources.  It is in the learning and teaching/helping that you will find your greatest reward.

Daniel made this blog-post pretty simple for me, there was no better way that to just cut and pretty much paste his information here.
I've gotten to know Daniel through Flickr, the JWildfire group on FB, and have admired how freely he shares his information and knowledge.  How he always seems to be willing to help and answer anyone's questions and also how he encourages others.

One of the things I might ask the reader to do is check on the links provided by Daniel Eaton, read about him and his neurological disorder.   I learned something even more than digital graphic arts today.
I learned about  a man who finds  graphic art and sharing his love for it a place to go and be himself. 

I find doing Fractal Art as a way to simply enjoy beauty which he describes so well.  The fun part of it is the learning curve.

Thank you so much Daniel Eaton.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014


I'm a huge fan of graphic art.  I enjoy the creating of something out of nothing.  Well, okay, fractals are all about math.

I think I enjoy this method of 'messing' around as a tool to explore and be surprised when something works out well.
I am not the master of Fractal Programs, but in the next week I plan on interviewing a few artists.

When I first saw Fractal Art, it was posted on Flickr.  I was mesmerized by the colors and the wonderful abstracts that were created.

So I started looking into 3D programs and Fractals.  

My very first fractal was created in a program called Apophysis.  I added all sorts of 'stuff' to it until I was satisfied.  I started in 2008 with Fe Explore and Sterling Fractals which I believe are still available to download.  A list of programs can be found at Amazing Seattle Fractals.

Sort of looks like a mad-person's mind doesn't it?  I put in several different little flames and then went made in Adobe Photoshop 7.0 with layers and brushes.

My first try in Sterling Fractals:

I sure had no idea of what I was doing but I knew that it fascinated me in so many ways.

In the next week I'm going to try and feature some fractal artists that I've met through social media and groups.
I enjoy their work and would like to know what exactly got them started down the road to being such an artist.

I'm still a novice but am always looking for deeper understanding of the programs and also for the fun of it.

It is always a welcome break from photography and for those days when I have to stay inside because of wicked weather.