Monday, November 28, 2016

Why we do we decorate for the Holidays?

November is nearly over. And here comes the Brown Icky Dreary Season.
The clouds are low and grey, last night it rained nearly one and a half inches. The rains pelted the house and blew in from the north and east.

From down in our little hollow we can hear the winds whipping this morning through the bare branches on the ridge. It sounds a bit ghostly. A mist or fog is moving in to make things look even more dreary.
This would be a good day to stay indoors and read a book. Or nap.

Yesterday started out wonderful. The frost came off the land in a beautiful fog. The sun peeked into our hollow and shone brightly. It was warm, it was nice.

This is a view of our place yesterday afternoon after I'd walked up to the neighbor's and checked on their chickens and goats. 
I also walked their dog Dexter.
I am startled by the difference in the remodel and I am not used to seeing it this way yet.

Our porch lights will light up the hollow in the night and can be seen from the ridge now that the leaves are down.
Today though it is yuck. Super Yuck. The sort of day that you want to pretend is over.

So I started to get out some Christmas Decorations. Rich walked into the house and saw some bags of decorations next to his computer desk.

"Decorating already?" He wondered.
"Well, thinking about it." 

I know why people decorate in our neck of the woods right after Thanksgiving. The gloomy days set in and a person has to have something to brighten their days.

No one else really comes to the house and enjoys our decorations. Our Christmas Eve and Day are generally spent with just ourselves or we go visit Rich's mom so she won't be alone.
I don't mind really.

I went out and got the Christmas Chair. The horrid ugly chair that I found buried in the garage a few years ago. It needs refinishing, gluing, and ... well. It should be just tossed out into the rubbish pile.

But. I like to take ugly things and pretty them up.

It will be interesting to see what I come up with this year. I try not to let any two years be the same.
Well, except for the ugly chair.

Let the fog/mist/rain/grey/dreary stuff roll in. Deer hunting is over, the blaze orange can be put away. The fall decorations can be stashed.

It's time to decorate and brighten the indoors up.

Stay tuned. The broken down chair will be transformed again this year.

And just in case you didn't know. I love to take Still Life shots of the decorations.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Things I am learning about Still Life Photography

I really thought I disliked Still Life photography.
In fact I knew that I did not like it.
I would be terrible at it. I'd suck at it.
I wouldn't know what to do with it.
I didn't have the patience for it.
I didn't have the cameras for it.
I liked the outdoors, I was a nature person...

However. When the bleak November skies are dreary. Sometimes a bit of indoor photography is a good alternative.

I don't know what I'll do with some of these shots, but they were fun to 'make'.

I set white painted boards down, and tossed some scrap clothes along with beads, fake jewelry, and a doily that I picked up at the Flea Market. I used a page from my grandmother's daily diary and an old photo of my father in law and his family taken...well, when he was little.

Elliott's book keeps finding its way into my photos. I find the entries pretty interesting.

Then of course, I have to do a bit of silliness.
An old wooden crate, some toy soldiers my youngest son left years ago, and toy dinosaurs.

The real challenge would have been to get them all in focus with some focus stacking.

Then I went back to a favorite of mine that had been packed away for nearly a year. The salt and pepper shaker donkey.

I used a bit of High Key style editing and was pleased.

There is a strange side effect to doing Still Life. You find yourself looking at a scrape of ribbon or cloth and wondering if it would look good in a shot. So you save it.
You find a coffee cup at the flea market with chips and cracks and think, "Wow, this would look neat if I..." and you purchase it with other pieces of "junk".

Slowly your collection of stuff accumulates.
An old lace table cloth.
Cups not fit for drinking out of, and some that are.
Glass bits.
Fake jewelry.
White boards.
Crates. Wood chunks.

Your husband wanders by and watches you set up a tea party with stuffed animals and shakes his head as he walks by.
He is sure that you are certifiably nuts.

And perhaps you are.
Nuts over Still Life.

Friday, November 25, 2016

The Day After Thanksgiving

And all through the house...

Oh wait that is something else, that Christmas poem, The Night Before Christmas.

Okay um, wait, was the day after Thanksgiving. Smacks forehead and reaches for a cup of coffee. Whoops, tea this time of night!

The day after Thanksgiving, chores had to be done just like we do all of the time.

Round bales were put out by hubby and I manned the gates.

Our neighbors are gone for a family get together so I said I'd happily do their chores also.

The goats were so happy to see me.
These are the Nigerian Dwarf goats. Oh I can't recall their names but they are charming anyway.
All four goats greet me with calls of "ma...aaaamaaaa" as I come in to give them grain and let them out to their pasture.

I can remember one goat's name. Sedona. She used to wear a blue collar. Now I can't recall which one she is.

No matter, they were all pleased.

Our weather has been very mild again which feels quite odd. Normally by now we've had at least one or two significant snows.

Next were the chickens. 

I spread some feed out for them in the driveway. There sure was a lot of clucking going on. I checked the nesting boxes and they were full of hens doing their thing.

I thought I'd walk Dexter and see if I could collect eggs after we were done.
Dexter is a pug mix of something. He was pretty lonely the first day his family was gone. But by last night he was sure happy to go for a stroll and enjoy some attention.

This morning we took a fairly nice walk on the road. It is still hunting season and blaze orange is the hip thing to wear.

So, I guess Dexter is pretty hip.

For the past two days my husband and his daughter have been processing two deer that my husband 'harvested' for this season. I suppose there are those who dislike the deer hunt but I will welcome venison in my freezer instead of venison on my car hood any day.

Two deer meant that both households could have a freezer full of meat for the winter. I'd say it was worth it.

After The Dexter Dog Walk, I checked on the cats and checked to make sure everything was okay in the house. 

The hens were done doing their thing and I collected a dozen eggs. I'd made scrambled eggs yesterday for the kids and thought I'd make scrambled omelettes today for Rich and I.

Jeeze, I know that omelettes aren't supposed to be scrambled, but that is the easiest way of cooking eggs. What can I say?

I worked on cleaning up the house. Angel the Beagle had visited with Morris for two days too. Morris is sort of okay with Angel. But he is sure that the grand kids belong to him and not to Angel.

Our day was rather dreary and Rich was rather tired after spending two days on his feet. He went for a nice long nap and I took my camera and went to the Dexter Cattle's summer pasture.

You never know how crazy a person can get when they are stuck in the house for an entire 'gun season'. 
So I thought I'd have a bit of fun.
Who thought 'selfie' would be this?

This weekend I may get out the Christmas Chair and work on it.

Or, who knows?

Monday, November 21, 2016

It looks better through the lens...

This is the spare bedroom now. And I thought I'd take a photo of how I set things up.
I had to use a tripod because the day was so overcast and gloomy that very little light was coming in the west window.

But the result turned out well.

Gourds and rocks on an old shipping box from Rock Falls, ILL USA!

Here is a shot of the room as a mess. When I get in the 'creative' mood, things are dropped all over as I try things out.

I was doing a very nice family/memory/things of the past photo and decided to grab a dinosaur and use the pearls...

Sometimes silliness wins the day.

However I did complete the serious shot I had been thinking about.

The elements are a photo of Rich's father's brothers and sisters. A doily, pearls, and a page from my Grandmother Pearl's diary.

This morning I went out to the woods and found that the rapid temperature change had done some neat things. I detoured with my blaze orange on from the trail camera to a place further downstream.

Well I had no tripod and the light was not very good.
So I put the camera down and steadied it with rocks. I put the timer on a 2 second delay and shot the ice and water.

I think it worked well. Improvising is a good thing.

I then wanted to see it as it was ... cold. So I made it black and white.

Programs used SilverEfexPro [free for download].

So there you have it.
I also used ON1 for editing.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

ON1 RAW coming ...

About a year ago I ran across a program called ON1 Effect 10.5 Free.
I thought I'd try it. Free right? It was safe, no bugs no malware but it opened up a new style of editing photography and creativity.

I found it extremely useful in adding a little special touch to my still life work.

Soon I was hooked into trying ON1 10.5 the program itself. At first I wasn't quite sure on how to use it, but I soon found it fairly user friendly.

After I watched some short clips which gave me helpful hints, I began to use the program more and more.

One day earlier this spring I wasn't paying much attention to the files I was going through and I opened ON1. I grabbed a .NEF file and opened it. A .NEF file is a RAW file shot with a Nikon camera.

Well jigger me switched.
Not only could I open a RAW file from the Nikon cameras, but I could open RAW files from both my Olympus E-420 and my Olympus EM5.

The file is opened and your RAW editing begins in Enhance. You are not editing your RAW file but leaving it alone and editing a copy.
Exposure, color, detail, all of those tools are before you.

Go to FX and your Enhancements are applied.

Now you have choices of edits that you can apply.

There are many presets and filters to chose from. I think the hardest part of ths is making choices.
However, in this shot I just wanted to bring out the little fern curls a bit better.

Imagine my relief when I found out I could do effortless masking.

At this point if you hit 'Save' your current working file is saved as a .PSD file that you can transport to another program as Adobe Photoshop or PaintShopPro and continue any edits.

Export will allow you to save the file as a .jpeg, .TIFF, or PNG. 

If you want to go fancy and make an edit like my still life shots, you can add textures, gradients, borders, and even items from your own files. 

You own the program. You don't lease it. 
ON1 has great short clip videos to help you learn. 
I've used the portrait editing tool and let me tell you, it is as good as it gets. 

NO...ON1 has not paid me to write about this program at all.
I'm just that excited about using it.

Another very cool thing. I opened this photo of my son's dog.
And went to the drop down menu and was able to open up SilverEfexPro 2 and edit the dog in Black and White.

I do like the BW presets in this program also.

What is not to like about ON1 except that I'd never heard of it until early last spring.

Let me just say ON1 Rocks.

But, don't take my word for it, explore the free stuff now.
Check it out.

ON1 RAW will be released soon. 
"ON1 Photo RAW is the lightning fast raw processor, photo editor and plug-in collection all in one app photographers have been asking for. Unlike the current class of raw-based photo editors requiring catalogs, bouncing between apps for editing, and a subscription ecosystem, ON1 Photo RAW features a new, modern raw processing engine, tuned for today's sensors and graphics chips. Combined with our current set of tools, the next generation of ON1 Photo 10, will continue to work where you want, as a standalone app, a plug-in for Adobe® Photoshop® & Lightroom®, or a host app for other editing apps.
No Subscription Required."

Friday, November 18, 2016

If you want it it yourself.

I showed him my Buckmaster .22 pistol in April. I had been target shooting and poof, something didn't sound right. The screw on the back of the pistol had loosened and flown away.
Right. This screw was probably the size of a large bug and there was a lock washer that disappeared into the dirt and pasture...never to been seen again.

I was crestfallen. I love my .22 pistol. My husband bought it for me in 2004 as a Christmas gift.
Now isn't that sweet? 
He said, "Love is giving your wife a pistol." And the salesman replied, "And...You sleep with one eye open right?"

So my dearest husband said, "Well remind me on Monday to call..." and he said a name of somebody who knew somebody who could maybe get the part.

April. May, June, July, August, September...
Me: It is Monday!
Him: Yup!

Me: Going to call?
Him: Well I got to get hay today.

I carefully cleaned my gun and put it in its padded case. I left it on his seat where he has coffee.
The next morning he moved it to the table. I moved it so that it would be in his way when he ate supper.
He moved it to the little phone table and stacked stuff on it.

Me: It is Monday again.
Him: I've got a doctor's appointment.

Me: Okay.

Sigh...It ... is ... Monday.

Him [his hearing must have gotten really bad]. What about Monday?

I'm not one to complain. One more sigh. He brought some ammo and brought it home. 
Him: Look what I got for you!
Me: How nice, .22 ammo... for my broken pistol...

So off to town I go. I stop at a Gun Pawn Shop. I've never been in one and this one is pretty new in our small town. I look around and a lady asks if she can help me.
I am not selling but have a question. She informs me: "We don't do repairs any more."
"Okay, I just need to find out how to order a screw for my pistol."

Soon enough the gunsmith/salesman comes to me. He takes a look at my pistol and comes back in a bit. 
"I ordered the part and I'll have it in 3 days. I'll call, you come in and I'll put it in for you."

As I walk out to my car in the lot I hear choruses of Hallelujah in the sunshine.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

I am a Wander-er

Yesterday I had to go and change the SD card in the trail camera and put new batteries in it.

So Morris and I decided to just wander around a bit. I brought some snacks and we took a nice long hike through our creek bottom.

I found some huge coyote tracks. Rich said they could have been the 'wolf' that had been seen earlier this year. I'm not worried much about a wolf except when I have Morris with me. I'll bring a tape measure and see exactly how large the prints are and photograph it next time.

Then there was some quiet time where Morris wandered around close and watched me stack some rocks.

Rock Stacking. Rock Balancing. 
It isn't something I'd do on another person's property, but it is a nice calming thing to do. Plus it is fun. 
Or you can use it to mark a trail or spot you want to visit again.
My visitors last 2 weeks ago left some stacks for me. I enjoyed it and it made me smile when I came across it yesterday.

This stack left by my friends. It makes me smile!

Eventually I took Morris back home and deposited the SD card near the computer to look at. I went back out to explore the area in the back of our property and check out the deer stand back there.

A word about these deer stands. I think someone crazy invented them.
However, I went way way back to the second deer stand on our property.

Hmmm. I made sure my back pack was secured properly and then checked to see how secure the ladder felt.

Not too bad!

Once I was seated I took a look around. I really felt that I should have been facing the north, but then I suppose if I were sitting up there and a cold north wind was blowing, it may not be a good idea.

I thought that this was a new and interesting perspective. I'd have to keep this place in mind this winter. It would be neat to climb up, get safely seated and take some interesting shots.

I sat and listened to the woods. I really wished I could see one of those large bucks walk through. That would be fun to 'shoot' with the camera.

A squirrel ran up and down the trees close by and was too quick for me to actually grab a shot of him. However some gold finches were kind enough to alight on some berry briers.

The shot isn't great, but it was fun trying to 'capture' them.

I decided about an hour before sunset to go back home. The air was cooling off and I needed to check on all of the stock tanks. Hubby had gone to get a check up for his upcoming surgery on his eye lids, so I was 'in charge'.

Some girls met me on the way through the summer Dexter pasture.

My camera battery was dying so I whipped out my cell phone and took a shot.

One mule, one horse and lots of sky.

Belle and her gang were lazing around in their bedding. 

I noticed their water tank was low.
My day of Wandering was done.

Time to get to work.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Wild Things.

I should do this more often, but I really only think about the trail camera near and during deer season. I've used it on a deer carcass I found last year also which produced some very interesting results

And then there was this wild thing!

And then back to some wildlife.

And some characters from last year.

I enjoy seeing what goes on in the woods when I am not there.

I once set this camera up in a mule pasture one summer night. I was amazed at what those mules did at night!
I suppose it would be interesting to put a camera on our Dexter cattle for a day too.

Well there you go. Let's have a Wild Life Party!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

The Big Flood

Oh I think I found another 'story' to write with Morris and his toys.
In The Big Journey Morris had many toys show up at his house that were unwanted and unloved.
Morris took them all in.

Even Pete. The nasty little hedgehog that never had anything nice to say. 
Pete decides to run away. None of the other toys care because he was so annoying.
Well Morris takes his stewardship of toys rather seriously. Even the obnoxious ones.

Pete disappears just before the Big Flood [yes we actually had one]. Morris decides to go look for Pete and enlists the help of his other reluctant toys.

Meet Pete:

And so I look forward to making another fun adventure with Morris and his toys.