A good day for a walk

I enjoyed an energizing walk in the Holden Arboretum this afternoon. Sunny blue skies made it all the more enjoyable, and the company of a good friend was even better…especially a friend who didn’t mind my frequent digital (photo) digressions. The highlight of the photo walk was spotting a few new signs of spring, but there was also plenty of mud and some snow lingering in a few shaded areas. Spring isn’t here yet, but it’s on the way. It’s always a late arrival here on the south shore of Lake Erie, but the lake didn’t freeze over this winter, so maybe we’ll see spring sooner rather than later. I don’t think I will hold my breath though.

Thanks for stopping by today. I hope you enjoyed the walk in the arboretum.

Bird watching

My photo walk this morning turned out to be a bird walk. All the photo opps that presented themselves were birds, and they were real “posers”, as in posing for the camera. It was a great morning for a walk: some filtered sunshine, no wind, and relatively mild temperatures for February….somewhere approaching 40 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s a good thing I took my walk early, however, because, by mid-afternoon when I went grocery shopping, the wind had picked up and the sun was AWOL. So let’s take a little bird walk, shall we? You won’t even need your coat or binoculars. Just enjoy the beauty of our feathered friends.

The blue jay, usually camera shy, posed long enough for me to capture two good pictures:

Blue jay
Blue jay


The black-capped chickadee is never camera shy. Put down a few peanuts, and he zips right into camera range.


Can you believe those spindly legs can hold him up?

Black capped chickadee
Black capped chickadee

And my favorite for the day: the downy woodpecker. His antics are comical to watch as he lands on the bench and waddles (Truly, he waddles) down the back of the bench until he reaches the peanuts. Here he paused in mid-waddle long enough for me to snap off a few shots. This one was the best of the bunch.
Woodpeckers are much more adept at flying and drilling holes in trees than they are at walking, but they get where they want to go, and this little fellow got his peanuts.

That’s the end of the bird walk for today. I saw more, but these were the pick of the lot. I hope you enjoyed them. If you’re wondering where the deer are today, I was wondering too. Yesterday they were all over the place. Today I didn’t see a single deer. You just never know what you might encounter on a walk in the woods.

Thanks for visiting the south shore of Lake Erie today. See you soon.
~Carolyn aka Skip

I couldn’t resist…

I saw two cute little bichons in the park…dressed to the “nines”, and I couldn’t resist snapping a few pictures of them in their handmade, velcro fastened “coat of many colors”. I hope they make you smile.

But the view from the rear was the cutest by far!

Thanks for stopping by my corner of Ohio today. See you again soon.

Carolyn aka Skip

So much beauty, so little time!

I don’t have much blogging time tonight, so any extensive writing is going to have to wait for another day, and I will limit today’s post to mostly pictures. The sun was shining this morning, replacing yesterday’s grey skies. I was surrounded by beauty on my morning photo walk, and I am excited to be able to share some sunny, but snowy, landscapes (along with one bird). In my last post, I wrote about setting the bar (i.e. my standards) high. That’s what I tried to do when I chose these pictures, so I hope you enjoy the scenery.

Thanks for visiting my corner of Ohio today.
~Carolyn aka Skip

And now for the bird: a northern cardinal, the state bird of Ohio and a few other states too…

Raising the bar

In two recent posts, I have written about the steps I am taking to try to improve my photography…one of my personal challenges for the year 2012. The steps include…

  • Purging my computer files of dross (and there is a great deal of dross)
  • Organizing the remaining photos, using Lightroom’s collections, smart collections, and keywords
  • Improving the quality of my collection as I go forward, i.e. raising the bar

The third one is what I would like to talk about today. If you, as a photographer, are already completely satisfied with the quality of your portfolio, feel free to ignore the next portion of this blog post and go straight to the end to see the pictures I took on my photowalk today. On the other hand, if you are, like I am, an enthusiastic amateur photographer with a desire to take better pictures, read on. Then, if you want to share your ideas on the topic, click on comment and tell us what you think.

Taking some photography classes at our local community college is on my photographic bucket list. It’s a “One of these days I’m gonna do it” kind of thing…one of these days, but not yet. Meanwhile, I am on my own, and step-by-step I am learning how to take better pictures. Being a reader, my first step was to turn to some books by experienced professional photographers whose skill at taking pictures is equaled by the skill of explaining their techniques to amateurs like me. I have a good-sized collection of books, but my favorites and the ones I strongly recommend are anything written by Brian Peterson (Understanding Exposure, Understanding Shutter Speed, etc) and Scott Kelby’s very readable Digital Photography Boxed Set, volumes 1,2, and 3, and, for Adobe Lightroom users, Kelby’s book The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom3 book for digital photographers. Read what they say, study their techniques, and experiment. That’s pretty much my mantra.

My most recent approach has been to change my post-processing work flow. That came about when I began using Lightroom. Now, as much as I am learning to love Lightroom, I’m not suggesting that everyone has to plunk down the greenbacks to buy the program (or ask for it for Christmas, which is what I did). Any good photo editing program will probably do the trick, and if you have one you already know and like, that’s all the better. All you need to do is examine your work flow to see how you can make it more efficient and effective for you.

However, this post is already getting a little long, so I will hold off on detailing the work flow that works for me until my next post. Meanwhile, here are a few pictures I took today. In keeping with my intent to raise the bar, I narrowed down the images I downloaded from my camera to these six that made me the most satisfied and happy that I left my cozy computer room, piled on the jacket, hat, sweater, gloves, and boot, stuck handwarmers in my pocket and headed out to shiver in the snow and sub-freezing temperature (somewhere around 20 degrees Fahrenheit, minus whatever the wind chill factor was). Being a photographer yourself, I’m sure you get the picture. Enjoy the slide show and thanks for visiting me on the south shore of Lake Erie today.

See you soon.
Carolyn aka Skip

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A strange scene

Near the end of my photowalk this afternoon, I happened upon this man following some deer along the edge of the woods. The deer, normally placid animals, seemed alarmed by him and the little white dog that was walking with him. The dog was off-leash, against the park rules, and the four or five does were running away. The deer herd that makes its home in our little park is quite large, and the deer peacefully co-exist with the people and dogs who regularly share the park. That didn’t seem to be the case this afternoon however, and it puzzled me.

Finally, only one deer remained. The others had dashed into the safety of the trees. Was I imagining a threat to the deer? One thing I am sure about is the danger the fluffy little dog was in. One crack with a sharp hoof, however accidental, would have been the end of that dog. Visitors who frequent the park must learn to respect the wild animals that live there.

That’s the news from the south shore of Lake Erie today. Thanks for stopping in for a visit.

~Skip aka Carolyn

The challenge begins

My first photo opportunity for today came when I arrived at the park and walked over to the pedestrian bridge to see if there was any action on the river. I can’t tell you how grateful I am that the fisherman standing right beneath the bridge was wearing a bright red hat. How did he know I needed a little color on this very dull day? Serendipity! I’ll share a few more photos at the end of this post, but first I want to pick up the threads of the story I began yesterday…so this will be photographic challenge, part II. If you are not interested in reading about how I am getting control of my photo collection, just skip down to the pictures at the end of the post. Go ahead; I won’t mind if you do. I’m really only writing about it because it’s part of the process for me and maybe one or two readers out there might find it helpful. If that’s not you, and you could care less, just stop reading now and move on to the pictures. I won’t be offended…honest!

To recap, my challenge involves…

1.Purging my vast collecting so that what’s left on my computer is the stuff that really matters to me and/or the stuff that I consider portfolio quality.
2.Getting a grip on organization, i.e. collections and keywords
3.Setting a higher standard going forward

A simple list, but a massive task. Purging my thousands of worthless photo files had to be tackled, and it became (almost) a pleasure when my husband bought me a new iMac for Christmas and my daughter Becky, her husband, and our two oldest grandchildren gifted me with Lightroom 3. Downloading LR was easy; learning how to use it was fairly challenging, but definitely a lot of fun. I could not have made a dent in the purging process without these two gifts because my computer, nine years old with an outdated operating (windows XP) was incredibly slow and overflowing with picture files with little semblance of organization. To use an old expression, it was running as slow as molasses in January. I should have tackled the task before I lost control…at least a year or so ago. Procrastination doesn’t paint a pretty picture!

So far, I have culled my files from 2010 and 2011, deleting pictures I should never have kept in the first place (and, in many instances, should never have taken). That was step one in the right direction. I have also organized them in what Lightroom calls “collections” (Other programs might call them albums or galleries)…and that’s step two. The next thing to tackle, step three, is keywords, something I didn’t appreciate until I began this process, but I’m loving them now. Keeping track of my pictures has been transformed from impossible to possible, all because of collections and keywords.

That’s it for tonight. I am beginning to ramble, so it’s time to say goodnight from my corner of Ohio. In a future post, I will share some thoughts on how I plan to set higher standards going forward, including switching the image quality setting on my camera from jpeg to raw. In the meantime, here are a few more pictures taken on today’s photowalk.

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Personal challenge, part I

Several months ago I set some personal challenges for myself in the coming year. Because I felt that my photography was getting very stale, one of my challenges was to sharpen the saw…the photographic saw, that is. I didn’t need to spend more time on my photography. I was already taking a daily photowalk and posting a blip each day at Blipfoto.com, in addition to intermittently maintaining two photography blogs. So increasing the time I spent on taking and processing pictures was more likely to blunt the teeth of the saw rather than sharpen them.

In retrospect, I decided that the problem was that I was taking too many pictures. The dullness and staleness of my vast collection of digital photographs became apparent as I scrolled through the thousands of pictures I had accumulated over the past few years. Not only was I taking a lot of pictures every day, I was hanging on to most of them, and I wasn’t very discriminating about quality. I needed to clean out my collection, keep only what mattered (after first deciding what that was), and set higher standards going forward. This has turned out to be an even bigger challenge than I anticipated. It has involved purchasing new hardware and new software, trying new techniques, and learning a new work flow. In short, a major challenge and the start of an interesting journey!

Tomorrow I will fill in some of the details of the early part of this journey, so tune in, if you are interested. Right now, I will just tell you two things that weren’t included on this journey: a new camera and/or lenses and vacation trips to exotic places where I could (without a doubt) take fabulous photographs. Neither of those was in the budget.

I will see you tomorrow, Blogmates. Meanwhile, here are a few pictures from my morning photo adventure, on which I heard a snorting sound in the shrubbery and watched as a doe dashed out, closely followed by…Well, look at the pictures, and you will see what the snorting was all about.

Ater the commotion in the underbrush, this doe dashed onto the trail in front of me. She was frantic in her haste to get away from something, but from what? As I continued to watch, this is what emerged…

As the doe fled across the trail and into the brush on the other side, the buck’s sense of urgency evaporated, and I watched for several minutes as he grazed by the side of the trail.

Apparently his mind as on food instead of females!

At that point, I was feeling a little nervous by his nearness, so I very quietly edged past and on down the trail, while he proudly claimed that patch as his!

A few feet further along, I spotted the doe hiding in the scrubby growth. “I don’t blame you for running,” I told her. “Just lay low and keep quiet!”

That was the end of my adventure for today, but I captured one more photo to top off the morning. This handsome cardinal was very pleased to pose for the camera, and isn’t he a beauty?

Apparently, adventures can be had, at least on some level, even without taking expensive trips to exotic locations.

~Carolyn aka Skip

Hit or miss blogging

The weather in northeast Ohio has been very untypical this winter. Instead of our usual snow and cold temperatures, we have been enjoying mild temperatures and very little snow. When we do get some precip, it is more likely to be rain than snow. The mild weather makes it much easier to get out and about. This week I haven’t even needed my boots. It’s not exactly tropical, but I won’t complain, and I am still getting out every day with my camera. Here are a few pictures I snapped today while I was walking in the park.

So what do I mean by the title on today’s blog entry? Well, taking pictures continues to be an every day part of my life, but blogging has become temporarily sidetracked, while I’ve been learning how to use my new iMac and Lightroom 3, both Christmas presents and both requiring a bit of a learning curve and a lot of time. I’m having plenty of fun with them though and have even mustered up the courage to start shooting in raw rather than jpeg. Lightroom makes that a pretty easy transition.

More about this transition in my photographic life at another time. It’s time to sign off for this post. Thanks for visiting my northeast corner of Ohio today. I welcome your visit and your comments. See you again very soon.

~Carolyn aka Skip

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