Karma's When I Feel Like It Blog

March 30, 2015

Black and White Challenge Day 1

About a week ago, Robin over at Breezes at Dawn, kindly invited me to participate in the Black and White Photo Challenge. As I’m sure my regular readers know, I find black and white photography difficult because, for me, photography is so very much about the color. This is part of the reason I accepted Robin’s invitation, because it would be a true challenge for me. The “rules” of the challenge are quite simple:

1.On 5 consecutive days, create a post using either a past or recent photo in black and white.
2.Each day invite another blogging friend to join in the fun.

As I’ve often been known to do when it comes to blogging challenges or photo assignments, I like to find a way to make them my own. In a couple of Robin’s posts for this challenge she used a technique that selectively colors one small area of a black and white photo. Robin explained to me this technique is actually called “focal black and white”. It is something I’ve been meaning to try for a while now, and as it often the case, just never got around to it. I had a feeling in a cool editing program like Lightroom, there had to be a way to do it. I searched, I discovered, I tried!

So, for my black and white challenge, it will actually be a “focal black and white” challenge. I’ve chosen 5 photos to present in black and white with a pop of color somewhere in the shot for emphasis and fun. I will post one photo each day this week, Monday through Friday, starting today.
As far as inviting blogging friends, just as Robin did, I am inviting anyone who would like to join in to please do so! Maybe even make yours a “focal black and white” challenge if you’re interested in giving it a try.

Here is my first photo that I tried this technique on:
lips

This is my daughter Meghan and her ballroom partner Brandon at a ballroom competition that I attended (and took LOTS of photos of and fully intended to blog about, but have yet to do so, **sigh**) last weekend. I thought the intense look on Meghan’s face with just the red lips was a good place to give this technique a try.

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January 12, 2015

Snow Day Musing

It’s a snow day today. I am bummed. This is my last week of teaching and I was hoping to be able to enjoy every last moment available to me in “my” classroom. I’m sitting here at home with about an inch of snow on the ground, nothing currently falling from the sky. Supposedly there is to be a “wintry mix” approaching late morning into afternoon, and I guess that is the reason for the cancellation – possibility of difficulties at dismissal time, but right now it feels like a waste, especially for me.

I am hoping to focus back in on photography a little more this year. I’ve been perusing photography books I own, trying to learn a bit more about using Lightroom, and contemplating whether putting my old Photoshop Elements 7 program on this computer (if I can find my disk, darn it!) would be worthwhile for other types of tweaks that might not be possible in Lightroom. Elements is up to 13 now. Anyone using that program? Looks like the upgrade (I’m assuming this is for owners of previous versions of Elements) costs around $80. Worthwhile expenditure?

I’m looking a little bit at lenses too. Considering an 85mm portrait lens. Photos with faces in them are often the most interesting, aren’t they? The lens that would fit my camera that’s kind of in my price range (but still expensive!) does not have autofocus. The Canon version with autofocus is about $180 MORE than the no autofocus one. If I decide to invest in a lens, I want it to be something I will be able to make good use of. Thoughts or opinions there?

Speaking of lenses, I received a neat little gift for Christmas.
Lenses from Photojojo
This is a set of lenses for my iPhone from Photojojo. There’s a telephoto, a wide angle and a fisheye.

To show you a little comparison, here are some shots of my birdbath out in the snow (yup, I forgot to take it in for the winter – so far it seems to be okay), taken from my dining room window
Without telephoto
tightest view available from iPhone zoom

Telephoto
Tightest with the lens attached

Without wide angle
widest view without and…

Wide angle
with the wide angle lens.

The fisheye is fun to play with!
Fisheye 1
The mess of the living room on Christmas

Fisheye 2
Christmas desserts

Fisheye 3
snowy yard

Fisheye 4
Teddy has a peek outside

August 5, 2014

A Focus on Flying Things

Today (day 47 of summer) was a stay-at-home day after our visit to Boston yesterday. I started my morning as I normally do, with a cup of coffee and visiting you out there in the blogosphere. While I did so, I heard some raucous bird-calling out in the back yard. I took my camera with me to try to investigate what might be going on. I followed the sound to the trees in the back near my shed and peered up. The sound seemed to be coming from birds like this one:
flicker or woodpecker
That bird was close to the top of the tree so that is a tightly cropped shot – not as clear as I would have liked, but enough to identify as one of two kind of similar birds. I think this is either a northern flicker or a red bellied woodpecker. This scruffy looking thing seemed to be following closely, so I am going to assume it to be a fledgling of whatever type of bird this is.
fledgeling

My day continued in a low key manner. I vacuumed the pool (not very satisfactorily by the way! Any pool owners have some good tips for vacuuming up the super fine silt-like material that gathers at the bottom of the pool and “poofs” up into the water when you approach it with the vacuum?), had lunch, finished reading one of the oddest, but interesting, books I’ve ever read (The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope, if you are interested) and enjoyed some time floating around the pool on my air mattress.

Other critters with wings that I enjoy photographing teased me and my lens this afternoon after I got out of the pool. Hummingbirds buzzed and chased at my feeder but never stayed long enough for me to focus a shot. The hummingbird moths and dragonflies, however, were a little more cooperative.

This hummingbird moth still gave me a bit of a time focusing – each time I had it in frame ready to go, it seemed to think another blossom on the butterfly bush looked better, but eventually I got this shot.
hummingbird moth

I found this friendly dragonfly face on a tomato cage in my garden.
dragonfly face
I was really impressed with what I was able to do with Lightroom to improve this shot. I was able to bring out detail that I never saw in my original photo. Normally I don’t like to show you the “less pretty” photos, but I think the difference is really something here.
IMG_1272

July 21, 2014

Drear and Cheer

Filed under: 66 Days of Summer,What's Blooming — Karma @ 9:33 am
Tags: , ,

Blog posts are starting to stack up on me here! I have photos to share for both days of the weekend but I think putting them all in one post might be a little much. Here’s my post for Saturday, day 30 of summer. I’ll write another for Sunday.

The day was overcast and a bit dreary. Motivation was low. Late in the afternoon I decided to take my unmotivated self for a walk around the yard, and I’m glad I did. Things had changed since the last time I really took a look. Different flowers and such were in bloom.
delphinium
These are what originally drew my attention outside. I saw a blur of purple that I hadn’t seen yet this year so I went to investigate. If I remember correctly, these are delphinium, part of my perennial garden in the front yard.

From that little garden, I walked along the side of my house to where my neighbor has an interesting variety of plantings. These lilies face my side of our properties.
neighbor lily
I’m not sure what kind these are but I found their color to be warm and inviting.

As you continue along the side of my yard and through the gate into the backyard, you’ll find my crazy concord grape vines. They’ve spread, with the help of birds I’m sure, from a little trellis they started on, up my house into the rain gutters and across into a bordering pine tree. At this point in the year, it is looking like it will be a plentiful grape season come September, if the birds don’t get them all first.
backyard grapes

Another flash of color caught my eye as I continued into the backyard. Do you remember when I planted bee balm for the hummingbirds a couple years ago? I was starting to wonder if that plant was yet another victim of this past harsh winter, but a few small blooms have survived.
bee balm

It is the time of the year for day lilies too. The bright orange of these flowers can be cheerful on the dreariest of days.
daylily

Well, I’ve finished my morning coffee, visited new blog posts from many of you, and enjoyed editing these flower photos in my Lightroom program. They seemed like the perfect shots for playing around with editing. I’ve got more to post about with Sunday’s little adventures – I’ll return later today with that post.

February 18, 2014

A Breath of Spring in the Snow

It is snowing once again here in Massachusetts. We are getting snow-weary and cabin-fevery. This morning as I wandered the house looking for possible objects as the subjects of my photo hunt, fluttering movement caught my eye out in the back yard.

With the snow gently drifting all around them, (the morning after the Great Backyard Bird Count was completed!) I spotted flashes of red in the trees near the back of my yard.

Robins

About a dozen robins were happily singing and cavorting in the snow. The sound of their cheery song in the middle of February brought thoughts that maybe spring isn’t so very far away.

This mourning dove, however, seemed to have other thoughts, all puffed up against the cold.
Mourning dove

February 15, 2014

Three Little Birds

It is time once again for the Great Backyard Bird Count.  It isn’t too late to get involved if you are interested.  Click here for more information. I’m participating again this year. So far I’ve identified 12 different species at my front yard feeder. I managed to get a few photos of some of the birds I’ve seen so far, and I experimented with editing them in my new Lightroom program. I’ve only managed to do some very basic edits, but I’m pleased with the quality of the color and light. I think I was able to keep a very natural look to the photos.

carolina wren
Carolina Wren (of “Jimmy and Judy” fame)

northern cardinal
Northern Cardinal

American goldfinch 1
American Goldfinch

January 3, 2014

New Snow, New Things

Filed under: Joy — Karma @ 9:23 am
Tags: , , , , , , ,

It is snow day number two of the 2013-14 school year. We were supposed to head back to school from the holiday break yesterday, January 2nd, but the timing of slow-paced winter storm Hercules conspired to extend our break by two days. Normally I prefer to go to school and get out earlier in June, but for these couple days I like staying home. It just feels like an uninterrupted vacation. Since the hubbub of Christmas has passed, I’m enjoying the lazy morning routine of breakfast and coffee at the computer. I’m exercising without worrying about what time I have to get a meal on the table. When she’s actually home, I’m enjoying Meghan’s company (her break from school lasts another week). For day 3 of the new year, that’s a good amount of enjoying so far.

The winter storm that caused these extra days off really has not been that bad. I’m guessing there is somewhere in the ball park of 6 inches out there.
backyard view

It is frigidly cold so the snow is very light and fluffy.
brrrrr

The leaves of the rhododendron-azalea have been curled tight.
cold rhododendron

As much as Teddy would love for me to come outside and play, it is a bit too cold for me to want to venture out.
collie profile with snow

I’ve been puttering inside, with some new things to puzzle out.

As some of you know, we purchased a new lap top to replace our slowly dying 5-year-old one a few days ago. I love the quick responsiveness of this new machine, but I’m also having to learn the ways of Windows 8. It hasn’t been too bad so far, but some things have surprised me. Some things are not as intuitive or automatic as I would have expected them to be. After owning a Kindle Fire for the last year and as a new iPhone 5 user, I feel like everything should be so easy to navigate!
New things

Another new thing in that photo is Adobe Lightroom 5 – new photo editing software I was given for Christmas. I know absolutely nothing about Lightroom. If anyone knows some good resources you would like to point me in the direction of, please do so. I’m thinking I may purchase Scott Kelby’s book about it – he has been an excellent resource in the past.

I’m still trying to decide about a new theme for this blog as well. Would you share your opinions with me about how it looks to you? I’m not as crazy about this theme on my new 17″ screen, and I’ve had it for a while now anyway. Maybe it is time for another change! If you are so inclined, tell me in the comments what size computer screen or mobile device you usually do your blog reading on, and whether there is a lot of visible empty space on this blog.

Changes and joy – they continue!