Sunday, November 30, 2008

Family fun Saturday night.

17 family members spent Thanksgiving with us. We rented two residences to house everyone. My sisters Leila and Ginny and their husbands, Dennis and Walid, stayed with Ray and me. Don and Colleen SHER (congrats to my brother and Colleen on ending their 30 year non married relationship by secretly getting married earlier this month), Jessica, Lena, Lane and Nicole stayed in a nearby rented condo and Brett, Match, Ramsey, Josh, and Dean stayed in another rented home.

Saturday night the boys made us dinner in their rented home.

After the football game and some great bbq'd steaks (thanks Ramsey), baked potatoes (thanks Lane) and a tasty Lebanese salad made by Walid, Jessica and Leila (daughter and Mother) started dancing to music and the pants wetting laughter began.

My sister suggested I dance (I can't dance) and I did (kinda). I was laughing so hard I kept wetting my pants (that's why my hand kept going down between my legs.)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

My sponsor - Debbie

My sponsor, Debbie, dressed up as Marilyn Monroe, while her good friend Rita dressed as Rita Hayworth for Clancy's 50th birthday party.

I don't know how regular I will be with posts this week as I'm planning for my family's arrival this Thanksgiving. They will be staying here in the desert until Sunday. Can't wait. My son Lane and his girlfriend Nicole are arriving late Wednesday night and my stepson, Ray's son, Josh is on leave from the Navy and will arrive sometime Wednesday too. There will be 17 out of 18 of us on my side of the family meeting here together for Thanksgiving. I know my parents looking down on us from above will be very happy, as they always wanted us as a family to stay connected and see each other at least once a year. Thank you Mom and Dad for the charmed life I have.

I have a lot to be thankful for. Thank you to all of you who follow this blog. I'm grateful for you. I enjoy your comments on this site and in person.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Finding your peak working hours October 21, 2008. Posted in: Creative Work, Productivity, Writing

hmmmmm. Get up at 3am? I don't know about that. But I do know I like the morning hours when the house is still.

I'm going to start doing "morning pages" again. The morning pages idea comes from Julia Cameron and her book The Artist's Way. Here, I did a google search and found a wonderful description of "morning pages":

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Monday, November 17, 2008

4:15pm break at Brookstone.

Ray and I were waiting while a Fix It place was replacing my backpacking watch battery. So during the 20 minute wait I joined Ray who had found this massage chair next door. It was a no brainer. I sat down. The sales person set me up. He had the $1500 chair and I was in the $4000 chair. Why did his massage look better than mine felt?

A couple entered the store and cracked up when they saw us dreamily enjoying our chair massages. Since the couple opened up conversation, I didn't hesitate to ask the man to take our photo.

Incredible talent

My morning meditation routine is to read blogs of note on
After watching this video I feel cheated in the "talents given out" department.
Both this video clip and the video below come from

Incredible talent

Posted using ShareThis


And this blog really got my attention leaving me feeling very sad.

Posted using ShareThis

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The first blogger I ever read.

The link below takes you to a woman blogger I followed religiously for many years. And then all of a sudden she stopped maintaining her blog. Tonight I happened upon an old link to her blog and low and behold found she is back blogging again.

In an old computer folder I found a file document I'd saved from a "Challenge" assignment Tee Poole (then named Tonya) had posted. I followed her suggestion and wrote on the assignment and had such an amazing awareness from my own writing, I gave the assignment to my sponsees. Here is the intro I included with the Scratch Off Tournament:

Before Tonya stopped keeping her daily blog, I read every entry she wrote. I luckily happened upon Tonya’s blog about 4 years ago. She was my mentor. A day didn’t go by without racing to read her blog. Her writing and photography speak to my heart. I was very sad when she stopped blogging earlier this year. Tonya had/has an incredible following as evidenced by the 33 comments in response to her challenge below.

This blog entry below provided an evening’s entertainment for about 16 of us when I gave this assignment out and then we all met and read what we scratched off, how it made us feel and what we got out of doing the assignment. Try it. You’ll be surprised how good you’ll feel. I’d love to hear about your experience.

December 17, 2004

The living scratch-off tournament

Today, I challenge each of you to unload something substantial in your lives.

Whether it be a major life decision you've been putting off, something unpleasant but necessary you've been avoiding for awhile, getting something heavy off your chest, off your mind, ridding yourself of extra negative baggage, saying something that's been on the tip of your tongue for a long time, confronting something, removing something, completing something, beginning something, ending something. Even down to just knocking a heavy to-do list item from your list that's somehow managed to transfer from day.. to day.. to day... for weeks or months now, and never gets addressed.

All of these things put weight on our shoulders. They take up precious mental real estate and put lots of psychic yardage between ourselves and the things we WANT to be doing, experiencing, thinking about. Which results in the negative loops we have so much trouble digging out of.

So go rid yourself of something, and then come back here and tell us about it. In fact, I want this for you (and me) so much that I won't be posting another word here until I've got at least 25 responses in comments. Even if it takes all weekend, or the rest of next week. Or longer. Share this with your friends/family/readers too, you can direct them here if you like so they can share their own.

What can you rid yourself of?

You're ready. GO.

Posted by tonya at 11:04 AM | Comments (33)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Walk Around the Block after am Xizer class.

I walk home from the Xizer class at the fitness center here. I look for photo ops. The light is beautiful at 7:30am but everything looks the same here in Mission Hills CC. So I'm forced to look for the shot within what I'm looking at. Not something I'm good at, but I want to get better. Cupcake had told me when he was in school one of his photo assignments was to take a photo every 10 steps. Hmmmm. Some day I will try this but not on Thursday mornings when I need to get home to prepare for heading into LA around noon.

This mornings' best picks. Other shots I liked, but haven't posted, were out of focus. They don't look out of focus to me until I look at them in an actual size view option in Photoshop.
This top shot is soft (out of focus).

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Linda, "Go look at the moon out front."

Ray had just returned from Trader Joe's, when he told me to go outside and look at the beautiful moonrise, still rather low in the sky. I went out with my Canon 40D and tripod to see if I could for once capture the moon with some detail as opposed to capturing it all blown out and overexposed as I usually do.

Not only is exposure a problem for me, but the moon and clouds are always moving even though I can't really see the movement. So I tried to shoot with the fastest shutter speed I could and still have the moon exposed correctly for detail. While in Mammoth trying to shoot the moon, I got frustrated and gave up. But last night I actually got some detail in the moon with the 28 to 200mm lens I was using.

I'd read that shooting the moon when it is closest to the horizon line (rising or setting) helps in generating a sharper image. By the time I finally fiddled around with all my equipment, the moon was much higher in the sky.

Color over Mt San Jacinto.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A very proud Grandma.

Joanna's daughter Heather is doing great. Joanna's daughter Heather delivered her 7 pound 6.9 oz, 19 inch long beautiful boy, yesterday, November 10th at 6:56pm. Isn't Leo the cutest baby? And look at Grandma. I've never seen such unspoken love in the way Joanna is looking at and holding Leo.
(photo sent to me by Joanna)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Sunday wedding.

Our golf pro here at Mission Hills CC got married Sunday. Jim was so happy. Here is a photo of Ray and Jim.

At the reception, I knew no one. I felt weird. Ray started to feel sick and was in the bathroom. I didn't know what to do with myself as all these way too young "beautiful" people were joyously mixing and mingling with each other. Then I remembered Katie telling me her friend Kenny would be playing at a wedding at Mission Hills CC. I went over to some band players beginning to set up and asked if there was a band player named Kenny here. They said, "Yes." They pointed me in the direction of where Kenny was playing the piano for the wedding guests.
Ahhhh. I felt ok when I saw Kenny seated at the piano, looking so professional and very handsome. (I later learned that Tami had cut his hair the day before.) Kenny looked great. Below is a black and white photo of Kenny at the piano. (I turned this color photo into a black and white as the color photo had too much noise since I had forgotten to turn the ISO back from 800 where I had turned it to shoot photos earlier in the dark church.)

Below is a 3 minute video of Kenny playing.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

A link to select photos of all the students' work from our last online class.

Our online class is over. What's going to keep me honest in my pursuit of learning photography?
Hopefully this blog.

Here is a portion of an email I just received from our photo teacher:

It's been a wonderful ride, being with you the past two months. I've
created an online gallery of your work which you can see here:

Your work looks good. And I think you're going to be amazed at how
professional your photos look in the gallery.

If you visit this gallery, and you click on a photo the student's name appears in the URL.

Friday, November 7, 2008

6th and last online class assignment Critique: Walk around the Block.

1 CRITIQUE: Linda Jeffers
Walk Around the Block

For a photo in which it appears
you did a lot of things "wrong,"
this looks pretty good! :-)
The lighting is bright and sunny,
which is not surprising for the
desert, but it appears early/late
enough in the day that it's not
overwhelmingly bright. There are
long shadows that make things
interesting rather than having the
sun straight up, creating a
shadow-free zone.
The horizon line is centered, dividing your picture in half. Normally this isn't the best choice for
us, since putting the horizon line dead center tends to create a static composition, where our
eyes go right to the center of the frame and aren't encouraged to go elsewhere. What you did to
create a composition with movement to it (versus a static composition) was put the willow tree
off to the far right, have it close, and have it create a sort of frame through which we look at the
scene. So yes, our eye goes to the middle of the photo (where the light-colored building can be
seen off in the distance), but then the tree moves our eye over toward the right; the overhanging
branches then encourage our eye upward and over toward the left, as does the water in the pond.
What also creates interest and movement in your photo are the reflections of the tall palm trees
in the water. Without those trees, we'd have just a blank expanse of water. The shadows create
up-down movement as well as texture. The only thing that's definitely not working for you is
that green wooden stick coming up from the bottom of the frame. If you were to make a print of
this photo, I'd definitely clone it (and its reflection) out of the shot.
You created a very good shot despite challenging lighting. Well done.


You come close to greatness with this picture. First of all, let me commend you for spotting it to
begin with. And then let me commend you for exposing it as beautifully as you did. What's killing it is the land/rock in the lower
right corner. Heavy sigh. The rest of
your photo is fantastic. Here's why.
Moody, dramatic lighting. The dark
sculpture, the dark trees reflected in the
water, the deep blue of the water, the
golden glow in the upper right corner,
and the way the sculpture is sidelighted
— absolutely wonderful.
The earring. The way you seem to have
metered off the brightly colored earring
is great. As a result, it's properly
exposed while everything else goes
dark. And that's the perfect effect for
this picture. The way the earring echoes
the golden tones upper right is superb.
Without the earring, your photo would
still be good. But WITH the earring, it's
cranked up a notch and becomes quite
mysterious and artistic.
The complementary colors of blue and
orange create a lot of drama.
And finally the angles of the sculpture as it swings into the photo create lots of movement and
encourage our eye to move along with those angles, running on a diagonal from lower left to
upper right. Wonderful.
If only there had been more blue water where that bit of land is on the right. Not only would
your sculpture stand out even more than it does, but it would simplify your photo considerably,
thereby creating more drama and tying everything together. The land blocks up the picture and
interrupts the feeling of movement. Alas.
Still, you handled the shooting challenges incredibly well and composed the photo perhaps as
well as you could given what you had to work with. It's easy for me to say "lose the land" when
I wasn't there to see what you had to deal with. In a perfect world there'd be nothing but
glorious water and reflections behind this sculpture. Ah well. You should still be pleased.

3 SPRINKLER RAINBOW (I lost this photo when my computer crashed. It wasn't great anyway. Imagine a shot from the condo looking at the sprinklers watering the grass of the 15th fairway creating a rainbow in the water from the early morning sun hitting the water. Beyond the fairway is the lake, then far away condos that Carol refers to in her critique, then palm trees and San Jacinto.)

It's these little miracles of light that, to me, make photography so
rewarding at times. Your rainbow is very pretty and I like the overall
scene. Your greens are good, the water's a good color blue, and I like
the strong shadows you've got in among the trees as well as stretching
across the green in front of us.

What's not working for you are
the brightly lighted houses and
mountains across the way. When
the picture first comes up, my eye
goes immediately to the lightcolored
houses and then up to the
background mountains. Only then
do I return to the rainbow. But
you took the photo BECAUSE of
the rainbow, and to have it
become the third-strongest
element in the photo means it
doesn't quite work.
What could you have done
differently? Probably nothing! It
would have been great to maybe have nothing but trees across the way, or an expanse of
something really dark so that the rainbow would stand out very colorfully and strongly. So is
there a way in Photoshop that you could achieve this same look? Is there a way that you could
create a second layer and, on that second layer, darken down the mountains and darken down
the houses? I'm sure there is, but would it really be worth your time? Nah, I don't think so.
Luckily, there will always be more rainbows in your life. :-)
Thanks, Linda, for posting these shots. Your sculpture photo is by far the best of the bunch. It
might even be worth a re-do sometime to see if you can change your shooting angle somewhat
to get rid of that little piece of land on the right. The lighted earring? Brilliant.
Carol Leigh
November 7, 2008

In an email I wrote back to Carol:

Thanks for being so kind Carol. I was really afraid you were going to rip me a “new one”. I didn’t spend much time on taking these photos and regret that.

I love your around the block photos. Thanks for sharing them. Wish I’d seen them before though. I need help on ideas. I’m not very creative…..YET!

Great online class. You are the best teacher!


Then Carol wrote back to me:
You know what? I don't really care if your photos are bad (well, I
sort of do, but bear with me). What I really care about is that YOU
know your photos are bad! Knowing when your pictures are less than
wonderful is a HUGE step in our photographic process. Sure, our
friends, our parents, etc. are going to tell us we're wonderful, but
WE really need to know, down deep in ourselves, when our stuff's good
and when it ain't. And that comes with practice and with comparing our
work with excellent photography.

I could tell that you were rushed with the golf course shots . . .
Maybe you should take up butterfly photography -- you seemed to do
really well with that! :-)

Carol Leigh

In order to understand Carol's reference to my taking up butterfly photography, there was a mixup. Carol thought she was critiquing my Around the Block photos when in fact they were another student's Around the Block assignment containing a butterfly photo!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

We're five, we're five. We're big girls now we're five.

I know this is gross but I felt it was only fair I post Stacy's photos of me in the bathroom at the Getty. I was sitting there totally relaxed, blowing my nose, when Stacy's camera and flash appeared under the stall partition and took me by surprise.

Stacy got this shot of me during our camera war. We hurt from how hard and long we laughed during this child play.

Just before leaving the Getty Museum I took this video with my blog in mind. Enjoy.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

We had so much fun, we're going back next the Getty that is, not In and Out.

We didn't make it very far after leaving Palm Springs before we had to stop for lunch. Much laughter was had while Sandi and Stacy were obssessively trying to search cell phones for the closest In and Out.
Stacy, Sandi and Linda

This my was retaliation shot, after Stacy surprised me when her camera flash went off under the divider to my bathroom stall while I was sitting on the toilet, pants down, blowing my nose.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Santa Fe Workshop photos now have comments from my teacher.

I have inserted comments I recently received from my teacher for the Santa Fe Workshop photos I had posted previously. Here is the blog page link to view the comments: After clicking on this link, scroll down to the blog entry dated September 28, 2008.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Going to the Getty tomorrow before the Baby Meeting.

Sandi, Stacy and I are headed in to the 1st Tuesday Baby Meeting tomorrow morning, earlier than usual, so we can visit the Getty Museum for about 3 hours.
I'm excited about seeing this exhibition in particular:
Dialogue among Giants: Carleton Watkins and the Rise of Photography in California
October 14, 2008–March 1, 2009

Hopefully I'll get to take some photos of the landscape and architecture too.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

5th Class Assignment Critique - Red, White, Blue

CRITIQUE: Linda Jeffers
Red, White, and Blue
You took something rather mundane, Linda, and
created a little jewel, which is kind of the point
of all my online classes -- look around you, find
something, and compose it as best you can. In
this case, you isolated a part of a boat and filled
your frame with strong lines and bright color.
What was working against you (and I know,
because I was there) was harsh sunlight. From
the shadows it looks as though the sun was pretty
high in the sky, which is traditionally a tough
time for us to be
shooting. But in this case,
the bright sunlight and
the angle of the sun
created a relatively bold
shadow under the blue
crosspiece, which adds to
your composition in that
it echoes the stripe of
black paint in the lower
third of your picture.
Your shadow is dark
enough to be bold, yet light enough so that we still see the boat detail within it.
I like how you offset the vertical piece of wood -- it's over in the left third of the frame rather
than being centered. Nothing wrong with centering it, which would give a feeling of symmetry,
but I also like this offset look.
A large challenge here was metering. The lightest part of the image is the bit of white on the
right side. If your camera meters for the blue or for the left side of the boat, that bit of white on
the right is going to be very overexposed. I think that you came very close to having that
happen, but nope, we can still see some detail in the white, so all's well. Good shot.


Ha! "I don't know anything about
ART, but I know it when I see it!"
This is a good example of red/
white/blue, with your clean, crisp
colors. But what happened here is
exactly what I was talking about
in your previous shot. Your
"ART" is perfectly exposed. But
because the red paint is darker
than the foreground mooring
lines, your camera exposed for
the dark red and the mooring lines
are blown out, way overexposed.
This happens to us all the time. Luckily, since most of us are shooting with digital cameras and
we have access to histograms and LCD screens that blink when we overexpose, we have superb
tools now at our disposal that we film shooters never dreamed of.
I know you know this, but it bears repeating. Whenever we encounter bright, sunny situations
and a lot of light colors, it behooves us to check our histogram after every shot. I've got my
camera set so that when I click the shutter, the histogram automatically comes up. I rarely look
at the image on my LCD screen, but I try to always check the histogram. If the graph is
touching the right side (the light side) of the histogram, I know I've overexposed. If I see
blinkies here and there -- huge clue that I've overexposed. And then the solution is to use my
exposure compensation dial and take another shot, this time perhaps 1/3 or 2/3 stop under (-1/3,
-2/3). Check the histogram. No blinkies? The graph is backing away from the right? Then I'm
good to go. Oops, don't forget to set my exposure compensation dial back to 0.


I can see why you were attracted to this, and I
think I might have taken photos of this same
reflection. I, too, was taken by the red, white,
and blue colors. Did we succeed? I'm not
super-pleased with mine, and, in a second, I'll
go find the shot, prep it, and will include it
here so you can see . . .
The tough part about photographing this
reflection was that first of all, it was
constantly in motion. So to try to focus AND
come up with a dynamic composition was the
real challenge. It was frustrating to focus on
what I thought looked good, only to have it
shape-shift away and lose the focus as well as
the design.
(I couldn't copy and upload Carol's shots she used as an example. Sorry.)
Well, no, my
photo is not of
the same
reflection as
yours. But it’s
still bad, as you
can see below.
Yes, the colors
are good, but
where’s the
design? Where’s
the line? Why
did I put the red
thing right in the middle? And, importantly,
why did I keep the darn thing? :-)
Regarding your photo, there are two things
working against it. The first is the overall
dullness of the colors and the water. The red and the
blue is very good; the white is more of a cream and the
overall water looks sort of beige. This can be lightened
and brightened in Photoshop with relative ease.
But the other thing that's not working is that there's no
real pattern nor design, no focal point, no place where
we begin and end our visual journey around the frame.
As a result, we just sort of want to move on.
So, what's the difference between an abstract reflection
that doesn't work and one that does? I added a second
reflection shot of mine (below) that I like because the
reflections are bold and crisp, but there’s also a sort of
blocky design that I like — red lower left, dark block to
the right, darker block upper right, and lighter block
upper left. To emphasize this blocky look, I should crop
in from the left, getting rid of the blue color, as you can
see in the very bottom photo.
Thanks for posting these — very much appreciated.
Carol Leigh
November 1, 2008
Here I adjusted Levels in
Photoshop . . . (Again, sorry about not being able to show/upload Carol's example.)

In response to Carol's critique, I sent the following email to her:

Wow Carol. Did I get a lot from your critique.

First of all in my second shot “ART”, you are correct, I do know how to look at the histogram, but haven’t been looking at it I’ve been so concerned with focus. I forgot
Secondly, I never even noticed the mooring lines being overblown! Hmmm. Don’t know where I was while prepping this photo.

And the 3rd shot of the color in the water, I looked for a design, a pattern etc and knew the composition was lacking something. I tried cropping this way and that but never felt anything looked right. So I see I need asking these questions you posed and posted on my critique using your photo as an example: “Yes, the colors
are good, but
where’s the
design? Where’s
the line? Why
did I put the red
thing right in the middle? “

I remember you repeatedly saying to take time, slow down (in Santa Fe). I think my new rule before taking a shot is to keep looking and asking myself questions before I ever take the shot. A little restraint. Yes, restraint has worked in other areas of my life big time, so why not in photography.

It was interesting yesterday. I hadn’t lately taken any photos for my Daily blog. The cloud formations and backlighting on the clouds over the San Jacinto mountains was breathtaking. I went out and shot off a few photos without thought before a phone call interrupted me and then the light had gone. The phone call was about possibly going to the Getty Museum to see a photography exhibit. So I went online and found an example of some of the photos at the exhibit. Here is the link to the blog photos I posted of the clouds I took on 11/1 …and the questions I asked myself secretly about why this guy’s cloud photo is featured in a photo show at the Getty. The “guy” is Alfred Stieglitz!!!!
Now I see there is no pattern to my cloud composition. That’s what had been bothering me. I hadn’t stopped to think about the composition. I liked the lighting but didn’t go further.

Long story short, you helped me answer a big question not only with the photos you critiqued but with why I initially began taking classes……..TO SEE! And I can’t see if I’m not slowed down enough to ask myself: What am I seeing, does it have design value or am I doing what I’ve done my entire life….recording/taking the photo for memory sake.

I think I may have had a mini psychic change. I hope so.

Thanks Carol. You always get me seeing, a little more, what I can’t see.


A couple hours later I received this email response to my email from Carol:

You know what's interesting, Linda, is that when you signed up for
your very first online class and you gave me your website address, I
could tell IMMEDIATELY from your pictures that you needed to slow
down, to take a deep breath and think before clicking the shutter.
Knowing that when I did, so early in the game, I feel I've been remiss
in not pointing it out to you often enough throughout the online
classes and in the two in-the-field workshops you've taken. Better
late than never, I guess, but yeah, I can remember the "this woman
needs to slow down" flash going through my brain from the very beginning.

This doesn't just apply to you, however. We ALL need to slow down and
think before we shoot. Why are we taking this shot? What do we like
about the scene? What's the light doing? Are there weird things in the
background? Are there ugly hot spots that will ruin the picture?
Where's the movement in this scene? Am I including too much? Not
enough? Would this be better as a vertical? What's my ISO? Is my
exposure compensation dial accidentally still set to 3 stops
underexposed from the last shot? And much, much, more . . . Sometimes
I'm amazed we ever get around to clicking the shutter!

Carol Leigh

I'm still taken back by how much Carol opened my eyes to how my character/personality traits are everywhere, even in my photos. I feel like I'm wearing a new pair of glasses today. This is Good!