Friday, January 30, 2009

We spent last night at the Marriott in Woodland Hills. Over coffee in the room this morning I took out my camera and focused on Ray reading the newspaper. I snapped away and showed Ray the photos I'd taken asking him which photos he liked. "Don't put any photos of me on your blog." Well, if you would smile and look up at me, you'd like how you look in the photos better. He says, "You can't even see my eyes behind the glasses." I say you're right. Take your glasses off.

He did take his glasses off....partially. Much better photo Ray. Thanks!

Ray went to hit golf balls and I went for a walk outside the Marriott for an hour this morning. I used my fanny pack camera hoping to get a shot or two for the blog daily photo. First time I took my camera out to shoot a reflection in a tall building, a guard whistled at me. He then yelled out, No photos. That put a crimp in freedom. Further down the block I found some running water and that's what I focused on shooting. Nothing I shot looked like anything. The two photos below were the best of the lot.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Vern Clevenger, Photographer (click Vern's name to go to his website)

Sunday Ray and I went to the Southwest Art Festival in Indio. I was so happy to see Vern Clevenger there selling his photos. I went over to talk to him. I reminded him of how I met him nine years ago in the Sierra. After we talked and I had walked away, I went back to Vern's photo stall and asked if I could have my photo taken with him.

Anyone who has been to our home recognizes the photo behind me of the Sierra cottonwoods in fall color. I have this print taken by the photographer, Vern Clevenger, the man on my left.

I came to meet Vern while Tina and I were backpacking in 2000. Tina and I had just arrived at our night's campsite - Guitar Lake - stragically positioned to camp there for our early morning Mt Whitney summit at 4am in the morning.

Not long after we arrived at this campsite I noticed a family of four hiking up the trail towards us. The man, Vern, looked like he'd been in the back country for years. Vern was carrying a massive backpack. As I recall he responded, after being asked, that he was carrying around 70 lbs. That's a lot and it's really a lot at the 11,000 foot elevation of Guitar Lake. Behind Vern, was his 9 year old son carrying a small backpack the size of a day pack. Vern's wife came into view next carrying a child carrier backpack that was empty. The child was out of the backpack, behind Mom, running up the trail in her cute but very dirty dress and bare feet. The family of four was doing the JMT (John Muir Trail - 220 miles in the most beautiful section of the Sierra).

Long story short....
The kids were ecstatic when Tina and I unloaded some of our extra candy and offered it to the kids. What I didn't know until the next morning was the family was not only out of candy for the kids but were mostly out of food.

We met the Clevenger family at the top of Mt Whitney the next morning and chatted some more. It was during this talk that I found out Vern had no food. I couldn't believe he was carrying that heavy backpack up another 3000 feet with no food for energy. I'd left my backpack at Trail Pass for the summit of Mt Whitney and was only carrying a large fanny pack. I felt so sorry for Vern I gave him the food I had packed in my fanny pack to eat while luxuriating after having reached the summit.

Vern was so grateful. He took my snail mail address and not long after I arrived home I found a package delivered from Vern. He sent me a signed copy of one of his beautiful Sierra photos. Previously I had not known he was a photographer.
When Vern had a showing of his photographs in Beverly Hills a year or two later, I went and bought another 5 photos of his. That's when I bought the large photo of the cottonwoods in full fall color.

More shadow photos of me and Stacy behind while on the Bump and Grind months ago.

Me, Ray and Stacy.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Lesson #1 - Symmetry critique.

CRITIQUE: Linda Jeffers


Not sure why you named this
"difficult," Linda. If it was difficult,
you certainly did a good job with it.
Let me tell you everything you did
right . . .
Your primary challenge was depth of
field. I'm not sure how "deep" this
flower goes. It looks like a melaleuca
blossom, and sometimes they're long
like a bottlebrush or they're more
rounded but shallower. So your
decision was, how much do you want
in focus? Do you want just the tops of
the buds as they're opening in focus?
Do you want buds and red flower?
Do you want buds, red flower AND
background in focus?
Photography was much easier when we didn't know so much. When
I first began, I would have thought, "Oh, pretty flower. Click." But
no more. Now I (we) agonize over lighting, depth of field, angle of
view — it's not so simple any more. So in your case, when you were
working this flower (and now that I've seen you photograph in
person, both in Santa Fe and in Half Moon Bay), I kind of know
your thought process. So I'm guessing that yeah, you had a
challenging session with this flower.
You selected a lens aperture (f/stop) that would put the buds in
focus as well as the top "tier" of the red flower behind them. Focus
begins falling away as we move down through the flower and to the
leaves. By the time we see the very background, everything's soft.
What you've done is you've presented a flower that's extremely
sharp, where we can see how the new "tendrils"
emerge from the buds; we see the details in the
red tendrils and then all goes soft in the
background, but not so soft that we can't see a bit
of the leaves. The background is soft enough,
however, not to be distracting, and so it sets off
your flower most dramatically.
What I also like is the terrific complementary
color combination of red and green. Extra drama
as a result.
Your lighting is very soft, very subdued. And as
a result the red really pops, really seems to glow.
We're also able to see a lot of detail; nothing is
lost or obscured in dark shadows. If you'd had bright, harsh sunlight on this blossom, the look
would have been completely different.
Terrific focus. Very good lighting. Wonderful use of depth of field. Great colors. Beautifully
I'm wondering, however, about the background on the left side. You've got lots of leaves on the
right, leaves that are pretty much the same color green as the green buds on top. But then on the
left side, almost splitting the photo in half, we're seeing purplish non-leafy stuff. If your photo
is all about red/green/texture/symmetry, then "purple lines" doesn't fit in with your concept and
becomes a distraction. Had you been able to put those same leaves in the left background, I
think your picture would have even more drama than it already has.
So for this "difficult red," you handled the situation beautifully. You have no idea how
impressed I am with how you've jumped into photography with all four feet, and how much
you've learned about shooting,
your camera, and (I'm assuming)
Photoshop in just 12 months.
Major kudos to you, madam.


Holy crap! What a terrific shot! If
this is Convict Lake in the eastern
Sierra, I'm thinking it's one of the
better photos I've seen of fall
color there. If it's not, then what
do I know? :-) It's still a good
It's often tough in scenes such as
this to expose properly for
everything. Most of the scene is
relatively dark — the
background valley coming down,
the trees, the reflection, etc. And
then there are much lighter areas
such as the hillside slanting
down from the upper right
corner, the patch of whiteness on
the hillside on the left (which is
reflected in the water), and little
bits of light grey granite rock
sticking out here and there.
When we have mostly dark
surroundings such as this, we
naturally meter for them, and as
a result, anything that's much brighter can easily be overexposed and blown out. And since
those lighter areas are what our eye is drawn to first, they become major distractions. Not good.
In the case of your photograph, you handled the lighter areas well. They're not so bright that
they're annoying. The only spot I DO find distracting is the white patch on the left hillside and
its reflection in the water. I think that if this were my photo, I'd clone out both the white spot
and the white reflection.
My only other suggestion would be to straighten the photo a little bit since it looks as though it's
leaning toward the left. This might be an optical illusion, however. When I line up your horizon
line with a straight line on my monitor, your horizon line seems to be straight. But if it LOOKS
wonky in the picture, even though it's straight, I'd still rotate the picture a hair to the right to
visually dewonkify it.
Two excellent photos from you. You should be very pleased. Thank you for posting them.
Carol Leigh
January 26, 2009

(I wrote the following back to Carol Leigh.)
Thanks for your critique. You know me well. Your critique was so right on I wondered if you were hiding behind a bush watching me attempt this shot. I did have a challenging session with “Difficult Red”. I spent a very frustrating hour and a half on this one photo, racing the setting sun and hoping to get the shot I wanted before I had to leave for an evening engagement.
All camera tries were on a tripod, except the last try with my little fanny pack camera. The sun was just about to set behind Mt. San Jacinto. The sideways light on the flower was perfect. The background sucked. I moved this way and that way for a better background flower angle. When I first used the 100mm macro lens, the background was blurred and not a distraction. The background looked ok. But….the flower had too much depth for the macro lens; I couldn’t, as you mentioned, get all parts of the flower in focus enough as there were too many varying planes. The flower was about 2/3 inch deep.
I noticed I wasn’t getting what I wanted because I kept shooting some shots and then taking my card inside to view the shots on the computer. After the macro lens, I changed to a 50mm lens. Too much in focus – ugly background. I even tried a 70-300 lens and of course I had to back away too far from “Difficult Red” and that lens didn’t work. Then I thought, try my little Sony A640 fanny pack camera. This little camera is the camera I used for this shot. It gave me more depth of field, more of the flower in focus from front to back. Remember I have that rotating LCD on this little camera that I hold out away from me as I focus close up to my subjects when I shoot. So when I got back to the computer I noticed I was holding the camera out and shooting slightly down on “Difficult Red”; I wasn’t on the same shooting plane as the flower. This shooting slightly down on the subject angle changed the distance from the top of the flower to the bottom enough that the bottom of the flower was slightly out of focus.
Once I realized I had another stumbling block to getting everything in good focus, I was mad, the sun was gone and I was late for my evening plans. I sat at my computer with my head in my hands feeling very defeated, UNTIL………..this thought came to me…….Look at all you learned trying to capture this shot Linda. It even dawned on you while your head was in your hands that you weren’t shooting on the same plane as the flower. And then this thought came…..My god, you learned more about what different lens do, you learned more about depth of field, you learned more about level/angle of shooting, you learned to pay more attention to ugly backgrounds so you don’t have to spend so much time trying to make an ugly background not so ugly and you learned more about your camera and your tripod. So…..Linda be happy because whether I you got the shot you wanted or not, you got the point……You LEARNED.
I thank you Carol for these classes that make me pick up the camera when I don’t think I have time, and do what I love, learn to see through the lens of the camera. By Jove, I think I may be learning a little something.
Regarding the Sierra Lake, I had this photo labeled Convict Lake in my photo folder, but I think it was a lake north of June Lakes, named Parker Lake off 395. I noticed the white fleck in the water and started to clone it out when I realized it was a reflection of the remaining snow on the mountain. I decided to leave the snow in. But I did see it! I agree the photo would look better without it. And, I too thought the photo of the Sierra Lake looked like it was listing.
Thank you for your critique.
A happy,

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Out by the Wind Farms for an hour today.

I was out shooting around 4:17pm today and Mt. San Jacinto blocked much of the only light left. I didn't particularly like this series of wind turbine shots so I played with black and white. (My son put that thought in my head. Thanks Lane.)

I was playing with filters here.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

My new Mission Hills CC Hiking Group photo website.

I don't think I mentioned that I am now using instead of the photo site.
I post the photos I take on the hikes I lead for the Mission Hills CC hikers. Check it out. Today's hike was beautiful. We took a snack break at the Whitewater River.

I've been hounded by LR to start posting photos again. He says that photos shot off the TV don't count as practicing photography. So here are two shots I took today. I'm considering turning in one for the Straight Lines #2 Lesson due Feb 9th.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Goodbye and hello Mr. President

A couple of TV shots I took today.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Catching up with some photos from last week.

L > R Taye and Linda

Taye and I had a blast at Balboa Lake last week. I'm sure everyone thought we were somewhat retarded in our childlike exuberance. We didn't care.

Next photo session will be at the zoo, February 3rd before the Baby Meeting.
All are welcome.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Patio cactus photo after sun dropped behind the mountains.

I actually sat down for 15 minutes and generated a prioritized daily task list in my prettier than Stacy’s new 2009 Franklin Covey Planner. I am not familiar with the FC system but I do know what putting an arrow in a box next to a task means. That’s shorthand for procrastinator, avoider and overall liar.
Sorry Lane and Josh. Sorry LR. I even put an A1 by both tasks indicating their importance. I recently learned Franklin Covey planners use the 123 and ABC system for prioritizing tasks. A= more important than B etc, and 1 = more important than 2 etc. I see a pattern.

I started in on attempting to fill out the Wachovia authorization for the automated program to transfer funds between designated banks. I have been meaning to do this for months. I got to a point where I didn’t understand something. Before I knew it, after repeated phone calls and email responses, I couldn’t get back to the tasks at hand. I had started these tasks after lunch, the first free time I had today, and somehow the day slipped away. Again. I feel so ashamed and guilty. There are so many things I haven’t gotten to lately. Getting back to the pattern I see......I use answering the phone as an excuse so I don’t have to do what I find difficult to do. The problem is, I’ve used this excuse too many times on setting up the auto deducts for Lane, Josh and an auto deduct I need to set up with LR’s bank for our home account. I need to take care of these tasks for my sanity, my son’s pocketbook and trust and so Ray can pay some of our bills.

Tomorrow I've got a full day too. Then Thursday we leave to go in to LA at 8am and won’t return until 11:30 pm. So I have to find time tomorrow to get these tasks all done. Its midnight now. I haven’t written out my food to send to Xochitl, I haven’t brushed my teeth, taken my pills, or written my daily gratitude list.
I’m writing myself in to overwhelm here.

On to what was the posted photo is about. I stole 15 minutes to run out with my small camera to have a daily photo for this blog (blogging was also on my task list) before the sun set behind the mountain range. I was rushing the clock to find a photo just outside the front door. I took about 15 shots. This shot of the cactus was the best of the lot. I’m holding the camera straight above the cactus shooting down.

Off to bed. Hopefully this post will make me accountable.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

First walk outside since Monday.

I'm feeling so much better now that this cold is subsiding. On a lazy walk around Mission Hills CC this morning I decided to pay attention to photo ops, keeping in mind it was 11am and the sun was almost over head. I was taught to not take photos from 10am to 2pm, that the photos will look all washed out. I tried to use the position of the sun to spot contrast in the shadows cast on the side of houses.

I took 85 photos and didn't really get one I liked, but I'm posting 5 + 1 shots anyway. I'm trying to learn Adobe Photoshop CS4, so working on these photos was my practice for the day. I'm really hoping to spend some time each day, learning photographic software or shooting photos.

So to explain the 6th photo, I'm walking by the ninth hole tee box. I have to "gottago" and their is a woman's bathroom off to the side of the tee box. On my way out of the bathroom, I pass this table and chairs set up where the golfers might relax. No one is seated at the table. But I see something on the table. Something someone left, either intentionally or because they weren't aware they left something behind. I told you I started my hike at around 11am. It's now noon. I'm hungry. When I'm hungry, I want to eat. I am not happy when I make out what it is that has been left out on the empty table. Lollipops! I love lollipops. Lollipops don't happen to be on my current food plan. These 4 or 5 lollipops are there for the taking. No one is around. I know because I looked left and right. Hmmmmmm. Lollipops. Hmmmmmm.

And then I thought of Katya. If I ate the lollipops (eating one was never a thought) I would lose my 38!!!! days without sugar and Katya would still have her 38 days. Nope, no way is Katya going to have more days than I do.

So. I sadly walk on, only looking back once, headed home, to some yummy Turkey soup and brussel sprouts. Brussel sprouts with soup you might be thinking? Well yes. I need to have two cups of salad or veggies for lunch and the brussel sprouts were already cooked and in the fridge. Easy. Gotta keep it easy when I'm hungry. Eating is no longer fun. But eating this way has relieved my obsession for least until I found the lollipops.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

What’s cooking?

(I see I need to learn indoor lighting. Don't like those hot spots from the flash.)

Chili is cooking here at our house. Last night Jerry, Sandi’s husband, called looking for Ray. I mentioned as a teaser that I’d be cooking up some chili tomorrow. I know Jerry is probably waiting for his call today telling him to come pick up the portion of chili I always give him. Jerry loves my Chili. So does Ray. Ray just came in from golf and woofed down his bowl before driving into LA to visit with his son Josh. (Josh, on leave from the Navy, was supposed to come for a weekend visit until his cold got the best of him.)
I call this chili Gary’s Chili. Gary was my second husband. I think making Chili was the only thing Gary cooked. I loved his chili and took over making it regularly. Everybody loves Gary’s Chili.
On the Saturday hike with the MHCC hikers last week, I mentioned I was going to make chili later that afternoon. Two other hikers asked for the recipe and they made chili that night. The next day I received two emails saying, “This is the BEST chili.”
Have I got your attention yet? Do YOU want the recipe AND a picture of the chili? Well, it just so happens I am going to present you with both.

Gary’s Chili

• 2 plus pounds of ground sirloin (or any kind of ground beef)
• 1.5 green peppers diced
• 1 large brown onion - chopped small (buy another onion for later in the recipe)
• 2 large cans (not the small ones) pinto beans
• 2 large cans (not the small ones) crushed tomatoes
• Spice Island’s Chili powder (I use about an inch and a half worth from the bottle) let the chili cook and see if your preference is to add more of the powder.
• Spice Island’s cayenne pepper – just a few shakes.
• Giuliano or any Hot nacho sliced Jalapenos – I dice up about 4 slices
• Mezzetta or any kind of Hot Chili Peppers – I dice up two peppers.
• Salt to taste – I add a little salt at the beginning and add more as needed at the end.

Brown up ground sirloin in large frying pan, breaking up the clumps into real small pieces as it cooks. I drain the cooking meat into a colander placed in the sink when too much liquid/fat accumulates in the frying pan. Return meat to frying pan and add chopped onions and diced green peppers and continue cooking all until meat is all cooked.
In large Dutch oven pot empty the 2 cans of pinto beans, 2 cans of crushed tomatoes, chili powder, cayenne pepper, diced jalapeno and chili peppers, and salt.
Add cooked browned ground sirloin, onion, green pepper mixture to the large Dutch oven pot and mix everything together well.
Bring pot of chili to a boil, stirring often to prevent chili from sticking on bottom of the pot and burning (like I have done a couple of times.)
Reduce heat to a simmer for a couple of hours, remembering to stir during the cooking.

After chili is cooked, Ray and I like to add the following to our bowls of chili:
• Finely chopped raw onion
• Shredded cheddar cheese
Also good on top is:
• Sour cream
• Cubed avocado

Ok, now it’s your turn to share one of your favorite recipes!

Friday, January 9, 2009

My courageous friend.

Photo of Debbie dancing at the 2nd Quinnenial Legacy Weekend.

What a beautiful blog Debbie is writing documenting her thoughts, feelings, fears and actions during this terribly hard time in her life. Debbie, is one of my sponsor Debbie's sponsees.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Franklin Covey Store Slip

Last Tuesday we planned an excursion on our Baby Meeting Day. You can't believe, or maybe you can, how much fun we had shopping for our new 2009 Franklin Covey organizers. The adrenalin rush was amazing. Not that I ever did the work in school, but I remember the rush when I'd buy a new school 3 ring notebook each semester. Our shopping slip in the Franklin Covey store produced lots of satisfaction and joy. Now I have the prettiest and most perfect 2009 Organizer. It doesn't take much to make me happy.

L - R Stacy, Linda, Margaret, and Sandi.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

I've changed my mind.

I lied. I’ve changed my mind. I am not going to be posting a photo a day as I stated on January 1st. Actually, I don’t know when I’ll post the next photo. How’s that? My life is so full (that’s short for unmanageable) I’m running from one thing to the next. I don’t have a job, don’t have children, and I can’t get done what’s already on my plate each day. I don’t get it. I’ve never tended to as many tasks as I do each day yet my to-do list increases by 3 or 4 new tasks by the end of the day.
I don’t want to just fit in taking a photo. I want taking photos to be a want to, not have to. Right now I haven’t a clue how to find dedicated camera time or dedicated anytime for myself. So I am scratching taking the photo a day Ideal off my New Year Ideal’s list. There. That feels much better.
I like being able to change my mind.
Now the question is how I start eliminating all the other unnecessary tasks I daily generate for myself?
Take tonight. I went to my GSR District meeting, quite clear that if I was asked to fill an open position I was going to say no. As the Secretary was going down the agenda she started asking people if they’d be willing to take on some of the long standing, unfilled, open service commitments. No one was offering to Chair any of these service commitments. I couldn’t believe people could just sit there without guilt and comfortably allow the silence to not motivate them into relenting, raising their hand and saying, “Oh, ok. I’ll do it.” The silence was awkward. My mind kept thinking about whether I should help out. Then I remembered that I wasn’t taking on one more thing. So, I sat on my hands like the rest of the GSRs.
Then I had the bright idea that I could help them out by asking the secretary to give a more complete description of the positions she was trying to get filled. You know, I was thinking people might raise their hands if they knew what was involved with taking on one or another of these service commitments. Before I knew it the attention was on me and stayed on me. Someone nominated me for District Committee Chair. I told them I am not here in the summer. . (I told them I am away in the summer hoping they’d think I was a snowbird).They said, “Well, just do the commitment until July.” Without any acknowledgement on my part, other than my open mouth and wide eyes, I heard them nominate me for the DCM West position. What was I to do? With all eyes on me, I must have given some sort of positive acknowledgement and they all applauded. They weren’t really applauding that I took the job, they were applauding because then they didn’t feel guilty for not taking it.
I just don’t get it. This commitment entails my going to meetings from Rancho Mirage on west to who knows where, talking up the importance of being a GSR, how a group isn’t represented if they don’t have a GSR.
I am powerless over saying NO, that my life is unmanageable.
I might just have to go back next month and tell them at the District Committee Meeting that I lied!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Another Blogger joins the ranks!

Karen has started blogging. Karen's blog is another honest, from the heart, daily blog to help her stay accountable with her Ideals in 2009. Check it out.

Taking a photo, rather, getting a daily photo with some interest is hard. I think I've fooled myself last year with the everyday photos I posted. Last year's daily photos (not my online class or workshop photos) were really just snapshots, without much thought. I see I have my work cut out.

I picked this photo out of the shots I took because it was the best of the 25 shots of subjects I took in the little time I allowed myself.

Between my regular life, trying to eat right and now seriously trying to shoot a daily photo (with some thought), I have very little time left over. Something has to go and today it was exercise. Hmmmmmm. Not good.

Progress not Perfection.
4:20pm setting sun on two backyard cactus.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

Here is my New Year's Day gift - Taye's new blog. Bet you can't read it and not laugh out loud!

Ray and I had a nice day today. A non-day, like the rest of these "holiday" days have been. I'm always happier when January 2nd rolls around each year.

Ray played golf this morning. I mindlessly computed. Thank goodness Sandi called. We stayed on the phone long enough, I no longer wanted all the Blackberry phone applications I was in the process of ordering online.

The party at 2pm today was my first test in terms of being around lots of food, fun food. Ray and I left the party after an hour without putting anything in our mouths. So did Sandi who also attended the party.

I'd made a decision to get in a walk before the sun set. Ray and I walked the 3 mile route we usually take around our neighborhood.

One of my 2009 Ideals is to post a photo a day for the next 365 days. So to go along with this boring blog entry, I'll post a couple of boring photos I shot today.

Eating lunch before we go to the party.

Our friend Perry at the party.

Walking by the golf course lakes provided lots of photo op reflections.

See Ray up ahead just beyond the two palm trees? We were walking by the MHCC Club House and the first Tee box on the Palmer Course.