2017 PHOTOCHALLENGE, WEEK 9: RED

I like these technical challenges. They push me, and that’s good.

Here’s my submission for this week’s challenge. When certain colors are a focus, or called upon, I can’t help but have predetermined areas of focus or target. When is requested, I immediately figure out if I can swing a US Flag. It’s just me.

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Also, I haven’t really learned all of Lightroom’s features, and am not sure if there is a more finite way to capture the histograms, with Luminosity and Red alone. Maybe someone can educate me on that.

Enjoy my submission.

And as instructed, I have included the histogram.

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2017 PHOTOCHALLENGE, WEEK 5: Year of the Rooster

At the outset of this week, I was flabbergasted about where I might capture a nice photograph of a rooster.

But then I remembered this little known cultural fact in the small village of Arroyo Grande, just about 20 minutes north of me, where this flock of roosters, who’ve been a bit tamed, hang around a nice walking party with a decorative bridge.

I had my roosters!

I hope you enjoy my contribution!

 

2017 PHOTOCHALLENGE, WEEK 4: Rule of Thirds / Toys & Games

FujiFilm XT-1, 35mm, Lightroom, Aurora HDR, Luminar

Just as soon as Eric posted this week’s theme, I knew what I wanted to capture. Our normally boring Central Coast weather has been so dynamic and beautiful. I knew that the Guadalupe Veteran’s Memorial was going to be my subject. The potential skyline drama, the numerous headstones with history and pop, I knew I might create something nice.

2017 PHOTOCHALLENGE, WEEK 3: SELF PORTRAIT WITHOUT SELF

 

FujiFilm XT-1, 35mm, processed with Lightroom, Aurora HDR, Noiseless, and Snapheel.

 

This week’s theme called for a self-portrait, without myself.So, the goal was to represent me in a way that did not include me. Right away I knew what I wanted to photograph. These pair of objects represent me well. I hope you enjoy them!

2017 PHOTOCHALLENGE, WEEK 2: WE ARE WHAT WE EAT

As a 2.5 year old bone marrow transplant recipient, there is something cathartic about making my own bone broth for use as a base in homemade Pho soup. I roasted this before crock potting it into a tasty bone broth. You are what you eat. 🙂

Helping a friend…

***If you don’t want to learn about using a Google Docs, and a few of their free tools to make a Google Slides presentation, skip this post***

OK, a photography friend in Texas has asked for some help. Sometimes the tools at hand the the easiest. Feel free to use this slapped together tutorial for your won purposes, hopefully not for a last minute memorial service like this one is designed to help.

Forgive any bad grammar or insufficient screenshots. I did my best, and I pray that I have provided a service to help honor someone’s recently passed on loved one.

First you’ll need a free Google account

Gmail, Google Docs, whatever. Most have one, if you don’t, get one anyway, best online email, etc..(Unless you’re John Podesta, and you keep your password: “password”. Then you don’t deserve to use technology…ever.)

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Next, search for Google Drive.

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Go there.

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Create a new folder.

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Give it a title, I’ve chosen “Funeral”. (Don’t think I’m morbid, I just woke, and I’m trying to be efficient.)

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Now just drag and drop your images from anywhere off the desktop, a disk, folder, wherever they are currently. Don’t worry, you’ll have a chance to organize and even edit them.

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They’ll auto load. You have a few options on organizing them here. But no drag and drop to order them yet.

From here we look at editing the photos, if they need it. Cropping, and all sorts of easy options are available with the two different apps. I took a screen shot of the more advanced editor Pixlr Editor and the easier Pixlr Express. The second one has almost every tool the regular Joe might need.

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Here’s the more complex one, Pixlr Editor.

And here’s a shot of the easier, Pixlr Express.

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Notice the “Save and Replace” and “Close”, at the top right. Once you make your changes, and Apply them, choose those options and return to your Google Drive folder to see the changes.

Now we head over to Google Slides, to make the presentation.

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Upper left hand corder, once Slides opens, Click on the Orange Logo

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It’ll change to this…

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Choose Photo Album.

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And we’re off with their suggested template.

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Just start customizing. Depending on your experience with PowerPoint or other presentation software, you’re left with your experience. If you don’t know what you’re doing, let’s just take what they give us and start making it out own. I changed the name of the Presentation to “Jan’s Funeral”. I deleted two of their three initial images.

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I resized the last photo’s box in the template.

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then right clicked to choose to “Replace Image”.

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Here you can change over to your Google Drive, and find the image folder you already made with your own images.

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Here you’ll see one of my “own” images inserted in place of their sample image.

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I continued on with this, slide by slide, keeping some template slides, and right clicking to delete others. Once you’ve inserted/imported all your images, you’re basically done. Fine tuning becomes your own prerogative.

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At this point, you have a few options. Most of the time the end result is a desired presentation file, like a PowerPoint or to even just run the slide presentation from within Google Slides. That can be done either way. You can simply export your Google Slides presentation to a PowerPoint file, or choose to play it by clicking on “Present” button in the upper right corner, which will start playing it.

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Or you could even “Publish” it to the web. There’s a few choices, but the Facebook option may end up being the most common one. Most of these choices will also give you the slide time duration and even the option to loop it during playback.

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No matter what choice you make, I think we’ve solved our problem. You have a last minute need to make a photo slideshow, with free online tools. Please ask questions, and I’ll be happy to investigate further, or include better details.

Since today’s problem includes helping in a time of sadness, I’ll add my condolences to the family of the recently passed. May God bless their memory.

 

Take your camera!

Attention Photographer friends, your smartphone is good, but not great! I love taking photographs with my iPhone and processing them for fun. It’s a great exercise, and I generally love the outcome. With the skills I’ve acquired through the years, post processing my photos with decent software, I’ve grown to learn how to use not just fun filters and presets with apps on my phone, but even use a few apps that give me really great control over the final image.

I’ll write another post about some of those tools soon enough. But this article is to encourage you to actually take your camera with you everywhere!

I know it can be tedious. You don’t need all your lenses and gadgets all the time. Toss a good prime lens onto your camera and just keep it with you. You don’t need your bag and all the other gear. Just get used to having the camera ready. Leave the settings on your most common settings, and all you need t to do is grab and go.

My only dSLR, aka decent camera that matters, is a FujiFilm XT-1. I keep my 35mm f/1.4 lens on it, without a flash or speed light. I keep it on Aperture priority mode, set to the widest aperture, slowest shutter speed and smallest ISO, 200.

Now that you’re convinced, you should think about keeping it safe. For me, there was a time that I had a dSLR and a CCW with me at all times. (See my job history to better understand that.) So, I wrestled with having two high dollar items, one of which HAD to be concealed at all times. Through this highly practical few years of double “carrying”, I learned a few things I can pass along.

First off, I often carried my weapon “off body”. It’s an option that many women face when concerned with carrying a concealed firearm. I made this decision, and it didn’t take me too long to decide, I hated not having my gun on me. So, the method I had chosen, albeit at very good one, ended up not being my best solution.

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I basically carried a man purse. A Maxpedition Versipack. In a sweet deal, I contacted LowePro, and they sold me the guts to a camera bag, with interchangeable hook and loop (aka Velcro) slots inside. It fit perfectly into the non-padded Versipack. I had a quasi-secret camera bag that was truly designed for carrying a concealed firearm. It was my man purse.

The biggest thing we can take away from that experience is that you can get creative in how you transport and store your camera, in light of my challenge to you to always have your real camera with you.

I found a few articles that address what we’re talking about, and I think you’ll enjoy them. The first one is clearly geared towards women, but I think we all can benefit from the discussion.

The next two articles will contribute a little more.

I think the biggest ideas to take away from all three articles is the notion that you’re hiding your gear in plain sight. Now, I NEVER hide my gun in plain sight. If it’s not secured in a holster on my person, it’s secured in a locked safe, loaded or unloaded.

But obviously, with a camera we’re able and willing to take a greater risk. No one is going to steal our camera permanently harm someone else or themselves. After all, a camera is just a thing we could easily live without.

I have a couple of single camera LowePro cases, that are clearly camera cases. They are great. One is standard black, and the other is a nice blue. But, they don’t really encourage, DON’T STEAL MY CAMERA, from the front seat of my truck. And let’s be honest, what I’m saying is keep your camera with you at all teams, I’m saying have it ready all the time. Does that mean take it into work? Probably not. Many cannot even do that. During my career, we weren’t even allowed to have our personal cell phones, let alone a smartphone at work. (That’s a separate issue we chat about another time. Yes, I have policies that are basically named after me.)

So let’s look at what my over all point. Having your camera available all the time really does mean having it as ready as possible during the normal throws of life. When I’m on a road trip, the camera is within reach at all times. If I see something, having the camera packed away is just another excuse to NOT stop and use it. Once thing I’ve always appreciated about my loved ones is that they’ve never made me feel bad for wanting to stop and create a photograph. And I’ve tried to remain just as available for my teenage daughter, who also loves to create beautiful photographs.

So now I’m considering alternate methods of storage and transportation. Just like I might consider a center console lockbox for my firearm to be readily accessible to me as I drive, I might consider some sort of hide in plain sight for my camera.

I think I’m going to start with something low target, like a simple reinforced cardboard box, with your typical camera bag foam padding inside. Clearly LowePro offers these inserts. And as you’ll see in one of the other articles I linked to, so does a company called MountainSmith. There are others, but I’ve used MountainSmith backpacks from my earliest days of backpacking, and I will not attest to any higher quality product that takes a massive beating, and the company that backs it.

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This setup will allow me to have my camera hiding in plain site, and make it less attractive for those wanting to smash and grab stuff from my unattended truck. I’m used to having a high situational awareness as it is, just carrying the valuable items I already carry on a regular basis, so this will not increase my nervousness at all. I’m already there. But now I’ll also have my favorite tool for creating great photographs with me more often.

Shalom, my brothers and sisters

Celebrating the Festival of Lights, aka Hanukkah, somewhat privately over the past 8 days has been good for me. As a Christian, I enjoy the Jewish roots of Christianity, and how so many of the festivals and celebrations point directly to Christ the Messiah. A Seder meal at Passover points to Jesus and his final days, embodiment of the prophesies. The shedding of blood for atonement. The presentation of the perfect lamb. I won’t explain it all here. The organization Jews for Jesus has a nice brief article that highlights the largest points.

Thank you my Jewish friends for sharing with me, and offering tips for respectfully celebrating with you. I pray that my photographs and subtle celebration of the Festival of Lights was honorable.

[Scroll through the photo series below]

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2015 CHALLENGE, WEEK 22: NUMBERS – GEOMETRY

I needed to get out and do a little photowalk today. Good therapy. I wandered around the Santa Maria Valley Railway Historical Museum. It’s a small venue, with just one engine, car, and caboose. I took a few photos, thinking they’d be great for the geometry theme. Most of them would work just fine. But, across the street I saw this abandoned building and was enticed.

I really think the entire street-side wall is loaded with a variety of geometrical designs and even construction principles, it’s like the designer/contractor/architect didn’t follow one structural design rule on any one panel of this wall. I’ll toss in a couple other shots from the photowalk at the end of the post.

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taken with iPhone 6+, 4.15mm, f/2.2, 1/647, ISO 32, processed with Snapseed

So, these two below were my faves from my short little photowalk this afternoon.

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2015 CHALLENGE, WEEK 21: MACRO – WRITE

The moment I saw this week’s theme, I knew what I wanted to create. Some good friends of mine run a local tattoo shop, called Upper Room Tattoo Co. He did my wedding ring tattoo many years ago. I hope to have them memorialize my leukemia journey when the time is right. Plus, they’re truly wonderful people!

Anyways, I knew I wanted to sit down and brainstorm something creative with them. And the result of which, I couldn’t be more proud.

Tattoo Machine
Fujifilm XT-1, F/4, 1/28, ISO 800, Canon 70-210mm Macro f/4 @ 75mm