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Wednesday, April 24, 2013


We went on a little hike last Saturday at Flatirons Vista, where we used to hike with the girls many years ago. This time it was just Bob and me...and my Canon 6D. This was my favorite shot of the day: a perfect portrait of my husband, enjoying solitude, in his element...seriously, I just saw it unfolding, raised camera to eye, and 'click!' Well, maybe I did ask Bob to go back and re-trace his steps - s l o w l y - so I could frame it a little better. Only once though.

I played around with the image quite a bit before settling on this final version; first some fine-tuning in Lightroom. As you can see below, the color was so drab I knew immediately that a black & white filter would be a good starting point. I tried several B&W presets before settling on David duChemin's Green Filter Cool Duo, which I further tweaked in the Split Toning panel til it felt right. Then into Photoshop, where I smoothed out the sky with a gradient fill adjustment layer and applied two of Kim's textures: kk_vintageteal (Multiply 53%) and then scratchedmagic (Screen 56%). I must have cropped and re-cropped fifty times, mostly a matter of where I wanted the figure to be within the frame, and how to best use the strong diagonal lines of the fence.

Here's the original photo, SOOC (Straight Out Of Camera)

And the bit about 'solitude'...it's more than just an obvious choice for me to paste onto this image. I've always enjoyed solitude, usually content to amuse myself. Matthew Kelly calls it 'The Classroom of Silence.' A genuine respite from the chatter of everyday life.

Linking up with Texture Tuesday


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

winter haiku


Don't you mean spring? Yeah, don't I wish. Here in these parts we're finally getting the precipitation our drought-stricken land has been craving for months. And in true Colorado style, April is turning out to be more wintery than January. Even the oft-repeated mantra, "we sure need the moisture" is wearing mighty thin.

So...I've been back in my studio in recent weeks, just casually playing around in my art journal with gesso, paint, paper, stamps, crayons, stitching...whatever I can get my hands on. While I thoroughly enjoy and love creating with camera and computer, I gotta admit that I have sorely missed the hands-on, real-time stuff in my studio.

I promised myself I would do  just one layer of something each day. Non-committal, no worries or expectations, or pressure to create a masterpiece or anything. Just play around and enjoy the process. That is what an art journal is for.

At some point in my layering process I dug up a spare print I had made years ago: a scanned favorite snapshot of young Bob and his friends on the makeshift skating rink at the park across the street from his house. Growing up in Canada meant strapping on ice skates at an early age...and, in Bob's words, "literally crawling home every night, exhausted from hours of hockey..." Fond memories indeed. He loved skating, and to see him on his hockey skates now...well, it's as if he'd been born with skates on. Which, as I said before, is not far from the truth.

I finally turned to haiku to express the sentiments I had unearthed and discovered that I can write...and poetry at that!

A strong contrast to his recent mutterings about winter, which I will leave to your imagination. I mean, the guy just wants to get out to the range and teach, and get on his bicycle and ride. I heartily concur.


Linking up with Tuesday Muse.


Thursday, April 18, 2013


This week I am linking up with Beyond Beyond - inspired by some elegant magazine layouts and Kim's tutorial on tinting in Lightroom, and celebrating a special kind of love with Texture Tuesday.

I spent a good hour perusing the magazine rack at the public library before checking out a couple of back issues of Victoria...then immediately went home and set up two photo shoots, combining family heirlooms and some old snapshots to tell a story or two...

Della & Greg

As did many children of his generation, my father grew up in a bilingual home, where Italian was spoken as often as not. Della Libonati was born in Denver of immigrant parents. Gregorio Notarianni emmigrated to America in 1920, as a young man. Although well-educated he only learned the language upon arriving here; over the years Della was his primary tutor in conversational English. An avid reader and history buff, Greg soon became fluent in the language.
These are just a few my grandfather's treasured old books, which I now display on a shelf in my living room. Topics include Italian history - ancient and contemporary early 20th century, especially WWI, in which he served in the Italian Cavalry - as well as an Italian-English dictionary and vocabulary book dated 1905. This little end table also belonged to my grandparents. I re-finished it several years ago.

I have several of these little terra cotta jars - made in Italy about 100 years ago - at one time displayed on a dresser or vanity in my grandparents' bedroom.

Edna & Joe

My maternal grandparents, Joe and Edna Toomey, eloped in June of 1921 when she was just 18 years old and he was 27. My mother relayed their wedding story in her genealogy many years later:

Edna's mother, Ida Swanson, was especially suspicious of anyone Irish, and likely to be Catholic. Joe was both...They told her parents that they wished to marry and be married in the Catholic Church. Ida would have none of it so the young couple eloped...When the priest learned that Edna was Lutheran, she was banished from the altar and they were married in a side room. This was an affront to them both.

It wasn't until several months later that they revealed their marriage to Edna's parents...when she realized that she was expecting.


This sterling silver dish was the only wedding gift that Joe and Edna received, given to them by Joe's friends, the Mulrooneys. Their only "wedding photo" is a snapshot of Edna wearing her brown taffeta wedding dress. The handkerchief was Edna's.

I followed Kim's tutorial on Tinting in Lightroom using Graduated Filters; after adjusting the colors to get the right feel, I made it a preset, which I call Peachy Blue Vintage. I also applied my own Soft White Vignette preset to all of the photos here. I softened the color photos with Kim's Berrily preset.

In Photoshop I treated all photos with a layer of kk_carmel (Soft Light blend mode @ 60-70%), which I brushed away via a layer mask to recapture some details.


Friday, April 12, 2013

the colors of spring

This collection of images is from a "photo walk" excursion three weeks ago, on a warm - but dreary - spring day in the Highlands neighborhood in northwest Denver. There's just a different kind of energy in this trendy, upscale, re-born old neighborhood, so I knew it would be rich with colorful imagery. It did not disappoint. Here, ordinary everyday details are presented with an artistic flair.

On the way back to my car I spied this little shop -  Garnet Gecko - and ended up spending over an hour there. I don't normally consider shopping a hobby, but I was intrigued enough to step inside this one boutique.

Even though the "Asian import" style is generally not my thing, I was drawn to this collection like a moth to a flame. It truly was a feast for the eyes - a bounty of beautifully hand-crafted textiles, jewelry, and assorted accessories. And I enjoyed a delightful visit with the proprietress, Sharon, chatting as though we were already old friends. It elevated an enjoyable excursion to a memorable experience.

Okay, so I did take home a lovely hand-dyed scarf and some silver earrings...that still doesn't make me a real "hobby shopper." I'll be back for more. Photos, that is. And there was this other scarf...


Linking up today with Walk and Click Wednesday: Making the Ordinary Special, and Beyond Beyond, where we got a refresher tutorial in making a colorful storyboard, and Texture Tuesday.

Both storyboards were textured with
Kim Klassen's kk_coolgrunge: Soft Light blend mode @60%
and kk_3101: Multiply blend mode @ 30 - 50%

Fonts: Eccentric Std and Cheboygan


Sunday, April 7, 2013

rescuing a caterpillar

Today I am linking up with Photo Heart Connection, Kat Sloma's monthly retrospective review of 'the photo that best connects to your heart.' I made this shot while on a little hike with my daughters last Saturday. I was trying out my new Canon 6D, getting acquainted with all the buttons and dials, so I wasn't expecting anything special. We were just walking along, 'dishing' about this and that, when Erin spied this little fella trying to cross the trail. Immediately, simultaneously we all thought the same thing: he's going to get trampled before he can make it across! Without hesitation, she gently scooped him up, and while we debated where to put him (which direction was he actually heading?...we didn't want to make him start all over again), I made this shot. On the fly...the spur of the moment. I hardly had time to even focus. Then Kelly chimed in with this quote she'd once heard...

mouse over to see the original

...and a precious memory was born.

When I reviewed my shots in Lightroom and zoomed in on this shot I was amazed at the detail I had captured. 20 megapixels. Wow!

It got me thinking of the days when we used to hike and camp with the girls...and I recalled this snapshot I took many years ago.

Kelly & Erin
Three Sisters Park
near Evergreen

I'm also linking up with Beyond Beyond 'cause I started with Kim's tutorial on creating my own hazy preset...but as happens so often with my creative process, I end up not quite where I thought I would be when I started. I played around with several Lightroom presets, finally settling on one of David duChemin's - Iceland Split Blues. Then I added Kim's texture - kk_prague - Soft Light blend mode @39%...all of which gave it the spring/hazy feel I was after in the first place.



Monday, April 1, 2013

redemption & resurrection

In my world, blogging takes a back seat to everyday life, so sometimes a post will appear to be a bit 'behind the times.' Ideally this would have been posted in time to greet the world early on Easter morning. In reality, here's how it came about:
  1. I made the photo Saturday afternoon while on an impromptu little hike with my daughters in the foothills just west of Denver. I was trying out my new camera for the first time - a full frame Canon 6D. We ventured to a place we used to hike when they were little: Matthews Winters Park and encountered a tiny 19th century cemetery.
  2. I played with the image on and off all day Sunday - while pondering the significance of Easter - in between a fabulous bike ride with my husband and preparing Easter dinner.
  3. I was too tired to finish it up last night...so here I am Monday morning, sitting at the computer before I head off to work.

The prayer - an acclamation of the Catholic 'mystery of faith' - is said immediately after the consecration of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ, acknowledging the reality of His death and proclaiming our faith that He is alive and that He will come again.

Linking up with Beyond Beyond and Texture Tuesday...just playing, as Kim suggested this week. Springtime in the foothills/plains of Colorado can be quite dry, with only a hint of growth and new life. I really struggled with the color - or lack thereof - with this image, and even toyed with converting it to b&w, but that didn't fit my vision for this photo. So I played with it in Lightroom to bring out the subtle browns and greens, then, in desperation, applied a combination of Rad Lab filters (Flora, Antique Tone, Boutwell Magic Glasses II, EZ-Burn 2...each tweaked as needed), which seemed to do the trick. Then into Photoshop, where I applied Kim's BeStill and ChalkMagic textures, and a bit of text (University Roman font).

It was not a very efficient process, but that's how I roll.

And anyway, who said that the creative process is an efficient one?