Sunday, October 21, 2007

Autumn in Ohio

I spend a lot of time trying to book my next ticket to somewhere else, but every now and then, it's nice to be right here. There's nothing like Autumn in this part of the country. It's just amazingly beautiful. We took the kids down to Cuyahoga Valley National park this weekend. The skies were bright blue, the weather was warm, and the trees were absolutely gorgeous. We went for a short hike and let them play in the river for a while - making boats from sticks and leaves. They had a great time and so did we.

The weekend isn't a good time for photography in the parks, though. Too many people. Instead, I went out on Friday morning when the light was still soft - and before the leaves were trampled. I took a couple of Fall shots for my portfolio. Nothing spectacular - just the dazzling, quiet beauty of Autumn in Ohio. Kind of takes my breath away sometimes. This is Brandywine Falls. In a few months, it will be frozen over - with water still running beneath a thick layer of ice.

I hope your weekend was as nice as ours.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Nearly finished

Yep - I'm nearly finished. I've almost learned the entire Czech language. I should be completely fluent by the end of the week. Not bad, eh? It took me about three days. MAN! Am I smart or what?

No - sorry. Actually, I'm nearly finished with uploading the batch of stock images I started last week. Usually I finish the uploading, categorizing, and key wording process in a few days. But this time, I'm way behind. But not to worry. My boss doesn't mind too much. She's very understanding - and kind, and funny, and smart... yeah... it's me. Shrug.

As for learning Czech. That's going well too. I've moved past the Ostrich bit - that really wasn't helping anything. Now I'm picking up some photography related phrases -

"Krásně světlo" - Fine lighting.

"Paradni misto" - Beautiful location.

and my favorite so far...

"Celkovo fajn" - which as far as I can tell means something along the lines of "Totally groovy."

See? Useful stuff!

I posted my first photo on Light Harmony. Go check it out. I will try to get more images up during the week. Meanwhile, I'm translating hundreds of posts from other members - trying to get up to speed and figure out the basics of the language. (That's my brain up there - or what's left of it. It burned up.) :)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

LONG week...

This has been one heck of a week. I have been very busy - preparing photographs for upload to stock sites, communicating with a potential business partner who is interested in printing my photos on large size canvas and selling to hotels and restaurants, taking small children to extracurricular activities... and learning to read Czech. Yep - I kid you not. I never thought I'd have a reason to learn Czech. But there it is. Life comes at you fast.

Last week I received an invitation to join the Light Harmony team. I sent them a query a few months ago, but did not expect a reply. This is quite an honor, and I am excited about it. LH is a group of very good photographers and they have welcomed me very kindly. There's just one little hitch. The entire back-end website is in Czech. They have made efforts to translate the links into English just for me, but all the text and buttons are in Czech. So I'm sitting here with the Czech/English dictionary open in one window and the LH website in the other. One word at a time. It's like being a little kid again - not a clue in the world what anyone is saying. :) Many of them have taken the time to speak with me - in English. Which was very nice. And I'm working - like I said - to learn the language in record time. But it's not an easy language to learn... at least not in the US.

First, I hit the internet hard... all kinds of interesting sites that offer very little helpful information on Czech. Lots of overlap. And lots of oh so useful phrases like the following...

"Pštros s pštrosicí a pštrosáčaty šli do pštrosačárny." This means "A male ostrich with a female ostrich and baby ostriches went to the ostrich house." VERY useful, don't you think?

Then off to the bookstore - I asked if they had a Czech/English dictionary, and the woman cocked her head at me, started walking towards the language section, and said, "Well - I guess you'd better cross your fingers." In the end, we found three travel-sized phrase books. I bought two of them and learned some more important phrases, such as this one...

"Je mi nevolno." Which means "I feel nauseated." Great. I'm sure they'll be thrilled to hear about that.

And finally - after much more time spent on the internet than is reasonable for a normal individual, I decided to log in to the Czech google page - where I did a search for an "Anglicko-český dictionary" and lo and behold I found one. It works great! Mostly. Except when it doesn't. But heck - it's a whole lot better than the phrase books...

"Mám alergii na rajčata." - "I have an allergy to tomatoes." Only I don't have any allergies. So, what would be the point of learning to say that? And when would I have the oportunity to use it on a photographic website?

Actually - it occurs to me that I could use some of these phrases if I really didn't like a photo they posted. I could say I was allergic to the photograph and I was feeling nauseated! This is great! Now I'm really on to something! I'm not sure where I'll find a use for all that crap about the ostriches, though. Hmmm.

So there you go. That's the short version.

What... you want a photo? I don't have time for photography, man! Are you kidding?


All right - there you go. Last week, this photo took first place for black and white in a Flickr landscape contest.
And this one took second place in the color category...

All right. Back to work.


Friday, October 12, 2007


I have fifteen images uploading to Shutterstock - so they should be up and ready for review within a half hour. Uploading them to all our stock sites is going to take a few days and lots of work - key-wording, uploading, categorizing, and then the wait for approval. And then we shoot something else and hope this batch sells.

We did our short run last night. It was nice and cool, so the run felt easier than usual. And afterwards we went to the gym and did our upper body workout. We train year round for photography - running and working out regularly so that we can make the long hikes that are required in some cases. We don't have specific plans for November, yet. But we usually take a few days each month and shoot the heck out of a chosen location.

Meanwhile, I'm waiting for the best of the Autumn colors, here in Ohio. When they arrive, I'll spend some time photographing the parks here. Last year, I took a shot of one of the lakes in Shaker, Ohio. Although I like the shot, I wasn't entirely pleased with it in the end. It looks fake to me. And it is. I found the brightest leaves and placed them in a pleasing pattern. It was fun - and cold and wet - and the final image is lovely. But the fact is, nature doesn't place leaves neatly where we want them. It drops them randomly. And I like it better that way. Here's the shot. What do you think?

I really prefer an image like this one... the leaves are right where the trees dropped them. It's reality. And it's beautiful, too. :)

Thursday, October 11, 2007

I spent a good part of yesterday working on photographs to submit for stock. I did manage to finish processing several shots, but I didn't get the images submitted. I'll have to work on that next week. Although I don't have time for a long post today, I wanted to put an image up.

I didn't expect to like this shot as much as I do. But, I love the way the light is hitting the leaf - and the way the bubbles are clinging to it. I also like the black background which serves to enhance the color and brightness of the leaf. The bubbles add interest - and the reflections inside the bubbles appeal to me as well. I've had a good time processing these images. But now I want them online and selling so I can move on to the next thing. I don't know what that is, yet - but I'll enjoy it thoroughly. You can count on that.

Now, I'm getting ready to go running. 4 miles today - or so. This is our short run, so it won't take long. Thank goodness.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Aching Eyes

Wow. I spent the morning at the computer processing images from yesterday's shoot. We photographed more bubbly objects. We try pretty hard to make sure that we get the photograph right in the camera. We'll spend weeks working out a perfect lighting setup - and then a few hours shooting a series of images. It's all about figuring out what the light is going to do and making it work for us.

If we are successful, I shouldn't have to do much processing afterwards. But the fact is, I love PhotoShop. And I've been working with it for thirteen years. So, I'm willing to spend some times working on projects that appeal to me. One of my favorites is a series of images I created a few months ago. I photographed children with a variety of facial expressions and then processed the images as high key, black and white portraits. White background, bright highlights, and just a touch of soft detail in their faces. I made sure their eyes stayed bright and true. You can see the final result here (click on the photo for a larger view) - and you can take a look at others in my stock galleries.

I'm pretty happy with the results of that shoot - and I'm having fun with these little bubbles.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Not just landscapes...

Although my website is dedicated to my landscape work - I spend a lot of time shooting other things too. Jay and I spent much of the weekend working to create the image you see here - and others like it. We haven't perfected the technique yet, but we had a whole lot of fun trying it. Getting rid of unwanted reflections was key, here. It's difficult to shoot through glass and liquid without getting reflections - not only in the glass, but also in all those tiny bubbles.

We still have some work to do - we want to shoot this series with a black background as well. Meanwhile, I'm processing these images and submitting them to our stock sites. We'll see if they sell. Who knows.

Sunday, October 7, 2007


I'm not going to bother with the usual first post gibberish. Suffice it to say that this is, without a doubt, the first one. Onward...

We returned from Colorado last week. It was another fantastic trip. We were there for five days and we got some beautiful photographs. I've only had time to process a few of them - since we returned just in time for the soccer tournament... 12 games in one day. I kid you not, folks. Twelve. The kids did very well. One of our teams won the championship and another took second place. A third child scored two goals, and the fourth... well... she kicked the ball at least twice. Which is an accomplishment. So we're proud of all our soccer players. VERY proud.

Anyway - it rained a lot in Colorado. But who's complaining? We got up every morning at 4 am and headed out to the Maroon Bells. It's a beautiful spot - named for the deep reddish/purple earth and bell shaped mountains. We checked in advance to find out when the Aspen's would reach peak fall color and we arrived right on time. It rained a lot during our stay, but breaking clouds made for some spectacular sunsets, and we loved the heavy mist that rolled through the valleys in between storms.

We did a lot of hiking and driving - looking for beautiful spots and following the light. We're pretty happy with the results of our work. And I'll start posting it to my website once the images are processed. Meanwhile, here's a mini preview. This shot was taken at Maroon Bells. The mist on the mountain was absolutely beautiful and a shaft of light touched the top of the mountain as the sun climbed past the horizon. The water was smooth and clear - and the reflections were breathtaking. Fresh snow had fallen on the peaks during the night. What a place.