Saturday, July 4, 2009

Great Kids

I spent the day yesterday with some wonderful kids... Joey, Johnny, and Madi. Look at those smiles!

We went to Lake Wheeler Park and walked around Simpkins Pond and then played on the playground equipment and fed the ducks. We saw a bunch of butterflies and dragonflies on the trail. Hard to get pics there for some reason, though. The kids were happily running on the trail in front of me stopping to pose for pictures sometimes on request and sometimes their idea. The one time they lined up they got giddy and ended up falling on the ground. Thankfully no one fell in!

Next we were off to Yates Mill Pond where we walked the pond trail and took pics near the mill. The kids' favorite thing here was finding rocks and throwing them into the water on the back swamp area boardwalk. They could have gone on doing that for quite some time I think if I'd let them. I snuck in a few butterfly pics in the parking lot:-)

Next we went to Crabtree Valley Mall. I took the kids to The Lego Store and to Build-A-Bear. You can see by the smiles that they thought that was a great time!

Out at 9, back near 6. A great day! It was a 15 minute pitstop and then off to the Fuquay-Varina fireworks.

All the pics from today including some cool nature shots are here.

Friday, July 3, 2009

More Dragonflies

Hi everyone! This is a Halloween Pennant dragonfly. I shot the macro picture on the right last Saturday. I shot the perched on a stick up high shot on the left yesterday afternoon. I'm trying to learn how to, um, enhance my pics in Photoshop Elements, so I practiced making this collage last night.

You can look at the original pics of these two images here.

On a happy note, in the morning, there was an Indigo Bunting on a tree limb at the swamp yesterday. That's my first personal sighting. And, I even got a decent picture of him...just not quality enough to make it my daily. I was SO excited. A hummingbird took turns with the bunting and a Scarlet Tanager in the same tree. It was so neat.

I also saw a Viceroy Butterfly on a Buttonbush plant and got a few pics of him. The clarity was a bit disappointing, but I was excited.

The bunting and butterfly pic are also at the link above.

I'm off with the boys and riend, Madi to Yates Mill Pond, Lake Wheeler, and probably the mall today. I'm sure I'll be taking pictures:-)

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Let's Get This Party Started!

I'm getting psyched about a 3-day holiday weekend, so here's a little patriotic cheer to get us in the mood. This is sugar on again:-) For some reason, I struggled a bit more this time with getting a good shot. I used 4 different plates and shot over 100 pics. There were several shots I liked, and this is one of them. But none of them struck me as stellar. You can see some of the rest here.

One of the plates was frosted glass, and it made the sugar look like water. One had bubbles in it and magnified a subset of the granules. Another had a nice weave pattern. But, I seem drawn to the circular patterns.

On a swamp note, the farmer has been using water out of the pond nearby to irrigate his corn. We're on 10 days now in the 90s with no rain. As a result, the water level in the swamp is way down. The green heron has not been back, and I'm sure many of the dragonfly nymphs and tadpoles are gone.

I did however see a great blue heron 60' up in a dead tree overlooking the pond yesterday. The distance and light did not make for a winning shot, but I did take a few pics of him which are here.

Yes, that's probably a heron's nest in the tree next to him, but it was not used this year. I kept hoping since it's easy access to take pics of that tree.

The kids and I were playing wiht bubbles last night. Fun for sure but no pics I wanted to write home about;-)Those pics are also in the album linked to just above.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Thank You

I'm writing this blog entry tonight for two reasons. One, I want to stop and take a few minutes to thank my family and friends for all their support with my photographic endeavors over the past few years. Second, I wanted to share something cool that I learned about this week.

If you don't know, I have a web page for my photos and I use the name fotomom not only for my blog but also in posting my pictures. You can see my best pictures on my website and even buy them if you see one you really like. Most of the pictures are nature shots, but there are some artsy type shots too. There's a description and picture of me on the homepage, and I talk about why I'm interested in photography.

I started taking pictures when I was a little girl, and I talk about the cameras I've had in my lifetime. Obviously, my Dad had a lot to do with sparking my interest in photography. He handed me my first camera and lots of upgrades along the way including buying me my current Canon Powershot S3 and Canon Powershot SX10 IS. He let me go through the family pictures and try to organize them when I was a teenager. He's scanned in and preserved old family photos over the last year and inspired me to keep a good record of family history for my kids. Thanks, Dad!

When I had Joey in 2002, like most new parents, I made sure I was prepared to take lots of pictures and videos. There was a real surge in picture taking. Joey was so cute. How could I resist taking pics of him?!? I started buying pretty fabric to lie under him in his bouncy seat so that I could take portraits even. It was becoming an obsession. I started uploading my pictures, Yahoo at the time, and sending out nearly daily pictures e-mails to my closest family and friends. I really owe Dad, Faith, Don, Patricia, Debbie & Joe, and Christine a huge thanks for being receptive to and putting up with all my 'picture e-mails'. I was really blogging before there were blogs.

I also want to thank those of you that have helped me take pictures. If Joey and Johnny had a $1 for every time they had to sit in the car and wait a few minutes for me to stop along the road and take 100 pictures they'd be rich. Serious! Debbie and I were yard-saling every Saturday, and I started adding picture taking into our routine. Friends let me take tons of pics at parties and other big events. The kids were usually eager to ham it up for me. Ranger Greg at the Museum of Life and Science in Durham has been supportive in last year in helping me find the best shots in the museum wetlands area Explore the Wild. Danny and Christine have been really good sports about me coming into their yard to take bluebird and flower pictures. The list could go on. I've had a lot of help.

Thanks to my husband, Rick, for his support of the time and money I have invested in my photography.

I'd also like to recognize Terri Pastrana of Coffee and Crepes in Cary for giving me 3 opportunities over the last year to display my pictures in her shop. She also inspired me to branch out and try more artistic style glass and water pictures.

Finally, I want to thank Don for helping me out with all my photographic computer issues. Everything from dealing with the demise of Yahoo Photos and switching me over to Picasa to making sure I've adequately backed up my pictures. I think he told me 2 years ago I'd have 7 terabytes of pictures and videos by the time the boys made it to college. Better recheck that math! I think I told Faith the other day that some weeks I am shooting several gigabytes worth of stuff! Ever hear of a room full of servers or a server farm? Well, I've got an office full of external harddrives.

If I didn't name you explicitly and you've helped me along the way, thanks too! I know I've had a lot of help.

Now, on to the new cool stuff. I make a New Years resolution every year not to make any resolutions. But, I did promise myself when I got Photoshop Elements 7.0 that I would make time every day to learn something about graphic to improve my picture or picture presentation. Well, being a working mom of 2 kids I haven't quite met that goal, but I am making good progress when I can.

Several weeks ago, I became a member of the DailyPhotos Community on SmugMug. I have been posting a picture every day here, and I get/give feedback with other members.

I started out several years ago doing digital scrapbooking with a tool called Scrapbook Factory Deluxe that I picked up on the spur of the moment at Wal-Mart. I proceeded to make 175 digital pages. Those were some late nights! You can check them out here. Well, I've been really meaning to get back to making new pages. I get newsletter from the Scrap Girls, and I am constantly reminded how much I'd like to learn how to make real digital scrapbook pages using Elements.

So, I saw a wonderful photo collage this week on the SmugMug dailies by John Loguk of Lights and Dreams Photography. I was very inspired, and I'm pleased to say, that I have figured out the mechanics of how to do something similar to that using my pictures and Elements. Yippee! See two samples above.

I'm getting the hang of layers and name it. So, if you guys get a calendar for Christmas this year, you'll know why, right?

Seriously, thank you everyone for your support.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

School's Out!

School's out for summer! Well, almost. Joey finishes up kindergarten today. Our schools are so overcrowded here that he's on a year round calendar which means he is in school for 9 weeks out for 3 in for 9, etc. He gets 4 breaks a year I think, and July and January are the two big ones that get holiday time tagged on to them. It's different, but it works just fine. At any point, congrats to him for a great first year of real school. He was on green every day for behavior, and his report cards were great!

I've been taking pics of him at the bus stop each morning over the past 2 weeks, and this is my favorite. Of course, it was hard to pick a favorite! He is my boy afterall. The light coming through the clump of trees at the bus stop is always very pretty in the morning. There's a dogwood tree, maple tree, and holly tree all growing together there.

Monday, June 29, 2009

This and That Nature

I shot this American Lady butterfly picture in my neighbor's garden yesterday. I really like the bokeh in this picture! Privette bushes behind the cone flower had very reflective leaves which is what created this effect here. This was taken midafternoon. I wish the flower itself was more pristine for my tastes, but I guess I can convince myself that slightly tattered is more 'real' somehow. I have a couple of shots with bees coming and going to the flower while the butterfly is on it, but those are not overall as good as this one.

Note the butterfly's proboscis or tongue-like tube going down into the flower. The butterfly uncoils or unrolls it's proboscis and then uses it to drink nectar from plants or other nutrients. I think side view butterfly pics are better if they do a good job showing the 'tube' in action.

Somehow I managed to go to go to the swamp twice yesterday and scare off the greeen heron both times without getting any pics of him. I am going back this morning. I am so frustrated about that!

I took over 500 pics yesterday 155 of which I passed on to the close friends and family that usually look at what I've taken. Some were of the boys playing baseball and playing water on the back deck with our dog, Buddy. I took dragonfly pics again. You may see one of those tomorrow. I also experimented with glass some more. I always tell folks that they can judge how good my day went by the number of pics taken. I'd say yesterday was a pretty good day!

Yesterday's album is here.