Month: February 2017

A Beautiful Afternoon

I walked along the lake this evening. As I approached a man, he said, “Smile for the camera.” I then knew he would let me photograph him with his pups. The man’s name was Jim, and I will send him copies as soon as my computer is back from repair.

I used just my 35mm f/2.0 (equivalent to a 50mm on a full frame camera) to make these photos this afternoon. I am liking the perspective of this lens. I know some think this is a boring focal length, but I don’t as I am practicing with my camera settings and composing based on a focal length closest to what the eye sees. By reducing the variables with which I have to work I have made it a little easier for myself. It is enough to deal with manual mode and one focal length at the moment.

It was a beautiful afternoon for a walk with my camera.

Long Enough

Bill is very busy this morning doing his least favorite job, well maybe except for painting. I went outside too, long enough to capture these without blowing out the highlights. It would appear that even after 49 years of marriage we have a few different priorities.

Until I get my computer back, it’s hard to tell if my exposure needs to be bumped up a little more in post processing. These are straight out of the camera. That’s the disadvantage of working off my iPhone.


A Camera and iPhone

My computer is being repaired so I am finding ways to adapt with just my camera and iPhone this weekend. Except that I have to wear my glasses to see my phone’s screen clearly, it hasn’t been too bad.

Since I can’t create pages with Photoshop without my computer, I’ve been working on my photography. I thought I knew my camera well. However, as I went through a Fast Start class on my Fuji X-T2, I realized how much I still need to learn about my camera.

Today, I practiced setting a custom white balance; exposure and white balance are especially difficult with snow. I shot this inside from a window. Then I wirelessly sent it straight out of the camera to my phone. I didn’t make any adjustments to the photo with one of the programs I have on my phone. Knowing my camera better will help me improve my photography skills.

I also learned that in a pinch, I can write a blog post from my phone.

The Camellias Are Blooming

When I remembered the three varieties of camellias that I grew in my yard in California, I thought it was quite an opportunity to photograph those displayed for judging at a camellia show as well as those growing on the large old shrubs in the Japanese Garden on a rainy morning at Huntington’s Garden and Library. When I saw all those camellias, I knew that I was going to extract several different varieties to create a page. There were so many, it was difficult to choose.

I began my page placing seven of Anna’s twigs: ArtPlay Palette Swell, ArtPlay Palette Tinge, ArtPlay Palette Yule, ArtPlay Palette Oasis, ArtPlay Palette Glance, ArtPlay Palette Festal, ArtPlay Palette Canyon. I tentatively placed them before I began to place the extracted camellias. This is the final placement.

I extracted each of the camellias using the Quick Selection Tool, the properties panel and a layer mask. The process went more quickly than I anticipated. However, I would recommend that you save your work frequently. I didn’t and lost some of my extractions. I must say, I’ve had a lot of practice with the Quick Selection Tool completing this page. I found it easier to make my arrangement by placing all the camellias on the right and then moving them over one at a time. I gave each a shadow.

Next, I placed a photo of the bridge in the garden below the camellias. I roughly masked out the bridge and applied a preset in Lightroom that gave it a sketch effect. Unfortunately, I can’t point you to a current source. It was created by Studio Romy, but I bought it at least 4 years ago. In addition to the photo, I placed a brush from Anna’s Statues No. 1 behind the bridge.

Above the bridge, I placed textures from Spackle Textured No. 1 to rough up the bridge a bit. I duplicated the twigs, moved that group up above the camellia extractions and then erased parts with the Eraser Tool.

On the right side, I placed template 18 from WaterColor Template Album No. 4. I adjusted the position of the layers and text box enough to accommodate the span of the left page. To the frames, I clipped photos of camellias that I had taken while walking in the Japanese Garden. I clipped a photo of the Japanese house to which I applied the same preset to the fotoblendz mask. I added a glow and recolored the stains.


Perfect Combination


Anna’s new template album, WaterColor Template Album No. 4, provided a perfect design base for showcasing photos that I captured on a rainy morning at the Huntington Library and Gardens. I made only one change to the template in order to accommodate my photo of the structure with the blooming tree behind the roof, enlarging the fotoblendz mask at the top and darkening one section of the mask with a brush.

It actually took me longer to decide which photos to place in each of the small frames to balance the color on my page than it did to complete this page.

To fill the white space next to the journaling on the left and help move the eye across the page, I created a sketch of a photo of a peach blossom and brought back some color with one layer photo layer on color burn at 50% and the second on normal at 5%.

To accent the sketch, I placed layers from Artsy Transfers L’Amour, file 2 below the sketch. I recolored the stains, shifted the position of a couple of layers and masked out a part I didn’t want.

With paper from ArtPlay Palette L’Amour, layers from file 4 of MultiMedia Hearts No. 3 and the Chinese symbols for the name of the garden I finished my page.

What’s great about using Anna’s templates is that the focus is on the photos yet the page arrangement is still artsy. In my mind this is the perfect combination: some of my best photos and an artsy page design.


One Normal Lens

I have a CSC, compact system camera. It’s like a DSLR in that I can change lenses. However, it doesn’t have a complex mirror system like DSLRs have. For my mirrorless, crop sensor Fuji X-T2, I have three lenses: an 18-135mm zoom, a 35mm prime and a 60mm macro. On this trip to California I decided to go light weight, taking just my little 35mm and 1:2 macro. My camera and the 35mm lens are both water resistant which proved to be an advantage since it rained 5 out of 7 days on this trip. Note: I did carry an umbrella.

On a crop sensor camera, a 35mm lens is equivalent to a 50mm on a full frame. That focal length is often called a normal lens in that it gives the perspective of what the human eye sees. I chose to challenge myself by using just my 35mm lens to capture both a landscape perspective and close ups of flowers at the Huntington Library. Most landscape photographers use a wide angle lens. Often, flowers are photographed with a 1:1 macro lens. Since I had neither with me, I experimented with my normal lens.

While my sister and I were there, we visited the camellia show and photographed the blooming camellias. I hope to create another flower page with some of the photos that I made of the camellias.

I also decided that I love my little 35mm lens and small camera body!

A Day with a Friend

As part of our celebration this week, my sister and I did something yesterday that we’ve never before done. We boarded a plane to fly up to San Francisco for lunch with my friend Adryane. There is nothing like flying somewhere to see a friend for just a day to make you feel extravagant on your birthday.

Adryane and her husband picked us up at the airport. It rained on our way into the de Young Museum.

However, inside, the photographs, paintings, sculptures and furniture were beautiful. There is a wonderful story about the man painting the fish. Adryane or I will have to share it on a scrapbook page soon.

It was still raining when we left the museum.

We walked by Boudin Bakery to watch the baker and to smell the bread.

Did I mention how good that bread smelled? We bought some bread shaped like turtles to take home.

Do you see the large ship through the arch? Rail cars used to come across the bay on a ferry and then into the city.

Next up on our walking tour, Pier 39, a Pokemon Go player’s dream location. Yes, I play Pokemon Go, just for the exercise of course. My doctor said walking is good for me. For those of you who play, I’m at level 33. I didn’t mind playing in the rain at all. In fact, I wrapped my umbrella in a plastic bag and placed it in my jacket pocket. I just gave up on my hair. Adryane shot this photo with her cell phone.

At the end of the pier, this inquisitive sea gull stayed in place nicely as I tried to capture him using the photographic rule of thirds and also keep Alcatraz visible in the background.

Although it rained all day, I had a most wonderful day with my friend Adryane!

Shopping and Eating

Today, Glenda and I went shopping. One place we stopped was Samy’s Camera because Glenda wants a small, uncomplicated camera that blurs the background. We found a couple of options. She made notes on her iPhone so she can do more research before actually buying.

After more shopping, we stopped at Tender Greens for lunch.

We had what they labeled a Harvest Salad with citrus and chicken on a lovely bed of real greens; no iceberg lettuce on this salad.

Today’s little treat was from See’s Candies, a store we don’t have in Nebraska. I used my macro lens for this photo. I don’t want to forget how healthy dark chocolate and almonds are for me.

I actually worked with the raw files for this post. I haven’t photographed in raw for quite a while as they generally always have to be processed. It was much quicker than I anticipated. I learned a nifty trick about Lightroom in which you shift click the whites and blacks in the develop module. It worked very well on these photos.

We’re flying up to San Francisco tomorrow to have lunch with my friend, Adryane.

A Challenge for Myself

I’ll be sharing more photography for the next week because I boarded a plane at 5:30am this morning to fly across country to celebrate my birthday with my twin sister. I have challenged myself to use primarily one lens, a 35mm focal length on my crop sensor Fuji X-T2 which is equivalent to a 50mm on a full frame camera. That focal length lens is often called a normal lens because it approximates what the human eye can see. I also brought my macro lens just in case I see any flowers.

For most of the trip this morning, all I could see were clouds until near the end of my flight. Even as we approached John Wayne Airport, the clouds were so thick I wondered how in the world the pilot would land in the rain on that notoriously short runway.

Once I arrived, Glenda and I went to her favorite place for lunch. They make the best salad dressing from white tea.

This afternoon, I went out to see what was blooming in Glenda’s garden. I think I need a steadier hand or a tripod to capture the tiny little lavender flowers.

I wasn’t going to eat this little chocolate bundt cake, but I did, everything but that little dollop of cream cheese frosting. Although I used an aperture of f/2.8, I made sure that dollop was in focus just so I would remember what I didn’t eat. Glenda and I took a walk afterwards. I think I’m going to be walking a lot this week.

Art Collection

On the Facebook Project 2016 page, Anna wrote, “Looking at a collection of pages together is a game changer. This is why it’s so important to print your work. Art as a collection is astounding and provides motivation for future projects. You can literally see your progress.” Well the finished book is finally here and I can see exactly what Anna means in terms of the power of a collection of pages. I am already thinking about where to go with a book project this year, especially what I want to focus on in terms of both my photography and another scrapbooking project.


I am convinced that as my photography improves so does my scrapbooking, that the two are intertwined artistically for me. So I enrolled in another photography course this year as well as Anna’s A Year of ArtPlay 2017. I am hoping to include more full page photos with smaller photos in another template on the opposing page as I did in my book, 2016 Photo Stories. Of course whether I can do that depends on the quality of my photos. This is why it is so important that I continue to grow as a photographer.


One key factor for a successful book project is organization. This is one of my favorite pages from 2016 Photo Stories, in part because I’ve had that Whirligig for nearly 40 years. The earliest photos on this page are from 1979. Even the photos of my grandchildren playing with the Whirligig span several years. I would like to include more photos from the past that show life’s continuity in my 2017 book project. This is where organization and my Lightroom catalog come into play.

As part of the process for deciding which of my favorite photos on a particular event/subject to use for a page, I have learned the value of adding photos to a collection. On the left side panel below the folders containing the originals of all my photos, there is a section titled Collections. Notice that I have a Collection Set entitled 2017 Book Project. Beneath that set I have begun adding subfolders for the photos that I am considering including in my 2017 book. I created those folders by clicking the + to the right of the Collection tab.

After importing photos into Lightroom, I tag them with keywords and flag my favorites. Then I drag the flagged photos that I think I might use for a scrapbook page into a folder, i.e. Face Painting. Once I begin a page, I can easily control click one of the photos to go back to the folder containing the originals within Lightroom if I think I need a different photo. These collections aren’t duplicate photos but smart previews of the original.

Page Design

While I know that new learning will impact my book during the year, I am also doing some preliminary planning for my book as I begin creating pages. First, I am going to use Anna’s templates again, like the two templates from Travel Template Album No. 2 that I used to create a draft of my first page for 2017. I really like the simple white frames, the fotoblendz masks and the journaling boxes. After participating in Anna’s Project 2016 class, I am finding it much easier to make adjustments on the templates to fit my photos. I love placing photos and elements across the gutter.

To further unify the pages, I will also add one simple title on each two page spread combining some of my favorite fonts, i.e. Molly Script, Amberlight, Boho Script, Hello Sunshine, Pillowbook, Sunkissed, VeryBerry Pro with a few serif and sans serif fonts, i.e. Archer and Mighty Type. I will continue to use 10 point Adobe Garamond Pro for journaling through the book.


I previously published two books through Blurb, 2015 Photo Stories and Summer 2014. Neither book was a lay flat design. I have learned that it is much more difficult to create two 12×12 pages that match across the gutter. You lose part of an image spanning two pages in a traditionally bound book. With Blurb, I sent the pages for publishing directly from Lightroom.

This year I created the 2016 pages as 24×12 two page spreads, anticipating that I would publish through Picaboo. I lost the ease of sending pages directly to Blurb through Lightroom, but Picaboo’s online software wasn’t difficult to use. It’s just a matter of dragging and dropping the two page spreads into position. I unfortunately had to deal with what they have determined is a glitch affecting some books in their lay flat design production. The printed copies of pages 22-23 were really off on the right margin. It looked like the framed photos had shifted an inch on the background. To solve that problem I had to upload a new file with a different file name and Picaboo reprinted the two copies I had ordered. One copy of the book was damaged in shipment but I received an email indicating that copy will be reprinted. Unfortunately, instead of a copy 2016 Photo Stories, a blank book arrived this afternoon. After calling the company immediately, the man indicated that are shipping another copy of 2016 Photo Stories. I just received an email confirmation indicating that a new copy is being shipped.

Note: I also ordered one copy through Costco because they now offer a lay flat option. The cover is laminated with a glossy film and the pages are printed on glossy photo paper. However, I prefer the matte finish from Picaboo. Costco did not trim my pages quite as well as Picaboo did. With a coupon code for 50% off the normal pricing, Picaboo was about $30 more expensive than Costco. I still think cost difference worth the expense.


Am I motivated by seeing my work published? Definitely! In fact, I am considering creating another book of photographs of flowers, another subject that I enjoy capturing, in addition to my year long family book project.

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