Thursday, January 31, 2013

A little Napa get-a-way

Last weekend we spent a few days in the beautiful Napa Valley. Of course while we were there we tasted some wonderful wine and enjoyed some fabulous food, the perfect location for both.

Saturday we started with our favorite winery, Flora Springs. The vineyard is somewhat barren this time of year but oh, the potential!

Comparing the wood of French oak barrels and American oak  barrels

Travis was our host for the day. He did an outstanding job of pouring and pouring! (Lighting in the barrel rooms is a bit challenging).

Our second winery of the day was Stony Hill. A lovely family owned vineyard high in the hills. Our hostess was Mrs. McCrea, the proprietor. We enjoyed a barrel tasting in the very intimate barrel room then it was off to the tasting room.

We topped off the night with a lovely dinner at Market. Always one of our favorites. 

And then there was Sunday...

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

My first Beyond Beyond challenge

Kim Klassen’s Beyond Beyond class started January 23rd. Our first challenge was to spend some time shooting a still life.  We were to post our favorite or favorites. The top shot in the collage was my favorite from the exercise. The other two were  close runner-ups. We weren’t suppose to move the objects instead we were to move around them shooting from various angles. For me, it was a wonderful reminder to keep shooting beyond the obvious first shot and you may just very well find something special.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Mother Nature's light show

Tonight Mother Nature put on a light show. It's one of the advantages of living in the desert this time of year. Thankfully I was able to grab this shot with my iphone before the sun completely set. It was a wonderful way to end a lovely Sunday.

I hope your Sunday was colorful too.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Where did the week go?

Seriously, how did we get to the weekend so quickly. I must be getting old 'cuz I'm sounding like my mother.

Well anyway, another Beyond Layers challenge this week. Actually part deux. Another shot of the tulips to edit. This time I went for a grungier approach.

The original shot posted by Kim Klassen
I cropped the image a bit tighter.  Added two of Kim's textures, silence and jessica. Messed with the blend modes and opacity and masked off some of the texture from the flower. Once I was happy with the image I used RadLab to add a vignette. And this is my take...

I hope you are all enjoying your weekend.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Another Beyond Layers Challenge

Another Beyond Layers challenge, that's two in a row for me. I'm on a roll...
Kim Klassen posted this photo:

She asked us to edit it in our way. Oh boy, this WAS a challenge for me but I did give it a go.
This is my version, I am liking this new chalkboard trend. 

I cropped and desaturated the image. I extracted the flowers from the original black background and used Kim's chalk magic texture.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Kim Klassen's Cuppa Challenge

I'm a student in Kim Klassen's Beyond Layers class but honestly I haven't really participated. Oh, I read the e-mails, download the textures and watch the videos but I've never actually done anything with it. Thursday that changed! I signed up for the next version of the class, Beyond Beyond and decided it was time to actually DO something.

Thursday Kim presented us with a challenge. Take a shot with a cup, a book and an accessory then edit it with one or both of her textures, Chaos and Calamity. This is my attempt.

Cuppa Challenge
I desaturated my photo then added the Chaos texture at soft light blend mode, 80% opacity. I masked off the texture on the piece of candy. And yes, that is my undecorated Christmas tree in the background. I'm making progress, slowly.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Another shot from my macro practice. I decided to practice my "texture skills" on this one. I messed around with the saturation and used two of Kim Klassen's textures, Aurora and Laura. Finally I added a quote. I really enjoyed the process, something I need to do more of.

Are you are a fan of using texture on your photos? If so what types of shots do you use for texturing? I tend to lean towards flowers/nature but I am sure there are plenty of other subjects that will work just as well.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Practicing my macro photography

This weekend instead of un-decorating my house I spent time practicing my macro photography. Santa brought me a new camera for Christmas and I've been eager to spend some time with it. It's a bit different than my old one so I am working through a learning curve. Nailing focus in macro photography continues to be a challenge for me but I realize it's mostly a practice thing.

The flowers were just screaming for macro shots. The un-decorating just had to wait...

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Saturday night lights

No not football, Zoolights! What is Zoolights you ask? Oh its a big deal around here. The Phoenix Zoo is decorated with 3.6 million individual lights. There are almost 700 displays of various types. There are lights everywhere! It takes approximately 12-18 weeks to decorate the Zoo. The display is open to the public from Thanksgiving through the first week of January. It is a sight!

Does your town have a yearly light show? Is it one of your family traditions to attend? I encourage you to attend. I have a feeling this is going to be a new tradition for us.
"Big Blue" covered with 35,000 lights

Many animal shaped lights

Reflection of the lighted trees in the Zoo's lake

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Let the training begin

In a weak moment I volunteered to run in a marathon relay race. (details HERE). The training started today, holy crow! I get ONE day of rest a week for the next seven weeks. Crazy! What was I thinking? Of course it sounded like a great idea when I volunteered, now not so much!

Does that ever happen to you? You raise your hand to volunteer and when the time comes you have second thoughts?

I won't back out because I am part of a four man team and I don't want to let them down. And I need a jump start to lose these holiday pounds I packed on. I have a feeling I'll be spending plenty of quality time with my ice pack...

Post nine miles (swearing I would never do it again)

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


One Little Word. 

Some years I choose a word and some years I don’t. This year I’ve decided to participate.  A few words came to mind but I finally settled on MINDFULNESS, a good reminder to live in the moment and to appreciate it. I am all for planning ahead but sometimes I find myself thinking about the next thing on the agenda instead of enjoying the moment. 

Have you chosen a word for 2013? Are you struggling with your word? Ali Edwards has a very comprehensive list on her blog. You can find it HERE 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Jumping In

Happy New Year! 

Welcome to my first ever post on my first ever blog.

I’m sure it’s pretty clear I have no idea what I am doing but I’m hoping to figure it out as I go. I’ve been toying with the idea of starting a personal blog for a while but creative writing is not my strong suit (probably very apparent) but during the holidays this fortune came my way and I figured why not.

Be on the alert for new opportunities

So I'm starting off this new year by stepping out of my comfort zone with this new venture. 

Are you starting something new for this new year? Or maybe re-starting something? 
Let's take advantage of the "clean slate" together. 

Thanks for stopping by.