Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Just Playing Around

I though I would work with this image since I'll be "hanging around" there this weekend. In May my highschool friends and I went to New York to celebrate our birthdays. While there we walked across the Brooklyn Bridge. I think that's one of the best things to do in the city. We took the subway to Brooklyn, ate at a nearby diner, and then started our walk across the bridge. This time I payed attention to the markings on the bridge indicating where to walk and where to ride a bike. Tom and I made that mistake several years ago when we weren't paying attention and just wandered aimlessly going from side to side, just in awe of the view. Finally, a local on a bike mentioned in passing that we were on the bike path. So nice of him.

Anyway, here is one of the images I took without making any adjustments.

After playing around with filters, I went to "artistic," and clicked on "posterize edges." In the last step, I brightened it and worked on saturation.

Notice how the bricks are emphasized...kinda cool.

Can't wait to get that shot under the bridge with Manhattan in the background. Hope it doesn't rain. Have a safe Labor Day.

Monday, August 25, 2008

It's All About Shutter Speed

These two images are posted without enhancements. They were taken two weeks ago in Florida right after two days of rain, so there was still plenty of breeze. I wanted to catch the breeze on the sea oats, and to do that I needed to slow the shutter speed. Both images were taken around 7:30 in the evening, and as usual, I didn't have the tripod.

The shutter speed on the first image was 0.3 seconds and the ISO was 800. The shutter speed was too fast to catch the movement of the sea oats in the breeze.

I like how this image caught the breeze. The shutter speed was 0.8 seconds, a little slower than the first one. The ISO was 400. With a slower shutter speed in this setting, the ISO of 800 let in too much light in which blew it out. I didn't waste your time by showing it.

Another lesson here. If I had taken the tripod to the beach that evening, I could have really, really slowed the shutter, and there would have been little or no camera shake. But I didn't and I can live with that. Now I just have to do some enhancements and it'll be ready to mat.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

He Woke Up !

I couldn't stand it any longer, so after dinner I armed myself with a giant squirt bottle, ready to dislodge that darn frog. My dear friend, Doris, who lives in my hometown, emailed me today after reading my last blog. It seems that she was so distraught that she googled information regarding frogs and methods used to, let's say, motivate them to move on down the road. She recommended that, perhaps, I could use a little salt water. She had read that frogs don't like salt water.

Now, I don't feel one way or another about frogs, but I don't want to be responsible for a frog having an anxiety attack on my property. But I thought I would use another squirt or two to get him moving. Relax, I didn't use salt water, only regular tap water from the kitchen faucet.
Let's just say I got his attention. Out came his legs and he started moving up. Sorry about the quality of this image, but I was juggling a camera and a squirt bottle. Also, this was taken around 8:30 P.M. and the light wasn't the best.

As you can see, the little ... amphibian left a deposit on my door.

At this point he is going nuts. This is war! I think he finally figured out that the only way out was to turn around and face downward. Notice my husband in the background, talking on the phone and totally oblivious to what was going on three feet away?

Good night, frog. I hope you're gone in the morning.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Kermit's Cousin Is Moving In

Yesterday when I opened the back door to go outside, I was greeted by this frog. I can't remember why I was going outside in the 90 degree heat, certainly not to sweep the patio, but probably to sit and watch the weeds grow. This image makes the frog appear larger than it actually is. I noticed today that it had moved up about 4 inches and as I got closer to take this shot, I also noticed that it might be wedged between the screen and the slats on the door. Worried that the poor thing might die right there in my door, I quickly got a stick and wedged it under the other slat to loosen the screen. No movement. I even got a spoon and dropped water on it, thinking that would help him slide down and hop away or leap away. That's right, rabbits hop and frogs leap. Still no movement. I mentioned my conundrum this morning in my Bible study, but they really didn't have any answers as to how to humanely remove it. My niece (CT) offered a solution by putting my hand underneath and prying it out with a stick. I really can't stand the thought of that cute, little slimy thing falling in my hand. I guess I could cut the screen, but that wouldn't be the fiscally responsible thing to do. I really don't want to buy a new door and then pay someone to install it because my husband is not Bob Vila. God love him.

So I wait...hoping that he will just slide down and leap off, instead of going to his GREAT REWARD in my door.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Then and Now

Spending time on the beach gave me lots of time to think. Dangerous...really. I needed a break from reading a book my sister sent me, called Luncheon of the Boating Party by Susan Vreeland. It's a wonderful story about Renoir's life in Paris in the 1880's. But, I'm a lazy reader, so the plot has to be filthy or scary to keep me turning the pages. This is neither, but it is so well written and the story is so authenic, that I'm actually learning something about the Impressionists. So, as I read this book, I rewarded myself by taking breaks. Well, this was one. I started comparing how I spend time at the beach now with how I spent time at the beach then.

This shot was taken at Myrtle Beach in the 60's. We spent four summers there working at various restaurants and just livin' the life. This was our first summer. What fun!

Here's my list of comparisons:

  • suntan lotion -then- baby oil and iodine, now-any suntan lotion with SPF of 45
  • things to take to the beach -then-towel and lotion, now-towel, lotion, chair, umbrella, book, magazine, and cooler
  • beach reading-then-Peyton Place, Valley of the Dolls, Cosmo, now-Dorthea Benton Frank, Anne Rivers Siddons, Grissom, and Patterson
  • towel position-then-right smack in front of the pavilion, or near the lifeguard stand, now- as far away from people as possible
  • beverage-then- Pepsi, now- wine, maybe a little water
  • footware-then-Dr. Scholls, now- cheap flip flops
  • hours spent on the beach-then-from 10-2..had to go to work around 5, now- as long as we want
  • exercise on the beach-then-never! now-walk when I feel like it
  • bathroom at the beach-then-in the ocean, now-in the condo

Well, that's my list. Feel free to send me any of your ideas, and I'll add them to this post. Click on comments at the bottom of this post, and you'll be able to add yours.

FYI: At the top are me and Mary; middle-Barbara and Karen, hanging on the sides, Linda and Penny; front- Connie.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Same, But Different

Somewhere I heard the quote, "Sometimes I just sit and think, and sometimes I just sit." How about, "Sometimes I just fish and think and sometimes I just fish"? I can't remember where I heard it. It was probably more than 30 years ago, and it's just now coming out of my head.

I saw the man in the bottom image last week in Florida. He reminded me of an image I took two years ago on the Mediterranean coast of Italy. Wonder if they were fishing and thinking or just fishing.

Santa Rosa, Ventimiglia, so far apart, so much alike. Deep.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

It Never Rains in California, But It Does in Florida

Here we are at Santa Rosa Beach in Florida. Gloria and I drove down here to the gulf on Monday.We were invited by Evelyn to come and spend a few days at her new beach house. The three of us used to work in the same county...all of us school administrators- Evelyn, high school (left), Gloria, middle school (right), and me, elementary. We became good friends when we had to go on those awful administrative retreats where among other things, the top dogs tried their best to motivate us.

Even though it has rained every day, we have managed to get to the beach every evening for happy hour.

Because of the rain, we've had plenty of time to explore the area. This is my first trip to the gulf, so this is all new to me. In the past three days, we have been to Seaside, Watercolor, Blue Mountain, Destin and Rosemary Beach. The image above is the house from the movie, Truman, located in Seaside. I took lots of shots of the houses in the area..really cute...reminds me a little of those houses on Balboa Island.

One final shot of the beach. Going home tomorrow. Had a great time. Thanks, Evelyn!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Jennifer Comes For A Visit

This week, my niece from California, Jennifer, came for a short visit. In September, she will be starting her second year teaching fourth grade in Brooklyn, New York. I say that she's from California because that is where she was born and raised, and where she will eventually end up! I know she loves NYC, but we all know the weather in NYC doesn't compare to southern California.

The reason for her visit was to see Tom and me, but really to observe several veteran teachers whom I think are fantastic at the school where I worked for many years. As Eloise would say, "Here's the thing of it..." Jennifer, along with hundreds of other first year teachers didn't get to experience the first of the year chaos because many of the colleges hadn't started their fall semester. By the time they are given their student teaching assignments, public schools have already been in session for a month or so, and the students have already been informed of the rules, consequences, routines, etc. As a result, many of these first year teachers are thrown in their classrooms with no idea of what to expect that first day, first week, or the first month. Harry Wong and Ron Clark are wonderful resources, but actually being able to experience the beginning of school is so important. Some colleges do have what is called, "September Experience," that actually places student teachers in public schools for the first two weeks, before they begin their student teaching. Not Fordham.

The school year starts early in the south and in the north, specifically NYC, they start the day after Labor Day. This worked out great for us because Jennifer was able to observe and meet with several experienced, creative and amazing teachers. She arrived last Tuesday evening and we were at school early Wednesday morning. Wednesday was the last day of preplanning; the students were coming Thursday. Naming each teacher who helped her is going to be dangerous because I know I'll forget someone. Jennifer spent most of her visit with Mary D. Debbie B. also met and shared with her as well as Martha S., Sammie C. and Tracy. Cathy C., the math coach gave her a few resources and Karen P. showed her the computer lab. Patti C. took the time to gather up tons of activities and gave her tips on how to use them. The wonderful thing about this school is that ANY TEACHER would have been willing to stop what they were doing and help her.

Thursday was the first day of school for the students. Mary D. agreed to allow Jennifer to spend the morning in her classroom. We made it to school a little before the bell rang. I was hoping that they would have the morning announcements up and running, and they did! I was in the hall when I heard "It's A Beautiful Morning," play. I ran to Mary's room and watched the students do the announcements on BTV. The gifted teacher, Wana S. does an excellent job with BTV. Every school should have morning announcements on TV. The students love it and they listen. Thank you Wana! Jennifer was able to observe Mary's first encounter with the students. Really, this was the second time she met the students because "Meet and Greet" was earlier in the week...great idea, it soothes the nerves of the students and the parents. Jennifer was amazed at how much time was spent on the rules and procedures. She was also surprised to hear, "Yes, ma'am," and "no, ma'am." Southern manners...aren't they great? In fact, she told me one of the students in Mary's class said "yes ma'am" to her...her first time! Another thing that surprised Jennifer was the absence of noise in the hallways. Students enter the building quietly with little or no talking. Students do talk during lunch and some times that area gets extremely loud, but the monitors have it under control.

We left school during lunch. I think she was up to her eyes with ideas. Sharlene, a former "partner" in school met us for a relaxing lunch at a nearby restaurant. There we shared what Jennifer observed and what she wanted to use in her classroom. Mary's idea of tickets seem to be the #1 idea. Consistency and enforcement of rules, as well as positive reinforcement should be the first thing taught and discussed with students at the first of the year. Unfortunately, first year teachers are bombarded with curriculum and lesson plans, so they seem to concentrate on them, instead of "laying down the law." Okay, I'll get off my soapbox.
Martha's bulletin board idea was also a hit. Dollar Store, here we come!

That evening my friends, Penny and Karen came over for dinner. Barbara stopped in earlier for a quick visit. Karen stayed a little later, talking with Jennifer about Smart Boards. They searched the internet trying to find out the difference in Smart Boards, Promethean Boards and Activboards. Jennifer is one of a few teachers in her school who has an Active Board in her classroom. Karen, being a math coach and a veteran teacher has lots of ideas and was sharing them with her. Jennifer used this technology at Fordham and loves it. Another tool that Karen told Jennifer about was the Magic Ruler. Knowing Jennifer, she'll get right on it and figure out a way to get them. Thank you, Karen.

Before flying home to California on Friday, we did some last minute shopping. The first and most important stop was Lakeshore...a great store for anything to do with education. We bought some cut-outs in an ocean theme for her to use in her classroom. Then we went to Casabella, where I work a few hours a week and finally, Borders. I broke down and bought a book on Windows Movie Maker. I surrender. I need help.

I really want to thank everyone at Brown for all of your help. All of the teachers who I mentioned in the third and fourth paragraph, I can't thank you enough. Jocelyn, the principal, Lorraine, the assistant principal were so welcoming. Jocelyn, you didn't have to let us come and observe, but you did. What a great principal you are! Thanks also to the office staff. Nancy, you are always so welcoming and Jan thanks for giving me a copy of an invoice of an idea that we want to use! Although I'm no longer a part of your school, I have wonderful memories of my years there. You have shown Jennifer just how great a school can be. Look out Brooklyn!

I hope all of you have a wonderful school year. I know Jennifer's will.

Yes, I put her on MARTA. Hey, she's ridden subways all over the world. What's one more?

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

sand is not my friend

I didn't realize how good I had it shooting under the pier. Sure, the people were starting to drive me crazy, but at least I was in the shade, out of the sun and out of the wind. I had done all I could do under the pier...it was time to change locations.

After packing the equipment in the car, I drove south towards Ocean Drive. I love this site because of its accessibility and the beautiful vista. The dunes are smooth and the fence is sturdy and still standing. Having a sturdy fence was important because it had to support the golf bag with lots of clubs.

I've taken shots of golf clubs before. My California sister, Janie, gave me the idea when she accompanied me to last October's Art in the Park. Because Myrtle Beach has hundreds of golf courses, she thought tourists and even locals would be interested in purchasing images that had ANYTHING to do with golf. She was right.

For this shoot I had more clubs and a bag....a very old and stained bag. Stan, a friend of mine whom I've known since college, lent me the bag and the clubs after much begging. It took a lot of effort on his part because he had to send them from Richmond. Of course, I, the stupid girl who knows nothing, wanted him to bring them with him on his next fight to Atlanta. It sounded logical to me, but he would rather pack them with nasty cloths to keep them from breaking, in a make-shift box that looked like its previous use had been to transport cow manure. I'm being kind. Let's just say it was obvious they weren't packed by FedEx.

This shoot had more challenges. It took me a little longer to get set up because of the extra equipment. The sun was much brighter and it was windy. One more thing, people were everywhere. I took over 40 shots, trying to take them between the masses taking their perfunctory morning walk. Looking at the image on the left, you can tell I wasn't fast enough.

They say patience is a virtue..I got the shot!

I tried to get creative in the later shots. It was important to show the wooden shafts and the names on some of the heads. The names of the drivers were, thistle, dundee irons, and niblick (made in Scotland) and the wooden driver was a H.J. Vallette. My instructions were not to clean the clubs...it seems that would affect their value. No problem, you don't have to tell me twice!

Here are two tips for shooting on the beach on a sunny, windy day. Tip #1. Because I was shooting in the sun, I used a new device called the Hoodman HoodLoupe Professional. If you have taken shots in the sun, you know how hard it is to see your results in the LCD monitor. This enables you to see your shot by placing the device on top of the LCD monitor. It sure beats using your hand or trying to find a shady spot. Tip #2. Keep your camera backpack closed. I had to learn that the hard way. It looked like a monsoon had hit the beach. I'm still picking sand out of the compartments. The good thing is that I didn't need to change the lens, so at least I didn't get sand in the camera or in the other lens. Speaking of changing lenses, Tip #3. comes from my guru, Tom in North Carolina. It's not limited to shooting on the beach, it's for anywhere, anytime. He says, "Changing lenses is no problem at all..just set the camera up on the tripod, then change the lens one at a time...just have the cap in hand then press the release button....." My problem with changing lenses is having only two hands. I can take the lens off with one hand and put the cap on with the other one. At that point the camera is lensless (my new word). Stuff can fly in the body at that time, so I have to be fast. So I bend over, keeping one hand on the body of the camera as I put the lens in the bag and get the other one out. This is a real problem if I follow tip #2. and keep the camera backpack closed. Like Tom said, "just a little pre-planning does the trick in most cases." I've got to remember that.