Right Here Right Now - August's Self Portraits

It's the last Friday of the month and time to share this month's self portraits with Urban Muser and {In the Picture}.

This month's optional theme was my life, right now - a great theme to capture the present environment or daily happenings in my life:

Enjoying the last weeks of summer:
215/365+1 Poolside #fromwhereisit #summer

Because fall baseball season has just started and I'm waiting on the bleachers:
217/365+1 Evening on the Bleachers #selfie

And I bought myself a new toy:
Friday Afternoon

Selfie Times Two

Took a short business trip to the birthplace of the Heath bar and ended up with an inadvertent selfie:
Origins of the Heath Bar Candy Company. Now Part of Hershey #illinois #antiques #sweet

The days have shortened and I'm now waiting in the car in the dark.
Waiting #selfie

As always, it's not too late to start taking self portraits. You can check out the other participants in this challenge in the flickr group.

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The Soundtrack of My Life – The Middle School Years, or Can You Smell the Loves Baby Soft

I started a series of posts labeled The Soundtrack of My Life – well, the first post was published almost 3 months ago, [I know, not really a series with one post] and life got in the way, but now I'm back with the 2nd post! Hopefully I’ll be able to finish this up before the end of the year! [Note I didn’t say which year….]

My first post focused on the music of my childhood - through 5th grade. So now, we enter .... The Middle School Years..... [cue angst filled music]

For some reason, those Middle school years are a complete blur – only certain random memories remain – like the fact that I didn’t wear shorts the entire time I attended Middle school. That I exhibited bouts of serious drama (OK, what pre-teen doesn’t?). That the desire to fit in (ie, conforming to social norms) started to impact what I wore, regardless of my true opinion (like clogs I couldn’t walk in and Loves Baby Soft – which really doesn’t smell that great).

So maybe I blocked all the music out – with the exception of 1980. That year yielded such hits as Don’t Stand So Close to Me by the Police and REO Speedwagon’s I’m Gonna Keep on Loving You.




Yeah, I'm gonna keep on loving you
Cause it's the only thing I wanna do
I don't wanna to sleep
I just wanna keep on lovin' you
Brings back memories, doesn't it?

I remember being in Art class with my best friend, Laura and her obsession with Bob Seger’s Against the Wind. What a great song and performance. Back then, recording artists were muscians first, performers second - without technologies like auto tune.


Laura also introduced me to ACDC and their Back in Black Album. Truthfully, the ACDC music wasn't my favorite and I only pretended to like the music because it was rebellious and what the other kids at school were listening to. So maybe it's the same with my kids' choice of music these days - some of the music they listen to isn't really music to me!

What music did you love in the late 70's and early 80's?

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New Toy: Olympus OM-D E-M5 First Shots

I've been considering the Olympus OMD EM-5 Micro Four Thirds camera ever since it was announced in early February. February was the month I was injured with a torn ACL which meant I had more time to surf the 'net, play with Pinterest, browse things on Ebay..... In fact, I think it was the month I purchased a lot of stuff through Amazon [things that make you go 'hmmmmm....'].



I pinned an image of that cute, retro-styled camera to my Pinterest Photography Gear Dreams Board... Then I had my ACL reconstructed, started physical therapy to rehab my knee, went back to work, the spring soccer season started, baseball season started and I basically forgot about the camera.

Well, things calmed down once summer hit and I started getting that "new gear itch" [I was looking through my Amazon recommendations around my birthday - darn those smart marketing programs!]. The black version of the camera was just starting to ship to customers and the performance reviews were highly positive. But no sign on the horizon for the retro silver model. I put the camera out of my mind.

I got diverted when word of a new Full Frame Nikon DSLR burst onto the rumor scene. The purported D600 might be priced under $2,000 and I was convinced that would be my next gear purchase.

Since then, I (obviously) changed my mind. Some of the reasons - I thought about how a Full Frame camera would fit into my current gear line up. I have invested in full frame lenses, so no problem there. But how would a Full Frame camera fit into my shooting habits and what would I gain from it? Maybe better low light performance. Maybe better images. A lot of maybes in a big camera body. I was still seriously considering the D600 when I started hearing grumblings from the Nikon community of focus problems with the new D800 and how terribly Nikon has handled the problem. I started thinking again about what I wanted to shoot, where I'd like to grow and what were some of the barriers to getting there.

I decided that the smaller camera would be the best for me - I want to do more "street shooting" and a smaller camera definitely helps in that area. I like the longer reach I get with my cropped sensor DSLR and I don't want another big camera to carry around. If I had two DSLR cameras, I would have to decide which DSLR to bring to an event - or bring them both with a full compliment of lenses! My knee and back would not like that!

OK, enough of my ramblings - here are some photos!
My actual camera.... with a kit lens - the 12-42mm f/3.5-5.6 II R ... and I love the retro styling...
222/365+1 New Toy #camera #oly #omd

Just learning how to use the camera:
Cattitude

I Like Pink

Trying for shallow DOF:
Sunny

Weathered

Shooting at the local farmer's market:
Selections

Conversations

Jewels

Looking for bokeh:
Looking for Bokeh
Probably not as good as my Nikon with a 50mm f1.8 lens. But not too bad, either. I'm sure I could get better bokeh if I purchased a faster prime lens (which, of course, is available).

My initial impressions - it's a fun, lightweight camera that can produce excellent images. Maneuvering around to change settings takes getting used to - it's different from what I'm used to with my Nikon, but it is certainly better than the high end compacts I've played around with (like the Canon G1X, which really sucks - things embedded in menus - yuck). I will definitely use this camera when I'm out around town, when I don't want to draw attention to myself. What I won't use it for - my kids' sports action shots. That's what the DSLR with my long zoom lens is for!

So it fits into my camera line up perfectly - I couldn't be happier about that!

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Looking Outside

It's been so crazy busy here that I haven't had time to post much, but when I saw today's Shutter Sister post on windows, I couldn't resist.

I love windows - they separate yet include, protect yet open up. They bring what's outside in and what's inside out. They reflect yet transmit. And most of all, they bring in that special light to illuminate the darkness.

Here's a recent photo I took of what I saw through the window one morning during a PiYo class (that's a Pilates - Yoga fusion class that just started taking).
228/365+1 Picture Window #prairie
Every side angle pose allowed me to take in the abundance of the earth and vastness of the sky.

Breath in, breath out. Enjoy the view outside.





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A Spot of Tea

I finally got the chance to try the tea my daughter bought for me when she was in France. In other words, it wasn't 80 degrees last Sunday morning. Instead, it was a refreshing, almost chilly 55 degrees F. A perfect morning for tea, toast and jam.

French Tea

The tea gets two thumbs up. I like my tea black and there's just a hint of sweetness with this caramel and vanilla flavored tea, even on its own. I hope I don't get too hooked on it, because then I'll have to mail order it from Paris!

Speaking of tea, here's a tea set my mother has displayed in her house.
Afternoon Tea

View from Above

Here's to cooler days and warm tea.

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Wordless Wednesday - The Jump

My Daughter Likes This One Better #horse #jump

Take Flight #horse #jump

Up and Over #horse #jump

Yeah, there aren't supposed to be words for Wordless Wednesday, but I can think of a few, like:

"Jump, Caesar, jump!"
"OMG, I hope she doesn't fall off" (those would be my thoughts)
"I didn't sign her up to jump a horse" (again, my thoughts)
"I hope this jump doesn't ruin my newly trimmed hooves" (Caesar's thoughts?)

Have a great Wednesday!

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Turkey Run State Park

Thanks to our friends and neighbors, we enjoyed a wonderful day trip out to Turkey Run State Park on Friday. This trip has been in the works for most of the summer - my friend, Jill, picked out the date, and I must say, she gets to pick next year's date - after months of unrelenting heat and humidity, we were blessed with a cool, overcast day for our adventure.

We started our day canoeing down the Sugar Creek River. Our group consisted of five families with a total of 24 people. Since there were small kids in the group, we opted for the shorter 4 mile excursion. We passed under three covered bridges, past the rock bluffs of Turkey Run State Park and spotted a group of bald eagles along the ride.

Field Tripping #canoe #bridge #water

After the canoe trip, we drove into the State Park for lunch and then the group split into a hiking group and a horse riding group. I was in the hiking group, and our trail took us up, around and through these massive rock formations - called Rocky and Bear Hollows.

Cavernous
Feeling so tiny amongst the rocks.

Feeling Squeezed

Details
Take time to enjoy the tiny details.
Layer Cake

After the hike, the kids swam around in the pool while several of us set up lawn chairs in the parking lot and relaxed. It felt like tailgating weather - just perfect.
Relaxing in the Parking Lot

On the way home, we stopped off for dinner at the Famous Beef House, treating ourselves to a wonderful steak dinner. No pictures of the steak, but here are their famous Beef House Rolls and jam:

Famous Rolls #food

It was a full but super fun day. I bet it becomes an annual event - a last summer day trip before school starts.

Turkey Run Fun Day
1. Between the Rocks, 2. Beached #canoe #water #river #turkeyrun #indiana, 3. Hit the Trail #indiana #turkeyrun #woodland, 4. Fan

Linked to Mary and Mosaic Monday.

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We'll Always Have Paris

I'm posting photos from my daughter's not so recent trip to France - she had the most awesome opportunity to travel there in June with some of her French class.

Of course, I was jealous, and even though I *could have* tagged along, it was probably better that I stayed at home to let her enjoy some independence. Plus, it was good for me to let her go on her own.

After a couple of days without any frantic texts from her, I determined that she was doing great, and I was filled with relief that she hadn't lost her passport or newly minted credit card. In a nutshell, I started to relax.

But I was still jealous - I've never visited the Gardens of Giverny:
Monet's Garden

Garden Path

Or Mont St. Michel
The Castle

I had to ask my daughter what this was a picture of - it's the sand that surrounds Mont St. Michel and I believe during high tide, much of this is covered by water. I can only imagine how amazing this is to view in person.
Flowing Sand

Of course, they enjoyed the sights of Paris:
Meet Me Under the Eiffel

Old and New

Starburst

Finally, here's my favorite photo - a trio of friends on the Love Lock Bridge, overlooking the Seine.
Familiar Scene

It's my favorite because it reminds me of my own Paris adventure, 23 years ago - a shot from that same bridge, almost the same vantage point. Deja Vue for real!
23 years ago

Yes, we'll always have Paris. I hope to return someday.

Linked to This or That Thursday.

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Hannah on Our Balance Beam

With the Olympics in full swing, it's hard not to be inspired by the feats the athletes display. Here is Hannah, channeling the gymnasts as she balances herself on our banister.

Balanced

I don't know how she or the gymnasts do it - I can't even stand on a 4" beam for a minute.

Today's post is my entry into I Heart Faces Pet Photo Challenge.
Photo Challenge Submission

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Why I Love Instagram

Say what you may about Instagram, but it is the only iPhone app I have stuck with consistently over the past two years. Part of the draw is the simplicity of the app, and I love being able to post photos of my day in real time. I love seeing my friends' daily activities, too.

But the simplicity of the filters and their ability to transform a photo is the main reason I love Instagram. First, the app allows me to take a photo first and then apply one of 18 filters. This is key for me, as I often shoot at a moment's notice and I don't like to be locked into a particular filter effect before snapping the photo. The filters can correct for a myriad of issues, like underexposure for a backlit photo. I like that I am limited to 18 filters - less choices means I choose and post quickly. I've been paralyzed before with some of the apps out there with a gazillion options. Again, I love how simple IG is.

Here's an example of how Instagram transformed a terrible photo I took while riding in the car. I didn't have time to set the exposure lock on the barn and it is completely dark.

SOOC barn

After cropping it on IG and applying the Rise Filter, it looks so much better!
Along the Road #barn


Another example, this time using the Walden Filter, which really highlights the sunflare in the photo. [I deleted the original photo, probably because I liked the IG version so much more]
It's A Perfect Morning #flowers #hydrangea

Sometimes the iPhone doesn't get the White balance quite right. This original photo of the evening skies in our backyard is too pink.
Sky, SOOC
In reality, the sky was lit in a weird, yellow orange color - the kind of sky that occurs after a small, but strong, storm front passes through. We got the clouds that evening, but no storm and no rain (which we desperately need).
So I applied the Lord Kelvin filter, which probably saturated the scene a bit too much, but this filter more accurately represented what I was seeing in the sky. Plus, it invokes so much drama.
Weird Yellow Sky Tonight. #clouds
The Rise, Earlybird, Walden and Hefe filters add warmth while Amaro and Hudson filters add coolness to your photo. Sierra adds a touch of pink, Valencia adds a touch of green. Depending upon your subject, the results are nice.

Which filters do I use the most? Probably Rise, Sierra and Lofi.
Do you use Instagram? What are your favorite filters? If you care to see more of my IG feed, my handle is @shirley319 and you can check it out on Webstagram, too.

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