Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year

Botanical Gardens - Washington, D.C.

I've decided that instead of thinking of resolutions for the coming year I'm going to simply sit with this new joy I have found with photography and editing during 2011. I'm still grappling with what direction to go in as I learn these skills with my camera and PSE, but I will let my creative spirit guide me. More and more, I feel as if she is leading me into the more artistic side of photography. I love taking photos of people and landscapes, but what really makes my heart sing is the idea of merging my art work, poetry, and/or photos in PSE. I hope to continue down this path in the new year.

Over at Shutter Sisters today, they suggested posting a favorite photo of 2011. I started going through all my Flickr photos and came across this photo of me taken in July. By no means is it my favorite photo, but when I see this image I know that I was there at the Botanical Gardens not only as a "tourist", but as a photographer. My skills were (and still are) so limited, but my visit there that day was with the pure intention of taking photos with this new toy I knew nothing about, but which made my heart so happy it sang. It symbolizes the beginning of a journey that I can't wait to continue on. The camera bag strap over my shoulder makes me smile, as does the memory of that day and the excitement I felt as I took hundreds of photos. I'm still purely an amateur, but this world of photography is a place I never want to leave. I wish you all a very Happy 2012 filled with peace and new creative discoveries!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

'Twas the Night Before Christmas

'Twas the night before Christmas

To anyone who visits, have a very Happy Holiday, and a 2012 filled with peace and happiness. Our company arrives tomorrow, so I'll be away from my blog for a few days. Best wishes to you and yours!

Friday, December 23, 2011

'Tis the Season

'tis the season

I love the candles and Christmas lights that fill our house each holiday season...if only this particular candle had been lit when I thought to take this shot! (lol) This is my submission for the final day of the "12 Days of Textures"...I did it! It was so much fun to participate. This texture is called "Friday" and I used in in Soft Light at 75%.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

All Is Bright

All is bright

This is my submission for Day 11 of the "12 Days of Textures" at Kim Klassen's blog. I was having a tough time finding a photo for this beautiful texture, and finally I decided to invert it which worked well with this shot of our front yard. I then used it at Difference/52%. Only one day left of the 12 Days of Texture - it has been a lot of fun! I'm happy I managed to participate every day despite the craziness of this week.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Williamsburg weathervane

This is my submission for Day 10 of the "12 Days of Textures" at Kim Klassen's blog. Her texture today is "Providence" - it's such a beautiful shade of green, one of my favorite colors! I needed a break from Christmas images, so today I'm using a photo I took in Williamsburg last month. What a great town to capture images in! I used Kim's texture in Overlay at 100%, and also used several filters in RadLab (including Maple, which I absolutely love for its dreamy effect).

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Blue Christmas

Blue Christmas

This is my submission for Day 9 of the "12 Days of Textures" at Kim Klassen's blog. Her texture today is "Lola". My apologies for posting this in a mad dash...only 5 shopping days till Christmas! I'm thankful to Kim for this daily creative exercise during this hectic week. It's the one time splurge I'm allowing myself each morning. Happy Tuesday to all of you!

Monday, December 19, 2011

One Kind Word

One kind word

This is my submission for Day 8 of the "12 Days of Textures" at Kim Klassen's blog. Her texture today is "Storm". The wise words are a Japanese proverb...Kindness takes no effort, and means so much to the person receiving it.

Sunday, December 18, 2011


Christmas Glow

This is my submission for Day 7 of the "12 Days of Textures" at Kim Klassen's blog. I used her "Wonderful Magic Stars" lovely! At screen mode, it gives a really unique effect to any image. This is my snowman globe that lights up our dining room every year.

Saturday, December 17, 2011



This is my submission for Day 6 of the "12 Days of Textures" at Kim Klassen's blog. Her texture today is called "More Magic"'s beautiful! I used it at Lumonisity/40%, and I also applied the Cutout effect to my image just slightly - at 9%. It made things look a little more crisp. I then tweaked it in RadLab, using the filters Oh Snap!, Prettyizer, and Grandma's Tap Shoes at 75% (one of my all-time favorites). Only 8 shopping days left till Christmas! I'm done shopping, but now it's time for meal planning and "house spiffying" before the company arrives. One day at a time, right? To my visitors: I wish you a lovely day.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Glow

Christmas Music Box

This is my submission for Day 5 of the "12 Days of Textures" at Kim Klassen's blog. The texture today is called "Zuzu". I used it in Overlay mode. It's getting harder with each day to find time for photo play, but I'm determined! Have a wonderful day. I love this music box...another treasured memento of my time in Germany many years back.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas in the Heart

It's Christmas in the Heart

This is my submission for Day 4 of the "12 Days of Textures" at Kim Klassen's blog. The texture today is called "Edward"...I used it first in Soft Light mode at 100% and then with Multiply at 100%. The backdrop is actually a piece of cardboard from a shipping box. I need to start learning indoor photography, and finding the proper backgrounds for my image are a challenge. Any tips or advice are warmly welcomed! I liked this quote by W.T. Ellis, so I added it to my image. Have a good day, everyone...take a few minutes to just stop and breathe during this hectic holiday season. (I need to heed this advice myself, which is why I typed it out in the hopes it would register in my brain!)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Bubble Lights

Bubble Light

One of my happiest memories when I was a kid growing up was the day we trimmed the tree. In my house, it was a family affair...we would fix hot chocolate and my parents, sister, and I would listen to Christmas music while hanging each ornament on the tree. I can vividly remember the excitement of waiting while my Mom and Dad put the lights on the tree. And the best moment of all was when my Mom would plug in our one string of "bubble" lights and we would wait those few minutes until they started bubbling. I loved those bubble lights...they were old and had been passed on to my parents by a family member. Nothing marked the start of the holidays like that moment when I would see that first simmer of a bubble in those glass tubes. I would squeal with delight when it happened, and my sister and I would giggle together excitedly. But like anything else, the years passed, I grew older, and one year the bubble lights were gone...they had stopped working and had been thrown away. At the time, it was barely noticed by me...I was no longer a kid and was too caught up in my young life to give it much thought.

A few years back, I stumbled upon this bubble night light while shopping, and bought it instantly as my heart flooded with the memories of our childhood tree. I plug it in every season now and it bubbles throughout the holidays as a the light that is my family, of special moments spent together, of memories that will never die. This is my submission for Day 3 of the "12 Days of Textures" at Kim Klassen's blog. The texture we must use today is called "Cosmo" and it's beautiful! I used it in Vivid Light mode to make the words pop, and also tweaked it in RadLab.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Deck the Halls

Christmas Bear

Here is my submission for Day 2 of "12 Days of Textures" at Kim Klassen's blog. Kim's free texture today is called "Annabella". I'm really grateful to her for giving us 12 free textures, and for being the person who sparked my love of photography! I took her free "Skinny Mini" class that introduced me to Photoshop Elements - that's where it all began for me several months ago. This cute teddy is tucked with some other trinkets into a bag made out of an old quilt...I bought him years ago at a craft show. Craft shows seem to be a thing of the past in our area. There was a time when there were craft shows on every corner during the holiday season; it was always fun to go to them. Nowadays, with this economy, I rarely see one advertised. I think most craft artisans have gone to Etsy; I'm happy I can at least still go online to look for hand made things!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Here Comes Santa Claus

Here Comes Santa Claus

Two posts in one day? Not normally, but I just discovered that Kim Klassen is doing a "12 Days of Textures" prompt at her lovely blog and I'd like to try and participate. Please visit her blog and think about participating! Kim's texture for Day 1 is "Lilly", which I've used here. I extended the texture slightly beyond the photo to remove the border because it didn't mesh right with Santa's beard. This Santa is my most prized Christmas decoration...I bought him in East Berlin back before the Communist wall came down. I was only 19 years old when I made that trip through Checkpoint Charlie, and being on the Communist side of Berlin was surreal. The best way I can describe it is that West Berlin was modern day technicolor with surround sound; East Berlin was a vintage, black and white silent movie. The difference in energy between the two places was eerie, and I'll never forget it.

Big Red Bow

Big Red Bow

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...I captured this shot while walking in Williamsburg, VA. Walking the historical streets and seeing the pretty greenery and red bows on the lamp posts definitely puts me in the holiday spirit! This is my submission for this week's The Creative Exchange.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Jolly Happy Soul

snowman ornament

I finally took some close-up photos of my ornaments last night. I loved this one the most...he looks so sparkly on the tree. The holiday season has me running around more than usual and it's hard to find time to take pictures. But I'm trying! This is my submission for this week's "I Heart Macro" at Studio Waterstone.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Oh Christmas Tree

Oh Christmas Tree

I get so much joy out of our Christmas tree each season, from the decorating of it to the nightly lit presence of it in our living room. Each and every ornament has sentimental value, especially the ones hand made by my daughter...there's the telescope-shaped one made out of felt that she made for her Dad when she was 4, and the mouse made out of acorn caps and a walnut half that she made in first grade. There's the snowman made out of the tongue depressor, and the reindeer made out of wooden beads and pompoms, with bent pipe cleaners for antlers. There are all of the ballet dancer ornaments we bought her during her many years of dance, and the annual polar bear/penguin ornaments that our dog, Ruby, buys for her "big sister". Then there are the Disney ornaments we happily picked out with each visit to Disney World, and my German ornaments I bought when I lived in Heidelberg at 19. Forty years later, I still carefully unpack them from their boxes and hang them on the tree with fondness. How could one not smile when looking at these precious things? And as I hang each ornament on the tree, the moments come back to me.

I know there are people who have "theme" trees each year, with every ornament carefully picked to coordinate with the color scheme. Everything is perfectly put together, and they are beautiful. Ours is eclectic and messy, with ornaments in various colors and states of beauty or disrepair. But what it lacks in aesthetics, it makes up for with love...precious trinkets of love, twinkling at me on a winter evening, reminding me to stop and take a breath while my heart overflows with memories. This is my submission for Photo Art Friday at Pixel Dust Photo Art.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Snowman Collection


Do you have a Christmas collection at your house? In our family, we have a snowman collection that seems to grow with each passing year. Every year, I say, "This has got to stop," and every year I find myself buying one more snowman that's too cute to pass up. I keep them all together in one spot in our dining room, but there's not much space left on my dining room hutch. They've taken over every square inch, but it sure is festive. This snowman sits in one of our dining room chairs, and I loved the texture captured in this photo. This is my submission for both Texture Thursday at The Daily Wyatt and This or That Thursday at Deb Duty Photography. Please visit their blogs to see some wonderful photos!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Let It Snow

let it snowglobe

One of my favorite parts of the Christmas season is when my daughter and I pull out our holiday decorations. She gets so excited each year to make our house look festive and it alway marks the beginning of our celebration of Christmas. These moments have become treasured memories to me as we unpack the boxes together and set everything out. Each decoration has a memory that makes me smile. Even though she's in college now, I'm grateful that she's still home on Thanksgiving weekend so we can do this together. This is my photo submission for Kim Klassen's Texture Tuesday. I used her texture "trust" and also used several filters in Radlab (which I purchased as an early Christmas present on Black was on sale, so how could I resist?).

Monday, December 5, 2011

Pretty in Pink

pretty in pink

My daughter loves shoes, and these pretty heels are her favorites. She was happy to model them for me so I could capture this shot. This is my submission for I Heart Faces, which focuses this week on feet instead of faces.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Holiday Treats

baking time

This is my submission for this week's "I Heart Macro" at Studio Waterstone. I'm baking holiday treats for the neighbors today...the house smells so good. I've only eaten two cookies so far! That's good, right? :)

Friday, December 2, 2011

One Step at a Time

This is my submission for Photo Art Friday at Pixel Dust Photo Art. Believe it or not, this is a close-up of a step in the historical part of Williamsburg, VA. Since all of the buildings in this area are historically accurate, I was very curious as to why this small "panel" was embedded into each step. It looks like some sort of copper that has been tarnished. It was wet with morning dew and had amazing color to it. For the PDPA challenge, I tried to add a layer with writing, but then use a mask to only reveal parts of it on the image. I loved the effect...the texture I used was Bonnie's "Ma Belle 2". It's gorgeous and one of my favorites!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Up Close and Personal

Brown Leaves

As someone new to photography, I'm still finding out who I am behind the lens. I've been feeling a bit self-conscious that so many of my photos are close-ups of leaves. Then it dawned on me...close-ups are where my eye leads me the most. I get the most joy out of photos when they are of everyday things magnified...zoomed in on so one can notice their beautiful textures and colors. This is likely who I am as a photographer. With that said, here is yet another close-up of some gorgeous brown leaves against a blacktop backdrop (say that ten times fast). This is my submission for both Texture Thursday at The Daily Wyatt and This or That Thursday at Deb Duty Photography. If you want to submit your own photos, check them out! They both have beautiful blogs.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


bare tree

The leaves are gone and the trees look so vulnerable, as if they're mourning the inevitable onset of winter. Yet, still they stand, majestic and beautiful...their roots anchored strongly in the earth, their limbs reaching earnestly towards heaven, their heavy ribcages filled with wish rings to hold them till spring. I am grateful for these beautiful beings of nature, who always bring me peace and comfort when I walk among them. There's just something about trees that I can't explain...they have a presence, a sacredness, that slows my breathing and calms my busy brain. This is my photo submission for Kim Klassen's Texture Tuesday. I used a couple of textures, one of which was Kim's "Life's Good". I also used Pixel Dust Photo Art's texture "Faded Fresco".

Monday, November 28, 2011

Laugh Out Loud

laugh out loud

This is my submission for I Heart Faces...their theme this week is "bust a gut", which means posting a photo of someone laughing out loud. I loved this capture of my daughter because she was genuinely cracking up when I snapped the picture! The balance is off because of that big 'ol tree, but the beautiful, laughing face and twinkling eyes make up for it.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Hydrangea's Last Hurrah


My hydrangea is hanging on to its last bit of color...the leaves are turning brown and starting to skeletonize, which I think is beautiful. I couldn't resist going out with my camera to get some last shots before winter officially arrives. This is my submission for this week's "I Heart Macro" at Studio Waterstone.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Peaceful Pond

Peaceful Pond

This is my submission for Photo Art Friday at Pixel Dust Photo Art. We went to Prince William Forest Park a couple weeks ago and I captured this shot of a pond down one of the many paths through the woods. The silence was wonderful; there was no one there but us, not a single car anywhere or any sounds of traffic. It's rare to experience that where we live. I played around with this photo and added a couple of textures plus some extra filters in RadLab. I like the rustic's so much fun to simply experiment in Photoshop Elements to see what you end up with. I could do it 24/7!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving

For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

To anyone who reads this, have a wonderful Thanksgiving! (photo taken in Williamsburg, VA, with a layer added for texture). This is my submission to Texture Thursday at The Daily Wyatt.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Ivy and Brick

ivy and brick

There's just something about the combination of ivy and brick...they look so beautiful together. I think it's the contrast of the smooth, green leaves against the backdrop of the rough blocks. Round against square, cool against warm...they say opposites attract, right? This is my photo submission for Kim Klassen's Texture Tuesday. The prompt today was to use any of her textures. I used "Mayzee" on this photo - Color Burn at 45%. I then further tweaked it in RadLab. My free trial of RadLab ends in 5 days...I'm hoping to buy it as an early Christmas gift! I have grown to love it and can't imagine processing my photos without it.

Monday, November 21, 2011



I was lucky enough to be in Williamsburg, VA yesterday and the weather was perfect. One last day of 70 degree temperatures while I strolled through the town snapping photos left and right. This tree was so stunning and majestic, reaching her bare limbs to the vast, blue sky. This is my first submission to The Creative Exchange, a great site that invites you to share your "photos from the heart" every Monday.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Coppers and Rusts


This is my submission for this week's "I Heart Macro" at Studio Waterstone. It seems every photo I'm posting lately is of leaves, but what can I say? They are in large supply right now. Each leaf is transforming from brilliant hues to faded coppers and rusts. But anything with age always seems to have more character, don't you think? Just like people...their physical beauty may fade as they age, but their spirits and wisdom ripen to a patina that resonates.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

I Love Color

Nothing makes my creative heart sing more than color and texture. I took this photo right outside in my yard - some fallen leaves were strewn across an electrical plate embedded in the grass, and I couldn't resist the pattern. The fun part, of course, was playing with the photo in Photoshop Elements to make everything pop. This is my submission for Photo Art Friday at Pixel Dust Photo Art. Our task this week was to play around with a "tried and true" technique and share the steps. Since I'm just learning, I don't really have a standby technique yet. However, for this image I used the texture "Feelings" from Pixel Dust Photo Art - Color Burn at 44%. I then put the photo into RadLab (which I love and highly recommend!) and used the filters Oh Snap, Flora, and Vanilla Kiss - all at 100%. I love the colors!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

And the Leaves Come Tumbling Down

fallen leaves

I watch as the leaves begin to fall, swirling at my feet...withered fragments, etched with fading lyrics from a brilliant, autumnal refrain. People walk by, unaware, shuffling their feet through these beautiful bits of careworn glory.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

November Hydrangea

fading beauty

I love my hydrangea bush, and never tire of taking pictures of the beautiful blooms. I'm in awe at how many transformations they make from spring to fall. This shot I captured this morning may be my favorite yet. Its beauty slowly fades, but it's still breathtaking. This is my submission for Kim Klassen's Texture Tuesday. The prompt today was to use her texture "Phoebe". I used it in Overlay mode at 76%. I then opened RadLab and used Oh Snap, Vario-Sat, and Prettyizer - all at 100%.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Just Another Macro Monday

look down

I'm finding as I learn photography that I tend to look down at the ground a lot, searching for beautiful colors and textures. It's like a treasure hunt! I couldn't resist the beauty of this crumpled leaf against the asphalt. What a gorgeous combination.

Saturday, November 12, 2011



I feel very grateful that this view is close enough to my house that I can walk to it whenever I want to. And there's no better view from this spot than at the peak of autumn.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Last Days

last days

This is my submission for Photo Art Friday at Pixel Dust Photo Art. I played around with my image and effects in Photoshop Elements, and also added a couple of layers for texture. A beautiful quote by John Burroughs seemed to fit perfectly in the empty space.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

New Shoes Make Me Smile

new shoes

Not only do I love fall because of its gorgeous colors, but I also love that the sandals get put away and out come the cute shoes and socks. I love my new Clark shoes I found yesterday at an outlet store - even better than cute shoes are cute shoes on sale!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


Warm Glow

This photo makes my heart sing. I'm soaking in those last fleeting moments of warm sunshine, and basking in the glow of the brilliant leaves. I breathe deeply and take this moment in, storing it lovingly in my memory banks for later. In the next week or two, the wind will arrive and blow all the leaves from their limbs. In the space of a day or two, the trees will become exposed and vulnerable, which is how my spirit tends to feel during the bleak winter months. As always, I'll hold on for the ride...and wait for the renewal of spring.

Fall disarms with
Its brilliant charms
Wind engages with
The flaming hues
Glorious, swirling
Leaf mayhem ensues.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


ivy and brick

This past Saturday, I ventured down an alley in a small town near me and captured this beautiful shot on the back of a building. I was drawn in by the beautiful ivy, both the lush green and the dead brown leaves. The blue, peeling paint on the brick wall only added to the gorgeous texture. It's interesting to me that store fronts are often pristine from the front, yet if you walk to the back they are untended because they are "unseen" by the public eye. The flawed, imperfect part of the building is the most beautiful in my has so much more character.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Beautiful Smile

Autumn Smile

I am really trying to learn about portrait photography, and today was my first try at participating in the weekly I Heart Faces prompt. This is a fantastic site to visit regularly if you have any interest in becoming better with face photos. The theme for this week was "black" - any submission must have black in it. I'm very grateful to my willing subject who agrees to let me take endless photos of her so I can practice my skills!

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Beauty of Nature

Lake Shimmer

This is my submission for Photo Art Friday at Pixel Dust Photo Art. I played around with a photo I captured near our lake. I could see the lake water sparkling through the trees and it created such a beautiful glow. To achieve this effect, I applied the Dry Brush effect (lower opacity) and then used some texture.

"The beauty of nature has stirred my soul, driven out the pain that was lodged there and filled it with light." ~Sofia Tolstoy

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


botanical gardens - washington d.c.

I have recently become interested in Photography and Photoshop Elements. I have started this blog to post my photos as I learn how it all works, and hopefully see some progress. The above photo was taken at the Botanical Gardens in Washington, D.C. this past Saturday. The weather could not have been more perfect! I took over 150 photos of all the gorgeous flowers.