Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Sweat, Tears, or the Sea

beach walk

This past week we put our deposit down on a beach house rental in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. We've been vacationing there for many years...it's truly one of our favorite places, filled with so many memories of family and fun. My daughter and I love to take walks on the beach every day, and this is our view as we walk down the path that leads us to the ocean. This is my submission for Kim's Texture Tuesday - we had to use "Simplicity". I had such a hard time with this texture and couldn't find a photo that it looked pretty on...most of my photos are filled with color and don't have any light backgrounds. I finally chose this image and used the texture at Soft Light/50%. I was happy to see that I could still use this texture on a colorful photo if I did so very subtly. It added a nice light to it. I also extended the newsprint part of the texture off both sides of the image.


Monday, January 30, 2012

Hazy Sun

Hazy sun

"The cloud's curtains spread and the sunset casts kindly on her eyes."

Oh, how I love my iphone. It has given me so many more photo opportunities. I captured this image from our car, through the passenger side window...while moving. Isn't that something? It still managed to take such a crisp photo. I did edit it in PSE a bit to highlight the clouds and haze. Are any of you out there having fun with your phone cameras? I'm also loving Instagram and Camera+ (Instagram was free and Camera+ cost a couple of dollars). Does anyone have any other camera apps they recommend? I'm always on the lookout.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Her Smallest Leaf

Two green leaves

I was surprised to walk outside last week and see these two vivid green leaves laying on the deck. They really stood out amidst all the winter grays, taupes, and browns that I saw everywhere else. So, of course, I had to take a picture of them!

"Nature will bear the closest inspection. She invites us to lay our eye level with her smallest leaf, and take an insect view of its plain." ~ Henry David Thoreau

studio waterstone

Friday, January 27, 2012

Abstract Photo Art

Photo Art Friday

Today at Photo Art Friday we are supposed to merge three of our photos together and then, as always, use layers/effects to make the image look like a piece of art. I chose two photos of tree bark, and a third photo of some pink, daisy-like flowers. I used Bonnie's "Mauve Magic" at Vivid Light/100% on the barks (reverse mask), and then used the same Mauve Magic again on just the flowers (reverse mask) at Difference/100%. I then added an old, vintage wallpaper pattern over top of the far right panel only (reverse mask) to add some of the pretty robin's egg blue color (Darken/100%). To finish it all off, I used Radlab's "Oh Snap!" to make it pop a little more. I love the beautiful colors! I literally could play around with these art effects all day long.

Photo Art Friday

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Pop of Color

Pop of color

I really need some color today, so I'm posting this beautiful picture I took at the Botanical Gardens in D.C. It helps take away my winter blahs...the ceramic pot these flowers were in was so gorgeous. It looks like glazed watercolor, and the yellow flowers really pop against it. May you have a colorful day...spring will be here before we know it!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Keenest Sorrow

The keenest sorrow

I've just discovered the weekly Quotography prompt, which I'm excited to participate in. This week's theme was "Sadness". On Monday, I was out running errands and the fog was so thick...I was at the bank when I saw this beautiful view from the parking lot. I didn't have my camera, but I had my iphone - it takes amazing photos! It was the perfect image for the sad theme, and the quote I added is so very true. At times, we are our own worst enemies. Our biggest battle in life can be against ourselves.

Quotography at {My}Perspective

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


the story of trees

For Texture Tuesday this week, we are to incorporate "story" into our image somehow. I decided to use text because it's becoming my favorite thing to merge image and words together. I found this beautiful quote which comes from an old book of prose, and the tree photo is one I took on my street last fall. The sun was setting and the lighting against the leaves gave them a beautiful glow. I used Kim's "Phoebe" texture at Linear Burn/100%, and I also added a layer of an old book to achieve the texture in the upper right corner of the image.


Monday, January 23, 2012

Polaroid Daisies

Polaroid Daisies

I took this picture last September when my husband and I took a day trip to Middleburg, VA. It was a hot, humid day and I remember sweating and complaining about the heat. Oh, how I wish I had those warm temperatures today! Instead, the roads are icy and there are no colorful petals to be seen anywhere. Those flowers and that day seem like a distant, dreamy memory...which is why I like the effect I got with this photo. It looks like an aged photo from another era. I can't wait till July rolls around again!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Winter Tones

Winter tones

The colors may fade as winter comes, but the textures are still beautiful. I gathered these pieces of bark, branch, and leaves together and laid them across a weathered picnic bench.

I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure in the landscape - the loneliness of it - the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it - the whole story doesn't show. ~Andrew Wyeth

studio waterstone

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Three Leaves

Three Leaves

Bonnie's challenge for Photo Art Friday this week was to use the number three somehow...and/or also to use one of her two free textures she generously shared last week. I had a photo of three leaves I had laid across some gravel, and I used her "Grunge Surprise" texture at Lighter Color/100%. I also added a vintage image layer over top of the leaves (reverse mask) at Overlay/80%. I warmed the image up a bit with a couple of filters in RadLab, and then used the Cutout Effect back in PSE at 95%. I finished things off by using Multiply at 76% to darken it up. As always, I'm amazed at how a plain photo of three leaves can be turned into something so colorful and artistic. I can't wait to play around with next week's challenge - please visit Bonnie's blog and see the details if you've never tried photo art (button below)!

Photo Art Friday

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A Mother's Love

Autumn Smile

Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ~Elizabeth Stone

When I first began taking photos last July, I assumed initially that I would go in the direction of portrait photos. I really do enjoy taking pictures of people, but I've barely scratched the surface of the knowledge required. And surprisingly, over the last six months I've realized I want to go in a different direction...more than anything, I love the artistic side of photography and PSE. Words can't describe how stimulating it is to alter my photos and add layers/effects. It's like visual art but without any messy paints or supplies. I absolutely adore it. However, I do still want to continue learning about taking photos of people so that I can take pictures of my family and future grandchildren. I took this photo of my daughter this past autumn when the leaves were turning...it's my favorite photo of her. But, I love the lighting and her big, genuine smile that reaches her eyes. Ahh...a mother's love. When I look at this picture, I could burst.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Open Your Heart

set sail

This week's theme at Texture Tuesday is to use the word "Open" in some way. I took this photo at our favorite vacation place - Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. We went on a dolphin cruise and this beautiful sail boat breezed by us. The words came to me as I looked at the photo, so I incorporated them into my image. The words resonate with me...they are so true. If your heart is closed off, it's so hard to reach for any dreams. I used Kim's "Mayzee" texture here, and also added a layer of an old map to show in the sky. The heart came from a "heart bokeh" texture; I used a reverse mask to reveal only one heart under the words.


Monday, January 16, 2012

Winter's Chill

Delicate branch

This time of year, it's a real struggle to find dynamic photos in the colorless environment. Everything is so drab; there are no sounds of birds or bees. The landscape is like a blank canvas; there are no colors to paint it with. The lifeless winter months always force me inward...streaming thoughts overflow, as soft and silent as falling snow. I grow tired of the cold during these long January and February days, but there's something to be said for the winter woods: it's a perfect place to listen, to watch, to contemplate. And to dream of spring and summer! My spirit aches for it...if I close my eyes, I can almost smell the budding flowers and the freshly turned soil.

I search inside
For some memories
Dipping my cupped hands
Into glimpses of sunny days
And my soul flies
With dreamy eyes
Along the soft trails
Of white-cupped daisies
Smoldering in the heat
Of August's rays

If only for a moment
Winter's chill
Falls from my heart
Like bitter glass
Pointy snowflakes
Blue from the moon
Melting tenderly
Spilling away and
Shimmering against
Sunlight on my face.

© Sherri Brannon

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sticks and Stones

Nature's palette

I am in awe of nature's color palette. When I found this stick in my back yard, I couldn't believe the beautiful colors on the fungus. Did I just use fungus and beautiful in the same sentence? I can't be the only one who feels this way, right, about finding beautiful colors on the ground with my camera? Please let me know I'm not alone in my giddiness over pretty fungus...lol.

studio waterstone

Friday, January 13, 2012

Technicolor Moth

Technicolor Moth

I always look forward to the end of the week because Bonnie at Pixel Dust Photo Art offers "Photo Art Friday" at her blog. The key here is to take an image and edit it so that it becomes less photo-like and more like a piece of art. I find it very freeing because there are no rules and I can just play. I add layers and go through all my blend modes to find exciting colors that aren't realistic, but look real pretty to my eye. By the time I'm done, I'm usually grinning like a kid at the gorgeous colors and abstract shapes I've come up with. This makes me way too happy! lol...you should give it a try! It's a whole lot of fun, and also a way to learn new things in PSE as you experiment.

This was an image I took of a moth on our patio door. I added Bonnie's "Blue Me Away" texture, and then her "Wicked" texture on top of that. For both of these, I used the Difference Blend at 100%. I also layered an image of an old Persian rug pattern on top, using it at Difference mode/65% (found at Flickr Creative Commons, from "peacay"). I then tweaked it a bit in RadLab for the final effect.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Winter Wonderland

Winter wonderland

"Snowflakes are one of nature's most fragile things, but just look what they can do when they stick together." ~Vista M. Kelly

On Monday, we got some unexpected snow. Even the weather forecasters were shocked because it wasn't predicted. I know nothing about taking photos of snow, but I grabbed my camera and tried to get a few pictures before the sun went down. I liked this shot of a neighbor's house in the distance. All of the snow was gone by Tuesday at lunchtime! It was pretty while it lasted.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Thoughts Cling Like Ivy

Grow towards the light

"Direct the clasping ivy where to climb." ~John Milton

Thoughts cling like ivy...and if they're negative, they can smother our spirit. The older I get, the more conscientiously I try to make sure my thoughts remain positive ones. Do I always succeed? Nope. But, I'm more aware when the negative thoughts appear, and I try my best to turn them around before they take hold. It wasn't until I was in my thirties that I became fully conscious of how my negative thoughts were affecting my spirit. I discovered that just being aware of them when they showed up greatly diminished their power. It was an important discovery in my life. Writing about them also helps, and for me, they come out as poetry. I like turning sad or negative thoughts into something rhythmic and beautiful. How about you? Do your thoughts sometimes grow where you wish they wouldn't? Here's to positive thoughts, the kind that thrive and grow towards the light.

This is my submission for this week's Texture Tuesday . I took this picture in Occoquan, Virginia. It's a quaint, little town filled with shops and personality. I used Kim's lovely "embrace" texture - Color Burn at 100%. I also put it in RadLab and used the filters Oh, Snap!, EZ-Burn, Sparta, and Adrift, all at 100%.

My thoughts cling like ivy
From within these walls
Then climb out of reach
I am restless inside
And my spirit wanders
In a tangled garden
Of blacks, grays, and whites
Mouthfuls of words buried
Where I can't find them
My hands grasp at air and
Rhythms hide lonely
In my sleeve.

© Sherri Brannon

Monday, January 9, 2012


Like a painting on the wall

It's so easy to get caught up in the stress of everyday living and not notice the beauty all around us. For me, there are days when my demands give me tunnel vision, and I forget to stop and look around. This is yet another reason I enjoy photography so much. It forces me to get out of my head and focus on simple (and beautiful) things. I took this tree photo during one of our country drives in October. I played around with it in PSE, adding layers, and I loved the effect of the frame around the tree, which made me remember this beautiful quote. The frame layer is actually from an image of an old book that I found at Flickr Creative Commons. There are some great images there that have "Attribution Only" licenses...in other words, you have permission to use and adapt the images into your own work as long as you attribute the source. The old book cover layer over top of my photo came from "peacay" at Flickr.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Delight and Wonder

Winter leaves

Leaves take all kinds of strange shapes, as if to invite us to examine them. Star-shaped, heart-shaped, spear-shaped, arrow-shaped, fretted, fringed, cleft, furrowed, serrated, sinuated; in whorls, in tufts, in spires, in wreaths endlessly expressive, deceptive, fantastic, never the same from footstalk to blossom; they seem perpetually to tempt our watchfulness, and take delight in outstripping our wonder. ~ John Ruskin

Today is Macro Sunday over at Studio Waterstone, and yesterday I ventured outside with my camera to capture something up close. As always, I was drawn to the gazillion leaves filling our woodsy back yard. I ended up taking 100+ photos of these gorgeous specimens - so much texture and pattern on every leaf! It truly amazes me. For this photo, I used a textured called Smokin' from Pixel Dust Photo Art (her textures are stunning), and I also put the image in RadLab to tweak it a little bit further.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Photo Art

Today at Pixel Dust Photo Art, the weekly prompt is to post our favorite photo art image of 2011. I only started this blog a few months ago, but the above image is one of my favorites. I captured this image in my front yard - who knew an electrical plate embedded in the grass could be so beautiful? The pop of color I achieved was exciting...I used Bonnie's "Feelings" texture, at Color Burn/44%. It was also tweaked in RadLab with the filters Oh Snap!, Flora, and Vanilla Kiss. I love manipulating my images to make them look more like pieces of art. I'm grateful to Bonnie for her beautiful blog, textures, and inspiration...I always look forward to Fridays!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Memory Walk

Winter garden

When January arrives, my spirit inevitably sags and I long to hibernate far away from the barren landscape. February and March loom frigidly, and I crave warmth, sunshine, and color! This shot was taken from my back yard...the view of our bare, winter garden through the fence line. To add texture, I used Pixel Dust Photo Art's "Yesteryear" and "Feelings". This is my submission for Texture Thursday, and also This or That Thursday. I've mentioned I may occasionally share my poems on this blog...I've been excited at the idea of taking photos to support my written words, and hope to do that here and there during 2012. If you enjoy poetry, please read on! Have a lovely Thursday.


When my bleak winter thoughts
Edge the bare garden, when my
Melancholy words become
Long and orderly, as gray
As the quivering clouds, as
Deep as the musty roots
Hiding lace-like underground
I know it's time for my spirit
To take a memory walk
Along lush, green embankments
Plump with pleated leaves
Ruffled with swollen blossoms
Tinged with a golden glow
Far from the fallen snow
Where birds hold in their throats
The essence of sun and branches
And we swap understanding glances
While the creek rushes by
Babbling with her stories
Her gray stones at the bottom
Nestled in the curve of her flow.

     © Sherri Brannon 2012

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Winter Field

Winter Field

Have you ever noticed a tree standing naked against the sky, 
how beautiful it is? 
All its branches are outlined, and in its nakedness 
there is a poem, there is a song. 
Every leaf is gone and it is waiting for the spring. 
When the spring comes, it again fills the tree with 
the music of many leaves, 
which in due season fall and are blown away. 
And this is the way of life.

I captured this shot on the first day of 2012. The weather was incredibly warm, so hubby and I took a country drive near Warrenton, VA. It was harder to find good pictures in the January landscape, but then I saw these cows grazing in their lonely field, and the bare tree standing starkly in the distance. Time to pull over!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Mike's American Grill

Mike's American Grill

It's good to be back to photography prompts. One of my favorites is Kim Klassen's Texture Tuesdays. She's easing us back into things by letting us use any one of her textures in a photo. The image above was taken at my favorite restaurant, Mike's American Grill. Not only is the ambiance amazing, but their food is delicious every single time. They have the best crab cakes ever! I took this shot at the top of the steps on the second level - the chandelier is huge. I used Kim's "black canvas magic" at Color Burn, 50%. I then put the image into RadLab and used the filters Oh Snap!, EZ-Burn, Vanilla Kiss, and Maple, all at 100%.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Beauty Surrounds Me


Today I'm finally getting back into the swing of things after the holiday. It's nice to be able to focus on some photography prompts again after the rush of the holidays. Over at the The Creative Exchange, Lisa is asking that we post our favorite photo of 2011. It was tough to choose, but this one takes my breath away every time I look at it. It's hard to believe that I took this photo with my own two hands (and a point-and-shoot camera). I still know so little about photography, but 2011 was the start of my journey. I can't wait to keep learning!