Saturday, June 30, 2012

Guest Blogger - Travel Photography

Travel photography enthusiast Marianne Heredge discusses her views on travel photography in this article.

Compared with not long ago, everyone has a camera and everyone travels. But what makes travel photography? There’s much more to it than just pointing and shooting at anything that comes into the viewfinder.

Early travel photography
In the old days, not many people travelled. Photography was something that few people could afford. Travel photography was the preserve of a few intrepid explorers who would return from their adventures with pictures of places and people, most people would never expect to see.

People like Francis Frith and Francis Bedford were nineteenth century travelers who came back with photographs of places that most people would never get the chance to see.

The freshwater canal at Ismailia (Francis Frith 1856-1860

Modern travel photography
Media, education, magazines and books, films and TV – there are now few places where no one has taken photographs. Everywhere you go, you are assailed with images of places.

Travel has become much easier and photography is accessible to so many people now, especially with the advent of digital cameras. Everyone can be a travel photographer!

This means that travel photography has changed from just being a glimpse into the exotic and unfamiliar, in far-flung places where few people have been, to being almost an art form, recording perspectives on a place and trying to show something a bit more than shapes and forms. Access to transport such as car rentals, trains and planes has made even the most inaccessible places reachable.
Travel photography is not just about taking a picture of the Taj Mahal or some other sight of scenic beauty. Specific shots can have their place. Quality images of key landmarks and locations have a role, but maybe taken from a different angle to present it in a new and alternative way.

\Reflections from Tate Modern to St Paul’s Cathedral, London (Marianne Heredge 2008)

The picture should tell a story or evoke a sense of the place. This can be done maybe with a single shot, or in the form of a photo-essay or collection of pictures that has cohesiveness and tells a story about the trip, or a culture or its history. The pictures should be creative and be high quality images, with some idea about what you want the final result to show.

Rainy afternoon at La Defense, Paris, France (Marianne Heredge 2008)

This scene of La Defense, Paris’ financial district focuses on the reflections in the glass and pavement, making office blocks almost become an art form in themselves.

The main difference between a happy snappy holiday picture and a travel photograph is that whilst the photograph might show something or somewhere that everyone is familiar with, it should show it in an imaginative way or in a perspective that is particularly striking or unusual.
Morning wash, Deusa, Solukhumbu, Nepal (Marianne Heredge 2008)

This scene is a so very typical village scene of children washing and getting ready for school. Families here are lucky to have a standpipe outside their home. From quite a poor family, one girl is in school uniform but her brothers and sisters have either not yet changed or don’t have uniform (the mischievous looking girl in the black dress certainly didn’t).

For me, travel photography is more about saying something to bring out the character of a place, whether this is in the natural landscapes, man-made objects like buildings, or the people themselves.

The best photographs on both an amateur and professional level are those which tell an unexpected story or make the viewer genuinely curious as to what is going on in the picture. Location photography can be breathtaking but it is crucial to find an unusual viewpoint or framing device in a culture increasingly image-saturated.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Friday's Foto

Today's "Friday's Foto" features "Ranger" who was one of the first dogs I'd photographed for a rescue group.   I was told he hadn't been adopted and the visitors to see him had slowed.  They were hoping my photography work would help him get more visitors and attention.  Not knowing what to expect, I went and found a sweet dog wanting love and attention.  

This is one of my favorite images because it shows the happiness and smiles of Ranger as I photographed him.  To me, it brings out the cheerfulness a dog can give.  

Do you have an image which continually sticks in your mind?  If so, please share about it in the comments section.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Guest Blogger- A Focus on Digital Camera Evolution

Living Nostalgically
In an age where cameras are ubiquitous, have we lost sight of the fascination of photography? Once a cultural norm, the compact camera is now seldom lifted from the shelves where they gather dust. With rapid advancements in technology, we are more likely to rely on the cameras of our mobile phones, than extending our reach to the compact digital camera. However, what we miss out on more than anything else, is the simply joy that a compact camera can bring; their serendipitous imagery and sense of nostalgia.

For anyone who grew up before the noughties, having a family compact camera was much like having a family pet. You would bring it along where ever you went, grasping it safely, and it would in turn, capture your life – from the raucous smiles of your friends on fairground rides to your child's birth. The camera was a way of recording your family history. After your excursions, you would bring your roll of film to the developers or plug your memory card into the computer and gather round to relive your recent memories. Printed photographs filled up albums which stacked up in cupboards – dug out again to browse through things you had forgotten, or find the most embarrassing picture of your sibling for their next birthday.

Capturing Moments
The life of a compact camera is one filled with the fragmented collection of moments. It's small-size and light weight gave it the platform to become the camera of play. This camera holds no pretences of great photography – the technical skills are often automatic (and nowadays, so good that a lot of the images could pass for DSLR camera quality) – just great moments. With new face-recognition technology you can relax in knowing that your subjects will always be in focus, leaving you to enjoy the lives you're capturing in the click of a shutter.

Try taking a compact camera around with you for a week. Swinging round your neck, gently knocking against your solar plexus with every step, mimicking the rhythm of your heartbeat. It's presence serves to remind you, to encourage you to steal the tableau’s of the things you never want to forget. Moreover, digital technology has plummeted the cost of being a photographer. You can shoot five or a thousand images and it won't cost you anything to see the results. It's this fantastical advancement, which allows you to really explore the world we live in visually and viscerally. There's not a spare second between you shooting the image and then seeing the array of colourful pixels arise on the screen.

A Final Thought
You know you can tell when a compact camera has been put into good use by the slight abrasions to the corners and the wear of the release button. They show the camera has been loved, has been used to capture thousands of images. That's why, amongst all the choices for digital compacts, it's prevalent that you find the camera that fits you. The technology is advanced, the mega-pixels high, the settings varied... But most importantly, that when it sits in your hands, you just want to 'click'.

Tell us about your best digital camera moments in the comment section below!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sunday's Thought

Blessing of God or Pay it Forward??? by Kim Kirby

This morning on the way to church I was trying to decide between breakfast at the convenience store or breakfast at Burger King.

I’ve started back to church (and singing in the choir again) because I figured it would make the devil mad and I like putting a kink in his days.

I was back and forth and back and forth on my breakfast choice and finally decided Burger King because it was what I really wanted and I had the money for it.

I placed my order and when I got to the window to pay and get my food, the young man told me that a woman two cars ahead had paid for my meal.

I was flabbergasted.  He said the woman, was in her Sunday dress, and said she wanted to pay for me.  He thought I knew her, but I have no idea who she was.  He said, “you’re really surprised aren’t you?”  I really was.

I felt bad as I drove away that I didn’t say anything about what a blessing God gave me and leave a little witness behind, but I was just so stunned.
"Dogwood Blooms"

I got my food and went to sit in the Post Office parking lot to eat before heading on to church.  On my short drive there, I started talking to God and thanking Him and the woman who bought my food and asking Him to bless her.

While I was sitting at the Post Office, I prayed and realized that the best thing I could do to thank that woman was to spend time with God, one on one, so I did.

I told God I didn’t understand why this woman had done this, but that I was grateful for the blessing of breakfast this morning.  I opened up my scripture verse for the day and just had to laugh because there is no doubt in my mind that God has a sense of humor and timing that no one can duplicate.

The scripture verse was Proverbs 3:5 - “Trust in the Lord and lean not on your own understanding.”

I sure didn’t understand the gift of breakfast, but I do completely trust in the Lord and I have no doubt that it was part of His plan for that woman to bless me with breakfast to let me know He was paying attention that I was going back to church and to encourage me in that.

God may not always give us what we want when we ask, or what we ask for, but He sure has a way of blessing us that gives us exceedingly abundantly more than we could ever ask or imagine at just the right time!

Now some might say this is a part of someone doing a “pay it forward” type of thing, but for me it was God reminding me, that He was there, waiting for me, and the best thing I could do was not to try and figure out the why this happened, who this woman was, but to stop what I was doing, go to God, spend time with Him, praise Him, worship Him, and be with Him.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Friday's Foto

"The Pink Stars"
This is one of my favorite garden images that creates an imagery of something else.  In other words, to me the flowers form shapes which look like stars in the sky.

I planted this flower a few years ago but the winter was unusually rough so it didn't survive.  I meant to go back and look at the tags to learn the "official name" or "nickname" of the plant but didn't have the opportunity.

Any ideas the name of this flower?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Container Gardening 1

Container Gardening has become my favorite form of gardening.  Mostly, because I can be creative while planting some beautiful flowers.  It is an excellent choice for several reasons:
  • You live in an apartment or condominium and have limited space (check with your landlord first).
  • You want to do some gardening but have limited time or resources or space.
  • If you have mobility issues, you can use containers to make it easier.
  • You have a dog, like I do, that likes to dig and gets into everything he can and you are constantly finding beautiful annuals or perennials you want for your yard but are concerned about Fido getting into them- which is how I got into it- Container Gardening is perfect!
"Dahlia's in Container Garden"
I have always done a bit of container gardening since it's great for adding color or some design to a corner of a deck, patio, driveway (hide that water spicket)
decided to create a Container Garden because I have always had, and probably always will, a large dog who loves to run and play AND get into everything.  So, when I began finding beautiful perennials and annuals that I loved but they weren't native plants, they wouldn't fit in my wildlife garden, I put them in this garden.

As mentioned, the garden can be any size.  I decided to create a 10' x 10' area where the ground was worn down by the use of a children's swing set. A friend helped me build a wood frame to enclose the area as well as raise the bed up some.

Once the frame was built, I filled it with top soil, packed it down with a stamper tool, and then added a layer of mulch.  For mulch, I used the Pine Mini-Nuggets or Pine Mulch to give it a "different" look from the wildlife garden.

I had created my Container Garden's foundation in the fall soon after we moved into our home.  The beauty of this was I could spend the winter months planning the design or focus of the garden.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's Day!!!

Today in the U.S., we celebrate Father's Day.  I will be going to church with my father and probably taking him to lunch at his absolute most favorite restuarant despite my dislike of Chinese food.  However, that's what we do, give for our parents especially when we reach the age when we start taking care of them or overseeing some of the life things that happen.   Of course, that's a minor thing compared to what he did and probably gave up to raise me and my brother.

My father was the sole breadwinner of the family going to work everyday to earn a living.  My mother stayed home to take care of me until I was in my high school years.  Since my parents chose this route to raise my brother and I, we didn't have the latest and greatest of anything when we were growing up.  This isn't meant to be a pity party for me because I am very pleased and honored to be part of the generation which was able to do that in the area where we live.   His work and teaching us around the house caused me to grow up appreciating the simple things of life which God has given us.

One of the things that I love and respect about my father and it is the greatest gift he has ever given me, and that is his constant faith in God.   As kids, we were always in church.  We went to all the church activities, Sunday Schools classes, youth activities our church offered.   I didn't like it sometimes, but now I realize it was his greatest gift- his example of faith and trust in God taught me to do the same.

This Father's Day will be different.  It is just Dad and I now.  My mother and younger brother passed away leaving the two of us.  I will celebrate the day with him.

“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you."  Exodus 20:12 ESV Study Bible

"Duck Heading to Pond"
For those who have lost their fathers this past year or do not know your father or the relationship is strained and difficult, you will be in my prayers today. I pray you will be able to find a way to celebrate the day with him before it's too late.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Guest Blogger - Top 5 Cameras To Get for Father's Day

Welcome Jonathan Rodriguez as a guest blogger writing about Father's Day Gift ideas for the photographer.

As Father's Day quickly approaches, many are wondering what to get the Dad in their life.  If he loves photography, then here are five suggestions that might just put a huge smile on his face all the way till next year.

Pentax Optio WG-2 Digital Camera w/ GPS
Pentax promotes its cameras as being able to boldly go wherever life's adventures take you.  This 16MP camera can do endure more challenging environments than your average person cares to tackle, which is what makes it perfect for Dad.  For the man that loves adventure, here is a pocket compact digital camera that is built to go everywhere.  Now with GPS capability, he can even geocache.  This camera is designed to withstand 220 pounds of direct pressure and falls from five feet.  It can also survive depths down to 40 feet and temperatures well below freezing. If all that is not enough to make the Father in your life happy, it also captures HD video.

Nikon Coolpix L22 (12 MP)
Perhaps the father in your life prides himself on frugality.  In that case, this may be the perfect camera to get for him.  This compact pocket digital camera is not overly complicated by too many bells and whistles, but it is simply a reliable and useful little camera for capturing pictures everywhere one goes.  It even uses AA-type batteries for convenience.

Canon PowerShot SX260 Digital Camera
This stylish and unassuming thin pocket digital camera is not only practical and affordable, but it is also shockingly well equipped.  Despite its compact dimensions, this Canon Digital SLR super compact digital boast a 20x optical zoom lens for incredibly clear high resolution pictures taken from far away.  The SX260 comes in a variety of fashionable colors including an amazing metallic teal that is sure to get Dad's attention.  The advanced imaging capabilities in this little camera like the face-recognition software, 1080p HD video capabilities and GPS functions will all work together to perfectly preserve Dad's favorite memories for years to come.

Nikon D800 FX Format Digital SLR Camera Body Only (Pre-Order)
Perhaps the Dad you are shopping for is one of the millions of people who have already fallen in love with photography.  Perhaps he has already built a collection of lenses and strobes.  What could you possibly get for a man that already has all the camera equipment he wants?  Then it is time to consider buying him a Nikon SLR camera that has not even hit the market yet.  Soon the D800 FX from Nikon is set to debut in stores, but the preview reviews are all hailing it as another astounding improvement for the Nikon prosumer line.  This 36.3 MP DSLR captures 5 frames per second and 1080p HD video.  The FX sensor is one of Nikon's full frame digitals that eliminates the digital cropping effect and allows all Nikon lenses to be used to their fullest imaging capabilities.
"In The Fall"
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 Digital Camera 14mm Lens Kit
Given how prevalent DSLRs are in today's prosumer market, perhaps the Dad in your life already has one.  Has he been complaining about carrying it around because it is too bulky, but he does not want to switch to a compact digital because they do not offer enough image control.  Then he would absolutely love a Micro four thirds camera like the GF3.

Jonathan Rodriguez is an avid writer and blogger. He met his sweet heart, Savanna while studying at BYU. Together they have two beautiful boxers, Gia & Capone that they take on a long walk every day. He enjoys cooking meals for family and friends, riding his motorcycle and golfing.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Friday's Foto

"Tulip Symphony"
With my neighbor's permission, I was able to capture this image last spring.  Laying down on the ground across her yard, I wanted her to know what I was doing, not to mention it's always polite and proper to ask permission to photograph on private property.

I call this "Tulip Symphony" because the colors of the flowers come together to create a beautiful arrangement of flowers much like all the instruments of the orchestra coming together to perform a beautiful piece of Mozart, Beethoven or Haydn.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Sunday's Thought

"The Tulips"
Have you taken the time lately to thank God for the many blessings He has given you?

It's sad that we take so many of His Blessings to us for granted and never say thank you!  Do you have a peace in your heart?  Do you have the basic needs of life? Were you trying to find a parking place and found one close to the door? Did you just miss having a traffic accident?  Did you catch up with an old friend on Facebook?  Did you have a good day at the office?  Did you see a beautiful sunrise or sunset? Then, thank Him. These are just a few of the many blessings God gives us every day.   But, we don't typically think of these as God's blessings.  Why? Am not sure why.

Maybe it's because we are taught that blessings are food, money, a home, etc., instead of including ALL of the things God may bless us with.

The song sung after many offerings are taken at churches, comes to mind:

Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
-Words by Ken Thomas,  
Music: Old 100th, Ge­ne­van Psalt­er, 1551, 
at­trib­ut­ed to Lou­is Bour­geois

And this Scripture:

Blessed are the people to whom such blessings fall!
Blessed are the people whose God is the LORD!
-Psalm 144:15 ESV Study Bible

Remember, to thank God for those blessings that come along in your life!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Friday's Foto

"Trees Blooming in Spring"
One of my favorite aspects of Spring is when the trees bloom with flowers or green leaves.  To me, it's a wonderfully-fantastically-great sign that Spring is definately on it's way and the winter is heading out the door.  

This photo was taken at Freedom Park not too far from here.  

If you have a photo/image of nature that you would like to share on "Friday's Foto," you may email it to me at Please put "Friday's Foto" in the subject line of email. The image is to be 400 px max for the long side.  You may place a watermark with your name on it as I have done in the above image- no images with large watermarks in center will be published.  Must be a family-child friendly image.  Not all images will be featured.  Please include a very brief description as to why it's your favorite.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Sunday's Thought -"The Motions"-Matthew West

Having just been to two funerals in a week and a half, it's made me do some thinking about life and what's really important.

The first thing which came to mind was God and my salvation.  Am I truly a Christian, or, as the song says, "am I just going through the motions?"    The following song came on the radio and reminded me to examine my heart.

Are materialistic and financial gain the source of my happiness?   Living in a society where the latest gadget is the thing you must have or the best clothes are ever so important, I realize that "no" materialism and money are not my source of happiness.

My happiness is salvation through Jesus Christ.  He is the One who gives me a happiness in my heart, not all the material or financial things.  Though there is nothing wrong with material and financial wealth if you are serving Christ with your means and not serving man.

Becoming a Christian is simple.   Pray to God asking him to forgive you for your sins.  Ask him to come into your heart and life, to be the guiding source of your life.  Now, believe and follow Him.  If you are not involved or attending a church, I would suggest you find a local church and learn ways to grow spiritually.

  [12] And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men[f1] by which we must be saved.” 
-Acts 4:12 ESV Study Bible

(A note:  [1] 4:12 The Greek word anthropoi refers here to both men and women your new Christian walk.) 

What's really important in life?  I am blessed to have a loving wife and a dog who is my companion.  God, my wife and dog are my happiness and what is important in my life.