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Amazing colors of a Native American Pow Wow.

I have always been fascinated with Native American history, traditions, culture, etc.  I use to read books on the different tribes that existed all over our country and could forever look at pictures of the costumes and dress that were worn by these proud people.  I taught myself how to bead woven bracelets as a young teenager from books about Indian beading.  And whenever there is any type of documentary about Native Americans, I’m sitting in front of the t.v. completely enthralled with all the facts, visuals, and narration.

So last month when the opportunity came to attend the American Indian Festival held here in town, I grabbed my camera and took off with my son and daughter to experience the sights and sounds and abundant color of the original people of our country. 

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Bugs! Eww! …and I don’t mean the funny carrot-eating kind!

This has been such a season of scurry, hurry, and flurry for me.  And now, to top it all off,  I’ve got a horrible bug infestation of some sort! 

I don’t know what kind of bug it is, but they are everywhere.  They are driving me crazy, and I can’t figure out the source.  Maybe from my bathroom drain?  I’m just not sure.  They are crawling and flying everywhere.  So, I’m temporarily out of service on my normal PC time because I’ve been busy bagging up and cleaning everything so we can have the place exterminated. 

Forgive me, but I cannot live with bugs.  This place just isn’t big enough for me and the however-many-hundreds there seems to be of them!  Got to take care of business, people. 

But I have some pics of a pow wow when I get a chance to get to them.  Soon, I hope.

Gotta get back to cleaning and packing up stuff. 

Later!

I can’t keep up!

Ugh!  I am so behind!  I have images I need to work on.  I have a utility room that needs sorting through.  I have a laundry room that needs reorganizing.  My laundry is piling up.  My refrigerator needs cleaning out — again! I have a garden that’s never been weeded and made ready for planting, so now it’s overgrown with a season’s worth of weeds.  I need to clean out drawers and give away clothes no longer used.  And that’s only part  of the list. Where am I suppose to find time for it all?!!

I love blogging, but I’m so used to incorporating my images into my posts that I feel like I can’t post unless I have a few photos to go along with it.  So that’s put me off my usual schedule.  I did a semi-major cleaning (hey, there is so such a thing!) a few weeks ago when my son had his late (the party, not his graduation) graduation party because we had a ton of kids over–some, of which, ended up spending the night.  That was totally unexpected.  After all that cramming-cleaning, I felt I needed/deserved a break from at least a couple of weeks cleaning.  Hence, the laundry piling up, and the utility and laundry room still needing to be cleaned and organized. 

And I’d forgotten how tiring it can be to work 8 hours a day and try to come home and do anything that requires me to stand, chop, sort, or wash for more than 20 minutes.  I always did it before, but it tired me sometimes then, too.  Of course, it would help if I went to bed earlier.  But when would I find my ME time?  That Mahjong game isn’t going to complete itself.  And after I finish the first one, you know I just have to be challenged and do the remaining 5 games till I win.  …I just have to.  The same thing goes for solitaire.  It’s a good thing I’m not on Facebook and know nothing about that farm game I hear so much about. 

By the way, I’ve rediscovered Starburst candies.  I love those things!  Now I remember why I was so addicted to them before.  I should save the wrappers and make some of those cute little purses or wallets.  Wait.  See, now.  This is how I end up getting distracted and not accomplishing the things around here that I need to do.  Of course, who doesn’t want to be distracted when there are too many chores staring you in the face? 

I wish someone would invent a self-cleaning refrigerator. 

Well, at least I can blame the inability to work out in the yard on the 100 degree plus weather we’ve been having the past few weeks.  And it doesn’t look like that’s going to change anytime soon.  Besides, the grass has almost completely died, saving me the bother of trying to get it mowed.  I tried watering it a couple of times, but I’m not paying a $100 plus water bill for the month.  Sorry, grass;  it’s survival of the fittest.  I have to save the water for the plants and flowers.  I spent way too much money on them. 

I guess I shouldn’t be too hard on myself.  I’ve accomplished some things these past weeks.  I cut out two pair of pants to sew and wear.  Finished one already.  Going to start sewing the 2nd pair this week sometime.  I did some laundry tonight.  On my way to put the last of it in the dryer when I’m done typing here.  Went to the grocery store this past weekend and picked up all the necessities and food supplies for this week.  Half-completed cleaning my own bathroom.  The other half will have to wait till tomorrow.  So I’m not a complete failure, I guess! 

And anyway, there’s always going to be housework and yard work.  So what if I get a little behind and need a lazy break and just want to kick back and watch some good shows.  Somebody make me some popcorn!  Please…?

Why do we eat!…and eat…and eat!

The other day my daughter and I were talking about her friends.  She says that most of the time, she has to tell her friends to eat, that it’s okay to eat, or that they need to eat.  Her friends don’t understand why she is seemingly obsessed with food and eating.  She thinks this is funny, because to her, they are obsessed with not eating.

Let me explain.  Because I totally get it and why they have opposing views about food.  It’s how she was raised.  It’s how I was raised.  Our family life centers around food.  Okay, well, maybe it doesn’t center around food exactly, but food it so much intertwined with what we do–no matter what it is.

For instance, if one of us is getting a headache, it’s because “you need to eat.”  If we’re celebrating a birthday, it’s “what do you want for your birthday supper?”  If someone wins something, graduates from something, or gets a raise, we go out to eat. If someone is sad or had something bad happen to them, we go get ice cream.  When it’s bedtime and anyone is having trouble sleeping, it’s “go get a little something to eat so you can sleep better.”  When we come home from school or work, it’s “have an after-school snack” or a “little something before supper.” 

When we’re getting ready to go shopping or know we’re going to be out for more than an hour, it’s “better eat something before we leave the house.”  If we have to do some housework or chores for any length of time, it’s “let’s eat something before we start.”  (All right, that one might just be pure procrastination, but we choose food as the means to which to procrastinate.)  For Christmas, I often bake things to give out as presents.  I use to spend days making up goodies to box up and give to my siblings and their families, and they always looked forward to that box! 

My son’s friends are dumbfounded whenever they come over because I always make food a part of their visit.  Once, my son had a couple of friends over and I had said I would barbecue some hot dogs for them.  I’m sure they thought there might be some chips and something to drink along with those hot dogs.  But I know they weren’t expecting the corn-on-the-cob, baked beans, crudites  and dip, homemade cookies, and cucumber salad to be spread out on the table, too! 

Another time, his best friend was coming over to spend the day, so I wanted to make sure they had plenty to eat.  I made homemade pizza for lunch, rice crispy treats for a snack, and fed them the enchiladas and rice I had made the day before for supper — before I gave them some cake and ice cream.  I even made his friend take home some cake. 

Food is love.  It’s how we show our love, our emotion, our togetherness.  I have many happy memories of going down to the local Sonic when the kids were younger and just sitting there in the car, our feet hanging out the window, listening to the music Sonic always plays while sipping a yummy ice cream drink and eating corn dogs.  The summer winds would usually be blowing, and we’d laugh and talk while just enjoying the weather, the casualness of the day, and our precious time together.  The kids can recall those same memories.   Many times, I would pick the kids up from grade school for lunch (they hated eating in the school cafeteria because it was always so noisy) and drive to the park where we would pop the back of our van open and sit there eating a lunch of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and corn (Grandy’s, why did you ever leave town?!  We loved your food!).  The trees were so big and would blow in the wind, while people walked their dogs or parent’s were hanging out with their young ones by the swing set and the slide. 

So, to my daughter, getting together with your friends is a very good reason to eat and to show your appreciation for each other and to share your love for one another.  I mean, why not?  We’re not gluttons about it, and none of us is obese. We don’t abuse food or how we eat it.  We use it as a part of our celebration of life and living.  It makes us feel grounded and centered and all “homey.” 

Maybe that is why Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year.  Actually, we make food a big deal at every holiday!

My daughter’s friends asked her why she is always telling them “eat!”  She said, “Because it’s what we do in my family!”

More Night Images

Okay.  So sorry, I forgot to post last week!  I got busy and thought I would do it on Monday (Tuesday at the latest) and before I knew it, the weekend was here already! 

Anyway…

I’ve been out taking  more night images, trying to get better at it.  I had good opportunity the week before last because we had so much going on here around town.  There were even fireworks!  The weather was so stinkin’ hot during the day that the evening was the only time we wanted to venture out anyways.  My kids were good sports and tagged along most of the time (okay, there might have been some forcing and threatening) and helped carry my “stuff.”  My son even attended part of an outdoor night concert of someone who was before his time — although he has heard me play Eddie Money’s album on my old stereo before.

I had some nice surprises and was pleased with the ones that I was able to capture nicely.  The goal is to learn, even from my mistakes.  Hope you find something you like as well.

This first one is of a guy who had the coolest car with hydraulics.  He put on a show for me when he saw I was taking pictures with my camera.  Unfortunately, another car came up beside him (between me and the white car) and was blocking my view just as he had his car turned all the way on its side and was shooting out all this white smoke!  By the time I ran around to the front side of the car that was blocking my view and readjusted my camera, the show was over.  I was so mad!  I have one of where he is looking straight into the camera and giving me this big smile!  What a great guy.

This couple was just as friendly.  Maybe the guy on the farthest motorcycle didn’t want to be photographed, but the lady on the back of the closest one gave me a friendly wave and a smile.

When I was a  kid in high school, the big thing to do on Friday and Saturday night was to “drag Douglas.’   That’s the name of the main street in our town, and you would see all your friends and meet some new ones by getting in a car and driving along Douglas street.  The cops were good about letting the kids ride up and down the street, as long as no one was breaking any laws.  People still do it, obviously. 

Here’s what it looks like now.

And here are the rest of my night shots.

Eddie Money in concert.

A cool “mistake.”

And a fireworks show along the river.

Water Fountains at Night

It’s that time of year again.  Our annual RiverFestival is in full swing and there are plenty of opportunities for some practicing of  night shooting.  It’s tricky for me, because it causes me to have to use more settings than I’m use to or know exactly how to use.  But what better way for me to get in some practice.  The nights are full of people and events, so I plan on making full use of that.

The festival has changed dates this year, and it’s a month later than it normally takes place.  I can honestly say I don’t like it at this time of year.  It seems like they are trying to shift things and there were some big changes that I have heard a lot of people say they don’t like.  So we’ll see if they keep it this way or switch it back to May.  It’s been extremely HOT and that doesn’t make it any more fun for me.  I almost had heat stroke yesterday.  I know I had a moderate case of heat exhaustion.  My daughter and I were out walking in the heat in the middle part (also, the hottest part of the day and not the wisest time to be out, but my son wanted to meet up with a friend) of the day.  We had umbrellas, but the temp was up around 100 degrees.  We were out for about 2 1/2 to 3 hours — a third of that time was indoors in air-conditioning.  We both drank plenty of water the whole time we were out walking around. 

When we finally stopped for the day, we were driving to get something to eat when I started to feel sick to my stomach and a little headachy.  I was struggling with my window (it fell off the track and I was having trouble getting it to roll back up–yes, the air conditioner is broke right now so we do the old-fashioned way and roll our windows down) and was standing in the parking lot, in the shade, and pulling it back in place.  I guess I exerted enough energy to wear myself out even more after the sun and heat had already taken a beating out of me.  By the time we walked into the lovely air conditioning of the restaurant and I sat down, my legs and even the palms of my hands were sweating profusely.  I had to sit and just try to relax with the ice-cold water bottle on the back of my neck and side of my throat to help cool my blood going to my head.  Finally, I started to feel normal again, and once I ate a little something and drank some iced tea, I felt much better.

My point of saying all of that is that I won’t be doing much at the RiverFestival until the evening hours when things have cooled down some.  As a result, I will be able to do more night shooting in an effort to figure out what is the best way to do it and how to make it all work. 

There are some pics I won’t be able to show just yet, because I am entering the photo contest again this year and hope to win more than I did last year.  Therefore, I can’t show the photos I plan on entering yet until the contest winners have been announced sometime in July.  Here are the results of my first night.  They are pics of water fountains in the area.  There was another one that was of a larger waterfall, but I couldn’t get those to come out right.  I need more practice first!  Plus, the wind was blowing like crazy and I had to stand right in front of the fountain to get the pic I wanted, which meant the water was splashing and blowing all over me and my camera.  I wasn’t going to risk it and just wanted to wait for a calmer night. 

I have to tell you it took me several tries to get the effect I wanted.  I had to mess around with my settings and every time I moved to a different area or fountain, the lighting changed depending on where I stood.  I need to learn to slow down and just take my time.  I didn’t use a tripod.  I probably should, but I don’t want to carry one around and I like the challenge of hand-holding my camera and just using what I have–myself and whatever is around me.  It forces me to use my settings more and to do a lot of adjusting, which is how I think I want to learn in order to know exactly what my camera does when I use this setting or that, and when I turn the dial this way (up or down in numbers) or that.

I like the way the water droplets in the second one shine like jewels in the air and stand still.  And I think I captured the flow of the water at just the right speed in the first one.  It’s not too milky and not too stagnate.  You can see some of the water droplets captured in a stand-still mode, while the main waterfall flows naturally.  And I tried to get the bottom one when the wind was blowing really hard so you could see the water splashing sideways, but I never could get it just right with the time I had.  My son was with me and he was getting tired and wanted to go home.  I didn’t want to try his patience any more than I already had, because we had a really nice time that evening together.  His sister had teamed up with some of her friends and it was just him and I for the night.  We walked around, had some good food, and then sat and watched the fireworks before grabbing these shots and heading home. 

Stay tuned for more to come of my night shooting practices!

Changing a photo.

Well, I hope everyone enjoyed their holiday weekend and was able to squeeze every moment of relaxation out of it they could.  I know I tried.  I ended up doing a lot of cooking.  Although, I didn’t barbecue even once over the past three days.  I just did a lot of indoor cooking instead.  I guess I was just in one of those moods. 

Anyway, I had planned on getting out and doing a lot of things with my camera.  However, I never seemed to be able to fit it in anywhere.  Then, on Sunday in the late afternoon, I was finally able to step outside and down the street to photograph one of the many downtown churches in our area.  I’m only going to show you one part of what I shot, because I am working on transforming it into something other than what I started with. 

The church is absolutely gorgeous on the inside, too.  Maybe I’ll be able to get inside one day and see if I can take some photos.  But for now, I wanted to focus on the outside.  When I got there, I saw that some repairs were being done and there were wooden railings and scaffolding up everywhere on the building.  So I zeroed in on the top.  There are a total of three domes on top, and I picked the one I could get the best view of at the time. 

Here is the original.  Actually, I shot it in RAW but always make my adjustments and then save it as a TIFF.  This is that TIFF after my initial adjustments.

You can see the scaffolding in the lower right corner.  I removed it and did some improvements with color and tone.

Then I couldn’t decide if I wanted to make it black and white, or just desaturate the color a little, so I played around and came up with this.

I liked it.  It reminds me of something out of an old school book.  But I never stop there when I have captured an image that I see so much potential in if I know I can play around even more and just work it out. 

I knew I wanted to see this as a night image.  And I knew I didn’t want the building to become a silhouette.  I wanted to be able to still see what a magnificent structure this is by keeping some of the lines and curves showing.  So, I knew moonlight would have to be included. 

This is what I’ve done on it so far.

I’m loving it so far!  I know I want to add some night creatures, but I don’t want to make it into something creepy.  I’ve begun to add an angel to it, though I know you can’t see that yet.  I won’t show that until I am completely done with it.  But I love what it’s becoming and I can’t wait to work some more on it! 

I’ll show you the completed work when I’m finished.  I just wanted to share with you one of my work’s in progress. 

See you next time!