Annual Challenge: Shoot the Same Thing All Year… My Tree

Tess has outdone herself and only sent me one photo for her annual challenge but it seems that it has sent her in circles documenting “My Tree”!

My Tree (Photo by Tess)

My Tree
(Photo by Tess)


Christmas is Cookies!

Christmas is Cookies (Photo by rebeKah)

Christmas is Cookies
(Photo by rebeKah)

As we approach the end of the year as well as the end of the holiday season, it is only appropriate for me to share with you some of rebeKah’s photos she so kindly sent my way. (I’m late getting this posted as I was feeling a bit “under-the-weather”, so to speak.)

And not only did she send us photos but also a yummy tin of cookies along with her recipe. This sounds like a keeper loaded with dates, cherries and pecans and I will be baking a batch in the very near future!

Family Favorite Christmas (anytime) Cookie Recipe
1 Cup Butter
2 Eggs
1 1/3 Cup Brown Sugar
2 tsp. Baking Soda
3 Cups Flour
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Cloves
1 tsp Allspice
1 tsp Nutmeg
1/2 tsp Salt
1 1/2 Cups Dates
3 Tblsp Milk
4-10 oz. Maraschino Cherries
1/2 Cup Cherry Juice
3 Cups Pecans

Mix well all ingredients but fruits and nuts.
Add fruits and nuts.
Bake on greased cookie sheet 12-15 minutes at 350 degrees.
Yields more than 4 doz. (1/2 for smaller yield)

USPS Holy Family (Photo by rebeKah)

USPS Holy Family
(Photo by rebeKah)

Merry Christmas Wreath (Photo by rebeKah)

Merry Christmas Wreath
(Photo by rebeKah)

Christmas is Lights (Photo by rebeKah)

Christmas is Lights
(Photo by rebeKah)

Annual Challenge: Shoot the Same Thing All Year… Urban Landscape

This next annual challenge was submitted by Donna…

“Here are 4 pictures taken over the year of my “Urban Landscape.” I can honestly say that I wish I had taken more shots throughout the year. I loved looking at the different views but found that a different subject probably would have been more interesting.

In the last photo on the bottom left there was construction taking place and I found it a bit sad when I noticed that “my” landscape was being altered by it’s urban location. However, they only put in a helipad for the new emergency room to the right of this landscape. All the construction is now gone, whew…my little piece of country still exists in spite of the local growth.”

Urban Landscape (Photo by Donna)

Urban Landscape
(Photo by Donna)

Annual Challenge: My Bridge

Linda has been shooting her favorite bridge in Mesquite throughout the year and she presents us with her collage as well as a bit of a poetry through her captions.

She sent me this message:
“When Walgreens had their last 8×10 freebie, I had a copy made of my collage/montage, which I picked up yesterday. Didn’t like it. I tried re-doing my photos, hoping for a better outcome. I THINK I like the one better that I’m attaching as a do-over. My problem is the text. After I was all done, for the umteenth time, I realized that I should wait to add any text until the collage is done. I did it photo by photo–wrong!!! Anyway, I still think this one is better.”

I will let you crazies be the judge. Click on each photo to enlarge.

Bridge Montage (Photo by Linda)

My Bridge
(Photo by Linda)

My Bridge (Photo by Linda)

My Bridge
(Photo by Linda)

Linda also included a holiday photo taken at the Chinese Lantern Festival at Fair Park and this was her comment:
“Here is a photograph taken a couple of weeks ago at the Chinese Lantern Festival at Fair Park in Dallas. While there, I thought what a great place it would have been to take pictures for the reflection challenge as the display is in and around the lagoon. But that challenge was already behind us, so I submit this one as a holiday photo. The beautiful fan behind Santa was on a grassy area
away from the lagoon, so no reflections here. For anyone interested, the displays will be up until, I believe, January 5.”

Now, I have taken some liberty with Linda’s photo and put it in a collage with her photo as she sent it on the left and an edit of the same photo that I have done on the Fotor site on the right.

Our cameras want to turn everything into an 18% gray. When you are dealing with a lot of darkness, the camera will try to make it gray. By simply decreasing the exposure and increasing the contrast in post-processing, you can, in my opinion, improve on the photo. If you shoot in raw, it will give you more information in each photo to work with and manipulate.

You can also make the decision when shooting to underexpose the photo. Check your camera instructions for exposure compensation. Experiment when shooting and look to see which you like better. There again… you make the choice as to which appears better. I personally like the darker background and when underexposed, the lights are not as blown out. I would rather see the the lights properly exposed than to see the grass and background in a shot such as this to retain the dramatic impact of the lights in the night.

Before and After Chinese Lantern Festival (Photo by Linda)

Before and After
Chinese Lantern Festival
(Photo by Linda)

She was also shooting on a slow shutter speed of 1/20th second. That is difficult to hand hold without a tripod. The ISO was 400. You could always increase the ISO and thereby be able to shoot at a faster shutter speed. But there are trade offs when doing so. On a higher ISO, you can also get what is called noise. It can look like what we called “grain” in film days. So many choices. Who said photography is easy?

I think this just goes to prove that the learning curve never ends and much of it is personal preference.

Thank you so much Linda for your submissions and I so much appreciate you helping us to learn as we go.

Merry Christmas… Hop on the Holiday Express!

Ho! Ho! Ho! Hope Santa was good to y’all!

(Photo by Lala)

(Photo by Lala)

Our friend Sassy up in Oregon has a special photo to share with us.

Lorraine… I think you will really like this! This is a 1933 steamboiler locomotive called the Holiday Express.

The Holiday Express (Photo by Sassy)

The Holiday Express
(Photo by Sassy)

I also received an e-mail from crazy woman rebeKah and she wanted me to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and sent along a couple fun things to watch…

This is a fun e-card:

And here is an interesting light show…

Wishing you and your families a wonderful holiday season. Hope you are getting lots of good photos!

A New York City Christmas!

Robin Z. has declared that she is now going to be entering every monthly challenge and I am thrilled and someday hope to get to meet her! I am thinking that after the new year, perhaps we can have a bunch of the crazies get together for lunch to meet and have a raucous laugh or two!

So Robin sent me this message with her photos…

“I was in NYC for Thanksgiving visiting my step-sister, Cheryl, who lives on the Upper West Side. I was so excited that she lives 2 blocks from the beginning of the Macy’s Parade route. When we got there, the street was packed…we were very far back and I didn’t think we would have a good view. I decided that this Texan was going to make it as close to the front of the pack as humanly possible.

Cheryl said, “don’t be shy just be a New Yorker and make your way up front.” HA…a New Yourker….puhleeze – I’m a Texan sister we don’t know shy. I hollered, “Coming thru Y’all!” and off we went. We made it to the front – in a very sweet and Southern way 😉

Although not technically the best photos, attached are two of the hundreds of photos I shot that morning. It was a great day!!”

#1 – Santa was in tha house! Even Santa likes a good parade….and there he was standing right in front of me!

Santa (Photo by Robin Z.)

(Photo by Robin Z.)

#2 – Elf on a shelf took a day off of his shenanigans to make his appearance.”

Elf (Photo by Robin Z.)

(Photo by Robin Z.)

Donna also spent some time in New York City celebrating her birthday.
Don’t know if I dare say which one!!! Ha!

She sends along an un-altered shot from her new point-and-shoot camera.

A New York City Christmas (Photo by Donna)

A New York City Christmas
(Photo by Donna)

Bad CrAzY Woman!! (the rest of the story)

OK… I just have to post this!
Lorraine… you are so good at giving us a chuckle. Sorry it is at your expense but then again, if you didn’t tell me these things, I would never know!!

“I got up early after only getting 2-3 hours of sleep and headed for MY bridge to get some morning shots of the sun hitting MY bridge.
I decided to crawl up the steep embankment and get on top of the bridge. Mike said NO! But before I could be stopped, I started crawling up on my hands and knees. It was difficult as there were thorn bushes, a bunch of broken glass, and rusty pieces of metal. It was a challenge! Coming down was even more difficult. I survived and said I would never do that again!!!

Well……..guess what?? After leaving the bridge Mike and I went over to shoot the old cotton mill gin down on Main street. I then realized I didn’t have my hoodman! I knew I had it last at the bridge.

I was getting panicked thinking about the fact that I had lost it and then it dawned on me! I had left my hoodman ON TOP of the bridge! GEEZ!!! After I had gotten on top of the bridge the first time, I sat down on it and Mike snapped a quick photo and he told me to move my hoodman out of the shot so instead of just taking it and moving it behind my back, I took it off and set it behind me and then forgot it and came back down!

I am thinking no way can I go back up on that bridge!!! Then Mike reminded me that it cost $75 and I was thinking why can’t we just call the fire department and they can use their ladder truck to go up and rescue my hoodman. Mike didn’t think they would appreciate that!

I really, really didn’t want to go back up there and risk getting hurt, but I did and I survived it just fine. Also there was a swarm of wasps around me as I was doing this and Mike was very worried about me.

I guess that is what I get for disobeying, huh?”