Brighten My Day

Like the Sun

The warmth on my face
Promise of a tight embrace
I cherish the shine

See, I'm still on my haiku kick....
The weather was magnificent today.
It's a shame that I spent so little time outside.

You might recognize this lovely from recent post
, link.

I'm glad that the votes are in and everyone is warming up to the idea of the new banner.
One comment in particular that I would like to highlight is from Kate @ art vein vessel:

I'm assuming the old banner (which I also love) is of the Blue Ridge Mountains, where you live. So it's interesting that your new banner has a globe, which hints at a broader scope and perhaps represents the direction in which you want to wander."

Now that's an astute observation.....
I'd have to say that it was my subconscious adding it's two cents.
However unintentional it may or may not have been, it definitely holds truth.
I have gotten a lot more comfortable with the idea of going to the places I have always dreamed of seeing.
My list gets longer and longer....
For now we'll stick with road trips eh?

...:::In with the New:::...

Old Banner

I can't explain why I'm feeling out of sorts about it.......but
I find myself a little nervous about it's debut.
Maybe it's because......
The old represents where I've been, as well as, how far I've come.
And that letting go of what is familiar is not always easy - especially for me.

Revamping the banner is a small, and seemingly minuscule remod,
but it's been a long time coming!

White Reveals, Black Conceals

{Let's Learn Photoshop Together}

Pearly Whites with Texture

This is what I did with the concrete texture from last weeks exercise.
See what Liss & Elizabeth did with the concrete texture and layers.

Last week we touched base on the basics of how to use layers. A handful of you expressed interest in following along, although I only received 2 links to pictures where you used the texture. If you're not ready to share I understand, but I strongly encourage you to participate when you get a chance. If you did happen to post a photo, but forgot to send your link, you are more than welcome to include it in the comment section of this post.

It takes very little time to sit down and discover what will open many doors for you when processing a photo. I know it sounds cliché, but really, the possibilities will become endless! Once you begin to understand the basics of layers and how they interact with one another, finding different ways to manipulate them is where the real fun begins.

Dainty White

There are other useful tools to be aware of when using layers that weren't addressed in those last two tutorials - this is what we will go over today.
Layer masks are a handy way of applying a certain effect to a particular area of a photo.
Sour Cherries (pictured below) was an instance where I used a layer mask.
I applied a texture to the photo, but I didn't want it to cover the cherries themselves, so I used a layer mask.

Sour Cherries

The video below is a pretty basic, but comprehensive tutorial on how to use layer masks.

This one is a useful tip on using quick masks, and is very short.

Below is a longer tutorial that will teach you various ways of using layer masks.
It may help to clear up a few things not discussed in the first video.
If you have more time, take a peek...

Don't forget, if you have any questions don't hesitate to ask. Also, if you have something that you would like to learn, but don't want to spend the time digging around, send me your suggestions.

A good tip to remember from this weeks Layer Mask exercise is "White Reveals, and Black Conceals".

If you missed last weeks "Let's Learn Photoshop Together" videos, click here.

Moments : Lost in Reverie

Lost in Reverie

All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.
~Walt Disney~

I've been on this haiku kick ever since Jo invited us to write one to accompany some morning photos she took one day.
I was inspired to write this one after I read and contemplated the Walt Disney quote shown above.

When life gets in the way we can become overwhelmed, and discouraged.
Staying focused isn't always an easy task.

What has helped you to keep the dream alive?!

Quick Getaway : Gatlinburg, TN

Friday evening we packed up the car and headed to Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Instead of staying in a hotel, like normal tourist, we opted to camp out in the Great Smokey Mountains. This was somewhat of a special little trip for me because I have been to the town once, but that was when I was 12. From what I do recall, the Great Smokey Mountain National Park was not a part of those memories, which was one reason why I wanted to stay there.

I made reservations through the website a few days prior to the trip since I read that July was one of the busiest months of the year. After a few hold ups, mainly traffic related, we made our way to the Elkmont Campground. As late arrivals we skipped checking in and headed toward our campsite. Elkmont is the biggest campground in the park with 220 sites, however, we managed to find our plot of earth.

You would think that after setting up our tent, and a 3 hour drive, we would be ready to relax.......but nooooo.....I was ready to head straight to the action! I never imagined exactly how much traffic we were in for, but I hardly cared because I was thrilled to be there. Has there ever been a time when you were happy to be in bumper to bumper traffic?! It's sick. Speaking of traffic, at any given time, whether walking or driving, you were constantly surrounded by 360° of chaos. Not that I don't pay close attention usually, but you had to be on high alert to get around that town.

Gatlinburg Space Needle

Walking the strip reminded me so much of our Las Vegas vacation last year.
I have my mind made up that Gatlinburg, TN is like the Hillbilly Las Vegas.
Not that I didn't have a great time, but if it walks like a duck......
We didn't pay to do the space needle, but it reminded me of the Stratosphere where we had dinner at the "Top of the World Restaurant".
Although, the Stratosphere was 5 times as tall.

Aerial View of Gatlingburg @ Night

Saturday evening took us on a ride up the mountain on the Sky Lift.
The view was spectacular!

The Village Shops

Walking through the souvenir shops was about the only other thing we did while we were in town.
The Village was a set of shops that were tucked in a nook off the main road.
The different shops were all done in various styles of architecture,
the Bavarian styled building was my favorite, but I didn't really get a good photo to share.

The Village Shops

For dinner, I wanted a soft that's what I had!
It was delicious :)

Soft Pretzel Place

Aside from the plethora of airbrushed t-shirt stores, olde tyme photo huts,
and pancake houses, candy stores were also plentiful.
We bought a 1 lb. box of Aunt Mahalia's Salt Water Taffy.
The box of taffy has been hit pretty hard, it's almost gone!
It's Cody's fault, he eats 2 to my 1......don't lie, you know you do :o)

Jumbo Jellies

I'll leave you with this cause it makes me laugh.
Giddy up!

Me on My Mini-Horse

Slow & Steady

Slow and Steady

By day we explored the park, but by night we strolled around town.
It wasn't our typical camping quick-trip, but I still loved every minute of it.
The variety of excursions we ventured upon were fairly diverse, and it was just the right mix.
We had a great time! I can't wait to share the trip photos with you.
I should have something ready by tomorrow.

In other news:
I am delighted to hear about all the go getters participating in "Let's learn photoshop together".
Don't forget to forward me your links so that we can all observe how you've applied the new know-how.
This is going to be fun! I have yet to do mine, but I will soon.
I anticipate putting out the new lesson this coming Thursday.
Stay Tuned.

Beyond The Basics

[Let's learn photoshop together]

A month or so ago I started experimenting with photoshop beyond the normal, everyday adjustments I used the program for. It all started with my pursuit to merge a photo with a piece of scrapbook paper containing text.

Love Notes
This was my first experiment.

I quickly realized that layers are the most powerful tool that photoshop has to offer.
Once you harness the dynamics of layers, you will begin to understand all that is possible when you learn to use this function properly.

When I initially had the urge to learn how to use layers, all I really knew was that
I wanted to apply a texture to a photo. At the time, I didn't know what to look for when attempting to figure it out. After many searches, I finally discovered that I needed to learn how to use layers to assist me with what I had in mind. Finding resources on using layers is a lot easier than trying to find something that will teach you how to add texture. Essentially, it is the same thing.

Sweet Lullaby
This was my second experiment

When I first started I really only learned the bottom of the barrel basics. I was so eager to start that I didn't really take enough time to learn properly. A lot of what I accomplished was by trial and error. Video tutorials are what have helped me the most, as well as books that have accompanying photos. It's no surprise that I learn the most from visual media. You can explain something to me all day long but, until I see it, I probably don't fully understand! Cody knows this better than anybody :o)

~ E N I G M A ~

Using layers is also good for those who aren't interested in adding texture, because it allows you to make non-destructive changes to your original photo. I have found this rather helpful video on using layers that I think will help anyone interested in learning more about photoshop. If you use Paint Shop Pro, the concept is the same but, the steps won't be exact. It is a somewhat long, but definitely worth what you will learn so take the time to view it. He's not as boring as some people who host videos, which makes it a bit easier to pay attention. His way of explaining layers by using a sandwich is very clever, and easy to understand.

The above video is a pretty basic assessment of how layers work together.

Below is another video I found to be equally interesting and informative, but a little more in depth. What I propose is that you watch the video in it's entirety.
Then actually go in and try out what you have learned with the video close by so that you can reference it.

The photo below of the concrete texture is my gift to you.
Please use it to add texture to a photo you have, and share the results.
Pick a photo from your hard drive, save my concrete texture so that you can open it up in photoshop. Apply the texture using what you learned about layers, and manipulate it in whatever way fits with the photo. If you have any questions whatsoever, please post them here in the comment section and I will reply.

Concrete Texture
Larger Version

I know it would be better if I could do my own tutorials but doing so would take time away from my ability to produce what I envision. With that being said, I still want to help you in your pursuit to learn more about the seemingly scary world of photoshop. I have gotten many inquires about how I did something to a particular photo, which sparked my idea of us learning photoshop together. I am no where near being an expert, but I feel it's necessary to share what I have learned with you, so that in the process we can teach one another and offer support. I already have a few topics that I will cover, but I welcome any suggestions or interests you have as well.

With the next installment of "Let's learn photoshop together", I would love to include links to the photos in which you applied your newfound skill (so send them to me!). Especially if you used the concrete texture above. I myself have yet to use it with a photo, so I'll create one as well. This is not meant to be a challenge , and should only interest people who have photoshop (or an equivalent) and are looking to further their knowledge of the program. If you have any friends, bring them too!

Do you think something like this will be helpful to you? Are you interested in playing along?
Any and all comments are welcomed and appreciated.

P.S. The next one will not be nearly as long!!

I Love Postcards : Greeting from Wudang

Wudang Mountain PC

Ancient Architectural Complex on Wudang Mountain

Situated in Hubei Province, Wudang Mountain is a famous mountain sacred to Taoism and birthplace of the art of Wudang Boxing. The scenery here is very beautiful. A lot of marks of long history and rich culture of the mountain can be found on the mountain, while the Taoist architectural complex, mostly built in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), was inscribed on the World Heritage List. The main tourist spot are Xuanyue Gate, Yuanhe Taoist Temple, Yuzhen Palace, Zixiao Palace and Golden Hall.

See a photo slideshow: HERE

China Stamp

Mount Wudang is perhaps the most famous Taoism holy land in China.
Read more about its history: HERE

I am in need of a getaway.....
I wonder what we can cook up this weekend?!
Surely it won't take me to the sacred mountain tops of Wudang,
but it should be a retreat of sorts.
One that will allow me to reconnect with myself, and nature.
I have a place in mind....

Where the Sun Shines

Where the Sun Shines
View Large On Black

Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.
~Marcel Proust~

I was surprised with a beautiful trio of sunflowers yesterday.
After a particularly rough day (for various reasons),
Cody came home with the surefire tension tamers.
I never really knew how happy flowers made me until
Cody made it a point to shower me with them.
These days they come a lot more sporadically,
but he seems to know exactly when to bestow me with the perfect bouquet.

Who are you grateful for? and why?

Ashe County Disc Golf Course

View from Number 2

I've played with Cody and one of his friends before when we were visiting Atlanta.
That course was very different from the one in Ashe County.
The objective, for those who are not up to speed, is to launch a frisbee-like disc toward a goal.
See photo below of Cody hurling his disc, oh and, he wants to make sure that I tell you he didn't hit the tree that it appears to be headed toward.

What you see below is one of the baskets.
The sound of chains clank when you've managed to score.
Now, like 'real' golf, the holes or baskets still have a par that you shoot for.
The averages for most were par 3, which by the way, I didn't come close to maintaining!
Good thing no one in our group was interested in keeping score anyhow.

Disc Golf Basket

The valley that the course was nestled in was simply beautiful, and very serene.
Even with a tournament going on.
Of all the days we could have ventured to the disc-golf course.....they were having a competition!
They basically told us that we could play as long as we stayed out of the pros way.
We slipped in behind a group after they blew the air horn.

The Boys

We weren't rushing, but we wanted to stay a hole or two in front of the group behind us.
We did really well with staying out of everyone's way, until we reached hole 9.
Number 8 took us up a hill, and into the woods where we were stopped by two groups waiting to throw.

Number 9

When it was finally our turn to go, we walked over to the concrete pad and looked out
through the gap between the trees.......the basket was waaaaaaaaay down there!
I had no idea how the heck I was going to get my disc down there?!?!
It was 553 ft away, only a yellow blip amongst the green lawn.
The little sign cautions you to WATCH FOR PEDESTRIANS!
If you hit someone it's your fault + responsibility.
They have a sign, it's had to have happened at some point!

Far Away Number 9

Here is a zoomed shot of the basket, it still looks far away!
We watched a group of guys that were competing take their turns.
Once they were done, we took our turn......
I'm only going to say we were no where near hitting a par 4!
If was definitely fun to try, I almost didn't, but they talked me into it.

From Number 9's Basket

We hiked down to the bottom to fetch our discs.
Throwing until we all reached the basket.
From the end it looked just as distant, if not further than what we remembered.

The Path

I'm glad we were coming down that path!

After getting stuck behind two groups at another hole, we decided to pack it up.
The area was very pretty, I think Cody will have no problem getting me back out there some time soon.

Charlie Swing

Just for fun, here's a photo of Charlie.
I didn't have time to select my settings, so this motion shot was taken.
It makes me laugh :o)

Ever play disc-golf?
What sorts of games do you play outdoors?

*Luminescent Essence*

Luminescent Essence

Pleasure is very seldom found where it is sought. Our brightest blazes are commonly kindled by unexpected sparks.
~Samuel Johnson~

A couple of Cody's friends are in town this weekend and they are staying with us.
After breakfast this morning we headed to the disc golf course in Ashe County.
We were only able to get through half of the 18 hole course since they were holding a tournament.
It was a very scenic course, we had a fun-filled day.

On the way home, we took the scenic route through Todd.
Bordering the New River almost the entire way,
it was a leisurely drive that we all enjoyed.

We ended the day cooking out.
The kabobs were delicious!

Hope you're all having a great weekend so far.

Subtle Sensitivity

The lull came with the rain,
and has remained......
The delicate balance between my heart,
and mind discreetly cohere.....
As they wearily await.

On a lighter note:
I've had my eye on this Hydrangea bush downtown for about a week now.
Decompressing was vital when I got home from work,
I immediately said, "I want to go take photos of the Hy-dran-ge-a!"
I have this funny way of saying the word Hydrangea,
emphasizing the ge-a for some reason?!
Is it Friday yet?!

Moments : Stormy Weather

Moments : Stormy Weather

Today was sticky, rainy, and dreary.....
It's no surprise that I got sidetracked, and......
No excuses....
But I got the urge to work on some new stuff.......
The photo above was one thing I came up with.....
You could say, "It's Fresh"....haha....or not!
I also made an ArtCard and played with it in photoshop.....
I don't like it yet......
So I'll wait before sharing it with you :o)

Anyone have any "Moments" they want to share?

~Dainty White~

Dainty White

A flower's appeal is in its contradictions - so delicate in form yet strong in fragrance, so small in size yet big in beauty, so short in life yet long on effect.
~Adabella Radici~

It seems like it's been far too long since I've taken any TtV photos.
This is one I took a couple weeks ago with the Enigma shot.
As you can tell, some texture effects were added.
The flowers remind me of vintage lace, which is how I got around to adding those particular style of layers.
Dainty White was the magnet that Liss won in the contest - I think she'll like it!

Speaking of magnets, you six lucky winners will be happy to know I mailed the prizes to you today. Please let me know once you receive them. To those of you who weren't so lucky, bear with me, a BIGGER and BETTER prize giveaway is in the works. I don't have all my ducks in a row, yet, but soon! I know, I know, promises.....promises.

Oh yeah, and before I forget (since it's waaaay past my bedtime), I wrote an article about TtV that was published on the blog Words:Irrational. Alright, who am I kidding.....I have been working on this piece for Mr. A Marques for sometime now.....I can't help it, I'm slow! If you're interested in the technique you may want to have a read, I worked pretty diligently on this please do let me know what you think.

Be creative with old cameras - Through the Viewfinder

...:::The Shining:::...

The Shining

There are two kinds of light - the glow that illumines, and the glare that obscures.

~James Thurber~

This week I plan to hold the BIG giveaway!!
I have finally prepared the six magnets to send out to their new homes.
Thanks again to everyone who played along with the first giveaway!

Other than fireworks on Friday, we haven't been anywhere this weekend.
The weather was not very favorable, it rained quite a bit.
Good thing it held off for the festivities, I love fireworks!
I'll share some photographs with you soon.

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend :o)


Six Down......

"{366} Photographic Journal"

In one short month I have been through so many different phases. Some of those moments I would be on top of the world, and others, well, I was stuck in a rut. This constant flux of balance and imbalance is something I have learned to deal with. Especially since my physical state plays an enormous part in how I am able to handle these ups and downs. Pain is very humbling.

When I look back over the course of a mere months time, I am reminded of the tiny tidbits - good and bad - that have escaped my mind. I have these souvenirs of astounding beauty I have beheld, and a record of the goals I/we have accomplished, some of which may have seemed insignificant at the point in time they took place.

This project of taking a photograph everyday for an entire year has worked wonders for how I see with my eyes, mind, and heart. My goal of turning nothing into something never ceases to surprise me. Before me is proof that practice makes 'perfect', all the while emphasizing the fact that I have so much more to learn, and a long way to go! I'm also beginning to recognize a path that is undeniably mine to follow laying right beneath my feet. I have never been more sure or passionate about anything in my life. However refreshing that revelation may be, it still scares the tar out of me.

Bring on the ADVENTURE!!

{366} June

1. Glen Burney Falls, 2. Columbine, 3. New Table #155, 4. Coastal Redwood #156, 5. Blackberry Blossom, 6. Painting in Progress, 7. All Done!, 8. Spilt Cherries, 9. I forgot #2, 10. Someone Else's Turn, 11. I forgot #3, 12. Wild Prarie Rose, 13. I sold my first print!, 14. Flea Market Find, 15. Kabobs, 16. Prairie Rose Posterior, 17. Concrete Texture, 18. Blush Blossoms, 19. L A N G U I S H, 20. S U C C U M B, 21. Untitled, 22. European Columbine, 23. TtV Magnets, 24. Finished Magnet, 25. My Nightstand, 26. Ely's Favorite Spot, 27. Handcrafted Frames by Cody, 28. Obstacle in my Way, 29. Sunny Side, 30. The Winners
*Clicking on the above links will take you to larger photo in Flickr*

~My Favorites from JUNE~

153. Glen Burney Falls
Glen Burney Falls

160. Spilt Cherries
Spilt Cherries

165. I sold my first print!
I sold my first print!

168. Prairie Rose Posterior
Prairie Rose Posterior

171. L A N G U I S H

172. S U C C U M B

173. Another Word for Dying.....

181. Sunny Side
Sunny Side

From the beginning:
{366} Photographic Journal

Let's go for a Walk.......

I went for a walk on Saturday afternoon while Cody was at work.
I picked a hike that I've done a few times, and wasn't too far from the house.
By the time you reach this fence, you've gone about half way on the two mile hike.
By the time I reached the fence I was huffing and puffing!

Walk With Me

When I picked the hike it was based on my thoughts of doing something low impact.
Especially since I've been having trouble with my left heel.
Apparently, I failed to remember any characteristics regarding the trail.
That so called easy hike really gave me a run for my money!
I'm pretty spoiled when hiking with Cody since he carries all my camera gear.
The extra load was wearing on me by the time I reached the gate.
I took the opportunity to rest.

Path Before Me

As you can see the path before me opens up to a fairly large field.
Normally, I would take a little break and sit for a moment on the bench beneath those trees you see in the distance.
I had to talk myself into going further because I was surprised to find that I had company.
And I'm not talking other hikers either..........

Obstacle in my Way


I know that they are harmless, but that doesn't mean I don't acknowledge how much bigger they are.
Thankfully I only came across like 15 of them.
I took some time to grab a couple of photos, occasionally I turned my camera to the opposite side of the field.
As I attempted to get some landscape shots I could hear some shuffling behind me.......
I quickly - and in a paranoid fashion - would turn around to find the herd a foot closer!
They were messin' with me.......lemme ask you a question......
Have you ever played "Red light, Green light" with cows before?!
I did, and it was weirding me out!!


Especially "Beastie" here......
The black cows were a lot scarier than the brown ones.


"Bessie" was a lot more approachable.
I wasn't petting them or anything, but I was close enough.....
She let me take a few photos, although you can't really say she was cooperating.
I only got two shots of her face, the other time she was stuffing it with grass.

Get On Outta Here

She had enough fame for one day,
and that's when she started shooing me away!
"Get on outta here!", she mooed.
I listened and kindly continued my hike.......

Nearing the End

A part that I forgot about in particular was the uphill climb from the field to the mountain view shown above.
It wasn't too horrible, I made it through.
I had a very fun and sweaty time on my solo hike.
It was nice to get outside.

Once I got to the car, Cody called and we decided to go eat some BBQ because I had a hankerin'!

**Contest Update**
We are currently waiting for two more people to select their magnets.
It's been very interesting so far. I think it's fun!
I'm sorry about the confusion; those rules are somewhat hard to translate.
Once we are done picking magnets a new giveaway will start, and that one will be for even better prizes! Stay tuned :o)