Visioning

photography and digital scrapbooking


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Fall Nature Walk and Border Collie Puppy Photos

Sometimes it is fun to take my point and shoot on a casual walk and not worry about settings. I snapped a few photos this week and chose easy editing with quick Instagram-like Photoshop actions. I hope you enjoy the photos!

The Encore azalea photo shows about one third of our display. It has been lovely this year and really brightens up the view in our back yard. The hanging baskets are hanging in there, but slowly losing flowers and gaining fallen leaves in and around the stems. We have a few tomatoes trying to ripen at this late stage of the season. I miss having a ready supply of tomatoes and my thoughts often drift to planting seeds in about four months.

The bridge on our nature trail got a new coat of paint this fall. It is a nice place to pause and look over the edge for fish and animal tracks in the mud. With a typical daytime temperature of 80 degrees, we still have a lot of green leaves on the trees, but slowly the golds and reds are showing up. We see deer often now when we walk the trail! Some neighbors have set up feeding stations and the deer gather in late afternoon for snacks.

My friend, Cheryl, has a Border Collie puppy! Little Ally comes to visit us occasionally and we enjoy her so much! She is growing fast and quickly picking up on Cheryl’s training program. Cheryl is following Cesar Milan’s book for training puppies. Training for good manners is not easy. A Border Collie puppy is so full of energy and strongly driven by instinct to jump and try herding activity. But Ally is doing great at age 6 months. Cheryl will gradually introduce Ally to the opportunity to herd and practice agility courses. We are certainly having fun as “Aunt” and “Uncle” to Ally!


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Autumn Winged Things

Changes are in the air and the winged things are even more delightful to watch. Hummingbirds are frantically active; chattering and fighting over the feeders we provide for them. They are molting at this time of year. We sometimes see tiny feathers fall as they hover near the feeders. I found one and saved it.

Carpenter bees are desperate to find the last grains of pollen. They especially like the sedum and basil flowers. This female worker was aware of my presence and constantly adjusted her position to face me and stay a comfortable distance. Persistence on my part paid off when she let down her guard for a moment.

Yellow leaves have already begun floating into the yard. We will have a lot to rake or blow into piles and bag. But I don’t mind. I like the exercise and being outside in the cool autumn air.

Numerous butterflies were a constant and welcome sight this summer. They are still visiting the butterfly bush from early morning until almost dark.

Summer went by quickly. But autumn is my favorite season, so I am welcoming it and getting ready to make some changes myself. Enjoy your week and remember to peek at the little winged things if you have them nearby!


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Photographing a Male Ruby-throated Hummingbird: A Simple Strategy

Our feisty Ruby-throated hummingbirds arrived a little late this year. We put the feeders out in April and faithfully filled and cleaned them all summer. Finally in July, three birds decided to claim our yard as their territory. We love watching them fatten up for their long migration next month!

Today the cloudy sky created good light, so I set up my tripod, attached the remote shutter release, and carefully considered my camera settings. Determined to photograph the male hummingbird, I felt it would be easy since he was feeding and zipping around the yard all morning. I soon realized he was chasing other birds more than eating, so I needed a strategy. I decided to place all the feeders on the porch except the one in front of my camera. Then I added a misting spray of water from the garden hose to make the remaining feeder more interesting. The strategy worked and the male finally posed in all his orangey-red-throated glory!

Click photos to view in higher resolution.

All photos: Canon 60D, aperture priority, RAW format, AI Servo AF, continuous high speed, partial metering, ISO 2000, 200mm, f/11, 1/250 for the perched photos and 1/400 and 1/500 for the flying photos. Exposure compensation: -1 to help produce a proper exposure of the lighter hummingbird on the darker green background. I set the focal point on the right flower port. When the hummingbird came into that plane of focus, the f/11 aperture allowed his eyes and most of his body to remain in focus. In post processing, I was able to retain most of the light feather texture, even after increasing the exposure by about 1 stop. I experimented with reducing noise in Nik Define 2.0, but ultimately decided to accept the noise generated from ISO 2000.


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Vintage Charm in Ashland County

Designs on antique window frames, peeling paint, and rusted metal are the vintage elements I love to discover and photograph.  Our recent trip to my home state of Ohio included visits to back roads and small towns where I was fortunate to find some favorite photography subjects. I especially enjoyed discovering the beautifully detailed vintage house. It is currently under renovation and will eventually be a focal point on a quiet street near downtown Ashland.

We were fortunate to have good weather and a little more time than usual during our stay in Ohio. I was able to visit other rural areas in the north central part of the state and will be posting those photos soon.


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The Coolest Garden Colors: Hydrangea

One of my favorite plants is blooming! We grow the bigleaf species of hydrangea and one angel wing bush. I love these old-fashioned plants for the vibrant cool colors, but also because they are nearly maintenance free. The only care we provide is to fertilize them once or twice per year. We have not tried to change the colors by changing the pH of the soil. But it would be fun to try next year. I would love to see dark pink mixed with the blue and purple!


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Eastern Box Turtle and Baby Birds

Thanks to my neighbor, Yvette, I was able to photograph an eastern box turtle today! She found him on her patio and gave him water while she waited for me to arrive. Our guess is that he was searching for water. Rainfall has been scarce this spring and judging from the turtle’s eager approach to the water, he was thirsty.

I placed the turtle on a large rock and shot the photos from various angles. I used a macro lens and handheld the camera. After the photo shoot, we returned him to the shade and his much-needed water.

Our baby cardinals are five days old. They will be ready to fly in six or seven days! They briefly woke when I gently moved the branches back and snapped two photos with my compact camera. Amazing how wild babies are so aware of their surroundings and how quickly they grow! I hope to take at least one more photo before they leave the nest.


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Photographing My Flower Garden

Spring 2012 brought perfect conditions for my flower garden. I am taking advantage of the comfortable temperatures to photograph the prettiest flowers and practice various compositions. I love macro shots, but also enjoy seeing a bit of the background where the flowers grow. After composing a few macro shots, I placed my tripod eight to ten feet from the flowers. Using a focal length of 200mm and small apertures (f11-f20), I obtained a greater depth of field and produced a glimpse of the area behind the flower groupings.

The Hydrangeas are just starting to bloom, and Gardenia blossoms will be next. I am watching the Gardenia closely for another reason – a cardinal couple built a nest there. Two little babies hatched yesterday! I stay away from the nest to avoid scaring the birds, but if I get a chance I will photograph the babies soon.


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Spring Flower Photography

Flower photography is a joy this spring. The weather has been excellent for weeks, providing lots of warm sunshine and cool breezes. Many flowers are in full bloom, but none have captured my interest more than the Foxglove plants. I started them from seed last year. They do not bloom the first year, so it has been a long wait! The twelve plants are blooming in shades of purple, pink and white. The Snapdragons were also started from seed last year. They over-wintered in our raised-bed garden, spreading and growing to a height of three feet. Photographing the tall Foxglove spires and Snapdragons was a challenge, because they sway constantly in the wind. Fortunately, I had plenty of light which allowed me to freeze motion with a fast shutter speed.

Which flowers are currently blooming in your gardens? Are you enjoying wildflowers too? I would love to hear from you and see your spring flower photos!


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Digital Flowers and Collage

My love of art, photography, and technology comes together when I use my photos to produce secondary files. I use a variety of Photoshop techniques to extract a subject from the background and prepare it for use as a single element. “Painterly Flowers” is an example of extracted flowers that I processed for a subtle painted texture. The flowers add a realistic touch of nature to digital layouts and cards.

I designed the “Composed” line of digital collage by arranging highly textured papers, adding paint, then transforming each collage into a digital file. The color version is ready to use.  The grayscale templates allow for customization by adding a color fill in Photoshop or other image-editing software. The papers crop easily to 8.5 x 11. For a custom fabric, design a layout with a collage paper background and images of your choice, then print on fabric sheets made for ink jet printers. Use the entire sheet to cover a journal, or cut pieces for use in art journals or mixed media projects.

(Digital scrapbooking products used are no longer available.)

Click on the first image to open the gallery.

“Delight” digital scrapbooking layout by Karen Chandler uses:

  • Mini Paper: Composed
  • Embellishment Mini: Painterly Flowers
  • Maxi Embellishments: Botanicals Autumn 1
  • Maxi Embellishments: Botanicals Autumn 3
  • ScrapHappy Embellishment Templates Maxi: Old Photo Frames
  • ScrapHappy Paper Templates Midi: Doilies 3
  • ScrapHappy Embellishment Templates Midi: Banners with Type Paths
  • Eclectic Autumn Maxi Kit

“Peek – a boo” digital scrapbooking layout by Karen Chandler uses:

  • Mini Embellishments: Painterly Flowers
  • Mini Paper: Composed
  • ScrapHappy Brushes Midi: Old Photo Edges
  • ScrapHappy Brushes Midi: Edges
  • ScrapHappy Styles Maxi: Chalk Fill Warm CK01
  • ScrapHappy Styles Midi: Zippy VR01
  • Dreams Mini Kit
  • Eclectic Autumn Maxi Kit
  • Maxi Embellishments: Botanicals Autumn 2

“Barbie Purse” digital scrapbooking layout by Karen Chandler uses:

  • ScrapHappy Paper Templates Midi: Composed
  • Mini Embellishments: Painterly Flowers
  • ScrapHappy Page Templates Mini: In The Round 2
  • Maxi Embellishments: Botanicals Autumn 1
  • Maxi Embellishments: Botanicals Autumn 3
  • Eclectic Autumn Maxi Kit
  • About Mom Mini Kit
  • Maxi Embellishments: Transparent Tape
  • ScrapHappy Styles Midi: Transparent Tape TK01
  • Maxi Embellishments: Document It Bis Maxi Kit
  • Dreams Mini Kit
  • Friendly Font

“Just Mommy!” digital scrapbooking layout by Karen Chandler uses:

  • ScrapHappy Paper Templates Midi: Composed
  • ScrapHappy Embellishment Template Midi: Photo Clusters 1
  • Life Story Midi Kit
  • Batik Maxi Kit
  • Maxi Paper: Journaling 2
  • ScrapHappy Styles Maxi: Glitter – Pastels JH02
  • ScrapHappy Brushes Midi: Well Worn

“Toddler Treasure Hunt” digital scrapbooking layout by Karen Chandler uses:

  • Dreams Mini Kit
  • ScrapHappy Page Templates Album: Baby Book 2
  • Mini Paper: Composed
  • Life Story Midi Kit
  • Maxi Paper: Journaling 2
  • ScrapHappy Styles Maxi: Glitter – Pastels JH02
  • ScrapHappy Brushes Midi: Well Worn


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Watching Winter Birds

The window feeder is getting a lot of traffic these days. At various times of the day I check out the activity and photograph the birds as the light changes. The House Finches are fun to watch. The female sometimes feeds the male. I included three photos showing him waiting, leaning forward for seed, then seed hulls around his beak. I was shooting high-speed continuous, but missed the exact moment she gave him the seed!

When I saw the black areas around the American Goldfinch’s head, beak and eyes, I thought he might have Avian Pox, a common disease of finches and other feeder birds. But after doing more research and comparing photos, I think those areas are due to molting which happens in late winter and again in late summer.

A Carolina Wren visits, but she is so fast I miss her every time. Cardinals are checking out the feeder, but are reluctant to land. Maybe they will get braver over time. A Cooper’s Hawk sat on our fence last week and ate his catch. I was not able to get a photo, but enjoyed watching him through the binoculars.

Have you seen interesting activity at your feeders this winter?

All photos Canon 60D.