Soft sky

I am amazed how much of the U.S. is under deep freeze right now. Many of the bloggers I follow are doing a great job finding the beauty or just chronicling the phenomenon of the polar vortex. Here are a couple, in case they aren’t in your WordPress Reader:

Meanwhile in California, we’re having a warm, dry winter. Here are shots from my evening walk:

2014-01-06_15-51-59_790 2014-01-06_15-58-10_499 2014-01-06_16-00-49_430 2014-01-06_16-03-17_901

I just had my phone with me. Sorry… the DSLR and even the compact camera are better. But at least I could get these shots. That’s the saving grace of a phone.

I’m blogging every other day this year so I have more time to visit other blogs.

Magical morning, March 30, 2013, Saratoga, California

The featured photo has been enhanced using GIMP Colors->Auto->White Balance followed by Colors->Auto->Color Enhance. It is the featured image because it’s more intense, but there is too much purple in the roof, and, arguably, in the fog. Here is the original.

Magical morning

This is a close up, not enhanced. (Because it is all fog, the over-purple effect of white balance and color enhance ruined it.)


In the next set, the first is original, the second, enhanced with white balance and color enhance. Very different feelings.

Zoomed less

Zoomed less enhanced

Mystical evening, Saratoga, California, March 28th

Software tips follow photos.

with some Nik Color Efex processing
with some Nik Color Efex processing



Well, as everyone who follows this blog knows, I am an avid follower of Leanne Cole’s Photography blog. (That link takes you to her latest post.) Now, Leanne is a professional artist. I am an absolute beginner. So why do I offer tips? Because I think there is value in the little things an absolute beginner has to offer to other people who might think like her and be in the same stage. Even if it’s only one other person out there in the blogisphere, who thinks like Nia Simone and finds value in her little trial-and-error discoveries on the way to someday, 20 years from now, actually being any good.

Leanne has talked about Nik software and Silver Efex. I recently  have acquired a Bamboo Craft. An amazing digitizing device. It was $50. (Another thing you’ll notice about Nia Simone’s blog, is everything has to be free or very inexpensive. I think actually, a lot of people can relate to that part!)

Anyway, the device is unbelievably wonderful and so is the software that came with it!!!! Corel Painter Essentials (heaven), Photoshop Elements (frightening, but I haven’t done the tutorial yet) and Nik Color Efex ( very hard to find –  it is under the Layer menu in Photoshop.)

The photo in the Featured Image of this post was taken in the evening with my DLSR propped on the top of my Subaru. (Tripod anyone?) The first photo in the post has had the Color Efex  layer applied. I lowered brilliance and warmth, merged the layers, and saved as JPEG. Then opened it in GIMP to scale it to 1000 pixels, my standard for this blog. I could not figure out how to do that in Photoshop.

Morning thoughts, a poem by Nia Simone

The Presence of the Tree

My computer glasses make me nearsighted
they dim what I can see beyond my computer screen
but when I gaze over their tops I see many leaves
upon a graceful tumult of branches.

Among the leaves moves the breeze
visible only by the presence of the tree.

© Nia Simone, 2/10/13

March 2, 2013
March 2, dawn