Thistle Portrait



Whenever I go out for a photography outing, besides photographing beautiful landscapes, seascapes, plants, flowers…, I also take picture of brick walls, stonewalls, closeup of stone patterns, tree barks or intentionally blurry images to be used later as texture or color background for other images.

The image above was created with a photo of thistles and a photo of a blurry backlit wooded area.

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I’ve edited my images in Photoshop CS5. I first opened the thistles image, used marque tool to copy the big thistle onto a separate layer, used layer effects – Bevel and Emboss – on this layer to make a frame, then lower the opacity of the layer down to around 50% and changed layer mode to “screen”. So far, this is my result.


I sat there and stared at this for a while to see what else I would like to do. I then decided to use a different effect on the thistle. On the  big thistle layer, I used Filters->Sketch->Bas relief. I also like to make the background with less color. I did this step by creating a Black and White adjustment layer above the main background layer, then decreased layer opacity down to around 50%. I also cut off the rest of image and left with the following image.


Now what, I was still not really happy with this image. I went back to my stash of photographs and pull out a blurry photograph which was shown at the beginning. I copied this blurry photo onto a new layer on top of the thistle, changed layer mode to “overlay”. I then used layer effect->pattern overlay on this blurry image. I finally liked the result. I flattened the file, used Filters->Textures->Texturizer->Canvas to give the whole image a little of canvas texture. And that was the result you saw at the beginning of this blog and this image will be added to my collection of greeting cards.



Nature-made structure


Look closely at any small creature, plant, flower or big tree, you would see a complicated structure which Mother Nature has created to amaze us. These structures are so intricate, so beautiful. The image above is of a black swallowtail butterfly chrysalis.

Below is a drying rudbeckia (black-eye susan) showing off its pyramid-like central part. Gold finches love plucking off seeds from these heads. At the end of the season after these flowers dry-up, I do not cut them down at all. My garden might not be tidy but it provides a delightful scene with flock of gold finches, perch themselves on these flower heads and gorge on these tiny seeds.


Below is a picture of 2 different species of autumn sedum. Flower structures are distinctly different.


Leaf structure is also a delightful thing to see. Waterlily leaf spread itself out on water surface to catch sunlight. Elephant leaf has a beautiful and intricate vein system.



And I like to finish this post with an image of a wonderful big tree with strange, animal-like shapes trunk. Unfortunately, I don’t know this tree’s name.


Making Greeting Cards From Photographs



Have I ever mentioned that besides my love of taking pictures, I am also in love with “photoshop-ping” pictures.  Mind you, I use only my own photographs. From time to time, whenever I am in the photoshop mood, I would scroll through my photographs collection and see what I could do to turn them into greeting cards. I D140331_11_72use these greeting cards for my own purpose and every once in a while, sell them through art fairs. I have just recently created an account in Fine Art America to sell my photographs. This image of a sheep was created using Photoshop CS5 from the original image underneath which I took a few years ago in Charleston, SC.

Throughout the years I have been playing in Photoshop, I have learned that sometimes with just a so so picture, I could turn it into a worthy image (in my own opinion, of course) for greeting card through the use of filters. I challenge myself to use only filters which come with Photoshop. It is not for any nobly reason. It is just a way to keep down cost. If you know anything about Photoshop, you would already notice that I am still using CS5 which is ancient by Photoshop world by now. It still works for my purpose, so why spend more money?

I’ve noticed that thiD100716_3_09_origs little hummer liked to hang around this cardinal flower stalk in my backyard. So, one day, I camped out there with my camera on a tripod, manually focus onto the flower stalk and waited for her to show up. Once she showed up, she danced around the stalk for several minutes and I just clicked until she flew away.D100716_3_09

I took this image of a great blue heron in Chincoteague Wildlife Refuge on Virginia side.

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Goldfinches love picking seeds from Coneflowers and also from Rudbeckia (Black Eye Susan). I took this picture (from my dining room window) of a pair of goldfinches perching on rudbeckia stalks and eating flower seeds. Rudbeckia flowers were in the background.

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After snowstorms, I sometimes bundle up to go out for photography outings. I like to use snow images for Christmas Cards which I send to my family members and friends every year. This Japanese tea house on a lake image was taken at  Brookside Garden in Wheaton, Maryland.D100215_1_081

The next 2 sets of snowscapes were taken in Ellicott City in Maryland.



Through these examples, don’t you agree these greeting cards look pretty decent?






Trip to Strasburg, Pennsylvania


A few years ago in June, I tagged along with a friend for a day trip to Strasburg, PA.  She came up to drop off her art pieces for an art show. It was a pretty, quaint town in Lancaster County. The image above I took on the way into town. Shortly afterward, we saw this nice looking church, picture below. We stopped there for a short while to take picture of it and the surrounding area. It turned out that this church was built in 1832.



I can’t recall if I saw any written information about the house above beside this sign below, says Strasburg, Pennsylvania – 1790 – Presented by the Heritage Society.

Most of the time whenever I go somewhere, I would try to take picture of street name, place’s name, landmark’s name as a way of recording information of the place instead of making notes. I have found that it is very useful this way instead of trying to match pictures with notes later.

Further down the road, we came to a corner with road signs you see below which made me think we had arrived in downtown or at least a popular plaza. So, of course, we had to stop and walked around.


The next several pictures I took from walking around this place.









Afterward, we had lunch then drove to outskirt of Strasburg to see if there was anything else for us to take picture. We saw a covered bridge next to a farm.





The oldest Amish settlement in US is in Lancaster County (known as Pennsylvania Dutch Country). Of course, since we were in this Amish area, sooner or later, we would encounter Amish buggy.



It was time to head home after a beautiful outing.

Reflections on Water


We have a wonderful Sunday today with blue sky, puffy white clouds and low 80s temperature. The ground is still pretty soggy after a few days of rain. Wet weather in the past few days has reminded me of those images I took of reflections on water. A few days ago, I showed to you a few of my reflections on glass windows images. Today, you will look at some of my reflections on water.  It seems to me they are 2 different species. When I look at a reflections on glass panels image, I feel that I am on the ground and steady. But when I look at a reflections on water image, I have a feeling that I am flying in the air and a bit unsteady, dizzy. The mirror effect in reflections on water ripples sometimes make a scene looks unreal, strange but mesmerizing. The image above was an image of dead leaves and their reflections on a ripples water surface. I took it on a beautiful sunny late morning in Fall last year. What do you think about this image? I think it looked like an alien fish swimming in a sea of golden water.


This one above and the one below reminded me of Op-Arts, popular in the 50s (I think). That was why I changed them to Black and White. They were reflections of a rectangular pergola on a pier.


And sometimes, the reflections do not resemble the object at all due to waves which totally distort the image and give it a brand new life. The image below I took while I was on a pontoon boat. The waves caused by the boat’s engine made reflections image of a small tree and bushes into a heart and a unicorn.



Reflections on Glass Windows


I have been trying to understand all the WorldPress Blog terminologies while going through setting up process for the last 2 days. My head is spinning. I have to take a break from beautifying my blog.

One of my relaxing method is going through my pictures which I have been taking throughout the years. I came upon these images which I took in Baltimore City several years ago for a theme on reflections on glass windows. I like the distortion look of objects on these window panes. These distorted images make me feel like I have painted abstract paintings which I’ve known I have never had talent to do so. But this way, I can at least give a pat on my back and dream.




Dreaming of a beach vacation


It’s been raining outside the whole morning and still going. Days like this just make me dream of a beach with sunshine, warm sand and cool waves. I took this picture around 9am from my hotel room balcony. The light was pretty bright. I like this picture because it gives a 3-D effect dues to layers and contrast of colors. Front layer forms by a line of fence running across the image. The sandy area between the fence and water forms the second layer and then water forms the third layer. Beach umbrellas and chairs form another layer above the sand and their colors (blue, green, red) against the yellow color of sand.

Anyway, back to my blog project here. I’ve been playing with my blog’s name, background color, fonts…all day long today. So far, I’ve settled with the name shown above. I might change it later whenever I can think of a more catchy name. Talking about name, I need to give today’s blog a name too.

Colorful Bubbles


Let’s see what I can write for my first blog. This is my first time ever trying to work with WordPress. It is not really easy to understand. In fact, everything I have tried up to this point is guessing. I have not read any tutorial to work with WordPress. I have just wanted to see if interfaces are easy to understand and to follow but so far, it is not the case. All I have done was to sign up for an account, to pick a theme. These steps were easy. But now, how do I start with the setup – to name my site, to upload my logo, to make my feature post, my first post, to upload and select images for my posts…Up to now, it seems to me photography is much easier to deal with than creating and writing for this blog.