August Skies

In my new suburban paradise, I have seen some beautiful skies.  It’s the middle of Monsoon, which has been a bit odd this year.  Not as many big storms, more hot and muggy days.  It’s all right.  Weather varies, and no one can predict it all the time.

Mindflight may be taking a new turn, but it is certainly not gone.  Much has changed in my life but my priorities are the same.  I want to share inspiration that will remind everyone to reach toward their dreams.  In fact, now I want to do that more than ever!  More details in days to come.

Here are some skyscapes from my new neighborhood – which I love.  Expect to see ideas for home improvement projects and possibly some grilling tips as I settle into home ownership!

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Lines and Spines

Arizona has some fascinating uses of line in the natural landscape.  Here are a few examples.

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Here is a proud cactus who sits outside my Carniceria – I loved the contrast so much I had to make it into an art print.

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This tree draws a fantastic line at my local park…

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And these radial lines are interesting in their interplay.  They are pines from that same park.

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These are lines courtesy of my acacia tree, painted against the summer sky.

 

via Photo Challenge: Lines

My Favorite Place

I’d have to say my favorite place is Arizona.

Can anyone doubt it?

The views, the weather, the critters, the plants, the people, the food.  It’s great!

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I liked this cactus so much against its blue background, I turned it into an “art photo!”

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View!

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And view!

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And huge prickly pear!

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And a cool tree!

This is at my local park, which is one of my favorite places – within my favorite place.

 

via Photo Challenge: Favorite Place

Out of this world – amateur lunar photography

I have so much fun with my little Nikon.  If I brace it just right (usually on the mailbox or the hood of my car) and zoom in on the moon all the way, I can get some pretty decent shots.

Once, I used a sponge floor mop as a monopod.  That worked pretty well!  The sponge protected the camera and the handle provided some much needed stability as I propped it on the ground.

Here are a few!

 

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If that isn’t out of this world enough, here is a photo of the moon that makes it look all strange and mysterious.

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https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/out-of-this-world/

A Winter Thought

As I write from normally sunny Arizona (today it’s cloudy and dry) I cast my mind back other Yuletide seasons in my past.  I don’t miss snow and cold but it sure makes some beautiful memories.

One thing I recall is the silence of a fresh snowfall.

Have you ever heard anything so quiet as when there is no traffic on the street, no one chattering or clumping along in snow boots, and all the night sounds are muffled in a fresh blanket of snow?  And have you ever seen anything so peaceful as when the flakes are swirling down and looking up into the black night sky is like gazing into hyperspace?

I remember one particular night when there were ice crystals rimming every branch and pure white covered the ground, mounding up on every horizontal surface.  I stood in my front yard, breathing in that dry snow-smell, admiring the crystalline icicles and not wanting to shatter that quiet.  I just watched, letting my senses drink it all in.

I rarely saw deep snowfalls as a child so each one was special to me.  I lived in the rather wet Pacific Northwest so snow was sporadic at best.  Back then I didn’t have to drive in it, or go to work, and my main concern was simply if the snow would pack down well or not.  I miss those snowfalls, and that lack of worry, but at the same time I really appreciate my new, dry, sunlit life.

Icy branches

(Photography by Lenore Plassman)

via Daily Prompt: Silent

Beginner’s tips to improve your photos

Do you want to improve your photos by quite a bit, without getting a degree in art or photography?  Make them stand out, and really shine?  Improve the contrast and crop it properly!  It’s simple to do, and I’ll show you how.

(My instructions are for the free art program GIMP, but the process is the same for any photo editing program.)

It’s pretty simple.  First, open your photo in GIMP or your favorite photo editing software.  For folks who are new to this, that usually means right clicking on the picture file and selecting “open with” then picking what you want to open in.

So, now you have your photo open.  Maybe it looks like this.example 1

Not a bad picture, really, but maybe you want to see the lioness better.  So draw a box around the area you want to keep with your selection tool (usually looks like a rectangle in the toolbar) and then use “Crop to Selection.”  In GIMP, that can be found under “Image,” up in the menu.  You’ll get something like this:

example 2

Better, but it could look even better than that!  So try this:  in GIMP, in the menu at the top, go to “Colors” then “auto” then “white balance.”  You’ll get something like this:

example 3

If you don’t like how that turned out, you can go to “Colors” then “Brightness and Contrast” and move the sliders around till you get something you like, like this:

example 4

Sometimes you can preserve the colors better by using the “Brightness and Contrast” tool rather than the automatic white balance, it depends on the photo.  If you are not using GIMP, but instead another program, there will be similar options but they may be called something different.

In any case, there’s a lot you can do to improve an image with very little effort!