Saturday, September 29, 2007

Making things better

Today's entry not only gives you a small glimpse into my day, it also shows you what a little Lightroom can do to a picture. Here you can see how it can take a good photo (or an okay photo)and..... make it better.
Today we went to help my mother-in-law move some things to her new home. It's not actually moving day yet, but we got a few things moved to get boxes out of her way at the 'old' house. It's was a cool, sunny, autumn day, the kind of day that inspires curiosity. A little creek nearby was the main focus of curiosity for the little ones. Travis jumped down to the water below to attempt catching minnows with his bare hands. His little cousin, Abby, wanted to go down there too, but she is too little to jump down, and walking down would get her into poison ivy. She could barely contain her sence of adventure, she just squirmed with excitement and anticipation. She keep telling Travis, "I want to pet one!". The changes to this first photo were subtle, but needed.

but the changes to this photo were more dramatic.

I stopped in front of the house and caught my reflection. I've been experimenting with reflections and self-portraits a bit more lately. Lightroom really helped that photo ALOT!

Moving to the new house will make things better for mom, too.

Monday, September 24, 2007

New Tricks for an Old Dog

Were you expecting this to be about dogs? One of these days, this case I'm talking about myself. Last week I discovered that Flickr has groups, or Pools they call them, where folks with similar photo interests share their work. You can comment on each other's photos, and have message boards in there, which is great fun if you like taking pictures!
Why am I telling you this? Because that's where this old dog is learning new tricks!! This short post (did I hear someone say "Whew!" ?) is simply for sharing my very first attempt at trying HDR (High Dynamic Range) Photography. I used settings in Photoshop to make the three small photos here

into the one larger photo here

The photos are taken using a special setting on the camera, which allows the camera to take several shots of the same subject at different exposures. The photos are then layered in photoshop to make a more, well, dynamic photo. There are some amazing examples in Flickr, if anyone wants to venture over and browse around. I decided to post this to mark my entrance into this experiment, hopefully you'll see how I 'develope' (sorry about the pun!) my skills in this area.

Friday, September 21, 2007


Every October there is a civil war reinactment here in Boyle County, Kentucky. I've lived here for 16 years now, and last year was my first time going to see it. As scouts, we went to help with crowd control so we got a front row view of the shootings. Well, at least until the fight moved to the other side of the hill!

This entry is not meant to document the battle or the reenactment, but to share some of my favorite photos I took that weekend. I hope you enjoy them as much as we do.

The sun must like it out there, it always seems to dress in it's best for us!

As we walked through the camps we were surprised to see how they seemed to just sleep anywhere.
Does anyone still camp like that

We stopped a few times to chat with the rein actors. And they seemed to like the company.
This nice fellow and his mule were quite the attraction. He carefully warned the kids to be gentle with the animal, it was a bit skittish from abuse by prior owners. She seemed to enjoy the kids as much as they did, her!
And the kids like hanging around the props.

An earlier battle was staged for the press that was there, and I got to warm up the camera a bit...
We got to check out some of the main campsites before the battle began. These folks try to keep EVERYTHING true to the period! Most people can't even imagine what it must have been like to live in those days, much less fight!

I caught these two gals going down the hill, when we were going up the hill. I needed a good excuse to rest anyway. Aren't they cute?

This will give you a small idea how many reinactors come for this event.

This is just part on ONE camp!

Here are some of my favorites from the battle itself.

Does this look like a surrender?

Most of my favorites from the whole weekend was taken after the battle.

Does he have a cellphone!? Well, so much for authenticity! Lol! He probably wasn't expecting me to be zooming in on him either!

Here is a link about the battle
And a link about the Reinactment
I recommend attending this event to anyone who is even slightly interested in history, or the civil war, or just learning more about our country's history. Kids really enjoy it, and learn so much more when they experience it (me too!). It's more than just a battle!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

My Idea of Fun

Just in case some of you think all I do is sit around taking pictures of flowers and raindrops, I decided to share some photos from a scout outing this summer.

Kentucky is famous for it's vast number of caves. But not just anyone can go exploring them. An Eagle Scout from another troop is a member of a local grotto, and they invite us to go caving with them at least once a year now. I gotta tell you...I LOVE GOING CAVING!!! I may come out sore and muddy, but it's way too much fun to let that get in the way.

When we go, we usually drive out to the preserve in Rockcastle County on a Friday night, and set up camp. This is what the preserve looks like in daylight and and it's not raining! Camp was way down the road there!

This year it was pouring rain (and dark) when we got there, and we had to set up tents in that mess! Our tent (a larger tent we jokingly call the Taj Mahal) has a screen top, then is covered with a dew flap after setting up the tent. Imagine what a problem that is in the pouring rain! Yes...we had puddles in the tent! Big ones! Some folks opted to sleep in their vehicles, not a bad idea! Sorry, no photos of the wet stuff...all that wet stuff is bad for the camera.

After setting up camp, we got a guided tour of the Great Salt Petre Cave. For you movie fans who have seen Fire Down Below with Jean-Claude Van Damm, the mine scene near the end of the movie where things start going Boom...was filmed in the Great Salt Petre Cave. A few props are still there too. Apparently, they didn't think the cave had enough real rocks!

Here are some of the boys posing for the camera before the tour. Far right is my Jeff, and far left is my Travis. Cute eh?

And here we are about to enter the cave (see how wet we are?)

Photographing this cave is very difficult because it has some electric lights. Not enough to be able to keep the flash off, but enough that using the flash is also a problem. So I was thrilled that any pictures from there turned out good. (especially since last year I took the camera but left the batteries in the charger!)

Here is my favorite photo taken in that cave:

Somewhere along the tour, our guide stops us, asks us to look down the passage to see if we see the Abe Lincoln formation.

It's not actually a formation in the true sence of the term, but the way the light plays with the shape of the can see his famous profile!

Here is not as good of a shot, but it shows some of our group to give you an idea of the size.

Someone had a real sense of humor......

The next morning we crawled out of our wet tents fairly early, grabbed a quick breakfast and split up into two groups to go into two seperate caves. Large groups just aren't a great idea in these caves. I chose to go in the cave called Arthur Singleton's Cave. It is known for prettier formations than some of the others and that's all I need to hear (besides that it was a fairly easy cave to explore!). I had already fitted the water tight box we got for canoeing, with foam and my camera fit in perfectly, protecting it from puddles and scrapes. We geared up, and drove to the entrance. Here you see me tying my shoes, and Tim doing...(?)

Before ducking into the cave, we decided we needed a before and after shot, knowing we'd emerge muddy messes. So I balanced the camera on my back pack and the camera case, set the timer and kneeled down a bit so I wouldn't hide the others. We went in right behind the guy on the far right. And that's my oldest son, Tim, on my left.

As soon as we entered the cave we had to do some crawling. When we got to a place to stand and take out the camera I took some shots of the guys exploring a passage way and some formations. This is Tim coming back through the passageway

and a formation overhead.

As you can see, photographing these caves are much more satisfactory. Everywhere you turn in there, you say ""eeeewwww" or aaaaahhh". Simply amazing!

There were many tight places in this cave, requiring us to become more flexible than us older folks knew we could be. This photo was taken after such a place, where we not only had to wiggle thru some places, but also had to slide down one-by-one. That's our scout master closest to the camera.

Right behind where I'm standing in the photo above was this underground stream.

The water looked so clear, and babbled like any above ground stream.

We followed along the side of it for a better place to take a break and have a snack,

while looking down on the stream below the rocks.

There is a room in the cave that the cavers call The Mud Room. Some of us arthritic folks didn't think that sounded worth crawling into, but we were assured that it would be worth it. We tend to trust our cave guide, so we went, and was worth it! I took lots of photos of cave art in there! Here is just a couple of my favorites... a caver dude...

and Mario!

There's even a marriage proposal! (look, it says "YES" underneath!)
click the photo to enlarge then look near the cave cricket, the thing that looks like a spider

And here is Tim adding his bit.....

funny guy, huh?

Another area us old timers were reluctant to climb up to was the Imperial Room. It looked like a difficult climb for our weary limbs, but again, we were assured it would be worth it. And, again, it certainly was! Here's a glimpse...

After all that excitement it was time to crawl back out. My arms were so sore after all that, our scout master busted up one of his knee pads, we were all muddy, but totally excited about our adventure. Once back out of the cave, we tried posing for the after shot. After being in the cool cave and with all the moisture in the air I was having some major lens fog! But I managed to prop the camera back up on the backpack and waterbox again, set the timer (finally!) and RUN! MOST of us stood in the same place as before, but I guess a couple guys missed the memo on that!

If you ever get an opportunity to go caving, especially wild caving....DO IT! It's awesome fun you'll never forget!

A little dirt won't hurt ya!

this is my backpack and my shoes after we got out. There was so much mud on my backpack I could no longer zip the zipper.....time to go home and do some laundry!

And for those who have been wondering this whole time....yes we saw bats! In the rafters of the picnic shelter, nesting between sheets of plywood, and flying around us. We even saw one or two flying around in Arthur Singleton's Cave! We also saw cave crickets, and a salamander!