Monday, December 15, 2008

Ginger Snaps

Ginger Snaps
Originally uploaded by surfinsandy23
Combining two loves: Food and photography!

Dropping in after a long time away.... I've been playing and learning and being lazy too.

Sharing a yummy cookie recipe for the holiday.
Merry Christmas!


1/2 cup canola oil
1 1/4 c sugar (divided)
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

In a large bowl, beat oil with 1 cup sugar. Whisk in egg and molasses. Add flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir until dough is moist. Using 1 teaspoon per cookie (I used a small cookie scoop), shape dough into a ball. Roll in remaining sugar. Bake on lightly greased baking sheets (I used air-bake sheets, un greased) at 375 degrees F. for 12-15 minutes. Remove to wire rack to cool.
Yield: 3 Dozen

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Spring Finaly!!

Rhododendron 2
Originally uploaded by surfinsandy23
Now that things in the yard are blooming, the birds are singing, the air is warmer, I feel like not only can I breathe again, but feel more alive!
The grass is getting it's first cutting today, though we lag behind some of the neighbors. I also was able to wear a sleeveless top finally (without getting goosebumps) and got my hands dirty and my shoes muddy. I straightened a rose bush that had been leaning and cleaned up and fixed up the area around my water faucet so it's not such a mess. The weeds love growing there!
Seedlings are growing in the basement under florescent light, so far I have tomatoes, green peppers, banana peppers, basil and dill coming up. I wish I had planted more things, but space was limited, and spring is still early. I hope my herbs do better this year, last year's drought made everything difficult. I need lots of tomatoes this year, my supply of jarred tomatoes is running low. I've been wanting to try pickled peppers, so I hope the banana peppers do well. I also hope the dill does well, I'd like to make more dilled green beans to preserve again. It's been a few years since I've made them. As much as I don't need to I should grow more cucumbers again this year and try to make more sliced pickles. I sure don't need more relish!

We've had plenty of spring rains, and we are looking for good ways to collect rain water, if we can't get some blue barrels, we will just get some garbage cans. It cost too much to water the garden with city water!

Photography here continues, I'm playing more with Through The Viewfinder shots and I got some macro filters for trying another way to get macro photos as the flowers start to bloom. The photo here was taken with my big 75-300mm lens though. I took it yesterday while wondering around the yard looking for new subjects and hoping to get good pictures of the yard birds.
Time to go throw some brats on the grill....Happy Spring everyone!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Painted Yellow Rose

Painted Yellow Rose
Originally uploaded by surfinsandy23
So I'm learning more tricks and techniques with photoshop!
What do you think? I really like this technique, it is so much like painting, which real painting, I'm not very good at. Mostly because I haven't really tried it very much.
This technique was inspired by works I saw done by another flickr member, Scott Crouse. His first photo I saw that made me say "wow!" was The Barrel Maker. But he has done much more than just that, and I really enjoy all of his work. I checked out his blog, Scott Crouse Photography , and exchanged a little flickr mail with him. I really wanted to give the technique a try, myself, but I was not about to plunk down the money needed to use some of the software he uses to get the effect. After a small amount of googling, I found a tutorial that explained how to get a similar effect. Although the tutorial was much more basic than what I was wanting, it still provided the steps I needed and I quickly learned to give it my own touch. After all the "painting" or dodging and burning, I apply a very basic Orton effect to soften it all. And there she is!
I used this technique on a few other photos, but I must say I think it lends itself much better (in my hands, anyway) to the flower photos I recently captured after a beautiful bouquet showed up on my doorstep on Valentine's Day! After seeing what I did to make these, now dead roses, live much longer, hubby has vowed to buy me flowers more often! He is possibly my biggest fan, that I know of...even though one look at this photo generated a gasping "WOW MOM!" from my 13 year old son. He is an aspiring photographer too, remember?
I have many flower photos in my 'archives' to practice this technique more. I really need to print some out to see how they translate to print. We have high hopes of maybe framing these....
It is a dose a springtime that is difficult to find this time of year, but now I'm even more excited about new flowers blooming in my yard soon!
Here is the other rose photo I transformed using the same technique.

Friday, February 15, 2008

country barn

country barn
Originally uploaded by surfinsandy23
Mornings are usually when I get my best inspirations and ideas. Lately, other things tend to compete for my attention that time of day. But this morning a tid bit broke through the early fog in my mind, and I decided to go with it.
The irony of it all, is that I'm not a morning person, by nature. And this morning, though I may be happy with the results of how the print was transformed into an art photo, which I personally like, I have suffered the raw reality that I'm still a beginner, and forgot to do something crucial.
The original print of this photo had the dreaded power line running straight across it. I hate power lines! So I put some new found editing skills to work, and was quite proud of what I had done. I could not tell, when I was finished, that power lines were ever there. I wish I could show you...but here is where I learned a lesson I actually already knew. I forgot to save the work before I continued working! Even worse, I closed the project out, so I could not even go back through the history box to where it could have been saved.
I could name several reasons to take the blame for my oversight, but having people around me distracting me, and not finishing my cup of coffee, really are pathetic excuses.
So....I may wind up re-opening the original photo, with the power lines still in it, and re-edit them out. But I think I need to sit back an enjoy this photo a bit before I do so. I really do like it!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Going low tech

Canon 750-3
Originally uploaded by surfinsandy23
In the midst of the craze of digital photography, there is still quite a strong current flowing in the film realm.
I tried film years ago, and was very intimidated by it. I have always been nearsighted and never very sure that eyeglasses fully correct my vision, so I have always felt my ability to get a camera to focus was not very good.
As our kids were growing, the desire to capture their speedy growth spurts and fun activities grew stronger, and my ability to capture them sharply continued to be questionable. The popularity of the Point and Shoot cameras had instant appeal to me. Back then, we called them Idiot Proof, and I was just the 'idiot' to put that to the test. (I'm not putting myself down here...back a few years ago when trying to learn some HTML codes, I checked out an Idiot's book and a Dummies book, and discovered Idiots must be smarter than Dummies, because the Idiot books were better written, and had more useful information. Just my opinion, though, and continues to be a little joke of mine). Needless to mention, the first time I went to use that "idiot-proof" camera, I didn't slide the lens cover open far enough to actually turn it on, and couldn't figure out why it wasn't working! It was almost embarrassing! Later, on a trip to Gatlinburg, my husband and I took the same camera to the Ripley's Aquarium that had just opened down there. I took tons of pictures in there that day, to bring back and show the kids. Only to discover later 'why I was getting so many pictures from that roll of film'! I forgot to put the film in the camera!!! The kids had to settle for a post card from the gift shop. Sorry, guys!

Technology has changed my life so much, as it has for many people. My brain can barely comprehend all the technical things we have to learn to survive these days. When the internet first came out, I wanted nothing to do with it. But when I realized it was more like a library, and learning how to print things instead of writing things down, I dove in like a kid in a candy store. I found recipes, crafts (did you know I'm the most obsessive crafter around? Sewing, knitting, crocheting, quilting, you name it. If I haven't mastered it, I've at least tried it!) For me, the best thing about the internet is how much people share things. Sharing recipes, sharing patterns, and just making friends in chat rooms and forums with people with common interests, is just what I needed in my shy little world.
I clearly remember our first digital camera. My husband and I were just laughing about it the other day, remembering and looking back at how far I've (we've) come. I used to be the most low-tech person you could find! Now look at me!
That first digital camera (does anyone else remember this one?) was a Jam Cam. I just HAD to have it! It was only $20 on sale at Wal Mart. It came with Microsoft Picture It! software that was too much fun to play with. We could take a picture of a kid, put it on the computer and morph him into looking like some freakish monster, and laugh until we cried because it was so funny.
It didn't take long for me to realize the flaws that camera had. The photos would often be dark, grainy, and out of alignment. My husband even took it apart one time to try to get the lens aligned better. But it didn't help, and the novelty wore off.
Our next digital camera was the Olympus D-460 zoom. It was an amazing camera in comparison. It still amazes me today. Though I have graduated from the 1.3 megapixels of the Olympus, to 6 megapixels on the Konica Minolta Dimage Z6 we got a few years ago, and now have what is becoming one of the most popular digital cameras to date with 10 megapixels, I have had to go backwards a bit and learn some basics of photography, before moving forward any further. In doing so, I had to reconsider the merit of the film cameras that got us to this point. So, I did what everyone does in this modern age, I went to ebay. First I found a range finder like my dad owns, a very basic camera and very manual, but I kept looking. I kept looking at other film cameras. I really had to go 'backward' to the film world, before I could proceed in the digital world. It look lots of visits to a site that kept coming up when I'd google various models,
( ) before I realized, the smartest thing to do would be to find a good price on an EOS film camera so I could interchange the lenses, instead of getting a camera that had a different mount type and would require a separate set of lenses. Elementary isn't it?
I've always believed that when things get too complicated, it's time to simplify. I prefer life when things are simple. But I tell ya, shooting that first roll of film in the Canon EOS 750 really has complicated things for me. I can see now, why the books I read, and other "purists" insist that film is better than digital. All this time I have been frustrated with my new fancy digital with not-so-fancy lenses, I have been blaming the lenses (and secretly, and not so secretly, been wondering if my aging eyes have anything to do with things) for the many, not-so-great photos I do not share on the blog and Flickr. Seeing these photos just taken with the film camera, but with the same lenses I thought were basically 'junk', really has me scratching my head, saying "wow" and truly rethinking the whole world of photography. My first reaction was, "maybe it's not the lenses, it's just me", "maybe it's not the lenses, it's the digital" and maybe it's all just part of the learning process. To save myself another trip to that familiar place I call Crazy, I'm gonna resolve it's just part of the learning process. I'm gonna play with the film cameras more and just try to have fun with it. I have more than enough toys to play with for awhile, but we did splurge and buy a couple more lenses with much better reputations than the ones I have, and I sit on pins and needles waiting for them to be delivered! I can only wonder how much better photos from either camera will be, and how fun it will be looking for more photos to capture!
I leave you to look at this one photo taken with the Canon EOS 750 film camera, and a link to my Flickr set of photos just from film cameras, for anyone curious enough to see a few more. The set does include a few photos taken with the Argus.
Let me end this with saying....
Just because digital has become so popular, big and seemingly important, it has not and will not replace film. Film photography is not dead, will not die, it is not obsolete, too low tech to be worth messing with and will never be completely replaced by the digital world. As long as there are people on this planet with a brain that can think, and eyes than can see, and a mind open enough to see truth when it is present and obvious, digital photography will not completely replace film. There is too much of a difference between the two.
Just as the keyboard will not replace the pen, the film camera will still have a place in my home.

And while I'm on my soap box, long live the muscle car, and down with the i-car! (no...Apple hasn't come out with a car yet, that I know of....but, by watching the commercials from the auto industry lately, it's just a matter of time!) I do not want a car that listens, or talks to me or sends me email or heats and cools my beverage. I do not want a car with a computer in it. I want a car that, simply, goes. A car does not have to be intelligent to 'turn me on', it just needs rumble my seat a little bit!

Friday, February 8, 2008

It's Really Not Spring!

Ha!! Now I'm so not laughing about what I said in the previous post! Remember the bit about critters thinking it's spring and crawling out of their shelters? Well.....would someone please tell the local skunk population it's really not spring yet? Before the sun even came up this morning, I was awake. You know those sleepy moments of early morning, when the brain starts to awaken, but the body still wants to sleep, so you drift back and forth between sleeping and waking? Well...I had a hard time doing that this morning, once I was awake enough to identify what I was smelling, I simply could not go back to sleep! I even tried smearing some lovely Peony scented lotion on my hands and sleeping with my hands near my face! But it was simply not enough! I had to get up, go light a candle and start some coffee. Driving home from an Expo last night, I think there was a dead skunk either on the side of the road or the middle of the road every mile or so...almost like mile markers I tell ya! Pew! We had a bad outbreak of severe weather the night I started the last entry. This morning the weatherman said it was the worst outbreak of tornadoes in state history, So far, they have confirmed 18 touchdowns that night, (at least one registering in at EF3! ) in the wee hours of February 6th. It was a rough ride for many. We came through without even a downed branch or overturned yard item, but many folks were not so lucky.
Here is a very bad image of our tv screen just as the storm was passing over.

There are many reasons the image is so bad. First, the station was not coming in well at all, sometimes it even went off; second, we were watching off the rabbit ears and not cable or anything; third, I was trying to hold the dog on the leash while taking the photo, just in case we had to go to the basement in a hurry (yes...I would have taken the camera bag too!). It was nearly 1:30 am, and the kids were looking at me like I'm nuts to be taking a picture of the tv under such conditions. They also seemed a bit annoyed that we had to wake them up. But the disaster sirens were blowing, and the police scanner had a report of someone calling in saying the back of their house had blown off! We really didn't want them sleeping upstairs until things cleared up!

The sun is up now, and winter is trying to return (but with little success, so far) with some lower temperatures. We spotted some birds in the tree near our homemade bird feeder this morning, but so far haven't actually seen a bird eating from it. I know they are visiting it, though...I can see the shells on the ground below it.
Can you see the cardinal hiding in this picture??? There was a pair of mourning doves out there too, but I couldn't get a good shot of them.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Waiting For Spring

One thing I like about this time of year, is we often get what I have always called an "Indian Summer". Different people have different ideas about what that really is, but to me, it's a time during winter when the weather breaks from it's frigid terror, and the sun comes out and teases us into thinking it's spring. I think that makes it an Indian Summer, because, if it were ages ago, it would be a time for, not just the Native Americans, but also the wildlife, to crawl out of their cramped winter shelters and get out and find food and exercise, and hope for spring time.
Well, we are having a modern day Indian Summer right now. Though the clouds and rain deter most of us from crawling out of our cramped quarters, the temperatures here right now are very warm. We know it won't last for long, so we must enjoy it while we can.
This past weekend my husband, youngest son and I crawled out of our 'shelter' and made a trek to a local park. Not just any park, but a State Park/Historic site. Perryville Battlefield was the site of the bloodiest battle of the civil war. It was not a planned meeting between the forces, but a happen-chance kind of meeting. I am not a historian, but I do know the battle was over water. The troops on both sides were thirsty, and the water seemed worth fighting over, I suppose. In a sad way, I would imagine some died of thirst that day. Something we can hardly imagine doing now days.
The park is being nicely kept, and new property gets added now and then . A reenactment is held on the grounds every October, which is worth attending for anyone so inclined. You can read more about it at this site: .
What I'm here today for is to simply share with you a few of the photos we took on our visit to the park Sunday.

The drive out is only a few miles for us, we live in the same county as the park. We really wanted to get out away from town for awhile, but wanted to go somewhere we haven't visited in awhile. It's been over a year since we've been to the Battlefield, and the park holds many fond memories of family picnics and boy scout camp outs for us.
We weren't the only folks out for a stroll that day, but the park wasn't exactly crowded either. The sky was overcast, so the air wasn't quite as warm as it was the day before, but still warm enough for just a jacket. Our secondary purpose for going out there was to take photos with my new digital camera, and to run a roll of film through my new, 35mm cameras. With my Argus C3 Range finder, and my Canon EOS 750, and all my digital cameras, we had a blast taking shots of monuments, memorials, cannons, and even a little wildlife! My son likes that I have a new camera, so he can take pictures with the older ones.

Any trip to a state park, seems to require stopping by man made structures, to check out what men consider note-worthy. The flags were flying, sometimes, only when the wind picked them up. And the wind seemed to pick them up when I was interested in shooting them. I'm drawn to flags lately, I can't explain it. It probably has something to do with being patriotic, serving with the military, and seeing my sons join the military too. They are a silent reminder of strong wills, strong minds and strong people who made this country what it is today, and what it will be in years to come.
Here is a flag most folks don't see everyday....the Stars and Bars. I have a lot to learn about the civil war and the south. No, I'm not from around here. The marker near the flag said it is the flag that flew during the battle. I used to wonder why people fly flags that are no longer the symbol of our country, as we know it today. But now I know, it's part of remembering the past, and honoring those who flew it, and fought for it.

I have many more photos from that afternoon on my flickr. You can view the entire set HERE.
I still haven't uploaded the photos my son took that day. He has a flickr account now too, he's really doing a great job taking photos. When I get his photos posted, I'll add a link so you can see how my little apprentice is doing! He got some great photos of a hawk I really want to share!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Happy New Year!

cozy kitty
Originally uploaded by surfinsandy23
I'm still doing photos, I just haven't been to my blog in a long time!
I got a new camera from Christmas! My loving hubby and two older boys all pitched in together and got me the one I've been wanting. I'm shocked, but glad, they actually did it! This truly is the gift that keeps on giving! I can only imagine how many priceless memories will be captured here through my new view of the world!
Already I have snapped up some fun photos of the kids playing and goofing around, even all four of them when they were all here for Christmas! Tim and his girlfriend, Jessica, posed for me so I could practice real portrait photography, and, with the help of Photoshop, have been rewarded with results we all love!
I've posted tons of new photos in my flickr account since my last posting. You can access those photos through the links and photos on the right side of the page.
I need to get back into the swing of posting here, and might, now I've discovered the Blog This button in flickr!

I have also added a couple 'vintage' cameras to my arsenal. I decided to splurge on an Argus Rangefinder, like the one my dad owns. I found a nice specimen on Ebay, and have ran one roll of film through it so far. Then I discovered a great way to use the ole' double reflex (is that the right term?) cameras. So I bought an Argus Seventy Five to try my hand at that.
Since I was getting a small collection of film cameras, I went for a more modern version and picked up a Canon EOS 750 off Ebay as well. I have my first roll of film in it now, and only snapped one photo so far.
So the new year should bring many new photos!
Here's hoping you have a great new year as well!