Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Creative Photo Techniques

Decided to play with my PhotoShop Elements software, a cool book I've had for a while, called "Digital Expressions", and my vacation photos to learn some new creative techniques.  The first one, above, is using a vignette technique.  I also added text (a quote that I thought went well with this image), and then created a sort of mat effect.  I don't know if you can see it well in the small image above, but the shading is somewhat transparent, allowing some of the rest of the image to be seen.

This second image uses a selection technique (still need to work on that one - LOL!) in order to get a portion of the image to pop with color, while the rest of it was, in essence, converted to black & white.  I then added a quote that I really liked, and did the mat effect again.  I'm sure more will be posted here as I progress thru the book!


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Victoria's Flowers and Beacon Hill Park

Jeff treated me to a horse-drawn carriage ride thru Victoria and Beacon Hill Park.  After being on the ship with so many folks around all the time, it was nice to be in this park with the lovely greenery of the trees.  When the land was donated to Victoria by the first Governor of the Province, one of the requirements was that a percentage of the 160 acres be left "wild", as nature sees fit.  Many of those who live in Victoria name this as one of their favorite places.  I can see why!

Here are some flowers that were planted in the park, not in a pure "nature" section.  The bright colors were so pretty in the bright sunshine!

Here is a photo of just a beautiful yellow daisy of some sort, I think!  They were in the park and throughout Victoria.  I thought the color of this bloom was just so incredibly lush!

Isn't this a lovely apricot colored rose?  It was in the rose garden in the grounds of The Parliament.  The prime blooming season was pretty much over, but there were a few gems to be found, and this was one of them!


Victoria, BC, Canada and The Parliment - Last Cruise Stop

Thursday, August 23, was the last day of our cruise, and we ended, not in Alaska, but in Victoria, on Vancouver Island, in British Columbia, Canada.  What a beautiful day!  And, the flowers here were really something (more about that in another blog).  The above photo is of one of the hundreds (or maybe thousands) of flower baskets hanging around the Inner Harbor.  This harbor is primarily for smaller water craft.

And, one of those smaller water craft were these adorable little water taxis!  I just couldn't get over how cute they were!  In the background, is, of course, a sea plane - very common up and down this coast!

Another mainstay along the Inner Harbor is the Empress Hotel.  Everyone takes the obligatory photo of the entire hotel, which is beautiful and impressive.  I, however, decided to focus in on this decoration on the front lawn - an old fashioned pick up truck and the carousel horse sitting in the back of the truck!  It's a touch of whimsy that I liked!

Here's a photo of the Inner Harbor with Victoria's welcome spelled out in flowers!  In the background is The Parliament Building.  Victoria is the capital city of British Columbia (just fyi).  More from The Parliament below!

As we walked into the Rotunda, I got this shot of the roof of the Rotunda.  Very pretty, don't you think?

I was most taken with the stained glass windows in The Parliament.  I really liked the sentiments expressed on a couple of them.  The sentiment on the above window reads, "The Virtue of Adversity is Fortitude".  How true!

And, finally, this window with what has to be my favorite sentiment - "Without Economy, None can be Rich, With It, None can be Poor".  Another truism!


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Around and Leaving Sitka, AK

Not to be outdone by the Russian church in town, this charming Episcopal Church is also a historic building.  To me, it just seemed the perfect church building for a little seaside town!

As we walked by the front of the church, I noticed that I could look thru the glass doors into the interior of the church, and actually see the stained glass that I’m assuming is on the far wall. This is one of the benefits of NOT having bright sunshine – this would never be able to be seen if that were the weather today!

I also couldn’t resist taking this image of a pine tree reflected in the harbor waters alongside the sidewalk in town.It just summed up the calm, peaceful feeling in this charming town.

It’s the end of the day, and as we were leaving Sitka, I noticed this fisherman coming home from his day of fishing, slowing making his way thru the evening mist.

I mentioned before that some people had house complexes on the islands just off Sitka. Here’s a photo of one of those. Jeff & I both commented on how cool, in a way, it would be to live there. However, the practicality of daily life would be very different. I suppose I’d get really good at kayaking……and living in the grey…..

Art is where you look for it, I guess!Jeff was actually checking out this tug boat (it was coming to retrieve the pilot that helped see us out of the bay at Sitka), when he saw the cool Thunderbird art at the forward portion of the boat.When it came close enough, I was able to capture this close-up so we could really see the art!
And, my final blog image from Alaska is, of course, my favorite little lighthouse!This misty image of it just really seems to sum up Alaska on this trip – inviting, mellow and truly an independent spirit.


Views from Baranov Castle Site

We visited the site of the home/castle of Alexander Baronov, the first Governor (Russian) of Alaska.  If you recall, he originally was in Kodiak, but then moved to Sitka and established Sitka as the first capital of Alaska. Altho the site is historical, there were some really pretty flowers, including this one with the interesting marks along the inside of the bloom.  I’ve never seen this before, so I have no idea what the significance is!

Again, heavy Russian influence here in Sitka. I really liked this image of the towers of the Russian church in town.

My favorite photo subject in Sitka has to be this lighthouse home – this time with, of course, a float plane flying overhead.It’s funny, but I’m so used to seeing them now, it will be strange to NOT see them when we’re back home!

And, this tree was just the perfect frame for that lighthouse!I especially like this image because although the tree is in focus, the lighthouse is in soft focus (slightly out of focus) which lends kind of a dreamy quality to the image.


Arriving in Sitka, AK

We arrived in Sitka by maneuvering around a number of islands, many with home complexes on them.  This first image, tho, didn’t contain a home, but does give you the feel of sailing thru the mist and having some vivid colored islands suddenly appearing before you!

In this image, the mist seems to be lifting. I love the bright red pop of color, don’t you? Jeff thought this was someone’s actual home and not a true functioning lighthouse. Perhaps someone took an old lighthouse and re-purposed it?


Nature's Show - hubbard Glacier, AK

 We cruised by the Hubbard Glacier, one of the really active glaciers in Alaska.  It calved several times when we were there, with no artificial help from our ship (no ship horns sounded, etc.)  I was lucky enough to capture about 3 good calvings, and picked the best of the 3 for this entry.  No other words on my part – just not necessary.


Fort Abercrombie State Park in Kodiak, AK

One of the places we visited was Fort Abercrombie State Park.  There is historical significance to this state park – again, going back to defending Alaska during WWII.  However, I found it to be a beautiful place from a photographic perspective, so you’ll forgive me if that’s my focus! This first image reflects the overall view from one place in the park.  Again, love the big skies and rolling view out to sea.

As we walked thru the park, I was struck by the moss on the tree limbs, and so, of course, had to capture that in a photograph. One interesting thing about moss on the tree branches is that if you lift it off the branches, sometimes you will find volcanic ash there, left over from the eruption of Mount Katmai in 1912! Wow!

As I walked over the paths, I came to a small glade of these fireweeds.They are called that because they are one of the first flowers to bloom after the earth has been scorched by fire or volcanoes.Altho the flowers are quite lovely, what attracted me to this glade was the very busy bumble bee that was working those blooms!You can sort of see how fast his little wings were beating!

What luscious green leaves!I love the pattern and texture of the leaves.However, Jeff shared with me that there is some gooey sticky substance under the leaves that will just stick forever to whatever comes in contact with it!  Ick!

And, finally, another view of the bay at the state park.I really liked this image because of the little seagull in the far lower left corner.Love the reflection, and the impression that he’s enjoying the view as well!


The Bays of Kodiak - Mill and Moneshka

One of the stops on Jeff’s official Kodiak Tour was Mill Bay.  It’s a lovely park that has a number of picnic areas, and a lovely view of the bay.  In this image, a float plane was flying by overhead, and I thought it added a nice touch to this calm and peaceful scene.

As is the case in so much of Alaska, the views are panoramic a good part of the time! Here’s a view of Mill Bay that captures the vastness of the sky along the shoreline.

There’s something about trees just sort of perching on the edge of land that appeals to me as a photographer.They are and look so solidly anchored; the open space next to them feels like the perfect balance.

We also visited Monashka Bay as we drove along the 67 miles of roads on Kodiak Island.  As you can see in this first image, the sun was peeking out in this area of the island.  I love the combination of green and blue – blue of the sky and water and green of the hill/mountain in the background and shrubbery up in the front of the image.

This next image truly illustrates that this is an island, and the vast expanse of the ocean beyond its shores. You can see the sun peeking out further out on the bay on the way to the sea, too!

As we got down to the shoreline and were walking toward it, we walked thru a small forested area and this stream or creek welcomed us.I just love the lushness of the greenery and the little wooden walk bridge adds just the perfect touch!
And, finally, here we are, down at the shoreline.I thought the coast line had such interesting character, I just wanted to capture it.Plus, the little bands of sand, silt and seaweed seem to add just the added bit of interest and texture that the image needed.


Out and About Kodiak, AK

Here’s an illustration as to why Kodiak Island is called “The Emerald Isle”.  As we drove around the island, we drove in and out of sunshine.  We stopped alongside one of the roads we were on so I could capture this image.  The vivid green and blue are such stark contrast to the more typical foggy, rainy, misty types of days in Kodiak.  I feel so lucky that the island decided to take pity on this inhabitant of the “lower 48” to show me its beauty!

And, here’s an area where we had the more typical fog! We were on top of what’s called Pillar Mountain, where they have some wind turbines set up. As you can see, we were at the very base of them, and could still barely see them in the fog! I had to include this image as a true contrast to the first image! Our ship was just below us, down at the bottom of this mountain, but we couldn’t see it at all!!

The Coast Guard plays an important part of Kodiak’s history. During WWII, Kodiak was considered a vitally important strategic area as the US was concerned that Alaska would be invaded by enemy forces.And, contrary to what (mistaken) comedians would lead one to believe, you really CAN see Russian from parts of Alaska.Doesn’t make for very good comedy, I guess, but it is reality.LOL!And, also, the movie “The Guardian” with Kevin Costner and Ashton Kutcher was filmed here on Kodiak, at the Coast Guard station.

And, speaking of comedians, I’m traveling with one!Jeff promised to show me a white sand beach in Alaska.Well, here it is!Not really what one would commonly expect, but, again, it is reality!!LOL!!


Russian Influence in Kodiak, AK

There is a large Russian influence in Kodiak.  The first Governor of Alaska (before the US purchased it, when the Russians still owned it) was Alexander Baronov.  He lived on Kodiak for a time until he moved the capital of Alaska to Sitka.  In any event, in town, there was this lovely Russian Orthodox Church and I just had to capture some images that reflected that influence on this island, and this State.  The first image, above, is of one of the 2 church steeples on this little church.  Notice the design of the Russian Orthodox cross.

I also loved hearing the bells ringing in the morning air. Since we visited Kodiak on a Sunday, they certainly did ring out! Again, can you see the cross in the bells? It seems to be a bit worn on the bell in the center of the photo, but check out the one on the left side – it’s much more pronounced.

There was a Russian cemetery within a couple of blocks of this church and we stopped by there.This was a headstone that I thought captured not only the age of the cemetery, but the Russian pride – on the headstone is the statement that this person was a native of Russia.One interesting thing about this cemetery that I wasn’t able to capture in photos was the somewhat odd terrain of it.It’s on a hill, and as I walked thru the cemetery, I noticed that there weren’t a lot of headstones that remained visible.A woman who was also in the cemetery noted that many of them seemed to be in stages of being buried, or already were buried, except when the families had added some additional foundation to their family plot to keep things level.It suddenly occurred to me that it might very well be that the reason for the headstones being buried and the very uneven, squishy, and almost undulating feel of the ground beneath my feet was that the graves/coffins are slowly sliding down the hill.I don’t know that for certain, but if you were there, I think you’d have to agree that the idea was really not far fetched at all.Kind of a disturbing thought, tho.

As I said earlier, it was Sunday morning, so although services were not going on when we walked around the church, there were some folks who were inside the church, and obviously had the lights on.I just loved the lighting of this window from within. It created such a peaceful feel.