Sunsets and Landscapes

El Morro

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Just down the road from my new home is El Morro National Monument .  My last visit was in 2010 when I went to a workshop at Crow Canyon sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities. 

 

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This natural pool provided the run off water so people could stop and rest on their travels and have a drink...and autograph the rock.  

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So, natural resources are important.  Water is extremely important in the American west, which made this a great place to stop and have a drink before getting back on the trail.  

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Of course it was an inscription rock long before the colonists arrived.   The Ancestral Pueblo people were busy inscribing on this rock. 

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Telling their stories in stone a thousand years ago.  

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I love the petroglyphs.  

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If you take the half mile hike to the top of El Morro you can arrive at the ancient village of the Shiwi people.  Atsinna.  

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The Kiva is the church of the pueblo people.  A house of prayer.   

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I've hiked El Morro every week since I've been in New Mexico.  This Saturday was particularly pretty.  

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Of all the things I missed about New Mexico, I missed the sky the most.  I am in love with the sky on these days where the clouds dot the dark azure sky.   

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The passed through here in 1709, the year the little ice age struck Europe.  

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They came in the 19th century and wrote their names besides the ancient ones, beside the Spaniards and marked their journeys west.  

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The oldest inscription from Onate, is dated prior to the Mayflower.   This history in North America that we often miss in our history books,   we forget about the Spanish and the French in North America.   We need to remember they were here too.   

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I like the hike up El Morro, the views are spectacular.   

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It was a beautiful day. 

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There is the volcano that I can see from my back yard.  This landscape is amazing.   

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and you can look down on the other side of the mesa.  

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You can look out and see Highway 53 and in an hour you can be in Arizona.   

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These stairs carved in the rock to make your hike easier.   

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Highway 53 and El Morro is kind of out of the way but it is well worth your time if you are in the area.  

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Inscription Rock, a little place in western New Mexico that documents centuries of travelers who were seeking a new life, or were just continuing to live their lives out on the Colorado Plateau.    








 

 

 

 


Trade Offs

So one of the subjects I teach is Economics.   One topic of economics is "trade-offs"  whenever you choose one thing over another it is a trade-off.   Just like having a full time job, family and long commute, that is a trade-off that I make five days a week.   So because I'm writing about my trade-offs right here let me tell you what I did this weekend.  Part of my schedule is driving my daughter to work and picking her up which is two hours a day all weekend.   That, of course is worthwhile because she is working full time and building a work ethic.  

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Oh yeah Saturday my "Baby Boy" turned 15.  Boy time flies my first blog post for him was when he was ten and a photo of him driving the tractor that I posted in 2011 has kind of went wild online.   

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So we have a 15 year old.   I can't believe it.   My oldest is visiting my alma-mater today and looking at college for her future and my oldest son will be 18 soon.   

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After we had cake I drove to Sulphur to check out some of the hiking trails at the Chickasaw National Recreation Area.   I just get restless and need to get out and do something.   This was about the closest place and I had wanted to check out the hiking we usually go in the middle of summer and go swimming.  

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I'm slowly getting back on track with exercise, but it seems like things come up to mess up my schedule it's frustrating.  I will never be great at dieting but I can exercise.  

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I'm continually stressed this year. But it is good to get outside.  

Chickasaw National Recreation Area February 20 2016-1

Besides swimming at the falls there are lots of great trails here.  I find something new every time I visit. 

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So no housework was caught up on this weekend. I traded that time for a chance to go to the park.  

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A quick hike to a spectacular view. 

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Definitely worth the time for  a short hike.  

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But I can't forget the creek. 

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Or the bridge...

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On the way home.. I've passed this a million times always vowing to stop someday. I finally did. No some of these aren't the greatest shots... but that's okay.  

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I hate seeing the turbines, but they did add a little extra to this shot.  

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I finally made it home by the time the sun was setting...it was a beautiful sunset.   Now I have to go to bed because I have a long day tomorrow.   


Sunday Night

I hate Sunday nights.  I know I have to begin the drudgery of another week.  A fifty mile drive and then work and all before 7:25.   Today I kept looking at the outdoor temperature and looking at the bright blue skies and decided to go ahead and go out for a walk.   My furry friends didn't all get to go with me today because on New Years Eve they decided to get skunked. 

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Now Jack dog was with me and he barely would let me get the shot I wanted because he was constantly blocking my camera. 

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I didn't do a New Years Post, last weekend my friend and I went to see Rob Thomas at Winstar Casino, we had a great time.  

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So I noticed this at the base of the tree, it is actually a part of the tree now. I don't know what it is, but it has been there a very long time. I don't edit a lot of photos black and white anymore because I kind of feel like if you can't get it right in color why bother with black and white.  But sometimes the image just "feels" black and white. 

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Here is a shot of the tree in color. 

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So nothing exciting, photographing the same old things.  It is still good to get outside in the cold.   

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I have an incredible amount of topics that I'm interested in right now but I do not have the time to write about them.  I've discovered how much I enjoy reading on my kindle app on my phone,  which means I keep reading books.   My reading list is a lot of food histories and economic history.  But I am reading some classic political philosophy.  I know, I'm super exciting right now, but it enhances my teaching.  

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I have some serious philosophical issues with the education system.   We teach in a system where the focus is pedagogy and technology over content.   Procedures and rules are important but I am still a firm believer that content is everything when teaching a discipline.  It is my job to make the content more interesting, to diverge from these boring text books.  Yes, I said boring because texts seem to find a way to kill interest in a subject.   How can we force kids to sit still at desks for hours on end and still engage them?   

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I tried to blind myself by staring into the sun.   

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This is my new favorite spot to catch winter sunsets.  

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By the time I sit down to write I don't have much to say.  I probably could work on becoming a better writer on here.  I certainly need to update posts from my trip last summer but that is usually something I do mid-winter.  

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Sunday evenings go so fast...  

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Sundays go too fast and I never finish what I need to do. Never enough time in the day.  

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And that's enough from me tonight. 


The Sun, The Moon, The Stars...

I will never be caught up with work.  I have to accept it and get over it.   It is the nature of the job.  

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Yesterday was the first day I've felt "good" since September 8th so what did I do?  I stayed out until almost Midnight with the moon and the stars....  

I have spent the last year and a half thinking I will be caught up on my portrait photography work too, which is usually a brief respite in between booking.   Now, I have a clear date where I am not booked, and it's a nice feeling. I realized that September and October would be insane for me, I didn't realize that I would also spend three weeks of September sick. 

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My neglected blog, here is the blood/super moon...eclipse, I get on my high horse when I see people fawning over the moon when really the universe is quite amazing if you take the time to look away from your screens and be aware of it, without Facebook telling you to. 

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Like a good American, I took a selfie with the eclipse... 

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While you were watching this....  did you see....

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This...  it was out there, next to the eclipse.  By the way, I think it's awesome people have photography skills but can we stop being in awe of composites? 

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This evening I had a portrait session so I snapped a few shots of the sunset before I went home.  Between driving and work I haven't had a lot of time for anything lately. 

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It's 11 and I made it home by 8 this evening from my shoot.  An hour of rest and then to load images.  

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And I'm too tired to do anything else, so hopefully I will get some work completed tomorrow.  I can barely keep my eyes open.  

 

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Nature In The Digital Age

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How do we as a society slow down?   How can people find peace when the only nature they experience is a photo on a computer screen? I'm trying to leave my camera behind when I walk (for the most part) because I don't 'need' it. I know the landscapes I explore. I know when the sunset happens, I don't always need a photograph of it, because it happens every single night.   I don't need to share landscapes as much.  When I take my camera out (I had already walked/jogged four miles by the time took the camera out for the last mile).  I'm taking the camera out to work on technical skills, not to document the experience.  

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couldn't get my focus right in this photo, even with manual settings the sun is all the camera wanted to see as I made the juxtaposition.   

When I'm out walking I'm filled with brilliance and have a million things that I think I could write about or say when I'm home writing on my blog.   Then I get home and load my photos and start editing and I lose all my words.  I can't remember what I wanted to say, I have vague memories of my sparks of genius.  

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 I took about 60 photos, lighting sucked.   It was almost dark, really no inspiration at all.  These photos, aren't very good.  

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I don't show you "reality" but I like my photos to be as "real" as possible.   So I do not use a lot of filters (copouts) and I don't do a lot of photos in black and white.  I pretty much think anything that I shot before last summer is total crap.  I know I'm far harder on myself than other people in regards to photography.   But it's good to want to be excellent.   

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Six years ago I didn't know about focus. I knew I had a $600 camera (which was expensive to me then).  Six years ago I knew how to shoot in program mode and people were telling my photos were "good" and I had "talent"- my photos weren't very good at all and I really didn't have that much "talent" -  six years later I'm equipped with great glass and knowledge.  The knowledge is worth far more than those talentless shots of the fall of 2009, and the beginning this blog five years ago.  Skill has to be nurtured, talent has to be identified and found, yet I still think we spend so much time on remediating kids that we miss so much talent.  Why can't we focus on natural skills over remediating them for their weaknesses.   Our education system is a weakness based system.  Our resources are spent in remediation instead of excellence.   

Watermelon -7261

So I'm a history teacher again.  It is kind of hard to get back into identifying with all things education since I left in 2010.  I'm glad that I am more than a career.   But I have to start exercising again to deal with stress, today I went well over five miles and by the time we were almost finished walking I was hungry and my phone was dead.  So we went back to the field and I found a melon and broke it.  

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This week I spent a lot of time discussing the Paleolithic versus the Neolithic and the importance of agriculture.  So, in honor of those discussions I gathered.   I was also hypoglycemic with a dead phone and a half a mile from the house.  

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So I ripped the heart out with my bare hands and I ate watermelon as I walked back to the house.  I killed my phone listening to The Great Unknown and my Mom and Sister came to look for me, and found me walking out of the field with two handfuls of melon and I had to explain the death of my phone and how my dogs needed to go swimming.   

So if the only nature you get is looking at photos on a computer screen, you're missing out on a lot of life.   If the only learning you do is reading blogs and blurbs; go read a book.  If the only music you love is on the radio; go to a concert.   Go Live Your Own Story.   *And maybe start to write it because it's something that only you can do.  


Cutting Hay (Insert Photography Rant Here)

I went over to capture some images of my brother cutting Sudex last night.  I had a busy weekend complete with a wedding (work) and a birthday party for small children (friends and family).   I spent the weekend working on edits and staying indoors out of the miserable heat.  But given the opportunity to go to the farm and go shooting I'll almost always choose that as a preferred activity.  

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Photographers are obsessive about images.  We are our own worst enemies, we are our harshest critics, we are destructive to one another.   We chase after gear as the solution to our own imperfections.  We are competitive with one another, we snub one another and then proceed to pay the "good photographers" to teach us secrets.  We chase after forums, and workshops, gear, and ultimately knowledge.  It is a strange world.  

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This is my brother Steve out working on this hot, miserable day.  

I have a few photographer friends who I'm very comfortable with.  We banter on Facebook messaging and are very open about our techniques and how and what we shoot with and why.  We are not out to steal each others' business or clientele (and seriously?  I'm tired of not having weekends if you want my business, boy have at it).   Tonight I learned about "clean processing,"  or cleaning up a shot.  Which I guess is more or less my style.  I do like the crushed black look but that's a personal preference for richness of color.   

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If you notice throughout this post my greens vary.  My friend and I are having serious discussions about greens in photography-  how to get dark, rich greens as opposed to neon greens.  We all know that newbie photographer whose neon greens will make you go blind and their super blue sky is so unreal you know they just must be drinking a bottle of wine when they slide the saturation slider all the way to the right.   But there is a fine balance between accepting nature as it is and making it our idealized version in photography.   A perfect photo for me five years ago is  totally different than one now.   

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I made it out just in time for golden hour (my preferred shooting time).  Would I be too much of a diva to refuse to continue to shoot indoor events?  Probably.  I have plenty of weddings on the books this fall - which means this fall will be exhausting.   But, the more I do this I realize that when you're just starting you really aren't "taking business away from someone else" - in fact I don't think most people "see" the way experienced photographers do.   Steve Cutting Hay on the Farm -1-5

I also realize that some people are natural business people.  I'm really a terrible business person for doing something I love.  Why do I care if someone shares my image?  I don't.  I don't often look for people who violate my copyright.  Why? It's the freaking internet. You heard me. It's the internet. I do image searches often, I rip memes from google image search when I want to make a sarcastic reply to someone.  I find humor online.  I avoid too much sentimentality.  But, I do not get upset over people using the web to share information.  I also am very aware that when I take photo of someone that they feel ownership of that photo, no matter how I feel.  If you see a photo of yourself do you not feel that photo belongs to you because it IS you?   Exactly. Put yourself in your clients shoes.    Cutting Hay -2302

I do not edit using any crap some so called awesome photographer sells me off the web. I don't edit using presets for the most part. If I can't adjust the photo or save a composition really nothing can save it.  

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I also don't understand people who invest in portrait studios and props and all of that business building nonsense before they invest in the equipment. I guess those are the people who think photography is simple.   It is not.  Photography is deceptively simple.  Any of us can get a good shot at any given time with our cell phone camera (which is way better than my first digital camera that I had in 2001).   

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I shoot. I shoot A LOT; not daily but generally every other day.  I don't have to be paid to go shooting. I am not begging for portraiture work now, because I want to go back to what I love about photography, the solitude.   I go find my own opportunity. I find my own things to shoot, the exploring aspect of photography is just as much fun as shooting.  I love shooting the obscure, the monotonous, my boring life. 

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I don't get landscape photographers obsession with sharpness as much as I don't totally buy the obsession with bokeh.   Bokeh for a great portrait, because when we watch television we are sold on our solitary subject or actor who gains the sole attention of the camera.  But the HDR super sharp landscapes don't show the softness of the land.   I guess I fall into the impressionist school of thought on landscape photography.  I love the colors and the softness of the land.  

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I still love a nice sunset, but I am not in a competition with myself to capture the "best" sunset photo anymore.  I am challenged by the darkness and feel like I have a lot of room to work within the night.   

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It is still enjoyable, it's a release and it is how I enjoy spending my spare time.   My unstructured, spontaneous spare time.  

 

 


When You Wish...

Upon a star, or other nonsense that those wonderful Disney Movies taught us... (also, I'm a dreamer and absolutely loved the new Cinderella movie).   So, here you go, some star images from a few weeks ago I hope you like them.  

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Insert motivational quote...  

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or something profound about the universe.  

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This is where I sprained my ankle, it takes some courage to walk in the dark where I got hurt, but I did.   


A Spring Day and Night

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Took the dogs on a walk and went out to the back pasture and my Dad was busy plowing. 

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My Dad was born in 1937.  He's still out working every day.  He's always doing something.  My Mom also works every day.  I have amazing parents.  

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I got there in time for break time.  The dogs and I walked our half a mile back to the house.  But I went back at 11pm to get some of the photos below. 

 

What an amazing world we live in...  

Spring Blossoms and the Stars-8373

So, I'm wondering how this would work with the macro lens.  I may have to go back and try it.  But it was dark and I wasn't one foot from my car like I normally am and I was pretty creeped out as it is and afraid I'd run into Mr. Skunk.  

Spring blossoms at night March 24-2

I didn't stay out long - I'd like to try this again but since a hail storm just passed I'm not sure if I will have blossoms left, we will see tomorrow. 

Spring blossoms at night March 24-8370'

I didn't stay long -  but here are a few more..

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  Just had to get a few shots, it was too nice and too still. 

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Today's weather was not.  We had our first spring storm.   March in Oklahoma comes in like a lion and often goes out like a lion.  

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I thought I'd take a selfie since I was under the stars last night...  


Snow Day- February 28th

So I'm quite sure we've never had a snowy February 28th.  Tomorrow we will be iced in on March 1st for a very late winter.   Today the husband, boys and myself went out to the farm for some walking, sledding and outdoors time.   I wasn't about to drive so I took my ice road trucker with me.  Still cloudy so no stars with a white backdrop of snow yet..

February 28 2015 Snow by Joy Franklin-6064

I have this lens which is a wonderful lens, that I don't love like I think I should.  The 24-70 is supposed to be the great catch all lens, yet I just don't like it as much as the fixed 50 of the 70/200 or my wide angle.  

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I was trying to catch the water dripping off.  

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Jack went with me.  We didn't take the other dogs with us today. 

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Definitely feeling the stress of the weekend; Jack and I went on a walk before meeting up with the boys who were out on the four wheeler. 

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I don't think there is anything great about the photos  I'm posting today. 

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So I don't have a lot to say about them.  I do get amused when I get followed by other photographers on twitter or interact with them on message boards on Facebook and I had one woman tell me she was a "high end" photographer (rolls eyes) and another whose profile went into being an award winning photographer.   Okay.  I don't need that, I want to learn more about photography but if you know you're good at something why do you need to be validated by other people? I mean it's nice when people want you to do their portraits or hire you but, come on.  When you're motivated internally you know when you reach a certain point or standard.   

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But I still have a lot to learn from other people. I'm not sure if I want to play the game that way.  I don't really want to play the raise my prices until I'm a "high end" photographer. I also appreciate the people who send me business, but they don't have to.  Clearly, I find time to do what I enjoy. 

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Although, I hope the sky clears and the snow doesn't melt tomorrow so I can get some starry night photos under the snow.  I also wish the roads would be clear instead of sheets of ice so I can go to more interesting places and photograph besides the farm (but that won't happen). 

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Photography teaches you to appreciate negative spaces.  

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The sled left without the kid... 

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I kind of just wanted to be outside but it seemed a shame not to photograph the snow.  But yesterday was far better when the snow was falling.  

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Jack was my solitary companion.  Jojo moved to a new home and Pumpkin and Ozzie didn't join us.  Jack is much more subdued in the snow.  

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 Look into his soulful eyes.  I love Jack the Dog.  

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One thing I notice about other photographers is the crop.  I think the crop is the most important part of the editing process.  But it's March now and I've wasted enough time playing around with these photos I took in February.   Looks like tomorrow will be the first March in many many years when the ground was covered in snow.   So goodnight.   


February 27th Snow

So, the news said it would snow today.  I got up and took the kid to school, I didn't really believe it would snow.  I went home, medicated my asthma and fell asleep after my morning kid drop off and woke up at 10:30 am to a text telling me that everyone was getting picked up from school and school would be dismissed at 11:30am.   I knew that since it was 10:30 am and snowing hard that it would take me at least an hour to make the twenty two mile drive to the school.  I looked out the window and could see the snow coming down.   I went the route with the gravel road for about 10 miles but as I was turning my car kept going.  I am very thankful for the three or four trucks that stopped and the men who lifted my car from where it was high centered over the ditch.  I drove home last weekend in ice from the OKC area and certainly wasn't eager to repeat that white knuckle experience (no, I didn't take any photos... because that was very stressful).  

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I called my Son's bus driver and found out her route so I could meet her further up the road.  

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I had good timing I didn't have to wait on the bus long. I made it a few miles past my parents' house to meet him.  

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I don't remember having snow this late in February before.  It will be March on Sunday!  

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I enjoy snow. I don't enjoy driving/sliding on snow.  

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Yay for the school bus. I wasn't waiting more than a couple of minutes, but of course my accident slowed me down.  

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We headed back to the gravel road to go home.  We met a couple of trucks one which apparently got stuck at the corner when he tried to turn. 

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We stopped by to check on  my Dad and he had the wood fire burning... 

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I could not believe I got these shots, because birds do not like to be photographed. 

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They really don't.  

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Well, I knew it wasn't meant to be...

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So we didn't stay long, but now were on our way back home. 

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The squirrel...  was sitting there.  So we stopped.  

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It doesn't feel like it's almost spring. 

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I was taking my time.  I was actually dreading turning the corner at the end of the road where I slid off the first time.  

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We haven't had very much snow this year.   

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I spent the afternoon messing with these pictures, working on laundry and not doing that much else.  

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Why am I listening to Christmas music?  Probably because my playlist made it to Christmas music.  

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These cows are also probably looking forward to Spring.  Isn't it about time for Daylight Savings Time again?  Can it hurry? I like my longer days-- yes I know the days are the same length but I'm not a morning person so come on, give me my illusion.  I also know the sun doesn't really set and rise.  

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Moove along, nothing to see here...

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Desolate winter scenery... needs to be replaced with greenery.  Oh. I must have a poetic soul.  

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Home sweet home...  

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Pumpkin and Sister were ready to go out for a break. 

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Pumpkin likes the snow, Sister is a little bit smarter than Pumpkin I think.  She reluctantly went out in the snow. 

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It's about time to go in...  and we did. I went out a couple of hours later to feed the chickens.  They escaped their warmth and came out to eat a little. 

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They were eating cracked corn, but you probably don't care.  

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That's all for tonight. I kind of wish the stars would come out because I'd like to see what a starlit snowy night would look like.  So, tomorrow we finish February with more wintry weather.