The Beauty Around Us

Showcases Portraiture, Scenic & Nature Photography and Feaures a Photo Journal Blog

Posts from the ‘Photography’ category

Christmas Eve Family Portrait Session

On December 14th I received a message from Jayme, one of Bob’s coworkers.  Jayme shared his sister-in-law’s Facebook Post with me, which read:

“Recently found out that my entire remaining family (27) will be together on Christmas Eve. We missed other opportunities for a complete family photo in the past and now have lost some. I am looking for someone willing to come and photograph our group on Christmas Eve. I understand how busy everyone is, but thought i would try. Recommendations Please.”

Jayme wrote to see if I would be interested in this photo assignment.

After asking Jayme a couple questions regarding the photo session, he gave me his sister-in-law Stephanie’s phone number.  After conversing with Stephanie, I agreed to photograph her family at 7:00 pm on Christmas Eve.

Munch_FamilyMunch Family
(Click on this image for a larger-size photo)

I photographed the family as a whole and then each individual family unit.  Stephanie had hoped that all 27 family members would be available for the family photo.  One individual, however, was not able to make it to the Christmas Eve festivities.

I am so glad that I agreed to conduct this photo session.  The Munch family was enjoyable to be around and fun to work with.

East Syracuse NY to Mt. Morris NY

We spent 3 days and 2 nights in the East Syracuse, NY area.

We checked out of the Best Western East Syracuse, after breakfast, on Monday July 3, and were on our way home shortly before 8:00 am.

On our way to East Syracuse on Saturday, we stopped at Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge.  We stopped at the wildlife refuge once again on our way back home. I am so glad that we visited Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge. I put my new camera lens to good use, as we drove around Wildlife Drive.

New camera lens, you ask?  I just realized that I hadn’t shared on my blog that I purchased a new camera lens.  I waited for well over 1-1/2 years to purchase this camera lens.  At first the camera lens wasn’t in stock.  Then I didn’t have the money available to purchase the lens.  Finally, everything came together to make the purchase.  I purchased an Olympus m.Zuiko ED 300mm f4.0 IS Pro lens, specifically for wildlife photography.  Coupled with a 1.4x teleconverter, I have an effective focal length of 840mm!  My new lens arrived on Friday, June 30, the day before we left on our weekend getaway.  I need to use the lens more to increase my proficiency in its use, but I am very pleased with the images that I captured at Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge.

_LG22411Bird ID needed

_LG22424Osprey in Flight, with seaweed attached to its claw

_LG22428Are these birds American Coot?

The highlight of our visit to Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge was the sighting of two American Bald Eagles.  One eagle flew off to parts unknown, but one eagle landed in a tree not far from where we were on Wildlife Drive.

Bob took this photograph of me, while photographing the eagle.

And to think I didn’t want a moon roof, when we were car shopping. I didn’t want to spend the extra money. The car on the lot that we liked came with a moon roof. I am glad that we got a moon roof, because it enabled me to capture a couple good photographs of the eagle!

_LG22462American Bald Eagle

My new camera lens is a keeper!
These two eagle images are the best pictures I have ever taken of an eagle!

We sat and watched a group of Canadian Geese farther along on Wildlife Drive.

_LG22481Canadian Geese, quietly enjoying the pond

The quiet didn’t last for long!

_LG22482Noisy Canadian Geese!

_LG22487This duck had one of the Wildlife Drive ponds all to herself.

_LG22499Great Blue Heron

We stopped once again to admire the newly installed eagle monument.

_LG22529The eagle monument was built in honor the the 40th anniversary of New York State’s bald eagle
reintroduction program, which largely happened at Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge.

_LG22532The eagle monument is visible from Interstate 90.

Leaving Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, we drove to Mt. Morris, NY.  We ate lunch at Brian’s USA Diner.  We selected this restaurant for lunch, based on its positive reviews. Yes, as stated by reviewers, the service was quick and friendly. Bob ordered a Reuben sandwich with Onion Rings. I ordered pulled chicken in a hoagie bun with potato salad. The restaurant reviews indicated that the portions were large. I agree. My pulled chicken hoagie sandwich was huge! My potato salad was heaped high in a small bowl. At first, Bob’s Reuben sandwich looked average size. He said, though, that there was lots of meat in his sandwich, so much meat that he could barely taste the dressing. Reviewers raved about the taste of the food. The food tasted okay, nothing really to boast about. Nothing to complain about either.

After lunch, we drove to nearby Letchworth State Park.  I will share details and photographs of Letchworth State Park in the next (and final) blog post I write about our East Syracuse NY weekend getaway.


Brian and Deborah’s Wedding Day

This past Saturday (June 24) I photographed Brian and  Deborah’s wedding.   Brian is our friends’ Sheila and Doyle’s oldest son. The last wedding I photographed was in September 2014. I vowed then that it would be the last time I was the official photographer for a wedding. I was “retiring” from photographing weddings for family and friends. Well, after a little arm twisting by Sheila, I agreed to photograph Brian and Deborah’s wedding.  Thank you, Brian and Deborah, for choosing me.  It was an honor to serve as your wedding photographer.

I created a collage of some of the pictures that I took at the wedding.

Brian and Deborah had a beautiful wedding.

 Congratulations Brian and Deborah!  May all of your days together be as beautiful and cherished as your wedding day – here’s to your future together as Husband and Wife!




Postal Deliveries

The mailman delivered several packages to me yesterday. I received a Shutterfly print order that included one 8×10 print and a few 4×6 prints. The 8×10 print is a picture of our granddaughters hugging each other.  I took that picture in our living room but successfully made a selection of the girls and placed another background behind them.  The 8×10 print, which is now hanging on our living room wall, is the picture of the girls with the brick wall behind them.


In addition to the Shutterfly order, I received two camera accessories: a Think Tank Photo battery holder for 8 AA batteries and a 16GB Toshiba FlashAir SD card.

The battery holder will contain the batteries better than the original packaging, which has been weakened by repeatedly opening and closing the plastic case.

The Olympus XZ-2 compact digital camera, which I purchased in November 2016, is capable of making a WIFI connection. The WIFI connection, however, is not built in as it is on some other cameras. The Toshiba FlashAir SD card, with its internal wireless LAN, provides the means to make a WIFI connection.

Following the Olympus XZ-2 instruction manual, I configured the FlashAir card to make a wireless connection with my iPhone.

I took a picture of the fog rolling in from the Conewango Creek.

IMG_2964The fog was impressive!

I followed the Olympus XZ-2 instruction manual to connect the camera to my iPhone.

Once the connection between the camera and iPhone was established, I used the OLYMPUS Image Share app to import the fog picture onto my iPhone.

With OLYMPUS Image Share you can add Art Filters to imported photos.

20170117_195119000_iOSThe pinhole art filter worked well with my fog picture.

Although I like both the original and edited fog pictures, I prefer the edited image.  The edited fog picture gives off a feeling of eeriness, which I like.

After applying the art filter, I uploaded the edited fog picture to Facebook.

I purchased the Olympus XZ-2 camera as a replacement for my iPhone camera for taking everyday pictures (snapshots). I am quite pleased with the quality of my everyday pictures, since switching from the iPhone to the camera. What I have been missing, though, is the ability to share everyday pictures quickly on Facebook, as is possible with the iPhone. With the FlashAir card and OLYMPUS Image Share, I now have that capability.

A “Sunday Drive”, a Family Visit, Grocery Shopping, and a Winning Photograph

We stayed home most of the day on Sunday. We did go on a short “Sunday drive”. I brought my camera, but I didn’t take one still image. I did, however, take a short 5-second video with my iPhone as traffic began to move past an automobile accident.

In the video displayed above, there is a car, with a smashed windshield, in front of the police car. It looked like either the passenger’s head had busted through the windshield or an object had fallen through the windshield. My heart leaped into my throat, when I saw that car.  There was an older man in the car, sitting in the driver’s seat.  Farther up the road, we saw a helicopter land in what must have been a staging area. I said a prayer for the person(s) life flighted and for the family.  I pray that no life was lost in this accident.

**UPDATE:  Roadside Worker Killed After Being Struck by Car
How tragic.  Prayers for the Michael Robertson family, as well as the man who was driving and his family.**

On our way back home, we stopped briefly at Stacey’s house to say hello to Stacey and our granddaughters. Our visit with Stacey was brief. Bob wanted to be home for a 2:00 pm podcast (Leo Laporte “The Tech Guy”), and we still had grocery shopping to do. Shopping at Walmart was unremarkable. We returned a Redbox DVD that we had rented the day before and picked up some groceries.

A guest on Leo Laporte’s podcast was Photographer Chris Marquardt, of Discover the Top Floor”, who reviewed his “Faces in Things” photo assignment. Chris is a regular guest on the podcast. During Chris’s guest appearances, he gives listeners a photo assignment once a month.  Bob participates in the photo assignments.  The past month’s photo assignment has been to find “Faces in Things”.


Bob’s “Faces in Things” submission was top pick in the assignment!  Congratulations Bob!  What a GREAT photograph!


PIP Camera

Late last month I discovered a iPhone/iPad app that adds new life to photographs that I have taken.  The app is called PIP Camera-Selfie Cam&PIP Collage&Photo Editor.  This app provides the ability to quickly and easily be creative with your photographs.  The app includes an abundance of templates that allow you to do fun things with your photographs.  My favorite template by far is the snow globe template.  Here is a collection of some of my snow globe creations, using the PIP Camera app.

Snow GlobesSnow Globe Creations

Do you have an Android device?  PIP Camera is also available for Android devices.  What are you waiting for?  Install the app and have some fun!

Decisions, Decisions.

My head is full of thoughts related to photography editing choices.


A few days ago I purchased Adobe Photoshop Elements 15. The software caught my eye, when I saw a video on Facebook of one of its editing features — changing a frown into a smile.  Adobe Photoshop Elements contains many more “fun” editing choices as well. When I first began to edit my images, I used Adobe Photoshop Elements. At that time Adobe Photoshop Elements was a much pared-down version of Adobe Photoshop. I recently read that Adobe Photoshop Elements now contains approximately 80% of the features found in Adobe Photoshop, including Adobe Camera RAW (ACR). The software sells for $89.99, but was on sale for $39.99 on Amazon. I pressed the buy button, without hesitation. Sitting on the back burner (and forming some of my justification for purchasing Adobe Photoshop Elements 15) is the thought that someday I would like to delete Adobe Creative Cloud (Adobe CC), which I subscribe to on a monthly basis at a cost of $9.99/month.

Yesterday I received and installed Adobe Photoshop Elements 15. I used the software for a few minutes. Adobe Camera RAW doesn’t have near the bells and whistles that ACR has in Adobe CC. I was aware that ACR was a pared-down version, when I purchased Adobe Photoshop Elements. I used the “turn a frown into a smile” feature. That is a very cool editing feature! There is so much new about Adobe Photoshop Elements since I last used it. The last version I owned was Adobe Photoshop Elements 7. I placed two Adobe Photoshop Elements instructional books on my Amazon wish list. Neither book is available until January 2017.

Speaking of sitting on the back burner …

I reinstalled Adobe Photoshop CS5 yesterday morning and determined it is unusable to me, with my current photo editing workflow. Since September 2009, I photograph almost exclusively in the RAW format and use ACR to convert my RAW images. The highest ACR version available for Adobe Photoshop CS5 does not recognize my Olympus OM-D E-M1 digital camera. I could install the DNG converter and convert my RAW image to a Digital Negative (DNG), which would be recognized by Photoshop CS5. I choose not to add this conversion step to my workflow. I uninstalled Photoshop CS5.

Adobe no longer offers Photoshop as a stand-alone photo editor. Adobe Photoshop CS6 is the last stand-alone version of Photoshop, one version newer than what I own.   Adobe Photoshop CS6 DOES support my camera; however, it lacks some of the features that I use currently while editing images in Adobe CC. It is a possibility that I will purchase Photoshop CS6 sometime in the future. The software is currently available on Ebay, new in the box, at a reasonable price.

RAW image conversion is available in two other photo editing programs that I have used: Olympus Viewer 3 and Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. I have not used either program extensively. Therefore, I cannot determine at the present time if either program would meet my RAW image conversion needs. The same is true for Adobe Photoshop Elements 15. I do not know, at the present time, if that program would meet my RAW image conversion needs.

Currently, I use Adobe Photoshop Lightroom mainly for its organizer capabilities. I have tried other programs to organize my photographs and prefer Lightroom’s organizer. Therefore, I do not foresee eliminating Adobe Photoshop Lightroom from my photo editing tools. In addition to being part of Adobe CC, Adobe continues to offer Lightroom as a stand-alone photo editor (current release is Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 6). It is a possibility that I will purchase Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, as a stand-alone program, sometime in the future. Adobe Photoshop Lightroom offers ACR most similar to what is contained in Adobe CC.

I will continue to use Adobe CC for the time being. Adobe CC is updated frequently with new features. I subscribe to Adobe CC’s Photography Plan, which includes both Photoshop and Lightroom. At some point in time I expect to feel comfortable using Adobe Photoshop Elements, Olympus Viewer or Adobe Photoshop Lightroom to convert RAW images. When that day comes, I will delete Adobe CC.

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