Thursday, February 26, 2009

Kelleys Island Photo Published in Lakeland Boating Magazine

As February ends, I just received in the mail some copies of this month’s issue of Lakeland Boating Magazine. Page 41 contains a photo I took on Kelleys Island called “Glacial Grooves."

The original photo was taken in May of 2005. What amazed me was how the striped pattern in the clouds matched the rock formation directly below.

Getting the shot was a matter of timing where I had to hold my breath. Reason being, when I first saw the cloud formation hovering over the rock formation, a family with small children was just starting to make its way around …allll the way around … verrrrrrry slowllllly around … the entire walkway surrounding the glacial grooves. Now that rock formation had been around for 30,000 years since the ice age that carved it, but cloud formations vanish into thin air instantly and without warning. So patiently I waited, at least outwardly. Inwardly I was thinking, “Come on, comeon, comeon, comeon, hurry, hurry hurry, please, please, please!”

The family finally reached the end of their groovy tour. No sooner had they stepped down and past me that I snapped my camera shutter and caught the shot. Good thing too. The cloud formation changed shape and floated away within ten seconds.

For more information on the Glacial Grooves of Kelleys Island, here are two websites you can visit:

And for more information on Lakeland Boating Magazine, please follow the link below:

Question for Readers: Do you have any photos that you snapped just in the nick of time? Where everything came together perfectly? Have you had any photos published in a magazine, or do you plan to? Please feel welcome to leave a comment and share your experiences.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ash Wednesday Abstract

This photo, taken in March of 2005, is called "A Wisp of Hibachi Smoke." In this image, a lingering trail of cooking smoke curls its way across a Japanese restaurant.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Winter Sunset at the Dreamkeeper Pond

Cattails like paint brushes reach up through evening glimpses of muted light and cold color towards a charcoal watercolor sky.

Cattails along the ice-covered Dreamkeeper Pond bask in the last falling rays of an evenstar.

A magnificent ending.

These three photos were all taken on the same day at Mapleside Farms in Brunswick, Ohio.

Being a landscape photographer in Northeast Ohio can mean standing for a whole hour in mud that cakes around your boots up to your ankles, wind that keeps blowing the hood back on your winter jacket, and cold that seeps through your gloves to numb your fingers. Meanwhile, your heart and mind are alive with the surrounding beauty.

What sort of challenging weather do you come across when you go out to take nature or landscape photos? Do you make any special preparations for weather conditions? Do you enjoy the many moods of the great outdoors? What are your favorite weather conditions for enjoying nature?

You are welcome to comment and share your feelings.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Transforming Ice, Water, Mud, Sunlight, and a Twig into Modern Art

The above photo taken yesterday at Mapleside Farms in Brunswick, Ohio is called “Mineral Water” and carries on a wintertime tradition of mine involving the creation of abstract art by using an ice-covered pond for inspiration.

It can be quite a challenge in Northeast Ohio to get decent sunset photos during the winter. The weather tends to be so overcast that there’s even a local folk song the gist of which describes Cleveland as the land of “a hundred shades of gray.”

Yesterday, when the sun finally came out and the clouds were magnificent dramatic billows in the sky, was a cause for celebration. So what caught the attention of my camera? The humble muddy edge of an ice-covered pond with an embedded twig and weak sunlight playing across the surface. Awesome!

Below is the original photo.

With the help of Photoshop, nature can become surreal to the point of unrecognizability and abstract to the point of one’s own imagination.

Question for Readers: Have you ever used nature photography as a starting point to create fantastic, otherworldly, surreal, or abstract effects? Please feel welcome to describe your venture from nature photography into art, or alternatively, your preference for realistic nature scenes.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Etsy Artisan Product Feature: Adelaides and Her Soap Extraordinaire

Link to Adelaides’s Etsy shop:

My very first purchase on Etsy consisted of two Black Coffee kitchen soaps from Adelaides’s shop. The chance to do housework with bars of soap “made with real brewed coffee, coffee grinds and scented with coffee fragrance oil” sounded like a lot of fun. Especially since I’ve been joking for years about how somebody should invent a line of caffeine-inspired perfumes like chocolate and coffee.

(Sample photo taken by Adelaides of her attractive Jasmine soaps.)

After using the Black Coffee kitchen soap, I can say that it really does make washing the dishes a more special and unique experience verging on a treat. As you might expect from my name “CountryDreaming,” I am not the kind of person who uses a dishwasher … even though my apartment does in fact have one. I prefer hand washing my dishes, so I found using handmade Etsy soap made with natural ingredients really cool.

Adelaides would agree. In her words, “I only use homemade natural products at home too. Vinegar, lemon juice, baking soda, salt and old fashioned soap can clean anything. I make my own liquid laundry soap and have a great recipe we use on our wood...let me know if you want the recipes, I'll gladly pass them on. My thoughts are that the more people going back to basics and using non toxic cleaners, the better we will all be. What can I tell you...I'm a tree hugger at heart!”

One thing I should mention is that shipping from Canada to the US does take time (it took me about two weeks to receive the Black Coffee kitchen soap), but that the soap is definitely worth waiting for.

Bottom line, I plan on being a return customer.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Forrest Gump's Feather

Photo taken in September, 2005 in Northeast Ohio.

Mrs. Gump: I happen to believe you make your own destiny. You have to do the best with what God gave you.

Forrest Gump: What's my destiny, Mama?

Mrs. Gump: You're gonna have to figure that out for yourself. Life is a box of chocolates, Forrest. You never know what you're gonna get.

-- Paramount Pictures, 1994

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Sky Is Not the Limit

Out of the three photos I submitted to the juried photography exhibit “Observations” currently underway this month at the Market Street Art Center in Lockport, New York, it’s fitting that “Intergalactic Scenic Overlook” should get a special mention in this blog. I live in Northeast Ohio now. But when I lived in Lockport and went to junior and senior high school there, I lived surrounded by outer space. I carried science fiction books … or written notes for weaving my own tales of otherworldly adventure … from class to class along with books for math, science, English, Spanish, Latin, and social studies.

I’m happy to report that “Intergalactic Scenic Overlook” won first place in the photography exhibit.

For information on “Observations,” here’s a link to the Market Street Art Center’s website:

Question for Readers: Have you maintained a lifelong hobby or interest? How has it developed over the years? Please feel welcome to leave a comment and share your experiences.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

In a Peaceful Valley

The above photo titled "Five Deer in February" shows a peaceful Sunday breakfast in the Hocking Hills of Ohio. This was taken in 2008.

One of my favorite places in the world is a Bed & Breakfast called Painted Valley Farm. Every year I try to visit. Every season is a good season. In the spring and fall, it feels like you are actually walking around inside of ... and in fact are part of ... a living breathing oil painting. Winter brings a peaceful hush of snow, or a haunted hush of the past, or a day of staying inside surrounded by quilts and cozy cats for company. Summer is filled with friends, neighbors, and kinfolk around a birthday bonfire / hot dog roast with homemade vanilla goat's milk ice cream, laughs, and tall tales. All seasons are filled with photographers and birdwatchers.

This view of the feeding deer was what I woke up to just outside my window a year ago.

For anyone planning to travel to Southern Ohio, here's a link to Painted Valley Farm:

Question for Readers: Where is your favorite place of peace or inspiration or exhilaration out in nature? A restful retreat? A well-beloved Bed and Breakfast? Please feel welcome to post a comment and share a place where treasured memories and dreams are to be had.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Second Chances

A Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad train rests in a snow globe world of winter wonderland fascination. Photo taken at Brecksville, Ohio on January 24, 2009.

New to photography years ago, I found myself stopped at a railroad crossing with a train just about to pass right in front of me. All excited, I got my camera into position. The train zoomed by looking just right in the swirling snow. But on seeing the resulting picture in Photoshop … I discovered that I had forgotten to roll down the window, and the train was obscured by steamy raindrops! I deleted the image, only to realize I had made yet another mistake. The imperfect train shot actually had artistic possibilities since the streaky wet window made for a uniquely surreal dimensional effect. But now it was too late. I’d made an impatient decision, and that captured moment of possibility was all gone except for its memory.

A couple of weekends ago, it was a chill 15 degrees outside on a Saturday after a long week, and just relaxing inside seemed mighty tempting. But the temperature had actually crept above zero, and the work week would start again all too soon. So I ventured forth from apartment hibernation into the unknown, knowing only that I would drive South on Riverview Road in search of something scenic.

That’s when the Alco RS2 train engine came into view. Apparently, the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad train was in hibernation outside, awaiting tourist season. And I was in luck. There was a nearby parking lot offering a halfway decent view. Snow flurries kicked up at my discovery, and lasted just long enough for me to grab this shot. Some would say it was a case of being in the right place at the right time. I credit Divine Providence.

It’s good to know that sometimes in life, even when you mess up, there are second chances.

Question for Readers: Any similar experiences? Any cases of serendipity or just plain “happy accidents” when you had a camera handy? Please feel welcome to leave a comment and share.