Blog - Miscellaneous

An Unexpected Request
26th November 2017
When we travel to different countries, I always endeavor to respect their culture and wishes. I feel that as foreigners in their country we are ambassadors and, and such, our behavior reflects upon us and our country.

But there are times when I wonder about their requests.

Not too long ago while traveling in Switzerland, we had lunch in a small cafe then decided to walk around and look at the stores. We saw a gallery that was featuring a German artist and decided to go inside. After looking around, we decided to forego going upstairs and headed towards the door. A lady approached us and mentioned that there were more paintings on the above floor. Before we could thank her and say that we were leaving, she asked us to take our backpacks off and carry them in front of us.


She went on to say that, with everything going on in the world, people would feel better if we carried them. While her explanation made no sense to us, we explained to her that we were just leaving anyway, wished them luck with the exhibition and walked out the front door.

While I'm sure she thought her reason made sense, it really didn't to me. We were carrying my camera equipment in our backpacks, which I would have gladly shown her had she asked. I understand that given the times that we live in, seeing what we are carrying would put them at ease...and I have done it before.

The rest of the day, I paid particular attention to people as we strolled by with our backpacks. No one looked warily at us, or shied away. Since we were talking a mixture of German and English, they could easily figure out that we were tourists.

But I do wonder how many other people visiting the gallery - if any - she asked to do the same.
Rain Protection for Your Camera
04th July 2017
Did you ever listen to the weather report, which says sunny weather, and think "what a great day to go out and shoot"? You gather your equipment, hit the road and, bang, the dark clouds come out of nowhere and the rain starts. And there's some times I think
that the dark clouds follow me!

I figure since I can't control the weather, I should do what I can to protect my equipment. After looking around, I came up with a few solutions.

1. Carry an umbrella. I always take one with but juggling a camera and an umbrella is not easy. I tried that at a waterfall that I wanted to shoot and it didn't work very well. It was cumbersome to try to juggle both and many of my shots came out blurry.

2. A plastic bag. They're cheap and don't take up much space in your camera bag. Throw it over the lens, securing it with a rubber band. Poke a hole for the lens and viewfinder and you're good to go. It's cheap and works in a pinch.

3. A shower cap. On my last vacation I grabbed the ones from my hotel room and stuck them in my camera bag. They're large enough to go over my camera and lens in an emergency and can be thrown out afterwards.

4. A rain jacket. Companies like Op-Tech and Ewa Marine make multiple use camera protection jackets. I purchased several sizes of the Op-Tech raincoats at the last Photokina. They go on quickly, with a draw string for the lens cover and hole for the
viewfinder. It can take time to find the viewfinder hole - especially when you have to put it on quickly in a rain shower - but they work nicely. I've used them while photographing waterfalls and they've worked great.

I purchased a Ewa Marine U-B100 on Ebay recently. It's a bit bulkier than the plastic rain jackets (and comes in a carrying case) but it does provide good protection, especially when you're at the beach. It's great if you just want to use one lens; changing lenses necessitates removing the camera from the bag.

I'm sure there are other choices out there but these were just a few that I came up with. And, with me photographing waterfalls on my last two vacations, I found for quick lens changes and good general protection, the Op-Tech did the job well.
The story behind the photo…The View
03rd March 2017
There are times when I see something that I would like to photograph and have to stop. I grab my photo gear and am gone before hubby has a chance to get out of his door.

One day we were going through a construction site and were stopped at the red light. I happened to look over and see this bench between two trees in a field. There was something about the scene that was so peaceful and inviting that I knew I had to shoot it.

I asked Wolf to pull over, grabbed my camera and off I went. Being late fall, the fields had been plowed under and made ready for the winter. I walked out into the field, took a few photos, then decided that I wanted to shoot a few with a different lens. Wolf offered to get it, so I waited until he returned.

He came back a few minutes later and started laughing. Not a ha-ha type of laugh but one that was really loud and startled me. When I asked him what he was laughing about (I couldn't imagine what was so funny in this wonderfully peaceful setting), he told me to "look down".

Imagine my surprise when I realized I was ankle deep in mud!

After a good laugh, I dug my feet out of the mud, changed lenses and continued to take photos.

On occasion, when we pass the bench under the trees, we have a good laugh.

And we have learned to keep boots on the car when we go out.

Being on German TV
19th September 2016
Towards the end of May, my husband came home from an IT event he attended and told me about some of the people he met there, which he always does. Among others, he mentioned a man who is a manager with a television station here in Germany. They film several series based on locations in the area and on the people who live here. They wanted to film an episode with my hubby based in our area with mention of his IT company. When Wolf told him that his wife is a photographer, he said that they didn't do individuals. So, imagine my surprise when he called the house a few days later saying that they had looked at my website and wanted to film a segment of "Entdecke Rhein Lahn" with me.

When I was a child, I had an inner ear infection which left me with no hearing in one ear and limited hearing in the other. When more than one person talks at a time or when I'm in a crowded room with a lot of conversation, I can't make anything out. It can be frustrating and hard but, unfortunately nothing can be changed. So, as a result, I'm an introvert...I would rather be behind the camera than in front of it.

When Wolf talked to me about filming the episode, I tried to think of every reason not to do it. I didn't want to back out of it though and regret it later, so I decided to do it and let the chips fall where they may. I went over things in my mind and hoped that I wouldn't screw the German language up too much.

The day of filming both of our episodes came and, unfortunately, the weather was not the best...cloudy, rainy and cold. Not what we wanted but what we had expected with the way our weather has been this year. So, we put on warm clothes, our jackets and set out for the meeting place.

The three of us walked to where Wolf would be filing part of his episode. After about an hour, it was my turn. This part wasn't hard since it only consisted of me walking and acting like I was taking a few photos (which I actually did). Since I had an exhibition going on in a nearby village, we drove there where my interview took place. I admit that I wimped and, instead of doing the interview in German, I did it in English and they dubbed it. Looking back, I could kick myself for taking the "easy" way out, but hindsight is always easy.

The mayor of the village was also there and said a few words on camera, which I found rather nice. It was good publicity for the village and the possibility of other artists showing there too.

The end result of the 5:30 minute series is well done. After the filming was done, my husband looked at the editor/videographer and said that he couldn't believe that it was actually his wife talking - he thought (as I did) that my nervousness would show on camera. I was nervous but, after a while, I felt more comfortable with the camera running.

The nervousness returned the day of the TV showing so I set the recorder and watched it later. They did a wonderful job not only putting the show together but dubbing it.

I guess you could say that was my five minutes of fame.

Entecke Rhein Lahn Episode
Being Grateful
17th September 2016
It's always nice when someone purchases a photo of mine, whether it be at an exhibition, through Etsy or my website. I always like to give them a small "Thank You" by including a photo card or two featuring a photo in the same theme that they purchased. They love it and I like the way it makes me feel, which is why I do it.

Saying "Thank You" in other situations is also appreciated; whether it be to the mail person, the check out person at the grocery or the delivery person. I consider it just good manners and the way I was brought up.

Along with my own website, I also work on the website of two artist groups that I belong. I volunteered my help on one since the former webmaster had other interests and no time to update it. The other one I created and maintained for the group.

The former group appreciates what I do and expresses such to me; the latter not. In the latter case, I have done the website for six years for free even paying the expenses to run the site. But, after six years without a "Thank You" from anyone (not to mention the lack of input or interest in the site), I decided to give up the site. I offered to transfer it to anyone who wanted to take it over and do the work. One lady reluctantly volunteered to do it although she has no experience in anything web-related. At our last group meeting (which she didn't bother to attend), we tried to explain to the group leader what would be needed to transfer it all over. After a blank stare from the leader, the new webmaster was sent a list of hosting options and a basic "how-to" for the transfer, along with a two week deadline to get it done (since the URL is expiring soon).

But, imagine my surprise when a vote was taken to continue the site and even pay for it. As I left the meeting, I felt angry, disappointed and taken advantage of - all of which I wouldn't have felt had someone taken the time along the way to say "Thank You".

And, as I concentrate on my upcoming exhibitions and the websites I currently maintain, I will remember to say "Thank You"...and mean it.

Thank you for reading this and I truly hope that you enjoy my photos.
Pet Peeves and Photography
26th April 2016
I have a few pet peeves.

One is people who act like they are in the know when they point to one of your photos and declare not everything is in focus. They don't realize - nor care - that you intended the photo that way. I speak from experience here as I have had a friend do that to me. "Alles ist nicht scharf" (Everything is not sharp), he pointed out. I told him about selective focus and that was the way I intended the photo. He merely shook his head like he didn't believe me and walked away.

But I guess I should say that this friend was also someone who didn't actually think I was taking the photos, but my husband. Go figure.

Another is people who think that they should be professional photographers since they are able to get everything in focus, or their friends tell them they should be. It takes more than takes the eye.

I tried to explain that to my husband one evening without trying to sound like a space cadet. I finally decided to just tell it to him straight. When I walk around with my camera, I look at things differently. I picture the scene in my mind as a finished photo. If I like the result, I take a photo of it and use my software to achieve the look I envisioned.

I took online classes with the New York Institute of Photography back in 2004. It taught me a lot about photography and equipment. But I hadn't developed the eye yet and continued to take photos - they were at least in focus. It wasn't until I saw the artist with his hands around his wine glass that something clicked (besides my shutter). Slowly but surely, I started to develop the eye. I bought books home and started pouring through them to see if I could see what other photographers saw.

And I experimented...a lot. Thank goodness for digital cameras which gave me the freedom to do that.

Even after all these years and many exhibitions, I find my eye ever evolving. And it's fun.
Lahn Artists Photo Group Exhibition
20th November 2015
Three members of our group are exhibiting at the St. Vincenz Krankenhaus in Limburg. We have stepped in to fill a void left by someone who decided to back out of their scheduled exhibition. I enjoy showing my work, especially with others in the group. Our Theme is "Kontraste", which was perfect to show some of my infrared photos and some new landscape photos that I shot a few weeks ago.

A big thanks to Herbert Ristl, the manager of the group, for arranging this for us.

After finishing the installation of the exhibition. From left: Herbert Ristl, me, Vladi Murtin
Kayaking and Nature
29th October 2015
I love to go kayaking. Mind you, I can’t swim, but that doesn’t stop me.

Recently, on vacation in Orlando to see my family, my son in law asked if I wanted to go kayaking. We borrowed kayaks from friends of his and went to King’s Landing in Apopka to put in.

We started out early afternoon, so we had to push to make the 4:00 pick up time at the end of the eight miles. But we did take time to have a sandwich about midway. Going down the river, I was amazed at the peace there. The only noise to be heard was the occasional plane overhead, the movement in the underbrush of animals and the click of the shutters of our cameras.

Even though my arms were aching and my legs were sunburned, I quickly said “yes” when he asked if I wanted to go back again a couple of days later.

This time we were at King’s Landing early in the morning and were on the water by 9am. Being out on the water before others gave us the opportunity to see a bit more this time. We saw turtles lined up on fallen branches and alligators sunning themselves on partially submerged tree trunks.

Since we were paddling downstream, it was a challenge at times to maneuver into position where you could take a few shots. If you were lucky, there were vines that you could grab a hold of and swing the kayak around into position, holding onto them with one hand while taking your shots with the other.

With the warning that we needed to remember that the wildlife was just that – wild - and dangerous to approach (and the knowledge that earlier in the week a woman had an arm ripped off by a gator when she swam into the lily pads and too close to a nest), we backed off when a gator – we estimated him to be about 8 ½ feet – let us know that we shouldn’t come too close. He stayed on the log as we turned our kayaks around at a respectable distance and took our shots.

This was the first time I had been in such close contact with wildlife in their natural environment. And, even though I came away with even more sunburn on my already sunburned legs (although my arms didn’t ache as bad), it was truly an experience that I’ll never forget.
Rain Can Be Your Friend
16th June 2015
There are some advantages to rainy days for photographers. One is that the light is even - no harsh shadows to try to compensate for. Even with the software programs of today, it can sometimes be hard to correct harsh shadows without giving your photos an unrealistic or grainy look.

Another advantage relates to tourist sites: the lack of crowds. We happened to be driving home a couple of weeks ago from the Schwarzwald (Black Forest) region. When driving through Todtnau, your eyes can't help but travel up to one of the most spectacular waterfalls which is easily seen from the road. Driving up the winding road to the waterfall can be challenging though. The parking lot consists of perhaps twenty spots and, when those are full, people park along the side of the road and walk up to the waterfall. I love waterfalls but walking with two heavy backpacks in the heat and juggling for a position to try to photograph the waterfall without a thousand people in the picture is not my idea of fun. The alternative to that is simple:

Go there in the rain...

As I mentioned, we happened to be driving home. As we drove up the winding road, not a car was to be seen. Even the parking lot was empty...totally empty. We parked, put our rubber boots on and walked towards the entrance. The last food stand owner was closing and said "Hallo" as we walked by. I can imagine that he had a good laugh at the tourists walking in the drizzling rain. As we rounded the corner, we could hear the power of the water. The site of the waterfall was incredible. We've been to a few - some natural and some man made. This one ranks towards the top of the list for sheer beauty. And, since it had been raining all day, there was more water than normal.

And we were all alone.

There was a covered hut that protected the camera equipment when the drizzle picked up a bit. While Wolf stayed there, I took the umbrella and balanced it between my shoulder and chin while I shot. I shot the waterfall until the light started to fade. Then I turned around and shot the mountains that were shrouded in the mist. Even with the rain, it couldn't have been a more perfect way to end the day.

And We're Live
17th January 2015
I have been with another hoster, Zenfolio, for almost six years now. I have had few issues with them, but nothing that made me want to change...until I happen to notice an upswing in the user forum of other photographers who were noticing that their images weren't showing up on Google search.

My site had been consistently ranked on the first page of Google search so I erroneously thought that my images would also be indexed. I was wrong. Only a few photos - mostly from my blog - were indexed. I had close to 1,000 photos on my site and only three or four had been picked up by Google. Something was really wrong.

For a photographer who relies on potential customers finding their site via Google (and other search engines), this could be a killer. No concrete answer from the hoster was forthcoming. I can only guess that something was blocking the sites from Google, but the true answer will never be known.

So, my New Years resolution was to make a change. After a month long search, I landed on Photium. For someone who loves the KISS principle (Keep It Simple Stupid), it was right up my alley.

So here I am...

As spring rolls around, hubby and I will be taking off again and making our long weekend journeys around Germany. Not only will I be making photos with my infrared camera but a new addition to my bag - a Nikon D750 with a few new full format lenses. Like a kid with a new toy, I'm excitedly awaiting ordering it next week...and also taking delivery!

So, a new website, new hoster and new camera's to a wonderful start to 2015!!
…and bring your camera…
18th October 2011
We attended the finisage of a group exhibition of amateur where a friend of ours was participating. As a group, we decided to go to dinner and celebrate their exhibition. The instructor is an acquaintance that I know through an artists group of which I am a member. I have talked to her several times and, on one occasion, took a photo of her with her painting at the yearly group exhibition of the group. Since I had my camera with me and had taken photos of my work there, I had no problem with it.

As the group was preparing to run through the rain to their respective cars, she mentioned an exhibition opening that she was having the next week. I always enjoy attending openings, both to see what new works people display, but to also see if the venue is a possibility for me to exhibit at in the future. As she mentioned the place and time, I duely noted it down…until she mentioned that maybe I could bring my camera as she hadn’t had time to think about arranging a photographer to take some photos of the event.


My pen went back into my purse and we told her that we would have to check our calendars. My husband already had plans for that evening, so we sent our regrets and promised to stop by to see the exhibition while it was running.

Granted, most photographers take their cameras just about everywhere with them. But, we do like an occasional evening of relaxation that does not involve taking photos. And, when the occasion arises to do something like event photography, we do like to get paid or some other sort of arrangement made.

Case in point: I know an artist in another group. He just celebrated his 84th birthday the other day. Naturally, he’s on a limited income but he still likes to pay his own way. Since I cut my own mats for my photos, I have matting material left over. Instead of having it clog the landfills, I give it to him at our monthly group meetings. I have paintings that he’s done on bottoms of drawers and tiles that he’s found at demolition sites. If he can find it, he’ll paint or draw on it. He brings his latest drawings and paintings to the meetings to show us what he’s been up to. I always bring something home that he’s done. At first, I would try to turn him down – until I realized that this was his way of paying me back for the drawing material. I have enough of his drawings to begin matting and framing them to hang on the wall…and I will be bringing him the leftover matting material.

I wonder if I invite my painter acquaintance to my next exhibition opening if I could ask her to bring her brushes, paints, canvas and easel and paint a picture of the opening. Think she might get the hint then?
Rediscovering Old Photos
19th August 2011
Many times when I take photos, I download them to my computer to work on at a later time. Sometimes, the “later time” means days, weeks and even months. Sometimes, it means later than that.

This was one of those photos. I “rediscovered” it a few months ago, having taken it years ago, long forgotten on my hard drive. After a bit of Photoshop manipulation, I took the opportunity to show it at two of my last exhibitions. The response has been overwhelming! People seem to be drawn to the photo and it was mentioned in a newspaper article about one of the exhibitions.

Funny how rediscovering old photos works out.

When Professionalism Pays Off
04th July 2011
I hadn’t planned on participating in a local event exhibition due to the fact that I wasn’t going to be in the country. But when the manager of our photo group told me that he might not have enough photos for the exhibition, I asked my husband if he could deliver and hang photos if I put together some for the exhibition. He agreed to, so I planned it in before my trip.

The photos – 20 of them – were ready a few days before I left, and I worked up a hanging plan. My husband not only hung the photos but was in attendance during the event to answer any questions. He sent photos to me showing not only my contribution but the fact that the room was full. Several of the other participating photographer’s were also in attendance during the showing and a good time was had by all.

Wolf, always on the lookout for an opportunity for showing my work, asked the owner if there was any possibility that the photo group could show there again. The owner mentioned that there was a festival planned in a couple of weeks and that they had another photographer showing there, but there was room for more. He expressed his disappointment at the hodgepodge appearance of some of the other photos at the exhibition and said that the offer to show in the room would only be extended to me. If anyone else wanted to show their photos, they could, but in another room.

When the owners’ decision was made known to the group, only two other photographers decided to show. The manager of our group was quite angry at the decision and declined. After talking to the owner about his decision, I decided to go ahead and participate. I didn’t regret it. The three days were fun, I got to know quite a number of people and was even afforded an opportunity to hang out in the rafters behind the stage where the bands played to take some photos.

In the end, the owner respected my professionalism and I don’t doubt that, if an opportunity arises again to exhibit there, he’ll call.

Fans enjoying themselves during the afternoon band sessions.

While everyone danced to the music, one fan seemed to just enjoy listening.

One fan crowd surfs.

The band finishes the last song of their set.

As I hung up in the rafters, I noticed that someone had drawn hearts on the stage.