Technical Difficulties

Well, dang …

Looks like all my pictures have gone off to see the wizard here on my blog …

So tomorrow, I’ll see about starting to replace them … this should be fun!!  In the meantime, here’s a new one that is actually one of a series of three that I recently posted to my Fine Art America website.  It’s summer here on the East Coast of the US … and the butterflies are floating around so thick and fast I nearly have to brush them aside when I walk through my garden!!!


Seeking Sweetness 1So if you like butterflies, drop on over to my website (by clicking the image above) and see some more!!

And in the meantime, I’ll start fixing the blog back up … tomorrow ….

Update:  Well, tomorrow came sooner than usual … everything’s all updated already … whew!!!

< brushes hands on jeans, straightens hat, and saunters off into the sunset.  Well, technically it’s nearly 11 pm here and the dogs still need to be walked, but you get the idea! >  Done and done!!


The Photographer’s Lament – Wrong Lens!!

I dropped my husband off at Dulles airport yesterday morning and planned to make a stop on my drive home at a spot not far from there, the beautiful old train station at Point of Rocks, Maryland, to get some snaps with my new lens.

I’d been having a debate with myself over which lens to buy for weeks, but I finally settled on the 10-24mm Nikkor 3.5.  I need the extra width for the real estate / model home photography side of my business and though I’ve been happy with my Sigma 10-20mm, there is a bit of chormatic aberration (sometimes quite noticeable and a nuisance to correct), plus a general lack of sharpness and clarity with the Sigma that I was hoping to improve upon.  Since it really is my bread and butter lens, it made sense to upgrade.  I’d been using the new lens on a model home shoot all day the day before and was very pleased with the results it and the Nikon D7000 gave me so, since what I was planning to shoot was architectural as well, it made sense.  Grabbed the camera on the way out the door, and we were off.

Got the hubby where he needed to be and, after a wrong turn exiting the airport (there was this awesome geometric configuration of buildings with lines and angles and the control tower and the light was perfecto just off to the left … who knew I had to exit to the right Right THERE???), and making a giant circle which included a probably-illegal U-turn, I finally made my way back onto the open road.  Just as I was leaving Leesburg and heading north on Route 15, my eye was caught by some commotion on an overpass ramp leading down to the oncoming lanes.  I saw two highway workers running down the hill toward the ramp, and in front of them what looked like a big black dog.

Except, it wasn’t moving like a big black dog.

I’ve seen enough bears by now to recognize the way they run … and this thing looked like a bear!!  But just outside of Leesburg, Virginia?  Really??  I mean, I’ve gotten used to seeing bears on top of Blue Knob Mountain, Pennsylvania … but down here??

I pulled the car over … thankfully traffic was almost non-existent … grabbed the camera and hopped out.  But by the time I got my car stopped, I had moved past where the bear’s trajectory was taking him, so now he was way behind me.  And I didn’t have a telephoto with me!!!

Not to be deterred, I started running down the highway, pausing for a couple of snaps as I ran.  Here is a very tightly-cropped shot of Mr. Bear … who to me seems to be a young fella … maybe out on his own for the first time …


I turned and waved to the two construction workers who were still up on the ramp and gave them the thumbs up.  They waved back.

Right place, wrong lens … story of my life.

But Mr. Bear made it to the other side of the road safely … and in the grand scheme of things, that’s really all that matters.




Potential Legalized Theft of Copyrighted Works in the UK?

This may be only the beginning ….

Our British photography / artist friends should be interested in this potential horrendous miscarriage of justice. Please read the following and, if it applies to you, give some thought to adding your signature.  It’s being said that contacting your MP is the best way to make your voice heard, but signing the petition will surely be helpful as well.

The following is an excerpt from the embedded link:

“A new legislation that has been rushed through parliament with no thought has now reached royal assent. This legislation means that photographers and illustrators alike will see their artworks legally taken and used for another’s own gain.

Unless your works are registered or plastered with a watermark, anyone can use your copyrighted work for their own commercial and personal gains provided they have made a small effort to search for the original owner. If no owner can be found, they are free to do with it whatever they want.”

Sadly, it’s my understanding that unless you’re in Great Britain, you can’t sign … but if you are … please do!  If it passes, it’ll only a matter of time before nonsense like this spreads to the rest of us:

April Sunshine

Wow … time flies!!!  I can’t believe it’s been over a year since I last wrote in my blog … (laughing at myself) … well, best intentions and all that.

I HAVE been busy, and it’s mostly been photography-related, so that’s good.  Have been getting into the model home / real estate photography side of things which I enjoy very much.  All those years of Architectural Digest subscriptions are finally paying off!!!  Maybe I’ll do a blog about model home photography one of these days.  Hopefully sooner than 12 months from now.

So.  A whole year since my last blog … it must be something about spring that awakens another side of my creativity.  The clear air and the warm April sun drew me out in the yard the other day, snapping away with the macro lens … and as I squinted and composed and squirmed, kirked my body into all kinds of contortions angling the camera around, the images I was working with sparked a lovely memory.

Many years ago when my husband and I first moved into our home, my dad drove up with a cardboard box full of plants. But these weren’t wild and exotic tulips, not famous rose bushes, nor the bulbs of one of my favorites, jonquils, that Mom had been promising to send. No, these were the wild violets that grew on Daddy’s own lawn and had grown there for as far back as I could remember. These sweet, tiny purple jewels brought the memories of chilly spring mornings when I, barefooted, near-sighed and glasses-less, would skip outside into the morning sunshine to wonder at the tiny, colorful, sparkling gems that seemed to have popped up overnight.

_DSC3417CPNik2NNikPtchFlblaNNikImgnNmeProg2PxlBlndrSmdgHiPssCmRwWell, I planted those wild violets, nicely and neatly near the house, and wondered if they’d make it. I’m happy to say, they’re dotted here and there all over my own lawn, now. And a large crop even made it into one of the flower beds where they currently hold pride of place in my garden … and in my memory.

Image taken with the Nikon D7000 and the 105mm vr Nikon / Nikkor macro lens April 20, 2013.

When Wishes Come True

After almost a year, I’ve finally gotten another YouTube slideshow / video off the ground and posted.  The operative word being:  finally!!

One of the things that inspires me when I’m editing an image is music.  To me, the two go hand in hand.  I have several favorites that, if I were still using vinyl records, would long ago have been worn flat.  Elmer Bernstein’s breathtaking main theme from “To Kill A Mockingbird” is one of those favorites, and the new video, featuring images of birds, is set to that piece.  With the number of birds I’ve already posted at my site on Fine Art America you might well wonder what took me over a year to finally complete and upload the video.

Couldn’t get a decent mockingbird shot to save my life.  Pitiful luck with mockingbirds.  One day a few weeks ago I was cruising through artwork on Fine Art America and discovered a glorious mockingbird capture, and I remember commenting to the photographer how badly I’d been wanting just such a shot.  Well believe it or not, within days I got my wish!  Right outside my kitchen’s French doors to the deck … sat … a … mockingbird.  I grabbed the camera, grabbed the right lens, and muttering prayers under my breath, raced back to the kitchen and … birdie was still there!!!  Will wonders never cease???  Got the shots … plopped a couple of them into the vid … and pressed the upload button.

Lois Bryan's To Kill A Mockingbird on Fine Art America

If you have the time, take a look!!  Some straight photography, some with digital editing.  I hope you’ll enjoy!!



Google Search Changes

A lot of us are finding ourselves becoming more aware of and alarmed by what’s happening to our personal information on the internet (George Orwell / Big Brother … here we come!) and as such, we greeted Google’s soon-to-be implemented privacy policy with raised eyebrows.  Google plans to share user data across its online services … from YouTube to Google+ to Google Analytics, right down to what we’ve been Google-searching.

If you’re at all uneasy, I’m including a couple of links that beautifully describe what to do to eliminate the worry of Google plastering your personal information all over the universe.

The first link is from “Digital Journal” and was written by JohnThomas Didymus.  It’s concise, it’s coherent and it’s step-by-step complete:

The second link I’m including is from “1st Angel Magazine,” written by Beth Edwards:

This might be considered by some as just another example of “scare journalism” … but I urge everyone to at least become familiar with what’s happening, and make your own informed decision.



New Year’s Resolutions

I have to think that some of the most popular New Year’s Resolutions on a lot of people’s lists would be to eat more healthy, get more exercise and, of course, to stop procrastinating.  I know that last one’s been on mine more than once.

This year, though, my main New Year’s Resolution was a lot more concrete … to fire my 1st Angel Blog back up again.  You see, back in June, I made the decision to go back to work … a real life, nine-to-five-type office job.  It would mean a lot less time for my creative outlets, photography and digital art and writing, but it seemed like the right thing to do.  So it was with a heavy heart that I took the first opportunity that came along: doing all the paper-work-y things in my own husband’s office.  I have to admit, I experienced more than a little panic at first.  Did you know that mysterious and important-looking papers can sneer and laugh maliciously?  I swear to you … they can and they do.

However, as the months went by, I was able to shush the evil laughter coming from the “’roundtoit” pile, take a few new pictures here and there, and even open Photoshop and sneak into “The Creative Zone.”


So here I am again … shamefacedly cracking open the door to my virtual 1st Angel office, dusting off the desk and beginning again.  But that’s what the New Year is all about, isn’t it?  Beginning again?

Of course, we are already a good three weeks into the New Year … so maybe I should think a little harder about adding that procrastination thing back onto the list … ??

What were some of YOUR New Year’s Resolutions, and how are you coming with them?

Talking Pictures

It’s not like I actually hear voices.

I was at Blue Knob Mountain in Claysburg, Pennsylvania (USA), in May, and had so much fun, walking around snapping landscapes and macros and everything in between

Wild Thing

But when it came time to take the images seriously and consider which of the zillion landscapes to post online, I ran into a bit of a dilemma.  The image I finally decided on had magnificent detail in the wood of the old shed, in the dandelions, and in the distant clouds.  But the picture itself kept telling me it wanted to go a different way.  It wanted mood and atmosphere.  It was feeling a bit nostalgic, even a bit forlorn.  And so … I listened.

Room With A View

Has that ever happened to you??


Workin’ It!!

Snapped this adorable emu at the Catoctin Wildlife Preserve and Zoo in Thurmont, Maryland. What a hilarious experience … I swear to you, he/she was FLIRTING WITH ME!!!! HAHAHHA!!!! The whole time I was shooting, I was doing the fashion photographer thing, saying: “That’s it, baby, work it. Work it for me, baby, oh, you’ve got it .. you’ve got it working … yeah, baby, that’s it baby … ” And I’m telling you, that emu WORKED IT!!!  Thank heavens no one else was around. I don’t think.





Back Story #1 Mel Brackstone’s “Woody Point Pano” By Lois Bryan

One of the best parts about roaming the Internet and viewing the photography, digital and traditional art displayed at various art-for-sale sites is reading the back stories of the images that artists sometimes provide.  Webster defines “back story” as “a story that tells what led up to the main story or plot” and though we’re talking about images, I think the term still applies.

With this post I’m beginning a new series of articles of photographic, digital and traditional artwork with a bit of a glimpse into the heart of the artist.

The stories will sometimes be educational, sometimes entertaining, or can be humorous or harrowing.  They can be about the inspiration for a digital manipulation or they can be about the emotional place the photographer was in when the clouds parted and the light settled on that one tree, just right, and the clicking of the shutter stopped time.  But the images will all have one thing in common:  the WOW factor.

Our first image is “Woody Point Pano” by the incredibly talented Brisbane, Australia artist, Mel Brackstone …

Here in her own words, is how the amazing “Woody Point Pano” came to be:


“So, here’s the thing … I’m TERRIFIED of lightning, and would rather bury my head under a pillow in the safety of my own home than be out there chasing photos of storms ….

For months now, a friend, Nick Lagos, has been urging me to come chasing with him and I’ve resisted … because I am seriously noise challenged.  The head injury I suffered years ago has made me very sensitive to noise … and lightning, when it does its thang, manages to make some horrendously loud sounds!!!

One Monday morning, while I was tootling along here at the computer with nothing much happening, and me putting off doing the taxes, I received an email from Nick saying that there were storms brewing.  Nick is one of those marvelous people who thirsts for knowledge, and so he does an amazing amount of research into these events.  He finds places to shoot from, works out where the wind will go, and then tests out his theories.  Seventy-five percent of the time he gets it bang on the money.  The other twenty five percent of the time would usually keep most happy, but not Nick.

After checking the time and date, I replied, saying “Eeep, I have to do the books, today is BAS day, and I’m not chasing storms until the ATO (Australian Tax Office) has been paid!”  Needless to say he urged me to hurry ….

Strangely enough, I did hurry, and finished the data entry and calculations in record time.  Then rushed out to the post office and butcher, and was back by midday.  While I was out his next email said it was possibly a fizzer … so he went out to do some things.  I checked around 1 pm and noticed the line of storms on the Bureau of Meteorology site showing lots of red.  That’s good for storm chasers, not so good for the people the storm is going to hit!

Nick rang at 1:30 and said we should go, so I arranged to meet him over the other side of town and we hightailed it up to Sandgate.  Though the feathered edges of the clouds were just overhead, Nick wasn’t feeling too confident.  We jumped back into the car and crossed the bay to Woody Point, turning left just after the bridge.  We looked at this spot as a possible location, but decided against it because there wasn’t enough expanse of sky visible, nor would there be much water, since it was low tide.  The mammatus clouds were starting to appear, though, which was quite heartening!

Stopping at the boat ramp, we watched the sky develop more and more.  The mammatus was also becoming a little more obvious … always a good sign for a storm chaser!

In the car again, we headed for the yacht club, up near the jetty at Woody Point.  Since we hadn’t done any of this chasing malarkey before, we didn’t really know what we were doing.  However we were feeling pretty confident that we were in a good position to catch something interesting.  Once we hopped out of the car and looked up at the clouds we decided that this was where we were going to stay.  I grabbed my infrared and my 5D, tripod, polarizer, Lee ND grads and cable release.

We could see that the lines of the clouds were starting to appear, and there was a break-through of the light onto Mt. Coot-tha on the horizon.  I decided to go towards the jetty, and Nick took off to the right to collar the fisherman.

This was when we realized that we might be seeing a decent cloud formation.  We could see the lines forming and the wave of the cold air hitting the hot air … this was gonnna be a good one!

I walked across the mudflats taking shots as I went, stopping first for a couple of pics with a red umbrella, and then when I was as close to the jetty as I dared go (farthest from the car) I shot the pano



(Note:  this image is clickable back to Mel’s original post at Redbubble which I encourage you to visit and hit the “view larger” button when you get there!!)

Then I started working my way back.  I did stop and try to shoot another pano, however I was beginning to freak out a little by this time, and I forgot to use my cable release, so some of the images were blurry and pretty much useless.

The whole time I was on the beach the air was still and the temperature was quite hot.  I didn’t even see any lightning inside the storm while I was shooting.  It was incredibly quiet as it made its speedy way across the bay.  Eventually the wind started to pick up, and within minutes the rain started to fall.  I made it back to the car, found a business card for Nick to hand to the fisherman, grabbed the door so Nick could pack his gear inside, and we jumped into the car just in time to escape the heavy rain.

Time we arrived at Sandgate – around 2:50 pm, at the boat ramp – 3:15 pm, and the Yacht Club – 3:40 pm.  I was back in the car by 4:10 pm, and Nick another 3 minutes later.  We attempted to get in front of the storm again, but we’d run out of land, so decided to treat ourselves to some fish and chips instead.

All in all a very satisfying afternoon’s excursion, and I wasn’t bothered by the lightning at all … (this time).

I stitched the images together with Photoshop / Photomerge, and I must say, I was very impressed with the result.  There were only minor changes needed to match the joins, and the horizon needed to be messed with a little.  Other than that, it was sit back and let the machine do the work!  (And that’s how I like it!)”