Tuesday, July 31, 2007

July 2007

Devil's Bouquet

Nyctaginia capitata

This is a remarkable little flower with two fun nicknames, Scarlet Musk and Devil's Bouquet. They aren't uncommon, nor do you see huge stands of them. Usually like this one, just a single plant surviving in a sandy roadside. As the name suggests, it has somewhat a disagreeable odor. But I remember there being a wildflower that I thought had an unpleasant smell, until someone said it smelled like chocolate. (Audrey, you know it, and remember that field trip where we learned it was nicknamed the "chocolate daisy?") Then, suddenly it did to me too! Isn't that odd?

No matter how this bloom smells, I love seeing its splash of red (from afar it looks more red than orange as it does here). And aren't its purple stigmas and anthers lovely? When I draw a flower I forget about them, but macro photography has led me to believe I'm missing a very important part (for beauty and functionality) of a flower by doing so.

P.S. I know I haven't been commenting on your blogs lately. I'll catch up in the next few days, I promise.

P.P.S. Good bye July 2007. I'm glad you are over.

Monday, July 30, 2007

For Star Light and Son of Adam

Pentas and Agapanthas

In less than a month, Star Light and Son of Adam will be back home visiting. I can hardly wait! One of the things I did on my "cfd" was re-plant this flowerbed. Hopefully it will look a little more naturalized by the time they arrive. (And by "naturalized," I'm hoping that doesn't mean dead. ha)

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Banner Day

After yesterday's computer free day, I thought I'd come back with something fresh. I'm not on the computer much today either, as it turns out, but I'll be back in full tomorrow. Sheeze, will any one be here? Hope you all enjoy your cfd's immensely. It's not as bad as you think. ;)

The old:

And now the new:

Saturday, July 28, 2007

This is a Computer Free Day

The Debi Cates' first official Computer Free Day!

Remember what the days were like before computers? I hardly do as I've been learning about and working on computers since 1980.

So, for the sake of long-overdue balance, I've decided I would try a pure, unadulterated computer free day. I wonder what it will be like without email, google, or blogging? (Not even TextTwist! Yikes!) I might not even turn on the TV for an even purer experience.

However, let's not go too crazy... a Dave Matthews CD will definitely be allowed.

Have fun today! See you Sunday.

Friday, July 27, 2007

A song for Frances

A song for Frances

These aren't just any wind chimes, they are tuned ones so are especially melodious. In West Texas there is almost always a breeze, so they sing pretty much of the time, a kind of symphonie inachevée*.

I don't know much about music technically, but these are tuned to the notes EGABDE, E minor 7/11. (I have no idea what that last part means.)

In case you are interested in how they sound and want to daydream for a minute of sitting on my shady porch with me, watching the butterflies, the manufacturer Grace Note Chimes has provided an mp3 you can listen to here.

*symphonie inachevée, Unfinished symphony. Neda used that expression in an email to me just this morning. I looked it up and loved it. Was glad it was so easily worked into this morning's post.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Purple Rose

Purple rose

No matter how beautiful this rose was when it was in full bloom, it would have looked pretty much like any other rose. Beautiful, but after you've seen one you've seen them all. This rose's age makes her a real beauty: unique, open-hearted, mesmerizing.

I haven't tended to comments in the last couple of days, so I have some catching up to do. But I wanted to say a big thank you for all the nice comments on my blog. Your encouragements fill me up with inspiration and gratitude. What a cornucopia of talent and heart our happy group is!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Agave from above

Agave from above

I had to stand on a stack of wood, stretch my arms out, and aim my camera over this spiny and very large agave. It was a blind shot. I didn't see this amazing world first hand, only the camera did. I thought it was breath-taking, this Agave from Above.

Even the normal human view, on the right is still lovely. But you can see by those spines why you can't get too close.

By the way, I want to say again thank you to my mom who lovingly gave to me her camera, a Panasonic DMC-FZ5. I never did feel like I was a good match with my Nikon Coolpix and the kind of pictures I like to take. Not only is this camera amazing, but the extreme gift (of camera and confidence) has made me get out there, camera in hand, and try to live up to that generosity.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Butterflies are free

Gulf fritillary just emerged, pumping its wings

Yesterday, I didn't feel up to getting out and taking pictures of the world, but taking out the trash I saw a color that made me take notice. This fresh, newly emerged splash of orange, pumping the fluid into its new wings, begged for me to come closer to see. And, of course, to take its picture.

I instantly fell in love with her/him and was thrilled that she/he let me hold her/him for a minute. (Anyone know how to sex butterflies? That she/he business is quite a mouthful.)

What a precious little gift. The gift of it being itself.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Star Bright's Zinnias

Star Bright's zinnia

Star Bright planted zinnias the first time this year. They give her a lot of joy. Rightly so.
And that little green bug there is likely equally pleased.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Lilypad for Rima

Here is my version of Rima's workshop assignment number 1, "Lilypad."

The Photoshop steps I took were:
1. Opened the Lilypad image, selected all, and copy. Left that image opened.
2. Opened a new image, pasted the image as a new layer, reduced the layer opacity to 25%, just so I could barely see it.
3. Opened a new layer, then going to back and forth, using the original image as a pallet, I dipped my dipper into it for colors, and painted on top of the nearly transparent layer. One of the things I was pleased to discover during this assignment -- and I suspect Rima had hoped we would stretch ourselves to learn new things -- was the ability to change the paint brush option from Normal to Behind which worked great for me because I started with the center of the flower and built outward.
4. After "painting" in the detailed elements, it was time to figure out how to do the water. (I think I work backwards, don't you?) I used a really big brush, one that had feathered edges, and set the opacity to about 40 and kept re-painting around my details, allowing for there to be lighter and darker areas in the water. A happy accident in painting the water was I found that touching the edges of the painted details gave them some quasi-shadows.
5. Lastly, I merged all my layers, selected all, copied, then pasted into the same image. Then I set that latest layer's opacity to 50% and pointilized it. (I tried pointilizing the original "painting" first, but it was too harsh, much too Photoshop-Effecty.)

And then I called it done. Because as you probably know, once you get started playing in Photoshop it's hard to know when to quit!

If I had anything to share in my bag of "tricks," it would be changing the opacity setting on layers. This helped me:
  • "Trace" my "painting" over the original image.
  • Subdue the effects of artistic filters.
Three cheers for Rima for giving us this fun assignment! I learned something new in doing my "homework." I bet you did too.

Unknown wildflower on side of road


I hate posting a flower that I don't know the name of. I'm not sure why that is. Doesn't a rose by any other name still smell as sweet?

Thank you Audrey! It is a Texas Virgin's Bower aka Old mans beard aka Grandads Beard aka Goats Beard, or more precisely a clematis drummondii.

This flower (it's a vine) is interesting because the petals (the pink parts) are a small part of what we would consider the flower. The real show is its stigmas (center) and anthers (outer).