Saturday, May 30, 2009

May 2009

If you gave a mouse a cookie...

"If you gave a mouse a cookie..."
West Odessa, Texas

...he'd want also your loaf of bread. That's when I caught this guy and put him under a glass. You know me, anything that is silly enough to get caught gets its photo taken before meeting its fate.

He was released out into a field, with a stern warning, Don't come back!

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Good Night Fairy

The Good Night Fairy, Debi Cates May 2009
Digital collage with my photos (and two Web nabs

My granddaughter is enjoying Fairies right now. I distinctly remember when I first saw Peter Pan and couldn't get enough of playing fairies with my friends, too.

For this collage, I used a photo I took of Kit, my flower pictures (once again) and even a bug photo for the wings. I'm thinking I'll frame it for her bedroom as a birthday gift. I had such fun doing it. I believed in fairies all over again.

Wonder who will enjoy this piece more? Kit or Grannie Bay?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Flower Power

Annie & Debi, circa 1980
Odessa, Texas

Here's a flashback for my oldest daughter, pictured here with me quite some years ago. She recently took photos of herself and her children in a field of flowers because she remembered this photo and wanted one like it for her kids.

(P.S. Thank you to my mom for this photo shoot.)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The (other) Colorado River

This way to the (other) Colorado River
Coke County, Texas

In the distance you can see Snake, Wilson, and Dead Indian Mountains. Mountains in the Texas sense of the word, not much higher than 2,600 feet. Even so, very pretty country I think.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Happy campers

"Cowboy Coffee"
Camping in Coke County on the Colorado River, Texas

Cowboy Coffee Recipe

Camping coffee pot
Ground coffee
Camp fire

Fill coffee pot 2/3rds with water and number of scoops of ground coffee according to how you normally like your coffee, but add half again as much coffee because everyone needs extra strong brew after spending the night half sleeping and half awake, listening for sounds of Big Foot entering camp.

Put pot on embers close to fire. (Making a fire, especially with wet wood, is another recipe altogether.)

Wait for it to come to a rolling boil. Try to occupy your mind with something other than the itchy bites on your legs and why everyone else is still sleeping when it is already 4:30 am. Sheeze.

Take your stick and poke the embers a bit.

Look at the dark sky for stars. Seeing no stars, know it will likely rain again today.

Poke the embers some more.

With stick still in hand, rearrange the coffee pot so that the handles aren't closest to the fire.

At the first drop of rain, get the plastic camouflage poncho that is hanging on the tree. Sit back by the fire, poke the embers.

Scooch the coffee pot with the stick just a little bit closer to the fire.

As it starts to rain, don poncho. Sourly watch the coffee pot a while longer.

Put more wet wood on the fire.

Finally, when the coffee starts to boil, take the pot off the fire and add plain water until full.

Rustle through various containers around camp to find the coffee cups and hot pad. Make as much noise as possible.

With stick, tap the coffee pot three times. (This is my mother's secret part of the recipe. We follow it religiously.)

Using hot pad, pour coffee into your cup.

Sit back down next to the fire, in the dark, in the rain, in your poncho, at 5:00 in the morning, alone, drinking your coffee, and enjoy the great outdoors!

Seriously, we had a wonderful time. Rain and all.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Spontaneous Plans

Fishing the Colorado River near Robert Lee, Texas
August 2008

After work yesterday, my brother Casey walked in and said "I'm in the mood to go fishing!" Turns out, he unexpectedly actually has all three days of this Memorial Day weekend off. So, after a a phone call to the owner, we're heading to a favorite privately-owned spot on the Colorado, where we went last August and had such a marvelous time.

I might add, this is also less than a quarter mile from where they've had at least one Big Foot sighting! If I'm not back by Monday, well...

Friday, May 22, 2009

How I use Photoshop Contact Sheets

Photoshop Contact sheet (reduced from original size)

Today I thought I would share with you my photo filing and back up system. Oh Joy, you say. True, it's not very exciting. But maybe there are a few of you that wonder, like I do, how others keep track of their photos, art scans, or data things that have a tendency to pile up, and be elusive when trying to find something in particular. It's taken me some time, but I have found a system that works pretty well for me and the way my brain works.

(I use Windows XP pro, but except for some particulars most of my system can be generally applied.)

When I upload my photos I put them in a new file folder, a folder I name based on date, where, who I was with, and any notables. For example, a folder could be named "2007 06 15 West Odessa Rain Clouds Kit playing Porch shots." What I'm trying to do is make the name meaningful enough to me in general to remember the particular shots.

Other than blurry pics, I don't delete anything. I've learned that I use my photos for more than just compositions. I may want to refer back to something a month later, see other angles of a bug, or examine the leaves of a blooming plant I took. And of course, pictures of people always get better as time goes by.

I do only two things with my photos at that point. While viewing them for the first time (in Windows Picture and Fax Viewer), I turn photos right way when they are not landscape shots. Then, sometimes, I also create a folder with the same name with "BEST" at the end. I copy photos to that folder that are ones I liked, you guessed it, best.

Then months and months go by.

One day it rains and I think, I really should back up my photos from 2007, and delete them off my groaning hard drive.

Truthfully, I will never use 99.99% of the photos I take. I won't blog them, I won't print them, I don't have anyone who'd want them in an email, I won't publish a book with them. And I may only occasionally ever view them again. Still, I don't want to delete them outright. I'm lazy and certainly don't want to go through the process of deciding which ones to keep -- out of thousands I take! Besides I sleep easier knowing I didn't accidentally delete the two photos I got minutes after my grandson was born.

But here's the thing. Naming them is great, but after I download them to CD and delete them off my system, how would I ever find something again? I can't write small enough on a CD to make that option meaningful. Trust me, I have been in the throes of frustration loading CD after CD.

That's where Photoshop comes in. Using it (I have an old version 5.5), I make "contact sheets" for each folder before deleting it. Photoshop does all the work. I simply tell it what folder to create contact sheets for, and away it goes.

When it's done, I save those sheets to my hard drive, and do not ever delete them. I put them all in a folder titled (wait for it), "Contact Sheets." The sheets are named CD number, original folder name, and a sequential number for how many ever sheets there are. So, for example, on my 12th CD I'd name them "CD0012 2007 06 15 West Odessa Rain Clouds Kit playing Porch shots" and then 01, 02, etc. for how many ever sheets there are.

I now have on my hard drive a visual directory of my photos put on CDs.

By naming those contact sheets like I do, when I go looking for billowing cloud photos, or a cute shot of Kit when she was three, I look through the contact sheet names, view them, and then lay my hands on the exact CD with the originals. And all this is done much more quickly than any other system I had.

After making the CD, with much trepidation, I delete the original folder, releasing the hard drive space. Oh, and I always make two CDs just because it feels safer. I then put the CDs in my CD carrying case -- the one I plan to grab should there ever be a house fire.

What about you? What's your system? I'm always open for improvements!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

I don't mean to nag, but...

"Digital Information"
Digital art, Debi Cates, June 2008

This is a digital piece I did a while back. I had completely forgot about it until I was going through and backing up old folders to CD today.

So, I don't mean to nag, but have you backed up your data recently?