A different look at the little things in life: Macro Photography

18 11 2010

Are you familiar with the phrase, “The best gifts come in small packages” ? Well, I believe this phrase also applies to photography. While wide landscape shots can be stunning and portraits can be beautiful, I truly believe that close-up pictures are the most fascinating.

In simple terms macro photography is close-up photography. If you are looking to take macro pictures on your camera the mode symbol is typically identified as a flower.

Taking pictures in macro is probably my favorite way to capture an image. Unfortunately, since I have a compact point-and-shoot canon camera (which is, sadly, now broken) I can only get so close to my pictures before the image become blurry. However still, they are my favorite and most prized photographs that I have captured thus far.

The first picture in this blog post was taken off the balcony outside my sister’s room on a snow day! Icicles were hanging from the railing and I crouched down and took several shots till I was able to get one I wanted. One of the coolest things about this picture is noticed if you look at the bottom of the icicles. Taking a close look you will see that the lake, sky, and tree line are reflected up-side-down in the tip of the icicle.

The second photo was taken this summer  before lunch as I lay down after a long boat ride to West Dollar Island to jump off the cliffs. The subject in the background is of the Bixby big house that I talk so often of in my Behind the Lens blog.

Can you guess what this picture is?

It is one of my favorite drinks, a Coke A Cola!

Yes, the picture below is real and unedited. It is in fact, a photograph of a perfect snowflake that gently landed on the window of our suburban as we were leaving Snowbasin ski resort that afternoon.

I took this next picture sitting in the backseat of the car coming home after a long day of school. The eye featured is mine, but the best part is if you look closely you will see me holding up a peace sign in my eye’s reflection. This picture’s color and contrast is edited, yes, however the peace sign is not cloned into the picture.

Although heavily edited, the picture below was taken of my sister making a wish on a dandelion as we went of a walk with my dad, mom and grandmother one warm sunday afternoon. Currently, I am in the process of painting this photograph.

This picture was more of a fear factor accomplishment for me than anything else. I really don’t like bees. I wouldn’t necessarily ay that I am scared of them but it is safe to say that I definitely do not like being close to them. I took this after a long jet ski ride with some family and some friends. I saw this bee stuck in a spiders web under my dock and decided to get a closer look.

To check out some more interesting macro pictures check out my gallery!


A Picture Worth a Million Memories.

11 11 2010

Sunset Beach (Captiva, Fla.) is where I have spent the second week of February ever since I can remember. This beach holds many memories which include sand castle building contests, chasing seagulls, long walks, golf cart rides and searching for sand dollars.

Pictures may be worth thousands of words, but these pictures are worth a million memories. In this blog post I have posted landscape pictures of places that have a special significance to me.

This post will be different. There will be more pictures and fewer words. Each of these landscape pictures represents many of the best memories I have ever had. This post will be more of a photo album/ scrapbook rather than a lengthy blog.

This was taken during possibly my favorite vacation ever. For my grandparent's 50th anniversary, our entire family took a trip to Hawaii to celebrate. It was probably the happiest I have ever been in my life.

This was also taken during the same Hawaii vacation as the picture above. I chose to include this picture of the Na Pali Coast because it is the prettiest view I have ever overlooked. It blows me away. God is good, isn't he?

At first glance, this picture may seem insignificant. However, to me and to the other members of the Westminster Cross Country Team, this was not only a place of intense competition, sweat, long morning workouts and a muddy winning conference; it was also a place of unity. The Westminster Cross Country team of 2009 was the best team I had ever been on. We truly came together as a team and a group of close friends. This location in the picture is Westminster Park, home of our team, races and practices.

Being from South Carolina, when I wake up and look out my window and see snow on the ground I know it's going to be an exciting day. It's not often I get to see snow on the ground in my city of Tega Cay. Whenever it snows, I immediately go and wake up my younger sister Courtney. We quickly pull on our bibs and ski jacket, grab the sleds and hike through the snow over to my best friend Abbie's house to take advantage of the golf course behind her house. There are so many memories sledding on the hill, seeing how many people we can fit in one sled and watching the wipeouts. This picture was taken from my window, which overlooks Lake Wylie.

This picture was taken in upstate New York in Lake George. I have spent around two to three weeks here ever summer since I can remember. It's a place where I get to meet up with my mom's side of the family and all my cousins on her side. There are always people around and I was never lonely growing up spending my summers here. While most people only know their first cousins, I know up to my seventh and even eighth cousins here.

This was taken on the over 100-year-old electric boat named The Saint Louis (W.K. Bixby, my great great great grandfather, was from St. Louis), at 6:00 a.m on Lake George to catch the sunrise. On this lake, my cousins have spent countless hours jumping off cliffs, out boathouse windows, flipping off diving boards and barely bouncing on water trampolines. We have learned to ski, wakeboard and even surf behind the good old (but not so trusty) Boston Whaler. We have spent time hiking to waterfalls across the lake and just sitting on the black sand beach building sandcastles with our little cousins. I talk more about my Lake George and the history that is behind it in my family portrait's blog post.

I was fortunate enough to spend my last spring break on a cruise. It was my favorite spring break ever. This picture was taken as we were leaving our last island, St. Thomas, and heading back to Puerto Rico from where we originally departed.

This was taken as I was deboarding the ship into the beautiful island of Dominica, which is also the Island where we had the most fun. Our excursions that day includes a beautiful drive, great eatery, tubing down rivers and snorkeling.

To look at more landscape pictures that hold special significance to me check out my gallery!

The Road Less Traveled

4 11 2010

Sometimes the best days are the days that go unplanned and occur off decisions based of spontaneity rather than premeditation. One of the many things I have learned in college  is that plans come and go and change unexpectedly. And now, since I am on my own schedule, I am able to fill it with whatever I choose.

On this particular Saturday I woke up late, around 12:30, then went to get lunch with some of my friends. We were eating outside, enjoying the nice weather and soon our group of two evolved into a group of 10 or so. I was feeling active, so I suggested tennis. An hour later, we had a foursome on the tennis courts. Returning from my dorm I decided to go on a drive. It was a nice day, so why not? Merissa and I jumped into my car, opened up the sunroof and drove off.

Both of us being out of state, we had absolutely no clue where we were headed, but it didn’t matter. We drove straight for the longest time, then took a right and continued to drive straight again, and that’s when I saw the cows. Without hesitation, that’s all it took for me to turn in the narrow dirt pathway. We got out and began to take pictures and contunued to drive until the path ended.

When it ended we were in a clearing with a barn, a field, and a gorgeous white horse. I jumped out of the drivers seat- I was not about to miss this photo opportunity- but quickly jumped back in the car because of the two dogs that came bolting and barking at me. Yes, they scared me, I admit it. But after spending minutes debating if they were fierce attack dogs, we decided to take the chance of finding out and got out of my Volkswagen.

the road less traveled a farm in tennessee

They immediately began jumping on us and licking us- clearly harmless. After the dogs settled down, I pulled out my camera and began taking some shots. The land was truly beautiful and the horse and two dogs as sweet as can be; it was definitely worth the trip.

As we were finishing up we heard the putter of a golf cart at our backs. “Oh shoot!” Merissa freaked and ran toward the car. I took a different approach and began waving to the elderly couple in the rustic cart. “What a lovely horse you have!” I exclaimed. After making some small talk and discovering the white horse’s name was Elvis, Merissa and I decided we had overstayed our welcome and left.

As we pulled away we looked back and saw the elderly couple drive away slowly though the fields holding holds smiles crept over our faces; we knew we had spent one of the best Saturdays here in Nashville yet.

To look at more pictures from this Saturday at the farm, check out my gallery!

I’m also curious, in response to this post, what is the best Saturday you’ve spent in a while? When is the last time you haven’t made plans and your day has benefited and become so much better because of it?

Photo Manipulation: Cloning

28 10 2010

I am a big advocate of Photoshop and I love the ability and endless possibilities of photo editing. One of my favorite tools in Photoshop is the clone effect. The cloning tool pretty much does what its name implies; it allows you to copy a section of your photo and paste it over the original image. The cloning tool is great for cutting out unnecessary objects in your photos, such as an unwanted telephone pole or totally creating an entire new image. The clone effect can be found in most photoshop programs, but the program I used for the pictures posted in this post is Picnik.

The first image in this post underwent a lot of editing (cross process, black and white filter, cinema, overlaying texture, cloning, ect…). But the main focus in these two pictures is the use of cloning. I  individually cloned the faces of my friends and inserted them in above in a random fashion to create this look.

This first picture was taken before a delicious dinner at the Melting Pot for my 17th birthday with a few of best friends. A most excellent and filling dinner, you really can never go wrong with the Melting Pot.

Above is another example of cloning, the first image being the finished product of cloning and the second the original. I took this picture last Christmas in St. Louis off the balcony of my room at the Ritz Carlton.

I find this picture especially significant because of a small detail that most would overlook. Something about this picture does not add up, and it is not the cloning. What is a lady bug doing out in St. Louis in the end of December? I have never seen ladybugs out in cold weather, and to give you an idea of the cold climate, it snowed two days after taking this picture.

This picture was especially hard to create because I wanted to portray not merely a ladybug duplicated three times, but rather three different ladybugs. This was difficult to achieve because I had to edit the spots on the bug and the stucco surface around the bugs to make the illusion more believable. I not only had to clone the lady bug, but also use the cloning tool to edit the spots. It was a clone within a clone, and when a heavy cloning job is applied it remains harder for the image to appear realistic and unaltered.

The two pictures left and right are more  of a dramatic and heavy edit exploration with the cloning tool. If you take special notice, you will recognize that these pictures were taken at the same location as the images above with the lady bug.

However, they were taken with a very abstract approach; I have never had anyone correctly guess how the original picture was actually taken, so to end your guessing I will let you in on the secret. 

I took the picture holding a wine glass up to the glass sliding door that leads out to the balcony. I took the picture with my camera inside the mouth of the glass and the circular image that you see is the base of the wine glass.

The pictures below were taken in my hometown. Although I am 20 minutes or so outside of Charlotte, N.C., the actual city I live in is Tega Cay, a small and beautiful South Carolina suburb.

At the entrance to Tega Cay there is a fountain in a pond. Driving past in the winter, I noticed the fountain became more and more frozen over. Driving home from school when the ice was piled up high, I decided to stop and get out and take a few pictures. My hands became freezing, then numb, to the point where it became hard to push the shutter button; but to me, the photos were worth it.

This is an example of how cloning can be used to not only duplicate images, but also for deletion. After cloning and then changing the photo’s original look by editing, you can notice that the fountain that has been covered over by ice has disappeared in the first image.

When using the cloning tool for newaphotos it is important keep photo ethics in mind. Remember that it is unethical to use heavy photo manipulation in most circumstances and when doing so, it must be outlined that you have digitally altered the photo in a way in which it does not represent the actual image. A code of ethics to be followed is explained in the Journalism Education Association photo manipulation statement.

To see more examples of cloning from photos I have taken, take a look at my gallery!

It’s All in the Family; a Look at My Family Portraits

21 10 2010

You do not have to read the About Me section in my blog to know that my family is a passion in my life. I absolutely love my family and could not have been blessed with a better one. With my mom’s side of the family living in Missouri and my dad’s side living in Ohio, residing in South Carolina makes my family the odd family out. Fortunately, I am still blessed to spend as much time as I do with my family. Each year is filled with fun vacations to Captiva Island, Fla., Lake George, N.Y., and Christmas either spent in St. Louis or Cleveland.

I love seeing my family several times a year, and being the oldest cousin on my mom’s side and close to the oldest on my dad’s side really helps me cherish my younger cousins. Granted, they can be annoying at times (like when they scream into the fan at 8 in the morning while I am sleeping), but having these younger cousins are truly a blessing.

The two pictures that have been shown in this post thus far are siblings Ella and Will, my first cousins (and also the fan screamers). As I walked to the shower the morning I took these pictures, I saw these two siblings sitting in a windowsill exchanging their silly bandz. I got distracted and decided to join in the fun; after getting a bright pink hippopotamus and a neon orange duck rubber band, we decided to take it to the playground.

We walked out the swinging side kitchen swinging door and ran toward the swings. I pushed Ella while Will played with his bottle cap collection. To see an image of this, take a look at the pictures in my gallery. After several songs and an hour of chasing, it was time to call it quits and head in for lunch.

These next few pictures in this post were also taken at beautiful Lake George on the lawn of  my great great great (I believe) grandfather William K. Bixby‘s Estate. The image on the left is one of my more distant cousins, Erik, and the image below is my first cousin Annie.

I spend my summers here in Lake George across the street from W.K. Bixby’s Estate (our family calls it the Big House) in an old but very special house that is known around the small town of Bolton Landing as “Nearby.”

Every year Annie and I room together, and one day at the beach (the lake) we decided to make a few flower necklaces and headbands, like we used to do when we were little. Here below, is an image I took and edited of Annie with the headband I made her.

Below is a self portrait I took and later editied. This picture was taken last year on the way to school. Windows down, it was still morning, but the weather was fantastic and it was a great day.

Some quick tips to remember when shooting portraits:

Lighting is important. Remember, no harsh shadows or bright direct sunlight.

Turn off the flash. If you don’t have a good lighting then you should not be taking the picture here at all. A flash often distorts the face, so move around for better lighting.

Remember your two-thirds rule. Try not to center the subjects face, rather, apply the two-thirds rule here and have the focus of your subject be off centered and generally up and slightly to the corner.

Maintain proper shooting distance. You want to get close enough to see your subject clearly, but remember not to get too close and distort your subject’s facial features.

Be cautious of your background. Please, no distracting backgrounds; remember the focus of the portrait is the subject itself. Also, avoid having things pop out of the subject’s head or body.

To look at more portraits of my family, check out the other pictures in my gallery!

Don’t drive through life without stopping to look out the window

14 10 2010

Have you ever seen the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off? Well if not, I recommend you rent it and watch it this weekend. The movie depicts a high school student Ferris Bueller, who has mastered the art of skipping school, and the adventures he has while avoiding being caught by his principal. One of my favorite quotes from this movie is when Ferris says, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

The pictures in this blog post all have a common theme. They were all taken through car windows. When riding in a car we are always doing one of two things; we are either on our way somewhere or on our way back from there. Sometimes when we ride, we have our mind focused on only our destination. But I  contend that life is not about our destinations, but rather the journey along the way.

I encourage you take a look around next time you ride; there is so much to see out our car windows. Enjoy the scenery. Follow Ferris’s advice and look around.

The picture below on the left was taken on a trip with my family and my best friend Lisa, to Charleston, S.C. I played competitive soccer, both club and varsity, for years, so soccer is a passion of mine. On this particular trip we went to go see the professional team The Charleston Battery play! One of the things Charleston is known for is the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge ; and as I was sitting in the backseat of the car I snapped a quick photo as we drove under it.

The picture on the bottom right holds special significance. I took this picture Aug. 15, 2010. I remember this date because on this day I left South Carolina to come and move to Nashville, Tenn., and begin my first year here at Lipscomb University.

Next time you are driving or riding in the car, remember to take a second look at the things you normally would not give a glance at and find joy in the small things. Remember the wise words of Ferris Bueller: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Oh, and while you are taking the pictures of these things that catch your eye through your car window, please do yourself a favor and turn the flash off your camera.

To look at more pictures from this post, check out my gallery!


On the road to a David Crowder Concert


Chihuly at Cheekwood

7 10 2010

Art runs in my family. My Mom was an art major and went to Kansas City Art Institute with her brother, my Uncle Bixby. On my Dad’s side of the family I am connected to another artist. My Aunt Joanie, Joan Zeller, also majored in art and among the mediums of art she creates one of the coolest, in my opinion, is glass blowing. So naturally, art is a fascination of mine and when I came to Nashville and heard about the Chihuly exhibit it instantly became an item on my to-do list.

The Chihuly exibit at Cheekwood features blown glass designed and created by Dave Chihuly, but there is a twist. The exhibit at Cheekwood features Chihuly’s pieces outdoors and lit up at night. I enjoyed viewing his work at night as I walked around a path (and cutting through the grass several times) in some of the best night weather that comes around in October.

Some of the blown glass art pieces were displayed in a shallow pool. While I was looking at these pieces, the glass reflected in the water and created a double image of the glass. These are called reflecting pools and they are a theme throughout the exhibit.

I loved the exhibit above because of the interesting subject matter. All of these colorful blown glass pieces full of warm colors, beautiful reds, oranges, pinks and yellows were construed and placed in this boat in the pond. To me, the glass made it appear as if this small boat was exploding on the water.

As I was walking among the lit exhibits, the pictures were somewhat hard to capture clearly. A tripod definitely would have helped my images come out more clearly since the low-lit exhibits are easy to capture blurred unless taken with very still hands. But for a casual evening out, my point-and-shoot did the job once again. If you are in Nashville in the near future definitely make a stop to see the Chihuly at night at Cheekwood. However, hurry because the exhibit is only in town until the end of October! If you are interested in seeing more of my pictures of the Chihuly exhibit at night, check out my gallery!