The Barefoot Photographer®

a photography blog

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Mother's Day Gift Ideas

Mother's Day is coming soon.  Time to dust off those thinking caps!  What to get mom (or what should I hint for???) 


If the kids are little – it is always fun if they make something.  They can make a "photo bouquet" by cutting flower shapes from construction paper and pasting a face (theirs usually) in the center.  Print photos of the kids and have them cut face circles (or use one of those handy dandy punchs from the scrapbooking section) to use as the center of the flowers.  Then securely tape a pipe cleaner to the back.  They can be placed in a vase or just give as a hand held bouquet! has some interesting photo products.  I particularly like the Four-Panel Photo Pop (very Andy Warhol) and the Pop Portrait.  The Four Panel is just four color combos of the same portrait.  The Pop Portrait is the digital version of silk screening and oil portrait.  They lift the portrait from any photo.  I admit – most of the stuff on this sight you could do yourself on the computer with a photo editing program – but some of it would take a LONG time to do and then you would still have to get it printed.  Since we are so close to Mot her's Day – double check with customer service that you will receive in it time – this may cost extra. 


I have seen some really cool photo totes – the tote bag has one large photo on the side – maybe another on the other side or it is just black.  I keep thinking I need to get one of these – but I haven't yet.  Reasons why?  I have a boatload of tote bags and I can't pick just one or two photos! 


Remember with these products, and any others, that incorporate your photos into them – the lead time may not work for this Mother's Day.  Sometimes I think it may take two weeks to get the item.  If you really like it – remember it for birthday or the next gift giving occasion.  But check with respective customer services – they may do extra-speedy service for Mother's Day.


Now, if mom is like me and into taking the photos – what kind of gear to get her? 


If Mom is into printing her own at home – check out a great sample pack of papers.  I order my inks from  They are super fast and they stock great paper sample packs. 


One of the coolest little gadgets I bought recently is the Hoodman Right-Angle Viewer.  This is great for when you have your camera low on the tripod.  It allows you to look into the top of the viewer rather than having to get down to look through the camera lens.  If mom is into macro – think about getting one (or a set) of the close up diopters.  I have a +4 that I use on my Tamron lens and the Lensbaby macro set includes a +4 and +10 these can be stacked.  Check out the Hoodman viewers and the close-up diopters at B&H Photo online (


Crumpler makes some cute (yes cute) photo bags – check out the Crumpler 5 Million Dollar Home Photo Bag at Amazon – it comes in many colors.  I don't have one of these – yet!


You know – I have often thought my camera strap was not very attractive.  There are so many really pretty ones available on Etsy!  Go to and search "camera strap."   Etsy is a great place to browse around if you have a few hours to kill – it is a place for craft people to sell their handmade items.  If you just want to see anything camera related – leave out the word "strap."   Ok, thanks to writing this blog – I just ordered a very cu te camera strap from VMJess on Etsy!


Hey -- wouldn't the Crumpler bag be great with all of the other goodies inside?  Some of those photo flowers with faces would be extra cute sticking out of the side.  The camera strap could be coordinated with the color of the bag! 


OK -- get busy!  Print this blog out and leave it where someone will see it -- someone who is asking "Hey, what do you want for Mother's Day?"



Sunday, April 27, 2008

New Workshop Scheduled

June 7  Floral Photography Workshop -- Macro and Introduction to the Lensbaby  

Take a walk just outside my back door and discover the beauty of floral photography.  Spring is here, the flowers are coming.  Join me for a day filled with tips and techniques on capturing the true beauty of the garden.  Also, learn the interesting world of photography with the Lensbaby selective-focus lens.    Lensbabies™ are selective Focus SLR lenses that bring one area of your photo into sharp focus, with that "sweet spot" surrounded by gradually increasing blur. You can move the sweet spot to any part of your photo by bending the lens.  Your typical floral photos can be transformed into art for walls, cards, anything.  Email me to sign up. I will have Lensbaby lenses for demo on hand.  Part of the day will be instruction, p art hands-on use, and then we will put some photos up, via projecter, to discuss.  This class is at my home.  Email me as soon as possible if you are interested.  There is a limit for the class size.  The class will be held from 10 to 3 - the cost is $85 (this includes lunch).




Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Wildflowers by the Side of the Road

This week on our regular trek to Hampton I noticed many more wildflowers blooming than last week.  Along GA 85 I noticed some crimson clover (Trifolium incarnatum) blooms.  You can't miss these – they stick out among the green and any other blooms – they are a deep, deep red.  Sometimes – while driving by – you would almost think there was a wild strawberry plant (Fragaria virginiana) and the blooms are the berries. 


All along the drive I would spot masses of blue toadflax (Linaria canadensis).  There are two fields that I saw filled with this.  They both would make a great photo.  The time of day (harshness of the sun) when I passed by yesterday was not good.  I would like to return soon to take the photo later in the day.  There are old barns – one just weathered wood in one field – the other painted red in the other field, about a mile away.  The empty fields in front of both barns are a blue haze of toadflax blooms. 


Oxeye daisies (Leucanthemum vulgare) are blooming in a few spots.  I believe the peek time for them will come soon.  The transplants I put into my backyard are nearing bloom or just beginning to put up a stem.  I have quite a few in the backyard – they all came from one little clump that grew in the lawn.  It was constantly cut down when the grass was – and it always looked so healthy.  I finally dug it up and placed it in a flower bed.  That one little clump has scattered seeds all over the backyard.  Last year most were growing in the pea gravel pa thway.  So far, this year I see most where they belong.


The horrible thistle (Cirsium horridulum) is making a strong appearance this week.  No, I am not calling it 'horrible' – that is part of the name.  We you are out and about – driving by any cow pasture.  Look off through the field to see if you can spot a spiky, bristle-like plant with a purple crown.


There is some kind of very low, mass plant covered in lemon-yellow blooms.  The blooms appear to be the size of a pencil eraser.  I have yet to find this one in my field guide.  Another yet unidentified plant is that taller, feathery looking grass with the pinkish buds? Are they berries?  I am still looking on that one.  


The other yellow out there is the dandelions – still blooming and more this week than last.  So guess what?  I spent about 35 minutes yesterday picking them in the huge yard of a church.  I felt assured that no weed killer had been sprayed on them.  They, and all the other weeds, looked way too healthy and prolific!   I did not get a whole quart – but I got pretty close to it.  I already had lemons at home – and plenty of sugar.  So yesterday afternoon I cooked up a batch of dandelion wine.  It is sitting in my pantry right now – and it smells good!  I also added a sliced navel orange to mine.


What else did I see?  Lots and lots of blackberries in bloom!  The blackberries in my backyard are not blooming – yet.  But out where there is sun all day long – the blooms are at peek.


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Dandelion Wine

Looking around these days at all the dandelions I see blooming in yards and fields makes me think of one thing:


Granddaddy Sam's Dandelion Wine


1 quart dandelion blooms packed down

3 lb. sugar

3 lemons, sliced


1 gallon water

1 pkg. yeast




Put blooms, sugar, lemons, and water in pot and bring to a boil.  Boil for 10 to 20 minutes.  Let cool to lukewarm and add yeast.  Let set for 10 days.  Strain and bottle liquid.  Do not cork too tightly.


It also makes me think that if I knew nothing had been sprayed on that field – I would have to pick a quart or two of those sunny, little blooms and make a batch of wine.  When I was little my grandmother would make this.  Granddaddy Sam was her father and she gave me this recipe.  Years ago I compiled a family cookbook as a Christmas gift to relatives.  It was very popular and in another few years, I compiled another.  At present I am working on combining the two and self-publishing this volume.  I am going through the many old photos to see what would be good to add in some of the empty spaces on pages.< SPAN style="mso-spacerun: yes">  I hope it works out.  The copies I have of these books have been well used. 


I remember my grandma washing and rinsing the blooms -- all so pretty and bright yellow.  She would stand at the stove boiling them with the sugar and lemons.  The kitchen would smell so good.  My cousins and I would sneak into the basement at grandma's house to find the pot she had covered loosely with a lid and tea towel.  We would lift the towel and the lid and sniff it.  A sweet, citrus, yeasty odor would greet our noses.  We had to taste it – it was wine and forbidden for children to sample.  We would find a small empty jelly jar on a shelf and dip into the liquid, watching out for the slices of lemon floating on top.  We wo uld all take a taste and make a face with eyes so large.  The consensus among the group was that it was good and we could not wait to be old enough to have a nice glass when it was "ready."


I don't think I ever had a glass since I have been old enough.   I wonder if it would taste as good as I remember those stolen sips in grandma's basement?  I think I read somewhere that dandelions are good for you, right?


Saturday, April 12, 2008

Panola Mountain State Conservation Park

Last Wednesday, I (along with my daughter and a photo club friend) visited Panola Mountain State Park. Since we have no current plans for photo club field shoots, I have been thinking about what is next, what is not too far away, and what is worthy of a visit.

Panola Mountain is a nice place. It is located on State Route 155, very close to (next to, in fact) Little Mountain Golf Course. A long time ago, when I played golf, my husband and I would play the Little Mountain course occasionally. We lived close to it. The address for Panola Mountain is Stockbridge, but it is close to the Rockdale County line, Arabia Mountain State Park, and Lithonia.
The park is pretty to drive into. You wind along a short drive to the parking area near the visitor's center. Inside there is the usual gift shop area. (My daughter was pleased to see this – and yes, a stuffed animal of some sort had to come home with her.) But also inside is a nice display of rocks and minerals found in the area along with stuffed birds and small mammals, and a nice, little hands-on area for the younger kids. Oh, and a "live" section featuring a snake too.
There is also a stuffed golden eagle (near a display of owls). On this golden eagle is also a permit to have it.&nbs p; It is against the law to possess certain types of wildlife "souvenirs." It seems that this eagle was killed – hit by a vehicle while it was eating roadkill. To be able to see one – even if it is not alive – so close – it is amazing. The bird is huge!
Outside of the nature center there appears to be a small area with a manmade pond and butterfly garden. This time of year the only things to notice there were the beautiful azalea blooms and a turtle poking its head from the pond. You have a choice of trails – self guided. One is ¾ of a mile (the yellow trail) and takes you around the mountain trail and the other is 1 ¼ mile (the orange trail) – this is called the "watershed trail." Last Wednesday, we took the mountain trail. To make sure you stay on your trail, you have to watch for the color swatches on trees or the trail itself.
The dogwoods were very pretty and the other trees were starting to get their leaves. There were many of a certain small tree or shrub. This tree had a very interesting cluster of red, tubular blooms on the top of a spread of leaves. I have looked this plant up in my field guide. It is a Red Buckeye (Aesculus pavia). There were a small group of yellow daisies blooming on the granite outcrop. They were near one of the overlooks. I could see a couple different butterflies flying around them – one I spotted was a hummingbird moth.
There were many butterflies in the forest area. This time of year the butterflies are all "new" – so bright in color and no tears or missing parts of wings. We saw several Tiger Swallowtails, a couple Pipevine Swallowtails and maybe one (or two) Zebra Swallowtails fly very near us and right over our heads as we hiked the trail. The nature center has a marvelous display of butterflies and insects (dead and on pins but still very interesting). Another interesting feature was the different types of moss found along the trail. Oh, and of course the rocks! From one of the overlooks – way off in the distance – you can see Stone Mountain.
A field guide is a handy tool for the nature photographer. Many times I will see something that is pretty but I have no clue what it is. If you are in a park, you can sometimes have a ranger help you out. Once I had a 'volunteer flower' (to some it would have been a weed) grow and bloom in my yard. I did not know what it was. I could not find it in my field guide. I emailed a photo to the Atlanta Botanical Gardens and they identified it for me. I have collected a variety of field guides. It starte d when my daughter was very into butterflies and bugs. We bought some guides to be able to identify the bugs she caught.
My favorite field guide (of all that we have) is the National Audubon Society Field Guide to the Southeastern States. This gives you a little bit (actually a lot) about a lot of things: trees, plants, flowers, fish, mammals, insects, marine invertebrates, birds, etc. It even gives you information on the weather, parks and preserves, and the night sky. We have other more specific field guides – one on just insects, or shells, or rocks and minerals, etc. I bought a nice field guide for wildflowers and use it often. What I look for in a field guide is good color photos of the objects. Sometimes that is the only thing you have – the picture or the object itself –to use to identify it.
Here is the link to Panola Mountain Park if you are interested in visiting: Here is a link to the listing of Audubon Society field guides, you can find them in most book stores or order from any online source. I order a lot from Barnes & Noble since I have one of their frequent buyer cards:

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Online Course, Dogs, and Caterpillars

I am taking an online photo course. I have always wondered about them --- are they really good? The price seems a bit high, but these are big names in photography.

The one that had been luring me was taught by Tony Sweet. I have three of his books, actually I think there are only three available at present. His website mentions another book coming out early next yea, I am sure I will get that one. Oh, and he has a DVD (or is it two?) available either now or very soon. And yes, I plan to buy the DVDs. Can you tell I think Tony Sweet is an a wesome photographer? He is doing what I would love to be doing, the whole nature photographer, workshop, book, web thing.

This week was the beginning of the course. I was very anxious to receive the first lesson link in my email. What a bummer that since I got the email and the assignment the weather here has been less that wonderful photographically. I mean, really, I know we need the rain... but. Yesterday early afternoon was not so bad. It was cloudy, which is fine, really it is much better than blazing, super bright sun.

There are a couple wild cherry trees at the edge of the woods in the back yard that I have been keeping an eye on. Most of the blooms are yet to come, but a few have popped open. That was going to be my main target. I took quite a few photos of the blooms and buds, they are OK, nothing about these photos really made me think --- WOW. So I kept looking around.

At this point in the blog, I feel compelled to ask for advice from anyone reading. There is a couple in my neighborhood that frequently walks their (huge) dog elsewhere for his "doggy business." Down in the back of my yard – it is not 'developed' – meaning it is left as it was – wooded. Our house is a corner lot -- so the wooded, natural area is near the street. I have signs up out there proclaiming it is a certified natural habitat from the National Wildlife Federation. Let's say about a golf club length from one of these signs – I find other "signs." These other signs tell me that the couple is up to their old tricks – an d picking up is not part of their bag of tricks. In fact, they never bring a bag along – know what I mean. All of this just happens to be right about where I want to stand and place my tripod to photograph one of the cherry trees. Also, in a few weeks – a native rose will be blooming in nearly the same spot. I want to be able to place my tripod there without having to look out for – well you know. My idea is to find one of those little signs showing a dog in action with the red circle and the line through it – and write their name on the sign with a big Sharpie! Well – nothing quite so graphic – but I think I am going to buy a "Don't walk dogs here" sign. (And I am so tempted to write their last name on it.) OK – enough about that – but any suggestions are very welcome… And believe me, from past experience, talking to them is not an option.

After I took a few photos of the cherry blossoms, I spotted some tent caterpillars on a tree branch. I took a few photos of them – regular and macro – all with my Lensbaby. The macro shot of the caterpillars is very nice (if I say so myself). The sharpness is barely there – but you can see the little hairs of the caterpillars. There is one dark thing (piece of bark?) that is in the middle of the shot – I think I need to remove that with Elements. These photos I really liked – better than the cherry blossoms. Then I was walking near the pine branches at the edge of the woods. I took pho tos of the pine branch tips. I really liked these too. So since I needed four photos two from each subject for this assignment – I chose the caterpillars and the pine branches. Maybe I will use the cherry blossoms for the assignment next week.

Blog Top Sites

Arts Blogs