2020 Family Vacation
Last week the family met at Stillwaters Resort on Table Rock Lake, near Branson, Missouri for a vacation. Since the grandkids are now young adults with one married and two in college, schedules are getting harder to arrange so quality family time is cherished. We’ve been coming to this resort for over ten years and everyone loves it.
We almost always take one morning and rent a pontoon boat to go tubing. We also rent a couple of jet skis on a different day for those who are more adventurous. I am long past the age that a jet ski sounds like a good idea. Okay back to the pontoon boat and tube. I have always been the designated driver and my daughter becomes the family photographer for this event. Here are a few images from this year.
Our son-in-law and grandson prior to the start of their first tubing adventure of the day.
And this image would be just prior to the end of their first tubing adventure of the day. The family that tubes together stays together…kind of.
The youngest granddaughter and grandson. The sibling rivalry is in who can stay on the tube the longest.
The oldest granddaughter and her husband just prior to the start of their ride.
Oh, the squirrel in the first image was at the resort too. I named him Rocky and found him to be very fond of the Mountain Trail Mix from Sam’s Club.
Monday’s Music Moves Me
The theme this week at 4M is Island songs. My first reaction was, “Say whaaaat?” After a little research I decided to have a little fun with this theme and post a couple of songs that you may have never heard. First up is a tune from Harry Chapin. His biggest hit was “Cat’s in the Cradle”. Harry was a master story teller with a great sense of humor and we lost him way too soon. When you think of Islands in the summer, generally your thoughts turn tropics, pineapples, and bananas, so here is a song about 30,000 pounds of bananas.
How many of you remember the 1986 Tom Hanks movie, Castaway? Tom played a Fed-X pilot who’s plane crashed in the ocean and he spent three years marooned on an island. His co-star was a volleyball named Wilson. Well the Zac Brown Band has recorded a song titled Castaway that has nothing to do with the movie, but I like the sound of this tune.
Another Island themed tune from ZBB is Island Song. Enjoy.
Alan Jackson tells us that the mood on any island vacation should be Laid Back and Low Key.
Okay, lets wrap this set up with a couple of songs from someone who spends a great deal of time living on an island. Kenny Chesney tells us about Life on a Rock and that the dress code on the islands is No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems. Have a blessed week.
Siblings on Vacation
Trying to Find The New Normal
The past three weeks our local Saturday Farmer’s Market has returned to the town square. Of course masks and social distancing are required, but it is an attempt to give some sense of a return to normal in Northwest Arkansas.
There are fewer vendors and the crowds are down from preCOVID-19 but good products still abound. One can find organically grown vegetables, meat, and eggs from the variety of vendors. Several crafters are returning and even a couple of street musicians have an appearance.
There’s nothing quite like a few brightly colored, fresh cut flowers to brighten your weekend. The first hour of the morning is supposed to be reserved for senior citizens, but the crowd isn’t large enough to cause much concern. I picked up some farm fresh tomatoes, snapped a few photos and then headed home since the temperature was supposed to soar into the mid-90’s.
Monday’s Music Moves Me
We have arrived at the final Monday in July with no end is sight to sheltering in place, masks, social distancing, closed theaters, no concerts, many pools and water parks closed or very limited activities allowed. So what are we to do with this year that has brought a whole new meaning to “Dog Days of Summer”? How about a few songs that remind us of the good ‘ol days and break these Summertime Blues.
Fun With Filters
A lot of people I know enjoy taking photos but they dislike the post processing. I actually enjoy both. I am by no means an expert in either phase of photography and there are a million things that I still need to learn about capturing and editing images. From time to time I like to take an image and just mess with it by adding filters. My photo editing programs of choice are PhotoShop Elements 2020 and On1 RAW. PhotoShop Elements does more than I am capable of doing and is less expensive than the subscription service to full blown PhotoShop. On1 RAW is a series of pre-sets and filters one can use to create unique effects without an in depth knowledge of photo editing terms like layering, masks, etc. Recently I took a walk around our local town and photographed some murals. There is a small restaurant/coffee shop that caught my eye, so let’s have some fun with filters.
This image is SOTC (Straight Out of The Camera). The mural is whimsical and I asked myself, “What happens if you close to that plant and shoot through the foliage?” It kind of looks like you are sneaking up on the cat.
After a few enhancements to clarity, texture, and adding a vignette, here is how a focused section of the mural. The image has been cropped to 8×10 proportions, the colors have been enhance slightly and the exposure has been edited in PhotoShop Elements (PSE). The texture has been enhanced with On1 RAW. Now let’s get funky.
Okay, now I have added a dark vignette and a “Cold Fusion” lens flare pre-set from On1 RAW. The yellow flare over the cat almost looks like an idea has popped into his head. The whole process took about 15 minutes and now I get to share it with you and my FaceBook friends. This is just one of the ways I entertain myself during these shelter-in-place COVID-19 days.
Monday’s Music Moves Me
Last week I got ahead of myself and posted songs fit for this week’s theme. The theme at 4M this week is songs that are about the moon or have the moon in the title. If you want to know what my original choices were, just scroll down and listen to my choices. I think I will freestyle this week, with one exception. My parents were members of The Greatest Generation and their favorite music came from the Big Band era. My mother’s favorite big band was the Glen Miller Orchestra because Glen Miller played the clarinet and that was the instrument my mother played in her high school band.
Now I’m going to switch gears and choose music from a different theme. I graduated from high school in 1965 and looking back it was an awesome year for music. The Stones released “Satisfaction”, the Beatles charted “Help”, the Righteous Brothers had their best year with “Unchained Melody” and “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling”. Even the Billboard 100th ranked song for the year was Marvin Gay and “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You). So, let’s start there and listen to just how great 1965 was for music.
1965 was a very good year. Have a blessed week.
A couple of weeks ago I posted an image of a floral arrangement that my wife created for a wedding reception. That arrangement was all artifical flowers. The arrangement above was created last week for a bridal shower and it is all natural blooms & foliage. I think she does professional level work.
Murals & Me
From time to time I have posted wall murals that have been painted on buildings in our area. Last year this mural appeared just off of the downtown square. I thought it was very cool and thought that it would be a fun thing to grab my camera and shoot a selfie. That never happened. It turned out that the mural was a temporary piece and early this year it was replaced.
Batman disappeared and a new image replaced the iconic comic strip theme. The new one is a bit more patriotic but is also an excellent work of art.
This mural immediately got me to thinking about the photo possibilities. With social distancing and shelter in place orders from all forms of government it is pretty easy to get a clean image without waiting for people to pass by and out of the frame. I was thinking that on a Saturday or Sunday morning the lighting would be good and there would literally be no one stirring. That seemed like a great time for a selfie! Well, Saturday at 6:00 a.m. I set up my camera, tripod, and remote shutter release.
You’re probably going to see some form of this image around Veterans Day, but I still miss Batman.
Monday’s Music Moves Me
Well, we have certainly entered the dog days of summer here in NW Arkansas. This week the temperature will probably reach triple digits and the heat index will approach 110. The humidity will be high and no one will feel like doing anything. Hot summer nights might be spent gazing at the moon…which happens to be the theme for this week at 4M.
One of my all-time favorite bands was Creedence Clearwater Revival, so it should come as no surprise that Bad Moon Rising would be my first offering.
Of course, as a child of the sixties, no moon theme would be complete without Cat Stevens and Moonshadow.
I have to admit that when the world embraced Beatlemania I drifted towards the Rolling Stones. I eventually came around to the Fab Four, but I always liked the harder edge of The Stones music.
So let’s close this set with the boys from Liverpool and Mr. Moonlight.
Well, it seems that I have had a “senior moment” and gotten ahead of myself by posting the theme for next week. So I guess that means I’ll be on the search for more Moonstruck Music this week. Stay safe, stay healthy, and have a blessed week.
Fireworks on the 4th
No Expense Spared
Several weeks ago I shared a few photos of collectable miniature pick-up trucks and explained how I captured those images. Well here is another look and my state-of-the-art small venue photography studio. No high-end studio lighting to be found here. Those two lights are rechargeable LED work lights from Walmart. and they are far and away the most expensive things in the studio, except for my camera & lens. Of course they can be used for any project around the house. The lights have a 2 hour run time per charge, but it takes several hours to completely recharge them and they will not work while charging. The upside is the elimination of extension cords on the floor for me to trip over. Okay, the chair is a left over shower chair from my surgery. You’ll have to scroll back to “Happy Socks” parts I, II, & III to get the full story. It allows me to get down to the level of subject and saves a of stooping and bending. Thankfully my camera also has a flip screen that helps as well, I just haven’t gotten accustomed to using it yet. The base and background are 2’x2′ pieces of 1/8″ plywood that I painted. I painted the opposite sides different colors for more variety. The possibilities are endless. I’ll go into more detail in another post one day soon. So what did the coffee cup finally look like?
Here is an image of a souvenir cup from the 1986 Tulsa State Fair that I found at a local flea market. I grew up in Tulsa and the fair was always a big deal. The pottery is Frankhoma. Frankhoma pottery was made near Tulsa and was very popular when I was a youngster. Note that the background has changed.
The final image is a pitcher. While Frankhoma pottery was considered by many to be country-western in theme, there are elegant little details that scream art deco and mid-century modern. Look at the spout on this pitcher. It is just beautiful. Oh look…different base, different background. How does he do it?
Monday’s Music Moves Me
I have to admit, the first time I read the theme for 4M this week I was at a bit of a loss. We are supposed to pick songs that are played at sporting events. I mean, we play the National Anthem at every sporting event, but then what. Well if you are a college alumni, chances are you attended football, basketball, or some other sport that had all or part of the band in attendance. So, let’s start there.
Prior the start of home football games at major universities like USC, Penn State, Alabama, Texas and my alma mater, University of Oklahoma, the marching band puts on a pre-game show that is often more fun and certainly more enthusiastic than the half time presentation. So I chose only one video today, but you will find the National Anthem, the State song, and the school fight song all in one place. At the end of the video you will be ready to play some football, or at least root your favorite team to victory. Without further delay, I present the Pride of Oklahoma…The University of Oklahoma marching band. This is gonna be fun.