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photography, nature, autumn, mountains, upstate New York, river, trees

Don’t let shopping for Christmas take up all of your time.

December 11th, 2022



photography, nature, autumn, mountains, upstate New York, river, trees

How to clean a lens properly.

December 4th, 2022

Unless something has changed with the “latest and greatest” design, all camera lenses have a chemical coating to them. The chemical coating reduces or eliminates problems of reflected light that causes flare, reduced contrast, and ghosting of images in the photo. Now, I’m not going to get into all the different types of chemical coats there are and the percentage of light each reflects. I’m just going to warn you NOT TO DESTROY the coating by cleaning it improperly. Here are some dos and don’ts:


1.)Don’t use anything that isn’t specifically made to clean a lens like your shirt, coat, etc., as these items may contain dirt or have a rough surface. Do use a lens cloth or lens paper and fluid. When using lens fluid, don’t apply it directly to the lens but apply it to the lens paper first. You can also use a camel hair brush to clean dust off the surface.

2.)Make use of a mild polarizer. This won’t affect your photo that much and will protect the end of your lens.

3.)When not in use, put it away. Use your lens cap, and put it in a protective case or bag.

4.)Try not to clean your lens too much. I’m not sure how many times this is, but cleaning will remove some of the chemical coating. That’s why it’s good to use a mild polarizer, so if you ruin that, it’s cheaper to buy a new polarizer instead of a new lens.

5.)Never clean the sensor or mirrors inside your camera but get a professional to do it. (I’ve heard it’s not even a good idea to use the self cleaning function on the camera if you have one.)

6.)Handle your camera with clean hands as much as possible. This will reduce certain things from getting into your lens or camera, like sand. I have a little sand in one of my lenses since I can hear a faint grinding noise it makes. Too much fun at Port A for me!

photography, nature, autumn, mountains, upstate New York, river, trees

What has arrived in the gallery today?

November 30th, 2022

Several years ago, my youngest cousin, David, volunteered his time on the newly reconstructed Adirondack Railroad as either a conductor or an engineer. He enjoyed trains and even had model trains in the basement of his childhood home in Clinton, NY. 

David has passed away since, and although I did not have time to ride the train while he was there, I was able to a few years after he passed. “Adirondack Fall” was one of the shots I took from the train ride during a rainy fall day. (Yes, it can be hard to get a good shot from a moving train, but I did get some shots of a buck when the train stopped!). I used the “oil paint” feature in Photoshop to make it look like a painting. I was also hoping that it would be a little bit more marketable to purchasers who like paintings over photography. I even had the first one printed on metal with a raised texture to try to mimic brush strokes, and I plan on taking more time to explore Photoshop features in the near future.

photography, nature, horses, flowers, farm, country, pasture, scripture, Christ

Which lens should I use? (Part 2)

November 23rd, 2022

Now let me go into details about the different kinds of lenses that I was talking about in my November 6th blog:

Wide angle lenses: Some say that they are 50 mm or less, and others say they are 35 mm or less. I won’t argue with this because I’m not a lens manufacturer. These lenses are good for squishing a lot of visual info into one photo and can be used for real-estate, landscapes, and travel photography. Even if it’s great for getting more of the whole landscape that you love in the photo, you still can run into some distortion problems. Straight lines may appear to bend, and you may see darkness in the corners of your photos called “vignetting.” A good example of this kind of lens is called a “fish eye” lens, which is great for photographing stars in the night sky.

Normal/Standard lenses: There is no specific size for this lens, but 50 mm is the most common size, usually in the range of 40 mm - 55 mm. (You can technically define it as a lens whose focal length roughly match the film or image sensor, and it also use to be the one manufactures sold with the camera.) These lenses produce photos similar to what our eyes can comfortably view. This gives photos a more natural looking perspective instead of producing unnaturally zoomed-in or zoomed-out image like the other two types of lenses. They are good general purpose lenses that can be used from landscapes to portraits and low-light photography. However, they are not as common as they used to be since camera manufacturers are including cheap zoom lenses with cameras now.

Telephoto lenses: Any lens greater than 55 mm. These lenses are stationary so the photographer has to move the camera to get a closer picture. They are used for specific focal points and angle shots. They are also an expensive lens, so I really have never owned one in my life.

Zoom lenses: Allow you to get up close to and far away from your subject without moving the camera. They are cheaper and make more sense to carry around than the telephotos. You can also get great up close photos of wildlife and details of tall buildings, so now you can safely take African elephant photos without getting mauled! This is my favorite kind of lens because I love nature photography.

If you are interested in learning more about these lenses, Jim Landers has a great video about them here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bk4zikS-hlg

photography, nature, horses, flowers, farm, country, pasture, scripture, Christ

What are you thankful for?

November 13th, 2022

It’s Thanksgiving time again, so what do people usually think about? Maybe lots of turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie. Also, we might think about being able to sit down with the family to relax and visit, then later on taking a nap while enjoying the day off. For this blog, I would like to change the subject and reflect on what we are thankful for in our lives.

 Of all the bad news and complaining that I hear in today’s world, I would like to challenge you to take a week or more to find something to be thankful for the moment you complain. Of course, you can be thankful for the food and a day off, but one of the most important things that I’m thankful for is the Lord. Hebrews 13:15 says, “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.” I can honestly say that the closer I am to the Lord the more He helps me stop complaining, while being thankful for what I have. I encourage you to seek the Lord and His direction so that you can truly be thankful for everything that He has given us.

photography, nature, horses, flowers, farm, country, pasture, scripture, Christ

What lens should I use? (Part 1)

November 6th, 2022

Among the dozens and dozens of cameras made today are many different lenses. The difference between lens types is focal length, which is the length between the focal plane (the film or digital image sensor) and the optical center of the lens (the point in your lens where the light converges). Focal length is measured in millimeters, which you can read on your lens.

 Focal length can be broken into the following 3 broad categories for lenses, but this doesn’t include every type of lens:

1.)Wide Angle: less then 50mm

2,)Normal/Standard: around 50mm

3.)Telephoto: greater than 50mm

Some of you may be thinking now, “Oh, great Margaret, are we going to get a college lecture here! I think you lost me at defining focal length!” Don’t worry you won’t be quizzed at the end of this. I even had to review this info before I wrote my post. Which lens you choose depends on what you want to photograph. You may want to ask yourself questions like, “Am I a beginner in photography? Do I want to take photos of my family or wild animals? How about the details of a flower?” These are all good questions so you know what to take with you on a hike or before you actually buy a lens. In my next blog I will go into depth about types of lenses and will share a good link if you want to learn more about lenses.

photography, nature, horses, flowers, farm, country, pasture, scripture, Christ

What new photo is in the gallery today?

October 30th, 2022

 “Resurrection in Bluebonnets” was taken at the same Lutheran Church as my photo of “Majesty.” This church is the Resurrection Lutheran Church in Fredericksburg, Texas, and maybe I should send them a few photos.

In 2020 when our church and many other places were closed to Covid, we had extra time to drive around on Sunday to get some great wildflower photos, and 2020 seemed to be a really good year for wildflowers, another blessing from God during this time! I had to wait for cars to stop passing by while I was taking this photo. I also experimented with focus and tried focusing on the bluebonnets while letting the “Resurrection” sign be out of focus. Then, I tried letting the bluebonnets go out of focus while I kept the sign in focus. Finally, I settled on this image with both subjects in focus. I’m thinking about changing the sky but may keep it overcast for the emotional mood of the picture. Christ rose from the dead, so in a sense, the flowers are rising up from seeds after the original flowers died after dispersing them.

photography, nature, horses, flowers, farm, country, pasture, scripture, Christ

The Annual Photo SA tournament back in person.

October 23rd, 2022

 Last Sunday was the 10th Annual Photo Tournament for PhotoSA, my photography group. We met in person at the Dominion Country Club here in San Antonio. The founder of the group, Jim Landers, calls it an instant gratification tournament. This means you take the photos that morning at the country club and then enter them into categories, which has created a lot of stress for me over the years. However, this year I was able to relax and enjoy it more. 

There were 15 categories that I could enter photos into under the following categories: Useful, Architecture, Between the Lines, Changing Seasons, Cozy, Dreamy, Formal, Modern Marvels, Out of Place, Over There, Patterns in Nature, Rough, Something Shiny, The Path Less Traveled, and Time After Time. My strategy was to try to enter something in every category, which means that I had 15 shots at winning something. There was a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place award for every category, which then concludes with a Grand Prize winner and a Runner Up based on all the winners in the 1st and 2nd place winners. I have usually managed to win something every year in at least one of the categories. Unfortunately, the only thing I won this year was…a mug! It was my door prize for the tournament. However, I had more time to get some really great photos I can use later.

photography, nature, horses, flowers, farm, country, pasture, scripture, Christ

Tricks that photographers use to make food look attractive in a photograph.

Also, I'm in a new show at the NBAL check my home page for details.

October 16th, 2022

 While I’m not an expert in food photography, I did have an assignment in art school dealing with it. I was surprised to find out what made the food look appetizing in an ad was not just the food itself. There were many gimmicks used to make it look even more appealing, and here are just a few:

1.) Ice cubes that don’t cool your drink. After working around studio lighting for a while, I found out how hot it gets in there. Since ice cubes melt, realistic looking ice cubes are made for drinks. That way a photographer can spend many hours in the studio without having to replace the ice cubes.

2.) Don’t eat the ice cream either! Since ice cream will melt under hot lights, they may use shortening or a good looking plastic scoop of ice cream.

3.) You may not be able to slurp the soup. In order to bring the chunky/meatier pieces of the soup to the top of the bowl, the photographer may add marbles or other objects to the bowl that will sink and push the solids to the top.


photography, nature, horses, flowers, farm, country, pasture, scripture, Christ

It’s that time again when politicians start kissin’ babies and shakin’ hands. (Things to think about before pulling that lever Part 2)

October 9th, 2022

 5.) Do your research: look at the candidate’s website to find out who supports or endorses them. What things have they done in the past if they were in office? Are they involved in any real scandals and why? (Be careful, news outlets have a way of making an accident into a crime.) Try to find reliable sources that really know what happened, what the law actually says, court documents, and the full tape recording of what someone says, not just sound bites.

6.) Look for organizations and non-profits that you agree with to help you. The i-Voter guide and the ACLJ are some of my sources. They research deep down into the candidates and the issues to help me decide by providing info on many candidates. The ACLJ is good at looking into court documents of what actually happened and not just rumors.

7.) Pay careful attention to laws or programs that candidates try to promote, but they end up exempting themselves from it. If it’s such a great program, then why don’t they live under their own laws?!?

8.) Don’t be a one issue voter. There are many, many issues that will affect you and the country in the future.

9.) Read what’s printed on the ballot before you go in. Sometimes proposals are worded in confusing ways to get you to vote in a certain way. Also, try to research both sides of an issue. Both sides may bring up important points as to what’s actually going on.

photography, nature, horses, flowers, farm, country, pasture, scripture, Christ

It’s that time again when politicians start kissin’ babies and shakin’ hands. (Things to think about before pulling that lever Part 1)


October 2nd, 2022

 It’s that time of the year again when senators and mayors start acting very angelic to earn your vote. The question comes down to, after the smiles and empty promises, who should I choose? I won’t tell you who to vote for because God didn’t spell it out in the Bible, but I want you to make an educated decision. However, here are a few tips to think about before you go:

1.) Pray, pray, pray, and ask God to help you select who he wants in that office.

2.) Don’t vote based on emotion. It’s easy to get mad at a candidate if you hear a blurb on the news about something that a candidate makes your blood boil, but don’t fall for the bait. News outlets and political commercials are biased, often twisting the truth to influence your vote.

3.) Think about what your issues and values are before you vote. What are the things that you strongly believe in and support? What are major/minor issues that you believe in?

4.) Be aware of each political party’s beliefs and their platform. Parties will promote the canidate that supports their beliefs, even if they crank out ads that distract you from these beliefs. Often they may word their beliefs and actions in a generalized or deceptive way depending on where and who they meet.

photography, nature, horses, flowers, farm, country, pasture, scripture, Christ

Come one, come all to see what's new in my gallery!

September 25th, 2022

 Nectar row is another great photo from one of my Texas wildflower trips. I can’t remember where I took it, but this was a beautiful day in April. April in south Texas seems to be the last month before the temperatures really get uncomfortable for me, yet picture-making can’t stop due to high temperatures. (I like to bring a hat and sunglasses as well as suntan lotion, if needed.)

I always love these spring trips but can’t always go when I want to. I have to coordinate our work schedules, and then I have to try to find out where the wildflowers are. Just because there was a whole field of bluebonnets in one specific area last year, it doesn’t mean that it will be a good place to look this year. (If I had my way, I would quit my day job and just work with my art all day! While I’m day dreaming, I might as well imagine $1,000,000 arriving in my mail box today.) I really don’t know if this is a moth or butterfly, but it’s pretty! The purple flowers are called Prairie Verbena and are a great source of nectar for butterflies and bees.  

photography, nature, horses, flowers, farm, country, pasture, scripture, Christ

Sneak peek: what's in my camera bag.

September 18th, 2022

 A camera bag to a photographer is like a purse to a woman or a backpack to a student. It contains items that may be needed when a photographer is on the hunt for more photos. Here are a few things in my bag:

1.) Canon body with neck strap and lens cloth attached to the strap. I also used to have an attachment to my strap that included a place to put the lens cap. However, this never completely worked because my lens cap would fall off of it, so I just try to remember to put it in my pocket.

2.) 4 lenses: 2 (18-55mm one from my old camera), 55-250mm, and a 75-300mm.

3.) 2 batteries and their chargers, in case one runs out and I need to charge it!

4.) A lens hood, which I rarely use because I like to use my umbrella to block flare.

5.) A couple of close-up lenses.

6.) Very important polarizers: 1 Hoya NXT filter and 1 Promaster ND8X (.9) 3 stop filter (for those really sunny days!)

7.) A couple of empty SD cards in a carrying case to keep extra photos.

8.) Lens brush, paper, and cleaning solution.

9.) Basic camera manual in case I forget how to operate something on the camera I don’t use much.

Do you have a camera bag? If so, email me what you like to keep in it since I may want to learn from you.

photography, nature, horses, flowers, farm, country, pasture, scripture, Christ

Artist critique corner, Thomas Kinkade, painter of light.

September 11th, 2022

 Artists inspire many people with music, theater performances, and visual works of art. Everyone has their favorite artists that stick in their minds for years. I have many that stick in my memory and inspire or fascinate me, including Thomas Kinkade. His artwork was influenced by the Rocky Mountain and Hudson River Schools of painting as well as the French Impressionistic movement.

His painting eventually lead him to luminism which is a 19th century style of American landscape painting “concerned especially with the meticulous rendering of atmospheric light and the perceived effects of that light on depicted objects.” He wanted his artwork to inspire and uplift others instead of tear down God’s world and humanity. Some of his paintings may picture the snowy countryside with an old Victorian-style house and a horse pulling a sleigh filled with people. He loved to paint outdoors (hard to believe since natural light changes and mosquitos dwell there). He also hides many N’s in his painting because his wife’s name was Nancy, as well as other symbols. Sometimes if you look at the bottom right corner of some of his paintings, there will be a number that tells you how many of Nancy’s initial are in the painting. To me, his paintings are beautiful relaxing pieces combined with a hidden objects game, which makes me want to spend time looking for the hidden treasures. Sadly, all of his life did not reflect every blessing that God gave him. Even if he had a wonderful wife with four daughters, he could not stop drinking. Before his death, he ended up with a divorce and living with his girlfriend. I believe his death was related to his alcoholism, which is a good reminder for all of us to worship God and not artists. Thomas’ life could have come with this bumper sticker attached to it which would read, “Follow Christ. Don’t follow me because I get lost, too!”

photography, nature, horses, flowers, farm, country, pasture, scripture, Christ

Who's your inspiration?

September 4th, 2022

 Someone who inspires you can be defined as one who influences your mind or emotions to act on something. I don’t think I would have pursued photography if it wasn’t for my photography college professor, Laurie Smith, who inspired me.  Before I took a photography class, I didn’t realize that it could so fascinating.

 Photography seemed more of a passive medium that produced art from a machine. I really preferred to physically interact with art media such as paint, marker, ink, pastels, etc… However, when I was signing up for classes at SUNY Oswego, I didn’t have a variety of options to me being that I was new to the school. The students about to graduate had the first choice. My student advisor told me that a beginning class on photography had just opened up, so I thought, “Why not try something new?” Of course, trying something new is always scary at first, and I had to start with black and white photography. We had to learn how to use the manual setting on our cameras, not automatic, and develop our own film and prints in the dark room. (I was so nervous the first time developing a roll of film that I accidentally grabbed a brand new one! Guess what, no photos appeared!) I did finally find and develop my first roll of film to print. When I first put a print in the developing solution, that’s one thing that really hooked me. It was the “magic” of seeing an image appear on paper! For several semesters, Professor Smith was there to help me learn black and white, followed by color, using common and advanced techniques like filters, double exposures, and cyanotypes. She was patient and had a great sense of humor. (She would often joke about the great god “Photog,” who, if you sacrificed enough prints to, would eventually let you develop a good one.) Her influence in my life has lasted many years, and I wish I knew where she was so that I could stop by to show her how much I have learned and grown in photography. Do you have someone who has influenced you in any area of your life? Email me your story, and I would love to hear from you!

photography, nature, horses, flowers, farm, country, pasture, scripture, Christ

Website construction won't stop the new photos from being displayed in the gallery today.

August 28th, 2022

 This is the story behind Christ Removed that Yoke. We found this beautiful palomino horse on one of our many wildflower tours. She was in the same pasture as this ugly donkey, but they were hanging around together. Being a big horse fan, I had to stop for taking pictures, and having a few wildflowers in the field was a big plus, especially with the Wine Cup flowers. The Wine Cups are one of my favorite flowers because they have a beautiful bright magenta color to them. It does remind me of the times when I have seen the sunlight through a glass of red wine!

  

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery (Galatians 5:1).”  If any of you are under Christ, then you are no longer bound by sin but are set free from the end result of it, which is separation from God both in this life and the next.

 Even though we still sin, we no longer have to live under the law, the first covenant in the Old Testament, which was the law that only condemned people but did not save them. Christ is the only one who could save, but that does not mean we can do whatever we want. We still have to avoid sin even with the Holy Spirit living in us. The glory of His Spirit does not fade from us like when the glory faded from Moses’s face (Exodus 34:29-35; 2 Corinthians 3:12-13). It stays with us to help us avoid the pitfalls of sin, and that is definitely good news! After being saved by Christ, why would we ever be bound again by a separation from God of sin and death?

Do you have a mental map of all the "off the beaten path" places in your area?

August 21st, 2022

 

  When you think of a map, you may picture the paper one that used to be in everyone’s car. (Perhaps the GPS now replaces the map in your car, but I still have the paper ones stuck in the side pockets of my car doors.) I’m talking more about a mental map of unique places that you discover in your neighborhood or on your semi-regular travels. 

 Having a mental map can help you get off the beaten path of your life and into a whole new relaxing or creative world in your life. These may be places that reduce stress or encourage creativity. For example, I have two places labeled on my mental map where I can see and feed horses in the city of San Antonio. These are not a well-known places like a petting zoo, but there are several horses on two different privately owned properties. Once in a while, I take a couple minutes to stop by and give them some treats or plan to take photos in the future. You can also add some more frequented places on this map as well. I have Haby’s bakery in Castroville listed as one of my favorite bakeries. Also, less than a short distance from the bakery, I have a few quiet places I can enjoy on the Medina River. There also may be places of caution on this map where I have had a bad experience. One example is a place that I’ve labeled as a place of caution, “Grumpy woman living in this house who won’t let me feed, pet, or take photos of her horses.” What about you? Email me about your mental map and some of the places you’ve marked on your map.

Under construction...changes to my website.

August 14th, 2022

 I’m not sure anyone enjoys driving through construction. Lanes of narrowing traffic can be diverted around obstacles in the road. Loud noise mixed with moving people and construction equipment make an interesting obstacle course out of any drive to your destination. When I’m driving through a construction site, I make sure to roll my windows up to keep the dust out.

 

 After talking to several people about the design and ease of use of this website, I’ve decided to make some major changes. The gallery is overdue for a makeover. I have accumulated so many photos that it’s gotten hard for someone to easily find what they are looking for, so I am going to organize them onto categories (like plants, animals, etc.) that you can access from the “Home” page. Then, when you enter each category, every photo will come with a button under it so that you can learn more about each photo and make it very easy to purchase. I have also decided to keep up to date with keeping the newest photos on the image carousel at the top. Eventually, I want to add a second store that I can sell other products that Finer Works may not offer, and every single photo in the gallery needs to be kept up to date in the Geo Galleries as well. Therefore, if you find a few buttons that don’t work or pages you can’t get to yet, please be patient with me. God hasn’t finished with me or the website yet!

Are you really serious about the guy with the red horns and pitchfork?(Dealing with Satan and Hell in the 21st century...part 3)

August 7th, 2022

 From what I mentioned two weeks ago, lots of people are fine with Heaven, but what’s not popular to talk about is Satan or Hell. (Remember, I am basing my arguments on my July 17th post.) Some people refer to him as Satan, the Devil, or Lucifer, but I have recently come up with a new term for him as “the invisible elephant in the room.”  Now, for those out there who don’t know the phrase, “elephant in the room” means something real that needs to be dealt with but is being ignored. (A good example of this would be death.)  

 So an invisible elephant in the room, Lucifer and Hell/eternal punishment, to me means is someone or something that needs to be dealt with, but since it can’t be proven by science, the secular world labels it a myth. I also think of angels and demons as invisible elephants as well. Invisible elephants will move around and effect/do certain things, but I’ve noticed that what they do will sometimes be applied to the imagination or a mental illness. (I will go into that in more detail in another blog.) The Bible mentions Satan several times in the Bible, here are just a few: Zechariah 3:1-2, John 8:44, 1 Corinthians 7:5, Acts 5:3, James 4:7, and 1 John 3:8. I may not be a Bible scholar, but I do believe that when God mentions something several times in the Bible He wants you to pay attention. I don’t know everything about Hell or Satan, but I don’t want to be around either one. James 4:7 says, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” I’ve chosen to stick with God as my Savior and Lord for the rest of my life, and I hope you will, too.

COME LOOK: The story behind my new photo…and a new show at the NBAL!

July 31st, 2022

 Before I tell you the story behind my new photo in the gallery, I want to announce my new show I’m participating in at the NBAL gallery. This one is called “Taking it to the Streets.” The show will run from August 2nd to September 4th, and the reception will be on Friday August 5th, 5 pm - 7:30 pm. Come next month for food, drinks, and fun at the gallery located at the New Braunfels Art League in New Braunfels.

What is the purple ball of happiness? Well, for a butterfly, it may be a thistle flower. I’m sure I created this on one of my many spring flower tours. I really enjoy it when an insect or animal pauses long enough to get it on film! I believe the name of this photo originated from listening to Jack Benny on the radio. Now, some of you may not know Jack Benny was a movie star who also had a radio show and a TV show back in the early to mid-1900’s. Jack Benny had passed way before I was born; however, I grew up listening to him and other Old Time Radio shows on my local PBS radio station in the evenings. On one of his shows, I remember him mentioning the “________ ball of happiness.” How that stream of conscious thought ever connected this image to the title, I’ll never know!

Heaven…I know I’m on my way because I’m a good person, right? (Dealing with heaven in the 21st century.) Part 2

July 24th, 2022

 Ok, heaven is one place that people do like to talk about. It’s somewhere that everyone wants to go. It’s a place where all good people turn into angels, sit on clouds, and pluck harps, right? This may sound great, but that’s not what the Bible says about it. (Now, I am basing this idea on Jesus and the Bible being trustworthy in the last blog I wrote.)

 

People and angels are not the same thing but different beings. (Matthew 22:30; Luke 35-36; 1 Corinthians 6:3; 1 Peter 1:1-12). Revelation 21 describes a new heaven and earth being made because He destroyed the current earth and heaven that we live with today. God will then dwell among his people, and there will be no more evil here. So not everyone will be going there. Kind of seems like an unfair God, right? Why won’t God let us decide were we should go after we die? Well, don’t you think God has the right as the creator to make the rules? I don’t think it is unreasonable for Him who is all- powerful and all-knowing to make the rules for cause and effect. If Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me,” I just try to go along with His plans. He can see the big plan for my life, and He is a loving and patient God. So I’ve made up my mind a long time ago to stick with Him.

God, I'm not ready for that sudden stop at the end just yet!  (Dealing with death in the 21st century.)

July 17th, 2022

 Death is one of the topics, like politics and religion, that is taboo to mention in conversations. However, I think it is one of the most important parts of your life to plan for. Now, I’m not talking about funeral arrangements or how much money you will have to put aside for funeral arrangements. I’m speaking about the afterlife because will we be existing there forever. Of course, some of you may be thinking, “How do you know since you haven’t been there yet?” or “I don’t believe in that so I don’’t have to worry about that.” 

 Well, I don’t know, but I know one who has died and been raised from the dead. Jesus has risen and proven himself an honest and trustworthy being a long time ago. C.S. Lewis said, “Jesus Christ was either a liar, a lunatic, or He was who He said He was.” An honest conclusion can’t be he was just a good person, because if this was so then he wouldn’t make such outrageous claims about himself being God. He would be a liar, of course. Also, just because you don’t believe in something doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. Now, I don’t have time to go into details with proof about Christ because this posting would be too long to read. Here are a few great books or scholars that address the issue of whether you can trust Jesus or the Bible. I’m sure there are many more good ones out there as well. Don’t just take my word for it; read these books for yourself:

Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

More Than a Carpenter by Josh McDowel

The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel


If you want to pursue being an artist, then…(part 2)!

July 10th, 2022

 An old farmer who lived up the road from me said to his grandchildren while talking to a farmhand from his tractor, “That just goes to prove that you can’t get anything done by sittin’ around.” How true that is in the art world as well as the rest of life. I hope you have had time to answer some of those questions from my June 19th post. If you are interested in art, then here are a few things to try:

 

1.) Take a summer art class in the kind of media that you would like to pursue. Some of the schools offer free or low cost classes over the summer.

2.) Visit an artist’s studio. Watch them work and ask questions.

3.) Visit an art museum and take time to wander around. Note which exhibits inspire you to create something…even if it’s, “I’m jealous because that artist can _____ and I can’t!”

4.) Don’t be afraid to experiment with different artistic media. Just because you draw, paint, or sculpt something once doesn’t mean it will look like the Mona Lisa. Art takes practice and persistence, so don’t give up easily if it’s a media you are interested in. It took me many years to learn to draw and paint like I do now.


One of the most important things to mentally take home with you today is to not give up after one attempt. If you really want to paint, sculpt, create pottery, or whatever, it may not look great the first time you try it. So don’t give up on yourself or your artistic experiments easily; just keep trying!

Wishing you a happy Fourth of July!

July 4th, 2022

 I just wanted to wish you a happy Fourth and a reminder to be grateful for all of the freedoms we have in this country. It’s not just another day for grilling hot dogs and hamburgers at the park. Remember, freedom isn’t free; someone had to die for our freedoms. I’m grateful to live in this country and to have the freedom to put up this website without being thrown in jail. Not everyone has the freedom to put up a website and talk about God or art. God has given us some of these rights, so let’s not give them up to government to decide what rights we have and what we don’t have. What freedoms are you grateful for?

 


Hurray for new art in my gallery today!  (The story behind “We’ll keep the light on for you,” and a new art show announcement.)

June 26th, 2022

 I found this beautiful sunset on a trip to Marble Falls. We were taking a drive around some of the fancy house neighborhoods in the evening. When I saw this, I knew I had to take a photo. However, the camera didn’t produce the beauty that I saw. The sky still looked beautiful, but it over powered the neighborhood. The landscape was dark and more of a neutral tone, but I loved the one street light that was on.

 

I tried to monkey around with the special effects of Photoshop and finally settled on the Oil Painting feature. The one street light reminded me of Motel 6’s slogan with Tom Bodette calmly saying, “We’ll leave the light on for you.” (See photo below) I love trying to give my photos creative or humorous titles. Life is hard enough already, so why not laugh!




Before I forget, I want to announce that I have a new show that I will be submitting some works to at the NBAL (New Braunfels Art League). The show is called “Texas” and will be opening on June 28th and running until July 30th. The reception will be held at the NBAL gallery on July 1st 5pm-7:30pm. They will also have refreshments available, so please join me if you can.

If you want to pursue being an artist, then...

(part 1)

June 19th, 2022

 Common sense says that life is hard and so is being an artist. Some of the famous artists had to work hard to make it where were they ended up in life, and even then they weren’t famous when they were alive. I never would encourage someone to pursue a hobby career in art just because some one told them. Here are a few things to ask yourself if you are thinking about being an artist either for a hobby or a career:

 

1.)List some of the things that motivate you to make or learn how to create art. (Ex: Do I enjoy drawing, painting, etc?)

2.)Do I find it fun, interesting, or relaxing while I am creating a work of art?

3.)Do you enjoy being creative with things around the house, such as frosting a cake, finger painting with your child, or making things to decorate your home?

4.)Do you take pride in the thing you have created, or do you just want to use it for a porch door stop because it embarrasses you?

Of course, sitting around and thinking about whether or not you want to be an artist doesn’t always answer the question. There has to be some action involved in this search, which we will get into next month.  

I'm pursuing a new place to show my work.

June 12th, 2022

I’m glad I have a place at the NBAL to show my work for a low price in exchange for five hours of hard work doing various cleaning tasks each month. However, I’m also going to apply to a local gallery in my city. This month, I’m applying to the River Art Guild in La Villita located in downtown San Antonio. La Villita is a group of small historic buildings on the bank of the San Antonio River. These buildings contain many small business shops.  

 Now, it’s going to be a little more work to show here. It’s a smaller space, and I have to send them two business resumes: an art one describing things that I have done related to my artistic development, while the other is a business resume about any sales or business-related experience that would help the co-op. I haven’t written a resume in several years, so I’m going to have to brush up on these skills! I will have to send three photos to go through two jury processes, one online and one in person. It may be a little harder to get into than the NBAL; however, I’m not selling a piece every time I hang it at the co-op either.

Then, I will have another show coming up next week at the NBAL where I can submit three more pieces. Of course, this means that I’m going to have to work hard in the next couple of weeks before the submission dates of the shows. Being an artist who is trying to start a business is no walk in the park for me. Next week, I discuss a few things to think about if you want to pursue life as an artist.

What's going on at the NBAL...

June 5th, 2022

So what have I been doing at the New Braunfels Art League lately? I wanted to get you up to speed on my art at the NBAL. Last month, I put three pieces in the main gallery of the art co-op in New Braunfels. I did not understand that I could continuously put up work that was taken down after three months even if it didn’t sell.

 I have also entered three pieces for a show titled “The Wonders of Water.” The three pieces in the show will be up until June 25, 2022. If you are in the area, please take time to stop in and see all six pieces of mine and other works by different artists.

Let me share a story of how great the customer support of the NBAL gallery is. I came in on the deadline to submit my three pieces. However, one of the three pieces didn’t quite meet the hanging requirements for the special show. This piece had to have a sturdy hanging wire; however, the place that printed and framed it would not put it on, so I brought the piece in anyways to see if there was a way that I could still enter it. A couple of people were willing to come to my aid without complaint. One suggestion from these people was that if I went across the street to the hardware store to purchase a few things then they would fix the back of the frame and attach the wire hanger. So hats off to the NBAL for going above and beyond what they had to do! Don’t forget that if you are in New Braunfels, TX, stop into 239 W. San Antonio St. See what’s going on in the gallery for yourself.

Unboxing something for you…new photos in the gallery!

May 29th, 2022

I created this photo while I was at Watkins Glenn, a wonderfully relaxing park where you can overlook waterfalls and walk near the creek, while visiting New York. You can also drive through part of the creek when you enter the park, and enjoy the beautiful stone bridges. It’s amazing how some people can design a bridge of stones without it falling into the creek!

What’s even more amazing is that Christ is a safe bridge for us so that we can approach God. He won’t collapse or lead us in the wrong direction. Not only can we be with God in Heaven, but we can really know Him. We can talk to Him in prayer. “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us - whatever we ask - we know that we have what we asked of him (1 John 5:14-15).” Please note, this doesn’t mean God will give you a million dollars if you ask; he is not Santa Claus. God loves us and wants a relationship with us. Prayer is a great way to have a conversation with God. Remember, good conversations involve both talking and listening to each party. When a conversation turns into just talking or listening, then it becomes a lecture, and lectures aren’t always fun! I encourage you to start a conversation with God this week. All you have to do is pick up your Bible and just be with Christ.

Love like Christ while you fight like a tiger…tips for being a Christian in a secular world. (Part 2)

May 22nd, 2022

Here are some more tips while you are fighting the good fight:

4.)Attack ideas and not people. As Christians we need to think of people as the object of our ministry, not the enemy. It’s always good to be respectful to everyone even if they don’t respect you. This is also a good way to STOP a fight and NOT START one.

5.)If you have a weakness to a certain sin, don’t hang out there. For example, if your doctor has told you that you have to lose 200 pounds, then don’t walk by the bakery on your way to work

6.)Try not to hang out with people who want to drag you into their sin. For example, if you are a recovering alcoholic, some of your old friends may want you to frequent the old bars you used to visit, and they will probably want you to drink. If this is the case, then it may be time to get new friends.

7.)Do find a Christian who courageously practices their faith and try to spend time with them. Find out what they have done to strengthen their faith and grow. (“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17)

8.)Last but not least, you can still have plenty of fun as a strong Christian. There are many things to do that aren’t sinful! I like exploring with my camera, so I’m sure you can find many different ways as well!

So how are you doing with your walk with the Lord? Write to me, and tell me what you are learning about Him.

Love like Christ while you fight like a tiger…tips for being a Christian in a secular world. (Part 1)

May 15th, 2022

“If the world hates you, understand that it hated Me first. If you were of the world, it would love you as its own. Instead, the world hates you because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.” John 15:18-19

I encourage every Christian out there that if you live out your faith be prepared to put up a good fight. So fight hard, but not with evil reactions. Fight with well-though out actions while you carry out God’s will.


Here are some tips while you are fighting the good fight: 

1.)Get very familiar with the Bible and continuously pray. Being close to God daily will shape your mind and heart to be more like Christ.

2.)Don’t give up on the Christian faith because people attack you for it. Christ is your only true life line, and if you cut Him off, you will suffocate your growth.

3.)Be prepared not to take it personally if people insult you. Remember, hurt people hurt others, and they may be feeling guilty for not doing what you are doing. You may also hear that age old phrase of “everyone else is doing it” when you decide to go to a prayer meeting instead of the annual neighborhood drunken block party. (Also, resist the urge to make snappy remarks to them like, “How old are you, 13?” or “Who pressed the time machine button to send us back to middle school?”)

I encourage you to practice the above tips this week while you live life.

Now that I’ve framed my favorite masterpiece where should I put it? (Or how and where to hang a piece of artwork in your home.)

May 8th, 2022

Okay, you’ve picked out and prepared your favorite artwork to be displayed. Now what do you do? Yes, there’s a saying out there that says, “Real artwork won’t match your sofa.” (Perhaps that phrase came from the same people who think art shouldn’t be a commodity! It’s a work of art people, not a god to be worshipped!). However, that not always a realistic idea especially if you are buying a 2-D piece of artwork. These are a few questions to further consider, especially before buying a piece of artwork that you love and can finish up to hang:

1.)Where are some places you would like to hang the artwork? (What rooms or walls would the artwork look good on?) Please remember that certain pieces of art work, like original photos or watercolors, shouldn’t be hung in the bathroom! Humidity may damage your work of art over time.

2.)How heavy is the piece? Some pieces require a sturdy wall hanger if they are heavy. It may be good to hire a professional so that your beloved piece won’t fall off the wall and break!

3.)What is covering the wall you wish to hang it on? Sometimes busy wall paper or wood grain may interfere with how artwork is viewed.

4.)What direction is the light coming from in the room? Light tends to fade some forms of artwork; even under archival glass, artwork may fade if not hung at a certain angle from the light source.

I was interviewed by a newspaper journalist!

 May 1st, 2022


Recently, Chris O’ Connell from MYSA, a digital part of the San Antonio Express-News, contacted me to ask what advice I could give to people about taking good bluebonnet photos. I have included the content of the article below, which is dated April 2, 2022. I would like to thank Chris O’ Connell for interviewing me and including a hyperlink to my website as well. You can click on this link to see the article with the accompanying photos included: https://www.mysanantonio.com/lifestyle/outdoors/article/Texas-bluebonnet-season-perfect-pictures-17036413.php

  PS: I don’t know why he called me an architecture and landscape photographer since I do many other things as well, but hats off to him again for taking the time to interview me!

Hallelujah new photos in the gallery!

April 24th, 2022

One of the things I love to do every year in San Antonio is to attend the Battle of the Flowers parade. For the last two years it was canceled, but it finally resumed this year. I would have to say that this was one of the longest parades I have ever attended in my life because it was 3-4 hours long. (I grew up in a small upstate NY town where any parade that took place in the village was about fifteen minutes long!) The first time I went, it reminded me of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade with lots of 

floats and balloons but with a Latino flare. Not only do I like to see the floats and balloons, but I enjoy watching and taking photos of people who may not be in the parade. Sometimes the attendees wear really crazy hats or shoot off confetti canons. These police officers were helping with crowd control when a parent probably wanted to get a picture of their kids with one of them. And just look at those girls in brightly colored clothing that screams party time! I admire the police because they risk their lives daily. I think we should all give them a round of applause for what they do in the community. When I meet a police officer in public, I usually thank them.

It's Resurrection Sunday!

April 17th, 2022

Luke 24:1-35 (NIV)

“On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. 5 In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6 He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 7 ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” 8 Then they remembered his words.


9 When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. 11 But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. 12 Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.

13 Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles[a] from Jerusalem. 14 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16 but they were kept from recognizing him.17 He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”They stood still, their faces downcast. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”

13 Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles[a] from Jerusalem. 14 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16 but they were kept from recognizing him.

17 He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”

They stood still, their faces downcast. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”

19 “What things?” he asked.

“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20 The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21 but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. 22 In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23 but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24 Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”

25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

28 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. 29 But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.

30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

33 They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34 and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35 Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread."

Now please go and spend time with Jesus in worship today!

To frame or not to frame, that is  the question.   (Part 2)

April 10th, 2022

Last time we were discussing some ways to frame and mat. I would never suggest dry mounting a print. Photos need room to shrink and expand with the weather, and eventually the photo may detach from the paper or backing board. Also, certain boards or papers (which the photo will be mounted on) may not be archival, and you will not be able to remove it very well. I would like to share one more example with you that I think is another option. One way I determine what color to mat and frame with is to ask myself, “What do I notice more: the art work or the frame and mat selection?” I remember my college photography teacher mentioning that the mat/frame should separate the artwork from the rest of the universe. I really think that the framing/matting should not attract more attention than the artwork.  The frame and mat should almost become invisible to how photo stands out. (Okay please forget the example, I'm having a bad computer day.  Just like last week the images didn't always appear.  It's probably the FinerWorks site that blocks me from copying the image, which is a good thing to keep out thieves!  However, if you go to my store you should see it in the inventory.  It's the one with the white frame and the three crosses.)

Also, there are other options besides mats and frames. You may want to try printing artwork on: canvas, metal, wood, glass, fiber, etc… I believe if someone buys my artwork they should be allowed to decide what to print it on. Fireworks and Digital Pro Labs will help you with that. Or a local custom framing gallery could help you do that. Some of you may say: “But that’s expensive, Margaret, why can’t I just get it done at Micheals?” The truth is that you can but you will get what you pay for. The mats and glass may not be archival. They may also not be as careful with your art print as you would like. However, if you can’t afford it that may be an option. Just check into how Micheals will frame your piece. (I really hope they won’t use masking tape to attach your artwork to the mat!). But whatever the colors and combinations it’s really up to what you like best. Try to image where it may be displayed if you buy it. Or if you are buying it for someone else then what size and material will they enjoy?

To frame or not to frame, that is  the question.   (Part 1)

April 3rd, 2022

Whenever you make or buy a work of art, you need to consider how it will be displayed. It doesn’t matter whether or not you give it as a gift or keep it to hang in your home, you will probably want it to look nice. When I was going to SUNY Oswego for art, I was taught by my photography teacher to mat and frame everything the same way before a show. She recommended archival mat board in colors of black, white, or gray. I was to pick one color of mat board, and then stick with it for every photo in that particular show. All photos were to be “window matted,” not “dry mounted. Metal frames were preferred, while real glass was used to cover each photo. The mat for each photo was to be bigger on the bottom (maybe 6 inches) than the top (2 1/2 in.) and about 1 1/2 in. on each side. That didn’t look great to me, but I went along with it until later in my 20’s when I made up my mind that each photo should be presented in a way that fits the photo. I like to choose mats and frames that fit the art work. Take a look at how the same photo is matted below(yes the resolution is very bad please forgive me...also one image may happen to be missing now):












Notice how the frame, mat colors, and shapes match the photo not overpower the photo and stand out. This piece isn’t overpowered by the frame and mat choice. The colors and choice of frame match the colors of the photo and work together as one unit. This photo was the one I just sold at the NBAL in January as well. Next week, we will examine some more options of frames, mats, and materials to prepare a photo before you take it home to hang.

What photos have arrived in the gallery today?

March 27th, 2022

Here’s another photo I took in California. This boat is called “Lucky II.” (I wonder what “Lucky I” looked like.) The sky in the original photo had a very bland light blue-grey tone that was all one color, so I added a sky from one of my other pictures. If you look closely under the sails but above the boat, you can still see the original sky color. There is so much to Photoshop that I’m still learning. So much can be manipulated in Photoshop that now when I see a beautiful sunset I wonder if that was the original sky or if it was modified.

One of the problems that I’m having with using Photoshop and my mouse is that it’s not easy to trace around objects. It’s very easy for me to hold a pencil to trace, touch up, or erase something I’ve drawn on a piece of paper. However, since I don’t have a touch screen, then I have to use a mouse, track ball, or track pad. Another option that I’m researching before I get it is called a Wacom. It’s a compact drawing tablet to use with computers. Has anyone out there ever used one before? I’m thinking of buying it to help me.