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The Pond

"Much Ado About Nothing"

  Want to see how I edited this photo!

March 29, 2020

I have hundreds of photos I have taken over the years. This gives me a wide variety of photos to choose from. However, not all of them make it to the gallery. Only a top percentage make it to my website. I have added a page to the blog that will show you some of these steps. Please click on the sub menu under the blog menu to view the page called: "Editing take #1."

photography, nature, garden, flowers, scripture, God, Isaiah, hydrangeas, summer, promises

Guess where one of my photos that I never thought would ever be used ended up.

June 7, 2020

A large chunk of the photos that I take don’t ever make it to the gallery. Some of them are for me to remember a moment or place that I’ve been to or something interesting I want to remember. Some of them are ones I hope to use as part of a future photo. (I need to learn more about the joys of Photoshop! You can cut out and put together things from several different photos.) I never thought this burned down house photo would ever be used. However, it ended up on the cover of my friend’s book: “The Trial” by E.S. Elias. It’s book number 3 of the Unconditional Love Series. Her other two books are “Silent Torture: Beyond Face to Face Contact” and “Love Conquers All.” One of her characters is a bit of a pyromaniac, but I won’t spoil the story for you. You can get more info about these books at http://amazon.com/author/eselias. I think I will call this photo: “Carol Ann’s Rage.” She will be using more of my photos for her books in the future. Two more will appear on her author page. 

photography, nature, garden, flowers, scripture, God, Isaiah, hydrangeas, summer, promises

Experimenting with photoshop again...Oil Painting in Photoshop

August 23, 2020

Please see the the drop down tab "Editing take #2"

photography, nature, garden, flowers, scripture, God, Isaiah, hydrangeas, summer, promises

Christmas is coming.

December 6th, 2020

We can see it coming all around us if we look. Candles in the window, lights on the houses, and trees in neighbors’ windows. I love looking at Christmas displays every December. A few years ago while visiting family in New York, I decided to grab my camera and stroll through Skaneateles both on Christmas Eve and Christmas day because I was inspired by the winter landscape and the decorations. I had grown up near this town through most of my life and enjoyed the ritzy and beautiful landscape of this village in all seasons. (It was really amazing how empty the village was on Christmas, yet it was perfect because I didn’t have a crowd in front of what I wanted to take a photo of.) I saw this pair of ice skates hanging on a shop door. Little did I know this photo would inspire future Christmas cards and prints. I was amazed when I met a woman at an outdoor art show in the Corpus Christi area who knew where Skaneateles was. Her daughter was living or had lived in Skaneateles before, and she just had to have that print to give to her daughter! So I guess it is a small world after all.

photography, nature, garden, flowers, scripture, God, Isaiah, hydrangeas, summer, promises

Do you have a shop till you drop mentality?

December 13th, 2020

Unfortunately, Christmas like many other holidays, has become so commercialized that it distracts from its true meaning. Instead of being still and meditating on God coming to earth and being born as a human being, TV commercials rush us into the question of: “What are you getting the people you love for Christmas?” or “What are your loved ones giving you for Christmas?” (It’s this kind of selfish talk that makes me wonder if God is throwing up into a bucket somewhere.) No, I’m not against gift-giving, parties, or sending Christmas cards. These can all be great things to do this season. What I’m encouraging everyone to do is just to stop and reflect on what God has done for everyone. Take some time from all of the hustle and bustle of the season and just reread the Christmas story from the Bible. It can be found in the books of Matthew and Luke. A little bit can be seen in Mark and John. I promise that reading this will not diminish your Christmas experience but will add something extremely important to it.

photography, nature, garden, flowers, scripture, God, Isaiah, hydrangeas, summer, promises

The scent of a candle...

December 20th, 2020

Christmas and candles go together like chocolate and mint. This photo was taken during a home tour in San Antonio. I enjoy burning a candle and letting the room fill with the scent of oranges and cranberries, pumpkin spice, or whatever the scent. The scent can relax you or put you in a romantic mood. Candles during this time also remind me of advent candles at my church. Each candle represents something different. The first candle stands for hope, the second faith, the third joy, the fourth peace, and the fifth purity and light or the Christ candle. (The meaning and number of candles may vary from church to church but it still proclaims Christ and his story.) And boy, do we need all of those things from Christ especially during COVID-19 and very questionable election results from November. (If you don’t believe me then look up the info on these websites: sidneypowell.com, stonecoldtruth.com, https://metaxastalk.com, aclj.org. I haven’t had time to read everything yet, but I don’t want to head off on that rabbit trail right now.) Jesus says in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” And that’s something we can hang onto for the rest of our lives!

photography, nature, garden, flowers, scripture, God, Isaiah, hydrangeas, summer, promises

New photos in the gallery!

December 27th, 2020

During a snowy and cold adventure to upstate New York, my husband and I decided to visit the Farmers’ Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y. This museum is a great place to watch people dressed in period costume enacting what life was like in days gone by. It was in the 20 or 30 degree range, with snow covering the ground, and it was perfectly normal for an upstate winter. (Although it was colder then my husband was use to because he is a Texan.) This was the same place where I took the photo titled “1805 Cough Drops.” I’m not much of a portrait photographer, but I do enjoy taking candid photographs. Instead of making someone pose in a studio, I wait to see what they are going to do and take a picture. (Not only is this much cheaper, it seems to work better at telling a story.) Not all of these portraits come out well, so they get thrown into the digital garbage can. But this definitely shows the hard work and filth of his trade.

photography, nature, garden, flowers, scripture, God, Isaiah, hydrangeas, summer, promises

New goals for the new year...

January 3rd, 2021

A lot of you out there may be more than happy to see 2020 go into history’s trash can. However, what are you looking forward to? Do you have any new goals or plans for the incoming year 2021? I’ve been thinking about new goals for Off Path Photos, and here are a few:

1.)Keep the GeoGalleries store up to date with new photos and products

2.)Launch new Square store

3.)Spend more time researching ways to advertise on the Internet

4.)Plan for and participate in art shows during the year

5.)Expand knowledge of Photoshop, Lightroom, and other photo-editing related programs.

I’m learning so much about art and online businesses, and yet there is sooooo much more to learn with so many different ways to learn it. There never seems to be enough time to learn and apply what I’ve learned. Now, I would like to ask my readers, especially the ones who get my emails, to think about these questions and send me an email:

1.)What do you enjoy about this site/or want to read more about?

2.)What don’t you like about this site or wish you could change?

3.)What photo subject matter do you enjoy most?

Thank you for your feedback. Happy new year!

photography, nature, garden, flowers, scripture, God, Isaiah, hydrangeas, summer, promises

What to do when your inspiration dies.

January 10th, 2021

Just like many other artists, there are times when I have trouble deciding what artistic photo I want to create next. (It also happens quite frequently when I write blogs. I may already have an idea but don’t know how to express it or I may not have an idea at all!) One suggestion that my one of my drawing professors at college would encourage me to do was to take a sketch book everywhere I went. My photography professor would encourage me to take my camera everywhere I went as well. (No, I don’t always do this because that may mean I would not end up at work. I would be out taking photos all day! In all seriousness, I don’t want to risk having my camera stolen or damaged.) But if I have some free time to spend at a park I will. Sometimes I don’t take any photos that day or I may take a few. I never know when I will see an interesting sign, horse, flower, color, odd object, etc. that I could put in another picture at some point. Another way to stoke up creativity is to play around with the camera or with photo developing software. That’s how I was able to successfully use the oil painting feature for my waterfall photo. I’m hoping to take more time this year to play around with cutting and pasting several photos together. It could turn out to be a masterpiece. Or, as one of my writing professors said, “Writing is where you can take all of the little failures in your life and make them into one big failure.” That also happens with art as well.

photography, nature, garden, flowers, scripture, God, Isaiah, hydrangeas, summer, promises

AAARRRGGGGHHH...what happened to my photo! Learning how to store your photos matters.

January 17th, 2021

As a photographer in the modern age, it amazes me how fragile technology can be. I have negatives that have sat on the self for a little over twenty years. I paid less then $10.00 for the purchase and development of each roll of film, and I can still use them. However, I may pay between $20-50 for a flash drive for my photos, and it can fail in less than 10 years. The same thing happened to my cameras. My film camera that was purchased used from the 1980s will still work, yet my digital camera that was new in 2012 has slowly started to die in the past two years. The repair shop told me that this “wonderful” digital camera will cost more to fix than it’s worth, and the company has stopped making some of the parts. (I’m sure I can still find someone to fix my film camera.)

I have learned a couple of things just recently about storage devices. Storage devices have expiration dates of 2-10 years depending on the type. Flash drives are for short term use (about 2-7 years), whereas hard drives are for long term storage (about 7-10 years). Also, remember not to pull out the flash drive from your computer before it is done ejecting! That’s exactly what happened to this photo. Since this photo was on a flash drive that I use constantly, I went to transfer the photos from my storage flash drive to the daily use one. When I did the computer could not read it. After sending it off to one data recovery place who couldn’t fix it, I learned that flash drives have an unpredictable expiration period to them. I’m going to try to send it to another data recovery specialist, but if that doesn’t work, I will have lost many, but not all, photos that can’t be replaced! I have learned that it’s a good idea for photographers to have about three different backups for photos. Then to switch out these backups when they get close to expiring. I just looked at my negatives on the self and wondered when I really need to back them up. Sigh…I guess I really “can’t go home again”.

photography, nature, garden, flowers, scripture, God, Isaiah, hydrangeas, summer, promises

Sorry folks, I was one Sunday ahead of myself!

January 24th, 2021

I accidentally skipped ahead of myself this week and added the new photos one Sunday too soon.  However, since I announced it last week I might as well go along with my mistake and talk about this photo.  It’s okay to break society’s norms of art and artistic rules. Some people may think, “Why take a picture of this cow from the back between the fence?” I need to take a picture of the cow from the front end with the cow looking right at me. Maybe I should center the cow in the middle of the picture. Or let’s take the cow out of the pasture, wash it, have it pose, and put a cute background behind it just like a person! (That reminds me of when I was an assistant at Lifetouch. Lifetouch focuses on school, sports, and event pictures. The backgrounds, poses, and equipment are set up to take many similar photos of kids in a short period of time. But this is a factory approach to photography, and there is little to no creativity for the photographer. This is one of the many reasons while I did not continue working there.) I enjoy taking photos from different angles. Sometimes it’s fun to try having the foreground or background in focus but not at the same time. Also, I may try to shoot above or below a subject, perhaps using a ladder or from ground level. I also like to try to move my subject out of the middle of the photo just to be creative. And if that doesn’t work…I could try to create something different in Photoshop.

photography, nature, garden, flowers, scripture, God, Isaiah, hydrangeas, summer, promises

Don't be afraid of the rain.

January 31st, 2021

There is a misconception among some people that sunny days are for photography, while rainy days ruin all the fun. Not so, this photo was taken in the rain. (Well, it wasn’t raining very hard, but it was still raining.) With a cloudy or partially overcast sky, you don’t have to be very concerned with bright highlights and very dark shadows that may look extremely unattractive. The grass won’t be an unbelievably bright green that says to other photographers, “Hey, did you ever hear about using a polarizer?” Here are a few things to keep in mind before going out to photograph in the rain:

1.)Make sure you have a rain umbrella or two with you and some plastic bags to put your camera in when not using it.

2.)A rain coat for you and your gear. Your camera won’t die after one rain drop, but you don’t want it to get too wet.

3.)A tripod for low light and slow shutter speeds.

4.)Your imagination…be willing to try something different. You may be able to stop the drops in midair or catch the drops collecting on some fir tree branches. Puddles can be great places for a cityscape reflection.

photography, nature, garden, flowers, scripture, God, Isaiah, hydrangeas, summer, promises

Good news about my flash drive!

February 7th, 2021

It’s a good thing that I keep one or two copies of the flash drive that failed on me. I asked two different advanced data recovery places that may be able to help me on my storage flash drive. One place estimated that if it was a “Tier-1” case that does not require direct NAND chip access, it may cost $600. A “Tier-2” problem is when they need to perform chip-off data recovery and controller emulation software that may cost $2,000-4,000. The other company estimated that it may be $1,295.00 because it sounds like a read retry (voltage gate sensitivity) issue, which should be this man’s specialty. I did not understand why a small flash drive would cost so much to fix. He explained that it contained billions of dollars in R&D and proprietary designs that need to be reverse-engineered to get my photos. After trying to explain to this man that YES my data was worth it and if he had any installment plans to pay him, I did not get an answer. (To me this means, you're not worth my time.) So I decided to take my other flash drive back to “data recovery” in San Antonio. Kevin was able to recover a lot of my photos at around $250.00. So all was not lost, and I’m very thankful to God and Kevin for helping me recover my photos. There is one thing I would like to ask my readers out there in computer land, “Do you understand what the other two companies were trying to explain to me about my flash drive?” I don’t understand that kind of computer language and was wondering if you can help me out.

photography, nature, garden, flowers, scripture, God, Isaiah, hydrangeas, summer, promises

Happy Valentines Day!

February 14th, 2021

It is a really cold day today in the San Antonio area, and a thin coat of ice makes going out a bad idea. I’m still celebrating Valentine’s Day with my wonderful husband. I hope you are at home with a loved one doing something special with them today. If you are stuck for ideas of what to do, here are a few suggestions:

1.)Pull out a board or card game you haven’t played in a while.

2.)Reread old love letters or emails you haven’t read in years.

3.)Make a heart-shaped pizza together.

4.)Snuggle up under a warm blanket together with hot cocoa and watch a fun movie.

5.)Name five things you respect about your husband or mention five things you love about your wife.

6.)Revisit the restaurant that you first ate at together.


Remember a good marriage is never passive, it always takes work!

photography, nature, garden, flowers, scripture, God, Isaiah, hydrangeas, summer, promises

Recycling old ideas/photos

February 21st, 2021

The farmer who planted this garden had a great idea when he took an old piece of farm equipment and put a flower bed in it. In other words, he recycled a piece of old farm equipment. That is the same thing that artists can do with their work. That is why I’m hesitant as a photographer to throw away shots that don’t seem to have much potential. Maybe I have a photo of a dog, but the rest of the environment that he’s in doesn’t look good. (He could be sitting next to a garbage can that doesn’t do much for the photo.) I can use Photoshop to cut out that dog and put him next to a pond. (The pond shot may look like a pond, but there doesn’t seem to be much of a reason to go further with it because it’s too bland.) Now the finished photo may be worth showing in my gallery or even selling.


I’m part of a photography meetup group online. Every month we have a competition, where the challenge for March will be “Texas.” I’m thinking about recycling some bland photos into a composition that stands for Texas. You may even have some bland photos that you want to throw away. I would advise you not to do that because you may find a use for them later.

photography, nature, garden, flowers, scripture, God, Isaiah, hydrangeas, summer, promises

New photos in the gallery also a new group sent to be copyrighted.

February 28th, 2021

Thirteen of my new photos have been sent to be copyrighted, and this is one of them. I took this at the Rose Mansion Bed and Breakfast that I stayed at in Salado, TX. Several of the other buildings were added to this property later on, probably to expand the Bed and Breakfast. I think this picture was the back of one of the sheds on the property. The collection of new and antique farm tools was intriguing to me since I enjoy history and the country, just like the photo of the two circles of saws. It’s also a mystery as to where each piece came from, such as, “What store did the Coke and Pepsi signs hang in? Who decided to paint the Texas flag on the bottom of the metal tub and why?” I’m sure each of these pieces has a story to tell if they could talk. I think this would be a great photo to make into a puzzle and sell sometime. Another idea I want to follow through on is making some puzzles of my art work and selling them in my second store that I will add to this web site.

photography, nature, garden, flowers, scripture, God, Isaiah, hydrangeas, summer, promises

The necessity of a copyright.

March 7th, 2021

As you probably know, a copyright protects an artist’s work by allowing them to own and make copies of their art work to sell, distribute, or display. Anyone else who wants to use the work must have the permission of the artist to copy and sell the copyrighted material. My photography professor in college advised us to get our photos copyrighted if they were displayed on the Internet because it’s the easiest place to steal a photo. Thanks to the Copyright Act of 1976, a work of art is copyrighted as soon as it is made, and in 1989 a copyright notice was declared optional on all pieces of art that are made. However, I like to add a copyright notice to all of my photos when displaying a work of art on the web to emphasize that I created it. It’s almost as if a copyright notice is like a posted sign on a piece of property that says, “Hands off! This work is mine!” Because this “posted sign” will not work to deter all theft, I like to register all my work displayed on the web with the US Government. When I do that, I will have an easier time proving in court that I’m the owner of a certain photo.

Okay, there may be some of you thinking out there, “Margaret, you’re not famous, so who cares, right?” I’m sure that lots of people will not be flocking to my website to reproduce and sell my photos. But if someone does decide to take and use one of my photos to make posters for sale, I still have control of the image and can probably get a cut of the money. It’s something I’d advise all serious artists to think about before they post a photo of their work on the Internet. There are some artists and people who don’t believe in copyright, so tune in next week to hear about “the anti-copyright crowd.”

photography, nature, garden, flowers, scripture, God, Isaiah, hydrangeas, summer, promises

Copyright necessity and why I'm against the anti-copyright ideology-part 2

March 7th, 2021

Believe it or not, there are some artists and people out there who do not believe in copyrights! Some of these arguments include that copyright creates a monopoly, is a government privilege, and restricts access to knowledge. I have tried to read and understand some of these arguments, but they do not make sense to me as an artist in the world of reality. As far as I understand, copyright is not to protect publishers or the government…but to protect artists like me. If you’re an artist who makes lots of money off of your work and want to give up your copyright, that’s okay. However, I’m an artist who has poured my money and time into works of art while working a day job to pay the bills. I would hate to have one of my photos used in a magazine or to make t-shirts but not get the profits from any sales or recognition of who created the work. Wouldn’t you?  

photography, nature, garden, flowers, scripture, God, Isaiah, hydrangeas, summer, promises

1805 Cough Drops

March 14th, 2021

This is the other portrait I did at the Farmer’s Museum in Cooperstown, NY. This man was demonstrating how they used to make lozenges in the old days. (It probably wasn’t a recipe from 1805 either. I was just trying to put in a creative title instead of just naming it “Portrait #2”) One of the things that can really ruin a candid photo is when the subject knows you are photographing them. Often they may try to posse and give you a forced smile or remove something they don’t want in the photo, or they may try to hide their face. I don’t want any of these, and I may stop taking the photo at that point or still take it but not use it. I want them to just act natural, so I try to disguise my picture-taking around them. Here it was hard to do since I was in a small room with others and a camera. However, he seemed not to be paying attention, which was what I needed.

photography, nature, garden, flowers, scripture, God, Isaiah, hydrangeas, summer, promises

New photos coming your way!

March 28th, 2021

It’s wildflower season again in south Texas…one of my favorite seasons of the year! Not only are many things green, but beautiful flowers make their appearance. I found this tractor driving along the Willow City loop near Llano, TX. If you haven’t been to see the flowers, then you should. One of the fields has a windmill and a fence decorated with old boots on top of the fence posts. (Sometime I will work on those boot photos so I can show you!) Bluebonnets are growing all over the field!  Down the road, some of the property owners have decorated their fields with old farm equipment, like this tractor. It really took me back in time to see these antique pieces of equipment. If you do decide to take a trip out there, don’t park or walk on someone else’s property, because some of the property owners get pretty testy about that.

photography, nature, garden, flowers, scripture, God, Isaiah, hydrangeas, summer, promises

Happy Resurrection Sunday!

April 4th, 2021

John 20:1-7;11-16: “Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”

So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb.  Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first.  He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in.  Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there,  as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen”…“Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, ‘Woman, why are you crying?’ ‘They have taken my Lord away,’ she said, ‘and I don’t know where they have put him.’  At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.  He asked her, ‘Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?’ Thinking he was the gardener, she said, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Mary.’

She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, ‘Rabboni!’ (which means ‘Teacher’).”

I was going to talk about my contest, but I forgot it was Easter. I have quoted part of the Easter story here for you to see and read the rest later today or tomorrow. Happy Resurrection Sunday, and I hope you had a wonderful time at church and with family!

photography, nature, garden, flowers, scripture, God, Isaiah, hydrangeas, summer, promises

It's time for a contest...see what you can win!

April 11th, 2021

The WWW is a huge place for a small business to get lost in! I’m new to advertising and have to learn as I go. I’m looking for some new people who will appreciate my art and stop by to take time to look around. If you will help me find these people, then you could win this print of "A double rainbow is a pot of gold"! Here’s what you need to do:

1.) Look around your circle of friends, family, neighbors, etc… for people who would be interested in my art and this website.

2.) Ask them to take a look around my website and then email me their answers to the quick survey I will post to the “Contact Me!” section of my website. Make sure they mention who sent them.

3.)The person who brings in the most people that fill out my survey will win this 8x10 inch print! (You filling out the survey counts as one point for you!)  The contest will end September 1, 2021! I will announce the winner’s name/nick name in my blog on September 5th. The winner will have to provide me with their address to ship the photo. If the winner fails to come forward, then the prize will go to the person who brings in the 2nd most amount of traffic.

photography, nature, garden, flowers, scripture, God, Isaiah, hydrangeas, summer, promises

Have you ever been whale watching?

April 18th, 2021

I have wanted to go whale and dolphin watching for years. I finally got the chance to see the dolphins in Corpus Christi, and then in 2016 took a trip to California to actually see a whale and her baby. What does it take to get a good picture of a whale? The average whale can hold its breath for 60 minutes, whereas dolphins can only hold it for 3-5 minutes. This means I may not see that whale for a while, so I have to take lots of photos and have lots of patience. Many of these whale photos didn’t come out well with a whale part in the wrong spot, the camera being out of focus, or the whale submerging before I wanted it to. Finally, I did get the tail of one that I really enjoyed in the shot.

photography, nature, garden, flowers, scripture, God, Isaiah, hydrangeas, summer, promises

What's coming to my gallery next?

April 25th, 2021

This was another beauty I made at the Rose Mansion Bed & Breakfast in Salado, Texas. This spinning wheel was just one of the antiques kept in what they called “The Quilter’s Room.” I really enjoyed the solitude while we stayed here, since it was just before the pandemic really broke out. No one was in the main house where we stayed, only a few others stayed in the cabins or other old houses on the property. The light streamed in through the windows (energizing the artist in me), and the windows gave me a great view of the property and neighborhood. The spinning wheel was by the windows next to an arm chair that didn’t make sense in my composition, so I moved the furniture around, and “voila” I had what I wanted. Of course, I had to Photoshop out the bright sunshine that came in so it wouldn’t ruin the image. It’s better to have an overcast day for photos like this, but if you don’t…there’s always Photoshop to the rescue!

photography, nature, garden, flowers, scripture, God, Isaiah, hydrangeas, summer, promises

Not perfect but I'm finished!

May 2nd, 2021

Making a piece of art is similar to writing a poem or story in many ways, including knowing when a piece of art is finished. (And, no, I don’t mean a failure, but I mean how do you know when a work of art is done with the creative process.) My short story professor at OCC once asked us this question by saying, “How do you know when a piece is finished? It’s finished when it’s finished.” Some of you out there may be saying, “All right Margaret, now you’ve just confused me even more. I think you may be a few M&M’s short of a family pack!” The problem is that there is no definite formula for a finished photo. In this photo I’m not happy with my lack of experience with Photoshop or some of the subjects which could be flipped to face a different direction. However, at some point I have to say like many other artists, “It’s not perfect, but I’m finished working on it. Maybe I will come back in the future to change things or I may just start a new project.”

photography, nature, garden, flowers, scripture, God, Isaiah, hydrangeas, summer, promises

Bird blinds are not just for the birds.

May 9th, 2021

Bird blinds are designed to let you observe the wildlife undercover. It may be a wall with holes so that you can peek out or a window that’s a one-way mirror. If the blind is located at a park, quite often the park will put out food and water at certain times for the birds or other animals. Pedernales Falls State Park in Texas has one of my favorite bird blinds. It has a large indoor area for a blind with mirror windows on two opposite sides of the building with two different areas for wildlife, a fountain, hummingbird feeders, and several times when birds are fed during the day. If you know of any other great bird blinds in Texas or elsewhere, email me so that I can post them on my blog!

photography, nature, garden, flowers, scripture, God, Isaiah, hydrangeas, summer, promises

Texas in black and white.

May 16th, 2021

Please see drop down menu in blog Editing take #3

photography, nature, garden, flowers, scripture, God, Isaiah, hydrangeas, summer, promises

Guess who came to visit us on Mother's day in the bird blind.

May 23rd, 2021

Inks Lake state park is another park that has a great bird blind. It has indoor and outdoor benches, a large enough space for a group of people to bird watch, and a white board for lectures. Several different kinds of Texas bird photos are posted, and the viewing windows are really clean! (Clean windows are a big deal for me in a bird blind so that I don’t have to remove smudges from dirty windows in a photo.) I admit that warm days are not fun to sit around in a blind, but that day it was worth it. We saw many common birds, like White Wing Doves, sparrows, and a Painted Bunting. A raccoon and adult cotton-tail rabbit came to eat, and I was able to get some photos of them as well. (I took a really funny-looking one of the raccoon that I want to work on and post here.) But the biggest surprise when we were about to leave was this little bunny! He was foraging on the ground inside with two people. Either he knows people won’t hurt him, or he’s just naive like any baby animal. 

photography, nature, garden, flowers, scripture, God, Isaiah, hydrangeas, summer, promises

Guess what's new in the gallery!

May 30th, 2021

Romans 12:12 says, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Even in our culture with cars, cell phones, and lots of free entertainment, it’s still hard to be patient, joyful, and faithful. Being able to have more and do more doesn’t necessarily grow patience or hope but may just make us jaded. I have a pastor friend who immigrated to the USA from Cuba. He would go back twice a year to minister to the people there. One year, he held a retreat in a hotel for some of the pastors in Cuba who were growing weak and weary. When the pastors came to the hotel, they were amazed by the plentiful food to choose from. Some of them even took packets of butter home! (I guess butter can be considered a luxury down there, while I complain about the heat and humidity when I get out of the car!) I’m sure the retreat boosted their hope, joy, patience, and faithfulness in prayer. Hearing about their story makes me joyful and reminds me to pray for them. So how are you doing with what Romans 12:12 says? Write to me to let me know at: [email protected] I may put your story in my next blog!​

photography, nature, garden, flowers, scripture, God, Isaiah, hydrangeas, summer, promises

Revisiting scenes of past photos.

June 6th, 2021

I bet you’ve seen this tractor before. I took it about a year ago near the Willow city loop during wildflower season in Texas. I think it won an honorable mention in our monthly photo contest too. This year when, we drove by to see wildflower photos, I spotted some deer in the field. One deer wandered next to the tractor, and the rest was photographic history. It’s a great idea to revisit places that I have gone before because things change, and you can get some wonderful pictures. The light and seasons change as well as the plants and animals that stop by. Therefore, I want to be there when something wonderful happens!

photography, nature, garden, flowers, scripture, God, Isaiah, hydrangeas, summer, promises

Why you don't need the most expensive camera equipment

June 13th, 2021

If you’ve picked up any camera magazines or glanced in any camera stores, many name brands are trying to declare that their products will give you the best results for your photos. I have only one word for that, “Baloney!” I started out my photography with a Miranda camera that had no internal light meter; it was actually my father’s camera he used in college in the 50s or 60s. This photo was shot on that same Miranda. That was before I knew I would take another photo class and become a fine art photographer. Now, I use a Canon EOS Rebel T7, and I can still make great photos, which begin from the mind until photo equipment is used. Just like oil paintings, masterpieces come from the mind and actions of an artist, not from the paint brush or canvas. Some of the new name brand equipment can be extremely expensive, which may not be good if you have a limited budget or are just starting out in photography. It would be better to buy used equipment or rent camera equipment before you buy it. Then, if you like it, you can buy it later when you have the money. Whatever camera you buy, just make sure you read the manual…before all else fails!

photography, nature, garden, flowers, scripture, God, Isaiah, hydrangeas, summer, promises

Happy Father's Day

June 20th, 2021

Just wanted to wish my father and all the others out there a happy Father’s Day! My father enjoys fishing, and that’s why I posted this picture for him. Although, I don’t think he’d be fishing for one of these since Coy fish are considered pets. 

photography, nature, garden, flowers, scripture, God, Isaiah, hydrangeas, summer, promises

End of the month means time for something new!

June 27th, 2021

Hope can be defined in three different ways: 1.) to wish for a future event to happen 2.) to trust 3.) to expect. In this world people hope for many things, for example money, power, a good career, perfect children, keeping up with the Jones… Yet some of us strive for these things and never get them. Even when they do, they soon find out that what they hoped for never really satisfied. (Just when you thought you beat the Jones at their game, they packed up and moved to a bigger and nicer house!) In Psalm 39: 7 David says, “But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you.” As king of Israel, David had it all and more. Many have called him a man after God’s own heart, yet he messed up so many times. He found out that the only thing that was worth it in the end was God. That’s the way my thinking works here at Off The Beaten Path. Since God is always a stationary point in life, I want to start and stop with Him. Hey, it’s true! People leave you; politicians disappoint you; new trends become worn out. Yes, everyone has to learn to become an adult in their life in order to find out that life is not all about you and can be really boring. But yet God has always been there in my life through losing loved ones or friends, broken promises from others, insults, and ridicule. I can truly say,“My hope is in you,” and continue to follow him. How about you? Where does your hope lie? I encourage you to put your hope in Him and follow Him off the beaten path of your life and away from the confusion of the world.

photography, nature, garden, flowers, scripture, God, Isaiah, hydrangeas, summer, promises

Happy 4th of July!

July 4th, 2021

Just wanted to wish everyone a Happy 4th of July and help all of us to consider what this holiday really represents. Ronald Reagan once said, “Freedom is a fragile thing, and it’s never more than one generation away from extinction.” There are some who want to cancel speech and actions they don’t agree with. Let’s use today and everyday to practice our freedoms while speaking out against ideas that take away our freedom. And to all Christians everywhere, I encourage you to, “Live as freemen, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God (1 Peter 2:16).”

photography, nature, garden, flowers, scripture, God, Isaiah, hydrangeas, summer, promises

I hope you haven't forgotten about the contest.

July 18th, 2021

The WWW is a huge place for a small business to get lost in! I’m new to advertising and have to learn as I go. I’m looking for some new people who will appreciate my art and stop by to take time to look around. If you will help me find these people, then you could win this print of “A double rainbow is a pot of gold”! Here’s what you need to do:

1.) Look around your circle of friends, family, neighbors, etc… for people who would be interested in my art and this website.

2.) Ask them to take a look around and then email me their answers to the quick survey I will post to the “Contact Me!” section of my website. Make sure they mention who sent them.

3.)The person who brings in the most people that fill out my survey will win this 8x10 inch print! (You filling out the survey counts as one point for you!) The contest will end September 1, 2021! I will announce the winner’s name/nick name in my blog on September 5th. The winner will have to provide me with their address to ship the photo. If the winner fails to come forward, then the prize will go to the person who brings in the 2nd most amount of traffic.

photography, nature, garden, flowers, scripture, God, Isaiah, hydrangeas, summer, promises

Tips for taking artistic photos

July 25th, 2021

1.)Become familiar with your camera’s manual and/or an indepth book about your camera. I’ve found that sometimes the manual you get with the camera doesn’t tell you everything you would like to know. I recommend the books for Dummies.

2.)Don’t be afraid to learn to use the manual setting of your camera for certain things. Auto focus can’t do everything and may actually mess up the focus of your photos, depth of field, ability to use/not to use a flash, etc.

3.)If you can, walk around the object at least once before you take a photo. If it’s too big, try to walk a little ways to the right or left. Sometimes the first angle may not be the most creative. 

4.)Keep an eye on what’s in the background of your subject. Let’s say you are taking a photo of one of your friends, but there is a telephone pole behind their head. You may want to move to the right or left a little so the pole doesn’t get in the way. (You will also have less editing to do.)

5.)Don’t be afraid to experiment with cloudy or overcast days. Some subjects may not look good with really dark shadows and extremely bright highlights.

photography, nature, garden, flowers, scripture, God, Isaiah, hydrangeas, summer, promises

New photos coming to the gallery

August 1st, 2021

Have you ever been to a restaurant that really stands out in your mind? It could be that it was the best food you’ve eaten in your life. Or perhaps it was that waiter or waitress that brought character to your table. Maybe even the look of the building and landscaping around gave it a spectacular look. The Gardens at the Ridge in Kerrville, TX, is like that. Not only can you eat inside or on the deck of a rustic Texas-style building, but it’s complete with a nursery. During one of our photo day trips, we stopped here on our way home. We were seated on the porch just feet away from a myriad of gardens. Flowering plants of all colors graced the areas along pathways, by the deck, and around the yard. (Yes, there was an actual lawn among the fireworks of flowers!) Many interesting lawn fawns could be found among the gardens including a bicycle, a wooden cut-out of Texas, and bright red and yellow vintage metal patio chairs. It was hard to distinguish between where the restaurant grounds ended and the nursery started. Near our table was an old wooden wagon. While we were sitting and relaxing, a Green Anole lizard perched on the handle of the wagon. My husband and I were able to snap many photos of him since he sat so still for a long time. This photo was one of those pictures. I have another photo of the same lizard a little ways down in the gallery. I’ve also worked on two photos of some really unusual flower beds at this nursery that will be coming soon to this gallery.

photography, nature, garden, flowers, scripture, God, Isaiah, hydrangeas, summer, promises

You could be the next winner of this amazing print...

August 8th, 2021

You have a really good chance of winning this photo! Do you know why? Because no one has signed up for it yet! Okay, I know everyone may be very, very busy lately, so I’ve decided to shorten the survey a little to:

Quick survey:

1.)Who referred you to this site today/how did you find it?

2.)What are some of subjects/photos that you enjoyed on this site?

3.)What photo images would you like to see more of that you haven’t seen?

4.)Was there anything on the site that was difficult/confusing to use, if so what?

5.)Would you like to be added to my emailing list to receive future blog posts, deals, contests, etc? (Yes or No-either I am on it or don’t need emails to keep up with)

So some of the questions will be very short to answer. I would hate for you to lose out on this opportunity that ends on September 1st of next month.

photography, nature, garden, flowers, scripture, God, Isaiah, hydrangeas, summer, promises

Introducing Finer Works, the wizard behind my first country store and the production of some of my prints.

August 15th, 2021

I’d like you to get to know one of the companies that produces my prints, Finer Works, which is located right here in San Antonio. They create a variety of products, not just framed prints. They also make cards, mugs, puzzles, etc. Some of their papers and inks are archival, which means that the print is designed to last for a long time when stored and cared for properly. And they also carry Conservation Clear Acrylic that blocks the majority of UV rays from damaging a print. (We can’t have those little UV rays damaging art now, can we!) In order not to sound like a bad infomercial, I want you to be informed about what you are buying before you buy it so you won’t waste lots of money, like our government does every year. (Oops, am I going to get censored for that?) One of the things that really fascinates me is that Finer Works is making textured prints. For example, if I decided to order a textured print of one of my photos, I would be able to feel the bumpy surface as if I had painted it. Here’s a video that lets you look behind the scenes about the new textured printing process at Finer Works:

     https://youtu.be/WuONdwVgjF8

photography, nature, garden, flowers, scripture, God, Isaiah, hydrangeas, summer, promises

Free shipping! What’s the catch? (I prefer to be open and honest in my art business.)

August 22nd, 2021

I’m sure you have heard many businesses or websites offer “FREE SHIPPING” for their products. However, what they may not tell you is that they stick shipping costs in with the price of their product and then claim you get free shipping. Here at www.offpathphotos.com, I want to be honest with my customers. I try to be as honest as possible with my products. If I have to charge shipping or tax, I will list it on the bill. Small businesses, like mine, simply can’t eat the costs for everything. However, BIGGER businesses that sell art force “the little guys” like me who want to sell art on their websites to agree to say that we have free shipping, while eating the cost of the shipping by not charging for it. I’m trying to avoid using these sites for now. However, if I have to, I just want you to know that shipping will be included in my price on those sites. Honesty at OFF PATH PHOTOS is more important than “fake deals!”

photography, merry-go-round, carousel, horses, patriotic, amusement ride

New photos coming your way, and what about the contest?

August 29th, 2021

Does this photo look familiar? It’s in the gallery already but in full color. I experimented on it in Photoshop by making the background black and white but keeping the horse in full color. Now the horse really stands out from the rest of the carousel. (Just don’t ask me to explain what I did because I can’t remember. Uh oh, it sounds like I need to spend more time learning how to experiment with Photoshop again.)

How is everyone coming with the contest? I haven’t heard from anyone yet. Just remember, the person who refers the most people to my site to send me feedback on my survey, including you taking the survey = 1 point. Each person who takes the survey counts as one point for you. The person with the most points wins! So far no one has any points yet, so this could be a very easy contest to win. The deadline is this Tuesday at midnight.

photography, merry-go-round, carousel, horses, patriotic, amusement ride

And the winner is...

September 5th, 2021

Nobody! (Gasp) What, wait…nobody won at all? No one filled out the survey and sent it back to me. That was the only way you could have won a print of “A double rainbow is a pot of gold.” I remember one person made a comment about the website but didn’t fill out the survey and send it back. I’m wondering if my survey was too long or too complicated to fill out during this Labor Day weekend. Many people are so busy these days, so perhaps I should do something else. I will have another contest later this year or next year, and you could still win one of my prints! In the meantime, let me know the kind of contest you would like to see on my site.

photography, merry-go-round, carousel, horses, patriotic, amusement ride

New art show coming up.

September 12th, 2021

Hear yea, hear yea…I would like to announce the first art show of the year I’m participating in! It’s called “Elevate Exhibition,” and it will be on October the 18th from 4pm-10pm. The show will be located in the Hermann Sons ballroom 525 South St. Mary’s Street in downtown San Antonio. Light hors d’oeuvre will be served as well as drinks while you enjoy music from DJ Kidd Groove and mingle with the artists (photographers and videographers). All tickets can either be purchased on line at: https://elevateexhibition.com or at the door. This is one of the pieces that will be featured at the show as well as three other pieces. I will even be displaying one of my new pieces not seen before on this website. So come one and come all! Bring your business casual or wedding attire, and let’s have fun! 

photography, merry-go-round, carousel, horses, patriotic, amusement ride

The Bible, why I pay attention an old book.​

September 19th, 2021

Have you ever tried to go on a trip to a new place but forgot to bring a map or GPS? I’m sure you may have had to go back and get the GPS or have had to stop and get directions. I’ve done that and gotten lost several times. Well, life is like a car trip, and I need the Bible as my map to guide me, a moral compass for me. I would get quite lost in life without it. Someone out there may be thinking, “Honestly Margaret, I need some real scientific proof before I can believe.” I can suggest a few books to read by people like Josh McDowell (who wrote More Than a Carpenter) and some of Lee Strobel’s books. I have listened to and studied some of their stuff, as well as other religions as well. All religions are definitely not the same! And if it was the same god who told different people different things over time, then we must have a really messed up god who likes to lie. I encourage anyone out there to pick some of Josh McDowell’s or Lee Strobel’s books to read instead of just throwing up your hands saying, “It’s too confusing for me” or “That’s religion for you.” God and life are too important to pursue without a good road map.

photography, merry-go-round, carousel, horses, patriotic, amusement ride

New photo...​

September 26th, 2021

This is a Scarlet Ibis I saw at the San Antonio Zoo. It’s a water bird that feeds on frogs, mollusks, insects, crustaceans, and small snakes. Its bright red color comes from the carotene found in the crustaceans it eats. Zoos are always great places for me to find and photograph animals that live in other parts of the world. I love traveling, but it gets very expensive and time consuming. It would be great to travel around Africa, Latin America, and Australia. Since I’m not rich, zoos, sanctuaries, and wildlife parks bring these animals closer to where I live. They also have safe barriers that keep me safe from dangerous animals. One of my favorite barriers is a good, clean window, but many times it’s smudged from animal or people use. One of the things I should include in my photo supply bag would be a bottle of glass cleaner and a rag to clean my side of the window. San Antonio Zoo also has fish feeders for people to feed the Coy fish as well.

photography, merry-go-round, carousel, horses, patriotic, amusement ride

My life just broke God, FIX IT! (part 1)

October 3rd, 2021

Everybody usually goes through a Death Valley-like experience in their life. A loved one dies, you lose a good job, or a car accident leaves you partially paralyzed for life. While this experience may leave you mentally paralyzed in a corner of your mind, you may be asking God, “Why did you let this happen to me?” I want to help you through this time, but not with “5 easy steps to turn your life around.” There is no easy advice that I can give you or that will make the situation go away. I want to listen to you and your story. I would like you to follow me “off the beaten path” of the secular world to explore a healing path for your life. That path is not filled with pat answers but with the love and understanding of Christ. Christ loves you so much that He stretched out his arms and died for you. (Now there may be some of you out there may be thinking, “Yes, I know that old story, but that doesn’t end my pain or bring back my loved one.” Or maybe you are even mad at God right now because he did not stop what happened.) I plead with you not to stay mad at God and push Him out of your life. Ezekiel 18:23 says, “Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?” (Now, I’m not saying that you are a horrible person that just murdered someone but am trying to reason here. That is, if God does not enjoy the death of the wicked how much more do you think he hates to see you suffer?) However, God does not stop everything bad that is going to happen in your life. Why, I don’t know, but he’s not the perpetrator in our lives. I don’t think it’s a good idea to push God away in any situation. In the shark-filled stormy ocean of life, God is the only real life boat. It’s better to just get in the boat and ride the waves. (Part 2 next week!) 

photography, merry-go-round, carousel, horses, patriotic, amusement ride

My life just broke God, FIX IT! (part 2)

October 3rd, 2021

Unless you get on the lifeboat, God can’t help you. You will be tossed back and forth on the waves of the world. (This is similar to what James talks about in his 1st chapter). First you will pursue one idea which won’t really work, then you will chase after another until you drown. But on the lifeboat, you are not alone, since many others are on the lifeboat who may have shared your experiences.

One thing to do while you are going through this “Death Valley” experience is to seek out wise counsel. Try to find a good therapist or pastor who really knows how to listen and won’t automatically take sides. For example, if you are having family conflict, it’s best to go outside the family for help. Keeping everything inside the family is never a good idea!

A second thing that needs to be taken care of is to acknowledge what you’ve done if you have helped to create the situation. For example, if you spread malicious gossip about a friend after a fight, then take responsibility for your actions. That may require you to apologize to your friend and the others to whom you spread the gossip.

A third thing to do is to realize that this problem won’t instantly go away. Instead of stewing about the problem on and off during the day, find something else to focus on. Try going for a walk, eating lunch with a friend, or listening to Christian music. You can also write to me at https://offpathphotos.com/ if you need a listening ear.

photography, merry-go-round, carousel, horses, patriotic, amusement ride

You are invited to my art show.

October 17th, 2021

October 18th, 2021

4pm-10pm

Hermann Son's Ballroom

525 S. St. Mary's

San Antonio, Texas

Food and drinks, door prizes, give aways, vendor contributions, music, and more!

TICKETS SOLD ONLINE OR AT THE DOOR

elevate​exhibition.com

photography, merry-go-round, carousel, horses, patriotic, amusement ride

I made first and second place in the Annual Photo Tournament

October 24th, 2021

Every time October rolls around, there is a day of anxiety, sweating, and the smell of burning creativity that fills the air. That day is called the Annual SA Photo Tournament. There are 15 categories to compete in, and none of the participants know these categories until that day. Nobody is allowed to manipulate the images after the shot is taken, which makes it a fair playing field for everyone but creates a lot of anxiety for the next three hours. I’m never sure what photo will win…if I win at all. Last year, I didn’t win anything, so I’m happy to announce that this photo made 1st place in the category of “Written Word.” I also received 2nd place in the category of “Climate.” Each year I’m surprised at what photos win and what photos didn’t. My climate photo was so-so, yet it received a prize, so I’m going to show you the one that I’m proud of. The verse that the letter opener/sword is covering up is from Hebrews 4:12-13, “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword; it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”  

photography, merry-go-round, carousel, horses, patriotic, amusement ride

What new photos came to my gallery today?

October 31st, 2021

In case you didn’t get to the show, this was the new photo I displayed. As we were touring the hill country, I came across a Lutheran church with this display. Three crosses, on a small hill right over a stone tomb; boy, this church group must have really worked hard to put this together! It definitely was well-built and well-kept up in the garden of this church. However, what I think was unintended was the wonderful crop of bluebonnets around the cross. As we pulled into the parking lot, I could see that several other people thought so as well. I had to be patient and wait until people and cars moved out of the way before I took some of these photos. It’s good to remind all photographers to watch what’s happening in the background before you press that button. If you wait a little bit, that annoying car or truck will move out of the way. And if you are close to the road, be ready for the gust of wind that may blow your subject matter around after a vehicle passes.

photography, merry-go-round, carousel, horses, patriotic, amusement ride

My life just broke God, FIX IT! (Part 3)

November 7th, 2021

It’s true no one wants to go through any “Death Valley” experiences, but we all have to sooner or later. We want to fix the situation right away but sometimes can’t. I’d love to wave a magic wand over the world to end this pandemic or to stop terrorism. However, since we can’t do these things, the best thing to do is just get in God’s lifeboat and ride with Him. God has a compass in this boat (the Bible) and a navigator (the Holy Spirit). The world’s compass is broken and spins in all directions. (Just take the example of Hollywood, why follow them? They can’t even stay married!). If you are already in the boat, be a good listener. In James 1:19-20 it says, “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.” The cancel culture doesn’t have much tolerance for quick listening and becoming slow to anger. Christians need to train to be experts at this.

photography, merry-go-round, carousel, horses, patriotic, amusement ride

More adventures with the oil painting feature.

November 14th, 2021

I am really enjoying learning what happens to my photos when I apply the oil painting feature in Photoshop. If you are looking for it, it’s under: “Filter —> Stylize —> Oil Paint”. Adobe Photoshop has some really good tutorials for its many features.

There are a couple of different sliders under “Brush.” “Stylization” changes the style of the brush strokes. “Cleanliness” changes the length of the brush strokes. “Scale” changes the thickness of the paint. “Bristle Detail” changes the appearance of the paintbrush-hair indentation that you can see. “Angle” changes the incidence angle of the light, which is good when you put part of the oil painting in another picture. “Shine” changes the light source’s brightness and the amount the light bounces off of the paintings surface. I’m certainly not an expert with the oil painting feature, but I’m glad these tutorials are available to help guide me along the way in the big world of Photoshop. If you are using Adobe Photoshop, make sure you look up the tutorial you will need on their website.

photography, merry-go-round, carousel, horses, patriotic, amusement ride

Cultivating an attitude of gratitude.

November 21st, 2021

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, merry-go-round, carousel, horses, patriotic, amusement ride

What new photos will be added to the gallery next?

November 28th, 2021