Sunday Scenery

“The World is Quiet Here.” – Lemony Snicket

by Debra

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Can you hear it?  If you close your eyes and breath in and out, I’ll bet you can hear what I heard while shooting this photograph.  Complete quiet with a small stream of water trickling into the pond.  Sunday morning is one of the nicest mornings of the week, especially when Spring is blooming.  I think this is true in most seasons, but during Spring it is a bit more peaceful and calming, flowers blooming and the scent of Spring in the air.  Today I woke up early and went for a drive.  There are several special spots I love to visit during the year, this being one of them.  The development I live and in the surrounding developments, we all have retention ponds.  This particular pond is just a mile or so down the road from my home.  The Cherry blossoms are at full bloom now and the scene was picture perfect!

I grew up in the city and we had two trees on our block.  The houses had small alleys between them, with small yards located behind the homes.  When I moved to Central New Jersey when I was 26 years old it was like culture shock.  We lived in a small development with a huge yard and trees around our home.  It took me quite a long time to adjust to the area. Fifteen years ago we moved to where I currently live, in Southern New Jersey, which is completely different from where I previously lived.  It took me even longer to become acclimated to this area of New Jersey, but now it’s most definitely home.  I love the quiet of where I live and the fact that there are less people who live in this part of the state.

As I looked at the gazebo this morning thinking of how I wanted to compose this shot, I knew I wanted to emphasize the flowers, that’s what Spring is about, the blooming earth and how it has awakened from winter.  Therefore, the scenery is blurred enough to put emphasis on the flowers but to also give you a feel of the scene.  The reflection in the pond of the gazebo and trees which have not bloomed yet, and the beautiful pink buds in the foreground showing how Spring has begun to arrive.  If you don’t venture out on a beautiful, sunny morning, I encourage you to try it.  Just sit and enjoy the quiet for a while, it will be a great way to begin your day and especially the new week.

Thanks for stopping by and I will see you next time … Debra

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It seemed as though winter had set in again on this cold April morning. The sky was filled with clouds overhead and thick heavy rain clouds in the distance. We decided to continue on with our hunt for wildflowers regardless.

We headed in the direction of Shandon. Our goal was to go to Shell Creek Road. It is typically the place for wildflowers here on the Central Coast. Once we got there, I actually was slightly disappointed, but there were quite a few more wildflowers than other years. The sun was still hidden behind the clouds, so the lighting wasn’t what I had hoped for either. We made the best of it.

While there weren’t as many as I had hoped, there were still areas that were blanketed with yellow and pretty patches of purple. I suppose all the talk had my expectations higher than was realistic. The lupine stood high above the yellow flowers and seemed to be calling out just to be photographed. I love the purple and pretty white tips of these delicate flowers.

The hunt for wildflowers is always a pleasant drive, no matter how many we find. The road is an easy drive and not too far from where I live. Any chance to get out in the country is great for me …

Camera Settings: 40 mm, 1/250 sec, f/6.7, ISO 160

We really appreciate you stopping in and joining us on our journey. If you just happened upon this entry, we’d love it if you followed along. Just click here to do that. To see more of California in my gallery, you can click here.


Friday Florals

“One who has hope lives differently.”― Pope Benedict XVI

By Debra

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Spring is a season of renewal and hope.  You can feel the energy when you smell the air and breath in the sweet aromas of flowers, grass and even the spring rain.  Life is very much like the seasons, as human beings we go through many situations during our lifetime, some fun and happy and others are difficult and sometimes sad.

Someone very close to me is going through a very difficult time right now and it brings back memories of when I went through a similar situation in my life.  I wish that I could make all of the pain and unpleasantness he is experiencing go away.  Unfortunately, there is nothing I can do to make it easier and less painful for him.  It breaks my heart to know how sick and unhappy he is.

After speaking with him today, I felt such a heaviness in my heart and I needed something fresh and bright to express how good life is.  I purchased these tulips several days ago, I always feel as though it takes a few days for tulips to be just perfect to photograph.  It is one flower, that becomes more beautiful with time.  I wanted to share what hope and renewal feel and look like to me.  With certain life situations, it’s sometimes difficult to find the light but always easy to see the darkness. Hope is what gets us through the darkest of times, without hope there is truly nothing.  I think it’s human nature to see the bad and not see the good, finding the good in a bad situation is never easy, but it’s that goodness and hope that gets us through the darkest times in our lives.

I pray that he finds the light and the hope in his heart gets him through.  Life is precious and sometimes it takes life threatening situations to make us realize how precious each and every day is.

Thank you for listening … Until next time … Debra

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Flowers have become a very favorite subject of mine. I suppose that’s one reason I like spring … there are flowers everywhere. These roses grow on long vines with small almond shaped leaves were growing at the back of a parking lot in town. I drive through this lot several times a week and have been waiting for the opportunity to stop and clip a few off. It wasn’t just a rose bush, it was a huge rose wall! Probably 10-12 feet in the air and maybe 50 feet in length. So today, I remembered to stop and clip.

Our life is like a thorny rose, not perfect but always beautiful.
Kirston D. Warfield

Camera Settings: 50mm, 1/180, f/2.5, ISO 100

Short and sweet for me today! Thanks for stopping in. To see more of my still life work you can click here.


Wednesday Stories

Spring Blossoms
by Debra

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From the Yard to the Vase
by Carolyn

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Sunday Scenery

Paradise has never been about places. It exists in moments.
In connection. In flashes across time.
Victoria Erickson

“Even the Devil was once an Angel”

Road Trip by Debra

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My husband works every other weekend, the weekends he is home we love to go exploring and take a day trip just to get away.  This weekend we decided to visit some wineries in Brandywine, PA.  We went online and found one that we thought looked really lovely.  We drove 90 minutes to get to the Brandywine area in Pennsylvania, stopping on the way for breakfast.

We arrived at the winery, the vineyards were completely bare, not even a hint of color in the vines, looking as though they were a prop from a horror movie.  After driving such a long distance, we decided to get out of the car to walk around hoping to be pleasantly surprised.  I grabbed my camera and jacket, as I closed the car door, I noticed the building door was opened a crack, a woman proceeded to walk out of the building to greet us.  I asked her if they were open, she said yes and invited us in, Brian and I look at each other, not sure if we should go in or get back in our car, but feeling obligated, we followed the woman inside.  Once inside there is a wood stove burning with an overwhelming smell of smoke, then she closed the door to keep the wind out.  I think our hearts skipped a beat, looking nervously at each other, Brian asked if they had wine tastings, she said yes.  We are then asked to step into the wine tasting room, which was the size of a large closet, wine bottles and chocolate covered pretzels laid out on the table. A second older woman introduces herself and begins to explain the process of grape growing and how wine is made.  Still unsure about the entire winery, we ask if there is any scenery for photos, she says yes. Then leads us outside to a very unkept area where there are the most adorable sheep.  I think that was the highlight of this winery, not the wine!

While walking around the property I came upon this birdhouse, which I thought described the essence of where we were.  I knew once I photographed it there was something oddly special about it.  This particular birdhouse expressed the entire mood of the winery and described everything we had been feeling since we stepped out of the car. To add to the eery and creepy feeling, the sky was very overcast and the day was damp and bone chilling, which enhanced the overall feel of.   While driving to the next winery, I was thinking of the strangeness of the place we had just left.  It was a true experience and not a good one.   Not every experience is good but I do believe we always come away with feeling something from each experience we have.

Thanks for stopping by, until next time … Debra

Photo Session at the Mission
by Carolyn

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It was a cold and dreary day when we pulled up to the old mission in San Miguel. Not a bit of blue in the sky and the threat of rain. There weren’t too many people at the mission, just a few wandering about, looking at the work of those who lived there once upon a time.

We were there for a different purpose. I arrived with a family of six and we were set to do a family photo session. The mission is a great location for family photos or just for visiting. The beautiful adobe building was built more than 200 years ago. It was named for the Archangel Saint Michael. It is the 16th of the California Missions and is located about halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles. The twelve arches are a variety of shapes and sizes. At first glance, it isn’t noticeable, but with a further look you can see that they are indeed different.

On this cold November day, we started out front near the large archway opening with our photo session. We moved in to the plaza and took some photos near the fountain. As we continued on, we headed around the back to the cemetary and got a couple of unique shots near the bell tower. The old church doors made a perfect backdrop for the four adorable children. If you click here you can see some of the photos we took that day.

We ended up getting just a bit of rain on us … the clouds overhead didn’t produce much, but it was the beginning of a very rainy season for us here in California.

Thank you so much for stopping. We’d love it if you followed along on our journey as we share our lives coast to coast.


Friday Still Life

“Sometimes the smallest things take the most room in your heart.” – Winnie the Pooh

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Transition is something we experience throughout life, in many areas of who we are and what we do.  As I get older, I become more sentimental about so many things.  It’s so difficult to think how fast time has gone by.  This year I turned 55 and it doesn’t seem that long ago that I was 18 and 21 and 26 and 29.  All memorable ages for me, 18 is a year when you believe you are an adult, yet you really have so much to learn; 21 is another age of freedom.  I lost a very close friend when I turned 21, she died in a car accident and it made me think about how immortal I really wasn’t.  At 26 I got married and three years later at 29 I became a mom. All very memorable events in my lifetime, and yet it they all seem like yesterday.  My daughter turned 26 this past week and now she is beginning to feel the immortality starting to kick in. Not that 26 is old, because it’s quite young, but it probably seems old to her.  Once you reach a certain age, time seems to just move quicker than it once did.

I’ve had so many transitions in many aspects of my life and with my art I am experiencing another transition.  I was chatting with Carolyn on Wednesday afternoon and we were discussing how our photography has taken such a turn in the past year.  I think art is an extension of who we are and with each stage of life, things change and it’s reflected in what we do, who we are, who our friends are and with me, how I view life which in turn is reflected in my photography.  For a while I thought I could make money taking photographs of people, but in reality, it’s the quiet and thought process which makes me really appreciate and excel in photography.  I prefer to be alone with my thoughts, being creative and thinking about how I want to compose what I see in my mind.  It’s that satisfaction of seeing my work laid out in front of me and in it’s final process – in print that truly brings me joy.

Transitions are part of life, but how you handle those transitions and move forward is what truly defines whether you will find your inner peace or not.

Thanks for stopping by, Carolyn and I hope you sign up for our weekly newsletter to follow along as we both transition through our journey.  To follow me on Instagram please click here.  Until next time … Debra

With Spring comes flowers! Transition is a good word! Our lives change from season to season. Sometimes those changes are difficult to handle and other times we move into the next season with ease. I can think of times in life where I’ve experienced both!

The divisions of the year are the same. Typically when we get towards the end of one season I begin to look forward to the next. Some I’m more anxious to get out of … winter would be one of those. I’m a warm weather girl … cold days and nights don’t agree with me unless I’m snuggled up under a blanket sitting in front of a cozy fire in our wood stove.

Spring is an especially wonderful season to arrive. The stark landscape begins to take on color. There is gorgeous green in every direction. The barren trees begin to bloom. Little tiny flowers begin to pop up across the landscape and before we know it, there are flowers everywhere!

What a beautiful part of creation God has given us to enjoy. Spring brings new life to everything around us and new life to each of us as we step out of the dreariness of winter into this glorious colorful season!

… silver white winters that melt into spring, these are a few of my favorite things …

Camera Settings: 50mm, 1/1000, f/3/5, ISO 400

Happy Spring to you!



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Eternity begins and ends with the ocean’s tides.

by Debra

Friday brings a certain freedom as the clock strikes 4:30.  The work week is ended and the weekend has begun!  Today was another cold and blustery day in NJ, but I had it in my mind all day to head home, tend to Kenzie then head to the beach.  I gathered my equipment, grabbed a heavy coat, put on my Uggs and headed south on the Parkway. Ocean City is approximately 20 minutes from my home.  I’m not sure if I was truly prepared for the amount of wind at the beach, praying for warmer days to arrive soon, but there I was, on the beach, camera on tripod, ready to shoot.

I haven’t been doing much landscape photography lately, and the fact that Carolyn and I share a scenery photo each Sunday has reignited the landscape spark in me. I wanted to do a long exposure, not realizing how cold my hands would be, even with gloves on.  I was a lone soul on the beach today, there were people walking on the boardwalk, but I was the only crazy person on the beach taking photographs.  Even though it was extremely cold, I enjoyed myself immensely.  This photograph was taken with a 10 stop neutral density filter, which is a filter that is completely black, reducing light transmitted by 1000x.  This photograph is a 45 second exposure taken at 24mm; ISO 100; and f/16.  The idea behind long exposures is to keep the sensor open for a long period of time allowing light in and anything moving will blur.  So, with the sensor open for 45 seconds, the rushing ocean waves were blurred creating a silky, almost satin effect.  The top of the water looks almost like fog or smoke, creating a very serene and peaceful image.  The sun enhanced the color of the water adding a beautiful pink and purplish tone to the sky and silky water below. After about 30 minutes and frozen hands, I decided to head home.

For anyone who lives near Ocean City, NJ they know Manco and Manco pizza.  It is very well known in Southern NJ and most times you can’t leave the boardwalk without getting a slice of this yummy pizza.  I arrived at my car, loaded my equipment and headed to 12th Street to bring home a pizza pie for dinner.  As I walked up the stairs towards the boardwalk, I could smell the familiar aroma of their famous pizza.  Needless to say, the weekend is off to a good start.

I hope you enjoyed my Friday adventure and a bit about how my weekend began. Have a great weekend and I hope you find a fun spot this weekend to enjoy before Monday arrives. Until next time .. Debra

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As you leave Morro Bay, heading north, there’s a small opening in the fence that leads you to Estero Bluffs State Park. There isn’t an actual park, but a gorgeous almost untouched and unused part of the coastline. As I walked out on the narrow wildflower-lined path and got further from the highway, I could hear the waves crashing and soon got a glimpse of the almost empty beach.

The beauty of this place is just glorious. The recent rains have caused streams of water to flow from the landscape down into the ocean. The sand is almost perfect with very few footprints in it. The mountains rising up to the north surrounding the little town of Cayucos do nothing but add beauty to this enchanting scene.

Once I got my shots down on the water’s edge, I decided to follow the path right along the cliff’s edge. Because it’s March and we’ve just had so much rain here, the yellow wildflowers were blanketing the landscape. This short little walk with the bees buzzing and waves crashing gave me just enough time to relax and quiet my soul.

It’s pretty incredible that I’ve lived on this part of California for pretty much my whole life and this was my first stop at this section of the coast. I’m pretty certain that I’m not the only one who hadn’t discovered this little gem yet.

Camera Settings: 75mm, 1/1000, f/11, ISO 400

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Friday Flowers

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Thinking outside the box is a catch phrase we hear very often today.  I was listening to the radio on my way to work the other day and the DJ was talking about catch phrases . He went on to say that catch these phrases were used but disliked by so many people.  I guess this is one I’m not particularly fond of, but it does describe today’s photograph quite well.

I think for many of us we stay with things we know, things that are familiar and comfortable to us.  I find that is the case with me and most of my photographs.  So today, I wanted to try something that is a bit different for me and maybe not quite as orderly as my normal composition.  There are many people I follow on Instagram, many whom I admire.  I read somewhere that if you admire other people’s work, the idea is not to copy what they do, but to incorporate elements of what you like about their work into your own style.

I find this type of composition to be a bit more challenging, because it’s unfamiliar and uncomfortable for me.  However, sometimes it’s nice to do something out of the ordinary and spread your wings.  Today, I believe I tried something a little different and fun.  It’s nice to show a lighter side of things sometimes.

Camera settings: 50mm; ISO 400; 1/50 sec; f/2.8

If you would like to follow me on Instagram please click here.  Thanks for sharing in my journey, have a lovely weekend.  Until next time … Debra

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Still Life on Chairs … I never realized there were so many different ways you can do still life. I suppose it’s obvious you can do this type of photo wherever you want. A table top has been my main area to take this type of photograph. Still life is a very interesting venture for me. It takes all sorts of creativity. I have blocks in that creativity sometimes on a daily basis. Landscape was my first love in photography and as you can well imagine, I didn’t have to create anything! It was all created for me. I just had to have my camera settings right and be there in the right lighting.

With Still Life, I have to have the right surface, the right lighting and the right items to be in the photograph. And it really does take some creativity to get the items set up just right. I’ve learned so much about Still Life in the last year it’s just crazy! Today my photo is a simple one with a small vase of flowers … and you can’t even see the vase! I laid a couple of pieces of linen across the back of the chair just to give something smooth and flowing to the photo, but I’m really not sure how ‘flowy’ it is. I’d love it if you wandered through my Instagram by clicking here. You’ll get a good look at my growth in this area of photography.

Once you get your items all set up you then have to do the editing. That is a whole process in itself … you can create many different photographs with the same image just with different processing. I’ve learned to create Lightroom presets that I can use over and over, but I’ve also bought so many from Kim Klassen. If you aren’t familiar with her work I encourage you to check her out. She has been a great influence for me, along with many other ladies, in this still life journey.

Camera Settings: 50mm, 1/45, f/2.8, ISO 500

Thank you again for stopping!