Monday, January 30, 2012

Week 5, Asleep

This is my Vladi, asleep in the middle of the hallway. As usual. The first few times I came upon him sleeping like this I thought he was dead. But no, this is his preferred way to sleep. He's a weird one. He never fails to make me smile!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Got 'Em!

It's easy to photograph geese floating around on the pond, not so easy to catch them in flight. Something told me the increased honking meant they were about to take off and sure enough they did. I had just enough time to switch my camera mode to the "sports" setting so the shutter speed would be fast enough to stop action.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

A Gaggle of Geese

Yesterday I featured ducks, today we have geese. As you can see, there were many more geese than ducks at the pond. I thought these guys flew south for the winter. I guess not...

Friday, January 27, 2012

Gathering for Breakfast

These Mallards were having a fine time of diving for breakfast. So far the winter hasn't slowed them down any.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Water Winter Wonderland

The duck pond is beginning to ice over around the edges. Water winter wonderland!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Week 4, One Cool Pup!

I couldn't resist this ice sculpture as my pet pic of the week. It's the perfect way to end this series of ice sculpture photos. OK Mother Nature, you can warm things up now!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Lady Liberty

This is the "other" Statue of Liberty replica at the Plymouth Ice Festival. I love how the golden morning light bathed Lady Liberty in warmth.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Project Yosemite

Yosemite HD from Project Yosemite on Vimeo.

Every once in a while you come across something so awesome you just have to shout it out to everyone you know. This is one of those times. Watch this video on as big a screen as you can access. Prepare to be amazed.

Warmth of the Sun

I love this pic for the way it combines warm and cool... colors (yellow and blue) and elements (hot sun, cold ice) at sunrise, the transition time between the cold, dark night and the sun-warmed (somewhat ;-) day.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Ice is Nice, But... Cold!

I was up and out of the house at the break of dawn (an hour before sunrise) in low single-digit temps (3F) yesterday to get pics at the Plymouth Ice Festival. It was more than brisk out there! But the ice sculptures were fascinating to see and you just can't beat that early morning light. It was worth braving the cold. This was one of two Statue of Liberty replicas at the ice festival. You'll see the other one later this week.

The town of Plymouth is a charming little place with a nice park in the center of it. The trees are still strung with white holiday lights making for a magical scene. (You may have to click on the images to view larger for the full effect.)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Birds on the Beach

This is a pretty Michigan winter's day. It's brisk and cold but at the same time it's nature at it's finest. The wind and waves, blue sky and white snow... all these elements provide the perfect backdrop for the grey and white gulls on the shore.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Week 3, Free Spirit

There's nothing like a run on the beach on a cold winter's day to make up for being cooped up in the house for a couple of weeks. Yippee!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

This is Riverfront Park along the St. Joseph River in Niles, Michigan. I was there last weekend for the Hunter Ice Festival. Mother Nature came through with cold temps and lots of snow. Had a nice time. The vintage recipe ice cream was fabulous!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Snow on the Dunes

Taken last weekend in St Joe. The Lake Michigan dunes were covered in a soft blanket of snow.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Lots of love going on in this picture! This is my dear friend and her darling dog. They are wonderful companions for each other. Chloe (the dog) is quite spirited and full of youthful exuberance. Cheryl (the friend) is a kind and gentle soul full of wisdom and patience. They compliment each other well. :-)

Monday, January 16, 2012

A Cowboy With No Horse

Meet Thomas Fuller, a cowboy with no horse. He's an artist, a western artist. He paints horses and western scenes but he doesn't ride horses. He's a self-taught artist whose studio is at the Box Factory for the Arts in St Joseph. He's charming and engaging and quite the gentleman. And an amazing artist. He's a better artist than I am photographer so my photo doesn't do his work justice, but here's a sample of his work anyway.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

An Inspirational Tea

Yesterday I was invited to tea, hosted by a dear friend. :-) That in itself was enough to make me smile but as I sat at the table my smile turned to an all out grin. I was delighted to see the word "Hope" on my teacup and napkin. What a wonderfully inspirational word! I knew right away I had to grab my camera and get a shot of it. After all, "words" is one of my feature topics for this year of 2012. And I can't think of a better word to start off 2012 with.

This inspirational tea continued with the dessert plates.
Words of wisdom, "Love Never Fails". If I could have photographed the words of our conversation I would have done that too. There's nothing like tea with a good friend!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Old Man Winter

The 2-day snow total for St Joseph was 10 inches. The snow was still coming down this morning when I got this pic but it's over now. The flakes were not especially large so they are a little hard to see, but they're there. I do believe this is my first weather pic of the year.

Week 2, Lazy Josie

Here's my Week 2 pet pic. I caught Josie napping on the stairs. She picked her head up just long enough for me to take the pic and then she went back to napping.

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Grandeur of Sweetest Heart

This is Sweetest Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Detroit as seen from the choir loft. The large stained glass windows in the transepts can't been seen from this view, and of course you can't see the organ from this view either because it was behind me, but you can see a few of the many other stained glass windows that line the north and south sides of the church. This view gives you a feel for how large this church is. It seats 2500. When compared to present day mega-churches it is not all that impressive but it is the largest Catholic church in the Archdiocese of Detroit.

This was the first time I photographed the church from the choir loft. (I have a fear of heights and this is the first time I faced my fears and climbed the winding staircase to the balcony. My heart was pounding and I broke out in a sweat but I got the picture!)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Oh What an Organ!

Another photo from Sweetest Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Detroit, Michigan. This huge pipe organ was built by the Austin Organ Company of Hartford, Connecticut in March, 1894. It was the second instrument built using a system invented by John Austin and thus, is identified as an Austin Opus II. The organ is the only one of its kind left in the world.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Stained Glass Window

Once again I bring you an interior view of Sweetest Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Detroit. This window is so big I had to photograph it in two sections to be able to convey the awesome detail in it. You can get a feel for how big it is from looking at the person's head in shadow at the bottom of the photo. The window measures 60 feet high and 30 feet across and spans the south transept of the church (there is an equally awesome stained glass window of the same size with a different scene in the north transept window).

This window is called "The Holy Family". It was installed in 1893 and shows St. Joseph working in his carpenter's shop while Mary is weaving and Jesus is carrying a small cross. This window was created by the Detroit Stained Glass Works and won the main prize at the Columbian Exposition of 1893 in Chicago.

I photographed this window with my Rebel and the 17-85mm lens at a focal length of 35mm. In Photoshop I cropped a bit of the black areas off the sides of these pictures, sharpened them with the Unsharp Mask tool, and burned some of the detail back in to the blown out areas of the windows. No color correction was necessary.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Church at Christmas

This is Sweetest Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Detroit, Michigan. It's a Polish ethnic parish and one my ancestors were founding members of. Epiphany, officially January 6 but celebrated this year on Sunday January 8, marks the end of the Christmas season for the Catholic church. In most Catholic churches in America that would mark the end of the Christmas decorations. However, the Poles leave their churches decorated until Candlemas, February 2nd. In keeping with the Polish tradition, Sweetest Heart will remain decorated until Candlemas.

I had the opportunity to photograph the church this week in all its holiday splendor. You absolutely must click on this image and view it larger to truly appreciate it. This view shows sections of the main altar and the north side altar (Mary's altar).

I used a wide angle lens (17-85mm zoom) on my Rebel to get this shot and then played with the perspective/distortion controls in Photoshop to remove the lens distortion that resulted. Then I cropped the uneven edges and sharpened the image using the Unsharp Mask tool. No color correction was necessary.

More photos from Sweetest Heart to follow in the next few days.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Bird of Prey

Some days great photo ops present themselves when you're not expecting them or planning for them. Today was one of those days. We left early for church this morning for no particular reason. Good thing we did because we saw this bird on a highway light pole and had plenty of time to grab some great photos.

Do you recognize this bird? It's obviously a bird of prey, but which one? I did some searching online but couldn't figure out what it is. (Thankfully I have friends who know their birds better than I do. See below to find out what kind of bird this is.) It's a large bird as you can tell from picture below (those freeway lights are huge).

From straight on it almost looks like an owl of some sort. But from a profile view it reminds me of an eagle. But not exactly. A baby?

Here's the back view. It's a very pretty bird, isn't it?

These images were shot with my Rebel using a 55-250mm zoom lens. I had beautiful morning sun and crystal blue skies. It doesn't get better than that!

Bird species: Red tailed hawk (juvenile)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Week 1, The Stare Down

Sometimes Vladi gets the top perch and sometimes Josie gets it. Josie is getting more comfortable around Vladi and Kaj. She has the run of the house now during the day when we're around to supervise. So far there haven't been any real issues. :-)

This pic was actually from a video I made of Josie and Vladi interacting. I used the "snapshot" button in Picasa to grab the still shot.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

2012 Plan for Photography Gene

The new year of 2012 is here and with it comes a new focus for this blog. My Project 365 has ended and I'm moving forward with some different ideas I'd like to try out. I've given these ideas a good deal of thought and I feel pretty good about them. I expect some will work out better than others. But isn't that always the case?

Here, then, are my ideas and what you can expect to see on Photography Gene going forward.

Project 52 - Pets
The idea behind this concept is to post your best picture each week, on a given topic, for 52 weeks. I'm choosing the topic, "pets", and plan to share pics of not only my Josie, Vladi, and Kaj, but photos of any other pets I come across that photograph well.

How I Did It
I'm often curious, when I see a really cool photograph, how the photographer achieved that. And sometimes I look back on one of my own photographs and wonder, "how'd I get that effect?" So from time to time I'm going to post one of my photos or scrapbook pages and write about how I did it. This should be good for a laugh as my ineptitude will be revealed, lol! (I think you'll be surprised how often I revert to the "auto" setting and let the camera do all the work for me ;-)

No, not the World Wide Web! In this case the WWW stands for, Water, Weather, & Words. These are the 3 themes I'm choosing for 2012. While I reserve the right to post pics on any topic on my blog I will make a point of seeking out and sharing photos of water, weather, and words.

In Michigan you don't have go far to find water. You can't spit without hitting a lake, river, stream, pond, waterfall, fountain, or faucet. I have a real passion for photographing water. I love the colors, the patterns, and the reflections of it.

Michigan's weather is always interesting to me. We are a 4-season state and the weather provides plenty of good photo ops... fog, sunshine, rain, snow, clouds, wind... we have it all. I suspect this will prove to be the most challenging subject for me. While it's easy to find evidence of weather, it's not always easy to capture it happening in a photograph. But I'm gonna try!

Words. I like words. Words, and the letters that make them up, are my friends. I don't always think to photograph them but I'm hoping to change that this year. I'd like to incorporate more words in my photography... whether it is a photo of word, a word added to a photo, or a word made from photos, I plan to weave words and photography and hope to come up with some nice original images.

I'm hoping to post a few reviews that might be helpful to others... equipment, software, etc. I don't expect to do a lot of these but I would like to do some.

While I have lots of other ideas I'd like to work into my blog I'm going to stop with these 4. My biggest fear is that I'll over-commit and put pressure on myself. I really don't want to do that. I want this blog to be fun, just like photography is for me. And I want the timing of my posts to be natural, with no deadlines. I'll post pics as I take them and want to share them. The exception will be the Project 52. I'm going to try to have at least one pet pic on this blog each week.

Oh yeah, I'm probably going to change up the look of my blog too!

~ Jasia

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Project 365 In Review

Today's the day! Today I've completed my Project 365. :-) Yeah for me. I'm pleased to have seen this project through to completion. As expected, there were days I didn't feel like taking pictures... but not as many as I thought there'd be. There were days when I was ashamed of the picture I was posting that day... far too many of those. And there were days when I struggled with the purpose of the project... most of those were early on. I learned from this experience but I'm not sure that what I learned was what was intended by the originator of the Project 365 concept. I definitely think a review of my past year of photography is in order, so here goes.

To begin with, the goal of a "Project 365" is to get you to pick up your camera every day and take an "interesting picture", essentially forcing you to try to be creative on a daily basis. The thought being that with practice, one would become a better photographer at the end of 365 days. That sounded fun in the beginning but before long I realized that from a practical standpoint that just wasn't going to work for me. The problems were time and energy. Some days I was just too busy with other things to even think about photography. I'd find myself trying to think of something interesting to shoot at the end of the day, sometimes 11pm or later, when I all I really wanted to do was fall into bed and get some sleep. It's hard to be creative when you're just plain tired.

After struggling with how to proceed once I realized that I couldn't make time to be as creative as I liked on a daily basis, I settled on having my Project 365 be more or less a visual diary of my life for one year. This concept was a better fit, although not a perfect one. The biggest problem was that I often photograph people, people close to me... family members, neighbors, friends, etc. and I didn't feel comfortable posting their pictures on my very public blog. So what I've posted on my blog are (with a couple exceptions) the safe-to-post photos, which means I haven't shared what I consider to be some of my very best photos of the year. And my life revolves more around people than you would ever guess from the photos in my Project 365. So it doesn't really represent a day-in-my-life all that well either.

Have I become a better photographer 365 days later? You tell me. I welcome your comments and criticisms.You can take a look back at my year of photos and tell me if you think my photography has improved over the past year. I don't see it. Don't get me wrong, I like what I see. I'm proud of my photography (some of it anyway ;-) but if I compared these photos to the cream of the crop of what I shot in 2010 I don't think I'd see much improvement. On any given day/photo shoot, I'll shoot mostly average pics, a couple really good pics, and a few "schlock" pics. There have been a few times, every year, when I get to shooting something and I just know that I'm going to have a day full of really good photos... when I almost can't take a bad pic. Those days are heaven. They are exciting! They are also few and far between.

Just for the heck of it, I sat down and looked over my pics from the last 365 days and rated them as good/great or just plain schlock. My guess was that 25% of what I posted fell into the schlock category and should never have been posted publicly. When I looked over my ratings I found that I'd only placed 20% in the schlock category, so I guess I did a little better than I thought I did. But regardless, I don't want to continue on this way on this blog.

I should mention that I did learn a bit about photo-blogging. One of the main things I've learned is that as of the end of the year I have 11 loyal followers, up from 8 when I started Photography Gene a year ago, lol! That statistic was a bit sobering for me. I'm used to Creative Gene where I have 300+ loyal followers and that number continues to grow even though I don't post as regularly there as I used to. I would have thought that over the course of 365 days I would have picked up more than 3 followers... especially since this summer when Google+ was born and I started posting links to my better photos as "public". Mind you, it was never my goal to develop a greater following. I'm just surprised it didn't happen of it's own accord with time.

This would be a good time for me to thank my 11 very devoted followers! I really appreciate your thoughtful comments!!! It would have been a very lonely 365 days without you. I must admit, there were some photos I thought were worthy of comment that didn't receive any but then there were a lot of photos that I didn't think I'd get any comments on and I did. It was often a surprise to me which photos got comments and which didn't. Thank you for that element of mystery. It kept me on my toes, lol!

To wrap up, I'm going to list a few things I discovered over the course of my Project 365. I'll probably write more about these things in future posts here on this blog.

  • I like shooting butterflies.
  • My pets always offer their best poses in front of the pile of laundry I haven't folded yet and I don't want anyone to see (it's clean though, really! ;-) .
  • I never tire of shooting Lake Michigan, lighthouses, sailboats, sunsets, or my husband. If I had to pick my favorite subjects, those would be them.
  • Tripods aren't the enemy to be avoided at all costs. (I really should get a better one. They are not all created equal.)
  • New cameras are very inspirational. Everyone should get at least one every year. (I got 2 in 2011)
  • Birds, besides ducks, geese, swans, and gulls, are very tricky to photograph well. They never hold still, they prefer to be in the shade rather than in the sun, and they prefer to be in trees surrounded by branches that my camera prefers to focus on. 
  • I get bored pretty quickly with "staged" photography. 
  • If I get more than a week behind in tagging my photos I'm gonna dread the process of catching up. 
  • I don't do enough black and white photography (or post processing into black and white).
  • Someone needs to invent wall-size picture frames that have easy-opening backs so photographers can change out their pics often without having to bruise their fingers or frequently buy new frames.
  • The best camera really is the one you have with you. Some of my best and favorite pics were taken with my point & shoot camera. 
So that's it then. The Project 365 comes to an end. It's been fun. It's been challenging. It's been rewarding. I'm glad I did it and I'm glad it's done. Would I do it again? I just might. But not right now. Now I'm moving on to something different on this blog. Stay tuned!

Day 365, Happy New Year from Kaj

Kaj is happy about Michigan's win in the BCS Sugar Bowl yesterday! Hail to the Victors! Go Blue!

This is the last day of my Project 365. Whew! It's been a long year in pictures. My reflections and thoughts to come in the next post.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Day 364, Happy New Year from Vladi

Go Blue! Vladi's got the spirit for tonight's Sugar Bowl! He's rooting for the Michigan Wolverines to trounce the Virginia Tech Hokies. Isn't he just the cutest thing?

Monday, January 2, 2012

Day 363, Happy New Year from Josie

Here's little Josie girl's first appearance on this blog for 2012. You'll likely see much more of her in the days to come. :-)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Day 362, Wind's Up!

This is what Lake Michigan looks like when there's a high wind warning and the winds are coming out of the west. It was hard to hold my ground standing on the beach. We've seen some rain today but the snow hasn't started yet. Temps are falling though. It won't be long before the 6-10 inches of snow in the forecast starts to pile up.