I came, I saw…


Nelson Saw-2

 Please click on the image above to see a high res version.

 Let’s get real. No one would call this a photo. Well, at least no purist. But why not? It started out as one. And with my limited talent there is no way I could etch or engrave something like this. So why shouldn’t I avail myself of whatever means necessary to achieve my “vision”? Photo art? But why do we have to label it? I, for one, love it no matter what you might want to call it. Even if you were so rude as to unduly criticize it as an abomination, a joke, whatever, I would still love it as much. Probably even more. The post processing, to me, seems to fit the image. It takes me back to an earlier time. Before cameras. Before I was born!

Neil Gaiman, in his  keynote address to the University of the Arts Class of 2012 stated; “First of all: When you start out on a career in the arts you have no idea what you are doing.

This is great. People who know what they are doing know the rules, and know what is possible and impossible. You do not. And you should not. The rules on what is possible and impossible in the arts were made by people who had not tested the bounds of the possible by going beyond them. And you can.

If you don’t know it’s impossible it’s easier to do. And because nobody’s done it before, they haven’t made up rules to stop anyone doing that again, yet.”

In photography, as in all art, there should be no rules. Or, more correctly, there should be rules so that the truly creative know when to break them. I am not saying I am truly creative. But maybe I do enjoy a little when I go beyond the rules.

Oh, and the title? Sorry. That’s the best I could do. Saw. Get it?

For all your black and white needs, please visit Monochromia.



After-Before Friday Week 19

Prompts and Challenges


The above After image was manipulated with the current version of Perfect Effects 8 that is being offered for free. There are 10 filters I used, one on top of the other. In January of this year I had been offered a free, promotional copy and grabbed it- not really knowing what I would get, only that I would get it for free. After putting this post together, I wanted to replace these images with something that showed a flashier transformation, not so subtle a change. But I had already submitted the photos and a short paragraph to Stacy. So at the end of this, I will add two more images. After and Before.

Pond Before


I love Perfect Effects 8. At least, I loved it until I mentioned that I would do a post about it. Big mouth me! Several people have checked out the free version (upon my recommendation) and can not understand what my enthusiasm is all about. That might be because the version they currently offer for free is a stripped down version of the promotional copy I received in January.

“…  download Perfect Effects 8 Free Edition – it’s yours to keep forever! With more than 125 free photo effects, Perfect Effects 8 Free Edition gives you a great way to instantly add subtle to striking effects to your photos.” 125 free photo effects? Well, sure. I guess. If you count the sliders that affect the 9 presets that are available you might be able to come up with 125 variables. But with such reasoning, the full version I have (which normally costs $100) would give one approximately 400 to 500 free photo effects. I can not say I am very pleased with what feels like bait and switch. And I’m sure they have very good reasons for no longer offering the full version for free. After all, they are a business and I do not begrudge them making a profit.

Though Perfect Effects 8 can be used as a stand alone app, I would not recommend doing so. The image above could not be straightened, nor are there the variety of tools such as Lightroom has. What I find very much to my liking is how PE8 improves the quality of sharpness of my images. I have an inexpensive Canon kit lens that I have never been happy with. Now, I feel as if a layer of gauze (I almost said a film) has been lifted from my images or my eyes. My photos are so much crisper and cleaner now. Yes, I know I went overboard quite a bit in the beginning. And I do not promise that from time to time I might not do so again. But with two such powerful processing tools now in my arsenal, I often feel as if I must push and push and push.

And then, push a little more.

My virtual friend Justin of J.T. Avery Photography wrote: “I also took a look at the Perfect Effects 8 software and can’t help but laugh at their marketing ploy, which is the same as many other software companies. I like how they always take great shots and make them look more appealing which gives a false sense that if anyone uses this software that they can make their snapshots look like professional shots with just the click of the mouse. It would be nice if they showed some decently composed shots before processing that look kind of so-so and then apply some settings from the software that make it pop.” He gave me permission to reprint that quote by telling me: “You can quote whatever you want as long as it doesn’t make me look bad. 🙂 “

So if he looks bad, I look bad, too, because I agree with him. Up to a point. I believe that what he is describing in their advertising is a ploy practiced by all companies when promoting their product! So I really don’t fault them for that. But they do show you what can be done with their full version of Perfect Effects *, not the free version. As I said, I love Perfect Effects 8. My full version. The free version I would have a hard time endorsing!

OK, now for dessert- if I may be so bold. An original, straight from the camera, image! The real reason we ended up at Cold Creek was for the wild horses that come down from the mountains each day for food and drink.



In Lightroom I straightened the shot balanced the whites and blacks, highlights and shadows, then exported to Lightroom where I used an HDR Look filter, then a Color Enhancer filter, A Sunshine filter, and a Tone Enhancer filter. All, gobbledygook, right? Take my word for it, They all work to improve the image. Then I transferred back into Lightroom and colored the water blue then added a vignette.



So thanks Stacy  of Visual Venturing for continuing to chaperone this dance week after week and I apologize if I do not attend every week. Still, you graciously allow me to come back again and again!

The Tower


High Desert State Prison, Indian Springs NV

Please click on image to see the black and white version

Contrary to what you might be thinking right now, I am not on the inside looking out! As usual, my wife got into the act by suggesting I take a few shots of the prison off I-95 at Cold Creek Road because “that’s where OJ is!” Anyone outside the United States or younger than myself might have to Google the infamous case to fully understand what she was referring to. I was afraid that any body in the tower might think I was planning someone’s escape as I searched for the best spot from which to capture (capture?) the shot. Still, I ventured out of the car and up against the fence. The place was totally deserted- maybe because the temperature was hovering around 100 degrees even with those glorious clouds present. Anyway, to make a long story short (too late?) I found out when researching ideas for this narrative, that OJ Simpson is not incarcerated here but some 470 miles north at Lovelock Correctional Center in Northern Nevada.

Sweetheart, we are not driving there!

Please visit Monochromia for some fantastic black and white images


Shot at 6:52 am approximately 2 hours away from our home. So there!

Shot at 6:52 am approximately 2 hours away from our home one cold January morning. So there!

Please click on image to see a high res version.

I received an email from a friend today who called me a lazy photographer. Well, OK, so he wasn’t really a friend. And he didn’t actually call me by name. But he might as well have. See, I subscribe to a newsletter from Digital Photography School. They emailed me an article titled “6 Signs That You May be a Lazy Photographer” written by John Davenport. Why he would not capitalize ‘be’ and ‘a’ is beyond me. But his “Sign #3 – You’re full of excuses” states: “Everything from sunrise being too early, to the weather being too cold, to your tripod being too heavy sets you back from someone who’s willing to go the extra mile to make the shot. Stop making excuses and get out and make photos instead.”  Just so you know, I have gone out several times before dawn to photograph the rising sun. I have, also, never complained of it being too cold- I can handle the cold. In fact I love the cold. It’s the heat I can’t stand. Must be the Latin blood but I sweat like a stuffed pig (I know, a not very attractive image). And my tripod is not a Manfrotto but it is not too heavy for my wife to carry. She’s a good woman. I think I’ll keep her. As long as she’ll have me!

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge- Buildings

Gallery, Prompts and Challenges


In Italian, Palazzo means palace, so maybe I am just so overwhelmed by the Bellagio and Encore and Paris hotels that I do not understand why this one was named The Palace. They couldn’t even use English, as if the Italian makes it more exclusive. I much prefer the Econo-Lodge not far from my home, when visiting dignitaries (my uncles, aunt, and cousins) come to visit. (Econo-Lodge in Italian is Lodge Economico)!

Please visit Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge for more buildings.



Gallery, Prompts and Challenges

Love black and white images ? Visit Monochromia – http://groupexpo.wordpress.com



Please click on the image for a high res version.

One of the many ruins that dot the Mojave National Preserve. Situated close to the edge of a huge sandy area named the Devil’s Playground – dunes and salt flats that stretch over 40 miles and merge with several dry lake beds around Baker, CA. Kelso is a small settlement that looks as if it has been largely unchanged for many years. The town is built around a large Spanish-style building; formerly a railway depot. It now contains the Mojave National Preserve visitor center. Kelso once had a population of 2,000, and was at one time both an important railway stop, providing water for steam trains on the Los Angeles – Salt Lake City route, and a center for iron ore mining, but is now nearly empty.

Please visit Photos By Emilio for more of my work in color as…

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After Before Friday – Week 17

Prompts and Challenges




Please click on image to see a high res version

The weather service called for a 30% chance of rain.  Coming in from the South west were individual puffy white clouds that had changed to a dark gray blanket by the time we were ready. We drove North, trying to get ahead of the storm, looking for patches of sun breaking through. The best we could do was about an hour north called Cold Creek, a few miles passed the Paiute Indian Reservation. My wife took the camera- set on automatic- and stepped out of the car to take this shot. The above photo is what she saw.

This image below is what the camera saw!

Cold Creek 1

 From the camera, I downloaded the before image into Lightroom and performed my usual work flow- adjusting the highlights, shadows, whites, and blacks. This time there was no cropping to the image. I brought it into Perfect Effects 8 (free software that I recently discovered and will discuss within the next two weeks) to add overall color enhancements and sharpening. Then back to Lightroom to add highlight effects upon the rocks and fence and mountains in the background. Then a post  vignette effect.

I have also converted the After image to black and white as an after After extra.

Cold Creek 2ASo, as always, please stop by Stacy’s Visual Venturing for more post processing hints.

And please visit Monochromia for some exciting black and white!

Make Mistakes

Gallery, Prompts and Challenges

Nipton Heat

“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes…you’re Doing Something.” ~~ Neil Gaiman

Yes, I know the image might seem over processed to most. Some will like it, others will detest it. Maybe detest is too strong a word. It will not be quite their cup of tea. My point is that you have to stretch yourself, don’t be afraid of what you might find or create! Or what others might say of you! That’s the secret. Maybe you’ll discover something new. Or something old that people had forgotten. Make mistakes!

When you have a moment, please visit  Monochromia.