Tag Archives: New Year

A Time For Reflection – In So Many Ways

Little Tree In The Window

Little Tree in The South Window, Arches National Park, Utah

I may very well have posted this image back in 2013, which is when it was captured. *This* image, however, is a reworked version and looks much better than the original. That’s not to say it looks different from what I actually saw when I took the photograph. It’s simply to say that this image produces *more* of what I saw and how I saw it. It’s true, the camera captures all of the data, but one may not necessarily see it from the outset, depending upon the original camera settings.
 
This, in turn, leads me to some thoughts regarding photography, the end of the year, and life, in general.
 
As each year draws to a close and people start looking toward the new year, it’s a tradition (or maybe just an assumption), that we will all review the old year, attempt to draw some conclusions from our experiences over that year, and make room for improvements during the new year.
 
In my case, I’ve got a number of conclusions and planned improvements.  For those of you non-photographers who read this, simply substitute “photography” for whatever it is you love doing (dancing, drawing, painting, writing, making jewelry, cooking, etc.)
 
1. I have improved my photo editing talents over this past year. Thankfully. This is because I continue to try and learn from others, either through reading, experimentation, or purchasing and downloading how-to videos. Example: I probably would have never learned how to use (or at least, correctly use) Photoshop’s Layers had I not started reviewing a set of videos from photographer Chip Phillips. I’d been reading about layers, but it all sounded so damned difficult. Chip is, without a doubt, one of my favorite photographers (ok, I really like Kevin McNeal, too), and his videos were a priceless learning tool for me. I also do alot of looking on Flickr for motivation as well as different ways to capture an image. I’ve been doing quite a bit of looking regarding panoramas, because I don’t have much experience capturing shots and creating panoramas from those shots, and I want to be able to do that. The message I want *you* photographers out there to get from this, is that you must continue to learn and experiment with your work. When I do my own browsing of other photographer’s Facebook pages or Flickr accounts, I see many with great potential, but they seem to be stuck in a rut. I look at their images and see potential that is there, but not unearthed because they didn’t try working with shadows, highlights, saturation, and all the other neat tools Photoshop or their preferred photo editor offers, that would bring a little special “oomph” or “wow” factor to their image. Sometimes, you just need to experiment for yucks and giggles and then see what comes of it.
 
2. I still don’t know a lot of things about photography or the business side of photography. And I *know* I don’t know this. So I need to make it my business to know what I don’t know. It’s the only way I am ever going to evolve from a semi-pro to a pro, in terms of business savvy as well as making a little more money with my shots. I recently was asked for an estimate (aka quote) on one of my images to be used on a product that will be mass-produced in a relatively small quantity. Now, I could have just sent a quick email with what I *think* would be a fair price, but that would have no way helped me at all. So, I’ve been sitting down and learning the business side of photography, including how to negotiate, how to set up a business (do I want to be an LLC, an S-Corporation, etc), the different licenses a client can purchase from me, and what kind of price is a fair price (there’s a great software program out there called fotoQuote that I and the authors of some books I’ve been reading highly recommend). These are just a few items. There is so much to learn, and it’s not all fun, believe me. But, for my future as a more serious photographer trying to pay my bills with my work, this is necessary and quite interesting, actually.
 
3. Life is going to get a little more interesting/challenging for me in 2018. I could say it will get “scarier” for me, but that would be the wrong mindset. So, I intend to be positive about it, as it will jump start me in a new direction. You see, the day job I have is planning layoffs in about 3 weeks. I’m not sure whether I’ll be kept or let go, but I have to make my contingency plans. I’m too young to collect social security and I really need to work a few more years before I feel I can retire within relative comfort (I’m gonna miss the company health insurance, since I’m too young for Medicare, and, under the present administration, may never be able to collect Medicare). So, my contingency plans include such things as updating my LinkedIn profile and re-writing my resume … something I haven’t done in 20 years! Oh, I also need to get better at selling myself at my age. Even though older people have experience, they sometimes are set in their ways and not quite as adaptable as the current generation; this is evidenced in the out-of-work coal miners who will probably never get their jobs back, but either are afraid to or simply don’t want to try and learn something new and adapt to today’s environment. 2018 will, in all eventuality, see me moving back out West, from where I originally came. Suits me. I never liked where I live but was here for my aging parents (now gone) and the job (possibly to be gone sooner rather than later). And I live farther away than desired from what is left of my family. Losing my current job will simply be a kick in the butt to jump start my new future. It’s going to be stressful, especially since I’m 20 years older than when I first moved to Texas. Making a big move from one part of the country to another is considered a life event. There is so much to plan for (packing, moving, looking for a new place to live, finding a job – and not necessarily in that order). That’s not going to stop me from achieving a life goal, though. Ever since my family moved from the mountains of Montana down to the southern part of the U.S., I made it a dream/desire/goal to move back to the mountains. And I *will* do it.
 
3. Family is more important than you might realize. I know, there are families out there that are horrible, and their children are better off distancing themselves from toxic situations. But for those with loving family relationships, here’s some advice: As your parents get older, they are going to need your help and your company. Living a great distance away from them may be ok when you are in your 20s and your parents are still in good health, but you are going to need to be prepared to make some difficult and necessary life choices as your parents age and their health diminishes. They may need someone to run errands for them, or cook for them or just keep them company when they are lonely. Don’t be the one to feel guilty after they are dead, wishing woulda-coulda-shoulda. Visit them as often as you can. When you can’t visit, call them. Doesn’t matter if you don’t have much to say. Your parents will be thrilled you called and they will generally fill up the silence with their own stuff. Trust me on this one.
 
4. Keep reading and keep learning. And not just about photography. I’m lucky in that I had a great education and a supportive network which originally instilled in me the desire to learn and continue learning. It begins early, folks: start reading to your kids. Now. Even if they are toddlers. Hell, even if they are babies. Read to them and instill in them the love of books and knowledge. I know a person who has younger relatives and those kids hate school and hate reading. They were never read to when they were little – probably because their own parents and relatives never liked reading because nobody ever read to them. So, the fires of curiosity and learning were never stoked. It’s a vicious circle. I have a great-niece who is reading at 4 grades above her current level, and a great-nephew who is reading at about the same speed as his sister. They both love books. My great-nephew, in particular,enjoys books about science and interesting facts about animals, space, food, you name it. My youngest great-niece also loves being read to.  She will often ask her parents (or Grammy) to read the same book over and over to her several times before she goes to sleep.  Their parents read to them and have always taken the time to answer their questions or help them find the answers to their questions. Be that parent.
 
4. Put down your damned smartphone. Talk to the people you are with. If traveling, look around you and stop thinking you need to send every little photograph to Facebook/Instagram/Twitter right at that moment. Take time to really *look*. Savor the view, the experiences, the fresh air, the smells of the environment, the interesting people, and the adventure of it all. And for fun, if you see someone walking along with their nose in their smartphone, stand still and see if they even know there is someone in front of them. Oh, and DON’T TEXT AND DRIVE. Beyond stupid.
 
5. Plan NOW. For whatever: a future trip, your college education, your 401(k). Half the fun (and half the learning) is in the planning.  It’s also prudent to start planning for something like your kid’s college education sooner rather than later.
 
6. Summon your courage to travel solo at least once in 2018. It’s a wonderful, freeing, sometimes scary, but always educational experience. Put away old mindsets, old worries, old prejudices. That doesn’t mean you should throw caution to the wind. Safety is always of paramount importance. But step out of that cocoon for just a little bit and experience a whole wide world (not a flat world, but a round world governed by the law of gravity).
 
7. It’s ok if you like living alone. It’s ok if you don’t like to be around people that much. It’s ok if you like animals better than humans. It’s ok if you would rather read than go shopping or go to a party. It’s ok if you don’t ever want to marry. It’s ok if you don’t ever want kids. Don’t let anybody else’s expectations infringe upon what you want to do with your own life. Don’t let anybody bully you or force you to do something with your life that you feel is wrong. Remember, it’s your life. I stopped watching “Say Yes To The Dress” because it used to drive me nuts that the bride (and it’s HER wedding) would get so upset that her parents/relatives/friends hated her wedding dress pick so they would try and choose HER dress for her.  Be brave and do your own choosing for yourself.  Don’t let others do it for you.
 
I guess that’s it. I’m sure I’ll think of other things, but since I thought of these first, then they are probably the most important.
 
Happy Festivus.
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Filed under Events, Life, Photography, Seasons

Happy New Year, London – It’s 2016!

Happy New Year From London

My last post described my New Year’s Eve experience in London.  This post shows you the results.  The fireworks display lasted around 11 minutes. I used my Canon 1DX and 16-35mm f/4L IS lens, set the ISO to 5000, shutter to 1/50 of a second, aperture was f/4 and I just left it at that for these photos.  I had to use some noiseware (Imagenomic) reduction software during the editing phase.

Happy New Year London 2-15-2016Happy New Year UK 2016Happy New Year UK 2016Happy New Year UK 2016Happy New Year UK 2016Happy New Year Longon 2-15-2016Happy New Year UK 2016Happy New Year London 2-15-2016Happy New Year London 2-15-2016Happy New Year London 2-15-2016Happy New Year London 2-15-2016Happy New Year London 2016Happy New Year London 2016Happy New Year London 2016Happy New Year London 2-15-2016

Some of these images bring to mind an abstract painting.  All of these images bring to mind an incredible event.

 

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Filed under 1DX, Canon, Canon Lens, holiday, London, New Year, Night Photography, Photography, Travel, Travel and Photography, Uncategorized, Vacation

Countdown to 2016

Countdown

I can’t remember if I mentioned this in a previous post or not (without going back and re-reading my posts), but the main reason I took a December vacation to London was because I saw a photo, earlier in the year, of the 2015 fireworks over the London Eye. I was so taken with that image that, as a photographer, I knew I had to be right there for the 2016 fireworks.

In case you aren’t aware, they now ticket this event (£10), and if you don’t have a ticket to present at the event, you don’t get in.  After I’d purchased and received my ticket to the Embankment (blue) section, it turns out the hotel at which I stayed bestowed to its guests wrist bands to the same section, lol.  I definitely was assured entrance to the event.

I spent about 45 minutes waiting my turn to go through security at the first checkpoint, and then went through a couple more checkpoints before being lucky enough to squeeze in between a Chinese tourist on one side and a family from the Midlands on the other.  I then waited 4 hrs 15 minutes in that same spot (no, I never once felt like I had to pee, thank goodness).  I could feel the press of the crowd behind me.  I had a nice visit (should I say “chat” instead?) with the young lady behind me and the father of the family beside me.

Color On The ThamesColor On The Thames

During the long, chilly wait, a kaleidoscope of colors kept splashing against the London Eye and the buildings beside that iconic landmark.

A Line Of Lit Smartphones

At one point, to keep the crowd from getting too restless (remember, it was a 4-hour wait), the speaker challenged us all to turn on our smartphones and show the bright screen to the sky and the BBC helicopter.  To the right of the London Eye in the image above is a line of bright smartphones all along Westminster Bridge.

And then, the countdown …

OneHappy New Year London 2016Happy New Year London 2016

The show was INCREDIBLE!  And I was right there in front, taking it all in.  I can’t describe what a cool feeling that was – all I can say is that every time I stare into space and think about the fireworks, my smile gets wider and wider.  When I do this at work, people wonder what the hell is going on with me (grin).

Oh, and that white semi-circle you see in the mid-left portion of the photos:  that’s the waning gibbous moon.

Happy New Year London 2016

I’d capture a series of photos with my Canon 1DX and 16-35mm f/4L IS lens, then take the camera away and drink the experience in with my eyes, then take some more photos.  I did this for the next 10-11 minutes as the fireworks and music and cheers and ooohs and ahhs carried on around me.  At one point, I remember looking down at the young son of the family next to me standing a little bit in front of me, who in turned looked up at me to see me with wide eyes and a silly grin on my face as I watched this spectacular pyrotechnic display.

These photos are just the start.  I captured a gazillion different fireworks images that I’ll publish in the next blog post (ok, maybe not all gazillion of them, but a few).

Happy New Year, London and Everybody!

 

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Filed under 1DX, Canon, holiday, London, New Year, Night Photography, Photography, Travel, Travel and Photography, Uncategorized

2014: A Year In Review for Rebecca Latson Photography

New Year Becky Camera Glass

Recently, I’ve noticed a number of “Year In Review” blog posts and articles on other sites popping up, so I figured it must be about time for me to publish my own photographic review of the year.

2014 has, indeed, been quite a year for me photographically.  I traveled to and photographed 4 different national parks, 2 airshows, an engagement photo session, 3 weddings, a chamber choir, performers at the Texas Renaissance Festival, the annual migration of ruby-throated hummingbirds into my part of southeast Texas, my Christmas tree with its decorations and bright lights, and I wrote 12 new articles for the National Parks Traveler. It was all great fun, even though I managed to completely destroy two of my favorite Canon lenses, so now I must rent until I can purchase replacements.  Following are examples of my 2014 photography experiences.

The View Along Lost Mine Trail

The view along Lost Mine Trail during a late-April visit to Big Bend National Park, Texas

Strawberry Pitaya Bloom

A strawberry pitaya cactus bloom alongside the Mule Ears Viewpoint trail, Big Bend National Park, Texas

Dipping His Bride

Kyle and Adrienne – the first of 3 weddings

Bride and Groom in Front of The Alamo VIGNETTE

Kevin and Amber – the second of 3 weddings

The Bride and Groom Outside

John (Avery) and Jennifer – the third of the 3 weddings

Bringing In FiFi

Bringing in FiFi, the worlds only  B29 “superfortress” still flying (CAF Air Power History Tour, Dallas, Texas)

Becky Bill and the Stearman

Becky, Bill, and the Stearman Bill piloted:  my acrobatic ride in this plane was the bomb! (CAF Air Power History Tour, Dallas, Texas)

SB2C-5 Helldiver

The SB2C Helldiver at the Wings Over Houston Airshow

Shockwave Jet Truck

The Shockwave Jet Truck at the Wings Over Houston Airshow

The Blue Angels

The Blue Angels at the Wings Over Houston Airshow

Side By Side and Upside Down

Upside Down and Side-By-Side, the Blue Angels at the Wings Over Houston Airshow

The Rising Sun

The rising sun during the sunrise photoshoot at the Wings Over Houston Airshow

Sunrise on the B17G Texas Raiders

The Texas Raiders B17 during the sunrise photo shoot at the Wings Over Houston Airshow

Sunday Morning With A Stearman

Taking a break in front of a Stearman during the sunrise photo shoot at the Wings Over Houston Airshow

A Strip of Gold

A strip of sunlight during a Chugach Mountains morning in Alaska, near Anchorage

Morning Reflection on Nugget Pond - VERT

Sunrise and moonset over Nugget Pond and Mt. McKinley (aka Denali), Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska

Big Momma

Watching me in Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, Alaska

Yellow-Headed Beach Babe

Yellow-headed beach babe in Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, Alaska

Kilaueas Glow

 Kilauea’s glow at 3:30 AM, Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park

The View Beyond The Rainforest

Looking down the trail to Kilauea Iki, Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park

Backlit Wings of Gold

Back-lit ruby-throat

Backlit Ruby Throat

 Juvenile ruby-throated hummingbird

Kings Feasthall Group Photo

The cast, crew and staff of the King’s Feast at the Texas Renaissance Festival

Pride O Bedlam Onstage

The Pride O Bedlam Pirates onstage at the Sea Devil Tavern, Texas Renaissance Festival

The Cannibal Tudors

The Cannibal Tudors onstage at the Sea Devil Tavern, Texas Renaissance Festival

Opening Toast

Opening toast at the King’s Winetasting, Texas Renaissance Festival

Haley Pouring Red

Haley Welsh Wine pouring the red at the King’s Winetasting, Texas Renaissance Festival

Becky at the Kings Winetasting

Mixing business with pleasure at the King’s Winetasting, Texas Renaissance Festival

Bringing Iin The Meat

Bringing in the meat at the King’s Feasthall, Texas Renaissance Festival

Bringing Out The Mugs

Handing out the mugs at the King’s Feasthall, Texas Renaissance Festival

Chicken on A Sword

Chicken on a “stick”, King’s Feasthall, Texas Renaissance Festival

Portrait of Katia

Katia in purple, Gypsy Dance Theatre, Texas Renaissance Festival

Alla

Twirling Alla, Gypsy Dance Theatre, Texas Renaissance Festival

Kira

Kira in blue, Gypsy Dance Theatre, Texas Renaissance Festival

Zaras Sword Dance

Zara’s balancing act, Gypsy Dance Theatre, Texas Renaissance Festival

Tsura

Tsura and her violin, Gypsy Dance Theatre, Texas Renaissance Festival

Red Gold Blue

Red, gold and blue fairies at the Texas Renaissance Festival

Christmas Becky2

Christmas Becky playing with the lights, decorations, her Canon 1DX and the 85mm f1.2 lens

Christmas Cozy

A small, cozy home with a beautiful Christmas tree

Christmas Colors

Christmas colors

2015 is shaping up for what I hope will be an interesting year.  I won’t be traveling to any national parks, probably, due to a 2-week trip to Paris and Normandy (plane ticket purchased, friends in Paris notified, and maps and guidebooks to Normandy open for research), some planned elective surgery recuperation time, and saving that remaining week of vacation for any emergencies that may occur during the year.  If I make it to December with that extra week still intact, then I definitely plan on traveling *somewhere* for Christmas – staying home in Texas for the holidays is not my cup of tea, I’m afraid.  Of *course* you will read about my Paris/Normandy trip; part of that involves retracing my WW II paratrooper father’s route when he jumped over Normandy on D-Day (In June, I’ll post the story he wrote about his D-Day experiences).  As for the rest of 2015, well, that’s still a work in progress.

So, how did *your* 2014 turn out?  Got any plans for 2015?

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to all of you and to WordPress, too!

 

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Filed under Canon, Holidays, New Year, Photography

My Wish For You This 2014

Becky At Sotol Vista

So, yesterday’s short blog was a “Happy New Year” post.  Today’s post is a “what I wish for you (and for me) in 2014” short blog.

I posted this image of me at the Sotol Vista overlook of Big Bend National Park, Texas, because it represents all of the expansiveness of photography that I wish for you as well as myself.

I hope that 2014 brings many photographic possibilities your way.  And I hope that your camera gear is all fresh, ready and repaired (I just received a bill from the Canon Service Center for work on my 1-DX…..a bit of a surprise but I should have expected a pricey repair for a pricey camera – ahem).

I hope you get to travel more, see more exciting lands / people / vistas, capture more weddings / portraits / portfolios / events, or whatever it is that you enjoy photographing the most.

I hope to hear from you out there as to what your photographic aspirations are for this 2014.  Got any trips planned?  Wedding sessions reserved?  Contests to enter? Other photographic resolutions?

To all of you from me: Happy 2014!

Becky At The Window Overlook

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Filed under Big Bend, Blogging, Holidays, National Parks, New Year, Photography, Travel

Here’s To The New Year!

H5T8962_Beckys Two Friends

2012 ended for me on a high note:  I spent a wonderful White Christmas with my sister, brother-in-law, and all of their assorted kids and grandkids.  While I was there, I photographed a beautiful wedding of two awesome people.  I’ve been published, both photographically and in written form (a dream come true for me).  I’ve traveled to some neat places like Seattle, Mount Rainier National Park, Mesa Verde National Park, and Arches National Park.  I’m still employed.   I have neat camera gear.  I have some great friends.  And, I have a family who I love very much, and who loves me.  Of course there have been low points, but that’s a given for everybody.  The high points outweighed any low points, that’s for sure.

So here’s to a New Year that I hope will be every bit as great as this year has been.  I have a trip already  planned and paid for in February, another trip in the works, a possible new venture about which I am keeping my fingers crossed, and more columns to publish in the National Parks Traveler website.

I wish all of you the very best for 2013, and I hope that your dreams come to fruition and you have a year filled with love, contentment, happiness, and success.

From me to you:

HAPPY NEW YEAR!! Open-mouthed smile

H5T0462_Happy New Year

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Filed under Holidays, Life, New Year, Photography

Good Food Is A Good Way To Start The New Year

Nothing says “Celebration” better than great food.  Nothing says “Holiday” better than a traditional meal.  So naturally, I had some photographic fun with our New Year’s Day lunch.

Every New Year’s Day, the traditional meal in my family consists of black-eye peas cooked in ham juice with chunks of ham (The peas represent money in the form of loose change),

boiled cabbage cooked in a little ham juice and liberally sprinkled with little pepper flakes (The cabbage represents money in the form of paper dollars),

and cornbread (the non-sweet kind over which we spoon the peas and ham).

Homemade pickled beets were a side dish accompanying this year’s meal

and I fixed French vanilla cupcakes with milk chocolate frosting.

Nothing beats a boxed cake mix (I’m serious!).  There are even a series of cook books out there (I have most of them) by The Cake Mix Doctor that uses the basic boxed cake mixes and embellishes upon them.  Cakes from a box mix always come out moist and tender (IMO).

Everything else is icing on the cake (pun intended).

Happy New Year, Everybody!!

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Filed under food, Holidays, Photography