Reds In Black & White

This is the same one I posted yesterday, just in black and white. Of all the things I’ve played with in the new Photoshop, the ability to tweak color levels to effect the tones when going to black and white is one of my favorites (along with the HDR toning). It allows a little more control over what works and what doesn’t and gives a phenomenal level of control over contrast, but in subtle ways.

It’s fun to go in and see what you can push and the kinds of results you can get playing with that feature. I’ve only done a couple so far, but I love the results.

Rusty Red Iris

For some reason, I only have a couple of these and they are randomly placed, not clustered like all my other irises.

They are also a pain in the butt to photograph because the color almost never comes out correctly. There is something about my camera and accurately rendering reds that I haven’t quite gotten the hang of. This is where Photoshop becomes my friend. Unless of course, your monitor isn’t the same as mine, then who the hell knows what color you are seeing. This fact is a major point of frustration for me.

Yesterday, MC took his last remaining AP final (AP Calculus) and is officially done with all high school work. He has to go to the school next week to turn in equipment and books, pick up any honor sashes/cords for graduation and then make it to the ceremony scheduled for the end of July, but he is absolutely done with high school now.

Yesterday also brought news that we are probably looking at the new normal for our household, at least through the end of summer as Hubby will not be going back into the office until then at the earliest.

I’ve said before that for the most part, things around here feel much like they would around the holidays when Hubby is on vacation and everyone is home. While we are now well past the longest everyone has been at home at the same time and it still mostly feels that way, it is going to be interesting to see if it continues to feel that way.

After he got the word that this will extend (so damn grateful he works where he does), I joked around that I’m going to have to find some projects to work on in my studio so I have an “escape” from time to time. If I think about it, it is going to be a kind of test to see how well we handle retirement. The only real difference will be that the kids are still at home.

I’m seeing news of some universities saying at least the fall semester classes are going to be online only, but we haven’t heard anything along those lines from MC’s school yet. He is a little worried because there are certain requirements for his scholarship that he has to meet that, as of right now, requires in person interaction. It is also the requirement that he live on campus his first year. I’ve told him that I’m sure the school will make sure that whatever steps they take, it isn’t going to impact his scholarship. It is one of the very many things on the “wait and see” list.

He didn’t really stress about ending high school from home. The most stress he has really shown over the last couple of months was studying for his AP exam. With news about other schools starting to pop up, he is beginning to stress about what will or won’t happen in the fall.

It really does not help one bit that we live in an area that really hasn’t been hit yet. I’m 100% sure that a big part of the small number of cases in our area is because we have local leaders that stepped up fast and hard before it could and it did amazing things to slow down the spread. Sadly, with the push for things to start opening back up, we are going to see those numbers start to spike and everything that has current, tentative plans to happen will most likely change when that spike starts, so it is impossible to think anything will be as it looks right now.

We aren’t even close to being anywhere near out of the woods yet.

From The Top

Hubby ended up taking a vacation day yesterday. In part so he could get a lot of errands run that he needed to do, including going with me to get some flowers, and to get some much needed work done in the yard.

The trip out was interesting and frustrating to say the least. I only went to Home Depot with the plan to only stay in the outdoor section. Apparently, that isn’t allowed because you cannot enter that area. You have to go through the main door so that you can be counted. You can leave through the outdoor section, but you can’t come in that way. Instead, you are being forced to potentially come in contact with even more people by going through the main entrance before you can access the outdoor section.

If I were to estimate, maybe only 25% of the people there were wearing masks, including those working (this from a company that touts providing PPE for all employees, but they apparently don’t require they actually wear any). One of the non-mask wearing workers was coughing like crazy the whole time we were there. Another group was a woman and her 4 kids that looked like high school age all the way down to maybe 3rd grade, none wearing masks or understanding the concept of personal space, let alone stay 6 feet apart.

There are reasons I’ve opted to let Hubby do all the running. This trip didn’t convince me to change my mind. On the plus side, my masks are actually really comfortable and fit extremely well so there was no fidgeting needed which made me feel so much better.

I wasn’t able to get everything that I was hoping to find, sadly. I was able to get what I needed to fill my pots. I also picked up a small lavender plant to go in the ground and a pot of pretty dianthus that will also go in one of my beds somewhere.

When I was looking at the lavender, I spotted the strawberry plants. I have only ever tried growing them once years ago when I had the space, but decided to grab a few on a whim for BG as she absolutely LOVES strawberries. That and I thought it would be fun for her. Between those a few packets of seeds (lettuce, spinach and shasta daisies) that rounded out my trip.

BG was excited to get her strawberries and helped me get EVERYTHING planted. At least the potted ones as I didn’t get the in ground ones done yesterday. It was such a huge help and I loved the fact that she had so much fun. She is a little giddy at the idea that she is getting to grow and take care of her own strawberries, so that was an amazing impulse buy on my part.

I was glad to get my pots taken care of, but I was really disappointed that I couldn’t find everything I wanted. I could go to one of the nurseries if they are open (and around here I really don’t know if they are), but I’m really not sure it is worth it at this point. I did look into ordering some of those things, but didn’t find a site that had what I was looking for (in part because of things not quite being in season). I may dig a little deeper and see if I can locate at least a few things online.

In the mean time, I’ll be watching to see if my seeds come up. I’ve never grown lettuce or spinach myself, so that is going to be a lot of fun.

Pale Purple Iris

This particular iris is interesting because I have two that are near each other and almost the same color, except this one is a little bit paler. The other one’s color is more even and doesn’t lean towards white on the lower petals. The differences are extremely subtle and you wouldn’t notice them unless you were right up on them. I’m not certain if they are the same but presenting different for some reason, or if they are actually different types that just look very much alike.

In all, if you count these as two different ones, I think I have 4 different purple classic irises. I have a dark purple, a medium purple and these two different pale purple ones. The dark has several buds on it and will be open soon. The medium are still a ways off.

I have a few other colors and a siberian iris that are also still a ways off. The ones that are currently open are my white, the purple and cream, the pale purple, my one rust colored one and the dual color mauve/rusty one that photographs amazingly well (have yet to post a photo of that one this season).

I so desperately want to go and get some more flowers to plant, because these aren’t going to last long, but… I’m just not sure if I’m desperate enough. Hubby suggested I go early morning during the week, so I’m considering it. The area I live in is still relatively untouched by the virus, so the risk is lower than in a lot of areas. That is the only reason I’m even considering it. Whatever I decide, it won’t be over the weekend. Not with Mother’s day tomorrow. That isn’t a crowd I want to even contemplate.

White Iris & MC Day

Today is MC’s official last day of high school, the end of a huge phase of his life up until now. Under normal circumstances, it would feel like a big, sharp end with him having done all the normal things that would lead up to this moment.

The district would normally have the students wear their caps and gowns and walk through their grade and middle schools, high fiving the younger kids and seeing old teachers. There would be the expected build up of excitement among the students, the kind you could hear and feel just walking through the halls. Kids planning parties and celebrations. Some even participating in a senior skip day or a prank (some not always well thought out).

This year, instead of a bright, distinct end with seniors walking out the doors of the high school for the last time, it has felt more like senior year has dissipated and just faded out to nothing while they sat alone at home. Spring break became indefinite, followed by a scramble to finish presenting needed material in an online format so that those seniors were still prepared to take their final exams for any dual credit classes or their AP tests.

Not a single traditional event has been able to be held. I actually saw a T-shirt that kind of said it all…

Senior Skip Day Champions, Class of 2020.

It is an attempt to laugh at something that isn’t all that funny and so incredibly difficult for a lot of young people.

For MC, he has done an amazing job of just going with the flow. I cannot begin to express how proud I am of him for weathering this as well as he has. I know that a lot of seniors are really having a hard time and my heart hurts for them.

My kid is just the typical introvert and is often happier at home playing his games, so, for the most part, this isn’t that much different from what he would have been doing. He is missing his friends, but they have made the time to do some gaming together online.

I’ll be spending the day putting together MC’s favorite finger foods and we have both Deadpool movies waiting to be watched. It may not be what many would think of as a great celebration to close out his high school career, but it is exactly the kind of thing he loves, so that is what we will be doing.

I still have to come up with a plan for his graduation, something that is still on the calendar but can change at any moment. Considering he will be graduating with honors, I refuse to let that moment pass without something to mark it, no matter what is going on in the world.

For now, we are making it MC day and marking the end of this massive stage in his life. If you know a senior, high school or college, take a moment or 10 to celebrate them and how incredibly odd and extra emotional the ending of this time is for them., even if they are as laid back about it as MC is.

More Playing

I wanted to play again just to see if I could do another one that came out as cool as the first. I’m wondering if that first was a fluke or just the perfect image for what I did, because I haven’t been able to get another one to look nearly as good. I still prefer doing basic color adjustments like going with a desaturated look or to black and white. This one is more along the lines of the desaturated, but also with a sepia filter.

Here is the original.

Purple & Cream Iris
Purple & Cream Iris

Manipulated Rusty Iris

Normally I don’t touch my photos with the exception of a little adjustments on color or lighting if the image I take doesn’t come out quite on par with what I saw or a little cropping. Every once in a while, I’ll make one black and white or even just reduce the color saturation. Overall, though, I just don’t mess with them as I’m not a huge fan of artistic manipulations. Some are really cool, but it isn’t what I personally want out of my images.

That said, I felt like playing. The result is by no means super amazing, but I did think it was interesting. I love the grainy look and feel of really old photos as well as their sepia tones and this kind of has a similar feel. Like I said, this was just for fun and it came out interesting.

Here is the original.

Rain Kissed Rusty Iris
Rain Kissed Rusty Iris

Pale Purple Iris

My Iris are almost done for the year. I’m lucky I was able to get the photos I did as the rain and wind did a number on them. I had one dark purple Iris that was blooming for a day that I managed to get a picture of that day and it was on the ground by the following morning after a storm. I’ll have Lilies soon, but I don’t have nearly enough flowering plants in my yard. That may have to change this summer.

Rain Speckled Iris

I have Irises blooming. Not all of them yet, but a few. I love the color variations in this one. It is so vivid and eye catching. Irises are some of my favorite to photograph because there are so many different interesting parts, especially once you get close. Fair warning, there will be lots more Iris images in the days to come, when I’m not going insane getting things done in prep for recital or running BG to a million events.

Iris Bud

Yesterday was… a day. When I wasn’t on the computer, most everything was good. I got some really cool pics and that made me really happy. Getting on the computer and internet… well, that just pricked at my patience and irritated the hell out of me. So much so, I felt like turning this blog into a giant rantfest and changing the name to The Cranky Old Hag. Obviously I didn’t, but the temptation was still very much there because that is pretty much how I felt. Instead I walked away and picked up a book instead, which wasn’t actually that easy and was part of the desire to scream.

So this morning I was faced with the choice. Feed the cranky old hag or do something that made me happy. I’m going with happy. And pretty. So, here is a purple Iris bud for you. Choose happy today.