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The Ferrari Impostor

February 22nd, 2024

The Ferrari Impostor

The image that I posted for this week’s challenge was what I thought was a photograph of a Ferrari. I’m not familiar with expensive automobiles so I was fascinated that a Ferrari would be parked in a Golden Corral parking lot.

After taking several photographs with my cell phone we went home and I promptly forgot about those photos until I uploaded them to my computer.

Imagine my surprise when I started researching Ferraris to learn which model this particular car might be and discovered that the car with the Ferrari emblems that I had photographed was actually a General Motors Saturn Sky!

The owner of the car had replaced all of the Saturn emblems with Ferrari emblems. A real auto aficionado would most likely have known immediately that the Saturn was not a Ferrari and I bet the owner had many a laugh watching people photographing his car thinking that it was an expensive luxury sports car built in Italy.

Knock off luxury goods are all around us. Purses, shoes, cars and electronics often have a luxury brand name or emblem on them. How often are we fooled by those emblems? Having that emblem does not necessarily mean that the object is “the real thing” with the high quality that the name brand promises. We need to look at all aspects of the object to determine if it is genuine or an impostor.

Could my experience with the Ferrari Impostor possibly be a life lesson on a deeper level?

I’ll let you chew on that food for thought while I process another photograph of the Impostor!

Less Is More

February 15th, 2024

Less Is More

The challenge image that I posted this week was taken in the morning after a winter storm a few weeks ago. There are only a few items in the photograph but it seems that there is actually as much or more to see or wonder about than many photographs that are full of detail.

One of my fellow Fine Art America members commented about the footprints in the snow that are barely visible in the background. She was intrigued wondering who those footprints belonged to and what was that person doing walking in that snow. Where were they going?

It turns out that in this particular case, less is more. Would my fellow photographer have noticed those footprints if there had been more detail in the image? Would the photograph have been as thought provoking?

Thinking about this made me wonder how much we might miss in life when our lives are so full and busy that there’s no time to really stop, look and wonder about what is right in front of us.

The popular Tiny House movement is about downsizing. Downsizing and de-cluttering systems are about living a simpler life. A life with less “stuff”, less rushing around and less stress.

Would you find it less stressful to live by the motto Less Is More?

Would having less material items help you to lead a more relaxed life?

Would having more time to spend with family, friends or in nature lead you to a less stressful life?

Would living with less bring you more?

Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Double Dose

February 9th, 2024

Double Dose

Many of you who read my blogs know that I am participating in a Weekly Art Challenge (Theme: The World Outside). This week I also participated in a three day challenge (Theme: Buttons).

Even those who know me but don’t read my blogs know that I recently purchased a new laptop.

For the past several weeks I have had a double dose of laptops, photo manipulating software and both Windows 7 and 11. I have worked on both laptops, sometimes at the same time. I’ve used more than one software program on the same image. I have gone back and worth from W7 to W11. I have yet to find everything in W11 that I like to use in W7.

Two laptops. Two operating system versions. Two challenges.

Double Dose this week!

Winter Pareidolia

February 1st, 2024

Winter Pareidolia

What is pareidolia? It is the tendency to see faces and other objects in patterns or photographs. Rorschach’s inkblot test is based on this tendency.

It’s usually caused by the way light shines or reflects off of objects such as rocks, although it can also be caused by the actual shape of an object such as a cloud.

I experienced this tendency recently when I photographed a patch of ice on grass after a recent winter storm.

Northern Alabama, where we presently live, experienced a winter storm in January 2024 that produced a mix of snow and ice from sleet, freezing rain and snow. Although the temperatures stayed well below freezing for nearly a week, some of the frozen precipitation melted when the sun came out a day after the storm. The result was an abstracted, uneven layer of ice as that melted mix refroze.

The photograph that I took was a close up of that layer of ice sitting on top of the dormant grass. Light hitting the higher portions of ice made tiny sparkles as though a million diamonds had been scattered on the ground.

Enlarging the photograph revealed images within this shiny mass that resembled eyes looking out from the ice. Even without magnification you can spot the largest of these eyes towards the upper left side of the image as it is very blue with a sparkle shining within it.

How fun to end up with an image of ice that can also be considered and used as a puzzle. Instead of finding Waldo you can count how many eyes you find in the image!

Do you tend to see faces and eyes in nature? Please feel free to share your own experiences in the comment section.

Winter Shadows

January 25th, 2024

Winter Shadows

Although the sun does not shine as often or as bright during the winter here in the Northern Hemisphere as it does in the other seasons, there are clear days when the sun shines all day. In the middle of the day the shadows caused by interrupted sunbeams are often longer and more pronounced in winter, much like early morning and late evening shadows during other seasons. This is because the sun sits lower in the sky during the winter when it’s position is much further south.

This was very true after the most recent ice and snow storm that blanketed much of the United States with frozen precipitation. Shadows appeared as long or distorted reflections even during the middle of the day.

One of the photographs that was taken from our back patio was the image of a fence shadow on uneven ice covered snow. Winds during the storm caused the snow to pile up higher in some areas than others.

A straight, rigid fence made up of rectangular sections appeared as a curved item in the shadow that was cast on those snow drifts.

The shadows softened the hard edges of the slots that made up the very top of the fence. The top portion of the fence that is straight and rigid appeared as a curved edge, much like a ribbon being waved in the air.

As I reflected on that photograph, I thought about how we view and relate to weather events.

Some people will see winter as an uncomfortable, inconvenient season. Others may view winter as a time to slow down, reflect on the past year and rest up for the more active seasons ahead.

How do you see cold, sometimes icy winter weather?

Is winter weather an inconvenience that you endure as a chore or embrace as a challenge.

Do dormant trees look dead to you or do you view them as a season of rest?

Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section.

An Alabama Winter Storm

January 18th, 2024

An Alabama Winter Storm

It was Autumn. Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years came and went. Then Winter arrived with a vengeance!

Today’s featured image shows a small buildup of snow on an outdoor resin chair seat. That little bit of snow when the first flakes fell was a deceptive image of what was to come. Unlike my photograph that turned an old resin chair into a patterned abstract piece of art when the arms and back of the chair were cropped out, our beautiful snowfall turned into an icy headache and sometimes dangerous situation.

Here in Northwestern Alabama we experience mild winter snowstorms. We’ve lived here for several years and every year we get a little more snow with these storms.

This year, however, we were slammed with a wintry mix of sleet, freezing rain and snow. To make matters worse we also had an arctic blast of air that continued for days. There were at least four days and nights in a row that the outside temperature stayed below the freezing point.

The sleet and freezing rain laid a slippery layer of ice that was promptly covered with snow. More sleet beat down that layer of snow giving the appearance of a shallow snowfall. How deceptive was that appearance! That shallow looking snowfall was actually a mix of snow and ice particles.

That beautiful looking wintry mix was treacherous on the highways and sidewalks. Luckily most people stayed home and off of the roads.

Then came a gorgeous sunny day. How unusual to see snow and ice melting, liquid dripping from car hoods and fences, even though the temperature is still below freezing. How does that work?

The problem with that sunny day melting the snow and ice was the effects after sundown. That melting produced puddles of water that refroze after sunset. The roads turned into highways of ice.

The first two or three days of this winter weather was a quiet period on the four lane highway in front of our apartment complex. The next two days showed us a very different sight as we witnessed cars and semi-trucks sliding backwards while trying to navigate an icy incline on that section of the road.

Northwestern Alabama is no stranger to snow but it is not normal to have this arctic blast accompanied by sleet, freezing rain and snow all at the same time and lasting for more than a day or two.

As cold and miserable as it has been it’s been a time of reflection about the many blessings many of us have received during this white, winter weather. Our power has stayed on during this mess which provided us with heat and an indoor means of preparing and cooking food.

We will survive this storm of inconveniences just as we have survived the many other storms that we’ve encountered in life, many of which were much worse in the final consequences. After all, humans appear to be a very resilient species!

Please feel free to share in the comment section your experiences with the storms you have encountered and how you handled those storms.

Stuck Between Seasons

January 11th, 2024

Stuck Between Seasons

I found this brown, weathered oak leaf leaning against the concrete splash block at the end of a downspout.

Autumn has passed and winter is well underway. But this leaf, left over from the autumn breezes, cannot travel with the wind any longer as it’s stem is stuck in the golden, dormant grass.

A large portion of the United States gets stuck between seasons often. There are jokes that circulate the social media sites stating something to the effect that people can experience all four seasons in one day or if you don’t like the weather (too hot, too cold, too wet or too dry) you only have to wait a day and the weather will be the complete opposite.

Do you ever feel that you, too, are stuck between seasons?

Do you ever feel like you are stuck emotionally? Perhaps you’ve had some type of trauma in your life that is difficult to accept or work through.

What about spiritually? Perhaps you don’t feel like you are maturing in your spiritual life and feel stuck where you are presently.

This weathered oak leaf will eventually be freed by a strong gust of wind during a winter storm. This wind will be stronger than the slender stem that is becoming more brittle each day.

I would guess that most of us have found ourselves stuck somewhere in life between the past and the future. Thankfully, just as that leaf will eventually fly away into winter, we usually find a way to move on or seek help in getting to that point.

Any thoughts you may have on this issue can be shared in the comment section and are welcomed.

Hand On A Harp

January 4th, 2024

Hand On A Harp

This week’s blog post will highlight one of my favorite photographs taken at the Official Alabama Renaissance Faire 2023.

The festival was set up in downtown Florence in Wilson Park. Several areas were designated as music venues and several different musicians rotated in and out of these areas throughout the festival.

We walked up to one of these areas and found this gentleman playing his harp, a classical stringed instrument made of wood. Soft melodies emanated from the harp as his fingers plucked at the strings which are positioned in incrementally longer lengths as they near the far end of the harp.

At the top of the innermost piece of wood, there was an opening in the shape of a heart. Several of the strings were red and the others were either blue, white or black. His blue tunic coordinated nicely with the two toned wood instrument.

This experience provided a peaceful moment while we watched his hands delicately moving over the taut strings as the harp produced a soothing sound. The soft music was a welcomed change from the noise of the hustle and bustle of the festival.

Have you been to a Renaissance Faire? If so, please share your experiences in the comment section.

Favorite Christmas Traditions

December 28th, 2023

Favorite Christmas Traditions

My favorite Christmas tradition from my childhood was riding around looking at Christmas Light displays. This year we spent time riding around a few neighborhoods in Muscle Shoals, Alabama (USA) on Christmas Eve viewing lights, blow up characters and other holiday decorations.

Looking over the photographs I took that evening reminded of a blog post that I wrote a couple of years ago about this very activity that produces such special memories. I am going to re-post that writing for this weeks blog.

Previously posted on Kathy From KeppenArt in December 16, 2021:

My Favorite Holiday Tradition
It’s the third week in December. Christmas is almost a week away. It’s cold outside. Freezing actually. Snow covers everything in sight except the highways that have been cleared.

As children we can’t wait for Daddy to get home from work around dusk. Tonight is the night he’s promised to take us to see outdoor Christmas decorations.

We are too excited about our annual outing to be hungry. But we aren’t going anywhere until we sit down for the evening meal.

After eating and helping to clean up the kitchen we grab our coats and head for the garage. Climbing into the family car we imagine how many roads we’ll travel this evening.

Every December my father would ask his co-workers who lived in the villages and small towns around us where the best outdoor decorations were located in their neighborhoods. As we drove the rural highways, pulling off the main roads into small communities, he would tell Mother which of his co-workers lived on that road.

I never paid any attention to their conversations. My mind was too occupied with what I could see out of that back window. This was before blow up Santas and store bought wire skeletons covered with lights in the shape of reindeer or angels.

There were occasional displays of lighted plywood pieces cut and painted as snowmen or angels but the majority of the decorations consisted of large colored bulbs strung along the roof lines and decorating outdoor evergreen trees in people’s front yards.

We grew up and moved away. But we tried to time our vacations to visit my parents at Christmas. By then Wheeling, WVA (driving distance from my parents’ home) had started putting on a Festival Of Lights. There are lighted displays of all kinds on over 300 acres along the six mile drive through the park. Some years I would take photographs but most years I just sat awe struck admiring all the wonderful displays and thankful that our holiday tradition continued.

My parents have passed away. We’ve visited lighted displays in other cities. But nothing compares to those freezing cold nights, wrapped up in big coats, mittens and boots, sitting in the back seat of the family car with our noses pressed against the window glass and the sight of Christmas lights being reflected in our childhood faces.

Feel free to share your favorite Christmas traditions in the comment section!

New Laptop Progress Report

December 21st, 2023

New Laptop Progress Report

The new laptop arrived a day later than expected but it was delivered, unpacked, plugged in, turned on, connected to the net and registered.

Several people told me how great a machine it is (I’m typing on it now) and that it would last me many years (it better!).

The flashing lights on the keyboard almost drove me nuts until I was able to find out where to turn them off. Disco was 50 years ago people! As much as I loved it then out dancing it doesn’t belong on my keyboard.

Both laptops have been set up and on at the same time while learning how to navigate Windows 11. I found the User Manual online on the old machine and read it while poking around the new machine. That was very handy.

I also used my previous laptop to process this week’s Challenge Image. But I’m using the new laptop and a new Writing program to type out this blog post. Remember me saying last week that I was frugal (AKA cheap)? Well, I didn’t want to give Microsoft anymore money for their Word program so I researched the free ones and downloaded LibreOffice. Time will tell if it’s comparable to MS Word.

I also downloaded GIMP, a free photo software whose interface looks like the Corel software that I have on the old machine. It looks similar but that’s as far as it goes. I have yet to dive into that to compare.

Adobe Reader has been downloaded and installed enabling me to read the pdf file I made of this blog entry!

There are still many issues awaiting my attention (for example, why this laptop doesn’t recognize my printer) but those challenges will have to wait. The hubby will be off work for almost two weeks and that’s enough frustration to contend with during the holidays! He normally works 10 hours a day with a two hour commute. Having him here 24/7 for 12-13 days will be a big adjustment to my schedule.

If you are reading this post then I was successful in saving this document in a way that I can copy or upload it to my Blog Site like I did with MS Word. If not, well, if not then you won’t be reading this!

I wish for all of you a safe and meaningful holiday. Thanks for hanging in there with me.

Kathy

 

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