I Took A Walk

when in doubt wear red

And now I have the tune from Passion Pit’s Take a Walk stuck in my head.  But I really did take a walk, on Saturday, as part of the Click Magazine & Clickin Moms‘ Clickinwalk 2015 – Philadelphia/Chestnut Hill Section.

I signed up for this walk as an exercise and a practice run of sorts for an upcoming road trip.  Even though I live only 27 min away, I’ve never visited this part of Philadelphia … just like cities and locales on my road trip to visit the southern states of Ga, NC, & SC (and all those in between).  And, as I always seem do, I’ve packed a lot of destinations into this one week road trip, so I want to be as prepared as possible and make the best use of the time I’ll have at each stop.

First, the gear.  I want to travel light as I wander around, but still have options, to explore city streets to old plantations.  So, on Saturday, with just two lenses, a 50mm and a 24-120,  I started out.  The 50 mm was just right for strolling along Germantown Ave and taking in Chestnut Hill’s shops & restaurants and capturing some of its quaint city charm…


to its more metropolitan… inside_chestnuthill

and its vintage appeal… little-things_chestnut-hill

I kind of questioned the time selected for this walk,  definitely not “ideal” for photography… midday and sunny on a busy Saturday in spring. But, as it turns out, these were ideal conditions to prepare for my trip, as I am pretty sure I won’t always be able to pick and choose the conditions during our road trip either.

Next… Observation.  A scheduled 2-hour walk, on the main drag through Chestnut Hill, which by the way still has the cobblestone and trolley tracks ~ hmm, should have gotten a shot of that (note to self:  Go back on a quiet Sunday morning to get the shot and also so no life is risked trying to get the shot) ~ Anyway, 2 hours is not a lot of time.  So instead of just shooting away, trying to capture it all (something I’ve been guilty of more times than I care to admit), on this walk, I stopped and really took a look at things, and then looked again through the view finder.

Of course, it’s not too hard to spot the big things right in front of you…

A good time to switch up lenses to accommodate the landscape, a 24-120
A good time to switch up lenses to accommodate the landscape, a 24-120

But discovering the not so obvious… that takes a little practice, especially when you don’t have a lot of time.  So, stopping to peek behind walls and fences…

or getting down low…along-the-way_chestnut-hill
and, of course, looking up…look-up_Chestnut-HillI found quite assortment of possibilities in just a couple of hours.

Look out Georgia (North Carolina and South Carolina too), this Yankee’s coming 😉

’til next time,



Sharing some love

 Happy Valentine’s Day!

A perfect day to do something I love . . . get a little creative & share.

I found some hearts (it is Valentine’s Day after all) in my archives and thought I would try something a little different, so I’m checking out Topaz’s new Glow plug-in.

be-my-valentineOn first try, it’s a pretty simple and user friendly plug-in.  Below is the original (the subject, just one of the many characters you’ll see wandering around the  Cherry Blossom Festival in Philadelphia).  For the how to:  I imported from LR with a crop and white vignette to PS, and then went to play with Topaz Glow.  Love that hair…perfect for some Glow, and of course the heart eye-patch.  I would love to tell you which Glow I used, but, as usual, I click around so much, trying this one and that one… that by the time I settle on one, I forget what to name it in my layers palate.  Added some text and above is my quirky valentine… be-my-valentine_orig


Next… what’s this?  Lot’s of green . . . no not St. Patty’s Day.   But there are some hearts, lots of them, which is why I probably took this in the first place.  I just didn’t know, until today, what to do with them.

green_heartsThis photo was a little more involved…   First up, isolate the hearts.  I masked them out in Topaz Remask 4.

sending-a-little-love-TR  after cleaning up the edges, I decided red would be more appropriate for the occasion.  In PS, I used Color Range (which you can find under Select in the menu bar), I selected, well, all the green, added a layers mask, and then a hue & saturation layer and adjusted the sliders until I got the perfect shade of red.

Color Range

It’s getting there, now for some Glow… ugg, again, forgot to make note of which one, but I think it may be one of the “soft blooms” and then messing with the sliders.  Again, just follow your heart when using these plug-ins…  sending-a-little-love_glow-and-cleanup…you just never know what you might discover

Glow left the edges a little rough, so using the smudge tool I was able to smooth them out, followed by just a plain white brush to tidy things up a little bit more.

Finally, time to turn this into the Valentine I imagined… a little text, finding the right font, and . . .


Til next time,

Boo ‘tiful

Even though Halloween is not a true “holiday” (i.e. a day off from work) and what with no costumes to make or candy to confiscate, it is a day that puts an exclamation point on the best season of all (well, at least my favorite)…Fall! From now until next March or maybe even April/May, the landscape will go gray.  Maybe if we’re lucky at some point there will be some coating of white… but mostly just gray.  So until then, I will enjoy every last little bit of color that clings on…
when in doubt

on my way

The above photos were taken with my iphone and processed with Snapseed and a wonderful little App, by from the same talented woman that brought us Distressed Textures, called DistressedFX (♥!)

Halloween is veritably a fitting finale to Fall and in in keeping
with the SPIRIT of the day,
Witching Everyone A Frightfully Delightful ...

inviting(above) Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia PA
The great pumpkin{above – texture courtesy of Lenabem-Anna}

happy halloween 2013{above – texture courtesy of Kerstin Frank}


Til next time,

Happy First Day of Fall

I thought I’d celebrate with a before and after.  To say so-long to summer, my daughter and I took in an early morning stroll at the Philadelphia Zoo yesterday.  The zoo is one of those love/hate places for me.  I love experiencing and learning about animals I would never get to see otherwise, but I hate how some just look like they would be so much happier…free.  I also love photographing the animals but hate the unnatural environment.

Many of the animals were a bit more active (relatively speaking given their surroundings) than in past visits, the cool temperatures for some and the warm sun for others, I suppose.  My daughter and I had an agenda this trip, the debut of the snow leopard cubs, but we also got a few surprises… some very testy flamingos, the posing lions (they’ve never been awake for us before), the kissing giraffes, and then when I turned around these three…

Antelope-3-copyA shot you just can’t plan for.  Remember what I said about the unnatural background…case in point, not to mention all those highlights, their faces in shadow.   But this was so much more about what I did have... three gazelles perfectly poised.   That’s all I needed.

First task, getting rid of that hideous background… of course.  Topaz Remask to the rescue.  Antelope_remaskNext, letting my imagination run wild (no pun intended 😉 )…a sky, a desert maybe… off to my texture library.  For the background I wanted something warm & sunny, kind of like the day it was, but also with a little intrigue… something obviously has their attention.

I chose one of my all-time faves, and so appropriately called  Between Seasons by Distressed Textures http://distressedtextures.com/.

DT Then a little cloning of some grass,  some blending and playing with the opacity… but just not quite done.  When I saw the textured result, I imagined Noah’s Ark.  I really have no idea why, as my pair of gazelles brought a guest, but that’s just how my mind works, and that led to the final touch…

waiting-for-Noah-copyI hope you enjoyed this before & after.
Til next time,


Campbells tower-lights Sunset-on-BFB

Has it really been a month.  Yikes!  Oh well, it is summer after all … time to slow down… maybe take in a ballgame.  This past Monday, I did just that… although you probably would never guess by looking at the photos here.   Campbell’s Field, home to the Camden Riversharks, offers some spectacular views of the Philadelphia skyline and Ben Franklin bridge, especially at sunset.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, the Riversharks won (or so I am told 😉 )

Til next time, Maria