Saturday, July 31, 2010

Reflections

Beluga Lake has become one of my favorite locations to shoot, but the lighting is not always very interesting. The evening that I shot these, I was in love with the brooding of the clouds after the rainbow faded away.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Work Peeve: Closing Time

Working retail means you see a whole side of human nature that I never realized existed. People are often cheap, rude and stupid.

The owner of the company makes the rules, and the rules for closing are that we are not allowed to tell the customer that we are closing. We are not supposed to hurry them, but just let them shop. My manager does not stand for that, and within 10 minutes of closing, lets new customers know. 15 minutes after closing, we often helpfully hint that they wrap up their shopping.

It gets old. Most people do not read the sign stating the hours on the door. Even when they are aware of the closing time, they are not aware of how quickly those minutes fly by when they want to leisurely browse.

I often get "I know you want to go home, and I will go fast!" but they are some of the worst offenders, taking their time and contradicting what they said to me.

Having to wait to close gets old fast. At the end of the day, I am tired, hungry and cranky. Those minutes are often precious, especially if I have a meeting to attend, or a movie that is starting, or just a dinner date with my husband.

By staying open even five extra minutes means expenses go up, which indirectly means prices of merchandise goes up as well. Heat, electricity, and overtime wages all add up very quickly.

Some customers assume that we get to go home right after we lock the doors. Not so. There is cleanup to do, reconciling the till, etc. And if the till is off, we get to stay until the problem is solved.

The other issue is when these customers purchase nothing, or a small item, like a 25 cent post card. That does not pay for our wasted time, sorry.

Tonight, I had a mother and daughter browsing the store for nearly an hour before closing. They were the last people in the store, and after closing, they still wandered around. Finally, at ten after, they purchased a $20 item and left, but not before announcing that they were "killing time before the 8:30 movie :)"

Most places don't appreciate loitering, especially after the store is closed.

I could go on and on about the countless times I have had to stay later at work, and how I feel about it, but that is not very constructive. Basically, always try to be aware of when a place closes. If you can't find a sign, ask. Be courteous to the workers, and if you are in a restaurant, leave a big tip :).

Rainbow Over the Lake

I love rainbows. But I never seem to be able to catch them when I am able to run off and shoot them. Or, if I can, they are not very vivid and disappear shortly. I saw this one out my window at about 10:20 one evening and raced out the door, since it was almost sunset time. I have longed to get an image of a rainbow over Beluga Lake for some time now, but have not been successful yet.

That night, I was. It wasn't the most vibrant of rainbows, but I am still happy that it showed up nicely for me!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Fireweed and Lupine Together

I finally found a patch of lupine with a fireweed plant! I drove all over the area one day looking for this combination, even took an hour drive, and I was not too successful. I finally found some on the hike I went on later that evening and rejoiced!
Print for this image available here.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Day 14

Day 14 of the sugar fast. I haven't given in yet, but I sure am craving sugar! It feels like I am eternally hungry, since I am wanting something sweet. I'm dreaming of brownies and chocolate in the end of August!

Two posts ago, I whined about not getting to shoot the sunset. I was able to shortly after that! The sunset looked promising, but I never got that far, because a rainbow appeared. The sunset fizzled out before it became amazing, so I was able to focus (ha) my attention on the rainbow and its reflection on a lake.

I was able to buy plane tickets for our trips in the coming months. Very excited to be getting out of town. Not excited to be leaving during fall time, but that is a price I pay, I suppose.

I need to purchase a laptop before too long so I can complete my school work while I am away from home. I have been looking at several, and while I don't need anything special, I do want a bit of processing speed so I can potentially edit photos on the road. Main reason for this purchase would be for school, but the other would be for a photo dump. Now that I shoot RAW, my photo file sizes are incredible, and I fill up memory cards like crazy.

I am continually saving up money for camera stuff, and I am running into the chicken and the egg problem. My camera is slowly dying. Canon Rebel's don't last long, and I have run it hard in the past year and a half that I have had it. It's most definitely still usable and in working condition, but I am afraid it will not be much longer. I have set my sights on a much more expensive camera, but it will take me years to save up for it. In addition to this problem, the full frame camera will not work with my wide angle lens. Buying better lenses is a great investment, so I have been saving up for those first and foremost. Maybe the solution is to buy a step up in the camera department after this one bites the dust instead of going straight for the pro level one. Not sure.

In other news, summer is sort of winding down. The fireweed is in full bloom, less tourists are coming through and the days are getting shorter. I start school in a month.
Many people have been complaining about how rainy and miserable this summer is. I admit that it has been quite rainy, but I really have not noticed it much. I work inside all week, so I don't get much chance to enjoy it, and I don't let the weather faze me when I am out shooting, so I suppose I have been a bit oblivious to it. I do wish it would be warm a bit more, since summer is almost gone.

C and I have a weird work week. Our weekend occurs on Tuesday and Wednesday, and not Saturday and Sunday. It makes it obnoxious to go to church and Saturday events, but we get time off during the week when weekday businesses are open. It also makes lunch dates less stressful as there are less people milling around.

Yesterday, C had to work  and he has to do so on next Tuesday as well. It's all overtime pay, which will be nice, but we'd rather he have the day off instead!

Going into the day, I was a bit confused as to what I was supposed to be doing. Working full time makes me forget that I get to stay at home all winter long. I did the dishes, then went to lunch with a friend, and did the grocery shopping. Then I came home. I ended up finishing up a book I had been reading at work all week on my lunch breaks. Then went out to shoot some flower photos in the yard. Next week I will probably watch a movie.

It's just not the same without him at home!

Photo by the other photographer at the wedding we shot of our friends' last month. I am really happy with this image!

We went on a hike last weekend and I was taking waterfall shots. Unfortunately, a slow shutter speed does not work well for self portraits!

I love summertime, because that means that my summer is free for reading novels, instead of textbooks! Here are some I have completed so far:
  • Crazy Love by Francis Chan: I had heard piles about this book, and finally picked it up. I ended up skimming through it again after I was finished with it, because it was so thought provoking. Great book for shaking up the mundane Christian life.
  • Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater: The newest teenage obsession. An interesting read. The second book just came out, but I have not picked it up yet (saving my money, as stated earlier!)
  • The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger: I found this book at the thrift store after having it on my wish list. I have not seen the movie yet. It was an interesting story, but I was depressed after finishing it. I might rent the movie next Tuesday to watch by myself.
  • The Bride Collector by Ted Dekker: Ted is my favorite author, hands down, but his recent "supernatural thrillers" are not my cup of tea. This will probably be the last one I read for a while. Seems like he has been beating the same drum for several books now, and I am not interested in the creepiness of it.
  • Never Let You Go by Erin Healy: Debut novel from an author who collaborated on two of Ted Dekker's books, that I enjoyed. This was also a "supernatural thriller" like Ted's, but it was not as dark. Good message at the end. I definitely could see Ted's influence in her writing.
  • The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood b Rebecca Wells: I really don't know anything about this book, but I have seen many copies of it at the thrift store and decided I could spend 50 cents on it. I started it this morning, and so far I am ambivalent on continuing.
  • In Praise of Slowness by Carl Honore: I heard the praises sung on this nonfiction book, so it is on my to read list next.

This is probably the longest post I have written in a long while!


Friends

I love seeing the fireweed right now. Especially with other flowers!

First time participating in Today's Flowers!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Diamond Creek

This image was taken from three exposures down at Diamond Creek after a hike. I combined the three exposures using Photoshop CS5's HDR feature. I'm happy with how the HDR turned out, but not the bright sunshine on the top half of the image!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Reaching for the Sky

I don't know what type of flower this is, a delphinium maybe? but I found them really intriguing!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Dreamy

Shasta daisies have always been a favorite of mine. This image has the lupine coloring the purple part of the bokeh. Upon further review, I wish I had not included it, and instead stayed with the white daisy background to make it a bit more "Dreamy".

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Dying Lupine

The lupine has reached the end of its glory for this summer. I have been excited to find some that was not too scraggly to shoot with some new fireweed! Those images are coming shortly. :)

Beginning of the End

The fireweed is easily one of my favorite flowers, but it's appearance is bittersweet. It just started popping up this week in bloom, and while the landscapes are being transformed into pink patches, it also means summer is almost at an end. Stories say when the last bud reaches the top of the stalk, winter is 6 weeks away. Pretty sure that's the saying!

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Harbor

Homer's harbor is an intriguing place to visit, as I suspect most harbors are. Always a bustle of activity, with seagulls and eagles flying around, boat coming and going, and the occasional sea lion popping up to check out the activity.

I was out for a drive on the Spit last weekend on a gorgeous day and made a stop by the harbor to observe. It was a peaceful morning, without a lot of activity, surprisingly.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Stumbled Upon

I;m not sure what type of flower/plant this is, but I like it! A couple weeks ago, I walked behind my house and saw this interesting plant growing right up against the house. A week later, I walked back to look at something else, and all the plants had suddenly bloomed!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Augustine at Sunset: Take 2

This is a re-edit of an image I shot in January. Augustine volcano sits on the horizon and appears to float. I think it's an intriguing image, and the colors make it even more so. The sun had already set when I took this shot, so the snow had a fantastic blue cast to it.

I re-edited this in Photoshop CS5 to reduce the luminance noise. I then continued re-editing it and I think it is an improvement!

Print available here

Swimsuits, Ugh

A pet peeve of mine: finding a swimsuit.

It is impossible to find a modest swimsuit in junior's size.

The last swimsuit I bought, I was in early high school, and it was a small women's suit. I need a new one! I have a tankini, so I do have something, and I do have a couple bikinis, but I want something that I am not uncomfortable wearing.

Basically, all that is available for teenagers are bikinis, monokinis (with those hideous cutouts on the sides) or halter top one pieces. I just want a swimsuit like this in a junior's size with a cute design! And hopefully under $100!!

Apparently it's too much to ask, because I have not found anything like this, and when I have, it is completely out of my price range for the amount of time I will be wearing it. Any ideas?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Day 5

I haven't shot the sunset in nearly a month. I am having withdrawals, in a way. I bought another filter that I can use at dusk, and I have been itching to try it out. We are rapidly losing daylight now, though, so sunsets should be easier to go to, now that I won't have to travel almost 15 minutes to see them at 11pm! I was set to go tonight, but then it clouded up and started raining. There is still hope though :)

The building I work in is not very well insulated. It is freezing in the winter, and unbearably warm in the summertime. This week, since the sun has been out, has been awful. The fan is running, the A/C is running in one room (yes, there is actually an air conditioner.) and the doors are all open wide for a breeze. I have been guzzling water to stay hydrated. Usually, a walk outside can be a relief. Not this week. It's still hotter inside, but it's not much better outside. Yesterday, it was raining, and oddly enough, the air became quite humid. Not only was the work building hot, it was wet hot. My apartment was the same way that night. Today was better, thankfully.

Day 5 of the sugar fast is done. I am fine, for the most part. I am really craving a moist brownie though. I'm already sort of planning on sweets I can have at the end.

C got his vacation request approved for our plans this fall. Probably will be buying plane tickets tomorrow :)

Well, it's C and I's weekend now! Hopefully I can get out and shoot some photos!


Saturday, July 17, 2010

Work and Sun

Well, am on day 3 of my sugar fast, and it is going just dandy now. The first day was awful, just because I knew I couldn't have any. Definitely not so rough now. I have been doing poorly towards the end of the day though, after my lunch has been digested and my blood sugar gets low.

Today at work, I had a bug fly into my eye. It was awful. I couldn't get it out, even after standing in front of a mirror. My eyes are incredibly sensitive to touching, so it was just obnoxious. I was afraid I was going to be in there all afternoon, but I did get it out relatively shortly. So not fun to have my eye hurt the rest of the day.

In better news at work, my boss told me I should bring a lawn chair so that I can sit outside on my lunch break. I finally brought one today, and am so happy that I did. It was a glorious day to sit outside and read today!

Yesterday, before I went to work, I spent some time in the sunshine of the local tourist district. I wandered through some shops I have not been into yet. I ended up at the oceans's edge taking photos, of course. Since Wednesday, the weather has been just incredible. It appears to be at an end, unfortunately. The clouds are covering the sky again. The sunshine has been elusive this summer, so most people have been trying to soak it in while they can. Summer is too short here not to spend it outside, like on lawn chairs! I just hate having to work full time in the summer!

The bunny is still around. I haven't befriended it yet though.

That's all that I can think of at the moment.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Sugar Fast Day 1

Today was day 1 of my 40 day sugar fast. It was rough, but mainly because I knew I could not have anything. Discovered that the protein drinks I have with my lunch have 22g of sugar in them. So they are out! Consequently, I was starving before my shift was up. I imagine that I had more energy today, but it was really warm at work, and I was dying of heat, so I was still a bit lethargic.

 In other news, I ordered Photoshop CS5 recently and I was able to install it tonight. It has amazing new features, including the famed Content Aware Fill. My favorite is the ability to reduce noise in Camera RAW, mainly to reduce luminance noise. My images look so much more smooth now!

Not much more to report for the day. We've had glorious weather the past two days. I really hope it continues!



Tending the Garden

The bumblebee was not really cooperating with me very well, as far as posing and sitting still, but I still like this one.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

More Tidbits

Tomorrow, I start a 40 day sugar fast with a friend. That means no sugar. No chocolate, no candy, no soda, so syrup, no jelly, nada. We are doing 10g of sugar allowed in foods like salad dressing and such. I'm planning to keep track of how my body feels different as time goes on. I desperately need to stop eating sugar. I'm addicted to it.

We have a domestic rabbit that has been hanging out in our yard for a week and a half. It's cute, but I feel bad that it is without a home.

It has been rainy and cloudy much of the summer now. On Sunday night, I was ecstatic to see the sun come out, so after I got off work, I drug C off to Subway for dinner and then we went for a beach stroll. Photoshoots are mandatory on beach trips.


On Tuesday, I went to check out the Kenai Landing and Old Town Kenai with some friends. We went to this Russian Church, and I was surprised to find a priest there who gave us a long talk about the history of the church. I was even more surprised that he encouraged us to take photos inside! I gladly did.

We got some coffee at a restaurant, then headed to Kenai Landing, which is basically the cannery. It was raining the whole time, and there was not a lot to see, so I was not too impressed!


On my way back home, I stopped for a bathroom break at my parent's house and caught my cats being goofy.

I have a couple of fall trips planned that I am getting excited for. I'd love to stay in Alaska for all of the fall, as it is so short, but I have a baby being born that I need to meet, and a friend's wedding to attend, and those are nonnegotiable.

That's all that's happening this week!


Pink Forget Me Not

Monday, July 12, 2010

Tiny

Forget me nots are so small, they are hard to keep sharp and in focus. I am really happy with this shot!

Print available here.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Hiding

I love daisies, and found this garden spot full of them. Interestingly, there were several plants of lupine interspersed throughout.

Print available here.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Fern

I find ferns incredibly fascinating. They seem so delicate and ethereal, yet they are quite hardy plants.

Print available here.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Bunny 2

A couple more shots of my bunny friend! I never saw him again after that night, so I hope he found his home :)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Pushki

Alaskan kids are taught early on to stay away from "pushki". Pushki (or cow parsnip as it is more officially known) is a bountiful weed that can take over entire sections of a yard. If chopped down, it comes back even worse, and often grows extremely tall, as evidenced below.

Pushki is not only a gardening nuisance, but it also very dangerous. The plant leaks out a juice that seems harmless until sunlight touches it. Then it burns, and sometimes blisters. My boss knew a child who was playing in it one day and the juice was all over his face. When the sun peeked out, it scarred him horribly, and 20 years later, he still has those scars.

Pushki is everywhere here. It is annoying on hiking trails, but you have to either avoid it, or go through it. 

The flowers are deceptively pretty, just begging for someone to pick them. I heard recently that one of the leading causes of local tourists going to the ER is from pushki burns, because they do not know any better.

In fact, I was asked a couple of weeks ago about it. The lady was curious about the "big leaves" and thought it was a type of rhubarb. She was interested in making jam out of it. I quickly discouraged her, but how many other people would assume it was safe to use and end up in trouble from it?

I guess this is just a public service announcement to give it a wide berth if you come to visit!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

4th of July

Since I first started working at my place of employment, I have missed the festivities of the past 5 Fourth of July's. I really dislike not having the day off for it, since my family often went all out in participating for the holiday with a church potluck and small town activities, including the plastic duck race down the river.

I really miss getting to do fun activities on the summer holidays. Working tourist retail means that summer holiday weekends are nonexistent. I usually whine and complain over it, but sometimes it's not so bad. I always get to watch the parade go by!

Since C had the day off (lucky!) he was able to go to church with me. It's always lots of fun to see everyone exclaim over him: "Hi, my name's ___. You must be Michelle's husband! *wink*"

When church was finished, C dropped me off at work, and then came to watch the parade with me. For the parade, my boss closes the store and we watch the parade along with the rest of the town. Unfortunately, people still want to shop during it, which means we have to chase them out.

This year, because of the Hoka Hey motorcycle race, the parade was at 2pm (instead of 6) and starting at the opposite end of town. Which meant that we had no idea what time it would start for us.

We herded people out of the store at 2:15 and proceeded to wait. And wait. Finally, we could see the start of the parade well past 2:30. It was a good one this year, with the finale being many of the Hoka Hey riders. Since we were closer to the end this year, none of us got any candy thrown to us! The parade finished at 3:15, and my coworkers and I raced back into the store, and were quickly overwhelmed with customers.

It was obnoxious, and I still had not had lunch yet! The customer bathroom had a line out the door, and soon, the toilet was out of order, due to being constantly in use. Shortly after this, every third or fourth customer asked me for the restroom, and I irritatedly had to tell them it was out of service. We were so busy that it was impossible to get back there to fix the problem.

Thankfully, the customers thinned out enough eventually that I could get some lunch, but I sure was over people by the end of the day!


Someday I will get the holidays off AND holiday pay. Until then, I will bide my time and enjoy the parade!

Bunny 1

I came home from work yesterday to find this fuzzy guy hopping around my yard. Isn't he precious?

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Tidbits

Long gone are the days when I tried to blog everyday. I am just not very wordy on paper or the screen, and like to keep things brief. It makes it hard to blog when I don't feel like elaborating.

I've been a busy girl. Mainly from working full time, with the occasional social outing thrown in. Last weekend, one of my best friends got married. It was a wonderful wedding, and I also shot the wedding with a friend of mine. It was a great learning experience!

This morning, as I was trying to sleep, I kept waking up to the sounds of birds outside and this odd thumping noise. I finally got up and looked out my window. Since we live in a rather odd shaped duplex, I was able to see into my neighbor's window to see his cat perched intently looking out. There was one magpie on the ground just screaming loudly, while four other magpies jumped around on the roof. The poor cat was getting tormented by those birds!

I might try to blog again tomorrow, but no guarantees! Have a wonderful 4th of July! I'm working, so mine won't be too eventful!