Evading Reality Through Photo Editing

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This evening I dabbled with online photo editing so I could procrastinate on doing those last bits of junk that need done before I can call it a day. Ordinarily I do these things right when I come home from work or else the dread of doing them will spoil my evening. Of course, there are a few things that have a way of almost never making the daily to-do list. Dusting is one such task. It usually happens on random weekend mornings when sunbeams break their way through our east-facing windows, making the dust too obvious to ignore. Perhaps this is what gave birth to my weekend photo walks: leaving the house during the very hours that highlight the dust on my days off from work.

I dabbled with the online photo editor BeFunky tonight and created the image above from a photo I took of one of the petunia pots in the backyard. The edit from BeFunky was a bit too vivid (too bad they don’t have a dust overlay to dampen the saturation), so I fed the image through Aviary as well to mute the colors.

Here’s another version to which I added what I would write on that flower pot if I pursued engraving as another hobby to crowd out cleaning from my schedule:

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Quick Johnny Marzetti

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This is not the first time I’ve posted a recipe for Johnny Marzetti on this blog. Today I had neither the time nor the need to whip together a dinner so large, so I tried to make this as simply as possible with some convenient ingredients.

By the time I started making dinner today, I’d already walked 15,000+ steps, so I was more than willing to toss aside any culinary aspirations. I admit that I used a can of Chef Boyardee spaghetti sauce in tonight’s dinner. Yes, it possible to buy a can filled with nothing but the same sauce that blankets the famous ravioli of that same brand. Strangely enough, whenever I use this spaghetti sauce, the resulting dish does not scream of canned ravioli. Instead, the sauce lends a bit of complexity with its hints of Romano and fennel.

My husband was the one who introduced me to the Chef Boyardee spaghetti sauce. It’s one of those tips that have been surprisingly useful in the kitchen, like his suggestion to cook hamburgers “low and slow” on the stovetop (which actually makes delightful burgers, by the way).

Quick Johnny Marzetti

Serves 4

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 8 oz sliced white mushrooms
  • 1/2 t seasoned salt
  • 1 15 oz can spaghetti sauce
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 3 cups cooked pasta, such as macaroni or small shells
  • 1 medium tomato, diced

Season beef and mushroom with seasoned salt in a 10″ or 12″ skillet. Cook and crumble over medium heat until beef is well-browned and mushrooms are soft. Drain fat. Stir in spaghetti sauce and diced tomatoes. Heat until bubbling. Add pasta to skillet, tossing gently until it is covered in sauce. Sprinkle cheese over mixture and stir until cheese is melted.

This recipe goes well with sweet peas and Texas toast on the side.

Paper Mallards

For five years, my daughter and I lived in an apartment complex next to a pond that was home to dozens of mallard ducks. Looking back at that time, I so wish I’d taken more pictures of the ducks. I think I was paranoid that my neighbors would complain I was drifting too close to their patio doors with my camera. Our time there was so peaceful, and I didn’t want to disrupt it with conflicts, especially ones that were very avoidable.

There is no other place in town where the ducks visit so reliably. At the apartment pond, a few would stay all winter, keeping a quarter-acre circle of water fluid even in the dead of winter with their dabbling. It was there I learned that water in motion takes much longer to freeze.

In this post, I share one photo of the ducks from that era. The photo was originally in color, but the edit to black and white startled me in the best way. To my eyes, the loss of color makes the duck look as if they are made of paper and are floating on fluid glass.

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This evening I discovered RedBubble.com, where you can upload your photos and digitized artwork and create all sorts of items imprinted with your images. I think I may order a print of this one.

Spotted: Red Admiral Butterfly

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On Sunday, a butterfly lingered on a white echinacea bloom I was photographing. This flower must have been particularly delightful to the insect kind, for it is the same flower that attracted the green sweat bee I posted over the weekend.

I’m not well versed at all in insect identification, so I had to look this one up online. It is a Red Admiral butterfly. Its scientific or binomial name is Vanessa atalanta, which also sounds like a dynamite stage name.

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A Wider View: Allen County Children’s Garden

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I’ve taken many photo walks through the Allen County Children’s Garden in Lima, Ohio, but I seldom take wide shots that reveal the density and whismy of this place. The photos in this post show only about a third of this place. Half of the rest was shrouded in morning shadow, and I lingered too long on the bright subjects I did capture that I walked away from the rest, full enough for now with its delights.

It’s one of those places I return to year after year because of the peace I feel when I’m there. If you find a place that fills you with serenity 90% of the time you go there, keep going back. The rest of the world can wait.

Here’s a video clip I made this morning of the ornamental grass area at this garden:

Summer Photo Walk, June 25: Town Square, Lima, Ohio

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This morning I took pictures of a local public garden and my city’s downtown. I hadn’t photographed Town Square in several years, and I had mixed feelings about revisiting it. Early in my photography habit, I frequented this area, hoping to capture why I feel so attached to a locale that is in decline. I took lots of pictures showing rust and various brands of misfortune, but I did not succeed in showing why I love this place. To reveal one’s attachment to a place is just as hard as taking a portrait of someone you love. To lay bare that core of feeling in a single, two-dimensional moment is very hard to do.

My city is one of many Rust Belt towns finding its way in a post-industrial economy. Earlier this year, a portion of Town Square was demolished to make way for the construction of a nursing school downtown (more specifically, this will be a relocation of some of the health programs at Rhodes State University). Where once was a row of Gilded Age buildings is now a field:

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I hope that this partnership between Rhodes and my city is fruitful.

Today I took basic, well-saturated landscape photos of the downtown area. In the light of a summer morning, the downtown looks free of the lost fortunes that seem to haunt it at times.

Green and White

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Today was another day rich with photo opportunities. My husband helped me identify the visitor on this echinacea bloom. It is a green sweat bee, and today was the first time I saw one.