Zann’s One Word Photo Challenge – Fresh

Week Two of my year-long photo challenge was more “challenging” than I imagined it would be. The theme for last week was the word “fresh”, and it can be a pretty daunting task in the dead of winter.

I did a Google search of the word “fresh” and looked at the images returned, and they were far-and-away the usual cliches–mostly fruits and vegetables with the obligatory droplets of water shimmering in the studio lights. I really wanted to avoid doing anything like that.

I was pretty much stymied all week. Finally on Sunday I got in the car with the hubby and we took off driving in the country, just looking for something “fresh” to shoot. Nothing. Nada. It was totally depressing.

So I wound up with just some throw-away stuff. I used the week to play around with some of the Topaz plug-ins that I haven’t used before, and did some creative tweaking of a few of these images.

Overall it was pretty disappointing, but here are the results:

A few “fresh” flowers that are actually blooming in pots on my front porch, arranged in a small liqueur stem, shot in natural light:


The same “fresh” flowers, but edited with Topaz filters in Paint Shop Pro. I desaturated, and then increased the hue to the magenta side:


We still have a few winter greens growing in our raised bed garden, and they’re putting on some new “fresh” growth. I was playing with some depth of field experimentation here:


And here I just decided to get a little crazy. Most days we have a “fresh” salad for lunch, so I took the photo to a little extreme using the Simplify plug-in from Topaz. I do actually like this one:


So, that’s enough for the “fresh” topic.

This week, the word is “UP”. I think I should be able to find a little more inspiration for my photos this week. Things are looking up (haha, see what I did here?).

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Zann’s One Word Photo Challenge – Boxes

Last week I created a list of weekly challenges for myself to get me back in the mood to do some shooting. The challenge for the week of January 26 was the word “boxes”.

I decided to use my smaller camera, the Nikon D5000, so I could carry it with me every time I go out. Since I work from home I don’t get out of the neighborhood much, but at least this week I had something besides my iPhone with me when I went anywhere.

I found this challenge to be harder than I had anticipated. There are lots of boxes out there, but trying to tell a story with them or make them interesting is another thing altogether. I thought of some ideas for posed shots that I would have liked to have done, but just didn’t have the time to put that kind of shoot together. But I’ll make note of the ideas and maybe revisit them later.

Here are some of the shots that I took this week. All were processed in Paint Shop Pro X7, some with Topaz plug-ins.

A collection of wooden boxes that I own:


Compressed boxes lying behind the local Sears store at the mall:


The box office at the Lyric theatre in Tupelo:


Mailbox 308 on an abandoned building in downtown Tupelo:


Box on the railroad tracks in Tupelo:


New storm shelter box installed after the tornado of April 2014 came through our neighborhood:


The challenge for the week of February 2 is the word “fresh”. This should be interesting! Join me and play along! Just post links to your “fresh” photos in the comments below. All photos for the challenge must have been shot between 2/8/14 and 2/8/15, although they could have been processed later.

Weekly photo challenge

Weekly photo challenge

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Blue Suede Cruise Continued

There were so many great automotive machines at the Blue Suede Cruise, and they all made great subjects for some black-and-white photography. The people-watching was pretty sweet, too!  Here are a few more shots that I processed.  Click through on the photos to see them large on black, as they should be viewed.  Enjoy!!





These were all made with my Nikon D5000 using an 18-55mm zoom.  All shots were processed in Paintshop Photo Pro X4 using Topaz Black & White Effects plug-in.  You can see some of the earlier shots that I posted here.

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Blue Suede Cruise in Tupelo

In all the excitement around last weekend’s supermoon, I almost forgot about the other huge event taking place in Tupelo last weekend — the Blue Suede Cruise.  This annual event features classic cars from all around the area, gathered together for a weekend of “cruising” all the historic areas of Tupelo, especially those related to the King.

The central gathering place for the Cruise was at the BancorpSouth Arena, but we saw these classic cars being driven all over town over the three-day weekend.  The rules stated that the cars had to be at least 25 years old, but exceptions were made for certain models like Corvettes, Thunderbirds, Prowlers, etc.

I took my Nikon D5000 with my 18-55mm lens (for a little wide-angle viewing) to the festivities on Saturday morning.  We spent about an hour admiring the many different vehicles on display, listening to the music, and soaking up the atmosphere.  I took quite a few shots, all single-exposures.  When I started processing them, they just called out to be processed in black-and-white, so that’s what I did.

Here are a few of my favorites that I’ve processed so far…I still have more to work on, but gotta save some for those days when I need something to do! 🙂




And then there’s this shot….I have no idea why the guy behind the car has his belly on display!


These were all processed in Paintshop Photo Pro X4, using Topaz Black & White Effects (which i dearly love!).  I’ll share more later as the mood strikes me.

Since moving to Tupelo last September, we’ve come to love the many festivals and events that bring out all the colorful characters and the best of the South.  Take a look back at some shots that I took at the recent “Don’t Be Cruel BBQ Duel“. (Starting to feel that “Elvis” vibe?)

If you like my work, please subscribe to this blog and feel free to offer comments. You can also find me on:
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Don’t Be Cruel BBQ Duel

This past Saturday was St. Paddy’s Day, that’s true, but here in Tupelo, it was also the weekend for the “Don’t Be Cruel BBQ Duel”. The two-day event featured almost 100 BBQ cook-off teams from around the country who came to Tupelo to battle it out for bragging rights and a pretty decent cash prize. And to up the ante, the crew from the TV show “Pitmasters” was on site to film an episode from here in the heart of BBQ country.

We spent a couple of hours checking out the grills and the grill-masters. I took my smaller Nikon D5000 with the 18-55mm lens mounted. I also got to use my new Lowes Passport Sling camera bag which I dearly love.  I’ve processed a few of the shots in black and white, and love how they came out.  I used Paintshop Photo Pro X4, with Topaz Black & White Effects.  Easy-peasy!

Don't Be Cruel BBQ Duel 01

Don't Be Cruel BBQ Duel 02

Don't Be Cruel BBQ Duel 03

Don't Be Cruel BBQ Duel 04

Don't Be Cruel BBQ Duel 05

Don't Be Cruel BBQ Duel 06

Don't Be Cruel BBQ Duel 07

Don't Be Cruel BBQ Duel 08

Don't Be Cruel BBQ Duel 09

That last one is probably my favorite! 🙂

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White Goose in Late Afternoon

We stopped by Veterans Park in Tupelo on Sunday afternoon just about an hour before sundown.  We wanted to see if there were any geese on the lake, and we were fortunate enough to get there just when (1) the light was right and (2) a family was tossing pieces of bread into the water to attract the geese, ducks and other waterfowl.

I tried to practice something that I read recently about photographing birds and other wildlife–try to focus on the eyes.  It’s harder than it looks, as animals don’t exactly look into the camera and pose for you.  But just thinking about that little rule made me pay more attention to what I was shooting, and I did manage to capture a few shots where the eyes look pretty darn sharp!

White Goose in Late Afternoon

I used my Nikon D5000 with the 55-200mm lens for this shot, set at about 190mm. I used a fairly large aperture of F/6.3 to get a faster shutter speed and also to blur the background a little bit. I processed the raw file in Paintshop Photo Pro X4, using Topaz Adjust 5, as well as Topaz DeNoise to clean up the very slight bit of noise in the dark areas of the water.

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Tombigbee Sweet Gum

This past Sunday we took an afternoon drive to Tombigbee State Park, just about twenty minutes from our house, to explore the countryside and look for a few photo-ops. The trees are still bare and most of the ground cover is still brown, but it was a beautiful day with bright blue skies, and we thoroughly enjoyed our day-trip.

Tombigbee State Park is small as far as parks go, but they have a beautiful lake, some nice campsites, recreational facilities (including an excellent Frisbee golf course that winds its way through the woods), and picnicking and boating facilities. They also have a number of rustic but well-equipped cabins for rent, and we will definitely be making reservations for a stay there in the near future.

I carried both my camera bodies with me. I had the Nikon D5000 with my 55-200mm lens attached, and I also had my Nikon D700 full-frame monster with the 14-24mm wide-angle lens mounted. It was nice to be able to switch back and forth between cameras while shooting the same scene, and to be able to compare results between the equipment.

The first shot I want to share is this image taken with the D5000 and the 55-200 zoom. I wanted to capture the hanging sweet gum ball while blurring the lake in the background, and the telephoto lens with a wide aperture was perfect.  I even managed to capture the wisps of spider web on the lower fork of the branch:

Tombigbee Sweet Gum

I’ll share more photos in the next few days. I’m still anxious for springtime to get here so things will start to green up a little. But it’s still possible to find beauty in the middle of winter time if we just take the time to look for it.

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Sunset Over English Bay, Vancouver

My hubby and I just got back from a week in beautiful Vancouver, BC, Canada, where we celebrated our twentieth wedding anniversary.

I had a devil of a time trying to make up my mind which camera to take with me on this trip.  I was *this* close to taking the Nikon D5000 because of its smaller size and lighter weight.  But everyone I asked advised me to take the D700–full frame, big glass, and built like a tank.

So in the end I gave in and took the Big Guy, the D700, along with my best glass and my tripod.  But to be on the safe side, I also took our little Coolpix point-and-shoot for those times when it was just not possible to get the shot with the Big Guy.

We didn’t rent a car while we were there, so we spent a lot of time walking, riding bikes, or riding the bus.  I managed to take the Big Guy along with me for several of our excursions, but there were some days when I just couldn’t bring myself to carry all that weight around with me.  I didn’t want this trip to be all about trying to get the perfect photograph.  I wanted to enjoy myself, relax, see the sights in a place I had never been, instead of constantly worrying about exposures, shutter speed, or someone ripping off my equipment.

So I did get some interesting shots with the Big Guy, but I also took quite a few with the Coolpix, and those are just as precious to me as the full-frame beauties from the D700.  Because in the end, these shots are all about preserving the memories of a fabulous week in a beautiful city, with someone that I love dearly.

I posted a lot of the Coolpix shots straight to Facebook each evening when we got back to the hotel.  But I’m just now starting to process the ones from the D700.

This first one is an HDR (yes, I even used the tripod one evening) from five exposures taken at sunset in Stanley Park.  This is English Bay, and the sun was setting about 9:35 PM.  It was kind of weird getting used to the days being so long up there, but it gave us plenty of time to enjoy the sights before it got dark.

Sunset on English Bay, Vancouver BC
Nikon D700, 14-24mm 2.8, 5 exposures processed in Photomatix, Paintshop Photo Pro, Topaz Adjust/DeNoise

I’m going to take my time about processing the rest of the shots. I’ve got some street shots that are really cool, as well as some shots from the Granville Island public market that I really like. Since it will probably be a long time, if ever, before I get to visit Vancouver again, I might as well make the memories last as long as possible!

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A Little Something Different – Studio Shots

My hubby has been waiting patiently for me to spend some time taking photos of the handmade silver jewelry and lapidary work that he sells on his Etsy site ( So last weekend, we watched a few YouTube videos on how to set up an inexpensive home studio and we put something together on the dining room table.

We bought a florescent light fixture that had a square white acrylic cover, and Andy wired it to take a wall plug. We bought two inexpensive shop light fixtures on clamps, and Andy rigged up some wooden stands to attach lights to, so we could move them up, down and around. We bought some white foamboard, some white fabric to use as diffusers, and we put together a little bracket strung with fishing line to hang earrings on.

Of course we mounted the camera on the tripod and used a cable release.  I shot all the jewelry with the Nikon D5000 and the 18-55mm kit lens.  I don’t own a macro lens, but I’m strongly considering renting one for the next time we shoot jewelry. (Note: The photos of the studio setup were taken with my Blackberry–not too bad, really!).

We spent about five hours experimenting and shooting, and I’ve started processing some of the shots for website already.  The trickiest part is getting the color corrected so that the color of the stones is as accurate as possible.  When these things are listed as sale items, we can’t afford to get all creative with the color–they need to match the real thing.

We found a lot of things that we’ll change–in fact, we’ve already purchased a couple sheets of acrylic (translucent white and opaque black) to replace the light fixture acrylic which wasn’t opaque enough. But all in all, we got some images that are much better than the ones he had been using on his site.

Here are a few examples–note that they are not in the highest resolution since they had to fit the size requirements of his website:

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Shop Devious on Grand Avenue

Continuing my series of images from Grand Avenue in Phoenix, Arizona:

Since today is Sliders Sunday, it got me in the mood to do some HDR again.  Since I didn’t have a chance to shoot any brackets this weekend, I went back to my little treasure stash of images from our photowalk on Grand Avenue, and found this gem just waiting to be processed:

Shop Devious
HDR created from three bracketed photos (-2.0/0.0/+2.0) processed in Photomatix v4. Post-processing in Topaz Adjust / DeNoise with Paintshop Photo Pro X3.

I love the bright purple color of the building and the various shades of grey on the sidewalk. Be sure to view the picture large on black, and check out the photos of the women in the window on the right.

And, you may be asking, what the heck is Sliders Sunday? If you really enjoy pushing the limits on your processing, take a look at this Flickr group, and then join in the fun!

This weekend I finally had to take a break from shooting and processing for a little while and get all my equipment organized. I went to The Container Store and bought several bins and boxes to hold my camera bodies, lenses, filters, memory cards, chargers, batteries, and all the other loose odds and ends that were getting scattered around. I feel much more organized now. Next step is to go through all my file folders on the computer for the past six months and start decluttering my digital life.

And we though photography was just about taking pictures!

If you like my work, please subscribe to this blog and feel free to offer comments. You can also find me on Facebook at ZannWalker Photography.