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If you’re in the DC area, its definietly worth checking out Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens in the summer time. It’s absolutely beautiful. There has to be hundreds of these pink lotus flowers in the ponds and the whole area is just filled with them. A photographer and nature lover’s dream. Although, I think the flowers may be all done for this year’s season. There’s always next year!

But the gardens are only open during certain hours and those hours are not at sunrise or sunset (the ideal time to shoot). It’s in the middle of the day, which is usually difficult to shoot. Most of the time, I’d try to find flowers that were blooming under some tree shade or something like that. This one was not. So I had to use my photoshop skills to really emphasize the mood I was feeling. I wanted all the concentration to be on the flower, to be in the spotlight. So I purposely made the surrounding areas darker than they are straight out of the camera. I also used luminosity masks to brighten the flower up a little more. Just doing those two alone really made the image pop a lot more and created some great contrast.

If you’re interested in learning more about my photoshop techniques, check out these video tutorials I created. This one is about luminosity masks. This one is about my complete photoshop workflow. Even if I’m not editing this particular image in the video tutorials, the same rules and principles apply. I will have to say that these videos are for those who are already comfortable with photoshop. You already have some basic skills and you just wanted to up your skill set a little more or just watch someone else’s workflow. If you had any questions or video suggestions, don’t be afraid to let me know!

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Man o Man was Arizona hot! That’s what you get when you drive through a heat wave. I think the hottest we experienced was 115 degrees fahrenheit. Luckily, we were just in Tucson. I heard the heat was so hot that it was melting mailboxes in Phoenix! That’s pretty crazy if you ask me. We pretty much arrived in Tucson, went straight for the hotel pool, got out just in time for dinner in air conditioning and sunset in Saguaro National Park. The next morning we woke up and left Arizona, ASAP.

I didn’t expect too much from the park. I like to keep my expectations low so I don’t disappoint myself but it was way better than I had imagined! These Saguaro cactuses were huge. Way taller than me. So much fun to drive through and point at. If you’re planning on visiting anytime soon, I suggest starting out on the east end of the park where they have a paved road to drive through an 8 mile loop. There are a lot of pull over points where you can just stop and enjoy the views.

From a photographer’s standpoint I had a blast in this park but found it a little difficult to shoot. First of all, there are SO MANY saguaros. To single anyone of them out was difficult. Especially since there are so many cactuses around. They all sort of blended in with their surroundings if you wanted to shoot wide angle. So the way that I did it was to use a foreground element to sort of frame a really cool looking saguaro. I think if I had more time there, I’d also try to use the evening or early morning light to try to highlight the outline of the cactuses. I think that’d be pretty cool. Oh well, next time. Hopefully it won’t be as hot that time.

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Walking around, I spotted this guy and I had to take a pic. Not only was the light perfect on him but he reminded me of Daryl from Walking Dead. But only if he was a photographer and not a walker slayer. What do you think?

At around sunset, Andrew and I found ourselves at the Big Chief Overlook. If you’re planning on visiting Dead Horse Point State Park in Moab, Utah, I’d highly recommend starting here. It’s at the very tipty top of the park but it’s great because you get these amazing PAN-oramic views of both sides of the park. The best was that I was able to follow the sunlight wherever it was going as it was setting. It can get crowded with people up there, but the ability to walk around the corner was amazing. I got so many cool shots from up there.  And how beautiful are these rocks against the falling sunlight? They were literally glowing.

Andrew and I spent a lot of time up there. We actually stayed up there way past sunset. Almost to the point where we could start seeing stars out. Not talking or anything, just enjoying the view. At one point, I told him to take some pics with his phone, so he took this one.

Pretty cool, huh? And all with no photo instruction from me. LOL. We joke that he’s this amazing photographer when in fact most of the pics he takes either has a finger in the corner or they’re really blurry. If you’ve seen some of his other iPhone pics, this one is definietly a major achievement. Seriously.

My settings for this image was F11 at 1/160th of a second. Super fast shutter speed to capture this beautiful moment. So glad I got to spend it with Andrew AND Daryl.

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I found this in my computer trash bin the other day. LOL. Sometimes I can be so dramatic. I have no idea why I threw it out. I think I can get frustrated by my own work sometimes and without thinking, I’ll immediately dismiss it. I also think it’s the time of day that I chose to edit this image too. It was late (and by late I mean 9pm) and I had nothing better to do so I decided to edit some images. I feel images never really turns out the way I want to that late at night. I don’t even know why I bother sometimes. So I tossed it. But looking back at it now, I kinda like it. I also remember shooting this and thinking that man purposely stood there because he saw me setting up the shot to get low and he just wanted his picture taken.

What about you? Do you have a most productive hour? Mine is definietly in the morning. Probably between 10a – 1p. I usually don’t even eat lunch until 2pm because I want to make sure I get everything done that I wanted to get done in that amount of time. In the afternoon is usually the time where I’ll do the mindless things- check emails, go to the grocery store, etc. Then my second wind will come back at around 5pm. Too much info? Ok, I’ll stop now.

My camera settings for this image was F8 at 1/50th of a second ISO 1000. Yes, 1000. I had to double check to make sure I was counting all the zeros correctly. I have no idea why my ISO was so high. The only reason I could come up with was that I must of bumped it up that during sunrise and forgot to change it back when the sun was actually up. I hope the rest of the images from this day wasn’t that high.

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It’s been a while since I’ve visited the Holocaust Museum in DC. The first and only time was when I was in elementary school. It wasn’t a school trip or anything but it was an experience that was hard to forget. I remember the hall of shoes and wanting to run out of that room as fast as I could. I also remember being so relieved once we were done with the museum because it was that emotional and heart-breaking. As a young girl, I don’t think I completely understood what I was looking at but even then I knew I didn’t like it.

So when the opportunity came up to visit the museum again, I was hesitant. I wasn’t sure if I was still ready to visit all those emotions again. However this time was different. I was asked to visit for a social media architectural tour in honor of the Holocaust Remembrance day at the museum. The concentration was on the building itself however my favorite part was listening to Holocaust survivor, Margit Meissner speak. Her story of escaping the Nazis were both heroic and inspiring. She wore a pin that said “What I do Matters” and I will carry that mantra with me for as long as I can.

This image is from the Tower of Faces. An overwhelming three-story hallway of portraits of families, children and people devoted to the Jewish community in Eisiskes, Lithuania. Just looking into the eyes and faces of these people was so powerful. In the middle of the image is my friend, Zack. I didn’t tell him to pose like that or anything. It’s was just his natural reaction to try to capture it all. I think we were both just totally blown away by this particular room because we both walked in saying “Wow”.