Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Hour of Splendor In The Grass

“That though the radiance which was once so bright be now forever taken from my sight. Though nothing can bring back the hour of splendor in the grass, glory in the flower. We will grieve not, rather find strength in what remains behind.”
(William Wordsworth)

This display in the Smithsonian American History Museum is another one that tugs at my heartstrings.  Wow, the memories.   This represents the era when I was a child ... the 1950's and '60's.  The car looks exactly like some of the cars we had in our family, a family that eventually totalled eight children.  My father was a farmer and school bus driver.  In the summers, we would all load into the station wagon and go for a short weekend vacation to the Blue Ridge Mountains; sometimes sleeping in the car.   A totally different world from today.   My parents are both gone now.   I have to confess that I look at this photo with a mixture of emotions ... joy for the memories, gratefulness to my parents, love for my siblings, and sorrow for the things that are no more. 

The original photo was edited with Akvis Sketch with the colored pencil effect .... if you would like to learn more about this photo editing tool, visit
(click on photo to enlarge)


Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Popcorn Stand on the sidewalk in front of one of the Smithsonian Museums in Washington DC
(click on photo to enlarge for better detail)

Photo edited in Lucisart, Nik Color Efex and Topaz Adjust 4


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Riding The Bus In 1939

"Farmer and part-time bus driver Russell Bishop started the day by milking the cows and warming up his school bus. After her breakfast, his daughter Mary Lou joined him on the bus. On cold mornings a neighbor brought Mary Lou a heated brick wrapped in newspaper to warm her hands. The bus took an hour to reach the Martinsburg school, unless the harsh Indiana weather slowed the ride. Twelve classmates rode the 10 miles with Mary Lou and her Dad". (Martinsburg, Indiana 1939

Another display in the Smithsonian American History Museum. This one was dear to my heart because it is so close to my childhood memories, except for warming a brick. My father drove a school bus for many, many years, and did farming "on the side" ... as did his father before him. Or was farming the main occupation and the school bus "on the side"? I could be the wax figure of this little girl, holding onto the hand of her bus-driver Dad.   My siblings and I always loved getting on the very back seat of the bus, because you could feel all the bumps that way.   Can you imagine?   Now we go out of our way to avoid bumps.   My Dad drove Bus No. 6 in Wicomico County, Maryland.

and a more artsy edit ..... using Topaz Simplify 3 and Nik Color Efex, in addition to three textures which I blended together


Monday, April 26, 2010

And You Get There In A Car

"Everything in life is somewhere else, and you get there in a car." --- E.B.White

One of the many wonderful displays in the Smithsonian American History Museum in Washington DC

... and I further edited it to give the feel that the wax family in the car had decided it was time to make an escape ... or at least that is what I am seeing

(click on photos to enlarge .. and click once more to enlarge even further ... they always look so much better in the large sizes)


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Never Never Land

Peter:   Forget them, Wendy. Forget them all. Come with me where you'll never, never have to worry about grown up things again.

Wendy:   Never is an awfully long time.
(James M. Barrie ... "Peter Pan")

Photo taken on the Washington Mall in front of one of the Smithsonian Museum buildings ...


Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Queen Of Everything

The older of our two Himalayan cats, Sara Lee.   We purchased Sara after our first Himalayan, Needles, died from breast cancer.   I wasn't even aware cats could get breast cancer.   That was a devastating day.  I was working at a bookstore and had to go into work while Gary took Needles to the vet to be put to sleep.  She had gotten to the place where she could barely move and it just seemed the right thing to do; but it was hard.   About two weeks later, I saw an ad in the paper for Himalayan kittens ... we drove the hour's distance to have a look and returned home with eight-week-old Sara Lee.   That was eleven years ago.  Sara is very beautiful, but she is moody.  She loves to be groomed, but she'll turn on you in an instant.  I know when that is getting ready to happen because she starts wagging her tail.   When I see the tail wag, I know I'd better stop grooming and touching or else be prepared for a little bit of blood.   Sara is not a lap cat, except at nighttime when I prop my legs up on the sofa, cover them with a down comforter, and settle in.  That is her cue to come forth for some rubbing ... and I am delighted to oblige.  The Queen.  Do you have any endearing cat stories?   I would love to hear one or two some time .....

Photo was taken as Sara rested on the arm of our loveseat, after I opened the window so that Victoria could get a closer look at some birds.  Sara wanted to get in the window, too, but it was occupied.  I was shocked she did not exercise her Queenly rights over The Princess ....

Editing was done in Photoshop Elements 8 with a "poster edges" effect ... and then further edited in Topaz Simplify 3 with a watercolor effect.  Spiral frame was added in Photoscape.  Click on photo to enlarge so you can see Sara in better detail ... and if you click one more time, you can see her even larger.  I just love that feature. 


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Old General Store And Wisteria

The itsy, bitsy town of Tyaskin, Maryland .... if you blink your eyes while driving through, you'll miss it.  Imagine our delight when we saw this old abandoned general store building, overflowing with wisteria.  At one time, we understand this was a gathering place in the town ... store, gossip, fellowship, etc.  Now there are plans to tear it down.

For those who might be tempted to enter, a homemade cardboard sign on the door reads:  KEEP OUT, EXTREME DANGER, NO TRESPESSING.    You think?

And sitting at the end of the sidewalk at the Tyaskin Post Office, we saw this rare sight .... a pay phone!

Click on photos to enlarge ... click once more to enlarge even further ... editing done in Akvis Sketch, Topaz Adjust 4, Topaz Detail 2, and Nik Color Efex 3.  


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Historic Abandoned Freight Station

The Central Railroad of New Jersey Freight Station in Scranton, Pennsylvania ... Built in 1891 in a Romanesque style, it was at first an unusual instance of a freight terminal being more visually striking than its corresponding passenger terminal. When the railroad shut down its Pennsylvania operations in 1972 during bankruptcy proceedings, the terminal was closed by the Lehigh Valley Railroad, which took them over, and has remained unused ever since. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.  (source .. Wikipedia)

Gary and I passed this building after leaving the Steamtown Railway Museum, and we made an immediate turnaround, parked in a bank parking lot, and walked around to admire the architecture of this abandoned site.  

(click on photos to enlarge ... and then click one more time to enlarge even more, for better detail)

Editing of photos done in LucisArt, Nik Color Efex 3, Topaz Adjust 4, Topaz Simplify 3, Topaz Detail 2, and Akvis Sketch ... In addition, I used textures on two of the photos.


Monday, April 19, 2010

Into The Deep, Dear Silence

“`Guess now who holds thee?' - `Death', I said, but there / The silver answer rang, . . . `Not Death, but Love.'” --- Elizabeth Barrett Browning

This is another local derelict house, sitting back off a side road almost hidden by trees. My eye caught just a glimpse of it as we rode by, and there followed another of those turn-around-and-go-see moments. On the left side of the drive, not included in this shot, were two large trees covered in wisteria. The house itself was starting to fall apart; doors hanging off hinges, a portion of the roof caved in on the other side; sheds with clanging doors; a "For Sale" sign in the front yard. I tried to edit it in a way that would restore it to life. Maybe this is something of the way it looked at one time, when people who loved the place were going to and fro. I can picture a lady walking out the side door and going over and cutting some wisteria blossoms to place on the kitchen table. The deep, dear silence.

(original photo)

(edited in Topaz Simplify 3 and Nik Color Efex 3)

(further edited in Picnik with Infrared Film option)

(additional original photos, unedited ... to show the condition of the house)

(the wisteria blooming by the driveway)


Sunday, April 18, 2010

Glittering In Silence

"The trains roared by like projectiles level on the darkness, fuming and burning, making the valley clang with their passage. They were gone, and the lights of the towns and villages glittered in silence.” D.H. Lawrence

The interior of one of the rooms of the maintenance shop at the Steamtown Railroad Yard in Scranton, PA.    Made golden through editing in LucisArt and Nik Color Efex 3.

I will be adding more photos from Steamtown as I find time to edit them ....  click on photos to enlarge and see better detail.    Click once, and then click again to see an even larger size.


Saturday, April 17, 2010

Working With Textures

Yesterday, Gary and I took a ride all the way to the end of Nanticoke Road .... to the place where dry ground turns into the Nanticoke River.   Along the way, I captured this farm scene ... loved the windmill.   I haven't done much work with textures but decided to give it a try on this edit.   

First of all, here is the original photo, badly overexposed ...
(click on photos to enlarge)

and here is the photo, edited in Topaz Adjust 4 and Nik Color Efex 3

then I added this texture ....

blended it once in "screen" mode at about 30% and then a second time in "hard light" mode at about 30% and then softly erased the texture from the buildings, with the eraser set at 5% opacity ... and this is the final edit with texture

My daughter-in-law, Cole, does the most outstanding work with textures ... her photos are always so stunning ... here are two of her more recent edits ...

To see more of her beautiful work, visit her at

There are many, many wonderful FREE textures available on Flickr ... just do a search under "free textures".  You'll be amazed.  


Friday, April 16, 2010

Editing For Added Beauty -- Topaz Simplify Update

Can you take an already-beautiful old barn and potting shed and make it even more beautiful? ....

(Original photo ... taken in Whitehaven)

( edited in LucisArt and Nik Color Efex 3)

(previous editing, with an additional watercolor effect in Topaz Simplify)

(previous editing changed to black and white in Nik Color Efex 3)
(click on photos to enlarge ... and then click one  more time to enlarge even more)

Topaz Simplify has just been upgraded ... to check out this editing tool, go to

and to see some tutorials, go to


Thursday, April 15, 2010

By The Side Of The Road

A tiny, tiny, wee little house ... near Snow Hill, MD
(click on photo to enlarge ... and click one more time to enlarge even more)

The House By the Side of the Road

Let me live in a house by the side of the road,
Where the race of men go by -
The men who are good and the men who are bad,
As good and as bad as I.
I would not sit in the scorner's seat,
Or hurl the cynic's ban;
Let me live in a house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.

I see from my house by the side of the road,
By the side of the highway of life,
The men who press with the ardor of hope,
The men who are faint with the strife.
But I turn not away from their smiles nor their tears -
Both parts of an infinite plan;
Let me live in my house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.

I know there are brook-gladdened meadows ahead
And mountains of wearisome height;
And the road passes on through the long afternoon
And stretches away to the night.
But still I rejoice when the travelers rejoice,
And weep with the strangers that moan,
Nor live in my house by the side of the road
Like a man who dwells alone.

Let me live in my house by the side of the road
Where the race of men go by -
They are good, they are bad, they are weak, they are strong,
Wise, foolish - so am I.
Then why should I sit in the scorner's seat
Or hurl the cynic's ban?
Let me live in my house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.

-- Sam Walter Foss


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Delectable Form Of Defeat ....

This is the wisteria-covered abandoned house that initially caught my eye .... the abandoned truck was in the back yard ....

"To be overcome by the fragrance of flowers is a delectable form of defeat."
Beverley Nichols


Long After It Was Heard No More

"I listened, motionless and still ... And, as I mounted up the hill ... The music in my heart I bore ... Long after it was heard no more."  (William Wordsworth)

This past Sunday afternoon, Gary and I were riding the back roads in the Tyaskin area and stumbled upon an old, abandoned house with wisteria growing all over it.  We pulled over to the side of the road and I got out and walked closer ... and as I got closer, I was able to see into the back yard and almost shouted for joy when I saw this abandoned truck.   Before Mark moved to Australia, he and I spent many hours on the roads, looking for just such sights.   I think this beauty is still bearing music in its heart, for those who have ears to hear.    My original photo was crooked (imagine that!) ... and when I tried to straighten it in my editing programs, the left front of the truck was cut off.   So I went ahead and edited the photo the way it was ... and then I extracted the truck and placed it on a larger paper so that I could straighten it without losing any of the truck body ... and then I blended all of that together.   In my extraction, I left some of the rough edges, as I thought that worked well with the subject matter.   And then here is another edit, processed first in Akvis Sketch and then in Topaz and Nik Color Efex.   Both photos need to be enlarged in order to see detail .... just click on each, and then I think you can see it even larger if you click again.


Monday, April 12, 2010

Whitehaven, Maryland

Some of the things you will see in historic Whitehaven, Maryland .....  (click on photos to enlarge)


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