Christmas Card Time

_MG_6661-Edit5x7 card_MG_2565 lighter12 days of Christmas11385757213_f66e93e8be_oDuncan ornament_1090639It’s time to create your Christmas cards. I hope you will use images from this year to send a very personal card. I have posted some of mine from past years, photographic and a simple design with clipart.  Enjoy making your own cards!


2018 Photo Walks

_1040448 watercolor

For anyone who lives in the Raleigh area I teach at the JC Raulston Arboretum and the 2018 Photo Walks have just opened for  registration.

Next year 3 of them are indoor workshops and the other 9 are part lecture, part shooting in the garden.

Here is the complete listing with times and costs – limit 12 attendees each.

Register at:      Events – Calendar   

Go to the month you want and register.


JC Raulston Arboretum

Photo Walks 2018

Thursday, January 18   2pm – 3:30pm

Topic: Black and White

Cost: $15 members, $20 non-members

What to bring: any camera including the iPhone that has a way to set black and white

Any lens

We will explore the possibilities in the winter garden during this session using black and white.

Thursday, February 15   2pm – 4pm

Topic: Indoor Flowers I

Cost: $20  members, $30 non-members

We have 3 sessions on indoor photography of flowers and other natural subjects this year. Each class will cover a unique area of indoor photography. This first class will cover some basics and emphasize setting up simple subjects and a variety of backgrounds. A macro lens is suggested but you can use other lenses. A tripod is highly recommended.

Thursday, March 15   2pm – 3:30pm

Topic: Wide angle

Cost: $15 members, $20 non-members

What to bring: camera with wide angle lens.

You can do this class with a smartphone but a DSLR is recommended with a wide angle lens for best results. You will find new perspectives for your photographs.

Thursday, April 19   2pm – 3:30pm

Topic: Backgrounds

Cost: $15 members, $20 non-members

What to bring: Camera and lens in the 35mm – 135mm range. Smartphone can be used.

Tripod recommended.

Your subject is very important, but this class will emphasize making the background work for you too.

Thursday, May 17   2pm – 3:30pm

Topic: Macro

Cost: $15 members, $20 non-members

What to bring: camera with macro lens or the ability to focus close and tripod

A long lens option will be explained if you do not have close-up equipment:

Exploring the close-up world in the garden is an exciting experience and you can achieve strong compositions and fun abstracts.

Thursday, June 21   10am – 11:30am

Topic: Composition   

Cost: $15 members, $20 non-members

What to bring: camera DSLR preferred but can use a smartphone, macro or normal lens – zooms okay

Tripod recommended

This class will expand on the traditional ideas of composition as you really work with each subject beyond the standard “snapshot”.

Thursday, July 19        10am – 11:30am

Topic: Lighting

Cost: $15 members, $20 non-members

What to bring: camera with macro or normal lens, tripod

Optional: white foamcore or reflector and diffuser – some will be available

Lighting is the center of the photographic experience and this short class will introduce some easy controls to greatly improve your flower photographs.

Thursday, August 16   10am – 12pm

Topic: Indoor Flowers II

Cost: $20  members, $30 non-members

This class will emphasize a variety of lighting ideas for indoor flower photography. A macro lens is great but not required. A tripod is highly recommended.

Thursday, September 20      2pm – 3:30pm

Topic: Color 

Cost: $15 members, $20 non-members

What to bring: Any camera and lens including smartphones.

Tripod recommended.

It may seem obvious to think about color when photographing in a garden setting. However, thoughtful consideration of the colors before pressing the shutter button will lead to better images. We will discuss monochromatic color schemes, interaction between certain colors to set a mood along with the impact of certain colors.

Thursday, October 18    2pm – 3:30pm

Topic: Textures

Cost: $15 members, $20 non-members

What to bring: Any camera and lens including smartphones can be used.

Tripod recommended.

We will search out various textures in the garden and notice how the light accents or diffuses the texture of different plants.

Thursday, November 15      2pm – 3:30pm

Topic: Depth of Field

Cost: $15 members, $20 non-members

What to bring: camera with adjustable settings, ISO, aperture, shutter

Tripod encouraged

If you usually use Automatic or Program modes, you will especially enjoy this class. You will learn how to get sharp focus… and how to control areas you want to soften too.

Thursday, December 12   2pm – 4pm

Topic: Indoor Macro

Cost: $20  members, $30 non-members

This is 3rd in the series of indoor classes.  Various subjects will be available in addition to flowers. A variety of surfaces for your subjects will be discussed and provided for the hands on portion.  A tripod is highly recommended.


Calendar Templates are Ready!!

Jan 2018 photo

Finished example.

Jan 2018

Template you will receive for each month. Add photo and change Color spot if you want.

I had so much fun using 2 Lil Owl’s templates that I decided to create a couple of sets for my Etsy store. Each product has 12 5×7 files for each month next year.  These are the instructions which also come with the digital download from my Etsy store. (recently started!) The cost is $15 and it’s a direct download to you.

2018 Calendar Templates

  1. Open your template.
  2. Open and crop a favorite image to 5 x 5 inches at 300 dpi.
  3. Drag and drop the photo in the layer indicated in Photoshop.
  4. You can change the Color spot to any color you want.
  5. You can also change the month’s font. Only the monthly dates cannot be changed.
  6. Flatten your file as a jpg for printing if sending off or print yourself.

I like giving these with a 5×7 acrylic magnet for any metal surface but you can give the sheets and people can put them on their refrigerator without the nice acrylic frame.  I order the magnet frames from for about $3 each including shipping.

Gold Lettering

Icy Branches Gold

I love using gold lettering around the holidays.  If you are familiar with Photoshop layers, give this a try.  Otherwise it might be more difficult, but you can do it!!

I used the font Blacksword for this card, but use whatever you want. The effect will be more pronounced on thicker font styles.

Type your words using the Text tool. Photoshop will make its own layer for the text.

Double click on the T in the text layer and choose a warm orange color. You can change this later.

Now click on the Text layer outside the “T” box to get Layer Styles.  Click on Bevel and Emboss. Be sure to click on that option to get all the adjustments.

Depth – 225

Size 8

Gloss Contour – use 2nd option on the 2nd row – Ring Contour

And there you go!

Gold lettering



2018 Calendar How-to


I love making calendars each year. They are very similar to greeting cards which is my first passion.  There are many ways to produce calendars, here are a few:

Easiest- Print one photo or collage on 8 1/2 x 11 with all the months printed. You can download the template from Etsy creators or use an online printer such as Shutterfly or Vistaprint for example.

Fairly easy – upload 13 photos to Shutterfly or other online printer and choose a format. This can be pricey ($15-25 each)

One Sheet – a 16×20 poster available online (runs $22.99 at Shutterfly)

My favorite – I create *12  5×7 sheets for each month and print them through a discount online printer as they seem to do just fine at this size.  Then I give or sell them with a 5×7 acrylic magnet that goes on people’s refrigerators or any metal surface. It is easy to change each month as the year goes by.  The magnets are available in other sizes too through (order more than 12 and they are about $3 each with shipping) – so your total on this project is your time and under $10.  I either order clear boxes from (extra cost) or slip the 12 sheets into an envelope.

*this year I am using the templates from Lil Owls Texture Club (you need to join). They are very well done and allow customization.  See samples above. Etsy also has many calendar template creators.


This is a great way to share your photos and creativity!



JC Raulston Moonlight in the Garden







Moonlight in the Garden gives photographers an amazing opportunity at the JC Raulston Arboretum.

Beautiful lighting for photos, food trucks, music and more!

Member night – Tuesday, November 7        7pm-9pm

November 9-11 and November 16-18             6pm – 9pm

Tickets are $10.00 for members, $20.00 for nonmembers, and $5.00 for children under 12.




Prisma App

IMG_5711IMG_5589-EditA friend of mine told me about the Prisma App for iPhones anIMG_5692IMG_5686IMG_5700A friend of mine told me about the Prisma App for iPhone and Android phones. Nifty little app that has lots of fun effects. You must take the photo with the app and process it right then as you cannot reimport it later. However, I could save the original photo on my iPhone and use in other programs later.  This included some fun with the photos shown here in Photoshop CC.