Saturday, January 31, 2015

Friday Morning's Sunrise

Yesterday morning, I realized at the very hint of dawn that it was going to be a spectacular sunrise.

I had just gotten home from work a few minutes before, but headed back out to the car with my camera and drove to a nearby river trail in Oklahoma City.  

The colors in this sunrise were probably the most vibrant I've ever seen.  

As the day set in, the colors started to fade more, but still beautiful.

The colors of the sunrise were all but gone by the time I reached a good viewing distance of downtown.  But the morning haze and clouds still made the city look outstanding.

I probably ended up walking a couple miles just enjoying the sunrise.  

When was the last time you had to stop what you were doing just to admire something too beautiful to not miss?

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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Will Roger's Memorial Museum - OK Route 66

Our second main stop on the Route 66 roadtrip we took to visit the sites between Arcadia and Claremore Oklahoma included the Will Roger's Memorial Museum.

Let me just say, there's a backstory.

Stained glass windows on the exterior of the Will Roger's Memorial Museum depicting Roger's many identities.

Here's a little on the background of this stop.  I'm a little behind when it comes to knowing celebrities, popular movies, popular culture, and in general cultural things that most people assume that everyone knows about.  

Up until December, I'd never seen Star Wars.  It was in college when I first saw any of the Lord of the Rings movies.  Until recently, I'd never seen Gone With the Wind.  I've still never seen but a few episodes of Friends, and have still not seen Greece, the Sound of Music, and probably other classics that people usually gasp about when they hear.

Okay, let's get the shock and awe over with.  Take a gasp, scorn me in your mind.  
Now let's move on.


Although I'd never seen Star Wars until recently, I've known for years that Darth Vader is Luke's Father.  I knew that Yoda used weird sentences, and was a wise little old...thing.  Culturally, I can pick up on these things, but when it boils down to it I just simply haven't seen all the big movies or know the big names.

If you were wondering, yes, I get made fun of and frowned upon quite often for this.

So a few months prior to visiting, Tyler and I had a discussion about Will Rogers.  I mean, here in Oklahoma we have all kinds of streets, buildings, parks, schools, the largest room in my alma mater's student union, and the largest airport in Oklahoma - all named in honor of Will Rogers.

Culturally, I knew he was important to Oklahoma - obviously since his name is everywhere - but I really didn't know who he was or what he did.  I honestly figured he was one of the oilmen from the old days who must have donated to all these places.

That is why Tyler insisted that we visit the museum - to "educate" me on my own culture and history.

I'll admit, maybe I should have known more about Will Rogers, but it wasn't in my Oklahoma history class, and no one ever bothered to tell me, and I simply never bothered to find out.  

We spent several hours going through the museum.  I now have a good grasp with who Will Roger's was, and why Oklahoma takes so much pride in him.  He was a good old southern cowboy, who retained family values, was famous and in films, a world traveler, and also very involved in the nations politics.

I didn't bring my camera into the museum (although it turns out I could have), so I didn't take pictures inside.  However one of my favorite parts as a nerdy Asian Studies major was a saddle Will obtained in Mongolia with traditional ornamentation.  So unique to see the differences in saddles across the world.

Tyler had a look of satisfaction that he had finally educated me on important Oklahoma history where I was still lacking.

When was the last time you learned something new about your country, state, or hometown?
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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Totem Pole Park - OKLA Route 66

Last Saturday, Tyler and I did something that we haven't done in a long time.

We haven't gone somewhere fun on a whim in so long, that I don't remember the last time it happened.

We woke up Saturday morning to a day with a beautiful forecast and didn't have plans.  I couldn't sleep past 6 am, so I got up and decided that we needed to take a roadtrip.  Tyler was down with the idea, so we started brainstorming where we'd go.  

Our options came down to going hiking somewhere or visiting the other part of Oklahoma's stretch of Route 66.  You see, in 2011 we went on much of Oklahoma's western part of Route 66, but it didn't have very many famous attractions.  It was still a fun road trip, but I've still wanted to visit the other sites.  


The furthest site we visited was Totem Pole Park near Foyil, OK.  We actually drove to the furthest site we planned to make into our day trip and worked our way backwards toward home again.  

This park is just off Highway 28, on a corner cinched between a private residence and a brightly painted gift shop.

Above is by far the tallest totem pole, but there were a few smaller ones as well.

The totem poles are constructed of concrete, and painted bright colors with amazing details.

Above is just one of many paintings that are just details of the large totem pole.

I made Tyler stand in front of the totem pole for scale.

Unfortunately, the fiddle house was closed until February, but it we peered through the windows to see all sorts of hanging fiddles and other interesting objects.

Adjacent to the fiddle house is this smaller totem pole, also near several picnic tables also constructed of concrete and painted bright colors.

Tyler found an old creaky crank drill in the park to play with!

(BSA Eagle Project)

Located just behind Totem Park, there is a small nature trail that Tyler noticed immediately when we entered the parking area.

After visiting the totem poles, we headed off to check this part out, only to find out that it was done as an Eagle Scout project.  Since Tyler was an Eagle Scout and is also now a scoutmaster for a new troop, we were even more interested in the trail!

The boys who participated in this project would have done some extensive planning to organize the trail, gather resources and funding, and carry out the project themselves.  We thought their project was a really nice idea that benefits those in their area, and tourists alike.

 The trail is quite short, but the foliage is none-the-less beautiful.  
I love how foliage in winter is still so pretty.

Keep checking in for more posts about the sites we visited on our Route 66 road trip!  

When was the last time you did something spontaneous?

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Sunday, January 11, 2015

My Fav Free Photo Editing Software for Blogs

Since I was in middle school, I've enjoyed playing with photo-editing programs and altering images to achieve the result I wanted.  I started out just editing pictures of my cats, family, and favorite singers on a bootlegged version of photoshop that I had for some reason, and I'm not even sure how I had it.  That was back before Photoshop even had "CS" in the version title.  Eventually, that computer died as well as my Prehistoric non-CS Photoshop copy - which is fine since I shouldn't have had it anyway.
From then on, I have used different programs to edit photos that have come and gone with the times.  (Anyone remember when Picnik was a thing?)  Finally, one evening a few years ago I did some research on the best free photo editing software.  I found two programs that were amazing, and that I don't plan to part with anytime soon.  These two programs have since opened the doors in my world to open source software, which is *cue angels' singing voices* "amazing."


The most basic program I use is Photoscape.  I consider this program blogger heaven, because it is so simple to use yet you can do a lot of things with it.  I primarily use it to adjust lighting and contrast, crop and resize, add text to my images, create photo collages, and to edit light blemishes.  I love that this fairly simple program has a clone tool in the mix, as well as other fun things to experiment with like filters, vignettes, and frames.  I continually learn more things I can do each time I play around with it.  This is no "photoshop" alternative, but is great for creating simple image fixes and adding text for blog images.

Another great feature is the batch editor.  Many times I will resize and rename all of my photos before adding them to the blog, and batch editor is the quickest way to do that.  You can even designate a new folder for them, which is great to help me stay organized in my blogging efforts.
My favorite tool to use in Photoscape is "Bloom" under the Home tab.  It allows me to increase the exposure in my photos, set it exactly at the levels I want and I have learned to be able to manipulate the soft light into the places I want as well.



Gimp is the next program I began using a few years ago, which also opened the doors to open source software for me.  It is very similar to Adobe Photoshop.  I wouldn't call them interchangeable, as Photoshop can delve deeper than Gimp can - and is also a little more user friendly. However, when you consider price as a factor, GIMP is a very agreeable alternative to photoshop.  Most of the main features can still be accomplished, and although it isn't as easy to navigate, it can still be done.

I don't use Gimp as often because it is much more complex to use, however when creating images for my blog design, I have used Gimp a great deal.  Any of the buttons, banners, or titles you see on my blog were created using a mixture of Gimp and Photoscape. 


Before, I was not using RAW images for any of my blog photos, but now I do sometimes (because hubby got me a Christmas/Birthday/Just-Because-I-Love-You super awesome gift)!  

So now that I am using my new camera and RAW files, I have just begun to use RawTherapee.  It is supposedly similar to Lightroom (which I have never used, so I cannot vouch for the similarities.)  There is another program called DarkTable which has much better reviews as being an alternative to Lightroom, however it is only available for Mac right now.

If you are a windows user, I'd say RawTherapee is the closest alternative you will find to Lightroom, based on the research I've done and reviews I've read.  I have used it a few times, however I would not say that I've really figured out the features yet.  Judging just from the looks of it, I do believe after I've read some tutorials and played around with the program that it will be very useful for editing my digital photos.

Like I said on this one I really haven't mastered any techniques, however I do find it to be a promising program.

What are your favorite photo editing programs?  Have you ever used any of these three?

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