How To Effectively Use Out-of-Focus Images

Don't delete! use your out-of-focus images

Don't delete! use your out-of-focus images

If you love taking photos, you know the frustrations of spending time photographing what you expect to be fabulous images, only to find many of them are out of Focus. It happens to the best photographers.

Rather than throw your hands up in despair and hitting the delete button, save some of your out-of-focus images for new purposes.

For this week’s WordPress photo challenge, let me use this opportunity to share some ideas for using those fuzzy images.

If you have read my book Better Blogging with Photography, you know I am a staunch advocate for folks taking and using their OWN images, whether it’s using a fancy camera, a point-and-shoot digital or a mobile phone. The beauty of digital images is they can be deleted if needed or edited for perhaps a second life!

I came across this beautiful scene, with the sun back-lighting the spring trees, and shot several images. In my example here, you can see that the first shot was out of focus.

Ordinary image of leaves slightly out of focus

Funny how the eye sees one thing and the lens sees something else. This shot is unorganized and chaotic, with competing spaces of both focused and out-of-focused subjects. But it demonstrates the example of motivation to continue taking more pics!

I got closer and changed views, continuing to take the images from different points of view, resulting in this image below.

A little more focused and close-up makes a compelling image

Not a bad image as a stand-alone piece. When I first saw this in my Dropbox, my instinct was to make it the background for a quotation. Voila! By the way, the background is called “bokeh” which is defined as the “aesthetic quality of blur in out-of-focus areas of the image.”

In this view you can see that I used the unfocused portion and added the quotation. The quote by Mark Twain seems to lend itself well to the image.

"You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus." Mark Twain

“What other ways can I use unfocused images?” you ask…well, let me count the ways.

  1. Use them in your blog’s header with your blog’s title as the overlay. If you notice the header on my blog is a fuzzy image of the hummingbirds.
  2. Use an out-of focus image for your blog/website’s background image. Here, sharpness is over-rated.
  3. children at play in the parkPerhaps you want to use images of people, like friends or family members, but don’t want their identities known. A blurry image still makes a great image, again, to tell your story.
    • This can also be achieved in your post editing using PicMonkey, Canva, or Photoshop.
  4. If you’re crafty, print them out and these soft images make great backgrounds for all kinds of DIY projects like cards, scrap-booking paper, stationery, etc.
  5. Do you use PowerPoint slides for your work or business? Instead of using the limited choices of online themes, make your own slide backgrounds. For that matter, using out of focus images on your sides will still provide effective visuals.
    • Even PowerPoint slides and Prezi presentations have copyright limitations…creative commons rules apply here, too. If your slides appear online or are published in any format, it is always best to use your own images.
  6. These same unfocused images can be used as backgrounds for blog post images (see my featured image with the light bulb). They look great on any digital social networking sites like Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook.They also are effective when sharing in link parties.
  7. And if you are an author looking for book cover ideas, an unfocused background image may be just the ticket to create the mood you are looking for!

By whatever means you save your not-so-sharp images, whether in Dropbox, Google drive, One Note folder, or on an external hard drive, put them in a folder marked “Unfocused Images.”

And you are still allowed to throw some away.

All this being said, if you are in a hurry and need some FREE photos for your blog or website, check out my page FREE Photos for Your Blog. I’ve curated hundreds of my own photos I am not using for use by anyone!

Can you think of any other ways you can use unfocused images? I would love to read your ideas in the comments!

 

My Book Review of Journey To Aviad

Book Review Journey to Aviad by Allison D. Reid
Book Review Journey to Aviad by Allison D. Reid
original image by Allison Reid

I am pleased to share my review of Journey to Aviad, Book 1 of the Wind Rider Chronicles, by fellow blogger and author, Allison D. Reid.

Allison D Reid photoAbout the Author

Allison D. Reid is a Christian Fantasy author with a fondness for Medieval history. Her first published series, the Wind Rider Chronicles, embraces traditional fantasy elements but is also infused with deeper spiritual themes.

From the Author

“Real, three-dimensional, lovable characters are a must. A good story also has layers of meaning, so that you can read the same book more than once and catch different things each time. There should be an element of beauty and hope, but also plenty of mystery and suspense. I want to be moved by a story without being traumatized by it. I don’t deal well with dark, graphic, or tragic stories—they haunt me without mercy to the point where I wish I had never read them. The real world has enough trauma of its own!”

5 stars

My 5 Star Review

If you have ever read Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, you will enjoy Reid’s fantasy tale of two sisters who embark on a journey of survival and spirituality. This is an allegorical tale set in what may be medieval times. Whether it is in our Earth’s ancient past or far future isn’t clear, but the world and setting Reid builds is consistent and believable.

Reid’s writing is eloquent and riveting—I was drawn in to the mystery after the first few sentences. Her female main characters are interesting and multi-dimensional, with the capacity to grow and learn as the story unfolds.

Reid deftly weaves in scriptural themes and concept such as— “you must drink from my cup, for it is filled with living water, and you shall never thirst again”—without alienating the reader’s existing faith or lack thereof. She introduces the “Ancients” much later in the story as the counterparts to the Biblical Jesus, Satan and the Holy Spirit. Of course, Aviad is God, the Creator. You will begin to see the parallels as you read deeper into the story.

I recommend this book and series to young adults and those of us adults who have been around the block once or twice.

Here is a Synopsis of Journey to Aviad:

Young Elowyn, content with gardening, exploring the outdoors and climbing trees, is drawn to a shiny medallion lying in the shallows of the river. Upon closer inspection, she comes upon a tragic and frightening sight in the Shadow Woods not far from her home in Tyroc.

The Shadow Wood?
image by Allison D Reid

At the gruesome scene lies a slain bowman. Terrified of the wolf-like creatures only steps away, she snatches up the bow and medallion and quickly runs home. A severe storm erupts in the night feeding her unsettled visions of the bowman coming to her door. Upon awakening, she vows to return the items thinking she has unwittingly disturbed his haunted spirit.

The next day, back at the grisly scene, she sees the bowman’s body is gone, amidst large footprints and damaged underbrush. She encounters one of the wolf-like creatures but is saved by a stranger named Einar, who eventually proves to be a friend and mentor.

Elowyn’s adventure and ultimate journey begins as she realizes that a dark evil is slowly descending on Tyroc and into the Shadow Woods. Even at home, she feels unsafe, under the tyrannical influence of their greedy, over-worked mother, a weaver by trade.

Instructed by Einar to meet him deep in the woods, at an ancient shrine dedicated to Aviad, Elowyn waits for him, spending several nights alone. Here, she dreams and has visions instructing her to “wash in the temple basin to be ready for her journey.”

The story continues to unfold using narratives and back-stories to discuss the history of the Ancients, the coming evil, and the prophecies to which Elowyn and her sisters are linked.

Meanwhile, her older sister, Morganne, works endlessly with their mother to sew and weave fine, royal clothing for the Sovereign’s bride-to-be. Once their royal contract is finished, Morganne wants nothing more than to escape her life. Finally fleeing the abuse and disinterest from their authoritative mother, the girls take their baby sister and set out to escape the evil that is manifesting in their city of Tyroc.

As they journey over hundreds of miles, Elowyn confides in Morganne about her visions. Morganne, who studied the Ancient Scrolls briefly as a young girl, knows something of the scriptures, legends and prophecies, and confirms Elowyn’s visions likely come from Aviad.

At River's Edge
image by Allison D Reid

In one dramatic turning point near the end of the novel, Elowyn is led to an abandoned shrine in which the basin has been dry for millennia.

She cleans the basin and places Morganne’s old drinking cup and some herbs in the basin, as reverent awe wells up inside her, remembering the words “If only this basin was filled with living water, I would gladly drink.”

With nothing more to be done, she quickly leaves to finalize their preparations for the next part of their journey.

As they leave the next day, people are shouting the news that the once-dry shrine is alive! A monk tells them that it is a “wondrous sign from the Ancients…the restoration of the shrine was foretold in prophecy, and I never thought I would see it fulfilled in my lifetime.” But Morganne cautions Elowyn not to tell anyone about her part in this.

Once Elowyn understands who Aviad is and her place in the prophecies, she asks Morganne to read more from the ancient texts.

“They were no longer simply ancient tales meant to be quietly kept in leather-bound volumes on dusty shelves. They were lessons in history that had begun to merge with the present in ways (Elowyn) could not have imagined.”

The more Morganne reads, the more she believes the words are written on her heart where they shall live and grow, and cause her to grow.

Like many chosen heroines, touched physically and spiritually by their Creator, the sisters are led to the point where they can begin to fulfill the ancient prophecies. As dark forces conspire around them at every turn, so do the forces of Good as Aviad sends visions and spirits to gently guide them on the right path.

Whatever your spiritual beliefs are, you as the reader will easily empathize with Elowyn and her sisters as they continue their mysterious and mystical journey upon which Aviad has set them.


I hope I have intrigued you to visit Allison on any of the sites listed below.

Where to find the book: Amazon Kindle and paperback

Follow Allison’s Blog:  Allison D. Reid Christian Fantasy Author

Allison’s Goodreads Page

Facebook: Journey to Aviad

 

I encourage you to sign up for her newsletter. Currently, Journey to Aviad is free to new subscribers and she may still offer a coupon for the second book in the series, Ancient Voices: Into the Depths.

Allison is also a photographer in her own right, as you can see by the images used in this post. In fact, she donated a huge folder of wonderful images of trees and forests to my shared folder where all bloggers can use free of attribution.

You can check this out here: Free Photos for Your Blog. Click the DROPBOX LINK then look for the file “Donated Images.” These are all free to use and other files were recently updated!


As I begin the process of writing my next book “No Excuses Fitness” I am developing a mailing list and newsletter with a focus on fitness. I think her newsletter and posts serve as a great example for other authors of how to engage readers, new and current, to keep them interested in her books.

Read my book reviews on For the Love of ReadingI am one lucky blogger to know so many of my peers who are writing and have written books in a variety of genres. Are you a blogger with a story to tell? Let this blogging community be an encouragement to you!

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The Doorway Under the Bridge Leads To…?

Is there a doorway under the Sunrise Bridge?

Is there a doorway under the Sunrise Bridge?

With all the rain we got this past winter in Northern California, epic flooding in the rivers, lakes and streams was at an all-time high in 20 years. This photo shows a “doorway” view of the American River from under the Sunrise Bridge.

Interesting perspective! Hmmm, to where does that “doorway” lead and what could be lurking behind that “doorway?”

These other photos show the view of the bridge.

We are expecting another big storm event to bring snow into the mountains and rain to our area. The flooding has decreased significantly since these photos were taken in January, but the snow will begin melting in the Sierra Nevadas in late spring, early summer. Flooding may still be an issue as the dams release more water into both the Sacramento and American Rivers.

I linked this post to Norm 2.0 Thursday Doors photography challenge.

Let’s hope that whatever might be lurking behind the “door” will be flooded out!


Seasonal Sensations Link-Up April FlowersDon’t forget about the April Flowers link-up going on now through April. Click here for more details.

 

AND…check weekly for new photos added to my photo sharing site: FREE PHOTOS FOR YOUR BLOG.

Thursday Doors: Green Doors in Sutter Creek

Bright orange door graces Sutter Creek Inn
Bright orange door graces Sutter Creek Inn
Bright orange door graces Sutter Creek Inn

I am celebrating my spring break from teaching with some down time! We took a short, 45-minute drive to the Gold Country in the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas.

Northern Californians know where I am talking about, as popular must-see’s along the scenic, historic drive of Highway 49 include Sutter Creek, Daffodil Hill, Jackson Rancheria Casino, and quaint, California Gold Rush towns.

Early Spring was in full swing with plenty of blooms, abundant greens and of course, tourists!

As we strolled through Sutter Creek’s main street, my camera worked overtime capturing historic architecture, doors (for Norm’s Thursday Doors), flowers and other interesting things.

I was surprised how much the color green is used on many of the doors and facades, whether residential or business. This is linked to the weekly photo challenge It IS Easy Being Green!.

AmazingFREE PHOTOS! Don’t forget!

If you are in need of FREE photos for your blog, stop by my page Free Photos for Your Blog and click the Dropbox logo to view the free files. No creative commons or other licenses. They are free for you to use!