Sunday Stills: #Eerie Sights and Sounds

Spooky Sunrise

Now that my children are grown and gone, I really don’t celebrate the day much except for a few mild decorations, which I shared last week.

Since Sunday Stills landed on Halloween today, I was inspired for this week’s theme, “Eerie,” by the Google Chrome theme “Eerie Autumn” which cycles wallpaper images to my desktop. Creepy spiderwebs, misty moons, and decrepit graveyards adorn my desktop as a reminder that Halloween is in the eye of the beholder.

Eerie Full Moon
Eerie full moon viewed through pine trees

The definition of Eerie is: “Uncanny, so as to inspire superstitious fear; weird: an eerie midnight howl. (esp of places, an atmosphere, etc) mysteriously or uncannily frightening or disturbing; weird; ghostly”

Merriam Webster Dictionary

As I was capturing decor images last week, I got this eerie one on my porch.

Halloween decor and dog
Doesn’t Brodie’s photobomb make this image look creepy?

Do you get many trick-or-treaters where you live? In my former Sacramento neighborhood, despite being around the corner from the elementary school, we rarely got visitors on Halloween. This coincided with 9-11 in 2001, and it’s been crickets ever since. As I write this I’m wondering if we will get any on our new street, which still does not show up on some folks’ google maps! There are only two occupied homes, and unless parents drive their kids (golf carts and ATVs are a popular way to zip around here), I doubt we will see many kids out on our street. Oh well, more candy for me!

Eerie Editing

Back to our theme, what makes an image “eerie?” With our sunny days and cold nights, we’ve had lots of ground fog which makes for an eerie photo.

Spooky Sunrise
Eerie Sunrise in black and white

“At night the fog was thick and full of light, and sometimes voices.”

Erin Bow, Plain Kate

Another way to invoke “eerie” is to shoot or edit in black and white. I took the original image, then edited it to black and white, and added some other effects.

Suburban pocket forestEerie Edited Forest
A beautiful forest transforms into an eerie sight on Halloween

A visit to Apple Hill near Sacramento in 2019 on the actual Halloween day gave us inspiration for some wine-tasting using this creepy gargoyle aerator!

Gargoyle Wine Stopper

If you use your imagination, perhaps with a twist of the screen, you’ll find mythical beasts in the reflections.

Autumn Lake ReflectionsDragon Faces at an angle

Eerie Sounds

Speaking of eerie. Recently, in our backyard with my dog Aero about 1:30am, I heard what I thought was a coyote howling. I’m terrified my little 13-pound dog will be attacked by coyotes (it has happened to neighbors’ dogs!). So I am vigilant when we go out to do his business. I waited for the yip-yip to accompany the spine-chilling “howl” but heard nothing except another howl, this time with undertones of a whistle and roar. Sufficiently nervous, we went in quickly and I thought no more about it until I read another blogger’s post (Donna from Wind Kisses) which described the mating call of the bull elk during the Autumn mating season as a “bugle.” It was then I realized I had heard an elk’s mating call. That close to my backyard?? As the video suggests, I imagined Tolkein’s ringwraiths calling to me! Eerriieee!

Eerie Aurora

I’ve been dying to share this image on my blog. Many of you might have already seen it on Instagram and Facebook. I follow a Facebook group called Nine Mile Aurora Chasers and I read a post that mentioned weather conditions were perfect for the aurora borealis, also known as the northern lights, to be seen in Spokane, Washington area. Yes, please.

To my naked eye, the aurora looked merely like a grey, misty cloud on the horizon. Had I not been tipped off by Google and the Facebook group, I would have missed it. When I imagine the northern lights, I expect to see eerie green and blue ripples of light dancing above my head. I’ve since learned you must be much further north to see them in that fashion.

The northern lights usually occur between 60 and 75 degrees of latitude, which covers northern parts of Canada, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Alaska and Russia as well as all of Iceland.

Discover the World

I used my Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ to photograph the horizon to the northeast from my house using night mode. When I saw what my lens saw, I jumped for joy. Using a little ambient light from the neighbors’ lights helped more than hindered.

Aurora Borealis from my porch
Aurora Borealis from my porch

The Aurora is created when the energy from a solar flare emitted by our sun hits earth. One such flare hit earth Monday night, creating a rare spectacle that could be seen across much of the norther tier of the United States. The aurora was visible across the Inland Northwest thanks to clear skies overhead and relatively early nightfall this time of year.

KREM 2 News

A rare and joyful, if slightly eerie experience, indeed.

“Sharp winds ruffled his coat and caused bare tree limbs to bend and rustle, throwing eerie shadows on the ground.”

Mateo’s Law

Do you know what else is eerie? According to WordPress:

Happy Anniversary with WordPress.com!
You registered on WordPress.com 10 years ago.
Thanks for flying with us. Keep up the good blogging.

Photo Challenges this Week

Sunday Stills Photo Challenge Reminders

  • Please create a new post for the theme or link a recent one.
  • Title your blog post a little differently than mine.
  • Don’t forget to create a pingback to this post so that other participants can read your post. I also recommend adding your post’s URL into the comments.
  • Entries for this theme can be posted all week.
  • Use hashtag #SundayStills for sharing on social media.

Sunday Stills is a wonderful community of bloggers and photographers who desire to connect with one another. Below are the last week’s links from bloggers who shared their favorite seasonal decoration photos. If at any point I have accidentally left anyone off the list, please let me know!

Always Write

Bushboys World

Cats and Trails and Garden Tales

Cath’s Camera

Deb’s World

Easin’ Along (Image shared in comments)

Equipoise Life (Image shared in comments)

Geriatrix Fotogallerie

Graham’s Island

Hugh’s Views and News (Image shared in Comments)

Loving Life

Musin With Susan

Priorhouse Blog

Retirementally Challenged

Retirement Reflections (Image posted on Instagram)

Shutters on the World

Soul N Spirit

Stevie Turner

Wind Kisses

Woolly Muses

Women Living Well After 50

Working on Exploring

To see more of my images and other news, consider following Terri on Social Media by clicking the icons:

November’s themes are ready for your viewing pleasure on my Sunday Stills Photography Page. Next Sunday the theme is “Fur and Feathers.”

I look forward to your eerie posts all week!

Halloween Signature

© 2021 Copyright — secondwindleisure.com — All Rights Reserved

Sunday Stills: The Power of Fantastic #Florals

American Beauty Rose, "The Earth laughs in flowers." Quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson

This week, for Sunday Stills, let’s blow up WordPress and the rest of the Internet with gorgeous flowers! We all need some hope and beauty in our lives. Linking to Sunday Stills this week will be like we are sending each other wonderful bouquets.

From Hawaii Botanical Gardens in Hilo, 2019

Purple hibiscus flower
“Blue Bayou” Hibiscus hybrid

Calming Florals

If you haven’t read Cindy Knoke’s incredible photo-blog, please view her post, Pandemic Anxiety Busters, where she not only shares her stunning florals, but also her expertise as a psychotherapist.

Last spring’s hydrangea.

Blue and purple hydrangeas

Did you know that merely looking at photos of nature will calm your stress levels?

“Flowers always make people better, happier and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine for the soul.” Luther Burbank

Flower Power

Plumeria blossom
Plumeria Close-Up
Black and White Sunflower Bud

Be as creative as possible: show us a field of flowers, or an extreme close-up of your favorite flower. Try a new angle to create a fantasy look to your flower.

These tree blossoms looked like snow after a spring storm!

Tree blossoms scatter on top of walkway

Or use your photo-editing skills to show us a fantasy flower.

Painted Plumeria

This one was created from the Painnt Filter I describe below.

Drops on Top

I am linking some of my square florals of raindrops on top with Becky B’s new April Squares Challenge, Top.

Geranium Drops
Raindrops on top of my geranium.
Drops on tops of rosebud
Droplets on my American Beauty Rose
Drops on Top
My backyard plumerias enjoy Northern California’s rain and heat
Last teddy sunflower of the summer

Digital Floral Art

I love the Painnt-Pro Art Filters (for android and apple) for editing images into something different.

Painnted Hibiscus flower

I also enjoy the digital coloring app Oil Painting by Color Planet. I LOVE photography, but I also like to color! I find this to be very relaxing.

Sunflowers Graphic
Fantasy FLorals

I use my photo editing clone feature to make the logo disappear.

You can save your creations from both apps to your devices for a variety of uses: wallpaper for devices, photo-editing, etc. Both apps can be found in the Apple store and Google Play for Android users. They are free if you don’t mind the ads.

Painnted Plumeria
Painnted Sunflower

For Sunday Stills challenge this week, it’s OK to use flowers from your media files, if you can’t get out and find new images. All of these flowers and their fantasy counterparts were grown in my backyard!

And most of these images were taken by my various Samsung Galaxy series mobile phones!

Join the flower power by linking with Cee’s Flower of the Day! She loves flowers, too!

The sky is the limit this week and I can’t wait to see what you have to share.

American Beauty Rose, "The Earth laughs in flowers." Quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Fitness Friday: No Excuses Fitness Book Cover Reveal

No Excuses Fitness Cover

As I near the completion of my book No Excuses Fitness, I’ve been experimenting with the layout of Kindle book covers.

After some trial and error, and critique and feedback from some folks, I chose this as the final candidate.

No Excuses Fitness Cover
Final Cover

What do you think?

How did I do it, you ask? Here are the tools I used: Unsplash, Dropbox, PicMonkey, Canva, and Painnt. Let me take you step-by-step.

It was surprisingly easy, using an image from Unsplash, an overlay from Canva (free version), the mobile Painnt app and my premium PicMonkey account, saving everything to my Dropbox account.

overlay example

I initially used Canva to research templates for Kindle book covers. Although the free version of Canva has Kindle cover templates, I found it very limiting, unless I bought the premium package. However, I did find a textured overlay that I exported.

Although I have a lot of my own fitness images, I decided to search in Unsplash, a free image collection website. I found a silhouette of a woman running which works for this cover and for what I want to convey. Unsplash allows users to use, edit and publish images without copyright infringement.

silhouette of runner
Original Unsplash Image

A small caveat: using images of faces from free or reduced-fee image collection sites is risky, in my opinion. They are probably OK to use for blogs, and I use these images for my PowerPoint slides, but I would steer clear of using faces in a published book or other works. How do you know the person authorized their image to be used? Lawsuits happen over copyright infringement, so keep yourself protected.

Painnt Image graphic

Once I cropped the image, I used Painnt, (a mobile app that lets you upload images to your choice of filters), to alter the image further. I chose a filter that had similar colors to the above overlay.

In PicMonkey, I used their book cover template and simply used the Canva overlay as the base. I then uploaded the image (as an overlay) and experimented with text and colors with the result you now see in the first image.

If you are a serious photographer and want to easily edit your images and create graphics for blogging and other projects, but don’t want to spend a lot of dollars, I highly recommend the premium package of PicMonkey.

Picmonkey costs $47.88 per year ($3.99/month) which now gives me free access to mobile editing straight from my phone.

I like Painnt for the filter effects. Painnt is a Microsoft product for mobile that costs $12.00 per year and eliminates the watermark.

If you are a Canva user and have a premium account, you should be able to create Kindle covers very easily.

I save all my work in Dropbox. I also pay for a premium Dropbox account which costs $120 a year ($10 a month) giving me 2TB of storage.

Below are the three covers that were voted down. They were all created using the tools as described above.

As a photographer, I enjoy using Adobe LightRoom but I save that for the serious images rather than graphic design projects. Topaz Labs, a photo editor with cool filters, is an add-on to LightRoom. Both of these are on the pricey side. I chose Painnt over Topaz Labs since I don’t use it every day. LightRoom already comes with my educator subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud.

To create my final book cover, my cost was about $15, not counting the time I put in to do the work.

While on my creative cover streak, I also created a custom logo and watermark for the book and social media. What do you think?

Signature

This was created in PicMonkey, too, using text and overlay features. I was able to change colors from the original overlay. Her hair color now matches mine and I like green.

If you delve into the world of creating book covers or other graphic design projects and have a little creativity and patience, then I hope you can find the right set of tools for use. These worked for me.

Eventually I will have to design a paperback cover, too. I believe Kindle KDP has a “how-to” for that. I will keep you posted. And I will welcome any ideas and suggestions.

My launch date for No Excuses Fitness is set for early June 2020. #NoEXFit

Creating an attractive book cover is both an art and a science. Hiring a professional to create your book cover is money well-spent, but if you have skills in photography and graphic design, you can successfully create your own using the tools as I have explained.

And it was fun and a nice break from writing.

…And I need to get back to it!

Who knows? Once I finish this book project, I might delve into book cover design!

© 2019 Copyright-All rights reserved-secondwindleisure.com

Sunday Stills: Fun with #Photo-Editing

Words and camera

Words and camera

If you have ever uploaded an image to your media files for a blog post, no doubt you have edited the photo to some degree. Whether you cropped, adjusted exposure or watermarked your image for publication, there is a need and an art to photo-editing.

Some are masters at creating a digital painting, while others are just happy to have a decent photo to share. Tina at Travels and Trifles and Susan at Musin With Susan have successfully experimented with Topaz Labs.

Tina had this to say about photo-editing: “Simple edits in programs like Lightroom or Google Photos, or Apps like Snapseed or Diptic give even beginning photographers the ability to morph their photos into something a bit more artistic.”

I am no expert, believe me, my photography is pure hobbyist with some “serious leisure” thrown in.

A form of leisure that many people find themselves enjoying is “serious leisure.” This is the systematic pursuit of deep satisfaction through an amateur, hobbyist, or volunteer activity that participants find so substantial and interesting that, in the typical case, they launch themselves on a (non-work) career centered on acquiring and expressing its special skills, knowledge, and experience. Robert Stebbins, 1992

Sounds like photography to me!

When I got serious about blogging in 2014, I also got more interested in photography after learning that just grabbing images from Google and plopping them into posts was a no-no and could violate copyright laws.

Needing some know-how, I discovered WordPress’ Blogging University (I’m glad to see it is still around)…I took Photography 101 & 201 in Fall 2014 and met so many bloggers and learned a lot about photography, techniques I constantly use. The process really encouraged me to take lots of photos.

From this experience, I was exposed to PicMonkey and eventually bought the Premium package. I have yet to use most of the features but my go-to basic photo edits are cropping, exposure, saturation, and image rotation or leveling. There are almost countless editing features and you can find a tutorial on most of them. I also use the special effects, text, frames and overlays.

Although I have not yet tried the new PicMonkey yet, I will need to wait until this semester is completed before I can make my brain learn something new. I’m also flirting with the idea of using Adobe Lightroom!

I learned from a pro photographer to always straighten your images, especially if water is part of the horizon. I feel like I’m falling off the Earth!

A simple edit in post-processing will fix this minor faux-paus.

I’ve started taking a series of local photography courses. The subject of the first class was just getting to know your camera. Wow, the things I learned in the first class!

For the Sunday Stills photo challenge today, show us the before and after images of your photo-editing favorites.

To get you started, here are some of my before and after shots:

In these images from our trip to Hawaii, my eyes saw the image on the right, but the camera saw the image on the left. With a few minor edits the photo finally matched more of what my brain told my eye.

You may remember these from an earlier post and recently on Instagram, where I played around with a Painnt app. The app creates a whole new look to any image.

Many bloggers also enjoy creating graphics for their posts. Both PicMonkey and Canva do this job very well. These before and after images created my Sunday Stills graphic.

 

What is your favorite photo-editor? Do you have recommendations? Please share in the comments!

Link to this post so I can share your post! Link up below if you wish!

Autumn SIGNature