Sunday Morning Coffee #16

I’d like you to meet my newest friend.

People often ask me how I get my photos. In the first place, they don’t believe they’re real, and then they think I must live in a magic bubble where amazing tableaux present themselves on a regular basis.

Not so – you just have to be observant and patient, always have your camera handy, know how to use it, and think outside the box.

This beautiful American Lady Butterfly was on the windowsill in the garden studio this morning. I had gone out there with my coffee to plant some seeds – and there she was. Back into the house for the camera and lenses!

My first idea was to find an angle that would show her off, but this wasn’t easy. The windowsill hid part of her wing, the windowsill was dirty from the wind storm we are having, and the backlighting and shadow were a photographer’s nightmare . . .

I came back in the house and told Mark I got “evidence” that she was here, but not a “photo”.

Things like this really bug me, however, and I was soon out there again with a macro lens – wondering if she might move to a better spot for me. The true traditionalist nature photographer does not alter the scene, don’t you know, so I would have to talk her into moving.

No dice. She seemed to really like that windowsill.

Then I noticed some spider web in the window sill and wondered if she was stuck there. Butterfly Rescue might have to be called in. And that wouldn’t count as “moving your subject”, right?

I got a bamboo plant stick and placed it under her to lift her up. She hung on and even started posing for me (first photo in this post). So, there I am, butterfly “wand” in one hand, camera in the other, and all I have to do is move us all to better light, and ask her to spread her wings . . .

She is back on her windowsill (now cleared of spiderwebs) and all is well. I think she wants to fly off somewhere, but the winds today could blow her into a wall, and the low tonight will be in the 20’s, so she is much better off staying warm inside with the flowers and plants.

Duh! Digital Photography . . .

I have been asked many times to do a workbook on photography for those who do not want to dedicate themselves to becoming great photographers, but want to take better photos with their digital cameras (and phones).

I support that idea because better photos are better to look at.

Even if you never get off “Auto”, you can learn how to take a much better photograph.

So, I am willing to take on this project, but I really need your help.


Yes, you read that right. Once you know what you are doing with a camera, it is a lot harder to take  a bad photo on purpose. I can’t. And if I could, they would not be the kind of bad photos most people want to fix.

To study the things that go wrong in photography, you need to look at samples and talk about what happened – and learn how to avoid it.

So, therefore, I am asking for your help.

Email me your most disappointing photos – to this email address:

If I get enough examples, I will do the workbook using them. Your photos will be anonymous, of course. We are not out to embarrass anyone.

If I do the Workbook and use your photo, you will get a discount on the book.

Artist of the Week/Blog Favorite

This week I want to celebrate both the art and the hard won art career of Andrea Joseph.

Some of you will remember that I have mentioned Andrea before,. I first ran into her work through the Everyday Matters Group back in 2007, and I was fascinated. I did an interview with her for a short lived journaling publication of mine which some of you will also remember.

Andrea’s work is fabulous. While it is hyper-realistic, it is also full of whimsy and fun, and because she lives in England, it also offers a lovely peek at subtle cultural differences.

She works almost exclusively in Moleskine Sketcbooks and considers her works journals.

At first Andrea worked only in ballpoint pen, and did things like this . . .

She now has expanded to some colored pencil work and is experimenting with that.

But the cool thing, if you have been following Andrea for a long time, is to see how she has built herself an art business. She has an Etsy site where she sells prints of her works, and wonderful, printed Zines, in which she hand draws all the little advertisements! She also sells some of her designs as postcards, greeting cards, and stickers through a printing site called Moo – which does have an American online store as well.

I am discovering, now that I have some time to read blogs, that I really enjoy those that tell the story of an artist’s development as an artist. What are they doing to further their cause? What experiments went well or went wrong. I love following along with the thought processes of creation and the shared glimpses into the daily life of this creative person.

Andrea’s Sketchblog is one that I love and read regularly.

I will send you there, and in the sidebar, you can find the Etsy Store, and her Flickr page which has hundreds of drawings you can enlarge and study up close.

Andrea Joseph’s Sketch Blog

Who Can Post to Your Facebook Page?

I have to be honest and say I am not a Facebook fan. Something about everybody knowing everything about everybody gives me the heebie-jeebies. But, there are business reasons for me to be on Facebook and I enjoy staying in touch (if you can call it that) with family and friends I don’t see often enough. So, I’m there.

And it baffled me why my Newsfeed was telling me SO MUCH about people on my Friend’s List – like what news articles they were reading etc. And I didn’t like it because they were reading stuff I didn’t even want to hear about in headline form. TOO MUCH INFORMATION!

And then I explored my Privacy Settings and found a list of 10+ websites that had the ability to post as me to my Facebook page. They were telling my friends what I was doing too!

Now I am not a computer dummy, and I say no to everything that pops up, and I did allow my Twitter and WordPress accounts to post my blog updates to Facebook.

But who were these other people?!

It turns out that, in essence, Facebook can follow you around the web – even when you are not signed into Facebook. To be fair, it is not Facebook following you, it is a bunch of cookies.

Some would say it would not be so bad to be followed around by a bunch of cookies – if they were fresh and warm – but these are not chocolate chips we are talking about.

Some websites report your activities to Facebook, and their ways of getting permission to do that must be pretty obscure – because I was being watched by a lot of them that I not only did not allow, I never even heard of these sites.

So here is how to check for this . . .

to Facebook and go to your Home/Privacy Settings

It is a good idea to go through everything here – and choose who can see and share what from your Facebook page. But most importantly find the Apps and Websites section and click Edit Settings

This whole section is crazy, but first turn off any Apps and Websites you do not recognize. You can click to turn off all apps unless you do use an auto-reposting feature like I do for WordPress and Twitter.

Then, go through and edit the three headings that follow. Read the wording carefully. When you turn things off, you will get a pop-up window telling you what you will be giving up if you do that – like maybe someone won’t know it’s you if they can’t see your Profile info and pass it on to other apps! Big loss, right?

This whole thing creeps me out – especially since I did not know it was going on until I read about it in some tech news article.

I don’t want to know what news articles you are reading or what you just bought from where, and I know you don’t want to know that much about me.

So, let’s get rid of all this stuff when we find it.

Happy, Happy Spring to you – from the American Lady and I.

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