Friday, April 8, 2016

Thousands of Relaxing Photos for a Friday

So what are you doing on the weekend?

Asked the question by a co-worker on this particular Friday morning, I listed a full schedule of travel and socializing, babysitting and family, responsibilities and chores. Pretty much the same as any other weekend.

With that in mind the photo collections selected for today are going to be all about what I often wish I could squeeze a little more of into my weekends — relaxing.

I'm not sure what's changed in my life. Maybe it's my age. Maybe it's an attempt to slow time. Maybe it's a re-jigging of priorities.  Whatever the root cause, some days I really feel I would like to just stop this carousel ride, get off, kick back and watch the mad bustle of others instead.

I know I was busy when I was younger, but even with little children it never felt this crazy. Whether it was my afternoon tea at nap, or lazy summer days at the beach, I found moments all my own. Now, however, when 'me time' is found, it's typically guilty minutes snatched between jobs to be done and a packed calendar of visiting and hosting.

And I know I'm not alone in this.

Full-time employment ensures that folks have a lot of tasks to accomplish, and life to fit into,  their weekends. What we can't do or manage to achieve on a week night will be attacked on a Saturday or Sunday.

On this I am perhaps my own worst enemy.  I hate chaos. So, of course, I put a lot of pressure on myself to restore order after not getting to all the things I feel must be done before the next week begins. This, however, is the way I've always been.


The social elements of my life aren't new either. The calendar for as long as I can remember has been full of things to do. What can I say? I love to party.

The busyness, therefore, is nothing new to my life.  Yet of late there is a strong desire to slow down this crazy world I've created.  At least a bit.  When Monday comes again, while I thoroughly enjoy every aspect of my weekend,  I typically feel like I was on a treadmill and forgot to get off.

So I'm going to strive to find those moments this weekend and take advantage of them.  I will seek my inspiration from these promised photo collections:

iPHOTOS.com Pictures of People Relaxing

Clipart.com Pictures of People Relaxing

Acclaim Images Photos of People Relaxing

Thursday, April 7, 2016

6 Great Sites for Photography Tips

Way back when only professional photographers spent a lot of time taking pictures,  I was a bit snap happy myself.  A camera was with me at parties, gatherings and vacations,  it was in my hands to follow my children around and was an essential part of every milestone in their lives.

At the time, I never really thought that I was taking a lot of pictures. The more than a dozen photo albums taking up space in a closet now tell a different story however. They are my chronicle of life from the birth of my oldest child until my first digital camera. Leafing through them is a sentimental journey with moments and occasions to be treasured.

In those days I knew very little about how to take a great photo. It was more about preserving the memory than it was about making sure it was done well.  Keep in mind that this was the era of Instamatic and Polaroid, so all of the fault wasn't mine.

Only when I began working for a small community newspaper  did I find out that there was more to taking a picture than pointing and shooting.  In looking at my portfolio during my job interview, the publisher remarked on my good eye. My technique, he added, we could work on. 

And that we did. Primarily with lessons on aperture, shutter speed and why a different type of film was necessary for shooting in arenas without flash.

They were valuable lessons that I was able to take with me in my leisure photography. Yet I always knew there was still much to learn. Training on the job gave me only the minimum knowledge required — given that good eye of mine and a dark room to correct the work. 

It was enough, however, to pique my interest. I soon purchased a good 35 mm of my own and photography playtime began. With a full-time job and the demands of a growing family, however,  this amounted to little more than a game of trial and error, adjusting settings to see what results were achieved.

Nothing really changed once the switch was made to digital. Of late, however, as retirement looms closer and recognizing that photography is probably what interests me most as a potential hobby, I have been scoping out websites with valuable lessons to help me understand my camera better and to hone my photography skills.

Here are just a few of my favourites:

Digital Photography School

Digital Camera World

New York Institute of Photography

The-Digital-Picture

PetaPixel

BestPhotoLessons

CreativeLive

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

4 Collections of Yoga Illustrations

For close to three years now I've been grunting and groaning my way through a weekly yoga class. Fortunately, it consists of a group of women my age who are making much the same sounds I am.

The creaking and cramping going on in our bodies is a good indication that life wasn't going to get any better for any of us if we hadn't found this way to slow the slide down the hill.

Though I've far from mastered any of the many poses, I know that physically I'm in better shape than when I started. The  challenges of yoga are far outweighed by the benefits.

Last night, our yogini shared some fitness articles that speak to these benefits. Relief of arthritis, fighting osteoporosis, strengthening and toning,  improved flexibility, balance, posture and focus add up to make this one of the best activities you can do for your body long term, claimed the expert advice.  Given that much of the exercise  I had done in the past contributed to a lot of the physical woes I experience now, that makes sense to me.

The condition of my feet and hips has been blamed on years of high impact aerobics,  back when Jane Fonda said it was a good idea.  Cycling without understanding the importance of a good stretch had tightened my hamstrings and quadriceps to a point of no return, while shin splints and tight calves are leftover from my 1990s speed walks. Step aerobics did nothing to help my knees either.

Since I knew I was to blame for some of this, I took a more proactive approach in determining what options were left to me. Ultimately, I decided that yoga with its strengthening and stretching, its focus and concentration was the right choice. Also, with its cool Eastern vibe it was a good fit for the old hippie in me.

In the three years of practising, despite the groaning and grunting, I've realized that this is actually the first form of exercise I've loved doing. Though challenged by poses, as of yet there has been nothing I can't handle. The positive effects were almost immediate. I feel calmer, more grounded and after a good session I sleep like an old dog basking in the summer sunshine.

So in celebration of this positive turn in my life, here are some wonderful collections of yoga clipart:

iCLIPART.com Yoga Illustrations

Clipart.com Yoga Illustrations

Acclaim Images Yoga Clipart

ClickArt Online Yoga Illustrations

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Create a Seasonal Yin Yang in Photoshop

Talk about the weather these days in this corner of the world, seems to be the only conversation out there. We've hit April with all the force and ill temper of January. Everyone, even fans of the coldest season, are disappointed by Mother Nature's practical joke. 

Given winter's slow start and unseasonable warm spells,  we had all anticipated a short visit. Instead, like an unwelcome guest it lingers, displaying its bad habits far more frequently than it did during its scheduled visit.

Upon opening the blinds on this particular April morning I stared out at a snowy landscape that sent the spirits dropping. Then a quick check of the weather predicting sub-zero temperatures proved even more disheartening.

However, as dawn arrived, the dark sky made way for brilliant sunshine and I opted to focus my mood in that direction. Snow might fall at this time of year, but the warmth of the sun ensures its imminent demise.  It never has and won't last forever.  Spring might not arrive in as timely manner as we would like, but its promise to us is a goodbye to winter weather for another year.

Taking this encouraging reminder with me as I walked over to the bathroom window,  I was surprised by the sight of a plump robin sitting atop the screen protector on the eavestrough. This one had been hanging around our home lately and I was a bit concerned by its strange behaviour now. Despite clearly seeing me in its zone, it never budged. Worrying that it was injured, frozen to the icy surface or near death, but needing to get ready for work, I decided to check back later.

When I did she was, to my relief,  gone.

Then as I left the house to head for work some time later, I saw her sprinting happily across the blanketed lawn, flitting into shrubs and bushes, chirping in the heat of the sun.  I decided  that if this fragile creature could put on a brave face in this dismal start to spring so could I.  In this life there is good and bad and we must take what we get.

In the spirit of that, I have found a perfect tutorial for this wintry spring Tuesday — a seasonal yin yang symbol to create in Photoshop. Yin yang, the interconnecting of negative and positive forces,  seems more than an appropriate symbol for April 2016.

Create a Seasonal Yin Yang in Photoshop

Monday, April 4, 2016

3 Collections of Swan Clipart

This past weekend the beautiful city of Stratford, located in south-western Ontario, Canada,  enjoyed a unique celebration.  Each spring, the lovely swans which float the picturesque river and Victoria Lake, are ceremoniously paraded from their winter home back to the waters they love.

Despite the miserable cold weather, my daughters and I decided to brave the elements and take their kiddies to see these majestic birds.

A crowd lined the street and the view for the wee ones was limited to what happened right in front of them.  Hearing the pipe band gave them a heads up that something was happening and they delighted in the drums and bagpipes, until suddenly before their very eyes strutted a flock of swans.  Large and close enough to be just out of reach, they brought wide eyes to, and delighted squeals from,  my three beautiful grandbabies.

After they passed, the three-year-old could barely wait to get to the river to catch another glance of them at their elegant best. The damp chill was no deterrent, the biting wind was barely noticed,  as we watched them fly over and glide through the still water.

Though we had joked about the swans dipping one webbed foot into the chilly river and turning back to the warmth from which they had come, we knew it wouldn't happen. While we might have been quite unhappy with the turn spring had taken, it is within the comfort zone for these birds and easily overlooked to return to the element they love.

Crossing the bridge to the island, we were treated to three swans soaring over the patch of grass before settling gracefully on the water. Returning home along the river's edge, we watched a dozen of them floating picturesquely beside us until the nip in the air sent us to shelter.

Now, as I reflect on special time with my family and think about the return of these majestic creatures to Stratford's beautiful landscape,  scoping out some swan illustrations for today's message seemed appropriate. Here are three terrific collections:

iCLIPART.com Swan Illustrations

Clipart.com Swan Illustrations

ClickArt Online Swan Illustrations