Remnants of Life

Remnants of Life PhotographNoticing the remnants of life around me. After a great visit with our family in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, we started the long drive home.  Aspen are magical, as they transform the color of an entire mountainside in Fall. They take my breath away. My husband and I stopped on the side of the road and took a short walk to stretch our legs and reenergize. We followed what looked like an old game trail meandering up the hill.

A Beautiful Spot

Remnants of Life 02
14.5w x 22.5h watercolor, acrylic on 140lb wc paper

Suddenly, as we crested the hill we came upon a beautiful meadow with a patch of brilliant yellow aspens just a little way off in the distance. There was this great old fencepost standing with a lean, he was all tangled up in barbed wire and I could see where the fence line was long ago. There were multiple posts leaning and falling down in a line leading away from us.

Remnants of Life 07I wondered what kind of stories that old fence post could tell if he could talk. That post was where a gate had hung, at the base of a beautiful expanse of grazing land. Was this a large farm or ranch in the past? Were there cattle, horses, gardens, homes, and barns? This artist’s mind kicked into high gear then. Wouldn’t it be great to explore and see if the story from a long time ago could be found? Are there pioneer cabins back there? Big ole’ log barns? Ponds?

Remnants of Life 12Where did all the people go? Standing there, we were very much alone as the sun sank further down in the sky. I took some photographs of this sturdy old cracked fence guardian before leaving.

Remnants of Life 18His, “Remnants of Life” will remain a secret, but the beauty of the land that he guards will be seen by whoever views this painting.

I Heard the Bells

Movie & PopcornYou must go see, “I Heard the Bells” at the Regal Theatres in Northtown. I guarantee you that it is absolutely worth the trip to town. Our dear friends invited us to go to Spokane and see this movie yesterday afternoon and what a blessing it was. I believe it was the best movie I have seen in years. Can’t wait to buy a copy of it on DVD so we can watch it every year.

The acting was absolutely inspirational. The story of the Longfellow family will embrace your heart. You will never listen to that beautiful “I Heard the Bells”, song again without thinking of this story in the background.

Max is the Talking Dog

Max 005

Max talks to us

Max is the talking dog, check out his YouTube video link above. He is a half Swiss Mountain Dog, half Pit Bull who likes to tell us it is time to go outside and play, time to eat, time to cruise in the car or pickup, etc. He is the very “vocal dude” in the house who wants to run the fastest, always, whenever he is outside because he is a racer. We love his voice and his fabulous eyebrow expressions.

Mountain Blue Bird Photography

Mountain Blue Bird 01Mountain Blue Birds. Imagine focusing on the bride and groom as they are taking their wedding vows. Then suddenly noticing, a bluebird perched on a fencepost right beside you. Some of the best shots I have ever gotten were accidental.

Mountain Blue Bird 02My brother and sister-in-law let me borrow their camera to take pictures of a wedding and reception at the Woelk family farm property that Dan and Ann owned.

Before digital photography became affordable, my photos had to be more carefully planned. When shooting with film the costs involved with developing and printing the film prohibit you from making unusable mediocre or bad prints.

Depletion of your wallet content is a great incentive to improve your photography skills.

Mountain Blue Bird 03I fell in love with Dan’s professional digital camera that day. Pete saved and bought me a “real” camera the next year, a Nikon D60.

Mountain Blue Bird 04It is a true blessing to be able to shoot as many pictures as you may want without the worry about the cost of developing negatives and printing to hold you back. The most time-consuming part of photography for me now is, sorting through, naming, and discarding the less than perfect shots.

As I worked on sorting through the wedding shots that week, I keep finding myself going back to these pictures of the Mountain Blue Bird and his beautiful cerulean blue plumage. The fence post with its twisted-up wire and fungus has a ton of character too. I was hooked.

Many paintings I do begin from love affairs like this with photography.

Yellow Rose 01

Rose Yellow PhotoYellow Rose 01 Tutorial. When your garden provides the perfect yellow rose, you just have to paint it. This photograph captured all of the curving surfaces so well that I could not resist.

Rose Yellow Sketch

Beginning with laying out the blossom I add some stem, leaves, and smaller buds alongside. I work with the arrangement until I feel a little interesting movement happening between the shapes and sizes.

Rose Yellow 02

Beginning with lemon yellow as the palest, and adding Azo Nickel yellow and then even some light cad I begin to get the first petals to curve and show me their light. Each and every petal has highlighted areas, medium tones, and the shadows making up the changing surfaces. Petals are not flat.Rose Yellow 03 As more of the petals are given their yellow base washes I begin to see the magic of three-dimensional illusion begin to appear. Flowers are so very amazing with the way they curve every which way showing light hitting their surfaces in ever-changing values.

The rose foliage is also given an initial watercolor wash in light yellow and thin sap greens.


Dahlias Closeup 01

dahlia Closeup Layout 3

I take pictures of my dahlias closeup then use them to rearrange where they are on the canvas till I am satisfied with the layout before I paint them. These are two of the pictures that have the two largest flowers, so you can see what I mean by moving them around.

Dahlia Closeup 01

I see the beauty of the blooms popping out over a bed full of green leaves and stems somewhat blurry in the background. My eyes see this set of photos this way when I glance at them.

Now the trick will be to decide what amount of detail I want to include in the leaves behind and underneath the flowers. This is the layout sketch for this painting of Dahlias Closeup from our garden before I get the paints out.


Games Kids Play

Jenka Lottie Isaac Ben 05
Jenka Lottie Isaac Ben 05

Games kids play. The amazing thing about this whole series of pictures is the changing facial expressions and reactions of all the people as they watched. Jenka affects the whole group and this game got the whole family going. In this first image you can see avid interest as Lottie selects which piece she is going to take.

Jenka Lottie Isaac Ben 04
Jenka Lottie Isaac Ben 04

With the middle of the column already pretty unstable, it was getting difficult to remove pieces without making it fall. Nerve racking. The boys are surprised at which piece she chose.

Jenka Lottie Isaac Ben 07
Jenka Lottie Isaac Ben 07
Jenka Lottie Isaac Ben 08
Jenka Lottie Isaac Ben 08

They watch the piece move. Look at the intense expressions while watching with anticipation (including a tongue).

Jenka Lottie Isaac Ben 10
Jenka Lottie Isaac Ben 10

She does it without having the blocks topple over and it blows Isaac’s mind.

Jenka Lottie Isaac Ben 11
Jenka Lottie Isaac Ben 11

Lottie is feeling truly triumphant! Yay! La Dee Dah!



Expressions Playing Games

Ben Jenka 13
Which one should I try?

Pictures that show youthful expressions playing games. Young people playing Jenka for New Year.

Ben Jenka 15
This one.
Ben Jenka 16

Even though the tower shakes, he keeps slowly pulling the piece out.

Ben Jenka 13
Stay up there, come on.
Ben Jenka 18
Whew! Got it.
Ben Jenka 19
I did it! Wow! Can you believe it!
Ben Jenka 20

What lesson does Jenka teach?

Trust that even if life places a task that looks virtually impossible in front of me, I can still succeed.

Photography Surprises

OCampo Wedding FOB 1 surprises
OCampo Wedding FOB 1


I love to find photography surprises when I am wearing my photographer hat! As I swung around to catch the “father of the groom” with “the stepmother” I got the first photograph shot. Then stepped in for a better one and captured an unexpected wonderful surprise. Four members of the groom’s family instead of two.

OCampo Wedding FOB brothers surprises
OCampo Wedding FOB brothers

Right Place & Time

In the space of a second just between the two shots, the view changed to include two more who are the groom’s brothers walking behind their father. This would be impossible to orchestrate. Can you imagine trying to capture this shot right when the shutter opened. Take 1,000,000,000. It was simply one of those photography surprises. Lucky me!

New Equipment

I was not an official photographer for the wedding but fully enjoyed being able to use our new camera, a Nikon 7500 to capture the “non-pro” shots of the day. There is no better way for me to discover equipment capabilities than just jumping in and using a camera or lens to get familiar with it. The proof is in the pudding then, cause it either works or it doesn’t.

OCampo Wedding Photographer
OCampo Wedding Photographer

I was able to just relax and capture what was going on all around in the background. What a fully enjoyable day, I didn’t have to stress, because Pat and Kim Flanigan already had a wonderful lady doing a fantastic job in that department already. Sorry, I don’t know her name, but if you need a photographer you should get this one who is pictured above!

It is an honor to be able to attend our grand daughters wedding (alias Colleen Flanigan) this weekend. We are so lucky to have people who love us, and include us in their lives like our family does. There is now a proud couple in our family, Juan and Colleen OCampo! We love you!


Photography Pet Peeves

I have identified photography pet peeves as I wade through the trending volumes of unprofessional photography available on the worldwide web.

Butt Shots!

butt shotButt shots are the worst. How many “butt-shots” do we need to see? Honestly, it pays to get on the other side of the table to photograph the birthday cake. How many backs of, heads and butts do we need to see before we can actually see the face of the birthday girl blow out the candles?

Please crop the crowd showing us their backs to focus on the recognizable face or focal point! Do the world a favor. Delete the photograph if it is only a shot made up of butts.


selfie Girl
selfie |ˈselfē| (also selfy)

noun (pl.selfies) informal

a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and shared via social media: occasional selfies are acceptable, but posting a new picture of yourself everyday isn’t necessary.

Really! I love the way that this definition ends by saying a new selfie every day is not necessary. Selfies are overused to document everyday activities and companions by everyone. They have now become a standard portrait method.

Have you ever considered that those closeup faces allow widespread facial recognition and location tracking?

Is big brother watching? Yes, you bet he is!

I do not consider the selfie as an art form.


An artistic image invites us in to feel, remember and become part of what holds our gaze. Those candid action shots that freeze the movement perfectly in the sports arena, or the thoughtful portrait that balances light and focuses with a memorable expression. Even the magnificent storytelling essence of an expansive landscape or event in history. Remembering, the importance of excellence makes me spat when I see a warped face in a group stacked together in a selfie!

Any image that we quickly glance at, see and move away from, does not fall into the category of art for me.

Certainly, a selfie’s facial distortion does not come close to the magical essence of the professional portrait capturing a storyline or personality elegantly.