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Happy spring

Spring is a time of new life. Both Easter and Passover are celebrations of that.

These days the exuberant, lush new life of spring feels a bit awkward. We are living under an unseen, often deadly, cloud, but the sun is shining. We are feeling threatened and uncertain, yet the trees are leafing out, and spring flowers are blooming, including the blossoms of fruit trees, promising a harvest to come, just like usual.

The challenge of this spring is to be patient and careful, and also to appreciate the beauty. Stay safe, but be happy also.

Photos and wishes for you to have a happy spring.

My spirit lifters

My amaryllises are still going strong, but I think this may be their last hurrah for the year. The three bulbs have been providing cheer continuously since the beginning of December. I’m not generally a great lover of red but the weather has been cloudy and I’ve really been enjoying the different shades of red and the way the light plays on the petals.

Red amaryllises in full bloom.
You can see the buds in the lower left corner. The first shall be last.

The one that started the display in early December is also the one that has one still unopened bud. Obviously an over achiever in more than one way!

For Nancy Merrill’s Photo a Week: Red

…and Cee’s Flower of the Day

…and the closeup of the pollen is for Sunshine’s Macro Monday.

Putting a twist on it using the GIMP

I used the GIMP to turn a photo of an amaryllis into a swirling abstract.
An abstract of my amaryllis.

I admire the work of both Bren of Brashley Photography and Julie Powell. I’ve learned a lot from them. This morning Bren posted a “Twirling Tuesday Challenge”. It intrigued me, but the directions (written by Julie Powell) were for Photoshop.

Being an amateur on a fixed income I haven’t sprung for the Adobe Photoshop software. I wondered if I could create a similar effect in the GIMP. GIMP stands for Gnu Image Manipulation Program. It is shareware, which means the price right.

A bit of internet research and experimentation today led me to this process:

Step 1: Load my photo.

My bright red amaryllis in full bloom is cheering on a chilly, gray March day.
This picture seems to radiate out from the center of the flower. I thought it might make an interesting twirl.

Step not taken:

Both Julie Powell’s directions and the video on Brashley photos post use a Photoshop filter in the pixelate menu called “mezzotint”. The GIMP doesn’t have that choice near that in its pixelize filter. There is a GIMP plug in to get the effect, but I decided to see what would happen without that step. I was in the mood to play with pretty things, not be a computer geek..maybe next week.

Step 2: Zoom Motion Blur

Filters>Blur>Zoom motion blur. I moved the center to the middle of the flower and cranked the blurring factor up to 0.515 and left the other parameters at default.

Amaryllis with the GIMP's Zoom motion blur applied.

Step 3: Repeat step 2

Amaryllis photo with the GIMP's Zoom mothion bur filter applied twice.
Same settings as for step 2 were used.

If you wanted you could repeat this again.

Step 4: A positive spin on it

I made a copy of the step 3 layer and applied Filters>Distorts>Whirl and Pinch using the default settings to get this:

Amaryllis photo with zoom motion blurring and a whirl and pinch distort added using the GIMP.
Whirled and pinched.

Step 5: A negative spin on it

I mad another duplicate of the step 3 image, moved it above the layer from step 4, and again used the Filter>Distorts>Whirl and Pinch, but for this layer I made the angle negative (I forgot to jot down the exact number, but I think it was around -200).

A negative spin on it.

Step 6: Experiment with blend modes

Not much to say about this, I just tested all of the various blend modes on the layer made in step 5 until I found ones I liked. Here are my two favorites:

Lighten only blend mode.
Addition blend mode.


It was fun to give this a try and the GIMP was quite easy to use to get the twirled effect. So much so that I may become addicted to abstraction.

Which way to Paradise? It’s a loop trail!

Here are a few photos from a walk we took round trip from Paradise Bay on Urupukapuka Island for Alive and Trekking’s Which Way Challenge. I wish I could also share with you the smell of the air, the bush had a sweet smell, and the singing of the birds, and the warmth of the air with a cool breeze for balance…

Another “way”

Heading out for a glorious day on the Bay of Islands, aboard the good ship R. Tucker Thompson.
Come sail away!
Continue reading Which way to Paradise? It’s a loop trail!


When we were hiking in the Opua Forest in the Bay of Islands New Zealand this guy jumped onto my husbands hat.

A stick insect climed aboard my husband's hat.

He went laps on the hat while we tried to convince him that he would ultimately be happier in the woods. Eventually we found some growth that he was willing to climb on and we bid him (her?) adieu.

A stick insect moving from a hat onto a shrub.
Finally we found an appealing bit of foliage.
A stick insect.
Good bye little friend!

For Brashley Photography’s Photo for the Week: Insect.

But is it true?

Sign on a building in Russell, New Zealand.

Russell New Zealand was called the “hellhole of the Pacific” by local missionaries due to the wild behavior of the whalers on shore leave. Is this sign a witty response to all of the “first recorded cricket game happened here” signs (yes, I really saw that one, but I didn’t photograph it), an indication that nothing happening is worthy of note…or a claim of virtue that may or may not be correct?

For Kammie’s Oddball Challenge

Still havin’ fun

Like many I am the one usually taking the photos. But there are a few with me in them:

One of the joys we can bring with photography is the memory of the good and happy. There is plenty of the other things to go around. I made a point of having a few taken with me and Grandma:

In a previous post I talked about how my Grandmother was one to see the sunshine, For All the Saints. For our family the struggle with joy has been poignant: my mother has some type of emotional or mental illness that is progressive ( and my youngest sister seems to be following a similar path). It creates a weird situation where we forget that there was good, fun, and joy because of what came after, or even in parallel. But we do a disservice to both ourselves and the person who was, at one point, a different person if we let that joy go. Photos can be a powerful tool in reclaiming the joy that is as much a part of our heritage as the weirdness and sorrow. For this reason Cee’s On the Hunt for Joy: Say Cheese resonates with me.

I’ve resolved to try and have more photos with me in them. But I also have an avatar. During my husbands first trip to China one of my son’s co-workers gave us a safe travel deer. We named her Amie Lu. Amie is French for friend, and the woman who gave us the deer was named Amy. Lu is Chinese for deer. We’ve been bringing Amie-Lu along on our travels ever since, and while I don’t take selfies, I do take Amie-Lu-ies.