These Are Not Clouds

Yesterday when I took my dog for a walk, I decided not to bring my camera. I figured I’ve been taking enough pictures lately and I should just focus on the walk. It never fails though. Whenever I don’t bring my camera, I end up wishing I did. Within five minutes I saw something I wanted to photograph, so I ran back to my house to grab my camera.

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2 planes

A whole bunch of planes were high up in the sky filling the blue expanse with whatever that is . . . they resemble clouds, but they’re definitely NOT clouds. After the wind moves these “clouds” all around, they sometimes create interesting formations.

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When I looked up to take the picture I noticed a rainbow. I thought it looked pretty cool with the sun shining behind the tree so I went picture crazy.

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Just two more . . .

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I love the simplicity of this last picture. I finally quit shooting the “clouds” and focused on the walk like I had originally planned. Sunny, my dog, was probably thinking FINALLY!

ce ne sont pas des nuages

After I named this blog post, I was reminded of the surrealist painter Rene Magritte, who painted, “The Treachery of Images.” It’s not a pipe but it’s actually a painting of a pipe. He was going for a play on words and images.

My pictures are not of clouds, but of some weird substance masquerading as clouds. How do you say, “These are not clouds,” in French?:

ce ne sont pas des nuages

rm this is not a pipe



Early Spring Flowers in East Texas

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The weather in Nacogdoches is a comfortable 70 degrees, and the early Spring flowers are starting to bloom. My area is well known for the Azaleas, but we have so much more than that.

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I’m not 100% sure on what each flower is, but I think the pictures above are a pear type of flower.


As I was walking my dog through my neighborhood, my eyes were drawn to a bright yellow burst of color from a distance. As I got closer the sweet aroma just pulled me over. I think this is a Forsythia bush. The pics I found online weren’t exactly like mine, but pretty close.

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Whatever they are, they are so pretty and smell soooo good.

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I feel pretty confident that this one is a Texas Redbud. They show up early and the purple pops beautifully against all the deep greens.


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Flowers can be hard to photograph, but it’s a challenge that’s always a lot of fun to tackle. I love to watch them change throughout the season and enjoy their pleasing aroma.

I don’t know if I can choose a favorite because I love them all, but roses and tulips are high up on the list. What are your favorite flowers?

National Kolache Day

“Kolaches have always been the underdog in the pastry world, and National Kolache Day will pave the way for this overlooked pastry to gain its much-deserved recognition.” – Vatsana Souvannavog, the owner of Koala Kolache.

The Houston Mayor declares March 1 National Kolache Day because the owner of Koala Kolache wanted the pastry and the Czech people in Texas to be recognized.

Voyage to Texas in 1852

Texas has a large Czech population. I know this because my dad’s side of my family immigrated from there to the United States and settled in Texas. My granny was a first generation Czech-American.


My Granny near San Antonio, Tx 1947

She lived on the coast for a while, where a lot of Czech families lived. All of her brothers joined the military and were very proud to serve their country. Then she became a farmer’s wife and moved to East Texas to pursue a career in cosmetology and to raise her son, who also joined the military.

cow pics run in fam

I guess I’m not the only person in my family who photographs Cows

My Czech Heritage

Being half Czech is pretty cool. I remember going to South Texas and visiting my granny on holidays. The sounds of a thick language I didn’t understand echoing from the kitchen, where there was around the clock cooking. And you never saw the woman sweat! . . . seriously. Her clothes were always perfect, and her hair was always in place. Thanks to Aqua Net.

1949 granny

I really like this picture. Granny 1949 East Texas

Czech Food

The smell of food was always wafting through the house. I was accustomed to a variety of foreign food because I grew up on a military base and met and ate with people from all over the world. And I wasn’t afraid to try stuff.

But the one thing I wasn’t crazy about was sauerkraut. Always cooked in brown sugar and beef drippings. They put that nasty stuff on their Thanksgiving stuffing, and it’s served with so many meals all year.

I love it now, and crave it. Just last night I had a roast beef sandwich on rye bread with mustard, pickles, and sauerkraut.

The Mouth-Watering Czech Kolache

I was already craving my granny’s food but now . . . thanks to Houston declaring March 1 National Kolache Day, I NEED the original Czech Kolache. The East Texan “pig in a blanket” version just won’t do.


My Granny with her sis, sis-in-law, bro, and nephew- the guy in black was the Kolache Baker, 2002

I remember walking into the kitchen when the uncle who made delicious kolaches showed up, his arms loaded with peach filled, raspberry filled, fruits I couldn’t identify filled. It was heaven.

1968 holiday meal kolache on plate

1968 A plate of Kolaches are on the middle of the table to the right of the candle. Looks like peach flavored. My dad is the kid looking at the camera with the ketchup bottle in front of him. 

I don’t know about you, but my heritage is so important to me. I love knowing where I come from and embracing and learning about it. And I was really happy to hear that the delicious Czech pastry get’s it’s own day.

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The last two Kolache pastries on the plate, to the right of the candle. 

Proud to be an American

So if you haven’t tried them yet, go enjoy a Kolache and help celebrate the true spirit of America. A nation made up of immigrants who all love this country and add to it’s diverse culture.

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My Great Grandparents – My Granny’s Mom, brother, and Dad

The Olympus Trip 35

So I took a little trip into my attic for something and like most people I’ve got a lot of stuff. My peripheral vision took over, and I got completely distracted by an old forgotten box.

In college, I was blessed with a bunch of film cameras and darkroom equipment that I got from the father of a family friend. I used a couple of the cameras at the time, but I haven’t looked at the stuff since then.

A Cult Classic 1967-1984

Immediately, I grabbed the sturdy looking metal one. I did a google search on the Olympus Trip and found a ba-jillion hits. So, you know what to do if you wanna learn more in – depth info about this wildly popular vintage point and shoot.

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Posed with Vintage Samsonite Luggage

It’s British, and it’s an easy vacation camera, originally made for people to take with them on their holiday trips. The camera grew in popularity in the 1970’s after the popular British photographer, David Bailey, starred in an advertisement.

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Elevated with a quality Zuiko Lens, and equipped with automatic and dependable controls, this compact camera is “so simple anyone can use it.” That’s good cuz I’ve been stuck in the digital world and haven’t shot film in about 7 years.

Locked and Loaded

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I hit up my local super center for film. From their very limited selection I bought the 4 pack of 35mm Fuji Film. I guess I’m not the only person stuck in digital. Who still shoots on film anyway, right?? (Lot’s of people!) I love digital, but film has a unique and rich quality that should never be forgotten.

The camera seems to be in good condition, except for a bit of grime that might’ve had some foam or something, which could possibly cause a light leak. All of the mechanical parts run smoothly and the film was very easy to load. Now all that’s left to do is start shooting. I’ll just shoot one roll for now and get it developed and we’ll see what this baby can do.

If Cameras Could Talk

You might want to search through your attic, or the attics of some old people. (Well, make sure you know these old people first, don’t just scope ‘em out and wait for them to head to senior night at the Bingo Hall.) Check out garage sales, and vintage stores on the Internet.

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Old cameras often come with an interesting history and can open up creativity. You never know what cool cameras are waiting to be found and what strange Trip they’re waiting to take you on.

And don’t forget to let me know about it . . .

Red Morning Pictures

I was headed to the kitchen this morning when I saw a red glow shining through the windows. I grabbed my point and shoot camera and headed outside hoping I was quick enough to capture the red hue before it went away.

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Light changes quickly so I only managed to get one decent picture. It was a tad bit redder when I first saw it, but that’s still pretty red. I wonder what kind of particles were in the atmosphere to cause that color.

Lo-Fi Time

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For this picture I activated my “toy camera” setting and it gave me the option of choosing a warm, neutral, or cool tint . . . I went with warm. The warm glow in the sky was pretty much gone by this point, but maybe that filter helped some. I positioned my camera at my hip and snapped the picture.

I like how it turned out. I like all the vertical lines created by the trees in the background, and the variety of diagonal lines created by the yucca plants and that stick in the foreground.

LOMO Rules Followed

So, is it LOMO? I followed rules 1-3 that are specific to all photography, and I wont list them. Rules 8-10 also didn’t really apply cuz I didn’t worry about what I shot which means I obeyed them. I am focusing on the Golden Rules though, so I guess I broke Rule 10 a bit. Aside from them, I’ll focus on the following Golden Rules of Lomography:

4. Yes, I tried the shot from the hip. The composition turned out pretty interesting.

5. Approach the subject as close as possible. The sharp pointy ends of the yucca got me so I definitely obeyed this rule.

6. Don’t think. Done.

7. Be fast. And done.

Pics Before Coffee

My coffee was ready for me when I was done shooting. I love the feeling of productivity and creativity before I even get coffee into my system. Makes the coffee that much more enjoyable.


Finding Inspiration in Portrait Painter Kehinde Wiley

Until recently, I never really noticed the official portraits of the president’s of the United States of America before. Did you know that former President Richard Nixon’s portrait was painted by Norman Rockwell? That’s actually pretty comical. You might recognize the name of painter, Chuck Close, who did the scary pixelated portrait of former President Bill Clinton.


Douglas Chandor, Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1945). Courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery.

And my favorite is the portrait of FDR, painted by Douglas Chandor. I like all the hands, the pencil drawing in the corner, the simple background, the rich depth of color, and how the suit was painted.

Portrait Painter Kehinde Wiley

The most recent presidential portrait of former President Barack Obama was painted by the talented Kehinde Wiley. I read an article on that said the background is made of foliage representing his Chicagoan, Hawaiian, and Kenyan roots. This colorful 7′ tall portrait made me curious about the artist.


Kehinde Wiley, Barack Obama (2018). Courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery.

A Combo of High Renaissance, late French Rococo, and the 19th century

I looked him up and discovered some really impressive artwork. His skill shows that he has a lot of training. He often recreates artwork from historical master painters, and updates them according to the statements he wants to make. I like his version of Jacques-Louis David’s painting, Napoleon Crossing the Alps

acques_Louis_David nap on alps

Jacques-Louis David’s version

He used the same composition as the original but with a few changes. In a detail, you can see his humor represented through little sperm swimming around in the background. I love the clothes his random and anonymous subject is wearing. And the gold frame is so impressive. I would hang that in my house. 

While his statements are interesting, thought provoking, powerful, and contribute to the final look of his art; I’m really attracted to the visual part of his paintings. Just stare at the two paintings and study them for a while. 

framed wiley painting

Kehinde Wiley, Napoleon Leading the Army over the Alps, 2005, oil paint on canvas, 274.3 x 274.3 cm (108 x 108 in) (Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York) © Kehinde Wiley

His work is intricate, bold, strikingly colorful, powerful, and beautiful. He’s definitely a contemporary artist worth studying. He shows you how to be inspired by other artists and also how to make it your own. He started making strong statements through his artwork while studying at Yale. And he gets to go down in history as a portrait painter for an American President. Check out his confident self portrait of him in his studio at his website.


As always in art and anything really, controversy follows Wiley’s portrait of the former President. I think that’s what makes art great though; it stirs up conversation and ideas.

What do you think about Kehinde Wiley’s portrait of Mr. Obama? The former President seemed to like it, and was his usual joking self poking fun at his ears and gray hair, while complimenting the integrity of the painter. 

How about that? Pretty sharp. – President Obama, upon viewing his portrait

My LOMO – Inspired Digital Photography Manifesto

I knew a photographer who loved shooting on her Holga toy camera. At the time, I wasn’t crazy about the idea of a toy camera, but her pictures always turned out really cool. A few years ago I purchased an Action Sampler.

action sampler

Action Sampler, photo from

It takes four pictures per exposure. I carried it around for a while and shot pictures obeying The Ten Golden Rules, and the promises that are specific to the Action Sampler. I still need to finish my rolls of film and get them developed. Until that happens I have a burning desire to take the kind of low fidelity pictures you get with toy cameras.

Can LOMO be Digital?

A lot of my digital photos remind me of the pictures that you get from toy cameras. So, I’d like to work on an on – going series of pictures inspired by the LOMO – style. Both in camera and in post processing. With my DSLR and with my point and shoot. Any way that I can achieve the style is acceptable, with the goal of staying as close to true Lomography as possible. So, Let’s take a look at the 10 Golden rules.

The 10 Golden Rules of Lomography

1. Take your camera everywhere you go.

  • Not a problem. All photographers should make this a rule. The moment I leave home without it, I’ve missed picture opportunities.

2. Use it anytime, Day and Night.

  • Another easy one. Both day and night offer all kinds of different lighting and subject opportunities.

3. Lomography is not an interference in your life, but a part of your life.

  • Done. Photography is a part of my life.

4. Try to shoot from the hip.

  • A lot of toy cameras don’t have a viewfinder. So, it became popular to shoot from the hip. I do it sometimes. I also try to shoot from above, from the side, and upside down. Being open to any vantage point can produce interesting possibilities. But for Lomographic purposes, it’s gotta be from the hip.

5. Approach the objects of your Lomographic desire as closely as possible.

  • I often try to get close to my subjects. I might be able to get closer though.

6. Don’t think. (William Firebrace)

  • This one is hard. I can’t help but think. I’ve got a brain and I try to use it. But, this is a great rule to attempt to follow. If you don’t think, you just shoot, you’ll end up getting some cool surprise pictures that you wouldn’t get if you sat there thinking. Sometimes, you can think too much.

7. Be Fast.

  • Sometimes you gotta shoot fast or you’ll miss it. This world speeds by and everyone tends to rush through it. There’s a time and place for waiting for the decisive moment. Just like there’s a time and place for those quick pics.

8. You don’t have to know beforehand what you’ve captured on film.

  • This is inherent in film. You just don’t know what you’ve got until you’ve developed your film and spent time in the darkroom making test prints. You can also do this with digital. That little screen isn’t giving you an accurate view of your image anyway. Ignore the screen and the histogram and just shoot. The surprise is really fun when you’re checking out your shots later.

9.  And you don’t necessarily have to know afterwards either.

  • This is something inherent to Lomography. Often times, you’ll produce images that are abstract, blurry, out of focus, strange colors, etc. You might never know what that photo is of and that’s part of the beauty that attracts me to this type of photography.

10. Don’t worry about any rules.

  • Being a practiced photographer, some rules just get obeyed naturally. But I love the idea of letting go and just shooting. Forget rules. This ain’t Group F. 64.

Rules are Meant to be Broken

Since rule 10 says not to worry about rules, then I have the right and the responsibility to break the rules. Which means that shooting an analogue style of photography with a digital camera is a big rule breaker. I think that as long as I try to stick with the original idea of Lomography, which is basically experimental and creative, then I’ll be ok.

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Before – Through the Windshield

This picture reminds me of Lomography. I took it through the windshield of a car and I didn’t do anything to it. It’s straight from the camera. In the photo below, I adjusted the exposure and color temperature in Lightroom using the “auto” feature.

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After – Through the Windshield

I like them both and I think they qualify as LOMO – inspired Digital photos.

Have you ever shot on a toy camera, or have you ever made your own pinhole camera? Do you think that an inherently analogue style of photography can be created digitally and be taken seriously? I guess we will soon find out . . .