From a quaint little village of shops we walked through in Galtlinburg, Tennessee last month.

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On November 23, 2016, fire caught in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the United States, eventually spreading to over 17,000 acres and leading to the death of fourteen people.

Two teenage boys caught on video tossing matches and leaving a smoking brush were blamed for the start of the fire, but charges were dropped just two days ago, June 30, 2017 (source) for various reasons including because no direct link can be made between their actions and the wildfire; authorities let the fire burn rather than putting it out AND failed to notify residents and delayed evacuations; because no one could have predicted the hurricane like winds which spread the fire out of control days after it started, and because prosecutors have no jurisdiction to file charges for crimes allegedly committed in a federally owned National Park.

The fire spread to the nearby towns of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge where it burned more than 2400 buildings. During our vacation last month in that area we didn’t see but a few burned out buildings. In such a short period of time, the towns have done a miraculous job of rebuilding.

Some scenes were somber, however, such as this abandoned motel whose pool was dry and whose marquee sign read: “Pray for our town.”

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Other buildings were not even recognizable for what they once were.

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And up in the mountains more were left burned out and abandoned.

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A little over a month ago, I decided that Offshoots Photography should join the world of Instagram. I have a personal account already for friends and family pics, but I wanted a place to share portraits as I one day build up the business side of Offshoots.

In the meantime, I am using it to share creative works on the go and as a chance to use some of the awesome mobile photo-editing apps out there. Moreover, like WordPress, it is a great way to connect with other photographers and artists in order to learn from and enjoy their work, as well as to connect with potential clients in my area. I am also using it as a medium to share long forgotten images I may fine tune or completely revamp into photo art.

I am having a lot of fun with it because I can sit anywhere with my phone and create versus being tied to my laptop. Also, pulling up old images brings back lots of good memories.

Follow me on Instagram.

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Do you have an Instagram account for your creative photography? If so, feel free to leave your @accountname or link in the comments.

We stayed within walking distance of downtown Gatlinburg, Tennessee on our vacation last week where there were so many little shops and specialty stores; not so much of the typical touristy t-shirt places you’ll a lot of times see.

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One of my favorite places was this candy store.  All the yummy treats and brightly colored deliciousness made me feel like a kid in….well, a candy store, of course!

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We are in Gatlinburg, Tennessee right now on family vacation and believe it or not, while in America’s heartland, one of the first places we chose to eat dinner was a full-on Mexican cantina called, “No Way Jose.” Since I am prone to saying this phrase to my children a lot, I thought it was quite appropriate to include them in some of the photos. 😉

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The fam and I went to Costco last weekend. For those of you who don’t know what Costco is, it is a huge warehouse with lots of stuff, everything from electronics to clothing to groceries to you name it.

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Look at all those chickens!

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How it differs from your typical mega-super store is that you can get mass quantities for a greatly reduced price. Think toilet paper. 😀

We also got a fabulous deal on my new laptop last month. This week our purchase included a 100-count box of granola bars and a six-pack of deodorant.

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Daughter checking out the beauty products.

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We grabbed some lunch from the snack bar to keep up our energy for the long check out lines.

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I took all of these photos with my smart phone, which doesn’t have a great camera, but I am snap-happy, and also taking the advice of some fellow photographers, who told me recently to just “point and click.” 🙂

 

So, yeah, it’s been almost four months since I posted anything here, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been taking photos.  I’ve been shooting lots of photos.  Hundreds of photos!

Both of my daughters’ volleyball seasons started back in January and we have had tournaments every weekend since then except for one.  We absolutely love it!  Watching them play and cheering them on is always so exciting!

One of the tournaments was held at an old high school, and the lockers caught my eye.  I felt like I was back in the 1970’s or 80’s with the look and feel of the lockers and hallways of this school.

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An up-close look reveals how old the lockers really are, showing the rusted hinges, layers of paint, dents, and chips.

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We have one more month of tournaments left, so I am hoping to move onto other photographic subjects soon.  Until then…

April One Photo Focus

Stacy Fischer hosts One Photo Focus each month where a photographer provides a photo for us to edit as we wish. This month Cee Neuner provided the following photograph, and what follows that is my transformation of her original work.

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I thought Cee took a lovely photo of a beautiful old barn, however, I wanted to get rid of those distracting power lines, so I did! Then I thought the sky could use a little drama, so I used one of my own photos to bring some dark clouds in, making the scene ominous which is typical during Midwestern USA tornado season. Finally, I felt like the photo needed a breathing element to it, so I found and added a stock photo of a horse. He kind of seems to be looking at the barn like, “Hey, get me in there. A storm’s a brewin’!”

I hope you enjoyed this before and after photo transformation. Thanks to Stacy for hosting and to Cee for the use of her photo.

There are so many elements to this that I didn’t know what to title it. There’s the church steeple, the power lines, the lamp post…all perfect silhouettes backed by a beautiful sunset winter sky.

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Winter is so dreary here now. I came across a couple of photos left over from last fall. Missing the sunny days.

This is for Stacy’s One Photo Focus Challenge, where we are given a photo to edit however we want. When I saw the original photo of the older Victorian style home it reminded me of the 100 year-old homes in a small town where we used to live in Iowa in the U.S.  I knew right away I wanted to make the photo look like an aged photograph from like the 1920’s or 30’s that you might find in an old chest in your grandmother’s dusty attic.

Original photo (see below) by Stacy Fishcher
Original photo (see below left) by Stacy Fischer.  Edits by Sheila (that’s me!)

To do this, I made numerous edits in a mobile app called PicsArt. Then I transferred the photo over to my laptop and used GIMP to layer the photo with a “old paper” texture created by Shadowhouse Creations. I set the texture layer to Multiply, and made some minor adjustments until I was satisfied with the final product.  What do you think?

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Playing with HDR files and tone mapping. This image looks a tad better than yesterday’s. I have a lot yet to learn.

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