Monday, June 27, 2011

Light Painting

I like to try new techniques with my photography.  For a long time I had been wanting to try light painting and star trails.   Last night, the moonrise was going to be in the early morning hours, the stars were out, so we drove over to Lake Granger. I was hoping to find an interesting tree with a clear area around so I could get star trails.  

I found my tree and set up my camera.  As I started "painting" the tree with my flashlight, I noted the windy conditions and how the branches with leaves were moving too and fro.  I figured that was probably a sign that this was not going to work well, but since I was experimenting anyway I kept going.  Since I was using long exposures, I didn't take that many shots.  I was using an older, much used Canon 5D and the noise level and "hot" pixels were excessive in my longest exposures.  I went ahead and bumped the ISO to 1600.  With some noise removal, this was the best of the lot.  

While this is not the image I had visualized, I find that I like it.  The wind action through the leaves creates almost a watercolor look.  

Perhaps I'll go back again soon and try again.

Friday, June 10, 2011


My back surgery occurred on April 20, 2011.  I went in to it with an optimistic attitude.  I was blessed that I had a number of friends who had been successful with back surgery to encourage me.  While I knew that things don't always go to plan, I believed that this was something I need to do for my quality of life. If it needed to be done, then God would be with me, guiding the surgeon's hand and strengthening me during recovery.  I was mentally at peace about doing this procedure and was disappointed when I had to wait until April 20th - almost three weeks or so at the time.

Awakening from surgery in the recovery room, there was the immediate initial pain from surgery which was quickly dealt with by the medical staff. Pain medication is a GOOD thing. I was pleasantly surprised that yes, indeed, I would be able to lie on my back even with the incision there.  They kept me two nights in the hospital, but I started walking the hallway the first day after surgery. Getting out of bed the first morning had a different pain than before, but it was EASIER!

I went home on Friday.  My first walk at home was up to my mailbox - about one tenth of a mile.  I regularly extended my walking paths until I had made a mile by my two week visit.  My six week visit was this week and I have walked 1 3/4 mile as my greatest distance so far.  Granted I'm not walking that far without my "pauses" or enjoying park benches along the way.  But I am gradually increasing my stamina and aerobic capacity.

I had some momentary discouragements as I felt like that my stamina was so slow to return.  Back pain and knee issues weren't slowing me down, but I was getting winded (still am). But this past week, I've noticed a positive change.  When I walk somewhere I haven't walked in the last week or so, I'm walking it BETTER!  I walked at the Georgetown Rec Center on Tuesday. I hadn't walked there since before my surgery - what a difference!  Before the surgery (but during physical therapy) I had to pause on the first lap and then pause more frequently as I tried to continue with more laps.  On Tuesday, I made three laps before the pause and two more laps.  I had limited walking time because my daughter and I wanted to swim as well.  But I walked almost half a mile and then swam laps.

When I went in to the doctor for the 6 week checkup, I left euphoric.  Music to my ears: "You are ahead of the curve!"  Since I had already been to physical therapy, he told me to get started back on the exercises I had been given without overdoing at first.  And . . . he sent me to a knee doctor so I can get off naproxen!  I've had my first knee injection and will get the gel injections in about three weeks.

I visited a friend in the hospital yesterday. She was in the far building and I made the entire long walk to and from her room at a brisk pace and no pain!  And then, yesterday, for the first time I walked all the way around Hutto Lake Park. I had been having Henry drop me off at the dam and doing a partial walk. While I still had to pause and catch my breath, and yes cool off as well - I walked earlier in the evening when it was hotter,  each time I walk a longer stretch in an area is a victory!

Getting back my stamina to do the bird walks and photography hikes will still require a lot of endurance training and consistent exercise, but now many things seem SO possible that were not before!

God is good . . . all the time!