Rough Days Don’t Always End That Way

•July 11, 2018 • Leave a Comment

I’ve been scrambling my poor brain over the last couple of weeks.  I’ve had my domain for a good 10 years or so.  I built a website and had used it mainly to showcase my photos.  It was an easy way to share my photos of Alaska with friends and family (and whoever else) all at once.

As my photographic skills improved, I finally decided I’d try starting a small business.  I began to check into ways to use my website for this and found that it could be a bit pricey to set it all up.  I would lose a lot of free time (read: photo excursions) trying to take orders, get prints, prep for shipping and then running everything down to the post office, Fed Ex, UPS, or whatever shipping company I decided to use.  Since I work during the day, I wouldn’t be able to stay home and wait for orders to be picked up by the shipping company.

I opted to post my photos to a 3rd party website so I can do what I do-take pictures, and they can do what they do-print, ship, collect payment, refund if necessary, replace if something goes wrong with the order, etc.  The first one I found seemed to be a good start.  Until, that is, I discovered an issue with shipping.  The shipping prices were insane, making a mere 8 x 10 photograph rather expensive.  There wasn’t much of a profit margin if I wanted to keep prices affordable.

I did some more research of several other sites and finally found one that worked quite well.  Shipping was much lower, making it possible to actually have a profit margin.  This also meant that I had to re-prep my photos for this new site.  It seems each site has their own requirements regarding image file sizes.  Where I was limited to a fairly small file size with the first site, I’m not limited with my new site.  In layman’s terms, that means I can upload a higher quality photo which will produce a better print for my clients.

My very first order came through shortly after I set up my site.  I was pretty excited and couldn’t wait for my client to receive the order.  I asked for feedback as soon as the order was received.  I heard from my client the day the order was received.  Feedback for my photos themselves was great; however, UPS totally damaged the box during shipping and one of the prints was destroyed.  I asked my client to send me photos of the damage.  I was very disappointed to see the damage and told my client that I would make this right.  I also noticed the photo had been incorrectly printed:  instead of a portrait orientation, it was a landscape orientation which caused the bottom portion of the photo to get cut off.

After contacting customer service at my new site, they told me the print was covered by their 100% guarantee.  This meant they would correct the orientation, replace the damaged print, and reship it at no cost to my client or me.  I am pretty happy about that.

I want to run my business in such a way that my clients are happy with their purchases.  If something is wrong, I want to make sure it’s corrected.  Fortunately, I have partnered with two businesses (for printing) who operate in the same manner.  My reputation as a photographer and businesswoman rely on those two businesses.  Fortunately, they recognize that their business reputation relies on me and my clients.  They want my clients to be as happy as I am.  We aren’t just a cash cow for them and I love that.

It started out being a bit of a rough day; but fortunately, it all worked out for the best in the end.  There are always little bugs to work out in the beginning.  I’d say we got the best of this bug!

 

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A Little Taste of Summer

•June 10, 2018 • Leave a Comment

I think summer finally made it to Alaska.  Last weekend was so sunny and warm.  My friend and I had a yard sale.  I managed to get a decent sunburn-turned-tan out of it.  This weekend was sunny and warm so I decided to get out and go play.

I had traded in my truck last weekend to get something more Rosco-friendly.  It was getting difficult to get him in and out of the truck; and, even with the back-seat down, he just didn’t have much room to maneuver or lie down.  I found a vehicle that fit that bill perfectly.  The more I drive it, the more happy I am with my decision.  Rosco loves it too.  He can lie down or he can sit up and stick his head out the window and be a dog.  The truck only had the pop-open windows so he couldn’t stick his head out and smell all those wonderful smells.

This weekend, we put the new-to-me car to the test.  I loaded it up, got Rosco settled in, and off we went.  He loves to lie down and look out the window.  He couldn’t wait to get loaded up and on the road!  He doesn’t care where he’s going as long as he gets to go.  I decided we’d meet some friends and test out the new ride for car-camping.  It’s going to work perfectly for that as soon as I get a nice thick mat in there.  the view

Rosco had so much fun at the campground.  My friends found a nice camping area on a sandy beach area next to the river.  It was a beautiful area.  Once I got parked, I put Rosco in his wheelchair and he was off to go play with the other dogs.  His wheelchair tends to intimidate some dogs as they simply just don’t know what it is that’s attached to him.  Other dogs don’t seem to notice. getting ready to swim

The dogs decided to take a dip in the river.  Rosco doesn’t realize that he can’t dive right in any more.  I have to keep a close eye on him because he has always been a water dog and will dive right in.  We found a shallow pool to let him play in.  He enjoyed tromping through the cold water and getting all wet and sandy.  It was fun to see him enjoying it.

Later, I took him out of his wheelchair to lie next to the fire.  He took off running across the sand to play with one of the other dogs.  Rosco has always liked to play chase where he’s the one being chased.  He still does, and he can move pretty quickly on just two legs.  The sand was very fine and soft so I figured he’d be ok to play in it.

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It came time to settle in and go to sleep.  Rosco, being the bed hog that he is, left me very little room to sleep.  It was hard for me to get comfortable because my pallet of blankets wasn’t thick enough.  I felt like I was sleeping on a board (trying to sleep would be more accurate).  Rosco had his ortho bed so he was nice and comfy.  I’ll be better prepared for that next time.

We woke up the next morning at about 5:30 am.  I tended to Rosco’s morning routine and put him in his wheelchair.  He roamed around our camping area sniffing things and playing with the other dogs while I packed up our stuff.  My friends and I said our goodbyes and they headed home.  Rosco and I headed up north to Denali National Park.

When we reached Denali, it was pouring rain, very windy, and much cooler than where we had been a couple of hours before.  Rosco wasn’t too impressed when I had to roll the windows up.  I drove through the park, got a few photos but not nearly as much as I wanted.  The rain was too heavy to be out for very long with the camera.  On the way out, I saw a couple of young moose.  The rain didn’t seem to bother them at all.  I think all the other animals in the area were huddled down for the storm.

We drove home and the cloudy cool weather apparently followed us home.  I got everything unloaded from the car while Rosco ate a bowl of food and drank some water.  He made a beeline to his big bed and passed out cold.  I’d say that was proof he had a fun weekend!

Today Marks Two Years

•May 21, 2018 • Leave a Comment

This little guy right here is my best bud.  He came to me a little over 9 years ago and has been my shadow ever since.

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Two years ago, we had the worst day of our lives that landed Rosco in the emergency room.  One minute he was fine and, quite literally, he was paralyzed.  He was so scared and confused.  I’ll admit I had those same feelings.  Up until his diagnosis, I was terrified that I’d have to put him down.  It’s one thing when you know it’s coming and quite another when it’s unexpected.  I stayed with him in the hospital, sitting in the kennel with him on the concrete floor, and comforted him as best I could.

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13419012_493666570832740_6984558901600167456_nWhile it wasn’t comfortable for me, the only way my poor baby could sleep was with his head on my lap.  Whenever he was scared, he’d always come and sit beside me and put his head on me.  For some reason, my hand on his head has always given him comfort.

 

 

 

 

Two days later, we got to go home.  The diagnosis was paralysis, possibly FCE, and that he should recover from it soon.   That didn’t happen–it was permanent. 13346938_493666724166058_8834302765592748976_n

You can see in this photo that he had his smile and knew he was in his truck to go bye bye.  Rosco was so excited to get out of the hospital and be back home.

Rosco has come a long way since then.  He has a wheelchair and we go hiking or walking.  He loves to hit the trails whenever I go.  There are times where I can’t take him because the terrain is too rough and unaccommodating.  I always feel so guilty when I can’t bring him along.  He has always gone hiking and exploring with me.

 

Rosco always seems to have a smile no matter where we go.  He is truly an inspiration.  He has adapted and enjoys life now just as much as he did before.  He has moments where he isn’t so sure about something and he’ll stop dead in his tracks (usually bumpy terrain).  I reach down and touch his head or grab hold of his cart and tell him, “I got ya”, and he’s on his way again.

 

People always say he’s so lucky to have me for a mom but I actually consider myself to be the lucky one.

 

Surprised Myself!

•April 19, 2018 • Leave a Comment

As you all know, I’m very much into photography.  I’ve got my business page on Facebook  up and running as well as a Twitter Account.  I’m still trying to figure that one out.  I’ve never been into being on all the social media sites as I’m a fairly private person.  But, alas, privacy doesn’t get exposure when you’re trying to start a business.

Every now and then I’ll post photos in different groups on Facebook.  I mostly do it just to see what will happen:  will it catch anyone’s attention or not?  Typically, I end up with a few shares and a couple hundred likes.  Maybe it’ll bring a new visitor to my page or to my website, maybe it won’t.  One just never knows.

I went out last week in search of aurora even though I knew activity would be low.  Sometimes the aurora will surprise you and show up out of nowhere.  If not, it was still a gorgeous night with a star-filled sky.  If nothing else, I thought I’d play around with some star shots and just enjoy the time.

I had driven a few hours northeast of where I live.  I can’t tell you exactly where I pulled over to look at the stars and then began taking photos.  There was no signage telling me where I was.  It was so dark that once you turned off your vehicle’s headlights, you couldn’t see two feet in front of you.  The little flashlight on my IPhone seemed much brighter than usual.  It was so dark that you could see the headlights from an occasional car coming, but they were still a good distance away…….long enough that I had to wait a couple of minutes for them to reach me and then a couple more for them to disappear out of sight.

I set my camera up, tried to line up a shot in the darkness.  I could barely make out the mountains to my left.  In reality, the only reason I knew they were there (other than from knowing the area) was that the starry sky suddenly became black.  I began to take pictures and make adjustments from there.

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I ended up capturing this scene that night.  It turns out there actually was some slight auroral activity.  I just couldn’t see it with the naked eye.  It also turned out to be under the Milky Way.  I thought to myself, “Wow, that looks pretty cool.”

I posted this one in a group on Facebook and it took off.  Within 45 minutes, I had 200+ likes and a few shares.  People were leaving wonderful comments and it made me feel good to know that people liked it so well.  Two days later, it was at over 1500 likes and over 150 shares!  I was so surprised!  That really made me feel good!  I’m not one to brag and I’m very hard on myself when it comes to my work.  I almost didn’t post this one because I can spot my imperfections.  My goal is to go back out and do even better.  Yes, I get competitive with myself.

Anyway, I was just feeling pretty darn good about the popularity of this shot and thought I’d share that good feeling with you!  Hope you enjoy!

Exploring a Glacier

•April 9, 2018 • Leave a Comment

Last weekend, I hiked back to a glacier with a group of friends.  My intent was to get quite a few photos of the inside of the glacier; however, there were so many people there that day.  It was one of the first warm sunny days we’ve had.  I’m pretty sure half of Anchorage was there.  The parking lot was completely full so I had to find a spot much farther away than I would have liked.  I basically had to hike to get to the trailhead!  As we were hiking to the trailhead, I realized how driving that particular stretch seemed much longer when walking it.

The mountains were magnificent.  The snow had crusted from the heat of the sun so the mountains looked as though they were glazed with snow.  The trail was packed down enough that it made for easier hiking; but some spots would collapse with weight.  Those were the areas you had to watch out for so as not to twist a knee or ankle.

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Looking back to see where we had come from–the frozen lake toward the left is where we started.  At this point we were halfway there.

We walked down the path of the river that was frozen over.  That was the easiest part of the hike since it was nice and flat.  Since the ice was covered with snow, it wasn’t as slippery as one would think.  As we progressed, the terrain stayed fairly smooth while we gained elevation.  I remember looking ahead and thinking it doesn’t look very high.  Once there and looking back from whence we came, I realized we were much higher than I realized.  It was actually quite breathtaking.  You suddenly realize just how small you really are out there!  I tried to capture that feeling in the photo below.

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Looking ahead, a group of hikers is also making way to the glacier.  It’s a humbling experience to feel so minute.

Once inside the glacier, you could feel the difference in the air.  It was a bit cooler now.  The glacier ice was smooth as glass.  I was amazed at how it was dry, not wet as I had imagined.  The ice varied in colors from clear to white, from baby blue or turquoise, to a deep blue.  One would think the ice would feel too cold to touch for very long.  I had always imagined a glacier would feel super cold.  Instead, it felt not much colder than a a rock that had been sitting in the shade.

I found a tunnel that went under the glacier.  I wasn’t sure how far it would go since it was so dark inside.  I literally could only see about two or three feet in front of me and then it was pitch black.  The only light was what was cast in through the opening and it only reached a couple feet in front of me down on the ground.  I decided to set up my camera and see if I could get a picture of this spot.  I got a great shot.  Unfortunately, the tunnel narrowed down so small that I couldn’t have crawled through.  I decided to turn around and take a photo of the entrance of the tunnel I had just crawled into.  That made for a pretty good shot as well.

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Looking back toward the entrance of the tunnel I had climbed into.

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This is the view my camera revealed of the tunnel ahead of me.  Prior to taking the photo, all I could see were the rocks illuminated from the light of the entrance behind me.

There was another tunnel I wanted to explore; however, the group was ready to head back.  I’d have to save that for another day.  I’ll probably go back in another couple of weeks and try it again.  I think if I get there early enough in the day, I shouldn’t run into quite a crowd.  I thought about going back this weekend; however, the avalanche conditions are prime right now.  While nothing would happen with a large crowd, it would be my luck the one avalanche to happen would occur while I’m out there all by myself.  Seems to be how my luck runs half the time.

Even with the crowd, it was still an amazing experience–and one I plan to do again.  I love to explore and see everything I can see.  I’m looking forward to summer’s arrival.  I have a trip planned that should net quite a few wonderful shots!

 

Featured!

•March 25, 2018 • Leave a Comment

The last month has been a busy one for me.  I initially began working with a couple of different sites to sell my photography.  At the same time, I was working on updating and maintaining my personal website.  I found myself spending more time at my computer than I spent working on my photography.  Two of the three websites required so many different types of files and sizes that it was becoming difficult to keep track of what I had done.  On two of the sites, I had questions which I had submitted and never could get the answers I needed.  When one finally responded, it was a canned response that didn’t answer the question I asked.  I ended up dropping that site after a couple of emails that just flat didn’t get answered.  I decided if the customer service provided to me as an artist was that poor, I wasn’t going to subject potential customers to that.  I ended up dropping all but one of them.  I then found that I could point my personal website to the website I was still working with which has streamlined my processing and posting tremendously.  I am now able to start working on the next steps in my business plan.

My reason for writing today, though, isn’t about that.  I have some really good news to share.  I recently joined a new photography group.  After looking through the photos in the group’s featured images gallery, I thought I’d throw one out there and see what happens.  What could it hurt?  Either it’ll be good enough to land in that gallery or it won’t, right?

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Well, it got featured!  I’m excited about that because that will give me more exposure on the site where I sell my photography.  While it may not seem that big of a deal to some people, it is to me.  I used to be really bad about comparing my work to those of others and thinking mine wasn’t good enough.  I do very little to no editing in Photoshop and have had people tell me I should edit a lot more.  I want my image to portray what I actually saw–I don’t want to over-exaggerate the colors or edit it to the point that it no longer looks like photography.  That’s just not my style.  Getting that image featured reinforced my confidence in my style of photography and felt really good.

Now to get another feature!

 

South to Australia!

•February 4, 2018 • Leave a Comment

Australia has always been one of my bucket list destinations.  When I was a teenager, my friends and I would always look through bridal magazines and pretend to plan our wedding.  My honeymoon was going to be in Australia, or so I had planned.  When I was old enough to realize my dream wedding was never going to occur, I changed Australia from a honeymoon destination to a place which I’d merely dream of visiting.

Over the years, I’ve drooled over photos taken in Australia, thinking how wonderful it would be to go to such a beautiful place and how exciting it would be to capture the beauty through the eye of my camera.  The people, the food, the smells, the sights–how wonderful it would be to experience it all!

Barring no major catastrophes, I’ll be able to cross this off my bucket list this year.  I am so excited to go!  I’ve never been outside of the US, so that’s a little intimidating, but I felt that intimidation when I first left home to drive cross-country since I had never been out of state as an adult.  I quickly realized that feeling of intimidation was silly.  It does feel strange, though, to go to a new place where nothing is familiar.

I’m so excited about this trip.  I really can’t wait to go.  For me, this is a trip of a lifetime!