Pink overlooked

31 01 2009

I found five pink stragglers in my archives. No more pinks for awhile. I’ll move on to another color, another subject. Promise.

I’m now taking requests for a color for the next collage. Anyone? 

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.


This post is brought to you by the color pink.

31 01 2009

I apologize in advance if this ginormous collage crashes your system. I realize I got a little carried away with my collection. Pink just plum(b) took over.

(Oh, and do be patient while the collage loads. It might take a little longer than usual, but I promise it is worth the wait.)

If your system does lock up, you could also blame my blogger friends (and my Dad):

Jan at
Heather at
GG at
Dad at his eBay store here (which was apparently ransacked because there is nothing posted)

Their recent comments gave me the impetus to post the colossal collage below.

“oooooooooohhh What a show, Cindy! I literally said that all the way through. Ooooh. Gorgeous. We’ve had some sunshine on and off the past few days. I think you need to get out of your basement more. Only 49 days until spring!!” — Jan

“Oh, man! You’re always taking my breath away like that, jeez!” —Heather

“Absolutely GORGEOUS! Your photo of the back of the day lily is particularly interesting. Have a wonderful weekend.” — G G

“The begonia shot is: Beautiful! Astonishing! Unbelievable! Gorgeous! Breathtaking! Damn, that’s a purdy pitcher! Please put me on your e-mail announcement list for every workshop. I won’t be able to attend, but I’ll be there in spirit if I know when and where (I’ll need the schedules so I’ll know when and where to send my spirit).” — Dad

I replied to Heather that I would soon be posting a rather long “pink collage” that could potentially crash her system. She replied, “bring it on!” So that’s the skinny and here we are.

Okay, the color pink wins by a long shot (so far) in the number of times it shows up in my garden photo archives. I thought orange was prevalent, but I was so, so wrong. I can only imagine how many times purple will show up—I tend to gravitate toward that color in my garden, even though I wouldn’t dare actually wear that color. Actually wearing that color or any shade of burgundy makes my skin itch. But that’s a whole ‘nuther topic. We artists are very sensitive to color, you know.

Well…now that I have revealed this little-known (and useless) fact about me, I should also tell you that I will not drive a burgundy car—and my anxiety doubles if the interior is burgundy, too. I discovered this about myself about 20+ years ago. So just guess what color car I am inevitably assigned when I rent a car. Yep. Burgundy. Or red (which I don’t have as much an aversion to after driving a sporty little Jeep in California two years ago…red = acceptable…burgundy = don’t go there). It doesn’t matter if every car left on the lot is white. The rental agent will start walking, keys in hand, directly to the only burgundy car in the place. I kid you not. Ask my cousin Bill. (He recently confessed that he now asks for “anything but burgundy” and “no rental plates, please”—the second request came about after I read something about never-do-wells stealing from rental cars because they know they’re driven by tourists with some good loot in tow.) And if someone traveling with me is renting the car, they usually don’t care what color it is, but I always comment, “betcha it’s going to be burgundy, mark my words.” Then the rental agent will lead us to only burgundy car in a sea of other colors. I kid you not. I’m jinxed. So now when I rent a car, I request “anything but burgundy, please.” This request is met with raised eyebrows more often than not. And I feel compelled to explain, “I’m an artist. I’m sensitive. No burgundy, please.” On one trip to San Diego, Michael went to rent the car while my friend Norma and I waited in the parking lot. It was late in the day and we said if burgundy is the only one available, then we’ll take it (but we won’t be happy about it). I said, “I just know it’s going to be burgundy.” Michael got the keys and met us across the parking lot and was laughing uncontrollably. But wait! Under the vapor lights…it could be…it just might be brown…yeah, it’s brown. We got out of the parking lot and saw the real color…yep, you guessed it. It was burgundy. Once again.

Now I must admit I don’t mind using it in my graphic design pieces. Burgundy has always been a nice corporate-y business color. And I don’t mind if other people wish to wear burgundy or drive a burgundy car. Just don’t ask me to ride with you. Especially if you’re wearing burgundy in your burgundy car with your burgundy seats. I will then offer to pick you up in my passive silver car with its quiet, unassaultive gray interior. I will not apologize for this particular peeve of mine. It is what it is.

Now back to pink. There is an off chance that I actually have something pink in my closet to wear. If not, I should. I do believe all women look good in pink (in particular shades depending on their skin tone and hair color), even if they don’t think so. I speak from experience as a portrait photographer. It’s a very flattering shade on women. And sometimes on men, too. There’s something youthful and joyful about the color pink, especially in the garden. And I love all the pinks in my garden—from pastel pink to just-look-at-me! magenta.

Ever wonder where the preference of “pink for girls” and “blue for boys” came from? I found this on

“In Western culture, the practice of assigning pink to an individual gender began in the 1920s. From then until the 1940s, pink was considered appropriate for boys because being related to red it was the more masculine and decided color, while blue was considered appropriate for girls because it was the more delicate and dainty color, or related to the Virgin Mary. Since the 1940s, the societal norm apparently inverted so that pink became appropriate for girls and blue appropriate for boys, a practice that has continued in the 21st century.”

The use of the word for the color pink was first recorded in the late 17th century, describing the flowers of pinks—flowering plants in the genus Dianthus.

Just 49 more days until spring, huh? Can it be? Oooh…now it’s just 48!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.


Rhymes with orange

30 01 2009

For several months now I’ve been trying to catalog my images better, bit by bit (there are thousands and thousands of photos). While organizing my garden photos folder I noticed that I have a plethora of orange-hued flowers so I put together this collage of all things orange-ish to brighten your winter day.

Tangerine. Coral. Day-glow orange. Push-up popsicle orange. Sunset. Pumpkin. 70s shag carpet orange (I did window display at a department store while in college and there was multi-shaded orange shag carpet in each window. Do you know how hard it is to design around that color scheme? I covered it up every chance I got—with a decorating budget of zilch, unfortunately. I asked for $5 once for a huge set of markers and my boss freaked out).

Orange peel. Safety orange. Salmon (did you know that the “l” in salmon is silent? The correct pronunciation is “sam-uhn.” Don’t believe me? Click here).

Frou-frou-big-bowed-bridesmaid-dress-apricot (yes, I had to wear one once upon a time). Carrot. Persimmon. Vermillion. Orange-red. Rusty can orange. Burnt orange. Tomato. Panama Brown orange (the color Dad insists his old diesel VW Rabbit was—sorry, Dad, it was ORANGE)

After a week of designing at the computer in a cold basement, pausing only to look out at winter gray skies (save for that remarkable sunset on Wednesday), I needed a jolt of color to inspire me. What better color than orange?

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.


Wednesday sky

28 01 2009

The sunset tonight was stunning and I have the pics to prove it! The view out the front door and down our street was of the flaming yellow band with stormy winter clouds overhead. The view from the side yard was the sky awash with push-up popsicle orangey-pink and blue. It was all a crazy jumble of pink, gold, heathered blue, dark gray, purple and white with a variety of cloud formations, too.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.


Kilroy was here.

28 01 2009

Wednesday, Jan. 28, 5:07 p.m.—ZenaB peeps through the banister

Ever wonder where the phrase “Kilroy was here” came from?

Wonder no more:

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.



27 01 2009

Gotta love the name of the American Begonia Society’s upcoming annual conference—Bewitched, Bothered, and Begonia’d.

This is one of the few photographs I shot at the United States Botanic Garden (USBG) this past weekend. There wasn’t a whole lot in bloom (or much that was well lighted and within easy reach around the tourists!), but I did get this nice graphic shot of a thick-stemmed Begonia in bloom.

There are over 1,500 named species (so far) of Begonias. Their horticultural classifications include Cane-like (very popular; also called “Angel Wing” Begonas), Shrub, Rhizomatous, Semperforens, Tuberous, Rex, Trailing-Scandent and Thick-Stemmed, according to the American Begonia Society website.

The USBG has a 4-session Creative Flower Photography workshop starting in early February. Read more about it here.

FYI: I’m toying with the idea of putting together my own half-day and full-day garden photography workshops this summer. I promise my fees will be reasonable. Anyone interested? If so, e-mail me at and I’ll put you on the e-mail announcement list.

(My fantasy is that this would take off and I would be jet-setting around the country to teach workshops at the invitation of garden clubs, camera clubs and botanical gardens! One can dream…)

I’m signing up for the once-a-year-only USBG Production Facility Open House on March 7. Read more about that event here. USBG Friends get in free; non-members pay just $5—pre-registration is required. It’s the largest greenhouse complex supporting a public garden in the U.S., and with 85,000 square feet, I’m sure I’ll find something to photograph!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.


Black and white and red all over

27 01 2009

ZenaB takes five, 11:23 p.m. tonight. Learn how she got her name here.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.


Bees, revisited

27 01 2009

Back in May 2007 I posted a photo collage of bees and wasps I have photographed in my garden as well as in public gardens in the U.S. and Canada. You can revisit that post here.

Below is one of my favorite bee photographs taken at Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island, just north of Victoria. If you’re a garden lover, put Butchart Gardens on your must-see list. It’s spectacular! And if you love photographing gardens, flowers and insects, you’ll run out of time before you run out of subjects. I spent more than an hour just photographing the Dahlia Border garden in September! This was our second time at Butchart Gardens.

See more flowers from our visit to the gardens this past September in the links below:

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.


A squirrel grows in Brooklyn

26 01 2009

I photographed this squirrel at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden a couple of years ago when my friends Regina and Jeff and I spent a wonderful weekend with Regina’s family. We also went to see the most excellent Lizards & Snakes Alive! exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History. It was late summer, to the best of my recollection.

Ah, summer. Gimme, gimme some summer right about now!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.


Yearning for blooms

26 01 2009

Sigh. How much winter is left?

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.


Sunday sky

25 01 2009

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.


I got nuthin’

23 01 2009

Yesterday afternoon I decided I needed more Vitamin D after weeks of working in my dungeon-studio and had grand plans to drive into D.C. to do some quick photos at the U.S. Botanic Garden. I got within eyesight of the Capitol building and was redirected by a traffic cop from whence I came. The streets were awash with “March for Life” participants and there were police cars everywhere (I should have done my research beforehand). I couldn’t get back to the Capitol easily so I gave up and headed home. Given the number of marchers, it was evident that I wouldn’t find a parking place within a mile of my destination anyway. I had every intention of photographing something flowery and posting it upon my return, but the best laid plans…

So, I hunted through my photo archives and found a photo that always makes me smile—Lemur-eyed ZenaB in the box and contemplative Jasper in the bowl.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.


Thrift store couture

20 01 2009

As I mentioned in an earlier posting, I just recently stumbled into the wonderful world of (designer brand) thrift store fashions! Yes, I knew they sold clothes at Goodwill and Salvation Army. I just didn’t think there would be such good pickins’! I found Mom her very first Ann Taylor garment and the Tommy Hilfiger shirt at a Salvation Army in San Antonio in December. Dad and I went in to look around and I decided to check out the clothing. Mom stayed in the car since she’s more a Chico’s/Coldwater Creek/Talbot’s clothes-that-have-never-been-worn kind of gal. Thrift stores don’t usually appeal to her. She would soon be changing her tune when we got back to the car.

This thrift store is in a nice neighborhood, so the donations were a little more upscale overall. When I got back to the car, I tossed the two blouses over to Mom and she was really surprised at the name labels and the condition the clothes were in. And on Wednesdays at that store, all clothes are 50% off the regular price! We went to lunch and then skedaddled back to the store so she could check it out. I asked her if she wanted a cart and she said, “No, I’m just looking.” A few minutes later, my arms draped with all her finds, I scored an empty cart and we filled it up.

Of course I bought my fair share of stuff—my major coup was finding linen shirts (for me) from Chicos, one of my favorite stores. And I bought several of the shirts that you see in the glamour shots I posted here. I bought the black Indecent Proposal-like dress for just $4 (5th row down); the stretchy lace tops (6th row, right and 7th row, left) were just $1 each; the deep blue satin blouse (9th row, left) was $1.50; and the best bargain was the beige satin blouse at the bottom of the collage. It was just 25 cents!

A few days later we were near Randolph Air Force Base and Dad took us through a “questionable” neighborhood to a thrift store he frequents. Mom stayed in the car and I ran out and held up stuff for her to approve. I bought her the form-fitting black knit Adrienne Vittadini jacket (modeled below) and a short embossed suede jacket, both for half price—$2.00 each! I also found a microfiber dress and jacket for her sister Evelyn—just $4 for that fashionable frock. And the best part—all proceeds from that store go to help animals at the local shelter!

From that point on, any time my dad announced he was going to a thrift store, I was right by his side. I had way too much fun in December!

And Mom—thanks for humoring me and modeling for these shots. You’re such a good egg.

AND NOW FOR SOME LATE-BREAKING NEWS….my mom called me this afternoon to report that she and my dad went to the Salvation Army and Goodwill after lunch. She found a beige silk Ann Taylor blouse (tags still on it—$78 retail) for $2 and a pair of Talbot’s white capri pants for $2 at the Salvation Army. At Goodwill she found a pair of dressy black Ann Taylor pants for just $3. Hmmm…I do believe we have a thrift store convert!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.


Digital Polaroid transfers, continued

19 01 2009

Here’s my second attempt at a Polaroid transfer created digitally. After reading Scott’s comment, I agree that the instructions to use a watercolor paper texture (from a digital photo of the paper) added a bit too much texture, so I used Photoshop to achieve a more linen-like texture. And Scott’s right about the fading, but initially I was always able to get pretty intense colors in my transfers. They do fade, so if you intend to give the images away or sell them, I advise creating high resolution scans on your flatbed scanner (at original size, RGB, 300 dpi), then printing on archival matte paper (or even watercolor-textured archival inkjet paper) to duplicate the texture of the original transfer. This will ensure that they won’t fade. I find that when the original do fade, they tend to go to a bit more blue cast. I think one of the things that is off with the transfer below is that there isn’t enough blue in the “residue” around the image. I did look at some of my originals and not all of them have that tell-tale inky blue cast in the residue, though. And the other thing missing are flawed areas (when the print doesn’t lift well in some areas, it tears away the emulsion and you’ll get “hot spots” in the print. That doesn’t always happen, but it’s pretty common. I like mine with as few hot spots as possible, hence why I went through so much Polaroid film in creating those images in the last post!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.


Testing 1-2-3

19 01 2009

Here’s my first attempt at a Polaroid transfer created digitally. While I don’t think it’s a bad result, it’s a bit off from what a traditional transfer would look like. I’ll keep playing with it and report back if I find any tricks that better approximate what I could achieve with the original process.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.


Polaroid transfer alternative—look Ma, no mess!

18 01 2009

I just found this tutorial on how to simulate the look of Polaroid transfers using Photoshop CS2 (or whatever version thereafter, I would imagine). The technique was adapted from the book, Photoshop CS2: Essential Skills,” by Mark Galer and Philip Andrews.

Now that Polaroid apparently on its way out, access to Type 669 film will become limited, I would think. I read that Type 669 is the last film they will discontinue. I bought my last batch a few years ago on eBay. While I haven’t tried any digital method for creating transfers, I imagine that it’s a whole lot cheaper and cleaner than doing it the “old-fashioned” way (although I must admit it sure was fun doing it that way). I’ve seen other articles on recreating the transfer look digitally but haven’t tried them. I’ll try it using these steps and report back to you with the results.

Below are samples of my traditional Polaroid transfers that I did over a decade ago. Some have been published in a line of notecards I had professionally printed back then to promote my photography business. I sold a few packages of the cards on eBay back in those days. One buyer was an executive at Polaroid’s Digital Imaging headquarters who inquired about enlargements for their offices. He was looking to showcase work from different artists to show what can be done with Polaroid film and I was one of several artists he contacted. He ended up buying eight 11×14 images (beautifully matted and framed by my father) for the headquarters. That was a pretty neat and unexpected perk from my short venture as a virtual shopkeeper on eBay. If Polaroid is defunct, I wonder what happened to all that artwork he purchased?

I did a posting here on my Polaroid transfers in October 2007 that had links to sites that showed how to make transfers with the traditional method.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Hearing Loss Magazine, 2008 recap

18 01 2009

Our first issue in 2009 of the Hearing Loss Magazine (published by the Hearing Loss Association of America) was delivered to member mailboxes about a week ago. Reflecting back on 2008, our focus in the magazine was to include some members of a younger generation that are affected (but thriving despite it) by hearing loss. These cover subjects are in the links below. To view the pdf links, click on the gray-colored link, then on the same link again in the next window. The pdf should begin to download and open automatically. The other links (in red) are direct links to my previous posts.

hlm-2008-jan-cover2January/February 2008: Yew Choong Cheong was our cover subject in an article by Bill Nevin, director of communications for the West Virginia University Foundation. Cheong is a 28-year-old West Virginia University graduate student and one of just four recipients for the 2007 International Young Soloists Awards given by Very Special Arts (VSA arts). The award earned him an invitation to perform at the Kennedy Center, along with a $5,000 scholarship to further pursue his studies in music. All the images for this feature were provided by Greg Ellis, WVU Photographic Service. Read Bill Nevin’s article here: yewchoongcheung.

March/April 2008: Our March/April cover featured HLAA member Mike Royer, his wife Alicia, and friend Sue Cummings in a Walk4Hearing event. Want to learn more about Walk4Hearing? Read a recap on the event written by HLAA past president Anne Pope here: walk4hearing

hlm-2008-march-cover1In this same issue Mike wrote a personal story about growing up with a hearing loss and finally getting a cochlear implant. In June I photographed Mike and his family in my studio (photos posted here and here), and then Mike asked me to photograph their third child, Ashley, coming into the world this past September (see that posting here). What an honor to do so! Read Mike’s article here: mikeroyer

hlm-2008-may-coverMay/June 2008: One of my top most-visited blog posts to date (with 555 total hits!) was our May/June cover girl, Abbie Cranmer. The final cover made its debut here in that posting. I discovered Abbie’s wonderful blog last year and knew we just had to feature her. She came all the way from New Jersey for her photo session in my studio, bringing her cousin from Maryland to serve as my trusty assistant. They were both such fun to photograph. See the results of that photo session here. Abbie has quite a fan base—that post alone garnered 307 visits to date! Check out Abbie’s blog about her cochlear implant journey here and download her first published article:

hlm-2008-july-coverJuly/August 2008:
Our fourth issue in 2008 featured Virginia-native Alexa Vasiliadis, an 18-year-old dancer who wears a hearing aid. I photographed Alexa’s performance in The Nutcracker in December 2007. It was my first time to see a live performance of The Nutcracker. See those photographs here. I photographed Alexa again in the dance studio here and here. I posted our cover shot posted here. A very thoughtful Alexa and her mother, Lynne, sent yummy homemade baklava (Alexa made it using her late grandmother’s recipe) and Panera Bread gifts card to Barbara and me. These “thank you” gifts were unexpected and much appreciated! Read editor Barbara Kelley’s interview with Alexa and see my accompanying photos here: alexafeature

hlm-2008-sept-coverSeptember/October 2008: This issue featured Harvard senior Patrick Holkins, whom I photographed earlier this fall. Click here for an August posting where I asked viewers to vote on which cover photo they preferred. The votes were tallied and the cover that won the most votes is posted here. Patrick interned with HLAA this summer, and with the association’s support, he created and launched HearingLossNation, a non-profit online community designed specifically for hard of hearing individuals between the ages of 18 and 35. Patrick is also the moderator for the online forum. Sign up to participate here. Read Barbara’s feature interview with Patrick, accompanied by my photos, here: patrickfeature1

hlm-2008-nov-cover1November/December 2008:
Our final issue of the year featured Washington Redskins player Reed Doughty. I photographed Reed in August at Redskins Park and that posting, along with photos from the session, can be found here. Barbara’s feature interview with Reed, including some of my photos, can be found here: reedfeature

hlaabdaylogo1ON ANOTHER NOTE: HLAA Convention 2009 will be held at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center in Nashville, June 18-21. Vinton Cerf, Ph.D., vice president and chief Internet evangelist for Google and widely known as the “Father of the Internet,” will deliver the Keynote Speech at the Opening Session. Learn more about Convention 2009 on the HLAA website here. HLAA also celebrates its 30th birthday this year! (I designed this fun little birthday logo for the event.)

AND FINALLY: I photographed Brenda Battat (Executive Director) and Nancy Macklin (Director of Events & Operations) of the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) in my studio in October. The images below are from their photo sessions.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.


“Four by 4” at Gallery West

13 01 2009

FourXFour LogoOn Saturday evening Michael, Regina, Karen, and Joe and I attended the opening reception of the “Four by 4” show at Gallery West on King Street. Regina’s husband, Jeff, was one of the four artists in this collaborative exhibit. Founded in 1979, Gallery West is an artist’s cooperative gallery located at 1213 King Street in Alexandria, Virginia. The “Four by 4” show runs from January 7 through February 1. All photography © Cindy Dyer.


The Four x 4 artists, left to right: Parisa Tirna, Susan La Mont, Karen Waltermire, and Jeff Evans.

From the Gallery West website:

PARISA TIRNA is an emerging self taught landscape artist whose contemplative canvases evoke the classic landscapes of the 19th century. This is her first gallery show. See more of Parisa’s work at and on the Gallery West website.

SUSAN LA MONT has a B.F.A. in art from Pratt Institute, a M.A. in illustration from Syracuse University, and a Doctor of Arts from George Mason University in higher education with a focus on art. She has won several awards and her sharply drawn realistic paintings can be found in numerous private and corporate collections. See more of Susan’s work at and on the Gallery West website. You can watch her work on one of her paintings in a video I found here on the Artistic Type website.

KAREN WALTERMIRE studied art for several years before striking out on her own to develop a unique whimsical drawing style. She has been in several group shows in the D.C. area and was previously a member of Spectrum Gallery. See more of Karen’s work at and on the Gallery West website.

JEFFERSON EVANS is a self taught photographer who focuses on travel, nature and fine art images. He is a member of the Northern Virginia Photographic Society and the Springfield Art Guild. His work has been in numerous juried shows, exhibitions and publications. See more of his work at, on the Springfield Art Guild‘s website, and on the Gallery West website. Jeff also contributed his beautiful Monarch chrysalis photographs for a poster I designed for the Happy Tonics Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Shell Lake, Wisconsin. You can see that poster here. The “Monarch emerging” photos are also used in the nameplate of the quarterly newsletter, Butterflies & Gardens, that I design and produce for Happy Tonics.


Parisa started painting as a non-objective abstract painter until her first landscape experiment showed her the rewarding spirit of nature and brought her to the world of landscape art. Her paintings are inspired by American East Coast lushness of trees and fields of wildflowers and create a feeling of open space and reverie.


Susan La Mont’s narrative realistic style connects with viewers and encourages them to examine the details and speculate about the scenes she portrays. Susan’s work has been acquired by over 30 private and corporate collections.


Karen Waltermire draw portraits of imaginary people in pen and ink based on people she sees, architecture, and her imagination. Her style is modern, edgy and spirited—with a sense of humor thrown in.


Travel throughout Europe, as well as his wife’s love of gardening, has greatly influenced Jefferson Evans’ photographic eye. His images capture everything from broad vistas to lively street scenes to dewdrops on a single blade of grass. His subjects range from floral ephemeral to human transitional—from one moment to the next—from vivid colors to classic monochrome to evocative infrared. Above: Jeff and his wife, Regina


Above: Jeff with Leda (a friend from our neighborhood and also one of my “Weedettes” in the Garden Club) and Leda’s friend, Anna (right), who coincidentally was one of Michael’s co-workers when he worked for the City of Alexandria. Anna worked as a graphic designer for the City and is now a freelance photographer.


And from Jeff’s ‘hood, a rousing show of support—Michael, Regina, Karen and Joe. Some other neighbors and friends in attendance were Tom, Holly, Mike, Janet, Bill, Jeannie and Dan—and other supporters I met but whose names escape me. Michael, Tom, Holly, Karen, and Joe and I gathered for a wonderful Italian dinner across the street at Pines of Florence after the reception. (Kudos to the gallery and the artists—they provided a plethora of things to eat and drink—best food offering of any gallery reception I’ve ever been to!)

A SHORT STROLL DOWN (BLOG) MEMORY LANE: Back in December 2007 I posted a photo I shot of Jeff in front of his winning entry at a Huntley Meadows photo contest on my “One photo every day” blog. I wrote about Regina’s garden (which is one of Jeff’s inspirations) in September 2007. I posted a sweet photo of Regina with one of their three cats, Dusty, this past May. This past June I photographed Tom’s beautiful farm and two of the creatures I came aross—a beautiful Widow Skimmer dragonfly and a hungry White Death Spider. You’ll find those three postings here. And in April 2008 I wrote about Karen’s memorial garden to honor her mother.

Remember, the show runs until February 1, so if you’re a local resident (or traveling in the area during this time), stop by Gallery West to see the exhibit. Gallery West is open from Wednesday through Sunday. From January to March, hours are 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. From April to December, hours are 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. Other hours are available by appointment.


Jeff and I often go on short photo field trips. One of our favorite local places is Green Spring Gardens, where Jeff photographed his gorgeous pink poppies photo! Here are some of my photos from our field trips:

Green Spring Gardens

Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens

Brookside Gardens

U.S. Botanic Garden

Always in pink

13 01 2009

I shot this photo of my niece, Macie, on Thanksgiving Day. She’s five years old now and doesn’t sit still for long. I don’t think I got more than five shots fired off before she skedaddled. No matter—this one’s a keeper!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.


Oh, Christmas tree…

11 01 2009

suetreeUpon Sue’s request, I am showcasing her Christmas tree. She allowed me complete freedom in decorating it (and even purchased everything I suggested it really needed to give it more ooomph). I received this ultra-sweet-made-my-day e-mail from her yesterday morning, and with her permission I’m sharing it with you. (A special thanks to Sue’s neighbor, Sandy. She has a gorgeous tree in virtually every room in her beautiful home and her creative genius inspired me to make the star-spangled-firework-y tree topper on Sue’s tree.)

Oh, Christmas Tree, Oh, Christmas Tree, how lovely are your branches!!!

Cindy, I can’t bring myself to take down your beautiful Christmas tree. When I get up early in the morn while it’s dark, the first thing I do before going into the kitchen is turn on the Christmas tree for me and passersby to enjoy.

When I’m outside in the dark in the morning with Mattilda now, I go outside and stand on the sidewalk and admire the tree from there. It’s just sooooo beautiful. Then I turn it on again before going into the bedroom. I just enjoy that tree so much because it’s the most beautiful Christmas tree I’ve EVER had! It’s like having Christmas every day! I just get so much joy inside my heart when I look at it.

Cindy, thank you for blessing me so very much. I love you, Sue.

Have a cuppa tea, y’all

11 01 2009

At long last…photos from Sue and Barbara’s December 14 Christmas Tea at Sue’s house in Huntsville, Alabama. Sue and Barbara are pictured in the bright green and red polka-dotted aprons that Barbara commissioned just for the event. And before we get started, thank you, Sue, for including me in this special event (and for flying me to Huntsville, too!). It was a pleasure “breaking scones” and getting to know Barbara and your new friends and neighbors in Huntsville. Now stop dawdling and start planning the spring tea!


Top photo: Sue created the beautiful wreath that graces their front porch entrance. Kitchen duty photos: I attempted to help her make sandwiches but she was so picky with her exacting crust trimming procedures that I happily went back to decorating duty. I may be good at some things, but apparently trimming neat edges on tea sandwiches is not one of them!

Her first decorating assignment for me—I got to decorate her Christmas tree in the living room without any restrictions; she even let me pick out new decorative elements (faux feathers, gold pinecones, glittery sprays, silk poinsettias) from the Trees N Trends store earlier in the morning—I must say, there is nothing more fun than decorating on someone else’s dime!)

Sue knows I prefer decorating to playing in the kitchen. (She’s the one who bought me a handpainted wooden sign to go over the stove. It reads, “I kiss better than I cook.”) Admittedly, I’ll never dethrone Martha Stewart or Paula Deen, but check out some of my past creations at a small dinner party in June, Chocoholic Party 2007, Chocoholic Party 2008 (with more photos and my friend Karen’s yummy cheese straw recipe), and our favorite event, the annual Pesto Fest. The Fall 2008 Pesto Fest was sadly canceled due to incessant rain in our area. This Italian-themed event must be outdoors for the proper ambience. Fiddle-dee-dee, 2009 is another year!

Before decorating commenced, Sue presented several plastic bins of ornaments, tassels, fabric, candles, candleholders, and roll after roll of ribbon for me to play with (an artist must have her supplies, you know!). After I finished glamourizing the chandeliers over the tables, I checked in on Sue’s sandwich-making process later and felt compelled to point out that not all of her sandwiches were visually appealing—she’s pointing to the not-so-perfect ones in the fourth photo. What would Martha think?


Decorations throughout the house, including the mantel where Sue and Steve displayed their new painting, a gift from me…and a southern holiday greeting on the napkins


Top photo, left: Barbara makes the rounds, visiting with friends. Top photo, right: Sue in the laundry room, cranking out endless pots of hot water for tea. Bottom photo: Guests mingle at the main table.


The dessert table was a big draw…especially with Barbara’s original peanut butter and chocolate cake topped with peanut butter cups (as if it needed more sugar!)—I told Barbara she could make a fortune selling that cake! Also on hand…pecan divinity, various cookies, and a chocolate fondue for strawberry dipping. Bottom photo: Sue and Biddy


Top photo: Billie June and Shirley. Bottom photo: Sue and Barbara present the tea-inspired gift basket to Anita, the winning ticket holder.


Top photo: Each guest received a beautiful homemade teapot-shaped sugar cookie as a parting gift. Bottom photo, left: Barbara showcases her culinary creations. Bottom photo, right: Lisa and Sue


Top photo: Rebecca (Cathy’s sister-in-law), Lois (Cathy’s mom), Cathy, and Diana. Middle photo: Barbara, Biddy, Julia and Sue. Bottom photo: Biddy and Julia


Top photo: Debbie (Sue’s neighbor), Sue and Kari (Sue’s hairdresser). Middle photo: Jenny and Sue (Jenny moved to Huntsville from Virginia about five years ago. Sue actually met her at New Hope Church in Alexandria years ago.) Bottom photo: Sue’s sister Gaye entertains guests.


Top photo: Diana, Lois, Barbara and Fran. Middle: Gaye and Lisa. Bottom photo: Billie June and Barbara


Top photo: Laura and Sue’s mom, Wanda. Bottom photo, left: Sue displays one of Barbara’s handmade cookies. Bottom photo, right: I was going to make some small ornament earrings for Wanda and Sue said they needed to be much, much larger since her mother likes wearing flashy jewelry. So Wanda, being ever the willing participant, actually wore these at the end of the party (they’re lighter than they look).


Top photo: Sue with her lovely neighbor, Sandy. Middle: Cathy, Lois, and Rebecca. Bottom photo: a partial group photo


Top photo: Wanda, Barbara, Sue and Gaye. Middle: A gathering of tea-cozy-covered teapots. Bottom photo: Quick! What else can you do with a tea cozy? Allow me to introduce you to Laura and Mary Ingalls and their uppity friend Nellie Oleson.


When Michael and I were vacationing with Sue and Wanda in the Pacific Northwest last fall (see multiple postings about our funfilled trip here and here), Wanda mentioned that she had always wanted a “smooth cake.” (I knew she meant a fondant-covered cake.) Sue told Barbara about Wanda’s desire and the day after the tea party, Sue drove over to Barbara’s house to pick up a “smooth cake” she had made especially for Wanda. (Now that’s pure southern hospitality in action, y’all!) In the photo above, Wanda shows off her “smooth cake.” Take notice that she’s wearing a fun engraved bracelet that reads, “Does this bracelet make me look fat?—a gift from a friend. (You can buy that cute bracelet here. Warning—it’s not costume-jewelry priced…and $25 for shipping a resin bracelet? Hmmmmm…)

And finally, just in case anyone is interested—I was born in Selma, Alabama. The city is best known for the Selma-to-Montgomery civil rights marches that began in 1965.

Something that Sue’s guests and new friends might not know about her—when I first met Sue in 2003, she was working on a tea-inspired page-a-day calendar and was having a not-so-good experience getting it designed. (Sue was my neighbor, just a few houses away—I met her when I called about the community’s garden-open-house event). The calendar was a project produced by her company, Tea Memories. Since I’m a graphic designer, I volunteered to help her with the project. It was fun to design and produce and we became the best of friends during the process. I found mention of the 2003 and 2004 calendars on (scroll down to the 4th entry and read about the project).

Sue has returned the creative favor numerous times by serving as a most professional model for photographs for publications and magazines I design. Below are shots I did this past spring for Hearing Loss Magazine, a publication of the Hearing Loss Association of America.


© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Westheimer Avian Conference

10 01 2009

Sounds exciting, doesn’t it?

I shot this image the first evening of our road trip back to Virginia while we were at a stop light on Westheimer in Houston (I confess—we were just leaving a Half Price Books & Records store—I bought just three books, I promise—and they were all just $1 each from the clearance section). This was just one small section of telephone wire at the intersection and the area was clearly a magnet for birds. There were thousands of birds lined up on every wire! I shot about 20 shots through the window before the light turned green. (Michael was driving, by the way, so I didn’t put anyone at risk.)

I came across an interesting essay that answers the question, “Why do birds form large winter roosts and flocks?” on the Sibley Nature Center blog.

Love birds? Check out this bird-filled post here from my July 2008 archives, this post here on chicadees from summer of 2007, and this post here on mourning doves from spring of 2007.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.   


Toto, we’re not in Texas anymore…

9 01 2009

Michael finished work early today and we decided to grab our cameras and drive over to Green Spring Gardens to see if we could get some shots before the beautiful afternoon light faded. It has been gray, drizzling, damp, rainy and quite depressing for a few days, so today was our first sunny blue-sky day and we didn’t want to waste it. It didn’t seem that cold going out to the car, but by the time we got to the park, it was freeeeeeezing. I still managed to shoot over 100 images despite the fact that I wasn’t dressed for the cold (am I ever?). No socks (sorry, Mom), and just a shawl over my shoulders (fool). No gloves, either. And I got a bit muddy while getting the eye level shots of the sweet little snowdrops. Sigh. I should have stayed in Texas until the weather warmed up here. Is it spring yet?

Click here to see snowdrops that I photographed last April at Green Spring Gardens.

Green Spring is one of my favorite local places to photograph. Below are links to all my posts about this wonderful park during the 2008 gardening season:

A very fine (birth)day, indeed! (can it get any better than this?)

Japanese Anemones (such an elegant flower):

Photographic smorgasbord (lots of bugs in this post!):

Convention ’08 (even more bugs here):

In bloom at Green Spring Gardens (a very colorful day!):

I will be the gladdest thing (images from a hot day in July):

Duh…more flowers, of course! (a beautiful May day):

Love-in-a-mist (one of my favorites):

A day of bliss (yes, it truly was):

Glorious poppies (yes, they were):

Swaths of color (capturing the first spring blooms):

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.



5 01 2009

I discovered Igor Siwanowicz’ macro photography during a web search on the subject and was blown away. There are some really spectacular images on his main site. Unless you’re a Russian linguist, the text will be lost on you as much as it was on me. No matter, his work is amazing!

Click here and here to see what I mean.

I’ve been tagged

5 01 2009

My fellow blogger, Heather, from Mommy Miranda Musings, has tagged me to reveal six weird/random things about myself. Here goes:

1. I find it very hard to not be doing something productive or creative almost every second of the day. (I’m sure that’s no surprise to people who know me). There aren’t enough hours in the day to do all the things I want to do. I stay up too late and rarely nap. Even when I do go to bed, I find it hard to get to sleep because the wheels are always spinning in my head—creating new stuff, working out a layout on a job or creating a Photoshop collage, worrying about work/family/friends/money, and pondering all the possibilities in my life. I’m a supreme multi-tasker. If I’m eating, I’m reading. If I’m on the phone, I’m cleaning the house or watering plants. Sometimes I’m reading and trying to watch a movie on tv. I have a stack of books next to the bed and every night I read a few pages from whichever one I can reach first. When I finally do get to sleep, I sleep really, really hard.

2. About 98% of the time, when a big group of friends gets together for dinner out, my order is the only one messed up. The only one. Everyone will get their correct order and mine won’t come at all. We’ll call the waiter over and discover mine was never put in. Then my order will come (when everyone else is halfway done with their food) and it will be a completely different meal. If I dare give that same restaurant another try (it has happened when a friend insists the error was a one-time thing), something else will happen along the same lines. So, from here on out, when that happens, that particular restaurant becomes taboo for me. Friends don’t get it and when I bend the rules, it happens again just to prove me right. Murphy’s Law in effect.

3. I have a rare (and completely useless) skill. Here’s the skinny: I rarely look at a clock unless I’m on a deadline (I’m self-employed, so there’s less clock-watching in general), but because of some wonky internal clock, if I do know the time (say I look at the clock when I leave the house to run errands), I can later tell you the time (within 5-8 minutes) just by gauging how long I’ve been out and how many places I’ve been. I’ll either be on the money or within 5-8 minutes of it. Accuracy is probably about 90%—rarely am I ever off more than 15 minutes. Perhaps my incessant need to be productive all the time plays a part in assessing how much time has passed.

4. I love, love, love to sing. I’ve been told I have a nice voice and it sounds pretty decent to me, too, but then again—people who sing horribly think they sound good, so who knows? Some people are surprised it sounds good because I think that with my hearing loss they expect me to sound like Marlee Matlin trying to sing. Folks, I have a hearing loss—I’m not completely deaf. I have good bone conduction so I can still hear my voice through my head despite the complete loss of hearing in my right ear (since 1993). I totally relate to former American Idol runner-up, Elliot Yamin, who has something like a 90% hearing loss in one ear—it doesn’t hold him back either! I sing in the shower, in the car, all over the house, while I’m gardening, etc. I’m fortunate that it doesn’t drive Michael crazy. We have two karaoke machines and I just bought a remote that you can hook up to the radio. (Michael may rethink this situation when he sees that!). I’m also very, very picky. I won’t attempt to sing anything that I know I won’t sound okay on. It has to be a love song, folk song, or ballad. Here’s the kicker—I’m scared to death to sing karaoke in clubs. However, I did get up enough courage to sing “I Honestly Love You” on a cruise ship many years ago—with my friend Norma standing silently next to me for support. I’m sure the audience (small one that it was) kept wondering when Norma was going to jump in with her “doo wop” background vocals—what a dolt I was—it’s not like I was going to see any of those people ever again.

5. I didn’t learn to blow a bubble with gum until I was 26 years old. My old boyfriend Dave’s younger brother (who was about 10 at the time) taught me how to on a road trip and I was so proud of myself. I still can’t whistle and have never done a cartwheel.

6. I’ve been to Antarctica (and would love to go back).

Happy New Year!

1 01 2009

Happy New Year to all my readers and fellow bloggers!

Michael and I just got back from our 28-hour road trip late Wednesday night. I spent five weeks working and visiting with my family in San Antonio. This year we got to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with my family. Michael flew back after Thanksgiving, then flew down again for Christmas. We hit the long (28+ hour) road back on Monday, getting here about 1/2 hour before the ball dropped in Times Square on Wednesday night. We were unpacking the car in really, really blustery cold weather and mid-way through, we both shouted “Happy New Year” to each other and continued unpacking. We’re such party animals, aren’t we?

Now comes the fun part of unpacking camera gear, software, backgrounds, light stands, tripods, glamour shot clothing/wigs/accessories, clothing, toiletries, more books we don’t need, Christmas gifts, etc….and then hooking up the computer again (and attaching the four external hard drives, card reader, tablet, etc.). Oh…and the cactus and succulents I bought at Kactus Korral on the trip down to Texas (where in the world am I going to put those?). And then there are my personal clothes, which seem to have reproduced in the last five weeks. I blame my father for this situation. He introduced me to cheap clothes at the Salvation Army and Goodwill stores throughout San Antonio. Did I know that these places sold clothing? Yes. Did I know they were in such good shape and included (depending on the location—upscale neighborhoods reap better goods) big name labels such as Coldwater Creek, Chico’s, Ann Taylor, Perry Ellis, Ralph Lauren, and the like? No. It never occurred to me to look. We even got my mother hooked! I bought her an Ann Taylor blouse and she couldn’t believe the shape it was in. We went back and she ended up filling a cart up with clothing! One store has a 50% off sale on clothing every Wednesday. We were getting blouses for anywhere from 50 cents to a maximum of $2! I also bought a load of things for the studio and my glamour session portraits. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that the car was packed so full that we hesitated to even stop for snacks because there was no more room for one more thing (okay, well, except for that impromptu stop to buy cheese at the Sweetwater Valley Farm in Philadelphia, Tennessee—let’s blame Michael for that stop, shall we?). There’s always room in the car for cheese, isn’t there?

I’ll be posting some photos shortly of our thrift store bargains, more family photos, shots from the trip home, and of course—-shots of all the cactus and succulents from the Kactus Korral that need potting up and a location in which to bathe in the (not much of late) sunshine! Stay tuned…