Lois Reynolds Mead

Art and a pink monkeyflower in a native plant garden…

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Sartorial splendor…

I was feeling the need to add a little spice to my early morning walks. We walk out the door before it is light in the morning. We see a few cars on the street, and often beat the paper delivery man. No one is around but still I recognize my 15-year-old fleece jacket has seen better days. What kind of impression was I making on the flora and fauna?

At the same time we have been reading a new mystery series (thanks sister-in-law Jenny for the introduction!) about Bruno the Perigord detective where a character was described as wearing a waxed cotton  jacket, “that had become highly fashionable in France.”…light bulb! My walking partner, the bird-man, has had a waxed cotton jacket for fifteen or so years that has the most wonderful glossy patina buffed on the sides and pockets where the sleeves rub. This has been a perfect jacket for him as often he must check on a raptor rehabilitating in the aviary before light or after dark in the winter, come rain or shine or dusk of night, when he gets home from work. Good in the rain (the water just peels off) and (it has never happened) but quite a barrier, I think, if talons ever went prematurely for their food. I quested for a similar waxed cotton jacket for myself. Most of the ones I found after a google search were boxy and would have made me look like a linebacker, but I did find one, styled like a motorcycle jacket (Lois and a motorcycle jacket? If you knew me in person you would think that was an oxymoron. Even in my youth I did not go for bad boys…but, as they say, you only live once and it is never too late.) It had a significant sale discount so it became mine.

The jacket has put a spring in my step (even though there is no audience except the dog and husband) and energized my walking because I swing my arms much more, closer to my body. A girl must work on her patina after all. (How many years will this take me?) I do not think this jacket will actually make its way to France with us because it is quite hefty and June probably won’t need it, but waxed cotton is sweeping the world from France to California. Dare I say it is the new orange, therefore the new black?! Just this morning I got an email with this link on how to make our own waxed cotton camera bag. (I am surprised that they do not give these instructions with cautions about flammability  and fumes of the wax, but that is just the art teacher in me. Personally, I would not use my home dryer for this but dust off my heat gun. Remember the days of embossing powders…perfect use for the tool in the drawer!)

Last weekend we went to lunch in Healdsburg and in one of  the small stores around the Plaza I found the perfect gloves to spark up even this new jacket. I didn’t know it could be sparkier, but there you go. Fingerless, weathered but with a hint of flowers. Excellent for taking iPhone photos without freezing your hands off and waving at the neighbors as they pass in their heated cars on the way to work. It is sartorial splendor…gets me out the door and embracing my days…





For the hands:


Here, from the runways of Milan and Paris, the bird-man and trusty companion showing the waxed cotton jacket put to use walking the Briones Reservoir.


The Briones Reservoir is a lovely walk we sometimes take but it is virtually impossible to get a picture that does not include high power utility lines. I will take this opportunity to show you what a couple of iPhone apps can do for you. I always bring out Pro HDR when I walk here because the landscape is so wide-open and seems to beg for the lush color the app gives photos and in the picture above there was originally a white utility box sitting behind Katie’s head. Gone now. Thanks, TouchReTouch app.

More of the landscape:






You can get rid of the power lines by cropping, pretending that they are so far in the distance that you can’t really see them, or by trying TouchReTouch App to erase them. Here is an example:



Same picture but no power lines in the middle left…frames were put on the pictures with Snapseed app.



It was not hard for us to fit into the French way of strolling neighborhoods, pausing for a bite, and sitting in small parks with great views. (Proud to say the outrageous eating I did for two weeks had no negative effects due to the walk, walk, walking also involved.) The first full day we needed to be over in the 5th Arrondissement for our Untours orientation. We started early so we could walk the area and see some sights.
I kept my eyes upward and kept snapping pictures because I was awed by the architecture


We came to Place St. Michel (if there is going to be a student demonstration this is where it will start and locals rose up against Nazis here, commemorated under the dragons) where there is this magnificent fontaine




We did like that they were blowing bubble in our honor (rather than throwing cobblestones)

We walked on toward the Il de la Cite trying to remember to check the red man and green man signs and the zebra stripe crossings (must have been successful because we made it back home)

Discovering bridges and The Seine



(have decided for the next trip a goal will be to walk over every bridge)
We wanted lunch in the Place Dauphine behind the Palais de Justice and here I take a small diversion. We arrived in Paris the day after their Presidential election and in a few weeks they would have more elections so there were some interesting things revolving around the election to see. Lots of activity with press and police at the back side of the Palais

And one of the first chocolate shop windows I looked in (sorry about the glare from the glass) had this wonderful piece in chocolate…a large square, maybe 18 x 18, that looked like a die on top and on its sides had chocolate portraits of Hollande

And Sarkozy

Hollande won and we found our Place Dauphin

A lovely square



We ate right there…

White asparagus and beef salad for him and avocado and shrimp salad for me…


And we looked at this (a ProHDR app shot)

And realized we wouldn’t mind living up at the top in one of these buildings (if there was an elevator)
Enjoyed the blooms on these trees

We walked out the end of the square and saw Henry IV

Down the other side of the island we passed by the Conciergerie Prison where you waited for the guillotine

We passed a demonstration with white flags and whistles blowing

After visiting the big sight of the day, we rested in yet another park with this view (another ProHDR app shot)

I will show you pictures of that big sight in the next post.



The thing about the sidewalks of Italy is that there is only room for one person wide while walking. This wrecks havoc with stopping to take pictures since anyone trying to pass you has to step into traffic. There is never a time when you are alone on the street so if you stop for any reason there is a lot of risk involved. I am quick at taking the gorilla type shot with the native camera on the iPhone, but I haven’t risked HDR shots except when I know that I will not be risking anyone’s life. You have to stand absolutely still while the Pro HDR app analyzes the image and then takes two images and blends them together. These are HDR shots I have taken when I could stake out firm ground and clear vistas.










iPhone Photo Friday…

We took a  trip to Woodside this week. I took these shots with ProHDR and then cropped them in Crop Suey. They were put in Photo Studio and processed with Saturation (61), Rainbow Palatte 2 (104), Hot Yellow (153), CrossPro 1 (169), Vignette 1 (157), Photo Border 1 (170), and Photo Border 4 (173). I was looking for some old buildings with interesting textures and I think I found them.

The following pictures series is the original Pro HDR, through the Photo Studio layers, and then into a new app, for me, PhotoArtista Oil.

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iPhone Photo Friday…

We went back to the Briones Reservoir, this time armed with our own permit (that has got to be the best deal-$20.00 for a three-year permit to walk on trails in beautiful scenic areas managed by EastBayMud) and some sunshine. Our last venture here was on an Audubon bird hike where we had rain the entire time, but more birds on that day than on this day with sun. Along with the iPhone I took my Canon, but of course after one shot the batteries ran out-so typical of me…

After the Great Blue Heron, the camera quit. This presented itself as the perfect opportunity to try my hand at the Pro HDR app on the iPhone. Great landscapes and scenic views. I had no tripod but hoped I could stand still enough for the shots. With Pro HDR you have to stand still and not move the camera for a lengthy time because the app takes two shots one exposed for the highlights and one exposed for the shadows and then aligns and combines them together for the final picture. I did also put these photos into PhotoStudio app to put the black frame around them but there was no further processing after Pro HDR.

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A confluence of factors led me to this post:

1. I was teaching a class last Saturday and I was thinking a lot about ways to talk about and experiment with composition.

2. I added another new app to my library of apps. This one is ProHDR and I thought it might help me get better color in pictures taken inside. HDR stands for high dynamic range. You need to stand very still for a while because it actually takes two pictures that it then combines. One picture is high contrast and one is low contrast. You get the full range in the final combination rather than having your picture drop out the low.

3. Recently I had my friends from the school where I used to teach come over for a party. When people walk in my house they usually remark on the amount of color on the walls (I am the one with stair risers that are each a different tile color), so I found myself uttering one of those crazy statements (like “chartreuse is the new black”) and then waiting for chuckles. I do not know where it came from but I heard myself say, “When you live in a ’50’s Rancher, color is your best friend.” Seemed so right at the moment. I do not know if anyone else laughed, but I did.

I took the pictures with the ProHDR app and then put them in Infinicam for a frame. The corners of framed art I have on my walls formed the composition against the various wall colors. If I remember the color I will add it because sometimes the name of the color impressed me along with the color itself.

A bedroom with the color “ink” on the walls and lots of white on the woodwork and trim.

The family room where each wall is a different color including a teal, “dark linen”, and “gold finch”.

On the kitchen walls is “cornsilk”

The dining room has grayed purple with a copper border. The matts around the framed prints are a sage green.

The living room with “canvas tent” and a pale blue accent wall.

And the purple front door.

This turned out to be a nice exercise for thinking about composition and even though I was never much into having diamonds, I do like to say, “A girl can never have too much color”…