Dec. / Jan. Challenge – “My Favorite Image!”

Written by Hockomock Joe on . Posted in Monthly Challenge



Let’s try something a little different. We all have them – our favorite shots taken over the years. But, can you pick just one to share with the rest of us. I know I had my list whittled down to a mere few hundred. I did make the ultimate sacrifice and chose my #1. So, I am asking that you select your favorite and prepare a story to go along with it. Of course, this means you will be able to sift through your archives – good luck!

We are looking forward to see what you selected. . . 


Joe’s “Ghost Train“ 

Skunk Train


I have had more comments about this one image than any of the others. “Ghost Train” was a right-time, right-place shot. My wife and I were continuing on our Pacific Coast Highway trip back in August of 2007. One of our stops for lodging was in Ft. Bragg, CA. It was also one of unique places to lay our heads as we were housed in a former water tower – now a very nice B&B. While waiting for the call to breakfast, I went onto the roof to check out the surroundings. About a block and a half away I saw this classic locomotive. I immediately grabbed my camera and rushed off in the direction of the billowing smoke.


Just as I got there the “Skunk Train” was taking on passengers for its Saturday morning four-hour round trip to Northspur, CA. As I got beside the locomotive, it began to stoke its engines and steam began to rise all around it. I just started clicking away – fortunately it was a digital camera, as I would have certainly run out of film!


It wasn’t until I got home to check out what I shot during the twenty-five day trip along the Pacific Coast. I renamed it the “Ghost Train” because of the way the engine was emerging from all of the steam.



Ed’s ”Two Van Gogh’s

Ed Two Van Goghs

I shot the scene on the left in London, England, posted it on a website, and got back a comment that it looked like a modern day Van Gogh. Flattered, I Googled Van Gogh and located the image on the right, Van Gogh’s “Cafe Terrace at Night“. There are a lot of similarities, at least enough for someone to notice. For fun, I added a filter to my image to make it look like a painting.

Did someone say, “Ed, you’re no Van Gogh.”


Phil’s “Jill



This is from a while ago. It might not be my very best favorite but I like it.


Jim’s “Sunday Morning

Dec Challenge_1 (1 of 1)

Taken in Newport in May of this year.

The time was right, the trees were in bloom and the people on the lawn added to a very serene scene, I thought.



Bernie’s “Bluebird Family



My favorite shot may be “Bluebird Family,” taken back in 2008 with my old Nikon D40.

I may have a couple of more recent, technically better photos, but none tell a story like this one.  And, it was my first “15” score (thanks, Diane). The bluebirds had used this birdhouse in the front yard for several years before I finally decided to try to get some good pictures of them with my new camera and a 70-300mm lens. I set up with a tripod about 40 feet away, and while crouched down behind a bush, used my remote.  I was happy just to get the two adults, but when I realized the baby was visible inside, I was thrilled!


 Cindy’s “Lancaster 

cindy 2013-Lancaster-50

I love this photo that I took at a farm in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, a couple of years ago. It gives me a nostalgic feeling because I grew up next to a farm in Stoughton. I really like the bright green feathers, and I was fortunate that he sat still long enough for me to take his picture. Doesn’t it look like a scene from “The Wizard of OZ”?

Ron’s “Town River

Ron Town River

The photo was taken along the Town River in West Bridgewater several years ago.  I keep returning to this spot year-round because it’s in a constant state of flux and always scenic.  I think it’s one of the prettiest spots in this area.


 Ellen’s “Untitled”

Ellen Best

Since I still consider myself a bit of a novice, I don’t have that many photos to choose from yet.  This photo was taken as part of a class assignment.  We talked about Irving Penn, who was known for his black and white photography, and the use of light.  I had a very important “aha” moment working on this assignment, when it finally dawned on me how important a part the use of light is in photography.  


 Rick’s “Spoonbill Duel

rick Spoonbill duel

I guess my best photo experience ever so far was my trip to St. Augustine Alligator Farm.  The birds were plentiful, and I had plenty of time with nobody hurrying me along!  I took hundreds of photos that day until thirst and heat exhaustion pulled me away!  This shot of two spoonbills sparring was probably the best of the day, even though it was cropped because I was using a fixed focal length lens on a tripod when the action occurred.  The shot shows you can record action even with a manual focus lens!  



Jac’s “Cold War Flight



From fifty-seven years of pictures, this one best represents my life.


The image on the top is the view flying over the Andes while the lower one shows a Soviet IL–18 and a U. S. C.–130 on the tarmac in Santiago, Chile in 1965.


At the height of the “Cold War” our mission was to haul a gifted glider from the Peruvian Air force in Lima to the Argentinean Air force in Cordoba, Argentina. Generally, not a problem. . .


We were to fly via Santiago where the Communists were hanging out!


Thank you for your service, Jac!


David’s “Scottsdale


Taken in 2010 with a simple point and click Canon – I was going to play golf early in Scottsdale, and this sunrise presented itself. It was a photo screaming to be taken. After this I started on my search to improve my equipment, my skill, and my opportunities to develop my ‘on the beaten path’ photography Point of View!


Mariann’s “There she goes…

there she goes

This was a very expensive photo.

My granddaughter’s 5th birthday was approaching and I had the brilliant idea of taking her to the American Girl Doll store in Natick.  It was going to be an outing for her and Mimi.  I made reservations in the “Bistro” for our lunch, and only told her we were going “shopping”.  All the while I had an idea of what I wanted out of the day and this photo was my vision. (For whatever reason I didn’t want to bring the big camera and relied on only my iPhone).  I think we both got what we wanted.  I got the picture and she got the doll complete with a wardrobe and underwear.

Cost me about $300.00.

(ED’s Note: I’ll bet it was worth every penny!) 


Ruth’s “Toby



Toby” is one of my favorite images. I love cats and have never been without one for long. Six months after my beloved 19-year-old cat, Becky died, my son persuaded me that it was time for new life in our home. We adopted two boys, Toby and Tucker, from a nearby shelter. This is Toby, with a wistful look, as he peers out the kitchen door on a rainy day. Not sure why I was outside in the rain with my camera, none the less, but I’m glad I had it to capture this image. 


Lynne’s “Olivia“ 


This is one of my favorite pictures of my daughter, Olivia. I have many beautiful pictures of her, as she is very photogenic. I pulled out my cell phone for this one. It was taken this past December as she played three different roles in “A Christmas Carol.” She was Fantastic!! She was born to be on stage and I melt every time I see her there. I am such a proud Mom.


Gail’s “Winter in Vermont



Okay, as asked, here is one of my favorite images.  This is the front lawn of our camp in Vermont.  We’re 5 miles from the nearest stores, off several dirt roads up a 1/4 mile-long dirt driveway in the middle of the woods.  My parents bought the camp when I was 6 months old.  When someone asked my mother what she saw in it, she turned him or her around and said “the view”.  Winter is my favorite time of year in Vermont.  When I was little the only way in was by snowmobile.  Now we ride the snowmobiles just for fun.  (Now if I could just find the original of this picture so that I could play with it again now that I know how to use Photoshop better….) Anyway, here is my favorite picture “Vermont in Winter.”




October / November Challenge – “Places of Worship”

Written by Hockomock Joe on . Posted in Monthly Challenge

For the next two months the challenge will be to capture a place of worship – church, chapel, synagogue, temple, wherever people gather to worship. Growing up in Dorchester some of my friends used, “Joseph’s Donut Shop,”as their preferred place to hang during the Sunday Mass. Those of us who did go would share the priest’s sermon and the church bulletin with them. Sorry, no breakfast nooks or other such places will be accepted! 


1. Joe’s “Guardian Angel Cathedral, Las Vegas” 

Guardian Angel Cathedral, LV












2. Stephanie’s “Cross of St. Joseph’s Church

Stephanie Spyropoulos St Josephs cross










3. Jac’s “Eaton, NH Spiritual Setting

Eaton NH










4. Phil H.’s “Dove from Above

Dove From Above












5. Ron’s “United Parish of Carver

United Parish of Carver














6. Ellen’s “Portiuncula Chapel”

Porticunula Chapel













7. Lynne’s “Peace Abbey

Peace Abbey













8. Phil N.’s “Long Plain Meetinghouse











9. JIm’s “Earth, Sky & Water, Falmouth

Place of Worship (1 of 1)






 10. Jeff W.’s “Fall in the Cemetery”

fall in the cemetery










11.  Mariann’s “Buddhist Thai Temple

Buddhist Thai Temple













12. Cindy’s “San Jose Mission

Cindy San Jose Mission









13. Ed’s, “Episcopal Church, Whitman

Ed Episcopal Church Whitman













14. Judy’s “Buddha 

Buddha - Lemire














August / September Challenge – Portraiture

Written by Hockomock Joe on . Posted in Monthly Challenge

Seeing that we have exhausted the “Creative Sunflower” tweaking for the past two months, portraiture was our next theme. 


The only stipulation is that it must be shot anytime after July 31st. Size it as you would for HDP Competitions and send it to Joe.


1. Mariann’s, “Sam and Me, a Selfie!

Sam and me a selfie













2. Joe’s “Eden. . .














3. Jac’s “Starry-eyed Selfie















4. Jim’s “The Lesson

The Lesson













Phil H.’s “The Hiker

Phil's Hiker












6. Ruth’s “You Are my Smile” 













7. David L.’s “Are You Talking to Me?

Are you talking to me











8. Ellen’s “Red“ 














9. Ed’s “Cindy

2014-Portrait-10 b













10. Cindy’s “Ed

2014-Portrait-11 b














11. Rick’s “Erin and Jon

Erin and Jon




Summer Challenge “Creative Tweaking”

Written by Hockomock Joe on . Posted in Monthly Challenge

We tried this type of challenge last year and had some fun with it. I have posted an image and you are asked to creatively alter it. Remember, your final look should be recognized as coming from my original.


I’ll have Phil attach it to the Musings so you should have a good size to work with. Take notes on what you did to your tweak and send them along with your finished image (sized correctly) to me.


Here is the image you will be tweaking. . .

May June Challenge



And, the tweaks are off and running. . .

Enriched Sunflower












1. Joe’s “Enriched Sunflower


Camera RAW

-       Processed for white balance, lens correction and basic tweaks

 In CS5

-       Selected the sunflower, inverted the selection and then desaturated the background

 -       NIK Plug-ins

-       Passed through to get to NIK Plug-ins

-       In Viveza to enhance the colors

-       In Color Efex Pro IV to extract more of the details

-       In Silver Efex Peo 2 for a final color enhancement 

In CS5

     -  Sharpened 


Ed May June Challenge W












2. Ed E.’s “Sunflower Rendition


In Lighroom:
- Used “Crop Overlay” to eliminate some of the background on bottom of photo
- Used “Spot Removal” to eliminate hot spot on lower right of photo

In Perfect Photo Suite 8
- Added “Light Leak” filter
– Added vignette


May June Challenge EB Pencil Sketch












3. Ellen’s “Pencil Sketch

In Picasa

  – Used “pencil sketch”, and “graduated tint”.


sun painting on the wall rd












4. Ruth’s “Sun Painting on the Wall


In Photoshop:

- Selected the flower and cut it out.

- Used the oil painting filter in photoshop on the flower and layered it on an image of a painted wall to make it look like it was painted there 


How sunflowers are made












5. Mariann’s “How Sunflowers Are Made!


In PS Elements:

- I started with a new canvas, painted it and added a lens flare,

After that it was a series of cut and paste – simple


challenge final (1 of 1)












6. Deedee’s “Oil Painterly Sunflower



 - Added a layer and used Blur Filter

 - Added another layer and used Oil Paint Filter

 - Cropped it

 - Added layer mask to bring back focused green underside

In Lightroom

- Increased clarity, vibrance and then adjusted orange, yellow, and green sliders.


Rich Reynolds_Sunflower












7. Rich’s “Fabric-backed Sunflower

In CS6
- used selection tool to select just the flower and stem
- deleted background
- rotated flower to a pleasing angle
- cloned in additional stem
- cropped image
- went into Nik Color Effects and used detail enhancer to bring out the details in the stem and petal
- used color contrast to both darken the yellow and extend its range into the oranges – saved
- back in CS6 added a background of blue painted cement which I then placed under the sunflower layer
- added a background of canvas
- went back and activated the cement layer and created a mask and revealed some of the canvas around the edges
- went back and activated the sunflower layer and duplicated that layer
- used the oil paint filter and created an oil paint version of the flower
- went back to original sunflower layer and created a mask and revealed the stem and green back as the oil painted section.
-  saved and flattened image resized and formatted














8. Jac’s “Sunflower with a Twist

In Picture Window Pro

 - cropped picture
 - Transformation — Special Effects — Edge
 - Transformation — Special Effects — Spiral
 - Transformation — Composite  2nd inside of 1st and minimized


May-June-Challenge  marian-1













9. Marian’s “Kaleidoscopic Sunflower


In Picture Window 32

-       used special effects-kaleidoscope 12  

-       edge method-lapacian

-       lightned

-       color space-HSV


Pat Iimage









10. Pat I.’s “Framed Sunflowers“ 


In Photoshop Elements

 - Made several layers with a wet glass filter applied

 - Manipulated size and orientation of sunflower in each layer.  

 - Added the window frame as the top layer