#BrightSquare: Four Tips to Take and Create Better Car Show Photos

#BrightSquare Day #26

And if you have not yet joined in with squares, why not join us today. All I ask is that your image has 4 equal sides, and that it reflects the theme of bright.. You can visit our square galleries for inspiration.

Becky B.

Becky is gone for a few days, but she will be back to checking your posts. If you are new to participating in the squares challenge.

#Prescott Car Show #7 Mostly Orange

Today is mishmash day in this series of car show photos. I will also address techniques I’ve learned for taking more professional looking car show photos – or sometimes in my case – what not to do.

Look don’t touch

It’s always a good idea to take CLEAR pictures of the identification cards or record shots. In this case, I was just browsing not photographing a car show professionally. They had attached the card by placing it under the windshield wiper. Since the owner was not present, I couldn’t touch the car to get a better view. If you get too close, you could scratch it with your coat zipper or an extra camera. Vince estimated that it was a late 1930s Plymouth.

Take a record shot

My dad always told me to take pictures of signs if there were any. There weren’t any signs on this car that I saw, but I had never heard of a Henry J car, so I took the picture. I could have straightened the sign a little, but I liked the tilt.

Cropping Rules

How do you treat photos that might be better uncropped when you meet the criteria of the square’s challenge?

My Canon Rebel EOS XTIi camera may have a way to shoot a square picture, but I haven’t found it. These photos are all squared in Photoshop Elements 15, which I was fortunate enough to be able to load back into my new computer because I saved the serial number.

The conservationist part of me hates to cut either back or front ends. Who knows which is most important? In the case of this first photo, I decided mostly by size and proliferation of color in the front. The interest in the split front window also influenced my decision. Besides, I already had a picture of the back.

When I crop car pictures, or even focus on a smaller part of the car, I’ve learned that closer is better. I loved the ghosted Plymouth name on the side of the car. Because I got so close to the car, in the crop I had to eliminate some of the other decorative painting when I squared it.

Of course, you can’t get a picture of the entire car in a super close up shot. In this picture the entire painted section shows up. As pretty as the painting is, if I hadn’t taken the close up shot, I would have missed the ghost painting.

I got lucky on this photo and didn’t have to chop anything. The poles annoy me a little. If this was a professional photo I’d get rid of it. In Photoshop and Elements 2021 it is easy to get rid of poles, but I haven’t tried it in Elements 15. The sky is beautiful in this picture because of the direction in which I took the picture. If it hadn’t been, there are quick edits in the 2021 Photoshop Elements program to quickly change it.

In this photo I decided that the detail in the 56 Chevy door was more important than having two headlights in the square. I wanted to keep both front bumperettes in the picture, and it worked out perfectly.

I love woodies. This old surfer dude dressed to go perfectly with his car. His expression and the fact that he was busy with his other admirers, made me decide not to stay and chat. In the case of the second picture, I decided that the door was not important.

Eliminating Unwanted Background

I opened with this 1953 Henry J. It had one of more interesting paint jobs at the Prescott Car Show. It also had the unlucky spot of sitting next to the porta-potty.

You probably have similar edits in the processing programs you use. I used the Guided Section Fun Edits of Photoshop Elements 15, to eliminate unwanted background with a paintbrush and some texturing.

Canva will eliminate all the background like I did on my Zombie Van photo two days ago, but it also eliminated part of my watermark. I tried unsuccessfully to fix it afterwards in Photoshop Elements. I could have started over, and if anyone wants to buy this picture, I’ll go to the effort of making it perfect! LOL

Have a great week. I’m Onward to a new Bright series tomorrow to finish up the month. are you doing a series or individual posts for becky’s brightsquares?

#BrightSquare: Even Dark Cars Can Be Bright at the 2021 Prescott Car Show

#BrightSquare#24

“ All I ask is that your image has 4 equal sides, and that it reflects the theme of bright.”

Becky B.

Prescott Car Show #5

We are almost at the end of the month of bright squares. My friend Norah Colvin loves purple, so this two tone, two door 1955 Chevy is for her. There were not many purple cars at the Prescott Car Show last Saturday but this one is a beauty.

My husband’s dad let Vince “fix” his junk two door 1952 Chevy when he was in junior high school. Once he sanded the dashboard and painted it white. Vince had hoped to get the car when he was old enough to drive. One day zigzagging his bike up the steep hill to his house, he noticed something amiss with “his” car. As he got closer, he could see that the entire backend was smashed, pushed in clear to the back seat. What happened?

Someone had parked their car further up the hill without setting the emergency brake or putting it into gear. Vince’s dreams were dashed.

The next few pictures might have been from the most unusually decorated car at the show.

There were shiny bits. It looked like someone had sanded it down, and put a glossy coat on top. You will all remember the owner’s dog resting under the back bumper from blue day.

The owners of this final prize for the day spent only a little effort to shine it up. It was a true hippy van from the 60s. I gave it a tie dye background in Canva by removing the background and replacing it with another. This low rider was so low to the ground, when I removed the background it appeared to be floating in a zombie dream. I should have tilted it!

Only two more major colors at the car show to finish out a week of bright cars. Over the final days this month I want to take you on the amazing hiking trail we went on April 23. One couple said we were “adorable” because Vince had to hold my hand several times and help me up and down a slippery climb.

see you all tomorrow. happy adventures.

#BrightSquares: Bright Prescott Antique Cars

#BrightSquare Day 20

“As usual for a Squares Challenge month I will be sharing squares daily, and I would love it if you did the same. However if daily sounds too daunting, don’t worry. It is fine to join us weekly or even just pop in occasionally with your squares. The frequency of your squares depends on you and also your blog. All I ask is that your image has 4 equal sides, and that it reflects the theme of bright.”

Becky B.

Prescott Car Show #1: Yellow Cars

Old Cars Speak

Cars beckon to Vince,
They tug on his credit card,
"Buy me, buy me, please."

Cinquain © 2021 Marsha Ingrao

The Ingraos spend a lot of time looking at drooling over (and sometimes buying) old cars. Vince notices every detail. I like colors. For the next few days you will see some of the brightest cars and trucks on the planet.

Jeep made over 300,000 Willys Wagons between 1946 and 1964, you don’t see many of these station wagons in bright yellow. According to Wikipedia, they were the first mass-market all-steel station wagons designed and built as a passenger vehicle. There were two at this car show. This was one of my favorites.

My first husband, Mark, drove a Super Bee exactly like this when I met him, and I thought it was the coolest car I’d ever seen. It wasn’t a good fishing car. The trunk was so big, he forgot that he had a bucket of smelt in it. The fish was well named, he found out after about a week.

I have no idea what kind of a car this is, but who can’t admire this much bright chrome?

55-57 Chevy’s abound at car shows. I think almost everyone in my age bracket either owned one or knew someone who did. I liked the deeper color of this 56 Chevy more than I did the lighter 57 in the next picture.

The first car I bought was a 57 Chevy and it cost $350. It wasn’t this color, nor was it in good shape. It quit running almost as soon as I bought it, and my friend said he would fix it. But he had a new girlfriend, and it never got fixed. It got towed to the Portland City Dump for sitting in front of our house too long.

I probably should have stored it in a barn, painted it yellow and towed it to a car show fifty-years later. I bet I could have sold it for a little more than $350. Hindsight!

Crazy Life Updates

  • We did not buy an antique car at the car show!
  • Best Buy had my new computer ready a day ahead of schedule – YAY!
  • I save all my passwords on a file in Google Sheets, even though my computer remembers them. I had saved the serial number of my Photoshop Elements 15 program, and I was able to download it off the Adobe site. SUPER YAY!
  • My Google Browser saved all my passwords as well, many of which I don’t need and 129 of them are risky with a bright exclamation point inside a dangerous looking red triangle.

Anything going well in your life?

Three Easy Steps to Make Your Garden a Work of Art

Plan, Plant, and Purchase sums up the three easy steps to turn your garden into a work of art.

back yard bordering new garden area
Looking into BellaVista Gardens Northeast Garden

Landscape architects tell you there are rules to obey when designing a garden if you want it to be a work of art. My husband and Dr. Manuel Jimenez, a friend and small farm advisor emeritus for UC Davis just dig in, and they have beautiful gardens. 

Another friend, Jack Pizura of Wicky-Up Ranch Bed and Breakfast says, “I’ve done all these things over the years, and they come out, but I couldn’t tell you what I’ve done.”

Doesn’t that sound like most of us? When something comes naturally to us or we’ve done it so often, we can’t explain how we did it.

As a non-landscape artist, non-horticulturists, I’ve come up with my own rules based on observing others as they fashion something beautiful out of bare land.

Marsha’s Rules

Step One – Plan Your Layout

“Hardscape, Marsha. You have to start with hardscape.”

Vince Ingrao

Warning: This phase can take a LOT of time!

Last spring when we started planning our Northeast Garden, my husband asked me to draw out what I wanted in the big garden.

“Write it down,” his rule for me not for himself. He works by vision and talking it out.

Not being artistic I panicked and found a garden planning site and spent most of the day researching what plants grew best together. You might find this helpful, but I found it hard to use it as a design tool. The plant information was great, though.

My husband looked at my plan and said instantly that it wouldn’t work.

“Where’s the structure? You can’t fit that many plants into that amount of space? What do you want from your garden anyway?

Ouch, he had a point. Although some people do, I knew I wasn’t going to supply our entire food source from the garden. I was stumped and our garden languished for a year.

“I like to watch things grow,” Vince’s sister commented.

“Yes,” I thought. “It’s that simple.”

Plants are beautiful, and I enjoy looking at my garden as much as I enjoy eating from it. So Vince designed Section One of the Northeast Garden. He terraced the garden into two sections using the repurposed cement and began shaping the lower section.

Fewer plants enjoyed the room to grow in raised rows and rock pathways. I would not have made the paths so wide, but it’s working well. I appreciate that now. Fewer plants mean it’s a lot less work. I can live with that. Harvesting is very time-sensitive and time-intensive work.

I planted the strawberries and beets. He brought in the bathtub – a garage sale find that has been unused in the back forty for at least ten years.

In January, Vince needed a project before he could tackle the garden again. He began to plan outside with a measuring tape and the vision in his head. First, he envisioned a bridge over the gully, where the creek will go someday .

There still was no plan for irrigation in the garden. You can not garden in the Central California Valley without irrigation unless you want to hand water every day. That’s what I have been doing for five years in the South Garden.

Bridge to BellaVista Gardens

Over the years, I’ve learned that one can’t fight with visions. No amount of coaxing is going to speed up the process. One of the things I love about Vince has been his ability to imagine a space and create something beautiful from nothing. I can’t do that.

However, Vince was not motivated to plant a garden. He finished a pathway around the palm tree made with cement from a project completed sixteen years ago. Manuel, my horticulture mentor, lined one of his garden areas in ornamental cabbage, so I bought the ornamental cabbage to line the path. Still no plan for irrigation. He loves to hand water every morning. I think it must start his creative juices. It doesn’t do that for me.

Nutter Butter enjoys the bridge but could care less about the cabbage. He looks forward to digging in the garden and adding his own touches.

When Vince asked me in April what I wanted to plant in the upper garden, I told him that I wasn’t lifting a finger until there was a watering system. I was done. I lied, of course, but I refused to give him any ideas and said the garden was his. The next day he had a vision for the irrigation system.

Newest landscape elements, rocks defining the tomato area, a retaining wall behind the tomato area, steps to the third terrace, old farm implements, and a garden-store-bought planter wreath without plants.

Encouraged, I planted some tomato and eggplant six-packs, while he got sidetracked by additional design elements. Within a few more days he and Hector Casteneda, the handyman/gardener/ who makes all of Vince’s projects doable, had built another terrace and a set of steps down to my new and improved composting area.

The design is not finished but he repurposed two loose extra sections of the fence that had been just leaning up against the back of the fence for nineteen years and some rocks from around the back – a mystery where he found them. Who knew all that stuff would be so handy?

Vince and a friend dug the stove from our friend’s field. Notice where the legs ended up.

As of May 18, the upper section irrigation was not finished, but as you can see, I couldn’t wait to start planting. The result was that I lost ninety percent of my bean plants and fifty percent of my squash. I replaced most of them with seeds. The South Garden still awaits irrigation.

You really need a plan, and part of the hardscape in this area needs to be irrigation.

Step Two – Plant Like Vegetables in One Area

Garden experts agree that you should plant a lot of what you like and plant it together, not scattered throughout the garden.

rows of blueberries

My husband loves blueberries, so he mentally designed our new garden to have a patch of blueberries. (Not three like I bought from the nursery. ) They cost $12.95 apiece, and I felt I had splurged buying three plants. Eighteen blueberry plants now mark the start of the Northeast Garden in rows fanning out from the fence line in three rows of diminishing numbers of plants – 7-6-5.

As a side note, my friend Manuel is the hybridizer or inventor of the types of plants that make it possible to grow blueberries in the super-heated, semi-arid climate in the Central Valley of California.

The lone blueberry bush – ah, where is it?

In my South Garden, there is one blueberry plant amid some leftover strawbabies and mint babies that Vince would not let me put in the Northeast Garden. I’ve stored them there temporarily/semi-permanently. You probably would agree with Vince and other garden design experts that the blueberry plant doesn’t make a statement.

What about volunteers?

My South Garden – totally under my control now that the design elements are done has evolved into an experiment, much like my blog. That is a design flaw. To have a beautiful garden, you must not let these little babies sway you into letting them stay.

These blackberries started growing in a limited place in my small garden. I left them where they were, but put them in their own dirt in a small pot. I have a place for them next year in the big garden.

Manuel who created the Woodlake Botanical Garden might commingle two or three types of vegetables – a row of tomatoes next to a row of carrots, for example. Plants that grow well together in the same place, but they don’t take up the same air or root space increase your garden’s yield. Putting varieties of plants together works when you know what you are doing but it can get messy.

This gem is growing on the cusp of Terrace Three where my compost pile was this winter. The soil is dry, rocky and nothing should live, let alone flower.

High-yield gardening is not the same as random planting or allowing volunteer plants to overtake and manage your garden. I am guilty of the latter. I can’t bear to get rid of a healthy-looking plant. I’m so proud of it for surviving and surprising me by its presence.

Step Three – Purchase or Make Decorative Elements

 Themes allow the non-artist to contribute to the overall look. The BellaVista Garden is rusty. Sometimes you can buy decorative pieces in garden stores, handcrafted shops, or home goods stores. That’s my speed. It can also be expensive for very small items.

Repurpose

Really great garden pieces are bigger and more unique than you can find in stores. Manuel builds fountains out of old farm implements for his gardens.

He brought in a building-migrant housing, a tractor, and now is building a porch with a house front.

In our case, the fence defined the space. Vince wanted rusty Rebar, so he found someone who would make the fence. Over the years it has rusted to perfection.

The fence is rusty. How many other rusty elements can you find? I see eight.

We found our own yard art sitting on the side of the road with a for sale sign. We had driven by it for probably a year, then one day I said, “I wish we had a business or something. I love that truck.”

Before I could blink, Vince turned the car around and was already dialing the number on the sign. We had it towed home. Yesterday Valero Brothers in Woodlake, CA moved it to the garden. Vince has plans to lift the back of the truck and add steps with rows of flowers cascading down. Or possibly a tailgate party look with a shade cover. Then he will whitewash a sign on both doors that says, “BellaVista Gardens.”

Additional Gardening Posts

Creative Gardening Ideas

Spring Inspires Gardening Chores

Lessons Learned from Sheltering in Place – Harvesting Lettuce

Lessons Learned from Sheltering at Home

I’ve learned to appreciate you – and what you do. 

Some of you have been doing creative things on the computer with Zoom and other communicating programs. I love the music videos compiled from various performers operating from their home. That’s not what I’ve been doing.

In Tulare County, California, we have the second-worst COVID-19 statistics in the state. For that reason, unless I have to go out, I shelter at home. The weather has been perfect for gardening – 70 to 80 degrees. Ultra-violet light is supposed to be good for us, and here in the Golden State, we have plenty of sunshine.

The most important lesson I have learned this week is an appreciation for the people who process food. 

Yesterday, I chopped off two beautiful lettuce plants to make room for a summer crop of cantaloupe. If you think growing the food is work, then be prepared. Harvesting is much more work, and if you let it go, your crop and months of effort are wasted. 

Steps to Harvest Lettuce

First rinse

Warning! Don’t immediately take fresh lettuce or leafy plants in your house. You might be safe if you harvest a few leaves at a time but don’t count on it.

When you cut off lettuce be prepared for several unappealing things to happen. 

  • First, the bottom leaves are wilted and mushy. 
  • Secondly, bugs emerge from within the safety of the leafy bundle. Earwigs scurry out of the plant and carpet the soil in a mad dash to save themselves from sure destruction.
  • I immediately plopped the plants upside down into a bucket of water. A few roly-poly bugs surfaced during the first rinse.
  • Slugs leave their shells behind and burrel into the plant. 

So, rinse OUTSIDE! The lettuce soaked in a large pail of water for an hour or so. With the lettuce removed, you can see all the dirt that came off.

Second rinse

Inside, I stripped the leaves off the core and tossed the core, and the scummy leaves into a compost bucket. I added dish soap to this wash. The water came out mildly dirty compared to the water from the first rinse.

Third rinse

I thought this would be the end of the rinsing, but stubborn pieces of garden soil clung to the crevices of the curly lettuce. Bugs had left their brown marks on the center of the leaf. The compost bin grew, but I still had more lettuce than we could use in a month.

Fourth rinse and packaging

This last rinse came out clean. I let the lettuce drain and dry for about a half-hour, then packed the leaves into plastic bags with a paper towel to absorb any excess moisture. The towels help the leaves stay fresh for a long time. I’ve kept them for a month and the leaves came out crispy and sweet as though I had just picked them.

The discarded leaves went into a compost heap outside in the back of the garden. 

Harvesting and Processing Peas

It takes time to shell peas, but it’s an easy task. You need a knife to save your fingers, a clean bowl for the peas, and a compost bucket for the shells. This was the final harvest of peas which I gleaned off the bushes I pulled off the fence.

I put the peas into a Ziplock bag with a paper towel inside and stored them in the refrigerator. Google says that they last 3-5 days like this, but you can tell if they are going bad. I found that they last much longer.

Harvesting and Processing Strawberries

Strawberries must be picked twice daily, but not processed that often. If I don’t get them, the birds, roly-poly bugs, or slugs will. I store up the berries until I have enough to serve, no more than a day or two. After that, I process them simply by slicing them and adding sugar. My husband wants me to dry them in the oven, but that takes three hours so I haven’t tried it. 

Today I found this strange strawberry. Since almost every seed had sprouted, I planted it. We will see what happens.

Thanks to Food Processing Workers

So today I offer my thanks to all the workers who do the processing that goes into the food I normally buy from the grocery store in a nice clean package with everything included. 

And don’t even get me started on how much I respect those who run restaurants! I will never take any of you for granted ever! 

Next time tribute to farmers!

What have you learned during your time of sheltering at home?