Inside The Daisy

Inside The Daisy

At first when I looked at this Gerber Daisy and saw how distorted it was I walked on by.  Something tugged at my heart to take a second look and I realized that the flower was opened up on one side and would allow a unique vantage point to look right in and see all the complex details of the center of the flower from the side instead of shooting straight down.  The overall shape of the flower seemed much more interesting also than the normal blossom.  I also enjoyed being able to show the smaller new petals as they were emerging.

Just because you’re imperfect compared to everyone else doesn’t mean that you’re not perfect from just the right angle.

Pink Dogwood Bliss

Many of the flowers I photograph are ones that I grow but when the neighbor has a tree like this I don’t even bother trying to grow it myself.  Thanks to Ivy for letting me play and experiment with my new lens.Pink-Dogwood Pink-Dogwood-Crowd Pink-Dogwood-Curls Pink-Dogwood-Trio

A Simple Life – Panama’s Guaymi Indians

We are working with Latin America ChildCare creating images they can use to promote their efforts to bring education and a chance to escape the poverty cycle among the impoverished.  The Guaymi Indians live in the mountainous region of Northern Panama.  It is a long, rough trek to reach their area.  There is no electricity in this particular village and they live in houses made from local vegetation or a few scraps of tin.  They like brightly colored clothes and are shy but friendly people.  The school was started in 2008 and the concrete block building was constructed by teams of volunteers from US churches.  Individuals from the US may choose to send money on a monthly basis to support a child to attend the school.

Guaymi Indians, Panama, Latin America ChildCareJOS55034JOS54886JOS54855She has cooked up a very large pot of beans and rice to serve the students for lunch.

JOS54847Their houses are nestled among the trees and are hard to see clearly.JOS54849


Panama City Buildings

An interesting geologic fact is that Panama sits far enough East of the Ring of Fire that they don’t have the earthquake activity that the rest of Central America faces.  Because of that they can build taller buildings and they make the most of it.  Every ship that uses the Panama Canal has to pay a hefty price,  we’re talking in the hundreds of thousands of dollars each.  They don’t want to carry that with them so there is a large bank of just about every nation here.  It’s like they are in competition to build the biggest, tallest and most modern building.  And then all the folks that work in all those banks need to live somewhere so many more tall apartment towers are built.

JOS54711 And this is just a small cluster of them.

JOS54602Here’s another view along the waterfront.  It goes on like this for a long ways.JOS54709This just makes our buildings look so boring!

JOS53308Here’s a cool juxtaposition of new architecture and on old Gothic style cathedral.

3 more birds and a couple of crabs

Can you stand to see a few more birds?

The white egret was so interested in finding his dinner that he didn’t pay much attention to how close I was getting.  Good thing too because the long lens that we brought along has broken so this was only a 28 – 105 mm lens.  A real bird photographer would throw up their hands in despair.  Fortunately, birds are not the main feature of this trip so we’ll get along fine without that lens.JOS54323The toucan and the parrot are fine examples of the quality of digital photography today.  The detail of each feather just blows me away.

RASX3947 large JOS54245-large

Stand still on the dry sand of the upper beach near tree trunks or branches and just watch the small shells.  Suddenly, they start moving!  They are the homes of tiny hermit crabs.  I’ve seen them before in larger sizes but these guys were tiny as you can see compared to my fingers and a few grains of sand.  These little guys carry their home and protection along with them.  As they grow they just find a new, bigger shell to move into.  And yes, they tickle as they scurry across my hand.

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From Birth to Beauty – The life of a butterfly

We all know the story about how the ugly caterpillar spins a chrysalis and then emerges as a beautiful butterfly.  Now granted this wasn’t totally in the wild, but it was so interesting to watch the cocoon move around and then slowly the butterfly comes out and unfolds his glorious wings.  I think we are in the chrysalis now and in heaven we will unfold our glorious wings, too.

JOS54059 JOS54016And they just float away and make people smile in amazement at their beauty.

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Learning Patience

Some of God’s smallest creatures can be the best teachers.  We have always been fascinated by hummingbirds but photographing them can be a challenge.  The proper way to do it is with a long lens, a tripod and prefocus on a spot and wait for them to come into the frame.  Since this wasn’t primarily a hummingbird trip we didn’t have a tripod available so had to do it the hard way.  You need a shutter speed of at least 1/1000 of a second to stop their wings but sometimes I like a little blur to show the motion.

RASX3738 JOS53801 JOS53871_DxOHere’s a little dive bomber!


Portrait of 500 – No Problem

Here we are at the Panama Hotel in, guess where – Panama, photographing a conference called Cumbre.  It is an educational event held every 2 years in different countries of Central America.  This is the fourth one we have attended.


Nice place, isn’t it.  Here is the view from our room.


The important part of this picture is the balcony above the patio area at the far end of the pool.  Fortunately someone from the conference was in that room so we were able to use the balcony to make the image.  Some testing ahead of time with the Indra light and some cardboard boxes marking the corners of where we needed the people to stand led to creating this image in 10 minutes.  Its a little difficult to see in this size but there is light in all the eyes, it is perfectly balanced with the surrounding area and evenly lit from front to back.  From ground level the group was in the shape of a trapezoid – wider in back than in front. Using the elevation of the camera and it’s perspective, we ended up with a rectangular group.

Cumbre 2016 Group

Minimal processing in Photoshop and we had 525 8×10 prints ready to be handed out that afternoon.  The sun was playing games with us going in and out.  Even if it had been out at the minute we took this we could have balanced the lighting using the high speed sync capabilities of the flash.

We get hired for this job because we can create this image in a short amount of time.  Of course we left them with 400 other images of their event also but each attendee really values this picture.


Professional Photographers of America Western District Judging

Here our results from the Western District Judging for 2016.

These are Ralph’s 4 images.

Steam Powered Steel

PPA  score 84

Professional Photographers of Washington: Best Industrial / Advertising Image

Steam Powered Steel

Nothing Runs Like a John Deere

PPA  score 82

PPW Best Industrial Image

Nothing Runs Like A Deere

Red Is My Color

PPA Score 81

PPW Best Portrait of a Woman and Best Portrait in the show

Red Is My Color

Wheat Field Oasis

PPA Score 79

Wheat Field Oasis

These are Mary Jo’s 4 images

PPW Commercial Photographer of the Year for the highest total combined score.

Room To Grow

First place in the Professional Photographers of America Western District Illustrative/Commercial

PPA Score 97  First Place in the Commercial/Illustrative category

PPW Best PictorialRoom To Grow

Peruvian Lillies

PPA score 86

Peruvian Lillies 3 smaller

Winter Barn

PPA score 91

Winter Barn

Sunrise at Multnomah Falls

PPA score 84

Sunrise at Multnomah Falls

Free Shipping – great deal from Fine Art America

This is the company that prints my fine art work.  If you’ve ever thought about ordering something this is a great time to do it.  Just click on the link to go to my fine art webpage.  This is good only today, Nov 28, 2015.

It’s official… Fine Art America has the largest print-on-demand fulfillment network in the world.   We now have 14 fulfillment centers in 5 different countries!

To celebrate, we’re doing something that we’ve never done before.   On Saturday, November 28th, we’re offering FREE SHIPPING on every single product that we sell to any destination in the world!

Any product.   Any size.   Any destination in the world!

Do you want to ship 25 large framed prints to your aunt in Belgium?   Go for it.   It’s free… and the prints will be produced about 100 miles away at our production facility in the Netherlands!

This offer expires at midnight (New York time) on Saturday, November 28th.   You don’t need any special discount code.   Just place your order before the deadline, and shipping will be free!

Tell your friends… tell your family… tell your followers on Facebook and Twitter.   They can buy your products today… get FREE SHIPPING… and receive the products within a few days from our global fulfillment network!

Our latest book about Latin America ChildCare

Just finished publishing our latest book about Latin America ChildCare in El Salvador over on Blurb.

Here is a link to it.  link to book

It is also available for sale if you desire.

Latin America ChildCare is a ministry that partners with local professional educators to bring schools to poverty areas in Central and South America and in the Caribbean.  They facilitate matching Americans with local children who need sponsorship to be able to attend school.  Each sponsor is assigned a child who corresponds and shares their joy about being able to attend school. LACC is a christian organization so the children are also learning to love God and find that He cares about them.  Sponsors get to encourage them and see them mature and become upstanding citizens.

Headed For The Barn

We were part of a teaching team for an event sponsored by the Professional Photographers of Washington.  The workshop was held at Red Tail Canyon Ranch near Leavenworth, Washington.  After the barrel racing and portrait session, the riders headed down the dusty road to take care of their horses.  I had some fun with this image applying a painterly look.


Tulip Festival Time Is Coming

Are you ready for Spring?  It’s been a very long winter in many parts of the country and many folks just need a visual reminder that Spring is on the way.

Here’s an image from the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival.

Is it a photograph? Is it a painting? Yes and yes; it is both. Tulip Farm started life as a photograph and during an encounter with a computer experienced a digital manipulation turning it into computer art. It is a very abstract and stylized interpretation of the beauty of the tulip festival in La Connor, Washington. What a wonderful thing to raise a crop that brings beauty and joy both now and in the future for those who purchase bulbs and plant them for next year.

tulip farm digital art by Mary Jo Allen

Click on the image to visit where it and many others are available for purchase.



An unexpected Red Canoe

Eight Mile lake is a small alpine lake in Washington state reachable only via a hiking trail. That’s why I was so surprised to see this red canoe on the shore of the lake. I was very happy to see it as it added just the splash of color needed for this composition. Yes, this image started out life as a photograph but I’ve added some impressionistic digital painting techniques and a canvas texture to make something entirely new.

Seattle Seahawks City Night Lights

Seattle Seahawks City NightThere are several fun facts about this image.  Like the previous image it is made of more than one image but in a totally different way from stitching a panorama.

First of all this is the week before Superbowl and the Seahawks football team is playing in it.  We’ve waited so many years for a great team that the whole city is caught up in the drama… even the people who put the lights on the Space Needle and atop the Columbia Tower.  So we have a blue needle with a rave green top.  Pretty cool!

The making of this image is interesting, too.  Of course this is taken from Kerry Park on Queen Anne.  It is made from two images:  one taken before dark so Mt Rainier and the blue sky show up and one taken well after dark when the city lights are ablaze.  Don’t move the tripod between the two exposures.  Combining the two images is embarrassingly simple.  First drag the darker image over the lighter one in Photoshop.  Select both layers in the layers palette and go to edit > align layers to make sure everything matches up.  Now select only the top layer and change the blending mode to lighten.  The city lights and Mt Rainier from the lighter layer will pop through into the darker and there it is.  It can be lots of fun to experiment with the various blending modes.

Go Hawks!

Seattle Sunset Panorama

Seattle-Sunset-PanoramaThis panorama was stitched together from 3 separate images.

Each image was first optimized in Adobe Camera Raw and then opened and stitched in Photoshop.  After the stitching a couple more quick adjustments in Photoshop completed the final image.  The real secret to a photograph like this is the time of day.  The light from the sunset coming in at a low angle gives depth and dimension to the buildings.

In the next post I will show what happens later in the evening as the sky turns dark and the lights in the buildings appear.

Mt Rainier Winter Panorama

Mt-Rainier-Winter-PanoramaOn a rare clear day in December Mt Rainier stands out against a mostly blue sky. The white snow and shadows cast by the late afternoon sun create an iconic view of the snow capped mountain in Washington state.  Mt Rainier National Park is located just an hour and a half from Seattle and yet the serenity of the snow capped peak seems like a million miles away from civilization.  This is a wonderful panorama that would be perfect over the mantle or in the workplace.

Mt Rainier Winter Panorama

Class of 2015 Reps

Welcome to the class of 2015.  It’s never too early to be thinking about your senior pictures.

We have some wonderful new products this year.

Here is one of our Reps.  You will be seeing her in our mailings this summer.