about More Musing

We are focusing on building a community, bringing the Mortal Muses photographers together, and making the world a bit smaller. On this page, you will find mission: MUSE, muse university and special features.

Monday, November 29, 2010

where i live - mendocino, california, usa

mission: MUSE - "where i live"
by guest muse jennifer

 My Muse is Mendocino

I'm so inspired by the water. I live at the shore, and I wouldn't have it any other way. From day to day the ocean changes so much. Fierce and powerful at times, calm and relaxing other days. One of my favorite things to do is to watch people and critters interact with this beautiful body of water. Who can resist  the charm of children building sandcastles, otters frolicking in the waves, or ducks gliding on glassy ponds. Yes, I love the water, and this amazing place that I live. Mendocino County, in Northern California, suits me. I've lived here for about nine years, but my romance with the area began long before that. Whenever I had the chance, I would escape, and come here, to recharge my battery. To soak in the inspiration that fills me when I sit and watch the waves crashing.

I sometimes toy with the idea of moving away from this place, but when I do, I always dream of another  place by the water. It's part of me now, and I know I can't be happy if I'm separated from it.

 ~Why do we love the sea? It is because it has some potent power to make us think things we like to think.    Robert Henri

Thank you for visiting where I live. Please feel free to visit my blog to learn more about my life in California and my etsy shop to see more of my photography.

Jennifer of Gilding Lilies


We would love to see where you live.  If you would like to join in, send an email to mortalmuses [at] yahoo.com.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

we are thankful

For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson



Thank you for joining us for the first "We Are Thankful" blog hop.  We invite you to link up and share with us your musings on the day, photos, a favorite holiday recipe, & family traditions.  For our international muses and guests, we look forward to hearing about what you are thankful for this Autumn. 

Make sure to grab the Linky code and add it to your own blog.  We will be leaving the Linky open for the entire weekend so you will have time to link up and visit everyone in the muse community.  If you do not have a blog, you need not be excluded.  Link up to a photo on flickr that represents your day and share with us a few words in the description field.  We look forward to visiting with you and your families on this thankful day.

For those that link up, we have a wonderful giveaway gift.  A Lomographic Holga Starter Kit by Lomography.  We will randomly select one lucky winner on Sunday Night and announce it on the blog on Monday.  You may also find some lovely giveaway gifts on our personal blogs.  Hop on over and take a peek.

Take a few moments to share some love with Arin and Jackie, two of the wonderful photographers from the Mortal Muses flickr pool, whose gorgeous photos I selected for this special post. ♥ tam

Thank you for your support and for musing with us.

xo - Tammy, Kat, Suki, Mosey, Lucy, Maureen, Kirstin, April and Michel

w i n d o w s

What is a blog hop? - A blog hop is a linky list that is SHARED ON MULTIPLE BLOGS.  When several blogs put the same linky list code on their blog, the exact same list appears on each blog.  Blog visitors can submit their entries on any blog that contains the list.  The entries will appear on each blog where the list resides.  Blog readers see the same list on each blog, and can "HOP" from blog to blog seeing the same list of links to follow: BLOG HOP!

what inspires you? - christy

mission: MUSE - "what inspires you?"
by guest muse christy


About a year ago I finally broke down and got an iPhone. I bought it primarily because I truly needed a new cell phone and also, I admit, because I thought it was time to see what the fuss was all about. I intended to use it to call people (duh, it's a phone, right?), to access my email on the go and, you know, to look up anything, anytime, anywhere.  What could be more convenient than that?

The iPhone's built in camera was the last thing on my mind. Until I acquired my first camera app.

My love affair with iPhoneography has inspired me in ways I never imagined. I now travel through life with a more observant eye because subconsciously I know that I have a camera with me at all times. I am inspired by the beauty in everyday things and moments that before might have passed me by unnoticed. A fire hydrant, a manhole cover, a tree branch, or a piece of newspaper blown onto the sidewalk after a rainstorm...

{app: Hipstamatic; lens: Helga Viking; film: Blackeys B&W}
My iPhone hasn't replaced my regular camera.  And I know many of you are not convinced of the power of the iPhone, viewing it merely as a "cheap artsy thrill".  That's OK, you don't have to like it, but perhaps you'll allow me to share with you a few of my favorite things about iPhoneography...

1. My iPhone is always there for me.  It's small and it's always in my bag.  I never have to miss a moment because I don't have my camera with me.  I now take more photos of the little things that I might not have bothered to pull out my big clunky digital to capture even if I had it with me.  Like this view of Central Park out the window of a building where I had a meeting this morning...

{app: Hipstamatic; lens: Helga Viking; film: Ina's 1969}
2.  I can be more spontaneous.  The iPhone is less intrusive and allows me to take photos that are more "in the moment".  There is no need to fumble around with camera settings, lighting and focus.  I see something interesting (like this woman on the subway platform) and it's just a swipe and tap of the screen and I'm making memories before the next train arrives and obscures my view...

{app: PS Mobile; effect: Vignette Blur}
3. It's back to basics.  I feel free and playful when taking photos with my phone.  Expectations are lower when it's "just a camera phone" and I tend to experiment more because I put less pressure on myself to be so perfect.  I took a bunch of photos of the George Washington Bridge one day with my digital camera and at the last moment snapped this shot with my phone, aiming more at the clouds than the bridge for something different.  It turned out to be my favorite image of the bunch...

{app: Lo-mob; effect: Photocard Three}
4. I can be a little sneaky. One of my favorite things about iPhoneography is the element of surprise.  If you come to New York City beware of my tendency to take random photos of strangers, especially on the subway.  I may look like I am reading my email, but I am really taking your photo...

{app: Lo-mob; effect: 6x6 TtV Virage}
5. I don't need no stinkin' photoshop.   I don't have a fancy editing program.  Of course I WANT one, but right now it's not in the cards.  With the iPhone I can still be creative---both randomly and deliberately.  Some apps will unpredictably blur, saturate or discolor an image, while with others I can control the processing of a photo to give it a little bit of drama, a vintage texture, a light leak or an interesting border.  I like to call it my point and shoot with attitude.

{app: Format126; effect: LOFI}
6. I can share my photos on the go.  If you are reading this, you are likely a blogger, or at least an obsessive lurker.  We all get inspiration from each other's blogs and collectives like Mortal Muses and flickr, right?  

Well, there are two great sites that I use to instantly share my iPhone images and, more importantly, to see what my fellow camera phone junkies are up to.  I am constantly inspired to push the boundaries when I see what others are creating "just" with their phones.  With my eye'em  and posterous accounts, I can post my photos directly from my phone and immediately share a moment with the press of a button.  I've been known to waste spend some serious time on eye'em watching the live stream of photos being posted from around the world.  You can find some truly amazing images there.
Do you find inspiration in your camera phone?  If you didn't before today, I hope my post will at least get you musing about the endless possibilities. Thanks for letting me share with you today.  Now get out there and take a picture of the first thing you see...even if it's a puddle...

{app: Format126; effect: ColorPlus}
Until next time!
Christy of Urban Muser


"what inspires you?" is the the second mission of mission: MUSE series.
After you submit a "where i live" post, you may submit an entry to mortalmuses {at} yahoo.com.

Monday, November 22, 2010

where i live - manayunk, pennsylvania, usa

mission: MUSE - "where i live"
by guest muse holly

Manayunk is a neighborhood in the Northwest city limits of Philadelphia, and I’ve been living here in between travels for the past 12 years. Originally a mill town built up a hill, Manayunk is an eclectic mix of renovated warehouses and row homes intermixed with new construction, imposing power lines, old railway paths and corner parks.

I live in a 107 year old worker home that is big on charm even if it is a little quirky. Like how there isn’t a straight line in the whole house. Or how the whole block seems to be sinking into the ground! Here is the view down my street.

Living in a neighborhood that is over 100 years old means there are many nooks and crannies to explore. You never know what might be around the corner.

When I first decided to move here, I was drawn to the idea of having Fairmount Park, the largest intercity park system in the United States, at my fingertips. I’m just a five minute walk to the historic Manayunk Canal with its bike and walking path connecting Center City Philadelphia all the way out to Valley Forge National Park. We can often be found here walking our dog Major.

Although we live in an urban setting, one of the things I love most about my neighborhood is the ability to have a garden and to grow flowers, veggies and herbs! I get to indulge my green thumb for three seasons out of the year, and dream about what to plant next all winter long.

In fact, in the summertime, our garden is a little paradise and an outdoor extension of our home.

I also love that from my front doorstep, Main Street is only a short walk away. I can go shopping, get a cup of coffee or go grab a bite to eat.

After all Manayunk technically means “the place one goes to drink.” And with over 30 restaurants and bars, you can be sure there is a lot of drinking to be had, although I think watering their horses is what the original natives had in mind!

I hope you’ve enjoyed the tour around my neighborhood. Thank you for stopping by to visit. Cheers!

Holly- soupatraveler on flickr


We would love to see where you live.  If you would like to join in, send an email to mortalmuses [at] yahoo.com.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

muse university - shoot the moon

shoot the moon
by guest Barbara of Among the Saguaros

Ah, the moon.  Mankind has been endlessly fascinated with it.  Photographers always want to capture it.  It can be a frustrating process.  What we see, often isn’t what we capture.  Normal rules of getting a good exposure just don’t apply.   It can be difficult to get an accurate meter reading when you are metering on a very bright object in a very dark sky.  I finally gave up metering and just started experimenting.  Your equipment, your location, your sky conditions will all play into getting a good shot.

Here are a few tips to help make that process a little easier:

1. Make sure your flash is off.  If you don’t know how to turn it off, check your manual.

2. Use a tripod.  Your exposures are apt to be long ones and you won’t be able to handhold your camera without some camera shake.  If you don’t have a tripod, use any flat, steady surface, like the top of your car or the top of a wall.  Don’t forget that long exposures can drain batteries more quickly so make sure your battery is fully charged or you have a back up.

3. If you have a filter on your lens, take it off.   A filter may cause a ghosting effect.

4. Use the longest focal length you have.  In most cases, the bigger you can make the moon look, the better.  These shots were taken with focal lengths of 150mm (shots that included more scenery) to 400mm.

5. If you are comfortable shooting in manual, do so. The higher the f/stop, the sharper your photo will be.

6. Use manual focus, if needed (there is a switch on the side of your lens to turn the auto focus off).  Some lenses really have to hunt in low light and may not be able grab a good focus.  Since the moon is so far away, you will be able to set your lens on infinity and get a sharp focus.

7.  Bracket your exposures.  It is possible to over or underexpose by more than two stops by shooting manually.  I recommend starting with your meter reading and underexposing from there.  I usually shoot at -1/2 stop intervals to ensure that I get exactly what I want.

8.  Use the lowest ISO possible, especially if your camera has noise issues.

Remember that it doesn’t have to be in the middle of the night when you shoot the moon.  It is often up early in the morning or before it is quite dark.   During the blue hour (more info here), the moon can look quite dramatic.

You can see the drama of the blue sky but the moon has little detail and looks small in the sky.  Many (probably most) of the photos you see in magazines that have the huge moon in a cityscape are actually two photos put together either as a double exposure (using film) or in Photoshop (using digital).  It is very difficult (and often impossible) to get a crisp edge and proper exposure on the moon while getting the proper exposure on a building.  For me, I don’t like putting together photos like this.  I’d rather get what I get.  To show you a hastily put together example, here is the moon from my first photo with the picture above.

This shot was exposed for the scenery.  It was taken near dusk.  The moon is sharp but over exposed.  A graduated neutral density filter (and lots of practice) can help with this problem.  For more information go here.

This was taken right before sunrise in January.  The moon is in the western sky and the light just starting behind me in the east.  The mountains and cactus are in silhouette.  If I had exposed for the scenery, the moon would have been overexposed with no detail.

This was the view a bit later with a wider look, exposing more for the scenery than the moon.

This image was taken at night.  The variety of the colors lit by the moon in the clouds drew my eye.

This shot was taken with the moon purposely over in the corner like this so I would have room for text.  I have used this image for cards, changing the text to fit the recipient.

For more information of moonrise and set times, these sites are helpful:

Remember the key to shooting the moon is experimentation.  Bracketing is key.  Try different exposures.  Most importantly, have fun!


A big thank you to our guest Barbara of Among the Saguaros for this wonderful article!

Join us every weekend for a new muse university post! 
If you would like to provide a post for this series, please contact kat [at] kateyeview.com

Friday, November 19, 2010

where i live - baltimore, md, usa

mission: MUSE - "where i live"
by guest muse bridget

My husband and I have lived many places--first in sunny San Diego, college in rural Idaho, then on the Kansas prairie, and in the high deserts of Arizona.  However, when we had a chance to move to Maryland to a small, quiet, woodsy suburb of Baltimore, I knew I was in familiar country.

From where we live its easy for my husband to commute, we are close the area where I grew up in Southern Pennsylvania, and are also near my family who resides in Philadelphia.  There is a permanence and familiarity here that I love--the definitive seasons, the bright foliage in autumn, the solid-looking older homes and buildings.  We chose this area for that established feeling--our home like many in the area is almost 90 years old, in contrast to other parts of Maryland with very new construction.  The neighborhood is quiet and peaceful, with many longtime residents mixed in with families and children.  I love providing that sense of security for our six children, and I hope they develop fond memories of the ambiance here.

Being in close proximity to the Chesapeake Bay, the water influences much of the leisure activities and cuisine in this part of Maryland.  Seafood and recreation on the Chesepeake are definately parts of the culture here, and during the right times of the year steamed crabs and lump crab cakes are a local obsession.   Besides the shopping district and docks in the Inner Harbor in Baltimore, there are many smaller cities and towns on the coasts and islands in the bay.

Further inland, the local area outside Baltimore is heavily forested with a mix of everything from sprawling suburbs to communities dating from the mid eighteenth century.  One local landmark that I enjoy visiting is Ellicott City, which features lovely stone construction dating from its heyday as a railway hub for the Baltimore and Ohio Railway (B & O).  I love the details on these buildings; rows of solid and well maintained homes and businesses possessed of a charm that more modern buildings just cannot replicate.

There are many narrow alleys and winding streets, which seems like another country in comparison to the shopping malls and four lane highways a few miles away on the Washington-Baltimore corridor.   Coming here reminds me of an earlier, less hectic time, and is just one example of the beautiful architecture that make interesting subjects on weekend outings.

Living here is an interesting mix of these factors--modern conveniences a few minutes in any direction, the wonderful old neighborhoods and great old architecture, and the culinary and recreational opportunities created by the Chesapeake.   This wide variation also creates a diverse environment to make memories for my family, and lots of great subjects to shoot!

Thanks for visiting us where I live.  Please stop by my blog anytime.

Bridget of  "and miles to go before we sleep."


We would love to see where you live. If you would like to join in, send an email to mortalmuses [at] yahoo.com.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

what inspires you? - marty

mission: MUSE - "what inspires you?"
by guest muse marty

What inspires me? An easier question to answer might just be what doesn’t? Inspiration can be found in something as simple as the produce I buy.

It’s a tsunami of color left over from my children’s finger painting.


It’s the curl and bounce of a twig


Or the sweeping softness of a flower takes the shape of a dancer’s skirt.

The Dancer

Inspiration came come just by feeding the birds.

Bird Song

It’s the joy and laughter of friends.

The world around me is a conglomerate of sensory information that is at times subtle and delicate and easily missed. Other times it's an assault upon my senses that demands expression. It's calm and boisterous. By turns soothing and driving. It's what is visible and unseen...the revealed and the hidden.
Inspiration is a third eye. It lets us see beauty in the common place. It comes from within…and from without. It’s the gift we give each other.


"what inspires you?" is the the second mission of mission: MUSE series.
After you submit a "where i live" post, you may submit an entry to mortalmuses {at} yahoo.com.

Monday, November 15, 2010

where i live - new york, usa

mission: MUSE - "where i live"
by muse april

The Seasons Where I Live

I live about 20 minutes north of Albany NY.  My darling little red head family and I have lived here for over 3 years.  Sadly I don't know too much about the area; I have been busily, sleepily, entertaining my two small children.  So instead of enriching you with all the wonderful history that I know surrounds me I am going to share some pictures of the seasons, all literally with in walking distance of my house.  :)

Unfortunately winter lasts for a long time up here in upstate NY.  Lots of snow, freezing rain and coooold temperatures.  A couple of years ago there was a huge ice storm that left some people with out power for over a week.  Amazingly one of our friends had power and let us stay with them for a few days.  I have never been so cold waiting in my house for the power to come back on, plus I was newly pregnant and sick! with my now 16 month old daughter.  Being cold and sick there was no way I was going outside to take pictures, which is unfortunate because the world is really beautiful covered in ice.  It looked like everything outside was made of glass!

March-April is much milder but muddy.  I feel like an antsy toddler waiting for any signs of spring.  Finally spring comes running fast and the world literally transforms before my eyes.

One of my favorite parts of spring is planting my garden.  I tend it like one of my children and I get so giddy watching yummy veggies and herbs grow.

Spring comes and goes and the fun warm, sometimes hot and humid summer arrives.  For me dandelions officially welcome the beginning of summer sprinkling the world of green with a wonderful sea of yellow.  I try to see the beauty in the weedy flowers because hubby and I do a terrible job of fertilizing.

Oh, and don't forget the clover!

Even though I hate to see summer leave, autumn is my favorite season here in NY.  I love the warm days and cool nights, apple and pumpkin picking, colorful leaves, harvesting the garden, sweaters and apple cider donuts.  Plus I can't help how cute my red headed family looks in the warm autumn tones!

Now the cold is returning, but that in itself brings a new sense of excitement.  It snowed for the first time a couple of days ago and the kids were so happy.  So I am going to suck it up and enjoy this winter as I anticipate the return of spring. :)

Thank you for visiting where I live.

April :)  of april's 365


We would love to see where you live.  If you would like to join in, send an email to mortalmuses [at] yahoo.com.