30 Days of Creativity: Day 11

Bata Shoe Museum

ISO 800, 18mm, f 6.3, 1/50s

The Bata Shoe Museum is located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  This image was taken from the top floor looking down the stairwell, to the bottom floor where you see shoes scattered about.  They have a variety of unique shoes they keep in that central area for visitors to try on for fun.  I tried taking some pictures down there but the light is terrible for any shots without flash and you aren’t allowed to use flash in the museum.  So with this shot, I needed to tweek the lighting a little in order to bring out that bottom floor.  I like the image of the lady walking as it adds interest to the shot in my opinion.

However, the blank wall on the right was bothering me and I thought it needed something in order to balance the image.  So I added the title Bata Shoe Museum in the font Copperplate using Photoshop Elements®.  I like the final product.  I think it looks a little like a postcard. 😉

At the time of my visit, they had a great exhibit about shoes in the 1920s.  There were some really wild shoes during that time period, most of which could only be afforded by the rich.  I took lots of pictures (I love 1920’s period clothing) but all of the shoes were behind glass.  Unfortunately, I didn’t use a polarization filter to reduce the reflections for two reasons; first because I would have lost an f-stop of light in already dim lighting conditions, but more importantly because I didn’t think of it.  😦  So for this next image, I chose one that wouldn’t suffer as much from the lighting conditions.

ISO 400, 18mm, f 3.5, 1/10s

There are still reflections, but by turning the image black and white, I was able to accentuate the rhinestones and the style of the shoe without losing any of the color.  I made several adjustments to the exposure and added a hint of vignetting at the corners using Adobe’s Lightroom®.  These changes also helped to reduce the reflections from the glass.  Oh, and in case you are curious, the shoe in the background is gold.

If you are ever in Toronto and find yourself with a couple of hours to spare, check out the Bata Shoe Museum.  It’s a unique museum and worth a little bit of your time. 🙂

© Manic Monday (manicmonday123) 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Manic Monday (manicmonday123) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Memorial Day

Sometimes I think Americans forget what Memorial Day is all about. For so many of us, it’s about barbeques, pool parties, beer, and an excuse for fireworks. It’s not about any of those things. It’s about remembering everyone who died for our country. Their sacrifice for our freedom.

I noticed that the facebook chatter in my circle of friends this weekend was suspiciously devoid of any mention of Memorial Day or its meaning. I did a few searches and snagged a few pictures for this blog entry, but mostly things have been quiet. Sadly, we’re too busy with our barbeques and other plans to give it much thought.

Remembrance Day is celebrated in other parts of the world (Canada, Australia, UK, and others) on November 11, which corresponds to the American Veterans Day. But Veterans Day is not the same as Memorial Day. Memorial Day was created to honor men and women who died in service of the US Armed Forces. Veteran’s day is to honor everyone who is serving or who has served in the US Military. Veteran’s day occurs on the same date as Remembrance Day, which may be why there is such confusion between Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

While Remembrance Day dates back to WW I, the idea of Memorial Day dates back to the US Civil War. Both the North and the South had separate post-Civil War memorial days which were later united to become a single date. In the 20th century this was extended to include those who died in the Armed Services for all wars and became Memorial Day as we know it now.

Decorated Graves at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day

The first national observance of Memorial Day was May 30th, 1868. Flowers were placed on the grave markers for both Northern and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. The Northern states called it “Decoration Day” in observance of the tradition of decorating grave markers of fallen soldiers. However, the Southern states had already established a Confederate Memorial Day to honor their fallen soldiers as early as 1866. The Confederate Memorial Days were originally celebrated at different times of the year for each state, but they became unified by the end of WW I. The symbol of the poppy came about as a result of WW I as well. (I think I will save that story for Veterans/Remembrance Day.)

If you are an American reading this, I hope you can take a moment to sit back, close your eyes and give thanks to all the soldiers who have died in the service of this country.

{References: Wikipedia and Memorial Day History}

© Manic Monday (manicmonday123) 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Manic Monday (manicmonday123) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

30 Days of Creativity: Day 10

Street Painter

ISO 100, 35mm, f 5.6, 1/80s

We met this fellow while walking along the streets of Toronto last year.  He was painting the sidewalk and asking for donations towards a plane ticket to Vancouver.  He wanted to try his luck out there.

As far as the treatment of this photo goes, I can’t take much credit.  I applied a preset in Lightroom® called Creative Catalyst 19 that I picked up somewhere on the internet.  It changes the color balance, emphasizing the blues, adjusts the contrast and increases the exposure to give that washed, faded color look.  Intense sharpening and slight vignetting are also used by the preset.  I liked the result so much that I left it as is, which is rare for me. I have to confess, all I really can take credit for is the composition, but I’m pretty proud of that.  I wasn’t sure the photo was worth saving until I cropped it.  I’m glad I did because I really like the finished product.

© Manic Monday (manicmonday123) 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Manic Monday (manicmonday123) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Finally caught a break…

COBRA is finally in place! After a third phone call, I spoke to someone who gave me more new information, but helped me straighten it all out. Turns out, you can’t make a payment if you are set up for direct deposit. So the nice fellow who helped me yesterday removed the direct deposit, allowed me to pay for one month with a credit card, then processed a rush with the insurance companies so that I am now covered and back covered. Additionally, my check was processed as well, which catches me up through the end of June. The same nice fellow who helped me yesterday also called me back today to tell me that everything was set up. I picked up my Paxil today and only had to spend $1.25 instead of $33 for it. *whew!* Finally!!

This week has been a little crazy, but hopefully things are settling down now. I wrote about the incident with my niece in Runaway and Runaway Part II.  She seems to be herself now, but I will track her facebook statuses more carefully from now on.  They seem to be a good indication of how things are going with her.  She doesn’t seem inclined to talk to me, and I think it’s because she is afraid that I will tell her what she doesn’t want to hear: partying is bad for her. I know how she feels.  But you have to make choices in life and some of those are related to your health.  Others are related to your career and if she keeps this drinking and partying up she won’t have the career she wants.  It’s hard to get through school with a science degree.  It’s harder to get through school with a science degree and good grades, even if you are smart.  It takes a lot of work.  She’ll tell me that she knows and is prepared, but her behavior speaks to the opposite.  There’s a big difference between a beer or two on a Friday night and being too drunk to walk without falling down.  Maybe I sound like a stick in the mud, but I’ve been where she is and I know it doesn’t work.

On to other news… I got called a BFF this week! 🙂  I’ve never been called a BFF before.  I was out shopping with a friend of mine on Wednesday, and we were looking at pillows for her new couch.  I picked up a cute one that had BFF embroidered on it and that’s when she said I was her BFF.  It took a few moments before it sunk in, and I said it back.  (It’s sorta like the L-bomb, isn’t it?)  I think a million things went through my head in those few moments.  First, I’ve always thought of myself as a loner inside.  My friendships aren’t fake, but they are limited.  For example, this friend doesn’t know I am bipolar.  She probably never will.  Which is another part of the reason why I hesitated.  Can I call someone a best friend if I can’t tell them I am bipolar?  I probably could, but I don’t want to.  You see, she is a police officer.  And I don’t want her thinking that someday she might have to be the one sitting next to me while I’m handcuffed to a chair awaiting a psych eval.  If the situation ever warrants it, I would tell her, but there’s no need to blurt it out just because we’ve determined we are BFFs.  Oh, and lastly?  I never thought I was cool enough to be called a BFF.  😉

That rounds out most of this week.  I am so happy to have insurance coverage!  And I am so excited to be called a BFF!  (I feel cool now.)  Next up – I need a job!  In the meantime, I hope everyone has a great weekend!


Runaway Part II

A big THANK YOU to everyone for their help on my post Runaway.  This post is followup to that one and I wish I could say everything is OK now, but honestly, I’m no longer in the loop.  My sister sees her daughter as just in one of her moods, and my niece doesn’t want to talk to me right now.  But my last conversation with her was frightening.

I am going to start referring to my niece as Persephone, representing both her dual nature (bipolar) and particularly the darker side of schizophrenia.  I’ve also decided to refer to my sister as Hera, not only because she is a mother, but she can also be a selfish bitch.  Names established, I will get back to the story.

Conversations with Persephone went from strange to stranger the night that I posted Runaway.  She was referring to herself in the third person saying that Persephone is lost.  Imagine my shock, on facebook chat, when I asked who I was talking to and she gave me a new name.  (I will call this second personality Proserpina, not for personality reasons but because she is the Roman equivalent of Persephone.)  I was speechless.  Meanwhile, after hours of cajoling, DH convinced Persephone/Proserpina to call me.  It was like talking to a stranger.  Proserpina spoke differently – in monotone, devoid of interest yet with a touch of anger by some of my questions.  She said she takes over when the emotional turmoil is too great for Persephone to handle.  Whether this is a true manifestation of Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) or not, I cannot say as I have no real experience with this illness.  Proserpina believes this situation to be a manifestation of her (their?) schizophrenia.

She said that Persephone will have no memory of what has occurred while Proserpina is in charge.  Her purpose is to keep Persephone’s body from dying, although she made it quite clear that she could hurt (but not kill) the body if she chose to do so.  She is supposed to be in charge until Persephone returns, but also to help “find” her, whatever that means.  Proserpina told me that when my niece “blacked out” while driving home, it was she who took over to keep Persephone from driving off the road and committing suicide.  When I asked if she was Persephone’s protector, the touch of anger shone through the mostly monotone speech.  This is when she informed me that she could hurt this body if she chose to but she could not destroy it because it did not belong to her.  Proserpina told me that she intended to leave for a few days, going camping in the woods in order to “find” Persephone.  Proserpina said that the switch lasts typically from 12-24hrs, but it had already been 24hrs since the switch by the time I talked to her.  To say that I am worried, is putting it mildly.

Update:  I just received an answer to my text and Persephone said the last couple of days are a blur.  Her memory is fragmented over the past few days and she feels as though what she does remember doesn’t belong to her.  She isn’t concerned, she thinks maybe she was on a drinking binge.  Now what do I do?  Is it my place to tell her about this conversation with Proserpina?  How do I convince her to take her drinking, partying, and medications more seriously?  Next time, things might not end so well.


© Manic Monday (manicmonday123) 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Manic Monday (manicmonday123) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


I need your help. I need your advice. My niece (age 23) is running away from home. She is schizophrenic and bipolar I. She is off her meds and driving a car that isn’t very road worthy. She won’t talk to me or her mother, but most likely this is over a boy. She lives 1800 miles away from me. How can I help her?

She told her mother that she doesn’t remember her drive home last night and that the “darkness” is coming back so she must be on the verge of a psychotic break. She has audio and visual hallucinations. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what I can do.

Please, if anyone has any advice, I would like to hear it.

Thank you.

30 Days of Creativity: Day 9


It’s that time a year again, when Renaissance Fairs across the country come alive with jousts, swordplay, maypoles, and costumes galore.  I recently attended one of these fairs and took some photos to share with everyone for today’s 30 Days of Creativity post.  Originally I planned to post the pictures only, as the act of taking the photo itself abounds with creativity.  But I found I just can’t leave editing out of it when I get an idea for a picture in my head.  So I am sharing with you some of the photos I took and edited.

ISO 100, 18mm, f 11, 1/60s

This first capture is of a bagpiper and his drummer playing outside the Chapel of the Holy Grail. (I didn’t make up the name.)  I thought the original image needed a little something so after I cropped it down to size, I turned it sepia and added a bit of grain to give it an old-time feel.  I realize we are centuries before the invention of the camera and film, but I like the effect.


ISO 200, 28mm, f 5.6, 1/320s

What would a Renaissance Fair be without a joust?  A poor imitation, indeed.  Good versus evil dueling it out in the lists, and the final battle is usually to the death.  Jousters are very skilled and travel from fair to fair (as do vendors and other acts) riding their well-trained horses into combat.  I recently saw a reality competition show on television featuring jousting.  Who would have thought it to be such a popular sport in the 21st century?

As for the details, this image was captured as our evil knight made his rounds greeting guests lined up to watch the show.  The color original was still a pretty good shot, but I started playing with presets in Lightroom® and hit upon one I don’t often use that removes all color except for red.  I had to go back through with a brush to remove background red (for example, from spectators’ clothes and skin) by de-saturating all colors and painting the areas where I wanted to remove color.  (The preset is made by desaturing all colors except red.)  Since his costume is mostly red (the little skulls also hinting that he is the bad guy) this gives a saturated contrast to the image.  I did several adjustments to the original before turning the image black/white/red, which does improve the quality of the final product despite the B&W nature of the final photograph.  (That’s a blog post in and of itself.)


ISO 200, 50mm, f 5.6, 1/200s

No Renaissance fair is complete without some choreographed stage-fighting.  I didn’t do much editing to this image other than to crop it down to size, punch up the colors and add a little sharpening.  The creativity in this one is solely from capturing the shot.  And that, my friends, is where it all begins.


ISO 100, 18mm, f 7.1, 1/200s

Lastly, what every fair needs is a little funnel cake.  I took a picture of mine because it reminded me of a Celtic knot.  Out of period but oh so yummy!  Besides, I ate my turkey leg first. 😉

So there is this year’s adventure at Faire (proper old-world spelling for those in the know).  I hope you have enjoyed my little photo trip and inspired you to go to see your local (or even semi-local) Faire this year.



© Manic Monday (manicmonday123) 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Manic Monday (manicmonday123) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.