169 Photos - Oct 23, 2011
Photo: Photo: Photo: Memorial Bridge, Washington, DCPhoto: We put up the tree!

Yes, we celebrate Christmas even though we are atheists. I love the idea of brightening up a cold dark winter with festive colors. I also love traditional Christmas music because it puts me into a peaceful, reflective mood. Heck, I even enjoy going to Catholic mass because of the tones of joy during the winter season. The religious and non-religious alike both have the same desire to bond and share joy with one another during cold, dark times.

My Jewish friends get to celebrate Chanukah starting on the 20th this year, much later than last year. I always remember it being nice as a child when so many people were celebrating holidays at the same time. What about everyone else? Do you have a winter holiday tradition even though you are not religious or of another religion?

#WorldwideChristmasAlbum #Christmas #HappyHolidaysPhoto: I am enjoying some litigation training this week! I hope that you learned new things today, too! Tell me about them!

Below is another one of my pictures of Arizona from my January trip. Enjoy!Photo: Virginia Beach, VA at sunrisePhoto: Photo: National HarborPhoto: I have been playing with tone curves. So fun! :-) I should try to learn what I am doing, but I am having a lot of fun experimenting.
Do you know how tone curves work? Please share!Photo: Sunrises and sunsets yield more color than we see at any other time of day, and yet they are available in every place on earth no matter the squalor or the urbanization. True, they are no bird of paradise, but where else can so many people have such luxury?Photo: Sedona, Arizona, taken from Church on the Hill.Photo: I was happy to have my camera with me this morning. The thought that I could take a photo if I happened to be inclined made me look up at some of the nice architecture that I pass on my way to work. Looking up is not very natural in a crowed street, so I got a few funny looks before I pulled my camera out.

This is an old office building downtown. One light was turned on already (at the bottom), which might seem distracting to include, but I thought that it was more interesting as a building in use than as something lifeless, especially in front of the overcast sky.Photo: DC PhotowalkPhoto: What are your thoughts on genuineness in photography? +Trey Ratcliff's recent post (goo.gl/7pdyz) got me thinking: is there some inherent morality to be found in realism, or does it just make the art different? To me, genuineness is an important part of the art of photography, and a very altered image turns photography into an art that must be experienced in a very different way (though makes it no less valid as a different form of art and no less moral). We love dramatic changes because it is different than what can we can experience with our own eyes, but it is only interesting if some part of our mind finds it real, whether through metaphor for abstracts or by meeting at least some of our expectations of the way the world works for photography. I believe that the most moving photography is like a good sci-fi novel. It pushes right up to the edge of what you think is real, so that all the while you can convince yourself of its truthfulness. Put a moon over a mountain where the light isn't met just so, and it shatters the delicate belief of realism. When I view photography, realism is important to me, because the primary source of my enjoyment in viewing it is this "wanting" of the experience. I want to see the colors that clearly with my own eyes, I want to feel the breeze that my memory is filling into the experience. Viewing something that invites my memory to fill in the gaps is an entirely different feeling than viewing something that I cannot accept as true and therefore stop imagining-- it becomes as cold and as clinical as colors on a page, just as text without words invites no feeling.

What do you think? Is realism in photography (1) better or (2) just a different way of making art?Photo: Photo: Cherry Blossoms in Washington, D.C., Spring.
#PhotoPlusExtractPhoto: Photo: Photo: I love the color of ripening chili peppers. My mom keeps these in her garden for decoration.Photo: Walking into my favorite forest this morning, where the leaves have fallen from many of the trees, I felt larger than before. The leaves no longer cover the sky or enclose the path. All paths are open between the bare branches. But, somewhere, there was a density yet in the winter-- a small patch of grass still thinks itself very large.Photo: George Washington Parkway, Washington, DCPhoto: George Washington Parkway, Washington, DCPhoto: Photo: Photo: Photo: My cat, Jag, here had a lovely Memorial Day weekend relaxing around the house. I hope that you all enjoyed your weekend, too!

Now, back to work!Photo: Purple ClematisPhoto: I tried an experiment with something a little more dramatic. I am not so sure that it turned out.

On a side note, I tried processing some bracketed shots of this and definitely do not have the hang of HDR processing yet. I need to use a tripod next time, for sure, and have a book nearby to keep my patience while it compiles (and re-compiles) the shots.

#candlesPhoto: Photo: A Storybook Sunlight
I imagine something like this when I read about young couples staring at the shapes in the clouds, their hands clasped together, resting on the sharp grass.Photo: If Heaven Were A Fortress I imagine that it would have walls this golden.

I thought I would lighten the mood with a photo I took on my way to work this week with my shiny new camera. :-)Photo: I am so excited for the Speech Club tonight!  Don't forget to tune in here at 6PM EDT, 3pm PDT for our very first episode.

What is Speech Club? https://plus.google.com/104973761519912571719/posts/e8nphgN7aKV

P.S.  This photo is the same "Golden Fortress" from my previous post, just from across the street!Photo: Want to share the view?
I can't believe that I didn't find this spot sooner, but this is from the roof of my office.  Most of the buildings downtown have great rooftops with views like these that you can check out, too!Photo: Our second episode of Speech Club is coming this Saturday, June 16th at 6pm EDT, 3pm PDT, this time with special speakers +P E Sharpe, +Paul Roustan, and +Daniel Ibanez.  The topic will focus on art, happiness, and doing things you love.  Join us!

If you want to see last week's speech: http://goo.gl/b626N

In the meantime, enjoy this shot of the clouds over Washington, DC.Photo: Face In The Crowd

My husband and I visited Great Falls Park in Northern Virginia.  The waters don't look fierce from here, but if you get close, you can tell that they run quickly underneath the surface.  A sign further up the path said that 7 people drown per year over here, likely because they underestimate the current.Photo: Black and White Asiatic Lily
I hope you are having a great weekend!  Mine went by in a blur, including preparing for an upcoming ballroom dance competition and helping my husband prepare for expos of his new explosives, narcotics, and gunshot residue detection product (check it out!: http://www.redxdefense.com/RedX_site/xcat.htm).

In other good news, my book is coming to new distribution channels!  Find it at:
Flatbooks PDF (best price!): http://goo.gl/HOcyh
Kindle: http://goo.gl/sVZM4
Other Electronic Formats (Nook, Sony, Kobo, etc.): http://goo.gl/Dl05B Amazon.com Paperback: http://goo.gl/BhUfr
NEW! Barnes and Noble Paperback: http://goo.gl/0Vo0B
If you are short on cash, check out my speech introducing the topics: http://goo.gl/jJY7n

Thanks!Photo: Fireworks over the National Monument in Washington, D.C. this evening!Photo: Another from Great Falls Park in beautiful Virginia.  Also, stop over at +Trey Ratcliff's stream at 10pm-- I'll be asking him some photography questions tonight before I have to get back to work!Photo: Ducklings in Alexandria, VA.

When I was a child, my mom (who is from Germany), used to sing me this song:
Alle meine Entchen
schwimmen auf dem See,
schwimmen auf dem See,
Köpfchen in das Wasser,
Schwänzchen in die Höh'.

It means:
All my ducklings swim on the lake,
Swim on the lake,
Heads in the water,
Tails in the air.Photo: Here's a shot from Arizona!  Those holes in the cactus are made by the birds that live inside!

Also, Update! Speech Club will be moved to this Saturday the 21st at 5pm EDT!  We will hear speeches from +Liz Krane and +Tu-Anh Tran.  We are also trying to convince +Daria Musk to stop by!
Then join us the following weekend, Sunday the 29th at 6pm EDT, for a speech from +Ayoub Khote!Photo: "Until the sun rises in the west, and sets in the east...."Photo: U.S. Navy Vessel, Washington, D.C., USA

I have been so bogged down with work that I haven't been on much!  I'll have to cancel Speech Club again this weekend, I think.  However, if you or someone you know wants to be on the show, let me know and I'll bring you on for an upcoming weekend speech!  I hope you can join me!  Until then, enjoy this shot from the Potomac River in D.C.!  See you soon!Photo: Great Falls Park, Virginia, USA

Writing is like water; the more you condense it, the stronger it is.  Don't you think so?Photo: A Bird in Boston Harbor

In Boston, I caught this adorable bird trying to see if the wind would catch his sails. Photo: Power

Nearly anyone can be courageous in the face of adversity, but the truest test of courage is power.  I trust the fair use of power only to the courageous.Photo: Oh, I really miss home sweet home, Arizona.  And, for a little fun, you can ponder this quote about Arizona from fellow Paradise Valley dweller, Alice Cooper:
"What most people don't understand is that UFOs are on a cosmic tourist route. That's why they're always seen in Arizona, Scotland, and New Mexico. Another thing to consider is that all three of those destinations are good places to play golf. So there's possibly some connection between aliens and golf."Photo: PlumeriaPhoto: Antigua
Sunrise in the Caribbean.   The island of Antigua has some amazing untouched landscapes if you get far enough from the capital, St. John.  Closer to civilization, the history of this island is very interesting.  It was Hero's Day in Antigua one day while I was there, and one of the heroes is "Prince Klaas," a slave in the sugar trade who attempted to lead an uprising in the early 1700s.  Today, the old sugar mill sits vacant and decaying on a hill, and our guide told us the locals no longer manufacture any of the locally grown sugar cane plants into sugar.Photo: My first attempt at star photography!

I miss seeing the stars every night.  As a kid, we lived in North Scottsdale before it had developed up very much.  There was a desert behind the house, and there you could see stars like this at night.  This shot was taken in beautiful Antigua, where there is good visibility of the stars at nighttime, too.  Now, living in Washington, DC, the stars are hardly visible.  Hopefully soon, I can get a wider-aperture lens to capture more light from stars with less exposure time (minimizing the "streaking" effect you see-- I'm not a fan of it).  And, even better, trying this someplace where I can see the Milky Way would be a dream!

New Year's makes me think of stars!  So, happy New Year to everyone!Photo: Antigua -- Colors in the Darkness.

I have a theory that low angles of light and long exposures with less light create much nicer colors.  Probably others have already seen this, too.  Why do you think that is?  What other ways do you know to capture amazing colors from your camera?Photo: Photo: Arlington Skyline from GeorgetownPhoto: Doggy in the Window

Last weekend, I did a photowalk in Georgetown, which is relatively crowded and urban, even compared to downtown D.C.  It was very challenging to get good urban photographs.  Do you feel the same?
Landscapes are easy-- they are beautiful and that's the end of it.  Urban has to work hard to be beautiful.Photo: Look into a pretty eye
To find the golden hue
Of a sunset in a primal land
Ancestors always knew.
And find peace in waters' bodies
Though it makes up our own.
From these it seems that beauty's
Sense was shaped by sense of home.Photo: First Lightroom - From My Office at Sunrise

I'm a little nervous to share this, because it's my first real experiment with Lightroom.  I started with +Trey Ratcliff's #treyslightroompresets , available over here: http://store.stuckincustoms.com/tools/lightroom-presets

I might try to get another shot of this at sunset sometime to experiment with different light.Photo: Three Sets of Footprints into Water

It's hard for me to get started with big projects sometimes.  I just had to take the plunge!  But it worked, and I am now emerging from what was a tough week with my productivity enhanced!Photo: Vignette
I'm not sure how I feel about vignetting.  I like that it draws interest to the center of an image, but I get this feeling that it can tick off more savvy photographers.  This is one of my favorite buildings in Washington, D.C. I think it deserves to be made a center of attention once in a blue moon.Photo: Photo: National Portrait Gallery

I had such an awesome time hanging out with +Angela B. Pan over at the National Portrait Gallery yesterday!  This atrium is so beautiful!

Tip: want those star-bursts?  Set your f-stop around f/16.Photo: Strange Lights in the Night

I was out photographing some red cherry trees against the purple sky we had tonight, when I saw this light in my shot!  I don't want to give away the mystery, so I won't tell what it was!Photo: Orchids
At the National Portrait Gallery

These orchids were sitting in a shaded area, so they need some spice!  I turned my on-camera flash on them and I think it made some nice dramatic lighting suitable for such dramatic flowers.Photo: First LovePhoto: Sparrow in a Cherry Tree -- Washington, DC

A few of the pink cherry blossoms emerged, but we have yet to see the peak of these blooms that, to me, mark the beginning of spring.Photo: Cat in a Fisheye: Part 2Photo: Blossoms and Blue
The color version of the shot from yesterday.Photo: Sailing into the Sunset
In the mood for one of these nights?Photo: Edges of the Earth -- Antigua
There is something nice about a view with no edges.Photo: Water Lily
Ready for the morning!Photo: These small flowers have enviable delicacy.Photo: Another Paradise Valley sunset -- Paradise Valley, AZPhoto: An Open WindowPhoto: Smithsonian's Sun -- Washington, DCPhoto: Photo: (c) 2013 Christa LaserPhoto: 4th of July, 2013, Washington, DCPhoto: Gold TowersPhoto: The Lion Awakes from Slumber -- Smithsonian National Zoo, Washington, DCPhoto: Good morning!  This little lizard was climbing the walls of the garden at our hotel in Antigua one morning.Photo: at the Smithsonian ZooPhoto: W59.22XS Struck by turtle, sequelaPhoto: Ancient DinosaurPhoto: Face of a LionPhoto: (c) 2013 Christa LaserPhoto: National Portrait GalleryPhoto: DC Traffic on a Pale Night
(c) Christa Laser 2013Photo: Frogs in Forest Camouflage 
(c) Christa Laser 2013Photo: Hunter's Moon
(c) Christa Laser 2013Photo: Grasses in Dallas
(c) Christa Laser 2013Photo: (c) Christa LaserPhoto: (c) Christa Laser 2013Photo: Bitten Mushroom - Alexandria, VA

While we were taking a walk outside this week, we ran across this terrifying-looking mushroom.  It looks as though someone tried taking a big bite out of it!Photo: Complex Perspective - Washington, D.C.Photo: (c) Christa Laser 2013Photo: (c) Christa Laser 2013Photo: Photo: (c) Christa Laser 2013Photo: The Lizard's Emerald City - Smithsonian Zoo, Washington, D.C.

I recently finished my first trial, and I have to say that the hardest part about it is going from the rush of trial to the sudden stop after post-trial briefing is finished.  More experienced people say I should plan a vacation for this time.  I think today I am going to have a mini-vacation: I'm going to get the game Red Dead Redemption to play this weekend  I hear it's really good!Photo: Kayakers in Great Falls Park.  (c) 2013 Christa LaserPhoto: Stony Man Peak, ShanendoahPhoto: Leaving Orion (c) 2013 Christa LaserPhoto: (c) Christa LaserPhoto: Dramatic Clematis

All it took was a ten minute break from my other projects this weekend to walk outside and sneak a photo of this blooming clematis flower.  I love their alien-looking stamen!Photo: Evening on the Mountain - Paradise Valley, AZ

I hope everyone had a great time over the holidays so far.  I'm looking forward to the New Year!  There are so many exciting things happening!  I hope you feel the same way.Photo: (c) Christa Laser 2014Photo: (c) Christa Laser 2014Photo: (c) Christa Laser 2014Photo: Iris Blossom
Only a few more weeks until the bulb flowers will start to emerge from the cold of winter.  I am really looking forward to it!Photo: Silhouette of a City

Who can recognize the city in this photo?  I'll give you a hint: there was a lot of smog this day, which made for a fun photo opportunity!Photo: Concrete Jungle

P.S.  I think he's declared himself king of  #caturday .Photo: Blue and Pink -- Arizona

I hope everyone is having a great weekend!  My plan: getting everything ready in the nursery for the new baby--washing clothes, putting up artwork, etc.  Would you believe I already lost a baby sock?  Tiny things!Photo: Spring is Coming!

Cherry Blossoms, Washington, D.C.Photo: Now the cherry blossoms are in full bloom!  -- Washington, D.C.
I had to get a shot before the rain washes them away.Photo: Red Fronted Lemur.
(c) Christa Laser 2014Photo: Stop Sign -- Washington, D.C.

#grungeday  Photo: In Flight -- Turkey Vulture in Great Falls Park, VAPhoto: Alle Meine Entchen 

This week, I have been enjoying our new baby.  I can't wait to sing him the Alle Meine Entchen children's song that my mom sang to me as a child.  If you are not familiar with it, here is an adorable animated version: http://vimeo.com/82086504Photo: "Every so often what lies behind the facade is rare and more wonderful than the subject knows or dares to believe." -- Irving Penn

Portrait of a Cuban CrocodilePhoto: Eye of the Tiger -- Er, Spotted Owl

#wildlifephotography 
#naturephotographyday Photo: Square -- Abstract of a Tennis Net
Cool!  My submission for the "Square" theme in the Spring Fling Scavenger Hunt received an honorable mention.  Thanks +Alan Shapiro.  There were some really great submissions.  If you want to see all of the "Square" submissions to the Scavenger Hunt, check them out here: https://plus.google.com/photos/113977984500465768287/albums/6026273630761241793Photo: Yay.  Another photo from the Scavenger Hunt.  This photo won second place and an honorable mention in the Scavenger Hunt for the theme "Stranger holding a sign with a heart on it."  Thanks +Gordon Laing and +Alan Shapiro!

The backstory: this is a photo from near the end of my pregnancy with our newborn boy.  He went from stranger to love of our lives so quickly!Photo: (c) Christa Laser 2014Photo: Happy Fourth of July!

Want to find a great place to watch fireworks?  This shot here was taken from Bolling Air Force Base in DC.  It is across the Potomac from the National Mall, so you'll have a great view!Photo: Tree of Life - Monticello, VAPhoto: Summer bloom

Photography is a great metaphor for living in the present: blur what lies before and behind you for a moment every day if you want to make the ordinary become more beautiful.Photo: Camelback Mountain in the Morning -- Arizona, USA

I'm missing home!  We are going to bring the baby to visit the family not too long from now, and I just can't wait to see their happy faces and to have the baby experience the beauty of my home town soon!Photo: Oh, SnapPhoto: This gorgeous Sumatran tiger at the Smithsonian Zoo is warding visitors away from her young cub.  This is exactly how my inner tiger feels if someone messes with my little cub!
#caturday  Photo: The higher your vantage point, the more expansive your thoughts.  You have to love a great view!  -- AntiguaPhoto: Great Falls Park, VAPhoto: (c) Christa Laser 2014Photo: Staring up at a summer sky -- Washington, D.C.Photo: To the White House -- Washington, D.C.

I had an awesome time taking photos with +Thomas Hawk around the White House!  T.H. is super-nice, and you can see from his photos that he has an amazing eye.  Nonetheless, I was not prepared to be quite as awestruck as I was by the effortlessness with which he see shots in every direction and instinctively knows how they should be taken.  Here's to the amazing T.H.!Photo: A good night is when you have something wonderful to dream about.Photo: Camelback Mountain, Arizona, at sunset.  No wonder they call it Valley of the Sun.Photo: White rosePhoto: Fountain on the lawn of the White House.Photo: "Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth." - Marcus AureliusPhoto: Now In Color -- Washington, D.C.Photo: Loyal as a Dog -- Washington, D.C.Photo: Merry Christmas!  I hope you have a "sweet" day with family and friends!

#merrychristmas  Photo: Butterfly resting on a leaf at Butterfly Wonderland in Scottsdale.Photo: A beautiful morning to start the new year!

"Each day is a little life."  - Arthur SchopenhauerPhoto: A Little Bit Weightless - Butterfly at Butterfly Wonderland, ScottsdalePhoto: Even the small can soar -- Birds flying over Washington, D.C.Photo: The language of the sun is spoken through the colors of the sunset.Photo: Antigua, again!  My best photos so far are mostly from here.  Something to be said for vacation, perhaps, to get inspiration going!Photo: Lizard on Concrete -- Antigua

My sister said that this makes for a fun desktop background.  I'm licensing it Creative Commons non-commercial (CC BY-NC-SA), so you are welcome to use it.  Enjoy!Photo: WaterlilyPhoto: One more water lily!  I hope you are all having a great day!Photo: Deserts can be full of life!Photo: Today is the day you get to see an awesome caterpillar! This one had just finished eating some plumerias and was crawling along to chow down on another bunch of flowers.Photo: The skies are pinker on the other side of the tree?Photo: Fibonacci in Black & White -- Asiatic Lily blossom in my backyard.

I hope you are having an inspirational day!

#photography   #naturephotos   #blackandwhitephotography  Photo: Photo: Happy 4th of July from Washington, D.C.!Photo: Starry skies over Shenandoah National Park at night. Photo: Top of Antigua

It took a couple-hour hike through thick tree cover before we reached the top of this peak.  The foliage thinned as we climbed, until finally we had a clear 360 degree view of the whole island.  Can't wait to go back soon!Photo: I hope you are having a great summer!Photo: National Monument, Washington, D.C.Photo: One last summery scene before Labor Day beckons autumn. Photo: One chameleon, coming up -- Smithsonian National Zoo, Washington, D.C.Photo: Photo: Photo: Golden GlowPhoto: Even a dull stone is worth exploring--it might hold a hidden lizard.Photo: Ducks at the Lincoln Memorial -- Washington, D.C.Photo: Sunset over Shenandoah National Park, VirginiaPhoto: Wishing you all a wonderful 2016!

My biggest accomplishment of 2015: finally feeling like I figured out how to balance work and a family of 3
Primary goal for 2016: hoping I can continue that streak and still be an awesome lawyer and a mom as we expand our family size to 4 in January!Photo: King of the Concrete Jungle -- Washington, D.C.