Remembering Grandma McBain

This is perhaps the hardest blog post I’ve ever had to write. For those of you who don’t know, my grandmother, Evelyn McBain, passed away on April 15th.

I don’t know what to write. How can you sum up a lifetime of memories and love in to one post? I know that whatever I put won’t even come close to scratching the surface.

Ever since I was born, Grandma lived a few blocks up the road from us. Every day after school, she’d be waiting for me in her red, ’92 Chevy Lumina with the bright yellow Hardee’s star antennae ball waving in the wind. She’d pick me up, ask about my day, and take me back to her house until my mom got off of work and could pick me up. She’d always feed me a snack (usually my favorite at the time, which alternated between ho-ho’s with milk or cheese balls,) and we’d gain our daily ineffable wisdom from Oprah together or play cards. Of course, there were plenty of days where I’d go out to her garden with a pair of scissors and come back in with a bouquet for her. She loved flowers and was always so happy when I brought her in some. She’d tell me the names of the plants I had gathered, and help me fuss over them until we got them perfectly arranged in a centerpiece bouquet for her kitchen table.
Other days we’d play Candyland, Aggravation, or hide and seek. I remember one time where I decided I was going to hide in the hardest place I could find. I ended up hiding in her laundry hamper. She couldn’t find me, and 20 minutes later was still frantically searching the house for me. After a while, she was about to call the police when I finally popped out. I remember us laughing about it, and from then on she always checked the hamper first whenever we played.
Grandma was always at every one of my terribly boring softball and volleyball games, cheering the way she loved to do for all sporting events. She was in the crowd for every concert/jazz/pep/honor band performance, full orchestra concerts, piano recitals, marching band halftime shows, and school plays, as well as national honor society events, handbell choir concerts, church functions and more. She always had time for you. As I got older and went away to college, she was always eager to see me and hear about the latest news in my life. Never once do I remember her turning me away because she was too busy, or she wasn’t interested. I can still perfectly picture the way her face would light up, even at the end, when you sat down to tell her a story, or talk about what’s new in the world. It was like seeing her as a school girl, giddy with excitement, ready for the latest piece of gossip.
One trait I always admired about her is her straightforwardness. She never sugar coated things.  If she didn’t like something, you knew. She wasn’t afraid of what others would think, and was her own woman. I remember once she got a picture of me with my prom date. She loved the photo and had it framed. Well a year later, my prom date and I broke up. Grandma was upset, told me what she really thought of him, and proceeded to cut him out of the prom pictures and then re-frame the cut up photos. I remember visiting her the year she moved to the nursing home. The last time I saw her at her house, she still had the mangled photo framed and prominently displayed on the shelf in her kitchen. If someone asked about the photo, she would announce, in a very matter-of-fact way, her distaste for the removed, and tell you that it’s a much better photo the way it is now.
Most importantly though, she was everything a grandma should be. She loved her children and grandchildren to the ends of the earth. She was always kind—even when we certainly did not deserve it. She enjoyed life. Even in her 80’s she was white water rafting, flying in helicopters, traveling to all 50 states, and taking hot air balloon rides. It was her love for life, her kind disposition, and generous soul that make this loss so hard.
There has been a hole in my heart since that Tuesday. I keep finding signs of her everywhere. One of her favorite things in all the world was the cardinal bird. Those that knew her would agree that she had cardinals all over her house. She often would wear sweaters with cardinals on them or would be sporing a lapel pin or purse with one of those bright red birds. Since she passed, there has been a cardinal that visits my porch window every day. Although it brings a pang to my heart, I like to think it’s her, checking in. Waiting for the day’s stories, eager to listen…the way that only the best grandmas do.
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One of Grandma’s rings she left me. I have been wearing it every day. The band is so thin and worn down from the years she had worn it.

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Grandma’s bible. Copyright year of 1907.

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Inside her bible she wrote “Evelyn Alleda Dodge. Terril Iowa. 1940” for her marriage.

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“Yea thought I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil: for thou art with me…”

 

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Grandma’s four children. From left to right: Leroy, Linda, Bob, and Larry

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Her two favorite rings: Her mother’s ring and birth stone ring.

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Grandma with her great-grandchild, Cade. April 6th, 2014.

Grandma and me, April 6th, 2014

Grandma and me, April 6th, 2014

God saw you getting tired
A cure was not to be,
So He put His arms around you, and whispered, “Come To Me.”
With tearful eyes we watched you and saw you fade away.
Although we loved you dearly, we could not make you stay.
Many times we thought of you, many times we’ve cried,
If love alone could save you, you never would have died.
A golden heart stopped beating,your tender hands at rest,
God took you home to prove to us He only takes the best.

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You will be dearly missed.
All photos © Holly Hildreth 2014.

Ohiowa

This week has been quite the whirlwind. I’ve been busy snapping pictures, packing, and moving! I left Missouri on Monday (5/14) and stayed overnight in Des Moines at my sister’s house. She wanted some snapshots of Cade–nothing too intense, as he was 2 weeks shy of being 3 months old and still couldn’t do much of anything. I did a quick shoot for them, but was frustrated as I desperately miss the lenses and lights I used to check out from school to do shoots. I definitely need to invest in at least a flash unit asap. I have been mulling over getting a new lens as well, but the lens in question (the fabulous Canon 16-35mm L series lens,) costs about 3 times as much as their top of the line flash unit. So, it’s one thing at a time! I just used natural light for the shoot with Cade. My sister, brother-in-law, and nephew will be coming out to Ohio sometime this summer to visit my brother-in-law’s grandfather with the baby, so I am going to try to meet up with them and do another photo shoot. Hopefully by that time, Cade will be more aware of what’s going on and will be able to interact with me more, (and maybe I’ll have new equipment to play with my then!!)

Cade looks like an old man © Holly Hildreth 2012

Cade looks like an old man

 © Holly Hildreth 2012

 © Holly Hildreth 2012

 © Holly Hildreth 2012

 

 © Holly Hildreth 2012

 © Holly Hildreth 2012

After Des Moines, I headed up to Waverly, IA. I spent Tuesday through Thursday in town doing a few last-minute things before my big move. I even got out for one last photoshoot of the “sights” (if you can even call them that,) in Waverly.

Main Street Bridge, Waverly, IA  © Holly Hildreth 2012

Main Street Bridge, Waverly, IA

The newly finished, (and highly controversial,) inflatable damn

The newly finished, (and highly controversial,) inflatable damn

Waverly Civic Center

Waverly Civic Center

The damn, looking west

The damn, looking west

My dad and I left at 6am (CST) for Ohio on Friday morning. We loaded up the car with Stoli and the rest of my things and headed east. My dad drove through Iowa, but I took over for the rest of the trip as he recently had invasive shoulder surgery and can’t drive for more than very short distances. Illinois seemed to take forever to cross. I didn’t much care for Indiana. With the exception of Indianapolis, it seemed to be more rural than Iowa, and we spent a lot of the time watching dust devils swirl across the unplanted fields. Once we hit Ohio, the landscape changed to mostly forest with a lot of cities thrown in. We hit Columbus about 12.5 hours after we left Waverly. I am subleasing a room in a duplex in the Short North area. The area is full of old, historical-looking houses. I believe our house was build before electricity was common as I don’t have any ceiling lights in my room. Here are a few pictures of my new digs.

The Front door. (Faces east)

The Front door. (Faces east) My room is the one with the lamps on in the top right corner.

My room. There's a bricked-up fireplace on the right of this shot. Not pictured: I have two almost floor-to-ceiling windows on the wall behind me that face east.

My room. There’s a bricked-up fireplace on the right of this shot. Not pictured: I have two almost floor-to-ceiling windows on the wall behind me that face east.

Living room and front door

Living room and front door

Other side of the living room

Other side of the living room

Downstairs fireplace

Downstairs fireplace

Dining room area and where we crate the dogs (my roommate has a husky/terrier mix).

Dining room area and where we crate the dogs (my roommate has a husky/terrier mix).

The kitchen. The white thing on the left side of the photo is the washer and dryer

The kitchen. The white thing on the left side of the photo is the washer and dryer. This door leads out to our backyard.

Backyard view from the kitchen door (looking west).

Backyard view from the kitchen door (looking west).

The backyard looking east from the fence. Our neighbors landscaped the area. Their door is on the left.

The backyard looking east from the fence. Our neighbors landscaped the area. Their door is on the left.

Our parking area behind the fence

Our parking area behind the fence

The view from the end of our alley. Downtown is right across that bridge. You can't see much of the skyline as its really obscured by trees, but trust me, it's there!

The view from the end of our alley. Downtown is right across that bridge. You can’t see much of the skyline as its really obscured by trees, but trust me, it’s there!

We've got a giant Wonder Bread sign by my house

We’ve got a giant Wonder Bread sign by my house

Stoli's enjoying his new backyard

Stoli’s enjoying his new backyard

My roommate's dog, Chase

My roommate’s dog, Chase

Stoli never fails to make me laugh

Stoli never fails to make me laugh

As soon as I pull my camera out, Stoli strikes a pose. He's a smart one!

As soon as I pull my camera out, Stoli strikes a pose. He’s a smart one!

Stoli and Chase play CONSTANTLY. It's nice though, because when I come home, Stoli is so exhausted from exercising all day that he just wants to sleep and cuddle.

Stoli and Chase play CONSTANTLY. It’s nice though, because when I come home, Stoli is so exhausted from exercising all day that he just wants to sleep and cuddle.

Stoli attempts to look fierce

Stoli attempts to look fierce

I started my internship at McGraw-Hill this Monday, and so far everything seems to be going really well. I am really excited about everything that I will be doing. I think I will be covering a variety of subjects which should be a nice change.

Oh, and here’s some more big news. Remember this photo I took?

Holly Hildreth Hallmark Card

Well, not only is it available to buy as a birthday card on Hallmarks website, but they’ve selected it to be sold in stores!! They’ll be available nationwide everywhere Hallmark products are sold starting in June (I’m not sure on an exact date just yet, but I’ll let you know when I find out.) This is my 2nd Hallmark card to be sold in stores and my 3rd card to be sold online. I’m very excited that you’ll be able to find Stoli at your neighborhood Walmart, Walgreens, Hallmark, etc!

The End of Break

First off, I would like to start by saying this is my official 100th post! This blog started out as a required project for a class and has morphed into my way of sharing my day-to-day shoots with people outside of Facebook.

Anyway, I spent two weeks of my Christmas break at my family’s house in Iowa. Initially it was a shock to the system, as I went from 50 degree weather in MO to highs in the teens in Iowa. I’m not a fan of winter weather to start with, so that was not a fun surprise to come home to. I got to Waverly just in time for Christmas. My sister, Kristin, had made some Christmas treats, and I decided to try my hand at photographing them. I have never really shot food before, and I don’t think it will ever be a huge part of my portfolio. I just used a lamp to light the scene and then had some tinfoil propped up to bounce light back into the scene. The cookies she made are two Ritz crackers with peanut butter in the middle, all dipped in chocolate. Needless to say they were delicious.

© Holly Hildreth 2012

 

© Holly Hildreth 2012

 

© Holly Hildreth 2012

 

© Holly Hildreth 2012

My attempt at photographing hot chocolate wasn't so successful...

 

My other sister, Jen, has a Willow Tree nativity set. She has been collecting all the pieces over the years, and I thought I’d try shooting that as well. I used window light and then more tinfoil as a reflector to bounce extra light into the scene.

© Holly Hildreth 2012

 

© Holly Hildreth 2012

 

© Holly Hildreth 2012

 

My sister and brother-in-law left our hour Christmas Day, and my other sister, Jen, had to do the news all week, so life got boring around the house. I soon was setting off around Waverly, trying to find things to photograph. I found a flock of geese on an open patch of water on the Cedar River and decided they would be my next photographic victims.

 

© Holly Hildreth 2012

 

© Holly Hildreth 2012

 

© Holly Hildreth 2012

 

School starts back up and Monday, and I expect to be very busy as I am taking a huge credit load. Don’t worry though, I’ll have plenty of new material to update and will hopefully be posting more regularly.

 

Repeat Offender

Hallmark has officially announced the winners of their “Mother’s Day Unleashed” contest. I have been selected as a winner for the 2nd time! I have known for a month and a half, and it’s been tough keeping it semi-under wraps, but I can actually publicly announce it now! The card is currently for sale online. You can check it out by visiting their store: HERE. Also, I now have a “Repeat Card Star” page about me on the Hallmark home page, which you can check out: Here. (It’s not much, but it’s kind of cool having a link to all your cards on their page.)

Summer Happenings

Hello all!

Lots of things have been happening since my last post. School is now out for the Summer, but I’m taking a Summer class so (hopefully,) I won’t have to take anymore Gen Eds as a senior.

I took a trip the 2nd week in May back to Iowa to see my best friend, who had just gotten back from her study-abroad in Asia. I brought Stoli with me, and of course he had a good time. His favorite part of the trip was chasing a giant kickball around the yard. He attempts to look vicious, but he’s still a marshmallow.

Attack Stoli © Holly Hildreth 2011Stoli celebrated his first birthday on May 31st. For his big day, we got him 2 new toys, played with him in the yard, and took him to the park with our friends’ miniature schnauzer puppy. He was a happy pup. Here’s a look back to him as a puppy. The photo is what the breeder sent us, so it’s not exactly high-quality, but you get the idea of how small he used to be!

 

At the end of May, I finally moved out of my apartment on the corner of Overpriced and Bad Landlord. I have now got a small one-bedroom apartment owned by the University. It’s about a mile from campus, but it’s not too bad (if you don’t mind being stampeded by kidlets every time you open your door).

The Kitchen and door to the back patio

The Kitchen and door to the back patio

 

living room

living room

 

Stoli looking like the King of the Castle

Stoli looking like the King of the Castle

 

Stoli spends a ridiculous amount of time barking at his reflection in the window at night. For being the 10th smartest dog breed, Stoli has his moments of doubt.

Stoli spends a ridiculous amount of time barking at his reflection in the window at night. For being the 10th smartest dog breed, Stoli has his moments of doubt.

 

Door to the front patio

Door to the front patio

 

Front Patio

Front Patio

 

Bathroom

Bathroom

 

Bathroom

Bathroom

 

My small bedroom (and a look at my new prints!)

My small bedroom (and a look at my new prints!)

Panoramic of my small bedroom

Panoramic of my small bedroom

Living room and breakfast bar

Living room and breakfast bar

 

Kitchen, breakfast bar, and livingroom

Kitchen, breakfast bar, and livingroom

 

I'm like a troll living under the stairs...

I'm like a troll living under the stairs...

 

I have neighbors above me and to the side of me. They have hoards of children and the walls are paper-thin. There's nothing like waking up to the sound of your neighbors screaming at their kids, threatening to beat them with a belt.

I have neighbors above me and to the side of me. They have hoards of children and the walls are paper-thin. There's nothing like waking up to the sound of your neighbors screaming at their kids, threatening to beat them with a belt.

 

Last Friday, a group of Curry’s work friends and I went to Kansas City for a Royals game. We were headed into the City during rush-hour, and unfortunately, stupid Missouri drivers were out and about. There was a 5-car pile up, and we were the last car. We were really lucky, and things could have been much worse. We’re still waiting on Geico to give us estimates on Curry’s car. In the meantime, he’s been driving my car to work, and I think it’s totally killing him to drive American. 😉

Front bumper damage

Front bumper damage

 

Broken Mirror. It's a good thing his mirrors fold back, otherwise it would have been toast.

Broken Mirror. It's a good thing his mirrors fold back, otherwise it would have been toast.

 

Scratch and dent on the driver's door. The door doesn't open properly, which makes it difficult to get in, unless you do it NASCAR style.

Scratch and dent on the driver's door. The door doesn't open properly, which makes it difficult to get in, unless you do it NASCAR style.

 

Dented front panel, scratched bumper, and minor hood denting.

Dented front panel, scratched bumper, and minor hood denting.

 

Well, I think that about covers life from the last month. I haven’t really done anything too earth shattering as I have been a slave to PictureME! Portrait Studios. We’re taking a trip to Wisconsin at the end of this week and then my family is heading to Atlanta for a vacation at the end of June. More photos to come.

 

 

 

 

Spring Break 2011

Most people don’t think of Waverly, IA as a Spring Break destination. In fact, as most of my classmates talked about their exotic vacation plans, I kept my trek to the homeland under wraps, because everyone knows that only cool kids go to Iowa for Spring Break. So I left Missouri’s 75+ degree weather and traded it in for a 6 1/2 hour drive north to snow piles and highs in the low 30’s. I brought Stoli with me. Normally he cries and paces on long drives, but a quick stop to the vet for anti-motion sickness medicine relaxed him and he was great. (A little out of it too..He brought me a mouth full of rocks and then flopped on his side just staring at me.) Stoli loved the family and I have a feeling they liked him more than they will admit. Stoli’s favorite part of the trip, however, was chasing my sister’s cat, cooper. (Cooper was not pleased.)

© Holly Hildreth 2011

© Holly Hildreth 2011

© Holly Hildreth 2011

After the trip home, I returned to Missouri a few days early to take a sever storm spotter training class. We’re required to attend a safety class outside of the normal university meeting time for one of my gen ed classes. Storm Spotter Training in Missouri is…well…intersting. These hillbillies lose it. It’s like Christmas for them, so not only was it educational, but a great time to people watch. (But that’s a whole different story.)

My boyfriend, Andrew and I have been trying to celebrate our one-year anniversary for quite a while. The plan was to go to St. Louis as a mini-vacation. I have only been to St. Louis once, but it was night time and I was young enough to not remember. Our Anniversary was January 23rd, and we just got there this weekend, over 2 months later. It wasn’t for a lack of trying on our part. The first time Andrew scheduled his leave and the trip as a surprise, but it was right in the middle of my finals week, so we had to cancel. The next time we made reservations, the Air Force screwed us over and put travel restrictions on us due to “impending blizzards,” so we had to cancel yet again. (It never snowed a single flake, by the way.) The last time we scheduled our trip, Stoli got sick with an advanced bladder infection and upper respiratory infection, which set us back $225 in vet bills. Fourth Time’s a charm, I guess.

The trip was not all a walk in the park. I think someone was trying to keep us from getting to St. Louis (we apparently didn’t catch on after getting turned away 3 times!) When we left Warrensburg the forecast called for light snow with little to no accumulation. Things were fine until we switched drivers about 2/3 of the way there. I started driving the last part of the journey as as soon as I did, all Hell broke loose. It got mega snowy and icy in a heartbeat. There we lots of cars and semis in the ditch. I was driving 40 in a 70 mph zone and passing cars like they were standing still.

© Holly Hildreth 2011

View from our balcony of the snow

We made it to our hotel safely, but they didn’t get our room right. Although the room wasn’t what we had reserved, it was still really very nice. The hotel was full–there was a plastic surgeon convention staying there and they must have gotten everything mixed up room-wise.

© Holly Hildreth 2011

© Holly Hildreth 2011

© Holly Hildreth 2011

We didn’t bring swimming suits or anything to do in the hotel as we didn’t figure we’d be there a whole lot other than to sleep, but with the blizzard-o-death outside, we were sort of stuck on ideas of what to do. We explored the hotel from the pool to the cigar lounge. I wanted to take pictures, but andrew wouldn’t let me. Something about already being totally out of place…( I would have liked to have seen all the old rich American Royalty getting their mustaches in a bunch over it.)

The snow calmed down a bit once the sun went down and we decided to hit the city. Andrew’s dad had suggested a nice restaurant downtown by the arch called Mike Shannon’s. We dressed up and decided to give it a try

(I didn't take this photo, but I wanted to show what the restaurant looked like.)

I had filet mignon and Andrew had the prime rib. It was amazing! After supper we explored the city a bit, but it was still nasty out, so we headed back to the hotel and watched some TV. We called it in early as we were both really tired.

The next morning we got up and headed out for lunch. We originally stopped at a BBQ place, but the line was ridiculous as it had been featured on the travel channel and voted best BBQ in St. Louis. We settled for a T.G.I. Friday’s near where we had eaten supper the previous night. After that we headed over to the arch.

© Holly Hildreth 2011

© Holly Hildreth 2011

© Holly Hildreth 2011

© Holly Hildreth 2011

© Holly Hildreth 2011We got to the arch at around 12:30. They were ALREADY SOLD OUT OF TICKETS FOR THE REST OF THE DAY! We weren’t able to do anything other than look around on the main level. Andrew and I milled around the museum and walked the campus outside the arch and then headed out. The original plan was to go to the zoo, but it was only in the low 40’s and was very windy, so we decide against that. Instead, we went to the St. Louis Art Museum. I had been to the Nelson-Atkins in Kansas City a fair few times and decided that I’d like to see what St. Louis had to offer. I was surprised that Andrew wanted to go too. Normally getting him to go to anything cultural is like pulling teeth (for lack of a better idiom.) When we got their, we found out to my dismay, they had gotten rid of ALL their photography! I like looking at paintings and sculptures, but photography is pretty much the whole reason I go to art museums. We spent about an hour looking around. I love taking andrew to the modern abstract art. Rothko and Jackson Pollak make him want to beat up hippies.

We decided to head home after the art museum. It was nice to be back in Warrensburg and to see Stoli again. All in all we had a really good trip, despite all the hiccups. I’d like to go back and visit St. Louis again as there were many things we didn’t get to see and do. We both really enjoyed our very belated anniversary. It was great to get out of warrensburg and see the world (even if it is still in Missouri!)

Snow and Frost Panos

I normally upload my photos to facebook to share with friends, but with facebook changing their photo uploading application, it no longer accepts any photos that are over 8000 pixels on any side, which means the death of the panoramic. So, I thought I would upload a few of my panos that I have done over the last week here to share with everyone. Please click on the Pano to see them full size. You may need to be patient, they are larger files as each pano is at least 8 photos stitched together.

Wedding/Location Assignment #5-Location Q-Flash shoot


For Assignment #5, I was still in Iowa, so I decided to have my sister, Kristin Kapusinski model for me. It’s quite cold up here still, so it was tough to get a good shoot in without the batteries dying immediately, and it’s also hard to shoot when you can’t feel your fingers. We mostly shot on Cedar Lane and at the Waverly Ski Club. Here are a few shots from the session. You can see all the proofs by visiting my Flickr slideshow.

Flickr Slideshow

 

Wedding/Location Assignment #4 – Location shoot with Q-Flash

For assignment #4 for our Wedding/Location class, I took the Q-Flash Kit home for Thanksgiving Break. One of my high school friends, Jordan Elenz, volunteered to model for me for the shoot. It was a balmy 23 degrees the day of the shoot, and once the sun set, the temperature dropped rapidly. I wasn’t exactly ready for such cold weather, seeing as it was mid-60’s when I left Missouri. Sometimes I can’t believe how much of a temperature difference there is between Central Missouri and Northeaster Iowa. Anyway, we mostly shot around the Waverly Civic Center and behind the “Big-Six” complex on Main Street along the Cedar River. I haven’t had much experience with the Q-Flash, but I knew that I wanted to do some twilight shooting to get dramatic colors. Here are some of the results. You can see more of the photos by visiting my Flickr Slideshow.

Flickr Slideshow

Night Shooting

I’m currently back in my hometown in Iowa, for my Thanksgiving break. Over the break, we were assigned to do “night shooting” for my Materials and Processes class. I checked the forecast for the week and it sounds like rain for the first few days and then snow and highs in the low 20’s (a HUGE change for the 70’s back in Missouri!) So, I figured I better get out and try some shooting before I had to battle the weather for a good shot. I might do more experimenting with the concept later in the week, but I thought I would do a quick post for now. Also with these images I tried doing HDR processing. For those of you who may not be as photographically savvy, HDR (High DynamicRange,) photography is when you bracket exposures (start by taking a fast exposure and then change the shutter speed gradually). You can take anywhere from as few as 3 or 4 shots to 12-15 and then you combine them in a software program to make one image with the tonal rage of all the shots that you created at different speeds. I have never really done any HDR before and I’m not really sure what to think of it. I think if done tastefully, youcan get neat results, but I see a lot of fake, comic book-looking images out there that really turns me off from HDR imaging. I don’t have a good HDR program, so I downloaded a demo program, Photomatix light. This program did an OK job–I wasn’t too terribly impressed, and to top it all, the program pastes its logo all over your image when it combines the exposures, so you have to work on editing out all the watermarks. Anyway, here are a couple of the experimental shots. The reason I like this is that is you weren’t from around here you might think, maybe, just maybe, Waverly, Iowa isn’t horribly boring.