From Kathmandu to China on Christmas Day

Santa over mountains
Santa over mountains
I saw Santa as we flew over the mountais! I really, really did! MERRY CHRISTMAS, EVERYONE! ūüôā

Well, I’m pre-writing this post because it looks like my wi-fi capabilities in the airport will be limited at best. That said…

MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM CHINA!!!!! If my plane left Kathmandu on time, I should now be in China, 14 hours ahead of you. So, if this post hits at 5 a.m. Christmas morning, that would make it 7 p.m. in Chengdu, China. As this post hits, I’m hopefully off the plane from Kathmandu, managing my way through the airport to somewhere I can wait for the next plane.

Hmmm… What to eat for Christmas dinner in China? Light bulb moment…

Yes. Yes, I went there. As soon as I get settled in the airport here in China, I’m hunting my some “Chinese turkey” for my Christmas dinner.

By the way, I DID see Santa and his reindeer as we flew over the Himalayan Mountains! He and I shared a quick high-five and went on our ways (ignore the physics of my high-fiving out their airplane window at 30K+ feet). He was working hard and fast, trying to reach all of the homes on his way to you all in the U.S. I hope you woke up with the plate of cookies you left for him empty, and the presents he left for you under your tree.

My best presents are waiting for me at home. My heart is just happy thinking about them, and I can’t wait to see them soon. Send some prayers my way on this Christmas Day, that I may get home safe and soon. Please save me some leftovers, too. Just in case I wasn’t able to find my Chinese turkey at the airport. ūüėČ

Nepal, Day 2 — Up for the day…

It’s morning of Day 2 in Nepal. I slept through the night and am more awake now, yeah! Let’s see, what notes can I remember about yesterday?

Nepal’s electricity is generated by hydroelectric power. The amount of electricity is limited by how much it rains each year in the country, and how much melting snow is flowing from the mountains. With the city population exploding in size, electricity is rationed. There is a “load shedding” schedule published that states which hours each day that the electricity will be cut off. Right now we’re on a routine of no electricity for four hours in the morning and four hours in the evening.

As we ended our day yesterday, walking back to the hotel from Durbar Square, the main power was cut. When that happens, you hear the generators kicking in, and smell the fuel burning from the generators. Fuel is a valuable resource here in Kathmandu, often in short supply. Walking up the stairs to dinner at the Gorkha Palace Restaurant, we passed the generator, and smelled the gas. As we walked in, the majority of the restaurant was lit by candles. Generator power was used to cook our food (about $14 total for the whole meal, for both of us, with beverages), and to light the stage for the show of Nepali dancing, to include the disco ball of lights hanging from the ceiling. Welcome to Nepal, this is just how it is.

Fortunately our hotel has a generator, too. I actually looked for that when choosing where to stay. While we were both typing away at our computers, th power cut out. The heater stopped, the computers are no longer charging. The good news is that the generator is still powering our wifi. It’s good to know the hotel understands the priority of wifi. I was even able to call home via my Skype International Unlimited plan and speak with my son. Nice. ūüėČ

As we fell asleep last night, a big thunderstorm passed over us. Unfortunately we are expecting more rain and a possible thunderstorm as we visit Bhaktapur and Changu Narayan. I’m bagging the supplies in my backpack, will slip the rain cover over my backpack, and wonder why in the heck I didn’t pack a rain coat for myself. Today should be the last day of rain for the trip, though, so we’ll just have to deal with it.

We need to get ready for the day now. Breakfast at the hotel is supposed to be pretty good. My friend, Talim Shrestha, will meet us around 8:00 or 8:30 (depending on traffic), then we will head out to Bhaktapur. I think we’re taking the local bus there, then possibly hiring a car to Changu Narayan. Hopefully we won’t get too wet today. ūüôā

Nepal Day 1 – Kathmandu Durbar Square

I am honestly too tired to write much tonight. The plane was delay in Istanbul for five hours. We finally reached Kathmandu around noon local time. Were picked up by the hotel staff, made it back to the room. Met up with Talim Shrestha (drove for my friends who used to live here), then visited Kathmandu Durbar square. We made it just in time to see the Kumari (living goddess). On our way back to the hotel in Thamel, we ate Nepali food at the Gorka Palace restaurant, with front row seats to see live Nepali dancing.

Headed off to bed asap. A gallery of photos from today will be in this post. Another adventure awaits us tomorrow. ūüėČ

Greetings from Turkey!

We made it to Istanbul
My travel buddy and I¬†found each other at the airport in Istanbul — woo hoo! Now on to Nepal…

My friend and I have met up at the Ataturk airport in Istanbul, Turkey –YEAH! We have found a couple places that have free and cheap wifi, too. That has helped us cope better with the five hour delay in the last leg of our trip.

I don’t have much to share now, am just too tired to think straight. I left my house around 9 a.m. Saturday morning. After stopping in Frankfurt and Istanbul, I’ve lost track of time. Almost there, almost there, almost there…

For now, a few photos. Enjoy!

–KLM ūüėČ

And the trip begins!

Karin at Last Resort, Nepal.
This is me on my last trip to Nepal, at the Last Resort. I am standing on the wire bridge spanning the gorge between our vehicle and the camp. Behind me, and beyond the mountains in this photo, is Tibet.

In a few hours I’ll be setting off on my trip back to Nepal. If you’re interested, here are some photos from my previous trips: Nepal collection on Flickr.

On my trip to and around Nepal, I will likely have only limited time on the internet. I’ll be writing about the trip, but will most likely send the posts via email to this blog. You can sign up for post updates via email in the right hand column (on desktop/laptop), or by scrolling down the page (on a mobile device). You can easily UNSUBSCRIBE any time, too.

Please send prayers for safety and sanity for me and the friend with whom I am traveling. Also say some prayers for my family back home, too. Thank you! ūüôā

360 spherical image: Gray Thursday

Gray Thursday shoppers: 360
Click to view the full 360 spherical image of the Gray Thursday shoppers.

Wow! I had a fun time photographing the Gray Thursday shoppers literally camped out in front of the Killeen Best Buy! Well, they were an interesting group, anyway. ūüėČ

Below is a 360 degree spherical image I let them take with my Ricoh Theta 360 camera. These images are best viewed full screen, zoomed out a bit. You can then rotate the image and view it from different angles, too.

To read the related Killeen Daily Herald article and see more photos, click here. Enjoy!

Gray Thursday shoppers camped out in front of Best Buy, Killeen, TX, Nov. 27, 2014. #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

Fort Hood Fisher House Boots by Year

***PLEASE share this post so that more family and friends may find their fallen Hero’s boot photo.***

Lining the route of¬†the 2014 Fort Hood Fisher House Run, Walk or Roll was a boot honoring each service member who has fallen from 2001 to 2014. Volunteers have worked long hours on this project, attaching¬†the service members’ photos and basic service information to each boot, placing them along the route, and then relocating them to the field next to III Corps Headquarters.

Fort Hood Fisher House Boots by Year
Boots from the Fort Hood Fisher House Remembrance Run, Walk or Roll 2014, on display in front of the III Corps Headquarters.

It’s important to remember our fallen Heroes, to never forget their lives, their service and their sacrifice. Hopefully family members and friends who were not able to see this display at Fort Hood will be able to find their Hero’s boot in the collection of photos.

Click on the links below¬†to view the boots. The photos are pretty much straight out of the camera, as there are just too many to edit in a timely manner. Feel free to share a link to this post, and to download the photo of your fallen Hero’s boot.

Boots for Year 2001

Boots for Year 2002

Boots for Year 2003

Boots for Year 2004 

Boots for Year 2005

Boots for Year 2006 

Boots for Year 2007

Boots for Year 2008

Boots for Year 2009

Boots for Year 2010

Boots for Year 2011

Boots for Year 2012

Boots for Year 2013

Boots for Year 2014

Additional Photos of the Boots (***NOTE: Additional boots have been added since this event. I will photograph more boots when the memorial is on display at Fort Hood in November 2015.)

Click here for the Fort Hood Fisher House Facebook page

Click here for more information about the Fort Hood Fisher House Remembrance Run

To view and download photos:

View and Download Photos
Screenshot showing where to click to view and/or download Flickr photos.
  • Click on the photo you wish to view/download
  • Below the photo and to the right you will see an arrow pointing down. Click on the arrow.
  • Click the size you wish to download and it will immediately download to your computer.
  • Or click “View all sizes” to view the photo in different sizes.

Do you want to edit your photo (for PERSONAL USE only — crop, warm the color tone, add a frame)? Online sites you can use to edit your photo:

The photos are for personal, non-commercial, no derivative use only. Please contact me if you have any questions: KLMarkertPhoto@gmail.com.

(This is) My Dog Creed

(This is) My Dog Creed
(This is) My Dog Creed

This is my dog. There are many like her, but this one is mine.

My dog is my best friend. She is my life. I must care for her as I must care for my life.

My dog, without me, is homeless. Without my dog, I am hopeless. I must train my dog true. I must care for her better than my enemies who are trying to ruin me. I must train her before she trains me. I will…

My dog and I know that what counts in this life is not the squirrels we chase, the noise of cars speeding down the street, nor the friends we make on Facebook. We know that it is the playtime together that counts. We will play…

My dog is precious, even as I, because she is my life. Thus, I will love her as my own. I will learn her weaknesses, her strength, her routines, her chow, her chew toys and her favorite spots to be scratched. I will keep my dog bathed and ready, even as I am caffeinated and ready. We will become Battle Buddies for each other. We will…

Before God, I swear this creed. My dog and I are the defenders of my hope. We are the masters of our family. We are the saviors of my sanity.

So be it.

Creed and Photo ©2013 Karin Markert

Info about photo:¬†I pulled out my dad’s old 55mm/2.8 lens today, just to see how it performs. Interesting. I was a wee bit bummed to see a bit of noise in the photos when I was processing them. Other than that, I was impressed with how well the lens works on my modern camera! I played with it for a while, even took off the lens and held it on backwards for some hacked macro photos. THOSE were difficult to focus!

My favorite photo I took with the old lens was the last frame.

This quick pic just makes me smile! My son and pup hanging out in the hammock, catching the last rays of the setting sun. Nice! And to think my own father took photos of me with the same lens when I was the same age my son is now. Very nice.

Info about creed: This creed was adapted from the “Rifleman’s Creed”, a.k.a.¬†“The Creed of the United States Marine”. We are an Army family, not Marines. Yet I’ve heard the Rifleman’s Creed many times over the years. My adapted version literally jumped into my head one day, as I was thinking about Fergie’s importance to our family. ūüôā

My New Flyer!

New flyer for KLMarkert Photography.
New flyer for KLMarkert Photography.

I’m excited to finally have time dedicated to photography! As an army family we are constantly on the move. Quite often I’ve been overwhelmed with new transitions and competing priorities. After this move, I’m dedicating more time to my passion — photography. Finally!

With that in mind, I’ve created an new advertisement to be placed into a club directory. This involved a bit of planning and design work. Whew, it’s done! Now on to the next project! ūüėČ

Remembering President Kennedy, 50 Years Later


This time lapse film was shot from around 12:00 pm — 1:30 pm EST, November 22, 2013, fifty years after President Kennedy was assassinated.¬†When I shot this video, I lived right next to Arlington National Cemetery, and my husband was serving with The Old Guard. The Old Guard soldiers played very important roles throughout the events of November 22 — 25, 1963. This history is very important to me. I walked out from my house on the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination thinking about just how much our world has changed since those moments in time. It only seemed natural to bring my camera to capture what I saw that day, too.

I sat at the outlook on the hill between Arlington House and President Kennedy’s grave from about 12:00 — 4:10 pm, took three sets of time lapse photos and a number of stills. While I was shooting this set, Ms. Carmella LaSpada, former White House aide, visited with three Navy Seals and placed flowers at President Kennedy’s grave. If you look closely in the footage you will see the Navy Seals and their white hats (at about 1:00 in the video). I stayed long enough to photograph Secretary of State John Kerry when he visited and placed flowers at President Kennedy’s grave.

The audio playing on this film is from President Kennedy’s funeral. The audio and historic photographs are from the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum collection and can be found here: http://www.jfklibrary.org/About-Us/News-and-Press/Press-Kit-November-22-1963.aspx.

This was my first attempt at time lapse photography, so please excuse the “flickering”. The time lapse clip is a series of photos taken 5 seconds apart, played back 10 frames/second. Yes, I need to remember to do everything in manual next time: manual focus, manually set the white balance, etc. I used Adobe After Effects to compose the time lapse video, and Windows Movie Maker to add the text, audio and photographs (because I didn’t know what I was doing with After Effects).

A few days later, on the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s funeral, my husband called me to come meet and photograph 11 of the original 26 Irish Military Cadets who participated in the funeral. They were back to visit, and were gifting their class pennant to The Old Guard. Surprisingly, their visit was one of the few events that was happening on that day. Accompanying the original cadets were their spouses, some current academy cadets, a bagpiper and The Old Guard Liaison officer who originally assisted¬†them fifty years ago.¬†When I found out they didn’t have someone photographing their visit, I immediately jumped at the opportunity to document this historic event. I was very happy¬†to be able to share the photographs with them after they returned home, too. You can see the full set of photos here: Irish Cadets Visit The Old Guard.

Irish Cadets visit The Old Guard on the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s funeral, Conmy Hall, Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, November 25, 2013.
Irish Cadets visit The Old Guard on the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy's funeral, Conmy Hall, Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, November 25, 2013
Irish Cadets visit President Kennedy’s grave site, 50 years after they participated in his funeral, November 25, 2013.

What it boils down to is this — I take pictures to capture memories. I wasn’t alive when President Kennedy was assassinated and buried, but I will forever have these special memories from the 50th anniversary of these events. I heard stories from people who were very much involved with all that happened, and was thankful they shared their memories.

My own personal motto: “We have wonderful memories. When our memories fail us, we’ll still have the photos.”

Black and White Portraits – Three Generations

Combined portraits of Diana Rodriguez, her daughter and granddaughter.
Combined portraits of Diana Rodriguez, her daughter and granddaughter.

I started with black and white photography in the 1980’s, simply because it was easier and less expensive to work with in the darkroom than color¬†processing. Once digital photography was introduced to the masses, everyone was able to take photos with their point-and-shoot cameras, their cell phones, and now their personal tablets. Photos are being posted on websites and different social media venues — often shared within seconds of capturing the scene.

With the explosion of accessible photography and a wide range¬†processing applications/filters/actions available at our fingertips (literally), the bulk of images produced are now in color format. Well, this is what I’ve noticed through my personal observations, anyway.

That said, I strongly believe that black and white photography is making a strong comeback. There is skill in creating a stunning black and white image. The photographer has to understand luminosity, contrast, and how colors of the scene will actually change the overall mood of the resulting black and white photograph. Learning about black and white photography so many years ago has given me a good appreciation of how I can work with such images today.

When my friend asked me to photograph her WITH¬†her daughter and granddaughter, I was very excited! I looked forward to shooting a generational portrait! I searched the web for ideas and fell in love with the black and white trio image. Someone looking at the end product could imagine that these three lovely ladies posed for me, shoulder-to-shoulder, perfectly lined up — but that wasn’t the case. I photographed each one of them individually, then combined their images using Photoshop, with more touch ups with Lightroom.

The result was nice enough in color, but took on a character all it’s own once I converted it to black and white. I’ve come back to this image several times to tweak it a bit more, touching it up in one place or another. Then I just sit back and look at the result, see the stories of each person written on their three faces, and I smile. I would love the opportunity to re-shoot this scene sometime in the future, after the young girl has grown a bit more.

Below is a composite, showing the three original photographs, and how they look combined together. The lighting was strong from the right, with no additional fill light or reflector. If I were to shoot this again, I would use a stronger, more focused light on their faces.

Portraits of Diana Rodriguez, her daughter and granddaughter.
Portraits of Diana Rodriguez, her daughter and granddaughter.

Creating this image wasn’t just about shooting their portraits. It was more important to me to have¬†captured this one moment time as it was shared by these three special people. Putting together memories like this one is what motivates me to keep shooting again and again. ūüôā

NOTE:¬†I am entering it in this months Rock the Shot B&W Portrait Challenge. You can check out Rock the Shot forum here –> www.rocktheshotforum.com.

Rock the Shot

Remembering…

Sometimes good photos happen by accident, without a plan of capturing them in the first place. They are even more special¬†when they catch a moment in time, keeping it¬†alive in our memories. This is what motivates me to keep taking pictures — capturing those moments.

I have been married to my Army husband for 23 years. More than half of that time we have seen our troops fighting oversees. Most of our young soldiers joined the Army since we have been in combat. I am very proud of these soldiers decision to serve. Each and every soldier has a very important job whether it is fighting on the front line with a weapon in hand, or back in the office processing paperwork to keep things running smoothly.

This morning I processed photos of soldiers who were in our last unit, The Old Guard. Last April I was photographing cherry blossoms around the Washington, D.C. tidal basin when a group of our Old Guard soldiers walked upon the scene to conduct a reenlistment ceremony. I felt very fortunate to be there at that moment to capture the event in photos!

Not too long ago, one of the soldiers in the photos contacted me for higher resolution copies (I only post low res, ¬©-printed copies online). Unfortunately, I thought the originals were lost when my hard drives crashed earlier this year. Imagine my surprise when I found them saved in a mislabeled folder, one that was NOT lost or damaged! Whew…

Since I have only recovered the original RAW files, I had to reprocess them this morning before sending them. I re-cropped the images, adjusted brightness and contrast. To focus on the “heroes” of these images, I also deleted some distractions. I used the OnOne Perfect Eraser for this task, and touched up the images a bit more in Lightroom. Below are two examples of the deletions. Slide left and right to see before and after images. ***Pay attention to the bottom and left of each image.***

The original photo set can be seen here: https://flic.kr/s/aHsjWFRUA8.

Now that you can see where I’ve removed a few distractions, you can also see evidence of¬†what’s left behind in each picture. Because of this, I’m now in the habit of looking very closely at magazine photos, especially the advertisements, trying to find any alterations that have been made. I could work on each of these images a bit more, cleaning them up, but am convinced that they at least work for the current intended purpose — remembering that special moment in time.

And lesson learned: I now use a cloud system to constantly back up all of my files. ūüėČ

The Digital Darkroom

Fergie, my dog. ©2014 Karin Markert, all rights reserved.

My love for photography actually started when my father built a darkroom in 1983. I learned how to develop black and white and color film. I mixed the chemicals, kept them at the correct temperatures (more important with color negatives), used our Beseler enlarger to print images on different types of photographic paper. I can still close my eyes today and recall where everything was located in that room. My darkroom was a very happy place for me! I learned a lot about photography through the process of developing my own images.

Wow, am I ever thankful for the current day digital darkroom! I can now process photos in a fully lit office, sitting at my desk, trying many different options without the expense of more chemicals and paper. And with the digital darkroom I can alter images in ways that would have been impossible for me with my old enlarger.

Custom ASL Pillowcase
A pillowcase I designed for my son, and ordered on demand through CafePress.

This brings me to my recent work with “digitally painting” pet portraits. I recently designed a pillowcase for my youngest son, something I could create on demand through CafePress. I ordered the pillowcase and was very excited to show it to him when it arrive! Well, silly me. I should have asked him what HE wanted before I had started designing different items. My son eventually told me he wanted Fergie, our dog, on something different. Well, back to the drawing board! Or in this case, I headed to my digital darkroom.

Duvet cover personalized with digitally painted pet portrait.
Westie Duvet Cover

I shot a photo of Fergie, then opened up the image in Photoshop. Hmmm… I wanted something special for my son, and started working on the image. I worked with some painting actions, altered each individual layer until I was pleased with the result, even did some touch-ups in Lightroom. Fun!

Journal with personalized, painted portrait cover.
Westie Journal

While I’d like to buy a “Fergie Duvet”, I’m more likely to splurge for a journal with an image of our dog on the cover. I especially like that the journal can be ordered with different pages: blank, lined, task journal or dot grid. I’m probably going to purchase the lined journal this time around, but may design one with blank pages, with space to attach train tickets and other small treasures.

4th Infantry Division Memorial at Fort Hood

The 4th Infantry Division OIF Memorial at Ft Hood, Texas was first Dedicated in September 2004,  re-dedicated  after OIF 05-06 in May 2007, and re-dedicated again after OIF 07-09 in May 2009. Over 450 fallen Ironhorse soldiers who died in Iraq are memorialized on the monument.

4th Infantry Division Memorial at Fort Hood, Texas.
4th Infantry Division Memorial at Fort Hood, Texas.

This statue was created from two bronze statues of Saddam Hussein, captured in Iraq by the the 4th Infantry Division, and melted down by an Iraqi artist to make a memorial to their fallen comrades. The cost of the memorial was paid for by donations from Ivy Soldiers, 4ID Association members and businesses and citizens from Central Texas and beyond.

See more photos here: https://flic.kr/s/aHsk34dkyh

(Information source: http://www.4thinfantry.org/)