The Life in My Years

An anthology of life

“Oh wow, that’s so surreal man.”
How often did I utter that in another time, in another life, in another reality. Times when I dabbled in herbal, uhh, curatives. Times when I was probably listening to The Jefferson Airplane.
“ When the men on the chessboard
Get up and tell you where to go..”
Hey man, the chessboard. so surreal?

Now that I’m a bit too old and wise for that sort of activity I like to find my surrealism through other avenues.

And so last Saturday I was browsing the photography sites and found Tracy’s, Reflections of an Untidy Mind (Great title. Wish I’d thought of it).

Tracy is the host this week of the Lens Artists Photo Challenge and she chose the topic surreal. My first reaction was, “I don’t think I’ve got anything to fit that topic.”

After a little browsing through the archives and some noodling around with Photoshop I stumbled onto a few possibilities.

Can anyone guess what the banner photo is an image of? (Answer at the end of this post).

Photoshop has an editing feature called HDR (High Dynamic Range) toning. I’m not going to go into the nuts and bolts of it because, well, I’m only slightly versed in a few of the nuts and none of the bolts.

Conveniently enough though, the HDR menu contains a selection called surreal, which I used to edit a photo of a daisy.

More browsing through the archives brought me to photos of Yellowstone National Park where Mother Nature is the surrealist.

Below is an image of dazzling Morning Glory Pool.

The geothermal areas of Yellowstone are home to organisms called thermophiles, bacteria which thrive in the superheated waters and produce brilliant colors and striking patterns. When I first saw these colonies during our visit, the notion of modern art came immediately to mind.

To learn more about the life and times of thermophiles follow the link.

For me the most striking of the geothermal areas in Yellowstone is Mammoth Hot Springs, an area of travertine terraces that appears otherworldly. (Wikipedia, that world’s greatest authority has an article, link here, on the science of Mammoth).

The photos below are of Mammoth. I edited them in Lightroom using the Adobe Landscape profile and then finished using the texture, clarity and dehaze effects.

And finally the answer to the question. What is pictured in that banner photo?

My wife Cora guessed a milk drink in a blender. Wrong!

The banner image is of a rose which I edited using a twist filter in Photoshop.

To see Tracy’s take on surrealism visit her site, Reflections of an Untidy Mind. In her comments section you’ll find links to other photo visions of surrealistic photography.

27 thoughts on “Oh Wow, That’s So Surreal Man

  1. How cool! Wonderful shots Paul. I love the deep, vivid colours you made.

    1. eden baylee says:

      Beautiful pictures, Paul,

      Mammoth Hot Springs looks prehistoric.
      My first thought of the banner was a manipulated cappuccino, but it looked too perfect. Then I thought it was a roll of toilet paper or even a roll of adding machine tape.
      I was wrong – three times!

      1. Paul says:

        Hi Eden,
        Mammoth is the coolest place in Yellowstone – by far. Well, not cool, it’s pretty steamy. There’s a boardwalk that snakes up and around the terraces. There’s a visitor center nearby where elk herds graze on the manicured lawns.

        I tell everyone I know that they need to visit Yellowstone at least once.

        The rose. First time I ever used the twist filter. I’ll have to play around with it a bit more.
        Thank you for visiting and commenting.

    2. Paul says:

      Thank you Peter. I’m not sure if you use Photoshop. I achieved the deep colors in the Mammoth photos through the use of the dehaze feature. At first I used it only to remove the steam that’s present there. As I increased I saw the colors deepen and I was pleased with the effect.
      Thank you for visiting and commenting.

  2. Jane Fritz says:

    That’s some rose! I’m with Cora!!

    1. Paul says:

      Hi Jane, Milk in a blender is pretty much how I would’ve seen it had I not committed the crime.
      Thanks for visiting.

  3. Great photos, Paul!!

    1. Paul says:

      Thank you Lisa and thank you for visiting and commenting.

  4. Tina Schell says:

    Loved the geothermal images – very surreal!

    1. Paul says:

      Thank you Tina. And thank you for visiting.

  5. Groovy, man. I guessed that your image was a rose. Probably because I have been around a few twirls in my life or maybe because I refer to Wikipedia as the font of all knowledge. Some people think that I am referring to my husband! Anyway, where was I? It is amazing how going down the surrealistic rabbit hole led to psychedelic flowers. Mammoth! The photos of the hot springs really are surreal and fascinating. I wonder if the rock has any copper in it to give it that blue colour? The font of all knowledge was no help on that point, so I will have to ask my husband who studied geology. Thanks for contributing, Paul.

    1. Paul says:

      Love your comment, especially the thinly veiled reference to a still favorite song. I would think that your husband would find Yellowstone especially fascinating. I can’t imagine anyone not finding Yellowstone fascinating but for a geologist it must be a veritable playground.
      Thank you for visiting and commenting and for coming up with a wonderful subject.

      1. Thanks, Paul. I like that song too. Have been listening to it a lot recently. 🙂
        We’ve never been to Yellowstone. Not sure that we ever will. Maybe one day …

  6. mistemuse says:


    1. Paul says:

      Thank you.

  7. Very surreal!

    1. Paul says:

      Thank you for visiting and commenting.

  8. Dawn Palmer says:

    Great photos! Someday I’ll get to Yellowstone. 😎

    1. Paul says:

      Thank you Dawn, for visiting and for commenting.
      I can’t recommend Yellowstone enough. If your schedule allows I would suggest a September visit, when the tourist crush is done but before the guides, outfitters and some of the park concessions close for the winter.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I guessed a dahlia…rather close! Yellowstone seems the perfect surrealistic place – I hear about the fires now, hopefully it will not be too devastating. Great post, Paul.

    1. Paul says:

      Hello mystery person,
      Thank you for reading and commenting. Always appreciated.
      I don’t think Yellowstone is on fire – yet. Maybe I missed something. Sadly it’s hard to keep track of the fires these days. It’s Yosemite that’s currently threatened.
      Thank you again.

  10. Geothermal activity does give you wonderfully different images. And my guess for that swirl was the same wrong one. Impressed

    1. Paul says:

      Thank you for reading and commenting. As I’ve said in other replies, Mammoth is by far the most fascinating and yes, surreal place in Yellowstone.

  11. JohnRH says:

    Your rock shots rock, man. I could have sworn the banner was a latte. Well done.

    1. Paul says:

      Thank you John, Mammoth is my favorite place in Yellowstone. I used the dehaze function in PS to filter out some of steam. With the steam it looks even more otherworldly.
      Thank you for visiting and commenting.

  12. Anne Sandler says:

    Great surrealism Paul! I was guess a cup of something for the banner photo. Never would have guessed a rose. Yellowstone images are great.

    1. Paul says:

      Hello Anne,
      Thank you for reading and commenting. Yellowstone is a can’t fail for great images. One of my favorite places on Earth. You can have New York, I’ll take Yellowstone.

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