Pathological Picture Taker

Mallory and Ella just clearing the Ring of Fire on the left, and the sun is beginning to set below them. Great Strawberry Festival moment.
Mallory and Ella just clearing the Ring of Fire on the left, and the sun is beginning to set below them. Great Strawberry Festival moment.

I’ve been trying to come up with clever words to describe my passion for photography. I didn’t want to use words like addicted, obsessed, fixated, or compulsive, so I asked Tom to come up with an alternative, here is what he came up with:  imbued with a fanatical dedication to click my shutter. Ha! Well said Tom.

Ferris Wheel!
Ferris Wheels and funny faces!

I am a Pathological Picture Taker. Plain and simple. Capturing images, and then manipulating them is the whole package for me. I realize after years of using my cameras that up until recently my style has been rather shotgun.  Although my percentages of really good shots are high for this shotgun style, I am ready for a more deliberate approach.

Beyond the calculations for a quantitatively accurate exposure, I like to believe that my best shots have an element of luck.

I recently read that there is a difference between a quantitatively correct exposure and a creatively accurate exposure. The combination of ISO, f-stop, and shutter speed, will usually render 5 or 6 possible combinations that will produce a correct exposure, but the creatively correct exposure will make you say WOW! That wow effect, although hoped for, still surprises me. This is the magic that photography holds for me.

Some of my worst shots were surprisingly transformed into unbelievably good shots in post processing. Being able to do that has always been fun for me.


Until a few months ago, I did all my post processing or photo art, as I learned to call it, by using Corel’s Paintshop Pro. In other blog posts I’ve mentioned my huge learning curve when I began to explore photoshop. I owned the program for a few years but became highly frustrated when I tried to process my photos on it. I can’t explain exactly what stumped me. I felt like I was inside a cockpit of a very large airplane with all the lights, buttons, and levers. YIKES!

Now that I’ve been using it, I can’t understand why it was so hard for me to crack.

Magical Disney!


The girls were with their father and his family for Christmas this year. They joined their mom after Christmas and as a cool way to celebrate the season nana (that’s me) took herself, the girls, mom and dad to Disney! Yay me! Our magical trip to Disney started out with all of us kids feeling a bit giddy with excitement. It was January 3rd so the holiday decorations were still up. We arrived inside the Magic Kingdom  at 10 a.m. The day was overcast but not terribly cloudy.  We were a group of eight adults and two kids and a baby. The baby was in a carriage, and one adult was in a motorized wheelchair.

Image taken by Rachel Lamb

Our group’s arrival was staggered.  The girls and I arrived inside the park first, while Des and Cully waited at the entrance and fed Olive. They decided they’d meet the rest of our party there and we would all catch up inside. Meanwhile the girls and I went on inside the Magic Kingdom. Mallory, Ella and I had about a 30 minutes head start on the others, and we used that time to explore the city center area. At this time I thought it a responsible thing to do to discuss a mutual place to meet should we become separated. A nice Disney employee over heard our conversation and added that they should be sure to ask for identification, or go to the City Center and ask for help.  Ha! Little did I know that I would be the one who would get lost:) But I get ahead of myself. Mallory, Ella and I, positioned ourselves on the second level of the train station and took a few pictures. We saw that the parade was about to start so we ran down and found a good vantage point. We took advantage of all the christmas decorations that were up and snapped a few pictures under the Christmas Tree, and with the wooden soldiers.

Image taken by Rachel Lamb

Then we visited the Candy Cane Garden and met Mary Poppins. We took a couple of shots there, then returned to the train station to wait for everyone else to arrive.

Image taken by tourist using Mo’s Panasonic Lx5
Image taken by Rachel Lamb

Once we were all gathered we began our procession down Main Street toward the castle. There was a small crowd gathering in the pit area in front of the castle.  Me and Mallory and Ella found a space up close to stand and watch the show.  Images of castle and parade taken by Marilia Garcia using Panasonic L5, image of Mallory and Ella  taken by Rachel Lamb

Then we returned to join the rest of our party who were just a few feet behind us on the outside of the pit area.

Image taken by Rachel Lamb

As I approached I observed that discussions were underway of where to go next to get this adventure off the ground. We found there was another parade about to start so we waited behind the corded off area. It was quite humid and I was thirsty and felt everyone else was probably soon going to need water.

Image taken by Rachel Lamb

I went to a nearby eatery and grabbed several bottles of water, a coke and a hot dog. It was now 12 noon. Time magically disappears in Disney. I should premise this brief on my Disney experience by noting that I suffer from mild to intermediate social anxiety. I tend to become very uncomfortable in large crowds of people. Yet, for me, the best way to deal with these feelings of anxiety and claustrophobia is through exposure and emersion. Therefore, I force myself to engage in outings to theme parks,  community fairs, and other social functions. Whenever possible I take on training sessions for my staff of 100 that require me to speak in public to a large group.  Yep, I do. Most of the time it works. This day, the over sold theme park, bad weather, and parades were more than I could cope with.

Image taken by Desiree Lamb using Mo’s Panasonic LX5

At the end of the parade, the crowds were daunting and as I mentioned above, I do not do well in such large crowds. I struggled unsuccessfully, to maintain a cordial composure while wanting to find a place to hide for a while. After about 40 minutes or so, it started to rain, and pretty much rained in a series of burst throughout the day.  The convergence of people, and rain was a bit overwhelming and I had a psychological crash of sorts.The cynical rebellious part of my personality couldn’t help but notice that for all the magic, most of the visitors had bewildered scowls on their faces. Parents appeared frustrated with young children, others seemed lost and confused. There wasn’t a lot of magic visible at this point. My head was exhausted and dizzy from trying to maintain social decorum. I wanted to scream.

Image taken by Rachel Lamb

At one point I noticed my phone had no charge and thought it would be a good time to go charge it at a nearby restaurant. I figured this would give the rains some time to subsided and everyone else seemed focused on eating.  Selfishly, I saw an opportunity to escape for a few minutes and recoup. I took it. This brilliant move on my part revealed even more intellectual  prowess when I discovered that I had placed the wrong charger in my backpack. Ha! wouldn’t you know it, there I was stuck with no way to charge my phone. I returned to find my peeps, but now it was pouring rain and everyone had run for cover. Oh my! It was now about 2 p.m. and I was separated from everyone. I remained separated from them for the remainder of the next three hours.

Image taken by Marilia Garcia using Panasonic L5

I was lost until I left at five p.m.  In that time I managed to get a Disney worker to charge my phone and send a text and voice message to my daughters phone. She never got the text and the voice message just showed a missed call. The crowds were thicker than I ever remembered in all the times I’ve gone to Disney. People were crowding into any enclosed space seeking cover from the rain. The streets were ankle high with water and everyone looked stressed and hurried. It was a claustrophobic’s worst nightmare. A perfect storm of  stressors sure to induce a psycho episode. Where did the magic go?

Image taken by Marilia Garcia using Panasonic LX5

At one point my daughter and i managed to connect for a few words before my phone died yet again. In my distress I didn’t even notice that my backpack, a gift from Tom’s Cadillac Allante Club, was not waterproof! What??? All my gadgets got wet. Camera, cell phone, batteries, SD cards, credit cards, everything was soaked. Even the items I had placed inside of plastic baggies had somehow been affected by the moisture. It was unbelievable.

Image taken by Rachel Lamb

Meanwhile, the girls were having a ball with the rest of the group. I wish I could be a kid again and not deal with anxiety! Oh to be carefree, fancy footed, and dance in the rain! Images in this gallery by Rachel Lamb, except the one of the Parade, which was taken by me using my Panasonic L5.

Image taken by Rachel Lamb

There comes a time in a hot mess like this that you have to face the facts that there just are things you will never be able to control. I made a pit stop at a restroom, so that I wouldn’t add insult to injury by peeing on myself, although, I was already soaked, I could have totally gotten away with it! After the potty break I composed myself a bit, fixed my hair, straightened my jacket, and discovered my backpack malfunction. I was one soaking wet mess! Soon the temperatures began to drop.

I was so worried about Olive and Des. Mallory and Ella have learned to survive these episodes of the crazies, but baby Olive is so vulnerable to this petri dish of global grade bacteria, viruses, and parasites. The entire atmosphere at Disney was thick with germs being exhaled from the lungs of citizens from every corner of the world and the humid conditions in this dish promote the replication of these bugs . Poor baby!  Images in this gallery by Rachel Lamb

Submission became my only option. I submitted to the events of the day and looked for a coffee shop because this is Disney and there are no pubs! Oh look starbucks, and a bakery! Yay! Soon I was out the door proudly sipping on my grande, skinny, caramel macchiato latte and biting some cranberry sugared pastry! Yum, caffeine and sugar, two vital foods for my neurology. Okay day, bring on the rain! It did! It now rained harder than ever!  Did I mention the parades?  All but one of the images in this gallery were taken by Rachel Lamb. The one of either the vivid castle or parade was taken by me using my Panasonic L5.

Ahhh, well I discovered that Disney uses parades to deflect its guests from the stress of when everything goes wrong on your day at Disney! Especially on a day when the park has been over-sold and conditions are ripe for a major problem.  There we were a massive crowd of frustrated people camouflaged in plastic ponchos. Disney’s secret weapon at a time like this is to start a parade. Now an interesting observation is that all this time that I was walking around lost, meandering in circles for hours in this large bowl of water, I searched for a Disney employee or security and couldn’t find anyone. It wasn’t until I walked from Adventureland to City Hall that I finally got help and then only after speaking to three different people. The first told me to stand in line and hope they had a charger. The second told me they couldn’t help me if I didn’t have a charger. The third not only charged my phone but actually let me use her personal iphone to message my daughter and call her.  There is hope in the world!

Image taken by Rachel Lamb

Interestingly, all of a sudden when the rains start-up again, all the Disney staff become invisible. Not to worry, they reappear as soon as it stops raining. What the?? There is something strange going on here. Well to proceed, now that I was on track to find my group again, I am thwarted by parades. It seems that when the Disney staff suddenly reappear they magically cord off the streets and pack the already crowded space even more densely. Now it is not only a-getting-cooler, wet, mess, but Disney has added a maze to the adventure. I am now trying to get past thick crowds of strollers, wheelchairs, children, elders, young people totally oblivious to anything but themselves, all in narrow corridor sized spaces along the buildings, emporiums, and eateries. All the while navigating the roped off areas and the parades!

Each time a new rain burst started, the crowds moved in a great wave looking for shelter, I felt like I was swimming in a sea of people. Stress always enhances my dyslexic episodes and I was smack in the midst of a major dyslexic bloom. I kept getting confused with which direction to head in.

Image taken by Rachel Lamb

I felt like I was in a twilight zone of sorts having lost my maps and contact with the group to my wet mess backpack. I gave up! It was time to head back to the car and find my way back to my people. Then I remembered that just before my daughter and I lost contact, she said to meet at 4:15 at our fastpass reservation for Splash Mountain! How appropriate. Just before heading back down Main Street I turned back to Adventureland, and one last attempt to reunite with my peeps.

Image taken by Rachel Lamb

Once I got to Splash Mountain I quickly realized I was standing in the back of the ride. Those three other times I’d gone there looking for the peeps, well they may have been there, in the front of the ride, but I had been standing and searching in the back. It never dawned on me to walk around. See the dyslexic storm induced a major neurologic malfunction that was enhanced by a panic attack. Yes! As if I needed to get any crazier! REALLY! Now I’m getting angry. I finally find my way to the front of Splash Mountain at exactly 4 p. m. Then, suddenly the skies break open with the heaviest rain fall yet. OMG, WTF, is going on here????? I find a place to sit and determine to ride out the storm in front of the fast Pass entrance. Figuring that someone from my group would show up to look for me???? Yeah right! I would surely not miss them here. Now it was 4:05, 4:07, and then the announcement came. All water and outdoor rides were closed due to the rain. REALLY!! ARE THEY KIDDING???? No!!! You have to love Disney! Note to self: Old, Wet, Lost, Woman, is on her own! Survival skills best be in place.

Image taken by Marilia Garcia using Panasonic L5

At 4:18 p.m. I knew it was over for the day. I began my long lonely track back to Main Street, then out the door to the monorail. As luck would have it, I went up the wrong ramp. Of Course I would! This monorail went only to the Disney Resort Hotels. I made my way down the ramp and looked at the next monorail ramp. It was mobbed! I looked around and the buses were to far away, I decided I’d head for the steamboat. As luck would have it, I missed the cutoff for this boat and had to wait for the next boat to arrive. I exhaled and hoped I would be able to find my car. As I exhaled and looked over my right shoulder out to the water, I noticed a familiar looking fellow walk by! Luke! It’s Luke! Yay, that must mean everyone else must be close by. I followed him with my eyes, and there they were, Rachel, Susie, Joe, Courtney! No Cully, No Des, No kids????? I was so glad to see the group. I ran to them and just rambled on about my experience. What a mess, I was so overcome with anger. It was the perfect thing.

Image taken by Rachel Lamb in Ybor and used here with permission for effect:)

I found my way to my car, only to find my phone was so dead I couldn’t get it to connect. It was several minutes before I could reach anyone. I decided not to sit in the parking lot. I figured at this point I would either find my way to Des or find my way home. As I began to drive my phone came to life and like magic I called Des. I had enough charge to ask her to text me the way and help me head in the right direction. Then the phone died again. Then the phone revived long enough so I was able to text Susie so she wouldn’t be waiting in the parking lot for me. Next I concentrated on breathing, the traffic was typical thick Disney Traffic! Slower than snail pace but moving.

Image taken by Rachel Lamb

Finally I find  Hwy 535 and then my phone is dead again. I don’t know if I should turn left or right. I followed my instincts and turned left,  now  I couldn’t retrieve the text message to read the directions Des sent on how to get to the condo because the phone was still not charging. Just when I was about to slip into despair, as if by magic the phone revived long enough for me to quickly write the directions. I found the place, turned in, now what? I called des. Wait the clubhouse has a different name. I go back out to the entrance and see there is a sign but it has a tiny arrow pointing down the road. I drive and find it. Yay! Then I see Cully ! Finally I’m found!  The images in this gallery were take by Marilia Garcia and Cully Jameson Lamb using our I phones.

As bad as the events of the day had unfolded, from this point forward it became the best night ever! All my girls, safe and happy, a fabulously large condo, a hot bath, I dried my clothes, my shoes, someone brought beer, I was home. We ate dinner at Crabby Joe’s . I had decided that this perfect ending was all that was needed. Then my daughter insisted that I would have to accompany Cully and the girls to Disney again. I volunteered to stay with Olive, but Des said she was not feeling well and didn’t want to leave Olive! We returned and we conquered!

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