30 Days of Photos – Day 7 Perspective

Sometimes one just needs to look up…


Day 7 – Perspective

My goal with this challenge to is to take pictures everyday and choose one to post for my challenge. Today was a bit more difficult in getting out with my camera, but at about 4:15 this afternoon ran out to take some pictures for our insurance agent and while doing that I looked up and saw a new perspective on this grain bin. In three quick shots, I knew I would have the picture I wanted. All I had to do was look up.

Canon Rebel T5i

Blessings to you, 
Laurie – Country Link

Picking Photos for a Contest – tips and suggestions


When deciding what pictures to enter in a contest, any contest, I first look through my images and pick out what I consider my favorites. They could be my favorite just because one of the kids are the main focus, or it could be a favorite because of the lighting or the angle at which it was taken. What ever the reason, start with your favorites.

Next, I look for if the image tells a story or not. This is where you begin to really look at the images you have taken and ask yourself if someone else looked at this, would they, #1 know what was happening, #2 be able to make a connection to it, and #3 appreciate the feeling that it gave them. Example: A pair of rain boots running through a mud puddle brings back memories and happy feelings for most individuals. What the image lacks is context to why the puddle is there and who is wearing the rain boots. A little girl in rain boots, running though puddles in a muddy driveway, with rain clouds in the distance, towards her daddy who is shutting a gate or getting off of a tractor, tells you more of a story and you can gather from the picture what has happened. (I wish I had an image just like this!) The individual looking at it will, #1 know that the rain had just come through by seeing the clouds in the distance, #2 make a connection in that they used to run through puddles or they still do, #3 leave with a feeling they will appreciate, be it the joy of childhood or the love between a father and daughter.

After you have determined if the image tells a story, look and see what the image NEEDS. Does it need to be cropped down a little so that you no longer see an old pile of rusty junk? Maybe the cat’s tail is seen in the bottom corner? What ever the case, crop and crop with a purpose! Some pictures can have too much sky or too much ground. Start by finding a balance and then come in closer to your focal area if you need to.


Cropped Original

Most contests for amateurs ask that only minimal edits be done. Besides cropping, I suggest sticking to contrast, color, saturation and highlights. All these can be done with using basic online programs like Picasa, Pixlr or PicMonkey. (Picasa is my favorite to use.) Any one of these basic edits only enhance what you have already captured in your image. Changing the scale for contrast can deepen the colors and add more depth to your picture. Increasing highlights can lighten certain areas just enough to give the photo more light, which can lead to more detail being seen.


The picture on the left is the cropped untouched/out of the camera photo. Using the Highlights, Shadows and Color Temperature scales, I was able to make slight changes so that the colors stand out a little more and the temperature of the picture is warmer. Can you tell there is a difference?

When it comes to what pictures to put in what contest categories, then I suggest this; adhere to what the description say. If the category is “Faces of the Farm”, have a face in the photo. Be it a face of a new-born baby calf, faces of a young farm family or the faces of a grandfather and grandson working side by side, make sure you can see their faces. Now there is room for interpretation in all instances. Just be mindful of what they are looking for and if your image fits that. On occasion I have had a photo that I feel fits more than one category. In that case I just go with my “gut” and put it where I feel it fits the best for me. (Or you can ask family and friends for their suggestions.)


*Using this picture as an example, here is how I determine what the story of the photo is and where it would fit into a photo contest. Context: It is fall harvest time. Connection: The truck, the standing corn in the background and the shelled corn stalks in the foreground. Feeling: Joy in the fact that the older generation is teaching the younger generation. Category: Farmer’s Life

The last tip I am going to give you deals with naming your photos. I find this the hardest part of picking and submitting photos! (I really do!) What help I can offer is to keep them short and sweet and to the point. For the above photo I have titled it, “Teaching the Next Generation”. Simple, yes. Very imaginative, not really. Does it do the trick and help to bring the story of the picture full circle, you bet ya!

I do hope this helps those of you who are going to be entering photo contests. There are several contests out there and I encourage everyone who reads this to submit a photo or two. What better way to show-case not only your talent, but your passions as well. Agriculture happens to be a passion of mine and it is my goal that who ever sees my photographs knows that above all else.

If you have any questions or if you want me to cover something else, please let me know by leaving a comment below. I always like hearing from readers and hope that you can make a connection to the things that you read here.

Blessings to you and best of luck,

Laurie – Country Link

*Disclaimer time: Let’s face it, I am just one person who happens to have an opinion on this subject. I am sure you can find others with a different opinion and they would be just as right or wrong as I am.

Focus on Missouri Agriculture – Photo Contest

Here it is the end of May and we are in the season of MUD. Mud is everywhere here in north Missouri. Our road is muddy, the fields are muddy, the pig pen is muddy and the spot where my garden should be is muddy. What do you do when things are this muddy? Focus on what you can do, not what you can not change.

This photo not only depicts what today’s cattle drive looks like, but also brings back the days of long ago when cattle drives were happening all across our country. This photo tells a story.

So focus we will! Today I want to focus on photos and how they tell the story of agriculture. All year-long as we tend the fields, care for the livestock and harvest the crops, I have a camera with me to capture it all. Why, you ask? The images I take not only serve as a reminder of what we have done through the year, but also serve as a connection to the land, the animals and each other. The stages of growth are captured. The compassion for life is captured and the beauty of what is all around us is captured. My camera connects others to this life and helps to tell the story of agriculture.

Are you a shutterbug like me? Do you have pictures upon pictures of farm life and work happening on the farm? Have you been to a you-pick berry patch lately and photographed your harvest? Maybe you love to photograph the diverse landscape of rural Missouri and have pictures of a beautiful sunset or a scenic farm stead? Do your photos tell the story of agriculture? If so, enter your photos in the Focus on Missouri Agriculture photo contest. The annual contest put on by the Missouri Department of Agriculture to promote and showcase Missouri’s No. 1 industry.

In its sixth year, this contest has yielded thousands of photographs capturing the diversity that is agriculture in the Show-Me state. The deadline is June 15th, (that gives you 15 days to get your pictures submitted!) and is open to any amateur photographer who is a resident of Missouri. Kids ages 12 and under are also eligible to enter pictures! They have a special category, “Children’s Barnyard“, for the youngest shutterbugs.

“Dad making bales” – This is Wyatt’s entry in the Children’s Barnyard category in 2014. The Children’s Barnyard winner and honorable mentions all receive a canvas print of their photos. 

Having entered the contest for the past four years, I encourage anyone I can to enter a photo or two or even 12, (the maximum number you can enter). To me, entering is a different way to get my pictures to a greater audience. Maybe someone will see my picture and feel connected to it or recall a happy memory. If I place as a category winner or even an honorable mention, than great! If I don’t, that’s okay too. Just entering pictures ensures that others will see them as the Department of Agriculture not only uses the winning photos, but others entered for promotion, social media campaigns and for educational purposes.

Now, you know all about the contest and I provided the link, so what are you waiting for? Don’t let a thing like an astronomical amount of pictures slow you down. (Trust me! I know the feeling!) Don’t think for a moment that yours are not good enough. All types of amateur photographers have entered and you can too! Would it help if I give a few tips? Come back on Wednesday and I will have tips and suggestions on how to pick, edit and name your photos for contests. Then you won’t have any excuse for not getting your pictures submitted!

Until Wednesday, blessings to you and all who have a passion for telling the story of agriculture,

Laurie – Country Link

*Disclaimer time: I was not asked by anyone to do this post. I have enjoyed entering the contest the past four years. I feel blessed to have had photos be category winners and honorable mentions. I want others to participate in this contest as well so that Missouri Agriculture really can be show-cased for all to see.

Farm Photography: Fences and Fence Posts


I love farm photography! I have no idea if that is even a real thing, but 80% of the photos I take are on or of a farm or of farming practices. Having recently attended The Gathering Conference, a conference dedicated to Agriculture marketing, branding and photography, I became inspired to share with you more about the photography that I do and ways that you too can capture the simple beauty around you.

Fences and Fence Posts: Every farm (or neighborhood) has them, right? Some will tell you it is to keep certain things in. Some will tell you it is to keep others out. Whatever reason you have for having fences, have you ever taken pictures of them?

Fences show up in my photos from time to time. Sometimes I am trying everything I can do to not have a fence in the background or not have a fence post coming out of the back of someones head I am trying to photograph. Other times I am hanging off of a fence to get the best angle and or vantage point for what I am wanting to capture. One beautiful morning last week, I grabbed my Canon Rebel T5i and headed out to “capture” fences and fence posts.

Now fences are pretty easy to take pictures of: Reason one) They don’t move, Reason two) They form a line for your eye to follow. This morning I was not in search of an awe-inspiring photo, but looking to perfect what I know I can tell my camera to do. I chose to leave the house with only my 50mm lens. I have had it for a while now, but have not really tried it out. Best. Decision. Ever!

One of the things that was heavily discussed at The Gathering Conference was Aperture. My 50mm lens has the highest Aperture of any of the lenses that I have. It has an f-stop of 1.8. Now, I am not going to try to explain this to you. What I am going to do is show how the Aperture can effect the look and feel of your photos.

Here is an example of two different Apertures. Both were taken with the same camera and lens using the manual mode on my camera. The only thing that changed was the camera setting for the Aperture and the ISO. (We will have to talk about ISO another day.)


A. f-stop 11.0, ISO 6400                                                                         B. f-stop 1.8, ISO 200

Can you see the difference?

What do you like about Photo A? What do you like about Photo B?

I prefer Photo B because it has a softer background and your eye is drawn just to the fence post. (Which by the way is made from a hedge tree and has been on this farm for probably more years than I have been alive. Well close any way.)

Photo A you see not only the fence but the trees in the distance and even the cows that you could not see in Photo B. (Yes, there are cows in Photo B. Trust me!)

Most of the time I like the look and feel of Photo B, but there are times that a lower amount of light needs to be let into the camera, thus the need for a lower Aperture like 11. Yes, this is why I did not want to try to explain this to you. Big number means little in the world of Aperture. When would you need a “lower” Aperture? When you want to have a sharp, clean image of everything you are photographing, just like in the next image.


f-stop: 22.0, ISO: 3200

Here are a few more examples of how I used Aperture to blur the background in my pictures. (The official term is bokeh, not blur. Just so you know!)

The theme Fences and Fence Posts was not one I came up with on my own. Myself and other attendees of The Gathering have decided to share pictures on our FaceBook Group centered around a theme. This little idea got me out taking pictures so that I could improve on something that I love doing and for that I am very thankful!

Blessings to you and all who have a fence or two,

Laurie – Country Link

*This is a very simple explanation to Aperture and how to get the desired affect you want for your images. My biggest suggestion is to read your camera’s manual, switch your camera mode to manual and just start playing with the different settings. Getting the image you want takes skill, yes, but it also takes the desire to know what it is you are telling your camera you want it to do. 

Farm Picture Friday #54 – Small Packages

Farm Picture Friday #54 - Small Packages  COUNTRY LINKed

Last Saturday ended up being a pretty good day here on the farm.  At first I was not for sure how it was going to go.  You see the wind was blowing like crazy, it was cold and we had cattle to work.   Mama cows and baby calves all had to be brought in off the corn stalks they were enjoying eating so that they could be checked, vaccinated and poured.  I was not worried about the cattle at all.  We know to take our time and be careful with the ladies and they in turn are calm and easy to handle.  I was more worried about having three small helpers.  Three small helpers who were going to want to help, but because we still had (and have) corn to harvest, we were needing for things to go smooth which in turn makes things go quick.  In the end it was all because of three small helpers that we had such a good day.

The plan was to work the cows in the morning and then after lunch work the baby calves.  We had everyone moved through the chute and back together by 12:30!! (Just the right time to enjoy the chili that had been cooking in the crock-pot all morning.)  After working the cows, which our oldest, Wyatt, helped with, I gathered up the girls and told them it was their turn to help. Let me tell you, help they did!  I had a very proud farm mama moment when the girls got right in there and helped with the calves.  They were just the right size that the baby calves actually moved better for them then me and Gpa.  The kids walked behind the calves and gave a little push every now and then.  I wish I had a picture of all three of the kids helping, but I was lucky to get this shot of just Wyatt for today’s Farm Picture Friday.  Photography is not allowed when there are jobs that need done.  (Which means don’t have a camera in your hand when you are supposed to be working.)

Just goes to show you that sometimes the best help can come in small packages.

Blessings to you and all small packages,

Laurie – Country Link

Farm Picture Friday #53 – That’s It

Farm Picture Friday #53 - Country Linked

As the farmer climbs up on his grain truck, he is reminded of this past year and all that it took to get the soybeans in the truck.  He reflects back on the harsh winter and the wet spring.  He will never forget the drought again in July and the flooding in September.  He is thankful for all that the good Lord has provided, for things could always be worse.  He lets the soybeans fall through his hands as he checks their color, size and weight.  For he knows, that’s it.  He has produced another crop and the Lord willing, he will do it again next year.

Blessings to you,

Laurie – Country Link

*There are many things that are made from soybeans.  To learn more, go to the United Soybean Board and check out their 2014 Soy Product Guide






Farm Picture Friday #52

Farm Picture Friday #52 - Beginning

Today’s Farm Picture Friday I decided to give it the title, Beginning.

Each day brings us a new beginning and how we approach that beginning is up to us.  May you have a wonderful start to your beginning for today.  May you remember the little things that make life great and may you push aside any doubts that might make you forget the promises in a new day.

Blessings to you,

Laurie – Country Link

Farm Picture Friday #51 – Inspection

Farm Picture Friday #51 from Country Linked - www.countrylinked.wordpress.com

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to pluck up that which is planted.  – Ecclesiastes 3:1-2, KJ

Blessings to you and to those who are harvesting,

Laurie – Country Link

Country DIY Canvas Project

Country DIY Canvas Project

We have a blank wall in our bedroom.  This wall has been bare for five years.  FIVE YEARS!  It is my fault, really it is.  I could not decide what I wanted to put on it.  I knew that as soon as I did decide there would be no going back.  So I waited…………………………………………………………………..and today the wait ended!  YEA!

With a bit of time and very little money, I made my own pictures on canvas.  I first got the idea from Pinterest and have done this before.  My first project I used 8×10 pictures and canvas.  I also used an old window to then frame the canvas pictures that I made.  Very cute and easy!

This project was basically the same, expect I did not have a window big enough for the blank wall I have been looking at for five years.  After combing through all of the pictures I have taken the past couple years, and that was a LOT of pictures, I settled on eight that I wanted to use.  From there the rest is easy.

Country Linked Canvas DIYSupplies needed:

  • 11×14 in. Stretched Canvas
  • Mod Podge
  • Brown Acrylic paint (your choice of color)
  • Foam brushes (a 1 and a 4 in brush)
  • Ruler
  • Cutter or scissors
  • 8 11×14 pictures (these were my favorites and ones I knew I would love seeing every day)



Step one:  After gathering all of my supplies, I found a large flat clean surface to work on. First I painted the edges of the canvas.  I chose brown because all of my pictures are sepia color.  I made sure that I came over the edge and on to the front of the canvas.  This is just in case the photograph is smaller than your canvas.


Step two:  While the paint was drying I got the picture I wanted to use and cut it to fit the canvas.  All of my 11×14 photos were just a bit bigger than the canvas.


Step three:  Apply Mod Podge to the front of your painted canvas.  This acts also as a glue and will adhere your photo to the canvas.  Place your picture and press down. This is where painting over the edge helps.  If you were just a little off on your cutting, it will not be seen because of the paint.  Once you have the picture in place, apply the Mod Podge all across the front and sides of the canvas.  Don’t be worried that it has a milky look.  Once it dries it will be clear.  I used a 4 in. foam brush to apply the Mod Podge and I applied two coats to each canvas.  Be sure that the first coat is dry before you apply the second.


Step four:  Once everything is dry, decide on an eye appealing arrangement.  I laid the pictures down on the living room floor to make my arrangement.  It took a bit to get the pictures in the right order.

Country Link DIY the finished look.  www.countrylinked.wordpress.com

Step five:  Hang and Enjoy!  There are many ways to hang your canvas.  I chose to use metal hangers on the back of mine and then place them on the wall with a nail.  If I had the chance to run to town, I probably would have used the 3M command strip products.  I use those for many things.

What do you think?  Fun, right!  Easy, right!  Since I did have eight to do, this project did take most of an afternoon to do, but the results were so worth the time!  (All of the photos used for this DIY project were taken by me.) 

Have fun making your own canvas!

Blessings to you,

Laurie – Country Link

*Check out the link that inspired this project, it is fantastic! http://www.literallyinspired.com/2012/02/picture-perfect.html

*By typing in “Make your own canvas picture” in Pinterest, several links were found.

This post was linked up to the following blog parties:

Farm Picture Friday #50 – Change

Farm Picture Friday #50 by Country Linked


I love this picture of the Country Link Kids. They have grown, changed and developed so much in the two years of this blog.  When COUNTRY LINKED was started, two of them were in school full time and the littlest one was only 3 years old.  Now they are all in school and this farm mama is home, by herself most of the day.

With all of the change going on right now, from the changing of the seasons to the change in routine, now seemed like a good time to reflect on my blogging journey and the look of the blog.  We all evolve and change so why not a blog?  Welcome to the changed COUNTRY LINKED!

*I hope you notice the new blog header.  It was designed by the lovely Erin Enhel.  She does fantastic work if you need design work done or photos taken.  Thanks Erin!

Blessings to you,

Laurie – Country Link