Sunday, March 21, 2010

March 20: DBG in Spring

Owen and I took a trip to the Desert Botanical Garden yesterday. It was a beautiful day, I wanted to get Owen (and myself) out of the house for a while, get some exercise, and I wanted to see the butterfly display they had before it got too hot. We had a great time! Owen wasn't visibly excited to see the butterflies, but I can tell he was intrigued and enjoyed the trip as a whole. The Garden sets up a tent (kind of like a green house) with lots of flowers and they release (or hatch maybe?) a bunch of butterflies. You get to walk around in the tent with the butterflies, so you get to see them up close, and occasionally they'll even land on you. It was interesting how many people were out with some fancy camera equipment.

You can see the rest of my pictures from the trip on my Picasa site.

From Desert Botanical Garden March 20th, 2010

155mm, f/4.0, 1/125s, ISO 100, no post-processing

  • I picked this photo because there were 3 butterflies and I liked the colors.
  • I think this is a bit bright. I used aperture priority mode and didn't play around with the settings on the camera because I mainly wanted to make sure that Owen had a good time. I didn't want to ignore him too long playing with the camera.

From Desert Botanical Garden March 20th, 2010

200mm, f/4.0, 1/250s, ISO 100, no post-processing

  • The Garden also has some Alan Houser statues exhibited throughout the walkways. This one struck my eye before we got close to it on the trail. I've heard a few different people say that you need to be creative when photographing other people's art, otherwise it's just their art, not yours.
  • I like the perspective of seeing her from afar, mixed in with the vegetation.
  • This may be improved if I cropped it to use the rule of thirds (instead of having her right in the middle of the frame).

Friday, March 19, 2010

March 19: Tomato Harvest

I left work a little early today, and WOW, it was beautiful outside! So I knew I had to do something outside. I knew a lot of the tomatoes in my garden were ripe (and some were overripe), so I decided to harvest all of the red ones. I definitely have way too many to just eat plain, so I'm planning on making some sauce. But before I cut into them I wanted to take a picture (or a bunch of pictures!). Since I missed posting yesterday, I'll post two today. Some of the others that I took are in the Runner's Up album.

From Runners Up

50mm, f/3.5, 1/50s, ISO 100, no post-processing
  • I took this in manual mode because I thought aperture priority was making the pictures too bright.
  • I like how this shows both the cherry tomatoes and larger ones (I don't remember what kind I planted), the bowl, and a bit of background, but not so much that there's any distractions. It doesn't do the best job of showing just how many tomatoes I had, which is partly why I wanted to take the picture.
  • I wish that just a tad bit more was in focus, say the three tomatoes that make up a triangle in the center of the picture.

From Runners Up

50mm, f/2.2, 1/125s, ISO 100, no post-processing

  • For the second batch of pictures I put the colander on it's side and arranged the larger tomatoes in front of it. I was going for a cornucopia kind of a look. I had a hard time choosing which picture to post here.
  • I like this one because of the colors and the fact that only the one tomato in front is in focus. I also like that the colander in back is so out of focus it just looks like a plain white background.
  • You may notice at the bottom of the photo you can see the tile edging up on the left. That could easily be fixed by slightly cropping the photo, which I havn't done so you can learn from my mistakes. :-) The same applies to the bit of shading at the top right corner.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

March 17: 2nd attempt at multiple exposure layering

  • Ug. I'm not happy with today's outcome, but hopefully I've learned some lessons and know what to try next. I tried taking two different exposures and layering them in Picasa (under the Collage feature).

From Runners Up

  • I set the camera on the table and tried very hard not to move it to take the two different exposures. That worked better than the last time, but I am unhappy with the other aspects of the picture.
  • I tried taking two VERY different exposures and combining them. Then I even increased the shadows on the darker picture, which I think helped with the background (and suprisingly didn't seem to have an effect on the bottle itself). Next time I will try exposures that aren't so far apart. I think I specifically washed out the bright picture too much, leading to the lack of color on the table.
  • I will probably also try a different background next time. There may have been too much contrast in this since I got more sky in the picture than last time.

Here are the original two pictures if you're curious:

From Runners Up
50mm, f/2.2, 1/60s, no post-processing
From Runners Up

50mm, f/2.2, 1/1000s, increased the shadows a lot in Picasa

Well, live and learn! I may just determine that I actually need to buy Photoshop to do anything fancy like this (Picasa doesn't allow for as much adjustment as Photoshop), but I'm not willing to fork over that much money right now (I would need the professional edition). You can get it for cheaper as a student, so once I'm ready I'll probably take a class just to get it. :-)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

March 16: Remake of Rose in Sepia

So I'm kind of cheating today. Ok, I'm not just kind of cheating. I am cheating. I didn't take any photos today. Thought about it, but didn't feel inspired enough to get out the camera. But I was reading on the about great black and white photos. So I thought I would go back to some of my old photos and see if any would look good in black and white. I started to sift through ones that I thought didn't look that great in color, but figured out that could take a while (I have a lot of not-so-great photos :-) ). So I checked out my recent Rose picture, which I really like because of the color. It was ok in black and white; I actually like it better in Sepia:

From Runners Up

  • Black and white (and sepia, as well) pictures need to have good contrast. This has pretty good contrast, except in the rose petals themselves. So I upped the shadows in Picasa on this one.
  • A lot of people commented on the reflection in the water in my original post. I think in this version it is a bit distracting.

When I started this project I wrote that I didn't plan on doing much post-processing. But here I am with two posts in a row where I did major changes in Picasa. Hmmmm...

Monday, March 15, 2010

March 15: Champagne

This is a bottle left over from our dinner party last night.

From Runners Up

50mm, f/2.2, 1/160s, ISO 200, no post-processing
  • I wanted to play with under and over-exposing a shot in front of a bright background, so I used manual mode with this.
  • This is the best shot I took in that it was somewhere in between being able to see the details on the bottle and not completely overexposing the background. I was disappointed with the result, and then I remembered that I noticed a superimpose option in the Collage feature in Picasa:

From Runners Up

  • Superimposing is something that I thought I had to have Photoshop to do, so I was super excited when I noticed this feature in Picasa. It is probably better in Photoshop, but Picasa is free afterall. :-)
  • Obviously this is something you need a tripod for, but you can see if the pictures were lined up how much better the result is than the first picture! I am definitely going to play with this more.

Mar 14: Baby Felicity

I am writing this a day late because Sunday was a fairly busy day. Ultimate practice in the morning, 12:30pm mass, home for a nap, then prep for, and the actual, dinner party. Our friend Emma who moved to St. Louis, and who recently had a baby, was in town, so we invited her and some common friends over for dinner.

From Runners Up

50mm, f/1.8, 1/20s, ISO 1600, no post-processing
  • Obviously not a very good picture, mainly because there was not enough light to get a fast enough shutter speed, and I didn't want to use the flash, as Emma was trying to get Felicity to sleep. But I wanted to capture at least some pictures.
  • I am bummed at myself for not getting the camera out earlier in the night (this was almost towards the end). Earlier I would have had much better light, a happier baby, and more subjects to shoot as well. I really need to work on remembering to get the camera out.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

March 13: Overgrown

I'm back! Well, at least for today. I'm feeling pretty good today, but I'm not quite out of the 1st trimester yuckiness. I'm in my 14th week, so any day now I'll get over it. Today is a beautiful day here, so I spent some time outside.

One of the blogs I read raised the question of whether or not you can take a good picture of chaos. I was thinking of that as I looked at my very overgrown garden. We've had rain at least once a week for something like the past month or so, which is pretty unusual for us. So I haven't even had to water my garden in quite a while. And since I've been feeling crappy, I haven't done any cleanup of the garden. The lettuce and brocolli has grown past the eating stage and is flowering. It's pretty neat to see what happens to them after they fruit.

Anyway, I think the answer to the question is that the only way to get a good chaos picture is to have one area of focus. Which, by definition, is a bit hard with chaos. So I didn't get a good picture that truly shows the chaos of my garden right now, but I was happy with the pics I did get.

From Runners Up

185mm, 1/250s, f/4.0, aperture priority, no post-processing

  • I like the mix of shadow and sun light leaves in this, it adds some interest to a some-what boring plant.
  • It took me a while, but I am finally remembering that if I have trouble focusing with my 70-200mm lens that I need to change the switch on my lens that adjusts the focusing for close distance versus long distance (<>3m).
  • And since I'm so delinquent, here's some other photos from today's shoot. Here is what so much rain produces: Lots and lots of WEEDS!

From Runners Up

185mm, f/4.0, 1/250s, aperture priority, no post-processing

  • Those are weeds. All of them. We are going to use a lot of vinegar on our yard this year.
  • I liked the effect of the old pot and new growth.
  • I tried using manual mode on this, but with the bright sun I couldn't see the readings in the view finder. I could use the screen on top of the camera, but I was having trouble aiming at the same time. Anybody have a trick they use??

From Runners Up

144mm, f/4.0, 1/1250s, aperture priority, cropped

  • This obviously isn't in my garden, but the rose did come from a plant of mine. (Which, funny, enough, soon after I took this picture, Keith came home with a dozen roses! Isn't he sweet?) I put this on top of our grill (with a black cover) so that I could get the blue pool in the background. I love how that turned out!
  • Since the rose is white a lot of my pictures did not have enough contrast between the petals. Which is why I chose this one and cropped it.
  • I was hoping to add a vignette to this to try it out, but apparently Picasa doesn't have that feature. Boooooooo.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Feb 20: Try on clothes weekend

Owen was in the mood to try on clothes this weekend. Today he went through all of the pajama tops and pants in his drawer and wanted to put them on, then off right away (something like 10-12 of each). Good thing I am a patient person. I looked at it as a learning experience for him, although I'm not sure I am looking forward to the day when he can take off his own clothes. :-)

I didn't get any pictures of that today, but yesterday I got some pics of him trying on Daddy's shirts.

From Runners Up

50mm, f/1.8, 1/100s, ISO 800, cropped a little
  • I deliberately angled the camera a little, which I think turned out good.
  • I changed the custom functions a few days ago to move the auto focus from the shutter button to a button on the back of the camera. That works well if you're taking repeated pictures of a non-moving subject, but no so well when the subject is moving toward or away from you (as was this case). I think in this case I caught him standing still for a second.

Just wanted to note that Owen doesn't actually use the "paci" very much, and not as a consolation. He occasionally finds it and sucks or chews on it as a toy. I'm ok with that since I know he's not hooked on it. It may become a problem when he sees his little brother or sister using it, but we'll see.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Feb 16: Crock Pot

Today we brought out the crock pot for the first time in a long time. I'm not sure why we don't use it more often. We made a turkey breast with vegetables.

From Runners Up

50mm, f/1.8, 1/50s, ISO 640, warmed the color temperature in Picasa

  • I couldn't get a perspective that I thought was all that great, but I thought this had good detail. I wanted to show the pot in some way, since the way we cooked it is significant.

Feb 14: Happy V-Day Nana!

This is a few days late, as I have been incredibly tired lately. For those of you that havn't heard, I'm pregnant! I'm still in my first trimester, so I'm tired and queasy almost all day long. My blog will probably be spotty until I feel better (and probably after that too!). But I promise I'll make up the misses come September. ;-)

Nana came over on Sunday to take Owen home with her, and she brought him a balloon.

From Runners Up

50mm, f/1.8, 1/125s, ISO640, no post-processing

  • I probably could have cropped this to get rid of some distracting elements, but I like it this way.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Feb 13: Will U be Mine?

It's been a while since I've taken a bunch of photos of Owen, so today I pulled out the camera while Owen was being playful. He knows the camera well, so sometimes he just sits there posing for me:

From Runners Up

50mm, f1.8, 1/60s, ISO 200, no post-processing

  • I can't decide if this would have looked better if his entire face was in focus or if having only one eye in focus draws your attention better.
  • The focus is probably not the best, but I was working at close quarters (this is not cropped), so I thought this came out pretty good. Although I wish Owen's nose was a little cleaner! :-)

I'm including a bonus picture today because I want to document what Owen did next. He pulled me upstairs to his bedroom (it was getting close to his nap time), and then did something similar to what he did last night at bedtime. He wanted to get in his crib, and demanded that I give him pretty much everything in sight, which he just threw into his crib saying "my book" or "my fishie". It was pretty funny! I used it as an opportunity to make him tell me what he wanted, instead of just pointing. After his crib was pretty full I told him it was time to put everything away, so I took him out of the crib, and I put everything away. Then we read a book and he fell happily asleep for his nap.

From Runners Up

50mm, f/1.8, 1/125s, ISO 640, no post-processing

  • I stood up on a chair to try and get the effect of everything in the crib, but 50mm wasn't wide enough to get more in the picture.

I have posted other photos from today on Keith's picasa site.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Feb 12: Valentine's and the globe

I was very lazy yesterday. Thursday night is the one night we watch tv (The Office and 30 Rock), and all I felt like was sitting in front of the tv and relaxing. So two photos today.

From Runners Up

50mm, f/1.8, 1/60s, ISO 1000, no post-processing

  • Perhaps a couple of days early, but I was excited that Owen exchanged Valentine's cards at school, so I took a picture of the extras. I love celebrating the holidays, even (or maybe especially) in perhaps kiddish ways.
  • Not much to say photographic-wise. I like that the Grover card is out of focus, but still readable.

From Runners Up

50mm, f/1.8, 1/60s, ISO 1000, no post-processing

  • I took most of my globe picture horizontally, but I like how this one came out.
  • I put down the blinds on the window next to the globe to reduce the glare, but it's still pretty strong in this picture.

The globe reminded me today was the opening ceremonies of the Olympics, which I am watching right now. I love the Olympics!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Feb 10: The Storm is Coming

Today was a bit of a rainy day, although we really only got short periods of light rain, probably not measurable. I think I've mentioned this before, but I love the weather. So I decided to see how the clouds would look through my zoom lens.

From Runners Up

100mm, f/8.0, 1/160s, ISO 100, no post-processing
  • This turned out a bit darker than reality (I think I underexposed it a touch), which is kind of the effect I was looking for.
  • I was using my 70-200mm lens, so it's interesting to note that the picture I ended up using was not actually zoomed that much. This gives you more to look at. I took a few pics with some trees in it, and although they were probably more interesting, I decided that was not the effect I was going for.
  • I was a little worried how the focus would come out, as it was hard to tell when the clouds were in focus (using manual). That's when I realized that I should close the aperture (from f4.0 to f8.0) so that I would have more wiggle room for the focus.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Feb 9: Bougainvillea and other backyard things

I must apologize to all you loyal readers out there, I've been missing a couple of days. Sunday was the Super Bowl, and since we had some friends over, I was too distracted to take a photo (I thought about taking a picture of them for the day's post, but I'm not sure what they would've thought about that. :-) ). Monday I wasn't feeling good, and actually went to bed before 8:30pm. So I'll post a few pictures from today's jaunt into the backyard after work.

From Runners Up

50mm, f/2.8, 1/1600s, ISO 100, no post-processing

  • I played around in manual mode again, and tried some spot metering versus matrix metering. For photos where the main subject is different from the rest of the picture, the spot metering seems to be helpful, but I still tried under and overexposing to what the meter said. I guess you just eventually learn what you want out of a picture and learn how to expose it correctly.
  • I started off taking pictures into the sun so I could practice exposing for the subject and overexposing the background. That didn't work with this shot, I'm guessing because the background was actually dark. But I do like the rays of sunshine coming in from the top right corner.

From Runners Up

50mm, f/2.5, 1/160s, ISO 100, no post-processing

  • I'm not sure why this has a blue tint to it, but I like it.
  • I probably should have cropped this so that the diagonal wood in the middle of the frame doesn't go directly into the corner (a big no-no according to my photography teacher).
  • I think I took this photo horizontally, and the camera automatically made it vertical. I like it better vertical.

From Runners Up

50mm, f/2.8, 1/100s, ISO 100, no post-processing

  • Not sure why I like this, it's just a bunch of rocks, right? I guess it could make an interesting background for something.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Feb 6: Happy Birthday Emma!

Today was the birthday of our good friends Matt & Melissa's daughter, Emma. It was held at Gymboree. I wasn't sure what to expect, but it ended up being a room full of play equipment and toys for babies/toddlers. The party itself was actually run by an empoyee of Gymboree. She led games and songs and the general play, which was really neat. Owen enjoyed himself, although he didn't always get into the group activities. It was also pretty funny to see/hear the amount of cameras in the room, most of them actually DSLRs. I brought the 50mm, so I'll be doing a lot of cropping when I post the other pictures. We got a few cute photos, as I'm sure the other parents did, so it probably ended up being a very well documented party!

Of course my picture of the day has to be the birthday girl herself, and what better picture than the cake! It's funny - everyone expects the kid to gobble up the cake and make a mess, but that doesn't always happen!

From Runners Up

50mm, f/3.2, 1/250s, ISO 800, cropped

  • I once again wimped out and used aperture priority mode and auto focus instead of manual. I knew I'd be taking a lot of photos and didn't want to miss some shots, but I should've tried manual for at least a few minutes.
  • The stuff at the top is a bit distracting, but I left it in because I wanted to show Daddy's hand so that we can see what Emma is looking at.

I'll post the other pictures from the party once I get around to doing all the cropping.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Feb 5: Shrimp with bok choy and peaches

I didn't have any plans for my photo today until I saw dinner. Keith bought some bok choy, something we have only had once or twice before, so we looked online for a recipe. It tasted okay; the various elements didn't seem to go together. Keith didn't really like it at all. But, to be fair, we did saute it instead of grill it and had to make some ingredient substitutions.

From Runners Up

50mm, f/2.2, 1/60s, ISO 640, no post processing

  • I've paid a lot more attention to pictures I see in print media since I've been more into photography. I really enjoy looking for new recipes (more than actually making them), so I pay close attention to food pictures. Most of them seem to be fairly shallow depth of field with only part of the food in focus. They also tend to include some of the background (out of focus) and/or some kind of prop.
  • I increased this from f1.8 to f2.2 to get a little more of the food in focus. I also made an effort to include the fork in the picture.
  • I'm pretty happy with how the picture came out, although I'm disappointed in myself for changing it to aperture priority mode instead of playing around in manual (I was half being lazy and half hungry).

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Feb 4: Cherry tomatoes

I took more pictures of the cilantro flowers, but thought they only came out slightly better than yesterdays, so I didn't think they were worth reposting. I saw the various colors of the cherry tomatoes, so I snapped a few shots of them before Owen and I ate all the red ones up.

From Runners Up

50mm, f2.8, 1/125s, ISO 640, cropped in Picasa

  • I'm not a big fan of the composition of this one. I like it better as a vertical, but I wanted to include some of the other tomatoes in the background to show more variety in color.
  • Used manual mode & focus again this time. I tried the spot metering mode, which did show me the variations between lighter and darker spots on the photo, so it did help me decide on the settings.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Feb 3: Cilantro Flower

I decided to keep with the garden theme, and thought the cilantro flowers looked nice:

From Runners Up

(I'm trying something different again today; I'm embedding the image from the Picasa Website. Hopefully this will make it bigger in the blog.)
200mm, f/5.0, 1/160s, ISO 640, cropped and made darker in Picasa
  • I want to go back and try this shot again (maybe tomorrow). I did this completely manual again (mode and focus). I underexposed this from what the meter told me, and yet I still felt like I needed to darken it. I think it's the effect of having white flowers on a dark green background.
  • The focus is also off on this. Some of the leaves look good, but only some of the flowers look good. Although I can't really tell the difference between being out of focus and washed out. Tomorrow I'll try uber-underexposing this to see how it comes out.
  • I probably also had the wrong lens on the camera for this. Tomorrow I'll try the 50mm and get up close. I don't have a macro lens, so no matter what I use it probably won't look that great. But I'm doing this to learn lessons, so perfection is not the goal! Yet! :-)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Feb 2: Tomato

I wondered around the backyard after work before it got dark to take a picture. I was checking out the garden:

(I'm trying something a little different today: I think if you click on the image you can see a bigger version.)

192mm, 1/80s, f/5.0, ISO 640, no post-processing

  • I took this using both manual focus and manual mode. I took several of the same thing: regular exposure per the camera, under exposed and overexposed. This is underexposed, which to me looks much better than the regular exposure.
  • The leaves on the right are a bit distracting, but other than that, I like the picture.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Jan 31: New Year Fest Day 2

I am posting this a day late because I had technical difficulties yesterday - Picasa wouldn't let me save changes to my photos because the hard drive was full. I can't imagine why it's so full - it's not like I've been taking a ton of pictures lately. Oh, wait. I guess I need to do more deleting of pictures that I don't end up using.

So Sunday was the second day of the tourney. I actually only was at the fields for the finals - Phoenix (our home team) vs. San Diego. The bad guys ended up winning, but it was a great game, and I am so proud of Sprawl:

116mm, 1/1250s, f/5.6, ISO 400, some cropping
  • I was up on the hill a good distance away when I saw they were taking team pictures. I didn't feel like moving, so I took it from where I was. I kind of like the different angle and not having everyone looking right at my camera (I cropped out the actual photographers).
  • I had already put away my camera, so I pulled it quickly out of my bag and started shooting (this was not the only pic I took). Apparently I kept it in sports mode. Not sure I needed the 1/1250sec, but everyone is in focus, which is key!
  • What are the chances that everyone was smiling at once??!! Must have been a happy group! Congrats, Sprawl!

No picture for Feb 1 - I was too busy uploading pics from this weekend on FB, and now am too tired. I can't believe I've made it through a whole month already!!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Jan 30: New Year Fest 2010

Today we had our local annual Ultimate Frisbee tournament. As I still can't play due to my knee, I tried to document the day with pictures. The ladies that I am a captain for had two teams, so I spent time watching both of them plus the local guys' teams.

187mm, f/6.3, 1/1600s, ISO 400, sports mode, cropped

  • For those of you that don't play Ultimate, this is called a layout. This is a really good layout. I love the fact that I was able to capture the timing of this, but I am disappointed with the focus. Auto focus in sports mode really seems to be fickle. The uncropped version had a lot more of the car in the shot, so I guess that's why the camera chose it to focus on. If anyone has suggestions on how to avoid this, I'm all ears.
  • I was surprised that I only took ~160 photos today considering sports mode usually takes 2-3 shots at a time (it keeps taking shots as long as you hold down the button so you make sure to get good timing). I wish I took more. (The rest of the good ones can be found on my facebook page).
  • I made a conscience effort today to get more of the sideline action. Ultimate is exciting to watch, but unless you have some great layouts or jumps, not very exciting in pictures. I wanted to get more "people" shots. I think I did fairly well on that point.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Jan 29: Potted Succulent

I came home early from work today. I had my important work done, was tired, and just really didn't feel like being at work on such a beautiful Friday afternoon. So I did something I haven't done in a long time - took a nap outside! It was nice curling up on a blanket in the grass in the sun. There were lots of noises, but I was able to fall asleep for 30 minutes or so. One of the noises I heard was the hummingbirds, and I awoke to one at the feeder. I had taken pictures of the hummingbirds at the feeder before, but was disappointed with the color. I later figured out that it was because they were in the shade. Today the feeder was partly in the sun, but the hummingbirds did not cooperate - the only pictures I got today were of them in the shade. So I'll try again some other day.

As I was taking those pictures I realized that I would need to overexpose the picture in order to get details of the hummingbird, so I changed the settings to Manual (another thing I hardly do!). When I figured out that the hummingbirds weren't going to cooperate, I started playing with underexposing and overexposing other things in our yard.

127mm, 1/50s, f/4.0, ISO 400, manual mode, matrix metering

  • There's no way to tell after-the-fact (at least I don't know a way) if this was one that was over or under exposed (compared to what the meter told me). This one came out the best.
  • The colors are somewhat bland, but I love taking pictures of this pot. I've done it before and probably will again!
  • I should probably take out the mark at the top left, but for now I am leaving it in. What I really should have done is do some "gardening" (as my photo teacher would say) while I was shooting, and moved whatever it was.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Jan 28: DVD player

Keith was excited to receive our new purchase today, so he suggested I take a picture:50mm, f/1.8, 1/60s, ISO 1250
  • I had to use a desk lamp for extra light, and I was limited to where I could put it. I perhaps should have tried moving it farther away so that the wood of the shelf looked better.
  • I tried some pictures straight on, and some with the tray open. I like the angle on this.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Jan 27: Magazines

I was lamenting to myself today about how I never take the time to read magazines much anymore. If I have extra time and Owen's awake I usually spend it with him. After he goes to bed I spend my extra time on the computer. Looking at the magazines on our rack, I thought they might look interesting in black and white.

50mm, f2.0, 1/125s, ISO 500, converted to black and white in Picasa
  • I was right about liking it better in black and white. I think it makes it less busy.
  • I'm curious what this would look like with everything in focus. Having one magazine completely in focus and the main thing you see might make it easier on the eyes, but that might not be the point of the picture.
  • I had to move around a bit to make sure I didn't get glare coming off of the magazines.
  • Now, to go read!! Probably the latest Rangefinder, which actually isn't pictured. (Keith gets The Atlantic; I included them because I thought the headlines were interesting. It may have actually been more interesting if it was all Atlantics.)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Jan 26: That Tickles!

Another normal day today: work for Keith and I, school for Owen, then some play time, dinner, and then a little play time before bath & bed for Owen. Owen and Daddy fit some tickling in there at some point:

50mm, f2.0, 1/50s, ISO 1250, matrix metering, aperture priority, light bulb white setting

  • I'm not sure why I'm afraid to go to 1600 ISO, but I am. I had to turn on two lights to get enough light to do this, and it's still pretty soft, especially since they are moving. But I also want to avoid the flash. The light in this picture seems harsh enough as it is.
  • I need to do some photos away from our house. Taking pics here is starting to become somewhat of a chore. Keith suggested I take the camera to work. We'll see about that, but I will be out and about this weekend a bit.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Jan 25: Choo choo!!

I didn't have much time today since I had practice, so I looked around the family room for something to photograph.

50mm, f/2.0, 1/60s, ISO 1600, aperture priority, matrix metering

  • I ended up liking the vertical orientation on this, as it included less of the background and more of the feeling of a track. I tilted the camera to get a sense of movement.
  • I tried using a smaller aperture to get more depth of field, but the lighting was not sufficient to hand hold. I tried a few setting the camera on the floor and using the timer, but then I lost the tilt and vertical that I spoke of in the first comment.
  • Keith has noticed the orange tint to a lot of our indoor pictures. I need to play around with the white balance and color temperture settings.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Jan 24: Owen and Toolman

Nana and Toolman (our nickname for Keith's Dad so that there isn't two grandpas) came over for lunch today. We gave Owen to Toolman after lunch so that Owen would fall asleep for his nap (it works every time!!). Owen looked really cute wearing Toolman's hat, so I grabbed the camera and took some shots.

50mm, 1/100sec, f2.0, ISO 250, no post-processing

  • I chose this picture because I thought Owen's expression was unique. There's some other good ones in the Runner's Up album.
  • I took a few where I focused the shot on Toolman, hoping the Depth of Field would be enough to get Owen in focus as well, but at f/2.0, it wasn't enough. (There is more DOF behind the point of focus than in front of it.) But I knew that it was important to get the main star (Owen) in focus, so most of the pictures have the focus on Owen's face.
  • It might be better to crop this to get a closer look at Owen's expression, but I kind of like seeing all of Toolman and more background.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Jan 23: More tomato

Today Owen and I were checking out the garden, when we found two red grape (or are they cherry?) tomatoes, the first red tomatoes of the season. Perfect! One for him, one for me. As soon as he tasted it, he quickly said "mo tom-toe" (more tomato). Well, those were the only red ones on the vines, so later we came inside to eat some we got from the store. But before that we took a look at the other vines (larger tomatoes, but I can't recall the type right now):

50mm, 1/50s, f3.2, ISO250, some cropping, matrix metering mode, aperture priority mode

  • I just now realized this was at 1/50s, slower than my usual rule of 1/60sec or faster for hand holding (without IS). If I had realized that I would have turned up the ISO even more, but this was somewhat of a spur-of-the-moment shot (which it usually is with kids!).
  • If this was more of a planned shot, I would have also played with the exposure. Because of the dark background and the matrix metering, Owen's hand looks a bit overexposed (at least on this monitor). The tomato might also look a bit better if I underexposed a little.
  • I can't wait for "mo [red] tom-toes"!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Jan 22: Blown Out Candle

I almost didn't take a picture today, as I was in the mood to get things done, and since that hardly ever happens, I didn't want to waste it. I got the things done that I wanted (including putting away Christmas decorations - now you know what I mean when I say I hardly ever get things done), and thought of an idea, so I went for it. This was the last decoration to put away, so this symbolizes the end of the Christmas season (yeah, I know that was weeks ago!):

50mm, 1.3sec, f/1.8, ISO 1000, manual mode, camera set on the table using the timer, no post-processing

  • To get this shot I lit the candle, started the timer on the camera, then right before it was going to shoot, I blew out the candle. I wanted to catch the smoke drifting up. The room was dark with some light coming in from another room.
  • I took a lot of pictures before this one for the setup. The focus is not the greatest, and I wish I had moved the camera so more of the smoke was in the frame, but I didn't want to take even more pictures because I was afraid the fire alarm would go off. (No, seriously.)
  • I learned a very important lesson today. When I was taking this picture in aperture priority mode, it kept being really dark. I finally figured out that with the timer, the camera records the exposure when you first start the timer (when I had the candle lit), NOT when it takes the picture 15 seconds later (when I had blown out the candle). So I tried not using the timer, but the picture came out too shaky. And then I had a revelation...MANUAL!!! I've been so stuck in aperture priority (it really does work for most shots), that I hardly ever use manual. I really should change that.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Jan 21: Wind!

Today was a very interesting day weather wise (as I write this we have a tornado warning in effect). Lots of rain and wind. Earlier this week I wanted to capture a picture of the rain, so today I wanted to play with a slower exposure to "capture" the wind.

116mm, f/8.0, 1/8s, ISO 400, aperture priority mode, hand held with image stabilization, no post-processing
  • I knew using a tripod would probably be best, but I wanted to test out the IS on my lens to see how much movement it would capture. I thought this turned out pretty good for 1/8sec.
  • It was difficult finding something interesting to take a picture of that fit my criteria: has both something that does not move (to show that I had the camera still), and something that was moving with the wind. I thought this worked pretty well.
  • I had some problems with my other pictures because I was shooting through dirty (and in some cases, wet) windows. This was taken from our second story window.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Jan 20: Hot Cocoa

No rain today (although tomorrow is supposed to be a doozy), but a bit colder, so I sat down for a nice hot cup of cocoa:

50mm, f/1.8, 1/320s, ISO 1250, matrix metering, aperture priority, changed to Sepia in post-processing
  • Ok, so really I partly made the cocoa just to take it's picture. And then I stood up taking the pictures until it got lukewarm. You can see the whipped cream has melted pretty good. I did enjoy it afterwards, even though I messed up and didn't put enough cocoa mix in. Ug.
  • I took pictures of exactly this in the past and was really disappointed with how they came out. So what did I change this time? NOTHING. I really need to think things through before I start shooting. I should have played around with the metering and moved the cup to a different location, maybe added some other props, etc. I guess I was in a hurry because I didn't want it to completely cool off.
  • The good news is, I finally found a picture I like in Sepia! Although I think I lost some of the details of the whipped cream and chocolate shavings, I think this looks better than the original picture and the black and white version.
  • My next equipment purchase (which will probably be a while) will likely be something for macro shooting. I couldn't get as close to this as I would have liked.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Jan 19: Rain

Yep, it's raining here in the desert. Having been in Phoenix my whole life, I love the rain. So of course I made it the focus of my pictures today.

200mm, 1/30s, image stabilization, f/4.0, ISO 400, aperture priority mode, no post processing
  • I had a hard time picking today's photo (surprise, surprise!). It was between this one and one of rain drops on a window. The runner up is probably the more interesting picture because of the sun catcher, but I felt like this one focused more on the fact that it was raining.
  • It might look neat blown up as a background for something. I'll have to try that.

The forecast is for rain all week, so I might play around with this theme a little more.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Jan 18: Another day of P&S

Since I had to download the pictures from this weekend from the point and shoot, I decided to take today's picture with that camera as well:

5.8mm (37mm equiv), f2.6, 1/200s, cropped slightly

  • Since I don't know my p&s camera very well, I am frustrated with not knowing how to change the settings, but no willing to learn at this point. So I tried to get creative with composition. Not really sure if I succeeded here, although this is an angle you're not likely to view a bathroom sink at very often.
  • The picture quality is not so wonderful. I can't figure out how to tell what ISO the camera used, but that's what I'm going to blame (plus a cheap camera).
  • Maybe one of these days I'll do a P&S week to force me to get creative and learn the settings, but for now I want my DSLR back!!

Jan 15-17: Santa Monica

I'm back! Not that you missed me. Well, maybe some of you did. Anyway, this weekend the family packed up and went to Santa Monica so my husband could play in an Ultimate Frisbee beach tournament. Owen and I had fun on the sidelines. I was so busy with the logistics of getting there on Friday (a 6-7 hour drive), that I forgot to take a picture. My first no picture day!!! :-( Plus, I decided against bringing the good camera, so these pictures are with our Canon Power Shot A520 point and shoot. It was frustrating not knowing how to play around with the settings, so it kind of killed my creativity. So my pictures turned out pretty much like a normal tourist. Here's the one from Saturday:

16mm (equiv 114mm), f4.5, 1/400s, cropped slightly

  • This is a good example of why the rule of thirds works. Too many people put the horizon in the middle of the photo.

  • In deciding which third (the upper or lower) to put the horizon, decide which is more interesting, the foreground or sky. In this one it is obviously the foreground, since the sky was washed out.

  • The sand was more interesting here because it was taken near sunset and had lots of shadows. If this was taken at noon it would not have been anywhere near as interesting.

Sunday's photo:

5.8mm (45mm equiv), f/4.0, 1/500s, cropped
  • Sunday was cloudy, which I think helps with the colors in this photo.
  • Since the focus is on the kids, I went for a crop that I've never tried before 5:3 widescreen.
  • Not the best photo artistically, but it does sum up what I did for the weekend - play around with the kids on the beach! (That's my son Owen on the left.)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Jan 14: Cookbooks

I waited until after Owen went to bed to take any pictures today, so I looked around our kitchen for something quick, yet interesting, to take a picture of. We have a shelf of cookbooks that I thought might be made to be more interesting in black and white.

200mm, 1/25s (with image stabilization), f4.0, ISO 1600

  • I'm intrigued by how some "normal" things can look more artistic when taken up close or put in black and white. I took some other pictures that included the whole books, but I didn't find them as interesting. I guess it's what's left out of the picture that makes it interesting in your mind's eye.
  • I haven't played much with B&W. I've seen a lot of pictures lately in Sepia, but I haven't found one of mine that I like with that tint (it's a tan color).

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Jan 13: Neighborhood Collage

Owen and I went for another photo walk this afternoon after I got home from work (but before everyone else got home from work - I feel funny walking around the neighborhood taking pictures of other people's houses/yards with this huge lens). Here is the result:

  • This is obviously not just one picture, but it is one .jpg, so I don't consider it cheating. :-)
  • I felt like some of my photos had a theme or "feel" to them, so I felt like they needed to be seen together. Then I noticed the "collage" feature in Picasa, so I thought I'd try it.
  • The neighborhood is actually quite nice, so please don't judge it by just these pictures. I don't know the neighbor that has the "No Trespassing sign" in his front yard, and I'm not sure I want to. I thought the weird mailboxes were interesting, and I was a bit surprised they were allowed by the HOA.
  • I just realized that I also took a good picture of an old Ford truck that I should have included as well. Oh, well. It's too late to fix it now.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Jan 12: Old Man Cactus

Owen had a fever again today (took him to the doctor - ear infection), so I was home in the morning. I happened to look out the window to see the "Old Man Cactus" (I think that's it's actual common name, I'm not making that up) in our backyard backlit by the sun. This was taken around 9am:

70mm, 1/1000s, f4.0, ISO 200, aperture priority mode, matrix metering mode, no post-processing

  • The backlighting looks ok on this, not quite what I was hoping for, but decent.
  • I did not have my lens hood on for this shot. I wasn't thinking about lens flare, which I obviously should have been (lesson learned there!). I want to play around with deliberately trying to achieve lens flare, so I don't mind that it happened in this shot.
  • I took some shots in landscape orientation, which really didn't look good. When your subject is up right like this is, portrait orientation is the way to go. That's why most people shots should be in portrait orientation (duh, that's why they named it "portrait"!). I have to remind myself that all the time.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Jan 11: Lines and curves

First off, Keith noticed that sometimes I title my blog with "Day #", and sometimes with the date. I'm back to date now. Not that you even noticed.

Today Owen was feeling under the weather (maybe just teething, hopefully not something worse), so I had to take him home from school. I figured he would like a ride in the stroller (and a trip to the playground), so we went on a photo walk. I took mostly pictures of houses in our neighborhood or their yards. Lots of interesting things if you're looking for it. I had a hard time picking today's photo. At first I was going to go with one of the boring old flowers, but I figured I could take a picture of flowers almost any day.

121mm, 1/60s, f/4.0, ISO 320, aperture priority mode, matrix metering mode, no post-processing

  • This photo isn't too exciting color wise, but has lots of different lines, curves and textures.
    My photography teacher had us do an outing where we specifically looked for lines and curves. It's pretty neat what you can find. I posted the result of that class here.
  • It kind of felt weird taking pictures of other people's houses, I felt like I might be intruding. I was glad I had my long zoom.