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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A Winter's Tail

The kids used to love when I take photos that tell a story and when they were smaller, they'd set up scenarios such as climbing a jungle gym, hanging off, then dropping out of frame and when they'd look at the photos later, they would make up a tale about how they blew off or flew off.

One of the things that makes a great photo is that it tells a story, one you can read in a single frame.  When you can capture a whole story in one shot, it's wonderful, but sometimes you need several.

Here is one I took during our rare snowfall this year, I call it 'A Winter's Tail'

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


I picked up a Holga lens turret from photojojo for myself at Christmas and have not had much chance to play with it, so I got it out for the surprise snow we had this week!

If you don't want to spend $40 on a toy for your camera and you have a tablet or phone that takes photos, try the PicArt app, it's free and does a pretty good job:

The main things is to keep shooting, get out of that winter rut and have a little fun playing around with images.
Or, at least that's my plan!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Dead, Simple

I recently got to play with my 2 favorite models, this time on the night of Halloween when our other plans quickly became soggy.

Since they are both literally 'sugar and spice' type girls-so super sweet and full of life-I decided to play around with making them ghoulish.

I know ZERO about make-up, despite doing up the kids over the years for various plays.  That mostly involved a little eyeliner and sometimes full face paint all one color.  Once, I spent a week of dress rehearsals and performances coloring lips green for a showing of Oz.  That's been about the extent of it, even when I get all dolled up, it's mascara and lipstick, maybe some powder if I am too shiny.

So, when I say this is easy to do, I mean it.  I put white face paint on their faces from the 'all in one' kit that you can get at Dollar General or Wal-Mart, used the sponge and dipped it in the black and then green grease paint for C and the black and red for B.  I dabbed it around their eyes and their mouths  A little fake blood-straight from the tube in the same kit-and we were done.  I used black crepe paper and white gauze bandaging for covering their eyes and the background is a navy fleece blanket thumb-tacked to the wall.

I put the camera on a tripod and got my assistants to shine flashlights on their faces.  The camera was set at ISO 100, shutter speed 1/20, auto white balance.

This is a pitchfork right out of the rainy front yard-hey, we live on a farm-and I blurred (in Photoshop) her face.
Not thrilled with the shadow on her jawline, but that's the thing about playing around-seeing what works.

In all, a very fun evening and some wonderfully creepy shots of the girls!  It's all about capturing memories!

Friday, October 25, 2013


In the past I have used disposable waterproof cameras for the few times I have really wanted a photo in a water-based situation.  When I visited my best friend in Cayman, when we went whitewater rafting, a couple of trips to the pool when the kids were first going off the high dive and so on.  I decided at the first of this year that I really wanted a dedicated waterproof digital camera and started looking around.  We hike in creeks, go behind waterfalls, swim and paddle around pretty often and I miss getting shots I want.

I was lucky enough to borrow one from a friend for another trip to Cayman and fell in love with it.  It was an Olympus Tough, which unfortunately did not mean 'tough enough to survive after you open the little door underwater'.  The one thing I did figure out is that it will go into the 'lock' position but be bumped open instead of latched.  I wish that one thing were different.  Still, I killed it the day our plane left for home, so I had 7 days of wonderful memories that it did capture. And my friend was almost comically gracious-more worried that I had missed some photos than that I had drowned her camera.

For the record, I rinsed it in tap water and packed it in rice, but it was done for.  When I bought a replacement camera the battery and SD card both failed to work despite the fact they were barely damp. We have saved a regular soaked camera by packing it in rice for a few days, so I was hopeful one designed to take a little more abuse might revive as well.

Things it DID survive were being dropped, going around in my pocket or down the front of my shirt (it's tiny!).  I put it on the top of an open trunk and then shut the lid on it once.  It sat in a hot car, it went through airport security, it went the full 10 feet below the surface and still functioned fine.  If you were diving, I'd look for something rated to deeper for sure, but even the disposable underwater cameras and $$ camera housings for regular cameras can't function much deeper than that.  Keep in mind that across the board, 10% of all underwater cameras and waterproof housing fails.  This makes going as inexpensively as possible a good goal unless you want to take professional photos-in which case you are probably not reading my photo blog!

For swimming, playing, rafting, snorkeling and pool time, this is a great camera and the older models that still come up for sale (like the TG-310) can be nabbed for around $100 and take great shots plus they have 'land' features and all kinds of fun settings, even 3D and panorama ability plus video!  When you are talking about a way to take fun photos, that's not a bad price.

Here are a few examples from Cayman-I realize the water clarity there lends itself to amazing photos.  I am anxious to see how well it does in 'local' waters, which are far more turbid.

Diving down to get an 'across' instead of 'above' shot.

Barracuda in the shade of the pier at Rum Point.  They were hanging out under the pier at Kaibo, too.


Super shallow Stingray City Sandbar

Jellies off Starfish Point


The Gamma, one of several wrecks just off shore that you can swim out to and explore.  This was just behind where we stayed, we went 3 times!

I also liked being able to take photos from the water for a different perspective

This was out in the maze of rocks at Smith Cove, a shot I would never have gotten with my regular digital.

And a 'my feet on vacation' shot!

 I liked that I could capture the local wildlife above or below the water line!

And I did not miss the sunset on my way in from a swim.

I would encourage you to play around with this new medium, the camera came with an underwater setting, I did not have to do anything to any of the photos to get the lighting right or make them more clear.  I did play with the ISO, generally stopping down at least one full stop, which you can do in the manual settings.  That makes the colors more crisp when there's enough light to accommodate doing that, as it will with any camera.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


It's that time of year-bonfires, campfires, burning leaves in the backyard or for the few of us who still have them, building a fire in your fireplace.  You'll want some shots to savor the memories, here are a few suggestions!  Try setting your camera to a low ISO to avoid any grain, the fire will give out plenty of light.

Back away and get some of the interaction, especially if there are kids!

Get some close-ups of the toasting going on.

 And a few over-all shots as the fire blazes up and dies down, the flames dance and make so many different formations.  Play around with settings and shutter speeds and even color filters until you can capture the movement.  It's not going anywhere, it's a great chance to get in some practice!

Getting in close to the coals and embers can make for some surprisingly colorful shots

Toasting a birthday marshmallow in the wood stove.

You can make the fire part of the scene, such as this sunrise bonfire welcoming the first sun of the new year with friends.
 A final thing to keep in mind:

Thursday, August 29, 2013

APC: Last Week

Day 29: Lucky
I am skipping out on the last week photos, we have had a horrible allergy season so far, I have not even left the house in 10 days.  I will shoot for doing the November challenge!
Update: it was pneumonia, I was super sick for 7 weeks.  Never want to do that again!!

APC: Week Three

Day 17: Exercise

Day 19: Lost

Day 20: Stairs

Day 21: Slow
Day 22: A room

Day 23: Yellow

Day 24: In the Background