Wednesday, June 30, 2010

On the Road

I'm sorry to do it, but I'm afraid I have no photos from today's escapades to share with everyone.  I'm spending the night at my mom's and her computer won't recognize my camera.  It's funny, actually, because she has the same camera I do!  (hmmm... maybe that's the problem...)  I'll be home in plenty of time to share some of my fun tomorrow.

However, I hate to leave you high and dry with nothing to look at, so here are some pictures of a storm that blew through here about a year ago.  It actually went south of us - missed us completely - but the light show was incredible! 

It started about 1:00 am last summer.  My husband and I were on the deck talking about how clear the sky was.  I decided to grab the camera and see if I could get pictures of the stars.

Add the missing star behind the cloud and you have the Big Dipper.  :)

Then the clouds started getting in the way

And I noticed that they were moving a little too quickly for the long shutter speed.

So - I decided to try a side view instead....

The clouds were very cool... and hey, is that lightening??

Wow!!  Yes it is!

Let's do it again!

Now, before you freak out, I have to tell you that this was so far away that we didn't hear thunder at all that night.  Just so you don't worry.  ;)

So what about a different angle...  I moved the camera to look toward the right and...

I love the stars that are clear as a bell in the upper right there.  

It was so cool!  This went on for nearly 45 minutes.

And I was snapping away the whole time....

Y'All - I was jumping up and down when I captured this one.  haha!

So much fun!

I'm just glad I didn't have to get up early the next morning.

Much love to all,

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Ok, I need your help. 

I posted last Saturday about Pioneer Woman's Photography Assignments.  They are contests, and I love a good contest, but they are also "assignments".  They help me focus on something and get creative. 

Her theme this week is "Americana".  While that's appropriate for the 4th of July, I'm trying to find ways to express the theme other than flags and fireworks.  There are a few photos I have that work fairly well, but I've been cruising around town looking for more.

I said I need your help:

1)  Outside of flags and fireworks, what just screams Americana to you?

2)  Here are some of the pictures I have submitted and am contemplating submitting.  I can enter up to 5 photos.  Which do you think I should enter?

I already entered this one.  Yes, it's a flag, but I was so proud of the processing, I had to!

An old small town church
Log cabin from the Kansas prairie.  How Americana is that??

Roasting Hotdogs and Marshmellows!

Taken just yesterday - Hay Bales in a field

My new interpretation of Red, White, and Blue.
So chime in!!  What do you think I should do?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

BUGS!!! (yuk!)

I read Pioneer Woman's blog.  I love her!  Every little while she has a photography assignment for those who follow the photography portion of her site.  The most recent one was "bugs", so I went out to look for some!

None of my photos were winners this time.  Don't worry.  I'm not hurt.  There are a lot of professional photographers who follow her too!  I still loved it and enjoyed seeing the pictures everyone sent in.  I could spend hours looking at all of them.

Here were my entries in the bug category - all photographed right here in Topeka, KS.

Bee on a Flower

 Firefly in the Daylight

Sunbathing Butterfly

(this is now my desktop on my computer)

Have a wonderful Saturday everyone.  :)

Friday, June 25, 2010

Sunset Outing

I went out last night with the goal of finding a great location to shoot a sunset.  I think I found one!  It's about 15-20 minutes from my home, so a little planning is involved, but not too much.

My checklist for the evening:
* Camera - battery already charged and the memory card in place
* Tripod
* Bug Spray!!  (evening is the time for mosquitoes and chiggers!)
* Water bottle
* Sunglasses (I spent a LOT of time staring straight into the sun....)
* Diet Dr. Pepper (never leave home without it!)
* Know what time sunset will happen (8:53 last night) - plan to arrive 30 minutes before.

I didn't take along anything to sit on.  Lesson learned!  I'm adding one of the camping chairs to my photography checklist.

Anyway, on to the photos.

Before the sun actually set, it gave everything a golden tone - especially refective things like water.

The marina also had such a great golden quality to it.

I was playing with the idea of having the sun "off-camera" but still have the sun's rays in the shot.

I love how there are "rays" (actually shadows) in the sunset.  I wish I had a greater zoom to capture it.  One of these days!  Of course, I could force zoom to get it.

Another lesson I learned is that the color in the clouds doesn't start until nearly 15-20 minutes AFTER the sun goes down.  (PS - don't you love those ducks?!?)

I was actually somewhat disappointed last night.  There weren't really enough clouds in the sky to get a ton of color.  Because of that, I spend most of the evening working on the reflections.

Then I decided to try a self-portrait.  I had the camera on a tripod already, so I just used the time delay and walked over into the shot.

Except my face was at the level of the horizon.  SO - I snapped up the legs of my tripod and set it at half the height.

After I got home, I thought that some of these would look nice if they were Black and White.

I left this one slightly colorized.

All in all, I was at the lake for about an hour and 20 minutes.  I definitely need to remember to take a chair next time!

I encourage you to explore your "backyard".  There are so many beautiful places that are close to home!  You just have to open your eyes and see them.

Much Love,

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Rising Moon

I originally went out to my yard last night to attempt to capture shots of the rabbits who love our yard.   I was lucky enough to catch this one, but it was the only good one I got.

So I did a "forced zoom".  Basically, since my camera couldn't zoom in far enough, and I kept scaring the bunny if I got closer, I zoomed in by cropping the photo on my computer.  This is the result.

It's a pretty good picture, but it's not as crisp as it could have been if I hadn't had to force it.

As I sat still watching rabbits and being bitten by mosquitoes, I became captivated by the colors in the sky....

 I took this first picture to document the light while taking pictures of rabbits.  I also thought the clouds were kind of nice.

Then I noticed the beginnings of some beautiful colors as the sun set behind me.

I just love the pink and purple... and a little bit of orange.  At this point, I went back to the animals and had minimal luck.  But the next time I looked back up, the moon had entered the picture.

The moon looked like it was stepping through the fog to show its face.  Completely enthralling!

As the sun set, the color began to fade.

Awww... how sad.  But I like the stripes the clouds are creating!

The entire time I was shooting this, I kept thinking the song "Bad Moon Rising" in my head.  I know - dork!

I also got nearly a thousand mosquito bites....  Does that count toward suffering for my art?  I think it should!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Open Eyes - Open Mind!

Of course, we know I've been working my way around the Mode Dial on my camera for practice.  However, just because I was in macro mode the other day didn't mean I had to stay there!

When I walked by this little opportunity, I had to shoot!

So - let's spend a moment today talking about composition.

First of all, I am not an artist, although I'd like to be!  But, the first composition/design rule I was ever told, and the first rule you read when you check out any books about photography, is the rule of thirds.  The basic rule is that you don't want the center of attention to be dead center in your photograph - that's boring.  It is much more pleasing to the eye and interesting to the viewer to have the subject off center.

To demonstrate, let me show you the first photo I took of this situation.

There are lots of reasons this photo doesn't work, but the first reason is the rule of thirds.  The sign is in the middle of the photo (or close to it) and it doesn't give the photo any movement.  Sometimes, I don't know why it doesn't work, I just know I'm not happy with it.  Luckily, on this day, I was thinking and remembered this little tidbit!

I also noticed that you can't see the soccer ball or the people all that well.  That's because I'm short!  So, I stood on my toes in order to see over the railing, and waited for a kick.

Much Better - don't you think??  :)

I felt a little rushed because people were starting to look at me like, "why are you standing around taking pictures of these kids?"  I don't need people thinking I'm a predator!!!

Anyway, here I'll show you a little more about what I mean with the rule of thirds.

Look at the "not so great" photo with a grid overlay that divides the photo into thirds.  (I did this in the Paint program, so the thirds may not be perfect... so give me a break about it.)

Notice that the sign is pretty much centered in the photo.  With the rule of thirds, you'd like to have the main focus of the picture under one of the places where the above grid lines intersect.  Notice the sign in the next picture...

See how the sign is placed under one of those intersections?  Also, the strongest line in the picture, the top of the fence, is close to the 1/3 line.  Not that they always have to be, but it does set up a better composition.

Let's look for another example of the rule of thirds making a photo better. 

What about these two different pictures of my youngest?  Which is the better composition?

I prefer the second photo for several reasons, but the rule of thirds applies here.  Take a look at where the intersections land on these pictures.

See how the face is right in the middle of the photo?  There's not really anything interesting under the intersections of the picture to draw your eye around the photo.

In this one her face is right under the upper left intersection.  I think you get the idea.

I hope you find this information useful.  I sure did!!!