Saturday, July 31, 2010

Moments to remember

There are some things I want to be certain I never forget....

Like these eyelashes.

From Just Another Girl with a Camera

Or this caring heart that has to nurse the puppy back to health.

From Just Another Girl with a Camera

I wish I had known more about photography when the other children were little.  And I wish the others were as willing to have their pictures taken!!!

From Just Another Girl with a Camera

Exhibit A

Have a wonderful Weekend!


Friday, July 30, 2010

Pictures on Amusement Park Rides

So, most of the rides at the park on Tuesday didn't allow us to take pictures during the ride.  That's probably for the better as I don't want to risk dropping my camera or having it banging around a lot.

BUT - on the slower rides, it was a great opportunity!  I learned something about taking these on the first ride we went on.  Sit in FRONT of everyone!

Here's why - the first go on the ride, I sat behind my kids.... 

Luckily, grandma and grandpa sat behind me, so I got a good shot of them!  :)

I like this photo!  It's a good shot of them both and I love the motion blur behind them.

I'll warn you though - even though this was a very tame ride and I was able to take pictures while it was going, puting the camera up to my eye then pulling it away made me dizzy at times!  If you do something like this, please be careful!

Much Love,


Wednesday, July 28, 2010


We went to a theme park yesterday with the kids and Grandma and Grandpa.  My middle daughter, who has a summer birthday, asks for this as a present from the Grandparents - I think it's a great idea!

So today, I'm exhausted!  It was hot yesterday (upper 90's Farenheit) and we walked a LOT!  We had a great time though.

At one point in the day, when my energy was fading, I looked up and saw this.  It made me stop and breathe.... Whew!  I needed that!

The sky is such an amazing canvas!  This lasted about 30 seconds, then it was gone.

There will be many more pictures throughout the coming week.  But for the moment, I'm tired!  Mom, I hope you got some sleep!!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


I don't know what it is about it that appeals to me, but something does....   So many old buildings that are left to fall apart - they just seem so lonely to me.  I just want to rescue them like lost puppies.

I saw this one when I was out yesterday.

Or these old farmhouses...

You can see where the porch used to be, and the back kitchen that was added on.  Someone lived here and had memories - maybe they had children that grew up here....  These are the thoughts that go through my head.  I wonder if they were pioneers who came to the prairie to find a better life.  Do you think they found it?  Questions like these are what beckons me to pull over and take the picture and to stare at it every time I drive by.

I hope that the places I love so dearly will not be left to crumble when I'm gone.  But truth is, in a century, maybe two, no one will even know (or care!)  Our existence on the earth is so temporary - it makes you reflect on what's really important in life.

Much Love!


Monday, July 26, 2010

Crafts at the Farmers Market

I stopped by a small Farmer's Market this morning at the local library.  I'm actually going to cook something for my family!  Ha!  (I don't dislike cooking necessarily.  I just don't enjoy it enough to do it every day....)

Anyway, it made me think of this little gem that I took about a month ago.  The downtown Farmer's Market that happens on Saturdays has several fine arts and craft vendors as well as live music.  This man's booth had bird houses made from cowboy boots that had lost their mates.

I gave it a little bit of texture in the processing to give it a Western feel.

Much Love,


Saturday, July 24, 2010


Yesterday, my daughters and I went to play in the water at Echo Cliff Park.  Here is the cliff that gives the park it's name.

What is stumping me, and where I could use some advice, is this:  How do I capture and convey exactly how big this cliff is?  It's giant - and randomly in the middle of nowhere!

I can't move too far back because the creek is down about 10 feet from the surrounding ground level.  When I get close enough to NOT get the opposite ledge in the shot, I cannot capture the entire cliff.  If I move back enough to get the entire cliff, I capture the ledge on the opposite side of the creek as well as a lot of foliage and it loses it's intensity.

Seen here:

I tried to get this shot while there was a man sitting on the cliff to give it some proportion, but it's so large, you can barely see the guy...

See him???

There he is!

Here are a couple more tries:

My daughters are here as well as two adults climbing the side.

Ugh.... needs to be crisper!

I zoomed in on the girls a little here.

They look so tiny!  One is almost 4 feet and the other is 4 1/2 feet....  getting so big so fast!

If you have any ideas for me, or suggestions, or whatever, please leave 'em in the comments below - and thanks!

Much Love,


Friday, July 23, 2010

Echo Cliff Park

Sorry for the late post today, but I think the wait is worth it!

This afternoon, after a long search for a piece of my tripod (which we found laying UNDER the actual tripod in the back seat of the car!), I took my two lovely young ladies to Echo Cliff Park.  I posted about it once before here.  It is located SW of Topeka, KS just at the county line.

Thank you Google for the lovely map.  :)

My previous visit, I stumbled upon the park in the middle of the day - say noonish or maybe slightly after.  SO - today I attempted to catch that "golden" evening light.  I wanted to leave with the girls around 4:30 for the 30 minute ride there, but wound up not leaving our neighborhood until nearly 6:00.  The sun was still plenty high, but down in the holler it was already almost too dark! 

One of these days (maybe tomorrow??) I will get the timing right!  Luckily the girls enjoyed themselves greatly and want to go back.  But we insist (all of us, that is!) that we must leave by 7:30 - that's when the bugs come out.  (We stood patiently next to the car watching all the open doors as we counted the 3 [three!] very large horseflies that got in the car as we were trying to leave...)

So - on to some pictures!!!  (You'll notice I've added a copyright watermark to my photos because I've figured out how!!  I hope they are not too distracting, but after so many stories, I felt it was a good idea.)

Here, I tried to get as close to the water as possible.  There were several others that were better compositionally, but the aperture wound up being set way too high...

I think that last one is my favorite, but I'm not sure.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Learning to "See" a Canoe

Here are a few pictures that I took when I went out to the lake one day.  I decided the canoe on the shore looked interesting, so I thought I would try the "learning to see" excercise with it.

(Read this post if you aren't sure how to do the exercise.)

I won't bore you with the entire group, but here are some of my favorites.  (all unedited)

I think this one (above) was my favorite.  The canoe fills up most of the shot and even goes off the edge of the shot.  But the awesome curve draws you in and the angle of the shore in the bokeh and the ripples in the water give the shot some action or movement.

A few more

For this one, I decided to try a shot from the other side, so I walked out on a small dock that was right next to the canoe. 

I'm still watching the skies and hoping to take that one amazing landscape before my summer vacation ends.  I'm also trying to decide what to do with this blog at that point.  Once I'm back to work full-time and I don't have a lot of time to dedicate to photography, what will become of my blog that I've grown to enjoy?  Also, how will I continue to improve my photography?

Some options I've thought of are:

* a photo a day - except on school holidays or weekends when I could actually do more!!  :)

* analysis of "famous" photographs - what makes a good photo?

Any other thoughts?

Much Love!


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Secret to Good Landscapes (I Think...)

Ok - I've been obsessing over landscapes this summer.  You probably already know that I've been checking out library books, researching online, studying others' photographs, etc.


I think I found my answer!

The reason why my scenics (landscape photographs) are just so-so and not "fabulous" as I think they should be........   Are you ready?  It's the clouds!  Or to be more specific, the sky.

I had checked out a book by Bill Smith entitled Designing a Photograph.  In the section he had about scenics, he stated,

" Photographers on location spend a lot of time waiting for the sun and clouds to be perfect."

As much as that seems to be obvious, that explains why there are many times I feel that my photos have fallen flat.  The composition is good, I've waited until the "golden light" is available, etc.  but nothing can duplicate the wonderous beauty that God provides in the sky!

Yesterday afternoon just hammered home the point to me.  I wish I had noticed the clouds a little earlier.   I stepped out my front door just in time to see this amazing sight.
The texture of those clouds are fabulous!  And just look at that light!!!

Unfortunately, the problem was my timing.  When I zoom out, you will see the problem.

Our part of the state spent most of the afternoon and all of the evening under a stationary front.

As I was taking these shots, I was starting to feel sprinkles and could hear thunder.

Here's a shot as I turned around and looked over my rooftop.

The storm was already upon us.  Nice for the rain, the crops, the temperature... but not so great for photography, unless you want photos of rain.  (which we actually didn't get a lot of...)


Back to my original point - Could you imagine the awesomeness of a photograph that was well thought out, well composed, had a great scene AND had a sky like this??

THAT is my goal!!  I still have a couple of weeks before my summer "vacation" is over and the school year resumes.  Now that I know what I'm after and what I'm looking for, I hope I can capture at least one real stunner before the summer is out!

Much Love,


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Art Lives in my Kitchen!

Yesterday, I told you I had spent time this weekend attempting artful still lifes in the kitchen.  I'm still working on it....  But this one was fun!

I started by pushing a chair up next to the table.  I then took my blue jacket and hung it up on the chair, backwards, and put the back of the jacket on the table. 

Then I dug in my spice cabinet for anything colorful.  Here are a couple of the results:

Again, like yesterday, I should have used the tripod.  The exposure wasn't super long - 1/13 of a second - but it was enough to blur several shots that would have been good otherwise.  Like this:

Darn it!  Use the silly tripod, Tiff!  *sigh*

You better believe I will next time!!

Much Love,


Monday, July 19, 2010

Playing with Still Life

I spent Saturday playing around in the kitchen trying to create some fun still life images.  (It's too hot to go out shooting until after dark!)

I used some silverware and a blue jacket as a backdrop.  I didn't use a tripod and should have!  When will I ever learn?  I didn't want to hassle with it, but over half of my photos are not usable because they are blurry.

Here are a couple of the successful shots.

I love how art is everywhere if you search for it!

Much Love,


Friday, July 16, 2010

Downtown lights

I'm taking many pictures today, concentraing on trying to create some still life photos.  I'll be certain to show them to you soon.

In the meantime, here is a photo I took the evening I went downtown to take pictures of the capital building.  I had to use the tripod as the exposure was 30 seconds. 

I haven't done any editing to it, but there's something about it that I like.  I'm not sure if it's the star-shaped patterns of the lights or the color.  Maybe it's both.  What it has done, however, is encouraged me to go out and take more pictures of things at night!! 

Much Love,


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Experimenting with Focal Length

I just learned something about choosing the lens length for a photo.  It was a little bit of a "duh!" moment, but here it is.

On my camera, I have an 18mm - 55mm lens.  This means if I turn the zoom all the way to the right, I get a wide angle shot.  It takes in much more of the surrounding area if I don't walk up close to the subject.  The 55mm setting will bring the subject closer too me and allows me to "zoom in" on the subject and cut out unwanted elements from the photo.

Here's what I just learned.... Don't shoot me just because I'm a little slow!!

When I set the camera at the 18mm setting, the background seems farther away.  When I change to the 55mm setting, the background seems so much closer.

Here are 3 shots of my husbands car (all SOOC).  The car is parked in the driveway and I didn't move anything except myself.  I moved forward or backward to fill the frame with the front of the car.  See the difference??

18mm ~  see how stretched it seems from front to back?

35mm ~  seems so much more "normal" here.

55mm  ~  now the car seems short and the trees in the background seem so much closer.

Once I figured this out (just this past weekend), I began to actually think about it when I decided how far to zoom for a shot.  Remember this one from Tuesday?

I purposefully set the lens at 18mm so it would look like the sidewalk went on for a long way.  Before this, I would make decisions based on what I thought it should look like, but I didn't know why.  It's so nice to be able to make a decision and be able to articulate the "why?" of that decision!!  Yay!

Much love,


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Exercise - Learning to "See"

I checked out a new book from the library this week, Learning to See Creatively: Design, Color & Composition in Photography by Bryan Peterson.  In it, he suggests doing this exercise several times on several different subjects.  I think it's a great idea!  It really opens your mind to imagine the posibilities when you look at an object.

Here's how it works:

* Select a subject - anything will do

* Set the focal length to a setting, like 35mm, and don't move it for the remainder of the exercise.

* Begin shooting from a distance.  Have the subject in the shot and lots of area around it with "stuff" - background, whatever.  Take a shot.

*  Take 5 steps forward and shoot again.

*  Take another 5 steps forward and take a shot.... continue taking a shot every 5 feet until you are so close that the entire subject will not fit into the frame.  (Take that shot too!)

*  Then, when you are close, take a knee and shoot.

*  Lay on the ground a shoot.

*  Lay on your back and shoot up!  Climb on the object, or up a ladder and shoot down.

*  Shoot high, shoot low, shoot fast, shoot slow.  You get the idea - but don't change the focal length.

This exercise is all about finding the interesting angles to shoot of everyday objects.  This could also be very interesting with people (which is what I plan to do next time!)

For this time, I chose a slide at the park.  Here are the pictures in order (SOOC):

Then I laid down on the slide and looked up.

Set the camera on the slide and shot....

The girls decided to help.  :)

Standing on the slide.

Again, all images are SOOC and were shot at a 35mm focal length.  Go out an experiment - see what happens!  :)  Have fun! 

Much love,