Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Shutter Love Tuesdays: Sports

I will admit I dug in the archives a bit for this one. This is from our wedding trip to Mexico in 2007.

You really have to watch your back when playing a "friendly" game of water volleyball:

Show us the role of sports in your life here:


Monday, July 26, 2010

I Heart Faces: Purple

Purple is the name of the game over at I Heart Faces this week. I went back a bit in the archives for this photo of my niece, S, in her awesome purple snowsuit. Its kind of fun to remember all that snow from not too long ago while we bask in the hot summer weather.

Check out more regal coloured entries here:

Raw(e) Challenge: 2(6)

The challenge this week from Sailor and Company? Go into your 2nd folder of photos and select the 6th photo in that folder. I used my online folders on smugmug for this challenge, which is sorted by most recently updated.

Ironically, its another from the series I just shared:
This is SOOC. I had been intending to get a shot of K with some Mums for the grandmother's on Mother's Day. All she did was immediately rip the heads off the bouquet :)

what's your 2(6) shot?

Paper Mama: Absolute Favourite

How on earth do you pick your absolute favourite photo of your child?

I tried and tried this morning to comb through my photos and find one I hadn't already AW'ed, but I kept coming back to this one. I used it last week in an I Heart Faces challenge, and its the blog banner for my blog about K. So even though you have already been subjected to it numerous times, here it is again, because clearly, its my Absolute Favourite:

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

For more favourite entries, visit the Paper Mama, here:

The Paper Mama

And so as not to make your visit completely worthless, here are a few others from that same photo shoot:

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Two Moms Photo Challenge: Father and Child

I have shared this before, but I can't help but put it out there again for the "Two Moms" photo challenge, which this week is "Father and Child":

check out more great entries here:

Vote for Me Please!

Sorry I fell off the blogging wagon this week. I haven't felt the urge to pick up my camera much. I need to buckle down and make my way through Understanding Exposure I think in order to kickstart some new skillz.

If I could bug you all for a little shameless self promotion today, that would be just great. As mentioned last week, Paper Mama selected my photo of K with her stroller and dolly as the best for the theme "Favourite Toy". Every 4 weeks the top 4 photos are pitted against each other in a vote off for supremecy that month. So I need you, loyal readers, to vote for me please!

Follow this link to Chelsey's blog and cast your vote. We are #2 - Favourite Toy. thank you muchly! I promise to offer up some e-cookie goodness at the end of the week for all your love and support :)

And if you are so inclined and REALLY want me to win, I think you can vote daily. So check back often :)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Paper Mama Challenge: Action

This week at the Paper Mama, the photo challenge is action. It just so happens this week that K started climbing the chain ladder on the playground by herself - 18 months! She is such a monkey.

Here she is, in action:

Exposure Time:1/800
Focal Length:50mm (75mm in 35mm)

adjusted curves slightly in GIMP to increase contrast.

To see other kiddos in action, check out:
The Paper Mama

And I can't believe I forgot to share, but last week, The Paper Mama selected my picture of K with her doll Lulu as top pick for the challenge "favourite toy". Thank you Chelsea - I am extremely flattered! So I am proud to proclaim:
The Paper Mama

I Heart Faces: Over my Head

Over at I Heart Faces this week, the theme is "over my head". To capture this, I was drizzling flower petals above her so she would look up and smile ( you can see the speck of one just above and to the right).

Exposure Time:1/400
Focal Length:50mm (75mm in 35mm)

edited in GIMP - brightened and adjusted curves, ran slight USM

to see what else is above us, check out:

Shutter Love Tuesday: Faces

Shutter Love Tuesdays over at Trendy Treehouse this week is Faces. Love it!

Here is a recent fun one of my baby girl.

"Oh! I didn't see you there. Hello mommy"
Exposure Time:1/200
Focal Length:50mm (75mm in 35mm)

taken indoors with a LS. edited in GIMP to increase brightness, reduced reds, upped saturation and slight USM.

For more unforgettable faces, visit:


Monday, July 19, 2010

12 Weeks to Better Photos Week 7: Shooting Outdoors

All 12 lessons can be viewed here . This tutorial was originally offered through the 2 Peas in a Bucket scrapbooking/photography website. Show them some love here.

Week 7 is Shooting Outdoors
I will admit I was somewhat perplexed by what they were asking for this week. Since few lenses are "macro" lenses, I didn't really get the instruction. Regardless, here is what they asked:

Challenge: The Close-up
This week we're going to experiment with macro mode. The good news is that this is a great challenge to try with your point & shoot camera!

1. With your point & shoot camera -- We want to see the difference between macro mode & another mode, so simply take a picture of an object after selecting macro mode on your camera. Move as close to the object as your camera will allow. Then take the picture again in a different mode.

2. With your SLR/ dSLR camera -- If you have a lens with macro, use it! (Use a tripod for more control and ease of use.) Unfortunately, if you don't have a lens with macro, the macro mode setting will just give you a shallow depth of field for your photos. You can still take a photo using this mode, but it's not the same as having a lens with a macro. To compensate, you could try "imitating" a macro shot by taking a photo and then cropping it very closely in a photo editing program.

Here is the chain link on my complex swing set. I was drawn to the "S" for my alphabet gallery too, but then realized I already have a lovely S in the collection.

Exposure Time:1/1600
Focal Length:50mm (75mm in 35mm)
for perspective, here is the whole swing, complete with a toddler:
same settings

next up: motion!

Macro and Aperture: A field test

A few weeks back on a macro post, an interesting conversation emerged about what's the best aperture to use when shooting "macro" (I use quotations since I can't shoot true macro yet). An e-friend and resident expert recommends a narrower aperture (due to there being such a small space to focus when working with macro - most of the photo ends up being blurred), but if you are like me, you are addicted to shooting wide as possible for all the delicious bokeh.
So over the past week, I thought I would do a little experiment and shoot the same flower at slightly different apertures to see the result. I think its actually quite telling:
These are all SOOC.

Test 1: my normal aperture setting, f/2

I found it really hard to balance my settings and not blow out the colour at such a wide aperture. I lost a ton of definition in the flower because of this.

test 2: f/7.1

much easier to properly expose and get the entire flower head in focus, while still achieving some bokeh. I find it a bit too in focus though, to the point that the background is distracting.

test 3: f/5
getting better I think. still good definition, but still not quite enough separation from background

test 4: f/3.2
I think this is my favourite. good bokeh, the flower still retains its details. the head is still in focus. slightly overexposed, but I could salvage that in post if I wanted.

So there you have it! Even moving up a few stops does give you more leeway to achieve what you want, while still retaining the beauty that pulls us to do macro.
I am sure there are better examples of this on the net, but thought I would share my thought process with y'all. What do you think? How do you shoot macros?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Raw(e) {flower} and Simplicity {colour}

I try really hard to only have one topic per post, but there are just so many gosh darn fun photo challenges out there to participate in. Sailor and Co. hosts a weekly photo challenge, entitled raw(e). This week the challenge is SOOC flower shots. Over at Simplicity, she is asking - simply (heehee) - for colour. I thought this met both challenges nicely.

check out both blogs for more entries:

Paper Mamma Challenge: Fave Toy

This week at The Paper Mamma, the photo challenge is favourite toy. This is perfect because I happened to snap this over the weekend! I finally got a shot I am proud of with K and her favourite doll, Lulu. Best $5 I ever spent at a swap meet. She adores that thing and the stroller it rode in on.

Exposure Time:1/1000
Focal Length:50mm (75mm in 35mm)

Again, I could have lowered my ISO and therefore dropped my SS. I get so paranoid I tend to leave the ISO higher then it needs to be. Still, what's not to love about a post dinner stroll in your pj's, rain boots and pushing a pram?

Check out more favourites at:
The Paper Mama

Monday, July 5, 2010

12 Weeks to Better Photos Week 6: Shooting Indoors

All 12 lessons can be viewed here . This tutorial was originally offered through the 2 Peas in a Bucket scrapbooking/photography website. Show them some love here.

Week 6 is Shooting Indoors
::sigh:: I have so not mastered shooting indoors. Our house rarely gets direct light during the day. It is long and boxy, so only one edge of the living room has natural light at any given time. Our bedroom gets decent light, but I am terrified that my monkey of a child will roll right off the edge while I try to take pictures. The photos often have a funny colour cast and/or are grainy. So usually I just don't bother taking my camera out. My lightscoop helps some, but this week's lesson demands natural light. Well, I was at a friend's house and tried. Unfortunately they are not tack sharp.

The guidelines for this week's lesson:

  • 1. Position your subject in direct light and then reposition your subject in
    indirect, or filtered, light.
  • 2. Capture catchlights - have your subject face the window while you're sitting or standing with your back to the window.
  • 3. Position your subject so that he/she/it is parallel to the window, while you are perpendicular to the window.
  • 4. For those with SLRs or digiSLRs: If you can adjust the exposure meter on your camera, try metering on the background light vs. metering on your subject and setting the exposure for your subject. Also note that you could use a wall in the room or the floor to set your exposure meter.
trial 1: K
I could not get her to look at me. I did get some light reflected in her eyes, but its an unflattering lower eye reflection.
Exposure Time:1/500
Focal Length:105mm (157mm in 35mm)

This is SOOC. I should have brought down that ISO since the window was right behind me, but I often forget to change it on the fly. That would have allowed me to bring the ISO down a bit too. Since I was using the kit lens, that is as low as my aperture could go. I actually should have opened it up a stop at that length; that probably accounts for a bit of the blurriness.

Trial 2: Baby S
(sidebar - doesn't she have the most amazing big brown eyes? I have been killing myself trying to photograph them properly. brown eyes are so much harder then blue!)
Exposure Time:1/80
Focal Length:58mm (87mm in 35mm)

Also SOOC. Ignore the terrible composition with a some random (albeit lovely) legs and high chair in the background. This is not directly in front of the window, but I think I got better catchlights with this one. Its actually catching part of a mirrored wall that leads to the open front door. All sorts of random light bouncing. But here my SS is too slow for the subject and focal length, so its still not tack sharp.

Well, at least I came out and tried right?

Next up: shooting outdoors. much better!

12 Weeks to Better Photos Week 5: Composition

I have some catchup to play with the 12 Weeks to Better Photos course. I am about 4 weeks behind. Bad blogger!
All 12 lessons can be viewed here . This tutorial was originally offered through the 2 Peas in a Bucket scrapbooking/photography website. Show them some love here.

Week Five is Composition.
Probably my favourite thing about photography is composition. I love how a different perspective or angle can really bring life to a photo.
Here are the guidelines for this week's challenge:
  • 1. Keep it simple - eliminate distractions
  • 2. Apply the rule of thirds
  • 3. Keep an eye on the horizon
  • 4. Frame your subject
  • 5. Fill the frame
  • 6. Try a new perspective

Here is mr. Duck. For this photo I attempted to place him in a rule of thirds position (#2), with his eyes falling on a cross section in the top left corner. This (hopefully) adds more depth then if he was simply dead centre in the frame. Also, by shooting him against a neutral background and achieving bokeh, it eliminates distractions (#1)
Exposure Time:1/800
Focal Length:105mm (157mm in 35mm)

and say hello to his friends, the goslings (not to be confused by the uber dysfunctional Gosselins). I think this photo again utilizes rule of thirds (they are all on the bottom 3rd of the picture, with emphasis on the left side of the frame), but because I was able to get way down low at their height (thanks to a rather steep hill) it added a new perspective (#6),  a very different way of usually seeing some baby geese from way above looking down on them.
Exposure Time:1/800
Focal Length:62mm (93mm in 35mm)

I think this photo nicely meets "fill the frame" (#5). Much more interesting and engaging then if I stood several feet away and attempted to get their whole bodies in the shot:
Exposure Time:1/1250
Focal Length:105mm (157mm in 35mm)

What are your favourite rules of composition? What drives you when composing a shot?

Scavenger Hunt Sunday 1

My photo board hosts a weekly scavenger hunt on Sundays. 5 themes are submitted each week. 4 of the 5 photos must be new that week. This is the not the first time it has been held, but it is my first entry, hence the "1". So these may be a little lame (since 4 of the 5 photos were taken in a 20 minute period) and/or a stretch, but I wanted to participate this week.

1. Shutter Speed
Exposure Time:1/5
Focal Length:50mm (75mm in 35mm)
Cropped and adjusted brightness and colours in curves
This was the POTW challenge for this week as well. It was interesting playing with different shutter speeds to get the effect I wanted. I found that 1/10 was too fast (could see too much of the cars) and anything under 1/5 I couldn't hold the camera still enough (I didn't have my tripod with me). So 1/5 was what I went with! I don't love the composition of this one (the background is distracting to me) but I loved the effect of the blur the best, so I chose it.

2. Patriotism
Exposure Time:1/1000
Focal Length:50mm (75mm in 35mm)
This is SOOC. I probably should have opened up the aperture a bit more, but I am so addicted to bokeh, I forget to most of the time.

Since Canada is so spread out and large swatches of land are practically untouched, the railway system is often the only thing that connects this country together. An early government mandate was to connect sea to sea via one long unbroken railway line: CPR or Canadian Pacific Railway was born. It has a checkered past, often built on the backs of immigrant labourers from China who were treated little better then serfs, or worse, slaves and blasting fodder. Regardless, its an important monument to the vast expanse of land Canada covers and its attempts to unify such diverse and sparse scatterings of inhabitants.

3. Creative Crop
(from the archives)
Exposure Time:1/15
Focal Length:50mm (75mm in 35mm)
cropped and contrast bumped in GIMP.
The slow SS was a result of the fact that at the time I didn't have a lightscoop for shooting indoors, and I was shooting a backlit subject. However, I like the effect it has, showing the speed of his fingers as he plays. I chose this crop as the background was distracting and I had a bad chop of his head in the original. I wanted the emphasis on his hands and the length of his guitar.

4. Time
Exposure Time:1/4000
Focal Length:50mm (75mm in 35mm)

converted to B&W and played with contrast in curves
I went with this because our modern conception/reliance of time is largely based on the smooth running of trains and their role in revolutionizing modern industry/capitalism.

5. Flower
Exposure Time:1/800
Focal Length:50mm (75mm in 35mm)
Yes, I am aware I should have dropped the ISO. I had just come outside from in and forgot to change my settings :). Slight adjustment to deepen contrast and adjust WB in curves.

And there you go! Our assignment for the coming week includes:

  1. National Pride (also the POTW challenge for this week)
  2. Sunset
  3. Fire
  4. Favorite 
  5. Sepia or B/W with Selective Colour

Friday, July 2, 2010

Give me Your Best Shot and Award fun

Better in Bulk gives you an opportunity to share a favourite shot from the week:

Exposure Time:1/640
Focal Length:50mm (75mm in 35mm)

normal processing - slight curves adjustment in GIMP

(note: this is not an active train track, but rather an old decommissioned section of track that houses a train museum. The museum sits in the old station. No train would even be able to head down this track now.)

So what was your best shot? Go over to Better in Bulk and share it with everyone!:

Give me your best shot at Better in Bulk

In other news last week Trendy Treehouse highlighted my photo for Father's Love as an editor's pick. Thanks so much ladies! So I get to snag this nifty button:


and lastly, a few weeks back Nat from Sanchez Family Updates nominated me for an "Honest Scrap Award". thanks Nat! Sorry its taken me so long to respond. I do really appreciate the shout-out.
I have to list 10 honest (and/or interesting) facts about myself, then nominate 10 other blogs.

1. I am exactly (to the year) 30 years younger then my mom, and K is exactly (to the year) 30 years younger then me. I like repetition, and I like 3s, so this appeals to me.
2. I totally believe in ghosts.
3. my undergraduate degree is in history. No I am not a history professor.
4. I am deeply terrified of spiders. Like I once knocked a rearview mirror off my car windshield because a tiny miniscule microscopic one was dangling from it and I freaked out and whacked at it.
5. I am an expert secret keeper. Like Harry Potter has spelled me good. For example, my BFF got "secretly" engaged about a year before they told anyone. They assumed DH knew and were talking about it in front of him. He was pretty miffed, and they were shocked I hadn't said anything. I am a vault people!
6. I often fear that I will leave this world without making my lasting contribution. But this fear doesn't cure my procrastination for doing something worthy or extraordinary. Because I also suffer from fear of the unknown.
7. I am a terrible correspondent, which makes it ironic I spend so much time on message boards. This blogging is actually my attempt to put my life out there and feel connected.
8. I fear I will never live up to the things people say about me, or the legacies left by my family. There are some pretty incredible people in my family tree; how do I compete?
9. I only make 3 things really well: quacamole, pancakes and canneloni. Everything else is a crapshoot in whether or not it will turn out well.
10. Sometimes I wish I could be a travel writer, but really, can there possibly be any money in travel writing in the age of expedia and trip advisor? I still don't know what I should be when I grow up.

And now for some nominees (in no particular order):

Blogging from Bolivia: Macro Friday

Its Macro Friday over at Blogging from Bolivia!
I captured this sweet little lily during the Canada Day festivities yesterday:

Exposure Time:1/2500
Focal Length:50mm (75mm in 35mm)

adjusted white balance and slight unsharp mask in GIMP

get up close and personal with more entries here:

You Capture: Green

This week at You Capture, we had a choice for this week: Chairs, Hands or Green.
Here is my entry for Green:
Exposure Time:1/2000
Focal Length:50mm (75mm in 35mm)

adjusted curves, and ran a slightly unsharp mask in GIMP. It may be too sharp still. I also can't figure out how to tone down her pants. Such is life :)

see more great entries here:

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Paper Mama: Yellow

Have an ADD toddler banging under my feet, so this will be short and sweet.
The Paper Mama's photo challenge this week is Yellow:

see more great entries here:

The Paper Mama