Thursday, June 30, 2011

Light, Light, and More Light

Time to link up with the Crazy Days of Summer again, and today's topic is light!  I cannot wait to see everyone's images because that is such a wide and wonderful theme and really light is just so beautiful!  Unfortunately, it made it impossible to choose.  Oh well, enjoy the light...
Did you know that squinting to make the sunflare larger doesn't do anything in the camera?  You have to actually stop down your f/stop.  Well, live and learn!  Just kidding...kind of.
This is a photo I wouldn't have necessarily kept, but with light as a theme I saw it in a whole new light!

Okay, maybe I captured a little too much light here.  I had my settings right but the sun actually peeked out...for a second!
Oh, the light!  and my beautiful new lens!  Sharpened her eyes, softened her hair, and called it good.
My Orchid from May is still blooming and looks lovely in the evening light through the back window!
If I tell you, you'll notice, but I did paint back in her blown out shoulder per the tutorials Ashley linked to on her blog.  Not really necessary to recover her shoulder here, but I like to practice new things when I see them.  Also did a small levels adjustment on her face. 
That is probably enough photos from me, but make sure to check out the other posts.  I always enjoy every single one I see.
Crazy Days of Summer

Week 25 good to WOW Edit Sunrise

I didn't work on this yesterday because I took over 500 pictures and some of them were much more interesting to me than my sunrises.  Then blogger wasn't working on Firefox so I watched old episodes of Psych and read forums.  But I don't like to have things go unfinished, so this morning after Huckleberry made everyone breakfast and on Sunflower's 3rd outfit (she really likes changing her clothes), I was able to sit down and work on my photos.

I ran MCP Mini-Fusion and Pure Light and Airy Actions

Cropped closer.  Painted over his rays to help them stand out a little more--low opacity, soft red brush, ran an artistic filter of Rough Pastels and Added Kim Klassen's Golden Soft Light (yes, I got the idea from Halie today).
Cropped Closer and Ran MCP Mini-Fusion
On this last picture I did look at my photo info in PSE (which I have never done before).  There were actually a few tiny spots were the red channel was already blown.  I think it might explain why the little parts that stick up called stamen? maybe? look a little off even though I know that is the focal point I chose.  Maybe not.  This red channel stuff is all new territory to me.  The action didn't add significantly to my blown areas.  However, I did run a PW boost also which blew every channel out so I went back a step and saved.

So those are my edits.  Here is one of the photos I have had more fun playing with--all I had to do was sharpen it; I played with actions and edits, but I just liked the SOOC better.
Not to say it is a perfect photo (clearly I've blown out some channel), but it sure captures her personality!  Now she appears to be on outfit number 4 (Don't worry, the first three were jammies and two used outfits from yesterday--we do establish some limits.)


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Manual Mode

If you have not yet discovered this yet, I am really loving photography and everything about it.  I could shoot pictures all day if there wasn't a real life for me to live.  I have always loved taking pictures, but until recently it was always in auto mode.   My old camera would have let me shoot in manual, but with f/2.8 maxing out at f/8, shutter speed from 1/1000-8, and ISO of 80, 100, 200 or 400 the range of what it could capture wasn't too spectacular.  The biggest issue was figuring out focus on the tiny, low resolution LCD screen--trust me I recently tried.  With f/2.8 it technically should have been able to capture a smaller depth of field than my kit lenses which is a look I love, but after an aggravating hour trying this is the best I got.
1/1000    f/2.8     55.2mm    ISO 80     On a Panasonic DMC-FZ3 3MP
That isn't to say I don't like this picture or several others from that day BUT I went back inside completely frustrated at the difficulty with focus and really not knowing if any of them were actually focused.  I felt no joy at the experience.  If I was still limited to this camera, I would still be stuck in auto mode and considering myself lucky when a photo came out great (my little camera did capture great photos--so it did happen for me).

But then in February we were able to purchase a Nikon d3100 with two lenses--28-55 and 55-200.  I was not going to waste my fancy camera on auto mode--I am frugal that way.  So I started to learn what the settings meant, etc.  In mid March I switched everything to manual and have stayed there ever since.  I have lots of mistakes, lots of photos I delete because I didn't check my histogram and shot 42 photos of daffodils outside in ISO 1600 when the sun was shining.  My biggest difficulty currently is getting the focus and exposure right on the eyes so I practice, practice, and take lots of pictures of flowers so I have pretty things to look at, practice some more and beg my husband for a new lens which is making my focus even more difficult but my light and skin colors oh so much better!

Okay, I've talked enough.  Here are my most recent photos in manual mode (or a few of them--I never take less than 50 and usually more than 200 when I get my camera out; why all that work of unzipping the bag and removing the lens cap for only 2 images?)
1/400  f/2.2    50 mm ISO 100   on my new 1.8 50mm
This plant didn't really lend itself well to selective focusing and narrow DoF, but it is about the learning and I love the colors it captures.  I plan to try again with a narrower aperture but it is raining...again.

1/500   f/2.2    50mm  ISO 100
I got a little closer to what I envisioned with this one, but there is still some detail that I would have liked missing.  Still so fun to be practicing with an f/2.2 and not f/4.5! 
1/500   f/1,8    50mm  ISO 100
I tried to get her to let me try again with her standing on the rocks so I could get a little wider DoF on her hands, but she was having none of it.  This was taken in the 4 seconds she held the flowers out to me and before they fell (love my faster focus on this lens).  I did get one more flower pose from her I also love.
1/500    f/1.8    50mm  ISO 100
Then I practiced some more on the eyes which is what will take my photography from good-ish to great-ish, but she really doesn't have time to look at me when she is busy.
1/800   f/1.8    50mm   ISO 100
This is a time when I could have and possibly should have switched from manual mode to aperture priority mode.  I wanted to play with my aperture wide open--1.8, but she was swinging back and forth from shade into less shade and the sun was peaking in and out of clouds causing me to switch shutter speeds in between almost every shot and sometimes just not having the right one at all.  But I was able to focus on her while she was swinging, so I was still really pleased.  Who knew photography and learning was so much fun?

I am linking up over at Finding Serendipity for Photo a la {M}ode.  It is a fun way to meet others shooting manual and get tips on how to do so.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Sweet Textured Scripture

I hope your summer is going well.  My sweet shot gives you an idea of how my summer has been going so far...
and this week is doctor visits, shots, and TB tests, so the sun isn't yet coming out tomorrow.  However, as grumpy as the kids might be, I have been pretty happy playing with the new toy I got Friday--a 50mm 1.8 prime lens.  I''m still getting the hang of shallower depth of field, but oh so much beautiful light!

For Texture Tuesday I just took my SOOC photo and added two layers of Kim Klassen's Golden Texture.  One layer is Hard Light 42% and the other layer is only on the sky at Hard Light 54%.
As a child I would stand and stare at the mountain by our house and say, "Okay, God, I have lots of faith, move the mountain."  Then I would pause and wait for the mountain to move.  After a moment I would say, "I guess moving the mountain would cause too much damage.  Thank you for moving that stone/piece of the mountain for me."  Then I would skip off and play.  (True story; I was a very literal child...and adult; though sometimes I would assume God had moved it an inch and no one could tell).

Now as an adult, I ask God to move the mountains in my life, and when they don't move immediately I don't always have faith that moving that mountain would cause more damage or have trust that He is moving behind the scenes in ways I cannot see.  But I should because...

“The Rock! His work is perfect,
For all His ways are just;
A God of faithfulness and without injustice,
Righteous and upright is He."    Deuteronomy 32:4

Thank you for visiting my Sweet Shot, Texture Tuesday, and Scripture and a Snapshot.  Be sure to check out the links for some great photos!

Sweet Shot Daykimklassencafe


Week 25 good to WOW SOOC Sunrise

It is official.  I will never be a real photographer.  There is no way I am getting up that early just to get the shot.  I'm not even sure where one would go to see the sunrise.  So I am "cheating" a little bit.

First, I tried taking some sunsets in our yard which resulted in some lovely sunflares--I thought.  I was counting that good until I saw Jill's sunflares yesterday.  Sigh, I have a long way to go.  But here is my first "sunrise."
1/200    f/22.0     200mm     ISO 100
Then I thought, okay, I'll have my son paint me a sunrise (we had the paints out anyway for Scavenger Hunt Sunday) and he painted me a picture.
1/200   f/2.0    50mm    ISO 400
But he told me it is a sunset because he doesn't know what a sunrise looks like.  I actually blurred the photo on purpose because I have a lens that will let me and I thought it would make it blend better, but now I don't really like it.

So I told my husband we needed to go spend the night at the beach which didn't work because of all of our Sunday plans.  When I told him I needed to get up this morning for the sunrise he said we should go to the eastern part of the state in the desert, also not a real option.  I said, that is why I wanted to go to the beach.  He said, you cannot see the sunrise at our ocean, that would be the sunset.  I claimed no one would know the difference except everyone else who knew East from West would know the difference.  Still hoping to go to the ocean for a weekend this summer.

I also did not set the alarm for 4:00a.m.  But I have one more photo with the colors of the sunrise...
1/4000     f/2.2   50mm    ISO 100
Oh wait, is it only sunsets that are orange and yellow?  I don't know.  In retrospect, I'm not sure I've ever seen a sunrise--oh, I have vague memories of Lake Erie in college, but maybe that was sunset, too.  I am not an early riser.

Well, here is hoping that lots of people are participating, with sunrises, in this week's shoot and edit because I clearly need some education.  I really cannot wait to see everyone's beautiful photos.


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Scavenger Hunt Sunday

My friend's daughter
Leaf Veins:
This was from my archives, so I do have two photos for this prompt.
Faceless Portrait:
There is no place like home in your Daddy's arms.  This little girl won't need her ruby slippers.
Be sure to head over to Ramblings and Photos to find some more hunt items--so many fascinating photos!

I bet you didn't know I could do a post with so few words--neither did I!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Bee Happy!!!!

My birthday came a month earlier this year!  For my 39th birthday, I got a Nikkor 50mm 1.8 G AF-S, ummm, a new prime lens for my camera!  I have only taken 269 photos (and kept very few) with it so far, but I know I will love it.  It is faster at Autofocus and quieter than my other lenses, but more importantly--at 1.8 aperture it can let in a whole lot more light than my kit lenses.  That means a shallow DOF (depth of field), too, so I am going to have to get a lot better at choosing my focal point.

The depth of field will be tricky because it can get so narrow that only one tiny flower is in focus.
f/2.0  1/640  ISO 100    50mm!  No crop
I'm not sure of the value of only ONE tiny flower in focus, but that is what textures are for, right?  To fix my errors?
1/800  f/2.2   ISO 100   50mm!
Just kidding.  I know--textures are for enhancing, not fixing photos (though sometimes they just do!)  But the photo above didn't really need fixing--it needed pixel bender, but with PSE6 I'm not sure it is worth downloading.   Anyway, it will take some practice for me to be able to focus where I want and I'll have to give up some of my light at times for everything I want to be in focus to be in focus, but I'll get the hang of it!

One other thing I really like about it is that I can be so much closer to my subject and still get a lock on focus.  I haven't looked up the amounts exactly; it is probably only a feet or two, but right now with my zoom lens 55-200 4.0-5.6, I am always backing up to get a focus lock.  I apparently like to be close AND zoomed in.  Here is an example:
1/320   f/6.3    ISO 100     200mm
Now thankfully my camera has lots of pixels, so I can crop in and still get the shot I really want.
Well, almost.  Still having trouble capturing a bee exactly as I want.  Now the plus of this is the depth of field was a little larger, so easier to get the right amount of stuff in focus AND I got to stand a ways away from the bee.  However, I still had fun trying to capture some more bee shots with my new lens.
1/400     f/2.5    ISO 100    50mm!
Now I still chose to crop in a little and this is about as close as I could get and still get a focus lock, but still it will give me some new flexibility once I get the hang of it all.
As you can tell, the bee is a little fuzzy on the focus because of my small DOF, but those things move awfully fast!  This is definitely a user error as opposed to a limitation of the lens--a slightly narrower aperture and making up the light difference with a slightly slower shutter speed or ISO at 200 might have captured the bee in focus.  I'll have to go try tomorrow (these bees are swarming the wild rose bush in our front yard and before photography that might have been a problem--not anymore!)  The lens itself focuses really fast--I know some people find it slow, but they must not remember the speed of the cheapest zoom and their kit lens.  It is also quiet--at first I wasn't sure if it was changing focus at all.

So the main reason I wanted the lens was to be able to capture lower light indoor shots.  I didn't get much chance to practice that yet as my usual models went to bed.  Getting the handle of where I need to be to use the lowest possible aperture indoors and still have my whole child in focus (a selective focus on the nose will not be very useful even if it does work for flowers) will take some time.  But I have time.  I don't get another new lens for a very long time now!

Here is one example of today's indoors evening shot with some natural light of the best husband ever--did I mention the birthday present was from him?  I didn't just buy it for myself; I wouldn't do that though I might hint and beg until it came a month early!
1/160    f/1.8     ISO 400     50mm!  No flash  Ran Ashley's Action Nice and Easy--no other edit
And he cooks, too!


Thursday, June 23, 2011


The theme for one of the very first photo challenge I entered was yellow.  I almost gave up since I just didn't think I had any yellow around, but it opened my eyes to a plant in my very own yard.  I am not sharing the photos from that time because they are just so very bad.  Since then it seems like every photo has some yellow in it (lots of yellow slides around).  I was able to narrow it down to two of my absolute favorites from the last few months and one new photo that I took for this challenge.

You can see the original if you mouse over the photo.  I did play around a bit.
When I saw this flower, I thought "Oh!  Yellow!  Crazy Days of Summer!"  Yes, I think in short, staccato exclamation points.  Now that I have it up close, I think it might be kind of ugly, especially with the dying lily pads, but today has been a Crazy Day of Summer (only our second day of no school--does not bode well) so it is what it is.

Make sure to check out the other posts over at Project Alicia or Live and Love Outloud.  It is bound to be a veritable feast of yellow--the happiest color on earth!