Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Theme Thursday: Focus

This is a great theme this week for me because it's something I am working at constantly: tack-sharp focus.  There is nothing worse than uploading pictures and realizing when you view them large on the monitor that they aren't as sharp or in focus as you'd thought.  This is a particular challenge for me when I'm using my 50mm wide open.  I want to get as much light in as possible, but I sacrifice depth of field and it often puts important parts out of focus.  

I took a series last night of the boys, and sure enough, the second photo above was one of the few that I felt had the crisp focus I was looking for.  I struggle particularly with shots composed with more than one person.  You can see in the shot of both boys, the top boy is more in focus than the bottom.  Somehow, I can't quite seem to get everyone in focus equally.  It seems that if I narrow my aperture, I have to have a longer shutter speed and then things are out of focus because they move -- what's a girl to do? 

Saturday, January 26, 2008

BSM: Cousins

With five cousins in three states, it's awfully difficult to get together. Trying to get pictures of the five of them is even more difficult -- but what fun trying :).

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Theme Thursday: Books

Ooooo! What could be better? My two favorite things: photography and books.
One of the first things I did when I got a camera that had adjustable settings was go to the library and check out photography books. For anyone wanting to explore photography books, the library is a great way to get started. I checked out a bunch of books that looked good and went through them, eventually purchasing one book, Bryan Peterson's "Understanding Exposure." Photography books can be pricey, so getting them from the library first is a great way to get information and save money at the same time.
Recently, I also purchased two other photography-related books: "The Photographer's Eye," by Michael Freeman and "The Digital Photographer's Guide to Photoshop Elements 4," by Barry Beckham. The first book is all about composition and design. I'm hoping it offers inspiration for new ways of seeing and making photographs -- looks good so far. The second book is exactly what the title says. The nice thing about both (in addition to the fact that I bought them with a holiday gift card) is that they have big color pictures and lots of detail. Very helpful for us wanna-be photographers :).
Now, since Stacy left this theme open for interpretation, I'm also going to suggest some non-photography books I've read in the last few months. "A Girl Named Zippy" by Haven Kimmel and "The Samurai's Garden" by Gail Tsukiyama are not new releases and are both in paperback, so you can pick up inexpensive copies (or check them out from your trusty library). Kimmel's work is a wacky memoir of her childhood; Tsukiyama's is a quiet, moving novel about beauty and humanity. I am currently reading "Three Cups of Tea," a nonfiction work on the best-seller list (also in paperback) documenting the journey of a mountain climber turned humanitarian who has established schools in impoverished areas of Pakistan. So far, it is fascinating.
I've been keeping a reading journal since September; nothing fancy, just writing down the books I've read and rating them. This way, I can actually remember what I read and whether or not I'd recommend them. Unfortunately, many turn out to be simply "OK" or not worthy of passing along. However, since this is probably the only time "books" will be a Theme Thursday theme, I'll have to think of another excuse to post about good books :).
Happy reading!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

BSM: Mischievous Monday

For anyone who knows him, you'll have no problem figuring out who's wearing this shirt.  I just couldn't resist :).   

Friday, January 18, 2008

Knights of Wacky

Yep, this is the kind of craziness that goes on at our house on a Friday afternoon.  You are welcome anytime; BYOBA (Bring Your Own Body Armor).

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Theme Thursday: Winter

Brrr...OK, I was kind of hoping for the theme this week to be "summer" or "tropical island vacation" but not so much.  We don't get blizzards or snowdrifts here, but we still have many grey, cold days.  When I saw a ray of sunshine this weekend, I ran out with my camera to capture it on film.  It didn't make me any warmer, but at least I remember what sun looks like :).

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


Another slice of life in Owenland, overheard today:

Me: Time for Costco!

Owen:  Can I get a churrio? (that's a "churro," for those of you who don't speak O-ish)

Me: Hmmm...well, we'll see.

Owen: I won't share it. (Pause.)  I'll break it in half and eat both pieces!

Me: Well, in that case it's a definite yes!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

BSM: Hoop it Up!

This weekend all three of my boys played hoops and I acted as court photographer.  Harrison is playing on a basketball team this winter and is very intent on improving his skills.  He loves playing with his dad, especially.  Owen's along for the ride, but isn't quite big enough to make shots without James' help, so he sometimes plays the "pouty observer" role instead.  For me, it's wonderful to see them growing into the game and being able to really play.  
I converted all of these to b & w; between H's tie-dye and O's Halloween shirt and red shorts, not to mention the bad gym lighting, the colors in these pics were enough to make your eyes bleed.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Camera Choice: Or, Why My Camera is My Third Baby

Stacy over at Kraft Family asked a whole bunch of camera-related questions that I am attempting to answer here.  So for those of you who are not remotely interested in my camera (I don't blame you), this post is not for you :).

1.  My camera:  I have a Nikon D80 that I received for Christmas 2006.  It is a DSLR that replaced Nikon's D70.

2. LOVE IT!  Did you get that with the caps and everything :)?

3.  Interestingly, I didn't even choose the camera.  My husband did all the research and completely surprised me with this gift last year.  I also have Canon A620, which is my smaller, non-DSLR, walk-around camera.  Like Stacy, I think I would have been fine with either Nikon or Canon.  However, once you start buying lenses for a DSLR, there's no going back because if you switch brands, everything has to change.

4. I only have two lenses right now: kit lens 18-55 and my trusty 50mm 1.8.  I rarely take my 50mm off the camera.  Super sharp and great low light pictures.  The next lens I want is an 18-200VR zoom.  I really need something longer, so this is next on my list.

5.  The majority of photos on my Flickr page are taken with my Nikon.  (I've got a flickr button in my sidebar.)  I only use my Canon if I'm going somewhere and want to slip my camera in my purse.  BTW Stacy:  you must have a mighty large purse to fit your D50 in there :)!

6.  I LOVE my DSLR.  Once you get used to the new heft of a larger camera and discover the joys of no shutter lag and wide open apertures, it's tough to go back to the P & S.  However, it can be intimidating at first because there are so many things to learn on a camera like this.  I still have many features I never use or that I have to look up again in the manual when I want to use them.  One step at a time :)!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Theme Thursday: Contrast

Stacy challenged us with "contrast" as the theme this week, so I decided to offer two examples of the same photo.  The first is a SOOC image which demonstrates the contrast of color against the kids' faces and the dark background.  I also converted to B & W and came up with different contrasting results.  In the second, the contrast of faces with the rest of the photo without the color lets the viewer focus more on the expressions rather than everything else.  Can you believe such concentration on a Star Wars action figure? May the force be with us all :)...

What I feel like after a round of food poisoning...(portrait of me compliments of Owen).

Saturday, January 5, 2008

BSM: Stuck

A four-year-old's version of "I've fallen and I can't get up!"  
FYI: He wasn't actually stuck; I just happened to capture this expression as he hopped on and off of this fire hydrant.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Mad Science

We hit the science museum this week and the kids had a blast.  I don't usually bring my camera to places like this, but I have an itchy trigger finger right now, so I brought my p&s with me.  Needless to say, with bad lighting and a zillion kids running around, the museum does not present the ideal photo opportunity.  Nevertheless, I persevered :).  
Now why do I keep humming, "she blinded me with science"?

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Theme Thursday: Color

Please humor me while I play around in PS-Elements.  Thanks to all you commenters who offered advice as I immerse myself in this new world.  I've been editing my photos in two or three other programs, so I know the basics, but PS offers different ways of doing things that I'm busy exploring.  This is a long way of explaining this post:) experiment in selective color.  A new way of seeing for the new year!  Happy 2008!

Death and the New Year?

Last night at bathtime, Harrison was contemplating the year 3000.  I laughed and told him none of us would be around to see that!  Immediately, a panicked sob emerged from the bathtub, as Owen burst into tears: "I don't want to die!"  

Have you tried explaining a thousand years to a four year old?