Wednesday, April 29, 2009

ABC Wednesday - O is for Overflow

O is for Overflow............

the overflow of water at the dam

The overflow at the dam was really flowing with all the extra spring water and melting snow a couple of weeks ago.

There are two overflow areas at this dam, and this is the active one. It is usually just a small stream, especially in the summer when the water levels are lower.

Only once in all of the 26 years that we have lived here have I seen the overflow on the other side with any water in it.

Actually the water that was in it at that time wasn't flowing. That spot must act as a holding area for this overflow so the whole dam can still hold back what it needs too without being overtaken.

This dam is part of a whole system of dams and waterways that run through our state, into the next, and finally out to the ocean.

It's kind of neat how they control all this water and keep us all safe too.

This is the fourth round of ABC Wednesday. If you would like to join in please visit this site for the details.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Yellow Berries for Green Thumb Sunday

Yellow Berries for Green Thumb Sunday

yellow berries in the autumn

Green Thumb Sunday Blogroll

How to join Green Thumb Sunday

Another shot from last fall's visit to the ocean.

I found tons of these yellow berries growing on a tree and there was nothing around eating them.

I was hoping at the time that it was because they were just not ripe enough yet.

Or perhaps they are just for decoration only.

I can just imagine how that tree is doing now - with the amount of berries it produces, it must be bursting with blossoms.

I don't foresee an ocean trip in the near future, so I won't get to see the flowers, but there is always another spring to catch them in their full glory.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Friday's Photo Tip - What the Term Bokeh Means

Friday's Photo Tip - What is Bokeh

a dragonfly with a great bokeh background


Have you ever heard the term or wondered what it meant?

The "bokeh" in the above photo is very apparent, and since the lens is doing such a great job, it has made it almost non-apparent.

Now that I have totally confused you - check out the background behind the dragonfly.

What do you notice about it?

First, it is not distracting.

Second, it has an overall out of focus smoothness to it.

And lastly it enhances the subject.

When a lens is said to produce a nice "bokeh", it means that it has the ability to blend the light with the background and give it a blurred or out of focus quality that does not distract from the subject.

On to the next question - do all lenses do this?

My answer is yes, they do, but some do the blending part much better than others. And I bet you can guess what determines that. The more money you spend on your lens, the better quality of glass you get. And the better the bokeh - and everything else for that matter.

But even with the standard lens that comes with any camera, including the point and shoot varieties, you can produce a pleasing bokeh too.

The trick is to use a shallow depth of field so that just the subject is in focus. The rest of the image gets blurrier as the distance gets farther away from the subject.

And how does one use a shallow depth of field?

Without getting too much into a DOF discussion, you use a smaller number on your aperture or f-stop setting.

The smaller the number, the more shallow the DOF.

Practice changing the DOF with your digital camera, and look at your results as you go along.

Depending on the lighting conditions, it is pretty easy to get a good "bokeh" when it is most needed to blend away those annoying or distracting backgrounds.

If you click on the photo above it will take you to my website where you can click on it again to view a larger image. The bokeh is more apparent in the larger view.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

ABC Wednesday - N is for Nature on this Earth Day

N is for Nature on this Earth Day............

an embroidered linen handkerchief atop an old small chest


A perfect word for this Earth Day 2009.

My favorite subject to photograph no matter the season.

Enjoying Mother Nature's beauty is one of the great gifts we have in this life.

Respecting and protecting it is one of the greatest gifts we can give to this planet.

Happy Earth Day!

This is the fourth round of ABC Wednesday. If you would like to join in please visit this site for the details.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

A Bit of Last Autumn for Green Thumb Sunday

A Bit of Last Autumn for Green Thumb Sunday

red round spiky flowers in the autumn

I am not sure what kind of flower they are, but I found them quite interesting when I visited a local garden last autumn.

They look sharp and spiky, but they really are not.

Even their solid, round shape is odd for a flower.

I don't know if they open up, or if this is the mature plant.

The color was quite striking - even their stems are red.

If any of my readers know what they are, please don't hesitate to leave a comment.

I thank you in advance!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Friday's Photo Tip - Auto or Manual Focus

Friday's Photo Tip - Auto or Manual Focus

high school lacrosse game

Even though today's DSLR cameras use auto-focus lenses, have you ever switched it off to do the focusing yourself?

When I became interested in photography, there was no such thing as an auto focus lens.

When they first started making them I was skeptical, and I stayed with my manual ones.

In fact, the first AF lens I owned was when I purchased my DSLR.

And I have to say, I keep my camera set to the "manual" focusing mode even on this camera.

At first I thought it was going to be great, this auto focus feature.

But then I started in with my macro images, and the lens would never quite get the correct spot in focus that I wanted.

And many times, if the light was insufficient, or the object too close, then the lens would just keep hunting for the focal point, and pretty much driving me crazy.

Just about the only time that I use the AF is when I am shooting an action shot.

Taking the above image was just about impossible without the AF.

The boys moved way too fast for me to manually get them in clearly, but the AF lens would follow them around and keep them in focus at all times.

I am a real stickler for depth of field (DOF), and the AF lens has no idea what I want.

This is my main reason for using the manual mode - I want the control.

So, do you use the manual or the auto focus on your camera?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

ABC Wednesday - M is for Mists

M is for Mists............

mists rising off the top of a water fountain

There was just a slight breeze on this hot summer day at the park.

The air currents were just enough to stir up a light spray of mists off the top of the splashing water fountain.

I have walked in this park many times, and this fountain always draws my attention each time.

This was the first time I had seen these mists though, and I am sure glad I was there at the right time to capture them.

I used back lighting for this photo, and it worked to darken the background and make the mists more visible.

This is the fourth round of ABC Wednesday. If you would like to join in please visit this site for the details.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Country Road

The Country Road

a woman walking on a country road

I have been walking this country road for over 26 years. My husband and I have logged more miles by foot on this road than any of our cars have while driving it.

Dusty in the summer, muddy in the spring, very slippery in the winter, and most beautiful in the fall - no matter what season, we keep walking.

And from now until October 31, 2009, every mile we walk we can log at the BeeWell Miles website that is sponsored by Bumble Bee Foods.

For each mile that I log at the site, they will pay .15 cents to the Breast Cancer Network of Strength which provides emotional support to those who can't wait for tomorrow's cure.

I have only been logging my miles for 2 days, and have walked a total of 4 miles.

The days are getting nicer, and I figure that I can easily up my walk to 3 miles a day.

If I do that for the duration of this campaign, I would have raised about $90 for this cause.

Since I walk each day any way, this isn't any extra work for me.

It is a win-win situation for the cause and for myself.

And since my husband walks just about as much as I do, he can register at the website and track his miles also.

It is a great motivator for me, and I hope the 3 miles a day is just a beginning.

If I get to the 10,000 steps I would like to accomplish each day, then my waistline would feel better, and someone who needs the services of this organization will also hopefully feel better.


Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter

Happy Easter

a bright yellow sprig daffodil

Wishing a Happy Easter to all!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Friday's Photo Tip - What is ISO?

Friday's Photo Tip - What is ISO?

texture of ripples in wet sand

Dory, over at Can't Remember Diddly, left a comment on last week's photo tip, and she stated:

"When your reader used the numbers 200 and 1600, it made me think that they are confusing shutter speed and ISO".

I will have to admit that I was thinking along the ISO lines too with the numbers that were given, so I thought it would make a good topic for this week.

Just what exactly is ISO, you ask?

Well technically, the letters stand for International Organization for Standardization. They are the standards that define the speeds for film.

It uses an arithmetic and a logarithmic scale to make this calculation, and we recognize it as ISO 100, 200, 400, etc.

Not very interesting a topic so far, but it really is a necessary part of understanding your camera.

Think of it like this - a camera is used for capturing light.

How much light is available for it to capture affects many settings in your camera.

In the days of film, it was important to know your lighting conditions before hand,so you could buy the appropriate film speed. With today's digital cameras, that "film speed" or ISO can be flipped back and forth without a problem.

An ISO of 100 is a fairly "slow" film, which means it needs more light to capture an image. A bright sunny day, or a studio filled with flood lights would be great for this less sensitive ISO setting.

An ISO of 1000 or 1600 is a "fast" speed which is more sensitive to light and can pick up lower light levels - a church or a candle light dinner.

Now, there are always pros and cons to everything, and I will give a few of these for the different ISO settings.

In the film days, a photographer's first choice for ISO was always a lower number - 64 or 100 was about as far as one wanted to go.

The lower the number, the sharper and clearer the image, especially if larger sized prints were going to be made.

One would sacrifice sharpness for graininess as the ISO number began to rise. Grainy photos were the norm for high ISO images.

So, now that we use digital cameras and not film, you would think that we no longer have to worry about this graininess any longer.

Digital has introduced us to something else that we have to worry about with ISO.

Once again, the lower the number the better.

Digital Noise is a problem that begins to creep into an image when a higher ISO is used.

Noise is very undesirable - especially if a larger image is going to be printed.

The digital sensors in the cameras tend to "heat up" as they process images, and the higher ISO settings make them work harder - making more heat.

Heat is one of the reasons for the "noise". Longer shutter speeds, hot days, and prolonged use of the camera also create "noise".

In film, the graininess is spread evenly across the entire image.

With digital, the noise appears as splotches or spots or an overall blurriness, sometimes only showing up in certain shadows or colors in the photo.

The larger the sensor in the camera, the better it is able to handle the noise. DSLRs deliver a less noisy image at high ISO settings than the smaller point and shoot cameras.

The texture in the image above contains noise. Due to the lower light levels, I used a higher ISO when taking the photo.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

ABC Wednesday - L is for Linen

L is for Linen............

an embroidered linen handkerchief atop an old small chest

Hand embroidered, this beautiful linen handkerchief sits atop a small antique jewelry chest.

A dainty reminder of my grandmother and days gone by when a lady carried a handkerchief at all times.

After all, tissues hadn't been invented yet, and even when they were, they were too expensive to spend money on.

These lines were common and a necessity, and who knows, maybe someday they will be again.

It would certainly save trees, reduce waste, and lessen our carbon footprint upon this beautiful planet.

This is the fourth round of ABC Wednesday. If you would like to join in please visit this site for the details.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Visit Inside the Lighthouse

Visit Inside the Lighthouse

newcastle lighthouse in portsmouth harbor

I did a post a few weeks ago about the Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse.

I am very excited to say that I had a visit from a volunteer for the lighthouse group that cares for it.

Ross, over at Friends of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse wrote to say that the light house will be open during certain times over the summer for tours and visits.

You can actually climb to the top of the lighthouse and view the fourth-order Fresnel lens up close in the Lantern Room.

They have scheduled 11 days this summer for tours, and you can bet that I will be there for one of them - with my camera and a new memory card in hand!.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Friday's Photo Tip - Understanding Shutter Speed

Friday's Photo Tip - Understanding Shutter Speed

splashing water fountain

flowinging water fountain

One of my readers writes: "I am having a great deal of difficulty understanding shutter speed. I would love to know when I should be at 200 or if I should go up to 1600. I am completely lost in this area."

Jackie, over at The Painted Veil left me a comment last week, and I hope I can help explain it a bit better.

I try to think of shutter speed in relation to the action of my subject and how I want to it to come out in the end.

If I am shooting a still life, with absolutely no movement of the subject, then a slow shutter speed is fine. I usually concentrate more on the depth of field in this case, and the aperture setting is more important to me than the shutter speed setting.

If I am shooting a moving object, and I want to freeze the action of my subject, then I am going to need a faster, or higher number, shutter speed.

On the other hand, if I want that moving object to have some "blur" to show the action, than I am going to want a slower, or lower number, shutter speed.

Take a look at the images above. You will probably have to click on them to get to my website where you can view them at a larger size.

Check out the action of the water in the first image. The water seems "frozen" in the air. I used a shutter speed of 1/80 for this image. It stopped the action of the water. If I had used a faster, or higher number, shutter speed, then it would be even more "frozen".

On the second image, see how the water has a "flowing", almost silky look to it? The shutter speed for this image is 1/20. It didn't stop the water as quickly as in the first image as it was a slower shutter speed.

The smaller the number, the longer the shutter stays open to capture the image.

If you are using an SLR camera, take off the lens, and try setting the shutter speed to 1 or 2. Trip the shutter. See how slow the mirror went up to expose the area where the film would be?

Try setting it on "B". This is a "bulb" setting, and as long as you hold your finger on the shutter button, it will stay open, exposing the film and "taking" the picture.

Try experimenting with the higher settings too - watch and listen to how fast it goes.

I am not sure how DSLR's handle working without a lens. If yours can, then you should be able to do these experiments with your camera.

One word of caution when using slow shutter speeds though - any camera movement at all will make your image unfocused.

As a rule of thumb, anything under 1/30 shutter speed should be on a tripod.

The DSLRs of today and many of the more expensive lenses have anti-shake or stabilization technology in them which allows you to push that 1/30 down to 1/20 with good results - as long as you are holding your breath.

Just don't pass out from not breathing as you are using the 1/20 without a tripod and are taking too long to focus.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

ABC Wednesday - K is for Knife Hilt

K is for Knife Hilt............

the silver hilt on a large knife

The boys have plenty of knives for hunting and fishing and each one has it's own job.

There are knives that fold and there are ones that are straight.

Some have thick, wide blades, other have fine, thin ones.

Some of the handles are metal, some are wood, and this one is rubber - it has a good, secure feel when you grip it.

It is one of my favorites, and call me strange, but the thing I like the best about it is the pretty little "S" curve that the hilt has.

It is rather fancy and it reminds me of an old fashioned one - like something that Robin Hood might have used when he wasn't using his bow and arrows.

The boys have put this one aside for me to use.

It's a pity, the thing will stay as new as the day they bought it. The only "use" it will get from me is as a model for a photo.

This is the fourth round of ABC Wednesday. If you would like to join in please visit this site for the details.


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