Monday, June 29, 2009

Rain, Rain, Go Away!

Rain, Rain, Go Away

long blades of grass

Man oh man! It has been two weeks now, and only two days of sun.

This week's weather forecast is calling for rain all week again.

The grass is growing ridiculously fast - no chance to mow it as it is always wet.

Our nightly fox visitors are so confused with this lack of light that I caught one of them trotting though the yard this morning at 9:13. I am hoping it was on it's way back to its den to sleep the day away - I know I certainly felt like doing that.

The camera can't go out in this weather and no jaunts anywhere either - much to wet for that.

Where fore art thou summer - we are eagerly awaiting your arrival!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Friday's Photo Tip - Keeping the Camera Steady

Friday's Photo Tip - Keeping the Camera Steady

the leg of a camera tripood

Camera movement - something that ruins many a good photo.

Nothing can be done to fix it no matter how much one spends on post processing programs.

Sometimes even taking a breath will cause just enough movement to blur the image.

Other than using a fast shutter speed that will capture the image really quick, the best thing to have on hand is a tripod.

Or a monopod, or a bean bag, or even a table or tree to steady the camera against.

I have used them all and even more in times of need.

The photo above is a mini tripod that I use for typical stock items. It's a table top model that works just perfectly for those indoor close shots with the white backgrounds.

When I need a steady shot, and I am outdoors and have the time, my regular size tripod comes in real handy. It is heavier and larger and takes time to set up correctly - not something I use unless I am staying put for a while.

My best traveling "pod" is a monopod with a floating ball head that allows quick movement.

It is lighter to carry around and much easier to maneuver when outside.

But one of the handiest "steadiers" I have used is a small beanbag filled with rice that I whipped up just for this purpose.

And when I forget to bring any of the above, a small empty ziplock bag (that I carry in my camera case) filled with sand or small pebbles works just fine - especially for the low, macro shots that I like to take outdoors.

And when all else fails, a tree trunk, table top, car roof, knee, or just holding my breath has worked too.

Necessity being the mother of invention - I try to keep an open eye and mind for all that is available.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

ABC Wednesday - W is for Weathervane

W is for Weathervane............

a cricket weathervane on top of a barn

This one is really hard to see - so look real close.

See that weathervane on top of this old barn?

It is in the shape of a cricket, and from the green color that it is, I would say it was a shiny copper color when it was placed up there many years ago.

I have been looking for weathervanes more than I have in the past, and one thing I have noticed is that it isn't just the old barns that have them anymore.

There are many new houses that have them now - perhaps as a decoration would be my guess.

And some of them are really unique.

I would stop to take pictures of them, but I don't believe the owners would appreciate me aiming my camera at their house.

I'll keep my eye peeled, and if the opportunity should arise, I will snap a few.

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

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Window Boxes

Window Boxes

window boxes and pumpkins above the door

The pretty window boxes caught my eye right off. The deep purple was unusual but it fit perfectly with the gray colored clapboards on the old house. Even the flowers match.

The small orange gourds above the doorway were also a nice touch. Somebody took the time to arrange them just right.

You don't see these decorative additions on the newer houses of today.

This house is located right along the sidewalk - not even a little bit of room for a strip of grass or a row of flowers.

The doorstep is right there - no room for a container plant outside the front door either.

Determined to have her flowers, the owner chose the only option left and she did it well!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Female Hummingbird at the Feeder

Female Hummingbird at the Feeder

female hummingbird perched on a feeder

We have been feeding these little birds for years.

And for years I have also been trying to get a decent photo of them.

Not counting all the film I went through before digital cameras came along, I would say I have easily snapped close to 500 images of them.

Most of them are totally unrecognizable as a hummingbird, or they are completely missing from the photo itself.

They move so quickly - better have a fast lens and shutter speed to catch them.

This is the only decent photo I have at this time, and it was taken a couple of summers ago with my point and shoot digital camera - how I wish I had had my DSLR back then. I haven't been able to get as close to them since.

I have a new plan for this summer though and it includes my son's blind that he purchased this spring for hunting.

I have a hummingbird feeder hanging in my backyard, and I am going to set up that blind within 15 feet of it - right next to a tree.

I will be crouched on a pillow behind it with my camera on a tripod, my 200mm zoom lens in place, and I will watch for them and try to capture a decent photo.

If mother nature can provide me with a nice sunny day so I can use a fast shutter speed, then I should be all set to hunker down for a couple of hours.

With a can of bug spray and sunscreen by my side too!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

ABC Wednesday - V is for Viper

V is for Viper............

the rear of a yellow viper sports car

We spotted this one as soon as we pulled into a parking spot.

It was all by itself, parked in the grass where no other car could park next to it.

And there was no one around it.

Just perfect - I could grab a couple of photos while we admired it's beauty.

Fearing even a small vibration would set off it's alarm, we kept a respectful distance - good thing I had on my telephoto lens!

Such a beauty it was, and you would never guess that it was in an old boat yard, with tall sailboats and work boats balanced on their boat stands all around it.

Very out of place for sure!

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

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Even the Feet

Even the Feet

bare feet in the water and sand

I didn't give them much thought at all, but in hindsight I really should have.

It has been many years since I have worn the skirts and dresses that are hanging in the closet.

Having worked in a bank for many years before, I have been lucky enough to work out of my home for the last ten years - jeans and sweats and shorts are all that I need now.

Until today that is.

We needed to attend a funeral today, and knowing that what was in the closet was not going to fit no matter how hard I tried, I broke down and purchased a new outfit.

Now, I also have pumps, heels, and flats to go with all those dresses and skirts.

All dressed and ready to go, I reached in for my black flats.

Yikes! I don't know what happened to them - there was no way my feet were going in them.

On to the next pair - low pumps that might work with my outfit.

No luck there either.

My favorite pair of well- worn heels were my last choice, and they just barely made it on - good thing that the pantyhose were smooth and silky.

So let this be a warning - when the weight goes on - it isn't just the waistline and the behind that increase in size.

The feet do to!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Friday's Photo Tip - Keeping the Sensor Clean

Friday's Photo Tip - Keeping the Sensor Clean

a magnifying glass with a spotted handle

Spotting a dirty sensor can be pretty tricky at times - especially when you only view your photos on the computer at regular size.

Sometimes it takes printing them out, or viewing them at 100% in your photo processing program to see the signs of a dirty sensor.

Now, if you have a point and shoot camera, then you are all set and will not have to worry about this problem - your sensor is sealed inside your camera body safe and sound from any dust or dirt.

This post concerns those who shoot with DSLR cameras and interchange their lenses frequently.

Anna, over at My Only Photo, mentioned it in a comment last week, and it is something that is worth mentioning.

Each time we remove the lens from the camera body, it "breaks" the seal that protects the sensor that is hiding right behind the mirror inside the camera body.

When you take a picture, that mirror that you see when the lens is removed, flips up and exposes the sensor - which in the case of a DSLR, is the film.

So, any dust or dirt that gets on the mirror can easily get on the sensor. When this happens, it acts just like dust or dirt on a lens, and it shows as a black or brown spot in the photo.

Dust is even trickier because the sensor can "see" through it - but it leaves a blurry, uneven blob on the photo.

And remember, some of these are not even visible unless you view the photo as a print or enlarged in your processing program.

So, how does one avoid getting the dust and dirt on the sensor?

One tip that I read long before I owned my DSLR is something that I think makes the most sense:

When changing the lens, keep the camera body aimed down rather than up.

Let gravity work for you - dirt doesn't fall up, and if there is any on the mirror, chances are it will fall out too.

Be quick about it - have everything ready to make the change quickly.

Avoid wind - be it from a fan inside or the wind outside - that will make the dirt "fall up" no matter how you hold your camera body.

Now, as careful as you are, dust or dirt will get on your sensor at some point - it is a fact - no matter how hard you avoid it. The sensors are electrical, and this attracts dust all by itself.

Most of the time, just following the instructions in your manual for blowing it off will work.

There are several other solutions available, but I would offer a strong word of caution about doing this yourself. It is best to let a professional handle it for you.

The sensor in your camera is your camera - with out it you cannot take photos.

If you damage it, you can get it replaced, but it will cost as much as a new camera.

Damaging it is really easy, this piece is most sensitive and fragile and it is not worth taking a chance with it. Dirt scratches it's surface quite easily.

I have had my camera almost three years, and the quick puff method from my bulb blower has solved my dust and dirt problem each time.

I remember the first time I discovered a dust spot, I was beside myself with anxiety.

The last thing I wanted to do was even look at that sensor, forget about cleaning it.

In the end it wasn't as bad as I had imagined, but I still get apprehensive each time I have to do it.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

ABC Wednesday - U is for Under the Dam Tower

U is for Under the Dam Tower............

the dam tower in the flood zone

Standing under this tall tower, it's hard to imagine that in the spring the water rises about 1/2 way up this structure, covering all that is visible in this photo. You can see that in the photo in this post.

This dam was built back in the 1950's and is an important part of the flood system for our state.

I have always found it fascinating how they have built the dam system over the area of several states, and how they all work together to control the water.

It must have taken planning on a big scale to make the whole thing work together so well.

Having experienced this structure in the dry season, and in the flood season, I don't know which one is more awesome.

When it is filled with water, there is such a feeling of sadness or loss - you know what is under all that water.

And standing under it when it is all dried out, one can feel the strength and power of this structure.

Either way, I find each to have their own sense of beauty.

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

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Purple Columbine for Green Thumb Sunday

Purple Columbine for Green Thumb Sunday

a macro of a purple columbine flower

Green Thumb Sunday Blogroll

How to join Green Thumb Sunday

The pollen is out in full force now, and it didn't take long for those little yellow balls to cover the camera lens with a fine layer.

Not too overly impressed by this, I snapped a few quick shots of the beautiful Purple Columbine in the garden.

These beauties have been coming back for many years - always the deep purple with the white centers.

Well, in another garden across the yard, I now have a patch of these growing - and I didn't plant them there.

One of the birds to my feeders must have done the job for me.

And the ones growing in the new area are all one color - an even deeper purple than the ones pictured above.

It makes me wonder if they were brought from a neighbor's garden, or if the seeds were hybrid and were going back to their original genes.

Guess I'll never know, but I wonder what next spring will bring for these pretty Columbines.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Friday's Photo Tip - Watch that Horizon

Friday's Photo Tip - Watch that Horizon

an oil tanker heading out to the open ocean

It seems like such a simple thing - keeping the horizon straight.

You really don't notice it as much when you are taking the photo, but when you see it afterward - either on the computer screen or in the print, it really stands out.

The view finder is so small when you are looking through it, sometimes it is hard to tell, no matter how careful you are.

One good thing about the DSLR viewfinder though, there are lines which you can use to line up the shot. They really help a lot.

The point and shoot cameras give you a good sized image to view on that LCD screen before you take the photo, so it is pretty easy to get them lined up too.

And if all else fails, and the horizon is still askew, then photoshop to the rescue during processing. A little rotating will straighten it out in no time flat.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

ABC Wednesday - T is for Tie

T is for Tie............

an old fashioned blacksmith shop at strawbery banke

A tie and tie tack for a young man of about eight or nine years old.

This was part of the inventory for the webstore that I run, but I had to snag it first for a stock photo before it went up for sale.

We get some neat things in to sell sometimes, so it gives me some interesting things to photograph.

The only thing is, that in order to use them as stock photos, I can't have any of the brand names or logos showing.

That means getting creative with the cropping or moving around to get a different angle.

Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't.

I rather like the shot of the tie and shirt - I hope the young man whom it was purchased for also liked it.

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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