Thursday, March 31, 2011

Sliced heat

I may get a bit tired of my husband's VERY limited wardrobe (all black t-shirts except for the winter, when he switches to black sweatshirts), but I have to admit that it comes in very handy when I want to take a picture of the food on the table between us.  I'm not crazy about the lighting - lit from the right by a little lamp on the table but just the ambient light of the restaurant on the left, but I didn't want to pop off a flash and distract everyone from their dinner.  At least the background is clean!

Canon 5D Mark II
80mm - ISO 1250
1/50s- f/4

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Now how did that get there?

I have been on a real nature kick lately.  I am just so happy that Spring is finally showing up around my part of the country!  This is definitely the time of year to have your camera with you at all times.  There is always something growing and blooming, people are getting outside more, and the weather is warming up.  Remember, the old basketball saying works in photography too - "You will miss 100% of the shots you don't take."

Canon 5D Mark II
105mm - ISO 2000
1/60s- f/11

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Both sheep and shepherd

We adopted a kitten last year who had a broken femoral head, which required surgery before we could bring him home.  That in turn necessitated a longish recovery time, during which time we needed to keep him safe from our large, curious Labrador.  So, the kitten lived in the dog's (huge) Pet Porter for a few months while he healed.  To keep him from getting lonely, we bought him a stuffed lamb to cuddle with.  That poor lamb spent many months being tackled, gnawed on, sucked on, covered in kitty litter, and survived a few trips through the washing machine and dryer along the way.  Amazingly, he made it through with eyes and ears intact, although the stitching on his nose is a bit worse for wear.

Sadly for the lamb, the kitten grew up and doesn't want to play anymore, so the lamb sits on top of a shelf overlooking the kitten's favorite sleeping spot.

Canon 5D Mark II
105mm - ISO 2000
1/30s- f/4

Monday, March 28, 2011


We had this great wet snow last night, and when I woke up this morning, it was clinging to all of the buds of the honeysuckle tree in my front yard.  I wouldn't mind if a bunch of them froze, actually; that tree is so invasive I have to cut it back several times a year or the mailman has to fight his way to the mailbox!

Canon 5D Mark II
105mm - ISO 1250
1/100s- f/4

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Choo Choo

Overexposed this a bit by accident, but I kind of like the way it turned out  (thank you RAW).  The sky really was that white - not my favorite kind of day, but it allowed the colors of the train and crossing signals to pop out.  So, I should be grateful it wasn't a perfect blue-sky kind of day.  I wanted every last bit of detail that I could get, but also some blur on the train going by, so I closed down the aperture as low as it could go.  

Canon 5D Mark II
24mm - ISO 1600
1/80s- f/22

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Don't fly into me!

Heading home from church tonight, I was captured by the light of a radio tower floating up through the mist.  I like the look of the picture, but was hampered by my lack of a tripod.  Actually, I had the tripod, but the mount was on a different camera, so I might as well not have had it.  The tripod would have let me lower the ISO down significantly, removing noise from the picture and sharpening it.  I was pretty pleased at the results of a 2-second hand-held shot, but it would have been much improved if it was perfectly still.

Nikon D90
18mm - ISO 1600
2s- f/3.5

Some days it isn't

Some days it isn't easy.  This is Day 84 in my year in pictures, and occasionally, I can run out of inspiration.  I have spent most of the year being amazed at all of the beautiful and interesting things going on around me that I had never noticed before, but there are also days like today when nothing shows up. 

I used a long lens to isolate the subject and eliminate the background.  I bounced a 580EX II on manual set to 1/32 power zoomed to 14mm off the ceiling, so I would just get a kiss of light back down on the button.

Canon 5D Mark II
176mm - ISO 800
1/25s- f/5.6

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Opening to spring

I took some brighter, happier shots today, of forsythia and daffodils (see Flickr on the right side of the page), but for some reason this one, of the tiny leaves of a bush starting to unfurl, spoke to me more.  I used a long zoom lens to take the photo, along with a wide open aperture, which accounts for the insanely shallow depth of field.  The other branches are only 2-3 inches away, but because of the DOF, they look miles away.

Canon 5D Mark II
300mm - ISO 200
1/125s- f/5.6

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Why not?

If you are a farmer in western Kansas, and are tired of your car, but don't want to pay someone to tow it to the dump, why wouldn't you just put it in the same hole that your grandfather and great-grandfather put theirs?  Seems eminently logical to me.  It is a pretty funny sight - so if you are ever on I-70 two miles or so east of Kanorado, be sure to check it out.

Although, if this is actually the site of some horrific highway accident, instead of my interpretation of what happened, I offer a thousand apologies.

Canon 5D Mark II
300mm - ISO 200
1/320s- f/16

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Mile High Sky(line)

For our last night in Denver, we stopped off at the Auraria Campus parking garage to catch the east side of the downtown skyline.  I tried different combinations of aperture and shutter speed, and ended up liking the picture with a wider aperture (f4) than I normally go for on these types of shots.  I am a big fan of tight apertures in these situations, which turn lights into twinkling stars.  But, those apertures correspond to slow shutter speeds, and the wind was super strong tonight.  This had the effect of "blowing" the light from even stationary objects around - which I know doesn't make sense, but that is what showed up in my shots. 

Canon 5D Mark II
28mm - ISO 640
2s- f/4

(Photoshop confession:  I did edit out a distracting ball field in the foreground.  I normally try to limit myself to color tweaks for this blog, but couldn't resist on this one.)  

Monday, March 21, 2011

Shooting a low-contrast puppy

In the Rocky Mountains today with our black lab, Yeager, who is always hard to photograph because of his black coat.  Here we posed him in the dappled sun and hoped for the best.

Check out my Flickr photostream for some pictures of yesterday's wildfire west of Golden, CO.  Pretty freaky stuff.

Canon 5D Mark II
28mm - ISO 800
1/500s- f/8

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Mommy & me

Another nice accessory for a photography is a beautiful sister-in-law and her handsome new son.  Their living room has a two-floor wall of windows that face north, but the house next door is painted a light cream, so all of the western light bounces off the house next door like a massive softbox. The natural light in that room is just stunning, so I didn't have to do any work at all!

Canon 5D Mark II
100mm - ISO 400
1/100s- f/4

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Near miss with a near moon

Today I wanted to take a great shot of the near moon, but alas, the clouds were not cooperating.  Below is as good as I could get!  I had to take it about 2 hours after the prime shooting time, because of heavy cloud cover. The moon was as close to the earth as it has been for 18 years, but you can't tell that from the picture.  If you are trying to show the scale of the moon, it is best to show it near objects which are rooted in terra firma, like trees or skylines.  But, since I had to wait so long for the clouds to dissipate, it was too high.  Oh well, maybe tomorrow!

Canon 5D Mark II
238mm - ISO 640
1/50s- f/20

Friday, March 18, 2011

I just can't help myself!

I got a Nook Color for Christmas, and really love it.  However, with a road trip on the horizon, I couldn't resist the urge to get a real book (or two - okay, four) in my hands.  Still an old-fashioned girl at heart, I guess.

Canon 5D Mark II
67mm - ISO 1250
1/50s- f/4

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Spring grill

There's nothing like watching a burger cook on the grill on an unseasonably warm spring day.  No bugs yet, no hot sun, just beef, flame, and that wonderful smell in the air.  I used a little bit of flash bounced up into the sky to bring up the burger and wooden tray a bit; those grills can get pretty dark.  There is definitely an art to photographing food on the grill, so I'm sure you will see many more throughout the summer as I work to refine the technique.  And, I'm open to BBQ invitations...just for the sake of my art, of course.

Canon 5D Mark II
85mm - ISO 500
1/100s- f/5

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Open to the sun

Crocuses like the ones below which are currently blooming in my strawberry patch only seem to open in the bright sunlight.  That can make taking their picture kind of tough unless you have a neutral density filter to reduce the light entering the lens.  An alternative solution, especially with tiny flowers such as these, is to simply block the light with your body, an object, or someone else.  The crocuses will stay open, since you are only blocking the direct sunlight for a short period of time, and you have your shot.

Canon 5D Mark II
82mm - ISO 500
1/320s- f/4

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Crouching crocus hidden saffron

Crocuses are some of my favorite flowers, because they are some of the first that bloom each year.  You have to be careful of them, because they are only about 4" high.  They are only open from about 10 a.m. - 5 p.m., so they are also hard to catch "awake".

Canon 5D Mark II
105mm - ISO 400
1/125s- f/4

Monday, March 14, 2011

Discovery awaits

A quick shot of the under-construction Kansas Children's Discovery Center this evening.  It is going to be a beautiful place once it is all finished.  The back wall seems to be covered in a colored film in rainbow colors, letting in some gorgeous light at sunset.  Found out later that they have a construction webcam running on their website, so anyone watching might have wondered about the lady wandering around with the camera.  Oh well, I didn't do anything I'm ashamed of (that I can remember...).

Canon 5D Mark II
28mm - ISO 200
1/125s- f/4

Sunday, March 13, 2011

It was a dark and snowy night

It was a dark and snowy night.  So of course we went out to take some pictures!  Here the trees are lit by my car headlights while I stayed nice and warm inside.

Canon 5D Mark II
93mm - ISO 800
1/2s- f/5.6

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Editing duty

A very long day of editing pictures from last night's shoot.  So, today's picture is a pretty accurate representative of my day.  The back lit keyboard of the laptop is really what made this shot possible.  Otherwise, it wouldn't really make sense at all, visually.

Canon 5D Mark II
55mm - ISO 3200
1/40s- f/4


Celebrating 70 days of this blog with a picture of awesome bassist Victor Wooten in concert at The Granada in Lawrence.  I didn't shoot with flash tonight, because I didn't want to be annoying and/or kicked out.  Shot about 800 pictures over the course of the show, so that would have been a lot of flash.  Plus, most of the time the flash doesn't reach the stage anyway, just gets the people in front of you, and is annoying to the musicians. 

If you have the ISO to handle it, I recommend shooting concerts with no flash, in shutter-priority mode set at a speed that you can comfortably hand-hold.  For a long shoot like tonight, 1/50 is pretty comfortable for me. 

Start with a high ISO and work downward; you want as little ISO as possible.  If you use no-flash automatic mode, on some cameras at least, it will kick your ISO up to the top before it closes down your aperture, which blows everything out and destroys detail, so you might not be happy with the results.  Give the shutter-priority a try on your next dark shoot and see what you think.

Shooting in RAW is a must, because you can bring up the exposure a bit in post-production if needed.

Nikon D90
105mm - ISO 1250
1/50s- f/5.6

Thursday, March 10, 2011

A walk in the woods

I hope I never get lost in the woods at night.  I think it would be a scary place.  This is actually some landscaping around an office park, but I thought it would stand in nicely for the woods.

Nikon D90
80mm - ISO 400
1/13s- f/5.3

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Lucky dirt

This shoe once adorned the foot of a Kentucky Derby champion.  Which one, I'm not sure.  Or, it could have been one of the exercise ponies.  All I know is that it contains official Churchill Downs dirt, and I choose to believe it was worn by a champ! 

Lighting provided by SB900 fired on camera bounced off of the wall about 3' away from the horseshoe, set on 1/16 power.

The background is actually a brown paper shopping bag, but I thought it kind of looked like old saddle leather.

Nikon D90
75mm - ISO 200
1/50s- f/5.6

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Walled in

Nobody really believes me when I complain about the wallpaper in the kitchen of our rental house.  Hopefully this will remove all doubt.  I wanted to add to the horror by photographing into a corner, which gives you a fairly accurate impression of what it feels like. 

I mean, who really thought wallpaper with artichokes, ducks, pineapples, pumpkins and coffee grinders was a good idea?  Although, now that I look closer, maybe those aren't ducks hiding behind the pineapples.  Either way...unforgivable.

Nikon D90
18mm - ISO 200
1/30s- f/5.6

Monday, March 7, 2011

Frogs and violent frosting

This shoot made me very happy.  It combines two of my favorite things; photography and dessert!  We had some cupcakes left over from my husband's birthday yesterday, and the violently red-frosted one was begging to be photographed. 

I really wanted the cupcake to be the star of the show, so I pulled the racks out of my oven and perched it on an upside-down black coffee mug on the open oven door and killed the kitchen lights.  The flash is set at camera left (cupcake right - ha!) just about 4" above the top of the cupcake and pointed up and back a bit towards the edge of the open oven.  The reflections from the metal on the oven are causing some nice diffused light on the back side of the cupcake, and the front is lit by the spillover from the bare flash.

And I think the frog is a St. Patrick's Day thing - I'm not sure.

Canon 5D Mark II
105mm - ISO 400
1/125s- f/4

Canon 580EXII
1/32 power

Sunday, March 6, 2011


You have to click to enlarge this one. 

Great night at Overflow at FBC.  

Canon 5D Mark II
32mm - ISO 4000
1/15s- f/8

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Unwanted coleslaw

Unwanted coleslaw sounds like a pretty good band name to me.  I liked this picture because of the way that the flash interacted with the shallow depth of field and the shiny surfaces.  I fired the flash on camera, pointed straight up to the ceiling.  If I had put a warming gel on the flash, the light would have been more subtle, but I like the way the white bowl and pale green coleslaw are brought out by the pure bare flash. 

I fired it on manual at 1/64 power, which according to Nikon, means that the duration of the flash was 1/35700 sec. 

My shutter speed was 1/60 sec, which means that the light from the flash only shone for 0.1% of the time that the shutter was open.  It is hard to believe that such a short period of time can affect a shot so much, but it really can.

Nikon D90
50mm - ISO 400
1/60s- f/1.8

Friday, March 4, 2011

All hail

We had an unexpected hailstorm in the middle of a chilly, rainy day.  I ran out and took some pictures of it falling onto the tulips and mulch.  I used a wide aperture and fast shutter to catch it in mid-air and bouncing on the ground. 

Canon 5D Mark II
105mm - ISO 500
1/1000s- f/4

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Boys and their toys part 2

You can buy a kid all the toys in the world, but I'm not sure any of them makes him as happy as a stick and a bunch of dirt to play in...

Canon 5D Mark II
75mm - ISO 800
1/160s- f/4

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The stash

Continuing on the cookie theme today, here is a shot of our stash.  I wanted a shallow DOF, so used the 50 prime.  Nikon or Canon, a good one is only about $150, so I highly recommend one for just about everyone.  I wanted a bit more light on the subject, so I bounced a SB900 off the wall to the right of the open box.

Nikon D90
50mm - ISO 200
1/60s- f/1.8

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Midnight snack

I'm not sure which part of today's shoot was the hardest, pouring the milk while taking the shot (and putting it back in the jug, mopping up the puddles and trying again when I poured too fast the first time), or keeping the dog from eating the cookies. 

I shot this in a dark room, with the only light being a flash pointed at the wall about four feet away on camera left. 

To me, it looked like the light of a refrigerator door left just slightly ajar so one wouldn't wake the whole house while sneaking some Girl Scout cookies.  Not that I would know what that looks like in real life...

My only regret is cutting off the cookies on the right side.  Part of the hazards of shooting in the dark, I guess!

Nikon D90
50mm - ISO 200
1/125s- f/2