Project 365: Day 53

Aaron is no longer very cooperative when he needs to sit in the cart at the grocery store.  Which means it's much better for his safety and my sanity if I go without him (if at all possible).  The nice thing about going alone after he's in bed is that I can bring my iPod and listen to my music.  Which makes the whole experience that much more enjoyable.


Getting Caught Up on the 365: Day 52

I'm back from a brief internet hiatus.  I've been taking my pictures, now I just need to edit and upload them to my blog.  Also, I'm post-dating just so the count doesn't get screwed up for me and the pictures stay in order.

Here we go.

This was a warm December night so we decided to do our own walking tour of the neighborhood lights.


Project 365: Day 51

Cookie decorating at my mom's house today.


Project 365: Day 50

I didn't realize today was day 50 of this challenge until I wrote the blog title.  If I had known maybe I could have planned for a better, more celebratory image.  Instead I'm going with this.

I didn't take many digital pictures today because I finished off my Lomo film using my DIY Konstruktor camera instead.  Now I just need to send it off and get it developed.  I'm hoping at least ONE picture will turn out decently.  We'll see.  Either way, it was fun to build and play.

Project 365: Day 49

Tree ornament and lights.  I couldn't decide between the black and white or the color version.  

We just replaced our tree lights with LEDs (because nearly all the old ones mysteriously stopped working this year) and while they are bright and colorful the new lights lack a little bit of that warm glow.  So I tried working with that, by trying one in B&W and one in crazy color.  My 5 year old likes the colorful one best, but I kind of like the other one.


Project 365: Day 48

Aaron tried to sneak off upstairs while he thought I wasn't looking.  But I followed him as he went into his room, turned on his lamp (a very small nightstand lamp) and started reading through books.  I love that I captured this quiet moment he had.  But the light was tough and I don't think I edited this well.  I may have to try again sometime.


Project 365: Day 47

This is an image from my last photo class.  We talked about still life lighting for different materials (ceramic, wood, water, translucency, etc.) and ended with a few action shots.  It was really fun, I probably could have spent days playing around with the lighting and objects, but we only had about an hour and a half.  Here's one of the "action" shots I came away with.

50mm, ISO 200, f/3.2, 1/2000
We used a single tungsten halogen lamp which is positioned behind, up, and to the right of the glasses.


Project 365: Day 46

Another attempt at a B&W conversion.  I think to add this to my growing list of "things to seriously figure out during 2014" list.  I love the tones in the original and I was trying to bring out more detail and contrast (specifically good blacks), and yet not lose detail, which is where I have a hard time finding good balance.  I'll keep practicing.

original color image for comparison


Project 365: Day 45

This year's tree topper:


Project 365: Day 44

We have finally gotten around to putting up our Christmas tree.  Dylan decided to play with the lights while we got things ready.  He actually said "hey mom take a picture of me like this."  He also had me take pictures of him holding various colors of light bulbs near his mouth for some reason.

50mm, ISO 2000, f/1.8, 1/160


Project 365: Day 43

Taking a walk with my little one through what's left of the snow.


Project 365: Day 42

Joey came over for a little bit today to hang out with Dylan.   No art this time, they mostly played Sorry while I tended to a ridiculously cranky toddler.


Project 365: Day 41

Sugar and a little light.

One thing this project is forcing me to do... find alternate light.  Especially because there are many days when the sun goes down before I touch my camera.  I shot this using my extension tubes and an LED flashlight in the dark kitchen while making myself a cup of tea.  

50mm with 36mm extension tube, ISO 2000, f/16, 1/200


The Trouble With Editing Photos Is...

I can't make up my mind!  Too many choices and options and small nuances.

Here's an example:
This is straight out of the camera.  It's admittedly a little on the dark side, but I still like it.

This is what I would consider a fairly straight forward edit.  I didn't really do much other than brighten it a bit, sharpen, and add a little more color so it's not so drab.

Noticeably edited.  Bright colors, and a warmer tone overall.  Not really the direction I initially wanted to go in, but it kind of works for a different concept.

A B&W conversion.  This is more of what I had in mind.  I wish I could have gotten the highlights on the tree branches in the foreground a little brighter to show more of the trees' texture without making the fog too bright, but I couldn't figure that out.  

Oh and just for some more fun, here's an infrared conversion.  I wish I could do infrared on my camera, but I think I have to physically have to alter the camera to do that, so I don't see that happening any time soon.  For now I'll just play with the filter in photoshop.  I also cropped this in tighter, which I think works for this.
 So my problem is...  Well first off, I really need to learn how to edit properly.  As of now I just click a bunch of options, slide things until they look "right" and call it a day.  But also, I think that once I start editing again I'm going to have to force myself to be more intentional about what I want the end result to be.  And I'm definitely still trying to figure that out.

Also, my apologies to the people who have been reading my blog for a long time and are now subjected to nonstop photos.  I'll try to get back to other subjects again soon :)

Project 365: Day 40

More wintry weather for today.  I love the snow!  Though photographing it has presented some unique challenges.  Not the least of which being that my fingers freeze!  But it's so pretty.

50mm, ISO 160, f/4.5, 1/200
Converted to b&w


Project 365: Day 39

Icy morning.

300mm with 10mm extension tube, ISO 640, f/5, 1/320

I'm slowly starting to do some editing on my photos again.  I just feel like I don't really know what I'm doing on that end of things.  I think I'll be spending a good amount of time in 2014 trying to figure that out.  Straight out of the camera is still my preferred option though.


Project 365: Day 38

Our first real snow of the season!
I also think this is the first picture I've taken of all four of us all year.  I keep saying that I want to do more of these, but they never happen.  I'd like to do at least one a month during this 365 challenge, but I already failed for the month of November.  Maybe I'll make it 11/12 months.  The focus isn't perfect, and if I had an opportunity to reshoot I'd do about 1000 things differently, but I still love it because it shows how excited and memorized we all are by the snow.

22mm (I'm reborrowing my brother's 14-24 2.8 wide angle lens), ISO 250, f/4, 1/50


Project 365: Day 37

Two brothers having fun just running around the house.

50mm, ISO 1250, f/2.2, 1/160

Running Update

Running has been going pretty good lately.  No major break throughs or personal records or races to report.  Just the slow and steady progress of a continued effort.  Which in and of itself is a success at this point.  I've accepted the fact that I can only really run 3 times a week.  Any more than that makes me a little crazy (schedule wise).  And I've also been running outside in really cold weather for the first time.  Other than needing to get perhaps a pair or 2 of pants and some sort of decent long sleeve top to run in, that has actually been fine.  I tend to run in the middle of the day, so it's not too bitterly cold.  And once I get going I feel totally fine.  The coldest part is after I get back home and need to take a shower.  But it's not as bad as I thought running outside in the cold would be.

So my running stats... as much as I've been keeping track anyway.

On the treadmill:
Average comfortable pace:  5.0 mph
Fastest pace I can hold for 2 minutes without needing to stop:  7.5 mph
Typical run length: between 30-35 minutes
Haven't checked my mile since the last update.

Longest run:  4.2 miles with an 11 minute mile average
Hills are troubling to my hip, but unavoidable outside.

Aches and Pains:
My hip has started hurting again (boo!!!!), but if I take some motrin after a run it goes away and leaves me alone.  I probably shouldn't be doing this, but I've decided to just ignore it and push through.  If it gets bad enough I'll do something about it, but while the pain is minor and manageable I'm just going to live with it.

Other interesting news:
I can maintain a "sprint" kind of pace at the end of my runs for over 2 mintues.  woo :)
I'm debating running a 10k on New Years Eve, but since that's Matt's birthday I think I'm going to skip it and do a 5k on New Years Day instead.  We'll see.
I entered the lottery for the Cherry Blossom 10 miler in April.  Not sure I'll get in, but we'll see.


Project 365: Day 36

Uncle Joey comes over to do some art.
This is one of only 4 pictures I took today.  It's not spectacular by any means, some days are like that.  But it keeps me going on this challenge.


Project 365: Day 35

I may have a library addiction.
50mm, ISO 400, f/3.5, 1/125
light from the bedroom window to the left of the bed, partially diffused by sheer curtains to keep the shadows looking like they come from one light source.


Project 365: Day 34

Aaron has such strong focus and intensity when he's trying to figure out how things work.  His coloring sessions are much more about exploring the crayons, markers, colored pencils, etc. than they are about creating any kind of picture.  He has to know how everything works.

50mm, ISO 640, f/3.5, 1/500
Early morning light coming through a window on his left side.  I would have lowered my ISO since I didn't really need such a fast shutter speed for this shot, but since anything not in the direct sun is super dark I needed the flexibility in my shutter in case I wanted to grab something in a darker part of the room.  But I don't really see too much noise in this shot, so it's probably okay.  For the past week or so I've been really trying to keep my ISO below 800 even in low light and I'm surprised by how much I can get that I didn't think I could before.  It's definitely a different kind of look, but I really like it.

High and Low Key

So here our the shots from my last photography class assignment.  One high key, one low key.  Going into this I was most excited about the low key, because I really love the dark, rich tones.  So I thought the high key was going to be the bigger challenge, and I struggled with it at first.  But in the end, I like that one better.  Maybe because I wound up putting a LOT more thought into it.  A crazy amount of thought.  And I probably re-shot the image like 7 times over the two weeks we had to work on it.  And then I had to look through 100s of pictures to pick "the one."  Hundreds of images of soap... when I got to class I was totally second guessing my choice of subject.  I mean, it's a pretty straight on picture of a bar of soap.  Not the most exciting subject matter ever, especially in comparison with some of the really interesting images other people in the class shared.  But in the end it all worked out.  What I was most pleased with is that people understood the image...  my intentions came through!  woo!  It made me ridiculously happy to know that I was able to communicate my ideas successfully with this image.  Which is that I went for a very literal interpretation of high key... clean (hence the subject) and simple.  And I wanted a softer and more inviting take on something clean and simple, which is why the soap is pink (I tried white too, but that made it seem harsh and sterile).

I'm still working at getting a really good low key shot that I love... though the one I took of my teacher and his wife last night is pretty close.


Project 365: Day 33

Today's picture comes from my photo class session on portrait lighting.  First time I've ever used nice studio lights... and it was really fun to experiment with manipulating the light.  My favorite picture though was of the teacher (Thomas Ramsey) holding a reflector up to bounce some light back onto his wife's face.


Project 365: Day 32

Getting into the Christmas spirit!

I've been posting a lot of dark/low light pictures.  Partially because I'm trying to figure out how to take good pictures in low light without too much noise. (I've been using a wide open aperture and trying to keep my ISO below 600)  And also partly because I seem to keep finding myself hitting the 4:00 hour and thinking "oops, need to take a picture."  I'm hoping to get some daylight images up for the rest of the week.

Also, I used G+ to edit this a teeny tiny bit because otherwise Dylan's was completely blacked out.  My first edited picture yet.  And G+ has a surprising amount of editing options.

50mm lens, f/1.8, 1/50s, ISO 400


Project 365: Day 31

Dylan helped me with my photography class assignment tonight.  Here's one of the outtakes, just being silly.


Project 365: Day 30

Yay!  I made it through the whole first month of this project!!  My postings may have been late at times, but I did manage to actually take a picture everyday (usually I took closer to 100 pictures everyday).  Excited to keep this project going.  Hopefully my images will improve by the end of the year.


Project 365: Day 29

Happy Black Friday!  It's a tradition to go out bright and early (dark and early) on Friday morning with my mom and sisters so we can get a free Mickey Mouse snowglobe at JCPenny, some coffee, and then do some shopping.  This year Aaron got to come with us.  I have been trying to get over my shyness when it comes to taking pictures in public spaces, so I took a brave 10 pictures while we were out.  Except that putting all my energy into taking these pictures in the first place apparently left nothing for my brain to think about anything important like good composition (hello "Free ATMs" sign and leaning building).  Baby steps though.


Project 365: Day 28

Happy Thanksgiving!  I had the best of intentions for taking a great family photo today to show what I am most thankful for.  But unfortunately, that just didn't happen.  Instead I wound up grabbing my camera and shooting in the dark at the end of the day when I remembered that I needed to put the trash and recycling out.  This was the best of the 5 shots I took all day.


Project 365: Day 27

I know it's really hard to see, but this was one of the first light snows of the season.  It didn't snow for long and nothing stuck, but it was still wonderful for us anyway.

In Which I Finally Admit It To Myself

I'm giving up on piano.  Not in the sense that I'll never play again; I love sitting at the piano and working on music, and I'll still do that.  But in the sense that I have finally accepted the fact that I'm not going to be as good as I'd like to be.  For some reason this has not been an easy thing to admit to myself.  The fact of the matter though, is that I have invested a lot of time and effort and money into learning to play and learning about music (hello college degree).  And I really want to be a competent musician.  Not a world class performer, but you know, I think I should be able to successfully accompany a church choir at this point (I have accompanied church choirs in my past, but successfully?  no).  Or play through an intermediate piece of music without much practice.  But I can't.  I can play an early advanced piece with a few months of practice though.  It takes months, and that intermediate piece, that probably takes a few weeks.  Way longer than it should.  And still way harder than it should be.  The truly frustrating part is that my brain is light years ahead of my hands where music is concerned. I get music.  It makes sense to me.  I understand how it works, why it works, from the simple building blocks through the complex relationships.  I get it.  But my hands don't.  There's a huge disconnect between brain and hands when I look at a piece of music.  My brain says "ah, yes... let's go" and my hands fumble and stumble and shake, and it all falls apart.  Maybe I just don't have the physical coordination (which is unsurprising when I think about how terrible I am with sports).  I've thought for years that if I just kept at it and worked harder, longer, smarter, I'd break through "the wall" and become the musician I've thought was locked up inside me.  And maybe if I did, one day that would happen.  But that's just not doable in my current position in life.  I don't have hours and hours to dedicate solely to practicing.  And I don't really want to keep dedicating so much time to something that is obviously a big weakness and a source of frustration and admittedly, shame... if instead I could focus that energy on things that are more important or that I'm good at, or things that I could be good at.

So anyway, that's where I am on that.


Project 365: Day 26

A rainy, cold, dark night.


Project 365: Day 25

This was just a "let me see how these settings are" shot before I took the actual planned shot.  So I pointed the camera off at nothing and fired away.  But I kind of like it.  I'm collecting shots of pictures of my house with no people.  Kind of like still life or actually more like empty life pictures.  I think I may add this one to the mix.


Project 365: Day 24

I feel like most of my pictures lately have just been practicing and trying different things.  The result isn't as important right now as the process.  One day I'll be able to focus on the actual image more.  Despite how dark this is, I took it in a well it room at about noon today.  But when significantly underexposed it looks dark and moody.  I really wanted to do this same kind of shot on the stairs, but I messed up the timing with the way the light comes through my windows which caused me to miss the opportunity, so I'll have to try again another day.

Project 365: Day 23

I didn't take many pictures today.  But I did manage to get one of a beautiful sunset... while in the car (Matt was driving).


Project 365: Day 22

Things I Pay Attention To (whether I want to or not)

You know how there are things that you never noticed until someone points it out... and then you see it everywhere.  And you can't go back to NOT noticing it.  Here are some of the things in my life that I never noticed, and probably never would have noticed, had someone not pointed them out to me.

MusicPart 1:  Okay, I notice a lot in music, because I studied for so long, so I'm not going to list everything.  But the only thing I can never turn off, and that I figure out in the back of my mind without even putting any real thought into is the meter of a song.  And if it's in anything other than common time, I will most definitely comment on it.  If you have ever listened to music with me and I point out how "hey, this song is in 3/4"  "or hey look a song in 6/8, that almost never happens with stuff on the radio" you've gotten a little glimpse of what my brain does to every song, every time.  Also, if there is ever a meter change or complex rhythm like a hemiola (believe it or not they happen even in pop music) I will get ridiculously excited.  I'm nerdy when it comes to these things.

Music Part 2: A specific melodic pattern that is used in improvisation a lot.  My jazz teacher (I only ever took one jazz class) made us memorize all these short licks and standard progressions that are frequently used.  I hear them all the time.  ALL THE TIME.  Actually I should credit this same teacher for training my brain to never stop critically listening to music.  I may have written about this before, but one day when we got to class (it was a super early class), he was playing a CD.  Class officially started, but he didn't say anything, just let the music play for a few more minutes.  Then he stopped the song before it was over and said "pop quiz-- what was the structure of that song and where in the structure did I stop it?"  Um, yeah I failed that because aside from the fact that my ears were hearing it, I wasn't actually paying any attention to it.  And also, he loved to do really random off the wall things like that: pop quizzes, make us play a song without music in all 12 keys on the spot, force us to use a metronome but shift the down beat we played to the upbeat of the metronome, also to play with a metronome--mute it in the middle of a passage while we keep playing--unmute the metronome--show us how sucky our internal beat is when we were way off.  It sucked.  But damn it if I didn't learn a lot in that class.  (also this is the same teacher who told me at the beginning of my final playing exam that I was a terrible pianist "but go ahead and finish the test anyway"... gee thanks!)  Okay, I got a little bit off topic... moving on.

Literature:  The approximation of "my foot found purchase" as it appears in nearly every novel ever written in the English language.  Well, not really.  A friend of mine pointed out this phrase after she read a book that I had suggested to her.  A book that I had read, and yet did not remember coming across that phrase.  She said the author used it a lot and she found it distracting because it's not a commonly used phrase.  And I swear 75% of the novels I've read since that have used a phrase about something finding or not finding purchase.  It's really comical at this point and I always smile and think of my friend whenever I come across it.  One of these days I'm going to work that phrase into a conversation.

Photography:  In a word... light.  In many more words... light in the morning, light in the afternoon, is it cloudy?  What kind of light comes into the house in which window at various times of day.  Look at that shadow.  Huh, look at how the trees on one side of the road seem to be a different color from the trees on the other side because of how the sunlight is hitting them.  I notice how much darker it is inside even though our house gets tons of natural light.  I notice how my eye sees so much better in different light situations than my camera.  It won't turn off.


Project 365: Day 21

I kind of took it easy with the camera today.  I got a few cute shots of the kids doing their thing, but I'm trying not to over do it with kid shots.  So here is my sharing picture.  I took this while looking for inspiration for my upcoming photo class assignment: one high key, one low key.  I could probably use this as is for the high key, but I'm going to try and do a few things on another to see if I can make it better and add a little to make it a bit more interesting, I just have to wait for more light.  But this is a good start, I see potential.  Hopefully I'm not wrong.