Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Forties Top 40, #36


#36: Riding the fence on whether I'm young or old.

Sometime after I turned 40, we were singing a song in church with these lyrics about praising God:

Praise you in the morning, praise you in the evening
Praise you when I'm young and when I'm old
Praise you when I'm laughing, praise you when I'm grieving
Praise you every season of the soul.

For a brief but memorable moment I had a little identity crisis.  "Am I young or old??"

This is one of the things that has made my forties incredibly enjoyable.  I have had some of the best of both.  And depending on the situation, I have been old enough to choose for myself whether to be young or not.

I have lived in the same area and known many of the same people for all but two of the past 24 years.  When I moved here, I was 25.  I am blessed with friends of all ages.  The people who were 49 then (my current age) are now 73.  They were my friends then, and they are my friends now.  Some of them are young, and some of them are old, and a few of them haven't survived.  Most of them probably vacillate between young and old several times on any given day.  Today I listen to my creaky knees, and having observed the aging process a few times, I can see where this is going.  It makes me appreciate my health and helps me be determined to take care of myself so I can stay on the young side of old.

By the same token, I love being on the older side of young.  Experience has taught me to be comfortable in my own skin, and to not worry so much about what other people think.  To trust myself a little more.  To trust God a lot more, after seeing him faithful time after time.  Some of the things that were once struggles just aren't any longer.  I love the insight and challenges that come from adult friends who are younger than I am.  It's so good to be here on this side, I often think.

When I'm young and when I'm old.  I sure hope I can straddle that fence for another decade.  It's a blissful season.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Skyway Open


I don't have any idea


what it is about going downtown



that makes me feel like a kid in a candy store.


But it never fails.


This was a cool event.


The Boys and Girls Clubs in our city hosted a fundraiser


where different companies and organizations donated
creatively designed mini-golf holes
(there was a contest for the coolest design)


and then they opened it up for the public to come and play.


My sister and nephew came with us,
which made it extra fun.


We got a lot of exercise going from one hole to another.



Someone commented that they really should have provided carts.


I was pointing my camera up at this ceiling
and telling Bethany how much I love this building.
She looked up and said, "It CONFUSES me!"



Ben says the Skyway Open should be a major.
At least in our family.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

My favorite photography tips that anyone can do


Yesterday I went to the zoo with a list of things I've learned to look for in a good photo, determined to use as many of them as I could.  I have done all of them a number of times, and yet, I forget.  I wanted to put them all in one place intentionally so I could remember. Who knows?  Maybe they will jog someone else's memory too.

1.  Look for the light.  (More about that here.)


Day 1 of Photography 101.  It was a cloudy day, but these icicles had no trouble capturing the light for me.

2.  Find natural frames. (Great tutorial here.)


This "frame" came with bonus silhouettes, which I love!


The bears' den has the perfect opportunity for framing through the window.  I could have cropped in closer to get even more of the sweet exchange between bear and boy--but with the stark contrast between snow and shadows, the detail isn't great, and the upper rock really completes the photo with a dark frame.


Since I was looking for frames, I noticed this cool door and door handle and shot through it.

3.  Zoom in


Also known as filling your frame.  I am constantly amazed by what people leave out of their photos, but it makes what they leave in so intriguing!


I really want to work on this one!

4. Shoot from a variety of angles.


From above


From below


At their level...


...this really goes for humans too!
(Expert help on that here.)


Tilt your camera a bit in different directions to see which angle incorporates the most interesting details.  Don't over think it.  Take photos from several different angles if you can't decide. (Here is a post that really helped me get this concept, and here is a post of my own where I really practiced it.)

5.  Slow down and notice the details.


This is a drain cover in a wide open walkway. I must have walked right by it at least a dozen times before. Probably even stepped on it. There are a lot of beautiful designs and textures that show up in completely unexpected places.

6. Shoot with your camera out of focus. (My favorite example ever here and my replication of it here.)

There are patterns and light that really pop out at you when your camera is out of focus.  If you have a DSLR camera, you just put your lens on manual focus, and then set it out of focus.  Just remember to put it back on auto-focus when you are done.  Trust me on that!!

If you have a point and shoot camera, you can do this too. If you have a macro ("flower") setting, try using that.  Focus your camera first on something much closer than your subject, like your hand. Press the shutter down halfway, and then while keeping the shutter pressed (focus lock), aim the camera back at your subject and press the rest of the way to take your picture.  Another way to do it is to focus on something you plan to keep in the foreground.  Here is an example of mine.  I'll leave more details on that for another post.


This was a bunch of chairs that were stacked and stored under an awning for the winter.


This one took no effort whatsoever.  My lens was on auto-focus, and it noticed all of the water on the glass and assumed that was its subject.  I thought about trying to refocus on the bear, but decided to go ahead and snap the picture first.  I was so glad!  I have taken many out of focus shots that I have loved, and yet it's the one I often think of only after the fact.

7.  Use "leading lines" to draw attention to your subject.


This photo came about quite by accident.  I was trying to use this wall to create negative space (which will need to be demonstrated some other time), when I saw this mom and daughter, all by themselves, or so they thought.  See them way up ahead of me?  They were just having a great, relaxing time together.  I decided to quickly take advantage of that wall, and let it pull the viewer's eye right up to them.  They were downhill from me, so I also got down low to elevate them a little in the photo.  The lines on the wall, along with the line of snow and the direction of the trail, plus the fence from the right all converge on the two unsuspecting zoo guests, drawing your eyes straight to them immediately.  I tried to take another one with them in focus instead of the wall, but they disappeared out of sight just that fast.  Too bad I didn't get there about ten seconds sooner.

I loved the way it turned out though--can't you just picture an intentional subject(s) in focus right there where the path begins to widen?

8.  And finally, wait for it...


No really, that's it.  Wait for it.  It just takes patience to let the photo come to you.  Sometimes you have a vision of what it will look like, and other times you have no idea.  In the sea otter's case, he was doing laps.  So I focused on the spot where he was usually most visible, and locked in there until he passed through again.  Click!  It was worth the wait.

There are a few other things well worth mentioning that I didn't actually accomplish on this trip.   Aw, too bad!  I guess I'll have to go again.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Forties Top 40, #37


#37: Learning to notice the little things.


As I've started to reflect on my fifth decade,


I realize that a lot of what it's held for me has to do with having kids in my late thirties.


My sense of wonder has grown like crazy.


Photography has made that so richly rewarding.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Hugs and Kisses


It's been awhile since I participated in an iheartfaces photo challenge.  
This week's theme is "Hugs and Kisses", 
and I just can't resist entering this shot
of my sister-in-law, Paula, and her kids on Christmas.
It took no prompting from me whatsoever.
By far my favorite of the day!

Photo Challenge Submission

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Scavenger Hunt Sunday: Valentine edition



I played with making heart-shaped bokeh.  I wouldn't call it a huge success, but it was fun.
This verse is one of my very favorites.  Can you imagine God singing over us?
That's love!!



We went to open gym to work on some basketball skills.  I loved the reflections on the waxed floor.
(It's a stretch for the Valentine edition, but there are purple hearts on Bethany's shoes.)



Just when I thought we were done with the Happy Meal toy trend.
(I know this prompt was Twitter related, but I'm not on "The Twitter".)



I loved the paisley design on this menu where we had lunch on Valentine's Day.



Again...I'm a sucker for sprinkles.  Goes totally against
my "green" husband's disdain for packaging.  Sorry Buddy!
(In fairness to myself, I refuse to buy double wrapped bread, so that's something.)

Friday, February 17, 2012

Forties Top 40, #38


#38: Cheaters.
(Especially, the $1 kind.)

When I turned 40 I thought I would probably be heading to Target for some the next day.  Turned out I got four bonus years.  (Lee has yet to succumb at 48!  But it won't be long.)


Even with the bonus years, after that long without ever having glasses, it was a little shocking.


But now?  They are my friend.
And in combination with the magnifying mirror
they are a life saver.


Because in your 40s, 
"Not by the hairs on my chinny chin chin!"
takes on a whole new meaning.
And they are harder to see when they're white.
Don't worry.  It sounds worse than it is.

One more thing...


The entertainment possibilities are endless!