Friday, August 26, 2011

blue skies, happy hearts, next 100 miles

These end of summer, transitioning to autumn skies have the most lovely shades of blue. Whenever I am in the car, I am pressed to the window with my camera, just watching the clouds go by and hoping I can capture the way I feel.
highway tree

This week, we managed to get a little lost on the way to visit a friend and managed to pass the airport a few times, with a plane landing each time. I was in heaven.
Fort Lauderdale airport 9
Fort Lauderdale airport landing
Fort Lauderdale airport 10
Fort Lauderdale airport 11
Fort Lauderdale airport landing 2

Days like today, I just want to soak up the sunshine and squirrel it away for those cold January mornings.
Shadowood sign

connection [52:34]

This weeks's theme for project 52 is connections. Sometimes I honestly forget how many great friendships I've forged... until I see my friends doing things like this to make sure I have a photo for the week.
project 52-34-playground Shakespeare

Friday, August 19, 2011

world photography day 2011

Today is World Photography Day. I probably wouldn't have known if I didn't have twitter, but all my photo friends are excitedly tweeting about it. Not to mention, there's a photo contest going on today to win an awesome camera bag. I'll admit that Scarlett and Stephen gave me an extra incentive to write this post. ;)

world photography day sunset 1
Lately I've been shooting less and working on being more precise with my photography. While agonizing about settings will make me a better photographer in the long run, it takes away some of the passion from the day-to-day. I carry my camera with me everywhere but I don't take nearly as many pictures as I used to.
Today, I decided to take a step backwards and reevaluate what made me love photography so much in the first place: it provides me with the opportunity to share the way I see the world with other people. That's why I'm glued to my camera all the time; that's why I blog. Sometimes, I swear that's what I live for.
As I was contemplating what I wanted to photograph, my house was filled with a strange quality of light. I looked out the window and then ran to get the camera. The colors of the sky after a stormy day in South Florida are unreal. With the exception of a slight boost in contrast and a touch of sharpening (because I don't let my camera do that for me), this is straight out of camera. I shot in program mode so Kaylee (my 50D) picked the settings. I couldn't be bothered to fidget with my camera; I just wanted to marvel at the sunset. This is what photography is to me and it's what I should be celebrating today.
world photography day sunset 2

Thursday, August 18, 2011

baby sea turtles [52:33]

Last night, I finally got the chance to attend a sea turtle hatchling release. It was an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Because the baby turtles find the ocean by heading towards the brightest light (the moon reflecting off the waves), we weren't allowed to have any lights. The staff running the release had red LED flashlights but otherwise, it was pitch black. I bumped my ISO, focused manually, steadied my arms, and hoped.
project 52-33-sea turtle release
This is the only photo that was in focus and properly exposed.

Monday, August 15, 2011

double brother trouble

On Thursday, I finally got to meet Mr. Liam and take his picture. The last time I formally photographed his family, it was just his mom, dad, and Preston. But now, Liam has joined the party and is stealing hearts as easily as his big brother.

Originally, I was supposed to photograph Liam as a teeny, tiny newborn. But his stay in the NICU, followed by family plans on both sides, meant that I didn't get to see him until now. Sadly, he's outgrown his desire to sleep through everything and that made posing him a little bit harder. We tried to put him in a basket and he just wasn't interested; he'd rather look around.
baby Liam diptych 1
baby Liam 1
baby Liam diptych 2
As long as he could look at us or out the window, he was happy.
baby Liam 2
baby Liam diptych 3
baby Liam 3
baby Liam diptych 4

Part of the shoot was planned around an awesome photo I found on another photographer's blog. (Thanks CALIMA portraits! If you see this, we should be friends.) Kat and I went to the Honors College together and she wants to be a librarian, so how could be not pose her baby among our books?
baby Liam 4
baby Liam diptych 5
It's no coincidence that Bright From the Start is the book under his head; he's going to be super smart.
baby Liam 5

Once Liam went to sleep, I decided to have a little fun with Preston. He was so good the entire time, climbing around to help us. You can tell he loves his baby brother. Since his brother got lots of cute pictures, he deserved some too.
Preston 1
In true Brenda fashion, I decided to throw caution to the wind and have Preston jump on the bed... with all of us grown-ups. I even jumped on the bed with my camera in hand to catch him in mid-air.
Preston diptych 1
Preston 2
Preston diptych 2
Preston 3
Preston diptych 3
Preston 4

Earlier in the day, we tried to get Preston to sit on the books so we could get a photo of him holding Liam and he wouldn't do it. Right before I left, he decided he was going to sit on the books and read to Horton and I.
Preston diptych 4
Storytime is serious business to Mr. Preston.

A few posts back, I mentioned that I wanted to get better at shooting in manual mode. With the exception of a test shot to see what the depth of field was with my lens, every single shot was in manual mode. While there were some outtakes where the settings were off, especially the focus, the majority of the shots came out wonderfully. I did have a few laughable mishaps with setting my shutter speed to sync with my flash, but it was all in good fun.
Preston outtake diptych
I'm not there yet but I'm certainly learning.

Friday, August 12, 2011

calm before the storm [52:32]

The title is appropriate. This week's project 52 theme is "my favorite time of day" and I happen to have caught a break in the clouds, right before a torrential downpour.
project 52-32-calm before the storm
The title is also metaphorical, in that I am going to flood the blog with photos as soon as I finish editing them.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

simplicity is key

Patience is something that I'm not very good at. Once I get excited about something, asking me to wait feels like being forcibly held back. I just blogged about shooting manually an hour ago and now I'm blogging the rest of the photos from my walk.
I just walked around the house. It's not like I went on a grand adventure, yet I am as happy as if I was wandering in a forest far away. The simplicity of the shots, just some raindrops and where they gather, is relaxing to me. The simple processing in Photoshop that accents but doesn't overwhelm the subject matter is calming. I couldn't wait to share these because of how happy they make me.
rainy walk 1
rainy walk 2
rainy walk 3
rainy walk 4
rainy walk 5

Saturday, August 6, 2011

manual mode

I will be the first to admit that shooting in manual mode is daunting. I never know where to begin and I'm always afraid of missing my shot because I'm fidgeting with settings. When I'm shooting something that matters, I shoot in aperture priority mode and use exposure compensation to get the exposure the way I imagine it. In theory, I could shoot manually and adjust the RAW file in post-production, but that doesn't feel right to me. So I don't shoot manual often. But the only way to get better at something is to do it. Practice, practice, practice.

It was drizzling outside but the light was lovely. Raindrops were dripping off all the leaves and as soon as one fell, another took its place. There was no stress because I was shooting for myself.
I took a walk around my house, playing with the manual settings on my camera. I started in program mode and many of my shots were keepers because Kaylee (my camera) knows my taste well. But there were some that were just bleh. The lighting conditions fooled the meter and I couldn't get satisfied with those shots. I looked at the settings Kaylee had chosen and used them as a starting point for a manual exposure.

For ease of comparison, all shots were processed using the same action (Color Flare from MCP Actions' Quickie Collection), sharpened, and resized. I had to resist the urge to adjust them otherwise. And yes, I know the composition isn't exactly the same for all of them. I fidget a lot, remember?

top: P, f/5.6, 1/100, ISO 500, 55mm
bottom: M, f/5.6, 1/200, ISO 1000, 55mm
rainy walk manual comparison 1
I liked the exposure that my camera set but I wanted to freeze the water droplets running off the roof so I upped my shutter speed and ISO to compensate.

top: P, f/5.6, 1/50, ISO 1600, 53mm
bottom left: M, f/5.6, 1/64, ISO 1600, 53mm
bottom right: M, f/5.6, 1/50, ISO 1600, 53mm
rainy walk manual comparison 2
I loved the top shot and wanted to keep the settings to get a few more. I walked closer to the tree so I could keep the same settings and focus on the leaf. Then I stepped back to where I stood for the original shot and slowed the shutter speed a smidge to let in just a little more light.

top: P, f/5.6, 1/100, ISO 400, 55mm
bottom: M, f/5.6, 1/100, ISO 800, 55mm
rainy walk manual comparison 3
This one is like night and day. I loved my composition but the original shot was so dark. I bumped the ISO up a lot to let in a lot more light and suddenly, I was in love with the shot.
I kept the f/5.6, 1/100, ISO 800, 55mm and managed to get these lovely shots, just pulling back slightly to change the composition.
rainy walk manual diptych

top: M, f/5.6, 1/100, ISO 800, 55mm
bottom: M, f/5.6, 1/64, ISO 800, 55mm
rainy walk manual comparison 4
I kept the settings from the previous photos but it was a little too dark so I slowed down my shutter speed a touch and it was perfect.

While I am nowhere near proficient with shooting manually (yet), I have to admit that those shots have a quality to them that I love.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

on best friends, memories, and new stories

I started my adventure as I always do, with a window seat so I could watch the sky and try to guess what city is below me.
airplane window
My flight to the Panhandle was by way of Kentucky and I wish I could have captured the fairgrounds next to the airport but sadly, electronic devices have to be off for take-off and landing. But I did take some pictures at the airport before we whooshed off again towards Doug, who was waiting for me in Fort Walton.
Kentucky airport triptych
I sat directly over the wing, so I could see as we broke through the clouds.
airplane window diptych 2
airplane window diptych

Here's where I realize how disjointed and nonsensical this narrative is going to be. I have pictures of parts of the journey, but other moments were not documented. There are no pictures of Doug and I embracing at the airport or jumping onto the bed the second we walked through the door. I have a photo of the awesome goggles I got at a yard sale, but no photos of the antique scale or giant wooden chest we couldn't afford.
steampunk goggles and camera
Although I should probably be thankful I didn't bring my camera on our Blackwater River adventure because that was kind of a disaster. Between bottoming out on the shallows, getting stuck on submerged logs, and a "two hour trip" just barely getting us back before the sun set, I don't think I want to have visual reminders of that.

The reason I flew up was for Layla's wedding in Pensacola. She and I have been friends since we were in preschool and it was a privilege to be there when she and Brian made it official and magical.
I love taking pictures as Doug and I drive out to Pensacola. The bridges are always beautiful and the streets have an old charm that home just doesn't have.
Pensacola bridge
Pensacola streets
Pensacola vinyl

The wedding itself was beautiful. You could see Layla's personality in all the details. I don't have words for this...
Layla wedding jars
Layla wedding 1
first dance:
Layla wedding 2
Layla wedding diptych 1
Layla wedding diptych 2
father-daughter dance:
Layla wedding 3
Layla wedding 4

One of the oh-so-Layla details was the fan. It was a really hot day and we all needed them. Of course, Doug and I couldn't resist taking pictures of each other playing with the fans while the bridal party had their formal portraits done.
Doug fan diptych
my own biggest fan

We took the scenic route on the drive home. The wedding ended earlier than we had expected and the sunlight was gorgeous and we were both so overcome with love and whimsy and it just seemed like we needed an adventure.
Pensacola sunset
Pensacola pelican
The clouds were unreal.
Pensacola sunset diptych
We took the long way home and smiled for miles.
golden Doug diptych
Pensacola Beach sign diptych
This shot was a happy accident. I slid down in my seat so I could get the water tower as we drove by and the tint strip on the top of the windshield worked like a graduated filter.
epic water tower
Duke Field sunset

We stopped off to check out where something was in Fort Walton and I found this little white chapel. We just had to have a picture of me in my white wedding dress (ha!), standing outside.
Little White Chapel
Then, it was back on the road. We were surrounded by darkness and it was the most amazing feeling to see how tiny we are in the grand scheme of things. I felt like I had a star's-eye view -- although that may have been related to reading Stardust on the trip.
tiny perspective

And as many of our adventures end, we spent much time at Sonic with root beer floats.
Sonic diptych

I feel like this entry is missing a lot. But how do you photograph how it feels to burrow into your love's arms while you sleep? Or the way it feels to beat a level of a video game by yourself for the first time? The memories appear to be mine and Doug's and I think I'm okay with keeping them for ourselves. Consider this a postcard, not a letter or a journal.