Playing with Light, Inside and Out

I have a love/hate relationship with my camera flash. It is one of the reasons I so love my latest camera; a high ISO. If you don’t know what that means, it enables me to take photographs in very low light, without a flash. Over the years I have had it pounded into my head that using your flash on-camera is a bad thing, a big no-no, what not to do!!! And to be honest, it is true. My first few digital cameras actually came with little pop-up flashes built into the camera. Very bad!!

Now, even with a high ISO you will have times you absolutely need a flash. Or it may just be a shot that needs that extra punch of light. Have you ever seen someone taking pictures outside, in the sun, with a flash? There is a reason for that. What a flash can do is take a flat snapshot and turn it into a beautiful photograph with depth and richness. Yeah, that being said . . . then you have to learn how to master it.

I have taken a lot of time trying to figure out the best way to get that light into my shots without spending an arm and a leg. I am not really a portrait photographer, but I do occasionally take portraits.

Although taking photos of still life, things like flowers, benefit from lighting. This photo of a bee on a flower was taken in my back yard. There was sunshine, and I used my flash at low power. As well as this other photo taken indoors, and lit with a flash. It gave the shot dimension.

I always try to watch a few photography tutorials a month. I pay for subscriptions, so want to use them. I enjoy seeing how other photographers go about doing things. As I am pretty much self-taught in the modern age (I did go to school for photography before digital), I have found that sometimes I learn a much easier way to do things, but other times I realize I had a pretty good system of my own.

I recently bought a transmitter for my flash, and it is great. I now just leave it on the top of the camera and place the flash wherever I what it. Being able to control it all from the transmitter enables me to reduce or increase the strength of the flash from the camera, and enjoy the benefits of the extra light. It takes time to learn how best to use a flash, and I am certainly not there yet. But I understand now why teachers will say some people promote themselves as ‘natural light photographers’ to avoid learning how to use a flash the right way. As far as I am concerned, you should always be learning. There is so much out there to add to what you can do. I never want to limit myself. Which is probably why I am always learning, and doing, new things. One never wants to be bored! 😊

Hubby’s dog, Miss Molly. I have the youngest standing in front of Molly holding her attention, and the flash.

The youngest dog, Archer. She is also standing in front of him with the flash.

Worldwide Photowalk 2017

Yesterday the youngest and I joined in on the 2017 Worldwide Photowalk. This is a wonderful event that Scott Kelby (of kelbyone.com) is celebrating the 10th anniversary of sponsoring. You can read about it here – http://worldwidephotowalk.com/

The point of the Photowalk is to meet up with fellow photographers at locations all over the world. There were people walking in many countries like New Zealand & Australia, Thailand, the Netherlands, and of course the USA, just to name a few. It is so exciting to read the Facebook page, and see so many people, from all over the world, joining in their mutual passion of photography.

At the end, I found our walk an interesting experience. We went to the Air Force Museum, which was nice and cool inside. But, the environment was very dark. So, note to self – need a tri-pod. I did use the youngest’s shoulder to steady a few shots. But it was definitely a learning experience in low-light shooting. In the end I had some terrific shots, and some that would have been so much better if I had managed my settings a bit better, or even had the ability to do a time-lapsed shot.

Either way, here is a slideshow of my favorites.

Busy, busy, busy

Busy, busy, busy. That is my mantra of the day. I have learned that one of the most wonderful things about my life can also be the most exhausting. I have so many people in my life that I love and love me. I am so very grateful for it every day. In turn, it does tend to fill up the days as well.

My first in-laws were in Indiana last weekend, so the kids and I took a trip up to see them all. We had such a wonderful time. All the love 😊 Next weekend Hubby’s Uncle and cousins will be here. This weekend we are getting caught up. For me that means writing . . . So, I need to back up a bit.

Last month my baby turned 21. I still can’t believe she is that old! For her birthday we wanted to upgrade her camera. When I upgrade she usually gets to as well. But with Hubby getting into photography more, he was the one that got the latest camera. I still can’t believe I didn’t do a post about the eclipse! Well in the prep for the eclipse, and her birthday, we managed to get everyone an upgrade. I ended up with my dream camera, a Canon 5D Mark III. I have been having so much fun! It has been so totally challenging me too. It is more to learn, especially working with all the focus points. But then we had a delivery yesterday, and wow.

A little backstory here. I was watching a photography training a couple of weeks ago. The instructor was talking about how useful a battery grip is. Now I rarely have a battery die. I keep a spare with me, and have never burned through both. So a battery pack was not something I had on my wish list. But the instructor was focused more on the buttons than the batteries. The grip has the same buttons on it as the camera – top right. This is such a convenience when shooting vertical, and it had never occurred to me until I saw him working with it. Hubby came into the room, and I mentioned it to him. Not asking for it, just the observation. Now back to the mail arriving yesterday. There was a box from Amazon. Nothing new, he orders from them regularly. First, he hands me a box with 2 extra camera batteries. We had needed to get extra so that he had a spare. So my reaction was pleasure for him. But then he hands me another box – the batteries were for me, not him. Because he had ordered me the grip! I just love that man so much!

1/25, f/5.6, ISO 12800

The youngest is giving me all sorts of grief about the grip. She thinks it is overkill – it makes the camera so big. It really made me laugh because there was a time I felt the same way. But I guess I have grown into it, and this is what I got. I took this picture of Hubby’s puppy Molly. She is 14 years old, and a bit of a crazy old lady. I took it at night, with no flash, using the 5D and grip. I was just playing, so didn’t really think it would turn out. At 1/25 of a second it should not have been sharp. But she is a beautiful old dame.

A Different Perspective

I was looking through the photos I took on our trip. There is one from Lookout Mountain that caught my attention just after I took it, and even more now.

This first one is straight off the camera in jpg. When I previewed it on the back of my camera I thought the edges were darker than they turned out. But it was a bright day, so it just confirms you should never trust the back of your camera for the end result.

Look at the way the color pops on the ends of the buildings. It looks like I did something to it, but it was totally untouched by me. When I got it into Lightroom and did a few little edits, I ended up with this.

It almost doesn’t look real. Very strange. So I decided to get a little creative and add a vignette. I wanted to get the same affect I saw on the back of the camera there.

For some reason it still didn’t seem to work for me. After a few minutes staring at it, I finally did this. Seems to fit the canon better 😊

Although the baseball cap on the guy standing next to it is kinda modern . . . LOL

A Few Stops Along the Way

On Friday the wild child and I set off on an adventure. We were heading south to the Puppetry Museum in Atlanta to see the Labyrinth & Dark Crystal exhibits. But we didn’t want to just drive straight down and back. So the first thing we did was decide to go by way of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Friday morning we set our GPS for Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. All I can say is “WOW!!” This place is incredible! Every few yards it was – look at that, Wow! Can you believe it! What is that?! On and on, and just so unbelievable. You really have to experience it. Las Vegas without all the casinos – lights, castles, but also sharks and bears as doorways, the Titanic, and an upside-down building!

Someday we will go just to visit Pigeon Forge, but on this day we had a different goal. So we headed out of town by way of the Gatlinburg Bypass. Just as we entered the Park we noticed we were getting low on gas. I saw a sign that said “Downtown” with an arrow, so figured that would lead is to a gas station. It did, but OMG!

I remember telling the youngest to take the hill down to the ferry a few months back. That was quite a hillside to go down. This time it was a mountainside!!! Check out this map, and it really doesn’t do justice as to how steep it was. These twists and turns are almost vertical. The driveways were extremely steep to just get to the houses. Sadly there are still many burned out from the fires. But they are rebuilding. It is just unbelievable that they are, on such steep  hillsides, but they are. I am sorry to say that we were so involved it the tight switch-back turns we didn’t even think to take any pictures! But I did take this one after we got back on the bypass.

We headed through the beautiful Great Smoky Mountain National Park. What a beautiful country this is.

Slideshow of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park

We arrived at our hotel in Kennesaw, Georgia. Not too thrilled with the first room they gave us. The toilet seat was broken, and it just didn’t look well cleaned. But they gave us another room, and it was just fine. The next morning we drove into Atlanta to the museum.

Slideshow of the Puppetry Museum, Atlanta Georgia

The wild child was just enthralled with the place. Watching her face as she saw the characters she had seen so many times watching the movies was just such a heartwarming thing.

We then headed over to the Centennial Olympic Park. We had lunch at a wonderful restaurant and walked over to the wheel – SkyView Atlanta. What a site to see, but not so much for the wild child. We have finally found something she isn’t too thrilled about – big Ferris wheels.

Slideshow of downtown Atlanta

The next morning we headed back north. But we weren’t finished there. We decided to go by way of Chattanooga, Tennessee. We picked the Incline Railway to Lookout Mountain as the place to have our final adventure for this trip. Another WOW! Unfortunately the wild child had forgotten her water bottle in the car, so we only had mine. By the time we realized this, mine was half gone, and we were down at the museum in the park at the top of Lookout Mountain! Fortunately we were smart and took our time, stayed in the shade, and went straight to purchase water as soon as we left the park. What fantastic views, and just incredible that people build in such high places.

Slideshow of the Incline Railroad to Lookout Mountain

We made it home by 11pm; tired but very happy. All-in-all we had the best adventure ever!

The Last Kinship Family Fair

On August 12, 2017 the youngest and I had the privilege of again photographing the Kinship Family Fair; the 10th Annual one. I have been involved with the Kinship program here pretty much from the beginning. I was hired at the Center for Healthy Communities (CHC) not long after the Director of the program was. I have seen all the wonderful work they have done over the last 14 years. When I left CHC, I still kept in touch. I built the website for the Ohio Grandparent/Kinship Coalition, and host and maintain it to this day.

Presenters gave the caregivers much needed help, advice and inspiration.

While I was working at CHC I was often asked to photograph events. When I left I realized how much I missed being a part of these special times. I contacted the Kinship Program Director and offered to continue doing the Fair. So for the last 4 years (the last 2 the youngest as well) I have been at the Fair, with my camera, capturing wonderful moments. We set up a family photo session for all the Kinship families. For many of them this was the only way they would ever have a family portrait taken. They looked forward to seeing me each year to get an updated photo.

Unfortunately just prior to this years event it was announced that the local program has lost its funding. The Director had to announce it to the kinship caregivers at the fair. Needless to say, they were all devastated. A number of caregivers approached us with so much thanks for what we have been able to do for them in the past. They were so lost! Asking how / where / who? We had no answers; only hugs . . .

Shoes 4 the Shoeless provided free shoes

Photo by the youngest

This year the kids received free jackets as well.

The Grandparent/Kinship programs around the country are so very important. They support, sustain, and encourage, so many people. Not just the caregivers, and children, but the parents who are not able to care for their kids. So often we think of situations of parents who are gone – in jail, rehab, or dead. But one grandmother came up to me with her own personal story and thanks.

This particular grandmother’s daughter is a single parent, in the Navy, and deployed. She is caring for her grandkids while her daughter is away. She was able to send her the family photo we took last year, and it made such a difference to both the grandmother being able to send it, and the mother being able to look at it every day.

Again this year free backpacks stocked with school supplies were provided [photo by youngest]

The funding for the Kinship Caregiver program should never have been pulled. This is such a vital program in helping the caregivers raise these children, giving them the opportunity to reach their best potential. My wish and hope is that someone will step up and help, and make these families a priority.

You can read about the past Fairs we photographed at the links below:

The end of a special program – photos by the youngest

 

Even Bees Like Their Privacy

It is really the first day of August, wow! I know it is nothing new to say this summer’s weather has just been a manic-depressive thing. It is no wonder the youngest and I haven’t managed to get in any rambles with our cameras. Recently, I have been watching photography videos to try and get some inspiration. Not long ago Hubby bought me a 100mm Macro lens. I have been playing with it a little bit (took the teacup pictures in the last post with it), and today I took it outside. The lighting was really not there, and the bugs were in full bite mode, so I didn’t stay out long. But I did manage to grab a couple of shots before the bug bites got too much.

I follow the National Geographic “Your Shot” site. They do regular assignments where you can enter your photographs and someone on the staff picks the best shots. The assignment this week is “Epic”. They describe it as “Something epic takes your breath away.” So I mentally think about what photograph have I taken that does that? Well turning the corner at the glaciers in Iceland did that. I guess I have some digging to do through many fun times 😊

Coffee, Tea, or . . .

Over the years I have had my share of family ups and downs, we all have. If there is one thing I have learned, it is that I still don’t understand how some brains work. Recently a friend of mine was telling me about all the issues she has with her mother-in-law. I sat there grateful that I have never had to deal with that. I am so fortunate to not only have a good relationship with Hubby’s mom, but my first mother-in-law as well. It all boils down to choices, and this is where my issue lies.

Why do people choose to have negative relationships?

Now, what I am going to say is not about any particular person I may know. It is a compilation of many experiences, mine and others. So please don’t think I am talking about you. But then again, if you do think I am, and go away with a positive result, think what you will.

Many years ago, I am talking upwards of 20 or so, my little step-daughter said something so wonderful to me. She said she loved having a step-family. It meant “more people to love.” I couldn’t have agreed more. It had always been my wish to be able to have a bigger family.

As you may know from reading my blog, my father loved to move us around a lot as I grew up. Rarely did I find myself living near any family; the majority living in England. We made our own, and we still do. But then you have the family who you just can’t seem to connect with. That doesn’t mean you have to have a negative relationship. For some reason so many people think you do. Why is it that if you don’t think the same way, you can’t be friends? It has to be one way or the other; no compromise.

I once heard someone say, “this is the way our family has always done it, so I don’t know any other way.” Ok, so learn another way. You don’t have to stay in the same negative rut all your life. I have also heard, “well no one in the family has ever liked them.” Can’t you be the first? Geez, just because someone doesn’t think the same way you do, doesn’t make them your enemy.

I can boil this down to something so simple. When Hubby and I first met he was a heavy coffee drinker, I only drank tea. The only time I ever drank coffee was on Sunday mornings at church. That was the English in me, I just couldn’t drink tea out of a paper cup 😛 I learned about a specialty coffee store in town, and thought to get Hubby a treat. It smelled so good in there! I spent quite a bit of time talking with the owner, learning, tasting, and appreciating a good cup of coffee. I bought some, and brought it home. Hubby really wasn’t too impressed. After all, he was used to drinking the sludge at work (his words). But for me it was an introduction to something new and I appreciated it. Years later I now live in a different town, and haven’t found a similar coffee source. Oh yes, we now have the big brand coffee shops, Starbucks, Boston Stoker et al. But it isn’t the same. Not like then; brewing your own wonderful cup of coffee.

Ok, so where was I going with this? Ahhh, yes. I am English, we drink tea. So? We drink coffee too. But because we are English, tea is what people think of. The youngest’s boyfriend is very English, and here visiting for the summer. He came to tea a few weeks ago, and informed me that he didn’t really care for tea. But yet, he had a cup, and later told me it was the best cup of tea he had ever had. Interesting . . . was it the tea? That I use half and half? Or was it simply the company? I think I will go with the company.

We set the scene, we play out the part, and we can choose to walk away with either a positive experience or a negative one. Too often we let our emotions get the better of us, me included, and will let the negative take over. We need to choose not to. When that person you have never really connected with extends their hand, take it. If only to shake, exchange pleasantries and move on. You will both leave with a smile on your face, and isn’t that how it should be?

Checking in for Tea

Yummy English Tea biscuits 🙂

I just realized I haven’t updated on my mother in a while. A few weeks ago, we moved her back home. With much thanks to the oldest and her husband, we loaded up our cars and got her all settled in. She is very much back in control of her own life again. She works with the different agencies, sets up schedules, and has all the help she needs. She schedules appointments, arranges transportation, and all that is needed to get where she wants to go. We tease she is a stubborn English woman, but I am sure it is the root of her success.

Collecting the tea things to transport.

My mother is still unable to climb the stairs to our house, and with the 1939 Ford Pickup in the garage, we couldn’t even get her into the basement. My grandson’s first birthday was coming up, and I knew she wouldn’t attend his party (it is at a park). So, we decided to have a weekly tea at our local Chamber of Commerce room. How nice it was for her to be able to be a part of the celebration. His great-great aunt and uncle were not going to be able to make the big party either. But they were able to come to the tea, as was a few other people. It was a lovely time all around.

A Man and His Toys

Recently Hubby decided to expand his knowledge. This is a tall order for a man with the IQ he has. Awhile back he decided he wanted to explore the skies more. He wanted to take photographs himself, not just using my equipment. So we got him his own camera for Christmas, and it has been wonderful watching him. But lately he has wanted to be able to get closer to the heavens. Have you seen the prices of those kind of lenses!!! We could buy a new car for what they cost. We totally understand the better the glass the better the shot. But we certainly aren’t there yet. So he decided to get a telescope and work from there.

The other night we went out for the first look. A bit too cloudy, and he still has to learn all the buttons and dials. But as he was playing around with the telescope, I was doing the same thing with my camera. Don’t you just love the accidental shots that end up being so much fun?