Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Paying Attention

I have this lovely new point-and-shoot, but can't get the photos off of it!  Apparently wireless is the way to go now, so I have to figure out how to follow the directions that make no sense in order for that to happen.  This being said, I can't do my updated "comparison" post yet, so decided to focus on one of my favorites subjects - critters.

The title of this post is Paying Attention, and that is what you really have a to do to find the little creatures who live amongst us.  You also have to be cautious, and quiet, and patient...and like to get up early.  Does this describe you?  I can be any of those characteristics, but it is so hard to do it all at once!

There was a morning a couple of weeks ago where I said to my husband, "That's it!  I am getting up and going to take photos.  You are on dog duty.  Okay?"  I jumped (6:15) grabbed my camera with the close-up lens, tripod, a sweatshirt...and headed out to the field out back.  I love those early fall frosty mornings!

I love it.  I love the peace.  I love the quiet.  I love the soft light of morning as the sun begins to skim the trees and field  And I love the search.  I love trying to get into awkward positions to get the shot I want.  I do not love the way my knees creak these days, and how I am no longer limber enough to smoothly change positions as needed.  I have never minded the wet grasses (wear boots and old jeans).  I usually love the results.

After taking MANY more shots than I am sharing here, I headed back to the house for a good cup of coffee and a shower.  Remember, the lesson is in Paying Attention?  So if I had simply headed into the house through the back door I might not have seen these other visitors to the yard.  As the sun came out and warmed the plants, here are the other critters I NEEDED to photograph.  Yes, before the coffee!

So the next time you want to sleep in, remember how much joy you can get from the sense of discovery around the corner.

Get outside and Pay Attention! :)

Sunday, September 10, 2017

iPhone Photography - trial and error

I think the iPhone handled this well, though I will admit the shadows were
 quite dark and I lightened them a bit in post-processing.
I am in the process of putting together some materials for a workshop I will be giving next month.  One of the things I am going to cover is the difference between photographs taken on the iPhone, a smaller digital camera  (point-and-shoot), and the DSLR.

These flowers were in the shadows, which I find the iPhone favors.  The
 more even the light, the richer the photos are.  The color in this photo is very strong.
As most of you have found, the iPhone does take good photos, and it's biggest plus is the phone's size and portability.  Very convenient and it works well in a lot of instances.   I want to see how well it works under a variety of circumstances, so I take it on walks with the dog, shopping with friends, and to work.

The photos in this post are the results of my first "formal" comparison study - shooting with the iPhone exclusively.

This photo was actually taken with someone else's phone, but  the results
 are consistent with what I have seen in my own photos.  The back lighting is
distracting,  and the phone doesn't do well with this contrast.  One thing that
would have helped is if we had stood on the other side of the showcase,
with the light facing us.  By the way, this photo was taken when I 

presented Christie Freestone, Literacy Coach, with a copy of my
new book, W is for Wonderkids!
I love taking close-ups, so this fall photo was perfect.  For the most part
it is a good image.  It is too soft in the front, and the perspective is a bit off.
One piece of advice is to get your camera as close to the subject as you
can. When you zoom in you lose detail - the photo becomes more "grainy." 
So what about action?  Here our Kaycee is about to "catch" some geese.
I think it handled the stop-action pretty well.
Another close-up, where it is soft in the front and a bit elongated.
I did not use the phone's zoom feature on this or the acorn shot.
Yes, elongated....but very cute.  For this photo it works.
 In none of the photos am I using a flash.
This fellow was hanging upside down on a cable alongside the house.
I just got as close as I could, without zooming in.
Inside a classroom, with the light from the windows adding
 enough light that I didn't need the flash.  I really avoid the
artificial light as much as I can.
I got as close as I could, then did crop the photo post-processing.
The look on this face, with her new toy, was priceless.
Amazingly, Kaycee stood still long enough for this shot.  I filled
 in the shadow a little following the taking of the photo.

This, and the next shot, are two of my favorite shots, though the log in 
the front may be a bit soft, above.   But the iPhone handled the wide angle 
very well.  This may be the biggest strength I have found thus far
Yes, I think wide angle is a definite strength of this technology.

Please leave a comment on how you use your phone photography and what you think of the results.  I would love to have some quotes to add to my materials, which I will make available following the workshop.

Happy Shooting!

Monday, September 4, 2017

History Meets Reality with Hints of Science Fiction

The Nina, left, and Pinta, moored in the marina.
Remember the day of the eclipse?   It happened to be the day we finally had a chance to get out of town and spend some time adventuring.  We packed up Kaycee, a cooler, and headed to Traverse City to see the hand-built replicas of the Nina and Pinta.

The Nina was built using only adzes, axes, hand saws and chisels, in addition to naturally-shaped
 timbers from the local forest. She stands 65' long, 18' across the beam, with a draft of 7'.
The sail area is 1, 919 sq. feet.  She took 32 months to build.
Both ships are exact replicas of those sailed in 1492, and they are called the Columbus Ships.  They were built in Valenca, Brazil by eighth generation Portuguese shipwrights.  There is no home port for these ships, as they are moving 11 months of the year, providing educational opportunities to everyone.  There is no Santa Maria because she never made it back to Europe, she is too big to make it through the waterways the ships have to go through, and Christopher Columbus did not like the Santa Maria because she was very slow and clumsy.

We met friends who were vacationing in the area, and while everyone else toured the ships, Kaycee and I found a lot to do.  As the afternoon grew to the "total eclipse" time (though we were gifted with about 70%), it was fun to watch the public engage in all the activities Traverse City waterfront has to offer.  It was extra special with the excitement of the eclipse.

The day had been beautiful, with a blue, cloudless sky...and just as the time for the eclipse was coming upon us, so did the clouds.  I think many were disappointed, but I could tell the light was changing, and there was kind-of an eery feel to the color of day.

While Kaycee and I were having fun by the water, the rest of our crew was enjoying their tour of the ships...and the kids played at the pirate history of the sea.

It was a Jolly Good Day!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Memories - Past and Present

As I once again gathered my camera and a couple of lenses to photograph airplanes, I started to chuckle as I thought about how much my father would have loved this aspect of my life.

Dad loved airplanes.  When I was growing up we would eat an early supper on Sunday so Dad and I could go to Detroit Metro Airport to sit on the observation deck and watch the planes take off and land.  It was just the two of us, and a very special time.

Night was the best time to go, as everything was lit up like a Christmas tree.  Runway lights.  Take off and landing lights.  Terminal lights.  The flashing lights on aircraft.  Lights everywhere.  I even remember "street lights" on the deck, with benches strategically placed so everyone had views of the planes taking off and landing.

We love the history of aviation; the way it has helped build our nation, and the world.  The old hangers are full of treasures, and art and historical records help us remember humble beginnings in a bicycle shop in Ohio.

Times have certainly changed.  With all the enhanced security gone are the days when you could easily access airplanes...and easily encourage the imaginations of young people with dreams of flight in a hands-on way..

When I met my husband I knew he was a pilot, but I had no idea how much it would impact my life.  I remember my first flight with him, which was my first flight in a small aircraft, and how he had it all planned so I would have a near-perfect first experience.  Then work got in the way.  He received a call requesting cargo be delivered to Detroit.  I had the choice to go with him, and he had indicated the flight would be smooth and easy, or I could stay here and wait for him to return.   I went.

And then the children went.  Then we had our own plane for a while, camping under the wings at Oshkosh, flying to Mackinac Island and Chicago, and taking fall color tours to our heart's content.

This life-adventure started over 31 years ago, and I now have so many photographs of airplanes, terminal buildings, historic locations, airshows, clouds, farm fields from the air, mountains and glacial lakes...you get the idea.  What do I do with all of them?  And there is no way to record the feelings which accompanied most of those images.  The heart-stopping shiver when we flew through clouds and the landscape disappeared.  The joy and wonder of unbelievably brilliant blue skies and huge marshmallow clouds gliding past us.  And the belief that we were in the hands of God.  No other explanation.

So here we were on one more day where a quick trip to the airport turned into "hanging out" for a good part of the afternoon.  Blue sky dotted with whips clouds.  And airplanes.  Time may have changed the design of the machine, but each aircraft symbolizes a freedom my dad sought and never had the opportunity to experience.  The joy of flight.

I see this joy and excitement on the faces of each pilot I meet, and the man I am married to.  It is a love affair with the sky, and the feeling of elation to be able to be at peace in a place that you love.  Heaven.

One Father's Day, I created a photo story in book form for my husband, using our aviation photography to illustrate this beautiful tribute, written by John Magee Jr.  He had written of his experiences flying, penning this poem on the back of a letter home, September 1941.  Flying in the Royal Canadian Air Force, he experienced this:

High Flight

Oh!  I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
and danced the skies on laughter -silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth of sun-split clouds,
- and done a hundred things you have not dreamed of -
Wheeled and soared and swung
 High in the sunlit silence.
Hov'ring there
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air....
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grade
Where never lark, or even eagle files - 
And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high interspersed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand,
and touched the face of God.