Musings of a busy mind (and at times confused!)

I have begun to realize how difficult it is to keep a blog up and running. Especially for me I find I get all my thoughts jumbled up and then I am unable to put anything on paper. My blog is more about my life in general, musings on my growing love of photography and occasionally a random blog post about anything that catches my fancy.  Just hope I don’t put anyone to sleep while reading my posts!

It has been a very busy time since I wrote last. Christmas in my family is a lot of crazy running around and lots of visitors. The holiday was also a great time to get some photography fun in. I was unable to blog earlier about a fun studio session I had with two girls of a family friend. We had done it to surprise their parents with some photos as a Christmas present. It was a tough session with a steep learning curve. Photographing a two year old and five year old is quite a challenge. Especially since the five year old was in an interesting mood the day we decided to do the photos. I used a white sheet as a backdrop and my 50mm lens. Literally my dad corralled them and I just took as many pictures as possible. Thankfully I got a few that captured their personality. The best photos to illustrate the day are the outtakes:

(Dad was trying to get them to sit with not a whole lot of luck)

(oldest girl had squishing down pat on this shoot!)

I also had a great time visiting Henry’s for a special sale. To make a long story short, I won my dad a $500 gift certificate which he put towards a new Canon Rebel T1i. A pretty sweet camera and one he is already having lots of fun with. He is insisting at the moment on keeping his five year old rebel but I am pretty sure it will be gathering a lot of dust soon. His new camera is far better for his creative and artistic drive when it comes to photography. Me I just bought a camera bag appropriate for travelling and a light weight tripod with a gift certificate my cousin gave me for Christmas through our family exchange. I got thoroughly spoiled, I also now have a small portable flash. It appears I am pretty outfitted with camera gear for awhile.

The next adventure was the debate on bringing my camera for a short business trip to Dallas. With the new security rules I was nervous on whether or not I could carry on my equipment. Thankfully the new LowePro bag I bought was the right size and made the hand check by security pretty easy. I just made sure I only had my camera bag. I am pretty shy and find it difficult to photograph in unfamiliar situations. I had decided to bring my camera to my division’s award night, mostly to just practice indoor shooting with my 50 mm lens and the new flash. I quickly got recruited to be the official photographer for the night and ended up taking well over 50 group shots. This was a huge challenge since I was using a stage which had large speakers in front, and roaming spotlights above. In hindsight I should have tried to get the spotlights turned off.  Unfortunately could not move the speakers so when I edited the photos tried to mostly crop them out. At this point I have the 100 plus photos edited but still awaiting instructions on how everyone wishes for them to be presented. I do know eventually I will have to create a photo presentation that will play on a very large screen at the next meeting in the spring. A new challenge since it is not something I have done before.

Sorry for the long post but I’ve had a busy couple of months. Next up is creating a cheet sheat for the functions of my camera, a cool idea from my camera club! I also need to spend some time learning the telephoto lens I bought in November before buying another lens. I also need to find a  good course on lighting and using a flash, a big problem for me technically.

Till I write again!

Screaming Good Time!

I had always thought of myself as a pretty tough girl. I go camping at least once a year and spend quite a bit of time at my cousin’s cottage. Apparently this last trip I discovered I am still at heart a soft city girl. Never helps when three women are left to fend for themselves well stocked with wine!

First fun of the trip was Wednesday night. We decided to watch a few episodes (actually 4 of them!) of the first season of Mad Men. Did not know we were to be accompanied by the loudest cricket we have ever heard. We thought at first it was one of the fans so we turned them off. Then we though one might be near a window so we closed the window. Nope that did zilch to turn down the volume. Who knew crickets could be that loud. As we were getting ready for bed my sister quickly figured out that the offending cricket had to be in the cottage somewhere and she was right. Only one problem who would be the brave soul to capture it and take it outside apparently that volunteer was me. First few attempts failed and as soon as the thing jumped everyone screamed. After a huge fit of giggles successfully got the cricket out of the house unfortunately we quickly realized there were two. It was the invasion of the ugly black bugs that can jump! Second removal went a lot smoother.

Thursday was interesting because I found out ants can bite. I was wondering around the back yard and was pretty nonchalant about the little bugs crawling on my foot. Then much to my surprise they suddenly started biting. I have never been more shocked. My sister was laughing at my frantic attempts to get them off. Stupid ants!

Thursday was also the night of the big storm. In Campbell ford we got a sheet lighting , heavy rain and wind. We were enjoying a quiet dinner in the sunroom with just candles so we could enjoy the storm. I quickly discovered I have not just a flight response but a flight and fright response. After one particularly spectacular lighting flash, the biggest crack I have ever heard occurred (a maple tree nearby was split in half). My first instinct was too scream then dash to the livingroom. My sister thought I saw something (watches way too many horror films) and quickly followed my lead. Mom was right behind her. Poor Harry (my Mom’s cat) ended up in the livingroom flattened to the floor, poor guy!  Tempete slept through the entire storm and screams, lucky cat is pretty deaf. After much laughter and more wine we settled in to watch more Mad Men. Slightly more difficult than it sounds since we had a couple of power outages while watching and the PS2 does not have scene selection.

It was a really fun five days at the cottage with lots of adventures. On Saturday evening we lost power for several hours, which meant dinner and socializing by candlelight. Only twist is that with no electricity the water pump doesn’t work. No water means no working toilet!  I also had a great time experimenting and learning my camera. I had three of Scott Kelby’s digital photography books with me and learned some great tips from them. I will post photos in my next blog post. I haven’t had a moment to process them although I do not touch my photos up that much. I am still learning how to use various programs like Photoshop and Lightroom.

Post again soon!

Campers went a little looney in the rain and cold!

So I originally planned to write this grandiose blog post about my camping trip but then decided I would tell the story with more pictures less words. Plus this post was delayed by the fact I was not that careful with the water and ended up pretty sick. New rules for the next camping trip when it comes to the water situation.  The other interesting part of our trip was the warning about bears being in the camp. I know I said I say hi but I didn’t mean it literally.

Day 1

Trip started with a stop at Hunts Falls just outside of Bracebridge for lunch and some photography. Funny story of the day was the attempt to cross a log to get to a nearby waterfall. Dad managed it pretty quick while I had to crawl. My sister thought she could walk but half way across quickly realized she was going to have to crawl too. First photo lesson of the day from Dad was how to make water do that cool angel hair effect using the speed setting.

Hunts Falls Waterfall (2)

Second photography moment was capturing the lake at sunset.  We were not quite in the right position but still got some great shots.

Sunset Log Reflection

Sunset on Wednesday

Day 2

Thursday was basically a wash out. It rained and rained and rained some more. We all gave up at one point and retired to the tents to get warm and have a nap. After the nap we wandered to the Portage Store and then to the Art Gallery. We did stop at a beach and got a few shots but it started to rain pretty hard again.

Day 3

Friday started off pretty good, rain was just a mist more than droplets.  After a quick breakfast, we  decided to go for a canoe ride. It actually stopped raining part way through the ride and warmed up a bit. We eventually saw our first loon. Dad got the better shot since I was attempting to steady the canoe.

Water Lily

Yellow Water Flower

Next stop was the art museum again. Dad originally wanted to see the paintings on display again but instead ended up trying his hand at painting on a canoe. You buy a puzzle piece and they provide the paints and brushes. Dad had a blast.

Dad painting on canoe

After mastering the art of cooking Filet Mignon over an open fire, Dad and I headed out for another canoe ride to try and capture the sunset. We did not get that great of a sunset due to the clouds but it was still a beautiful night. I also got to hear the loon and other calls of the night. I think I even heard a wolf howl. This is where I did the big duh of the night, I brought the solar lights to mark the end of the canoe trail but forgot a flashlight to get us back to camp. It was a bit nerve wracking getting back but not too bad.

DSC02782 csf

Sun down on the Lake Friday

Algonguin at Sunset on the Lake

Day 4

Saturday was our super busy day. Poor sister she just wanted to relax and read instead she ends up walking through a logging museum and then hiking up a mountain.

Logging Demo

Alligator demo

The Lookout

After a quick snack break back at the camp we decided to go for one last canoe ride, a good idea on my sister’s part. As we were paddling toward a marsh area, my sister spotted what looked like two black spots floating on the water. As we got closer we realized there were baby loons and then the two adults popped up. Dad and I had a blast taking photos, although Dad again had the better shots since he had the telephoto and did not have to get as close as I did. Still it was one of those rare and beautiful moments that made the whole trip worthwhile.

Baby Loons

Loon Babies with Parents

Baby Loon fish from Mom

The evening was pretty good until the temperature dropped and it rained again. We did try to stay by the fire in our rain gear but we got wet butts when the water ran into our chairs. My sister decided the rain was not stopping her from cooking the gourmet smores. We spent the night bundled up huddled around our lantern for heat.

Day 5

Was mostly a busy day of packing the car and then proceeding home. On this trip we drove through a wicked storm just outside of Gravenhurst. The rain was pounding and the lighting was fierce. It was impressive display of nature’s fury. We did make it home safe and sound.

More Photos from Washington, DC

After getting positive comments about my photos from Washington, DC thought I would post a few more. Especially since Facebook where I normally post most of my photos changes my vertical shots sideways. Not sure that is a great way to present a photo and not fun for people to have to turn there heads or turn there computers sideways!

Metro SubwayA really cool looking station but had no AC.

Sunset on the RoofThis was a shot off of the roof of a parking garage.

White House Up CloseThought this was an interesting shot with the fountain balancing out the flag.

Framed MemorialThought this was a great way to frame a memorial photographed thousands of times.

Storm CloudsInteresting storm clouds just not sure of the post hard to change angles when in a car though.

Hope everyone enjoys the additional photos. I am very much enjoying my new hobby. I am absolutely delighted with my camera and my chance to express myself through the lens. I always love a challenge and will continue having fun for a long time to come. Next up though is the purchase of a flash and better macro lens. Hope to have those by the end of the summer or at least the flash in time for my cousins wedding the first week of August.

Next photos will be from the camping trip in Algonquin and this will be a whole new challenge. I will have my Dad with me who is an excellent photographer and is fully loaded when it comes to flashes and lenses. I may have the newer camera but my Dad can take some incredible photos with an older digital SLR.

Long Journey Home

So the long journey home started on Friday morning at 10 am in Virginia. We decided that we would take our time getting home. Erica decided we should go visit the sweetest place on earth and make a stop for some chocolate restocking. After stopping for a late breakfast or early lunch we made it to Hershey, PA. It is a very pretty town and the light posts are Hershey Kisses. The tour at the factory was very interesting. It is hosted by an animated cow and features a bunch of singing cows. Apparently cows are very important to the making of chocolate. I agree but not so sure about the singing part!

Singing Cows

After a great time at Hershey and getting our next six months supply of chocolate we started for home. My sister decided based on Nigel that we could make it home around 12:30am in the morning. She unfortunately forgot to calculate in construction and a very busy border.

bumpertobumper

It was a gorgeous drive home. We hit a few flash storms, got to watch the sunset and even got to watch some fireworks. It was a extremely long trip but it was nice to finally be able to sleep in my own bed. We also had very happy cats. We didn’t crawl into bed till about 2:30 am though so it has been a weekend of just recovering. Our family has a tendency to need vacations from our vacations.

sunset on the road

I have learned a few important photography skills on this trip. I really need to master taking photographs in low light with no flash. I know for low-lighting I can correct some of the issues with a flash but there are going to be occasions where flashes are not permitted. I also need to figure out how to keep a camera steady when you are in a moving object. Figured out how to do it from the back of a car but very different when you are on a ride. I did realize on this trip that my purchase of what I thought was a bit of an expensive camera bag from Kata, turned into an excellent idea. The bag is not an immediately obvious camera bag and has just enough pockets that I can turn the bag into my purse too. The bag was also incredibly water proof so even in a down pour my camera stayed dry (unlike myself).

My next adventure will be taking the camera camping and on a canoe. I am just crossing my fingers that we do not have any accidents since we will have two SLR’s in the Canoe!

Adventures or better yet misadventures with Nigel

We started our road trip on Saturday and arrived in Washington, DC this afternoon. It took a little longer than expected since we took a detour to do a little shopping on the way.  It is par for the course when traveling with three ladies.

Nigel is the name of our TomTom (GPS system) and is usually very reliable until we arrived in Washington. Poor Nigel even found this area confusing. Our first adventure was trying to get into Washington. We had to do some sort of weird u-turn off a main highway onto a side highway then a sharp right turn. Nigel went silent at the wrong time and we went left which then caused us to do a twenty minute backtrack to try the whole weird thing again. This time just as we did the u-turn we saw a beautiful light brown deer on the side of the highway. After an incredible gorgeous drive through the suburbs of Washington we managed to get into downtown and Nigel failed us again. We were trying to get to the convention centre unfortunately Nigel was horribly confused by the one ways, no rights except from service roads and no left except during certain times. After going around the block several times we did reach the convention centre … phew!

Thankfully we managed to get to the hotel from the convention centre without incident although driving on Washington’s highways are like taking your life into your own hands. It is bit like driving a Nascar circuit. The adventure from our hotel to the shopping area was a different story. Nigel apparently didn’t know that in Fairfax, VA maps change daily. We asked it to find some box stores on Lee Highway. We followed directions and started driving down Lee Highway. We quickly realized that we were driving through a Civil War Battlefield which is a heritage site. After ten minutes or so Nigel announced we had arrived. Apparently our box stores had magically transformed into a large battlefield. We were wondering if maybe they had been accidentally destroyed by canon fire. I unfortunately did not have my camera but it was a very interesting area with civil era homes, fences and monuments.

We did eventually find the box stores and restaurants and realized Nigel had taken us the long way. I am just not sure why. From this point forward we are taking the Metro, Washington’s subway system. This will be a whole new adventure since it is apparently having a lot of issues, including accidents, service outages and track problems. I have a funny feeling this is going to be an interesting week for travelling.