Sunday, March 30, 2008

16/365 Reflections on the wall

Why is it that Sundays are so often gloomy, rainy, dreary days? Sunday has routinely been my least favorite day of the week, and this typical weather has never helped. I didn't even like Sundays in grade school. Even though it is still the weekend, you don't get to do something fun and stay up late because it's a school/work night. It's hard to really enjoy the day because you know you have the entire week ahead of you, and the next weekend is ages from now. Did you put off your homework? Well, now's the time to do it! In college, Sundays meant sitting through a Chapter meeting that could potentially stretch for hours.

Today was another gloomy, rainy, dreary day. I spent it lazily inside recovering from yesterday's adventures.

I photographed Dad crawling in and out of the attic (yes, my life is very exciting), but it was the reflection in five framed photographs that struck me most today.

Camera: Canon DSLR 1/60s, f/5.6, ISO 200 at 3:30 in the afternoon.

Post-posting clarification: There are actually five photos framed on this wall, but the window is only truly reflected from this point of view in four of them. If you look closely, you can see the bottom corner of the fifth frame at the top left in shadow.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

15/365 Our first horse clinic

Today was what I would definitely call an adventure! We participated in our first horse training clinic. Also known as: Oprah and Shep's first test of minding their manners (and riders) in polite company.

They loaded into the trailer at 9:30 this morning beautifully. Tina held the clinic at the same ever-so-kind neighbors' indoor arena where we rode last weekend. Three other clients and their horses were there: Sally, with her dark brown gelding, Temper, who she affectionately refers to as the Black Stallion; Susie, with her quarterhorse/paint, Pepper; and Pat, who rides a pretty little pony named Ginger. The three of them have been working with Tina for at least a year, if not 5+, so they were a good test for Oprah and Shep. We didn't have to be concerned about the three of them being unpredictable or out of control (worrying about one horse at a time is plenty). Temper and Pepper were especially models of the perfectly-behaved horse.

Walking into an arena with three unknown horses put Oprah and Shep more than a little on edge. We didn't saddle them right away -- we believed the smarter route was to walk them around the arena on foot several times, letting them get acquainted with the others and the space. We weren't 20 feet in the door when Temper reached out to catch a whiff of this hot new mare, and Oprah wasn't interested in flirting. Instead he got a grazing kick to the hip that luckily missed Sally. It took me a second to register what was happening, and then Tina was yelling at me, "Don't let her do that! Get after her! Correct her!"

Everyone was fine, and Sally wasn't bothered at all, but it didn't calm my own nerves at all to make that our first experience at a clinic. Oprah settled down with no problem and behaved wonderfully the rest of the day. She trotted (unasked) in excitement a few times, but she listened when I corrected her and calmed down quickly.

About an hour into the clinic, Tina asked the others to trot their horses (we haven't officially worked on that yet). Shep had been behaving, keeping her feet to herself, but when the energy rose in the room and these strange horses started trotting around her, Shep said, "I'm out of here!" Before Mom knew it, they were walking fast... then they were trotting... and then they were hopping. Luckily that was the extent of her freak-out.

Oprah's final hurrah gave everyone a good laugh. She'd been doing a great job of ignoring the salad bar on either side of the arena (stacks and stacks of alfalfa hay). As our last challenge, Tina asked us to walk on the plastic on which the hay was stacked, because horses often have a great fear of plastic -- it rattles, it blows across the trail in front of them, it gets caught on their hooves, you name it. Shep did well, then when it was Oprah's turn, she avoided it at first but then obeyed and sidled over to walk on the edge. As I was praising her for doing so well, thinking our job was done, she seized her opportunity, reached out mid-walk, and grabbed a mouthful of hay from the closest bale. Everyone in the room had been watching, and the laughter that echoed through the entire barn ended the day on a great note. Needless to say, I'm not surprised that it was Oprah who gave in and snatched at her chance.

I took lots of pictures after we loaded them into the trailer for the trip home. Shep's favorite thing to do after we ride (or after we brush her) is pick the muddiest spot in the lot and have a good roll:

Both girls were happy to have a post-ride snack (even though Oprah had already had an appetizer).

We're all going to sleep well tonight!

All pictures: Canon Rebel DSLR. 1/500s, f/5.6, ISO 100 at 5:00 this evening.

Friday, March 28, 2008


The sunset tonight was very quiet -- no clouds in the sky, no breeze, just calm and quiet. Even though daylight savings time set us off an hour a few weeks ago, I can tell that the daylight is recovering and stretching later and later by the week. Oprah, who you can see sticking her head out her door, loves to stand in this position when the weather is warm enough to open up the barn.

Camera: Canon Rebel DSLR 1/15s, f/8, ISO 400 at about 8:30 in the evening.


I think I made some of my fellow photographers a little freaked out in class last night. To learn various portrait poses, whether they be single individuals, couples, families, whatever, we take turns being the "model" and photographer. It gives everyone a chance to experience it from both behind and in front of the camera. Now, keep in mind that none of us know each other, so it can be a little awkward, but we have to learn, right?

We were learning a pose that would be suitable for a portrait of brothers. Like this:

Nice, right? Very traditional, nothing exciting about it.

So then I, being the inquisitive, not-shy-to-ask-a-question, ever-eager student that I am, raised my hand and said, "I won't ask them to demonstrate, but what would you change if this were a gay couple?"

The two guys immediately separated as though they had been two magnets that all of a sudden flipped to their opposite poles and were propelled in opposite directions across the room. Laughter rippled through the entire room. But I was serious! I happen to know a gay pair who wants to have a professional photo done. What rules do you follow? What rules do you break? What changes?

Luckily our instructor took me seriously (thank you!) and gave us one possible pose that would work. It's a very traditional "couple" pose that is by no means exciting or boundary-pushing, but it would be fine:
And then these guys were done being the models. Someone else's turn!

Here's another one from later in the evening. I love how I caught the look on her face. It's not at all how it is supposed to be, but I like it.
I can definitely say I'm learning a lot.

Camera: Canon Rebel DSLR (I cleared my memory card before writing this, but I think the settings were) 1/60s, f/8 ISO 200 using a single off-camera studio light and a reflector.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Flowers have been a favorite subject of mine for years. I've photographed every one that grows in our yard -- as well as any whose lives are shortened by being welcomed inside.

These are the first to pop up and greet the spring this year. They're both brave and timid -- brave to be the first to venture up, timid in choosing to not stretch more than three or four inches upward. Hopefully it won't be long and their kin will decide to pop up and greet the spring, too!

Camera: Canon Rebel DSLR, 60mm macro lens. 1/200s, f/5.6, ISO 200. Natural light at about 6:00 p.m.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


I love the sound of wind chimes. These hang in our screened porch near the south wall. They have a deeper sound than a lot of chimes -- less delicate, more hearty.

When storms blow in from the west or southwest, I use these chimes to gauge their approach. They start with a gentle sway and light sound. Then their rhythm picks up tempo and fills with the energy of the approaching storm. When you can hardly hear the chimes for the resounding thunder, you know it's time to head for cover.

Tonight their pealing was more laid-back. And I had to photograph them.
Camera: Canon Rebel DSLR, 1/100s, f/5.6, ISO 100 for both shots. About 7:45 p.m.

Monday, March 24, 2008


OK, I'll admit it. Tonight was one of those nights at the start of which I had this great idea of what photo I wanted to get... and the result just didn't turn out like what I had in mind. But that happens!

My judge of "spring is here" each year starts with the two maple trees in our front yard. When I come downstairs from my room every day, I look out the windows over our front door at these trees and check to see how much the buds are growing. It starts with just a little hint of red on the tips of the branches, then you can see actual buds, then the leaves pop out miraculously before dawn one morning.

By this clock, spring has sprung this year! I've had this picture in my mind for several days. My idea was to photograph the buds of one tree with the sunset glowing in the background. I got outside and my first hint that it wasn't going to go as planned came when I realized that the trees themselves -- not just their buds -- had grown! My tripod, even on its tiptoes, couldn't reach the bottom branches! Then, to focus on a close bud, I had to tip the camera up at an angle... and I lost the glow of the sunset. So, this photo is my favorite of the series. I'll have to think about the execution more and try it again another night!

Camera: Canon Rebel DSLR 60mm macro lens, 1/30s, f/4.0, ISO 100 at 8:00 p.m.

Sunday, March 23, 2008


I'm an overachiever today (or just plain indecisive... take your pick) and am going to post two photos for the day!

First up: piano keys.

I've photographed our piano keys on more than one occasion. I love that it looks like a black and white photo, but actually isn't. I like the clean lines, repeating pattern, and all of the memories that the piano evokes after many many years of playing and hearing it.

I think of Mom playing at Christmas time while I sat beside her on the bench and just watched and sang, and then, years later, started playing four-hand duets with her, swaying back and forth to the beat as we played "I'm dreaming of a white Christmas..."

I also think of my sophomore year of high school, when I (volunteered? was coerced into?) played as part of our production of Fame! My big scene was to be when I accompanied a girl a year older than me as she sang "Memories..." solo. I sat down at the keyboard, hands quaking -- which is not a good nervous symptom when you're playing piano -- laid my hands on the keys for the first chord, double checked to make sure they were correct, hit that first chord... and stopped. Something was wrong. This sound was NOT right. I hit it again, thinking it was my imagination. Nope, still wrong. And now we were off. She started singing without me. I realized, my hands now enveloped in a 7.0 earthquake, that I was a step too high -- my fingers were in the correct position, but they were on the wrong notes. I finally caught up with her, stumbled through the song, took my bow, and raced backstage in tears. Needless to say, I rarely make public appearances.

Picture above: Canon Digital Rebel DSLR, 60mm macro lens, 1/30s, f/4.0, ISO 400. Natural light from two windows off to the left.

This second picture is of a new skein of yarn that Mom recently bought to make a scarf. She's been on a knitting kick for a year or so, and she keeps a basket full of yarn next to her "spot" on the couch. Next up are new wool slippers for me, because I've worn holes through the first sole-layer in my current pair.

Canon Digital Rebel DSLR, 60mm macro lens, 1/60s, f/2.8, ISO 200. Natural light from a window off to the left.

Saturday, March 22, 2008


More horse training today! Now that the weather is (hopefully) improving, we have our noses to the grindstone trying to get ready for a week-long trail ride in May. The Girls (as we affectionately call them) got in and out of the trailer perfectly -- no more rearing up or struggling for 4.5 hours. Oprah (here on the right) is still getting used to backing out of this spot in the trailer, because she has to bend around a wall and then back out, but she did a marvelous job. We rode them for a couple of hours in an indoor arena a few miles from our house. Oprah's biggest challenge was staying focused amidst a giant salad bar: hay stacked ceiling-high on two sides of the arena. But we walked in circles, in straight lines, in figure eights... every way we could walk and stayed in line. Both she and Shep got to come home earlier than expected because they did so well. This was my first day riding since before Thanksgiving. Back in the saddle!

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD1000. Outside at about 1:00 p.m., overcast skies.


I had dinner with a few of my girlfriends last night. There's something about hanging out with these gals that makes me feel happy, relaxed... and like I'm not the only young woman in her twenties who is frustrated with any number of things in her life! From what I hear, that's normal, but that sure doesn't make you feel any better.

I like how the window in this photo puts her in a bit of a silhouette. (Honestly, that's the effect I was going for!) I warned them that I'd be taking even MORE pictures of them over the next year than I normally do in my pursuit to Improve My Skills.

Camera tonight: Canon PowerShot SD1000, inside the restaurant at about 6:30 p.m. Converted to black and white in Photoshop CS2.


It's been a few days since I've been able to post, but I've been keeping up with my project! First up:

I'm taking my third of five classes in pursuit of my photography certificate. This current class is Composition and Lighting for Studio/Portrait -- something I definitely need help with! In the first session we learned the C pose, S pose, and "senior" pose, along with the key lighting elements that go along with each pose. This week we learned so many poses I don't know their names... but this is one of my classmates in one such pose. The class is six weeks -- four to go!

Camera: Canon Rebel DSLR ISO 1600, 1/30s at f/5.6. No flash, one studio light off-camera on her left with a white reflector on her right. White background.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


The clouds cleared this evening -- finally! -- and Buster was glad to get outside and enjoy it. Spring starts tomorrow!

Camera: Canon Rebel DSLR 1/200s f/5.6 ISO400 at about 7:15 p.m. this evening. Converted to black and white in Photoshop CS2.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Dinner time!

Camera: Canon Rebel DSLR 1/30s f/5.6 ISO 400. Main light was one incandescent bulb directly above the pan.

Monday, March 17, 2008


After a blah, gray day, the clouds on my drive home were great! Look out for 3-4 inches of rain tomorrow...

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD1000

Sunday, March 16, 2008


Today we spent 4.5 hours with our unbelievable trainer, Tina, teaching our two horses how to trailer load. 3.5 of those hours were spent with this one, Shep. She actually got in and out three times at the very beginning with very little complaint, but then she decided she didn't want to cooperate anymore... hence the fight she's putting up in this picture. She finally got two feet in and we called it a day.

Camera: Canon Rebel DSLR 1/160s f/7.1 ISO 200 at about 3:00 in the afternoon.

Saturday, March 15, 2008


Welcome to the first day of my foray into Project 365! For the next year, in an attempt to improve my photography skills, posting to this blog is my motivation to take at least one picture every day.

Today's photo features the roses that my dad gave my mom for their 25th anniversary one week ago.