Sunday, August 31, 2008

169/365 Light up the skies over Indianapolis

On the Saturday night of Labor Day weekend, the skies over downtown Indianapolis light up in one of my favorite events of the year: Sky Concert.

Sky Concert features the most spectacular fireworks in Indiana, set perfectly to a soundtrack played on the radio. As you sit and watch, the music surrounds you from thousands of radios tuned to 97.1.

And this year, the combination of perfectly clear skies and the right gear in hand led me to get 363 photos between about 8:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m., the majority of which came between 9:30 and 10:00.

I chose nine to feature here. Bear with me, I'm awfully excited.

We sat on the west side of the White River, a perfect location for sunset photos of downtown Indianapolis.

It won't be long and it will be impossible to get this photo -- the RCA Dome (former home of the Colts) and the newly completed Lucas Oil Stadium (fancy shmancy new home of the Colts). Demolition of the RCA Dome has already begun.

And here we have beautiful downtown Indianapolis at sunset:

And the same downtown, 30-60 minutes later, with the lights reflecting off the White River:

Just one final shot of the nighttime downtown before the show begins.

Fireworks began promptly at 9:30. One of the first themes focused on celebrating our own Indianapolis Colts, who won the Super Bowl in 2007 and who will host the Super Bowl in 2012. So of course you have to have blue and white fireworks.

There is always a generous helping of red, white and blue.

I first saw these shaped fireworks when they used "My Heart Will Go On" as a song in the show's soundtrack -- appropriate, don't you think?

My favorites are the HUGE white and gold ones that explode and slowly trail back to earth.

And the grand finale is always an unbelievable string of nonstop firepower. I read that 5,000 shells are used in the show, and I'm betting that at least 2,500 of those are used in the grand finale alone.
This is the first time I've attempted to photograph fireworks. I'll definitely do it again!

Camera: Canon 40D between 8:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. under clear skies.
1st photo: 1/125s, f/5.6 at ISO 400
2nd photo: 1/125s, f/5.6 at ISO 250
3rd photo: 0.6s, f/8 at ISO 640
4th photo: 1.3s, f/8 at ISO 400

5th photo: 3s, f/8 at ISO 640
6th, 7th, 8th photos: 0.6s, f/5.6 at ISO 640
9th photo: 25s, f/5.6 at ISO 100

Saturday, August 30, 2008

168/365 Watermelon, Jell-o and badminton

Hamburgers, hot dogs, salad, watermelon, potato salad, baked beans, chips, Jell-o, brownies (two kinds), guacamole, grapes, lots of iced tea, and a little Diet Coke -- now THAT'S cookout food.

Add a little trash-talking before a rousing game of badminton, and you have it.

Our whole family, minus one uncle scouting elk in Colorado, made it for last night's cookout to welcome Chase home. We lucked out with the weather; it was a little humid, but could have been much worse in an Indiana August.

Before and after dinner, Chase, Wade and his wife, Jena, and I played badminton and laughed hard enough to make it difficult to actually concentrate on playing the game.

Chase will have to turn around and move again on Monday, this time back to college for his senior year. It's GREAT to have him back in Indiana.

Camera: Canon 40D 1/125s, f/5.6 at ISO 200 through a window at about 7:30 p.m.

167/365 Add a little wiggle

Chase has safely returned to Indiana!

He drove home from Colorado and arrived Thursday night in the midst of our welcome-home pre-cookout preparations.

We invited family over Friday night to give them a chance to visit with him. At my request, even though it's not the fourth of July, we made red-white-and-blue Jell-o dessert cups.

I love the smell of boiling water hitting the Jell-o powder. It's one of those terribly interesting foods that really makes me want to know the chemistry behind it. Why is it that you add boiling water to dissolve the gelatin, cool water to set it up, put it in the fridge for a few hours, and voila! A wiggly, not-really-solid dessert that is nothing but fun to eat. How does that work?

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens 1/125s, f/2.8 at ISO 800 under both fluorescent and incandescent light.

166/365 Stopped by the train

The one and only time I've ridden on a train was on the Agawa Canyon Tour Train in Canada, one of our family's summer vacations when I was a teenager.

We drove north through Michigan, pausing to search for stones along the beach in Petoskey, MI, and ended up in Sault Ste. Marie.

We boarded the train on the Canadian side of Sault Ste. Marie, and we rode out into the wilderness to the canyon, where we had several hours to hike and explore the waterfalls before riding back to the station in the afternoon.

I sincerely hope that the train system in the U.S. can be revived for public transportation again. Not having to worry about rising gas prices would be a nice scenario.

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD1000 at about 5:30 p.m.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

165/365 Fanatic about tomatoes

I look forward to tomato season more and more every year.

I didn't used to be a fan of eating them raw, but for some reason, this year I've been craving fresh tomatoes. I've been making mixed salads nearly every night just so I can have the veggies.

I still haven't made salsa yet, but I fully intend to.

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens, 1/125s, f/2.8 at ISO 640 in natural window light at about 7:30 p.m.

164/365 Bubbles

What is it about soap bubbles that is so fascinating?

Mom and I were talking about this a couple days ago. She reminded me that she loved filling a sink with soapy water when Chase and I were kids and letting us play (trying to get us to like washing dishes? Didn't work, sorry.).

And we always had a container of bubble solution ready in the garage for the moment when we'd want to take them outside. It seems that bubbles are becoming more and more common in grown-up fun, too -- blowing bubbles at weddings is nearly as common as throwing bird seed.

Maybe it's the way they always come out in perfect orbs. Or the concentration and skill that it takes to blow one that's extra large. I love watching them float away in the breeze. Something about them automatically draws your eye, no matter the circumstance.

Just talking about it makes me want to go outside and blow bubbles!

Camera: Canon 40D 1/125s, f/4.5 at ISO 1600 under fluorescent lighting.

Monday, August 25, 2008

163/365 More DIY than I even intended

I love DIY stuff in general. Restaurant recipes, decorating projects, and of course, photography set-ups.

I also love going to Lowe's / Home Depot (your pick).

This blog post from a few months ago inspires me, so when I was in Lowe's this weekend, I looked for the tileboard that he recommends.

Unfortunately, Lowe's doesn't carry it, only Home Depot, so I walked out empty-handed. But I inadvertently achieved a similar idea with stuff I had at home, on a much smaller scale.

Behold, the use of three shrink-wrapped pieces of white poster board, courtesy of my 4-H Photography entries from 1997, 1998, and 2000.

Add some flash, diffused with a white sock, and voila! Experimentation at work.

I will definitely be playing with this idea again.

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens and external E-TTL flash, 1/250s, f/2.8 at ISO 100.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

162/365 Cosmos

Say the word "cosmos" and my mind automatically goes to Sex and the City.

It's probably the same for hundreds of other people, too.

This flower, named Cosmos, is actually new to me. I ventured out of my own yard and into the neighbors' to get it.

It probably doesn't taste as good as the SATC cosmos. But I didn't try it, so don't take my word for it.

Camera: Canon 40D 1/250s, f/5.6 at ISO 100 in sunlight at about 6:30 p.m.

161/365 Gazing upward

For several years, Dad and Chase took several trips a year to archery events, or "bow shoots", as they're more commonly called. They'd be gone for anywhere between a weekend and an entire week.

While they were gone, Mom and I would choose a room in the house and redecorate it in some way. New paint, new drawer/cabinet handles, etc. It got to the point where when Dad would call to check in, he'd say, "So, what room are you redoing this year?"

We haven't done that in a long time, but these valances are part of the latest kitchen theme.

Camera: Canon 40D 1/125s, f/4.5 at ISO 1600 in natural light at about 8:00 p.m.

Friday, August 22, 2008

160/365 Hydrangea leaves

I stepped out on the front porch last night to search for a photo opportunity, and these leaves caught my eye.

They're as large or larger than my entire hand. They're perfectly symmetrical. And one little offshoot had these lighter green edges, where the rest of the leaves were one solid green. Interesting.

When I got back in the house, Mom called me into the office to see a couple videos she found online. They're so funny, and is perfect timing with the Olympics and gymnastics frenzy, that I have to share them here. This is a gymnast named Paul Hunt who had a comedic routine in the 1980s and 1990s.

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens, 1/125s, f/2.8 at ISO 800 in shade at about 7:45 p.m.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

159/365 I heard it through the grapevine

(Sorry, I couldn't resist.)

Why do grapes grow in bunches?

Their size is similar to a cherry, which grows on a singular stem. Yet at some point, thousands of years ago in their development, it proved more beneficial to the plant for this fruit to grow in bunches.

Grapes seem to have fascinated people for ages. Think of two examples: 1. Most still-life bowl-of-fruit paintings you see will have a cluster of grapes in it. And 2. when we picture royalty being catered to in ancient Rome, we think of being fanned by palm fronds and being fed grapes.


And of course there's the I Love Lucy scene.

The grapes in the picture above grow on the fence in our backyard. We'll make jam with them, but I promise we'll be using tools, not our feet, to mash them.

But that does sound fun.

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/125s, f/4 at ISO 1000 under overcast skies at about 8:15 p.m.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

158/365 Power lines

Generally when I use Photoshop, and my skills still tend to fall on the Novice end of the scale, I use it to make my photos look as close to reality as I possibly can. The human eye sees more vibrant colors, and more dynamic light ranges, than a camera ever is able to.

While I appreciate the talent and time that it takes to create Photoshop art that drastically alters images, it just doesn't appeal to me. Maybe I'm old-school, but I want to believe what I see in photographs, whether it's a snapshot of a celebrity, a portrait of a friend, or a landscape in western America.

So I usually stick to that kind of editing when I'm tweaking my own images.

This one is a little different. I took this photo on my way home yesterday. I had to be fast, because I was in line to go through a stop sign and couldn't take my time to compose it exactly how I wanted -- so as a result, I'm not terribly pleased with it. It felt very... boring.

So I changed it to black and white, and I burned all of the greenery to black, so that it became silhouetted against the sky.

It helped a little. I feel like it's a tad more interesting now, and it makes me think of a scene from many decades ago.

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD1000 at about 5:15 p.m.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

157/365 Positive reinforcement

A significant part of Tina's horse training method focuses on positive reinforcement (as seen here).

It seems like common sense -- when the horse does something correctly, when they've listened to you and executed the appropriate action after your cue, praise them. Even if all they're doing is standing still while the reins are in their "stand cue" position at the base of their neck. And it works!

Yet it amazes me to observe other training methods and see how little they praise the horses for a job well done.

I've been using the technique on Buster, too, and it's working with him, just like it works with the horses. Is he sitting quietly while I cut up chicken, not begging for a piece? "Good boy!"

Praise: so simple, but so often underutilized. Interesting concept, isn't it?

Camera: Canon 40D 1/125s, f/5.6 at ISO 100 at about 7:00 p.m.

Monday, August 18, 2008

156/365 Homemade hummus

I am utterly and completely hooked on this stuff.

I'm constantly searching for sources of protein that don't involve meat or fish. I'm not a vegetarian, I just don't care for thick slabs of meat or seafood in general. I eat lots of turkey, chicken and ham, and an occasional pork chop, but my taste for meat pretty much ends there.

So when Mom and I perfected this hummus recipe, bells started ringing, hallelujah choruses rang out... you get the picture. It's GREAT.

I generally make a batch a week, and it has become an integral part of my lunch every day.

Gosh, I'm getting hungry just thinking about it...

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens, 1/125s, f/2.8 at ISO 400 in natural light at about 5:30 p.m.

155/365 Ben and Stephanie tie the knot

Surprisingly enough, for someone in her mid-20s, I've attended very few weddings and/or receptions. I can almost count them on one hand. I only have two cousins (both married, so theirs are two of the handful), just one brother, and my closest friends haven't yet tied the knot.

The number increased this weekend, and the story actually begins many moons ago.

My parents met two of their closest friends at work before any of them were married. After they got married, they moved to within a few miles of each other, then Ben and I were born six months apart. Our parents have the customary babies-kissing and toddlers-playing-(naked)-in-the-kiddie-pool pictures of us that somehow come up in conversation every time we're all together.

So Ben is, literally, my oldest friend. And now he's married!

Ben and Stephanie tied the knot on 08/08/08 at 8:00 p.m. with only immediate family present. Their reception was a backyard affair this past Saturday and was lovely.
They were both polite and resisted the America's-Funniest-Home-Videos thought of smearing cake on the other's face. (thank goodness)

Congratulations, Ben and Stephanie! I wish you great happiness!

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD1000 outdoors at about 3:30 p.m.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

154/365 Laces

Nine times out of 10, I'm the first one to arrive to meetings in the office.

Yesterday morning, the other people were so late to one that I had time to grab a seat, become interested by how the light was falling on my foot when I crossed it a certain way, go back to my desk, get my small camera, take four or five photos, and put it back again before anyone got there.

It kind of drives me nuts, but at least I got a photo opportunity out of it!

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD1000 in sunlight through a window at about 9:30 a.m.

153/365 Sunset reflections

I took Buster for a walk a couple nights ago and saw the sunset reflected in these windows.

In order to see it fully, I had to be standing in exactly the right spot, so it was an instance of "right place, right time."

Camera: Canon 40D 1/60s, f/4.5 at ISO 100 at about 8:00 p.m.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

152/365 A little light painting

These geraniums have been drawing my eye for weeks, but I've resisted photographing them until last night.

So often, photographers, myself included, put the camera away when it gets dark. But for this photo, I waited until after dusk, instead of catching them in the setting sunlight as I usually do. Then, I took a flashlight out with me and "painted" them.

Light painting is a technique where you use a flashlight -- or a wireless strobe -- to selectively light objects in an otherwise dark room/environment. While the shutter is open, exposing the image, you shine a flashlight over the objects you want to light, in the shape you want, and those are what show up in the final photo. It's as though your scene is a paint-by-number, and you're only choosing to fill in some of the spaces as you "paint" them with your flashlight. Some other examples of how this can work are in this post at Strobist and this Flickr pool.

It can be a really cool technique that I often forget about -- but I'm going to try to change that. It makes me think outside the natural-light box.

Camera: Canon 40D on a tripod, 1s, f/4.5 at ISO 100 outdoors after sunset at about 9:30 p.m., "painted" with a flashlight.

151/365 Sunset over cornfields

I stopped to get this photo on my way home from a dinner that made me feel rather old.

The dinner was a send-off for the latest Lilly Endowment Community Scholars, and their fellow Scholars still in college. As I sat with them and listened to their apprehension about roommates and changing their majors, I realized yet again, "Wow, I successfully completed four years of college. I'm done with all of that."

It's a great feeling and odd at the same time.

Good luck to them!

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD1000 at about 8:15 p.m.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

150/365 Indiana State Fair

August means it's time for the Indiana State Fair.

The first memory that pops into my mind is not of various fried-delicacies-on-a-stick, but of dancing with my clogging team on the first Saturday of the fair every year. At one particular stage, under a white and yellow tent, on a raised plywood surface, we clogged at 1:00 p.m., usually in 90+ degree heat in long sleeves and pantyhose.

Sounds fun, doesn't it?

Actually, it was one of my favorite shows to do every year. The stage loudly projected the sound of our steps, and I got to see other teams from around the state perform.

Our team disbanded when I was a freshman in college. There's no dramatic ending story to tell; everyone had simply acquired too many outside commitments or had been dancing for so many years they were ready for a break.

Trekking to the Indiana State Fair makes me remember that I still miss certain aspects of it, especially getting the chance to regularly perform on stage. I don't miss pounding the cement in unsupportive shoes -- a repetitive act which has meant that my knees will never be the same.

My trips to the Fair nowadays mean photography exhibits instead.

Camera: Canon 40D 1/125s, f/8 at ISO 100 in direct sunlight at about 7:00 p.m.

Monday, August 11, 2008

149/365 Reflections

I reluctantly stepped away from the Olympics for a few minutes last night to get my photo of the day.

We had a gorgeous, unusual August day yesterday. The high temperature only reached the mid-70s, while the average high is usually closer to 90 with intense humidity. If you didn't know it, you would think you had stepped out into late-September instead of early August.

The light breeze disturbed the surface of the pond just enough to ripple texture into the reflections of the blue sky, white cumulus clouds, and green trees.

Then I went back inside to the Olympics.

Camera: Canon 40D 1/125s, f/8 at ISO 100 at 5:40 p.m.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

148/365 Back to work

Shep injured her foot in June, which mandated that no one ride her for at least four weeks while it healed. It wasn't serious, but it did put a halt on training.

It's been eight weeks, so Mom and I took her out to the round pen yesterday morning to see how she's healed. We didn't notice her limping or favoring her foot, and she seemed relaxed, calm and responsive. We were able to call it a completely positive morning.

And what was the first thing she did after she was completely unsaddled? Found a nice open patch of dirt and rolled in it.

Nothing changes.

Camera: Canon 40D 1/125s, f/8 at ISO 100 under overcast skies at about noon.

147/365 08/08/08 and start of the Olympics

I've always admired Olympians. The amount of discipline, patience and dedication that it takes to become that good at something -- in addition to the fantastic physical ability -- never ceases to amaze me.

It's for that reason that I really look forward to watching the Olympics every two years. And this year, I actually get to root for someone close to home.

One of the female gymnasts, Bridget Sloan, is the sister of a guy in my high school class. I did a lot of the same extracurricular activities that he did, and I also knew another of his sisters through Junior Miss. We come from a small high school in rural Indiana that sometimes produces good football teams, but never an athlete on the Olympic scale.

Signs are posted all over the community. You can see the ones pictured below in front yards, and in front of the schools, plus several local companies have their own signs by the road.I'm really looking forward to cheering her on, along with all of the other great American athletes.


Camera: Canon PowerShot SD1000 at about 7:30 a.m.

Friday, August 8, 2008

146/365 The tomatoes are coming

The tomatoes in our garden are finally starting to ripen.It makes me want to run around yelling, in the wrongly attributed Paul Revere way, "The tomatoes are coming! The tomatoes are coming!"

Even though the false-alarm tomato scare was just that -- a false-alarm -- it still makes me appreciate home-grown fresh-from-the-garden food even more. I know where it's coming from, what's been put on it (or not), and on and on.

And I've been dying to make some homemade salsa with our first jalapenos. Yum!

Camera: Canon 40D 1/125s, f/5.6 at ISO 200 in natural light at about 7:30 p.m.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

145/365 Keeping an eye on you

As I was trying to take his picture, Buster didn't want to cooperate.

Don't get me wrong, it was sweet and made me laugh, but sometimes I wish we'd taught him "stay." Instead, every time I got down on my knees and elbows to put myself at his level on the floor, he would get up, walk to me, then lay back down.


I finally caught him at the right moment and distance, but you can see that he's watching me intently, contemplating his next move.

Camera: Canon 40D 1/125s, f/5.6 at ISO 1600 indoors in natural light at about 7:00 p.m.

144/365 Costume jewelry

Costume jewelry is one of those things that they just don't make like they used to.

My grandmother has oodles of old costume jewelry that is 50 years old or more, and so much of it is still beautiful.

Over the years we've sold pieces that she doesn't have a use for any more, but I've snatched a handful for myself, like a few of these. Some I'm able to wear to work, others I've worn for more formal occasions. I like the thought that at one time, she -- or my great-grandmother -- wore them, too.

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens and external E-TTL flash, 1/125s, f/2.8 at ISO 100.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

143/365 Screwed

I was inspired to make these two photos by a post on one of the photography blogs I follow. Digital Photography School has daily posts on photography instruction, and this featured how to do macro without a dedicated lens.
I have the dedicated lens, but it was the opening shot of the video that triggered the idea to grab a couple drawers of screws from the garage and get to shooting.

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens, 1/500s, f/2.8 at ISO 100 in direct sunlight at about 7:30 p.m.

Monday, August 4, 2008

142/365 Our new dog

Meet Chloe, the latest addition to our family. She's been very well-behaved and has adapted quickly to life at our house.Mom and I saw her in an art gallery in Boulder, Colorado, and we knew we had to take her home with us. She actually holds a small flower pot, but we haven't found the perfect one for her yet.

After we bought her, we called Dad that evening and said, "Guess what? We bought a dog!"

He's grown accustomed to our jokes and buying habits after this many years, so he wasn't even remotely alarmed. "Okay... so what is it really?"

"A dog! And we've named her Chloe."

"Alright... sounds like you guys are having fun, then."


Where's the fun in that?

Camera: Canon 40D 1/125s, f/4.5 at ISO 320 in natural light at about 6:30 p.m.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

141/365 Kristin's send-off

Kristin leaves in less than a week to start grad school at NYU. We held a cookout in her honor on Saturday night, complete with leftover sparklers from the fourth of July.
I'm going to miss her terribly, even though I'm so excited for her -- and excited to go visit. I've been looking for an excuse to trek back to NYC again.
Good luck, Kristin! We'll miss you!

Camera: Canon 40D 1/4 and 1/3s, f/4.5 at ISO 1600 in near darkness at about 10:00 p.m.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

140/365 Corn tassels

When I talk to my mom, or anyone else who grew up in a farming area more than 30 years ago, they always talk about one particularly miserable summer/fall job: detasseling corn.

The farmers needed help, and the teenagers needed money, so they dressed in their long sleeves and helped detassel fields of corn. Through a little Googling, I've found that it was seen often as a rite of passage and one of those awful jobs that your parents tell you "build character" (blech). One guy even calls it "the worst job he ever had."

Thank goodness for modern machinery and scientific advancement, because I've never been unfortunate enough to have to do it. I don't think Chase has, either, even with all of the time he's spent working on farms during that part of the growing season.

I always picture teenagers detasseling corn when I see the fields at this time of year, and it makes all the paper cuts I got working a summer job in the records department at Farm Bureau Insurance not seem quite so bad.

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens, 1/400s, f/2.8 at ISO 100 in direct sunlight at about 8:00 p.m.

139/365 Petunia

I love the lacy edges of this petunia. It's so thin and delicate that it only takes a breath of a breeze to rustle it.

The petunias are flourishing in this heat and humidity. To look out at the big pot that they share with red geraniums, yellow marigolds and other flowers, the white petunias have nearly taken over.

I don't often count them as one of my favorite flowers; they're much more subtle and don't scream for attention like a lily. But they're charming in their own way.

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens, 1/800s, f/2.8 at ISO 100 in direct sunlight at about 7:45 p.m.