Tuesday, September 30, 2008

198/365 Fall bouquet

Mom brought home a bouquet of flowers from church on Sunday, and they were gorgeous.
I must have spent at least 15 minutes photographing them from every possible angle. These are two of my favorites from the bunch.

In my Black and White Darkroom class last week, the teacher asked us to introduce ourselves and explain what subjects we love to shoot. Interestingly, the three men in the class all said "urban decay," one after another (as in falling-down signs, abandoned buildings, graffiti, etc.).

When my turn arrived, I said that I'm usually drawn to nature and meteorology as subjects, especially plants/flowers and animals. (As a reader of this blog, I'm sure that's no surprise to you.)

My assignment for the week is to shoot a roll of black and white film, to be developed in class this week. I want to be mindful of what I'm shooting, since I'll end up with 8x10 prints of these photos. What's killing me is the fact that my macro lens is not compatible with my film SLR camera. If it were, I'd have no trouble deciding what to shoot. This bouquet would have been my first group of subject matter.

I'm carrying my film camera around with me all week in hopes of stumbling across great opportunities.

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens, 1/125s, f/3.5 and 4.0 at ISO 400 outdoors under partly cloudy skies.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

197/365 DIY portrait lighting

My final class meeting at the IMA on Saturday morning focused on shutter speed and lighting.

The teacher hired one of his other students, who is a dancer, to come in for an hour and be our model. We started with her in the classroom, focusing on simple portrait lighting that can be replicated at home with basic tools (I love DIY versions). She's lit in the portrait above by a standard desk lamp.

She came outside with us for the second half of the hour so we could work with using shutter speeds to alternately blur and freeze motion. I felt for her -- we had her jumping up and down, running back and forth, spinning around in circles... she was out of breath by the end (but seemed to be having fun).

My final evaluation of the class is positive. No, it wasn't as advanced as I had hoped, but it did fill in some gaps that other classes had glazed over or skipped. And I really liked the teacher, so I'll know to be on the lookout for more of his offerings.

Camera: Canon 40D, lit with a single halogen bulb in a desk lamp, 1/40s, f/5.6 at ISO 1250.

196/365 Homegrown geodes

If you'd have lifted the dust ruffle on my bed when I was a kid and peered underneath, what would you have found?

Boxes full of rocks.

Yep, I collected rocks. I had boxes and boxes of sparkly, odd-shaped, crazy-colored rocks that I'd found on railroad tracks, in the driveway, on vacation, you name it.

You know how when you go on vacation and enter tourist-focused shops, there's often a freestanding display with little polished rocks for you to sort through and buy? I was the kid digging through that. Each time I came back with a little drawstring pouch full of pretty rocks.

I even had my grandfather build me a small display cabinet for my more precious selections.

So who knew, years and years later, that I would just now get what I always yearned for?

What is it? A geode.
Chase found this for me last weekend while he was on a trail ride in southern Indiana. About the size of a softball, on the outside, it's very nondescript and is completely inconspicuous if you don't know what you're looking for.

Then you crack it open, and this amazing interior is hidden inside. It's fantastic.

Carrie Newcomer even has a song about these marvelous rocks. You can listen on her MySpace page in the player on the right. The song is aptly titled "Geodes."

For me, the only thing that could top this would be a geode with amethyst crystals inside. I'll just have to send Chase out searching again.

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens
1st: lit with a flashlight, 1/125s, f/2.8 at ISO 100
2nd: with external E-TTL flash, 1/30s, f/4 at ISO 100

195/365 Another new class

My next new class of the season, Black and White Darkroom, started on Thursday night. My initial thoughts? I think it's going to be great.

When I first learned last year that this was one of the required courses for the Photography Certificate, my first thought was, "Why?" So few people still shoot film. It's becoming harder and harder to find, too. And with that, you normally just send it off for someone to process in a machine. So why go through the process of learning in the darkroom?

Knowing a little more now, I get it. And I'm excited to learn. For one, a lot of the tools in Photoshop (like dodging and burning, two concepts with which I've fiddled but not mastered) are built on darkroom actions, so what I learn in this class should help me in digital editing.

The most amusing part of the evening is the feeling that I've stepped back into 1978. Not only is the darkroom itself an "old" art, but the building where the class is held doesn't seem to have been updated in 30 years. Then you add the teacher and the old slides he showed us... and it feels like I've stepped into one of my Dad's photo albums from his post-college days. Kind of crazy.

But I like it.

(Photo taken while driving under a railroad bridge east of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.)

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD1000 at about 9:45 p.m.

Friday, September 26, 2008

194/365 Craving tea

I just began regularly drinking tea this past winter, and now, having visited the Celestial Seasonings factory, I'm mildly fixated on their products.

The problem is, they make 101 different varieties, and so few are actually stocked on store shelves in this area. I've been on a hunt recently for two specific kinds: Sleepytime Extra, a chamomile blend that has valerian, and Chocolate Caramel Enchantment Chai, which just sounds too tasty not to try.

I found the Sleepytime Extra at a new Fresh Market, but I'm still on a hunt for the Chai.

It's not as though I'm out of other kinds to drink (as you can tell). But isn't it true that you always want something you don't have?

The arrival of fall and the approach of cool weather is making me crave tea more and more.

Camera: Canon 40D with external E-TTL flash bounced off the ceiling, 1/125s, f/4 at ISO 100.

193/365 Gorgeous mums

This mum catches my eye every time I get in and out of my car at home.

This morning on the news, one of the station's reporters was talking about planting bulbs. That's something that's always seemed interesting. How do they know when to pop up in the spring? I know they have to put down roots and germinate long enough to be able to at all, but it's nevertheless one of those mysteries of mother nature that amazes me.

Mums... bulb-planting... fall is definitely here.

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens, 1/250s, f/4 at ISO 100 in declining sunlight at about 6:45 p.m.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

192/365 DWTS returns!

We don't have cable or satellite TV. We don't have TiVo. We don't even buy TV Guide.

Okay, I'll wait a second to let you pick yourself up off the floor.

Back in your chair now? Great.

It's really not so bad. Honestly. (And I had cable in college, so I know what I'm missing on that front.)

Of these three luxuries (and yes, they are luxuries, no matter how much you may protest), TiVo/DVR is the one that I would want first. You know as well as I do that watching TV live, with the commercials, is a royal pain.

So believe me, we have a system to get around this. It may be complicated. And yes, sometimes it breaks down for lack of proper communication between users (a.k.a. Dad and me), but it is a system. Here's how it works:
  1. We have three VCRs. Each, depending on its location in the house, picks up some channels more strongly than others. This factors into the strategic assignment of taping.
  2. Each Sunday, Dad pulls the new television schedule out of the Sunday paper and grabs two highlighters, one green and one pink. He scans through the week, highlights in green the shows that he wants taped, and highlights in pink the shows that either Mom or I want taped. (I follow to make sure he caught everything.)
  3. Now, just this week he threw an extra signal into the mix: yellow. Yellow now equals shows that he doesn't want taped, but that he wants to be aware of to watch live. (Still with me?)
  4. Before 8:00 on the night in question, the designated taper (usually me) scans the guide, assesses channels to be taped, grabs a blank tape, writes the date and show(s) on an index card contained inside the cover, and begins recording.
Now, seeing how this works, how could you think that we would need TiVo? (She writes with a knowing smile.)

One of my favorite shows, Dancing with the Stars, premiered last night (highlighted in pink, as it should be). I've been a devoted fan of this show since the very first season. I even vote.

Sometimes I screw with our system and even tape it while I watch it live. Now what color should that be?

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens, 1/125s, f/2.8 at ISO 800 in incandescent lighting.

Monday, September 22, 2008

191/365 Antiques

I'm not into antiques. If a piece catches my eye as something attractive and/or useful, I might consider going for it, but as a whole, antique shopping does absolutely nothing for me.

This is the one big antique piece that has been a significant part of my life for as long as I can remember. It's a wrought-iron bed frame (that must weigh a metric ton) that I've slept on for 20 years.

If I have my story correct, Mom retrieved it from a barn at my grandmother's house when I was a kid. She had it sandblasted and painted, then it became mine. I think she may have even slept on it when she was growing up.

I loved it for many reasons as a kid. For one, it's especially tall, so I could store a lot of stuff underneath -- or fit easily myself. The design of the head and foot also make it easy to stretch string from one end to the other, so I could drape a sheet over the string and pretend I either had a tent or a canopy.

I wonder if the designer thought of that when they built it? It certainly would be a selling point for me!

Correction: I checked my story, and I did have some facts wrong. It was actually my grandmother who rescued the bed frame from a chicken house in Kentucky. I'm at least the fourth generation in my family to use it.

Camera: Canon 40D with external E-TTL flash bounced off the ceiling, 1/125s, f/5.6 at ISO 100.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

190/365 Class is in session

I attended my second of three class sessions at the IMA yesterday, and thankfully, this one covered two basics that I hadn't quite mastered: white balance and fill flash.

Nearly all of my previous classes have touched on these, or I've purposely asked a question about them, but no teacher has been able to sufficiently explain what I was looking for.

In my mind, white balance is a concept more difficult to grasp. My lack of knowledge of fill flash had more to do with how to appropriately use flash settings to get the desired effect than how it works or why it's sometimes necessary.

We practiced a little inside the classroom, then took a few minutes to go outside on the grounds of the IMA to practice with sunlight.

Some of my classmates got creative with their perspectives, such as the man in this photo.

Camera: Canon 40D 1/125s, f/8 at ISO 100 in direct sunlight at about 11:45 a.m.

189/365 Baking brownies

Mom and Chase went out of town this weekend, and one of the first things Dad asked me after they left was, "Do you know how to make brownies?"

"Yep, I do."

"Will you make some tomorrow?"

It's not as though he never has brownies, or that we suffer from a shortage of baked treats, so he must have just had a craving for warm, chocolatey goodness. Can you blame him?

It struck me as funny that that was one of the first things on his mind when his wife left town.

So I made brownies when I got home from work.

Is there anything better than coming in the house from outside and being hit by the aroma of baking?

Camera: Canon 40D with external E-TTL flash, 1/250s, f/5.6 at ISO 100.

Friday, September 19, 2008

188/365 Tree tunnel

We've always called this the tree tunnel.

For the majority of our trips to and from home, we drive through this stretch of road. The trees grow close to both each other and the road, and their branches are entwined overhead. It's distinctive enough that it also serves as a landmark when giving directions.

It's especially beautiful in the fall when the leaves change. At that same time, when the leaves actually fall to the ground, it never fails to remind me of a scene in the 1989 Michael Keaton Batman.

On his drive back to the bat cave, he drives through a wooded area, sending leaves flying up behind him. This trailer gives a quick shot of it around 1:46.

My car is by no means the bat mobile, but it doesn't take much to incite my imagination.

Camera: Canon 40D 1/60s, f/11 at ISO 100 at about 7:15 p.m.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

187/365 It's a beautiful day

I got to do something yesterday for the first time that I've been dying to do for years: eat my lunch on the Circle in downtown Indianapolis.

I'm easy to please, what can I say?

Beth works downtown, so I took my lunch, searched far and wide for a parking spot, and joined her on the steps of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument. Temperature: 70 degrees. Conditions: not a cloud in the perfect blue sky.

Note: I did no color enhancement on this photo -- that's exactly how it looked!

Whenever photos of the city are used for publicity, it never fails that at least one shows the dozens of downtown workers enjoying their lunch on the steps of the Circle. Having never worked downtown myself, I've always longed to be one of that crowd.

Working hard, dressed in my business-casual finest, taking a break from the day to chat with a friend and enjoy my lunch in the sunshine.

And it was just as great as I hoped.

It's just not the same where I work. We have a picnic table in front of the building, under a tree, but it's on a strip of grass that hardly passes for greenery. Add the fact that it's practically in the middle of the parking lot, is next to the interstate (with cars and semis whizzing by), and neighbors the airport (which means you have to stop talking when FedEx planes are coming in), it's not the most serene lunch location.

The ambience on the Circle was a nice treat.

And the excellent company certainly didn't hurt.

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD1000 at about 1:00 p.m.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

186/365 Fun at work

I'm part of a "culture committee" at work. Once a month, those of us on the committee are tasked with organizing a fun company event designed as a get-to-know-you gathering.

We serve on the committee for three months, then we rotate on to the "review" committee who approves new ideas and offers feedback.

So, yesterday afternoon we held a cornhole tournament in the parking lot, complete with randomly paired teams, a preset bracket, and gas cards for the top four finishers.The greatest part was not that everyone had a great time and figured out the names of people in different departments. The best part was the team that won consisted of two women who'd never before played cornhole.
I love when the underdog wins.

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD1000 between 1:00 and 2:30 p.m. under partly cloudy skies.

185/365 Smiley faces

Each Labor Day, as part of our town's festival, the route for a 10k run passes our house. They start running at 8:00 a.m., so our tradition has been to get our breakfast, grab a blanket, and cheer them on from the front porch.

Every runner passes us twice, because the halfway-point turnaround is about a half mile from us.

Since that weekend, we've had these bright orange directions spray-painted on the road, complete with smiley faces for the zeros and Os. Farther along the route, encouraging phrases like "almost there" and "finish strong" are painted on the road, too.

It's not a bad thing to drive by every day.

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD1000 at about 7:00 p.m.

Monday, September 15, 2008

184/365 My latest guilty pleasure

I'm utterly and completely hooked on Gilmore Girls, which you can probably surmise from this photo.

It's yet another television show that I didn't even start watching until it had gone off the air, a list for me that includes both Friends and Sex and the City.

But I don't mind.

What it means for me: Seven complete seasons on DVD. With crystal-clear reception. No commercials. No waiting an entire week to find out what happens with Lorelai and Luke or Rory and Dean. I can just pop in the next disc.

Ah, heaven.

I really didn't need to get hooked on yet another show. I've only recently (just this summer) become a convert of The Office, and the new seasons of Dancing with the Stars, Chuck and The Biggest Loser will be starting in the next week or two.


What's a girl to do? Sit back, grab a cup of tea, and give in.

Camera: Canon 40D with external E-TTL flash, 1/125s, f/4.8 at ISO 800.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

183/365 Halfway -- with homework

Six months ago, I set a goal for myself: take at least one photo per day for the next year, and post it online for added accountability.

I'm halfway there! SightSalad is 183 days old.

September and October will be busy photography-themed months for me. Yesterday I had the first session of one of three classes I'll be taking between now and the end of October.

The class that started yesterday is offered through the IMA... and isn't as advanced as I hoped. The teacher is actually one of the best I've had, it just seems that the name of the class was a little misleading.

Nevertheless, I'm sure there's plenty of foundation details and techniques that I can still learn from it.

My homework for next week is to work with manipulating depth of field using aperture, zoom, and distance to the subject. We're assigned to find three similar objects, line them up, get as close as possible, then make one photograph with the first object in focus, then a second with the second object in focus.

I did the assignment yesterday afternoon with three raspberries (edible subject = great idea). I did a third photo with the third berry in focus as well.

I think the second and third are my favorites.

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens 1/125s, f/2.8 at ISO 800 in natural light from a westward-facing window at about 6:30 p.m.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

182/365 Lonely basketball goal

I suck at basketball.

It's true. I'm not trying to be humble. Of all the sports I've tried, this is definitely my weakest.

I played basketball for one year -- third grade. I didn't enjoy it, I wasn't good at it, and I don't even remember why I wanted to play in the first place.

The family's favorite story about my brief attempt is all my Dad's fault. After practice one day, or at the dinner table, or before a game, he tried his darnedest to instill some of his wisdom in me.

He said, "When you get the ball, turn your back to the person who's guarding you, so that as you dribble toward the goal, you're putting yourself between them and the ball." (Excuse me if I'm paraphrasing, it's been quite a few years since this happened and my memory isn't as clear as it once was.)

"Okay, Dad!"

So I did. In the next game, I got the ball, turned my back to the girl trying to steal it away, and I moved backwards toward the goal.

Did I mention that I got the ball at the opposite end of the court?

That's a long way to dribble backwards.

I stuck with softball after that.

Camera: Canon 40D 1/250s, f/3.5 at ISO 100 under overcast skies at about 6:30 p.m.

181/365 Dinner on 9/11

I can't believe it's been seven years since 9/11. As everyone says, it's one of those days that you will remember in extreme detail for the rest of our lives.

Having been born in the '80s, this was really the first time I truly felt like our country could really be vulnerable to attack. I was a senior in high school on 9/11, and as soon as I heard the news about the first plane hitting the tower, the world suddenly seemed much smaller.

I didn't mark the anniversary this year by doing anything significant, though the events of that day were on my mind throughout my waking hours.

Here's to the memories of everyone we lost that day and everyone who is working to change the world and ensure it won't happen -- anywhere -- again.

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens, 1/125s, f/2.8 at ISO 800 indoors in mixed lighting.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

180/365 A sign of fall

Fall is coming.

It hit me instantly when I saw the first combines of the season harvesting soybeans.

I'm not ready for fall yet.

Don't get me wrong, I love a lot of things about fall. The holidays. Getting out my favorite sweaters and boots. Hot chocolate. Hot apple cider. Hot tea. Sweet potatoes. Shopping for Christmas. Watching the leaves change. Waiting for the first snowflakes to fall.

But I'm not ready to be forced into wearing a coat again. I hate driving while I'm all bundled up, when my arms are restricted, and how every time I slide out of the car and reach to close the door, I get zapped by static electricity.

Does anyone else feel like this spring and summer passed more quickly than usual?

We say that every year, don't we?

I'm not ready for fall.

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

179/365 Hit the pavement

For post 178, I looked straight up at the sky. For this one, I looked straight down at the ground.

Living out in the country, without much traffic, I've seen my share of tire marks.

Every once in a while, on my way to work, I'll see a new pattern that acts as evidence of overnight mischief. This week, in one intersection, I found a series of circles that must have come from a long series of spin-outs a la victory lane at the Speedway.

It's not the first time I've seen such tread marks in that intersection. More often I see snaking lines that end up in a cornfield.

The marks in this photo are just your standard slam-on-the-brakes-for-the-stop-sign straight marks.

Camera: Canon 40D 1/125s, f/8 at ISO 200 in direct sunlight at about 7:00 p.m.

178/365 Blue skies

I love clouds like these, especially when the sun is rising or setting. They're not heavy and thick, but they're not really light and wispy, either. They seem like morning clouds, as though they're just getting started on the weather for the day.

This is another taken-while-driving photo, captured on my drive to work Monday morning.

It was a good way to start the week.

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD1000 at about 7:40 a.m.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

177/365 Jim and Joe

I got to do four great things on Sunday afternoon:
  1. Go to the IMA to do a photo shoot (gorgeous. perfect day.)
  2. Be the "official" assistant photographer at that shoot (first time!) with Mark, who has been my photography mentor for the last couple years
  3. Spend time with some friends from work -- outside of work (doesn't happen often)
  4. Finally put to use the answer to the question I asked in my last class in March: how might you use a "couples" pose but adapt it for two gay men?
Awesome day.

The request, from Jim, came up months and months ago, and we finally were able to coordinate schedules and weather to do the shoot.

As a gift to celebrate their first anniversary, Jim wanted to have some "formal" photos done of he and Joe. I did some research, asked questions, and brainstormed with Mark before Sunday. Mark acted as primary photographer, using some flash, and I acted as secondary photographer, walking around to get different angles while he shot, and I used only natural light. We had a ball working together.

Here are four of my favorites.

A shot to show their rings:

A great one of them together:

One in kind of a "GQ-style" (my phrasing) pose and location, with the color toned back a bit for mood:

And I love this one of the two of them. They were so natural and happy together the entire time, and this photograph really shows that:

Great way to end the weekend!

Camera: Canon 40D under overcast skies and in shade between 1:00 and 2:30 p.m.
1st photo: 1/125s, f/5.6 at ISO 160
2nd: 1/125s, f/5.6 at ISO 125
3rd: 1/125s, f/4.5 at ISO 800
4th: 1/125s, f/5.6 at ISO 160

Monday, September 8, 2008

176/365 Inspired by cinematography

I saw Elizabeth: The Golden Age for the first time a few weeks ago. (Tip: don't watch it without seeing the 1998 Elizabeth first, or you'll be totally lost.) Aside from the fact that it's a powerful movie, it marked a first for me: It was the first time I've ever been struck by the cinematography of a film.

Perhaps it's my growing love of photography, or my increasing list of movies on my "check" list, but this movie is absolutely stunning. Three main things particularly caught my eye:
1. Their manipulation/juxtaposition of foreground and background elements
2. The use of color (and lack thereof) to draw your eye into the scene
3. Filming through a foreground obstruction, like a fence or screen, to give the viewer both a sense of the lack of privacy Elizabeth had and also a more intimate feel

This trailer shows a bit of it, especially number 3 around 1:50:

Here's another good trailer, a bit shorter. Both of them give me goosebumps just watching them.

I find the movie incredibly inspiring. Ever since I saw it I've been keeping ideas in the back of my head for future use. It's the idea of number 3 that inspired me a bit here, a photo of the sunset through the rails of the front porch.

(The movie also makes me glad that I'm a woman of 2008, not 1585.)

Camera: Canon 40D 1/250s, f/5.6 at ISO 100 at about 8:00 p.m.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

175/365 Inside the pages of a book

I've been a voracious reader for as long as I can remember.

As a kid, whenever I was in the middle of an especially enthralling book, I used to hide a flashlight under my pillow at night to continue reading after bedtime. As soon as my parents tucked me in, I'd pull the covers up over my head, make a tent with my bent knees, rest the flashlight on my shoulder, and read undercover.

I don't have to do that anymore, but reading is still one of my very favorite pastimes. This year I've been on a Jane Austen kick. I took a semester-long literature class in college that focused entirely on Jane Austen, and ever since then I've been hooked.

Right now I'm reading an Austen sequel (you wouldn't believe how many different sequels, prequels, spinoffs, etc. exist for Austen novels), Eliza's Daughter by Joan Aiken. It's a sequel to Sense and Sensibility.

There's something about novels set in old England that have always enthralled me. I suppose it's the romantic in me. Who knows?

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens 1/125s, f/2.8 at ISO 640 in natural light from a southern window at about 6:30 p.m.

174/365 More time in the kitchen

I don't know how it is in your house, but at mine, we spend a huge amount of time in the kitchen.

Whether we're eating (of course), reading the paper, sitting around talking, doing homework, you name it -- it seems to happen in the kitchen.

This week, the grapes fully ripened, and Mom made homemade jam. In this photo she's going through the tedious steps of washing them and separating the skins from the pulp.

Tedious but oh so worth it.
Camera: Canon 40D 1/125s, f/4.0 at ISO 1000 under fluorescent and incandescent lighting.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

173/365 A drop of relief

It seems ironic that after the torrential rain we had in June, a good dose of rain is exactly what we need now.

You can hear the dry crunch of grass blades dying when you walk across the yard, trees are shedding their leaves prematurely, and the garden, which was doing so well, is desperately crying for relief.

The effects of Hurricane Gustav have reached us, so we had our first brief downpour yesterday evening.
When I was a kid, I loved to have the garage door open, and either sit in the dry garage just watching the rain, or if it was warm and not storming, go out and play in it.

One of my favorite things to do was run out with old plastic bowls in my hand, strategically place them on the driveway, and periodically run back and forth to see how quickly they filled up.

I don't remember what the idea was behind this activity, but I still like to watch the level of water in the rain gauge slowly fill.

Camera: Canon 40D 1/125s, f/4.5 at ISO 640 at about 6:30 p.m.

172/365 My arsenal

I am suffering through my first head cold in two years, and the temperature outside has topped 90 degrees twice in the last week. How does that make sense?

Wednesday was the first sick day I've ever taken from work. I stayed home, figured out a combination of medicines that seemed to help most, and slept for about 11 hours on Tuesday evening.

There's nowhere I'd rather be when I'm sick than at home. Happily, I'm feeling better today, so the day at home seems to have worked its magic.

Camera: Canon 40D 1/125s, f/5.6 at ISO 100 in natural window light at about 6:30 p.m.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

171/365 Heebie-jeebies

WARNING: This post is not for the faint of heart.

Not for the arachnophobic.

Not for those prone to heebie-jeebies (I am, when confronted with an exceptionally large spider.)

I'm pretty brave when it comes to bugs, spiders, reptiles, whatever. I can squash a spider -- or grab it with a wadded paper towel -- with the best of them.

Unless it's too big.

Then I call in reinforcements.

But I can appreciate these creatures from a safe distance and through the lens of a camera.

If you haven't guessed already, that's the subject of today's photograph: an exceptionally large spider.

I'm purposefully adding plenty of vertical space between the title of this post and the photo so that you have the chance to prepare yourself and not scroll down, should you choose to do so.

It's a Black and Yellow Argiope, also called a common garden spider. I don't know where the name originated, but we've always called them Golden Ladies at home. We found this one suspended above our irises on the south side of the screened porch. She's been hanging out there for a couple days, poised, waiting for prey, in the same position -- face down.

I do think she's a female, judging by my research, because her body was about an inch long. Apparently they're harmless to humans, though that still doesn't encourage me to reach out and pet her.

Okay, here comes the photo.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

There, that wasn't so bad, was it? She's very striking, in an interesting, I'll-stay-back-here-thank-you-very-much way.

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

Monday, September 1, 2008

170/365 Old Fashioned Days

The annual festival for our small town falls on Labor Day weekend. It always features a l-o-n-g parade, dozens of craft booths, a car show, tractor pull, and horse pull.

We usually make it out to the horse pull (surprise, surprise).
This year, Chase was asked to carry the flag for the singing of the National Anthem before the horse pull started. He, Mom and Tina worked with Shep on Saturday to desensitize her to the flag and various noises.
Whitney, one of Tina's former apprentices, rode her horse, Stirfry, and carried the Indiana flag. Both horses (and riders) did beautifully. Shep only got a little excited with the crowd clapped at the end of the song, but Chase held her in check like a pro.
Camera: Canon 40D, 1/250, f/5.6 at ISO 100 in direct sun at about 6:00 p.m.