Sunday, November 30, 2008

254/365 First real snowfall

When I woke up this morning, my first thought was of snow. I still love that childlike excitement that comes with not knowing what to expect when you roll out of bed. Will it have fizzled out? Will it have dumped inches on us?

This morning's snow was as expected -- about one inch. Nothing amazing, but fun nonetheless. So the first thing I did after breakfast was lace up my snow boots and trek outside.

The pond had a thin layer of ice on it, on top of which was a mottled layer of melted and frozen snow. What caught my eye was this pattern that surrounded and branched out from each captured leaf:
These were scattered all over the pond, and I have no idea why or how they formed.

The horses were out in the field, enjoying their breakfast. Oprah and Shep trotted farther down the field when I approached, but the-horse-still-called-Destiny wasn't camera shy at all. See that striking blue eye?

Against the barren trees and white snow, she looks like a black-and-white photograph, even though it's completely in color.

I love a lot of things about snow, and one is the way it gently blankets everything.

It sure makes me ready for Christmas!

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/125s, f/5.6 at ISO 200 at about 9:00 a.m.

253/365 Incoming snow

Yesterday afternoon, at about 4:30 p.m., when we looked west, the leading edge of this cold front was completely defined in the sky.

What on a June day would signal incoming thunderstorms, now just warns of snow. And what do I say?

Bring it on!

Now that Thanksgiving has passed, I'm fully ready to celebrate Christmas. To me, that means snow. I'm ready!

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/125s, f/5.6 at ISO 200 at about 4:30 p.m.

Friday, November 28, 2008

252/365 A trip down under

For the past several years, my Black Friday activities have involved two things: sleeping in, and celebrating a friend's birthday downtown at the Circle of Lights in the evening.

I'm not a shopper who enjoys the madness of this day. Heck, I'm not a shopper who enjoys the madness of a mall on any weekend before Christmas.

My plans were a little different this year. Because of new jobs and new responsibilities, the usual evening birthday celebration didn't happen. I also am not ready for night driving quite yet, until my eyes heal a little more from my surgery. So, instead, I went and saw a movie with two different friends. We picked Australia.

I've been a huge Hugh Jackman fan for years and years, long before he was named Sexiest Man Alive (though I definitely agree with People magazine's selection this year -- a much better choice than, say, Brad Pitt. But that's another day's rant.) I love Marvel and DC Comic movies, so the first X-Men was probably the first time I really noticed him. Another of my favorites is Kate & Leopold. So it didn't take much media hoopla to make me interested in this movie. I also like Nicole Kidman.

My review of this movie? Very good. It didn't blow me away, and I don't think it was as fantastic as I expected, but it was definitely well done. I'll see it again.

On my way home, I photographed this old barn along the road, backlit by the sunset.

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD1000 at about 5:00 p.m.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

251/365 A laid-back Thanksgiving

I'm back! My vision is improving one week after my surgery, and I could NOT resist getting some photos on Thanksgiving.

We spent the day at my aunt and uncle's house for the first time. The atmosphere was laid-back and relaxed, just the way I like my holidays.

Their house is on the smaller side, so a few people had to eat in the next room. Grandpa was thrilled, because that meant he could watch football while he ate. Chase and my cousin, Wade, joined him, and stretched out on the couch afterward.

Later in the afternoon, Uncle Dan set up their tipi. They've had one for years, and they regularly take it when they travel west for camping. It's larger, more comfortable, and circulates air much better than a standard camping tent. They also have a wood stove that goes inside, so they can camp in very cool weather.

I watched part of its construction this afternoon.Beautiful weather, great food, and a good time with family -- a fantastic Thanksgiving!

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD1000 at about 4:00 p.m.

Monday, November 24, 2008

SightSalad on hiatus

My laser eye surgery went well, I'm healing nicely, but it's taking longer than I anticipated. The surgeon made the decision that day to perform PRK instead of Lasik, which is safer but takes longer to get clear vision.

I've been taking my daily pictures with my PowerShot, but honestly, they suck! I've been confined to the house, I can't see the screen to even tell if the photo is in focus, and it's just not pretty. So I'm going to scrap those photos and pick up when I can reasonably see again -- hopefully within the next few days.

Until then, here are some links to keep you busy:

The Big Picture. Always blows me away.

Danese Kenon, a local Indy Star photographer, who inspires me with her daily variety.

Digital Photography School encourages you to never give up.

I'll be back...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

250/365 Farewell, glasses and contacts!

Today is the big day!

After 12:30 today, if everything goes as planned, I will no longer need glasses until I'm in my 40s and need reading glasses! It's a very strange thought. I don't remember life without needing glasses.

Until today, the image in my mind of how this will go was from Sex and the City, Season 3, the season premier, when Miranda gets Lasik. (I tried to find a clip on YouTube, with no luck.) We'll see how accurate it is.

I'm supposed to avoid reading, watching TV, or being on the computer for prolonged periods of time for the next few days, so my posting on here will be sporadic or nonexistent. Not to worry, I still plan to get my daily photos using the live-view on my PowerShot so I don't have to bring it up to my eye.

Until then...

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

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

249/365 Silhouette sunset

What is it about sunrises and sunsets that captivate us?

I'm obviously captivated by all things meteorological, which includes the rising and setting of the sun. One of the items on my list of Things to Do Before I Die is to see the Northern Lights (Or Southern, for that matter. I'm not picky.), yet another sky-related phenomena.

Until then, I'll have to do with beautiful Indiana sunsets. When it comes to sunset photos, I always like it when they include a silhouetted object. I like having the foreground sharp but without real detail.

That's what inspired me to make this photo on my drive home from work last night. The barren trees aren't as obviously beautiful as when they still have their leaves, but this winter I'm going to try to be creative and find ways to make them so.

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

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

248/365 Impaired photography

I'm going to make excuses for this photo.

I only like it a teeny bit, and even then, only because I did some serious playing in Photoshop.

Why do I feel like I can make an excuse? I literally couldn't really see what I was doing.

I had my final pre-op exam with my optometrist yesterday, three days before my Lasik surgery. For this appointment, he dilated my eyes using the super-duper strong drops so they could really see into my eyes. Those super-duper drops can take 24-48 hours to wear off, so immediately I was unable to focus on close objects.

I couldn't even sort through the mail on the table to see if anything came with my name on it.

So I took this photo. I zoomed out, relied heavily on the camera's auto-focus, and hoped for the best. I could hardly see what settings I had, and I couldn't review the photo on the screen.

The result? Blah. Blah. Blah.

So I cropped, adjusted levels, added contrast, adjusted curves... and finished with the version you see above.

Better, but it still isn't my favorite by far.

Oh well!

Camera: Canon 40D 1/125s, f/5.6 at ISO 320 at about 5:00 p.m.

Monday, November 17, 2008

247/365 Happy birthday, Chase!

My little brother will be 22 tomorrow. I can't believe that.

The look on his face in this picture -- funny, a little mischievous -- is so familiar. If you flip back through 22 years of photo albums, you'll see pretty much the same look at each of his birthdays.

It makes me smile. It also makes me want to watch my back and take inventory of my toys, because one of them may have disappeared if he looks like this.

This year, Chase wanted tools and fun kitchen gadgets, so I got him a hand mixer. It's probably the opposite of what you'd expect a 22-year-old male to want, but he loved it.

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

Sunday, November 16, 2008

246/365 Another year older

I went out with some of my girlfriends last night to celebrate Erica's birthday. We went to the Adobo Grill in downtown Indy, a fairly new restaurant on the scene.
Cool atmosphere. The restaurant was setting up for some Saturday night salsa dancing as we were leaving, which I would have liked to have stayed for, but as the only dancer in the group, I was easily outnumbered.

Erica seemed to really enjoy the celebration. I hope it counts high on her list of fun birthdays.

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD1000 on night portrait setting with flash at -1.25 stops.

245/365 Dog treat ingenuity

Buster gets a glucosamine dog treat twice a day in this funny little red rubber toy. This Kong, as it's called, is pretty indestructible and he loves it.

He gets a treat in the morning when Dad gets up (and if Dad is taking too long in bed, Buster's amazing inner clock drives him to go remind Dad with a gentle whine). He gets his second treat after dinner, from me. As soon as he's finished his dinner, he trots over to me, opens up his big brown puppy eyes, and implores me (gently at first, then more insistent), that it's tiiiiiiiiiiime.

The treat gets stuffed down into the Kong through the larger end. The rings hold it in place, meaning he has to get creative and focus to get the treat out. Sometimes, if the treat is stuck especially well, Buster will hop up on a chair and toss the Kong off in order to shake the treat loose.


Camera: Canon 40D with external E-TTL flash, 1/250s, f/4.5 at ISO 100, flash bounced off the ceiling.

Friday, November 14, 2008

244/365 The company or the eggs?

Lately I've been having scrambled eggs and an English muffin for breakfast.

At first, the scent of the eggs and sound of me cooking roused Buster from his warm, cozy bed. He'd stumble into the kitchen, squinting a little under the fluorescent light, fur on one side of his head smooshed in.

I'd scrape off what was left on the skillet when I was done cooking, and he'd eagerly wag his tail next to his bowl to wait for just a few crumbs.

But in the last couple weeks, he's stopped getting up.

Is it because I don't fix them the way he prefers? (Doubt it, he's not picky about things like eggs, broccoli, cheese...) Is it because he's too comfortable in bed? Is it because I hardly give him any at all, making it not really worth it to get up? (Does he really reason like that?) Is it because he's so asleep he doesn't hear me or smell breakfast?

It makes me curious, whatever the reason actually is. I liked getting to say hello to him so early, even if his motivations were related to food and not my company.

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

Thursday, November 13, 2008

243/365 Welcome to the family

We have a new member of the family!

Meet the horse currently known as Destiny (we're considering changing her name). She's a black Paint with white on her face and two back feet. She's tall -- 16 hands -- and muscular.

Also, her left eye is brown and her right eye is light blue. You can kind of see it in this photo. (I will definitely be getting more photos of that feature.)

We got her after Shep rebelled on a trail with Chase in September. He and Mom took Shep and Oprah, and throughout the trip, Shep's resistance kept escalating. She even reared up while going down a hill, and that can be incredibly dangerous.

For that reason, we've retired Shep from trail rides. Rather than part with her, though (too hard to do), she'll remain a ride-around-the-field horse, and we started looking for a third. This one came through a reference from Tina just last week. She has a fantastic, easy-going, gentle temperament and has been ridden on trails before (even without this training), so she should be perfect.

So now Shep and Oprah get to welcome her into the family. I'm interested to see if Shep maintains her dominant status or if Destiny will challenge her for it.

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/60s, f/4.5 at ISO 1600 indoors with halogen lighting.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

242/365 Tacos

I'm always on a search for the best Mexican restaurant in town.

This started years and years ago, when my extended family used to meet for lunch every Sunday. Then our beloved restaurant closed due to exorbitant rent, and the search for a replacement began.

Luckily, the owner had a second restaurant in Broad Ripple, so we could travel the extra distance if we really had a craving for enchiladas, taquitos, chimichangas, quesadillas, or just amazing chips and salsa. But we still craved a closer location.

Last week Mom and I found a great option in Greencastle. My other favorite not-quite-Mexican-but-close place is Chipotle.

We made tacos at home for dinner last night, which we haven't fixed in a long time and were very good.

Even good enough to photograph.

Camera: Canon 40D 1/250s, f/4.5 at ISO 100 with external E-TTL flash bounced off the ceiling.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

241/365 Stained glass

This stained glass caught my eye when I noticed the light reflecting off the silvery solder.

It's a piece that Chase made when he was still in high school. He used a drawing of Mom's for inspiration, and he fashioned this beautiful piece of reds and greens that now hangs in our living room window.

It hangs over my favorite reading chair, and when the sun is right spot in the southern sky, the glass creates a neat shadow on the floor.

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

Monday, November 10, 2008

240/365 Sneak preview for the holidays

Forgive me, I'm going to brag about my fabulous mom in this post.

Beginning with an unveiling ceremony on Friday, November 28, the Indiana State Museum will house a 92-county ornament tree.

The tree will feature an ornament made by an artist from each of the 92 counties, made with the intention of representing each unique area.

And my mom was chosen to design the ornament representing Hendricks County.

I'm more than a little proud. (I promise I'll get photos of the event and make that a future post.)

In the meantime, you get a sneak preview of her ornament. She finished it on Sunday evening and mailed it -- early -- to the Museum.

It's two-sided, created using fabric, crystals and tulle netting. The front side is a winter landscape scene, common to Hendricks County.
The back is a pineapple quilt block, which is a traditional symbol of welcome.
I especially love the landscape scene, particularly the snow-covered pine trees on the left side. Dad and Chase love the birch trees on the right.

When the holidays are over, the ornament will become a permanent part of the Museum.

It's beautiful. I can't wait to see it hanging on the tree.

Camera: Canon 40D with external E-TTL flash, 1/250s, f/5.6 at ISO 100 under fluorescent lighting, with the flash bounced off the ceiling.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

239/365 Seasonal switch

It's that time of year.

Time to pull out the bins of sweaters and stow away spring and summer skirts.


I'm not terribly excited about this, which is evidenced by the fact that last night I stowed away an entire tub of light skirts and only retrieved two that are appropriate for cold weather.

Obviously, I have a severe shortage that needs to be immediately remedied.

Now THAT sounds exciting.

Camera: Canon 40D with external E-TTL flash, 1/250, f/5.6 at ISO 100. Flash bounced off the ceiling.

238/365 Repeating patterns

Banana seems to be one of those flavors that always overwhelms whatever it's paired with.

Do you agree?

For that reason, it's not my favorite fruit. I usually only reach for a banana if I'm starving on a deserted island or it sneaks into my smoothie.

Nevertheless, they are interesting and fun photographic subjects. For one, by growing in bunches, bananas give you an automatic repeating pattern. Secondly, since they have defined lines -- almost edges or corners -- the light that hits them on one side drops into shadow quickly on the other.

Camera: Canon 40D 1/60s, f/2.8 at ISO 800 under fluorescent lighting.

Friday, November 7, 2008

237/365 Rayon thread

Mom has a drawer of thread that sucks me in whenever I open it.

It's filled with shiny rayon thread of every color of the rainbow. For this photo, I just picked out a selection of five that mimic fall foliage.

I don't think there's a single color in that drawer that I don't like. I'd love to see a project made only out of this thread. It's elegant, vibrant, eye-catching... beautiful.

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

Thursday, November 6, 2008

236/365 At the car wash

I still feel like a kid when I go to the car wash, especially those that have the sweeping and spinning cloths that brush the car. They're definitely more exciting than the no-touch washes that just spray streams of water.

We had a trusty Jeep Cherokee that leaked in multiple crevices when I was a kid. Chase and I knew the routine:
1. Grab napkins or a complimentary paper towel for each hand.
2. Press into window corners.
3. Give the go-ahead to proceed into the wash.
4. Watch for rogue water trails not covered by two hands. Squeal if overwhelmed.
5. Exit the wash.
6. Dry inside window sills, laugh about the experience, ask, "Can we do it again?"

We were easily amused kids.

Car washes aren't quite that exciting anymore, but I still get a kick out of it.

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD1000

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

235/365 October Glory in November

The end of Daylight Savings Time is killing me.

Sure, it's nice to not drive to work in the dark, but the sun has set by the time I get home, meaning my options for outdoor photography after work have drastically changed.

So I'll have to get creative.

Last night, I rushed home in hopes of beating the sunset to photograph this tree. When I got home, I ran inside, grabbed my tripod, camera, and hotshoe flash, and raced out to the backyard.

I didn't make it in time to catch the sun shining on the tree, but it was still worth a try. I'm hoping its leaves won't have fallen by this weekend so I can try again. I played with lighting it with a flashlight and by hand-holding my flash, but neither method gave an accurate representation of the amazing color.

This is an October Glory maple tree. Dad commented one day last weekend that its red is so intense it looks like it's glowing. It's absolutely gorgeous, especially since its color doesn't peak until after nearly every other tree has shed its foliage.

Just three weeks ago I photographed its first transforming leaf. We have other red maples planted around the house, but this one is always particularly full and beautiful.

Camera: Canon 40D 1s, f/11 at ISO 200 at about 5:45 p.m.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

234/365 Star trails

April 2008 was the last time I did a night sky photo, and I haven't made any of these photos with my 40D. Last night I set up my camera and ran back and forth from the camera outside to Dancing with the Stars inside.

I must say, the 40D quality is vastly superior to the Rebel! The results are crisper and I'm not combating hot pixels.

As I do more of these, I want to concentrate on varying my foreground subjects. I did that here by placing tree branches in the frame, instead of just anchoring the bottom with a more landscape-type scene.

Photographing star trails, and seeing how much the earth revolves in just a matter of minutes, makes me feel very small. It makes me think about how much is out there in the universe, and how we're only on this little speck of a planet in comparison.


Camera: Canon 40D, shutter speed 17.25 minutes, f/11 at ISO 100 between 7:45 and 8:15 p.m.

Monday, November 3, 2008

233/365 A new Junior Miss

After a long week, we finally named a new Junior Miss for my high school on Sunday afternoon.

No one substantially froze at the microphone, fell on stage, or made a complete fool of themselves (thank goodness), and it was absolutely a success.
The lucky winner left with six scholarships and is the third girl in her family to win the title (what's in the water over there?).

She'll go on to compete at the state level in February, where she'll spend a week in Frankfort being chauffeured from place to place, shaking hands, smiling for photos, and learning yet another fitness routine.

My roommate during my freshman year at college was a girl I met at the state Junior Miss program. We didn't really know each other, but we knew enough to believe that the other was tolerably normal and had to be a better option than rooming with a stranger (it ended up working out very well). If I remember correctly, six of the 29 girls who were contestants in the state program ended up attending Butler, so we already had a group of familiar faces when we started the school year.

I hope our new winner had (and has) as much fun as I did. It was definitely one of the most significant experiences of my high school career. It's for that reason that I continue to volunteer with the program each year.

I love it!

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/60s, f/4.5 at ISO 1600.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

232/265 Early voting

After standing in line for nearly two hours today, I submitted my vote and did my civic duty three days early.

As you can see from this photo, I wasn't the only person who had the idea. In addition to this line, another formed on the other side of the building and was just as long.

I decided to vote early because last night, before dinner, I realized that if I wanted to vote on Tuesday, I was going to need to get to the polling place at 6:00 a.m. One of my girlfriends sent an email yesterday that contained the hours and locations for early voting around central Indiana (thanks, Kristina!), and that also nudged me to go today.

I expected that I wouldn't be the only person there, but I was completely unprepared for a line this long. I had to park in the grass in the ditch because all parking spaces were occupied. Surprisingly, no one in line (within my earshot) was complaining about the time. A lot of people had coffees in hand, several read books while they stood, many caught up on email on their Blackberries and iPhones, and I listened to podcasts on my iPod.

I'm positive that everyone's good mood could also be partially attributed to the gorgeous weather. If we had been standing for two hours in freezing temperatures instead of 65 degrees, I'm sure it would have been a different story.

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD1000 at about 11:30 a.m.

231/365 Happy Halloween

For the first time, we were invited to wear costumes to work on Halloween. I wasn't sure how many people would actually dress up, but a few people really got into it.

Exhibit A, Jim:
He wasn't the only guy to come dressed like this -- do you think it's a little curious that two of our 30 employees chose to dress up as pimps?

We did a group photo late in the afternoon (my friend Mark shot this photo using my camera). In addition to the two pimps, we had a soccer player, scary old man, old woman in her nightgown with walker, '50s girl (me), Superfan (hilarious and dead-on), and a mailbox.
Melinda said she had been working on her mailbox all week.

One of my favorite costumes as a kid was the year I went as Carmen Sandiego. Though I loved that I could bundle up underneath the trench coat and fedora, the only downside was that no one knew at first glance who I was supposed to be. In other years I went as a witch, fairy, princess, mummy, mouse...

I still love playing dress up like this. It's one thing I miss about high school and college. We had a lot more excuses during that time to put together a crazy outfit and actually wear it.

Unfortunately, it's not quite as accepted in a professional office.

Happy Halloween!

Camera: Canon 40D, (first photo) 1/125s, f/5 at ISO 1600.

230/365 Final darkroom class

Thursday night marked my final night of darkroom class, meaning I have completed all of the courses toward my Photography Certificate! I'll now compile a portfolio that represents what I've learned in each class, the portfolio will be reviewed by a teacher, and I'll be done.

My knowledge of photography, including everything from how to use the camera to what makes a good and better photo, has improved immensely since I've started taking these classes. As I was going back through old negatives, trying to find some I wanted to use in the darkroom, I had trouble choosing any because I can see now how I could greatly improve on everything.

Some people can pick up a book and learn something new simply by reading. I can do that to an extent, but I know that I learn much faster when I can learn from a person and ask questions. (For that reason, I rarely read book assignments in college, and I rarely skipped class.)

I really enjoyed my darkroom class because it was all hands-on. I loved seeing the exposure magically appear on the page while submerged in developer, and I loved coming home with hard-copy evidence of what I'd learned that night. I didn't love it enough to invest in building my own darkroom, though, so I sold the rest of my paper to a classmate.

The photo above is at the same park where I've been stopping before class each week. The leaves are now beginning to fall, but the sunlight through these trees was incredibly eye-catching.

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD1000 at about 5:45 p.m.

229/365 Mock interviews

A few years ago, we started doing mock interviews with the Junior Miss contestants at Wednesday night's practice. I think it's a great idea because the two Junior Miss interviews I did (local and state) were the toughest I've ever been through.

They quiz the girls on politics, current events, reasons behind their application answers, and other unexpected topics that really test their ability to coherently answer a question under pressure.

The real interview is held the morning of the program. It lasts about 10-15 minutes, and more than once, a contestant has come out of the room in tears because she's afraid she completely made a fool of herself.

For that reason, even if the mock interviews are more light-hearted, I think it's good preparation.

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/125s, f/5.6 at ISO 1600 in fluorescent lighting.