Monday, September 28, 2009

189/365 Elizabeth Gilbert in Indy

I read Eat Pray Love a year or two ago and quickly became completely engrossed in it.

Elizabeth Gilbert wrote this memoir chronicling her year-long self-recovering journey around the world. She spent months in Italy, India, and Indonesia and afterward merged her experiences into this book.

I initially borrowed the book from the library, but I found as I was reading it that I had a strong urge to underline passages so I could come back to them later.

No, I didn't deface the library book. I finished it then went out and bought my own copy.

When my friend Beth told me Gilbert would be making a stop in Indianapolis, I immediately said, "Yes!" when she invited me to go hear her speak. That event was Monday night, at IUPUI. Gilbert spoke for an hour about her travel experiences to a packed room. I was thrilled to find that she's as clear and engaging in person as she is in print.

Once again, I wished I could stop her and underline passages of her thoughts.

Afterward she stayed to sign copies of her book, and Beth and I were lucky to be one of the first in line.
The icing on the cake? The whole event was free!

Now I think it's time to pull the book out and read it again. I just need a couple uninterrupted days, because I won't be able to put it down.

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD1000 indoors under fluorescent lighting

Sunday, September 27, 2009

188/365 Words as art

I've always loved applications of words as art. I think it ties to my enjoyment of both reading and writing.

Silver in the City is a great little store in Indianapolis, on Mass Ave, that sells an ever-changing unique selection of home and personal merchandise. A lot of it is hand-made by local artists. One thing I've been lusting over since early spring was a wall of scripted words made from twisted metal.

I finally got a chance to buy myself a script word in August. My order had to be custom made, so I received it a couple weeks ago, and I can't wait to hang it up.

I plan to make it part of a collage-type wall of decor that also includes a variety of my framed photos.

The word I chose for my wall: imagine.

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens, 1/60s, f/2.8 at ISO 640 under overhead incandescent lighting

187/365 Hanging on

How bugs hang onto smooth glass windows is one of those amazing minuscule feats of nature.

This dude (yep, dude) hung on for hours. Why? I don't know. There's no food in sight. Maybe he was having a narcissistic moment and was just checking out his reflection. Or perhaps he was lost on the wide flat wonder of the glass pane.

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens, 1/60s, f/2.8 at ISO 1000 looking up into the sky at about 6:30 p.m.

186/365 Just ring the bell

This little bell, like you find in a bed and breakfast or mom-and-pop retail store, was a Christmas present to me when I was a kid.

It was one of those office supplies that was just fun to have (and probably became very annoying very quickly). But it turned into a useful little gadget to have around when either Chase or I was sick on the couch: can't yell for help? Ring the bell!

I pulled it out this weekend, but this time, it was to make it available for Mom. She's not sick per se, but she's stuck on the couch after a horseback riding accident on Thursday.

She was riding Xena on Thursday afternoon when Xena tripped on some uneven ground, went down on her knees, and Mom's momentum carried her forward and off. She's okay, but she cracked her pelvis in two places and will be out of commission for 6 weeks or so. She's tough, so I expect she'll be getting around on crutches later this week.

I spent the weekend helping her get around, taking care of stuff around the house, cooking dinner, etc. I'll go back out this week in the evenings to help as much as I can.

Mom never did need to ring the bell, but it was standing by just in case.

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens, 1/60s, f/2.8 at ISO 640 under overhead fluorescent lighting

Thursday, September 24, 2009

185/365 Love is in the air

In my book, this kind of light painting never gets old.

It takes me back to being a kid, being a teenager, and, let's face it, being an adult playing with sparklers on the fourth of July. With a sparkler in your hand, who can resist writing their name -- or any other choice of words -- in the air?

I've never seen someone be able to do it.

This is like the indoor, year-round version. I got my inspiration from a blog post I read this week (though I cannot for the life of me find it again). Here's the setup:

I set up my camera on my tripod, set the shutter to eight seconds, and turned the self-timer to trigger after two seconds. I picked point near where I'd be standing in front of the camera, focused, then turned it to manual focus so it would stay put.

For the writing, I stepped about five feet in front of the camera, faced it, covered a flashlight with a pink scarf, and shone the light toward the camera.

For the duration of the exposure, I wrote in the air. I didn't try to write backwards. Instead, I used the magic of Lightroom to flip the photo horizontally once I got it ready for editing.

And voila! Fun! It almost looks like a neon sign.

I want to try a lot more light painting experiments like this indoors when the weather turns cold. The possibilities are endless.

Camera: Canon 40D, 8 seconds, f/3.5 at ISO 100

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

184/365 Before and after

On the first full day of fall [insert shock here], I came across this scene, and it looked to me like a before-and-after shot.

On the left? Summer.
On the right? Fall.

Yep, summer is gone. And as if Mother Nature wanted to put that in bold type, underlined, in italics, and in all caps, we've hardly seen the sun all week. It's like the dreariness I associate with November arrived overnight.

Maybe positive thinking is the way to go. I'll try thinking of hot apple cider. Red, orange and yellow leaves. Pumpkin pie. Sweet potatoes. No mosquitoes. Reading a book by a fire.

There, that helped!

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

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

183/365 Refracted light patterns

Light can behave in some beautiful ways.

I made this photo by shining a flashlight through a purple glass crystal. I laid the flashlight flat on the ground, clamped the crystal to hold it upright, and shone the light through onto two light green sheets of paper.

You can see the purple tint from the light, and I love the spectrum of refracted light through the prism.

I enjoy trying new ways to play with light that stretch beyond the obvious and often-taught methods.

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens, 1/60s, f/2.8 at ISO 1250 lit with a flashlight

182/365 Multitasking

When you're friends with teachers, it's easy to get roped into helping with crafty classroom prep work.

I watched the premiere of Dancing with the Stars on Monday night with two friends, one of whom is an elementary school teacher. She brought work home and asked for help during commercial breaks.

I didn't get a chance to ask how they'll be used, because we were so wrapped up in the show, but helping her involved punching holes in these sets of little laminated cards. Afterward, she was going to string them on binder rings to use in her classroom.

It brought back (positive) memories of making flash cards (which helped me study through college, too) and getting to do crafty activities on a more regular basis.

Coloring with crayons would have just been icing on the cake. Maybe next time.

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD1000 in low incandescent lighting

Sunday, September 20, 2009

181/365 Small cookies

When it comes to baking, cookies are a favorite of mine.

I like that they're made in individual serving sizes, making it easier for me to say, "I'll stick to three," whereas when it comes to cutting a slice of cake, it's very easy to slide the knife over and add an extra half-inch to the slice.

Not that I don't adore cake. I do. Very much.

I tend to make my cookies on the smaller end of the scale, too, with help from a small tablespoon-size scoop (from Pampered Chef). Smaller cookies mean you can eat a larger number. And you really can't eat just one.

I made a well-loved favorite on Sunday, chocolate peanut butter no-bakes. I like the speed with which they come together, and they're good for the times when you don't want to heat up your kitchen.

But I have to admit that I missed the smell of the cookies actually baking, because there's really nothing else like that.

Well, I suppose that just means I'll have to make something else!

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

180/365 Meet Roman

Meet Roman.

A regal name for a sweet dog who has been lovingly deemed the "anti-terrier" by his owners/parents/pack leaders.

Roman is the four-legged child of my aunt and uncle in Michigan, and I met Roman for the first time last weekend when they donated their treadmill to my young-start-up cause.

A Cairn Terrier, Roman was quiet, well behaved, and admirably stayed out of everyone's way as we were moving heavy objects from location to location. He preferred to observe the action from a few feet away.

I had my camera with me, so you know there's no way I could resist photographing him. When it came to capturing him in the sunshine, his dark fur, nose, and eyes presented a completely opposite situation than when I photograph Buster in the same light. You see why, yes?

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

179/365 Driving to Michigan

Dad and I packed our overnight bags and drove to Michigan on Friday night to pick up my new (used) treadmill.

As our conversation evolved, we started talking about traveling, and we realized that he has visited every single state in the U.S. I'm impressed!

Much of that came by way of a job that required a lot of travel, but he's been to many of those states purely for enjoyment. He's also set foot in about half of Canada's provinces.

I'd say that visiting every state is on my list of things I want to do in my lifetime. So far I've made it to 21 states, one Canadian province, and two countries in Europe. I have a long way to go!

Camera: Canon 40D, .8 seconds, f/3.5 at ISO 800 at about 9:30 p.m.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

178/365 Cream-filled decadence

Donuts. Classic stereotypical cop food, but with a secondary role as a stereotypical office treat.

And boy have they been appearing often in the lunch room at my office. And, shortly thereafter, disappearing.

My tolerance for sweets is shamefully low. If I go overboard, I feel like my tonsils have seized up and are elbowing me, telling me to stop. Literally, the sides of my throat hurt.

Because of this, my self-control in avoiding the donuts is usually pretty good. If I indulge, nine times out of 10 it's just with a simple glazed donut (which is tasty, but not exciting).

The donuts in this picture? They make me think of my brother, who can take in an amazing quantity of sweets without breaking a sweat. And these decadent, powdered-sugared, cream-filled donuts are a favorite of his.

They do look tasty, but I can't even handle a few bites of one. This selection was part of what has become a Thursday routine at the office: a box of donuts appears on the table in the lunchroom, word gets around, and they disappear.

I happened to pass by soon after their appearance, so the perfect peaks of cream lined up in the box caught my eye and beckoned my camera.

But I left them alone for people who can handle the decadence.

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD1000 under fluorescent overhead lighting

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

177/365 Seen in the neighborhood

I took a walk through the neighborhood on Wednesday evening, enjoying the warm (and dry) September weather. Fall is definitely creeping up on us. In the tree above, I noticed one bright yellow patch of leaves starting to turn.

Farther down the road, I came across this scene and had to laugh:

Usually, when you see something like this -- a large TV sitting at the end of a driveway -- there's a sign on it that says "FREE."

But not this one. No sign to be seen, front, back, or on either side. It's either free, trash, or a new twist on an outdoor living room.

Or maybe it's a low-budget drive-in?

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

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

176/365 Getting back that motivation

I decided last weekend that I need to invest in a treadmill.

I started walking/jogging/running on a treadmill while I was in junior high or high school. I'd come home from school, have a snack, then hop on the machine and watch (are you ready for it?) Happy Days.

Yep, that's right.

Over the years, the television show selection has changed and evolved, a list which to this point has included Smallville, Friends, Sex and the City, Gilmore Girls, and trial episodes of and The Sopranos and Big Love, to name a few.

That afternoon/evening workout has become a treasured part of my day. If work has been tough, that 30-60 minutes of escape accompanied by a workout can soften many frayed emotions. If it's been a fantastic day, getting my heart rate up and having a good laugh at the expense of Chandler or Carrie is icing on the cake.

For the last two months, since moving, my access to that escape became limited. I tried working out at the gym while listening to podcasts. It's fine, but it feels more like a chore than an escape. And it's not motivating.

So this week I measured my space, rearranged my office, and I've made room for my own treadmill!

I have a list of TV shows on DVD that I'm just itching to check out.

Side note for clarification: If you were a little unsure of the subject of this photo, it's a tape measure!

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens, 1/60s, f/2.8 at ISO 1000 in the lighting from a single CFL bulb.

Monday, September 14, 2009

175/365 Blank slate

Last weekend, the parking lot at work was resurfaced and freshly striped.

I want nothing more than to grab some sidewalk chalk and go draw all over its perfectly black surface.

It's a blank slate. The only thing interrupting the flow of the smooth charcoal are the blinding white lines and fallen fruit from black walnut trees.

Chase and I always had sidewalk chalk on hand when we were kids. We drew hopscotch boards (obvious), dead-body outlines (of course), roadways for driving our Big Wheels and yellow pedal coupe, underwater scenes... But we rarely had a surface as pristine as this new parking lot seal.

Can I be a kid again, at least for a few hours?

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

174/365 Mum's the word

Mums are in abundance right now, with fall right around the corner. This yellow mum in my parents' yard is so vividly yellow in the sunshine that I really had to adjust my exposure to capture it properly.

Can it really be mid-September with me beginning to talk about fall? As is true nearly every year, I feel like this spring and summer totally passed me by.

I admit I'm enjoying some orchard-fresh apples already, and I'm looking forward to doing some fall clothes shopping!

Now if that doesn't get you excited, what else will?

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens, 1/1000s, f/2.8 at ISO 100 in direct sunlight at about 6:00 p.m.

173/365 Psychics and sushi

As a pretty steadfast rule, I don't care for seafood, neither cooked nor raw. So, with that in mind, I'd never been to a sushi restaurant before.

That changed on Saturday.

I spent an evening with my girlfriends, in celebration of two of their birthdays. We kicked off the evening by going to a "psychic fair," which entailed paying $5 for admission, then $10 for a 15-minute reading with a psychic.

I had my palm read, then she read tarot cards and told me the astrological meaning surrounding my birthday. I've had my palm read once before, in college for fun, so I was curious to see how this would differ. In many ways, the total reading was different -- but as a whole, it was curiously spot-on. (Cue the Twilight Zone music here.)

Our group's collective psychic readings provided great fodder for dinner conversation, which we enjoyed at a sushi restaurant in Broad Ripple. I avoided the sushi, sticking instead with crab rangoon (probably the one kind of seafood I can handle), vegetarian pot stickers, and rice.

The sushi was beautifully presented, though, and the photographer in me really enjoyed seeing it on the plates before everyone dug in.

I did step outside my comfort zone to try a bite of seaweed salad. It looked a little like a vivid green pile of fettuccine. The taste was fine, because I really could only taste the dressing, but the texture was a little odd. If you've never tried it, it's one of those foods that you chew and chew and chew and don't really get anywhere.

But I tried it! I'd call it a night of enjoyable firsts with good friends.

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD1000 indoors in low light

Sunday, September 13, 2009

172/365 Boys' night

Mom headed out of town for a trail ride with her horse friends for the weekend, so Dad and I kicked back, got Chipotle for dinner, and rented an action flick.

Bond. James Bond. Quantum of Solace.

Yes, we're a little behind. This movie has been out for nearly a year.

Surprisingly short, at only an hour and 40 minutes, it was nonetheless excellent. It's a movie I'd like to watch again, if only because the story was quite complicated. In those instances, I find watching the movie at least twice is recommended. The first time through, you're just trying to keep up. The second time through, you can focus on more of the details, characters, and subtle plot points.

It took me three times of watching The Matrix from start to finish before I loved it and really got it.

In my opinion, and I've seen quite a few from the repertoire, these two most recent Bond films are the best. I'm not a fan of the goofy double entendres and weak female archetypes that plague much of the franchise.

Bond is still getting around, but at least the women he's choosing lately have had more intelligence.

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens and 430EX Speedlite, 1/125s, f/2.8 at ISO 400

Thursday, September 10, 2009

171/365 Fun-house shadow

Long shadows near sunset remind me of fun-house mirrors. Call it the kid in me, but I can't help but laugh a little when my legs look 12 feet long.

I usually do my workouts after work but before dinner. On Thursday, though, I was just too hungry when I got home from work; I knew my energy would be zapped in no time and I wouldn't be able to finish a decent workout.

Instead, I ate early and took a walk through the neighborhood before the sun set. I took my camera with me, prepared for photo opportunities created in the lovely light, and this photo is the one that struck me most.

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

170/365 Eye spy

One of my rough goals for this year's Project 365 is to do more self-portraits. About halfway through the year, I haven't done many so far. Part of the reason is I need to mentally get past the resistance to do such a photo when my hair isn't behaving, I'm not wearing a favorite shirt, it's too late in the day, etc. etc. etc.

I know, it sounds pretty typical. Just get over it already, huh?

Well here's a little twist on a self-portrait, featuring just one part of me: my eye. I did this photo around 10:00 p.m., so what makeup was left at the end of the day was quite impressively hanging on.

Like much of my physical appearance, my eye color is neither exactly like my mom's nor exactly like my dad's, but very much a mix of the two. (I've often said that when you look at my brother and me, you can have no doubt that we're siblings or that we're the children of our parents. We're a definite blend of the two.) Dad's eyes are more green and on the lighter side, while Mom's are more hazel leaning toward brown.

I didn't realize until I looked at this photo, magnified many times, that I had so much yellow in my irises. And when I get hungry, they turn black.

(If you're familiar with the traits of sparkly vampires, you'll get the joke.)

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens and 430EX Speedlite, 1/125s, f/2.8 at ISO 400

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

169/365 Champion garden produce

My straggly little garden has produced its first ripe tomato!

This one tomato, featured here on July 24, took a full month and a half to ripen. If I'd been waiting on this for a meal, I'd have died of starvation by now.

But I'm proud that it made it. I almost felt wrong picking it, since it worked so hard to get to this point.

Now the other six tomatoes that are growing (a regular surplus!) should be ripe by Thanksgiving.

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/125s, f/4.5 at ISO 640 at about 6:45 p.m. in shade under overcast skies

Monday, September 7, 2009

168/365 Run, runners, run!

Part of my family's Old Fashioned Days tradition each year includes getting up first thing on Labor Day, grabbing a blanket and breakfast (or coffee), and sitting wrapped up on the front porch to watch the participants of the annual 10K run.

When you live far outside urban life, this is pretty much as exciting as front-porch sitting can get. The only thing rivaling it is a good thunderstorm.

It's a tough 10K route packed with hills. There are three or four killer hills near the end of the race, too, so finishing strong is a challenge. While we're sitting on the porch, we can hear any conversations, whose breathing seems to be labored, who drags their feet... And they can hear us when we cheer them on (especially the runners at the back).

This year, toward the back of the pack, we could hear a woman cheering on a fellow runner as they approached. When they crossed in front of the house, the man she was cheering on kept saying, "Look how far away that road is! It's so far!" But she kept telling him to focus on other things, look to the left and right, etc. Then when they turned around at the halfway point, she was singing when they passed us again.

I can only hope that he took this as encouraging distraction instead of a horrible annoyance.

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/125s, f/5.6 at ISO 250 at about 8:30 a.m.

167/365 Horseback riding at Old Fashioned Days

Labor Day weekend means two main things in my world: Sky Concert and Old Fashioned Days.

Sky Concert was canceled this year for the first time in decades due to the economy and disappearance of sponsors. I've been attending that fantastic fireworks display for as long as I can remember, so it was a little odd to not have it as part of my weekend schedule.

But Old Fashioned Days continued in all its glory, and for the second year in a row, Chase rode one of my family's horses in a brief riding demonstration, and he carried the American Flag before the horse pull.

This year he rode Oprah, who adjusted marvelously well to the excitement and flapping flag. And she's just one of the prettiest horses around, but I'm a tad biased.

Chase is a great horseman with loads of confidence, so I'm always a proud big sister while I watch him.

Three other men rode in the demonstration, including this guy, who rides a Clydesdale named Nikki. Part of his performance included removing her saddle, then getting a running leap to climb on and ride her bareback.

Getting on a horse with no saddle -- let alone one of this massive stature -- is no easy task. There are no handholds or edges for you to grab onto and pull yourself on. It's all in the momentum. He'd been practicing, and even then it took him two tries.

The weather was perfect, the crowd was friendly, and the horses behaved. You can't ask for much more than that.

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/125s, f/8 at ISO 100 and 160 at about 5:30 p.m.

166/365 Camera + Dog

Is it obvious that I love this little guy?

Just watching him go about his day warms my heart. Here, all he's doing is sitting in the yard, observing the action in the neighborhood, scanning for changes, but I just want to hug him. I love when he's sitting up tall, tail curled, ears perked, at attention.

I also love when he's sprawled out on the floor in a completely opposite state of mind. And just about every point in between.

It's not just me. Good luck finding a person who owns both a pet and a camera who doesn't feel compelled to capture just a little of the essence of their love for their buddy. Some do it better than others, but the feeling is still the same.

Want a couple good examples? Here are two of my favorite photographers, whose blogs are kept near the top of my Photography category in my Google Reader:

1. Cowbelly Pet Photographer, a woman in Seattle who actually makes her living photographing pets (what an awesome job!). She has her own dog, Fergie, and regularly turns her lens to her own furry friend. Her latest post is especially sweet, and this woman knows what she's doing. These aren't your average pet photos.

2. Jasmine Star, a photographer in California whose style really inspires me. She has a fluffy white dog of her own, named Polo, who makes appearances on her blog. He and Buster look like they could be long-lost cousins.

See, I'm not the only one!

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens, 1/125s, f/5.6 at ISO 250 in direct sunlight at about 7:00 p.m.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

165/365 Light painting experiment

As much as I enjoy photographing my favorite subjects, it's definitely fun -- and refreshing -- to step out and try something new. Experiment a little.

This week I was inspired by one of the photography blogs I check daily -- Digital Photography School. A contributor suggested a fun project in light painting.

The project was simple: hang a flashlight from the ceiling, turn it on in a dark room, place your camera directly underneath pointed upward, and send the flashlight swinging.

I have a lot of randomly placed, bare hooks in the ceiling at my house, so setting this up was a piece of cake. I used a pocket Maglite as my flashlight, whose beam is only about half an inch in diameter.

By lengthening the shutter speed, and letting the image be captured over a span of 20 seconds or more, and varying the length of the string suspending the flashlight, I got a different result each time.

Cool! These are my two favorites.

Camera: Canon 40D, 25 seconds and 62 seconds, f/22 at ISO 100

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

164/365 Deceiving peaches

Fresh peaches have to be one of my favorite kinds of fruit. But the window of opportunity for finding them when they're in their prime is pretty narrow.

I had a handful of really good peaches a week or so ago, but when I went back to the same grocery store and bought more, I was too late.

They look deceivingly good on the outside, but they're going bad from the inside out.

I hate when that happens!

Each one I've sliced has been overly soft in the middle, not wanting to separate from the pit, with even some rotting spots starting to radiate out from the core of the fruit. It's not an appetizing sight.

At least they looked nice enough for a day's photo.

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens and 430EX Speedlite, 1/125s, f/2.8 at ISO 400

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

163/365 Dry spaghetti

Pasta is my weakness.

It stems from being a picky eater as a child, unwillingable to eat out anywhere that didn't serve macaroni and cheese or plain spaghetti with the sauce on the side.

I was the odd little kid who loved pasta so much that when we made macaroni necklaces at school, I ate all the dry macaroni on the bus before I made it home. "Mom, you should see the necklace I made! Well, this string is the only thing left, but it was pretty!"

Thankfully I outgrew that phase, but I still can't resist pasta. I'd never make it on the Atkins diet.

I do still like crunching on dry pasta. I don't think I'll ever outgrow that.

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens and 430EX Speedlite, 1/125s, f/2.8 at ISO 400