Saturday, February 28, 2009

343/365 A night with the girls

My favorite times with friends are those when we can just relax, hang out, and chat. If we can do that without spending much or any money, even better.

I did just that on Friday evening. A couple girlfriends and I heated up some leftover or frozen food, watched a good 80s movie, and (defining the very meaning of the phrase) just hung out.

We watched Girls Just Want to Have Fun, a funny movie made in 1984 that played a role in kicking off both Sarah Jessica Parker's and Helen Hunt's careers.

It made me glad we're past the teased, permed, and big hair stages of fashion!

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD1000

342/365 Welcoming baby

On Thursday evening, I went to my first work-related outside-work social gathering, which happened to be a baby shower.

As baby showers go, it was very low-key and relaxed, just a dinner for the women of the office. We ate at Bravo, an Italian restaurant with a couple locations around Indianapolis.

I enjoyed getting to hang out with these women outside of work. I feel like it's taking me a while to really start making some friends (not that everyone hasn't been wonderfully friendly), so this was a great opportunity to get to know them better.

I took my camera (of course!), but really struggled with getting the kind of photos I wanted. The reason? It was unbelievably dark in the room. And I don't use flash with people if I can help it.

Those two things equal difficulty.

This photo was taken with a very high ISO and no flash. When I got some photos of the mother-to-be, I used flash just to ensure she'd have some that turned out okay.

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/50s, f/3.5 at ISO 1600

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

341/365 A blast from the past

As a kid, I was a devoted fan of all shows on PBS. Mr. Rogers, Sesame Street, Reading Rainbow... And even now, I'm reminded of things I saw on those shows.

Like the episode of Mr. Rogers where he showed a video of how crayons are made. I found the video online, which is wrongly attributed to Sesame Street, but is so cool you have to see it.

That video has stayed with me for decades (well, these crayons have, too). I think of it every time I see crayons or smell that distinctive waxy scent.

Oh, to be a kid again and color all the time...

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

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

340/365 Board-game delight

I love playing board games, and I don't get to do it as often as I'd like.

Scrabble? Check. And even better that this Scrabble set is my mom's, and she got it when she was in high school. Trivial Pursuit? Love it, especially if it's a newer edition that doesn't make my age a disadvantage. Then there's Battleship, Monopoly, Trouble...

My newest discovery is Blokus. I'd never played before, until a very fun lunch hour at work last week. If you've never played it, it looks a bit like Tetris on a board with multiple people. As a Tetris fan, I'm totally hooked. I even ordered it last weekend so that I'll have my own personal Blokus for many future games.

Board games are great ways to bring people together, have some fun, and get away from the TV or computer. Now if I could only figure out a way to play more often...

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

Monday, February 23, 2009

339/365 Flower or plant?

Flowers whose blooms appear to just be a leaf of a different color are rather interesting. Are they flowers? Leaves? Just plants?

This bromeliad, as well as the ones I saw at my eye surgery, is an example of that kind of flower/plant. The "bloom" seems to be just a colored collection of leaves.

Another good example is a poinsettia. Then there's the pineapple. Would you believe a pineapple is a bromeliad? Instead of producing this vibrant red "bloom," it sprouts prickly fruit instead.

It's kind of crazy, especially when you think that the point that differentiates them is a minuscule gene.

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

Sunday, February 22, 2009

338/365 Downtown Indianapolis

Going to the theatre to see a play or musical has always been one of my favorite things to do.

When I graduated from college (and therefore started making my own money), Mom and I started getting season tickets to the Indianapolis Repertory Theatre (IRT). The IRT mainly produces plays, not musicals.

With our ticket package, we see a play about once a month or once every other month. It's been great fun, and we've enjoyed getting into downtown Indianapolis on Sunday afternoons for the shows.

Next year we're thinking of putting our ticket money into a different avenue, maybe a few Broadway shows that tour through town (always our favorite) or other kinds of performances.

We'll see what the upcoming schedules have in store.

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD1000 at about 1:30 p.m.

337/365 Serged to perfection

The beneath-the-surface workings of a serger are unbelievably intricate.

Not only does it weave together multiple threads -- anywhere from three to eight, it trims off the fabric at the edge of the seam in one smooth motion.

That is not a blade I'd want to get my finger caught in. (Not that there's a blade that I would like to get my finger caught in.)

Mom, of course, being the seamstress that she is, has a serger and uses it prolifically. Someday I'll probably take up sewing and get one of my own (not yet, but I'm sure the lure of making my own clothes will snag me at some point), but in the meantime, I enjoy watching her work at hers.

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens and 430EX Speedlite, 1/125s, f/2.8 at ISO 250.

336/365 See seashells

One of my favorite things to do on vacations to beach destinations is comb the sand for good seashells.

It started when I was a kid, when my family had an RV. Mom and I got up one morning shortly after dawn to get to the beach before other searchers and before the tide swept the shells back into the sea.

Ever since then, I've loved it.

On my last trip to Florida, with my girlfriends a couple of years ago, my one request for the week was that we get up early one day to go to the beach to do this very thing.

They were incredibly obliging, getting up with me at 5:30, just to go to the beach and snooze wrapped up in a towel.

Unfortunately, while we had fun that morning and got some great sunrise photos (the light at that time of day is beautiful, as well as flattering), the shell expedition was nearly worthless.

The irony came a few days later, when we took a day trip farther south and found a beach that had more shells than I had ever seen in my life -- at one o'clock in the afternoon.

The luck.

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens and 430EX Speedlite, 1/125s, f/2.8 at ISO 200.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

335/365 Rays of sunlight

When I see rays of sun beaming down through the clouds like this, it reminds me of The Lion King, specifically one scene during while they sing "The Circle of Life." Like this:

See what I mean? Because of this image, which I saw for the first time as a kid, I always think of this when I see distinct rays of sunlight. It makes me want to drive (or run) quickly into that little patch of sun and hold my arms up like I'm offering Simba to the world.

Or something like that, anyways.

(The Moment is at 3:34)

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

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

334/365 A hat in progress

One thing I've enjoyed about watching Mom learn how to knit is seeing how various projects come together.

Scarves are simple, but I had no idea that to make a sock, you'd start at the top, not the toe. Same thing for a hat -- start at the bottom, not the top, and gradually taper in to the rounded crest.

Because of the way you do round objects like this, I saw this interesting pattern sitting next to the couch last night. It's a partially-done hat, and you're seeing the inside, the back sides of the cable knit.

I like the even, repeating pattern. That's exactly what caught my eye.

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens and 430EX speedlite, 1/125s, f/2.8 at ISO 500

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

333/365 More than one way to eat an M&M

I admit I'm quirky.

And one thing I love to do -- and I don't get to do it very often -- is eat my M&Ms like this. Poured on a table, divided by color, and lined up like an abacus.

I put them in order by which color has the most M&Ms in it. Then I eat them one at a time, starting with the color that has the most. The goal is to get them to all even up, so that each color has exactly the same number of M&Ms.

It's fun! It may not sound like it (I'm easily amused), but I find it fun.

But like I said, I don't do it very often. Instead I find myself just eating them one by one out of the cup or bag, eating whichever color touches my fingers.

And that's okay, too. But it's a little boring.

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens and 430EX speedlite, 1/125s, f/2.8 at ISO 500

Monday, February 16, 2009

332/365 Daffodils

I migrated up the stem of my previous subject for this photo, which happens to be the more-photographed end.

Yes, I'm still visually flower-hungry. I'm going to get every last bit of subject matter out of this basket that I can! I'll eventually have to step back outside into the blah brown February.

This daffodil makes me happy for now.

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

Sunday, February 15, 2009

331/365 Close-up on an exotic location

This photo reminds me of a scene you might see in Fern Gully. Remember that movie? It wasn't one of the kids' animated films that I watched dozens of times, but I recall enough about the rain forest scenes that this reminds me of that.

I haven't trekked off to a faraway, magical rain forest, though. This is actually just the base of some daffodils in the same planter that contains the pussy willow from the previous post.

It's a fun, exotic shot, though. I like that it stirs my imagination.

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens and 430EX speedlite, 1/250s, f/2.8 at ISO 400

330/365 Flower basket accents

Spring has arrived early on the kitchen table. It's full of beautiful flower baskets, and one contains a few branches of pussy willow as an accent.

The way the furry buds grow, or what are technically called "catkins" (interesting), remind me a little of peanuts inside their reddish-brown seed coats. I know it's a stretch, but you can see the resemblance on the top catkin in this photo.

The rest of it bears no resemblance to a peanut, and just stands alone as a fun spring plant.

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens and external E-TTL flash, 1/125s, f/5.6 at ISO 400

329/365 Pink calla lilies

Before Wednesday, I had no idea that pink calla lilies existed. And wow! They're absolutely beautiful!

I know traditional white calla lilies are a huge trend in weddings right now, and while they are beautiful, they don't strike me in any particular way. But then my mom received a pot of pink mini calla lilies last week, and they completely bowled me over.

Part of it is probably due to the fact that my photographer sensibilities have been dying for flowers lately. I'm so tired of brown brown brown brown, everything dead and brown. I'm ready for flowers of all shapes, colors, sizes... And bright pink holds a special place in my heart anyways.

So these lilies were a breath of visual fresh air. I couldn't resist getting dozens of photos of them.

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens and external E-TTL flash, 1/250s, f/2.8 at ISO 200

Thursday, February 12, 2009

328/365 Unfortunate storm damage

This is what happens when you mix soft ground with 50 mph winds.

Oops. Bummer.

I like this fence, though it seems superfluous. It only runs along one side of this property, and it's just decorative -- it doesn't actually contain any animals. The other sides are fenced using simple wire farm fence.

Pretty white (when it's straight), but kind of odd. In the summertime, an appropriate name for this property is the "dandelion farmer."

You can probably guess why. Acres of grass enclosed by one side of beautiful white fence becomes choked with dandelions.

I don't envy them for either the dandelion fight or the ruined white fence.

But I do appreciate the interesting photo opportunity.

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

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

327/365 A February deluge

I've heard that one inch of rain equates to ten inches of snow.

If we'd had temperatures in the 20s instead of 50s on Wednesday, we would be buried under 40+ inches of snow today.

But instead we got 4+ inches of rain and are now dealing with standing water and washed-out roads. Talk about a miserable day!

The clouds broke for about an hour in the afternoon, during which the sun shone brightly before being obstructed yet again by rain clouds. I stepped out on the deck to get this shot of the dark clouds moving in.

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/250s, f/8 at ISO 200 at about 4:00 p.m.

326/365 Sweetness in heart form

This candy is one of my favorite indulgences at this time of year. Sweethearts. Yum.

I haven't always enjoyed them; Mom got me started a few years ago. And even though Necco makes the same product available 365 days a year in wafer form, those never even tempt me.

But put it in the shape of a heart, write cute sayings on the front, package it in pink, and I'm a sucker.

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens and external E-TTL flash, 1/125s, f/2.8 at ISO 200.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

325/365 A stretch of the imagination

If I stretched my imagination, I could pretend that these are palm trees blowing in the Florida breeze... when actually, they're (dead) ornamental grasses blowing in the Indiana breeze.

We are having a brief burst of more Florida-like weather this week, though, which is very odd. I'd love for it to stick around, but it's rough knowing that there's no chance it will.

I do enjoy a good stretch of the imagination, though.

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

Monday, February 9, 2009

324/365 Scavenging for food

It may be 60 degrees in Indiana right now, but the birds and other animals are still having to scavenge for food.

We keep our bird feeders stocked and really enjoy seeing the various birds that stop by for a meal.

I stood outside in the driveway behind my car, and leaning against the basketball goal, to get close enough to get a good shot of some visitors. A zoom lens would be a nice treat, but until then, I'll have to rely on sheer stealth and patience.

That's a much more pleasant task when the temperature is above 50.

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/250s, f/5.6 at ISO 200 at about 5:00 p.m.

323/365 Feeling oh-so cool

I've jumped on the bandwagon. I now have an iPhone.

Of course there's a (sizable) part of me that just really wanted one, but I've also found that it would be very useful for work. It's quite a step up from my four-year-old phone that came free with the cell contract.

The agency I work at is a Mac-based office, so all applicable software syncs perfectly with the iPhone.

Plus everyone has one. It's like wanting to be one of the cool kids at school again. I just hope that now they don't move on to a new fangled pair of sneakers and leave me in the dust again.

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens, 1/125s, f/2.8 at ISO 1000

Sunday, February 8, 2009

322/365 Chocolate obsession

It's that time of year again.

Yep, every store, every office, every commercial is overrun with pink, red, white... and let's not forget: chocolate.

I can't say I'm complaining. I do enjoy chocolate.

But I also enjoyed seeing He's Just Not That Into You, a movie that conveniently came out a week before Valentine's Day.

Gotta love that love/hate relationship.

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD1000

321/365 Drifting snow

Drifting snow may be a road hazard, but it sure is beautiful.

I caught this scene on my way home from work on Thursday. The snow was blowing in continual waves across the road.

If you're driving through this and watch it too closely, it's disorienting to be driving in one direction while the road looks like it's moving in another.

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

Thursday, February 5, 2009

320/365 Winter tomatoes

I haven't eaten these yet, but boy oh boy am I hoping they're tasty. I can only expect so much from tomatoes in February, but I sure am going to give it a try.

I've noticed that even though the tomato salmonella scare has passed, suppliers are still providing tomatoes on the vine, rather than solo without their siblings.

Now, with peanut butter taking the same route, I wonder if we'll start seeing peanuts still crusted with dirt? I suppose a few more minerals never hurt us.

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

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

319/365 Trying to eat this and not that

I'm paying more and more attention to food labels lately.

I owe it to the Biggest Loser, Dr. Oz, multiple feature stories about Eat This, Not That, and a general drive to be a more conscientious eater.

One of the things that I've just started doing in the last week is replacing orange Tang with Celestial Seasoning's Mandarin Orange Spice herbal tea. I've always loved a cup of hot Tang every once in a while, but I discovered this orange tea in a meeting last week and was surprised at how good it tasted as a substitute.

The positives of herbal tea versus Tang, which has quite a bit of sugar (which is why it tastes so good) in addition to lots of odd ingredients, are pretty numerous.

So I have yet another tea that I like from Celestial Seasonings. Who'd have guessed?

Camera: Canon 40D with external E-TTL flash, 1/125s, f/4.5 at ISO 100.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

318/365 Sunset over snowy fields

What I like about this picture is if I didn't tell you that it is a sunset over snow-covered Midwest fields, it could look like a sunset over dark waters.

Unfortunately, it's not that exciting, which means I'm still in freezing-cold Indiana, not lounging on the beach.

A girl can dream.

The groundhog predicted six more weeks of winter on Monday, which isn't surprising when I look out the window at another small snow storm. Now that we've logged a substantial snowfall -- last week's 12 inches -- I'm ready for sandals, skirts, and 75-degree sunny days.

Just like every year.

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

Monday, February 2, 2009

317/365 Scholarship season

I'm on a scholarship selection committee this year, so over the weekend I read 25 bright and shining applications for this monstrous scholarship.

Two things were constantly in my mind as I read these applications:
1. Holy cow, these kids are amazing, and
2. Holy cow, these kids have way too much going on! When do they sleep?

It makes me feel positive about the future when I read about these future engineers, doctors, nurses, teachers, pharmacists, lawyers...

We'll be in good hands. If they can get 4.0+ GPAs, manage 200+ hours of community service, part-time jobs, athletics, and other activities, then there's no way they won't be amazing adults.

Look out, world.

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

Sunday, February 1, 2009

316/365 Crystalline fur

When I awakened on Saturday morning and glanced outside, I nearly leaped for joy. I've been waiting for freezing fog all winter, and we got it on Friday night.

Frost on its own is great, but freezing fog coats all the bare tree limbs in crystalline fur. Then when the sun hits it, the sparkling light is breathtakingly beautiful.

I hurried through breakfast, then bundled up and ran out into the 3-degree morning with my camera.

I could have been happy to just stand outside and take it all in had I not been trying to keep warm.

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/250s, f/5.6 at ISO 100.

315/365 Low pressure

I started watching this barometer when I was a kid, and my fascination with weather first started.

I tried to judge how severe a thunderstorm might be by the dropping barometric pressure.

If you're a person, like me, who gets headaches when low pressure weather fronts approach, it's also a good way to judge how severe a headache may be. A headache is a lot like a thunderstorm inside your head, so maybe I'm onto something!

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens and external E-TTL flash, 1/60s, f/2.8 at ISO 500.