Thursday, December 30, 2010

131/365 Outnumbered by sweet goodness

I had to laugh when I walked in the lunch room at work and saw this.

Finding a haul of sweets in the office at this time of year is a given. My willpower certainly gets a workout in the weeks before Christmas!

Finding a clementine on a plate with taffy and cupcakes? Now that's something you don't see every day. Kudos to the person who tried to inject some healthy food into the mix, but I think they were outnumbered!

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/100s, f/4 at ISO 640 under fluorescent lighting

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

130/365 Christmas service

I'm not a regular church-goer, but I go at Christmastime to be with Mom and to celebrate the season. Mom plays the piano for a couple small churches in her area, and this year they joined together and presented a community Christmas music program.

I love hearing a big adult choir sing. As much as I appreciate children's choirs, I always feel like they're really missing the lower tones you get when some adult men are part of the group.

There's something about hearing traditional Christmas carols in a small-town church that really makes it feel like the season has arrived!

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD1000 at ISO 800

Sunday, December 26, 2010

129/365 Playing squirrels

My yard is a playground for squirrels. While watching these two, I learned that the trees are close enough that they can jump from one to the next without touching the ground.

I started watching them through one window on the north side of my house. I grabbed my camera, waiting for them to chase each other back to my visible side of the tree, but they disappeared. It wasn't until I saw their shadows that I realized they had made it to a tree two away from where they were.

How cool would it be to have the trees be your playground like that? To not have to return to the ground unless you needed to, and to have the confidence to leap from one (small!) branch to the next.

They looked like they were having great fun, but I wished they'd hang out a little closer so I could photograph them some more!

Camera: Canon 40D with 70-300mm IS lens, 1/250s, f/8 at ISO 100 at about 12:00 p.m.

Friday, December 24, 2010

128/365 A little handmade Christmas gift

Merry Christmas Eve!

This day has always been one of my favorites. I actually like it more than Christmas Day. For me, Christmas Eve contains all of the excitement and anticipation. My family has always had fun traditions on Christmas Eve, including dinner together, opening stockings, and watching a good movie (which is usually a big action flick so the boys will be interested!). Christmas Day is great, but our traditions are so laid-back that after we've opened the gifts under the tree, the holiday is pretty much complete.

Call me a sucker for delayed gratification, but Christmas Eve is my favorite!

I love giving homemade gifts, so I pulled out my tools and made some earrings for a girlfriend this year. She's pregnant, expecting in the spring, so this is something that will fit, no matter when she wants to wear them!

And I had to make a pair for myself, too. Couldn't resist.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens and 430EX Speedlite, 1/100s, f/2.8 at ISO 500

Monday, December 20, 2010

127/365 Snowflakes on the window

I've been waiting for the perfect day to try photographing snowflakes. This day was far from perfect, but it at least gave me a chance to give it a try! I'm looking forward to another day and location to do it again.

This photo reminds me of being a kid and finding things around the house to look at through the lens of a microscope. I distinctly remember being amazed to see the difference between sugar and salt on that scale, since they look so similar at a normal distance. Human hair was another object that was always fun to see on a microscopic level.

I find that same feeling goes with looking through a telescope. The first time I saw the moons of Jupiter and the rings of Saturn with my own two eyes for the first time is something I'll never forget -- and those were sightings through a home telescope. I took astronomy during my freshman year of college, and we got to spend an evening gazing through the telescope on campus -- the largest in the state, and one of the largest in the world. Talk about mind-boggling! Seeing something with your own eyes that you've only read about in science books is pretty amazing.

Do you have a memory like this? Do you remember looking through a microscope for one of the first times, discovering an entire world under your nose? Or have you been amazed to see for yourself what in science books seemed so foreign?

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens, 1/100s, f/2.8 at ISO 500 at about 5:30 p.m.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

126/365 Koi in a frozen pond

This shot makes me think of those scenes in natural-disaster movies where people are trying to a) run from a thundering avalanche, b) escape the lava flow from an erupting volcano, or maybe c) gather a few last gulps of air before their car sinks under water.

Maybe I've watched one too many action movies?

I was photographing a pond when I happened to look down and see this school of vibrant koi near the surface of the unfrozen water. The color took me by complete surprise. (I think I actually said "oh!" audibly. Good thing no one was nearby!) I love finding reserves of bright color in the winter!

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/125s, f/8 at ISO 100 at about 12:45 p.m.

Monday, December 13, 2010

125/365 A blanket of snow at Butler University

You may recognize this scene from a post just a couple months ago. At that time, the trees were full of colorful foliage for fall.

It's the often-photographed pond and bell tower at Butler University, but now the trees are bare and it's draped in a blanket of snow. I love photos that show the same scene in different seasons. I was on campus to get tickets for the annual Christmas Rejoice concert, so I had to stop and get my photo of the day!

Being on campus at this time of year doesn't just give you a treat for the eyes; you get a treat for the ears, too. And his name is Dominick the Donkey.

[One word of warning before you hit play: this song will get stuck in your head.]

What the heck does this have to do with Butler? The gentlemen at the TKE house set speakers out on the front porch of the fraternity and play this song -- loudly -- over, and over. And over. And over. From Thanksgiving all the way up to Christmas break.

It drives you nuts, but over time it becomes a symbol of the holiday! Crazy but true. Now I remember it with fondness and have to roll my windows down when I drive by.

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/250s, f/8 at ISO 100 at about 12:30 p.m.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

124/365 Holiday cookie exchange

It's early December, which means it's time for one of my girlfriends' annual holiday cookie exchange party! Each year she invites a bunch of people, then those of us who can make it bring 1/2 dozen cookies for each person to take home, plus another dozen for everyone to sample at the party.

So you can understand how the number of attendees drastically affects your workload the day before!

This year it was a small crew, so I only had to make five dozen, which ended up being two batches of my recipe. I chose to do these fantastic peanut-butter cookies that amazingly don't call for any flour. I made them for a Symphony on the Prairie outing this past summer and they were a huge hit. Combine positive reviews with few ingredients and a simple recipe and you have a winner!

I highly recommend you give them a try if you're at all a fan of peanut butter. Or cookies. Here's the recipe, or you can find it at TheKitchn:

Sensational Peanut Butter Cookies
18 cookies

1 cup peanut butter (see note)
3/4 cup natural cane sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
additional sugar for rolling

Preheat oven to 375 degrees°F.

Mix all the ingredients up in a bowl. Roll walnut-sized pieces into balls and roll balls in the additional sugar. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and flatten slightly with a fork in a crisscross pattern. Bake for 10 minutes (you may need to lessen the time, depending on your peanut butter). Remove and let cool before removing from baking sheet.

Note: Peanut butter comes in all kinds of configurations and the kind you choose will influence your outcome. Some peanut butters are very sweet, some have been hydrogenated, some have a whole lot more in them than peanuts! Then there is the chunky versus smooth debate. If you choose a drier peanut butter, you may find that you need to add some oil to make the batter stick together.

Happy baking!

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens, 1/60s, f/2.8 at ISO 320 by a window at about 3:00 p.m.

Monday, December 6, 2010

123/365 First snowfall

We've had our first measurable snowfall of the season! If that doesn't wake you up and make you realize it's December, I don't know what will.

Early Saturday morning, as I was gathering ingredients to make five dozen cookies for a party the next day (more on that subject later), I got a call from my grandmother with a tip for this photo opportunity. She let me know that their holly bush in the front yard looked absolutely perfect with the light snow settling on top, and if I wanted to stop by, please do!

How could I pass that up?

So I ventured out, with my purple wellies, heavy coat, hat, gloves, and umbrella to shield my camera and lens. After a few chilly minutes, I came away with some shots that I'm very happy with. I'm thinking you may see this on a holiday card next year!

Thanks to Grandma for the tip!

Now excuse me while I go find some Christmas music to play...

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens, 1/100s, f/5.6 at ISO 100 under cloudy skies at about 12:00 p.m.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

122/365 Saying goodbye to fall

I'm pulling out my Christmas decorations this weekend, which means it's time to say goodbye to the gourds that have been gracing my bookcase for the last couple of months.

I got these from a couple of older women who were selling gobs of gourds at a roadside stand in their front yard. They had varieties of gourds that I've never seen or heard of, so I really had fun sorting through them and buying a bag full to take home with me.

The green and orange variety on the left always makes me remember getting them as a kid, because when they dried out, you could shake them and hear the seeds rattle inside.

These met a less musical end:  fodder for my garden's compost heap!

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

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Nine reasons why I love Google Reader

I manage the company blog at my day job, and this week was my turn to contribute a post! I shared it there, but I feel like it's worth sharing with you, too. Maybe you'll find yourself convinced to give it a try!

I love blogs. Actually, “love” should probably be said with capital letters and in bold italics. I have some dear favorites I’ve been following for years, and I find new ones to investigate nearly every week.

When you consider that most bloggers aim to update their content at least once a week, that kind of love adds up to a lot of time spent surfing the Internet to stay on top of the latest news and ideas! It’s the kind of love that requires a serious, long-term relationship that I’m not always ready to commit to. So how do I juggle it?

Google Reader.

Life before Google Reader was chaotic and inefficient. It involved countless open tabs in my browser and lots of clicking between sites. Blog surfing with the help of an RSS-feed reader like Google Reader is an entirely different ballgame. If you haven’t tried it – or if you’re just beginning to explore its benefits – here are nine reasons why you should.

[Side note: All of these reasons apply specifically to Google Reader, because it’s the one I’m familiar with. I would bet that many of these apply to any feed reader. Find one you like and run with it!]

1. Google Reader makes following multiple blogs easier. You’ll notice that the first five items on this list all pertain to increased efficiency, and I believe that’s the biggest benefit you’ll gain with a feed reader. Remember that love of blogs I mentioned earlier? I currently have 113 feed subscriptions in my Reader. (I admit it’s probably too many.) But that’s part of the beauty of Google Reader: it puts all those blogs at my fingertips in one location. They’re there when I’m ready to read their latest content.

2. Efficiency. There’s that word again. How is #2 different than #1? Using a feed reader enables me to read all blog posts in one – and only one – browser window. If I want to see more details on a specific post, I can simply click on the title and it will open that post in a new tab or window. Then I can read it on the actual blog itself.

3. Reader allows me to organize blogs into categories. Rather than having to sort through a long list of blogs, Google Reader has a collapsible folder system for better organization. For example, some of my folders are Photography, Health and Fitness, Blogging, Local, Green Environment, Cooking and Food… and so on.

4. Quickly see what blogs have new posts. New posts are noted with a bold title, and the number of new posts is shown in parentheses by the blog name and cumulatively in the folder name. When I see SightSalad (3), I know there are three new posts I haven’t seen yet. As I read them, Reader removes the bold emphasis. (Also cool: Did you just get back from a week-long vacation and know there’s no way you’re going to catch up with everything? Simply use Reader to mark a batch of posts as “read” to start fresh.)

5. Move to the next post without wearing out your scrolling finger. This is especially useful for blogs that have long posts and don’t use jump breaks. To get to the next post, click “next item” at the bottom of the screen or simply use your spacebar to jump ahead.

6. Want to share a post with someone? Email it to them directly! At the bottom of each post is a series of options, my favorite of which is “email.” Click that link and it brings up a window for you to compose a new message. You can customize the subject line, add a note for the recipient, and send it – all without leaving Reader. What makes this even better is the format your friend receives: the post itself -- with a link to the blog, the content, images, video, anything above the jump – is contained in the body of the email.

7. Search your blog subscriptions within Reader. We’re pretty familiar with Google search – so apply that to your feed subscriptions. In a box at the top of the page, you can search all your subscriptions, or by folder, or just one specific blog. For example, when I typed “cyber Monday” into my search box and left it to search all subscriptions, it returned results from the New York Times, Andy Beal’s Marketing Pilgrim, Mashable, FitSugar, Lifehacker, etc.

8. See trends in your own blog-reading behavior. I’m a bit of a nerd when it comes to stats. This feature shows you trends in your own content consumption, such as how many posts you’ve read or shared in the past 30 days. It may not be especially useful, but it sure is insightful!

9. Find more blogs. You may argue that I really don’t need to find any more blogs (isn’t 113 enough?), but the Recommendations feature in Reader is a great way to do just that. It combs the blogosphere and provides suggestions based on your interests.

The greatness of Google Reader doesn’t stop there. Now I encourage you to go forth to your favorite blogs, find the link to their RSS feeds, and start reading! And if you have a different feed reader that you love, tell me in the comments!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

121/365 A tour through the produce department

I love wandering through the produce department at the grocery store. One reason I love it is you sometimes stumble upon things like this -- and you discover what food looks like in its original state.

I, for one, didn't realize that whole horseradish looks like a femur dug up from an Egyptian crypt. Did you know that?

When I see things like this, I always have to wonder about the very first person who decided to try eating it. Were they desperate for food and thinking, "Well, I'm already going to die from starvation, so if this turns out to be poisonous, it will just speed up the process. Might as well give it a try!"? Why did they decide to try it?

I can easily understand the desire to try eating the more beautiful foods -- brightly colored berries, apples and oranges, tomatoes (though people used to think they weren't edible)... But then I see horseradish, kiwi, ginger, and even pineapple and coconuts, and I have to wonder.

One thing I'm sure of: the folks at St. Elmo's in downtown Indianapolis are glad that first person was brave enough to try eating horseradish! Their cocktail sauce wouldn't be the same without it.

What's another food that you have to be sure to not judge by its exterior?

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD1000 in fluorescent lighting

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

120/365 Tasty little rubies

You've probably noticed them. They're popping up at grocery stores all around us.

What are they? Pomegranates!

And until this year, I've never really noticed them. Completely ignored them, in fact, because I had no idea what to do with one.

Enter: Alton Brown.

With my long-standing no-cable status, I tend to be a little behind when it comes to discovering great shows. Years behind in some cases. So, I've just seen my first episodes of "Good Eats," his show on the Food Network. Half a dozen episodes in and I'm already enthralled!

One of these episodes focused entirely on pomegranates. How to select one, what to do with it, how to store it, and -- most importantly -- how to open the darn thing without ending up with a bloody mess all over the kitchen and yourself.

I went to the grocery store that very night to get one and try it myself! I can't remember ever having had fresh pomegranate before, and it was amazing! I added the arils to my salads and coleslaw or just reached in the container and grabbed a handful. It didn't take me long to devour all of them. So, on my next trip to the grocery store (while they were still on sale for four for $5), I bought four more.

Curious to see the amazing Alton Brown's trick for a no-mess experience with a pomegranate? Here's a clip from the episode! (The directions start around the 3-minute mark.) Give it a try!

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens and 430EX Speedlite, 1/125s, f/2.8 at ISO 320

Friday, November 19, 2010

119/365 Sunset in the tree tunnel

It's been much too long since I posted for you! Let's fix that pronto!

I've always loved this tree tunnel, which is usually the final landmark before arriving at Mom and Dad's house. You may recognize it from some past posts -- such as this one, in which I mention how it reminds me of a scene from Batman, and this one, with a photo taken last fall. It feels like you're making a grand entrance after you emerge from the tunnel, or you're venturing through a doorway only to discover something great on the other side. Perhaps it's like a nature-created special effect!

Do you have a landmark that you take note of every time you so somewhere, especially somewhere you enjoy being?

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/125s, f/5.6 at ISO 200 at about 5:30 p.m.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The aemillerPhotography Etsy shop!

I have big news! I’ve opened an Etsy shop!

If you get your SightSalad updates on the actual site (as opposed to using an RSS-feed reader), you’ve probably already noticed a special graphic and link that appeared in the right column last week. I wanted to be sure to tell you the whole story, though!

I’ve never been a photographer who wants to ultimately open a portrait studio and shoot dozens of senior portraits or weddings each year. You know, by seeing my style here on SightSalad, that my photographic interests are much wider than that – and I get a large portion of my inspiration from nature.

I am a photographer who has dreamed of turning her hobby into a small business, though! For years I’ve been imagining my photos on greeting cards, calendars, and other fun items that I’d want to buy for myself or a friend.

A few months ago – July, to be exact – I decided that now was the time to invest in my dream and do something about it! Time to stop saying “someday” and start thinking “why not now?”

Enter: Etsy.

I chose Etsy as my launching point for many reasons. The two most important were:
  1. Etsy has its own team of designers and developers who have already built a robust, user-friendly website – meaning I didn’t have to build my own right away!
  2. Etsy is a respected, established marketplace of artists and artisans from around the world. It’s a community, it’s a trusted site for buyers, it’s a support system. The volume of traffic on each day is huge, so it made sense for me to leverage that for my own business.

After months of imagining, planning, creating, designing, deciding, ordering, writing, and posting, my dream is now a reality! I’m incredibly excited about it.

My offering right now consists of two main products: folded sets of blank notecards and individual prints of my photos. I plan to add more and more items as time goes on!

I would be honored if you would visit, check it out, and share the link with any friends or family members who may be interested. Here's your destination:

Thank you, as always, for being a SightSalad reader and friend!

Now, back to your regular programming.

Monday, November 8, 2010

118/365 Radiant yellow leaves

Sunlight in the fading hours of the day is always beautiful, but I find it especially noticeable at this time of year, when it hits the changing leaves. When the tree is backlit, like the leaves are in this photo, it makes it look like the tree is nearly glowing.

Yellow leaves generally aren't among my favorites -- red and orange tend to overshadow them. But what do you think? Should they get more credit? What's your favorite leaf shade or tree in the fall?

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/500s, f/4 at ISO 100 at about 5:30 p.m. in direct sunlight, backlit.

Friday, November 5, 2010

117/365 Letters on the run

Most bottles of shampoo, specifically the printing on their labels, hold up impressively well in the shower. For some reason, the letters on this little bottle have decided they'd rather take up residence somewhere else.

It catches my eye all the time because I find it funny to see a solo, intact "y" sliding down the bottle or a "P" trying to blend in with the word "leaves" while the rest of their neighbors are staying put. Where do they think they're going?

I have a bigger bottle from this same brand whose letters seem to be content to remain where they are. So what makes this one different?

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens and 430EX Speedlite, 1/80s, f/2.8 at ISO 640

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

116/365 An alumni art exhibit at Butler University

I've marked a milestone in my photography career:  I've now had the honor of having one of my photographs accepted for a special exhibition!

Butler University, my alma mater, created an alumni art exhibit this year to help promote the new Art + Design major being offered. They welcomed all alumni to submit up to three pieces for consideration in the exhibit, and I was thrilled when they accepted one of mine! More than 70 alumni entered, and they selected 24 pieces.

The artwork was displayed on campus at Clowes Hall (my favorite performing-arts venue in Indianapolis) from October 12-24, through this year's Homecoming. All of the artists gathered on the final day for a reception and gallery tour, during which visitors could view the pieces and speak to the artists themselves.

I had a fantastic time at the event and met some wonderful people, both alumni and guests. My photo, on the right in the photo above (recognize it from this post?), hung next to a watercolor painting created by a woman who graduated in the 1950s. I could have stood and continued talking to her long after the show ended.

Being accepted and included in the exhibit was a huge honor, and I'm thrilled that I got to be a part of it! The organizers have already said that they're going to make this an annual event, so I'll look forward to submitting another piece next year, too.

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

Saturday, October 30, 2010

115/365 Photo shoot: Sally and Temper

Mom has made some great friends through her horseback-riding group -- the majority of them women -- and Sally is one of them. Sally has been riding for many years (I think it's at least eight if not more than 10), and her hard work is apparent when you see her with her horse, Temper.

Temper is a gelding whose disciplined behavior is incredibly impressive. I'm amazed every time I watch Sally and him together. Even when chaos is breaking out around him, he knows to listen to Sally's cues and return his attention to her. When you watch them together, you can't help but think, "I want my horse to behave like that."

Sally dabbles in photography herself. From experience, I know that often means you end up with few photos of yourself since you're always the one manning the camera. Sally asked if I would photograph her and Temper, and I jumped at the chance!

We met -- nearly at the last minute -- on a beautiful afternoon that provided the perfect fall setting: the turning leaves were at about peak color, some had fallen but most were still hanging on, and the late-afternoon sunlight bathed everything in gold.
I found this spot and captured as many photos as I could, taking advantage of the perfect setup. Temper was a little distracted by his buddies in the pasture nearby and the crunching leaves underfoot, but as always, he knew to listen to Sally and trust her not to lead him astray.

Sally and Temper were fantastic customers. I think we all had a good time!

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/125s, f/3.5 at ISO 400 and 1/125s, f/4 at ISO 160 at about 5:30 p.m.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

114/365 A perfect red-pepper specimen

Even with the drought we've experienced this summer, my red pepper plant is producing more now than it has all year. Granted, that means I've picked two peppers in recent weeks in comparison to one a month ago, but I'd say that counts as doubled production!

This one was so pretty, I almost didn't want to eat it. But I did. And it was very tasty.

Now if only some more brothers and sisters of this pepper would hurry up and ripen, because I know we're going to be getting more frosty nights soon, and the plant isn't going to last much longer!

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens and 430EX Speedlite, 1/60s, f/2.8 at ISO 800

Sunday, October 24, 2010

113/365 Beautiful Butler University

Ah, beautiful, picturesque (at any time of year) Butler University. My dear alma mater.

Butler is known for being a beautiful urban campus, and it definitely shines in the fall. This particular pond area is a favorite for many because it offers a peaceful escape from the limestone buildings. Also, the steps leading up to the bell tower in the background make a great cardio workout location! (Reenactment of a certain scene from Rocky is optional. But recommended.)

I was on campus recently to drop off a photograph of mine for an art show (more details on that to follow!), and I couldn't resist taking the long, scenic route through campus before heading back to work. I knew I could easily find a worthy photo of the day!

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/250s, f/8 at ISO 100 at about 12:00 p.m.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

112/365 Time for an upgrade

After more than sixteen years, Mom and Dad's deck has finally thrown in the towel.

The boards were weather-worn and sun-beaten, nails were breaking, boards were warping, and walking on it barefoot required delicate precision unless you really wanted to acquire a mass of splinters (though I did it anyway). Time for a fresh start!

The wood in this photo is the set of new boards that were being laid in place and lined up. After having grown so used to seeing the old deck, with its faded-gray coloring, this looks incredibly foreign! But in a good way.

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/125s, f/4 at ISO 100 at about 6:15 p.m.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

111/365 Feeding the local wildlife

Isn't the rule generally that you're not supposed to feed wild animals? Well, Dad and Chase have been feeding this wild animal for quite a while. Grasshoppers, crickets, etc. She seems to like it.

And of course, they like seeing her wrap and devour the unsuspecting critters.

They haven't suffered any negative backlash as a result of their interference, so I guess they're safe. This time.

We've always (affectionately?) referred to these spiders at home as Golden Ladies, though I believe they're generally known as a much more boring "common garden spider." Apparently they're harmless to humans, but I'll keep my fingers and toes out of reach just in case. I'll leave the feedings to the boys.

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/125s, f/4.5 at ISO 1000 in shade at about 6:00 p.m.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

110/365 Parking lot: Cook for the Cure

Each year, my company hosts a charity event in October that benefits Susan G. Komen for the Cure. The event is called Cook for the Cure, features a cooking contest amongst my coworkers, and we invite clients, partners, friends and family to come join us.

The theme this year was Tailgate for the Cure. Rather than do an individual cooking contest like usual, the "chefs" this year were divided into teams of four, and each team put on its own tailgate. We also moved the event outside -- a gamble in Indiana in October! But, thankfully, we've had beautiful, warm weather lately and it worked out perfectly. The teams fixed ribs, sliders, grilled pizza, potato salad, guacamole... you name it.

The event was a big success, raising more than $10,000 for the cause. It seemed like everyone loved being outside, so I hope the weather is as kind to us next year if we do it again!

Camera: Canon 40D with 24mm wide-angle lens, 1/250s, f/4 at ISO 100 at about 10:00 a.m.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

109/365 Parking lot: changing leaves

I love the beauty of a tree that has fully changed into its fall colors, but I always get a kick out of finding one that is halfway between the two seasons. This one, at the back of our parking lot at work (a part of theme week!), was half green and half orange. I could have nearly drawn a defined line between the two shades, it was so clear.

No doubt about it, fall has arrived!

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/500s, f/4 at ISO 100 at about 12:15 p.m.

Monday, October 11, 2010

108/365 Parking lot: lessons in parking

Last year, the management at work mercifully removed the concrete bumpers that stood at the top of each parking space. Those darn things seemed to be a hair too tall, because multiple cars found their own bumpers scraped when the driver pulled up too far into the space.

We still have to be mindful to not pull up too far, but now it's to protect the edge of the asphalt from crumbling, rather than our vehicles.

I'd much rather have this lesson to learn!

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/250s, f/5.6 at ISO 100 at about 12:00 p.m.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

107/365 Parking lot: fallen leaf

It's 'Scenes from the Parking Lot' theme week, and today's subject absolutely stopped me in my tracks.

Okay, perhaps that's a little dramatic, but I'm completely serious. I was at work, headed out the door on my way to run an errand at lunch, and this perfect orange leaf completely captivated me! My coworkers probably thought I was being a little odd, but I squatted down in the parking lot for a good five minutes photographing this leaf from every possible angle.

The orange leaf, by itself, lying on the black asphalt was just beautiful. I love the contrasts in both color and texture between the two.

If you had any doubt that fall had arrived, this erases it!

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD1000 at about 12:15 p.m.

106/365 Scenes from the parking lot

How about we make this a theme week? It's been a while, and I was struck with inspiration this week! The theme is "scenes from the parking lot." (It sounds a bit like a theme from This American Life, doesn't it?) All photos will be ones I capture in or from a parking lot. 

First up: this one's dark (done at night without a tripod handy), but here's the idea: My high school has undergone some much-needed renovations over the past 18-24 months, and it looks like everything is complete. I believe the lights in this photo are actually glowing from inside the new gym, but I haven't been inside, so I'm not 100% sure!

I drive by the school every time I go to my parents' house, so it's been fun to watch the progress and imagine what things look like on the inside. One addition to the school that I'll get to check out next month is an auditorium. Until this year, the school has been presenting concerts, plays, and other programs from the cafetorium -- a stage at one end of the cafeteria.

It's worked okay for the past 30 years, but it's about time these kids got a real auditorium! I'll be helping with the annual Junior Miss program again next month (actually emceeing the show), so I'll get to check out the auditorium firsthand and see the view from the stage itself.

No pressure, huh?

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/8 second, f/3.5 at ISO 500 at about 8:00 p.m.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

105/365 A sliver of sky overhead

Kudos to the person who invented the sunroof. I don't open mine nearly as much as I should (learned from experience how easy it is to forget and leave it open!), but it's one thing I look for whenever it's time to choose and buy a new car.

I wonder who does get credit for the idea of installing a window in the roof of a car?

Opening the sunroof -- having a window open overhead while I'm driving -- feels like a treat, and a luxury. Do you feel the same way? I've never been interested in having a convertible, but having that sliver of sky overhead feels great.

We've had perfect open-sunroof conditions recently: clear skies, sunny, but not stiflingly hot. Time to enjoy the fall air!

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

Monday, October 4, 2010

104/365 A difference of five minutes

I just can't resist. Yes, I've been posting a rather heavy selection of sunsets recently, but I can't help myself -- we've had some beauties!

The wonder of this one was in the changing aspects of it over time. It was beautiful to begin with, as in the photo above: The glow behind the trees was deep and intense over the bean field.

But then, about five minutes later, it morphed into this:
Isn't amazing how much difference five minutes can make? Gorgeous!

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/125s, f/4 at ISO 100 and 250 at about 8:00 p.m.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

103/365 Moonset

Fall has definitely arrived! It hit all of a sudden, and last week we had several cool, clear mornings during which a thin layer of fog settled over the lowest areas of the fields.

On my drive to work one morning, I glanced 180 degrees away from the sunrise and saw this beautiful moonset happening at the same time. I loved the scene: foggy, harvested field; soft, early morning light; and a low, full moon with a thin veil of clouds passing in front of it.

It was as though I'd driven into a scene from a movie. Perhaps a Halloween-themed movie, but thankfully a scene toward the beginning of the film, when the stage is just being set, everyone is happy and before the headless horseman starts wreaking havoc on the town.

Let's pray I don't drive into THAT scene any time soon!

On second thought, the headless horseman will be visiting Conner Prairie in the near future...

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/60s, f/4.5 at ISO 640 at about 7:30 a.m.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

102/365 Smoothie material

My go-to breakfast when the weather is warm is a good, cold smoothie. This summer I've learned why bananas are such a mainstay ingredient in smoothie recipes -- they add a real, tangible creaminess to it unlike any other fruit.

I like to buy a big bunch of bananas at the grocery store, slice them onto a cookie sheet, and stick them in the freezer overnight. By morning, I have enough pre-sliced, frozen bananas to start at least a week's worth of smoothies.

Want to know something else about that frozen banana? You can make one-ingredient ice cream with it! Dump a couple frozen bananas in a blender and go -- after a few rounds of scraping the contents down the sides of the bowl, you've got creamy soft-serve ice cream. It's fascinating!

Hungry now?

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens and 430EX Speedlite, 1/125s, f/2.8 at ISO 640

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

First 100 posts of Year 3!

Can you believe I forgot to mark the 100th-post milestone? I know, it's shameful!

Well, let's give the milestone its due fanfare! Here's a roundup of my ten favorite posts from the past 100:

1/365 Year 3 - Redbud Trees: The first post of this round, and I love this photo. Budding redbud trees are one of my favorite signs of spring, and I especially like the lines in this photo.

12/365 Azaleia: You can tell I like the color pink just by the fact that these first two posts I'm listing feature shades of it! This azaleia at Mom and Dad's is so vibrant it almost doesn't look real.

14/365 Lone tree standing: This photo conveys a tangible feeling -- loneliness, independence, foreboding... Seeing it in black and white helps to focus the eye on the composition, too.

19/365 A city in North Yorkshire: My first-ever trip to the United Kingdom! How could I not include at least one post from this trip in this list? The trip was great, and I'd love to go back and see more of England. I really liked York itself, if only for the fact that you can easily walk from one side of the small city to the other.

23/365 One day in London: You have one day to see London -- what do you do? Since this trip, I've become hooked on The Tudors, a Showtime series on DVD, and I'm completely enthralled by it. Seeing scenes of London and North Yorkshire in the show, and learning more about a particularly defining time in England's history, is so much more real to me now that I've seen some of it for myself.

29/365 Heavy poppies: You'd think poppies would develop a stronger stem to keep themselves upright, wouldn't you?

52/365 Road trip!: Mom and I took a week-long vacation together this summer, and we began our road trip in Asheville, NC. We both loved it and definitely want to go back.

54/365 Blue Ridge Parkway: You must drive at least a portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway in your lifetime. The scenery is completely worth it, and it won't be there forever, I'm sure.

63/365 Acidic soil and blue hydrangeas: You know I love flowers, and this has become one of my all-time favorites!

90/365 They don't make bridges like they used to: An old bridge, on a secluded road, in rural Indiana. How often do you see bridges like this anymore?

How about you? What was your favorite post? Is it one that didn't make this list?

What's next for posts 101 through 200? Fall, the holiday season, the first snowfall... get cozy!

Monday, September 27, 2010

101/365 Closing out the tomato season

I've been filching tomatoes from Mom and Dad recently (with their consent). My garden did very well at the beginning of the summer, but it has definitely suffered in the dry spell we've had lately. Luckily, I started really watering it in time to save the tomatoes, and they're coming back to life.

But it does mean that I've had several weeks during which my Better Boys haven't produced a single ripe tomato. Time to raid Mom and Dad's garden!

I've also found some local growers with roadside stands that have proven really valuable. This is the first year I've seriously set my mind toward supporting my local farmers, and the difference between local (seasonal) produce and that you find at the grocery store really is apparent. My diet has gone through a massive (though gradual) overhaul in the last year, and my consciousness as an eater and consumer has morphed along with it.

It's left me feeling like I have food on the brain constantly, but I'm proud of how far I've come! As a kid, I was the difficult child who couldn't eat in a restaurant unless it served chicken nuggets or spaghetti (with the sauce on the side!). Picky was my middle name. But in the last year, I've discovered a love for brussels sprouts, asparagus, interesting squashes... and amazingly, these are all vegetables, an item that was sorely missing from my diet for the past two decades.

I'm sad to see the local tomato season drawing to an end, but now I'm looking forward to squash time! What food do you look forward to most at this time of year?

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens, 1/125s, f/2.8 at ISO 200 at about 6:00 p.m.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

100/365 Corn, ready for harvest

It's harvest time in central Indiana!

For some reason, it seems like harvesting began earlier this year than usual, but that perception may just be due to the fact that I'm flabbergasted that we've reached the end of September. It could also be influenced by the lack of rain we've had since July, so the crops dried out sooner.

Regardless, it's now officially fall, and that means harvest time, squash time, cool-evening time, dark-morning time, and apple-cider time.

Where did the year go? Are you as shocked as I am that it's nearly October?

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/640s, f/5.6 at ISO 100 at about 5:30 p.m.

Friday, September 24, 2010

99/365 Fun shipping boxes

Every once in a while at work, we have to do some manual labor and become a packing/shipping/mailing house for a client project. One such project came up in the last couple of weeks -- I'm not even sure what client it was for or what the project was -- but these FedEx shipping boxes were a constant presence near the reception desk for a few days.

I walked past them several times, and the repeating triangles caught my eye each time. I finally remembered to grab my camera on the last day they were here, before they were picked up and sent on their merry way.

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/500s, f/4.5 at ISO 100 at about 1:30 p.m.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

98/365 A beautiful sunset

I can't help it, I love a good sunset. (Just see all the posts tagged with "sunset" for hard evidence.)

I love that every single one is different, and I love that they change by the minute. Getting a great photo means hitting that timing just right, and I love that challenge.

And while some photographers may thumb their noses at sunsets, saying they're cliche and expected, I don't subscribe to that line of thinking. Sunsets are common photograph subjects simply because people love them. How can you not -- at least occasionally -- stop and be momentarily awed by the beauty of a red, orange, yellow, blue, and purple sky?

So, to all the elitist photographers out there -- by all means, don't photograph sunsets. Just send them to me, and I'll gladly take the sunset for you.

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/125s, f/4 at ISO 320 at about 8:30 p.m.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

97/365 Patience and dedication

Training a horse is hard work. Anyone who tries to tell you otherwise is pulling your leg.

Training a fairly new horse after you've made great progress with another can be even harder, because patience becomes an even bigger hurdle.

It probably parallels raising kids in a lot of ways. You've successfully gotten one out of diapers, and then the next one comes along, and the process begins all over again. Am I right?

We welcomed Xena into the family in November 2008, and Mom's been training her, with the intention of having two great trail horses, ever since. Xena is a great horse with a big presence, and the Path to Great Trail Horse has had its excitement.

Every horse (like every person) has its issues, and the key to successful training is twofold: 1) find a great horse with a good temperament and 2) issues that can be addressed. Some horses have had negative experiences with lawn chairs. Or umbrellas. Or plastic grocery bags. Or loud trucks. Others remember a problem on a hill, in a puddle, near a road, or in a field. The possibilities are endless, and their memories are impressive. A lot you can work through (like therapy!), while others are too difficult to overcome.

Xena has had a negative experience on a hill at some point in her history, so that's been a key challenge for Mom to work through in her training. It has required a lot of time working on flat ground in the round pen and elsewhere, focusing a lot on getting Xena's attention on and submission to Mom. Xena is progressing, so it looks like the physical and metaphorical hill can be conquered.

In the meantime, patience and dedication have become Mom's middle name.

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/250s, f/5.6 at ISO 100 at about 1:30 p.m. and 1/125s, f/4.5 at ISO 100 at about 6:30 p.m.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

96/365 Front-porch entertainment

When you live way out in the country, entertainment seen from your front porch is limited. Because of that, the annual 10K run that passes my parents' house is quite exciting!

I'm not a runner, though I've tried to be (several times). My knees and joints just don't like the high-impact aspects of running, so I've finally accepted the fact that I'm destined to be a walker and/or biker for the rest of my life.

Knowing that running can be a grueling sport, I admire people who train for races -- like 10Ks -- and finish. It takes time, dedication, motivation, perseverance... you name it. Not everyone can do it, me included.

It's easy to admire the winners of these races, but I have a lot of respect for the people who come in last, too. Mentally, that's not the easiest place to be in. In this particular race, an ambulance follows the runners, trailing about 30 feet behind the final person. So that person ends up running or walking the whole race with the sound of a diesel engine pushing them from behind the whole time. I don't think that's a sound many people would want to program into their iPods as a constant for 6.2 miles.

Would you?

Camera: Canon 40D with 70-300mm IS lens, 1/200s, f/5.6 at ISO 100 at about 8:30 a.m.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

95/365 Horses at Old Fashioned Days

Would a festival called "Old Fashioned Days" be complete if it didn't include horses? Not in my book!

On Labor Day weekend, Sunday night's festivities always feature a horse pull, which has been preceded in recent years by a horse-riding demonstration. Chase has ridden in the demonstration a couple times, but this year, some other riders took a turn.

The photo above, taken during the demonstration, didn't capture a dramatic action sequence, but rather another side of horseback riding that I always enjoy seeing: a relationship between a rider and his or her horse.

If you've never been to a horse pull, it's really an interesting competition that requires a lot of practice and training. Two draft horses are harnessed together and work as a team to pull a sled carrying tons of weight. Literally tons. The team that won this year's event pulled 10,500 pounds of weight. Isn't that incredible?

The horses are "driven" by one person walking behind them, usually the owner, who holds the reins and is the only person allowed to speak to the horses and encourage them during the pull. Two other people walk with him and are responsible for hooking the horses up to the weighted sled. The horses have loads of adrenaline before they pull, so they're ready to dig in as soon as they get lined up. It's very common for them to miss the hookup the first time in their excitement. In the photo below, the guy in the red shirt has just connected the horses to the sled and is jumping out of the way as they start pulling.
As we watched this year's pull, Mom and I commented on the fact that this definitely seems to be an older-man's sport. A couple drivers/owners were in their 40s or 50s, but they were the youngest of the group. One driver was in his 80s.
I usually only make it to this one horse pull each year, but I like having it be part of my Labor Day weekend's activities!

Camera: Canon 40D with 70-300mm IS lens, 1/400s and 1/200s, f/5.6 at ISO 100 between 5:00 and 8:00 p.m.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

94/365 Antique tractors on parade

Labor Day weekend wouldn't feel complete without Old Fashioned Days, my hometown's annual festival.

One of the features of the weekend is the county's largest parade, and it earns that distinction largely because of the sheer volume of antique tractors that make an appearance. You'd be hard-pressed to see more tractors in one place anywhere else. 

Chase drove a tractor in the parade this year, so Mom and I went early to get a good seat and embarrass him by taking lots of photos.

Antique tractors have a very distinctive sound, and as I sat listening to their rhythm as they drove past, I realized that the sound is one that I've really grown to enjoy. I wouldn't necessarily call it exciting, but it definitely evokes a lot of fond, familiar memories for me. It's a sound that I associate with the end of summer and the beginning of fall -- Labor Day weekend itself.

Now I'm ready for apple cider and pumpkins!

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/640s, f/4 at ISO 100 at about 11:45 a.m.

Friday, September 10, 2010

93/365 Friday night Indians game

Indianapolis may not have a major-league baseball team, but having a minor-league team in town is a nice trade!

The Indianapolis Indians are a Triple-A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates, and the stadium, Victory Field, is right in downtown Indianapolis within walking distance of the Colts' Lucas Oil Stadium.

I generally make it to an Indians game about once every couple of years. (I'm not a very consistent fan, am I?) When I do make it, I'm reminded of my days playing little-league softball as a kid. At that time, we went to at least one game a year as a special outing with our families, and my mitt still bears the faded signatures of some of the Indians' players.

The team now follows most Friday-night games with a fireworks display. Last Friday, I went with a couple girlfriends, but though our intentions were to see the fireworks, we left before the game was over. It was an unusually chilly night with a strong wind that had us wishing we'd dressed a little warmer. (Call us weenies, go ahead.) When 10:00 rolled around and there were two innings still left to be played, we called it a night.

Man, I'm getting old!

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/125s, f/4.5 at ISO 400 at about 8:00 p.m.