Friday, February 26, 2010

329/365 Ticking clock

I find comfort in the sound of a ticking clock.

For some, it's annoying background noise that grates on their nerves. Having grown up in a family that has at least three chiming clocks in every house, though, I feel like it fills the silence with a homey rhythm.

My grandfather, the king of clocks, gets credit for starting the family trend. When you visit him at his house, you may have to pause your conversation each hour on the hour because the chiming throughout the house is so loud. He's made dozens of clocks over the years, both for himself and for his children and grandchildren. I currently have one myself that chimes every 30 minutes, and one of these days (when I figure out where it should go and actually move it), I'll have another one.

I'm sure that family history is part of the reason I like the sound.

The Long Exposure in this photo (shutter speed of a full second) is meant to show the motion of the swinging pendulum.

Camera: Canon 40D with 430EX Speedlite, 1s, f/4 at ISO 100

Thursday, February 25, 2010

328/365 A steamy mug of tea

This is a photo I'm going to have to try again.

For my Long Exposure theme week, I wanted to try to capture steam coming off a cup of tea. The challenge is that steam is rather transparent, even when lit directly.

If your monitor is good, you should be able to see a little cloud of steam hovering above this mug. If not, it's just a photo of a side-lit mug in a dark room on a dark table.

Not that there's anything wrong with that. I was just hoping for a little more excitement.

Camera: Canon 40D, 5s, f/3.5 at ISO 100

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


After nearly two years of blogging at SightSalad, I'm making some design updates! Please bear with me while the blog is under construction. I'm playing with some new headers, and I'm working to make the photos post larger (at the request of a special reader).

Don't you agree that bigger is better when it comes to photos on a blog?

At least now, if you forget your reading glasses, you'll still be able to visit.

If you have other requests or suggestions for what you'd like to see on SightSalad, please leave a comment! I'd love to hear from you.

327/365 New theme: long exposure

A week of shooting Look Up photos has passed, so it's time for a new theme.

This time: Long Exposure.

I'll define the parameters for myself as a shutter speed of 1/30 second or longer. If you notice the technical notations I make at the bottom of each post, you may recognize that my personal default shutter speed is 1/125s. 1/60s is generally the slowest speed at which you can hand-hold a camera and not pick up your own movement. I generally start one stop faster to ensure a sharp photo.

So 1/30 second is a long exposure for me!

The idea for the photo above immediately came to me. I spend a lot of time typing on a keyboard each day, so while I may sit at a desk most of the time, my fingers are moving a lot.

Tripod + self timer + longer shutter speed = motion blur!

Camera: Canon 40D, 0.8s, f/8 at ISO 100

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

326/365 Another twist on Looking Up

How about another twist on the Look Up theme?

Thinking of "look up" as a homonym (which itself is a fun concept), I went to one of the first places I go to answer a question or investigate something further: Google.

The fact that we reach for Google as a first resource is certainly a telling sign of the times. Whereas it used to be dictionaries and encyclopedias, we now go for the search engine. (It's just so darn handy!)

There is one specific time when I must have a hard-copy, old-fashioned dictionary on hand: while playing Scrabble. How else do you break up an argument?

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

325/365 Looking up, literally

Here's a slightly different take on the Look Up theme this week. Instead of an upward perspective through the lens of the camera, it's a self-portrait of me looking upward.

(That hat on my head has been a regular feature this winter, and it doesn't look like that will be changing any time soon. I'm definitely ready for the time to come when I can stash my winter gear in the closet.)

I made this photo using a tripod that was extended so that the lens was right at my eye level when standing, and I used a remote trigger to focus. I bounced a flash off the ceiling to camera left.

Here's a tip if you're ever trying a self-portrait (with a fairly large lens): use the front of the lens (or filter, in this case) like a mirror. My reflection off that flat surface is handy in figuring out where you need to stand for composition and focus!

Camera: Canon 40D with 430EX Speedlite, 1/125s, f/5.6 at ISO 320

Monday, February 22, 2010

324/365 Hanging charm

Continuing the Look Up theme, this charm hangs from the ceiling fan in Mom's quilt shop. It has a bead in the middle that says "Creativity," so it's an excellent fixture in her workspace.

She has several hanging charms in the shop that have been given to her by her friends, and while I love this one, there's a small glass wind chime that I really like. It's no more decorative than this, but the reason I like it is that it hangs within Buster's reach. So every once in a while, he'll wander over to where it hangs, bump it with his nose, and the light tinkling of the glass is a very happy sound.

I hope he's doing it because he likes the sound, too.

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens, 1/60s, f/4 at ISO 1250

Sunday, February 21, 2010

323/365 Beneath a bouquet

I photograph a ton of flowers, but it's usually from a head-on perspective or from above. For the Look Up theme this week, I brought this bouquet to the edge of the counter and got down low.

The bouquet itself was beautiful and classic -- you can't really go wrong with red roses!

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens and 430EX Speedlite, 1/125s, f/3.5 at ISO 500

Friday, February 19, 2010

322/365 Looking up at the Olympics

I'm a huge fan of the Olympics. The variety of sports, the drama, the profiles of the athletes, the appreciation for the training and dedication that they put into their work... wonderful.

For these 17 days, my rear end and my big comfy chair will be very good friends.

I've noticed something interesting, though. As I talk to people, many say, "Oh, I love watching the Olympics. Except the figure skating."

When did figure skating become the uncool sport to admit liking? Are sequins and feathers really that divisive?

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/20s, f/4 at ISO 100

321/365 New theme: look up

Time for a new theme (even though this fits into the last one, as well)!

This next week's theme is: Look up.

All photos I make in the next week will fall around that theme. It should be a challenge, and let's just hope it doesn't give me a neck ache.

My neck, thankfully, was no worse for the wear after this photo. I sprawled on my back on the floor of my kitchen and looked up to the ceiling. The darkened edges of the photo are done by exposure, not through post-processing magic.

Ready to see where this goes? 

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/125s, f/3.5 at ISO 100

320/365 Behind locked gates

This has me burning with curiosity.

Isn't it funny how locked gates and doors do that to you? There may be nothing of interest on the other side, but just the act of saying, "You're not allowed" piques our interest.

I pass this gate regularly. These basic locked gates block the entrance to a place called the "Eagle's Hide-A-Way." Not only do they lock the gates, but they give the place an intriguing name.

From the road, all you can see is a long, straight paved driveway that leads off into the woods. You can't see where it goes, and rarely are the gates open.

I'm so curious! Glancing at the Eagle Creek Park Foundation website, it looks like it's just a facility you can rent, but I still want to see it, just to know what lies at the end of the road.

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/80s, f/5.6 at ISO 100 at about 5:30 p.m.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

319/365 Friends with the humidifier

My humidifier and I have become buddies this winter.

It's a relationship that has seen its share of tension and uncertainty, but spats so far have been resolved through learning to communicate with one another (i.e. reading the manual to figure out why the heck it's not working right).

I'm amazed by how much a difference a change of 20% in humidity makes in a house. Before I got my humidifier, the humidity in my house (which is heated by a gas furnace) had dipped to less than 20% overall. It became horribly uncomfortable. I was waking up with a raspy throat every day, opening my eyes after a night's sleep was difficult, and my dry hands were worse than ever.

Add a humidifier, increase the humidity to 40-50%, and presto! Comfort returns.

Conversely, I'll switch my allegiance to the dehumidifier when May or June rolls around. Does that make me a fickle friend?

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens, 1/125s, f/2.8 at ISO 400, shot in monochrome. Photo of a humidifier filter.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

318/365 Learning to love Brussels sprouts

I never, never (did I say never?) would have expected that I'd be a person who would enjoy cooking -- and eating -- Brussels sprouts. But I do!

I have the advantage of not having had a negative experience with them to sway my opinion. So when I tried them the first time, after they'd been roasted in olive oil with a little spice, I was pleasantly surprised.

I got a batch of Brussels sprouts and new potatoes in my produce bin a few weeks ago, so they served as a tasty side dish for a couple dinners the next week.


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

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

317/365 Sunset in black and white

The best snowfall is the kind that sticks to everything.

Yes, it makes driving a bit of a challenge, because the pavement becomes one of those sticky surfaces -- but there's nothing prettier than a tree decked in snow.

We've had both kinds of snow recently, the sticky snow and the light, fluffy version. On this day, two days after our first of several snowfalls, the sun had melted a lot of it, but it refroze quickly.

If I wasn't doing a black and white theme this week, you'd see that we had a beautiful sunset, too. Now that makes a beautiful combination.

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens and on-camera fill flash, 1/125s, f/4 at ISO 100 at about 6:00 p.m.

Monday, February 15, 2010

316/365 Roller derby

Roller derby has enjoyed a surge in interest and enthusiasm over the past few years. Indianapolis alone has four teams split between the Naptown Roller Girls and the Circle City Socialites.

But until last weekend, I'd never personally been to a bout. And boy, was it fun.

I went with a group of friends to see a Naptown Roller Girls Tornado Sirens home bout, and even though I knew it was going to be a popular event, I was still amazed to see the size of the crowd. The ladies skated at the Pepsi Colliseum, which is the same venue in which the Indianapolis Ice hockey team plays -- and there were more people at the roller derby bout than at the last two Ice games I've been to -- combined.

It was an enthusiastic crowd, too. Some die-hard, brave fans even arrive early to grab a "suicide seat." (They're the daring souls seated cross-legged right on the track that you can see in these photos.) You have to be 18 to sit here, you acknowledge that it's quite likely you'll end up with someone falling in your lap -- and you won't hold anyone but your own crazy self responsible if you get hurt.

Oh, and if you can hang onto your beer without spilling it in such an instance -- you'll be the hero of the day.

Great fun. I'll definitely go back as a spectator. I'll leave the skating to the pros.

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/125s, f/4.5 at ISO 1000

Friday, February 12, 2010

315/365 Postcard-perfect

Ah, snow.

We've received quite a bit of it in the last week, though not nearly the blizzard dumped on the east coast. Ours amounted to a more manageable 5-8 inches or so.

And boy, was it beautiful.

The first round, which hit last Friday, was the wet, heavy snow that sticks to everything. Each tree limb, each rooftop, and of course, each road surface, ended up coated with it. It started while I was at work, so for this photo, I went to a west window that faces the woods.

It was so entrancing that I really had to tear myself away from the window after a while.

After that I slowly made my way home for the weekend.

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/125s, f/4.5 at ISO 200 at about 4:45 p.m., through a window facing west.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

314/365 New theme: black and white

After a week of photos taken before noon, it's time for a new theme!

Ready for it?

Black and white.

I adore black and white photography, and I don't convert my color photos to black and white nearly enough. The challenging part of this theme is that not every subject looks good in black and white. For instance, red and green look like equal shades of gray when you remove the color.

Granted, if that's what you're going for, then by all means, shades of red and green together make a great black and white photo.

Black and white is great for focusing the eye on detail. Subtract all the distraction of vibrant colors, and you end up with texture and form. The photo above is of the tower at the Murat Centre in downtown Indianapolis. It's a theater/concert venue with very interesting architectural detail -- a fact which makes it great for shooting in black and white.

I love night photography, too. I admit it's more fun when the temperature is above 32°F, though.

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/50s, f/4 at ISO 1600 at about 6:30 p.m.

313/365 Under the wire

I barely got this photo in under the wire, at 11:55 a.m.

Whew, that was close!

I have a good excuse, though:  I was occupied by work. Yep, work. Most of my morning was spent in a meeting at a client's office, so on the way back to our building, I got this photo on I-465. Don't worry, I was the passenger, not the driver.

Not that I haven't been known to shoot photos while driving. I don't text and drive, though. I promise.

I set my shutter speed for 1/5 second, which in the land of photography is pretty long. It gave me the great blur you see here, a photo of a passing semi truck.

I need to do blurry shots more often. Who needs sharp focus, anyways? Look out, that may become a week-long theme!

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/5s, f/22 at ISO 100 at about 11:55 a.m.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

312/365 Winter citrus

One bright spot in the dead of winter:  citrus fruit.


My Farm Fresh Delivery bin once again came stuffed with some great produce and willing photography subjects, including some excellent grapefruit, pictured here.

Eating grapefruit always poses an interesting challenge. I don't know anyone who peels it and eats the slices like an orange. So that means you have to slice it another way, and many methods end up leaving a lot of the juicy fruit behind.

The easiest way? Just slice the darn thing in half and grab a spoon. Even though that means wiping up some juice splatters, it doesn't keep me away!

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens, 1/125s, f/2.8 at ISO 125 at about 10:00 a.m. on an east-facing window ledge.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

311/365 Rise of the sun

It would have been sacrilege if I'd completed a "photos before noon" theme without a sunrise photo. Thankfully, the weather cooperated and allowed me to get one done.

This is a little creek-side park that I pass on my commute every day. The picnic table is only about 15 yards off the highway, but the setting feels more remote. I may have to bring my lunch here one day when the weather warms up, because my office has no suitable lunch-time outdoor seating.

I love eating my lunch outside [when it's warm]. It serves many purposes:  I get away from my desk, a breath of fresh air, a dose of sunshine, and some quiet time to myself. I find that it recharges me for the afternoon.

I'll be looking forward to those days returning in a couple months!

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/60s, f/3.5 at ISO 400 at about 7:45 a.m.

310/365 Blue skies

On the day of this photo, this was the first day of blue sky that we'd seen in ages. And I'm not even exaggerating. It felt like hundreds of years.

Okay, yes, that's a little overly dramatic. But you know the feeling, right? We're all lacking in our Vitamin D intake right now, so when that blue sky shows up, it's monumental.

Unfortunately, it didn't last for long. Back to the reality of an Indiana winter.

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD1000 at about 11:45 a.m.

Monday, February 8, 2010

309/365 A gathering of all ages

When I earned the opportunity to represent Indiana as a 500 Festival Princess in 2005, I never dreamed it would end up being such a prominent influence on my life. It extended well beyond those four busy months of activity.

First milestone:  I realized I'd gained a truly valuable group of friends when, for my birthday shortly after that Indy 500, these young women stepped up to celebrate with me when my school friends backed out.

Next milestone:  I was part of a group, made up mostly of this new group of friends, who founded the Princess Partners program. It's a mentor program, through which each current Princess is paired with an alumna to guide her through the process.

And now? This same group of motivated young women has initiated an official Princess Alumni Association. We met for the first time last weekend with Princesses represented from every decade -- including a Princess from the very first year in 1960. We agreed on a mission, which includes raising money to fund more scholarships for the Princesses, a concept that's very important to me. We created committees (of course), divided up responsibilities -- and I can't wait to see where this goes.

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/60s, f/3.5 at ISO 1000

308/365 Up before the sun

I can't tell you the last time I got a photo at 6:30 a.m. -- but here you go. How's that for being a photo before noon? Day two of the weekly theme, knocked out before the sun even came up.

If it's not immediately recognizable, this is the top of my shower curtain. I love the fabric of this curtain, so that alone makes getting up and in the shower a little more fun each morning.

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens and 430EX Speedlite, 1/60s, f/4.5 at ISO 320

Saturday, February 6, 2010

307/365 Hanging on

As I mentioned in my 300th post of this round of Project 365, I'm going to throw some week-long themes into the mix. It's time for an extra challenge -- and some new inspiration!

First up: Photos before noon.

That may seem like an odd first choice, but here's my rationale:  I've found myself falling into a bad habit. Though I have a camera with me all day long every day, I don't think to get my photo of the day until I'm home and it's after dinner.

I'll tell you what, that gets a little stale after a while. Especially when it's dark at that time of day and it's the dead of winter.

So, the first theme -- photos before noon -- is my personal kick in the pants to be looking for photo subjects in the morning.

A bonus: it means I have more time free in the evening. And when is that a bad thing?

The photo in this post is the first of this theme. I made this photo right after I exited my car at work, a little before 8:00 a.m. Dirty ice clumps like this are a common sight on cars at this time of year. After the last snow storm, they built up on my car enough that they rubbed the tires when I turned.

A true pain, but it just comes with the territory.

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/60s, f/3.5 at ISO 640 at about 7:45 a.m.

306/365 Quiet river

When the weather is nice, the paved walking trail by this river is busy with walkers and runners, out enjoying the scenery.

It runs along the edge of a park in Zionsville, and I pass it every day on my way to and from work. On this day, not a soul was in sight in the park, so I was able to choose the closest possible parking spot -- which allowed me to jump out, walk very quickly to the river, get some photos, and jump right back into my toasty-warm car.

I'll save the rugged, die-hard, cold-beating, hours-outside photography for another day.

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

305/365 Wellies

I broke down and did it. I bought a pair of wellies.

And that has to be one of the funniest names for a style of boots. Granted, the nickname comes from a reasonable origin, but it still makes me laugh.

Overseas, wellies are serious outdoor muckboots, not fashion accessories -- but I went ahead and chose a lovely violet for mine anyways. I plan to use them as they were intended, for trekking about in the rain.

So if a fun color is available, why not buy it?

Camera: Canon 40D with 430EX Speedlite, 1/125s, f/4 at ISO 500

Thursday, February 4, 2010

304/365 What your ice cream says about you

The simplicity of chocolate syrup on vanilla ice cream never gets old.

Make it dark chocolate? That gives it extra points. Hot fudge? Even better.

Now here's the big question: do you add the syrup in zig-zagging lines? Concentric spirals? A single, growing mountain in the middle? Or just random patterns?

I know, it's one of those thought-provoking questions that's going to keep you up all night. What does my chocolate syrup pattern say about me?

I tend to mix it up and do a different pattern each time -- though there's always a pattern. What does that mean?

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens and 430EX Speedlite, 1/125s, f/3.5 at ISO 500

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

303/365 A little color in the kitchen

Isn't it great how the little things can really tie things together?

I painted the yellow and red chairs in October, but their seats have been bare for the last four months. And the white chair in the middle has been sporting a cushion of pastel pink and gray that's nearly as old as I am and didn't really go with my kitchen.

Enter:  Mom the Amazing.

We found inspiration in these fun cushions I spotted on Apartment Therapy. I liked the patchwork look but didn't want my own to be quite as lofty. Because the tops were pieced together, we were able to raid Mom's fabric stash and use up scraps -- and that's always a positive thing, because it makes room for new stuff.

We got foam from Jo-Ann's, added thick black rickrack along the edges, and created ties from old shopping bag handles.

And voila! Custom, unique chair pads that completely go with my kitchen and tie the three chairs together.

They make both my eyes and my derriere happy.

Camera: Canon 40D with 430EX Speedlite, 1/125s, f/4 at ISO 500

Monday, February 1, 2010

302/365 January fog

January was a foggy month in Indiana. I don't ordinarily associate fog with January (aside from freezing fog), but my memory could just be fooling me today.

This was a particularly foggy night, and I pulled off the road to get this photo on my way home. Very few cars were around, and the fog gave the area a very isolated, solitary feel.

If it were Halloween I'd call it creepy.

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/15s, f/3.5 at ISO 400 at about 10:00 p.m.

301/365 The new kind of exciting purchase

It hit me the other day:  I must really be an adult if a new vacuum cleaner is now an exciting purchase.

For the last six months, I've been borrowing a vacuum. But it really didn't work very well. In a word, it sucked. Or didn't suck, that is.

So it was time to get a new one. And my beautiful deep turquoise, shiny new vacuum, with extensions, arrived via free shipping from Hoover.

It's a beaut. And these bristles will probably never look this nice, so I had to document the momentous day.

They actually look to me like spaghetti stuffed through holes. Don't you think?

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