Wednesday, March 31, 2010

357/365 Look down: green grass

Americans have a bit of an obsession with green grass, don't we?

We force it to grow where it wouldn't naturally -- in subdivisions in Arizona, in the desert of Nevada -- even at the risk of causing a water shortage. In the wetter climates, like Indiana, we water it just to keep it green when the rain tapers off in late summer.

Where did that practice begin? My guess is that it evolved with the popularity of subdivisions following World War II. Green grass became a bit of a status symbol.

While I don't really support watering mature grass just for the sake of keeping it green, I do relish its return after a long, cold winter. And I love walking on that lush carpet in bare feet. It's one of those little joys that is so simple but loved by just about everyone.

Welcome back, green grass!

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens, 1/100s, f/2.8 at ISO 800

Monday, March 29, 2010

356/365 Looking down: together

How about a photo of a person looking down for today's themed photo? And not just any person, but a beautiful bride on her wedding day.

I've had several friends get married (we have indeed reached the age where it becomes a regular occurrence), and I've been a guest at one friend's wedding. But this was the first of my close friends -- a friend who I've seen recently and regularly -- to get married.

It's hard to believe! I think about my parents, particularly my mom, and the things she was doing at my age. At that time, she had me -- a toddler -- and a baby boy on the way.

I can't imagine how different my life would be if I were married with children (plural) already. It certainly puts some small worries into perspective.

Think about it: what was happening in your parents' life when they were your age? 

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD1000

Sunday, March 28, 2010

355/365 Looking down: spring growth

It's the colorful flowers on the other end of the stem that usually get the attention, but I have to say, this part of the plant deserves attention, too.

The part that I most like about this photo is the contrast between the virtually colorless dried mulch and the fresh, bright green of the new plant. That plant had to push its way upward through the hardened soil of winter and the layers of wood chips in order to reach the sun.

And then it just keeps on going, reaching skyward.

You've got to admire that tenacity, don't you think?

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens, 1/125s, f/3.5 at ISO 320 at about 6:00 p.m.

354/365 New theme: look down

Time for a new theme! This week: Look Down.

I did Look Up for one of my first themes, so it makes sense that I should go the opposite direction, too.

And I'm starting the week with a play on the words of the theme. Instead of a literal perspective, or looking downward, for this photo, I pulled off the road and looked back at downtown Indianapolis.

This road along the White River gives you a great view of the city as you approach. Plus, in the evening, your back is to the west, so the buildings are bathed in the warm glow of the setting sun.

I've always enjoyed driving into downtown Indianapolis along this route, and it's solely due to the great view of the city.

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD1000 at about 8:00 p.m.

Friday, March 26, 2010

353/365 Something seasonal: watching the barometer

Earlier this week, I freely admitted to having a slight obsession with flowers. It's a healthy obsession, I swear.

Not much farther down the list of my photo-subject interests, as evidenced by the list of tags to the right, is meteorology. I've tagged 38 posts with "weather" and 22 posts with "storms" in the last two years.

One person who knows firsthand of my long-standing interest in meteorology is my brother, Chase. His most recent Christmas gifts to me were this barometer, a rain gauge, and an outdoor thermometer. His choices were perfect. I immediately hung my barometer prominently in my kitchen, under the clock, and I check it at least once every day.

I can't wait for spring storms to start rolling in and cause this needle to really start swinging!

Here are some of my favorite weather-related posts:
Gorgeous sunrise
Rule breaking - spring storms
Flood report

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

Thursday, March 25, 2010

352/365 Something seasonal: budding trees

Being surrounded by big trees can be a wonderful thing.

You get to see lots of budding leaves in the spring. Lots of changing colors in the fall. You're shaded from the hottest rays of the sun in the summer, meaning the energy bill is much easier to swallow.

But then there are the downsides. Leaves -- and seeds -- in the gutters. Risky limbs hanging over the roof. And growing roots that extend under the house over time and make their way into the pipes.

Sound like I'm speaking from experience?

At the moment, it's a great thing. These budding trees are signaling the arrival of spring.

I'll worry about the other things later.

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/500s, f/3.5 at ISO 100 at about 6:45 p.m.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

351/365 Something seasonal: sandals

I'm tired of wearing a coat. And scarf. And gloves. And tights. And socks. And boots (not that I don't love my boots). And long underwear to the office (yes, you read that right). And a warm hat.

I'm ready for t-shirts, tank tops, light skirts, sandals, shorts, sunglasses, baseball caps, and driving with the windows down and the radio turned up.

I went to a wedding this past weekend and took a chance when I planned my attire. A light, brightly colored dress, with sandals. No tights.

Yes, it was March 20 and that's definitely risky in central Indiana. I probably would have sought an alternate plan if the day had dawned cold and snowy, but I wasn't going to go down without a fight!

Luckily, I didn't lose any toes to frostbite and was actually quite comfortable in the 65-degree weather. I committed, doing my shoe shopping ahead of time (love, love, love Zappos and its two-way free shipping). I felt a little indulgent ordering four pairs of shoes in one sweep, but I swear I had no intention of keeping all of them.

And I didn't. You can check my highly organized shelves of shoes, I swear. I only kept the one pair.

Now, let's get some warmer weather so I can wear them again!

Camera: Canon 40D with 430EX Speedlite, 1/125s, f/4.5 at ISO 640

Monday, March 22, 2010

350/365 White crocuses sprouting

Spring is officially here. I can hardly contain myself!

If you know me at all or have browsed through the past posts on this blog, you know I'm a huge fan of flowers and other flora as subject matter in my photography. Just click on "flowers" in the list of tags on the right side of the page, and you'll see. It's my fourth-most used tag, with 81 posts in the last two years (and this will make number 82).

So this sight, the first crocuses of the year, is like... the first ray of sunshine after a gloomy week. Reconnecting with an old friend. Finding $20 in the pocket of an old jacket. Emerging into the warm sunshine after you've been freezing inside the office. Winning the lottery.

Ok, maybe it's not like winning the lottery. But I haven't yet done that, so I can't say for sure! (My chances of winning would probably be better if I actually bought a lottery ticket.)

Let's just say I'm excited.

In honor of this spring signal, here are links to a few of my favorite flower photos:

Stunning zinnias
Cherry blossoms
Flowering redbuds
Along the iris spectrum
Perfect peonies

What about you? What's your favorite sign that spring is arriving?

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

Friday, March 19, 2010

349/365 Something seasonal: allergies

It's that time of year: time for the seasonal allergies to set in.

I know I'm lucky in that my suffering really isn't too bad. It doesn't restrict my daily activities -- I mainly get sinus headaches and watery eyes. (Hence the little bottle of eye drops in my medicine cabinet.)

What is it about the contents of medicine cabinets that makes people want to peek inside? Anyone with something truly interesting to hide should know better than to store it there.

Or get really good at rigging booby traps.

Camera: Canon 40D with 430EX Speedlite, 1/125s, f/2.8 at ISO 500

Thursday, March 18, 2010

348/365 Something seasonal: asparagus

This isn't a sight we see (naturally) in the winter months in Indiana, so finding asparagus in my produce bin must mean that spring is inching closer.

I'll admit that asparagus has never been at the top of my list of favored vegetables. I can't say for sure why not; I can't even remember the last time I actually gave it a chance and took a bite. And yet I've said "pass" whenever it's come my way.

But my new-and-improved state of mind when it comes to increasing my daily vegetable intake has made me more open to giving it a second chance.

What about you? Where does asparagus rank in your personal list of vegetables?

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens and 430EX Speedlite, 1/125s, f/2.8 at ISO 800

347/365 New theme: something seasonal

Time for a new theme! This one is "something seasonal."

It reflects my optimistic state of mind lately, because signs of the arrival of spring have been popping up all over the place. And that makes me very happy.

Even though we've had some dreary days filled with rain and gray clouds, it's easier to feel good about it, because at least now we know that rainfall will breathe life back into everything green.

And spring in Indiana does mean we're going to get rain. A whole lot of it.

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD1000 at about 8:00 p.m.

346/365 Broadening my cooking horizons

Time to break out of the norm.

I signed up for Farm Fresh Delivery not only to encourage myself to get a big variety of fresh food in my diet, but also to encourage myself to cook more and try new recipes.

I've got goal number one down pat. Check it off the list. I love getting my produce delivery every other week!

Time to tackle goal number two. One way to do it? Pick some recipes from the fabulous cook books I have (which have primarily been functioning as dust-gatherers to this point). The Better Homes & Gardens must-have New Cook Book. Two Rachel Ray selections. The latest from Curtis Stone (Suggestion for the editors: on your next release, offer an edition that features audio of his spoken instructions. I guarantee sales will soar even higher!).

I've been flipping through these, page by page, marking recipes that catch my eye with some of my fantastic, trusty Post-it flags.

No, I haven't made anything new yet, because the organizer in me wants to finish perusing all pages before I start narrowing it down. But it's certainly whetting my appetite!

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

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

345/365 Is it food or is it soap?

Notice something in this photo?

The humor in this struck me after I made a pot of soup for dinner and shortly thereafter took a shower. I'd call it diversification, wouldn't you?

Which came first, the chicken base or the shower scrub?

Having studied marketing and operating in the industry for several years, this is a sales/marketing concept that comes up over and over and over again. Can your product be used for anything besides its originally intended use?

Arm & Hammer Baking Soda is a classic example of a creative marketing strategy that expanded the product's reach. People had been using baking soda in baking for ages, so to fuel growth, Arm & Hammer ran a campaign that focused on the myriad of other uses for its product. Deodorize your fridge! Use it when you do laundry! Scrub tough-to-clean pans! Extinguish grease fires!

It looks to me like the maker of this simple, round container may have done something similar.

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

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

344/365 Raw sugar

Even though I enjoyed it, I didn't take many science classes after I started college. (Choosing to pursue a degree in the journalism school will do that to you.) Physics was my favorite science in high school for two main reasons: math came easily to me (and that's a huge part of physics), and I could see the concepts at work.

I could draw a diagram to help me solve a problem. "If car A is traveling at 60mph, and car B is traveling toward the same point at 45mph from a distance 32 miles farther away, how much longer will it take for car B to reach the destination?" I can picture the situation in my head.

Chemistry? I'm cool with balancing equations (more math). Biology? Get me past the minuscule cell-level discussion and you've got me. But mitochondria, ribosomes, cytoplasm... that was tougher. Because I literally couldn't see it.

The part of biology I did always enjoy was gazing into the microscope and seeing the makeup of minute objects with my own eyes. Ordinary materials we take for granted every day have characteristics that you just can't see with the naked eye.

For instance? Table salt and refined sugar. Any pint-sized prankster knows they look awfully similar. But under a microscope? Their structures are completely different.

I'm sure that's one reason I like raw sugar (pictured above). Not only is it a little better for your health, because it hasn't been refined as much as your standard white sugar, but it reminds me of discovering things under a microscope as a kid. I can even photograph it.

What about you? Is there an aspect of science class that you miss?

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

Monday, March 15, 2010

343/365 Special yearly dessert

It's March, which means that it's time for my parents' anniversary and Dad's birthday. Those two celebrations mean that Mom makes Dad's favorite pie, which he devours over the next three (if even that long) days.

This special, family-recipe, lovingly tweaked pie (which I photographed last year at this same time) may not look like anything amazing -- there's no chocolate; no rich, distinct flavors; no syrupy fruit filling -- but it's a great dessert disguised in a simple blend of unassuming ingredients.

All held together in a graham-cracker crust. (Sorry, not giving away the secret recipe today.)

Yum. Am I the only one who's hungry now? This food theme may have been a bad idea.

Camera: Canon 40D with 430EX Speedlite, 1/60s, f/4 at ISO 640

Friday, March 12, 2010

342/365 Tiny food photo

This is what I love about a macro lens: highlighting very small subjects and details that you can't with most other lenses.

Following the food theme for this week, this is a sweet one -- any idea what it is before I tell you?

These little red, pink and white spheres would fit on the head of a pin. They're not even the size of a BB.

Figure it out yet? They're sprinkles, like you'd use in decorating sweets. I haven't adorned anything with sprinkles in a long time, but this sure does make me want to ice some cupcakes!

What was the last thing you decorated with sprinkles?

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

341/365 New theme: food!

A week has passed, so it's time for a change of theme!

Warning to you: it may make you hungry, because "Food" is my new subject of choice.

To kick things off, I'll start with the beginning of the day -- breakfast.

I'm sure it originates with the encouragement of a parent who wouldn't let me leave the house without it, but I've never been a person who could skip breakfast. I don't know about you, but I wake up hungry every day.

My breakfast of choice lately, especially in the winter months, has been oatmeal. Old-fashioned rolled oats, with dried cranberries, almonds, milled flax seed, cinnamon, a little raw sugar, and a splash of milk. With two hard-boiled egg whites on the side for extra protein. Oh my. So good. Why skip that?

When I started at this job over a year ago, one of the first things many of my new coworkers raved about was a weekly tradition: Friday-morning staff breakfasts. Everyone in the company takes turns cleaning the kitchen for a week at a time. With more than 40 people in the building, the chore really isn't that bad, because you only have to do it about once a year.

The grand finale of your cleaning week consists of providing breakfast for everyone. Breakfast for 40. And boy, is it a hit.

Most commonly you'll see bagels, doughnuts, juice, and fresh fruit. I personally love it when people get creative and do something different.

My turn was last week, and I chose to do an oatmeal buffet of sorts. I got two kinds of oatmeal, provided granola, vanilla yogurt, and milk, and had several kinds of mix-ins on hand to spice it up. There was actually quite a bit of food left over, so I don't think it was as bit a hit as I'd have liked, but at least it was healthy and something different!

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens and 430EX Speedlite, 1/80s, f/2.8 at ISO 1000

Thursday, March 11, 2010

340/365 Hidden letter in an eyelash curler

Take a guess at the hidden letter here. I saw both a lowercase "d" and a "p," depending on which way you turned it.

As a young woman who does indeed wear makeup, and has for years, an eyelash curler has become a daily tool in my arsenal.

And I find it really funny that many men seem to be completely intimidated by this little gadget. Have you had that same experience?

Yes, you're putting a metal tool near your eye. And yes, if you don't release your lashes before pulling your hand away from your face, you will definitely lose some lashes.

But keep the phrase "be gentle" in your mind, and with a little practice you'll do just fine. No need to freak out.

Go ahead. Try it. You know you're curious. I won't tell. (Though I'd love to hear about your experience when you're done!)

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens and 430EX Speedlite, 1/125s, f/2.8 at ISO 800

339/365 Hidden letter in a hand weight

These hand weights look like capital "I"s to me, so that's the hidden letter in this photo.

After so many years of using them, in lots of different styles, I've become picky about my hand weights. One thing I like about these is the textured coating, because it is comfortable in my hand and provides some extra grip.

They also don't make a "clang!" sound when you bump the ends together. That gets old after a while.

What about you? Do you use hand weights in your workout routine? Have you found there are certain styles you like more than others?

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

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

338/365 Hidden letter in a chair

This letter certainly isn't hiding, is it?

My decorating taste tends to favor rich, saturated colors (as you can easily see here). My kitchen features a turquoise accent wall, a bright red chair, and this bright yellow chair.

I can definitely say that it's been nice to be surrounded by cheery color through the long, gray, winter days. I don't feel like I'm terribly impacted by the seasonal affective disorder, but I absolutely know that my spirits lift when the sun shines.

Have you used any tricks to keep your spirits up through the winter?

Camera: Canon 40D with 430EX Speedlite, 1/250s, f/4.5 at ISO 400

337/365 Hidden letter in a candle

No need to stress your brain trying to figure out the hidden letter in this photo! The O nearly jumps right out at you.

I know, I know, Os are probably one of the easiest letters to find. I like several different things about this photo, though: The dark tones made by the candle only being lit by the flame. The perfectly centered subject (so often said to be a no-no in photography, but aren't rules meant to be broken?). And not just one O, but several in concentric circles.

Makes things a little more complex, doesn't it?

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

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

336/365 Hidden letter in a geode

Hidden letter day 3!

I have to say, I really like this one because it's not immediately obvious. I had to pick up the rock and turn it every which way to see the letter.

I see a lowercase R. Do you see something different?

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

335/365 Hidden letter in an antique bed frame

Here's the I-Spy-like themed photo for the day, and it's a pretty easy one. The hidden letter here? S.

You don't find many bed frames as sturdy as this anymore. It's antique, wrought-iron, and weighs a ton. And yet, when I was making the paint-color decisions for this room in my house, I wanted the room to have a light, calm feeling.

It's kind of amazing how such a heavy object, when painted white and paired with light blue, can lend itself to that kind of tone in a room. But it does!

Camera: Canon 40D with 430EX Speedlite, 1/125s, f/4 at ISO 400

Monday, March 8, 2010

334/365 New theme: hidden letters

Time for a new theme! Next up? Hidden Letters.

This one could be a real challenge.

Over the next week, I'll be looking at ordinary scenes and objects to see if I can find a letter of the alphabet represented in the shape.

See the letter here? I saw an A.

It's a bit like playing I Spy through photos, isn't it?

Camera: Canon 40D with 430EX Speedlite, 1/125s, f/3.5 at ISO 200

333/365 Movement in yoga

Long-exposure photos are great for illustrating movement, so for this photo, I spent some time trying a sequence of yoga poses. This resulting photo is the one I found most interesting.

It's a progression from extended side-angle pose to a bound variation. Binding adds an extra stretch to the pose and also ensures that all of your weight is on your feet, rather than shared with your hand for balance.

It's one of my favorites to do. Do you practice yoga? What's a favorite pose of yours?

Camera: Canon 40D, 2 seconds, f/3.5 at ISO 100

Thursday, March 4, 2010

332/365 Dripping water

Many times you'll see water droplets photographed using a very fast shutter speed, in order to freeze that motion of the splash coming back up out of the water.

(I love those!)

For this long exposure shot, I went the other direction and slowed the shutter speed down. Instead of seeing the individual, suspended-in-midair droplet, you see a falling streak. And for the resulting waves on the surface of the water, you get gentle ripples.

It may not be as exciting in this setting, but using that technique to photograph flowing water is a tried-and-true way to make a water landscape exude calmness.

Boy, that makes me want to take a vacation. Where's a beautiful waterfall when I need one?

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/30s, f/4.5 at ISO 1600

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

331/365 Pen pal trinkets

Did you have a pen pal as a kid?

I had several, but I kept in touch with one named Caroline for ten years or more. We wrote letters regularly (several times a year), sending each other little trinkets, cassette tapes with messages so we could hear each other's voice, photos... her stories of her small town in Texas were fascinating as a kid.

I actually still have every single one of her letters in a dedicated shoe box. I've tossed all my other pen pals' letters in various spring cleaning purges over the years, but I can't part with hers.

The little bottles in this photo (they're each about 4-5 inches tall) are old-style perfume bottles that I got during the time I was writing to Caroline. I got us each one of these at a little mom-and-pop gift store in a small town, and sent her one as a gift ("We each have one now!"). I think of her every time I see them.

For this long-exposure photograph, I used the light from the TV in a dark room to light the bottles.

Did you have a pen pal? Or two? Or ten?

Camera: Canon 40D, 4 seconds, f/4 at ISO 100, lit by the glow from the television.

Monday, March 1, 2010

330/365 Potato or tater, take your pick

These are some very skilled, practiced potato-peeling hands.

Or "tater-peelin'" if you feel so inclined.

Whenever I hear someone say "tater", I'm reminded of an overheard conversation that happened more than 10 years ago.

My family was traveling in Austria with our clogging team, performing for 10 days around the country. A few other teams were traveling with us, several of which were from states in the south.

At one venue, a husband and wife were having a conversation nearby. The husband was talking about "taters," when his wife, clearly frustrated about his continual mispronunciation of the word, said to him:

"They're not taters! They're PUH-taters!"

I'll never forget that.

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/6s, f/5.6 at ISO 160