Thursday, February 28, 2013

Finding Your Eye: Journey Of Fascination ~ Apologizing

This weeks photo journal assignment for Kat's Finding Your Eye: Journey of Fascination starts with a question.   Have you ever apologized about any aspect of your photography? My answer is "YES." Many times I have felt the need to apologize or make excuses for my photos.
When I first started this journey into photography I didn’t know anything about photography. I had a small point and shoot camera and just took snapshots. Through blogging I was exposed to some of the most beautiful photographs. I spend hours looking at blogs, mainly the photographs. I knew this was something I wanted to do. I fell in love with photography. I was fascinated with nature, especially macro images of nature. As I started sharing more photos on my blog and taking photo prompt classes, I began to compare my photos to others. That’s when I listened to that inner voice that said I wasn’t good enough. I didn’t have the right equipment or the knowledge to be good enough.

Do you want to hear what my definition of a real photographer was? Pay attention to the word "was" in that last sentence, I no longer feel this way. A photographer is:
  • someone with the top-of-the-line name brand camera and several expensive lens
  • someone that always, always shoots in manual
  • someone that never used auto focus
  • someone that knows everything about their camera and can adjust settings without thinking
  • someone that gets it right in camera
  • someone that sells their images

I certainly didn’t measure up to my idea of a real photographer.
I'm going to be brave and just share several secrets with you about my photography.
  • I own a Sony, not a Nikon or Cannon. When I bought my first dSLR camera, I was terrified that someone would ask me the brand I chose. I felt others would look down on a Sony.
  • I'd rather shoot macro images with my point and shoot camera, even though I have a nice dSLR camera and two macro lens. For one thing, I don't have trouble with camera shake or the hassle of a tripod.
  • I don't think I've ever shot in manual, I use the program mode, aperture, or shutter priority.
  • Here's a really bad one, I use auto focus a lot! On my Sony camera, I set my focus area and then let the camera focus while I use both hands to steady the camera.
  • I do not know all the bells and whistles on my camera.
  • Even when I learn about my camera, I have a tendency to forget that knowledge when I'm out shooting.
  • I have never sold an image and never plan to.
  • I rarely get it just right in the camera. I always have to add a little contrast or color adjustment or crop.
  • Yes, I said crop! I do crop my pictures, sometimes severely!
There it is, all written down in a list!  Now you see why I didn't think I measured up to my "photographer" definition.

Slowly, and I mean slowly, my confidence has been building. I now can say that I am a photographer. I now realize that I can take pictures with what I have. If I’m pleased with the images from my camera, why does it matter what name is across the front. I now realize that I can take pictures the way I want of what I want. My photos are an expression of myself not someone else. I’m now trying to focus more on the reasons I love photography. Most of time it’s not even the end results...the photo. It’s the inner joy I receive when I’m out with my camera capturing nature’s beauty. It’s the proud feeling I get when I try something new and it works. It's the pleasure I receive when I share the beauty of nature with others and I receive kind comments.
Building self-confidence doesn’t happen over night, I still have many moments when I feel unworthy. There are times when I find it hard to push the button and share my photos.

One last thing, all the images on this post were taken with a Fuji FinePix f31 point and shoot camera using the macro setting. I let the camera choose the exposure settings and focus, and then  I cropped. I will say I love these images. I'm proud of them. I am the photographer who took them.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Walk and Click Wednesdays ~ February 27, 2013

Taking a Walk this week just didn't happen!  The weather was rainy, rainy, rainy and cold, cold, cold!! Sunday was pretty, but we worked in the yard. Monday it was raining again! Yesterday, I had some errands to run, so you'll just have to walk with me and I'll show you where I shopped.
First stop, Pinwheel Fabrics, my favorite quilting/fabric store. I  had to pick up fabric for a quilt class that I'm taking and I needed a spool of thread.
Across the drive from the shop is an old building. If you peek through the window you can see a couple of antique sewing machines.
Next I'm headed to Baby's R Us. My fifth grandson will be born in April. It was time for me to pick up a few gifts. By the way, Aimee if you're reading this, I didn't take a picture of what I bought! You're just going to have to wait until the shower!
Then it was on to Hobby Lobby to pick up a photo album for another class I'm taking, Finding Photo Freedom with Big Picture Classes.  This class is designed to help set up a system of organization for my digital images, as well as my prints. It involves a lot of work, but the end results will be worth it!
One last stop at the library, to pick up two books I had requested.
That's about it for this day!

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Monday, February 25, 2013

Exploring With A Camera ~ Editing Blur

It’s time again for Kat from Kat Eye Studio and her Exploring With A Camera. This month we are continuing the exploration of blur. Last month we used our camera to create the artistic blur, this month we’re using post-processing. Artist Blur, as Kat states, "is, at some level, about imperfection.” Imperfection, I like that. Not every image has to be absolutely 100% in focus or perfect to be beautiful. I rarely use post-processing other than adding contrast, cropping, adjusting light, and sometimes adding a very subtle vignette (blurring) around the edges. It’s not that I don’t like post-proccessed images. I do! I’m fascinated with the beautiful images that can be created. My style of photography is just different.
This exploration has me stretching and learning a little about  using software to edit images. I have Picasa and I've used PicMonkey. Another thing that hinders my post-processing is that I only have a laptop. I’m never quite sure what the photo looks like. You know how it is, push the screen back and it gets darker, pull it forward and it lightens up. For all I know my images may be really dark or really light!
Now on to the exploration. This image of a covered bridge in one of our city parks was taken on a fairly bright day. In post-processing, I wanted to blur the background and foreground, letting the eye focus on the bridge. In PicMonkey I added a Kim Klassen texture “Dream It” and a PicMonkey texture “metal screen.” I erased the texture on the actual bridge leaving the background and foreground blurred.
This image was taken in the fog. I once again went to PicMonkey and used a Kim Klassen texture called “painterly." I like the color it added to the background. I think it added a touch of mystery.
The blur on this flower was created in Picasa. First, I added a little contrast and color boost. Then, I used the focal zoom feature to add blur, erasing the blur on the flower center. Lastly, I added glow and a soft vignette.

Kat has a beautiful image of trees that she showed for one of her examples using mutiple images. I just had to try this one. I took three consecutive images a few seconds apart. The wind was blowing so the clouds and trees were moving. In Picasa I stacked the three photos on top of each other creating this image with a blurred look. I then added a little softness, darkened it a little, and added a vignette edge.
I liked stacking photos so much, I went into my archives and picked two different images and stacked those. One is of trees that I had blurred by moving my camera and the other is a shot of a sycamore seedpod.
Thanks, Kat, for another challenging, yet fun, Exploring With a Camera. I can definitely see why post-editing could get addicting.

I just read that Kat will be discontinuing her Exploring With A Camera series. While I will truly miss her explorations, I understand that sometimes changes need to be made.  I cannot even begin to tell you how much these explorations have taught me! Thank you, Kat, from the bottom of my heart!  She  will still be sharing her talent and knowledge on her web site and through her fantastic courses! 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Finding Your Eye: Journey Of Fascination

The Eye Of A Photographer

What exactly is that?
The Eye of a photographer is what Kat has us looking at in our latest assignment for Finding Your Eye: Journey of Fascination. She asked us to find an object, photograph it, study it, sketch it, and then photograph it again. Sketching  helps us to look more closely at the shape, light, shadows, lines, and details.
I chose a vintage spool of thread, sat it on the table in front of me, and studied it. Then I grabbed my camera and took a few shots from different angles. I found myself focusing on the wooden spool.
Then, I sketched it. I worked on the shape of the spool and the lines of thread, then I began sketching the label. That’s when my eyes began to see more. I saw the smudges of age, the tears in the paper, the jagged hole that was punched out as the spool was put on a sewing machine spindle, the words, and the numbers. I began to see the tiny details.
I'm not going to apoligize for my sketch. It is what it is; a sketch by a person who knows very little about drawing. I've been reading a lot of discussions about apologizing for our art work. In fact I've already peeked at our next assignment with Kat and you'll be hearing more about that in a future post! Kat's assignments have not only played a big part in my growth as a photographer, they have also made me braver!!
My sketch makes me think of when I was in the seventh grade.  I was supposed to be in choir, but my schedule was messed up and I was in an art class. I remember the teacher watching me trying to draw a picture of a vase and making the comment, with a smile, that she thought I was better suited for choir than art. She was nice about it and I definitely agreeded!!  I don’t know who was more relieved when the mistake was corrected; me or the teacher! 
I'm rambling! I'd better get back to this assignment. When I took the images of the spool before I sketched it, I was focused on the spool itself. When I took the images after I sketched it, I was intriqued by something totally different...the label. I positioned the end of the spool in better light and focused on the label. The act of sketching made me see the object differently.
I have a sketch book, but I've only used three pages in it. I'm going to change that and sketch more often to train my eyes to see things more than one way.

To me a photographer’s eye is:
seeing with the eyes and heart,
looking for the best light and angle, and
capturing what I've seen in a pleasing photo.

No matter what camera you use,
it is not the camera
but your artistic eyes
who makes the photograph.
~ Taga Creekside


Friday, February 22, 2013

Find Your Eye: Journey of Fascination - Creative Breakthrough

Thinking, digging deep, puzzling, researching, studying; those are some of things I’ve been doing for the last few days. I've been trying to write my photo journal for Kat’s Find You Eye: Journey of Fascination course. Our assignment was to look for creative breakthroughs in our photography. This was tough for me, really tough. First, I got hung up on the word creative. I struggled with the idea of my photography being creative.   So, I looked it up the definition.  I have no idea why, but I love words and love to look them up in the dictionary.
  • relating to or involving the imagination or original ideas, esp. in the production of an artistic work
  • characterized by originality and expressiveness
See that word "original" that was my problem. When I think of creative I think of someone who has  an original idea and proceeds to produce a specific result. My photography ideas don't seem original to me. When I try something new, it’s usually because I’ve seen another photographer’s work or read about it and wanted to see if I can recreate it. Then, I reread the definition and saw the words "involving the imagination" and "expressiveness." While I was in the dictionary I also looked up breakthrough.
  • A sudden, dramatic, and important discovery or development

Put them both together and you have "an important discovery involving imagination or expressiveness."  Now this I could relate to. I have made a few important discoveries with my photography. Maybe not sudden or dramatic, but important none the less!

I would say the very first breakthrough was shortly after I began this bog. I was taking an online journaling class to help with my scrapbooking. It was suggested that we start a blog as a way to practice writing. It didn't take me long to realize there was a whole big world of photography out there. My desire was to take photos "like that!"

Another break through came when I discovered photography classes. I started out with prompt classes and then moved to deeper classes like Kat's Finding Your Eye series. Later, I also took a macro photography class. Not only was I learning about photography and my camera, but I was blessed with meeting many online friends who have a big influence on my photography.

With the idea of discovery in mind, I selected six images from my inspiration folder that I was especially pleased with and that showed growth in my photography. I studied these images asking myself some questions.
What was I doing at the time?
All but one of the six images were taken during times that I was participating in classes, challenges, or blog link-ups. It seems class teachings and viewing the images of others gives me the extra push I need to improve or try something new. As you can imagine during these specific times I was spending a lot of time with my camera.
Was I creating something specific or was it accidental?
Half of the images were taken trying to accomplish something specific by experimenting and half were taken when I was trying to improve photography skills.
What made them special?
The results of learning something new and improving photograph skills doesn’t always turn out well. The images I chose were special because I accomplished what I set out to do and I was pleased with the results. I do believe that I would be able to recreate them again.
There’s one thing for sure if you take one of Kat’s courses, she will make you dig deep and think! That in itself has improved my photography in many ways. Kat has shown me how to put my heart into my photography.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Third Thursday Challenge ~ February 21, 2013

One of the things I love about photography is the many, many ways one can create interesting images with a camera. I ran across a magazine "50 Photo Projects" recently. It has several projects that are doable for someone like me, who doesn't have a lot of extra equipment. For this month's Third Thursday Challenge I gave one of their projects a try.
still life silhouette

On my morning walk I picked a variety of weeds, looking for different shapes. I then set up my little studio. All I needed was copy paper, camera, tripod, weeds, and a vase. I taped the paper to a glass door, placed the weeds in a vase in front of it, and set up my camera. The article even gave suggested camera settings, which is always a big help for me! I like the end results. It was a whole new way to use my macro lens and see nature.
I would have never tried this if it hadn't been for Brenda's Third Thursday Challenge. Her monthly challenge gives me that little extra push I need to look for new ways to use my camera. The challenge is not all about photography. You can try something new in any medium.
You should come join us!!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Walk and Click Wednesdays ~ February 20, 2013

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This week my wandering spirit led me to Maumelle Park near the Arkansas River.
There was a crisp, chilly wind blowing across the water.
As I wandered through the park I was surprised to see an old cemetery on a hill almost hidden by a wood fence. It was terribly neglected; fallen limbs, high weeds, and many broken grave markers. I did a little research and discovered it is the Ives Cemetery. I imagine at one time there was a small community here along the river. Maybe the Ive's family had the extra land to donate for a community cemetery. The oldest marked grave was 1876.
The rest of the time was spent watching the birds and ducks.
Thankfully I had tucked my zoom lens in my camera bag!
I certainly gave it a good workout!
This guy made me laugh.
He hit the water at a very high rate of speed.
Guess there's no putting on the breaks!
This is my favorite image of the day.
Is this not precious?
A little one snuggling.
I want to thank Lissa at LAF Customs Designs for hosting this link up each week.
It makes me get outside,
wander around,
discover new things,
enjoy the beauty of Arkansas,
just breathe.
"He lives most life whoever breathes most air."
~Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Why don't you come join us?
Click on the button at the top of this post
to see what others have found this week.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Finding Your Eye: Journey of Fascination ~ Contrast Photo Walk

Wandering through the woods behind our house is something I enjoy doing several times a week. Usually I walk without purpose just going where my feet take me; discovering little bits of nature's beauty. This time was different. I had a mission. In the Finding Your Eye: Journey of Fascination class I'm taking with Kat Sloma our exercise this week was to take a photo walk looking for something specific...contrast. Contrast comes in many different forms:   light/dark, tall/short, shapes, colors, textures, or concepts. We often think of them as opposites. Contrast can be used to make photography more appealing. As Kat explains, contrast can "catch our eye and draw us in to look closer."
I found contrast in lines and dark/light.

I found contrast in colors; dull/bright and also a contrast of nature's beauty and man's carelessness.
When I came back into the yard, I noticed this old milk can. I found contrast in textures, a silky web created by a living creature and rough rust created by nature. There's also old can/new web, light/dark, shapes, and lines.
I ran across this photo in my archives. I remember the day I took it. I laughed when I saw these words in the sidewalk, especially when I noticed a puddle of water had made the word "private" darker. The contrasting concept, private/public, was what first caught my eye. The contrasts of color and lines added interest.  Notice where my feet are. A perfect description of me!.
As I searched through my inspiration folder I realized that I had many photos with contrasting elements. I may not see that as the reason I took the photo, but I definitely think it was part of what attracted me to the subject. I found this picture of my favorite seedpod. Nature never gets it wrong! Here you see an example of contrasting colors that are beautiful together and of contrasting shapes that create interest. Not only does the color attract attention, but the oval leaves, square seedpod, and round opening make this seedpod eye catching!
It was harder than I thought, looking for contrasts. Although it took me a while to get focused, I wasn't discouraged. I think the difficulty was the fact that when I walk in the woods, I just trek along until something unusual catches my eye. I had to really focus on looking carefully around me to see the contrasts. Finally the contrasts began to jump out at me. I wasn't looking for beauty or the perfect image. I was only concerned with focusing on contrast. I saw something, composed it and then snapped the shutter. I was outside a good while, never discouraged or ready to quit, The only thing that made me stop was my cold fingers, even though I had on gloves!   I knew it was time to end my walk, warm up, and see what I had captured. When I uploaded my images from the day, I realized I didn't consider any of them great images. And that's OK! The assignment was an exercise in training our eyes to look for contrasts and that's what I captured!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Scavenger Hunt Sunday ~ February 17, 2013

How was your Valentine week?
I hope you haven't seen enough hearts and
candy because today's prompts for
Ashley Sisk's Scavenger Hunt Sunday
just shouted Valentine's Day.
This week's prompts were:
pink or red

The classic Valentine candy.
Conversation hearts got their start in 1901.
pink or red
I know the prompt says pink or red,
but I'm giving you
pink and red.
First, the needle roll that I stitched several years ago is pink.
Second, a red heart.
I shaped this heart by breaking and placing small twigs on the ground,
then I changed the colors using the duo tone feature in Picasa.
I love being outside and enjoying the beauty of nature.
These Hershey Kisses
are a delicious blend of
white chocolate and raspberry.
I sent my grandsons a Valentine message on Facebook.
Thinking of them makes me smile.
Enjoy your day and spread a little love and kindnesss!

A bell is no bell 'til you ring it,
A song is no song 'til you sing it,
And love in your heart
Wasn’t put there to stay -
Love isn’t love
'Til you give it away.
~Oscar Hammerstein, Sound of Music, "You Are Sixteen"

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Wishing you a lovely Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Walk and Click Wednesdays ~ February 13, 2013

I like to wander.
I have a very strong irresistible urge to travel.
It does not matter whether it be near or far.
I only need a place to meander and explore.
I like my feet to tread where they've never gone before.
One step at a time at my own pace.
My wandering led me to Lake Catherine State Park.
Yesterday's post tells of a bad photography experience I had.
Today's post tells a much better story.
I followed a trail in search of a waterfall.
I heard the sounds of nature,
the rushing creek
the crunch of leaves beneath my feet,
and the birds singing.
As I wandered I saw spots of bright color
against the stark winter browns.

As I wandered I discovered small things
and enormous things.
As I wandered I felt childlike excitement
as my steps took me across a swinging bridge
that swayed and bounced.
As I wandered I became tired.
I sat on a bench looking out over the lake.
I soaked in the quiet,
the peace,
the beauty.
As I wandered my heart sped up with delight
when I stepped onto a huge rock ledge and
saw water flowing over the edge to the pool below.
As I wandered I praised God
for the spectacular beauty
of his magnificent creation.
I enjoyed sharing my wanderings with you.
I'm linking this post with

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