Karma's When I Feel Like It Blog

January 12, 2015

Snow Day Musing

It’s a snow day today. I am bummed. This is my last week of teaching and I was hoping to be able to enjoy every last moment available to me in “my” classroom. I’m sitting here at home with about an inch of snow on the ground, nothing currently falling from the sky. Supposedly there is to be a “wintry mix” approaching late morning into afternoon, and I guess that is the reason for the cancellation – possibility of difficulties at dismissal time, but right now it feels like a waste, especially for me.

I am hoping to focus back in on photography a little more this year. I’ve been perusing photography books I own, trying to learn a bit more about using Lightroom, and contemplating whether putting my old Photoshop Elements 7 program on this computer (if I can find my disk, darn it!) would be worthwhile for other types of tweaks that might not be possible in Lightroom. Elements is up to 13 now. Anyone using that program? Looks like the upgrade (I’m assuming this is for owners of previous versions of Elements) costs around $80. Worthwhile expenditure?

I’m looking a little bit at lenses too. Considering an 85mm portrait lens. Photos with faces in them are often the most interesting, aren’t they? The lens that would fit my camera that’s kind of in my price range (but still expensive!) does not have autofocus. The Canon version with autofocus is about $180 MORE than the no autofocus one. If I decide to invest in a lens, I want it to be something I will be able to make good use of. Thoughts or opinions there?

Speaking of lenses, I received a neat little gift for Christmas.
Lenses from Photojojo
This is a set of lenses for my iPhone from Photojojo. There’s a telephoto, a wide angle and a fisheye.

To show you a little comparison, here are some shots of my birdbath out in the snow (yup, I forgot to take it in for the winter – so far it seems to be okay), taken from my dining room window
Without telephoto
tightest view available from iPhone zoom

Tightest with the lens attached

Without wide angle
widest view without and…

Wide angle
with the wide angle lens.

The fisheye is fun to play with!
Fisheye 1
The mess of the living room on Christmas

Fisheye 2
Christmas desserts

Fisheye 3
snowy yard

Fisheye 4
Teddy has a peek outside


  1. I’ve been playing with Lightroom and just got Elements 13 (Amazon for $69.99). I started with PSE2, moved to 5, 7, 9, 11 and now 13. I think you’d see improvements going from 7 to 13. I suspect Lightroom would be something I’d be more in to if I shot in RAW, if I were more of a photographer. I seem to be mostly content with simply taking pictures.

    Comment by Carol — January 12, 2015 @ 11:30 am | Reply

    • I’m mostly content with just taking pictures too, but sometimes I get a little frustrated when the camera doesn’t see things as I do – that’s when I have the tendency to turn to my editing program.

      Comment by Karma — January 12, 2015 @ 7:03 pm | Reply

      • That’s how it is for me too. Sometimes I see the colors more brightly (bright?) and the shadows less dark.

        Comment by Carol — January 12, 2015 @ 7:50 pm

  2. Love the fish eye shots! They’re fun. πŸ™‚ I’ve been thinking about lenses, too, but don’t want to buy one I won’t use so I’m looking at renting them. I got a coupon for BorrowLenses.com, and, well, I don’t know. On the one hand, it seems a little expensive. Cheaper than buying, but I could put the cost of a rental towards buying a lens. On the other hand, if I’m not happy with the lens, I’ll find out without wasting my money buying it.

    I have a super old version of Photoshop (CS2, I think), and it does just enough to satisfy me. I think it depends on what you want to do as far as post-processing goes. I’m looking into Topaz Labs products. I will have to save up for a while because I’d like to get their bundle of all their products. It’s $470 (and that’s 50% off!!).

    Comment by Robin — January 12, 2015 @ 5:07 pm | Reply

    • Robin, I have the Topaz bundle. I won a copy online just as I was starting out on this photography thing. I mainly use Adjust, B&W Effects & Detail. The other pieces to the bundle I use on occasion but not as much as those three. Another possible solution is the onOne Perfect Photo Suite (http://www.ononesoftware.com/products/suite9).

      Comment by Mike — January 12, 2015 @ 6:57 pm | Reply

      • I’ve never heard of Topaz Labs. Is it strictly an online thing? Compatible with any type of platform?

        Comment by Karma — January 12, 2015 @ 7:05 pm

      • It is a download available for PC or Apple computers. You can get it for just Lightroom or for Lightroom & Photoshop/Elements.

        Comment by Mike — January 12, 2015 @ 7:08 pm

      • Thank you, Mike! I’ll check it out. πŸ™‚

        Comment by Robin — January 12, 2015 @ 8:01 pm

    • I’m maybe thinking about going for a used lens. I’ll scour eBay and such for a bit and see if I can find something for the right price I think. I’ve thought about trying to rent as well, but you are right when you think about the money spent could go toward a purchase. There is generally shipping charges on top of the rental cost too, I believe.

      Comment by Karma — January 12, 2015 @ 7:08 pm | Reply

  3. It’s fun playing around with camera settings, isn’t it? I don’t have a separate lens camera though, Mine is a Canon SX40, which I contemplated for some time before buying, and as my daughter reminded me, when I see something, I want to be able to grab the camera and take a photo on the spot. With a DSLR, I would have to fiddle with settings first, and I’m too impatient to do that! My Canon has auto-focus, and it’s brilliant! πŸ™‚

    Comment by Joanne — January 12, 2015 @ 5:40 pm | Reply

    • I really like the tack sharp focus of my lenses with auto focus, which is why I worry about trying a lens without it. Then I think, well, if I’m trying portraits, the subject should be still enough to get a manual focus right. Then I dither back and think, well, if I’m going to spend the money, I should be able to use the lens for subjects that aren’t necessarily still as well!

      Comment by Karma — January 12, 2015 @ 7:07 pm | Reply

      • It sounds like you need both styles of camera! πŸ™‚

        Comment by Joanne — January 15, 2015 @ 10:37 pm

  4. If you already have Lightroom then I would suggest continue learning with that program. 90% of my processing is accomplished inside of Lightroom. You can check out Andrew S. Gibson (http://www.andrewsgibson.com/blog/) for some well written ebooks on Lightroom and tutorial articles on his blog. I have quite a few of his books and I have learned something from every one of them. Once you run into a processing problem you can not solve with Lightromm then I would look into an upgraded version of Elements. Another option is the Adobe Creative Cloud subscription for photographers. For $9.99 a month you get Lightroom and Photoshop (the full version). I signed up about 6 months ago and have been very happy with it.

    I like the lenses for your iPhone. You will probably have the most fun with the fish eye lens. Sorry to hear about the teaching gig but I’ll be looking forward to all the pictures you will be capturing. πŸ˜‰

    Comment by Mike — January 12, 2015 @ 6:51 pm | Reply

    • Thanks for the suggestion Mike. I know I’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg with Lightroom as far as its capabilities and I do need to learn more about it.

      Comment by Karma — January 12, 2015 @ 7:10 pm | Reply

  5. I love your place!! So amazing, beautiful, pure white & divine. Must say, the captures are wonderful. I’m not too aware of the lenses and which ones better than the other etc. so no suggestions here.
    Wishing you the best in terms of photography this year.. looking forward to any challenges announced by you too.

    Comment by sonali — January 12, 2015 @ 10:52 pm | Reply

    • Thanks Sonali. Perhaps I will become inspired with some photo hunt ideas this year. πŸ™‚

      Comment by Karma — January 13, 2015 @ 4:15 pm | Reply

  6. It seems with your passion for teaching that another opportunity is bound to present itself. With the changes in education so many teachers are just burnt out. I would suggest browsing Canon’s refurbished store. The lenses come with a warranty and the prices are much cheaper than brand new. Also, this site http://www.canonpricewatch.com/ allows you to be notified when your desired lens goes below a certain price point. I have lenses for my iPhone but I don’t often use them, a fun one that I don’t have is the new Lensbaby for iPhone. I’ve seen photos with this effect and they are quite lovely. My kids loved the snow day, of course. All I can think is that our summer vacation is now one day shorter.

    Comment by Becky Sue — January 13, 2015 @ 8:28 am | Reply

    • I certainly hope you are right about the teaching opportunity!
      Thank you for the suggestions on the Canon lenses, I will check those out!

      Comment by Karma — January 13, 2015 @ 4:17 pm | Reply

  7. I had no idea there was such a thing as a lens for a phone. Soon we won’t need cameras (the old kind anyway) at all!

    Comment by Dawn — January 14, 2015 @ 8:53 pm | Reply

  8. Wait a minute. Why is this your last week of teaching? It’s not the end of the school year!?

    Comment by Dawn — January 14, 2015 @ 8:54 pm | Reply

    • My teaching job this year was temporary; my principal asked me to be the long term sub for a maternity leave. I will continue to work at my same school in a paraprofessional position for the rest of the school year.

      Comment by Karma — January 17, 2015 @ 7:57 am | Reply

  9. Oh that “fish eye” is so much fun. That sucks about school being cancelled for 2 inches of snow.

    Interested in hearing what you learn about “Lightbox”. I don’t have any special programs for messing with photos — just the free bee that came with the computer.

    Comment by sybil — January 17, 2015 @ 1:24 pm | Reply

    • Did you mean “Lightroom” Sybil, lol? πŸ˜‰

      Comment by Karma — January 18, 2015 @ 8:40 am | Reply

  10. It looks like you are having so much fun with those lenses, Karma. I was thinking about you yesterday and how it’s the end of your temporary teaching job. Hoping that–if it’s your desire–that you find another job teaching. Did you like it more than being a parapro? Or are you ready to return to that aspect of teaching?

    Comment by Kathy — January 18, 2015 @ 1:29 pm | Reply

    • I’d love to be able to secure a teaching job in the school where I work right now – there could be openings in the math department in the not too distant future, so my focus right now is getting myself ready to take the math teacher’s test. Not so easy when college is so far behind me! But I’m working through with the help of test workbooks, the internet and Sarah who just finished high school calculus! I absolutely loved teaching these kids. I’m sure part of it was because it was a subject matter that I’m very comfortable with – I taught 6th grade math after being a 6th grade para for 9 years. I’m going to be working as a para again, but in a different aspect than what I’ve been used to all these years. I’m trying to be as positive as possible about it, but no if I could have kept this position for the whole school year I would have been thrilled to do that rather than return to being a para (not to mention the money aspect – para’s do not make a living wage. My long term teaching pay was wonderful to get and I am doing my best to conserve what I have left of it) Sorry for the “novella” of an answer to your question!

      Comment by Karma — January 19, 2015 @ 8:46 am | Reply

      • I never mind reading a novella and am happy that you shared. Hoping you find a job in the math department in the near future!

        Comment by Kathy — January 19, 2015 @ 6:52 pm

  11. well, did you ever decide on which lens to get? hope you’re having a good week!

    Comment by Kate — February 1, 2015 @ 2:32 pm | Reply

    • Hi Kate. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about this. I think I really want the Canon brand lens – it is the only one of this type that has auto-focus, and I’m really looking for good, tack-sharp focus. So now I’ve been watching eBay and such for prices on used ones. I just missed a $50 rebate from Canon on a new one unfortunately.

      Comment by Karma — February 1, 2015 @ 2:38 pm | Reply

  12. […] In this post from a January snow day, I was playing with the lenses for my iPhone and I showed you my front yard with bird bath visible. Have a look at where the snow is on that bird bath now: […]

    Pingback by Guess what? It’s another snow day! | Karma's When I Feel Like It Blog — February 9, 2015 @ 10:46 am | Reply

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