Karma's When I Feel Like It Blog

December 5, 2010

A Party Day

Filed under: Uncategorized — Karma @ 8:51 pm
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Teddy was ready for a party! But, no, he didn’t get to go.  Daphne and Teddy had to be content with the new marrow bones they received as bribery for good behavior while we were to be out of the house for many hours.

Saturday was one of those days that I look forward to: one spent with great friends.  This group of friends has a unique relationship.  We are a group of five couples who have been friends for 20+ years. We started out as young singles, and now our teenaged kids are friends with each other.  It is a wonderful feeling.  We met up at one couple’s house for a Christmas get-together.

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Their tree looked gorgeous set up in the big picture window, and gave me the chance to play a bit more with the 50mm lens.

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Ooh! Christmas light bokeh! Yay, my first shot at it this year.

We had a great day of awesome food, good wine, a Yankee gift swap of “white elephants”, game playing ( I was introduced to “Apples to Apples” – have you ever played?  A ton of fun!) and laughter to the point of tears.

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Ingredients for food made for pot-luck dinner: $23

Bottle of wine: $1o

Filling tank of gas before hour-long ride: $50

Day spent with the best of friends: Priceless

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November 26, 2010

My plants are confused!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Karma @ 5:04 pm
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We’ve made an awful lot about the fact that we had one of the most fabulous summers in memory this year and that autumn has been relatively mild so far, with even some unseasonably warm days mixed in there.  Apparently, the warmth has been enough to confuse a few plants into beginning their spring growth about four months early!  I was drawn out into the yard today (though it is NOT unseasonably warm) because I noticed an abundance of red decorating some trees in the backyard.  It also seemed like a good excuse to try out the new 50 mm lens.  Teddy was at the ready to accompany me as Official Backyard Guide.

Yard escort, at my service

(taken with the new lens)

Upon closer inspection, the decorative red turned out to be a giant weed of bittersweet.  Unimpressive at 50mm, I took a close-up instead with the 55-250:
It is but bittersweet...

I was undeterred, and continued looking around a somewhat bleak yard for interesting photo subjects.  That was when I discovered many plants believing it is actually March rather than November:

Hydrangea with new leaves

Those are new leaves on the tippy-tops of those otherwise dead looking hydrangea canes.

New growth on butterfly bushes

Fresh young leaves on the butterfly bushes

Herbs live!

Parsley and chives continuing to grow (though the basil checked out quite a while ago) with fur of OBG sneaking into the corner of the shot.

Each year when I plant my whiskey barrel planter with annuals, I always include a spike plant as an accent piece.  For the past few years, my girls and I have marvelled at Spike’s staying power into the colder months – it has sometimes made it almost to the new year.  This year, when I replanted my barrel with mums, there wasn’t room for Spike, but I didn’t have the heart to just chuck him to the compost heap, so I replanted him in a small planter on the deck with a mini-rose that had long finished blooming for the year:

Spike lives!

Spike is still living, but more suprisingly, that mini-rose is too.  Roses are little more than expensive annuals for me, for the most part, so I’m surprised to see this mini hanging on. (Notice OBG fur and toes accompany this shot)

Teddy poses

OBG poses with one drop of water on nose.  His services were no longer required as I took my search to the front yard.  The front yard is not fenced in.  It distresses OBG to not be allowed to be an Official Frontyard Guide.

The front yard revealed daffodils poking up:
Daffodils poking up in November

and irises as well:

confused iris growing in November

Sorry about the lack of sharp focus there.  My fingers were getting quite chilled in the wind.  I may need to pick up some of those photographer’s gloves Michaela mentioned in the comments of Scott’s blog post about Christmas ideas for photographers.  In addition, I also found buds on my lilac trees, but try as I might,  I could not get a focused shot of one of the tiny buds.  The wind was blowing  and I was getting colder and frustrated.  I hope Mother Nature knows what she’s up to and doesn’t let her son Snow Miser wreck havoc on my plants!

September 9, 2010

A Dog and his Bucket

Filed under: Uncategorized — Karma @ 8:15 pm
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Our collie Teddy has managed to find many lost “treasures” in our yard.  Toys and balls that our girls have long abandoned are fun treats for Teddy.  Among his treasures is a blue sand pail, that reminds me of pictures on I Can Has Cheezburger of the walrus and his bucket.  Teddy carries his bucket around the yard, tosses it about and chews on it.

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“Would someone like to play with me and mah bucket?”

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“Okay Teddy, here you go.  Get the bucket!”

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“I gots mah bucket!”

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“Hmmm, what’s in mah bucket? Any nom-noms?”
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“Actually, mah bucket is kinda nom-nom.”

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“Look, mah bucket can fly!”

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“C’mon, Teddy, give me the bucket!”

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“I want mah bucket back!  Give me mah bucket!”

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“Wait!  Are we all done playin’ with mah bucket?  Come back!  Please?”

July 11, 2010

First Shots with the Rebel

Filed under: Uncategorized — Karma @ 9:15 pm
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I am positively giddy with photo glee!  I spent some time today reading my new camera manual and taking some practice shots.  The shots are faaaarrrrrr from perfect, but for my first time out, I’m pretty darn happy!  I prematurely sounded the alarm to Brian this afternoon when I couldn’t figure out the whole situation with lenses and zooming and my macro lens, but with a bit more time thinking things through and some reassuring words from the FunkySlug, I happily clicked away.

Here’s a sampling of how things went.  I started out with the 18-55 lens and quickly discovered that this was the closest I could get to a miniature dahlia in one of my planters:
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Hmm, not quite as up close and personal as I am used to getting with flowers.  I switched to the 55-250mm, stepped back and zoomed in, and got this:
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Definitely better, but I wanted closer!  I attached my Raynox DCR-250 and got this:
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and this:
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Please forgive my lack of sharp focus here!  I was hand-holding the camera here when I should’ve been using a tri-pod.

Question now to you seasoned photographers: what size lens should I ask for for Christmas to get somewhere in-between?  I’m looking for frame-filling flower picture shots. 

Again not tack-sharp here, but I was pretty impressed with the magnification of this beetle.  In real life it was about 1/8″ long:
Macro beetle

That is a single blossom of butterfly bush that it is resting on.  To give you a frame of reference, one of these was its seat:
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The rest of the fun I had today was without the macro lens.  Teddy, who recenty got a post all of his own, was engaged in one of his favorite summertime activities today, “attack the water coming from the hose.”  Plants cannot be watered or pool toys be rinsed in this yard without also having to water the dog.  He insists upon it.  I joyfully snapped picture after picture of Teddy, thoroughly enjoying the complete lack of shutter lag and waiting for the camera to be ready again to take another shot.  I got a few shots (again not totally perfectly focused) very easily that I would have worked very hard for back when I was doing Scott’s exposure challenge.  I cheated a bit for today and used the “P” setting, which in this camera means it will choose the shutter speed and aperture for you while you pick ISO and play with manual focus.  Here’s what I got:

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This last shot cracks me up!  He looks so fierce and vicious, but that is the polar opposite of his personality.  Apparently, garden hose monster is a villian that must be vanquished!  When I got done laughing at this picture, I was kind of proud of what I captured.  All in all, not a bad first day with a DSLR!

July 9, 2010

A Year in a Dog’s Life … well, actually, a bit more

Filed under: Uncategorized — Karma @ 11:54 am
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Dog retrospective – number 2 in the voted on posts.

You may remember Teddy, my very willing participant for Scott’s challenge on exposure.
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Teddy is a 15-month-old tri-color collie who has been a part of our lives for just over a year now.  He is the latest addition to our family which includes our 8-year-old kitty Cedric and our almost-5-year-old golden retriever, Daphne. Daphne could end up being jealous that Teddy is the subject of this dog retrospective, but he is the easier subject!  Not only do I have but 1 year of Teddy photographs so far, all of his shots are easily digitally accessible.  I was certainly using digital photography in 2005 when Daphne came into our lives, but we have been through several hard drive failures in the years since her puppyhood; internet storage and flash drives were not so prevalent or cheap in those days!  Because I love having prints and photo albums, I have pictures of her early days, but I’d have to scan them to share them.  Perhaps some day!

We first met Teddy when he was about 6 weeks old.  A teacher that I work with owns beautiful collies, and they had a litter of 10 puppies.  We went to visit and decide if there was a puppy we’d like to have for our own.  We decided to get a male dog, since we already owned a female, and thought they would probably get along better.

A week later, we brought him home.

The poor little thing went without a name for weeks!  I felt bad, but we were having a difficult time deciding as a family what to name him.  We’ve always been particular about animal names around here.  We’ve never been fans of the typical.  Past pets have been named Ralph, Beau, Fred, Phooey, Phineus, Milo and Fergus.  We usually prefer “human” names (with the exception of Phooey) to the usual animal names.  You will never find a Bailey or a Rover or a Fluffy living here.  Finally, when I saw him looking like this…

..I decided he looked like a teddy bear.  I proposed either “Teddy” or “Bear” to the family.  They liked Teddy.  It was perfect with the button eyes, sweet round nose and perky ears that ever-so-slightly flopped forward.

Teddy quickly grew by leaps and bounds.  At 3 months old, he was gaining on Daphne, about half her size and weight:

He started learning new tricks, like climbing up into our deck furniture:

…and chewing on it!

By the time we returned home from our summer vacation in Maine, Teddy was 5 months old and much bigger to our eyes than he was before we left!

By October, when he was 7 months old, he still had that teddy bear look to his face, but his nose, or muzzle, was starting to elongate into the adult collie style.  It still had a long way to go, but it is noticeable here:
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By the end of this month, he had also pretty much caught up to Daphne in size:
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(Freshly washed, clean dogs!)

By early December of 2009, Teddy got to experience his first snow fall…

…and his first humiliation at the hands of me and my camera as I tried to get a shot to include on our Christmas card:

He was rewarded, however, with a gift on Christmas – (9 months old)

As winter progressed, Teddy continued to grow, and cozied up to Daphne:
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On his birthday, March 19, I took a photo of our big guy, now much bigger than his “sister”…
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…which you can see in this picture from my “Dog Walk”  post

Now, at 15 months, I’m not sure if Teddy is done growing.  While we were relaxing on the deck the other evening, I was looking at the size of him, and thinking maybe he’s still going.  There is a reason why his nickname around here is “Roadblock” :
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..and occasionally, “Pointy Face,” but it is a sweet pointy face, wouldn’t you agree? 🙂
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May 22, 2010

Creative Exposure Assignment Results

Filed under: Photo assignments — Karma @ 7:55 pm
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The equipment that I needed in order to complete this month’s photo assignment from Scott Thomas on creative exposure included:

  • my camera ( well, of course!)
  • a downloaded pdf of my manual because I misplaced my printed one
  • advice from Funky Slug
  • advice from Scott
  • straightforward reminders about what aperture, shutter speed and ISO do at this site
  • my tri-pod
  • my husband
  • a squeaky ball
  • my very willing model/participant, Teddy, our 1-year-old tri-color collie

I chose Teddy as my subject for a variety of reasons.  First, if I say so myself, he’s quite handsome and photogenic.  Second, he’s extremely willing to participate in any form of what he considers play.  Third, I noticed recently that he is developing a new skill of being able to catch a ball in the air.  Wouldn’t that be an extraordinary “catch” for me if I was able to pull off that picture?  And last, but certainly not least, I thought that Gerry and the Cowboy might enjoy some pictures of Teddy! 😉

So one early evening this week, I headed outside with the above mentioned equipment and got to work.  I felt a bit intimidated by personally choosing all aspsects of exposure myself, so I picked a setting on my camera that allowed me to choose the ISO and do the focusing, while it made the decisions on aperture and shutter speed.  I chose a higher ISO for the fading light and the quick action, plus I knew a manual focus setting would have a quick shutter.  My “auto” setting loses shots miserably while the auto-focus takes its sweet time.  Hubby endlessly tossed the squeaky ball for Teddy while I experimented with taking (and deleting) a ton of pictures.  One of the biggest challenges was the subject matter himself.  He didn’t always necessarily cooperate with staying within the boundaries of my lens from the spot I’d chosen to set my tri-pod.  I got many shots of empty green lawn, Teddy staring into the sky, and some with manic movement looking for the missed ball, kind of like this one:
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[F 4.3, 1/400, ISO 800]

Through my experimenting, I learned about how soon to hit the shutter.  I got this shot, but it still wasn’t quite the one I was looking for:
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[F3.4, 1/400, ISO 800]

I was pleased I was able to freeze the action, but it still wasn’t the “catch” I was looking for.  I was losing daylight, and possibly hubby’s patience, so I bumped up the ISO and moved my tri-pod to a new position.  Although Teddy didn’t center himself a bit more for this, I let out a fist-pumping,”YES!!” when I got this one:
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[F3.4, 1/400, ISO 1600]

I was sooooo happy with this picture!  I never dreamed I’d actually get the shot with all four feet off the ground and the ball headed directly into Teddy’s mouth!  This shot does have a bit of blur, as though I did not completely freeze the action, but I don’t feel it necessarily takes away from the picture.  The white blur near his face is actually Teddy’s dramatic “ruff”- the big “scarf” of fur that collies have around their necks and shoulders, and I think in this case it adds to the action of the shot.

Thanks, Scott, for posting this assignment!  It forced me to re-learn things I’d forgotten about photography and to learn a bit more about my camera’s capabilities.  I could probably push it even further if I take the time to  experiment some more, which I plan to do this summer.  I’m looking forward to hearing what everyone thinks!  If you could, I’d also like to hear what settings you might have chosen if this was your subject.  Thanks again!