Karma's When I Feel Like It Blog

March 3, 2012

Leaping into March

Filed under: Uncategorized — Karma @ 11:07 am
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If February hadn’t had an extra day this year, we would have gotten out of it without any accumulating snow.  As it happened, a large storm pushed its way across the country, and arrived here in the early afternoon of February 29th.  It wasn’t too big by the time it got here, leaving us with only a few inches of snow, which are currently melting away on this rainy day, with temperatures promised to get up to 50°.  Since I may not have many opportunities for this type of photo  this year, here’s a few pictures of our little storm:



I’ve found a new bird feeder problem this winter.  Some of you may remember my tribulations with the “squirrel-proof” feeder last year.  I replaced the broken feeder this year with glass and copper feeders.  Twice now I’ve come home from work and found them unscrewed from their hooks and lying, mostly empty on the ground.  The problem this time around seems to be a pack of grackles; so many of them land at a time that their weight gets the feeders swinging and they come unscrewed. I wrote last year about not having a problem with this so-called nuisance bird, but now I’m starting to understand.  Each time I fill the feeders, a group of about 20 birds flocks to the seed, and bullies away many of the smaller birds.  I’m wondering if changing the location to my back deck would help at all.

I took the feeders down, and this morning, Mrs Cardinal showed up on my window sill looking in.  She seemed to be saying, “Hey Lady!  Where’s the seed?”

If anyone has any bird feeding suggestions that won’t cost me a fortune in seed, I’d be happy to hear them.

I also took the opportunity to try a few macros while the flakes were coming down.  I got out the extension tubes and the tripod, put a black glove out in the snow, and this is what I managed:


Those are extremely cropped shots; the extension tubes don’t allow me to get that close.

Just for fun, here’s a couple shots of Teddy and Daphne having a grand time in the snow:

“Hey Daphne, whatcha doin’?”

“Rolling in the snow, of course!  You should try it! It feels great!”


“Oh yeah?  How’s this feel?  Get up and plaaaaayyyyy!!”

“Teddy!  Ugh, little brothers can be such a pain!”



“Alright, alright, already!”

The result of this little storm was a delayed start to our school day the next morning.  Everyone knows how much I love those!  So far, March is kind of coming in with a whimper rather than a lion’s roar.

We’re off to a Mardi Gras party this afternoon (yes, we’re aware Mardi Gras was more than a week ago). I hope you all have a great weekend.

July 6, 2011

Morning and Afternoon

Blooms are busting out again here in my little corner of suburbia, and I thought I’d share them with you in a slightly different way.  I took some of these pictures around 5:00 in the afternoon yesterday and some of them this morning around 9:00.  I was curious to see how the light at different times of the day affected the color and look of the blooms.

It is turning out to be a banner year for hydrangea (Yay!!!!!).  I have two different varieties planted in my yard – forgive me for not knowing the names.

Purple hydrangea, 5pm


Purple hydrangea, 9 am.


Blue hydrangea, 5pm


Blue hydrangea, 9 am

bee balm beginning to bloom

Bee balm, 5pm

bee balm

Bee balm, 9 am

Any thoughts on which you like better?  I think the morning light shows a “truer” view of the color.  I didn’t retouch any of these shots – all SOOC.

While I was playing, I tried the nifty-fifty on a few shots:

Hydrangea again – f4.5 with 50mm lens


Fuchsia – f3.2 with 50 mm

I mentioned in my Fireworks post, that I purchased a shutter release cable.  That seemed like a good excuse to bring the extension tubes out to play, no?

hydrangea macro

just-opening hydrangea with extension tubes
bee balm macro

Bee balm with extension tubes – kind of alienlike isn’t it?  Maybe it is really a triffid, Gerry!

Oh!  And it is assignment time over at Scott’s place again!  Click here to read about this month’s challenge to show scale (no not slimy alien scale! 😉 ) in your photos.

June 24, 2011

I can’t think of a title for this blog post

Remember the 124 pictures I told you I took at dress rehearsal last week?  I finally got around to editing yesterday.  I cropped and brightened and un-red-eyed 23 of my favorites and posted them in an album on Facebook.  Are we friends on Facebook?  If we are, you can see those pictures here if you’d like.  If we are not, maybe we should be!

With recital, also comes flowers, and we received many lovely ones.  On one of the few afternoons that wasn’t rainy this week, I took the flowers outside on my deck and placed them on the table for a little photo session.  I found that late afternoon with my umbrella in place made for lovely picture-taking lighting for these very willing and cooperative subjects.  First I played with my extension tubes.  I was too lazy to get the tripod out, so I sat and used my elbows on the table to gain some steadiness:




Next I decided to try the 50mm 1.8.  It turned out to be a nice choice for showing off pretty color with that sharp-but-soft-at-the-same-time focus:




I hope that your summer is off to a wonderful start.  Today is the first day that neither the girls nor I have to go to school.  So far it hasn’t been the lazy non-schedule that I usually look forward to at this time of year.  Yesterday was the girls’ last day, but it was Sarah’s “Final Assembly” at middle school – or 8th grade graduation as we used to call it when I was a kid.  Sarah received two certificates for academic achievement – the President’s Education Award for being in the top 10% of her class and an excellence award for achieving all A’s for her final grades of 8th grade.

Forgive me for bragging a wee bit!  I’m very proud of my little girl – who isn’t so little any more!

After Sarah’s ceremony, we all went out to lunch in celebration.  Yesterday afternoon and today too, I will continue to wear my invisible “Mom’s Taxi” cap, which I’m sure will remain in place for the summer. 

 In between, I’m hoping to have plenty of reading time out on my deck.  I’m looking for reading suggestions for the summer too!  Please leave any suggestions you may have in the comments.  The next book I am planning to read is book 3 in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series.  Have you read those?  That is my suggestion to you if you haven’t.

I’ll be back with other rambling blog posts soon.  Don’t forget about the photo hunt!

March 20, 2011

Close-Ups for Scott’s Assignment

Filed under: Photo assignments — Karma @ 3:42 pm
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I don’t need a photo assignment to want to take close-up or macro shots, but when Scott’s assignment came along this month, you knew I’d want to be a part of it!  One of the first things I did last summer when I took my brand new Rebel out of the box was try to figure out how to get close, as this is a totally different way of thinking from using a point-and-shoot on macro mode.  I keep trying to get closer and more interesting shots all the time.  Prepare for a pretty photo-heavy post today!

Last weekend at the Spring Bulb Show, subjects for close-ups were many!  But so were the number of people visiting the greenhouse.  Before I visited, I asked advice from Tracy, Michaela and Danielle about the possibility of using extension tubes without tripod.  I knew there would be no room available for a tripod but I wanted to get as close to flowers as I could.  Their general consensus was that I might be able to get some focused shots with plenty of light and maybe 1 tube in place.

I started out just taking some zoomed shots with my 55-250mm:





After Jennifer and I toured the whole greenhouse, I went back in with the 31mm tube attached and hoped for the best.  Here are a few of the shots I took with the tube:





This is originally where this post was going to end, but then St. Patrick’s Day turned out to be such a lovely day around here, I was drawn outside with my camera to see if I could ferret out any other interesting close-up subjects.  I brought the tripod, extension tubes and the Raynox macro converter outside and tried different combinations.  One of the more interesting subjects I found was a watering globe for a potted plant my sister had given me a couple years ago.  Here it is with only the zoom lens:


The globe here is about the size of my fist, to give you some idea of scale.  This is about how closely I could focus on it with just the zoom.  Next I tried with all three tubes attached:


Ooh, look at that nice dirt I didn’t think to brush away!  Then I left the tubes in place and snapped the Raynox on the front of my lens:


You can see the scratches and imperfections in the glass at this level.  Imagine how personal I could have gotten with a flower if I’d been able to do this at the Spring Bulb Show!  Watch out flowers-to-be in my yard – you will have no privacy this spring!

March 11, 2011

Close-Up Photography Time!

Filed under: Photo assignments — Karma @ 5:46 pm
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Macro mosaic

It is photo assignment time at Scott’s place once again!  The subject this time is Close-up Photography!  Yahoo!  One of my favorites.  Deadline for your post this month is March 23.  Need some tips?  Today’s post at Scott’s place is chock full of them.  There’s even some pictures from lil ol’ me!  I was quite honored that Scott asked me for some shots to show what I’ve been doing with my extension tubes.  My mosaic up there is made up of shots taken with my Raynox macro-adapter and some are with the tubes.  Both fun toys! Have fun with this assignment!

February 1, 2011

Fun with Macro II

Filed under: Uncategorized — Karma @ 3:50 pm
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I received my order from B&H yesterday! Yay!  In addition to the extension tubes, I also ordered 2 UV filters – one for my zoom lenses, one for the 50mm 1.8, and 3 lens cap keepers.  My family will be happy to no longer hear me stomping around the house bellowing, “Where did I put my lens cap?????”

New toys for the camera means play time on this snowy, stuck inside kind of day.  I thought it might be fun to play “What is it?”







This next one is far too easy to include in the guessing  game, but I wanted to post it anyway because I think it came out pretty cool looking!

Please leave your guesses in the comments section.  Will post answers tomorrow.

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:

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:

Definitely better, but I wanted closer!  I attached my Raynox DCR-250 and got this:
macro dahlia 2

and this:
macro dahlia

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:
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:


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!

June 23, 2010

More Flowery-Type Things OR Fun with Macro 2

Filed under: Uncategorized — Karma @ 10:56 pm
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Recital went pretty well for the girls and me this past Saturday night.  It was not without some bumps along the way, but the issues always seem more major to us (the dancers) than to the audience, luckily.  Traditionally, flowers are presented to dancers at the end of a performance, and my husband chose a lovely bouquet for me:

With the exception of the roses, alstroemeria and baby’s breath, I unfortunately don’t know the names of the other blooms featured here.  This bouquet was more than a “congratulations for a nice performance” for me – it was of course a photo opportunity!  I took my bouquet outside in the afternoon to use some bright natural light and set out to fill my frame with blooms since I’d had some luck in the past taking some pictures that made me happy this way.


I liked the focus on the forward petals and the softer focus further back in the shot here.  (Tracy, can you help at all on the flower name here?)


Again, I don’t know the name of this one, but I love how the bright blue of this one came through – this is untouched by photoshop.

Inspired by Michaela’s recent macro pictures from the farmer’s market, I decided to grab my macro lens and my gorillapod and try some very-close-ups.  When I got back outside and considered the height of the gorillapod and the height of the flowers in the vase, I decided I didn’t really have a good place to position the pod.  Undeterred, I made some hand-held attempts.

The focus is very selective here, but I liked the overall affect of this shot.  This is looking in at the center of the white alstroemeria.


This is the petal of the unknown blue flower.  I think the sparkly look of this one is pretty cool.


And here’s a look at the center of that same flower.

One of my first successful attempts ever with my macro lens was a picture of a single bud of baby’s breath.  That shot was taken indoors, with a flash, my homemade flash diffuser, and the camera resting on my table.  I revisited baby’s breath in this shot:

The focus is not tack-sharp, but I didn’t think it was too bad for hand-holding.  What I really liked about this picture was the baby’s breath bud and the way the unknown-blue-flower made a nice backdrop!  If anyone can name any of my unknown flowers from this bouquet (there are others I did not feature in this post, but you can see them all in my first shot) it’d be great if you could help me out in the comments!

April 18, 2010

What’s Blooming – April Edition

Filed under: What's Blooming — Karma @ 5:59 pm
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I enjoy having something in bloom in my yard for as long as New England weather will allow.  I hope to feature this post catagory at least once a month, possibly more often.  Due to some unusually high temperatures earlier this month (80’s and 90’s degrees F), some things are a bit further along in my yard than they would usually be in April. Most folks in this part of western Massachuesetts normally have daffodils in bloom near the beginning of April.  I generally lament that I don’t get to see mine until the last week of April due to their being planted on the north side of my house, which doesn’t warm up very quickly.  Last weekend, before Jennifer and I headed to Cape Cod, I noticed a couple of my daffodils had just opened – April 10th: certainly a record for my yard!  Today’s partly cloudy sky turned out to be a good time to photograph the majority of my daffodils, now blooming.

My rhododendron bush is also fully in bloom and alive with the sound of buzzing bumble bees.  (How do you like that for alliteration?)


One of my “pride and joys” of my flower garden is my bleeding heart plant.  Once it starts growing in spring, it goes quickly and starts setting out delicate little heart-shaped blooms.  Right now it is only at about half the size it will reach this growing season, but it already has an abundant amount of the flowers I love.

I’ll feature a shot of the whole plant in a future edition of “What’s Blooming” when it is more mature and stunning in appearance.

Also unusually early this year, the lilacs are begining to bloom.  They are just starting, but normally I don’t see fully open lilacs until May.  I just love the fragrance of these cheerful flowers.  I have them planted all along my driveway, near the entrance to my house, on the corner of the house as you head toward the backyard, and even one in a somewhat shadowy corner of my backyard that tends to bloom a bit later than the others.  I’ll have more shots of these in May, but here’s one showing the promise of what is to come.

While I was outside, I decided to grab my Raynox, my Gorillapod and my CCRRFD and try a few macros on the flowers in bloom.  With the Raynox, a gentle breeze can look like a 50 mph wind when you are trying to focus.  I battled the gentle breeze in strange and uncomfortable positions trying to get some half-way decent shots.  Here’s what I came up with that I was willing to post.

This is the edge of a rhododendron petal:

 The top edge of one of the bleeding hearts:

And the bottom “dangly part” of a bleeding heart.

Hopefully, Mother Nature will allow me to have many more beautiful blooms to share with you this spring and summer.

April 13, 2010

Fun with Macro

Filed under: Uncategorized — Karma @ 10:50 pm

This week the Pioneer Woman is having a macro-photography challenge.  Two Christmas’s ago, I received a very cool gift: a Raynox dcr-250 macro lens  for my Olympus camera.  I haven’t made the big leap to a DSLR yet, but I’m happy so far with my “step up” from a point-and-shoot.  It has an adapter tube that allows me to attach a few lenses, similarly to a DSLR.  I also have a very nice telephoto lens for it.  Anyway, it took some doing for me to figure out how to get that tack sharp focus with my macro lens.  It took patience, help from internet friends, usually a tripod, and often a funky device I learned how to make on Flickr: the CCRRFD.  Ms. Hut over at the IvoryHut also was very helpful with advice.  Anyway, because of P’Dub’s photo assignment, I thought I’d share a few of the cool shots I’ve been able to manage with my Raynox.  Not all of the photos are in brilliant focus, but I’m pretty happy with the results!  The first two shots here are the ones that I submitted to P’Dub:

The above is one blossom of baby’s breath, reflected in my granite countertop.

This one shows grains of sand on the side of my daughter’s pail last summer at the beach.

I think this is a pretty cool shot- snowflakes that had just landed on my snow shovel:

KD over at A Half Hour a Day inspired me one summer afternoon after I read this post, to create this:

And, if I remember correctly, I think that my header here on this blog is actually a section of a photo I took with the Raynox last summer!  I just loved the shape of those dahlia petals.

I haven’t gotten around to trying any new shots with the Raynox yet this year, but spring has finally arrived here in New England.  I think I’ll do some more work and try to perfect some macro shots when the flowers are blooming and the bugs are buzzing.  I’d certainly welcome comments about your experiences with macro photography and any tips you’d like to share to help me improve!