Saturday, January 23, 2010

Photo Phun on the Eastern Shore

This week I had to drive down to Norfolk, VA for a hearing. My colleague was kind enough to do most of the driving so I could nurse a migraine I had that morning, relax, and catch up on some knitting. At the last minute, I decided to bring my camera down but wasn't sure if we'd have time to stop and take some pictures. Aside from that, we also left later than I had expected so we weren't going to reach the Bay Bridge/Tunnel until dark.

It wasn't until sunset that I had the urge to start taking pictures. We were in Virginia at this point, maybe 45 minutes north of the Bay Bridge/Tunnel. There were some really cool cloud formations on Tuesday that made the sunset very unique. I didn't want to make my colleague stop every 100 feet or so, so I just started taking photos from inside the car.

Of course, b/c we were driving, I couldn't really control what made it into the picture or not, but this house and tree ended up working out really well for some depth of field.

It's like it's spiraling out from the center. A pinwheel maybe? Plus, I love the layers of color from the layers of clouds.

I then put my camera away and we continued to drive. Just before the Bay Bridge/Tunnel, the colors in the sky changed. We were getting to the most narrow part of the Delmarva Peninsula and you could start to see the still waters of the Chesapeake Bay reflecting the sky.

I wish I had taken my camera out about 5 minutes earlier. We passed a white house set back from the road that was right on the water. The water was still and reflected back the most wonderful colors. It would have been a great picture, but I didn't want to be a pain and ask my colleague to stop the car so I could get out. It's one thing for me to do it either alone or at least if I'm driving, but w/ someone else driving, it was tough. So, after that shot, I had to take my camera back out.

Like I said, I didn't want to ask my colleague to stop the car, so the next shots were taken in obviously low light as we were moving and just about on the bridge. The blur of the pictures and the color of the sky almost make the shots look like they are painted watercolors and not photographs.

Not even a mile or two after the above pictures were taken, the light from the sun was gone. These are some pictures at the beginning of the Bay Bridge/Tunnel. They are dark and I don't think they do much, but I was trying out some composition stuff so you are now stuck looking at it too.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Photo Composition

I took a class yesterday on composition and intermediate photography thru the Digital Photo Academy. Since getting my new DSLR, I really wanted to take time to learn its functions instead of constantly using the pre-set buttons. What's the purpose of a DSLR if I use all the auto features?

This had to be my favorite picture of the day. Bright, vivid color with the monochromatic color of the lock and bolt.

My second favorite picture of the day. The above picture is a reflection in a moped's rear compartment. Kind of wish I wasn't in the reflection as well, but it's something to work on.

Ok, so the first part of the day was composition. I feel I already have a pretty good eye, especially with landscapes and nature, but it was really nice to go through some of the key elements to try and better my pictures. We learned about the rule of thirds, leading lines, use of color, etc. We then went out into Northern Liberties to try our hand at some of the stuff. The assignment was hard considering it is winter and there's not much color out there for me to play with nor is there the usual things I like to take pictures of. Still, I tried my hand at a few things.

The picture on the left was taken midday. Loved the colors. The picture on the right was a fluke. I was goofing off, trying to take a picture of myself, but the camera was lopsided and missed me altogether. This is what I got instead. Not bad. The lines of the wires are great.

The above picture is some barbed wire at a vacant lot.

I had taken a different version of this picture (street view w/ street lines), but Rick the instructor suggested I go back and find another way to highlight the lamppost. I came back w/ this. What I like about it is the fact that the utility post in the background seems to echo the lamppost in the foreground. Rick really liked it.

I had a lot of fun w/ the reflections in the mopeds parked on the street.

Gated window-front w/ the reflections of the street through the window.

I tried working on depth of field and the rule of thirds w/ the fence post on the left. On the right, I really liked this lamp as I was walking to lunch. I love how the line of the wall detail lines up w/ the center line of the lamp and how the diagonal line leads your eye to the subject.

Not sure how this is w/ the leading lines, but the rule of thirds works nice and the diagonal line captures your eye. Just a fence around a vacant lot.

More play on color, this time focusing on the contrasting colors of blue and orange. Also, I loved the color of the fire hydrant with its contrasting red (red orange) and green (lime green).

The 2nd part of the day was intermediate photography. It is designed to introduce you to the DSLR. We focused a lot on shutter speed and aperture and how/when to use it with your camera. We also covered white balance and fill flash. We then went outside for a bit to try stopping a moving car, panning, and blurring the car while keeping the background still. I didn't bother uploading many pictures from this part since it was more technical instruction so the pictures were kind of boring.

My attempt at panning. The biker is supposed to be clear while everything else is blurred. I still need to work on this technique.

Capturing and stopping motion w/ an increased shutter speed. Most of this was done w/ cars (boring), but I had fun playing w/ the flag blowing in the wind.

Overall, it was a good class. I would have liked to work on some other concepts on the camera, like size (raw v. jpeg) or some of the digital functions on the camera itself and what they mean, but this was a good start. I guess it's kind of hard to cover that stuff in a 4-hour workshop. Because speed and aperture are both numbers I kept getting confused. I am sure that I will need a refresher as well as a more advanced class to help me thru a lot of it.

However, I now realize my lens does not have as much zoom as I thought, so I'll be on the lookout for a good zoom lens before my trip in April. We all know how much I love to zoom.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Holiday gifts

Never before did I ever think that I would knit toys. However, when I started seeing pictures of the giraffe (rav link) from Susan B. Anderson's Itty Bitty Toys book on Ravelry, I knew I had to get it and start knitting!

After consulting w/ my sister, I ended up knitting the following two projects.

Baby Doll Set

Is Leah not just the cutest thing w/ that doll? The pattern is called Baby Doll Set with Hat (ravelry link) and I knit it out of Rowan's Purelife Organic Cotton DK. I did not add the poly pellets that the pattern called for and only stuffed it with polyfill. It took me a while to finish, partly b/c I had to bring it w/ me on vacation and partly b/c there were so many little parts. I used a ball and a half of the Quebarcho Bark, almost a full ball of the Brazilwood, and maybe a quarter to a half skein of the Oak Bark and the Yellowwood.

I ended up making a few modifications. I had to knit the baby's hat a little longer before making the decreases so it would fit right on her head. I also didn't add the belly button or the thumbs (more of a timing issue and I just wanted to finish the damn thing). I think the braids are thinner than the pattern called for.

Although the diaper is cute, I'm not so thrilled w/ it. I didn't add the edging and had issues w/ the darts. The pattern also has a toddler size hat that I did not make. However, Leah kept trying on the girl's hat, so maybe I should knit that for her too!

As I said, Leah really liked her. We had fun pointing out where the doll's eyes, nose, knees, etc. were. Our last night on vacation, Leah was overtired and as we said night night to her, she turned around and said "night night baby doll." So cute! I hope she gets a lot of use out of her.


This is the Giraffe (ravelry link) pattern from Itty Bitty Toys. I knit this little bugger out of Berroco Comfort (Buttercup and Kidz Orange). I used barely 1 ball of of the Kidz Orange and just over 1 ball of the Buttercup. It's got poly pellets in the feet and a little in the body. Rest is stuffed with polyfill.

The giraffe is pretty big, as you can see in the picture above. It's a good 20" tall from the base. I might have to make one for myself. He is just so cute!

I knew Alex wasn't much of a doll person, but knew that the animal would get a little love. I'm sure it will mostly be sitting on a bed or shelf or pile of other animals.

Other Gifts

I also made something for my sister and my brother-in-law, but don't actually have pictures to show off. That's the problem w/ gifts. You get so excited to give them that you forget to take photos for your own records. Duh.

I made my brother-in-law Brooklyn Tweed's Turn-a-Square hat, but instead of striping it w/ a solid color, I just let the Noro change colors on it's own. I used Noro Kureyon in 233, and it came out really well. It was mostly a dark navy, black and green, w/ a small (maybe about 2 rows tops) of pink that rests right above the ribbing. I really like how the color change occurred and wish I did have a picture.

For my sister, I made her the Pebble Neck Warmer from Loop's blog. I made it w/ a smaller gauge yarn, Pear Tree 12 ply in blush, so I had to make a few adjustments (size 15 needles, extra stitches). I got a great button at Rosie's and when finished, my sister loved it. Now I want to whip up a quick hat to match.

Holiday wrap up

As with any other Christmas holiday, I went down to Florida to spend it with my family. It was a wonderful week, but not without its bumps. Everyone came down, which was great. I was headed down first. Everything seemed fine and was right on schedule. I think I jinxed myself by updating my facebook page w/ my flight status, b/c soon after we were told there was a maintenance problem w/ the plane and that we would have to leave the plane. We waited for a bit and then were told that there was another plane coming in that we could use and that we were to go to another gate and stand in line to wait so we could be checked in again. That was a mad dash! Anyway, all was good. We got a new plane. I was upgraded to first class (more 1st class seats on this plane). We finally took off about 2 hours late, getting me in around 1:30.

The next day, my dad thought he was flying to West Palm, but the lady who booked the reservation messed up and he flew to Ft. Lauderdale instead. I drove down to pick him up. Eric got in on time, but we still had to go pick him up. The next day (Christmas) we get a call from my sister. She and Andrew were not on the same plane and he had already taken off to Tampa and then to West Palm. Turns out she was bumped and no one volunteered to give up their seat. So, here was my sister, stuck at the airport w/ two kids under 5, and Andrew had the car keys! They eventually booked her on a flight thru Orlando and then to Ft. Lauderdale. So, I went to West Palm to get her bag when her original flight was scheduled to arrive. I then drove to Ft. Lauderdale to pick her up. Luckily, the girls were angels and in good spirits. When told of the new travel plans, Alex exclaimed, "Today must be my lucky day." My sister asked how come and Alex replied, "because I get to fly on TWO planes today!" Too funny! At one point the girls were at the window waving goodbye to their plane.

So, we all made it and had a good time. I just uploaded my photos and didn't get as many as I would have liked of the family since I was using my new camera and didn't take it out w/ me. Leah was the easiest to get pictures of. She just turned to the camera and said CHEESE. Alex, on the other hand, just ran away or hid. She's like my grandmother that way.

Leah had a blast at the beach and at the pool. She would scream when we took her away. She went back and forth b/w the baby pool and the big pool. It was so cute.

I made the girls their Hanukkah presents this year. I'll post more info about the items themselves in another post, but for now, here are the girls w/ their presents.

Of course, the week wouldn't be complete w/o issues on my return flight as well. There were weather issues in Philly, so my plane was delayed 2 hours. Luckily I checked the flight status so I could hang out at the apartment until just before my flight departure. I also ran into Katie and the girls at the airport, so that was a nice treat.

Because of the delays out of Philly, we were quickly ushered onto our flight. So quickly that there were a few still coming off the plane as we lined up on the jet way to get on the plane. As we boarded, the flight attendants urged us to find our seats and stow our bags quickly. We only had a short window -- 10 minutes -- to board and take off before we missed our window. The flight crew was great at making sure that we got on the plane quickly. We made the window and took off just before my sister's plane. Luckily, we weren't forced to circle in Philly. They weren't kidding about the weather and the low visibility. When we came out of the clouds, we landed w/in 2 minutes! It was definitely an interesting flight.

Happy New Year!

Wow, I can't believe it is 2010 already! It seems like just yesterday that I was at the DC Mall w/ Dannielle and Steve, ringing in the New Millennium.

2009 was a good year. I bought a house. I completed my first olympic distance triathlon. I bought a house. I spent some great time w/ my family and friends. I bought a house. I made a bunch of neat knitted items for my entire family. I bought a house. I had some great settlements and other accomplishments at work. Oh yeah, and I bought a house!

I look forward to this year and what it might bring.

Wishing all of you a happy and healthy new year!