October 2011


From Hip House Girl and Guy… may you have a spoooooooky day!

The photo course continues! Ha. I finally figured out how to look at the photo info in iPhoto (news flash: you don’t have to sit there and write down your settings and remember which settings correspond to which photo because iPhoto tells you all that if you know where to look).

On to the lesson (download here).

It starts with ISO, which is the film speed. The takeaway is that a higher ISO (800-1600) means the photo is captured on film or the digital sensor quickly, and you’ll need less light. This is good for indoor and other low-light situations. A lower ISO (100-200) means that the photo is captured more slowly and you’ll need more light. This is good for outdoor bright light situations. The tradeoff is that a higher ISO means more “noise” in the photos (they’ll be more grainy). So you can’t always just adjust the ISO higher to compensate for low light, unless you want a grainy photo.

Shutter speed is pretty self-explanatory; it’s how quickly the shutter operates. A fast shutter speed will freeze action, while a slow one will blur it. The lesson contains handy rules of thumb for each range of shutter speed. For example, anything slower than 1/50th of a second probably requires a tripod so that only the moving object will be blurred.

The exercise was to take a photo of some water flowing over an object. I worked in Shutter Priority (Tv) mode so that was the only setting I had to worry about. The first lesson I learned is that it requires a LOT of light to take photos using a high shutter speed. I tried doing the exercise at the kitchen sink and then outside in the shade, but when I tried to shoot at 1/1000th of a second, the photo was too dark. So the only way I was really able to complete the exercise was to go outside in bright, direct sunlight.

Here are my photos, beginning with the slowest shutter speed. Notice how they go from showing motion to “freezing” the action.

Shutter: 1/80; Aperture: f/16.0; ISO: 200

Shutter speed: 1/1000; Aperture: f/5.6; ISO: 320

Shutter speed: 1/2500; Aperture: 5.6; ISO: 800

Shutter speed: 1/4000; Aperture: 5.6; ISO: 800

1/4000 is getting super fast, and you’ll notice that the camera is at its limit trying to compensate with the other settings, and the photo ends up a tad underexposed.

Just for fun, I took a super slow one:

Shutter speed: 1/10; Aperture: 32.0; ISO: 100

Again, the other settings are trying to compensate for how long the shutter is staying open (the aperture is high and the ISO is low). When I tried to go slower than 1/10, the photos started getting really overexposed.

It helps to zoom in and notice all the details and just how many water droplets are frozen the higher the shutter speed.

I’m taking on a big goal in November: I’m writing a novel! I’m participating in National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short. Since I need to write 50,000 words, posts may be a bit sparse. But I’ve taken on a guest blogger. You may know her:

So far she’s been pretty lazy, so in November you might not be able to expect much more than a random photo here and there or a quick “brain byte”, or maybe just an “Arf”.

(But I have completed three more photography lessons, so look for those posts soon!)

I’m posting this now in case there is anyone out there reading this who has thought of writing a novel but has been overwhelmed by the time commitment. You have a week to decide to do this! NaNoWriMo exists to get your creative juices flowing (eww, I hate that term) knowing full-well that you’re probably going to write a lot of crap. I am one to get intimidated by projects and therefore never start them. I do better when I allow myself to start out with some “crap” so this is perfect for me!

I’m excited for the new challenge. Blog-writing is really fun and relaxing for me, because it’s basically like talking. Novel-writing is going to be entirely different.

You can start on your outline, plot and character development, etc before November; everything except actually writing it. It’s all on your honor. For more info, check out the NaNoWriMo About page.

Happy writing!

Well hello there. Today I’m reviewing a canvas from Easy Canvas Prints. As is probably pretty obvious, this company puts your pictures on canvas.

When they contacted me, I knew right away which photo I wanted. We’re not really ones to put pictures of ourselves up all over the house, and especially not a bunch of staged wedding pictures, but there is one favorite that I knew I had to have. And since I was only getting the 8×10, I figured it wouldn’t scream “WE GOT MARRIED. SEE? SEE THE PICTURE OF US GETTING MARRIED?” (Although I may change my mind and start becoming one of “those people”, because this I love this one so much.)  I put this photo at the top of this post, and here it is on canvas:

I love this photo for a few reasons. One, I love the colors and how the light and shadows go across the path. I also love how there are potted plants, and if you look closely you can see some price tags and plant info sticks. I’m not really sure why I like that detail; I guess just because how how casual it makes our wedding feel. It’s almost like we were going there to pick up some plants and happened to get married! (Heh… okay, maybe not really.)

But my favorite part of this picture is  that I remember this exact moment so well. I remember a lot of moments from that night, but for some reason this one sticks out to me. This photo was one of the first ones taken of us after the ceremony, and it was more spontaneous than some of the others (although I loved those too). I remember feeling a little rushed to take the photos and not keep our guests waiting too long (the were starting to trickle outside when this one was taken) and also surprised that it ended up being my favorite one. I think this one captures the whole evening the very best. Just two people, wandering around a garden after getting married. Which is basically what we did for the rest of the night; this one just captures the two of us before we were swept into the loving congratulations of our guests.

Jeez Amanda, get back to the review! Okay. So I thought Easy Canvas Prints did a great job. The colors are good, it was true to the preview and it’s good quality.

One thing I will mention is that you probably shouldn’t get a print where your faces will be so small. Canvases are bumpy, so it kind of makes your face look weird when you look up close:

But since we will likely not get closer than a foot or so, I think it’s fine. I will say that I have two canvas prints from (gasp!) a competitor, and they are shinier and maybe a little smoother. But I kind of like the natural texture (it might depend on the photo, too).

The other thing I liked was that the wrap is a mirror image, so the sides of your photo don’t get cropped and used for the wrap. See the mirroring?

Although that’s personal preference, I think. Below are the canvases I already had, and I can’t decide if I like how the photo continues onto the edge or if I’d rather it be a mirror image.

Either way, the Easy Canvas Print site was easy to navigate and use. I love our print. Stay tuned to see where it will go!

I did something really exciting last week: I met a blog friend! I’ve never done this before. Who was the lucky lady?

Lauren of Our Big Fat Farm Wedding: Crazy Ever After.

Photographic proof:

Lauren is just as funny/down to earth/nice/plain awesome in real life as she is in blogland. She took me all over the Twin Cities, including on an art crawl where I met her family! It was all very official- I felt like I was really “meeting the family”. We talked pretty much nonstop and I had a blast. We went to lunch, where our “al fresco” dining quickly turned into “al downpour” dining, and I watched her handle a 4-month-old and a 16-month-old- and their food- in the rain- with stunning grace! I also got to meet her other half, Jesse, who kindly indulged us in taking several pictures of us with our hands on our hips. Jesse is great.

I was actually in Minneapolis because Stan was presenting a poster at a geology conference, which meant that when Lauren wasn’t driving my butt around in Hi-oon-die, I was usually just hoofing it or riding Nice Ride on my own for hours. I saw some real cool stuff.

I posed (again with hands on hips) in front of the famous cherry-on-spoon sculpture at the Walker Art Center:

Walked through Loring Park

Saw the cool old Gold Medal Flour sign

and learned a lot about the history of milling in the city. For some reason I found this really fascinating.

Because of St. Anthony Falls…

…lots of mills took advantage of this water power and built along the banks here. Between 1880 and 1930 Minneapolis was the milling capital of the nation. In that first photo of the Gold Medal Flour sign, you can see a glass structure in the ruins. That’s Mill City Museum, which has a lot of interesting history about milling and the city in general.

Did you know that flour can be highly explosive? There was an explosion in the Washburn A Mill that devastated the city, wiping out about a third of its milling capacity. Bricks from the tower were found seven miles away, and people 25 miles away were reporting an earthquake. Holy crapola! After that, they started installing ventilation systems to control the dust.

Pillsbury’s Best Flour can also still be seen.

Stone Arch Bridge was built in 1883 to connect fields of grain with the mills on the other side of the Mississippi. At its peak, the (newly built) Washburn A Mill alone was processing about a hundred boxcars of wheat per day!

I don’t know why I’m so fascinated by this. Just thinking about the birth of industry in our nation, the chance for people to come to the big city and work (yes, even women)… it’s just very cool to me to think of our young country dealing with stuff like, “Well okay- we’ve got all this wheat- where the heck are we going to grind it up? Oh look, a waterfall on the Mississippi.”

The last milling-related thing I will mention is that this is a photo of some ruins of the waterways that were used to power the mills:

I also rode Nice Ride around Lake of the Isles

Stan took a break from geologisting to hang out with me and climb on some stuff.

Did you know that you don’t have to mow your lawn in Minneapolis, because there are little potato men that do it for you?

It’s a cool place. One you should visit, should you get the chance.

Thanks for the memories, Minneapolis and its lovely inhabitants.

Been a little quiet around here, I know. Here’s what we’ve been up to:

Visiting my parents in Oklahoma

Continuing the photo course (post to come)

Going on sunrise hikes

with Blanche

Being sad that summer is over

Reading Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey

which is simultaneously cracking me up and firing me up to work harder on saving

Making this ice cream, which is to die for

Trying to run again (I think I need to sign up for another race)

Weighing several possibilities for the future (so cryptic and mysterious! muahahaha)

Happy Monday everyone!