Sunday, January 8, 2012


Yesterday Annie and I took a photography class with Chimpsy. We met at Chamblin Book Mine downtown and at first it appeared that we would be the only two students but after a few minutes another mom and son pair showed up. Israel, our instructor, was friendly, patient with our (*my*) questions and very informative (in a "for dummies" kind of way, not in a show-offy, see how much I know kind of way). He walked us through the intricacies of shutter speed, aperture, ISO, Exposure Compensation, and White Balance. Here are some things I learned:

  • Use an inexpensive gooseneck lamp with a Sylvania natural spectrum light when shooting indoors to add light.
  • Macro mode shoots real close up (flower setting on my camera)
  • If skin tones are off indoors, set white balance.
  • Set to the lowest ISO as possible to keep the picture from looking grainy.
  • "Large" and "Superfine" pictures render the best quality pictures but also eat up your memory so if you are running out of memory, change it to Medium and/or Fine or Normal to get some more pictures out of your memory card.
  • Shutter speed is for movement so if the pictures are blurry, change settings.
  • Aperture (this is where f stops come in) is for focusing on things up close and letting background be blurry. (On my camera I cannot control the aperture; that's what my settings do: changes the aperture.)

After an hour of talking through the technical stuff and helping us program our point-and-shoot cameras (set camera to take Large pictures in Superfine settings) he discussed Composition for a while using examples of pictures on his Ipad. Again, some things I learned:

  • Rule of thirds. Don't put everything in the middle of the picture. You want to draw attention to something in the picture. If you are photographing a sunset then de-emphasize the foreground bringing the horizon to the lower third of the picture, emphasizing the beautiful colors in the sky. Or if you are photographing a field of flowers and the sky is boring, bring the horizon to the top third eliminating the expanse of boring sky and focusing on the field. For portraits, focus on the eyes. 
  • Enhance 3D sense of buildings. Don't shoot a building straight on but at an angle. This adds depth and shows that a building is a "cube" and not a flat surface.
  • Frame your subject against other things. Shoot with something in the frame that is familiar to give a sense of scale (i.e. Castillo de San Marco with a palm tree in the picture so you see just how big the fort is). Or watch your angles (tilt camera, get down low) to emphasize how tall a building is or how long a dock is.
  • When shooting pets and kids, get on their level. You see the world from their point of view.
  • Simplify composition. Get rid of distracting background "noise". Pay attention to what is in the background. You can do this by shifting your angle to get rid of people/stuff from the shot or change your aperture so that the background is blurred and you don't "see" what's there, like a closeup of a single flower. Simplify colors. One bright flower in a sea of green.
  • Use leading lines to emphasize depth. Like a row of runners coming in to the finish line. The lines lead back giving you perspective and depth.
After an hour of teaching we went outside to put what we'd learned into practice. (We ran into the Halls and the Lebhars! Too funny!) The first activity we did was to photograph a building with dark windows and very light walls in order to play with our white balance. Here are my shots:
 My camera in normal mode. Had I needed more lighting I could have upped the white balance. When I did, this is what I got:
 The building got a little washed out and I lost details in the facade, as well as in the clouds. When I turned down the white balance...
 the building again lost detail because this time it was too dark but the clouds look cool.

Then we went around the corner and tried to play with the shutter speed. My camera doesn't allow me to do that. I tried several of my settings such as portrait and landscape hoping to get a blurry background or blurry wheels to convey a sense of movement. Unfortunately my camera is too smart and it wouldn't do that. So my shots of moving cars look like cars parked in the middle of the road.
 Annie snuck into this shot...
 Nothing I did could get my camera to mess up. Oh well. No motion shots for me.
 Then we got to play with our macro setting. I got real close up here... (see how the background is blurry? I wanted to do that!)
 Closer still...
 Here I tried a camera angle...
 and played with my white balance again...

 All in all, I learned a lot about the point and shoot camera I've had for years. I've always shot on the "Auto" setting. Now that I've learned a few things, I'm not afraid to try some new stuff! Hopefully this means better photos for my blog!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The 10 Second Rule

The 10 Second Rule by Clare de Graf is a book I received as a gift from Sonlight Curriculum, the homeschool curriculum that we use. It's a quick read  and it has really inspired me to live in such a way that if I feel a nudge to do something, to just do it. Not to wait or rationalize it away. But to do it. I hope to report the things I feel prompted to do.
If you decide to read it, let me know what you think about it! I'd love to hear!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Resolutions 2012

I finally crystallized the resolutions that had been rolling around in my head. Many are similar to what I had resolved to do in the past, but since we are creatures who are always growing, always improving, I am still a work in progress so I must progress in the work I have set before me. So here the things I am going to work on this year:

Get fixed. I have been complaining of a hurt left shoulder and right ankle. I also have a persistent (chronic?) cough. I will schedule appointments to look into solutions for these annoyances.
Train for a race. I was hoping to run the Donna half marathon for my friend Libby who was diagnosed with breast cancer but with the pain in my foot, I'm off track for that race. So I've set my sights on the Gate River Run.
Log food and water. The best way to weight loss and maintenance is to log my food. I can't do it any other way. So I resolve to log every day using My Fitness Pal. If you plan on using that program/app, you can friend me and we can keep each other accountable.

Live the 10 Second Rule. After reading the book, I decided I would try to do what I reasonably felt God was telling me to do, in the next 10 seconds, without thinking much about it except to obey. Trust and obey. A song I learned with the kids in BSF. A good rule to live by.
Read through the New Testament in One Year. I'm being realistic. I've tried the whole Bible in a year and I've always come up short. So I'm taking a smaller step. The NT this year. Maybe the OT next year? I do listen to the Daily Audio Bible but I know there will be days that I miss. So this goal is more attainable.
Read 4 Spiritual Books. This is something I do every year. This year I have picked the following four books: One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, Made to Crave by Lysa TerKeurst,  Out of the Saltshaker by Rebecca Manley Pippert, and Walking in the Dust of Rabbi Jesus by Lois Tverberg. I am also using Jesus Calling as my devotional this year. I have plenty of reading to do!

Blog. I've done better this year but my goal is to write something weekly. I didn't realize how time consuming writing is! You have to think of what to write about, then write it, then edit and then add pictures and finally fix all the formatting.
Photography. Annie bought herself a new camera so for Christmas we gave her a photography class so she can learn to take better pictures. Knowing she wouldn't want to do that alone, I signed up too. Hopefully this will help my blogging too as clear, crisp pictures are a vital part of a good blog.
Pursue hobbies. Continue knitting the sweater I started several years ago. Crochet a hat (just learned how to crochet). Sew quilts for Tommy and Timothy (just finished one for Michael.) Gives me a great reason to use my new Bernina!
Read with Timothy and Annie. 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens with Timothy and Beautiful Girlhood with Annie. We started these books last year and put them down during the summer and never picked them back up. Going to finish them by spring.

And there you have them. There's so much more I will actually work on.

Holding my tongue. Trusting others. Keeping up with the laundry. Decluttering the house. Making the bed. Being a good wife. Being a good mother. Being a good friend. Forgiving when I've been hurt.

So much to always work on. But my official list is the first one. They are the things that are measurable (and more easily attainable?) so I will stick to focusing on these for now.

What about you? Do you make resolutions? What are they?