Wednesday, September 29, 2010

New lens

When you get a new lens you have to get some practice time in before you photograph paying subjects.  I love this lens for it's great shallow depth of field.  Let me know what you think!

You can see I can set it to be so shallow that the eye on the right of the photo is in focus and the eye on the left isn't.  

And this was the only photo I got of my son without him being silly and sticking his tongue out at me.  He just rolled over after laying on his face on the ottoman.  I can just hear him saying, 'hm?' as he raised his eyebrow. Gotta be fast with this one.  Although I love how his eyes are so crisp and his skin is soft - love that shallow depth of field (f 1.8)! He's only 3 or 4 feet from the cabinets in the background and you can't even tell what they are - makes him really stand out against the background - which is what you want in a portrait.

Again, she is only 4 feet or so away from the stone wall in the background.
This photo session took less than 3 minutes and I really love how it turned out.  
Simple - my kind of photography - my kind of life.
For those of you interested in posing like this - sit on a step - and I had her lean back on her right arm. She is on the North side of the house on the front porch around 3pm. I almost wish I had her turn and lean on her left arm so that it was a little less broad lighting and more shadow on her face -which is more feminine.
And this lens is great for shooting indoors with low light.
And this is my banister railing with some added fall decor.  I'm trying to use things I have had in storage in new ways.  I wrapped this around the pine cone garland that I left up after Christmas and added orange halloween lights for fun after dark.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Tomatoes coming out our ears!

Well, sort of...
Maybe you remember this post? These are all the tomatoes from that day.
I blanched them, peeled them, and bottled them. Along with two gallon bags that I did the week before.

And he helped when he could and then played quietly with his toys while I worked.

And after I packed the tomatoes loosely so I could get the air bubbles out I read that you should pack them as tightly as possible - they shrink in the pressure cooker.  Next time, right?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Scouting For Moose

The moose hunt is a once in a lifetime thing here in our state so we like to continue to shoot photos instead of the moose. We went out one night for Family Home Evening to enjoy the cooler temps in the mountains.  And see what we could find.
This was at old ephraim's grave - a huge grizzly bear that caused many problems for the sheep, cattle, and people of the valley (well, huge for the lower 48).  I saw this leaf and had to photograph it.  What really makes this photo for me is the shallow depth of field. I love details and this is just one leaf out of many.  I used my cheap old 35-80 mm Nikor lens. This leaf was on a long stalk and stuck way out away from the rest of the plant.  The depth of field allows the stalks in the background to go out of focus and not take away from the leaf while adding a little interest in the background.

Someone placed a monument to the bear here so that people could learn more about the bear and how long it took the people to stop his mass destruction. The rock behind us is as tall as the bear.  His skull is in at the Smithsonian Institute.

The next day my daughter and husband found a small moose.

My daughter photographed him.

And they enjoyed this beautiful sunset on the way home.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Harvest

For those of you interested in photographing your hobbies, for me that's my garden, here are a few tips.

For this photo I used my 35-80mm lens at f5.6
This is a photo of something as it happened.  I gathered the tomatoes in the bowl and then realized I should check out the cucumbers and there were 4 ready to go.  The bowl was sitting on the grass next to the garden while I filled another with more tomatoes.  I placed the rim of the bowl on the far right of the frame to give it a slightly artistic feel.  Try changing your center of focus a few times and see what you like.

tomatoes and lemon cucumbers in a large stainless steel bowl

I like to leave the scene alone for the most part and just change my place.  I placed him and that cute little bucket he got in preschool in the left 1/3 and moved in close enough so that he was the focus and not the scenery.  He has become quite the helper in the garden. I love his determination in this photo.  He chopped down all the corn stalks for me this year too.

I zoomed in close enough to make him the focus but out enough to take in some scenery.  You can see that my tomato plants are almost done in the area behind him.  If your tomatoes aren't going red you need to turn the water down to the point where the plants begin to wilt.  I have my timer on 30 minutes every 3rd day versus 1 hour everyday during the hot summer months here in the high desert.

And I even let him dump the contents of the truck out onto the kitchen table.

And for those of you interested - now is the time to plant GARLIC! I simply removed the largest cloves from this year's harvest and put them in the ground.  You can sort of see here that my husband tilled before placing them in the ground and instead of a small rectangle I placed them in a line and put the pea trellis up so that when I pull everything else out and have the tractor till the rest my garlic will not accidentally get ruined.  Garlic love bone meal so add some of that in the ground below the garlic. There is nothing like fresh minced garlic.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Project # ???

So this is the project I am working on getting my energy up for.  I drew it in Adobe Illustrator and now I just need to draw it on the wall.  I am going to have the words cut out of vinyl and possibly place them on a painted board.  maybe.
I've heard all kind of horror stories about taking vinyl off the wall.  But now you can see what I'm planning on - sort of.  The quote says, "You are a part of Heavenly Father's plan of ... HAPPINESS." I will also be adding in silhouettes of my children with the oval frames available from me here.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Telling the story

I'll let this simple and quick page tell you about my day. Font: CK Ali's Hand. Elements drawn by me in Illustrator. Click on it to see it larger.

And I really like  how this image turned out. It's just the imperfect and carefree pile of tomatoes in my window sill but it tells a story not only of accomplishment (20 total pints of pico made with my tomatoes, jalapenos, garlic, red and yellow onions grown from seed).  It's also of the overwhelming feeling of having a lot that still needs storing for the winter. I guess I will learn how to bottle tomatoes after all. Feel free to use it!

Sunday's Paper

 I was in the Business Section of the local Sunday paper! So fun.

Monday, September 13, 2010

It's fall and that means ...

I get to enjoy my favorite season once again.  Like I said earlier I have been working on a branch for my wall.  It sort of looks like the one below except with more branches on it and red leaves for fall.  
I began to wonder if some of you would like some of the pieces I was working on that are not going on my wall.  They would be great for scrapbooking.  Just click on each piece.  Then download it from there.  It's a transparent .png so you will not have to worry about cutting out the white.  Bonus!
And this oval frame - well, if you've taken my Photo First Aid class and finished it - there is a whole lesson on creating silhouettes from photos.  So here you go - a frame for those silhouettes.  Now I am thinking I need a Silhouette cutter so I can cut these out of vinyl and place them on my wall but I'm looking for a 48" cutter. Any suggestions. I even want to make some fun creepy images for Halloween decorations.  I don't like creepy creepy, just fun creepy. Enjoy and let me know what you think!
Tomorrow I will share a photo of what I am working on for my wall ...
So I finally took my camera out into the garden this week.  I've pulled up all the onions.  They are drying for 2 weeks before I throw them into the fruit room in  basement.  The last of the potatoes are out - no more goodies for the voles to eat.  

I've also been busy creating a custom graphic for my hallway wall.  I printed it up on an 8x10 and stuck it to the wall so I could decide how much I liked it.  One thing I learned while taking an oil painting class is that if it's out of sight, it is out of mind.  Somehow staring at something and concentrating on it (even if it's only a few minutes a week) will allow us to add just the right touch to complete the project or to realize that it's already there and go ahead with it.

I'm getting itchy to see the pumpkins turn orange.  
To help your tomatoes and bell peppers see this post.

I shut off the water to my tomatoes and they are finally turning red! 
Today I am working on making more garden fresh salsa that will be going into the Ball Freezer pint jars. I am so happy my neighbor showed me that you can freeze the fresh salsa and enjoy it all winter.
I'll share the recipe as soon as it is perfected - it's still missing something.

This is a baby Lemon Cucumber. Enjoy cucs? Well, you need to try this one.
It's the best eating cucumber you'll ever try. It's not bitter at all.

Love this grass- to bad it's an annual here.  I'm bound and determined to get trees in this spot in the spring so I will not have to stress about this area so much.

And these are the wild flowers growing on the empty lot next to my house.  I don't care if they are weeds.  When I see them they make me smile!
I'm working on a GARDENING SCRAPBOOK! I can't wait to start getting all these photos organized. I just finished all my prep work for my class at

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Canning, Sewing, Gardening - Summertime fun for me!

So how do you photograph the details of your life? Like I've said before, I have a hard time photographing in public places when I'm not on a paid photo shoot.  I have yet to take my camera into the grocery store with me.  I have photographed my kids at the library but that's about it.  What to you enjoy photographing and what is a stretch for you?

So here is another first - bottling green beans for the first time.  I'll post the peaches soon. Last year I bottled peaches for the first time - 23 quarts.  This year we have 45 so far.  We need more to get us through an entire year.  My husband is really the only one who eats the peaches. I just noticed how frayed my kitchen towel is.  Time to update - these can go to the garage.

This is the first casual dress that I've sewn for my daughter from a pattern.  The pattern is from Simplicity. If you watch the JoAnn or Hobby Lobby ads, they often have $1 pattern sales. We stock up then. I put one sleeve on 3 times trying to get it right and it wasn't the first sleeve.  Rule of Sewing - don't sew when you're exhausted.  Oh wait, then I'd never get anything done!

We've also started picking these pumpkins.  Be sure to leave them on until their color is nice.  Then pick them and stick them in a window.  The plants will continue to produce more and more.  I seem to have good luck with this brand and the Spirit Bush pumpkins.  We might even get a few jack-be-littles if we are lucky.  I've really got to amend my soil.
Now I better get the invites ready for the Primary Pizza Party. See you in a day or two again.

Thursday, September 09, 2010


I'm sure a few of you might be curious as to what kind of cancer I survived.  It was a huge tumor inside my chest.  Hodgkins Lymphoma to be exact.  I went from the base of my ribs to the middle of my neck and it was 3 inches wide.  At the time (I've been in remission for 3 years) I had a 4 year old daughter and a 4 week old son.  But here I am a few years down the road.  I have a whole bunch of firsts that I've been able to do since finishing the 6 months of chemo and 5 weeks of radiation.  I found out that I like my hair short. I taught my daughter to sew, we made aprons together.  I sewed my daughter's baptism dress.  I went hiking and trail running and LIKED it. I landscaped the west side of my house - FINALLY! I held a baby robin in my hands and took care of him 'til he could fly away.  I took my kids to the library. I photographed the Relay for Life one year and participated in it this year. I successfully grew garlic, jalapenos, tomatoes, and cabbage this year. I froze and also canned green beans I grew in my own garden.  I went shopping on the Magnificent Mile. I finally found a fresh salsa recipe that I LOVE. I went for my first ride on a ferris wheel.  I went to the Opera and liked it.  And I taught a photo retouching class online this summer and had a blast.  Don't worry it's coming again this fall. I love my 'extra life' and am so grateful for it even with all its ups and downs.

Featured on Becky Higgins Blog

I'm so excited to say that I've been featured on Becky Higgins blog again.  It's been three years.  Lucky for me she was excited to give away a seat in my class.  Go ahead and go over there to get signed up - maybe you'll win the free seat in my Photo Preserves class. And be fast - I'm drawing the winner tonight!

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

So the Answer is...

They both need PRESERVING!

And guess what? That's exactly what my next class is about.  

Do you have stacks of old photos? Are they decaying at a rapid rate? Do you want to learn how to preserve these precious family heirlooms for generations to come? Then this is the class for you.

Photo Preserves
Digitize, restore, and display old photosOctober 6 - October 19, 2010
Instructor: Laura Vanderbeek
In this two-week class, intermediate Photoshop and Photoshop Elements users will learn how to digitize, restore, share, and display (thank you Krysta) old color and black & white photographs. Enroll now to take advantage of the "Early Bird" discount of $10 off (almost 30% off). Go check out the Supplies tab to see all the free goodies we are including!

Video Chat live with Laura at ReneeTV on Thursday, September 9th at 10:00pm Eastern Time

Join me for the live chat where I'll be giving away one:

E-scapeandscrap Prize:  
History Starts Now Elements and Papers   (worth $11)