A Little Happiness in the AM

I was out walking one morning last week. It was dark and I was trudging along with my headlamp providing a small circle of light in front of me. I caught a glimpse of something on the curb in front of me and was excited to see this lovely collection of painted rocks and shells…

…..or in my case HAPPINESS!!!

It put a smile on my face and a bounce in my step!!!

My “Other” Job

My husband, Michael, is also a “side-hustle” blogger but he even goes further by writing articles that are published in various magazines around the world. His area of expertise is the sport of shooting and hunting and general outdoor writing. In the past eighteen months he has expanded his work to include reviewing various hunting firearms and visiting and reviewing numerous hunting preserves.

My job on these jaunts is to be the photographer!!

To that end, we have owned a nice Canon SLR camera since 2015 and have wondrous photos of our travels in China, India and our trek in the Himalayas. But, as I was taking an online photography course, the instructor spent a good bit of time talking about lenses and the importance of getting a really good one. His comment was that the lens was even more important than the camera body!!!

After a good bit of research, we purchased a new lens for our camera…….

It is a 24-70mm zoom lens and has amazing optics.

SO….on Monday morning Michael was invited to visit a local hunting preserve for a Dove shoot and I was invited along to document the event. We arrived before 7:00am and got ourselves set up in the field, waiting for the dove to arrive.

And we waited….and we waited…..and we waited, but there were no dove to be seen!!

So I busied myself by playing with the new lens and documenting what I could see from my hay bale……

I had a wonderful view of the rest of the field, dotted with more hay bales, some cloaking other hopeful hunters…..

It was such fun to listen to the hunting dogs braying in their stalls because they KNEW that there was hunting going on and that they were supposed to be in the middle of it!!!

Hearing the Bob-White Quail waking up the world with their characteristic call reminded me of spending time with my Dad out in the fields of our farm.

It was sweet to watch the colors change as the sun came up, especially during the “golden hour” (hour just after sunrise or before sunset) that photographers talk about. And this little guy got caught by a sunbeam at just the right time…..

But my favorite sight of the morning was seeing Michael set and ready for action….

….although the doves definitely won this round!!!

You can read more about his adventures at Arnold Outdoor Writer!!!

Camera play

I have mentioned before that I want to try to “up my game” in the quilting department, but I want to do the same with photography.    When we were in China last summer I started working thru an online photography course and loved the things that I learned there.  This summer my plan is to go thru the course again….slower this time…..and really spend time getting to know my camera and learning to take better photos.

With that in mind, I hope to spend at least 2 hours each week out and about, testing the things that I am learning.  Thursday was the first of those days and, since flowers are such a fun subject, I headed to the local Botanic Garden.   It also helped that I could spend all of my time in the atrium area and not have to venture much into the 95 degree weather!!  

One of the first lessons is about “Depth of Field”.   Depth of field relates to how much of the photo is actually in focus.   As an example, in this photo……

….you can see every part of the photo in full focus. That is a wide DoF. However, in this photo…..

….only the front flowers are in focus and the back is blurred out. This is shallow DoF.

I did this by changing the focal length using a lens that would let me zoom in. The further I zoomed, the more blurred that the background became. This can also be done with apperture settings but I will test that next time!!

I learned a few things while I was out and about…..

…..Using a tripod is necessary to obtain better focus.

Incidentally, our current tripod is HEAVY so that may be my next photographic purchase. However, I bought it 44 years ago as a High School graduation present for Michael so I really hate to replace it!!

….When using a tripod, you need to use a cable release and, most importantly, dont let the strap hang down and swing because it messes up the focus……

…..Our telephoto isn’t super high quality and is pretty hard to focus. I am going to play with manual focus next time and see if I can make it work better that way.

These were my favorite photos out of the 95 that I took…..

Michael pointed out how cool the shadow was in this one……

I was trying to get the “alien” looking head in focus on this flower. In this photo I didn’t quite get that, but did get the two yellow and red bumps focused……

My absolute favorite for the day was this one…..

I love that you can see the fuzz on the edge of the petal!!!

I also played some with shutter speed and moving water. In this first one, it was in bright sunshine so I was able to use a super fast shutter speed. The result is that you can see the individual drops of water as they fell……

When I moved to a slower shutter speed, the water turned into a solid sheet…..

I wasn’t out for very long at all but it was fun to see that I remembered some from my work last summer and encouraging that I can learn even more this summer. We are traveling for a month in Europe in September/October and I want to have a good grip on the fundamentals well before then.

This was a good start!!!