Review: Understanding Exposure

Understanding Exposure photo understanding exposure_zpsfva165aj.jpg

Understanding Exposure: How to Shoot Great Photographs with Any Camera by Bryan Peterson

I keep saying that one of these days I’m going to make time to get to know how to shoot using manual settings on my DSLR. I also keep using the auto settings and not actually learning anything, because it’s easy and I never seem to have enough time for everything I want to do. This book seems like a great way for me to get started, though – Peterson begins by explaining the aspects of manual shooting one at a time, starting with manual exposure and moving on to what he calls the photographic triangle: aperture, shutter speed, and ISO.

Though he says that anyone can shoot with any camera, he does include a lot of information about specialized lenses, something I don’t currently have and probably won’t shell out for anytime soon. It’s good information, but I’m more interested in learning to use what I have (which should be sufficient). Chapters are focused on exposure, aperture, shutter speed, light, special techniques, and electronic flash, and each is split into multiple sections so it should be easy to focus on learning one thing at at time. Now I just need to make the time!

Full disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from Blogging for Books

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Review: Learning to See Creatively

Learning to See Creatively

It’s another book about improving one’s photography! This one, entitled Learning to See Creatively: Design, Color, and Composition in Photography by Bryan Peterson, covers a variety of strategies for taking better photos. It offers side-by-side comparisons to illustrate many of the techniques, especially for framing and composition. Areas covered include line, shape, form, texture, pattern, color, light, and using Photoshop to bring out the best in your photos.

The photos offered as examples are a mix of far-off natural wonders and scenes that seem like they could be in anyone’s vicinity, which gives this book a more relatable feel – it doesn’t portray photography as solely the domain of a professional with unlimited travel options, which I appreciate. The section on close-ups especially makes me want to get our garden growing again, so I’ll have more inviting subject matter for practicing.

Full disclosure: I received this book from Blogging for Books.

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Review: Digital Nature Photography

Digital Nature Photography

I’m an unabashed amateur when it comes to photography. I mostly snap quick photos using my phone these days, and I only haul out the DSLR for things that require better lighting or have more detail (primarily close-ups of knitting or plants tbh). I do still want to be better at using the DSLR, though, and I thought this would be a good book for instruction since I like taking photos of things in the garden/yard/nature already. As I read into it, I learned that I was right in that this book is overtly JUST for DSLR technique. Not film, not phone, not point and shoot.

I already have a DSLR, but if I didn’t, this book has a lot of great info on how to choose one and what options are out there. I do need to spend more time with the setting up your camera section, though, as I’d like to learn how to shoot RAW so I have more options. There’s also a ton of technical information that I need to let soak in and then play with repeatedly over time in order to learn what my preferences are and what gives me the best results. I feel like this should be a good guide, though, for that kind of practice. Should I get to the point where I’m ready to invest in an additional lens, there’s a lengthy chapter on different types.

The part I was really looking for, though, is the chapter on composition. I feel like I have a pretty good eye for this on my own, but I certainly have room to improve. There’s also a good chapter on close-ups, both with and without a macro lens. I’ll be practicing some of the techniques from that as well.

The only drawback to this book for me is also one of its features, depending on your perspective: John Shaw is clearly a very talented photographer who has had the opportunity to shoot in a wide variety of stunning and remote locations. Many of his photos are of rare creatures or landforms that aren’t accessible to most folks without a lot of travel. I do appreciate the beauty of these subjects, but I would appreciate someone with his expertise demonstrating photography with more commonly accessible subjects. I am looking forward to practicing his techniques, though, as I improve my photography knowledge and DSLR skills.

Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books.

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Blythe Swap: Carnival/Circus

Last month’s Blythe Swap theme was carnival/circus/fair, and I got an AWESOME package from my swap partner Kristal.

carnival/circus swap goodies

Check out all these goodies!!

carnival/circus swap goodies

Stickers! Lollies! Cotton candy! A pull ring! Clothing! A stuffie!

Here’s Willow modeling this romper set with matching bow. It’s so cute! I love that the fabric combination absolutely reads circus/carnival, but it’s not too clowny.

Willow modeling and sampling the goodies!

Also, get a load of that handmade cotton candy! It’s so creative and such a neat idea!

Willow modeling and sampling the goodies!

In addition to the romper set, here we have a lovely dress, too! Kristal mentioned that her sewing machine wasn’t cooperating fully, but you cannot tell AT ALL. Everything is flawless!

Willow modeling and sampling the goodies!

And check out this little guy!

Willow modeling and sampling the goodies!

What a cutie! I love that he’s kind of a little bit spooky – totally my style!

cute little guy!

Thanks, Kristal! You are a tremendous swap partner!

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bobbing

Friday morning it was lovely – sun shining, most of the snow melted, and a crisp feel in the air. When I went to work I noticed that part of the ice on the retention pond behind the library had melted, too, and there were ducks hanging out at the pond.

ducks in the pond behind the library

Some of them were hanging out on the ice, stretching their wings in the sun. Others were bobbing in the water, no doubt looking for treats that have been hidden under the ice for months. This picture really doesn’t do it justice.

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mani

One of the ways I’ve tried to economize recently is to do my own nails. I also saw it as an opportunity to learn something new, and so far I’ve been fairly pleased with the results. I also feel like having a manicure adds a level of polish (haha) to my style. I don’t wear make-up, so somehow having a manicure helps me feel like my look is more professional. Also it looks cool and keeps me attached to my punk rock self.

I got some great advice on products from the wonderful yarn-gifting E, and with practice I’ve gotten better at doing my right hand without making a huge mess.

So I thought I’d share what I do.

1. Wash your hands liberally throughout the process. Pretty much before every step until you start polishing.

2. Remove old polish with Zoya 3-in-1 remove+ and cotton squares.

DIY mani

DIY mani

3. Then I use a cuticle tool to clean up my cuticles. They tend to be big and take up a fair amount of nail real estate, so I like to make sure they’re all out of the way before I start polishing.

4. Apply one coat of Gelous Advanced Nail Gel Coat (base coat).

DIY mani

5. That’ll dry pretty quickly. Then apply two thin coats of nail polish. My preferred brand is Zoya. It comes in great colors and is free of icky things like toluene, formaldehyde, DBP (phthalates) and camphor. It also wears really well – better, in my experience, than OPI (though I do use OPI polishes sometimes since I already own some). Here I’ve chosen a lovely dark purple cream called Pinta.

DIY mani

DIY mani

6. When the second coat is dry, apply a coat of Poshe Super Fast-drying Topcoat. This is really cool stuff – it does dry to the touch extremely quickly, and it seems to do a really good job of protecting the mani from chipping. Warning: just because it’s dry to the touch doesn’t mean it’s un-mess-up-able. You can still screw up a nail if you put your hands in your pockets and root around, or whatever, but as long as you try not to put pressure on the nails you should be good. And after a little time has gone by you’re set.

DIY mani

7. Result! Pretty nails that are protected from the splitting I always have issues with (thanks, low thyroid!).

DIY mani

I’ve definitely not perfected the process, but it’s getting there. And my nails split a lot less when I have a manicure so it’s helpful as well as pretty.

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melt!

Yesterday when we woke up, a huge amount of the snow was gone. The night before, I’d commented that I could see patches of green grass in the snow in the back yard, and on Friday morning, it was the opposite – a patch of snow on the grass.

melted snow!

Ugh, look at that grass! All the dead patches and, though it doesn’t stand out much in this photo, there is a metric buttload of dog doo on the grass. Ah well, much of the grass is actually white dutch clover (along with crab grass and other weeds), and we’ll continue to fill in the dead patches with clover seed in the spring. Hopefully things will dry out a little and we’ll be able to scoop some poop before the next snow.

There are more snowy patches in the front garden, but it’s still good to see that a lot of the snow is gone. I’m also delighted that the roof and gutters are entirely free of snow!

melted snow!

melted snow!

I even noticed some bulbs peeking up! And the one on the left here has apparently worked its way up from being in the soil where it belongs.

melted snow!

You can see that there are lots of leaves in the garden, and my hope is that they’re providing some insulation.

melted snow!

I am so antsy for it to be later so I can get out and actually DO something in the garden, yet I’m always complaining about time going by too quickly. Never satisfied!

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