Tuesday, August 30, 2011

30 Day Photo Challenge Day 30

Here we are... the finale! 30 days, 30 photos. It's been a long month but I have learned a lot about my camera and photography techniques and am so glad I did this challenge! Today's final challenge was self portrait. Eek, scary!

During my research into various techniques I have found some incredible low light photographs - usually long exposure pictures taken in darkness or semi darkness which can create some beautiful effects with lights - stars, cars, the moon, sparklers, etc. - and interesting images using people and other props. Check out this google image search for some great examples.

There's a class on night photography through community education that I'm thinking about taking to learn more about taking these kinds of pictures, but here is my first attempt...

30 Day Photo Challenge Day 30: Self Portrait

Monday, August 29, 2011

Photo Challenge Day 29

At bedtime every night Fiona requests a "telling story" which is either a completely made up story or a story about something we did that day or are going to do the next day. Here's tonight's telling story...

Once upon a time there was a little girl named Fiona, and she was super smart and super sweet and super awesome (they always start like this). One day Fiona went to the nature center with her friends. Once they got there they found a nest and turned into a Mummy bird and some eggs...

After a while the eggs began to hatch!
(This is honestly what she's doing here!)

And one by one the birds flew until there was just one bird left...

The birds got bigger and moved into a new place together...
(Though they were reluctant to all be in there sitting still at the same time)

And had such a wonderful time playing, climbing, hugging and getting all grubby together that they promised to always be friends...

And they all lived happily ever after.

The end.

So that was our morning. This evening I did something I've been planning to do for a while and took my tripod to Minnehaha Falls. Here's today's photo:

30 Day Photo Challenge Day 29: Black and White

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Photo Challenge Day 28

30 Day Photo Challenge Day 28: Flowers

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Photo Challenge Day 27

30 Day Photo Challenge Day 27: From a distance

Friday, August 26, 2011

Photo Challenge Day 26

Today the girls went to daycare and Ben and I snuck off to the State Fair with his family for a few hours.

We were there for a few reasons - we wanted to see the quilt that Ben's Mum made for Adele that won FIRST PLACE! I'm going to make a separate quilt post some time, but here's a sneak preview...

We were also there to root for the Tennant kids in the "make something fantastic with spam" contest. All three kids entered a recipe and although I tried them all without the spam they were delicious! And Andrew won third place!

Emily got cozy with a Gopher...

Ben, Cathy and the Tennant kids slid on the giant slide...

In addition we checked out all the interesting foods, especially the ones on sticks (a Minnesota tradition!).

And my very favorite: cheese curds. Oh, so good.

30 Day Photo Challenge Day 26: Close Up.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Photo Challenge Day 25

We had Ben's family over for dinner tonight. You may or may not be aware that Ben and I are vegetarian, so I made vegetarian chilli, baked potatoes and salad. To appease the carnivores I also fried up a pound of bacon. I'm telling you, cooking and not eating that bacon nearly killed me. I love you, bacon. I always will.

30 Day Photo Challenge Day 25: Something Pink.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Photo Challenge: Day 24

Being a Sloth is a profession that I can only dream about having. Apparently sloth is a sin but I think that may just be because back in the day there was no Netflix, wi-fi or pizza delivery and the fields didn't just plow themselves y'know.

Also, baby Sloths are adorable!

Since I already photographed Brodie and Monty today we went further afield...

30 Day Photo Challenge Day 24: Animal

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Photo Challenge Day 23

Ben's sister Laurie and her husband Nate are visiting at the moment and we had a lovely afternoon hanging out with his family by the lake. I am tired, so there will not be much text, but I got some cute pictures...

Fiona had fun playing with her cousins and Grandpa...

Adele had fun getting to know Nate and eating crackers...

Aunt Gail got to swim in the lake for the first time!

Andrew practiced his State Fair Spam Competition entry... and the Tennant kids are being interviewed on Kare11 (local TV) tomorrow morning about their entries!

And I spent a lot of time practicing taking sunflare photos. These are so fun to take!

Sunflare + Laurie silhouette...

30 Day Photo Challenge Day 23: Sunflare

Monday, August 22, 2011

Photo Challenge Day 22

Fiona is a very tactile little girl. She wants to touch everything, particularly things that are creepy, crawly, furry, squishy, slimy, jumpy, lumpy, bumby, bitey and just gross (see yesterday's entry!). My tolerance for touching undesirable objects has increased significantly and I have honed my ability to spot and catch a toad from 600 yards*.

* I just googled how far 600 yards actually is and it's apparently 548 meters. So yep, my estimate was pretty accurate! ;-)

Anyway, Fiona loves to touch these interesting creatures and I love that she's not squeamish about this stuff even if it does sometimes give me the heebie jeebies, so I encourage it.

This afternoon we were at a nature center with our friends Kate and Audrey and Kate kindly fished a bunch of stinky, slimy (and mercifully empty) snail shells out of the pond for Fiona and Audrey to check out. She was really happy and excited to hold these lovely objects.

30 Day Photo Challenge Day 22: Hands

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Photo Challenge Day 21

We had another busy day today with more yardwork (cleaned out our gutters out for the first time since we moved here six years ago), cleaning, laundry and a fun visit to the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden with the Tennants.

It was a really nice way to finish the weekend.

And here's the challenge contribution for today...

30 Day Photo Challenge Day 21: Faceless self portrait*

*Yes, I'm drinking wine in this one too.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Photo Challenge Day 20

It's been a busy day! Fiona and I got a lot of yard work done this morning and the girls went to a fun birthday party this afternoon. They were so tired after the party that they both fell asleep in the car on the way home and then went straight to bed. Yep, for real! They are both in bed right now! It's a Saturday night miracle! What should we do with it? Darts tournament? Board game? Right now Ben is watching car reviews on cnet so we'll have to try to do something more exciting than that at least...

Today's challenge was bokeh. According to wikipedia bokeh "is the blur, or the aesthetic quality of the blur, in out-of-focus areas of an image, or "the way the lens renders out-of-focus points of light." "

I love bokeh. I love portraits with bokeh. I love the lens I have that goes down to f1.8 which gives me great bokeh. One of my favorite things about it is that when I take "blurred background" pictures in my messy living room, the mess is all blurry and therefore "artistic" and not "lazy and slightly unhygienic".

My friend Sara who is also taking the challenge went all out and pulled out some christmas lights and got some really beautiful bokeh but I don't have the energy she does so this is my offering for today...

30 day photo challenge day 20: Bokeh (with cat)

Friday, August 19, 2011

Photo Challenge Day 19

Something orange. That's a tall order! There is a definite lack of orange things in my house and I was trying to think of something orange all day long. I went in to work this morning and saw a bunch of orange construction cones. Orange traffic lights. Orange posters around campus. We went for a walk this afternoon and I spotted a man wearing orange shorts. It wasn't convenient to take pictures of the first few and the latter would have been strange, so it was late in the day before I thought of something...

30 Day Photo Challenge Day 19: Something Orange

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Photo Challenge Day 18

My bestest friends from Scotland Amanda and Michelle reminded me of this story the last time I visited. I was in my last year at university, studying for my last ever exams and I'd bought a beautiful new pair of shoes. Oh, they were so pretty. I kept looking at them and being happy that they were mine. Soon I was looking a them more than the (boring) psychology textbook and I had to put them away so I could concentrate. I love those shoes.

From a young age Fiona has also shown an interest in shoes... here she is at Christmas dinner at great grandma's nursing home in 2009 (around 18 months).

(The pictures look really grainy tonight, you can click them for a clearer (and larger) version).

You can tell from the next picture that she is taller, but not much else has changed! This is her official "check out my shoes, aren't they awesome?!" smile.

She still loves to put my shoes on and clomp around the house, and it seems Adele is taking after her. Given that she still gets around on all fours she just wears the shoes on her hands. The girl is obsessed with wearing shoes on her hands. It's hilarious.

(She's just getting ready here, once she has them on it's almost impossible to take her picture because despite the fact that she's crawling while wearing high heeled shoes on her hands, she's fast!)

Sadly I don't have many opportunities to wear all my fun high heeled shoes any more (or un-sadly in a way because my sensible sandals are MUCH more comfortable!) but luckily the girls pull all my shoes out on a fairly regular basis and wear them all.

30 Day Photo Challenge Day 18: Your Shoes

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Photo Challenge Day 17

First things first, when I logged into blogger this evening it popped up a message saying "it looks like your blog is popular! Popular blogs can make money with adsense! Try it now!". I'm so flattered! Popular? Me? Aw, shucks. Thanks, people who read this! You guys are the best!

Second things second, here is a story. As some of you may be aware, British people like tea. Gallons and gallons of tea. It cures all ills. Had a shock? Make some tea. Got a hangover? You need tea, lots of tea, in a big mug. Local priest drops in for a chat? Pop the kettle on. Looters burning up London? Serve cups of tea to the bobbies using riot shields as trays. Seriously, I can't make this stuff up!

When I moved to the land of the free and the home of the brave I found one thing sorely lacking... kettles! There were a variety of kettles that you can put on the stove and whistle when your water boils but they take a really long time and I kept forgetting about it or being in the middle of something else by the time it finally boiled. What I needed was an electric kettle. After a few years I finally found one at Sears and was so excited! Now you can find them everywhere but this one is special. It sits quietly between the utensils and Ben's coffee maker waiting to be put to work and then BAM! Water = boiled. No fuss, no whistling, no need to run naked and soggy from the shower to take it off the stove.

Thanks kettle! Without you, the multiple cups of tea I drink every day would be significantly more challenging.

30 Day Photo Challenge Day 17: Technology.

Yes, it's technology! It has a plug, doesn't it?!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Photo Challenge Day 16

Today's challenge is "long exposure" which can create some incredible photos, but is actually kind of a pain! As a general rule I like to use the shortest exposure possible to maximize my chance of getting a photo before one of my subjects runs off, and long exposure requires the use of tripods, steadiness and patience, none of which are that compatible with toddlers!

I've always loved light painting images, so this afternoon Fiona and I played around with long exposure, jumping around and flashlights. She had lots of fun, and I got a picture that will work for today. This one was exposed for 10 seconds.

30 Day Photo Challenge Day 16: Long Exposure

Monday, August 15, 2011

Photo Challenge Day 15

One of the reasons I am enjoying this challenge is that it is forcing me to learn how to do new things with my camera. Today's challenge is silhouette and I've always loved silhouette pictures of people but did not have any idea how to actually take one myself! So I turned to trusty old google and found this nice list of tips. I tried to take some pictures earlier today with the morning sun coming in the front window, but the sun was too high and the tree across the street was in the way (and the window was filthy - I have no idea how that happened!) so this evening I made Ben and the girls take a walk to the park so I could try to take some more in the low sun.

It was a beautiful evening and I accidentally took this one, which I love!

And I also managed to get this one of Adele. I am so pleased with how these turned out, and will be taking a lot more in the future!

30 Day Photo Challenge Day 15: Silhouette

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Photo Challenge Day 14

Adele is napping, Fiona is playing with Daddy and I'm meant to be doing laundry, so what better time to take a break and play with photoshop?

One of the things I am constantly working on when taking pictures is getting at least one, but preferably both eyes in focus. It's more tricky than it sounds because those girls move fast!

I told Fiona that I wanted to take her picture and this is the pose she did for me...

So I told her I needed to see her eyes and this is what she did next...
So helpful!

So I bribed her with a gummy worm and she cooperated, for the most part...

I did a little editing in photoshop to brighten it up a little and there is day 14.

30 Day Photo Challenge Day 14: Eyes

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Photo Challenge Day 13

We went to the zoo today, then straight to Cathy and Erik's for game night with them and the awesome Lori and David, so I'm attempting to post today's picture from there...

To save you counting here are the things:
1. Cat
2. Hat
3. Mat
4. Fish
5. Pot
6. Rake
7. Dress
8. Kite
9. Umbrella
10. Mirror
11. Books
12. Sally
13. Nameless Boy

Photo Challenge Day 13: Yourself with 13 things

Friday, August 12, 2011

Photo Challenge Day 12

Fiona has been at grandkids camp since yesterday which is a fantastic camp adventure run by her grandparents for her and her big cousins. Adele is too little still, but maybe next year :-)

Apparently she did a really great job and even slept for a few hours last night. She had so much fun and keeps asking for more grandkids camp. I think Grandma and Grandpa are going to need the next year to recover but when it arrives she'll be there with bells on! Camp finished this evening with some playing in the lake, dinner, and a closing ceremony.

Fiona has been getting more confident in the water over the summer and her favourite game is jumping in. She was reluctant to jump off the dock but a couple of weeks ago conquered that fear...



Her cousin Emily is great at getting her to try new things (and eat her vegetables) and Fiona loves hanging out with her and her other cousins.

The closing ceremony involved putting stickers on everyone else who was at camp and telling a memory of them from camp or something nice.

Everyone had really nice things to say and Fiona carefully selected a sticker for each person and told them all something nice. Ryan was first but I was too slow with the video and I missed it but she said "Ryan, this sticker is for you because you're the best swimmer in the whole world I never seen". You'll have to watch the video to see what came next...

After that we had s'mores and brownies. Today's photo challenge was sunset and it was a high pressure challenge because if you miss the sunset there's no second chance! I set the alarm on my phone to go off to remind me but we were still hanging out and facing east when the sun set. To complete the challenge I took a picture of the sunset reflected in the house across the lake reflected in the lake.

Photo Challenge Day 12: Sunset