Friday, June 29, 2012

Sugar Coated

Everything is better with sugar! Well, maybe not everything but a little sugar coating goes a long way.

I did not use any layers for this image but did fade out the colours and bumped up the exposure in Lightroom. The strong red in the original capture was not the softness that I was seeing.

Sometimes when I take a photo I see it differently than how it actually is. Well, this is true for a lot of dud shots but what I am referring to now is seeing with my heart and possibility, not my eyes alone. The mood is present in capture, even if based on my perspective, my heart.

I wonder if this is similar to thinking in a different language than we grew up with. It is certainly thinking and seeing in a new way, a different way than the many years I lived without a camera.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Canada Day Approaches

As we approach Canada Day (and also Independence Day for my friends south of the border), our thoughts turn to celebrations and outdoor fun! This shot, taken at the Navy Pier in Chicago was taken right around this time of year a few years back.  Though not Canadian content, it has Canadian colours and was taken by a Canadian girl!

Trying to compose images that will evoke feelings or create moods is probably not the right way to go about things. Instead, I am learning to take pictures of scenes that stir something inside me right there and then. More often than not, that will translate well into print.

Rather than trying to manufacture emotion, let's show that which resonates within us.

On Closer Inspection

Look closely at the ordinary; it is exceptional.

When you are out and about be sure to have your camera, even if you are out and about in very familiar surroundings. There is always something new to see.

What you see from a distance is not the same on closer inspection. Use those feet of yours and your knees too if you have to, to get in close and see what there is to see. The ordinary weed or bloom about to burst open is really an exceptional sight!

For this shot, I used my 60 mm prime lens with settings of 1/125 and f2.8. There is an obvious texture layer over-top but I was careful to make sure it was not over-the-top - less is more and more is less, yes?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Sparking Romance

My macro lens, exceptional evening light and some fabulous layering in processing teamed up to create this magical image.

The lighting was perfect, illuminating this common weed in such a way that was so mesmerizing, much like a campfire's charm. The airy seeds seemed to dance together with the streams of light, brushing up against each other, sparking romance. It was a world I couldn't enter but I wasn't about to look away either!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Sizing it up!

Not all photography work is meant to be large-scale. Not all photography work is capable of being large-scale, depending on resolution.

Choosing the best output size for your work is important for presentation. I have some images that are best printed small and mounted on a 4" x 4" photo block. Some of my work shows best when it is on the larger side. There are a few cases where an image can manage to look pretty good in all sizes. And, of course, there are many that will never see the inside of a lab!

When printing work or planning to put artwork up, it is also important to consider the space and proximity to other pieces of art, furniture or fixtures. This will also play into how good the piece looks and at what size.

Here is my Strobe image. Below it, you'll see I've printed it on the larger side - 2' x 2' - and the image held its own at this size.

Take a look at your images and consider what size will give them the best showing and then head off to the lab!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Gentle Pause

Wait. Stop. Breathe. Pause. Soak in the beauty, the stillness, the wonder.

To keep this image looking soft and almost fluid, I used a shallow depth of field - f2.8, blurring out all but the edges of most of the petals. I softened things up a little further in processing, with a preset as well as with some manual adjustments until I was happy with the outcome.

I wanted this image to be inviting, soft, pleasing so I intentionally avoided the fine detail of the petals' surface.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Sun, Moon and Stars

This shot reminds me of all three: sun, moon and stars. Sometimes the perspective we choose and the composition of the image can push our imagination further. When you take a picture consider what else might be there. Don't lock in to what it is; allow your mind to explore what it might be, even if only in your imagination.

You may have to pull the colour from your shot in order to move further away from the origin and make room for possibility.

Friday, June 22, 2012

I Stepped Into Another Country

It was as though I found myself in another country. The poppies were waving in the fields as I peddled past them on my way to a cobblestone cafe in the next village. The sun was warm and the roads, dusty. A cold drink with a friend would be just right.
In reality, this patch of poppies was waving as I walked past them but it was in my own city of Winnipeg. The poppies grew on a boulevard, surrounded by concrete. Their invitation to another place and another time was unmistakable and so very successful.

Naturally, I had my camera with me. I got in close enough so as not to allow any indication that this picture was taken anywhere other than where the imagination can travel. Using a relatively shallow depth of field, I focused on one poppy, allowing the rest to move and wave into the blur.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Refreshingly Reflective

Ah, the fun with reflection! I could while away many hours playing with this kind of light.

My daughter brought home a glass bottle of Sprite yesterday, which I immediately asked for once she downed the contents.

Today, I placed the bottle on my dining table with the morning light behind it. Not satisfied with the initial and predictable shots, I challenged myself to think out of the box, to bring my creative thinking to a different level.
I tried focusing on many different points with my macro lens and in the end decided on this for an abstract feel.  Focusing in where the bottle meets the surface, I used f2.8 and 1/160 shutter speed.

Bug Eyed

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Morning Light

Stepping into my friend's kitchen, I was bathed in the morning light and also her warm welcome. The beautiful touches of my friend were easily seen throughout the rooms. I'm not sure which was sunnier, the evidence of my friend's hand or the light streaming in from the windows.

I bumped up the ISO to 400 to make sure I had adequate exposure for each hand-held shot. Once on my computer, I brought each of these images into Photoshop to add a soft layer overtop, enhancing the softness of the morning light - just a touch.


I spent the morning with a good friend, wandering the streets and sidewalks of the Wolseley neighbourhood in Winnipeg. The character homes, quaint gardens, spindled fences, and cozy corners are almost too much to take in at once.

Of course, I had my camera with me and took a bunch of pictures. For this post I'll share my bicycle images with you. Known as an environmentally friendly area, peddle power (and walking) is a popular mode of transportation in this community, which adds to the neighbourhood's overall charm.

Both of these images are taken with my 60 mm prime lens. I love to take pictures of parts of things and allow the viewer to fill in the rest. This is easier for the viewer if the part I choose to capture is quickly identifiable.

Come On In...

...the door's open!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Winnipeg's Exchange District

I was in Winnipeg's beloved Exchange District today and took a few shots of what caught my eye. How interesting to me that no matter how often I find my way to this area, I see things new (not necessarily new things).

As I look at my images there certainly is an underlying connectivity. Here, in this grouping of pictures, the oranges are similar and the shapes and forms found are too. There is also an overall sense of the passage of time threaded between each image.

Even with the differences in the pictures, I seem to find ways to group them, to have them belong to each other.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Thai Eggplant

When I was in the grocery store the other day, I spotted these little squash-like beauties in the produce section. With no idea of what they were called, I hunted down the nearest produce man (who also happens to be the whistling man) and asked him what they were. He said "eggplant" - well, I know what an eggplant looks like and these did not resemble it at all! Noticing my doubt, he added, "Thai Eggplant".

I bought a few for the sole purpose of taking their pictures. I doubt I'll eat them.

I placed the eggplants on my counter-top near the kitchen window so what light there was on that cloudy day would reach them. Not enough, I got my tripod, slowed my shutter speed and opened my aperture wide.

In processing I stripped the colour, wanting the textures, lines and forms to be accentuated best in black and white.

The composition is simple with just the two eggplants and a whole lot of negative space. The stems are intentional in their placement, allowing us to easily connect "the dotted line" in our minds.

Catching Raindrops

It is a rainy morning here in Winnipeg, the perfect time to try and catch some raindrops.

I set my camera up on my tripod with my 75-300mm lens and attached my remote switch to avoid camera shake. I didn't have to wait long at all for each of the drips to drop. My problem was speed, or the lack-there-of. Even with bumping up my ISO, my lens was just not fast enough to stop the action of the drop in lower light conditions. Well, I guess it could have but the image would have been too dark to see a thing!

I settled on shooting the drop still clinging to the grape leaf and used a speed of 1/80  and also f5.6 for barely adequate exposure. ISO was way up there at 1000. Because I was shooting through a screened window, the noise was not as great an issue as it would have been for just about any other shot. There was enough other stuff going on to mask it. I did add a layer in processing to hide the noise even more and darken the shadows.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Words Without Pictures

I've spent a lot of time thinking about spring and the new life it brings. It can be exciting and so full of amazing changes. But last Sunday, my thoughts shifted to the season of summer as a guest speaker spoke at our church.

Aaron Wiebe talked about summer being a foretaste of heaven. A summertime of the heart can be the opposite of winter when God may feel remote, distant. Summer is a time of abundance and fruitfulness.

Aaron encouraged us to revel in summer (enjoy, play, rest), water in summer (water our souls, leave water footprints wherever we go), gather in summer (what God gives, give back - be expectant to both give and receive that which is precious) and finally, prune in summer (don't mistake leafiness for fruitfulness).

I came away feeling sun-kissed and Son-kissed, both. I was encouraged and filled with hope, inspired to go through this coming season of summer in a new way, starting right now.

For your amusement I scanned my notes from Sunday and will include them below (it's not really a picture so I'll keep my post title). To most, this will make no sense - it is jibberish, but I am a visual and creative learner. Learning in church doesn't stop that. (To my embarrassment I see that I misspelled 'foretaste'...oh well...)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Vintage Steel

I love taking pictures of musical instruments. One day I will head over to spend some time with my father-in-law and get some shots of him playing his saxophone, mandolin, harmonica, guitar, and any other instrument he has that I have forgotten at the moment.

In the meantime, I will keep taking pictures of the musical instruments we have here. Today I brought my husband's vintage steel guitar outside to shoot. The overcast sky was just right for my little shooting adventure.

Using f2.8 and a shutter speed of 1/400 I snapped a bunch of photos with my prime lens.

I quite like the rough textures of the fence and grass surrounding the sleek guitar with smooth lines. It is also a little bit quirky to photograph this outside - which I also like.

Getting low to the patio I got in much closer for this shot. I enjoy how the fence echos the guitar in design, first with the wood knot repeating the shape of the tone knob and then the shape of the wetter wood on the fence bottom replicating the form of the bunched up chord, only inverted. Finally the direction and lines of the wood grain are quite similar to the lines of the guitar strings.

And finally, much closer. With the darker shadows, this one is a little more moody.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Grape Leaf

Our grapevine is out of control. In a few days time with the help of some heavy rains it has grown and reached well beyond its usual borders.

I took advantage of my perspective as I was sitting at my dining table, getting some work done. Though a windy day, this leaf was pretty still, clinging to my window, beautifully backlit by the daylight. I grabbed my camera and took a bunch of shots with my macro lens, wanting to get as much of the detailed pattern in the veining as possible.

Still wanting to add to the image, I brought it into photo shop to add a texture layer, partly for mood and partly to mask my dirty windows!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Forks

We enjoyed a break in the clouds yesterday. A perfect place to savor the sunshine in the city is The Forks, where the Assiniboine River and Red River meet. Market places, patio restaurants, buskers, outdoor festivals, boat rides are just some of the offerings found at this junction.

To get this shot (taken from the bridge), I used my 24-70mm f2.8 lens. I shot at a speed of 1/200 sec @ f/13. Using a large depth of field was important to having as much of the scene in focus as possible. For me, the sky was just as significant to the picture as The Forks, for it is both interesting and draws attention to The Forks and surrounding buildings with the clouds and the plane trails. I added layers in processing to enhance the image further.

This was just a fun picture to take! The contrasts between hard and soft and also in the colours present were irresistible. Blowing out the sky in some measure was necessary to have adequate exposure for the light standard. Even with that, I still bumped up the standard's brightness and scaled back the exposure of the sky in processing to get the end result I was after.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Urban Fields

They come together and stand side by side, urban and rural, concrete and wheat. They are so different yet together, beautifully so.

To accentuate the differences, I brought this image into Photoshop and added a texture layer. Still not enough, I played with the colour and contrast until I felt it represented well what I felt the image was saying. The contrasts were key to this image...but the contrasts needed to live well in community with each other.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Spider Webs and Dew Drops on a Saturday Morning

I need to start wearing knee pads for these kinds of shoots. Crawling around on stones to get the shots is painful. Funny how I often don't notice the pain or disregard it until I move to get up after the images are captured.

The rain and heavy fog have left behind millions of tiny drops on the grass blades and spider webs. If you look closely you'll not only see a large dew drop (that is actually pretty small) but on each web string is a line of drops. It is quite spectacular when magnified.

I used my 60 mm macro lens to get right close to the dew drops. I bumped up my ISO to 200 and used an f-stop of 2.8 to get decent exposure at a 1/60 shutter speed.


I put my knee pads on and got back out there.

Friday, June 8, 2012


Flying high and seemingly far apart at times, the gulls remain connected by their calls across the water. They are strong enough to go out on their own but always come back to each other. They belong.

The fun of this image was playing with it in processing. I started by applying a preset in Lightroom (Hallowed Black) and then brought it into Photoshop to play some more, trying out a few textures before I found the one I liked the best.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Where the Clouds Grow

I found the place where the clouds grow.

Shallow depth of field and beautifully soft morning light were my friends when I visited my gardens this morning. As I looked through my viewfinder with my aperture set at f2.8, the petals billowed into clouds around the base of the flower (which I tried to keep focused and sharp to give a frame of reference).

Letting my imagination go with the visuals presented to me through my lens is so much fun!

Sunday, June 3, 2012


While I was snapping pictures of the chives near my patio, a bee decided to join me. Happy for the opportunity to take its picture, I continued shooting.

Friday, June 1, 2012


While I'm on my dandelion kick, I'll add another image I took this morning that I've called Wishes.

I love how these two wishes have lodged themselves between a rock and a hard place. Yet they are still present, like hope. And isn't that exactly the place where we feel we need hope the most?

I wanted this image to be as natural as possible. I chose not to use any layers or processing outside of some sharpening and removal of noise. I did not change the colours present or add any layers to blur or modify the image. Choosing to show these seeds just as they were was important to me. The wind called for many captures to get one image that was relatively sharp. In the end, I am pretty happy with the results.