2010 in review

Happy New Year’s Eve! Do you have fun plans? I’m having some friends over.

I thought I’d post a photo summary of some things I did this year, along with links back to older entries that you may want to check out if you are new.

Lots of things happened in 2010, many of them negative, but let’s focus on the good things in this post:

January: Well, I was going to post a photo to represent something from January, but I realized I didn’t have much to choose from. January was pretty uneventful for me, which is fine. I mostly bird watched and stayed indoors. I’m so crazy!

February: The biggest event was that my mom came to visit me (without my dad!) so she could attend a women’s conference where I’d be teaching a photography workshop. I also finally hung pictures around my place after a few months of bare walls.

March: I enjoyed the cherry trees in full bloom, had an Easter party and started getting into blogging.

April: My former-roommate and current friend, Holly, visited from Colorado and helped me practice portrait photography.

April: I also tried to take advantage of the flowery season and visited a garden or two. I went a little crazy on dogwood photos.

May: I visited the Iris Garden. Twice.

June: My sister and her oldest daughter visited. I ended up pinching a nerve in my neck, so our outings were limited. We were able to go to the Japanese Garden, though.

July: I met my family in Tahoe for Independence Day weekend. We also visited Virginia City.

July: I also grew butterflies, thanks to a gift from Holly. It was fascinating and I learned so much! I blogged about the process and you can see all the posts by clicking here (though the top entry is the last, so read them in reverse).

August: Nothing major to report. I posted about my visit to a garden.

September: I went whale watching for the first time! It was a great day in an otherwise sucktacular month.

October: I went to visit my sister in New Mexico during the annual Balloon Fiesta. It was a great photo op and I posted several entries: the wildlife, balloons (day and night) and the walk around the bosque. I also visited the Oregon Garden and my family in CA, but I don’t want to bog you down with links.

November: I did a lot of baking, spent Thanksgiving weekend with friends and took a lot of pictures. It was a pretty good month, as far as I can recall (like it was so long ago).

This is still November. Fog + fall color = yay!

December: This was a busy month. My friend D visited in early December, but we didn’t have a chance to do a portrait session. Hopefully when she visits in February. πŸ™‚ We did go to Silver Falls, though.

In mid-December, my church teamed up with another for a concert. It was fun and we performed in a pretty building that I had never been to. I didn’t post about it, but here are a couple of photos I took with my point-and-shoot.

December: I did a lot of portrait photography, both casually and for work-reasons. Feel free to click on my portraits topic to see some of my photos over the past year or so.

December: When I went to visit family in CA for Christmas, I took lots of pictures of my nieces (as usual).

So far I haven’t made any major plans for 2011, but I hope to do more portrait photography, read more than I did in 2010 (I finished 30 books, but as a non-wife and non-mom, I should be doing better than that), take a real trip that doesn’t involve visiting family (no offense, guys!), blog more consistently, gain more readers, and cook more. I have several other little goals but will talk about them over time.

Thanks to those of you who follow this blog–I really appreciate it and it helps keep me working harder at photography, etc. Let’s have a really awesome 2011.


Roasted Brussels Sprouts

This is an easy recipe that doesn’t really require the three photos I’m posting about it, but what else will I do with them? I didn’t actually cook this–my dad made it while I took pictures. I didn’t grow up eating Brussels sprouts because my dad thought he didn’t like them. I believe I tried them once and was disappointed, so I have assumed I didn’t like them either. Roasting them made all the difference!

I don’t have measurements, but if you’ve ever roasted a vegetable this shouldn’t be too hard.

Take as many of the sprouts that you want to serve, and slice them all in half (lengthwise, so the leaves are attached to the stem and don’t end up creating a large Brussels salad).

Spread them on a cookie sheet or roasting pan and pour olive oil over them. Pour enough that they can all be lightly coated.

Add salt and pepper to taste, then give them a stir and put them in the oven at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes or so. (My dad actually cooked them under the broiler at 350, but I don’t think regular ovens let you choose the temp, so he said this would be the translation.) And that’s it! Dad, did I explain it right?

Food 365

[A pomegranate from my parents’ tree.]

In 2007 and 2009 I did Project 365, which is where you take a daily photo for the entire year (and ideally post them for others to see). It’s an idea I came across online, and it’s more challenging than it seems. By the end of 2007, I was burnt out and needed a break, so I switched to Project 52 in 2008. Then I missed having the everyday photos and went back to 365 for ’09. I loved being able to look at my Project 365 gallery and remember so many events of the year that I probably would’ve forgotten otherwise. Gifts in the mail, outings with friends, funny situations, etc. I recommend the project if you have any interest in taking pictures–it’s fun, challenging and rewarding.

This year I didn’t take on any year-long projects, but just allowed myself to photograph all kinds of random things and put them in my galleries like a digital scrapbook. I think Project 365 (and digital cameras :P) helps put you in that mode to photograph even mundane things. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad.

Naturally, I’m refreshed and ready for a new photo goal for 2011, and I have come up with my project. I will take a picture of something I eat or drink each day. My reasoning for being so specific is because a) people seem to enjoy photos of food; b) I’ve been interested food photography and need lots of practice; and c) I’m hoping it will motivate me to cook even more and try new things for the sake of getting a unique photo.

I’m not going to post all of the photos in my blog since you probably don’t need to see snapshots of Coke Zero taken with my cell (I know by now that there are good and bad days when it comes to Project 365), but I do hope to post some of my favorite photos from each week.

Do you have any projects planned for 2011? Have you ever done a photo project for a year?

[My mom’s pumpkin pie with freshly whipped cream. Obviously I’ve been gearing up for the new yearΒ 
with these pictures I took during my Christmas trip.]

The nieces and the orchards

Hi, how was your Christmas?

I’m in California for a few days, visiting family. Last night I had a sleepover with the nieces, which included making friendship bracelets, having my nails done (I now have various bugs and letters on them) and having lip gloss applied in stripes.

Today we walked out to the nearby orchards to get a few bubbly photos. I like Oregon, but I definitely miss having relatively nice weather in the winter. Okay, here we go!

Little N.. at age 3-and-a-half, she’s practically impossible to pose. It’s easier to just follow her around and take a bunch of shots until I get a decent one.

Something about blowing bubbles makes you close your eyes, I guess.

See? I have a similarly-posed photo of K back when she was 2 or 3, so I’ll have to post a comparison shot sometime.

L is 11 but is looking older and definitely like the oldest sister. Oh and she’s taller than me.

The second photo looks like a dance move.

This photo looks like spring.

More goofiness from N.

And more. I’m not complaining!

I tried to get a nice (less goofy) portrait of each. I love this one of L. I just mentioned Justin Bieber to get a more natural, happy smile out of her.

Beautiful K is always a natural in front of the camera.

This is the least goofy pose I have of N. She’s a diva girl.

Another couple of K. I was happy with how they turned out.

It was just coincidence that the girls wore shirts that went well together. No clashing but plenty of color. Doesn’t it seem like it could be Easter time?

I have lots of other photos from this trip and they’ll be coming in future posts. I also have other stuff to tell you when I get some free time this week. Check back, yo.

Portraits – J

My friend J needed a photo of himself to give to his family at Christmas. Of course I took advantage of the opportunity to practice my male portrait photography and he was a very good sport about it (especially since it was pretty chilly out). Photographing guys can be a challenge because I don’t always know the right poses. I definitely need more practice, but I was happy with how these turned out.

J said he’d be slightly embarrassed by this blog post, but he’d live with it. πŸ™‚ Hey, I’m not here to embarrass! But I can’t really talk since I hate photos of myself. My friends (and even strangers) are nice to put up with my need to practice and post my photography. Thank you!

I turned a couple of these black and white, but I like the color version as well. Here’s a side-by-side so you can decide which you prefer. I welcome your thoughts!

Here too.

The one on the right is probably my favorite (and yes, it’s ever so slightly different from the one above). The dark green background and J work well together.

Okay, so I don’t have a million guy poses up my sleeve…I’m working on it!

Tada! I’m hoping to get back into more regular posting since my schedule is about to calm down, so check back.

Portraits – A

I had another photo shoot at work today and was happy with the results, especially since it was raining the entire time I took pictures. (We took advantage of covered areas and an umbrella for many of the photos.) The lovely subject, A, was super accommodating and happy to try different ideas, even when it meant getting cold and wet in the process. Here are some of my favorites.

The next several days are very busy for me, so I probably won’t post for awhile. That’s probably a relief to you, so enjoy it! πŸ™‚

Christmas Prep

I’ve been taking some pictures (surprise!) of different Christmasy things in my home recently. I’m not one to go all out on the decorative details, but I like the little moments of festivity that happen this time of year. Might as well record them!

My sister sent me a pre-Christmas gift. This little tree (which came as a kit–I decorated it with stickers) and two of these cute towels. She knows I don’t have a tree since I live alone (I don’t want to have to clean it up!), so this will do. It’s about a foot tall.

I did some gift wrapping today. This box is stuff for my New Mexico nieces and nephews, and it’s almost ready to ship! Yeah, R, there’s going to be a lot of sharing in this package, which you can tell by all their initials on the gifts. πŸ™‚

Please excuse the wrapping job in these photos. I can wrap nicely when I’m in the mood, but that mood only happens like once every five years.

Most years, the adults in my family draw names so we only have to buy gifts for one person. This year I got my mom, which is fun because she’s pretty easy to buy for. Notice I made good use of a Sharpie, too–I’m out of gift tags.

My wrapping paper colors aren’t especially Christmasy. These photos could be from a birthday party. And wow, someone needs invisible tape!

In my wrapping paper box I found this cute soap dispenser that my aunt K sent me a couple of years ago. Fun fact: I’ve never seen a cardinal in real life. It’s on my bucket list, though. πŸ™‚

Sorry, R, your kids are getting candy with their gifts. I’m sure you were just thinking that’s one thing thing they really need!

Which Hershey’s miniature is your favorite? I tend to fluctuate over time, but for now it’s just the plain milk chocolate bar. It’s never Mr. Goodbar, though.

After forgetting two weekends in a row, I decided not to hang lights. But then I found these ones in the wrapping box and tossed them on the deck in about 5 minutes. There. Festive.

A little later.

I had my tripod, so I couldn’t resist trying this trick I learned from a friend once. You just zoom in during the shot. I’ll do better next time.

Unrelated: This photo was actually taken last month, but I don’t think I showed it to you. Some other friends saw it and liked it, so I thought I’d share here. It was an almost-full moon and I liked the reflection in the lake.

Okay, that’s all I’ve got! I’m hoping to get some Christmas photos outdoors in the next week. We shall see.

Portraits – M

Today I got to do some portrait photography for work. M gave me permission to show you some of my favorites from our little photo session. She was nice and great to work with. So was the winter sun–it has been raining on and off today, so we really lucked out with a little window of nice weather this afternoon. Oh and I love her hair!

I think I love this one best. I’ve been wanting to work with more backlighting and flare, so it was fun to do something a little different (for me).

I’ll end with an unrelated photo, but I took it a few minutes before I met up with M and I don’t know where else to post it, so here you go.

Yay for tomorrow being Thursday! I love Thursdays and I haven’t been feeling great, so here’s to an amazing turn around for the end of my week. *clink*

Photography: Long Exposure

My sister commented with the following request:

…your moving water photos are so awesome. Feel free to explain how you did that.

Since I enjoy training and explaining, I’ll use her question as my first blog photo lesson. Let me know if you enjoy this because I wouldn’t mind doing more of it, but only if I know it’s helpful and not boring or annoying.

[DISCLAIMER: I am an amateur and don’t always know the terms or best ways to approach different photos. There are plenty of more qualified people online who can explain these things, I’m just offering up my personal experiences and thoughts in case it is helpful for you.]

It’s popular to take moving water photos with a long exposure time in order to give the water a smooth, soft appearance. When I say “long exposure time,” I am referring to the shutter speed, which is the length of time the shutter is open. The long exposure allows the camera to capture the motion of the water from one point to another, which translates to a silky, matte appearance in many cases.

One thing about long exposure times is that there’s more opportunity for shaking the camera and making the entire photo out of focus. This is why a tripod, or at least a level and steady surface, is useful (and often essential) for these types of photos.

You might also know that the longer the shutter stays open, the more light is allowed in. If you slow down your shutter speed without changing other settings on your camera, your resulting photo may become overexposed. To compensate, you will probably need to adjust the ISO and the aperture.

For starters, I always put the ISO (light sensitivity) down to the lowest setting (100 on my camera). Lower ISOs are more desirable anyway, so this is a perfect opportunity to use one. Then I adjust the aperture (by setting the f-stop to a higher number, meaning a smaller opening) to what works best with the shutter speed for correct exposure. Take some practice shots and see how it goes.

Here’s an example. The above photo’s settings are as follows:

ISO = 100
Aperture/F-stop = f/22
Shutter speed = 1 second

You can use this technique to soften moving water of any kind. I’d like to try it on the ocean sometime, but haven’t had the opportunity.

The settings for the above photo are:

ISO = 100
Aperture/F-stop = f/11 (it had gotten darker by now so I didn’t need it as high)
Shutter speed = 3.2 seconds

If it’s too bright outside, sometimes it’s just not possible to use a very slow shutter speed, even when the other two settings are adjusted. It’s better to take waterfall photos in the shade or while it’s dim outside. Low light was on my side on this trip to Silver Falls since it’s winter and was approaching sunset.

Okay, I hope this wasn’t too boring and maybe even helpful. Let me know if you try it!

Silver Falls

I finally redesigned my blog, though it’s probably just temporary. You can come look at it here if you are seeing this through a reader.

Now for the main point of this post. My friend D is visiting from California. She and I have been friends since fifth grade, and it’s great to have her here. Today it was actually sunny, so we decided to go over to Silver Falls since she has never been. I have been a few times and was figuring I’d not want to take many pictures, but I’ve never seen it at this time of year. It was very full and the fall/winter colors gave everything a different look. I had a great time walking around in all the mist and taking pictures, even though it was pretty cold and it gets dark so dang early. Oh Oregon…why?

A standard shot of South Falls. It’s the only waterfall we visited while there. Oh and I didn’t bring a tripod, so for all of these the camera was either hand-held or set on a fence post or something.

For those of you who haven’t been here, you can walk behind the waterfall on a trail. We actually didn’t because it was too wet. This photo isn’t fabulous, but it gives you an idea of the size.

Another unfab photo just to show you the area.

I’m competing for the world’s record of Most Photos of a Fuzzy White Line in One Blog Post.

The plants growing out of the rock wall were all misty, but it was hard to capture them in photos.

Of course I have to take pictures of ferns. And here’s a trail in the park around the falls.

I’m still into photographing mushrooms, so D was alerting me whenever she came across some.

I didn’t even notice this cute curled grass until I looked at this photo on my computer. It’s like a grass swan!

There were a few mini waterfalls on the sides of the cliff.

I was all into photographing the moving water, as you can tell. Next time I really need to bring the tripod for all the long exposures, but I really hate using tripods.

Which do you prefer? With or without dead leaves in front?

Speaking of leaves.

This little guy was just growing out of the end of a log.

Okay, thanks for looking!