Photography

Happy World Photography Day!

Today is World Photography Day!  I know that because Facebook told me.  That made me happy.  But Facebook also told me that according to my “memories,” it’s been a year since my LYS closed.  That made me sad.  If I had never looked at Facebook at all, I probably would have experienced nothing other than happiness when my dog jumped on my face this morning, or contentment over my morning coffee.  But, that’s not the world we live in.

Since we live in the world where it’s World Photography Day, I thought I’d show you my new camera, the Olympus OM-D E M10 Mark II.

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So cute, right?

After lugging the Canon 7D through airport security, across England, and back again, I decided that I needed a lighter alternative. While my Project Life album is fueled nearly entirely with iPhone photos, I can’t ever see capturing an important family function or a vacation without a “real” camera.  Although, in truth, I can’t see myself leaving the 7D home if wherever we are going called for that kind of beast.  But, in any event, the idea that I wanted something lighter, smaller, and good had wormed its way into my daydreams, and there was no going back.

At first, I really wanted the Olympus PEN E-PL7 – a stylish retro white camera with brown leather accents and a flip down, front facing screen.  Unfortunately, the white version was only available Internationally (and would therefore come with a rechargeable battery for European voltage), and the US version is plain black.  Meh.  But, there was still the flip down screen – fun!  I watched lots of YouTube videos – this, after all, was marketed as the hipster blogging camera.  And, bloggers seemed to really like it, but in the end,  I couldn’t get past the lack of an optical viewfinder.  How can you rely on the camera back in broad daylight?

So, I moved up the Olympus rack, and went with the OM-D E M10 Mark II, the next higher model.  The Pen-F, a mirrorless rangefinder, was a little more up my alley, but out of my price range.  So, this OM-D model, unlike the E-PL7, has a viewfinder, a better image stabilization system, and a wider range of autofocus spots. I made my final decision after watching This Week in Photo’s Review.

And, it’s still super retro cute!

And, I love it.  While I use the viewfinder outside, as I anticipated, inside, I’ve been using the touch screen focus more than I thought I would.  The filters are fun and easy.  I love the wifi!  I ended up subscribing to Adobe’s photography subscription plan, which is a monthly fee for Lightroom and Photoshop, and it allows you to sync your catalogue across your devices.  So, I have many options for sending my photos off into the world.  The kit lens is just ok – there’s a pancake version and the bulkier one – the difference between the two is $100, and the quality of the pancake lens (still a zoom, but sits flatter) isn’t any better, and according to reviews, may even be a bit worse. The lens is sharp, but not fast, and it really doesn’t give you any lovely bokeh when it’s wide open at 3.5.  So, I have a 17mm prime lens on my wish list, as well as the 45 mm portrait lens as well.

To celebrate my new toy, I created a new playground for it – an Instagram feed just for my Olympus photos.  I watched a bunch of YouTube videos about creating a theme for your Instagram account, but after years of willy nilly posting on my teawithlemon account, there was no way I was going to delete everything and start over.  So, instead, I created the lemonandolive feed, which is pretty much all still life photography shot on the Olympus.

Here are a few examples of the OM-D E M10 ii in action:

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I struggle with still lifes.  While I enjoy “faffing” around, as the flat layers call it, I really hate to invest in flowers just to pull them apart, so I’ve been scavenging in my back yard.  Also, while we have a lot of light in our house, none of our windows is really in a good position relative to any white space, which is ok if I would just buy some kind of white backdrop, but I’ve been pretty lazy about setting up a “home studio.”  I’m in serious like with Kim Klassen’s presets, if you click over there, she has a small taster set you can try for free, as well as a free Lightroom primer, which was very helpful.  She’s relaunching her online studio, Studio 2.0, which I’m probably going to join because I really love her instagram community (see her hashtag, #mystillsundaycompetition), I just haven’t decided at what price level I want to commit.  So, yep, I’m back on the photography kick.

So, hopefully, I’ll be sprucing up ye ol’ blog with some pretty photos – I was on a really good, productive, and inspired roll for awhile, but then it go sooooo hot, and my stone house is like a kiln, it was just so uncomfortable sweating it up just to get a few shots.  I’ll leave you for a lovely weekend with a few gratuitous Olympus Olive shots, because everyone should start their weekend with some puppy love,

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Yarning Along the Stephen West Way

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I have jumped on the Stephen West bandwagon, and I’m riding high on the #WestKnitsKal2015 knit-a-long, The Doodler!

As I mentioned, I watched Stephen’s class on Craftsy while doing the Craftsy binge, and while I’m still raising an eyebrow (or two) at some of his designs, I’m trying to embrace his wild and free aesthetic.  I knit Daybreak in a flurry to wear to the Chargers game last week in Baltimore:

The Chargers, of course, managed to lose in the last 18 seconds, as they did again on Monday night football, but at least I do really love my shawl/scarf.

Even though I had just finished a successful WestKnits project, I was on the fence about signing up for the KAL because the last time I was onboard for a WestKnits mystery, the mystery was a big bummer – intarsia!  Ick.  So, hesitantly, I hit the buy now button on Ravelry, but I didn’t cast on until I saw a few wedges popping up on Ravelry, and I thought, ok, I’m good with this, and here’s my Clue 1:

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As you can see, I tried my hand at a “flat lay.” Flat lay?  I’m so not hip – I had no idea that those highly stylized, collage photos you see on Instagram actually have a name, but then I stumbled onto Emily Quinton’s feed, and her video, Styling a Flatlay.  Even during the height of my photography frenzy, I never really styled a photograph – I was more into slice of life photography, and I still am, I guess, even though my Project Life is totally at a standstill.  I’m so far behind, I’m frozen.  But, I digress.  The flat lay.  When I posted my first snippet of my Doodler on Instagram, I went to sleep, and woke up with 60 likes!  For me, that’s like being picked not last for the kickball team!  I decided to step up my game a bit, and try the flat lay.

I have to admit, I had some troubles.  I just don’t see what flowers and leaves have to do with my knitting.  And, while so many of these photos use lovely wooden backgrounds, my wooden background just looks like my kitchen floor to me.  But, I embraced the concept – it’s all about pretty I guess, and I went to work.

Here’s Olive – of course, she has an opinion!

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In any event, my stylin’ needs some work.

But, back to knitting – My Doodler is part Cascade Heritage Sock, part ToshSock.  That unwound skein of orange is going to be my color 3 for that big wow color pop that is so characteristic of WestKnits.  So, I await Clue 2 on Friday, and I’m curious to see where it goes.

On the reading front, I’m reading the new Robert Galbraith Cormoran Strike novel:

According to the Kindle, I’m 25% in, and I’m enjoying it as much, if not more than the first two.  I love a consistently good detective series, and J.K., er I mean, Robert Galbraith, does not disappoint.

Knit on everyone!

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Hop on Hop Off Washington

Remember I told you we had our kitchen redone?  Remember I said I was going to post pics?

This isn’t that post.

This is the day trip we took for “vacation” – since we couldn’t afford a big budget vacation after the kitchen makeover.  I’m certainly not complaining — we had two weeks off, and that’s always the main thing, right – no work!  Which for Joe and I means no criminals and no jail, definitely a plus.  And, we went to the beach for a few days, took a day trip to Leesport, saw a few movies, and spend the day in Washington.  We took Amtrak very early in the morning (easy peasy, a little expensive – probably gas and parking would have been less, but part of vacation is also minimal driving), and then we bought Hop on Hop Off Big Bus Tickets.

Have you ever done the hopping thing?  If you’re not driving, it’s a pretty decent way to get around.  The stops are pretty clearly marked, and the tour is pretty good (better when you get the bus with the live tour guide as opposed to the canned audio recording).  The only snafu we really had was me not anticipating D.C. traffic for our trip back to Union Station – we cut it really really really close, but we made it,

So, here’s a little round-up of our trip – in somewhat the same order as the hopping on and off.

capitalFirst stop, the Capitol Building – of course, under construction.  We were lucky, though. The rotunda was still open – but I think it closed on 7/29 for the rest of the summer.  To tour the Capitol, you’re supposed to book tours ahead of your visit with your state rep., but there are nonreserved tours if you’re there early – and we were there early – like when the doors opened.  So, we toured the Capitol, but opted not to visit our local congressmen to get passes onto the House floor.  Congress wasn’t in session –  and there was more history to soak up.  Before we got back on the bus, we gazed at the hallowed halls of the Supreme Court.

supremect That’s about as close as I’ll get to THE bench.   I was sorely disappointed that I couldn’t find a Notorious RBG shirt at any vendors anywhere.  Drat.

Back on the bus. We looped around the Washington Monument, passed the Smithsonian and the Federal Reserve to the Jefferson Memorial.jefferson

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And then we walked along the riverbank, passed the FDR Memorial and the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, over to the Lincoln Memorial.  Of course, more photos of the Washington Monument were taken:

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And then I made a miscalculation – we got back on the bus, thinking we’d be able to go over to Arlington, and then back to the WWII Memorial – but the route was detoured because of construction on the Potomac.  So while I enjoyed the ride across the river, passed the Pentagon, and into the parking lot of the Arlington National Cemetery and back again, Joe thought it was a big waste of time.  I thought it was a nice ride with a nice breeze on a 90+ degree day.  And then, instead of getting dropped off at the WWII memorial, we had to walk back from the Washington Monument – and we totally missed the Vietnam Memorial because that would have meant walking nearly all the way back to Lincoln.  Anyway, at some point, the Hop On Hop Off becomes counter productive – you’d have to do the entire loop including the trip across the bridge to go back and see something you missed.  But here’s the WWII Memorial:

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And then we walked to the White House:

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You can take a tour of the White House, but unlike the Capitol, there are no walk-ups – you need to schedule the tour through your state reps office ahead of time.

And then, we were beat.  We had lunch outside at a fancy hotel, and then we walked way across town to the Fallen Police Officer’s Memorial.  And then, we went to the fairly new International Spy Museum – which I found fascinating, but I don’t think Joe was too intrigued until we got the Bond Villain exhibit.

And then it was back to Union Station, and Philly.  And, as I mentioned, don’t forget the traffic – we took the Hop on Hop Off to Union Station, and from where we got on, it was only 4 stops – but it took forever, and Joe was fuming because he had wanted to take the Metro.  Shoulda listened to the hubs.  Oh well.

And by the way, not only did we take a gazillion photos of the Washington Memorial, like all good tourists, we took a selfie (no stick!) at every stop:

Ta Da! A successful day trip!

 

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Something Lovely for the Weekend

Remember this nest?
birdsnest3The eggs have hatched, and we have a little Cardinal family outside our porch window.  A hungry Cardinal family.
hungrybaby2Luckily, Daddy Cardinal arrived with dinner:
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daddybirdfeeding2Once the feeding was done, Daddy Bird took off.  It was up to Momma to bring dessert.
mommabirdShe is totally giving me the eye.
The evil eye.
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Daddy may be pretty, but Momma is fierce.
mommabird3As it should be.

Don’t mess with Momma.

Have a great weekend!

What is a Weekend?

Mom and I took a bus trip to Winterthur on Wednesday to see the Downton Abbey costume exhibit, and of course, if I were the Dowager Countess, Wednesday may as well have been a weekend.  Of course, since the “What is a Weekend” t-shirts were $30, I don’t even have a t-shirt to show for my visit to the once rich and famous, since I’d rather budget my “pocket change” for art supplies or yarn.

Anyway, Winterthur, one of the Dupont Estates in Delaware, is most certainly lovely in the spring and the summer, when the grounds are in full bloom.  On a midseason day, when the fall foliage is past its vibrant orange, reds and rich browns, however, it’s just ok.

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statues

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Ok, so maybe it’s more than just ok.  So above is the Dupont reflecting pool.  I wonder what they reflecting upon?  How much money they had?  Decorating?  Party clothes?  Apparently, Mrs. Dupont changed her linens to match the seasonal foliage, so maybe she contemplated having the staff change the sheets.  I know I was reflecting on why I didn’t have a reflecting pool, and why I wasn’t part of the 1%.

After we wandered around the reflecting pool for a few minutes, and yes, it was just a few minutes, because I went with my mom’s Hadassah group, and everything was very scheduled. Move along ladies!  I wasn’t the youngest in the group, one other woman brought her daughter, and she was younger than I, but with my shoes on, I was definitely the tallest.  So, that was something.

So, the clothes were beautiful, and the exhibit wasn’t overly long.  For only a three season show, I guess it couldn’t be.

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And, after we had spent our hour with the clothes, then we had a guided tour of the Dupont Home.

Here’s where they dined, surrounded by antique Americana,

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And, here’s where they sat, when they weren’t sitting in one of the other 20 or so sitting rooms –

livingroomEh, i wouldn’t be comfortable there, anyway, right?

On the way home, we had lunch at a golf club, across the street from a cornfield, so why not get a cornfield photo –

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And, that was our lovely day!  On the bus, I worked on my latest critter, on it’s way to being a lamb –

FullSizeRenderI was working on him on the bus in hopes that one of the ladies would want to buy him for a grandchild, but nope – lots of compliments, and oh, you should sell them!  But no offers to buy.  Oh well.  Joe did finally ask today where I was going to put all of my little creatures.  I suggested the craft room, since I think that was the only acceptable suggestion, and that was met with approval.

 

 

 

Gratuitous Puppy Photos – It’s Better to be a Thief Than a Poop Eater

Today was the day of reckoning for Olive.

Vet Day.

Clearly, she’s not so happy to be there.

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And she had to confess her sins – of which there are many. Stealing Daddy’s Oakley sunglasses, stealing Mommy’s knitting needles:

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So, the vet considered her many misdeeds, and foreign objects she’s ingested, which no longer, thankfully, includes poop and decided – well, it’s better to be a thief than a poop eater.

True.

I can’t argue with that.

365 Revisited – Sort Of, Not Really

No, I’m not undertaking another 365 Project.  I’ve decided I’m completely against number challenges – 365, numbered week Project Life, 30 Days of anything . . .  if you want to create something, just do it or don’t do it.  It doesn’t make much sense to me to snap a crappy photo just so you don’t miss day 162.  Numbers aside, though, shooting every day is not a bad thing – it’s just not always a possible thing . . . because there’s that life thing.  So, while I never again want to assign a number to another creative endeavor, I would like to shoot more, so, I’ve signed up to receive Katrina Kennedy’s daily emails designed to help you along with your 365 Project through her website, Capture Your 365.

Yesterday’s prompt (because I’m already a day behind – and – I just don’t care.  In fact, I’m not going to do today’s prompt because it’s about capturing a candid photo, and Joe’s not home, and I feel like I have enough dog photos for the week) was to take a photo of something handmade.  The prompt also gave a nice tip about finding good light – near an open window, in a doorway, etc.  Unfortunately, now that it’s daylight savings, there is no light by the time I get home, so I had to settle.

So, what do you do if you have to settle?  First, crank up that ISO – that’s what it’s there for – low light situations.  When I used to shoot film, I really didn’t like shooting above 400 speed film (which is the closest correlation you can get to ISO – film speed), because of the grainy character of the photos.  Ah, silly me – I was young.  But, back then, grain wasn’t retro – it was just the way it was.  Now, I’m ok with a little grainy quality – because it resembles film.  Go figure.  When I shot with film, I didn’t want it to look like film, and now that there’s no film – well, there’s a filter for that.  Anyway, with the Canon 7D, I can shoot with nearly no grain at 800 – even on a sunny day, if I’m capturing a lot of motion, I may leave it on 800.  For these photos, I pushed my ISO up to 1000.  

Next, stablize your camera.  Obviously, this means go get your tripod out of your closet.  I’m lazy.  I didn’t feel like getting my tripod, setting it up, or disassembling it for one photo.  Lazy lazy girl.  So, I put my handmade item on the windowsill, and I set my camera down on the sill.  There, it’s still on the sill.  Of course, you can get camera shake, however slight, from when you press the shutter button down, especially since you’re going to shoot at a ridiculously slow shutter speed.  If you’re photographing something important, set your timer – the shutter will go off automatically, no pressure from your finger, and no shake.  For this, I didn’t do that – because I really didn’t care that much. This sloppines of mine I guess defeats the purpose of practicing – if you’re too lazy to practice good habits, you won’t have good habits.  Whatever.

Then, pick your settings – as long as your camera’s stable – the correct exposure depends on what your vision is – do you want the whole thing in focus, or just a bit with a blurred background?  

Because my camera wasn’t on a tripod, and not truly stable, I went wide – 3.5 f and short 1/15 – 

 

 

The above is the on-the-way-to being finished Smolder –

I know – it looks more finished in this photo, but this is only one of four triangles.  All four triangles are complete – and now they have to be icorded together.  In the top photo you can see all of the live stitches that are hanging out on a holder.

Fun times!

I hate icord.

Wonder why it’s not finished.

 

 

Lemon in Action

For a blog named after her, she hasn’t been making too many appearances.

I think it’s time for some Lemon!

I actually took my camera outside to photograph flowers for Texture Tuesday, but nothing is really in full bloom anymore, and all of the flowers seem to be on the downward side of their cycle.  So, I decided to practice some action photography.  At first, I couldn’t understand why my focus was all screwed up – my shutter was set to a pretty fast speed, I had my ISO up.  But, oh yeah, the target is moving – and the focus has to move too.  Then, I remembered that the Canon 7D has several focusing modes (duh, that’s why I bought the darn thing, so I would have more control – it’s amazing how lazy I’ve gotten), and if you switch your focus mode from One Shot to AI Servo mode – this allows you to shoot a moving target.  You focus on the subject, and then as the subject moves, the Canon will compensate, and continue to focus as the target jumps and moves around.

So, here’s Lemon playing ball.  The focus still isn’t perfect, not because I hadn’t figured out the AI Servo mode, but because it was really too dark to be relying on such a fast shutter speed.  But, they’re still Lemon!

 

She’s so spry, our girl!

And no one is getting their hands on her ball –

Texture Tuesday

How cool is this little book?

My superduper friend Mindy made it, using techniques from Stephanie Lee’s Handbook of Elements class.  

And she gave it to me!!!!

When I opened the package, I was just speechless.  It’s just so lovely.

Here’s the spine –

Vintage mother of pearl buttons.

The book is soldered, with plaster pages.  When I first saw the book in her Flickr stream, I admired it, but poo pooed the soldering.  No fire for me.  Silly, she said, it’s easy.  Of course you can solder!

And when the little book came in the mail, and I turned it over and over in my hands, admiring it so, Joe said, you could do that – I have a soldering gun.

I can do that?

Fire, me?

I don’t know – but I know I’m intrigued . . .

Thanks Mindy! For the book, for the inspiration, for just everything!

And, for anyone stopping by for Texture Tuesday – the first photo has Kim’s Mixed Media Texture.  And the bottom photo has her Art and Joy Texture, and another – but I forget which one it is – one of the grungy ones.

 

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Prospect Garden

Our house is the kind of house that should have a name.

But it doesn’t.

When we were buying it, we referred to it as Lemon Manor.  But, there’s already a Lemon Manor in Fairmount Park.

So, no name.

But, after photographing our flowers today – the house felt like Prospect Garden.

The squirrels ate all of our new bulbs, but luckily, the bulbs that had been planted years and years ago managed to survive.

 

No wonder Lemon loves her yard, eh?

Anyway, in keeping with my communing with nature spirit, today’s icad is test run of this tutorial from Unruly Paper Arts.

I’m not sure if it’s done, I may embelish it a bit, or I may just use the technique again when I make something that’s not an index card.  I didn’t spend much time on it because I was busy working on tomorrow’s card, because the post has to go live by 8:00 a.m. tomorrow.

When I will be your Icad hostess.

And you know I’m not getting up at 7:00 a.m. to make an index card.  

No siree.

 

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