Saturday, September 20, 2014

Dahlias

Last month I visited Frey's Dahlias, a nearby dahlia farm, after hearing about it through Twitter. It was a really nice evening, and there were sooooooooooooooooooooo many dahlias of all types and colors. I could've stayed longer, but it was already long after closing when I left.

My favorites are this type with all the little "rolled up napkins" as a friend described them. I tended to give them extra attention, though I need more practice taking their picture.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Splashing water


Awhile back I finally tried something I've seen a lot online, but thought it wouldn't work for me. I figured I needed better lighting, but after some success with catching drops in mid air (see this post), I felt more confident about catching the splashes.

It ended up being really fun and slightly addictive. I want to do it again sometime once I track down some new backdrops.


Here's basically what I did:
I filled up a clear glass bowl of water and stacked it on top of a smaller bowl placed upside down in the sink. This was just to give me the height I needed for a good camera angle--you can find other methods, of course.

Then I used my macro lens, tripod and external flash. I pointed the flash up at the ceiling for reflective light. Then I turned the faucet on a slow drip. Here's what my setup looked like:


I wanted to add some color to help the drops and splashes show. That's where I had fun experimenting with different scrapbook papers I had on hand.


I started with something fairly pale but the more vivid colors seemed to work better in showing detail (I had to pump up the color in the above photo).

The most effective paper was one with a very glittery/shiny texture. It helped bring out more dimension in the drops with my flash reflecting off the foily surface. I have it pictured here, though it's hard to make out the sparkles:


But this first method of having that same paper under and behind the bowl was a little too much craziness in the resulting images. The glittery appearance detracted from the droplets. I found having this glittery paper under the bowl gave a nice color from below, and then putting something else non-glittery as a backdrop meant the drops could have two colors intertwining.

I also tried using foil, but wasn't as interested in the effect, even though I think this picture is cute (if a little out of focus). Like a boiling pot of potion!

One of the funnest things, which was unexpected, was seeing the little sculptures that resulted from the splashing droplets! I shared a few on Instagram back when I first took the pictures. There were the more obvious things, like the planet/spacey image above.

And then I noticed I got a Mary-like droplet. (I joked that she's either holding twins or very well-endowed, though. :D [Am I allowed to say that here?])

I found lots of my images had what appeared to be a kneeling, robed man or woman. Holy water! These could either look like Mary or just a praying nun or something.

She's definitely in prayer. Do not disturb.

Here's a wise man. Merry Christmas.

A slightly more abstract wise man or kneeling figure of some sort.

This one looks like an artistic sculpture of a woman. Notice here the effect I was talking about where the pink from under the bowl is giving nice outlines against the paler blue behind it.

Maybe I'm crazy, but doesn't this look like a kitty playing with some yarn or something?

To me this looked like what I remember of that rat from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Shredder, is it? No, it's Splinter. Whatever! Anyway, doesn't it look like him? Or some other robed rat kind of hunched and looking pensive.

And a ghost!

It's okay if you see something different in these (if anything besides just water). Those were my first impressions and they have stuck with me each time I re-look at the pictures, but let me know if you disagree. :)

Monday, September 8, 2014

Deepwood Estate (again)

I need to chip away at the pile of photos I took in August and post some for you. Might as well give them more purpose than just sitting on my hard drive! Here are some I took at Deepwood Estate during a couple of visits. That place always has something more to give me, even when I think it'll be the same old thing. I've been trying to stretch myself a bit and try new things instead of retaking the same angles over and over. Flowers are beautiful on their own, of course, but I want to improve and capture something different. Sometimes I semi-accomplish that, sometimes not, but just trying things helps me see other possibilities, shapes, colors and textures that are sometimes easy to miss.

Anyway, enough talk. Here are a bundle of my favs.

Grapes are fun! And I really like how this looks in the dark gray tones.

I've been experimenting more with Photoshop actions lately. I might explain that more someday, but most actions are like makeup for photos. And, in my opinion, they tend to look best when they are barely detectable--sort of like well-applied makeup!

Don't those grapes look plastic? Also, the tree looks like he has a face.

My friend Jennifer seems to know almost all the flower names, and she told me the ones on the right are Nasturtium. I like the round leaves.

I've been loving the snapdragons. I didn't even know these were them (until Jennifer told me), but their shape is fun. PS My mom is also good at flowers, but Jennifer is usually around when I first ask and beats her to the answers. :)

The flowers on the left are Monk's Hood, which I learned after asking several friends. That one actually stumped Jennifer. Did you know what they were before I told you?

Well, the formatting on this post is a bit sloppy, but I don't have the energy to keep messing with it. I hope you don't mind. Have a great week!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Being into photography


This isn't the typical "What I'm Into" post with a variety of topics. There was one thing that stood out for me in August: photography. It took over my thoughts, evenings, weekends and often my nights when I'd obsessively plan things in my mind, resulting in not enough sleep.


Early in the month I was taking drives through new neighborhoods, pulling over to take pictures. Then I was stopping by gardens after work and on weekends. One weekend I went to the wildlife refuge on both Saturday and Sunday. At home I was making messes with my photo experimentation of droplets, scrapbook paper and store-bought flowers. And I think my neighbors probably think of me as, "that weird girl who's always standing in that corner of the lake with her camera," after all the time I spent trying to get good dragonfly photos. I "pinterested" ideas (always a very humbling experience) and read editing tutorials to work on taking my photos to the next level. I experienced a range of emotions and thoughts related to photography and my pictures. In more dramatic moments, I wished I could start over again and delete everything I've ever showed anyone, because it was "all wrong." And of course I sometimes got caught up in whiny thoughts about needing to upgrade my photography equipment, as if I can blame it entirely for holding me back.


It seemed like the more I photographed, the more I wanted to try and retry in order to get the pictures I was after. In some cases, I got close to what I wanted, but in others I was still disappointed. And then I felt ungrateful for always wanting something better.


Being consumed by photography is both thrilling and tiresome. I was glad to make the most of the last part of summer, but sometimes I felt conflicted by "What's the point of all this?" thoughts. I have hundreds of photos to show for my time, but most will never actually be posted/seen. A friend of mine reminded me that every photo I take is practice and helps me be better, which is a great point. ("But then what?" my argumentative mind thinks.) They do serve that purpose, even if now they are just taking up space on my computer. I try to be liberal in deleting, but there's always the, "What if" aspect of pictures that makes me keep several--maybe I will wish I had documentation of certain flowers, for instance. You know, if I ever decide to create my own little photo directory. :)


Or maybe I'll be asked to post my photos in a gallery, and I will want to have several options to choose from. And that's exactly what has happened--my boss asked me to be the October "artist" (I never think of myself as an artist) for our little gallery at work. This will be my third time. At first, despite being very flattered, I was uncomfortable and hesitant to accept. I worry that maybe I'm taking the opportunity away from someone much more deserving. I worry that people will look at my photos and go, "Eh...I don't get why her stuff is here again. There's way better stuff out there." Because I think that all the time! And that's probably not cool of me to say here in the public, because it's likely smarter (in a business sense) to sound all confident and together about my photography. Well, I can be very insecure about it when it comes to more official ways of presenting it. And I'm not fishing for compliments and reassurance--not at all. I'm just expressing how I feel and how I'm sure a lot of people feel about whatever it is they spend their time on, whether it's cooking, writing, parenting, sewing or coding new programs. And the internet can be such a double-edged sword in this respect, because we have this HUGE pile of resources to help us learn, but then we are also exposed to so many people doing the same thing and seemingly doing it better (and often at a younger age and with less practice). It's hard not to compare.


Anyway, this is WAY more texty than I intended, but I'm leaving it. The photos contained here were all taken this past month, though I'm intentionally leaving out some of my finalists for the gallery. Might as well keep some things a surprise, if any of you happen to see it.


How about you--did you have any overarching themes in your August?

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Faucet art

Awhile back, someone sent me a photo in this style saying I might find it cool, and I did! I can't remember who it was, and I keep asking but no one has spoken up yet. Anyway, last night I decided to finally try out this technique. Knowing how my photo experiments usually go, I anticipated disappointment and lots of challenges, but it actually went pretty smoothly!

To do this, I set up some scrapbook paper behind the kitchen faucet, turned the water on a slow drip, and took some pictures. I had to use my flash, so I couldn't just do rapid-fire photos (the flash can't keep up), but the drops were coming slow and regularly enough that I was able to get into a rhythm (though I still had a lot of photos to delete afterwards).

Here's a behind-the-scenes look...

I taped the paper to a pitcher that I had sitting by the sink in order to get it at the desired level. The reason I was using books instead of a tripod to prop up the camera was because I found the tripod couldn't get at the right angle next to the sink. The books worked fine.

I'd like to try this again sometime with a larger pattern with higher contrast. It was so easy to set up that it only takes a few minutes. I was also surprised at how quickly I got a decent drop! My first one was only a few tries into it.

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