Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Photography Stuff

You might say that since I got my Nikon for Christmas I have become a little photography obsessed. It’s true. I’ve been having so much fun playing around and learning both the artistic and the technical aspects of shooting.

My equipment wish list is looooong, but since this is merely a hobby for me, I have to take it slow and only purchase a few things here and there as we can afford them. Here’s a quick list of what’s been added to the mix so far...


Adobe Lightroom 3
I LOVE this software. I mean really, really love it! It was one of the first things I purchased after getting my camera, and it's been my bread and butter ever since. It’s a fabulous catalog and workflow tool, but I also do the bulk of my post-processing in Lightroom. The ability to have presets and synchronize settings speeds things up tremendously. Having said that, Lightroom does have some limits to it’s editing capabilities so I finally broke down a few days ago and got my hands on Photoshop5.

Adobe Photoshop 5
I had been holding off on getting Photoshop because I can do a lot of editing in Lightroom, it meant spending more money, and there is a HUGE learning curve with Photoshop. Lightroom was much easier to learn, but I found myself frequently wishing I had the ability to use layers and layer masks. There are so many creative doors that they open for you. And the two pieces of software together…Magic. They flow seamlessly, filling in gaps and holes the other one leaves. I’ve only started dabbling in Photoshop, playing with a few actions, levels, curves adjustments, ect. Like I said, the learning curve is steep, but I’m excited to learn the ins and outs and take advantage of the tools that are now at my fingertips!   


My biggest splurge so far has been in adding an additional piece of glass. The kit lens is a good starting point, but the variable aperture really limits my ability to shoot in low light situations and my shutter speed was suffering as a result. So, I decided to add a super fast prime and settled on the Nikkor 50mm 1.4/D. The focal length has worked out pretty good since most of what I shoot is pictures of my little girl, but I do find it to be a bit too tight occasionally. I would love to add a fast 35mm or maybe even a good 24-75 range zoom, but we are talking some serious change here, especially for the zoom, so it will have to wait!



This simple gadget is fabulous! While it’s no Speedlight, it is seriously a huge improvement over the onboard flash alone. Basically it sits over the onboard flash and bounces the light off a ceiling or wall depending on your angle. This diffuses the light and gives a much more natural look to the image.
These images are straight of the camera with the same settings:

First, no good.
Next, onboard flash...dark background, washed out colors...meh.
Finally, onboard flash bounced with Lightscoop...much better!

The biggest drawback for me is that I have to shoot landscape when using my Lightscoop. I’m rarely close enough to a wall in my house to bounce the light and even if I was, none of my walls are white so I get dark shadows and nasty color cast on my image if I turn my camera.

Wireless Remote
Another small purchase I just made is the ML-L3 Wireless Remote. It hasn’t arrived yet, but it will allow me to trigger my shutter wirelessly. I’ve seen mixed reviews on how well it works, but it was only $13 so I figured it was worth a shot. This way I can be in more frames or at least reduce camera shake caused by pressing the shutter release. Once I get a tripod I think this will be even more fun!


Google and Blogs have been an invaluable resource for me, but I also have read some awesome books that I highly recommend.

The Nikon D90 Companion Book; by Ben Long
This was a gift from my brother-in-law. It’s not a D90 manual, it doesn’t just say “here is the bracketing button” like a manual would, it shows you where to locate the bracketing button, what bracketing is, how to use it, picture examples, etc. Great learning tool!

Understanding Exposure; by Bryan Peterson

This is a well known and popular book, and what can I say…fabulous, a must read for a newbie!

I think that’s about it other than a small camera bag and a few UV filters.
So now that you know what I got, you wanna know what I ain’t got? The list is long…it will make your pocket book (or at least Jon’s pocketbook) scream!

My wish list:
·         Nice, larger camera bag, like these.
·         New computer monitor (currently working on a teeny-weenie laptop screen.)
·         Speedlight
·         Nikkor 35mm f/1.8
·         Standard zoom Lens with a fixed app (like the Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8)
·         Telephoto zoom (55-200mm range)
·         Wide Angle zoom (17-55mm range)
·         Macro Lens
·         Tripod
·         Seamless paper setup (seems unnecessary since I’m not a portrait photographer, but I think it would be fun to have! Remember how crappy my backdrop was for Sydney’s Valentine’s Day pictures?)
There’s a LOT more I could add to this list. Now, if we just take out a second mortgage on our home, I can actually afford to get all this stuff.

Oye! Hobbies are expensive….or at least this one is!

Monday, April 25, 2011


We did a lot of celebrating this week. 

On Friday we went out for some deep dish pizza to celebrate my brother-in-law’s birthday. The wait for the pizza was long, but it was worth it, and Sydney surprised me and did really well! 

Next up was my nephews’ birthday party on Saturday. Friends and family gathered, food was served, and the boys got to try out their new paintball gun.
The boys wreaked their havoc on the Easter bunny.
While the girls were much more civilized.
Where there is smoke...there is Jon.
Egg hunt eggstravaganza.

Finally, we celebrated Easter Sunday. Easter was one of my favorite holidays as a kid. I loved the changing of seasons, the elaborate breakfasts, dressing up for church, hunting for eggs, and lots and lots of candy! Now it's my motherly duty to pass on the holiday lovin’ baton.

Are you ready for some Easter picture overload? You have been warned.

Whew! I warned you.
Happy (belated) Easter everyone! Hope you had a great time celebrating!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The Good: Dyeing Easter Eggs.

The Bad: Self-appointed king of my bed.

The Ugly: Remember this picture (pre-pinkeye diagnosis)?

Pretty sure that's how I ended up with this beauty....


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Green Thumb

My vegetable garden is going in...yay!

I’m pretty lazy when it comes to gardening so I always tend to do transplants instead of seeds. It’s slightly more expensive than seeds but it also provides wonderful instant gratification! Like sod versus lawn seed. Dig a few holes, plop in a few plants, and BAM! Instant garden.

 (Don't Mind the grass in the corner, I'll get to I said...lazy.)
This instant gratification method has worked marvelously for me in years past, so when Jon cautioned me as I dumped organic pre-emergent (corn gluten) on my garden, “Are you SURE you won’t be planting any seeds?” I quickly waved him off, “Pffft! Seeds are for fools!” Okay, I didn’t really say that, but I did quickly dismiss the idea. I’ve never used seeds before, why would I now?
Fast forward to this week and I’m searching the stores for my plants, and strangely, I can’t find some of the new plants I wanted to try this year…carrots, beets, radishes…are you seeing a pattern here?
Root Vegetables.  
Apparently, transplanting root vegetables is a big no, no.
Rookie mistake.
So, I decided to roll the dice and buy the seeds anyway. I’ll wait a week or so, throw ‘em in the ground, and see what sticks. Guess we’ll see how good organic pre-emergent really is (I’m guessing from all the weeds I still have to pull, not very). Live and learn.
Here’s is what has made it into my garden so far...
First up…perennials. Oh how I love thee, a lazy girls dream:

(Winter Onions)
(Bib Lettuce)

While I was busy planting all of this, Sydney was busy throwing mulch in her eye, almost eating a rock, and getting her leg stuck in a bench. Nice.