Monday, June 27, 2011

Back in Washington and shooting like crazy!

I've been back in Washington for almost a week now and I've had many new photo opportunities! Unfortunately, I have zero portraits. Serious bummer. It's not for a total lack of trying; last Monday night I was too sleepy to take pictures of Andrew, and when I saw my friends I ended up photographing the dog instead. OK, so maybe I didn't try that hard. I'll do better this week!

 Hiro is a shiba inu and he just turned a year old this month! He's a saucy 
little thing who loves attention and thinks he's a cat.

He also likes to be sassy toward Jacki, his owner. Hehe.

In positive news, I have successfully (and fairly quickly!) learned to use the new Canon flash that I bought. Right from the start there were so many things that I missed about my sb-800. Canon may have superior body technology, but Nikon does it right with the external flash units. Gah. It took me about forty five minutes or so, but I was able to get the 430exII to act as a slave to the pop-up flash on the 60D. There were a few frustrating and tense moments where I thought the 60D couldn't act as a master to the 430exII (because many Canon models can't do that!) but I read some tutorials and figured it out. If I had remembered to bring the instruction booklet for the camera and not just the flash it would have gone smoother, but oh well!

From an outing to Walmart with James. Would you buy this stuffed
 animal for your child?! It's supposed to be "sleepy" but... wow.

My first subject with the 430exII was Hiro, Jacki's dog. I took some photos of him last fall after my return from Ireland and I certainly had a good time! He's a friendly, cute dog with a very expressive face. A good backup to my lack of human subjects!

 Adorable pups at the farmer's market! The one on the left was three months 
old and was an absolute fluffy puff ball. The one on the right about had 
a heart attack when it saw me. Such a friendly little guy! I want a dog >.>

So far I have very few complaints or issues with the way the Canon functions. Other than button layouts confusing me because of how long I used my Nikon, it's a breeze to use. However I really hate the multiple pre-flashes that come off of the popup flash. I've explored the camera menu fairly in-depth, and off the top of my head I don't recall seeing any sort of... red eye reduction, or other feature that would call for the flash going off multiple tiny times before triggering for real. It is extremely obnoxious! It seems as though it's a focusing aid, but I can't tell. Makes for difficult animal photography though, I can tell you that! More experimenting is necessary.

The cuticle ointment that my sister makes. It was selling like hot cakes at 
the market! People were asking specifically for a cuticle cream and 
after testing it out they were sold. I helped myself to it a few times. It's so fabulous!

In other interesting and fun news, on Saturday I went to the Poulsbo farmer's market with my sister! (her computer is broken right now so she's MIA on her blog, but she'll be back soon!) This was her first time attending a farmer's market, and it was a lot of fun. She's been to a few craft fairs, but the farmer's market is more her style. She was selling her Earthtastic! wares, really fantastic natural, handmade (by her!) lip and body care products. Check out her etsy shop. I love her stuff :D

A wagon wheel outside one of the many restaurants downtown Poulsbo.
Also, a silly sign on the door of what used to be an antique shop.

But anywho, I took some photos of her sellin' it up at her booth; those are for her facebook page though. We were the only people there without a tent over our heads! We received a few comments about it, ha! It looked like rain for the first part of the morning, but the sun broke out as we went into afternoon and it was a successful day overall. I wanted to take some more photos of the wares at other people's booths, but I didn't want to hover too much without buying anything. I was surprised by the extensive variety from little ol' Poulsbo. Keep it going, people! Also, keep bringing your dogs because they are ADORABLE.

A clock that stands downtown Poulsbo, and a model  airplane that's
 in the front window display of a nautical shop called Cargo Hold.

On Wednesday I spent a few hours in downtown Poulsbo, a most beloved place to me. I've only been gone for four months, but for some reason it feels as though it has been years. I frolicked and explored and marveled at the things that have changed and what has stayed the same. I drove up and around the high school, junior high AND elementary schools. I passed through neighborhoods of old friends and sat and stared blankly at the water, then I went and had an obligatory Sluy's donut. I really wish they had a website so I could link to it. So delicious. So amazing.

 I've never noticed how many great brick buildings there are downtown! 
The doors on the right lead to a building that has been abandoned for 
as long as I can remember. How curious.

It was wonderful to wander downtown at my leisure. I spent about two hours just walking back and forth and taking photos. I've spent a lot of time photographing downtown before, so this time I really tried to focus on things that I hadn't personally shot before. It was fun and challenging and made me feel that much closer to the town. I love Poulsbo!

Moar brick!!

This week has been incredibly busy and full of wonderful friends and family. Everyday I have spent in the company of one of my best and most beloved friends or my sister, and each morning and night I have been with my mom. I have also had the fabulous pleasure of finally seeing Unjuy again, the softest kitty in the world! I've seen my niece and nephew, which has been great, and it would appear that Emily is getting used to me again. Hopefully I can make a good impact while I'm here that way she doesn't forget me again D: As soon as Cass gets a working computer again we'll be able to webcam it up and I can keep in touch with the kids more :]

Poulsbo was a lovely place to grow up.

Today sees the start of my storage unit adventures. I expect my next few entries will contain cellphone pictures of the memory-ridden things I'll be finding. Hold onto your pants people, it's going to get nostalgic up in here!


P.S. Don't forget that my etsy shop is back up! I've added more prints since last week's entry. They're all from Ireland last year so there's nothing new yet, but I'll be adding new prints soon! :D

Monday, June 20, 2011

New equipment, and a portrait of a stranger! :O

Something serious happened yesterday. Something with some very real long term implications. Andrew and I went to the camera store and I bought some equipment for his Canon. That's right. I guess it's official now! I'm looking into selling my Nikon equipment as well. We took all of my stuff to the store (they also buy lenses and that sort of thing) to get a quote, but it was an extreme low ball. To be expected I suppose, it was still surprising though. I'll be having a fun time on craigslist now. If my mom managed to sell a car, I hope I can sell a camera!

We're both interested in making good HDR photos. I had a few HDR 
assignments at Evergreen and I could never get the hang of it, so this
will be a fun venture for both of us! Here's one from yesterday.

We've been on the road toward rebuilding my equipment for his camera since I arrived, pretty much. Since I had some lenses that broke, both of my zooms, I've been feeling a bit restricted. He has a nice 17-135mm that I enjoy using, and a few weeks ago he bought that 50mm f/1.4 that is a dream to use! Such a shallow depth of field makes it difficult to get things in focus without a tripod. It's creating a fun new challenge for me though!

 The guitarist at Disneyland.

Yesterday my purchases included a 35mm f/2.0 and a 430EX II, one of Canon's external flashes. Last year I found myself in a place where I was truly comfortable with my sb-800, and I can't imagine continuing down the dSLR road without an external flash. My biggest concern is how long it will take me to be comfortable with the 430EX II. I read the sb-800 manual twice and also went through tutorials online and messed around with it myself before finally figuring out how to use it for whichever purpose I had. I don't want to take three years to learn the ins and outs of 430EX II.

Seeing as I already have the knowledge of what the flash can do, I don't think it will take me that long, but it's still a worry! I played around with it a little bit last night, and after I'm finished with this blog I'll be spending time with the manual. Hopefully next week's blog will include some nicely lit photos of Andrew from this evening!

I finally managed to get the pictures of the finished birthday cake edited, so here are a few of those!

 First layer with frosting, and the completed cakes!

 Not enough room to write Andrew, so he suggested a lone "A".

This weekend we spent a good portion of Saturday at Disneyland. Since Andrew's birthday was on Tuesday, I told him I wanted to take him to the Blue Bayou for a fancy meal. I had never been there before, but he had and he said it was a fun place. Generally he only goes to the park in the evenings for a few hours, but we wanted to have a fancy lunch so we got there around 1:30. Our reservation was for 1:30 and we got to the restaurant at 2 (oops) but they were still able to seat us! Yay!

 Appropriate for him to be wearing his Happy Birthday button! The name
got rubbed off though D: And we were actually there on our five month
anniversary, so that was a fun coincidence too! :D

It's by and far the nicest and most expensive place that I have ever eaten. It was so much fun though, and my treat for his birthday :3 I've never had the chance to take someone somewhere nice either. It was special! We had an easy going, romantic and delicious lunch. Afterward we took a few photos of the pirate ship and then we rode the train around the park to relax and digest. So much fun. Such a good day!

While we were in the Blue Bayou Andrew mentioned that there is occasionally a single guitar player in the restaurant filling the space with soft music. I thought it was a shame that he wasn't there, and instead we got to hear the entertaining banjo loop that plays at the beginning of Pirates of the Caribbean. Hehe.

Treasure chest on Tom Sawyer's island.

Upon exiting the Blue Bayou, Andrew was delighted to notice the guitar player just down the way! We stopped in the shade to enjoy the music for a while and I took out my camera. I deliberated briefly before he asked me if I was going to take any photos of the man. I get so nervous taking pictures of people that I don't know very well, so taking photos of total strangers is that much more difficult. I explained to Andrew that I have to work up the courage and slowly get closer and to feel comfortable myself. Then he says, 'Are you going to ask him?' and I froze because I hadn't considered asking permission. It occurred to me in that moment that it was definitely the right thing to do, and it made me more nervous still.

Finally I found the courage, I have no idea where it came from (but I think it had something to do with Andrew ;), and I walked up and asked if I could take some photos of him. He looked at me, smiled, and nodded very slowly. It was amazing the wave of relief and ease that I felt after that. I stood back and took as many photos as I liked, feeling free to focus without that sense of nervousness and self-consciousness.

The top of the steam boat!

It's an uphill battle for me to find the confidence and comfort to take the photos that I want to take. Andrew really helps me though (that's an understatement).

In other exciting news, there's starting to be a lot of great activity in my garden! It's difficult to tell the random sprouts from MY sprouts because that plot of dirt was filled with a whole mess of things when I started, but it's still neat! I really enjoy stepping out onto the patio in the mornings and smoothing the dirt around. The neighborhood cats like to crap in there (grr) and they push the dirt around a lot, thus covering up a lot of my little sproutlings! I guess the free fertilizer is nice, but I'm tired of them burying my plants.

 I nabbed a lot of great photos of the pirate ship, which was awesome. We also
had a chance to go to the Winnie the Pooh section! I hadn't been before.

I have to make sure Andrew keeps an eye on them while I'm gone. I'll be very upset if when we get back at the end of July they're all dried up and covered in cat poo!

Next week's blog should include a lot of photos of my family while I practice with the new camera, lenses and flash, and probably a lot of pictures of Unjuy because I miss that cat like crazy!

One more thing! My etsy shop is back up and running! I have a lot of photos to add and I'll be doing that over the next few weeks and I plan on adding photos on a regular basis once I'm all caught up on a back log, so keep checking back!


Monday, June 13, 2011

Delicious treats!

Today is definitely another scattered day. I'm having a difficult time hanging onto topics to write about. Here it is, past seven in the evening and I've only just now started typing. I can admit that my slow start is partially attributed to sleeping in a little bit (but only by an hour! We had a crazy sleep schedule this past weekend and I am not used to that sort of thing), but mostly it's due to the fact that I was making a birthday gift for Andrew! Pictures next week I'm sure. His birthday is tomorrow, so I'll take pictures then!

 Some fun with bokeh since it was too dark to focus on faces in Disneyland.

The week involved a lot of baking for me. This presented many photo opportunities! I believe I mentioned last week that I was going to try to incorporate a more... interesting angle for the photos I took, and I think I did OK. At the very least I made strides over the previous shots I did of my baking endeavors! I expect to only get better. Part of my motivation is that I'm thinking I'll try and get into stock photography. It could end up being a great way to make some money (eventually), and will definitely provide more chances for me to experiment and grow with projects. It will also create a more creativity driven environment in my brain, hopefully leading to more interesting portrait shoots!

The planet thing that looks neat, and a 
lantern from Fantasy Land. 

Another learning/growing opportunity that I've delved into is creating a model mayhem account. Andrew's co-worker's wife is a makeup artist, both fashion and effects, and has had success with projects and collaboration. So, he encouraged me to join the fray and see what I can do. You can find my account here, as well as her's here. This should be interesting.

 Andrew's exceedingly interesting friend. A nice chance to
practice low light portraits. And the last train pulling
into the station before the park closed.

Saturday night was Andrew's birthday party, and I think it's safe to call it a roaring success. There were a lot of people, I'm going to say thirty to thirty-five total. I don't think I've ever been to a party with that high of an attendance! Andrew asked me to take pictures of everyone having a good time, and I'm sad to say that I failed at that. I am shy, so even though I walked around with the camera literally the whole night I only took about ten photos. And they're not good. They're all from really far away, sort of overview photos. Very creepy and impersonal. I really biffed the opportunity to get to know new friends and to take pictures of people (which is my favorite photography subject!!), and I'm feeling very disappointed about it. Although Andrew says to not feel too badly, because they have parties often and so I will have many more chances. Here's hoping I do better next time.

 My bruschetta! I didn't make the bread. Perhaps
I'll get that ambitious someday.

In good party related news, a handful of people ventured to the photo booth and we ended up with many fun photos of drunk people goofing off. We feel good about that.

 Two plates full of cookies!

Last night we took another trip to Disneyland and this time we had a tripod! One of Andrew's housemates was kind enough to lend us his, and so Andrew and I had the chance to get some photos that we weren't able to get last time. We have yet to go to the park while it's still light outside, or when we arrive the sun has just set, and we've missed the golden chunk of time. There are a few places in the park that would look really fantastic, we just need to get there earlier :) The night shots were super fun though, and created a great chance for us to do some HDR practice. I'm terrible at HDR, so hurrah for learning!

Lots and lots of baking photos!

I ran into a slight update/software issue that prevented me from getting a few of the final cake photos uploaded. I should have it fixed soon though!

 The cakes were lookin' pretty good.

Next week! Andrew's gift (maybe) and hopefully some shots of Disneyland during daylight hours. And who knows? Maybe I'll have some sprouts in the garden to show off.

Should have just made a Mickey Mouse cake!

 I made two cakes: one two tiered and one three tiered!


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