Copper Patina

Copper Patina

This copper light on the Fort Fisher ferry is green instead of a “normal” copper color because of a process called patination. Copper patina is similar to rust on iron, except that the patina actually protects the copper underneath. Copper patina is also what makes the Statue Of Liberty is green.

So from the standpoint of the metal on the light, the patina is protecting it. From a photography stand point the patina provided something interesting in contrast to the black pain on the boat. Beside this light was a bright yellow boat tie down, and a bright red fire extinguisher which were also interesting contrasts to the black. My first thought was to get all three in the same picture, but then I thought about my experiences with getting in close and how that often results in a better picture. With this in mind I zoomed in close to the light and focused only on it. I also took a picture of the boat tie down as the only focus, and one with all three in the picture. These are stationary objects that weren’t going anywhere so I wasn’t worried about being quick before the moment is gone like in wildlife photography, and with a digital camera there is no harm in trying several shots because it doesn’t cost any money to get the pictures developed. In this case I was glad I went with my thought to get in close because I really like both this picture of the light and the picture of the boat tie down. I also took another picture of only the light, but zoomed out just slightly further. Even just a little bit further out made a big difference. I rated the picture posted here as of my highest of the day in Lightroom, while the one zoomed out only slightly more was one of my lowest rated. It goes to show that only a few inches can make a big difference.

Copper Patina Information

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Flower Petals

Flower Petals

There was a flowering dogwood tree at this parking lot, and as its flower petals fell they were blown by the wind up against the curb making a nice lined up pile. Normally the flower petals would either be on the tree, or scattered all over the ground so it was pretty to see them lined up like this. The petals were so nicely lined up we wondered at first if someone had pushed them up to the curb this way. After watching for a while we saw that they were being naturally lined up this way by the wind.

As an interesting side note, the dogwood tree is North Carolina’s state flower. This is something I didn’t learn until recently (and found a bit strange that a tree was the state flower), but with a quick look around in the spring it makes sense because dogwood trees are flowering everywhere here.

This picture is another interesting example of leading lines. Following the line of flower petals from the front to the back of the picture both gives your eye something to follow, and provides depth of field. Both of these things make your eyes happy, and makes the picture more interesting. In this picture the leading line is provided by the flower petals, in the picture of the mountain ash tree berries the branch provides the line, and in the Pine Mountain tunnel picture the yellow lines in the road provide the lines. All of these together go to show that while leading lines can be actual lines, that don’t have to be. Any “line” can be used to provide this effect.

Flower Petals Information:

  • Taken By: Susan
  • Date Taken: 3-Apr-2015
  • Camera: iPhone 5s
  • Lens: iPhone 5s back camera
  • Exposure: 1/5900 sec at F/2.2
  • Focal Length: 4.15 mm
  • ISO: 32
  • Flash: Did not fire
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Channel Markers

Channel Markers

On our annual family beach trip this year we decided to take the ferry from Southport North Carolina to Fort Fisher to visit the Fort Fisher Aquarium. My (Paul’s) grandparents lived in Southport while I was growing up so I spent a lot of time there as a kid. On our way too and from the ferry, my sister and I got to take our families by to see my grandparent’s old house (we don’t know who lives there now so unfortunately we only got to see the outside) which was a fun bonus for the trip. The town itself, while still small, has grown A LOT since the last time I was there. Unfortunately we didn’t have a lot of time to hang out in Southport because it would have been fun to go see some of our old favorite places, assuming any of them are still there (Sweet Treat Ice Cream?).

From a photography standpoint the ferry ride provided several interesting opportunities. One of my favorites was the channel markers. Some of the channel markers were on poles like this, some were floating, and I think all of them had birds on them. The green or red, depending on which side they were on, provided nice color. For this picture I used the side of the ferry as my “tripod”. Using an actual tripod would have been difficult because finding an open space to set it up wouldn’t have been easy. When that is the case finding something (like the side of the ferry, a branch, or I have even used Susan’s shoulder before) to use to stabilize the camera is always helpful.

Channel Markers Information

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Dog Swimming

Dog Swimming

I (Susan) often rely on my equipment to get The Shot. Equipment and of course a million photos. Technique? Skill? HA! Catching a picture of a dog swimming? It’s about planning, people! When we took Lucille, our black Labrador, to the Randolph County SPCA Dog Pool Party at the Tot Hill Farm pool in Asheboro, NC I knew I would not be able to recreate shots – it was already chaos with dozens of dogs swimming in the pool and running on the deck, but I had certain shots in mind that I wanted to capture. Underwater swimming was high on my list.

Labs have unique anatomy that makes them natural swimmers – their feet are webbed to help paddle stronger and their oily coat makes them more buoyant and keeps them warmer in cold water. I had seen this in our other dogs swimming at other pool parties, but did not have the equipment to get an underwater shot. Until this day. Now we have a DiCaPac Waterproof Case for our Canon PowerShot point and shoot camera that lets us take pictures in and/or under the water. We were skeptical at first as to how well this case would work, and how waterproof it would actually be. After using it for a couple of years now, it has never leaked even slightly, and we always end up with fun and interesting shots while using it. So it was time to get uncomfortable, people. The water was about 75 degrees and the air not much warmer. It wasn’t so bad when I was thigh deep, but that did not get the shot I wanted. So I had to duck down into the water to be on Lucille’s level. A dog swimming is a happy dog, at least when it is a lab, and a girl getting the picture she wanted is a happy girl, even if she is cold.

Dog Swimming Information

  • Taken By: Susan
  • Date Taken: 2-SEP-2015
  • Camera: Canon PowerShot SD1100 IS
  • Lens: N/A
  • Exposure: 1/500 sec at F/8
  • Focal Length: 6.2 mm
  • ISO: 80
  • Flash: Did not fire
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Mountain Ash Tree Berries

Mountain Ash Tree Berries

While we were hiking on Rough Ridge we saw a lot of mountain ash trees (also known as a Rowan) with these nice red berries. The mountain ash tree itself has interesting leaves and an interesting look, but what really drew my attention was the red berries. One interesting thing about mountain ash trees is that they like cooler weather so they are usually found further north, but they are also in the southern Appalachian mountains where the higher elevation keeps temperatures cooler.

I have taken several pictures like this through the years (although this was my first time with a mountain ash tree), where I get in close to berries growing on a tree and I always really like them. To do this I get really close to the berries, and use a wide aperture to have the berries in focus and everything else blurred out. Doing this with pictures of wild berries is where I started to notice how much difference getting in close for a picture can make and how much I like it (like I talked about in the Barn and Sun picture). In this picture I think the fuzzy green leaves provide a nice backdrop to the red berries. I also like all the red berries, with the one white one spotted with red.

This picture is a good example of what I was talking about in the Pine Mountain Tunnel picture with leading lines not having to be an actual line. In this case the “line” is not a true line like the yellow road lines in the Pine Mountain Tunnel picture, instead the branch that the berries are on provides the “line” and moves the eye along the branch.

Mountain Ash Tree Berries Information

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Cooking Class

Cooking Class

You have seen one photo of the Charleston Cooks! class here already. Although this testing shot has the same technical perspective and motive, I want to get a different lesson across to you, Dear Reader.

Yes, you can photograph what you love. But I challenge you to go one more step – photograph who you love doing what THEY love. Paul loves to cook and is VERY good at it. Usually when he cooks I sit at the high counter bar with him chatting about my day or answering emails or working my way through the to do list (or that online, register kids for this, email the teacher about that – are you with me, moms out there?!). When Paul suggested a cooking class I was a little on the fence because I knew he wanted a hands on cooking class. While I like to eat, my idea of hands on is hands on the finished product on its way to my mouth.

So I signed us up and grabbed the chance to work on my photography skills. Paul is constantly telling me I need to use the 50mm lens for photojournalism shots. But I am too lazy to swap lenses or too anxious to capture the moment or too forgetful to add it to my hiking pack on a day hike. But if I were honest with myself, I was to scared I would screw it up, the shot would not look like it does in my brain. So for the cooking class I decided to use Mr. 50mm and get over it. I concentrated on capturing moments of my love with his love.

I particularly like this shot because Paul had been talking about this microplane for half of our marriage. Its almost like an inside joke when I see it in the scrapbook now. He got to try the microplane he had been wanting (and we subsequently bought it of course). I got to try the lens I had been avoiding!

Overall it was a great date!

Cooking Class Information

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Big Alligator

Big Alligator

Susan and I went for a walk while we were in Fort Myers Florida and decided to bring our cameras along with us. I was walking along in the grass taking pictures of some birds and almost stepped on this big alligator. Luckily Susan saw it and said something because if she didn’t I’m sure I would have stepped on it. It’s surprising how camouflaged the alligators are. After quickly backing way to a safe distance, I of course had to take a few pictures of my almost dinner date.

This was just one of many alligators we saw around Fort Myers. Everywhere there was water there was alligators. We were visiting Susan’s parents and the pond behind their condo has a little alligator and a big alligator that hang out there. The pond is on a golf course so it was fun to watch the golfers hit the ball near the alligators and then try to figure out how to get to their balls. The alligator in this picture was one of a couple at another pond in the neighborhood so we were surrounded while we were there.

The alligators we saw in Fort Myers however were nothing compared to what we saw in the Everglades. Driving through the Everglades everywhere I saw water I saw alligators, and not just one or two. The scary part was that once we got to were we were going and got out of the car I no longer saw alligators. I’m sure they had to be there, we just didn’t see them.

One thing was clear while we were in Florida. In Fort Myers, the Everglades, or anywhere in-between, I will not be swimming in any fresh water there!

Big Alligator Information

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Olaf Birthday Cake

Olaf Birthday Cake

Olaf Birthday Cake Information

I knew my sister had forgiven all my little sister sins (listening in on phone calls from her boyfriend in high school, tagging along on sleep overs, poking out her eye glass lens in the back seat on the way home from Six Flags, etc.) when she said to me:

You carry the cake.

A small part of me died. I loved being Fun Aunt Susan. The one who carried them upside down, buy the loud, gigantic completely inappropriate gift – then leave. The one who they FaceTime when they want to sing, “Let It Go” from Frozen through their new karaoke machine (hey – I can mute them and have a cocktail, I’m an auntie!). Now I was going to be Aunt-Susan-Who-Dropped-My-Olaf-Birthday-Cake-When-I-Was-3-And-I-Hate-Her.

Alas, I was born to screw this up. I have been clumsy for 42 years (I am only 41). I swear I have not grown into my body yet (I am 6 feet tall). Paul requires proof on a regular basis that I was a 5 year college varsity athlete (4 basketball, 1 track) because of the unexplainable bruises I collect, things I break and general doofus I make of myself. But back to the Olaf birthday cake…

I was designated Cake Carrier as we trudged up to the house to pick up the cake – heart pounding, my palms sweating. I was in trouble (see above about clumsy and multiply by sweaty palms). When I met the decorator I introduced myself and “Susan, ruin-er of your magic creation” and she laughed. Bless her heart. While the Olaf birthday cake screamed, “Hi! I’m Olaf! I like warm hugs!” inside I screamed, “Hi! I’m Susan! I ruin Olaf birthday cakes!”

Maybe my sister was setting me up to get back at me! That is the only reasonable explanation – what kind of evil puts their loved one in a position to drop The Birthday Cake – the Olaf Birthday Cake?! Did she know I read the note that one guy wrote her freshman year? Did she know I really did wear her top that day and shove it under the bed? Did she know I saw the cat go into her open door, knowing it would pee on her Guess? jeans? I watch Scandal! I saw every episode of Alias! I know a set up when I see it!

But she had witnesses so I took a step toward the cake…..

Reached under it….

As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Olaf Birthday Cake Information

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Pine Mountain Tunnel

Pine Mountain Tunnel

Pine Mountain tunnel is one of 26 tunnels on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The majority of the Parkway tunnels are on the southern end of the Parkway, and this one is no exception being located near Asheville NC (just past mile marker 399). Pine Mountain tunnel is the longest tunnel on the Parkway at 1,434 feet (437 m).  Driving into a mountain always feels weird, and the darkness of the tunnels on the Blue Ridge Parkway add to that feeling. We really liked the stone work on the outside of the tunnels, and also all the trees and plants surrounding them.

Unlike the beautiful flowers picture, this picture breaks the rule of thirds. The focus of this picture is right in the middle. The way I was able to focus the attention of this picture in in the middle instead along one of the intersecting lines from the rule of thirds was by using leading lines. The eye will naturally follow lines, so in this case I used the yellow lines on the road to move the eye to the tunnel. Look away from the picture and then look back. You will probably find that you can’t help but to immediately look at the yellow lines and follow them into to the tunnel. In this case I was able to literally use lines to make this happen, but it doesn’t have to be that way. A fence, a river, a mountain ridge, a wall, anything that follows a line can be used to move the viewer’s eye where you want it to go. If that line happens to lead to one of the interactions from the rule of thirds, then the focus will just be that much more on that area.

Pine Mountain Tunnel Information

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Horsetooth Falls Restored Us

Horsetooth Falls

This restoration sign on the Horsetooth Falls trail in Fort Collins, Colorado had a double meaning for us. There is the obvious meaning of that area off of the trail was closed for restoration, but for us it meant being out in nature restores us. Sometimes all it takes is a glass of wine on the porch looking at the pine trees at the end of a rough day in the office. Sometimes we need to get off the grid for a weekend. That is the introvert in us. This particular trip was special because we were able to get out in nature with Susan’s grad school friend and her family. Catching up with long time friends can be a tank filler too – sometimes it is like no time passed at all… except we now have spouses and kids that are double digit years old.

The neat thing about these kinds of double-meaning photos is that they mean one thing to the viewer – Hey, neat photo; yet can have a more “hidden” meaning for us, the photographer – Hey, my chi is restored with this visit to nature. While Horsetooth Falls is a beautiful place, it is the fresh air, wide open spaces,  vitamin D, and visiting with friends who knew us way back when that fills our tank.

Think about this when planning photos, scrapbooks, trips, and self-made souvenirs. What is going to be meaningful to you in 1 year, 10 years? What is your Horsetooth Falls? What makes you say, “Ahhhhhhhhh”? Those are the photos that you want to capture. It is not the standard photo where everyone is posed perfectly and your ISO/f-stop/shutter speed are textbook balanced. It is about the photos that evoke a feeling. A feeling you want to revisit, remember, reminisce about – that’s the stuff dreams are made of.

Horsetooth Falls Restored Us Information

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