Blind Shooting

Beauty exists everywhere, even if you can’t fully recognize it in the moment.

TransCanada_Highway

When I took this photo through the windshield of a car traveling 100 km/h along the TransCanada highway, I had only a vague idea of what I was capturing. I had just left my eye specialist’s office, my pupils were fully dilated, and I was not wearing my contacts. I have exceptionally poor eyesight without corrective lenses—moderately poor with lenses. I really and truly could not see the road in front of me.

I was compelled to take this photo because I could kind-of-sort-of sense something amazing. It was a spooky feeling—probably induced by the eerie contrast of light and shadows. I reached in my purse, grabbed my point-and-shoot camera, and took a photo so that I would later be able to see the beauty I was sensing. I was not disappointed when I saw it that evening. The vibrant colour of the autumn day, and the way the light was pooling in the deepest part of the landscape was definitely something worth capturing.


I stumbled upon this photo yesterday when I was going through my digital archives looking for a photo to use for The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge. The theme is depth. I think this image qualifies, so I have submitted this post over there.

I’m also submitting this post to Lucile’s Photo 101 Rehab. Lucile left a lovely, and highly flattering, comment on my other blog today saying,

“…you just prove each time that the most important is not the technique, the lens, etc. You have the eye to interpret beauty and the creativity to transform an image…”

I’m not sure I deserve that kind of praise, but I agree with what she says about it not being the camera or the lens. A big part of photography is being able to “sense” cool stuff going on around you, and doing what you can to capture it to the best of your ability. It’s a big part of the reason I prefer to take photos while I’m alone. I’m better able to “feel” my environment without the distraction of a companion. This photo certainly is not an example of great photography, but I think it’s good enough to demonstrate that it’s really not about the camera, or even what you can see with your eyes. Feel it, and shoot it!

I Really Dislike Cooking

I don’t get this thing called food porn. Why are so many people turned on by cooking related stuff? I find it all to be mind numbingly boring, and frankly, I’m really sick of seeing it everywhere I look. It’s plastered all over television, the internet, bookstore shelves… I can’t escape it!

I started to think about why it is that I hate cooking and cooking related stuff after seeing the The Daily Post’s writing prompt, “Those Dishes Won’t Do Themselves“.

“What’s the household task you most dislike doing? Why do you think that is — is it the task itself, or something more?”

I used to like cooking. Well, maybe the word “like” is a bit of a stretch. Let me try this again. I didn’t always hate cooking. I just now realized that I started to hate cooking around the same time I went back to making meals for one.

Is the key to enjoying food preparation being able to share the final product? Is it about impressing people? Is it an ego thing? Could it be about nurturing and human connection?

It MUST be about nurturing and connecting! What else could make a painfully tedious task enjoyable for so many?

I’m passionate about GROWING food.I feel a strong connection to the earth when gardening. I consider it a true privilege to be able to nurture and care for a even a tiny part of this planet. At times gardening can be backbreaking, but I think the entire process of growing food is exciting, and it fills me with joy. That joy and excitement ends when the fruits of my labour enter the kitchen. It’s all a chore from that point on. I truly dislike cooking. It will take a whole lot more than food porn to get me in the mood for cooking.

Would I not hate cooking again if I had someone special to cook for everyday—if I had another being to nurture with the food I prepare? I suddenly suspect that might be the case. I still don’t think I’d enjoy food porn though. I hope to be able to test this theory someday.

Mason Jar Photography

Yesterday I wrote a silly post inspired by a mason jar wineglass (also known as a redneck wineglass). I’m mad about mason jars. I get excited every time I discover a new way to use them.

A few years ago, I stumbled upon an article about mason jar macro photography. I tried it, and I was instantly hooked.

This is what you need to get started

  •  A mason jar.
  • A point-and-shoot camera with a macro setting.
  • A subject that is small enough to fit inside your jar.

How to get started with mason jar photography

  • Once you’ve chosen your subject, place it inside a mason jar.
  • Turn on your camera, and set it to macro.
  • Rest the body of your camera on the mouth of the mason jar, positioning lens inside the jar.
  • Let your autofocus do its thing, and then snap a picture.

It really is that simple!

My baking bean photos

These bean photos were taken on my dining room table. I used only natural lighting for all three shots.

Jacobs_Cattle_Beans_Mason_Jar_PoloroidKenearly_Beans_Mason_Jar_Poloroid

Soldier_Beans_Mason_Jar_2_Poloroid

By the way, I grew these beans in my garden last summer. They were yummy!

Experiment with light.

Now that you’ve got the basics down, it’s time to play around with light. Decorative mason jars are wonderful for this because of the way the textured glass catches and disperses the rays. When I use jars with textured surfaces, I also like to use a desk lamp with a movable arm as my main, if not my only, light source.

My (tiny) floral arrangement photos

These photos were taken in a decorative mason jar. I shot them in a dark room using my desk lamp to illuminate the subject. The light is in a different position for each of the two photos. See how the textured glass adds a bit of interest?

flowers and ferns flowers and ferns 2

Experiment with Colour

You can easily change the look and feel of your photo by changing the background colour.

My rock photos

In the next two photos, the textured glass almost looks like water ripples. To play up that water like effect, I slid a piece of aqua coloured paper under the jar. Check out how the paper takes on a lighter, more washed out, colour near the light source.

Rocks6In the next photo, I used the same rock configuration as above, but I moved my lamp to the bottom left corner and placed two sheets of paper under the jar—a mauve sheet, and a blue sheet.

Rocks7

My poinsettia leaves photos

Here’s a few more examples of what can be achieved by changing the background colour and lighting direction.

The first of my poinsettia photos was lit from the right and there is a white sheet of paper under the jar.

Leaves3

This next photo was lit from the top and there is a pale blue sheet of paper under the jar.

Leaves4

For this last poinsettia photo, I rotated the camera, slid a red sheet of paper under the jar and lit it from the right.

Leaves

Photo edits

All the photos you’ve seen so far in this post have been edited in PicMonkey

  • I used the crop tool to make the images square.
  • I selected the Urbane filter to add a bit of warmth and a slight vignette.
  • I added the Polaroid frame, but turned off the antique colour filter option.
  • I added a drop shadow.

Do mason jar images have to be cropped square?

Mason jar photos tend to lend themselves well to the square format, but they are not limited to that shape. Here is one of the first mason jar photos I ever took. I wouldn’t even consider cropping this one square. masonjar1

Show me your mason jar photos

Now that I’ve shown you mine, I want to see yours. Go ahead, take some shots and post them to your blog. When you do, come back here and leave the link to your post in the comments. I really would love to see what you come up with.

Redneck Connoisseur

Let’s party Clampett style, y’all! I brought the wine and the glasses!

This is my first time attending Justine’s Tea Time, so I’ve gone out of my way to make a good impression an impression.

Redneck wine glass

Redneck wine glass

Earlier this week, I swung by the Walmart and picked up a cute new outfit. It’s so dang snug, I had to grease myself up to squeeze into it. This is a fancy party, so I used my finest oil. Canola. My, what a swanky name for an oil!

After I finished getting dolled up, I moseyed on over to the liquor store and grabbed the best case of boxed wine money can buy. Nothings too good for my blogging pals! 😉

How do you like the glasses I brought? They are the real fancy kind—the ones that come with screw on lids! Impressive, right?

I would have brought crumpets, but I can’t for the life of me figure out what they are. Oh well, maybe next time. Let’s Party folks!

One more thing. If I get too wasted, would someone be kind enough to throw me in the back of my stolen newly acquired pick-up truck so that I can sleep it off?

Give Us A Twirl

Am I the only woman on the planet who doesn’t think it was in poor taste for an on-court interviewer to ask Canadian tennis player Eugenie Bouchard to twirl?

For those of you who are living under a rock and haven’t heard the uproar yet, here’s a bit of background.

The day before this whole “scandal” broke, Eugenie tweeted about another player’s outfit.

 

After Eugenie Bouchard’s second round win in a game against Kiki Bertens at the Australian open, an on-court interviewer said the following to her.

“Last night you tweeted that you loved Serena’s outfit. Obviously the fluoro is working for you girls at the moment. She was kind enough to give us a twirl. Can you give us a twirl and tell us about your outfit?” 

Today there are a lot of angry online comments about how inappropriate this was. It has everybody on their soapbox screaming about sexism in sport. Many people are talking about how this would never have happened to a man. To add fuel to the fire, many media outlets are sensationalizing the incident by omitting or downplaying everything except for the words “give us a twirl”.

Here’s why I did not interpret the interviewer’s post-game request as something offensive. Women everywhere were talking about how fabulous the Australian Open outfits were, and no wonder—those outfits were vivid fluorescent, stylish, and totally appropriate for the game. What a breath of fresh air for the sport!

Does anyone remember all the attention Andre Agassi used to get for the clothes he wore on the court? It wasn’t just his clothes people talked about, his hair got a lot of attention too. I loved how he made tennis look cooler than it is.

Why don’t we see these same outraged people commenting all over the internet every time someone asks a male athlete to flex or show off his abs?! Male athletes are are frequently asked to show off  their bodies, and it’s perceived as totally fine. Eugenie Bouchard was being asked to show off her (highly appropriate and totally fabulous) game outfit, and the internet blows up!

I think people are being far too sensitive about this one. The fact is, men and women are different in many ways. We need to embrace those differences. That outfit contributed to a perfect marriage between an in-your-face display of feminine style and high level athletics. Why not celebrate that with a twirl?

Feeling Blue?

Rumour has it that yesterday was the most depressing day of the year.

According to Wikipedia, a convoluted mathematical formula to predict the most depressing day of the year was created 10 years ago as a publicity campaign by a company called Sky Travel. The day was coined Blue Monday, and it falls on the third Monday of January.

…the date was devised to help a travel company to analyze when people book holidays and holiday trends and used many factors, including: weather conditions, debt level (the difference between debt accumulated and our ability to pay), time since Christmas, time since failing our new year’s resolutions, low motivational levels and feeling of a need to take action.

Blue_MondayWhen I saw a television news clip about this last night, I thought, “I only feel a little blah today. If this really is the most depressed I’ll be all year, this is a very good thing!”

Seriously though, I have frequently been feeling meh over the past few weeks, and this “publicity campaign” got me questioning why that is and what I can do to fix it.

I have no plans to jump on a plane and escape winter, but I am going to get out more and play. I know that when I make the time to explore and have fun, even if it’s just for a few minutes a day, I’m far more creative and productive. Non-structured me-time is the best thing I can do to blow the cobwebs out of my head. I’ve allowed the crappy winter weather to force me into hibernation mode. Again. This is not good for me. No wonder I’ve been feeling meh. It’s time to lace up my boots and get outside.

What about you? Do you have the winter blahs? If so, what are you going to do about it?

Dream Reader

Compared to most bloggers, I’m old. I don’t feel old, but I am old. How old? I started school in 1977. I don’t have the foggiest recollection of what we studied that year, but so many other things from Mrs. Gillan’s classroom will remain with me forever. For instance, I will never forget the intoxicating aroma of the mimeograph machine wafting in from the office across the hall. I remember the clothes I wore to school—the outfits I loved as well as the ones I hated. I also can’t forget the friends I made that year. In fact, I still consider many of the kids I met in 1977 to be my friends today, despite the fact I have almost nothing in common with any of them except that we grew up together.

I now live 15 minutes away from my childhood home. Quite a few of my former classmates from elementary, junior high, and high school still live here, or have returned home. Not much new blood moves into this town. Almost all of the friends I have now, are the same friends I’ve had all my life. I love them dearly, but I often feel alienated when I’m with them. I went out for coffee last month with a couple of ladies I consider to be close friends. I mentioned that I’m planning on starting a YouTube channel about gardening. One of my friends said, “What’s a YouTube channel?” I think most of my friends know what a blog is, but I don’t know if any of them have ever read one. Most conversations I have with friends revolve around their kids and their spouses. Their activities also revolve around their kids and spouses. I don’t have kids, nor a husband. I usually am, for the most part, interested in what my friends like to talk about, but I often feel like  I have nothing to contribute to the conversation. I desperately need to expand my circle of friends.

My dream reader is a new friend—someone I haven’t known my entire life. Someone who is not satisfied with mundane routine. Someone who is passionate about hobbies, and about life in general. Someone who will take an interest in things I’m excited about, and hopefully someone who will introduce me to things I will become excited to learn about. 

P.S. This post was an assignment for The Daily Post’s Blogging 101. I’m 3 or 4 days late getting to it. Over the past few days, every time the topic “Dream Reader” came to mind, the song “Dream Weaver” by Gary Wright got stuck in my head. I’ve embedded the video below. Should you choose to watch it, it may get stuck in your head too. You’re welcome!

Engaging with Bloggers

I’ve never been one to rush into anything. That’s especially true when it comes to making new friends. Today’s Blogging 101: Say Hello to the Neighbours assignment kind of made me feel like I was being asked to do just that.

“… follow five new topics in the Reader and five new blogs.”

Don’t get me wrong—it was a good exercise. We should always be open to meeting new people in the blogosphere. Engaging with the blogging community is, most definitely, the best part of blogging. I just don’t believe in following people willy-nilly.

I’ve done the grunt work for today’s exercise. I’ve visited The Commons and I’ve searched tags. I’ve also read, liked, and commented on lots of new-to-me blogs. I what I haven’t done today was follow anyone. I refuse to press five follow buttons simply for the sake of completing this assignment. I want to be sure the blogs/bloggers that I follow are ones that I will be happy to see pop up in my reader. I really do not want to become someone who un-follows people.

Occasionally, I will follow a blog on my first visit, but that is extremely rare. That only happens if the first half dozen pages of the blog are dripping with tantalizing awesome-sauce! Most of the time, I chose to follow after weeks of mutual liking and thoughtful commenting.

Tell me, neighbours, are you quick to follow someone, or do you like to take your time like I do? How do you decide if a blog/blogger is a good fit for you?