Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Photography Lessons

I've been posting a LOT about cameras, photography, and birding lately, so I feel I'd be remiss if I didn't take a moment to mention a free resource that I've been taking advantage of lately.

I'll start with a little background.  Almost four years ago, when I started my job with the restaurant group I currently work with, they supplied me with a DSLR camera.  I was taking photos with my camera, and mentioned in passing, that the company might be served better on the web and on social media if we had a camera that took nicer photos.  I was given a budget and researched a good camera.  The choice was narrowed down to a Canon Rebel T3i and a Nikon 6000.  I chose the Rebel, because I also saw that there was a Canon Rebel for Dummies book available.  And let me tell you, I was a dummy for sure regarding DSLR cameras.  

Fast forward four years, and guess what? Still a dummy.  I barely cracked the book.  I fiddled with the camera, found a few good settings that resulted in some great photos and I just never looked back.  I should also add though, the material I have to photograph at work is simply gorgeous.  It is not that hard to make it look good!!!

So basically, I managed quite well for nearly four years.  Well, I managed well, except not at night or in anything remotely dark.  At the restaurants I have a spot at each property that I can take a good photo after the sun goes down, but forget it, if I am anywhere else on the property and need to get a shot after the sun goes down.

BUT THEN, a few weeks ago, I had to take a picture that was going to be in the Boston Globe.  THE BOSTON FREAKING GLOBE!  

I experienced some pretty major anxiety as the days led up to the morning I planned to take the photo.  I gave the chef full warning: "dude, we need to do this in the morning when I know I can get decent light in the restaurant. Please, I'm not a professional and I"m freaking the *#$& out about this.  Please can we shoot this steak some time between 10am and noon??"  

He obliged; the photos came out well; and the photo was featured in a HALF PAGE of the printed Globe and online.  

Again, I got lucky with a great shot (but I had to work for it, I staged about 15 shots in 15 different areas of the restaurant before I found this decent location and then I practically started crying as the light began to change as I waited for this tasty Steak Frites to come out of the kitchen!!!) 

So yeah, I told myself it was definitely time to learn more about how to use the camera.  But a few weeks went by and I STILL DIDN'T!!

Then winter birding kicked into gear.  And i just didn't feel like I was getting close enough with my zoom lens.  So I started looking into a higher power lens.  I started eyeing some pretty fancy lenses....anywhere form $1000-$10000.  Most definitely not in my budget, but maybe the lower end lens would meet my needs.  When suddenly one day, on a Facebook birding group I follow, one of the members said they used a Canon Powershot sx50.  And his photos were amazing!  And a discussion ensued on the post about the difference between a point & shoot with high power optic zoom vs. a dslr equipped with a high power zoom. The consensus was that if you knew how to use your camera, it actually shouldn't make a huge difference (for a hobbyist) which type of camera you use.

And so, I bought the Canon PowerShot sx60 bundle, and started looking for lessons online.

In one of the product reviews, I saw someone link a tutorial specifically for the Canon Powershot sx50 s I decided to check it out, and it totally changed my photography life!!!!

This photographer, Marius West, gives THE BEST lessons.  They are easy to understand and they come in wonderfully bite size segments.   So there is never  a huge commitment to start watching.  I am up to the 8th lesson in Season 1 and it has made a HUGE difference for my photography abilities already and how I use the camera.  Check out this before and after:

BEFORE - bad lighting too bright!

AFTER - just right!
I saw that the first photo was lit up much too used the exposure compensation feature to make an adjustment and it came out great!  I can't even believe I'm using sentences like "I used the exposure compensation feature"!!!!!  

So I must extend a HUGE that you to Marius West of MWest Photography!!! Another great feature of his lessons is that he also references how to apply what you are learning about the Powershot, to a DSLR.  So even though I started taking the lessons to learn about my new camera, I am also applying this new knowledge to my work camera!!  Thank you Marius West! 

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Bead Soup Blog Party • Partner and Soup Reveal • Owls

It's here, it's here!!!!  My Bead Soup Blog Party (BSBP) package arrived and I couldn't be more excited!!!!

The BSBP is truly one of my favorite blogging activities!  Created by the talented jewelry artist, Lori Anderson, the BSBP was on hiatus while Lori battled some health challenges.  But I'm delighted to report the Party has been revived.

This year, Lori added a theme: Bead Hoarders Edition.  Can't we all relate to that!?!?!  Who hasn't hoarded something pretty, with the best intentions of eventually creating something with it?!   She also encouraged everyone to create their BSBP package before they were partnered, so that we influenced to create our BSBP soup, based on who our partner was.  Here was my package and note:

I knew I was giving in the spirit of this theme, because I struggled a bit on whether I wanted to even give it away!! That said, I'm super happy that this pretty focal is going to get its due with the BSBP!

In the meanwhile, I was partnered with none other than, micro-macrame knotting extraordinaire, Sherri Stokey!!  Can I just say, I have been drooling over her work for YEARS! Seriously - if you haven't had a chance, check out her amazing micro-macrame on her Etsy page or follow her on Facebook.  Here is Sherri's blog, Knot Just Macrame (and may I also give her HUGE props for her clever business name!?)

Now onto the bead soup that she sent me!!!!!  Yippee!  First of cute is this packaging!?

Next: this card!!! Oh my goodness.  LOVE!

And anyone who has been reading my blog will know that my head just about exploded when I got to the part in the note about an "owl pendant"! WHAT!? Talk about synergy!

I LOVE OWLS! In fact, just yesterday I trudged through a foot and a half of snow just to get a glimpse of my neighborhood great horned owl pair (as referenced in this post ), and saw Papa Owl fly away.  At which time, I scanned the tree line for 30 minutes and took lots of pictures.  Wasn't sure if I got anything (blame it on my middle aged eyes!) until I got back to my computer and was delighted to see I was aiming my camera just where I thought he perched!

Oops - I digress - back to my soup reveal:

I LOVE IT! Thank you Sherri! I am positively swooning over my pendant and beads.  I love birds and especially owls, and this earthy color scheme is going to be tons of fun to work with! I can't wait to begin working on this!  Come back on March 25th for the reveal party!!!

Since we're on the subject of owls, I'll leave you with this video I captured last month of a screech owl trilling in his tree hole! Love these pint size owls! They are so cute!! (And doesn't this guy kind of match the colors of my bead soup!!???)

(This video was also captured on my new Canon Powershot, more about that camera if you click here!)

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy February!  Just when I as thinking 'we are having a mild winter', February reared its ugly head and reminded me that it's still winter in New England! ;)  The day after I took this shot, we got hammered with another 10 inches!

But the previously mentioned mild winter, has made for some fun winter birding!  And on that note, because I've been posting just as much about birds as I have about beads, I decided to slightly rebrand my blog to include birds too! hee-hee

So back to the birds!  A few weeks ago I was fortunate enough to pick up a new camera that is popular for its amazing optic zoom.  This camera does not disappoint!

The Canon Powershot SX60 16.1MP Digital Camera 65x Optical Zoom Lens 3-inch LCD Tilt Screen (Black) optic zoom is not to be reckoned with!!  I mean seriously people, this is a point & shoot, or as some people say, a 'bridge' camera...because it has some features and settings similar to a DSLR, but this camera totally rocks as soon as you take it out of the box!

So here are a few shots I got the first day I used it:

Earlier this week I checked out an area near my home, where last year I located a great horned owl couple that was nesting.  They are back!  Here is the camera view when I first got to the site:

See those little circles?  The one on the left is the nesting hen (uncropped)!

The one on the right is the male owl roosting near by!!!! (Also uncropped!)

Can you believe it!?!? I hardly can!  Here are a couple of moon shots recently snapped by the amazing Canon Powershot SX60:

I couldnt' be happier with this camera.

So when I'm not working, or looking for birds, I have also been beading!
Some earrings here & there....

Here are a few snaps of one half of a heart pattern by Gwen Fisher:

And I came across this pattern via Bead&Button and am still working it!  Seems I need to get started on Valentine's day hearts a little sooner than a few days before Valentine's day!

And when Im not beading, or birding, or working, I'm still having tons of fun playing Pokemon Go with my son.

This fun game even inspired me to create this Pikachu bracelet pattern!

Finally - I'll leave you with a few snaps from my work over the past few weeks!

Stay tuned for another post soon.  I am excited to participate in the  2017 Bead Soup Blog Party (BSBP) this year! I can't wait to see and post what my BSBP partner sends along!