Summer’s End

On Labour Day, Jess and I went on a bit of an all day outing. On the last holiday Monday of the summer, we decided we needed a beach day to end the summer with a bang. We ended up getting off to a bit of a late start, but that was okay. It was closer to 11:00am before we started off. It’s not a bad thing to be a little bit lazy sometimes! After a stop at her place to grab some bottles of water and snacks, we were on the road. We made a short detour down memory lane, driving past the house I grew up in, and visiting an old friend from high school for a short time. After that, we continued on our way. Somewhere along the way, between Aylmer and Straffordville or somewhere around there, we ended up getting lost…for like an hour. It was actually kind of fun getting lost out there in Norfolk County; a definite departure from what I am used to. Eventually we got ourselves back on track and finally made it to Long Point in the early afternoon.

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We drove around Long Point a little bit upon our arrival. I’d never been there before, so Jess took a little bit of time and showed me some of the familiar spots, like the docks she uses and the bait shop she stops at when she is in the area fishing with friends. Afterward, she took us into Port Rowan, a small town nearby. Normally their Bay Fest happens on Labour Day weekend, but it was already over when we got there. imageWe did, however, stop at the local ice cream parlour. Twins Ice Cream Parlour is a proper vintage ice cream parlour even more true to the vintage form than Broderick’s in Port Stanley. They even had glass bottles of pop and a vintage bottle opener which I took the time to play with a little bit.image

After that, we headed back down to the beach. We parked down a sandy road off the main street. The dry sand was almost burning hot to walk on, but it was lovely closer to the water where it was more damp. We walk along the beach with our cameras and it was quite a nice walk. We missed the noon day sun so the lighting was quite pleasant. It also wasn’t excessively hot, temperature-wise. I easily took a couple hundred photos, and I am sure Jess managed the same. It was enjoyable. After the walk, we hung out around the breakwater for a bit, admiring some wooden Muskoka chairs. I didn’t sit in one because I struggle with sand and being dirty, but they were quite nice to admire. We then continued our walk back in the other direction. DSC_1178The beach sand had some really beautiful red tones in it. I tried to take some pictures of it, but none of the photos I took really did it justice. Que sera sera, I guess.

The afternoon continued on with a bit of a drive. We stopped at an abandoned house and did a little bit of exploring. It was a ramshackle old house, but it must have been nice back in the day when it was still lived in. It was full of broken windows, falling down plaster, and was incredibly weathered in its appearance. Many people had partied there and vandalized it in the process. My exploration of the inside was very short-lived as I got a little bit paranoid about the structural integrity of the floor and the building as a whole. We heard buzzing when we first arrived, a sure sign of a bee hive somewhere, so I decided to turn my attention to tracking down the hive while Jess continued to explore the inside. It wasn’t difficult to find! The bees made a home for themselves inside the walls of the house itself. The outside of the house was board and batten and the bees found a way behind it and started to build their nest. There were easily a few thousand bees in the hive. I spend several minutes photographing it from as many different angles as I could find.DSC_1183 It was very neat to observe a natural bee hive up close like that. We spent probably 45 minutes there, and decided that it was time to head back toward home.

Luckily, we didn’t get lost on the way home. We made a quick pit stop in Aylmer for dinner, and then we continued to my place in London. We settled down and had a glass of wine; a great ending to a great day. And with that, my beach day item on my 30 before 30 list is complete!

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Birthday Celebrations

It was very busy for me this past weekend. I attended not just one, but two birthday parties for kids of friends. I find myself spending more time with my friends with kids lately. I find myself spending more time with friends in general, actually. This is not a bad thing.

The two boys I attended parties for are adorable. One was celebrating his third birthday and the other was celebrating his second. Mason celebrated his third birthday on Saturday with a minion-themed pool party and a bouncy castle while Nicholas celebrated his second birthday with a Thomas the Tank Engine-themed pool party and a piñata.

The weekend turned out to be quite enjoyable, and it was great seeing those two little boys have so much fun playing and opening presents and eating cake. As a person without kids, I think I sometimes forget that my friends with kids are still there and still know how to have fun. Sometimes that means simply being able to sit and chat for a bit. I used to be so nervous around kids; especially kids who are very young. Over the past while I have become much more comfortable. I think spending more time with my two-year-old niece has a lot to do with it… She’s so precious and so are the two little boys I spent the weekend with.

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I’m looking forward to more weekends like this one. It was a nice change of pace. I’m sure my “friends with kids” had a good time too. 😉

Learning More Behind the Camera

Yesterday was a great learning experience with my camera. We went to a cemetery nearby and I basically went to town taking photos – intriguing headstones, interesting items, wildlife… You name it. If it was there I probably took a picture of it. It was good fun.

I was playing with the manual focus and full manual settings and I discovered that I still have a lot to learn. I am by no means a good photographer but I enjoy it. The hope is that I continue to learn and also improve. I think more learning experiences like yesterday are required. I really don’t her out enough taking photos. But back to the things I learned:

  1. I have trouble with exposure. My photos have a tendency to be over-exposed.
  2. I can’t focus manually, at least not yet. Many of my photos were not fully in focus. Auto-focus it is, for now!
  3. I am terrible at changing settings through the viewfinder. Is moving the camera away from my face to change my settings and that doesn’t do much good as the picture will not be the same one you are changing your settings for. Something that will take don’t practice I think.
  4. My composition skills were lacking, especially in my wildlife photos. Something else I think will take practice.

The result of all of these overexposed, out-of-focus, poorly composed photos was that I learned something, and know exactly what areas I can improve upon and how. I decided that until I am able to master my camera settings I will stick to auto-focus, as while practicing later on last night I had much better luck with my photographs. It will make things easier as I practice. I had a lesson last night after we got home in metering – choosing the proper exposure. I was using the wrong things to set my exposure for my photos. Usually an 18% grey card is ideal, but something that acts as a neutral in the environment works fine as well. Grass will work, for example. I also sat down and went through the settings and buttons and other wingdings on my camera and learned exactly what each of them do, and how to change my aperture and shutter speed and ISO all on the fly while looking through the viewfinder. This was all really valuable information. I feel much more confident with camera in hand than I did when first heading out yesterday. I will have much better luck next time.

I really got a lot out of yesterday aside from fun and the things I learned were really invaluable if I really want to take better pictures (and I do). And who do I have to thank for all of this? None other than my fantastic fiance and his wealth of photography knowledge! If it weren’t for him I’d be so clueless and would have no idea where to start. The best part is his own DSLR should be on its way to us. Soon we will be able to go out and take photos together! I’m really looking forward to that.

Though the photographic outcomes of the cemetery outing are far from great, I see it as an invaluable experience and process. Here are a couple of photos I didn’t deem total failures. It’s good that some of them turned out okay!

Mossy Headstone
A mossy headstone. I thought it quite lovely to look at. The photo doesn’t do it justice.

 

Old Lock
An old lock on the gate of probably the most depressing mausoleum ever.

 

Family Bench
This was a flimsy old wire bench we came across as we were strolling along. I didn’t really notice until right before I took this photo that a family had left it. It is in quite terrible disrepair. It has been here a long time.

Self-Portrait-a-Month: February/March

Look at this… Projects already falling to the wayside. It’s not intentional, I promise. February was a busy and very hectic month and it was suddenly just gone. Things are back on track for the month of March, and hopefully things went be going off the rails again anytime soon.

On to the self-portrait-a-month project… I know I said I wouldn’t post the standard cell phone “selfies” you see everywhere – mostly because they turn out terribly whenever I try. For March though, I am posting one because, shockingly, it isn’t half bad!

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I took this the Sunday morning just past before heading off to my Grandma’s 70th birthday gathering/dinner. (Awesome, right? And she is in remission from breast cancer too. She’s an amazing woman and I love her to death.) Anyway, this picture was well over an hour in the making… Blame it on having too much hair and forgetting how to put on makeup (because I wear it so infrequently).

For the first time in ages though, I am happy with how a “selfie” turned out. Maybe it’s a milestone in building up my confidence and self-esteem. I won’t argue!

Self Portrait-A-Month: January

A Self Portait in January

The beginning of my photo projects for 2014: my January self-portrait. I decided to highlight my favourite feature: my eyes. In doing so, I also showcase a couple other features I am not quite as happy with – my perpetually dry and also oily skin with its blemishes and scars and massive pores from acne I have struggled with, as well as my thin and oddly shaped eyebrows. I have accepted these features as part of me and who I am, finally.

I am learning to like myself despite all of the things I’m not really happy with. I think this photo project will also be an act of self-love.

Photography Plans in 2014

I bought my Nikon D3100 late in October of 2012 and to this day my only regret is that I haven’t used it more. I had grandiose plans in 2013 to take TONS of photos and learn ALL about Photoshop. Yet another thing that did not happen quite as I had planned. This year, I just want to make a point to use my camera more, and apply what I have learned in Photoshop up to this point in what I do. In the process though, I am sure I will lots! To help out with this, I have decided to cable in the phenomenon of “photography projects”. I’ve seen them ask over the interwebs and in the blogosphere and have decided to just jump on board, if only just to get myself using my camera more.

In keeping with the idea of using my camera more and using photography projects to do so, I have come up with s few ideas for projects to use:

1) A Day in the Life – This project is exactly what it sounds like. I have seen pictures of this project all over, and thought it would be a neat one to try. What I am mulling over with this one is exactly how to do it, as there are a few difference approaches. One approach is just taking photos randomly throughout the day, while another is to take photos every hour, for example. I also don’t know exactly what day I would use. I can’t really use a weekday as it would be rather strange taking the camera to work (and I’m also not sure it would even be allowed), but I also don’t know what kind of weekend day I would use. I am sure I will decide on the fly, and just photograph a day I feel will be exciting enough to share on the blog.

2) Self-Portrait-A-Month – This one, again, is exactly what it sounds like. Personally, it feels a little bit vain, but realistically there are next to no current photos of me and this project will help to remedy that. I plan to be creative. Don’t expect anything like the cell phone “selfies” you see all over Facebook and Instagram! As vain as it feels, I am kind of looking forward to this one.

3) Photos of Unusual Subjects – I’ve already learned in the few things that I have done with my camera that I gravitate toward photographing certain things. Aside from my stepsister’s wedding I haven’t taken photos of much aside from flowers and some still-life shots around home. I want to get more creative and take photos of subjects I wouldn’t normally photograph. I think it could be fun and will go hand-in-hand with the next project.

4) Weekend Wanders – I haven’t seen this project anywhere else aside from a photography blog I follow. I love seeing her photos of places she visits and the weekends and I have loved the idea since she started it. I am going to do a similar project here locally, though maybe not as frequently. I’m thinking one weekend a month or so. Who wouldn’t love just randomly wandering around the city discovering new sights on the weekend? I’m very excited to start this one as soon as I can.

Of course, with these projects that will have me taking more photos, it also means that I will have that many more photos I need to print and put on display! I am going to make a concerted effort this year to round-up my very best shots and have them printed and framed. By the end of the year I hope I will have a nice collection to put on the wall somewhere around here.

Photos I’ve Been Taking – June Edition

I guess one could technically argue that this isn’t the “June edition” as all of these photos were taken in May. Either way, June edition it is because it is in June that I am sharing them!

There was a decided theme to my photos for this month’s post. It was totally unintentional but it seems appropriate for the season. Flowers always make it feel like spring. Although it has been feeling an awful lot like summer lately, we just aren’t quite there yet.

And without further ado. . .

Spring Tulips at Victoria Park
Tulips at Victoria Park – I love these colours!
Lilacs!
Lilacs! – Seeing these and smelling them really made it finally feel like spring when I took this photo in early May

These first two photos were taken with my (now lost) HTC smartphone and were edited on my phone as well using some simple filters. I think these photos help to prove that you don’t need to have a fancy camera to take good photos. I am pretty proud of these.

These following photos were taken on my outing to the London Civic Gardens I wrote about recently. I took these with my Nikon D3100. I took easily 80-100 photos that day, and it was VERY difficult to narrow it down to just a few. I managed to narrow it down to these five though:

Pink Flower
Pink Flower – Not sure what kind of flower this is, but I love the colour!
Star Flower
Again, I’m no good with flower varieties, but this one I have liked since I was a kid…
Periwinkle Blue
Such a vibrant periwinkle blue!
Note Tree
Note Tree – A well-used and apparently well-loved tree!
Water Droplets
Water Droplets – Probably my favourite photo of the day!

These photos were watermarked and touched up slightly in Photoshop. I am still very much in the learning stages with manual mode on my camera and as a result, I had minor issues with exposure that needed some fixing. I can’t do much of anything yet in Photoshop aside from these minor fixes. As my camera skills improve, I am sure my editing skills will improve as well! After all, I do have a pretty great teacher.

Well folks, until next month then, when I plan to have many more photos to share!

Photos I’ve Been Taking – May Edition

I have to admit, I haven’t had much time of late to really get out and take any photographs. As a result, I only have one to share this week and it has already made its appearance on the blog’s Facebook page because I was so excited about it.

Telephone Pole details

This photograph happened completely by chance, and was taken with my phone rather than with my Nikon. I am proud of it though. I love the details and the texture. It’s a telephone pole near my workplace downtown and I took this photo one afternoon while I was waiting for my bus to go home. What you are seeing are old rusted staples, and years and years of old posters layered on top of each other.

I am really proud of this photo and it proves something that Jay told me once quite some time ago: you don’t have to have an amazing camera to take a great photo. I truly believe that now!

Photos I’ve Been Taking

This post is a little shorter on words than usual, but this post is to showcase some of my favourite photos I have taken in the last few months. Some even go all the way back to Christmastime!

Tobi Relaxing
Tobi – My fat kitty
Cat
Dizzy – My kitty princess
Sunrise From the Balcony
Sunrise From the Balcony
Irish Shamrock Blooms
Irish Shamrock Blooms
Oyster Boy and his Shadow
Oyster Boy and his Shadow
Pin Cushion Queen and Oyster Boy
Pin Cushion Queen and Oyster Boy hanging out together

I hope to make posts like these a relatively regular occurrence as the weather is improving and the opportunities for photo-taking are bound to increase! I have been quite limited thanks to the “lovely” winter weather that has mostly kept me cooped up inside. I have big photo plans and hope to put them into motion soon.

First Sprout of the Season

Pansy Sprout

 The pansies are growing! This is a sprout in one of the two pots I planted. I am excited now to see more soon!

I am also happy because this means different subject matter for the photo-taking… There was a little bit more of that spring feeling in the air this afternoon after the snowfall we had this morning. Hopefully this keeps up and I will be planting everything else outdoors soon.