Friday, January 25, 2013

House Bound: Four Discussion Items for a Cold Winter's Day.

Freezing rain has kept me housebound the past two days.
This means I have had a few extra moments to ponder and mull, research and react, and enjoy a bit of millinery too.
First up:
After doing a little research, I am excited that I will be wearing this hat again!
I have a matching emerald green long shawl collar wool dress coat; I haven't worn them in ages because somehow emerald green just seemed, oh, I don't know, just kinda not right.

After some spur of the moment research, my thinking about emerald green has changed.
Are you up to speed with Pantone's announcement about the color for 2013?
I wasn't until two days ago.
I did know that two years ago Pantone named a color called Honeysuckle for the color of the year, which was a coral pink punch color.
Last year it was an aqua shade...
I really didn't expect them to name EMERALD to be the color for 2013.
How could I have missed guessing that Emerald would be making a comeback in our color choices?
Now if you were old enough to buy furniture back sometime around in 1985-1995 I am almost willing to bet that you probably indulged in a sofa with some emerald or hunter green colors, probably mixed with a deep wine red or burgundy, or perhaps a deep royal blue.
There's a reason why I can make this guess.
As it turns out, color choices rotate in ten year cycles, usually beginning the shift about mid decade.
The cycles go from:
Saturated/jewel tones
Earth tones/Neutrals.
From 2003 to 2013 we have been trending towards neutrals and earth tones.
Think granite counter tops, coffee brown woods, or birch, or steel greys, with accents of nature tones of aqua or natural greens, or wheat golds.
I posted about the history of color cycles before HERE,
The pastel pink, yellow and baby blues of the 1950-60's
The saturated pop "hot" lime/pink/orange colors of the 1960-70s,
The earthy harvest gold/avocado/copper/macrame earth tones of the 1970-80s,
The pastel dusty blues and mauves pastels of the 1980-90s,
 The jeweled hunter/burgundy/navys of the 1990s-2000,
The neutral earth tones of mossy/cream/coffee black earth tones of 2000-2010
Then we drifted quickly though a pastel aqua/greys/light blues the past three years.
Now, in a speeded up cycle, we are just starting to see the first hints of back to jewel tones.
Emerald green will now be showing up everywhere.
Paint a wall emerald green?
Carry an emerald green purse?
Wear an emerald green blouse?
Buy an emerald green accent pillow?
Now is the time!
At first I was a bit disappointed that the color that will be "out there" was emerald green since it was a been there-done that color for me.
But after looking at photo examples of emerald green in home decoration and wardrobe accessories, I have emotionally bought in.

It is quite a daring hat...
(And I should have used a diffuser on the flash to avoid that heavy back shadow...a piece of tissue wetted and stuck to the flash usually will do the trick...)

Maybe I will wait a bit until the emerald thing really gets going before re-debuting it in public?

Our library has definitely gone pastel...

As has our master bedroom.
The trouble is...I don't like the cameo pink color.
I wasn't sure of it when I first painted it four years ago when I was trying to fit into the the Mid Century modern vibe.

The past three years have seen a lot of paint chips taped to the walls.

After flirting with painting the walls a deep brown, or a celery green I have finally decided what color I am going to go with:
SW Dover White.
A basic creamy white.
How...uh...not daring.
Not jewel toned.
(Although I do think one friend's nearly emerald green guest room with periwinkle accents is awesome...hi Ellen!)
Big paint project coming up soon.

A passing note:  Are primroses showing up in your supermarkets now?
Ours all have potted primroses in all sorts of colors, two for $5.
I am stocking up...they are such a cheery little inside plant.
After the blooms fade I stick them outside and later plant them in the garden where they seem to come back and bloom nearly year around.
Such a deal!

Last discussion point:
How often do you read booklets or instruction guides that come with things?
My tripod came with just a hang tag with a few specifications listed.
I was hoping for a guide book of some sort but no, all there was was the hang tag.
Yesterday, being house bound, I took a moment to read what little the hang tag had to say.

This line stopped me dead in my tracks:
The tripod had a Removable platform for reverse mounting for copy and micro photography.
No additional information was included.
I went on line to the Sunpack website; no additional information was there about how to reverse a  mounting.
Eventually I saw a picture of a tripod set up in a reverse platform mount; it looked something like this:

Game changer!!!
I consulted with the ever patient engineering minded Mr. B. and he soon configured my new tripod in a reverse mount position.

I could get within an inch or less of the ground!
(or in this case, our living room carpeting...)

The camera was now upside down.
The display screen was right side up though.
I got a mirror to slide under the camera to help me see the dials for the various camera settings.
Moments later I was taking macro shots on manual, with longer time exposures that require tripod steadiness.
I am so glad for once I actually read the materials that came with a purchase!
My Christmas tree stand McGyver project will still be used for fast shooting.
But I am sure that this tripod function will get its use too for macro work with flowers and ground items come later in this year.
Long post.
Hope you found something here that made it worthwhile to read!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Tricks, Tips and a McGyver for photographers

A friend shares tips and tricks that makes one's life easier or better, right?
I am no expert on photography, but I am happy to share the few dibs and dabs that I have learned along the way with my bloggy here goes my tips and tricks and McGyver post!

My camera came with a lens that would only do so much in terms of close up work.
Macro lens cost a lot more than I was game to pony up at first.
Ditto for wide angle lens or extra long focus lens.
But...I have Yankee blood in me.
Where there is a will, I find there is almost always a way, and a cheap one at that.
For me the way was purchasing screw on magnifying lens.

I got them on ebay but most camera stores carry these things.
The cost for each lens is somewhere between $10 to $40 or there about.
Are they a perfect solution?
Certainly not professional grade.
They are for putzing around and learning a bit and actually getting some fine micro macro shots of flowers and snowflakes and such.
The outer edges of the photo tends to be a bit wonky, but one always crops down to get a good macro shot anyway so who cares?
And sometimes the wonky add to the photo's artistic composition!
I also leave these lens outdoors at night so they are good and cold and at the ready for any wayward snowflake that happens during the night.  I get up in the morning and check to see what flakes might have shown up.

My second tip:
How I store my camera chips.
I never erase my chips except for clearly blurry shots.
Chips are so reasonably priced now; I can get a thousand shots on a 16 gig chip that costs under $20.
I found these handy little storage units at my camera store.
I write a beginning and ending date on each chip, plus a word or two about special subjects like Swiss trip.
Then I write a more detailed list on a small sticky note which I put inside the case with the chip.
Then I write the same details on the outside of the case.
The triplicate documentation helps make sure the right chip is in the right case.

A close-up of how it works.
Right now I have four cases, each case holds ten chips.
I have them slipped into a semi water proof zippered case where they can be easily grabbed if I ever need to evacuate quickly.
I do put my edited pictures on Picasa web albums too.
And I back up our computer and at one time had a secondary external back up drive for my photos which two years later did not wish to communicate with our new computer.
That misfortune cinched it for me.
I keep all my chips, with my photos in an unedited state, after the chips are full.

Now this is my McGyver project.
Two days ago I was photographing the surface hoar out on the snowpiles out front, down on my knees and trying to use manual settings.
It was impossible.
I couldn't hold the camera steady that close to the ground unless I was shooting straight into the ground.
This irked me.
Bernie had gifted me with a tripod with legs that would spread flat on the ground.
That should have solved the problem except for two things:
The working around the spread legs is tricky.
The leg of the tripod snapped off the other day.
(I bought a new tripod that I like much better than the old one but it doesn't go flat.)
Two days ago was when I realized I needed something to address the on the ground shooting issues.
One day ago THIS popped up in a photo tip website; called a Ground Pod, it was a dish shaped items with a tripod head mounted in the middle.
Seemed like the perfect solution, except the price and shipping time!
Then there was an article which suggested something similar could be made using a frying pan with the handle removed, and a drill.
Bernie said he could make the frying pan version...when that would happen wasn't a detail that was easily pinned down.
I was antsy...I wanted something that would work right now, as in this very instant!
So I mulled and mulled my dilemma.
I wanted to be able to get low and steady ASAP.
Then it hit me:
Our Christmas tree stand just might work!
Sure enough, it was just the ticket for now.
I used sticky notes on the end of the screws to avoiding scratching my camera; I will add felt stick on pads as soon as I can.
The stand is pretty light weight, the screws are big enough to be easy to move while wearing mittens and I think I can add styrofoam blocks or bean bags in the middle if I want to raise the camera up higher.
Totally works for now.
It would/will be great to have a frying pan version using the broken tripod's head so I could have more flexibility but for now, I can just spin the entire stand if I need to.
Low tech works for me!
So...those are my tips and tricks.
How about you?
Any thing you might be willing to share?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


Just kicking back a bit today and looking back on some photos from when I lived in Houston. Rain often fell by the bucketful and left puddles everywhere. This puddle reflected the trees and colorless sky overhead and also three fallen leaves that had become ensnared by a spider's web as they tumbled.
Houston had special beauty too.
I am so glad I took lots of photos during the years that I was there.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Snowpile's Secret

The snow piles from two weeks ago have a shaggy appearance now.
Surface hoar is building crystal structures which sparkles in the sunlight.
Up close, on my knees, I can see the structures if I place myself within four inches of the icy layers.

Not quite as elegant as the river surface hoar, but the color is more interesting.
Arctic ice blues and aquas can be seen the deeper one looks into the snow/frost. 

We stride by the white mounds on our way to pick up the newspaper in the morning, the mail in the afternoon, or when we are heading out on some errand.

From our living room the mounds are just white lumpy shapes.

Who is enjoying the snow pile's secret art?
I guess you
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