Saturday, July 09, 2011

Love those freebies!

About a week ago there was a tiny blurb in our local paper announcing the 84th Annual Outdoors Writers Association Conference would have a "Free To The Public" seminar entitled "Becoming an Outdoors Communicator" to be held up in Snowbird, on Friday July 8th.
Well, I "communicate" via my blog about the outdoors a what the hey.
Sounds like an interesting seminar I could relate to.
I carefully clipped the blurb and put it in my pile of interesting articles, and then forgot to add the event to my day runner calender.

Friday July 8th rolled around and I was doing some heavy closet organization and floor washing (always a thrill, right?) when I somehow knocked the little scrap of paper off a counter.
Curses! It was already noon...I had forgotten all about the seminar.

But wait!

The seminar started a 3 pm, and was only a half hour away.
Just like that I abandoned my housewifery, shoveled a lunch down and headed to the shower to clean up,

The three hour session had an outdoor themed radio show creator, authors, magazine and newspaper editors, consultants, free lance writer and photographer.
Each explained the joys and challenges of earning a living in outdoors communication.
Most of them said they barely made a living but they LOVED what they did and where it has taken them.
I took copious notes and realized I didn't want to work that hard, even if it would mean doing something I loved.
My "outdoors" communication would probably remain at a hobby level, but I would certainly be open to the idea of blogging for a company, maybe.
Then the conference organizer announced that they had six passes FOR FREE to the entire conference, if anyone attending the seminar was interested.
Maybe I was...maybe I wasn't.
But it wouldn't hurt to ask about what other seminars were being held during the conference, right?
Turns out there was a seminar on Outdoors Macro photography.
And just like that...I signed up to become an official attendee of the 84th Annual Outdoors Writers Conference, held in Salt Lake City, Utah.
(Glad I didn't try to pull this "wait to the last minute to go" thing next year. It will be held in Fairbanks Alaska. A bit more careful planning would definitely be required.)

The macro class was to discuss the making of stronger macro photos.
It was to be taught by Sam Dean, an award winning photographer with the Roanoke Times, and was to entail 30 minutes classroom time, then 90 minutes of field work.

I was to bring my camera, tripod and my best macro lens.

There was maybe 15 people in the class.
Mr. Dean had experienced the sudden loss of his mother-in-law, so another member of OWAA step in to pitch hit.
Professional photographer Jim Foster of Salmon Idaho entertained us with his clever quips, and give us a brief intro to Macro: 

Use a tripod (I have real problems with tripods personally; they just take too much time to set up).
Learn to use your camera's manual setting (but..but...I paid good money for all those automatic features!)
Be aware of depth of field (which means that in macro work only some of the picture will be in focus).

Light..there was something about light too...I'd have to go back and check my notes on that.

Then we headed outside to see what we could find photography to try hands at macro skills.

Oh, I just remembered:  The definition of a macro shot is one where the picture of the thing is larger than the thing is in real life.
I just thought it was really up close picture of something really tiny, so it would look big.

He showed a picture of a elephant that he took, a tight close up, and that also would be considered a macro.

Huh.  Good to know, right?

So for the record, my little four eyed spider friend in real life was about the size of an apple seed.
And you can bet your bippie that I am darn proud of getting the shot in such good focus that the eye highlights are clear...without using a tripod.
(I was sitting on the ground, bracing my elbows on my knees and shooting into the clump of grass about the size of small cantaloupe).

The most important detail that learned came about when Jim noticed one of the other two women in the class swapping out her camera lens. He asked her if she had turned off her camera first; she hadn't.  He advised her to ALWAYS turn off her camera before swapping lens as the camera being turn on has a magnetic/static effect that pulls dust inside the camera.
I knew that...and had forgotten about that fact, and sadly have been swapping lens in the field for a couple of months now.
So for that bit of advice I am truly thankful.

I have read a book on outdoor macro photography and several articles.  In the end, the final word on doing good macro work is a steady camera and lots of practice.

Jim did comment at length about the biggest challenge to macro photographers: Wind.
I was glad to hear I am not the only one that has mad magic powers to make any flower begin to wave about wildly in the breeze the moment I decide to photograph it.
Jim said his quick cheap fix for that problem is a metal skewer stuck into the ground and a bit of Velcro wrap that goes around the flower stem and the skewer to hold the flower steady.

Someone else suggested the idea of photographing rocks instead of flowers on windy days...

 Sunday morning there will be a second session of the class in which our photos will undergo critique. 
I can't wait...I have questions about why certain photographic effect happened in macro mode.
After today's session broke up I walked up to a patio area where there were flowers growing in containers. 
My tripod actually was used for these next flower shots.
I have come to the conclusion that I really hate my tripod, not only because it takes time to set it up, but also because the legs have only three adjustment heights. 
Naturally none of the three worked for what I was doing.

I think what I really need is either to take a class entitled "Tripods for Dummies" or buy a more expensive tripod.

I call this shot: "Two Hens Kissing Bearded Man".
After all the years I have have grown lobelias, I had never noticed this pattern within the flower before.

Cool, huh!

Then after I had gotten all packed up and was walking to my car, I spotted what everyone else had apparently been photographing while I was taking pictures of geraniums and lobelias.
This marmot had been busily mowing the lawn, eating one blade of grass at a time.

He was so funny; he would lay flat on the ground and nosed through the grass chewing away, biting another mouthful, then chewing some more, rather rapidly, and then about every minute or so he would look up, usually with a few grass blades still dangling from his mouth.

I was able to set my camera atop a pole to get a good steady shot; after I was done another woman came on the grass and used a very impressive tripod to take a series of shots of the marmot in another location.
Bernie said he hears that the Snowbird marmots just hang around the resort all the time now.

He was about 30 feet away from me; I used a telephoto lens set on infinity, and then cropped the picture down to get the "macro" shot of his face.

The drive home: Yes, there really was skiing at Snowbird on the Fourth of July.

The Snowbird area wildflowers are going to be late blooming this year for sure with all this snow still on the ground up there.
Sure is pretty though.
I'll be going back up there on Sunday for the critique session, and to take a class on Shooting on the Go: Better Action Photos.
Let me tell you; I definitely will be getting my money's worth out of this conference!

(And by the way, that "log" in the first picture was in real life about a quarter inch wide.)

Friday, July 08, 2011

Is it a snack or is it art?

Mochi balls as snack crackers!
 I just discovered them at our local World Market store about a week ago.
Aren't they as interesting to look at as marbles?
Each one tastes just slightly different; each also has a single peanut inside and a slightly sweet taste.

I bought a package and poured them into a white bowl.
They lasted about four days...selecting just the one perfect bite seems to satisfy me in a way that one single potato chip or piece of pop corn never does.
I really could eat just one and still be content.

Maybe because they satisfied both my taste buds and my need for beauty?
Provide a bit of vegetable (sea weed) and a bit of protein (peanut) in each bite?
And are pretty low calorie to boot?
Did everyone else already know about these and never bothered to say so?

Just glad I finally discovered them.
Wonder if buying a case of them would be as smart of an idea as I think it is...

Thursday, July 07, 2011

The Other Royal Wedding

It didn't seem to cause quite the stir that the UK royal wedding produced, but let me go on record as saying that the Monaco wedding crowd waxed the UK wedding crowd in the millinery arena.

Click HERE to see the hats with the names of some of the people that worn them to the last weekend event.

I am giving the following hats applause:

2-The double brim!  The airy trim!  The dye that fades in lovely tones.  Sigh. Perfect!

5-The silver grey hat with artful suitable for a classy older woman.

6-Navy and navy feathers...I can just picture how the hat looked when the wearer looked slightly down.

7-Another navy, huge brim, just perfect with the off the shoulder dress.  Wow'd her blue eyes too!

9-Love how the light plays through the horsehair brim, not sure that the hat and dress were right together.

10-Red and black and the weave, style, EVERYTHING works. 

11-Bright honeysuckle pink cut and sew hat, with a butterfly.  She nailed the whole look!

12- It reminded me of a single rose petal, and I'll bet it was perfect with the entire outfit.

13-Wish I could have seen a bit of the outfit that went with this triple circle bit of fun.

14 -Oh the lemon yellow wonderfulness from head to toe!

20-Aqua hats look so cool and fresh, and this hat looks lighter than air.

21-The bling on the hat was just right. The fabric, nylon horsehair, makes for a very warm hat though.
22-The matching fabric in the hat and suit...the fabric is so amazing, and the hat designer rocked it!

23-If one is going to wear black to a wedding, then they had better have a look like this one.

26-Love the hat style, not too crazy about it with that dress...or maybe she is just too petite? Or she is wearing it too low on her face?

27-A turban!  A lime green suit with matching turban!  How refreshing and chic, just as a Empress should look.

30-The Duchess's dress: Amazing.  Great hat...could have had a bit of bling to tie it to the dress.

32-Such a lady like outfit.  Like the hat, but find it a bit stiff with the draped front of the dress.

I have questions and wonders about:
16-Asian lass looked quite facinating in the muted flower vase hat. Is it really a vase shape with an opening?

19-The dude has guts to wear that hat. 

24-Black veiling at a wedding?
I thought I was the only one who did that...
Isn't she total "oo-la-lah!"
I want to drop/tip the hat lower on her forehead though.

28-Great hat...with too much competition from the hair and bangs.  Hats don't play well with big hair.

29-A black and white tulip?  Probably looked smashing in person...she's the niece of a very famous designer, the small gent next to her.  Name starts with Arm...i

Other hats left me saying "meh" or "eww".

So, which hat was YOUR favorite?
Oh and I did love Princess Kate's Canada Day hat too!

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Utah-Wyoming-Colorado Clouds

Not much needs to be said..just photos of the clouds that we saw as we drove to Colorado and back again plus a few random other things.

(If you would prefer, you can click HERE to see the pictures full screen in a slide show format instead of scrolling through this post.)

Another Calendar Boy shot...

This cloud looked like a tsunami wave coming at us from the sky.

Both eerie and beautiful!

See the bird snacking on flower seeds in the middle of the roadside flowers?

All the cloud pictures were taken while Bernie was driving; no stops along the way just for photos, we had a long drive ahead of us.

The scattered showers produced huge grape sized raindrops that splatted loudly as they hit our windshield.

We kept say "" as we drove.
One the way home we listened to nine hours of the audio book "Wisdom of our Fathers" by Tim Russert.
It consisted of short letters written by people about their fathers.
Between us choking up and mopping tears and being rain on, it made for a rather damp travel time.

Just awesome....and there was lightening too.

This was the most unusual cloud I had ever seen.
It was like a thin veil drooping below the puffy clouds overhead and we could see through it.


Not sure if this was in Wyoming or Utah.  We were still about three hours from home. 

The cloud shape kept changing and the rays continued to beam out.

Back in Utah.

It might be August before all the snow pack melts!