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S/V Mari Hal-O-Jen
Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
da Vinci Glow, or lack thereof
April 7, 2008, 9:48 am

No luck with the da Vinci Glow tonight, but I did discover a new and wonderful feature on my camera!

Actually, to give credit where credit is due, Hal showed me the new and wonderful feature on my camera!

Think back, wa-a-ay back to when you had to actually go to a store and buy film if you wanted to take a photo. Remember the racks and racks of types of film from Fuji and Kodak all with different numbers on them? 100, 400, 800...

Each of the numbers were good for something, indoor light, outside activity, etc...I recall a soccer player kicking a ball on the cover of the one I used to purchase all the time.

My D40x can be set to correspond to the old film speeds/ASA/ISO numbers.

I have been taking photographs since December 25 on the equivalent of 100 speed film. Tonight, I set it for 1600.

Just look at the rose gilding on the topmost clouds.

April's Shower of Photos
Orchid Buds
April 6, 2008, 7:14 am

One more orchid shot.

Shallow depth of field but forced to the left for the buds, leaving the bloom out of focus front and right.
See how shallow the depth of field is by following the leaf back into the photo? I shot this with my telephoto lens.

April's Shower of Photos
Many Masts
April 5, 2008, 8:39 am

Just a quick photo tonight. Practicing for the da Vinci glow!

April's Shower of Photos
Night Shots
April 4, 2008, 8:52 am

Ed at Trapper Creek has a question for we photographers, he's using a Digital SLR, specifically the Nikon D40x and is not getting as stupendous photos of night phenomena as he would like. His prior camera was a Pentax K1000. And that phenomena he'd like to capture? The Aurora Borealis. He's asked for any hints and tips that would help.

Steak and Mussels shot with the night setting flash.

From the perspective of another D40x user, I am not really turning out the greatest of night shots either. I've played around with all sorts of settings, the strobing Night setting works to reduce red eye in people, of course, but tend to give my photos a very *I used a flash* look. I'm becoming somewhat obsessed with natural light photos, so I haven't been too pleased with that look.

Steak and Mussels shot with all natural firelight.

This photo gives that flame-on excitement of grilling, but what exactly we're grilling is rather lost. So at this point I decided I could try two additional things. Diffuse my flash or add a supplemental light source. Since Hal had a flashlight right there I went with the second option, besides it was nearly time to eat! If I was going to mess around with additional shots I would have liked to have tried lowering the spotlight for an angled light and then diffusing it. Hunger won out though.

Steak and Mussels shot with firelight and spotlighted with a flashlight.

Tripods are handy, but fairly bulky and I never carry one around with me. Grilling on the aft deck is a crowded enough experience what with the standing rigging, the wind generator and the open hatch so I simply propped my camera along the wind generator's legs for support this night. I really prefer to use bean bags to support my camera on a rock or wall or table instead of using a tripod. Small bean bags (like the classic juggling ones) are easy to slip in your camera bag, don't take up much room, and they weigh hardly a thing. If you have it with you, you'll use it. If it sits at home, you won't!

In other cases, as with the building in Miami, I shot with the Sports setting as we were in a moving car (granted it was a slow, stuck-in-Miami-traffic moving car) and I'm pleased with how crisp the image turned out.

Now, a big thank you to MacBeth, who sounded the alert for a heavenly photographic opportunity. (Sorry, I couldn't resist!) Beginning Sunday the 2% Crescent Moon will appear in the western horizon as the sun sets. By Monday it will be slightly higher and exhibiting a da Vinci glow. NASA claims that a crescent moon exhibiting Earthshine is widely regarded as one of the prettiest sights in the heavens!

I'll definitely have my camera in hand and give it my best shot. ;)

Now then, what are some of your favorite hints and tips for Night Shots?
Have you ever had success shooting the Northern Lights?
Have you ever SEEN the Northern Lights?

I haven't but we do have cruising friends who were in the Bahamas and saw the Aurora Borealis one night. The Net exploded with terrified people thinking it was the end of the world, or at least the end of Andros Island (military bases there).

One of these days I'll see them!

In the Bahamas? Who can say?

April's Shower of Photos
Depth of Field
April 3, 2008, 8:34 am

Today I decided to work with shallow depth of field also known as the depth of focus.

Anytime I have attempted to take a photo of a flower, I usually set the camera on either Macro or Portrait. Macro gives great up-close and personal shots, very crisp and full of details, while Portrait blurs the background out of prominence.

After a bit of research and thanks to the Cheat Sheet, I decided to try a new setting that should give similar results to the Portrait Setting where the depth of field is quite shallow while allowing me additional control.

I learned that the depth of field can be changed by adjusting the Aperture. A large aperture creates a shallow depth of field while a small aperture creates a deeper depth of field and I can control the aperture using the A setting.

I did it! This image was taken with the A setting, (A = Aperture Priority). I was able to focus specifically on the frilled fushia part of the orchid while the yellow petals fade into blurriness by their ends! That is a very shallow depth of field!

The photography session kept being interrupted by a sweet little kitty we are kitty-watching right now, Romeo couldn't resist sticking his nose in where it didn't really need to be and I couldn't resist expanding my depth of field experiments to include him! The foreground is blurred here, while Romeo is crisp.

I was then able to force the focus back to the orchids blurring Romeo right into the background.

Another way to control depth of field is through your choice of lenses. Telephoto (or maximum zoom) with their long focal length have a shallow depth of field while wide-angle lenses, with their short focal length, have a deep depth of field.

April's Shower of Photos
Photos on Plane
April 2, 2008, 2:03 pm

Today, rather than the fabulously composed, artsy shots I'd wow everyone with ;) I decided to grab my camera when Hal and I took our little fast boat out for an all out speed trial. I know, I know, what a nutty idea! I knew I had to have something simple to work with when riding along with a Speed Demon though so I quickly decided on the Rule of Thirds.

Illustrated here from my handy dandy little book.

This photo I feel illustrates that. The deck of the boat fills the lower right section, the horizon cuts the upper one third nicely with the sailboat sitting at the upper left intersection. I even like how the sun's reflection on the right side is somewhat balanced by the continuation of the water v-ing down on the left. Oddly enough, though it looks like I kicked it onto black & white for the shot, this is in color. I'm thinking that must have something to do with white-balance but I don't understand that yet...

Next I shot a mooring ball as it zoomed by, instead of classically filling the center of the frame with it, I placed it in the upper left and let the water surge through the rest of the frame.

At this point Hal was ready for that speed test and the camera was relegated to taking photos of the GPS.

Illustrated here.

Actually we got a little faster than 30.8mph but none of those shots came out. It couldn't have anything to do with the fact that I was clinging for dear life to the boat, could it? LOL!

Finally, a photo taken by Hal.
It was time for my fast boat driving lesson. What a hoot! I really enjoyed driving the boat much more than riding in it. When I'm the one that makes it tip up and then level off on plane it's really cool and not scary at all!

I even executed an about-face turn and didn't swamp the boat or throw Hal out into the water or any other disaster that was floating through my mind!

Oh. I did lose my visor once but managed to grab it at the last possible moment. My new lovely straw hat would never survive at speeds like this.

April's Shower of Photos
Here Come the Showers of Photos!
April 2, 2008, 11:28 am

Yeah!!! Let's go photograph!

Here's the lovely folks who've made the plunge and said yes - so far! Join anytime! I'll keep adding to the list.

Kirsten at Sonlight Garden My Today

KC at The Cabbage Patch Photography

Andrea at Running with Perseverance

Theresa at Lapaz Home Learning

Michelle Q at The Family-Centered Life

Stephanie at This Blessed Mess

Amy and her Five Monkeys and a Princess

Several people have asked about the Cheat Sheet I spoke of. I was able to find it on Amazon here, I think they make these for many different cameras. Search for your specific one and then, you too, can understand all the Greek that appears on your camera!

April's Shower of Photos
April's Shower of Photos
April 1, 2008, 9:59 am

Goaded on by the fabulous Amanda Soule and her 30 Days of the Everyday photography fun and the take off that wonderfully inspiring people like Jane at POSY and her From Now to the End of March photolog or the Noticing Project photo a day by Alicia and Heather but mostly do to my in real life inspiration by a photojournalist friend whose book Warriors: A Parris Island Photo Journal I find heartrending and, (of course!), my own dear husband who gave me my incredible camera in the first place and whose own photographs I have always loved, I'm setting up a month-long project for myself. I have everything set up, ready to go, and I'm super excited about it!

So, on to the important stuff. My camera is a Nikon D40x which is an incredibly powerful, near professional, camera. I currently have two lens, a AF-S NIKKOR 18-55mm and a 55-200mm.

I'm hoping to work through 40 Digital Photography Techniques using it as my guide for the month. I really like how the book is laid out as well as it's smaller size. If the book fits in my camera bag it is much more likely to be used afterall!

I'll have my dear husband's totally cool Cheat Sheet tucked in there as well and hopefully by the end of the month it won't be written in Greek anymore!

Of course, I cannot forget my totally cute new bag, a birthday present that fits my paraphernalia perfectly and is (did I mention?) cute. I have my old EOS Rebel camera bag still (the film camera too!) but I never actually carried it anywhere but to the car and back home. I certainly wasn't going to shlep that big bulky grey thing around! However, a springy plaid bag will be toted everywhere - LOL!

I fear this was a very long-winded intro for something that really should be visual, but I guess what I am really hoping is that you will enjoy April's Shower of Photos as much as I hope I shall!

If you would like to join me in a month of photos, please drop a comment into the comment box and I'll collect all our info into my seriously outdated sidebar. Set your own goals for the month or focus on a theme that interests you (Spring Flowers, macro photos, portraits, or perhaps the color green?) or simply have uploading one photo a day as your goal! Goodness knows that's all I'll get done some April days!

I hope to make April's Shower of Photos a little Loveliness to look forward to each day, won't you join me?

April's Shower of Photos

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S/V Mari Hal-O-Jen
Who: Capt. Hal, Jennifer, and our daughter Marianna, a great photographer!
Port: Boca Chica
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