Friday, 10 October 2014

Still Life

I had a wonderful time with this month's Photo Challenge on still life.  I'm eager to show you my pictures and tell you all about them, so let's jump right in.

Aperture Priority setting     Shutter: 1/250     f/5.6     ISO 100

Tomatoes.  They're rolling in from the garden -- beautiful and sweet and so photogenic.  For this photo shoot I dragged the dining room table close to the patio door and threw a blanket over one of those tri-fold science fair booths for a background.  It was a sunny morning and the tomatoes are in direct sunlight while the backdrop is not.  Can you believe that the backdrop is actually a white blanket?  I didn't expect it to look so dark, but I like the effect.  The tomatoes certainly stand out.  Looking at my pictures now, I wish I had played a little more with depth of field.    The glare is disappointing too, but overall, I'm happy with this one.

Aperture Priority setting     Shutter: 1/100     f/7.1     ISO 200

Confession:  My enthusiasm for this particular challenge on still life photography is strongly driven by my Etsy shop.  Good pictures are everything when you sell your handiwork online and I still don't have a product photo set up and I'm truly happy with.  This is one of my crochet baskets.

Getting enough natural light is a huge challenge; I'm far too dependent on the weather.  For this photo, I took my cardboard science fair backdrop and a white table cloth outside to the patio table.  It was mid-morning, a sunny day but not in the sun.

The first thing I notice here is that outside at this time of day the light is soft and less directional.  It doesn't make for a very dramatic photo, but it does show my product well.  I think I'll experiment further with the outdoor option.  As long as the rain holds off, that is.

Manual setting     Shutter:  1/30    f/6.3    ISO 500

Finally, a small Hydrangea bloom from my front garden.  It's another simple composition, but I had several experiments in mind.  For starters, I wanted to try using a paper backdrop like several of Donna's recommended articles suggested.  I've always used fabric simply because that's what I have, but it wrinkles.

The set up for this shoot included a meter stick stuck through a roll of kraft paper and balanced between two bar stools.  I pulled the paper down and taped it to the front of my daughter's colouring table (just the right height).  I moved the whole works around a couple of times (note the wrinkled paper) and landed up beside the family room window.  

Then -- drum roll, please -- I switched my camera to manual.  For the first time.  I don't have much to say about that as I didn't really know what I was doing.  See the results for yourself.

Several of Donna's recommended articles waxed eloquent on how controlled still life photography is, how leisurely and drawn out the process can be.  I had to laugh.  Clearly those photographers did not have two-year-old helpers.  Miss S was involved, to some degree, with all of these photo shoots.  She especially likes climbing up on a chair beside the tripod and pushing the button.  Leisurely, no.  Fun, always.

A big thank you to Donna for hosting this Personal Photo Challenge and to all the other participants for joining and visiting.  I'm excited to see what you've done.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Cat Feet

The fog came in on little cat feet, just like in that poem that we all studied in middle school.  It came in while I was looking the other way, collecting clam shells and watching seagulls bob and fish on the inside of the breakwater.   Early fall yellows reflected.

Then, a fog horn bellowed at my back.  It reverberated across the lagoon, stirring up the gulls with its forceful melancholy.  Other ships in the straight answered in their own voices, and the first cottony wisps of mist floated overhead.

I crossed the breakwater and looked out to sea.  There was nothing -- only fog and the lapping tide.  

The fog came
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

Carl Sandburg

Friday, 3 October 2014

This Moment

This is what I get when I ask her to smile.

Joining SouleMama and others in a Friday ritual. A single photo capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your moment in the comments for all to find and see.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Tomatoes and More

I started pulling out the tomato plants this week.  I'm always a bit sad to turn so viciously on the same plants that I tucked into fresh soil a few short months ago.  Since May I've been trimming and tying, watering and wishing over these plants.  Now they're chopped up small, wilting on the compost pile.  There's not a lot of room for nostalgia in the veggie garden.  Besides, the tomatoes were good this year and I still have plenty of them.  They're mounded high in all my biggest mixing bowls and serving platters -- beautiful red and green -- waiting (not very patiently) for attention.

The cherry tomato plants, in the warmth and shelter of the eve, soldier on.  Little Miss has no idea that they too will succumb to the changing season.  She knows how to pick only the red ones and eats them out of hand like candy.

We ventured outside with a mixing bowl (I found an empty one) and basked in the sun.  There's been enough rain lately that we remember to bask when the opportunity comes.  I filled the bowl.  Little Miss filled her tummy.  The shadows were long and the spiders where out, both signs of fading summer.  

Then Little Miss had an idea:  a picnic.  Why not.  Dealing with tomatoes is hard work.  A blanket, some lunch and a glorious fall day add up to the perfect picnic.

What have you been up to?

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Another Busy, Sunny Day

The sun is streaming in through the windows.  Hubby is industriously chopping tomatoes and jalapeno peppers, doing his bit to keep the mound of tomatoes on the counter in check.  This is the mound.  I can't help showing it off a bit:  45 pounds of backyard garden goodness with more to come.

I've been taking advantage of the bright afternoon to take a bite out of my own mound -- all the handmade Christmas goodies that I've been making for the Dapple Design Shop.  Here's your very first sneak peak.

Yes, my Cloth Gift Bags are back for another season.  They're reusable, easy on the planet, and oh-so-pretty.  I'll be listing these very soon, so keep your eyes open.

Today I'm linking up with Angela at Pretty Little Inspirations.  Please drop by and visit a few of the online shops joining her link party.

Friday, 19 September 2014


Two weeks ago I spent the morning here.  I was comfortable in shorts, sporting a sun hat and sand between my toes.

The heady days of summer are not quite over, but they're losing interest in us, looking away more often.  Then back.  Then away.

Today I don a sweater in the morning but shed it two hours later.  I watch the garden, exhausted from it's season in the sun, droop and begin to yellow, even as the harvest rolls in.  We're caught between, lingering in one season and looking toward another.