Friday, December 6, 2013

Professor Rigsby Elf

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The elf tradition continues in our home this year.  Some of you may remember that we have quite a large collection of elves and that during the month of December the elves report back to the North Pole each night therefore upon their return end up in a new location in the house.  This year, one elf each night moves to the kitchen table and leaves some sort of helpful note.  The boys are mostly pleased with this change, but there are a few requests for all the elves to spin to new locations one night.  Maybe on Christmas;-)

Way Out West

We had the pleasure of watching Joey perform at his school on Tuesday night after a PTA meeting. The theme of the production was Way Out West, and the kids sang a series of songs about America's westward expansion including Lewis and Clark and Sacagawea.

Here is a collage showing several pictures I took during the performance.

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Joey also belongs to the Storytellers club at school, and the shot lower left shows him narrating part of the program.

The 5th graders made the western style wagon art in their art class for the backdrop.  I took a picture of Joey's purple wagon.

And here are two short videos showcasing some of the songs.



Joey is also an AM Panther Ambassador for the next three weeks.  That means he wears a safety vest and stands to greet kids in the carpool drop-off line.  There are 6 spots for drop-off, Panther Paw, and they usually have 4 kids and 2 teachers out there.  There is another group of kids that do PM.  Johnny and I have to go through the line while he's out there, and we were lucky enough to get him Thursday morning.  He was proud and embarrassed at the same time:-) especially with mom taking pics.

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That's Johnny with his green book bag in the background.

It's been a real family effort this week to get out the door an extra 20 minutes early each morning. Definitely worth it to give Joey this opportunity but nothing relaxed about the morning rush right now.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Tree-Shaped Bokeh

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This is a follow-up post to the one I posted earlier this week showing star-shaped bokeh on my Christmas tree.  However, this tree-shaped bokeh was created using  totally different process as described here.

I bought three hole punches at ACMoore and Michael's this past week. This tree shape and a butterfly shape were very inexpensive (<$1) and created very small holes about 1/8 inch diameter.  The third was a heart shape and a bit bigger, about 1/4" diameter, and it didn't work for my lens (Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM Standard Zoom Lens for Canon SLR Cameras) and equipment (Canon 40D).

This picture shows you the type of punch that I think works best.

There is a bit of an art to getting the punch in the right spot on the paper.  Don't be afraid to fold.  As the article points out, you can also buy a set of lens hoods.

I had to crop my shot, and I was a bit frustrated that the bokeh filled such a small part of the image size.  I think this would be improved shooting with an aperature less than the 3.5 I used.  Needless to say, I was in manual mode and using manual focus.

Here's the butterfly bokeh inverted.

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Here's the lens shooting the tree with no lens hood.

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I hope this is encouraging and motivational food for thought as you take holiday light photos this year. I certainly plan to keep experimenting.

Yates Mill

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Now that we're finally done with all the major house repairs and updates, I have a bit more time to take photos again.  Yates Mill is not that far from the boys' school, and twice now I've stopped by after dropping them off in the morning to walk the mill pond and take pics.  The light isn't great in the morning for shots of the actual mill, but the walk is pleasant, the birds are busy, and there is still some close-up leaf color to enjoy.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Star Tree

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Let me give credit where credit is due here.  I got this idea from John Bennett of Light and Dreams Photography.  I remember John taking shots like this last year and me trying to replicate the technique with no success.  Then I saw his shots this year and tried again also with no success.  After corresponding with John and Donnie watching my technique, I was able to understand that I needed to make VERY small movements with the camera.  This is not like the kids standing in front of me with glow sticks making letters with big motions.  This is about fine short barely moving at all type movements.  Even with understanding the technique, it was still really hard to get the stars just right.  The beginning and end are hard to line up.

Used manual mode with a 5 second exposure f8 ISO 100 on my dad's 40D.  I'm sure this will work with my S3 or SX40 now that I understand how to move the camera.

When this doesn't work, it's obvious.  You get nothing but streaks of light across the screen and no shape at all.

Monday, December 2, 2013


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I bought a few mealworms (live) for the bluebirds and have been trying to get them to notice the dish attached to the front porch rail.  Today I finally saw that they had found them.  Yippee!  

Shot between porch rails on a cloudy day.

Here's a shot with a mealworm in his mouth.  Unfortunately, the ISO was high and the detail and grain along with it.

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