February 24 - 55/365


28-135 lens @ 105mm, f/5.6, 1/30, ISO 1600

I believe I mentioned very early into my project that I like bears when I posted a picture of a stuffed bear paw on Day 4. As a result, I have a number of little bear decorations around my house. Not too many so that my husband feels surrounded by teddy bears, but just a few that it adds a little of my personality to the house. Today's photo is a macro shot of a little bear decoration located in our downstairs powder room. How can you not go for bears with such cute little faces like this one? :-)


February 23 - 54/365

28-135mm lens @ 60mm, f/8.0, 1/50, ISO 200 w/fill flash

Do you remember that post I had about a week ago on photography books, and my lack of one that I felt suited my current needs? Well, I think I found the perfect one for my current skill level and for the direction I'd like to go. The book is by Bryan Peterson and is titled Understanding Photography Field Guide. The subtitle : "How to Shoot Great Photographs with Any Camera." At first, that title made me laugh, as I'm sure you probably snickered or rolled your eyes. I have no doubt that lots of books promise that after you read them, you will be taking amazing and perfect photos. I have no such illusion, or would that be a delusion? Anyways, my goal is to learn how to utilize the available light around me; how to improve my composition; learn some fun and unconventional techniques, shown above; and one of the coolest chapters : how to know when and where to break the rules. I mean, how many teachers tell you to break the rules?

The author of this book talks to you like a friend would - knowledgeable, but not like a textbook or a manual. He describes things and even gives you little exercises. And have you seen the photos inside? Beautiful. Filled with emotion. I can only hope to get there someday. Looking at the photos alone gives me inspiration. It might not be the perfect book for everyone, but so far, I would highly recommend it to anyone looking to broaden their photography skills and gain some additional artistic perspective.


February 22 - 53/365


28-135mm lens @ 50mm, f/4.5, 1/15, ISO 200

For the first time in what feels like forever, rain fell from the sky this afternoon instead of snow. Little signs that spring is slowly approaching are manifesting themselves, and while there is still some snow on the ground, included in this photo, the bright colors of my umbrella and the rain make me think ahead to spring. Only a few more weeks of winter left!


February 21 - 52/365


28-135mm lens @ 135mm, f/5.6, 1/80, ISO 400

I was feeling a bit lazy today when it came to hunting for a photo, especially since I had spent most of my time today on other, more pressing projects. So I lazily took this photo through my kitchen window of some holly berries that are on a tree branch still drooping from the recent heavy snow and ice.

After uploading the image in the computer tonight, I noticed the image had more "noise" in it than I expected. At first, the perfectionist part of me thought "arrrgh - it's not perfectly clear... it's not usable." And then the part of me that has become more open to new effects in my photos thought "actually... I kind of like the grain. It doesn't really affect the main subject of the photo, the berries, and I like that it gives the image a little extra texture. It's 'perfect'!"

Along this line of thought, I've noticed that sometimes if I look at my photos too quickly after I've taken them, they are more likely to not measure up to the image I still have fresh in my head. If I leave a little time between image capture and editing, I tend to look at my photos with a fresh eye, like today's photo. Does this ever happen to you?


February 20 - 51/365

28-135mm lens @ 28mm, f/3.5, 1/20, ISO 400

Last night we had a girls only outing at the Pottery Stop in Ellicott City. Stacey, pictured here in red, came up with the idea and was nice enough to arrange everything for all of us. Most of us attending were quite up front about our lack of artistic abilities in the drawing area, so it was a good thing that the store workers were so friendly and helpful! Of course, we still don't know what our final pieces will look like since once you are done painting them, you have to leave them there for a week to be fired and glazed. But everyone's items seemed like they should turn out great! Can't wait to see the finished products next weekend!


February 19 - 50/365


28-135mm lens @ 65mm, f/5.0, 1/80, ISO 400

Winter snow is still on the ground, and it is still cold outside, which is expected for February. But... the thawing process is well under way, and all the melting snow has left soggy grass and puddles of water everywhere! But that also makes for some cool reflection photo opportunities.


February 18 - 49/365

28-135mm lens @ 135mm, f/5.6, 1/100, ISO 1600 w/fill flash

Our latest favorite "toy" in the house - a new game for the Nintendo Wii! We recently purchased a copy of Super Mario Brothers... actually, it was my Valentine's Day gift. I know that sounds silly, but my husband knew that I really liked the original Mario Brothers game, and since you can play the latest version together at the same time, it would be something fun we could do together. Way more fun than a bunch of flowers. :-) So over the past week, we have been spending our evenings hooked on Mario. Since tonight was quite busy for me, Mark was playing the game solo, and I couldn't resist this shot!


February 17 - 48/365

28-135mm lens @ 65mm, f/5.6, 1/8, ISO 800

It's been quite a busy week for me, especially the end of the week. So while I am behind on posting my photos, I didn't skip on the actual photo taking! This image was taken on a day that was particularly busy for me, so I was grasping for something to photograph at the very end of the day. Working on filling the frame again and with manual settings, I captured this image of a basket hanging in my kitchen.


February 16 - 47/365


28-135mm lens @ 127mm, f/13, 1/50 +1, ISO 200

I've always been one who loves all the seasons. I like the variety and the fact that you always have something to look forward to. Right about now, I am soooo looking forward to spring. I'm loving all the snow we've been having, but I'm starting to long for the vibrant colors and greenery that comes with the start of spring. I'm getting a little bored of feeling like all I have are monochromatic-like scenes in front of me to photograph - white snow, brown trees, black pavement. So while I was editing today's image, I started playing around with those "hue" and "color" and "saturation" options in Paint Shop... and my yellowish bush turned into a beautiful, vibrant red! Yea for color! While I do have a goal of doing less post-processing with my photos, I couldn't help myself this time. And I have to admit, I love the result!


February 15 - 46/365


28-135mm lens @ 47mm, f/4, 1/30, ISO 400

Godiva chocolates.... figured I should take a picture of the pretty array of goodies before I tore into them. Trust me... they won't last long. :-)

A quick side note, aside from making myself use manual settings again, I was working on trying to "fill the frame." Something I'm trying to look for more often.


February 14 - 45/365

28-135mm lens @ 47mm, f/4, 1/6, ISO 200

Valentine's Day cards exchanged between my husband and I. Happy Valentine's Day to all!


February 13 - 44/365


28-135mm lens @ 120mm, f/5.6, 1/13, ISO 800

Today was one of those "I wish I had my camera with me..." days. My husband and I went out with some friends tonight, and while I knew there would be some good photo ops where we were going, it was also one of those situations where you weren't sure you really wanted to be stuck carrying a camera around with you all night. So I reluctantly left the camera at home, missed some cool shots, and ended up taking this photo of a warm fuzzy winter accessory when I got home. If my cell phone had a better camera, maybe I would have used that, but as it was, I had nothing. What do you do when you are unsure about whether to bring a camera with you somewhere?


February 12 - 43/365

28-135mm lens @ 53mm, f/4.6, 1/2", ISO 1600

Sad to say, these are the only two photography books I own. In their defense, they have served me well up to this point. I learned a lot of basic techniques from the "Everything Photography" book, which i received as a gift when I got my first 35mm SLR years ago. And of course the other book has served as a reference guide for the photo editing software I currently use.

But, I feel like I have outgrown my books. I went back to the "Everything Photography" book to look for some new tips/ideas, and realized it is quite outdated. Yes, some photography basics never change. But a lot of the info is centered around 35mm cameras, and I now own a digital SLR with lots more features, buttons, options, etc. So I feel that it is time to look into getting some new books, but I'm not sure which to try. Anyone have any suggestions for some good go-to books on photography techniques?


February 11 - 42/365


28-135mm lens @ 135mm, f/5.7, 1/60, ISO 294 with bounce flash

I love to bake. And in the winter time, I definitely crave warm, gooey, sweet comfort foods. So being that over the past few days I have found myself snowed in at home with lots of free time on my hands, what did I do? I baked. I baked brownies. I baked banana nut muffins. I would have baked cookies, too, but I ran out of butter and didn't want to try getting to the store to get more. So today's photo not only represents my recent urge for warm homemade goodies, but also another of my home-bound activities from the past few days. If you want the recipe, check it out here. Back to work tomorrow!


February 10 - 41/365


18-55mm lens @ 29mm, f/5.7, 1/2500, ISO 300

We got more snow today, and both my husband and I had off of work and were stuck indoors because of the blizzard-like conditions outside. I tried lots of different snow-related shots today and ended up with this snow-on-the-windowsill shot as the day's winner. Hopefully tomorrow's shot will be unrelated to the weather!


February 9 - 40/365


28-55mm lens @ 34mm, f/4.6, 1/30, ISO 200

Today's photo represents a few different things. First, I have to boast that I went Manual again today. [yea!] I'm definitely feeling more comfortable with specifically choosing my camera settings and hope I can keep improving in that area. For this image, I specifically opened my aperture as far as it would go in Aperture priority mode and also chose a very low ISO. While the general rule of thumb is to use higher ISO settings for low light situations, such as an indoor picture like this one, I had lots of good extra light around me here and wanted to keep myself "darker" and hopefully enrich the colors from the maps. I definitely achieved the look I was going for.

This image also represents my first attempt at a "self-portrait." I have been wanting to experiment with taking some photos of myself, but this is obviously harder than it seems! You should have seen the setup I had going on for this photo. I had my camera on a tripod [obviously] and since the tripod wouldn't reach tall enough for the angle I wanted, I had to put it up on my kitchen counter. So every time I wanted to take the picture, I had to climb up on my counter, press the shutter release button, climb back down and get in the chair within the 10sec timer. Then repeat the process to check the image result and repeat if necessary. Phew! But it was worth it.

Lastly, this image reflects one of the activities I have been busy with while snowed in at home the past few days. I have been actively planning our upcoming trip to Germany and Austria in the spring. I've been reading through guide books and planning an itinerary on paper and have slowly started figuring out a game plan. I'm starting to really look forward to the trip, even if it is still a few months away.


February 8 - 39/365


75-300mm lens @ 75mm, f/20, 1/160, ISO 1600

The sun has been shining on us for the past two days since the big snow storm hit on Saturday. The result - lots of cool icicles to photograph! I took lots of icicle photos... ones hanging on the garage, ones hanging on the deck, and ones hanging on trees, like the ones in today's photo. It's amazing how one day you can't bear to choose between a bunch of amazing photos to use for THE photo of the day, and another day you feel as if you can't find one that you like enough. Today there were too many to choose from, but something about the stark contrast of the icicles, sun reflecting on the snow, and the dark leaves of the holly tree "spoke" to me. With another 10"+ of snow predicted for tomorrow, I'm sure there will be more snow-related pictures to come!


February 7 - 38/365


28-135mm lens @ 28mm, f/4.0, 1/60, ISO 400 with bounce flash

After a busy day of continuing to dig out our cars and shovel the driveway, we ended our day by watching the big Superbowl game in HD with a nice fire to warm us up. Nothing like the comforts of home! And congrats to the new Superbowl champs, the New Orleans Saints!


February 6 - 37/365


28-135mm lens @ 95mm, f/8, 1/160, ISO 300

I am happy to report that the snow has definitely stopped. For those of you reading this post that don't live in the DC metro area, we were bombarded with one of the biggest snowstorms we have had in years. I remember watching a similar snowstorm of this size in 1996. I think we hit close to 3 feet of snow that time. I specifically remember this event because I was a junior in high school at the time, which meant that I would not have the privlege that the seniors did of not making up the ton of snow days that ensued from the storm. I might miss out again this time since the storm hit over the weekend! But we made it through the storm and have successfully dug ourselves out of ~30 inches of snow, allowing us to walk around our neighborhood and take some great pictures of the storm results!

On a side note, I chose this particular picture for today becuase one of the Project 365 groups I am following on Flickr has incorporated themes for each month, partly as a challenge and partly as a source of inspiration. So I thought I would try to incorporate some shapes into my photos this month, and this one seemed to fit that bill!


February 5 - 36/365

28-135mm lens @ 41mm, f/4.0, 1/60, ISO 400 w/bounce flash

There was a massive approaching snowstorm last night, and sadly another February birthday party was scheduled for our friend, Sean. Since we have an SUV with 4-wheel drive, we went ahead and ventured out to the party for a few hours to have some fun before getting snowed in the rest of the weekend! Ironically, the party was supposed to be a Hawaiian-themed party. I couldn't muster up the courage to wear my warm-weather "Hawaiian" clothes, but both my husband and the birthday boy came dressed in their island-finest! Despite the snow, we all had a great time. Happy Birthday, Sean!


February 4 - 35/365


28-135mm lens @ 38mm, f/4.0, 1/30, ISO 300

I'm one day behind on my posts... not bad, but need to make sure I don't fall behind! Last night we went to my in-laws house for a belated celebration of my husband's birthday. There was dinner, and of course, cake! I just can't believe that my mother-in-law (a) fit all those candles on that poor little cake and (b) that it didn't set off the smoke detector!


February 3 - 34/365


28-135mm lens @ 135mm, f/9.9, 1/400, ISO 200

As you may have guessed, we got more snow last night. Everything outside looked so beautiful this morning - all the trees looked "fluffier" and the ground was covered in white again. My mission this morning was to work on some macro techniques. My images didn't quite turn out as I had hoped, but I was able to shoot on full manual mode again, and I think I learned a bit more about the macro capabilities of my lenses in the process [always good to learn something new!]. Unfortunately, it also added more items to my ever-growing wish list of lenses/accessories! We are supposed to get a LOT more snow again this weekend, so there might be some more opportunities for me to practice some snow-related macro shots again soon.


February 2 - 33/365


28-135mm lens @ 44mm, f/4.0, 1/200, ISO 800 with bounce flash

Ahhh... the dream of spring. Of course it is snowing outside as I write this, and the Groundhog, Punxsatawney Phil , announced today that spring will be delayed for another six weeks. Bummer. Until then, I will be trying to stay warm and reading about all the fun things that will come with the warmer weather!

On a side note, I did something I usually don't do with this picture - I shot my camera on full manual mode. As I've been taking pictures this past month, I've been paying more and more attention to the settings the camera is choosing for certain shots, and I knew what settings I "needed" the camera to have for this picture to turn out the way I envisioned. Hopefully I can do this more often!


February 1 - 32/365


28-135mm lens @ 53mm, f/5.0, 1/60, ISO 640

Wouldn't say I was particularly inspired by doing the dishes tonight... just thought about trying to capture the rising bubbles and this was what I ended up with. A little post-processing done to the image, but not too much.


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