To all ye who want to paint with light ...

I should have started this blog many moons ago as I started experiencing the joys of rediscovering the art of photography. But as the saying goes - it's better late, than never!
So, here I am, in the hopes of recording what I learn as I progress from ignorance to enlightenment; about what my eyes can see that my camera can capture; and, what my mind imagines and my camera paints with its capabilities.

Please feel free to add any comments and share your wisdom (tips or tricks) that you have picked up along the way.

And do check out my How-To and Birding pages as well.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Day 29 - Kidney beans for dinner

The beans just before I soaked them for my kidney bean curry.  The curry turned out delicious, but it's a pity I didn't think of taking a picture before consuming it with relish.  When there's food on the table, my photography comes way down on my list of priorities, unless I'm saving it for dinner guests! :=P

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Day 28 - Trees on fire

As the day continued to be dismal, there was one sudden patch of sun in which the treetops seemed to have been set afire.  I would have missed the sight had I not been in the kitchen at the right time.  Of course the windows were dirtier than my bedroom windows and taking the shots was a challenge.  But I managed a couple of decent ones, but the one I really loved came out so blurry that it's pretty useless.  However, I'm still including it here to show what I meant when I said the treetops were on fire.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Day 27 - Squirrels in trees

I was busy putting together stuff for my soon-to-start cooking class when I suddenly became aware of the sounds of silence around me punctuated by bird-calls.  I immediately dropped all my work and whipped out my camera and tried to find them through my dirty bedroom window.  It had been a pretty dark and dreary day and the failing light didn't help.

But what I did find was a squirrel trying to lick something off the trunk of the tree!  Very interesting sighting so I took a few snaps of the guy clambering up and down the trunk, and got a couple of nice ones.  The first one's really blurry as I was trying to focus through the window and fidgeting with my settings, but it definitely tells the story of the tree-licking.  The next 2 are better, but seem pretty lame after the beautiful colours and subjects I saw at the Jardin Botanique a couple of days ago.

And the next one's the cutest!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Day 26 - Dry day

I think I did quite enough photography yesterday, and I still feel the effects of it.  I thought I deserved a break, so I went ahead and gave myself one.

Tomorrow is another day!

Day 25 - Flowers and butterflies

I spent the better part of the day with a friend at the botanical gardens to see the butterfly exhibition.  It took quite some time to figure out the way to the greenhouse where the butterflies were flying free.  It worked out better that way, because on the way we saw some of the most exotic plants and flowers.  I need to go back there again, and soon.  I was exhausted towards the end of the visit and it felt like my arms would drop off from holding the camera.  And I need knee pads - Scott Kelby was so right when he said that you need them for flower photography.  I still feel self-conscious, so even if I had them, I'm not sure I'd whip them out in a hurry when I'm in public.

Some more photos on my Flickr photo stream...

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Day 24 - BULB photography

I finally got a load off my shoulder this morning after the volunteering program.  I have to say I wasn't expecting much after getting a briefing from the head teacher on what we might encounter in the classes.  But, I was pleasantly surprised by the depth of these young adolescents' minds.  They seemed not to care about our presence or what message we were trying to send them on the economics of life, but somewhere I know they were receptive of what we told them, however fragmental.

With that out of the way, and feeling good after a workout, I just went ahead and decided to explore the BULB setting on my camera.  I had been curious about it when I accidentally hit upon it some time ago.  And then, wanting to learn something new, I thought I'd try to figure it out by playing with it, before I did any reading.  What I learned from doing, I learned a little extra from reading.  But I realized that I have to speed up my process of buying a cable release for my camera.

I also tried different lighting setups - with the overhead light on, with a sheet of paper to shade the bottle from the direct glare of the overhead light,  with a lamp that I placed a few feet away at a 45 deg. angle with my homemade softbox (a white plastic canister) over it.  I also tried to shield the bottle from the direct lamp light, by standing between the bottle and light source.  And of course, I tried using candles - from one side of the bottle and then on either side of the bottle.  Here are some of the shots with footnotes on the lighting. It would be nice to know which shot you think worked best.

Side lit by my table lamp with "softbox"; love the saturation on the green.  I only removed the dull colour cast from the background.

Lit by an overhead lamp - looks blown out, but I'm still finding the brightness appealing in some way

Lit by the overhead lamp again, but shielded from the bare bulb with a piece of white paper, and I set the WB to florescent to get the warm light.  I love the definition on the glass and like the bands of light and shade in the background.

Lit from the left by a single candle - BULB for 12s; still pretty dark

Lit on either side by candles - BULB for 10s.  Too many reflections.  I'm going to try and polarize next time around.

I'd love to have any other ideas on what to do to get images with different light sources.  I want to try to use a flashlight at some point and see how that pans out.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Day 23 - My mess

I was busy trying to prepare for my lesson at Perspective 2 school tomorrow and didn't have much of an idea about what I could do for today's photo.  So, I resigned myself to taking few shots of the mess I made on my living room floor while preparing the posters for tomorrow's class.  Here are a couple from the series.

The light's completely off again because I had the overhead lights burning.  Tried to play around with the light source a little, but I couldn't come up with anything that I liked.  Time is definitely in short supply this evening.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Day 22 - Wish I was back at kindergarten again

I missed yesterday, since I was down with a really bad migraine.  So, I was thinking of doing two subjects for today, to make up for the loss of one.  But I suddenly remembered that I had to prepare for something more important.

I was thinking of ideas for my volunteer event at a high school here on Friday, and my photo idea popped into my head while I was doodling (which I'm wont to do when I'm thinking hard).  So, this is what I got, at the tail end of the day, when the light was starting to fade.  I opened up the aperture completely, since I couldn't slow down the shutter too much.  I'm missing my tripod now, but I'm probably going to get it back tomorrow.  Yay!  Just goes to show how dependent I have become on it, and it's so not good!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Day 21 - Roses

I finally got the flower photos I had been planning for ages!  I had gone for groceries and saw these roses that were selling for the cheapest price at the supermarket.  I figured it might be a good start with my flower experiments.  I noticed the roses were a little dried and wilting, but there's nothing a spray of water won't mend.

So, I proceeded to set them up.  It was already getting near dark, so I could only manage the first few shots in natural light.  But after that, I had to improvise with my lights.  I found a white plastic canister (thanks to my son for raiding the pantry), and I used that over my lamp as a softbox.  And I moved the light around a little bit, but the shots got progressively darker.

Some of the nicer shots are on my Flickr photostream, but the nicest I'm reserving for another time ;-)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Day 20 - A small PSE8 accomplishment

I'm finally starting to wrap my head around Photoshop Elements 8!  Yay!  I was feeling really lazy this morning and needed to get my kitchen and dining room cleaned up after last evening's party.  Instead, I got chatting with an old and dear friend who gave me all kinds of ideas about photography - the most important message being that I should start signing all my photographs.  I have to admit, I had been thinking on those lines for a while myself, but I was too apprehensive of giving it another shot after the last failed attempt.  But I heeded the advice and decided to try doing it again - and bam!  There it was - one minor conquest!

So, now my photos (not that they are all pieces of profound art) will be signed. ;-)  I also learned to apply some minor edits to the photos while still in PSE8.  I hope to cover that realm slowly but surely.

I didn't have too much energy for photos, but I had to do something.  I had bought this pack of drinking straws on Friday, and while waiting for the bus (which I spoke about 2 posts ago), I suddenly saw the pattern through the straws.  It looked like a kaleidoscope and I instantly knew what I wanted to do with it.  But since it would require the use of a tripod, and I don't have mine with me right now, I thought I'd be a little less ambitious and try something really plain.  And it turned out plain alright.

I cleared up a bit of space on my glass-topped table, and tried to get the reflections of the packet of straws.  However, there were too many distractions and shadows and I was dealing with really low light conditions since it was grey and snowy outside my window and I only used natural light for this series.

Here are the four best ones (out of about ten):

Regular shot, with my 18-55 mm kit lens

This was shot using the C-PL which cut out the reflections you can see in the shot above.

This had the polarizing effect turned off on the filter.  I wanted to test how the reflection of the pack of straws would look with or without the C-PL.  Turns out there was a fair amount of glare and other distractions in the reflecting image.  You can also see the glare from the background. 

This had the C-PL turned on - less reflections.  The glare in the background is much lesser on this one because the C-PL always brings down the exposure a couple of stops, eliminating the glare.

I am now pretty much sold on the polarizer being a really neat tool to have indoors as well, when shooting reflecting objects. 

Day 19 - Cooking for friends

I know these posts will all appear on the same date, but I am just making up for the days I didn't upload because of my preoccupation with other things. 

I had some friends over this evening, and we had a little potluck dinner.  We had some really sumptuous Indian food and I was very  excited to discuss about my upcoming Indian cooking project where I'll be teaching Indian cooking to small groups of students.  Anyway, I didn't manage to get photos of all the different party dishes, but I did manage to take a few photos of the Indian-style devilled eggs, and rice pudding made with lots of nuts, raisins and grated coconut. 

There was a lot of fun and laughter, good food and drink and a merry time was had by all that were present. 

This is the rice pudding that took over an hour and a half of constant stirring and watching over.  The longer it takes to slowly reduce the amount of milk, the richer and creamier it tastes.  It got rave reviews from all my friends, so it was totally worth the trouble.  I use my own recipe for this, and it was heartening to see that it was so well received - a pat on the back for me!

Day 18 - Grocery shopping was a pain

Well, literally!  I hadn't anticipated buying too much, but as always, I ended up buying more than I could handle.  Invariably, that slowed me down leading me to miss my bus. I had to wait close to 25 mins. to get the next bus, and while waiting, I looked around me at the open skies and saw some late clouds staggering in.  I also saw and heard a few birds.  I couldn't photograph the birds, but the clouds I sure did.  Here are a few shots captured on my cell phone camera, therefore not of very good quality.  I had to post-process them a bit to increase saturation and definition.  


There was a patch of clear blue sky where I saw this tiny speck with a long white tail - an aircraft at an extremely high altitude:

I again apologize for the quality of the photos, but I had to capture these instances. 

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Day 17 - Yummy treats

I had to go to the grocery store to pick up some onions and potatoes - I came home with mango, coffee and raspberry mousse instead.  I have been trying to be good and avoiding desserts, but I do get cravings from time to time.  You have to allow a woman her guilty pleasure - and dessert is my guilty pleasure. I would much rather eat dessert as my main course.  Saying which, I do plan to make a healthy supper of grilled salmon, asparagus and a salad and then gorge myself on the mousse.  Can't wait!

A few more photos on Flickr.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Day 16 - My daily dose of OJ

Okay, so I decided to OD on the OJ this evening.  I didn't want to photograph a little glass of OJ, because it wouldn't look so nice.  Therefore, I had to get a larger glass of it.  Not bad, considering this was my first serving of fruits for the day.

As usual, I had some lighting challenges.  For today's shot, I cleared up some counter space in my kitchen and tried to test that area.  Didn't turn out that great, but I'm going to keep a few of my photos.  Maybe someone will tell me which shot worked out best.  I used a sheet of white paper to the left side of the frame  hoping that it would fill-in the shadows just a wee bit, but I don't think it made much of a difference.

A few more shots on Flickr.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Day 15 - Dessert

Well, things can't always stay bad, can they?  I had been feeling really low the past couple of days coz things just weren't going right and I was also running out of ideas of what to turn my camera on for the day.  A photographer friend came to the rescue.  Jim, if you're reading this, please accept my heartfelt thanks for sharing your thoughts and the link.  Jim not only reminded me that it's normal to go through these phases from time to time, but he also sent me a little clip to watch.  This clip is about another photographer who's on a mission for 50 days to shoot his daily life with a "nifty fifty" as they call it, and he obviously calls his project "50/50".   Here's the link for anyone else that's interested:

And there's nothing that a good workout won't cure.  I pushed myself to go to the gym and after an hour-long workout not only did I make another new friend, but I also came home feeling lighter of spirit, and happy that I didn't use my headache as an excuse for staying home.  I am ending my day on a healthy diet as well - lots of veggies for supper and clementines for dessert! Sweet and juicy, I'm polishing off the 3rd one, even as I write.  

I tried these shots, one with an overhead light, and another with only side lighting.  I kinda liked both of them because I'm still undecided on which one I like best.  I was too lazy to set up the tripod, so both shots are handheld and I found the 2nd one a little bit fuzzy.  And there's barely any post-processing, except for some sharpening on the 2nd frame.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Day 14 - Having a bad day...

... photo wise, and otherwise as well.  

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Day 13 - Unread

I'm definitely running low on photo ideas.  I had a relaxed Sunday and I have been trying to wrap my head around a good plan for my cooking lessons that I plan to start next month.  Amidst all that, I totally didn't think about photography - one of those rare occasions when it's far from my mind.  Now, to keep up with the challenge I set forth for myself, I had to resort to photographing something really mundane - the unread magazines piled up at my bedside.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Day 12 - My glass of wine

My glass of wine prior to being consumed with much pleasure.  

A few more on my Flickr photostream.

Day 11 - Blue, green and red

I am fast running out of ideas on what to shoot everyday.  So, here's something with food colours.  They make lovely patterns when dropped into water.  I had a huge challenge with the lighting for this one.  My on-camera flash kept creating a shadow-zone when I was using my pitcher, so I opened up my aperture, which still didn't allow for high shutter speeds.  I resorted back to the tumbler, so avoid dealing with curvatures.  But with a little bit of playing with the white balance, I got better results.

More photos on Flickr.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Day 10 - Another shot at droplets

More photos on Flickr.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Day 9 - Too tired

A few more on my Flickr photostream.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Day 8 - Too busy

I have absolutely no time for any photos today - have another project submission in about thirty-six hours.  So, I'm going to cheat today and use one of the photos I took on Saturday afternoon.  I was trying the C-PL outdoors, but I have to admit I haven't got the hang of it.  Somehow, the sky is showing up dull and the river is a lovely blue.  It was too windy and chilly to stay outdoors for very long, so I am going to try figuring that out again.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Day 7 - Strawberries in cream

I finally had the chance to try this out after a failed attempt a few days ago, when I had to resort to just shooting marshmallows.  I had a real job of timing the splashes in sync with my shutter, but I had a worse job of cleaning up the mess I made in my kitchen.  I should have been smart and put a towel on the ground, right underneath where the bowl of cream was, to catch the splashes.  It would have saved me a lot of backache.  :-(  Oh, well!  Most of the shots were worth it, so I won't complain.

More photos on my Flickr photostream.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Day 6 - Rainbow droplet

I'm happy with the droplets I got for this one, except my camera seems to have picked up every single speck of dust that it could see.  Nonetheless, not a bad set.

More on my Flickr photos!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Day 5 - Gone up in smoke!

I have nothing to show for today.  I was trying the smoke photography again but with a light this time, but my background ruined everything.  I definitely need to get a proper black something for a background.  I tried to do a bit of post-processing, but I have already realized that I'm not a Photoshop person.  I suck at it!

I'm very disappointed this evening!  I'll blame it on my being exhausted after more than a week of demanding work schedules.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Day 4 - African Violets

Not much to say - been really busy working all evening to think of any nice ideas (not that I have too many to start with), so I settled for my African Violets that recently flowered all over again.

More on my Flickr photostream!