Sea Blue Lens


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Learning How I Learn

DSC_0001

My next lesson in Find Your Eye: Journey of Fascination is about how to learn a new technique. Kat has asked us to think about new photographic techniques we’ve been wanting to try, and to consider how we learn best.  Then we’re to choose the new technique we’re most interested in learning right now, and apply our best learning methods to it.

I have a long list of techniques I’m interested in learning, some written down in actual notes and some just mental notes. Some, like HDR,  are brand new to me, and others, like controlling depth of field, I’m familiar with but not as skilled or comfortable as I’d like to be.

When I’m learning something I’m interested in, I’m usually intense and focused. I like classroom learning, especially if it involves hands-on practice and the opportunity to ask questions and get feedback. But I tend to become impatient with off-topic discussions, or having to wait for everyone to catch up. I love the Internet for the wealth of information about any topic you can think of, and that it’s available whenever I want it.

I’ve learned many new photographic techniques through online classes and from fellow bloggers. When I’m interested in a specific topic, I start with an online search, read articles and watch videos, go back to my camera reference books for further details, and try the technique myself. I’ve recently found videos to be very helpful for me, because I can pause them to try each step with my own camera or software. I also take detailed notes, because writing it down not only helps it sink in, but gives me something to refer back to later if needed.

The specific technique I chose to work on for this lesson is hyperfocal distance focusing. It’s a technique useful for taking photos that are in clear focus from foreground all the way to the horizon. It can be complicated! (There’s a more detailed explanation here.)  It can also be controversial.

I used to be able to use the hyperfocal technique pretty successfully when I shot film. It’s been a problem ever since I got my dSLR, because my digital lenses don’t have the helpful focus zone markings that my old lenses did. The result was images like these:

DSC_0113Foreground sharp; distance fuzzy

DSC_0114Distance sharp; foreground fuzzy

After doing some online research, studying some hyperfocal distance charts, reading my aftermarket camera guide, and playing with my camera controls, I headed out to take some photos. The image at the top of this post and the one below were taken using the information I gathered.

DSC_0004Foreground fence sharp; mid-range shrubbery sharp; distant mountains sharp(ish)

I’m not completely satisfied yet, but I think I have a grasp of the principles and I’ll keep working on it. It feels good to be making progress toward mastery of (or at least competence with) a useful technique that should help improve my landscape photos.


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Photo-Heart Connection: July

In Her Dreams

A few days ago, I noticed this little garden fairy in a tree in my sister’s special memorial garden. I loved the light she was sitting in, and the way the branches framed the mountains and valley behind her.

When I was a little girl, I spent a lot of time sitting in trees. It was a good place to be alone, above it all, to think and dream and make wishes. This little figure reminded me of my old love for tree-sitting solitude, but she also speaks to me about myself and my life right now.

No, I don’t climb trees anymore. But she looks a lot like I feel: relaxed, at peace, comfortable. Gazing out at the distant mountains. Listening to the quiet. Her hands are filled with ripe fruit, almost more than she can hold, like the bounty I’ve been harvesting at the farmers’ market each week.

In time, she will spread those wings and fly, exploring and experiencing more of this place where she finds herself. But for now, she’s content to just sit and take it all in. Thinking. Dreaming. Making wishes. And making them come true.

I’m linking with Kat Eye Studio’s Photo-Heart Connection for July. Each month, we choose one of our own images and write about how and why it speaks to our heart.


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Sunday Scavenger

Another Sunday! Ashley Sisk, who usually hosts Scavenger Hunt Sunday, surprised us all (and perhaps herself most of all?) by delivering her new baby daughter earlier than expected, so today’s Hunt is being hosted by Sarah Halstead. Thanks, Sarah, and congratulations to Ashley!

This week’s targets were Sunset, Sweet, Hanging Around, Funny Face, and Space. Let’s go hunting!

Sunset:

Backlit Buckwheat

The sky has been clear day after day for the past month. That means sunsets are pretty subtle. As the sun descends toward the hills to the west, our valley sinks into shadow while the mountains around us are still touched by light. I love the way the low-slanting sunlight outlines the native vegetation on the slope behind the house.

Sweet:

Exotic Bloom

This is what happens when you can’t eat all the artichokes you grow. The fuzzy “choke” part, which is normally discarded when the artichoke bud is cooked and eaten, develops into this beautiful periwinkle blue blossom. I’ve seen the flowers before, but was surprised to discover that they have a faint, honey-sweet scent.

Hanging Around:

Evening Visitor

Small groups of Lesser Goldfinches visit our thistle feeders regularly, but this was the first time I’d seen them hanging out in this garden area. They appeared to be picking insects and small leaves from the plants.

Funny Face:

Two-Faced

The “funny face” in this photo is not the obvious yellow one. Look carefully…you may need to enlarge the picture to see it.

Space:

Layers

I love the sense of space and distance conveyed by the natural textures and layers of this view from the front of the house. And this photo is another sunset view, bringing me full circle back to the beginning.

Here’s the link again to this week’s Scavenger Hunt Sunday over at Sarah’s place. I wish you all a wonderful week!


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On Our Walk

My daughter and I are in the middle of a week-long vacation. Last night it rained. This morning the wet earth and trees smelled like I imagine Heaven will. The mountains were wrapped in tendrils of fog and clouds.

By late morning, the overcast grey skies had transformed into deep blue scattered with shining white drifts of cloud. We set out for a walk.

We passed through this gate…

and came upon a pond.

As we walked around it, these are some of the things we found:

Some interesting trees to identify later

A beaver lodge (missing from the picture: the great blue heron that flew away as we approached)

Black-Eyed Susans everywhere

The tiniest frog EVER

A beautiful feather, downy and soft

My favorite view of the pond

The circle complete, we went back to our temporary home away from home for lunch and a well-earned nap.