Through the Lens Thursday {February}

Last month I told you about my friends Greta and Alison and their year-long photography project called Through The Lens Thursday. You don’t need a blog to join in, just join our Flickr group and post each week! It’s great for practicing photography in a low pressure, fun way.

This past month I tried to think about composition when I shot, but also I tried to get a better feel for making things sharp or more blurred.

Here is what I got…

prompt: flower 50mm fixed f/4.5, ISO 800, 1/160

prompt: flower
50mm fixed
f/4.5, ISO 800, 1/160

Prompt: Dull 50mm fixed 1/20, f/4.5, ISO 100

Prompt: Dull
50mm fixed
1/20, f/4.5, ISO 100

prompt: Window 50 mm fixed 1/50, f/4.5, ISO 100

prompt: Window
50 mm fixed
1/50, f/4.5, ISO 100

Prompt: Hands 50mm fixed 1/160, f/4.5, ISO 400

Prompt: Hands
50mm fixed
1/160, f/4.5, ISO 400

I am not sure what is more fun each week: thinking about what I could possibly use for each shot–I don’t want to be the same as everyone else–or learning how my camera works and how to get the shot that is my mind to actually work.

My biggest challenge is seeing in my head exactly what would make a cool shot and then getting my camera to do that. For example sometimes I think it would be cool to have something in super sharp focus, and the rest all blurry, but if that thing I want to be super duper sharp is also super duper small, I can’t get my camera to even take the shot. I get to close and it won’t focus on what I want it to. Sometimes I can’t even get the button to push because my camera is all “dude. that won’t work.”

Then I swear.

But not in front of my kids. Honest.

Anyway, next week’s prompt is “hot”–show of hands of how many of you I will make gag by taking a picture of Cortney.

I guess you’ll just have to wait and see what I do!

If you want a look back, here is what I took last month:

Januray #ThroughTheLensThursday

m is apparently for “myself”

This week for my DSLR class, we met on location at the local tulip farm.

(Yes, we have a local tulip farmFor a very good reason.)

We didn’t have a lesson per se this week, but we could ask the three professionals that were there anything we wanted as we trekked about shooting things.

This was my chance to practice putting my camera in M and playing with the settings. I figured if there was something I wanted to do, but couldn’t figure out how, I could ask!  Yay!  As a teacher I know hands on practice is the best teacher.

Only, that is not how it worked for me.

With little direction, we were told to just start taking pictures.

Ok, this did not bother me, but I was sort of hoping for a little challenge or assignment.  Like, try to take this picture or have this effect.  So I looked around and gave myself assignments.

I think I did ok (you can see my pics and the assignments I gave myself below), but when the teacher approached me to ask how things were going I said, “Ok, I think.  I mean…I don’t know if what I am doing is “good” but I like it.”

Then she looked at my settings and said, “oh no.  You NEVER want your ISO that high.  That is…just…no.”

While I know she is the “professional” and has her own business and everything, I liked the picture I took.

So I just said, “ok.  I’ll try something else.” and walked away before she could get her meat hooks on my camera and change my settings for me (which is what she looked like she wanted to do).

I was going to ask her how to capture a water wheel thingy and get the individual drops, but I suspected that my 50mm lens would be better for it (they told me to come with my kit lens so I could zoom.  Against my gut, I did it.  And was sorry I did it since I couldn’t get my F-stop as low as I wanted for some shots I was trying), but didn’t want to ask after that encounter.

Now I know what some of my students probably feel like when they tell me they get something and wander off.


Anyway, I really have no rhyme or reason to what I tried other than I picked a subject with an effect in mind and messed with my settings until I either got it or got frustrated and moved on to something else.

Here are some of my favorites from the evening…


I wanted the front fuzzy and the background in focus


tried to get a front tulip in focus while fuzzing the rest


wanted to show this lone white one as standing out amongst the orange


tried to get the front tulips to "frame" the people in the background


wanted all clear to show the windmill coming "out of" the tulips


another one working on front being clear while background a slight fuzz


wanted the barb in focus with all fuzz. thought it was harsh amongst the beauty


So what do you think?  Am I learning anything…(by the way, the top one was shot with super high ISO…apparently it is “wrong”) despite the fact that I am sort of doing it myself?

Next week we learn about lighting for shooting indoors and/or in a studio and about shoot and processing night photos.

Also? I joined Clickin’ Moms because I am desperate for new stuff to try so that I am not just all by MYSELF. I have already found a bunch of tutorials I want to use and try stuff.

Now…to find the time.


Check out me and some other awesome bloggers at where we dish on what we REALLY want for Mother’s Day.

p is sarcastically for perfect

This week I started a class about using my DSLR.

I’ve had my Canon Rebel XS for about two years now, and other than some helpful tips from a lovely professional (and amazing friend, I might add), I haven’t done a whole lot to learn the darn thing.

In fact, I tend to put it on the P setting and go for it.

P is comfortable.  It’s not automatic and it’s not one of the “picture” settings (what is that?  A running man?  Are those dunes? And why is the hair NOT attached to that profile of a woman?), but it’s not so manual that I have to choose anything either.

I just know the flash won’t pop up and that is all I want.  No yucky flash.

One of my instructors from class calls it the “perfect” setting.  P is for Perfect.

Only it’s not really perfect.  I mean, the camera thinks it’s being all perfect because it’s following the rules of the lighting you are shooting in, but in reality, the camera does not know WHAT you are trying to shoot in that lighting.  It can GUESS.  But then you get pictures like this when it guess wrong:

um, camera? the baby. I want the BABY in focus.

Anyway, the class seems like it’s going to be good since I already learning things.

Like find your owner’s manual and have it in your camera bag.

Oh. Um. About that.

Yeah, I don’t know where mine is.

Moving on…

We talked a lot about shutter speed and aperture in this class because we were discussing exposure.

Shutter speed is how fast your shutter closes and opens (duh), and aperture is the tiny little opening inside your lens that lets light in.

Shutter speed is measured in fractions of a second.  So 1/30 a thirtieth of a second.

Today I played with my shutter speed.  All pics are of the same adorable subject.

taken with a pretty darn slow shutter speed...of like 1/8

and now…

taken with a super high shutter speed of like 1/2000

and finally…

taken with a shutter speed of 1/30

So since a shutter speed of 1/30 looked pretty good on my snuggly, not moving subject, I decided to play with the aperture.  No flash is used and this is all natural light coming in from the front window.

(Aperture is the number with the F in front of it, by the way.  Some call it the F-stop.  Although my teacher never called it that, which I thought was weird since that is what I have been taught it’s called…but maybe I am weird since I am a beginner and what do I really know, right?)

Aperture set as high as it would go at 22. not enough light let in.

hmmm…ok…the other side of the extreme…

Set as low as it would go...a 1.8. too much light.

now playing around to find something I like…

here we are around a 4 or 5. still a little to bright, but better.

If you don’t want to mess with one or the other, you can set your camera to either A (or AV) and you just have to choose the Aperture (f-stop) and your camera will do the shutter speed for you.

Or you can set your camera to S (or TV) and you pick the shutter speed and your camera will pick the aperture.

Then there was a bunch of stuff about setting the meter to “happy”, but that is hard to explain.  Basically it’s that little thing you see when you look through your lens.  It’s at the bottom and it goes from like -2 to 2.  “happy” is in the middle.

And really, if you put it on one of those semi-automatic settings, it will do that for you.  I think if you are trying to take a picture you like, it shouldn’t matter if the meter is “happy” or not. It matters if YOU are happy with the photo.

A “happy” meter just means the camera thinks you’re doing it right.

But what does the camera know?  It had a “happy” meter when I took this:

this? is not "happy". it's fuzzy. but the lighting is nice, so maybe that is why the camera was happy.

Anyway, I guess we are going to talk about ISO next week.  But between you and me and that cup of coffee over there?  I’ve been playing with my ISO for a while.

In fact, it’s the reason I wanted a 50mm lens (which one of the teachers totally called me out on and THEN was snarky about since I am just a “beginner”.  Whatever dude, I have a nice lens.  Just teach me to use it and keep the comments to yo’self.).

ISO is that thing that can make the camera focus on one thing while making the rest fuzzy.

I love to play with my ISO.


power to the ISO skillz, mom.

So yeah next week we are meeting at the tulip gardens for some “on site shooting.”  Heh heh.

You know I’ll be filling you in.

Project 356 {Week 15}

So I read this post this week by Casey about using your DSLR.

You can tell around when I read it because my pics get, um, creative.

For full disclosure, I will say that I have a Canon Rebel XS  that I got 2 years ago for my birthday.

Usually I shoot in P and don’t mess with adjusting anything.

Because I have the scared.

Lately I have been shooting in AV and messing with the Fstop.

After reading Casey’s post, I busted out my 50mm lens and started playing with the ISO too.

Don’t judge…I still don’t know what I am doing.

Oh, and I don’t edit anything.  Because I don’t have any software and I don’t know how.

So these are straight off the card, yo.

*photos taken with my DSLR

April 8: Easter Sunday

April 9: My cousin's son, Thatcher, and Charlie. Born less than 2 weeks apart.

*April 10: Snow.

*April 11: tummy time is hard, yo.

*April 12: My morning view

*April 13: Busytown Mysteries before bed.

*April 14: Goodnight, Moon.

Monday I am hoping to sign up for a four-evening class on using my DSLR.

It only took me two years to look into doing.

And a kick in the pants by a couple blog posts this week by Casey and Kacia.