About Toni

I'm a stay-at-home mom who believes staying at home is a privilege, and should be treated as such. OCD makes for a nice home, that is my mantra. Just your typical 30-something neurotic with a feather duster.

Frank Sinatra was a Guru

I skipped yesterday’s lesson (this feels very reminiscent of my high school days).  It was on depth of field.  I feel like I understand DOF pretty well. I’m for sure no pro, but I got the basics down.

Today’s lesson (Day Eight for those of you playing along at home), was about the “Exposure Triangle”. AKA- ISO, shutter speed, and aperture all coming together to make a perfect picture.  I am not allowed to use the Automatic function. I  supposedly have the knowledge, so now I no longer have an excuse to be lazy.

Psshhhaw… like I ever needed an excuse for that.

I waited until late this afternoon for this lesson. The front window in my living room faces West. The sun pours in through it, creating areas of shade and sunlight all around the room. I knew that would be my best shot at putting the lessons to work.  The lighting combo is like NY- If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.  Of course, if old Blue Eyes had failed, he only had to cross the river to go back to Hoboken. Arkansas is a much further trip.

For reference, this is how the lighting looks naturally with no adjusting on my camera:

Isn’t Oliver a sweetie pie? Sweet as he may be, those alternating bands of sunlight and shadow were not. Getting that all balanced was more of a challenge than I would have imagined. And before I could balance it out, this happened:

Teddy and Paco decided Oliver was looking a little too comfy, and they had to fix that right away.

After torturing Oliver for a minute, Paco ran off to destroy a fly that made the wrong choice of coming into our house. He was standing in front of our living room window. This is how the lighting looked before I adjusted my camera:

The lighting was behind Paco, causing his face to go into shadow. It took me several attempts to adjust my camera, but I finally worked it out.

I feel… mehh. It’s ok. At least it’s not terribly overexposed or underexposed. I tried a different angle, and got this:

It’s kinda a six-in-one-hand thing. Neither picture is terrible, but they are far from great. I guess I could have tried to take pictures in better lighting, but I wanted to push myself to make up for playing hookie yesterday.

Maybe tomorrow will be better?

PS- Paco is still chasing the fly. Only he has worn himself down and has found an easier way to do things. :

I’m thinking he gets his lazy gene from his mama.


I Don’t Speak French

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend! Even though I was feeling a bit under the weather with a chest cold (or maybe it’s just allergies? Either way, I coughed a LOT), we still managed to escape to the mountains for a day trip.

We went to Morrillton, AR and spent Saturday on Petite Jean Mountain (pronounced “Petty Gene”. My mom laughed at me the first time I called it “Pah-teet John”. Apparently, the Arkansans don’t like French much.) It is my absolute FAVORITE day trip around here.  There is so much to see there, and I always leave wishing we could have done more.

Unfortunately, with me having a chest cold going on, we didn’t get to hike near as much as I would have preferred. But, I did manage to get in lots of pictures for my sixth day of lessons. The lesson was on aperture again. I think I really nailed it:

Just for fun, we took a few pictures that were the same as a few we took two years ago. I couldn’t believe A) how a few days of lessons can make such a huge improvement in my technique, and B) how much my family has changed in two years. My little monkey is growing up so fast. 😦

Let’s compare, shall we?

My family- 2009.

Us- 2011. (Does anybody know of any way to make time slow down???)

I should probably put down the camera, and save Tommy. -2009

Poor, Tommy. I still have to choose between him and the picture. -2011

After seeing the newest pictures, I was shocked. Firstly, because I actually like my hair shorter. (Whoda thunk it?) Secondly, because I have gotten much better at understanding the functions of the camera. I am really happy with how all my pictures came out.

I gave James my old point and shoot camera to keep him occupied on the trip. He took some super cute pictures, but this one was my favorite

I think he really captured his parent’s knack for wearing shirts that were in style twenty years ago. We are the epitome of fashionistas, right?

What does everybody think? Am I doing all right? Getting better? Getting worse? Should I grow my hair back out? Keep it short? Get a new wardrobe?


Hands… Touching Hands

(Is Neil Diamond in your head now? Consider that my gift to you. You are welcome.)   🙂

Day 4 of 31. Today’s Lesson: Adjusting your ISO.

I will admit, ISO is something I never understood. However, this lesson finally made it make sense.

During homeschool time, I was looking down at James’ hand, and noticed how wonderful his hands are. They are FULL of teeny-tiny lines. A fortune teller would have a field day with him.

This picture was taken at 40mm, 1/160, f/14. ISO 1600.This picture was taken at 45mm, 1/1000, f/4.5. ISO 1600.This picture was taken 45mm, 1/1000, f 4.5. ISO 1600.

I think the top picture, with it’s slower shutter speed is my favorite. It’s less washed out, and you can see the detail better. I kept the ISO the same (once I found one that didn’t completely wash out my picture/make it too dark), and played with the shutter speed until I found ones that worked. What’s interesting is how different the speeds were, and how (IMO) the pictures aren’t that different.

Lesson learned today? I have no idea. I need to play around more. I get what the lesson is, I just haven’t figured out how to apply it, yet.

Back to the drawing boards  classroom for me. I’m thinking, even though I vaguely understand, I’m only one step away from a dunce cap at this point.

Anyone want to offer up suggestions for what I’m doing wrong? Opinions on my work? Dunce cap to spare?

eta: After I typed this up, I studied about ISO some more. We had an afternoon storm, and then a spectacular sunset. The light outside was the most beautiful  shade of soft pink. It was almost magical. I couldn’t resist trying my hand at a few new pics. I am happy to say, I think I almost “get” it. Look at the difference in the earlier pictures and these.

All of these were shot in 55mm, 1/15, f/6.3, ISO 1600.

Another Blog??

The first question you might ask is, “Really, Toni? Another blog?? Haven’t you been down this road before?”

Yes, it’s true, this isn’t my first rodeo. I’ve been blogging since 2005. I had a small blog during my first surrogate pregnancy. After the pregnancy was over, I discovered Myspace in 2006, and had a daily blog for over three years. Then, I moved to WordPress in 2009, where I had a blog until late 2010.

Somewhere along the way, in late 2010, I lost my steam. Life, ya know? It can be overwhelmingly crazy at times. I just lost my drive. For the last year, I haven’t given much thought to blogging, and really only missed it on occasion. Here recently though, I have had an itch that needed scratching.

I have been feeling like I need something to do that is just mine. Something that I love to do, that gives me a creative outlet. Then, a few nights ago, serendipity came calling.

On my Facebook feed, I saw a link called “31 Days to a Better Photo Series”. I started reading the blog, and was hooked. I remembered something about myself that I had forgotten- I’m not finished yet. There is more for me to learn and share.

So- here we are. Ahem.

I plan on sharing my 31 days of learning to take better pictures. After that, I plan on continuing my lessons. And this blog will document all of that. Mostly, it will just be photographs, though sometimes a picture needs a story to go along with it, and when that happens I’ll be Mother Goose.

Now that all the introductory stuff is out of the way let’s move forward. Day two of my 31 days was last night. I was instructed to read my camera’s manual. I did while watching James’ football practice. As I read, I snapped pictures, trying out functions on my camera as I went.

This picture was my favorite of the 260 (!!!) pictures I took yesterday.  I love how the boys look so happy. I used my 200mm lens, the exposure was 1/320, and the f-stop was f/6.3.  Certainly not the best picture I ever took, but this just makes me smile.

Man, I wish I were eight again, sometimes.

Phew! First post is in the history books!  I hope you dig my new place. Feel free to tell me what you think and I hope you come back from time to time to check out what I’ve been up to. Thanks for stopping by!