Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The one that got away...

Alternately titled: A case for Manual Focus

Living in the country, we get a lot of "visitors" to our home. We have a small family of deer that drop by regularly. There are songbirds and butterflies, despite the incredible number of cats between ourselves and our neighbours. You know spring is here when you hear the spring peepers singing (frogs) and fall and spring are heralded by the ducks and geese flocking overhead. In the summer I love to fall asleep listening to the loons on the lake and there's a flock of Canada geese that nest just down the road and are one of the reasons for purchasing a lens with telephoto abilities--those goslings are adorable but their parents are crazy protective!

Then there are the occasional visitors, the ones that you don't see all that often. There is a nesting pair of bald eagles on the lake that occasionally come and rest in the trees outside our house. We've never seen them here by the lakes, but a couple of kilometres away at the farms coyote sightings are not uncommon and the farmers are often serenaded. We've seen black bear and moose a couple of times (not together of course). On one very memorable occasion we saw what we think was a bobcat. Those are the sightings that you miss if you don't have the camera on and ready, the ones that make us call up family and friends to make them play the "guess what we just saw" game.

And they rarely believe us. Skeptics, one and all.

So when I looked out the window the other day and saw something I hadn't seen at our place before, I knew I needed photographic proof of its visit. I grabbed the camera and flipped to auto so I could get a snapshot or two before it disappeared.

Big mistake.

Posted by Picasa

Oh auto mode, how you failed me. I know it's hard to focus through the screen on the fleet-footed black animal in the white snow, but come ON! Can't you do better than that?

Unfortunately it was gone before I could do anything about my settings or my lens. I've been frustrated quite a bit lately by the camera's focus points differing from MY focus points, and this was the last straw. I flipped the switch. My lenses are ALL now set on MF, and I'm having a blast.

So, two questions:

1. Do you shoot on MF or AF (and why?)

2. Any guesses as to what our visitor was?

Monday, December 29, 2008

Project 365

You've seen the challenges all over the place: A photo a day. A photo a week. A self-portrait a week. A self portrait a day (I cringe to think).
Maybe you think they're crazy.
Maybe you secretly want to join in.
Maybe you already do it.
Maybe you've tried and failed.
Maybe you're wondering what you'd DO with those photos when you're done. Do they sit on your hardrive forever? Do you post them to Flickr or some other site and let that be enough? Blog them all?

I don't have the answers.

But Becky Higgins has a new kit that I'm incredibly excited about. Aptly named Project 365, it's an album and all the "stuff" you'll need to scrapbook your own photo a day project. I've only purchased one other kit through CK because the shipping costs to Canada are MORE than the kit itself (and what is UP with that? Ticks me off), but I'm seriously tempted by THIS kit.

Check out a video of the contents HERE and then tell me what you think. Do you already do a photo a day challenge somewhere? What do you do with your photos? This kit is very simple and not a traditional scrapbook, so if you're a scrapbooker do you like it or would you rather do your own thing? If you're not a scrapbooker, does this appeal to you?

ETA: This doesn't go on sale until January 1st, but I'll be sure to add a link then.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Choosing Favourites

Posted by Picasa

Irene at Shutter Sisters has challenged us to choose a favourite photo of 2008 and this is definitely mine, for a ton of reasons.

First, I love my little boy and his Blue Teddy. I love how much HE loves his Blue Teddy. Blue Teddy used to be his constant companion, his voice, his courage, his best friend. Now that he's four though, Blue Teddy doesn't get out the way he used to. He's quieter and content to play with the other stuffies while his Boy is off exploring the world without him. Because I see Blue Teddy less, I know my Boy is growing more, and I'm so happy to have this photo that captures a bit of that to look back on in a few years when Blue Teddy is no longer a major part of our lives.

On this sunny fall day the Boy wasn't feeling so hot. He had a bit of a cold and it was no surprise that Blue Teddy would decide to come with us when we drove Hubby to work. On the way home I was struck so much by the way the sun was hitting this tree that I just had to stop and see if I could capture it. It was the last tree with any leaves on it in our village and all the more striking because of it. I dragged the Boy (and his Teddy) out and started playing. When I was done with the tree I couldn't help getting some of my Boy. I had just finished my first (I hope there will be more!) photography course and was confident for the first time picking my own settings, getting out of the presets and doing what I wanted to do. So there's a bit of pride in the technical aspects as well as the emotional aspects.

Finally, Fall is my absolute favourite season and I'm going to love just about any fall photo anyway. Just look at those colours! I love the blanket of leaves glittering in the background and the way all the colours just pop. This day was the first we had had a really heavy frost that prompted us to pull out the winter gear, so we have the anticipation of winter there as well.

What's your favourite photo of 2008? I can't wait to see!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

New Toys

Santa Mom came through with a couple of new toys for my bag. I am now the proud owner of a Remote Controller AND a gorillapod. I'm hoping both will help me get even better night and nature photos, as well as getting MYSELF into the photo more often. One of my greatest regrets in life is that there are NO photos of myself with my babies. I think that's tragic and it must stop now--and now I have the tools to make it happen.

Thanks Santa Mom!

What great gadgets did you get from your special santa?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Break

Posted by Picasa

Father Christmas is almost here, and so I'm spending more time with the family (away from the computer).

Have a wonderful holiday, filled with peace, joy and love.

See you in a few days!

Thursday, December 18, 2008


I missed yesterday's prompt altogether so didn't want to miss today's; even though life is no less hectic. These countdown days to Christmas are just jam-packed, aren't they? But one of the reasons I wanted to participate in HSMSHS is to get me thinking about my space everyday and (ideally) picking up the camera EVERY DAY.

With that said, today's photo was actually taken a couple of weeks ago. At this time of year, I am often found in the office right around sunset, and this is the view out my window by around 4:30 in the afternoon. Perfect for the prompt of "glow". You get an older photo instead of "fresh" because I won't be in my office at the right time today, more's the pity.

Posted by Picasa

No wonder dinner is so often late...who wouldn't want to linger for the chance to see this every day?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Posted by Picasa

Today's HSMSHS prompt is gold, and the photos are bee-you-tee-ful! Pop on over and have a look if you haven't already done so!

For some reason I've always preferred silver. I'm not sure why, because after real life and virtual home tours this year I've seen a lot of gold and it is beautiful! I think I'll have to let a little more gold in my home in the future.

Anyway, I do have this lovely bauble on my tree (and a matching one of an angel, come to deliver the Glad Tidings!). It has a gold base and hangs from a golden thread, and I cherish it. I have several mini-nativities on my tree as I try to surround myself with things that remind us of the true reason we celebrate at this time of year. Watching my children grow in understanding of this is golden to me.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Another Star!

Posted by Picasa

These stars hung from the lights in the master bedroom of the home I photographed before the Christmas tour. I just loved them, and they're the perfect bauble for today's HSMSHS prompt.

Give me a few hours and my OWN home tour will be up on the other blog as part of BooMama's Christmas Tour of Homes. It promises to be at least mediocre, and who doesn't like that? In the meantime, you can get started on the tour and I'll meet you when you get down to my number, ok?

It's been a crazy, crazy morning and I'm just pulling myself together. I'm not going to get half of the things done that I need to today. It's a procrastinator's life!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Trees of Glass

Posted by Picasa

This is one of my favourite winter shots. Taken February of last year with my old point and shoot (a Fuji FinePix A510). We had had a terrible freezing rain in the night, but not enough to melt away the underlying blanket of snow. Absolutely everything was covered with a sheet of ice, and once the sun came up the world sparkled and shone like something out of a fairytale.
This tree stands in our front yard and I had to wait all day for the sun to get around to it, but I was glad that I did, because it just lit up.
Thanks for looking at my winter!

Saturday, December 13, 2008


Posted by Picasa

Weekends at HSMSHS are all about YOU! Saturdays are "Someone's Portrait Saturday" (it used to be Self-Portrait Saturday, but thankfully it's been broadened a bit). Sundays are "Show Off Sunday", when you pull out a photo you're proud of and show it off.

I call Sunday eye candy day. You definitely have to visit all of the participating blogs on Sundays, because the photos are always amazing.

Anyway, it's only Saturday, so I thought I'd share this fun self-portrait. The prompt is for a winter SP, and what's more wintery than Christmas? (people reading in the Southern Hemisphere, don't answer that!) I was trying to get a shot of the heart for my glitter prompt and the camera kept wanting to pick the big silver ball. Whoops! Time to change my settings! But before I did, I thought I'd see if the camera was trying to tell me something and went ahead and snapped the photo IT wanted to take. Low and behold, it was me! Funny! I didn't even notice until I uploaded. Cameras today! So smart!

(And then I showed it who's boss and got my glitter shot. The End.)

It's Saturday! Show yourself!

Friday, December 12, 2008


Posted by Picasa

The HSMSHS prompt for today. While the last couple of days have left me thinking hard to come up with my examples, today's has the opposite problem: too many too choose from.

The star above is from my star shelf, which hangs directly below my inspiration board in my scrap space.

I just love stars. They inspire me. They make me happy.

In fact, I love stars so much, here are a couple of bonus Christmas stars that I look forward to seeing every year:

Have a happy Friday. Keep your eye on the stars!

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Today's HSMSHS prompt is bows, and my picture is a bit of a cheat, as it was actually taken last month.

When I think of bows, I think of the ones my oldest daughter has recently taken to wearing in her hair. A little tricky to see here, but it's there. They're so sweet and girlie, just like her. This photo of her meeting Santa has another favouite "bow"; the shy way she bows her head when she's the least bit nervous.

I haven't any bows under my tree yet because I haven't started wrapping, but these bows have a bigger piece of space in my heart anyway.

(ok, and when I think bows I also think canoes, but it's a little cold for that here right now)
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

All that glitters not found in this house. Today's HSMSHS prompt is glitter. As a mom of small children and a scrapbooker, you would think I would have lots and lots of glitter in my house, but this is not the case. I'm not even sure why (ok, there's the mess factor).

I had to actively hunt for glitter today. Thank goodness for Christmas ornaments!

What's glittering in your space today?
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


This may be the last I see of it for a while, as we're supposed to get freezing rain then rain tonight. That's winter in the Maritimes for you: a constant mixed bag of surprises.
Posted by Picasa

Monday, December 8, 2008


That's how many photos I have from my two days of photographing homes decorated for our community's annual Christmas Home Tour. I am both proud of and intimidated by that number. That's a whole lot more editing than I'm really feeling up for you guys!

So when I opened up HSMSHS to see the prompt for today...well...I'll admit it, I groaned. And then I laughed.

That's right, today's word is Decoration. Go figure.

I happen to think that all of the snow in my last post is the best decoration of all, but I seem to have a few others lying around. So, instead of busting out the camera again, I opened those giant files from the weekend and found a photo that makes me smile.

Honestly? Before this tour I had no idea that so much thought could go into decorating a bathroom. No idea. But I saw several gorgeous ones that would make me happy to spend lots of time there. This particular accent piece was part of a whimsically decorated kids bathroom, and it sure makes me feel like a kid again!

What decorations make you smile?
Posted by Picasa

No need to adjust your monitor

No, these aren't black and white pictures. This is just our world yesterday afternoon!

The weather was crazy.

On Friday there were all sorts of doom and gloom forecasts for snow changing to rain, changing to freezing rain and back to snow. We were basically told to get out on Saturday because we wouldn't be able to on Sunday.

Then on Saturday all the weather people changed their minds and said "never mind, nothing much is going to happen". Believe it or not, that happens around here. A lot.
On Saturday night, as I was finishing up the home tour (So. Much. Fun.), big, beautiful, fluffy flakes began drifting from the sky. I was kind of annoyed at myself for using up all my memory in the houses when I was being gifted with this beautiful snow. I guess that photo shoot will have to wait for another day. It snowed all night and Sunday morning we woke up to a small but pretty amount of snow. The roads were still fine and the weather reports good (2-5 cm total they said), so off we all trooped to church. While we were there it just kept snowing and snowing. Any idea how hard it is to pay attention to a Sunday School lesson with all of that beauty out the window? I felt like a total space cadet all day.
The drive home was scary but gorgeous. I had to keep biting my lip to keep from yelling at Hubby to stop so I could get out and take photos. I wasn't sure stopping was an option, and hitting the brakes would have been a very, very bad idea. We were disappointed that there was less and less snow the closer we got to home. Fredericton definitely got more than us. What a gyp!**
By choir time it was truly a marshmallow world. All of the Christmas lights looked so gorgeous sparkling out from under their fluffy little blankets. Silly me, I left the camera at home!
(I plead illness. The laryingitis appeared to be aggravated by my earlier attempts to sing at choir practice. It feels like I've poured crushed glass down my throat.)
It just kept snowing for most of the night. I loved every second!
This morning the colour had returned and I tried to get a few photos without leaving the house (sick, pj's, bedhead) and semi succeeded:

(Photographic Where's Waldo?...can you spot the girls waiting for their bus?)

All morning, as I coughed and hacked, I just kept staring out the window. I was breathless anyway, but the scenery would have clinched it. Finally, by lunchtime, mindful of the fact that the wind has been blowing the covering off the trees, I made it out to capture more of my world:

This is why blue is a perfect Christmas colour.

Good golly I love Canada!

**Fredericton also had major power outages and we did not, so I guess I won't begrudge them those few extra inches.


My security settings are set so that I have to moderate comments.

I had no idea.

That, and I guess I kind of thought they'd be emailed to me? Bummer.

So I'll get right on that you guys. Thanks for the patience!

They're here!

Just in case you don't routinely read Pioneer Woman, she's just released a new set of free Photoshop actions. Just head on over here to pick them up!

I'm excited for you all!

Saturday, December 6, 2008


Yesterday's HSMSHS prompt was gift, and I am feeling quite gifted right now. First off, Hubby has "too much" vacation time saved up, so he's been taking off every Friday for the last few weeks. Having him home an extra day a week is wonderful. Even if we don't do anything special, it's special just knowing he's there.

It also frees me up considerably. I've been able to take the car and run errands, do our Christmas shopping, and, yesterday, help out at the school. Yesterday I took a bunch of gingerbread men into Sweetpea's Kindergarten class. I got to read them the story of "The Gingerbread Girl" and decorate the gingerbread PEOPLE with them. So much fun. Later, helping the teacher with some prep work, we got to talking. I started thinking how fun it would be to photograph her daughters and made a tenative inquiry about their schedule. Right away she invited me that evening to photograph her mother's home, which is all decked out for the "Christmas Tour of Homes". Not only did I get to see some incredible decorations, but I got to practice my low light photography skills and visit with a bunch of really fun women. I'm still editing like mad, but here are a few of my favourite shots from last night:

I am insanely in love with these snowmen, and their kin, found throughout the house. INSANELY! Here are a couple of their friends:

Insanely in love I tell you! I wish those cuties would come and live at my house!

Another thing I'm in love with is the children's room upstairs. Just look at this yummy tree, all decked out in beautiful CANDY! How awesome is that? Along with the candy, there's the train running around the tree, a plate and mug with treats for Santa, advent calanders, a lovely nativity scene, letters to Santa (Kindergarten teachers have access to such things), and some of the most beautiful children's Christmas books I've ever seen.

There has been no detail overlooked in the entire house. EVERY room has been decorated beautifully. I'll admit I thought that only a couple of rooms would be open to the public, but everything has been made gorgeous and seasonal. I had to keep reminding myself that it took a team of people a few weeks to get it to this point.

I am so thankful that I got to see it, that I was invited in before the official tour to get some beautiful photos.

AND...I've been invited along on the actual tour tonight. More homes, more decorations, and another chance at the photos I missed the first time. Better than that, more laughter, more friendship, more Christmas spirit and holiday fun.

My life is full of gifts.

Posted by Picasa

Friday, December 5, 2008


The HSMSHS prompt for Thursday was light. I wanted to wait until late to get a good shot of light at night. I've been playing with light painting a little bit lately and Laura at Dolce Pics inspired me to try doing some light painting with my tree.

Canon Rebel XTi, EF 50mm 1.8 II, TV setting, 2.0 seconds, f/18.2, ISO 400.
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, December 4, 2008


We have here a not-so-great shot of my boy reading for our Wednesday HSMSHS prompt of tradition. Hubby and I are both readers, so books are always a treasured gift for any occasion. It was completely without thought that we started collecting Christmas books for the kids--we just love books! Once we realized we had a collection though, we had to decide how to enjoy it the most.

That seagrass basket is part of our living room year round and holds sturdy board books that I occasionally switch out with other books from the shelves. At Christmas time we change all of the books for our Christmas and winter ones (we have a lot of books about snow men for some reason!). The kids' faces just light up when the switch is made. In fact, I made the switch on Monday just before we put up our tree and I had a hard time getting any helpers--they were too busy reading. At least once a day you'll find them reading, often together, and it carries on into January when I switch the books back. Everything old is new again!

It makes my crazy bibliophile heart happy to see my babies enjoying this Christmas tradition, and I pray that reading throughout their lives is a tradition they carry in their own hearts.
Posted by Picasa


Tuesday HSMSHS prompt was "angel". I'll admit that my first thought was to photograph one of the kids, but a) the girls were in school and b) they don't ALWAYS qualify as angels, do they?

Our tree is up though, and is just covered in various depictions of angels. The hardest part is choosing a favourite!

My mother started collecting these "Kneaded Angels" through Avon for my daughter when she was born, and I just love them. Each one is unique and the details are incredible. These two sit on the piano top at Christmas time and, while appropriate year round, live in their boxes with the other angels the rest of the year for now. We'll keep that to keep them safe and special for our Princess until she's ready to take them with her to her own home.
Posted by Picasa


The HSMSHS prompt for Monday (Dec. 1st) was advent. We have those chocolate advent calenders, but we also have this sweet little tree that my mom gave to me my first year away at University. It only stands about a foot high, and the little drawers in the base hold the ornaments. You get to put on one ornament a day and your tree is decorated by Christmas. This was a huge hit for me in school and continues to be a favourite decoration amongst my 3 kidlets.

I realized when I did this prompt that I've never taken a photo of this sweet part of our Christmas. How sad it would be to forget it!

Where's advent in your space? Is there a cherished decoration you'll be putting up this year that you've never photographed?

*For anyone looking closely enough to see the dust, you now have a peek at country life. I dusted before I put this out on Monday, and the photo was taken this morning (Wednesday). Who can keep up?


The soundtrack for Sunday night's sleep was punctuated by little pings and taps of varying intensity. Freezing rain was striking the Maritimes once again.

In the morning schools were closed and the outdoors looked like a magical crystal world. I had to wait for the rain to stop but got a couple of photos with my new Canon EF 50 mm f/1.8 II in the afternoon.