Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A Breakthrough!

On Sunday, the last day of my Christmas vacation, I decided to take a break in a lazy day and take a winter's walk.

And I took my camera.

Why would this be unusual?

You see, at the Painted Creek, or at my mom's stable, or at work, or at gatherings of family and friends, I love to take photos. I'm like the paparazzi. Put me in public, where someone I don't know might see me taking a picture- and I get overly self-conscious.

{click on pictures to enlarge details}

Does this happen to any of you?

I don't know what I am worried about. After all, I see other people out with cameras around their neck all of the time. Nobody stares at them oddly, not even me. If anything, before I got my Nikon, I would just stare at their camera with envy.

Maybe I'm afraid someone will catch me taking pictures of the red berry plant on their sidewalk. Stop it right there, little missy! Those are my red berries! I have pruned the plant and watered it myself for the whole of their existence! Halt your photography- or I am calling the authorities!

Okay. Really, I made it the whole walk and nobody said a word about me taking pictures of their shrubbery. But every time a car drove by, I'd stop and pretend I was looking at my monitor. Yep. I might have a problem.

An exciting goal I set for myself in 2010 is get better acquainted with my camera's manual functions. On this walk, I set my camera to "A". Not as in "automatic." A as in "aperture priority."

A year ago, if someone said the words "aperture priority" to me, I would have asked, what language is that?

Chuckle chuckle. No, really. I'm not an expert so I will quote my manual "large apertures (low f-numbers- I know, it's confusing) soften background details." Well the manual didn't really say it's confusing, I added that. But it should! For the longest time, I had to keep it written on an index card in my camera bag so that I can remember that a smaller number is a larger aperture.

So, you can see that my assignment was to zoom in on a detail, then, get that background to fade out, or, depending on the lighting, some bokeh.
I like to describe bokeh as those round blobs of light behind whatever you are shooting. Oh, I just love being technical. Round blobs of light. There is a lot more to it than that, but you can learn more on a photography site than you can here!

One small issue I have with my 55-200mm lens is that it does not have vibration reduction and I have a hard time holding still while taking zoomed in pictures. I mean, I try, try, try to hold still, but my body moves. I even try holding my breath! It still seems like I have a hard time getting a really good focused shot.

Along this stroll, I found many samples of winter's bareness along the streets. Pitch-encrusted pine cones, red berries, leafless trees, moss on rocks (a dime-a-dozen 'round here)....

stark branches....

Christmas trees stripped of their festive splendor and chucked to the curb......

That always makes me kind of sad. The holidays are really over.

I felt very proud of myself after my walk. I did it! I took pictures in public and it was.....

not scary.

To reward myself and warm up a bit, I fixed a bowl of split pea with ham and bacon soup. From a can. Campbell's, to be exact. I love it garnished with a huge pile of Saltine crackers and a little pepper. I ate this a lot as a kid, and recently picked up the habit again. Mmmm, mmmm good!

If anyone knows where I can find a good homemade split pea with ham and bacon recipe, let me know!
I just might have the courage to try it.

I can't wait to go out and take more pictures in public! Do you think people will mind if I zoom in on their faces?

Nah. Better not press my luck.

I am going to continue to challenge myself in the realm of photography. I am not ready for full Manual setting just yet....maybe that can be my 2011 goal. Small steps, that is my mantra.

p.s. I have an announcement coming up in the next week or two that has to do with my love of photography. Stay tuned!!


  1. GREAT PICTURES! Love the one with the pinecone.

  2. Pony Girl, GREAT pictures!!! Shall I send you some snow? It is still snowing here!!!
    I just got in from the barn, took my little Canon ELPH to take more pictures of the snow. The boys again are covered with snow and icicles hanging on their sides. They seem not to mind at all; I briefly thought of hopping on Gilly's back for a ride. But since he was wet, I can't hop up on that tall boy and it's too cold....I came back into the house for a hot cup of coco!!!
    I really enjoy your pictures, keep up the good work! :-)
    Jane and Gilly

  3. You're totally not alone, PG. I get self conscience too. Sometimes I feel like if I take pictures of crowds or other people or things, that people will yell at me or judge me or something stupid like that. But I would never yell at anybody for taking my photo. Or photos of my things. Lol!

  4. Awesome pics! Can't wait to hear about your photography announcement! I've tried using the aperture priority setting on my camera, but often find myself just switching to macro on my auto setting since I have a problem with the shake too! It's HARD!! I find myself using lots of things for tripods. ;) Fence posts, cars, etc. 'Course you can't really do that too well while on a walk. Thanks for the inspiration...maybe I'll make a 2010 goal to experiment more with my camera's guts too. :)

    P.S. LOVE split pea soup! Hate cooked peas though! I'm WEIRD!

  5. These pictures are truly amazing, Pony Girl, and it is because of their overt simplicity. I didn't even realize what it was that I liked so much about them, until you mentioned the fading trick. Love it!!! :)
    Oh, and yes, I get self conscious out in public taking pictures of other people's things...

  6. I hear ya. I get all funny in public places too. But once I finally pick up that camera, and get behind it, its like I get in the zone, and everyone else fades away. I become totally focused on taking the picture. In fact, I hardly see anything unless its through the lens. But it is hard to get myself there. Love the images! You completely captured the starkness and quietness of the middle of winter.

  7. Great photos, I need to learn more about the manual features on my camera also.

  8. Hey Pony Girl! I love your photos, the one where the needles are stripped from the pine tree is gorgeous! Also that Split Pea with Ham and Bacon soup looks yummers!

    Also, I received your gift! I am making a post for it so make sure to look for it :)


  9. Beautiful pics - I especially like the 6th one down with the tree - looks like you got some bokeh (such a funny word!) there!

    Keep working with that camera - you'll get the settings straight. I have a nice Nikon at work that I should use more, but have a heck of a time remembering what the settings do. The index card is a great idea!

  10. Wow, Pony Girl. I am shocked that you get these kinds of shots without using the Full Manual setting. You should really consider making this at least a part time profession, if you don't already. You have such a natural talent for photography! I am amazed.

  11. Have you tried the shooter's technique for the shake? It's what they teach for sharpshooters. Breathe in slowly, breathe out slowly and squeeze the trigger. Don't try to hold your breath. It makes it worse. Practice being really smooth without the camera or with the camera but not taking a real picture. You have to build some muscle memory for the action.

    Love the pictures. The only camera I have is the one in my phone. It takes adequate pictures. I get envious of all the good photographers on the horse blogs I read.

    Try the blogspot mennonite girls can cook for a soup recipie.

  12. YOU are so talented!
    i love your shots
    what wide angle lens to you use?


  13. lol you know I can be the same way. I hate when people ask me what I am taking pictures of. I am usually like "oh nothing" and skitter away until they are gone. It's like someone reading over your shoulder.

  14. Incredible photos. I can't even pick a fav!
    Somehow I have a feeling we will start seeing the faces of strangers on here soon... good luck :)

  15. Wow, I am a big fan of your pictures and blog. The photographs are so authentic and so is your writing.
    I know the feeling you are describing, my biggest "problem" is taking portraits of people. I am always a little bit afraid that people could say something, and I keep thinking what I would think or say if some stranger with a camera would zoom in on my face... That's why I focus mainly on animals or nature themes.
    But when I find a person who loves to pose for me I just love to take portraits.
    I love to use the "P" and "A" function on my Canon, I hardly ever use automatic mode anymore. It's really rewarding when you get the hang of it.
    But your images are fantastic already!

  16. Beautiful photos! I am like that too, feel kinda queer walking around with my big camera around my neck, but I have never know why. I am glad to know that you had that same feeling and I vow to get over it and act like I am proud to have that camera strung around my neck for once and for all!
    Thank you for telling me we are not dorks! LOL

  17. I have a really light weight tripod, and a shooting stick that is even lighter that the rubber Y comes off of the top and you can screw it onto your camera, that would help you hold still. LOL but it wont help you hide LOL

  18. Your pictures are always so cool. I love making them bigger so I can peer at each little detail. I come from a family of serious photographers so if I saw you taking pictures on the street, I would think nothing of it. I might look right at you and not even NOTICE that you were using a camera! Photography seems very technical to me!
    What if I dared you to snap a photo of a stranger!? Would you do it? I dare you! There! I did it! I will keep checking your blog to see this stranger's picture!! No cheating!

  19. Beautiful pictures again! You really have the eye! On the back of a bag of split peas is a pretty good, and easy receipe of soup. I also have a really good one out of myvegetarian cookbook that is wonderful. No meat in it, but it is yummy!

  20. Hee! Hee! Stare at their camera with envy? Honey you do have it bad...I feel a change in career coming on....But I have no doubt you'd do well!
    These are "jaw dropping gorgeous!" I need you to shoot my cakes!

  21. Lovely pictures! A trick to making your body still is one they use when firing firearms... dont hold your breath (this makes you tense) but take a deep breath and exhale slowly, snap the photo towards the end of your exhale.

    Chelsi... waiting to exhale *wink*

  22. Lovely pictures!
    I bet you are taking on a side job that has to do with photography! I can't believe you haven't told me yet! What's up with that?!

  23. You have an artist's eye. I love looking at your pictures. You've inspired me to start doing more than snapshots with the lovely camera my DH got for me the Christmas before this last one. Have any good photography websites you want to share?

  24. I love our pictures, they always make me smile, and I feel the same way about my camera, but thats one thing I really like about a digital is that I can take a million pictures fidling around with setting and just keep the good ones.
    Keep it up, you are really good!

  25. Even better than a tripod is Goby's Gorillapod. Its like a tripod but with flexible legs.
    Do you shoot in RAW or jpeg?

    As for shooting people in public... here's a suggestion from a photography mag I recently read: go to festivals/events where photographers are expected, or volunteer to be the photographer at one!

    Oh, not sure if you remember but awhile ago I asked your opinion on cameras. Well I finally decided on the Nikon D60. My mom & sis both have it so I was somewhat familiar with the basics on it. Go figure, could no longer get it. Then, the day I got my bonus cheque from work, I was strolling through the mall getting some last minute stocking stuffers and saw it. A photography store with a "SALE" sign, and the Nikon D90 was the same amount as my bonus!!! I called it a sign and got it. Now to learn to use it! lol

  26. {Cdncowgirl}~ Congrats on the D90! I've heard that model is really nice, I think you will enjoy it! What lenses did you get?

    {Wilsonc}~ I don't have a lot of great photography sites I read. Most of what I know I've picked up from other bloggers who like photography, like the DVM's Wife's Life or the Pioneer Woman. And Ken Rockwell, who has some good basic Nikon information (I set my Programmed Auto to his recommendations.) I do need to find some other good sites, so if anyone out there knows of any that would be good for hobbyists/rookies, please recommend!

  27. I plan to start playing with my camera more too, taking it off automatic. You always inspire me with your pictures!

  28. Ya...I have a hard time when I am riding cause Jesse moves too much too!!! LOL All these photos are great!

  29. Good for you!! I totally understand what your saying!! I had to do a photo shoot of a Church Christmas Party and it made me very nervous because people kept staring at me like "what's she doing"?? Obviously I have my camera so they could have assumed but none the less it was nerving LOL!! I also feel your pain on the no VR! I don't have it on either of my lens' but I sure wish I did!! Can't wait to hear your news?!?!?

    And the pictures turned out great!!

  30. Awesome pictures! Very jealous of your camera. One of my new years resolutions is to learn to use the camera I have, there are settings on there that I don't have the first clue how to use.

  31. You are truly gifted in photography! Never be self conscious- you are an artist!

    I love the first one, the pine cone in your hand.

  32. {City Girl}~ I took pictures at my cousin's wedding reception and I had to force myself to go up to people at tables and ask to take their picture. I wondered if they knew she'd ask me to photograph that night, or, I was just some crazy relative, LOL!

  33. LOL...yep, I'm still carrying around my index card in the camera case! I had to have a cheat sheet.

    Wonderful photos though PG. Have a great 2010!

  34. Great pics! Can't wait to hear your announcement!

  35. You've done well. I love your pics. I'm the same way. I haven't read the manual for my new camera. When I do, I don't use it often enough and can't remember. The trick is to use it often so you'll remember what everything means.

  36. Right now I only have the lense it came with which is 18-105mm

  37. Your pictures are so excellent. I feel kind of awkward taking pictures in public. But, I am now too addicted to my camera not to!

  38. Absolutely stunning photos. I like the stripped branches best.

  39. Hey girl, I am like you. I used to walk around thinking people thought I was weird for taking pictures. My husband yells at me a lot, "Put that camera down!" or "Stop taking pictures!" He thinks i am nuts!! But in the end he is glad that I took all the pictures! Men.....
    I love these! You did an awesome job....as always! You have a great eye! Love your pictures a few posts ago of all the kids and ponies! Awesome!

  40. I love your blog! I just spent the last couple weeks at work catching up on all your entries. It had been fun to see how you've evolved as a blogger and a photographer. I look forward to reading more about My Boy and seeing more of your beautiful pictures.

  41. All your photos are so pretty! So far you are doing a good job. I love how much color you found even in the winter!

  42. Good goal! I too suffer from the same phobia, but I'm getting over it. The green moss is a welcome sight... Here in MN all I see is white, white, white.

  43. You can come here and take photos of anything on my little ranch, PG! I love your photography and would enjoy seeing what you'd come up with while photographing things around here.



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