Beautiful, Interesting and Ooo Shiny! Images From Various Places

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Happy New Year! Have a Free eBook Sampler!

Field & Hay

Location: USA
Camera Info: Canon PowerShot ELPH 300HS • Automatic Point & Shoot
ISO 100 • f 5.6 • 1/800 sec

“If at first you don’t succeed, try try again.” – William Edwards Hickson

So here it is, another year gone by. And I’m trying again! The only comment I have about the past year is: depression sucks. Sorry!

Even if I haven’t kept up with the blog, I HAVE kept writing. Just this past November, my writers’ group published our first anthology, “Stories From the Heartland.” It’s available on Amazon for anyone who wants a copy! Recognize the cover image? 🙂 The book consists of 55 stories from 20 central Indiana authors. I have four entries in it myself, one of which was a story previously told on this blog. Can you guess which one?

But wait, I said something about FREE, didn’t I? 😉 We’ve also uploaded a 7-story excerpt of the book to Noisetrade for free downloads. So hop over there and grab your copy! And if you like the sampler, consider getting the entire book!

Meanwhile, I will try my best to get this blog back to a semi-regular posting schedule so you folks can enjoy more stories and pictures from around the world! Here’s to a better and more productive 2015!

Did you make any resolutions this year? What are they?

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New Year, New Blogs

Windows
Location: Indonesia
Camera Info: Fuji Finepix A303 • Automatic Point & Shoot
ISO 100 • f 2.8 • 1/250 sec

I’m back! Or more specifically, I’m trying again. Life got very overwhelming last year, and I had to make some cutbacks, so unfortunately this blog had to take a backseat as well. This year looks like it will be pretty busy as well (I’m looking forward to my wedding, as well as up to three potential international trips), but I will make a strong attempt to keep this going, even if I have to cut back to once or twice a month instead of every week. You wonderful people deserve it! So sorry to keep you waiting this past year.

This week’s picture makes me think of reflections. As I looked out those windows in Indonesia, I thought about where I had been and what lies ahead, and now I am doing the same. This last year has seen Andy and I losing employment, gaining it, losing it, etc. Currently he has found a job and I am still looking (yet another reason why I actually have time to write again!). We are planning our wedding for this spring (finally!) and hope to be heading overseas again shortly afterward.

Together, we’ve had quite the year! Both of us have been very involved in our Toastmasters clubs, with me becoming an officer and taking part in a humorous speech contest, and Andy becoming the very first non-inmate to join a prison club! Andy has kept busy ministering in the prison in various ways, as well as leading tours and working on archive preservation at the historic Harrison House. Of course I can’t mention Andy without his favorite sports, running and archery. This year, he has been teaching me to shoot with him, and he completed his 10th full marathon and 20th half-marathon, earning himself a place in the Marathon Maniacs club (Think: hotel discounts for life!). We’ve also added to our respective families. I took in a stray black cat, Ninja, and adopted a second kitten to keep her company (Leo). And yes, that means there will be occasional cat pictures for you as well! *giggle*

For 2014, we don’t know what it may hold, but we do know God is faithful to lead us. We’re excited for the new adventures that await us… and hopefully they will come with plenty new photos to show you! Thanks everyone for sticking with me. Here’s to a great 2014!

What’s your biggest hope for the new year?


The Exposure Triangle: Bringing it All Together

Location: India
Camera info: Canon Rebel 350 D • lens 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6
ISO 800 • f 20 • 1/125 sec

Hey my fellow shutter-bugs! It’s been a while since I had a lesson, so I owe you one – and it’s just in time for you to take all those crazy family pictures during Christmas! Previously, I talked about Aperture and Shutter Speed. Today’s lesson is on ISO, as well as answering the question: so what’s the point of all of this?

ISO (International Standards Organization), or as old-school photographers would say, Film Speed, is simply a measurement of how quickly the media in your camera can pick up light. For example, think about the last time you moved. If you had to pack a truck, how long would it take to fill if only you were working? How long would it take if you had a whole team of movers? These scenarios would represent low and high ISO settings, respectively. Higher ISOs “pack in” light faster than low ones, allowing you to shoot better pictures in low light. They also introduce film grain (pixellation) at higher levels depending on your camera.

So now you have all three pieces of the Exposure Triangle, every photographer’s rule to taking properly exposed pictures. The main point is to keep the triangle balanced. When you adjust shutter speed down, you may need to open your aperture or use a higher ISO. When you set a high ISO to shoot at night, you will need a longer shutter speed or wide aperture, etc. You will know these three are balanced when your camera’s light meter is centered.

Now comes the fun part: with this knowlege, you can shoot any camera in manual mode and actually know what you’re doing! 😀 You can try several combinations of the three elements, just remember how else they affect your photos (aperture affects depth of focus, shutter speed affects blur, and ISO affects noise). Also, you can use the Tv, Av, P, and any other settings appropriately. Just know that Tv lets you choose your shutter speed & ISO, and it will pick the aperture for you. Likewise, Av does the same with letting you control aperture. P is fully automatic except for the focus & flash.

Ok, your turn! Try taking some pictures and let us know your experience in the comments. Did you get the image you were going for? Do you know why/why not?


15 Funny Road Signs From Around the World

Location: Poland
Camera info: Canon Rebel 350D • lens 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6
ISO 800 • f 8.0 • 1/80 sec

Who doesn’t want a good laugh? When we saw this sign in Poland on several streets, we couldn’t decide whether it was a warning to pedestrians to cross carefully, or a sign telling cars they could get extra points for tagging people who tried to escape! Poland is not the only place with odd & crazy road signs, so I thought I’d bring you some of my favorites.

1. Elderly People Crossing

This sign is attributed to being somewhere in Germany, but I’m not sure since the print is in English. Apparently all elderly people here have hunched backs and no hair. At least they’re together, even if they’re headed toward the cemetery. *shaking my head*

2. Potty Instructions

Next we will travel to Asia. For cultures that are used to using the “squatty potty”, extra instructions are sometimes needed. And as another blogger pointed out, even the sign is wrong. They didn’t put the seat down first!

3. Thin Ice… or Zombie Attack?

Direct from Finland! I believe this sign has something to do with thin ice, but another blogger thought it was better attributed to impending zombie attacks. Either way, I think I’ll take another road.

4. Those Pesky Construction Signs

Since we’re on the topic of zombies, many people in the USA are familiar with those flashing orange road construction signs. But every so often, they can be hacked…

Nerds have a sense of humor, but apparently the Maine highway department does not. The fun part is, this prank was continued in Texas using multiple signs, and another using a Mario reference.

Next we’ll move on to England, and their not-so-secret secrets.

5. The Not-So-Secret Bunker

And yes, this is a real place. Even if it’s a tourist stop now, I’d still like to go just so I could dash about suspiciously, humming the “Mission Impossible” theme. And if anyone asks where I’ve been, I can just say “It’s a secret.”

6. Lost in Translation

This sign doesn’t seem odd unless you can read Welsh. According to one blogger, it translates to: “I am not in the office at the moment. Send any work to be translated.” Looks like someone forgot to proofread!

7. The Multi-National Sign

If a lack of translation skill was enough to confuse you, this next sign is worse! Even I don’t know where this one is. How did Venezuela get next to Canada? And why are all these countries up in the sky? I’m so confused!!!

8. No Talking

And then good old Dantak! This one is somewhere in India. Nice to see that sexism is still alive and well in some places of the world. :/ Imagine telling some woman in the USA to shut up and let the man drive. Ha!

9. Vancouver’s All-Inclusive Resorts

Other countries are more concerned about trying to accommodate everyone, and I mean EVERYONE. Take this example from Canada. What I’m wondering is who discovered dogs could read? :O

10. Don’t Injure the Children

Kids are a big deal all around the world. Check out this warning from Quebec. Another blogger translated the French as “Watch out for our children, because it could be one of yours.” I’m assuming that’s what the dead kid on the sign is supposed to infer. But did we really need the visual??

11. Intersection Ahead

One of the oddest bike lane markers I’ve ever seen. But I guess it gets the point across. 😉

12. Very, Very Specific Mileage Marker

Ok, ok, this one is not an actual street sign either, but I couldn’t resist! The Japanese are known for being extremely precise, and this sign from Hiroshima, Japan is no exception.

13. Ad-Libbing

Sorry, there’s no visual for this one, but I couldn’t resist sharing this story!

Someone wrote: “When passing the New Jersey/New York line, the sign read “Governor Jim Florio welcomes you to New Jersey”
Under that was printed neatly …”But the rest of us wish you’d stay home.”

At least we know how they REALLY feel!

14 & 15. More Polish Hilarity!

I’ll finish with a couple more from Poland, just because they are so fun! The first is a school crossing sign. I just love how every girl needs a lollipop bigger than her head. The second is a warning to car thieves, and the visual is just… yeah.

Ok, you’ve seen my contributions, what’s yours? Tell me about your favorite odd street sign!


Shutter Speed: Photography in Motion

Location: Thailand
Camera info: Canon Rebel 350D • lens EF 70-200mm f/2.8L
ISO 200 • f 2.8 • 1/500 sec

Photo enthusiasts! Time for another lesson! Are you excited yet?!?!

This week, let’s focus on shutter speed. The term is much simpler than all the other ones I’ve thrown at you, I think. 😉 Shutter speed is simply how long the shutter allows light into the camera – the speed at which it opens and closes. It actually requires a lot of technology to get the shutter to work at such high speeds, but I won’t get into that here. What you need to know is that shutter speed is measured in fractions of a second. Anything longer than 1/60 of a second is considered “slow” in photography terms, and “fast” is anything above 1/500 of a second. So, the picture I took above is just bordering on fast.

What’s the point? When there is any kind of action or movement in your photos, your shutter speed setting will determine how much “blur” is in your pictures. Fast shutter speeds will freeze the action (if you look closely, you can see some stray water droplets around the pot in the photo), while slow shutter speeds will blur movement (here’s one I did with a moving subject). Pick your shutter speed depending on what you want to do with the photo – do you want to stop the action or show it? There’s just one rule here: when hand-holding your camera, realize that some shutter speeds may be too low to get sharp images. Anything slower than 1/60 should use a tripod. Also, it should be equal to or faster than the focal length of your lens. So, if I’m using my 70 mm lens, my shutter speed should not be lower than 1/70 sec unless I have a tripod.

Ok, now it’s your turn! Check your camera presets (some explanations here and here) and go to Tv (shutter priority) mode if your camera allows. If you live near a waterfall or fountain, you’re lucky. For the rest of us, use your shower or sink faucet. Try adjusting your shutter speed while taking pictures of the water. What kind of effects can you get?

Don’t forget to practice with some of our past photo lessons:
Composition 1
Composition 2
Aperture
Night Photography

Try it! Then comment and let us know what your favorite results were.