The Barefoot Photographer®

a photography blog

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Fred Miranda and Themes

Last week someone told me about the Fred Miranda website.  OK – where have I been?  I love this website –  There is a little bit (or a lot) of everything here – reviews, a store, info on software, and a forum.  The message boards are great.  I love photo challenges – you know the whole get a theme and you take photos about that theme.  They have weekly and monthly challenges at Fred Miranda.  And – the best part – you can only submit ONE photo for the theme.


In our photo club we have monthly themes.  It is fun and interesting and stretches people to take photos that they may not have taken if they did not have the theme challenge staring them in the face.  Our theme for June was "Night."   The theme coming up for July is "Rhythm."  In the past we have had themes like self portrait, water, transportation and macro – no bugs, no flowers. 


When we chose the themes for the next twelve months we had a great discussion of what would make good themes.  I had been thinking all along that giving a broad, general theme would be fun – to see how it could be interpreted.  But, another member had an idea of giving a very narrow idea – for the same reason – to see how it could be interpreted.  Our themes reflect both – broad and narrow – it will be interesting to see how everyone chooses to go with them.


Back to another thing I like about Fred Miranda's site – the fact that you can only choose one photo for the theme.  I think having to edit yourself down to only one photo is a challenge in itself.  It is easy to have a handful of photos – even if one is a little weak, chances are one or more are pretty strong and it looks like a good series.  But – if you only have one photo to portray "night" or "rhythm" or whatever – you have to think a little bit and practice editing your work.


Learning to edit your work is a skill that many never master.  I try to edit mine all the time and end up overwhelming myself with a stack of photos that one minute I think are all excellent and the next minute I think they are all disasters.  But just think, if I am overwhelmed, if I were showing my work to someone else and showing too much of it, wouldn't they be overwhelmed as well?


When I set up our club's Flickr site – I chose to limit the number of photos each person could post per week – they are limited to two.  This is an exercise in editing and a little challenge rolled into one.  First, you should think about it and place your best into the group pool.  Some weeks it may be harder than others.  If you have a really great week of photos – it would be difficult to choose only two – but that is the challenge.


That is what I love about the Fred Miranda challenges – great themes to really make you think like:  doorway, geometric shadow, my addiction, and deep.  And – on top of a tough theme – only one submission.


Monday, June 23, 2008

Photojojo -- Feet Photos!

I have to put this on the blog!  I opened my email this morning and there is a Photojojo email newsletter with a quirky photo idea -- guess what -- it is about taking photos of your feet!  (I guess I am not the only one....)
Anyway -- here is a link to the newsletter.  I highly recommend signing up for their emails -- they are usually short, fun and include a link to follow if you are very interested in the topic at hand.  I did click on the link here to see the "movie" of feet -- really it is more like a great little slideshow with music.  Click, watch, and take some photos of those feet!

Sunday, June 22, 2008


Reflections can give you some of the most interesting and creative photos. Many times the subject at hand may not be something that I find particularly interesting. But rather than dealing with the subject as a whole – I look for parts, pieces, and bits that I do find interesting. One of the most universal parts to find and do a lot with is a reflection. Many surfaces have a reflection.

Just recently I added a couple hanging yard ornaments to the backyard. They look fun and colorful. One is black metal, thick wire twisted in a spiral with colored marbles enclosed in a tiny wire spirals hanging from it like water drops. The piece as a whole is an interesting object for me. I like taking photos of the entire piece. BUT – when you get up close – macro close – you can see reflections in the glass marbles.

I have another similar piece, but it is not a spiral, hanging from a large metal flower sculpture. This one has a cluster of green glass marbles that give a wonderful reflection of the butterfly bush behind it.

Last year when I was looking through my photos for something to fit a category of the Georgia National Fair Photography Contest – I happened up on a photo I took in my dining room. On one side of my table I have an old church pew for seating. My camera is usually on the table or somewhere close at hand. One day I happened to look up at the light fixture above the table and notice the reflection in the brass of the entire table top (and all that was all over it!). Thus, the photo "The Dining Room Table is a Mess" was born. It was good enough for the contest to get me a fifth place. I ended up converting this one to black and white. I did not want to colors in the photo to be the subject – I wanted the reflection to be what everyone noticed first. Taking the color out made sure that the interest would be in the reflection.

People like reflections – they are like those goofy carnival mirrors that distort what we see. You can tell by the interest that has developed in garden art and the reflection globes becoming popular again. Ponds and water features bring reflections into the garden. There are a lot of great photos out there using water as a reflection tool. A window looking over a garden is a great reflection subject.

If you are stuck in the house and want to try your hand at reflection experiments – look in your kitchen. There are too many shiny objects to mention them all. One of the simplest is to think of a spoon. Using either side of the spoon can give interesting effects. We have a couple pieces of NambĂ© metalware. These are super shiny – like mirrors and very fun to work with. What you use for a reflection does not have to be metallic – just shiny. On my stove I have a red tea kettle that is very reflective.

A couple days ago a friend asked me to go along to a mini car show. I am not super interested in cars. But – the reflections afforded me at a car show was something I could not pass up. Most of the cars there were not that old – and not that loaded with chrome. There were two that were wonderful; both Auburns, one vanilla colored and the other black. I, of course, liked the black one much better – the car color was perfect for reflections – the vanilla color was not. But both had beautiful hood ornaments – in chrome. Also they had spectacular hub caps and lights that were like mirrors.

The biggest issue was that it was the prime time of day for sunlight – just after lunch. I have a couple hood ornament shots that are not bad. I still don't know if I plan to show them to anyone. I got a great one of the front end of the black Auburn. Using the Lensbaby, I got a great blur on one side and crisp sharpness on the other. I spent some time trying to get a decent "self-portrait" in a reflection – without looking too much like an Oompa Loompa – sometimes that distortion can really make you look super large in places you would rather not!

Check back a little later to this blog – I will get my web guru to post some photos. Some of my regular readers may know that I have not perfected my posting of the photos with the words. I have done so a couple times and not been happy with the results. Usually I will write the blog and then email the photos to someone who knows a lot more about this than I do. Until I get it figured out – that is how it is done – so the photos may not appear for a day or two.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Arts and Moonshine

The arts community is one big web of a network.  Since I started the blog and my website – I have been connecting with people in the art world that I may have never met before.  Locally, when I head out to a local art spot – I see work that is familiar to me by artists that I have met.  In any community there are many talented artists that you may never know about.  Many of the people I have come to know in the past few years have been here the whole time that I have – but we never knew about each other.


Being an artist is a one-man band kind of operation.  I keep telling my husband that I need an agent to go out and promote me and my work.  What is funny is you can get that – when you really build a name.  But – and here is the funny part – once you build a name, do you really "need" an agent?  When I promote my workshops, I send the notices all over the place – well within Georgia.  I send them to many contact points that either publish in a paper or on the internet happenings in the art world.  In doing this, I have met some great people – but not in person – yet. 


One of my contacts has been with Southern Creativity (  This group began as a bunch of former UGA students and Athens-area artists got together to keep inspired and to inspire others.  The blog is a great source of art news.  Robin Fay is the editor of the online arts magazine Moonshine.  (  Robin is a multimedia artist, web designer, information specialist and photographer.  You can read about Robin a nd the other 15 contributors to Moonshine at the link provided.  And yes, I am a contributor.  One of these days – I need to get over to Athens to meet Robin in person.


Friday, June 13, 2008

Flowers and Rabbits

This has been a good week to take photos.  The daylilies are really starting to bloom.  I have a beautiful white one near the pond in the backyard.  Beside the garage door is a wonderful purple with gold deep down inside.  Near the air conditioner units I have a deep scarlet with gold inside.  The daylilies make a nice photos showing the whole bloom – but it is really fun to get extra close for a macro.  The Lensbaby is also a good tool to get unique shots of the lilies in bloom.   If you check out my Flickr page, you can see four of the purple lily.


The backyard is really coming along now.  This week a few storms helped water the new plants that were having a time of it in the heat.    Some of the old daylilies foliage has been looking "tired."  I realized it had been awhile since I fertilized those plants – so not only did they get some needed rain this week – they got some plant food!


Before we got the rain – I was taking advantage of the relaxed watering restrictions.  I went out on my assigned day during the assigned time to water – especially the new plants.  Five years ago, when we landscaped inside the fence to create this little courtyard area, we planted Indian Hawthorn along the back and side fence area.  I rarely water these bushes now since they are so well established – but the other day – it had been so hot – I decided to spray them with the hose a little.


Well – spraying the bushes gave me my own Jimmy Carter moment in the yard.  Do you remember the story of the rabbit that "attacked" Jimmy Carter during a fishing trip in Georgia?  Here is a link to the story: 


When I sprayed those bushed a rabbit shot out of them directly at me.  It was a small one – but it was moving so quickly, I was startled.  Unlike Jimmy, I did not beat it off with an oar.  I simply moved (I had been standing very still).  When it saw me moving – it made a sharp right turn and ran out under the gate.  I felt badly I had scared it so.  I felt badly until I saw that it had been eating the buds from my black-eyed susans and purple coneflowers!


Update on the pond – I do have a baby turtle and am in the process of identifying what kind it is.  Last Sunday I happened to capture it for a little while – to look it over and take some close ups of it.  I placed it back in the pond.  Last night I tossed out some fish food and noticed the turtle swimming among the fish nibbling on the tidbits.  And – I do have tadpoles.  Not near as many are in the pond as I have had in previous years.  I don't know if the snake or the turtle have anything to do with this.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Camera Shopping

Oh, I know, you see that title and think....what is she doing?  Is she buying ANOTHER camera?  No -- not yet anyway.  Many people ask me what type of digital SLR-type camera they should buy.  Some of them had the whole set up with film SLR cameras, years ago, but now they wonder what to do.


Years and years ago my husband had a Canon SLR and always liked it – but he always wanted a Nikon.  One year, for Mother's Day, he bought for me a Nikon 35mm SLR and a couple lenses.  I loved that camera – it has always taken wonderful photos.  The back of it won't stay closed now – so I am left with the dilemma of do I fix this? Or not?  Even though it takes wonderful photos – I am so into digital now I don't think film is where I want to put any more of my cash.  So now – the only use for those two SLRs are bookends on the shelf.


Like many people, my first digital camera was a tiny, pocket-sized point and shoot.  It happened to be a Canon.  I loved it – loved the instant feedback of digital.  It died an early death when someone in the house splashed Coke onto it.  I suppose a tiny drop of Coke happened to seep into the wrong spot and poof – no more digital camera for me!  I have to bring up that Olympus has a digital camera that you can take underwater without the need of the special plastic housing – how cool is that?  Thank you Target for placing these on an endcap, making me notice it, and (of course) making me want one!


By this time, I was hooked and have to have another – I could not wait and did not really stop to think – much.  I did not think beyond another simple point and shoot.  Also, my memory went to a great little 35mm point and shoot that I had, loved, carried everywhere (until the battery leaked and killed it).  Big plug here for Duracell – they were wonderful about the leaky battery – they sent me a check for a new camera!  But the one I had, and loved, and carried everywhere was no longer made.  The new one – I did not like as much (sigh).  But – I looked at the Olympus digital cameras and got one – and loved it – and carried it everywhere!  I still have it – it still works – but boy, oh boy, does that camera make an incredible grinding noise when you slide the case to start it up for the lens to extend!  It started sounding like that years ago – I thought it was soon to stop all together. So, I had to have a back up for when it stopped.  Which I thought was coming soon, very soon.  I was so hooked on digital photography I did not want to be without a camera for any period of time.


After playing with the new Olympus so much – in the yard with all the bugs and flowers – I found that macro was my big interest.  And, to my advantage, I still had a working camera (although loudly) and was not pressed to make a quick decision.  I actually shopped for my next camera based on my interest!  Wow, what an idea!  I visited and daily looking up diff erent cameras and trying to see what best fit my needs.  These are great sites for reviews on just about any available camera – and in-depth reviews on many of them.  I wanted something that was great for macro – super macro! 


I found this with the Fuji S7000 zoom.  I still have this camera.  It takes great photos – very sharp!  It also has a great macro feature – "super macro" – with a minimum focus distance of 1cm.  This camera allowed me to take awesome photos of flowers – with the lens touching the subject!  It was great.  Also it had an adapter tube that would fit to the front giving you the option of using filters with the camera.  It had a big zoom, and even gave you the option of jpeg or raw image files.  It was very advanced for the time.  Using this camera really got me more into macro.  Then I started thinking, what if something happened to this camera?  I need a back up.  Not just any backup – but one with great macro and a bigger zoom.  So I started shopping again – taking my time – months, in fact, to find another great camera.


This time something interesting from Canon caught my eye.  The S2IS.  Image stabilization – wow – that would be great!  It had a big zoom – and a super macro mode just like the Fuji.  It also has another interesting feature.  When I show this to people – they immediately say "what kind of camera is that?  I would buy it for that feature alone."  It has "Color Accent."  Choose a color in the frame – only that color shows and the rest is in black and white.   The only problem with wanting this camera – it was not available for purchase yet.  So I waited and waited and waited.  Finally when it came out – I got one.


Now you all know from reading the blog that I have a Canon XTi – I got it last year.  I love it.  But – most of the time when I go out to shoot.  I take along the S2IS.  Like I have said before, sometimes your best macro lens is a whole 'nother camera.


So when people ask me what kind of camera to get – if they ask only about the SLR I will tell them a Canon.  I tell them I chose the XTi for the size of it – it is smaller than the other models.  And – not having any lenses that would work with it, I chose a Tamron 18-250 zoom that is a wonderful lens.  I feel that you could get the XTi (or newer XSi) and the Tamron lens – and be very content – for a while. 


But I like to ask people – what do you like to do with a camera?  Do you want to get into the whole lens thing with an SLR?  If not, I always recommend the latest version of the S2IS that is out there.  Right now that is the S5IS.  With this camera you get the super macro mode plus a zoom equal to a 400+mm lens. 


I have not visited dpreview or Steve's Digicams much lately – I am afraid if I do I will find something new that I have to have. 


Sunday, June 1, 2008

Orb Weaver Spiders

Yesterday I was making the bed and opening the blinds like I normally do every morning.  When I opened the blinds at one window, I saw a small orb weaver spider outside.  It was making its bed for the day under a curled leaf of a vine that I had been intending to pull out of the bush at the end of the house. 


I got the camera and tripod to take a few photos as best that I could.  It was not an ideal situation.  The spider – under the leaf was in a shady, darkish spot.  In the background was the sky and sun – very bright.  The flash would not work since I was working through the window.  I grabbed the flashlight that I keep by the side of the bed.  While I took the shot – I shined the light up under the leaf to allow me to photograph more than the silhouette of a spider.  I took my normal number – too many – of shots.  By this time, the spider was getting pretty tired of having a flashlight pointed in its direction.  It began to move around and even at one point come out the end of the leaf curl looking around – or maybe just giving me "the

eye(s)."  I had plenty of photos anyway – so I put the flashlight away and stopped taking photos.


Orb weaver spiders are interesting.  I have another one near the front porch that is growing everyday.  When I first spotted it – it was so very tiny.  Now it is easy to see without having to search the web.  This one is green with a white/silvery marked abdomen.  It is a Venusta Orchard Spider.  I have no clue what kind the leaf dweller is.  The classification of orb weaver spiders is the third largest group of spiders – over 2800 species.  I got lucky identifying the little one by the front porch – there is a photo of one exactly like it in my Aud ubon field guide. 


Orb weavers build a circular web – usually very precise and pretty.  Orb – circle – thus the name.  Some of them I see out all day and night – I wonder when do they sleep?  Or are they like the cat and nap intermittently throughout the day?  Others, like the little one taking a break under the leaf by my bedroom window, come out at night.  They build a beautiful web to use all night catching prey.  In the morning, they will take it down, eating it as they go.  Then they go off – usually under a leaf to stay out of the sun all day.  Then at night – t hey come out to build the web again. 


If you have lights that stay on at night – like our bedroom light – the spider will come build near that window.  The light attracts moths and other insects that the spiders catch in the web to eat.  Many times in the summer we leave the flood lights on at the entrance to the garage for my son – he comes home late at night.  We notice orb weavers building very close to that light.  If we get outside early enough in the morning to take the dog out or get the paper, we will see the spider taking down the web.  I always think that one sleeps behind the downspout during the day.  It is cheap entertainment to go out in the evening to watch the spider come out to build the web.


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