The Barefoot Photographer®

a photography blog

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Stool up for bid!

I was asked to create a chair for the upcoming Christian City "Chair-ity" event December 1 at the Hollingsworth House in Fayetteville. Proceeds from the auction of the chairs created by area artists will go to help the children who live at Christian City have a great Christmas.

Check out the website for the event

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Fall Spiders

It is fall and time to think about getting out and taking some great photos of spiders! Yep, spiders are easy to find and make great subjects this time of year.

When you are up and out early in the morning take a look at the webs on the power lines along the road. The sunlight hitting them full of dew make them sparkle and easy to see. Later in the day it is as if they disappear.

Look out in your own garden early in the morning, when the dew is still there, you will see what appears to be a little hammock cities of webs. I have a few of these on the bushes near the house and many of them stretched between the old stems in the yarrow patch.

Even stepping out of the door can be a haunted mansion experience. One night my son came home from work and said, “Be careful when you go outside in the morning, there is a huge spider web all across the garage door.” The next morning, by the time I went out, the spider was packing in the last bits of that web. It was the type of spider that puts up a new one each night and takes it all in when morning comes.

A spider that you see often this time of year is the Black and Yellow Argiope. The photo on the blog today is of one of these spiders. I took this photo September, 2007. The spiders you see in the web are the females. They are doing all the work – building webs, trapping food, etc. The males travel around from one female’s web to another. They seem to try to play beat the clock this time of year – they are in a race to get the egg sac in place before they die. The egg sac is bulb shaped and the color of a brown paper bag. I have found these sacs in the yard before hanging on the butterfly bushes. These spiders are so easily spotted because of their large web with a zig-zag pattern in the center – plus by now that spider is pretty large! These make good subjects since they are a good size, stay fairly still, and don’t run off when they see you coming.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Nikon to Canon

I want to start out by saying thanks to Joe for the tip on this wonderful accessory!

My film camera is a Nikon. I almost say “was a” – but it is still around – still in the house – just not in use. The last time I took it out of the bag I noticed that the door on the back of the camera (remember where you would have to put film in?) would not stay closed. Some little spring or something – over time – must have broken.

So now what? I have this old, but great, camera that won’t function unless I get someone to fix it. And – even if I get someone to fix it – will I really ever use it? I doubt it.

So now what – again? I have some lenses that I really liked. The photos I got with them (and that camera) are wonderful. Since I am choosing to not repair the camera – what will I do with these lenses? At the time they were purchased, they were expensive – but now? Some would say – why didn’t you buy a digital Nikon instead of the Canon – then those lenses could have been used. Well, I didn’t – so that is why.

But guess what – I can use those Nikon lenses on my new digital Canon! A couple weeks ago I purchased an adapter ring on ebay that would fit to the Nikon lens and allow it to fit to the Canon body. The price was very low – under $20 for the product and shipping. This ring has no way to electronically have the camera and lens “talk.” This is as manual as using a Lensbaby. I have seen these adapter rings with electrodes fixed to them to perhaps allow the lens to be controlled by the camera settings. And, of course, these are pricier than the complete manual version.

I am completely satisfied with my manual version of the adapter ring. If you don’t trust ebay and usually stay away from there – Adorama has one for $50. The product at Adorama has an average 5-star rating. The website is

Now – you guys who switched from Canon to Nikon might be thinking – what about us? Well, from what I can tell in my quickie search this morning – I don’t think so. Going from Nikon to Canon is moving up in size – going from Canon to Nikon would be moving down and that is sometimes not as easy or practical to do.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Nifty Fifty

A few weeks ago a friend asked about a good low-light lens. My reply was the Canon 50mm 1.4. I knew she had a Canon camera like mine and I also knew how I loved using that lens in a low light situation. That was the lens I took to the aquarium with me and got excellent shots – even in the very dimly lit areas.

Since I recommended the lens to her – I was reminded how little I have used it lately. I have been busy with the Lensbaby and with my good all-round Tamron zoom. But that little 50mm had been neglected and left in the bag for a long time.

Purposely when I drove to Zebulon last week I put that lens on the camera and took with me no other. I loved the shots I got at that cemetery. As I was looking at the shots on the computer I thought, “Why don’t I use this lens more often?”

I think the reason why is that it is known as a ‘portrait lens.’ It is good to take great portrait shots – but it can take great shots of anything. Last night, at 7pm, I took Rosebud outside. She acted like she needed to go out – but all she did was sit in the grass, looking around the yard, enjoying the cool evening. As soon as I saw her sitting there, I ran in to get the camera – it still had the 50 on it from last week.

As I sat there in the grass with her – I was loving the shots I got. Rosebud is a reluctant subject. She will rarely, if ever, make eye contact with the lens. I have an old photo I took of her about 5 years ago that I love. I had not been able to get another I like as much as that one until last night.

Around 7pm – the light is going fast, especially on a cloudy day. The lens was great – no flash – no tripod needed. The depth of field for Rosebud’s portraits was great.

I plan to keep using this lens a lot in the coming weeks. If you have small kids or pets that are hard to catch and you need a fast lens for them or for mood shots in certain light – look at the 50mm 1.4. I know they came out with a 1.2 – but oh my gosh at the price on that one! I never used the 1.8 – so I don’t know the comparison with mine – but the price on the 1.8 is very tempting. A couple days ago when one of my regular photo magazines came in the mail, as I flipped through it I noticed a Sigma version of this lens available for Sigma, Canon, Nikon, Pentax and Sony.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


Last week I drove to Zebulon to drop off my photos for the Slow Exposures show. The show begins this Friday (September 19). I will be there in the afternoon on the 19th and 20th. The show is in Concord in the R.F. Strickland Building. This is a big show in a small town. I kind of like that.

Zebulon is a nice town. When I told my daughter I had been to Zebulon that day – she said that sounded like a different planet. Well, when you compare Zebulon with Atlanta; it is like a different planet. The little town is vibrant and has some interesting shops. The bookstore, A Novel Experience, was my destination for drop off of the photos. This bookstore is wonderful. It is large and full of many interesting things besides new and used books. I made a mental note that I do need to return to Zebulon with my camera and some time.

I did take my camera with me on the short trip to Zebulon. Not knowing exactly how long it would take for me to arrive, I did not stop on the way there. As I passed something of interest, I decided to stop on the way home – if I did not get lost on the way back!

Hollonville is another small town that I passed through on the way. Just south of this town I spotted an interesting old cemetery on the side of the road. There was a small place to pull off the road and that was it, nothing more. A peach orchard was just through some trees. On the way back to Fayette, I stopped here to take some photos.

In the cemetery, and the closest to the road, were false crypts. These are a coffin size and like structures that are built on the grave. The body is below ground – hence the name “false” crypt. These were very interesting and rather primitive looking. The slabs of stone were crudely cut and just laying on top. At the back of a couple of the false crypt were what appeared to be a tombstone built in to that side of the crypts. I have seen false crypts before – but none that looked like these. Of course I took photos. The lighting at the time was not what I wanted – and of course I want to go back.

There are many places like Zebulon and the cemetery on the side of the road – it just takes a little time to get out there and find them.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Little Yellow Spider

Sometimes you aren’t interested in taking a photo at all. Some days you can’t find anything that is interesting. One day you stop to think and realize it has been days – maybe weeks since you took a photo of anything. Or maybe you have been taking photos but you don’t care for any of them.

This has been my problem lately. I have been what you call, uninspired.

There have been times I could not wait to get out the door with the camera and back to the computer to see the photos. I would stand in my yard with so many options I did not know which way to go first.

My dry spell, rut, photographer’s block was no fun and I think – I hope – thank goodness – it is over. Thanks to a little yellow crab spider I spent quite a bit of time taking photos last night. Monday evening – after dinner – it is get the trash to the street for the next day time at my house. As I moved one of the large garbage cans I spied this little brilliant yellow crab spider. I think it must have come from the Brown-Eyed Susan flowers near the area. The color of the spider seemed to match the petals of the flowers fairly closely.

As I watched it I thought I needed to go get the camera. So I did. I put on the 10x close up diopter for some “super” macro action. For the next 20 minutes I took photos and chased the spider around the top of the can. At one point it was hanging suspended by a web thread. I had the camera on continuous shooting to take a series of it as it twisted and turned. The shots are not completely sharp as expected since the spider was in constant motion. After a short while – it swung over to my tripod! Had it shot the web over to the tripod like Spiderman swinging from building to building? As it made its way onto my camera strap – I found a small stick to lift it back to the garbage can. I took a few more photos and then decided I had traumatized this spider enough. But you know – that little spider never seemed to be afraid of me or my camera – it was incredibly feisty!

I think I had been in a rut because I have such a desire to always look for those photos that are different. There are only so many “butterfly on the bush” photos you can take. The little yellow spider was fun, unexpected, and provided me with some really different abstract images.

With this latest inspiration – I plan to go on a spider hunt in the backyard soon. Because I am such a reluctant gardener – there are plenty weeds and great places for spiders to live. I am sure I have quite a few.

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