Sunday, December 19, 2010

Let it snow!

I love snow, I love the look of fresh fallen snow on the trees and houses. The beautiful landscapes and scenery inspire me to want to go out and take photos, but for some reason, it is so hard to actually go out and do it. On a cold and snowy day it is so easy to just sit inside and curl up on the couch with my husband, kitties and a good book or movie. So I have to force myself pull out the camera and practice photography. When I'm driving through my town, I look for houses, places or things that I want to photograph, hoping it will get me off my ass. Unfortunately it doesn't always work, but today, after a nice snow I decided to at least go out and get a couple shots.

I loved the textures of this old shed. I wish I would have positioned myself better in front of it, but since I was almost standing in someone's backyard, I decided not to go in much further.

I also decided to practice a bit with one of my favorite subjects, my boy Spitze. One of his favorite things is getting shoulder rides from Brandon. He flops down like a rag doll on his shoulder and loves to just look around and get some lovin'. He is such a handsome guy, I guess I need to take more photos of him, he is such a good looking subject.
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Sunday, December 5, 2010

A few more from Dublin.

Because the weather is crappy and I'm too lazy to shoot and edit some new photos, here are some more from our Thanksgiving trip.

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I loved the shamrock light posts in Dublin, there were

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The Georgian architecture and colorful doors were all throughout the Dublin neighborhoods. They say that when Queen Victoria died the British people painted their doors black to signify their mourning and the Irish were ordered to as well. In response to this, the Irish painted their doors anything but black.

Not only do I love the name of this little cafe, but the Lemon Meringue Tart was amazing! Those silver discs are all the awards they have won in recent years.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

My bags...a review.

I am, admittedly, a bag whore. I blogged about this before with another bag review, but it is time for a new review since I have added to the collection and some of my reviews have changed a bit. It actually extends beyond camera bags to purses, backpacks, gym bags and pretty much all types of bags. My photography hobby has just given me a new type of bag to shop for. Finding the perfect bag is difficult because I don't have a well stocked camera store nearby so most of my bags have been purchased online. Some of them I love, some are okay, but I really have yet to meet a camera bag that I hate. Here are some of my thoughts on the ones I currently have, and a couple of really bad photos that I probably should have spent more time on...

Check out my previous post for my Jill-e review.

From left to right: Ketti Bag, Kelly Moore Hobo, Epiphanie Ginger (bad photos but you can see the size differences)

Kelly Moore Hobo:

I love, love, love this bag. It was seriously love at first site when I opened the box. The KM Hobo was exactly what I was looking for in a bag to take with me on a day out shooting. I can fit my camera and my favorite lenses for traveling (24-85mm, 14-24mm, 105mm), along with my wallet and other "purse stuff". The padded cross body strap is comfortable and adjustable, and there are zipper pockets on the front and back for keeping money or other things safe but accessible. There is also a zipper top with a magnetic flap to deter anyone from trying to reach in and grab something. Besides being gorgeous, the bag sits perfectly at my side/hip while I'm walking, standing, crouching or whatever position I am shooting in. It has a much slimmer profile than my Ginger, which ideal for walking around, but also means there is less room to carry some of the extra lenses and other things I may want to have on me.

The padding is adjustable and sturdy, but not quite as thick as my Ginger or Tamracs. It offers sufficient protection, but I would definitely have concerns if my bag wer to fall. I don't really see this as a problem considering I am pretty careful with my gear and the bag is so slim that I don't have to set it down while shooting.

I have only had this bag for a few days, but it is already a favorite and I can see my KM Hobo being my new "go-to" bag....sorry Ginger.

Left: Kelly Moore Hobo in Grey Right: Epiphanie Ginger in Brown (excuse the horrible photos)

Epiphanie Ginger: My Ginger is my current "go-to" bag, she is beautiful, functional and big enough to carry most of the gear I need for a day out. I have used her while traveling and just walking around town. I can fit my camera body and about 2-3 lenses, accessories and my wallet and other "purse stuff". Not only does she fit just about everything I need and want, but she is beautiful and looks like a purse instead of an ugly camera bag. The padding is very good and protects my gear very well. The dividers are adjustable making this bag very functional.

The only real downside is that is can be a bit bulky. I don't really mind the bulk too much, but when I have to carry it around when traveling it is sometimes a pain. Also, if I load up my bag with as much gear as it can hold, then it can definitely get a bit heavy. While the shoulder strap is well padded, it does get a bit heavy. Then again, that is more of a problem with me bringing too much gear than an actual problem with the bag.

My problem with bringing too much gear brings me to my next bag...

Tamrac Adventure 9: This bag is a backpack camera bag and doesn't quite have the same charm as Ginger or KM Hobo, however, it is extremely functional. The bottom portion holds all the gear I need when traveling plus it has a slot for my laptop in the back. The divider in the bag offer great protection and are fully adjustable, in fact, the entire bag has great padding for both my camera gear and my laptop. There is a top compartment that has room for anything else I may want to carry with me, like a small jacket or snacks...I get bitchy when I am hungry. In the camera compartment I can carry my camera body with lens, two large lenses, my camera charger, speedlite and remote. If I didn't carry all the "non-shooting" accessories, I could easily fit another lens or 2 small ones in there. There are also small pockets for memory cards and other small accessories. The photo shows the bottom compartment with room to hold my 24-85mm, 14-24mm, 105mm, battery charger and cord, extra battery and some accessories. Even with all that gear, I can fit my camera body with lens, as well.

The downside to this one is it isn't pretty like some of my other bags and it is pretty big. I am 5'2" so it is a pretty big back for me. When it is packed with all my gear it can get heavy but the straps are so well padded and there are waist and chest straps to help distribute the weight. This bag is now my primary travel bag and is perfect for a carry on at airports. It keeps all my important stuff with me in one bag and even allows me to pack something to read and some snacks for those long trans-Atlantic flights.

Ketti Handbag: My Ketti handbag is probably the cutest of all the camera bags that I own. She is adorable, holds my camera with lens attached and 2 extra lenses and is handmade. As much as I want to love my Ketti, it is not really functional for my needs/wants. The straps are long enough to go over your shoulder, but with a bulky sweater or coat it may be uncomfortably tight. Also, the absence of a cross body strap means you have to set it down when shooting. There are two non-adjustable dividers inside the bag and one small pocket in the liner. Additionally, I don't find the padding protection in this bag to be a good as the Epiphanie or Tamrac, it is much softer, thinner and more flexible. While it does offer some protection, I think a fall could possibly damage some equipment in this bag.

I really wanted to LOVE this bag, but, like I said before, it doesn't really fit my needs/wants as a photographer. For someone that doesn't need a cross body strap and can set the bag down while shooting, this bag will work well. It is very cute, well made and does not look like a camera bag at all. Ketti has several very cute styles and is supposed to come out with a bag with a cross body strap sometime soon. Overall, a great bag, just not what I really need.

Tamrac Velocity 7x &9x: I wrote about the 7x in my previous review and really liked the bag. Unfortunately, the size of my lenses has grown since that trip and the 7x doesn't fit my favorite travel lenses anymore. When I had just my kit lens and the 50mm, it worked out perfect, now, not so much. So I decided to get the 9x thinking that it would be a perfect upgrade to fit my longer, bigger lenses. Unfortunately, the 9x is huge so carrying it on my hip isn't really practical. The best place to carry it is more towards your butt and back, but part of the reason I liked the 7x was that it kept my camera gear tight and close to me in cities where pickpocketing was an issue. Keeping my gear at my back and out of sight isn't how I like to keep my gear in those cities. While I can always move it up to my front on subways or walking through crowds, if I want to shoot while carrying it, I need to keep it at my back when crouching or kneeling. So not only am I distracted by taking photos, but my gear is at my back.

Additionally, the Velocity models have a triangular shape to them you can't really maximize use of the space because of the size and shape of your camera and lenses. While you can stuff smaller items in some of the air gaps, the shape causes it to be a little limiting when trying to fit lenses or other photography gear.

I'm not saying the 9x isn't useful for some photographers, but for the purpose that I bought it (to keep at my side while traveling) it doesn't fit my needs. It is the size of a backpack and isn't practical for keeping on my hip. The triangular shape restricts what and you carry and doesn't allow you to maximize the space in the bag. The 9x is actually still sitting in my closet with the tags on.

Overall, I love my bag collection and feel that I have a nice range of bags for any type of shooting situation that I, as a hobbyist, may encounter. If I was forced to narrow it to only 3 bags, it would be Ginger, KM Hobo and the Tamrac Adventure. I'm not sure I could narrow it any further without serious deliberation. I love these three bags for different reasons and love having all of them at my disposal. I'm a lucky girl. I also realize that not everyone is able to test out or see each of these bags, much less all at once, so I hope this post was helpful.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Baile Atha Cliath....

...or just Dublin. Brandon and I spent a not-so-traditional Thanksgiving in Dublin this year and I have to say, I love the Irish. As a whole, they are some of the friendliest and most likable people I have met in my travels. And of course, I adore their accents. They could be yelling or cursing me out, but something about that Irish accent makes it seem so damn friendly.

Unfortunate for us the weather wasn't ideal, but considering we went to Ireland in November, I say we lucked out by not getting completely rained on. I took a photo tour with a fabulous photographer and guide and am still working on editing several photos...I am challenged when it comes to post processing. But I thought I would share just a couple of the photos that were easier to touch up since I am so slow at editing.

Dublin is full of statues and a couple of my favorites were "The Linesman" along the Liffey and the Oscar Wilde statue at Merrion Square.

The lighting was a little tough on this one because his face completely in the shadows and I had nothing to use as a reflector. But something about the statue intrigued me and I had to shoot it.

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I love the expression on his face. From the smirk to the colored marble clothes, his personality was most definitely captured with this statue.
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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Christmas card

It seems that I am never short of amazing ideas when it comes to shoots for holiday/event photo cards. However, I still have yet to do a successful studio photo shoot with my cats that I can use for photo cards. Please excuse the horrible photos. I eventually reach a point during a shoot where I simply like to capture the look of confusion on my cats' faces as they try to figure out what the hell I am doing. There is minimal editing, because there was really no point..

First I tried a "cake smash" shoot for the 1 year adoption anniversary, which was a complete disaster. My kitties were not amused with the "1" candle sticking out of their soft food and after I set it up I realized that the whole "vision" pretty much sucked. Mia decided she would enjoy the soft food regardless. Spitze is what we like to call "special", here he is still trying to figure out what is going on.
Next I had a "vision" for a Halloween shoot with a jack-o-lantern and two adorable looking kitties crawling all over it and possible even peeking through the top of it. Lets just say that never happened and leave it at that.

Then today I decided to do the famous "cookies for Santa" shot that all the Moms were doing last year for their Christmas photo shoot. I set up the seamless, had the cookies, milk and "For Santa" sign all set up....and my kitties did not want to play. I could show you photo after photo of one kitty's butt facing the camera while the other is drinking milk, or both of their butts facing the camera, or several other completely unusable shots. Needless to say I do not have a photo for my Christmas photo card. This was one of the few that kind of turned out but it is still not good enough to use. I guess I shouldn't be surprised. It is difficult to get one cat to cooperate, much less two. Oh well, I got some practice with my seamless and speedlite. Maybe I'll try again tomorrow, or maybe I'll just forget cards this year...

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Castle ruins on the Weinstrasse.

One of our favorite places to visit for a quick day trip is the Deutsche Weinstrasse (German Wine Road). The road takes you through cute little German towns filled with vineyards and local wineries where you can stop for wine tastings. Beyond the vineyards, there are several castles and ruins peppered along the route that you can just drive or hike to. Not all of them are spectacular, but it is so interesting and beautiful to explore some of these cute little sites. Here is one of the castles we found as we drove along the weinstrasse.

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Sunday, October 17, 2010

A weekend in Munich.

I had my half marathon on 10-10-10 in Munich, so Brandon and I decided to make a whole weekend out of it. Unfortunately, I was so paranoid about wearing myself out that I didn't bring my camera everywhere so I don't have as many shots as I would like. I guess that gives us a reason to go back next year!

I loved this statue. Mainly because she has my body type....a big butt and thighs. Sadly, she has bigger boobs then me.My favorite applebottom statue was right in Olympia Park just outside of the Event Arena where the Race Expo was held. Next to a photography expo, this is my idea of heaven.
The post-race meal started off at the famous Hofbrauhaus. Unfortunately, my stomach wasn't up for a big meal yet so I settled for some Pumpkin soup...yum!

One of my favorite parts of the Hofbrauhaus is the cages that hold the beersteins for the regular customers. This one has the HB symbol on the pewter cover.
The tower is where the Glockenspiel is, I was there when it played, but it lost my interest pretty quickly. Beautiful building though.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A trip to the blumen field!

I needed some practice with my new macro lens so I decided to go to the blumen field and see what I could find. There were so many beautiful interesting flowers, I was in heaven. As I started to take pictures, I really started to realize the difficulty with macro photography and realized I really needed a tripod. Trying to keep a steady hand, compensate for the wind and figure out settings were definitely a challenge. But I think I got a couple decent shots and some great practice. I'll definitely be heading back out there again to see what else I can find!
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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Well hello, Mr. Grasshopper!

Hello, Mr. One-Legged Grasshopper! Not quite sure how this little guy lost a leg, but he ended up in my kitchen, giving me an opportunity for a little macro practice.
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Unfortunately, this house is patrolled by fierce grasshopper hunters. You can guess how this story ends....
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Saturday, August 21, 2010

European adventure.

My three sisters and Mom recently visited us and we took a whirlwind European trip. I haven't really had a lot of time to sort through pictures and process them, but here are a few of my favorites.

I guess I went a little crazy at the Eiffel Tower and took some at dusk, directly under the tower and then later at night.Inside Notre Dame during Mass. Normally I do not take pictures during mass and I still feel a little guilty about this one. It was taken off to the side and not in the pews so I'd like to think I'll be forgiven.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

My garden is blooming!

I am not the best gardener and flowers are definitely not my specialty in photography, but I had to get some pictures of my first blooms in my very own garden. I have never actually grown my own garden so this is really exciting for me. I bought the bulbs in Amsterdam during our last visit and they are fall bloom flowers. Sure enough, these babies are starting to grow and bloom, I can't believe it.

I'm have no idea what kind of flower this one is, but I almost thought it was a weed until I saw the buds.

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I have always loved eggplant calla lilies so I thought I would give it a shot and try to grow some. I was so excited to see that one of my first flowers was a beautiful dark purple calla. My poor photography does not do this flower justice, it is gorgeous.

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A wedding in Chicago

The last couple of weeks we have been traveling back to the States to visit family in Michigan and attend a family wedding (in-law side) in Chicago. I didn't get out to photograph as many sites as I would have liked due to wedding and family events, but I did get a couple shots of the fabulous food at the Rehearsal Dinner at DuChamp's in Chicago.

Just looking at these photos makes me hungry! The Groom is French and he had several French family members in town for the wedding. A couple of them are very talented chefs, so we ate quite well.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Another trip to the Weinstrasse!

Since the Weinstrasse is so close to our house, it is the perfect day trip on a lazy weekend. So we headed out for another trip with some friends and came back with another 3 cases of wine and some pictures from our trip.

I can already see that I definitely need to work on my white balance, and probably should get my computer/monitor calibrated.

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Sunday, June 6, 2010

Avoiding housework!

Since I am trying to avoid doing housework on this lazy Sunday, I have decided to update my neglected photo blog. It's not that we haven't traveled to some great places or that I haven't taken any photos, but basically, I've been lazy.

During one gorgeous weekend, we headed to the Deutsche Weinstrasse (German Wine Road), which is not far from our house. We took a wrong turn and accidentally headed up to the Hambacher Castle, so we stopped for some photos.

In the town of St. Martin, we stopped for a weinprobe (wine tasting) at one of the little shops. I got this shot of their stacks of wine bottles and crates that they had in the shop.

Over Memorial Day weekend, we headed to Brussels and Amsterdam for some sightseeing with friends. This was my second trip to both and Brandon's first. It rained the entire time in Amsterdam so I have almost no pictures from our time there, but here are a couple from Brussels.

Chi-Chi's is extinct in the United States and one of my favorite restaurants, so when we saw a Chi-Chi's in Brussels, we had to stop. After years of living in Europe, I don't feel bad when we stop and eat at "American" restaurants. And trust me, we most definitely enjoyed the local food and drinks in Brussels...yummy chocolate and chips! Apparently I was too busy eating to get some good shots of chocolate and chips/frites. But here is a photo of the wonderful Chi-Chi's margarita.

Brussels is famous for their beer, and there was definitely no shortage of fabulous beers in this city. There are literally hundreds of beers to choose from in this city.

There was some great graffiti near one of the pubs we ate at, so I had my friend pose for a shot in front of it. She did her best "Tyra" pose for me!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Pretty Girl!

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It is a cold and rainy Saturday so I have zero motivation to go outside. Instead, I am staying in with my husband and kitties. I really wish that I hadn't chopped off the top of Mia's ear, but it is still a cute shot of her. I really think that she is a bit of a camera whore, she seems to love when I get out my camera and take pictures of her.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Big Yawn.

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I caught Spitz in a big yawn, and that pretty much sums up this week. Nothing really exciting happened. With Brandon gone for three weeks and with me winding down from the race, it was a pretty uneventful. I could have posted pictures of me lounging on the couch, but instead I'll post another picture of my cute kitties!

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Monday, April 19, 2010

The Race.

I ran the Vienna Half Marathon this past weekend. Sadly, we were only there for a short time so I really don't have any good pictures of the city. We arrived late and on the day of the race I was definitely not going to haul my camera around as I ran the 13.1 miles! So there are no pictures of beautiful Vienna, just memories as I huffed around the city trying to get to the finish line.

Oh, but here is a picture of my beautiful medal! Our hotel room had a random wooden beam in it, which made for a perfect place to hang my medal.