I’m headed in a new direction…

Posted in Uncategorized on May 8, 2012 by Heather

Just a short post to say that I’m expanding the scope of my blog. I’ve got other creative pursuits that I’d like to share with you besides photography and thought it would be a good thing to combine them all into one blog. Besides photography, my creative pursuits have branched out into the fiber arts, namely knitting and spinning (with a spinning wheel!) and I think it’s time to share them with you. Obviously, this page is still under construction, but watch for improvements.  If you’d like to continue to follow my creative adventures, please come on over to my new blog.

A pleasant surprise!

Posted in General on March 26, 2010 by Heather

For those of you who have followed me for a while,  you know that I’m a Pentax to Canon convert. While I don’t regret making the move in terms of my gear, one of the things I have missed the most about Pentax has been the best-known and busiest of the Pentax-related online discussion groups– PentaxForums. While I’ve posted on other sites such as FredMiranda and POTN, it just wasn’t the same. After being active on PentaxForums for about a year and a half before switching to Canon, that special group of people had become almost like family to me–that’s the type of camaraderie that you’ll find there.

Even though I’ve switched, it’s been this type of camaraderie that’s kept me coming back and checking in every once in a while. Adam, the site’s founder, had even established an “Off-Brand” forum, where many folks like me tended to congregate. Last weekend, much to my pleasant surprise, I ran into this thread while perusing PentaxForums. No, it definitely wasn’t an early April Fool’s joke designed to freak out some of the die-hard Pentaxians. :D

The new site for Canon and Nikon users is now up and running, as of today. Check it out at:

http://www.canikonforums.com/forums/

Many kudos to Adam for putting the hard work into creating  this the site! :D

I’ve already registered–find me under “hwblanks”. I’ve already found several people that I recognize from PentaxForums, so I’m very hopeful that the family spirit will be alive and well, as site continues to grow in users. :)

Once you’ve checked out the site and determine that you like it, please register and become part of this great community. Please get the word out to your other photographer friends so that they’ll come check us out. Of course, if you’re a Pentax user and haven’t checked out PentaxForums, I would most definitely encourage you to do so.

Singing the wintertime blues…sigh…

Posted in General on February 20, 2010 by Heather

It’s mid February and I’m now getting around to making the first post of the new year. It’s been too long!

As you well know, this winter has been an usually cold one. Even though I haven’t had to dig myself out of the snow (being in Florida), it has still been too cold and/or rainy to go out and do a lot of shooting. Needless to say, I have gotten out a few times to brave the weather, though. I think that I’ve gotten a bit of photographer’s cabin fever, as I’ve been taking more pics of my indoor cats lately. :) My camera gear sits in my office beckoning me to come use it. Spring is only about a month away and I’m really looking forward to getting out and capturing the blooming flowers, green grass, and budding trees.

Fortunately, I will be going on vacation week after next, so that should bring some relief to my cabin fever. For our 10th Anniversary, my husband is taking me on a cruise to Panama, Costa Rica, and Belize, which should bring some great photo ops my way; there will also be some great photo ops on the ship itself. :)

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a shot that I got at Burgess Falls, Tennessee while visiting my parents in December. The temperatures didn’t get out of the 30s that day, but I think this shot was worth braving the cold for.

In upcoming posts, I’m planning on sharing my thoughts on my cruise vacation (both gear and creative ends), shooting car shows, and close-up filters. :)

One last thing: since my last post, I’ve switched from Flickr to Smugmug as the host of my pics and have gotten my own domain name. Check out my new site at http://www.heatherslightbox.com.

Who are you thankful for?

Posted in General with tags on November 25, 2009 by Heather

With Thanksgiving fast approaching, many of us are starting to reflect on the things that we are most thankful for in this life. Naturally, we tend to gravitate towards things like family, friends, jobs, homes, and other material possessions (especially the camera gear!). Today, I want to focus on something more specific–as a photographer, who are you thankful for? Who is it in your life that encourages and inspires you as a photographer?

This idea wasn’t cooked up in my own brain, but inspired by a Facebook post by the Adorama Used Department, which I’m a fan of. BTW, if you comment, you’ll be eligible to win some Adorama gift certificates. :) I’ve already made my comment there, not just in hopes of winning one of those gift certificates, but because there is a photographer that I’m especially thankful for. He’s not famous, he’s not even a professional, but he encourages and inspires me. While he is my favorite shooting buddy, the roots of this relationship go deeper than that, for he contributed his DNA to me. He is my dad. :)

I had been dabbling in photography off and on throughout my adult life when I finally bought my first DSLR in October 2007. Up until then, Dad had never shown any interest in photography to speak of–Mom took almost all of the pics of me and my sister when we were growing up. As I started sharing what I was learning about both my new gear and techniques, Dad started to get really interested. Finally, in May 2008, he took the plunge and picked up his first DSLR and started learning from scratch, with lots of help from me and another photographer friend of his. In the past year and a half, we’ve both attended a couple of nature photography workshops and have gone on our own photo outings whenever we’ve had a chance to get together, which isn’t often enough. Not only have we had a great time both shooting and learning, our personal relationship has grown as well. To me, that benefit alone makes it worth all of the thousands of dollars that we’ve spent between the two of us on camera gear and workshops. When I compare how much the relationship I have with Dad is worth in comparison to the money that I’ve spent on this hobby, I most definitely got a bargain. Lord willing, I’m looking forward to many more years of photo adventures with him. :D

I also am thankful for Mom, who has been so supportive of us and our photography. She has gone on most of our photo outings with us and has let Dad spend tons of money on gear (not all spouses would be as supportive as she has been), not only for himself, but some for me, as well (they bought me the Canon 40D body that I’m currently using). Even with her little Kodak superzoom p&s, she is a good photographer in her own right. :)

*******************************************************************

On a totally different note, I’ve been on vacation this week, so I’ve had time to make some changes to the blog page. I’ve done a little deleting, but I’ve added a good many new links. While I’ve added a section with links to Canon resources, I’ve opted to keep the Pentax links for those who find this blog via the link to it in the signature that appears on all of my posts to Pentax Forums. I’ve also added a button that will allow you to receive my postings via email, if you’d rather not keep up with them via the RSS feed.

Have a most blessed Thanksgiving! :)

Which is better? Film or Digital?

Posted in General on November 9, 2009 by Heather

This entry was inspired by a response I made to a thread on PentaxForums.com titled: “Why is film still better than digital?” I’ll assume that the vast majority of you shoot digital exclusively, but if you actually click on the link and read the thread, it will definitely give you some food for thought.

Here’s my take on the issue…I guess it could be titled something to the effect of “Why digital photography is so great” or “Why the development of the DSLR is one of the best things since sliced bread.” :)

Yes, there definitely is a certain nostalgia when using film. Up until nearly 10 years ago, I used film exclusively until my then husband-to-be bought an Olympus 1.3MP p&s digital camera for around $300 to take with us on our honeymoon. On the honeymoon, he had the digital camera and I had his old cheap film p&s film camera. Looking back at those pics, there were some good ones between the 2 of us, but for many of the shots, the IQ left something to be desired. After that, I moved on up in film cameras, owning a series of both SLRs and P&Ss, with a few digital P&Ss thrown in for good measure. By the time I bought my first DSLR in October 2007, I was mainly using digital. Even since going digital, I’ve played around with film, but I’ve always relied on digital for the bulk of my photography for several reasons:

  1. Film (beyond consumer quality) is getting harder to find locally.
  2. Depending on how much you like to shoot, film and developing can become awfully expensive. Memory cards are reusable and decent image editing software can be had for free or inexpensively ($100 or less). Since you’re reading this, I’ll assume that you’ve already got a computer at your disposal that you can load image editing software on to.
  3. If I’m going to take a film camera on a trip with me, then I’ve got to make sure that I have enough film for the trip, otherwise I might run out and not be able to find my favorite film at my destination. My memory cards are always available; when I fill one up, I transfer the images to my PC and reformat. In a typical day’s shooting, I generally don’t run out of memory card space.
  4. Unless I send my negatives off to a specialized scanning service, I just can’t get the quality of scans that I desire from local developers and I don’t have the type of money to pick up a Nikon Coolscan for myself. The main reason that I would want to scan my film in the first place is to share it with people like you.
  5. Unless I send my film off to be developed, then that means having to make a special trip to the camera store to drop it off and then another trip to pick it up.
  6. If I rely on somebody else to develop your film, my prints may not come out like I want them. Doing my own film developing at home requires dedicated space, as well as special equipment and chemicals, which can get messy. I don’t have that type of space in my house and I don’t have an overwhelming desire to get involved in film developing on that level. OTOH, I can do many of the same things involved with film developing with my digital pics–dodging, burning, color adjustments, etc. with my computer, mouse, and Bamboo Fun tablet using Lightroom and PSE and I’m really enjoying the process of seeing what I can do with each image. As for printing, I generally rely on uploading and ordering prints from a printer like AdoramaPix, although eventually picking up my own photo-dedicated printer (think 9×13 print size) isn’t entirely out of the question.

Really, what it boils down to for me is convenience. With skill development (behind the camera) and practice, I can safely say that the results I’m getting from my DSLR are definitely on par with what I could do with a film camera.

If you feel the same way I do about digital, but would like to edit your images to mimic that film look, check out LifeInDigitalFilm. The author of this blog has developed LR and ACR presets that aim to emulate different types of film, both past and present. I have a good many of his LR presets and I use them pretty regularly when I’m editing in LR.

Yes–I am very thankful that DSLRs have become relatively affordable so that it is a lot easier for me and other people like you to experience the pleasure of photography. :)

Looking beyond the obvious

Posted in Photo blog entry, Travel on November 5, 2009 by Heather

fall photo workshop 09-1112

Originally uploaded by Heather’s Lightbox

This was one of the shots I got while I was at Lori Kincaid’s fall photography workshop last month. This post really isn’t so much about the picture itself as the experience involved in getting this picture to begin with.

Overall, the weather was not what any of us had anticipated. While we were expecting the cool temperatures, we weren’t expecting all of the rain and fog we got. At 4100 ft in the Pisgah National Forest, the fog did not lift all weekend–we did not get to see the spectacular view of the mountains from the back deck of our cabin at all. Believe me, it was most definitely a challenge to keep ourselves from getting too wet and muddy as well as keep our spirits up in spite of the fact that the weekend hadn’t turned out like we had hoped. In addition, I was also dealing with a head and chest “bug” that I had caught before I had left home.

Despite the cold and wet, we still made the best of it and managed to get some great shots like this one. I think most everybody else that I was with would agree with me in saying that in spite of everything, we were glad that we pushed ourselves past our normal limits and faced the challenges of the less-than-ideal weather we were presented with. After this experience, I can now say that I’ll be less likely to skip a photo opportunity simply because the weather isn’t ideal. As long as I and my gear are properly protected, I now know that I am capable of going out and shooting in almost any kind of weather. :)

A clean camera is a happy camera…

Posted in Gear, How-to with tags , , on October 21, 2009 by Heather

I made it back from the photography workshop in one piece and with some great pics. More details will be coming later on the workshop itself, but I want to share one little tip that I picked up while I was there that will help you keep your camera and lenses cleaner and possibly save you a lot of money in the process. :)

Lens cloths are a necessity in keeping your gear clean and you can never have too many of them. I find a couple of problems with the ones you get at the camera store, though–they’re often too small, not providing you with enough surface to clean your gear sufficiently. Their too-small size also makes them easy to lose. When you do lose one, that means you have to go out and buy a new one, which can be expensive if you keep losing them. I have a solution, though…

This solution actually comes from Lori Kincaid, our workshop leader. She suggests taking an old and much-washed t-shirt and cutting it up into rags; how big or small you want the rags to be is up to you. After cotton knit has been washed a bunch of times, it develops a smooth lint-free finish to it that’s perfect for cleaning the glass on our lenses. Before putting those rags to use, make sure that you wash them first, but leave out the fabric softener. Since I also had some wool hiking socks that needed to be washed by hand, I opted to wash my cleaning rags with them in the kitchen sink using Woolite and cold water. As I write this, both the rags and socks are out in my laundry area air drying. Not only are you saving money, you’re also recycling a t-shirt that might otherwise go into the trash. :)

Woolite and cold water in the sink also works great for camera straps, especially the neoprene ones. If you live in a warmer climate like I do and tend to get hot and sweaty while out shooting during the summer, this is a great way to get your strap clean. Once you’re done washing and rinsing your strap, just roll it up in a towel to absorb excess water and then hang it up to air dry.

Keep an eye out for more postings and pics from the workshop. While I’m not done editing the pics yet, I have already gone ahead and uploaded a few of the finished ones to my Flickr page–click here to take a look at them.

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