2017 Reflections

This is the time of year when most of us look back and reflect before looking forward to a fresh slate of ideas and goals. I am no different, and so when I looked at 2017 I realized that it was a year of learning, particularly in my photography pursuits. Learning has always been important to me, but now I know that it is central to my sense of self and it kindles my passion and excitement. 

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I spent a week in Portland, Oregon last September taking a flower workshop with Kathleen Clemons and Donna Eaton. It was a fluke that I got in because the class was full when I contacted Kathleen. I had been reading her E-book, All about Textures, and experimenting with applying textures to my flower images when I had the urge to write to her and thank her for her work, instruction, and book. As a result of our email exchange I learned that there was one cancellation in her upcoming workshop, so I jumped at the opportunity to join the class. This was another reminder for me to thank people who you admire. Without reaching out to her, I may not have learned about the workshop opening. 

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I learned so much during that workshop. Kathleen and Donna were right there to critique my photos, give suggestions, and encourage me to experiment with new equipment. I took over 1,000 photos that week, many of which were okay, but some were spectacular, if I do say so myself. I also met some fun people who are passionate about flower photography. I learned as much from them as from the instructors. 

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Although I use many type of lenses, for the past year I have been experimenting with Lensbaby creative art lenses that produce some amazing effects. My first Lensbaby was the Velvet 56mm lens. Like all Lensbaby lenses, it is a manual lens, so the learning curve was steep for me. I remember after using it for some time, I took one of my zoom lenses out with auto focus and was shocked at how much easier it was to capture the image. But the effect that I could get from a Lensbaby kept pulling me back.

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Over the years I have added to my gear with other more creative Lensbabies, such as the Velvet 85, the Sweet 50 & 80, Twist 60, and soon the Sweet 35. Every image is different and I feel like it is expressing my inner sense of the world.

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I recently joined a closed group on Facebook called Lensbaby Unplugged with over 1,500 members from around the world. I have been so inspired by the images and approaches that these photographers are taking with their Lensbabys.  It has encouraged me experiment, to push outside boundaries, to capture more creative images. 

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As I look to 2018, I know that I will prioritize learning as one of my most important goals. Although this applies to all parts of my life, it is especially true in my photography.  In fact, I have a Sweet 35 arriving today, so I look forward to experimenting with it. I appreciate your comments, so please let me know how you keep learning fresh in your photography.

It's Back! - A Camera Walking Post

If you are like me, you probably have favorite subjects that you like to capture when out Camera Walking. I have several, including Lola, our neighborhood dog, the city skyline featuring the Space Needle, and an old Studebaker truck that sits in the driveway on top of the hill where I live.

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I like it because it has a personality - notice that one yellow light - and I play with my images to get different moods. I used Nik's Color Efex Pro's filters to get this grungy look. I even made a puzzle from the image below for a friend.

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During the holidays, the owners decorate the truck, which I appreciate.

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Then one day I walked by and the truck was gone! There was an Audi in its place. I thought that it might have been out for repair, but each time I walked by there was no Studebaker. They must have sold it. Sigh. I was happy that I had my images from the last two years to look at.

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This weekend I decided to walk by the house and to my delight the Studebaker was back!! I was so thrilled, and glad that they didn't give up on this old truck. I had my Lensbaby Sweet 50mm lens with me, so I experimented taking different shots with the lens wide open.

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I loved the blur and dreamy focus on the truck, as well as this close-up of the light. 

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One of the things I like about photography is the ability to capture an image of something that might not be there the next time I walk by. If you have favorite subject, take and appreciate each photo you take. I am excited about trying out various lenses to see what I interesting images I can capture of this great truck.

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I love to hear from you, so comment below, post on Camera Walking's Facebook page, or send me an email at carol(at)getmoving.com.  

Take Great Smartphone Photos - A Camera Walking Post

The other day someone reminded me that many people only use their phones to take photos.  Although I primarily use my DSLR, I do use my phone as well, so I searched for tips on how to get great images. 

This video, produced by Mango Street Labs, focuses on 10 tips to improve your results, including good composition, shooting with purpose, and nailing your focus.  Take a few minutes and watch this video to see all of them. It is worth it!

The first tip, minding your horizons, is very important.  I learned this lesson on my first photography workshop when I shared a photo with crooked horizon.  The instructor, who called that out, was right.  Now when I look at people's photos with a crooked horizon I cringe.  There are so many ways to straighten it on your phone.  Here is the photo I took on my Mount Rainier trip with the horizon straighten.

Nailing your focus is also a good tip.  As a friend of mine says, when taking a photo of a person or animal, if you don't get the eyes in focus you didn't get the shot. 

I strongly believe in processing photos once they are out of my camera to achieve the image that I saw when I took it.  That is also true of smartphone photos. There are so many apps available to help you take your fun phone shots to the next level.  I came across this video tutorial by David Cogen of TheUnlockr that focuses on the six best photo editing apps.  I loved it, and hopefully you will as well.

I start with Snapseed to edit my iPhone photos then go to other apps to create the image I want.  These two images are good examples.  I look forward to experimenting with VSCO. 

And if you want to really experiment, here is a video that will give you seven fun photography tricks to try on your phone.

I tried the macro tip with water with some success. I look forward to playing with some of the other ideas.

You can create some great images with your phone if you play with some of these editing and composition tips.  The main point is to have fun, so grab your phone and go out Camera Walking!  We love to hear from you, so comment below, post on our Facebook page, or send us an email.

Pushing Boundaries in 2015

In January we naturally focus on new goals, resolutions, and things that we want to improve in the New Year.  It isn't always easy to keep the inspiration going, so I appreciated this video from one of National Geographic's photographers, Cory Richards.  He communicate,  through his own story and his photographs, the power of pushing boundaries.  Give yourself a treat and watch this 13 minute video, and hopefully you will be inspired, as was I, to set out to push the boundaries this year.  Happy New Year