Photo Project: Wrap-up…

At the end of January 2015, I began this Photo Project. Now, I end with a few last photos and a bit of wisdom garnered from the experiment. Check out my first Photo Project post here. Or you can click on the Kitchen Window tab at the top of this page and scroll…all…the…way…to…the…bottom.

In my previous post, snow had arrived after higher than normal temperatures for Christmas Day. December’s snow almost disappeared by the second week in January.

Pardon the general fuzziness of these first photos…I’d been experimenting with new filters that I got for Christmas and must have left the camera on Manual Focus. Oops!

Then the snow came again…

and began to fade…again.

It snowed a few days later…but that was outside the scope of this project.

What I Learned…

My goal in all of this was to grow in my understanding of photography and to learn more about my camera in particular.  And I did…(while learning a few things about myself along the way). For example, I discovered:

I could choose my subject more carefully next time.

The scene outside my window is peaceful. But that translated into boring when I was hoping for a measure of entertainment! The birds and other wildlife didn’t show up much. And facing northeast at sunrise misses a lot of light and color happening just a few degrees to the right. Oh, well!

There are a lot of settings on my camera!

I’m fairly certain that the settings I ended the project with are not the ones I started out using a year ago. I’d make setting adjustments for other photographic endeavors and then forget to adjust back. Or I’d forget what the previous setting even was! This was definitely not what you’d call a controlled experiment. 🙂 I did learn a bit about the different “white balance” effects this way!

Remotely triggering the shutter is possible and easy.

The last time I “remotely” triggered a shutter, I was using a cable release. The shutter release button on my D3200 isn’t an open hole lined with threads to screw in a cable release. I didn’t know what to do. But I took the easy steps necessary to find a handy little remote device made for my camera and voila! (I should mention that when I first received the remote, I couldn’t get it to work. I complained to the seller and then poked around inside it, digging out a small piece of plastic that had slipped between the battery and the contacts, fixing the problem instantly.)

Change is not as gradual as I thought.

I expected to capture all the subtle changes of the seasons. What I found instead, were long weeks of sameness and then (Bam!) a frenzied week of change! The melting snow at the end of spring suggested a gradual change, but then I went on vacation for a week in May and came back to a fully greened landscape. The autumn colors seemed subtle at first, but then, within a week or two, they were blazing. And within a couple of rainy, windy days, all the leaves came down! The mild temperatures in the fall kept the grass fairly green…until it was all white with snow. In the past, I would’ve chalked up the sudden changes to my not really paying attention. Now, I know…all I have to do is blink!

A year is a long time…and a short time.

I found myself resenting the self-imposed mandate towards the end of the year. As a result, I got lazy. I’d “forget” to stop in the middle of getting breakfast or I’d decide that my sleep was more important and I’d stay in bed past 7:30am. But now, I can’t believe I did it for a whole year already! I won’t be starting another yearlong project anytime soon. I think shorter photographic experiments are in order this year. So, it’s a wrap!

And that about sums it up. Thanks for checking in. 🙂




Photo Project: First Snow…

Mild temperatures here in New England made November and December feel more like an early spring than a precursor to winter. On Christmas Day, it reached sixty degrees (Fahrenheit)! The wind blew the leaves around quite a bit, but no snow fell.

Can you see our lovely raking job in November between the first and second photos above? If you look closely at the second one, you’ll spy one of many leaf piles waiting to be bagged…or jumped into. ; ) The last photo shows how green the lawn remained, even at the end of November, due to the moderate temps.

Instead of snow, we had plenty of rain! The combination of wet weather and mild temps resulted in a few foggy mornings.

Then, finally, on December 29th, it snowed.

It wasn’t much snow. And you can see that it’s fading away – on the lawn anyway. Today, January 5th, New England weather caught up to the calendar and the temperature plummeted. It was 12 degrees when I took that final photo above.

Maybe it really is winter…we’ll see how much more snow there is to come. This project will wrap up at the end of January with a few last photographs and a list of what I’ve learned (or what I’d do differently next time:)).

To those of you in this Northern hemisphere…Have a Wonderful Winter!!! (And the rest of you, enjoy the sun!)

Photo Project: Summer Into Fall…

It’s been a while since my last installment of this Photo Project. Life got busy and the trees, well, they stayed green all summer!

The scene outside my window didn’t change much, but I think some of the settings on my camera may have been altered. (Oops!) I went on vacation, probably tweaked some settings and then couldn’t remember the original ones. As a result, the color differences in the August and September photos above may be technical and not physical. Oh, well! Live and learn.

In October, I dare say that the subtle foliage changes were a bit disappointing. The maple tree on the left side of this view usually explodes in a brilliant red every autumn. But I don’t think it ever fully recovered from that worm attack in the spring.

Its ragged leaves managed a rusty red, while the trees just to the right of my chosen view showed off their own magic!

But, back to the scene I chose to observe…

From mid-October until the last week of the month, the colors morphed. (Pardon my lens hood crowding the corners!)

Then, on October 29th, it happened: FALL!!!

As the calendar turned to November, the wind took more and more leaves down, stripping most of the trees bare.

The end of the year brings with it the promise of trees covered in snow and ice. I’ll keep shooting and wrap up this project in January 2016, bringing it full circle from the blizzard of January 27, 2015 seen in my first Photo Project entry.

In the meantime, I’ve got some leaves to rake…


Photo Project: Now That’s Green!

Another month of taking (almost) daily photos of the scene beyond my kitchen window has passed. To view the beginning of this project, click here or choose the “Kitchen Window” tab above.

The first of May looked exactly like the end of April. But by May 5th…can you see all the little green buds?!

And two days later, the green was multiplying. Compare May 7th and May 10th, below…

And THEN… I went on vacation for a week! You can read all about it in Biking, Birding, and Brews: A Vermont Vacation. Can you guess what I found when I returned home? A whole, heck of a lot of green…

And by the end of the month, it was so thick that the rising sun couldn’t peek through any more, causing a lot more shadows than I was expecting. Sadly, the maple tree on the left also started showing signs of the same worm-attack that practically defoliated my young apple trees while I was on vacation.

I don’t expect much of a change in the scene for a few months. Green is green. 🙂 But I’ll keep taking photos and post more of them sometime during the summer. In the meantime, enjoy the view!

Photo Project: Spring Greening…

As the temperatures in April crept above freezing, the view from my kitchen window began to take on the greenish hue of spring. Of course, first I got to watch the last remnants of snow shrivel into nothingness…

Then, the grass began its greening. The trees, on the other hand, almost looked like autumn, with their rusty reds and yellowy-greens…

On April 19th, I had just finished taking my daily series of photos and was about to close the window when I heard loud rustling in the woods. Four white-tailed deer entered stage-right (in other words, from the street on your left). I grabbed my camera (still attached vertically to my tri-pod!) to zoom in on them, but they eluded any good shot. If you blow up the April 19 scene, you’ll see a couple of them approaching…

By the end of April, the grass had regained its brilliance…

and the trees were budding!

Check out my previous posts in this photo project by clicking on the “Kitchen Window” tab above.

Photo Project: The Disappearing Act…

As winter turns to spring, the view from my kitchen window shows promise. The solid blanket of snow has turned to patches and the landscape has transformed from white to brownish-green. The following photos document the official end of winter…

I was away from home for that first weekend of spring. Then, the early spring rains and occasional above-freezing temperatures during the remainder of March jump-started a disappearing act. Note the receding snow line in the photos below…

What’s most exciting, but not visible in these shots, are the swelling buds on bushes and trees. But it’s happening! Really!

Photo Project: Spring Is In Sight…

Every morning, between 6:30 and 7:30 am, I’ve been photographing the same scene outside the window above my kitchen sink. I’ve dubbed the project Kitchen Window.

With the turning of the calendar page to March, the morning light has increased a bit each day and I actually took some of the following photos before 6 am. I know that was before my chosen time slot, but the light was waking me earlier each day. I also decided to switch my constant aperture from F16 to F22.

Then came Daylight Savings Time…the clocks sprang ahead an hour and so did the sunrise.

Evidently, ten minutes can make quite a difference in the amount of available light around sunrise. Should I shorten my chosen window of time? Maybe. Will I? We’ll see…

In the meantime, the snow is melting. The trees are thinking about budding and I look forward to capturing the transition into spring, one day at a time.

Photo Project 2015: Update

A few photos from the first weeks of my photo project: Kitchen Window:

I’m having fun playing with shutter speeds to see what gives the best effect for the light available on each day. And it seems to be snowing every other day, which makes things interesting!

OK – So, I slept in on the 20th! But the sky was such a clear blue that I had to take a shot…

Next time I check in, Daylight Savings Time may have begun. What to do about that? Hmm…

Photo Project: Final Decision…?

Hi there!

So, on February 5th, I took several photos of the view from my kitchen sink window. Since January 26th I’ve been playing with photographing that scene daily — defining and refining the parameters of the project I’ve dubbed “Kitchen Window”. (See Museum-worthy Inspiration to see what inspired me to try this.) So far, I’d decided to use my digital camera set on F16, recording images as JPEG Fine, with a focal length of about 21mm. The shutter speed has been and will continue to be varied. I just hadn’t nailed down the exact time each day when I would take the photo(s).

Anyway, on Feb. 5th, I took a couple of pictures just before 6:50 am:

What a pretty pre-dawn, impending-snowstorm blue!

Twenty minutes later, I took another with the exact same aperture and shutter speed as the one above right:

10 seconds @ F16

10 seconds @ F16

Twenty minutes later and there was a lot more light! So, I adjusted the shutter speed. This one was also taken at about 7:10 am:

1/2 second @ F16

1/2 second @ F16

I thought I was done for the day, but then the snow came! I had to take another just after 9am:

1/20 second @ F16

1/20 second @ F16

So, the time of morning has quite an impact on the results! The question is what do I want my results to reflect? Robert Weingarten, in his project, 6:30AM, wanted to show the changing light and colors that eluded the naked eye but could be captured on film. That’s why he wanted to be so precise with his timing. I’d like to capture those, too, but I’d also like to observe the changing of the seasons and the beauty of the early morning light.

I’m usually up by 6:30 am, but I didn’t want to commit to that time every day, so I’ve decided to choose a window of time (apropos?) instead. I’ll try to take a few photos of the scene every day (that I’m home) between 6:30 and 7:30 am. (Would you believe that it’s started to be one of the first things I think of when I wake up in the morning?) We’ll see what happens with the light when daylight savings time starts. But for now, I think that’ll work. And I’ll try to keep it up for the rest of 2015. Of course I won’t post every single photo, but I hope to pick at least one or two a week to share. Stayed tuned…and thanks for checking in…

BTW, I’m curious – has anyone else got a photo project going this year? I’d love to hear about it!

Photo Project: Step Three…

Well, I’ve continued to take several photos every day of the same scene — the one I can see from my kitchen sink window. My inspiration for the experiment came by way of a museum exhibition of Robert Weingarten’s photographs, taken every morning at 6:30 AM. See my earlier post, Museum-worthy Inspiration.

In Step Two, I tried to set some parameters: digital camera, ISO 100, JPEG Fine, focal length ~21mm, and a possible aperture of F11. All of the above were taken at F11. Eventually, I took a few at F16 instead and decided to make that my constant aperture. The only real decision left was time of day.

Now, Weingarten chose precisely 6:30AM for his project, as measured by a quartz clock that he owned. I’ve set the clock in my camera to be fairly accurate. But what time should I really choose for my project? Here’s the sticky point. At this stage of my life, my health is more important to me than any obsessive adventure I might embark upon. That being said, I’m not going to set an alarm clock just to take a photo! (Picture me sticking my tongue out at my past self!) When my kids were young, I’d jump out of bed to a 4:50am alarm, just to have enough time to exercise, shower, dress, and have some quiet time before they got up. I functioned, but not very well. I’ve finally learned the value of taking care of myself and sleep has become a priority. Although I still consider myself a morning person, if I’m up late at night, I’m still going to aim for seven or eight hours of quality sleep.

So, I tried a few photos in the afternoon instead.

The view faces north, so it catches the light of both sunrise and sunset. But sunset can vary by several hours as the seasons change. And it’s much less likely that I’d be home every afternoon than every morning. The project needs consistency. So, in the end, I settled on morning for my project.

But what time of morning? In my next post, I’ll show you the fun I had on Feb. 5th taking photos from about 6:45am to 9am. And I’ll share my decision about time…