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: 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!

Celebrating a Record…

Well, it’s official: it’s been a record-breaking year for snowfall amounts in New England! Yipee.

Last winter, I shared my thoughts on The Art of Snow Shoveling. This year, after one particularly deep snowfall, I was out shoveling (duh!) when I thought how little my previous advice applied while standing in two or more feet of snow! And I thought, “It’s hard to be methodical when the snow is three feet deep!” The following poem was born. I thought I’d share it on this record-breaking occasion…

Help! I’m Caught in a Snow Drift!

It’s hard to be methodicalapple tree 858
when the snow is three feet deep;
I’ve been shoveling in circles
and can’t seem to find my feet!

I swear they were there at the end of my legs
only a minute ago,
but now I can’t see nor feel them —
I’m numb from hip to toe.

I wonder, will someone notice
the pathway that I shoveled?
I tried to call for help just now,
but the sound was somewhat muffled.

The wind is blowing sideways
and my scarf has frozen flat.
Perhaps they’ll spy the pom-pom
on my smartly knitted hat.

I could use a sip of cocoa
or a nip of something stronger,
for I may be a “hearty New Englander,”
but I can’t take this much longer!

Wait, I see light; maybe someone’s coming
to rescue me somehow.
They’re coming closer, hallelujah!
Oh, crap, it’s only a plow!

cvb 2015

The Art of Snow Shoveling

DSC_0202Regret is an unfortunate side effect of twenty-five years of parenting. I definitely could have done some things differently. For example, I regret not insisting more often that my kids help with the snow shoveling. That’s how I was raised: if you’ve got two arms and two legs, then you’d better get yourself outside and start working! Maybe that’s exactly why I didn’t. Anyway, most of the time I just couldn’t be bothered with the extra effort it took to request, demand, coax, and threaten them. So, between my parents’ resolve and my own stubborn approach (it’s easier to just do it myself than to ask for help) I’ve had plenty of experience with a snow shovel.

Here in New England, there seems to be little consistency in the weather from winter to winter. Some years, we get to April and are still wondering when winter’s going to start. Other years, like this one, we get pummeled week after week for months on end. And, of course, it’s the first winter without a single kid living under our snow-covered roof. For the first time, I’ve actually entertained the idea of owning a snow blower. But not really. Shoveling’s good exercise. At least, that’s what I tell myself. And there’s a bit of a mental challenge to the task, as well. That got me thinking, as I attacked a fresh blanket of snow the other day, about what jewels of wisdom I could bestow on those less experienced (like my own kids).

#1 Divide and Conquer

A foot of snow in a driveway that can squeeze 6 cars during a street-parking ban may be daunting. But if you employ the divide and conquer strategy, as one might with any of life’s overwhelming obstacles, the task can be broken down into manageable pieces. Begin by parting the area down the middle. Push the snow away from the center, toward the edges. Then scoop it up and throw. If it’s heavy, wet stuff, instead of light, fluffy stuff, you may need to part it into thirds or even smaller portions. The point is it’s doable when taken in small doses. Don’t give up.

#2 Listen to Your Heart

If all that hard work gets your heart pounding, take a breather. Literally. Stand still and enjoy the view. Lean on that shovel, take a few slow, deep breaths and watch the snow fall. Nothing will be accomplished if you end up face down in a snowdrift. So, stop for a moment and reminisce about that snow fort you built when you were a kid — the one that made you feel like you were a lone explorer in the great frozen wilderness. Savor the muffled silence that a blanket of snow creates in a loud and busy world. Wait for your heart to slow down a little before you dig in again. It’ll be worth it in the end.

#3 Work With Nature

If it snows all day, don’t wait until it’s over to tackle the shoveling. It’s easier to clear 4 inches now and 4 inches later, than 8 inches all at once even later. And your back (or arms or knees or wrists or whatever body parts that regularly protest) will thank you.

If you’ve waited until the day after the storm to finish the clean-up and the sun is shining, let it work for you. If your significant other had to drive over those last few inches of snow to get to work, leaving packed tire tracks in his wake, don’t exert a lot of needless energy scraping to bare pavement. Remove what’s easy and let the sun do its job. Come back to the nicely melted patches later. Smile and appreciate the power of the sun.

#4 Think Ahead

If it’s only December, fling that snow as far as you’re able. It’s mighty difficult to heave it up and over six-foot snow banks in February! (Especially if you’re only five feet tall!)

Don’t put off ’til tomorrow… Tomorrow might bring rain, turning it all to slush; or a 5-degree day, making it a driveway full of pretty white concrete; or tomorrow may bring MORE SNOW!  (Is it spring yet?)

I could go on. No, really, I could. There’d be “Choose Your Weapon,” spouting advice on choosing the right shovel for the job. And “Do Unto Others,” encouraging you to be extra helpful to that next door neighbor when she’s stuck ( I mean her car is stuck!) in a snowbank and maybe her son will offer to use his plow to clear out the end of your driveway. You get the picture.  I’m sure some of you who are more experienced shovelers could even add your own tidbits of advice. In the meantime, hopefully a relatively short meantime, happy shoveling!