Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Self-Portrait Journey

As a photographer I prefer to be behind the lens instead of in front of it.

This Spring I took a course on self-portrait photography called Now You. The whole idea behind the course was to get you to feel more comfortable in front of the lens. We started small by taking photos of parts of ourselves. Feet were an easy one to begin with, every girl loves shoes, and even though it was part of me it was still a mostly concealed part of me.

From there we moved up to including a bit more of ourselves...

Finally to the whole body yet still somewhat concealed...

This week we have a "This is ME" challenge on a Flickr group that I am in, so I packed up my gear and gathered my confidence from this past course, and went to my favorite self-portrait place, Kirk Park. I am always fortunate when I go there that there aren't very many people (obviously I don't go in the summer). Self Portraiture is nerve wracking enough, I don't need spectators.

I am sure I was quite the sight lugging my wooden folding chair, tripod, camera and reusable grocery bag filled with my photo props along the path towards the beach. Thankfully the only person that was there when I arrived was a Parks Maintenance guy mowing the grass.

Even on a good day photography can be challenging, getting the White Balance, ISO, exposure and focus just right, trying to nail all that stuff from in front of the lens along with worrying about body position, smile and focus can set a person right over the edge.

My first attempts were frustrating...

I had to get rid of the bright blue coat, way too harsh for the surroundings. I didn't like the pose position. What was I thinking wearing a horizontally striped shirt? I want my stomach to disappear. 

I took a little break from "me" for a little sanity, and photographed the chair...

That was the break I needed to gather my wits about me and move forward. I moved my chair to a new spot, came up with a strategy to cover my "flaws" and began again. I was much happier with how these turned out. The focus is still not perfect, but it was really windy out there, so I think that jiggled the tripod a bit.

Self-portrait photography is an ongoing learning and growing experience. It challenges me in a way that I am not used to being challenged, which is a good thing.

I am using this adventure as my Walk and Click Wednesday link up as well.  Next week I am picking an easier subject :)

Saturday, October 27, 2012

My Photography "Bucket List" - Part 2

Here is the actual "Bucket List" for things I want to photograph.


  • Leelanau Peninsula - Anywhere <3
  • Traverse City - The Village Commons (site of the former State Hospital)
  • Montana - Glacier National Park
  • Maine - Acadia National Park or anywhere along the coast
  • Wisconsin - Door County
  • Wisconsin - Racine and Kenosha (we went there to visit family often when I was a kid)
  • Ottawa County Parks - all of them
  • Alba Highway near Gaylord - some awesome old buildings and fences on this road
  • Barns
  • Old Buildings
  • Architectural Details
  • Bicycles - old fashioned style
  • Fences
  • Stairs
  • Bridges
  • Boats (especially old wooden ones)
  • Shoes (rain boots)
  • Picnic Tables
  • Tea Cups
  • Clothes Lines
  • Docks
  • Sheep by a fence (there are some by my house, need to get this shot)
  • Bird Nests
  • Old Cameras
* Good Sources for PLACES for me are Midwest Living Magazine, Pure Michigan Website, and the National Parks Blog

* Good Sources for THINGS for me is Pinterest

What is one Place or Thing on your Photography Bucket List?

Friday, October 26, 2012

My Photo Bucket List

There has always been a "bucket list" in my head of things that I want to Photography.

I have finally decided it was time to write that list down. I do much better with a visual list of things that I want to accomplish. I am finding that the more I go out and photograph things that there are more things I want to add to the list.

One thing that has been on my mental bucket list for a few years now is Covered Bridges. There are three of them within an hour drive of my house, yet I have never gone to explore them.

Motivated by Lissa Forbes' Walk and Click Wednesdays, I decided that the time had come to go on this adventure. The weather was beautiful for late October in Michigan, sunny and in the 70's.

ADA BRIDGE - The first Covered Bridge is located in Ada a cute historic town and home to the Amway Corporation.

Open only to pedestrian traffic, the 125' Ada Covered Bridge spans the Thornapple River at the town's public park. An act of the legislature in 1867 authorized the Ada Township to borrow up to $3000 for the purpose of building or repairing bridges in the township. This bridge was built about that time, apparently by William Holmes.

The bridge has been threatened by floods a number of times. It is said that farmers used to drive wagons loaded with stones onto the bridge during high water to hold it to the foundation. The bridge closed to automobile traffic in 1930.

When heavy snows collapsed the roof in 1979, the people of Ada mounted an all-out effort to raise funds to restore the bridge. Shortly after the repairs were finished, however, the bridge was completely destroyed by fire. Not to be disheartened, the citizens, with the help of nearby Amway Corporation, once again rallied to the aid of their beloved bridge. The structure standing today is a testament to their perseverance.

* History information source

Fallasburg Bridge - The second Covered Bridge was about a 10 minute drive from the Ada Bridge. This bridge is located in beautiful Fallasburg Park and Historic Village.

The 100 foot, single span Fallasburg Bridge crosses the Flat River five miles north of Lowell. About 1840 the first of several wooden bridges was placed across the Flat River, but all fell victim to high water and massive spring ice jams. Bridge builder Jared N. Bresee of Ada was given the contract in 1871 to build the present structure. Completed at a cost of $1500, the bridge has lattice work trusses made of white pine timbers. Repairs in 1905 and 1945 have kept the Fallasburg Bridge safe for traffic for more than one hundred and twenty five years.

*History information source

Whites Bridge - The third bridge was probably another 10 minutes away. I thought this one had great potential. The rolling scenery leading to it was amazing.

This road turned into a winding gravel road that led deeper and deeper into the Autumn colored woods. And then...disappointment. The bridge itself was beautiful, but the signs in front of it and the neon pink spray paint graffiti on the actual front of the bridge were huge let downs.

When an ice jam on the Flat River in the spring of 1869 demolished the second White's bridge, an inferior structure built for a paltry $250, the people of Smyrna in Ionia County thought to erect something more substantial, even though they had no means of immediate payment.

Jared N. Bresee and Joseph H. Walker took the contract to construct a 120 foot covered bridge on the site, for a deferred payment of $1000 in 1870 and $700 in 1871. The builders used some second-hand lumber for floor planking in an effort to finish the job quickly, but when the commission discovered auger holes, they deducted $25 from the first payment.

Except for occasional siding replacement and a new roof, White's Bridge is much the same today as it was when erected more than a century ago.

* History Source information

I was so happy to cross the Covered Bridges off my "bucket list", but yet I don't think that they are truly crossed off because I want to come back and photography them again in the winter and in the spring, so maybe instead of crossed off they just got repositioned on the bucket list.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Follow Your Passions

Last Wednesday I loaded up my car with my photo props and ventured off for an afternoon of following my passions.

What are my passions? Photography, nature, old buildings and walking in the woods. Photo editing is quickly becoming a passion, three months ago I would never have felt comfortable shooting in RAW, now I prefer it. Oh, what a little knowledge and confidence will do for a girl.

I had no clear destination in mind when I set out Wednesday. But after a quick stop at my parents' house, I found myself drawn to a County park across the river from their house.

When I arrived at the park, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was the only person there. Which was delightful for the sense of peace and quiet, but yet sad, sad that on a beautiful Autumn afternoon no one else felt compelled to get outside and enjoy God's naturally designed masterpiece. 

As I was getting out my fresh from the Farmer's Market pumpkin to set on a bench for some still life shots, an older gentleman pulled into the parking lot on his stylish motorized bicycle.

I noticed him take a snapshot of the Weaver House and I thought to myself "ah, a kindred soul". As I got my tripod out he approached me and we started to talk about photography, cameras and photo editing programs, all subjects near and dear to my heart. This conversation turned to talk about passions and doing the things you really want to do.

He shared with me that he has a passion for taking Conversion Vans and turning them into mini traveling recreational vehicles. He had just seen one for sale and was really having the itch to buy it and  start working on it. I, of course, told him he should do it. Follow your passion!

He also shared with me that would love to take it and travel to Seattle to see a sister and then to San Francisco to see his other sister. He said his wife loves to ride and they have the time to go on this great adventure. So Bob and Mrs. Bob follow your passions and have a great adventure. I want to see some great snapshots when you get back.


Lissa at laf custom designs - for creating Walk and Click Wednesdays - it has been a great motivator for me to take Wednesdays, get outside, go for a walk and take pictures.

Denise at New Mercies I See - for her Three Gifts blog series. It has taught me to look for gifts wherever I am. I don't know if Bob was put there as a gift for me or I was a gift for Bob, but I feel that we both were truly blessed.

Bob - for a wonderful conversation just when I needed it most.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Weaver House - Walk & Click Wednesday

One of my goals for this year that I am 44, is to visit all the county parks in my area. Many of these of I visited in the past but I wanted to purposefully visit them and photographically document my visit.

Today with the news that my dad was going to be going home from the hospital with a fairly clean bill of health after being there overnight with chest pains, a visit to one of these parks was the perfect stress reliever for me.

I didn't intentionally choose Pine Bend Country Park, but that seems to be the way that my car chose to go. It is fairly close to my parents house where I had been earlier in the afternoon.

I have always been fascinated with old buildings and the history surrounding old buildings. The Weaver House was the perfect place to explore this afternoon.

I couldn't find a lot of history on it. I do know that it was built in 1901, along with this house there was also a one story hotel and a small cottage as well as several outbuildings on these grounds. The hotel was frequented by Chicago residents vacationing at the Lake Michigan shore.

The Weaver House is now used as a small banquet facility, able to accommodate up to 50 people. 

I just love the details that abound on the outside of this house:

I almost overlooked this shot on the back steps, but I am so glad that I went back and took it, it is probably one of my favorites of the day.

*Happy to be linking up with Lissa at laf custom designs for Walk and Click Wednesday.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Power Outages Can Be A Gift

Wednesday at 11:30 in the morning I was down in the laundry room busily working on laundry when the lights go down and come back up, this wasn't a flicker it was a slow down and slow back up. This happened twice more and then there was no coming back up.

My original intentions for the day were to go out and do some picture taking before all the colors of Autumn disappeared. Then as the day got started and I was so comfy in my stay at home clothes, and with plenty of things to do around the house, I thought I would just stay home. The weather wasn't so nice, cloudy/rainy, windy and chilly, not weather that makes you want to go out and take pictures.

I waited out the power outage through lunch, and when it still wasn't back on, I figured I could sit in the house with my coat on or I could go out and shoot. Shooting suddenly sounded much more fun. Plus an on-line friend of mine said "maybe you will capture an amazing photo that you would never have caught if the power was on". She told me to see what gift might be waiting for me to recognize and unwrap.

I loaded up the car with my tripod and camera, hat and mittens and set off. I have had in my head lately to go to Hofma Nature Preserve in Grand Haven. We haven't been there in quite a few years, but I remember the lovely boardwalk, well marked trails, and figured the colors would be lovely.

Landscape Photography is not my favorite, but I said to myself that I was just going to go with the flow and use this time to practice. I might not like much of what I shot but it would give me some more pictures to edit in Lightroom and just help in training my eye in what I want to shoot.

The colors were lovely and the trails well maintained delights. I had no real plan for my hike, I just turned this way and then decided to go that way. After turning down a heavily wooded trail with lots of big pine trees, I saw something big and brown take off from the forest floor. As my eyes trailed it, I had a hope that it might be an owl, as the big brown thing landed on a branch not too far away, lo and behold it was an owl. My friend was right, there was a gift waiting me for unwrap.

In all the hiking that we do, I have only seen an owl a couple of times, so this was a rare treat. I got a few shots of him before he flew away, they aren't that great, but the memory is priceless.

The peace and serenity that I felt for the rest of the hike was wonderful. Just wandering in the woods, looking for gifts to unwrap.

Linking up with Lissa at laf custom designs just in the nick of time...