Week 18: Imperfect | 2017 Project 52

I took a day trip on Saturday with my mom to visit my brother who lives in Jasper, Indiana. What is usually a quick hour and half drive down I-64 turned into messy adventure. The region had received so much rain Friday night that roads were flooded, including the interstate. So we hopped off at Tell City, headed north and plugged the address into the GPS. (Thank you, technology, for being amazing.) But once we hit the junction to head to Jasper, that road was flooded too. We ended up getting back on the interstate going west, taking the next exit and driving through a completely different town to get to our destination.

We did eventually arrive. Safely. And getting home was much easier. But if I wasn’t driving, I would have taken so many pictures of that situation!

It’s not safe to photog and drive though.

What the extra drive time did offer was more one-on-one with my mom. We talked about everything and eventually ended up talking about relationships on our [thankfully] uneventful ride home. And it made me start to think about internal imperfections… what makes me me… what makes my relationships what they are… how we all fit together.

Settings: f/8.0, 1/200 sec, 70mm, ISO 3200
Camera and Lens: Canon EOS 5D Mark III with Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8

A perfect marriage is just two imperfect people who refuse to give up on each other.

We’re human. We make mistakes. We have habits that drive the other nuts. We piss each other off. We embarrass one another occasionally. We work long hours which can spawn short fuses. We disagree. We are not perfect. Far from it.

But on the other side of that same coin…

We support one another in several ways. We lend an ear and offer advice. We provide comfort. We cheer each other on. We stand side-by-side everyday and honor a promise we made to each other. And while every day is not perfect and some days even feel like tests, I love Mike Murphy with all my heart. He is my partner, my other half, my northern star, and later this month we’ll be celebrating 13 years of marriage.

And these are our rings that are about to turn 13 years old. Ancient Greeks believed that circles were the perfect shape, but these rings have become worn, scratched, discolored, but remain on our fourth finger everyday to remind us of the commitment we made to one another.

Marriage is not all puppies and rainbows, people. You both have to put in time and effort; even in the relationships that look easy, those couples work for it. People change over time, we learn along the way, find new things to share… the journey itself is what makes it worth while.

Week 19: Day-to-Day
due 05.10.17

We all live day-by-day and while it may not be fascinating to us, we all do something different that sets us apart. It could be our job, a certain routine we practice, habits we’ve adopted (good and bad), roles that we fall into, chores that need to be done… whatever it is, it’s something that happens almost everyday in your life. The trick is taking something that feels mundane to us and photographing it in a way that makes it interesting to other people.

Keep your cameras close by this week, or even use your phone camera in case an idea strikes as you go about your day. It might sound easy to just snap a photo or two of your routine, but you may be surprised how often you second guess yourself. Or how often you have a-ha moments!

Bonus Challenge: Whatever day-to-day thing you’ve decided to photograph, consider your composition before you press the shutter button. Take five images of the same object/scene, but move around to get different perspectives and framing. Definitely share your favorite image with the Flickr group, but I also encourage to create a mosaic of all five pictures and submit it to the group too!

If you post your images on Instagram or any other social media, use the hashtag #2017project52 so that we can find your work and give it some love!
Have questions about 2017 Project 52? You can find more about it here or in the Flickr group description. Please join us!

Wendipants - Brooke, everything about this is spot on. My aunt and uncle are celebrating their 50th anniversary this month and I’ve been thinking about the work that went into that achievement…it’s no small task but the love outweighs the imperfection.

Kentucky Derby Bourbon Balls | On The Menu

The following recipe for Kentucky Derby Bourbon Balls originally appeared on August 6, 2009 on my old blog, Shutterboo.com.

It’s that time of year again. When strangers come together to celebrate race horses doing what they do best. While the ponies run, the people are enveloped in merriment. The Kentucky Derby is celebrated with food, with drinks, with friends, with cheers… the city parties for two weeks, y’all. And one of my favorite treats of the season (or really any time of year) are bourbon balls.

My mom shared her recipe with me and we made them together for a few years until I learned how to do it on my own. I got confident and even submitted bourbon balls into the Kentucky State Fair a couples years. (Spoiler: I didn’t place. I have a theory that it’s rigged.) And my mom continues to be known to hand over her homemade confections when saying thanks or congratulating someone. They are so good that people request them. Nom nom nom.

What I’m saying is you don’t have to buy bourbon balls wrapped with ribbon in a cellophane box. You can make them at home, share them with your friends and hear them gush about how good they are. And you can say, “It’s no big deal! They just taste that good because they’re made with love!” Because this candy recipe is not hard. Takes a little time, but not hard.

Rich chocolate surrounding a soft, sweet center that has a wonderful bite of bourbon. You know you want them.

Kentucky Derby Bourbon Balls

– 1 stick of butter
– 1 ½ boxes of confectioner sugar
– ½ cup of bourbon (I’ve used Maker’s Mark and Heaven Hill green label – they honestly taste the same)
– pecans pieces
– chocolate (Nestle semi-sweet chocolate chips do the job nicely)
1. Let pecan pieces soak in bourbon while creaming the butter and sugar.
2. Then mix in the bourbon/pecan mixture thoroughly.
3. Form into bite-size balls. You may have to refrigerate the mixture so that it doesn’t stick and will form more easily.
4. Refrigerate balls (they get gooey if left in room temp).
5. Melt chocolate with a little paraffin wax in a double boiler.
6. Dip balls in chocolate, return to wax paper and top with pecan half.
7. Consume and allow your taste buds to do a happy dance.

Barbara Brewer - Love the variety of recipes,!

Week 17: Macro Photography | 2017 Project 52

I hadn’t tried macro photography until last year — and I got hooked. I didn’t become obsessed with it enough to look into a macro lens, but every time I saw flowers I had this urge to take my 50mm lens, reverse it and get super up close and personal. I’ve gotten a few favorites with my second try after some flowers had dried out (these photos might be hanging in my bathroom now), but I just keep trying new things as I see them.

I had five different plants to test drive for this week’s challenge. A couple of weeds growing next to our house and some of the greenery that is planted in our front flowerbed. I had expectations… but those were thrown out the window early on because I am clearly out of practice. But I went with the flow, tried different ways to photograph the same plants I’d brought inside. And I ended up with one that surprised me.

Settings: f/–, 1/320 sec, 50mm, ISO 1600
Camera and Lens: Canon EOS 5D Mark III with Canon EF50mm f/1.2L USM

This is a leaf from one of the nandinas (sacred bamboo) in my front yard. It stays green all year round and some leaves turn red, either a bright glowing red or deep maroon. The color is what made me want to photograph it.

Like I said, I don’t have a macro lens, so I fake it by removing my 50mm lens, turning it around and then hold it up to the camera body. It’s a tricky technique because the ISO controls the light and auto-focus doesn’t work; there’s a lot of slight movements and holding of breath. My arms got tired after just a couple minutes of it.

This image is pretty soft focused, but you can tell just how small the depth of field is with this macro photography technique; only a small area, just to the left of the centered brown spot near the tip is in focus. But sharp or not, I still like the photo. I like how I was able to frame the leaf, with the tip being centered on the right side. The vein carries your eye across the leaf and a bright red and yellow leak into the otherwise green surface. It’s so cool to see something I would consider so small and insignificant this up close, because that change in perspective makes me crave more of it.

Week 18: Imperfect
due 05.03.17

“In nature, nothing is perfect and everything is perfect. Trees can be contorted, bent in weird ways, and they’re still beautiful.” –Alice Walker

No living thing is perfect. No circumstance is perfect. And as much as we strive for it, sometimes it’s better to accept that nothing will ever be perfect. But because we’re surrounded by people, places, things, and situations that are imperfect doesn’t mean that they are ugly or insignificant.

Another prompt that can be defined in many different ways, so I encourage you to write down your ideas and try to photograph the ones that intrigue you the most. When you approach your subject, consider the story you’re wanting to tell and photograph it at different points of views and with different apertures. Look beyond the surface of whatever it is and allow yourself to explore.

If you post your images on Instagram or any other social media, use the hashtag #2017project52 so that we can find your work and give it some love!
Have questions about 2017 Project 52? You can find more about it here or in the Flickr group description. Please join us!

Macro – Butterfly Season - […] I knew, though, what I wanted to take a picture of as soon as I saw this week’s theme. I do not know much about Macro photography, but luckily my old camera has a Macro Focus. The MIL camera might have something, but so far in my practice with it, I have not found a Macro setting. I also was not very comfortable with the idea of removing the lens and faking the Macro like Mrs. Brooke. […]

Yves Gagné - It’s a great idea this 52 weeks project. After a while you tend to get lazy or take the same shots over and over, and that i don’t want. So taking part in this group is just refreshing and motivating.
Thank you.

Brooke - I’m happy to hear you’re enjoying the photo group, Yves! And I agree, it is a good way to keep your wheels turning and encouragement to try new things with your photography. So glad that you found it and are having fun!

Your photo this week of the lily, where you could see the pollen on the stamen – it was wonderful. Can’t wait to see more of your work and I look forward to seeing how you interpret our “imperfect” theme this week.

Doggin Love No. 32 | I’m Not Looking At You

It’s been a LONG time since I posted some doggin love.

I took some pictures of my deaf dog, the BDD, just the other day and she would not look at the camera. At all. Not once. So I have a little series to share.

“I’m not looking at you. Not looking. Nope, nope, nope.” She is the goofiest dog in the world.

Happy Friday, y’all!

Week 16: Unexpected | 2017 Project 52

While the beginning of this challenge, nothing of mention was happening… nothing unexpected… but that sure did turn around on Saturday.

Mike and I had plans to go to UofL’s spring game to watch the red and white scrimmage. We tailgated for a bit. Went to the game, sat in the fancy seats in the Brown & Williamson Club. Left the game to go to The Granville. Swung by the fraternity house to see if his key still worked. (It did.) Then ended up at home where we took the longest naps ever.

It was a whirlwind of an afternoon and so much fun. But it didn’t stop.

We got a call at 9pm to join some neighbors up the road. I was still tired as hell, but Mike wanted to go and I’m glad he forced me out the door. We ended up seated between six of our neighbors, finding our second wind, and having a blast just laughing it up. But the unexpected kept coming.


Settings: auto –  f/2.2, 1/10 sec, 31mm, ISO 2000
Camera and Lens: Samsung Galaxy s5 

I totally used my cell phone this week! We have a burn pile in the middle of our neighborhood, probably 100 yards from anyone’s house but visible from all back doors. And with a mild night without wind and a fire chief in our midst, the group voted that the pile burn that night. While three of stayed back in the safety of a back porch, the others marched out into the darkness and got to work.

I honestly didn’t want to leave the back porch. As much as I love bonfires, I had come across a [dead] snake earlier that afternoon in our backyard and the idea of walking through ankle-high grass… well, that snake had to come from somewhere, didn’t it?

The stack of branches didn’t burn well as it was too green, so the group gave up an hour into it but they had fun while it lasted — and happened to pick up a couple of strays as well. We have a great group neighbors, so any time we spend with them is a good time. Even when it’s unexpected.

Week 17: Macro Photography
due 04.26.17

Macro photography is a new love of mine. I don’t own a macro lens, so I actually fake it — and I’m going to tell you how in case you don’t have a macro lens either! True macro photography requires a lens that will capture an image at a 1:1 or 1:5 ratio, meaning that you will get a life-size magnification. But you can get creative with gear that you already have and achieve a similar effect.

The way I prefer to shoot macro is to do a reverse lens with my 50mm. (You can read about my first try with macro photography here.) You simply detach your 50mm lens from the camera and flip it around holding it up to the camera body. You’ll definitely want to secure your camera around your neck and steady your arm that’s holding the lens; the slightest movement will change your focus. (My arms always get tired, so your elbows will become your best friends.) The best way to control the image is to control the light with your ISO — you won’t be able to set an aperture or shutter speed with your lens detached. And auto-focus won’t work either. So be patient, keep trying even after you get frustrated… and I bet you’ll be surprised with what you’re able to capture.

Another way to achieve a nice macro photo is to use the macro mode on a point-and-shoot camera or even your cell phone. Most offer this setting and it can be a lot of fun to experiment with.

And the final cheat: take a close-up of your subject with a zoom lens and crop the image.

If you want to do some reading to learn more about macro photography, I’ve included some links below:
Introduction to Macro Photography
Understanding Magnification
Macro Photography (Or Have to Fake It)
25 Beautiful Macro Photography Shots

If you post your images on Instagram or any other social media, use the hashtag #2017project52 so that we can find your work and give it some love!
Have questions about 2017 Project 52? You can find more about it here or in the Flickr group description. Please join us!