Week 19: Day-to-Day | 2017 Project 52

This really wasn’t a good week for me to try and photograph any kind of day-to-day routine because I was off work for three days. For a stay-cation at that. Because I hate working when the rest of the city is out partying and having a hoot of a time at Churchill Downs. I only went to the track on Wednesday… but I was off the rest of the time… and there were zero routines.

Hell, on Thursday I didn’t even take a shower. But I did what every person says they want to do on a cold, rainy day. That’s right. Kept my butt in pajamas, wrapped myself in a cozy blanket, and read books and watched movies all day long. It was glorious and I wouldn’t give those hours back for anything.

But come Monday… I got back into a routine… and back in the shower.


Settings: f/4.0, 1/60 sec, 35mm, ISO 1250
Camera and Lens: Canon EOS 5D Mark III with Canon EF35mm f/1.4L USM

I was torn on what to try to capture, so I took all kinds of photos of completely boring stuff. Like laundry. And piles of work notes. And a bowl of Cheerios. Even a doggin who refuses to not be my shadow. But my bathroom photos were my favorite.

Mike took an awesome photo of me blow drying my hair last August when I was shooting a DITL for a workshop and I wanted to see what I could capture on my own this time. Unfortunately, the deaf dog did not hear me drying my hair (Get it? Deaf dog joke! Never gets old!), I set up my timer for ten seconds and just dried it like I normally would.

What I like about this image is that my robe is in focus while the slower shutter is catching the movement of my out-of-focus hair. The cabinet on the left balances the dark tile on the right, and there’s lines running along the background of the image. I did convert it to black and white because the light in the bathroom was heinous, but it picks up the textures of the objects a little differently than the colored version did.

I’ve had a lot of bad self-portraits, but this series turned out nice. No complaints here.

Week 20: Anonymous Portrait
due 05.17.17

A portrait without a face leads to an imaginative story. So what kind of story do you want to tell?

This week we’ll be taking portraits of people, but we’ll be more inventive in how we photograph them. An anonymous portrait is one where the subject’s identity is hidden; usually their face is turned away from the camera or blocked somehow, making it anonymous. You can focus on another body part, like their hands or feet or back. (I ask that we keep it clean as we have a “safe rating” on Flickr and unsavory images will be removed.) Play around with lighting and see if there’s a way to hide someone’s identity by creating shadows or shooting a silhouette. Or find a prop that lends itself to your theme.

If you’d like some inspiration, I recommend the Anonymous Portraits Flickr Group – the photos vary from documentary to highly artistic and it might be a good source to help you get some gears turning.

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!

Convert a Purse Into a Camera Bag

I am picky when it comes to camera bags. Or, as I prefer to call them, camera purses. But I’ve bought a few different brands over the years for the different cameras and lenses I’ve owned. Lately though I’m wanting a smaller bag, one that I can just fit one camera with a lens attached, that looks unassuming so I can take my camera to the office with me regularly.

I have a larger bag that holds all my equipment. I have a smaller bag that only holds my one camera, but it looks like a camera bag. I have a backpack too, which is great for traveling or doing a lot of walking. And I have a messenger bag that I recently sold because I never really used it. But none of those are what I’m wanting right now. I have an idea of what I’d like and I actually found a bag that works… they just don’t have a color that I like and I refuse to spend that kind of money on something I’m not in love with. So I decided to try something different.

I purchased a shockproof, padded camera bag insert with the hopes of finding a purse I like to convert it into a camera bag. My Canon camera and 35mm lens fit in it perfectly and I was really happy with how it all worked out so nicely — and for not a lot of money. But then I was on the hunt for a purse… and carried this insert with me into four stores to see if it would fit.

I got really lucky at Target, y’all! I’d actually seen this grey bag online months ago thinking it was cute. Lo and behold, the padded insert fit inside it perfectly. (There was a lot of perfect going on.) And again, for not a lot of money. Although… I was surprised that the Target purse cost as much as it did ($40), but that’s still A LOT less than what I was shopping around for before this idea struck.

So now I have an anonymous looking purse that I can stuff my big camera into. As well as my wallet, keys, sunglasses and some extra memory cards. I really like how it turned out… but it isn’t perfect. (Perfection is never meant to last.)

Yep — there are some cons. For starters, the shoulder strap is far too narrow and tends to dig into my shoulder when it’s weighted down with a full load. I thought a good fix would be a shoulder strap pad (thank you again, Amazon), but it’s not a foolproof fix. Also, the purse was not created to hold a lot of weight. Even though it is large and lots of women could fill it up and make it heavy as hell with all the normal things we tend carry around… it is not designed for that. I’m already seeing a bit of wear from where the shoulder strap hooks on the bag; the threads that hold it to the bag are beginning to stretch more than I’d like it to.

The wear is going to happen regardless, but this is why a normal purse isn’t a great to convert to a camera bag. And I didn’t consider that before I ventured down this road. So I’ve come to the conclusion that this fix is temporary. I’ll continue to use it as I long as I feel comfortable, but if the integrity of the bag is compromised, I’ll likely stop using it to tote my camera. A plus is that I do have a cute new purse no matter what.

Now that the Kelly Moore “Kate” Messenger bag is sold, I’ll be searching for a new camera purse that is made for toting cameras and is more my style. Fingers crossed they have the size and color I want… otherwise I might just keep waiting.

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.