Monday, May 31, 2010

Savoring the Sunshine

I was raised in Pensacola, Florida, a community located smack dab on the Gulf Coast. Growing up, there was always access to plenty of sunshine and water. We had warm-to-hot weather for about three quarters of the year, so "summer" extended beyond the constraints of three months.

This year, the D.C. Area (where I now reside) experienced record-breaking snow. But for the fact that I had to go to work, I would've hid in an underground heat-filled passage during the cold months, appearing again only upon the receipt of a green twig hand delivered by a little birdie. Needless to say, this year's brutal winter (my first here) left me miserable. However, just as I couldn't take it anymore, the sunshine appeared. Slowly but surely, the snow melted and buds that were once beneath the surface, began to burst into blossoms.

Now the first days of summer are here, and I am savoring the sunshine in all her splendor. To celebrate the advent of the solstice, I hit the road for Annapolis, Maryland. Its old-town charm and water-front location bear some semblance to home. And while there's no place like home, until I can get there, I'll let Annapolis serve as a friendly reminder of the summery place I long for . . . .

- C. Marie

On Location: Vietnam Memorial

In celebration of Memorial Day, I spent a couple hours at the Vietnam Memorial. I encountered many touching moments as I wandered around the grounds of the monument. After paying my respects, I snapped a few shots in an attempt to capture the moment. I felt honored to be among America’s heroes and extremely thankful for all who have served this country.

Happy Memorial Day

- S. Christine

“It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived” — General George S. Patton

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Experimenting with Bokeh Photography Techniques

The word bokeh comes from the Japanese word for “blur”. It refers to the way in which the lens renders out of focus points of light. This technique, produced by adjusting the aperture setting to a low F-Stop number (larger aperture), blurs all but the main point of focus of the picture.


In this first example, aperture is set at a relatively high F-Stop (F/25.0) number (smaller aperture), causing all portions of this picture to be in focus. However, although the main focal point is the angel, you may be somewhat distracted by my cookbooks. To correct this problem, the bokeh technique can be used to draw attention to the focal point by blurring some of the detail in the background.

In the next photo, I blurred the background to increase the focus on the angle, leaving the angel clear but my cookbooks blurry. Although it now seems clear that the angel is the point of focus in this shot, you will notice that one of the angel’s wings is somewhat blurry. One reason for this is that a larger aperture produces a smaller the area of focus. The blurry angel wing lies just outside of this small area.

In the next photograph, I turned the figurine so that the entire body of the angel fits within the area of focus. As you can see, the angel, including its wings, is clearer in this picture. Keep in mind that instead of moving the angel into the area of focus, I also could have left the figurine in its diagonal stance and simply increased the aperture setting to a higher F-Stop number (smaller aperture), widening the window of focus.

In this final picture, I kept the angel facing forward (to keep its entire form in focus) but moved the books further into the background. I did this because the bokeh technique often works best when the object of focus is farther away from the background. You may notice that the books in this photo are a bit blurrier than the books in the previous photograph.

As you can see, bokeh photography is one of my absolute favorite techniques! I am always drawn to photos that successfully utilize bokeh. Although I have not yet perfected this technique, you can expect to see a lot more my attempts on this blog . . . you may have already noticed some of the blurred edges on my close-ups of flowers!

I look forward to sharing more bokeh photos with you as I continue to develop this skill.

- S. Christine

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

On Location: Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument

Earlier this week, we decided we wanted to shoot a D.C. landmark. While there were plenty of options, for us, it was easy to select our first landmark shoot -- the Lincoln Memorial. We arrived about an hour before sunset and shot late into the night. To us, President Lincoln is a symbol of truth, honesty, integrity, independence, and freedom.

"Die when I may, I want it said by those who knew me best that I always plucked a thistle and planted a flower where I thought a flower would grow. " - Abraham Lincoln

-C. Marie and S. Christine

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Out and About – D.C. (Adams Morgan)

Greetings Shutter Bugs!

Sometimes I just can’t help myself! I went for a walk through the city on Sunday and was inspired at every turn. If you live in or have visited D.C., then surely you have seen monuments and visited your share of museums. I agree that these sites are beautiful, but I always encourage visitors to see the city through a different set of eyes. Walk down a lesser known street, peer into an alley, stop and stare at a mural, and simply take in all the beauty there is to behold within an urban landscape.

Without further ado, here are a few of the cool, colorful, and quirky things I came across while strolling through the eclectic Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington, D.C.

- S. Christine

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Sugar, Spice, and Everything Nice

OK, so I think my little cousins are sooooooo cute -- all of them. One look at these little ladies, and you'll see what I mean. Lillien and Samara are just a sample of what's in store when you're with the littlest members of my family. They're full of life, energy, and imagination. They inspire me to dream big and make use of every single minute. To them, there are no boundaries nor limits in life. One minute they're a chef, the next a doctor, the next a princess. They know that they can be anything they want to be, and I believe in them. The future is theirs to have, and the present is theirs to embrace.

- C. Marie