Thursday, August 02, 2007

I forgot to say I remembered, photo tips, and a visitor

I confess. I'm slow, very slow. But, I didn't forget!!! Sci Fi Chick, Gentle Reader, and Bonnie (in an order I no longer remember) all tagged me for the Blogging Tips Meme. And, since I was poky, it has literally exploded into a huge monster of a list - 142 tips, if you go to the source. 142 tips would take waaaay too much space so, I'm going skipster. I had some ideas, but I'll save them for later. Call me Little Miss Party Pooper. I do love being tagged, I want you all to know. Many thanks to all three of you for thinking of me!

So, no blogging tips. I do, however, have a couple of lovely tomato photos to share. I can just see you bouncing up and down in your computer chairs.

You can see that it finally rained!! Wahoo! Not for long, mind you, but we'll take what we get. Here's the same tomato from a different angle, a few minutes earlier:

Why on earth did I post two different photos of the same little green tomato? I'm glad you asked. I just happened to walk outside shortly after the rain (it was nasty out there, by the way - the heat, the humidity . . . ugh) to take photos of the tomatoes because I observed that the lighting was good. And, then it occurred to me that I haven't posted the photo tips I promised and this was a perfect example of an excellent lesson. The forthcoming photo tips were intended to start the odd "Photo Tip Friday" post, but then I got hijacked by my husband and it turned miraculously into Saturday, overnight. Sometimes you just can't rely on having the time to blog, darn it. So, you get Photo Tip Saturday, at least this time around.

Photo tips of the week:

1. Lighting is everything. You probably already knew that, but in case you didn't . . . there you go. Obviously, the light changes all day long with the movement of the sun. Lotus expressed interest in knowing how best to take photos of flowers in her own garden. And, this is what I do - I watch the light. It's best to have a full day to go in and out, observing how the light hits your flowers (or, in this case, tomatoes) throughout the day. Do take the camera along to play, of course. If you can set aside a weekend day to occasionally go outside to check how the sun is hitting them - and, of course, sometimes you don't have till the weekend before they wilt, so sooner is better - do so. Otherwise, just keep an eye on what you want to photograph as you come and go.

Professionals, I've found, seem to all have their favorite lighting, although most everyone agrees that the softer morning and evening light is best for scenic photography because side light casts attractive shadows and eliminates the harsh glare of mid-day light. But, there are occasions that direct lighting is best. Overcast, "cloudy-bright" light (meaning it's overcast, but not heavily - there's lots of soft, even light on cloudy-bright days) is especially terrific for portraits. I used to deliberately take my kids out to photograph them on cloudy-bright days. But, it's also great for flower photography because you don't have to worry as much about a digital camera's light filter over-reacting, the shadowed lighting causing one part of a flower to be overexposed and washed-out, while another part is perfectly exposed or too dark.

Sometimes, direct lighting is actually terrific. Take this flower photo, for example:

This was taking mid-day, when the light was harsh but spread almost perfectly across the flower. This next one, however, was taken when the sun was low, late in the day, and lit up the petals with a lovely glow.

2. Walk around and look at your subject from different angles to check background colors. Look at those two tomato photos, again, and you'll see that the lighting is just a touch different but the backgrounds are completely changed. All I did was shift my angle a bit to change the background from dark to light.

Now, in my case, I often use a long telephoto lens and the joy of a long lens is a blurring of the background; the disadvantage is that most people really need a tripod while using a long lens, hand-held. I have extraordinarily steady hands and there are still times I can't get away with hand-held telephoto photography, but I like the muted background effect. I think most people will tell you it's best to use a short lens and a macro setting for flower photography, if you've got one. You will definitely get a clearer photo with a shorter, fixed focal-length lens than with a telephoto.

If you own a point-and-shoot camera, the best thing to do is read your manual and find out what the best setting for close-up photography is (most have at least 4 standard settings), as well as the optimal shooting distance and then watch that light.

**End photo tips**

And, now, on to the visitor. Youngest son and I spent yesterday in Jackson, shopping and eating out, followed by a trip to the theater in Clinton to view The Bourne Ultimatum - which is so action-packed, I came out of it with a stiff neck from sitting on the edge of my seat. I'm pretty sure I didn't get a lot of oxygen, either, because I was holding my breath most of the way through. Boy, talk about extreme. Jason Bourne is the perfect example of superhuman Hollywood action guy, in this movie. I liked it, though. There's a reason they wreck cars and then have the hero walk away. We like to think it could happen, that it's possible to actually walk away from a car that has gone backwards off a roof or to jump off a high-rise building into the water and survive, don't we? Sorry, just getting philosophical about action movies.

So, we walked out the door around 10:00 to head out for the day and I discovered the kiddo had left his trombone in the trunk. We unlocked the car and climbed in, but then I said, "You know, I'm pretty sure we don't want to haul that trombone around. We need room for cat litter." So, we both hopped out, walked to the house to carry the trombone inside, and saw this visitor in the bricks directly beside our front door:
Well, hey there, little fella! Yes, naturally Bookfool and her son became ridiculously excited. I ran for the camera. Kiddo peered at the snake's pretty coloring. The snake pretended to be invisible and hung there, immobile. The moment we backed the car out of the driveway, we saw him slinking down the wall. Funny. For those who don't know, you can usually tell whether a snake is venomous or non-venomous by the shape of his head. Venomous snakes have triangular heads; the cheeky-looking pouches that give them that shape are filled with venom, you see. While the non-venomous ones have have slimmer heads, some call them "spoon-shaped". There are exceptions, such as the coral snake. It's a good idea to know your snakes if you plan to photograph them when they show up by your front door.


I finished Taking the Plunge by Stacie Lewis, last night. It's an Estella review book, so watch for a review of that one to appear in the September issue of Estella's Revenge.

Currently reads not yet added to my sidebar are Lesley Castle (a small Hesperus Press book with two novellas and the very silly "A History of England") by Jane Austen and Vineland by Thomas Pynchon. Both are incredibly fun for entirely different reasons.

Recently walked in the door:
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (thank you, Amy!!)
Villa Air-Bel by Rosemary Sullivan
The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald
Doomsday Book by Connie Willis
Fifty Acres and a Poodle by Jeanne Marie Laskas (thanks to Les for the recommendation!!)
Wild Swans by Jung Chang
Barefoot by Elin Hildenbrand (thank you, Barbara!!)

Most of those came from Paperback Swap, apart from the ones Amy and Barbara sent. Paperback Swap is so cool. All but one of the PBS books were recommended by bloggers, so if you see a title you've recently reviewed, you've probably influenced me.

Shameless impulse purchase:
Our Man in Havana by Graham Greene (I love Graham Greene)

Kiddo goes back to school next Wednesday! Oh, my gosh! It's too early for school (but not for cool weather - I'd be happy to take an early cool front, no problem). Where does the time go?

Hope everyone's having a terrific weekend! Hope to catch up on blog-hopping, soon. Smiles all around.

Bookfool with green tomatoes and snake on the side


  1. Anonymous10:17 PM

    A nice exciting overnight with your hubby! Now that's what I call a good husband.

    Doomday Book is so good! I love that book.

    Thanks for the lighting tutorial! The tomato looks divine. I've got the shakiest hands in the West evidently.

  2. Carrie,

    He's a sweetie. :)

    Oh, good, I'm glad you enjoyed Doomsday Book. I can't remember where I read a review of that one. I'm very forgetful.

    I saw the words "tutorial" and "tomato" and my brain put them together as "tomato tutorial". Does that mean it's time for bed? LOL My husband has very shaky hands, too. It makes photography a bit more difficult, but there are ways around it - propping a camera on something sturdy, if you don't have a tripod or taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly both help.

  3. I told you you'd get tomatoes! Thanks for the lighting tips...they'll come in handy :) I really want to get a better camera. I have one of the cheaper versions of Sony's cybershot and I hate it. The quality of the images just isn't high enough for my liking, but it's all I can afford :/

    That snake is cool! I can't imagine seeing something like that right by my front door...I would freak!

    I'm ready for the cool weather too...Fall will be so nice *sigh*

  4. Yay! I'm glad you started sharing some Photo tips. Loved them! And the pictures! I'm a bit shaky but only really have problems in low light situations. I often look out for something to prop the camera on then. Looking forward to more tips.

  5. Great pictures of the tomatoes and the flowers, and thanks for the tips. I don't know if my photography skills can be helped, but I can sure try!

    On your list of books, I've only read The Kite Runner. I had a hard time getting into it, but then was hooked. And I recently read The Bookseller of Kabul, which was a nice complement to it.

  6. Interesting post, Bookfool. I enjoyed all that you shared. :)

  7. Good for hubby for hijacking you! You needed it, my dear.

    Also, that photo of the snake is amazing. I love the way it's following the crevices in the brick. I had no idea they could do that. Not sure I wanted to know, either!


  8. Nancy, thank you so much for listing the photography tips, they couldn't have come at a better time!!! I am going on vacation tomorrow and I will take a print-out of your list so I can use the tips to take some great photos.

    Thank you very,very much and see you when I return!

    p.s. Love the tomato photos, they look so professional!

  9. Chris,

    We have quite a few tomatoes, now, but they're in some weird stasis - not really growing, just hanging there. It's really fascinating! Maybe a few more rainy days would help.

    I think most people would have freaked out about that snake. It was certainly surprising finding that we'd walked right past such a thing without noticing.

    The heat's really been brutal, hasn't it? August is probably my least favorite month.


    Low light does make things more tricky. Somewhere, I've got a little tiny tabletop tripod, but I always manage to misplace it before going anywhere that I will need it to take photos of a good night view.


    Oh, I'm sure you can improve if you give it some time and practice. I'm kind of hooked, myself. LOL

    Everyone seems to love The Kite Runner! I was actually going to give it a skip, but Amy offered to send it to me and everyone insists that it's a must-read. I'll save it for when I think I can handle a book that requires tissues, but I'm willing to give it a whirl.

  10. Hi Joy,

    I'm glad you enjoyed it!


    I'd be happier if he hijacked me to a slightly more interesting city, but okay . . . he gets a few brownie points. It was a nice evening. :)

    I had no idea snakes could climb walls and mold their bodies into brick crevices, either! Isn't it something? A little odd, definitely, but interesting. LOL


    I thought I'd already missed you; glad you found this post before leaving and I hope you have a fabulous time!

    And, thanks. :) See you in a few days!

  11. Anonymous4:13 PM

    I was having a great time reading your post until I saw the top edge of THAT picture and realized what it was. Thank goodness my mouse scrolls down really fast! I would have had a heart attack if I saw one of the things on my house. You're a brave woman!

  12. Lynne,

    Kind of a switch to go from tomatoes and flowers to a snake, eh? LOL Sorry about that. Snakes don't bother me, but I think it's partly because my dad was always pointing out the little garter snakes (so I developed a fascination with harmless ones, early in life) and I've never had a bad snake experience. I walked past a copperhead in the military park, here, once. He didn't bother me, although on reflection I think I probably could have given him a wider berth.

  13. Doomsday Book is one that took me a while to get into.. but I ended up loving it.

  14. Anonymous9:09 AM

    As soon as we have a gardening budget (hopefully next year!) tomatoes are going in FIRST. For now I'll just have to drool over yours. ;)

  15. I have been wanting to read the Kite Runner forever! Enjoy.

  16. What a fun post! Thanks so much for the excellent photography tips. I'm going to try them out and be more aware as I take photos now. I particularly liked Doomsday Book and The Bookshop off your reading list...and I haven't read any Graham Greene, but have been wanting to for a long time, and the fact that you really like him urges me to start one soon!

  17. Thanks for the photo tips! Those should come in really handy the next time I get camera-happy.

    Can't wait to hear what you thought of Taking the Plunge. And you've had all kinds of good books walking into your house. I've had The Bookshop on my TBR FOREVER. Maybe I'll actually get around to reading it someday. (famous last words)

    And that snake CREEPS ME OUT. Eeek!

  18. I'll take photo tips over blogging tips, any time. Thank you, and love the tomatoes! Also, wow, that's a pretty big snake. It would scare me if he showed up in our yard. And your new pile of books sounds great...

  19. Angela,

    I'll try to be patient with The Doomsday Book. Thanks for warning me it took you a while to get into. I'm like you - I tend to like plenty of action. :)


    Don't drool till we actually get a harvest! LOL I can't believe how long it's taking for those tomatoes to actually grow. Probably the weird weather has gotten to them. They're fun to grow, though (and eat!). You'll have a great time when you do. :)


    I'm putting off The Kite Runner till it cools off because it just seems like a book that you need to curl up under a blanket and devote yourself to. I plan to have plenty of kleenex, nearby, also!


    I may have gotten both those book recommendations from your blog - I just don't remember. I never write down who mentioned them. Graham Greene's writing is kind of quirky, but I've enjoyed it and find myself wanting to read everything he's written. Hope you like him, when you get around to reading! And, you're welcome.


    You're welcome. "Camera happy" would be my natural state of being. LOL

    I'll try to get that review written up quickly, for once. It was a fun read - so totally different from my own experience. Nobody's going to argue about liquor at a Baptist wedding!

    And, now I'm totally out of Estella books. Tell me if anything marvelous shows up. ;)

    When I posted that photo, I thought, "Andi's not gonna like this!" My friend Jill, on the other hand said, "That's a pet snake!" Hahaha. You guys are so fun.

  20. Gentle Reader,

    Thanks. I felt like a party pooper for not doing the meme, but it got so huge! And, the tomatoes were just begging to be talked about. LOL

    The snake was probably only about 2 1/2 feet long - not too big, really, but not a tiny one, either. There are probably a lot of people who would be glad to know it showed up on my house instead of theirs!! I didn't mind him a bit, but I'm in the minority, here.

  21. Anonymous12:02 PM

    It is so funny you should post your photo tips today because I was just thinking this weekend that I really need to work on my photography skills! Any other pieces of photography wisdom you would like to share would be much appreciated!

  22. Jennyellen,

    I'm glad my timing was right. :) I'll probably post more tips, in the future, when they jump out at me. This time, it just happened that the tomatoes set off a spark, so to speak.

  23. Anonymous1:55 PM

    Thanks for the photographic tips, Nancy. Maybe we'll be able to get great shots like you do :)

    The Bourne film seems like a real cracker. I'll wait to add it to my ever-growing DVD collection.

  24. Gavin,

    It's very possible I'm just cheating, since I have a pretty nice camera. ;)

    Bourne was pretty fun but exhausting to watch! And, I have to admit I got tired of the violence, after a while. Still, I like action. We'll probably end up with a copy of it on DVD.

  25. Anonymous9:14 AM

    Great pics although I had to quickly scroll past the snake one. eek. I've been meaning to ask, what camera do you use? I've had a Canon Rebel for a couple of years and love it. Certainly helps me take good pictures but thank you so much for the tips. Very handy info to have.
    Oh and we saw Bourne Ultimatum this weekend too - fun movie.

  26. Bookfool, that looks like a corn snake, right? One summer I was walking across my yard and then my neighbor's yard to collect their mail while they were on vacation. I was barefooted in the grass, loving the feel of it, when I spied ... a loooooonnnnnnngggggg snake, between 10 and 15 feet long, in their grass. If I was ever gonna scream, that was probably the time, but I didn't. I did make a hasty retreat, however. All I knew was that I saw markings on that snake, which made me think copperhead ... and I didn't see the head of the thing. Some of the neighbor men went after it, and I don't remember the outcome (it was the early 1960s, about 45 years ago), but it was identified as a corn snake. I have NEVER seen a snake that big before or since ... and don't want to!

    I came by partly to tell you I've found another red "doll" out there having adventures. Her name is Mimi, and she is nowhere NEAR as cute as Poppet. Here's where she reports her adventures:

    ~~~ Bonnie

  27. Iliana,

    I think most people are pretty iffy about that snake. :)

    I have a camera that has been revived in a different form by Sony - a KonicaMinolta Maxxum 5D. When Sony took over the company, they changed it to the Alpha series. Since I got the camera, the resolution of the newer ones has improved dramatically, but I think it still does a pretty decent job.

    Bourne was loads of fun, wasn't it?

  28. Bonnie,

    Wow! That must have been a sobering experience! I can't even imagine running across a snake that big. Yes, I think he might be a corn snake. I'm no expert, but I know corn snakes have pretty markings like that and they're harmless.

    I just looked at Mimi's website. It's cute, but you're right. Poppet is much more photogenic. I haven't taken my poppets anywhere, lately. It's so hot and humid that we're just sticking indoors. Although, I did manage to knock her off the jam cabinet, last night. I'm sure my husband thought I was nuts when I apologized to her!

  29. Thanks for the great photo tips! Now that I have my fancy Olympus (with a zoom lense), I don't have to worry too much about the macro/depth of field function. The zoom does all the work for me! By the way, awesome picture of the tomato (the second shot). Love the angle and lighting. It looks like the perfect tomato for fried green tomatoes! Yum!

    That snake picture is amazing. Was it really on the wall or a walkway? Very cool how it lined itself up within the grouted areas (and didn't fall down!).

    I hope you enjoy 50 Acres... as much as we did. The sequel is just as good! I'll be anxious to hear how you like Barefoot. I've only read one by her, but keep eyeing Barefoot at work.

    Bourne sounds great, but we'll wait for it to hit Netflix. Might be the perfect wintertime flick!

  30. Of course, I know that lens is spelled without the extra "e"!

  31. Les,

    Ah, the joy of modern cameras, eh? I love mine, but it's actually becoming outdated, already - in less than two years! Wild. My tomato thanks you for calling it attractive, but it would rather not be fried. I have no idea why. It's getting pretty well fried in the heat, I'd say.

    Yes, that snake was on the bricks adjacent to our front door. I actually have a photo with the door showing, just to give a little perspective, but it's not a terrific photo. Still, it does show how he was clinging to the mortar, which is fascinating.

    I hope I get to read 50 Acres, soon. It looks fun. Barefoot is my first by that author. I mentioned that I've never managed to find her books in our library and Barbara offered me her copy. Isn't that sweet?

    We only go to movies to get out of the house - there's so little to do in Vburg - so it's a summer thing. Ordinarily, we wait for everything to come out on video. It's fun and I enjoyed seeing it on the big screen, though.

    I know you can spell, silly girl. Typos make perfectionists cringe, I know. I'm one, myself.

  32. Cameras are so much like computers. Obsolete before they're even out of the box (well, almost!). We had our FujiFinePix for quite a few years, but just couldn't resist getting the new one with the interchangeable lenses for our trip.

    Amazing that the snake could cling to the wall like that. I know they can slither up trees, but to just hang on to a wall? Incredible!

    I understand the need for entertainment and movies would probably be my choice, but my legs start to ache terribly when I sit for too long (and movies are so much longer than they used to be), so I prefer stretching out on our couch. I'm such a slug! ;)

    Yep, that's me. Ms. Perfectionist. I'm attempting to rectify that, though, starting with housework. ;)

  33. Paperbackswap is amazing, isn't it? I hope that someday some of my wishlist books come available! Wild Swans is a great read - dense and intense, but hugely worthwhile.

  34. Tara,

    I'm a huge fan of Paperback Swap. I've gotten rid of and acquired loads of books via PBS. So far, the other swap sites I've tried have been bombs. I have no idea why!!!

    Glad you liked Wild Swans. It's a fat one, so I'm definitely saving it for winter. I associate fat books with blankets and cushy chairs, for some reason.


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