Sunday, June 25, 2017

The Coffee Shop Chronicles - A New Beginning


It has been two years since I wrote my last Coffee Shop Chronicle. New coffee shops have continued to sprout up everywhere. Two new ones have opened just this year in my own town, that adds to the three, non-chain fabulous coffee shops we already have.

I happen to be sitting in one of these new coffee houses as I write this. Today is Monday, June 19, 2017 and it's my birthday. I am still one birthday scone away from that momentous half century mark, not that I am terrible worried about it. My forties have been adventure filled, I expected nothing less from my fifties.

Being a Monday, I should be getting groceries and catching up on laundry, but it's my birthday and those things can wait until tomorrow. Instead I started my day with birthday love from my family, a walk at the beach, and then an hour long massage. And now here I am, at The 205 Coffee Bar, preparing for a return to The Coffee Shop Chronicles.

I have no idea if I will be able to write these stories again, even though many things have been pointing in this direction the past several months. I am afraid, afraid that the stories that once were so popular amongst my readers, will not be the same. But they can't be the same, I am not the same, a lot of life has happened in two years. I am a different writer than I was two years ago. I must remember; you can never go back, your only options are standing still or pushing forward. I chose forward.


Recently, I read an article in the Spring issue of Artful Blogging by Nicole Knutsen, titled Playing Shop Girl. In the article, she has me imagine my blog/website as one of many storefronts on internet Main Street. She asks the questions: How would you design it? What would you sell? Who would be your customers? Those questions got my creative mind churning. These were questions I had read before, but I always struggle with the answers. My stumbling block is what to sell, selling not being my focus. I started making a list of answers to these questions, and suddenly it became clear. Just because it's a storefront on internet main street doesn't mean it has be a retail gift shop.


This week I am beginning to build my website. I have known for a while that I have outgrown this space. As I continue to receive publication writing requests, I need more than just a blog, I need a website. The new site will be paisleyrainboots.com, I bought the domain name last night. While I can't serve you a cup of freshly brewed coffee, I can design a website that feels like a coffee shop. A place with industrial concrete floors and a gallery of my painterly altered photographs on the white shiplap walls. Large, reclaimed barn wood harvest tables with maps spread out over them will fill the middle of the shop.  We will gather around those tables planning adventures together and sharing stories. At the far end of the room will be a large, field stone fireplace surrounded by leather couches and comfy chairs. On one of the couches will lie a floppy-eared, furry friend, ready to listen to anyone's troubles in exchange for gentle strokes of the fur (I know you can't have dogs in places that serve food, but it's my coffee shop). This will be a place to return to again and again, a place of creative inspiration.


The new website will also be the perfect place for the return of The Coffee Shop Chronicles, stories from other coffee gathering places as I work to create my own virtual coffee shop. Eventually this blog will move there too, because I am nothing without my photography. It will be hard to leave this place that I have called my creative home for the past five years, so many stories of life, growth and loss. There will be a link to here on the new website: My Blog - The Early Years, because I can't let it go completely.

I will keep you posted when the new website is up and running and the first new Coffee Shop Chronicle is ready to be published.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Field Study


"Attention is the beginning of devotion."
                                                                                       ~ Mary Oliver 

Two summers ago I spent many early mornings wandering the beach at our local state park. Unintentionally, I fell into a photography project: photographing items left behind. It is amazing what people leave behind, my favorite being a bottle of Love Potion that I found by the fishing dock.

Last summer my project was of a more personal nature - walking the nine mile road (in sections) between my parents home and the town where I spent my growing up years. I wanted to walk it so I could pause and reflect at each place along the road that stirred a memory.


I fully expected to be back at the beach this summer continuing my lost and found project, that is until I started this #30dayadventureflowers project.


Tuesday morning I found myself on the Meadow Loop at one of my favorite county parks. The Meadow Loop is a lovely, quarter-mile paved walk that meanders through the wildflower meadow in front of the visitor's center. I have already photographed all the flowers in my own garden many times. My peonies are now only petals scattered on the wind. I was looking for fresh inspiration. That's when I remembered this loop and thought it would be the perfect place for a field study. The parking lot is right next to the loop, so I could easily use my tripod and switch between cameras and lenses without having to lug everything with me at once.


I started with my Canon 70D with 55-250mm zoom lens and my tripod. Using a tripod helps so much with composing the shot, sharp focus and the thing I needed the most - slowing down. Shortly after setting off on the loop, I noticed this dragonfly positioned perfectly on the flower stalks. I set up the tripod, zoomed in on him, used live view to manually focus and suddenly I had my favorite photo of the day. I took my time walking the loop, looking and more looking, some shooting.


First loop completed I had two choices: I could go home, even though I had only been there a half hour, or I could take another camera and walk the loop again. Since my arms were a little tired from carrying the tripod, I decided I would stroll the loop this time with only my iPhone. I struggle with flower photography and my iPhone, craving shallow depth of field and unable to obtain it. I began to think; What else can I do? Then I remembered the Slow Shutter app on my phone, that I have had for a year or more and never used. Taking the technique that Kathleen Clemons used in her Creative Live class, I began to look for things I could pan in slow motion. There is a wooden footbridge that crosses a marsh of cattails (long vertical lines), I thought I would give that a try. I started at the sky and swiped down the tree line and then the cattails. I also tried just the cattails. Personally, I needed the layers of color instead of variations of one. When processing the photo later, besides brightening and adding more saturation, I felt it needed a little more so I added a texture in the Distressed FX app. Perfect pairing!


I have never been attracted to abstract art, but this might become my new addiction. This is a metal footbridge in another part of the park. Again I paired it with a texture from the Distressed FX app.


As I was walking with my iPhone, I noticed things I hadn't my first time around with my tripod. Back at the car once again, this time I decided to grab my Canon 6D with the Lensbaby Velvet 56 for another completely different look. I walked this last loop a bit faster since the mosquitoes had finally found me.

I was very happy with everything that I captured on my three laps of the Meadow Loop, but I knew I wanted to see more, practice more. I am making it a goal to get out to this same loop once a week throughout this summer; trying to do three laps each outing, using the three different camera options. I can't wait to see what I discover. 

Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Language of Flowers


I am a restless soul. During the five years of this photographic journey, I have spent a lot of time trying to harness this restlessness. When that doesn't work, I try to find ways to embrace it. Restlessness is good to a degree, it keeps me striving forward, never content, always wanting to learn more. The downfall is that I have an extremely hard time sticking with anything. I get bored quickly.

I have completed two 365 days photography projects, and finished strong in one 100 day project. But I have also quit at least two 365 day projects and four 100 day projects, failing at my latest 100 day project just last month. For this latest 100 day project I started out so strong, using Susannah Conway's April Love for my daily prompts. The beginning of May it was starting to get harder and by the time we left for vacation on May 13, I was completely over it, although I did do the daily task for the first two days of vacation, and then that was it.


The photography conference I attended stirred many creative thoughts inside me, and the two day drive home from Massachusetts gave me lots of time to think...

I am going to try a new approach to projects. I stay strong and interested for the first month and then the fall off happens. What about doing one month projects?

With a new, more realistic, time frame in mind, I sat down at my desk with a yellow legal pad to give it some details.


How would I chose my subject for each month? It's no secret that I love on-line classes, so why not take one each month and devote the month to it. This could be a new class, or a class I have previously taken (hence the reason to always take life-time access classes). The class would dictate what my subject would be each month. From the class lessons, I could chose what I wanted each week's specific focus to be.


About the time I was writing all this down on my legal pad, an email dinged through - Select Creative Live classes on sale. Click. Hmm...here's one Creating Painterly Photographs taught by Kathleen Clemons. I had been hearing Kathleen's name a lot in the last few weeks - lives in Maine, loves Lensbaby lenses, award winning flower photographer. All good until the flower thing, I don't love to shoot flowers. I signed up. This would push me and hopefully harness my restlessness for a month.


I began June 1st. Kathleen shoots a lot with her 180mm macro lens. I don't have one, so what could I do instead? I put my 55-250mm zoom on, which I rarely use, put my camera on my tripod and went out to my flower beds. I found the challenges of not having a 180mm macro, but I also found joy in having my 55-250mm.

This first week has been a bit of a free-for-all, dabbling a little into each of the things learned in Kathleen's class. This second week I hope to pick a more specific focus from the things I enjoyed doing week one.

Week One Take Aways



  • Tripod - I love my Canon 6D camera, but on a tripod I love my 70D and the only reason why is the articulating screen. I tend to shoot in Live View on the tripod, and I manually focus. The articulating screen makes composing so much easier, seeing the bigger picture, plus it is a life-saver for my back. 
  • North Door Light - A year ago I thought to set up still life shots in my garage - huge space and north facing, it took until this project to finally do it, the effect is quite amazing. 
  • Black Background - Loving my large piece of black foam core and my husband's clamps.
  • Chaos - I am trying to embrace the "fill the frame" shots, but I love simplicity. 
  • Painterly - Delighted to be dabbling back in Photoshop with textures, and Topaz Labs Impressions. 
  • Farmers Market - There are always lovely fresh flowers to buy at the market.
  • My Own Gardens - This project is filling me with love for my own garden.

I have been sharing my daily flower shot either on Facebook or Instagram and often both, what I am treasuring the most is the community and conversations that it is creating, even local non-photographer friends are sharing their flower photos from their garden. It seems everyone speaks the language of flowers.


Sunday, June 4, 2017

Scene & Story - May 2017


You would never know that less than four years ago this man had never picked up a dSLR before. And the first time he did, it was to humor me, I had an extra camera (shocking I know!), and he probably was tired of trying to find benches to sit on at decaying insane asylums, and sitting in the car on country backroads while I shot old barns and abandoned farmhouses.

He has gotten quite good for someone who shoots on a very part-time basis, although after every outing he says, "I'm sure they all suck". We need to work on the confidence thing some more.


I love this man for being willing to join me in my hobby/passion and being willing to take a vacation to the east coast just so I can go to a photography conference. If he had his way, we would be going to Glacier National Park every year and climb mountains. I promise we will go again, but there is so much to see in this great big world, and I want to keep seeing it together and through our cameras.



Thursday, June 1, 2017

Michigan to Massachusetts - The Highlights Reel


I am always hesitant to share my vacation photos here. I don't want to be that friend that invites you over for wine and cheese, and then locks you in a room with a big-screen television and makes you watch 500 unedited vacation photos. I am fresh out of cheese but enjoy the wine, here's the highlights reel...

Favorite City/Town


Niagara-on-the-Lake, Canada
First day of vacation and we took the "shortcut" through Canada and Niagara Falls to get to our hotel in Rochester, New York. It was late lunchtime, we were hungry and ready to get out of the car for a while. I remembered my friend Kay telling me to stop in Niagara-on-the-Lake on our way through if we had time. We had time. We had lunch, walked to the lake, discovered the most beautiful cemetery full of flowering trees on the way back to town, and found a parking ticket on our car when we got back. Nonetheless, Glen and I both want to spend more time here, we will just make sure we pay for our parking first next time.

Best Don't Give Up


Watkins Glen, New York
My readers that have been with me for a while will remember a couple of years ago I went to Pennsylvania in the autumn to meet a blogging friend, Andrea, who lives in New Jersey. We were to spend a week photographing the fall colors in the Tioga State Forest area. We had a great half week until she slipped on some wet leaves, fell and broke her leg, going back to New Jersey much sooner than expected. You can read that post here. The day after she broke her leg we were suppose to take a day trip up to Watkins Glen, NY only a little over an hour from where we were staying, obviously we did not go. I stayed close to our rental cottage instead that day, a little afraid to now be on my own. But I had really wanted to go to Watkins Glen to explore the picturesque state park there. A year and a half later, mission accomplished. My husband and I had an extra travel day to explore the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York, and Watkins Glen fit wonderfully into the plan. So glad I did not give up my desire to explore this destination.

Favorite Brewery


Rooster Fish Brewing - Watkins Glen, NY
We stumbled upon this brewery late morning on a Sunday, not busy, great variety of craft beer, and amazing window light.

Best Stumble Upon...


Norman Rockwell Museum - Stockbridge, MA
Our vacations tend to always have a theme, this year's theme was Stumble Upon...
I like to have my hotels booked for each night, but I am content to let the days take care of themselves, this does not always work well for my "need to know where he's going" husband, but truly this is often how the best places are found. Such is the case of the Norman Rockwell Museum. It was raining and we had time to kill before ending the day in Boston, so we began looking at the exit attraction signs in the Berkshire area of Massachusetts. I saw a sign for the museum and said to my husband that I would really like to go there, so we did. Best stumble upon ever!
I have always loved Mr. Rockwell's work, but knew very little about him. To see all his covers of the Saturday Evening Post framed and lining three walls of a room was mind blowing, to see the progression of his work, the themes in his work, his consistent color palette, made the artist in me pondering my own work.  We left the museum with four books, a new bookmark for me, and camera rolls full of photos.

Best Conquering Fear Moment


Figuring out the subway in Boston. We live in West Michigan, I drive my car anywhere I want to go. You do not want to drive your car in Boston, you want to walk or take public transportation. We were staying in Cambridge, so a little ways from the city center, we had to figure out the subway to get where we wanted to go. The subway intimidated me, but for that reason I was determined to conquer it. Thankfully our T station was only a five minute walk from our hotel, and my friend Karen gave me the stations we would need to get off at to go where we wanted to go. We only got on one wrong train, but quickly figured it out and got on the right one to get back to our hotel. Fear conquered!

Best Boston Moment


Meeting my blogging friend Karen for coffee in real life. Karen works in the city, and thankfully it worked in her schedule to take part of a morning and meet me for coffee. I love these kind of moments - meeting old friends for the first time!

Craziest Day


Cape Cod, MA
We left Boston and drove to the very end of Cape Cod because I wanted to say I had been to Cape Cod, wanted The Cape Cod National Seashore stamp in my National Park Passport book, wanted to see the ocean, and wanted a lobster roll. We drove through Massachusetts to Providence, Rhode Island during rush hour traffic looking for a brewery, which we found, but could not find a place to park. Shortly after leaving Providence our car shed the inner wheel well liner on the front passenger side while driving on the busy highway, which my husband had to go retrieve from the side of the highway. During all of this the temperatures ranged from 82 to 99 degrees for the day, all so I could say I have been to the Cape and Rhode Island. My poor husband!

Favorite Botanic Garden

Photo Credit: Glen Huizenga

Tower Hill Botanic Garden - Boylston, MA
We had a free day before the start of the photography conference I was going to in Southbridge, MA, so my husband Googled nearby attractions and came across Tower Hill Botanic Garden. He said, "We always have good luck at botanic gardens." Who is this man? Amazing bounty of color at this garden, even if it was 85 degrees. I would love to go back on an overcast and much cooler day.

Favorite Footwear


For the last decade, other than my running shoes, my go-to footwear on vacation has been my Chaco sandals. But the past couple of years I have had problems with the straps on hot humid days rubbing on the tops of my feet and giving me blisters. That doesn't make walking the next day enjoyable.
I was searching for something stylish and comfortable, two words that never seem to go together in the footwear world. For once the ads that pop into my feed on Facebook actually held something valuable - a link to these shoes - Taos Moc Star shoes. Perfect for wide feet, have amazing arch support and come in fun colors. Other than the two full days in Boston I wore these shoes all the time. They are the most fabulous shoes.

Favorite Restaurant


Cedar Street Grille - Sturbridge, MA
We ate a lot of places while on vacation, but this was the best. A wide variety of small plate options, each one we tried was awesome, but we highly recommend the lamb meatballs, cod sliders, mac and cheese with pulled bbq pork, although all the mac and cheeses sounded wonderful, and the grass fed beef sliders. Of course pair this with a bottle of local wine. We loved the place so much we returned for a second night. Recommend making reservations!

Favorite Wineries


Taylor Brooke Winery - Woodstock, CT
Give us a free afternoon on vacation and the first thing we will do is Google nearby breweries and wineries. It's not that we have to drink, it is because a winery or brewery done right is one of the best vacation experiences. By done right I mean we want you to take your time, tell us about your winery, tell us what wines are your award winners, and for me you get five stars if you have a wine dog. We will sample the maximum amount of samples and stay to enjoy a glass on the patio. Taylor Brooke got five stars.


Sharpe Hill Winery - Pomfret, CT
Sharpe Hill also gets five stars. A lovely garden setting and your wine samples are brought to you by sweet servers like Amanda. Amanda gets five stars just for putting up with my husband's questions, and being willing to pose for a picture for his new obsession - Instagram. The only thing this place was missing was the wine dog.

The End


Well the wine is gone and the film is coming to a close, so it's time to call it a day. Hope you enjoyed the highlights reel. There were so many stories on this trip, and stories make the best trips. 

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Photography Conference

Alley in Southbridge, MA

The last time I attended a photography conference/workshop my daughter was a senior in high school. To put that in perspective, she has been out of college for two years now.

At that time I worked part-time in retail, I shot in automatic mode, had no inkling that I would soon begin this photography journey, and had no idea what a blog was. Still, I agreed to join a friend who did know something about photography for a workshop in a place I love - Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. I was hopeful that I would learn a few things, and that my friend would pull me aside and clue me in on all the things I didn't understand. It was a great workshop, early fall in northern Michigan, the weather was perfect and the light...that was where I began my love affair with light. But...I felt like I was underwater, the instructors were talking, I could see the bubbles coming out of their mouths, but the words were garbled, a language I could not understand.

Over the years I have taken MANY on-line courses on every aspect of photography. Slowly the language began to make sense, and what I didn't understand I watched video after video on, until I did understand. Still, I continued to stay away from in-person workshops and conferences, remembering that underwater feeling.

Kelli and me

That all changed early this spring when Kelli DeWaal of kjdewaal.com posted in a Facebook group that we are both a part of about a Creative Photography Conference she was going to be teaching at in May. The conference was being organized by Hazel Meredith of Meredith Images whose webinars I have watched on Topaz Lab products and love her style. I also knew this was a direction I wanted to take my photography, continuing to build on the painterly style I have started to develop. One little glitch, the conference was in Massachusetts, I live in Michigan, no small trip. I set about convincing my husband that we should take a vacation to the east coast in May. We would vacation for a week first and then I would attend the conference while he relaxed and read his book for a couple of days. It wasn't an easy sales pitch, but in the end I wore him down.

We had a great vacation prior to the conference, full of adventures and stories. It was the time alone we needed for our marriage, even after thirty years you still need this kind of alone time. I will share in future blog posts more from our vacation, but I thought I would start with the conference since it is fresh in my mind.


The conference was May 20-21, 2017 in Southbridge, MA at the Southbridge Hotel and Conference Center, a beautiful hotel that is set inside an historic eye glass factory. Spacious rooms, and great conference facilities.

I went with some expectations of what I wanted to learn, mostly to learn more about painterly processing using Topaz Labs and other software plug-in programs that work with Lightroom and Photoshop. I take pretty good pictures now, no longer operating in automatic mode. I understand the f/stop, shutter speed, ISO language, but the creative post-processing in Photoshop is still is a little garbled to me.

The first day of the conference all seven of the instructors presented for an hour. They are all extremely talented, and there was a nice variety of styles amongst them. It was like being at a buffet of fine restaurants, seeing every delicious morsel and then choosing the ones that smelled the most enticing.

The surprising thing to me was that the painterly post-processing in Photoshop with Topaz Labs wasn't the most delicious morsel at the buffet for me. Instead it was Kelli's presentation on the iPad Pro with Apple Pencil, as she showed us the different apps she uses to create her image blended masterpieces. It was Michael & Suz Karchmer's presentation on iPhoneography, I loved this couple, they remind me of my husband and myself.  Gerri Jones' presentation was the closest to what I expected I wanted to learn, but it was her work with dog photographs and textures that made my heart flutter. I was expecting to learn textures and landscapes.

Photo Credit: Susan Karchmer - original before Snapseed
Susan Karchmer's edited photo in Snapseed with listing of steps

Day two of the conference we were able to select hour-long workshops with the individual instructors. I chose Kelli's Encaustic Wax class, she demonstrated her process and let us have a hand at applying the wax on a wood cradle board. I am going to need some practice. Then it was off to Gerri's Lensbaby Lens workshop, love my Lensbaby even more after that. Finishing with Michael & Suz's iPhone and Creative Apps class, an hour was too short. They demonstrated the Snapseed app for the hour, even though I use Snapseed on every iPhone photo I process, I still learned so much more, and it renewed my love of Snapseed.

Susan Karchmer's finished iPhone edited masterpiece

My edited version of Susan's photo from class - Snapseed and Stackables


I made a couple of new friends at the conference - Roberta and Dawn - if you two read this, please email me so we can stay in touch. I wish I had had my picture taken with them too.

The conference inspired me in so many ways: new ideas, renewed loves, new friends, surprises about where my creative heart really lies, at least at the moment.

The best part of the conference though, was that I am no longer underwater, I understood every word perfectly. I will not let seven years pass before I attend my next one. Actually it will only be a month. I have coerced my husband into joining me for a iPhone Photography workshop in Indiana at the end of June, and by join I mean he is taking it with me.

**A heartfelt thank you to Suz Karchmer for granting me permission to use her photographs in this post.

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Sunday, May 14, 2017

Constraints


"Constraints are the secret to creativity, to new ideas, to getting things done, and most of us want fewer of them, which is why we flounder. Creative freedom is found in choosing and embracing constraint and having the courage to see what happens."
                                                                              ~David duChemin 

I need constraints. I need one thing to focus on instead of twenty. I need time limitations and deadlines. I need to-do lists to get things done.

This has been my most productive year-to-date in my creative life; we won't talk about the household tasks. The reason why my creative output has been strong this year is because I am working under constraints, not always happily, but carrying on nonetheless.


In April I put the Lensbaby Velvet 56 lens on my camera, and I haven't taken it off yet. I am learning so much about composing, manually focusing, and the sweet spot of the lens. I am happy with this constraint, it is bringing my creativity to an exciting new level.


This week I have been participating in Susan Licht's #weekofdiptychs on Instagram. I missed it when she hosted it last fall, but I quickly jumped on board this spring. Diptychs are something I have always wanted to learn to create. What are diptychs you ask? Here is the definition:

a painting, especially an altarpiece, on two hinged wooden panels that may be closed like a book.an ancient writing tablet consisting of two hinged leaves with waxed inner sides.

In this case it is two photographs paired together.

I have tried to create them in Lightroom before and ended up being very frustrated. Discouraged, I gave up. But I am not a quitter, so this time I gave them a try in Photoshop. One of the on-line classes I took last year with Christina Greve had the perfect tutorial for making them. I love lifetime access classes. I looked up the tutorial, followed it step by step, and conquered the making of a diptych.


I also wanted to have a better understanding of what images made good diptychs so I found these videos by Julianne Kost. I have been basing my pairings on color. Since I tend to lean towards neutral colors, this has been good for me to look at a wider range of colors.

Diptychs are a great storytelling tool, I have more to learn before I am anywhere near proficient. But I am enjoying this new constraint and have a feeling I will continue working within it, even after Susan's #weekofdiptychs is over.




Sunday, May 7, 2017

Scene & Story - April 2017


Everybody's doing a brand new dance, now.
(Come on Baby, do the loco-motion)
I know you'll get to like it if you give it a chance, now.
(Come on Baby, do the loco-motion)

The song comes on the radio and I can't help singing along. Not out-loud of course, but mouthing it with all my might.

Today feels like a good day for antiquing. The rain has finally stopped, the sun is shining. I am on the hunt for things that make me happy. 

I am wandering the aisles of our local antique store. Fascinated by the items that find their way to vendors' booths. There are the objects I remember from my childhood; the avocado-green bun warmer my mom always kept our hamburger buns in, the black metal lunchpail with the silver ribbed thermos that my dad carried to work everyday. I wonder how these memories can be antiques, but then I remember that I am almost fifty, and these items were around before I was. 

I am on the hunt for a couple of specific treasures. First is a table for my daughter's dining room, we just finished painting the room, and now she is extra aware of how empty the space is with the much lighter color on the walls. She is anxious to get a table so she can stop eating her meals on top of the cabinet that covers the radiator. There was a time when I couldn't drag her into an antique store, who would want to buy something old and used. But now she understands the quality and craftsmanship that went into those old pieces. Her Pinterest boards are full of timeless antique objects. With age comes wisdom.

The second treasure I am hunting for is something I am always hunting for: green depression glass plates. I saw some once being used in a coffee shop and I fell in love with them.

There are a couple of table possibilities here, so I snap pictures with my phone and text them to my daughter. There is nothing else to do with that now, except wait. 

I am in the last aisle at the last booth and there in the open display case are two green, oval depression glass plates with matching cups. I lift them out and hold them in my hand, they are perfect. I look for a price, both on the plates and on the cups, no price. Then I see six more oval plates on the bottom shelf of the case, maybe they have a price, no such luck. One of the owners walks by, I stop her and ask about the price. She says, "Oh that gal is here today, I'll go get her for you." Hallelujah!

The booth owner comes to her space and I show her the plates and cups. She says, "I was just using those for display since there are eight plates but only two cups, I didn't think anybody would buy them." The cups are a bonus to me, I want the plates. She says, "I will gladly sell them to you, if you don't mind not having all the cups. How about $20 for the whole lot?" Sold!

Come on, Come on
Do the loco-motion with me

**In April I participated in Susannah Conway's April Love. I am also doing the #the100dayproject - This year I am doing 100 days of writing prompts. This photo and story were from the April Love prompt Patterns.





Sunday, April 30, 2017

Velvet 56 Love


Late last fall, I purchased the Lensbaby Velvet 56. Lensbaby was having a pre-Christmas sale on some of their lens. I have always been intrigued by them, but wasn't sure if I was ready to be that brave and different. The sale was too good to resist (Merry Christmas to me), so I clicked "purchase", and waited for my new lens to arrive.

The demo video that sold me on it, showed beautiful, shallow depth of field portraits of people, hmm... self portraits? My daughter? and of dogs...Findley?

As soon as it arrived via UPS, I sliced open the box and put it on my Canon 6D. Findley...where was Findley? What I wasn't prepared for, was the manual focusing, and I total skipped over the fact that I had to manually set the aperture. Let me say, manually focusing on an energetic puppy, well...the photo says it all.

I slid the Velvet 56 into an empty lens slot in my camera bag, and returned to my 35mm auto-focus lens. The Velvet 56 would stay in the camera bag until this month.


April, a new season, and new subjects to photograph. I dug the Velvet 56 out of the camera bag. I did not go looking for Findley, instead I went to the garden center.

I do get frustrated with not being able to do something well, but rarely do I give up, so I watched some Lensbaby videos and actually learned what to do with the Velvet 56, there was that bit about manually setting the aperture.


A successful outing at the garden center, and I was ready to try the Velvet 56 on a trip. I was tagging along with my husband on a business trip to my favorite part of northern Michigan. A good place to try the lens, on things I know and love, and have photographed many, many times. I was looking for a different approach to these places.


The Velvet 56 stayed on my camera the whole time we were gone. This time the 35mm stayed in the camera bag.


I still have more to learn, more videos to watch, and more practice is needed, but I love the look I am achieving. The Velvet 56 sees the world the way I do - one spot of sharp focus and blurry around the edges.

My husband and I are leaving for vacation in a couple of weeks. We are going through upstate New York, to Boston and to a photography conference in another part of Massachusetts. I have a feeling the Velvet 56 will be getting a lot of use.