My Learning Curve

Opportunities for interesting blog posts and/or photography have been pretty much non-existent since the wrens fledged.  For the past week or more my lymphocytic colitis has been quite terrible so I had another appointment with my gastroenterologist and have gone back on the (very expensive) medication, which is doing the job for which it is intended – Praise God.

Along with dealing with the colitis, I also threw out my left shoulder and pulled the muscles, so I was dealing with that excruciating pain.  My dad – who is 87 years old – was admitted to the hospital for the second time in three weeks, and we also celebrated Mark’s 50th birthday with a little surprise party I organized for his co-workers and friends and also a small get-together here at home on the real day with family and friends.  With so much going on, blogging and photography took a way-back seat.

For Mark’s birthday dinner we made Low Country Boil and I have to take just a moment to brag because it was amazing!!!  Low Country Boil is a staple in the coastal region of South Carolina.  It consists of new potatoes, corn on the cob, sausage, onions and shrimp.  I found a good recipe on Pinterest (check it out here) but then we changed it to suit our taste.  We used a half-gallon of chicken stock and a half-gallon of water along with the beer (instead of all water) and also adjusted the seasonings, omitting the hot sauce and tablespoon of red pepper, which would have been way too spicy for our tastes.  Mark covered the patio table with brown paper and we served it on the table along with beer bread purchased at the farmer’s market, cheeses and condiments.  I took a photo with my phone and it actually turned out well.  What a yummy meal!

Mark's birthday dinner.

Mark’s birthday dinner.

This photo only shows half of what we made – we ended up with lots of leftovers!

Needless to say, with all that has been going on, my new camera sat untouched for nearly two weeks.  I was really happy when my good friend Juli suggested we go somewhere to practice our photography.  We decided on a trip to Toledo Botanical Gardens.  Juli has taken classes in photography and has a much more artistic eye than I have, so she was a big help in pointing out good color combinations, interesting angles, etc.  I have continued to read and experiment with my camera but I have decided that I am going to lighten up on myself and not worry so much if I understand everything.  As long as I continue to learn and improve – and have FUN – that is enough.

The day was mostly cloudy and humid, which actually helped us somewhat because they were high clouds, giving us a nice filtered light with no harsh shadows.  The Toledo Botanical Gardens had hosted a huge art show over the weekend, so the groundskeepers were bustling everywhere in their golf carts, cleaning up tents, tables and chairs.  We found plenty of things to photograph.

We started out with this turtle sunning himself.

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Then we moved on to the ducks.  There were ducks feeding…

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Ducks preening… (in unison)

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Ducks swimming…

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Ducks resting…

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And ducks just looking pretty…

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Eventually we did move on to other things, like dragonflies.  I was really pleased with these shots.  They are not cropped at all and I didn’t even have to fix them in post processing!

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Believe it or not, there are actually flowers at the Toledo Botanical Gardens, and I did get around to photographing some of them.  I am learning that photographing white flowers is difficult because the light seems to reflect off them.  But these didn’t turn out too bad.

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We peeked through windows…

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And doors….

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I have been very impressed by a couple of the bloggers I follow and their ability to photograph bees.  I learned what a skill this is, since bees aren’t ones to sit around posing for pictures.  I used the continuous shooting function on my camera to take three quick shots of this (very small) bee.  These were my best photos of the day.  I love the sharpness of the purple flower.  These also are not cropped or post-processed.

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This is one of my favorite statues in the gardens.  It makes a very appealing and willing subject so I photographed her from the front…

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From the side…

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And from the back…

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Here are some yellow lilies, at least I think these are lilies.  You all know how I am with flowers. 🙂

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This is another of my favorites at the gardens, I believe it is titled Woman with Birds.  Unfortunately the sun was directly overhead so if I photographed her from the front she just looked like a big dark blob, but from the side you can’t really see the beauty of the piece.

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I will end with a couple of colorful displays.

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Oh, and one more, just because I like this one.  🙂

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I suppose I put way too many photos in this post, but since I am learning, I thought all of these were good examples of what I am learning and how I’m trying to improve and experiment.  If there are followers who don’t like “too many photographs” – they can scroll past. 🙂

Tomorrow we head north for the Fourth of July holiday, so hopefully I will have some fun Northwoods Adventures to post about in the coming days!

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17 Responses to My Learning Curve

  1. avian101 says:

    Nice post Amy! There isn’t such thing as too many photos for any photographer! Have a great 4th of July too! 🙂


  2. kathydoremus says:

    Lovely photos. Praying that you are feeling better! 🙂


  3. Bob Zeller says:

    Hi, Amy. I am impressed with your photographs. You are learning very well. I can understand you problems photographing white flowers under a bright sun. That is why I love to photograph flowers on overcast days. That glare is at a minimum then, and the colors actually get more saturated. When you have no other choice, perhaps you can get a circular polarizing filter, and learn to use that. You would be thrilled with the results. Minimal glare, great bold colors, bluer skies and white clouds. If you get one, perhaps I can give you some tips. Anyway, I am proud of your progress. 🙂


    • Bob, I can’t thank you enough for all your kind words and encouragement and help! I appreciate it so much. I will have to look into the polarizing filter as I am finding that my photos often look washed out to me when there is too much glare off things like walkways or other light-colored objects. Of course, the camera also has features that I haven’t figured out yet, but I’m trying to take things one step at a time. 🙂


      • Bob Zeller says:

        There is also a neutral density filter that some people use with great success, but I have no experience with it. The polarizer is tricky to use, but great fun when you learn what it can do.


      • Oh dear, tricky? I’m not very good at mastering tricky things! 🙂 I do have determination, though, so I guess that helps.


  4. First, I hope that you’re feeling better.

    Two, I’m glad that you’ve decided to have some fun, because your photos are very good already, you’ve come a long way in a short time. Having fun will translate into even better photos.

    A polarizing filter can cut down on glare, but you can also crank the exposure compensation down to help as well. My starting point for white flowers is -2/3 stop EV, and I go down from there.

    I believe that you camera has a setting for snow or sandy beaches where the scene is very bright, you may want to try that out as well.


    • Thanks, Jerry! Your advice is always helpful and I’m trying to apply the things you tell me. I’ve also been doing some reading – I started getting a digital photography newsletter that gives lots of hints and tips. I figure as I continue to read and learn, eventually it will all start making more sense. I’m also getting more brave about the buttons. 😀


  5. tootlepedal says:

    I was able to change the automatic white balance on my pocketcam to one for bright sun and that made an enormous difference in taking shots of strong colours.and whites. The automatic setting didn’t work well at all in bright summer sunshine. Your pictures were most enjoyable to look at so I am glad that you had fun taking them.


    • Thank you, Tom! And yes, I can change the white balance setting. Later this afternoon I was reading the manual again and playing with some of the settings and I think my white balance setting had gotten put on the wrong thing at some point it got set on “custom 2” – don’t ask me how! Also, I found out there is a glare-reduction setting and a setting to help balance shadow, so I set those as well. I’m learning little bits at a time. Thanks for all your help!!


  6. Juli Wink says:

    Amy, Your pictures turned out great! Especially the honey bees, and everyone believe me, those buggers would not sit still at all, not even for a second, they constantly moved, so I’m impressed with your camera as well as with you. I think your photos are very good and don’t sell yourself short, you have a good eye too. Hey when did you see the dragonflys, i didnt even know you saw them! They are cool. 🙂
    I agree with the others about the polarizing lens, you will love it.


    • 🙂 I think I was taking the pictures of the dragonfly while you were taking pictures of the white flowers – hydrangeas? – against the stone wall. Thank you for the encouragement! And for asking me to go on a photo shoot. You need to get a camera like mine and then we will really have fun going picture-taking and comparing notes! 🙂


  7. Juli Wink says:

    Amy, I think that turtle is missing his front right leg. In the pictures i took, i noticed it.


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