Tuesday, July 30, 2013

I got a new camera

For my birthday this year, I decided to treat myself to a very expensive present.  I've been looking to switch to a full frame camera for about a year, and when I heard about the Canon 6D, I pretty much had to have it.  I'm no photo expert, and I don't pretend to be professional, but I do love taking good photos and learning how to improve.
Considered an 'entry level' full frame, the 6D has photo quality equal (so I've heard) to the Canon 5D Mark III, but with less frames per second, less focus points, less weight, and about $1800 less dollars out of my bank account for the kit with lens.  The sacrifices were easy to make to save all that cash, and I am beyond thrilled with the photos I'm able to get with this camera and my favorite 28mm lens!
ISO 100, 1/40, f/5, 28mm
I took this one and was impressed at the clarity in his face, so I zoomed in...
...and peed myself.  I could see all the little drops of water in his hair, which just blew my mind.  The only editing I did was the white balance.  Most of the photos I take with this camera are super sharp. 
ISO 1250, 1/4000, f/2.8, 28mm
The best thing about the full frame is the amount of light that hits the sensor.  It's a crazy difference looking through the viewfinder of this camera compared to my crop-sensor Rebel XSi.  It also has amazing ISO capability, up to 25,600 where my Rebel's limit was 1600!  In the one above, I set the ISO higher at 1250 because we were shaded by a tree, and there is no noticeable noise in the photo.  Win! 
ISO 4000, 1/3200, f/3.5, 28mm
In the above shot of our friend's 1 year old, it was overcast so I started playing around with the ISO.  I loved this shot with her kissy lips, and there is just a bit of noise at ISO 4000 in this photo.  She is so adorable! 
ISO 100, 1/250, f/2.2, 28mm
I took this photo of our friend's son Sammy at a festival, it was a lucky shot because he was making all kinds of funny faces.  I regret the people standing in the background, but I'm not good enough at photoshop to edit them out, and the large aperture makes them nice and blurry. 
ISO 400, 1/250, f/9, 28mm
I snapped this one at a cool Alterra coffee in Milwaukee, it was blazing hot and Ashford would've jumped into this awesome fountain if we let him!  I love the lines in the photo, and the way the baby is looking at the camera while eating germs off that random water toy.  I chose a smaller aperture to make sure the scene behind him was in focus.   
ISO 100, 1/160, f/3.2, 28mm
I set the camera on a little table outside to try to get a couple nice photos of me and Ash....good luck!  I think I look nice, but he was not interested in photos that day.  I still think the quality of the photo is really good for being a remote shutter pic.
ISO 100, 1/80, f/2.5, 28mm
I also had to share this sparkly-eyed shot of little Sammy, he is just a beautiful boy and the light from the window was doing awesome things for his eyes.  I thought about warming up the color a bit, but he really is a pretty pale kid so I left it!  One thing that I always marvel at with the 6D, is the slower shutter speeds I can get away with.  This one is 1/80 and usually I would get a softer photo, but this one is very sharp.  
ISO 100, 1/250, f/2.5, 28mm
This pic was obviously Ashford's first haircut.  He was not pleased.  And I must admit, I am not pleased that my little baby now looks like a 4 year old! 
ISO 250, 1/160, f/5, 28mm
I can't wait for that hair to grow back!
ps - Hmmm...looking back at this post, I seem to spend entirely too much time taking photos of 1 year olds.  

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Quitters in my yard

I was rather upset this year to see that several of my well-established shrubs bit the big one.  I don't know if it was the long, cold winter, the non-existent summer (until this hot-as-Hades week), or the fact that last fall I had a baby taking up my time and didn't do all the covering and mulching I usually do.  I am specifically pissed about my dappled willow...which looked like this last summer:
And this, as of last week:
WHY?!  WHY?!  We gave it a long chance to perk up, but when the existing foliage started to brown and shrivel, we knew it was over.  Now, it sits in a bin waiting to be taken back to the garden center for a new plant.  We bought this one in 2009.  Luckily, I always get a 5 year warranty when I buy shrubs from my favorite store.  (Stein, if you're curious)
Sad.  I was also devastated by a hydrangea crisis.  I usually cover my patio hydrangeas with burlap, but last fall I said 'I think they are old enough to make it through the winter unprotected' which translates to 'I don't feel like covering my effing plants!'  So, it is my fault that both shrubs were badly compromised and will not bloom this year.
At least the foliage is in good shape.  One of our hydrangea vines was also a quitter this year, with one half of it giving up and dying.  It was already the skinny one, so this is just the icing on the cake:
Monstrous hydrangea vine, meet sad, sickly hydrangea vine.  We also ripped out a smoke bush that died after just planting it last summer, I didn't take a picture because it is so annoying to me.  I also have a 'Wine and Roses' Weigela that died back quite a bit...and now we have a silly misshapen shrub with a long branch that I need to cut off. 
It usually looks like this!
One last sadness....my prized 'Rio Samba' rose.  It is one of the most beautiful roses I've ever seen, and it has always been such a rock star in my yard.  The blooms are huge and people stop on the sidewalk to look at them. 
Not this summer, it is bravely fighting severe black spot. 
This pic was taken a couple weeks ago, I've since pulled almost all of the leaves off to try to stop the spread.  I have literally spent EVERY evening messing around with this dumb rose.  Ain't nobody got time for that!  Right now it is covered with powdered sulfur to help control the disease, and it seems to be working because I'm seeing new growth.  
It still looks like a skeleton next to the robust beauty next to it.  Blah. 
Makes me sick, since they looked like this last summer:
I'm hoping that all my extra attention will save it.  Also, it would be GREAT it mother nature would stop giving Wisconsin either constant downpours or oppressive heat and humidity.  Can't it always be 76 and sunny, with evening showers so I don't have to water everything?  I guess I should move to California....

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Catch up

So many things have happened in the last month!  Our baby turned 1, and we had a party.  It was exhausting!
I was attaching tissue poms to the ceiling way too late the night before.  There was an emergency trip to (multiple) Walgreens to buy command strips because I couldn't get push pins into the plaster ceiling to save my life.  They looked really cute, though.
The birthday boy was mostly in good spirits.
Until we did the cake, when this happened. 
I have a child that hates cake.  If I wasn't there when he was born, I'd say he wasn't mine.      The cake itself turned out exactly as I wanted it.  I had a very detailed color-coded print out of what I wanted it to look like, and the bakery made this control-freak mama extremely happy!  (Me: "Those are circles, NOT balloons...it is very important that you write 'circles, not balloons' on the order, please."  Employee:  "Um, ok.")    
I also spent hours crafting a bunch of crap because I felt the pressure of other blog moms and of course stupid Pinterest...let me show you all the nonsense I wasted my life on.  First, I made 7 strands of felt-circle garland that are still hanging up because I can't bear to take them down after all that work.
Then I cut out my favorites from each of Ashford's monthly photos and hot glued this crazy photo bunting thing that instantly curled up from the horrid, swamp-ass-inducing humidity.  Of course.  
If you can get past the curly photos, it did turn out pretty cute.  And yes, it is still hanging up a month later.  For full disclosure, I took this photo on July 3rd.  Dork!
I made a little door sign with leftover felt circles and card stock.  
And I also made goody bags for the kids with scrapbook paper tie and bow tie toppers.  I was so proud of these, and only a few kids actually showed up.  Oh well, more chalk and yo-yos for us. 
Here is the adorable invite I made at Tiny Prints.  I love their stuff!  (ps - don't send me spam emails)  
And that about sums up the party.  I am glad we survived!  Since I'm way behind, here are my favorite shots from his 12 month photos...
He is walking exclusively, has said 'mama' to me exactly ONE time, and has the cutest baby mullet that I refuse to cut.  He weighed just 18 lbs 12 oz at his one year appointment (only 6 oz more than his 9 month!), so we have been trying to up his calories by giving him greek yogurt and more protein.  Such a picky eater!
It seems to be working, he has already gained a pound in the last month.  
He is a happy, skinny baby. 
In other news, I have been extremely busy at work.  I like to say I've been 'working like it's my job.'  We have done nothing further with the basement, and I also have not touched the closet in our bedroom.  However, I turned 34 on June 20th, so I get a pass for being old.