2014 P52 Week 25: Slow Shutter

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

So. I went out in the pouring rain (um, it wasn’t pouring when I left the house) with my hydrophobic, very very clingy two-year-old, my camera, my shutter release cable (my camera cannot take a remote), a rather small tripod, and a rather large umbrella, among other things. We went into the local woods. I wanted to get some nice misty woodsy slow shutter shots. My first 25 shots were completely black. By this time it was certainly pouring and I realized I’d forgotten Iris’ raincoat. The biggest problem, however, was that I only have two hands: one for the camera, one for the umbrella, one for the shutter release, one for the toddler and— wait— that’s already more than two.


My first few awesome-seeming shots were, as mentioned, black. Eventually I learned this was because, for some reason, the camera has a minimum shutter speed of 1/35 in Aperture Priority. Maybe I set it that way. So, after bush-whacking through stinging nettle and phototoxic giant hogweed, we came to my favorite secret little sand bar on the river. There I huddled under my umbrella with Iris and fiddled with the camera and the (stupid) shutter release and eventually figured out, more or less, what I was doing. I put the camera on fully manual and took a few lousy shots.


In theory, I should be able to leave the shutter on my camera open for 30 seconds, but I could only figure out how to get it to ¼ second, which left me using f5.6 when I really wanted f16. I hadn’t thought of raising the ISO yet. So I took some slightly less lousy shots in the woods. By this time, I was carrying wet Iris in a wet carrier on my back and kneeling down in the mud my wet pants.







I went on in this manner for some time, taking mostly lousy shots until I came to the river again, where I set up my tripod in attempt to get that fuzzy water look. I took some more lousy shots in the pouring rain. They are generally slightly blurry everywhere, which I blame on either (a) camera shake or (b) rain. Did I mention the quantity of mosquitos?





Then I carried Cutie and my loot to the stone bench, where I tried, at last, to take some photos of my adorable daughter who had briefly let go of my hand to pick her nose. Unfortunately, she wouldn’t take her finger out of her nose until she needed it to wipe a blackfly from her eye.





Then we went home. Amazingly, a good time was had by all, and the camera stayed more or less dry.





Assignment: Landscape

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

This weeks Project 52 assignment was “Landscape.” (I still have not done last week’s.) I have some really good landscape photos. Really, I do. I’m quite shy, and I’ve traveled a bit, and landscapes are much less intimidating than just about anything else. Nonetheless, I’m using this P52 to get me to take exactly one photograph each week that I otherwise would not have taken. My submission this week is pretty horrible. However, it justabout captures my recent attitude about some things perfectly, so I figured I’d post it.

All the photo is missing, really, is a pig. I could have waited until the pig came back into the frame (you can see him leaving, off in the shadows to the left) and centered himself in the mudhole between the fences and then gave me a dirty look, but I didn’t want to. I was standing in cow mud. I took one photograph.



Assignment: Food

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

With the exception of exactly two three people, everyone posted some format of sugar for this week’s Project52 Assignment: Food. The vast majority of them by far were sugary confections: dozens of cupcakes, muffins, cookies and other baked sweets. Running far behind in second place came fruits: one bowl of oranges; one portrait of two pairs; a closeup of blueberries; a bowl of strawberries; a sliced orange. In third came starchy vegetables: a sliced potato with onions (raw); a sliced carrot (raw). The carrot is my go-to vegetable when I am craving sugar. It is nice and juicy and lightly sweet.


The three non-carb submissions were: a bottle of wine; the contents of a refrigerator (plenty sweets inside, but it was not a photo of sweets); and lastly, two eggs. The eggs were my absolute favorite. One brown, one speckled on a worn tabletop. Round. Warm.


Then, there was me. The title of my post was “Food for Microbes!” Technically speaking, it is incorrect. My food is infested with thousands of macroscopic creatures. Following is my post.




“Getting food to our tables eats up 10 percent of the total U.S. energy budget, uses 50 percent of U.S. land, and swallows 80 percent of freshwater consumed in the United States. Yet, 40 percent of food in the United States today goes uneaten. That is more than 20 pounds of food per person every month. Not only does this mean that Americans are throwing out the equivalent of $165 billion each year, but also 25 percent of all freshwater and huge amounts of unnecessary chemicals, energy, and land. Moreover, almost all of that uneaten food ends up rotting in landfills where it accounts for almost 25 percent of U.S. methane emissions.”
—Natural Resources Defense Council


I take in homeless food waste. In winter, not much happens to it. Freeze-thaw breaks down cell membranes.



Spring comes. Today I mixed the food with old leaves and woodchips.



This is last year’s finished compost.



All that is left to waste is the bones. As we have learned from the dinosaurs, bones can last a very long time



Spring Flowers

Friday, March 28th, 2014

Iris & I went to visit Mom, a.k.a. Gramma.

This is the first flower I saw in her yard.

Then I looked up and—


a carpet of spring flowers surrounded me.




Assignment: centered composition

Assignment: Alternative Light

Monday, March 10th, 2014

“Alternative Light” is a challenge to be creative about my light source.

I commandeered this brass candle holder from Mom, with her blessings.




Shadows are truly alternative light.



ISO 25600

Friday, February 21st, 2014

This week’s assignment was to take some photographs in low-light conditions.

I turned my ISO all the way up.
















Mostly we’ve been sick again

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

Following some directions on youtube, I made my regular ol’ convertible Wescott ‘brolly into a brolly-box. I really like how it softens the light. Unfortunately, my skills at flashing are still pretty low. So is my ambition for creative photography this week. The assignment was “directional light: side lighting.” I barely scraped by.


Iris looks into the light. Flash!



I try to get Iris to sit still a minute & end up with another underexposed photo.


Assignment: Your Town

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014



Shelburne, VT is a cute perfect little New England town with lots of picturesque historic buildings and farms and fantastic architecture dotted all over the landscape. My house is right in the village on a little loop drive that abuts the LaPlatte Nature Park. There’s about fifteen little houses on little lots in my little loop neighborhood. There’s a big field for wandering around in and the sledding hill and the community gardens all right here. One could walk to the grocery store or the PO or the hardware or one of a few decent restaurants via the woods, should one choose to do so. It’s not some vast wilderness, tho. It’s a little city wilderness. It’s owned by the Nature Conservancy. Pass two houses, go by the community garden, enter the woods and go down the steep trail, take a right at the bottom, go over the little bridge and walk a ways and you’ll get to LaPlatte Falls. It’s frozen, because it’s been sub-zero for weeks. I bought this stupid over-priced, shoddy-built, teeny-tiny, leaky cold wet house with no central heating in central Vermont because I can walk out the door and think: This is it. This is my town. These are my woods. These are my falls. This is my everything. I am here.

Amaryllis Bloom

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014



The subject for last week’s P52 was “My favorite,” which can mean anything. An inordinate number of people posted photos of their favorite child. I wasn’t going to post a photo of my child at all, because I’m above all that. Of course, I only have one child. The two of us have spend the last week housebound, knocked off our feet by some gruesome intestinal flu. Iris threw up lots and lots. She didn’t eat anything but momma milk for nearly a week, tho now she has bites of custard now and again. 

Assignment: Disaster

Monday, January 13th, 2014

“If you had to leave your house at a moment’s notice— if, for example, your house was on fire— what would you take? Now, I’m going go out on a limb and assume you want all the living creatures in your house to survive and that you’re going to be taking them with you. But, what possessions do you value? What are the things in your life that are so important to you that you would spend the very spare moments that you have left to collect them?”


To be honest, I don’t think I’d remember to take much out of the house. I’d try to wear appropriate clothing and maybe grab my wallet; if I’m lucky I’d grab my laptop. It has my life’s work on it. Mostly.


There were the wandering years: the years when mind and body wandered, looking for a home. There were those years I wrote myself into existence. I wrote, “I write, therefore I exist.” I wrote myself into history. I have gathered, in my maternal grandfather’s old army trunk that sits by the front door, notes from the wandering years.




I do not feel as if I have sufficiently captured the breadth or depth of bound paper in this photograph. The earliest writings start in elementary school; they cease shortly after the birth of my daughter. There is a binder containing most of my slides. There is my laptop. The binders containing thousands of film negatives are not pictured: I keep them in the room where Iris was sleeping. Like a fire, I had a short amount of time to gather everything and photograph. I did not risk the back bedroom. Also not pictured are my passport and the aforementioned wallet. I like to think I’d have the wherewithal to grab them in case of fire. I think I would.