Monday, May 31, 2010


When I was shooting my insect friends this past week, I was just interested in focus, mainly. I was shocked and excited to find this one covered in pollen when I unloaded my memory card. I also love the little details of the that I don't appreciate nearly enough!

Sunday, May 30, 2010


I finally got out with my macro lens in search of bugs this week. Unfortunately, it was bright and sunny, so I compromised image quality with my subjects. This beetle intrigued me for a while, and I hated that so much of his highlights were blown out!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Focus Stacking

In the recent past, I have come across several articles on "focus stacking". Basically, it is hard to get all of an image in focus when shooting macro (and some landscapes, as well) and one way of making that work is to shoot multiple images with different parts in focus, and then combining in post processing.

I went outside and searched for good subjects. I set up my tripod and started firing away on these leaves, manually focusing. I erred on the side of too few images. Some parts are a bit blurry, unfortunately. This one was 4 shots put together, which should have been more. I am pleased with how it turned out though, as a first attempt. It took a lot of time, but I'm intrigued to see what else I can do with it.

For the second image I did, I really did not plan it out well. This is 3 images, and I originally planned to have the blurred leaves in focus. It did not work too well, and I'm unsure of my opinion of the final result.

Let me know if you try this technique and how it worked for you!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

May Quake

Was rudely shaken awake by an earthquake Monday morning at 4am. I groggily realized we were having a rather violent quake (only 4.7) but with a sudden jolt, it was finished. I vaguely thought to look it up in the morning and subsequently blog about it.

A few hours later, after waking up, I logged onto Facebook and saw several updates about it. I realized after a few minutes that yes, there had been a quake that morning. It turns out there was a 3.7 one a couple hours later that morning, as well. I also learned there had been two 4.0 quakes the two mornings before.

The whispers are that people hope the ground is letting off steam and not building up to a big one. We all know the big one is coming again, but later rather than sooner, please! Though one comment I heard explained there were a ton of smaller quakes leading up to '64 quake....

10:30 PM

I have long admired and longed to imitate the styles of incredible landscape photographers. Everytime I learn a new technique, or post processing tip, my images improve, but I know I still fall short of that lofty goal. One thing I have been trying to practice is taking shots with longer shutter speeds.

I have some filters for my wide angle lens, but not enough to make it very dark. Thus, to be able make a slower shutter speed effective, and not blown out, these shots need to be taken at sunset. Landscapes should be taken when the light is best anyway, so it is a win win. Except, sunset here in Alaska is getting later and later. This shot was taken around 10:30pm, just a few days ago. The sun was not gone yet, but it was getting close. Tonight's sunset is at 11pm.

So, I long to try out some techniques, but I must wait for the fall when the amount of sunshine decreases. Who would have ever guessed I would look forward to the fall!

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Hillside

This is how I know summer is truly on its way. I have been eyeing the drab colors of the hillside for weeks now, hoping for some glimpse of color. I finally saw some this week! The new buds on the trees are finally showing up! I love seeing the transformation as the land explodes in color.

It seems likes my yard just turned green overnight. Both the good and the bad plants are back in full force, but I am so happy to see them!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

You Know You Live in Alaska...

A couple of days ago, my boss walked in the door with a big grin on her face. She exclaimed, "I just saw my first set of twins!"

My coworker and I excitedly chattered over the story after that. I loved the fact that we knew exactly what she was talking about without any clarification.

What did she see? Twins?

Newborn moose calves.

Moose are everywhere here. They come up in conversation mainly so that people know they are around so they can be avoided. But newborn calves are a conversation topic, for sure. They are just so cute, that I don't know anyone that won't rush to the window to see one.

The babies in the shot above were last year's calves. I have been on the lookout for one in my yard, but no such luck yet :)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Little Moments

This past Sunday marked five years of C and I almost being a couple. Our official five year mark is in a couple more weeks, but May 16th is the day C broke the silence and told me how he felt, amazing me since I had no idea he felt the same way. I have been marvelling this month at five years together. I probably did not say that right, but what I mean is the passage of time. Sometimes it seems like so much longer, but mostly so short. I spent some time yesterday going through images I had taken from 2005, and just shaking my head at how life changes. Little brothers grow up, and friendships grow apart. But time also can knit together, and C and I fit that description I think.
I proclaimed that we needed to go out to eat on our day off, in honor of five years. But really, I just wanted to eat out :P We went to a recently opened "Bistro" in the tourist district and decided that it was worth a try, despite the higher prices. C got a kabob with chicken, pineapple, onion and bell pepper marinated in a sauce and fried over a grill, and served with rice. I got a grilled turkey sandwich, marinated in a similar concoction. It was an interesting meal, and quite tasty. Not sure if we will go again, just because it was pricey (and honestly, will it stay open past the summer? :( )
We departed and went to the grocery store. I let C pick the ice cream flavor, since I usually do the shopping by myself. He stared at the case for a while, obviously weighing the pros and cons of the different flavors. I grew tired of standing still, waiting for a decision and so I leaned closer to him. Distractedly, he hugged me, but then looked down and smiled, then kissed my forehead. I hugged him back and his attention went back to the ice cream before him. I stood with him for a bit, content to be with him as people continued shopping around us.

I loved feeling for a second that the world was stopping for us, to savor an embrace from the one you love. Not long after, C picked his flavor and the world started up again. I forgot about the exchange as I went through the checkout line, but after getting home I thought of it again, realizing how precious the moment was. Those are the times I want to remember and cherish, moments of quiet love amidst the craziness of the world.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


I finished my 4th year of college with a bang! Two A's and two B's. I was unsure how my grades would be most of the semester, so I was quite pleased to have truly done well.

I am starting my fifth year of college in the fall. I am going into this one a bit anxiously as I would love to finish up the degree in the spring, but of course, the last eight classes I need are the hardest ones. I plan to talk to my advisor and see what he has to say about it. At this point, I am signed up for three classes, including the one I failed a year ago. Turns out it is a prerequisite for the rest of the classes, so I have to get it out of the way.

I started my summer work on Saturday. Back to the grind stone. I had an extraordinary amount of time free before it started. I tried to make the most of it and live an entire summer in two weeks. It didn't really happen, but it was still a nice time.

The past two weeks have been incredibly busy and C and I have had to step back and prioritize. Tomorrow is my nephew's graduation from high school, and hopefully everything will slow down after that.

It's strange working full time again. It's also a bit boring, since most of the summer's tourists have not arrived yet.

I'm eager to get the extra cash for the summer. My job basically pays for my tuition, and it will be so nice to not have to pay that bill once my degree is done!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Many people do not find Walmart to be that special. The products all seem to come from China, the employees are not treated fairly, and other common complaints all taint the image of the company. Many have a Walmart near their house or even two and regularly make trips there.

Growing up, I loved Walmart. It was the place I could buy journals and picture frames inexpensively, and even buy $5 DVDs. When I went on vacation to the Lower 48, my family would always go to Walmart as the prices were better and there was a different selection. Hours were spent in different Walmarts in different states. As I prepared to get married, and after my wedding, it was the place to go to get cheap pancake flippers and other items we did not receive as wedding gifts. As I stocked up my kitchen, Walmart became the place to go to stock up on cereal and canned food. Everything sold in Alaska is incredibly expensive. Our cost of living is quite high, and the cost savings at Walmart are just too good to pass up for a lot of items.

Unfortunately, up until this past month, I was lucky if I made it to Walmart twice a year. Supposedly, my humble town was known as the farthest on the road system away from a Walmart, at over 200 miles away. In the past two years, whenever I darkened the doors of Walmart, I would often leave with an over flowing cart and a bill over $300...full of Kleenex and mayonnaise, among other items. The store clerks often looked at me funny, but when I explained my home location, they knowingly nodded.

In the past two years, the rumors have abounded, but they came true: a Walmart opened up at the end of March, 75 miles away from home.

It was highly amusing to watch Facebook as the weeks went by. Friends and family members went to see the famed building and were in awe and ecstatic to be able to get what they needed in a 2 hour drive instead of 5.

Mom and I finally made the trip last week. The new super Walmart was incredibly large. Bigger than the big city's one, I believe. We wandered the aisles, storing information away on prices and availability of items not available farther down the road. Most prices were not as good as they are in the Lower 48, but a lot were still cheaper than in small town Alaska.

I did spend a bit of money, but it was satisfying to know that I can get to Walmart more than twice a year now!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Bonfire on the Beach

Summer is truly on its way! Attended my first bonfire on the beach of the season last week! Two friends came back from school and it was a great way to have everyone come out to say hello! I stayed almost two hours in the wind, and came home smiling and smelling like wood smoke.

I don't know if bonfires are very common around the country or not. They are a staple of Alaskan summers, and unfortunately can become out of control if alcohol is around. They are a great and inexpensive way to have fun on the long Alaskan days after work.


Tiger also lives at my in laws' home. He is always eager to see me, and often a willing participant in my photo shoots. Amazingly. Definitely nice to have one out of the five cats in my life cooperate with me some of the time!

Date: 5/10/10
Aperture: f/1.8
Shutter: 1/30 sec
ISO: 100
Focal Length: 100mm
Tripod? Handheld

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Dinner with the In Laws

C and I went to his parents' house Monday night. We had a family dinner, which does not happen often enough! These dinners are often filled with crazy jokes and lots of laughter. I often end up the brunt of the jokes, somehow, but as the years have passed, I have learned a bit more on how to hold my own and often offer more and more clever comebacks.

Before and after dinner, I chased the cats and the dog around with the camera. Nothing new there :) There are a couple more family dinners planned in the next couple of months, which will be great fun!


Lily is the goofy kitty that lives at my in laws' home. She is beautiful, but a bit stand offish, and therefore not cuddly. She often looks irritated, making photos of her difficult. My brother in law was tormenting her in this shot, but it makes her eyes stand out beautifully!

Date: 5/10/10
Aperture: f/1.8
Shutter: 1/15 sec
ISO: 100
Focal Length: 100mm
Tripod? Handheld

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Hometown Gatos

Monday morning I went for a short jaunt to my hometown. I went on a photographic mission to shoot the signs of spring, but I also wanted to love on my kitties! I didn't see Luv, but OB followed me around the yard and Tunia tolerated me. These two are turning seven years old this summer!

Orange Boy in the Dirt

Spent some time with my kitties this week. OB entertained my by rolling in the dirt and the new growth on the

Date: 5/10/10
Aperture: f/2.8
Shutter: 1/1600 sec
ISO: 100
Focal Length: 100mm
Tripod? Handheld

Friday, May 14, 2010

Mother's Day

Mother's Day turned out to be really nice. I went to lunch with my parents and while we were there, my brother called. He was alone in town (without his family) and joined us for lunch. Only my sister was missing and we would have had a complete family lunch. I can't think of the last time we had a family lunch with only the five of us.

It was a great time and I enjoyed loving on my mom!


Taking a wild guess here, but I think these cones are from an alder tree. Just another sign of spring!

Date: 5/10/10
Aperture: f/2.8
Shutter: 1/500 sec
ISO: 100
Focal Length: 100mm
Tripod? Handheld

Thursday, May 13, 2010

In Flight

Two more shots taken with the macro lens. It is shocking to me how just a few more available aperture stops makes these images in sharp detail (faster shutter speed, basically). I would not have been able to get these shots with my telephoto lens.

Date: 5/4/10
Aperture: f/2.8
Shutter: 1/2500 sec
ISO: 100
Focal Length: 100mm
Tripod? Handheld

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Life and Death of a Sand Castle

Redhead and I headed out last week to make a sand castle. The weather was glorious and she wisely had me wear my mud boots!

We went to the beach and picked a spot to build a sand castle on that would sooner rather than later get overtaken by the waves. In her opinion, that is the only way to do it!

While it was a bit warm out, it was still windy, and cold, wet sand does not keep the shivers away. We labored for an hour or so, and then waited for the tide to come in. Meanwhile, where we were standing soon became an island! We watched with wary eyes to make sure we wouldn't be walking through too much water to get back onto the beach.

Soon, the water overtook the moat and then the castle! We left soon after this point and waded back to shore. It was a good time for a nice May day! And the start of summer!!

About to Take Flight

A friend and I were building a sand castle far down the beach when this eagle landed. Of course, I did not have my long telephoto lens with me. I did have my 100mm macro lens, so I started wandering towards the eagle. When the eagles do land on the sand of the beach, humans are often a long ways off. This one eyed me warily for a bit, and took off soon after this shot was taken.

Date: 5/4/10
Aperture: f/2.8
Shutter: 1/2000 sec
ISO: 100
Focal Length: 100mm
Tripod? Handheld

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Student Art Showcase

April 30, the local college had a student art showcase. Because I took a photography class in the fall, I was able to submit a piece of work to it. I took a poll on my Facebook photography fanpage, and "Kachemak Bay in the Golden Hour" won. The framed print turned out amazing, and it is up for a month at the college.

I stayed at the college for almost two hours as family and friends filtered through. It was definitely a challenge to be gracious with praise for my work. I don't take praise or criticism well, at least in person, which is something I need to work on!

My professor for the class was delighted with the image, so that was a good sign :) It was a good experience, and also good to see what people that I do not know thought of my work.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Dad's Birthday

Saturday, May 1, was my dad's birthday. C and I went out for dinner with the rest of the family in town. My sister in law made this incredible German chocolate cake.

Mom and I took several photos.
We had a good seat in the restaurant and watched the eagles outside. There were people fishing, so we watched the eagles snatch fish from the water and then fight over them. A sea otter floated by several times as well, so we had great dinner entertainment.

The cake my sister in law made was incredible. Very elegant, and extremely tasty!

Friday, May 7, 2010


A young moose grazed on the new grass in my yard on Monday evening. He didn't stand a chance against my camera!

Date: 5/3/10
Aperture: f/4
Shutter: 1/200 sec
ISO: 100
Focal Length: 70mm
Tripod? Handheld

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Spring has Arrived!

I was quite pleased to wander outside last week and see random flowers starting to appear! The grass is finally coming up and the trees are all starting to bud finally. I look forward to more!

Date: 5/3/10
Aperture: f/5
Shutter: 1/800 sec
ISO: 100
Focal Length: 100
Tripod? Yes

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

A Pause from Dinner

On Saturday, my family and I went out for dinner at the end of the Spit. We watched several eagles fight over fish caught. There were fisherman fishing, and small dogs wandering on leashes. Thankfully, the fish caught by the birds came straight from the ocean, not a fisherman's line or a poor pedestrian's leash.

I stepped outside after dinner to take some shots.

Date: 5/1/10
Aperture: f/5.6
Shutter: 1/125 sec
ISO: 100
Focal Length: 300mm
Tripod? Handheld

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Student Art Showcase

On Friday night, the Kachemak Bay Campus of UAA hosted a student art showcase. I entered "Kachemak Bay in the Golden Hour".
Each of the students that had work entered in the showcase and which category of art it was from.

Delicious hors' dourves served by the student council.

Me with my piece.

Feel free to go into the college if you are in the area! The show is up until the end of May.