31-ish Days of my XTi | Day 20 - Puffer

Source: bing.com via Candice on Pinterest
The puffer is one of my new favorite accessories! I got mine on ebay for pretty darn cheap(about $5), and while I don't know how it compares to a more expensive one, I like the results I've gotten so far.
Here's my example:

The first one was taken without the puffer, the second with. Both are SOOC, just sharpened for web-the second is actually sharpened a tad more than I like but I am far too lazy right now to go back really trying to get this post done.
I think that the differences are pretty obvious, but I also know that images can look different depending on the web browser you use. 
So: The one without the puffer looks more washed out, her skin tone looks very uneven and she has dark shadows under her eyes. The one with looks much warmer, and the dark areas under her eyes are not prominent.
I tried doing this example using one of my son's trucks first because I didn't want to go through the drama of getting MaddieBoo to pose without the drama (strange looks and limb positions that she thinks are cute), but I didn't get the difference I was looking for. So far my experience using the puffer on non-human subjects has led me to believe it's not useful, but of course there is much more experimenting to be had.
For about $5 I save myself some post-process time....works for me. Any thoughts?

Vacation, but not the good kind

Hey folks! Just wanted to pop in here and say a quick little hello, and apologize for my absence!! As I mentioned before, I have gone back to work. Clearly I had overestimated what my energy level would be like in this new endeavor because it turns out I have little to none :(
With that said, I am going to finish up the rest of the posts that I planned and get those out to you guys, and I'll have to play it by ear to see if I can actually squeeze out my original goal of 31 days!
I am soooo not a morning person, so the kiddos and I are off to get ready for tomorrow and bed.
Do any of you work full time with 2(or more) kiddos and still find time to do it all? I could use some advice and encouragement cuz I'm STRUGGLING over here!

I'll leave you with this bit of awesomeness from Pinterest, I made this with roast on Sunday and it was a keeper!

31 Days of my XTi | Day 15 - Auto Exposure Bracketing

I originally planned to include this in my post the other day about exposures, but the fact is I am trying to stick with 31 days, and I still have about 7 days worth of ideas to come up with to meet that goal.  Besides, makes me take more pictures everyday when I am experimenting to get shots to use in these posts :)

This is an excellent function to use while you are still learning what makes a good exposure/what exposure appeal to you. When set, the camera takes three shots at "regular" exposure and two others that you select, for example one stop over and one stop under. This way you are closer to ensuring a usable shot, and you may even stumble upon an exposure that takes your shot from good to wow!

Here's how you set it on an XTi:
-Press the menu button (to the left of the screen) and arrow right to the camera picture with 2
-Select AEB
-Arrow left or right until you get the range you want
-Press the shutter button half way and that locks in your setting

Here's an extra tidbit: if you are already shooting under or over before you go to change the setting it will let you choose with that being your midpoint. So if I am already shooting at +2, when I go to set it my bar will have 2 in the middle and will spread out from there with the end points being "correct" exposure to the left and +4 on the right.

If you try this out or have questions (I'll try to help), leave me a comment!

31 Days of my XTi | Day 14 - Drive Modes

Hey there folks! I am in an extra great mood because I actually checked my stats for kicks, and people besides me are visiting my little bloggy world. Yay! Maybe I will yet become a blogger instead of a person with a blog....

So lets talk drive modes. What's this you ask? Basically it means how many shots your camera will take in a row. Discovering this little nugget a couple of months ago has been awesome for me, so helpful as I try to capture special images of a 1 and 4 year old.  The XTi has 3 drive modes, which can only be selected when you are shooting in the creative modes (even more reason to explore those guys).  They are single shot, continuous, and self-timer/remote.
They are pretty self-explanatory, but lets just go there. Single means you get one picture each time you press the shutter, and you can get up to 3 shots per second. Continuous means you can do the 3 images in a row per second, or a burst of shots (different amounts depending on the image quality that you are shooting in). According to Canon you can burst about 27 large JPEGS, 10 RAW, or 8 RAW + L.
Here's how you do it:
Select continuous by pressing the 2nd button down on the right of the screen and arrowing to the center icon. Then you compose your shot and hold down the shutter. The camera will continue to take pictures until the buffer memory is full, and then it will give you a busy message until it has put those images onto your memory card and has room to shoot again.
And lastly, the self-timer/remote will give you either 10 seconds until it takes a shot once you press the shutter, or just take the shot if you are using a remote.

Both of my sources seem to suggest changing your Auto Focus mode if you will be shooting continuously, especially if your object will be moving. I'll get to that in an upcoming post, but for now try it out!
 I was thinking of maybe trying to learn to make one of those cool little movies where you put a bunch of stills together, but I think that will have to wait until I have more time to spend in the digital darkroom. However, if you have made one and posted about it, or know of a source that has good instructions please leave me a link in the comments!  Also, if you have any cool ideas for others who want to try this out and just don't know what to shoot leave that too!

31 Days of my XTi | Day 13 -Exposure

Exposure is such a subjective thing, what you may think is over-exposed (too light) someone else sees as perfect.  Which is exactly the reason that you should play around with it! You may discover that you prefer to shoot a click over exposed in certain situations, or under exposed in others. Or you could take a shot and realize that it is too dark, and rather than change aperture and shutter speed you could just adjust the exposure. The only creative mode that this doesn't work in is Manual, because if you remember the little meter is an indicator then, and not adjustable-except by bringing in more light or taking it away in your environment.
You can see the meter on your screen and in the viewfinder, if you have not played with it (and are not in manual) the little bar should be right in the middle.  If you want to change it, hold down the Av button (top right on the side of the screen) while turning the dial either way. If you turn left you will make your next shot darker, if you turn right it will be lighter. Here are my examples:

(All of these are SOOC, just sharpened and saved for the web)
The center picture is the "regular" exposure, taken at 1/40, f 4.5
Top left is one stop underexposed (-1), top right is two stops underexposed (-2), bottom left is one stop overexposed (+1), bottom right is two stops overexposed (+2)

If you notice when you are taking your pictures, the camera will show you how each stop changes your aperture and/or shutter speed, depending on what mode you are in. I took these in Av, so my shutter speed got faster as the picture darkened, and slower as it lightened.

Like my cool little storyboard? That came from Rita at The CoffeeShop Blog, and was free as is most of her stuff. It was easy to install (once you get the hang of installing actions) and pretty easy to use, it took me about 35 minutes to get it web ready.

Go give changing your exposures a try, you may find a totally different way of shooting that you love!

31 Days of my XTi | Day 12- Zoom it in!

Okay, this may be totally obvious to some, but I literally just found out on accident yesterday that you can zoom in on an image after you take it. I have been able to do this with every other digital camera I've had, but I guess I thought you couldn't with this one because you can't use the screen to compose...don't ask me why I thought these two things were connected.
Here's how:
Hit the "play" button (3rd down on the left of the screen) and select the picture you want to see. Then just push the zoom buttons on the upper far right.  Not really sure what I thought those buttons were for anyway, but this has changed my life already lol!  Since I have been experimenting more with my camera I am finding that images I thought were great are really not so great once I get to PSE...many not in the focus I want. I think I need to upgrade to a camera with a bigger screen...but how to convince Hubs....
Anyway, this zoom tool is not really practical to check every shot, but if it is important I know I can check before I get to post-processing.
Later today I am going to be an editing fool, so I should have something to show photo-wise for the last couple of weeks coming soon.  Speaking of, anyone have any suggestions on learning Lr? I am brand new to it, and after opening it yesterday and blankly staring for a few minutes I gave up (could have been the 2 glasses of moscato while cooking/eating dinner, but so be it I love that stuff). I am off to the bookstore to try and read up but would love some help in the meantime, just leave me a comment!

31 Days of my XTi | Day 11 - Purchasing a new lens

I have a few lenses, and while looking into getting another I found out a piece of info that is actually kind of important when you are investing this kind of money. If you know already that you plan to upgrade your camera to one of the professional ones, you have to pay special attention to the lenses you buy. I am told that you cannot use an EF-S lens on a Canon 5d mark II. So that kit lens...no go. I suppose by then you will be investing in more expensive equipment all around anyway, but I'd like to make my money stretch.
EF-S lenses line up with the white square on the front of the camera, and EF lenses line up to the red dot, so if you are actually looking at a camera body and trying to decide if one or both types of lens will work, look for those. If there is only the red dot the EF-S lens will not work.
I looked up why this is, and the answer is a lot of technical stuff that breaks down to the EF-S will damage a professional camera because there is a shorter distance between the lens and the sensor.
If you plan to upgrade to a 7D both types are compatible, so you don't need to be as concerned about that aspect of your purchase.
I hope this info is useful to someone, because I know I had no idea that all canon compatible lenses don't actually go on all Canon cameras!
If you have any tips or extra info please leave it in the comments!

31 Days of my XTi | Day 10-Lightning

A while back I saw some REALLY awesome pictures that were taken of lightning, and I wanted to try it. Fortunately we had a lightning storm 3 days around that time, unfortunately I only thought of trying it out on the last of the 3 days and none of the shots really came out....it was late at night and I didn't want to go off the back porch and get caught in the rain. What can I say...I live in the country and stepping off the back porch into the pitch black reminds me of scary movies like children of the corn (there are miles of cornfield about 50 feet from my house). Anyway, that was my explanation to why I have no usable examples to include with this post. But should the weather give another opportunity I will be much better prepared to give this a go. If you want to try to get some lightning pictures here's how I tried to do it with an XTi.
You will need a tripod, or something secure to rest your camera on, and a remote would also be helpful to reduce camera shake.
You will also need a secure spot to work in, just in case a torrential downpour starts!
If you have a wide angle lens or lens attachment, get it out. The more sky you can see in your lens the better chance you have of actually getting lightning in your picture.
Set the camera to ISO 100 (press the ISO button and arrow to the left)- you want the sharpness and color saturation of the low ISO.
Change your image size/quality to RAW. I always shoot in RAW + L, which while it takes up more memory gives me a RAW image that I can more easily manipulate, and a large JPEG.
I also enabled my mirror lockup: push the menu button, arrow right to the button with the tools and 2, arrow down to custom functions and select. Then arrow right to 07 (mirror lockup), select, and arrow up or down to choose enable. After that I just press the shutter half way to go back to my "ready to shoot" screen. If you've done it right you will see C.Fn just above RAW on your screen.
I used an aperture of 8 because I read somewhere that you should use a smaller aperture.

So you are outside and all set up, pointed in the direction of some lightning, now you just press your shutter-or the remote button- and wait for some lightning. When you get some, press it again.

If you have tried this and have pointers please share in the comments! Also, if you can think of any other times this technique might be useful, so I don't have to wait potentially a very long time to see some lightning and try again...

31 Days of my XTi | Day 9- ISO

ISO is something that until recently I didn't give 2 thoughts about when taking pictures, because I was so busy trying to practice getting my apertures and shutter speeds right.  Well turns out it's useful to help with managing those guys.
The low down:
The ISO is the sensor's sensitivity to light; so the higher the ISO, the more sensitive it is and the lower light you can shoot in, and you can also use a faster shutter speed. When you use the higher ISO's (800/1600) you get less effect of camera shake.  Seems all good, but with high ISO's you also get grain. Sometimes grain is good depending on what you want, but of course not always.
 Some tips I have read that I think are helpful are if your subject is far away, increase your ISO. Also, if you have plenty of light, use the lowest ISO.
*High ISO also increases your file size, so beware especially if you are shooting in RAW +L where you already have larger files*
Low ISO gets you better sharpness, color saturation and contrast, but you generally need to use a slower shutter speed, increasing the chances that you will need a tripod or some other method to steady the camera.

Here's how to change the setting on an XTi:
Push the ISO button, and arrow to the one you want.

I suggest trying to do a variety of shots on a high ISO and a low one, and then go to your editing software so you can zoom in and see the differences.

Get out and try it, and as always if you try it or have any helpful info to add leave a comment!

31 Days of my XTi | Day 8 -Shooting in RAW

Hello folks! I thought I'd touch on something super easy to do on your camera, which is changing your image size/quality. I prefer to shoot in RAW + L now that I am out of using full auto mode, mainly because it gives me so much more freedom in the digital darkroom. I have been able to save some images that I may not have been able to if they were JPEGs. Of course, getting the shot right straight out of camera is the best thing, but for those of us who stumble upon a moment you have to get and your settings are just a little off RAW can be an image saver. It won't magically transform everything, but it's an option. From what I understand RAW stores the image as the pixels, and you have to use a special program (like Adobe Camera Raw) to process the image.  When I upload my images into Photoshop Elements it shows me 2 images in the organizer, and often they look slightly different, the RAW one is usually lighter. If your camera came with a disk it will most likely have ACR on the disk.
So here's how you change your image quality to RAW:
Press the menu button to the left of the screen.
Under the first section (it has a picture of a camera and 1) the first choice is quality
When you select it there's  a whole table of choices, so choose RAW +L or just RAW.

*Just as a side, your files will be considerably larger when shooting in either RAW choice-I make sure to delete any photos I don't want, or make sure they are moved to my portable hard drive to prevent bogging down my computer*

Like I said I prefer the first, but if you are just trying it out and taking shots you may want to keep I suggest it. That way if you decide you don't want to be bothered with this RAW business you will still have the pictures in JPEG.

If you don't already shoot in RAW, go try it out and leave me a message with how it went! If you do shoot in RAW and have anything to add please share!


I have been kind of lazily looking for a job the past few months, mainly because I don't want to go back to work full time.  However, I do need to establish something for when I go back to school because then I have to work for experience and to help with bills since hubs won't be able to work quite as much.
Well I finally got in at a large hospital system that I've been applying to on and off for like 6 years! Can I just say that now that I've been offered a position 4 other departments have called me to interview with them in the last week?? I haven't had this many calls from them in the past 6 years combined. I am so excited though! The position that I am accepting has EXCELLENT benefits, the hours are great, and it's not too far from home. The only thing that is sad for me is that I won't be with my kiddos as much, but I feel like I need to go back and keep my skills current before I start nursing school next year. So I suppose it's bittersweet...the financial stuff is great, the emotional stuff makes me sad. We'll see, I just keep reminding myself it's not like I'm signing a contract, if I miss my babies too much I can always go back to total SAHM-ing.
On the other hand I'm excited to go to work...to talk to other adults on a regular basis, and to be doing work (outside of my home) that is meaningful to me.
Any thoughts or wise words for managing working full time with 2 kiddos? I could use some pointers...

31 Days of my XTi | Day 7 - Using a Remote

In order to get good use of your camera, you have to take some good pictures of yourself in my opinion. I am always the one behind the camera, and seldom get into shots. So I looked on ebay, one of my favorite places to find some things pretty cheap, and ordered a remote for my camera for about $3.50 (including shipping!). I was prepared for it to be a piece of garbage when it finally got here, but it works great! And I was finally able to get some decent shots of myself without as much running back and forth to look at the screen. It's very simple, no programming needed. You just push the self-control/timer button (second one down on the right side of the screen) and then the right arrow to the picture of the timer. If you don't have a remote you would just press the shutter and wait for the timer to time out to get a picture, but with the remote you just point it toward the sensor (left side of the camera when viewing from the front) and push the little button to your hearts content! I should probably also mention that the remote is good for avoiding camera shake when you are using a tripod with slow shutter speeds, but so far my selfies have been the most fun. ;) My hello picture to the right and my blogger profile picture are both results of the first day I tried it out. Go look it up, very inexpensive fix for those of us who always want more toys!

31 Days of my XTi | Day 6 - A-DEP

Last mode in the creative zone: A-DEP!
I had never even tried out this mode before starting this project, so yay me for sticking to learning something new about my camera!! I had to go to the manual and my favorite XTi book to learn some more about this mode, and here's what I've summed up after reading and trying it out:
A-DEP makes sure that all of the subjects in your photo are in focus. The camera detects your subjects when you press the shutter half way, and denotes them by blinking red focus points over them. If it hasn't chosen the right ones then you move around and half-shutter again. From my manual it seems this is best used when all of your subjects are not on the same plane(people are not all standing in a straight line, for example). I probably could have used this on a couple of shots of my daughter, I did some pretty close shots of her face but because her head was tilted one eye was in sharp focus and the other was not.
Here are my tries at using this, even using A-DEP it took quite a few tries before I felt all 3 were in focus, but after doing the same(well, almost) shot in full auto I can definitely see the difference.

I also found that in A-DEP I couldn't use the flash, where in full auto the camera forced the use of flash.
Did you try this mode out? Have any suggestions or tips? Leave me some love folks!!

31 Days of my XTi | Day 5 - Shooting in Manual

Yes, I was a day behind, but with this post I am caught up!! Yay me, especially with all the exciting things that have been going on around here.
Up next on the wheel, M-Manual mode! The dreaded mode to some, only mode to others. I have yet to master it's usage, but practice, practice and more practice is all I can suggest here.
Here are the basics:
You have to set your aperture and shutter speed independently here. To set the shutter speed just turn the dial. To set the aperture you have to hold down the Av button(upper right next to the screen) and turn the dial. How do you know if your shot will be exposed how you want? Press the shutter half way, and look at the exposure meter. When I first tried this I thought I could just hold down the Av button and spin the dial to change it like you can in Av/Tv mode. Well turns out in manual mode it's an indicator, and you have to change your shutter speed and aperture to get that little line to move into the correct exposure. Another option-if it is available to you- is to move into an area with more/less light.
Here's where knowing the exposure triangle comes in handy. If you have an idea of where you need to be, you don't have to keep randomly adjusting and pressing the shutter half-way to see if it's right a million times. I think this is what turned me off of manual initially, and I felt like I was hot stuff using Av instead of full auto anyway. Except there's so much more freedom! If you aren't looking for a perfectly exposed shot, or you are trying to re-create a photo you've seen and know about where the settings should be you can tweak the settings without having them changed by the camera to what it thinks is right. I'm not posting any examples on this one because every shot EVER could be an example, but do go to the link about the exposure triangle if you need to, and just experiment! Some of the shots I love most are not technically perfect, but they still capture a memory and ultimately that's why I do it.

Changing it up a little

I finally got around to changing the blog up a bit. Two reasons really...because I am easily bored looking at the same thing(just ask Hubs who gets to help me rearrange our furniture monthly), and because I will be linking it to my business site, so I want it to be pretty too. I got this blog design from Nymphont, and then just adjusted my header I already had(made by me) to match the color scheme until I can find the time to make something new.  Best parts about it, it was FREE and it was very easy to install!
Next exciting thing happening over here is that I downloaded the trial version of Lightroom 3. I am so excited to get started trying to use it! I anticipate that at the end of the 30 days I'll buy it, especially since they have an awesome discount for students. Right now I use Photoshop Elements 7 for editing, and while I am no where near knowing the ins and outs, I know I will need something more upgraded in the future to streamline my workflow. I am STILL working on getting proofs together for my parents shoot from last week, and the thing that is taking the most time is saving various versions, and making them uniform. If I could apply some changes in batches(like I hear you can in lightroom) I would have spent probably 2 hours less on it last night :(  Nonetheless, I am still very happy with the shots I have chosen for proofs(about 20 of the 160) and I can't wait for them to see my work!

31 Days of my XTi | Day 4 - Aperture Priority

Hey there! Day 4, and we're looking at the next creative mode on the wheel..Av-aperture priority. This is my favorite to shoot in, because it adjusts the shutter speed based on the aperture that you set by turning the dial. I love LOVE bokeh in my photos, and this helps me get it pretty easily.  If you didn't already know this: bokeh is that blurriness you see in the background of a picture, when the subject of the photo is in focus and the background is not. I just set my aperture to the lowest number it will go to ( low number=wide open), and the camera does the rest. The lowest number you can get depends on the limits of your lens, and the lighting available.  Sometimes bokeh can be challenging to get with a kit lens, but that's a topic for another day.
Here are my examples:

This one was taken at f 3.5 1/100

This was taken at f 22 1/6

In the first shot nothing behind Baby Que is in focus, and in the second you can see detail all the way back.  It really all depends on what kind of effect you want, and what your subject is. If you decide to give this a try leave me a comment and tell me how it went! 

31 Days of my XTi | Day 3 - Shutter Priority

Welcome to Day 3! The last post introduced creative modes and I talked about Program(P) mode.  After writing that post I read online that someone said "Use P when the moment controls you, use M/Av/Tv when you control the moment". I think that's a sound piece of advice...

Next up is Tv: Shutter Priority. I use this occasionally since I learned what it does, and it is best used when you want to control the motion in your shot and not fuss too much with aperture. If you know you want to freeze an action crisply, set the priority to a fast shutter speed by turning the wheel. If you want to blur motion set it to a slow shutter speed. Since water is readily available to me, I'll use that for an example. BTW-both are SOOC, just sharpened and saved for the web.
This one was taken at 1/1000 f 3.5

This one was taken at 1/15 and f 20(steadied on the counter ledge)
The first one taken with a higher shutter speed "froze" the motion of the water, you can see ripples there. The second one blurred the motion of the water, it looks smooth like ice.

If you have any questions or helpful tips, please feel free to leave them in the comments!

31 Days of my XTi | Day 2 - P Mode

Lets talk about the creative modes! I love these guys now that I know what to do with them, and the good thing is that I think they are pretty universal (at least among Canons). In order to fully understand what's going on with these modes you need to have some knowledge of aperture, shutter speed, and the exposure triangle. Don't worry if you don't though, knowing the ins and outs of those things comes with time and practice. Sometimes I still have to refer to some trusty cheats depending on what and where I'm shooting.

Here are the zones:

To the left of the green box(auto) there are 
  • P: Program 
  • Tv: Shutter Priority
  • Av: Aperture Priority
  • M: Manual
  • A-DEP: Auto Depth of Field

 I think of P like auto with a little manual mixed in. The camera sets your exposure (aperture and shutter speed), but you can shift them if you like by turning the dial. While you can change this, it changes as a set. So you can't change the aperture independently from the shutter speed. I personally never use this mode, if I want the camera to have that much control I just shoot in full auto. There is the benefit of getting an idea of what apertures and shutter speeds go together in different lighting situations.
You can shoot in RAW, change ISO and adjust white balance so you can still get a taste of manual without knowing the correlation of aperture to shutter speed.
Try it out! Take a shot first in P mode. If you wanted to try for more bokeh(if your lens will allow) scroll to a lower f number and have less background in focus. If you wanted to make sure everything in the frame was in focus you could scroll to a higher f number and the camera will automatically compensate for shutter speed. You also get the same feature with relation to exposure by looking at your shutter speed and doing the same thing. 
One thing that I don't like about this mode is that each time you take a picture the camera re-sets to it's original setting(according to the light where you are shooting). So if you scrolled to another combo, you have to do that again for each shot if you want that, or else go to a different mode and set those values.
If you happen to try this out put a link in the comments so I can see what you get!

Also, if you have a question about any of my posts, please leave it in the comments and I'll try my best to help or point you in the right direction!

Just as a side note, I am doing Kim Klassen's Skinny Mini e-course, where she has lessons over about 2 weeks to help learn photoshop elements. I am half way through and highly recommend it-first because it's FREE, and second because there's no pressure to complete assignments. She also has other course offerings, and if you sign up for her newsletter you get FREE textures weekly in your inbox!

Quick Pork Chop Dinner Recipe

I haven't posted any recipes on my blog before, but this one was fast, easy, and both of my kids loved it! I originally got it from cooks.com, but I made a couple of changes.

6 - 8 pork chops
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 (10 3/4 oz.) can cream of mushroom soup
Seasonings to taste: salt, pepper, garlic salt
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 (4 oz.) can mushroom stems and pieces (drained)
1 (16 oz.) can whole potatoes (drained)
1 (10 oz.) pkg. frozen English peas (thawed)

Brown chops in oil 3 to 5 minutes, arrange chops in a 13 x 9x 2 inch dish. Combine soup and remaining ingredients spoon over chops. Cover and bake 350 degrees for 30 minutes (note - you can use veg-all or frozen mixed vegetables).

I made 5 chops, just because that's how many I need to feed my family. 
I also used Webers Steak and Chop Seasoning(LOVE that stuff) to season them, and that's it since it has salt and pepper and other goodnesses in it.
 I seasoned generously, but I always say go according to your tastes, not a predetermined amount on these things. 
Then I lightly floured(not enough to make a crunchy coating) and fried in vegetable oil for about 5 minutes on each side.
 While they were cooking I mixed up the sauce- I used one can of cream of mushroom but will definitely increase to 2 in the future, about 1tsp of Worcestershire sauce, 1 can of mushrooms, and about 1/2 bag of frozen peas. 
I omitted the potatoes just because it didn't sound appealing at the moment, and I added about 1 can's worth of water to the mixture to loosen up the soup.
I put the chops in the  baking dish, poured sauce over, covered with foil and baked at 350 for about 30 minutes. Then I uncovered and cooked about 10 minutes more.
 I also made rice on the stove and served the chops and sauce over it, super yummo!

 I know this would be more convincing with a photo, but it got eaten before I even thought to post about how good it was. Maybe next time I make it I'll get a picture before it disappears...

31 Days of my XTi | Day 1 - Dioptric Adjuster

I bought my Canon XTi in March of this year, and I love LOVE it. I was given a Canon powershot SX20 IS for Christmas, and got such great shots of the kids! I already knew quite a bit about photography(I had a 35mm SLR a few years ago), and I absolutely love bokeh so to widen my options I upgraded. Turns out I can actually do manual on the SX, but the push button lens control just doesn't do the trick.
My XTi (with the 28-80mm lens)

So let's start this thing off. I am by no means any sort of expert, so let me just say I am simply posting things I learn that help me use my camera better, and not in any particular order. Anything that is posted by me is subject to not be the best/only way to do it, and if you have a better/more efficient helpful hint, please share! I decided to do this 31 day project because I am in the portfolio building stage of my business, and this is relevant to my everyday life so I'm more likely to actually stick with it.
So for Day one, here's a super basic thing that has helped me a lot...the dioptric adjuster. I wear glasses, and what a pain in the butt to keep bumping my eye against my glasses lens against the viewfinder. Roll it up and down, and presto, I can see what I'm shooting without glasses!

Keep an eye out for day 2: Creative mode overview

She's so crafty!

I think that was the title of a craft show that came on non-cable tv, the girl was always making kind of cool new stuff out of old stuff and she drove a sweet classic car...anyway point is I'M so crafty!! Here's my second craft project completed, the DIY camera bag. I was schlepping all of my gear to my parents to do some lovey-type pictures and there just wasn't enough room in my little standard bag(I probably could have left some things home, but you just never know...). I had seen tutorials for these in a couple of places, and then Joann's had a TON of coupons a couple of weeks ago so I got the foam and fabric for less than $10 (I already had the bag from a purse party, and the glue gun, and I got a cardboard box free from the grocery store).
I made some adjustments to fit my needs as far as compartments go, and also left room to be able to stick my hand in the side where there are pockets(already made into the bag) for lip gloss and room to slide my wallet in there.

I had some trouble with the measurements as far as making the sides big enough to stand up but small enough to fit inside the bag. I've got no pointers on that either, it was just kind of trial and error with my starting measurements being that of the actual bag. That part and the covering the foam with cloth took a lot longer than I anticipated. Maybe because I am a perfectionist, but the total time from cutting(and re-cutting) the foam to done was about 3 hours.
This bag was originally kind of a hobo style bag, so I glued some cardboard to my outside and floor foam to give it stability before wrapping in fabric. I also did not make the inside dividers attach to anything, they fit together pretty snugly and that way if what I want to carry changes I can move them around or make another "wall" to fit what I want. I also used 1 inch thick foam instead of 1/2 inch, for more security and to give it shape.
While I'm not the original creator of this idea, I'm happy to help anyone with questions about doing their own!

31 days of something....

I saw that Darcy at my 3 boybarians is participating in this 31 day thing that looked pretty cool. Since I am trying to challenge myself to be involved, I thought I'd do it but then had to come up with something that I can post about everyday for 31 days of October. I recall a while ago(who knows actually how long) I said I was going to start a 365 project, but clearly that is not yet in the works which is sad because it simply involves taking a picture everyday(which I do anyway) and posting it. But...I guess but is all I can say. I'm just lazy busy with other things. Soon, though.  I definitely plan to pop in and follow Darcy, I started 31 days to a better photo that she did last year, and she's doing 31 days of photo tips this year.
So something that will keep my interest that I can post about 31 times...I'm going with 31 days of my Canon XTi. Not groundbreaking, but it keeps in line with my life right now since I am starting my business. I do not presume to know all of the ins and outs of my camera yet (even though I've had it long enough to know everything by now), but I am making a goal to learn something about it and what I can do with it everyday for the month of October. Maybe someone else will come along and learn something they didn't know yet too! I'm linking up with the 31 day directory, go over and check out who else is participating. There are LOTS on any subject you can think of!!