January 2015

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31 day challenge – day 31 – Long Exposure!

Hey peoples,  WE DID IT!!!

What a month. I don’t know for all of you but for me, there were moments of great joy of getting a shot the way I wanted and a few moments of frustration when things weren’t going well, but I’m so proud of myself and all of you for doing this challenge. I’m impressed too, because although we lost a few people in the very beginning, these last couple of weeks everyone has posted and we’ve all finished the challenge.

Last night, I had decided to do a long exposure light painting but since you need it to be dark, I did it after midnight to be legit for today.  I think if I would have had only 1 or 2 items, I might have been alright but when I first started I had everything but the kitchen sink. It was a bit ridiculous to be honest and then I started paring down. Too many items meant too many things to light up and there was always one thing that was not lit up or something completely blown out.  I was pretty worried as it wasn’t sure if I had anything useable. I got into bed at 3am and had not even checked my photos. By some miracle, the very last photo was lit very nicely and I had gotten all of the end of the scroll of the violin as that bit was almost always missing.

Here is the shot -I guess 4 o’clock is when the violist stops for a spot of tea and a piece of fruit. :-D Oh as for the long exposure; this was a 10 second shot!

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I spent some time in Skype with Janne and I knew that after our call, I would need to do my banner. I wanted something simple and had an idea. I was going to get a little car out of the Monopoly game and attach a thread and a small banner saying something like I did above — We did it! and pull the little car when I would take the photo. Ah, but when I got into the box.. it’s been literally years that we haven not played, the little car wasn’t there.

So then I have supper and continue to search for what I can use to make a celebratory banner for us, but nothing is coming to me. Look through my craft stuff and I’m not inspired. I’m starting to feel the pressure at this point. It’s the last day. I want to go and comment on everyone and see what they have done and I’m not even started to do my banner. Even Chiana, my cat, is looking at me saying “What’s up, Maggie?”

Then it comes to me, not a brilliant idea, but something I can do. Last fall, when one of Simon’s friends had a birthday, he called him on skype and had prepared himself with a birthday hat, a tooter and a sparkler… so when he answered he just went TOOOOT! So I thought that I could use that. I start and realize that what I have in my hand is not a sparkler but an incense stick. Oh, geez louise, I think it’s time this challenge is over – I’ve lost my mind. Finally I find them.

I start the shoot but am having trouble getting the sparkler in the right place and I’m trying to do it using live view and drag it in front of the camera and hope to get the shot. At one point, I figure I’ll just lay it down on the backdrop for a second to have it in the right place. Let this be a warning — do not do this. It is much hotter than a match.. immediately the backdrop caught file. I squelched it right away but in 2 seconds, it had already made a hole the size of a grape right through the poster board. Lesson learned!

So that is it. Been a wonderful month and you guys have been my back bone to get through this. Knowing you enjoyed my work and been there for me when I had a rough day means so much to me. I talk a lot and play around but I’m actually a very sensitive person and the kindness you have all shown is truly touching to me.

Now, I’m off to visit what you all did today!
All the best,
xoxoxoxo
much love,
Maggie

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31 day challenge – Day 30 – Egg

Several days ago when we had shell as our challenge, while trying to find ideas, I thought of  ‘shell shock’ and the idea of a spoon hitting the top of an egg. But of course, we have egg on our list and I’ll do that for my photo. Things didn’t exactly go as planned.  I have some egg cups – you know the ones that everyone has, the spiral of metal and many of us have used them in our shots in the past and I’m sure they will be used many times again in the future.  I don’t really eat hard-boiled eggs except in egg sandwiches so had not thought thoroughly through what could go wrong with these egg cups. Well, the spiral is pretty springy and although you are using a tripod… it doesn’t matter because once you hit the egg, the whole cup just springs up and down and you cannot get a in focus image.  — What to do. I started looking around what I could use but nothing seemed to be good for what I needed.  I look and look and nothing works, either too big, too small – then I think that I could use the bottom of one of the matryoshka dolls as the base.  This moved around also, but not as badly as the first cups. I had to tape it down so it wouldn’t move at all, and then had to clone all that tape out.  Oddly enough, writing this here, I see on my desk the holder for my Wacom pen, and realize .. omg, that would have been perfect. It has a weight inside which would have kept it from budging… it has a round interior so it’s easy to pick up the pen and it’s not too deep and the egg would have stood up proud… oh well, next time perhaps.  Here is the image, but not the image of the day, as I felt it still looked a little weird with the bottom and I guess it was not what I had in my mind’s eye.

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Then I tried to make a sort of a nest for the egg and I wanted to put a light inside the egg itself . I had seen one by Kimbo several years ago and i wanted to do something similar where there is light shining at a crack and it is mysterious and makes you wonder what is glowing inside. She’s done more than a couple beautiful images with eggs; and the most beautiful is the one with her son in a fetal position placed into the interior of an egg. It’s gorgeous and probably the most fabulous egg shot I have ever seen. I would not even attempt to try that… it’s sacred in my book. So back to the light shining from the egg. I have these little lights that look like tea lights but work on batteries so I smashed out the back of an egg and placed it in there. I made a bit of a crack on the front but I was not able to get enough light out of it. So I made the crack bigger and now all you could see is some yellow glow inside. Oh, well.. this was not going to work for my pic, so I cropped it and used it as my banner.

Then I put the egg in a small round of branches from an old xmas ornament from the dollar store. On it’s own, it was too bland, but then I had the idea to put it in a tea cup. Yes, my teacups again. I never drink out them as I’m more of a coffee girl and when I have a tea, it’s not in anything this fancy but I have used them several times as props and I know, if my mom were here, she would love that I used them in my photos. The composition needed just one extra thing – a tiny feather, of course!day30egg

So an egg in a teacup it is! Now I can make myself a egg salad sandwich and relax!

One more day… omg.. I’m so proud of myself and all of us for doing this entire month. There are a few days where I wish I had made better choices for my photos, but on the whole, I’m quite pleased. I had moments of anxiety, and a few of frustration but mostly I had a ton of fun. I also enjoyed everyone’s photos so much as well as your very kind comments.
xox

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31 day challenge – Day 29 – Lines

I had a few ideas for today and things went better than expected. I knew I had a measuring tape in my desk, and I thought.. oh, well, I will do something with that for my banner. I wasn’t sure what exactly but that was my idea. So when I finally decided to try it out, at first I wanted to showcase the 3 — as the last 3 days, but then it was very close to the beginning of the tape and would be a bit boring so then decided that I could make a sort of loose knot to show the days that were finished and then show the 29 and for today and the 30 and 31st for the 2 days left to do. It’s not a fantastic shot but I thought you might find it fun.

I also had an idea to shoot some vases with water to distort lines. I have wrapping paper with diamonds shapes on one side and lines on the other. I knew I wanted to make it black and white since the paper was a mixture of blues and I thought the shapes would show off better in monotone.  So, even though my vases were clean but when they are in a cupboard for quite a while, there gets a bit of a film on them, so I had to wash everything before starting.  I used a big vase to start and the diamond pattern. I noticed right away that the huge base made the pattern very big but that left me without any small patterns, so I decided to add glasses to get the effect and it worked. I liked it but thought that since today was lines, and the diamonds of course were created with lines, perhaps lines on their own would be more appropriate. It also has a bit of glare which I actually didn’t mind that much.

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So I replaced everything with lined paper. Vertically did not give as good a result, but horizontally, the lines went super whacky and I really liked it. So here it is; I hope you like it also.

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31 day challenge – Day 28 – Door

When I read that the challenge for today was door at first I was not very enthusiastic. I have very regular doors, all are painted, all have the same beveled squares and rectangles.. but then I thought about what do I own that has a door and that is how I came to take these pictures.  I have a few objects that I treasure that are from my parents. You have seen most of them in my photos throughout the years. The fancy porcelain tea cups, the glass with the metal base for hot drinks (which my mom had given to a friend and a few years ago the woman thought I might like to own them because of that and sold them back to me) and  a crystal pear.  When they immigrated here, they actually brought nothing with them and these items were brought back through the years when they would travel.  On one of her trips, my mom brought back a small cabinet that is all of 21 inches including the ball feet and the top molding that was in their house when she was a child. It was used as their bathroom medicine cabinet.  I wouldn’t ever put it there; it stands on my piano in the living room.  It’s the only thing I have that is from her actual home and I find it incredibly beautiful.

Here is a bit of the middle. You can see that the shield has a hole in it. There was probably once a family crest but I have never seen it with one. The shelves inside are notched with cutout triangles and simply slid into place. The front panel floats within the frame and the frame inside has no nails or screws – it is simply held together with the slimmest tiny slices of wood slide into slits. There are little brass screws for the hinges though but I have no idea how old it could be.

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I did not choose it as the photo of the day, but wanted to show you all how beautiful it is.

For my photo of the day, I thought I’d open the door and show a closeup of the embellishments that is on every corner of the door and I thought keeping it with the d.o.f. would still give an impression of the ball feet but still show that this was definitely a door.

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Once I was done, I had no idea what to do for my banner. So I kind of cheated by using a page from a book on architecture that I found a page with different types of door hardware and I then added a texture on it to make it a bit more old and more interesting than just a black and white page. It’s not going to get any rave reviews, but I had run out of any good ideas for that wide strip atop.

3 days left. I don’t know if I’m excited or sad that it is going to be over. For all of you that take the time to come here and leave me such wonderful comments, thanks so much. I know I would not have been able to do this challenge without your support!
xox

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31 day challenge – Day 27 – Fruit – Inside

When I was a child, we would sometimes get a very special treat – a pomegranate. I loved them. It was quite rare to get them at the store and even today they are not always available. I know you can get the little treasures out easily and without mess by breaking the pomegranate under water and then simply straining out the water, but even today, I love picking them out, one by one and popping them into my mouth. It takes an eternity to eat a pomegranate but that okay, because they are special. Sweet yet tart … oh, yum.  So when we had this challenge, I knew I wanted to do some pomegranates … and then after the shoot, I would get to enjoy one. I bought 2 when we had the fruit (on the outside) challenge, and kept them in the fridge until now just because I was worried there may not be any at the store.  Luckily, they last very long, especially refrigerated.

So I started off my challenge with the pomegranates. I actually really like this shot, but was a little disappointed because several hours after the shoot when I finally uploaded the images to post-process, I didn’t  have a second iteration of this same shot and I had clipped off a bit of the stem on the right side. I wanted to show it anyways… clipped or not, but because of that – it did miss out for photo of the day.

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I also took photographs of some plums, but the stone would not let go of the flesh and even scraping kept it there. Having the fleshy part in the middle… all pink and juicy … like a rosebud…LOL – somehow just seemed wrong (yes, I think you all understand). So definitely a no-go.

Then some lychee, which is mostly interesting because of its very shiny seed and rough and prickly shell.

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Finally, I also took pictures of some pears. At first I was a little disappointed because they were too bland and I couldn’t find a way to make the composition interesting enough until I got the idea to scoop out a bit of pear and fill it with some of the pomegranate seeds. Now – I really liked it because we can see the texture of the pear but also get those lovely precious morsels of pomegranate.  Oh.. this quickly became my favorite and why I chose it for today.

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I started putting everything away when I remembered that I had not yet done my banner photo. I quickly unpeeled a clementine.. placed it in a row and took a few pics. It’s not the best, but I think it looks okay.

Thank you for all the comments. There are only 4 more days to go and these last few always seem to be the toughest. Last evening, I felt quite tired and drained but went to bed early. I think it is a bit like coming home from a long trip.. that last couple of miles seem the longest. The kind words left here are the best support anyone can offer. I appreciate them more than you can know.
Much love,
Maggie

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31 day challenge – Day 26 – Paper

When I read the subject for today, I knew I would want to try something abstract because it’s the perfect medium. It’s different from what I ordinarily do, but I had so much fun. When I first started, I used a regular size of letter paper but found that it was actually limiting me from getting some very cool lighting effects. Composition is important, but it’s the light that makes it magical. So I started to play with very small bits of paper. Folding them and holding them with a paper clip while shining light from the back and placing them on different colored paper to get reflections.

Here is one that I particularly like, it almost became my image for the day. At its real size it is a mere 1 inch wide perhaps and only about 1/2 inch wide. The light just simply shimmers.

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When you look at the texture, you’d almost believe it was rough watercolor paper, but I assure you, this is very fine, soft, white, nice quality paper. The blue is reflected from the background layer and the pink from behind.

I then thought I’d try something a little different. I took some cupcake papers and played with them on a sparkly blue background. I had many choices but really liked this one as I found the shapes to look like leaves which I found quite pretty.

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Then back again to the small little paper that I folded over and over. I had so many choices to pick to show you but I really fell for this one. I played around with it and put it on a gold paper that I had that give both the sparkle and a bit of texture.. and it has both reflections and shadows and for some crazy reason, when I look at it, I think of the feet of ballerinas on stage with the light behind them and everything all showy and sparkly and that’s why I chose it. I must admit though, that I had a hard time making my choice… I kept changing my mind!

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As for the banner, I wanted to do something a little different and made this tiny snowman. At first I wanted his body to just be crumpled up paper, but everything just got wonky and I was having a hard time to get it to stay round. In the end, I took those balls and covered with little slats of papers and made him round.  He is about 2 inches high.  The snow is simply Photoshopped.

I’m pretty happy; except for the glue for the snowman, everything is made out of paper – I hope you enjoy them as much as I did creating them.

Thanks again for all your comments – you are all so kind and I really appreciate them. Only 5 days left  bubbalaas! Yay!

 

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31 day challenge – Day 25 – Cookie

Several years ago, I bought a fancy pancy rolling pin at a yard sale that cost almost nothing; perhaps 25 cents but it caught my eye because it had shapes carved out of it. I have never used it before but kept in with my regular rolling pin and wooden spoons because I thought it was pretty.  Today’s challenge is cookies and the perfect opportunity to try something new.  Last night I looked up recipes; at first I found that the rolling pin was made expressly for ‘springele’ cookies but reading the ingredients, I was not incredibly inspired. So I looked for recipes for cookies that needed to be molded etc., and found that there were cookies that were made both in the Netherlands and in Denmark called either Speculaas or Speculoos depending where they were made.  When I read the ingredients, especially the spices, I knew I wanted to try and make them.

Cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, cardamon, and black and white pepper… oh yeah. I already like gingerbread cookies and ginger snaps, but this was going to out-spice them all.

You have to roll them out first and then roll them out a second time with the special roller. Look how fun they are:

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Once I had cut them apart – very easy, just cut between the lines; I took a photo as I thought it would make a pretty nice border.

I had hoped to use a picture of the baked speculaas, but the shapes did not hold as well as I had hoped. The recipe called for 2 things that if (or should I say, when because they are utterly delicious) I make them again, I will change. They say to roll out to 1/2 inch and then use the specialty roller, but I found that the few cookies that retained their shape the best were the thinnest ones and also the recipe says to leave them for 1/2 hour uncovered so they dry out a little and I would definitely leave them for several hours to ensure the shape remained as they are meant to be crispy cookies anyways.  One thing is for sure. I will try this spice mix instead of regular cinnamon in buns as I think it would be fabulous. If anyone wants the recipe, just let me know.. .I am happy to oblige.

Finally, Simon went to the store and brought home a package of  Little Debbie’s cookies called oatmeal creme.  They are quite good and ahem… look home-made! :-D   So I decided to do a very close-up shot and took a big bite. Oh, yum.. and then ooh… I need water. I had wanted the bite to really show up, and not look like a nibble, so had taken a huge one.. my mouth was full and I could hardly swallow. Obviously, I’m fine.. lol.. but it was funny (imagine a chipmunk… yep, you get the idea!) .

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As you can see, that is almost half a double-decker cookie.. it’s huge!

Thank you all for your kind comments. You have no idea how precious they are to me; on a day when I hated everything I did, you were all here being super supportive and giving me the energy to just take a breath and go on to the next day. It’s what makes you special – seriously, from the bottom of my heart – merci!

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31 day challenge – Day 24 – Cardboard Carton

When I read about today’s challenge, I felt like this was going to be probably one of the hardest ones as to me a cardboard carton is a brown non-descript box that you get your books from Amazon in and I tried to wrap my brain around how I could do this.  Think, Maggie, think!

So I got an idea for the banner but it would not be a brown box but a white one (but made out of cardboard) that came with our MacBook Pro to hold its accessories. It is quite long and slender and is perfect for keeping my knitting needles and scissors.  I was happy about this because the banner being very wide and not tall, means that I have compromise what shapes I use or how much I have to crop into bigger objects. Unless pressed, the shoot I do for the banner is expressly for the banner and when I’m framing in camera, I’m imagining the top and bottom not being there… and shooting for only the middle.  It’s not anything very creative, but I think it does what it is supposed to do.

But now, the cardboard carton. I then thought about when I was a kid and my mom would come home from shopping, the best items brought home was the cardboard boxs. They don’t do that anymore, but they used to and they were ours to play with. With our imaginations, we could pretend they were cars, or boats or even our own little house so I decided to show how just a box can become anything in a child’s mind.  Here, it’s a cabin with clothes out back drying in the late evening sun.  It was fun and the paper used for the background and the clothes on the line were actually the packing paper from in the box – I used a bit of packing tape for the window and a bit of string for the clothes line. It ended up being fun to do.

I hope you like it.

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I know people are busy and have a lot on their plate but the month is getting on and your comments are more precious than ever!
:-Maggie

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31 day challenge – Day 23 – Button

I promised myself that I wouldn’t spend money to buy items to do the 31 day challenge unless it was something we would consume anyways.. like the fruit and veg. I must say that I was dearly tempted though, as I really don’t have a lot of buttons and the few that I gathered up had to be pushed to one side of a jar to make it look like there were more. I used this image for my banner.  I did find one lone button that was actually very pretty and had holes in it that created an interesting shadow and I thought it looked pretty.

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I also had an idea a few days ago about making some buttons out of polymer clay in pretty bright colors. I attempted to do some last evening but Geez Louise– they looked really crummy and I abandoned the idea. Today, I was looking at a small Mickey Mouse key chain I have and it is all in a silver color. It’s pretty cool because the head, body, legs and arms can be moved and you can stand the little guy up. Now the buttons on his shorts were just engraved ovals just like his eyes, but I decided that with a bit of the clay, I could make some buttons and just press them on the pants.. they would stick just enough for the shoot and then I could take them off. I had to photoshop out the part of the keychain where you attach the actual chain as it ruined the effect being right in between both of his ears. I chose this as today’s image because it made me smile and I think we could all use a bit of humor and joy.

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I can’t believe only 8 more days to go.. but also.. omg.. we still have 8 more days to go! :-D Thank you all for your comments as you know, they are always welcome but oh, so incredibly appreciated.
:-)
Maggie

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31 day challenge – day 22 – Shell

Well, last night I slept. I did not look at the list and although I had an idea what might be today’s challenge, I wasn’t sure and actually got some sleep.

So, shells… ha! I did shells many years ago when I last did the 31 day challenge, but that was quite some time ago and I wasn’t sure if I still had them. I looked and looked and thought I had thrown them out but then out of the corner of my eye, a box of chocolates, marked in Sharpie – Sea Shells! Phew. I knew I could do egg shells, but I also knew we would have eggs later on and hoped not to do them today also.

First things first, I thought I’d get my banner image done… so figured peanut shells would be allowed and cracked open a few to show their nice texture.

Now, the seashells. I’m pretty happy as they turned out better than expected since they are just seashells from the dollar store – the type you put in the bottom of a lamp, or kids glue to a frame to give to their grandmum, who smiles crookedly and says “I’ve always wanted a frame with seashells around it”. She may not love it, but the photo inside is of them, and that she will love;  dads who wear awful ties given at Xmas, understand what that’s all about. She will love it!

So despite them being bargain bin shells, they photographed nicely and I’m much happier than yesterday.

This one is the biggest shell I have. It must be a full 2 1/2 inches and in my opinion quite gorgeous. Obviously it can’t stand on it’s own so I made a stand for it, with a coffee stirrer snapped to create a kink and hot glued to the back of the shell and then the flat piece glued to the poster board underneath. It took a few tries to get it working so it was straight but I was able by moving my body to completely hide the holding mechanism.  Engineers may smirk, but it worked! Also, the hot glue just came right off the shell and no damage done.

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I also really liked this one because only the very tip of the shell is actually in focus, you can still tell it’s a shell though and I found it interesting also with the bit of orange from the inside showing up almost as if it were glowing.

 

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The next image was going to be my image of the day. I liked it in black and white as that made it different and I really liked the animal stripes all around the shell. I then chose another but not even sure now if I made the right choice.

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As I said, I was going to use the other one, but I opened this as an alternate and kind of just loved the way the bit of texture from the gold paper I used could be seen and how nice and sharp a good portion of the shell was.. I don’t know.. did I make the right choice? You tell me! :-D

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It’s hard to believe that we have already done over 2/3rds of the month. Everyone seems to be holding on strongly at this point. I’m so proud of everyone and all your fantastic images are so fun to follow and so inspiring to me. Thank you all, for your sweet and kind words; you guys are the best!

 

much love,

Maggie