Tag Archives: frost

May in Minnesota

Spring in Minnesota is a season of contrasts.  Just this past week I posted pictures of my spring gardens off to a great start.  It has been an unusually warm spring and everything has been a couple of weeks ahead of normal.

Reality set in this weekend and we were all reminded that it is, after all, only May…and we live in Minnesota.

On Friday evening we looked out the window to find scenes like this…

And this…

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Filed under Flower, Gardens

Frost Photography – Experimenting out of Auto Mode

I have always loved to take pictures.  Just ask my children.  When they were small, I had them so conditioned to being the subject of photographs that when they would see me with the camera and I called out their name they would stop and smile.  If the three of them were together, they would form a nice little line.  No arguments.  Although their willingness to co-operate has become less reliable through the years, my love of taking pictures has not waned.

Before taking a big trip in December 2007 to visit some friends in Japan, I bought my first digital SLR, a Nikon D40.  For the past two years I have shot with this camera in Auto mode and for the most part, I have been happy with the pictures.  Before the holidays, however, I started wondering about all the untapped potential of my camera…all those buttons, modes, and settings that I didn’t understand and had never dared to try.  So I signed myself up for a beginner class on digital SLR’s at a camera store in the big city.

The first class left me both inspired and overwhelmed.  Aperture, shutter speed, ISO, white balance….my head was spinning.  Although I was intimidated, I was also amazed by the creative options opened up by moving the dial from auto to the different priority modes (aperture, shutter speed, manual, etc.).

A week after my first class, I looked out the window in the morning and saw a beautiful hoar frost blanketing the trees.  I wanted to throw on my boots, grab my camera and head outdoors to do some experimenting taking pictures.  Reality set in, however, and I turned my attention to getting the kids out the door for school and driving to work.  On my drive home later that day, I noticed that remnants of the hoar frost still clung to the trees.  If I hurried, I could maybe try out a few shots in between picking the kids up from school, running them home for a snack, and getting back in the car to drive them to piano lessons.

While the kids were getting their piano books together and eating, I had about 10 minutes to go outside with my camera.  I put the camera in aperture priority mode and shot the pictures below.  The first shot is of seeds on an Amur Maple tree along our driveway at a focal length of 135mm (my lens is an 18mm – 135mm, so that means I had the lens zoomed in all the way).

I took the next series of shots of a Prairie Fire Crab Apple tree outside of my kitchen window.  The first one was taken at a focal length of 52 mm.  I didn’t really know what I was doing, other than trying out the aperture priority mode, so for each picture I tried to dial down the aperture setting as far as I could….just to see what would happen.  The aperture setting or “f-stop” for this picture was f/8.0.  To be honest, even after my first class, I really had no idea what this meant, except that I knew changing the aperture affected the “depth of field” in a picture.  The depth of field is basically how much of the picture is in focus.

I zoomed in a little closer in the next shot to 58 mm and tried turning the aperture down again, but the f-stop remained f/8.0 for this shot.

In the next photo, I once again zoomed in closer to 70 mm.  The f-stop setting is f/5.5.  The lower the aperture number, the less the depth of field is in a picture.  You can see the berries are in focus (sort of) and the background is getting blurry.

Finally, I zoomed in all the way to 135 mm and took the last shot.  The aperture setting was f/5.6.

Although these pictures are far from perfect or even particularly interesting, I was proud of myself for finally turning that dial from auto mode and making my first attempt at shooting in aperture priority mode.  I have a LOT to learn and even since shooting these first pictures, I believe that I have a better understanding of some of these photography concepts.  I will continue to experiment, learn, hopefully improve, and most importantly, aggravate my children by taking lots and lots of pictures.

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Filed under Gardens, Photography