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Favorite Photos of 2016

I took over ten thousand photos this year. Here are a few of my top favorites.


A Day at the Fair

This may be one of my favorite photos ever, I just love the colors and the retro feel of it.


A view of Manhattan from the top of 30Rock. It was amazing to view the city from that height. Post coming soon!


Forgotten Corners

This was an evening in late summer spent exploring the latest construction zone.


A Walk Among the Dunes

Discovering a new place to explore at our favorite beach.


Crape Myrtles

An appreciation of all the Crepe Myrtles in my neighborhood.


Lake of Geese

After attending my company picnic, we wandered around and found a lake full of geese.


Night Rainbow

An attempt to capture a rainbow that appeared as the sun was setting, ended in what will probably be the best photo I will ever take.


National Botanical Gardens

One of my favorite places I have ever visited was the National Botanical Gardens in Washington DC.


Flower Explosion

I love our flower explosion in the springtime!


Early Spring Feeling

To me, this photos reminds of me those first days of the year, where the weather is starting to get warm and the days are just starting to feel longer.


March is Exciting

And this photo makes me think of March, one of my favorite months.


First Flowers

The first flower sightings in my garden!


Quiet Winter Woods

The woods are a pretty place, even in the winter.


A Fog Colored Cemetery

Winter always brings lots of fog. Great for cemetery walks.

What are your favorite photos of 2016? I’d love to see them!

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Land Camera Model 95 Tutorial

One of the highlights of my birthday adventure back in February, was finding this antique land camera.

I’ve had a fascination with polaroid cameras ever since I saw my uncle using one on a beach trip when I was eight years old. I just knew I had to have my own. For my birthday the following year I got an izone camera, and two packs of film. It made tiiiny little photos and I had a blast taking pictures of my pets and my toys. But eventually I used up all the film and for whatever reason never got any more. I never did get a real polaroid camera like I wanted and early this year I discovered the polaroid land camera and knew that was the camera I needed. Not only was it a super neat vintage camera, but you could still take pictures with it! So imagine my surprise when I happen to stumble upon one the next day.

Since finding this particular camera I have learned quite a few things about it that I wanted to share!

You can collapse the camera and the lens folds up to give you a handy way of carrying it around. This is mainly to protect to lens but it’s also convenient  if you don’t want people staring at you while you lug around a bulky 70 year old camera.

To open it you just press the silver button at the top and drag the lens out until it clicks into place.

Closing it is a bit more difficult though, you have to press down on the metal bars towards the back and then force the lens to slide back in. I’m sure it worked great back in the day when it was new, but it’s a struggle to get it back in now. Especially if you’re out in public and trying to rush to put away before it prompts someone to come over and ask you a bunch of questions! (Oh the horror!)

The inventor of this camera was Edwin Land and it was the first instant film camera ever made.  I read a story that said one day his daughter asked him why she couldn’t see the photos he took right away, and that led him to develop this instant camera that was manufactured by polaroid. The polaroid company dropped “Land” from their camera names in 1983 when Edwin Land retired. 

The one I happen to find was the first ever model of the land camera which was produced in 1947! Unfortunately these older models take what is called rollfilm, which stopped being produced in 1992. 🙁 

However you can still find the film on ebay if you’re lucky!  It’s a gamble buying expired film though, because you have no idea if it will actually work or not until you try it.  It takes polaroid 200 roll film, and it can also take polaroid 3000 rollfilm but since it’s such a fast speed I think I read that you need a special filter for it.. I haven’t gotten around to messing with that part yet.

To load the film you have to completely unfold the camera

Pressing the long button will open up the first hinged flap of the camera

And flipping this switch will open up the rest

 When you open a pack of film you will find two rolls, one is the negative film, one is the the positive film and they are attached together with some ancient scotch tape.  DO NOT BREAK THE SCOTCH TAPE. There are directions on the back that show how to load it; the negative roll goes on the right side,  the positive roll goes on the left side and the wrapper wraps around the first hinged flap and a small portion of it should be hanging out once you completely close the camera.

Gently tug on the wrapper to pull it out. It will be about 15 inches long and then it will stop. This means the first exposure is in front of the lens and you are ready to attempt a photograph!

There are a just a few settings you’ll need to adjust before taking a photo. The most important is the aperture, which is done by rotating the knob shown above. The numbers range from 1-8; One being the largest aperture and eight being the smallest. The larger the aperture the more light it lets in, so a low aperture setting is good for shooting indoors and a high aperture setting is best for bright sunlight outdoors. As you turn the knob you can see the aperture changing, which is great way to check to make sure you have the setting right.

The next setting to adjust is the length of the lens, depending on how far away your subject is. This is easily done by just sliding the lens forward or backward.

And then you’re ready to take a picture! Just press down on the shutter button and the aperture opens to expose the film.

The image will not start to develop until it is pulled through the rollers which release the chemicals. To do this, you press the film release button which is the little round button on the back of them camera. After you press it, pull the roll of paper until it stops; the photo you just took should now be in the back of the camera and the development process has started. The box of film says to wait about a minute or so, but since the film is super old I usually wait about three to five minutes before opening the back of the camera to get the picture out.

Once the time is up you can open up the back of the camera and get your photo. Just grab the little triangle tab and pull it off.

However, using expired film that is over 20 years old is risky and more often than not, will not work out! The picture above shows the remnants of an entire roll of film that did not work out.

I have actually managed to take one photo! It was the first roll of film I ever tried and it took me a while to realize that the negative roll had broken away from the positive roll (Remember that very important piece of ancient scotch tape I mentioned above?!) Well the tape had ripped apart by itself so I was only pulling the positive roll of film through and my photos weren’t developing. Once I realized what the problem was I was able to take this photo, but it just happened to be the very last exposure on the roll. This was a particular bummer because I bet I could have gotten an entire roll of photos if I had realized the problem sooner. -_-

But that’s ok, I’m still amazed I was able to even take one! It’s of my plants on my windowsill, I was a little annoyed at myself at first that I didn’t take a photo of something more interesting, but then I remember that the first photo ever taken was out a window so I thought it seemed kind of fitting.

My reaction to a bad exposure covered in old goopy chemicals. 

I am determined to take at least one more good photo with this camera!

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My 100th Blog Post!

It’s my 100th blog post! 

I kind of started blogging on a whim and I am really excited that I have been able to keep up with it and have continued to have plenty ideas for posts. For my one hundredth post I decided to share some of my favorite photos that I’ve taken over the years. Enjoy!

(Probably my all-time favorite, it’s hanging in our living room!)

I didn’t really expect many people to see my blog or follow it so I am always overwhelmed at the amount of responses I get, and each comment I read really brightens my day! Thanks a bunch guys, I can’t wait to share hundreds of more posts 🙂
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50 mm Lens Review

To celebrate my camera being fixed, I decided to buy a new lens! I had been wanting to try out a different lens for a while now. I had never bought a lens before and have just been using the one that came with my camera, which I soon came to learn is often called a “kit lens” (because it comes in a kit!) and is usually rather low quality. I didn’t know anything about lenses so I did a bit of research, learned a lot, and decided on the classic 50 mm lens, which is often used for portraits. The reviews I read were great and people were saying that once they bought this lens, it never came off their camera! At first I was going to buy one that did not have autofocus, it was between 80-100 $ on amazon whereas the the autofocus one was 100 dollars more. But then I realized if the reviews were true and this lens was never coming off my camera, I would get real tired of manual focusing real fast, so I splurged on the autofocus lens.

I thought I would write a small review about my experience with it so far in case anyone out there is in the market for some new lenses as well. 🙂

First off, I had NO idea what the millimeters on lenses were referring to, but I had plenty of crazy guesses, like the length of what was in focus, the closest you could get to your subject, ect. Turns out none of them were right. The millimeters listed is the length from the image sensor inside the camera to the glass of the lens, and basically tells you how zoomed in your photo will be. For instance, the shorter the millimeters, the wider your frame will be.

 50 mm

18 mm

I didn’t really keep this in mind when I bought the lens. I didn’t make the connection that 50 mm meant that I would be significantly zoomed in from what I was used to, so when I first tried it out I was a bit disgruntled that I couldn’t fit everything I wanted into my frame. Another thing to note is that this lens is fixed at 50 mm so you cannot zoom in or out, which means you have to psychically move closer or father from your subject which also took some getting used to. Especially since my old lens went from 18 mm to 55 mm.

After being less than amazed taking shots of my house, I decided to go outside and take some closeups of my plants and I was instantly pleased! This lens has a super shallow depth of field, (which is the area that is in focus) so everything in front of and behind the subject are blurred and it really makes the subject pop!

Bee bum!

These photos above show off just how narrow your area of focus is, which looks great but it takes a lot of tries to get it right. I’m used to just aiming and snapping and having a decently focused photo in just a few seconds, but this lens forces you to slow down and really narrow in on your subject. 

This lens goes down to an F stop of 1.8, which is just a fancy way of saying it has a super wide aperture. The lower the number, the wider the aperture is opened up. The benefit of this is that is lets in more light, which means you can have a faster shutter speed and makes it way easier to capture sharp photos of those pesky pets who are constantly moving! Or for normal people who aren’t obsessed with taking cat photos, it means this lens is great for taking pictures in low light. For a comparison, my old lens only went down to an F stop of 5.6.

For the first few days I had it, I was convinced it was only good for taking close up shots because of its narrow depth of field. But while out on a few walks, I realized it actually took some pretty nice landscape photos too! Although like I mentioned above it can be tricky to get your subject in focus when you’re used to just pointing and shooting and it might take a bunch of tries to get it right. I can’t tell you how many photos I deleted when I looked back on them later and realized either nothing was in focus, or the wrong thing was in focus.

A good feature on this lens is that it has a manual focus override ring, which you can use to override the camera’s manual focus. A lot of times the camera doesn’t do a great job on focusing in on exactly what you want it to, especially when you’re taking close ups. I am still super glad I went with the autofocus though.

All in all I am beyond happy with this lens! It did take some getting used to, but don’t all new things? The photos it produces are so much better than those from my old lens, everything is so bright and clear. The only thing that can get tiring though is getting far enough away so that I can fit everything into my frame. Maybe one day I’ll get a 35 mm.

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Cat Photos Friday #4- Cat Grass!

Last spring I bought some fancy variegated cat grass for my cats. Thinking it would either distract them from my houseplants, or backfire and give them a taste for greens! 

I should have known a certain orange cat would rather dig the dirt than eat the grass! 

Jeeves got bored after a while and decided he’d rather run off with my broom!

They pretty much destroyed the grass in about 10 minutes so I never really found out if it would keep them away from my plants or not. Oh well!
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Cat Photos Friday #1

I decided to start a weekly theme called Cat Photos Friday! I have 100s of random cat photos on my computer and I thought I might as well share them with the world. (Plus it gives me an excuse to keep taking more 😉 Hehe) 

I have three cats, and they are completely nuts. They race around the house like maniacs and create all kinds of ruckus. I feel like I live in a zoo most days. A very entertaining zoo though! This particular day was sometime last spring when I bought them a new canvas cat condo because they destroyed the last one. A year later and this one is now looking pretty bad.. But these pictures cracked me up and I feel like they capture their personalities perfectly. So, let me introduce my nutballs!

This is Cloud. Her hobbies include dragging her favorite toy mice into dark rooms and yowling at them. 

This is Jeeves. He enjoys meowing at the top of his lungs for no reason and doing back flips off the walls.

This is Chester. He loves water from the sink, water from the bathtub and knocking glasses of water onto the floor. WATER.
 I’ll end the post with this very flattering picture of Jeeves.

You can find loads more photos on instagram at #chestercloudjeeves