Wednesday, April 29, 2015

back at the Harley Davidson Museum

Earlier this month I made my fifth visit to the Harley Davidson Museum. If you've been following my blog for a while, you've seen pictures of the museum here before. It was actually one of the first places that I ever took my Rebel. I shared my third and fourth trips to the museum for Alphabe Thursday. It's fascinating to look back and see what I captured and how I edited my shots each time. I hope that you enjoy this latest round.

What have you been photographing lately?

Monday, April 27, 2015

spring 2015 fashion picks

I use the term "spring" loosely here. If you live in the Midwest, you know that you may be wearing boots and a sweater one day and then cropped pants and a t-shirt the next day (in many instances, literally the very next day). It will be a good month or two before I'm wearing open toe shoes and t-shirts on a regular basis, but I'm already shopping for them so here we go.

V-Neck Tee. It's extremely rare that I wear an outfit without a pop of color. I'm more likely to pick green, turquoise, or purple than pink, but I like the pink with the gray bag and brown sandals. And you can't go wrong with a classic v-neck.

The Sweetheart Straight Jeans. Why are all of the women's pants skinny right now? There is rumor that acid wash is about to make a huge comeback so we should stop complaining about the skinny pant phenomenon because things are going to get worse. Anyway, usually I feature dress pants or a skirt in these features, and the truth is that 97% of the time I wear jeans. So I went with jeans this time.

White Denim Jacket. I get cold easily so I often dress in layers. Most of the time I grab a cardigan, but a jacket is a better choice to make an outfit look pulled together. I do have a few jackets similar to this one that I love and do wear on a regular basis.

Saylie Medway Wedge Sandal. I spent a lot of my teaching years buying inexpensive shoes and sandals because I was working with a pretty tight budget. Some of them have worked out all right, but generally I've been much happier with shoes in the $40-$100 price range than $15-20 price range. I already have some dressy open toe shoes that I do really like (namely Steve Madden and Nine West), but I finally bit the bullet and bought some high quality everyday sandals.

Gray Bag. This gray bag is the item that inspired this post. It showed up on my Etsy main page a couple weeks ago, and the rest is history. Actually I really want this bag right now, but it's not nearly as stylish. Also, I bought a Dooney & Bourke bag a couple years back from I Love Dooney that has held up fabulously, and I'm not in the market for another everyday bag right now. But this little gray bag is still really great.

Square Crystal Bracelet. I actually did buy this bracelet during a recent family & friends 40% off everything sale. I don't buy jewelry very often because I already have a wealth of jewelry that I've made, been gifted, or bought at previous sales of this nature. But sometimes a piece is just calling to you. (If you click over to the link and read the reviews, I don't know why people are complaining about the clasp. Clearly it's a spring ring clasp, not a toggle.)

What are you wearing this spring?

Thursday, April 23, 2015

my top 3 photography resources

Over the past couple years, I've answered a ton of questions about how I've improved my photography skills. Most people want to hear that I bought a better camera. In reality, there are a lot of things that I have done to improve my photography from upgrading my camera to taking a lot of pictures (somewhere in the range of 12,000 to 15,000 per year for three years straight) to studying a wealth of great photos. Today I'm outlining the top three things that have had a huge impact on my photo skills the past year.

 Digital Photography Recommendations / PhotoRec Toby
I've been watching Toby's YouTube channel for over two years now, and by far, it's my favorite YouTube photography channel. One of my biggest complains about photography tutorials is that they tend to cover very basic or extremely advanced techniques without much in the middle. Toby does a good job finding this much neglected middle ground. Beginners won't be lost but professionals can still learn a lot. Toby covers everything from product reviews to Lightroom tutorials to composition techniques. He's had a huge influence on most of my gear purchases and a lot of my photography routines, such as Instagram workflow and Lightroom uploading routine.

In addition to the YouTube channel, Toby has a very active, supportive Facebook community that I highly recommend joining. Additionally, he and his professional wedding photographer fiance are in the process of releasing an outstanding Lightroom video series. I am certainly not an expert on Lightroom, but I've been using it every week, if not every day, for nearly two years, and I've learned so much from this series.

 Pinch of Yum
Pinch of Yum is a food blog. I started following it after Natasha wrote a review of sorts a while back about Pinch of Yum's food photography ebook. Recently Pinch of Yum conducted a reader survey. One of the things that I mentioned in the survey is that I've learned as much about photography as I have about making delicious food from reading their blog, which is absolutely true. In the past few years, Lindsay has taken her photos to a whole new level, and I spend a lot of time studying them and reading her photography tips to improve my own work. As many of you already know, Lindsay played a large part in my decision to start using a larger artificial lighting set up. As such, I've referred back to Artificial Lighting Tips for Food Photography and 5 Ways to Improve Your Food Photography With Artificial Light multiple times in the past year.

It took me a long time to get on board with trying Instagram because I'm inherently wary of anything trendy. I never expected to like it as much as I do. You'll be hard pressed to find a more efficient way to study literally dozens of amazing photos every day. It can take a while to find great photographers that you want to follow and get into a routine of going through your feed each day, but it's well worth the effort.

How do you improve your photography skills?
If you have any favorite resources, please feel free to share them in the comments!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Kenosha's Southport Park

A couple weekends ago I was down in Kenosha, truthfully primary to go shopping at the Pleasant Prairie Premium Outlets, home of my favorite LOFT Outlet in the world. While I was down that way, I checked out the new to me Southport Park. It's further south than I usually venture, even when I'm as far south as Kenosha. While it's nothing special, it's always neat to check out a new corner of the world.

Where have you been exploring lately?

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Grant Park in the fog

It's not uncommon to get fog in Milwaukee, especially close to the lake. But it's rare that it sticks around for more than a couple hours in the morning. I actually only have one other set of fog photos, which I took last summer. Today I'm sharing a new perspective of the frequently featured Grant Park from a particularly foggy day last week. Spring in Milwaukee at its best. Enjoy.

I know that it looks like I blew out the falls when I took this picture, but that's how they look right now. The water level is high and the current is really moving.

A few fisherman at the end of the pier.

On my way out of the park, I had to get a few shots of the trees in the fog. The scene is naturally almost black and white. I did very little editing to these two tree shots.

Do you get a lot of fog in your area?

Monday, April 13, 2015

peek at the next ebook in the works

Last month I mentioned that I'm working on my next ebook, and I shared my first peek from it. Over the past few weeks I've made a lot of progress on the samples for it and wanted to share of them. I am really happy with my work so far and am looking forward to finishing up the samples and moving forward with final shots for the book.

I always use an acrylic spray for my sheet music pages that I'll be gluing so that the ink doesn't run. On a whim, I decided to paint some of my clothespin samples. I absolutely love the textured look of watercolors over acrylic spray.

Finally, I can't seem to stop making paper flowers. Many of you know that I have been a huge Alisa Burke fan for several years now, and you can definitely see her influence in these flowers. In addition to the influence in the designs themselves, I also took a page from her book and used cheap supplies - Crayola watercolor paints and a Bic white out pen - to make this come together.

What have you been working on lately?

Thursday, April 9, 2015

the waterfalls at Whitnall Park

After months of limited outdoor photo taking excursions, the warm weather has been inspiring me to get out more again. This past week I took my tripod with me for the first time since the fall and revisited the beautiful Whitnall Park with a friend.

What have you been photographing lately?