Morning Light

My favorite time to capture photos is in the early morning. It’s peaceful to be out there listening to the roosters crowing while the sun peeks up over the hill. My absolute favorite mornings are foggy mornings that leave lots of dew on the grasses and flowers. This morning, the fog burned off just as the sun was rising. It created a perfect opportunity to “play” with the camera.

This morning my goal was to get some dew drop photos and some photos of the sunrise behind the barn. In less than 15 minutes (and a pair of wet shoes, socks and pants later) I think I captured the details I love the most.

Barrows Farm Barn in Silhouette against the sunrise

A tiny flower reaching for the light with tiny drops of dew.

A tiny flower reaching for the light with tiny drops of dew.

 

One drop of dew on the tip of a grass blade. The "dots" are thousands of blades lines up with dew drops

One drop of dew on the tip of a grass blade. The “dots” are thousands of blades lines up with dew drops

Anyone with a DSLR can play with the different settings to lengthen exposure or shorten it. I decided to shorten the exposure time and attempt to pick up just the light refraction through the dew drops along the edge of some grasses in a pasture. Below is the final result! I’m very happy with the results! By the way…that’s with ZERO editing!

 

Dew Drop Silhouette

Dew Drop Silhouette

 

 

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ISO settings

Since I have been working with a couple of people on creating better images. I think the biggest flaw that people have when using a DSLR is that they have no desire to learn and incorporate ISO speeds. Digital photography gives us much more flexibility within one camera than any film ever could have. Changing the ISO is the DSLR equivalent of changing film speed in a conventional camera! Now think of it like this, one change can be done from photo to photo with a DSLR. That couldn’t have been done EVER with a film camera.

This tells you how sensitive the film is to light, a higher number indicating more sensitivity to light. In digital photography ISO indicates how sensitive the image sensor is to light.

The following information is taken DIRECTLY from the Digital SLR Photo, Starter’s Guide…so don’t say you have an excuse for not knowing this information if you are reading this and  you own a DSLR!

The most common ISOs are:

100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200

Quick tip

The higher the ISO number = the higher the sensitivity to light

Moving from one ISO to the next value changes the exposure by half or double.

The ability to shoot in low light has a trade-off in the form of grain or noise. In digital cameras it’s not the grain of the film that becomes visible at higher sensitivities, but digital noise – the visual equivalent to the hiss you hear when you turn a hi-fi amp up to full volume when nothing is playing.

100 ISO will give you sharp images while 3200 will show quite a lot of noise.

The higher the ISO number = the more noise/grain

The rule of thumb is to select the lowest ISO you can get away with that will allow you to take a picture at a fast enough shutter speed and/or larger aperture.

A football match outdoors on a bright day: at ISO 200 you should be able to shoot at 1/250 or faster to freeze action.

Concerts and gigs: always a tough one especially at smaller venues where there’s little lighting and the subject is moving. Best bet is to start at 3200, do a few test shots and then lower the ISO to the lowest you can take successful shots.

Churches and galleries: 1600 might be the minimum ISO you can get away with to shoot at 1/60. 

Top tip 1: faced with the choice of introducing more noise and a fast enough shutter speed, go with the shutter speed.  You can live with noise and make attempts to reduce it with software but you can’t do much with a blurred shot other than bin it.

Top tip 2: purposely use a high ISO for a grainy effect and give  mood to a scene.  This might be harder to do than you think as camera manufacturers are continuously reducing (“improving”) the noise from ISO settings to the point where you might need to add it in post-production.

Here are images, taken at the same shutter speed, of the same object, but at different ISO speeds. Shutter speed (Or exposure time for the Novice Photographers was set to 1/160 sec on the TV mode). As you can see, the images are “brighter” due to the increased amount of “light” let into the camera. Not one of these images uses a flash and all were taken on the same parameters for Black and White Photography, just to show the differences.

ISO-200

IMG_1321

ISO-400

IMG_1322

ISO-800

IMG_1323

ISO-1600

These are just FOUR of the many ISO settings available on my camera! If you are willing to learn ISO differences, this is one of the most important tools you can use to capture those special moments in EVERY different lighting situation!

GET OUT THERE! CAPTURE LOTS OF NEW IMAGES AND CHANGE THOSE ISO SETTINGS! Your photography will thank you for it!!!!!

Fund Raising

As many of you already know, I live my life attempting to capture the moments that inspire me. I do that with old, used equipment and it’s almost done taking it’s last photos. I want to continue to share not only the moments from the farms I am so blessed to be connected with but also moments that are near and dear to others. In an attempt to raise funds so that I could purchase my first brand new batch of equipment, I am humbly asking for donations. Please help me continue doing what I love so much. Money is extremely tight and any amount will help me continue sharing the things I like so much in life. Thank you to all who would be willing to donate a few dollars. I will gladly send prints or photograph for you. If you can’t assist, maybe you know of family or friends that can, kindly sharing the link below with them would be greatly appreciated.

http://www.gofundme.com/3v40fg

Therapy Animals and Photography

As you can read on the About Me page, I am a person who has suffered through a great deal in my life to date. I’m okay with everything that has happened, the medical diagnosis that turned my life upside down and even the tragedies that have occurred. I am not saying that it’s easy or that I am 100% dealing with the issues but I am saying that I have learned to cope.

In 2008, when I had two years of massive depression and then the diagnosis of Multiple sclerosis, a counselor decided it was time for me to access what meant the most to me in my life. Her suggestion was that I pick up a camera and start photographing everything that “spoke” to me. I started taking photos of nature and wildlife, animals and farms. My health care provider suggested that I start eating more raw foods, home-grown items so that I knew what went into the production of food goods and to find time to release stress.

All of this started a major transition in my life. I discovered my love of cattle. I discovered what I felt about the land, my natural environment and more of who I was on the inside. Working with the cattle is my true therapy. I learned that when I am around them, I breathe slower and I am more relaxed. I am not like Tigger on drugs, which is me at any other point during the day. I learned that calves never fail to bring a smile to my face. I learned the sense of accomplishment like I never have before after saving a calf from near death and then watching them give birth to their first calf.

I have learned that I can capture this passion through the lens of a camera too, not only for cattle but for tractors and diesel trucks, flowers and nature, wildlife and water. I’ve learned that I love the little things in life and have come to appreciate them that much more. It just seems that no matter how difficult my life is, there is always something so small that thrives through wind, rain and snow. If a tiny plant with the smallest of flowers can come back year after year during the harshest of elements that nature provides, then I guess I don’t have an excuse anymore to feel sorry for myself. Mother Nature has taught me that we all have our own storms to weather but, as long as our roots are strong, we can always regrow. During our regrowth, we may become something slightly different from what we were before but usually we are stronger on the other side.

I have lots that I could share about these feelings and emotions but I won’t bore you with the details. I will just remind you that no matter what, each trial we go through brings us closer to who we really are on the inside. I am a survivor, plain and simple.

So for now, I will keep working with my therapy cattle and grooming them to be friendly animals for others to use and learn from. I will continue to learn about what’s best for me and my environment. And, of course, I will continue to photograph everything along the way.

If you live in the area and just need some space…I will be more than happy to let you come laugh with me over calf-antics, share a spot on the banks of the pond at sunset, or allow you to stroll through the pastures capturing your own photos. My work here is meant to be shared.

Calf-Antics

Calf-Antics

Those Moments

Sometimes I just have THOSE moments. Maybe I am just a little more aware of the things around me because I am always searching for just the perfect shot. Maybe it’s because I look at things a little differently, seeking those things that a different and unique. I’m not really sure what it is, it just is. It’s difficult for me to explain and even harder for me to teach. It just is what it is.

Those moments I speak of are when something happens, for me it’s usually captured by a camera in my hand, that makes you sit back on your heels and ponder the moment. The moments don’t happen often. It’s rare and it takes you by surprise. It could be something crazy like a grasshopper that jumps on the window of the truck on a cloudy day. It could be something as simple as a calf smelling a flower. Then other times, it could be something as simple as the delicate petals of a flower that are nearly transparent from the rain, wind and sun.

These aren’t those moments that are bad. They are the moments that are miraculous. Those moments that I just happen to be in the right place at the right time. Some require patience but most just happen while out walking doing something entirely different. They are moments full of awe and wonderful amazement as you look up and see things in a different perspective. I am a professional photographer. These are the moments that take my breathe away and moments I am always on the look out for.

Amy, a week old Jersey/Dexter cross calf, smelling a wildflower.

 

The delicate petals of an unusual colored wildflower

 

The flight of the grasshopper

I have won awards, placed in the top 300 for international competitions, been published countless amounts of time and nothing compares to the moments when these moments are taken. No amount of money, praise or attention can compare. I take photographs JUST to capture these moments. It happens with nature, with people and everything in between. I’m just blessed to be able to have them happen time and time again!

 

 

Being Me

Part of what makes being me is my individuality when it comes to cattle. I love cows. It doesn’t matter what breed…although I do prefer those brown-eyed Bambi cows called Jerseys! I have a special connection with cattle. I can almost feel their pain when they are sick or injured. I just connect on a different level. Maybe it’s because I love them, like others love their dog. They are my passion.

As the saying goes on good old Lady Liberty says, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” I will give them care, food and pastures to graze. Uh, isn’t that kind of funny…a New Yorker referring to Lady Liberty and comparing it to cattle. Only in New York 🙂

I think I crazily just picked a farm name for when I get started on my own. Crazy isn’t it? The odd things that come to us sometimes….

Cattle have actually been my saving grace, not the other way around. They have pulled me up from the depths of depression and overwhelming sadness that I was struggling with when I got my first little bull calf. He forced me to get out of bed every morning to care for him. He needed food and water. He got lots of attention and was a spoiled snot.

My first steer

I call him my segway animal. He is the one that got me started into this passion for cattle. Then along came Belle, aka Ma, as a rescue cow. I remember crying with her in the pasture as I watched her protecting her calf in the grass. Maybe it was the maternal instinct in both of us that caused such an intense connection. I’m honestly not sure but I know I made a promise to her to love her and care for her the way she cared for her own child.

A peaceful bliss on her face. The look of an angel in contentment.

A peaceful bliss on her face. The look of an angel in contentment.

I watched her develop her motherly instincts and become the graceful “lady” I knew in my heart she was all along. She made me see exactly what I should do in life. Cattle in need are my real passion. Working with animals with a loving nature and attitude is the most rewarding job I have ever held. Belle is the perfect demonstration of that love and compassion.

Belle, the mother to many and the real reason she is nicknamed “Ma”

The passions have grown, the research into better methods have continued and I am a forever changed person because of the cattle. It is amazing to see the progress that has been made and how special my relationship is with the animals. I absolutely adore them all. They have shown me…well, ME. Through patience, tenderness and love for cattle, I have seen a side of myself that I never thought possible. A calm, dedicated individual who would bend over backwards to provide the same quality of life for my cattle as I would my family and devoted friends. A few have called me crazy and I admit I am but there is nothing in the world like having cattle trust you so much they enjoy your company…maybe even share a “kiss” or two.

Calf kisses just happen to be the best!

Calf kisses just happen to be the best!

Celebrate Living, Not Life

Sounds strange doesn’t it? To celebrate living, not life. It isn’t something you will probably hear many people say but I’m saying it anyway. We are all here at this time for a purpose: to live. But is it life or is it living? Can you tell the difference between the two?

Life is what happens when we developed a heartbeat, were born into this world and took our first breaths. Our journey through life is how we are living. It’s the adventures, missteps, trials and tribulations of living that make up our life.

I want to be LIVING my life for purpose, for passion, for love. I don’t want a life full of possessions and dead-end relationships.

My purpose is my passion and ultimately what I love. It might not always include a “partner” beside me but it is all me. It’s mine. It’s what makes me unique.

Why do I bring this random topic up? I bring it up because today is an anniversary that I wish I could never have seen. Sixteen years ago today, many of us in this community lost a friend. His short life was filled with living, doing the things he loved to do and having a blast while doing them. He was taken way before he should have been. I know I think of him often and how he was in life. He knew to take advantage of each new day, to constantly be living!

I don’t want a mundane life. I want to be living my dreams, living my goals, living without fear, living through my work and definitely living my passions. What are those “things” that make my life worth living? Photography is the first thing that comes to mind. Capturing those moments, those times that nature provides us with that are often missed by the naked eye. The moments when the sun rays shine just right through the leaves on a tree or reflect on the water. Cattle is the second thing that automatically comes to mind. I love the trust they share with me. They provide me with a therapy where nervousness and fear isn’t allowed. They don’t care how I dress, what makeup I wear or even if I comb my hair. They just are, I just am and they accept that. I’m still developing my dreams, my goals and my passions. I’ll figure it all out someday.

Until then, I am going to keep on living by trying new experiences and capturing those images that “speak” to me. Keep an eye out for me though…I might be that crazy lady you see laying out in a pasture surrounded by cattle somewhere!

Even the cattle often think I’m a little crazy. Sometimes it’s all about the perspective!