Friday, December 9, 2016

3 Wonderful Image Collections to Ring in the New Year

Today there was a little surprise waiting for me when I logged into Facebook for the first time. Besides the usual "Good morning", the social media site had prepared a short video reviewing my photos, posts and likes for the past year.

It was a rather pleasant start to the day, really — taking a look back at some much-loved faces and memories of good times.  Since the presentation wasn't something I had put together myself, it was, of course, missing a few people who should have most definitely been included. As well, there were some Throwback Thursday pictures that had nothing to do with the way my 2016 looked. But for a retrospective compiled from an outside perspective it was decent enough.

Though looking back was the focus of this compilation, however,  it also served as a reminder of what's to come. Another new year looms. Hard to believe, with all the Christmas rush and fun still on its way, that in a few short weeks we will be entering 2017. For those of us who sang along in 1974 with Paul McCartney's, "No one ever left alive in nineteen hundred and eighty-five" while thinking how how far into the future that seemed,  the reality that we're almost two decades in to the 21st Century is a bit of a stunner.

It's all too true though. Within a heartbeat of picking up the detritus of the Christmas morning unwrapping frenzy, of over-stuffing ourselves on turkey and all the trimmings, we will by ringing in the new year with a countdown, confetti and champagne.

Around our house the evening of Dec. 31 is much quieter than it used to be, a fact that's accompanied by some fixed feelings for my guy and me. For decades we partied with a group of friends, with each of us taking a turn at hosting duties.  They were indeed, in the early days, crazy fun. We couldn't have imagined spending it any other way than with these dear old friends.

Life and circumstances, however, change us and the commonalities and interests acquaintances share, that once made a particular social circle inviting and exciting, might become less so. In our case, while affection remains, the way we and our friends enjoy passing leisure time has come to differ significantly.  Last year, after 40 years of partying together we went our separate ways. No regrets, just a clear recognition that New Year's Eve is a celebration and no one should spend it wishing they were doing something else. After a quiet dinner with this group then, my guy and I will be heading out to hear our son's band at a nightclub, while others who just head home.

There are people who will be ringing in 2017 among strangers, in places where the music is live and the celebration loud. There will be others who will go out for dinner or to a house party with an intimate circle of friends. And there will be those who opt for nothing more than a quiet evening with their significant other.

No matter what, where or how, in just a few short weeks we will say goodbye to a year that has been — well, interesting, and welcome a new one with hope and faith in our hearts.

In the meantime to bring your New Year's projects to life here are three wonderful image collections: New Year's Images New Year's Images New Year's Pictures

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

3 Sources for Christmas Tree Photography Tips

"The Christmas tree is a symbol of love, not money. There's a kind of glory to them when they're all lit up that exceeds anything all the money in the world could buy." — Andy Rooney

I love the warmth a Christmas tree brings to a home.  It's been mentioned, however,  in a previous blog how much I abhor the task of decorating the tree each year. It's a comedy of errors each and every time, with tangled lights, unlit strings and broken ornaments.

At 5'2" I'm always trying to find the best approach to the top, without exercising the common sense that should come with age. The most entertaining was when I recruited a young friend to hold on to the one end of the lights while I deftly climbed atop a swivelling bar stool.  No need to go into any further details. Suffice it to say, the landing wasn't pretty.

Little wonder then, given the trials and tribulations,  that I long to get that perfect picture when the job is done.  For some time this proved to be as challenging as the job that preceded it. The impact was lost if the lights were on, while trying to get a decent picture in darkness proved extremely challenging since I didn't't own a tripod. My beautiful tree and its softly glowing lights were not surprisingly transformed into a blurry mass of blah and white.

Again, my common sense seemed to have taken a walk, as I was only too well aware that holding the camera steady enough given the slow shutter speed was almost a guarantee of failure, yet my rebellious streak continued to try.

Then, one Christmas a few years ago, I realized that if I set the camera on the high top eating counter at the kitchen island I could shoot the tree through the doorway. The end result was a vast improvement, though that tripod definitely remains on that wish list for retirement when I intend to pursue my love of photography with full commitment.

And thanks to the internet there is no end to the helpful resources to help me improve, including these terrific ones for photographing your Christmas tree:

Five simple but effective suggestions, as well as some more creative ideas to help you preserve this year's Christmas tree for posterity.

More of the above with a few new tips, including the concept of what including people in the shot can do for your picture.

This offers a more detailed description and advice for taking photos of a subject with the Christmas tree in the background.