Thursday, January 29, 2009

Take a walk in the snow with me

We had another big snowstorm yesterday. Maya had the day off from school and she wanted to play with her cousins, so she went there and I went to the Old Port to take some pictures of the winter wonderland that was being created. The first picture is looking up Exchange Street. I liked the colors of the buildings and the shining streetlamp. It looks so cozy and inviting, but the snow was blowing hard and practically blinding me! This next shot is looking down Exchange Street.
This one is of Fore Street, looking towards the Customs House:

From there, I slipped and slid my way down to Commercial Street and behind Harbor Fish Market, where I took these two pictures of lobster boats in the snow. Maybe some of you recall the post I made in November that had pictures of these same boats dripping with golden morning light? Well, the only thing dripping was the snow that was blowing in past my scarf, let me tell you, but the boats certainly made for a pretty sight:

From the boats, I went around to the street Harbor Fish Market is on--I never think to actually remember what its name is, but someday I will. Here is a view of my favorite no parking sign-covered doors and the Porthole Restaurant:

That is across the street from the market:

I went inside and took a couple of pictures of dead fish, because, well, I couldn't resist!

And then I had to make the much rougher slog back up hill to my car, which I'd parked on Congress Street--a loooong walk back when the wind, which had completely been at my back during the walk down, was now blowing right into my face, along with the snow, which had begun to fall at the oh-so-respectable rate of two inches an hour, where it stayed for the afternoon, ending up dumping about 15 inches on us all told. This last photo is of the First Parish Unitarian Universalist Steeple, being pelted by said white stuff.

Not one of my best images, I know, and yet I wanted to show the heavy snow and if you look closely at the sky, you can see thousands and thousands of snowflakes whirling downward. Hope you enjoyed taking a walk with me. Cindy

Monday, January 26, 2009

It's All Chance: One woman's high speed journey

I played a lot of the dice game 10,000 (or as some of you out there may know it: Farkel) this weekend with my family while we visited my mother in Blue Hill, ME. I kept admiring how cool it looked when the dice were thrown and eventually, a lightbulb lit up over my head: I could take high-speed pictures of dice falling or being thrown!

I thought about it all the way home from Blue Hill yesterday and this morning, after Jon and Maya had left for work and school respectively, I set up my "studio." (Read: this photographer pushes all the junk on the kitchen table to the side, puts up a black velvet background and shoots pictures on the tabletop. Very "high-tech!")
I also thought it might be cool to take a picture of dice falling onto a Monopoly board.
Ultimately though, what I realized is that I liked how it looked when HANDS were throwing the dice, so now that I feel that I understand how to capture the dice fairly sharply, when maya gets home, I'm going to try to enlist her in throwing the dice for me as I shoot pictures of it.

Here's the dirt on how to do this, just in case you're so inclined as to try this crazy experiment sometime in your own "studio."

1. Put your hotshoe flash in PTTL mode but set it in high-speed sync if you have that feature. You can have the flash actually ON the camera, as I did it, or if you want flash to come from a different direction, set it up off camera wherever you like and set your camera to fire it remotely. Now get your cable release or IR remote (that's what I use.)
2. Put your camera in Manual Mode, so you can control your shutter speed and focus as well as ISO. Shutter speed: at least 1/1000 sec, ISO 100-200 to keep the images clean, f/13-16 to have crisper front to back focusing as the dice are going to bounce all over the place.
3. Set the camera up on your tripod (you can use whatever lens you feel necessary here: I used my kit 50-200mm because that's all I have at the moment.)
4. Get your dice out (or whatever you want to photograph at high speed really) and set them in the spot you want the camera to focus on them and focus the camera. Then lock your focus. On my Pentax, it has a little toggle switch beside the lens that allows me to change it to Manual focus.
5. Now, turn on the camera and flash and start dropping dice as you use your remote or cable release to release the shutter as many times as it takes! I'd love to hear if anyone tries this and see your results!

Thanks, as always, for reading. Cindy

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Happy Inauguration Day!

This is a great day in my life, I have to say. . . We can finally hold our heads up as a nation again, as Barack Obama is sworn into office in less than three hours from now. Much of the world is excited about our new president and with good reason. I looked and looked through all my photos and could not find ONE picture I've ever taken of an American flag--shame on me! So what I did was this: post three pictures: one red, one white and one blue to celebrate our flag and our new president. Congratulations to Barack Obama and to the American people on this great day! Cindy

Thursday, January 15, 2009

A Wintertime Architectural Walk through Portland's West End

On December 21st, 2008, we had a BIG snowstorm. This was the view outside my living room at about 10:30 that night, so you'll have to forgive me for not running outside to get a beautiful, perfectly-composed shot! It was also windy and frigidly cold! By the next morning, this is what the world looked like:
Yes, that's my teeny-tiny house, blanketed in nearly 18 inches of snow! It was such a beautiful morning, and I have a four wheel drive car, that I decided to drive over to Portland's beautiful West End to capture some of its more interesting features, similarly blanketed, but hopefully more impressive than my modest bungalow.

The first place I went was State Street, with its rows of beautiful Victorian houses and churches.

If you turn around and face the other way from the above shot, you'll see Portland's very own poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, staring down at you from his lofty granite pedestal:

He's dressed for the holidays, as it was a few days before Christmas when I took this shot. Behind his chair are a bunch of boxes wrapped to look like presents.

Next, I went to Portland's famed Victoria Mansion, . I drove down State Street to Danforth with my mother and daughter, who patiently sat in the car as I slogged my way through the snow that still covered the streets to capture this five image vertical panorama of the mansion in all its snowy glory. Taking a full picture of the mansion from the front is difficult at best, and nigh impossible, without including the power lines that line the sidewalk I normally would have had to stand on. But there were so few cars out that morning, that I was able to stand almost in the middle of the street to take this and I had to crop the power lines out afterward. (Here's a little-known secret: I have a photoshop wizard who goes by the name "Dad," and he's the one who actually removed those pesky lines for me!) This next picture is a small panorama of an historical building I've long admired on the West End, The Howard Milliken House, also on Danforth Street. The two types of facing materials, brick and yellow clapboard, really stand out for me. The odd-looking picture below is a 5 shot handheld panorama of Portland's illustrous and oh-so-tweedy men's club, The Cumberland Club, on High Street, established in 1877, according to its website: . It has an interesting history, if you visit the link and view their history page.
From the Cumberland Club, I continued up the street to Portland Museum of Art's wonderful McClellan House, which is attached to the museum (or perhaps the museum, having been built in the 1980s is attached to IT, which is Federal-style and obviously built a few years prior to the 1980s!) You can tour the inside of McClellan House for the price of entrance to the museum, or just wait until Friday nights, when the entire museum is open to the public (free) from 5-8 pm. This panorama of Portland's interesting City hall wasn't actually taken after the storm, but I thought it deserved to be a part of my not all-inclusive tour. City Hall is located on Congress Street not too far from my favorite church:
This is First Parish Church, of the oldest buildings in Portland, dating back to 1726, and the coolest Universal Unitarian Church you could hope to encounter! Obviously this one wasn't taken after the snowstorm either! It is an HDR (high dynamic resolution) composite of 3 photos taken in the early fall.

Finally, driving all the way back down to the waterfront, you will find the Portland Customs House, built in the 1800s, I believe. here is its website, so if you're so inclined, you can learn more about its history:

I took this picture because I was trying to capture the beautiful moon in the middle of the picture on the right, above the right front corner. Unfortunately, it looks more like a dust speck than a moon, I'm afraid.

If you walk less than a block more on the water, you might see a view similar to this one I took in November:

This is the view behind Harbor Fish Market, a wonderful place that my grandfather used to take my brother and I to when we were little.

Well, that's all for now! I hope you enjoyed my little mini-tour. Be sure to check out my new products page at I've got a CFW Photography landscapes calendar for sale so far and I intend to have more products available soon! I think you either click on the website listed after this or paste the address into your browser and it should take you right to my page there.
Thanks for reading, as always! Cindy

Monday, January 12, 2009

Time for bread and beading and a few other things. . .

Maya got a great cookbook from her grandparents in Baltimore, called Knead it, Punch it, Bake it! The Ultimate Breadmaking Book for Parents and Kids. Here's a link to it on, in case you are so taken with the idea that you'd like to purchase it for yourself: . I have made two things from it so far, neither of which with Maya unfortunately: the Focaccia, which was so easy and absolutely delicious--doubled the recipe and made one traditional Italian Focaccia and one sprinkled with cinnamon sugar for dessert--yum! And then I have made the Challah twice now, and each time it has come out incredibly well. The picture above is of my first loaf, which is sprinkled with poppy seeds. We had the rest of that made up into French Toast this past weekend--there is nothing finer than french toast made with challah, let me tell you. . .

Another exciting thing that has been going on this week is that Maya used a gift certificate to Borders to buy a Klutz Beading Loom and Book. She is still working on her first bracelet, but doing a really good job:

It's called a bugle bracelet and once we figured out how to do it, she took over and did it all! I'm so proud of her and can't wait to see her finish it.

And one final picture--a strange-looking panorama, admittedly, but it shows how maya and I cleaned and reorganized her bedroom last week:
She has a cushy butterfly chair underneath with her bookcases and goldfish tank so she can sit in cozy comfort and read all by herself and her desk is now out from under the bed and easy to access and comfortable for her to sit at and draw or in the future, do homework.

Finally, I have been trying to sell my camera, a Pentax K10D dSLR and having little luck, probably due to the economy. If you happen to know anyone who is interested in a great dSLR with the 18-55mm lens, the original battery charger, battery, manual and a 2GB Extreme III SD memory card to start taking pictures with right away, I am your go-to girl! I am trying to get somewhere between $425 and $450.00 for all that stuff. Wish me luck!

Just a little update for you all. Thanks for looking! Cindy

Friday, January 9, 2009

Lovely Lane Methodist Church Panoramas

I put in a small teaser picture of this pano in my last post, and here is the finished panorama. It took 54 images (about 13 across and stacked three levels high.) Unfortunately, as you'll see in the thumbnail below the first one includes the entire panorama, there are slight stitching errors all along the balcony I was standing on to take the pictures. So I had to crop the bottom off to make it "perfect."
If you click on it, it will take you to a much larger, more viewable version.

Here is the link for the larger version on my smugmug site so you can see the entire thing, stitching errors and all:

You can see Lovely Lane's website here: . They are located at 2200 St. Paul Street in Baltimore--what a incredibly beautiful church it is and there is a smaller chapel with an equally interesting look behind it that hasn't been restored yet. I was told that many people come to photograph the church and I'm sure you can see why.

The painted sky ceiling is absolutely jaw-dropping, much more awe-inspiring in person, I can tell you. And sound carries amazingly well in the church. There is a waiting hush when you're in there that makes you reluctant to speak above a whisper. When I was setting up my tripod, I could hear the clicks echo back to me crisply each time. Hope you like the panoramas. I'd love to hear what you think!

Thanks for looking, Cindy

Saturday, January 3, 2009

A Visit to Baltimore, Maryland

We visited my in-laws in Baltimore last week and my mother-in-law was kind enough (as always!) to take me downtown to do some photography of the unique architectural styles of the city. The first photo is called Rainbow Rowhouses. Rowhouses are common in Baltimore, ranging from the lowest of the low-priced type all the way up to fancy townhouses.
This is a Baltimore narrow house--it is literally about as wide as a very small living room (maybe 15 to 20 feet, I'd guess.)
For some reason, I neglected to find out what this store was, but I have a feeling it was a copy store--but I loved the whimsical nature of the architecture--it's like a copy palace!
Here is a 5 image panorama of the Baltimore Hard Rock Cafe on the inner harbor at night. My father-in-law once again was so nice to bring me down late at night after our family party was over and let me have some nighttime photographic fun! He suggested taking the Hard Rock Cafe pano, and I'm glad he did, because it shows a bit more of the inner harbor character.
This is a handheld panorama I took of the inner harbor after we spent a lovely afternoon going to the American Visionary Arts Museum and the Science Center. After that, my in-laws took us out to a delicious late lunch at a tapas place right on the water.
And here is almost the same view, taken by night! Looks a little different, doesn't it? You can see both of these panos, which look very small here, in their full sizes on my smugmug panoramas gallery. And finally, here's a little preview of a huge panorama I'm working on from a really amazing church on St. Paul Street in Baltimore called Lovely Lane. You'd never guess from looking at the outside that the entire domed ceiling is painted to look like the heavens, complete with stars and planets and celestial clouds!
Thanks for looking! Cheers, Cindy


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