photo 111: assignment 6, unusual angle

Photo 111: assignment 6, unusual angle

1) a birds nest in the top door of my mother’s barn.
didn’t that male bird make it fancy for the ladies? i wonder if he was successful or if they all avoided him for being odd. or if his special lady friend slapped him upside the head and said, “why don’t you just put an electric sign on it that says ‘hey cats! there are tasty baby birds right here!’”
2) from under one of my mother’s many bird feeder’s. the slinky is to keep the squirrels out, and it works!
3) a blue birdhouse my dad painted so many years ago, through a knothole in the barn loft. so many reminders of my dad all over the place
4) little hedgehog feet, next to a toaster
5) grumpy, grumpy hedgehog, next to a toaster

Though I’m not sure I was successful at this assignment, I enjoyed it. Changing your angle can turn a mediocre scene into something interesting. But as demonstrated above, finding the right angle takes practice. I’m still learning.

My son says the birdfeeder photo above is not an unusual angle, since we normally view a birdfeeder from below. He’s right. But still, a shot from directly underneath an active bird feeder is unusual. Especially in the winter when you have to lie very still, on a beach towel, in the snow for some time before the birds will come to the feeder.

For my assignment, I turned in the bottom photo of Dandelion, even though it was terrible. So much out of focus. My classmates loved it. Haha. My instructor didn’t. (I posted my daughter’s superior photos of Dandelion in a previous post, hedgehog: real talk, and taken with a small Canon pocket camera.)

High angles, low angles, framing photos through things like branches, are a good way to try out unusual angles.

Here are examples from some amazing pros:
Elliott Erwitt, such a classic, and his dog photos are funny

Arno Rafael Minkkinen, really interesting use of bodies

Vernon Merritt , great photos of 1969 NYC




photo 111: great depth of field

1) massimo vitali beach photo
2) helen levitt street photos (so love her photos)
3) john pfahl nature photos

I started writing about my photography class in past posts, and never finished, like so many projects in my life. Sigh. The class ended April. So I thought I would go back to those posts.

There were 12 assignments, I have written about 3 of them (I skipped assignment 3, panning motion, because my photos were so boring and terrible…):

photo 111: assignment 1, he is the eggman
photo 111: assignment 2, stop motion
photo 111: assignment 4, shallow depth of field, and not so shallow barbie

Great depth of field was not one of my favorite assignments, because it required photographing a scene with everything in the photo, from fore to rear, being in acceptable focus. I just couldn’t come up with a scene I liked…It was January in Michigan and everything was dull and grey. Plus, getting the light right was difficult. As I said, January, Michigan, and I didn’t have a tripod at the time.

I posted some of the photos I took for this assignment in one of my earliest posts, snow day. The photos above are much better examples. To be fair, these photographers have pretty amazing cameras and lenses…

When shooting for great depth of field, you need to use the smallest aperture (f-stop) your camera allows, usually f16 or f22. Small referring to opening in the lens, which is a greater number because it’s really a fraction 1/16 and 1/22. So f22 is a smaller aperture then f8. So confusing!

Since you’re using a small aperture, it’s best to photograph on a sunny day so you have enough light. You don’t want to use a shutter speed any slower than 1/60 because that will make your photo fuzzy, unless you use a tripod.

Or you can just point your iphone and click and be happy.

The only classmate photo for this assignment that I can remember was of a tree line across a field of snow. The trees were tall, slender and dark and in nice contrast to the white snow and light grey sky. At first, I thought it was a black and white photo, but no, January in Michigan.

discordant and antsy

July 21, 2013








1) size 11 watershoes left on the patio
2) the cottage, looking in from the front porch
3) the cottage, inside looking out onto the porch where the men are playing a game over breakfast
4) the cottage, doggy doorstop
5) a stealth photo of my son cuddling finny as we watch television in the basement
6) too many days of this weather
7) finnegan finally gets a properly-sized pool

This summer has felt…discordant…just off in some ways. Parenting teenagers has been tricky. Schedules are feeling like tectonic plates grinding against each other. My expectations for everything I will get done in the summer are always too high and unrealistic. In fact, it feels like I am able to get less done during the summer because schedules and needs are unpredictable. And I am antsy for a new direction, one that involves creativity.

Today I am home alone. My husband and daughter are up north at my husband’s family cottage. My son is working all day. So I will try to make progress on a long list of tasks.

Hope your summer is feeling more settled than mine and that you are not, like me, feeling a little panicky about August lurking around the corner…



I credit the British ready-to-wear brand Boden, with luring me out of the dark. Truly. I spent most of my adult life wearing mostly black, every day.

My sister was in the same rut. She realized it was a problem when she and her 2 year old daughter were lounging in their pajamas one morning until my sister finally said, “Time to get dressed!” and her daughter replied, “Yes, time to put on your black clothes, Mommy!”

Haha. Yes, my niece is brilliant. She doesn’t miss a thing.

Somehow I stumbled across Boden a few years ago and I’m hooked. Color, pattern, style, quality and detail. Sometimes items don’t work, no matter how badly I want them to, but return shipping is completely free, and there is great feedback from buyers to help you decide on a purchase and a fit before purchasing (something that, annoyingly, J. Crew does not provide on its web site).

I receive compliments on most every item of Boden clothing I wear. I am not exaggerating. I was once getting out of my car and a woman walking her dog yelled across the street to me, “I love your skirt!” Even something as simple as an emerald green cardigan gets compliments.

I always thank those giving the compliments and tell them about Boden. Few have heard of it. This is a fairly small town, but not THAT small…David Byrne was just in town performing for heaven’s sake. But it is not the most fashion conscious town, which I actually like. It gives a girl a lot of flexibility.

I shop for Boden online because I hate shopping in person, but I know Nordstrom’s carries Boden. I don’t know about any other US stores.

They also have the great kids clothes under the brand of mini boden.

Boden is pricey for my income…I’m putting a child through college and another one is soon to follow. But I do try to get a few items each season, which I wear over and over again. If you join their email list, you can get promotional pricing. I just bought two tops at 25% plus free shipping.

This is one of the tops. I love the color and pattern and neckline, but the fit was odd. And I’m not crazy about the fabric. Stiff, thin cotton. I’m returning it (for free) and trying it in a smaller size to see if it remedies the fit issue. I wish it was a knit fabric, but I just love the color so I’m willing to try again.

This top I am keeping. I love it for it’s cut and comfort and funky colors. I may get another in a different color.

I am now lusting over the Boden autumn collection and thinking perhaps college for my children is unnecessary…KIDDING!…mostly.

(Boden is NOT compensating me in any way for my praise—though I so wish they would…in clothing!)

Do you have brand that you love for style, quality, uniqueness? Please enlighten this small town girl!


July 10, 2013








1) walking to the parade we passed this kitty on 5th street. she is often there, ruling the street.
2 – 6) parade photos. i love the mom carrying her child, and her homemade sign of protest against corporations and i love the dads carrying the sweetest homemade sign, on a sheet.
i love homemade, and people who care, and people who get involved…even the beer-bellied tea party guy wearing cammo. my political antithesis. but he’s there. he’s involved. gotta have at least the tiniest amount of respect for that.
7) my new friend julien, the lost and found and returned dog

It has been many weeks since I have last blogged. I run summer programs through my job and during those weeks I often work 13 hour days, say hello to my family, go to bed and start again.

The more intense programs have finally ended and my summer has finally begun. Hooray!

I did not get enough evenings at the Ann Arbor Summer Festival, which takes place for 3 weeks every summer, beginning the night schools gets out. The Summer Festival includes hours and hours of outdoor live music and entertainment followed by either a DJ with people dancing in the street until midnight, or a movie on an inflatable screen. There are food stalls and beer and wine. Everyone is there.

I did manage to meet friends there a couple of times for drinks after work and my husband and I went to one of the ticked shows at the Power Center—Snap Judgement. Which is an amazing storytelling show on National Public Radio. (I make dinner while listening to the podcast.) The live performance was fantastic. Afterward we mulled around the Summer Festival and saw this attraction from Spain:

It was SO COOL. If I hadn’t been so tired, I would have stood in line to “fly” on our beautiful Burton bell tower.

We also attended the Ann Arbor July 4th parade. If you ever want to learn about a community’s values, attend their 4th of July parade. In Ann Arbor, this is not a fancy parade. In our town this is a very homey event—there is a place for everyone. This year was particularly entertaining.

There were the usual group: politicians, nursery schools, parents of multiples (a group for parents with twins, triplets etc. they are in the parade every year), the Ring of Steel stunt group (9 adults enacting scenes from Raiders of the Lost Ark. Every. Year.)

But this year there were roller derby girls, star wars characters, the ukulele club, a group of pugs (it was so hot I felt sorry for them), the 5 guys from the Tea Party, followed by a giant group supporting the ACLU…There’s a place for everyone here!

My daughter and our neighbor worked at the Summer Festival on the 4th, and I picked them up to drive them home just after midnight. When I pulled into our neighbor’s driveway, we saw a dog running down the street. He heard our voices and ran to us and jumped in the back of my car and laid down, tail thumping on the seat in appreciation. Poor guy. He must have been frightened by all of the fireworks and ran away from home.

That turned out to be a longer rescue mission than I had anticipated, as the owner was out of town with a dead cell phone (the phone number on the tag). Her 19 year old son was “taking care” of the dog. The dog spent the night in my bedroom. He was very nervous and so was I. He seemed like a sweet dog, but who knows…Finally made a hand off to the owner’s older son at 11am the next morning.

And now for some time at the lake and for the Ann Arbor Art Fair and the Townie party that proceeds it. A visit to my brother and his family in Virginia and a family trip in August– destination yet unknown! (and work, and housekeeping and yard work…)

I hope your summer has been full of good weather, friends and relaxation. If it hasn’t been, then hugs to you. Truly.