Happy Halloween




How I Did It On My Own Damn Camera: Aperture

For those of you who haven’t caught on yet, this is part 3 in my efforts to follow along with Darcy’s photography clinic over at my3boybarians.com. The twist I’m putting on it is focusing specifically on how I did the assignment on my “new-ish” Nikon D5000.

Today’s assignment was aperture. If you haven’t learned about aperture or still aren’t quite sure how it works please go over to her blog and read her explanation – it’s great.

So for this one I camera selection mode dial was set to “A”. You could technically go with the M mode like we did for Shutter Speed and use the combo of the Aperture control button and the Command Dial but I decided to stick with the A mode and let the camera adjust the shutter speed as I went.


When you’re in the A mode the command dial changes the aperture and it’s displayed on the information screen both numerically and with that great little graphic.

One of the things that makes aperture hard to remember how to adjust is the numbers work in the opposite direction than you think they should. Kind of like steering a boat using a rudder, you move left to turn right. Well with aperture you have that whole the lower the number the bigger the opening thing going… which frankly I have trouble keeping straight.

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That’s where the D5000 circle information graphic comes in handy again. You can see the animation of the aperture getting bigger (wider) or smaller as you turn the dial. The bigger the opening, the shallower the depth of field aka fuzzy stuff (bokeh but who really wants to say that right?). Big opening = Fuzzy Background. That’s what you have to remember.

So I used my favorite Halloween Decorations as my subject today.

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At f5.6 you can see the orange candle holder is slightly blurry and there is plenty of blur on the chair behind. At double that (f10.0) the candle has come into focus more but the chair is still a bit fuzzy. By the time I got to f32.0 the whole picture was in focus.

Here’s a larger version of #1


Of all the settings I probably play with aperture the most. I love the fuzz. Flower fuzz is probably one of my favorites.


I’m a Big Girl Now: The Softball Addition including Helmet Bling

After 4 years of being hauled all over town to ball parks and being made to sit and entertain herself while ignoring her sister’s countless softball games, Fuzzy Head finally had her day yesterday.

Clearly she wasn’t ignore everything ‘cause check out that batting stance! She hit off the pitch two of her three at bats. (meaning she only had to go to the tee once for those of you not in the softball know) Which is awesome for your first game ever! She even made one of the few none force outs by fielding the ball and tagging the runner while playing 2nd base. Is it too early to call her a natural? Ya think?


Couple of things she would have you know…

She has invented what will here-to-fore be known as Helmet Bling. Leave it to Fuzzy Head to find a way to make the game her own. Rhinestones and Glitter Letters became an immediate rage with the t-ball set … I’m wondering if we can get Hobby Lobby to sponsor the team! LOL


How I did it with my own damn camera: ISO

Just a reminder: I’m working my way through the 31 Days To A Better Photo clinic over at my3boybarians.com but focusing (get it, focusing, Ganuf) on how to do it specifically on the D5000. The camera is “newish” to me, I’ve had it since January and my an amazing new  18-200mm VRII  lens to use as my primary lens. So my goal is to get to know my camera better and get used to this new lens.

So 4 was ISO. ISO happens to be the one thing I ever learned to play with on my old D50. In searching for a way to improve my daughter’s indoor basketball photos I stumbled across ISO and learned that make some quick adjustments on the fly did a lot for those pictures. If you don’t understand ISO or want to learn more please visit Darcy’s blog and read the ISO Entry then come back here and I’ll talk about how I worked her clinic on my camera.

On the D50 it was easy to quickly adjust by pushing a button next to the display and turning the command dial so of course when I got my D5000 tried the same thing. No go. That button combo didn’t do the same thing. It didn’t work the same way and I could not find a similar substitution.

Adjusting the ISO on the D5000 involved firing up the information panel. Navigating around the screen, going into a menu and then choosing a setting. What a pain, so I left it on “Auto” mode and let the camera choose it’s ISO setting from then on.

Until yesterday.

Knowing I was going to write this and not wanting to look like fool I went back to the manual (the PDF version) and searched the term ISO. By doing this I found ALL the places that ISO was discussed in the manual not just the one I read before I got bored and wanted to go take pictures.

IMG_0211 What I learned was that I could program the FN button on the front/side to work the same way as the old method on the D50. By default it’s the timer button and I think in reading the paper manual the first thing I came across that it could be switched to was burst mode adjustments and I did that.

So the first take away here for me was – search the PDF version of your manual when you want to look a particular topic. It’s a quick and less painful way to isolate your particular subject. If you want to know more about what the FN button can be programmed for look at page 163 in the manual.

10-6-2010 8-43-05 AMBefore I go any further I will mention that the menu system for adjusting the ISO on the D5000 is really nice though if you have the time and energy to navigate to it. It on that left column in the information menu.

Once in the ISO menu it’s self you can scroll up and down the various speeds and there will be a little pictures displaying the kinds of subjects that work well at that speed. For example at 300 there is a picture of a guy on a jet ski but on 1600 the picture is of someone playing a piano in a concert hall. The ISO range is 200 to 3200 but there are some Lo and Hi setting that simulate as low as 160 and as high as 6400.

Okay so are you bored to death yet?

I was, so me and my newly reprogrammed FN button went back outside to the fountain. I started at 200 and doubled up each time until I reached 3200. Then for fun I tried the Hi2 which simulated 4000. Spun the cameral to auto and let it have it’s way, it chose 320.

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The one at 1000 turned out to be my favorite


How I did it on own my damn camera: Shutter Speed

Today I stumbled across a nifty little series over at Life With My 3 boybarians where she has a little topic running called 31 Days to a Better Photo.

I haven’t in the past been a big fan of these kind of posts  because while they can go on and on explaining Aperture and Exposure, they rarely show you how to deal with it on YOUR OWN camera. And let’s face it, if you can’t make it make sense on your camera, what good is it?  She goes ahead and owns up to this right there in Day 2 by saying… look you’re going to need to get out your manual and read the darn thing to do this. Then in her day-to-day posts she seems to be making an effort to include what she knows about various brands and their dials as it relates to her subject of the day, which is more than I’ve seen in most of these type posts.

I’m one of those people who loves a gadget so of course I’ve got way more camera than I know what to do with. I own a Nikon D5000 – just got it in January and before this I had the D50 for about 3 or 4 years. One of my struggles with the D50 was how little information there was out there in the internet on using it. Mostly I’ve just bumbled into everything I learned on it.  I take a lot of photos but I rarely know what I’m doing. Couple of years ago I learned to play with ISO on the D50 but I find on the D5000 it’s not as convenient to change, and inversely the PASM modes on the 5000 are much easier to understand so I’ve kind of let my ISO tinkering go.

Last week I splurged (actually I’ve been saving for months) and bought this lens (although I didn’t pay that much!) – she’s a beauty but she’s more lens that I’m used to and I need to really play with her to get accustomed to her as my primarily daily lens. So the thought has occurred to me to try Darcy’s daily photo clinics and show how it works specifically on the D5000 as a way of getting to know my lens and the results it’s going to give.

On Day 3 she talked about Shutter Speed – Her explanation is great, if you don’t understand Shutter Speed then go over to her blog and read what she wrote. There is no way I could have explained it any better. Come back when you’ve read it.

Okay, you’re back. Cool. So here’s how it works on the D5000.

First off – you’re going to think.. cool I just turn the dial to S Mode.


Well you can do that but what turning the dial to S Mode does is let you control the shutter speed while the camera adjusts the aperture to work with your selected shutter speed for the best overall exposure.  To truly control Shutter and Aperture separately you must use the M mode. This confused the heck out of me for the longest time on the D50 and even when I finally got it, the controls used to execute the manual changes required such finger contortions to do while looking at the view finder that I just ignored the idea. 

But back to the topic at hand. She wants us to lock in the Aperture and ISO and only play with Shutter Speed so to do that ya gotta go to M.

In M Mode the shutter is controlled simply with the Command Dial. Turning it alone in M Mode will change only the Shutter Speed. If you want to change the Aperture you hold down the +/- button and spin the command dial AT THE SAME TIME.


Since today we’re just adjusting Shutter Speed I’ll leave that at that.

The info panel in the back is the crown jewel of the D5000, it’s what opened up the idea of manual shooting for me mentally. Here it clearly has the speed displayed just like she describes in her post.

But if you’re like me and you forget what the numbers mean or how the abbreviated numbers are displayed, then do what I do and rely on the graphic image. That fun little circle thingy on the left. Yeap that one. The more dots around the outer rim of that circle (going clockwise from 6:00) the faster your shutter speed. Play with it and you’ll see the ring go around the circle and back as you turn the wheel right and left.

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Cool, so now you’ve got that. Settle in on a subject, start on one side of the ring and work your way back around to the other.

Since Darcy’s metaphor for Shutter Speed was water filling a glass I decided to take pictures of water running in my fountain outside. I sat down with the ISO locked at 200 and the Aperture at f/5.6  and used the only-somewhat-reliable  knee as tri-pod method take these shots.

Starting at 1/500 moved around by about half as much each time for instance #1 is 1/500 and #2 is 1/250 #3 is 1/125 all the way down to 1/6 where it started to get visibly blown out.

At the end I let the camera decide what it would do and spun the dial back over to Automatic and took the last shot. Personally I found it a little dark.

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I think #4 turned out as my favorite.



Tomorrow I’ll tackle her Day 4 assignment

Accelerated Reader is preventing my kid from loving books

Before my oldest started Kindergarten, I had never heard of Accelerated Reader. Three years later it is the bane of my existence.

For those of you who don’t know AR is a web-based program that consists of comprehension tests on children’s books. Our PTA sponsors the program for our school and our teachers abuse use it as a means of leveling and grading their reading ability. It is not a piece of sponsored curriculum from the school district but it is used in their daily work and grades. What it does is make reading compulsory. So many pages must be read each day and so many books each week. Then you take a test on each and every one.

Seriously how is that supposed to make reading fun? How is that supposed to foster a love of reading?

My daughter is not a natural readers. She reads “at grade level” but by “at” pretty much it’s the lowest acceptable level for her grade. She does not love to read, for her it is a necessary evil, homework, and as exciting as spelling words and multiplication tables. Actually she enjoys math and spelling more. She’s a bright kid and the only thing holding her back is the fact that she has come to loath reading and will only do exactly what is required no more.

I blame AR.

She is not allowed to follow her own heart at library time, she must pick an acceptable number of correctly leveled books to take tests on. For her reading has become one more chore she must do everyday.

This breaks my heart. I was not a social kid and reading was my escape. Ramona, Anne, and Laura were my friends. Admittedly I was the other extreme and I don’t want use books as an escape from the world around her like I did. I would love a happy medium.

There are so many great books for girls her age out there now. I want to get to know Clementine and Judy Moody, I want to know what happens to Humphrey. But I also want her to meet Boxcar children and Sheila The Great. I want her to want to know them.

Every night there is arm twisting and eye rolling and foot stomping and shoulder sagging and then there is reluctant compliance.. but there is no joy. For me or for her. She completely misses out on the joy of reading.

5 sentence summaries must be written nightly, 2-3 tests must be taken weekly

It is required, evaluated, judged and graded… but it is not fun.