Macro Photography + Lens Review

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Hello, dears!

Well that was a rather unanticipated mini-hiatus, huh? I think this is the longest break from blogging I’ve taken in… I don’t know, a very long time. 😛 As usual, it was because of our agonizingly slow internet and hectic moving schedule. *sigh* Anyway, I won’t elaborate on my excuses anymore – must make the most of fast Wi-Fi while I have it! XD

Today I am excited to present a review of this Fotodiox Macro Extension Tube Kit, plus some close up pictures I got with it!

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I got the kit for Christmas but have only lately really learned how to use it. It definitely has its quirks and difficulties, but overall I LOVE it and I’ve had so much fun playing with it.

The kit comes with five pieces…

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only three of which are the actual extensions (the other two attach the extensions to the lens and camera body).

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The extensions are 28mm, 14 mm, and 7 mm: the higher the number, the more macro the photo will be. You can screw them on and off individually and in any combination. The pieces all seem very sturdy. It IS a little hard to screw the normal camera lens onto the respective attachment, but it works okay.

Here are some variations of… um macro-ness? XD

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The amazing thing about this kit is that it’s only $12.59 on Amazon! Isn’t that incredible? Considering how high lenses – or really anything DSLR related – usually cost, I think it’s a huge bargain.

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Now granted, it isn’t the easiest to use at first, as aforementioned, but once you get the hang of it it’s pretty fun.

For one thing, you have to use manual mode. This isn’t a problem for me because I always do anyway, but it’s something to consider.

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You also have to manually focus the lens, by which I mean move your camera back and forth until you get just the right distance away from it that the subject is (mostly) in focus. This makes it practically impossible to get a clear picture of a moving subject or an object that’s spiky or generally not very flat, like these:

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Not surprisingly, the longer your lens extends, the closer up it gets. Also basically the closer up you get, the harder it is to take pictures. Because besides the things I just said, one, it will require pretty bright light (or high ISO/low shutter speed) to compensate for the zoom; and two, it will have a TINY f-stop/aperture, which means the portion of the picture in sharp focus is very small, like the first picture below.

(By the way, this EXTREMELY WEIRD thing is called a cedar apple – and no, it’s not edible. XD You should look them up – they’re so strange!)

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You can see how much more subject area is in focus when you use a 14mm versus a 28mm:

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And I believe this is just with the 7mm, although I’m not entirely sure what extensions I used for any of these pictures because it’s rather hard to keep track of. XD

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I prefer to use something like the 7mm + 14 mm instead of all three together. Even the 7 mm by itself is a lot of fun, though it isn’t super macro. However, you can still get some super neat photos with the full extension, it’s just a bit harder to work with:

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One thing I love about these extensions is how soft and dreamy they make the lighting. ❤ They’re also super good for bokeh, although this specific picture isn’t a great example of that…

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The colors are also usually quite vibrant, as you can see here. I didn’t edit this at all!

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And there you have it! I hope you guys found the review helpful and interesting. 🙂 Before I go I wanted to show you a few more macro photos I’ve taken recently. Enjoy!

Weeds are great for macro photography because they look a lot prettier closer up. 😉

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I also love how the extensions work with water drops! (Well let’s be honest – I just love water drop photography in general. XD)

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Another photography subject I love is eyes. ❤ I tried to get some shots of my own eyes, but it was pretty hard to do as a selfie. :[] Oh well, I think the blurry ones still actually look pretty!

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Ahh, I really like this last one! Se the reflection of me holding the camera? It looks like my pupil is the lens. 😀

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OKAY OKAY I LOVE THESE NEXT ONES TOO EEP. I’ve always wanted to get a good picture of a cat’s eye, and I finally did! Ahh, the color and texture is just gorgeous. ❤

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Good thing Tom was sleepy or he would have moved around way too much. XD

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Hee hee, isn’t his nose cute?

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This is an ear, in case you were wondering. XD I actually like the softness of this picture too.

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I could go on, but this is a long post already, so we’ll stop here. XD *sigh* That was fun.

So tell me. Would you consider buying this extension kit? What was your favorite photo? Do you like taking close-ups, or do you prefer a different genre?

Thanks for reading, dears, and have a wonderful day! ❤

***Allison***

P. S. I was going to do photography tips in this post, but then I was like, “Clara has done such a good job saying what I would just repeat, so…” XD Click here to read a super helpful and beautiful post with lots of great photography tips! And follow her blog while you’re at it – IT’S ABSOLUTELY WONDERMOUS. ❤ 😉

If you DO happen to have any photography questions left over afterwards, by all means please let me know in the comments and I will do my best to answer them, perhaps in a later post. 🙂

I Got a New Camera Lens! {+Photo Dump}

Hmm, I’ve made better titles. *Wince* You know you’re a photographer when you’re that excited over a new camera lens. XD BUT SERIOUSLY! I AM EXCITED!

I just ordered a new lens for my camera, and I am loving it! It’s a Nikkor 50 mm f/1.8 lens (see it here on Amazon), in case you were wondering. 🙂 *Update: Whoops, I accidentally said “zoom lens” at first, but I don’t think it’s actually a zoom lens. O.o*  I love all the beautiful blur and bokeh it makes in the background with the subject in sharp focus. The one thing I don’t like is that I can’t get super close-up pictures unless I crop them smaller. But anyway, I’ll keep experimenting, and in the meantime, how would you like to see about a million or so pictures? Okay, maybe closer to a thousand, but still. 😉 😛

First I want to show you the difference between my old lens and my new lens. The next (awful) picture was taken with my old lens at ISO 800.

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TERRIBLE! But the next picture was taken with my new lens at ISO 800. It’s so much brighter because it goes down to an aperture of 1.8 instead of 4 something, which means it lets in a ton more light and thus makes the entire picture brighter. Ta-daa! (Okay, I know it still isn’t a beautiful picture, but my youngest brother kindly brought the iris in for me to take pictures of with my new lens and I decided to experiment. 🙂 ) So in conclusion, this new lens is way better for indoor photography and other low-light situations.

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Now for the actually pretty pictures. 🙂 Get ready for lots of raindrops, snails, and flowers!

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I had to up the ISO quite a bit here so it’s kind of grainy, but I still like it. 🙂

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Ohhhh this next one is one of my favorites!

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As you can see, it was getting pretty dark when I took this picture. I think it looks kind of neat that way though!

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I got quite a few pictures of this cute little snail meandering over a bush. 🙂

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AWWWWW he’s so cute! 😀

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↓This poor guy’s shell looks a bit shattered.

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The next two photos are a little different. For the first one I shined (or is it shone?) a flashlight close to the drops, and for the second one I used flash. *GASP*, she used flash?! I know it does look a bit flash-y, but I thought it was worth it to capture the neat glittery effect.

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Moss pink are such adorable, bright flowers!

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Yep, it’s a fly. 🙂

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Lily of the Valley flowers are such charming little things, but goodness gracious, their perfume is so strong it nearly knocks you over! (Ha ha, I guess it can be that way with humans too. XD )

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I really like the next picture for some reason. It’s so crisp in the foreground and beautifully blurred in the background.

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Ahh, so pretty!

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I love this next picture! The blur makes it look so much more professional! 😀

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Taking pictures of clouds and landscapes isn’t really what this lens is made for (you can’t zoom out far enough), but I did get a decent picture of part of a cloud.

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PHEW! Are you still here? If you are, congratulations on making it through all those pictures. XD I hope you liked them!

Do you think snails are cute? Do you love raindrops on things as much as I do?

Have a lovely day, dear readers!

***Allison***

A Little Winter Walk

Winter is so drab and gray and cold that it’s a challenge sometimes to find good photo opportunities. But there is ALWAYS something to take a picture of, no matter where you are. It’s a lot of fun to go out on a “treasure hunt” of sorts with your camera and see what you can find outside: blades of grass, raindrops, berries – even dead leaves or thorns can make interesting pictures!

When you look through the lens of a camera, anything is beautiful. ♥

So anyway, that’s what I did. A few days ago I was feeding the bunnies after a rain, and I noticed the raindrops all over everything… so out popped my camera! XD By now a lot of you know how much I love dewdrops and raindrops. They’re so perfectly beautiful, how can I resist? 😀

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I must have had my camera set on slow shutter speed – you can see the rain in the background!

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Isn’t this pretty? It’s almost abstract. (It’s willow branches, in case you were wondering. ;))

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I love this photo! I didn’t edit it, even though it looks that way. I found out that when I adjust my camera’s settings to faster shutter speed, lower ISO, higher f-stop, or a combination, the picture gets darker. I still have so much to learn about my dSLR, but I’m getting there!

 

I also took some pictures the other day when we went for a nature walk. At first it seemed like there was nothing interesting around, but what did I tell you? There’s always something! 😀 (By the way, I did a similar photoshoot/”treasure hunt” thingy here.)

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See what I mean about thorns making an interesting picture? 😉
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I don’t know what this plant is called, but it’s so FLUFFY!

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Ahh, I love these reflection pictures! It reminds me of a double-exposure.

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I really, really like this one too. My friend gave me the idea when she took a picture of her little sister holding an acorn cap with water in it. ♥ the reflections.

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Ivy is so pretty, don’t you think? (As long as it’s not poison ivy. XD But actually poison ivy can be pretty too…)

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I have no clue what these berries are except pretty. XD

 

What do you guys like to take pictures of in the winter? (Well besides snow. Ooh, which reminds me – it’s supposed to snow a tiny bit here tomorrow!)

What was your favorite picture?

Have a warm and cozy day! ♥

***Allison***

Chasing Sunsets

Yep, yet another sunset post. XD Heh heh, I seem to have a slight obsession with sunset pictures… but that’s all good, right? Most of you don’t seem to mind my habit, which is quite good of you. Thanks. I couldn’t show you pictures of sunsets without you. XD  😉

Ahem. Let’s proceed.

I’m going to save the best for last, but that doesn’t mean this one isn’t beautiful! I loved how crystal clear this sunset was.

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Ooh, can you spot the lone star? This is practically the only time a star has shown up on one of my photos. 😉

 

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Okay, now for the other one. I probably say this in every sunset post, but this truly was one of the most gorgeous sunsets I’ve ever seen! It was certainly one of the most vibrant – maybe THE most vibrant I’ve ever seen. I wish you could have seen it too… It was way more beautiful than this, but these pictures should give you some idea.

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Ugh, I haven’t figured out quite how to take good sunset pictures with my new dSLR yet, and thus a bunch of these pictures were taken with my old camera. (Although this one was taken with my dSLR and edited to help the graininess – at least a tad.) Any tips would be welcome! 😀

 

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I love this one so much! If you’re wondering what that blurry reflection is, it’s actually the roof of my car! I think it turned out pretty neat. 🙂
Wasn’t that altogether wonderful? *Happy sigh* When I saw the edge of the sunset from the kitchen window, I was out the door in about 10 seconds flat. XD It was truly breathtaking. Megan and I like to go up to a certain spot over the hill to photograph sunsets without the distracting powerlines, so we hopped in my little car and raced the sunset. It’s pretty exciting, sunset chasing is, because you have just a few short minutes to capture that beautiful, glorious bit of sky with your camera before it fades forever. Invariably the sunset vanishes all too soon, the way a rainbow does, but I just smile because I can see it again whenever I want to. ♥

That’s what I love about photography: it allows you to save one scene, one little piece of life, and to keep it as long as you want. It allows you to capture joy and sadness and thousands of memories and hold them forever.

What’s your favorite thing about photography? Do you like sunsets? (If you don’t, you have a problem. XD )

***Allison***

10+ Creative Gift Ideas for Girls

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Halloo, everyone! 😀

Since the holiday season coming up (SO SOON, right?!), I decided to make a gift guide, just for fun. 🙂 I wanted this to be more of a creative, unique gift guide, not just your ordinary bath bombs and bracelets, you know? I organized each section into related gifts – so you can give a book lover the whole package or just pick a few things. Also, you can click on each picture to go to its listing for more information. Are you ready?

Bath & Beauty

A pretty bar of soap is nice, but not very unique, right? Enter Soap Rocks! These beautiful gem-like soaps would make a great small gift or stocking-stuffer.

Soap Rocks Black Opal

This is not your run-of-the-mill necklace: how cute is the real-live succulent pendant? Yep, there’s an actual plant growing in there!

Little Gemstone Live Terrarium Necklace / Nature Jewelry / Girlfriend Gift / Succulent Plant

Clinging earrings are so fun – and adorable too! You can also break out the polymer clay and DIY them if you want.

Cute Siamese Clinging Earrings

Books

Instead of just giving them a book, get creative and pair the book(s) on their wishlist with these fun add-ons:

A funny-but-true “Book Dragon” mug + their favorite hot drink (a package of coffee, a sampler of tea, or a hot chocolate mix)

Book Lover Mug \ Mugs With Quotes by Vitazi Kitchenware, 11 oz Ceramic Coffee Mug - I Am a Book Dragon Not a Worm - Bookworm Gift (Black)

And a super-fuzzy blanket for maximum coziness while reading.

Floral Embossed Sherpa Throw Blanket 50" x 60" Reversible Textured Fuzzy Soft Purple

If they love books but don’t know what to read next, here are a few suggestions: (search for them on Amazon)

  • The Mysterious Benedict Society Series by Trenton Lee Stewart – one of my favorite series! Four kids embark on a mysterious mission to save the world that involves tricky riddles, quirky characters, and lots of suspense! (That was a lousy summary – trust me, you just need to read the books. XD )
  • Keeper of the Lost Cities Series by Shannon Messenger – now I have to say that so far I’ve only read the first book, but I really enjoyed it! At the age of five Sophie Foster discovers she can hear other people’s thoughts, and she has no idea why. One day she meets a boy who explains everything – and from then on Sophie’s life is turned upside down. She uncovers bits of her surprising past and works hard to save the future while struggling to keep up in a world that is in many ways the opposite of her own – a land populated with elves, where magic is as real as the danger that threatens them all.
  • The Green Ember by S. D. Smith – I’ve heard great things about this book, and I really want to read it! I haven’t read it yet, so I don’t know in depth what it’s about (other than rabbits and adventure), but the Amazon listing and reviews should give you an idea. 😉

Photography

Camera strap scarves come in myriads of designs. Shop around for one that fits her style!

Or you could buy an actual camera! Isn’t this little guy a cutie? Just a note: make sure to add some compatible film to your gift so she can actually use it. 😉

Check out these cute photography tote bags to hold all the photo goodies! (There are a bunch of other designs on this site as well.)

Vintage Camera Set Tote Bag

Crafts

The listing says this sweet little sheep is a great needle felting kit for beginners. Is she not the cutest thing? ♥ I just want to squeeze her!

Sheep Felting Kit - Needle Felting Kit - DIY Kit - Craft Kit - Felting Supplies - DIY Craft Kit - Starter Kit - Needle Felted – Beginner

I absolutely love creating fairy gardens! There are so many great kits to choose from, but here is just one cute one I found. It’s also a lot of fun to put together your own fairy garden kit – craft stores such as Hobby Lobby and Michaels have adorable miniatures, dried moss, and pretty containers to pick out.

Fairy Garden, Fairy Garden Kit, Fairy Garden Accessories, Fairy, Fairy Garden Door, Fairy Garden Birthday Party, Fairy Garden DIY, Planter

Art

This book is filled with super creative (and often hilarious) art prompts that will get you moving as well as drawing! There is tons of inspiration on Pinterest for this type of journal as well.

Coloring books are all the rage, and why not? It’s both relaxing and satisfying to work on. But chances are, if she likes coloring, she already has an adult coloring book (or two or three), so a coloring calendar is a fun alternate option. She can create art throughout the year while making something beautiful to hang on her wall.

Writing

This writing journal is great for busting that writer’s block. It’s chock full of creative writing prompts, from funny to thought-provoking.

Pair the writing prompt journal with these amazing erasable gel pens! Yep, you can actually erase the pen marks!

That was a lot of fun to put together, and I hope it gave you some ideas! Which of these things do you like the most?

***Allison***

P. S. As you’ve probably noticed by now, I changed my blog design! I got a new theme and drew the new header. Do you like it? I have plans for the sidebar and pages as well. 😀

Black Friday Surprises!

Guys, (or rather girls) I super excited to show you the things I bought for Black Friday! We went shopping late Thursday night and a little bit on Black Friday too. Did you go Black Friday shopping? Anyway, let me show you my goodies. 🙂

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A cute backpack, a beautiful ESV Study Bible, and… (wait for it) a new camera! 😀 😀 😀 Woohoo!

The backpack: My old backpack has seen its better days, so I was really happy to find this pretty one at JCPenny. (And if you’re wondering why I need a backpack when I’m homeschooled – I use it to hold my co-op things. 😉 )

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Yuck. Not a very good picture.

 

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The Bible: Family Christian Bookstores had a 50% discount off of the whole line of ESV Study Bibles! My old Bible barely had any notes, so I really wanted a Study Bible. And I love this one! It’s beautiful and has lots of footnotes and cross-references and even a few illustrations. (Why why why didn’t I get any pictures of the inside? *facepalm*)

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The cover is imprinted with swirly ivy designs that were quite fun to photograph…

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And the camera! I’m really excited because it’s my first dSLR camera. 😀 It’s a Nikon d3400, and it came with two lenses – a standard lens and a zoom lens (I think). I might do a review of it later, but for now I’m still learning how to use it. 😉 There are several things I miss about my old camera (mostly ease-of-use), but I do like how this one has manual aperture and shutter speed options! I can’t wait to take some softened photos of a waterfall.

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For the rest of the post I’m going to dump heaps and heaps of experimental photos on you, so take a deep breath and do some scrolling-finger exercises before we begin. XD

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Aww, Casey kitty!
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WILLOW FLUFFBALL!
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Oh my goodness this might be one of the cutest pictures I’ve ever taken of Willow. XD

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Can you see the improvement on photo quality here versus my last camera? (Snickers does not look impressed with my new equipment, but he DOES look cute. XD)
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I don’t know if it was the camera or what, but Lily was super scared when I took this picture. She was racing around like crazy!

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I love the blurred background and bokeh here! My new camera is good at that.

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Random chicken. XD (I think I was experimenting with aperture.)
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This photo looks dSLR-ish, doesn’t it? I love how the top is in focus and the bottom is blurred. That’s my favorite. 😀 *Happy sigh*
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Funny Fact: Casey loves this plant. As in, she loves to eat it. XD

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I got a few decent photos in the dark. (And heh heh, I kind of stole this photography idea from my sister who did a beautiful post about it here: https://abarefootgal.wordpress.com/2016/11/27/christmas-light-photography/

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We’re revamping our Schoolroom. This is the Nature Shelf, and more specifically, this is a duck egg in an I-don’t-know-what-kind-of-nest.
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The classic camera-with-its-human picture. XD

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When I turned on the flash it made these little rainbow-y circles appear.
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I really like how these drippy photos turned out. 🙂

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For some reason, I kinda like this one too. I guess it’s the reflection on the stone or something?

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BOKEH!

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In case you haven’t noticed, I l♥ve waterdrops.
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SUPER CREEPY PHOTO OF OLAF ALERT! She has some serious red eye (perhaps because her eyes are already pinkish-red XD). Yikes. That really is quite creepy. XD

 

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Aww, Liliputian again! I’m pretty pleased that this photo turned out pretty well even though I used flash. My old camera did’t take very good pictures with flash.

Oh my. That was a LOT of photos, wasn’t it? Yikes. Hee hee, I hope you enjoyed this post in spite of (or because of) that!

***Allison***

P. S. I always think of so many things to write for P. S.’s, but when it comes time to actually write them I can never remember what I was thinking… 😦 XD

Bird Jamboree

Ta-daa! The birdies post, as promised. 🙂

Spring is on the way here! You can hear birds twittering and singing around you which feels ever so much springier. (The first three pictures were taken at my grandparents house.)

 

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Tufted Titmouse
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Cute lil’ chickadee
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And the same… 🙂
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This is a sneak peek from a future post. 😉
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I saw this duck pair at a park.
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Lift off!

 

Okay. None of these last pictures are beautiful pictures, but I took them so that you can see how good my camera’s zoom is. The first picture was taken all the way zoomed out, and the last was zoomed in really far (but not quite as far as it can go) and then cropped. Both images were taken from the same exact place. You can’t even see the morning dove at all in the top picture! The second picture shows where the mourning dove is. (At least I’m pretty sure that’s what that miniscule, bird-shaped speck was when I zoomed it up on PicMonkey!) And the third (super blurry because I cropped it so much) picture shows you again.

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Isn’t that simply AMAZING? I can hardly believe it myself, even though I took the picture!

Which picture was your favorite? Have a springy day!

***Allison***