Friday, March 24, 2017

Ten Simple Tips for Taking Great Photos

Over the years, as career, travel and family took precedence in my busy life,
 I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed photography.
But now that I have a blog, I've learned that good pictures are a crucial part of it
and the lure of capturing images that tell a story has been reawakened.


I'm always trying to improve my photography skills and
Ron, who was a professional photographer for many years,
even says my photos are good. And that's quite a compliment.


So, without getting into aperture settings and all that technical stuff,
I'd like to offer a few easy tips for taking good pictures.
All you need to do is take the time to notice details like lighting and composition,
and keep a simple digital camera handy. 
In fact, all of these pictures were taken with this camera that fits in my pocket. 



Here are my top ten tips:

1. Photograph outdoor scenes on an overcast day. 
Your garden may look beautiful in the bright sun but the camera sees the shade too and 
the picture will look splotchy. An overcast day will provide softer, more even light.


2. Pay attention to mirrors.
Tilt mirrors down a bit and make sure you don't see yourself in it or pick up a flash. 
Keep in mind the image you're reflecting in the mirror.


3. Take time to frame your shot. 
An object in the foreground will give the picture depth, scale and perspective.


4. Position your subject off center. 
The composition will look better and more natural.
Mix it up by taking some vertical shots as well as horizontal ones. 


5. Get close. 
Details are lost if you're too far away. Notice contrasting textures and shapes.


6. Look for interesting angles and how light hits your subject. 
This can make an ordinary picture dramatic like this shot of the Eiffel Tower at night. 


7. Keep it steady.
 If you have a shaky hand, take a deep breath, let it out, then click.


8. Look out!
Watch out for distractions (like this pole coming out of my head, overhead lines, trash, etc.). 
The camera will see them even if you don't notice.


9. Get up early or sneak out in late afternoon. 
When the sun is lower in the sky, it creates unusual shadows and picks up more details.


10. Tell a story. 
Make your photo personal and evocative.


And, most importantly, remember to always take your camera with you!
Have fun and good luck!

***

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Rustic & RefinedDwellingsBotanic BleuBetween Naps on the PorchCoastal Charm,
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Have a Daily Cup of Mrs. Olson21 Rosemary LanePeonies and Orange Blossoms,
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Friday, March 17, 2017

French Wine Crate Find

I would have missed this beautiful French wine crate at a recent estate sale
if Ron hadn't spotted it hiding in the corner of a dark basement laundry room. 
The wood looked old and, when I saw it was from France, 
I went a little crazy and plunked down $7 for it!


I love all old crates but this one had such a warm honey tone,
fancy writing, and even wooden slots for twelve bottles inside. 
It knew it was special but couldn't begin to guess just how special it was. 

When I took it home, I looked up Chateau la Fleur Petrus and found out
it was a fancy Bordeaux wine from a vineyard near Petrus on the famous Pomerol plateau. 
The estate's original French Country chateau was built in 1782 and 
the wine traces its history to the late 1800's. 

I thought the engraving on the front was gorgeous.


I think the little critter may be a wild boar's head???


If the 1962 date is the age of the crate, it's 55 years old,
thus the mellow aged look. 


We thought it might be fun to go to our favorite wine store and buy a bottle to display in the crate. 
Are you ready for a shocker?
A very knowledgeable man there told us they didn't carry this wine because 
it was usually only available at auction and went for between $220 and $3,500 a bottle!
He said people who bought it often rented an armored truck to have it delivered.
So, I guess we'll probably just put something else in the crate. 

(Internet photo)

I wasn't sure how I would style it so I began to layer things to create a pleasant design.
I started with some white flowers in a white vase for height
then added some teal-colored bottles and mason jars for sparkle.


We'd just trimmed the crabapple tree in our back yard so I snagged some branches 
and added them to the design to fill in the gaps.


My big white Limoges platter with pale blue flowers was the perfect backdrop
for the arrangement and the crate's bottle racks worked just like a plate rail. 


I don't claim to be a floral designer
but I think it makes a pretty Spring centerpiece.


I can just imagine this crate in the winter,
filled with big pine cones, some tall candles and a bottle of wine or 
stacked with old books, an ironstone pitcher and some vintage linens in the summer. 
Definitely, one of my favorite finds!

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Friday, March 10, 2017

Lighten Up for Spring

The first day of Spring is just around the corner and it's time to bring a fresh look to your home. 
The good news is you don't have to spend a lot of money to lighten things up. 
Just shop your house, move things around, bring the outdoors in, and celebrate the new season.

I like to use lots of white with red accents for Spring. 


Tucking a white matelasse coverlet over a brown sofa 
shows the living room in a whole new light. 



The guest room gets a fresh Spring look with cheery linens and piles of pillows.


In the sunroom, the farm table is all dressed up in red and white. 




I love a splash of red and white in the Spring kitchen.


I keep the foyer simple with some straw accents and a basket of dried larkspur.


I don't usually photograph the bedroom but it does look cozy in the soft morning light.


I moved my enamel pitcher and bowl to the space just outside of the bathroom
for a fresh French Country touch. 


So, what do you see in your decorating future for this Spring?


Wishing you a lovely Spring!

***

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Rustic & RefinedDwellingsBetween Naps on the PorchCoastal CharmCedar Hill Farmhouse,
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Friday, March 3, 2017

Window Shopping

In a hundred-year-old neighborhood, you never know what you're going to find 
-- or who's going to find you -- when you're out for a walk. 
Can you believe someone actually gave me this beautiful leaded glass window?


I'll tell you all about it but let me back up for a bit and tell you the whole story first.

It was a brilliant blue-sky kind of morning when Ron and I decided to take advantage of the sunny winter day and go for a walk in one of our favorite old neighborhoods. 
Roxy took off, pulling at the leash and investigating new smells, 
while we admired the gorgeous architecture of turn-of-the-century Denver.


There are so many beautiful homes in this lovely neighborhood, it's a real treat 
to simply go for a morning walk. We felt like we had stepped back in time and 
imagined horse-drawn carriages clip-clopping up and down these wide streets. 


We spotted an "Alamo" style house with some unusual stained-glass windows 
and stopped to take a closer look.


As we were pointing to the upper windows, an older man wearing a dark brown bathrobe
and holding a cup of coffee walked out onto the porch
We weren't quite sure what he would do or say as we stared at his home.

"We're just admiring your pretty windows," I said pleasantly, 
hoping he wasn't going to call the cops. 


That's when another man in a green bathrobe with coffee in hand joined him on the porch. 
We could see them talking quietly. Then Green Bathrobe said, "Do you like this sort of window?"

"Oh, yes!," I replied, "I just love them."
Most of the old Victorians in Denver have amazing stained-glass windows
like this unusual clover-shaped beauty just down the street. 


"Would you like to have one?"

Wait. What? Was he going to try to sell me something? 
I wondered if we had become so cynical from all the bad news on TV 
that we wrongly assumed the worst of people sometimes.
I didn't want to be that person. 
Still, I stalled to see what he he would say next.


Then Brown Bathrobe said they'd rescued this window from the old house 
next door when it was demolished. 
A blah three-story brick apartment building stood in its place which I found sad.
He told us the salvaged window had been sitting on their front porch for years.

Finally I got up the nerve to ask him, "So, are you giving it away?"

"Yeah," he said softly, then sipped his coffee. 


At this point, I didn't even know what it looked like 
but readily climbed their front steps to check it out. 
When he held it up, I gasped.
Victorian leaded glass!

One pane was cracked but all the pieces were there. 
Raggedy sash ropes hung from both sides and the frame was filthy.


But I knew it was coming home with me. 
"This is so nice of you," I said. "Thank you so much."

Once we got it home, Ron removed the rope and repaired the broken glass 
which had been hobbled together with textured vinyl tape.
He replaced the ugly tape with clear packaging tape and now
you have to look closely to notice the break.


Then I Zip-Stripped the glass which was clouded with white spray paint. 
The dirty frame just needed a bath. 
 Finally, it looked as beautiful as it must have one hundred years ago.


I found the perfect place for it leaning against the wall
on top of the guest room's old chest of drawers.


I still can't believe these perfect strangers gifted us with this wonderful piece of history. 
And now, every time I look at the window,
I remember those two sweet gentlemen in their bathrobes.


I think they'd be happy with their window's new home. Don't you?

***

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Thank you!

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Rustic & RefinedDwellingsBetween Naps on the PorchCoastal CharmBotanic Bleu,
Cedar Hill FarmhouseA Stroll Thru LifeSavvy Southern StyleA Delightsome Life,
Have a Daily Cup of Mrs. Olson21 Rosemary LanePeonies and Orange Blossoms,
Adirondack Girl at HeartCharm of HomeFrench Country Cottage

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Quiet Time - March 2017

Sending you a few quiet moments.


Majestic elk in the Rocky Mountains at dusk. 







"The earth has music for those who listen."  -- Unknown

Can you hear it?
Have a beautiful day,
Pat


Photos by Ron Boyd