Saturday, December 11, 2010


Christmas is such an event these days. It has become a retail orgasm of sales and shopping, so much so that I think people forget sometimes to slow down, look around, and enjoy what Christmas really is. Whatever your persuasion on the Christian center that is Christmas, I think it's not going out on a limb to say that family and family traditions surrounding the holiday is one of the most fulfilling aspects of the season.

For me and my brood (Kristin and my two boys), traditions spring up when we least expect it. This year, Ethan has been immensely proud of his collection of 6 nutcracker ornaments (ironic since he's deathly allergic to tree nuts!). Every night he makes sure they are perched dutifully, protecting the base of his bedside lamp. When I mentioned that Grandpa has a fantastic collection of nutcrackers and that he might let Ethan borrow one, he was ecstatic. He went further and said that maybe Grampa would like to borrow one of his. A phone call later and tradition was born.

This is a picture of Grandpa's nutcracker. Ethan helped me set it up and I did my best not to appear in the shot. The ornament has the inscription "Friend to Friend." It was just too perfect. I used a long telephoto and a second tree to help obscure my presence. I was thwarted by my lack of tripod. I made due but I simply must get a new tripod. It's time. I got a shot I can live with, but I really want another go at it.

Canon 30D
Canon EF 75-300mm f4-5.6 (pretty crappy lens really)
Shutter Spread 1/15
Aperture 5.0
ISO 400
Christmas Lighting only

So what traditions do you have that might be unique or surprising? I'd love to hear about them! Stay tuned for our guest photographer Myndi, the winner of the most recent WW challenge. Be safe this season and be sure to take the time to enjoy your traditions.

Basking in family tradition,


Friday, December 10, 2010

Faces Friday with Jay'me

no flash
ISO 400

I love killing two birds with one stone. I know not the Christmas passage you think should accompany this shot right? Well I didn't kill any birds at all. I was going to get our next photo for our new 2010 ornament and Christmas Cards AND new photo for Faces Friday (are you counting 3 also) Well, sometimes mama bears let their cubs sled too long and they get too tired and cranky to be good little models.

So I was setting up the tripod while they were moaning and groaning and I said "Forget it guys, We'll do it tomorrow!" They thought I was sick or something. But happy to not have to dress up in their Sunday finest and take direction for the next half hour or so.
There was the shot staring right at me. I give you a photo of the last two years past. It's a tradition I've started and think everyone with kids (or pets) should try. The kids LOVE them and so do I.
So you may be thinking that's not Mr Duck Taped Cannon elph, nor is that her iphone 3, You're right that's my old Cannon EOS Rebel XT with a new battery and and same old broken lens. She kicks butt comparing to my other options, but she does need to be moving along. So all of you good kids, not on the naughty list, tell Santa that Jay'me would really love an upgrade...

This photo is straight off my camera. I used a tripod. yes that's broken too. Trooper Jay'me wraps her camera strap tight to stabilize it, because the screw is missing. I worked in manual and turned off the flash. Manual focus allowed me to focus on the color ornament in the center and deeper in the tree.
I hope you all enjoy!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Frosty the Snowman

Brandi has been playing around with different perspectives. Scott has been using HDR and both have been getting some great shots. Poor Jay'me has been having some technical difficulties and doing a great job working with what she has. My latest photography obsession has been getting those awesome warm, glowy, Christmas lights as a background. I have spent the last few nights practicing, messing around with all my settings to get this right. It is probably because the Christmas season is in full swing. We, down in the central part of the state have no snow (all you northerners are stealing it from us) to use for my Christmas portraits, so lights it is. I actually love Christmas lights, they are one of the absolute best parts about Christmas but I have always had a hard time getting them right. So while this shot is far from exactly where I want to be, considering where I was at (read, I shudder at looking at my Christmas light picture archives) I was pretty pleased with what I got.

Nikon D2X
ISO 400
Lens My Nifty Fifty again (love this lens!!!)
Aperture - F/2.8
Shutter Speed - 1 sec.
No Flash

All I did to the picture was give it a touch of fill light in Lightroom. Mr. Snowman was an absolutely perfect subject. He never argued or gave me a goofy, unnatural smile and he always sat exactly where I wanted him to sit. I had a lot of fun practicing on him. My connection to Brandi's picture is tenuous at best. If you look at her shot you can see some holiday lights and decorations set up around the storefront, that's what I used as my connection. Sorry but it is the Christmas/holiday season and I had to jump on anything I could :).

The key to getting nice Christmas lights is to have a really, slow shutter speed, so use a tri-pod or something to help you stay steady, and as low(wide open) an aperture as you can get to get that nice blur look. Also your subject should be not too close to the lights themselves. Mr. Snowman here was a few feet away in reality, and do not, I repeat do not, use a flash unless you absolutely must. Here is an article worth reading about to help you with those holiday light pictures.

Now settle yourself down with the lights off and your holiday lights on, grab yourself a cup of hot chocolate or coffee or whatever floats your boat, and join me in enjoying this most beautiful part of the holiday season.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Another revised wordless Wednesday

Thanks to everyone for hanging in there while we figure out how best to make Wordless Wednesday work. I'm (Brandi) going to go a little astray today and revamp the way WW is going to work moving forward. I hope my partners in crime don't mind as I'm making these changes without consultation.
Life is nothing if not an evolution. So here's the last (and God willing final) way we're working WW.

The poster (that's me) will post a photo and it's settings. No other verbiage is allowed. The commenter's (that's you) will guess in the comments section below what ties Tuesdays photo to Wednesdays photo. It can be a setting. It can be a play on words. It can be a theme. It can be anything. In almost every photo there are numerous ties thus creating no right or wrong answer. Just simply make a comment below and you'll be entered into our drawing to be our next guest photographer.

What happens when I'm a guest photographer?
Good question. Guest photographers typically post on Sunday (that can be amended if needed). All you have to do as a guest is email us a photo sometime before 10pm on your post day. The photo has to be yours, it has to tie into the photo before it and we (3C1D) has to be given authorization to use your photo. That's it.

Why would I want to be a guest photographer?
Another grand question. Guest photographers get the creative challenge of working with other photographers to make their photo. Additionally, if you have a blog, website or such that you would like to "advertise" this is a good way to do that. We're happy to share a link to your space on the world wide web. But most importantly, you get to say that you were a photographer with 3C1D. It's a pretty prestigious title. *wink, wink*

But I'm not good enough!
You are good enough and gosh darn it people like you! We love photography of all kinds. Cell phone, point and shoot, high end professional grade. Anything goes around these parts. We believe that everyone out there has a viewpoint and we want to see it.

When will I know if I've won?
The contest will go on until the poster (that's me) announces the winner on his or her next post day. So if all things go according to plan I will announce today's winner on Monday. (Should there not be a guest photographer to post on Sunday I would then announce the winner on Sunday.) The poster (that's me) will then share the story behind that shot as well as their photo for that day.

How is the winner chosen? Are you guys playing favorites?
No favoritism here. will be used to generate the winner. Everyone that enters, regardless of what their guess is, has an equal chance of winning.

I want to be a photographer on your site but I don't ever win. What can I do?
Bribery kids. We all loved baked goods. I'm just sayin'.
Kidding aside, if you want a chance to come play along just send us an email and ask. We're happy to oblige.

Now, has that answered all the questions? I hope so. Be sure to ask if it does not.

Thanks for being such awesome readers. I speak for everyone when I say we're honored to be here doing what we love and sharing it with people around the world. We treasure every comment (nice or constructive) and want to hear more from all of you. Even you, sitting there in the bunny slippers.
Here's my photo for today. Look for the winner announce and story behind the photo on my next post day (Sunday or Monday).

Nikon D40 kit lens
shutter speed 1/1250
aperture f/3.5
ISO 400

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Where Do You Worship?

When I saw Jay'me's post I immediately thought of the tree huggers I know (full disclaimer - I'm a bit of a tree hugger but you wouldn't find me living in one trying to save an owl). Bio-diesel is indeed a fantastic alternative fuel - I should know, I am a commodity broker and have been talking about it for around 6 years now. And it's firmly entrenched in the debate over fossil fuels, drilling, e-cars, solar panels, windmills, and other alternatives. The passion surrounding how we meet our energy needs is incredibly strong and it got me thinking about other things in life that elicit similar passions. Coupled with Dan's great post on the parade he witnessed, I thought of church.

Canon 30d
Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6
Shutter 0.4, 1.6, 6
Aperture f/11.0
ISO 400

This is a church easily visible on Lake Cook Road. You'll see it on the south side of the street just west of Brinker, sitting atop a hill and poking the clouds with a magnificent steeple. At night the lights are fantastic. I've never been inside this church but I've often wished I could shoot a few pics in the evening. When I finally got a chance it was well past evening but the lights were still shining bright. It was meant to be!

When I stopped to get a few photos I originally thought I would have a good shot at the steeple and the overall lighting effects. Once I got close, I found the strong shadows and warm light really putting on a show with the textures in the brick and stone. You know me, a total sucker for close-ups. I ended up bracketing the exposure hoping to try HDR. I actually started with just 1 RAW file and thought I had a good shot. But I ran the HDR software on 3 RAW files and the results were just 10 times better. The shadows in particular were suddenly visible and became integral to the mood of the whole shot. I feel like I'm becoming a one trick pony but when it works, it works!

Like Jay'me before me, this is an archive shot (I took this in October). I've been looking for a chance to post but I never really got the chance. Today, I had the perfect opportunity.

So what's your passion? What finds your Nemo? What flies your flag? For me, there are many passions. But certainly one is photography and sharing it with the 3 chicks and our fabulous readers. Thanks as always for stopping by.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Unusual

Brandi again... sorry. Our poor Jay'me has a technology black cloud following her around. I received this a short time ago.

Alright we have no Internet. I thought for sure my darling husband would come home and fix EVERYTHING. Sob... it didn't happen.
I took this today thinking it was a welcome yet strange sight like the decked out Santa.
This is the first bio diesel I have seen and it's at a BP. It was a good .50 more expensive then reg gas.

iPhone 3
ISO 100

Good thing through the magic of cell phones I was able to get her picture.
Jay'me you are a SUPER TROOPER!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Another photo from the urban correspondant

Hey kids, Brandi here! BigDan won last weeks Wordless Wednesday and he'll be tonight's photographer.
BigDan first visited us here. He came back for more. Silly, silly boy.

Dan always says it best himself so I'll turn things over to him....

Sere's picture made me immediately think of finding a place where Kath and I could have 5, 10, maybe 15 dogs. We absolutely love them. Both of our dogs are special needs dogs and when we went on her web site and found out she had retired breeders, we almost called the realtor. But, as cute as the puppy is, I also thought Christmas.

After mass, I took a couple or twenty beautiful shots of the Nativity Window in our historical landmark Church. It was back lit by the morning light and the central birth scene is gloriously surrounded by hundreds of pieces of glass, all picking up bits of light. The window is two stories high and was originally made in the 1880s. It is truly irreplaceable. On the drive home, I was beginning to compose a paragraph about the progression of various ethnic groups that have made up the congregation in its 150 year history and how the art of the church reflects those changes when we were stopped at Western and Roosevelt by a couple of cops and and a private van blocking the intersection. We pulled into the White Castle parking lot, got out of the car and watched motorcycle after motorcycle after motorcycle parade by in their journey from 83rd Street to Belmont. I was shooting like mad, but pretty soon slowed down and started waving. Within minutes I had tears streaming down my face as Kath and I waved and they honked back. The sound was incredible, almost moving your soul... and then, every once in a while people would laugh as some scooter would putt by. It seems we had run into the annual Toys for Tots Motorcycle Parade.

I am a sucker for acts of kindness. Whether it is God's Son coming to us to teach us about Peace or several hundred motorcyclists riding down Western Avenue to bring toys for kids in need, to me, it is all Christmas.

Nikon D3000
VR 18-200 mm F/3.5-5.6
Focal Length 170 mm
ISO 400

Thank you Dan. Thank you for sharing your story. Thank you for being a wonderful, kind, human being. Thank you for hanging out with us here at 3C1D.
Go check out Dan's blog here. While you're there (or here if you like) wish Dan a Happy Birthday, for today is his special day.

Thanks again, Dan. Come back anytime, we love having you.