Friday, February 24, 2017

A Photography Lesson From Middle Son ~ Friday 2/24/17

It's a very drab day today at 7:38 a.m.  The sky is very overcast and the weather app says it's going to be "fair".  What does that mean?!  Well, there's no rain in the forecast, and I hope it's true because my new camera is "weather resistant" but not waterproof.  Also, it's "dust resistant". That's a thing?!  Can I have my whole house sprayed in whatever they used?!

I'm taking the camera for a spin this morning as I'm leaving in about an hour and a half to go meet Middle Son in East Orlando for a walk on the Little Econ Greenway. He wants to try out the camera to see if he wants to buy the same one, and also give me a photography lesson.

It's way brighter in the early mornings now so legally Youngest Son could be driving to school, but I'm not letting him yet. Maybe in the Fall.  This morning, the traffic approaching the school was pretty light and I didn't have to wait in line at all to leave the parking lot as no one was in front of me and there were no cars coming in.  I started to wonder if maybe another threat had been made that the administration didn't know about,  but then a slew of cars showed up behind a couple of school busses so I guess and hope not. It was just weird.

My SUV's electrical problem is worse when it rains, so this morning it was beeping almost non-stop. I don't know how we'll stand it when we use it to drive around the Northeast during our summer trip.  Arrgh.  I'm guessing there's a bad sensor somewhere or a stripped electrical wire... one solution offered online that didn't amount to much last year was cleaning the door latches (since it also prompts me to close the liftgate and trunk door, which are actually closed!), so I first used my hands and then got wise and grabbed an old towel to clean all the crud that had accumulated in the ledge at the top of the trunk door: tons of oak leaves, sand, water, etc. Then I dried off everything and also dried off the latches.  I hope this helps as it is an hour drive to East Orlando.

So I probably won't cross off much on my To Do List this morning.  I might take Middle Son to get some clothes too as his shoes are threadbare and his shorts have a rip in the crotch that can't be fixed.  At 21, it's time for him to be self-sufficient but he's finishing school and only working weekends with the occasional photo gig, his car just broke down, his camera equipment got stolen... Argh.

  • Give a driving lesson to my son with the stick shift this week Didn't happen :(
  • Cook, purée and freeze 1 pumpkin
  • Mop bathroom
  • Clean bathroom ceiling
  • Vacuum living room
  • Make my bed DONE
  • Turn bread heels into bread crumbs
  • Earn Microsoft Rewards credits DONE
  • Input weight into WHBRHC  DONE
  • Set 15 minute timer and try to accomplish as many chores as possible in that time  
  • Do the dishes by hand, drain/dry in the dishwasher (AFTER DINNER) DONE
  • Watch "Spy in the Wild"
  • Clean fridge - cleaned the bottom shelf, cleaned the "main" shelf
  • Sweep the downstairs bathroom
  • Vacuum the upstairs bedrooms
  • Make a dermatologist appointment for Youngest Son (after pediatrician apt)
  • Back up external drive to its own external drive!
  • Start a list of the electric outlets that I want to get replaced
  • Do my foot exercises 2X
  • Exercise at least 35 minutes on my bike  (weekdays only) Hiked with Middle Son
  • Finish moving/reinstalling missing software on new laptop 
  • Read one of the library books
  • Clean upstairs litter box  DONE
  • Add Osmocote plant food to rose and hibiscus bushes
  • Put away the clipped articles from Kiplinger's magazine 
  • Read new issue of Kiplinger's in progress
  • Wash kitchen windows
  • Vacuum the fridge's coils
  • Inventory the pantry
  • Inventory the freezers
  • Reorganize the gardening supplies area in breezeway
  • Purge file cabinet in progress (through "credit cards")
  • Take RaceTrac surveys
  • Move fonts from external drive and reinstall on new laptop
  • Take my measurements
  • Look into transplanting hyacinths in garden - Moved them outside since Explorer has started to jump on mantelpiece :(
  • Scrub patio pavers with bleach (wear old clothes and shoes, gloves and goggles)
  • Finish decluttering exercise room shelves
  • Call my bank to consolidate my IRA accounts
  • Sit down with my daughter and show her how to file her taxes
  • Start on our tax return
  • Schedule an outing to P.E.A.R. Park and ask them about the trees from my backyard or look at the Audubon site that Pixel shared.
  • Write letter to my great aunt, with pictures
  • Put son's vaccination records back in safe place DONE
  • Plant and water the tree got it out of the box!

  • Youngest Son packed a lunch to take to school

  • I packed leftovers for Greg to take to work.

  • School drop-off went even better than usual!

  • I aired out the house and let the cats enjoy a whiff of the outdoors.

  • I don't know what the bathroom situation is on the trail we'll be walking on, and I don't want to use the bathroom at my ex's (where I'm picking up Middle Son), so I'm allowing myself only half a cup of coffee this morning. It's hard because I really want more, hahaha.

  • So I did some research on the trail and printed a map that shows the bathroom locations. At least there are a couple, although I'm not sure how far we'll walk!

  • I earned the daily Microsoft Rewards credits and a few Swagbucks.

  • I entered my weight into Walgreens' Balance Rewards for Healthy Choices and earned 20 BR points.

  • I reused a bread bag to clean out the upstairs litter box of its contents.

  • I used a old deodorizing disk (old as in I bought it several years ago but it had never been used) near the litter box. It might not work for long, but otherwise it'd have gone in the trash anyway. I found a stash of them in a drawer that I didn't even remember I had!

  • I drove to the UCF area to meet Middle Son. It's not required to take the toll roads but taking SR50 all the way?  Yeah, that would double my travel time. I compromised by taking the turnpike further down than I would usually take it, saving some tolls, and I did the same on the way home.

  • Middle Son got so excited about the camera that he pretty much monopolized it, LOL. But he was incredibly patient with me as I am a hands-on learner and repeated himself several times and explained in different ways.  So we ended up doing a lot of stopping to take pictures and analyze how best to take a picture given the fact that I didn't want to have to deal with aperture and f-stops and what not, and ended up walking only 3.74 miles (a little over 1:06).  But we spent a couple of hours doing that, when you count all the times when we stopped and chatted so I got 2 good hours of photographic lectures, lol.  I just hope I remember most of it :)   Plus, I got to spend more time with Middle Son, which was awesome. He's a pretty nifty person, if I do say so myself!

  • I had brought water and PB crackers in my fanny pack, which I shared with Middle Son while we walked.  My strategy of only drinking 1/2 cup of coffee before leaving worked great!  I could have used the bathroom but there were suspicious-looking characters hanging around the bathrooms that we passed, so I abstained and waited until lunch time.

  • For lunch, I suggested we go to Panera's since I had a gift card that I had bought last December.  The meal cost me a little over $20 but no money out of pocket.  We both drank water.

  • Middle Son isn't concerned with brands and wanted the same pair of walking shoes as the ones he currently has, from Payless Shoesource.  They were on sale for $10 off at $29.99, and he got a free Champion drawstring bag with it, which is great since he needed one for work!

  • I reused 2 older 512 MB SD cards to store copies of the pictures we took today and send them to Middle Son via my daughter. He will return the SD cards via same on Sunday.  The pictures were too large to send via email.

  • I went to practice my photography lessons outside in my garden at the "Golden Hour". There weren't any birds but I took some pictures of flowers and stuff.  Practice makes perfect!
Pineapple flower bud

This one isn't great... but my little lemon tree has a couple of buds that appeared this week, after 2 days of rain!

This hibiscus flower looks like an alien creature!

My buddy Explorer
  • For dinner, I made butternut squash soup with my last butternut squash bought on sale from Aldi last fall and some homemade chicken stock. I used the leftover whipping cream container from Trader Joe's that I had opened last week.  I made grilled turkey and cheese sandwiches to go with it.

  • My daughter went to spend the weekend at her dad's after dinner so I won't be feeding her for a couple of days.

  • Gas:
    • to drive my son to school
    • and tolls for Greg's commute
    • and tolls for going to meet Middle Son
    • and tolls for daughter to go to her dad's for the weekend

  • Sneakers, 2 pairs of shorts and socks for Middle Son.

  • A replacement lens cap for my camera.

  • I forgot to put on sunscreen again!  I need to remember to carry some in my fanny pack. I'm told I'm pretty sunburnt :(
  • I lost the lens cap to my new camera!  I had taken it off the little strap because it was hanging there and annoying the heck out of us and then... it disappeared!  Grrrr.  I ordered a generic replacement from Amazon for $7.40 and I hope I ordered the proper size.
  • Speaking of which, I forgot to apply Discover Rewards to my order so the whole thing got charged to my Amazon Visa. At least I'll get 5% back in Rewards.
  • I had brought my Kohl's charge card because I figured we'd get shorts for Middle Son there, but we went to Target instead. Only, I didn't bring my Target Mastercard so I missed out on saving 5% at the register (I didn't want to bring my whole wallet with me).

  • Payless ShoeSource: $31.94 (sneakers for Middle Son)
  • Target: $65.47 (2 pairs of shorts, 15-ct pack of socks, for Middle Son)
  • Amazon: $7.40 (lens cover)

  • A drawstring bag from Payless Shoesource (with purchase of Champion shoes)

  • Made my bed
  • Fed the kittens
  • Packed Greg's lunch
  • Prepped his breakfast
  • Drove my son to school
  • Cleaned the trunk area of my SUV
  • Worked on Rewards programs
  • Printed a map of the trail
  • Put away my son's vaccination records
  • Cleaned the upstairs litter box
  • Unboxed the tree that I received yesterday
  • Drove to meet with Middle Son
  • Took a hike/photo lesson with Middle Son
  • Had lunch with Middle Son
  • Took him shopping for shoes and shorts
  • Practiced my new photography skills in my backyard
  • Fed the kittens
  • Cooked dinner
  • Did the dishes

  • For Middle Son's patience with me this morning!
  • For spotting birds that I hadn't seen before

FIELD TRIP: Little Econ Greenway Trail, Orlando, Orange County

I'd never been to the Little Econ Greenway, but my Daughter and Middle Son had been telling me about walking and biking on it. It's within walking distance of their dad's house, which is very nice, but today Middle Son directed me to a parking lot a few miles away and we walked from there. It wasn't, however, the part of the trail he had planned on walking on as we overshot the parking lot he was trying to find by a few miles, so from what I understand, we didn't walk on the prettiest part of the trail.

This part was pretty but it was taken right before we turned around to go back to the car!

There is a canal running alongside the length of the trail.  It looks pretty in the picture but I found it was strewn with trash along the shores  in a lot of places, as the trail meanders through  residential areas.

I thought we'd see lots of gators, but we didn't see even one!  However, we did spot several birds: 

I'm not sure what type of bird this is. Probably a juvenile of some kind. This is a Pied-Billed Grebe.


Great Blue Heron. This is a picture that I took but I enlarged it on the laptop and cut out a screenshot of just the bird. So the focus isn't great because I was zooming a lot with the camera already.

Same with this one.

And this one!  This is an osprey. I'm thrilled that it turned out because Middle Son was telling me not to bother trying to
photograph it as it was pretty high up and he thought it wouldn't turn out.


Two limpkins!

Wood Stork

Common Moorhen.  Middle Son and I really loved the water reflection in this picture.

White Ibis

Great Egret

I think this is a Chicken Turtle

Gopher Tortoise

We saw quite a few of those little snails on one part of the trail. I think some bird probably dropped them on their way to their nest?

I also practiced taking close-up of flowers.  Those aren't perfect because I'm still learning!

This one is fuzzy because there was some dust on the lens. Florida Tasselflower.

I guess another variety of Florida Tasselflower

Carolina Jessamine (the sun was shining right on the flower so it got overexposed)


This is a pity. It was overcast at that time, and I couldn't get a better view of this flowering tree.  The flowers were very pretty, dark purple and white, and the tree also had fruit like yellow cherries. I have no idea what this is! UPDATE on 4/10/17: this is a Chinaberry tree (thanks, Bless!).

That tree caught my eye too...

I thought they were flowers but they were those "helicopter" seeds :)  Very colorful, so pretty!
I look forward to taking more pictures with my new camera!


  1. Your photos are beautiful! I can really tell a difference between these and your previous photos (which I also thought were often quite lovely), way to go! And how nice of Middle Son to offer his assistance to you in that way. I LOVE the photo of the Osprey -- it is my school's mascot. ;)

    1. Thanks, Laura, I'm glad you enjoyed them too! I was so excited about the osprey! My kids' elementary school's mascot was also the osprey.

      There were 2 main problems that I had with my old camera that this one seems to fix: one of them being able to focus on a bird when it's in a tree, for instance, and there are branches in the way. I'm able to use the Program Mode and the Manual Focus on this camera so I can bring the bird in focus and the branches in front of it become blurry! This is going to solve probably 75% of my problems, as long as I learn to do it fast enough before the bird flies away!

      The second problem was being able to focus very closely on flowers. This camera has a macro mode, so again, once I perfect my understanding of how to use it (i.e. set it but then move the CAMERA itself, instead of trying to zoom in on the flower) and also of how the light's direction might affect how my camera reacts, I should be good. I need to practice lots more on that.

      However, the camera also disappointed me in its zooming ability. The old point and shoot has a 40X digital zoom which my son explained means it's just the lower quality optical zoom and then the camera will zoom in on that image to produce the "digital zoom", as if I zoomed in on it on the laptop. So the picture quality was greatly degraded and "pixilated". This camera's opticals are better, but I can still only take pictures as far as could before. So while my pictures of a hawk on the back fence might actually look better now, I still won't be able to take good pictures of birds further away. I would need a dSLR with the appropriate lens for that. Oh well, I knew that the camera wouldn't be able to do everything that I wanted it to do so I'm learning to be happy with what I have. Being able to get that picture of the osprey and it still looking pretty good after I zoomed it on it on the laptop... that makes me happy and makes up for the initial disappointment!

      And now you know way more about my camera than you wanted to know, lol.

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks, Bless! It was fun spending the time with Middle Son and seeing him excited about the camera. And I was so proud of how he handled teaching me to use it. He is quite passionate about Photography, which is lovely to see as it is his chosen career field. I just hope he can someday make a living from it. I suggested he gives private lessons to people to make some money, as many of us are confused by the settings on our overly complicated cameras. After all, the library's Photography for Beginners classes are always full!

  3. Private lessons on your camera. I would so take those. Group classes are okay, but having individual attention would be great. If your son has time, he should definitely do that.

    Your pictures are beautiful. Did your son like the camera well enough to get one for himself.

    1. Thanks! Yes, I think he really liked the camera and what it can do, as a camera to take on trips or walks, so he doesn't have to lug all the lenses, etc.

      I'm definitely going to talk to him more about conducting 1:1 classes, I think.

  4. I look forward to taking more pictures with my new camera! <-- So am I, Nathalie, so am I!


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