The Door is a Jar

Dedicated to seeing the lighter and slightly skewed side of life


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Featured Foto Friday!

Well kiddies, this week I took about twice as many pictures as I normally do.  It’s kind of a good news, bad news situation.  The good news is that the more you have to choose from, the greater the chance of getting pics you really like    The bad news is it takes a lot more work to sort thru and even more to narrow down to the best of the best.  It was a good day to shoot.  The light was great and there was not shortage of subject matter.  I picked 12 for on today’s post so I won’t take anymore of your time with more writing.  Here’s the best of the week, this week.


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It’s not always so color. Sometimes it’s black and white!

This week, for the first time ev-er, there will be several black and white photos included on Featured Foto Friday. It’s exciting isn’t it? It’s so cool to part of history…even if it’s just your blog’s history….maybe it’s just exciting for me.

I imagine many of you are wondering “How do you decide if a picture should be black and white?” Exxxccelllent question. The answer is….I don’t know. There are definitely a series of steps that I go thru after I import pictures from my camera into Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop.  What seems to happen is that I find that I like the subject, but not the colors.  Here is a pic of my cat Cooper taken when he was a kitten.

I actually love this pic just the way it is.  He’s such a cuuutie!  But, what I noticed is that there is a great contrast of texture between Cooper’s fur and the white towel, but you have to really look for it.  I also thought it might be more universally appealing to other cat owners if it wasn’t so specific in color.  Here is the same pic in black and white.

If you click on the picture to get a better look, the difference will be easier to see.  I found that I looked at Cooper’s face more now than when he’s orange.  Somehow, his features become more prominent.  I also think the towel looks whiter which draws your eyes to his face.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again.  This is all personal preference stuff.  After all, sometimes one does want a hint of color!

 Nathan Lane in The Birdcage

So true, Nathan.  Oh so true.  For instance, a trick that you sometimes see is having one item in color while the rest of the pic is black and white.  Someday, I will do a write up on how to do that.  Here is an example of how that looks.

Here is the same pic in full color.

There is so much green in this pic that it took away from the origami crane.  But if the pic was just black and white, the crane wouldn’t stand out either.  Sometimes, you can manipulate the scene while you are taking the picture.  For example, if this had been my Christmas Tree, I would have removed the other green ornament.  Unfortunately, this tree belonged to Longwood Gardens.  They are not really into you manipulating the scene so much.  It’s more of a “Hands Off!  This Means You!” policy.  That’s ok.  I think it turned out just fine.

You may have noticed some format changes to this blog.  I am experimenting with different themes, trying to find the best one for my “look”.  It has not been easy.  If you have any feedback about these changes, feel free to post!  Would love to know what you think.


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Three! Three! Three shoots in one!

This weekend, I went to Tyler Gardens at Bucks County Community College.  It is very close to where my parents live, so the plan was to shoot pics in the morning and spend time with them in the afternoon, perhaps see a movie as well.  I got to the school around 8:00 am and realized that I should have arrived about an hour earlier (at least) because of the light.  But there was still plenty…and I mean plenty, to shoot.

I was not alone in the gardens.  There were about 3 painters already there when I arrived (they knew when to get there!).  By painters, I mean artists, not house painters or playing cards painting the flowers.  Now that would have been something to see!  Probably need something stronger than a Chai Tea Latte to see something special like that.

Alice in Wonderland

It’s nice when there are other people around, cause you don’t feel this need to look over your shoulder every five minutes to make sure someone isn’t sneaking up on you.  But you do need to be careful about not getting in anyone’s way who is already set up and working.  Although there is a big, bad exception to this.  That exception is the wedding photographer.

 Adam Sandler

Nice try, but that is The Wedding Singer not the wedding photographer.  Again, this is something that could have been brought to my attention YESTERDAY! 🙂

Around 9:00, I hear loud talking, like a lot of loud talking.  I look up and here comes a rather large wedding party, along with two photographers.  They have absolutely no problem just taking over the joint.  Can’t say I blame them.  They are probably on a schedule and there is money involved.  But we were here first, dammit!  Or at least the painters were.

I have to say that these gardens are really perfect for wedding photography.  I don’t typically crash other people’s parties, but since I was being held up from my agenda, and it just fits so well into a recap, I snapped a pic of the group (don’t worry, I pixellated the faces to protect the innocent).  The bridesmaid dresses are maybe the prettiest I’ve ever seen.  How often do you hear that phrase?  Exactly.

Soooo, after they left, it got pretty quiet again.  I took pictures for about another hour and then called it.  Two hours are about all my little attention span can handle.  Plus, it felt like a good time for a Starbucks break.  The downtown area of Newtown is very close by and I figured there had to be a Starbucks there.  THERE HAD TO BE!

You know, they say that admitting you have a problem is the first step.

“They tried to make me go to rehab, but I said no, no, no.”

But I don’t have a problem 🙂  At least, at this point, I didn’t have a problem anymore.  Somehow, a Mocha Light Frappucino just always makes everything better.  Can I tell you?  This was the busiest Starbuck I’ve ever been in.  If you ever want to feel like you are at a place that is happening, its Saturday @ 10:30 am at the Newtown Starbucks.  Be there or be square!

I decided to take a stroll down the main drag before heading to Mom and Dad’s.  You can tell the town was getting ready for July 4th…or they are just very patriotic, because I took at least 4 or 5 different American Flag pics.  These are just a couple.

I know this post is getting rather long, so I will wrap it up here.  Mom had a beautiful spiky purple flower blooming in her garden that I had not noticed before so I snapped some pics of that too.  That, my friends, is how I got three shoots (and 200 pics!) in one day.  Featured Foto Friday is going to be interesting.

Oh yeah, we also went to see Rock of Ages….interested to hear what others thought of it.  I thought Alec Baldwin and Russell Brand stole the movie….which wasn’t ultra hard to do, but they did it.  Can still hear them singing “Can’t Fight This Feeling” by REO Speedwagon.  You can hear that song now too, can’t you?  Can’t you? [Insert evil laughter here]


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Friday’s Featured Fotos

“You’re the best of the class, this year!”  You can hear it can’t you?  This time every year, WPVI Channel 6 in Philadelphia plays that familiar tune along with pics of those high school seniors who were top of their class.  I would like to use this as my theme song for…wait for it…FRIDAY’S FEATURED FOTOS!  Only I need to make a minor modification.

While I want to keep the Michael Bolton sounding singer (cause he sounds so dreamy), the words will now be ”You’re the best of the week, this week!”  Catchy, huh?  I think it might be almost as catchy as the Action News theme song.  No, really.  Really!

Well, as I have written quite a bit this week, I am gonna let the pictures do the rest of the talking..er..writing..er..you know what I mean!  While I am particularly happy with the yellow lily picture (as it reminds me of a Georgia O’Keefe painting), I’m only feeling lukewarm about the rest.  It’s personal preference.  Some of you might like all of them, some of you might wonder why I do this at all.  It’s ok. I’m a big girl, I can take it.  Alright, I’m done now.  Here are the best of the week….this week.

Feedback?  Comments?  I would love to hear from you!


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Tu-Tutorial!

Why is a tripod important?  I am so glad you asked!  If you want to take pics that capture fine details or show flowing water, you absolutely need a tripod.  You might think that you can hold the camera steady enough to do these things without it, but trust me, you can’t.  YOU CAN’T!  Lord knows, I’ve tried.

You may have noticed by now, that I speak in movie quotes.  It’s a gift.  One that I think is appropriate for this post is from A League of Their Own.  At a train station, Jon Lovitz turns to Geena Davis and Lori Petty as their characters are preparing to leave the dairy farm to pursue the dream of playing baseball and says,

“See, how it works is, the train moves, not the station.”

 Jon Lovitz

That is sort of the idea with the tripod.   Let’s say you are taking a picture of a waterfall.  You want the water to move, not the camera.  I know you understand, but I’m gonna show a pic anyway, okay?!?  Here is a pic of a waterfall without using a tripod.

See?  It’s just like what Hudson says in Aliens.  “There’s movement all over the place!”

 Bill Paxton as Hudson

I told you, it’s a gift.  Now, if you use a tripod, you can get a picture like this:

See how flowy the water is?  That’s because I set the shutter to stay open for a long time, so the water is moving while the image is captured.  The water is a bit blurred and shows movement, but the rest of the scene stays clear.

The other thing tripods are good for is capturing details up close.  Here is a pic of a wild columbine without using a tripod.

It’s not a bad picture, but how cool would it have been if the details would have been in focus?  Pret-ty cool, I think.   Here is pic of a lily, using a tripod.

See the difference?  Now this picture was cropped.  Here is what the original looked like.

If I hadn’t used the tripod, I wouldn’t have been able to crop the picture that close and still get the fine details in focus.

Now you know why I am all about finding a new tripod.  This means something.  This is important!

Sorry, had to get one last one in there.


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There are no apples at Appleford

But there are more frogs than you can shake a stick at!  Not that I would.  I love frogs and all living creatures.  Except for those little black ants.  I hate those.  Of course, that has nothing to do with this post.  This post is about Appleford…which has no apples.

You know what else Appleford doesn’t have, assuming you get there before or around 9:00 am on a Saturday morning?  People!

I had wanted to get to the estate by 8:00, because the morning light in photography is my absolute favorite.  That didn’t happen, for a number of reasons that I listed the other day.  So I was late for the light, but early to the party so to speak.  Way early.

The first thing I noticed upon arrival (aside from the lack of other human life) is how noisy it was.  I’m telling you, these frogs were loud!  And because there were so many (or at least it seemed that way – I couldn’t actually see them), they really got your attention.

The frogs surrounded a beautiful multi-level pond, full of lily pads.  It was a calm morning, no wind to speak of.  The perfect opportunity to break out my tripod without making a fool of myself while I stumble around with it.  Gonna let my geek flag fly!

As it turns out, I did see a frog, I just didn’t realize it until I got home, but here is a picture of one.

All in all, this was a nice place to shoot, it just didn’t rock my world.  I’ll tell you though, if you are planning a wedding, this is a place to consider.  The terrace is beautiful and very large.  The Appleford website shows lots of beautiful wedding imagery.  Would also be a great place for a party in general.  If you have your party over brunch, the frogs will sing to you!

Speaking of which, here is one of my favorite frogs, singing a nice little ditty.

Kermit the Frog sings The Rainbow Connection

This blog is really a work in progress.  Going forward, I plan to do about three posts a week, plus a bonus post if I have time and material.  Mondays will be write ups like this one about where I went over the weekend.  Thursdays will be tutorials of some kind, even if the tutorial is something I just learned how to do.  Fridays will be Featured Foto Day where I share the best photos taken at the shoot from the previous weekend.  The bonus posts will be completely random thoughts.  All will probably include movie or music references, or both…cause that’s how I roll!


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Who’s the geek with the tripod? Oh, it’s me.

Video clip from Sixteen Candles

There are many, many reasons I love this scene, but I have a new-found appreciation for it now that I am a total camera geek.

For example:

1)  While I question in general the use of a Polaroid camera at night because there is no way to adjust the aperture or the shutter speed to allow enough light in for a good exposure, I do understand why they need the tripod.  It is the only way possible not to have a complete blurry mess, assuming they can get enough light using the flash. I TOLD you I was a camera geek.  It’s not as if you weren’t WARNED.

2)  Did you notice how angry Farmer Ted is getting because of how long John Cusack and….and…and the other guy are taking to set up and get the shot?  It’s funny because it’s true!  If you have never used a tripod, you will just have to trust me.  Tripods, especially old school tripods like mine will slow down a photo shoot to a screeching halt.  AND if you only have two hours planned, tripod set up starts to eat away at your precious time very quickly.  I am grateful that I have a tripod at all, but watching me use it might be funnier than a John Hughes movie.  You know the scene in Sixteen Candles with Joan Cusack and the water fountain?  She is a vision of grace and poise compared to me using my tripod.  How’s that for a visual?  Not good enough?  Here ya go!

Joan Cusack in Sixteen Candles

Soooo, now I am on the hunt for an easy to use tripod.  Seriously, I am looking for feedback.  If any of you have any good or bad experiences with a tripod, I want to hear from you!  I think a trip to New York is in my future to visit the B&H Super Store and give some a test drive, but I think this is a case of too much information is not enough.

Ideally, I am looking for a carbon fiber, quick release ball head, multi angle leg, light weight compact unit.  Maybe with a bubble level and throw in a turbo charge! [Insert Tim Allen grunt sound here]

 Tim Allen

I’m so glad I did this post in black and white.  It just captured the moment so nicely.