Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Sweater Is Finally Done!

Back in April I showed you a picture of a sweater that I was knitting for Kaefer for her 17th birthday. Well, her birthday was in April, but of course, the sweater wasn't finished by then. I was a bit over optimistic about how long it indeed takes to knit a sweater.

Yesterday was the big day, when I weaved in the last tail of the beautiful yarn. The sweater was finished, done!! More than a month after her birthday, but my girl was happy. It fits her perfectly. I still need to block it, though, but that is quickly done.

Kaefer's sweater turned out a bit different than the picture in the pattern, but I followed the instructions to a T, so I guess the picture was just of a differently knitted model. I would have preferred the wider neckline and so would Kaefer, but we actually like our result as well.

I love the pattern! We call it the wavy pattern; it looks more complicated than it is. It was actually pretty easy, you just have to be careful and count the rows.

The first sweater I knitted after a very long time. My next projects will be socks, hats, toys...

I also will take a break from my blog for some time. I usually do that in the summer, and I feel that I really need a break right now. The last few months have been intense.

See you all in a few weeks again! Enjoy the summer!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

A Lavender Garden In The Vineyards

Sonoma County has a huge number of wineries. The gentle hills are covered with vineyards, the valleys are lined with them. More and more meadows and pastures are turned into vineyards - it's not a monoculture yet since fortunately we still have a lot of agriculture here as well.

The wineries are a huge magnet for people from all over the country with several events taking place almost every weekend, especially in the summer and fall. However, you can still find a neat little oasis if you look around.

One of them is the lavender garden at Matanzas Creek Winery. It's quite a big garden with just lavender and few other tall grasses and some sunflowers. On a sunny day the bees are going berserk here, there's constant humming when you walk through the garden. I think it might be a great backdrop for a wedding.

Kaefer and I thought it might be a great place for taking her senior pictures. She will be a senior next school year, and beside the "formal" senior pictures, each graduate can have a "casual" student picture in the yearbook. Since I am not willing to pay $ 200.00 or more for a professional photographer, I am determined to take these "casual" pictures.

I am NOT a very accomplished portrait photographer, so this is quite a challenge for me. I bought this book from which I already learned so much. And at the moment I am practicing, practicing and more practicing.

Kaefer and I were brainstorming good locations for a shooting, and one idea was the lavender garden.

We went there yesterday afternoon when it was bright, but overcast. Perfect for portrait photography!

Thankfully Kaefer is used to get her picture taken (our friends have always teased us that she is the most photographed child...) and behaves quite naturally in front of the camera. We had a lot of fun during this shooting. We limited our time to 45 minutes.

In those 45 minutes I took about 360 photos of her of which I really like about a handful. Now I get why these photo sessions are so expensive...

None of these pictures will end up in the yearbook. These are all practice shots - I learned so much! We have until the end of the year to get the "perfect" shot.

This one is my favorite from yesterday's shooting. It shows a lot of Kaefer's personality.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Color Balance - What Do You Think?

Many of you photographers out there know about the AWB setting on your camera, or the auto white balance. It is used for color correction or just to get the colors right in our digital cameras. This is the very short version - you can read way more in depth about it here (and most probably somewhere else as well). I usually have my camera setting on AWB, but sometimes I change it to the other small symbols beneath it. For example, there is a symbol for shade - I used it a lot in the Valley of Fire to get the color of the enormous red rocks correct that were often in the shade.

Yesterday was a very cloudy day here and I took some photos of my flowers. I first used  AWB and then took the same picture with the exact same settings, but changed the color balance to "cloudy". The difference was quite striking.



You don't see it too much in these first two images. The color in the second picture appears to be warmer, more yellow.

But look here at my Agastaches:



Quite a difference, don't you think? All of these photos are straight out of the camera, I didn't edit them except for cropping the following two.



I personally think the "cloudy" setting is completely off. This wasn't at all what I saw.



I do think that if you want a warmer tinted photo, the "cloudy" setting is quite good. However, I do prefer the cooler colors in the auto white balance setting which is also way closer to what the colors really looked like. I think I stick to AWB and use the other settings only sparingly.



I do love my yarrow - especially in the auto white balance setting; the "cloudy" one is too "sweet" for me. Would make a nice vintage photo though.

What do you think? Which setting do you prefer? Do you change your color balance settings or do you mainly shoot in AWB? Please do tell!