Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Random Notes

I've had a few posts kicking around in the cobwebbed corners of my brain this week, none of which are getting written. So...a hodgepodge:
  • Ivy and I attended our first "Fiddle Jam" on the weekend. Although we only knew a couple of the songs the group played, it was still fun to hang out at Leir House and make music with a dozen or more other curious souls. Ivy wandered off to play with the other kids, and I experimented with trying to find harmonies that sounded ok. Our friend Aimee came too, and the potluck component was excellent. Big thanks to Ivy's fiddle teachers Ron and Liz for organizing it.
  • We've been meeting the Duecks at the beach again, and they hosted us for Hump Day Pizza Night at their place last night. Good old friends, always fun and mellow.
  • The garden and flowerbeds have been getting lots of love (but no rain!) and are looking really good. We've never had much luck with growing potatoes, but this year's look fantastic. My mom's been helping out too. Pulling spinach, chives and oregano out for cooking has been too much fun for me...we even made rhubarb muffins from the semi-wild stuff growing at the edge of the yard.
  • I finally finished designing my ice book and uploaded it to Blurb. I'll post more about it when the printed copies actually arrive, but it's pretty exciting.
  • Two days off this week was very nice. All day Monday with just me and Ezra, and two mornings off on Tuesday and Wednesday to help out with the crew. Ezra got his shots, Tannis wrapped up the school year with the Home Learner's Program, and Ivy fiddled. Ella hung out, mostly just being awesome.
  • Listening to: Barry Phillips, a composer/cellist who blends interesting traditional influences into something very beautiful (see player below), the new Tragically Hip album (their best in many years, imo), lots of classical, as well as some standard stuff from Green Day and Vampire Weekend.
  • Watched: Wall-E and loved it, despite some over-the-top schmaltzy parts.
  • Reading: almost nothing (the shame). I keep starting good books and not finishing them.
  • Playing: I'm willing to say that I've finished Suzuki Book 1, because I can play the final piece, Gavotte, reasonably well on violin and viola. I've been coming up with new viola harmony parts for fiddle tunes, and focusing on a version of Crabs in the Skillet that I've worked out for the viola.
  • Drinking: Great espresso from Richard's Backyard Beans, Unibroue Maudite with Andrew tonight on the back patio, Orange Crush on ice, and water that no longer has to be boiled.
  • Sleeping: never enough.

Trad by Barry Phillips



Teri said...

let me know what you think of Blurb's printing - I'm contemplating having my scrapbooks printed there.

Jeremy said...

Sure, will do. The prices seem pretty good for one-off keepsakes. I've heard that the quality is decent, but not mind-blowing.

Jules at 7-Imp said...

How did you DO that?

So beautiful.

Jules at 7-Imp said...

Sorry. I was talking about that flower photo, specifically. (I had thought it was in its own post, but it's at the bottom of the great one about your fun life.)

Really, my questions might sound exceedingly dumb, since I know little to nothing about photography, but did you do something added-extra to give those beautiful blurs to the photo?

Jeremy said...

Thanks, Jules. If you want more background blur, you need the biggest possible lens aperture and you've got to be close to your subject (or be zoomed in with a telephoto lens), preferably with the things in the background further away (as in, not right behind your subject). Confused yet?

I'm assuming you got the 18-55 kit lens? It's fine, but the biggest aperture isn't really big enough to get nice blurry backgrounds, and that's essentially a wide-angle lens. To get good background blurs you need a bigger aperture and/or more zoom.

For bigger aperture, I was going to suggest the Nikon 50mm f/1.8 lens for $140 (CHEAP in this realm), but it doesn't autofocus on your D40. Next best might be the 35mm f/1.8 at about $200, which will autofocus for you (probably essential if your kids like to move around). These big-aperture lenses are amazing for portraits, but you have to get used to "zooming" with your feet, moving closer or further away from your subjects. Image quality is incredible.

For more zoom, so you can be standing further away from things but bring them right in close, Nikon makes a kick-ass 18-200mm zoom. Yes, it costs as much as your whole camera kit...but if you really want to do photography and only want to buy one lens, that would be the one. Save pennies and be nice so Santa puts you on the right list.