Sunday, April 17, 2011

Picture This

I am halfway through a photography class that I am taking at the Missouri Botanical Garden. It is on Tuesday mornings for 3 hours, and lasts for 6 weeks. The instructor is a professional photography with many published photos to his credit. This is a beginning photography course, and I have taken a couple of those in the past. For some reason I just don't get the aperture, focal length, f-stop, ISO terminology stuff. Whenever it is discussed, my eyes glaze over. Math - bleh! So I was hoping this class would help me understand my D-SLR better. And I want to take the next class on photographing nature, and it is for intermediate students. I didn't want to be "that person" in the next class...the one who asks all the inane questions.

My camera is a Nikon D-40, and it takes amazing pictures. I love it, and the lens I purchased for it. So why am I taking the class, you might ask? Because I shoot everything on automatic exposure. And most of the time, that is perfectly acceptable. But you do get the rare time when the lens can't focus on what you are really wanting to take a picture of due to junk in the foreground. I experienced that just the other day when I was trying to photograph a bird's nest through a tree. When I took my camera setting off of automatic {gasp!}, I could manually focus on the bird in its nest. So I can understand the beauty of knowing how to shoot on manual, but by the time I think about changing the exposure and working with the lens, sometimes the photographic moment is lost. The instructor assures us that it will become second nature to us. We shall see...

At the very least I am learning a lot about photo composition, so that will be invaluable whether I shoot on automatic or manual. And every Tuesday I get to go to the Garden and take photographs. It's a win-win!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

It's All Relative

My sister and I are in Cincinnati this weekend. We drove over on Thursday afternoon and will head home tomorrow. Usually we stay with our cousin Gene and his wife Rita. This weekend they had lots of family plans with a birthday party, flag football game, children coming in from out of town with grandchildren, etc. We looked at coming a different weekend, but it seemed like nothing was going to work out with everyone's schedules. We had selected this weekend because the International Quilt Show is meeting in Cincinnati for the very first time, and Kathy and I are both quilters.

We decided to come this weekend anyway and stay in a hotel. There are no hotels near our aunts or cousins, so we are staying in Florence, KY. It is about a 15 minute drive to downtown Cincinnati from here, but the hotel room was a lot cheaper than staying downtown. The Clarion Inn & Suites is quite nice, and our rooms are large and comfortable. My only complaint is that there is a group of kids here (college? high school?), and they are noisy in the hallway and with slamming doors. But that is not the hotel's fault. Where are the stupid chaperons?

Anyway, our first stop after we checked in Thursday night was Skyline Chili for the famous chili three way - spaghetti, Skyline chili and grated cheese. What a way to begin our mini-vacation! Then Friday morning we headed for downtown Cincinnati along with 5,000 other quilters. The quilt show was amazing! They have hundreds of fantastic quilts on display, and booths of vendors selling every kind of quilting supply imaginable. After five hours I walked away with only the batting I need for the graduation quilt I am making. Boy could I have gotten a good deal on a new quilting machine. It was only $15,000!

Because we were at the show until 4:30 and were meeting 6 of our relatives for supper at 6:00, we decided to drive directly to the Newport Levee where the restaurant is located instead of all the way to our hotel and back again. We enjoyed sitting outside and looking across the river at the Cincinnati skyline. This area (Ohio and Kentucky sides of the river) has really been revitalized and offer lots to do. They have been successful in drawing both tourists and locals back to their river fronts. Supper was awesome, and the restaurant allowed us to hang out and talk until after 9:00.

This morning Kathy and I went back to downtown Cincinnati to an area called Findlay Market. It is the oldest continuously running outdoor market in Ohio, and has been around for over 150 years. Knowing that my ancestors worked and shopped in the area was very exciting for me. I don't know how I missed coming to this before now. It reminds me a bit of Soulard Market back home. After that we picked up Aunt Margie and Aunt Betty (my mom's two remaining sisters) and went to the Golden Corral to meet up with a couple of cousins. We were there for 6 hours! They are so nice to us that we always go there when we come into town. They don't mind that we sit and visit that long. We dropped the aunts off around 7:00 and then came back to our neck of the woods in Kentucky. We will head for home in the morning as Jim and I have tickets to the Repertory Theater at 7:00 tomorrow night.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Quilting "B"

Around working on my dad's book and all the extra work on the pictures I had to do for it, I have been trying to keep up with this graduation quilt I am making. Now that it is April, I am beginning to feel the squeeze. The mom has not told me exactly what date she needs the quilt done, but I know graduation is May 20th. When I made Lauren's quilt (sister to this graduate), it just needed to be completed by Lauren's graduation party. This bought me a little extra time, which was great. Tommy knows he is getting this quilt, so it is not a surprise like Lauren's was so the deadline may not be that big of a deal. I guess I better ask the question, huh?

Originally I was going to make 70 squares, which is the number I used in Lauren's quilt. But since I cut each of the center fabric pieces larger for this quilt so you could really see some of the larger focal pieces, I realized that 70 would make this quilt huge. (Unfortunately this was after I had already cut all 70.) So I have scaled back the number to 48. I have all the squares pieced and am now just "squaring" them up. After that I'll be ready to start sewing the squares together. When that is complete, I'll decide if I'm going to put on one border or two, depending on the size I am aiming for in the end.

Last night I called my friend who actually did the finished quilting on Lauren's quilt to see if she is willing to do the same for this new one. She has one of the really expensive long arm quilting machines that can handle larger quilts. It just makes a much nicer finish than I can do on my machine. Thankfully, she has the time to take on this project after May 3rd. It will only take her a few days at most, and then the quilt comes back to me to apply the binding. Whew! Could be crunch time in early May, especially since we have to go to Chicago and move Katie home the middle of the month. Always something... No wonder I have been a quilting "b" lately.