The corn crib

Every day I used to drive by this corn crib on my way to work. Every morning it was draped in warm oranges and yellows. In the evening it faced a bright sky full of purples and reds. I really enjoyed driving by that corn crib. It always made me a little happier.

After my car pool friends had a baby, riding with them got a little more complicated. There was drop off and pick up. It just didn't work. Honestly, I just really enjoy my sleep. I slowly quit riding with them.

Which means I don't drive by my corn crib anymore.

A few days ago I ventured down that way for Craft Night (a bunch of women get together on Wednesday nights to scrapbook; that's another post of its own).

And this is what I noticed....

The corn crib was replaced with a back hoe and a mound of dirt.

My corn crib was gone. I'm sure at one time there was an entire farm there. I imagine a white house with black shutters. A big red barn and pasture. There was probably a fort built in the tree. And of course, my corn crib.

A sign of the times I guess.


I'm looking forward to...

1. Spending some time with my nephews tonight
2. Reading my new photography book
3. Having a clean house
4. One more day of the weekend
5. The smell of clean clothes
6. Sunshine!
7. My birthday next month
8. A very productive afternoon
9. Sleeping in tomorrow
10. Taking photos for fun


The happy list

I started something new this week. I wrote down three things to do. Three things that were about making myself happy. Not about cleaning or finishing the basement or even work. My theory is by doing three things to make a happier me means I'll be more likely to do the other not-so-fun things on my list.

This week I wanted to contact the local school district about donating a senior portrait session to the post prom committee. Check. Finished as of about five seconds ago. Number two was to connect with another photographer in the area. I'm super excited to meet Amy Allen next week. The last thing on my happy list is to work out at least three times this week... one day down and two days left in the week. It'll happen.


It's here...

...and in case I haven't mentioned it already - I LOVE it! The 50mm is just awesome. I don't think I'll take it off my camera... ever. I posted about the really cool things my new lens would be able to do awhile ago. Past tense. Now I can tell you about the cool things it does! And here it is. The real thing. Well, okay, so this is just the box....

Notice how the middle of the photo is focused but as you move out to the edges it starts to get fuzzy. That's the aperture in action!

Because I rotated the box a little, the edges are further away from the camera than the corner I focused on. That's why the edges are slightly out of focus. Everything else beind the box is much farther away from the camera than the box and considerably more fuzzy.

With my other lens I had a very small aperture compared to the new 50mm. So in order to get a fuzzy background my subject had to be several feet in front of it. Now I can focus on the tip of your nose and your eyes would be out of focus. From several feet to a couple inches.

The other great thing about aperture is being able to let in a lot more light. See for yourself. This was taken with the new 50mm lens with the aperture wide open.

This was taken with my other lens. All settings were exactly the same - except the aperture because this lens doesn't open as wide as the new one.

Makes a huge difference!!


Miss E

I had a chance to babysit little Emily last week. I'd just gotten my 50mm the day before. I figured we'd have a little photo shoot for her three month pictures while mom and dad were away. Boy did we have a lot of fun!

She's such a happy little girl and quite the model at only three months...



This is Ryan building a new dog house for Gus....

This is why Ryan is doing it in the living room...

Yep, that's right -15.4 degrees at 8 p.m. Ryan was trying to finish Gus' new and improved dog house before the bitter cold got colder. There just wasn't enough time in the night. So Gus spent the night in the garage instead.
*Sorry, I should have rotated this picture so it's vertical... but I forgot. And in order to correct it I'd have to fire up my PC, make the change, save it to my hard drive, transfer it to a USB jump drive, and then load it onto the laptop... and that's a lot of work in the middle of Grey's Anatomy.

Isn't he cute?
P.S. My new lens arrived earlier this week. These were all taken with the 50 mm 1.8 and I loooovee it! I have some photos showing the difference a lower aperture makes. I also took some pictures of the adorable Emily... to be posted soon.


Crossing the big one

Today is the day that Tracy Anne Photography crosses a big milestone. Something, the size of... oh, an ocean.

I was SO excited when I logged into Google Analytics tonight and saw FINLAND pop up on my map tracker! Seriously... blew me a.w.a.y. So a big hellllooo to Espoo, Finland!


Let's move together

I’m the worst sister in the world.

It’s true. My sister fell off a ladder while washing windows when she was 12 or 13…(time out; she only fell a couple feet; I’m not that horrible)… She twisted her foot funny on the landscaping rocks below.

After dozens of trips to podiatrists, no one could tell her what was wrong. I secretly thought she was faking it to get out of chores. Or it was all in her head. I watched her to see if her pain mysteriously changed from the left foot to the right foot. I probably even told her to suck it up and deal with it. Hey, I was 14… if I had to get up early to feed the horses so did she. (Ryan would say that’s the middle child in me – and he’d be right.)

Years later, Laura sat in a doctor’s office looking at her x-rays. As a radiology technologist, the doctor didn’t have to say a word. She saw the deterioration in her bones and knew she had rheumatoid arthritis.

I didn’t understand why my mom broke into tears when she told me Laura had RA. Sure it sucked, but it wasn’t cancer. She’d take some anti-inflammatory meds and be good to go. Or so I thought until I Googled it.

It wasn’t the kind of arthritis my grandma had. Laura’s immune system was eating away the cartilage in her joints until her bones were grinding against each other. It was the kind of arthritis that disfigures your hands and feet, eventually binding you to a wheel chair.

The kind that made me the worst sister in the world for thinking she was making it all up. So to do my little part (and appease my guilty conscience) I participated in my first Arthritis Walk last year. This year I took it a step further and joined the planning committee.

Today, the National Arthritis Foundation kicks off their “Let’s Move Together” campaign. Most people with RA can reduce their pain by exercising. We’re not talking about running a marathon here though. Movement of any kind helps – from shoveling the drive way to taking the stairs instead of the elevator. The neatest thing about the site is their Movement Tracker. You can set goals for yourself (like getting in shape for the 2009 walk) and track your progress in a daily log.

I’ll be at the Des Moines Arthritis Walk on May 9th at the Blank Park Zoo. If you want to join us register here! Not from Des Moines or Iowa? Find a walk near you. If you can’t walk but want to help, make a donation.

I walk for my sister. Who do you walk for?


New toy

I’m always looking at new camera equipment. But this lens… ooh, this lens might be the most exciting. I’ve done a lot of research and the 50 mm is the go-to lens for many of the photographers I stalk.

I’m excited about working with a fixed (prime) lens. I kinda feel like my zoom makes me lazy. Eh, why move when I can zoom? Hopefully I’ll be more apt to try a new angle if I’m already bouncing around.

And I’m super excited to shoot in low light with the 50 mm thanks to the larger aperture. Hmmm… you’re probably wondering what aperture means. It’s kind of complicated, but I’ll do my best. Or you can read The Pioneer Woman’s four. part. series. here.

Aperture (measured in f-stops: f1.4 for example) works just like the cornea of your eye. In a dark room your cornea gets really big to let in as much light as possible. Same thing happens when you get your eyes dilated at the eye doctor. But on a bright sunny day, your cornea restricts so it doesn’t let in too much light. Otherwise it would probably burn your retina or something… okay, maybe not – but you get the idea.

In low light situations you can open up the aperture to let in enough light. If you had a smaller aperture, there wouldn’t be enough light and your photo would come out dark. To compensate, you’d have to slow down your shutter speed to let in even more light. When you slow down your shutter speed, any movement – by you or the subject – blurs the image. This can give a really neat look to your photo… when you plan it.

Another cool thing about a wide aperture is the ability to make the background out of focus. Let’s go back to the eye doctor. When you get your eyes dilated it’s kind of hard to see. You can really only focus on one thing at a time and everything around it is fuzzy.

Works the same way in your camera. When the aperture is really wide the camera can only focus on one thing. So everything else is blurry. This effect makes the subject of your photo really stand out. The distance between the in-focus subject and the out-of-focus background is called the depth of field. But you have to pay very close attention to what you’re focusing on. Accidentally focus on the background and your subject will be blurry. Again, an out of focus subject can have a cool effect on your photos as well, when it’s planned.

Aperture is a little more complicated, but that’s it in a nutshell.

My new lens is due to arrive next week… I’m sure I won’t be able resist trying it out the day the post office drops it off. So I’ll post photos from it next week.



Is pretty boring lately. I feel a little ridiculous posting about… nothing, so pretend to be interested. Umm, let’s see… I had a cold. I gave it to Ryan. I got better, but Ryan’s still hacking. My arms are mad at me for lifting Monday night. They’ll really be screaming at me after I work out tonight. I washed my car yesterday and realized she was silver underneath several layers of road grime. We’re having pot roast for supper, and I’m excited. I’m finally getting my hair cut this week after five months. I forgot my cell phone at home today and feel like I’m missing my left foot or something. It’s odd. I found my missing mitten, which is super exciting. I hate being mitten-less.
Happy Wednesday!


Christmas: Take two

I had a great weekend. Great. Friday after work we buzzed over to my sister’s house in Cedar Rapids just in time to play with my niece for awhile before she went to bed. She’s so much fun. All of us headed to mom and dad’s Saturday morning.
We had a great dinner – thanks to my mom. Afterward we opened presents of course. It was all pretty low key and a good way to wind down the holidays.

Kaitlyn enjoyed playing with Uncle Mike...

We were supposed to get a little freezing rain early that evening so those going back to Cedar Rapids left a little early. Meanwhile Ryan and I hunkered down at my brother’s house playing Wii. I kicked Mike and Ryan’s butt in boxing. (But I’m sore today… how sad is that??) We raced cows too but I think mine was lame. Or maybe it had something to do with all of the hurdles I was running into rather than jumping over. Oops. Ryan and I slid home on icy roads after my cow finally managed to beat him.

Church was cancelled on Sunday morning due to ice, but we drove into town anyway for breakfast. Shortly after we arrived my great aunt and uncle pulled up. So we got to have breakfast with Dean and Grace. They lived just down the road from us growing up. I caught my very first fish in their pond. It was so nice to actually visit with them. I saw them at Brian and Kelly’s wedding, but was so busy I barely said hello.

As I sat at the table visiting with them, I was so appreciative for growing up surrounded by family. My aunt and uncle lived so close to us I rode the bus with my cousins. We went to school with our second cousins. We all played together in the summer. Three sets of great aunts and uncles lived within five miles of our house and visited often. My grandparents were born and raised on farms in our section. And that's not all. There were cousins, aunts and uncles sprinkled across the county.

I'm so thankful I had that opportunity.