Great Books Link Party!

July 31st, 2012

Don’t we all love to get lost in a great book?  I’m still old school, preferring to hold the pages in my hands, but my latest obsession with the iPad has me rethinking that habit, especially the convenience of a lighted screen at night after Matt falls asleep (since my favorite thing to do before I fall asleep is read!!)

I struggled with what book to write about today, then turned to the classic that sits on my bookshelf – what I call my “vacation” book – the one I like to tote along with me when I take a few days off.  But of course!  Have you read Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s Gift From the Sea ?  The author was a mother of five and the wife of the famous Charles Lindbergh, she also became a pilot herself and led quite an adventurous life.  The book was originally published back in 1955, but I’m still amazed at how the author’s reflections ring true today!

 

I discovered this book ten years ago in a little beach boutique in San Diego, and it had such an impact on me, I try to reread it every year.  Lindbergh gives a thoughtful perspective that reflects on the often overwhelming commitments and everyday demands placed on women in the modern home.  The most interesting parts are her analogies of life’s complex issues and relationships to shells found along the beach, an association I’d never make on my own but done so articulately in the 120 pages.

It was written while Anne took a beach vacation alone and away from her family.  The book pulls you to a quiet place, insisting you exist as you read it as if part of the rhythmic tide of the ocean.  I love her perspective on the ‘circus act’ women perform in our everyday lives, between children, keeping up the household, our work, and our volunteer efforts.  It places real value on moments spent alone in order to feed the soul, and the importance of time spent resisting the pressures of the world and being inwardly attentive.   It analyzes our female instinct to give of ourselves to others, but how necessary it is to take moments for ourselves so we can give with purpose.  It offers reflections on marriage and sister relationships that are heartfelt, poignant, and meaningful.

There are so many quotes in the book that I love, here are three I underlined:

“I shall ask into my shell only those friends with whom I can be completely honest.  I find I am shedding the hypocrisy in human relationships… the most exhausting thing in life, I have discovered, is being insincere.”  (Chapter 2)   Do you/we waste too much time invested in false relationships? 

“I believe that true identity is found by going into one’s own ground and knowing oneself.  It is found in creative activity springing from within.  It is found, paradoxically, when one loses oneself.  Woman can best refind herself by losing herself in some kind of creative activity of her own.”  (Chapter 4)  Yes, yes, how true that fulfillment often comes from tapping into our creativity!

“One cannot collect all the beautiful shells on the beach. One can only collect at few, and they are more beautiful if they are few.”  (Chapter 7)   Just like we should not collect too many material possessions in our homes… the focus should be keeping it simple and meaningful.

If you haven’t read it, I recommend picking it up, especially for the next time you take a few days off.  For all those who’ve read it, what did you love about Gift From The Sea

Time to share your latest book – link up your reviews!

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Experimenting with Focal Length

July 30th, 2012

I’ve been focused (ha!) on my photography lately, trying to improve even more and one of the things I’ve been studying is focal length.  I’m learning that not only do aperture, shutter speed, and ISO settings matter, but millimeters do too.  All digital camera lenses have a mm setting assigned to them, some are fixed (50mm or 35mm) others are zoom.  The assigned millimeters are the mathematical definition for the distance between the lens and image sensor (focal length), but in everyday language, just know that the number determines from how close or far away you can capture a subject with a particular lens.

10-24mm is a wide angle which allows you to pull back and capture full room shots, architecture, or larger landscapes. I have a Tamron wide angle and I love it.  Most kit lenses that come with a DSLR camera are in the 18-55mm range.  Telephotos go all the way up to 600mm or higher and allow you to zoom in from far away – they’re great for capturing sports or wildlife, and I’ve always wanted to play with one!

Last spring, my little boy played baseball and one of the moms was snapping pictures with a giant telephoto lens and she was able to capture some fun closeups of the team in action from far away, so I struck up a conversation with her – I do that with photographers, I’m fascinated by the fancy equipment and lenses!  Turns out, she’s not a professional photographer at all, it’s her hobby and she had rented the lens to take pictures of her son.   Okay wow, renting lenses?  Sounds like a great idea!

A few months went by and I eventually decided to try it out for myself.  I used Borrow Lenses* to rent this 70-300mm zoom Nikkor lens and picked it up at a local shop (there are several pickup locations in California) to play around for the first time with a telephoto lens.

We headed out to Bodega on Saturday for our favorite clam chowder stop and for me to test out this lens.  The clarity is slightly compromised since these are .jpgs but here’s an image taken from the hill above with the 18-55mm kit lens that came with my Nikon D90.

I switched the lens to the 70-300mm telephoto and zoomed in – the shot of the dock and seagulls got a little more dynamic!

 

Sometimes the kit lens captured exactly what I wanted – these boats along the water are a gorgeous scene, I actually like this image better than the zoom.

Switching again, I was able to use the borrowed telephoto to zoom in on the waterfront homes across the bay.

 

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