Category Archives: A to Z Challenge

Blogging from A to Z Challenge: 2017 Theme Reveal!

Welcome to the Great and Powerful Blogging from A to Z 2017 Theme Reveal!

For those of you who aren’t aware of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge, you can read more about it here:

I’ve been a participant in said challenge since 2014.  Every year I choose a theme, and every year I blog it on the fly.  Will this year be any different?  Probably not, but I can dream!

Before I reveal my 2017 theme, here are themes from challenges past:

  • 2014:  I blogged about our house, and the befores and afters of the renos we did and changes we made after buying it.
  • 2015: I blogged about interesting places in Victoria (all close to home).
  • 2016: I blogged about learning to use my DSLR (the posts of which I should probably revisit, as I seem to have forgotten all that I learned last year…).

And now, my Blogging from A to Z Challenge 2017 Theme!  Drum roll please…..

Welcome to James Bay!

James Bay is the neighbourhood in Victoria where I, Kevin, and our three kitties currently live.  You can read a bit about it here:  Now, I’ve been wanting to do a series of posts about our ‘hood for a couple of years, but have never gotten around to it.  So, no time like the present, eh?

Each posting day in April (26 letters, 26 days) I will offer a post about a street in our neighbourhood, complete with whatever information I can dig up about the street and a few pictures (since, as you all know, I am all about the pictures!).  Maybe I’ll even peruse last year’s posts and use the big girl camera!

See you soon 🙂

A to Z Challenge: Reflections

A-to-Z Reflection [2016]And now, 9 days after the end of the 2016 Great Blogging from A to Z  Challenge, I am ready to reflect briefly on the experience.

This was my third time participating in this challenge, and as usual, I had a great time.  And also as usual, I didn’t spend nearly enough time commenting back on others’ posts.  I did some, don’t get me wrong, and I read a LOT of posts and added a lot of blogs to my Reader, but I didn’t comment as much as I had been intending.  I won’t posts links to any favourite challenge blog sites or individual posts because I enjoyed them all and don’t want to leave anyone out.

As usual as well, I wrote many of my posts on the fly.  I didn’t settle on my final theme, the A to Z of learning how to use my new-old DSLR camera, until the last moment, and kept a day or two ahead of the letters as I went.  That being said, I learned a lot about my camera and had a great time researching and posting bits and pieces of what I was learning.

What did I learn from the challenge itself?  Just that I will absolutely be doing it again next year.  I won’t promise to post in advance or plan more, because in all honesty I know myself enough to know I won’t, but I will try to comment more and let all you wonderful A to Z bloggers out there how much I enjoyed your posts!!

And now, to close, here is one last picture of my DSLR which I am looking forward to continue getting better at using!

My new toy

And, for good measure, a kitty – because that’s what I do!


survivor-atoz [2016] v2



A to Z Challenge: Z is for Zoom

Welcome to today’s post for the great Blogging A to Z Challenge!

Today is Z is for Zoom.

The last post for this year’s Great Blogging from A to Z Challenge!  Can’t believe I made it.  But I have to say, this was a fun challenge that got me using my DSLR so now I’m ready to do more – and I’ll talk a bit more about that when I write my “debrief” post.  And congratulations to everyone who participated in the Challenge this year – I LOVED reading all your posts (and I now have many, many more blogs on my follow list!)

And for today, Z is for Zoom.  Not the supervillain from the Flash TV show, but Zoom as in getting closer to things with your camera without actually getting closer to them!

So, here are some pictures with me zooming in on Elliot.  Note that I should have remember to re-focus and re-set the ISO between each shot…




And after I physically moved closer (since I don’t have a telephoto lens):




But, you can do some cool things with Zoom too.  What do you think of this?

Zoom in


Zoom out


Well, it’s hard to tell what I did here, but you can set you shutter speed slow and then zoom in or out while the picture is being taken.  Obviously something I need to work on.

So, I thought about it more and considered:  what if I picked a subject with an obvious centre and zoomed in on it?  So, I took this:


And did this:


Ok, too bright, so let’s adjust the shutter speed (ISO and aperture were set as perfect as they could be for the light):


Ok, almost there…


Cool, eh?

If you want to try this or other zoom effect, which I do…sometime…, check out



A to Z Challenge: Y is for Yellow Filter

Welcome to today’s post for the great Blogging A to Z Challenge!

Today is Y is for Yellow Filter.

Which is actually my sneaky way of getting Monochrome into the mix while at the same time finding something for Y, which was NOT easy.

There is a setting on my camera (and I imagine on most DSLR cameras, but I don’t want to assume) allowing me to take pictures in monochrome, which technically means “one colour”, but implies grayscale or black and white.

The Yellow Filter upon which this post is based (the letter Y, you know), is defined as follows: “With black and white film, colour filters were used to dictate how different colours in the scene were converted to mono, ensuring the result wasn’t a wash of dull midtones. The monochrome effects on digital SLRs let you recreate these filter effects. Choosing the yellow filter option darkens skies and makes white clouds stand out, while producing natural-looking results.”

Let’s see what happens when I try this out on my camera.

So, on my camera, to set Monochrome, you need to Click the Menu button, and then set the Picture Style to Monochrome.  Then when you take a picture, you get a black and white image.  So, here is an image in Standard colour, then in Black and White.

Colour Monochrome

And here is this same Black and White image with a Yellow Filter setting.  I don’t really see a difference.  Clearly I need some more practice with this…


I know I can also adjust the Yellow Filter in Photoshop Elements, but for the life of me I can’t figure it out right now.  But I’m ok with that, because these posts are about learning the mysteries of the DSLR, not Photoshop!

A to Z Challenge: X is for X-Polarization

Welcome to today’s post for the great Blogging A to Z Challenge!

Today is X is for X-Polarization.

Otherwise known as Cross-Polarization.  Where else am I going to get an “X”??

X-Polarization is a photography technique that involved the use of a filter.  To be specific, a (drum roll please) cross-polarizing filter!

According to, “[p]olarizer filters can be used to enhance contrast and saturation in landscape photography and reduce reflections or glare on shiny surfaces such as water. ”

While the above website shows you many ways to build a polarizer filter thingy (rather than buying one) for your camera, I have neither the patience nor the skill to construct such a thing.  You can see them on the site though.    And you can see some examples of pictures taken using x-polarization at–photo-348.

In the meantime, since I don’t have a polarizing filter, here are some more pictures from my now long-ago vacation…






A to Z Challenge: W is for White Balance

Welcome to today’s post for the great Blogging A to Z Challenge!

Today is W is for White Balance.

According to, “white balance in digital photography means adjusting colors so that the image looks more natural. ”

Because different light sources have different temperatures, they change the colour quality of things.  You probably have noticed how the colour of things looks very different depending on if you are looking at them outside or under fluorescent lights.  That’s white balance in action.  And you can control for this using your camera, or in an editing program like Photoshop afterwards.

On my DSLR, I have the following White Balance settings  (explained at  I have included examples of each where the camera settings are identical (F4.5, Exposure time 1/3 sec, ISO 1600, focal length 32mm), only the White Balance setting has changed.

auto – this is apparently good if you have no idea what you’re doing, which is me, most of the time (not just when taking pictures…)

WhiteBalance-Auto WhiteBalance-Tungsten

daylight – use in, well, the daylight.  But don’t forget to switch back to auto when you move back inside 🙂


shade – warm up outdoor photos in shady areas (that’s what the website says)


cloudy – guess when you use this?


tungsten light – for indoors under regular lightbulbs (called incandescent, but that’s too many words I don’t understand…)


white fluorescent light – I try to avoid fluorescents at all costs, but sometimes you just can’t.


flash – keeps the flash from being too harsh, I think…


custom – I don’t know how to use this.  It sounds complicated, so I think I’ll stick to auto for now…


A to Z Challenge: V is for Viewfinder

Welcome to today’s post for the great Blogging A to Z Challenge!

Today is V is for Viewfinder.

A viewfinder is something I don’t have on my little point and shoot, but do have on my DSLR.  I can only use the LCD display to see what I am going to shoot on the little camera, but can’t use on my DSLR – that’s right.  My new-old DSLR’s LCD screen is only for looking at the pictures AFTER they have been taken.

Of course, it’s hard to take a picture of your viewfinder with the camera the viewfinder is attached to.  So, here are some pictures of my DSLR’s viewfinder and LCD screen taken with the old emPhone.

The viewfinder with the settings showing in the LCD screen below


Here, the LCD screen is blank so we see a nice reflection of the old emPhone!


And here are some views through the viewfinder…

April232016l April232016m


Here’s a nice article explaining the difference between using the viewfinder and the LCD screen (if you have that option!)


A to Z Challenge: U is for Under Exposure

Welcome to today’s post for the great Blogging A to Z Challenge!

Today is U is for Under Exposure.

You will remember that I already talked about Over Exposure ( .  Well, today is Under Exposure.

According to “Underexposure in photography refers to an image where too little light was recorded. The degree of underexposure will determine how dark a photo is.”

So, if you take a picture without enough light, it’s often hard to see anything.  Usually I am guilty of over exposing, but when I am trying things out in the dark, these are typical of my first shots.

underexposure1 underexposure2

You can help the situation with a higher ISO or a flash,

Remember flash?


ISO?  Yes, this is the same bench as above.  Under exposed because the ISO was too low for the first shot.

B-ISO100 B-ISO800

But sometimes darkness is cool.  Kind of spooky, eh?  Could have been spookier I guess…


And these are attempts at contrast.  They would have been cooler had the dark sections been darker, and if the lighter sections had popped more.

underexposure3  underexposure4

Always something to improve upon!

This site has some good tips for when you want (or need) to under expose (your photos) on purpose:

A to Z Challenge: T is for Time Exposure

Welcome to today’s post for the great Blogging A to Z Challenge!

Today is T is for Time Exposure.

Time exposure photography is also called long exposure.  Basically it “involves using a long-duration shutter speed to sharply capture the stationary elements of images while blurring, smearing, or obscuring the moving elements.” (

I know you all have seen pictures like this. You can do this with night photography, you can create what is called “light painting”, where you move a light around in a dark room to create patterns, and you can do cool things with water blurring.

I have never tried pictures like this before.  To do it right, you definitely need a tripod, or something to set your camera on so it doesn’t move.

I’m going to try some light painting.  I need to find something to put the old camera on and will experiment with shutter speeds to see what works best.  I uses a box to put the camera on, and some candles.  It was kind of fun!

1 second exposure


2 seconds exposure


3.2 seconds exposure


Also 3.2 seconds exposure


4 seconds exposure


5 seconds exposure


6 seconds exposure


And finally, 8!!!  8 seconds exposure!!  Bwaaa haa haa haa!!!


Here’s a good tutorial site for light painting:

Want to know more?  This is an excellent tutorial site for time/long exposure photography:

To see some more cool examples of time exposure photography, go to

And here are some great examples of real light painting:

A to Z Challenge: S is for Saturation

Welcome to today’s post for the great Blogging A to Z Challenge!

Today is S is for Saturation.

Saturation has to do with colour.  And you can do a lot with the colour of a photograph in post-production, for example in Photoshop.  According to, “color saturation is used to describe the intensity of color in the image.  A saturated image has overly bright colors. Using a graphics editing program you can increase saturation on under-exposed images, or vise versa.”

And, according to, “Saturation is similar to contrast, however instead of increasing the separation between shadows and highlights, we increase the separation between colors.”

And finally, “Saturation is a uniform bumping up the intensity of all colors in your shot, regardless of the starting point of the colors. This can result in clipping (over saturation of certain colors which results in loss of detail in those areas) and over saturation of skin tones leaving them looking too orange and unnatural.”

Let’s look at a couple of pictures where I increased the saturation in post-production.  Each set of three shows normal, low, and high saturation levels.


Saturation1-lowsaturation   Saturation1-highsaturation


Saturation2-lowsaturation Saturation2-highsaturation


Saturation3-lowsaturation  Saturation3-highsaturation

And I can actually change the saturation by using camera settings, so let’s see what happens here.

Lowest saturation setting:


Highest saturation setting:



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