Feb 282014

Three Vases ©2014 April Siegfried

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Sunlight changes so quickly. This moment made me stop, and then run for my camera—adjusting settings on the fly. There was no time for a tripod setup.

On first review, I was dismayed to see that even at f11—the best exposure I could capture handheld—focus on the foreground vases was soft. Then I realized what actually caught my eye was the background shadow and light, and that is sharp. Yes!

This camera has been my best friend for 6 years now, and is showing some signs of age. I know it so well I can shoot without thinking, and it’s going to be hard to move to a new system. However, the Fuji XT-1 sounds very appealing and would bring me full circle to my first love affair with digital: Fujifilm FinePix E900 (dating back to 2006). I still have that one, though it was re-purposed for a “shoebox camera” in 2009.


Nikon D300; 1/15 sec @ f11, ISO 3200 (handheld);
18-200 mm f/3.5–5.6 @ 112mm (168mm EFL); focus distance 1.5m

Feb 252014

Snowbound ©2014 April Siegfried

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Chicago has officially topped the 5 foot mark for snowfall this winter…so far. We’ve also “enjoyed” 19 days of sub-zero temperatures, with more just ahead and high temperatures running 30°(F) below normal.

Even so, when I do decide to bundle up and venture out, this winter is quite striking and beautiful.

Nikon D300; 1/500 sec @ f11, ISO 200 (handheld);
18-200 mm f/3.5–5.6 @ 200mm (300mm EFL); focus distance 3.76m

Feb 032014

Slush №1

Slush №1
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Panasonic DMC-FZ40; f3 @ 1/60 sec, ISO 100 (handheld);
Focal length: 6.1mm (35mm EFL)

Slush №2

Slush №2
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Panasonic DMC-FZ40; f4.5 @ 1/125sec, ISO 80 (handheld);
Focal length: 12.6mm (70mm EFL)

Walking in Chicago winters, I spend a lot of time looking down.

Jan 272014

Frost №4 (January 2014)

Frost №4 (January 23, 2014 @ 10:11 AM)
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A handheld series photographed one morning in changing light. During the (first) incursion of the Polar Vortex this January, Chicago’s daytime temperatures were -14F. Though we “should” insulate a few windows, I did enjoy their frost patterns from indoors.

Nikon D300 with 18-200 mm f/3.5–5.6 lens;
1/45–1/125 sec @ f11 to f16, ISO 200–640 (handheld)

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Jan 192014

Five Eggs

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I do not enjoy winter. But! I do enjoy cooking winter comfort food. These were waiting for a Crustless Spinach Quiche last night:

Ingredients (for 6 servings)

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 10-ounce package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed to remove as much moisture as possible
  • 5 eggs
  • 3/4 lb. Muenster cheese (or Monterey Jack), grated
  • salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 350F, and butter a 9-inch pie plate.

Heat oil in skillet on medium-high heat. Add onion and saute until wilted. Add spinach; cook until excess moisture is evaporated. Let cool.

Beat eggs in a bowl. Add cheese. Stir in onion-spinach mixture, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Bake until top is nicely browned and tester comes out clean, 40-45 minutes.

Nikon D300; 1/45 sec @ f11, ISO 560 (handheld);
18-200 mm f/3.5–5.6 @ 52mm (78mm EFL); focus distance .5m

Jan 022014

Happy New Year! ©2013 April Siegfried

Photographed (looking up) at O’Hare International Airport on December 24 while travelling to visit my mother for Christmas, this scene struck me as light and joyful—exactly the way I was feeling.

Wishing you many delightful moments in the coming year!

Panasonic DMC-FZ40; 1/60 sec @ f3.4, ISO 160 (handheld);
Focal length: 17.20mm (95mm EFL)

Nov 042013

Unlovely ©2013 April Siegfried

Referring to her nineteen month old toddler, Alexandra Horowitz writes: “He was blessed with the ability to admire the unlovely. Or, I should say, he was blessed with the inability to feel that there is a difference between lovely and un-.”—On Looking, Eleven Walks with Expert Eyes

Nikon D300; 1/45 sec @ f11, ISO 2500 (handheld);
18-200 mm f/3.5–5.6 @ 75mm (112mm EFL)

Oct 272013

Cloudplay №10 (Mirrored) ©2013 April Siegfried

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Just the other day, shortly after sunrise, the waves of Lake Michigan were washing high over beaches near my home. Storm clouds reflected briefly in the backwash, before disappearing into the sand.

My first inclination, with so many beautiful images right in front of me, was to dive in and start shooting with the hope of capturing as many as possible. It soon became clear, however, that a scattershot approach wasn’t going to work. I was only getting frustrated.

Stop; breathe. What am I really seeing? Where? What shutter speed and aperture would best express that? Will I be satisfied with the ISO required to do so?

In landscape or nature photography, I always feel the pressure of time because conditions change so quickly. The scenes in this case were especially fleeting, never to recur in quite the same way again. Once I took a little time to just look and think about the technical questions, then I was able to slow down and perceive what was happening—ready to shoot when it did.

Nikon D300; 1/180 sec @ f16, ISO 720 (handheld);
18-200 mm f/3.5–5.6 @ 26mm (39mm EFL); focus distance 3.76m

Oct 252013

Paint №3{click image to view large}

While our cat Sassafras was at her “spa” for grooming, I went out walking with my camera in the Andersonville area of Chicago. It’s a colorful Swedish neighborhood, with unusual shops and restaurants, outdoor seating and huge urns filled with flowers in bloom. Surely I could find something to photograph.

For some reason, though, I felt overwhelmed and couldn’t “see” anything. So, I decided to travel the alleys where it might be quieter with less distraction.

About a half-hour into that exploration, I (finally!) came across a garage door of peeling paint, each rectangular panel filled with fascinating patterns in green and orange. This image is one of my favorites.

Nikon D300; 1/250 sec @ f11, ISO 200 (handheld);
18-200 mm f/3.5–5.6 @ 70mm (105mm EFL); focus distance 1.0m

Oct 172013

October 8th ©2013 by April Siegfried

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I cannot remember what I was intending to do when I walked through our living room and was stopped by this scene. “Where is my camera?!”

At this particular time of year and hour, on a sunny day, light plays through the windows of our home to create artwork on the walls that I could never imagine. 

Nikon D300; 1/20 sec @ f11, ISO 3200 (handheld);
18-200 mm f/3.5–5.6 @ 50mm (75mm EFL); focus distance 3.16m