Showing posts with label mbgphoto. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mbgphoto. Show all posts

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Reviewing Grill Mat


I love to cook out on my deck using my gas grill.  For Christmas I received a pair of grill mats that have made grilling and cleanup so much easier.  These mats are sold in sets of two and can be cut to fit any size grill.  They are also good on any kind of grill.  So, whether you have a charcoal, propane, gas or electric grill you will  want to check out these handy mats.

As you can see in the photo above I put my entire meal on the grill mat.  In the photo above I have hamburgers and a variety of vegetables.  No extra pots or pans needed, just my easy to clean grill mat.

When we are finished eating and the grill has cooled down, I bring the grill mat inside and wash it off with sudsy water in the sink.  It cleans very easily and is quickly ready for use the next time I grill.


Why I Love My New Grill Mat


  • Cook entire meal at one time
  • Vegetables and fruit will not fall through grill slats
  • Easy to use, no preparation needed
  • Food will not stick to mat
  • Very easy cleanup 
  • I no longer need to clean the grill
  • Mat can also double as baking mat
Be sure to click on the link below to buy your own grill mat.  You will love how easy it is to use and maintain.



                                                                   



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Thursday, March 28, 2019

Reviewing Crystal Photography Ball


For Christmas, I received a Crystal Photography Ball.  These balls have become quite popular with photographers and  I was anxious to get one and try it out.  The great thing about these balls is that they are a fun way to try different techniques with your photography no matter what type of camera you use.  When I got mine for Christmas my  nephew tried it out with his iPhone with wonderful results.  So whether you use a DSLR, a mirrorless camera, a point and shoot or even a camera phone try out a photography ball to add some new interest to your photos.

Taking Photos with a Crystal Photography Ball

I have found that it takes a bit of practice to get used to shooting with the photography ball, but with a bit of practice you can get some interesting shots.

Here are a few tips that may  help you.

  • Try using a wide angle lens and get close to the ball.
  • For landscapes you may want to try a zoom lens.
  • Be sure to focus on the image in the ball
  • Be careful not to use the ball too long in bright sunlight...you could get burned from the reflection.
  • Take care to keep your  ball free of fingerprints.  Bring a cleaning cloth with you.
  • There are lots of tutorials on You Tube.  Take a look at a few to get additional ideas.



Editing Photos

One of the first things you will notice when  you look at the photos you have taken is that the image in the ball is upside down.  There are several things you can do in editing to correct this.

  • The easiest solution is to simply flip the entire image as you can see I have done in this image.  This works particularly well when the background is blurry and you have lights in the background.  Here is one of my first photos with the photography ball.

  • Another solution would be to add a textured background to the photo.  I did that in the photo at the beginning of this post, where I added a fire background to the candle in the ball.
  • A third solution is to flip just the ball in Photoshop or a similar program.  I have not quite mastered that technique yet, but you can find lots of videos on YouTube to take you through that process.


Some of My Favorite Crystal Ball Images

Here are a few more images I have taken with my crystal ball. These are some that I took while on a trip to Jupiter, Florida.  I still have a lot to learn, but I love the challenge.




Purchasing a Photography Ball

A crystal photography ball can be rather inexpensive.  Here is one like the one I have with a clear stand and a pouch to keep it.
                                                             


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Thursday, March 14, 2019

Review of Sony A6300 Mirrorless Camera






For my birthday my husband bought me a new Sony Mirrorless camera.  I was looking for something lightweight to use when I traveled. But I wanted the same capabilities of my Sony SLR. I had been hearing about the mirrorless cameras from fellow photographers and at a meeting last fall we had a speaker at our photo club that introduced us to mirrorless cameras and I was sold.  A mirrorless camera combines the best of a DSLR(Digital Single Lens Reflex) camera and a lightweight compact body.  It has the features of the DSLR without the mirrors which makes it a lightweight camera without sacrificing the quality.



Features of A6300

There are many features that I enjoy on the Sony A6300.  Here are just a few of the ones that are important to me.
  • 100-25,600 ISO range allowing you to take great photos even in low light settings.
  • 4D focus systems which quickly locks in on your subject, helping to take crisp clear photos.
  • Continuous shooting at up to 11fps(frames per second)
  • WiFi, NFC, QR codes for easy file transfer
  • Tiltable 3inch LCD screen that tilts up or down for capturing high and low framing
  • An eyepiece cup that helps me to see clearly what I am photographing.
  • Settings that allow you to shoot in Auto, Scene, Full Manual and everything in between.
  • Movies in 4K movie recording

                                                               


Learning to Use A6300

I am finding the A6300 very easy to use.  Most of the features are similar to my DSLR so the learning curve was very easy.  My husband bought me two lenses to go with my new camera a wide angle 16-55 and a telephoto in the 55-210 range.

The photo below was taken during a cloudy day in a room with no lights turned on.  I love the way the camera handles low light situations.  For this photo I just set the camera to aperture priority F7.0 and shot away.  The colors came out perfect with no adjustment needed.

On a recent trip to Florida, I was able to photograph birds at the pier with my new camera.  In order to get some nice closeup shots I put on my 55-210 zoom lens.  In this closeup of a brown colored pigeon I again used aperture priority and a F6.3 setting.  I love the sharp photo, great colors and blurred background.

For photographs using my photography ball, I switched to a wider angle lens 16-55 mm. I again used aperture priority and was able to capture Jupiter lighthouse in my ball.





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Thursday, February 28, 2019

Review of Woodpecker Facts and Photography

                                                                         Downy Woodpecker

I have been fascinated by woodpeckers for a long time, but I didn't realize there were so many different types of woodpeckers.  This year I purchased a peanut feeder for my backyard.  When I started to see different types of woodpeckers using the feeder I checked out information about woodpeckers  both online and in my Backyard Birds guide.  In this post I will show you photos and facts about the four types of woodpeckers that have visited my backyard.


Northern Flicker

The Northern Flicker is a very handsome bird.  It has a brown back with black bars and a very distinct crescent of black on the chest. In flight the white rump is very conspicuous.  

These woodpeckers usually forage on the ground for food, but I have also seen them at my suet feeders.

Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpeckers are the most common ones that I see in my backyard.  They visit year round and are fairly small birds.  These small tubular looking woodpeckers are very delicate looking.  They have crisp black and white plumage and the males have a red patch toward the back of the head.  They have a larger look-alike cousin the Hairy Woodpecker.

Red-Bellied Woodpecker

The Red-Bellied Woodpecker is a large bird with zebra type stripes across the back.  The red belly is really just a pink tinge across the white chest.  The really red part is on the head.  The male has a bright red cap that extends from the bill all the way down the nape.  The female is similar to the male except that the red cap is only in the  nape area.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

I have only seen this bird one day in my yard.  I was able to capture photos from several angles and posted it on birding sites.  The consensus was that it is a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.  My bird book says that I probably caught it on its' migration south.

These birds are rather large woodpeckers with a striped face pattern and a long white slash on the wing.  The male has a red throat and forecrown.  The female has white throat and red fore crown, so I would say the photo above is a male Yellow-bellied woodpecker.


Feeders for  Woodpeckers

I have two types of feeders that I use to attract woodpeckers.  The first is a cage like feeder that I fill with suet cakes.  You can see a Northern Flicker enjoying a suet cake in the photo below.
This type of feeder is also visited by several other types of birds.

This year I purchased a peanut feeder and it has been very popular with both woodpeckers and nuthatches.  This feeder is filled with unshelled peanuts and it is fun to watch the birds peck away till they get the nut out of the shell.  This keeps them at the feeder longer and helps me to capture them with my camera.  Below is a Red Breasted Nuthatch that visited the peanut feeder.

I purchased my peanut feeder on Amazon.  You can get your own by following the link below.
                                                           




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Thursday, February 14, 2019

Review of Bluebird Facts and Photography


I have long been a fan of Bluebirds but until this year I have not been able to  capture any photographs that I really liked.  During a very cold spell in January a group of Bluebirds visited our backyard and I was able to capture some nice photos.  I had a camera set up on a tripod in front of our glass doors and I snapped away as the Bluebirds checked out our feeding spots.  For those interested I am using a Sony A57 with a Tamron150-600 lens.  My camera is set to A (aperture mode) and I'm using a 6.5 aperture in most of these photos.



Eastern Bluebird Identification

These birds are small thrush type birds with a round head and big belly.

Male Bluebirds

The male Bluebirds are particularly bright in color as you can see in the photo above.  They have a bright blue colored head and back along with their tail feathers.  Their throat and chest are a bright rusty color.

Female Bluebirds

Female Bluebird

The female bluebirds have the same color pattern as the males and they are a similar size, however their coloring is much more subdued.  Their head appears an almost grayish color as you can see in the photo above.

Juvenile Bluebirds

The juvenile Bluebirds have spotting on their backs and chests and some blue
beginning in their wings and chests.

Feeding Behavior and Diet


From spring to early fall the Bluebirds diets consist of mainly insects.  In the winter they rely mainly on fruits.  As you can see in the photo above they will also resort to seeds in the winter.

I have found that if I do not clean out my flower containers after blooming season the Bluebirds and other birds like to rummage through the dead plants.


Nesting

Although Bluebirds will use a nest box they also like holes in old trees, particularly old woodpecker nests.  They fill their nests with grass and other plant material.  A Bluebird usually lays 4-5 eggs and they are inculpated by the female for 11-19 days.  The fledgling birds leave the nest in about 19 days.

References

I gathered my information from several online sources as well as from my book Backyard Guide to the Birds.  Here are my references.
  • allaboutbirds.org/guide
  • Audubon.org
  • wild-bird-watching.com

                                              



Zazzle Products from my Photos





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Thursday, January 24, 2019

Reviewing Dryer Balls







During the Christmas holidays, I was washing a batch of sheets when one family left and another would be staying in the guest room.  I was frustrated because the sheets tangled in the dryer and didn't get dry in the middle.  My daughter was observing this and said "Mom, haven't you tried dryer balls.  They work great to keep things from tangling in the dryer and your clothes get dry faster."  

I had never heard of dryer balls before, but thanks to my thoughtful daughter a bag of the balls were delivered to my house 3 days later.

Features of Dryer Balls

  • Great for people with sensitive skin.  Non-toxic and Hypoallergenic
  • Reduce wrinkles and drying time
  • Eco-friendly way to soften laundry
  • No more tangled laundry
  • Good for 1000-2000 loads
  • Reduce need to iron clothes
  • Minimizes clothes damage and lengthens clothes life
I have been using the balls since I received them.  The bag came with 6 balls so the will last for years.  I put 2-3 balls in each small to medium load of wash and 3-4 balls in a large load.  I am very pleased with the results.


Buy Your Own Dryer Balls

Here is a link to the dryer balls like the ones I use.


                                                                       


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Thursday, December 27, 2018

Photographing Christmas in Historic St. Charles


One of my favorite Christmas outings is a walk down Main  Street in downtown St Charles, Missouri.  This charming town was built on the banks of the Missouri river.  I wrote about this town in a previous post World Wide Photo Walk
In that post you see the town decked out in their fall décor.

In this post I will give you a brief history of the town and then share my photos taken during early December.

A Brief History of St. Charles

Here is a few of the highlights of St. Charles history. If you'd like to know more, check out the link below.

  • Founded in 1769 by French-Canadian fur trader Louis Blanchette
  •  In 1804 on the banks of the Missouri river, Lewis and Clark met here to begin their westward expedition.
  • In 1818 Saint Philippine Duchesne established first free girls school west of the Mississippi.
  • Between 1821-1826 St. Charles served as Missouri's first capital.
  • Today it is a destination for over one million visitors each year.
https://www.discoverstcharles.com/about/history/


Conservatory for Weddings


Before we started our walk  down Main Street we stopped by the Conservatory a greenhouse turned into a wedding venue.  It was my first visit and I found it a delightful setting for small weddings.  Below is a shot looking toward the front of the greenhouse.


Photos from our Walk down the Historic Streets

After visiting the Conservatory  we proceeded down Main Street to photograph the historic buildings in their Christmas décor.  I was especially drawn to the windows and doors as you can see in the photos below.






Zazzle Products from Main Street Photos




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Thursday, December 13, 2018

Review of Hot Drink for the Holidays

Hot Holiday Punch Recipe Postcard
by mbgphoto 

Hot Drink for Cold Days

I love to entertain during the holiday season. When my guests come in from a cold winters evening a cup of hot holiday punch will make them feel warm and festive.

Over the years I have experimented with several combinations for hot drinks and have ended up using this one for the past ten years or so.  It has just the right blend of juices and spices and is great with or without alcohol added.  I always serve the alcohol on the side and let the guest decide how much to add or not.

Hot Holiday Punch

Ingredients


  • 1 Jar (48 oz) cranberry juice 
  • 1 can (46 ox) unsweetened pineapple juice
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 3/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 3 sticks cinnamon
  • one orange cut into slices

Instructions

Combine all ingredients in large crockpot and heat.  I put a decanter of rum nearby for those who would like to add a bit of liquor.

At the beginning of this page I added a link to a recipe card for the punch that you can purchase on Zazzle.

Mugs for Hot Drinks

Here are some festive mugs I found on Zazzle.
The first one can be personalized with your name.

Watercolor Pine Tree Joyeux Noel Espresso Cup
I wish you a very Merry Christmas and a festive holiday season!!




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Thursday, November 22, 2018

Photographing Plymouth Harbor









Happy Thanksgiving from the staff of Review This.  Today's post is a bit of history and photography from the site of the first Thanksgiving.

Plymouth Massachusetts is a delightful harbor town on the shores of Cape Cod Bay. It is located 40 miles south of Boston.  I'd like to share some of my photos of the harbor with you but first let's review a bit of the history of this historic town.  

History of Plymouth

The colony of Plymouth (first called Plimouth) was established in late 1620 when the Mayflower landed in this area on the shores of Cape Cod Bay.  These early settlers from England were called Pilgrims and had embarked on the new country to escape the religious beliefs of the Church of England.  

They landed in Cape Cod in December and were not prepared to handle the harsh New England winters.  Their first year was very rough and they survived with the help of friendly Indians.  After surviving the first year they had a celebration to thank God for protecting them during the first year.  This celebration is considered the First Thanksgiving Feast.

Photograph of Plymouth Harbor Today

As I walked along this historic harbor I was struck by all the little everyday features of this small town.  Yes, there are the tourist attractions like Plymouth Rock (really only a rock engraved with 1620) and other sites of interest throughout the town, but I wanted to concentrate my photography on the features of the harbor and the docks.

Here are a few of the photos the depict the harbor on the June afternoon when I visited.  It includes a replica paddleboat for tourists along with items that represent the lobster trade that is popular today.






Zazzle Products from  my Photos





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