Along the fence

Copyright © 2013 Deborah M Zajac. All Rights ReservedAlong the fence in Spring
Another photo from my outing with Rene and Rainey last week-end. I love nature’s bouquets. Here there is Lupine, California Poppies, Common Owl’s Clover, and Fiddle-necks.

The bees were buzzing around here, and the day was warm. The cloud cover really made the colors pop by diffusing the light a bit.  This is my favorite time of year in California when all the hills are green and colorful.

Nikon D700| Nikkor 1735@ 25mm| f14| 1/160sec| ISO 200| Manual Priority| Matrix metering| Single Servo AF| Tripod



“It’s all I have to bring today.” ~Emily Dickinson

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Copyright © 2013 Deborah M Zajac. All Rights Reserved

Playing with my food again. Here’s the whole poem that Emily Dickinson wrote:

It’s all I have to bring today

Be sure you count should I forget
Some one the sum could tell –
This, and my heart, and all the Bees
Which in the Clover dwell.

Nikon D700| Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 @ f4| 1/200s| ISO 320| Manual Priority| Tripod| SB600 camera Left triggered with camera flash unit



Testing the 24-70mm f2.8G ED AF-S Nikkor lens

Testing the 24-70mm f2.8G ED AF-S Nikkor lens

Testing the focus point, Bokeh, and filter threads with this shot. There won’t be charts and graphs in my testing. I’m just shooting still life, and portraits now. It handled the Canon 500D filter beautifully, and it went on the lens front without a problem.  The focus seems to be dead on, and I’m really liking the smooth Bokeh.

I bought this lens used. I’m getting a little braver with my used lens purchases you see, this was my first private purchase. My 2 previous used lens purchases were from a store. Although this purchase was a bit scarier I have a cushion. It was purchased from a friend of friend, and I do have a short window that the seller is allowing me test it and return it if it’s not as described.

If you’ve never purchased a used lens before you might want to start with a store like I did. When you venture into purchasing from a private seller there are some things you should ask upfront, and look for when you get the lens.

You’ll want to know the condition of the lens, why it’s being sold, has it ever been serviced, if so why? Does it come with the original caps, hood, packaging, and booklet?

Work out the price, shipping method, and terms, and find out about the return policy.

Once you get the lens look for cosmetic blemishes, look for scratches on the front and rear elements, scratches on the rear element are bad, small blemishes on the front element won’t hurt picture quality, make sure the blades don’t stick, look through the lens with a flashlight make sure there isn’t dust, and fungus,  or oil on the blades and look through both front and rear with the flashlight.

Make sure the switches work with ease,  looking at the rubber around the zoom ring, and focus ring  make sure it is secure and in good condition, and turns smoothly. Put a filter on it to make sure the threads are in good shape.  When you’re handling the lens there shouldn’t be anything rattling. The mount will most likely have some scratches or wear from mounting and removing it from a camera, but it should be solid and the pins should look clean.

When you get it on the camera make sure it doesn’t squeak, or make any unusual noises, gauge response and handling when zooming, and acquiring focus. Take both Auto-focus and Manual photos.  Take a variety of photos at all apertures, indoors and out. Then look at your photos and examine the quality of the photos.

I still need to get outdoors and shoot a landscape or two, and do some night photography to see how it handles flare, and lights to complete my tests, but so far I’m really liking what I’m seeing. It has handled everything I’ve shot very well.

Nikon D700| Nikkor 24-70 f2.8G ED AF-S Nikkor| SB600

“It is the sweet, simple things in life which are the real ones after all.” Laura Ingalls Wilder

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Copyright © 2012 Deborah M. Zajac. All Rights Reserved.

Nikon D700| Nikkor 70-300mm vr


Christmas Dinner

Copyright © 2012 Deborah M. Zajac. All Rights Reserved.

We had a lovely Christmas. We slept til 8:00 AM which was so nice. When the kids were little they were up well before dawn poking around. This year my daughter, son-in-law, and new Grandson spent the night with my son-in-law’s  parents so they arrived at our house mid-morning. We opened presents, had breakfast and spent the rest of the morning/afternoon being slugs.

I was off the hook for dinner this year. We were invited to my son-in-law’s parents for dinner. I only needed to take dessert. Easy! I took a pumpkin pie, and apple pie. They were a nice end to Marilyn’s fabulously delicious Italian dinner…I should say feast.

When we arrived Marilyn had the table laid; it was festive, and reminded me of my Mother’s Christmas table setting.

Marilyn's Christmas Table

There were before dinner hors d’oeuvres. My favorite was a Corn dip. I don’t know what besides corn is in it, but it’s really good. I need to get the recipe. We ate it with tortilla chips:

Corn Dip

Little Jaxon made the rounds meeting some relatives for the first time since coming home. Here is he with his Great Uncle Don, and Great Aunt Steph.  Jaxon is in for a lot of good times and laughs when Uncle Don is around. He’s funny!

The Greatest Aunt Steph and Uncle Don

Aunt Rhianna, Uncle Ben, and cousin Maci were there too:

Copyright © 2012 Deborah M. Zajac. All Rights Reserved.

Jaxon eventually made it back to his Mommy, and his Daddy was nearby.

John Allie and Jaxon Christmas 2012

The aromas emanating from Marilyn’s kitchen were making my stomach rumble.  There’s nothing like a home filled with the great aromas of a home cooked meal about to be served. On the menu were:

Lamb Osso bucco, Chicken cacciatore, a spinach salad with pecans, and pomegranate, all tossed with a light dressing,  fresh steamed broccoli on the side, and no Italian meal is complete without pasta. It was paired nicely with a Cabernet Sauvignon or a Moscato wine.  Oh, and Mother’s milk for Jaxon.

Both the chicken and the lamb were so tender; they fell off the bone at the slightest touch of a fork tine.

Marilyn's Chicken Cacciatore

Lamb Osso Bucco, Chicken and Pasta

Our lovely Hostess Marilyn:

Marilyn_0829Thank you so much for a wonderful meal, great conversation, and your warm hospitality! I’ll be dieting the rest of the week.

Marilyn, I’m serious, come for New Year’s Dinner and share our family tradition with us!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas, and were blessed to spend it with those you love.

Nikon D700| Nikkor 50mm AF-D| SB600 Speedlight

Women’s Fashion of the Times…Dickens Time that is

Copyright © 2012 Deborah M. Zajac. All Rights Reserved.

I was fascinated with the women’s hats, dresses, and hair styles that I saw at the Dickens Fair. There were several different styles of dresses, and bonnets, and the hair styles were either pinned up at the back in a chignon with a loose ringlet or two framing the face, or curled in ringlets and pinned up with the ringlets hanging freely at the back of the head from the crown to the nape of the neck.

Hats, hairstyles, and dresses in the early Victorian era changed at a much slower pace than we’re used today. Unlike today’s seasonal fashion changes, hats and hairstyles only changed about every decade during the Victorian Era.

Black and white feather bonnet

In the late 1830’s the “Great hat” gave way to smaller brimmed bonnets,

Woman in Blue Bonnet

and over time more ornate trim like ribbons, feathers, and flowers were added…

Woman in the Red Ornate Bonnet

Ornately trimmed bonnets stayed in vogue for 50 years, but by 1890 were not worn much.

Women’s dresses changed at about the same pace. Skirts got much bigger requiring more petticoats, and hoops, the sleeves got slimmer, and women wore corsets with boning to keep the bodice from folding horizontally, and to emphasize a small waist.

Unique Corsetry

In the 1840’s the shawl made a comeback;  it was larger and could be used as shoulder wrap.

Woman in Black Bonnet with Shawl

In 1856 The Crinoline Cage Frame was patented by W.S. Thompson.  At least 6 petticoats were needed to hold the wide skirts out.  Petticoats were made of cotton, flannel or wool, and could weigh up to 14 pounds! Can you imagine wearing that much fabric in the summer?

Women sitting full skirt lace cap

Another big advancement in 1856 was the discovery by William Perkin of Coal Tar Aniline Dyes.

While experimenting with coal tar extracts he discovered Mauveine. It’s a bright purple dye. Once in the lab and synthesized it radically changed the textile industry. New colors of dyes like magenta and brilliant blue were soon on the market.

The majority of fashions I saw while at the Dickens Fair were from the decades of 1830-1850 I believe.

Here’s a few more Bonnets and head coverings I saw…

I think these two were in a more ordinary mode of dress…dressed for work perhaps, or for running errands, and they have a foreign look about them.

Women in Knit caps

In work attire, and cap,

In the Bakery… a widow, or Dowager perhaps,

Woman in Black Bonnet

… I should have asked her what she does for a living in Dickens London.

She was just chillin

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