why I love my olympus.

First things first, the winner of the milk paint giveaway is Vicki Bougie.  Congrats Vicki!  And thanks so much to everyone who left a comment.  You all have so many great projects lined up, I just wish I could send milk paint to all of you!

OK, so I’m not a techie person, let’s just get that straight right up front.  I rarely have the patience to sit down and learn the ins and outs of a new device.  I’ve never loaded a single app on my phone.  And I should probably spend a little more time tweaking the design of my blog.  But all in all, I’d much rather be painting furniture.

That being said, I do occasionally force myself to try and learn more about my photography equipment so I can take good photos of the aforementioned painted furniture.

Today I thought I’d share an update regarding the camera I purchased back in September since I promised to report back on how I like it.  For those of you with absolutely no interest in camera equipment, this is the point where you should go do something more interesting with your time.

For the rest of you, the camera I purchased is an Olympus OM-D E-M10 mirrorless camera and I paid $399 for it.  If you want to refresh your memory regarding why I made this choice or what a mirrorless camera is, go back and read the post.  It’s OK.  I’ll wait.

This is a great little camera in a decent price range.  If you want a little more than just the camera on your phone or a simple point and shoot, this camera is a great step up.

 Here’s why I love it.

the size.

Whoever said ‘size doesn’t matter’ would be just plain wrong when it comes to having a camera that you want to carry around with you.  The Olympus OM-D is just so much smaller and lighter than my Canon Rebel (which is a DSLR camera).  This is one of the major pros to a mirrorless camera.

 I can throw it in my regular purse without having to switch to a larger bag.  If you don’t want to carry a big bag of gear around, this is a great feature.  Just to give you an idea of the size I took a photo of it on my Salvage Style book because I thought that would put it into perspective for many of you.

In comparison, here is my Canon with the Tamron lens that I normally use.

I’ve found that I’m much more likely to throw the Olympus in my bag when taking a day trip somewhere, like when we went looking for bald eagles back in March.  Even though I don’t have much of a zoom lens on the Olympus, I find that it takes such good quality photos that I can crop my photos with photo editing software later to ‘zoom in’ on my subject.  That’s how I got so ‘close’ to this eagle.

the touch screen shooting.

I totally underestimated how much I would love using the touch screen, especially when I want to redirect the camera’s focus.  Here’s how that works, the LCD screen displays the image you’re about to take and to choose the spot where you want the camera to focus you just touch the screen there.  The camera focuses and takes the shot with just one touch, no need to depress the shutter release button.

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about.  In this first photo I touched the screen over the vintage tablecloth in the foreground.

And here is that same shot, only this time I touched the screen over the bread box.

 Is that slick or what?  It’s something that I use really frequently.  When taking photos for the blog I often want to focus on a specific spot that isn’t centered in the shot, such as the drawer pull on this dresser …

With my Canon I have to reset the focal point, and then change it back every time, requiring multiple button pushes.  With the Olympus I can take unlimited photos one after the other with different focal points by just touching the screen in a different spot for each.

the LCD display.

I really like the LCD display more than I thought I would as well.  I’m a little embarrassed to admit the reason, but here it is.  I can take photos without having to remove my reading glasses!  I can see how my photo is composed, I can see all kinds of settings around the perimeter of the screen including a histogram, and then I can take the shot without have to take off my readers first.  I still have the viewfinder as a backup for outdoor shooting on bright, sunny days, but I rarely find myself using it otherwise.  With my Canon DSLR I am constantly putting readers on, then taking them off, putting them on, then taking them off.  You younger punks may not appreciate this feature, but those of you closer to my age know exactly what I’m talking about here.

Another handy feature of the screen is that it tilts, even as far as perpendicular to the camera.

This can be super handy when you want to hold the camera at about waist level and shoot straight on at your subject (usually a piece of furniture for me).  You can still easily see the screen.

how easy it is to adjust the exposure.

It’s also far easier to make quick changes to adjust the exposure on this camera.  You just turn the ring that is around the shutter button.  It couldn’t be easier to go just a hair lighter or darker and you can immediately see the results either through the viewfinder or on the screen.  With the Canon I have to hold down the AV button with one finger, move the ring with another and you can’t see the results until after you take the photo and then check it on the view screen (take the readers off, put the readers back on).

photo quality.

 After reading all of these glowing reasons why I love my Olympus camera you must be assuming that I don’t even use my Canon any more, but no, that’s not true.

The biggest reason that I continue to use the Canon is that I have several expensive lenses for it, and I don’t want to fork out the money for similar lenses for the Olympus.  At least not all at once.  And personally I find that the lens I’m using makes the biggest difference to the quality of my photos.  Lately I’ve been experimenting with prime lenses and have found that the sharpness of my photos (especially in lower light situations) is much better with a prime lens.  I have a 50 mm prime lens for my Canon, and it takes really sharp photos.  The 50 mm is not quite wide enough for taking photos of furniture indoors though.  At least not in my house.  I can’t get far enough away to get the whole piece of furniture in the frame.  That’s why I’ve been doing a lot of outside shots lately.

However, I did just splurge on a wide-angle 17 mm prime lens for the Olympus both in anticipation of my upcoming trip and so that I can work on my indoor shots (the 17 mm for a mirrorless camera is approximately equal to a 35 mm prime for a DSLR, so a bit wider than the 50 mm that I’ve been using, I know, this all gets so confusing, doesn’t it?).  I have two weeks to decide if I love it enough to justify the expense (it cost more than the camera itself at $599 including a good quality UV filter), so I plan to do a lot of practicing with it between now and then.  I used it to take the photos of the watering can in Monday’s post, and so far so good.

The other reason I don’t always reach for the Olympus is that little thing I mentioned at the beginning of this post.  I’m not patient about learning new technologies.  The Olympus has so many bells and whistles that it’s a serious challenge to learn about all of them.  I’ve been using it for over six months now and I still struggle with making adjustments on the fly.  But the more I learn about this camera and the more I practice, the more I use it.  I suspect that I will be using it a lot in Norway and Scotland, so I’ll be sure to report back on how it worked out for me after my trip, which is coming up soon!

In the meantime, I’ll be back next week with some more furniture makeovers so be sure to stay tuned.

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my other hobby.

I’ve mentioned before that I have another hobby, scrapbooking.

my-other-hobby

I used to do a lot more of it, but these days I only scrapbook about once a year when I head off on a retreat with some friends.  My sister used to fly out from New Jersey for these scrapbook weekends, so it’s really fun now that she lives here in Minnesota and doesn’t have to come from so far away!  She can bring many more supplies when she doesn’t have to bring them on an airplane.

So instead of painting furniture last weekend, I was off creating scrapbook pages.  Since I don’t have any furniture makeovers to share with you, I thought I would share some of my favorite scrapbook page techniques instead.

One of my favorite techniques is to focus on one color, in this case pink.

This works great when there is an obvious color to pull from a photo on the page, like the pink flowers on the right.  I like to pair my colors with a charcoal gray background.

I used that same technique on this next page, only this time using yellow.

I also used a black and white photo on this one leaving just the yellow of my embellishments for color.

The ‘happy’ chipboard sticker (and the ‘love’ from the pink page and the ‘today’ from the title photo) is from Heidi Swapp, but unfortunately this design has been discontinued.

happy

Such a bummer, they were one of my favorites.

Yellow was an obvious choice for this page of photos from Bonnet House in Ft. Lauderdale.

Here’s another example using red and grey.  Much like with decorating your home, it’s easy to combine different patterned papers if you stick with the same color.

In case you are wondering, Lucy is the name of the elephant and she is located in Margate, New Jersey.  These pics are from my trip to the Jersey Shore last summer.

Another technique I like to use is the two page spread.  Instead of focusing on just one 12″ x 12″ page, I create a design across the full 24″ width of two pages.  Even if that means cutting some elements down the middle.  Once you get the pages in the book your brain barely registers that they are cut apart.

Lago Mar is the hotel we stayed at in Ft. Lauderdale last November.

A Cricut machine really comes in handy for cutting page titles out of paper.

jersey-shore

‘Jersey shore.’ was cut out on the Cricut in two different fonts.  I think a patterned paper works great for titles and outlining each letter with a fine tipped black pen helps give them more definition so they are easier to read.

shore

 Here’s another title cut out with the Cricut.  Two fonts with two different papers is so much more interesting than doing the whole title the same.

By the way, if you’re wondering about the look of my photos and how I manage to not get any glare from them at all, it’s because I print my photos on matte photo paper.  I love the look of the matte paper.  I buy it at Target, but I’m sure you can find it many places.

October Afternoon products continue to be my favorites.  I like that I can mix and match their paper, stickers, chipboard and other embellishments and the colors always work well together.  Everything on this next page aside from the grey solid background (and the photos of course) is from October Afternoon.

at-the-seashore-2

I have just one last page to share with you. I basically did this page to torture my sister.  I’ve mentioned before that I have some old slides from when we were kids and I had a bunch of them turned in to jpeg files.  I print out a few here and there and I’m working on a scrapbook of just the slide photos.  This one of my sister cracks me up because the cowlicks in her hair are totally out of control.  As I was working on the page I realized that a photo I took of her while on vacation showed those same crazy cowlicks so I added that photo in the little Kodek slide frame.

I called them ‘devil horns’ and pointed out that she still has them just to annoy her.  Hey, I’m a little sister, I’m supposed to annoy her every now and then.  I’m pretty sure it’s in the job description.

If you missed seeing some of my other posts about scrapbook pages, you can them here, here and here.  And if you are thoroughly bored by scrapbooking, don’t worry, I’ll be back next week with some fun painting projects that I currently have underway.

See you then!

buying a new camera.

I take a lot of photos.  You’ve probably already noticed that about me.  But lately I’ve found that I tend to miss out on photo opportunities because I don’t want to lug around my big DSLR camera and lens(es).  On top of that, I’ve also been having some technical difficulties with it.  My Canon Rebel EOS XSi is somewhere around 10 years old I think.  Lately it has been ‘acting up’.  It just stops working.  It has happened twice now.  Each time I’ve been shooting a lot of photos on a hot, sunny day.  I find that if I let it ‘cool down’ by shutting it off and leaving it alone for about 20 minutes or so, it starts working again.  I don’t have any problems with it during short furniture photos shoots, but when I’m taking 300+ photos in the space of a couple of hours it acts up.  I have to admit, I get a little panicky when my camera stops working!  And it has stopped at some extremely inconvenient moments!  As of yet I have been unable to diagnose the problem because I don’t get an error message of any kind.  Changing the battery doesn’t help.  Changing the photo card doesn’t help.  I suspect it’s overheating, but I haven’t been able to find any definitive information on that online.

So I decided it might just be time for a new camera.  If you have absolutely no interest in cameras, stop reading now and come back next week for another post that might be more interesting to you.  But if you are considering a camera purchase of your own in the future, keep reading!

Since I have a lot of money invested in various lenses and filters for my Canon, the obvious first choice was to just buy a new Canon Rebel body that would work with the lenses I already have.  But I quickly realized that didn’t solve my first problem; that lugging around all of that equipment is not always practical.  Plus my current Canon still works well for furniture photo shoots as long as I don’t overuse it.  What I really need is a good travel camera for places like Budapest …

Budapest collage

Thus began the research.  I’m not a huge fan of techie research of any kind, but it has to be done.  There are so many options out there.  I started with reading a few different articles reviewing various cameras and their features.  That helps me narrow down the features that are available and whether or not they are important to me.  For example, I really prefer using an optical viewfinder.  I used my sister’s point and shoot camera at the McCrory Gardens when we were out in South Dakota and I hated using the LCD display to compose my shots.  I couldn’t see the screen at all in full sunlight, and even in shady areas it was difficult to see.  I felt like I was shooting blind.  I also realized that even though I want a more portable camera, I still want the ability to control my settings.  I also want good quality photos.  And down the road I want the option of investing in higher quality lenses for my camera if I decide I need them.

After doing a bit of reading, I quickly realized that what I wanted was a mirror-less camera.  Don’t know what that is?  Check out {this article}.

Can’t be bothered with reading that?  The short version; it’s smaller and lighter than a DSLR (so more convenient for traveling), but still allows you to have more control over settings than the typical point and shoot.  It also allows you to swap out lenses.

Not all mirror-less cameras come with an optical viewfinder though.  Some have an optional optical viewfinder (say that 10 times fast) that costs extra, and some don’t have a viewfinder at all.  I really wanted a viewfinder so that limited my choices.

I also was working with a budget of $500.  There were plenty of options that were priced way out of my price range!  I just can’t justify spending $1,500+ on a camera.

I ended up with two potential cameras on my list.  The Olympus OM-D E-M10 and the Canon EOS M3.

Once I had my choices narrowed down to these two I used a very helpful website to make my decision, cameradecision.com.

I used their comparison tool to see how the two cameras stacked up.  Check that out {here}.

The Olympus OM-D E-M10 came out just slightly ahead of the Canon overall according to this website.  Despite that, I was still leaning towards the Canon because I’m used to a Canon (less of a learning curve), plus I could use my current Canon lenses on it (with the help of an adapter, I think).

But in the end I went with the Olympus after all.

camera

As it turned out, the price on the Canon EOS M3 on Amazon was $479 for just the body with no lens.  The camera with an 18-55 mm kit lens was $599.  To add on the optional viewfinder was another $189.  Yep, suddenly I’m looking at almost $800 for a camera that I thought was under $500.  If I also wanted an adapter so that I could fit my existing lenses on the camera, that’s another $100.

By comparison I found the Olympus (with its built in viewfinder) in a kit that included a 14-42 mm lens for $399.  Wow!  That’s half the price of the Canon and $100 under budget.

Purchasing the camera was just the first hurdle.  Somehow I had this crazy notion that my new camera would arrive and I’d pop it out of the box and start shooting.  Silly me.  It practically took me five minutes just to figure out where the memory card went!

After struggling with that, I went to youtube and found an awesome video tutorial for my camera by Tony Northrup.  That radically simplified things for me.  I find it so much easier to learn by watching and playing along.  Plus, that guy is not exactly hard to look at, if you know what I mean (although obviously not nearly as handsome as Mr. Q).

So, the new camera is up and running and I’m playing around with using it.

caladium

Whether or not I love it for travel remains to be seen, but so far I am getting some rather nice photos with it.

Sidebar:  this next photo is Hosta Sun Power.  It is a hosta that will not only tolerate a little more sun, it actually needs a little more sun to become this vibrant yellow-green.  It practically glows in the garden.

sunpower hosta

I’ll report back in a couple of months and let you know whether or not I continue to be happy with my camera choice.

Please note that this is not a sponsored post and there are no affiliate links for purchasing anything.  Both the camera decision website and the camera tutorial are free.  I paid for my new camera myself and all opinions are my own.  In addition, the camera I chose suits my needs but may not suit yours.  If you are in the market for a new camera, I hope you’ll find some of these resources helpful in choosing the best camera for you.  I know I did!

miniature budapest.

Today I thought I would share with you a really special project I’ve been working on lately, a 1″ scale model of Budapest’s Castle Hill!

mini budapest street

Bwa ha ha ha … April Fools!  Did I have you going for maybe just a split second?

Of course that’s actually the real Budapest, but I’ve used a new ‘effect’ available on PicMonkey to make it look miniature.

I’ve mentioned before that I do most of my photo editing on PicMonkey (I am not affiliated with them in any way, and this post is not sponsored by them).  They have a free version, but I pay the extra $33 per year for the Royale version which gives me access to extra features such as this one.  It’s worth every. single. penny.

They frequently come out with new stuff.  Either new fonts, such as the Lato (budapest in) and Coffeebreak (miniature) that I used on this photo …

mini budapest

… or new effects that are just plain fun to play around with.

Recently they added the ‘miniature’ effect.  Maybe you’ve seen this effect on TV commercials, where they make something normal size look like a miniature scene.  Well, you know me and my uncontrollable attraction to anything miniature!  So I pulled up some of the photos from my trip to Budapest in 2014 and started experimenting.  I didn’t even save my first couple of attempts and I was ready to chuck it entirely, but then I read some of the tips (yes, when all else fails, read the instructions);  use a photo with good depth (one that has a foreground and background) and is taken from slightly above the scene.  As it turns out, I didn’t have very many photos that perfectly fit that description.  This train photo turned out pretty cool, but doesn’t quite look miniature to me.  If I had taken this from a little higher vantage point, it would have been awesome.

mini budapest train

But this one is pretty cool, right?  Those look like toy cars on a bridge.

mini budapest bridge

This is so much fun!

mini budapest at dusk

Here is Spitz in miniature …

mini spitz

How about mini Passau?

mini Passau

And mini Melk …

mini melk

Am I the only one who finds these highly entertaining?

If you find yourself with a little extra time on your hands this weekend, maybe you can make some mini-photos of your own!