Today is the day a lot of people, particularly photographers, have been waiting for. Cee Neuner, mainly know around this blog for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge, is going to join us to day to talk about challenges and challenges. You’ll see what I mean. First, in answer to Linda’s question, I do have a Kindle copy of The Magician’s Curse – I bought mine before it was on sale, but I highly recommend it. Although there was more advance planning involved in this post than Linda probably likes, it was written in an style consistent with the spirit of the Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt:
“Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is ‘wallpaper.’ Use it however you’d like. Have fun!”
If we were having a beer, apparently, we’d be late to our own event.
“It’s about time you boys got here.”
“What do you mean, Cheryl. We’re earlier than normal.”
“Maybe so, Dan but you’re not as early as your guest. But don’t worry, we’ve been chatting about our cameras.”
“Hi Cee. Now I know why you told me you were an early bird. Did Cheryl set you up with something to drink?”
“Yes, but I’m trying not to be boring. At home I usually drink just plain water at room temperature. Today, I’ll fall back on a favorite tea, and it is Capt. Picard’s (Star Trek Next Generation) favorite, Earl Grey, hot. I grew up a tea drinker but don’t have it that often anymore.”
“It’s steeping now, Cee. Dan, David, what kind of tea would you like?”
“Tea? Dan, you’re still buying me Bourbon…right?”
“Now that I see Cheryl laughing, yes, David. Cheryl, A John Howell’s Special for the old man and I will have a Corona.”
“Thanks Dan. Cee, you live in Oregon. For years, I’ve been listening to Dan talk about how the Pacific Northwest, one of the most beautiful parts of the United States. I’m from New England. Can you explain what’s so great about your part of the country?”
“Oh, what don’t I like about Oregon! It is so green, even in the winter. We moved to Oregon late November 2005 from Denver, Colorado. I remember saying to my boss during winter, ‘Is it is always this green in Oregon?’ He just laughed at me and said, ‘This is not green for Oregon.’ Once the huge trees blossomed and leafed out, I then understood why he laughed at me.”
“When we moved to Seattle from New York, I was amazed at the variations in green. It was like being surrounded by green wallpaper. When I lived in Seattle, Cee, we rarely got to see the Pacific Ocean. Seattle is on Elliot Bay which is in Puget Sound. When we wanted to go to the ocean, we drove south to Portland and headed west.”
“I know that drive very well, Dan. When we first came to Oregon, we came in through the Columbia River Gorge from Idaho and Montana. It was an adventure for us to head west out of Portland for our first glimpse of the northern Pacific shore. It’s easy to find the coast from Portland. Just get on the highway and take the exit that says ‘Ocean Beaches’. All roads west lead to the coast. We drove through miles and miles of enormous, tall Douglas Firs, in forests so dense you couldn’t see anything but trees. The only way we knew we were getting close to the ocean was to watch the mile markers counting down. Twenty miles, ten miles, eight miles, five miles. Still no hint of an ocean. Three miles. Still well hidden. We hit one mile, and more trees. We had to find a side road that led to the beach because the forest grows right up to the shore.”
“Do you live near the coast today?”
“Today, I live about hundred miles away from the Pacific coast and have to travel through the coastal mountain range to get there. On the way over the range, you see countless numbers of Douglas Fir trees standing close to seventy feet tall with a canopy of nearly twenty feet.”
“OK, I think I’m getting the picture that you agree with Dan on the appeal of the Pacific Northwest, Cee. I’m guessing you don’t have any plans to move.”
“All I can say, David, is I can’t think of another place in the entire world I would want to live. It’s green. It’s lush. It has the most gentle rainfall you can imagine, a tender mist that brings new growth. Sure, it rains eleven months out of the year, but it’s not like rain the rest of the country gets. The only people in Oregon who carry umbrellas are tourists or ladies who use them for shade in the summer.”
“Now that David is a believer, Cee, let’s talk about challenges. Your challenges seem important to you, how many are there?”
“I adore running my challenges, Dan. I am currently running three challenges for photographers. My oldest challenge is Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge. I started that nearly as soon as I started my blog. It’s evolved over the years, but the overall sense I want for photographers, professional or amateur, is just have fun with the topics.
“The next challenge is my Cee’s Black & White Challenge. I took over from a blogger many years ago, because I was just learning how to edit in black and white and was having a lot of fun with it.
“My most recent challenge, Cee’s Midweek Madness Challenge, is real fun. For each week of the month, I have a different topic. For week one the topic is close ups or macros. Week two is a color. Week three is Pick a Topic From My photo. Week four is alphabet related. If there is a week five, I simply choose a topic at random.
“Then I have my Flower of the Day. Years ago, I just posted a flower a day. Others started joining along from time to time. I then asked, ‘If you want to join in, please feel free to leave a link in the comments.’ When WordPress stopped posting their Photo of the Week challenge and other people started hosting their own challenges, I thought I didn’t want anyone else to host a flower of the day challenge, so I turned my daily post into a challenge.”
“Yes, Cheryl? If you’re asking about another round, I think David and I are ready.”
“No, I’m nudging you to get to the gear!”
“Ah, yes. The gear. Cee, when people heard that you were going to join us today, a few of them were interested in the equipment you use. Can you share that with us?”
“My go to camera is my Sony a7III. It is a full frame, mirrorless camera. These are the lenses I typically use. My go to lens is the 18-200.
- Sony E-mount 18-200mm VR lens
- Sony FE-mount Macro 90mm fixed lens
- Sony E-Mount Macro 30mm fixed lens (f3.0 to 30)
- Sony FE-mount G OSS 70-200mm VR lens
- Sony FE-mount 70-300mm VR lens
“I also use Chris’s old Sony A-6000 camera. She has another one now that is better for video. So when I want to use multiple lenses on a photo shoot, I’ll set both cameras up.
“I will use my iPhone 13.0 Max Pro. I like playing in JohnBo’s Cellpic challenge so I’m starting to learn more about how to take better photos with my cell phone. I basically use it to get cute shots of our four legged ‘kids’.”
“Why are you checking your phone? Don’t you think that’s a little rude?”
“This is relevant, David. Cee will understand. Cee, you and I are both connected to Lois, at On Pets and Prisoners. She was very excited to hear that you were going to visit.”
“I so adore Lois. We go back so many years now. I love her eye for the oddballs and her excitement for photography.”
“Well, she just sent me an email.”.
“I have two questions for Cee:Lois – On Pets and Prisoners
I know Cee likes (loves) her macro lens, but does she use it as a 35 mm lens when she takes photos of the various hilly roads or bridges around town, or does she switch to another lens? I had another blogger say she uses her macro as a 35mm in a pinch. I tried it and it works great—in a pinch, for certain shots.”
“I use my fixed lens from time to time for landscape. Let’s see if I can explain it correctly. To use the smaller macro lenses (forty mm or less) when you use them for a landscape, they capture less than what human eyes normally see. Eyes see basically from fifty-seventy mm. So you won’t get as much in the frame as what you see. The cool part about using a macro lens for landscape is they can be exceptionally sharp and detailed because the aperture can go down to F1 to F3.0. Although if you use auto, landscape will use the higher aperture ranges.”
“OK, I’m going to share one more question, also from Lois, and then we need to move on.
What size macro lens does Cee use? Mine is a 40 mm f2.8 and I cannot get as close with my macro as Cee does with hers.”Lois – On Pets and Pris
“Lois’ 40 mm lens should be a good lens. It just takes a lot of practice. The thirty mm I use does let me get in a little closer. I am fortunate that I have a real steady hand. I hold my breath and take photos in-between my heart beats. That way I can get a crystal-clear image almost every time.
“You may be surprised to hear that most of my macros I take with my long zoom lenses. I stand back far enough so I can zoom all the way in. I must look funny when I’m standing 5 feet away from a flower.”
“I love this kind of talk, but I can see that Dan wants to change the subject. I’ll get you guys another round? But I’m warning you, I might have another technical question later.”
“Thanks Cheryl. I do want to leave the camera and the photo challenges for a minute because I think there is another kind of challenge we should mention. Cee, I know you and Chris have had a challenging couple of years. You had to evacuate the smoke from forest fires, then you guys had Covid, then Long Covid. Before that, you had a rather epic battle with Lyme disease. Are things anywhere near back to what you would consider normal?”
“We are living and adjusting to a new normal. It’s been a real long couple of years. We are both constantly exhausted. Our house continues not to be cleaned regularly. We get bursts of energy and clean a little to keep it livable. A simple car ride to take photos uses up so much energy these days. Chris drives and I grab my camera. I think in the last two years we’ve had only a couple of trips where we were out for a couple of hours.
“I haven’t been to the flowers fields very often and when I do, I hurt so much trying to walk around and breathe just to get a few photos. Chris and I did plant some bulbs on our back porch this year so I can get some outdoor and flower time. I am really enjoying getting out and watering them daily. Our back patio has a built-in seat, and I can water sitting down.
“One of our neighbors recently found out we both had long haul covid and he is taking our trash cans out to the street and back every week. The simple things are nearly impossible.
“Trying to keep a positive attitude is something Chris and I have to constantly battle and talk about. Our lives have changed so much.
“For those of us who have Long Haul Covid, lives have changed forever. It’s like the biggest secret on earth right now. Ten to twenty percent of people who have had covid have long haul to one degree or another. Doctors don’t know how to help us. The symptoms can be somewhat livable, but life changing. Some are far worse off than we are. All I can say is it is nasty to live with.
“Enough of that. The last two years have been the hardest of my life. Overall though, Chris and I are hanging and learning to adjust.”
“That’s incredible, Cee. I understand why Dan wanted to ask that question. I wasn’t really aware of those long-term effects.”
“David, I know several people whose senses of taste and smell have totally disappeared. They have had to learn to adjust in ways they never dreamed possible. There are people who have to remain on oxygen and high-powered medicines just to breathe. We all Iive in silence and are so isolated.”
“OK, let’s switch gears again. Cee, your tag line is about ‘teaching the art of composition.’ Your composition skills are enviable. Do you teach? Have you taught? in a formal way? You offer a series of tips (I intend to start paying more attention to B&W photos soon, and I’ve been reading your tips on that subject). You have an easy way about you when presenting information. Is teaching and helping others important to you?”
“Yes, I do have students from time to time. If I had more energy, I would advertise that I teach. It’s one of the most satisfying feelings I have when I see a student ‘get’ the answers they are seeking and can then use them in their lives. I have taught composition, editing software, and WordPress software.
“I’ve offered a course a couple of times on composition on my blog. I don’t get a lot of people following but those that do really get a lot out of it. In fact, I just added that course to my tip home page.
“I would post tips from common questions I’m asked. They take a little while to put together and since I have long haul now, it’s hard finding the energy to do more lessons, although I am always open for a conversation on how to do something in regards to photography. I just love it.
“And Dan, I’m glad you like my ‘easy way’ of teaching. Photography is a hard subject to learn. I teach without using all the techno babble that both scare and intimidates people. I explain what the functions are by what you see in a photo and not what your camera is doing inside.”
“Before you guys wrap it up, can I ask one more technical question?”
“Of course you can, Cheryl.”
“I have trouble with night photography perhaps… Cee, do you find it challenging? Do you have any quick tips? I have to take a dozen moon shots to get the one I like.”
“Argh, I’m not a really good photographer at night. The one thing I would recommend is a good tripod. I’ve got a couple of them and use them for moon captures at night. One of my favorites photos I got was a capture of a full moon on New Year’s Eve in 2017. It is probably one of my most technically good photos. And yes, I had to take several photos to get a couple of good ones because I was playing with both ISO and aperture.”
“Thank you for joining us today, Cee. I learned a lot about a lot of things.”
“I had a lot of fun, Dan. It was great to meet you, all. Cheryl, I also enjoyed the questions from you and Lois.”