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Let’s Play A Game

How observant are you?


The dolphin made itself visible just as the shutter clicked. 

Did you notice it before I pointed it out?

© Twenty Four At Heart

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Aperture Priority Mode: Photography Friday, Week 7

Aperture Priority Mode is the favored setting of landscape photographers.  Aperture Priority Mode isn't just for landscape photography, however.  It's a great feature to use for many types of photography.  For example, Aperture Priority Mode is also often used to photograph both food and flowers.

You might be asking, What is it?  and/or Why? and/or What button do I touch?

On a Canon, you can find Aperture Priority Mode by turning your Mode Dial to Av.  On a Nikon, it's designated by the letter A.


[Please excuse all the dust and dirt on my camera in the above photo.  I haven't had time to clean it since I got back from my trip.  (How embarrassing!)]

When your camera is set to Aperture Priority Mode you control the depth of field.  That means you decide how sharp you want the background area of your photo.  Do you want the whole photo to be crystal clear?  Or would a blurred background be more impactive?  

You determine this by selecting the f-stop ( f-stop = aperture width).  In Aperture Priority Mode, the camera calculates the correct shutter speed needed for the aperture you've chosen.  

Why would you want to use Aperture Priority Mode?

Well, maybe there are distracting items in the background and you don't want them to take attention away from your subject.  If that's the case, you can blur the background by choosing a wide aperture (from F/5.6 to F/1/2) and make those distracting details disappear.

In the above photo, there was a chair and a counter with a glass on it in the background.  I wanted to focus the viewer's attention just on the Fiji water bottle.  I blurred the background to make the distracting details disappear.  I chose F/1.2 for the photo of the Fiji water bottle.

On the other hand, there are times when you want your photo to show an extensive depth of field with sharp detail.  For those times, you would want to set a narrow aperture (from F/8 to F/32). 


In the above photo, I wanted the ocean, the pier, and the bluffs behind the pier all to appear sharp to the viewer.  I wanted you to be able to see the beauty of the scene as vividly as I did when I took the photo.  I chose to use F/16 for the beach photo.

Aperture is fun to play with.  There are times when you want a little blur to the background, but you want the viewer to still be able to discern what the background is.  Perhaps, you are striving for a little "softer" feel to your image, but you don't want to blur it out completely.


In the above photo, the squirrel is the subject.  He's nice and sharp.  A squirrel, however, is only part of the story.  This squirrel was having a snack right where a wave was about to hit him.  I wanted the ocean and waves visible, but not as sharp as the squirrel itself.  I chose F/6.3 for the squirrel photo.

Aperture Priority Mode allows you to be creative.  The actual ranges available to you are determined by the minimum and maximum aperture of your lens.  The best way to understand the different "looks" you can create with your images is by experimenting with different apertures.

How do you change your aperture?

Well, once your camera is set to Av (or A for Nikons), you then move your Main Dial to whatever aperture you want.


Remember, a wide aperture (which lets in more light) is designated by a smaller number F-stop.  As an example, F/2.8 is wider (more open) than F/16 which is narrow and will let in less light.  Wide apertures (small number f-stops) will give you blur.  Narrow apertures (higher numbered F-stops) will give you a sharper background.  Many cameras also have a button you can press to preview the depth of field.  I'm not going into a lot of detail about it today because I've already given you a lot to digest for one day.

This weekend try experimenting with your camera in Aperture Priority Mode.  Take some photos at the lowest F-stop you can with your lens.  Then take a few at the highest F-stop and notice the difference.  Try experimenting with the mid-ranges also until you're comfortable with how aperture width affects the look of your photos.

As always, I look forward to seeing your photos.  You can share them with me, and other readers, by uploading them to Flickr.  It's easy!  Just click here.

© Twenty Four At Heart

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Bikini Waxes, Pedicures and New Sandals

This *might* be a girlie post today.

(Waving good-bye to all my male readers!)

Since I returned from my trip, I've been busy getting my life back in order.

It has involved very mundane activities such as blah, blah, blah UNPACKING, and blah, blah, blah, LAUNDRY and blah, blah, blah GROCERY SHOPPING, etc.

I also realized I, myself, was sorely in need of a little maintenance.

I hesitate to even mention this fact because it's quite possible you:

1)  Currently think I'm flawless and require no maintenance.

2)  Will forever brand me as an "OC Woman" if I tell you I do indeed partake of much needed maintenance from time to time.

It occurred to me yesterday, as I ran from appointment to appointment, perhaps I'm a little more Orange County than I'd like to admit.  I suppose this place is a bit insidious and invades the personalities even of those of us who try to fight it off.

As an example, I had a woman yank out my pubic hairs again yesterday.  With each and every rrrriiiiiiiiippppppp I gasped in pain.  

And yet?

It's bathing suit season in Orange County.  

It was 80F/26.7C at my house yesterday afternoon.

Rip away!

I wonder if Brazilian Bikini Waxes are the "must have" of cooter grooming outside of Southern California?  My guess is they aren't.  

As a side note, my waxing salon has now come out with "Baldy Bucks."

Oh yes, they have!

Each Brazilian Wax earns their patrons one "Baldy Buck."  After nine Brazilian waxes a customer has earned enough Baldy Bucks to get one FREE Brazilian Bikini Wax.  I'm sure you'll be interested to hear I only have one more paid Brazilian until I, too, am the recipient of a FREE Baldy Buck Brazilian Bikini Wax.

Only in Orange County?

After my coochie grooming, I was off to do something about the talons growing out of my feet.  I had intended to get a pedicure before going to Santa Barbara, but then realized the sand would ruin new polish.  Because I postponed this particular maintenance, my toenails had grown to epic lengths by the time I went in yesterday.

They're looking slightly better now.


I had them painted purple to match my hair.  

(Well, to match the purple streak in my hair.)

A girl's got to coordinate her look, right?

Actually, the pedicure was also a priority because I want to wear the new shoes I bought in Santa Barbara.


Aren't they cute?  

They wouldn't look good with talons poking out of them – hence, the need for a pedicure.

I live in sandals of one sort or another year round.  These are made by Cole Haan and they were on sale (!) for $80 off their normal price.  I love that they have a not-too-high heel.  


They're perfect to slide into and wear with jeans when I need something a little nicer than my usual flip flops.

How about you?

Have you earned your Baldy Bucks yet?

Do you have a favorite nail polish color for spring and/or summer?

Have you found a perfect pair of sandals for summer yet?

© Twenty Four At Heart

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I Don’t Think I’ve Ever Mentioned …

Once upon a time, I went to college at the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB).


It was a tough job, but somebody had to do it.

I was on the Dean's List and an honor student.

I partied a lot too.

I majored in beach parties communications.  I also got a degree in beach parties communications.

When I wasn't studying, I was working to pay for school.  I worked a lot of hours, out of necessity.  For some reason, all that work didn't interfere with my beach parties learning.

I guess you could say, I enjoyed college.

When I wasn't studying or working to pay for school, my college life could be summed up like this:


I bet you understand me so much better now ….

© Twenty Four At Heart

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The Last Four Days

I'm back in Orange County and back to reality.


I thought I'd share with you a little of my vacation today.  If you've been reading here for any length of time, you already know I lived in Santa Barbara once upon a time.  It remains one of my favorite places on earth.  I try to get weekends up there to visit friends whenever I can.  When I visit, it's as if someone pushes a "refresh" button on my soul.  There are no words to describe how renewed I feel after a few days in my old stomping grounds.

The fun began with lunch on Friday.  I went to the Beachside Cafe which is an indoor/outdoor restaurant on Goleta Beach (pronounced go-lee-tuh).  The restaurant sits on the beach right at the base of the Goleta pier.  Goleta is a northern suburb of Santa Barbara.


It was the most beautiful day imaginable.


After lunch, I spent the afternoon at El Capitan State Park.  It is, without a doubt, my favorite place to visit in the Santa Barbara vicinity.


There were dolphins leaping and playing and splashing everywhere I looked.  I can watch them play for hours and never grow tired of it.  

I did a lot of walking and hiking while I was at El Capitan.


Did I mention, I couldn't have asked for a more beautiful few days?

It was breathtaking.

Each evening I visited some of my favorite Santa Barbara restaurants.  (And yes, I did stay on my low-carb diet during my entire visit – go me!)

One morning I visited the exclusive Bacarra Resort.

I might have seen a very famous musician on the pathway to the beach that morning.  She initially eyed my camera and big lens warily.  When she realized I had no intention of invading her privacy I received a big smile and a warm hello.  I think we found each other refreshing.  I'm sure she's tired of people fawning over her and I'm tired of people requiring fawning.

Later that day, I went shopping in downtown Santa Barbara.


I found the cutest pair of shoes.  I love all the shops and boutiques on State Street.  It's always fun to spend a few hours walking around downtown.

I also visited the Santa Barbara Zoo while I was in town.  I hadn't been there in years.  It's a small zoo, but I had fun.  The zoo has an ocean view … how many zoos can boast of that?

They have two new, baby, giraffes.  They were adorable and very curious about their surroundings.

I also spent a few hours at the harbor.


On Mother's Day I enjoyed a picnic on one of the beaches north of town.

All in all, it was a fantabulous few days. 

I might be back in Orange County now, but my heart is still lingering somewhere up the coast.

© Twenty Four At Heart

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Do I Have to Leave?

I hope everyone had a nice weekend.  

I've really enjoyed my four days traveling up the California coast.

I'll be back home, in Orange County, tomorrow.

In the meantime, excuse me for not writing much.  I've been busy having a lot (!) of fun.  


Can you blame me? 

(For those of you who inquired, all three of the beach photos recently posted from this trip have been uploaded to my online gallery and are now available for purchase in the Beach 2010 album.  Click on the button on my sidebar for more information.)

© Twenty Four At Heart

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Happy Mother’s Day

To all of you who have ever had a mother ……


I wish for you a day as beautiful -

As my weekend has been.

© Twenty Four At Heart  

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I spent yesterday in one of my favorite places in the world.  I was about forty five minutes north of Santa Barbara. 

The weather was fabulous with the temperature hovering around 85F/29.4C.  There was a nice breeze.  There weren't many people around.  There were more dolphins splashing and playing in the water than I've ever seen at one time.

It was the most amazing day.

I'm in heaven.

© Twenty Four At Heart

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Eighties Flashback!

Prepare to smile BIG by the end of this post.

First, my apologies, I have no Photography Friday post for you this week.  I will definitely have one for you next Friday.


Well, the last 24 hours have been purely chaotic.  My oldest son returned home from his freshman year at college in North Carolina.  Doesn't it seem like I was just crying my eyes out as I dropped him off?  Summer break begins early for the southern schools and he arrived home last night.  I am, of course, thrilled.

Remind me of that when he leaves dirty dishes all over the house.

My youngest son caught the crud I had a week or two ago, was home sick from school, and needed to be run into the doctor.  (He's fine … just needed some meds!)

Also, I'm on my way out of town early today for a long girl's weekend.  I'm sure you understand how crazy it sometimes gets as you're packing and preparing for a trip.  I'll be in Santa Barbara and neighboring vicinities until Tuesday.  I do plan to post while I'm gone, assuming I'm able to find decent Internet access at the dump hole in the wall I'm staying in.  I may, however, be posting when I can vs. my normal, fairly reliable, schedule.

(If you've emailed me in the last few days, forgive me for not yet responding.  See above craziness!)

Photography Friday posts take quite a bit of prep time on my part, and I just couldn't pull it off this week.  Instead, I thought I'd end the week by providing you with a smile.

Recently, I posted a photo of what I looked like in the 90's.

One of my readers and twitter friends (VanMacGuy on Twitter) asked me what I looked like in the 80's.  We agreed to swap photos.  Unfortunately, I have yet to find the right box with my photos from the 80's.  When I do, I'll post one of myself.

In the meantime, VanMacGuy was nice enough to allow me to share with you his photo from the eighties.


I love it!

If you'd like to send me a photo from your past too, along with permission to post it on 24, I'd love to see it.

In the meantime, a huge thank you to VanMacGuy for bringing a smile to my day!

© Twenty Four At Heart 

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Two Faces of Money Town

I was running a quick errand the other day.  I was preoccupied with thoughts of all the things I needed to accomplish before the end of the day.  

As soon as I entered the store, I heard a man bellowing.  Yes, bellowing.  There is no other word to describe what he was doing.  I saw a well appointed Money Town woman cringing by his side.  She gave me an apologetic look as if she were the one responsible for his boorish behavior.

Initially, I could only see the man from the back.  He had white, thinning, hair with a bald patch on the back of his skull.  He was heavyset.  

And then he turned and glared at me.  He had blue, piercing, eyes and it was clear he was set to destroy anyone in his path on this particular day.

The man was walking around a shopping mall, not long after having had a facelift and nose job.  He looked a bit like the picture below, but he also had his nose bandaged and blood/fluid drains still attached to each side of his head.


When I saw the blood-filled drains I nearly barfed on the spot.


He had to be in his first week post-surgery.  Could he not have spared us all from seeing those?  (gagging!)  

Who goes out to the mall like that?

Not only that, the man was older than the earth itself, and I couldn't help but wonder Why?

I realize, the pressure to look young in Southern California is beyond anything most of you can imagine … 

But really

More and more, I see people walking around in public with their plastic surgery bandages on.  (Although, this particular man takes the cake with the bloody drains hanging from each ear!)

I guess the Money Town crowd figures everyone is having plastic surgery, so why bother hiding it?  Perhaps the amount of "work" a person can afford to have done has become something to brag about and flaunt.

I am still *shuddering* at the image of the man.  It seems to be burnt into my brain.

The very next day found me at the Money Town grocery store where I encountered The Biggest Bitch in The World.

There really are a lot of bitchy women here, have I mentioned that? 


Have you ever walked up and down the grocery aisle with your cart and on every single aisle you see the exact same person?  Their grocery store run and yours are synced perfectly, in such a way, to make you feel very awkward.  It gets to the point where you feel like you should say something to the total stranger.  Like, perhaps, "How's the husband doing today?" but then you realize you don't even know the person …

You just have grocery-aisle-familiarity (GAF) with them.


Well, this particular woman wore Money Town Attitude like a cloak on the coldest of days.  She was most likely in her late sixties, but didn't look a day over 50.  She had been nipped and tucked and glittered with giant, sparkling, bling.  Her clothes and shoes and handbag were weighted down with the burden of the most expensive designer labels.

She took one look at me, sniffed the air, and turned her head with a look of disgust.

Did I mention what I looked like on this particular day?

I had just walked four miles.  I had on my favorite black, capri length, workout pants.  They're a combination of sweat pants and yoga pants.  They are, without a doubt, the most comfortable thing on earth to wear.  I pretty much live in them except when they're being laundered.

I had on a sports bra which means my Bionic Nipples were undoubtedly very visible right through my v-necked, white, cotton t-shirt.  I had on my favorite sneakers and my hair was pulled back in a ponytail.  I'm sure my face was red from walking in the heat for four miles.  I had no jewelry on, not even my wedding ring.

The Biggest Bitch in The World was not impressed with me.  She looked at me with disdain when she bothered to look at me at all.

Up one aisle, and then down the next – we continued to manuever past each other as we shopped.  When her cart blocked my way, she made no attempt to move it to allow me to pass.  

Yes, she broke grocery store etiquette.  

Can you believe it?

It soon became apparent to me that The Biggest Bitch in The World was intentionally trying to get in my way.  No matter where I was, or what item I was reaching for … she'd be there, in the way, and refusing to yield.

"Excuse me," I must have said a million times as I tried to reach an item.

She would not move.  

Not one inch.

Over and over, aisle after aisle, we continued this antagonistic dance.

She remained the staunchest of adversaries, consistently refusing to make even the slightest move to accomodate me.

We finally had a stand-off by the oatmeal.

Oh, yes we did!

It was kind of like the old Gunsmoke shoot-outs, except – totally different.

She had positioned her cart along the oatmeal section and stood next to it. 

I wanted to buy oatmeal.

I waited.

I waited some more.

She didn't move.

She wasn't putting anything in her cart.  She just stood there, blocking the oatmeal.  She was fully aware I was waiting for her to move.  It was an intentional, annoying, move on her part.

She was in full oatmeal-blocking position.

"Excuse me," I said politely once again.

She rolled her eyes.

She looked at me with contempt.

"I'd just like to grab some oatmeal," I explained as nicely as I could.

Arrogance dripped off her into a puddle on the floor.

"Oatmeal?" she sniffed, making no attempt to move her cart, or herself.

"The oatmeal is right there, right behind your cart," I replied a bit impatiently.

"Is it?" she said disinterestedly.

She didn't move.

My patience with The Biggest Bitch in The World was gone.

I pushed my cart past her, and past her cart.  I put my hand firmly on her cart and pushed it out of my way.

She gasped.

How brazen of me!  How impossibly rude of me to expect someone like her to move.

I took my time and calmly walked where her cart had been.  I took the oatmeal I wanted.  I placed it in my cart and went on my way.

Behind me I heard her hmmphing and hawing over my escape.

Oh yes, I won the Money Town oatmeal stand-off and I'm proud of it!

© Twenty Four At Heart