Photography Tales 1

One of my favorite subjects over the past several years – my ever-evolving front patio garden in Vermont

I’ve always had a passion for photography.  I thought it was about time I wrote about my trials and tribulations as an amateur (very amateur!) photographer.  I’ve received some really nice compliments on the photography I’ve shared so far on my blog.  You cannot know how much that means to me!  It’s very kind indeed!

Bob Peterson in the Orchid House  Photo Credit:  Louis Jacoby

My grandfather, Bob Peterson, was an amateur photographer.  He is my inspiration totally.  He retired from Longwood Gardens in the late 1960’s and we still have some of his amazing photography from his early years at Longwood, and the early years of his young family – my mom, and her siblings.  He gave up his passion when family responsibilities became too demanding, but viewing his early photography it’s obvious how much he loved it.  Apparently, at one time, he had his own darkroom and developed his own film.  Remember when we used film??  Oddly enough, my second passion is plants.  Growing up on Longwood Gardens property in my grandfather’s household certainly had its influences on me!  Anyway, my grandfather and his photography was highlighted in a Longwood Chimes publication several years ago.  The article was made possible with cooperation and consultation provided by my mother, Barbara Thomas and her brother, Joe Peterson. It was such fun to see him acknowledged for his contribution to Longwood Gardens.  🙂

I did not start to get really serious about sharpening my photography skills until my first year of marriage in the early 80’s.  I bought my first decent camera – a Canon 35 mm – and signed up for a beginning photography course at West Chester University.  The course was designed to introduce all the basic principles of photography through a series of assignments that focused on one major element at a time.  For each assignment, we were to choose our very best photographic effort for inclusion in our portfolio – the *final exam* of the course.  We also had to develop our own black and white negatives and prints throughout the class!  I was in heaven.  I loved it!  I don’t believe I’ve ever enjoyed a class more.  I received an A+ in the class with a notation on my portfolio that read:  You have a good eye.  Keep it up.

View from a trail high up in the Colorado mountains – another preference of mine is capturing landscape photographs
One of my preferred photo scenes over the past summer – Mono Lake in Lee Vining, CA

I will be forever grateful to my family members who allowed me to use them as subjects during that class:  my one and only great-grandmother, Mary Buffett, was a good sport (at 89 years young) pretending to clip her climbing roses as I snapped pictures of her (portrait assignment), my beloved Uncle Roland allowed me to get some photos of him working as a short-order cook at the famed Birmingham Grill in West Chester, PA  (another portrait assignment), my brother-in-law Peter came to the rescue when I needed to do an advertisement assignment – I got a great shot of him after a day’s work as a tree climber with the requisite Genesee Cream Ale bottle propped up on a tree stump in the foreground (also a study on depth of field), and my husband Jim graciously served as a model for exploring motion with shutter speed control – both on his motorcycle and in his canoe.

I’ve shared this photo before on the blog – but it remains one of my favorites – Pelicans at Padre Island National Seashore

Most of my photography since starting married life has focused on family and family vacations, my gardens, and the interesting landscapes I’ve encountered.   I eventually upgraded to a digital SLR – the Canon T3i although I still have all my past cameras.  I continue to use the Canon T3i and have it with me now.  It’s the only camera that sports a telephoto lens at the moment.  Prior to starting this RV journey, I decided I wanted to upgrade once again to a full-frame DSLR.  For 6 months, I researched cameras.  I even brought home the Canon 6D kit that we loaned out in our Dartmouth College Library media center and experimented with it several times.  After being a Canon girl for over 30 years, I must confess that I made the switch to a Nikon.  And, I have not been disappointed.

Capturing my houseplants on the porch  – Summer in Vermont

The Nikon D750 is now my main camera.  I have it with me constantly.  I’m currently using the AF-S Nikkor 24-120mm lens with this camera.   My budget did not allow for additional lenses at the time I purchased the cameral last spring.  I will eventually add to my lens collection! But, for now, if I need a telephoto, or a close-up lens – I use my Canon.  I still love that camera.  And it still takes good pictures!

The D750 is not light in weight.  I know that many photography enthusiasts will use smaller, lighter cameras when hiking.  And, I have been scoping out some of these options.  Eventually, I may opt to add a more portable camera to my collection such as a Panasonic Lumix, or a Sony Alpha mirrorless.  But, so far, I’ve gotten used to carrying the Nikon, and on long hikes, I use a backpacking camera bag if I need to get the weight off my neck!

I have a number of different type filters for my Canon, and hope to experiment with these more before purchasing for the Nikon.  My need to be thrifty dictates my decision to use what I have right now.  Plus, I think I’ll have a clearer picture what actually works and what I enjoy using by first experimenting with the Canon before spending additional money.  🙂

My brass watering can – a gift from my husband many years ago – very treasured!!

My user manual for the Nikon is already well-worn and dog-eared .  I consult it constantly and have yet to discover the full capabilities of this camera.  I’m loving the challenge and adventure and look forward to improving my skills along the way.

I intend to write more about my photographic journey as the inspiration hits me – and share some of my insights as I grow and learn more skills.

I do find that I totally confuse myself when switching from the Nikon to the Canon and vice versa.  The settings are all in different places!  Keeps me on my toes!

I would love to hear from others about their photographic journey.  It’s so very interesting and so personal, but I’m still learning so much!

“Life is like a camera. Just focus on what’s important and capture the good times, develop from the negatives and if things don’t work out, just take another shot.” –Unknown

Some photos from the past 15 years or so….my preferred subjects:  family, vacations, my gardens and plants……very random but I will hopefully share and document some my favorites in this and future posts.  Enjoy!


I don’t know why – but I love this shot of my son, Leif
The Portage
On the Tim River – the maiden voyage of Luke’s handmade cedar strip boat ( and I was the first to put a scratch in it right about here in the river!)  Probably focusing on picture taking instead of paddling!
Love the mist on the lakes in Algonquin in the mornings!
Again, don’t know why this photo is so special except that it shows two people I love more than anything!!!  I think we were pulled aside here waiting out a possible thunderstorm.


My niece Liz on the right and her friend
Fight for the puck – my husband Jim  in the middle
Dan’s hockey mascot
The younger generation – the Amber Cup is all about fun and family
The older generation – competitiveness is alive and well!
Love this picture of my niece, Grace – she played hockey through high school, ending her career with Northfield HS  (Hey, Grace I am wearing at this very minute your NHS hockey sweats that you left at our house years ago!)
The Red team – runner’s up
The winning team – that’s Jim, my husband, on the far left and Lizzie in the middle – two Ambers on the winning team, yeah!


Early spring Viburnum x burkwoodii with purple pansies
Love that Sedum “Autumn Joy”
Proud that my Star Magnolia has survived our Vermont winters all these years.
These peonies were planted by the previous owner, and were the only plants along the foundation when we bought the house.   I transplanted them when I created the front garden.  I think she would be happy to see they are still here and thriving.
Work day in the garden
Clematis vine has thrived!
Daffodils are always one of the first flowers to bloom in my garden – such a relief when they pop out – you know winter is on its way out!
Fothergilla remains one of my favorite garden plants – it grows well in my Vermont garden
Sitting on the porch drinking an early morning cup of coffee – the cobwebs were creating a bit of artistry on my picket fence – could not resist snapping a photo!


Sisters – cool down after race – I took this with the telephoto – I know they have no idea I was capturing them in a *sisterly* moment!
Nicolette skiing for Middlebury
Olivia skiing for Colby – Dartmouth gal in hot pursuit
Proud Papa Paul with daughters –  Olivia, Paul and Nicolette (her final competition for Middlebury)
Olivia at NCAA finals in Lake Placid, NY – cannot believe my luck capturing her final push at the finish line with the NCAA banner in the background!

I have so many photos to share – but my laptop battery is dying!!!!  So, I hope to continue to post photos – both old and new – mostly for my own documentation.  But, also to share!

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