Abstract Christmas Photography Fun!

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I have been having a shameful and ridiculous amount of fun recently taking pictures of my Christmas tree! As you can see above. No, that’s not a color wheel; it’s a Christmas tree! How did I do it?

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It started when I was drinking water in front of the Christmas tree. I had the empty glass up to my face and realized it created a kaleidoscope effect with the lights. So I put the glass over my camera lens and started taking pictures, experimenting with focus and the distance between the glass and the lens.

The results span from the very abstract (usually achieved by putting the bottom of the glass very close to the lens):

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Pulling the glass farther from the lens achieves a color wheel effect:

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Adjusting the focus so the lens was focused on the bottom of the glass created a different looking type of color wheel:

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Going less abstract, I also played around with various concepts…

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Putting the star on the tree…

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Glowing magical orb! You can see the focal difference between the three as it progresses and the effect it has on the reflections in the glass.

I really liked the magic looking orb concept…

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Again, playing around with focus and concentrating the bottom of the glass on a green light on the tree this time.

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I may or may have not played around with this idea to the point of hand cramps. (I did.)

So if you’re bored and have a water glass and some Christmas (or whatever) lights around, give it a go! It’s a lot of abstract kaleidoscope fun and everyone loves bokeh!

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Snowy Day Sorbet

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I got a sorbet and ice cream maker for Christmas, and I decided to take it on its maiden voyage this past weekend.

But of course it would snow the day I decide to make sorbet! I was undeterred. I also noted that I was not the only one interested in delicious treats that snowy day. (Of course I’m going to try to work in bird pictures any way that I can).

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Top left, clockwise: a white-throated sparrow, female cardinal, dove, and house finch out for a snowy day meal.

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A female cardinal sitting pretty in a tree, seen between deck rungs.

But I still had to go out in the snow to pick up ingredients. The yummy recipe I used called for Dutch-processed cacao. Cue running around all over town with my friend in a very determined search.

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Happily the driving conditions weren’t too bad. We found what we needed by the fourth grocery store!

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By the time we got back, it was getting dark.

As mentioned, I had never used a sorbet maker before (and had yet to read the instruction manual), so I did not realize that the bowl part of the machine needed to be frozen solid. Surprise! So we threw the bowl in the freezer and while we patiently waited for the bowl to freeze completely, I made the chocolatey liquid mix.

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I used semi-sweet chocolate chips. The recipe called for 6 oz finely chopped semi-sweet chocolate, and the price difference was ridiculous! $3.49 for 4 oz of solid bars of baker’s chocolate or $3.14 for 12 oz of chocolate chips. The quality of the chocolate might vary, but I’m making a sorbet, not creating chocolates for the queen.

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Here are the chocolate chips, mostly finely chopped. …Mostly.

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Here is the mixture before adding the finely chopped chocolate.

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And this is after adding the chocolate.

We then, per the recipe, chilled the mixture. Once the mixture was chilled and the bowl was completely frozen, I began the sorbet-making process. Now, the sorbet maker box says that sorbet/ice cream can be made in as little as 30 minutes. The box is a lying liar and is not to be believed. I poured the mixture into the machine, which then rotated the mixture around with its mixing arm, to both aerate and freeze it. After 30 minutes (the recommended mixing time), it was still something of an amorphous (but delicious) liquidy goo, so I threw it back in the freezer for 2 more hours.

Finally, I had a delicious super chocolatey sorbet!

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Here it is pre-sprinkles. It is super chocolatey and definitely rich enough to make you think you’re eating ice cream.

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And here’s one more picture with a black background. Because why not.