Typical scene in southern Arizona

•February 26, 2009 • 15 Comments

Since I just got a bitchin’ new 24″ NEC LCD monitor, I decided to dig into some of my older photos and take some time to actually edit them. Novel idea, right? I think I have about, oh, 2000 images or more to edit and save. God forbid I actually print some! I’m a little short on time tonight (these darn kids demand to eat dinner EVERY night!!) so here’s one from the archives:

I took this (and several others) back in March last year, when we went back to Arizona for a week.

img_3609c1This image was pretty much straight from the camera, with some minor tweaking in Adobe Camera Raw. The sky was pretty, but the rest of the scene just looks, well, drab to me. So I played with some actions and think I really like this version of it:

img_3609I used the TRA2 Troy action to give it a sort of rustic feel. Thoughts? Suggestions?

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Just like riding a bike…

•February 15, 2009 • 5 Comments

This has been an exciting week for the girl as she finally ditched those training wheels and decided it was time to be a big kid – “Training wheels are for 5 year olds!” Indeed. It took her all of 15 minutes before she figured it out and was off and running. As of now, thankfully, we have only had one minor wipeout that required no stitches, casts, splints, or other medical intervention. Not bad for someone who can’t seem to walk through a doorway without running into it first!

Getting ready to go:

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One foot at a time:

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NOW you’ve got it! (And I was trying to pan the camera to catch some of the motion, so I am aware of all the blur but it’s not like you can make her stop in mid-pedal for a picture!):

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And a few more “action” shots (read: blurry):

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She consistently starts and stops all by herself and makes turns like a pro! I can’t believe she just up and decided to do it all in the span of about 15 minutes!

And speaking of consistent… Yeah. Let’s just say I’m consistent about my inconsistencies in feeding my neglected little blog and leave it at that, okay?

Peace out.

Sweet Child o’ Mine

•January 30, 2009 • 2 Comments

I’m ashamed to admit that I haven’t really done squat in the past 7 days other than work on getting over being sick for like the zillionth time in the past 12 months. I think my immune system is on pause for station identification or something, since I seem to get sick now a lot more than I ever used to. Hello white blood cells? Can we cross the picket lines and do our jobs please? Thanks so much!

I’ve also been on the early shift at work, which means no sleep at night for me and then up at 0300. I think even the Army was more reasonable with their wakeup requirements of 0500. But at least I get to leave early, too, so there’s that. I haven’t picked up my poor camera in a week. I even brought my camera bag downstairs and propped it up on the bookshelf so it could be a reminder of sorts to take it out to play. That has backfired sorely – now,  it stares at me, menacingly, daring me to grab it and produce some sort of image. ANY image. My camera is mocking me. Well, I decided enough was enough and figured I’d entice the girl outside and bribe her for a few candid shots.  Who could resist the possibility of going to Gramma’s later on? And naturally, being the good natured, easy-going and cooperative kid she it, I got hundreds of portfolio worthy headshots. Hundreds! Okay, maybe sleep deprivation has taken over and maybe I only got like three pictures before the announcement of “I’m done” was a reality, but I think there are a couple of keepers.

We also had an argument about brushing her hair. She HATES brushing her hair or getting it brushed, but she has really fine hair that looks like straw ten minutes after I comb it so it needs constant attention. Usually we avoid all the unpleasantries by using scrunchies to hold it back out of her face.  I refuse to let her look like a homeless child, especially for any kind of photos, so I attacked her with the brush I keep in my purse and that led to the craziness in the pictures – static cling anyone? And me without my Bounce sheets.

Mean Face

Mean Face

She didn’t want me to take pictures on MY terms, so she was into making as many wierdo faces as she could come up with. That one was after I told her there would be NO ice cream in her immediate future if she didn’t indulge her poor mother!

That discussion lead to this shot – “But MOM! I don’t REALLY want you to take pictures of me RIGHT NOW is all. Okay? So do I still get my dessert tonight? Can we talk about ice cream again? Wait, are you joking? When are we going to Gramma’s?”

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I also played with a color version of that picture:

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Not really sure which one I like. I realize the second image is a little soft – she is a CONSTANTLY moving target and can be a little uncooperative if she’s asked to do something she doesn’t particularly want to do. And she’s only 6. 6! What in the world am I going to do when she’s 16? I shudder to think.

I’m still dabbling with actions and conversions, any input or ideas are always welcomed!

Hero

•January 30, 2009 • Leave a Comment

The boy just started Boy Scouts this month and seems pretty excited about it, which makes me warm and fuzzy inside because lately all he seems to get excited about is Super Mario Galaxy and iPods. At least that’s all he can stand to tell his mother about.  He has made some new friends and gotten to know a couple of the other boys better. I think it’s going to be a great experience for him and the kids so far that we’ve met in his troop seem to be very well adjusted and happy and overall a positive influence.

Part of the joys of scouting include monthly campouts – this past weekend was his first. We had to get him his uniform and I got the enviable task of sewing his patches on to his shirt the night before the campout. Just an aside – Holly Homemaker I’m NOT. Sewing patches on with the sewing machine was a comedy of all sorts, since:

1 – I don’t sew. I own a sewing machine and have owned it for like 4 years but can count on one hand the number of times I’ve attempted to use it.

2 – I can’t do straight lines to save my life. That applies to all areas of my life, whether it be writing lines on a paper, taking pictures with a camera (I usually tilt to the left), and sewing around blocks of patches. You can imagine the hilarity than ensued when I had to sew on the circular patch.

3- I have NO patience. If I don’t get it right the first time, I throw my hands in the air and the table up in front of me, pronounce the entire activity to be stupid, and storm out of the room.

I wish I could say that I sewed the patches on without incident, but there was much cussing going on. Let’s just say I’m grateful the kids were asleep, or they might need therapy to undo the damage from all they could have heard. Back to our regular scheduled programming…

Anywho, the boys wakes the next morning to a nicely pressed shirt with patches sewn and all was right in his world. He went to school, came home and got his stuff together and then we dropped him off at the designated Scout meeting area, where we passed him off to the scoutmaster and other leaders. I did feel a little gnawing inside, since he was spending a weekend away from home, away from ME, for the first time I can really remember (that wasn’t just a sleepover at Gramma’s or something). I guess I’m going to have to let him grow up. Just a little. Even if it kills me.

70 Degrees in Texas!

•January 19, 2009 • 10 Comments

Yes, while all the rest of the country is collectively shivering with cold, we here in the greater central Texas region are enjoying some nice, mild temperatures. No way was I going to let the chillun’s just melt their brain in front of the tube! It just so happens that here in our own backyard, well, not literally MY backyard but in our little town, we have the BEST playscape ever. EVER! I bribed the children into helping me clean up the living room with the promises of a trip to the playscape, but really, it was more for me than for them. It’s funny what a little positive encouragement does! I benefited from it in two ways: one, the living room was decluttered in record time and the bathroom was cleared of all toothpaste on the counters (a MAJOR pet peeve!) and two, I got to snap a few photos. In between games of hide and seek, that is.

We had a good time, and both kids were uncharacteristically cooperative as well! It was really overcast and cloudy, so the light was pretty flat, but overall I am happy with the shots I got. I’m still learning conversions and actions and other Photoshop lingo so I’m all ears for any suggestions as to how to improve these!

Catch me if you canReaching for itOuch, the splits hurt!Why, yes, I WILL sit for a photo

This last one was just for fun, and part of a photo scavenger hunt I’m working on. I actually used the macro setting on my long zoom lens and took this picture of this xylaphone thing. I’m always amazed at how something usually so nondescipt looks so neat when it’s EXTREMELY close up!

Macro fun

I’m sure we’ll be back to the playscape many more times for more pictures. Did I mention it’s all wood?

Trying to get back on track!

•January 15, 2009 • 7 Comments

I think my muse has gone on strike. I am in desperate need of inspiration!  Maybe it’s the long days on my feet at work combined with the duties of mommyhood draining my creative juices. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s a season where everything looks BLAH outside so I feel the same way inside. Texas doesn’t have snow where I live, so I don’t have all those great white shots that I’ve seen on some of the other blogs.

I do realize, however, that action leads to other action and I dragged out the trusty Canon to play tonight. Nothing that I would say I’m extremely proud of, but I just got some new actions in Photoshop and I wanted to try them out also.

This  picture is just me playing with an old 50mm Minolta manual lens from days gone by. I was messing around with holding the lens up to my camera in different ways and angles to see what I would come up with. This is my take on a bubble in a bottle of Aloe Vera gel:

Aloe Vera Gel

It’s out of focus and grainy, but I didn’t bother with much PP. I think settings were ISO1600, SS 1/100 at f/8. I think all I did in PS was adjust the WB slightly and crop the image.  I will definitely have to come back and explore this method again.

This next picture is just for the week’s theme, texture:

Texture

Texture

ISO 800, f/2.8, 1/50.  I know most folks think that the Canon 24-70 2.8L is the best lens ever, but I have to say I’m thrilled with my Tamron.

I also just started running again this week with the goal of actually competing/completing a 5k this spring.  My trusty running shoes, carelessly tossed aside by the door, waiting for our next outing.

These Shoes Were Made for Running

ISO 800, f/2.8, 1/20. I lucked out and didn’t have totally shaky hands for this one, since I didn’t feel like lugging out the flash.

I’m hoping with the weekend coming up that we might take a trip over to Hamilton Pools or Bastrop State Park or someplace I can get a few decent outside shots.  I have 3 days to play, so I want to make the most of them!

I appreciate any thoughts, suggestions, or comments!

A Confession

•January 7, 2009 • 1 Comment

I am a little bit lazy. Okay, a lot lazy, especially when I get home after work. So on days I have work, I probably won’t be taking long meaningful walks to find that next perfect location by which to hone my shutterbug skillz. Instead, I hope to take several pictures on my less hectic days and post some of those every day instead of trying to do too much. Last night was a perfect example – after the kids finished up all their activities, it was 9 pm and we hadn’t even eaten dinner! Needless to say, by the time we got home and got the kids in bed, picking up my camera was the FURTHEST thing from my mind.

So that’s my little disclaimer. Not all the pictures I put up will be from that same day, but I will try to put something up every day. I also reserve the right to go back to pictures long ago (even film ones!) and re-edit (assuming I actually start using Photoshop!) and post them also, for feedback purposes and critique.

That being said, I have decided to put up a couple more from the Missions trip we did last week:

Row of doors

I like the picture in a moody black and white format, but I think I could do better as far as conversions go. I’m using an uncalibrated monitor and everything looks off to me but I think the general idea is okay.

This is one of the only ones I have of the boy – at least he was good-natured enough to humor me:

Taking a break

The next two are from Mission Espada. I don’t know what it is that appeals to me about the window shot, exactly, but I kind of like it.

At Mission Espada

At Mission Espada

The last one for today is at the doorway of the church at Mission Espada. I was running out of light at this point, but I think this turned out okay.

Church Door

Hopefully tomorrow I will have a little more inspiring afternoon and maybe hit the park with the kiddos or something. I need more human photos – the dogs see me coming with my big black camera and scatter.

I would love to hear comments or opinions on what everyone thinks I could improve upon – that’s what this is for! Thanks for looking!