February 26, 2013

i just need some pretty.....

winter has had its way with me and i'm starting to feel abused. i'm a pretty tough cookie most of the time, always one to speak to the manager when something's not quite right, but today i picked up the phone and called uncle

to make me feel better, while i was flipping winter off, i pulled out a summer photo, loaded it here and then hugged my laptop to my chest. okay, it wasn't quite that corny, but really really close.

do you remember in january when i was saying hello to 2013 while i kicked 2012's ass to the curb? well guess what? january and february haven't been much better and i plan on ripping out those months in my day planner and adding them to 2012. 
i don't care that last year is now technically 14 months long in my book, but i'm pissed off that 2013  only has 10 months left. sorry march, that's a lot of pressure, but i know you can do it. i know we can do it.

lately, i've been feeling as feminine as a mossy log during these cold snowy months and i'm sure that's part of the problem. i wear the same clothes over and over again. jeans, boots, long sleeved t-shirts with a tank underneath and a sweater on top and socks. now let's add a down winter coat, a scarf and gloves and whoa, you've got sexy...ummm, no you don't. 
the one thing i have forced myself to do this winter is to shave my legs everyday. yep. everyday no matter what. my armpits, well now that's a different story.

what can i say. i like warm weather. a lot. i love bare shoulders and bare legs and cleavage and soft cottony materials all showing off my just barely sun kissed skin. i love flip flops and pedicures and the way my body feels loved when it goes outside and the sun reaches down to escort me wherever i want to go. winter hasn't tried that move on me not even once.

so with these past fourteen months all thrown into a bag and shaken to death with their old fears and anger and sadness and tears and false beliefs and jealousies and low self esteem and worries, i'm ready to fly forward. actually i'm ready to be catapulted. my feet are completely and without reserve welcoming the solid ground i see before me. 
now if i could just get rid of that ^%$(*^&#; snow that's playing footsie on that solid, now it's all mine, ground in front of me....sigh, well, i can dream can't i ??

February 25, 2013

what's missing?.....

hi everyone.  if you've been here sometime in the last few days, you'll know that we've been "nursing" our son back to health. he has a follow up appointment this morning and technically {following hospital discharge orders} will be be allowed to drive and go back to his place at 4:00 this afternoon.

i will be ecstatic to have my family room look like a family room again. right now it resembles something like a giant camping slumber party gone awry, with pillows and blankets suffocating the room, but to be honest,  i will miss having him around. his laughter and the sparkle that oozes from him, even when he's not at his best, is such a gift. i have loved being his nurse...well, most of the time.

today was to be another scheduled photography tip day and not wanting to disappoint, i have given you some photos and ideas to contemplate. in the above morning dove photos, what's different? what's missing? yep, it's the handle to the bird feeder. i LOVE the cloning feature in picmonkey and use it almost always over the cloning tool in lightroom....yes, it's that good. 

so now it's playtime. do you have a few photos that unfortunately contain something distracting? well let's CLONE it out of the photo. so go ahead, play with the clone option in picmonkey and let me know what happens. i'd love it if you shared with me your before and after photos and if you have any questions, please ask me.

the photos above are all cropped in a different way. i highly recommend you do this to your landscape photos especially, until you find one that really speaks to you over the other photos. if you are a lightroom user, this is so easily done using "create a virtual copy." if you don't know what this is and you are a lightroom user, ask me for help or google it. 
this is just a "fill in" photography tip day and i'll be back next monday with the last of the questions you sent my way. if you have any new questions, i still have room for a few more.
and last, but not least...THANK YOU for all of the well wishes, thoughts and prayers you sent in regards to our son and his recovery. this blogging world of mine, filled with all of you, is such a special place.

February 22, 2013

word of the day::omnipaque and why you should know what this is.....

if you're allergic to shellfish, make sure that information is on your medical records chart. our son suffered a terrible and very scary allergic reaction from the contrasting dye {omnipaque} used for his ct scan {to determine whether or not he had appendicitis} on wednesday, because we only had fish oil supplements listed as an allergy. iodine is the correlation between the two and since we're still learning about all of this ourselves, here's a great link for those of you who don't know anything about this.

he did have appendicitis and unfortunately he's also had some recovery complications, but it looks like later this afternoon we'll finally get to take him home. my hubby and i together, have been by his side constantly, with only two "tag, your it" moments, as obviously he's our number one priority right now...and he's our baby boy. don't get funny...he's sleeping right now, which is why i'm typing :)

for those of you who have never had the opportunity to ride in an ambulance, with lights flashing and horns honking, while your son is hooked up to monitors {after being injected with epinephrine, benedryl and steroids} ...i hope you never do.

to all of my facebook friends, who have sent so many well wishes, happy thoughts and prayers {after i posted a quick update} thank you so very much. i hope you know how much that mean to us.

February 20, 2013

February 18, 2013

day three::photography this and that.....

today is day three of answering your questions regarding photography. remember, the information i share here is based on what i know {or what i think i know} what i've been taught or what i've found while searching for answers myself. today, i've got some lightroom love, finding your style based on what and how you shoot, lenses and a little blip about lenses and shooting lengths.

the above photo was edited in lightroom
the below photo is sooc {straight out of the camera}
what a difference, right?

susan and gail asked me how i arrived at "my style" and how i found "my look" and to be honest with you, i have to thank lightroom for part of that. within lightroom, you can make your own "presets." i have about twelve of them now and almost every photo i shoot gets at least one of my presets added to it. some are specifically for indoor shots, while others really only work on my outdoor shots. the two photos above are a perfect example of why i use lightroom and the difference it can make to a photo. if this all sounds like a foreign language to you, i'm sorry, but i just can't tell you often enough how wonderful this program is.

another part of "my style" is based on what i love to shoot. i don't ever want to photograph a wedding, but give me acres and acres of old barns and farmhouses and i'm your girl. i think developing "your look" also comes with how you shoot. i like to spend time on the ground shooting children at their level or chasing them around a playground, but i also have the patience to stand completely still, barely breathing, just to get a great bird/dragonfly/deer/squirrel photo. {again, the above photo was edited in lightroom and the below photo is sooc. in all of my edited photos, i'm pretty much a fanatic when it comes to making sure the photo, or what's in the photo, level. in this case, it was the roof.}

one of the greatest compliments i've ever gotten...well, i've gotten it a few times now, thanks to so many of you...is when someone says, while looking at many photos, "i just new that one was yours." 
i guess maybe that's how you know when you finally have a style or a look that's all yours...when other people "see it."

let's talk now about LENSES. my first bit of advice is to buy really good ones, not lots of inexpensive ones. i've learned this the hard way. you're welcome.
most kit lenses, the ones that come with your camera, are just okay. if given the option, always buy your camera body separately and then buy your lenses. so what can i not live without?

1. my 50mm 1.4. some people refer to this as the nifty fifty. i refer to it as you're an idiot if you don't have this lens in your arsenal. snort. seriously, it's that good.

2. i love my 70-300mm 4/5.6. i think everyone needs a zoom lens and for most people, the 300mm is enough zoom, plus it's an easy lens to carry around ON your camera. believe me though, if i was a girl out in the wild, i think i would need this lens...but then i'd need a tripod, too and by the time i pack and carry all that, my other lenses, a lunch and a lawn chair, well i'd probably be too tired to even shoot.

3. my macro. i have a 100mm 2.8 and it's a charming little fella. don't believe for a minute that you have to use a macro lens just for macro shots. you don't. they take incredible anything and portrait photos, too. remember at 2.8, your depth of field is amazing !

here are the other lenses i have, that i don't use on a regular basis. 80-200mm {which is extremely old and was used with our first pentax SLR, but is still a honey}10-24mm wide angle, 17-50mm {non-kit lens} and my lens baby. i still love my lens baby and can't wait to play with her again this summer. i truly like her best when we're outside...like at the beach.

something i found while reading...while shooting, here 's a quick little thing to remember when it comes to lens length and shutter speed to avoid a blurry photo. if you're using a 50mm lens, your shutter speed should never be less than 1/50...when you're shooting with let's say your 70-300mm lens at the 300mm setting, your shutter speed should never be less than 1/300....and so on and so on. basically it says to match your focal length to your shutter speed. does anyone ever use this rule of thumb and if you do, i have to believe it's meant for outdoor photography?

another before and after {both above} with help from lightroom
i hope today's little tips were helpful. thanks for stopping by.

February 15, 2013


this entire week disappeared right before my eyes. to be honest with you, after i posted on monday, i've hardly touched my computer. i just now reached up and touched my forehead to make sure i don't have a fever. nope. all good.

our valentine's day was fantastic and i'm hoping yours was, too. i have photos to share, but they're not edited yet...i'm thinking tuesday will be a good day to share them. my hubby sent me a text this morning reminding me it was "the best valentine's day ever and that he would never forget it." 
yep, i'm smiling.

so how about all of those people on that miserable cruise ship? 

i'm loving the photos here. yet another blog in which my jealous heart wishes i had loved cameras and photography when my children were little.

our grand-dog had his surgery yesterday and has a very long recovery ahead. there will be months and months of healing from a hip-bone/fracture. his hip bone was actually removed and scar tissue will now grow in it's place. this will prevent the bone on bone rubbing/arthritis that his future would have held for him. can you tell that my heart is just breaking for him? next week i'll be babysitting for him and showering him with some grandmotherly love. grandma's make everything and everyone better :)

happy weekend everyone...and don't forget that monday i'll be back with more photography tips that will be a bit more technical this time. i'll also share some before and after LR edited photos so you can see why i love that program so much.

February 11, 2013

day two::photography this and that.....

today is day two of answering your questions regarding photography. again, i'll start with a little disclaimer reminding you that what i'll be sharing here is based on what works for me, is what someone has told me, or is what i have found while searching for answers myself.

susan asked me what lens and what camera setting is best for shooting groups of people and making sure everyone is in focus. to be honest, i have never given much thought to any of my group photos and somehow they've always turned out...but here is a helpful link, and i like this link, too. after reading these, i actually learned a few things that i should have already known. oops.

roban asked me how to take indoor volleyball shots, and to be honest with you i cringed a little bit as this is something i tried once a few years ago with my nephew {while he was playing basketball} and failed miserably at.
i do know {or at least believe} you should shoot on continuous mode and use a zoom lens. oh, and don't stay in your seat. get closer to the court where the action is. the worst thing that can happen is that someone asks you to move and by the time they do, you've already gotten some shots.
so with all that being said, the best i can do is to ask you is to google this question. unfortunately, when i did, there were so many links that answered this question and too many of them were camera specific, making it unfair of me to send you to just one link.

daryl asked me about layering/blending photos together and how to add textures to photos. obviously for all of you who love photoshop, you already know how to do this. for those of you who don't have or don't like photoshop, you have two options. pixlr.com is one option, but it's too much like photoshop for me, so i use picmonkey. many of you know that picmonkey is the new picnik and i love everything they have offered on their new site and feel that the 4.99 a month upgrade is well worth the money. so set up your account now, as i promise you will be playing with this editing program all the time once you get started.

real quick, since we're talking about picmonkey, let me get another question answered. frau asked if you have to know/have photoshop to do your photo editing or if picmonkey is enough. to be honest with all of you, i could not live without lightroom for my photo editing, but i am happily living without using photoshop, and with the little extras i can play with in picmonkey, my simple answer is no, you don't have to know/have photoshop, but you should take the time to learn lightroom.

okay, so back to daryl's question...go ahead and open up picmonkey, hit "edit a photo" and choose the photo of yours that you want to edit. now, if you are only layering, go to the seventh icon down on the left {it looks like a piece of screen} and instantly you have multiple layer options at your fingertips...BUT if you have your own layer, texture or another photo that you want to now lay/blend on top of the photo you just uploaded, at the top of the textures page is a box that says, "your own" and this is where you can upload anything of your own to use with the original photo you uploaded first. wha-la...now you can you start blending, fading and playing.

the photos below are my original {untouched/sooc on the left} and then the same photo with the green square under "smudge" option added to it. then i scrolled down to" hardlight" and "faded" it to 50%. you have to admit that was super easy, right?...but i can never stop with just one effect.

the photo below was edited using one of my own textures {you can find them free on flickr} i used the "multiply" mode and faded it to 50% after making it black and white and then i framed it with the daguerreotype  option and chose "brady" at 50%. after that i just played with film grain, exposure and gritty in order to make an older looking photo with visible crusting/water damaged edges.
in the second photo, i started with the original photo, used my same texture and then chose "dusk" at 50% and played just a tiny bit with exposure.

i didn't think for a minute that today's post would end up covering so much about picmonkey, but sometimes you just have to follow where your path all of a sudden leads you. remember, all you have to know about picmonkey, especially if you're just starting, is to play with all of the icons on the left and get to know them. they're fun and you can cancel anything you don't like. i have printed large photos {up to 11x14} after editing them in picmonkey and have never had any problems with the quality of them. 
if i get enough of a response, i will show you how to edit faces in picmonkey, but only if you scream loud enough at me...okay fine, i mean beg me, as it can be hugely time consuming, but so much fun. also, i make all of my banners in picmonkey. oh yes i do, but sometimes i have to keep a few secrets to myself and that's one of them. sorry.

February 9, 2013

simply weekending......

we're being lazy today because we can...and we can be lazy tomorrow, too. it's the weekend and weekends during the winter feel longer, lazier, snugly and more cuddly than weekends during the summer. they have to. it's a rule.

i can only imagine how snuggly the east coast is feeling right about now and my heart goes out to you if you're buried by drifts of snow and especially if you've lost your power. i thought our last storm was a doozy and compared to the east coast, with their hurricane force winds, ours was nothing.

our daughter just left. she was out getting her saturday afternoon errands done and stopped here with lunch for all of us. soup and bread from panera. ahhh, just what the doctor ordered. 

our grand-dog has to have surgery thursday. a fracture of sorts in his hip/leg. poor baby boy.

i "worked" this morning getting my blog post ready for monday. yep, another photography related post with hopefully lots of information for all of you who are waiting to have your questions answered.

many of you ordered the flash bouncer i talked about last monday and i'm so happy that you're happy with your new toy. it's fun to play with, isn't it...especially when you see what a difference it can make. just remember to change your settings to what suits you and your current shooting situation. don't just use what they recommend. all cameras, locations, available light and ceiling heights are different !!

i hope you're surrounded by your loved ones this weekend...and that they kiss and hug you often :)

February 7, 2013

i cried today.....

actually, i think i cry a little bit everyday. i cried when i heard and watched the paul harvey and "so God made a farmer" commercial. i cried when lazaro, with his severe stuttering, sung on american idol. 
i cried when ellen surprised yet another single mother with money and scholarships for all of her children...especially when her oldest one when asked, "so you want to go to college, right?" and he answered with, "i will go to college." 
i cried yesterday, when my compassionate doctor worked with me on changing my prescriptions, yet again, in hopes of keeping my migraines under control. i told her about my harrowing week last week and she reached out and touched my arm in sympathy. that always makes me cries.

i cried today because of jill. if you have fifteen minutes and you're a woman and you have your breasts or you've had one or both of your breasts removed, or you know someone who has or has had breast cancer or any kind of cancer, or if you know someone who is young and in love and who radiates lights and is determined, or if you're married to a man who you know will do anything for you or if you have friends that mean the world to you, then you need to watch this video. you need to meet jill.

i cried when i read the words "what i didn't expect and could never have anticipated was how adrift i would feel without the constant demands of family life to anchor me in place or the small, daily tasks of motherhood to give direction and shape to my days." 
i'm reading "the magical journey" by katrina kenison and feeling validated by her words. nobody tells you just exactly how empty the "empty nest" actually feels...so she's doing her best to leave us all rest assured that it will get better and that "our time" is a gift we need to lean into and cherish.

well, there. that's enough tears for now. so go watch the jill video. i really, really want you to. thanks.

February 5, 2013

it's her day.....

today's her day
twenty five years ago, after a carefully watched pregnancy, due to some issues at the beginning and then a miserable delivery with hours of back labor, this beautiful angel was placed on my chest and has lived in my heart ever since.

she exudes light, has grown into the most spectacular woman and has never been afraid to use her wings. she wears her heart on her sleeve for all to see and somedays it's literally larger than life itself and i wonder how she even carries it. 

her little brother is the luckiest kid in the world. for years, they were like any other siblings who fought with, yelled at and ignored each other, because that's what siblings do. but no matter what he did {good, bad or otherwise} she has always watched out for him.

now that they're adults, the love and the bond connecting them {that's always been there, just not as recognizable as it is now} has grown and blossomed into something beautiful. often, my hubby and i look at each other after we've all been together for dinner or an event and have really done nothing more than watch the two of them together, doing nothing more than just being themselves and we smile. for deep in our hearts, after years of wondering how well we've raised our kids {was that cow's milk bad, did all of our moving traumatize them, did we keep them in their cribs too long, it was only seven stitches to close the gash on his head, she won't eat any vegetables, at least it's not projectile vomiting, he's at urgent care because i feed him something with peanuts, did she have tubes in her ears too many times, etc} we know we've done something right. 

happy birthday baby girl. i hope your day is filled with the kind of love that you spread so easily.

February 4, 2013

day one::photography this and that.....

today is day one of answering your questions regarding photography. i'll start with a little disclaimer if you don't mind, that will hopefully prevent anyone from thinking i know everything about photography, because i don't. anything that i'll be sharing here is based on what works for me, what someone has told me, or is what i have found while searching for answers myself.
to answer some of vicky's questions, i am self taught. granted, the men who work at our local camera store have been more than patient with me and have taught me so many things that my camera can do for me, but for the most part, i learn by practicing, making lots of mistakes and googling anything i get stuck on. i also rely heavily on other photographers for inspiration. from the day i started shooting and wanted to soak in everything photography related, tara whitney has been my go-to girl. i love how she sees life through her lens. i also love james and katie.
let's do this
i'm a natural light photographer {and pride myself on that} which means i never use flash. well almost never. mark and marilyn asked if it's necessary to use flash to prevent blurriness in photos and my answer is no.
let's talk a little bit about what i think are the three main things that let me and hopefully you, take a photo with minimal lighting and without any blurriness.

1. one is your ISO. most of us don't want to go above 1600 ISO and that's fine, but many cameras are now made to push your ISO higher and higher. so push it a little and see what happens. for most of us, our photos will come out a little noisy, but i'd rather have a noisy photo then one taken with a flash any day. besides, i like those old fashioned, grainy "looks like film" photos and if you do any photo editing, then you know you can always remove that noise. {more on that later}

2. your aperture setting is so important. oh shoot, let's back up a second. i only shoot in aperture mode and by the end of everything that i'll be sharing during the month of february, i hope you will be, too. with that said, let's talk a little bit about why your aperture is so important. aperture {also known as f-stop} is basically the hole in your lens that lets light into your camera. if your aperture is set wide open {which is a small number like f/1.4 to f/2.8} you will be letting in as much light as possible and your depth of field {we'll come back to that later} will be greater. a larger aperture like f/8 to f/22 will put all of your subjects on a level playing field with little to no depth of field and is letting in very little light.
if i've confused you, no worries, as i'll talk more about aperture later on when i share why lenses are so important and we talk a little more about depth of field.

3. one thing i will do when i'm really in a pinch and my light is disappearing {and i've got my aperture on 1.4 and my ISO on 1600 or higher} is to overexpose the photo. if you don't know where that setting is on your camera, find it. it might become your new best friend. overexposing a photo by just a stop or two can make a huge difference when you're struggling for light.

4. we'll get into shutter speed next time. for those who shoot in shutter priority, well they're probably laughing at me right about now for not starting with that, but for those who shoot in aperture priority like myself...well, they understand my love for it and why it came first.

let's go back to the "almost never" when it comes to using the built in flash on my camera. a few years ago i bought this light bouncer and i have to say, if you really want to use your flash and pretty much ignore everything i just talked about above {when it comes just to lighting} well then this little baby is for you. i have to be honest with you and tell you that this little thing can work miracles.
in our kitchen where the cabinets, counters and walls all have a honey tone to them, the coloring on my photos is always too warm and yellow, but with the bouncer, my photos look perfect color wise. because it's a light bouncer, they say it works best in rooms with a white ceiling, as that's what the flash is bouncing off of, but i have found i can bounce it off almost anything and it works just fine.
with all that said, i have to be honest with you and tell you that i almost never use it. in fact, i pulled it out to just to play with it while getting ready for these photography notes and i hadn't seen it for at least year. i think it missed me.

so i think this is it for day one, since sometimes just reading can feel overwhelming. i'll be trying to split things up the best i can, based on questions i received. don't hesitate sending me a note saying help, even it there is a "whining" undertone to it.  really, you can. OR wait...how about i just have everyone hop on a plane and let's do all this photography stuff in my kitchen for a few days while we drink tea and stay up too late, laughing?

February 2, 2013

a bit flighty and photography 101.....

to be honest with you, i'm thrilled that january is over and done with. kaput, gone and only a memory. maybe i sound harsh, but january for me seemed to have joined forces with 2012 and was not the start to "the new year" that i'd been waiting for, but rather an extension of a year i was so happy to have put behind me. 
so february, i'm sorry, but i'm putting pressure on you to be my mr. wonderful. i hope you can do it.
today we are celebrating A LOT. our son just graduated with his associates degree in sound engineering, our daughter's birthday is tuesday, our son's girlfriend's birthday is today and i just accepted a new job yesterday and start on monday. can you say noisemakers and party hats :)
photography tips 101

did you think maybe i forgot? not a chance. on february 4th, 11th 18th and the 25th i will be answering many of the questions that i received from so many of you {thank you} and sharing some of my everyday photography and editing tips. originally, i was going to do 8 posts. instead there will 4 very full posts, shared on a monday, with hopes that you'll have all week to play. at anytime while you're playing, feel free to send me a note if you have more questions or if i have confused you in any way.

just FYI, these are the cameras i currently shoot with and this video made me cringe a bit. i remember last year when i completely freaked out when a little kid kicked sand into my beach bag and covered my camera with a cup of sand. okay whatever, maybe it was like two tablespoons worth, but still, it almost required a visit to my therapist.