Tuesday, March 30, 2010

12 Weeks to Better Photography - Week 5

Be sure to check out Merideth's blog for a link to all of the 12 Week's participants!

This week focuses on composure hitting 6 major points:

  1. Keep it Simple
  2. The Rule of Thirds
  3. Keep and Eye on the Horizon (sort of an extension of the rule of thirds)
  4. Frame your subject
  5. Fill the Frame
  6. Try a new perspective
I'm going to be honest. I completely forgot about this week's lesson until today, so I'm just going to pull old photos that I've taken that exhibit each point.

Keep It Simple
Try to avoid too much background activity. It takes away from the subject. For example, my first image is a little to chaotic, you can see the poles in the background and it's a little distracting from James and his utter cuteness.

This second image, however is a little more easy on the eyes. My subject is clear and uninhibited.

Rule of Thirds
When taking a picture, try not to center everything. It's in our nature, I think, to want things to be symmetrical and centered. So, we automatically put our subject in the center. However, when you think about it, a lot of the images that you see and say "WOW" to aren't centered. They are often offset. So, divide your viewfinder into thirds (like a tic tac toe board) and line up your subject on one of those lines or cross points. I always say this was the turning point in my photography.

Keep and Eye on the Horizon
This is kind of an extension to the rule of thirds. Don't let your horizon cut your picture in half. Line it up at the upper third or lower third line in your image. You can see this a little in the image above.

Frame your Subject
Try using naturally occurring items to create a frame around your subject. It brings the eye in and makes the photo more interesting!

Fill the Frame
Don't let dead space kill the photo! You're taking a picture of something, let us be able to see it! 

Try a New Perspective
Don't be afraid to show off your flexibility! For kids and pets, get down on their level, see the world how they see it. Try finding a perch or just a new angle. You don't have to photograph your subject head on!

Next week: Shooting Indoors

Friday, March 26, 2010

Five Question Friday!

 I kind of like this, don't you? If you want to join in the fun, check out Mama M.'s blog!

My Little Life

1. Did you pass your driver's test on the first try?

Yep. Though I failed parallel parking miserably.

2. What is your most embarrassing moment?

Ohhhh... that's TOUGH! Let me set the scene for you. We'd been dating for less than a year. Family dinner, with all of his immediate family. Let me clarify, ITALIAN family dinner. (I still don't know everyone in his family yet).  Rob's grandmother (petite, sweet, old woman who always feels the need to feed you and is getting a little senile - I say that with love. In fact, she referred to me as Margerita for quite some time.) plays the major role in this story.

We're setting the table and food is ready. Most everyone is seated while I'm carrying a dish of some sort to the table when suddenly, Maw (Rob's grandmother) walks up behind me and, very nonchalantly, grabs my right boob. Yep, in front of everyone. Then proceeds to turn to Rob and say, "Don't worry Robby, they're real." I'm sure I turned about 8 shades of red. Best. Story. Ever.

3. What TV show would you like to be on- Oprah, Biggest Loser, or What Not to Wear?

What Not to Wear! FREE wardrobe!! And, I could definitely use some style tips. That area is not fy forte.

4. Would you ever get plastic surgery and what kind?

Surprisingly, yes. Call me ungrateful, but I'd like a breast reduction. These girls are something else, let me tell you. See story above.

5. What are your favorite jeans to wear?

The only jeans I've ever splurged on. They were $30 from the Buckle. I love them. They don't gap in the back and the glorious 35" inseam allows me to even wear heels!!

Join the fun!

MckLinky Blog Hop


Thursday, March 25, 2010

Why we hardly ever make the bed...

One of the daily things I wish I was more consistent on is making the bed. It's nice to walk into a room and have the largest piece of furniture in it actually look presentable. Part of the reason it doesn't get made is because Rob is the last one out of it. The other part is this:

But he's just so darn cute!!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wedded Wednesday - Sacrifices

Rob HATES getting up early. Me, on the other hand, as much as the actual act of getting out of bed early is not my strong suit, I enjoy getting up early. I would much rather go to work early and get out early than go in late and get out late. For Rob, being a night owl, the 9-6 schedule has worked perfectly for him for the past 3-4 years. I don't particularly care for the schedule since it really cuts into our time together, but it's not that big of a deal. So, when Rob came to me the other day and mentioned that there was a shift opening at work for 7:30-4:30 and that he was thinking about taking it, I was floored. I couldn't comprehend that he would actually voluntarily get up earlier.

He said that he hated that we couldn't spend very much time together in the evenings since by the time he got home and we ate dinner, it was time for me to go to bed. So, he wants to switch to an earlier schedule. This is one of those occasions when showing your love doesn't require diamonds or shiny things. This is one of the most thoughtful things he's done and I"m SO excited for him to be getting home earlier!!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

12 Weeks to Better Photography - Week 4

I have to admit, I was kind of dreading this week. I don't like to use my flash. The following pictures prove it. I'm not very good at it. They always get blown out and never turn out the way I want. But, the good thing is, now I know why. This week's lesson talked about the basics of flash and how to use it appropriately. The challenge called for photographing a subject outdoors in the shade and in a bright sun which casts shadows on the subjects face. Ideally, my subject would have been human. Unfortunately, this wouldn't work for me since Rob doesn't get home until almost sundown. So, the boys had to play the role and getting them to stand still is akin to controlling the weather. So, here' goes nothing. Also, my best friend, Valerie (I've mentioned her before) introduced me to Picnik. Why I've been torturing myself with Photoshop, I have no idea, because this thing is AMAZING.

Image 1/2:
Aperture: f/1.8
Shutter Speed: Automatic
ISO: Automatic

These images was my attempt to show that even when your subject is in a well-lit environment (outside on a bright sunny day) shadows can often cause issues and mute color. With a well-used flash, you can eliminate this. My issue with these photos is that I was attempting to hold Dudley still which caused me to be too close and the flash to overexpose the photo. But, you can see that the shadows which were on his face are now gone and the color is MUCH better (well, sort of).

Image 3/4:
Aperture: f/1.8
Shutter Speed: Automatic
ISO: Automatic

These images were my attempt to show that again, even though the subject is shadowed entirely (especially when there is a backlight) you can use a flash to lighten the subject. Again, this is a very poor representation, but, I did my best!

I'll definitely be practicing this more when I have a more manageable subject.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Five Question Friday

This is something I came across on an awesome blog I follow found here. It's called Five Question Friday and was started on My Little Life.

My Little Life

So, here's goes:

1Have you ever had a celeb sighting?
      Unless you count Coldplay coming into the crowd at their concert, nope. I'm not cool like that.

2. What temperature do you keep your house?
      In the winter, around 73. Surprisingly, Rob doesn't mind. In the summer, 78. Rob doesn't like that as much. If I had my way, it would be 78 in the house year round. I love it warm. 

3. Do you notice dust at other peoples homes?
      Nope. I think I've practiced ignoring dust in  my house enough that I don't really notice it anywhere now. I hate dusting.

4. What's the worst job you ever had?
      I worked for 3 months last summer at a children's shoe store at the mall. My first, and hopefully last, experience in retail. 

5. What is your most sentimental possession?
      This is tough. Probably the pearls I wore at my wedding. They were my grandmothers and my mom gave them to me for a birthday gift after having them restrung. I love them and they remind me of family and love and happiness. I'm sure there are many other things though!

P.S. Like my new signature? I think it's pretty cute!

Yesterday was awesome...

Long pause... NOT!

I had been looking forward to yesterday all week. Wednesday, I spent a great day hanging out with my mom, my favorite thing to do, and had plans to help my best friend and lovely neighbor, Valerie, paint her nursery. She's a little over 6 months pregnant with what I'm sure will be a chunky, dimple-cheeked, adorable baby boy for me to spoil. We got up, went to Home Depot, picked up some paint and got started. She was taping and I was trimming. Literally, within the span of 5 minutes, it hit me. Excruciating pain like I've never felt before. It started as a small ache in my side like I turned wrong and quickly had me doubled over and barely able to stand, let alone talk and tell anyone what was going on. Not like I could really figure out what was going on myself.

She was amazing. She grabbed me an ice pack (the first thing I could think of to help the pain) and asked what she could do. If you know me, you know I'm not one to take things too seriously. I don't go to the doctor very often, let alone the emergency room, but I was at a loss. I needed help. So, I called Rob and told him to come pick me up and take me to the ER. While I was waiting for him, I vomited (I'm still embarrassed that I left that in a bowl in Valerie's kitchen sink) and she graciously put my shoes on. We hopped in the car (okay, I didn't hop, but you know) and made our way to the ER.

Vomiting must have done something because I was already feeling better. They checked me in and we waited. And waited. And waited. I was feeling fine for the most part by then and really just wanted to go home. But, we needed to get checked out.

5 hours, 1 cat scan, and a urine test later and I was diagnosed with a kidney stone. They said I probably already passed it. Thank God. It was awful. I NEVER want to experience that again. I've heard though, that the pain of a kidney stone is akin to labor and childbirth. So, I feel a renewed sense of confidence that I will be able to survive the experience.

I guess I'll be adding a little more of this to my diet:

But that's another battle in an of itself.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Wedded Wednesday - In Sickness and In Health

We all said it when we got married (well, almost all, but you know what I mean). When we got married, we vowed that we would stand by our husbands/wives no matter what. In moments of happiness and sadness, rich or poor, sick or healthy. I said the vows and I meant them. But, I have to admit I'm not very good at taking care of my sick husband.

What can I say? It really takes a lot for me to give sympathy. Blame it on teaching 12-15 year olds. "Oh, you forgot your homework? For the 3rd time this week? Wow, that stinks. And what would you like me to do about that?"

Well, Rob requires a lot of care when he's sick, which I don't think is uncommon among men. I try really hard to care for him and to be supportive and loving. But, I know I'm not very good at it. It's a weakness. He came home last night running a low-grade fever (not really breaking 100 much) and it's lingered for today and this evening. There's not much I can do for him, besides give him Tylenol and make sure he eats and drinks. So, I go about my business. But, I know there are things I can do better and I'm going to try harder. Because that's what being married is all about. Caring for one another and giving 100%, 100% of the time.

We'll see if I still have a bit of sympathy in  my heart...

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Clomid Cycle 1 = Fail

It may be a little early to call it, but I'm fairly positive I've reached the end of my first cycle on Clomid. I ended up having one hot flash in the middle of the night and no other side effects of the medication. Unfortunately, it didn't work. I never ovulated. I feel a lot better now about the situation than I did last week (you can read the post I made on that at the bottom). I was really discouraged and frustrated. Now I just have to call the doctor and find out what to do next. I'm really hoping my period shows up on its own and I don't have to go through the 10 days of progesterone pills to get it to start again. Maybe the next cycle will be a success.

I realized after I started posting about our issues with trying to conceive that I would need to be careful about what I post. I am so happy I have this place to put all my thoughts in order and it really helps during those times I'm feeling overwhelmed. But if we are successful, I don't want to share that news right away. This is something Rob and I agreed on when we started trying. So, from here on out I won't be writing too much on the subject as far as updates. I feel a little torn, because this is my place to share, my place to vent and chronicle things. But, like I said, we don't want to share that news too early. Does that make sense? I backed myself into that corner. :)

Anyway, in regards to this cycle I've come to terms with it. I've struggled with sharing the following with you, for a couple of reasons. One, because when I wrote it, there was still a chance I might ovulate. Two, it's pretty raw. I don't normally share my feelings like that and I still think some of them were unjustified. But, I believe in honesty. This is what I was feeling and I can't hide that. I feel so blessed for the many things I have and if God decides it is going to take a little longer for us to get pregnant, I'm okay with that. I have to be. I guess I was a little angry with God when I wrote this. A little frustrated. Disappointed. I'm feeling better now.

Feel free to read, if you like. I wrote this two weeks ago Thursday, the day I kind of viewed as the cutoff for this cycle. But, if you're not really wanting to read something depressing (like this post isn't already depressing enough), stop reading here.

I'm discouraged. I've been depressed all week. The worst part is, I don't feel like I have a right to be discouraged. I'm frustrated with myself and feel completely selfish. The clomid hasn't worked this cycle. I have not ovulated. I guess I was hoping that it would be perfect, an easy fix. And maybe it will be with the next cycle. But I can't help but be disappointed and discouraged. I know it's still early in the game. I know that I'm young and have time. But, I can't help feeling what I'm feeling.

I have this battle going on in my head. I'm disappointed that it didn't work. That I'm not pregnant. I'm annoyed that I'll be doing this dance again next month. What if the same thing happens? I'm annoyed with myself for wishing the days away until I reach certain "milestones" in the cycle - (progesterone, period, clomid, ovulation?, test?) I'm angry at myself for allowing these thoughts to consume me so much.

I feel faithless and unworthy. If I can't trust God to do this for me, how can I expect it to happen? I want to turn my brain off and give it all over. I want to not be worried about it. I've tried. Women have gone through much worse than this. YEARS of trying and medical procedures and still have no children. What right have I to complain? What right do I have to be so selfish? What right do I have to be upset that we haven't been successful in the several months we've been trying?

And I'm jealous. I'm jealous of the two friends I have who just found out they are pregnant. I'm so happy for them. Truly, I am. I'm thrilled that they are experiencing something so amazing. But, I'm jealous. That could be me. But it's not.

I'm determined. Tomorrow is a new day. God is good. Everything will be okay.

12 Weeks to Better Photography - Week 3

Wow. I can't believe it's been 3 weeks since I started this series! This week we will be focusing on White Balance. This is something I never touched in my amateur photography adventures, but it has definitely shined a new light on things. Basically, there are different types of light depending on the source. There's a whole scientific explanation behind it, but I won't get into that.

Certain types of light give off a hue or tone to the objects it casts light on. The sun gives the most "pure" light - white light. It allows us to see colors for what they truly are. Though even the sun can cast color in a different way. Indoor lights all do different things the the hue of color as well, depending on the source of the light. Fluorescent light bulbs and incandescent light bulbs are each going to make your photo look one way or another.

So, this week I got to try my hand at using the custom white balance setting on my camera. Basically, you take a picture of a white sheet of paper and tell your camera that, in these lighting conditions, this is what white looks like and the camera will adjust accordingly.

Here's what I came up with:

Image 1 - Aperture Priority:
Aperture: f/1.8
ISO: 1600
Shutter Speed: 1/4000
White Balance: Auto

Image 2 - Aperture Priority:
Aperture: f/1.8
ISO: 1600

Shutter Speed: 1/4000
White Balance: Tungsten Setting

Image 3 - Aperture Priority:
Aperture: f/1.8
ISO: 1600
Shutter Speed: 1/4000
White Balance: Custom

There isn't a whole lot of difference between the first and third picture. But, you can definitely see that the color is more correct. The third picture better represents what the item (a lamp berger) actually looks like.

I am so excited about this project. I have learned SO MUCH!!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Wedded Wednesday

Running a home. I think this is one of the greatest struggles we dealt with as a newly married couple. Determining the routine of our house. Who would cook? Who would clean? Who is in charge of finances? We had our fair share of tiffs in association with learning the ropes of home ownership, but almost 2 years into our marriage, I think we have ironed most of it out (haha, only to have it upset again by a baby, hopefully).

We were as green as it gets when it comes to homeownership (and I'm not talking eco-friendly). Neither of us had lived on our own before, even through college we both lived at home. We had never experienced caring for ourselves. I must say, I think I adjusted a lot more quickly and efficiently than Rob. While I had never lived on my own, I definitely knew the basics of running a home. Cooking, cleaning, laundry, general maintenance. Though Rob would never admit it, I'm still the one who does most of the housework. Even cutting the grass. I have to laugh because I'm the one that had to light the pilot on the water heater when it went out and I put the Christmas lights up. I think I even changed the headlights on his car and put air in his tires. What can I say?

The business has definitely affected the balance of these activities. But that's okay. There are times when I feel frustrated about the lack of help on his part, but a small mention of my feelings and he's asking how he can help. He's good like that (I think it's a guy thing that you have to ASK for things to get done). He's awesome about cleaning up after dinner and usually takes the dogs out.

This is what marriage is all about, right? Finding your niche. Making it work. Learning together. We'll see what I'm saying about things when we throw a little one into the mix. :)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

12 Weeks to Better Photography - Week 2

**Let me preface this by saying that this is a really long post. It helps me to gain understanding by writing it out, explaining it myself. So, I hope I don't confuse you and if you want, go straight to the source of the information.

This week scared me a bit. I'm all over aperture. It makes sense and is what I focus on a lot. This week, however, we were diving into the world of ISO and Shutter Speed. I know what shutter speed is - how quickly the shutter (the little door that opens in front of your film/image sensor) operates. ISO - film speed - not as much. The thing is, is that in order for you to get a properly exposed picture you have to understand how these three things work together. It's a balancing act, when one changes, the others may need to change as well or you'll end up with blurry or dark or blown out pictures. So, here goes nothing.

Let's start with ISO. Like I said, ISO is film speed or, how quickly your image will be captured. The higher the ISO, the quicker the image is captured; the lower the ISO, the slower.

Higher ISO = Quicker capture = Less light required
Lower ISO = Slower capture = More light required

The numbers used to represent ISO are 100, 200, 400, 800, and 1600. This handy little chart helps you to know when to use what setting:

As you can see in the chart: More light = Lower ISO, Less light = Higher ISO.

You want to use the lowest setting allowable as the higher the ISO you use, the more possibility there is for grainy images (image noise) since there isn't enough time for the camera to capture the details.

Now, shutter speed. Also, like I said, this is how fast the little door (shutter) closes. It ranges from several seconds (bulb setting) to fractions of a second (1/4000th). A faster shutter speed will freeze action (think sports players flying through the air). A slower shutter speed will create a blurred effect (think an image of a highway with bands of light from the cars driving by).

Rules of thumb:

  • Use a tripod for shutter speeds 1/50 of a second and below to prevent blurred images.
  • If you are taking a picture with the camera in hand, use a shutter speed 1/60 of a second or faster. Hold your breath when taking the picture and if your subject is moving at all (a wiggly child, for example) up your shutter speed.
  • For fast moving subjects, use a shutter speed 1/1000 of a second or faster.
Now that we have the details out of the way, lets dig in to the practice part. 

The question we are focusing on this week is: "When should I use a fast shutter speed?" 

I am operating my camera in Tv mode, or shutter priority mode. This means I choose the shutter speed I want and the camera will set everything else (aperture) so that the exposure is correct. The lighting wasn't fantastic for my images this week, but I did my best. Observe shutter speed:

Image 1: 
Shutter Speed: 1/1250 sec.
ISO: 1600 (I was indoors with poor lighting)
f-stop: f/2.2

Notice how the water coming off the glass is "stopped" mid-motion? You can see the bubbles and droplets.

Image 2:
Shutter Speed: 1/80 second
ISO: 1600
f-stop: f/8

Notice how the water is "flowing" in the picture?

The faster the shutter speed, the faster the camera takes the picture; the slower the shutter speed the slower the camera takes the picture.

Now, notice what changed in the properties of the images? The f-stop. In order to allow enough light for correct exposure, the camera changed the aperture. The top image has a much shallower depth of field the than the bottom.

Phew! This lesson goes into a lot more detail about operating in manual mode and adjusting the shutter speed, ISO, and aperture on your own. But, this post is long enough. I may go into this another day. I hope I was clear!

Are these posts helpful? Do you have any suggestions?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Spring is Here!

The weather FINALLY relented and on Sunday I got to get out in the yard and clean up our landscaping a little bit! It was beautiful. The sun was shining, the weather was warm (well, warmer) and guess what I saw? Green stuff! My bulbs are starting to poke through!!

We've got crocuses and hyacinths that usually come up first. I can't wait for some color!!

Saturday, March 6, 2010


I realized it's been a while since I posted about Isabella. She's already well past 2 and is hamming it up for the family. We are in love with her. She's so sweet and is talking up a storm.

And, SO beautiful!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Morning Routine

My boys do NOT like to get up in the morning. On the weekends they'll sleep till 10. During the week Rob gets them out of bed and puts them outside before they go into their crate for the day. He always tells me how much they hate getting up. Then, the sent me this picture today.

Apparently when Rob brought Dudley back inside and walked him into our room to go in the crate he jumped back in bed and gave him this look. Pathetic, isn't it? "But I want to go back to bed dad!"

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

James doing his homework

My nephew is growing up SO fast. He is in preschool and they have to do homework every week which is basically writing his name and the letter of the week. Check him out.

He's concentrating so hard!

I am one proud auntie!!

Did I say concentrating??

I laugh out loud every time I see this picture. Can't they stay little forever?

Wedded Wednesday - Rob Says

I'm totally stealing this idea from Meredith (you should check out her blog anyway, this is also where I got the photography lessons from). So I thought I'd give Rob a little space on the blog. I mean, I talk about him an awful lot, he deserves it right?

1. As most of my blog readers know, you started a business. What is it? Why did you do it? Have you learned any good life lessons?
We are trying to bring something new to the gaming world.  We want people to have a place to go to to participate in video game events, tournaments, midnight launch parties, etc. and have fun.  Every event is also free.  We have always had a passion for video games and simply looked at 1. What do gamers want?  2. Is anyone giving it to them?  Gamers want much more and that is what we're here for.  I have learned to have patience, things move slowly with a business but always work out for the best.

2. We're going on 2 years!! What is the best part of being married? What has been the worst? Any advice for the newlyweds out there?
The best part of being married is not having to constantly say goodbye and go a day or sometimes two without seeing that person.  The worst part is money, buying and filling a house with stuff is expensive...  My advice would be to double, triple, and quadruple check yourself financially before deciding to buy a house and get married. 

3. We're trying to have a baby. How do you feel about this? What do you expect? How do you think our lives will change with a new little life?
I feel like I am slowly preparing myself mentally for this and I honestly don't know what to expect.  I think we will be even busier but I also think it will bring us together in a way that nothing else can.

4. If you could change one thing about your life, what would it be?
Spending more time with my grandpa before he died...

5. Is your life today where you imagined it would be five years ago?
My life is right about where I hoped it would be, sans being a published writer. 

6. Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?
Hopefully, retired, with kids, and happy. 

7. What is your favorite meal that I make? What is your least favorite?
I love it when you make scrambled eggs, also your salsbury steak is amazing.  Their really isn't anything you make that I don't like.

8. What is a lesson you learned as an adult that you wished someone would have taught you growing up?
To be patient, if you're meant to have something you'll get it.  Just sit back and relax, do your best, work hard, and everything will work out in the end. 

Do you like hearing from Rob? It's funny, he is the funniest person I know (and several people can attest to this), but his writing is always so serious... maybe I'll do a verbal interview next time. 

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

By The Way

I am a bad blogger and completely forgot to give credit to the sources for my last post!

So, the 12 Weeks to Better Photography is from Two Peas in a Bucket and week one is found here, and I can't wait for next's weeks subject on ISO and Shutter Speed.

The lovely lady who is "hosting" this fun blogging adventure is Meredith. I've thoroughly been enjoying her blog!

Check back on Tuesday for my next "lesson."

12 Weeks to Better Photography - Week 1

Aperture, right up there with the rule of thirds, I feel is one of the techniques in photography that I feel has made the biggest difference in my photos. I'm glad they started this course with it. It can be confusing (I found this when trying to explain it to my photography club students at school) because the "rules" behind it are sort of backwards.

Aperture is essentially how much of your picture is in focus. The lower the aperture , the less the picture is in focus (narrower depth of field). The higher the aperture, the more the picture is in focus.

As far as technicalities are concerned, you may have heard the term "f-stop." F-stop and aperture are interchangeable terms. "F-stop" comes from the symbol used to denote aperture. The standard lens' f-stop can be anywhere from f/4 to f/22. The lens I used for today's post is the "nifty-fifty" which has the ability for a lower aperture of f/1.8. This allows for a very narrow depth of field.

Observe (pardon the poor subject matter):

Aperture: f/1.8 = Very narrow depth of field.

Aperture: f/5.6 = Wider depth of field, the background is coming into focus

Aperture: f/22 = The whole picture is in focus (well, sort of, the background is a little grainy)

Thanks for tuning in!