April 30, 2009

April 29, 2009

I Heart Faces - Giveaways!!

By now, if you're a frequent visitor here, you know I love I Heart Faces. Not only do they have fantastic, fun, inspirational, educational contests each week, Friday Fix-its that make good pictures into Great pictures, awesome tutorials, BUT [wait, there's more!], they ALSO have frequent give-aways -- like the one they announced today. They're promoting Alien Skin's newest product, Bokeh. It's nifty and clever and available as a free 30-day demo. So I downloaded it to play around a little (hey, it's an effective way to avoid real life responsibilities. sigh.) Here's my first manipulated photo. I won't tell you how long it took me to do this, because it's quite embarrassing. Let's just say I'm not so much a whiz with the whole "quick" selection tool in Photoshop.

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Anywho, the Bokeh plug-in gives you a way to simulate a faster aperture lens than you may have in your arsenal, thus adding "blur" & additional depth of focus to your image.

Btw, these were the pics we took for Littlest Dude turning six. Cute, but too bad I wasn't brilliant enough to make the six look like a 6 instead of a 9. :-{ Live and learn.

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I just like this one. So much.

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April 26, 2009

I Heart Faces - Reflection is the theme this week...

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As a contributing photographer, I'm not eligible, yadayadablahblahblah... just playing along for fun. Be sure and check out all the other fun entries at I Heart Faces!



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The Road...

The Grand Canyon Road


Show me the path where I should walk, O LORD; point out the right road for me to follow. Psalm 25:4

A person with good sense is respected; a treacherous person walks a rocky road. Proverbs 13:15

How can we understand the road we travel? It is the LORD who directs our steps. Proverbs 20:24

The guilty walk a crooked path; the innocent travel a straight road. Proverbs 21:8

The lazy person is full of excuses, saying, "I can't go outside because there might be a lion on the road! Yes, I'm sure there's a lion out there!" Proverbs 26:13 ;-)

But for those who are righteous, the path is not steep and rough. You are a God of justice, and you smooth out the road ahead of them. Isaiah 26:7

And a main road will go through that once deserted land. It will be named the Highway of Holiness. Evil-hearted people will never travel on it. It will be only for those who walk in God's ways; fools will never walk there. Isaiah 35:8

Listen! I hear the voice of someone shouting, "Make a highway for the LORD through the wilderness. Make a straight, smooth road through the desert for our God. Isaiah 40:3

I will lead blind Israel down a new path, guiding them along an unfamiliar way. I will make the darkness bright before them and smooth out the road ahead of them. Yes, I will indeed do these things; I will not forsake them. Isaiah 42:16

So now the LORD says, "Stop right where you are! Look for the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls. But you reply, `No, that's not the road we want!' Jeremiah 6:16

Each time the message was this: "Turn from the evil road you are traveling and from the evil things you are doing. Only then will I let you live in this land that the LORD gave to you and your ancestors forever." Jeremiah 25:5

He is a voice shouting in the wilderness: "Prepare a pathway for the Lord's coming! Make a straight road for him!" Mark 1:3; Luke 3:4


Confession: I took a couple liberties with this post. In order to more aptly fit the image to the verses, I used the "looser" New Living Translation which extrapolates "road" from the word "path." (in my defense --grin-- even the Vulgate uses the word "road"/via in most of these verses). But if King James is more your flavor, feel free to swap "path" for every "road" you read, and visualize the above highway as a mere dirt path. :-)

Blessings...



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April 24, 2009

Lightroom - Playing around with Split-Toning

It's that time of week again at I Heart Faces: Fix-it Friday

Here's the "fix-it" photo for the week...
fix it 11


You can find the specific details of my "fix" at I Heart Faces. But here's the quick version of the meat & potatoes of my fix this week:

In Lightroom, I flipped the image and cropped it to a square. Now, this is where it gets fun ... with split-toning. :-) This is my first time playing around with split toning; and, if I can do it, so can YOU!

Below left I have pictured Lightroom's develop panel. On the top right is my Photoshopped b/w image. Below that is the close-up of the split toning panel (which, ironically, is smaller the longer version on the left) where I picked new colors for highlights and shadows (which you can see pictured in the small boxes) and played around with the saturation sliders til I got an effect that was pleasing to my eye. On the bottom right is the resulting teal-ish greenish image.

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I pulled the four tinted images I liked best into Fotofusion and made the following simple collage.

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I LOVE Fotofusion and use it all the time to create quickie collages for this blog. You can download and use the software completely free of cost (at Lumapix.com). The only "charge" for your demo privilege is that Lumapix will put their logo on your collage (their logo disappears, of course, if/when you purchase the software). I really appreciate when companies let you demo their product before you purchase. By the way, did you all know that Photoshop and Lightroom both have free 30 day demo versions available for your consideration?

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April 23, 2009

Macro.

My 100mm f/2.8 macro lens is my go-to lens for all my close-up floral photography. I love what this lens can do. And it works perfectly each time I use it, so long as I use a tri-pod. Without the tri-pod, I've failed each time. Thus, I generally never use this lens on people.

But I'm going to play around more and try to find a fast enough shutter speed and an ideal distance to shoot from (too close-up, too magnified definitely requires a much steadier hand than I possess), so that I'll be able to handhold this big lens and get people pictures.

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Because this lens definitely captures them in a different way than my other lenses. And I kinda like it.

FYI ... above photos (original crop) taken in dim light with the following settings:
800iso, f/2.8, 1/320 sec.
800iso, f/2.8, 1/125 sec.

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April 22, 2009

April 21, 2009

Dunes and the Dog Dude

Dunes + Dog Dude = Really Happy Dog Dude

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In between hills, he needed to do some serious resting.

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Sand Dunes + Dog Dude = Very Happy, Very Tired, Seriously Sandy, Dog Dude

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April 20, 2009

Sand Sledding

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Big Dude thinks quickly on his feet. He saw those sand hills and immediately pulled out the truck bed mats. They didn't prove to be very fast on the sand (tho still fun to try). If and when we go back, we'll take large pieces of cardboard with us.

A simple Totally Rad Recipe: Homestead, Go with the Grain (1-3x), Boutwell Magic Glasses.

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The Imperial Sand Dunes Recreational Area

I wish I could give you a proper perspective of the massive-ness of this area. Prevailing winds have piled up all this sand. This "dune" is 40 miles long and averages 5 miles across. Below left is a wide shot; on the right is an enlargement of the little "black dot" (aka dune buggies) on the sand on the left.

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And it's not just long and wide. It's super steep.

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So, of course, we tried some sledding...

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More to come. I'm having too hard a time narrowing down the "show these" photos. So to save me some thinking time, I'm just going to inundate the blog with way too many sand photos over the next couple days...

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April 19, 2009

You will make known to me the path of life ...

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...The LORD longs to be gracious to you,
And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you.
For the LORD is a God of justice;
How blessed are all those who long for Him.
O people in Zion, inhabitants in Jerusalem, you will weep no longer.
He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry;
when He hears it, He will answer you.
Although the Lord has given you the bread of privation and water of oppression,
He, your Teacher, will no longer hide Himself,
but your eyes will behold your Teacher.
And your ears will hear a word behind you, "This is the way, walk in it,"
whenever you turn to the right or to the left.
Isaiah 30:18-21


Hear a just cause, O LORD, give heed to my cry; Give ear to my prayer ...
Hold up my goings in thy paths, O LORD, that my footsteps slip not.
I have called upon Thee, for Thou wilt answer me, O God;
Incline Thine ear to me, hear my speech.
Wondrously show Thy lovingkindness,
O Savior of those who take refuge at Thy right hand
From those who rise up against them...
As for me, I shall behold Thy face in righteousness;
I will be satisfied with Thy likeness when I awake.
Psalm 17:1,5-7,15


Thou wilt make known to me the path of life;
In Thy presence is fulness of joy;

In Thy right hand there are pleasures forever.
Psalm 16:11

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April 18, 2009

Self-Portraits....

... ad nauseum. Because it's Self-Portrait week at I Heart Faces. :-)

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But wait! There's more! Here are my self-portraits that include my kiddos!

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Yeah. I know. I'm only supposed to choose ONE photo for each category. But, since I'm an I Heart Faces contributing photographer, and I'm not eligible to win the contests, I'm thus also not held to the strict requirements to win! Awww, such freedom. ;-)

Would you believe that I've taken all these sp's in just the last three months?!? That almost qualifies me as a narcissist. Well, unless you consider that I've taken in excess of 3000 images in that same time period, which pretty much dilutes the perception of my unreasonable quantity of sp's.

Anywho, a couple more fun/silly images that fall into the same subject matter ...

Here's a picture fellow contributor Marshall Garlington took of me and his beautiful wife Julie doing the self-portrait thang (the resulting image is the first one in the first collage above):

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Here's a self-portrait gone bad. Even tho I'd put the camera in "auto" mode, which is supposed to focus on the closest item (me), it apparently wasn't able to focus on my glass lens, so instead it found my son way at the end of the hallway...

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One more fun one. I took this shot with my Rebel in a candy store. I'm shooting into one of those round mirrors that hangs up near the ceiling. If you look closely, you can see my husband and boys on the other side of the store (near "3 o'clock" in the mirror):

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If you've made it this far, here are my best self-portrait tips:

1. Grow your arms really, really long. (kidding!)
2. Use as wide a lens as you have.
3. Use a smaller aperture (bigger "number") so that you're more likely to be fully in focus.
4. Put your camera in "program" (if you wish to choose your specific aperture) or "full auto" mode. Since you will be the closest subject, it will most likely focus correctly on you.
5. Consider reflective items - mirrors, shiny cars/pianos/teapots/sunglasses whatever.
6. Consider shadow shots. They're totally fun (AND none of your wrinkles show up!!)
7. If taking a group shot, get super close and cozy. If you're not close & cozy, you're gonna need those longer arms I mentioned in #1.
8. Have fun!

Be sure to head over to I Heart Faces this coming week to see a whole slew of self-portraits!



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April 17, 2009

Salton Sea - South End

The Salton Sea is a freaky-deaky place. It used to be a tremendously popular resort destination. Now it's practically a ghost town. It's the middle of the desert and gets less than 3" precipitation per year. But there's this HUGE, closed basin, VERY SALTY lake - in fact, the largest lake in California. The surface of the lake is 225+ feet BELOW sea level. It is said by some to be the world's most productive fishery. It's an important wetland habit for millions of birds. There are volcanic domes at the south end; we climbed to the top of one of them.

Here we are at the Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge.

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The trail to/from the volcanic dome...

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Must be ladybug season!

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There are a bunch of these geothermal plants, taking advantage of all the hot stuff deep in the earth.

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I was dying to take a sidetrip up to the North end of the lake (where the really freaky vibe is), but we had limited daylight left and we wanted to get to the Sand Dunes before heading home for the day ...

You can see my North Shore pictures from last year's trip in these posts:

Salton Sea - Abbreviated No Words Version
This is not your grandfather's desert
Salton Sea - the wordy version

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Fix It Friday 10 - Red Rock edition ...

Here are the edits I didn't include over on my Fix It post...

Friday Fixit Arch


This was a beautiful, fun picture to work with. Head over to I Heart Faces to see more edits ...

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April 16, 2009