Wednesday, July 27, 2011

i heart ___.

1. Ben's new tag from Make Your Dog Smile by Hattie Rex

Yall remember those cute garden and farm tees I shared a few weeks ago? That artist, Beryl Lynn, hosted an etsy giveaway on her blog a few weeks ago, and I won the prize from Hattie Rex. I got a credit to the Make Your Dog Smile etsy store, so I picked out this cute copper and nickel star tag and had it personalized with Ben's name and our phone numbers. I deleted the phone numbers from the photo--Jonathan doesn't need a picture of his phone number roaming around the world wide web.

In normal little boy style, Ben was more excited about the box. He stole the box off the kitchen table and ran around the house with it--that's what he does when he gets hold of something he knows he's not supposed to have. I retrieved it, and put it up until Jonathan got home and could see the whole package. After Jonathan had a chance to see it and made a plan to attach it to Ben's collar the next morning, he put it all on a table in our den. Ben stared at it and danced--he can be very poodle-y sometimes. So we gave him the box, much to his satisfaction.

2. carrots from my garden.

This was my first carrot growing experience. If my parents ever grew carrots, it was before I can remember. I started them with my spring garden, and probably would have needed to harvest them a lot earlier, but since my garden is getting over watered this summer, the spring fruits and veggies are still thriving. I planted a variety, hoping for lots of purple carrots, but I ended up with mostly white and yellow. It turns out, the white and yellow aren't my fave. I much prefer the orange and purple ones, so that's what I'll try next time.

This website is full of healthy, fun recipes and photos. There are several recipes I use regularly, a few I've tried out, and sometimes the website is just good for cooking inspiration. I was thinking today, I cook and bake almost everything from scratch, and it's recipes like these that make it so doable!! 

If you have kids, you can check out how they can help you out in the kitchen. If that isn't something you're used to doing, I can imagine you're thinking about how they'd slow you down, or make a mess; but it will be worth it for them to learn. My siblings and I helped my mom bake (sweets) and watched her cook when we were growing up. She taught us how to read recipes and measure ingredients. I don't know that I ever prepared an entire meal until I got married, but I knew how! My cousins are great cooks too, and I credit it to us being in the kitchen--occasionally--with our moms and grandmothers. 

Here are some of my favorites:
banana nut mini muffins (i make lots of muffins--i have other recipes too)

and here are a few I want to try soon:

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Tracy & Jeff - Smithfield, North Carolina Family Portraits

My cousin Jeff and his family came into town to visit last week and asked me to take some photos of their family of four, with a baby on the way. So exciting.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Photography Tips & Tutorial - Raleigh, NC Photography Classes

My most recent photography class was a couple Saturdays ago. I had some great students that brought some good questions. We got a lot more technical than I expected, but I thought it was awesome they wanted to learn so much. I still seemed to be in my instructor mode last week, when one of my friends who is interested in improving her photography, asked me about one of my photos from a recent blog post. I almost wrote her a dissertation. I thought that was a good idea for a blog post, though, so I'm going to try it out--hopefully without too much wordiness. 

I'm going to try to give you a little tutorial about the technical side of how I photographed and processed a portrait. I'm starting with a pretty basic setup, and if this works well, I may move to explaining more challenging situations in the future. Here we go:

Let's start with some context; shall we? I took this photo at a spring photographers' retreat this past April. It turned out to be chilly and windy, and the light condition was constantly changing with clouds getting blown in and away again. When I did the guest blog post at Great Smitten a couple months ago, one of my tips for improving your photos was "use natural light," and seek shade: "In the middle of the day, look for shady spots like under trees or awnings to help cut down strong contrast and squinty eyes." And that's exactly what I did for this photo. (if you haven't read through that post, you should click over to check it out. You'll get some good tips.)

I shoot with my camera in manual mode for everything, all the time. I was using my Canon 5d, and 50mm 1.4 lens. I had the aperture opened all the way up to f/1.4, with a shutter speed of 1/640 of a second, and an iso of 100. This combination of settings allowed me to have the proper exposure for the photo--not too dark and not too light. It's really important for me when I'm taking photos, to get as much right in the camera as I can. That saves me time and energy later in post processing.

I used Lightroom to crop and rotate the photo. I adjusted the color balance for cooler skin tones. The red brick wall was casting red light on everything--the model, the floor, ceiling--so I needed to get that red out for more pleasing and accurate color. 

I exported the photo and opened it in Photoshop. For this photo, all I needed to do in photoshop was soften the skin with the blur tool, and soften the lines on her face with the clone stamp tool. Finally, I sharpened the image for printing using a photoshop action and saved it as a jpg. If I thought I would want to do more work to the photo, I would have saved it as a psd, but that wasn't necessary this time. 

Here is a higher resolution comparison of the model's face, so you can see more detail of what I did.

And for fun, I'm including a similar photo in black and white. 

If you want to learn more about how you can improve your photography and better enjoy using your camera, you can sign up for the beginner photography class. And if you didn't understand any of the terms I was just talking about, that's totally OK!!!

If you want to take it a step further and learn more about the things I'm describing in this post--manual mode, editing photos--an advanced photography class is in the works to include some shooting practice and photoshop elements work (maybe elements, we'll see). You'll see more info on that soon.

As always, I'd love your feedback. Let me know what you thought about this post, or things you'd like to see me discuss in the future. If you have any questions about the Beginner Photography Class I'm currently offering, or the Advanced Photography Class that I'm planning, please let me know. Send me an email or leave me a comment.

Monday, July 18, 2011

i heart ___.

1. the BEACH

I love it. I enjoy going with my family and hanging out on the beach all day. This photo is from Oak Island, NC. It has a good balance of being not too crowded, but still enough people for some good people watching.

2. little girl footprints in the sand. 

these were still on the beach hours after my little cousin-niece left the beach. precious.

3. custom TOMS. 

my oldest cousin-niece (no, that's not a technical term. i call my first cousins' children my cousin-nieces and cousin-nephews.) anyway, my oldest cousin-niece has these cute custom TOMS she had painted at the Style you Sole Party, at Marsh's Surf Shop at Atlantic Beach, NC.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Nia & Austin - North Carolina Engagement Photography

I'm wrapping up the blogging for Nia & Austin's engagement session in Lexington, NC. Enjoy the photos from engagement marathon part tres: Country Nia and Austin

(check out part uno / retro, and part dos / grunge.)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Beginning Photography Class - NC Family Photographer

The next group beginner photography class is scheduled for the morning of Saturday, August 20th, 9:30-12:30. 

The usual details: the class is $100 per person and must have a minimum of 3 participants.

Each person will receive a textbook to keep as a reference. The class will last 3 hours and will be limited to 3-5 people.

I will help you learn more about your camera and take better photos of your kids and friends. Here is some of what we will discuss:

- 10 tips for Taking Better Pictures
- Introduction to Exposure
- Shutter Speed
- Aperture
- Using your Camera's Basic Settings
- Lens Overview

Email me to book your spot or ask questions.

I am also offering one-on-one photography classes. One-on-one classes are great for people that would like to learn more about their specific camera. In a beginner one-on-one class we'll cover the basics of what goes into an exposure, go over the features of your camera, and help you learn when to use certain features of your camera to all you to take better pictures. We'll cover the differences between different lenses and which lens is best during different circumstances. A three-hour one-on-one class at your home or mine is $250.

You can now pay online for the beginner group class: $100

enter class date

Monday, July 11, 2011

i heart ___.

Southern California!

Jonathan and I visited the Los Angeles, CA area for a long 4th of July weekend. We loved it! One of the great parts of the trip was getting a break from NC's weather. We left temperatures in the high nineties and higher humidity for sixties and seventies with very low humidity. It was amazing. We also enjoyed visiting one of Jonathan's friends and his family for a day. We visited some of the cities around Los Angeles, like Beverly Hills and ate supper one evening at a restaurant on the beach in Malibu along the Pacific Coast Highway.

Here are some of our Southern California favorites:

1. big league baseball. and a ballpark hotdog.

Jonathan and I attended an Angels, Dodgers game at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, CA. I was a little confused about which team to cheer for since the Angels are in the same division as the Rangers (my Uncle Johnny plays for the Rangers), but I decided to cheer for the Angels for the following reasons: a. it was ok to cheer for the division in this interleague game, b. my Uncle Jerry played for the Angels in the 80s, and c. it's fun to cheer for the home team. (I put a lot of thought into it.) It was so exciting to go to the game and fun to see a different stadium!!

Now, about that crazy hotdog; I think it is called a Halo Dog. It's a hotdog wrapped with bacon, and topped with chili with beans, jack cheese, and pico de gallo. I ate some of it with a fork because it was huge.

2. Balboa Island and their competing "original frozen banana stands."

Jonathan's friend, Jim, took us to Balboa Island in Newport Beach, CA, and it was CROWDED--holiday weekend. The guys got balboa bars from one of the frozen banana stands. I enjoyed seeing the diverse architecture and all the pretty flower gardens.

This beautiful work of architecture was designed by Frank Gehry. The lobby and garden of this concert hall are open to the public. The actual concert hall is never open to the public because of performances and rehearsals, but we had fun checking out everything that we could. We visited on Sunday, and people were setting up for 2 weddings, and there was a concert going on while we were there.

4. Santa Barbara, CA

Jonathan and I spent a couple days in Santa Barbara. As I mentioned earlier, we loved the weather!! We didn't get the normal Santa Barbara experience (although I'm not entirely sure what that would have included--maybe visiting vineyards and wineries, and some bike riding or kayaking). However we did get the Santa Barbara, 4th of July experience, which was a lot of fun. That included a parade, walking to shops downtown, music on the beach, fireworks, and lots and lots and LOTS of people. Jonathan said early in the trip that CA does nothing in small quantities. The people in Santa Barbara on Monday were no exception. The rest of the photos are from Santa Barbara. . .

5. an ice cream cone during an Independence Day parade.

6. a red velvet cupcake with cream cheese frosting at the whimsical cupcake shop, WhoDelicious.

7. an Air Force jazz band playing música Latina en la playa. 

I can't figure out exactly who these guys are, but I'm guessing they're one of the ensembles from the USAF Band of the Golden West.

8. our view and the best Oysters Rockefeller I've ever had at Brophy Bros. seafood restaurant.

9. watching the fishermen bring in their catch next to the restaurant. 

We understood that those sea urchins were being exported to Japan. Does anyone like uni? I've never tried it, and I'm not sure I will anytime soon.

10. baby seals playing in the water near the beach.

I know this photos is very Loch Ness Monster-esque, but really, who doesn't love baby seals. At least that's what we were told they were. The people looked at us like we were stupid when we asked what the barking noise was, but we don't have seals in NC. We have sharks and jelly fish, neither of which are cute--even baby ones.

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