Sunday, June 28, 2009

Photo tips, anyone?

Landscape photography is just not my thing. It does nothing for me. Because I live in the Kansas, the flattest, most backdrop boring state, landscape photography is just not my thing. It does nothing for me. NADA. If I lived somewhere with mountains or palm trees, my opinion would likely be different. But since our assignment this past week has been to photograph landscapes, I had no other choice but to take photos of grass and wheat and stuff. Fun times. My teach suggested we travel out of the city a bit to get to the good stuff, but I passed on the chance to shoot those "breathtaking" shots with 15-foot elevations (and a few cows for good measure).
Regardless of the uninspiring subject, I managed to walk away with a few great tips for shooting landscapes and general outdoor photography.
When shooting photographs outdoors, the prime time to take them is before 10 am, and after 4 pm. Low light conditions (meaning the position of the sun, not the actual amount of light) provides for excellent color, rich texture, and perfect shadows.
The first 2 photos were shot at about 8:30am. The last one was at about 7 pm.

Have you ever been on vacation, shot some beautiful sunsets, and returned home to find they weren't as beautiful as what you actually saw? Yeah, me too. The trick to shooting a great sunset is to manually underexpose them. Many times the camera will automatically try to correct the photo, or overexpose it to justify the darkness, which is what you don't want.
These were off our back deck the other night. Not the greatest of backdrops, but I think the point comes across, and it was good practice.
Should I keep sharing photos and tips? These tips were new to me, but maybe some of you already knew them. And if anyone can tell me something that I might not know, please share!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Thinking ahead!

December will be here before you know it (really, it will!), and I've already been thinking about what to get Cameron for his 1st birthday. I've had my eye on these Anywhere Hybrid Chairs from Pottery Barn Kids, but the price has always been pretty steep. The mailman delivered a lust-worthy catalogue to my mailbox this week, and I noticed that the chair cover I wanted for him was just $29.99 (originally $79 bucks) with free personalization! I didn't think that price would go much lower before they sold out, so I caved and ordered it! YAY! I've also spotted the actual chair form insert on ebay for much cheaper than they sell at PBK. 
 Hybrid Rugby Stripe Anywhere Chair
How cool are these? I got the green rugby stripe with his name on it. I think it will be perfect as he grows (not just another "toy"), and I plan to incorporate it into the decor of his big boy room when I change it from his current nursery.  PS- most of the chair covers they offer are on sale if you are looking for a good kiddo gift!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Snippets: The good, the bad and the ugly.

I'm loving the word "snippets." If you say it over and over, it sounds pretty cool. Go ahead and try it! I'll wait...
The Good:
Gran Torino. This movie is a wonderful story and is very heartfelt. If you haven't seen it, you must do so! I promise you won't be disappointed.
The Bad:
Jon took Cameron out to run errands today for a few hours today, so I was in a hurry to get the house cleaned while they were gone. I was vacuuming when all of a sudden the vac shut off, and for nearly 10 seconds, showers of sparks and smoke were shooting out at the base where it was attached to the cord. I panicked BIG TIME. I thought for sure that thing was going up in flames. Thankfully it didn't but I think the vacuum is a goner. And I'm especially mad because we just ordered 24 vacuum bags for it.
The Ugly:
My multi-colored bruise that I got from running into a trash can in the garage. I don't bruise easily so I'm not sure how I managed this one. Yesterday it was blue and purple, and today it took on a nice yellow/green hue. It's pretty gross looking!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Big thanks & a Photography class review.

I just wanted to take a sec and thank those who commented on my last post- it felt good to get what I wrote off my chest. It's nice to know that there are others who struggle with the exact same thing and to have some reassurance that it's OK not knowing what the heck lies ahead.

1st class review:

5 minutes into class, I had decided that this was going to be money well spent. One of the first thing our instructor said at the beginning of class was that "auto focus is for weenies." Sweet! I knew that I'd probably be taking a lot from this class; the instructor has been shooting weddings and landscapes for 20 years.
I'd describe myself as someone with decent knowledge about photography; I know a lot of terminology from classes in college and reading my camera manual, but as I said before, I want to know the ins and outs of my camera and really learn how to use it. I sat next to a girl who had never taken her camera off the auto setting and had no clue what apertures and shutter speeds were. There is also a photojournalist in class, but felt she could really benefit from taking a class. I think I was in the middle of the road as far as skill level.
I know that a lot of you guys use DSLR cameras so I hope that maybe I can share a few tips along the way. I'm also going to *try* my absolute hardest not to post pictures that have been edited in photoshop. =)
The first night we just went over our cameras and their functions; we talked about all the terms and briefly went over shooting manually. Here's a few pictures I took in manual mode, un-doctered by photoshop:

As you can see, most of these are slightly overexposed or underexposed. That's where my good friend photoshop would come in handy. Regardless, it still feels good knowing that I understand how to shoot, and why images turn out the way they do. I can't wait for next week!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Thinking out loud.

Lately I've been think a lot about the next step (career wise) in my life is. I went to college, earned a degree in graphic design and advertising, and had every intention to have a pretty cool job using the skills I obtained in 4 years of school. I like to write. I like to take photographs. I like to illustrate, although I am very hard on myself and critical of my own work. 

For the last several years I've been working at an architect firm doing everything from ad design for publications, promotional material design, copywriting, basically everything except dealing with the actual architecture itself. Before I went on maternity leave, things had really slowed down as we were hardly immune to the cruddy economy. Several were laid off, and the rest (including myself) were put on a reduced work schedule. Since having Cameron, I'm only working on an as-needed basis, doing an new ad every 6 weeks or so. I am grateful for the job, and have built a nice professional portfolio there, but it no longer fuels my creative desire. 

Not a day passes that I don't think about what I'm supposed to be doing. I LOVE being a mom, but I'm the type of person who thinks I should be part of a dual income. I know I shouldn't feel this way, but I feel like being "just" a mom isn't enough. My husband works so hard, I feel like I'm not doing my part, you know? I know that being a stay at home mom is hard work- some of the hardest work I've ever done, and I'm absolutely exhausted by about 4 pm every single day. But I still feel like there is something else I should be doing. What that "something else" is, I'm not sure.

This is where I struggle- trying to figure out what I should be doing. I know that I don't want to work 50 hours a week at a grueling workplace. I've thought about illustrating and writing children's books. I've thought about freelance designing (I have done this from time to time). As much as I like photography, I don't see it developing into anything other than a wonderful hobby. I've thought about setting up a online shop where I could do custom invites, stationary, and other designed goodies. And these are just a few ideas I've been tossing around. =) 

I rarely never blog about things that really eat me, so if you made it to the end of this long winded post, thank you! I'm not even sure I should post it. I hope that by writing it all out I can better organize my thought process? At least that's what I'm telling myself. =) And if anyone has struggled with what their supposed to be doing, life's purpose, provide me some insight! 

Friday, June 12, 2009

Snippets from our week.

My blog friend Meredith does posts titled "snippets." I'm stealing this idea- it sounds much better than "random ramblings," don't you think?

Monday Cameron had his 6 month appointment. He weighs 18 lbs, and is 27.5 inches tall. He's pulling up on everything these days! I try catching his milestones on video camera, but the second I turn the camera on, he hears the "beep" sound it makes, crawls right over to me and tries to eat the dangling lens cap. 

Tuesday we drove to Kansas City for a little day trip. Jon actually had to help load a truck up there, and we also brought back some of the most expensive patio furniture sets I've ever seen for one of his customers here in Wichita. Cameron and I tagged along, because we thought that dad was only going to have to work for a few hours- but it turned in to 8 hours- which turned into me and Cameron roaming around the city to kill time. Lets sum it up, shall we? 5 o' clock KC traffic + a screaming tired baby + a GPS barking directions + no place to go = the ultimate state of frazzled-ness. I somewhat regret going, but we had a great time the following day at the T-Rex restaurant outside KC, a place we knew we wanted to take Cameron before he was even born.

It's never too early to start drivers education!

Thursday we had a garage sale along with the neighborhood. I got rid of over half my junk, and was planning to continue today, but woke up to rain and thunderstorms. Sure enough the sun came out an hour later, but I still decided I wasn't in the mood to sell anything. However, the few times I've opened the garage today to go run errands, I've had flocks of people drive by, get out and walk right up to my garage and shop. I sold around 60 dollars worth of stuff in that time, so I suppose I should have just gone ahead and pulled out my tables anyways. I have plans to go back out tomorrow and get rid of the rest of my stuff, so hopefully the weather is good to me.

Photography class starts next week. I am so excited to learn some new camera tricks!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Mom's 60th surprise birthday!

Saturday my sister and I threw a party for my mom's 60th birthday. This particular weekend has been on my mind for almost a year, and I have been dying to blog about it in some fashion, but mom reads my blog so unfortunately I've had to keep my mouth shut for a LONG time. I hate keeping secrets and this one was tough not to blab.
Anywho, the party was quite a success, if I do say so myself! Everyone seemed to have a great time. We had around 35 friends and family come and wish her a happy birthday and eat some great food that my sister cooked up. We managed to keep the party a secret until the night before, when we agreed we should go ahead and let her know that there were a few people coming by. We didn't tell her who, so I think there was still an element of surprise each time the doorbell rang! Happy Birthday, mom- we love you!

I put my college degree to work and made the invites!

My mom, sister and I

For those who dropped by and asked for the recipe of the chocolate chip cookies I made, here is the recipe. I know many of my blogging friends visit Katie over at Good Things Catered and can attest that she has many wonderful recipes- her amazing cookies are just one of them. 

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Living Room sneak peak.

I'm just about done with my parent's Living Room re-do. When we started the overhaul back in March, my goal was to have it completed in time for my mom's surprise 60th birthday party (which was TODAY- more on that to come!). It's not complete, but we're pretty close. 
Still to do:
  • hang curtains in dining room (LR and DR are open to each other)
  • getting throw pillows for the couches to bring in color
  • hang large mirror (already purchased) over the couch
  • finding a tray for the ottoman coffee table
  • final decorative touches
Here's a peak of the completed photo wall- I love how it turned out! 

Before: I can't tell you how much I adored looking at pictures of myself holding a fake flower as a wee lad, and my cheesy senior portraits. I shed many, many tears knowing that they were no longer going to be on display. 

After: A little more updated, a little more clean and modern. The lighting here hardly reflects the true wall color (the picture is dark) and frame color (frames are more of a warm pewter, not gold), but it's exactly what I envisioned, and mom likes it. I took all of the pictures in the frames, too.
I'll take more pictures soon- the LR was a little out of order today for the party. Stay tuned!

Friday, June 5, 2009

A few things I've learned, part 2.

Cameron is 6 months old today! As usual, I look back and wonder how that time has flown by us so quickly. Instead of injecting this post with pictures of Cameron like I do every other post, I thought I'd take a sec to share some thoughts and things I've learned/realized in my 6 months of motherhood. Here goes:
If you missed part one or need a refresher course, click here!  

I've become such a paranoid driver. I feel as if every car is out to side swipe me. I think that in the last 6 months I've probably laid on the horn and screamed at more idiot drivers than I have in all my 10 years of driving. So the lesson here is that precious cargo = very defensive driving.

Sometimes my t-shirt is just one, giant napkin. By the days end, it's covered in drool, spit up, pureed green bean splatters, and UIC's (unidentified chunks). Often times I just give up trying to keep it clean and proceed to wipe my own dirty hands all over it. It works.

Things that would have never affected me, now affect me. On 2 recent occasions I've had tears in my eyes: On the season finale of 90210 (yes, I watch trashy television), Adrianna, the pregnant teen, had her baby and gave it up for adoption. I bawled as she handed her newborn daughter over to the adoptive parents, unable to fathom how I could ever give my child up. I never realized until I had my own child how hard a situation like that could be. And just the other day, upon hearing of Mike Tyson's daughter's tragic death, it truly hit me that life is definitely not promised, and each and everyday is such a blessing. 

Little things make me so happy. I love Cameron's big, slobbery kisses. I can't get enough of them! And I love checking on him before I turn in at night, only to find his bum sticking straight up in the air, and peacefully asleep. 

I've thought on multiple occasions, that I should teach Cameron to play with electrical outlets, power cords, cell phones, and other things he shouldn't get into. Maybe then he'd be interested in the things he should be playing with- you know, bright toys, rattles, and teething rings. Do you think this type of reverse psychology works on babies?

I learned not to leave Cameron on the changing table- even for 3 nano seconds. In that short time I took my hands off of him, he flipped over, fell off and screamed like never before. I still feel like crap and I'll never forget it.

When we were at birthing class many months ago, the teacher said we should go ahead and baby proof our homes before the baby came. I looked at her like she had 6 eyeballs. Why the heck would I baby proof for my unborn child? The correct answer: when your child becomes mobile, it happens overnight. You think you have time, but then you catch your kid's hand on an electrical outlet, and can't seem to put those annoying plastic covers on fast enough. Seems she knew what she was talking about, I guess. 

And... I changed my mind about the no picture thing. =) Just, two.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Two Years.

Two wonderful years of marriage today, two of the best and most eventful years of my life. I have an amazing husband who has become an incredible father; to say that I am blessed is quite an understatement. 

We're keeping it pretty low key this year, no big exciting trips planned as we have the last 2 years. We enjoyed some chocolate chip waffles and mimosas for breakfast, and will just be hanging out today with the cutest 3rd wheel we've ever seen. And later, we'll probably escape for a nice dinner after Cam is in bed. 
I can't think of anyone else I'd rather grow old and gray with (even though he's the one in the gray department- not me!), and I am more in love with him today than I was 2 years ago. I look forward to our 3rd year of marriage and seeing what it has in store for us!


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