Wednesday, August 24, 2011

photo entry for pet week

turns out, that unless i post an entry on my blog, no one looks at it!  this is my entry for this weeks pet photo contests at i heart faces and paper mama.  my original entry is on flickr.

this isn't my dog, but it is a dog i photographed at a pet portrait fundraiser for the komen race for the cure.  we raised over $400 that day.  this was one of my 3 favorite pics of the day. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

A little about photo processing...

Here is a photo I took tonight - straight from the camera (RAW and unprocessed, I didn't change anything).
(1. raw)

When the photo is converted to JPG, that is the "processing" to which i'm referring...  I shoot in RAW because I would rather process the photo myself rather than have my camera do it for me.  It only takes me 30 seconds or so to process one picture - but usually i'm doing MANY at a time.  For example, I may shoot 200 - 250 photos in 30 minutes of engagement photos, maybe 400 for a family of 4 in about an hour...  SO, how many minutes will I be spending processing those photos?  For the few weddings that i've done, i've taken about one-thousand pictures for 4 to 5 hours of pre-wedding, wedding, and then reception.  AND THAT IS JUST FOR PROCESSING!  Basically, "round one" of the purge.  I delete a lot of those as many are duplicates to make sure folks are caught with their eyes open, etc. (I'm not complaining, though.  I love the processing part - and I love to be able to help my friends have photos who can't afford the expensive photographers, just like me.  That is exactly why I bought my camera in the first place!) Anyway, here is that same picture after I processed it.  The color is more intense and there is more depth to the photo.  I think the bokeh effect is more pronounced too.
(2. processed)

Next, I open EACH picture in Photoshop Elements and make sure the color is right and that nothing needs to be balanced.  On some, I will use an action or manually apply changes or affects to the color.  This is also how I convert to black and white (individually, one at a time...). I may spend as little as 1 minute or as many as 15 minutes on each photo.  A few more photos will get cut at this level (deleted), but most will be kept.  I also will sort into my "favorites" category.  Only my favorites will get manipulated at all unless requested by the person I photographed.  Anyway, here is that same photo after an action has been applied.  This action was Florabella's Madamoiselle with changes to that.  The action itself takes about 45 seconds (on my slow computer) to run.  I generally have to try out several ones before I know which one looks best.  I spent about 15 minutes on this picture. I really like the outcome.  I like the original OK, but I LOVE the final.
(3. edited)

So, which photo do you like best?  Do you think it is worth the 20 minutes?  If you were my client, would you want to pay me a fair price for my time and effort?

More to come on this.  In the mean time, which of those three photos is your favorite?  raw, processed, or edited?

I am among those who think that science has great beauty.

This is a surprise post for ya.  Something way out of the ordinary for me. I have this huge urge lately to USE my camera, but on some different things (besides my kids).  I found this quote and thought it appropriate.

I am among those who think that science has great beauty.  A scientist in his laboratory is not only a technician, he is also a child placed before natural phenomena which impress him like a fairy tale. - Marie Curie

My laboratory is the Earth and the life that occupies her, and my camera is my microscope (or hand lens, depending on if i'm being a photographer or a geologist!)

This weekend, dad's yard was covered in tons of tiny mushrooms.  Unfortunately, I did not have my camera.  Today, though, I scoured our freshly-mowed lawn for some.  It rained several inches last night so I thought for sure I would be able to find one.  I found three (disappointing).  One was cute as a button, one wasn't quite "up" yet, and the third looked like a rock - not really photogenic.

This picture isn't the greatest, but i think it introduces the setting for the little guy.   This little spot looked like a secret garden - for a toad, or a fairy.
Behind my shoulder was this sun peeping in between the leaves...

Now, zooming in a little... this is a perfect spot to find a little toad!  I actually don't know the difference between a "toadstool" and a "mushroom" (unless one isn't edible and one is...).  Non-the-less, isn't this just the most adorable little mushroom?  You can even see the sand grains on top of it.  It is sorta like a newborn mushroom! (If you click on the picture, it'll open up larger than what you see here...)

 In a different area of the yard, I took a picture of my fossil and rock collection (pile).  It looked pretty good in black and white. 

I have other pictures to post but i'll do that in another blog.  I need opinions about editing...


Monday, August 15, 2011


have i posted a nathanielism before?  if i haven't, i should.  sometimes he has funnier ones than the kids.  maybe it is because we grew up different (on opposite coasts in opposite urban settings which is nearly like being born an raised in different countries), but we have in solid families with parents who love us.  our families are different, but they each have their strengths. 

that's not what this blog is about though.  i'm just explaining why some of the seemingly simple things he says are funny to me.

for example, tonight, the kids were ready for bed.  we were just laying on the bed, playing, and there was a stink in the air.  i said "smells like kendal."  holly declared it was kendal (she is the tattler), and then kendal said "i have to poop."  he said "good lord, son, you smell like a digester."  seriously.  this qualifies for one of those "you know you are married to a wastewater engineer when..." moments.

not moments later, after we watched kendal's "poop cycle" as we call it (and the proud papa raved at how large of a poop "his boy" could produce without any strain - i can't make this stuff up!), we were back in the bed, tootsie rolls in hand (rewards, for placement under pillows since they are received after the teeth are clean so the sugar bugs don't come get their teeth).  anywho, nathaniel exclaimed to holly "never grow up" and then... "just be a nun."  we aren't even catholic.  besides two weddings and one baptism, i'm not sure that i've even been in a catholic church.  suppose holly has a ways to go on that one.  dream big, daddy.

then in his next breath, he said "did you know your daddy has 107 okra plants?" 

random.  extremely random.  i guess he is on his second week cutting them and since he does have a counting OCD, he now has them numbered...  one more week and they'll each have a name. 

i bet he talks to them.  he sure loves those okra plants.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

betty davis eyes

remember that song?  i used to love it growing up.  i haven't heard it in years though.

this week's challenge at i heart faces is "beautiful eyes", and paper mama is "eyes" and, well, i know a little girl who has the prettiest ones i've ever seen! (as a matter of a fact, i'm proud to say those eyes grew in my belly!)

though it is hard to get her to both sit still AND look at the camera - and this picture has both  (her at full attention, eyes open wide), i think this is a good picture that captures how beautiful her eyes are.  though i do shoot in raw and process myself, nothing was added to the photo to enhance the color (like a boost).  that IS the color of her eyes.  sorta a green-blue.  just like my sister's - and dad's.  (and, she isn't naked, she has a sarong wrapped around her torso...)

This photo was entered into the I Heart Faces photo challenge
and the paper mama's photo challenge
The Paper Mama

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Dinner with girlfriends: If you could erase any person from the planet, who would it be?

At dinner the other night with 2 old girl friends and 2 new girlfriends (I had never met them).  One of my friends who is super creative and fun - well, she made a bag of questions for us to read and answer.  The questions were awesome.  Like, oh, no, i can't really share most of them.  They are some that you ONLY talk about with girlfriends!!!

However, one of them was "If you could erase any person from the planet, who would it be?"  The other girls gave non-deep answers (ex-girlfriends, annoying coworker, etc.) but my answer was serious - and true to my heart.  My answer was every person in our current congress that was voting for legislation that will ultimately ruin our environment.  I implied they were all republican, but we all know they are not.  Environmentalism isn't a party, it is a way of live conserving and preserving the great Earth and all the things on it that God made for us.

Interestingly enough, one of the ladies at the table, one of the ones of whom I had just met, had a daughter named Reagan.  We all laughed because it was pointed out that maybe I was insulting her because she was a republican and she named her daughter after Ronald Reagan.

I found this quote a bit ago and it made me think of that moment.

[Ronald Reagan] embraced scientific understanding of the environment and pollution and was proud of his role in helping to phase out ozone-depleting chemicals. That was smart policy and smart politics. Most important, unlike many who profess to be his followers, Reagan didn't deny the existence of global environmental problems but instead found ways to address them. -Sherwood Boehlert, Republican

Bottom line, I wasn't insulting her at all,  in fact, I was complimenting her if she in fact named her baby girl after him!  It is unfortunate that there aren't more political leaders out there like him now.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

prison meals

after reading an article yesterday, my brain wheels have just been turning and turning and turning.  here is the article;jsessionid=6F4BFDEB64DA0347D0292A54578C590D?pageId=3529&catId=8

in case you don't want to read it, it is basically about a 42 year old man who went to jail (guilt and charge not mentioned) and insisted on non meat meals.  when he wasn't accommodated, he didn't eat.  over 99 days, he lost 50 pounds and now human- and animal-rights activists are outraged.  this all happened in california.  comments from the article said that the charges for the man were dropped at the 99 day mark.  so, i assume then that he is not guilty, not that that is relevant.

i posted this article on facebook to get comments from my friends. 
after all had commented, i made 4 points:   
#1: the freedom of CHOICE (for a meal plan) is just one of those things you loose when you go to PRISON (prison as opposed to jail - meaning found guilty, of coarse!) i think though that this person was actually released and the charges were dropped. 
#2: if a person has a modified diet health reasons (which a doctor should be prescribing this diet) - this could be anything from vegetarian to low salt), then their diet should be accommodated.
#3: if he lost 50 pounds and he was a vegetarian, makes me wonder what he eats to start with. i'm guessing not a "real" vegetarian. most hard-core vegetarians don't have 50 pounds to loose... i'm overweight (and not hard core vegetarian) but if i lost 50 pounds, i'd be almost dead.
#4: this man was clearly out to get attention and his hunger strike should have been considered a suicide attempt. 

this article has gotten me to thinking about general life in prison.  as pointed out by most of my commenters on facebook, inmates are treated better than many folks who live "outside" the prison (i.e., TV, A/C, regular meals, etc.)  on my way to work this morning, i had a grand idea.

what if... all prisoners were provided a plant based diet ONLY.  4 fruits a day, 2 meals of greens (both salad and cooked greens, which have plenty of protein) with other vegetables, beans/lentils, and nuts for added protein... no meat at all. 

think of all the problems that would solve:
no religions to accommodate (i.e. dietary restrictions for certain religions)
no added hormones to the diet
no added cost of meat
lower allergy and intolerances (and associated side affects, such as ADHD or hyper activity, which may cut down on violence)
all leftover-waste would be compostable (when you add meat,  you can't compost that waste)
maybe that would not be an incentive to come to prison (i.e. having to eat plant based diet)

and based on my family, when we switched to a plant based diet and no meat, we did not spend more (and we buy organic which a prison would not need to do), so i can say for sure it does not cost more to go plant.  i tell ya, this is a million dollar idea!  who do i pitch it to now?  california prisons?  ha!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

migraine triggers

i'm so happy that [one of ] my sisters is finally getting going through the diagnosis series for migraines.  this means... CT scan, probably a MRI, and MEDICINE!  yay.  no more midnight runs to the ER for butt shots because she's had a throw-up-bad headache for 3 days!  :)

i was thinking, though, that maybe i'd list my triggers for her to help her avoid getting them to start with.  i determined all these things from keeping a 'diary' of sorts over months at a time.

1.  first off, schedule!  regular schedule in general is the best preventative.  eating same time every day, sleeping same time every day, and NO NAPS!

2. low barometric pressure.

3. heat.  i'm really sensitive to it.  i can't tolerate being in high temperatures for extended periods of time (or even short periods...). 

4. bright light (temperature irrelevant - sometimes it is the sun, sometimes it is oncoming traffic at night).

5. strong smells.  especially raw onions and most perfumes.

6. hats.  i can take ponytails as long as they are loose and "buns" or low 'tails - swaying 'tails can put me over the edge.

7. strenuous exercise.  this sounds horrible, but it is true.  i have to stay even all the time.  this doesn't mean i can't exercise, i just have to do low ones.  walking, swimming, yoga, stretching... that's for me.  sometimes if i go up the stairs too fast, i can instantly feel my head start pounding (at work).

8. bad posture - i have to sit and stand up straight!  no slouching.  the blood has to get to my head - and back down to my heart and feet!

9. roasted peanuts.  interestingly enough, i had a PB sandwich for supper last night.  i JUST TOOK a headache pill because i have a migraine.  how about that. (so many triggers, i forget them all sometimes! plus, you gotta live... just know the consequences!)

10.  alcohol.  i just can't take it anymore!  there are a few that don't give me a headache, but i just don't chance it anymore. not worth it.

11. processed meats (sandwich meat, hotdogs, crap with nitrates in it...) i never liked them anyway.  i finally figured out why!

12. not eating - well, i'm fat for a reason.  i have to eat all the time.  if my stomach growls, it is too late, one is on the way!  before long, i'm hugging the toilet.

13. stress - best to stay stress free but that is impossible.  best figure out a way to minimize it!  neck, foot, and hand massages by loving hubby work great!

14. hormones - the one thing you can only control 21 days a month.  that other 7 days, WHEW!  prepare for it.  i usually wake up and take two excedrin tensions. 

15. other food triggers - there are lots listed on the "don't eat" list for migraine sufferers but the ones that are it for me are MSG, roasted peanuts, raw onions, alcohol, and i may be forgetting a few.  ever since i switched to the mostly vegan diet, i haven't noticed many food triggers. 

Monday, August 1, 2011

mac and cheese(less)

I'm not sure of the right name for this, but mac and cheese isn't it.  so, i name it mac and cheeseless.  because, there isn't any cheese in it.  this takes the place of mac and cheese in your meal - so, if you are lactose intolerant or vegan or just want to try something healthy (i.e. sneak in veggies), you should try this.  it is really simple and DELICIOUS! 

the original recipe is from but as usual, i modified it to fit my needs.

Start by heating water to boil 8 oz macaroni noodles according to the package.  please note, 8 oz noodles is a half-pack of noodles.  if you want to make a large pot of mac and cheeseless, then you need to double the rest of the recipe.  a box of noodles is typically 16 oz.  i do salt my water - like with a TBS  or three of salt.  i do not put olive oil on the noodles when i strain them.  i started on the rest of the recipe while the water/noodles were heating/cooking.

coarsly chop 1 medium shallot, about 1 Tbs worth.  put it in a medium pot.  wash, peel, and cube 2 smallish potatoes, i had one red and one white.  this needs to end up being 1 cup worth of potatoes. wash, peel, and chop 1 carrot  so that you have 1/4 cup carrot (this gives the sauce its orange color). peel and coarsly chop about 1/4 onion  so that you have 1/3 cup onion.  and, add 1 cup of water to that pot too.  put it on a burner over medium heat, cover, and cook for about 20 minutes until all the veggies are tender.

in the mean time, get out the BLENDER (not the food processor).  put in it 1/4 cup RAW (not planters roasted) cashews, 2 tsp sea salt, 1/4 minced garlic, 1/4 tsp dijon mustard, 1 Tbs lemon juice ( i used fresh), 1/4 tsp black pepper, 1/8 tsp cayenne (no, it isn't too hot), and you can go ahead and turn the blender on to start the chopping (with the lid) or you can wait for the veggies.  either way, it will all get pureed.

don't forget about the pasta!  you don't want it to be overcooked!  when my pasta was done and strained, i put it right back in the pot (not on the burner though).

When the veggies are done, just add them to the blender, put the lid on, and turn it on.  i started on low and then turned it to high.  you want this to be silky smooth.   when it is smooth - taste it, it is AMAZING!  you'll be pleasantly surprised!  just pour this sauce over the mac and stir.  there you have it!  mac and cheeseless!

and let me assure you, kendal and holly were fooled.  they both ate it right up like it was the real thing.  we'll probably never eat the "real" stuff again except for convenience.  this does take like 20 minutes longer to make.  haha!

(the original recipe is for a breadcrumb topping, which i don't like.  if you like that style, go to the website and look!)


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