Saturday, December 12, 2009

Ryleigh and Me

I got up earlier than usual for me this morning and decided to attempt to take some pictures of our puppy. He is 5 1/2 months old and is a black lab mix. He weighs over 34 pounds now from the 4.7 pound little guy he was when we got him. He's certifiably NUTS! He's got more energy than I ever thought a puppy could have but then again, I've not had a dog from newborn puppy age before. He acts a lot like that dog Marley on the movie Marley and me and though sometimes he drives us a little nuts, he is a super fun family pet. I'm so glad we got him.

Now since you know that he's NUTS & energetic you can probably guess that it's quite a challenge to take photos of him. The only way I was able to do it was to give him a toy that he could chew on. He's still teething so he loves to chew on toys. I just pulled up a chair and started snapping shots.

This one I snapped just before I realized he wasn't just chewing on it but he was pulling the stuffing out! When I got up to get it from him, he thought I wanted to play his favorite game which is Keep Away....from the humans! He runs in circles around the dining, kitchen and living area divider wall while we chase him and try to sneak up on him. After a couple of rounds, I was able to sneak up on him in the opposite direction and get it back from him.

He is also a complete goof ball because he throws himself on the floor as if the toy is taking him down...even if it's small enough to fit in his mouth!  :-)

I was so happy when I saw this one because for 5 1/2 months I have been trying to get a picture that showed his face and eyes really good.  He has beautiful "Lab" eyes and this one is definitely going to get printed and framed.  I think he is an especially photogenic dog.


This is another one that I'm super pleased with too.  This totally captures his sweet, playful and loving nature.


Here are a couple of him just playing while I snap away.  :o)



He also loves tug of war.  And for a dog that has the most gentle bite I have ever seen in a dog when he is taking treats and such from us, he sure can grip onto to things when playing this game.  This is my favorite shot out of the entire set.  Man is he a beautiful boy!?!?  Of course I'm partial to him over any other person's dog too.  :-)


This one was just a fun Photoshopped one.  Since he's so energetic and fast when he runs, I thought that it might be neat to use the zoom motion blur filter around him so it would look like he was pulling whoever was holding the toy out to him across the room.  Though I don't like to do too much faking up of pictures in Photoshop, I thought this was turned out cute and is quite a fun shot.


So even though it took me five months to get some good pictures of our sweet boy, it was sure worth the wait in these.  I love them.  As always, your comments and feedback are greatly appreciated.

Monday, December 07, 2009

I had the wonderful opportunity for a family session a couple of weeks ago and so far have over 35 photos to offer. This is a co-worker who is a single mom of three wild and rambunctious boys (as if there are any other kind). She's a GREAT mom and her boys are such awesome kids! They were willing to do anything and everything....and even offered their own ideas and suggestions.  It took us nearly five hours to finish but I felt great when I left. I'm so glad she asked me to take these photos. It had been a while since I did a family session anyway so it was about time.

This pose I have done in the past but did with seven kids.  Needless to say, it was easier to do with three more self controlled young men and their mom then seven young squirmy children. 

This was one of the ideas I had when I was going through my closet looking for props the night before. I had a bunch of frames that weren't being used so I removed the glass and backings and took them with me.

Since she is a single mom and I had "been there and done that", I suggested a couple of fun ones of the boys goofing off and the mom about down to her last nerve. These are the two I got from this idea.

I believe she really liked the following picture. I had two fusses with it and that would be the shoulders being blown out and the tennis shoes. I wish I had asked them to take them off before but we were just starting so I consider this warming up. We did ultimately have them all take them off after this one.

I asked the mom to have her boys each bring one or two "props" or things that they enjoy to use in some of the pictures. I assumed by the props that the oldest loves to read, the middle loves to play drums and the youngest loves a particular bear that he's had for a long time and is part of the family. I would have loved to have had more time to photograph each one of them in various ways individually with their props but we ran out of time....after five hours.

The following is one example of their willingness to do whatever I asked of them. What a AWESOME family! I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

This is the "YMCA" pose...this was one of the boys ideas. When I was talking to the mom at work the other day she said, "we should have spelled out HALL"...DUH! That's their last name. I said the A and the L would have been easy enough but how in the world would you have done the H? She was like "I don't know...." and we both just laughed!

The whole point of this session was to get some "family" shots for her to give as Christmas gifts.

These are two of my favorites even though I was a little leary of them having their shirts off at first with all the rules and laws about minors in photos. One of the boys had suggested it and the mom didn't seem to be fazed one bit so I went with it and am pleased with the result too. I mean...we WERE at the beach right? I know the water is way blown out but this was taken in the middle of the day so I wasn't going to have correctly exposed water and people. I chose to keep my "people" correctly exposed.

I think we got plenty for her to chose from and additionally a lot of fun ones of the boys individually and together (maybe I'll post those later) for her to have for fun memories.

Thanks for looking. As always C&C is welcome.

Friday, September 25, 2009


So I quit smoking nearly nine months ago and though I had always loved watching the cake contests on Food Network Channel and always wanted to learn how to make fondant icing, I never tried it because I was too busy smoking. Smoking makes you so lazy. If you can quit, do so! Anyway, the weekends were the toughest times so I decided to start watching a girl named Mayen's video's on cake making and fondant icing. She is a pleasure to watch and her videos are very informative. I thought I'd post the cakes I've made so far.

This is the first one. I didn't have any "preplanned" ideas or anything and only had two fondant cutters so I went for the two layer flower cake that ended up looking like a frilly hat instead of a cake. :-) I got the colors after finding a piece of scrapbook paper that I liked the color theme of and made the fondant those colors.

The next cake I made was for my kids. I started about two years ago, making them a heart shaped cake for Valentines day so now that I had sort of learned the concept of fondant, I wanted to try it for their cake. The little red hearts I painted on with watered down gel colors but was not pleased with the outcome of it. It seemed to melt the fondant. I'll talk about what I did to change that the next time I painted fondant. This one was a one layer square with a circle cake cut in half to make the arcs of the heart. Aside from the painted on red hearts, I love the contemporary look to the design.

This next cake took me over a week to make. It is a 10" square and an 8" square and is supposed to be a "package" sort of cake. The little balls around the base of the top layer...are EACH hand rolled which is why they are not the same size. I didn't have a mold...and still don't but I really like the pearls look that I've seen on many cakes I've looked at before. The co-worker really loved this one too so that always make me happy.

The following cake is my most favorite of fondant cakes I've made...which are all included in this blog entry. One of my best friends was having a baby shower and I wanted to have a baby shower for her. I thought this would be the best time to try my hand at a baby shower cake. I knew she was having a boy and knew what his name would be. I was going to do a Noah's Ark type theme which I feel I was able to pull off...a little. I didn't have time to make duplicate animals so I went with what I had. I used store bought fondant on the top layer and I have to admit...I was mortified when I tasted it! It tastes terrible and I will never use it again. I have two homemade fondant recipes that I like to use and so even though it takes a little more time and's much more worth it when you eat it. I entered this cake into a baby shower cake contest too. If you have a second to stop by and comment, that would be awesome!

This most recent one was for another co-worker who LOVES deep sea fishing. He goes to places like Costa Rica and Mexico to fish so when our admin asked if I would make him a cake...a fish wheels started turning. At first I was going to go with a cartoon type fish but then after doing some research, I thought it would be great to do a fish that he might have caught on one of these trips. I was going to try a blue marlin but it would have been really long by the time I was done so I thought instead that I would do a Dolphin fish. I looked it up online at Google Images and after i found one I liked, I used it as a go by for painting the fondant. After much reading on "painting fondant" I finally learned that you are supposed to use an alcohol based liquid such as extracts of some flavor or a liquor such as vodka or bacardi. I had vodka in the house so I just used it. I didn't want to use up all of my extract flavorings as they can get expensive and I don't drink liquor so it was perfect. I was able to blend colors and work with them without it drying out too fast on me but also not melting my fondant. Our Public Services Director was pleased with his birthday cake and so was I.

Those are the cakes I've made so far. It is definitely time consuming but it is such a satisfaction to see peoples faces after the look at them...and eat them too because everything is homemade.

Thanks for looking and any advice or comments you have I'd love to hear them.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

My Good Friends "Little Men"

Well obviously I haven't done too well in the photo a day project I had planned to do a while back. I've got tons of daily photos but can never find the time to edit, upload and post them. So right now, I'm on a different route.

This weekend was an awesome one and I had the opportunity to take some photographs for a great friend. Her little boys ages 2 years old and 2 months old are such a pleasure to spend time with. Mason is starting to find his voice and express himself by smiling and cooing. Our goal was to get just one picture of him smiling. That proved to be quite a challenge because he was way more interested in the big black thing pointed at him. When I pulled it down, he would smile, when I put it up, he would just stare at it. Guess there are so many new things for babies this young to see and experience that it's hard to preform when they have so much to learn. This shot was one of my favorites. His mom was snapping up above his head and he turned towards the sound.

This next one I had seen done similarly by another photographer so I wanted to see what I could do with it. I thought it was a nice way to draw attention to his sweet baby feet but still keep him connected to the photograph. I see so many pictures of just baby feet that I thought this was a neat idea to borrow from.

This one captures him cooing and talking to us. What a sweet boy!

Seeing my friend interact with her kids is so fun. She's a great mom and her kids are number one to her. What a strong bond she has with them.

Mason is a sweet baby. I think I've heard him start to cry just one time in the two months I've known him. He seems to be very laid back and the kind of baby to just go with the flow. Here he was just chilling out. :-)

He was ready to "put up his dukes" in this next one. It's amazing how many pictures you can take of an infant and how many different expressions & poses you can get without even moving them from the spot you are shooting in.

This one again captures him as he is cooing and talking to us. What a pleasant baby to be around.

Now for my friends other little man. Keegan is full of energy and spunk. I love playing with him. We went to the new park in town and just let him run around and play and be himself. I think the playground setting is perfect for a backdrop for his personality.

First off, Keegan was NOT into this photo session. Every time I tried to snap a picture or call his name, he knew well enough what I was doing and ran the opposite direction. Therefore it proposed a bit of a challenge. Though I was a little concerned I might not end up with much because of that and because of the bright sun up above, I almost believe that the shots from this session were better than any before. I had to use the element of surprise and a lick and a prayer to get what I ended up with.

Shot number one..."no way I'm letting you take the kind of picture YOU want to take lady so just back off". I thought this one was great because two year olds can be just as stubborn as our grown ups. Being that I know Keegan pretty well, this one makes me laugh.

This next one was totally luck! He was dodging me and my camera every step of the way even though I had hoped to get one of him inside the slide. I was able to grab this one really quick before he decided he knew what I was attempting.

Keegan's mom suggested the swing. At least then he would be a little bit more restricted from running from me. I got this one shot off before he was ready to move on again. Man, two year old's are fast!

A quick one from the upper levels of the playground gym.

The following photo really shows the sweet heart behind this busy little two year old. I am so grateful to know him and his family!

And last but surely not least, my most favorite ever picture of Keegan. Like I said earlier, he is full of spunk and energy. In addition to that, he is a very happy go lucky fun loving & happy child. I think this picture represents the Keegan that we all know. He's "wylde" and crazy and we all are so lucky to know him.

Thank you Terrina and Thom for again letting me take pictures of your sweet boys. Children are definitely my most favorite subject matter. How awesome it is to capture them in their candid moments and create records of their quick growth. Before we know it they are grown up and on their own. I hope you are as pleased with these photos as I am. I always look forward to the next opportunity.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Saturday - February 21, 2009

Saturday was a busy busy day but I DID manage to get one picture. It's terrible! Not the subject matter because it's my oldest son after FINALLY getting the mop on his head cut off but terrible in that it is B-L-U-R-R-Y! I didn't even check the picture when took it and I usually do. Lesson for day four...CHECK THE PICTURE AND MAKE SURE IT'S FOCUSED! LOL! I said in my first daily photo experiment post that I would learn stuff surely by doing this. Well, I went back the fundamentals of photography yesterday! I never thought "focus" would be a big issue but if you don't check could be a huge issue. Especially if there is no way to retake the shot. I think this could have been a cute snapshot of my son but instead is a cute subject that is blurry. YUCK!! It's hard enough to get good pictures of a thirteen year old because they don't want to cooperate with anything and I make it worse by messing the one chance up by not checking it when I was done. HA!

So here is my lesson found online about this subject:

"The plane of critical focus in your image will be the area that falls on the active focus area. As you point the camera at various subjects and press the shutter button halfway down, you'll see the subjects pop into focus in the viewfinder."

Here's the picture. I won't even go into setting details since it's blurry. I LOVE my little man's new haircut though! :-)

Friday - February 20, 2008

Okay so I am totally cheating on this one and I'm posting two days late..which will probably be a regular occurrence as I don't have time to get on this computer every day.

Remember Thursday when I said I took pictures of tree bark, our lawnmower and grass? Well, here's the grass one. I got so busy Friday evening that I completely forgot to take a picture.

So instead of a current one from's some wild weedy grass from my back yard. I shot this with my 70-300mm lens. I had my shutter on 1/100 as a random selection, aperture at F5.6 for shorter focus range, ISO on 640 because the sun was going down and I needed more light and wasn't going to be able to bump my shutter down much more and still hand hold and was zoomed in at 300mm. I adjusted levels and added a touch of a warm photo filter since that's the time of day it was.

Here is my first boring snapshot. And a cheat one at that. :-)

Friday, February 20, 2009

Thursday - February 19, 2009

I'm a day late posting this one and I haven't even taken my photo for today. Anyway, this photo was taken after many other shots of just "stuff". The grass, a push lawnmower, a tiny flower, tree bark....I just wasn't feeling too creative. I wanted to try to use my telephoto lens but just couldn't get anything I was even halfway content with. Well, wine always helps, right? I didn't even think about it until after I had actually poured a glass but I had taken a couple of shots in the past of wine or some other neat looking alcohol bottle and realized that it could make for an interesting subject...again. It's not the greatest "shakes" but is sure is better than the push lawnmower picture and the picture of the grass that surely everyone has tried to photograph creatively. So, here it is.

I started off going with color on this one but instead decided that B&W would do it more justice. I did my standard levels and curves. Then I applied a gradient map as my conversion process to B&W. After that, I revisited the levels & curves adjustments to get it just like I wanted. I shot this hand held at 1/40 shutter speed, f5.6 aperture, 640 shutter speed and a focal length of 50mm. I'm pretty happy with it for a "snapshot". to take a photo for today. Maybe I'll get it posted by tomorrow. Have a great remaining Friday and thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Wednesday - February 18, 2009

I've seen this idea done a few times and though I wish I had thought to start my own "photo a day" experiment on January 1st I guess now is better than never, right? I haven't done too much in the way of "blogging" in a while though I could probably post lots of entries to catch up on all the pictures I've taken since Stacy's wedding last summer.

This morning was my first morning taking my Nikon to work. I've got a little Kodak Easy Share too that I think I'll start leaving in my car just in case I forget my Nikon.

I plan (but as they say, best laid plans and all....) to take a photo every day. It may be a "piece" of junk snapshot or it may be a master"piece" that will make me a million (yeah right, don't cross your fingers on that one.) I may post it that day or I may compile a few day collection and post them all at once. In any event, it's going to be fun and if I actually stick with it, I think I could actually learn some stuff I don't know yet about photography and making it creative.

I love abstract and funky so don't be surprised if I post something that makes you say what the H^%* was she thinking when she took that picture?

So, that all being said, here we go with day one...

First of all, I took a picture a while back at night on a slower shutter speed while driving down the road that has become one of my most favorite abstract photos that I've taken. It turned out pretty neat. Here is that shot.

So this morning, I was about 15 minutes early to work so I drove around towards downtown and came back up the long way. I set my shutter speed to 1/2 second, my aperture to F6.3 and my ISO to 400. My lens was at 50mm. I had absolutely no rhyme or reason for these settings as I was driving down the road. I knew I wanted abstract so other than changing my shutter speed from 800 where it was previously set to keep the grain out all I did on purpose was kept bumping the shutter speed down to get blur in my hopefully abstract but still subject detectable image. It's funky I think but I like it. It definitely shows that I'm going into a city area of some sort if you can call our small downtown area a city and it's blurry soft to give it the abstract look of an unknown town. I love how the colors turned out for me and other than minor levels & curves adjustments, I just threw in a little bit of a vignette with a color sample out of the blue/purple mid tones in the photo. I also like how the street is quite deserted at this time of early morning and I like how the middle lines of the street come in from the bottom left to offer a diagonal path into the city I am shooting ahead. That all being said and my own critique done on myself, here is the photo.

Day one in my opinion was successful. As I move along I hope to get more risky and brave in my photography. I've always been afraid of "journalistic" type of photography because of the fear of someone stopping me and saying, "why are you taking pictures of me" but it has always interested me. Maybe I'll make that my goal for the end of 365 days of shooting. I'll plan to eventually break into some journalistic styles and see if I can get past that fear.

As always, thank you for your interest and please feel free to comment on any blogs I've posted.


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