For the first 50 years of my life, my perfectionist self mistakenly believed it was all about knowing more, getting it right, planning, attempting to prevent bad things from happening, and keeping all of my chicks in a row. It took me this long to discover that the JOURNEY is all that matters. This quote from Gilda Radner sums it all up:

"I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

It's So Much Better . . . in the RAW!

I have had my Canon 50D for a year and a half now.  It has taken a while to learn all of the camera controls - in fact there is still so much I don't know.   I have heard how so many photographers shoot in the RAW format, but I never really understood why it is supposed to be so much better than JPEG.

SO, I took a course to learn about it.  And I find it amazing!

I always knew that RAW files were so much bigger than JPEG, so I figured I didn't want to take up so much room on my memory card.  Then I didn't really know what to do with the file - since it is not a JPEG.  It is a CR2 file.  What's that? JPEG seemed so much easier and safer to me.
Now I understand why RAW files are so big.  It's because they have SO MUCH MORE information on them.  When you don't shoot in RAW, your camera pre-processes the image before you even see it on your camera lcd.  And the camera gets rid of a lot of information as it condenses the image to a smaller JPEG image.  It gets rid of good stuff that often can make a huge difference in your photos.

I use Photoshop CS5 to make corrections to my photos.  To process RAW files, I needed to download free software to convert the CR2 files to DNG files (digital negatives).  Then I open them in Adobe Camera Raw (which is part of CS5).  Adobe Camera Raw is a program which allows you to process the image, and it is very powerful.  Since you have so much more info than a JPEG file, you can take a bad photo and make it look good by just moving a few sliders around. 

I'll give you an example.  Here is a pretty bad photo of Adam and me taken by Kerry this fall.
The sun was really bright and we were standing in the shadow of the sculpture.  The picture is way too blue - the white balance is not correct.
 Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) has a handy little tool that shows you places in your image that have lost detail due to being too bright or too dark.  The things that are too bright show up in red.  The things that are too dark show up in blue.  This picture has a LOT of red.  The sky is blown out and the reflection of the sun on the stones too.
 To recover all of that lost detail,  ACR has a "Recovery" slider to get back detail in the areas that are too bright.  It also had a "Fill Light" slider to recover detail in the areas that are too dark.
 In the picture above,  moved the recovery slider and the fill light slider to the right until the red and blue are mostly gone.  The sky is more of an even blue tone now.

  Next I went to another panel where you can easily adjust hue/saturation/luminence of 8 different colors.  I decreased the luminence of the blues, yellows, and oranges.  The sky is looking great!
 Next I fixed the temperature (white balance) of the image.  It was too  blue and needed to be warmed up a bit. 

Before and After - so much better!

If you click on the "Open Image" button, it will take you out of ACR and into Photoshop if needed.  Photoshop can do some things that ACR cannot.  When you are done, you can save the photo as a JPEG.  It will be compressed and much smaller.

There are so many aspects of ACR that make photo processing easier.  One of my favorites is batch processing. If you take 50 pictures in the same lighting that need the same corrections, you can correct one of the pictures and then apply the corrections to all 50 pictures at once, with the click of a button.  It saves so much time!

Working in the RAW is great!  Try it sometime!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Break a Leg, Annie!

Annie has always been an actress.  She was my only child who was never shy.  So it makes sense that she loves to be on stage now at the age of 15. 

When the kids were little, they were always acting.  They would make up all kinds of short movies starring Kerry, Annie, and our neighbor, Jon Cheesman.  Adam acted sometimes, but for the most part he was the camera man and film editor. 

Whenever friends came to visit, they would involve them in the movie-making fun too!  Here, Adam films Taylor Mills.

Taylor was a promising young actress back then.  Kerry starred in many films, but she seemed to gravitate toward funny characters.  Kerry is the one with the black glasses (in case you didn't recognize her!)
Annie also went on stage every year for her dance recital.  Taylor can also be seen in this picture!

In the spring of last year, Annie auditioned for the high school play "The Insanity of Mary Girard" and earned the role of a "fury".  The play was about  a woman who was going insane, and the furies were ghostly characters who were like the voices in her head that taunted her and helped show the process of her insanity.  Annie LOVED the role, and did a GREAT job.

This fall, she was in another high school play named "Stage Door".   It was a play about a group of aspiring young actresses in the 1930's who all lived together in a boarding house.  Annie played the part of Olga, a serious and not-so-friendly Russian pianist who seemed to disdain the other women in the house.

As I looked at the photos,  I couldn't help but be reminded of my little girl of yesterday.  She's a little bigger now, but look at that face.  It hasn't changed much at all!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

My Favorite Things - Poms

Pomegranates!  My favorite fruit!  I look forward to pom season every year and I get SO excited when I walk into the grocery store and see them, usually some time in November!

 My favorite fruit used to be raspberries, but a few years ago I was introduced to these luscious little tidbits and I fell in love.

 I hear from so many people that pomegranates are not worth the effort it takes to eat them.  I, on the other hand, find it soothing and fun to dig all of these gems out of their womb, being so careful not to harm them.  I actually get a little upset when I lose one or two as they fall to the floor, but the dogs like them almost as much as I do and they gladly lick them up!
 I didn't realize how beautiful they were until I got my camera out and started photographing them with my macro lens.  They are gorgeous!
 So if you have never tried a fresh pomegranate before, don't wait any longer!  How do you choose a good one?  Juggle them around in your hands and choose the heaviest ones - those are the most juicy!  Cut into it a little, them pull it apart with your hands. You don't want to ruin all of the babies inside as you cut.  Don't wear your best white blouse, and be prepared to wipe the juice off the walls when you are done!  If you get it on your clothes, don't worry!  The juice does not stain!  Relax, take your time, and have fun!  It really is worth all of your effort!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Anyone who stops learning is old,
whether at twenty or eighty.
  ~Henry Ford

My husband often comes home from work and asks me what I have accomplished that day.  I have to admit it is sometimes difficult to see when you enter the house.  Being a stay-at-home mom with 2 children in college and one remaining at home, I am sure people think I have tons of free time to accomplish so many household chores and yard work.  Well, then why is there dirty laundry overflowing the clothes hampers?  Why is dinner not made? Why isn't the house neat as a pin? Why?
When I exited the "working" world 15 years ago this month, I made a vow to myself that I would not let my brain go to mush.  I have always loved to be challenged.  I love to figure things out. My prior job as a computer programmer suited me well.  But would my mind be challenged staying at home changing diapers?  

I faced life as a stay-at-home mom with the same determination that I faced computer programming crash.  If something was broken, I could fix it.  If I didn't know how, I would learn.

I became a teacher.  I surprised even myself with the patience needed to raise 3 young children.  I was fascinated as I watched their minds and bodies grow, and knew that what I did everyday mattered more than any job outside the home.  I challenged my kids every day in fun, creative, and new ways.  Creativity, books, puzzles, imagination - we did it all.  And I learned so much from my kids - they changed me so much.

So now that the house is empty much of the time, I still feel the need to remain challenged.  Henry Ford's quote is so true.  I just can't stop learning.  What am I learning now?  

 I feel like there are not enough
  hours in the day to learn all that I want to know!


I want to continue to learn about my camera and photography.  This involves reading books, but also lots and lots of practice and doing.

I want to learn HTML.  I need this in order to design web pages. No, I have no real plans to do this, but I would just like to know how!

 I love learning Photoshop!  There are so many things you can do with it.  It is so creative and I don't know if it's possible to ever learn it all.  But I spend lots of time taking online classes, taking notes like I am at school so I can remember it all at a later time.  I am a member of which has classes in just about anything you would ever want to know about computers and photography and photoshop!
 And at this time of my life, I strive for balance.  Life, learning, love.
We are all forever changing and becoming.
Isn't it wonderful?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Treat - or Trick?

Halloween around our neighborhood is usually pretty uneventful.  The street that we live on is not very well lit and most of the children are grown, so we do not get very many trick-or-treaters.  A few years ago, I decided to make my own fun.  I put on a costume and went to my neighbor's doors for candy.  My goal was to go unrecognized.  

This was pretty easy for the first few years until my neighbors began to expect my visit and were looking for me.  It was even more difficult this year because Halloween fell on the same night as Annie's weekly music rehearsal.  We didn't get home until almost 8:30 PM.  Due to the late hour, there were no groups of trick-or-treaters out anymore to tag along with, so Annie offered to put together a quick costume and come with me. Annie found a banana costume in Kerry's room for me to wear.

We set out together.  At the first house (Cheesmans), it didn't take Linda long to recognize Annie and then she knew it was me.

Debi Thompson had no clue until I started laughing.  Phil Cardone didn't say anything, but went back inside and told his wife there was a banana that for some strange reason looked like Gayle. 

Karen Fader was a little irritated because she had turned off her light and it was late, but she graciously gave each of us a candy.  I stayed where I was, and without saying a word, continued to hold out my bag.  She said, "Oh, you want more?" and gave me another candy.  When I still didn't move, she got angry and said "That's enough" and started closing the door.  We just had to blow our cover and let her know. 

Annie and I had a lot of fun together and it make the holiday a little more festive!