Friday, October 30, 2009

Fixit Friday #34



This week's lovely photo is a beautiful fairy. When I saw her, I knew I wanted to take a turn at editing this photo. She is sooo sweet.

First, I imported the picture into Lightroom. I rotated the image, which consequently, gave it a significant crop. I stopped the rotation when the crop got as tight as I was willing to go. Last week I made a preset I call Boys Town, it is basically some playing around with saturation and tones giving a golden-brown cast. I used that as a base and tweaked it a bit to give her a soft peachy look.

Then I opened the edited picture into Photoshop where I brightened and sharpened the eyes. I tried to blend out the bruises by using the clone tool at 50% and I cloned out a distracting branch from the background at 100%. Due to the small size, it was getting a bit pixely/grainy, so I used a noise-reduction program (Topaz Denoise). That made the picture a little too smooth, so I finished it off by placing a Florabella texture (nostalgia, soft light, 44% opacity) over it. It's still overly smooth, but in this case I like it.

To see the other edits, click here.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Happy Scarecrow Day

In case you hadn't heard, today is Scarecrow Day. Well, at least it is at Pearl's school. Chloe has a little cold, so we kept her out of school today.

I am not sure what the significance of this all is, but it meant Dad had to run to Target to buy Pearl some boy's clothes that she probaby won't ever wear again. The kids put on a special performance today for the parents (that were able to come at 8:30 in the morning) singing songs and dressing up. I managed to escape from work for a brief time to sneak a peak on the show. It sure is wonderful to have my home and work within 1 mile of the girls' school.

I took a few cute shots of Pearl before school. When we stepped outside and looked up, the sky was full of vultures riding the currents in the air. It is quite a sight to see over 60 giant birds circling your home. The picture below only shows about a third of them. I guess this means it isn't Scare-vulture day.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Third Birthday Party in Four Weeks

The girls have been busy lately going to birthday parties. This time it was finally for someone their own age. One of Chloe's classmates, "E", finally turned 5 and her mom planned a Fancy Nancy Tea party for the girls. It was quite a treat and would have been perfect if not for the hot weather........again. The girls could dress up however they wanted, so Chloe chose an aqua ballerina dance outfit and Pearl wore her Belle princess dress.

On Sunday, Dad took Pearl to the local zoo for a special Halloween event. Chloe woke up sick and Mom stayed home with her. We played together and watched Animal Planet. I even snuck in a little editing time on the computer. That is why we have no pictures from Sunday.

You can click on any of the pictures for a larger view.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Grandpa's Birthday and a Trip to the Pumpkin Patch

Sunday morning brought the annual family gathering to celebrate Grandpa's birthday. We met up at a favorite local Mexican restaurant and had a fun festive time with the usual games and players. There is something comforting in repeating a regular family tradition. It was very dark in the restaurant and I don't have a nice flash for my camera, so these pictures aren't among my best. I had to Photoshop a lot of the shiny flash off of people's faces, glasses, lips and teeth. Thank goodness for "denoise" software.

After brunch, we headed to the hills to visit a farm where the girls could pet some animals and then pick out pumpkins. It was HOT!!!! AGAIN!!! Not only was it hot, but it was also crowded and there were long lines......3 things I usually try to avoid at all costs. I think this is the hottest October I can ever remember. I guess we will bear almost anything to build fond memories for our girls. I think it was a big success and they were quite pleased with their pumpkins.
Berkeley and her mother Jane

The whole crew, mostly.

Grandpa admires his cake.

Cousin Cassie flashes a smile.

Later at the pumpkin patch.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Apples Apples Apples & Mushrooms

Today was another low-key Saturday with the family. Last night we all went to see the movie "Where the Wild Things Are". The girls really loved it. I was bored through most of it and I really hate it when the camera bounces around too much during the action scenes. It makes me sick. I have had to walk out of movies ("Hannah and Her Sisters") for just that reason. When we put on home videos, I can only watch a few minutes before the nausea sets in.

We took the girls into town today to play at the park. We were trying to find an adoption gathering, but we lost the flyer and when we drove by the park, we didn't see anyone we recognized. I guess we must have gotten either the date or time incorrect.

Later in the afternoon, Chloe and I went out into the back yard to take some pictures. I expected to see all of the apples rotting on the ground. We have lived in our home for almost 7 years and have never used the apples from our trees. To my surprise, there were still quite a few decent fruit clinging to the trees, so we picked them. I let Chloe play around a bit and I just aimed the camera. I was able to collect enough apples to make an apple pie and two batches of apple muffins............yum!

Chloe picks an apple.

Chloe finds a vulture feather to add to her collection.

Chloe finds a make-shift table for her treasures. It needs a little dusting off.

Chloe studies her finds. She's not sure if the twig will make the final cut.

After setting down the feather and pine cone, Chloe shows her apple.

Chloe makes the final still life arrangement.

Chloe's final creation.

On the way back into the house, we spotted these large flat mushrooms in the yard.

Here's what they look like at ground view.

More mushrooms from the front yard

I think this bunch looks like a fairy village.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Blogger Brain Block & a Birthday

For some reason, it hadn't occurred to me to blog the past few days. I guess I was sidetracked with thoughts of processing the hundreds of photos I took last weekend. I was so glad to get through them all that I forgot to set a few aside for the blog. The weather was another distraction. We were expecting a real big rain storm and all we ended up with was a severe dust storm that wreaked havoc in our yard, filling our pool full of pine needles and our roof with large tree limbs. It wasn't even cold enough to light a fire in the fireplace.

On another note, I was asked by an acquaintance to do a family photo shoot and for some reason, I couldn't turn them down. What was I thinking? I cannot take family portraits!! They haven't even seen my work. I told them there would be no charge, as I will be doing it for the experience. They still plan on offering something and if they do, I will apply it towards one of our sponsorships for a foster family for a Chinese orphan at Grace and Hope. If you are interested in helping a child in need of a foster family, head on over and click on "How to Help".

While I am loving photography, I have no interest in making this a profession. I do just fine as a full-time engineer. I have had my fill of frustrating photo attempts this week that serve as a reminder that I have so much to learn. Last weekend brought us another birthday party and I agreed to capture every moment. This time the party was for the lovely miss Lily. She turned two years old.

A clown lady came and painted faces and made balloon animals.

The clown lady poses with the birthday girl Lily

Miranda shows her little sister how to swing at the pinata.
But Lily prefers to kiss the pinata.
Pearl is eager to give the pinata a big whack!!!
Lily enjoys the candy from the pinata. She is wearing a pair of satin squeaky shoes that we picked up in China that Chloe never wore. I love the bottoms!
Lily flirts with cousin Nathan. I think she's trying to bum a ride.
A homeless guy strolls by the party. He is apparently collecting aprons. I guess there is another party across the street, according to the banner.
Big brother Addison takes one for the team. He allows the face-painting clown to paint a tatoo on his arm and then tries to convince us it says "Wow". It's just upside-down.
Lily really enjoys her cake.
Even the dog wants in on the action.
Quin shows us his colorful candy from the pinata.
Uncle Taylor holds his daughter Ellie, almost the same age as Lily.
Aunt Olivia plays with her daughter Morgan, also the same age as Lily.
Lily opens the present from Chloe and Pearl. It's a talking Kai Lan doll.
Lily is in love with this doll

Lily loves Kai Lan so much that she kisses her and then begs to take her to bed later that night.