Saturday, February 28, 2009

52/365 - Day 58

Random Picture Challenge

It's that time again...time for Saturday's Random Picture Challenge hosted by Brittany over at 4 Little Men. This week, it is the 11th folder...11th picture.

A blue popsicle...A was 11 months old in this pic...and boy did she love cold popsicles in the middle of the summer.

Friday, February 27, 2009

52/365 - Day 57

Go Gators!
Yes...It's real! And yes, they are pretty darn close and completely in their own element. This is not a zoo shot my friends!

Fix It Friday

It's Friday and time for another Fix It Friday project from iHeartFaces. This week's photo belongs to Jen from My Mindless Musings. Make sure to check out all the different "fixes" that so may different people have posted. It is so neat to see one photo in so many different and unique ways. It is amazing how many possibilities are available for one photo with a little post processing. I am new to post-editing and use PSE 5 - which sometime frustrates the daylights out of me...but these little weekly projects are teaching me so much!

Here is the original image (SOOC)

Here are my fixes:
For this first one, I used the clone stamp & healing brush to fix a few blemishes. I lightened things up a bit. Sharpened the eyes using the lasso & unsharp mask. Applied an overlay layer & reduced the opacity. This gave me my slate for the next 3 images.

For this second one, I added a Gaussian Blur layer and adjusted the opacity. Then cropped and added a border.

For the third image, I changed to B&W. Then I added a background texture. I erased the areas I did not want texturized (thanks to last week's tutorial). Then cropped & added a border.

Finally, in this last image, I don't even remember all of the steps. I stepped outside of the things I know how to do & played with some layers that I haven't fiddled with before. One of them was difference (all black) & adjusted opacity. The final thing layer was High Pass. I also adjusted the opacity. Finally, a crop & a border. I like the soft look to this one.

So, what do you think of my fixes? Constructive criticism always welcome! All of the borders mentioned above are black, therefore not showing up...mental notes to self - no more black borders for the blog. And be sure to check out all of the other edits that have been posted at iHeartFaces.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Before & After

I just saw on Shirley's photo blog that 2Peas is doing a photo challenge each week. This week is Before & After...essentially this means a photo before and after a little post shot tweaking.

No Flash

After PSE
I lightened to overall image just a touch. Then, I sharpened the eyes (unsharp mask) using the lasso. Dodged the eyes a little. Created a duplicate layer, applied an overlay and adjusted the transparency. Done! Really made the color pop.

52/365 - Day 56

This is Taz...we adopted last year. After our precious Bellah passed away, we were quite content with the one cat that we had. Monkey is the calm type. Only seeks affection when it's convenient for him. He is a "loner" and an overall easy cat...not demanding! He and Bellah were best buds...truly like two peas in a pod. Then came Taz...demaning and wild! The Alpha male...took over from the start and antagozixes Monkey to no end. But we love him!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

52/365 - Day 55

Nothing major...just playing with the new lens! I can tell you that I really like it! This is a rock collection left on the sidewalk courtesy of my little princess.

Another PSE Alteration

I am loving these tutorials and finally learning how to use this thing called Elements! I am a long way from being good at it, but I'm trying. Here are a couple more of the things I played around with today thanks to The Pioneer Woman and iHeartFaces....there are some minor details that aren't the way they should be, but now I know what to do next time!

In this first set, I have to thank The Pioneer Women for her tutorial on bumping up color for a more dramatic image.

Original Image

New Image
Original Photo Details:
Mode - Manual
Custom WB
No Flash

The second set is another version (same process) of the Glitter/Bokeh Tutorial from iHeartFaces that I played with earlier today. Different background/overlay but same technique!

Original Image

New Image
Original Photo Details:
Mode - AV
Custom WB
No Flash

So much least I think so!

PSE Tutorial

Over at iHeartFaces, they have been doing some editing tutorials. Most tutorials I come across are for PhotoShop...which at this point in time I can not have! Someday! Anyway, one of the recent tutorials was converted to show us PSE users how to get a similar effect. This one was about using a free background layer so that the background could be enhanced while leaving the subject "untouched" (for lack of a better word).

Here is the original image that I used:
Here is my editing image using the glitter background. If you like this background, here is where you can get it!
You can find the entire tutorial here.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

52/365 - Day 54

Close-up of the Freedom Tower in downtown Miami

It is beautiful building tucked in amidst modern skyscrapers and high rise condominiums. And boy does it stand out!

A little history lesson thanks to (which I have revised, but the info comes from there):

The Freedom Tower was built in the Mediterranean Revival style in 1925, when it housed the offices of the Miami News & Metropolis, the local newspaper at the time. It is said that it was inspired by the Giralda Tower in Seville, Spain. The cupola tower contained a beacon light to shine over the Miami Bay, which would have served the practical purpose of acting as a lighthouse while symbolically announcing the enlightenment brought by the Miami News & Metropolis to the rest of the world.

When the newspaper went out of business over 30 years later, the building was vacant for some time. When Fidel Castro came into power and political refugees flooded South Florida looking for a new start, the tower was taken over by the U.S. government to provide services to the immigrants. It contained in-processing services, basic medical and dental services, records on relatives already in the U.S. and relief aid for those starting a new life with nothing. For many thousands of immigrants, the tower provided nothing less than their freedom from Castro and the hardships Cuba had come to give them. It rightly earned its name then of the Freedom Tower.

When its services for refugees were no longer necessary, the Freedom Tower was closed down in the mid-70s. After being bought and sold many times in the coming years, the building fell further and further into disrepair. While many of the beautiful architectural elements remained, vagrants using the tower as shelter had transformed the tower from a thing of beauty to a wasteland of broken windows, graffiti and filth. Worse yet, it became apparent that the building was rotting away and was structurally unsound. An unwise investment, there seemed to be no one willing to take on the project of restoring it.

Finally, in 1997, hope sprang up from those most touched by the Freedom Tower- the Cuban American community. Jorge Mas Canosa purchased the building for $4.1 million. Using sketches, blue prints and anecdotal evidence, plans were put into motion to recreate the Freedom Tower exactly as it had been in its glory days.

Today, the tower is used as a monument to the trials of Cuban Americans in America. The first floor is a public museum detailing such things as boat lifts, life in pre-and post- Castro Cuba and the advances made by Cuban Americans in this country. There is a library containing an exhaustive collection of books written about fleeing Cuba and life in America.

The Freedom Tower is a marvel not only for its rich history and structural beauty but also for what it symbolizes for so many in Miami today. Thankfully, the restoration has assured that it will be around for many generations to appreciate and enjoy.

Monday, February 23, 2009

52/365 - Day 53

When all is quiet in our house at night...long after the princess goes to bed...and DH has disappeared without a word...he can usually be found in our bedroom with the door shut. No, he's not doing anything sinister. But you can bet that he is watching 1 of 2 things...History Channel or Miami Vice. On this particular night, it's Miami Vice. We have the box set of every season and he has watched them over and over!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

iHeartFaces (Adult) - Week 7

Here is my adult entry for this week's B&W theme. I knew exactly which image I was going to play with as soon as I knew it was B&W.

I have very few photos of my grandmother...even worse, she NEVER looks at the camera. I secretly snapped this photo when she wasn't paying attention. Even though she's not looking at the camera, I just love this picture of her. It's quiet and contemplative...just like her! As always, constructive criticism welcome! Also, hop on over to iHeartFaces and check out all the other amazing photos.

iHeartFaces (Children) - Week 7

Here I go again...entering the weekly contest over at iHeartFaces. This week's theme is B&W.

It was suggested that I bump up the contrast a little. This second/revised photo shows the outcome.
Constructive criticism always welcome...feel free to leave your comments here. I chose this picture because of the eyes. There is so much drama in these eyes!

52/365 - Day 52

I thought it was interesting to see that this tree was determined to grow against all odds. It had obviously been cut back to avoid destruction to the wall. Instead, it kept growing...and at an angle to miss the wall completely!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

52/365 - Day 51


Look carefully...If you can't see them, click on the image to make it larger.

These delightful little guys are all over the place here in Miami. This is only one species...we have several different types that fly wild. And since Hurricane Andrew, we even have "wild" macaws that fly free! What a beautiful sight to see large blue and gold macaws over head!

Here are a few crops of the image to highlight a few of them:

Two birds eat contentedly...another in mid-flight...

See the bird at the bottom? It's a young bird...notice that it does not have the red highlights in the head.

Camouflage...hiding in a thick part of the tree.

Friday, February 20, 2009

A New Look

What do you think? I changed the header, color, and template. I really liked the black background so I might change that part back. Give me you opinions!!!

52/365 - Day 50

This was taken at our local garden. I am so excited about this one...even though it's not some great work of art by any means...but I finally took a picture of it with an exposure that I am happy with. Normally, you can't tell that it's a covered walkway...the background is always way to dark to appreciate the coral columns in the background. It's even prettier when the bougainvillea vine that grows over it is in bloom.

Fix It Friday

I thought I would give this a try. I am not at all a master at the editing part of digital photography, but the more practice I get the better...right? iHeartFaces does this every Friday. They pick one image from the week and give people a chance to play with it. Here is what I came up with:

Original Image:

My Fix:
Here is what I did:

The first thing I did was use a noise reduction process from Noiseware (free download). Then, I opened it up in PSE 5.0. I cropped the image and placed the subject on the right side of the photo (using a little "rule of thirds"). I then used the Healing Brush to eliminate blemishes. I highlighted her eyes using the Dodge Tool, made her lips a bit darker using the Burn Tool (all with midtones). Then, I used the Blur Tool to make some of the edges softer. I also played with the lighting a little bit to lighten the picture and changed the saturation for a washed out appearance. Finally, I created a background layer, gave it a Gaussian Blur (thanks to my friend Tiffany teaching me how to do this a few weeks ago), and set the transparency to 25%. To complete it, I flattened the image (layers)...and this is what I ended up with. By no means am I an expert...actually this is about all I know how to do.

Lots of other people have played with this photo too! Check them out at iHeartFaces if you have a chance!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

52/365 - Day 49

Nothing spectacular today...took my camera with me on our afternoon walk around the complex. This is a flower on a tree...most people around here call it an orchid tree, but it is not an orchid.

1.8 or 1.4...That is the question!

Well, I got to borrow a 1.8 from a friend. There have been rave reviews about both lenses, and after reading the reviews I was left as equally undecided as when I starting thinking about the 50mm lens.

After using my friend's 1.8, I can say that the picture quality is pretty darn good. With optimal lighting, the auto focus is also decent. But inside, with the aperture wide open, the auto focus is very sluggish. A few times, I actually had to use the manual focus just to get the shot. I was not expecting this!

So my decision is the 1.4...sure, it costs more money, but it will be worth it. At the moment, it is back ordered everywhere. That might explain a few things....huh?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

52/365 - Day 48

I couldn't pick just one you get a bonus shot. I borrowed a Canon 50mm 1.8 lens from a friend because I am trying to decide whether the 1.4 is worth the extra cash. Anyway, after playing for a day, I have made my decision. I'll post my opinion in a separate post, but for now, here are my two images from today!

This is bedtime in our home. It's daddy time and I intruded to take a few shots tonight. She hammed it up a bit, but wasn't particularly cooperative. I still feel like a few of the shots are great!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

52/365 - Day 47

These flowers bloom on a tree that is completely barren of leaves. The are very wrinkly and extremely gorgeous.

Monday, February 16, 2009

52/365 - Day 46

I hate injuries...but boy was she a trooper. We avoided stitches, but we do have to use an antibiotic for the next week...and the good news is that it appears that all of the teeth are fine! I wish I had a picture of the real damage, but I was being a mom instead of a photographer!

iHeartFaces (Adult) - Week 6

Again the theme is "Wonder." Here is my adult entry for this week.

Would love for this to have been zoomed in just on the faces, but then the subject of the image (the nice round belly) would have been lost.

Remember to check out all of the other wonderful images over at iHeartFaces.

iHeartFaces (Children) - Week 6

I stumbled across this blog that is a fabulous photography resource. It's all about faces and portraits and each week they host a contest. This week's theme is "Wonder."

Here is the picture I submitted...not a technically great photo, but it fits the theme and I think it's adorable.

This was taken at the Museum of Science. While I am quite certain that the babies didn't get all that much out of the entire experience, they sure did love this little exhibit. They were so cute to watch as they touched the sphere over and over again...just amazed with the blue and purple lights that extended out to meet their hands. It was hard to even get a semi-decent shot because the lighting was virtually non-existent!

Hope on over to iHeartFaces and check out some of the other entries this week.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

What Do You Think?

I have been playing with possible frames to use for my images. Here is one I came up with that I like. What do you think?

52/365 - Day 46

Not the best photo technically and I didn't use my "good" camera, but we have officially entered a new era in taking pictures. "A" now poses and says cheese when she sees the camera. So the challenge of trying to get her to look at me is over, but now we have the challenge of trying to capture a natural looking smile and expression.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

52/365 - Day 45

Well, I am cheating today. This picture wasn't actually taken today. It was taken last weekend. DH and I went out of town together without the little one. We left her with the Grandparents...and I mean all of them. Grammy, both great-grandmothers, and Poppy tended to her every whim...and Aunt L spoiled her too! I packed the little Canon with instructions to take pictures while we were away.

This is a photo of "A" with her maternal great-grandmother at the playground. I just love that she has great-grandmothers that are part of her life. She is also fortunate that her great-grandmothers are of sound mind and can enjoy her. This one dotes on her constantly. She thinks she is the best thing since sliced bread. She also loves it that "A" can say Nana...which in "A's" world really means banana, but who cares?

Random Picture Challenge

Brittany over at 4 Little Men does this every week, and as long as I can play along, I will post this random photo every Saturday. Everyone that plays links up...head on over there and take a gander at some of the other photos being shared this week.

This week goes way back...too far back for even me. All the way back to January 2007. I no longer have anything older than 2008 on my computer, so I have to play with the second version of the rules this week...13th picture folder, 3rd picture.

Gotta love solids...or maybe not when the solid in question is cereal and said 1 year old refuses to use a spoon...this is the face (obviously), but you should have seen the hands!

Friday, February 13, 2009

52/365 - Day 44

Storytime at the library...not only does she like to listen to the stories, she loves to play with the balls.