Saturday, February 28, 2015

Winter Photography Scavenger Hunt: A Slow February

Driving around the other day, I saw this new building under construction and thought about the Winter Photography Scavenger Hunt. I've been playing along, but realized that I have a few left to do and better get to them! 
I had already taken but never blogged #10 (a letter shape in nature or in an object). I found a very nice "F" in the trees on my walk to work:
 I also found a really cool "5", which you can see in the bottom third of the photo below, tucked into the V of the tree. Dropbox (where I'm pulling this photo from) seems to only save the original photo and not the cropped version where you can find it more easily.
Consider it your morning puzzle to see if you can locate the "5". Ha!
Here's the complete list and where I am (I still need the ones in bold):
 1. Reflection in water - done
2. Someone wearing a funny hat - done
3. Ornate door knocker
4. Breakfast - done
5. Something that is over 100 years old - done
6. Winter weather
7. Someone dressed for the season
8. A fish - done
9. Festive lights- done 
10. A letter shape in nature or in an object - done
11. Polka dots - done
12. Silhouette - done
13. Stained glass window - done
14. Partly built new building - done
15. Bunting

16. A collection (of anything) - done
17. Texture - done
18. Shadow - done 
19. Street musicians
20. Nativity scene - compulsory and can't be substituted - done
Alternative A - new life - done
Alternative B -  a decorated tree - done
I have five left. Even if I can claim credit for both alternates, I still need at least three more. Are you playing along? How far along are you? Will try to link up with the month-end linkie, which should be here.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Scrapbooking Pairs: One Sketch, Two Ways.

Some of my favorite photos from 2011 are the ones I took on a trip out to the hidden daffodil fields on Montara Mountain. The light was so gorgeous, and the day was full of joyful friendship. I looked through my bin of premade layouts and found the layout up top. The photos worked well with the layout, but I had enough photos for two layouts. So, I found some other paper that worked well with the photos and decided to replicate the sketch using them.
I'm really pleased with how both layouts turned out, and I thought they made an interesting photo pair for Helena's weekly pairs photo meme. You can see other pairs by clicking on her blog here.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

More Thoughts on Scrapbooking and Product Reviews

Feathering My Nest
It's three-fourths of the way through February, a month in which I have been focusing on scrapbooking. So far, I have organized my already-printed photographs and layouts; completed Henry's birthday album; completed Clara's middle school album; scrapped 6 pages to complete my 2010 chronological album; scrapped 18 pages to complete my 2011 chronological album; updated my Christmas card photo albums and made Clara two photo books with her cross country and track photos from sophomore year.  
These last few days have been spent "feathering my nest" by going through all the photographs on my computer and iphone and trying to get them organized (at least in my head). I ordered all the photographs from my computer that I plan to scrap with paper, as well as photos to complete Clara's birthday album. 
I continue to find the 2,500 photos on my camera roll on my iphone a challenge to organize and order. But I did make some headway by following everyone's advice about getting Dropbox as an easy way to get the photos off my phone and on to my computer. I have been finding the dropbox-shutterfly interface to work pretty easily, so I will keep using that to order photos off my phone for 2013, 2014 and 2015. Then I resolve to reclaim the storage space on my phone by deleting the old photos from my camera roll! And to use my big camera more. 
One of the biggest epiphanies I had while looking through all these photos was that the best way to deal with a big bunch of them is to create a photo book for Clara's work at the Humane Society and Guide Dogs for the Blind. I have never taken my big camera along to these places, but I have hundreds of photos on my iphone from our time volunteering. 
So, at the end of week 3 of February, here are my remaining projects:
1. Photo book with Clara's volunteer work at Humane Society and Guide Dogs (probably 8x8 from shutterfly).
2. Photo book with Barcelona pictures (probably 12x12 mixbook).
3. Order photos from iphone (through Dropbox and Shuttefly).
4. Organize 2012, 2013 and 2014/2015 to paper scrap.
5. Scrap 2012, 2013 and 2014/2015.
6. Update Henry's sports album
7. My heritage/genealogy album - a project I haven't mentioned before because it's always on the very bottom of my to-do list. But it is something I would like to do . . . someday!
8. And, finally, I do occasionally think about taking our wedding photos out of the album we received 30 years ago and scrapping them (mainly so I can add journaling). Not sure I will ever do this. Thoughts appreciated on this one!
I know I won't get through these all before the end of February, but I will probably go ahead and move on to my March intention, while continuing to work on these projects for the rest of the year (or the rest of my life - LOL!).
And now for some quick product reviews:
Shutterfly 12x12 Hardcover Photo Books
Love these! I made one for Clara's sophomore XC season and one for Clara's sophomore track season. More importantly, she loved them and asked immediately if I would make her one for this year! Since all my photos were already up on the shutterfly site, the photo book part went together really quickly. It took a bit longer to go back and add the journaling. The quality is good, and they came really quickly in the mail. They can be a bit pricey, but they are very affordable if you wait until there's an appropriate sale (because there's always a sale at shutterfly, and retailmenot often has discount codes as well). I got mine during a 50% off hard cover book sale, plus found a free shipping code and another code for some additional percentage off my entire order. I'll definitely use shutterfly to make her photo books for the rest of her running seasons and will use them for a book on her volunteer work.
Shutterfly Prints
Eh, all of okay. Quality is basically fine, especially if I'm printing iphone photos. Price is very reasonable. Order takes a loooong time to arrive in the mail. I'll use them to order the rest of the photos I want from my iphone, since their interface with drop box works pretty well.
Persnickety Prints
I really liked the quality of these! The photographs arrived super fast. More costly than Shutterfly, but the couple of cents difference is such a drop in the bucket compared to the cost of all my other scrapbooking supplies. Since I truly believe that the photos should be the star of the layout, I don't mind paying more. I'll continue to use this service to print photographs taken with my DSLR. Thanks to Melissa and Karen for suggesting this service in response to this post. Blog friends really do offer the best advice!
Drop Box
Thanks to Missus Wookie and Helena for suggesting this service in response to this recent post.  I had to upgrade to accommodate all the photos on my iphone and camera, but I'm happy to have a safe backup for my photos. And I'm very happy to find a low-frustration way to get photos off my iphone and into print! I'm also hoping I can use it as an easy way to upload photos from my iphone onto my blog. Still experimenting with it, since I thought I had cropped my toes out of the photobook photo, but they showed up in the drop box photo! LOL! I'm thinking that it preserves the original photo, not the unedited one, which is a bit of a bummer. Any advice from you drop box gurus?

Monday, February 23, 2015

Luna's Latest Portraits

Our little pup is growing up!
Luna at 3.5 months (about fourteen weeks).
Goofy girl
Playing with side lighting.
Even models get dog tired.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Scrapbooking with Page Elements from Swaps

My last big group of photographs to scrap from 2011 were from my niece's quincenera (a Mexican religious birthday party/celebration for a girl's fifteenth birthday). The photographs were all very feminine, with lots of purples. In order to scrap them quickly, I turned to my large bin of page elements that I have received from swaps over the years. This page used a kit, which had a title, border and journaling block. Simple, but effective.
For this page, I found the border on the top of the left hand page in my bin. I created a complimentary border for the right hand page. Again, very simple, but pretty. And done!
Finally, this page elements kit had a title border, a tag, a hanging journaling box, several photo mats (including one nicely embellished) and a pretty hand-made dress element. I thought it was perfect for this group of photographs!
I haven't been involved in a page elements swap in years, but I'm glad I still have a few of these kicking around in my stash, as they make my scrapping go really quickly! Do you have any similar hand made elements hanging out in your stash?

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Props! Be Still #6

my cup runneth over
This week's topic in the Still Life class I'm taking is props. I have LOTS of props. I collect all kinds of things. I especially like glass ware and linens. And old thing. Vintage things. I love the things I inherited from my mom, from my Grandma, from my Aunt Vera. And I love the things I have bought at antique stores and junque shops.
Slightly unbalanced
I have always been partial to these egg shell tea cups, even though they don't match anything else I own and don't really serve any purpose other than looking cool. So I pulled them out to play with this week.
cup of pearls
I took lots and lots of photographs using the cups, my pearls and a vintage apron. I was proud of myself for being able to pare them down to these three, all of which I really love.
Do you have a favorite among them?

Friday, February 20, 2015

Amanda's Scraplift Challenge

I'm having a great time catching up on scrapbooking this month, and today I finished all the layouts from 2011! I'm going to take a break from paper scrapping for a few days to catch up on photography, to order more photos and to do some photo books I think. But I still have a few layouts to share. This one I did based on a scrapliftchallenge at Amanda's Scrapbook Pages. Here's her layout:
I used 8 photos, instead of 12 (something she suggested as a possibility). And I actually made a companion page to include even more photos. Here's my two page spread:
It was really nice to have this challenge because I really didn't know what I was going to do with these photos. Thanks Amanda! And if anyone else knows of any other good scrapbooking challenges going on this month, please let me know. I have lots more photos to scrap.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

2010 Chronological Album - Scrapbooking with Premade Pages

This month I'm focusing on getting some scrapbooking done. Over the weekend, I completed the last few layouts that were missing from my 2010 chronological album. The layout on the left was the one I put together as the first page for my album and the one on the right is Clara's 7th grade school picture (which will be the last page in the album). I also made these pages:
The bottom layout is Clara's last season on the swim team. The top layout is one that features views up and down my street and photos from our back yard. I wasn't planning to scrap these photos, but I had an extra page and thought it would be good to be able to look back on these years from now.
It was very easy to scrap these pages because I have a big bin of pre-made base pages and bags of home-made embellishments in my stash. All the pages (except the swim pages) were in my premade bin. All I added were the photos, journaling and titles. It makes scrapping go much faster, and I'm happy with the final pages.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Scrapbooking Pairs: Before and After

I've been doing a lot of scrapbooking lately, and one of my secrets to getting so much done is that I have a big bin of blank layouts/backgrounds. When I'm in a scrapbooking binge, I turn to these first to see if they work with any of my photos. It's a way of scrapbooking that works for me, although people are often dubious about how it works. So, for this week's photography pairs meme, hosted by Helena, I thought I'd show you the before and after.
Here's the blank layout:
And here's the layout filled with photographs from the kids' first day of school in 2011:
To see other pairs, check out Helena's blog here.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Scrapbooking: The Birthday Albums

This month, I'm focusing on getting some scrapbooking done. One of the projects I worked on this weekend was my kid's "birthday albums." I started this tradition when Henry was five - scrapping one simple layout every year. On Sunday, I did several layouts in Henry's album, including the 16th birthday layout above. When I completed the layout for his 18th birthday and declared the album "done," I had a deep feeling of satisfaction.
I completed Clara's 14th birthday layout.  This was when Clara was in a particularly difficult stage - she did not want a party and invited her best friend  (and my least favorite person) over.  Her 15th and 16th birthdays are much happier memories, but I need to order photos for those pages.
The pages in these albums are super simple, but the power in the albums lie in the fact that they are 18 years in the making!!! 
There is something special about being able to look back at the birthday parties for an entire childhood in one album (even if the layout is just the kid with the cake and the friends who were there).
Here's a selection of layouts from Clara's album  (ages 1, 5, 9 and 12)
And similar pages from Henry's album (ages 1, 5, 9 and 11):
There's been times I've thought about abandoning these projects, but I'm glad I've kept with them. And maybe someday the kids will be grateful as well. 
Do you do any similar projects?

Monday, February 16, 2015

Thoughts on Scrapbooking (and rant against the iphone).

Honey and Lemons
Happy Monday! I hope you had a good weekend. It was a beautiful, sunny weekend here, and I spent some time outside. But I also did a lot of scrapbooking.
On Friday, I did a mountain of organizing. Most of my scrapbooks are chronological, but I also do some project or subject based albums (Henry's sports, vacation albums, December Dailys, Week in the Life, etc.). I reviewed all my albums and all my already-printed photographs to see where I stood. 
1. My chronological albums up through 2009 are complete. 
2. For 2010 and 2011 chronological albums, each of the albums needed about six layouts to be complete. 
3. Clara's and Henry's birthday albums each needed a couple of pages (these are simple albums where I scrap one layout each year of their birthday gathering). 
4. Clara's middle school album was started and then abandoned. I thought about chucking it, but instead rounded up the photos and memorabilia needed to turn it into a "done" (if not perfect) project. It needed about a dozen simple layouts (24 pages or so) to complete.
5. Henry's sports album needed layouts for senior year soccer and baseball and then all-star pages from back when he was 13 and 14 (I've been avoiding these layouts because I had been planning on finding more pictures). At this point, I decided to scrap what I had and continue with the "done is better than perfect" philosophy."
6. I plan to do photo books for our 2012 trip to Barcelona and Clara's junior cross country year. I'll do the latter on Shutterfly but may return to Mixbooks for the Barcelona one. The Barcelona one is bound to be a bit fraught because that was when Paul was diagnosed with cancer. The kids were only with us for a few days. Paul spent the whole three weeks while we there in the hospital, but he encouraged me to go on outings with my camera as a form of therapy, and I did. I'm not even sure if I have edited those photos yet!
4. For 2012 and 2013 chronological albums, I have photos printed for most things that I want to scrap but haven't started any pages. There are some things for which I need to order photos, too!
5. For 2014 and 2015, I'm just starting the process of ordering and printing photos of the things I want to scrap.
On Saturday, I dove into the project albums. I made 26 pages to complete Clara's middle school album. Super simple, but really cute (IMHO). I was reminded again how happy I am to have what amounts to a small scrapbook store in my craft room, with lots of appropriate paper and embellishments ready to go. 
On Sunday, it was time to turn to the last few lay outs for 2010 and 2011, as well as the birthday albums, because I love the feeling of getting unfinished projects done. I decided I wanted to complete these before facing 2012 and 2013. I did seven pages in Henry's birthday album, and now it's complete! I was only able to do one page in Clara's album because I need to order photos from her 15th and 16th birthdays. I also did six pages from 2010 to compete that chronological album! Then, I also organized the 2011 pictures and worked to complete journaling in Clara's middle school and the 2010 albums.
Layouts coming soon. 
But, for now, here's my big take away . . . 
I need to bring my big camera with me to more events. I love the ease of my iphone camera, but the process of getting photos off my phone is a pain in the rear. Before the iphone, I brought my camera and took photos at all kinds of events. And then I printed them. And then I scrapped them. The reason I don't have photos printed for 2014 and 2015 are because most of them are on my iphone. The bulk (75%) of photos on my computer hard drive from my big camera are of Clara running. Another 10% are art photographs taken for photography classes (like the one up top). That leaves very few DSLR photos of family gatherings, outings, etc. The iphone has definitely changed my memory keeping practices (and not necessarily for the better). This year, I want to take more photographs with my camera (and fewer with the iphone). I know the saying "the best camera is the one you have with you," but all that means is that I need to take a better camera with me.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Thoughts on Sketching, Scrapbooking and Balancing Creative Endeavors

As part of my one little word for this year ("selfhood"), I'm exploring my various creative endeavors by setting a different creative intention each month and exploring where that bit of creativity fits in my life. In January, I focused on sketching and began to develop a style I liked. Here are my last two January sketches:
In February,I've been keeping up with the sketching, but in a faster and more relaxed style that fits me. Here are two recent examples of what I mean:
I did these two sketches in about 15 minutes while waiting for my daughter to be ready to leave for an appointment. They fulfilled my need for a quick art fix and are the types of things that I can incorporate into my art journals. I think this is where I need to go with my drawing/find arts. I don't think I have the patience or desire to learn how to draw better, paint, etc. As a result, I think I'm going to officially give up on the Studying Under the Masters class which I bought in 2014 and worked about half-way through. It was a good class, but not something which feeds my creative passions at the moment. 
In February, I've started to focus on scrapbooking. I made two huge photobooks at shutterfly for Clara, using her cross country and track photos from last year. I got these done during the 50% off sale on hard cover books. I need to make one more book but want to wait for the next sale. I also updated my Christmas card photo albums and ordered a bunch of current photos to scrap. I'm trying pernsnickety prints for ones taken with my big camera and ordered some iphone prints from shutterfly. I have found that neither the shutterfly nor the persnickety iphone apps work very well - they tend to crash half way through the ordering process. Very, extremely frustrating!  Look for some actual scrapbook pages coming soon. I also need to do some organizing to figure out what other photos I have to be scrapped (either printed already or on my computer hard drive).
I'm also very much enjoying the still life photo class I've been taking. 
Which brings me to the question of balance. I'm trying to figure out to make time for all my various creative pursuits. How do I fit in scrap booking and sketching and photography? Let alone art journaling, card making and the other intentions I have lined up to examine this year? Are you able to balance a variety of creative endeavors? If so, how? Do you do a "fly by the seat of your pants approach?" Or something more structured?

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Happy Valentine's/Post Card Swap Day!

Happy Valentine's Day everyone! I'm not a huge Valentine's Day girl in general, but this year, the holiday was made much sweeter by Sian who organized a wonderful February postcard exchange. I received wonderful post cards from Karen of Random Reflections, Jo of curly scrapbooker, Melissa of Daily Life - Bits and Pieces and a lovely card title "rules are made to be broken" from someone whose name I couldn't quite decipher (Cylie, maybe???).  I love them all! Thank you so much! Were you in on the swap? Have all yours arrived yet?
This is the post card I sent out to my recipients:
I hope they arrived safely and that you have a love-ly day!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Country Morning Still Life, Round 2 (Be Still 52 #5)

Yesterday, I posted the top still life, which is cropped, but otherwise straight out of the camera. I shot it with side lighting on the right a white reflector on the left. I did no post processing because it was part of a lesson on capturing light in various ways. 
This second image is the same one processed on my computer to make it more to my liking. I brightened the image, increased the color saturation a bit, decreased the contrast and sharpened it a little.
Just for fun, I took the image with basic side-lighting (no reflector) and processed it to my liking. this is what I ended up with:
I had to use add more brightness and decrease the contrast even more to get this result. And I don't like it as much as the one taken with the reflector. What that tells me is that, even though post-processing can help, it is still better to get the lighting right during the shoot.
Again, the differences become a little clearer if you click on the photographs to enlarge them.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Side-lighting a Country Morning (Be Still 52 #5)

Side lighting with white reflector
This week's lesson in the Be Still 52 still life photography class is about different types of side-lighting. I set up a a still life I call "Country Morning" featuring meyer lemons from our tree, a few eggs from our backyard hens, an old ceramic rooster and birdhouse I keep in the kitchen. I hung a tablecloth on the wall for a backdrop and used a small wooden table as the base. The light is coming in from the right through a west facing glass door. I then experimented with a variety of different types of lighting. My favorite result is up top, side lighting with a white reflector. For all these, I cropped them but did no corrections. 
Basic side lighting
Side lighting with black reflector
Side lighting with silver reflector
Diffuse lighting with white reflector
The differences in lighting are not that dramatic, but I do like the effects of using my reflectors and this is a good reminder to pull them out and use them more often. You can see the effects a bit more if you click on the photographs to enlarge the images. Tomorrow, I'm going to post a new version of Country Morning, where I did some post-production work to get the image to where I really like it.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Pairs #6: ZIZO with Luna

I've been enjoying playing with different ways of pairing photographs this year, in connection with Helena's '"pairs" photography meme. This week, I thought I would return to a classic pairing of zoom in/zoom out. 
We've been trying to decide what color eyes our Luna has - somewhere between green and brown, I think!
{Disclaimer: this was taken about a month ago - she is so much bigger now!}

Monday, February 9, 2015

One Photo, 20 Words: They had no idea what lay in their future

Stumbled upon this photograph from 2011. Mere acquaintances then, a few years later they became college roommates and fast friends.
Linking up with Abi's meme where you describe a photograph in 20 words or less.