Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Breath of Fresh Air (12/27 prompt)

I was so happy to go out and get some fresh air! So this prompt had me very thankful. I parked out near the bird feeder to see if I could capture some pretty birds. Unfortunately the cardinals weren't around. But this little guy was pretty cute....and I love the look with the snow coming down.

Chewie, our cockapoo and resident ball fanatic, was happy to accompany me on my photoshoot. He looks for any opportunity to play fetch. It's hard to deny this face.

The Day After

We didn't have a white Christmas this year which was sort of a bummer. But just a day later a blizzard came up the coast to make up for it. Unfortunately Christmas plans with Chris' side were cancelled from the blizzard. We stayed local and gathered with friends for some ice skating, play time and NFL football watchin'. A crazy bunch of kids decided two-hand touch football would be fun. So out they went in the early stages of the blizzard. Better them than me!! But the fresh air was good for them.

My kids love to skate and were so excited to do so on our friend's rink. A nice fire for the adults to hover over and just about everyone was as happy as can be.

Life is Sweet

December 23rd's prompt was to capture a picture of something sweet. That was a crazy busy day as far as baking and preparation for Christmas Eve festivities. With Ben's help I made a nice batch of peanut butter balls. These are always a big crowd pleaser!

Got Gifts?

A post I struggled a bit with way back was one where you were to find a picture that you could print and make gift tags out of. I didn't really read the prompt entirely so when I saw "Got gifts?" I assumed we were supposed to take pictures of gifts.

Later on, I was trying for a cool Bokeh picture for PW's contest and took a picture of this snow globe. I was going for the bokeh outside and inside of the snowglobe. I added some Kim Klassen textures to come up with this.....

I would like to try and remember to use handmade photo gift tags next year because I think it's a great idea!!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Picture the Holidays - Catch Up

I'm finding it harder and harder to keep up with my Picture the Holidays class as Christmas approaches. My creativity doesn't feel so hot and I've been having issues with my computer screen showing blue lines over the darkest areas of photos. It makes editing really hard....because you don't get a true view of your photo.

But here are a few of my photos from prompts over the past week:

Wrapped with Love - the teachers' gifts I bought nice and early this year....

Recharge - I finally feel recharged now that I found time to make my favorite holiday cookies. They are the Italian Anisette cookies. Probably prettier in color...but I decided to go with black and white for this one.

You are Getting Sleepy - I got right on today's prompt! Chica was still sleeping so I snuck upstairs to photograph her sleeping peacefully. She's been staying up way too late....but making up for it in the morning. I enjoy the extra time to have coffee and catch up on-line!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Warm Glow

Today's prompt was to capture the warm glow of a candle. I took these shots in the late afternoon but they look like it was in the dark of night. They are pretty close to Straight Out of Camera.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Season of Lights

Today the challenge was to capture some holiday bokeh. I played around with my 50 mm lens and I'm not really sure what the trick is, but I was able to capture some cool light blur. Our tree is too big and fat to capture the whole thing. But I capture a piece of it with the reflecting bokeh from the window.

And this one is just plain lights....

I wish it weren't so cold and late or I would try to capture some outdoor lights!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Sincerely Yours

Yesterday's prompt had us capture handwritten sentiments. I hadn't received a lot of cards yet and I can't even remember the last time I hand wrote a note. Luckily, I have Luke's list for Santa....signed, sealed with a stamp...yet not quite delivered (yet!).

I'm happy to report that I learned how to apply textures to my photos in Elements in my Kim Klassen Skinny-Mini class and this photo has two cool textures applied. I'm so excited about how it looks!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Picture the Holidays - Catching Up

The busy weekend set me back in photographs and posting for my Picture the Holidays class. Here's what I missed:

Shaping Up - when I pulled out the wrapping paper this morning to get some wrapping done I realized I could photograph pretty shapes....and document that I'm IN better shape with my progress this year....thank goodness.

A Whole Lot of Happy - I got lucky when two of my favorite people decided to snuggle up in front of the fireplace close by. Watching these two together brings me to a happy place that I can't even describe.

Simply Divine - another tough theme for me. Then I spotted the angel my mom had painted way back in her 'ceramics days' and decided to tackle photographing that. The shiny paint picked up every light reflection around. If only I thought of it during the day! Not the best photography skills, but I absolutely love this angel and what it stands for.....and who painted it.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Twinkle Twinkle

Today we were prompted to take pictures of whimsical light. I had no time to play until late tonight when I stopped to take pictures of a holiday peace sign in town. I accidentally got a fairly cool effect.

I didn't think it was going to be worthy of posting so when I got home I played around on manual mode until I got a picture of the candle light in our dining room window. It is simple and boring, but it was a good exercise in adjusting shutter speed, aperture and ISO. So in that respect, I'm happy.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

It's a Sign

For today our assignment was to find a word or words that are a sign to us. The first photo describes something I'm not terribly good at.....relaxing.

The second photo I submitted is of our stocking holders spelling out PEACE. I was pleasantly surprised to have captured some reflecting bokeh from the Christmas tree. The only thing I did to the photo was apply Pioneer Woman's Colorized Action. (It's my favorite!).

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Reflecting on the Season

Today's prompt might have been really cool if I had had more time to look around! My morning and early afternoon were spent running in and out of stores looking for an ugly Christmas sweater for Chris and I for our first ever "Tacky Christmas Sweater" party this coming weekend. I finally had success at the Salvation Army Store. In the midst of all that I took the dogs to the salon for some pre-holiday pampering.

My first reflection photo has Buddy looking handsome in his new bandana. When he is done outside he gives a bark at the door. His trips outside have been short ones this week because it is SO COLD here in New England!!

Later in the early evening I took my other three little men to the salon. While waiting I captured Ben's and my reflection on a Christmas ornament.

Certainly these are no prize winning photos, but I was able to take a couple of pictures that fit the theme. I'll hope for some more time to play tomorrow.

While at the salon, Jack was playing around and captured his own 'reflection'. Nicely done, JD!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Express Yourself

I opened up today's prompt with a tad of dread. The dreaded self-portrait. Well, a self-portrait was not required but was one example of how to express ourselves.

I had a really hard time trying to think of what to do for this theme. I've never been a fan of getting my picture taken. I decided to try to capture part of my face in a photo. It was hard to capture what I was going for while trying to kiss a squirmy dog. While one of my fingers was holding down the focus button, another accidentally moved the exposure setting down. The photo was very dark...but I boosted the lighting and then applied a couple of Pioneer Woman's actions to get this result.

Honestly, I was feeling ashamed at this photo and not expecting many comments. But wouldn't you know it's the first one that the teacher has commented on....calling it 'precious'. A great end to the day!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Every Little Thing

Today we were inspired to find delight in some small, unsuspecting item around us. This morning had a very rough start. After our family trip yesterday to get our Christmas tree and a fun evening of sorting through, reminiscing about and hanging our ornaments, the tree toppled over this morning. The most delicate ornaments shattered to pieces and some other favorites lost some heads, arms, legs and various pieces.

We got the tree back up and I just couldn't stomach piecing together the ornaments and taking inventory of what was lost. I had a busy and productive day of shopping.

I was encouraged that one of the ornaments I was able to salvage was the one Luke announced as his all-time favorite. A little super glue and the feet went right back on. I chose this ornament as the subject of today's prompt. I delighted in the strength of the glue. And I got my first holiday bokeh! Now to work on getting rid of that yellowish hue!

I also started another class today called Kim Klassen's Skinny-Mini E-course. Becky told me about it and it involves learning some things in Photoshop Elements. Bonus! Free course on Elements! It's like a Christmas present. The little lesson she gave today was cropping your photo and adding text. I already knew how to do both of those things, but I learned a few pointers with the text and downloaded a free font that I really like.

A vase of flowers left over from Thanksgiving has been staring at me for the week or so and I took a few snapshots and then applied what I learned from the class. I took the photo at night with the light from my new dining room chandelier. I was happy with the outcome though!!

Looking forward to learning more!!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The View From Here

I had a plan for today's prompt as soon as I woke up and learned that our goal was to capture a photo of the outdoors, either from inside or outside the house. We had plans to get our Christmas tree where I love the view of the sprawling lines of trees and a huge red barn. The weather was extremely cold and it wasn't as fun a trip as it might have been. But I was able to capture the landscape I had in mind.

And my other photo choice for today was a picture of Chris and Chica walking out to the field to meet us. Somehow Chica forgot her coat and nobody noticed until she announced she was cold. Back they went to the car and the boys and I trudged along to find a tree.

Today's prompt was particularly interesting to see what the weather is like at different parts of the country through everyone's photos!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

You Hold the Key

Today's prompt asked for the key to cure one's soul during these hectic holiday times. I wished the answer for me was something pleasant like yoga, chocolate, running or reading. I had to be honest with myself that my soul is happy when my life (and my house) is in good order. I'm the type of person who thrives on accomplishing tasks, crossing off items on the to-do list and having a clean and orderly house. Boring, but true. It takes some effort to find that key sometimes....but it's worth it for me.

Friday, December 3, 2010

All You Need Is Love

Today's prompt had us focus on LOVE. This is an overwhelming topic.....there are so many ways to document love. And in the short daylight hours while most of my loved ones were not home, I found myself looking for heart shapes. Chica and I stopped to look at Christmas decorations at a local garden shop and gathered up some fallen winter berries on our way out. I thought the green/red was Christmasy.

I was trying to capture Buddy giving Chica a big, fat, slobbery kiss but I had no luck there. When I pulled out the bribery treats, I noticed they were shaped like hearts....resulting in picture number 2. Buddy is a true LOVE of mine, that's for sure.

Some other captures were Chica loving Buddy...

Winter berries on mulch...

And a heart-shaped spot on one of the trees outside our library. I love those trees!!

Still no Christmas decorations out. Big plans for the weekend!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Reframing the Season

This morning's prompt for Picture the Holidays was entitled Reframing the Season. The idea behind the theme is to look at the holidays differently (hence, 'reframe') in order to truly enjoy them. Boy, do I need some reframing for the holiday season. And by signing up for this class I think I took a step in the right direction.

Chica has a little class at our local YMCA with a few of her friends. After class she asked if her friend, Rose, could come over and play. Rose and Chica have known each other since they were born. Both were 4 this past June and both are the fourth (and final) kids in their families. I was happy to have Rose come over because I had nothing planned and hoped Chica and she would play and keep each other company so I could get a few things done around the house.

When I first read the reframing prompt I took it somewhat literally and remembered that I had an open-backed frame in the basement from a print I had reframed. I pulled out the frame and took the girls outside after lunch for a little photo shoot. I didn't think I captured something I would like until I downloaded the pictures and saw their little faces.

I couldn't help but be excited about this photo. I love their little faces and the color of their clothes. I love the way the photo captures their the frame. And when Rose's mom came to pick up her up I knew she was so sincerely thankful for the little play date which gave Rose a chance for her own playtime and gave her some quality time to accomplish things at home without distraction or guilt. She made a point to come back in the house to give me a hug and reiterate her thanks. The whole experience made me thankful to be able to give her the small gift of time today. Hopefully her accomplishments today will afford her a few extra zz's tonight, as we all need rest and health over these crazy holidays.

So let's hear it for Friendship over the holidays!

Here are some other outtakes from the photo shoot. The girls were such troopers.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Something New

My friend, Becky, inspired me to try something new. This morning I signed myself up for an online photography class called Picture the Holidays. The class involves receiving a daily prompt from the instructor every day during December and taking a picture/pictures that fit the prompt. You share your photo with the other people taking the class and hopefully receive some feedback. Or, as the website states, "Picture the Holidays is a photo centric daily guide to creativity and mindfully celebrating the season".

This class poses several challenges for me. First, I have never done anything like this before.....forcing myself to take a photo every day and sharing it with others. Second, this time of year is typically insane and almost uncomfortably busy. The past couple of years I really didn't feel like I enjoyed the holidays at all because I was rushing to get things done until the very end. Yuck! I'm hoping that instead of adding further stress, this class will force me to prepare for the holidays better, faster, smarter! Third, this time of year is when my camera usually stays in the bag for an extended period. The lighting isn't good...the weather isn't's a real challenge to take pictures with natural light inside the house.

But I dove into the class anyway figuring 'what the heck'? I have a jump on my Christmas shopping and I'm feeling like I want to do this for myself.

So, the first prompt asked to photograph something that you are grateful for. Well, this first day of class is as gray, dark and rainy as can be. The light inside was horrible. I left the house this morning on my way to do Christmas errands. I left with my camera bag, just in case I saw something to photograph. As I was driving down the street I passed a house on my left that I always look at. There are window boxes in the front and the owner of the house has a couple of cats that take turns sleeping in the window boxes. I have been wanting to photograph this for probably about a year. I drove past the house and then stopped. What better time to take a photo then Day 1 of my class?? I put the car in reverse and backed up in front of the house.

With my zoom lens I was able to capture the cat sleeping there. I eventually called out to the cat and it lifted its sleepy head at me.

I wasn't sure if my classmates would understand why I would chose this photo for gratitude. What it comes down to is that I am so grateful that I took my camera with me, that the cat was sleeping in the window box and that I stopped to take a photo. I'm grateful for my love of animals and for what this sleeping kitty represents - rest, peace and quiet.....all things I'm striving for this holiday season.