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Friday, April 11, 2014

The MagMod

Every now and then Kickstarter provides my family with a new toy. This time, I was lucky enough to have this little gem picked up for me as part of a gift. Introducing the MagMod.

When I first looked at it I thought... well that looks fun... but I don't know how often I would really bust that out to use.... and then I put it on my flash.

See, the first odd piece with the square cut out stretches to fit over your speed light. It has magnets in it that you can then literally SLAP on the honeycomb filter... or multiple honeycomb filters. This image shows the filter being held by the magnet - but not properly placed for use. (just to clarify)

Here is how it looks attached.

Now... there are times when I want to use my flash, but I don't want that harsh "flash" look... and this is a great option to break up that light. I haven't had a chance to test it on portraits but I think it would be a solid option. the part that has me dancing... like really moving and grooving and bouncing in my seat...  gel options.

While I don't use gel's in my photography as a general rule, it has mostly been due to a complete hatred of the thin plastic sheets and that they get torn or bent too easily. 

WHALLLLAH! Introducing hard plastic, easy to pop in and out gels that fit over my speed light! Slap on... slap off! It's MAGIC I tell you MAGIC! (Okay, really it's ingenuous... not magic but I LOVE it!)

Now the kit that I got came with 2 honey combs, and a variety of gels... red, yellow, blue, there's like 6 or 8 of them. you simply stretch the plastic away from the gel that is inside to pop one out and the other in. They are nice and flat and store easily in a pocket of my camera bag. Why oh why am I head over heals in love with this? Because, it means that I can use my speed light as my back-light, and be a little more creative and custom on backgrounds for clients.

Taking an image like this....
Which is perfectly acceptable... (and an amazing product made by Dragon Flight Dreams)

and make it a bit more special... like this.

In an instant.

As for new cool must have toys, I give this one two big thumbs up for my use. Is it a product everyone needs... of course not! That's what makes it FUN! 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The off button

Warning: This post includes wild thoughts, outbursts and crazy notions that live in my head. May not be suitable for all audiences!(and a warm welcome to Over-share Tuesday!)

I recently was talking to my gal Santana from Curly Girl Beauty (who by the way makes the MOST amazing body butters! My skins is so much happier now that I know her!)

So... Santana and I were talking about cyber-stalking, the "crazy" that lives inside our heads and well... somehow Henry Rollins... it was a very deep conversation to have in 140 characters or less. When she mentioned how I might be a bit obsessive... I laughed so much I almost cried coffee. (I might have wanted to preface this crazy conversation took place well before 6am.)

Are you kidding me, Santana! Obsessive... doesn't begin to cover my crazy!

I have completely and totally what is known as an addictive personality. It's why I can never read just one book in a series, and why I can't put down a good book until I finish it. It's why when I play computer games I have been known to call out sick to work. It's why I don't keep more than a bottle of wine, or any bags of chips or chocolates in the house now. It also makes me a brilliant cyber-stalker of people I take an interest in... and a Henry Rollins fanatic.

I don't have that off button.

Now, I don't believe I am off the deep end of the pool - someone call the police type of cyber stalker. Simply that I have a tenancy to have certain celebrities on "speed dial" when it comes to seeing what new posts they might have put into the cyber-world. I mean... I'm not a "super fan" with a website devoted to someone, nor am I a part of any fan groups named after said person (or people)... and although respectfully I understand that level of obsession... I find it funny to see what celebrities have really passionate fans that might be a few streets south of sane... and which ones don't.  

(perhaps I'll share those findings with you some day) 

Now for the record addictiveness has it's benefits! Let's take the year I spent systematically attacking my known fears. I made a list, and what each of my fears was keeping me from doing... and over the course of a year I faced down each fear! (with only one major exception that I am still working on)

For example... my fear of flying had kept me from skydiving. I ALWAYS wanted to skydive. Call it the adrenaline junkie in me. So I tackled it, obsessed over my fear and learning how to over come it. Wouldn't you know it I went skydiving less than 3 months later!? It was EPIC!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Sneak Peek

I'm a shooting fool this week, but I had some special deliveries that I am DYING to share with you! I hope to get them posted to share these great businesses - as well as some of the new equipment I used to do these images in the next week or so!

First this tank, just in time for summer... from Dragon  Flight Dreams - It's super lightweight and I can't wait to show it off!

 Second - I scored a custom design and had a pin and some magnets made from Little House Crafting - (you will have to wait for the post to see them!) But it is PERFECT for me, hint hint!

Special thanks ladies for being AWESOME business owners! I LOVE my goodies that I purchased from you!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Selective Focus

I'm not talking the selective focus you use when your trying desperatly to read the last 20 pages of your book when your child is chatting you up about barbie's latest fashions... I'm talking... Photography!

Selective focus is a technique used in photography. You focus n a specific part of a subject that you want to highlight or emphasize, and you let the rest of the image fall into a the blur of the background. This is the effect created by a shallow depth of field.

Did I lose you already?

It's really simple... all those images where you see one part in focus, and everything else blurred... the photographer has used their aperture control to create that effect.

There are three things that go into creating images like this. The First... is your F-stop ( Known more commonly these days as your Aperture setting)

Aperture Control: The A mode on your camera, or part of what you control in full manual. Aperture is like the iris of your eye it opens wider or closes tighter to control HOW MUCH light gets into your image. The more light, the LARGER the aperture (the smaller the number)  

Aperture controls the "depth of field" think of this as a field of flowers. Do you want the one an arms length away to be just as clear and sharp as the ones twenty feet away? This would be done with a small aperture (Big number like f/22). If you want to highlight one of those flowers that is an arms length away and let the rest fall to blur then you use a large aperture (Small number like F/2)

2. Focal Length: There is a lot of tech and science that can be learned about this, as well as a lot of differences in the types of lens. However, what you NEED to know for this lesson is the Focal length refers to the wide angle, or telephoto number of you lens. When you say I have a 28mm lens, or a 18-55mm those numbers are the "focal length" of your lens. 

A lens of a shorter focal length will create a greater depth of field than one of a longer focal length... so opt for a 28mm over an 85mm (if you have a more "all purpose" lens like an 18-55 - keep the lens in the 18mm position, this will allow you the largest aperture setting as well)

2. Distance: The closer you are to your subject, the less depth of field that will be generated.

This is a great sample of blurring out a busy pattern in order to draw your eye to the beads on the lanyard. You can see the smallest of them in the loop clearly, as well as the cute bee and bugs. While leaving the foreground and background to blur out.The further away your background is the more blur you will achieve.

There are a lot of moments in photography where you will want to utilize this technique. The most common are...

Macro or Product Photography. 
Like the two examples I have given above, I have used this as a powerful way to draw the viewers attention to a very specific part of the image - my main focus of the subject matter.

You can use this to create a general feel of mood in your image, putting the emphasis on your subjects face (or in animal photography the eye, specifically)

Fixed lenses (the ones with only one focal length number such as 28mm) are widely known to have large apertures (like 2.0 or 1.8) in order to specifically create these types of effects! Does that mean that if you don't have a manual camera or a lens like this that you can not achieve the same greatness...

Of course not!

You will find even on point and shoot cameras the ability to select a Flower mode (macro), a portrait mode (the shape of a head) at the very least... many camera's these days have even more to choose from that specifically adjust your camera's aperture setting to create this effect. Those "preset" modes are simply programmed combinations of aperture and shutter settings to achieve a specific effect. You will get a lot more use out of your point and shoot camera if you learn a few basic ones like these!

Happy shooting!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

My life in less than 100

I was challenged to tell the story of my life in 300 words or less... so lets see if I can give you the summery, I think I can do it in 3 basic phases just to make it more challenging. 

Raised in Alaska where I went to school in the dark during the winter... and the words "be home before dark" took a whole new meaning in the summer.

There is a good chance I might have been drunk. (who am I kidding... you should just assume I was.)

No one ever told me that raising a child was a lot like taking care of your college friend. There's homework you don't understand, and a lot of flying vomit at 2am.

Bam! 81! 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Funny Fairy

We all have them, that one person in your life... the joker, the funny guy, the girlfriend who says the most whack-a-noodle things... the person who brightens your day because of the things that seem to tumble so gracefully from their lips.

Woe is me, I am so not that girl. 

Now, don't get me wrong... I think I am HYSTERICAL! However, I also know that in order to "get" my humor you really have to understand, or sympathize with the crazy that resides in my head. That's not an easy task, I know! 

I wish sometimes that the funny fairy would come at night and wave her magic wand so that when I start laughing at myself for no apparent reason everyone else would just laugh with me for a change! Sometimes, I can't help make jokes that no one else gets... of course one of my favorite lines from Sons of Anarchy is also.... "Come on man, you know he's living a few streets south of sane." It might be because I resemble that remark!

I used to tell people I work with, "You just have to assume that I am saying everything with a smile on my face. Because chances are I'm joking - you just don't know it!" In the interest of "April fools" and my Tuesday Overshare... here's a few things that brought joy to my life week, reader beware.... I only wish I were funny! 

From possibly the funniest person I have found on twitter: (He makes my inner geek smile, and seriously I just ran into him as a new follower last night...)

I tried to broker a deal between Magneto and Iron Man but couldn't get them in the same room together

The worst part about killing characters is that they still hang around in your head and give you dirty looks.

Crazy Hair and big smiles:

The link btw, is a super funny video that is a montage of Mr. Luke Evans... and all the reasons why he is so loved. Seriously funny.

The super "bad mom" moment when I realized that my child has reached the most dangerous age of all... she has finally grown tall enough to hit her head on the bottom corners of kitchen cabinets doors when they are left open. If you have ever been to my house... this could be DEADLY... 

and then there is this gem....

I learned why you don't take the wine stopper out of the wine bottle with your teeth. When it "popped" the pressure in the bottle spouted out a poof of wine.. right up my nose. (To be fair, my other hand was busy reaching for a wine glass) 

There is a life lesson here... perhaps it is if you feel the need to pull the wine stopper out with your teeth... you might not need more wine. Sadly, I was completely sober at the time.

Even more sad... apparently I laugh hysterically and for no apparent reason often enough that no one in my house even asked what happened.   

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

5 thing's I've learned from the movies.

"You can't lose something you never had."

And Five other life lessons I learned from movie's and some of their best quotes! I admit, I like a cheesy chic flick or two, and every now and then you learn some fantastic lessons from them... like mouths + body piercings = reallllly bad idea. (AKA: The Sweetest Thing) 

Kate Hudson has had some "great advice" (or the writers of her movies do) to dole out being one of my favorite "chic" movie actresses. I admit that the one from the top, "you can't lose something you never had" is from my all time favorite chic flick, How to lose a guy in 10 days. - It's pretty solid advice and I find it works in a lot of situations, like when someone questions their sanity or memory. I find that I use it at least once a day. 

Prince Edward: "Your men love you. If I knew nothing else about you, that would be enough" - From A Knights Tale. 

Now, I know this isn't the normal "girl" movie... but really, it's got Heath, fashion, and romance... so it's awesome in my book. When you choose your mate or your friends - spend a lot of time with the people they hang out with (friends and family) before getting too involved. Chances are if the friends are lying, cheating, drinking, gamblers... you might want to question why that person like / respects them. If they don't have "close" friends that should also be a flag. If you want to learn about someone, look to their friends it will tell you all you need to know. (or they will if you buy them a drink or two)

"Maybe that whole love thing is just a grown-up version of Santa Claus; just a myth we've been fed since childhood. So, we keep buying magazines, joining clubs, and doing therapy and watching movies with hit pop songs played over love montages all in a pathetic attempt to explain why our love Santa keeps getting caught in the chimney"  -Meg Ryan from Kate and Leopold

You should be realistic about love, don't get wrapped up in the passion-blind, Hollywood-esc, magical, fix-all  dreamland version of love. The truth is love is work, you put yourself out there and you do it out of your own personal faith that it's going to be returned. Sometimes, it's not. But next year when Christmas comes around, you should still leave out the cookies, just in case

Hey, buck up! It's not because you're a woman. - Howard Payne from SPEED

Sometimes bad things happen, like getting on the wrong bus. Sometimes, freaking amazing things happen, like Keanu Reeves getting on the bus... but every now and then, you have to be smart enough to run like hell and not end up with a bomb strapped around your chest at the whim of a mad man. Through it all... you gotta remember, it's probably got nothing to do with you personally. Mad men (or the crazy guy in line for coffee, or on the other end of your conference call) are not typically gender specific... you just happen to be standing in line of sight for when they start ranting and raving. Buck up. It's not you. 

This Christmas - Movie 
Kelli Whitfield: Um, this is not funny.
Lisa Moore: No, it's not, but I'm going to keep drinking until it is.

When dealing with families, holiday's or crappy life situations.,.. drink more. If that fails, Use a bottle of baby oil on the floor of the bathroom and beat the crap out of the naked guy who was cheating on you... that's sure to put a smile on your face. I came by this particular movie completely on accident one lazy Sunday, but I have to say... worth it just for this line, and that scene. Totally!


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

We could hang.

I once went on an interview, to be a flight attendant. If you can imagine that! Me, who only three months prior jumped out of a plane to celebrate getting over my fear of flying! Sitting down with some airline personnel and telling them why I really wanted to make a career out of stepping onto a flying death trap every day... pretty amazing at that point in my life. Looking back not getting that job was probably the best thing that ever happened to me. However, I have to say the interview sticks out as one of two that I have had in my life that I remember in detail.

This particular one, oddly enough not because I had to convince the room of interviewers that I no longer needed to be drunk to get on a plane... without ever really coping to the fact that it was the only way I could fly for years. But rather for the unique questions that I was asked. One in particular, is a rather interesting cocktail question... but it does open the door for a bit of insight into the persons soul.

If you took a flight and were going to be sitting next to one person for 14 hours, who would you take with you... living or dead?

It's like my secret fantasy coffee date, where I get to hang out with super interesting people and learn lots of fascinating things.

So welcome to "over share" day, where you get a sneak peek into the crazy that is me! 

The answer I gave to the interview question was Henry Rollins. Yea. That's right, singer for Black Flag and Rollins Band, neck bulging, bit actor, tattooed, and aging alternative icon... (his words... not mine) But also, a FANTASTIC story teller! When he is not on tour singing, at other acting gigs, or hanging out in LA... he is roaming the country doing spoken word tours. Which at first... I thought... eh, not my gig. However, a friend hooked me up with one of the first tour disks he put out, and I have been a HUGE fan ever sense.
(I would love to know who took this shot! I wish it were me! Sadly I am not Hanks Photographer.) 

I'm telling you now if you want a bit of humor in your life today you have GOT to listen to "Erik the Pilot" 

I did have to qualify my answer, explaining that he is kind of a modern day renaissance man, he wears a lot of different professional hats, as well as being a great story teller, he is well traveled going to some really interesting places, and he really tries to expand his mind by learning and experiencing new things. I dig that. Some of my favorite stories from him are from his days traveling to Russia and Germany "back in the day" when they warned you against stopping on the side of the road because of the land mines. When I do road trips it's his particularly entertaining screaming and yelling humor that keeps me awake... so obviously he's the man for the plane trip too!  (I will even bring the microphone, Mr. Hank.)

So, you ask.. who else is on my coffee date, or sitting in that plane with me? Who else is invited to that crazy party in my head? Here's my short list.

Anthony Bourdain. - You know there would be great food, interesting topics and a lot of drinking going down. Anthony is another one of those well traveled free spirits who has an interesting take on the world, and how to put together a thoughtful, and thought provoking sentence or two.

Rachel Ray - Not that her and Anthony would sit down together, but Rachel seriously taught me how to cook. I love her, she's in my head every day at dinner time. My family and friends thanks her... A LOT. They would thank her more if she could teach me how not to walk away from my stove, or how to use a kitchen timer... or a measuring cup. But Rachel and I get it... measuring with a coffee cup is FINNNE! Seriously, we could be sisters... I get her cheeky humor and the whole talking with your hands thing.

Angelina and Brad- Either as a boxed set, or as individuals... both are so much more than who they are playing in the next big movie. I want to hear about the places they have been and how they manage their crazy lives between an insane business and loving kids, and doing some great charity work. I want to talk photography with Brad. Seriously... google it. He's no slouch photographer.

Robert Downy Jr - um. Because he is Tony Stark, do I need another reason? OK, he just seems like someone who would be fun to hang out with... I mean really look at that smile! Plus did you know he sings? Check him out with Sting here! WHO KNEW! He looks like he is having so much fun! Love him! I might also have a small thing for dark haired men with good smiles and crazy hair. Funny how I never noticed that before. 

Michelle Rodriguez - Because I am on a mission to have TOP GUN remade in Hollywood with her as Maverick. Seriously! She could pull off that brazen, cocky, hot as heck role, and she's even got the right shades for it already. If Starbuck can be played by Katee Sackhoff I think Michele could MORE than pull off Maverick. Who else would look as hot as Tom playing Volleyball with boys and then racing down the road on a sport bike?  I think she and I would have a S-load of fun and find either a lot of trouble... or something really fast to ride. She feeds my 'living vicariously through others' need.

And come on aren't they just the cutest in this image - they both look like they are blushing! 
Michele and Luke during an interview in the UK for FF6
Luke Evans. - Yea did you see that one coming? I'm not sure what kind of coffee we would have... but I would promise not to be one of the millions of crazy drooling fans who are offing to lick syrup off his chest.
 Honestly, he just looks like a good guy with an interesting story. I'd like to hear it. I've also heard he sings... so Robert might have some competition. There is the smallest clip of it in the linked interview and it only makes me want to find more.

Do you have a secret list? I'd love to hear who is on yours?