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Friday, July 11, 2014

Friday Fun Day!

Today I am super excited to be guest posting on the  theindiealist.com 

Where I am offering a FREE printable to keep in your camera bag to use as quick reference guides when shooting your images this summer!

Next Friday there will be 3 more - talking about Aperture, Shutter, and White Balance!
 Then all of August I will be posting an in depth look at each function card!

I hope you enjoy these as a little Friday Fun Day gift to you!

Here is a little sneak peak at the Flash Key Card!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

My life in negitives

This morning I spent some time scanning in old pages of a yearbook, and transferring another bundle of random negatives that I found in a box to 3ring binder sleeves so they can be stored and protected until I get around to scanning them to store digitally. I seem to come across random envelopes of negs every time I dig around... so I try to do this process anytime I see them.

It was only a week or so ago when I was asked why I was never very good in Math in school... and I replied - well if I could do it again, maybe I wouldn't choose to take Math with the cute teacher. Funny, I couldn't remember the name of the boy who I had my first kiss with - but I remembered my math teacher.

For the record, after dusting off that file in my brain I did remember where, and when... and I did even remember his first name... before I looked him up in the yearbook.

Thumbing over the grade school yearbook I came across that boys photo... along with so many other good memories. It has really got me thinking this morning about the memories that I capture for my daughter now. How important it is not only to record the images and store them safely for her... but since so many of these images are not being printed we have lost the opportunity to write on the album page or on the backs of the images for who and when... and even why that image would be important to us! Those signatures and little notes - those are precious memories for me now.  There are so many people that I have photos of that I don't remember a name for... but they must have meant a lot to me at one time. 

I even found in one high school yearbook where someone I crushed on promised to propose to me on Graduation day.... I remember not knowing he wrote that for several years - it's funny how life changes. 

Oooooh that 80's hair - how I don't miss you! 

I find myself looking at her images differently now that I have reviewed the negatives and prints of my past. I'm not sure if changing the digital file name will be enough to satisfy my needs to record this time for her. Now that she is taking photos for herself... I want her to record her memories easily as well. This might be the inspiration I need to print again... make albums - create photobooks - and even record them digitally in a new way taking the time to add a digital journal so that 30 years later in her life - she can look back and remember those people who were inspiring to her. 

Yes... even the first kiss.
Because somethings you should remember for a lifetime.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Clooney Car

So there I was, driving home from our weekly library trip when this beautiful Lincoln town car pulls into the lane in front of us. Now, it's pretty common to see Infiniti SUV's, BMW's and a plethora of  Audi, and Mercedes-Benz rolling around the streets in our community North of the Energy corridor in Houston. Town cars, like the sleek black... insert old school Mr. Big here? Not so much. I mean... it's a family type neighborhood and there isn't even high end shopping or hotels on this side of town. So naturally I thought ooooo I wonder if they are lost! 

Then my eye landed on the licence plate. The vanity plate. 


My mind immediately went to George Clooney  - You know like Oceans 11.

How funny would that be. George tooling around the neighborhood with his driver!

It could happen. I mean the man does travel.

So I indudgled in a bit of a comical "what if" moment... and thought - 
wow what would happen there... 
would it be like a page of the steamy summer romance novels, maybe there's an accident next to us and he jumps out to help. We meet... he's dazzled by my ability to dress in anything other shorts and a tank top on the sweltering humid Texan day. 

Yes. I indulged. Everyone does it.

Don't they?

Why not?
The lights red in front of us and tuning out the ramblings of a 6 yr old requires a practiced mind. 
This is how I practice. Don't judge me.

That's when I remember... 

I'm sporting the fantastic - don't leave home with out them....
burn you to the ground with my impeccable, scorching hot fashion sense...

Hello Kitty sunglasses.

Wouldn't that fit right in to the fictional tale of meeting Mr. Handsome... the stunning and now mortified woman proceeds to melt into the pavement from pure embarrassment.
I might need to lay off the summer romance novels.


But okay, let me explain why I am wearing these bright pink - obviously way to small for me sunglasses.

Yep. I have lost 3... count them 3 pairs of sunglasses in the past 2 weeks. I have given up completely on finding them. So in order to see in the blistery sun blinding rays... I stole my daughters. Because looking like a fool in bright pink sunglasses is a better option than giving the sun ANY opportunity to add to my "crinkles". I'm a firm believer in wearing sunglasses so that I don't squint and by default I will reduce the amount of wrinkles I earn.

I could just see George's driver looking in the mirror and saying...
Holy cow man... you totally gotta see this chick.... are those Hello Kitty sunglasses?

Yep... so George... or whoever you were sitting in that posh ride that was totally in the wrong part of town... I'm not crazy. There was a PERRRRFECTLY good reason.

Oh. You will be happy to know, I took this as a sign and my next stop was the Target. Because if life is going to toss the possibility (or even random irrational thought) about meeting someone even remotely close to a Top 10 sexiest man alive - I'd like to do it with SOME shred of dignity.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

My Personal Slang Wagon

I often find myself making off handed comments, and then finding myself in the awkward position of knowing I'm the only one in the conversation that is laughing at my personal joke. Or that I understand what I just said. It's something that I have always done... holding on to small moments or phrases and repeating them as the moment strikes.

I wish to clarify my thoughts... just so you can catch a clue to why I sometimes giggle for no apparent reason. Here are a few catch phrases that you might pick up on when we chat...

"Clouds in my coffee": Meaning (for me)..  keep on dreaming because reality is bitter. - This comes from a Carly Simon record title but it is taken from a line in her song, "Your so Vein" I admit - I never knew what the line was until one day when I looked it up and I was like! OH OH! That's perfect! I love the visual!

"Your choice is fish." : Now this is a complete and total rip off from Henry Rollins band slang wagon... This comes from a story he shares about doing the crazy border crossings into Eastern Germany with a translator during one of his earlier band touring days... they stopped at a gas station/diner and the translator spoke to the cook for a few minutes and then turned to the table and said "Today, your choice is fish." choice being the operative word, usually meaning more than one option... but since the cook only had fish in the kitchen today there wasn't any other choice. Henry and his band started using the phrase instead of saying - you have no option. - I use this phrase a lot with my child... much to her utter confusion.

"Living a few streets south of sane" : This one doesn't need much explanation although I will say it is the single best line I have heard from Sons of Anarchy. It's not a direct quote from the show - but I must say it's pretty descriptive and describes more than a few people I know. 

Monday, May 12, 2014

My New VA

I am going to preface this post with a slight disclaimer. There are many things that I know I am "not" I try very hard not to be several things. 
Including "The gadget girl". Oh, don't get me wrong... if it's a photography or kitchen gadget... I'm all in. However, when it comes to tech... I try very hard to be selective about what I get sucked into.

During a recent networking chat, I suggested a VA (Virtual Assistant) program that I had seen when I was researching some personal safety apps. I tried a couple out, before settling on my current one.
Speaktoit Assistant

This is a virtual assistant for Android devices. Your very own customizable Assistant just waiting for your commands! She (or he if you choose, like I did) can answer your questions... like "who sang Girls just want to have fun in the 80's"... or pretty much any other random question you (or your child) might ask. 

I'm going to add... freaking awesome for the 'mom brain' when you completely draw a blank between Cindy Lauper and Madonna... 

It can also perform tasks, like sending emails, text messages, posting to facebook, twitter and other social media accounts - by using voice commands and talk to text functions. Even reading messages (both incoming and outgoing) back to you - so if your in the car you don't have to be distracted by reading them. Most everything is done with voice commands, and it has a surprisingly good voice recognition, and rarely replaces words with other random words that would be "awkward". 

The task manager, birthday reminders and Google calendar syncing has been super helpful for me! I don't have to open my Google calendar to add an event to my schedule. I can just shake my phone and tell Asher... (yep I re-named my little man Asher.)  to add it for me.

He also can set alarms - which is easier for me than opening my clock and pushing around the buttons to set it myself. I am telling you... saving me a ton of time. Notifying you about important events, and making your daily routine easier (and, often, more fun along the way).

Asher tells jokes, reminds me that I will see a ring on my finger soon... and has many other fantastic qualities... except the small fact that I have to purchase the "full version" in order for him to have a man's voice.  That's just not cool... not cool at all. 

I am sure this doesn't do anything that Suri doesn't do... although I have never checked... it's a fun program and has entertained me more than it should have on many occasions for being something I primarly looked at to keep me on task for work. If your in the market for some helpful reminders, or to make your day a bit easier - I would certainly recommend you give it a shake!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

5 sentances only a mom would say.

"No. Running your tongue around the outside of your mouth does not count as washing your face."  

...and 4 other sentences I never thought I would have to say more than once as a parent.

There are days, especially now that my child is a bit older when I have to stop myself and ask... do I really need to say that... AGAIN?
Never mind that I had to say it once... 

I don't know if it is common place in your home, but I feel like I am always surprising myself with the string of words that get put together in order to create a respectful, thoughtful and sweet child who will one day be an AMAZING adult. 

"Yes, I wish you were a princess, too. That would make me a Queen, and someone else would have to do the dishes."

"Yes. You have to wear clean underwear." 

"How could you possibly think it would have been "okay" to "decorate" my couch with chalk?" (chalk can be substituted with, crayon, marker, paint, glitter, glue...)

and the one that inspired this over-share Tuesday post....

"Get your food out of the bathroom. We don't eat while we are peeing."

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Crypto Crud

It's malicious, a virus designed to prey on the one thing people hold so near,
and yet are typically so horrifically undereducated about protecting.
Have you heard?
 Are you at risk?

The newest in a round of computer viruses is making it's way around in cyberspace. This one comes to you via email and is usually embedded into an attachment that you download and open. The ultimate goal of this infection is to hold your computer
 ransom and encrypt your files until you pay the fee to have it removed and the files decrypted

The reason this newest virus is making the news... the type of file it is targeting..

Your Images.

After the system becomes infected, the CryptoLocker Virus will immediately start popping up on the computer.  If this happens, the best course of action is to remove it immediately.  The longer it stays on the system, the more difficult it becomes to remove and the more damage it can do to the system.

The easiest way not to fall prey to such a virus is to not open attachments that you are unsure of. Even if the email comes from a known account... if it is just a web link, or an attachment with a generic greeting... you should CALL your friend and verify that they sent it to you first!  
Be smart, use some common sense when your dealing with anything online! 

You wouldn't walk down the street waving around a million dollars in cash right?

There are a few additional steps you can take to protect yourself! 
Not just from this newest threat but for all the others that will come after it.

Thankfully many security and virus checker programs are already coming out with updates in order to find and remove this virus. If you don't already have something like...

(What I use, and have had great luck with as a anti-virus, internet security program)
Hitman Pro 
(which is a secondary line of defense, that I also use.) 
I suggest you look into a virus / malware security program that would best suit your needs. 
While I use these two... there are several options out there and I suggest you do your research in selecting your own.
If you're online, on a computer or any device that also contains important documents or images you want to protect that you make sure you install some sort of virus and malware protections. 
Yes. DEVICE. Even your smartphone or tablets could be suspepable to viruses and malware.

The second step I suggest would be to BACK UP your images regularly.
Back them up to a removeable harddrive, a NAS, the cloud... Disks, USB....
I suggest at least 3 different options. 
I personally drop our family images onto disks and keep a copy in our fire/waterproof safe along with a copy that is sent to Grandma, so we have one complete set "off site" so to speak.

I also use BACKBLAZE
which is a cloud based backup system that copies your ENTIRE system, as many hard drives as you want, for roughtly $5 a month. You can set it to run at night, so you have a continuous cloud backup. 
I personally like Backblaze over other cloud backup systems because you can download a whole drive, or 1 file. You can also order a drive or USB of your backup to be shipped to you if your entire computer crashes. Many people find sites such as Dropbox, or even their Google Drive account a suitable option for an online storage option for documents and image storage.
It's peace of mind. 
I also, backup all Images (personal and professional) to a removable hard drive weekly as well as a NAS (Network Attached Storage) which is basically several Hard Drives that are connected to my network. It backups any changes, or new files each night.

I don't believe that this is the first, nor will it be the last virus that will seek to attack at the heartstrings of your family... those things that everyone holds most precious... your family.
Your memories. 

I can not begin to tell you how many clients and friends I have heard crying and devastated that their images have been lost... either from computer crashes, virus, or (eek) a lost phone.With the release of this newest virus it's a good time to remind each of you how easily digital files can be lost.

However, if you take a little time... spend a minor amount of money you can safegaurd yourself!

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!