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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! 

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.