Sunday, July 24, 2011

Retirement Mini-book

I'm spending this rainy Sunday scrapbooking.  The good thing about the rain is that it has brought with it some much needed cooler weather.

I created this mini-book for my Mom in honor of her retirement.  The papers and stickers are from the Simple Stories "100 days of Summer" collection.  Mini-book was a BoBunny mini edgy album.  I used some ribbon I had on hand to tie around the rings.

My Mom was thrilled to get this album.  Inside included photos from her retirement luncheon.

Photo taken with my iPhone.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Explore - an Online Class by Shimelle Laine

I signed up for an online class called "Explore" offered by Shimelle Laine.  I started a few days behind the official start date, but am spending this rainy Sunday catching up.  I started with my playbook - I used photos from a weekend in Michigan City, Indiana that I had taken about four years ago.  Of course, this was before I had an iPhone or the Hipstamatic app ... so I used Shimelle's technique on making existing photos into Hipstamatic prints.  (You can read about that technique here.)

The playbook is made up of two chipboard pieces for front/back covers, Bazzill white orange peel cardstock pages, patterned paper & stickers from the "100 Days of Summer" collection by Simple Stories, and Thickers letters by American Crafts.  The playbook is 4" x 6" and is bound at the top with two rings.

Here's the cover (not the best photo - taken with my iPhone.)

Here are a couple of better photos:

I'm looking forward to seeing how this class progresses!  If you'd like to check it out ... go here for more details.)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Progress Report - 2009 - 2011

Last Sunday, at the start of this heat wave we decided on taking an outing - to the local ZOO!  Not as crazy as it sounds - it wasn't quite so hot as it is now.

The last outing to the zoo was in early 2009.  I was able to compare what I shot then to what I shot now.  The zoo here hasn't changed much, so I have a lot of very similar shots from each outing. (It's a pretty small zoo - especially considering that I grew up going to Brookfield Zoo and Lincoln Park Zoo.)  Overall, I had a lot more "keeper" shots from this trip.  I'm pleased with my progress.

Here's an example.  I used the same camera body (Rebel XTi), but different lenses for this shot - 85mm in 2009; 50mm in 2011 - I didn't have the 50 back then.)  The 2011 outing was shot in RAW; 2009 in JPEG.


The meerkat exhibit is pretty nice - a glass enclosure lets us get pretty close to the little guys.  I added a gaussian blur to the background to help him stand out more.

Before sharing this, I'm going to say - at the time, I liked it.  Really liked it.  But I didn't yet have enough knowledge to know better.  This is SOOC.

My apologies to the meerkat for chopping off one of his feet.


  • Things look good until we see something even better.  
  • There's always more to learn.  
  • Practice makes perfect.  (Or as close as we can get to perfect.)

I hope that two years from now, my future meerkat photo will look even better.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Evolution of a Photo

Getting ready for the State Fair, I've been working on selecting and editing a photo for my submission into the amateur photography division.  I finally decided on a photo of Teddy, the one I have used for the I Heart Faces challenge they held for pets.  (You can see the original submission here.)  I also submitted it to one of Pioneer Woman's photography challenges.  (Note to self: I wish I would have submitted something for her camera phone challenge!)

It has not won anything.  (Except for being pinned a few times on Pinterest ... which I admit, is flattering.)  That sounds promising for the fair, right?

It is.  I have gone back and re-edited the original image and made it better.  (At least I hope I made it better.)  The subject itself makes me say "awww" every time, but the image needed some polishing to make it stand out even more.

Here's how the photo has morphed:

Original: How I have been submitting it before.

Played with the colors a bit and sharpened it a bit and came up with this.  Also cloned out the stray hairs on the left near his ear.  Still needed something.

FINAL image: Re-worked the exposure so that there weren't blown white areas on his head and body.  Re-cropped it using the Rule of Thirds.  That's better!

 Here they are side-by-side.  (Now you don't have to keep scrolling up and down.)

The image has been submitted for printing and will be framed. (I'm putting my framing skills back to work!  I worked in a frame shop in college.)  Looking forward to getting the finished print back.

I don't expect to win anything, but entering has pushed me to create something that I feel is worthy of sharing the wall space with many other talented photographers in the state.  I will also give me a nice framed print to hang in my home when the show's over.

And to tell you the truth, I've paid for professional portrait sessions for my dogs where I didn't get a photo as sweet as this one.  It really captures Teddy's laid-back personality.  Can't ask for more!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Photo of the Day - 07/18/2011


A couple of friends and I were asked to teach a Community Education class at the local community college.  Called "So You Think You Want a Dog" - it was offered free of charge to anyone who is thinking of adding a dog to their family.  We had several families attend, and spend a couple of hours talking all about owning dogs - types of dogs, cost of dog ownership, responsible dog ownership, dog care, dog training, dog grooming - anything that was holding them back on getting a dog.  It was a good class, and it was evident that out of the entire group, adding a dog was not for every family.  I'm glad they took the class and made that discovery now rather than after they got a dog and discovered that it wasn't the best decision for their family.

We brought dogs with us - my Annie is on the right.  We also had a large dog with us, so it was not an all Shih Tzu group :-)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Agility Training - Progress

Worked with Teddy out in the yard tonight.  He's been having issues with missing contacts at agility trials, so we've been advised to rework contacts from the beginning - starting with a board on the ground.  The goal is to have him running across the board, without stopping.

Seems simple, right?  Not so much.  Finding something to encourage Teddy to RUN over the board has been a challenge.

What's working now?  A training buddy!  We are working on recalls - having Teddy run back and forth over the board (and now, over the teeter).  Seems to be working.  I've tried it on the actual agility equipment as well.  Still need a lot of repetitions for him to fully understand.

Tried this "game" tonight on the weave poles, and it helped with his speed in the poles, which has been slowing down lately.

Photo of the Day - 7/6/2011


That's about what it feels like!  I had NO IDEA the garden would take off like this.  These are the largest tomato plants I have ever seen.  There are a lot of tomatoes growing in there.

Maybe it is because of this guy ...

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Photo of the Day - 7/5/2011

Had a great 4th of July!  Took this picture yesterday afternoon.  This birdfeeder is so popular that we fill it every day.  This little birdie let me get some shots in during his snack - he even posed!  Taken from my screen porch, looking outside at the feeder.  Still waiting to get a picture of the visiting cardinal.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Photo of the day 7/4/2011


This picture was taken last year at a dog agility trial. Teddy earned is Master Agility Jumper (MXJ) title that day!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Friday, July 1, 2011

Photo of the Day - 7/1/2011


I took some pictures of the flowers in the yard, and played a bit with this one ... for good or for bad, I'm still not sure.


Selected the background using a quick mask and added a Gaussian blur.  Ran an action on the flower called "Pure Pop" - the result is this:

Then added a texture to the image, using an action called "Golden Dream" - erased the texture from the flower.  The result is:

This was the first lily bloom of the year!  Should have many to look at soon.