Tag Archives: photography

ANNOUNCEMENT!

I've had this secret for a few weeks now, but I can finally reveal it!

MY SISTER IS PREGNANT AGAIN!!!

I'm so crazy excited, you have no idea. I love being an aunt and can't wait to have another niece or nephew to love on and photograph the way I have Gideon. Here's the best of the photos I shot today for their announcement.

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Rachel's Announcement

I'm not sure Gideon's all that thrilled about being a big brother. 😉

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February: In Review

February has been interesting as far as life achievements go. Well, maybe interesting is the wrong word to describe it. It was a sort of lopsided month, but for once this also doesn’t disappoint me all that much.

Reading:

Unfortunately I only read one & half books this month. I wrapped up Light it, Shoot it, Retouch it finally and while I think it was very informative, it wasn’t as useful to me as I’d hoped it’d be. I use different editing software so basically everything I read on that was useless to me and while I have equipment, I don’t have nearly as much as I’d need to completely recreate the book’s shots. Still, I think it will come in handy later down the road, the further into this photography thing I get. I also read Brenna Yovanoff’s Paper Valentine. You can click that title to see my review.

Writing:

I can hardly contain my excitement where writing is concerned these days.

First, I posted a short story for Valentine’s Day. If you missed it, click HERE to read In Pursuit of Jenna Mae.

Second, you may remember me saying I’d be participating in GRAPEMO this month and that my goal was to add 5K to Dreamsters. Well, not only did I meet that goal, I tripled it. It has been too long since I’ve had such a successful writing month and I can’t really even explain how excited it makes me that Dreamsters has grown from this baby of a project to a meaty 19K thing now.

As part of GRAPEMO, we were allowed to post teasers every Tuesday and Thursday. I didn’t participate in every opportunity, but I did post three snippets. You can check them out by clicking the following links: SNIPPET #1, SNIPPET #2, and SNIPPET #3. (Look for my LJ name and the title Dreamsters on the page and I’d suggest reading them in order.)

In addition to working on Dreamsters, I started a short story for St. Patrick’s day that I’m not really sure I’ll finish in time now, but we’ll see. :)

Total February Word Count: 15,842

Photography:

I didn’t get to use my camera nearly as much as I’d hoped to this month, but the pictures I did capture were adorable. At the start of the month my sister made Gideon this awesome Sock Monkey hat (I swear she’s a crocheting genius, she doesn’t even use patterns, just wings it when she gets an idea). Anyway, about this time last year, we had done a photo shoot of Gideon with his Sock Monkey doll (Click HERE to refresh your memory) so it seemed fitting to do something similar with this hat a year later. I swear my nephew is going to be such a little heartbreaker. Here’s the BEST OF:

IMG_0404 [50%]_edit [50%] IMG_0635 [50%]_edit [50%] Gideon/Sock Monkey 2013

So that was my month. For as fast as it moved, it wasn’t all that bad. How about your February?

P.S. Reminder: If you are looking for February music, click HERE!

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Lights: First Shoot

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I finally tested out the light set I got for Christmas today. I'm terribly impressed.

I've been readin Light it, Shoot it, Retouch it nd I set the lights up just like they said in the book. I also set my camera to the exact settings used in the book, which I rarely ever even change in truth. While the shoot was definitely brighter and a more natural brightness, unlike the yellowing I so often got without them, there was so much fuzz to the pictures and there shouldn't be. 

I know I'll need to keep practicing with this and eventually play with the editing side to "fix" the pictures, but I think that no matter what I learn, I will always prefer the no flash, natural daylight pictures I'm used to taking. The clarity is incomparable to this. 

In other news, I freshened up the red in my hair. Can you believe how long it is now!?

hair length

2013 Resolutions

Last year I didn’t bother making a resolutions list because I’d failed pretty bad at achieving anything I’d set out to the year before, but I think it was a poor decision on my part because I am a list-maker by nature. Even the smallest tasks get written down day-to-day on a post-it and there is this great satisfaction for me when I get to scratch it off once it’s complete. I’m also someone who is pretty critical of myself and the expectations I set for myself, but last year I set none. Basically 2012 was a free-for-all in my head which isn’t wise for a planner like me. I love to live by a schedule. I’m not good at winging it. And so, this year I’ve decided to get back on the resolution train in hopes that this time next year I’m a lot more okay with where I am in my life than I was this year.

So, here’s a list of things I’d like to do this year.

  1. Finish one of my novels. Even if it’s the roughest draft ever, I need a completed manuscript in my hands. I’m just not sure I can keep letting myself believe I can actually be a successful writer one day if I have yet to produce a finished product. So far all I’m good at is having great ideas, great beginnings, but without endings that makes me pretty useless. It’s really time to prove to myself that I can do this.
  1. Write more in general. I suppose this is similar to above, but I mean in different ways. I have short stories I could write, I have other novels that haven’t really budged in a while. I want to improve on that too. I want to really absorb the writer’s life and it seems to me that none of them are ever just working on one thing.
  1. Read 60 books. I don’t know why, but 60 was the number I was really shooting for this year and I came close. There were a few months were I only read one book or none at all. As long as I don’t let that happen again this year, I should be able to achieve this. But just reading 60 books isn’t the only part of this resolution, I want some of those books to be classics, I don’t read nearly enough, and I’d like to sneak in a re-read or two as well. For years now I’ve been wanting to re-read my favorite book (ACHERON, a Dark-Hunter novel), but because of it’s enormous size and the time it would take to read it I always tell myself I need to read something else first. I think it’s about time I get rid of that thought. It’s my favorite book; I should be allowed to re-read it whenever I want.
  1. Learn how to use my camera better, to take better pictures, and to become better acquainted with editing software. I’ve bought a few books that I hope to not only read this year, but actually apply to my effort. I’d like to have a really awesome In Review at the end of 2013 that explores my growth as a photographer.
  1. Go to at least 1 concert. I miss out on shows so much because I have no one to attend them with. It’s a sad sort of thing to love music as much as I do and have no one to enjoy it with. But I’m really regretting all of the shows I’ve missed and I think maybe I just need to get over my fear of going alone and just do it. I know it won’t be the same to go alone, but I won’t be missing it altogether either.
  1. Lose 60lbs. (+/-) This will require a clean eating lifestyle and a deeper devotion to exercise, but I’m really ready for it.
  1. Create more in the kitchen. I’ve really gotten into baking this year, more than ever before. Not only is it therapeutic in some sort of way, it’s rewarding sharing my treats with people. I got a lot of new “tools” for Christmas to improve my skills and I hope to put them to good use this year, creating my own recipes and adding healthy twists to tasty treats.
  1. Make better use of my free time. I want to be as productive as I can whenever I’m not working or sleeping. I don’t want to look back and regret lazy days. I can rest when I’m dead.

What do all of you hope to achieve in 2013?

Firsts and Failure

I did my first non-family or friend photoshoot this past Friday. The family wanted Christmas pictures to put on their holiday cards. I had hoped they'd have me arrive during daylight hours because I know my camera performs better with natural light, but this wasn't an option unfortunately. As a result, most of the photos turned out dark and fuzzy, nothing like the crisp pictures I capture of my nephew. There were also a lot of blurred photos. The little girl was either laughing (moving) or crying (moving some more) and while both could have spawned cute pictures, movement and darkness do not play well together.

To say I was disappointed would be an understatement. 

I fought with my limited freebie editing software late into the night Friday and grew more and more disappointed with the pictures. And with this disappointment, my belief in my ability to be a photographer went right out the window. 

Saturday I decided to finally purchase editing software in hopes of getting at least one decent shot from the set. I can't afford the likes of photoshop, nor would I even know where to begin to use it so I searched for the next best thing and apparently Corel Paintshop Pro X5 is something lots of photographers use. It's like a 'photo based only' version of photoshop, I guess. Anyway, I re-edited the pictures on Saturday and while I am still not entirely thrilled with the results, they're far better than the originals. 

I can only hope the family likes one or two of them at this point. I'm glad I didn't charge them. I feel like such a hack. 

But, despite the blow to my self-esteem over this, I am walking away from this experience with this:

1. I definitely need more equipment. Lights, different lenses, props, etc… I really hope the items I put on my Christmas list are waiting under the tree come Christmas this year. It will help tremendously.

2. It's time to learn the ins and outs of editing software. I can be a great photographer all day, everyday, but some circumstances will require it regardless of my effort. 

Here's some before/afters for your judgement. You can see all the final pictures HERE if you'd like.

Original

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Edited

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Edited

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Original                                                                                           

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Edited

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November: In Review

November was honestly one of the most unsucessful months of the whole year for me, which is super disappointing considering how sucessful November's have been for me in the past. It's like I jinxed myself or something. I'm pretty down on myself at the moment after a series of failures this weekend and the realization that it was time to make this also full-of-fail post, so rather than try and make this long and broken up like usual, I'm just going to make this short and sour (because it can't be sweet with so little to report). 

I only wrote a little under 900 words this month. 

I only read Maggie Stiefvater's Scorpio Races.

Of all the pictures I took, this one of Gideon on Thanksgiving is really the only one worth sharing.

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I hardly even listened to music, but I did get into Atlas Genius at the start of the month.

I gained weight. 

I'm glad November was over with the quickness. At least this month, even if I fail at all the things I aim to improve on, it's Christmas and it's pretty hard to kill my spirit during Christmas. 

Watch, I probably just jinxed myself again. 

How was your November? Hopefully better than mine. 

October: In Review

For the first time this year, I’m not actually surprised that October was over in a flash. In fact, I’ll be surprised if the next two months don’t pass by just as quickly, if not faster. It’s just the nature of holiday season. This sucks for me since the beginning of fall marks the beginning of my favorite time of the year, but I try to not waste time moping about its fast nature and just soak up as much of it as I can while it’s here.

Writing: Even if the weather wasn’t an indicator of the changing season, I’d be able to tell it’s definitely fall because the writing bug is alive and well within me. Thank you, Autumn!

The month started off with me completing my Halloween short story. If you missed it, click HERE to read Intrusion! I’m rather fond of it and mostly because it came from a dream and while I often draw inspiration from dreams, stories rarely ever present themselves from start to finish the way this one did.

Since I finished my short story earlier than expected, I got to working on Dreamsters. After outlining the better part of the book I decided that the first two chapters I had written just didn't work so I deleted over 4K words. I haven’t added them all back yet, but I’m working on it.

Towards the end of the month we were hit with Hurricane Sandy, which left us without power for 48 hours. I used some of this powerless time to finally read my printed Crack the Sky manuscript (27 chapters worth) and see where I needed to pick it back up. It’s been a while since I read/wrote anything for Crack the Sky (like since March O_O), so I definitely needed a full read through before I could move forward. I was surprised to find that there was little to nothing I wanted to change at all, in fact I found myself captivated by the story which I hope can only be a good thing. But as I reached chapter 25, I shook my head in disturbed amusement over the remaining chapters. It is obvious to me that I must have written them when I still drank because they were horrible. The idea is there, but the execution is laughable. Needless to say, I’ve decided to can the last three chapters (3K words) and try again, not intoxicated.

So, where does that leave me for overall word count for the month? 3,895 words for October. Maybe you’re not completely wowed by that number, but I’m pretty okay with it considering it’s more than the month before. Plus, I’m hopeful that November will be even better.

Reading: For the most part I read the books I’d hoped to read this month. I am still in the middle of one unfortunately because it’s not really that good. Luckily I was smart enough not to let it keep me from other books and was able to read 7 books this month as a result! The titles of each below the picture are links to my Goodreads reviews on each book, if you’re interested.  

October Reads (Smaller)

The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab
The Space Between by Brenna Yovanoff
Gatekeepers (Dreamhouse Kings, Book 3) by Robert Liparulo
Timescape (Dreamhouse Kings, Book 4) by Robert Liparulo
Whirlwind (Dreamhouse Kings, Book 5) by Robert Liparulo
Frenzy (Dreamhouse Kings, Book 6) by Robert Liparulo
Vampire Knight, Vol. 1 by Matsuri Hino

Photography: I tried to take pictures of more than just Gideon this month. It’s fall, after all, which in my opinion is the prettiest time of the year. Because of this, I have lots to share this month! 

Gideon Pumpkin Patch
Gideon at the Pumpkin Patch

Milburn Orchard
Milburn Orchard

The Huff's
The Huff Family

Hurricane Sandy
Flooding in my walkway during Hurricane Sandy

If you’re wondering why there aren’t pictures of Gideon on Halloween, the reason is sad. As Hurricane Sandy struck Maryland, Gideon was rushed to the hospital with a 104 degree temperature and a potential meningitis scare. After several tests (including the all-painful spinal tap) they discovered an infectious sac in his neck obstructing his breathing and mobility. They decided to transfer him to the University of Maryland’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit and attempt aggressive antibiotics before deciding if he needed surgery or not. Luckily, the antibiotics seem to be working, however he is still in PICU. This situation made the hurricane even worse than it already was. Halloween was nearly forgotten in the grand scheme of things, not that we could have celebrated it the way we’d intended to anyway. 

Music: It seems strange to say I don’t really have a lot to report in this area this month, but it’s sort of true. It doesn’t mean that music didn’t make me happy and that it wasn’t played non-stop like usual, it’s just that I spent more time listening to things I’ve already posted before than anything new, and mostly because Dreamsters playlist lived on repeat A LOT! But the one band I did listen to TONS was Relief in Sleep. And you’ll never believe what characters they woke up from a year long nap: The Cleaphytes. 😀

Relief in Sleep – “Collide”

Misc. Other: For anyone following my weight loss journey, I’m now officially in a smaller size of pants and at a total weight loss of 18 lbs. It’s a slow journey, I realize, but I didn’t gain the weight overnight and I won’t lose it that way either – at least not if I plan to keep it off (which I do). I’m impressed mostly in this past month to have still maintained a successful loss despite my seasonal favorite – pumpkin – being in everything. I even baked every weekend this month, but felt no obligation to keep the baked goods and found more reward in sharing them with others. I’m feeling rather proud of myself for this.

So, what kind of accomplishments did you have in October? What do you hope to achieve in November? Sound off in the comments!

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September: In Review

It really shouldn’t surprise me how fast September seemed to pass, but here I am marveling at the fact that it’s October already. I’m not all that disappointed as we’ve officially entered my favorite time of the year, but still, time really ought to slow down just a little. Anyway, what was I up to in September? Well, let’s see…

Writing

I don’t have some magnificent number to report. I’m hoping October and November are the months I wow you with a hefty word count since I’m statically more apt to write a lot in the fall, but I do have a number and one I’m not ashamed of. In fact, I’m quite excited about it because it’s for a short story I hope to share with you by the week of Halloween (for it’s “scary” nature). I wrote 2,188 words in September, which is about 2/3 of the way through the short. Can’t wait to wrap it up and then start working on my novels again this month!

Reading

Surprisingly I read quite a bit this month considering I also spent my free time writing. It feels nice to have a healthier balance, where usually one side of these two things suffers when the other is flourishing. Anyway, at the beginning of the month I made a list of at least 10 books I wanted to read before the years end and if those 10 books were the only books I read then I’d be okay with that, since I am more apt to write in the fall and holiday season always translates to less free time to do these things. But, I’ve already read 4 of those 10 books this month so I’m feeling even more confident I can beat my own personal goal and maybe even sneak in a few other books just for fun like I did this month. In September, I read 6 books as shown below (clicking the titles will take you to my reviews on each book):

September Reads

Time Untime (Dark-Hunter, Book 17) by Sherrilyn Kenyon
The Guardian (Dream-Hunter, Book 5) by Sherrilyn Kenyon
The House of Dark Shadows (Dreamhouse Kings, Book 1) by Robert Liparulo
Foxfire (Other, Book 3) by Karen Kincy
Hidden (Firelight, Book 3) by Sophie Jordan
Watcher in the Woods (Dreamhouse Kings, Book 2) by Robert Liparulo

Photography

     All of my planned photo shoots this month fell through. My sister got a new job and her schedule was so busy there just wasn’t time for them. But Gideon got his first haircut this month and sadly no longer looks like a baby, but a little boy instead. It had to happen, his hair was getting so long, but it’s a little sad to say goodbye to baby Gideon and hello to little kid Gideon. 
     

gideon 1

gideon 2

Music

As usual, music was mighty good to me in September.

Envy on the Coast – “Head First in the River”

The drummer of Artifex Pereo turned me onto this band this month and I totally fell in-love. To the point that picking a favorite is impossible, but there were a few that got more plays than others, this being one of them. 

Good Charlotte – “In this World (Murder)”

I’m no stranger to Good Charlotte. They grew up near me and I was very active in watching them climb to fame, but I lost track of them for a lot of years between then and now. Heather got me interested in them again and I’m so glad I’ve caught up because I missed so much great music. I’m sure this particular song will continue to get a lot of plays it will be perfect to write Crack the Sky to! 

Sleigh Bells – “Demons”

I’ve already posted a Sleigh Bells song before, so this isn’t new to me this month, but it got a ton of plays because it’s the song I’m writing my Halloween short story to. While the story doesn’t have anything to do with demons, the song definitely has the sound my characters would listen to. Imagine a bad ass walk sequence to this. :)

The Birthday Massacre – “Looking Glass”

I’m still a little baffled that my dad can take credit for me getting into this band this month. I would never imagine my dad giving this band a shot, but his new obsession with listening to Pandora on his iPhone has turned him onto all sorts of bands I’d never expect. Anyway, I like to describe this band as a merging of Evanescence and Depeche Mode, and really, that sounds pretty awesome already, don’t you think?

So, friends, how was your September? What great achievements did you have? What do you hope to achieve in October? Sound off in the comments! :)

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August: In Review

Somehow August managed to seem unusually long and fast at the same time. I know, this is impossible, but it happened. At the end of every week, I was blown away by how quickly it had passed, but every time I glanced at the calendar wishing fall was closer, it was still August. So how did I fare in this long/fast month?

Writing: I wrote 1463 words for my short story and finally finished it! This is the first short story I’ve finished in over a year so I’m feeling pretty happy about it. If you missed its original posting and care to read it click HERE for “A Pill for Bravery.”

Reading: I only managed to read 2 books this month. I’m not necessarily in a reading slump, but I was more interested in writing than reading this month. Nothing in my TBR pile is currently demanding me to read it and so I took advantage of the break and wrote instead. The books I did read at the start of the month are listed below. You can click the titles to see my “review” of each.

Photography: It wasn’t that great a month when it came to shooting my camera. I tried to on several occasions, but it seems like something always got in the way of a photo opportunity (like the time my sister’s kitchen nearly caught on fire right before we were about to take pictures. Yeah, that happened). Luckily, in the last week of the month, we were able to knock out a rather adorable photoshoot, one where I got to play with some new editing apps I bought. I’m pretty pleased with the outcome. What do you think?

 “She loves me, she loves me not…” 

“Old Timey”

I have a cute fall based photoshoot idea I want to do with Gideon and my sister would like pictures done for her first year wedding anniversary to sort of recreate the moment so hopefully I’ll have lots of lovely pictures to share for September’s In Review.

Music: Oh, music was so good to me in August… So good that making this list a reasonable length was somewhat of a struggle. 

City and Colour – “Hope for Now”

I'd heard of this artist before, but finally just got around to checking him out this month and after listening to two albums worth of music, I'm sold. He has such a mellow and chill sound that creates such a moody feel. This particular song already belongs to my Crack the Sky playlist. It's making me extra eager to start writing it again!

O’ Brother – “Lo”

Credit goes to Circa Survive for me checking this band out. After they featured them on a sampler for their latest album Violent Waves, I just had to have more O’ Brother and it was such a worthy purchase. 

Grafitti6 – “Stare into the Sun”

My sister’s to blame for this one. She’s been getting a lot of music from me lately (and surprisingly liking it) and she wanted some Grafitti6. I’d never even heard of them, but since their album was on sale, I went ahead and bought it for her. I didn’t necessarily expect to like it, but how can you not want to dance to this song? And several others like it on the CD for that matter! 

Circa Survive – “The Lottery”

I was really looking forward to the release of this album this month and it did not let me down. I have three favorites, two of which will be featured on Crack the Sky and Beyond the Trees playlists, but this track I like just because

Other Life Stuff

After following several fitblrs on tumblr for the last few months, I finally decided to take my weight loss efforts seriously in the last week and half of July with a total lifestyle change to clean eating. I’ve forced myself to try new fruits and vegetables and found that I’ve been missing out on a lot of good, healthy food for a long time. I’ve adjusted my sleep schedule to get 8-9 hours a night and I’m feeling much more rejuvenated as a result, and I quit drinking. It’s not that I had a serious problem, but my weekends were being wasted with drinking on Friday’s and Saturday’s and it’s just empty calories. It also didn’t help going through my dad’s liver attack scare when I was already feeling like it was time for me to give it up myself. If my dad could quit cold turkey after drinking everyday for the last 30 years, there is no reason I couldn’t kick it too. I’m happier now that I have, I don’t miss it a bit. And in these last seven weeks, as a result of my lifestyle changes, I’ve lost 12.5lbs. It’s not huge, and I still have so much more to go, but it’s the healthy way to lose it and hopefully once it’s gone, it will easier to maintain since it will just be part of my life. I hope to begin a reasonable workout regimen in the coming month(s) as well, something that doesn’t feel like a chore and is rather fun instead. Hopefully I adjust as easily to this lifestyle change as I have the current one.

So, how was your August? Any notable achievements? What are you hoping to accomplish in September? Sound off in the comments! :)

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July: In Review (Super Late)

August is past its halfway point and it hadn’t even really occurred to me that I forgot to do a July: In Review post until now. Oops. Because it’s so late, I’m going to try and make this short and sweet. Ready?

Writing: I only wrote 581 words for my short story. Shameful, I know.

Reading: I read 10 books in July!  

July Books

Clicking the following titles will take you to my thoughts on each book over at Goodreads. 

Summer in the City (Carrie Diaries, Book 2) by Candace Bunshell (not pictured)
Scott Pilgrim Vol. 1 by Bryan O’Malley
Scott Pilgrim Vol. 2 by Bryan O’Malley
Scott Pilgrim Vol. 3 by Bryan O’Malley
Scott Pilgrim Vol. 4 by Bryan O’Malley
Scott Pilgrim Vol. 5 by Bryan O’Malley
Scott Pilgrim Vol. 6 by Bryan O’Malley
Fallen In Love (Fallen, Book 3.5) by Lauren Kate
Rapture (Fallen, Book 4) by Lauren Kate
Just for Fins (Fins, Book 3) by Tera Lynn Childs

Photography: Gideon’s walking now!

Gideon - July 2012

Gideon - July 2012

Music: I listened to a bunch of old stuff in July, but I did find these three ‘new’ things that lived on repeat.

The Shins – “The Rifle’s Spiral”

Gotye – “Easy Way Out”

Kimbra – “Warrior”

Seems a little late to ask now, but how was your July?

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