Wednesday, March 31, 2010

YouCapture - Feet


YouCapture is usually run by Beth over at I Should Be Folding Laundry. HOWEVER, she just had a baby. Literally, he was born on Monday. SO Keli from Kidnapped by Suburbia is guest-hosting for 2 weeks.

The theme this week is feet. Usually, my toes are uncovered because, being the hippie that I am, I prefer to go barefoot. But my mom got me these wicked cool tights that are sort of tie-died purple and black. And I love them! I wish I could wear them everyday. I wore them under a black sweater dress the other day, it looked so cute.

Do you have a wicked cool article of clothing
that makes you wish you were 6 again
so you could wear it everyday?

Black and White Wednesday - Forest Fireplace

the long road

Black and White Wednesday is run by Lisa over at
The Long Road to China.

This is Chatfield Hollow State Park in Killingworth. One of the best things about hiking trails at CT state parks is that you NEVER know what you will come across. At this park, I took pictures of a bridge, a lake, a waterfall, and this random fireplace in the middle of the forest. A lot of CT state parks have random fireplaces in the forest.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Carbon Neutral

Did you know that, even though our blogs are paperless, we are emitting carbon dioxide? This is due to the servers that help keep our blogs running. I had no idea.

Thanks to Cherees over at Our New Life, now I know. She was contacted regarding this initiative that is based by a German company. It is called Carbon Neutral. They plant a tree for every blog that supports their cause. It's as easy as that. There's no reason NOT to support them. I mean, all you have to do is put the button on your page, and then email them, and then they plant a tree. No hard work on your part.

carbon neutral coupon with

I'm taking this a step further. For every one of my followers and friends that decides to support this cause, I'll also plant a tree. I'll start this weekend with 2 trees - one for Cherees and one for me. If you can take 10 minutes to add the button to your own blog, post about it, and then comment me, then I'll plant one for you, too. Click on my button above or in my sidebar to go to their website.

A koosh ball

My desk, complete with a koosh ball, my NCAA bracket, my cell phone, and a tin of tea. My bracket is doing well; I’m actually in first place in my office pool. I just need Butler to win this weekend. The tea is early grey supreme; it’s amazing. I drink it almost every night. But the koosh – it’s the most important thing there. It keeps my hands busy when I am watching movies or editing photos. It keeps me focused, even though it seems like it would actually distract me. This is me in March. Simple pleasures for simple minds.

Monday, March 29, 2010

i heart faces Challenge - Dramatic B&W

This week's theme for the i♥faces challenge is Dramatic B&W. Not just any black and white face shot, but one that is dramatic - whether it is the angle, the shading, the contrast.

I had taken this shot of my older brother a few weeks ago when I was doing different angles for last week's challenge. I didn't change much with the contrast because I am still practicing with the actions I downloaded that fix skin tones and such.

Do you prefer to convert your color photos to black and white BEFORE or AFTER smoothing out the skin and enhancing facial features?

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Color Splash Sunday - Yellow


I am utterly exhausted from a long, tiring day at work. It was a HUGE event on campus, hosted by the department I work for. So I must have walked a few miles and climbed several dozen stairs.

That's also the reason this wasn't posted this morning. But I will be extending the MckLinky to Tuesday morning to make up for it.

Okay, this week's theme was YELLOW, as in school buses and the sun and the walls of my bedroom at home.

The bright yellow Playbill logo causes a natural high for me. Getting a booklet at a play, reading each and every page from cover to cover, seeing the actors' resumes... I just love it. I have kept every single Playbill from every single Broadway and off-Broadway play I have seen. I saw The Little Mermaid with Jon last year, but I still vividly remember the music and the costumes.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Photo Story Friday - I'm a bird of paradise

A drabble, apparently, is a story written in exactly 100 words. (Thanks, Tami!) Since I've been neglecting my writing, I've decided that PSF is the perfect time for me to refine my skills. Drabbling will (hopefully) boost my clarity and conciseness. So, here goes!

I wore this shirt to dinner. I like the colors and how it doesn't draw too much attention. Jon saw it; he said, "So, you’re a bird?" I giggled and I said, not unkindly, "Honey, it means I'm one of a kind." He nodded, but looked confused. He thought for a minute, and then he smiled and nodded again. “Yes, you are.” Well, duh! I knew that, or else I wouldn’t have bought the shirt. And if I didn’t know, I certainly wouldn’t be so confident about our relationship. Confidence is key, my dear; it keeps a love life exciting.

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and Momma

Fix It Friday #48

This is my first time trying out Fix It Friday, which is run by i♥faces. I need the extra practice with editing, actions, and textures, so this is perfect for me.

This is the original picture.

This is my first edit, with color and some texture.
I tried to even out her skin tone and make the colors pop.

This is my second edit.
Black and white, with just a little bit of color on the hat
and a faint vignette.

I used pse 5.0 for both of these edits.
I'm still trying to learn the techniques for
getting rid of red skin and face shadows.
I think I like the B&W better.
Which one do you like better?

RAW(e) - Beauty

I'm no good with numbers. I like math, to an extent... But I never know which equation to use. a-squared + b-squared.... the square root of pi over the diameter?! HUH?!

Verbal equations, on the other hand, now I have those down pat. For example, me + blog + photo editing = distractions galore, as was proven last week.

Also, for the commuters among us,city highways + roadwork + potholes - drivers with common sense = a 2-hour drive doubled in length.

On a more positive note, it's time for a weekly RAW(e) entry.

Snow + sparkle lens + flashlight - editing = beauty.

Join in with Sami over at Sailor & Co.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

YouCapture - A Moment... or two.


This week's theme for YouCapture is "A Moment."

I took this first photo last week; it's a photo of a photo. I had actually started with the letters for FRIENDS on my magnetic whiteboard because I was getting it together to do a Making Words lesson with my student at tutoring*. I always love how the letters look so bright on the whiteboard. This time, as I was looking at the letters, I got randomly inspired. So, I grabbed one of my favorite photos of FRIENDS from my college graduation party and used the letters to hold it up on the board. It really portrays a moment of happiness, a moment I will never forget and always cherish.

My second moment is an old photo from last September. It's a moment of love and affection between a mother and her youngest son. Even though he is grown up (and taller than her), he will always be her baby. And yes, that's my mom, because that's quite obviously my little brother, Matt, the one I always feature in photos.

*Making Words lessons/activities are one of my favorite technique for early/emergent readers. It benefits a student in so many ways: phonemic awareness, agency, tactile-kinesthetic learning, correct spelling, problem solving, pattern recognition, etc. And it's fun, too! Children love being able to manipulate the letters and move them around to play with sounds and create words. I've got several printed articles on it, but I don't have a link, or I would share the wealth. Maybe I'll write up a post on it one day....

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Black and White Wednesday - Puddle

the long road

I am continuing with my theme of black and white CT state park pictures.

This is Bluff Point State Park in Groton. I didn't spend much time here. I only photographed a horse, this puddle, and a cool mural on an underpass. What I like about this picture is the group of little white birds up at the top.

Monday, March 22, 2010

i heart faces Challenge - Angles

I love angles! I am so happy that iheartfaces decided to make this the theme for this week's challenge. I am always trying to find new angles by holding my camera up above my head, or holding it just under my chin, or even lower at my hip, or even by just tilting or twisting it in different directions.

This photo of my dad and Matty was actually taken several weeks ago, with my arms held up above my head. My dad has a goofy grin on his face because he thinks my fixation with angles is very silly.

I am practicing a lot with the textures and actions that were recommended to me. I'm still trying to get the hang of it. I really like high contrast, but I'm not sure where to draw the line between dramatic and cartoon-ish.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Color Splash Sunday - Orange



I'm excited to see
what everyone chose to photograph for this color.
Carrots are ugly!
Let's see some creativity.

I chose a lotion bottle.
I put it on my nightstand,
which is a chaotic display of
purple glitter and colorful calendar blocks.

Yes, that is a lava lamp in the background.
I love them.
I want to live in one.
I can stare at it for hours.
(Simple pleasures.)

Friday, March 19, 2010

Photo Story Friday - A Rose

This beautiful, everlasting rose is from a wedding.
It was a beautiful wedding.
I wasn't there, unfortunately,
because I couldn't afford a plane ticket
to the state the wedding was being held in.
But Jon was there; he was in the party.
This rose was on his jacket during the ceremony.
He gave it to me when he came home,
because he knew I had been upset about missing the wedding.

This rose is fake, so it will last forever, as love usually does.
The sad truth is that love DOESN'T always last forever.
It can end in silence, loneliness, heartbreak, violence.
The end of love can be internally caused by one person, or by both.
Perhaps one person is not ready for love,
or maybe the two aren't compatible with each other,
despite their strong feelings.
The end of love can also be caused externally
by family members or friends or even enemies.
A natural disaster or societal tragedy can tear lovers apart
physically or emotionally.

There are so many factors that can affect the strength and endurance of love.

There is no way of knowing if love will last
or it will end
or it will be forced out.

The important part
is knowing how much you are willing to give up
to find out.

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily

Constructive Feedback Friday

Okay, here's the deal with this: iheartfaces is doing Constructive Feedback Friday in which their contributors look at amateur photographers' shots and give them tips on how to advance their editing skills.

Of course, my first reaction was, Where do I sign up?!

The shot I chose to *hopefully* get professional help is this one of Matt on the Walkway. The sun was to my left, thus the overexposure on his sweatshirt, the deep shadows on his neck, and the weak color on his face.

This was taken with a Samsung point-and-shoot, so no way of changing the ISO, shutter speed, etc. Since I don't have my own DSLR yet, I'd really love to learn some more editing techniques to amp my photos. I know a little bit, enough to do some editing here and there, but I'm still not altogether comfortable or skilled with textures and vignettes. I use pse 5.0 right now, but I hope to be using PS in the future.

A note to my regular readers: Because this is Constructive Feedback Friday, some of the comments left on here will be critical. Never fear! I can handle it. Besides, this is how they will help me improve!

UPDATE: I was able to do some editing with this picture. I don't like it at all. His face looks blotchy and the sky is too bright.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

RAW(e) - Distractions

I'm sitting here, being distracted by several things, while I am looking at my distraction photos. I am currently being distracted by little things like steam rising out of my hotpot, the smell of chocolate powder, and the brand new hairbrush I just bought that I am excited to try out.

My usual distractions range from concrete activities like watching movies, blogging, and listening to music, to severely abstract activities like daydreaming, planning, and hoping. They distract me from school, from work, from Jon, and from myself (even though I like to pretend that they don't).

Yet, at the same time, the things that I am distracted from can BE distractions. School can distract me from work, and vice versa. And Jon, well, he can distract me from breathing.

I just got distracted in the middle of writing this blog to make my hot chocolate. And eat some whipped cream out of the can. And drink half of my hot chocolate.

I chose this photo of the book I am currently reading as my RAW(e) photo of distractions for a few reasons. First, I like how it is focused on the words, "I am grateful." Second, I love to read. Third, books (in the concrete form) are a major distraction for me. Fourth, reading (in the abstract form) is another major distraction for me. It leads to daydreaming and hoping and imagining.

Link to your RAW(e) photo over at Sailor and Co. Just remember, don't edit it AT ALL!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

YouCapture - Brotherly Love

I have been feeling the brotherly love alot lately. I really like that I am sandwiched between Dave (older brother) and Matt (younger brother). There is a much larger gap between me and Matt (almost 5 years) than between me and Dave (1.5 years), but it doesn't really make much of a difference. It makes the total gap between Dave and Matt 7 and a half years!

Since I'm the only girl, I got MAJORLY spoiled as a kid. Now that we are grown up, my brothers and I get along much better, and we really team up against the world. We defend each other when threatened, and we all put family first, no matter what.

So, since this week's theme for YouCapture is reaching, I thought it was fitting to capture Dave and Matt reaching for a hug!


Black and White Wednesday - Picnic Bench

the long road

Because Lisa showed off some scenic shots last week, I decided to go back into my photo folders and do some digging. I didn't have that far to look.

I travel for my job, and my main territory is Connecticut, along with the eastern half of Massachusetts. So, as I was driving back and forth across the Constitution State last fall, I formulated a personal project. My project was to visit and photograph every single state park in CT. There are 53 of them, and I only got to 26 of them. But I don't mind because I really enjoyed walking through the parks. Some of them are beaches, others are forests, and others are mountains. Some of them have marked hiking trails, others have museums or historic sites, and others are just fields or lakes. But Connecticut is a gorgeous state because it really has a little bit of everything. It has big city life and small town life. It has urban and rural atmosphere. It has beaches and mountains. It has dirt roads and major highways.
Basically, in the past 3 years of traveling through it,
I fell in love with CT.

So I am going to focus on my state park pictures for the next few weeks.

This is Black Rock State Park in Watertown. It was early morning, about 8:30, when I got there, and the fog was still laying low over the fields. I got some spectacular shots of that and a flock of geese, as well as a little log cabin that is the information center of sorts. I love this shot of a picnic bench by a tree. It's a very GREEN picture in color, so I just had to see what it looked like in black and white. I like how it turned out!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Update on CSS

Update on Color Splash Sunday!!

For the first week, the theme was red. Lena linked in, go girl! And Cherees joined in, as well, even though she (sadly) wasn't able to link up. Many thanks to both of you for joining me in splashing color on our photos. :)

I had originally posted the link Saturday night, and left it up for 48 hours. I'm going to make the official start Saturday morning/afternoon instead and extend it to 36 hours, so it won't be closing until Monday morning/afternoon. I hope this works better for anyone who has busy weekends... aka mostly everyone.

The next theme is ORANGE, so go scrounge around your house for anything with that carroty, sunset-colored hue. I already found what I want to photograph; I just haven't had time for a photoshoot yet.

Any other questions, just comment me!

Monday, March 15, 2010

i heart faces Challenge - Bundled Up

I wasn't sure if I was going to do this week's i♥faces challenge. I was more than willing to skip 2 weeks in a row because, the more and more I get into photo editing, the more and more I want a DSLR.

The theme this week is Bundled Up. I decided to use a picture of myself. This is from last Thanksgiving when my family took a walk on the bridge. It was COLD. Windy and cold, but the walkway was surprisingly busy. The shining sun was fooling us all.

Yep, that's me.

I blurred more of the background and brightened the blue of the sky. I wasn't feeling very artistic when editing this one. I hate how blotchy my face looks, but I really tried to leave it as is, because my pink cheeks were a result of the wind.
I can't deny that I have sensitive skin.

The MckLinky for Color Splash Sunday ends tonight, so any last-minute entries are more than welcome!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Color Splash Sunday - Red

First official post! I am so excited about this; I really hope it all works out.


For the first few weeks, I chose simple themes: colors. This week, let's focus on red! I took several pictures of red objects (pj pants, a rose, a bow) and I decided to splash some color on this shot of some books.

I focused right on the red book when I took this picture, and then I softened it up even more when editing. I don't usually do that with color splash, but I just didn't like all the distracting text on the other books.

So, I know Laura and Lena both said they were interested. If anyone else decided to join us, I have the MckLinky below so you can share your color splash photos with everyone! You have 2 days to post your link; the list closes in 48 hours.

OH, also, if you want to show-off my pretty new button anywhere on your CSS post or on your blog, you can click on my Color Splash Sunday page located right below my header.

Friday, March 12, 2010

RAW(e) - Crayons

Another challenge/meme = RAW(e).

The RAW stands for just that, raw photos. Completely untouched and unedited. I'm a pro at that, because I only started really editing photos recently. (Although I did do it alot back in college.) So I really don't mind leaving it "as is," or virgin.
And the (e) stands for emotion.

The theme this week was crayons. I bought myself some at the campus bookstore. And had a little photoshoot last night. It was fun.

RAW(e) is hosted by Sailor & Co.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Photo Story Friday - A Bird

One of Matt's former therapists used to give him these little animal figurines as rewards for working hard and achieving goals. He built up a little collection, complete with bird, parrot, and seal. He stores them in a little clay dish that he made in school a few years ago.
(The dish also doubles as his pill bowl twice a day.)

So this stupid lovable bird never wants to stay in the dish.
He always seems to be jumping ship.

And I love taking pictures of it!

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily


Just a reminder, Color Splash Sunday is officially starting
this Sunday!
The theme is red. (2 interested bloggers!)
Themes for the next 6 weeks can be found here.

I found another challenge/meme,
as if I really need another one to join.
I'm up to 6 now, including my own and the iheartfaces challenges.

I bought crayons today.
I need them for a challenge,
but I couldn't find any anywhere.
I have markers and pens and highlighters galore,
but no crayons at my dorm or in my office.

Who would have thought that
a college bookstore sells crayons?!

There's so much more I want to type out here.
I'm finding blogging to be very therapeutic,
but I have to remember that
my followers don't need to know every detail.
I love that I can type up a post, save it, and leave it unpublished.

Maybe someday all those unpublished posts
will become public knowledge.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

YouCapture - Quiet


I get free campus housing as compensation from my job.
For my first year, I shared a quaint little house with 3 other girls.
For my second year, I shared a teeny tiny apartment with 1 other girl.
For this year, my third year, I've been thrown into a dorm with several other staff members.
It's not too bad - a brand new building, central AC, swipe card entry - except for one thing.
It's in the middle of the campus housing.
Smack dab in the middle.
So I have hundreds of underage, immature, overenthusiastic
young adults
living on every side of me.
It's the exact opposite of quiet.

It's spring break this week...

No students on campus.

A quick note:
I took these photos last night from my car;
I was rushing to get back to my temporarily quiet dorm
so I could enjoy the calmness.
Hence, the quality is extremely poor.
I just wasn't in the "photography" mood.

Black and White Wednesday - Holy Contrast, Batman!

If you haven't realized yet from all my pictures, I love shadows and contrast. I love taking a picture with both light and dark. And I love increasing contrast in photoshop. I love making shadows more dramatic, and highlights even brighter. This doesn't always look quite right in other people's eyes, but I just love the effect. What can I say; I'm weird. Oh yea, I'm a hippie.

So, I took this picture of Matt guzzling some hot chocolate during our massive storm and ensuing power outage 2 weekends ago. His face was lit by candles, which equals amazing shadows but very little highlights. I'm not quite sure what is emphasized here; my own eyes are drawn to the whiteness of the mug.

the long road