Tuesday, August 31, 2010

i heart faces Challenge - Photojournalism

This week's theme is photojournalism, which is all about telling a story through photos. I prefer this style over traditional photos, and I am specifically looking for a wedding photographer that shoots in this style.

Now, these photos that I collected for a small collage are not exactly photojournalistic when looked at individually. However, all together, they tell the story of my luncheon experience at Cinderella's Royal Table. What an experience that was! I have wanted to go inside the castle at Magic Kingdom in Disney World since I was a little girl.

When you first go in the castle, each princess gets to take a photo with Cinderella. After that, you go up the stairs to the dining room. The servers refer to all the little girls as Princess, the little boys as Prince, and the parents as King and Queen. Jon and I got to be Princess and Prince. The food was divine, especially dessert.

About halfway through our lunch, an announcer recounted quick versions of the tales of 4 princesses. After each tale, the princess herself would appear at the door and begin to circle the room. Each princess stopped at each table and talked to the families. They were so generous and caring; they really made an effort to speak with each person. Each princess congratulated us profusely when we explained that we are newly engaged. I truly felt like a princess, and the whole experience just made me fall more in love with Disney World.

*Cinderella didn't circulate during our meal. The fourth princess was Belle, but my camera battery died, so Jon took a photo on his phone.


Monday, August 30, 2010

Giveaway winners & more vacation photos!

I know you all want to know who the giveaway winners are, so I won't delay. I didn't have very many entrants, so those who did enter had a very high chance of winning.

I used random.org to pick winners. These are the 2 names that were drawn:

#2 - Amber from Life Love Green

#4 - Cherees from Our New Life

Congrats, ladies! I've emailed both of you; be sure to respond within 48 hours of my email or I'll have to pick another name.

Okay, on to some more vacation photos. On our second day in Orlando, Jon and I went to Magic Kingdom, which is my favorite Disney park. When you arrive at the entrance, there are 2 ways to get into the park, since it's on an island - either on the ferry boat or on the monorail. Jon and I usually take the ferry because it has the perfect view of the castle, not to mention that the monorail kinda scares me a bit.

As we headed into the park, we ran smack into a parade. That's one of the reasons why I absolutely ♥ Magic Kingdom - there is always a parade or a show or a big character greeting happening.

Jon's been coming to Disney every year since he was a kid, so he knows all the rides. Since I've been to Disney with him 4 times now, I feel like I know them all, too! One of our favorites is the Haunted Mansion. This is the Horseless Carriage that stands guard outside the mansion.

This time, Jon had a great surprise for me - he had lunch reservations at Cinderella's Royal Table! That is the restaurant that is on the second level INSIDE the castle! I've wanted to go inside the castle ever since I was a little girl.

My camera battery died mid-afternoon, so I don't have any photos of the nighttime parade or the Summer Nightastic fireworks show. But come back tomorrow for some photos from lunch inside the castle!

Fix It Friday #68

It's Monday?!?! No way!

Just kidding. I know it's Monday. But I had such a crazy-busy weekend. Lots of progress in my life right now, with the wedding and with other decisions. I don't want to jinx anything by gushing before it's all set in stone, though, so I am going to hold off on revealing how utterly awesome my life is.

Disclaimer: This is not my photo. I did not take it.
Copyright belongs to iheartfaces and the original photographer.

I did the FIF challenge last week because I wanted to practice using LR3. (Oh yeah, I got that 30 day trial since I am still without pse.) I have developed some techniques that work... I think. And I downloaded some gorgeous presets from Isabelle Lafrance. It helps to apply a preset and watch the sliders move so I can see how it effects the photo.

Here is the original photo:

Here is my own color edit:

Here is a color edit using a preset:

Here is a black and white edit using a preset:

I like the preset color edit because it gives it a vintage, autumn-y, buttery feel. But I like my color edit because the colors on the dress really pop and she is framed by the grass and the sky.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Color Splash Sunday - A Fair Staple Food


Color splash photos are those that have been converted to black and white, but one object (or several small objects) has (have) been left colored. Sometimes, it's easy to just isolate your colored object and you're done. Other times, more editing is required, such as adjusting color levels/light/shadow/etc

This week's theme is AMUSEMENT PARK or FAIR or CARNIVAL. My whole family went to our local county fair last week, and it was so much fun! The best about the fair is the food, easily. There's so much food everywhere! There is Greek food and Italian food and Polish food and American food and Chinese food and Mexican food... I am always stuffed when we leave.

Something I get every year at the fair is fried dough. Each part of the world has their own version of fried dough, including New Orleans. They have French-style beignets, which are very similar to my favorite, the Italian zeppoles.

Before I put up the Linky tool, I want to remind you all that MY GIVEAWAY ENDS TONIGHT! 9pm EST. There will be 2 winners. CLICK HERE to enter!

Okay, time to link up your own photos!

PhotobucketYOUR CHOICE!

Friday, August 27, 2010

PSF - Flying to Orlando

2 things before I get to the real story:

First, please go enter my giveaway! There's only 4 entrants right now, and I am offering 2 prizes.

Second, my photo got first place in the Flower category at the fair! I did a little happy dance when I saw the blue ribbon. And my dad got 2nd place in the Nature category, so please go to his blog and leave some congrats.

Okay, on to the story. My fiance and I flew to Orlando, FL for a week-long vacation a couple weeks ago. Here is our first day in lots of photos (and some words):

It was cloudy and cold when we left, which made me even happier about our sunny destination.

I was watching the clouds for most of the flight, looking for heart-shaped clouds. I found this cool storm instead!

I'll be honest, we always fly JetBlue. I love the tv and radio, the free snacks, and the extra legroom. Plus, their prices are more affordable than the others airlines that fly in/out of our area.

And they have the LiveMap so you can always see where you are and the plane's speed + altitude. Almost there!

Yay! We made it to Orlando!

The Orlando airport has stores for Disney, Kennedy Space Center, SeaWorld, and Universal. I made Jon stop so I could take photos of the HUGE Harry Potter displays.

After we landed and got the rental car, we went to lunch and then headed to the hotel. We were too early to check-in, so we played in the afternoon rainstorm.

And this was the view from our third floor villa/condo after the rainstorm was over. Other than the storm the first day, and some rain the second day, it was gorgeous weather the whole time we were there.

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and Lolli

Disclaimer: JetBlue has no idea how much I love their airline, or the fact that I wrote about them. I didn't get any compensation whatsoever for saying how much I love them.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Black and White Wednesday - Reflections

the long road

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

Another peaceful lake, this time at Stratton Brook State Park in Simsbury, CT. This whole park is very peaceful, intended for hiking and fishing. I spent a great deal of time at this park, just sitting by the lake. I don't remember much else about the park, other than the lake being wholly surrounded by these tall trees. The park was originally a state forest. New England is just gorgeous.

PS - I am offering some of my own photo prints for my first giveaway! There are 6 to choose from, and I will be picking 2 winners on Monday. CLICK HERE to enter!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

My first giveaway!

So, I've been planning something fun for the past few weeks, and was just waiting for today to finally tell you all! I waited until today because it is Opening Day of the county fair where I live. This is a HUGE fair that is attending by almost half a million people each year.

As some of you may have read on my dad's blog, he and I recently entered photos into the fair's photography contest. We suffered a lot of stress and experienced a great deal of learning as we went through the process of choosing, printing, and submitting our photos. Luckily, they were all accepted and we are going to go to the fair tomorrow to see our photos proudly displayed.

In the process of printing, we both ended up with double prints of each of our photos. My mom is keeping some of the prints, and I am keeping some of them, but I still have extras. There are a couple that I can give as gifts... What about the rest? I don't want to throw them out...


I can give them to you.

So, yes, this would be my first giveaway. (And I do say first because I want to do more eventually.)

Here are the 6 photos you get to choose from:

Photos will not be watermarked. Click to enlarge.

I'll be picking 2 winners, and here's how you can enter:

Mandatory entry:

Comment here telling me which photo you would choose and what you would do with it (hang it on a wall, turn it into a puzzle for your kids, put it in a scrapbook, etc).

Additional entries: (not required)

Post about this giveaway on your blog and leave the link in a comment. +1

Tell me in a comment if you have entered photos in a concrete contest (not a blog). +1

Please be sure to leave a separate comment with your email address for each entry. For example, if you choose to do both additional entries, you should leave 3 comments, and each comment needs to have your email address.

Giveaway will run until Sunday night at 9 pm EST. I'll announce the winners on Monday. Good luck, and tell your friends!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Catching Up...

I had 700+ unread posts in my Google Reader. It has taken me 4 days (since I didn't do any reading on Saturday) to get it down to just 5 unread posts. I haven't really been commenting much, but I do hope to get back to regular commenting within a few days. So, I AM reading, even if you don't hear from me.

The reason I didn't do any reading on Saturday is that Jon and I had our engagement party. It was a backyard barbecue at my parents' house with a beachy theme. It was so nice to have all of my bridesmaids together, since one of them is my cousin that lives in NJ and I only get to see her 2-3 times a year. It was a wonderful day full of love and laughter. I wish I could have an engagement party every weekend! I never shared our engagement photos, so here are my favorites:

As I've mentioned before, I travel A LOT for work. I cover the entire state of Connecticut on my own, as well as the western half of Massachusetts. My territory has been expanded this year to include Rhode Island and New Hampshire, and my MA area was shifted further east. I start going out on the road on September 13th, and I don't end until Thanksgiving. Depending on how many events I am attending, and the internet at my hotels, blog posts from me will be either very often, or few and far between. I kinda went cold turkey on memes and photo challenges. Remember when I used to enter 7 or 8 a week? Well, I haven't entered one in almost 2 weeks! It certainly has been hard to avoid them, but I need to get used to it. Those 11 weeks of travel will be here before I know it, and I certainly won't have as much time at my computer as I do now.

Getting to know YOU

1. If you could host a Reality TV show, which one would it be? Big Brother! I watched that show when it first started. I don't anymore, but it's the most interesting show to me. Or America's Next Top Model. ANTM marathons are perfect for lazy days.

2. Do you put your seatbelt on before or after you start the car? Usually after, but sometimes I get distracted and try to start driving before I even take my keys out of my purse.

3. Shave or hair removal cream? The hair removal creams all smell just awful, so I'll stick with shaving for now... Until I can get it all laser-removed!

4. What's your favorite feature in a house? New-ish appliances and updated bathrooms.

5. What is your favorite "Fall" scent? Wood smoke.

6. What tv show are you looking forward to seeing the most this Fall?? In the fall, I watch Family Guy and Hoarding: Buried Alive, and ANTM (if it's a new cycle).

7. Personal Shopper or Personal Chef? Chef. I can shop just fine on my own, THANKYOUVERYMUCH.

8. What is the first word that comes to mind when you think of "Fall"? Leaves changing colors.... Oops, that's 3 words. Sooo, just 'leaves.'

Sunday, August 22, 2010

CSS announcement

I wasn't able to get fully caught up on blogging this weekend, which means that CSS has been put on the back burner. I am going to push every theme off by one week. Please CLICK HERE to see updated dates and themes.


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Back from vacation!

WOW! What a crazy/fun/cool vacation I had... If you've been checking my blog, you know that we went to several different places. I'll try to sum it up quickly right now: Jon and I flew to Orlando with 2 friends (a married couple). We stayed in a villa/condo that was just a quick drive from Disney. We went to SeaWorld, Universal, 2 dinner theatres, and 2 Disney parks, as well as some other random places. I got sunburned, Jon got sunburned, and after 7 days of sun, we flew back to cloudy skies... Not cool. I took tons of pictures, but not as many as I would have liked because my camera battery died and half the outlets in the villa/condo didn't work. I'll try to share some of them as soon as I can get back to somewhat of a schedule.

Talk to you all again soon!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Guest Post: Melis

Today, I am off to Epcot, which is Jon's favorite Disney park. So we have a guest post from Melis over at The Zookeeper's Diary, who happens to be my fiance's SIL. Enjoy!

I was never one of those kids who could picture herself in 10 years. I knew I'd be older, but I never had a clear idea as to where. I could never imagine me wearing one hat or another - living in one house over another. I didn't have the same answer twice when someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up.

Well, here I am, and I'm still a little dumbfounded about how it happened.

See, for all of my wondering, I never ever even came close to picturing me, mom of 3, scooping turds out of the bathtub by hand after dinner one night and thinking, "Great, I'm going to have to fold those diapers after the kids go to bed because I have to sanitize the 8,743 bath toys that were marinating in bacteria." No. No, sir, I did not picture those words coming out of my mouth.

When I was busy seeking higher education and immersing myself in academia, I had a hard time finding direction; I didn't know if I wanted to go into world politics or into teaching. I didn't know if I was going to write important works of literature or advance cures for awful diseases. It didn't matter what it
was, as long as I was making an impact somewhere.

But I had no idea it would come in the form of raising babies to be good people.

Nope. At my wedding, our priest said something about "being blessed with many children" or something like that and I have a video of me grimacing at the mention of bountiful offspring because I wasn't sure if I was ready for ONE child, let alone "many" of them. I didn't know what I wanted except to be with my husband for eternity.

Well, somewhere in there, something changed and now I wouldn't trade my life for anything in the universe. I adore my kids and my role as a mother and homemaker - even when I'm trying to hold it together through tantrums and maelstroms of bodily functions and worries over every single weird medical symptom. (And I never would have imagined how many weird medical symptoms kids exhibit, by the way.) It's unbelievable that I'm so happy letting my brain go to mush and letting my degrees hang uselessly on the wall next to framed pictures of Thomas the Tank Engine... that where once I could tell you how the electoral system in Germany worked, I can now tell you the entire Disney Channel morning lineup for both summer and fall. Where once I immersed myself in classic literature and read The Iliad for fun, now I have "The Little Engine that Could" memorized and have special voices for characters.

I think, during all my years of wandering without direction, I was wandering towards this without knowing it. I think I lacked a sense of direction because I was too young and immature to realize that this was the perfect fit for me and I was unable to force myself down a different path. I think that maybe I heard a special Someone calling me towards this, and because I had left myself open, I followed.

I think I know that I am unimaginably blessed.

Is my life different now that I am Mommy and Wife instead of Ms. Popular or Ms. Overachiever? It is and it isn't. It's different because the things I do are not the same. Instead of searching for the perfect pair of heels to wear with those skinny jeans, I spend months choosing and sewing Halloween costumes. But the reason I do the things is no different - my priorities are no different. As always, I put others first, and I want to be the best I possibly can be.. the best mother I can be... the best wife I can be... the best person I can be. So just because I'm striving to overachieve in this job instead of in a skyscraper, glass-walled, corner office in Manhattan, it doesn't mean that I'm not the same fundamental person... and that makes me feel like a success.

So I wish only one thing: that I could go back and tap Ms. Overachiever on the shoulder and whisper, "Hey Girl, listen. You are going to end up happy if you follow your heart and are true to yourself like all the Disney movie songs will tell you, but don't forget to enjoy every single second of life until then and don't
worry about stressing over and planning every single step perfectly because there's a good chance you're going to end up in the right place no matter what. Have some faith... Life. Is. Good. Remember your roots and remember to be thankful for your blessings and you'll be just fine."

Because let me tell you, this journey is incredible - and made even more so by not being too focused on the destination to see the sights along the way.

They don't teach that in academia... and it's sort of a shame.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Guest Post: Jeff K.

Today, I am off to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, making sure to spend lots of time at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter! So we have a guest post from Jeff (aka my dad), of JeffK Photo. Enjoy!

I am delighted to be the guest blogger for Amy, who is the brains and skill behind 'Artistically Amy'. She also happens to be my daughter, and this by itself makes the post extra special to me, where I can say I am thrilled beyond belief at her abilities as a writer, photographer, and daughter. And of course, asking me to guest blog.

Amy is now engaged, and while I always knew it would happen someday, I kept hoping time would stop, or at least slow down a little bit, giving me more time to enjoy her time at home, going on family vacations, all the stuff that daddies enjoy. I always knew Amy would be successful at whatever she attempted, and thus far, she has managed very well -- Master's degree in Education, personable, approachable, concern for people and the environment, all-around good person, and soon to be Jon's wife, and a mother some day.

So enough with the gooshy stuff, we are here to discuss photography, and speaking of photography, I am here to comment on just that. Without actually planning it, I must have instilled in Amy the joy and satisfaction of a perfect photo, or at least attempting the perfect photo with the help of such wonderful tools like Gimp, PS, and PSE, as well as others. In my days of film in high school, we weren't so lucky to have a delete key and erase button on our dslr cameras and laptops. We took many photos, threw away many that were blurry, had fingers showing, wrong content or the lack of intent. But before we could examine our photos, we had to develop them, either in the darkroom in the school, or by bringing the roll of film to "Fotomat". Anyone who did film may remember Fotomat, where you dropped off your roll of film and came back a day later, or maybe 2 days, to pick up your pics. (I had one Fotomat location of preference since there was a cute girl running it, but we'll save this story for another time).

Many trips were made to Fotomat after graduating high school, and I have hundreds of photos and slides packed away for a rainy day. I want to scan them in to have digital backups. I may even put them up to Flickr or a blog page some day. I remember working in the lab in school, and seeing the photos come to life in the tray, red light surrounding us. The joy was tremendous, but I suppose not enough to get me into becoming a professional photog. I cannot afford to be one now, with the cost of lenses and bodies so high (like the 11-16mm which I dream of, or the Nikor 18-200VR, or maybe an EOS 5D or 7D) . I bought a Canon Ftb in high school, and this was my workhorse. I bought a 70-300, a wide angle, and assorted filters. It was a fun hobby, and I did not spend a lot of money. Then I purchased a Canon AE-1, which I still own, and this was a fantastic film camera. This body was used to take many of my shots, which adorn the boxes they are packed away in.

I now own a Nikon D80, thanks to Santa, (actually my family). The D80 came with an 18-135mm, a very good basic wide / zoom lens. After using a film camera for years, I now had to learn the digital world of photography. I had been using computers since 1980, thanks to a career at IBM, and of course, VCR, microwave, etc. So I thought it should be easy. And it is! Just put the setting to Auto, and point and click. But wait! This is not a point and shoot, but a top of the line (in 2007) Nikon, which can be used in Auto, manual, dark, light, action, anything! I am still learning how to use it, with the myriad of different settings. And it can be confusing. The best part is the delete key. However, since I can get 1000 shots on my card, I am in no hurry to delete until uploading to the computer. Then I can really view the shots for what they are worth, or not worth.

One way to learn is jot down the settings for the photo, like dsc_0001 Auto, dsc_0002 manual, dsc_0003 f5, iso400, and on and on. I had made a BIG mistake during a photo walk once on the Walkway. I had the iso set for auto-iso, with no limit. Not realizing it, my skies were being washed out. Many shots ruined. No blue sky! I was aggravated, but I figured it out later at home, by going into the backyard and doing just what I talk about... taking many shots and writing down the settings, then comparing on the computer. I finally get most shots as I intend, and can do tweaking in Gimp or PSE. I use mainly MANUAL on the D80, but use Auto when I just want to shoot in a hurry.

The following are some examples of my efforts at photography: all are SOOC with the exception of the final shot.

1) Auto-iso, washed out sky. Should have been manual set to Iso 100, no auto.

2)Also Auto-iso, 1/100 and f5, but set in manual mode, nice colors, good detail.

3) Dark edges, bright center. If this was the purpose, it is not bad, but I was not happy with the outcome from the camera. So what I saw with my eye, was not conveyed in the picture. Iso was 250, manual mode, 1/200, f5. This might have needed a longer exposure.

4) Iso was 250, manual, exposure of 1/500, f5. I am finally getting the hang of settings, to get the outcome of what I see.

5) Perhaps one of best SOOC shots I have gotten with the D80. Attached was my 70-300 Sigma. I am amazed at the photos I get with this lens. This shot was pure luck however. Detail and colors have not been touched. ISO was 100, and speed 1/400. I do not recall the stop.

Final shots:

a) SOOC, ISO 100, 1/1000, f5

b)Same as above but run thru an HDR filter in GIMP, with level adjustment
I thoroughly enjoyed sharing a bit of myself and my photos on Amy's blog. I hope I did not bore anyone. I look forward to another guest blog in the future.

Jeff K.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Lonely Lavender

Today being Saturday, we are definitely avoiding heavily populated parks. More time to relax by the pool, and then we are going to Capone's for dinner. It's like Medieval Times, but with a 1920's themed environment.

Another random photo today, but check back tomorrow for a guest post!