Monday, August 30, 2010

Verse of the Week

1st John 4:18
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
Love it!!!

What I have learned so far...

This last week I took pictures at my daycare and also for a family from my daycare.  There are a couple of things I learned...
1. A Half hour is too short for a family portrait.  We got some good photos, and I enjoyed the time, I just wish we could have done more and I think we would have come away with even better photos. It didn't help that the first 10 or 15 minutes the little girl in the family was refusing to smile, even for ice cream....
2. I need to take charge more, I let the family talk me out of taking more photos, I didn't want to push too hard, and I thank them for respecting my time, but I'm learning here, its okay if we run over for a little while.  I didn't get to do some poses that I was hoping to do, and I should have been a little more leader like.
3.  Sometimes it is just hard to get kids to hold still long enough to get a picture of them that doesn't have motion blur.  I took over 1000 pictures last week, and I'd say at least 30% have some sort of motion blur.  I need to either make my shutter faster, or find a way to keep them still long enough to get a picture with out blur.
4. I need to visit some parks and come up with a list of places that I know of that are good for taking pictures.  I haven't spent a lot of time visiting parks around here because I don't have kids, and I have places I like to go (such as Whidbey Island) that aren't places that I would take some one for photos.
5. Photoshop (and Adobe Camera Raw) rocks.  It has taken so many pretty good pictures and turned them into great pictures in my mind.  I'm a little biased, but it has been quite the lifesaver.  Pictures that were underexposed or the white balance off, have been fixed with great results.  Cropping has been great, since I've been taking lots of pictures of kids and they move I wasn't getting too close to them so I knew they would be in the frame.
I think that is enough for now.  More to come later.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Simple Recipe from Nestle Toll House...with a few changes.

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (Sub 1 C. Whole Wheat)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks, 1/2 pound) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated [white] sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 cups (12-ounce package) NESTLE TOLL HOUSE Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels(Never Enough, right? add more)

COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla in large mixer bowl. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition; gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.
BAKE in preheated 375-degree [Fahrenheit] oven for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Model Release Form

I have been working a lot to get ready for school picture day at my work.  Making sure my Photoshop skills are up to snuff, taking lots of pictures of the kids and getting all the small things done.  Making CD covers, order forms, and model release forms.  I will post my model release form on the website here in a few days, feel free to copy the language or whatever.  It seems to me like mostly legal jargon and seems like really harsh language, but one has to be careful in our society I suppose.

Here is a link that I used to find other model releases and used to help me form mine.  Good luck.


Saturday, August 14, 2010

Sunset through the leaves

This is one of my favorite pictures we took while in Maui last year.  With the palm leaves all spread out and the sun setting right through them.  It is SOOC (Straight out of the camera).

Thursday, August 12, 2010

New Camera = Better Pictures

I have read many places that a good camera in a poor photographers hands mine as well be a cheap camera.  That one can take high quality pictures with any old camera. I even saw this video of some guys doing a modeling shoot with an iPhone.  All trying to ram home the thought that the camera doesn't matter as much as the photographer. 
And while that is no doubt true to some degree.  The guys with the iPhone are doing the photo shoot with high end lighting equipment, its not just the phone.  If I had that high end gear, I could make an iPhone do some pretty cool things with a little practice. 
Recently, I upgraded from a large zoom point and shoot to a Canon T1i DSLR.  The difference in the quality of pictures is incredible.  I also own a f/1.8 50mm lens for it and I can shoot indoors at my daycare and take pictures (no flash)of the kids and they turn out without any grain/noise.  It is incredible.  I have been so impressed with the difference the new camera has made in my photography, I still have a lot to learn (like getting the focus right more frequently) but I feel like I have been growing so much because of the new camera. 
If you are on the edge and want to take even better pictures, then a good step is a new camera, I think, not just will it help you take better pictures, but it will push to learn to take better pictures. 

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

5 Tips on Portraits

I get to do photo day at my work (a daycare) and am super excited. I have been reading lots about portraits, and how to take good portraits.  This website has become my favorite resource for photography.  They have articles about taking the portraits, and they have a space for 'critique my shot,' where users can post a shot and have it critiqued.  I love reading the critiques and seeing the pictures.  Here is a short summary of what I have learned (of course, rules are meant to be broken, so these aren't set it stone).
  1. Morning light is good.  Once the sun gets to far up, the light becomes harsh and unpleasant.  Shoot in the shade if possible to keep nice even lighting
  2. Fill the frame.  If I am doing head shots or shoulders and head, fill the frame, however, make sure to get their whole head in the frame, and don't cut them out. 
  3. Clear the background of any objects that will distract from the picture.  It's not one of the first things I would look at, but sometimes a branch or something will appear to 'stick' out from the person, move it or yourself so it isn't in the way.  
  4. Posing, if it bends, bend it.   So elbows, knees should be bent (but each one doing something different. This gives the picture a little more natural look to it.  
  5. Shoot from their level.  If shooting kids, get down at their level, shoot from just above eyes (for women) and just below the eyes (for men).  Also, focus on the eyes, as they are generally what attracts our attention to someones face.  
    I hope to be able to post some examples, I just need to get permission from the parents at work.  I think I am going to wait and see how my school photo day goes (since I am the photographer) and will ask them when we are looking at proofs.  

Monday, August 9, 2010

Why Religion

Religion gives meaning to life - USA Today
This morning I read this article.  I didn't really care to much for it, my faith has some to do with religion, but I don't follow Christianity, I follow Christ, To me my faith is so much more than just a way for my life to have meaning.  What really got me (and normally does) is reading the opinions of people that have read the article at the bottom.  Either a lot of people got up on the wrong side of the bed, or their are a lot of people with something against religion.

As with most things, it is so easy to focus on the negative side of things.  Look at all the wars, and murders and evil done in the name of religion (people with this view are the same people probably complain about wall street greed, which has nothing to do with religion).  But what about all the good?  What about the hospitals, schools, ministries that are out serving good to so many people. Maybe if as a society if we had more grounded morals (not what is good for me is what I am going to do), we would have a better society, but where does that come from if not from religion.  Look at Mother Teresa's life, do I think she served in Calcutta for all those years, because she needed to find some meaning in her life?  She didn't make large strides in improving the life of the people in Calcutta, she didn't do it for that, she didn't do it for the fame.  I would say she served, because there was meaning to her life, she realized how blessed she was to be one of God's children, and wanted to bless others because of that. 

My belief in Christ as savior does more than give meaning to my life, it gives me a direction and a focus. It allows me to not be concerned with just my own well being, but with the well being of those in this life with me.  I don't follow Christ out of fear [of Hell], I follow Christ out of the knowledge of what he has done for me, and what he has opened up for me.

I don't know all the answers, and this may just be a bunch of rambling, but I do know that no one else walking this earth knows all as well.

What I do know is that we as the Church of Christ need to become relevant again, we need to be the hands and feet of Christ so that this world may see by our fruit that we are of Christ.  We need to let our light shine from the hill top, and not hide it.  We need to be the salt again. 

Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.
Gilbert K. Chesterton

August 9th-Bible Verse

Matthew 9:13 "Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners."

What on Earth does this mean?  Am I am man of mercy?  But...but...I want to be the man of steel... 

Seriously though, how do I live a life of mercy?  Christ calls me to forgive those who sin against me, 7x77 times or something like that, I feel like I can do that.  Its not easy, but sometimes my heart gets so hard against those that don't have, the destitute, the poor.  I don't want to give them my money, because I don't think they will spend it well.  I don't want to give them my time, because it might be wasted (in my opinion).  I feel like I try, but get no results.  It is easier to give up then to keep pushing on to the end. 
The kid at work, who after 100 times still doesn't listen, how do I love that child, when I get worked up that they aren't listening (read:: respecting) me. 
How do I love my wife, when she is late (again), do I have mercy or am I upset and let it show, trying to punish her in some childish way. 
How do I love my friends, when I want to hang out with them, but things don't work out.  Do I have mercy and keep trying, or do I give up and look for other friends?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Picture of the Week - August 6th

Earlier this week, Deb and I walked through the little town of Langley, WA. We saw this flower, if anyone knows what it is called, that would be a great help.  I'm not sure, but it was really cool looking so we took a picture.  It isn't an SOOC (straight out of the camera) picture, I just did some auto leveling with Photoshop Elements, mostly it just made the greens darker, and more realistic looking.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Repainting the Mustang

A few years ago, my sister put a small dent in my mustang, and it has had a rust spot on the passenger front tire well ever since.  My dad said he tried finding touch up paint and never could. A while back I found some at, so I bought it.  Today I finally got around to fixing that ugly front fender.  First things first, I had to sand down the rust so that the paint will actually help.  Otherwise the rust will just eat its way through.  then I had to put tape around where I wanted to spray.  Finally I had to spray.  I thought about using a paint brush, but I figured it would leave brush strokes.  So, I used light layers to do the trick, letting each layer dry for a few minutes (as per the spray cans instructions).  After an afternoon, it was done.  You can still see where the two little circles are, but I have a hard time (at least in the light of the garage) seeing the little strip right on the edge. 

Beating the Street

I recently read a book titled, "Beating the Street" by Peter Lynch.  Peter was in charge of the Magellan Fund for Fidelity for 13 years.  I have always been a little curious about the Stock market, and am always looking for ways to make my money work for me.  I felt like reading this book was a great opportunity to gain understanding of picking stocks.
I wanted to share one bit of information that I found particularly interesting.  This comes from page 33 in my edition. 
"If you had invested $1,000 in the S&P 500 index on January 31, 1940 and left it there for 52 years, (1992, which this book was written shortly after) you'd know have $333,793.30 in your account...If you'd added $1,000 every January 31st throughout those same 52 years your $52,000 investment would now be worth $3,554,227.  Finally if you had the courage to add another $1,000 every time the market dropped 10 percent or more (this happened 31 times in 52 years) your $83,000 investment would now be worth 6,295,000."
I find this so fascinating.  I know its not a get rich over night scheme, and if you had put $1,000 dollars in the S&P 500 in 2000, you'd still only have $1,000 or so right now.  It's not for sure and you need to make wise investments (and this book does a great job of explaining how to look for stocks). Its hard to do, and takes time and research (something schools don't teach a lot of), but from the research I have done, it looks well worth it to me to be making investments in my future, even if that means going with out somethings that I really want now.  And I try to pick companies that are invested in things that I feel good about or that I use.  I don't want to pick companies that aren't doing the right thing.  Which makes picking even harder, because some of those companies are very good at making money, but I don't believe in what they are doing or selling, so I choose to pick a different company. 

Monday, August 2, 2010

Small Town Post Office

Today I had the best experience I have ever had at the Post Office.  I walked into the post office on Whidbey Island, and I was the only customer in the post office (1 had just walked out).  I didn't have to wait, the process was smooth and quick.  So much better than any other experience I have had there.  It was so good, I thought I would share it with you. 
But than again, would this post office really need to be where it is or could it be more efficient and merge with another one about 5 miles up the island?  Just the two bits from the business side of me.