Snowy Tree In Black & White

I really need to get off my butt and get some new photos, but I just haven’t had much time. I’m not sure when I will, either, so… there might be a few repeats that I use to see what I can do with all the fun new features in Photoshop.

Switching to black and white isn’t all that hard. Even getting the higher contrast isn’t a big deal. What I like about this one is the fact that it really brings out and highlights all the tiny details. If that was ever a feature or ability in the old version, I never tripped across it.

I didn’t use it here, but this also allows you to to go to the other end and lower the amount of detail to get a much softer look without really blurring out a photo, something I was never able to quite pull off with the old version.

So far, I’m really loving what I’ve found. That said, it does allow a less skilled photographer to end up with a great photo if they know enough to use the software. Not a bad thing exactly, but I wonder if knowing I have the ability to fix a lot more mistakes will lead to me being a bit lazier. I really hope not.

Now I’ve Done It

I finally caved.

I’ve been using an old version of Photoshop. In software terms, it could probably be considered an antique because of how many new versions have come out since my version was released. I had originally bought the suite when I had intended to do graphic design. It had all the programs I wanted to play with, but any Adobe products are expensive as hell. Worth it if you are going to be doing that kind of work.

Years later and I’m not doing graphics work. I have still used many of the products to work on any number of projects over the years, but almost all of them were for fun stuff, not make money stuff, so I’ve never been able to justify upgrading. What I had still worked great and the version of files I was using didn’t matter, so I saw no real need to fork over the cost. Especially since they moved to a subscription model.

With the work I’ve done for Envie! and as into photography as I’ve gotten lately, I’ve been incredibly tempted, but still couldn’t justify how much that stuff costs. Especially because there are 3 different programs in particular that I’d really want, so would be forced to do the entire suite of programs for the full price.

I’m beginning to think that Adobe can read minds now because I got an email offering an incredible discount for a year and I absolutely caved. I now have the latest and greatest products.

I haven’t had a ton of time to play just yet, but the little I’ve seen, especially with Photoshop… I feel like I’ve been trying to create a masterpiece using crayon. It could probably be done, but with a crap ton more talent and work than really necessary. I’m really kind of blown away. I knew it was different to an extent, but not to this extent.

I’m crazy excited to dig in deeper. I haven’t even had a chance to look at the other programs yet. It is going to take me a bit to figure out all the differences and all the fun new things I can do. The photo above was just me messing around trying to learn some of that. Below is the one I posted before so you can see the difference.

Dried Up Maple Leaf
Dried Up Maple Leaf

Brittle Winter Veins

PSA from a whiny, wimpy girl:

Whiny, wimpy girl cannot recommend attempting to repierce your own ears. Especially if you are whiny and wimpy, cannot handle pain (at least in odd areas that aren’t used to feeling pain) and may potentially faint in circumstances like getting your blood drawn.

No. Seriously. Just don’t.

Except, this whiny, wimpy girl is also an idiot and did just that yesterday.

Somehow, at some point, I must have scraped the inside of my earlobe and when I didn’t wear any earrings for an extended period of time, one of my holes closed to the point I couldn’t get an earring in. Over the last several months, after I realized this was an issue, I’ve tried to see if I could manage to get various different earrings in, but was never able to.

Idiot that I am, I really didn’t want to try and go somewhere and spend money to have someone poke that hole back open. I was also pissed that I have all these amazing earrings, many that I’ve made over the years, that I couldn’t wear. With MC’s scholarship ceremony (which was really cool, BTW), the ballet and a whole list of things coming up in the next month or two, I was determined to figure out exactly how closed off it really was.

I grabbed a pair of small studs that I’d be able to leave in for a while. In all my attempts, I’d never gotten the post to go much past the opening. Yesterday, when I tried, I had this immediate “pop” and that sucker was in farther than I’d been able to get it. It didn’t even really hurt much, though there was a little blood, which I was handling decently at the moment. I thought “Awesome! This is going to be easier than I thought!”

There was still some resistance past that point, so I pulled the earring back out, cleaned it up really well, coated it in alcohol and tried again. It would NOT go any farther. I twisted my earlobe to see what the backside was looking like and I could see that there really only was a small layer of skin to get through. No big deal right?

So wrong!

Did I mention I’m a whiny, wimpy baby when it comes to certain pains? And yes, I have been known to pass out getting my blood drawn.

I was now feeling a bit lightheaded after that little bit of blood and the longer it took to finish, the more my stupid brain focused on it and the worse I got. It didn’t help one bit that this tiny piece of skin was stubborn and I think holds about 95% of my entire body’s nerve endings, every single one of them telling my brain “This shit hurts!”

I’m in the bathroom off my kitchen having decided that right before the kids get home was the perfect time to do this. The pain and queasiness got so bad, I felt like I was either going to throw up or pass out, so I had to lay down on the floor. I’m laying there and imagining MC walking in from school and freaking out to find his mom half in and half out of the bathroom on the floor like an unmoving blob, so I forced myself to get back up not wanting to scar the kid for life.

Nothing I did got that paper thin layer to break. Each time I took the earring out to clean it and reposition it, I got queasier. My brain convincing me that breaking through that skin was going to create a gush of blood. I did get a little smarter at that point and started using some ice on the lobe to numb it up, but that only dulled it down a little.

The earring wasn’t doing the trick with a dull post end, so I got a pin and did the same thing. Cue even more pain. And still no break through. I resorted to putting pencil eraser against the back of my earlobe hoping to give it some leverage. This between breaks of me sitting on the toilet lid with my head between my legs trying to get the room to quit spinning while yelling at myself in my head for being an idiot of extreme proportions.

But apparently that didn’t help. I was still a frickin’ idiot. A stubborn and determined one because I WAS going to get to wear my earrings again, dammit! After more ice, a really numb earlobe, MC getting home and laughing is butt off at me then hightailing it to his room so he doesn’t have to see his mother lose her lunch, I manage to get the tip of the pin to finally break through. Yes!

Uh, okay. Nope. The skin is now broken, but it refuses to open up enough to let the post of the earring through. This starts another round of fighting off passing out or puking.

More ice, more wimpiness and lots of whiny whimpering later, I finally manage to get that damn earring all the way through, shockingly, with no more blood. So yes, I did what I set out to do, but damn! That was such a bad idea. I’m so lucky I didn’t actually pass out and crack my head open on the toilet.

It wasn’t until it was all over and I was still fighting of feeling queasy hours later that I realized that part of why it was so frickin’ hard to break through that layer of skin is because it was probably a thin layer of scar tissue.

So, no. I really, REALLY don’t recommend this method. Just go somewhere and have a professional do it. It is over in seconds, not nearly an hour. And if it hurts, you can blame their technique and not your own personal idiocy. But hey! I can now wear all those amazing earrings I have sitting around collecting some tarnish.

 

 

Painting The Mood

Of all the “accidents” I managed, this one is has a different kind of interest for me as it almost has a painting like look to it. There are so many times I’ll look at the sky, especially a sunset, and it looks like it has been painted there. I think this is one of the only times I’ve ever managed to flip that on it’s head and get a photo that looks like a painting of the sky.

Continuing The Theme

Here is another moody one from the series of photos I got “accidentally”. It fits my mood at the moment. Can you believe that my cough is actually worse after having gone to the doctor? And not in that “it sometimes gets worse before it gets better” kind of way, either. For this reason alone, I’m ready for spring and warmer temps. This crap is… well… crap.

Cool Mistake

I’ve mentioned before that some of the coolest things I’ve ever created started as a mistake. This may be one of them.

I took this while we were driving the other day. The sun was doing this peekaboo thing from behind the clouds, but there was still a sort of thin layer in front, so it was being filtered, creating this amazing effect. I attempted to get a shot of it, but it was still too bright and blew out my shot.

Because I was in a moving car, I had to adjust quickly or miss the shot. In going that fast, I pushed the levels just a bit too far to the dark end of the scale, but the results are amazing. It really wasn’t that dark, but I love how much of an eerie feel these photos ended up with. Especially with the stark, black silhouette of the trees.

I have another one or two I’ll share over the next couple of days.

Last Of The Snow?

It is still way too early to tell. As of right now, we don’t have any more in the forecast. It is one of the reasons why I hauled MC out yesterday afternoon to try and get a few more photos for his senior pictures because he was adamant he wanted some done in the snow (because that is SO him, the gamer guy that rarely leaves his lair to venture into nature).

We’d had a beautiful, if cold, perfectly clear sky, sunny day. All day. I’d been watching the light trying to figure out the best time to try and get my shots. Just as we walked out the door, clouds came rushing in from the west and killed the light. Of course it did!

I still managed to get a few good ones, but I need to do some editing on them as they aren’t quite good enough. MC said he wants to do some with a range of backgrounds like sunset or even in the spring when the flowers are in bloom. I actually think it is a brilliant idea as I’ll have been taking pictures of him all throughout his senior year. Talk about putting together a true senior portrait package!

They won’t look all perfect and professional, because doing portraits is so not my thing. But… I have several that are really good already. I’m going to have a hell of a time trying to decide which one(s) I’m going to want to print to hang on the wall. I may have to come up with something really creative and do something like a large collage with all of them. I don’t know yet, but something.

On a side note, I’ll be editing my private post with the most current update on that situation for those that chimed in.

Frozen Bubbles!

I did it! I braved the horrid cold and managed to get several amazing shots yesterday. It took a little while as the area I set up in still wasn’t entirely protected by the wind and they broke easily. I felt a bit like a circus monkey in the process.

Blow a bubble, set down the bubble stuff, drop to my camera and attempt to focus only to not be able to find the bubble in my viewfinder because it had already broken. Pop up, rinse and repeat over and over. I did my best to keep them in mostly the same location, but I still needed to refocus on every single one and that sometimes took longer than the bubble could last.

Broken Soap Bubble
Broken Soap Bubble

I got nearly as many broken bubbles as I got whole ones. I almost love the broken ones the most because the way they collapse or break adds so much character and interest.

Frozen Soap Bubble
Frozen Soap Bubble

There are so many things I love about doing these. One is that they are very much like snowflakes in that each one freezes a little differently and creates different feathery, snowflake like patters across the surface.

Frozen Soap Bubble
Frozen Soap Bubble

It is amazing to watch the process of those patterns forming as the bubble freezes.

Broken Frozen Soap Bubble
Broken Frozen Soap Bubble

I had done a little research to see if there was something I could do to make my bubbles stronger. Found that using glycerine is supposed to help and I think it does some. Sadly, it also looks like adding that makes these so much harder to freeze. Of course, it took me about 15 bubbles before I realized these weren’t freezing the same as the ones I did last year, so I had to run back in and remake my bubble solution before I could get any decent photos.

Frozen Soap Bubble
Frozen Soap Bubble
Collapsing Frozen Soap Bubble
Collapsing Frozen Soap Bubble
Frozen Soap Bubble
Frozen Soap Bubble
Collapsing Frozen Soap Bubble
Collapsing Frozen Soap Bubble
Soap Bubble Just Starting To Freeze
Soap Bubble Just Starting To Freeze

Sunset Geese

It is bitterly cold today. Funny, it is also sunny for the first time in a while. The cold and the bit of snow we got late yesterday caused school to cancel today. The timing is such that it gives my kids a 5 day weekend because there were in service days planned for tomorrow and Monday.

I would say that with the sun, it is a perfect day to get out and get pictures, but we are looking at low single digit temps and sub-zero wind chills (the biggest reason why schools closed). I really don’t like the snow enough to freeze bits of myself right off my body, so I’m just going to sit here in my chair and enjoy the snow on the ground against a sunny, blue sky day through the window while enjoying a nice hot cup of coffee, burrowed under my blankets.

If there wasn’t a breeze, I’d risk it to go play with bubbles, but not only is that wind COLD, it makes it impossible to do bubbles. Almost always seems to work that way. Finally get temps low enough and sun, but it always comes with that wind.

A Pretty Kind of Snow

We are getting another snow. Thankfully, this is one of the pretty ones that is wet and sticky and coats everything it touches. I am hoping that it stays that step or two above freezing until everyone is home safe, though. As of right now, the roads are the only thing the snow isn’t coating.

I think it is supposed to snow even more later, so I hope I get a chance to get out and take pictures tomorrow. I’m not moving today. I always forget how much of a work out it is to kneed fondant and you have to do a ton of that to work in the color. I need to remember to maybe try and add color while I’m mixing the batch in the mixer so I can save my arms and chest. That is so much easier than actually working out those muscles so I don’ fee like an out of shape noodle every time I work with fondant.

Maybe if I go lay in the snow, everything will quit hurting. I may be numb and get frostbite, but at least I won’t hurt!

Snow & Ice

I am hopefully wrapping up my work on a graphics project sometime today and will have the amazing finished project to share soon. I’m really excited about what I’ve been working on and that I got the chance to do it.

I had honestly thought that things wouldn’t really start getting crazy around here until at least next month, but things have popped up and seem to be just cramming themselves into my schedule. I’m going to be a giddy mess in a few weeks if things work out because I’ll get to take BG to see Swan Lake performed. I have never seen it and thought it would be a perfect time since their pointe performance this year is to one of the songs from Swan Lake. I’m just waiting on confirmation from her dance friend’s mom that they are going with us.

I also have MC’s scholarship awards ceremony coming up in a few weeks. I’ve shuffled things and made arrangements so I actually get to go. There was a conflict with dance, but our dance friend will be taking BG to class for me that night so I can see MC being rewarded for all of his hard work and determination.

I may complain left and right about feeling like crap with this stupid cough, but… when I stop and look at all that is going on and what my kids are doing, the amazing guy I pulled on all the lucky stars to get, I’m one seriously happy girl and I’m surrounded by some incredible people that keep the joy flowing all around.

Epicness And F-Bombs

It isn’t always clear on here, but I tend to be a huge potty mouth. Granted, I’m also a courteous and polite potty mouth and I don’t cuss around people I don’t know or aren’t certain they are okay with cussing and is why I tend to keep it mostly clean on here. I also don’t cuss at people unless they are idiot drivers and even then, they aren’t the ones to hear it.

I do cuss around my kids and they know my rules around it. I’d be fine with them cussing as long as it followed those rules, but they think it is funny to NOT cuss. At least around Hubby and I. We know they do it. They know we know, but they still won’t cuss in front of us. It has become something of a game for them. And yes, we all have a twisted sense of humor that not everyone can appreciate.

Yesterday, MC gets home from school and tells me he nearly got into a head on collision with a bus in the neighborhood. It was in an area where there is kind of a blind curve, at least when you have several large pickup trucks parked in the street. MC was on his side of the road and didn’t see the bus (who was driving WAY too fast for a residential area) and lucked the hell out in that they came up on each other when MC was right in front of a small cul-de-sac and was able to swerve. Otherwise, it would have been one hell of an ugly wreck.

He was obviously a little shaken up, but okay. We talked about it a bit and went on with our afternoon. While I was at dance, Hubby sends me a picture of how close he came, reminding me that we have a dash cam in the car that MC drives. It was kind of freaky to see how bad it could have been in that shot.

When I get home, Hubby is all excited (weirdly) and all “You’ve got to see this!” He shows me the video and I can see exactly what happened, which is even more disturbing, but also kind of shocking at how smooth MC handled the whole thing. I’m still not understanding Hubby’s attitude. Then he’s “now you have to HEAR it.” Apparently our dash cam also records sound. We did not know this.

He turns the sound back on and replays the video, but it is silent. I’m giving him the eye and he just tells me to listen. I see the bus come along, deep into MC’s lane to avoid the trucks and what look like several workmen that were near the trucks. I see MC swerve into the cul-de-sac to avoid the bus and keep going. All still silent. I’m seriously impressed at how cool MC is through the whole event.

Again, I give another side eye to hubby. Then, about two houses after MC passed the bus, you start hearing sound.

He is about a block away from home and he just lets go in these epic bursts. What puts the icing on it is that he has somehow developed this deep, country drawl in his voice that I’ve NEVER heard from him before (he is now blaming his girl, saying that he must have picked it up from her after talking to her so much). It is so much and so different, I almost don’t even recognize it is MC talking.

The first burst is a little mild, then it gets quiet again. I think we are done. Nope. Another couple of houses and we get another burst that is a little longer and a little more colorful before it gets quiet again. Again, I think he is done as it is quiet until he pulls into the driveway.

That is when he lets it ALL come out. All the best, most colorful words are flying from my kid’s mouth. It is this over the top, epic curse fest rant at the bus, the trucks and the guys around the trucks. Hubby, BG, MC and I are all laughing so hard we can hardly breathe. I think we listened to it half a dozen times before we had enough.

His reaction to the whole thing has now given us material that we will never let him live down. “Fucking lumberjacks” said in a deep country drawl will live on for all eternity here and will come back to haunt him over and over again.

It may make me a bad parent, but I was beaming proud of my kid in his amazingly creative use of the F-bomb. I’m also crazy impressed with how ridiculously calm he was during the actual encounter. If I’d been in the driver’s seat, the dash cam would have had a boat load more F-bombs and then some from the very first sight of that bus and there might have been a bit of a wet spot on the seat.

In all seriousness, I’m just thrilled to death that this is something we can laugh about and it all turned out okay.

*The photo is an old one and has nothing at all to do with this post. I just liked it and felt like posting it. We haven’t seen that much snow on the ground here for several years.

 

Powdered Sugar Tree

Okay, so not really powdered sugar, but it reminds me of what it looks like if you dusted something with powdered sugar. Can you tell my brain is shifting into cake mode?

BG’s birthday is coming up soon. My girl will be 16! Ugh! Another driver and way too soon and not soon enough. Anyway… since she is the only one that lets me make an actual cake anymore, I spend a lot of time trying to come up with a great idea that she will love and I get to play the way I want.

For a little while, I thought I’d do another costume inspired cake since her point costume this year is a really simple, but elegant white with black accents (they are doing a piece from swan lake). I didn’t want to do a full out costume, just a small layered cake that mimicked the black applique from the costume. When I mentioned this idea, she didn’t seem thrilled as I’ve done a couple of ballet costume cakes now.

I went back to brainstorming and I came up with an idea that, if I can pull it off (which is always a question), she is going to absolutely squeal over. When I told her I had an idea that she would love and asked if she trusted me to just make it without her actually knowing what I had planed, she gave me the go ahead. I love that she has no clue what I’m going to do and it will be a surprise for a change.

I won’t say specifically what I’m going to do yet in case she decides to get nosy and drop by here, but I’m so excited about working on this. I won’t really be doing anything new as far as basic design or technique really, but it is also unlike anything I’ve done so far from a finished project standpoint. I’d say the chances of it turning out like I imagine are on the high side.

I still have a little over 2 weeks to get the design planned out and I need to find a few reference photos to help with some details, but I’m so excited and can’t wait to work on this.