As I've mentioned probably a dozen times now, I recently purchased Adobe's Lightroom software. I'm still taking babysteps into the application, but I've played around with it a little to some good effect (I think). A few samples are below. First images are originals, seconds are the mods.
Kevin, with Saxophone
So that's a start. Feel free to leave me feedback. These were shot with different cameras (RebelXT and G3, I believe), and none of them in the ultra-flexible RAW format. I'm going to start shooting in RAW from now on, as I've seen that it handles these sorts of digital post-processing much better.
I did something a little ridiculous today. A little irresponsible, a little stupid. But still, more than a little exciting for me.
Some of you may know that I've been into photography for a few years now. I went from a film SLR to a digital point-n-shoot (Canon G3), a Lomo, a smaller point-n-shoot, and eventually up to my Canon Digital SLR (350D, Rebel XT) with a few different lenses.
I had a lot of fun shooting and getting pleasing images (pleasing to me, anyways). But I hit a roadblock, for some reason. Maybe it was moving up to Seattle or getting Zippy or something. I was staying inside more - a bigger problem in itself - and wasn't really producing images that I found to be appealing at all. And when I did manage to take a photo where, for instance, the composition was excellent, I'd be bummed out when, on loading to the bigger screen of the computer, I'd see how blurry it actually was. That happened a lot. So, after awhile, I just didn't grab for my camera anymore.
I've been feeling the excitement again, though. This is always spurred on by something outside of myself. In this case it was watching (on someone's blog) a tutorial of sorts, a walkthrough of Adobe's Lightroom 2 software and some of the advantages of shooting in RAW vs. JPEG.
I'll spare you the geeky details, but things just started to fall into place for me. And I started really looking at photos of other people, identifying what I liked and digging to see what tools were used to create the images. My camera's not amazing, but it's totally more than enough for me. My small lens collection is really quite adequate. I really don't have the kind of expendable dough to go buying "good glass" right now, anyways. That would be silly.
Lightroom 2 was first on my list. I had heard about it, but really didn't understand what it was used for until I actually saw the interface and watched someone use it (that's how I learn best). It would certainly beat the pants off iPhoto for post-processing. Hands down. But it was around $300. So I added that to my mental wishlist and tried to put it out of my mind.
Around the same time, I started to think about external flashes. I didn't know much about external flashes, but I did know that the internal flash on my camera sucked bigtime and was impractical for almost every situation I find myself shooting in. I remembered seeing the Canon Speedlite 430EX mentioned occasionally on Flickr or what have you, and I went and looked at what it might cost. I did a quick look-up on B&H Photo, and they listed it as discontinued. Another search found the Canon Speedlite 430EX II available at a different vendor, at just shy of $300. Again, put it out of my mind.
But then I came across the photos of a fellow Boston Terrier owner (we're in the same Meetup.com group and got our dogs from the same breeder), and I saw the kinds of images I wanted to get of my dog, but just couldn't. Why couldn't I?
Let me add a little side-note about this right here, because I don't want you to get the wrong idea. It is not my intention to acquire a bunch of higher-than-basic consumer-level photo equipment and then spend all my time shooting my dog. That sounds pretty silly. While yes, I will certainly get much enjoyment and practice out of taking photos of him, my main interest is in portraiture. It's my favorite personal style of photography. I love taking portraits of people, animals. But those willing to casually model for me are difficult to find, so I use what's around. Namely, my boyfriend, and my dog. And the dog is easier to cajole.
Back to the fellow BT owner. For one, it looked like she was shooting with an external flash. Also, her photos had coloring that just "popped". And when I noticed a light vignetting around some of her photos, I had a sneaking suspicion - a hunch, really - that she might be using Lightroom. Lastly, the focus and composition of the photos struck me as being from a 50mm lens, a 50mm 1.8, to be specific. Again, a hunch. So I emailed her, complimented her on her photos, and humbly asked about her equipment.
She was using a camera that was a different brand, but comparable to my own. She was, indeed, using the 50mm 1.8 lens. And she was using an external flash comparable to the 430EX II. And she was using Lightroom for post-processing. Ta-da! Adding fuel to the fire, my pretties!
Now my desire for these pricey pieces of equipment was almost overwhelming. But I'm unemployed. But I have a rather large tax refund coming to me. But I'm UNEMPLOYED! But, really, the refund is quite a large sum of money! BUT I'M UNEMPLOYED!! Srsly!!
But then Erik said I should. So I went ahead and did it. I found both items for a really low price, and went for it. I very rarely splurge so irresponsibly like this. I tend to be a saver over a spender. But this unemployment has seriously got me down. It's a really tough job market out there, and if these two purchases will get me outside and excited about something immediately, well, I'll chalk it up as a mental health expense. And besides, it's really a ridiculously-large tax refund. Thanks, first-time home buyer's tax credit!
This year, Erik and I are foregoing the normal trips to our families' places - mainly because we just couldn't get down this year, and we're preparing some Thanksgiving fare on our own. Now, let it be said, I've never cooked anything for Thanksgiving. The closest I've gotten is making some pumpkin pie last year... or even worse, making turkey sandwiches the day-after.
So it's a big thing for me, cooking a Turkey Breast, mashed potatoes, stuffing, candied yams, rolls, some veggies, and pumpkin pie... it's very very intimidating. But I'm going at it full steam. I'm taking a few minutes to relax, rest my feet, and prepare for the scariest aspect of the whole preparation... prepping and roasting the turkey. OMG! I've gotten a lot of tips from friends, and I'm not going to do anything too crazy. Rubbing the bird with butter, Kosher salt, and ground black pepper. Maybe throwing some onions, celery, carrot and lemon in the pan under to add some flavor to the mix. We'll see about that, though.
I'll be checking in here only occasionally, but you'll find updates of the prep and eventual meal (oh geez, will it EVER be done?!?) in this Flickr set.
Taken on Saturday, June 2nd, 2007 at the Santa Barbara Zoo in Santa Barbara, CA with the help of Erik's 75-300 zoom lens. Thanks, Erik!
On Sunday evening, Erik dragged me out of his dorm room and we went for a photo stroll out on the beach just a few minutes' walk from his door. Amazing.
The UCSB campus is really an incredible place. Erik is fortunate enough to have a spacious single dorm room with a window facing a lovely green courtyard and, just beyond, the deep blue Pacific Ocean. I'll admit that I won't miss cramming into an extra-long twin bed with him come June when he finishes his Masters' degree, but I'm gonna really miss the sound of the surf crashing below us in the middle of the night. I very much doubt we'll have that luxury where we're moving.
I found the concept immediately fascinating, and linked to it here on my site just so I wouldn't forget about it. I had to have one of my very own, so I spent far too long on Monday night importing photos into iPhoto, putting together the 98-photo mosaic and attempting the exporting. I was working on my G3 800mHz iBook (with 256mb RAM), so the wait was rather long, and creating the pdf was not easy-coming.
In any case, by Tuesday evening I had a finished product, and I ordered a "life poster" (as Mike refers to it) of my very own making. I was insanely surpised to see that it had shipped the very next morning! I'm anxious to see the hard copy results, but if it's anything like I imagine it is, I'll be trying to find more occassions to give these as gifts.
cousin anna - 2003
Tracey over at Sh1ft.org has put together the May Day Project, which is set for this Saturday (May 10 2003). This is going to be a little tough for me, as I normally spend Saturdays in bed, sleeping, and occassionally waking up long enough to read a little or watch a DVD. This project will (hopefully) encourage me to actually get up and out of the house, to spare you the boring stuff.
Oh, and I also encourage you to go visit Tracey's photoblog, 'cuz it always has something beautiful up.
Thanks to the lovely Heather over at Dooce.com and her equally-lovely husband, Jon, I have managed to learn my very first Photoshop trick! It is her "Lovely Glow Effect" and it has opened my eyes to a whole new world. Above are the results. The original photo is on the left, the effected photo on the right.
The folks over at Lomography.com have come up with yet another great marketing-scheme... the BelOMO Vilia, a camera with a "'Triplet' multi-element glass lens that yields dazzling saturation and excellent sharpness'". Whatever that means.
Am I tempted? Of course! Will I buy? Doubtful. But they're US$85, and you can buy one here. If you do purchase one, I'd be interested in knowing what the results really are.
Today marks my first entry to Theme Thursday. I guess I'm just not feeling very creative today, and since I'm only starting out at this whole photography thing, I don't really have much of a portfolio to pull from, at least not of scanned photos. Anyway, here's the entry. I found that the word "music" looks weird in this photo, like some alien word I haven't seen before. You know that thing, when words look abstract and just... odd? That's happening here for me.
This is my submission photo for this week's Photo Friday topic. It was in the last download of shots from my camera, and the shadowy figure seemed to have some semblance of relevance. Come to think of it, this photo appears riddled with shadows. Well done me! (nyuk nyuk)