Monday, March 30, 2015

Look Who's Talking: 17 Months Old!

Forest is 17 months old and pretty soon he’ll be able to write these little guest posts himself. Baby boy is blurting out new words all the time and has even started stringing simple phrases together (Bye Bye Doggie, No cup, Hi Daddy, etc). I have a feeling it won’t be long until he can tell us exactly what his likes and dislikes are, but for now I am still doing my best to translate his toddler jibberish into adult language. He’s very patient (for the most part) with my lack of fluency in jibber-jabber. Anyhoos, I’ll pass him the mic. Here he is to tell you in his own words (with my translation) about his current inerests. 
Hiya folks! 17 months is a pretty big age. I feel like I only have one more month to milk this baby thing until I cross the threshold into full on toddler-hood. Being a toddler certainly has it’s perks but being a baby has it’s nice points as well. I kind of like being a hybrid for the time being. But here are some things I definitely don’t like: 

1) Teething. Are you kidding me with this? Just when I let my guard down and start being mellow, happy, and taking good long naps, my two year molars decide to crash the party. Maybe they didn’t get the memo that these teeth are for 2 year olds, not 1.33 year olds. Sheesh! 

2) Teething makes me dislike pretty much everything so it’s hard to say what things are really rotten and which things just seem terrible from the teething lens through which I am currently viewing the world. I better just skip the dislikes for now and lump them all together under ‘teething’. 

Even through the painful haze of teething, these are the things I still love, so you know they are really good. 
1) Swim class. 
My daddy and I finally convinced my mom that I’m much more likely to be the next Michael Phelps than the next Mozart so this Spring we’ve traded my music class for swim lessons and I couldn’t be happier. The first day the instructor was all, ‘do you think he’d be comfortable getting water in his face?’ (p.s. dontcha hate when adults talk about you like you aren’t even there). Anyway I showed her my ‘comfort’ level by diving head first right on into the pool and laughing maniacally after my mom pulled me out. Am I comfortable getting water in my face? You be the judge:

2) Baby Einstein. 

Look, I know it may seem infantile but the Baby Einstein puppets crack me up. I especially love on Baby Wordsworth when the cat puppet makes the bed. I mean that’s just good quality comedy. And on Baby Neptune when the Octopus puppet kicks the soccer ball? HILARIOUS. 

3) My toy lawn mower. 

Just when I thought pushing things couldn’t get any more awesome, my grandparents send me this contraption which when you push it, it also makes bubbles. 
 4) Bubbles. 
The downside of  the bubble making lawn mower is I am torn between my love of pushing and my love of chasing down bubbles. 
When my mom blows bubbles in the backyard I insistently sign ‘more! More!’ so she’ll keep ‘em coming. The other day at the gym daycare, my mom came to pick me up and rather than hanging out with all the other toddlers, I was standing mesmerized in front of the bubble machine. It was quite hypnotizing and I sort of wanted to tell my mom to go for another steam so that I could keep on watching. I think my mom was pretty impressed by my willingness to stand still so I overheard her tell my daddy that she may get a bubble machine for the house. Fingers crossed. 

5) Samson. 
This is nothing new but I sure do love that little guy. I show him my devotion everyday by laying on the sweet hugs and being in charge of treat-giving when we have to leave him home for an outing. 
Every once in a while I get a little too exhuberant and overzealous in my love for him and have to be reminded to hug and pet him softly but for the most part I can tell Samson loves me too. 

6) Running. 
My parents knew when they named me 'Forest' that I’d have to deal with a few ‘run, Forrest, Run jokes’ in my lifetime but I don’t think they had any idea how relevant that mantra would be for me. 

Last month I learned to pick my knees up when I run and from that day on, if I was going somewhere, I was running. 
Alright guys, that’s me. Next month I will be the big 1-8. Can’t wait to tell you all about it. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Editing Fun

Baby boy finally took a decent nap while the hubs was home, so Jon was able to walk me through exactly how to upload photoshop actions in my Photoshop program. Actions in Photoshop are kind of like really technical instagram filters and make fancy-pants editing much simpler. I found the motherload of free templates (asks for voluntary donations) on The Coffee Shop Blog and have been having a good time just playing around with some of her actions.  This is an exhaustive list of all off the available actions which link specific tutorials for each one. Here are a few of my practice edits from the weekend. 

I like this shot because it's prettty sharp but also quite monochromatic. It was shot in my parents' neighborhood, just walking around and exploring. Here is the original:
 And here are some edited with actions downloaded from The Coffee Shop Blog.

Downtown Action, inspired by Instagram's Early Bird filter.

Robin's Egg Blue

Here is a more recent shot that I took of Forest just playing around in the backyard. It offers a bit more color and texture so you can really see the different effects of the editing actions. This is the original straight off of the camera:
 And these are some edits:

Butter Cream Luxe

Downtown. My fave for this shot I think:)

Robin's Egg Blue
I am having so much fun playing around with these edits.  I feel like these actions really help to polish up my shots and give them a more professional feel. Poor Forest is already fed up with the whole 'momarazzi' thing I have going on though. It takes a lot of coaxing to get him to face towards the camera and usually when I bring it out, he says a firm' no!' before abruptly turning his back to me. Sigh... Why didn't I figure out this whole photography thing before he could walk and talk? I'll just have to have another baby just so that I can have an immobile subject to photograph. Haha, just kidding Jonathan;) 

Here are just a few more.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Finishing the 31 Day Photo Challenge

I've finally finished the 31 day photo challenge, and it only took me 78 days! Ha! I blame camera troubles, but
after many trouble shooting attempts, I finally figured out why my camera’s autofocus wasn’t working….Because I had turned it off. I guess when I first started practicing in manual mode I had switched the focus to manual vs auto and I am just not near good enough to be shooting in that mode right now, especially when my main subject is a constantly moving target and there is simply not enough time to constantly shift the focus on my camera based on his permanently changing position. When I finally realized the simple fix to my problem, I was so glad I hadn't taken it to the shop to get fixed. That would have been mega-embarassing! I hope to be able to shoot in manual focus mode soon, and I've read that this will actually make my photos sharper ones I learn to do it accurately but for now I am just not at that level. Baby/Toddler steps.

Once my camera started doing the focusing-job for me, I started being able to get consistently sharp pictures once again. After that I sped through the remainder of the 31 day photo challenge on My 3 boybarians.  Y’all, this is the absolute best resource for starting photographers. It  was like ‘How to Use your DSLR for dummies’. The last few days focus mostly on photoshop/editing but one really helpful post for what I’m particularly struggling with was 12 steps to a sharper photo. 

There are various elements that go into how sharp a photo looks, from the lighting and shutter speed to how steady you’re holding the camera. Jonathan observed that I tend to slightly flinch when I snap a picture so I’ve been really focusing on holding my hands steady throughout the shooting process. I think it’s definitely been helping. 

I also always thought that the more open the aperature = the sharper the picture but now I know that this simply isn’t true. Each lens has its sweet spot when it comes to aperture so I’ve been trying to learn that. And also, there is a reason that my fixed lens (50 mm) always takes sharper photos than my adjustable lenses. Still, with a toddler sometimes it’s just better to trade a little sharpness for versatility in focal length. But when I’m taking his monthly photos or trying to capture a certain milestone, I will always try to shoot with my 50 mm because the pictures just blow my other lenses away. 

Anyhoos, I'm just super glad that I found this series. She also published a more in depth series called 31 days of photo tips that she describes as being more geared towards intermediate level photography. I plan on moving on to that shortly, but first will spend a good bit of time working on my editing skills and become better versed in photoshop. Here are a couple of my latest shots. 

For comparison, this is where I started from 31 76 days ago:

 Here are some of my favorite shots from the learning process:

A few of the more important things I've learned are: 
1) Take the picture. Bring your camera everywhere. Every picture you shoot won't be a winner but the more you shoot, the better you become and you just never know when the magic shot will happen. 

2) When shooting toddlers, a quick shutter speed is the most important thing so adjust your other settings accordingly. 
3) Forest looks really cute in red. 
The biggest things I need to work on are: 
1) Taking sharper photos. 
2)Learning to catch light. 
3) Manually focusing to better capture what I'm trying to convey. 
4) How to entice a toddler to stand still/face the camera.
The good news is that I feel like I finally do have a basic understanding of the fundamentals of photography. As I continue to improve those skills, I hope to maybe work on some more advanced (or at least intermediate) techniques. I hope that you can see an improvement in my photography!