Thursday, December 30, 2010

Study or Practice?

I've been reading a lot and watching lots of videos to improve my Photoshop and Lightroom skills. Last night, I popped open Lightroom and put that study into practice.

OMG! I had fun. I'd picked out a set of pictures from the cruise that I wanted to work with. When I was done, I created a slide show.

Next, I want to try a bit of digital scrapping with CS5. I hit Lorie Davison's Christmas sale (it was only two days) and I've got two new kits to play with.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Leaps and Bounds

I've had books on Photoshop and Layers and photography all over the house for a while now. Sometimes I read sections of the books, but I don't start at the beginning and work my way all the way through. That's not my learning style.

Even with the videos on Kelby Training, I'm not working my way through them one section at a time. I'll skip some sections and play others several times.

It's working. I'm putting an amazing amount of information into my brain about settings inside Photoshop and Lightroom. Many of the things that used to give me trouble are now things that I understand. The building blocks are getting larger and I'm putting more and more of them together to work with images.

It feels really good.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Adjustment Layers

I'd always had a difficult time with adjustment layers. I'd watch tutorials on using them and the teachers would spend so much time on working with the layer, that I never captured how to create an adjustment layer. I decided they were 'difficult' and I worked around them. I knew that someday, I was gong to have to learn to use and create them, but that was always for later, not now.

CS5 has made creating an adjustment layer so simple that I decided it was now later, and time for me to learn adjustment layers. I pulled out my reference book and started reading where I'd left off.

One of the problems I always had was that I'd create an adjustment layer, then try to make a selection. It can be done, but it's much easier to make a selection and then add an adjustment layer. This would be one of the reasons that I like Matt Kloskowski as an instructor. He spells things out in simple sentences, or he demonstrates things clearly.

Why did I decide to really learn adjustment layers? Because Dave Cross was demonstrating something that he called 'simple' and it involved many layers, groups, smart objects, and filters. I've watched the video in several sections, breaking down the steps and it is far from simple. I'm sure it will be possible for me to understand what he's doing eventually, but I've got to understand each of the steps before I can put them together.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Bud took this one. It's extremely different from what he would have taken before he started using my camera.

First Image!

I knew what I wanted to do with this photo. My struggle was getting my new software to do what I wanted. I didn't do things the easy way, but I got them done. I learn best when there is a task to complete, rather than learning isolated steps and put them together into a process later. Part of my trouble was that I couldn't remember keyboard shortcuts. I'd gotten frustrated with CS3 and had stopped using it at the beginning of the year. If I don't use keyboard shortcuts regularly, they drift out of my head.

My husband used to look at me funny when I'd stop to take a photo of something like this. After he saw the results a few times, he is now much more patient. He's also getting an eye of his own and the pictures that he takes look different than they used to.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Lightroom 3

This application makes Bridge look horribly poorly designed. And Bridge isn't really that bad. But Lightroom is that good. I've been importing my photos into Lightroom, one year at a time. One year is a manageable chunk. I can get everything imported, get it sorted into collections and then I can run a backup of what I've gotten imported so far.

Lightroom does not substitute for Photoshop. In fact, to do some things, you move into and out of Lightroom and Photoshop.

The learning curve isn't quite as steep as it would be if I didn't already have some skill with Photoshop. But it isn't a cakewalk, either.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Post Processing Photos

Post processing is what is done to a digital photo in an application like Photoshop, after the picture has been taken. If it's too dark, crooked, has funky colors because of the light, has problems because of the lens used and so on, that's corrected in post processing.

I've been watching videos on Kelby Training on how to use Photoshop CS5 and Lightroom 3 to post process photos. I can do many of the same things in Lightroom and Photoshop Camera raw. Lightroom is designed to manage photos in groups better and it is designed to be nondestructive to originals. I would have to work very hard to make permanent edits to the original file using Lightroom. CS5 does a whole lot of things beyond what Lightroom does.

One of the things that I've learned is that most people do the same things to post process a photo. RAW photos have more options than .jpgs. Even if I'm using Camera RAW to post process a .jpg, I won't have those options. I watched one instructor go through his process in Photoshop, then watched a different one go through it in Lightroom. Their explanations for why were slightly different, but only in the word choice. The base reason was the same. The Lightroom class was designed to go into much greater detail.

I had been a bit concerned that I'd have a huge learning curve for Lightroom 3. Since I've discovered the similarities between CS5 and LR3, I'm not concerned. I'll be functional in no time flat.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Better Prices

Drat! I was gently alerted to a much better price for Lightroom than I'd paid. I did some comparison shopping. I will be returning the software that I just ordered and am getting it for less. This is not some piddling amount I'm saving, it's $140. That's the problem with only tracking a single source. There might be a sale, but it doesn't mean I am getting the best price.

I'm feeling a little smug, because I got an even lower price than the person who alerted me to the low price they paid. I'm still very happy with the sale on the Kelby Training, though.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Preparing for new Toys!

I have finally ordered Photoshop CS5 and Lightroom 3. They were on sale. I had enough left to get (also on sale) a year of Kelby Training. Also something I'd wanted for a while. Kelby Training is a mix of pro and consumer level education. That's exactly where I am. I'm a 'prosumer' in photography terms.

While I am waiting for my new software to arrive, (I ordered the CD versions) I'm watching videos from Kelby Training on how to set it up and use it. The level of instruction is perfect for me. There's a lot of 'where' and 'when' included and a little bit of 'why' but not much 'how' because I don't really need 'how'. I watch for a bit, go do something else and let the information perk through my brain, then go back and watch more. Sometimes I re-watch parts that I think will be important.

The learning curves for Photoshop and Lightroom are steep, but I've already done a lot of the work to learn CS3 and I've been watching videos on CS5 since it was announced. I'm excited about CS5. I am really looking forward to playing with the improved selection tools and with content aware fill. Wheee!!!

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Creative Mind

I spotted this in a Martha Stewart magazine and decided to use up some of my stash of black paper. Everyone who has seen it thinks it turned out pretty well. It makes me smile when I walk up the stairs. I'll store the infestation of rats to use next year, too.

I was talking to my husband about this. He thinks it's incredible how I come up with ideas. I don't come up with ideas. I got this out of a magazine. But he said that he would not look at a magazine and see a possibility that he could do that. He'd look at it and think that it was neat, but he wouldn't think that it was something that could be done by him or in his house. His brain just doesn't work that way.

I've been mulling this over. Is it Nature, or nurture? I think in my case, it is nurture. My parents had several books of activities for kids. We were free to look through and pick out things to do. We were rewarded with parental praise, participation and assistance when we did. I created a forest out of newspaper in our basement once. The trees became all sorts of settings for imaginary play until I tired of them and recycled the newspaper. My mother recited, "Woodsman spare that tree..." with great drama and bad acting as I 'chopped down' the forest.

How can I not enjoy looking at idea books and attempting to create things after a childhood filled with memories like that? I still enjoy the rewards of my creations. I don't need to come up with the ideas, I'm fine with following directions.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Creating, Darkly

I finally sat down to work with the last set of 'Greetings to Go' that I got from Club Scrap back in 2008. I love the colors of the kit, Cyprus, as it is blues, with some white and gray. The inks that are suggested for use with this kit are kind of grungy. Mushroom, Slate, London Fog, and Sepia.

I'm not happy with the cards I've made so far, because they don't feel like me. They are dark, grungy, and a bit depressing. I'll keep them, but I'm going to try to perk up the rest of the set. My usual style is much bolder and more cheerful. I think silver embossing powder will work with this paper and it won't be dark and grungy.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Paper and Digital Samples

I get several different e-zines for digital scrapping and I've found some on-line sources for sketches for paper scrapping. So, I'm regularly looking at both paper and digital samples and ideas.

Digital isn't looking so good right now. While I'm willing to admit that paper layouts can overwhelm the photos if too many embellishments are used, the trends in digital towards the white space layouts and the extraction layouts are not calling attention to the photo, but are instead calling attention to the digital manipulation skills of the scrapper.

There are times I like to follow trends. Right now, the trends in digital scrapping are not appealing to me.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Doodley Squat

I've gotten doodley squat done as far as digital scrapping this year. I got a few layouts done in February. There's one from May, one from March. Wow.

Whassup? I don't have a lot of pictures from the move out of Virginia that I want to do anything with and I didn't take a lot of pictures during the move in to Florida and the unpacking. There were a few things that I should have taken pictures of, but I didn't. Lack of pictures is not an excuse.

Lack of time is no excuse. I have plenty of time.

Lack of kits to work with? Hah! I can't even think of trying that. I have plenty of neatly organized kits on my EHD.

I haven't been totally idle. I've created 'we've moved' cards, I finished a mini-book and I've done a lot of pages on the photo carousel. But digital layouts? Not so much.

Friday, August 27, 2010

I Should Know Better

Every so often I forget that the average forum reader has very little expertise. They are capable and competent people, but they aren't subject matter experts. When I post a question on a forum, I'm usually asking something that the average person can't answer. I'm looking for information from a SME. There are a few SMEs on forums. A very few. Often, they are so tired of always answering questions that they don't bother any more.

I asked a question on a forum recently. The answers I got ignored the icon I use, which is a D300, and gave me some simple photography tips. And I do mean simple. I responded via PM. And I only PM when I'm pissed.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


I've created a few custom garments, making patterns from a set of measurements and a roll of brown craft paper. One of my favorites would be this dress.

It's actually an under dress and the over dress, but the two together were a lot of fun. Unfortunately, I made the under dress before I started an aggressive fitness program and I developed so much muscle that it never fit again and I had to get rid of it. I couldn't put my arms into the sleeves.

There was also a set of dresses made from this pattern.
There aren't any pictures of me in it full length that I have ever seen. But it is based on a 13th century garment, and I added a side lacing, because I was not the shape of those 13th century women. They were much more solid than I will ever be. To make the garment small enough, I just gathered it at the sides with lacing. Unlaced, it was a pullover. Laced, it would never pull over my shoulders. But the skirt swirled beautifully and the belts I wore with it were so flattering. I miss those dresses.

None of my custom dresses fit the new shape I built through diet and exercise and they went the way of the recycle bin. The old me was so small, through both frame and muscle that there was no way I could even hand my old clothing down to a child.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


If I'm not inspired to create, I can't create. I can encourage myself to create by looking at things that make me happy. I've been looking through some of my old scrapbooks. Wow.

I have photographs of things that really are pretty neat. I've got a set of shots from Hong Kong that I almost don't remember taking. It was back in 1989, about the time I got married for the first time. We had originally planned to marry in Hong Kong, but there was a paperwork snafu and we ended up getting married in Tokyo. And there are a few fun shots of Tokyo, too.

Do I want to go back there? Possibly. But before I start going back to places, there are a lot of new places I haven't yet seen. Once I've checked off the entire list, I'll start going through the list again.

Lists aside, I've been reminded that I can take a decent photograph now and then. I have a few winners that I'm proud of. I had been thinking of trying to create something that would be portfolio like. I have not got enough to fill a portfolio, but I do at least have a start.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Beginner Programs?

People frequently ask about beginner applications for something. It's not an easy question to answer.

My answer would be to tell the person asking about what application to get to think about how they use a computer. Do they have something out-of-the-box from the store and use it as it came? Or do they have a machine that they have loaded many different applications on?

I'm an application loader. That's why I own a computer. I want to use the applications I've loaded to do specific things. I've set up my computer the way I like, which is not the way it came out of the box. I don't ever want a beginner application. I'll outgrow it quickly and be annoyed at having wasted money on something that must now be removed and replaced with something else.

My husband is an out of the box person. For the most part, his computer is still set up the way it come out of the box. He's happy with beginner applications, if he even has them at all.

If you fall between the two types, and even if you can see yourself clearly as one or the other, you have to make your own decision. I'm not going to tell you how to spend your money.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Digital Ink

I'm trying out a different nib for my Intuos 4 tablet. I'd been using the standard nib and now I'm using the flex nib. It's supposed to have a 'stickier' feel to it. I haven't noticed that it is higher friction, but I have noticed that the tap of a click action feels more like tapping a tennis ball, compared to the tap of a ball point on paper of the standard nib. No nib is going to feel like one of my fountain pens, though. Drat.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Digital Journaling

I don't do much. I want to do more, but I don't like the fonts that I've got. I knew I didn't do a lot of digital journaling, but it was brought home to me when I looked at sample pages for a weight loss kit. I didn't buy the kit, but it struck me clearly that I wasn't writing anything much on my digital pages.

I have been working in paper a bit recently and I realized that I journal a lot more on paper than I do in pixels. I need to find a 'favorite font' for digiscrapping and then I'll probably do more.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Photo Carousel Order!

I just realized why I keep getting lost as I try to flip through my photo carousel. The layouts are in backwards order. Open the carousel to any two face-to-face layouts. Turn the page to look at the one you think will be next. Instead of turning the page that is on the right, I have my carousel set up so you turn the page on the left.

Well! That won't work.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Pen Angle

Since I use a tablet instead of a mouse, I come across tablet issues every now and then that surprise me. I was using the Cricut Design Studio software, which is a simple shape manipulation application.

I had to click on the outline to select a shape that I wanted to move. I could not do it. I felt foolish. I had precision, I had control, why couldn't I click on that darned outline?

It turns out that the Wacom pen angle confuses the Cricut Design Software a bit. In order to select the outline of a shape, I must hold the pen so it is at right angles to the tablet, I can't tilt it in my hand. The slightest tilt causes the problem, the pen has to be perfectly upright.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Same Song, Again

People are always asking, "Which digital camera should I get?" on the forums that I read. I never offer suggestions about camera model, I simply offer advice on making choices and where to go looking. My advice is the same for anyone making the switch from point & shoot to DSLR.

If you don't ever plan on taking your camera off Program mode, you might not want a fancy DSLR. You'll be hauling around an elephant gun and you aren't going to need it. Many P&S cameras have lots of settings that you can change. If you never changed the settings on your P&S, what makes you think you will change the settings on your DSLR?

Don't get a camera that you haven't held in your hands. If it doesn't fit in your hands, you are going to hate using it. You can buy on-line if you have tested it in a store somewhere.

You can buy used cameras from reliable sources like B&H and Adorama.

And that's my advice.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Patch Tool

Back to photos again, as I'm tired of sewing things that are bigger than I am.

I had a photo of a friend, who was smiling and looking pretty neat. But she didn't like it, because it showed her laugh lines. And a few other lines. I said that I'd 'Photoshop' it for her to get rid of the lines.

In order to do this quickly and easily, I used the patch tool. It's hiding under the Healing Brush Tool.

To use it, you draw around an area you want to copy. 'Marching ants' appear. You move that selected area over the area you wish to hide and hit 'Enter.' You can use the same selection several times, or you can select a new area. If you are using a mouse, you will have trouble selecting the exact area you want to use. And you'll find that many times, you are suddenly making a new selection, when what you wanted to do was move the selection you had. I blew the photo up to about 200% for some of the fine lines, but 100% or so was OK for a lot of other areas.

Anti-alias is a term that describes how Photoshop draws an image. At an edge, there will be not a black pixel, not a white pixel, but a gray pixel. Or there will be a blending of pink, yellow, brown and purple pixels to create a skin tone. If you zoom in enough, You can see that Photoshop does not do a perfect cut and paste of your selected area, but uses anti-alias to blend the edges a teensy bit. This is one of the few times that I like anti-alias. Usually, I'm fighting it.

To protect her identity, I'm just going to show a small area of her jawline before I patched it.

And this is after I patched it. I didn't want to be too aggressive. I could have smoothed out everything, but then I don't think she'd look human.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Bed Evening Gowns

I bought several different, coordinating fabrics to make a bed skirt and hangings years ago, when I got a canopy bed. The bed skirt was to be a celery green moire cotton and have an over layer of a green-purple flip flop sheer. I got enough to do box pleats, for triple fullness, and even debated having the skirt puddle on the floor slightly. The hangings were to be in royal purple cotton velvet with matching bobble trim. I showed Bud the velvet for the hangings and he touched it and sort of smiled. He's a guy. Anything purple, even royal purple, is not macho. It can only be excused as making the wife happy.

I'm finally using the fabric. I'm working on the bed skirt first. I've only finished the part that goes at the foot so far, but I like it. Bud was strongly anti-puddle, so it just touches the floor. When I tucked the partly finished bed skirt at the foot of the bed, Bud declared that we were not going to have a bed skirt. We were going to have a bed formal gown. It is a very lush look and exactly what I wanted.

Last night, I teased Bud by draping the bobble trim all around the canopy of the bed. Then we watched "Revenge of the Nerds" on cable, and climbed into a bed draped with purple bobbles. Rather nerd-like. Bobble trim makes me smile each time I look at it. I couldn't help it, I found it to be so funny it was difficult for me to stop laughing.

Bud then mentioned that with the hangings and the formal gown, we were going to need a bedspread next. And that it would be almost impossible to purchase one that matched. I'd probably have buy fabric and make it. Killjoy.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


Why do I take pictures?
It is my interface to the world, how I interact with it. My husband pointed out that if I'm not taking pictures of it, I am usually distant from it. If my life is going well, I take pictures of it. When I'm unhappy/uncomfortable, the camera stays in the case.

What are my goals in photography?
I'd like to get better at managing my camera and light. I'd like to have the ability to respond better to the light that's available and use it successfully, both by setting up the camera correctly and by adjusting the light.

What do I take pictures of?
Things and people around me. Things I interact with.

Can I achieve my goals taking pictures of things like that?

Friday, July 2, 2010

A Case of Aha!

One of the reasons I'm not doing a lot of digital scrapping is that I'm not very happy with what my finished layouts look like. They don't feel interesting, they just feel 'slapped together' and I think they all look alike. I was looking through older layouts and I realized that I'm falling into a rut. If the embellishments that I choose are made by the same person and I'm not thinking creatively, I'm not going to get anything that I like out of the time I put in.

I'm going to stop using that designer's kits and go back to using the designer that got me really interested in digital scrapping. Sorry Flergs, I'm heading back to Ztampf! Instead of providing me with complete kits, down to elements with shadows already applied, Fhung gave me a starting point and I created from there.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Deleting Duplicates and Naming Conventions

I had one of those 'Misc' folders in my photo files. I had carefully saved photos from several different computers, from zip files, from camera cards, and CDs into this one folder. I finally took the time to go through it one photo at a time and sort them out properly. I had more duplicate files than I'd realized. Better that than to know I have a photo and not be able to find it. Many of my early digital photos are very small. While I deleted a lot of duplicates, I only deleted about 1 GB of data.

Since I changed the organization of my photos, I'm going to hook up my second EHD and make sure that my local data backup is up to date. My Backblaze backup will automatically update itself. With my non FIOS connection (can you hear me whining?) it won't be quick, but it is automatic.

I use a date and description system for sorting my pictures. Before 2005, they are sorted by subject and sometimes also by date. Pictures after 2005 are sorted by year, with a separate folder for each event during that year. For example, inside the '2008 Photos' folder, there is a '2-14-08 Valentines' sub-folder. I store the pictures with the alphanumeric name the camera assigns. I'll append to the alphanumeric if I edit the photo, so I won't confuse the original DSC6442.jpg with DSC6442adjusted.jpg. I'll re-name the photo to 'Roses for Valentines 2008.jpg' only if I share it.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Not Keeping Everything

I've finally realized that it doesn't make sense to keep everything. Not every shot, not every dud. I've decided that it's time to go through my collection of recent photos, many of which I took for practice, and only to keep the ones that are truly worthy of keeping. Not all the failures.

Why am I doing this? I spent a lot of time taking pictures of that mini-book. I took well over 200 photos. I only think that about 25 are worth keeping. That's a high percentage of keepers, but I spent a lot of early trials getting the settings correct. For most shoots, I don't have nearly as many keepers.

When I was a photography student using film, I remember being told that out of a roll of 36-40 shots, there would only be 1 keeper, if we were lucky. I took a lot of pictures, developed a lot of film, and what with developing issues on top of the camera setting issues, if I got 1 keeper from a roll of 36, I was content. Now, I don't have to deal with errors in developing, so I think 1 out of 25 makes more sense.

I've improved my chances. Instead of a 2.5-3% chance of getting a keeper, I've moved up to a 4% chance. Do I really want to move up higher than that? Yes. But that's going to take a lot of work thinking about light and a much more user-friendly tripod.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Pictures Ahead!!!

I made this book. I started with a 7 Gypsies blank envelope book that I got as a door prize at one of the crops at Angela's. I used Club Scrap "Sparkle" paper and embellishments, but I also put in a some from my stash. I took lots of pictures. Brace yourselves!

The Front Cover

Inside the front cover and page 1.

Pages 2 and 3.

Pages 4 and 5.

Pages 6 and 7.

Pages 8 and 9 have an interactive so I showed it both open and closed. Open first...

And now closed.

Pages 10 and 11.

Pages 12 and Lucky 13.

Pages 14 and 15.

Pages 16 and 17.

Pages 18 and 19.

Page 20 and the inside back cover.

The boring back cover.

Winning and Losing

I have won the race with the sun for today. I made a note of the times I had my better exposures yesterday, and I had my camera set up to finish taking pictures of my mini book today. That would be a win. I got the rest of the pictures well exposed.

However, I've discovered what camera shake looks like. Ugh. See, when you know the frame is in focus, and there is still blurr, it's not focus, it's shake. Even at faster shutter speeds, if you enlarge your digital image to 100%, you can see it. Sigh. Super sigh. I can't set up on a tripod to take these shots, I'm already standing on a table to get the good light. For my next trick, I'm making myself a light box. I'm tired of fighting with the sun and the table and my horrible set up.

Every time I conquer one thing, I discover another thing I've got to master. FWIW, even using one of those 'fake sunlight' lamps does not produce the same color light at the actual sun does.

Racing the Sun

I've heard so much about this, but I've never really had to work with it. The sun moves faster than you think it will and direct, bright sunlight is awful to deal with. It doesn't matter if it is sunrise, it is still a pain.

Sunday, June 27, 2010


Sigh. Every time I think I've done at least part of something right to capture a good photo, I find there are still other things that are not right and the picture did not turn out as planned. It can be quite frustrating. Part of the time, I'm having failures because I don't have the correct equipment. Part of the time, It is because I'm not using my equipment correctly.

At least I'm no blaming it on equipment failures. That's just a way bad photographers refuse to admit that they are bad. Back to square one. Again.

Saturday, June 26, 2010


That's slang for connecting a computer to a cell phone and using the phone's connection. But it also means that you have connected your digital camera to your computer and you are saving and examining your photos immediately after tripping the shutter.

I used to think that shooting tethered was reserved for pro photographers. No longer. I just took a whole lot of shots adjusting the light, adjusting my exposure and adjusting my filters. I don't know what settings I'm going to like best. Once I figure it out, I'll be able to replicate it, but I just took about 90-95 shots of a 10 page book, with covers, that I recently finished. It is entirely possible that I wasted a good deal of my time taking pictures with the wrong set-up entirely.

Gaahhh! I don't like the light for any of the shots. I'll just have to wait for a different time of day and start entirely over. Oh well.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Gathering Numbers

In my quest to get the serial numbers for all of my camera equipment, I've included anything that has a serial number at all. This means that I've now noted the serial numbers of sewing machines, stereo equipment, TVs, VCRs, and printers.

The list of items that have serial numbers is almost silly. But it's one of those 'in case of disaster' things that we all should have, but usually don't. We also have things, like my Lego sets and our DVDs and CDs that should be documented as well. I'm considering creating a spreadsheet to store this information and then it will be backed up, off site and safe.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Should Do

Thom has a list of things that photographers should do, but don't. It's a short list.

Use a lens hood.
Keep the camera body clean, not just the lens.
Keep shortcuts handy.
Carry (and USE) your tripod.
Walk there, don't zoom in.
Keep serial numbers with you.
Manipulate the light.
Read the manual.

Manipulating the light is a thing that I have not been doing as well as I'd like. I had some potentially good shots that I missed, because I did not use a flash. I'll be able to go back and try again, because they are landscape shots. I'll also try using gels on my flash, to further manipulate the light.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Good Water, Bad Water

The goal when taking pictures of waterfalls, is often to have the water look 'smooth' and 'silky.' In order to get this, you must use long exposures.

According to that, I've just taken both good and bad pictures of waterfalls. Here's a 'bad' one.

Yes, I used a tripod, and cable release. I set the camera for 1/30 of a second and used f 5.6. The water is blurred, but not smooth.

I stopped down to f 16, used a shutter speed of 1/6 of a second and got this one.

The water is smooth. Please don't think that I framed up these not so interesting shots of water falling, I've cropped down to a lower resolution section of each image, so I don't overload a web browser.

But think about what I had to do. I had to go to a shutter speed that was one fifth of the speed of the first one, to get the smooth water effect. I shot in the still of the morning. The trees (that you can't see) are also in focus, as there was no wind to stir them and make them blur with that long exposure. I had moved my camera down to the lowest ISO setting that I could, which for the settings and lens that I was using would be ISO 100, or pretty darned slow. There are a few things I can do to get slower than that, but I wasn't willing to go through the process for test shots.

What if I couldn't find water in shadow, and there was so much daylight that a slow shutter speed at the lowest possible ISO setting would have gotten me nothing but a blown out, over exposed failure? I could use a special filter that cuts down the amount of light getting through to the camera sensor. These are called neutral density filters and they come in 2, 4 and 8 density, cutting out two, four or eight f stops worth of light. I'm thinking that a 4 would be a good place to start, and the next one I'd get would be an 8.

Another thing to realize is that there is no one perfect exposure setting. To some folks, the 'bad' water shot looks just fine. And in truth, there isn't a whole lot that is wrong with it. It simply doesn't look the way I wanted it to look, with smooth, silky water.

With experience, I will learn what shutter speeds will give me smooth water. I couldn't say for sure that 1/8 of a second, or 1/15, or 1/20 would work to give smooth water. I know that 1/6 does work and that 1/30 does not. I need to take more pictures and test. And a shutter speed might work for a waterfall, and not for a fountain, with individual droplets of water falling that are widely separated. Right now, I'm just playing around with my camera, gaining experience. Do I ever expect to need this skill? I doubt it, but it certainly is fun to learn new things!

My Workflow

Because I've been reading Thom, I've been thinking about my own workflow. It' is quite simple, mostly because I still don't do a lot of post processing. I don't use Lightroom, nor do I use plug-ins. I should, but I mostly take snapshots. I admit it.

I do have a sort of a workflow, though. The first thing I do when I get in from a photo taking session is remove the card from my camera (cards from my camera bag) and copy the files into folders on my EHD. This initiates a back up process, because of the off site backup that I use. Backblaze. Yeah! The backup is automatic, but it does take a little time. I shoot in RAW and .jpg, so I keep the files separate, with a sub directory for RAW files. That might change, as I work more with RAW.

Next, I pop open the images in Bridge and I've started doing a delete the sucky ones step. I used to keep everything, but why? I don't work with small files.

Then I look as the keepers and I'll decide what, if anything, I want to do with them. Most of my pictures just sit on that EHD.

Only after I've decided what I want to do with them will I decide on what steps I want to take to get to that goal. If all I want is a snapshot, I won't do much post-processing. If I want something much nicer, I will get to work.

Saturday, June 19, 2010


Or why snapshots look all snap-shotty.

There are lots of things that the pros do AFTER they press the shutter. The list of things the pros do to their image, which wasn't badly exposed in the first place, goes something like this:

White balance. If shot in RAW, the white balance can and should be tweaked. Auto white balance is not the ideal.

Exposure. But it wasn't badly exposed! The pros are fine tuning things like fill and recovery, to get the exposure at the extremes to be better.

Color. Is the sky a sky blue or an overcast gray? Are the skin tones human?

Lens corrections. Even spending big bucks for a lens does not mean that you won't have pincushion, barrel, or perspective distortions.

Sharpen. To recover the edges that have been mucked up by anti-aliasing. The more I know about anti-alias, the less I like it.

Contrast. Because thin is not a good thing. And often, contrast gets adjusted again after a different adjustment is made.

Remove things. Not 'Photoshopping' out that extra person, but removing things like noise adjustments that aren't needed or wanted. Did the camera adjust the vibrance? It's gotta go.

It goes without saying, but I am saying it anyway, all these edits are done to a COPY of the original image. And the list can and will change for each photographer. It depends on the order in which they like to work, the type of photos they are taking, and if they are producing hundreds, like a wedding photographer, or a handful, like a landscape photographer.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Thinking about Photography

I constantly think when I'm taking pictures. I think about the light, where it is and it isn't. I think about framing shots. I think about making adjustments to the settings that I'm using. I think about where the next shot is going to be, what the action will be, and if I can get a picture of it. I think about the pictures that I've got and if the set is complete, or if there is action that I need to capture.

There are a lot of things that I think about in advance, so I don't have to think about them while I'm shooting. I think about what lens to use where, I think about my flash settings, I think about tripod use. I think about options, so if I am faced with a setting that is different from what I expect, I've got my alternative planned out.

Today, I have to photographic goals. I want to shoot a photo with really short depth of field and I want to take a night shot of water. I'll try a daytime shot of water, as well, so I can compare. The problem is, I need a filter that I don't own to get the daytime shot. Drat. I might get by with a close up, using a telephoto. And I'm thinking again.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Photo Challenge

Use different light. Use a flash, use a pop-up flash, use ambient light, tungsten bulbs, I don't care. Just use a different light than you usually use. Then, open your image in your photo editing software and make that different light either as good as it can be, or as wrong as it can be. Make a note to yourself why it is wrong or good.

This is Too Easy!

Not shopping for digital scrapping stuff is way too easy. I had thought it would be a challenge and I'd have to struggle with it. Nope!The designers that I like are putting out kits that look a whole lot like kits that I already own. I'm not looking around for new designers. There is nothing new and different to buy, so I'm not tempted to shop. Not something that I want to be true. I'd like for there to be new and different things, but there aren't.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


What the dickens is Bokeh? It is the ability of a lens to be out of focus in a good way. Imagine you are taking a portrait. The person is in front of an expensive, blotchy, painted canvas backdrop, with the paint smeared, streaked, and dripped on to look like nothing in particular, but a nothing that compliments skin tone when it is out of focus. The lens with good bokeh will blur that background in a way that is pleasing. There will be an overall softness to the out of focus background. If the lens has poor bokeh, it will have regular hexagons or circles in a distracting pattern of out of focus shapes.

Most mid-range lenses like the ones that I own have poor bokeh. If I get to a point where I care about what my out of focus areas look like, I'm not going to dash out and get new lenses. I'll fix it in Photoshop.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Perhaps I Won't, But Really?

The brother of the bride doesn't want his picture taken. He made loud and relatively aggressive statements about it. OK. You don't want your picture taken. But your sister is getting married to one of my very good friends. You WILL be in some photos. Or you could just put a bag over your head... Fercryingoutloud! You are sitting next to the bride. Are you completely self-centered? As it happens, I think so.

The funny part? One of his nieces said in passing, "Just use a telephoto." Her dad is also a shutterbug with a Nikon D300. And a faster telephoto lens than I've got. Odds are, there are more photos of this man than he knows.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Ding! Ding! Ding!

I'm not buying scrapping kits and therefore not spending my time shopping for things to buy, and I've started improving my Photoshop skills again. I am improving my skills to better use the things that I already own. Hmmm... If I only have so much time to spend on a hobby and I spend it shopping for things to use for that hobby, I'm not spending any time doing that hobby. I can tell myself that shopping for stuff counts, but I'm finding that it doesn't. If I buy stuff that I don't use, all I am doing is wasting my time and money.

I'm not even buying new books to learn from. I already owned "Layers".

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Learning Curve Again

I am going through Matt Kloskowski's "Layers" reference book. I looked at it back when my Photoshop learning curve was still pretty steep. I'd grasped enough of the basics of working with layers that I set the book aside after glancing through it and grabbing a couple of nifty tricks.

I'm now going through it, chapter by chapter, lesson by lesson and I'm picking up a whole lot more nifty tricks as well as sorting out some techniques that were a bit blurry in my brain. Some of the things that Matt teaches are things that I don't do. For instance, I don't group my layers. I'll link them, but I don't group them. I usually don't name them, either.

Naming and grouping are techniques that I file away under a 'best practices' heading. If I were doing work that others would see, and perhaps even edit, I'd name and probably group my layers.

Matt also lives and dies by keyboard shortcuts. I'll admit, knowing a few of these is going to be very helpful, but I don't like to put down my pen to tap on the keyboard. It becomes a pause in my work flow to use a keyboard shortcut. And learning too many keyboard shortcuts at once is confusing.

Simply performing the exercises is not enough to really learn the things that Matt teaches in his book. The exercises are excellent, the directions are detailed without being confusing, and I understand what I have just done. But for the information to really sink in, I've got to use it in my own work. I go through a chapter then I work on my own projects, using some of what I've learned. Then I go through another chapter.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Me or My Environment

Since I'm always the person holding the camera, I can't take pictures of me. But I can take pictures of my environment, so that's what I do. I mentioned that to Wonderful Husband and he protested that he took pictures of me for my birthday. That was in September. It is now June. There are a few photos of me from December, but Hubby didn't take them. There are a couple from New Year's. That's when I realized that my camera didn't fit Hubby's hands, and changed the set up to fit both of us by adding a battery pack.

But hubby doesn't take pictures, I do. He thinks that he takes pictures, but he doesn't. I've gotten used to it. I can't change it. I wish I could, but it won't happen.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

File Sizes and Types

I was talking with a man who calls himself a photographer. A hobbyist, but still a shutterbug. He doesn't do much post-processing and uses Photoshop Elements to work with his images. He thinks he gets five good shots out of each hundred he takes. He also does not bother with shooting in RAW, as he says it takes too much time.

Hello? How can it take too much time? I press the shutter, the camera records an image. I'm capturing both .jpg and RAW. It takes a few extra seconds to copy the files, as I separate them in my file system, but that would be the big difference.

I want to capture the most data that I can for each picture. There is no point in owning a camera capable of taking huge photos, and then taking teensy little images with it. I can't work with a photo that is teeny. There isn't much you can do with it. If a photo is huge, I can make it smaller, but I can't take a small photo and make it large.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

And More Curtains

I finished the studio curtains in no time flat and have been plugging away at pinch pleats for the great room sliding glass door. These are the largest curtains I'm willing to tackle and they are not small. I spent a lot of time working on the math for these windows and it's paying off. They are coming out well.

Sunday, May 23, 2010


Wonderful hubby put up a curtain rod for me weeks ago and I haven't yet created the curtains for my studio. It is time. I'm going to create those curtains today. I've had the fabric and the trim for a while. It shouldn't take too long. They will be simple sheers with purple bobble trim on the edge. I can't look at bobble trim without smiling. And because my girly soul wants it, a ruffle at the top, too. Fluff!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Digital Kit Shopping

These days, I'm not finding digital kits that interest me enough to buy them. It isn't that the kits are poor quality. I simply have most of the things that I need or want. And if I don't have them, I can create them.

I read about women who will buy a kit and then only use it to make a couple of pages. They are constantly shopping for something new. Once they find it, they play with it briefly, and then they are off shopping again. I like to think that I use a kit for more than a couple of pages. If I look objectively at my stash, there are kits I use again and again and there are kits that I don't use at all.

My frugal soul has taken note of this and until I have used more of my stash for creating pages, I won't feel comfortable buying more. I can't help but think that the more I use my stash, the more content I will be with what I already own. The majority of my stash could be used to scrap anything at all. I've got a limited number of holiday kits, but mostly, I get digital items that could be used for any event. I've also got a lot of templates and actions to create effects and textures with things that I already own.

My challenge to myself is this: I will continue to create layouts and I will not purchase anything additional for my stash until I am absolutely, completely bored with the items that I own. And not just irritated that I don't already own the perfect item, but can't work through this problem any other way but to get something new, no ideas left and no inspiration can be dragged out of my brain bored.

With the inspirational references that I have and the stash that I've got, I expect not to be bored for several years.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Blog Editing

I had created a blog background to use on this blog and then I did something goofy and it wasn't the right size for my own computer screen resolution. I created a different blog background and then I didn't correct the link I was using to get it to load into my blog. Silly me.

Just now, I did the edits and the background looks OK on my own screen. However, in order to make sure that I had done the correct edit, I had to turn myself into a Java encoder for HTML. Let's skip all the geeky technicalities and just say that I had to do by hand what a competent java tech could do in seconds. Sometimes it is really annoying having some of the understanding and none of the tools.

To avoid repeating my error, I'm going to delete the bad background, so I don't accidentally use it anywhere else. I don't often delete files. Drive space is so cheap.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Exposure Compensation Works!!!!

I spent a day shooting. Indoors, outdoors, funky light, flash lighting, fill flash in full daylight.

And you know what? Exposure compensation is wonderful. I got some decent shots because I was running that dial to adjust.

Here's what I discovered. Set the camera on P if you really need to get shots quickly. There are too many things you need to fiddle with otherwise. Then, I actually started fiddling with the exposure compensation and getting to know when I'd need to crank it up or down. P seems to set me up in the middle of the f-stop range. I could adjust up 5 stops or adjust down 5 stops and actually had about the full range. Wow.

Why Knit?

I can't understand why anyone in Florida would want to knit a sweater. I stopped into a yarn store and spotted a whole lot of models on the walls getting dusty. They couldn't sell them, they couldn't sell the yarn to make them. I'm amazed that the yarn store was open at all. Selling yarn for making socks? Yeah, that's going to bring in incredible profit. Two balls of yarn at a time.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

20 Years!

I just realized that I've been on-line for 20 years. Not that on-line is the same, but I've been speaking to folks who are distant, through the magic of my computer for 20 years. Wow.

I started on a luggable computer with a 7" screen and 5.25" floppy drives that you had to swap out to boot the machine up. The screen was bright green on a black background. I could type, but pictures? Not so much. Though I did play 'Loom' when it came out. I bought a bootleg copy in Hong Kong. There wasn't an alternative.

Anyway, I've come a long way from the Zenith laptop that we upgraded to from the I-can't-remember-the-brand luggable. That was a one color screen, too, but we used screensavers. Remember the guy mowing the lawn? No matter what I do, no matter how careful, what machine I get and so on, I end up getting a new computer about every five years. Sometimes more frequently, but five years is a pretty good average. My current laptop turned two this month. The warranty is good for three years after purchase. I might even renew it.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Exposure Compensation or EV

I kept struggling with this setting. I KNEW that it was important, but could not place it into my settings arsenal. Finally! Finally it makes sense.

If I set my camera for Aperture priority, it will automatically read the light and pick a shutter setting that will give me a 'correct' exposure. I use Aperture priority if I want to control my depth of field. If I set Shutter priority, to capture or freeze motion, my camera will set the aperture automatically for a 'correct' exposure.

But lots of times, the settings the camera comes up with are wrong, wrong, wrong. The camera is averaging the exposure according to a formula that might not be right for the light that I'm facing. I don't want to change my Shutter or Aperture setting, the camera will just pick a new aperture or shutter setting that will give me the same incorrect exposure. I don't have time to flip the camera to Manual and fiddle with setting shutter and aperture both. I want that picture and I want it NOW!

That's where the EV or Exposure Compensation setting comes in. It is the override for the average setting that the camera gives. If I snap off a shot and the camera settings gave me something too dark, I can change the Exposure Compensation to be +1 and the next shot will be brighter. For those of us that grew up with f-stops, it will be a full stop brighter. Perhaps the shot is too bright, and things are overexposed. I can set the EV for -2.0 and the picture will come out darker. Adjusting the EV tells the camera that the 'correct' exposure is darker or brighter than it would normally use.

What I must remember about using EV is to check it at the start of each photo session. The wrong EV setting could mean that all my photos are incorrectly exposed because of the light I had the last time I used my camera.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Like Pulling Teeth!

I fought my way through a layout tonight. First Photoshop encountered an error and had to shut down, then, I had a Blue Screen of Death! The first one ever on this laptop. Ugh. And I hadn't saved yet, because I hadn't gotten the layout to a point where I was sure about anything. I'd worked on it, but I was so unsure of the end result, I didn't save it.

After the second try, I was determined to get the silly thing finished. Do I like it? I'm not sure. But it is done and it is saved. I wasn't inclined to try for the next layout, which would be a Christmas one.

Christmas this year wasn't what I'd call a great event. We were in transition, there was plenty of stress floating around and it just wasn't a time full of happiness and joy. We have pictures, but they aren't ones I'm eager to scrap.

Since I work chronologically in digital, I'm taking a bit of a break until I feel like scrapping again. I'll do a limited number of Christmas layouts and then move on.

Monday, April 19, 2010


I'm trying to create some sketches. Not having a lot of luck. I think it's the reference that I'm using. Too basic. I can build on the ideas I'm getting, but I can't build a sketch.

On a different front, Wonderful husband got a printer with wireless ability. I just got rid of the second printer in my studio! Yay! Tonight hubby is out playing Poker with the neighbors. If he comes home early, things did not go well. If he stays out late, he's winning. Do I care? Only in that it will give me more time to play in my studio and try to come up with sketches.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


RAID actually stands for Redundant Array of Inexpensive Drives, and means that instead of writing the file once to one drive, my computer writes to more than one drive. I can't have RAID if I only have one hard drive. I must have more than one. And if I have a second drive hooked up to my computer, but I have to copy files from one drive to another, even if it is automatic to make the copy, it isn't really RAID. The goal of RAID is for the action to happen as the file is being written to the drive.

There are several different types of RAID. I can have RAID set up so my computer is writing part of a file to one drive and part of the file to a different drive. Like having two printers, one printing the odd-numbered pages and one printing the even numbered pages. My print job will finish faster, but I still only end up with one copy. That is called RAID 0 (zero).

In RAID 1, my computer writes the data twice, once to each of two drives. If one drive fails, the data is sitting on the other drive. If both drives fail, I lose data. RAID 1 is also called mirroring. It's actually slower than writing to only one drive, even though my computer is writing to both drives at the same time.

Then there is RAID 5. It doesn't mean that I've got five drives. It means that I have at least three and I could have a whole lot more than three. My computer writes a part of each file to different drives and it throws in some fancy math as well. If I have three drives set up as RAID 5, I'll have 1/3 of the file on the first drive along with a bit of fancy math, 1/3 on the second and that fancy math and 1/3 of the file will be on the third drive with the fancy mats as well. The fancy math allows what is on one drive to be re-created. Say a drive fails. Drat! I go out and buy a new one. I unplug the dead drive and plug in the replacement drive. I tell my computer to get to work and regenerate the lost data. Poof! I have not lost any data, even though a drive failed! Wow. However, if I lose a second drive before I replace and regenerate the first failed drive, I lose all of my data. RAID 5 can be fast.

In between RAID 1 and RAID 5 are several other types of RAID. Some are really good at making computers read files faster, some make computers write files faster. It is possible to combine different types of RAID for even greater redundancy. For example, it is possible to combine RAID 1 and RAID 5. It won't be fast, but the data will be safe.

For most home users, RAID 1, or mirroring, is plenty. While it is slower, it isn't cripplingly slow. It's easy to set up and easy to understand. The most important thing to remember is that it is a mirror. The drives should be the same size, or I will end up wasting space on the larger drive.

Monday, April 12, 2010

This One!

Photoshop CS5 is here.

I want it. A lot.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Put it in a Drawer!

Years ago, I was helping a stroke patient tidy up her nursing home room. There were cards all over the place, magazines, candy, stuffed animals and so on. She was having trouble with her speech, but she managed to get out something that sounded very much like, "Put it in a drawer." We laughed, she repeated herself and we put things into drawers and soon, her room was cleared and looked much better.

I learned a lot about cleaning that day. Today, I managed to deal with three of the large, annoying items in my studio that had been making the room look cluttered and disorganized and had made it impossible to enjoy how large the room actually is. I put them into a closet. They are out of sight and out of the way. My studio looks larger. I like it a lot more.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Ready Before the Moment

If you head over to Think Tank Photography bags, you'll find that "Be ready before the moment" is their slogan. It's something that is critical in photography. You need to have your camera ready, your settings checked, the camera turned on, and the lens cap off to grab the best photos.

March 31, I grabbed my camera bag at the last moment before heading out to volunteer at a golf tournament. I didn't really want to sit at a table and sell 50-50 tickets, but I was prepared to do that if I had to. I was almost prepared to take photos all day.

I hadn't thought through what I'd be doing all day. If I had, I'd have cleared and freshly formatted all of my memory cards. I'd have charged up my re-chargeable batteries and I'd have made sure that I had spare sets of Alkaline batteries for both the camera and the flash. I made it through the day, but I didn't take as many photos as a real pro would have done. I was saving battery life when possible.

I've just spent a few minutes making sure that my gear is prepped. If I get asked to do something like that tomorrow, I'm ready. It isn't enough to own gear. Your gear has to be ready to use.

The March 31 shoot taught me that I need to carry at least 12 AA batteries to have a complete backup set. The camera body takes 8 and the flash takes 4.

A Prediction and Comments

It's been about two months since Lori Davison released a kit. Odds are that something will pop up the Monday after Easter. I'd been watching Lori's kits get darker and darker as Winter went on. They were starting to look depressing and sad. I'd almost say Goth, but they were looking more and more Steampunk, that's for sure. I'm betting that this Easter/Spring kit will be pastels and ducks. She's already done bunny kits twice. If she doesn't do ducks, it will be a Prairie spring. That's just my guess- I could be wrong and I often am.

And after a dry spell that had her creative team struggling to keep their blog interesting, MGL Scraps has returned to creating with a bang. First it was her massive Dreams in Colour set, then she had a collab with Flergs, Indomitable, and now she's guest designer at Scrap Orchard. Welcome back, Monica, and it's good to see you again!

One of my fave designers has let me down. I am always on the lookout for guy friendly kits and Mikroferk's latest is not. It's beautiful and detailed, exquisite, in fact. But I won't be able to use it for my guys, so it's not going in my shopping cart.

Flergs originally caught my eye because she did guy friendly kits and her latest does not fail me. Or is it her latest? She's re-done one of her earlier kits. The ideas and basic design are the same, but since her skills have improved, she re-did the whole kit to her new, higher standard. Can I say yay? I can!

But yanno? I don't use the alphas that come with most digikits. I find them to be too large to use for more than a single word or two for a title. Even when I resize them, they can overpower a photo. What I'd prefer would be fonts, instead. And fonts that I could bold and make italic would be best.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Cooking is also Creating

I've realized that I don't cook a meal, I tend to cook a dish or perhaps two and call that a meal. After watching "Julie and Julia" I got Julia Child's cookbook. She wrote for a novice cook, who worked from a few simple recipes and relied on mixes for a lot of things. I am not a novice, but there are great gaping holes in what I know about cooking.

Yesterday's attempt was a quiche. It was a success, mostly because I already know how to make a good pie crust and I've seen a quiche made. (Thanks Marsaili!) Did I let the hubster know it was a quiche? Yes, but after he started the 'Real men don't eat quiche' thing, I started calling it an egg and cheese pie. He had seconds.

Tonight is leftovers. Hubster usually does not eat leftovers. After working to create a quiche, excuse me, an egg and cheese pie, I'm going to put it on the table again, with something fresh added to the meal. There is more than half left, as there are only two of us and quiche is not a 'light' dish. My challenge isn't figuring out what to add to the meal, it's figuring out the best way to re-heat quiche. Some things do not do well in a microwave. I'd hate to find out that one of them is quiche.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Elbow Room!

After a meltdown about space, Bud and I have decided that we aren't going to have two guest rooms in this house. Our guests aren't paying the mortgage. I am removing the sewing stuff from the front bedroom and we are putting it into the back bedroom. I need the space. But I've been moving a few things around in the front room which is my studio since we got the sewing table out and I'm already thrilled at the change. The room feels like a large room, instead of an overcrowded one. I have a sense that I can actually put things away instead of just find a space for them to fit.


Monday, March 29, 2010

Paper Sketches

I regularly download sketches from at least two sites so I'll have ideas for creating layouts. But the sketches are designed for paper scrappers and don't often translate well to my digital style. Why am I still downloading these sketches? I can't remember the last time I completed a paper 12x12 layout. At least they are free.

At the Horrible Crop last Friday, I was working on a 7 Gypsies envelope book. I got several pages completed, even though I headed for home early. I wasn't using sketches. If you are trying to work with a surface that is 4x6, a layout designed for 12x12 isn't going to do you much good. What I find helps me is a book like "My Creative Companion 2" which has ideas for details to add to a layout. Interesting things to do with embellishments are more useful. A book filled with 12x12 layouts isn't as helpful.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Tonight's Crop

Fail. I arrived at "North Florida's premeir scrapbook shop" in a timely fashion, with paper to scrap this time. I was seated in the middle of nothing. That's right, nothing. If there are nine spaces for people at a crop, and you are in the smack-dab middle, surrounded by eight empty chairs, there is something wrong.

Having showered shortly before I left the house, and having arrived with a paper project, instead of my laptop, I had thought there would be conversation and so forth. No. I was absolutely ignored. Three different groups of people left the crop to go get food. One lady, having realized that I was new, apologized and tried to make amends. Nobody else even mentioned food to me.

No conversation, no food, no door prizes, nothing I wanted to buy. The poor girl at the register when I went to pay for my seat at the crop was confused. The crop costs $10, but you get a store credit for $5. If you select $5 worth of stuff, the crop costs you $5 and your stuff is free. If you don't buy anything, the crop costs $10. I paid $10 to sit by myself and work on my own project.

I don't want to buy more stickers, embellishments or paper. I've got plenty, thanks. If I had selected stuff, I'd have saved money, but I'd have had to bother to select it and then haul it home so I could throw it away. Naah. I'd rather just pay the $10, tell them that they have nothing that I want to buy and leave. Much more satisfying.

And I know how to spell 'premier' but the person who set up the Facebook page for the shop does not. I can't help but find it funny. Pitiful, typical for Florida, but funny.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Camera Shopping

I went shopping for some camera accessories yesterday. I got a battery pack attachment for the D300, a cable release, and a flash diffuser. While it might seem like an odd combination, I had reasons.

Wonderful Husband has large hands. He cannot use the pop-up, built in flash on the D300. His hands get in the way of the flash and there are horrible shadows on the pictures. This means that I've got even more reason to never use that flash and I must be ready to use the other flash instead. But that flash gives red-eye all around. To decrease the red-eye, you need to put a diffuser on the flash.

When you are holding a camera to take portrait shots a lot, you can get frustrated with the way you have to wrap your hand around the camera and try to hang on and hit the shutter. The battery pack not only adds battery, it adds a shutter button where you need it. And it also makes the whole camera larger and I hope easier for Wonderful Hubby to hold.

The cable release is just so I can have a little less shake when using my tripod.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Somerset Digital

Somerset has a digital scrapping magazine. Because it had a feature on one of the designers that I buy items from (Holliewood Studios) I took a peek at it today, thinking I might buy it if the topics were interesting. Ummm... No. Somerset magazines are a haven for the Altered Artist. I saw things that were very well done, but not at all my style. I had no interest in discovering how they were done. And it's a good thing I looked through it before I bought it. The magazine is $14.99 for a single copy!

I'm also wondering why they bother to print copies of a magazine targeted to the digital artist. Why aren't they selling digital copies?

Price is a down check. Media is a down check. Paper? Really? Content is a down check. Three strikes and they are out!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Mouse vs. Tablet

I had to hook up my mouse again for some convenience type task as I hauled my laptop thither and yon and did not want to carry the tablet.


The mouse is NOT as accurate as the tablet. I hadn't realized how used to absolute accuracy I had gotten until I didn't have it any more and I kept expecting it. I'd move the mouse and the cursor might move and it might not. And sometimes it would move a lot and sometimes it would move much at all. Now, this mouse wasn't broken and I wasn't using it on some oddball surface, like shag carpet. It simply was not as accurate as the tablet. I'm never going back. Ever. Even for a short trip, I'll haul the tablet.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Taking Time to Create

Sometimes I create things, sometimes I create order in my things.

My studio is organized and unpacked enough for me to sit down and work! There are a few hiccups now and then, but they are minor. I can't find my waxed linen thread at the moment, but I'm sure it is around somewhere. It isn't the kind of thing that you throw out by accident.

Here's a downside to a huge studio. If I am not careful where I store my stuff, I can spend a lot of time walking across the room to get it. Or, I spend time gathering things together before I sit down to work. I can't just reach out and grab it off the wall. I've got nothing hanging on the walls at all right now. Not even art. That will change.

Friday, March 12, 2010

I Can See!!!

I have finally gotten my dual monitor set-up back in place and I'm using the flat panel for my browser. The resolution is great. I can see! I'm looking forward to doing some digital scrapping again.

But right now, I need to be thinking about what I'm going to do for dinner for my Wonderful Husband. He had to work late and got all grubby. He just called and said that he was getting hungry. Hmmm... Dinner. Dinner?


There is a gathering in NC for folks that I know from on-line. I was debating going for the weekend. Then I checked how long the drive would be. I'm not driving for 8 hours to go to a crop. If it were in South Carolina, I might go. I could see if there is a ride share. I'm still not sure.

There are evening crops in Jacksonville. I think I'll talk to the shop owner and ask her if she wants two things. A web presence, and someone to run a swarm, or a gathering of folks who own Cricuts.

Jacksonville isn't as web savvy as the DC area, but part of it is that the small stores don't have any web presence other than a Google location. There isn't as much benefit to looking up a type of shop on-line. Not all of them will be on line. You still want a phone book. But you don't get a phone book unless you get a home phone. We won't have one. Hmm... I wonder if there is a way to purchase a phone book without getting phone service?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

One Last Box

I'm extremely tired of unpacking, but I'm not done yet. Almost. Close. Only got a few boxes left to deal with. But not done. I'm taking a break because I'm so tired of unpacking.

I will need to close the door to my studio to block out the sound of the TV in the great room. I wanted to hang my large punches on a shoe storage bag on the door. The hooks at the top of the door get in the way, and the door won't close. Now where do I put the punches?

Ugh. I keep having to solve storage problems. Every time I mention this to a family member, they make a suggestion. But they haven't looked at my studio and they don't know what I have already done and tried. My MIL suggested that I use one of the bedrooms as my studio. I'm using the east bedroom as my studio. My husband suggested that I put a sewing table into the closet. I have already put two folding tables in the closet. I used to have one room for paper and one room for sewing. Now I have to put both rooms worth of stuff into one. It's large, but not that large.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Kitchen First, Studio Last

I've been sneaking an hour or two here and there to work on unpacking my studio. Working on my studio space makes me feel much better about unpacking. I've been trying to work on one room at a time. No room is finished, but when I work on a room, I make progress that I can see and take pride in. Today, I worked on the garage and the loft.

My studio will be crammed full of stuff. I don't have a separate room to put my sewing items, so they are wedged in with the paper crafting and my computer, too. It won't be a pretty room, as I was hoping it would be, it will be too full of stuff. Drat. I'm trying to figure out how I can put things away and have the room not look so crammed full of stuff. The solution I keep returning to is that I need to own less stuff.

Oddly enough, because of the magnitude of this transition, I'm feeling comfortable contemplating getting rid of big items. I don't need three sewing machines. The wedding gift from the ex is going to go. I'm simply debating whether I will sell it or donate it. Either way, it is leaving the house and not coming back.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Unpacking the Studio

Since I hauled most of the studio things down in my truck, I've got most of my studio contents here in Florida. We got the storage unit unloaded in one trip. There were five of us and each person was driving a truck. We had room to spare.

My studio contents are here. My studio furniture will arrive on Wednesday. (I hope.) There is no place to put anything. The closet is large, but only has one shelf. I miss the Container Store. I miss Ikea. I'm trying to get the boxes out of the hall and into the closet, so there is room for the furniture to go when it arrives on Wednesday. Will I be able to play in my studio any time soon? Probably not. I'll need to unpack clothing, dishes and other important stuff first.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Location, Location, Location

We had been planning on putting the "Man Palace" in the east room of the first floor. I would then put my studio into the west bedroom on the second floor, to get me as far away as possible from the TV noise. Wonderful Hubby knows that I don't like listening to the TV. I really liked the plan. He'd have his space and it would be large enough to have space to use the Wii.

Surprise! There are no jacks for cable or phone in that room. The TV has to go into the great room and I'll be putting my studio into the east bedroom, instead of the west. It doesn't really matter. I had to wait for him to decide not to try for a wireless connection before I started hauling my boxes up the stairs and into a bedroom.

We are waiting for the movers to deliver our things. In the meantime, we are getting things out of the storage unit, out of Wonderful Hubby's office, and out of MILSO's house. I'm looking forward to having all of our stuff under one roof instead of four.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Thrilled to Pieces!!!

We will be closing on house #3 on Friday. Yes, two days from now, Friday, February 26, 2010.

I've called to have the power and water switched over. We'll have our recycle bin delivered on March 1. The movers have been contacted and our stuff will be delivered ASAP. I don't even have to pay for any time in storage! Next, I need to contact a locksmith, as we have no idea how many different agents have a copy of the house keys.

Stuff is falling into place very smoothly, after a lot of struggle and stress.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


The video card died in my laptop. I have a brick until the Dell Tech can schedule to come out and replace it. I'm not happy owning a brick. Happily, my Wonderful Husband had a computer that he is willing to let me use. But it is just not the same. The same applications aren't loaded, the configuration aren't the same and so on.

Drat. I want the tech to call tomorrow and repair my laptop yesterday. But I'm never happy when my laptop is down. That's why I have on-site service.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Deleting Pictures?

Yep, I'm actually deleting photos. We had put in offers for two different houses. The first one hasn't turned into a signed contract and the second one had a seller who was lying badly. So we aren't getting those houses.

I had taken pictures of the houses inside and out, so I could look at the rooms and plan. But since we aren't getting those houses, I don't want to keep the pictures.

It feels odd to be deleting pictures. I don't do that very often.

Monday, February 15, 2010


A link to your store is not going to be confused with a link to the blog you don't have. Just in case you thought folks might not notice? I noticed. Blogs might contain information about and links to items for sale. But S*H*O*P and B*L*O*G only share an O. Nothing else.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Local Stamping Store

I found another stamping store in Jacksonville. Only they aren't really a stamping store, they are an altered art, ATC store that sells stamps. I won't shop there a lot. The owner was running a class and also running the register. I had to get her attention first to find the Alcohol inks that we had called about and then to actually pay for them.

I can't get into altered art or ATCs and I don't understand them. I'm not that kind of an artist.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Frozen Molasses

Ugh. Why I decided I had to download a digital scrapping kit, I'll never know. Dial-up connections are so slow. How slow is it? Instead of seeing triple digit download speeds, I'm seeing single digit speeds.


I can unzip, sort and tag files faster than I can download them.

Thursday, February 4, 2010


I was at the storage unit today and I started pulling things together to work on a paper project. I decided that it wasn't worth the hassle and put the few things I'd pulled out back into their boxes. I left with some needlework stuff and my crop tool tote. Not having tools with me is akin to a sin. I can scrape by with my Swiss army knife, but I'd rather have a larger selection.

I'm just not willing to pull my paper stuff out of storage to work on it right now. I'm much more interested in this house purchase at the moment.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

No Time to Create

I drove to Florida on Friday and had time to spend with Wonderful Husband on Saturday and Sunday. What with putting things into storage, house hunting, and visiting friends, I haven't had time to do any creating. I also don't want to get stuff out of storage, work on it for a while and then put it back into storage.

I'm looking forward to being able to move into our new place. We are expecting to move in during the first week of March. Sometimes I create things and sometimes I create order. I am really looking forward to the decoration and organization of the house itself and that will get done first.

Monday, January 25, 2010


For a digital scrapper, those letters are meaningless. That huge craft show that's happening this weekend in California? We couldn't care less. As a person who still plays with paper now and then, I'm still not interested in following the happenings. I'm much more interested in (Inter)National Scrapbook Day, when there are sales at most of the digi-stores.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Keyboard Shortcuts

I have a lot of keyboard shortcuts that I use when I'm digi-scrapping. Here are a few of my favorites. Remember, I'm using PSCS3.

I always press Ctrl + 0 (zero) after opening a file, so I can see it as large as it will show on screen with no scroll bars. I think of it as the same as a 'maximize' button. If I want it even bigger, I zoom in by hitting Ctrl and the +/= key. I don't have to shift to get the plus sign, but I think of it as the +. To zoom out, I hit Ctrl and the _/- key. It's the 'minus' key. Again, don't hit the shift key.

I press Ctrl + T to start to transform an object I have put on a layout. The object will have a box with handles around it and I can rotate it or scale it to size. When I like what I see, I press the enter key.

Ctrl + Shift + S will let me save a file as.

If I've got marching ants and I want them to go away, without doing anything, or if they are still hanging around after I've used them, I press Ctrl +D and the ants go away. It's a controlled delete, you are only deleting the ants.

If I want to select an object that is in my layout and get marching ants around that object, I just Ctrl + click on the icon of the object in the layers panel. I'll get marching ants around the object that is on that layer.

If I have several files open in Photoshop (or in any application that lets you open several files, like Word) I can switch the active file by pressing Ctrl + Tab to go to the next open file inside the application. I can hold down Ctrl and press the tab key repeatedly, if there are lots of files open.

Does anyone else see the critical key that lets me control my keyboard shortcuts?

This one would be the exception that proves the rule. When dragging things onto a new file that I want centered (that first piece of paper, for example) I press the shift key at the end of my drag, so the file lands in the middle. It goes like this. I start to drag. I press and hold the shift key. I end my drag. I release the shift key.

What is that advantage of using the keyboard shortcuts? If I have moved my cursor to a specific location, I don't have to move it away from there, set up an action by clicking on choices, and then move my cursor back to just that spot all over again.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Not Art Journaling

There are several very nice projects available for 2010 that are for Art Journals. They last all year, with regular releases of different kits, journal prompts and so on. These Art Journals are getting a lot of chatter. One of them has even got a blog, so folks can see what the project pages other folks are turning out look like.

I'm left brained. I can usually translate back and forth from left brained geek speak to right brained art talk, but when it gets right down to it, I'm left brained. Art Journals are projects for right brained folks. I'm a lefty that can't understand the Art in these Journals. The pages I have seen that are being praised are completely beyond my ability to comprehend. Don't ask me to translate, I can't.

I'm betting that right brained folks can't explain Art Journals to lefties. Logic does not respond to emotion and emotion cannot be swayed through logic.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Tennessee Birdwalk

For some reason, we were discussing migration, and the onset of Spring and this song popped into my head. It's called the Tennessee Birdwalk. These are the lyrics. Occasionally, a background or harmony singer would interject "Chirp, chirp!"

Take away the trees and the birds
All have to sit upon the ground, uum
Take away their wings and
The birds will have to walk to get around
And take away the bird baths
And dirty birds will soon be ev'rywhere
Take away their feathers and
The birds will walk around in underwear
Take away their chirp and the
Birds will have to whisper when they sing
And take away their common sense and
They'll be headed southward in the spring

Oh remember my darling
When spring is in the air
And the bald headed birds
Are whisp'ring ev'rywhere
You can see them walking
Southward in their dirty underwear
That's Tennessee Bird walk

How about some trees so the birds
Won't have to sit upon the ground, uum
How about some wings so the
Birds won't have to walk to get around
And how about a bird bath or two
so the birds will all be clean
How about some feathers so their
Underwear no longer can be seen
How about a chirp so the birds
Won't have to whisper when they sing
And how about some common sense so they
Won't be blocking traffic in the spring

Oh remember my darling
When spring is in the air
And the bald headed birds
Are whisp'ring ev'rywhere
You can see them walking
Southward in their dirty underwear
That's Tennessee Bird walk

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The New System

I'm working with a different system of creating layouts. I'm using my previews to find the papers and elements that I want in Bridge. I'm not just working with one kit.

I'm liking this a lot. I have all sorts of lovely elements that aren't connected to a kit. I've got things like overlays and frames and masks. I knew that I hadn't been using them, but couldn't figure out a way that I could start using them. If the old system is limiting, then try a different system.

Wonderful Hubby and I have a similar opinion of scrapping. If you don't build the page to focus on the photo, you are doing something wrong. the page is just a backdrop to make you look at the photo. If the first thing you look at is the frame, or that really nifty embellishment, it isn't a success. He really likes what I do and it doesn't really matter what it is, if it is a difficult technique or if it is something quick and easy. The goal is to showcase the photos.

Back and Forth with the Kit-Kat Woman

So, Jaguarwoman is asking not only that I read and agree to her TOU, but that I fill out a second set of forms, giving my personal data. It is clear that she is defending her rights to the Nth degree.

It is not as clear what she is doing to protect MY privacy. I don't trust her. An entry on her basic form to submit was NOT marked as required data, but when I left it blank, I got an error message saying that I hadn't filled out all the required parts and that entry was required.

That's a significant oversight in terms of web design. When I add that to the mish mash of navigation on her website, (A link from the home page went to a 404 error?) I don't care if she's designing the absolute ultimate in digital scrapping and giving it all away for free. I don't want her stuff.

Very Different

For a change, I've got photos of an evening out where I didn't spend all of my time behind the camera. There are lots of photos of me. We went out to a type of karaoke bar, and I like to sing, so I sang. And played and danced and my husband took pictures of me.

It is an odd feeling to be scrapping myself.

I'm also realizing that the way I'm currently scrapping, I couldn't give credit should I post a layout. I'm jumping through my kits and picking out the ones that I want for each photo or element. I'm not saving information about the kit or the designer.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

No Cutting Corners!

New Year's Eve, I decided that I didn't want to put the Big Honkin' Flash unit on my camera for the evening. I wanted to stay lower profile and just use the pop up flash.

Bad decision.

I knew what I needed to get good photos and I chose not to use it. I have some nice photos, and I've got some duds. Mostly, I have duds because I didn't have the right flash.

If I know what I need and I have it, it makes no sense not to use it. Otherwise, why did I get it? So I could talk about it, or so I could capture the images that I wanted?

For my next trick, I'm going to work with my flash set to bounce more, and put a deflector on the flash to pop some light into folks eyes to grab a catch light, without red eye.

Monday, January 11, 2010

A Layout Finished and Jaguarwoman

If I don't ever sit down at the computer to scrap, I'll never get digital scrapping done.

I finished a layout this morning and I'm pretty happy with it. Mostly because it is finished, but also because it has those silly birds in it. Whenever we play golf at Mill Cove in Jax, we see these birds wandering about. So I took pictures of them. The paper and embellies are all from Flergs latest kit, Tinker Toy.

I took a look at Jaguarwoman's store. She's got some different graphics, for sure, but the site is a tangled navigation mess. She needs consistent headers on her pages. I'm going to try to download her freebie to see what kind of quality she has going on. So far, what I like is her innovation. What I don't like is how STRONG her colors and designs are. I don't want to create something that's going to overpower my photo. I don't like her need to manually manage her clients. Isn't that what computers are for? To manage routine tasks? And last but not least, she needs to realize that even in fantasy worlds, people come in different races and colors. There are way too many pale people in her collection, and not enough of other skin tones.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Threaded Needle Works

I used to do a lot of embroidery. I gave it a rest when my eyes went wonky, but they've calmed down quite a lot and I have pulled out a piece of canvaswork that I'd started a few years back. As I was working on it, I decided that I hadn't chosen the correct red for a ribbon that twines through the pattern and I have been frogging it out.

The frogging is going well. There are five separate areas I must frog, and I have completed three and am over half done with the fourth.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Digital Housekeeping

That's what I call it when I sort through my files, put them in order and make sure that I've got them backed up to the right locations. It can take more time than most people are willing to give to housekeeping of any type, but I find it useful and relaxing. The OCD in me is soothed.

It is also a way to remind me of what I own and what I want to use next. If you are constantly digging through your stash, you have very little that you forget you own.